Office of Missing Persons Act is Only the First Step in the Long Hard Road to Reconciliation.

By

Don Manu

If those ultra chauvinists who thump the ‘Sinhala only’ drum, do so out of a genuine concern that a separate state of Tamil Eelam will sooner or later be established on Lankan soil if measures are not taken now to prevent its inevitability, they should be amongst the first to hail the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons as a powerful tool in any Sinhala dominated government’s arsenal to thwart future calls for a utopian Tamil Eelam.

First they must understand why there is a need for reconciliation, why there is a need to swallow false pride and compromise. For without it, reality dictates that intransigent Lanka will soon be standing on the brink of being torn asunder.

They should realise that jingoism cannot prevent it, will only precipitate it.

They should realise that an appeal to the power of numbers and thereby, on the strength of it, to espouse that the majority Sinhala race are entitled to special rights, notably the one to trample upon the rights of the minorities, will only fuel calls for Eelam and hasten its creation.

Continue reading ‘Office of Missing Persons Act is Only the First Step in the Long Hard Road to Reconciliation.’ »

Issue of the “Missing”is of Crucial Import to all Sri Lankans Across All Ethnicities

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

A revealing comment was made to me by an infuriated social justice activist last week in relation to disturbing trends that have surfaced in public debate. As he said caustically; ‘when we raise criticism of government policy in discussion, the immediate response within some civil society groups is that of unmitigated fury.’ We are asked immediately; ‘do you want the Rajapaksas to come back?’

Rejecting unacceptable choices

The question that he posed thereafter was as follows; ‘choosing between keeping quiet in face of what may be disastrously wrong and wanting the former regime to come back should surely not be the stark alternatives before us?’ And as my conversationalist remonstrated; ‘why should compromised groups which clearly have an agenda in riding along on the ‘yahapalanaya’ bandwagon as it were, be allowed to drive these debates?’

Here, the discussion concerned the earlier maligned Port City, now renamed in the optimistic eyes of its proponents as the ‘Colombo International Financial City.’ Despite the official trumpeting that all concerns have been dealt with, the quality and content of the environmental protection process commissioned thereto remains contested.

Continue reading ‘Issue of the “Missing”is of Crucial Import to all Sri Lankans Across All Ethnicities’ »

No Details Forthcoming From CV Wigneswaran After Accusing Govt of Injecting Poison into Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Tamil politicians’ allegation that the Sri Lankan army had injected a poisonous drug into former Tamil Tiger combatants while the latter were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by it, is likely to lose steam because those who have made the charge are unable to come up with any names of those who had supposedly died or are gravely ill because of the injections.

The Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Gneshan, told Express on Saturday, that he had asked the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, to collect and give the names and other details of the dead and the sick so that he could take it from there. But till date, Wigneswaran or anyone else in the Northern Provincial Administration had replied to his request, Ganeshan said.

Continue reading ‘No Details Forthcoming From CV Wigneswaran After Accusing Govt of Injecting Poison into Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres’ »

People in the North want Navy to Remain in Order to Prevent Poaching by South Indian Fishermen Discloses Mano Ganesan.

By

Yohan Perera

The people in the North want the Navy to remain there in order to prevent the South Indian fishermen from encroaching into Sri Lankan waters, a Tamil politician said today.

Minister of National Integration, Reconciliation and Languages Mano Ganesan, who was the chief guest at the launch of the Sinhala translation of International Human Rights Charter by Hemachnadra Pathirana in Colombo said the Northern people whom he met recently had informed him that they want the Navy to remain in the North.

“When I visited the North recently the people there want the Navy to remain. When I asked them why they said this is because the Navy could prevent the South Indian fishermen from stealing fish from Sri Lankan waters,” the Minister said.

“I think the country should be aware of these sentiments of the Northern people,” he added.

Continue reading ‘People in the North want Navy to Remain in Order to Prevent Poaching by South Indian Fishermen Discloses Mano Ganesan.’ »

All SLFP Joint Opposition MP’s to resign From District and Electoral Organizer Posts Wihin the Next Few days

By

Disna Mudalige

All Joint Opposition MPs attached to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) will step down from their district and electoral organiser ranks within the next few days, MP Keheliya Rumbukwella said.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Rambukwella said the resignation letters would be sent to the Party Leadership shortly.

MPs Dullas Alahapperuma and Bandula Gunawardena announced their decisions to resign from organiser posts, stating that the resignation letters would be sent to President Maithripala Sirisena today.

Rambukwella said the rest of the JO members would also follow the same line.

Continue reading ‘All SLFP Joint Opposition MP’s to resign From District and Electoral Organizer Posts Wihin the Next Few days’ »

Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan States Firmly thar Existing Buddhist Temples and Buddha Statues in North will not be Removed

By Pradeep Samarakoon and Chaminda Silva

Prisons, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan has said that under no circumstances will anyone be allowed to remove the existing Buddhist temples or statues in the North, and Buddhist monks and devotees had the right to build temples and statues in any part of the Northern Province.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan States Firmly thar Existing Buddhist Temples and Buddha Statues in North will not be Removed’ »

President Sirisena Seeks Blessings from Lord Venkateswara at Thiruppathi to Counter Political Challenge of Mahinda Rajapaksa.


By P.K.Balachandran

Facing a major challenge from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to his authority as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a challenge which could affect his chances in the crucial local bodies’ elections to be held early next year, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena went on a two-day pilgrimage to Tirupathi, which concluded on Sunday.

Sirisena visited the shrine of Lord Venkateswara twice, accompanied by his wife Jayanthi and son Daham.

The President who had spent Saturday night in the hill town, took part in the Suprabhatha Seva performed at 3 am on Sunday. He visited the shrine again later in the day at the time set apart for Very Very Important Persons. The President was accompanied by his wife Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari and and son Daham Tharaka, all three clad in white as per the Sri Lankan Buddhist custom.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Seeks Blessings from Lord Venkateswara at Thiruppathi to Counter Political Challenge of Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Rejects Proposal by Defence Ministry Senior Official to Ban Muslim Women Wearing the |Burqa” or “Niqab” in Sri Lanka.


Believe it or not! The National Security Council (NSC) recently considered a proposal by a top Defence Ministry official to impose a ban on Muslim women in Sri Lanka wearing the burqa or niqab. The burqa is the full body dress, usually black, with a mesh cover over the eyes. This is worn by some more traditionally minded Muslim women. The niqab is similar with only an opening over the eye area.

The MoD official’s proposal, a well informed source said, was based on the recommendations by a controversial top sleuth running one of the country’s intelligence agencies of a service arm. The person has been serving in that top position under the previous Government, too.

The top sleuth had made the recommendation in the belief that radicalisation in the Muslim community has gone beyond control — a point he has been articulating at different security meetings. The MoD official’s proposal to the NSC came thereafter.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Rejects Proposal by Defence Ministry Senior Official to Ban Muslim Women Wearing the |Burqa” or “Niqab” in Sri Lanka.’ »

Mahinda Loyalists to Form New Political Movement Instead of Starting a New Political Party for the Present

By The Political Editor of “Sunday Times”

After the religious rituals ended on Nikini Poya day (on Wednesday August 17), President Maithripala Sirisena, who was at his Paget Road residence found time to read the day’s newspapers.

His attention was drawn to a report of a news conference the ‘Joint Opposition’ leaders had given on the Office for Missing Persons law. They were voicing their protests over the Government “rushing through” the Bill in Parliament without hearing their views or the amendments they wanted to move. Sirisena telephoned one of the participants, Kandy District parliamentarian Keheliya Rambukwella. A onetime Media Minister, Rambukwella is a strong supporter of the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

“I spoke at the news conference about the dangerous consequences from the Office for Missing Persons. I said we strongly believe it is in conflict with the Constitution,” Rambukwella told the Sunday Times. “The next day President Sirisena telephoned me”, he said. He told me that he had read my remarks in the newspapers. The President wanted to have an “independent opinion” about the new Act. I told him that I would consult other members of the ‘Joint Opposition’ and formulate one. Thereafter, he had proposed to discuss the matter with different groups including those from the ‘Joint Opposition’. Rambukwella said they had hoped to send their views by tomorrow and nominate a representative for discussions with Sirisena thereafter.

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Human-Elephant Conflict Should be Converted to Human-Elephant Co-Habitation

by Randima Attygalle

“If we humans are supposed to be the most evolved species, we should be understanding other animal species and work around them. On the contrary, we do our development work assuming that elephants (in this case) will work around us. So we get the bright idea of fixing an electrical fence and driving out these creatures and carrying on with the development project.

Elephants B DrP

They return and find smart ways of breaking the fence and the conflict starts. This is an old story and still recurs,” points out Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, onetime Lead Environmental Specialist for South Asia in the World Bank and the former Director General Wildlife who bemoans that as a country we have failed to understand the ‘scientific means’ of addressing the human-elephant conflict.

“We have only been looking for quick-fix, ad hoc solutions,” laments the independent researcher on elephant behavior presently working in the Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks. In an interview with Sunday Island, the Environmental Specialist elucidates on ways and means of championing human-elephant co-existence.

“We are basically fire-fighting,” reflects Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya who reiterates that human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a phenomena which needs to be comprehensively studied starting from the point of fathoming ‘why do we have an elephant problem and what are we going to do and what are the constraints of not been able to do so’.
Continue reading ‘Human-Elephant Conflict Should be Converted to Human-Elephant Co-Habitation’ »

One Year After Winning August 2015 Parliamentary Elections the Govt is on track Politically and Straying Economically

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“If the ‘development’ of a country goes hand in hand with the worsening of the living conditions of the people, for whom or for what is that development? A developed country for a malnourished people – is this not an insanity? Must the people of the country gaze at highways like a child looking yearningly at an empty ice cream cup?
– A student-participant of the 2007 essay competition to commemorate President Premadasa

In 1994, when South Africa was readying for its first democratic election, Nelson Mandela came up with an unusual idea – to lower the voting age to fourteen. Despite his iconic status, part-hero, part-saint, the proposal didn’t go far. It was abandoned due to strenuous opposition from the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

In making such a drastic proposal, Mr. Mandela might have been motivated by the critical role played by school-age children in the anti-Apartheid struggle, especially the legendary Sweto Uprising. Whatever his reasons, the proposal was not a sensible one, as Mr. Mandela himself realised – admitted. While the ANC’s top decision-making body was flaying his proposal, he jotted down every criticism in a notebook, and wrote at the end that his proposal was ‘a grave error of judgement’

ii. That was democracy, at its best and most effective.

Had Nelson Mandela’s neighbour Robert Mugabe come up with a similar idea, it would have probably become law, amidst a cacophony of praise by an unending string of acolytes.

In governance, speed is a virtue, only if the path is the right one. Non-democracies might move faster than democracies, but more often than not the movement is in an erroneous direction. Democratic leaders are not infallible, not even leaders of Nelson Mandela’s calibre, but the checks and balances present in democracies often prevent countries from hurling themselves down precipices.

The less space there is for dissent, the more room there is for bad decisions.

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s VAT imbroglio is symbolic both of what is right and what is wrong in today’s Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘One Year After Winning August 2015 Parliamentary Elections the Govt is on track Politically and Straying Economically’ »

Chief Minister Wigneswaran is the Bottleneck and Constraint for Reconciliation and Development

By

Kanthar Balanathan

The Northern Province population of 993,741, is 31.92% of the total population of 3,113,247 Tamils in the island. The remaining 68.08% of Tamils live outside the Northern Province.

The population composition of Tamils by district is:

Jaffna -577,745 -18.56% of total Tamil population

Mannar – -80962 – 2.6% -do-

Vavuniya -142,561 – 4.58% -do-

Mullaitivu -81,263 – 2.61% -do-

Kilinochchi -111,210 – 3.57% -do

Probability of merging of Eastern Province with the Northern Province is zero. Current Chief Minister of the Eastern Province is a Sri Lankan of Muslim origin. Sri Lanka does not wish to have another separatist war to give a provincial administration to the Muslims. It is wise that the Tamils accept the current level of provincial administration – Northern Provincial Council (NPC), and live socially integrated and humanely with the majority Sinhala people in the North. The Eastern Province should practise democracy, and live socially and humanely with the Tamils and the majority Sinhalese in the East. Muslims of Sri Lanka are not fools to be charmed into your foolish diplomacy and sneaky plans. They would like to administer the East as Sri Lankans. Therefore, please stop promoting your supporters around the globe to attract Muslims, by giving them media assistance etc.

It is strongly advised that Mr. CV Wigneswaran concentrate on developing the North, and look forward to modelling the North as an intellectually and technologically advancing province, instead of chattering gobbledygook politics. Mr. Wigneswaran: You are not young enough to understand 21st century modern politics and democracy and, therefore, you should step down and give the position to a younger person.

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Higher Education Minister Kiriella Besieged in Canteen Gives Written Assurances Under Duress to Escape From Eastern Varsity Undergrads

by Saman Mallawarachchi

Undergraduates of the Eastern University yesterday held Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella incommunicado for hours till he agreed to give them a written assurance that he would solve the problems they were faced with.

The minister arrived at the university around 9.30 am to declare open several buildings, but the students stopped his car at the entrance to the university, demanding that their grievances be redressed. The students surrounded the minister and shouted slogans condemning the government for not attending to the problems of the undergraduates. They threatened that they would not allow the minister to attend the ceremonies scheduled for yesterday unless he agreed to solve their problems.

