President Sirisena Tells UPFA Leaders That he Cannot Work Together With Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Rasika Jayakody

When President Maithripala Sirisena held a special discussion with party leaders of the UPFA following the weekly Cabinet meeting last week, it was quite clear to everyone that he was hell-bent on shooting down the General Election ‘hopes’ of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“There is no one who knows more about Mahinda Rajapaksa than I do. There is no way we can work together. My political journey is not with him. So, don’t talk about his candidature,” President Sirisena told the party leaders of the UPFA at the meeting.

This remark came when they argued that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the UPFA coalition at the forthcoming Parliamentary election.

Some party leaders stated that the UPFA should join the electoral fray with the sole intention of defeating the UNP which was instrumental in making Maithripala Sirisena, the present leader of the UPFA, the President of the country.

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Keeps Postponing Parliamentary Elections


By K. Ratnayake

Amid a deepening political and social crisis, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has repeatedly postponed the calling of a general election. As part of his “100-day” program, announced during the campaign for the January 8 presidential election, Sirisena promised to dissolve parliament on April 23 and hold a parliamentary election.

Last week, at a meeting with media executives and owners, Sirisena declared that he expected to install the next government by September, but refused to say when he intended to end the parliamentary session and set the date for a poll.

Sirisena, who was health minister under former President Mahinda Rajapakse, defeated Rajapakse in the January 8 poll, with the support of the pro-US United National Party (UNP) and several other parties.

Behind his election was a regime-change operation instigated by the Obama administration, which wanted to scuttle Rajapakse’s relations with Beijing as part of its aggressive “pivot to Asia” to confront China.

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Usage of the “P*ka” Word in Parliament and the Vasudeva Nanayakkara -Bandula Gunewardena ” Partnership”.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

My good friend Vasudeva Nanayakkara has been unapologetic about his use of a “P” word in the recent heated argument with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, in Parliament.

Vasudeva seems to be still reeling with anger, with whatever happened about his Point of Order issue with the Prime Minister. In any event he is not one who needs to be taught the meaning of words in the Sinhala language. He is a fluent orator in Sinhala, a good writer in the language, and very knowledgeable about proper use of the language; which has nothing to do with his having been the Minister of National Languages.

What surprises me is that it required Bandula Gunewardena, former Minister of Education and a tuition master with vast experience in the generation of wealth through tuition, to teach this country, and especially the Sinhala speaking people that the “P” word uttered and angrily repeated by Vasudeva is not an expletive, but part of good and wholly acceptable language.

Yes, it is in the Sinhala dictionary. Let’s refer to it as the p*ka word – usually an expletive for the penis. As Gunewardena has correctly explained, it means a fruit, a mature fruit. Very simply said “P*ka is also “pala”. What Gunewardena has shown with his explanation is that the Speaker was ignorant of this aspect of “p*ka” use when he cautioned Vasu that there were schoolchildren in the galleries of Parliament.

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19 Reasons as to why I Would Rather be From Sri Lanka Than Anywhere Else

By

Kasturi Saikia


“Old Ceylon”
is lovely, chilled out and surreal beyond explanation. One small patch of land, nicknamed as the ‘teardrop of India’ perhaps has the sweetest people on earth and its landscapes diversified from hilly terrains to sandy beaches.

Why would we prefer living anywhere else when we are blessed to be from Sri Lanka?

i-love-srilanka-cover

So, here are 19 reasons why we Sri Lankans love belonging here.

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“Dheepan” Film Telling Tale of Three Tamil Refugees in France Starring Ex- Tiger cum Writer Shoba Sakthi Wins the Top Film Award Palme d’or at Cannes Film Festival

The 68th Cannes Film Festival ended on Sunday May 24th with Jacques Audiard’s Sri Lankan refugee drama “Dheepan” taking the festival’s coveted top honor, the Palme d’Or.

The film relating the story of three Sri Lankan Refugees surviving as refugees in France has a former LTTE child soldier Anthonythasan Jesuthasan starring in the lead role.Jesuthasan writing under the nm de plume Shoba Sakthi is a well -known writer in Tamil. He lives in Paris.

French director Jacques Audiard (C) poses on stage with French actress and member of the Feature Film jury Sophie Marceau (L), Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (2ndL) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan after being awarded with the Palme d'Or from his film "Dheepan" during the closing ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT-via:

French director Jacques Audiard (C) poses on stage with French actress and member of the Feature Film jury Sophie Marceau (L), Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (2ndL) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan after being awarded with the Palme d’Or from his film “Dheepan” during the closing ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT-via:facebook.com/pages/Festival-de-Cannes-Page-Officielle/197710070249937

The win for “Dheepan” comes at a time when Europe is particularly attuned to the experience of immigrants, following the recent deaths of hundreds crossing the Mediterranean, seeking Italian shores. Jury members, though, said “Dheepan” was chosen for its overall strength as a film, rather than any topicality.

“We all thought it was a very beautiful movie,” said Ethan Coen, calling the decision “swift.” ”Everyone had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it.”
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“Brigadier” Balraj: Seventh Death Anniversary of Legendary LTTE Commander Who Led From the Front

Kandiah Balasegaran alias Balraj

Kandiah Balasegaran alias Balraj

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Kandiah Balasegaran alias Balraj the legendary military commander of the LTTE died of a heart attack on May 20th 2008.This article is an updated amalgamated version of articles written by me in 2008 and 2011 about him. It is being published here to denote the seventh death anniversary of “Brigadier” Balraj – DBSJ)

Three days in May (17th -19th) marked the fourth anniversary of the total military defeat suffered by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). While a large number of senior LTTE leaders and military commanders including tiger supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran met with their end during this period the greatest LTTE military commander of them all died a year earlier.

Kandiah Balasegaran alias “Brigadier Balraj” the Deputy military chief of the LTTE was spared the ignominy of witnessing the military decline and fall of the tigers in 2009. Balraj regarded as second in command to Prabhakaran in the military sphere died of a heart attack at Puthukkudiyiruppu in the Mullaitheevu district on May 20th 2008.The fifth anniversary of his death was observed by his admirers this week.

Balraj promoted posthumously as “Brigadier” had a formidable reputation as a fearless frontline tiger commander who led from the front. Among his many military feats the crowning achievement was the fight he put up in 2000 at Ithaavil on the A-9 Highway that interdicted transport between the Elephant Pass garrison and the supply lines along the Kilaly – Ezhuthumadduvaal-Nagar Kovil axis for 24 days at a stretch.
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Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment is Rajiv Gandhi’s Political Legacy in Sri Lanka

Rajiv Gandhi ~ (August 20, 1944 - May 21, 1991)

Rajiv Gandhi ~ (August 20, 1944 – May 21, 1991)

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Today May 21st is the 24th death anniversary of former Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was killed on May 21st 1991. The date of Rajiv Gandhi’s death has poignant significance for me personally. May 21st is the date of my birth. My birth and his death which happened thirty – seven years later are inter – twined in my consciousness. Rajiv’s memory looms large on each birthday. Some people who wish me regularly on my birthday remind me of this. I think of him very often on my birthday.It is hard to believe that twenty-four years have passed since Rajiv’s death.

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Remembering Comrade Bala Tampoe the Legendary Trade Union Leader on his 93rd Birth Anniversary -May 23

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark” is perhaps an apt description of how the International Workers Day was observed in Sri Lanka on May 1st. Instead of being given pride of place on May Day, the workers and their trade union leaders were virtually ignored by the political parties conducting rallies and processions on workers day. The May day event has been transfigured or disfigured into a Political Tamasha by major political parties.

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The pathetically fractured trade union movement and hopelessly debilitated working classes of Sri Lanka have either been unable or unwilling to check or counter this increasing politicisation and consequent diminution of the trade union sphere over the years. The transformation of May day into a political event where the workers were treated as children of a lesser god is only symptomatic of a malady that has afflicted this country for many decades. The sea of red that this writer witnessed on May day during his childhood slowly began changing colour to seas of green and blue over the years. With the presence of artistes and actors from India on stage, the meaning of May day got distorted as a cultural show.
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Katharine “Kate” Hepburn holds Oscar record for most wins in acting category

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

12 May was the birthday of an actress who was described by the American Film Institute as the “greatest American screen legend” among female stars.

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Katharine Hepburn, known popularly as Kate Hepburn, with her regal appearance and distinctive patrician-sounding accent, strode majestically across stage and screen in an acting career spanning more than six decades.

She holds the record still for winning the most amount of Oscars in the acting category with four. She also held the record for the highest number of nominations with 12 until Meryl Streep surpassed her. In her 66 years of acting Hepburn acted in 44 feature films, eight television movies and 33 stage plays including a Broadway musical.

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New Parliament Would be Elected by September 2015 States President Maithripala Sirisena

By Nisthar Cassim

President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday the country would have a new Government by September,suggesting that the Parliament would soon be dissolved, paving the way for a general election.

Speaking to media owners and editors at a breakfast forum at President’s House, Sirisena said that the responsibility of approving electoral reforms via the 20th Amendment rested with MPs and a final decision would be made whether to hold elections in the old systemor the new.

However, the President assured that the Constitutional Council, a key move arising out of the recently-passed 19th Amendment, would be constituted before the dissolution of Parliament.

The Constitutional Council (CC) will appoint several independent commissions aimed at improving democracy, good governance and rule of law. He said the term and the composition of CC would not change following the election of a new Parliament.

In what his second meeting with media owners and editors since assuming office, the President said that he had delivered on key pledges made during his election campaign. Sirisena pointed to the passing of 19th Amendment, which reduced some of the excessive powers previously enjoyed by the post of president, and making him as well as finances of Presidential Secretariat accountable to Parliament.

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Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa Refuses Opposition Request for No Confidence Motions Against Arjuna Mahendran and Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe


Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa yesterday turned down the Opposition’s request to pass no-confidence motions against Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and Bribery Commission Director General Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe.

In his verdict, the Speaker recommended presenting issues against Mahendran and Wickremasinghe to an existing parliamentary select committee or special select committee prior to a debate.

“An existing committee should conduct the initial investigation and the findings, along with the recommendations, should be debated in Parliament. Otherwise the allegations against the Central Bank Governor should be submitted to the COPE, allowing its Chairman to appoint a suitable committee to conduct an investigation. The findings of this committee should be reported to the Parliament within two weeks,” the Speaker said.

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“Supreme Court Gave Two Different Judgements on Similiar Matters in the Cases of Gota and Tiran” – Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe yesterday stated that the interim order prohibiting arrest of former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was a matter that “requires an interpretation from the Supreme Court,” having had issued “two different judgements on similar matters” recently.

Responding to questions from Leader of the Opposition Nimal Siripala de Silva raised in the Parliament on Tuesday Wickremasinghe said: “On that day the Chief Justice has given the judges the option to judge the particular matter if they like.

There is no issue with two judges passing a judgement as per Article 126 of the Constitution. But the issue here is that relevant parties were not informed before passing the judgement.”

“But under Article 132 (2) it is mandatory to have three judges. So, for the first time a legal issue has surfaced, which requires an interpretation under Article 125,” he added.

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President Sirisena is an Astute Politician whose Greatest Strength is the “Unpredictability”in his Character

By

Rasika Jayakody

Differences of opinion between the two warring groups within the UPFA have widened to an extent that a patch-up cannot be expected in the foreseeable future.

As exclusively revealed in this column last week, the group supporting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has now made up its mind to contest the forthcoming Parliamentary election as a new political front. They will form a new political coalition and its main component will be break-away MPs of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the UPFA.

The primary intention of their campaign will be to make Mahinda Rajapaksa the supreme leader of the country, once again. Rajapaksa supporters have now crossed the Rubicon and it is naïve to believe that they will return before the next Parliamentary election.

Breaking away from a mainstream political party is no easy task, especially for a person who was at the helm of its organizational hierarchy. When one defects from a mainstream political party, one has to expose himself to a totally different experience. One has to think anew and plan anew, breaking away from the comfort zones of his past.

The nearest example in this regard is the Democratic United National Front formed by Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake after they broke ranks with the Premadasa administration. They masterminded the failed impeachment motion against the then President and were subsequently thrown out of the government. They too had no option but to form a new political front to challenge the presidency of Ranasinghe Premadasa who was known as a leader with “dictatorial tendencies.”

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May 2009 Military Debacle at Mullivaaikkaal Results in Defeat of LTTE and Death of Tiger Leader Prabhakaran.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it” – Omar Khayyam in the Rubaiyat (translated into English by Sir Edward Fitzgerald)

The month of May is significant in the history of the Tamil secessionist armed struggle in Sri Lanka. It was on May 5th 1976 that a section of militant Sri Lankan Tamil youths re-organized themselves into an organization called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) which had the establishment of a separate Tamil state on the Island through armed struggle as its fundamental objective. It was on May 14th 1976 that the chief political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamils re-named itself as the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF)and adopted a resolution demanding the creation of a Tamil state called “Tamil Eelam”comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the Island.Decades later in May 2009 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam underwent a total military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the Mullaitheevu district of Sri Lanka’s northern province.Four days in May from May 15th to May 18th were of crucial importance in this regard. On May 19th 2009 South Asia’s longest war came to an end with the official announcement that the LTTE leader Thiruvengadam Veluppillai Prabhakaran was dead. His body was recovered on the banks of the Mullaitheevu lagoon known as “Nandhikkadal”.

It can be seen therefore that the first half of May has proved to be of great significance in the Tamil armed struggle for Tamil Eelam spearheaded by the LTTE known as the Tigers. It is against this backdrop that this column in this week of May re-visits some of my earlier writings in the past and focuses on the rise and fall of the LTTE and death of tiger supremo Prabhakaran.

In 1987: Prabhakaran in Jaffna

In 1987: Prabhakaran in Jaffna

Personal Note

I would like to begin with a personal note. I know it is pointless to talk of the past unless one is willing to learn lessons that would help to understand the present and anticipate the future.Yet I do so with the hope that some at least will reflect on the past with a sense of responsibility and try to avoid mistakes of the past in the future.
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People Gave Mandate to Maithri to Trap Rogues but Judges Appointed by Mahinda are Preventing that With Ruling on Gota FR Petition.

by

Upul Joseph Fernando

It was the Judiciary which gave strength to Chandrika to end Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Government in 2004. When the 18(a) Constitutional Amendment which barred Chandrika from dissolving Parliament after one year went before the Supreme Court, the then Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and the bench halted it stating that a referendum was needed in addition to the two thirds majority in Parliament for that purpose.

As a result, Ranil’s Government fell. Thereafter, the Judiciary gave several verdicts that went against Ranil’s Government. In the end when Chandrika took over three ministries of Ranil’s Government, the Supreme Court gave the ruling in favour of Chandrika. Since Sarath N. Silva was appointed as the Chief Justice by Chandrika and he was giving verdicts in favour of Chandrika, civic organizations and the Free Media Movement which claimed that Silva had charges against him pressurized the UNP to introduce an impeachment on Silva.

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“Aluth Parapura” Organization Commemorates May 19th as “Brotherhood Day” Instead of “War Victory Day” with Singing of National Anthem in Sinhala and Tamil

By Jayashika Padmasiri

The Aluth Parapura organisation yesterday held a vigil to commemorate ‘Brotherhood Day,’ emphasising that war only had an ending and not a victory. At the vigil, they invited people to sing the Sri Lankan National Anthem either in Sinhala or in Tamil.

