Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s three-day visit to China beginning on Wednesday, is aimed at putting Lanka on a new economic trajectory with new systems in place to revive the ailing mega projects of the Rajapaksa era and to make the proposed US$ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City an international business hub with its own financial and other laws.
The difference between the Rajapaksa regime and the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is that while the former simply got the Chinese to put up infrastructural facilities with money loaned by them, without a thought for their economic viability, the present government wants China to ‘invest’ there to make them money spinners for Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Ranil’s China Visit Aims at Reviving China Funded Megaprojects Under Rajapaksa regime and Promote Direct Chines Investment Instead of Aid’ »
Three hundred fishermen of Mullativu, one of the most backward districts in Sri Lanka and where the civil war came to an end in a brutal way, will get 150 boats and fishing equipment.
The boats and the equipment will be “gifts” of the Indian government, which will spend SLR 100 million.
Continue reading ‘India Gifts 150 Boats and Fishing Equipment Worth 100 Million Sri Lankan Rupes to aid 300 Fishermen in Mullaitheevu District’ »
During an interview with the Minister of Megapolis and Western Province Patalie Champika Ranawaka on the issues that surfaced with the power outages that affected the entire country, he categorically stated that this was the work of a Mafia within the CEB.
You were once the Minister of Power. What was this issue connected with the power supply?
I wish to state frankly that in Sri Lanka there was no power issue that occurred due to an unavoidable situation. As a former subject minister who held the office for four years, and as a person who has a wide knowledge in this field, I firmly state that there was no “Black Out.” In other words, there was no unavoidable power failure. It should be first defined that what a power failure is and what a black out is. Black out means a total power failure in the system. Normally a power failure could occur due to a transformer blast due to lightning. During a cyclonic situation there could be destructions to the circuit. These all could occur due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and power cuts could be experienced. Other than that, when urgent maintenance work was being done, there could be power interruptions. These are done after prior notice and they are referred to as ‘Scheduled Power Cuts’.
Continue reading ‘“Diesel Mafia” Racketeers Within Electricity Board Responsible For Power Outage Crisis Alleges Cabinet Minister Champika Ranawaka’ »
By Chamodi Gunawardana
Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) politburo member Kumar Gunaratnam’s mother Rajamani Gunaratnam yesterday urged the Government to provide Sri Lankan citizenship for her son.
Speaking at a media briefing organised by the FSP she claimed she was afraid for her son’s life after he was transferred to the Anuradapura Prison from the Kegalle Prison.
“He was sentenced to one year in jail for violating immigration law and detained at the Kegalle Prison. Now he has been transferred to Anuradapura Prison which is really far away from our residence. Therefore I am unable to visit him regularly,” she claimed.
Rajamani insisted the Government’s decision to move Gunaratnam to Anuradapura from Kegalle would threaten his safety.
Continue reading ‘FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Mother Rajamani Gunaratnam Fearful Over Her Son’s Safety in Anuradhapura Prison’ »
By Madura Ranwala
The Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested three Sri Lankan heroin kingpins in connection with the latest and biggest ever haul of heroin detected in the southern sea in a joint operation with Sri Lanka Navy last Wednesday and brought ashore on Friday.
The narcotics weighed 110 kilos and 14 foreign drug smugglers were earlier taken into custody with a multi-day fishing craft used to smuggle the contraband. Navy spokesman Captain Akram Alavi initially told media on Friday the heroin detected weighed 101 kilos.
Police spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said that the main drug lord involved in distributing heroin in the country had been arrested by the officers of Emigration and Immigration at the Bandaranaike International Airport around 12.15 a.m. yesterday when he arrived in the country from India.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Narcotics Kingpin Triad Comprising Muas Mohammed, Sundarage Sumudu Tharanga and Bandara Anil Rohan Arrested by Police.’ »
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will visit Beijing this week; his first to China since becoming the Prime Minister. Not only would his much anticipated visit bring clarity to Sri Lanka’s recently troubled ties with China, it would also signal that, at a domestic level, Sri Lankan politics is returning to reality. It may be tempting to read geo-politics into the recent strains on the bilateral relationship, but it was local politics that was the primary catalyst.
China got caught in the middle of a no-holds-barred election campaign between the ex-president and the incumbent. Beijing’s cozy relations with the former regime, which anyway had few good international friends, became a convenient target. Since the main accusation against the Rajapaksa regime was corruption, the main financier of most of Rajapaksa’s landmark projects could not go unscathed. In the election platforms, China became the fountainhead of all evil.
It was a major turnaround of things, no less dramatic than the fall of ex-president Rajapaksa himself from all mighty heroic king to a zero kleptocrat or at least it was projected to be so.
Not long ago, China was held with affection by many millions in the South for maintaining a ready supply of weapons to fight terrorism, at a time most other states refused to sell us weapons and defend the country at the UN. Suddenly to their bewilderment, the Chinese found themselves at the other end of the equation: The neo-imperialist that ripped the country off through its unsolicited projects and has propped up a corrupt regime.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Visit to China Shows Sri Lankan Domestic Politics Is Returning To Reality’ »
In the post-war North and East housing is a dire need. The provision of permanent housing, as well as livelihood creation, is pivotal for the resettlement of communities. As such, a Cabinet decision to build 65,000 houses for war-affected communities seemed to be a move in the right direction for a Government that came into power on promises of reconciliation and economic prosperity.
However, with a foreign contractor about to be handed the task of handling the housing project, many have now labelled the initiative a disaster deal and hope is fast fading. The deal will offer Arcelor Mittal, a company headquartered in Luxemburg, a contract to build 65,000 prefabricated steel houses, which are to be imported and assembled within a short period of time.
That the drop in steel prices in the world market and losses for the world’s leading steel producer led to the decision to seek out a post-war destination to export ready-made steel is understandable. However, as to why the Sri Lankan Government agreed to make Sri Lanka a dumping ground for a multinational is more baffling. Does this point to a continuing failure to initiate reconstruction and curb increasing economic costs such as that seen during the rule of the previous Government?
Continue reading ‘Why Is Govt Letting Arcelor Mittal “Construct”65,000 Pre-fabricated Houses Costing One Billion US Dollars in North?’ »
Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has told the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that he reserved the right to take legal action against its refusal to furnish a certified copy of Acting IGP S.M. Wickremesinghe’s directive that he be summoned to record a statement pertaining to the recent detection of explosives in the Chavakachcheri police area.
Prof. Peiris has requested a certified copy thrice. Subsequently, Prof. Peiris told the CID to include his request in the statement recorded in connection with the Chavakachcheri detection.
Prof. Peiris called for a copy of Acting IGP’s directive after the CID admitted the absence of first information to pave the way for the former Minister to be summoned.
Continue reading ‘Prof.G.L.Peiris Warns Police Of Legal Action If CID Does Not Furnish Certified Copy of acting IGP’s Directive to Quiz Him Over Detection Of Explosives In North’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Sri Lankans were blithely reassured this week by President Maithripala Sirisena that they need not fear the Ides of March anymore, taking into account the annual critical focus on the country by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
But in truth, this claim is unduly optimistic.
Reducing of the ‘yahapalanaya’ brand
If the concerns of the Wanni’s war afflicted are not prioritized in transitional justice initiatives and the end result contemplates superficially attractive ‘packages’ stamped with the ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) seal, international scrutiny may return, albeit in a different form.
More ominously, disaffection in the North will simmer. This will only allow unscrupulous politicians to take advantage if and when the occasion so presents itself. Our ill-omened history surely teaches us this. The Government’s record so far is not reassuring. One recent example is the housing project in the former war theatre caught up in a tug of war for profits between competing political interests and corporate interests. This has left displaced people (the unfortunate would-be occupiers) out in the cold, with the possibility of having to settle for sub-standard housing units.
Continue reading ‘Growing Disconnect Within Govt Itself As Well As Between The Political Leadership And The People.’ »
Forthcoming bilateral talks with China were expected to advance relations between the two countries to a new level, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office said in a statement issued yesterday.
Premier Wickremesinghe is scheduled to leave for Beijing on Wednesday (April 6) for a three-day visit
Text of PM’s Office statement is as follows –
“This is his first visit as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to the People’s Republic of China, since the Good Governance Government of President Maithripala Sirisena was formed in January last year.
On this visit, he will be holding high level discussions with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of The National People’s Congress, Zhang Dejiang. These discussions are expected to advance the relations between the two countries to a new level.
Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Visit to China Expected to take Bi-lateral relations to a new Level’ »
The Joint Opposition launched a signature campaign last week demanding that the local government election which had been postponed Since March 2015 be held. With this we saw the government explaining that they can’t hold the LG election just yet until the delimitation of the wards has been completed.
The Chairman of the Elections Commission also came on TV to explain that their hands are tied because the delimitation of the wards was not complete.
The Minister of Local Government Faizer Mustapha came on TV to assure the public that the delimitation will be over by August and the Elections Commissioner said that they need two and a half months to hold the election after the delimitation is complete.
If the government sticks to these timeframes, we may have the LG elections at the end of this year or early next year.
In any event this is the first time since 1975 that the government has been dodging an election though games of staggering Provincial Council elections instead of having them all on the same day have been played.
Nearly three decades ago, in 1987 when the present Pradeshiya Sabha system was first introduced, the boot was on the other foot. The UNP government of the day wanted to hold the local government election but the opposition parties including the SLFP, SLMP, MEP, CP, and NSSP wanted to boycott the LG elections held that year on the grounds that their participation in the local government election would give the government an opportunity to legitimize their rule in the context where the UNP government had extended the life of the 1977 parliament through a referendum.
Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition on the Offensive Demanding LG Polls Puts “Delaying” Sirisena Govt on the Defensive’ »
The ‘Tiger card’ was the trump card constantly trotted out by the Rajapaksa regime, especially when they faced crucial elections during the last five years of its rule. With the collapse of that regime, the pro-Rajapaksa camp, over the past year, had different ways of pulling out the ‘Tiger card’ in attempts to turn the tables on its political opponents.
On the one hand, they promote a constant ‘gratitude’ to the former President for the defeat of the LTTE by the armed forces in 2009. This ‘gratitude’ to one personality ignores or belittles the other major players who brought an end to the Eelam insurgency and the numerous other factors that also contributed to its defeat. The Rajapaksa followers would claim ad nauseam on electoral platforms was that it was the Rajapaksas who allowed the country and its citizens to ‘breathe freely’, liberating them from the clutches of terrorism.
On the other hand, they also use the ‘Tiger card’ to create a fear psychosis among citizens, claiming that any reduction of Rajapaksa influence would make way for the resurgence of Tigers. Highly sensitive terms such as ‘national security’ are often invoked by the pro-Rajapaksa politicians to try to preserve the image of the top brass of the past regime in the face of serious bribery and corruption charges now being leveled against them. Such Tiger claims were often heard during periods of elections when rabble-rousing was needed to garner the support of segments of the more conservative Sinhala voters.
Continue reading ‘Prof.G.L.Peiris used as Political Cat’s paw by Rajapaksa camp to Magnify Detection of Explosives in North as Major National Security Threat’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Northern Governor Reginald Cooray on Thursday said that families of LTTE cadres continued to occupy lands which had been seized during the conflict even six years after the conclusion of the war.
Addressing the media at his official residence at Battaramulla, Governor Cooray said that the LTTE, too, had seized land by evicting people. However, today the focus was only on land taken over by the military.
The former parliamentarian pointed out that the LTTE as well as other armed groups had carried out indiscriminate abductions during the conflict though the military was solely targeted.
The Governor said that the military shouldn’t be discriminated against. During the war, the LTTE, too, established high security zones in the Vanni region to protect its runways and key military bases.
Continue reading ‘Lands Seized by LTTE During Conflict Still Occupied by “Tiger” Families States Northern Governor Reginald Cooray’ »
By Madura Ranwala
The Navy and the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB), in a joint operation, yesterday took into custody the biggest ever haul of heroin brought into the country via sea; it weighed 101 kilos. Eleven foreign drug smugglers—a Pakistan national and 10 Iranians—were also arrested.
The heroin had been smuggled from Pakistan to Sri Lanka in multi-day fishing craft via the southern seas, sources said.
Continue reading ‘101 Kilos Of Heroin Smuggled in Fishing Vessel With Crew of 10 Iranians and I Pakistani Seized in Southern Sri Lanka Seas by Navy and Police’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) supporters yesterday stormed the Immigration and Emigration Office at Punchi Borella.
Protesters accused the Immigration and Emigration of facilitating a government project to expel their leader Kumar Gunaratnam (49) arrested by the government on a charge of violating Immigration and Emigration laws.
Gunaratnam was arrested last November for overstaying his visa.
Having caused damage to public property and clashed with the police they dispersed.
The police said that the majority of those who had been involved in the protest were university students.
Continue reading ‘Frontline Socialist Party Activists Storm Immigration and Emigration Office at Punchi Borella Protesting Over Kumar Gunaratnam Issue’ »
by Izeth Hussain
I have argued for many years that the Sinhalese side can safely give any amount of devolution to the Tamils without that leading to separation by a supposedly ineluctable linear progression. Separation can take place only if the Sinhalese side is unable to prevent it, because of defeat in war or intervention by a foreign power or for some other reason.
