In his speech welcoming the Indian Prime Minister, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganeshan stated that the people assembled to hear him speak were the most recent segment of people to arrive from India in the 1800s.
Pic via: Facebook/
Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Languages
“But our loyalty to our Motherland Sri Lanka, is not a divided loyalty,” he insisted. “We are in a position of being a bridge between our two nations, and also, we make the relationship between our countries more meaningful,” the Minister opined.
Continue reading ‘“Our Loyalty Is Not a Divided Loyalty. We are a Bridge Between our Two Nations” – Mano Ganeshan’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
“India beats in your hearts,” visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared to jubilant Sri Lankans at the Norwood grounds on Friday, moments after declaring open a multi-specialty hospital in Dickoya built with Indian funds.
pic via: twitter/
Alluding to them as “Indian-origin diaspora”, Mr Modi told the estimated 30,000-strong crowd that their progress was India’s pride. “We take much joy from your accomplishments in various walks of life,” he said. “We rejoice at the success of the Indian-origin diaspora as they leave a mark across the world, near and far.”
Thousands of Indian origin Tamils—all of them now Sri Lankan citizens—climbed into buses early Friday morning and were driven to the Norwood grounds to hear Mr Modi speak. Villages were festooned with orange, white and green streamers, the colours both of the Indian national flag and the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC).
Continue reading ‘Over 30,000 Sri Lankans of Indian Origin at Norwood Cheer as Indian Prime Minister Modi says “India Beats In Your Hearts”.’ »
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of his humble beginnings as a tea boy (Chai Boy) when he addressed tens of thousands of tea plantation workers of recent Indian origin at Norwood in the Nuwara Eliya district Friday.
Opening ceremony of Dickoya hospital
Becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the tea growing central region of Sri Lanka, Modi said he and the vast majority of plantation Tamils had something in common – tea.
“You and I have something in common,” he said. “As some of you may have heard, I have a special association with tea,” he said in a clear reference to his days as a Chai Boy, or tea seller at his father’s modest tea stall at a railway station in the Gujarat state of India.
He said it was a tremendous honour to be the first Indian Prime Minister ever to visit the region which is home to nearly one million Tamils of recent Indian origin.
Continue reading ‘“Chaiwallah” (Tea Boy) Narendra Modi Uses “Teacup Diplomacy”to Reach out to Tamil Plantation Workers of Indian Origin’ »
Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal unseating Geetha Kumarasinghe could lead to a major shift in the balance of power with the United People’s Freedom Alliance possibly losing at least 11 seats in the 225-member parliament.
The May 3 decision of the court held that Kumarasinghe, a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Switzerland, was unqualified to be a candidate at the August 2015 parliamentary election and thus she should be removed from parliament.
Apart from removing the 61-year-old former actress-turned-politician from the legislature, the court decision has far more serious repercussions for the entire UPFA list for Galle and Matara districts which returned six and five MPs for the party respectively. The future of those MP’s is now in question.
Continue reading ‘11 UPFA Southern MP’s From Galle (6) and Matara (5) Districts Face Risk Of Being Unseated Due to Effect of Appeal Court Ruling on Geetha Kumarasinghe’ »
The visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday played the “ancient Buddhist link” card with aplomb in a bid to give a firm historical and cultural foundation to his plea that Sri Lanka should accept India as a reliable development partner, Glorifying the teachings of the Buddha and pointing out their relevance to addressing the problems of the crisis-ridden modern world, Modi said that Vesak day is a day for rejoicing as well as reflection on the “timeless truth of the Dhamma” which the Buddha preached.
He was in Colombo as the Chief Guest at the UN-backed International Vesak Day Celebrations at the invitation of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Vesak marks the birth, enlightenment and mahaparinibbana (liberation or death) of the Buddha.
The Buddhist Dhamma’s call for the inculcation of generosity, proper conduct, wisdom, energy, tolerance, truthfulness, determination, loving kindness and equanimity is of great relevance to the conflict-ridden present day world just as it was in Buddha’s time, Modi said. He quoted the Buddha to say that the Dhamma is the greatest gift one can bestow.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi Plays the “Buddhist Link” as Winning Card to Make Sri Lanka Accept India as Reliable Development Partner.’ »
DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
Prime Minister Modi’s two day visit to Sri Lanka was supposed to be non-political. Yet, in his address to the International Vesak Conference at the BMICH, he laid out the Modi doctrine for Indo-Lankan relations and more especially for Sri Lanka.
His message was hardly non-political, or purely cultural and civilizational, being far more Kautilyan than Dharmaashokan. With the country’s top leadership– Government and Opposition– present, he prescribed the limits of this country’s sovereign existence.
This is what he says, on economics and security/strategy which are facets of the same thing: power relations between states:
Continue reading ‘Modi Doctrine of “Indivisible Mutual Security” With India is Unacceptable for Sri Lanka’s National Interests.’ »
After having run into difficulties with the Sri Lankan Tamils of the North and East over issues of devolution of power, alleged human rights violations during Eelam War IV, and post-war economic development, the government of India is now turning its attention away from the North-East Tamils to the Tamils of Indian Origin in the plantation areas of Central Sri Lanka
“Crowds on way to Dickoya to welcome PM @narendramodi ” poc via: twitter.com/
It is therefore very significant that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only inaugurating the 100-bed India-built modern hospital in Dikoya but also meeting the Indian Origin Tamil leaders and addressing a gathering of Indian Origin people.
Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minster to visit see the Indian Origin Tamil plantation labor in situ, though the government of India has had a long history of involvement with their lives.
Continue reading ‘Modi Visit Indicates Indian Govt Focus is Shifting From North – Eastern Tamils to Tamils of Indian Origin in Up Country Areas.’ »
In a “very friendly and cordial” half an hour’s meeting here late on Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa completely skipped politics and spoke about forging close economic relations between the two countries, a well-placed source said.
pic via: facebook.com/
Contrary expectations, Rajapaksa did not voice any concerns about the recent economic agreements with India which had created a political storm of sorts in the island.
On the other hand he dwelt on the deficiencies in the economic policy of the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government and regretted that the projects that his government had launched were stalled. The government ought to generate “investor confidence,” he stressed.
Rajapaksa added that he is all for economic cooperation with India. Continue reading ‘Ex-Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa “Shapes Things” In Cordial and Friendly 30 Minute Meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi’ »
On May 1, while thousands gathered at Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green, to attend the May Day rally organised by forces loyal to Mahinda Rajapakse, one of the former President’s closes aides made a controversial call.
He took to the microphone and urged the public to raise black flags when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the country on May 11, to protest the Indian leadership’s visit to the island country.
This call was made by non other than Wimal Weerawansa, who has a history of being a ‘drama king’ in the Sri Lankan political arena. While Weerawansa went on with his rants, former President Mahinda Rajapakse stood on the stage, saying nothing.
Weerawansa further went on to say that Modi and the Sri Lankan government were discussing a deal on Trincomalee which he told the public, must be opposed. Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Calls For Protest Against Narendra Modi Visit but Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Cordial Meeting with Indian PM.’ »
Claiming India’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday stressed that whether it was on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of India and Sri Lanka was indivisible.
Modi declared that his conversations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had reinforced India’s will to join hands in achieving their common goals.
The Indian leader was addressing the International Vesak Day event at the BMICH in Colombo.
Excepts of Modi address: Continue reading ‘Be it Land or Water the Security of India and Sri Lanka is Indivisible says Indian PM Narendra Modi’ »
by A Special Correspondent
Galle district parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was recently declared to be disqualified from being a member of parliament by the Court of Appeal on the basis of a provision introduced to the Constitution via the 19th Amendment, disqualifying dual citizens from becoming MPs. This provision was tagged on to Article 91, which lists the disqualifications to be elected or to sit in Parliament. Article 66 of the Constitution says that an MP’s seat will become vacant if among other things, he becomes subject to a disqualification under Article 91.
Section 115 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (No. 1 of 1981) states that disqualification under any written law for election or for sitting and voting as a Member, whether before or after the election of the Member, of any person or persons nominated by a recognised political party or independent group for election at that election, shall not invalidate or in any way affect the nomination paper of that party or group, and, accordingly, the candidature or election of any other person nominated by the party or group on that nomination paper shall not be invalidated by reason only of the fact of the death, withdrawal or disqualification of such person or persons.
The government appears to be relying on the above provisions in the law to restrict the disqualification of Kumarasinghe just to her, leading to her surgical removal from Parliament to be replaced by Piyasena Gamage. Following the verdict of the Court of Appeal, the Secretary General of Parliament has already written to the Elections Commission, that her seat has fallen vacant. The matter is now before the Supreme Court. Continue reading ‘If Geetha Kumarasinghe’s Unseating as MP is Upheld the Entire List of Galle District UPFA Candidates Including MP’s Could be Disqualified.’ »
Mahinda P. LiyanageGalle
Southern Provincial Councilor Jayantha Jayaweera told the media that he was going to initiate legal action in the Court of Appeal challenging the legal validity of the entire list of candidates who contested the 2015 Parliamentary election under the United People’s Freedom Alliance ticket inconsideration of the legal postulations following the Court of Appeal(CA) order issued on May 3 declaring that Galle district Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
“According to the election law, in case of a candidate of a list is disqualified following a court order or any other lawful objection, the same directive applies all other contestants of the respective list. Hence, according to the Court of Appeal decree unseating Geetha Kumarasinghe from her Parliamentary membership the whole of the UPFA list under consideration is also legally invalid, Councilor Jayaweera argued. Continue reading ‘Validity of Entire List of Galle District UPFA Candidates for Aug 2015 Parliament Elections to be Challenged Consequent to Geetha Kumarasinghe Being Disqualified as MP.’ »
The Supreme Court today issued an Interim Order until May 15, staying the operation of the judgment made by Court of Appeal which declared that Geetha Kumarasinghe disqualified as Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold this office.