This unique vigil was held yesterday at the Viharamahadevi Park, with civil society, university lecturers and artistes gathering to commemorate brotherhood on the sixth anniversary of the war victory.

The vigil was held with the purpose of promoting the idea that the end of war should not be considered a ‘victory’ but as a day to commemorate brotherhood.

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Padma Rao Sunderji’s “Sri Lanka; The New Country” is a Book Written with Great Understanding of the Island and Its People

SL N C PRSby Bandula Jayasekara

“As I stood there and thought of this book, I knew that most of its contents would be slammed by all those who want to keep separatism alive in Sri Lanka. But, what else ought foreign reporters do, other than travel in this new country with an open mind, a willingness to listen and tell the story?” (page 101)

I would like to begin my article on Padma’s book by quoting what she had to say because it sums up everything and why every Sri Lankan and every non Sri Lankan should read it. I wouldn’t like to call this a review of Padma’s book but, free flow of my thoughts of a book written by a journalist who empathise with Sri Lanka. SRI LANKA- THE NEW COUNTRY – By Padma Rao Sunderji touched my heart.

If any political animals out there think this is a book written after the recent elections they are mistaken. Padma writes about the new Sri Lanka she sees after the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka and on how the people here are enjoying the fruits of peace thanks to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and security forces.

Padma Rao Sunderji is a journalist who always speaks from the heart. Having known her for years I can say it without any hesitation. For whatever reason, I always considered Padma as one of us because of her empathy, understanding and her love for Sri Lanka unlike the many parachuting journalists we have seen before. I know that Padma knows Sri Lanka much more than even some Sri Lankans. The only journalist who understand Sri Lanka more than my Padma is my friend P. K. Balachandran, Bureau Chief of the New Indian Express, who has served in Sri Lanka for 18 years so far.

Padma’s love and understanding of Sri Lanka begins from her childhood thanks to her grandfather who worked in Paranthan in the late 1950’s. Her journey to Paranthan and the letter she received from her aunt Sumitra (Page 270) would take anyone down memory lane. Be it hers or ours. No wonder Padma describes Sri Lankans as the most wonderful people in South Asia.

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Full Text of President Maithripala Sirisena’s Address to the Nation at Matara on the 6th Anniversary of the Defeat of the LTTE.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday declared that the government would never allow terrorism to threaten the country again under any circumstances. Addressing the nation from Matara at the 6th anniversary of the defeat of the LTTE, President Maithripala Sirisena said: “We will strengthen the process of development and reconciliation and have the foremost trust and respect in the security sector led by the tri-forces. With regard to national security, we must clearly state that we will take every step to strengthen the armed services and to create a suitable environment for the services by providing ample physical and human resources for their needs.”

Full text of the President’s speech:

Today we celebrate one of the most historical and significant days of the recent past. Today is the anniversary of the day in which we ended the most ruthless and barbaric terrorism that lasted 30 years, brought peace to the nation, protected the territorial integrity and sovereignty, and our national heritage.

We all have bitter experience of the barbaric nature of the LTTE war. The human qualities were subdued, barbarism raised its head and the truth was suppressed. Peace was destroyed and the bloodshed cost us thousands of lives.

There will never be anything humane in a war. In this situation, our valiant forces, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Defence Force sacrificed their lives and fought this war bravely in defence of the Motherland.

The war that commenced in the 1980s became the worst catastrophe of our nation for three long decades. All developmental activities were at a standstill. People lost their hopes. All of them, however, committed themselves together with the members of the security forces to fight this war until victory, with much sacrifice. All of them who made such sacrifices receive the respect and honour of the nation. This honour should go to all the members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Defence Forces and all leaders of the State since 1980s who gave leadership with commitment to bring this conflict to an end. The great national service rendered by the forces cannot be valued in money. Hence, all the members of the forces receive the honour of the Government of Sri Lanka and all the citizens of the country today.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa Became “King”Within our Shores but Outside he was more or Less a “Pariah”.


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The new government has renamed the Victory Day as the Remembrance Day, and the main national event will be held tomorrow (19) in Matara to commemorate those who died in multiple insurrections in the country. Victory Day celebrations held under the previous regime, rather than bringing the nation together, polarized it further. That was one example as to how the previous regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa squandered the chances for reconciliation.

That failure stemmed from the ex-president’s manoeuvring to use the military triumph to cultivate a personality cult as the reincarnated Dutugemunu. His personal mission for glory hamstrung the national mission for reconciliation. In the process, a hard -fought military victory against one of the most egregious terrorist groups in the world faced the risk of being discredited.

The problem is not that Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE. Also, though there are concerns of military abuses, how the military fought the war is not the main contentious issue. The real problem was how the political leadership handled the war and conducted themselves after the military victory.

This line of argument perhaps could go against the conventional narrative, since Mr. Rajapaksa during his presidency succeeded in indoctrinating a large swathe of public that he provided the political leadership for the military victory. Yes, he did, but only in part.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Became “King”Within our Shores but Outside he was more or Less a “Pariah”.’ »

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka Denies Accusations that 40,000 Tamil Civilians were Killed in the Final Phase of War in the Wanni.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Strongly denying accusations regarding the death of 40,000 Tamil civilians during the final phase of the offensive on the Vanni east front (January-May 2009), Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka on Sunday (May 17) said that the army had to pay a very heavy price for not having the liberty to use heavy weapons against the LTTE.

War winning Army Commander, the then Lt. Gen. Fonseka emphasised that the army had no option but to refrain from maximizing the use of powerful weapons at its disposal for about four and half months because of the civilian factor.

Field Marshal Fonseka was responding to Shan Wijetunga on a live Rupavahini interview to coincide with Sri Lanka’s sixth anniversary celebrations to mark restoration of peace and stability.

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“The Govt can Accuse me,Jail me or Kill me” Thunders Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Victory day Commemoration.

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday accused the government of undermining peace and stability achieved in May six years back. It would be a mistake on its part to adopt polices at the expense of national security, the former President said.

Rajapaksa said that he was ready to face any situation, even face death, but the government should not engage in activities that would be inimical to national security.

Former President Rajapaksa was addressing the Victory Day Celebration organised by a group of artistes in the Viharamaha Devi open air theatre with the participation of UPFA MPs, members of ranaviru families and disabled soldiers.

“The government can accuse me, jail me or kill me, but we will not allow to reverse the victory achieved by the three forces, police and the civil defence force,” Rajapaksa said, adding that the victory won six years ago wasn’t only for Sinhalese but to all citizens of the country.

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Tiran Alles M.P. Files Fundamental Rights Violation Petition in Courts to Restrain Police from arresting him at Behest of cabinet Minister Champika Ranawaka.

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitioner Tiran Alles yesterday filed a fundamental rights violation application against the IGP N. K. Illangakoon, Director Special Investigations Unit Mevan Silva and a few others, alleging an imminent illegal arrest.

It said the petitioner was a victim of political vendetta by Minister Champika Ranawaka.

The actions of the police betrayed that they were acting at the behest of the minister.

The respondents were out to stifle the political activities of the petitioner and the newspaper managed by him from publishing articles critical of the government and of Ranawaka.

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PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION: WHAT SHOULD PRESIDENT SIRISENA DO?

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

It’s out in the open now, the discrepancy in the views of the President and the Prime Minister about the timing of the elections. The Prime Minister hopes for July, while the President’s circle prefers September. I suspect it may be about astrology, but in Sri Lankan politics, the broad timing of the decision is not astrological –not even President Rajapaksa’s decision to go for an election two years ahead of schedule—but the fine tuning is.

In other words, unlike in personal matters where the soothsayers’ word is law, Sri Lankan politicians make a political decision about the rough timing of the election on political grounds and from within your collective political unit (party, faction, family etc.) but your astrologer then homes in on the most appropriate date and time within the time frame they have indicated.

The Presidential faction seems to prefer elections later rather than sooner for at least three reasons. The stated reason is the completion of the reform agenda, i.e. the 20th amendment and the Right to Information Bill. The real reason is what they call the clean-up campaign, i.e. the prosecution of Rajapaksa loyalists and the consequent weakening of the Rajapaksa faction within the SLFP or provoking the latter’s exit from the SLFP.

The real problem is not whether the intra-SLFP battle is going quite the way that the president’s loyalists and ex-Presidential patron thinks. The real problem is that an unelected UNP Government is either embarking upon or taking the rap for a risky roll up of political opponents in what looks a pre-emptive electoral strike, just as it is displaying testy political behavior (e.g. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe during 19A and on the Supreme Court ruling on GR). It is conducting itself in a highly polarizing manner and is doing so without a legitimate mandate to govern.

In short it is pushing its luck. If things go on as they are doing, without a general election, and especially (but not only) if compounded by an economic crunch, something will surely pop, and it won’t be pretty.

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Ex- Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Indicted on Criminal Charges Despite the Supreme Court Order Preventing Imminent Arrest Until his FR Petition is Heard

Moves are on to indict former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in courts over alleged “offences” committed while discharging duties in his capacity as the chief accounting officer of the Defence Ministry notwithstanding the fact that he has obtained a stay order from the Supreme Court Preventing his imminent arrest till the fundamental rights petition filed by him is heard.

Criminal charges are to be filed against former Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, for flouting government tender procedure and for the purchase of four MiG 27 Flogger D fighter-bomber aircraft in 2006 at a staggering US$ 14,676,000, for failure of duty and causing loss to the State, in his capacity as the Chief Accounting Officer of the Ministry of Defence.

The agreement was entered into, without a performance bond and the vital End User Certificate are the main charges, after a Technical Evaluation Committee ruled against the purchase in 2000.

Top sources said, the former Defence Secretary was questioned on the rationale behind the purchase, overturning a previous decision in a manner detrimental to Sri Lanka, the buyer.

Continue reading ‘Ex- Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Indicted on Criminal Charges Despite the Supreme Court Order Preventing Imminent Arrest Until his FR Petition is Heard’ »

Supreme Court Blocks Return of Lands to People of Sampoor by Suspending President Sirisena’s Gazette Notification to that Effect

The Supreme Court yesterday (May 15th) suspended the gazette notification issued by the President releasing state land to the people in Sampoor.

By this action of suspending the gazette notification issued by President Sirisena, the Supreme Court has effectively blocked the return of lands to the people of sampoor who were displaced from their homelands in 2007.

Through a gazette notification, the President released the land held by the Board of Investment (BOI) leased to Sri Lanka Gateway Industries (SLGI).

The Supreme Court granted interim relief to petitioner SLGI suspending the President’s gazette notification revoking the state grant made to the BOI which was in turn leased to SLGI in Sampoor, Trincomalee for a US$ 4 billion project.

The Bench comprised Justices Rohini Marasinghe, Buwaneka Aluwihare and Upali Abeyratne.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Blocks Return of Lands to People of Sampoor by Suspending President Sirisena’s Gazette Notification to that Effect’ »

How Jayalalithaa Sparkled on Silver Screen in her Actress Avatar as Uncrowned Queen of Tamil Cinema.

by

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Ex-Film actress Ms.jayalalithaa Jayaram who was convicted over charges of acquiring disproportionate wealth has now been acquitted of all charges by the Karnataka High Court which heard her appeal.This article written for “Spotlight” Column in the “Daily Financial Times” of October 11th 2014 is re-posted here without any changes to mark the occasion)

The recent conviction and consequent imprisonment of Jayalalithaa Jayaram on charges of acquiring disproportionate wealth during her past term of office (1991-96) has resulted in the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister being under media spotlight for many days now. This week’s ‘Spotlight’ column too will be about Jayalalithaa but the focus will be on certain aspects of her family background, early life and scintillating career as a film star and not on her politics or present plight.

JJM

People looking at her physical corpulence – which may be a sign of her ill-gotten opulence – would not believe that the rotund lady of today was at one time slim and lissom. Indeed she was and a ravishing beauty too! As a sparkling actress on the silver screen, Jayalalithaa was the uncrowned queen of Tamil cinema during the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies of the last century. She was the dream girl of many a teenager and the favourite pin-up star of myriad fans.
Continue reading ‘How Jayalalithaa Sparkled on Silver Screen in her Actress Avatar as Uncrowned Queen of Tamil Cinema.’ »

VICTORY DAY, REMEMBRANCE DAY & POST WAR POLITICAL RECONCILIATION


BY
DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

“…he also underestimated badly the Rajapakse regime as well as the armed forces. Prabhakaran did not expect the armed forces to keep on progressing relentlessly as they did. But despite heavy losses the military juggernaut kept on rolling forward. More importantly he expected President Mahinda Rajapakse would cave into international pressure and call it quits. Then again Rajapakse too did not succumb and went ahead with the military campaign.”

–DBS Jeyaraj (‘Defeat of LTTE’, Daily Mirror, May 9, 2015)

****************

The debate over Victory Day versus Remembrance Day is surreal. Certainly there should be a day of remembrance for all those who died in the war. The problem arises when it is confused with Victory Day and worse still the latter is renamed as Remembrance Day. Poppy Day is Remembrance Day, a day of commemoration of all those who served in the UK armed forces and died. (We Sri Lankans could have a more inclusive day of Remembrance.)

Poppy Day is never confused with or substitutes for V-E Day or V-J Day, the days on which World War II ended with the defeat of the Axis powers by the Allies. Even the Normandy landing is commemorated each year. In recent weeks we saw two massive occasions of celebratory commemoration: the 40th anniversary of the victorious reunification of Vietnam (April 30) and the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Fascism. Both events were widely and elaborately celebrated precisely as Victory day(s).

Why should anyone’s feelings be hurt by the celebration of May 19th as Victory day? It is the day on which the killing stopped, after 30 years. It is the day that peace dawned with the termination of the three decades war and the death of the man who commenced it–South Asia’s equivalent of Hitler. It is the day that peace prevailed over war and life triumphed over death.

It is the day that the legitimate armed forces of a legitimate democratic state won a war against a powerful terrorist, suicide-bombing militia which had assassinated more democratic political personalities than had any other terrorist movement anywhere on earth.

Is that not a victory worth celebrating by any universal human standards?

Continue reading ‘VICTORY DAY, REMEMBRANCE DAY & POST WAR POLITICAL RECONCILIATION’ »

Kottu House Brings Taste of Sri Lanka “Kottu” to Lower East side in Manhattan, NYC

By
Ligaya Mishan
| pix by: Ben Russell

A devil’s face with goggle eyes and swollen tongue stares from the window of Kottu House. It’s only a vinyl decal, meant to evoke the wooden masks — often flanked by cobras, peacocks or flames — that guard the entrances of Sinhalese homes in Sri Lanka, warding off evil.

Inside, the same face is projected above the bar in random glow-stick colors, to the low pulse of trance music.

Counterclockwise from top right: minchi sambol, a beautifully bright paste of fresh grated coconut and lime; pol sambol, a tumble of red onion and tomato; and racked by chile, the ruthless conflagration that is lunu sambol.

Counterclockwise from top right: minchi sambol, a beautifully bright paste of fresh grated coconut and lime; pol sambol, a tumble of red onion and tomato; and racked by chile, the ruthless conflagration that is lunu sambol.