I never had a reply to that argument, obviously because at the theoretical level that argument is unassailable. But what about the practical level?
The ground realities can change in such a way that what is valid at the theoretical level can become invalid at the practical level. That indeed, I must acknowledge, has happened to my argument.
Continue reading ‘“My View Is That Tamil Anti-Muslim Hatred Is Much Greater Than That Of The Sinhalese”’ »
He was stubborn as a mule, ate what he pleased, refused to see a doctor, take meds and get a medical checkup when it was necessary. He always said, “You’ll know what’s wrong with you only if you get a checkup, not if you don’t.” Prasad chose to be blissfully oblivious until he passed away at the age of 61 on March 30.
Prasad Gunewardene started his illustrious career in journalism that span nearly 40 years, in 1978 at Sun Newspaper and subsequently Dawasa, both now defunct. From then on he worked at a number of newspapers. He was the Parliamentary lobby correspondent and News Editor at The Island, former Asian Tribune Colombo Correspondent, Senior Associate Editor of both Sunday Observer and Daily News, Editor of now defunct Friday magazine, Acting Editor of Lanka Puwath News Agency, Associate Editor of Ceylon Today and Senior Deputy Editor at The Nation.
Continue reading ‘Senior Journalist Prasad Gunewardene Passes Away at the age of 61 on March 30th – Funeral on April 3rd .’ »
There’s nothing funny about explosives and explosions. Nothing to salivate about. And yet, we are hearing guffaws and seeing people licking their lips. All this because some explosives were found buried in Chavakachcheri.
The derision obviously comes from the Opposition or rather those affiliated with what is now called the ‘Joint Opposition’. Obvious because of the way the two camps have broadly viewed two interrelated factors: terrorism and security.
The movers and shakers of this regime have a long history of pooh-poohing threats to national security. On the other hand, those in the Join Opposition have a long history of being fascinated with national security to the point of paranoia.
Similarly the former set has always hobnobbed with the LTTE and bet on negotiations, while the latter advocated military approaches. All this, of course, framed by political prerogatives.
The Joint Opposition knows, given the uncalled for complacency on the part of the Government, an explosion somewhere (Anywhere in fact) would cause a lot of embarrassment.
Continue reading ‘Real “Chavakachcheri Bomb” Lies in the Heart of Colombo and Not the Northern Province’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray yesterday said that the deadly cache detected at Meesalai, Chavakachcheri had been brought there to cause destruction.
The armaments couldn’t have been brought in for a peaceful purpose, Governor Cooray said, asserting that moderates always attracted the wrath of extremists. The NP Governor was addressing the media at his Battaramulla office.
Asked whether President Maithripala Sirisena could have been targeted by the LTTE, Governor Cooray said various theories could be propagated. The former minister said that he could claim that he was being targeted whereas others may claim that various other individuals and places were the likely targets.
Continue reading ‘Northern Governor Reginald Cooray Says Arms Cache Detected in Chavakachcheri was Brought There to Cause Destruction’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
An LTTE cadre now under interrogation had brought a suicide jacket, four claymore mines, three parcels containing about 12 kgs of TNT, two battery packs as well as 100 rounds of 9mm ammunition to a safe house in Chavakachcheri area, in Jaffna on Sunday night.
The police identified the suspect as Edward Julian alias Ramesh (32).
A raiding police party on Tuesday (March 29) night found the armaments in a room. The suspect hadn’t been present at the time of the raid, sources told The Island.
The police arrested the suspect at a check point at Wannerikulam in the Kilinochchi District.
Continue reading ‘Search Mounted for LTTE Suspect named Sivadharshan After Details of “Attack Plan” Surface Following Discovery of Northern Arms Cache’ »
The accidental discovery of an arms cache, including three parcels of TNT and a suicide jacket, in a house at Chavakachcheri in Jaffna District on Wednesday, may hinder the demilitarization of the Northern Province which is one of the major post-war demands of Sri Lankan Tamils and which was promised to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by the Lankan government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena.
Opponents of demilitarization like MP Namal Rajapaksa have already tweeted that the cache is a sign of the resurgence of the LTTE and that there is no case for lowering vigil.
Continue reading ‘Discovery of Arms Cache in Jaffna District May Hinder Envisaged De-militarization of Northern Province’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The police yesterday afternoon arrested an LTTE cadre following the recovery of a suicide jacket, four claymore mines, three parcels containing about 12 kilos of TNT explosives, two battery packs as well as some 9mm ammunition from the suspect’s house in the Chavakachcheri police area.
The recovery had been made on information provided by the second wife of the Tiger identified as Edward Julian alias Ramesh, security sources told The Island, adding that the house was situated at Vallakulam Pillaiyar Kovil Street in the Maravanpulo area. Ramesh was taken into custody at Wannerikulam, in the Kilinochchi District.
Immediately after the recovery, the police and troops put up a road block at Wannerikulam, where the suspect was taken into custody.
Continue reading ‘32 Year Old Ex -LTTE Cadre Edward Julian alias Ramesh Arrested At Vannerikulam Following Discovery of Concealed Arms Cache in Maravanpulo.’ »
by Dasun Edirisinghe
The government had not told the public the whole truth regarding yesterday’s detection of suicide kits, bombs and explosives from the Chavakachcheri police area in Jaffna, the Joint Opposition charged.
Addressing the media at the Dr N. M. Perera Centre in Borella, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said that according to their information there were five claymore mines, two suicide jackets, three bags of C4 explosives and five telephone SIM cards and they were to be sent to Wellawatte.
He said the Police had reportedly raided the house after receiving a tip-off that the owner had in his possession ganja, but it turned out to be a lethal cache.
Continue reading ‘Prof GL Peiris Alleges 5 Claymore mines, 2 Suicide Jackets And 3 C4 Explosives Bags Found in North’ »
By Chamodi Gunawardana
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee (CC) will not take disciplinary action against its MPs who were present at the Joint Opposition ‘Jana Satana’ rally in Hyde Park said Minister and SLFP Spokesman Dilan Perera yesterday.
Justifying the delay in taking action against them Perera said the CC has no reason to do so because they did not make any defamatory remarks of President Maithripala Sirisena or any senior of the party while addressing the rally.
“The CC cannot find any fault with their participation and we believe the rally was organised within the scope of party’s discipline,” Perera said.
Continue reading ‘SLFP Central Committee Backs Out of Taking Action Against Defiant Party Members who Attended Hyde Park Rally’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi yesterday said tangible measures were being taken to promote post-war national reconciliation, address accountability issues in accordance with the Geneva Resolution and address grievances of the military.
Hettiarachchi said that in support of the on-going reconciliation efforts the Army had built a housing scheme Sanhindiyawe Sathvirugama (Sathvirugama village of Reconciliation) at Kokeliya, Vavuniya. The housing scheme comprising 51 houses would be distributed among serving Tamil women soldiers and soldiers married to Tamils, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said.
President Maithripala Sirisena will hand over the housing scheme on April 3.
Continue reading ‘51 Houses Built by Army Kokeliya in Vavuniya will Be Distributed to Tamil Women in Army and Sinhala Soldiers Married to Tamil Women’ »
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday urged all SLFPers serving in the government to beware that the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) agreement with India mooted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and backed by President Sirisena would have far reaching consequences for the country and, therefore, they had to choose where they stood on the matter.
Rajapaksa said: “Although Indian exports flow into Sri Lanka without any obstruction under the existing free trade agreement, Sri Lankan exports to India have come up against various impediments such as quantity limitations, licensing requirements, non-acceptance of Sri Lankan product certification and state taxes at the Indian end. Our suggestion to the present government is that such outstanding issues be sorted out to enable Sri Lanka to obtain the due benefit under the existing FTA before the trade relationship is taken to the next level.”
Following is the full text of the statement issued by the ex-President:
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants All SLFP’ers in Govt to Decide Where They Stand on the Issue of Signing the ECTA Pact With India’ »
The compromise reached by the Sri Lankan government and the Lankan construction industry on the controversial issue of building 65,000 houses for the war displaced in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, has left the affected Tamils with no choice but to live in Arcelor Mittal’s flimsy, pre-fabricated PVC and steel houses, unsuited to the warm climate and culture of North Lanka.
Sources in the Lankan builders’ consortium, Major Constructors of Sri Lanka (MCSL), told Express that as per the compromise, Lakshmi Mittal’s company, ArcelorMittal, will build 65,000 its type of houses in the North, as already planned, and the MCSL will build 65,000 brick and mortar houses elsewhere.
Continue reading ‘Tamils Compelled to Live in Arcelor Mittai’s Pre-fabricated PVC and Steel Houses Unsuited to Warm Climate and Culture of Northern Lanka’ »
Legendary playback singer of South Indian languages, P Susheela, celebrated for her versatility, has entered the Guinness World Records for recording highest number of songs in several languages in a career spanning over half a century.
Legendary playback singer P. Susheela holds certificate of Guinness World Records title for the highest number of solo, duet and chorus backed songs in over six Indian languages. In an official certificate presented by Guinness it was verified that she has sung 17,695 solo, duet and chorus backed songs as on January 28, 2016. – PTI
“Pulapaka Susheela Mohan (born 1935) has reportedly recorded up to 17,695 solo, duet and chorus backed songs in over six Indian languages since the 1960s, as verified on 28 January 2016,” said a citation of the Guinness World Records.
She has sung songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and other Indian languages.
Speaking to reporters here, she said it was “a big honour having sung so many thousands of songs” and recalled how her debut began in Tamil film “Petra Thai” in 1952 (a duet ’Etharkku Azhaithai’ with A M Raja) and how film producer AV Meyappa Chettiar supported her by identifying her talent during her early years.
Continue reading ‘P.SUSHEELA ENTERS GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS FOR SINGING 17,695 SOLO, DUET AND CHORUS BACKED SONGS IN SIX LANGUAGES’ »
By Roshne B
Versatile singer, Padma Bhushan awardee P Susheela has added yet another feather to her cap by entering the Guinness Book of World Records. The mellifluous singer broke the previous record of 11,000 solo songs by singer Asha Bhosle to enter the Guinness Book.
The citation presented by the agency to the five-time national award winning singer read, “Pulapaka Susheela Mohan, India (1935) has reportedly recorded up to 17,695 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs in over six Indian languages since the 1960s.”
Continue reading ‘Veteran Playback Singer P.Susheela Breaks Guinness World Record Set by Asha Bhosle for 11,000 Solo Songs’ »
Upul Joseph Fernando
Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists who were jubilant over an invitation extended to Mahinda by the Chinese Government boasted about that invitation extended in November last year. Mahinda was scheduled to fly to China last December.
However, Parliamentarians close to Mahinda’s heart claimed that China would help only if Mahinda came to power.
In the midst of this fanfare about the invitation, Chinese Special Envoy Liu Zhemin visited Colombo last October to meet President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
However, Zhemin’s meet with Mahinda thus deviating from the normal Chinese protocol caused confusion in political circles. In keeping with Chinese diplomatic practices, usually Chinese envoys call on VVIPs and VIPs in office and not on Members of the Opposition.
That was evidently witnessed during Mahinda’s regime as none of the visiting diplomats ever called on leaders in the Opposition. Hence, Zhemin’s meet with Mahinda may have been viewed with suspicion by the Maithri-Ranil Government.
Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas Are Doomed As Maithri-Ranil Govt Promotes And Re-builds Relations With China’ »
There were things that Mahinda Rajapaksa did right, there were things he did wrong and there were things he didn’t do which he should have. Therefore, the electorate decided that it needed a post-Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, building upon the best of Rajapaksa.
However, one cannot move to a situation that is better than the Rajapaksa decade, under the leadership and direction of those whose track records were worse than or much less successful than his.
What we have today are anti-Rajapaksa politics in Government and state — the attempted negation of MR rather than an improvement on him based on consolidating and carrying forward what is best in
My own view is that we currently have a leadership in which only one element or personality is post-Mahinda Rajapaksa, while the others are pre-Rajapaksa.
Of the present ruling troika — President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, and ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga — two are leading symbols of failed pre-Rajapaksa policies and therefore cannot represent post-Rajapaksa politics. President Sirisena is the sole exception.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Losing Power And Influence Not To Mahinda But To Ranil, Mangala And Chandrika.’ »
Gamini Dissanayake’s birth anniversary fell on March 20. Commenting on the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defence Fund stated thus: “So much of the deep lingering sadness over President Kennedy’s assassination is about the unfinished promise, unspoken speeches, unfulfilled hopes, the wondering about what might have been.” Those words would have been truer about Gamini Dissanayake.
Many eulogies have been delivered by world leaders of our era praising the gutsy and determined President Kennedy. A man whose footprints are embedded as a rock in the shifting sands of time and history, John Kennedy was a leader par excellence. In a world that was then caught up in a quagmire of cold war, with the then Soviet Union feverishly hostile to America on all fronts — economic, military and culture — the USA lent leadership to the West that consisted of an array of post-World War II leaders of the calibre of De Galle of France, Harold McMillan and Alec Douglas Home of Great Britain and Konrad Adenauer of West Germany.