When the beleaguered minister agreed to listen to their problems the students accompanied him to the students’ canteen.
Continue reading ‘Higher Education Minister Kiriella Besieged in Canteen Gives Written Assurances Under Duress to Escape From Eastern Varsity Undergrads’ »

US Embassy Says USAF Medical Team is not Equipped to Investigate Allegations About Poisoning of Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres.


By P K Balachandran

The United States has backed out of an undertaking to medically examine former combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had allegedly been injected with a poisonous drug when they were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by the Sri Lankan army.

The Chief Minister of the Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, had told the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) that he had requested the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap, to get the US Air Force medical team camping in Jaffna to examine the suspected cases of poisoning. Upon this, the Ambassador said that the team would look at the cases and decide what to do next.

Following this, about 30 former cadres of the LTTE expressed a desire to be examined by the USAF team.

Continue reading ‘US Embassy Says USAF Medical Team is not Equipped to Investigate Allegations About Poisoning of Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres.’ »

FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian Citizenship Can be Revoked only if Sri Lankan Citizenship is Guarenteed by Govt.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Australian government has told the breakaway JVP faction, the Front-line Socialist Party (FAP) that it could revoke its leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian citizenship only if Sri Lanka guaranteed he would be given Sri Lankan citizenship again

FSP spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda said that their leader wanted to revert to Sri Lankan citizenship though he obtained Australian citizenship during the previous administration. Jagoda was responding to a query by The Island at a media briefing at Rajagiriya on Friday.

Jagoda said that Australia required an assurance in writing from the government of Sri Lanka to proceed.

Continue reading ‘FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian Citizenship Can be Revoked only if Sri Lankan Citizenship is Guarenteed by Govt.’ »

President Sirisena Threatens to Reveal Secrets of SLFP Rebels if Attempts are made to form New Political Party.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday threatened to reveal it all if the SLFP rebels formed a new party. He said the SLFP-UNP coalition would continue till 2020 and what it planned to do next would be disclosed at that time.

The president was addressing a large gathering in Matara to mark the first anniversary of the government.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera were among the leaders present on the occasion

The President vowed that opponents would not be allowed to disrupt their programme.

Warning the Joint Opposition against forming a new political party, the president said that in such an eventuality he would reveal all their secrets, which he had not disclosed so far.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Threatens to Reveal Secrets of SLFP Rebels if Attempts are made to form New Political Party.’ »

Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene Dismisses Claims of Tamil Politicians that Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres were Poisoned by Govt.


State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene has dismissed the claims by the Tamil politicians in the North that the rehabilitated members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been poisoned by the Government when they were undergoing rehabilitation at Government camps.

Sri Lanka’s Tamil politicians have alleged that 105 former LTTE members have so far died mysteriously, after being injected with a drug when they were undergoing post-war rehabilitation in Sri Lankan army run camps.

“It is sad to hear some politicians in the North making false allegations when the Government is making a genuine effort to resolve the issue of the Northern people,” the State Minister was quoted as saying in a report in The Hindu.

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FCID Informs Colombo Magistrate That Sujani Bogollagama Got Admitted to National Hospital Paying Ward to Avoid Being Arrested

The Financial Crimes Division (FCID) of the Police today informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate, that Sujani Bogollagama, a director of N.R Consultant and Govers Corporation had admitted herself to the paying ward of the National Hospital, to avoid arrest.

The Colombo Fort Magistrate ordered to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to examine the suspect Sujani Bogollagama and hand over a full report on her state, on August 22.

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Jaffna Investment Forum May Become An Issue Between Governor Cooray and Chief Minister Wigneswaran

By P.K.Balachandran

The Governor of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, Reginold Cooray, is organizing an international investment forum in Jaffna on August 22, and is planning to set up a One-Stop Shop at the Jaffna Secretariat to help persons wanting to invest in the war-devastated Northern Province.

But this move could become an issue between the Governor, representing the Central government in the province, and the elected Chief Minister of the province, C.V.Wigneswaran. By organizing the forum unilaterally, the Governor may be intruding into the domain of the Chief Minister, his Board of Ministers and the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), political observers said.

Asked at a press conference here on Thursday, if he had taken the Chief Minister on board, and whether the CM and the NPC were involved in the organization of the event, Governor Cooray said that when the Chief Minister came to see him on some other matter, he had told him about the investment forum and invited him to it. “The Chief Minister had no objection to it,” Cooray said.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants Maithripala Sirisena to Take Responsibility for Splitting Sri Lanka Freedom Party

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said today that President Maithripala Sirisena must take responsibility for the spilt within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

He also said the President was conspiring to give the UnIted National Party (UNP) the upper hand.

He was referring to the President’s decision to remove members of the Joint Opposition from organizing posts in the party.

‘This persecution has effectively caused a split in the party,’ the former President claimed, in a statement.

‘Such changes are designed to weaken the SLFP and give the UNP the upper hand when it comes to an election.’

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Cabinet Approves National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-affected Displacement Presented by DM Swaminathan

The proposal by D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, to accept the national policy on durable solutions for conflict-affected displacement, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The policy was prepared with the consultation of ministries, national, provincial and district level stakeholders, UN agencies, Civil Society organisations, and displaced communities.

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Northern Governor and BOI will hold Investment Forum in Jaffna on Aug 22 with President, PM and CB Governor Participation

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Government is hoping for a leg up for the Northern Province from an investment forum that targets key segments of the local economy and hopes to attract fresh investors to the job-starved region.

Organised jointly by the Northern Governor Reginald Cooray and the Board of Investment (BOI), it is expected to be held in Jaffna on 22 August with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy is also expected to address the gathering.

Continue reading ‘Northern Governor and BOI will hold Investment Forum in Jaffna on Aug 22 with President, PM and CB Governor Participation’ »

Four elephants Including a Calf Killed by Speeding Mail Train Between Chettikulam and Madhu in Vavuniya District


By P.K.Balachandran

In a tragic incident early in the morning on Wednesday, four elephants, including a calf, were killed when they got in the way of a speeding train near Madu in North West Sri Lanka.

The elephants were crossing the track when the Colombo bound night mail train dashed against them, police said.

The accident occurred between Madhu and Chettikulam in Vavuniya district. The police in Parayanankulam and the Wild Life Department have launched investigations into the incident.

Continue reading ‘Four elephants Including a Calf Killed by Speeding Mail Train Between Chettikulam and Madhu in Vavuniya District’ »

Northern CM Wigneswaran Asks US Envoy Atul Keshap to let USAF Medical Team to Examine Ex -LTTE Cadres in Jaffna

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that US Air Force’s medical team, currently in the province on a goodwill visit, will examine former Tamil Tigers combatants who had fallen sick allegedly because they were injected with poisonous substances by the Sri Lankan armed forces when they were undergoing detention or rehabilitation after surrender.

In the past few weeks, Tamil politicians and the media have been highlighting the death of 104 ex-combatants who had allegedly been given injections as part of an “inoculation program”. Some others had complained of physical debility after release from detention or rehabilitation.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran told the NPC on Tuesday that he had mentioned the plight of the former combatants in his conversation with the US Ambassador, Atul Keshap, when the latter was in Jaffna to inaugurate a five-day program of the USAF’s Operation Angel medical team there, and asked if the USAF team could examine them and give an independent report.

The US envoy said that the USAF could examine select patients and decide what to do next. Therefore, a few of the cases will be referred to the US team, the Chief minister said.

Continue reading ‘Northern CM Wigneswaran Asks US Envoy Atul Keshap to let USAF Medical Team to Examine Ex -LTTE Cadres in Jaffna’ »

Relationship Between the People of Jaffna and America Stretches Back Over 200 Years to 1813 Says US envoy Atul Keshap in the North

(US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap’s Remarks at the Reception Held in Jetwing Hotel, Jaffna
August 15, 2016)

Thank you so much for joining us on this beautiful rooftop on an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous evening here in Jaffna. I have a few prepared remarks.

The first thing I want to say – and I know I am going to get points off for pronunciation – is Vanakkam. And the second important thing I want to say is Ayubowan. And the third thing I want to say is Assalaamu alaykum. But most importantly, from my heart, I want to say good evening and greetings to all of you.

I am extremely honored and grateful that my distinguished and learned friend, the Honorable Leader of the Opposition Mr. Sampanthan, is here tonight. And that we also have so many members of the Northern Provincial Council here, and members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, and all of you cherished guests who can join the women and men, not only of the American Embassy in Colombo who are here today, but also the women and men of the United States Pacific Command who have come all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Nevada, California, and so many other places to be here tonight for this reception.

It is a delight to be looking out over this beautiful city of Jaffna to see her churches, her temples, her beauty, the ocean that is very nearby, and to celebrate with you the enduring ties between the people of the United States and the people of Sri Lanka. And friends, it gives me particular pride and happiness to know that the relationship between the people of America and the people of Jaffna stretches back over two hundred years to 1813, with the arrival of American missionaries who established durable institutions of learning.

I have visited Jaffna several times and have heard the painful memories of how the people of the Northern Province suffered so greatly during the many years of war. While truth telling, reconciliation, and accountability are essential, these will not bring back the lives lost and lives destroyed. However, this island now has an opportunity to remember the past while focusing on the future. This reception gathers us to reinforce the ties that bind our people, and serves as a continuation of the Embassy and the United States Government’s outreach to all Sri Lankans, in every part of the country, as you tread the path of meaningful, national reconciliation and heal the wounds of war.

Continue reading ‘Relationship Between the People of Jaffna and America Stretches Back Over 200 Years to 1813 Says US envoy Atul Keshap in the North’ »

How the Pro-Mahinda Opposition was Outwitted by the Govt in Getting the Office of Missing Persons Bill Passed by Parliament

By

Dharisha Bastians

“The Report of the 1994 Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Disappearances of Persons noted that its investigations echoed the common yearning; Never Again”
– Dr. Vasuki Nesiah, Clarifying the Past & Commemorating Sri Lanka’s Disappeared

It all happened in a flash of black and the terrifying sound of shots fired in the dark. It was 10 December 1989, the height of the Government’s counterinsurgency against the violent 1987 Marxist uprising.

Shantha Pathirana watched helplessly as his twin brother Sudath was dragged out of his Borella home by pistol-wielding men dressed all in black. Shantha and Sudath looked remarkably alike. The abductors were taking no chances. They wanted the ‘insurgent’ in the family.

“They couldn’t tell us apart, so they demanded to see our national IDs first. Once they identified Sudath it happened in a flash,” Shantha recalls. “They dragged him out and shut the door. My mother was screaming and crying. To drown out her cries they shot twice into the air. That was the last time I saw my brother.” Untitled-1

The gunshots fired into the night skies had not only put an abrupt end to the women’s weeping. It also ensured curious neighbours stayed well away from the scene of the abduction.

Sudath Pathirana was a trade union activist at the Jayewardenepura Hospital, working for the Nawa Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) then led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara. A fellow activist, Somaweera was also abducted from his home at the same time on 10 December 1989. Neither has ever been heard from again.

Disappearance is an invisible crime; there are no bodies, no graves and no traces of abuse. There is only silence. And trauma relived day after day by families who have watched loved ones being snatched away, never to be seen again.

For the Pathirana family, the search that began in 1989 has never ended.

Shantha’s father Wijeyadasa Pathirana joined the ranks of thousands of families of the disappeared that were being mobilised by Nanayakkara and his erstwhile activist colleague, the SLFP MP Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘How the Pro-Mahinda Opposition was Outwitted by the Govt in Getting the Office of Missing Persons Bill Passed by Parliament’ »

President Sirisena Appoints 24 District and 16 Electoral Organizers in SLFP after Stripping Mahinda Loyalists of their Posts

By Gagani Weerakoon

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday handed over letters of appointment to forty new District and Electoral Organizers of the SLFP after stripping many of the former stalwarts, who are now openly supporting the Joint Opposition, off their posts.

Accordingly, 16 Electoral Organizers and 24 District Organizers received their appointment letters at the President’s Official Residence last morning.

Former ministers, who are now aligned with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the ‘Joint Opposition’ banner, Keheliya Rambukwella, Gamini Lokuge, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, C.B. Rathnayake and Pavithra Wanniarachchi are key organizers who have been stripped off their positions.

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Referendum on New Constitution Would be the “Stalingrad Battle” of Sri Lanka

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“We all remember the horrors of the past, the violence of three decades and the anti-democratic governments. Compare that situation to today. Civil society groups are flowering and members are key advisors in governmental task forces and decision making.”

– US Ambassador Athul Keshap, ‘US Air Force strengthens historic American ties with Jaffna’,Daily Mirror, Aug 15th 2016

Affable Ambassador Athul Keshap has confused “liberal” with “democratic” or Sri Lanka with some of America’s best friends. Even during three decades of war, this country always had elected democratic, albeit intermittently illiberal, governments — unlike some of the best buddies of the US, then and now. The US ambassador’s statement does not once mention (suicide bombing) terrorism, leave alone secessionism. Terrorism and not “governments” was the most “anti-democratic” phenomenon we faced for thirty years, while it was successive elected governments that protected the fundamentals of a functioning democracy.

Today we’ve graduated from Ambassador Keshap’s “anti-democratic governments” to “anti-democratic Oppositions”. The TNA with a third of the seats of the joint opposition, is seated as the parliamentary opposition while the JVP is the Chief Whip. This disenfranchisement of the Southern opposition which has more seats than the TNA and the JVP combined, and exceeds the number of SLFPers in the ‘National government’, only serves to erode the legitimacy of the political order.