However, President’s Counsel J.C. Weliamuna appearing on behalf of two Galle district residents informed Court that his clients and other respondents were yet to receive notices and thereby raised objections for any hearing into matter.
Through an appeal petition, Galle District UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe sought an order to set aside the judgment dated May 3, 2017 by Court of Appeal.
A three-judge-bench comprising Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Anil Goonaratne decided to fixed the matter for support on May 15 and directed the respondent-petitioner to serve notices on respondents before next support date. Continue reading ‘No Action to Remove Geetha Kumarasinghe as MP until May 15th Orders Supreme Court’ »
Kumara Vidugalage Dona Geetha Samanmalee Kumarasingha popularly known as Geetha Kumarasinghe is in the eye of a politico-legal storm. The glamorous actress turned politician who was elected to Parliament in August 2015 from the Galle district on the United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) ticket has been unseated by an Appeal court ruling.
Pics courtesy of: fb/pg/GeethaSamanmaleeKumarasinghe & facebook.com/FCASLANKA
According to newspaper reports the Court of Appeal on May 3rd 2017 issued a Writ of Quo Warranto disqualifying the UPFA Member of Parliament from holding office as an MP because Ms. Geetha Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament. She was a citizen of Switzerland as well as Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Geetha, Gotabhaya And The Political Implications of Dual Citizenship’ »
By Philip Fernando
Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s distinguished newspaper editors and accomplished diplomats passed away yesterday in USA after a long bout with diabetes. He was editor of The Daily News and Sunday Observer and later headed the embassies in Canada and USA. He was awarded the Deshabandu Class 1 National Day honour for meritorious diplomatic service. He was a stout defender of the freedom of press.
Earnest was the last of the long stream of editors that Esmond Wickremesinghe raised at Lake House during its heyday: Cecil Graham, Tarzie Vittachi, Denzil Peiris, Harold Peiris and M A de Silva, just to name a few. Those of us who were privy to have seen them at close range carried away memories that stuck with us for good.
News is sacred, comment is free, was their credo.
Continue reading ‘Ernest Corea, Distinguished Editor and Esteemed Diplomat Passed Away’ »
The European Union has formally restored the GSP+ concessions to Sri Lanka seven years after key beneficiary access to the country’s biggest export market was suspended.
The Government’s Information Department said last night that the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council had approved GSP plus for Sri Lanka.
The Department said the EU approval completes the three procedural requirements for Sri Lanka to receives GSP Plus status. “The official notification on the entry into force will be finalised next week,” it added.
Sri Lanka last month secured a crucial vote at the European Parliament in Brussels and Sri Lanka’s application was referred to the 28-member European Union Council of Ministers for approval.
Continue reading ‘European Union Formally Restores GSP+ Concessions Denied to Sri Lanka 7 Years Ago During Rajapaksa Rule.’ »
Sri Lanka has rejected China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month, given “India’s concerns,” said a government official.
Sri Lanka last allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in the capital of Colombo in October 2014, a move that triggered fierce opposition from its northern neighbour India, which worries about growing Chinese activity in a country it has long viewed as part of its area of influence.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday for a two-day official visit.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Refuses to Let Chinese Submarine Dock in Colombo this Month Due to Indian Sensitivity Over China’s Influence.’ »
In an unscheduled, late night meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo on Thursday May 11th 2017
The meeting was at the ex-president’s request, Indian High Commisioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu told reporters here.
The meeting comes ten days after a parliamentarian close to Mr. Rajapaksa called for a black flag protest around Mr. Modi’s visit.
Mr. Rajapaksa has earlier blamed India for his defeat in the January 2015 presidential polls, but in a recent media interview said that he admired Mr. Modi.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi Has Unscheduled Meeting in Colombo With Mahinda Rajapaksa at Ex-Sri Lankan President’s Request’ »
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Colombo on Thursday evening on a two-day visit to participate in the UN Vesak Day celebrations, amid elaborate security arrangements.
While New Delhi and Colombo have termed the visit as primarily a “religious” engagement, while emphasising that no agreements will be signed, Prime Minister Modi on his official Facebook page said: “This will be my second bilateral visit there in two years, a sign of our strong relationship.”
Continue reading ‘Indian PM Narendra Modi Arrives in Sri Lanka on a “Religious Engagement” Visit; Wont sign Any Agreement’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition on Tuesday (May 9) strongly denied that it had purposely voted for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, knowing that the Rajapaksa brothers, Basil and Gotabhaya would be debarred from contesting future elections.
The 19th Amendment debarred Sri Lankans holding dual citizenship from contesting polls. Parliament adopted the new law in late April 2015.
The media took up the issue at a briefing called by the JO at Punchi Borella to comment on the latest Central Bank annual report and the alleged government-Parliament conspiracy to oust Galle District UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe on the basis of a Court of Appeal ruling on her dual citizenship.
Continue reading ‘Why Did Joint Opposition MP’s Vote for 19th Amendment Knowing it Debars Basil and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa From Contesting Polls?’ »
On his first visit to Sri Lanka in March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a South Asian icon to be looked up to and emulated. His rise from being a humble tea boy to be the Prime Minister of a gigantic country like India, was the stuff of dreams and a beacon of hope among the disadvantaged in the entire region.
His avowed South Asian regional orientation and his “Look East” declarations gave hope of a fresh deal for India’s smaller neighbors, including Sri Lanka. No wonder Modi got a breathtaking reception in Colombo and Jaffna with manifest and spontaneous popular participation on his first visit.
But there has been a sea change since then. Two years down the line, as Modi arrives here on May 11 for a two-day visit, Sri Lankans are wary about Modi and his government, wondering whether New Delhi’s recent brazen moves on Sri Lanka have a hidden agenda to interfere with and abridge Sri Lanka’s right to choose its friends, economic partners and defense allies.
Sri Lankans wonder if India plans to arrogate the island’s strategic national assets in the guise of “joint development” of such assets.
New Delhi’s seemingly high handed bid to thwart China’s inroads into Sri Lanka through a large number of agreements such as the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) and the recent MoU on economic projects, has made Modi’s “Neighborhood First Policy“ suspect in the eyes of Sri Lankans.
Continue reading ‘Sinhalese Anxious,Tamils Indifferent and Muslims Disdainful About Narendra Modi Visit to Sri Lanka’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition yesterday accused Parliament of depriving actress turned UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe of her Galle District parliamentary seat at the behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.
The JO flayed the government and the parliament for acting hurriedly to oust an elected MP loyal to former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa. The JO said that Kumarasinghe had earned the wrath of the SLFP for steadfastly being a Rajapaksa supporter.
Former External Affairs Minister and top JO spokesman Prof. G. L. Peiris said the Secretary General of Parliament had informed the National Election Commission (NEC) on Tuesday (May 9) of the Galle District vacancy in Parliament in the wake of the Court of Appeal ruling pertaining to her eligibility to be an MP due to her being a dual citizen.
Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, the former law professor alleged that Kumarasinghe had been denied the opportunity to move the Supreme Court within 42 days against the Court of Appeal ruling given on May 3.
Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Accuses Parliament For Hurried Ouster of Galle District MP Geetha Kumarainghe at the Behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »
By Annie Gowen
Members of a Hindu far-right organization called Arogya Bharati say they are working with expectant couples in the country to produce “customized” babies, who, they hope, will be taller, fairer and smarter than other babies, according to a report in the Indian Express newspaper.
The group’s health officials claimed that their program — a combination of diet, ayurvedic medicine and other practices — has led to 450 of these babies, and they hope to have “thousands” more by 2020, the report said.
“The parents may have lower IQ, with a poor educational background, but their baby can be extremely bright. If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller,” Hitesh Jani, the group’s national convener, told the newspaper.
Jani explained that the program consists of a “purification of energy channels” and body before a pregnancy, and mantra-chanting and “proper food,” such as meals rich in calcium and vitamin A, after the baby is born.
Continue reading ‘India’s RSS Inspired “Arogya Bharati” Launches Project to Produce “Customized” Babies who are “Fairer,Smarter&Taller”.’ »
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the Secretary General of Parliament had been forced to annul the MP post of Geetha Kumarasinghe, the Joint Opposition yesterday alleged.
Addressing a press briefing, MP Wasudeva Nanayakkara said the JO has no doubt that Ms. Kumarasinghe’s removal was a result of a political revenge and alleged that the Attorney-General had forced the House to inform its decision to the Election Commission.
He said Parliament has violated the privileges of it’s members by not giving a sufficient time to appeal against the court ruling.