John Kennedy’s brother Robert (Bob), however, was different in that Bobby’s apparent air of ultra-liberalism, his open acceptance of ‘Black America’ as an integral part of the whole American nation and advancing the cause of equality among drastically diverse communities in the southern states of America where more than fifty percent of the African-American population lives, were indeed a fresh wind sweeping across all parts of the USA. Bob Kennedy was a man ahead of his time.
Continue reading ‘Gamini Dissanayake – Like Robert Kennedy In The West – Was a Man Ahead Of His Time In This Part Of The World’ »
President Maithripala Sirisena should be held responsible for the alleged faults of the previous Government, because he was a one of its Cabinet Ministers, claimed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.
Speaking at an occasion held in Embilipitiya Rajapaksa said if there were unsuitable decisions of the past administration, these were all taken with the approval of the then Cabinet.
“I did not implement anything without the Cabinet approval and if they were wrong the responsibility should go to everyone in the then Cabinet. No one can blame only me,” Rajapaksa claimed.
Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Holds President Sirisena Responsible for Alleged Faults of Previous Govt as he Also Approved all Cabinet Decisions as a Minister’ »
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is to meet the Indian High Commissioner to seek more funds to house the war-displaced at Sampur in Eastern Sri Lanka because the LKR 550,000 that is now given to each beneficiary family to build a house under the Indian Housing Project is not enough, given the galloping inflation since the project was initiated in 2009.
“To construct a modest house, a family needs about LKR 850,000. We will meet Indian officials and press for a higher grant. We may also have to tap other sources for additional funds,” M.A.Sumanthiran, TNA spokesman told Express.
Continue reading ‘TNA Wants India to Increase Funds Allocated for Building Houses for Displaced Persons in Sampoor Due to Inflation Increasing Construction Costs’ »
In an apparent move to give the people a full and balanced report on vital issues in the country, President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday night made a rare appearance on a television talk show to answer probing questions. The President reiterated that the priority issues of the National Government were to find a just, fair and lasting solution to the ethnic conflict, bring about a just society with a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources and give tens of thousands of productive jobs mainly to the rural youth.
He stressed that without national unity- races and religions working together, the poor and the rich also working together- there could be no sustainable development. The President acknowledged these priority issues were not ‘string hoppers and pol sambol’ matters and most people could not see any immediate benefits.
That could be one of the reasons for the public grievances. While he understood and appreciated these grievances, the President said he would take a strong stand against small political groups, which he accused of indulging in treason. He said such groups—apparently referring to the Rajapaksa factions were not only spreading economic falsehoods but also rumours about alleged attempts by the UNP to impeach him or alleged attempts by the two SLFP factions to oust Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appears on TV Talk Show to Answer Questions About Vital Issues affecting Country’ »
By P K Balachandran
Sri Lankan doctors are opposing the government’s bid to sign an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India on the grounds that in the absence of a sound regulatory mechanism in Lanka, the ETCA will lead to a massive influx of Indian doctors, threatening the prospects of local medical professionals.
“There is an urgent necessity to amend the Sri Lanka Medical Ordinance to define a specialist and set the qualifications and the procedure to test the qualifications,” said Dr Nalinda Herath, an office bearer of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), which is in the vanguard of the on-going agitation against the ETCA.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan GMOA Opposes ETCA with India Because It May Lead to Massive Influx of Indian Doctors to Island’ »
Last week, there was this tantalizing proposition from an anonymous member of the Joint Opposition, who was speaking on behalf of a group of MPs wanting to unify the divided SLFP, suggested to appoint Gotabaya Rajapaksa as a Member of Parliament. Gotabaya, the nameless MP beckoned, would serve as the unifier of the SLFP, now split between the loyalists of the incumbent President and his predecessor.
Since April Fools’ Day is still a couple of days away, we are compelled to assume that this wasn’t a hoax. Someone who wants to bet on the good luck and charm of Gotabaya should be dead serious about that.Breast-beating Senior Rajapaksa seems to be less keen in a settlement of the internecine conflict though, he wants the government to hand the country back to him for he thinks the incumbent administration is clueless in those complex affairs such as fiscal management (for him read as piling up the exchequer with commercially borrowed loans to build his vanity projects).
Continue reading ‘How Can President Sirisena Accommodate Gotabhaya as a Unifier of the SLFP Without Losing Face?’ »
by Professor G.L. Peiris
The Government’s new Budget proposals impact significantly on every segment of society. The implications of these proposals, and their practical effect, are worthy of serious reflection.
I. The Need for Certainty and Stability
As a preliminary point, it needs to be said that the main feature of a Budget should be certainty and predictability of consequences. Especially at a time when there is an urgent need for confidence which is the foundation for investment on a substantial scale, crucial actors in all areas of the economy must be provided with definite information, to be relied upon by them within a continuing time-frame, as the basis of decisions in respect of entry and participation. The Budget is the main vehicle through which such information, essential for systematic forward planning, is made available authoritatively.
It is, therefore, a matter for both surprise and regret that there are, in fact, for the current financial year, two Budgets, the latter purporting to supersede and supplant vital proposals set out by its predecessor.
Continue reading ‘“Govt Presenting Two Budgets for the Current Financial year is a Matter for Both Surprise and Regret” – Prof.G.L.Peiris’ »
M. W. Somarathne
Pesident Maithripala Sirisena is hoping to become the Prime Minister under the new Constitution, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva claimed on Saturday.
Speaking at a function in Matale, Silva said the executive presidency will be completely removed from the new Constitution.
“The President hopes to be a candidate for the post of Prime Minister for the next elections. He is already strengthening the SLFP for this,” he said.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena is Strengthening the SLFP in Order to Become Prime Minister After Executive Presidency is Abolished says JVP Gen Secy Tilvin Silva’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The navy on Friday (March 25) vacated a training base established at Sampoor soon after the liberation of the Eastern Province in mid 2007.
Navy headquarters said that 177 acres had been handed over to Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando to be distributed among original owners. President Maithripala Sirisena handed over 60 acres held by the navy at Sampoor to original owners last August. The navy facility covered an area of 237 acres.
Navy headquarters said the entire camp had been vacated to facilitate resettlement and rehabilitation of the war displaced.
Having established the base in 2007, the navy commissioned it as SLNS Vidura during 2013. Troops brought Sampoor under government control in early September 2006.
Continue reading ‘Navy Vacates “SLNS Vidura”Training Base at Sampoor to Facilitate Re-settlement and Establishes New Bigger Base Elsewhere in Sampoor’ »
Against the backdrop of emerging political challenges, the SLFP seniors holding posts in the government are planning to meet with President Maithripala Sirisena to discuss how to deal with the situation, it is learnt.
Newly appointed Secretary of SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Mahinda Amaraweera was booed by part supporters in Baddegama last Saturday during an address. Also, former Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha had a similar experience in Mawanella.
Continue reading ‘SLFP “Seniors” to Discuss with Leader Sirisena About Party Ministers Being Booed by Rank and File at Meetings’ »
“Sunday Times”Political Editor
SriLankan Airlines, the country’s national carrier, that once offered a “taste of paradise” to its clients, is now on life support with Treasury handouts. The enormity of its mismanaged financial debacles unfolded last Wednesday when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe chaired a top level meeting. There, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake agreed to continue Treasury funding for the airline only for the next six months. Public Enterprises Development Minister Kabir Hashim, who is responsible for SriLankan, has been tasked to formulate new strategies within this period to pull it out of its deep financial mess. A number of options are being looked at including a possible tie-up with another airline. Even views of different international consultancy firms have been sought by the airline. They will meet the Premier again when proposals are ready to make urgent decisions.
RANIL REVEALS STATE OF THE ECONOMY
That it comes when the Government faces a serious economic crisis has made matters worse. Premier Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Thursday, “Minister Kabir Hashim informed me that the exact debt concerning SriLankan Airlines could be higher than the amount stated at present. The national carrier may not be able to repay it. We have to decide whether the Treasury is going to shoulder this burden. We will inform Parliament of any such decision as soon as the Cabinet of Ministers decides on it. Within the next month the Government will make a final decision on how to handle the current debt situation of SriLankan.”
Wickremesinghe added, “We have had to amend the Budget proposals from time to time due to the fast changing situation in the global economies. The Government has initiated agreements for a US$ 1.5 billion swap from the Reserve Bank of India, while it had also sought another US$ 1 billion swap from the Central Bank of China to face the prevailing foreign exchange issues. There are also ongoing discussions with regard to the tax proposals.” Some will be implemented, he said, from next month and the rest from September. He said the discussions with the IMF are mainly to deal with the tax system while the discussions on “a loan are secondary.” Such a standby loan of US $ 1.5 billion is being sought from the IMF was formally announced for the first time at a news conference by Special Assignments Minister Sarath Amunugama.
Continue reading ‘How National Carrier “Sri Lankan Airlines” Was Skyjacked and Plundered by Mahinda Minions of the Rajapaksa regime’ »
When a Buddhist monk belonging to the Rajapaksa chapter suddenly stands up and says there is something fishy in the way the chief architect of the Yahapalana movement, the Venerable Sobitha Thera, died; and casts an aspersion that he may have been ‘done in’ by forces who feared he would speak of his growing disappointment with the government he helped create to give true effect to the democratic ideals he advanced; it is time for the President and Prime Minister to take careful note of the dangerous diatribe levelled against them and appoint an independent commission whose findings, hopefully, will nip this canard in the blooming bud.
For it seems as though the ‘Bring Back Mahinda’ mafia have temporary laid down their worn out Sinhala chauvinistic drum aside and instead of the Bodu Bala Davula made a different set of monks pick up the Ruhunu Drum also known as the Yak Beraya to thump out the no less potent ‘ Save Buddhism ’ warning; and come up with a ‘mystery’ element in the death of the Venerable Sobitha Thera to serve as the rhythmic theme to whip up protests against the Yahapalana doctrine of which, ironically, the Ven. Thera was the prime promoter, the seer and sire.
In a surprise outburst coming four months after the death of the venerable Sobitha Thera who died of heart failure at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital on November 8 last year, Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera, now released from his remand cell after a judge freed him on bail three weeks ago, claims that there was a conspiracy behind the Thera’s ‘sudden’ demise. Speaking from Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political office at the Abayaramaya Temple in Narahenpita on Monday, he added a sinister touch to his delayed yet timely charge when he said that Ven. Sobitha had visited him several days before his ‘sudden’ death and had expressed his disapproval at the direction the country was moving in.
Continue reading ‘Dhammaloka Thera’s Allegation About Sobitha Thera Being “Eliminated” to Silence His Criticism of “Yahapalanaya” Govt’ »
Even though the Joint Opposition’s rally at Hyde Park on 17 March was held mainly to oppose the proposed ETCA with India and to highlight other issues such as the changes in the fertiliser subsidy and the low price of paddy, these objectives were completely lost among the large crowds and it became another ‘bring Mahinda back’ rally. Last week professional groups were busy clawing back public attention to what is undoubtedly the most important immediate issue facing Sri Lanka – the proposed ETCA which the prime minister has said would be signed no matter how intense the opposition to it. The professional associations opposing ETCA organised a seminar at the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) auditorium on Wednesday last week where a number of presentations were made by Dr Anuruddha Padeniya, Dr Lalithsiri Gunaruwan, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Nalaka Jayaweera and others.
The presentation made by Nalaka Jayaweera – a Chartered Architect – raised certain serious issues about the proposed ETCA which have not been highlighted sufficiently up to now. In the absence of a detailed draft of ETCA, Jayaweera harked back to the abandoned CEPA to extrapolate what ETCA would envisage in terms of trade in services between India and Sri Lanka. Such an approach is certainly valid because it is in place of CEPA that the ETCA proposal has been brought forward.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Highly Regulated Medical Profession Penetrated with Consummate Ease by Indian Medical Practitioners’ »
by Camelia Nathaniel
Veteran diplomat Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, when asked about the underworld activities that have raised its head again, said that one thing that must be said about the Rajapaksa administration is that under the former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa there was relentless, one might even say ruthless rooting out the gangs and especially drug related gangs. He said that Gang violence was almost completely eliminated with the use of the STF. But that achievement added Dr. Jayatilleka, has been rolled back by the UNP government and there is a vicious gang violence emerging. This he pointed out is a clear sign of the lack of law and order, which was handled well when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in charge.In an interview with The Sunday Leader he said that he does not see why president Sirisena does not invite Gotabaya Rajapaksa back into the state, and give him some serious developmental and security responsibilities.
Following are excerpts of the interview:-
Q: There is talk that the government does not have a proper economic strategy and the country’s economy is heading towards disaster at this rate. Do you agree with this statement?
A: We have to go by the available data and the measures taken by the government and what is the picture that emerges? The government has borrowed 6 billion US dollars during its first year in office. But we do not see any major or even mid-level construction that has taken place nor any kind of development projects that are being initiated as a result of this debt. Lately we have seen new taxes imposed which heaps burden on the consumer and functions as a disincentive for business. This is not what we expect from a UNP government, which is usually market friendly.