Apart from a Buddha statue in a corner, Kottu House doesn’t abide by the usual tropes of New York City’s Sri Lankan restaurants, many of which are clustered in Tompkinsville, on the northeastern shore of Staten Island. There, they cater primarily to the neighborhood’s population of some 5,000 Sri Lankans. Chelaka Gunamuni, who opened Kottu House in March on the Lower East Side, seeks a wider audience.
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading ‘Kottu House Brings Taste of Sri Lanka “Kottu” to Lower East side in Manhattan, NYC’ »

Ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa Denies Allegations of Investing US $190 Million in Dubai Hotel in his “Front Man” Nandana Lokuvithana’s Name

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today said that he does not own the Marriot hotel and rejected all the allegations regarding an investment in the Steel Corporation and the Marriot hotel in Dubai.

He also accused FCID of functioning as an extension of the UNP.

Following is the statement issued:

Continue reading ‘Ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa Denies Allegations of Investing US $190 Million in Dubai Hotel in his “Front Man” Nandana Lokuvithana’s Name’ »

Commonwealth Advice will be sought Over Interim Order Obtained by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says Ranil Wickremesinghe


By Jayashika Padmasiri

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, reacting to the news that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa obtained an interim order from the Supreme Court yesterday, said that he could not comment on the case until October and the only thing left to do was seek the advice of the Commonwealth.

Wickremesinghe made these remarks at the National Summit on Media Reforms held in Colombo yesterday. He also explained that he was made a respondent in Rajapaksa’s case, which will only be taken up in October.

“Since President Sirisena is the Commonwealth Chairman now, the only solution left is to seek the advice of the Commonwealth Judges’ Union, lawyers and other relevant people of the Commonwealth regarding this situation.

By no means am I questioning Gotabaya’s right to file a Fundamental Rights case, but I’m only questioning the fact that neither I nor the Cabinet can answer regarding this situation until October,” Wickremesinghe pointed out.

Continue reading ‘Commonwealth Advice will be sought Over Interim Order Obtained by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Ranil Concerned that he is Unable to Reply Immediately to Allegations Against him in Gotabhaya’s FR Petition due to Court Order

By

Rasika Somarathna

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday expressed serious concerns about not getting an early opportunity to reply to allegations leveled against him in the FR petition filed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa before the Supreme Court.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision to fix October 6 as the next hearing date of the FR petition filed by the former Defence Secretary, the Prime Minister said the President could seek opinion from the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association and other legal divisions in this regard.

“President Maithripala Sirisena is not only the President of Sri Lanka, but also the current chair of the Commonwealth,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said speaking at the National Consultative Summit on Media reforms at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Concerned that he is Unable to Reply Immediately to Allegations Against him in Gotabhaya’s FR Petition due to Court Order’ »

Gregory Peck’s flu cured by ginger-coriander tea when filming in Ceylon

by
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

SL DBSJ

The ‘Spotlight’ column returns after a lengthy interval. The focus this time is on American actor Gregory Peck. There is no particular reason other than nostalgia for writing about this former Hollywood idol at this time. Born in 1916, Peck passed away in 2003. So this year 2015 does not mark any significant anniversary in his life or of his death.

The idea to write about him for this column is due to a pleasant “accident” of sorts. Among my collection of old films is a trove of films starring Gregory Peck. Some years ago a friend borrowed and returned them later. We were shifting house then and somehow the Peck films got misplaced. I had given them up for lost until I came across the movies accidently last week. The past few days were devoted to watching them again. Hence this nostalgic yearning to write about one of the many actors whose films have given me immense pleasure.

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck

Hollywood heartthrob

Gregory Peck along with actors like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were the Hollywood heartthrobs of an earlier generation of Sri Lankans. They were considered strikingly handsome and dashing by both guys and girls. A young buck would feel complimented in those days if compared to Gregory Peck. Even the young at heart would feel the same.
Continue reading ‘Gregory Peck’s flu cured by ginger-coriander tea when filming in Ceylon’ »

Indecent Hurry in Which Mahinda Rajapaksa is Trying to Engineer his Political Comeback


By

Dharisha Bastians

Mahinda Rajapaksa, defeated in an unprecedented third bid for the presidency on 8 January this year, is living in a bubble – again.

This bubble is a skillful construct of his most faithful acolytes. It is inflated by weeping masses at his door, fawning supporters dogging his every move and large, raucous crowds at rallies begging for his return to power.

Acrimony between incumbent presidents and their predecessors has become something of a tradition in Sri Lankan political life. Thus, like Chandrika Kumaratunga before him, Mahinda Rajapaksa is also trailed by TV cameras and journalists, waiting for the controversial sound bite against the incumbent Government that he inevitably provides at every opportunity.

Five months after he lost power at the presidential elections in January, President Rajapaksa is still making it to the front page of every newspaper on a daily basis.

The bubble is reinforced by the hype. The former President is surrounded again by advisors whose only desire is to keep him basking in the glow of his imminent return. His most ardent political support has emerged from politicians who are the biggest noisemakers in the current Parliament, even if the noise levels may not directly correspond to their electoral prowess.

Unsurprisingly this political coterie comprises UPFA Parliamentarians whose electoral fortunes appear bleakest within the former ruling alliance, if Mahinda Rajapaksa is wiped out of the picture in the short term.

A deep sense of déjà vu accompanies the developing story that is the ‘Bring Mahinda Back’ campaign. The same propagandists, political ‘strategists’ and unwise counsel had convinced the former President of his electoral invincibility in January, almost right up to polling day.

Continue reading ‘Indecent Hurry in Which Mahinda Rajapaksa is Trying to Engineer his Political Comeback’ »

Supreme Court Effectively Clears Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran By Dismissing FR Petition Filed by Good Governance Activists

In a major development, the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the Fundamental Rights application against the much-publicised 30-year Treasury Bond issue of 26 February seeking an independent inquiry into the Central Bank Treasury Bond issue and the Bank’s Governor Arjuna Mahendran.

The move has effectively cleared both Governor Arjuna Mahendran and primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries and others sighted as respondents.

In dismissing the FR application filed by good governance activists Dr. G. Usvattearachchi, Dr. A.C. Visvalingam and Chandra Jayaratne, the Supreme Court said there was no legal basis to issue notice.

Originally the petitioners in their application expressed the belief that the Rs. 1 billion 30-year Treasury Bond issue contained serious irregularities, lacked transparency and did not adhere to the accepted best practices of good governance and was possibly tainted by conflicts of interests and related party transactions.

The petition named eight respondents including Governor Arjuna Mahendran, his son-in-law Arjuna Aloysius, Deputy Governor P. Samarasiri and Secretary of the Finance Ministry.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Effectively Clears Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran By Dismissing FR Petition Filed by Good Governance Activists’ »

Supreme Court Restrains Authorities from Arresting Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Until Final Determination of his FR Petition

By Chitra Weerarathne

The Supreme Court yesterday granted interim relief to former Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, by restraining the respondent authorities from arresting him until the final determination of the fundamental rights violation petition filed by the former frontline combat officer.

The respondents cited in the rights violation petition are the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet of Ministers, the IGP, the Director CID, the Financial Crimes Investigations Division, and the Attorney General. By this order the FCID, the IGP and the CID, are restrained from arresting the petitioner.

Leave to proceed with the petition was granted.

The respondents were given time to file objections.

The petition will be argued on October 6, 2015.

The petitioner has complained of an imminent illegal arrest by the FCID on the order of the National Executive Committee.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Restrains Authorities from Arresting Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Until Final Determination of his FR Petition’ »

Northern Governor Palihakkara Ensures Jaffna Divisional Secretariat Provides State Assistance to Displaced Sinhalese Returning to North.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Northern Province Governor H.M.G.S. Palihakkara has told Jaffna Divisional Secretariat that required state assistance should be provided to all those who had returned to the Jaffna peninsula seeking resettlement regardless of their ethnicity.

One-time foreign secretary, Palihakkara has emphasized that those wanting to re-build their lives shouldn’t be deprived of the support; they were entitled to it in accordance with instructions issued by the government.

The Northern Governor has intervened subsequent to a group of Sinhala families living in state land situated close to Navatkuli railway station making representations recently.

Continue reading ‘Northern Governor Palihakkara Ensures Jaffna Divisional Secretariat Provides State Assistance to Displaced Sinhalese Returning to North.’ »

The bin Laden assassination and the lies of the “ US war on terror” by the Bush and Obama Administrations


By

Patrick Martin

The 10,000-word essay by Seymour Hersh on the US killing of Osama bin Laden, published Sunday by the London Review of Books, is a devastating blow to the entire narrative of the US “war on terror,” as it has been elaborated by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The central thrust of Hersh’s exposure—that the Obama administration systematically lied about the raid by US Navy Seals that killed bin Laden on May 1, 2011—has been rapidly confirmed by other media outlets, including several that are hostile to Hersh and supportive of the White House.

NBC News reported, citing three unnamed sources, two of them in US intelligence, that a “walk in” from Pakistani intelligence told the CIA where Osama bin Laden was hiding a year before the US raid, and that the Pakistani government knew that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, a headquarters town for the Pakistani military.

Several Pakistani news outlets reported the name of the former intelligence official who tipped off the CIA about bin Laden, identifying him as former brigadier Usman Khalid of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the Pakistani military intelligence service, who has been moved to the United States and is working with the CIA.

They also confirmed that Pakistani officials at the highest level were aware of bin Laden’s presence and identified one intelligence official, Ijaz Shah, as the man who arranged to house bin Laden in Abbottabad, at the direction of then-president Pervez Musharraf.

Continue reading ‘The bin Laden assassination and the lies of the “ US war on terror” by the Bush and Obama Administrations’ »

Pulitzer Prize Winning US Journalist Seymour Hersh Exposes Official Lies About Bin Laden killing


By Niles Williamson

Nearly four years since the US Special Forces raid that resulted in the murder of Osama bin Laden, an extraordinary political exposure by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published Sunday in the London Review of Books has torn the mask off the official narrative by the US government.

The wealth of details laid out in Hersh’s article calls attention to the reality that nothing that any government official says on the record can be taken as the truth, and that the mainstream media operates as an echo chamber for official lies. Hersh asserts that the accounts given by President Barack Obama and members of his administration “might have been written by Lewis Carroll,” author of Alice in Wonderland.

Among the claims exposed as fabrications are that the CIA torture program contributed to the discovery of bin Laden’s hideout; that the raid was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistani government; that the Special Operations team intended to take bin Laden alive, and only killed him after he resisted; and that bin Laden was given an Islamic burial at sea from the carrier USS Carl Vinson.
Hersh writes that the 2011 operation to kill bin Laden was initiated in August 2010 after a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer walked into the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to give the CIA bin Laden’s location in return for the $25 million bounty the US government had placed on the Al Qaeda leader’s head in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Continue reading ‘Pulitzer Prize Winning US Journalist Seymour Hersh Exposes Official Lies About Bin Laden killing’ »

Supreme Court Issues Interim Order Staying the Anticipated Arrest of Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Grants Leave to Proceed in his Fundamental Rights Petition

By

S. Selvanayagam, Lakmal Sooriyagoda and Hafeel Farisz

The Supreme Court today issued an interim order staying the arrest of former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and granted leave to proceed in the fundamental rights petition filed by him.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices Eva Wanasundera and Sarath De Abrew issued the interim order having heard submissions by counsel representing Mr. Rajapaksa and the Attorney General.

When the matter was taken up for inquiry at 10.45 a.m., Supreme Court Judge Buwaneka Aluwihare who was appointed to hear the case with the other two judges stepped down, citing personal reasons.

He said he was unable to hear the case, at which point Justice Eva Wanasundera sent the file to the Chief Justice for his direction.

Counsel Romesh De Silva PC said he would remain in courtroom 502 until CJ’s direction was received.

The direction was delivered within five minutes. He directed Justice Eva Wanasundera and Sarath De Abrew to hear the petition.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Issues Interim Order Staying the Anticipated Arrest of Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Grants Leave to Proceed in his Fundamental Rights Petition’ »

“Horu,Horu,Horu Wage,Boru,Boru,Boru”(Like Thieves, Thieves, Thieves -Lies,Lies, Lies) Says Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By

Malinda Seneviratne

There was a photo of former Secretary, Defence Ministry, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with a caption that heavily borrows from the late Singaporean leader Lee Kwan Yew.

‘I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of it, building up the capital of this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A beautiful Colombo. A safe Sri Lanka. What have I given up? My life.’

The picture with the quote is reported to have gone viral over social media. Some who shared obviously adores the man, and some who did and did so with comment hates him. Both types of ‘sharers’ have reason to be embarrassed. Gotabhaya has said that it’s not his doing.

This is the issue with social media. You can morph, splice, photoshop, mis-quote, tag, put words in the mouths of those you adore and those you hate and do all kinds of things without any sense of responsibility. Gota’s denial takes the air out of the airbags but no doubt they will come back with something else soon. Gota, to his credit, has remained unfazed and even made a wry comment that in the very least shows that he has his wits about him even in these trying times of arrest-talk and preempt-arrest efforts. He said, ‘If people can quote Lord Buddha, why can’t people quote Lee Kwan Yew?’

Continue reading ‘“Horu,Horu,Horu Wage,Boru,Boru,Boru”(Like Thieves, Thieves, Thieves -Lies,Lies, Lies) Says Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

Mahinda and Gotabhaya to Lead Two Different Alliances at Parliamentary Polls and Unite After Results

By

Rasika Jayakody

In the wee hours of April 3, 2004, Maithripala Sirisena, the then General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, received a telephone call from former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. A sleepless election night had come to an end and the results indicated the United People’s Freedom Alliance, of which the SLFP was the main stakeholder, was in a position to form a government. The former President, who was also the leader of the UPFA, sounded jubilant.

“Maithri, it is clear that the UPFA can form a government. We will secure a clear majority. I need to discuss some important matters about forming a new government. Can you meet me immediately?” the former President asked her General Secretary who was at his personal residence in Polonnaruwa.

“Madam, it will take at least four hours for me to come to Colombo,” the General Secretary replied. At that point, the former President immediately arranged a helicopter to facilitate transport for Sirisena.
When the SLFP General Secretary arrived at the President’s Office, two gentlemen were already having a serious discussion with the former President inside her office room. They were Kusumsiri Balapatandendi, former Secretary to the President and the late Lakshman Kadirgarmar, the dynamic and charismatic Foreign Minister of the CBK administration. As the former President saw Sirisena, she invited him to join the meeting.

“We have to form a new government tomorrow. The Prime Minister and the new Cabinet should take oaths,” Kumaratunga explained.

“Who should be the Prime Minister, Maithri?” the former President suddenly asked an unexpected question. All eyes in the meeting room were directed at the General Secretary of the party.

“Madam, it is you who should decide the Prime Minister,” Maithri replied politely, with a smile on his face, as he was totally unprepared for a question of that nature.

“Now the JVP has become very powerful within the UPFA. They have about 40 seats in the House. Tilvin Silva has already sent me a letter suggesting three names for the Prime Minister’s post,” CBK said while handing over the letter to the General Secretary.

The JVP had suggested three senior SLFP Parliamentarians as potential candidates for the post of Prime Minister. Their first choice was Lakshman Kadirgarmar, an Oxford educated lawer who was arguably the most successful Foreign Minister produced by the country. Their second choice was Anura Bandaranaike, the brother of President Kumaratunga, a former Speaker and a former Opposition Leader. As its last choice, the JVP had nominated Maithripala Sirisena, General Secretary of the SLFP who signed the UPFA agreement on behalf of the party.