We now have

(1) A political system that is de-centred; devoid of a middle ground and a shock absorber, in that it lacks the centrist SLFP as opposition

(2) A political structure rendered less stable by the abolition of the two-party system

and (3) A game de-legitimized by a numerically much smaller party being accorded the official oppositional space. The Government is legitimate—having more seats–but the official Opposition is not.

A legitimate government cannot be replaced by extra-parliamentary means but insofar as the Opposition is illegitimate, so too to some degree is the political status quo, and such a warped, illegitimate status quo can be legitimately contested and replaced by exceptional, even extra-parliamentary, non-violent means.

Continue reading ‘Referendum on New Constitution Would be the “Stalingrad Battle” of Sri Lanka’ »

The SLFP is now Moving in a Different Path Declares President Maithripala Sirisena in Interview

By

Ajantha Kumara Agalakada

This interview with President Maithripala Sirisena appearing in the “Daily Mirror” covers the controversial issues of the Paada Yathra,VAT Bill, Port City project and plans to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP). The President shared his views with the “Daily Mirror’s sister paper ‘The Sunday Lankadeepa’

Excerpts:

Q:The Joint Opposition (JO) staged a walk in protest of your government. What is your idea about the large crowd that took part?

Do you mean the crowd that walked? The figures produced by the organizers were all fake. The entire country knows how the crowd was brought in and what the actual figures were. It is pertinent to evaluate what the reasons were for this walk; the issue lies there. If there is an election around the corner, then there should be a purpose for such protest walk. Similar walks and protests are held all over the world to make political gains. What was the political end in this walk? When you take this entire group into account, the masses would seriously consider how clean the group involved were. Most of the organizers and leaders are facing serious charges on acts of corruption, frauds and illegal activities. Investigations are continuing.

Some have already been indicted before Courts. The main aim of this protest was to cause fear psychosis to the officials who handled those investigations, that means “we will be coming to power in the future, and the support of the masses amply demonstrate” This was their main aim and there is no second thought about it. If they had actually brought the crowd which they said they had, we can also bring double that crowd. At the beginning they wanted Hyde Park as this venue was normally chosen by those who were politically weak and it is a fact known to everyone. As it was not available, they opted for Lipton Circus knowing very well that even a small crowd could block the roads and create a traffic snarl. However, the people did not accept it as a success and they didn’t approve it. The organizers used their entire strength and force to bring in the crowds. They visited every electorate and spent lavishly in view to achieve this. This clearly shows what support they have at the grass-roots levels, and they showed how many out of the total population of 21 million were with them. Their main aim was to influence the police and the investigating officers and not to show patriotism.

Continue reading ‘The SLFP is now Moving in a Different Path Declares President Maithripala Sirisena in Interview’ »

Buddhist Monks from “Singha Le Jathika Balamuuwa” Try to Disrupt “Singha Le,Ekama Le” Unity Demonstration Held on Bauddhaloka Mawatte

By

Nushka Nafeel

A tense situation erupted during the campaign of ‘Different yet Equal’ close to Baudhaloka Mawatha yesterday.

A group of monks representing the “Singha Le Jathika Balamuluwa” disrupted the unity campaign claiming that the campaigners cannot use the term “Singha Le” during their demonstration. The ‘Different yet Equal’ refuted it saying that “Singha Le, Ekama Le”.

“The motive of the ‘Singha Le’ organisation was to create a tense situation and to spread their racist ideology, Azad Sally said.

Continue reading ‘Buddhist Monks from “Singha Le Jathika Balamuuwa” Try to Disrupt “Singha Le,Ekama Le” Unity Demonstration Held on Bauddhaloka Mawatte’ »

Bold Support by JVP for OMP Bill Indicative of Party’s Political Turnaround on the Ethnic Issue

By

Rasika Jayakody


“Future generations are not going to ask us what political party were you in. They are going to ask what did you do about it, when you knew the glaciers were melting”
Martin Sheen

The centre-left Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a party that pushed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to a path of war in 2006, made a bold political move by supporting to the bill to establish an Office of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka, last week.

The JVP’s position on the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) should be analysed in the context of its approach to the Tamil issue in the North and East, which crippled the country’s politics, since 1956.
The JVP, in 1983, explaining the party’s solution to what they termed the ‘national question’, firmly said it did not accept the Tamil people’s right to self-determination.

A booklet published by the party at the time, was considered the ‘bible’ of the JVP rank and file when it came to matters relating to the issues in the North and East and other related problems.

When Rohana Wijeweera, founder of the JVP took a seemingly hard line on the Tamil struggle and their right to self-determination, a group led by its former General Secretary Lionel Bopage, defected from the political movement. As a result, many traditional leftists dubbed the JVP a ‘pro-nationalist’ political force.

It was quite clear that the JVP, since its inception, did not have a real working class base. Its membership consisted of university students, the unemployed youth, a section of rural youth and lower middle class workers. These groups, despite their ‘circumstantial’ leftist leanings, constantly looked for opportunities for upward social mobility and nationalism seemed to be a palatable idea to them. In this context, many Leftist activists were of the view that the JVP was a petit bourgeois movement with a Marx-Leninist mask.

Continue reading ‘Bold Support by JVP for OMP Bill Indicative of Party’s Political Turnaround on the Ethnic Issue’ »

Nithya Senani Samaranayake Remanded for Alleged Involvement in Money Laundering Case Involving Namal Rajapaksa


By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Nithya Senani Samaranayake who functioned as a director of two companies owned by Hambantota district MP Namal Rajapaksa was ordered remanded till August 22 by a Colombo Court for her alleged involvement in money laundering amounting to Rs.45 million.

On Monday (15) MP Namal Rajapaksa and Sudarsha Bandara Ganewatta who were arrested for their alleged involvement in laundering money to the amount of Rs.45 million in two companies owned by Namal Rajapaksa, were also ordered remanded till August 22 by Colombo Additional Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

The suspect Nithya Senani Samaranayake was arrested on the charge of aiding and abetting to commit this offence, being a director of NR Consultation Private Ltd and Gowers Corporation Pvt Ltd.

She was ordered remanded till August 22 on the grounds that the prosecutors were yet to conclude their investigations.

Continue reading ‘Nithya Senani Samaranayake Remanded for Alleged Involvement in Money Laundering Case Involving Namal Rajapaksa’ »

Bond Between President Maithripala sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Must Be Strengthened further

By

Vishwamithra1984

It was reported last week that President Maithripala Sirisena would be the chief guest at the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the United National Party (UNP).

Maithripala Sirisena is not only the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; he is the current leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in the last six decades the SLFP has been the chief political nemesis of the UNP.

Any student of Sri Lanka’s post-Independence political history would know that the SLFP, even though has always been reckoned as an alternative to the UNP, drew its major portion of membership from the left-oriented Sinhala-speaking, Swabhasha-educated electorate.

Continue reading ‘Bond Between President Maithripala sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Must Be Strengthened further’ »

Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Jeyanathan Flings Microphone Angrily at Opposition Leader Sampanthan at Party Central Committee Meeting

Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Leader and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan is reported to have had a microphone thrown at him by Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Antony Jeyanathan during an argument over the appointment of a national list Parliamentarian.

Continue reading ‘Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Jeyanathan Flings Microphone Angrily at Opposition Leader Sampanthan at Party Central Committee Meeting’ »

“Peeping Through the Window Darling What will People say, if you want to Marry me Darling Come the Proper way!

By

Somapala Gunadheera

The recent gimmicks seen at the passing of the “Office of Missing Persons Bill” (OMP), reminded me of a couplet I used to hear often in the heyday of ‘Thuppahi Culture’. It ran, “If you want to marry me darling, come the proper way – Peeping through the window darling what will people say?”

According to the Government, the OMP had been tabled three months back. No one had raised objections against it in Courts or in the House. The debate on the Bill had been fixed at a meeting of all Party leaders and a two day schedule for a debate thereon, had been mutually agreed. In that background, it is difficult to understand why some MPs, inclusive of prominent politicians who had held prestigious office in the past, resorted to an ugly show of canker and abuse on the aisle of the House that is universally accepted to be hallowed ground. The public did not see any obstruction, repression or sleight of hands on the part of the Government that could have justified such behaviour.

Continue reading ‘“Peeping Through the Window Darling What will People say, if you want to Marry me Darling Come the Proper way!’ »

“Opposition MP’s Led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Geetha Kumarasinghe Raised Slogans,Sang Songs and Even Danced in Parliament”-Mano Ganesan

By Shaahidah Riza

If there was any bad precedent in passing the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, the Joint Opposition MPs were responsible for it, said Minister for National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan.

Continue reading ‘“Opposition MP’s Led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Geetha Kumarasinghe Raised Slogans,Sang Songs and Even Danced in Parliament”-Mano Ganesan’ »

Systematic Sealing by Customs of Businesses Owned by Traders in the Forefront of Anti – VAT Increase Demonstrations.



The government is using intimidatory tactics to stifle dissent ahead of reintroducing the new VAT amendment Bill in parliament traders’ told The Island.

On the 8th of August the shops of three traders in Pettah who had taken part in the anti-VAT hartal were sealed by the Customs Department. Asian Traders, Anglo Shirts and Romax all on Keyzer Street were the first three shops to be sealed.

These were small establishments two of them being approximately 10X8, 10X15 and Asian Traders being the largest – a 10X15 three storied shop. Customs officers had arrived, and apparently checked the stocks and taken an inventory and asked for the documentation relating to the goods all of which had been provided, but they had sealed the shops anyway.

Continue reading ‘Systematic Sealing by Customs of Businesses Owned by Traders in the Forefront of Anti – VAT Increase Demonstrations.’ »

“Writ will be Sought in Courts Against the Office of Missing Persons After it Commences Operations” Announces Vasudeva Nanayakkara

By Chamodi Gunawardana

The Joint Opposition yesterday said it planned to seek court intervention to issue a Writ Order against the Office of Missing Persons to be established by the Government in the next few weeks.

Speaking to the media, Democratic Left Front General Secretary Vasudeva Nanayakkara and a vehement supporter of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa said they would go before court after the office had commenced their operations in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘“Writ will be Sought in Courts Against the Office of Missing Persons After it Commences Operations” Announces Vasudeva Nanayakkara’ »

DIFFERENT YET EQUAL:Come and Stand With us For a Free, Equal and Peaceful Sri Lanka,

DIFFERENT YET EQUAL

Come and stand with us for a free, equal and peaceful Sri Lanka, at 4.30pm, on 15th August (Monday) 2016, on Bauddhaloka Mw (past Arcade near the traffic lights leading to Independence turn-off).

WE ARE… Sri Lankan citizens from diverse backgrounds unified in our desire for a just and democratic country. We represent ourselves here as concerned, responsible citizens committed to building a society in which our different ethnic, cultural, and religious identities are celebrated equally.

WE BELIEVE… All individuals are equal and have an equal place in a plural and democratic Sri Lanka. We can and must contribute to making this a reality for all.
We denounce the incitement of racial or ethnic hatred, which is also often sexist and homophobic, by any group or individual and stand in solidarity with all those so targeted.

WE WANT… Each and every one of us, as well as politicians and political parties, religious and educational authorities and institutions, and the media, to take responsibility for creating an environment conducive for respect, healing and reconciliation.
We want the government, especially the judiciary and law enforcement officers, to promote equality and unity in diversity, act against those responsible for the incitement of hate, and take concrete steps to prevent the recurrence of these acts in the future.

WE GATHER…

– To show our solidarity as people of all identities who stand together in the spirit of unity, equality and peace.

– To denounce any statements made, by any individual or community that incites intimidation, hate, and violence against other individuals or communities.

– To further comradeship and goodwill towards building a just and democratic Sri Lanka for all.
Bring your friends, family, colleagues, and others to show your support for an equal and peaceful Sri Lanka.


Come and stand with us!

Australia’s Statistics Bureau Gives Option of Declaring “Tamil Eelam” as “Country of Birth” in Answering National Census Query

By Namini Wijedasa

Angry protests from Sri Lankans domiciled in Australia and the High Commission there forced the withdrawal of Australia’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS), giving an option, particularly to those of Tamil origin, to declare whether they are from ‘Tamil Eelam’ when responding to a query on their “country of birth”. This is for a national census now under way.

The Government agency has taken the step despite Canberra placing a ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Once the details of the survey appeared on the ABS website, Sri Lankans of different nationalities bombarded the High Commission with e-mails and telephone calls seeking an immediate removal of the offending reference.

Continue reading ‘Australia’s Statistics Bureau Gives Option of Declaring “Tamil Eelam” as “Country of Birth” in Answering National Census Query’ »

No Political Leader,President or Prime Minister Can Proclaim Innocence on the Issue of Disappearances and Missing Persons

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The raucous commotion in Parliament this week with the passing of the Office of Missing Persons Bill without a vote is reflective of our utterly degenerate political culture. Even now, there is no clear idea of the numbers mustered on the floor to ensure the passage of this enormously significant legislation.

No politician can profess innocence

Sri Lanka’s disappeared number in their thousands. These unfortunates are not confined to one ethnicity. Indeed, the fate of the ‘missing’ is the most powerful common factor uniting the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims down the ages. Many years ago, before unscrupulous politicians co-opted the Mothers Front of the South and the North, this was the one civil rights mass movement which had the potential to force the political command to come to a reckoning as to what happened to their sons and daughters.

So let us be quite clear on this. No political leader in this country, President or Prime Minister can wash his or her hands, Pontius Pilate fashion, and proclaim ‘I am innocent of that blood.’