The most grotesque of all is the attitude towards China. The government came to office criticising China on electoral platforms. It threatened to discontinue the major Chinese projects and poked fun at the Chinese funded projects such as Mattala and Hambantota. But now there is a complete about turn, where Mr. Malik Samarawickrema soon to be followed by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are headed in the direction of China in order to secure funding for the same projects that the Rajapaksa administration embarked upon, but on a much larger scale. This is almost laughable. If the government knew that China was indispensable in Sri Lanka’s development, they should not have behaved in the manner they did towards China.
Continue reading ‘Dashing Coconuts is a Cultural Mode of National Resistance in a Primary Form Explains Dayan Jayatilleka’ »
The UPFA and its main political party, the SLFP, are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel where its internal power struggle is concerned.
The newly appointed General Secretary of the UPFA coalition, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, chosen troubleshooter of President Sirisena, had to deal with an unexpected issue early this week. A group supporting Amaraweera carried out a poster campaign in many parts of the country, hailing the Alliance’s move to appoint the Minister as its new General Secretary. And, some of these posters were later found to have been defaced or torn down, not by the UPFA’s political rivals, but by groups who claim to be partners in the Alliance.
By damaging Amaraweera’s posters, they indicated that they did not consider the Minister as a suitable candidate for the position. This incident alone showed the level of hostility prevailing between the two warring factions within the Alliance despite numerous attempts by SLFP seniors to bring about “peace and reconciliation”.
In the face of the continuing internal tensions, the SLFP hierarchy is yet to decide on disciplining those SLFP MPs who took part in the UPFA rebels’ rally at Hyde Park on March 17. Over 30 MPs of the SLFP attended the rally openly defying the party Central Committee’s diktat to stay away from the event.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, addressing a public meeting a few days after the rally, said in no uncertain terms that the party would take stern action against those who defied the central committee decision. However, despite Kumaratunga’s remark, the party maintains a stony silence on the issue. Cautious party leaders seem to want to buy more time without resorting to quick action against the dissidents – clearly a fear of a party split.
Continue reading ‘President Maithripala Sirisena and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Preside Over Two Separate May day Rallies Respectively’ »
By Harischandra Gunaratna
GMOA President Dr Anuruddha Padeniya has warned that the signing of the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India will be inimical to Sri Lanka’s interests.
Dr. Padeniya, addressing a gathering of scholars, intellectuals and professionals in Colombo on Wednesday said: “The agreement is clearly a political one and the architects of it are not patriots. If they are patriots they will not even imagine signing such an agreement.”
The GMOA President said that before entering into such agreements the government should study them fully.
Continue reading ‘“Those who want Sri Lanka to sign ECTA Agreement with India are not Patriots” says GMOA President Dr.Anuruddha Padeniya’ »
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief R.Sampanthan has said that he will discuss with the Indian High Commission the “substantial” environmental problems that will be created if India sets up a 500 MW coal-fired power plant at Sampur in Eastern Sri Lanka.
“people of the area have been telling me about the substantial pollution and environmental damage which will be caused and have accused me of not taking any action on it. A solar powered plant in place of the coal-fired one is very much in my mind,” he told Express on Saturday.
Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Sampanthan to Raise Environmental issues Caused by Proposed Indian Coal Power Plant in Sampoor with Indian High Commission’ »
by Ranil Dharmasena
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who was appointed the Minister of Provincial Development has got additional portfolios, National Agriculture and Diversification and Human Settlement Authority ( Hadabima).
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Intervenes Directly to Give Additional Responsibilities to Sarath Fonseka by Allocating More Portfolios and Powers to him’ »
by Saman Indrajith
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had decided to bring under his direct supervision the ministries and statutory boards which had failed to achieve their targets during its first two quarters, sources close to the Prime Minister’s office said yesterday.
The Premier had taken that decision following a large number of complaints that officials of those ministries and statutory boards were Rajapaksa loyalists who would not support the initiatives of the incumbent administration, according to sources.
Continue reading ‘Under Performing Ministries and Boards with Rajapaksa Loyalists to be Brought Under Direct supervision of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »
I have come to share the view of the Sinhalese hard-liners that the Tamil ethnic problem cannot be solved through devolution. I now share their view that going beyond 13 A in its presently truncated form – that is by giving police and land powers – will only aggravate the ethnic problem, not solve it. There are two major reasons for this.
One is that Tamil racism is worse, very much worse, than Sinhalese racism. That means that giving more devolution will only whet the Tamil appetite for more and more devolution until Eelam is established, or there is a confederal arrangement that amounts to a de facto Eelam.
The second reason why I have come to share the view of the Sinhalese hard-liners is the new geopolitical configuration in which India is in rivalry with China.
Continue reading ‘“I Share the View of Sinhalese Hardliners That The Tamil Ethnic Problem Cannot Be Solved Through Devolution”’ »
After seeing many remarks by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka [SF] including those in his first speech in Parliament lately, I think the former General is trying to make us all believe that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa [MR] did nothing at all in the war winning process.
He insists that it was he who won the war and should be given all honors, leaving out not only MR but also Gotabaya Rajapaksa [GR].
I too had great respect towards SF as his innovative ideas and concepts played a major and significant role in winning the ground battle, which was absolutely necessary to win a war and his leadership was instrumental and clearly a great achievement.
However, I would like to forward two questions and seek answers as to whether his assumptions are correct.
Continue reading ‘Would Sarath Fonseka Have Won the War Alone as he Boasts Without the Roles Played By Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa?’ »
In Sri Lanka, sorcery is used as a substitute for premeditated murder and physical violence, says Princeton University’s Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Gananath Obeyesekere.
In his paper: “ Sorcery, Premeditated Murder and Canalization of Aggression” revised in 2014, Obeyesekere says that sorcery helps canalize a person’s murderous intention or wish to physically harm someone into a non-violent form of aggression which is thought to be as effective as the actual infliction of death or physical injury while being less risky and less messy.
This explains the widespread use of sorcery by members of all communities in Sri Lanka – Sinhalese Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim – though users are predominantly Sinhalese Buddhist.
Continue reading ‘Sorcery Used as Substitute for Pre-meditated Murder and Physical Violence in Sri Lanka Says Prof.Gananath Obeysekere’ »
In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena had promised progress regarding Tamil political prisoners, although we’ve seen little of that. Unfortunately, the president’s dithering project has continued — with no end in sight.
More broadly, the Sri Lankan government has made big commitments regarding transitional justice and those changes, if they ever happen, will come incrementally. However, we haven’t seen much in the way of incremental change since Colombo co-sponsored a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka in October 2015.
Continue reading ‘Are President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Really Prepared to Stand Up to Sinhala Nationalism?’ »
There were reports in recent years, that a “jihadist” movement was being formed in the Eastern province, where Muslims constitute around 37 per cent the population.
There are no Islamist jihadist groups in Sri Lanka, said a study commissioned by the Colombo-based International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES).
The study had gone into an accusation, made both from within and outside the Muslim community in recent years, that a “jihadist” movement was being formed in the Eastern province, where Muslims constitute around 37 per cent the population. Muslims account for 9.67 per cent of the country’s population, according to the 2012 census,
Continue reading ‘Study Commissioned by Colombo Based ICES States there are no Islamic Jihadist Groups in Sri Lanka’ »
By Dilanka Gunathilaka
Several former Chairmen of SLFP LG (Pradeshiya Sabha) bodies who have been summoned by the Party’s Central Committee (CC), to explain their rejection of a CC decision on 29 March, say that they will not present themselves before the Committee for disciplinary action.
Informed sources told this paper that those who have been summoned by the SLFP CC in writing such as former Mayor of Maharagama Kanthi Kodikara, former Chairman of Walallawita PS Udeni Atukorala, former Chairman of Attanagalla PS Priyantha Pushpakumara, former Chairman of Gampaha PS Ranjith Gunawardene, former Chairman of Meerigama PS Sanath Nandasiri, former Chairman of Boralesgamuwa PS Aruna Priyashantha and former Chairman of Matale PS Kapila Bandara have decided firmly against attending the disciplinary hearing before the Party’s Central Committee.
Continue reading ‘Several SLFP Former Local Authority Heads Refuse to Attend Party Central Committee Disciplinary Inquiry For Attending Hyde Park Rally’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has assured complainants, Siddque Mohammed Sufai and Gayashan Venura that their complaints in respect of Megapolis and Western Province Development Minister Patali Chapika Ranawaka’s alleged involvement in a hit-and-run accident would receive its attention.
The HRCSL comprises Dr. Deepika Udagama, Hamid Ghazali Hussain, Saliya Pieris, Ambika Satkunanathan and Dr. Upananda Vidanapthirana.
The assurance has been given recently when Siddque and Venura, both aged 20, sought HRCSL’s intervention. They alleged the accident took place around 10.00 pm on Feb. 28 in the Welikada police area. Sandeepa Gunawardena of Godagama, who suffered severe injuries due to the collision, is still being treated at the National Hospital, Colombo.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission to “Focus Attention”on Police Conduct in Hit and Run Accident Involving Minister Champika Ranawaka’ »
By Madura Ranwala
Rathugala Vedda community leader, Suda Wannile Attho, his wife and his sister-in-law’s 11-year-old son are being treated at the Bibile hospital after being assaulted allegedly a group of policemen attached to the Ratmalgaha Ella police post of the Inginiyagala police station in the Ampara police division on Wednesday night.A policeman, too, is being treated for injuries he sustained at the hands of a group of Veddas.
Police said the incident had taken place when a team of policemen, acting on a tip-off that some people were gambling at the Vedda leader’s house, raiding the place.
Continue reading ‘Rathugala Vedda Community Leader Suda Wannile Atho,Wife and 11 Year old Nephew Hospitalised After Police Assault Family at their Home’ »
By Chitra Weerarathne
Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitya yesterday granted bail to Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman, Dhammika Ranatunga, suspected of abusing and threatening media personnel near the Colombo High Court No. 7 on March 16, 2016.
The bail was in two sureties of Rs. 100,000 each.
The Chief Magistrate observed that the suspect was in the current post because of his famous brother. In the future the suspect should remember to behave himself.
The Chief Magistrate further observed that the suspect was attached to a state run institution financed with public funds. If that was the manner he conducted himself in a court of law, how he would behave at the Ports Authority.
Continue reading ‘Ports Authority Chairman Dhammika Ranatunga Censured by Magistrate for Allegedly Threatening Media Personnel but Granted Bail’ »
Legal and political means having failed to save former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa from the numerous corruption cases against him, his followers have, in sheer desperation, resorted to the traditional Lankan weapon of “ritual cursing” to destroy the tormentor.
According to University of Princeton Anthropologist Prof. Gananath Obeysekere, “ritual cursing” in Lanka involves the smashing of coconuts in select Hindu shrines called “Devales” and a closed door session with a sorcerer who recites “poisonous verses”, called Vas Kavi.
Continue reading ‘Followers Resort to Coconut Smashing, Ritual Cursing and Reciting Poisonous Verses at Devales to Save Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Television content provider Astro has set the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Live Streamed Festival” with 55 hours of non-stop live-streaming of this year’s Hindu Thaipusam festival.
Astro Ulagam, an Indian entertainment news and event hub which is a part of Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd, was used as a platform to reach out to the masses, during the festival from January 22 to 25, achieving a record-breaking 119 million views on its Facebook page, as compared to four million views in 2014 and 40 million views last year.
In an effort to connect Indians worldwide and offer an opportunity to the global audience to witness the Thaipusam celebration and understand the true meaning of the festival, Astro Ulagam embarked on an ambitious journey to live stream the auspicious occasion from seven locations in Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia.
Continue reading ‘Hindu “Thaipoosam” Celebrations Filmed in Sri Lanka,India and Malaysia Sets Guinness World Record for “Longest Live Streamed Festival”’ »
By Saman Indrajith
Party leaders yesterday decided to withdraw their plan to grant increased allowances to MPs in the face of growing countrywide displeasure.
The decision had been taken at the party leaders meeting at the Parliamentary Complex with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding, parliament sources said.
The party leaders agreed not to submit the proposal for the approval of the Cabinet of ministers.
Continue reading ‘Protests by People Compel Party Leaders to Withdraw Proposal to Grant Increased Allowances for MP’s.’ »
By Saman Indrajith
UPFA Colombo District MP Udaya Gammanpila’s knowledge of Hindi language was questioned by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament yesterday.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe asked whether MP Gammanpila knew at least three Hindi words.
MP Gammanpila raised a question pertaining to a statement made to the Indian Parliament by that country’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on a proposed bridge linking Sri Lanka and India.
Continue reading ‘Udaya Gammanpila Keeps Mum as Ranil Wickremesinghe Asks Him to Speak Three Words in Hindi’ »
With an eye on the vast European market, India’s largest bicycle manufacturer Hero Cycles has bought a 60 percent stake in BSH Ventures Pvt Ltd., Sri Lanka’s largest bicycle maker with license to make Raleigh cycles.