However, Maithripala Sirisena’s response to the letter came as a shock to everyone.

“Madam, our voters expect Mahinda Rajapaksa to be the Prime Minister.”

Continue reading ‘Mahinda and Gotabhaya to Lead Two Different Alliances at Parliamentary Polls and Unite After Results’ »

Will Complaining About Maithri-Ranil Govt to UN in Geneva make Mahinda Rajapaksa a Traitor and a Tiger?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Former Minister Bandula Gunawardena last week stated he would go to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva to complain that the Maithri-Ranil Government was arresting and questioning pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa activists.

Bandula is a close associate of Mahinda. Therefore, Bandula may be proceeding to Geneva on Mahinda’s instructions. In the past, Mahinda and his ministers including Bandula called the UNHRC Geneva a traitor of Sri Lanka and labelled it as an LTTE office.

It is opportune to recall that in 2012 when the UNHRC brought a resolution against Mahinda’s Government for alleged human rights violations, civic leaders: Sunila Abeysekere, Nimalka Fernando and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu went to Geneva to lodge complaints. What did Mahinda’s closest associate Mervyn Silva say about those civic leaders? He threatened to break their legs when they returned to the country.

The State media went to town against Sunila, Nimalka and Pakiasothy and called them Tigers (LTTE) and made announcements that were likely to incite the public against them. Following such threats, the trio issued following statement to the media;

Continue reading ‘Will Complaining About Maithri-Ranil Govt to UN in Geneva make Mahinda Rajapaksa a Traitor and a Tiger?’ »

Eastern Governor Austin Fernando says Return of Lands and Re-settlement in Sampur Will not Affect Power Plant or Trinco Harbour Security.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando yesterday said that the on-going resettlement programme wouldn’t affect the proposed Sampur coal-fired power project.

Fernando insisted that the government would ensure the project would go ahead as planned.

The coal power plant is a joint venture between the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) of India.

Asked whether the resettlement project would undermine existing arrangements meant to ensure security of the strategic Trincomalee harbour, the one-time Defence Secretary Fernando alleged that various interested parties were propagating lies.

Continue reading ‘Eastern Governor Austin Fernando says Return of Lands and Re-settlement in Sampur Will not Affect Power Plant or Trinco Harbour Security.’ »

19th Amendment not yet law as Legal Draftsman Dept Delays sending Bill for Signing Assent by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa.

By Kushan Subasinghe

English and Tamil translations of the draft Bill of the 19th Amendment passed in Parliament last month and forwarded to the Department of the Legal Draftsman for finalising had not yet been returned, Parliament sources said yesterday.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa was to sign the Bill into law yesterday.

Continue reading ‘19th Amendment not yet law as Legal Draftsman Dept Delays sending Bill for Signing Assent by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa.’ »

Premier Ranil Indicates After John Kerry Visit that Sri Lanka and US agree on the Post -War Role of Armed Forces

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a brief note, addressed to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Jagath Jayasuriya emphasized the importance of some issues raised by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his two-day visit to Colombo.

The note to Gen. Jayasuriya, copied to Army Commander Lt. Gen. Crishanthe De Silva, Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera, and Airforce Commander, Air Marshal Kolitha Gunatilleke, Premier Wickremesinghe highlighted some points, discussed by Kerry, in a public lecture delivered at the Taj Samudra.

Premier Wickremesinghe quoted US Secretary of State Kerry as having said: “None of us wants to live in a country where the military is stopping its own citizens at checkpoints. And Sri Lanka’s military has so much more to contribute, in defending this country, protecting vital sea lanes and taking part in UN peace keeping missions all over the world. And, as your armed forces make that transition, we are going to be very eager to work with you and to work with them and to tender help.”

In a sense, the missive, dated May, 7 is unprecedented, as no previous Premier had resorted to such a strategy.

Continue reading ‘Premier Ranil Indicates After John Kerry Visit that Sri Lanka and US agree on the Post -War Role of Armed Forces’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Seeks Supreme Court Intervention to Prevent his Imminent Arrest and On Going Investigations into Corruption Charges

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) application challenging the legality of the establishment of a Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID).

Through this application, Rajapaksa has also sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to prevent his imminent arrest and the conclusion of the several purported investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruptions and the Frauds and Corruption Investigations Division (FCID).

The respondents in the petition include the Cabinet of Ministers, Secretary to the President, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspect General of Police (Frauds and Corruption Investigative Division), Director of the CID and the Attorney General.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Seeks Supreme Court Intervention to Prevent his Imminent Arrest and On Going Investigations into Corruption Charges’ »

Politics of Modesty by President Sirisena and Abrasive Politics of “Bring Mahinda Back” Campaign


By Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda

Three events dominated Sri Lanka’s most recent political developments and debates. The May Day mob attack on Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr. Kumudu Kusum Kumara is the first. The intensification of the campaign to bring former President Mahinda Rajapakse back is the second. The meeting between the present and former presidents is the third.

JU MR

These three events encapsulate and signify some key dimensions of the dynamics of Sri Lanka’s current political turmoil. This essay seeks to comment on some of them.
Continue reading ‘Politics of Modesty by President Sirisena and Abrasive Politics of “Bring Mahinda Back” Campaign’ »

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Arrested Over Allegations of Misusing Presidential Secretariat Vehicles and Remanded till May 20th

By Norman Palihawadane and Anura Balasuriya

UPFA Galle District Parliamentarian Sajin de Vass Gunawardena was arrested by the police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) yesterday over allegations of misusing vehicles belonging to the Presidential Secretariat.

MP Gunawardena was later produced before Colombo Fort Magistrate and ordered to be remanded till May 20.

The CID summoned Gunawardena to record a statement yesterday morning and he was questioned for nearly three hours prior to being taken into custody.

He had been questioned in connection with the misuse of 20 state vehicles belonging to the Presidential Secretariat, police said.

Continue reading ‘Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Arrested Over Allegations of Misusing Presidential Secretariat Vehicles and Remanded till May 20th’ »

“Extremists Slinging Mud Against me for Trying to Re-settle Displaced Muslims of Musali Division”-Rishad Bathiudeen.

by Zacki Jabbar

Industry and Commerce Minister and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen said yesterday that extremist groups hell bent on creating communal conflicts were continuing their mudslinging campaign against him even though he had helped a large number of war displaced Sinhalese and Tamils return to their original lands in Mannar.

The Minister emphasised that members of all communities including over a 100,000 Muslims who had fled their homes in the North in the face of LTTE threats had a right to return to their ancestral lands.

“I was on the LTTE hit list for helping a large number of internally displaced Tamils resettle in Mannar. Similarly, I have also assisted Sinhala refugee families. Being a war displaced person myself, I could understand their suffering,” the minister said adding that those who were making false allegations that he had helped Muslims returning to their lands in Musali, encroach into the Wilpattu National Park had obviously not bothered to check the facts.

Continue reading ‘“Extremists Slinging Mud Against me for Trying to Re-settle Displaced Muslims of Musali Division”-Rishad Bathiudeen.’ »

How and Why the Financial Crime Investigation Divison and Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat were Established

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Media Division of the Prime Ministers Office on May 11th 2015 Headlined “Financial Crimes Investigation Division and the Anti-Corruption Committee”)

Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) is only a functional division of the Police Department, which was established in response to the emerging trend of serious financial frauds.

This division was established in terms of the provisions of the section 55 of the Police Ordinance, with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers and it operates under the exclusive supervision and direction of the Inspector General of Police.

Continue reading ‘How and Why the Financial Crime Investigation Divison and Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat were Established’ »

Maithri-Ranil-Chandrika Troika Led Govt Commits “Legal Fascism”by Locking up and Interrogating Opposition Leaders and Officials

BY DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

Don’t you just hate it when people who should know better make huge mistakes which have been made before with disastrous consequences for all concerned– in other words, huge avoidable mistakes?

Take this Government for instance. It has crossed a line which far stronger and more legitimate i.e. popularly elected, predecessors did not. Its predecessors did a few things of the same sort with disastrous consequences, but this government is venturing far beyond.

Take the “legal fascism”, or less dramatically, the “lawfare” (to borrow Emeritus Professor Richard Falk’s phrase) involved in locking up an unprecedented number of Opposition parliamentarians, interrogating high officials etc. A precursor of this conduct was the behavior of Felix Dias Bandaranaike in the 1970-1977 administration, so well brought to the screen in Gamini Fonseka’s “Sagarayak Meda”. The Felixian model of detentions at Paget Road, the Bribery Commissioner’s raids, the dissolution of Municipal authorities and the appointment of Special Commissioners, is sought to be emulated by the Yahapalana regime, though the place of detention is far rougher this time around.

That mode of conduct against one’s rivals within the (democratic) System caused considerable polarization in the sociopolitical atmosphere, culminated in the loss of Felix’s civic rights and led to the erection of a far more authoritarian successor regime. In a word: blowback.

Continue reading ‘Maithri-Ranil-Chandrika Troika Led Govt Commits “Legal Fascism”by Locking up and Interrogating Opposition Leaders and Officials’ »

Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram Acquitted by Karnataka High Court of all Charges in Corruption Case

By
Sruthisagar Yamunan & Krishnaprasad

In a major victory for AIADMK, a special bench of the Karnataka High Court on Monday set aside the trial court order convicting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in the disproportionate assets case.

Ms. J. Jayalalithaa

Ms. J. Jayalalithaa

Justice C.R Kumaraswamy, who read out the judgment at 11 a.m, said the appeals of all the four accused, including Ms. Jayalalithaa have been allowed and they were being acquitted of all charges.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram Acquitted by Karnataka High Court of all Charges in Corruption Case’ »

88 MP’s Including 3 Cabinet,3 State and 3 deputy Ministers Sign No Confidence Motion with 7 Charges Against Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.

By Saman Indrajith

Three cabinet ministers, three state ministers and three deputy ministers are among the 88 members who have signed a no confidence motion against Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.

They are Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena (Cabinet Minister of Parliamentary Affairs), Reginald Cooray (Cabinet Minister of Aviation Services), Piyasena Gamage (Cabinet Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training), Dilan Perera (State minister of Housing and Samurdhi), Jeevan Kumaratunga (State Minister of Labour), C.B.Ratnayake (State Minister of Public Administration and Democratic governance), Jagath Pushapakumara (Deputy Minister of Plantations), Lakshaman Seneviratne (Deputy Minister of Disaster Management) and Shantha Bandara (Deputy Minister of Mass Media).

The no confidence motion now included in the Parliamentary Order Book according to the Addendum to the Order Book No 14 released yesterday has seven charges against Governor Mahendran.

Continue reading ‘88 MP’s Including 3 Cabinet,3 State and 3 deputy Ministers Sign No Confidence Motion with 7 Charges Against Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.’ »

Maithripala Sirisena with “Simplicity,Humility and Absence of Vanity”is a Super Star Among Our Presidents

By Prof. Carlo Fonseka

In Nelson Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself, he says that the foundation of one’s spiritual life should be built on “honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity and readiness to serve others”. Odious and subjective though such comparisons are, humans necessarily make them in real life.

If I were asked to grade our presidents on the extent to which they exemplify the seven aforementioned attributes, I should be hard put to it to prevent President Maithripala Sirisena from coming out on top.

As to simplicity, humility and absence of vanity he is the super star among our presidents. I had the privilege of working under him when he was Minister of Health from 2010 until he defected from our group, the UPFA. I observed at first hand and greatly admired the sincerity with which he devoted himself to the cause of the health of the nation.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena with “Simplicity,Humility and Absence of Vanity”is a Super Star Among Our Presidents’ »

Elements of Dictatorial Rule in the Current Presidential Regime of Maithripala Sirisena

By

Janaki Chandraratna

Congratulations are in order to Prof. G. L. Peiris and a few UPFA Parliamentarians for being diligent in ensuring that the Govt. followed the due process and was compliant with the Supreme Court determination in passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Mr. Sirisena was voted in as the President as people needed to abolish or at a minimum curtail the excessive powers of the President. No one of right mind would have wanted the country to plunge into a dictatorship. People were not aware of the absolute powers of the President as the previous President on many instances kept to the parliamentary processes. The impeachment of the previous Chief Justice (CJ) and the appointment of the new CJ were done according to the parliamentary procedures.

Continue reading ‘Elements of Dictatorial Rule in the Current Presidential Regime of Maithripala Sirisena’ »

Return of Mahinda as Prime Minister is Bad News for Democracy,Sri Lanka and the SLFP


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The acolytes of Mahinda Rajapaksa say the ex-President’s opponents are preventing him from running as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), because he can win.

Mr. Rajapaksa also repeated those claims at a meeting in Ratgama, saying that the two term limit of the Presidency had been restored by the 19th Amendment in order to deprive him from running for another term.

These claims are too simplistic. Of course, millions of people who voted out Mr. Rajapaksa do not want to see him back in the office (Or running for it). However, it is not because he will win, but because they fear what he would do after winning (if ever).

Rajapaksa has a proven penchant to abuse power that was vested with him. Like many dozens of his predecessors in Asia and Africa, Rajapaksa preached democracy till he get elected, only to suppress those very democratic rights and dismantle very democratic institutions.

There is no guarantee that he would be different, if he ever gets another opportunity. To usher his absolute rule, he would begin with dismantling the very institutions that were recently empowered by the 19th Amendment. Incipient independent institutions would not survive a yet another onslaught by the Rajapaksas.

Simply put, Rajapaksa is bad news for democracy in the country. His conduct during the second term is testimonial to that.

Continue reading ‘Return of Mahinda as Prime Minister is Bad News for Democracy,Sri Lanka and the SLFP’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa can Be Prime Ministerial Candidate of Bodu Bala Sena Party and Fly Kites at Galle Face


By

Dr.Nimalka Fernando

No one trusts politicians in Sri Lanka anymore. In addition to a growing budget deficit there is also a growing ‘trust deficit’ between the “politician” and the “citizen” which extends and permeates into every level and relationship in society.

Victims of Human Rights violations consider politicians to be responsible for the violence and pain they have undergone and continue to experience daily.

Civil society in general considers politicians to be an unreliable corrupt bunch. More adjectives will be added by readers of this article by way of comments later.

The level of untrustworthiness that degenerated to a criminality was given a strong message by society as they voted on 8th January 2015. They gave a strong message to politicians during the Presidential Election.

From Basil to Johnny, today they are queueing up at the Financial Crimes Investigation Department giving us brief glimpses into the secret world of deals, bribes, cuts, commissions and recent history of governance in this country.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa can Be Prime Ministerial Candidate of Bodu Bala Sena Party and Fly Kites at Galle Face’ »

“Victory Day”Of Rajapaksa Regime Changed to “Armed Forces Day” Remembering “all those who died during wars in Sri Lanka”.

The Victory Day parade conducted by the previous Government to mark the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas will be held on a different note this time.

It is being designated as the “Armed Forces Day.”

Continue reading ‘“Victory Day”Of Rajapaksa Regime Changed to “Armed Forces Day” Remembering “all those who died during wars in Sri Lanka”.’ »

19th Constitutional Amendment is to Sri Lanka What Mother’s Day and Apple Pie is to the USA


by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

The point about the Nineteenth Amendment is that, though most have not read the Amendment Bill that was finally passed by Parliament – and, in the case of the general public, not even seen it – those who support its basic trajectory and even those who are disappointed with it, nevertheless agree that it is a good thing, being integral to and important for the governance Sri Lankans voted for on January 8, 2015.