Continue reading ‘Removal of Geetha Kumarasinghe From MP Seat Without Giving Time for Appeal is act of Political Revenge Charges Vasudeva Nanayakkara’ »
by Chitra Weerarathne
UPFA Parliamentarian for Galle district Geetha Kumarasinghe, yesterday, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a recent Court of Appeal judgement, which disqualified her from holding office as a Member of Parliament on the grounds that she was a dual citizen at the time of handing over nominations.
Some residents of Galle have filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal complaining that Kumarasinghe is a dual citizen of Switzerland and Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Lodges Appeal in Supreme Court Against Writ of Quo Warranto Issued by Court of Appeal.’ »
UPFA General Secretary and Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera said today he would nominate former minister Piyasena Gamage to fill the vacancy created by former MP Geetha Kumarasinghe being disqualified.
He said this while responding to a question asked by a journalist at the weekly Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) media briefing.
Continue reading ‘UPFA Will Nominate Ex-Minister Piyasena Gamage as Galle District MP to Fill Vacancy caused by Geetha Kumarasinghe’s Disqualification’ »
Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake has informed the Chairman of the Election Commission that the MP post of UPFA Galle district Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe has been annulled in line with the Court of Appeal verdict.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (3) ruled that Ms. Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament on the basis that she holds dual citizenship
Meanwhile Geetha Kumarasinghe has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s decision which disqualified her as a parliamentarian.
Continue reading ‘Parliament Secy -Gen Annuls Galle District MP Post of Geetha Kumarasinghe Even as she Files Supreme Court Appeal.’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Following the Court of Appeal disqualifying UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe to be a member of parliament due to her dual citizenship the Joint Opposition member Udaya Gammanpila has requested Controller of Immigration and Emigration to name all those MPs with dual citizenship.
UPFA MP and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Gammanpila has sought information in accordance with the Right to Information (RTI) Act adopted by ruling coalition.
Attorney-at-law Gammanpila has told the Controller of Immigration and Emigration that information pertaining to those holding dual citizenship is available with the latter’s department and failure to furnish correct information or failure to provide it is a punishable offence under the RTI Act.
Continue reading ‘Udaya Gammanpila Uses Right to Information Act to Seek Names of MP”s who are Dual Citizens from Controller of Immmigration and Emigration.’ »
It is not just New Delhi or Washington that is worried about Colombo’s proposed deal to sell a deep-sea port in Hambantota to a Chinese company. Sri Lanka’s port authority has “fundamental concerns” over the proposed deal, its Chairman Dammika Ranatunga said.
While the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) appreciates the importance of foreign investment, it would only “go by the book”, Mr. Ranatunga told The Hindu.
“We took a careful look at the [draft] agreement — it violated the SLPA Act, and the terms were not conducive to us,” he said, adding that even after 10 revised drafts of the agreement, factoring in some of SLPA’s observations, many concerns remained.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Port Authority Chairman Dammika Ranatunga Worried About Govt’s Hambantota Harbour Deal With Chinese Company’ »
By Aruni Mallawaarachchi
Joint Opposition MP Geetha Kumarasinghe says defeated politician Piyasena Gamage wants to pull her down. “He was behind all this. He is waiting eagerly to occupy my seat in Parliament,” she said.
What will happen next?
I am waiting until I am delivered justice. I am a strong woman. I will not give up politics even if someone tries to drag me down. My decisions were in accordance with my conscience. I never went after money and the people of this country know that Geetha Kumarasinghe is a woman with genuine policies who speaks boldly. I am in their hearts and no one can change it. No one can buy it too.
Who are you alluding to when you say someone is trying to drag you down?
I am not alluding. I directly say that the defeated politician Piyasena Gamage wants to pull me down. He was behind all these. He was waiting eagerly to occupy on my seat in Parliament. He received 20,000 votes less than me. He was rejected by the people.
Do you have evidence to accuse former Minister Piyasena Gamage?
Who else wants to do this? The four who filed petitions against me are his supporters.
Can you prove this charge?
Yes. One is the brother-in-law of the defeated minister. Another one is the person who was doing the minister’s contracts. Third owns a quarry which has a legal problem. The minister has promised him to resolve it. The fourth is a person who has worked in cooperatives. He was the arch rival of Piyasena in the past but now close friends.
Continue reading ‘“Bigwigs In this Govt Offered to Take Care of my Case and Make me a Deputy Minister but I Refused”- Geetha Kumarasinghe’ »
Former Army Major – General Kamal Gunaratne is under investigation over the murder of an employee at the Sri Lankan embassy in Brazil, foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera told parliament today.Gunaratne, who was sent to Brazil as deputy ambassador by then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, murdered an embassy employee Nimal Rupasinghe with the support of two other embassy staff members, the minister said.
“Those two were given a promotion and sent to the United States from Brazil,” the minister said.
He did not say what motivated Gunaratne to kill Rupasinghe, but the victim’s family has lodged a complaint with the foreign ministry that he was forced to wash clothes of Gunaratne and his wife.
Rupasinghe was hit on the head and killed as he tried to get a transfer back to Colombo as he could not bear Gunaratne’s cruel and degrading treatment, the family has said.
Retired major general Gunaratne was rewarded with a diplomatic posting after his role in the final phase of the war against the Tamil Tigers who were crushed by May 2009.
Continue reading ‘Major-General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne Under Investigation For Alleged Murder of Employee at Brazil Embassy Discloses Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.’ »
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera revealed that the Island nations’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s spouse Shiranthi Rajapaksa, had spent Euros amounting to 25 million Sri Lankan rupees to watch Vesak from the Presidential Suite of the King George V hotel in Paris and for a quick luxury limousine ride to Lourdes for a Catholic pilgrimage .
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera disclosed details of former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s Paris visit in May 2014 costing Sri Lankan tax payers 41,650 euros for the hire of two limousines that were used to transport her around Paris and to Lourdes.
Samaraweera also divulged that Shiranthi’s stay in the presidential suite of King George V Hotel run by the super luxury Four Seasons group cost 63,945.50 euro from May 20 to 24 without breakfast.
Shiranthi Rajapaksa was representing Sri Lanka at the 2014 Vesak celebrations organised by the UNESCO in France
Continue reading ‘Shiranthi Rajapaksa and “Daisy Aunty” Spent 137,396 Euro(Rs 25,000,000) for 4 Days in May 2014 to Watch Vesak In France’ »
The Court of Appeal yesterday issued summons on the President of the Government Medical Officers’ Association Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya to appear before the court on May 22 and show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt of the Court of Appeal for having caused an affront to the dignity of the court by making abusive public statements consequent to the Court of Appeal judgement dated Jan. 31, 2017. By that judgement the Court of Appeal ordered the Sri Lanka Medical Council to provisionally register the MBBS graduates of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine, Malabe (SAITM).
The bench comprising Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda (President/CA) and S. Thurairaja issued an interim order restraining and/or preventing him from committing, making and/or publishing further contemptuous statements/articles scandalising the Court of Appeal until the conclusion of the case.
Convener of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMS) Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya and Co-convener of the Puravesi Balaya (Citizens’ Power) Gamini Viyangoda filed the contempt application against Dr. Padeniya.
Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Summons GMOA President Anuruddha Padeniya for Contempt of Court and Restrains Him From Scandalising Courts Further.’ »
The president of Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya while leading an Island wide Govt doctors strike that affected the treatment of patients in the Island has been minting money by engaging in channelled practice seeing patients at a private hospital while the strike was on. While numerous people from the poorer sections of society were unable to get proper medical treatment due to the strike by Govt hospital doctors the head of the GMOA has been making money through private practice . He has granted appointments to see at least six patients at Nawaloka hospital on Friday May 5th when his union GMOA was engaged in an island wide strike demanding the closure of private medical college.
Deputy Minister of Social Empowering and Welfare Ranjan Ramanayake on Thursday (May 04) has made an appointment to see Dr. Padeniya, a pediatric neurologist, at the Nawaloka Hospital in Colombo. The appointment was given to see Dr. Padeniya on Friday, May 05 at 4:05 pm and the deputy minister was listed as the 6th patient. The minister, who obtained the appointment to demonstrate the duplicity of the GMOA, produced the receipt issued for his appointment in parliament. It listed Doctor Padeniya’s charge for a consultation as Rs. 1000.
Parliament was shown the receipt for an appointment Padeniya, a paediatric neurologist, had given a patient on the night of Thursday the 4th of May 2017 at a time when the trade union he leads had already announced the strike for 24 hours from 8.00 am on Friday.
Ranjan Ramanayake obtained the appointment to consult Padeniya just to expose the duplicity of the striking doctors who want a private medical college shut in the name of protecting free health care, but have no qualms in engaging in private practice while in state service.
Continue reading ‘GMOA President Dr.Padeniya Engaged in Private Practice On Friday While Govt Hospitals Were Affected Due to Doctors Strike’ »
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is “deeply concerned over Cabinet approval for a policy and legal framework relating to the proposed Counter-Terrorism Act”. The TNA says “We have not been consulted on the terms of the draft framework, which has recently appeared in the press and appears to be a Cabinet memorandum approved on 25th April 2017”.