Confirming this, BSH Ventures’ Chairman Jeyam Perumal told Express on Wednesday that the Chairman of Hero Cycles Pankaj Munjal will be here on April 1 to sign the deal.
Continue reading ‘India’s Largest Bicycle Manufacturers “Hero Cycles”Buys 60% in Sri Lanka’s Largest Bicycle Makers BSH Ventures Pvt Ltd’ »
By Madura Ranwala
The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) yesterday warned monks, Uduwe Dammaloka, Elle Gunawansa and Murutettuwe Ananda Theras, who had expressed suspicions of foul play in late NMSJ leader Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera not to incite the public.
“Some of the monks held on remand are those with cases being heard against them involving rape, child abuse and illegal activities like keeping in custody baby elephants,” NMSJ’s present leader and Ven. Sobith’s successor Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya told the media yesterday at a press briefing held at Maradana.
Continue reading ‘Uduwe Dammaloka,Elle Gunawansa and Muruyettuwe Ananda Theras Warned Not to Incite Public by Alleging Foul Play in Death of Sobitha Thera.’ »
Gihan De Chickera in his analysis published last week puts forth an argument on the class dynamics of the recently-held ‘protest’, for the lack of any other term, at Independence Square. He brings to discourse a valid point on the class dynamic of the protesters and how it panned out during the protest. Only, he stops short. He stops short of unveiling the hypocrisy of the protest, the protesters and the symbolism that is projected through the ‘cause’ for which against, they protested.
The protest among others, brought to the fore a collective I’d like to identify as “coffee shop liberals” or “coffee shop radicals”. They usually roam — no not Colombo’s streets — but its more up-market coffee lounges. These “coffee shop radicals” and “coffee shop liberals” are the focus of this critique, and I use the terms interchangeably because the two overlap.
But before looking at their role in “Occupy the Square”, let’s flashback to the 2013 Commonwealth Summit in Colombo. Two things happened then under the direction of the Urban Development Authority. The city’s beggars were removed from the streets to god knows where, and so were the stray dogs. In the weeks that followed, social media commentaries and columnists were aghast at the fate of the dogs. Reams of columns, posts, protests, comments and discussions in Colombo’s coffee shops centred around the fate of the dogs. All well and good. Only that the beggars, whose fate remains a mystery to this day, were ignored.
Continue reading ‘The Hypocritical Independence Square Protest of the Colombo Coffee Shop Liberals/Radicals’ »
Upul Joseph Fernando
The battle between Rajapaksas’ and the Maithri-Ranil Government has now reached the stage: Get-Set-Go!
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week stated that all fraud and corruption of Rajapaksas’ would be made public within the next three months and urged the Rajapaksas’ to be ready with their lawyers from now on. Even before Ranil issued that warning, the Rajapaksas’ are busy on a daily basis seeking legal advice to cover them from charges of fraud and corruption levelled against them.
The lawyers consulted by Rajapaksas’ have reportedly advised them that the only way out was to line up people against the government to instill fear on the Judiciary. The Hyde Park rally was an outcome of such legal advice.
Continue reading ‘Hyde Park Rally is Part of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Intimidatory Tactics to Cowe the Judiciary Into Submission’ »
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka writes that the joint Opposition crowd that gathered at Hyde Park on 17 March represents leftists, anti-imperialists and progressives in the Right vs. Left, Reactionary vs. Progressive and Pro-imperialist vs. Patriotic anti-imperialist divides. The crowd certainly was a formidable one but not the kind to which he alludes.
Those who converged at Hyde Park represent the pyramid of patronage that the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa cultivated so skilfully during his decade in power. The top of the pyramid may have cost the taxpayers billions of rupees in kickbacks and other ill-gotten wealth, and the cost of the trickle-down effect to the bottom of the pyramid could amount to hundreds of thousands of rupees per person but were sufficient to buy loyalty.
These troops provide ‘street power’ for the Joint Opposition. They have much to lose with the continuation of the present Government.
Having spent a long time in the Opposition, the UNP does not have its pyramid of patronage. If the present UNP-led Government was to continue for two terms or even complete its current term under the present circumstances it will be necessary to have built its own alternative pyramid of patronage. The silent majority from both sides will have to pay for the up-keep of these pyramids, no matter whose pyramids they are.
To avoid this ugly cycle of patronage-driven activism, this Government will need an economic El Nino of the kind that will bring foreign investment and put cash in the pockets of the people. Right now the economic weather is not looking good and the Yahapalanaya Government does not have the street crowd – a crowd hungry enough or threatened enough to take to the streets.
Continue reading ‘Those Who Converged at Hyde Park Rally Were “Horapalana Activists” Who Received Patronage Under Rajapaksa Regime’ »
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.”
~Oscar Wilde , ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’
Good governance……….it’s more likely that those who desire foolproof and ideological-definitions-based systems of governance are immensely disappointed at the pace at which the present Government is going about establishing a more responsive system of governance.
Placed against a backdrop of a disappointed public, who held high hopes of reverting to a more agreeable and endurable working structure of government, a government that is, for all ostensible reasons fair and balanced, a government that is more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the people instead of vested interests and wealthy lobbyists, one finds it extremely tough to pit a half-hearted governing structure, as evidenced today, against high expectations.
The situation is even more exacerbated by sheer inaction on the part of the present Government on countering the Opposition’s propaganda and mudslinging. The depths to which the so-called joint opposition could dig into, despite the very powerful allegations against them both collectively and individually, tells a totally different story, a story of inoculating a large segment of our population from the shame of corruption and dishonesty.
Continue reading ‘Inaction of Present Govt in Countering Opposition Propaganda and Mud Slinging’ »
A number of recent opinion pieces penned by some well-known writers have drawn attention to the growing ‘radicalisation’ among the Muslims of Sri Lanka. Among the key concerns raised are that Sri Lankan Muslims are becoming ‘exclusivist’ and ‘self-alienating’ by following a strict interpretation of Islam, manifested in particular by the growing number of Muslim women who have adopted all-encompassing ‘alien, Arab attire’.
By conflating the veil with radical Islam, the writers, perhaps inadvertently, are feeding into Islamophobia, (an unfounded fear of Islam), and fanning the flames of social discord.
Most Muslim women choose to veil themselves because they view it as a religious obligation. It has no nexus whatsoever to the ‘radicalisation’ that is allegedly unfurling in the community. Veil-clad women do not represent nor do they promote a racist ideology. Furthermore, attacking or vilifying the veil will not make it go away; on the contrary a tolerant, plural and inclusive Sri Lanka has to accommodate all Muslims in whatever dress-code they choose to adopt. The freedom to practice one’s faith is a basic human right that must be safeguarded. No one should attempt to interfere with someone else’s right to practice his or her professed religion in the manner he or she sees fit, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others.
Continue reading ‘Unfounded Fears About Alleged Growth of Radical Islam Among Muslims of Sri Lanka’ »
India and Sri Lanka have agreed that the Jaffna airport in North Sri Lanka should be upgraded to be an international airport without extending the runway because fresh land acquisition is being opposed by the local people.
A five-member technical team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chennai which inspected the airport recently, concluded that it could be upgraded without acquiring more land, the Indian Consul General in Jaffna, A.Natarajan, told Express on Tuesday.
Continue reading ‘Palaly Airport to be Upgraded as Jaffna International Airport Without Expanding Present 2.3 KM Runway’ »
By P.K. Balachandran
The book “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” (In The Shadow Of A Sharp Edged Sword) by S.Thamilini, former head of the Tamil Tigers’ Women’s Political Wing, has become controversial, with one section of Tamils saying that its criticism of the militant outfit will weaken the Tamil case at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and another saying that the book will help get at the truth, which is what the Tamils want to know.
The Tamil nationalist lobby says that by alleging that atrocities were committed by the Tamil Tigers also, the book weakens the Tamil case that it was the Sri Lankan armed forces which had committed all the war crimes.
Continue reading ‘Criticism of Tigers In Book Written By Ex –LTTE Woman Leader Thamilini Causes Much Controversy’ »
By C. A. Chandraprema
The UNP’s rally at Lipton Circus last Tuesday was supposed to be a public show of strength in favour of the proposed ETCA with India. The Prime Minister announced that they would be bringing people onto the streets on 15 March to counter those who had been opposing ETCA and this was the show he promised. The UNP even took the unusual step of having the rally at Lipton Circus without having it at Hyde Park.
This may have been the first time in the UNP’s history that they took over Lipton Circus which had always been the exclusive preserve of radicals. It was a good show as far as the attendance went though it was certainly not a Nugegoda-like event. We know that the UNP is not a party like the JVP which can get the better part of its membership to turn up for rallies. It also took the form not really of a rally of the UNP proper, but a youth rally against efforts to scuttle ETCA. However we did not see any banners or slogans explicitly promoting ETCA.
Instead what we saw were slogans demanding that plans for a ‘new Sri Lanka’ should not be blocked by anyone and that no one should oppose the plan to create ‘one million jobs’. The message was far from explicit. We did not hear any of the speakers at the Lipton Circus saying that the ETCA with India would be signed and that this was the way forward for Sri Lanka.
Instead we heard Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam saying that there was a conspiracy to deprive the UNP of its hard won victory and Minister Harin Fernando saying that the Rajapaksas were somehow responsible for the blackouts affecting the country. What is the message they were supposed to convey to the public? Even after that rally nobody is any the wiser about ETCA.
Continue reading ‘Why Sri Lanka Should Not Sign the Economic and Tecchnology Co-operative Agreement (ETCA)With India’ »
By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
“When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes a saying that is widely attributed to the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sinclair Lewis. In 1935, Lewis wrote a novel called “It Can’t Happen Here,” positing fascism’s rise in the United States. We were taught that fascism was defeated in 1945, with the surrender of Germany and Japan in World War II. Yet the long shadows of that dark era are falling on the presidential campaign trail this year, with eruptions of violence, oaths of loyalty complete with Nazi salutes and, presiding over it all, Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” the 20th-century philosopher George Santayana wrote. He lived in Europe through both world wars, and witnessed Italian fascism firsthand. Fascism was the violent political movement founded by Benito Mussolini, who took control of Italy in 1922. Mussolini had his political opponents beaten, jailed, tortured and killed, and ruled with an iron fist until he was deposed as Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943. He was known as “Il Duce,” or “The Leader,” and provided early support to the nascent Nazi movement in Germany as Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s.
Why is this relevant today?
It was Donald Trump who recently retweeted one of Mussolini’s quotes: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” When NBC confronted Trump for retweeting the fascist’s words, he replied, “Sure, it’s OK to know it’s Mussolini. Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. … It’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote.”
Continue reading ‘Fascism Comes to USA as Donald Trump Fans the Flames of Bigotry and Racism’ »
MANY ingredients went into making Donald Trump. An under-appreciated one is the distinctively German, or rather Kallstadtian, tinge to his family history. Mr Trump is descended from German immigrants who arrived in America penniless and succeeded quickly through hard work,a free relationship with the truth, opportunism, shrewd business tactics and a great sense of family loyalty. Fred Trump, Donald’s father, who was a strict taskmaster with all his five children, told his three sons to be “killers”.
Fred Trump’s father, Friedrich Trump, came to America in 1885 as a 16-year-old from Kallstadt, a village in Rhineland-Palatinate, a region known for wine and stuffed pig’s stomach. After working for a
few years as a barber in New York, he headed west and opened a restaurant in a mining town in Washington state where workmen were treated to hearty food, liquor and assignations with women in the back rooms of the establishment. Having amassed a nest-egg, Friedrich returned to Kallstadt to marry Elisabeth Christ, the girl next door, whom he took with him to America. Elisabeth was homesick, so they soon went back to Germany. Yet the authorities refused to let them repatriate because they said Friedrich, who was an American citizen by then, had dodged his military service. The young Trumps were thus forced to emigrate to America. In 1905 their first son, Fred, was born in New York.
Continue reading ‘The German Heritage Element in the Evolution of Donald Trump-The Economist’ »
The academics at the University of Kelaniya have reportedly suspended teaching activities in protest against on-going ragging at the university. Since a dog biting a man is no news, university protests which happen equal if not a greater frequency are also hardly considered as news. However, this one is special since it is academics, who have finally given up their passive connivance to ragging- and have decided to take a stand.
During my undergraduate years, some fifteen years back, I learnt a thing or two about the dynamism of ragging. At the end of the ragging season in our first year, after being forced to crawl, kneel, recite filth, and worst still masturbate in public in dormitories, all for the sake of this egalitarian exercise of ragging, students were utmost certain about its manifold virtues. So cometh the next year, they were ever more willing to unleash the same on the new comers. In our second year, couple of us told the rest of the batch-mates, we should break the cycle.
However, sense does not prevail in student politics. We were told by the majority that they wanted to ‘rag’. The logic is simple: ‘since we were ragged, we have a right to rag’. That is a right as much as a duty that is inviolable, and the whole foundation of the ‘university subculture’ or whatever the rubbish you call it, depended on this virtuous exercise. The logical extension of this thinking is that ‘no one else other than us in the state universities should have a degree level education’. It goes further to believe in an entitlement of government jobs after graduation.