Continue reading ‘No Political Leader,President or Prime Minister Can Proclaim Innocence on the Issue of Disappearances and Missing Persons’ »

Joint Opposition Attempt to Sabotage Passage of Office of Missing Persons Bill Through Boisterous Conduct Backfires on Them

By Chandani Kirinde

Thus far, members of the Joint Opposition (JO) group have managed to grab more than their fair share of attention, mainly due to their boisterous behaviour within Parliament, than for their role in enriching the legislative business. However, this week they got bogged down in a situation they themselves created by attempting to sabotage Government attempts to enact an important piece of legislation.

This miscalculation by the JO helped the Government to rush through the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, with amendments, in less than an hour, from what was to have been nearly 13 hours of debate and discussion on a Bill that enables the creation of a seven-member permanent Commission to assist families of missing persons.

JO members who came to the Chamber on Thursday wearing black arm bands and satakayas, to show their disapproval of the Bill, initially, raised objection on the grounds they needed more time to debate it. The Government agreed to a full day’s debate on Thursday and half-a-day on Friday, but the JO was not agreeable to this arrangement and chose disruption over debate, walking to the Well of the House, shouting slogans and likely hoping Speaker Karu Jayasuirya would buckle under pressure and adjourn the House.

But it was obvious this time around, the Government was not going to allow the JO to usurp proceedings like they have done many times in the past year and hence, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera got on his feet and introduced the Bill to the House, amidst the din created by the protesting lawmakers. Much of his speech was inaudible to those inside the Chamber, but surrounded by Government MPs, he made it through his speech. He was followed by TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran and JVP MP Bimal Ratnayaka, both of whom extended their support to the Bill.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Attempt to Sabotage Passage of Office of Missing Persons Bill Through Boisterous Conduct Backfires on Them’ »

“Dont do in the Dining Room What you do in the Toilet” – MP’s Admonished by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

by Saman Indrajith

Incidents during the debate on the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in the House on Thursday had caused huge damage to the dignity and decorum of Parliament and both the government and the Opposition should be ashamed of it, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday.

Jayasuriya said the Joint Opposition MPs were entitled to stage protests but they had to be mindful of when and where they should do so. “Politicians may be rebellious when staging protests. But such protests should be held at appropriate places like the Lipton Circus and the Hyde Park not in the Well of Parliament. They should act with some restraint when registering their protest against something in Parliament.”

“The MPs should not choose the dining room to do what they are supposed to in a lavatory (vesikiliye karana de kema kamaraye karranna epa),” the Speaker said.

Continue reading ‘“Dont do in the Dining Room What you do in the Toilet” – MP’s Admonished by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’ »

“Achilles Heel”of Yahapalanaya Govt is Lack of Credible Economic Plan


By

Razeen Sally

Expectations were high after the January and August elections last year. The incoming Government promised a new era of political liberalism, good governance, ethnic reconciliation and a balanced foreign policy. Not least, it stirred hopes of a more market-oriented economic policy that would, finally, make Sri Lanka achieve its long-heralded potential. What has changed in the last year-and-a-half?

To begin with credits: The political atmosphere is freer; the 19th Amendment and a new constitution in the works promise more checks on arbitrary power. Corruption is smaller-scale and less brazen than it was under the Rajapaksas. Ethnic tensions are much lower; the right symbolic overtures have been made to the minorities. Foreign policy has been rebalanced.

Despite initial bumps, China remains a firm friend, but relations have been repaired with India and the West. That said, there is no Yahalpalanaya: corruption and nepotism have returned to pre-Rajapaksa levels; they remain rife. And tangible solutions to inter-ethnic fissures – justice for human-rights abuses, land restitution, demilitarisation, devolution of power – remain some way off.

But the Government’s chief debit – its Achilles Heel – is the economy. Here expectations have been dashed, indeed given a good kick in the stomach. Regime change offered the best opportunity since 1977 to reform the economy, and to renew Sri Lankan society more generally. So far this opportunity has been squandered, following a dismal pattern since independence.

Continue reading ‘“Achilles Heel”of Yahapalanaya Govt is Lack of Credible Economic Plan’ »

Sri Lanka to Create International Financial City With China in Colombo Where people can “Park their Money”

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka has come to an agreement with China to create a Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) which will not only be an international financial services center, but a place where people can park their money, the Minister in Charge of the Megapolis project, Patali Champika Ranawaka said here on Friday.

Speaking to the media after the Ministry of Megapolis, the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) signed a Tripartite Agreement to set up the CIFC, Ranawaka said that parliament will soon enact the Colombo International Financial Center Law to create an “International Financial Zone” in the 269 hectares of land to be reclaimed from the sea by the CHEC.

The zone will be earmarked for international and local banking and financial service companies and will be governed by its own laws as per international best practices. The zone will provide Sri Lankans high paid service sector jobs. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said earlier that British laws would be established in the zone and that a British team will come to advice on this.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to Create International Financial City With China in Colombo Where people can “Park their Money”’ »

State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe Reprimanded for Behaving Disgracefully at COPE Session Probing Central Bank Bond Issue

By Saman Indrajith

State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe’s conduct in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) came under severe criticism from his fellow COPE members yesterday evening for his attempt to intimidate and threaten witnesses of the controversial Central Bank bond issue, a senior COPE member told The Island.

The state minister threatened and tried to extract information in a manner harmful to the ongoing COPE investigation on former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s involvement in bond scam when the senior most staff members of the Central Bank including its incumbent Governor and all Deputy Governors had been summoned before the parliament watchdog committee last evening.

Content of a report by the Auditor General on controversial bond issue was taken for the discussion at yesterday’s meeting.

Continue reading ‘State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe Reprimanded for Behaving Disgracefully at COPE Session Probing Central Bank Bond Issue’ »

Sri Lanka woos the US, India and China Simultaneously for a Quantum Leap in Development

By P.K. Balachandran

Undeterred by the clashing interests of the US, India and China in the South and East Asian region, Sri Lanka is assiduously wooing these countries to achieve a quantum leap in economic development making up for 30 years of stagnation brought about by an ethnic conflict and a brutal war.

While the US is being placated by the implementation of the resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 1, 2015, the Sri Lankan government is doggedly pursuing an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India, despite strong local opposition; and is allocating huge infrastructure projects to China setting aside some serious reservations which existed till last year.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka woos the US, India and China Simultaneously for a Quantum Leap in Development’ »

“Those who went Missing and Those Who Grive For Them are all our Citizens” – Mangala Samaraweera

(Text of Statement on the Bill on the Office on Missing Persons tabled in Parliament by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, MP, on 11 August 2016)

Hon. Speaker,

The Office on the Missing Persons’ Bill, which we will be debating today in this House, I believe heralds a new beginning, a new era of peace and reconciliation for our long suffering country.
68 years after Independence, two youth insurrections, and a 26 year old war, Sri Lanka is now ready to commence the healing process of our wounded and fractured nation, coming to terms with the tragedies of our past, so that we could harness the potential of our great nation and its people to pave the way for the future our country truly deserves.

As Lee Kuan Yew, in his memoirs – “From Third World to First” wrote –

Ceylon was Britain’s model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the War, it was a good middle-sized country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with two universities of high quality, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.

When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence.

Alas, it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste.
It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendib has given the English language the word ‘Serendipity’ is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.

Today, however – 7 years after the end of the brutal war and the defeat and the demise of LTTE terror, Sri Lanka is now ready to win the peace and heal the scars of conflict, sorrow and pain. This Bill is the first step in healing our own nation and its people so that we could face the challenges of the future as a united nation; unity in diversity!

Hon. Speaker,

This is a very special day for all of us in this House, irrespective of the political parties, the colours, symbols and ideologies that we represent.

Today is a day that seeks to unite us as human beings. A day for each of us in this House to pause for a moment, reach deep within our hearts, speak to our conscience and demonstrate through action, that we are guided by peace, compassion, empathy and brotherhood, noble principles which the four main religions in our country – Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – teach us.

Hon. Speaker,

As you know, there is no corner of this blessed and beloved country of ours, that has not been drenched by the tears of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children who have wept and continue to weep, not knowing where their loved ones are, or what happened to them. They only know that they are missing. They don’t know whether they are dead or alive.

Continue reading ‘“Those who went Missing and Those Who Grive For Them are all our Citizens” – Mangala Samaraweera’ »

Govt Outmanoeuvres Mahinda Loyalists and Passes Bill to Set up an Office of Missing Persons Without Taking a Vote

By Dharisha Bastians

The National Unity Government passed landmark legislation to help thousands of families trace missing loved ones after skillfully outmanoeuvring the pro-Rajapaksa Joint Opposition, which launched a sustained effort to obstruct proceedings and prevent the bill’s passage in Parliament yesterday.

The Office of Missing Persons Bill was passed with amendments and without a vote after a debate that lasted less than an hour amidst a constant stream of disruptions by Joint Opposition MPs.

As the Joint Opposition screamed and railed against the establishment of the OMP in the Well of the House, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya put the bill to Parliament. Supported by the Coalition Government and the two recognised opposition parties, the TNA and the JVP, the OMP legislation was enacted into law.

“Today is a historic day. It is a day when we take the very first step towards righting the wrongs of 68 years,” said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who shepherded the legislation through Parliament, amid howls of protest by the Joint Opposition that denounced him as a traitor to the nation.

History would judge the true traitors, the Foreign Minister said during a press conference convened after the bill was enacted into law.

The Office of Missing Persons to be incorporated by an Act of Parliament as a permanent independent body with wide-ranging powers to investigate disappearances and trace missing persons is the first mechanism of a four-pillared structure for truth-seeking and justice in post-war Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Govt Outmanoeuvres Mahinda Loyalists and Passes Bill to Set up an Office of Missing Persons Without Taking a Vote’ »

Govt Rushes Through Office of Missing Persons Bill in Patliament Within Two Hours Amidst Joint Opposition Protests

By Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition’s protest enabled the government to rush the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill through parliament yesterday.

The Bill was passed with amendments amidst shouting and chanting of slogans by Joint Opposition against the government.

When the time came for Notice of Motions and Orders of the Day, Leader of the House Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella moved the Office on Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Bill for the second reading.

MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Joint Opposition would not agree with the government’s to change the session plan to hold the debate on the OMP for two days – Thursday and Friday) and to have the vote in Friday evening to advance the voting at 11 am on Friday. He said that shortening the time of debate would deprive the Opposition MPs of their time to speak in Parliament leading to the deprivation of their privileges.

Continue reading ‘Govt Rushes Through Office of Missing Persons Bill in Patliament Within Two Hours Amidst Joint Opposition Protests’ »

Amended Bill to Establish an Office of Missing Persons(OMP) Passed by Parliament Without Vote Being taken

The draft Bill to establish an Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was passed with amendments in Parliament without a vote.

The Bill was adopted despite objections raised by the joint opposition which alleged that the Bill will betray the military.

The government had earlier said there have been strong requests for providing true information on disappeared or missing persons to their relatives to know their actual fate.

“It will enable such families to be reunited, closure with regard to such disappearance, or granted with reparations and other relief and support,” the government said.

Continue reading ‘Amended Bill to Establish an Office of Missing Persons(OMP) Passed by Parliament Without Vote Being taken’ »

Shelton Ranaraja: Principled Politician was Conscience-Keeper of the Nation

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Let me begin this article with a few paragraphs excerpted from William Mcgowan’s book about Sri Lanka “Only man is Vile” –

“The Kandyan jungle seemed so at peace just after dawn on that October morning in 1989. In the twisted thicket of palms, bamboo and bougainvillea that blanketed the hotel, a handful of iridescent parrots screeched cheery greetings to the first rays of sun as they splintered into a forest of prisms through the morning dew”.

“A narrow ribbon of road cut through this ancient heart of Buddhism, deep inside a paradisiacal island so spectacular in its beauty it was once nicknamed Serendip. To the right, just five miles away from the hotel entrance, lay one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines of pilgrimage, the Temple of the Sacred Relic, with its gold cask containing the wisdom tooth of Lord Buddha”.

“But we turned left that morning, and we hadn’t driven even a mile when we saw our first body–a headless corpse, hands bound behind its back, blocking the road like a fallen tree. A few hundred yards farther, there were three more, then two more, then four more, all with their heads neatly severed at the shoulders”.

“The jungle road turned up then, into a rich, verdant hillside, and as we approached a bridge over a cascading waterfall, we found the severed heads. There were a dozen or so in all, each carefully placed at 10-foot intervals on the bridge culvert, like horrible mileposts to the civil war that has become Sri Lanka’s living nightmare”.

“That night, in his modest home near the Temple of the Sacred Relic in downtown Kandy, one of the island’s parliamentarians spoke with quiet frustration of the trauma that this awful era has caused his island paradise and its 14 million people–“We wake up in the morning, and we know tomorrow will be worse than today”–and he tried to square the living death with the religion that had taught them from birth the sacredness of all life”.

“We’re not to kill even an animal or an ant,” Shelton Ranaraja said that evening, his body shaken and broken from the horrors that abounded in the peaceful jungle around him. “I don’t understand why this is happening. I cannot explain it.”