The TNA in a hard-hitting statement urges the Govt to urgently re-formulate some of the provisions in the framework. The TNA says “-We urge the Government to reconsider and urgently reformulate its proposals in light of the fundamental need to avoid torture and enforced disappearance, prevent abuse and effectively investigate actual threats to terrorism. The proposed framework neither ensures the security nor the liberty of Sri Lankans. Instead, it represents an attempt to enlarge the scope of unchecked executive power over the citizen, stifle freedom of speech and diversity, and provide the necessary loopholes for continued torture and abuse. We wish to reiterate that the protection of the rights of our citizens–particularly given the legacy of horrific past abuses–should not be sacrificed on the altar of trade concessions”.
Continue reading ‘TNA Concerned Over Provisions of Proposed Counter Terrorism Act as an “Attempt to Enlarge Scope of Unchecked Executive Power Over the Citizen”.’ »
Popular actress and Galle district MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said yesterday that she would file a case in the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s ruling which deprived her from her seat in Parliament.
The Court of Appeal yesterday (May 3 2017) ruled that Galle District UPFA Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was not entitled to hold the post of a Member of Parliament as she had contested the election while being a dual citizen.
She said she hoped to continue as an MP until a decision was given by the Supreme Court following her petition.
“I’m not criticising the Court ruling but I regret it. I hope justice will prevail one day. I will seek further judicial assistance in this regard,” she added.
The Court of Appeal on May 3rd 2017 issued a Writ of Quo Warran to disqualify UPFA Member of Parliament from holding office as an MP as she had held a dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament.
Justice Preethi Padman Surasena with Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President/CA ) agreeing also directed the State to recover the cost from her as the debt to the State for the each day she sat in the Parliament knowing that she was a dual citizen and being disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Unseated by Appeal Court Through Quo Warranto Writ as Galle District MP on Dual Citizenship Issue : Actress Turned Politico to go to Supreme Court’ »
The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK) known also as the Federal Party has resolved to formally induct into party folds former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) who have undergone a process of rehabilitation. The path breaking party decision was taken unanimously at the ITAK central Committee sessions held in Batticaloa on April 29th 2017.
The ITAK is the chief constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)which is the premier political configuration representing the Sri Lankan Tamils. The TNA contests under the ITAK symbol of House. Senior Jaffna district MP “Maavai”Senathirajah is the ITAK president while Eastern Provincial minister S.Thurairajasingham is the party secretary. Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan is the TNA leader.
The proposal to absorb rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres into ITAK party folds was put forward by Jaffna district parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran. According to ITAK sources the move to induct ex-LTTE militants into party ranks in a formal manner was welcomed with great enthusiasm by party stalwarts at the Central committee meeting. Even before the decision was taken a large number of rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres were already involved with the ITAK and engaged in party activities. These youths were mostly the children, siblings or close family members of senior ITAK activists. What is now being envisaged is the granting of formal or official party membership .
Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated Ex- LTTE Cadres to be Given Membership in ITAK the Chief Constituent Party of the TNA’ »
By B. Anton Jeyanathan
Patabandi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera known to the world at large as Rohana Wijeweera–pic: JVPSriLanka.com
(The writer is a retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Police.)
The 5th of April dawned and passed without much concern or notice by the majority of the present generation who were born after the 1970′s and 1980′s, as they never experienced the atrocities committed by members of the JVP under the propaganda of a revolution. The 5th of April every year from the year 1971, is a day which any policemen of the Sri Lanka Police could not overlook or forget. It was on the 5th of April 1971 the JVP mounted an attack on the Wellawaya Police Station, and commenced their so called revolution. It was the start of a series of attacks on various police stations throughout the island, mostly in the Southern, Western and North Western provinces, the killing of policemen, ransacking of police stations and removal of firearms.
The attack on the Wellawaya Police Station took place on 5 April 1971 and continued throughout April. One of the five lessons the JVP inculcated in the minds of youngsters was “how to grab arms and ammunition by attacking police stations”. The JVP did not have much arms to boast about, except maybe some homemade shot guns and some side arms which they had stolen or obtained from underworld characters. They needed firearms to attack the police stations and kill the policemen.
In their master plan to revolutionarily grab power from the “capitalist bourgeois” they had been conducting classes on “marxism”, “Indian expansionism”, “grabbing of arms and ammunition from police stations” etc. Altogether they had five lessons. They had a well knit network throughout the island, especially among university students, unemployed and under employed youth, and they held such classes clandestinely in various areas under cover. Even some of their frontline comrades visited government departments and held such classes during the lunch hour or after hours. They had also infiltrated to recruit members of the armed forces, specially from the air force and navy.
Continue reading ‘How The Attempt by The JVP in April 1971 To Rescue Rohana Wijeweera From Prison in Jaffna Ended in Failure’ »
Veteran Tamil film actor Vinu Chakravarthy, who regaled fans with his commanding screen presence in over 1,000 films, including Annamalai and Guru Sishyan, breathed his last on April 27th 2017 evening around 7 pm. He was 71. He was ailing for the past few years. Besides being diabetic, he had high blood pressure.
Vinu Chakravarthy (December 15, 1945 – 27 April 2017)
Vinu Chakravarthy has made over 1,000 films in four South Indian languages – 900 in Tamil, 30 in Malayalam, 5 in Telugu and one in Badaga language. He has also written scripts and directed movies on his own. The 2007 released Tamil movie Muni was his landmark 1000th movie.
Chakravarthy was born on December 15, 1945, in Usilampatti to Adimoola Thevar and Manjuvani Ammal. He studied at Wesley School, Royapettah and graduated in commerce from A. M. Jain College. He was eldest son among other 3 sons and a daughter.
On completion of his education, Chakravarthy worked as a Reserve Sub-Inspector at the Ice House police station for six months before joining the Southern Railways where he worked for four years.
Chakravarthy was working as a script writer for Kannada director Puttanna Kanagal when he was noticed by film producer Tiruppur Mani who, in 1977, gave him a role in the Kannada film Parasangada Gendetimma which was later remade into Tamil.
A regular in Rajinikanth films, the actor had worked with leading stars including Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, and Vijayakant among others. He was considered a lucky charm for the superstar with whom he had shared screen space in 25 films.
Continue reading ‘Vinu Chakravarthy With His Vibrant Voice and Emphatic Delivery Played Comedian,Villain and Character Actor Roles in Over 1000 Films’ »
Northern province chief minister Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran who possesses a remarkable flair for getting embroiled in controversial issues is in the eye of a storm again. This time it is over some remarks made by him during the course of a media interview on April 14th 2017.Mr. Wigneswaran was interviewed by a Tamil website called “Thinappuyal” meaning “Daily Storm”. Well, the interview has certainly caused a storm centering around the Northern chief minister.
Swami Premananda & Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran
While responding to a question by the interviewer, Mr. Wigneswaran had referred to Jesus Christ and Swami Premananda in a manner that appeared to draw an analogy between both. This reference has hurt the sentiments of Christians who regard Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” and believe in him as their “Lord and Saviour”. Many are angry that the chief minister was comparing Jesus Christ to a “Swami” or “God man” who was convicted of rape and murder by the Indian courts.
The Youtube posted on the web by “Thinappuyal” showed the interviewer asking Mr. Wigneswaran about his being a Premananda devotee and whether it was correct to be a devotee of a man convicted as a criminal by the courts. The ex-supreme court judge responded to the question by saying Jesus Christ was convicted 2000 years ago but people were worshipping him now as God. Mr. Wigneswaran re-iterated his point about Jesus Christ by saying again in Tamil “Avar oru Kuttravaali. Avarukku Marana Thandanai Theerkkappattathu. Aen Innum Kireesthavargal Avarai Iraivanaahap Paarkkiraargal”?(He was a criminal. He was convicted and given a death sentence. Why are Christians still seeing him as God”? The point Mr. Wigneswaran was trying to make through his counter question seemed to be that like Premananda, Jesus Christ too had been convicted 2000 years ago.
Mr. Wigneswaran’s remarks and question about Christians regarding Jesus Christ as God touched a raw nerve among Christians of all folds – Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals. It became a heated issue as the you tube was shared widely via Social media. Mr. Wigneswaran came in for heavy criticism for what was seen as a comparison between Jesus Christ and Premananda.Even several Tamil speaking Muslims took umbrage at this remark about “Eesaa Nabhi” as “Prophet” Jesus is referred in Islamic tenets.
Continue reading ‘C.V.Wigneswaran Hurts Christian Sentiments By Comparing Jesus Christ With Swami Premananda’ »
BY GAGANI WEERAKOON
President Maithripala Sirisena appeared to have stirred the hornets’ nest by suggesting a top military post to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who is also a Cabinet minister in Maithri-Ranil Unity Government of Yahalapanaya. While factual clarity of this ‘suggestion’ remain unconfirmed with various members of the same Cabinet issuing contradictory remarks, it is clear that Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s official statement made in his capacity as the Cabinet Spokesman led to all hell break loose. Even though, many opinions have been already expressed on the matter, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is more experienced in governance than President Sirisena by serving in the same office on two previous occasions, remains silent or rather has not issued any statement on the issue. This also leads to question the clarity of the suggestion vis-a-vis the said appointment.
President Sirisena who was under apparent influence of certain ministers who demanded that government take tough action against ‘unruly’ trade unions (TUs) had proposed a special Subcommittee headed by Minister Fonseka to make recommendations on how best to deal with emergency situations triggered by incidents such as disruption of the power supply, port activities and fuel distribution.