In this respect it has the status of motherhood and apple pie in the US. No one can possibly oppose it without being seen as seriously ideologically impaired or downright perverse. This accounts for the thumping two-thirds majority by which the amendment was passed in the end despite the political theatre and apparent suspense that preceded it.

In broad terms all are agreed it is for the good. What we now have is what we could have, given the political constraints of the day requiring compromise. The devil, though, is in the detail. President Maithripala Sirisena has made the point that the amendment does not go far enough and the Prime Minister has promised that a new constitution will be mooted in the next Parliament. So it is and should be under the circumstances.

Wherein lies the significance of the 19th Amendment?

Continue reading ‘19th Constitutional Amendment is to Sri Lanka What Mother’s Day and Apple Pie is to the USA’ »

“Maharaja Gemunu”By Jayantha Chandrasiri is a Cinematic Poem with Great Lessons for Contemporary Sri Lanka

By Udaya Gammanpila

I cannot recall the event or the year. It was a tele-award ceremony. A television journalist posed a question to senior artiste Tissa Abeysekera. The question was “What will be the future of Sinhala cinema and teledrama industry?” He looked around without answering the question. He dragged Jayantha Chandrasiri who was in the vicinity towards him and replied “This is the future of cinema in Sri Lanka.” By then Jayantha had produced two revolutionary teledramas, namely, Veda Hamine and Dandubasnamanaya.

In this backdrop, I was badly in need of watching his cinematic poem, Maharaja Gemunu. There is no doubt that it would be a challenging task. King Gemunu is the greatest hero in Sri Lankan history. According to some historians, Mahavamsa has allocated space for King Gemunu out of proportion. Venerable Mahanama, the author of Mahavamsa had a good reason to allocate more space for King Gemunu. He is the first king to unify Sri Lanka. Further, he established the doctrine which justifies fighting for self defence and thereby fighting for the protection of Buddhism.

Continue reading ‘“Maharaja Gemunu”By Jayantha Chandrasiri is a Cinematic Poem with Great Lessons for Contemporary Sri Lanka’ »

Maithripala’s Life Should Revolve Around the UNP which Brought him to Power and not the SLFP or SLFP Dissidents

By

C.A.Chandraprema

Not since 1992/93 has this country been on a political roller coaster as it is today. We are experiencing game changing events virtually every week. The game changing event of the past week was the pro-Mahinda rally in Kurunegala last Friday. It was held soon after the breakdown in talks between the Sirisena and Rajapaksa factions of the SLFP. One of the main points discussed at this meeting was the prime ministerial candidacy of the UPFA. When the talks broke down, one would think that the Kurunegala rally held barely 48 hours later would be a flop with disappointed Mahinda loyalists abandoning him because president Sirisena had denied him the PM candidacy. Yet, the crowd in Kurunegala was even bigger than the crowd at the Nugegoda rally. As always the TV footage did not accurately portray the ground situation in Kurunegala. Even the drone footage has not captured the larger body of the crowd that was present.

Despite a party directive banning SLFP people’s representatives from attending this meeting, no less than 56 SLFP/UPFA parliamentarians were in attendance along with uncounted numbers of provincial councillors and local government representatives. (This is up from 26 parliamentarians at the Ratnapura meeting.) It was only a week earlier that this same group had held the second biggest May Day rally in Colombo. For them to be able to organise a large rally barely a week later clearly indicates a level of energy and motivation that no other political force in this country has at this moment. The UNP had a very successful May Day rally, but there was nothing before or since. In contrast to that, the Kurunegala rally was the fourth such rally that the pro-Mahinda faction has organised so far.

If the UNP had been able to put on shows of strength like the Nugegoda, Kandy and Ratnapura rallies of the Mahinda faction before the 19th Amendment was taken up for debate, they would have got what they wanted from the constitutional change instead of being browbeaten into compromising more and more until nothing was left of their original demands. What is most significant is that the Kurunegala rally was held in the midst of political repression unlike anything that this country has ever seen before.

Parliamentarian Johnston Fernando one of the most popular politicians in the Kurunegala district and key organiser of this event was put behind bars days before the meeting. About two dozen key attendees were hauled up before courts on the very day of the meeting and arrived for the rally only after obtaining bail. Johnston Fernando had sent a message to the meeting from remand prison and it was read out by his son amidst wild cheering.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala’s Life Should Revolve Around the UNP which Brought him to Power and not the SLFP or SLFP Dissidents’ »

New Nigerian Govt Protests Strongly Over Rajitha Senaratne Saying Arms Sold by Gota’s Avant Garde to Nigeria had Reached Boko Haram Terrorists

The role of spokespeople is to set out the official line of the bodies they represent so people not only in Sri Lanka but also the world over get things right. More so, with those speaking for the Government, it becomes essential.

Former Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella often did not get things right. This is why he was lampooned so much by cartoonists and became the butt end of media criticism. Some of the remarks he then made were not even near the truth.

Rambukwella’s successor, Minister Rajitha Senaratne, has not only outdone his predecessor as official spokesperson. He has also added one more dubious achievement, creating an international furore of sorts. In the process, other lesser known secrets have also come out.

Continue reading ‘New Nigerian Govt Protests Strongly Over Rajitha Senaratne Saying Arms Sold by Gota’s Avant Garde to Nigeria had Reached Boko Haram Terrorists’ »

When Mahinda Said “Ehenam kathakarala vedak nehe (if so there is no point in talking),”Maithripala replied “Ehenam yanna” (if so leave then)

Significant enough, this week, President Sirisena was preoccupied not only with security issues, but more importantly for a meeting with his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa. Days ahead of the event, it had raised eyebrows in many quarters. Soon after assuming the presidency, Sirisena accepted the leadership of the SLFP from Rajapaksa. He later told party organisers at a meeting at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) that he had been conferred the leadership and should therefore be allowed to run the party. He pledged that he would strengthen it. Why was he now turning to Mahinda Rajapaksa and his allies? Does he expect their support and cooperation to strengthen the SLFP?

The answers were not clear even to the United National Party (UNP). The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, leader of the Movement for Social Justice and Equality, told our sister paper Adha that during the presidential poll, Rajapaksa and his allies had branded Sirisena as a front of the Tamil Diaspora. Now, Rajapaksa wanted to become the Prime Minister of that front.

A three-member delegation from the UNP met President Sirisena to raise issue. It comprised Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Higher Education Minister Kabir Hashim and party Chairman Malik Samarawickrema. Sirisena, who is struggling to retain full control of his party, explained the circumstances.

Continue reading ‘When Mahinda Said “Ehenam kathakarala vedak nehe (if so there is no point in talking),”Maithripala replied “Ehenam yanna” (if so leave then)’ »

President Sirisena Permanently Disbands the Army Presidential Security Guard Unit Established by Mahinda to Provide Security for his Family


By Zahrah Imtiaz

The Army Presidential Security Guard (PSG) Unit established under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was disbanded permanently effective 30 April.

Military spokesperson, Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera told Ceylon Today that this particular security unit was totally disbanded because of administrative imperatives.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Permanently Disbands the Army Presidential Security Guard Unit Established by Mahinda to Provide Security for his Family’ »

Maithripala Sirisena Must Reveal Whether he is with the SLFP or the UNP or Neutral or Whether he is Quitting Politics?

by

Malinda Seneviratne

Sometime late last year Maithripala Sirisena effectively left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). As predicted, he was installed as the leader of the party he ‘left’ the moment he was elected President. He became the leader of a party whose entire membership almost campaigned against him. It certainly didn’t make for ideal leader-follower relations.

The confusion was exacerbated by the fact that not only did he appoint the leader of a party with a (relatively) paltry parliamentary presence as Prime Minister but a cabinet dominated by that party, the United National Party (UNP). Worse, he has since played a patently second-fiddle role to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in affairs of the state.

This naturally made for a jittery minority Government notwithstanding its much celebrated ‘national’ status with the induction of some SLFPers into the cabinet. It also created an ineffective Opposition Leader. Nimal Siripala Silva’s party leader is (still, even after the 19th Amendment) the most powerful citizen of the country and yet, it’s ‘the other guys’ who call the shots; this even though the Opposition Leader has greater sway in Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena Must Reveal Whether he is with the SLFP or the UNP or Neutral or Whether he is Quitting Politics?’ »

President Maithripala Sirisena Demonstrates that “he is the boss now”at meeting with Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

So soon after the successful adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution last week, which was a major political victory for President Maithripala Sirisena, despite many Opposition efforts to derail the process; it was interesting to see the SLFP leadership hold the cards at this week’s meeting between President Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The big media and PR push by the pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa group within the SLFP to show this as a major confrontation between the two rival factions within the SLFP, with emphasis on what is sought to be shown as the continuing popularity of the defeated president, clearly did not work out in favour of the Rajapaksa line in current politics at this meeting.

The major issue at the talks, which was of the SLFP’s prime ministerial candidate at the forthcoming general election, certainly did not go the way of the Hambantota strategists. Their aim was to have the endorsement of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the SLFP’s next prime ministerial candidate. President Sirisena was very clear in stating that the SLFP would not announce a prime ministerial candidate before the polls.

Continue reading ‘President Maithripala Sirisena Demonstrates that “he is the boss now”at meeting with Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

55 UPFA Parliamentarians Attend Mammoth “Bring Back Mahinda” Rally at Welagedara Stadioum in Kurunegala.

By Dasun Edirisinghe reporting from Kurunegala

Fifty five parliamentarians participated in the ‘Bring Back Mahinda’ rally at the Welagedara stadium in Kurunegala yesterday.

It was the fourth rally organised by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, National Freedom Front, Democratic Left Front and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya demanding former President Mahinda Rajapaksa be named as the UPFA’s Prime Ministerial candidate at the next general election.

Police had to close the Kurunegala – Dambulla road at the beginning of the rally due to the massive crowd.

Continue reading ‘55 UPFA Parliamentarians Attend Mammoth “Bring Back Mahinda” Rally at Welagedara Stadioum in Kurunegala.’ »

Does the 19th Constitutional Amendment Meaningfully Benefit the People?

By

Rasika Jayakody

Those who make history have a place in it by right.

Many dubbed the 19th Amendment as a historic step in the process of democratization and ensuring good government. When the country’s legislature passed the constitutional amendment with an overwhelming majority of 2012 votes, the media said, “Parliament created history.”

One might say that the ‘history’ would pay tribute to every Member of Parliament who voted in favour of the Amendment and became ‘stakeholders’ of this exercise. But, there were some people who played ‘behind-the-scene’ roles without exposing themselves to the public spotlight or media fanfare.

Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne was one of them.

Wickramaratne was the “craftsman” of the much talked about 19th Amendment to the constitution as he, along with two other prominent lawyers, worked laboriously to draft the constitutional amendment before its passage in Parliament. Extensive discussions were taking place between the government and the opposition before the vote on the 19th Amendment and Wickramaratne too had to sit with them to share his knowledge and opinion. After a tough and exhausting battle, the amendment was passed in Parliament with some last minute changes.

Continue reading ‘Does the 19th Constitutional Amendment Meaningfully Benefit the People?’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa to Seek Legal Advice Regarding Allegedly Slanderous Statements made by Mangala Samaraweera Against Rajapaksa Family.

Denying accusations that he had stashed away funds amounting to USD 18 billion, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that legal advice would be sought as regards the defamatory statement attributed to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Minister Samaraweera on Thursday claimed that the new government had been working closely with four countries to trace funds stashed overseas. The minister declined to name the countries or foreign agencies involved in the operation.

The following is the full text of the statement titled ‘USD 18 billion belonging to the Rajapaksa family’ issued by the former President:

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa to Seek Legal Advice Regarding Allegedly Slanderous Statements made by Mangala Samaraweera Against Rajapaksa Family.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa in message to Rally Says Support of the People for him is as Solid as the Elephant Rock in Kurunegala.

By Dasun Edirisinghe reporting from Kurunegala

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said, in a statement, that he would be back on the SLFP led UPFA stage soon and the date would be decided by the people.

In his message read out at a mammoth rally at the Welagedara grounds, Kurunegala Rajapaksa apologised to the people there for not attending the rally in the Kurunegala District in which he got 555,086 votes at the January’s presidential election.

The former President’s message was read by former Minister and SLFP Vice President Dullas Alahapperuma at the rally organised jointly by the Mahajana Eksath the National Freedom Front, the Democratic Left Front and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya demanding the naming of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate for the next general election.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa in message to Rally Says Support of the People for him is as Solid as the Elephant Rock in Kurunegala.’ »

Ranil Jayawardena of Sri Lanka Origin Elected to UK Parliament from North East Hampshire Constituency with 35,573 Votes

Ranil Jayawardena(29)of Sri Lanka Origin was elected to UK Parliament from the North East Hampshire Constituency at the 2015 UK Elections.

Ranil Jayawardena

Ranil Jayawardena

Jayawardena polled nearly two thirds of the valid votes in the constituency. He received 35,573 votes, which is 65.9 percent of the total valid votes.

His closest rival, Graham Cockarill of the Liberal Democratic Party received only 5657 votes.

North East Hampshire is considered an ultra-safe conservative seat.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Jayawardena of Sri Lanka Origin Elected to UK Parliament from North East Hampshire Constituency with 35,573 Votes’ »

How JR Jayewardene Ushered in the Executive Presidency in 1978

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The successful passage of the 19th Constitutional amendment in Parliament with an overwhelming majority has resulted in the Executive Presidency ushered in by the 1978 Constitution losing some if not all of its powers. This in turn has focused the spotlight on the first Executive President of Sri Lanka –Junius Richard Jayewardene known generally as JR.

courtesy: dailynews.lk

courtesy: dailynews.lk

As is well known it was JR who masterminded the change of Sri Lanka’s political system from the British Westminster model to that of one closely resembling the French Gaullist Constitution. Power shifted to the President who transformed from a figurehead to an effective head of state. The post of Prime minister got devalued.

The Presidential system brought in by JR Jayewardene has a long history. When JR was minister of state in the UNP government of Dudley Senanayake (1965-70) he made a path – breaking speech at the Association for the Advancement of Science. JR Jayewardene in his keynote address of Dec 14th 1966 outlined his visions of a Presidency then. He argued in favour of a Presidential system based on the USA and French models.
Continue reading ‘How JR Jayewardene Ushered in the Executive Presidency in 1978’ »

“When Mahinda Threatened to Walk out During Talks with Maithripala, the President told the Ex-President to do so if he Wanted

By

P.K.Balachandran

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who met here on Wednesday to iron out differences between them, are unlikely to meet again because the differences are too wide to be bridged, an informed source in the Sirisena camp told Express.

“At one point, when Rajapaksa threatened to walk out of the talks, Sirisena said he could walk out if he wanted to”, the source said.

“Sirisena’s going for the talks has created a very bad impression about him.Further talks will not take place,” the source said.

Continue reading ‘“When Mahinda Threatened to Walk out During Talks with Maithripala, the President told the Ex-President to do so if he Wanted’ »

President Sirisena May Pay a Heavy Price if he Makes Mahinda Rajapaksa his Prime Ministerial Candidate.