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Shelton Ranaraja was the tormened soul whose agonized cries are recorded by Mcgowan in his book. The lawyer who represented Senkadagala constituency in the Sri Lankan Parliament for more than fifteen years was arguably the conscience –keeper of the Nation in his own modest way. The excerpts referring to Shelton Ranaraja bear testimony to this. “Shelly Aiya” as he was called by many passed away on August 11th 2011. Shelton Ranaraja was a courageous and principled politician for whom I have had the greatest respect. This article is intended to honour and pay tribute to his memory on the occasion of his fifth death anniversary.
Continue reading ‘Shelton Ranaraja: Principled Politician was Conscience-Keeper of the Nation’ »

“Missing” Persons in Sri Lanka: A New Government Tries To Give Certainty To Grieving Relatives – The Economist

SEVEN years ago, at a busy crossroads in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city, armed men in an unmarked white van abducted Stephen Sundararaj. He was going home, his three children snuggled up against him, after idling for weeks in a police cell. Mr Sundararaj, then a 39-year-old project manager at a local human-rights group, had been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a draconian law permitting arrests without warrant for “unlawful activities”. He challenged the move in court and would have pursued the case, had he not been hauled away mere hours after his release. He was never charged with a crime. He has never been found.

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Such horrifying tales are common in Sri Lanka, where 26 years of ethnic conflict ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009. In the past century the country has also experienced two Marxist insurgencies in the south, and several anti-Tamil pogroms. In May Mangala Samaraweera, the foreign minister, admitted that it had one of the world’s largest caseloads of missing people. The armed forces, the Tamil Tigers and other insurgents are all to blame.

Continue reading ‘“Missing” Persons in Sri Lanka: A New Government Tries To Give Certainty To Grieving Relatives – The Economist’ »

From “Paada Yaathra 1992” to “Paada Yaathra 2016”: Decline and Fall of Human Rights Crusader Mahinda Rajapaksa

By

Dharisha Bastians

The Paada Yaathra in March 1992 led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 47-year-old SLFP Parliamentarian from Hambantota, was epic. Over 17 days, the marchers travelled 280 kilometres from Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo to Kataragama, in the deep southern heartland that the Rajapaksa family calls home.

The trajectory of the 1992 Paada Yaathra intentionally cut through Sri Lanka’s Southern Province, once a hotbed of Marxist activity, where the JVP ran its training camps and hideouts for insurgents. In the ensuing UNP Government crackdown on the JVP insurgency in 1988-89, thousands of young people disappeared from remote villages in the districts of Matara and Hambantota, on suspicion of being Marxist insurgents.

For politicians like Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former SLFP colleague Mangala Samaraweera who represented the Matara District, the issue of disappearances was much more than only a question of human rights and state terror; the ‘missing’ were also their constituents. Mahinda Rajapakasa’s Paada Yaathra in 1992 was a campaign to pressure the UNP regime into investigating enforced disappearances during the JVP insurgency.

Twenty-four years ago, his slogans were against state oppression, privatisation of state resources and ironically, demanding a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict. Joining him on the historic march from Colombo to Kataragama were leftist politicos Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wickremabahu Karunaratne.

Continue reading ‘From “Paada Yaathra 1992” to “Paada Yaathra 2016”: Decline and Fall of Human Rights Crusader Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Wasim Thajudeen Murder Mystery Continues to be Unsolved While Conflicting JMO Reports Contradict Each Other

By

Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

Wasim Thajudeen, a talented rugby player, a friend to all and a man full of smiles, was brutally murdered and his body was left in a charred state at Narahenpita, four years ago.

After much investigation, many breakthroughs and dead-ends, the case is yet to be solved. Although nothing was heard of the incident during the previous regime, quite surprisingly the matter emerged as soon as the ‘Good Governance’ regime saw light on January 8 last year.

So far, much has been revealed about the matter but even after four years, the alleged perpetrators are still free. The body was exhumed on August 10, 2015, exactly one year ago and according to the ex-JMO, surprisingly, some of the remaining body parts too have gone missing.

The Judicial Medical Officer’s (JMO) reports have become the highlight of this investigation due to the failure to establish a conclusive cause of death initially.

Today the Daily Mirror sheds some light on the JMO’s reports, which were submitted to establish the cause of death.

Continue reading ‘Wasim Thajudeen Murder Mystery Continues to be Unsolved While Conflicting JMO Reports Contradict Each Other’ »

Sri Lanka Woman Director Presents Her Debut film “The House of my Fathers” at 69th Locarno Open Doors showcase

By
Emilio Mayorga

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Courtesy of Suba Sivakumaran

LOCARNO — Suba Sivakumaran’s has been presenting her debut project “The House of My Fathers,” at the 69th Locarno Open Doors showcase, devoted this year to national cinemas from South Asia region.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Woman Director Presents Her Debut film “The House of my Fathers” at 69th Locarno Open Doors showcase’ »

“We Will not Sack the Chief Justice or Bring Impeachment Motion Against him for not Giving us a Favourable Ruling” Says Ranil Wickremesinghe

By
Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

A large number of Bills were passed and became law during the last decade in the same manner following the procedure which has been followed in respect of the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, although the latter had been treated differently, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

He also requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to discuss with party leaders and deliver a ruling on those laws passed and Parliament could follow one procedure in the future in moving a Bill before Parliament.

The Prime Minister also said it was the responsibility of the Speaker to decide if the standing orders have been followed by Parliament while Parliament also has the power to suspend its standing orders as well. The Premier made these observations after the Speaker made his announcement on the Supreme Court order on the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill.

He said that in reference to the judgement of the Supreme Court order, the government will table the Bill in the House later.

“There are a large number of Bills which have become law in Parliament, last Parliament and the Parliament before, following the procedure which has been followed in respect of the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill,” the Premier said.

Continue reading ‘“We Will not Sack the Chief Justice or Bring Impeachment Motion Against him for not Giving us a Favourable Ruling” Says Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

How Mahinda Rajapaksa Betrayed the Country and War Heroes in 1989 on the Issue of Missing Persons.

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Former British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka David Gladstone, speaking to BBC Sandeshaya related a wonderful story on 2 July 2008.

“During the government of President Premadasa, present President Mahinda was a very good friend of mine. He came often to meet me. On occasions he met me, he told me to influence the government to search for youth who had gone missing in the North and the South. He told me that he would establish an association comprising parents and children of the missing persons in order to enable them to tell the world of their suffering. He requested me to speak of this to the UN and the Amnesty International”

David Gladstone related this incident. However, when the Maithri-Ranil government is attempting to open an office to search for missing persons, Mahinda said last week, it is a betrayal of the country and betrayal of the war heroes, issuing a statement.

So then, when Mahinda talks about missing persons, is it not a betrayal of the country and the war heroes?

Continue reading ‘How Mahinda Rajapaksa Betrayed the Country and War Heroes in 1989 on the Issue of Missing Persons.’ »

Supreme Court Rules Value Added Tax(Amendment) Bill Unacceptable as it has not Adhered to Due Process of a Financial Bill

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday informed Parliament that the Supreme Court had determined that the Value Added Tax (Amendment) bill was unacceptable as it had failed to adhere to due process a financial bill should follow.

Making a special announcement the Speaker said: “The Court has determined that the provisions contained in Article 152 of the Constitution and Standing Order 133 are imperative in character and the failure to follow them render the subsequent proceedings nullity.

“Since the due process had not been compiled with in terms of Article 78(2) and 152 in the Constitution before the bill was introduced in Parliament, the Supreme Court has made in terms of Articles 120 and 121 read with Article 123 and 152 of the Constitution, that no determination would be made at this stage on the ground of challenge raised by the petitioners.”

He then directed the determination of the Supreme Court be printed in the official report of the proceedings.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Rules Value Added Tax(Amendment) Bill Unacceptable as it has not Adhered to Due Process of a Financial Bill’ »

Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016 when student groups fought each other within the Jaffna varsity precincts in Thirunelvaeli known generally as Thinnaivaeli. It was basically a confrontation between two undergraduate factions of the University of Jaffna. There was also an ethnic dimension to the incident as one of the clashing factions was Sinhala and the other Tamil. The Government for very commendable reasons downplayed the ethnic factor and referred to the incident as factional strife while others for their own reasons played the communal card and described it as a racial conflict. However the truth as in most matters of this type lies somewhere in between.

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Degree Award Ceremony ~ March 2016 ~ Pic via: University of Jaffna

The past few days has been quite hectic for me in contacting a wide range of sources in Sri Lanka from Canada. I was able to speak on the telephone or communicate through electronic mail with a cross section of Tamil and Sinhala undergrads, members of the Jaffna varsity academic staff, law enforcement authorities, political leaders and informed residents of Jaffna and gather much information about the incident and its aftermath. My column therefore will focus on this sensitive topic and attempt to share as much information as possible in this regard .

"Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016"

“Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016”

It is necessary to delve briefly into the historical background of the Jaffna University in order to understand the genesis of the current clash better. A University for Jaffna had been the desire of Northern Tamils for several years.

Sirima Bandaranaike

Sirima Bandaranaike

The United Front Govt of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike set up a campus in Jaffna in 1974. Under the higher education set up at that time there was only one Sri Lankan university with several campuses at different places. When Mrs. Bandaranaike visited Jaffna to ceremonially open the campus, the Tamil United Front (TUF)opposed it and staged black flag demonstrations. The ordinary people of Jaffna welcomed the move. The “Sirithiran”magazine hailed it as “Valavukkul Valaaham” (Campus in the compound).
Continue reading ‘Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!’ »

‘Kaanaa Inbam Kaninthathaeno’ – Splendid “Singing in the Rain” Song ♫

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 7

I love rain!

One of the things I loved to do as a boy and even as a young adult was to get soaking wet in the rain. If it started raining while I was on my way home from school I simply got wet instead of taking shelter. Fortunately I had loving parents who understood this as well as my other quirks. My mother even let me bathe in the rain at times if it showered heavily.

Sabash Meena SR

I would dance about happily as the raindrops fell on me. I would splash about in the puddles caused by the torrential downpour. Sometimes I would even sing in the rain. When we were small children the elder of my two younger sisters was also allowed to join me in the rain at times. My younger brother was not permitted a rain bath as he had asthma. My youngest sister was too small for a rain bath. Our neighbours would look on aghast at this unconventional spectacle of myself and my sister merrily bathing in the rain. The kids in the neighbourhood would watch us enviously as we enjoyed ourselves.Of course if there was thunder and lightning I/we would be summoned inside immediately.

Continue reading ‘‘Kaanaa Inbam Kaninthathaeno’ – Splendid “Singing in the Rain” Song ♫’ »

President Sirisena Wants to Destroy the SLFP and not Develop the Party – UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha Perera

BY Lankesh Gooneratne


An Interview with UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Noshantha Perera who has been Suspended from the SLFP for allegedly criticising President Mauthripala sirisena’s leadership in a TV Debate

Excerpts:

Q;What is your opinion about being suspended as a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member?

A: I actually think that I should not be suspended because we have a lot of politicians who leave the party and come back. But from the beginning I have been a loyal member of the SLFP. I will remain as a member of the SLFP in the future as well and I will never change parties for my own benefit. “I am a pure SLFPer.”

I do not think there is anyone who can take disciplinary action against me because I have been loyal to the party throughout.

Why I am claiming myself as a pure SLFPer is that my family has gifted two persons for the well-being of the party. I have donated my own blood to the party. I have lost my house when it was burnt to the ground in 1977 and 2001.

When the United National Party (UNP) was elected in 1977 they burnt down my father’s house because he was a diehard SLFP member. Even his own lands were distributed among members of the UNP.When my father was mentally tortured by the UNP he decided to commit suicide.

In December 2001 we organized 21 Bodhi puja’s for the well-being of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga after she was injured in a bomb blast. However, during the puja my brother was shot dead.
As politicians who sacrificed their lives and houses I am not a member of the SLFP who should be suspended.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Wants to Destroy the SLFP and not Develop the Party – UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha Perera’ »

Chief Minister Wigneswaran Advances Disastrous Maximalist Campaign Abandoned by Other Tamil Mainstream Leaders

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka is now making a collective effort to seek national reconciliation. That would require concerted actions, through constitutional and administrative means, to address specific grievances of minorities. However, to begin that process, one should first have to distinguish between real and fictitious grievances. The problem in this country is that genuine grievances have been overwhelmed by a much larger set of perceived and inflated ones.

The Tamil political leadership has historically been keener on the latter and therefore, any incremental effort taken, at least since the Sinhalese polity developed a compromising tendency beginning with the late 80s, to address minority grievances proved nearly impossible. Those maximalist tendencies of the Tamil political campaign later gave rise to a maximalist terrorist group, of which murderous campaign and predictable state reaction, as well as the former’s subsequent decimation have now created a fresh set of grievances.

Ageing Tamil statesmen like the Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan and TULF leader Anandasangaree seem to have taken a lesson from the previous failures, for which they could not be blamed as since the Tamil political campaign was hijacked by the Tamil militancy and later terrorism, they became more or less the hapless bystanders. Their fate was not much different from those of villagers in the South who had to put up with or get shot by the equally egregious cadres of the JVP.

However, not all have taken that lesson, and one for sure is divisive Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. He tells the Tamil People’s Council that the Sri Lankan government is planning to bring a new Constitution before the March session of the UNHRC sessions in order to push under the carpet the accountability issues of the final phase of the war.

Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran Advances Disastrous Maximalist Campaign Abandoned by Other Tamil Mainstream Leaders’ »

Disciplinary Action Against Sanath Nishantha Amounts to Disciplinary Action Against SLFP in Puttalam District says Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday, considered the disciplinary action to be taken against Puttalam district Parliamentarian Sanath Nishantha as a disciplinary action to be taken against all SLFP members in the Puttalam district.