The idea was mooted against the backdrop of the disruption caused to fuel distribution by petroleum workers launching an indefinite duration strike against the move to lease the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm to an Indian Oil Company. The strike was called off on Monday night after an assurance given by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who left for India for talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Continue reading ‘Trade Unions Mount Pressure on President Sirisena in the Same Way as What Happened to Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike in 1956-59.’ »
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Three things came out of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India last week.
Those were India’s concerns over the leasing out of the Hambantota Port to the Chinese in a debt swap, India’s interest in the Trincomalee oil tank farm to counter the Chinese threat and Wickremesinghe’s keenness in getting Indian aid to develop certain northern roads linking up with the East and the’South’ of the country in a tourism promotional ‘putsch’.
Nonetheless, what figured, vis-à-vis the outcome of these New Delhi talks which Wickremesinghe had with the Indian hierarchy headed by Premier Narendra Modi was that the last thing that India would want, already surrounded by hostile neigbours, such as Pakistan to the North-West, China to the North-East , an uneasy relationship with Bangladesh to the East, to also have their southern flank comprising Sri Lanka, to be a launching pad for Chinese influence, thereby completing the encirclement of India. To India’s west and to a greater part of its eastern flank is the Indian Ocean.
India fought a border war with China in 1962 and lost thousands of square miles of territory to the latter. Meanwhile, since independence in 1947, India has also fought four wars with Pakistan, i.e. in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. All three warring neighbours, India, Pakistan and China, are also nuclear armed.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe Plays Politico-economic Chess With the Chinese Dragon,Indian Tiger and Trade Union Hyenas.’ »
“Sunday Times”Diplomatic Editor
Some say India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi neatly cajoled his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe into swinging by New Delhi, making what was to be a private visit to attend a wedding into a one-day ‘working visit’– and then got him entrapped to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Others rubbish such a theory, but it seems that someone tipped off Ceylon Petroleum Corporation trade unions and wound them up to threaten a strike if the Sri Lankan Premier signed an MOU in New Delhi. The MOU, inter-alia, would hand over some of the oil tanks in Trincomalee to the Indian Oil Company.
It was a known fact that Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakkody was against the move. He said so publicly and wanted an appointment with President Maithripala Sirisena to lodge a protest together with the trade unions. But the story goes that the President had not granted him an appointment on the basis that the Prime Minister was adamant in going ahead with the project and that it was in the premier’s hands. What followed was trade union action that caused havoc in and around petrol sheds in the country and traffic snarls from last Sunday night.
Wickremesinghe assured the trade unions thereafter that he would not sign any agreement with India in New Delhi without consulting the petroleum workers. But he had Strategic Development and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama do so in New Delhi. The MoU was not made public either.. They were both in the Hindi and English languages, with the English version to be considered in case of any interpretation issues.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Assured Trade Unions he Wont Sign MOU with India Without Consulting them and Got Malik Samarawickrama to do so in New Delhi’ »
BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
While the Ramayana narrative makes clear that a land link between India and Lanka was of decisive and devastating strategic consequence for the island of Lanka, the Romans and the British made it clear that the building of roadways was an essential part of annexation and empire building. What is true of imperialismsgone by is true of contemporary regional sub-imperialisms. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has discussed a highway linking India and Sri Lanka, and more accurately Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, in his meeting with Indian Minister of Highways Nitin Gadkari. The PM has also invited India to build highways in Sri Lanka’s North and East, linking Mannar and Vavuniya, and Mannar and Trincomalee.
DS Senayaka used the British connection – and the contentious Citizenship acts–to balance off India and minimize Indian influence on the island. SWRD and Sirimavo Bandaranaike sought to dilute Indian influence by immersing Sri Lankan in Afro-Asianism and the Non Aligned Movement. JR Jayewardene played North India off against Tamil secessionism and Tamil nadu. Premadasa played Tamil secessionism against Indian expansionism/annexationism. Lakshman Kadirgamar and then Mahinda Rajapaksa strove to “Look East”, and use China to balance off India and the US.
What was common to all of Sri Lanka’s leaders was to rightly regard as the worst case scenario, a nexus between India, Tamil nadu and Sri Lanka’s Tamil North. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has overturned all that. He has openly called for Sri Lanka’s economy to be linked with five South Indian states Indian states including Tamil nadu, and he is giving India a large foothold in Trincomalee and the island’s North in general, through highway building and economic projects. He is also hell-bent on signing ETCA which will allow greater penetration of the whole Sri Lankan economy by India.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Act of Treachery is Comparable to that of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.’ »
In what seemed an otherwise bhai-bhai friendship between the two countries, the sour point was the nagging, continuing issue of poaching in Sri Lankan waters by southern Indian fishermen. The crisis is causing an estimated Rs. Five billion loss annually to Sri Lanka.
Premier Modi said on March 13, 2015, addressing Sri Lanka’s Parliament: “The world sees India as the new frontier of economic opportunity. But, our neighbours should have the first claim on India. And I again repeat, the first claim on India is of our neighbours–of Sri Lanka”. And again, “Sri Lanka’s success is of great significance to India”. His “Neighbourhood First Policy’ is based on “Sabka Saath; Sabka Vikas” (Together we progress).
The Sri Lankan Fisheries Ministry, to its credit has kept pressing the poaching issue. Not only are the northern Sri Lankan Tamils being deprived of their livelihood, but the entire maritime resources of the Palk Bay/Gulf of Mannar area is being raped. Mindful of this, the Modi Government seems to move the Tamil Nadu state Government to take action together with the Central Government.
Continue reading ‘New Delhi Assures Colombothat Measures are being taken to Wean Tamil Nadu Fishermen Away from Poaching in the Territorial Waters of Sri Lanka’ »
If Sri Lankans are wondering how many times Sri Lanka has won approval for a renewed duty concession to the markets of the European Union (EU) under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus, they may be excused.
This week, there was another huge hurrah for having defeated the EU parliamentary vote on a resolution sponsored by a section of MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to prevent Sri Lanka obtaining GSP+ concessions. GSP Plus was revoked in 2011 during the Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration, ostensibly on negative human rights factors but, what many would concede, were on more political or diplomatic grounds.
A few months ago, both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced publicly that the EU had restored GSP+ to Sri Lanka and hailed it as a major victory for the new National Unity Government’s foreign policy. It was a premature announcement, as is this week’s defeat of a parliamentary putsch by a group of MEPs (heavily lobbied by the anti-Lankan Diaspora).
The outcome of the vote — there was a substantial margin of 436 votes against the resolution, 119 for and 22 abstentions — is not to be downplayed. It shows a major shift in approach to Sri Lanka by the EU Parliament, and that is clearly a change in attitude towards the nearly-new Government in Colombo. But there are still more steps along the way before Sri Lanka officially gets GSP+.
Continue reading ‘Anti-Lanka Resolution on GSP Plus Defeated in the European Parliament but Hurdles Still Ahead for Full Restoration’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
In the chaotic merry-go-round characterizing the drafting of Sri Lanka’s proposed Counter-Terror Act (CTA), the periodic surfacing of one version followed by another has given rise to unexpected horrors. Each time that a new draft emerges or should I rather say, is ‘extracted’ with great pain out of a process gripped by skullduggery and secrecy, its devious drafters conceive new and ingenious ways to confound scrutiny.
Legal clauses to mask and deceive
Even as one objection is taken to categorically dangerous definitions of proposed offences, these are whipped away, soothing the unwary. Yet later, they emerge, clothed in chameleon colours to mask and deceive. Nothing proves this point better than the CTA draft that went before the Cabinet of Ministers this week. This contains hasty revisions made on the cusp of a suddenly suspenseful vote in the European Parliament seeking a rejection of the EU GSP Plus facility which was defeated.
Ostensibly, its contents were supposed to have been improved. Yet what we see is not reassuring. The draft reeks of bad faith and is extraordinarily contradictory. Indeed and outrageously so, it contradicts explanations for drafting positions taken by the drafters themselves. Two glaring examples will suffice for the moment. The initial CTA version leaked to this newspaper last year had included the offence of espionage. Following public concern, this was removed in a later version. As formally recorded, the reason given for this removal was because this offence would more properly belong in a separate National Intelligence Act.
Continue reading ‘Secrecy and Skulduggery By Devious Drafters to Confound Scrutiny of Proposed Counter Terror Act’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
The Counter Terrorism Act policy framework approved by the Cabinet this week has reintroduced offences originally listed under “espionage”– whilst merely removing the word “espionage” from the document.
As such, the draft makes it an offence to voluntarily engage in any illegal, unlawful or unauthorised act for the purpose of gathering any ‘confidential information’ — or directly gather confidential information — “for the purpose of supplying such information to a person who is conspiring, preparing, abetting, or attempting to commit terrorism or any terrorism related offence or any other offence contained in this Act.”
It is also an offence to provide to another person any confidential information, knowing such information will be used by such other person to conspire, abet, attempt or commit terrorism or a terrorism-related offence or any other offence contained in the Act.
Continue reading ‘New Counter Terrorism Law Undermines Right To Information Law’ »
By Kasun Warakapitiya
Foreign workers, both with and without work visas, are arriving in Sri Lanka with the country facing an acute labour shortage, a cabinet minister said yesterday.