Continue reading ‘Our Universities Are Hostage Of a Regressive Ideology Of Which Ragging Is a Manifestation.’ »
The Deep State is an extremely powerful network that controls nearly everything around you. You won’t read about it in the news because it controls the news. Politicians won’t talk about it publicly. That would be like a mobster discussing murder and robbery on the 6 o’clock news. You could say the Deep State is hidden, but it’s only hidden in plain sight.
– Author and venture capitalist Doug Casey.
Is a deep state within the government working for the defeated president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his corrupt cabal?
Listening to the speeches of government big wigs makes one wonder whether there is a deep state, working diligently to torpedo whatever measures the present Government takes to lift the country from the abyss that it has fallen into.
Speaker after speaker at Tuesday’s Lipton Circus political stunt talked about a conspiracy behind the recent power failure and vowed to expose the hidden hands behind what they alleged was sabotage.
We do not know whether the talk about a hidden hand is a fig leaf to cover the Government’s shortcomings in running the country’s affairs, be it the economy, budget making, reform-oriented legislation or law and order.
Continue reading ‘Is There a Hidden “Deep State” Within Govt Working for Defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa and His Corrupt Cabal?’ »
The senior-most leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Hasen Ali, has rebelled against the party complaining of a consistent bid by the party Establishment to engineer his exit by stripping him of powers due to him as party General Secretary.
Ali (70) was conspicuous by his absence at the SLMC’s 19 th. Grand Convention at Palamunai in Ampara district on Saturday in which the chief guest was Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Ali’s boycott caught the media’s attention almost as much as President Sirisena’s speech in which he ridiculed rival Mahinda Rajapaksa’s demand that power be handed back to him.
Ali told Express that as the “sole surviving founder-member of the SLMC”, he could not be treated so shabbily.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Congress Secy – Gen Hasen Ali Says His Powers have been Stripped to Make Party Leader Rauff Hakeem Supreme’ »
On the day that the Joint Opposition held their Hyde Park rally, Minister Sarath Fonseka was also in the news having requested the President to give an amnesty to the LTTE operative who was an accomplice in the attempt to assassinate him inside army headquarters. This was hailed by some quarters as an exemplary act on his part which would make a major contribution towards reconciliation. Other security conscious individuals however were less enthusiastic about it because this particular LTTE operative had not just tried to assassinate Sarath Fonseka but had also been involved in carrying out many other operations in Colombo.
Yet there is the fact that most of those who were actually involved in terrorist operations unlike the armchair Eelamists know the practical difficulties and the hardships involved in living the life of a terrorist and would be unlikely to go through the difficulties of reviving an outfit like the LTTE again. There is the possibility that even the most dangerous LTTE terrorists may just opt to fade away and lead a normal life if they are released. By now many of these operatives would have seen the way the Tamil people themselves reacted to ex-LTTE cadres. When N.Vithyatharan the former editor of Uthayan tried to field a list of ex-LTTE cadres at the last general election, they were all rejected outright by the people. Those who have been enthroned once again after the demise of the LTTE are the armchair Eelamists and not the young idealists who fought for their ideal.
The magnanimous request by Sarath Fonseka to release the LTTE suspect who tried to assassinate him sits oddly beside his maiden speech in parliament just last week, where he demanded that a war crimes inquiry with the participation of foreign observers be set up to examine war crimes allegations against the Sri Lanka army. He even demanded a separate inquiry into the alleged ‘white flag’ incident. The question is why is he asking for amnesties for dangerous LTTE operatives while calling for investigations against members of the very army that he led? One would think that even handedness would require him to ask for a general policy of forgiving and forgetting with amnesties for all those involved in the conflict from both sides.
Minister Fonseka’s speech in parliament had other contradictions as well. In a broadside against former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa he said that after migrating to the USA, Gota had been working as a tinker for about two years and that during this period a mutual friend had given a bicycle to Gota to get to work and one day the latter had come back complaining that the bicycle had been stolen. When his friend had chided Gota that he should have locked the bicycle Gota had said that he had in fact chained it to a ladder and that the thief had taken both the ladder and the bicycle! Fonseka’s point was that an individual who could not protect even his own bicycle could not win a war even though Gota had got books written about the way he had won the war.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka was Only Army Commander in the World who was Attacked By The Enemy Within His Own Headquarters’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
There is more than a trace of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the lofty disdain with which the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition leadership lectures to Sri Lankans on its inherited economic woes. One tale succeeds another, all equally stupendous and some patently deserving of ridicule.
Achieving monumental confusion
First we were told that recovering the Rajapaksa hidden loot would save the country from economic ruin. Instead months of procrastination followed with lapses in basic legal processes. One notable example last year was unsuccessfully attempting to move a foreign court to freeze the off-shore bank account of a Rajapaksa scion without first initiating a domestic legal inquiry into charges of money laundering.
Then the Budget was amended multiple times by a Government anxious to placate its various supportive lobbies, resulting in further economic strains. Next we were told of an investor who would proverbially appear like the savior-Prince and rescue the country from impending financial doom. Compounding this nonsense, the Government announced more than a year after the change of regime that the Rajapaksa debts were far higher than what was previously believed. True to form, the knee-jerk reaction was to declare a typically lazy quick-fix of higher taxation with minimum clarifications, leading to even more economic uncertainty and investor trepidation.
Is the ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) regime achieving all this monumental confusion solely by itself? If so, this is no mean feat in the most oxymoronic sense.
Continue reading ‘Current Regime Seems To Be a Run-away Govt Driven By a Small Coterie Of Power Brokers Jostling In Colombo’ »
Two shows of strength were put up in the environs of Hyde Park last week, by the UNP on Tuesday (Mar. 15) and the Joint Opposition two days later and that just about shows the political division in the country today. There is the UNP on the one hand and the Joint Opposition on the other, with not much else in between. The SLFP rump controlled by the Maithripala Sirisena faction and the JVP are residual groups. It can be stated with some certainty that barring some miracle the SLFP (MS faction) cannot even dream of organizing anything that comes even close to the show put up by the Rajapaksa camp last Thursday at Hyde Park. Even the UNP show at Lipton Circus on Tuesday was dwarfed by the crowd that attended the Joint Opposition rally.
LSSP leader Professor Tissa Vitarana speaking to this columnist claimed that the Joint Opposition’s rally drew the biggest crowd ever seen at a meeting held at Hyde Park and that this was even bigger than the meetings held in the run up to the 1970 United Front victory. Vitarana is uniquely qualified to comment on Hyde Park matters as his party is headquartered just yards away from the location. Dayan Jayatilleke has also written in his post-Hyde Park piece that this meeting was bigger than anything he had observed at the location since the late 1960s and that even Rohana Wijeweera’s much written about rally at Hyde Park in early 1971 was ‘a mere fraction’ of the Joint Opposition meeting.
What can we say about the meeting itself? It had all the usual features of a pro-Mahinda rally. At one point the present writer found himself among a group of party supporters from Attanagalla, one of them was squatting on the road with his palms joined above his head in the attitude of worship as he listened to the speeches. One of his companions pointed to him and stated the obvious saying ‘he’s a very loyal party member’. All of them were cold sober. One of them gave me a surprisingly sophisticated analysis saying that after S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who had won the hearts of the SLFP rank and file – even more so than Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike because the people had not rallied to her side in quite this manner even when her civic rights were suspended. Food for thought, indeed.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Gathers Political Momentum After Show of Strength at Hyde Park’ »
Many political parties use ‘protest’ rallies as a powerful tool to achieve short and long-term goals when they are in the opposition. Ever since the formation of organised political parties in Sri Lanka, protests have been a part and parcel of the country’s political culture. Some protests, in fact, influenced important developments in the country’s political domain over the past 70 years.
The United National Party, which came to power last year after a 20-year hiatus, made an unorthodox move last week when it decided to stage a protest in Colombo against what it termed as the “conspirators of the opposition”. It was one of the rare occasions when the ruling party took to the streets against the opposition saying the latter was sabotaging the government’s constructive moves towards achieving economic prosperity.
The protest was organised by young Ministers and MPs of the UNP including Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Harin Fernando, Ranjan Ramanayaka, Harshana Rajakaruna and Kavinda Jayawardena. Party seniors, including Ministers Lakshman Kiriella and Sajith Premadasa, extended their support to their young colleagues when it came to organisation of the demonstration.
A large number of UNP supporters attended the protest and there was a heavy traffic blockage in and around Town Hall on Tuesday evening as a result of the demonstration. Even Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to take a 30-minute walk under the scorching sun to listen to the speeches of the young MPs who organised the protest.
The Prime Minister, however, decided to stay away from the limelight as he wanted the young MPs to take the full credit for organising the protest.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Directly Challenges Maithripala Sirisena Leadership Through UPFA Rebel Rally’ »
DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
After Hyde Park, March 17th 2016, politics cannot go on as before. Not for much longer anyway.
For a few months now, Prof. Kumar David, a literate leftist and an ideologue of the Yahapalana bloc, has strenuously urged in his columns that the UNF (and its cosmopolitan left allies) “smash the Rajapaksas on the streets”. Luckily for the UNF, it chose to ignore that advice or else it would have been a case of “Bambi meets Godzilla”, with the UNF playing Bambi.
Just how ludicrous the Prime Minister’s exuberant threats to take to the streets in March was, became evident with the modest display the UNF put up in Colombo, a hub of UNP strength, on March 16th, when the numbers were insufficient to hold a public meeting at Hyde Park and settled for a few speeches at the Lipton Circus which is the usual venue for trade union picketing.
The footage of Ranil Wickremesinghe viewing his troops while standing in the crowd, arms folded and tight lipped, was in complete contrast to the ebullience of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the view from his vantage point at Hyde Park the next day.
Continue reading ‘Hyde Park Rally Shows Joint Opposition has Entrenched itself as the real Opposition.’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka yesterday said that Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda, Gotabhaya and Basil should be thoroughly investigated on waste, corruption and irregularities during the last ten years of President Rajapaksa’s rule.
Democratic Party (DP) leader Fonseka alleged that the Rajapaksas had profited from entire range of projects carried out in the country.
Addressing the media at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), Minister Fonseka described the Southern highway and Katunayake expressway projects as the most corrupt deals. The MP alleged that the Katunayake expressway had been much costlier than the costliest road in France.
Asked to explain why he had remained with the Rajapaksas at that time, MP Fonseka said that had he raised various contentious issues with them, the war against the LTTE couldn’t have been sustained.
The Field Marshal emphasised that he wouldn’t have done anything to jeopardise the war effort. Had there been a rift between him and the Rajapaksas, the LTTE would have survived, MP Fonseka said.
Continue reading ‘Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka Wants Rajapaksa Brothers Mahinda,Gotabhaya and Basil to be Thoroughly Investigated.’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Field Marshal Fonseka points to a map depicting positioning of troops on the Vanni front (Pic by Nimal Dayaratne)
Denying UN accusations that the army had massacred over 40,000 civilians during the last phase of the ground offensive on the Vanni east front in 2009, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, MP, yesterday stressed that there was absolutely no basis for war crimes charges.
The allegations mentioned in the UNSG Ban Ki moon’s Panel of Experts (PoE) report and a subsequent investigation based on unsubstantiated accusations paved the way for the UN to adopt a resolution on Sri Lanka on Oct. 1. The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council wants Sri Lanka to set up an inquiry before June this year.
The much-repeated allegation that 40,000 civilians were killed during the last two months of the battle against the LTTE was a blatant lie, Fonseka said. Those who had been propagating war crimes allegations would have to prove them, Democratic Party (DP) leader Fonseka said, reiterating his commitment to defend the army.
Continue reading ‘“Allegation About Army Committing War Crime of Killing 40,000 Civilians is a Blatant Lie” Says Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka’ »
Mangaiyarkkarasi Amirthalingam known widely among Tamils at one time as “Mangai Akka”(elder sister Mangai) passed away at the age of 82 in Britain where she had been residing for the past 27 years. She was taken ill and admitted to the Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames Hospital in Surrey on Tuesday March 8th . Ms. Amirthalingam died in hospital 30 hours later on Wednesday March 9th. According to her younger son Dr. Baheerathan Amirthalingam, his mother succumbed to Acute pancreatitis which caused multi organ failure.Her funeral will take place in London on March 20th.
(July 3rd 1933 – March 9, 2016)
The name Mangaiyarkkarasi Amirthalingam is not likely to ring any bells among younger generations of Sri Lankans. The lady herself living in self-exile for several decades has faded away from public memory. Yet, there was a time when she dominated the Tamil political scene as a political firebrand . She was famous as a Tamil nationalist and regarded as the virtual first lady of Tamil politics by numerous Tamils. She was equally infamous to a large number of Sinhalese who looked upon her as a controversial politician with extremist views. While Mangaiyarkkarasi was treated with loving affection by many Tamils on the one hand, Mrs. Amirthalingam was also the Tamil woman politician hated most by many Sinhalese on the other. Despite these contrary perceptions there is no denying that Mangaiyarkkarasi Amirthalingam made an indelible impact during the time she was active in politics.