By

Dr. Kalana Senaratne

As the 100-day programme was coming to an end, President Maithripala Sirisena confronted a significant challenge. It was about showing the people that he still was the executive president. A significant part of this challenge was about getting his pet project, the proposed 19th Amendment which sought to reduce his powers, passed in Parliament. In short, President Sirisena had to appear to be in control of affairs. For a change.

In control

It was going to be a daunting task. President Sirisena was giving the impression that he was weak, unsuited for the job, unable to control his own, vagrant party (SLFP). Neither the ‘national government’, nor the ‘yahapaalanaya’ slogan/rhetoric – idealistic and immensely problematic – helped him. The seeming leadership vacuum that arose was rekindling the nostalgia for the defeated leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa. After all, the Rajapaksa-brand of authoritarianism, President Sirisena was forgetting, wasn’t just an imposition but also a mode of governance desired by a certain segment of the population.

Apart from some suave political maneuvering, President Sirisena was now left with one option; that of addressing the people. For the more he spoke – especially about his desire to renounce power – the more convincingly he was able to expose the uncouth and regressive character of his disgruntled opponents.

This, which he finally did, helped him partially to neutralize the threat posed by the Mahinda-group of the UPFA of a possible sabotage of the 19th Amendment. Back-door negotiations, significant concessions/compromises and most probably the cunning capitulation of the Mahinda-group, finally assured the adoption of the 19th Amendment with an overwhelming, even unexpected, majority.

Finally, President Sirisena took control of the situation and his party. That need for a decisive and strong leadership was momentarily fulfilled, now through the image of a leader willing to sacrifice power.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena May Pay a Heavy Price if he Makes Mahinda Rajapaksa his Prime Ministerial Candidate.’ »

Four Countries to help Trace 18 Billion Dollars of “Black Money” Allegedly Stashed Overseas by Rajapaksa Family

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the media yesterday at Sirikotha that the governmnet had been working closely with four foreign governments to trace ill-gotten funds amounting USD 18 billion stashed away overseas by the Rajapaksas.

Responding to a query, the Foreign Minister said funds amounting to USD 2 billion allegedly stashed away in Dubai had been found and the investigations were continuing.

The government has claimed that the US, India, the World Bank, the UN etc. are helping it track ill-gotten wealth stashed away by the members of the previous regime.

Asked whether he could name the countries involved in the operation, Minister Samaraweera said that investigations were continuing and they could not be named.

Continue reading ‘Four Countries to help Trace 18 Billion Dollars of “Black Money” Allegedly Stashed Overseas by Rajapaksa Family’ »

President Sirisena Tells Ex-President Rajapaksa that Financial Crimes Investigation Division Probing Corruption will not be Dissolved

by Zacki Jabbar

Amidst accusations that the Rajapaksas when in power had siphoned off over USD 18 billion in state funds, President Maithripala Sirisena has informed Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa that corruption investigations launched by the Financial Crimes Investigation Divison (FCID) would continue.

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told a news conference in Colombo that Rajapaksa during his meeting with Srisena on Wednesday, had raised concerns about the manner in which the FCID was functioning.

While welcoming suggestions to improve the working of the FCID, the President emphasized that its establishment was an election pledge and the body would not be dissolved, Senaratne revealed.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Tells Ex-President Rajapaksa that Financial Crimes Investigation Division Probing Corruption will not be Dissolved’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Promises to set up Credible Domestic Investigative Mechanism before September Sessions of UNHRC

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday blamed the previous government for not having a credible investigative mechanism to disprove unsubstantiated allegation that 40,000 civilian had been killed during the last phase of offensive action on the Vanni east front.

Minister Samaraweera was responding to a query by The Island whether the new government would make an effort to establish the truth in the wake of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe strongly disputing much touted figure of 40,000 civilian deaths.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe recently told H.A. Hariharan of Tamil Nadu’s famous Thanthi TV that accusations had to be verified because of discrepancy in estimates made by various parties. The Foreign Minister endorsed the Prime Minister’s stand.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Promises to set up Credible Domestic Investigative Mechanism before September Sessions of UNHRC’ »

Governor Arjuna Mahendran Set the Stage For Central Bank Bond Scam and Engaged in Cover up of Fraud

by

Bandula Gunawardena M.P.

The Opposition is giving the highest priority to dealing with several aspects of what is undoubtedly the most colossal fraud and cover-up ever perpetrated on our people. We consider it our public duty to take every possible measure to mitigate the continuing and increasing loss to the nation.

To recall the history of this matter, several Cabinet Ministers, according to their public statements, expressed strong opposition to the proposal by the Prime Minister for the appointment of Mr. Arujuna Mahendran, to the post of Governor of the Central Bank. Despite these objections, the Prime Minister insisted on the appointment for which he took personal responsibility. When the scandal broke out into the public domain within the first 50 days of the new administration, the Prime Minister appointed a three member panel of lawyers to investigate the matter. This had the effect of pre-empting a thorough, competent and impartial investigation which His Excellency the President had proposed. We are now told that the Prime Minister’s panel concluded that Mr. Mahendran is not “directly” responsible for the loss. On the basis of this purported finding, Mr. Mahendran is now back at work after temporary absence of leave.

Just as disturbing as the extent of the fraud, and its ramifications, is the sophisticated cover-up that was attempted. The evidence available indicates dishonesty of unimaginable proportions extending beyond the Central Bank to other public institutions, and warranting rapid and effective intervention by Parliament in the public interest.

Continue reading ‘Governor Arjuna Mahendran Set the Stage For Central Bank Bond Scam and Engaged in Cover up of Fraud’ »

President Sirisena Tells Mahinda Rajapaksa that he will not be Nominated as Prime Ministerial Candidate of the SLFP Before Next Elections.

by

Rasika Jayakody

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in no uncertain terms that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would not nominate a Prime Ministerial candidate before the next Parliamentary election.

At the discussion held between the two warring factions within the SLFP, President Sirisena explained the “disadvantages” of naming a Prime Ministerial candidate before the election.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Tells Mahinda Rajapaksa that he will not be Nominated as Prime Ministerial Candidate of the SLFP Before Next Elections.’ »

Five Issues Discussed Without any Decisions at First Round of Talks Between President Maithripala Sirisena and Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Dasun Edirisinghe

A crucial discussion between former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and incumbent Mathripala Sirisena yesterday on five issues including fielding former as the SLFP Prime Ministerial candidate at the forthcoming general election ended with both sides agreeing to refer them to the SLFP Central Committee for approval.

The discussion held at the President’s office in the Parliamentary Complex with the participation of several SLFP MPs assisting both parties had taken up the issue of dissolving local government bodies prior to the general election, contesting the next general election under the UPFA banner, nomination of candidates at the general election and putting an immediate end to political interference with investigations conducted by the police Financial Crimes Investigation Division, SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said.

Former President’s team has requested the President not to dissolve local government bodies.

Continue reading ‘Five Issues Discussed Without any Decisions at First Round of Talks Between President Maithripala Sirisena and Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Indian Actor Salman Khan Given Five Years Imprisonment for Drunken driving and Killing one and Injuring Four Persons 13 Years ago

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

NEW DELHI, May 6: A court in Mumbai on Wednesday sentenced Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to five years in prison for drunken driving and killing a man in a hit-and-run accident 13 years ago. Four other men sleeping on the pavement that fateful night were also injured.

pic: facebook.com/BeingSalmanKhan

pic: facebook.com/BeingSalmanKhan

The actor’s lawyers successfully persuaded the Bombay High Court to grant him interim bail till May 8, when it will hear his appeal.

The sentencing drove down shares of firms connected to the actor and, if upheld, will derail several major film projects in the pipeline of the world’s most prolific movie industry. An estimated sum of over two billion Indian rupees has been invested in seven films, in which he is starring as hero.

The Mumbai court convicted Khan, 49, of culpable homicide on charges that he lost control of his Toyota Landcruiser when driving under the influence of alcohol in 2002, and rammed into a group of people sleeping on a pavement.
Continue reading ‘Indian Actor Salman Khan Given Five Years Imprisonment for Drunken driving and Killing one and Injuring Four Persons 13 Years ago’ »

Same Group Denying Tamils the Right to sing National Anthem in Tamil are Removing Stripes Denoting Minorities from our National Flag.

by

Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva.

We are indeed going through very disturbing times. To witness the day to day happenings in the country is to watch how we as a nation are committing hara-kiri.

Two weeks ago some politicians were shouting themselves hoarse against the Tamils singing the National Anthem in their mother tongue. They said it was another manifestation of their thrust for an eelam! Isn’t it better for them to sing understanding the meaning, provided it is a direct translation with no additions or omissions.

The amendments to the constitution could be made if necessary. I am a Buddhist who believes that it is more meaningful to chant Gathas in Sinhala rather than in Pali which most Buddhists do not understand.

We now find the same group of politicians demonstrating a distorted national flag without the stripes representing the minorities. This act promotes the eelam ideal in a very big way. For a very senior politician, a mouthpiece of the group, to apologise for the grave error is not good enough.

Every one should have realized the gravity on first seeing the flag. An inquiry should be held as to who was behind it and which organisation produced the flag in such numbers. They all should be indicted for acting against our constitution.

Continue reading ‘Same Group Denying Tamils the Right to sing National Anthem in Tamil are Removing Stripes Denoting Minorities from our National Flag.’ »

If there is a US Backed International War Crimes Investigation Sri Lanka will have new Govt with Wimal Weerawansa as Prime Minister

By
Ranga Jayasuriya

Now that Secretary of State John Kerry having visited Sri Lanka, the new government says it has brought the country back to the ‘center stage’ of the international community. That may sound a bit slavish statement to make, at least, in the eyes of the antiquated leftists (like Vasudeva) and hoi polloi ultra-nationalists (like Wimal Weerawansa). But it has a grain of truth.

The dominant powers in the international system wield a special ability to grant recognition to (or to deny that from) other nations, just like Nixon elevated China to a major player in the international system with Sino-US rapprochement in 1972. (Much of the present day success of China dates back to that decision, without that neither economic opening of China, FDIs and technological transfers, nor international standing commensurate to its size were possible.)

So the visit by Mr. Kerry is a seal of approval of the new administration, its democratic reforms, its efforts to build independent institutions, combat hate speech and usher reconciliation. He also said our ‘civil peace needs to be nurtured’, which we know all too well. We also know that very task may not be possible if Rajapaksa sneaks to power through some dubious maneuvering.

Therefore, it is interesting when Mr. Kerry said: “We’re also ready to help with asset recovery and the enforcement of anti-corruption rules. Our investigators are prepared to work with your investigators. Our prosecutors are prepared to work with your prosecutors and we commit that any stolen assets in the United States will be returned to their rightful owners.”

Since it is the Rajapaksas and their coterie who have been under investigation for siphoning billions of rupees, Kerry is basically saying that the US would help the new administration to trace ex-president’s money trail. That is a refreshing assurance since the US provided sanctuary to Philippine’s ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, one of the Rajapaksa ilk, until his death. Perhaps, Basil Rajapaksa returned from Los Angeles to get arrested in Colombo, because he read those signs.

Continue reading ‘If there is a US Backed International War Crimes Investigation Sri Lanka will have new Govt with Wimal Weerawansa as Prime Minister’ »

Did John Kerry Advise Colombo to Have elections Before September to Stall Presentation of UN Probe Report in that Month?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

United States Secretary of State John Kerry delivering an address at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute during his brief visit to Colombo last Saturday revealed that the Sri Lankan Government would conduct a general election during summer. Kerry’s cat jumped out of the bag during that address. America calls for an early general election to save Sri Lanka at the September UNHRC session. When the war crimes report was to be tabled at the last sessions of the UNHRC, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera persuaded Kerry to postpone it.

That was put off on the pledge that Sri Lanka will work out a domestic mechanism to initiate a domestic investigation and present a report in September to the UNHRC. So far the Maithri Government had not drawn up such mechanism to conduct a domestic probe. Hence, the possibility of tabling the UNHRC report against Sri Lanka in September cannot be ruled out. Such indications had been made by former Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solhiem too.

Following is the content on Solhiem’s twitter; “UN High Commissioner Zeid bin Ra’ad assures me that he will release the Sri Lanka report in September which contains surprises”.

Continue reading ‘Did John Kerry Advise Colombo to Have elections Before September to Stall Presentation of UN Probe Report in that Month?’ »

Both Factions of SLFP Under Maithripala and Mahinda Want Elections After UN Probe report is Released in September


By

Rasika Jayakody

On May 01, 1977, the late J.R. Jayawardene led the biggest May Day rally in the history of the United National Party.

JR’s mammoth May Day rally, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of party supporters, was a prelude to the General election which secured an overwhelming Parliamentary majority for the United National Party.

The UNP May Day rally in 1977 took place amidst a heated political situation. The United Front government, led by the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was on a desperate mission to postpone the General Election by two years.

SLFP stalwarts such as T.B. Ilangaratne, D.M. Jayaratne and H.M. Nawaratne argued that Bandaranaike should be the head of state until 1979 as she was the head of the Non-aligned movement for three years starting from 1976. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, which was a key stakeholder of the United Front government, had walked out of the ruling coalition in protest of the conduct of the Prime Minister and the popularity of the government was plummeting.

The government was facing the threat of a no-confidence motion in the House and the Parliament had been prorogued until May 19, 1977. At the same time, the opposition was strongly pressing the government to announce a Parliamentary election without consuming more time. Both J.R. Jayawardene and Dr. N.M. Perera had declared war on Prime Minister Bandaranaike stating she was attempting to circumvent the election in 1977.

The May Day rally was the ideal opportunity for J.R. Jayawardene to demonstrate the strength of his party. It was his fourth year as the leader of the UNP and the party had shown remarkable progress under his watch. Since 1973, the party had won almost all the by-elections- except Mulkirigala – and the ground level machinery of the party was in full swing.

Jayawardene increased the membership of the party in an unimaginable way and his aim was to have 1.2 million UNP members across the country before the General Election. The party had a formidable and highly effective second tier leadership which included the likes of the late Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Jayawardene’s giant rally sent shock waves across the political circles of the country. Addressing the rally, the party leader, who is widely considered as the most astute politician in the country’s political history, unveiled the theme of the party’s election campaign which ran as “Nivahal Dharmishta Samaajayak.” As a result, Prime Minister Bandaranaike was compelled to dissolve Parliament 18 days after the May Day rally.

The UNP May Day rally on Friday was second only to the one in 1977. This May Day rally was also held under similar circumstances as the elections were around the corner and the party’s intention was to demonstrate its strength before the Parliamentary election. Electorate organizers across the country were expected to deliver the ‘numbers’ for the rally.

All the roads leading to the Campbell Park in Borella were flooded with UNP supporters wearing green caps and T-shirts. It showed that the party machinery was in full swing after the Presidential election which ensured victory for the candidate backed by the party. Most of the UNP supporters in the rally carried pictures of President Sirisena alongside those of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It symbolized the spirit of the national unity government which came into being following the January 08 polls.

Continue reading ‘Both Factions of SLFP Under Maithripala and Mahinda Want Elections After UN Probe report is Released in September’ »

John Kerry Relates the Tale of A Tamil Hindu Woman – Karthika – as an Inspirational Story

(REMARKS made by US Secretary of State John Kerry “On Strengthening the U.S.–Sri Lanka Partnership for Human Rights and Lasting Peace” at Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka on May 2nd 2015)

Secretary Kerry Delivers Speech on U.S.-Sri Lankan Relations in Colombo-pic: US State Dept.