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka told the Sunday Times that an estimated 200,000 strong foreign labour force was in Sri Lanka.
He said the Government should have strict immigration regulations to check the influx of foreign workers.
The minister said a majority of the foreign workers were Indians, Bangladeshis and Maldivians. “We are facing a labour shortage even for simple tasks such cleaning up a well or harvesting, thereby creating a market for foreign labour. But we need to strictly regulate their arrival and departure,” he said.
Continue reading ‘Over 200,000 Foreign Workers From China, India, Bangladesh and Maldives in Sri Lanka With and Without Visas’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
Cabinet approval on a Resettlement Ministry paper to award 6,000 prefabricated houses to the war-affected of the North and East, was held up this week, after President Maithripala Sirisena sought further clarification.
Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan has been promoting the initiative of steel giant ArcelorMittal since 2015. Its logistics partner is Kumarca Engineering & Management (Pvt) Ltd, owned by controversial businessman Ravi Wettasinghe.
The Cabinet paper submitted on Tuesday by Minister Swaminathan mooted setting up 6,000 prefabricated steel frame houses, down from the initial 65,000 houses. Despite sustained opposition from civil society groups and the TNA, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEM) recently approved the amended proposal.
When it came before Cabinet on Tuesday, however, President Sirisena wanted to see the report of a Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee (CANC) that examined the terms and conditions of the project. The CANC, as previously published in the Sunday Times, has rejected the ArcelorMittal proposal and recommended that fresh tenders be called.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena seeks Further Clarification on Resettlement Ministry’s 6,000 Prefabricated Houses Project for N-E’ »
by Rajan Philips
“My legs have carried me for 90 years. Now they have earned their well-deserved rest”, he would tell his visitors at the Jesuit House in Akkara Panaha, Negombo, where he spent the last years of his life confined to his bed and a wheel chair. Now his entire mortal coil has earned its rest. Fr. Paul Caspersz, a priest of the order of the Society of Jesus for 65 years, died last Wednesday at the age of 92. His funeral was in Kandy, where he lived for over 40 years, and he was laid to rest at the Lewella Jesuit cemetery.
Fr. Paul Caspersz
It was difficult to see Fr Paul unable to walk, although he was otherwise his usual self. Tall and handsome, he was well proportioned in physical appearance. He was equally well adjusted in his character and in his bearing. He was inspired as a teenager to become a Jesuit and to go to Oxford as a Jesuit “after reading a page or two about Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits in the context of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation”, in the unlikeliest of sources: ‘A History of England’ by T.F. Tout. He accomplished both and remained true to his faith, his celibate life, and the fierce commitment of Jesuits to the first cause that inspired them. Fr. Paul was much more.
Continue reading ‘Celebrating the life of a Socialist Jesuit Priest: Fr Paul Caspersz, SJ (1925-2017)’ »
India and Sri Lanka have arrived at a compromise on the sensitive and problematic issue of the Trincomalee oil tanks, with both sides climbing down from their earlier positions but gaining some ground at the same time.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation of Economic Projects signed in New Delhi on April 25 in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, India has agreed to the Sri Lankan proposal to refurbish and use the 99 giant oil tanks as a “Joint Venture” between the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
Previously, by the tripartite agreement signed in 2003, the tanks were to be refurbished and used entirely by the LIOC on a 35 year lease, though there was a provision for the Sri Lankan government to use the tanks for “national and security” purposes when needed.
The Sri Lankan government had mooted the idea of developing and running the tanks as a Joint Venture in 2016 because it felt that it needed a certain number of tanks (the number varied from time to time) under its control to store fuel for power generation during an expected drought.
There were also proposals for a wholesale takeover of the tanks from the LIOC on the grounds that the 2003 agreement was legally flawed and also that India had developed only 17 of the 99 tanks since taking them over.
Continue reading ‘India and Sri Lanka Reach Mutually Beneficial Compromise on Problematic Issue of Trincomalee Oil Tanks’ »
What though the spicy breezesBlow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle; Though every prospect pleases, And only man is vile – Anglican Bishop Reginald Heber
Old Parliament with Secretariat behind, 1930s (Plate & Co.)
The British gave us a nation that was respected regionally and globally. In an earlier article, I stated that the leading companies in Sri Lanka today bear British names and were started by them. The Ceylon Civil Service was exemplary in the region. The universities were top class. Even the legendary Father of Singapore looked to Ceylon as an example of what Singapore could be. How ironic!
Today, students go to Singapore to study and leaders in business and government go to Singapore for almost everything, even medical treatment. Today, we look to Singapore to learn how to run a civil service, hotels, universities and hospitals. I could go on and on.
What have we done in the last 60-plus years? What has happened to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans? Was the good Bishop right as early as the 18th Century? I know he angered a lot of people with this observation. Would he be right today?
I am a Sri Lankan-born American who left the then Ceylon at the age of 10. My late father Emmanuel Muttukumaru, a lawyer and agriculture expert, served in the United Nations with some of the legends of Sri Lanka. They include one of the stars of the then Ceylon Civil Service Andrew Joseph, one of Asia’s most respected journalists Varindra Tarzie Vittachi, Gamani Corea and Raju Coomaraswamy. They were contemporaries and very good friends. My father and the eighth Speaker of the Ceylon Parliament Shirley Corea, were both lawyers in Chilaw and Chairmen of the Planters Association. What has happened today to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka?
What I see should disturb every Sri Lankan today, especially the comfortable and complacent elite and those in positions of leadership and power in business and government. How many times have we heard the phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility”?
Continue reading ‘What Has Happened to Ceylon and to the Ceylonese?’ »
Emily Jane Fox
A group of young boys on bicycles stopped in their tracks outside of a pizza shop as Ivanka Trump drove by in a tan S.U.V., in the middle of a flashing motorcade on her trip to Germany in her new role.
Throngs of police officers and Secret Service officers wove through the 2,711 concrete rectangles arranged in a grid outside of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Through each pillar, officers were hurrying the scores of smartphone-wielding revelers and members of the international press away as they buffered Trump to walk through.
Continue reading ‘US First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s First Official Visit to Germany Was a Success Until She Began Defending Her Father.’ »
To make up for lost time and avoid delays in the execution of joint projects, India and Sri Lanka have agreed on a tight time table in respect of each of the projects mentioned in the MoU signed in New Delhi on April 25 in the presence of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Informed sources in New Delhi told newsin.asia that the two countries agreed that projects will be executed by “Joint Ventures” between Indian and Sri Lankan entities, and that the first moves in respect of each will be made between May and July.
The sources stressed the Joint Ventures aspect of the MoU to allay fears in Sri Lanka that India is out to gobble up Sri Lanka’s resources by executing projects unilaterally.
Continue reading ‘India Involved Projects in Sri Lanka Will Be Developed As Joint Ventures to Allay Fears in Island of Indian Expansion.’ »
By K. Ratnayake
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has called upon Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to resign from the government’s ministry and return to the position of army commander. In a bid to “discipline the country,” Fonseka would be head of the country’s three armed forces for two years.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne announced the president’s request at a media conference on Wednesday. His statements revealed extensive discussions in the previous day’s cabinet meeting over how to suppress mounting strikes, protests and unrest among workers and youth, and prevent any disruption to state-run entities or the operations of the corporate elite.
The immediate incident that rattled the government was a strike on Monday at the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which halted fuel supplies in the entire country.
The proposal made to Fonseka is a warning that the government of Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is planning an escalating assault against workers, the poor and young people.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena’s Proposal to Fonseka is a Warning that Govt is Planning an Escalating Assault Against Workers, Young Persons and the Poor.’ »
By Charumini de Silva
The Government yesterday expressed confidence that the country will regain the GSP plus trade concession by 15 May and called on the business community to make this a ‘turning point’ in the economy to increase the country’s exports to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio over 100%.
“Sri Lanka overcame the biggest hurdle to secure GSP+ trade facilitation on Thursday by defeating a motion to deny us the trade concession at the European parliament. It has now been forwarded to the 28 member European Union Council of Ministers for approval. There are some procedural matters that need addressing, after which I am confident we will get GSP+ by 15 May,” Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva told journalists in Colombo yesterday.
With the regain of GSP+, he said, some 6,600 products could enter European Union (EU) markets without any tax, which he called a ‘massive scope’ that Sri Lanka needs to now exploit for economic prosperity.
Continue reading ‘Govt is Confident Sri Lanka will Regain the GSP Plus Trade Concession From EU by May 15th.’ »
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday listed a litany of wrongs that President Maithripala Sirisena had committed against the party since becoming its leader and vowed to give leadership to the opposition forces to defeat the ineffective government.
He also openly defied the threats made by the SLFP’s current leadership and urged everyone to attend the anti-government rally at Galle Face on May Day.
The text of Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statement is as follows –
“In January 2015, a new leader took over an undivided SLFP. I made no attempt to retain the leadership of the SLFP at that time because of the need to preserve the unity of the party through which all of us had engaged in politics. Both I and the party rank and file believed that no harm would befall the party under the leadership of an individual who had been a party member for four decades and its General Secretary for 13 years. Even though many members of the opposition felt we should have contested the 2015 Parliamentary election separately, we contested that election under the SLFP and the UPFA because of our desire to protect the party. Even at that time, we did have serious misgivings about the new SLFP leader’s conduct”.