Continue reading ‘Disciplinary Action Against Sanath Nishantha Amounts to Disciplinary Action Against SLFP in Puttalam District says Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Suspension of Puttalam MP Sanath Nishantha May be Reconsidered if he Publicly Accepts President Sirisena as President of the SLFP

By

Manushi Silva

The party would forgive Puttalam district Parliamentarian Sanath Nishantha and reconsider the decision taken by the Central Committee to suspend his party membership if he makes a public statement that he accepts President Maithripala Sirisena as the President of the SLFP, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Dewapriya said.

The SLFP Central Committee recently decided to initiate disciplinary action against Nishantha and to suspend his party membership for allegedly criticizing the party leadership and making a statement to the media that he will not accept President Sirisena as the leader of the Party.

Continue reading ‘Suspension of Puttalam MP Sanath Nishantha May be Reconsidered if he Publicly Accepts President Sirisena as President of the SLFP’ »

USA to “Assist” Sri Lanka in Drafting a New Constitution Discloses US Ambassador Atul Keshap at Colombo Reception for “USS New Orleans”

by Zacki Jabbar

The United States of America says it wants to partner with the Sri Lankan military while assisting the government in drafting a new constitution and meeting commitments it had made to the United Nations Human Rights Council with regard to accountability issues.

An UN Human Rights Council endorsed resolution has called for the establishment of an independent domestic mechanism to probe allegations of war crimes against the previous Rajapaksa government and LTTE especially during the last stages of the near three decade war, which ended on May 19 , 2009.

The U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap addressing a reception on board the ship USS New Orleans which docked in at the Colombo Port for a three day goodwill visit last week, said that they were welcoming new staff into the American embassy here to work on development programs, human rights cooperation, rule of law, justice, demining and many different things.

Continue reading ‘USA to “Assist” Sri Lanka in Drafting a New Constitution Discloses US Ambassador Atul Keshap at Colombo Reception for “USS New Orleans”’ »

UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha Threatens to Sue Maithripala Sirisena Under 19th Constitutional Amendment Provisions If he is Removed From Party

by Pradeep Samarakoon

UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha threatens to move courts against President Maithripala Sirisena if the latter removes him from the party. He says he will also expose all those who are out for his scalp.

He said he would not accept President Sirisena as the Chairman of the party.

Continue reading ‘UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha Threatens to Sue Maithripala Sirisena Under 19th Constitutional Amendment Provisions If he is Removed From Party’ »

Island – Wide Hartal Shutting Down Shops Launched by Traders on August 8th to Protest Against VAT Tax Increases

by Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

Traders’s unions are poised to hold protests throughout the county starting from tomorrow against the government’s plan to take up the VAT amendment bill in Parliament on Thursday. Union representatives said that they would conduct a countrywide hartal tomorrow by shutting down their shops and taking to the streets.

As part of the protests organised by the All Ceylon Trader Union Collective, a letter would be handed over to the MPs of all parties, demanding that they vote against the VAT bill.

Trader union representatives said that their objective was to defeat the moves by the government to rush the VAT bill through Parliament on August 11. They said that the government had reneged on President Maithripala Sirisena’s promise to the traders that changes to VAT would not be effected without the concurrence of business community.

Continue reading ‘Island – Wide Hartal Shutting Down Shops Launched by Traders on August 8th to Protest Against VAT Tax Increases’ »

Latest Hindi Film of Jacqueline Fernandez “Dishoom” Grosses Over One Billion Indian Rupees in Nine Days

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

NEW DELHI, August 8: Bollywood film Dishoom starring Sri Lankan beauty queen Jacqueline Fernandez with John Abraham and Varun Dhawan has grossed over a billion rupees in nine days at the worldwide box office since its release on July 29.

Jacqueline Fernandez ~ in ~ 'Dishoom'

Jacqueline Fernandez ~ in ~ ‘Dishoom’

The film has grossed INR 830.7 millionat the domestic box office and INR 200.6 million in the international markets.

Dishoom currently stands with the total worldwide collection of INR 1,031.3 million.

Continue reading ‘Latest Hindi Film of Jacqueline Fernandez “Dishoom” Grosses Over One Billion Indian Rupees in Nine Days’ »

Govt Concerned About Behaviour of TNA ‘s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran for the Past Year or so

By

Gagani Weerakoon

Meanwhile, the government has raised its concerns over the behaviour of Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran over the past year or so.

Wigneswaran who assumed duties as the Chief Minister in October 2013 has thus far failed to assist previous government or the present government which also has the backing of the TNA, the party which he got elected from, in any development efforts being carried out.

Several in the government have pointed out that his behaviour has become a ‘no action – talk only’ scenario depriving the legitimate basic needs of the Tamil community which elected the provincial political authorities to address the pressing requirements.

Further, whatever the government does, the Northern Provincial Council is opposing and bringing an end to all resettlement and development activities.

Continue reading ‘Govt Concerned About Behaviour of TNA ‘s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran for the Past Year or so’ »

National Organization for the Release of Political Prisoners to Stage Demonstrations in Front of Jaffna and Colombo Prisons

By P.K.Balachandran

Although Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena had promised that his government would release, by November 7, 2015, all incarcerated members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against some of whom charges had not been filed, 90 are still to be released.

The Tamil detainees, who consider themselves “political prisoners” and not “terrorist suspects” had gone on fast more than once to secure release. And every time they would withdraw it on the basis of a promise of action in their favor but only to be disappointed.

Angry with the state of affairs, the National Organization for the Release of Political Prisoners, is planning to hold a demonstration in front of the Colombo and Jaffna prisons on Monday.

Continue reading ‘National Organization for the Release of Political Prisoners to Stage Demonstrations in Front of Jaffna and Colombo Prisons’ »

TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Tells Tamil Peoples Council War Crimes Accountability must be Established Before New Constitution is Promulgated

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of the Tamil-majority Northern Province of Sri Lanka, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that accountability for the war crimes allegedly committed in the last phase of Eelam War IV must be established before the Sri Lankan government formulates a new constitution to address the basic political question.

Addressing the Tamil Peoples’ Council in his capacity as its co-chairman in Jaffna on Sunday, Wigneswaran said that the constitution planned by the government will not be drafted to the Tamils’ satisfaction unless accountability issues were satisfactorily addressed prior to that.

He told the council that he had heard from someone involved in the constitution making exercise that the government is planning to brush accountability under the carpet by showing the international community before the September session of the UN Human Rights Council, that it is seriously working on a new constitution to address the political grievances of the Tamils. The plan is to get the new constitution passed by the March session of the UNHRC. By doing so, the government hopes that it can divert attention from the accountability issue and urge the Tamils to look to the future rather than look back at the past.

Continue reading ‘TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Tells Tamil Peoples Council War Crimes Accountability must be Established Before New Constitution is Promulgated’ »

SLFP Suspends Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha for Insulting President Maithripala Sirisena

By

Zahrah Imtiaz

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Chairman, President Maithripala Sirisena along with the party Central Committee has unanimously decided to empower the General Secretary to take disciplinary action against any member who is found to have defied party orders.

“On Thursday evening, we had two important meetings, one was with leading SLFP activists and the President on party reforms and the second meeting held later was the convening of the Central Committee,” State Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said at a media briefing at the Finance Ministry yesterday.

Soon after, SLFP General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera suspended the membership of SLFP Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha for having insulted the President.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Suspends Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha for Insulting President Maithripala Sirisena’ »

Court Orders Arrest of Namal Rajapaksa MP on July 28th but Police Have not Done so Even After 9 days.

By Ishara Ratnakara

Though Additional Colombo Magistrate Nishantha Peiris had ordered the arrest of Joint Opposition (JO) and SLFP Hambantota District MP Namal Rajapaksa on charges of having carried out illegal transactions at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) using political clout, the Police have failed to arrest him to date though nine days have elapsed since the Court Order was given.

Continue reading ‘Court Orders Arrest of Namal Rajapaksa MP on July 28th but Police Have not Done so Even After 9 days.’ »

Colombo to Kandy Protest March Launched By JR Jayewardene in 1957

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The marathon protest march “Jana satana Pada Yathra” launched by loyalists of former President and current Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently underway in Sri Lanka. The march organized by pro – Mahinda polititical stalwarts known as the Joint Opposition began in Kandy on July 28th 2016. The five day march is scheduled to conclude in Colombo on August 1st 2016.

JRJR MR NEW

The Kandy to Colombo march has revived memories of another Opposition march that was organized almost sixty years ago. Unlike the present Kandy – Colombo march , that historic march commenced in Colombo with the objective of reaching Kandy. It was conducted by the United National Party (UNP) and spearheaded by former President Junius Richard Jayewardene.Although the march itself was aborted within two days due to a variety of reasons , the event has become embedded in the political memory of Sri Lanka. “JR’s Kandy March” as it came to be known played a very negative role in souring ethnic relations in the Island. At a time when Mahinda and his followers are marching from Kandy to Colombo , this column intends re-visiting the days of October 1957 when JR Jayewardene and his supporters tried to march from Colombo to Kandy.
Continue reading ‘Colombo to Kandy Protest March Launched By JR Jayewardene in 1957’ »

“Friendship With All, Enmity With None”: An Assessment of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy In The Times of DS Senanayake and Maithripala Sirisena

By

Shakthi De Silva

In a recent event concerning the foreign policy of Sri Lanka, Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda declared that Sri Lanka’s foreign policy since the government change of 2015 has been ‘friendship with all; enmity with none.’1

DS Senanayake

DS Senanayake

The significance of coining this phrase has been missed by some. The import of this statement rests in a similar comparison made in the House of Representatives Debates (HRD vol.3, 1058) many years ago. The HRD report mentions that ‘our policy in foreign affairs is to be the friend of all and the enemy of none’ in reference to late D.S Senanayake’s foreign policy in the period immediately after the granting of independence by the British.2

In this article I hope to begin, by reviewing the foreign policy of D.S Senanayake and relating it to the possible reasons that influenced his foreign policy decisions/choices.

Maithripala Sirisena

Maithripala Sirisena


Then, I intend to examine the influence of India to the foreign policy decision-making of Sri Lanka in the past. I also attempt to ascertain the similarities between the two regimes, both past and present and conclude as to why both governments’ external relations can be fitted under the statements identified above. For ease throughout this article in reference to the island I have used Ceylon and Sri Lanka interchangeably but for clarification purposes, the term Sri Lanka was formulated through the 1972 constitution of the country.
Continue reading ‘“Friendship With All, Enmity With None”: An Assessment of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy In The Times of DS Senanayake and Maithripala Sirisena’ »

Three Sri Lankan Species of Goblin Spiders Named After Writers Carl Muller, Michael Ondaatje and Shyam Selvadurai


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The National Institute of Fundamental Studies (NIFS) scientists have named three new Sri Lankan tiny goblin spiders of the genus Brignolia species in honour of prominent Sri Lanka authors.

NIFS Science Education and Dissemination Unit Communication and Media Officer Pradeep Piyathilake told The Island yesterday that the study authored by NIFS scientist Prof. Suresh P. Benjamin and his graduate student Sasanka Ranasinghe was a result of a country-wide survey and careful study of newly collected material and the species kept in various museums.

Continue reading ‘Three Sri Lankan Species of Goblin Spiders Named After Writers Carl Muller, Michael Ondaatje and Shyam Selvadurai’ »

Many Irregularities at Jaffna University Highlighted in Auditor – General Report

By Ranjit J. Perera

The Auditor General in his report on the affairs of the University of Jaffna, for the year ended 31 December 2013, appears to have effectively obscured attention on several problems in this important seat of learning in north Sri Lanka. The report was published in the Government gazette just one day before a clash between two student groups forced the closure of the university on Saturday, 16 July.

The report states that dates to hold the examinations for various courses conducted under each faculty of the University and target dates to release results of the examinations had not been determined. The AG has observed that there were considerable delays in releasing the results of examinations ranging from one to 22 months from the date of examinations by the faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Management Studies and Commerce, Science and External Examination unit of the University during the years 2012 and 2013.

According to the University Grants Commission Circular No. 636 of 14 July 1995, the results of examinations should be released within three months after the examination. But, results had been delayed by a significant period as mentioned above, according to the report; thereby depriving students the opportunity to obtain employment in a timely manner.

Continue reading ‘Many Irregularities at Jaffna University Highlighted in Auditor – General Report’ »

C.V. Wigneswaran’s Rise to Power in 2013 Signified a Deep Rot and a Sign of Things to Come

By Rajan Hoole

Conflicting nationalist narratives – as adaptations of received history to explain the present and direct the future – have, for each community, its inner logic. This is evident in how the Sri Lankan media has treated the Jaffna University’s first clash between Tamil and Sinhalese students.

In this regard, the university has the opportunity of playing a constructive role in winning over its Sinhalese students through mutual understanding and respect, and thereby creating a base for demanding that other universities do likewise. That calls for courage, foresight and empathy.

Unfortunately, following the mores of its Sinhalese counterparts, today the Tamil cause is being presented by extremists and is mired in meaningless symbols, purposeless rituals and the exclusion of ‘others’ from particular spaces.

To understand the transition, we go back to the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 – the definitive statement of Tamil separatism. The essential grievance in it is that the Sri Lankan constitution of 1972 gave the foremost place to Buddhism and obliged the state to foster it. These provisions were protected in the second republican constitution of 1978 as well.

Whatever may be said in mitigation – for example, that the constitution also guarantees religious freedom to others – in effect, it is inequality and the denial of secularism. This, invariably, leads to the other principal grievance in the resolution: ‘Denying the Tamils equality of opportunity in the spheres of education, land alienation and economic life in general’.