Secretary Kerry Delivers Speech on U.S.-Sri Lankan Relations in Colombo-pic: US State Dept.

SECRETARY KERRY: Mangala, thank you very, very much. Thank you for a wonderful introduction, notwithstanding that you reminded me that I disappointed you in 2004. (Laughter.) I disappointed myself and a few other people.

I am really happy to be here (inaudible) and I’m very happy to welcome all of you here. No, you are welcoming me – it’s a mutual welcome, admiration, effort. And I can’t thank Mangala and Sri Lanka enough for the very generous welcome that you gave me this morning when I first came here. I came over to that historic building that is now the foreign ministry. Thank you for that, my friend.

Two Women in Traditional Kandyan Dress Laugh While Waiting as Secretary Kerry Meets With Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Samaraweera-pic: US State Dept.

Two Women in Traditional Kandyan Dress Laugh While Waiting as Secretary Kerry Meets With Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Samaraweera-pic: US State Dept.

Women in Traditional Kandyan Dress Wait as Secretary Kerry Meets With Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Samaraweera-pic: State Dept

Women in Traditional Kandyan Dress Wait as Secretary Kerry Meets With Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Samaraweera-pic: State Dept

I also want to thank you for your remarkable efforts – yours and the president’s and prime minister’s – on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka. And I thank you for something else. A week ago I was in northern Canada, just below the Arctic Circle, not far from the Arctic Ocean, where I was assuming the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. And I want you to know it is a welcome change to enjoy the warm weather here. (Laughter.) I didn’t see a lot of igloos around, happily.
Continue reading ‘John Kerry Relates the Tale of A Tamil Hindu Woman – Karthika – as an Inspirational Story’ »

“Uttama Villain” is worth Watching Due to Kamal Haasan’s Brilliant Acting and Ghibran’s Stunning Music.

By
S.Saraswathi

There is nothing like nearing the end of your life and knowing that death is coming, to bring you crashing down to earth. It helps put everything in perspective.

Kamal Haasan’s much-awaited Uttama Villain attempts to bring home this truth.

Manoranjan (Kamal Haasan) is a huge film star totally drunk on his success.

pic : facebook.com/OfficialUttamaVillain

pic : facebook.com/OfficialUttamaVillain

pic: facebook.com/OfficialUttamaVillain

pic: facebook.com/OfficialUttamaVillain

He has everything — a spectacular career, a happy married life, a beautiful lover and a rich father-in-law to produce his every film.

He is at the height of his popularity when his life is shattered by two startling revelations.
Continue reading ‘“Uttama Villain” is worth Watching Due to Kamal Haasan’s Brilliant Acting and Ghibran’s Stunning Music.’ »

Backlash in Nepal Against Indian Media Personnel Over their Conduct and Coverage of Earthquake Disaster.

by

Jayant Sriram

The first signs of a backlash in Nepal against the Indian media, manifested in the furiously trending hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia, were evident from early last week.

As Kathmandu city began to return to normal and internet connections were restored, several locals began talking about a video that was up on YouTube about the first Indian Army chopper landing at the epicentre of the earthquake — at Barpak in Gorkha district. “The camera first shows images from inside the helicopter of the landing and it shows how people are running toward the helicopter. Then it pans around inside the chopper and all I could see was two journalists sitting inside,” exclaimed Sanjay Thapa, a doctor in Kathmandu.

“I was thinking, if you were able to go to that place then the least you should have done is take doctors and take food and medical supplies,” he adds.

Continue reading ‘Backlash in Nepal Against Indian Media Personnel Over their Conduct and Coverage of Earthquake Disaster.’ »

Sri Lankan Visit by John Kerry shows President Sirisena has “many new friends” in Washington.

by

Taylor Dibbert

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Sri Lanka. He was accompanied by Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

pic: facebook.com/maithripalas

pic: facebook.com/maithripalas

Kerry and company were welcomed with open arms by the Sirisena administration and this high-level visit is the latest (and most prominent) reminder that Sri Lanka’s recent political shakeup is a genuine game changer for the Obama administration.

It was a brief stay and one could argue that Kerry may have been too hard-pressed for time to travel to the Tamil-dominated north. However, the optics of this trip may disappoint many ethnic Tamils and Muslims. (He did find time to visit a Buddhist temple just outside of Colombo.)
Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Visit by John Kerry shows President Sirisena has “many new friends” in Washington.’ »

Israel Emulates Sri Lanka in Trying to Re-visit International Law in a Bid to Whitewsh War Crimes

By

Ben White

In 2011, and in response to accusations of war crimes during the final months of conflict with the Tamil Tigers two years previously, the Sri Lankan government convened a conference where then-Minister of External Affairs G. L. Peiris declared that “the entire body of international law must be revisited.” Human Rights Watch called the event “a public relations exercise to whitewash abuses.”

This week, a new conference will take place in Israel on a familiar-sounding theme: “Towards a New Law of War.” According to conference organisers Shurat HaDin, the goal of the event “is to influence the direction of legal discourse concerning issues critical to Israel and her ability to defend herself.”
A new conference targets the laws of war

Shurat HaDin is an organisation that uses courts around the world “to go on the legal offensive against Israel’s enemies.” The group has conducted work at the request of the Israeli government, and received intelligence from Mossad. Its track record includes an unsuccessful lawsuit against Jimmy Carter, failed legal action against a pro-BDS Australian academic, and threats to Oxfam.

The conference is based on the idea that in an “age of terrorism”, the laws of war “must evolve” to meet “new challenges.” Attendees will “exchange ideas regarding the development of armed conflict legal doctrine favourable to Western democracies engaged in conflict against non-traditional, non-democratic, non-state actors.”

Continue reading ‘Israel Emulates Sri Lanka in Trying to Re-visit International Law in a Bid to Whitewsh War Crimes’ »

Southern Nightingale S. Janaki and the Story of Her Popular ♫Singaara Velanae Deva♫ Song

By

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki popularly known as S. Janaki celebrated her 77th birthday on April 23rd. The well known Indian singer of film songs who is praised as the “nightingale of the South” was born on April 23rd 1938 during the British colonial period at Pallapatla in Repalle. The Repalle town is located in the Guntur district of present day Aandhra Pradesh state.

KSSJ042314

Janaki hails from a Telugu Brahmin family. Her father Sishtla Sreeramamurthy was a teacher and native physician. In a splendid career spanning over fifty years Janaki has sung over 20,000 songs for films made in 16 different languages.

The Languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malyalam, Tulu, Konkani, Baduga, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Sanskrit, Urdu, English, Japanese, German and Sinhala.
Continue reading ‘Southern Nightingale S. Janaki and the Story of Her Popular ♫Singaara Velanae Deva♫ Song’ »

President Sirisena Tables Cabinet Memorandum for 20th Constitutional Amendment Proposing a Mixed Electoral System of FPP and PR.

With matters relating to 19A over, at Wednesday’s ministerial meeting, President Sirisena said he was tabling a Cabinet Memorandum titled “Proposed Constitutional Amendment for Electoral Reforms through the introduction of a mixed Electoral system consisting of first past-the-post system and the proportional representation system.”

He told his ministers that it was only a basis for discussion and was in no way a final document. Minister Rajitha Senaratna said that someone should be asked to make a visual presentation of the suggestions contained in Sirisena’s memorandum. Here is the full text of Sirisena’s Cabinet Memorandum dated April 29:

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Tables Cabinet Memorandum for 20th Constitutional Amendment Proposing a Mixed Electoral System of FPP and PR.’ »

Sri Lanka’s first Open Air National Zoological Gardens at Pinnawela – A Dream Come True.

By Risidra Mendis

The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Kegalle had for many years been an often visited place for both locals and foreigners alike to watch elephants, as they walk one behind the other heading to the river to bathe. The latest attraction for the people of Kegalle and the adjoining areas was the much awaited first Open Air National Zoological Gardens at Pinnawela, which was declared open by Tourism and Sports Minister, Navin Dissanayake on 17 April 2015 amidst a large gathering.

Pinnawala_01

The Pinnawela National Zoological Gardens is situated close to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. It is located on 42 acres of land and is a beautifully landscaped Zoo with lush greenery and colourful flowers and is expected to attract a large number of visitors in the coming days.

The Open Air Zoo cost Rs 862 million to build. Rs 488 million was given by the Treasury and the rest was from the Zoological Development Fund.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s first Open Air National Zoological Gardens at Pinnawela – A Dream Come True.’ »

Physical Attack on Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudi Kusum Kumara at Pro-Mahinda May day Rally in Kirillapone Condemned by Free Media Movement.

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka )

The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the physical attack unleashed on Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudu Kusum Kumara at the May Day rally organised by the pro- Rajapaksa political parties and groups at the Kirullapona Lalith Athulathmudali ground, Colombo.

The National Freedom Front (NDF) led by Wimal Weerawansa, a member of the Parliament played a leading role in this pro-Rajapaksa rally. Dr.Devasiri is former FUTA President and current media spokes person of the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) and Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, also a prominent public intellectual.

FMM would like to reiterate that those violent politicians and their henchmen who cannot stop the habit of hunting the dissenters should be brought to book.

Continue reading ‘Physical Attack on Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudi Kusum Kumara at Pro-Mahinda May day Rally in Kirillapone Condemned by Free Media Movement.’ »

Satyajit Ray’s Genius lay in Portraying Subtleties and Daily Truths as Art.

by

Maitreyee B Chowdhury

Maitreyee B Chowdhury

Maitreyee B Chowdhury

(India’s greatest filmmaker Satyajit Ray was born on May 2nd 1921. This article appearing in “Swarajya” is posted here today to denote Ray’s 94th Birth anniversary. The writer Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a poet and writer based in Bangalore)

It was by complete coincidence that I was in Kolkata in the first week of May in the year 2014. It’s a week that sees cine lovers from all parts of Bengal and world over coming together to celebrate the birthday of Satyajit Ray on the second of May. My book on Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen had completed a year and over bhader cha (tea in an earthen saucer) and samosas, a few movie buffs among friends had gathered one evening to discuss the restoration and preservation of films from the 1950s and 60s.

 June 1967 file photo of Satyajit Ray, a film-maker from India. (AP Photo)

June 1967 file photo of Satyajit Ray, a film-maker from India. (AP Photo)

The centre of attraction, however, was a hand drawn poster of Satyajit Ray’s film Sonar Kella that had been recently acquired by a collector friend who was with us that evening. With much fanfare, the poster was rolled out on the floor so that we could see the rather life-like sketch of the scorpion stare back at us. I ran my hands over the texture of the paint on the brilliantly done black and blue backdrop with yellow and white fonts that announced grandly in Bangla: ‘Satyajit Rayer sanghatik chhobi — Sonar Kella’ (a terrific film by Satyajit Ray — Sonar Kella). Unknown to my friends, I was searching for the master’s inner eye in the poster.
Continue reading ‘Satyajit Ray’s Genius lay in Portraying Subtleties and Daily Truths as Art.’ »

POST 19 th AMENDMENT POLITICAL SCENARIO: PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS AND AFTER

BY DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

There was a struggle against the model of 19A first presented by Ranil Wickremesinghe, but there was no struggle against 19A as such—by which I mean the idea that the executive presidency required downward readjustment. The UNP-CBK-TNA-JVP Quartet had envisaged decapitation of the Executive presidency while the masses, the SLFP-UPFA and JHU envisaged trimming; downward revision. Thus, there was no struggle against 19A; there was a struggle over 19A; its scale and scope.

The struggle against Ranil-CBK’s 19A model was waged in several stages by several forces:

· The civil society petitioners and lawyers who moved the Supreme Court and thereby succeeded in neutralizing the worst of the original draft;

· Champika Ranawaka and Rajiva Wijesinha who fought the battle against Ranil’s subterfuge and kept the reform on the right track;

· The UPFA whose fight-back forestalled an SLFP sellout and pulled the SLFP from CBK’s para-UNP stance onto the traditional anti-Ranil, anti-UNP track.

The UPFA’s game-plan was never to wreck the 19th amendment, because its own members had been decades-long opponents of the Jayewardene presidency and also because it harbors hopes of a Rajapaksa return as Prime Minister. Thus, wrecking 19A was sharply contrary to both its ideological sentiments as well as its project. However, the UPFA was determined to prevent a CBK-driven SLFP surrender to Ranil’s model of 19A and his surreptitious maneuvers to bring it to fruition. The SLFP-UPFA’s decades-long opposition to Ranil’s rightwing UNP brand was reactivated by his own arrogant political behavior and discourse, in the parliamentary chamber and backstage, during the entire 19A process.

Continue reading ‘POST 19 th AMENDMENT POLITICAL SCENARIO: PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS AND AFTER’ »

Decision by President and Premier to Achieve consensus with SLFP was Political Masterstroke


By

Dharisha Bastians

In the heady days before a presidential election was declared on 22 November 2014, a UNP delegation comprising key party strategists held a secret meeting with the man who was being proposed for common candidate of a grand opposition coalition gearing up for battle against the mighty Rajapaksa regime.

The civil society movement mobilising support for the common candidacy had vetted several options and landed on a most surprising choice. SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena was a quiet politician, hailing from a remote village in Sri Lanka’s ancient capital of Polonnaruwa. In a political career spanning 40 years, he never made big waves. For this reason perhaps, his image had remained intact.

He was an unassuming candidate, without the ambition and power-hunger that had tainted all other potentials in the ring. Once the choice was made, it was up to the UNP to conduct its own assessment of whether it could throw its weight behind his candidature. Without the UNP, there was no electoral base and no common candidacy. The party was grappling with how it could get behind a true-blue politician, and they needed a good enough reason to do it.

It was the UNP’s first meeting with Sirisena. In his quiet, steely way, the man who would be President of Sri Lanka in under 60 days told the UNP group that when he made the decision to contest the presidency, he had realised it could mean death. “I am willing to lose my life, if that is what it is going to mean. If we win the election, I will not give up even if they try to kill me,” Sirisena told the UNP delegation.

Five months ago, Sri Lanka was a different place. It was far from exaggerated to believe that contesting against the incumbent could mean death or imprisonment. Sarath Fonseka, the last challenger had been made an example of, and it was a lesson no politician would forget in five years.

2015 was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s do-or-die election. The question of whether he would surrender power if he was defeated was foremost on the minds of opposition strategists. With the might of the armed forces and the entire public service at his command, if President Rajapaksa had decided not to go, the Opposition was convinced there would be blood on the streets on 9 January.

Maithripala Sirisena knew he was putting his life on the line with his candidature. His decision to contest in spite of what could prove dangerous consequences, convinced UNP strategists that he was serious about challenging an all powerful-incumbent.

“When he said that, that was the moment when we knew we could get behind him, because truth be told, that was our greatest fear about this election. We knew we could win it, but we didn’t know if Mahinda would go, any candidate we fielded would have to know the risks involved,” said one member of the delegation who sat in on the secret talks that day.

So when President Sirisena told the people in his address to the nation last Thursday that his decision to contest the presidency was like deciding to jump into the sea with his children, he was not being hyperbolic.