“The moment he became president, the present leader of the SLFP gave the Prime Ministership to the UNP which had only 43 Members of Parliament. Though this sent shock waves through the membership of the SLFP, there was the expectation that things would change once he became the leader of the SLFP. But that too did not happen”.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Provides List of Wrongs Committed by Maithripala Sirisena against SLFP’ »
Robert Jonathan Demme, film director, born 22 February 1944; died 26 April 2017
Jonathan Demme, who has died aged 73 from complications from cancer, rose from his colourful if tawdry beginnings under the aegis of the exploitation maestro Roger Corman to become one of the most eclectic, delightful and original film-makers in Hollywood. He also happened to be one of the nicest: the compassionate sensibility that lent his work its warmth and musicality was no put-on. Plainly put, he loved people.
Even his darkest work, such as the hit thriller The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which gave him his first taste of box-office success nearly two decades into his career and also brought him a best director Oscar, had a beguiling tenderness about it. For all that film’s gruesome frights, it was the connection between the FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and her macabre mentor, the serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), that lent the film its emotional bite.
His movies could be bewilderingly diverse – he made the innovative concert film Stop Making Sense (1984), the uproarious screwball thriller Something Wild (1986), the Aids drama Philadelphia (1993) and a remake of The Manchurian Candidate (2004) – but they were united by their colour and vim, as well as a deep-seated sense of conscientiousness and community. Demme cared deeply about what he put on the screen.
Continue reading ‘Jonathan Demme Who Directed Films Like “The Silence Of The Lambs” and “Philadelphia” Dies at 73 of Cancer Complications’ »
Sudha G Tilak.
Vinod Khanna, who has died aged 70, belonged to the second wave of Punjabi heroes who ruled Bollywood – known as “Partition Punjabis”.
His family hailed from Peshawar in Pakistan and had moved to India in 1947 when the country was divided.
The heroes on screen then were all swashbuckling heroes known for their strapping good looks, cultivated on screen mannerisms and individual styles.
He embodied all that but also brought all the panache of 1970s cinema to his acting.
Continue reading ‘Vinod Khanna The Villain Turned Hero Actor With Muscles and Good Looks Passes Away at 70’ »
Sri Lanka’s north and east shut down on Thursday following a hartal call by protesters demanding an answer from the government to questions about their missing relatives. Shops remained closed all day and transport services were minimal, media reports said.
Over the last few months, families have been protesting in different places across Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority areas, voicing concern over the allegedly enforced disappearances of their relatives during the three-decade war and the years that followed.
Amnesty International estimates that since the 1980s, there have been at least 60,000 and as many as 100,000 cases of enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka, including Tamils, who went missing during and after the war, and Sinhalese, who were disappeared around the time of the JVP youth uprisings.
Continue reading ‘Shops Closed and Transport Curtailed as Hartal is Observed Successfully in Sri Lanka’s North and East’ »
The main left front of the Joint Opposition (JO), the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL), indicated a break with the JO and that they will conduct a separate May Day rally and meeting at the Viharamahadevi Open Air theater on May Day instead of participating in the May Day rally of the JO, which will be held at Galle Face Green on the same day.
Continue reading ‘Communist Party Unhappy With Joint Opposition Political Agenda Will Hold Separate May Day Rally at Viharamahadevi Open air Theatre’ »
(POWER SHARING IN SRI LANKA -S.J.V. Chelvanayagam Memorial lecture– delivered by Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine on 26thApril 2017)
S.J.V. Chelvanayagam Memorial lecture-2017-pic via: @TNAmediaoffice
When we were political cubs, we knew of Chelvanayagam as one who was the “father” figure of Tamil Nationalism.He was one Tamil political leader who was affectionately called “Thanthai” – meaning‘Father’ –Chelva. Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam dominated Tamil politics in the first 03 decades in post independent Ceylon.
I would say that Chelvanayagam was fortunate. He did not live to see the agony of the Tamil people and of Sri Lanka that got dragged into a long brutal war. He was fortunate that he was not there to shoulder the heavy responsibility that his most favoured political recruit, R. Sampanthan, is burdened with now as leader of TNA.
Chelvanayagam was a man of principles. He never compromised on his convictions and principles.He differed with leaders like G.G.PonnambalamaSnr. in the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) and C. Suntheralingam on the issue of disfranchising the Indian origin Tamil labour. He stood by their rights consistently, as Prof. RatnajeevanHoole had recently confirmed.
Continue reading ‘SJV Chelvanayagam Was Fortunate He Did Not Live to See the Agony of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka.’ »
President Maithripala Sirisena today appointed 25 senior lawyers including TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, J. C. Weliamuna, Upul Jayasuriya and Nizam Kariapper as President’s Counsel.
A statement from the President’s office said these lawyers were appointed in recognition of their professional integrity and diligence.
Continue reading ‘25 Senior Lawyers Including JC Weliamuna,MA Sumanthiran and Nizam Kariapper Appointed as President’s Counsel by President Sirisena’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former Ceylon Bank Employees Union President and civil society activist Rusiripala Tennakoon yesterday urged the ruling Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition and the Joint Opposition to state their position on alleged moves to impose a staggering 28 per cent tax on Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Pointing out that the JVP, which had worked overtime to oust the Rajapaksa administration, had accused the yahapalana rulers of planning to tax the EPF, Tennakoon said that move had to be condemned, opposed and thwarted.
The trade union activist said that the entire private sector was in a dilemma over the government move and expected a clear statement from it in that regard. Responding to a query, Tennakoon emphasised that all political parties and trade union organizations should address the EPF issue on May Day this year.
Continue reading ‘Public Outcry Against Govt Proposal to Impose 28% Tax on Employees Provident Fund(EPF)’ »
In the wake of a crippling petroleum strike and a wave of protests against the Government, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne made a shock announcement yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena had requested wartime army chief Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka to take over the military as commander or Chief of Defence Staff in order to bring “discipline” to the country.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet briefing last afternoon, Minister Senaratne said that a series of political motivated strikes and trade union action were disrupting public life with the aim of toppling the ruling Government. The former army commander turned politician and cabinet minister, Fonseka was the “best person” to control the situation, the Cabinet Spokesman added.
“A country without discipline can never develop. Everyone knows that Sarath Fonseka is a very disciplined official,” Senaratne added.
A room full of shocked reporters at the Government Information Department repeatedly requested clarification on the development.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka Ready to Take Over Responsibility of “Disciplining”The Country if He is Given the Necessary Powers.’ »
By Paneetha Ameresekere reporting from New Delhi
China ranked high in Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s meeting with Indian Premier Narendra Modi, at Hyderabad House, New Delhi yesterday, official sources who didn’t want to be named told this reporter.
Reporters were not allowed to cover these meetings, with opportunities provided only for the taking of photographs and to be present when pleasantries were exchanged between Wickremesinghe and Indian officials, including Modi, before the beginning of talks, during the former’s various engagements in Delhi.
Wickremesinghe’s official engagements concluded yesterday.
Continue reading ‘Indian Prime Minister Raises Concerns Over China and Hambantota Port in Direct Talks With the Sri Lankan Premier’ »
“New Silk Road or New Great Game? India Developing New Sri Lanka Port to Combat China” (Wayne Shepard, Forbes, April 21, 2017)
“Will they leave?” was the urgent question President Premadasa posed to me after having kept me behind as Varadarajah Perumal and the others left the meeting at Sucharitha in January 1989 when the new Chief Minister and Cabinet of the North-East Provincial Council met the newly elected President, Ranasinghe Premadasa for the first time.
I knew he was asking about the Indians and replied: “From what I gather, they hope to keep back two brigades in Trincomalee”.
Trincomalee was always the greatest prize but only Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and this Government are ready to give it to our neighbour, India. President Premadasa’s question remains relevant: “Will they leave?” With the solid commercial agreement that the PM is about to commit our country to, they probably will not, and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get them to leave.
I am appalled that the JVP and FSP, which needlessly spilled Southern blood allegedly against Indian expansionism, including the FSP leader, who sincerely and bravely fought against foreign troops in Trincomalee, are not spearheading a nationwide mobilisation against this historic geopolitical and economic treachery.
Continue reading ‘Why is Prime Minister Wickremesinghe About to Give Away Trincomalee to India?’ »
Cabinet Co-spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said today there was the possibility that Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka would be appointed to a post that would allow him to oversee all of the defense establishments in the country.
While the Cabinet Co-spokesperson declined to offer more details on the powers the post would be vested with, he did say the President has broached the subject with the Regional Development Minister, who had shown his acquiescence.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka to Be Given Top Post in Defence Establishment With Powers to “Discipline” People Engaging in Protests.’ »
India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “Cooperation in Economic
Projects” during the on-going visit of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India. The MoU envisages joint ventures in several areas of development.
Wickremesinghe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, welcomed the signing of the MoU and expressed satisfaction over the implementation of projects already agreed upon. They hoped that the various projects mentioned in the MoU would also be executed expeditiously.
Continue reading ‘India and Sri Lanka Sign Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi For “Cooperation in Economic Projects”Including Trinco.’ »
Sri Lanka’s cabinet, on Wednesday granted approval to hand over some elephants from an elephant orphanage in the Central Hills of Pinnawala, to individuals and religious places under definite conditions.