Continue reading ‘C.V. Wigneswaran’s Rise to Power in 2013 Signified a Deep Rot and a Sign of Things to Come’ »

Kandy to Colombo March Clearly Showed Where the Rank and File of the SLFP Stood

By

Malinda Seneviratne

What did the Joint Opposition achieve by marching from Kandy to Colombo? What does it say about the strength of the joint Opposition? Does it say anything about the strength or otherwise of what is being called, tongue-in-cheek, the ‘Official SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party)’? Has to solidified the alliance between the SLFP and the United National Party (UNP)? Was it an exercise poorly timed because the SLF and the UNP government have been in power only for a year and a half and as such there’s little chance of this kind of agitation transforming into a mass upheaval resulting in regime-overthrow?

Let’s consider the facts. . Yes, it was organized a mere year and a half after Maithripala Sirisena became President and less than a year after the UNP won the General Election. There are two ways of looking at it. Some might say ‘too early’. True. There’s another way. If such numbers could be drawn to Colombo a mere year and a half after Maithripala Sirisena became President and less than a year after the UNP won the General Election it does indicate discontent of a significant nature. Putting it down to the ex President’s charisma or the stupidity of his followers will not rob it of this significance. Loyalties of protestors, ‘true objectives’ of the organizers, the reasons that drew the crowds are relevant of course, but in a political sense it is the show of strength that counts. We are not talking any more, after all, about the merits and demerits of one regime over another here.

Continue reading ‘Kandy to Colombo March Clearly Showed Where the Rank and File of the SLFP Stood’ »

Most Sinhala Students Reluctant to Return to Jaffna University Despite Security Assurances

By P.K.Balachandran

Hundreds of Sinhalese students of Jaffna University, who had fled to their homes in South Sri Lanka after a violent clash with their Tamil counterparts on July 16, are yet to come back to the campus despite assurances from the University Vice Chancellor that peace prevails and that their security is assured.

Sources in the University’s Jaffna campus told Express that out of about 800 Sinhalese students, only a handful have picked up courage to come back.

“Their fears are understandable. But we hope to see a good number returning in the coming week,” said a senior lecturer in the Arts faculty, who is also a public figure.

Continue reading ‘Most Sinhala Students Reluctant to Return to Jaffna University Despite Security Assurances’ »

Mahinda Looks the Other Way as Supporters Chant “Darley Parey Aapa Kadey” Opposite SLFP Headquarters

By

Rasika Jayakody

When the Joint Opposition’s ‘Paada Yatra’ protesters approached the SLFP headquarters at Darley Road, on Monday evening, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a patron of the SLFP and a party member for over 45 years, was leading the march.

The moment they saw the SLFP headquarters, protesters started chanting slogans against the party leadership and its headquarters. They dubbed the SLFP headquarters the “Darley Parey appa kadey” referring to President Sirisena’s infamous defection from the Rajapaksa camp before the Presidential election, last year.

Interestingly, former President Rajapaksa, the de facto leader of the march, looked the other way when his supporters insulted the party and its leadership. In fact, the majority of the protesters who insulted the party were members of the SLFP and it showed that they had no qualms about dividing the 65-year-old party to boost the political campaign of the Rajapaksas.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Looks the Other Way as Supporters Chant “Darley Parey Aapa Kadey” Opposite SLFP Headquarters’ »

Joint Opposition Now Prepared to Face Hustings as Separate Political Party Under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Leadership

by C. A. Chandraprema

The Joint Opposition’s pada yathra from Kandy to Colombo over five days from the 28th of July to the 1st August undoubtedly made political history. This country has not seen anything like it before. I observed the commencement of the pada yathra in Kandy on the 28th and its end in Mawanella that day and the commencement of its final leg from Kiribathgoda as well as the final janahamuwa at the Lipton Circus. Before the final leg began from Kiribathgoda, Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing the crowd that had assembled for the start, said he had organised pada yathras before but that was going to be the biggest such event the country had yet seen, and he was right. The sky was overcast from morning but the weather held till the pada yathra concluded at Lipton Circus and that was a major contributing factor to its success.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Now Prepared to Face Hustings as Separate Political Party Under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Leadership’ »

China Too Cunning to Fall Into Trap Set by Ranil Wickremesinghe

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Ranil Wickremesinghe recently went to China similar to when Gamini Dissanayake was sent by JR to India during the period 1983-1987 when India was growling at Sri Lanka. JR sent Gamini to India to see whether, the LTTE India made could be given back to India and put an end to the conflict here. Rajiv jumped at that suggestion and put the Indo-Lanka Agreement on to JR’s shoulders. JR also accepted it. Rajiv took on the burden of the LTTE.

At the end Rajiv had to pay compensation with his own life. Ranil went to China with a pill similar to JR’s. That was to escape from the Chinese loan trap by asking them to take over the Hambantota Harbour and the Mattala Airport which were built with Chinese financial assistance. What was apparent was that the Chinese were far more cunning than India. India swallowed JR’s pill. However, China did not swallow Ranil’s pill. Ranil suggested that the Hambantota Harbour and the Mattala Airport be handed over to China for a certain period of time.

Ranil had proposed that China set off the loans against the assigning of the harbour and the air port. However, China had refused to do so saying it was against the policies of their government. What China is saying indirectly is that they do not care whether there are ships arriving at Hambantota or not or whether air planes arrive at Mattala or not and what they want is for their loans and the interest to be paid to them.

Continue reading ‘China Too Cunning to Fall Into Trap Set by Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

The Undermining of Chanaka Amaratunga by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga

by Rajiva Wijesinha

Chanaka Amaratunga died 20 years ago on August 1st, 1996. He died a very disappointed man, for he had not been put into Parliament at the previous election. Those of us who have been in Parliament can vouch that that is no panacea for disappointment, given how sadly our Parliamentary traditions have been traduced. But Chanaka was a passionate believer in the Westminster system, the last perhaps to care deeply about its forms, with the possible exception of his great friend, Anura Bandaranaike.

I have written previously about the reasons Chanaka was not put in Parliament, but it is appropriate here, today, to note categorically that his hopes were destroyed by two people. In their careers they have often seemed polar opposites, but at the time they were united in their determination to keep Chanaka out. But I should note that it was not primarily dislike of him that motivated them, but rather fear – a much under-estimated factor in Sri Lankan politics. The fear was not of him but of another of his great friends, Gamini Dissanayake.

The two conspirators I refer to are Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga!

Continue reading ‘The Undermining of Chanaka Amaratunga by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Message Via Pada Yatra -“I am Here”;Joint Opposition Message Through Kandy – Colombo March -“We are Here”.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

In the Denzel Washington movie ‘The Equalizer’, a character explains his behaviour after an especially dramatic scene, saying “It sends a message: I am here”. That is the single most important effect of the significant Paada Yatra, the long march from Kandy to Colombo. Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent that same message to the political establishment and its external backers: “I AM HERE”. The Joint Opposition has done so collectively, saying “You may perpetrate the fraud that the TNA which has one thirds the seats that we have, is the official parliamentary Opposition, but as the national opposition, the real opposition, “WE ARE HERE!”.

To continue in the movie mode, the book by Elmore Leonard made into the film ‘Valdez is Coming’ has a scene in which the grizzled old mustachioed Mexican played by Burt Lancaster sends a laconic message through a survivor of his ambush,to his tormentors, the rich rancher and his gang,after he has begun to turn the tables on them with his sawed-off shotgun and Sharps buffalo gun: “Tell them, Valdez
is coming”.

Mahinda has signalled that he is on the move, and that he headed a gathering force and can field a credible formation at any and every election. If Ranil, CBK, and their foreign patrons thought that they had abolished the two party system in Sri Lanka and created a ‘bipartisan consensus’ which can grant the Tamil Diaspora’s punitive accountability and the TNA’s federalization demands, Mahinda, Dinesh and the JO have just signalled that the competitive two party system is returning in the transitional form of a tri-polar game.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Message Via Pada Yatra -“I am Here”;Joint Opposition Message Through Kandy – Colombo March -“We are Here”.’ »

Sri Lankan Beauty Queen cum Actress Jacqueline Fernandez will Serve as Brand Ambassador for Sri Lankan Airlines in India

Award-winning Sri Lankan carrier Srilankan Airlines, yesterday signed on board actress Jacqueline Fernandez, as their brand ambassador, Indian media reported.

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The letter of agreement was exchanged between Srilankan Airlines Chairman Ajit Dias and Jacqueline Fernandez, at St. Regis Hotel, in Mumbai.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Beauty Queen cum Actress Jacqueline Fernandez will Serve as Brand Ambassador for Sri Lankan Airlines in India’ »

Ranil’s outbursts against journalists: A case of controlling the narrative?

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The recent outburst against journalists by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has caused raised eyebrows, not least because it flies in the face of the yahapalana government’s pledges to create a freer environment for the media. The PM’s remarks at an event in Kandy on the 23rd were unabashedly threatening. He did not merely take a passing swipe at a media organization or journalist who wrote something critical about him or his government but, having named the Daily Mirror and referred to its editor (Kesara Abeywardena), went on at some length about how ‘these journalists need to be taught a good lesson.’ Here’s part of what he said:

“The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the foreign minister must be removed. This Daily Mirror editor has also told me to go as well. Now if he doesn’t go himself, we’ll have to see what we can do about it. He was constantly entertained at Mahinda Rajapaksa’s table, going ‘shopping’ for him. This newspaper attacked Muslims and Tamils. If these people are calling for the removal of our people, let’s teach them a good lesson before that. We shall last the full term of five years. If we get the people’s mandate we can go even further. We cannot allow these people to fool around like this.”

(The PM also threatened to soon reveal the names of print journalists who ‘wined and dined and made money with the rogues’ in the previous regime.)

Continue reading ‘Ranil’s outbursts against journalists: A case of controlling the narrative?’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Addresses Massive Crowd at Lipton Circus in Colombo at end of Five day Pada Yathra from Kandy

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Kandy-Colombo Pada Yathra was only a warm-up act and the Joint Opposition (JO) would achieve its goal with the help of the next mass protest, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Colombo last evening.

Addressing a massive crowd at the Lipton Circus at the conclusion of the five-day Pada Yathra, which had wended its way along the Kandy road, Rajapaksa said the JO and it allies were ready to give the masses anything they asked for.

The JO organisers said they had been compelled to hold their final meeting at the Lipton Circus as the government had denied them a place in the city for that purpose.

They said the government had ‘shamelessly’ prevented them from using all public grounds from Kandy to Colombo while extolling the virtues of good governance.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Addresses Massive Crowd at Lipton Circus in Colombo at end of Five day Pada Yathra from Kandy’ »

Police Made Series of Abortive Attempts to Sabotage Pada Yathra at Behest of Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Govt Alleges Joint Opposition.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Joint Opposition spokesman MP Udaya Gammanpila yesterday alleged that the police had made a series of abortive attempts to sabotage Pada Yathra at the behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.

The police acted as if they had been receiving directives from Sirikotha as regards the five-day protest, UPFA MP Gammanpila said. The MP was responding to a query by The Island in the wake of the police repeatedly seeking judicial intervention to restrain the protest. The police moved Kandy, Mawanella, Kegalle, Thulhiriya, Gampaha, Attanagalla and Colombo Magistrate’s courts unsuccessfully.

The Joint Opposition consists of nearly 50 MPs elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015.

Continue reading ‘Police Made Series of Abortive Attempts to Sabotage Pada Yathra at Behest of Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Govt Alleges Joint Opposition.’ »

Angelo Mathews Achieves What Legendary Captains Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardene Failed to Achieve

by Rex Clementine

On Saturday, Angelo Mathews achieved what even legendary Sri Lankan captains like Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardene failed to achieve. Mathews’ two predecessors were brilliant tacticians and had outstanding teams at their disposals, but never achieved a Test win against world’s best team – Australia. Mathews leading a young Sri Lankan team was able to bring down world’s number one ranked team as Sri Lanka won the first Test at Pallekele by 106 runs. Mathews joined Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya as the only Sri Lankan captain to have beaten Australia in a Test match.

Prior to the start of the first Test, Sri Lanka’s team was confirmed and Suranga Lakmal was certain to share the new ball with Nuwan Pradeep. But on the eve of the Test, Lakmal complained about tightness in his hamstring and on match day it was decided not to take a chance with Lakmal and hand Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan his Test debut. It proved to be a blessing in disguise as Sandakan teased the tourists with his wiles to finish with a match haul of seven wickets.

Continue reading ‘Angelo Mathews Achieves What Legendary Captains Arjuna Ranatunga and Mahela Jayawardene Failed to Achieve’ »

“Foreign Minister Samaraweera and his Prime Minister Must Stop Telling Untruths” – Dayan Jayatilleka

By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA [Former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva]

I write to refute a statement made with direct reference to me, by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in the course of his response to former President Rajapaksa in the newspapers of Monday August 1st 2016 under the caption “Enough is Enough”.

I have no intention of replying to Minister Samaraweera’s counter-critique of President Rajapaksa’s critical remarks on the structure of the Office of Missing Persons. However, as a student of comparative international politics I cannot help but note that Minister Samaraweera’s model of the OMP derives from contexts that are very different to that of Sri Lanka and thus has little relevance to us. The OMP derives from mechanisms for investigation into persons missing under military juntas in Latin America or mechanisms set up, also mainly in Latin America, in consequence of negotiated settlements arrived at, usually with external mediation/facilitation, between guerrilla movements and incumbent regimes.