Continue reading ‘Mangaiyarkkarasi Amirthalingam Was a Dynamic Political Personality in Her Own Right’ »
There is an uneasy truce in Jaffna University over a dress code for its women students. The code, drawn up by the university and the Arts Faculty Students Union, has its roots in the Tamils’ fear about “cultural degradation” in post-war Jaffna. But due to vehement protests by the women, the code has been made optional.
The controversy began when the university banned beards, forgetting that Muslim students are enjoined to sport a beard. The ban on the beard was subsequently lifted, but men students were barred from wearing jeans and T-shirts and the women were asked to eschew skirts and the Shalwar Kameez and come in a sari or an abaya, if Muslim.
Continue reading ‘Uneasy Calm Prevails in Jaffna University After Furore About Diktat Banning Jeans, Tee-Shirts, Skirts and Shalwar Kameez’ »
By Chamodi Gunawardana
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday claimed a ‘revengeful Government’ cannot impede him from engaging politics even if they arrest his entire family on what he insisted were false charges.
Addressing a sizeable public gathering at the Joint Opposition “Jana Satana” rally at Hyde Park Rajapaksa said he will never betray his family’s respect by leaving politics due to the fear of punishment.
“I administrated this land for nearly a decade and I did not curtail any subsidies which we provided for the general public. I would like to request the Government to hand over the country again to me if it is really unable to govern it better,” Rajapaksa said.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Tells”Jana Satana”Rally That he Would Engage in Politics Even if his Entire Family is Jailed on False Charges’ »
by Dasun Edirisinghe
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he would not give up politics even if his entire family was put behind bars.
Addressing the Joint Opposition’s first rally at Hyde Park, Colombo, Rajapaksa said he had been in prison for a period of three months and he second son Yoshitha for 41 days. His elder son Namal might also be thrown behind bars for about six months, he added, vowing to continue to raise his voice for the people.
The Rajapaksas had been in politics since 1930 and no one could force out them from politics, he said.
All SLFP MPs in the Joint Opposition, except six participated in yesterday’s well attended rally though the SLFP leadership had banned them from attending political events organised by other groups. Gampaha District MPs Prasanna Ranatunga and Prasanna Ranaweera, Kalutara District MP Vidura Wickremanayake and Polonnaruwa District MP Roshan Ranasinghe were abroad and two others sick.
Continue reading ‘All Joint Opposition SLFP MP’s Except 6 Defy Party Leadership Order and Attend Massive Hyde Park Rally in Colombo’ »
A.B. Abdul Gafoor
If the TNA proposes a North-East merger for finding a solution to the country’s ethnic problem which has prevailed for the last three decades, a separate province must be given for Muslims, Water Supply, Drainage and Urban Planing Minister Rauff Hakeem said.
He was speaking at a media conference at Green Villa, Oluvil recently
Minister Hakeem added that we will not allow the merger of the East with the North until Muslims’ problems are approached in an accepted manner.
Continue reading ‘SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem Wants Separate Province For Muslims If The TNA Wants a Merged North – Eastern Province’ »
Strong expressions of opposition to the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India are expected to grab the spotlight at a public rally to be held here on Thursday by the Joint Opposition Group (JOG) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The ETCA has become critical for the JOG for two reasons: Firstly, Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha had launched a frontal attack on the JOG at a public function. He had lashed out at the JOG for its baseless criticisms of the ETCA.
Secondly, at the rally held by the ruling United National Party (UNP) here on Tuesday, the ETCA was touted as the harbinger of one million jobs for Lankan youth.
Continue reading ‘Opposition to Economic Pact With India Will Be Highlight of Pro – Rajapaksa Opposition Rally in Colombo’ »
The leading Kurdish political party in Syria declared its own federal state in the north of the country yesterday (Wednesday), laying down a challenge to both Turkey and to peace talks in Geneva.
Leaders of the PYD, the Leftist party that is now the dominant power in north-east Syria and is allied to the Turkey-based guerrilla group the PKK, said they were planning to announce a single autonomous federal region, comprising the three divided territories under their control – Jazira, Kobani, and Afrin. The three cantons were previously known as Rojava, or West Kurdistan.
“A conference will be held by the democratic self-administration cantons in Rojava to discuss their dismantlement,” a Kurdish agency quoted a spokesman as saying. “In their place, a federal system for Western Kurdistan [Rojava] will be declared.”
Continue reading ‘Leading Kurdish Political Party PYD Declares an Autonomous Federal State in the North of Syria’ »
Krishantha Prasad Cooray
The word “Stunned” sums up the overall sentiment at the SSC ground on the evening of the 12th day of March, 2016. It didn’t matter which camp you belonged to, whether Royal or S. Thomas’. If you had been following the game from day one, you would have been stunned by the result of the 137th Battle of the Blues.
At the end of the first day, the Thomians were on top. They had started off as favourites and Royal’s gamble in putting the opposition in after winning the toss had well and truly backfired. There was talk of a possible Thora victory. When Royal, in response to the Thomians’ first innings total of 350 for 5 were 122 for 5 shortly after lunch on the second day, possible turned into probable.
Even with Royal clawing back to get to 280 for 7 with 16-year-old fresher Pasindu Sooriyabandara unbeated on 97 at the close, Thomian Coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe was still upbeat. He envisaged his boys picking up quick wickets, then putting up a challenging total and the bowlers finishing off the job, presumably sometime during the third session of the third day.
That is not what happened. Royal, fighting with their backs to the wall on day two, took the fight to the Thomians from the word go on day three. Quick runs and a declaration even though 22 runs in arrears indicated a newfound self-confidence. Things went downhill for the Thomians thereafter and Royal scored the winning runs in rapidly fading light.
Continue reading ‘The Victory Gained by Thomians Despite the Stunning Result of the 137th Royal – Thomian Encounter’ »
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that the fate of ArcelorMittal’s project to build 65,000 pre-fabricated houses for the war-displaced in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, should be decided by the beneficiaries and not by the Central Minister of Rehabilitation D.M. Swaminathan, or the Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V.Wigneswaran.
After Swaminathan and Wigneswaran had a spat at a function in Kopay in Jaffna district last Saturday, Sirisena had said that the question of the houses’ suitability should be settled by the people who are going live in them and not those who are not going to.
Wigneswaran had urged the government to “reconsider” the project as the prefab houses built by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal’s company, ArcelorMittal, are made of steel and PVC which are unsuited to the local climate. The design is also alien to the habits of rural Tamils. For example, there are no chimneys in the kitchens when the rural community uses wood or coal as fuel. Being prefabricated no changes can be made to the house. And LKR 2.1 million a house, it is too expensive.
Countering this, Swaminathan said that the houses are modern, coming with furniture, electric fans and facilities to use cooking gas. And the units will be delivered in record time.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Says Decision on Pre-Fab Houses in North Must be Made by People who Live in them and not Chief Minister Wigneswaran or Cabinet Minister Swaminathan’ »
Upul Joseph Fernando
A close analysis of how the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime dealt with India and the contradictory policies and statements that emanate, at present, from former Ministers like Prof. G.L. Peiris amply demonstrate that they are playing politics for their advantage using proposed agreements between Colombo and New Delhi. The analysis records that former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to New Delhi under Mahinda’s administration, Prasad Kariyawasam made a controversial statement against Tamil Nadu urging the Central Government of India to take action against Tamil Nadu politicians who had links with the LTTE. New Delhi appeared disturbed by Kariyawasam’s statement. On the contrary the Rajapaksa administration endorsed the statement made by Kariyawasam claiming that the latter made that statement in the interests of the Colombo Government.
Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Y.K. Sinha recently made a serious statement against Opposition politicians in Sri Lanka who attacked the proposed ETCA with India. He expressed shock and dismay over the same politicians who supported the CEPA with India now taking an opposing stand to ETCA. In response to Sinha, Prof. G.L. Peiris who earlier supported CEPA said Sinha was trying to play the controversial character of one of his predecessors J.N.Dixit. Dixit was a controversial character before and after the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed in July 1987 between former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi and former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene.
Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Protests Agreements With India But Keeps Silent About Agreements With China’ »
Sri Lanka’s current foreign policy and external alignments are increasingly asymmetrical with the needs of its material base; with its fundamental economic, financial and developmental requirements and interests.
Sri Lanka is being redesigned and reconstituted into what Mao Zedong called a “semi-colony”. A semi-colony is one which does not belong to a single outside power but is shared by several, with each having its sphere of preponderant influence.
The US-Sri Lanka partnership communique issued during Minister Samaraweera’s visit to Washington DC, reveals the extent of the envisaged US ‘engagement’. It is both broad-gauge and deep-going.
It envisages Sri Lanka as the crossroads where the US and India strategically converge. Sri Lanka is to be integrated into the Indo-US strategic grid in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific regions.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is Being Redesigned and Reconstituted into a “Semi’Colony” to Serve Strategic Interests of India and USA’ »
by Dasun Edirisinghe
The Joint Opposition yesterday said that all SLFP MPs within its ranks would be attending a rally to be held on March 17 at Hyde Park, Colombo in spite of a warning from the SLFP leadership that disciplinary action would be taken against them.
Addressing the media at Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, SLFP Vice President and Matara District MP Dullas Alahapperuma said that all 39 SLFP MPs including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would attend the event.
There were 41 SLFP MPs in the Joint Opposition, but two of them would go abroad on Thursday, he said.
Continue reading ‘39 MP’s From SLFP Including Mahinda Rajapaksa Will Attend March 17 Rally In Colombo Defying Disciplinary Action Threat Made By Party Leadership – Dullas Alahapperuma’ »
BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Chennai Port Trust had, on Friday, commenced supplying bunker fuel to ships at anchorage, an official said.
Till recently, international vessels that were passing various Indian sea ports had to go either to Singapore or Colombo for bunker fuel. Chennai Port has now started supplying bunker fuel through barge to vessel berthed at five nautical miles from the port.
“The supply of bunker fuel to ships at anchorage is a business which international ports such as Singapore and Colombo have excelled in. We started this facility with the aim of converting Chennai Port into a bunker hub in India’s East Coast,” said Chennai Port Traffic Manager B.Vimal.
Continue reading ‘Colombo Port May Be Hit as Chennai Port Commences Supplying Bunker Fuel To International Vessels’ »
Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa has recently developed a habit of visiting all kinds of suspects in remand prisons, many of them implicated in offences allegedly committed during the MR reign. Last week, he visited Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera, who was arrested over allegedly keeping an unlicensed elephant calf at his temple, which is an offence under the Fauna and Flora Act, though the prelate claimed that the calf was found abandoned in his temple yard (He was later released on bail.
Earlier, MR visited the imprisoned Galabodaatte Gnanasara Thera, who was indicted for contempt of court and for threatening Sandya Ekneligoda, the wife of the missing journalist, Pradeep. Also, the ex-President himself visited military personnel implicated in the alleged abduction of Pradeep Ekkneligoda. He also visited several of his acolytes who were arrested over alleged financial crimes, and of course, his son, Lt. Yoshitha (who is also accused of money laundering).
On the surface, MR’s prison visits are perfectly legitimate. He projects himself as a leader who cares about his followers and loyalists in their (and of course, his) good and bad times. Prison inmates are entitled to visits and he, as a Member of Parliament can exercise his privileges to visit the prison any time he wishes. And he prefers to do so in front of cameras. MR should be showing empathy with the predicament of his loyalists, now being investigated by judicial organs, for he himself and his siblings are now making regular appearances before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power (PRECIFAC).
Continue reading ‘Regular Visits by Mahinda Rajapaksa to See Detained Suspects in Prison Are Aimed At De-Legitimizing The Judicial Process’ »
The multiple misdeeds, alleged crimes ranging from abductions, assaults to even murder, acts of corruption and nepotism, providing wrong and deceitful information on the economy etc. belong, as already alleged, in the right domain — the Rajapaksa regime. These were all acts of commission. When one adds the acts of omission to this lot, the list rises nauseatingly high and the scope of investigation into them becomes excruciatingly tough.However, at the very outset, allow me to emphasize: ‘Finger on the trigger’ should not be assumed literally as one holding a gun against someone’s head.
The writer uses the metaphor, not to sensationalize the various allegations that are being dangled against some prominent members of the ruling cabal of the last regime, but merely as a figure of speech. The real question that the writer is asking is: Who was really and wholly responsible and accountable? Where did the proverbial buck stop? Yet again, it is, as I wrote in my earlier columns, redundant to keep beating the same drum as the MR regime was defeated in the January 2015 Presidential Elections and that defeat has passed down to history. But keeping them as part of history and not allowing the average citizen to be intimidated, abused and violated by the same perpetrators is as important as protecting what was gained.