Continue reading ‘Decision by President and Premier to Achieve consensus with SLFP was Political Masterstroke’ »

Political Environment with Freedom Established in Sri Lanka to Celebrate International Workers Day

By

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Today, we celebrate International Workers’ Day. The day of the courageous people who ensure the existence of the world through their labour.

A political environment where we have freedom has been established at the end of a massive social struggle against a dictator who curbed the rights of the workers.

It is obvious that today, Sri Lankan labour heroes celebrate the International Workers’ Day together with the world’s labour community while enjoying the so called freedom.

Continue reading ‘Political Environment with Freedom Established in Sri Lanka to Celebrate International Workers Day’ »

Vasudeva and Weerawansa Want Bribery Commission to Probe Chandrika Kumaratunga’s John Keels Holdings Land Deal

By Chamodi Gunawardana

Democratic Left Front (DLF) General Secretary Vasudeva Nanayakkara and National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday filed a complaint at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption over a case against former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga which has been lying idle at the commission for years pending investigation.

The complaint against Kumaratunga was initially lodged in 2007 concerning an incident where John Keells Holdings Ltd. was awarded 10 acres of land inside the Colombo Harbour in breach of due process. According to Nanayakkara, the Supreme Court considered the Fundamental Rights petition filed by Nanayakkara against Kumaratunga in 2007 and ordered the Bribery Commission, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Attorney General to investigate the incident further.

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What Happened in 1987 when the JR Jayawardena Govt Banned May Day Rallies Due to the April 21st Pettah Bomb Explosion

By Dharman Wickremaratne

Dharman Wickremaratne

Dharman Wickremaratne

The place was SLFP Headquarters, Colombo. The date was April 21, 1987. The time was around 5.30 p.m. I had come to SLFP Headquarters to do a report on the coming May Day. SLFP Trade Union Leader Alavi Moulana was standing in front of me. SLFP Administrative Secretary Anuruddha Ratwatte too was nearby.

Suddenly there was a sound like a thunderclap. Immediately I jumped into Ratwatte’s jeep and rushed to the scene of the explosion near the Bo-Tree, Pettah. The injured were screaming in pain. The bodies of the dead were scattered all over.

“This is a car bomb” said Secretary of National Security,Lionel Fernando and Commissioner General of Essential Services Austin Fernando who had arrived there. The blast claimed 122 lives and injured over 200 persons.

1987 May Day commemoration event

1987 May Day commemoration event

The following day people staged demonstrations calling for protection. Thousands surrounded the Colombo 7 Ward Place residence of President J.R. Jayewardene after marching from the direction of the Colombo Town Hall. The participants included were Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda, Ven. Balaharuwe Soma and Gamini Gunasekera of the JVP. It was organized by the Anthare (Inter University Students Fedaration). The Government declared a curfew and banned May Day rallies and meetings scheduled for May 1, ordering the events to be postponed for May 22.
Continue reading ‘What Happened in 1987 when the JR Jayawardena Govt Banned May Day Rallies Due to the April 21st Pettah Bomb Explosion’ »

TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran Sees at First hand the Pathetic Plight of Recently Re-settled Families in Valikamam north.

(Text of a Press release Issued by the Media office of Tamil National Alliance)

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TNA MP M.A Sumanthiran visited families in the recently cleared areas in Valikamam North which is in the periphery of the high security zone. Families who fled this area 20 years ago return to find that they are in the middle of a jungle with no access and irregular water supply.

Families are seen returning to places which were their homes to find roofs gone and walls unstable.

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As living is not a possibility in the present situation they are seen returning to their homes and cooking just to take procession of what is their own.

Although local government officials are striving to do everything within their means their efforts are like a drop in the ocean due to the lack of funds.
Continue reading ‘TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran Sees at First hand the Pathetic Plight of Recently Re-settled Families in Valikamam north.’ »

Desperate Last Minute Bid by Pro-Mahinda MP Group to Sabotage Passage of 19 Amendment Bill Thwarted by President Sirisena

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The government yesterday accused an influential section of the UPFA parliamentary group of having made a desperate bid to sabotage the 19 Amendment to the Constitution.

President Maithripala Sirisena, however, in his capacity as the leader of the SLFP had succeeded in thwarting dissidents, government spokesperson and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told the media yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Desperate Last Minute Bid by Pro-Mahinda MP Group to Sabotage Passage of 19 Amendment Bill Thwarted by President Sirisena’ »

President Sirisena says Adoption of 19th Amendment Victory is a Result of a 37 Year long Struggle by all Sri Lankans.

The adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority was a historic victory for Sri Lankan society, President Maithripala Sirisena said.

He added that the victory was the result of a 37-year-long struggle by all Sri Lankans.

The President thanked all stakeholders who contributed to this effort, including the Maha Sangha, political parties and civil society groups, active citizens, who struggled, sustained and enriched dialogue on this amendment.

The President thanked the Members of Parliament and political parties who supported this amendment. Though Presidential candidates promised to abolish the executive presidency at five previous occasions, it became a reality only on 28 April.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena says Adoption of 19th Amendment Victory is a Result of a 37 Year long Struggle by all Sri Lankans.’ »

Present Parliament has no Legitimacy and must be Dissolved Immediately says UNP Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne

UNP MP and Investment Promotions and Highways Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said yesterday that factions of the UPFA went against the wishes of the people by diluting one of the most important features that would have made the 19th amendment more meaningful for the people.

He said the UNP and Maithripala Sirisena campaigned to abolish the Executive Presidency and build an independent, depoliticised public sector. Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994 and 2000 and Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005 and 2010 and in 2015 campaigned to abolish the Executive Presidency.

President Maithripala Sirisena in his speech in support of the 19th Amendment stated that both Mahinda Rajapaksa and he had obtained 5.7 million and 6.2 million votes on the premise that they would abolish the Executive Presidency.

The Supreme Court had also struck down many clauses that delegated executive powers to the Prime Minister, which requires a referendum.

Continue reading ‘Present Parliament has no Legitimacy and must be Dissolved Immediately says UNP Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne’ »

Though 19th Amendment is Passed the UPFA says Struggle is not over Until 20th Constitutional Amendment is also Passed

By Jayashika Padmasiri

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) yesterday announced that though the 19th Amendment was enacted, its struggle was not over yet as the 20th Amendment still remained to be implemented while also claiming that through the 19A the UPFA was able to prove that the party was united and not divided.

Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva addressing a press conference yesterday said that the biggest obstacle standing between implementing the 20th Amendment was the impassive nature and lack of interest of the United National Party (UNP) concerning 20A.

“Our struggle is not yet over because 20A should also be implemented while a new electoral system should be introduced to the country. However, if the UPFA and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) did not support the constitutional amendments, then 19A would not have been enacted. Nevertheless, we cannot go home and sleep because our struggle is not over yet. However, it is true that through the 19A the UPFA did achieve a great victory because it is as a result of our majority vote base in Parliament that 19A is implemented today,” Silva said.

He added that 19A was also a good response for the people who were claiming that the UPFA was divided and were hoping for the party’s split.

Continue reading ‘Though 19th Amendment is Passed the UPFA says Struggle is not over Until 20th Constitutional Amendment is also Passed’ »

19th Constitutional Amendment Ends Possibility of Mahinda Rajapaksa Returning to Power as Executive President.

By

P.K.Balachandran

COLOMBO: Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, trying hard to come back, suffered a major setback on Tuesday when Parliament passed the 19th Constitutional Amendment (19A), which prevents him from standing for the Presidency again.

“No person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the People, shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by the People,” the 19A says.

To add to his woes, Rajapaksa’s own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and his grand coalition, the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), voted for the 19A.

However, the SLFP and UPFA MPs tried hard to scuttle the 19A, coming up with various objections.

Their trump card was the majority they enjoyed in Parliament. Without their support President Maithripala Sirisena could not muster the required two-thirds majority.

Continue reading ‘19th Constitutional Amendment Ends Possibility of Mahinda Rajapaksa Returning to Power as Executive President.’ »

President Sirisena has Defeated Former Presidents JR Jayewardena and Mahinda Rajapaksa says Rajitha Senaratne


By Chamodi Gunawardana

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said that former presidents J.R Jayewardene and Mahinda Rajapaksa were both defeated on Tuesday as a result of the 19th Amendment being enacted.

Addressing a media briefing, Senaratne said that President Maithripala Sirisena fulfilled the promise he made to the public by trimming the executive powers of the President and by doing so had created a social revolution in the country.

“President Sirisena is the most powerful personality our country came across after former Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike. Some people said President Sirisena had no personality because of his slim figure.

However, President Sirisena won the game and he proved that a person’s personality can only be judged by what is in his heart and mind and not through a moustache or person’s size or figure,” he said.

He added that although certain Sri Lankan presidents who were in power before the current president made promises to abolish the executive presidency they did not succeed to execute what they promised.

“Our people waited for almost 30 years to see this change but nothing happened. However, now Sri Lankans can feel and experience the differences between the present Government and the previous regimes,” Senaratne added.

Speaking about the Government’s future plans, Senaratne stated that they had already prepared reforms for the new electoral system and were planning to get the 20th Amendment passed in Parliament as soon as possible.

Courtesy:Daily FT

Ex-President Mahinda Meets Parliamentary Waterloo as President Sirisena Wins Over Votes of MP’s.


By

Rasika Jayakody

Five members representing the country’s legislature today – namely Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ministers Joseph Michael Perera, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, MP P. Dayarathne and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan – were present in the House when the late J. R. Jayewardene introduced Executive Presidency to Sri Lanka in 1978. Of the five Parliamentarians only R. Sampanthan, who represented the ITAK, voted against the 1978 Constitution which was presented by the UNP when it had an overwhelming majority in Parliament.

Nearly 37 years down the line, it was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who delivered the wind-up speech in Parliament before the second reading vote on the 19th Amendment to the constitution which was designed to curtail the excessive powers of the Executive Presidency. In his speech, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe referred to a discussion he had with his uncle, former President Jayewardene.

“President Jayewardene told me, ‘Ranil, anyone who sits here will not give up the position. You have to get him out when the term is over’. But now, we have a President who is willing to transfer his powers to Parliament,” the Prime Minister said, explaining the circumstances which led to the 19th Amendment. He said the 19th Amendment, despite the eleventh hour changes, was an important step in the direction of democratizing the country’s system of governance.

Although the constitutional amendment fell short of the expectations who voted for a change, it was a major development, especially in a Parliament that adopted an obnoxious constitutional amendment such as the 18th Amendment to the constitution without any resistance. Until the party leaders meeting which took place just before the vote, the pendulum swung both ways, leaving everyone, including the Members of Parliament, in confusion. There was a strong sense of uncertainty until the last moment and various discussions took place between various parties with regard to the 19th Amendment and its clauses.

Getting the UPFA’s support for the 19th Amendment was the biggest and toughest challenge for President Maithripala Sirisena who received a wide mandate for a “change” at the presidential election. There were several schools of thoughts within the SLFP over the constitutional amendment with one group directly opposing the 19th Amendment. They were the ardent supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who knew that the passing of the 19th Amendment would pose a threat to their survival in politics. In reality, they were a “minority group” under the UPFA umbrella.

At the same time, there was a sizable proportion of UPFA MPs – mainly SLFP members – who supported the 19th Amendment with certain caveats. Interestingly, when the parliamentary group of the party decided to support the amendment last week they did not speak of any ‘caveats’ and it seemed as if the party would unanimously support the 19th Amendment. Therefore, when President Maithripala Sirisena arrived at Parliament to present the 19th amendment, the MPs of the United National Party seemed hopeful about passing of the 19th Amendment.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Meets Parliamentary Waterloo as President Sirisena Wins Over Votes of MP’s.’ »

Marginal Shift of Power to Prime Minister Via 19th Amendment can Benefit Mahinda Rajapaksa if he Becomes PM

BY DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

There were four main winners in the battle over 19A. Of them, the second biggest winner was President Sirisena who was able to retain much of his power while balancing adroitly between the two contending components of his power base: his ally the UNP and his party the SLFP.

The biggest winner however, was not President Sirisena. It was a dead man, President Junius Richard Jayewardene. His 1978 Constitution proved so robust a structure, that it successfully resisted the joint attempt of his distant nephew Ranil Wickremesinghe and his old rival Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga to up-end its center-piece, the executive presidency.

The Supreme Court put paid to most of the clauses which attempted to shift power and authority drastically from the Presidency to the Prime Ministership. The Opposition, whose numbers were large enough thanks to JR’s electoral system of proportional representation, put paid to Ranil and Chandrika’s effort to surreptitiously embed unaccountable “civil society” in a crucial role determining role behind the scenes in the Constitutional Council.

The third biggest winner of the battle of 19A was former President Rajapaksa, whose loyalists in the Opposition were able to wage a bitter rearguard action which prevented an SLFP sell-out to the Ranil-CBK program and create a momentum which helped or caused President Sirisena to play a balancing role rather than act as a straightforward ally of his fellow troika members.

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How the Pro-Mahinda Faction of UPFA Tried to Scuttle the 19th Constitutional Amendment in Parliament


By
Dharisha Bastians

After the second reading of the 19th Amendment was passed with an overwhelming majority in the House at about 7.00 p.m., Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa convened the Committee Stage of the bill, during which amendments were to be moved before a final vote.

The pro-Mahinda faction of the UPFA attempted to scuttle this stage early on when MEP Leader Dinesh Gunewardane raised a point of order that the list of amendments had not been distributed in all three languages. Both the Government and Opposition benches were in an uproar over the interruption, causing Speaker Rajapaksa to take a 15-minute recess.

The Committee Stage then proceeded for several hours, with various amendments being accepted or rejected by the Government.

The Government was forced to remove an additional amendment in the 19th Amendment preventing a MP from going to court before disciplinary action was taken by his political party, after MEP Leader Dinesh Gunewardane put up stiff resistance to the clause and demanded a vote.

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“Taraki” Sivaram: From Gun Toting Militant to Pen Wielding Journalist

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The tenth death anniversary of well-known columnist D.P.Sivaram who wrote under the pseudonym of “Taraki” falls this week. Dharmaretnam Puvirajakeerthi Sivaram who wrote in English and Tamil was abducted on April 28th 2005 at Bambalapitiya around 10. 30 pm.His body was found about four hours later by the Police on the banks of Diyawanna Oya near Kimbula-ela junction about 500 metres away from the Parliament Complex. It was concluded at the inquest that he had died of gunshot injuries after midnight between 12.30 to 1 am on April 29th.

Batticaloa scenery – pic: Indi Samarajiva

Batticaloa scenery – pic: Indi Samarajiva

The brazen abduction and brutal assassination of “Taraki”Sivaram caused shock waves. He was formerly a gun toting Tamil militant who had later turned into a pen wielding journalist.As a freelance journalist Sivaram had written his weekly Taraki column at different times for different English newspapers such as “Sunday Island”, ”Daily Mirror” and “Sunday Times”.He also wrote occasionally in Tamil under the byline DP Sivaram for newspapers such as “Virakesari”. (Later he got involved with the “North-Eastern Herald” journal and the “Tamilnet”website) Though controversial at times, his informative and analytical political columns were widely read.The circumstances of his abduction and death therefore evoked strong reactions from many including this writer. In penning this article on the occasion of Taraki’s tenth death anniversary, I am drawing liberally from some of my earlier writings.
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