Sri Lanka’s context is drastically different, i.e. that of a democratic state, with democratically elected governments, and whose legitimate armed forces fought a war strictly within its borders, against a terrorist enemy and won an outright victory. In no such context has there been a mechanism structured as the OMP is.

Continue reading ‘“Foreign Minister Samaraweera and his Prime Minister Must Stop Telling Untruths” – Dayan Jayatilleka’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Lambastes Mahinda Rajapaksa Over Setting up an Office on Missing Persons Issue

(Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s response to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statement on the Office on Missing Persons)

Presidential commissions, including those appointed by Mahinda Rajapaksa such as the LLRC and Paranagama Commissions, have received complaints from the tens thousands of family members of those who have gone missing due to conflicts in the North and South.

Even today, years after the guns have gone silent, on a daily basis, mothers – bearing hardship and financial burden – go from government office to office, from police station to army camp, in the desperate search for their sons. The mothers’ backgrounds are different but their grief is the same: for example, there are those whose sons were forcibly conscripted by the LTTE, those whose sons participated in the 1987 insurrection and those mothers whose sons joined the army, but for whom all that is left are three letters, MIA.

In fact, even today in my constituency of Matara, there are mothers who come to me searching for their long disappeared sons. These mothers hope against hope that their children are alive and at the very least, to put the past behind, they need to know how, where and why they died. During the meetings that we had with families of the missing from across the country over the last few months, there were mothers of soldiers who came to us asking us to at least find a small bone fragment of their missing sons so that they can find closure.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Lambastes Mahinda Rajapaksa Over Setting up an Office on Missing Persons Issue’ »

Joint Opposition Protest March Against Govt From Kandy to colombo Enters Final Phase on Monday


By Anura Balasuriya, Pradeep Samarakoon and Chaminda Silva

The Pada Yathra from Kandy to Colombo against the government entered its penultimate phase yesterday with the Joint Opposition protesters resuming the walk from Nitambuwa to Kiribathgoda around 9.30 a.m.

The organisers of Pada Yatra said they anticipated government sponsored moves to disrupt their protest march in Colombo. Nothing would deter them, they said.

The walk was joined by thousands of people carrying banners and shouting slogans against what they called government’s witch hunt against political opponents, removal of farmer subsidies,heavy taxes, ‘constitutional death trap’, postponement of local government elections etc.

The Nittambuwa-Kiribathgoda leg saw more people joining the walk compared with the first, second and third days.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Protest March Against Govt From Kandy to colombo Enters Final Phase on Monday’ »

Seventh Ranked Sri Lanka Spins its Way to Incredible 106 Run Victory Over No 1 Ranked Australia in Opening Test Played at Pallekalle

By Aubrey Kuruppu in Pallekele

Angelo Matthews’ much-maligned men performed the incredible when they swept to a 106-run win over Australia slightly before tea on day five of the opening Test in the series at the Pallekele Stadium yesterday.

Under the cash for their performances from the World Cup, the Sri Lankans, unheralded and unsung, came back in a big way to net the biggest fish of them all — the number one ranked team in the world. Tutored and advised no end in the art of playing spin on turning wickets, when it came to the crunch, the Aussies (save for one or two), found the Sri Lankan spinners a difficult proposition.

The reliable left-armer Rangana Herath had a match-bag of 9 for 103, while debutant Lakshan Sandakan finished with seven for 102. More importantly, he sowed the seeds of doubt in Aussies minds by his sharp and unreadable spin.

Continue reading ‘Seventh Ranked Sri Lanka Spins its Way to Incredible 106 Run Victory Over No 1 Ranked Australia in Opening Test Played at Pallekalle’ »

Police Investigating Whether “External Elements” Were Behind Violent Incidents at the Jaffna Varsity

Police are investigating whether any external element was behind the recent violence at Jaffna University while a committee appointed by the university administration conducts its own inquiry into the matter.

Violence erupted over the disputed staging of a Kandyan dance act during festivities welcoming first-year students to the university on July 16.

“We are investigating every possible way to determine the culprits and the cause behind this incident. We are also looking at whether this just a clash between two student groups or any hidden hand behind the attack. So far, nothing has been established,” Jaffna Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police P.P.S.M. Dharmaratne said.

Continue reading ‘Police Investigating Whether “External Elements” Were Behind Violent Incidents at the Jaffna Varsity’ »

Australia is not Sri Lanka’s Enemy and Muttiah Muralitharan is not a Traitor to his Country

by Gamini Weerakoon

Muttiah Muralitharan, who brought unparalleled fame and glory in cricket to Sri Lanka not so long ago, was last week being accused by this country’s cricketing nincompoops, fanatical nationalists and bookie associates of treason! It was indeed ironic that while this baying at the moon was continuing, the supreme body for Cricket, the ICC announced that he would be inducted into its Hall of Fame along with three other Greats of the Game.

When Murali (as he is called in the cricketing world) turned out for Sri Lanka his bowling action appeared to be suspect to the most spectators but those well informed in cricket strongly believed that his delivery was ‘ legal’ and was in accordance to the rules of cricket. Had he been thrashed all-round the wicket and out of the grounds he would surely have disappeared. But Murali kept taking wickets and the best batsmen in international cricket were bamboozled by him.

Unplayable Murali, dubbed the ‘Smiling Assassin’ was accused of ‘Chucking’ and our friends across the Palk Strait was quick to award him the honorific Indian title of ‘Chuckravarthi’.

Continue reading ‘Australia is not Sri Lanka’s Enemy and Muttiah Muralitharan is not a Traitor to his Country’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Trying to Sabotage the “Pada Yatra” from Day One of the Protest March.

By Skandha Gunasekara

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa charged that the government had attempted to sabotage the Pada Yathra protest walk from day one of the march.

Addressing media persons during the walk yesterday, the former President alleged that attempts to disrupt the walk began with the arrest of his brother and former Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Trying to Sabotage the “Pada Yatra” from Day One of the Protest March.’ »

“Events”Organized by Powerful Minister Along Route of Kandy -Colombo Protest March While Govt Denies Blocking “Pada Yatra”

BY SHAAHIDAH RIZA AND RATHINDRA KURUWITA

The government will not be a barrier to the Joint Opposition’s (JO) Pada Yathra; however they might self-impose a barrier and blame it on the government, said Cabinet Spokesperson and Minister for Health Rajitha Senaratne.

Addressing a media briefing yesterday he also denied that the government has not blocked any grounds in order to prevent them from having their event.

Continue reading ‘“Events”Organized by Powerful Minister Along Route of Kandy -Colombo Protest March While Govt Denies Blocking “Pada Yatra”’ »

Six SLFP Chief Ministers Warn of Disciplinary Action Against Party Provincial Councillors Participating in Protest March


By Dasun Edirisinghe

SLFP Chief Ministers of Provincial Councils yesterday asked their PC members not to participate in the Pada Yatra protest march organised by the Joint Opposition from Kandy to Colombo, starting today.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Colombo, six chief ministers from Western, Southern, North Western, North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces warned that the SLFP Central Committee would take disciplinary action against those attending the protest march.

Continue reading ‘Six SLFP Chief Ministers Warn of Disciplinary Action Against Party Provincial Councillors Participating in Protest March’ »

Mawanella Magistrate Orders Joint Opposition To Seek Alternative Route For Protest March to Avoid Mawanella Town

By Chaminda Jayalath and Kavindya Chris Thomas

Mawanella Magistrate L.K. Mahinda yesterday ordered the Joint Opposition (JO), which is set to start its march from Kandy to Colombo today, to use alternative routes circumventing the Mawanella town and its city limits.

The JO is set to kick off its much touted four-day protest march from Kandy to Colombo this morning and its first stop was to be at Mawanella town.

Continue reading ‘Mawanella Magistrate Orders Joint Opposition To Seek Alternative Route For Protest March to Avoid Mawanella Town’ »

Kandy Magistrate Issues Orders Keeping the UNP and Joint Opposition Activists Apart to Avoid Possible Breach of Peace

by Cyril Wimalasurendre

Kandy Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala after considering an application by the police ordered the organisers of the Joint Opposition’s protest march from Kandy to Colombo starting today to commence the march from outside the city limits.

The magistrate also ordered the membership drive organised by the United National Party (UNP) to follow suit this afternoon.

In the wake of the court ruling, the Joint Opposition yesterday announced that the Jana Satana Pada Yatra would begin from Getambe at 9 am. A senior spokesman said that they would go ahead with the protest campaign as planned.

The Magistrate stated that both groups could perform their religious observances in the morning.

Continue reading ‘Kandy Magistrate Issues Orders Keeping the UNP and Joint Opposition Activists Apart to Avoid Possible Breach of Peace’ »

Kandy – Colombo Protest March by Joint Opposition Will Commence From Galaha Junction in Peradeniya at 9 am on July 28th

By

Ajith Siriwardana

The Joint Opposition said today that they would commence their scheduled Pada Yathra from Galaha Junction tomorrow morning while respecting the court order not to conduct the protest march within the Kandy city limits.

Continue reading ‘Kandy – Colombo Protest March by Joint Opposition Will Commence From Galaha Junction in Peradeniya at 9 am on July 28th’ »

Muttiah Muralitharan will be First Sri Lankan to be Inducted by International Cricket Council Into the ICC Hall of Fame

The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced today that Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

He is the first Sri Lankan to be accorded the honour.

Continue reading ‘Muttiah Muralitharan will be First Sri Lankan to be Inducted by International Cricket Council Into the ICC Hall of Fame’ »

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara Come Out In Defence of Former Team Mate Muttiah Muralitharan

Cricket heavyweights Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have come out in defense of former team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan, saying the spin-king need not defend his decision to coach the Australian team.

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Canadian foreign Minister Stephane Dion’s Official Visit to Sri Lanka takes Place After 13 years says Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion will arrive in Sri Lanka on an official visit , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced .

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sri Lanka said:

‘This bilateral official visit to Sri Lanka by a Foreign Minister of Canada takes place after 13 years, and within less than a year since the formation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Government.’

Continue reading ‘Canadian foreign Minister Stephane Dion’s Official Visit to Sri Lanka takes Place After 13 years says Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry’ »

“Murali is a great Son of Sri Lanka who is free to coach anyone and does not need to defend himself ” – Kumar Sangakkara.

Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara said that spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan doesn’t have to defend himself as ‘Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka’.

“Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka and he doesn’t have to defend himself. He love his country. He is free to consult or coach anyone,” Sanga tweeted.

Continue reading ‘“Murali is a great Son of Sri Lanka who is free to coach anyone and does not need to defend himself ” – Kumar Sangakkara.’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Does not want any Change to the Due Place Given to Buddhism in Constitution

By

Amaradasa Silva

The right status and respect deserved for Buddhism should remain intact in the constitution, Colombo’s Archbishop Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said today.

He expressed this view while participating at a religious ceremony held under the patronage of Chief incumbent Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thera at the Sri Sambodhi Viharaya in Colombo.

The ceremony was held to confer the honour on the new Mahanayaka of the Asgiri Chapter Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera and the Anunayaka Theras and the Secretary Thera of the Asgiri Chapter and the Chief Incumbent Thera.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Does not want any Change to the Due Place Given to Buddhism in Constitution’ »

Instead of Getting Lankans Like Murali to Coach Young Spinners SL Cricket Board Prefers to bring white People from Abroad


Sri Lanka’s record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan launched a blistering attack Monday on his former bosses after they complained about his behaviour in his new role as a mentor to Australia.

After his former employers said Muralitharan was damaging his legacy, the 44-year-old accused Sri Lanka’s board of setting him up as a fall guy if the hosts lose a series to the visiting Australians.

And Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test history, then accused the board president of knowing nothing about cricket and angrily denounced any suggestion of being “a traitor”.

“If Sri Lanka loses, they (the board) will say it is because of Murali,” he said in a recorded statement which was sent to AFP.

Continue reading ‘Instead of Getting Lankans Like Murali to Coach Young Spinners SL Cricket Board Prefers to bring white People from Abroad’ »

Jaffna Varsity Student President Thankeswaran Sisitharan Assures “We will not Allow Such a Fracas to take Place Again”.

BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN

It was just a another clash between two groups studying at the same campus, but this clash at the Jaffna University aroused much attention on 16 July onwards. The sudden outbreak of verbal abuse, pelting of stones and fisticuffs erupted over a matter that should have been solved on the previous night (15 July), says the President of the University of Jaffna Student Union Federation, Sisitharan Thankeswaran , a final year Management student hailing from Batticaloa.

Sisitharan agreed to talk to Ceylon Today, on condition that the writer would not misquote him, nor publish anything that could land him in trouble again. When queried over this attitude of his, he said that he had to surrender to the Police because most of the boys knew him well as the President of the Union and someone had lodged a complaint against him. “I was beaten up by them when I tried to push myself amidst an angry group of students to talk the groups to avoid confrontation, and then I had to be the one to surrender to the police, which was a very unfortunate situation,” he added.

Sisitharan explains, to begin with, the Sinhala students do not have a union of their own with whom they could sit and plan out, without interacting with everyone. On the 15th evening when everything was planned and the programme schedule was printed after prior approval from the relevant Deans and officers in charge, a group of Sinhala students suggested that the welcome parade should also have the Kandyan cultural dance. Immediately the student council that represents the Science Faculty informed the Union. I was told that the Sinhala students wished to have a Kandyan dance included in the welcome ceremony too.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna Varsity Student President Thankeswaran Sisitharan Assures “We will not Allow Such a Fracas to take Place Again”.’ »