For quite some time, allegations have been flying and the average citizen every now and then made a very legitimate inquiry as to why nobody was getting punished for the alleged misdeeds; they expressed utter frustration at the snail’s pace at which the so-called investigations were being dragged on; wild rumours made their usual rounds in drawing rooms inside homes, crowded bars in Colombo clubs and even inside three-wheelers which the average citizen uses for his or her daily regular/irregular commuting. That frustration reached a peak and may have died a natural death as they always do, when a sense of resignation dawns and day-to-day workloads overtake indulgences in unnecessary yet interesting pastimes.
But there is no circumventing the allegation that the members of the former ‘First Family’ were deeply entrenched in almost all the alleged misdeeds; their names came up as the first culprits of corruption, not so much as small-time dealers of the trade of wheeler-dealing, but as major players of some mega deals, sometimes involving foreign governments.
Continue reading ‘Real Responsibility Under Rajapaksa Regime:Whose Finger was Actually On The Trigger ?’ »
by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“Just as political democracy is all that stands between individuals and an overmighty government, so the regulatory providential state is all that stands between its citizens and the unpredictable forces of economic change.”
– Tony Judt (Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century)
From time immemorial, humans have imaged their heavens, the ones in the sky and the ones on earth. Thomas More, dreamer and politician, saint and persecutor of religious dissenters, called his own version of the ideal state Utopia, a name he coined from the Greek, meaning no place. Perhaps he meant it as a signal or even warning. After all, utopias are not finished products but works in progress. They can be lodestars, but never reachable destinations.
Good governance was an effective electoral slogan. Contrary to the utterances of some ministers, the replacement of the Rajapaksa regime with the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration did not bring about good governance. That change merely enabled the long and never ending walk towards the utopia called good governance. Good governance is not and cannot be an achieved reality; at the very best it can be a set of guidelines to act within and a series of goals to work towards.
In Thomas More’s Utopia, several religions coexist in peace and even atheists are tolerated. Yet as the Chancellor of Henry VIII, More was notoriously intolerant and excelled at and exulted in burning religious dissenters. Politicians cannot be depended on to usher in any utopia, including the ones they themselves imagined.
Everywhere and always, politicians, most politicians, develop a tendency to abuse power irrespective of party or ideological affiliations. The uncouth conduct of the Minister of Higher Education is only the latest indication that getting rid of the Rajapaksas was far easier than getting rid of the execrable practices which became the norm under their rule. The best guarantee that the necessary journey towards good governance doesn’t end on the opposite shore is not action by this or that political leader but an optimum combination of fair laws, strong institutions and a citizenry willing to stand up for their rights.
Continue reading ‘Getting Rid of Rajapaksas was Far More Easier Than Getting Rid Of Execrable Practices Which Became The Norm Under Their Rule’ »
Shehan Chamika Silva
The Colombo High Court today decided to revise the Kaduwela Magistrate’s order to remand Yoshitha Rajapaksa and three others over the alleged financial irregularities at the CSN and they were granted bail by High Court Judge A. A. Heiyanthuduwa.
Continue reading ‘Colombo High Court Revises Kaduwela Magistrates Order and Grants Bail to Yoshitha Rajapaksa and 3 Others in CSN Case’ »
Gihan de Chickera
A recent online video showing a young couple challenging two security guards who were trying to evict them from Independence Square for spending time there together deserves to be commended, as it highlighted a firm stand taken by citizens against the absurd and arbitrary imposition of a set of hypocritical and misguided rules and morals.
Better still was the news that a demonstration titled ‘Occupy the Square’ had been organised at the same location on March 6, to show solidarity with the aggrieved couple, create awareness on the issue and hopefully push for a removal of the unfair ‘no-couples’ policy. No one expected trouble. Police barriers and water cannons were not required. After all, this was not a protest by workers demanding a liveable wage, undergrads seeking a livelihood or villagers needing clean water to live.
As expected, the demonstration was held peacefully. Solidarity was shown and some awareness was created. What was not expected, however, was that it produced results. And in a country like Sri Lanka where people’s fundamental rights are flouted on a daily basis, this could be considered a victory, albeit a small one, for all like-minded citizens.
Continue reading ‘Outcome of Protest Demonstration at Independence Square Though Positive was Not Achieved By Due Process’ »
As anticipated, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has launched an offensive against the political protest rally to be held in Colombo on Thursday by the UPFA parliamentary dissident faction against the proposed ETCA economic agreement being negotiated with India.
In swift implementation of a party central committee decision, letters have been sent to all SLFP MPs prohibiting them from attending any rallies and demonstrations organised by other political groups.
Although the letter does not directly refer to the rally planned by the UPFA dissidents, who call themselves the ‘joint opposition’ in Parliament, the timing and tone of the SLFP letter indicated that it had some bearing on the dissidents’ event. The letter also says that those who violate the decisions made by the party Central Committee in this regard run the risk of disciplinary action.
At a recent meeting, the Central Committee decided to empower its disciplinary committee to take action against any member violating party discipline, irrespective of their positions in the party.
This means the SLFP MPs supporting President Sirisena will not attend the demonstration against ETCA. Some Sirisena supporters have actually adopted a stony silence when it comes to the proposed agreement with India. Others, who hold ministerial portfolios under the national unity government, have chosen to support the move.
Continue reading ‘Anti-ETCA Protest March on Thursday Will be a Test of Political Strength Between Maithri and Mahinda Factions of SLFP’ »
If the former president’s astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena got it wrong and came a cropper predicting Rajapaksa’s political future by gazing at the stars then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was spot on — as he says himself — and hit the bull’s eye when it came to prophesying the doom that awaited the Rajapaksa regime by simply glancing at the bottom line of Lanka’s balance sheet.
Throwing into the dustbin the Government’s maiden budget’s tax proposals presented last year in Parliament by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and replacing them with his own modified set, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Monday that he knew in 2014 the bad economic news that lay in store for the nation and realised then that the Rajapaksa Government’s days were numbered and would not last the fall of 2015.
“It was I who stated first that there would be a national election in 2015,” Wickremesinghe told the House. “I said so at the beginning of 2014. In truth, I made my prediction very much before Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena made his predictions. Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena made his predictions on the basis of formations of stars and planetary constellations. But I made my predictions after analysing the economic situation in the country. After analysing the way the Rajapaksa was mismanaging the country’s economy, I realised that there was no future for that government after 2015.”
Continue reading ‘Can Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Retain Confidence In Finance Minister Karunanayake After Replacing the Maiden Budget With His Own?’ »
Despite what appeared to be a concerted effort to deflect public attention with various sideshows like Minister Sarath Fonseka’s maiden speech in parliament, and the arrest of Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka on charges of illegally keeping an elephant, the economy remained the main focus last week with the opposition even hinting at a likelihood of a sovereign default as the 1.1 billion USD currency swap with India came due.
The Financial media reported last Friday that India had agreed to provide another 700 million USD currency swap arrangement until the expected IMF bailout package materialized. That would be the third occasion in which India provided short term external financing for Sri Lanka in the past 12 months.
Sri Lanka entered into currency swap arrangements with India in March 2015 for USD 400 million, and in July 2015 for 1.1 billion USD. This 700 million USD arrangement would be the third such occasion in a matter of 12 months. Sri Lanka has never been this dependent on India at any time in the past. This dependency probably explains the government’s antics over the proposed ETCA with India.
Any hopes of the government being able to raise money on the open market were dashed when Fitch ratings downgraded Sri Lanka’s credit rating and pushed us into the negative outlook category. Even before we were thus downgraded, it was prohibitively expensive to raise money on the open market. The 650 million USD sovereign bond issue in May 2015 had been made at over 6% interest and the 1,500 million USD sovereign bond issue in October 2015 was at a near 7% interest.
Continue reading ‘Govt Dependency on New Delhi Increases as India Provides Financial Aid Again to Bail Out Sri Lanka’ »
by Gamini Weerakoon
The story of a young couple being ordered out of Independence Square by two security guards of a hired private security firm was on the front pages of many daily newspapers. Surprisingly the young man and woman had public support rallying round them and on the next day there was a public demonstration staged in which the youthful Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Harsha De Silva also joined in.
Some subsequent reports said that the two security guards had been sacked while others said they were transferred out from Independence Square and there was jubilation among the pro- lovers’ demonstrators. The Yahapalanaya government leaders need to be commended on their defence of the rights of lovers while Minister Harsha De Silva too receives our encomiums for daring to extend his portfolio from External Affairs to Love Affairs as well. However our sympathies are with the two security guards who are made out to be the villains.
Continue reading ‘Let Us Sympathise with the Security Guards at Independence Square Portrayed as Villains were Mere Minions Following Orders’ »
The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, has appealed to the Lankan government to reconsider its plan to build 65,000 prefabricated houses for war-displaced persons in the province through a contract with ArcelorMittal, a Luxembourg-based company headed by the Indian billionaire, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal.
Speaking at a function at Koppai to mark the handing over of 700 acres of land to civilians by the army, Wigneswaran appealed to President Maithripala Sirisena, who was present, to give up the housing project on the grounds that it is too expensive and also unsuited to the economic condition of the displaced Tamils.
Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran Wants Govt to Stop Project Signed With ArcelorMittal to Build 65,000 Pre-fab Houses for War-displaced in Northern Province’ »
By Saman Indrajith
Close on the heels of additional burden placed on taxpayers, the UNP, the SLFP, the Opposition and the Joint Opposition consisting of UPFA rebels, in a rare display of unity, yesterday unanimously approved a range of allowances for MPs. Besides, they agreed to pay a special allowance to the parliamentary staff, according to highly placed sources.
The aforesaid decisions were made at a party leaders’ meeting chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. Among those present were Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, Deputy Chairman of Committees Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, Leader of the Opposition R Sampanthan, Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunatileka, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Ministers Mahinda Samarasinghe, Dr Wijeyadasa Rajakapkshe, MPs Dinesh Gunawardena, Douglas Devananda, Shanthi Sriskandarasa, MA Sumanthiran, Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and Deputy Secretary General Neil Iddawela.
MPs will be paid Rs 75,000 each to maintain an office in his or her constituency. All members will receive a monthly allowance of Rs 50,000 each for telephone, internet and overseas calls. It was also agreed to pay Rs. 50,000 each as a housing allowance to the MPs who are not resident at the Madiwela MPs housing complex.
These allowances will be in addition to the ones currently being paid to the members, according to sources.
Continue reading ‘All MP’s Unite to Approve Huge Additional Allowances for Themselves while Govt Imposes Additional Taxes on People’ »
by Rohana R. Wasala
“Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago, If thou but think’st him wronged and mak’st his ear A stranger to thy thoughts”.
– Othello , the eponymous hero of the Shakespeare play
The political stability that Sri Lanka enjoyed for a brief five years after the conclusion of the civil conflict in 2009 accelerated economic development and social progress in a nationally secure, peaceful environment. Of the tangible economic development achieved there was statistical proof; Sri Lanka reached middle income country status. To anyone who looked on the social scene with an unprejudiced mind it was obvious that the general lot of the masses was steadily improving; fast infrastructure development was taking place, with new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals being built across the country and rural electrification projects extended to cover the entirety of remote regions until recently devoid of a power supply; major housing schemes and mega construction programmes building seaports and airports and fisheries harbours were launched and completed with assistance from friendly nations.
National unity that had been seriously threatened by many decades of divisive politics indulged in by a few communalist minority politicians in contemptuous disregard of the innocent wishes of the sensible majority of ordinary masses was gradually being restored and reinforced. But what is the status of the country’s economic prospects today? With the recent downgrading of Sri Lanka’s Long Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) by the international credit rating agency known as Fitch Ratings a Negative Outlook has been assigned to the IDRs, which is likely to adversely affect investor sentiment, not a happy augury for our economic future as a nation. The government is blaming the previous Rajapaksa administration for accumulating enormous debts while completely ignoring the remarkable development that was achieved using those debts.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Faces a “Pons Asinorum” (Bridge of Asses) That He Must Cross’ »
Last Sunday (March 6, 2016) a protest was held at Independence Square. The ‘call to action’, so to speak, came in the form of a post on social media by unknown persons calling themselves ‘Occupy the Square’. The issue was about a security guard taking issue with a couple for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ at Independence Square. That ‘call’ was shared.
A fair number turned up including the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Harsha de Silva. Harsha came armed with the relevant circular. He took it up with the security personnel. The media picked it up. Action was taken subsequently on the orders of the Prime Minister. Freedom to love and be triumphed.
Then came the discussion. There was a lot of ridicule. Comments such as the following: It was a trivial matter. There are more important things to protest/challenge. It was an NGO affair. Just another protest by people determined to vilify Sinhala Buddhist culture. A distraction, nothing more. An exercise to dress up Harsha De Silva as Superman. Harsha lambasted a security guard over limiting freedom but he won’t dare stand up to foreigners intent on wrecking the country’s independence. I can’t wait to see Harsha take on Tamil Nadu fishermen poaching on Sri Lankan waters. Harsha was addressing his constituency just as Akhila Viraj Kariyawasam was appealing to his in the case of the Kuliyapitiya ‘AIDS Scare’.
Continue reading ‘Will Harsha de Silva Stand Up to Tamil Nadu Fishing Poachers in the same way he Took on the Security Guard as Independence Square?’ »