The Government Information Department said the maintenance of the present number of 88 elephants in a restricted land area of 30 acres at Pinnawala had become a difficult task.
Accordingly, the proposal made by Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, to provide some elephants to individuals and religious places under definite conditions, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Continue reading ‘“Excess” Elephants from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to be Handed Over to Private Individuals and Religious Institutions.’ »
Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today the President Maithripala Sirisena requested Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to quit the ministerial portfolio and take up the post of army commander or overall commander for two years to discipline the country.
He told the weekly Cabinet briefing that Field Marshal Fonseka was known as a well-disciplined character in the country and that he would expedite investigations over several issues as well.
Minister Senaratne said the Field Marshal had agreed to quit his ministerial portfolio and take up the post if he was given proper powers and responsibility.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena wants Sarath Fonseka to Resign as Cabinet Minister and Take Up Top Defence Post to Discipline the Country.’ »
By Ananth Palakidnar
Several hundred rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres, both men and women, presently serving in the Civil Security Department (CSD), staged a demonstration yesterday against the handing over of Army-managed agricultural farms and pre-schools to the Northern Provincial Council.
The procession of ex-LTTE cadres, which commenced at the Kilinochchi Depot junction, on the A-9 highway, ended at the Kilinochchi District Secretariat.
A large number of rehabilitated former LTTE cadres, carrying placards went in the procession, chanting slogans demanding that their livelihood not be hampered by handing over the agricultural farms, managed by the Army, to the Northern Provincial Council.
Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated EX-LTTE Cadres Protest Against Army managed Farms Providing Jobs to Them Being Transferred to Northern Provincial Council’ »
by Nirupama Subramanian
When the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a working lunch on Wednesday, an agreement for the development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm will be the hottest dish on the table.
Sri Lankan and Indian government sources said the two sides will finalise an MoU for a joint venture to develop the 99-tank storage facility, which is an extension of Trincomalee Port, ahead of Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka for the United Nations Vesak Day celebrations in the second week of May.
In Sri Lanka, news of the impending deal triggered a strike Monday by unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to protest “the handing over of a national asset” to India. The strike created panic and chaos at petrol pumps, and massive traffic jams in Colombo.
Continue reading ‘India Gets to Develop Trinco Tank Farm in China Bay To Balance China Constructing Port City in Colombo’ »
Suhasini Haidar & Meera Srinivasan
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday for official meetings expected to finalise an MoU on developing energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee, as well as fast-tracking negotiations for the upgraded Free Trade Agreement —the ETCA (Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement) — both of which face opposition in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Wickremsinghe, whose visit is also expected to confirm a number of agreements to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka next month, May 12-14, will meet with Mr. Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Trincomalee oil storage
MEA officials said they hoped to see the agreement on the Trinco Oil storage, which was first negotiated in 2003, as well as the development of infrastructure — highways, power plants, a refinery and an SEZ — around the key port town of Trincomalee to be wrapped up during Mr. Wickremsinghe’s talks on Wednesday.
Continue reading ‘Lankan PM Arrives in New Delhi to Sign Fast-tracked MOU’s While Opposition Protests Against Agreements with India’ »
By Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
The victory in Round One of the French elections and his highly probable election as the new President of France on May 7th, of Emmanuel Macron, the young outsider with a neo-Centrist or ‘Alt-Centrist’ stance, underscores that the global trend goes against conventional, traditional, established Governments and Oppositions, and favors unorthodox, out of the box, alternative personalities, outside the established party structures and system, with new political fusions/mixes, discourses and projects of Alt-Right, Alt-Left and Alt-Centre.
It was Albert Einstein who is said to have defined insanity as trying to do the same thing and expecting a different result. The Opposition, including its new wing the SLPP, is doing just that. It is expecting that the formula of a purely and exclusively Mahinda-centric,Centre-Left populist nationalism, which narrowly lost two national elections in 2015, can win in 2019-2020, without much change and solely on the basis of the unpopularity of the Government of the day.
This county was the victim of the same erroneous thinking on the part of an earlier version of the Opposition, led by Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, which kept the UNP in office and the Opposition out for 17 long and bloody years, until a new factor was introduced into the equation- namely Chandrika, in 1992-1994.
Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in a National Election Can Re-unify the SLFP and Cut Into UNP Votes.’ »
Agitations against major Indian and Chinese projects in Sri Lanka, trigged by a fear of domination by these powers, may adversely affect the investment climate in the island and reduce the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at a time when Sri Lanka desperately needs FDI to tide over a severe resource crunch.
Because of politically-inspired agitations by workers and political parties, work on the China-funded and built US$.1.4 billion Colombo Port City was stopped for nearly an year in 2015. Changes sought in the management system to run the China-funded and built US$ 1.4 billion Hambantota port after an opposition led agitation, created a major rift between Sri Lanka and China.
The sudden stoppage of work on the India-funded 500 mw power plant in Sampur caused dismay in India. And now, demands are being made for the retrieval of the 99 oil storage tanks in Trincomalee given to India through a bilateral agreement in 2003. This has upset India.
While both India and China will try to adjust to the unstable and unpredictable political situation in Sri Lanka given the strategic need to have a foothold in the island, Sri Lanka’s stock as a destination for FDI is bound to fall if policy instability induced by a volatile polity becomes endemic.
Continue reading ‘Politically Motivated Protests Against Chinese and Indian Projects May Affect Foreign Investments in Sri Lanka’ »
The government is reportedly considering bringing garbage disposal under a centralized authority and to legislate a law on garbage recycling. In the meantime, untended rubbish is piling up by the road side.
Garbage is not funny business. A year or so back when rubbish piles heaped up in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon in the midst of a grinding power struggle that left the government rudderless, it was viewed as the most conspicuous sign of the state failure.
Perception is sometimes far more powerful than reality. We hope our government would manage to clear up the mess before people, perhaps prematurely, take it for a failure and react accordingly.
Continue reading ‘Our Provincial Councils are “White Elephants” Not Due to Lack of Powers But Due to Lack of Competent Persons to Run Them.’ »
By Tejshree Thapa
(The writer is a senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.)
The refrain I heard over and over again, travelling through Sri Lanka’s southern Sinhala belt, was this: “Politicians rise on the bodies of our dead children.”
Parent after parent, across political divides, repeated this phrase. Politicians, they said, promise justice and accountability only to win votes. But when the time comes to act on the tens of thousands of enforced disappearances, killings, cases of torture and sexual violence, and other grave human rights abuses by all sides during Sri Lanka’s nearly three decades of civil war, they all renege on their campaign vows.
The sense of despair is palpable, even as people cling to the hope of justice for their dead children.
Continue reading ‘Need for International Attention For Possible Justice and Accountability is an Element Uniting North and South of Sri Lanka.’ »
By Frances Bulathsinghala
Concealed from privileged city dwellers, tucked away from posh tourist resorts and invisible to policy makers are the rubbish dumps in the cities of South Asia. But the thick wall of apathy cracked on April 14 when a 300 ft high mountain of garbage, allowed to build up for years in the low-lying Colombo suburb of Meetotamulla in Kolonnawa, came crashing, killing at least 33 persons, destroying 98 homes and displacing 600.
The local people saw this as ‘murder’ rather than accidental death. They had warned the authorities of such a disaster, had protested for years against the open dumping of garbage but the protesters were silenced by arrests and imprisonment.
Until the disaster struck, 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city were dumped in the Meetotamulla area occupied mostly by a low-income group. The fact that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to wear a face mask when visiting the site to offer his condolences for the deaths that occurred, showed what the people had to endure for years.
Meetotamulla families were assured that no more garbage would be dumped in the area. But when garbage was taken to other areas like Kotikawatte, another Colombo suburb, people protested. As a result, a gazette notification was issued making garbage collection an essential service and prohibiting protest against garbage disposal.
Continue reading ‘Corruption and Political Indifference Undermines Garbage Disposal Management in South Asia’ »
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unionists last night decided to call off their strike which had crippled fuel distribution throughout the country. Their decision to abandon trade union action came following an assurance given by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he would not enter into an agreement with India on the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm.
Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister, issued a letter that the Prime Minister had agreed to grant the three demands put forward by the warring unions.
The other demands are the renovation of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery and bringing Hambantota oil refinery under the CPC.
Continue reading ‘Petroleum Coropration Strike Ends After Govt Agrees to Not Give Trincomalee Oil Tank farm to India’ »
By Norman Palihawadane
Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said that the government had the power to dump garbage at any location found suitable for the purpose and none could oppose that action.
Commenting on Colombo Bishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s warning to the government not to use police and security forces against the people protesting against government dumping garbage at their residential areas, the Minister said: “None could protest against this move by way of a solution to the garbage crisis in the capital. It is illegal. The government decision has been backed by the courts, too. The government has decided to dispose garbage collected in the city at several selected places. We have selected those places after studying the suitability of the locations for the purpose. Now, those with vested interests and working for their political survival cannot come and tell us that those places are not suitable.
Cardinal Ranjith on Monday pointed out that it would be counterproductive for a government to use police and military personnel to force the public to allow the dumping of garbage in their environs.
Continue reading ‘None Can Protest Against Govt Dumping Garbage at any Suitable Location says Rajitha Senaratne’ »
by Norman Palihawadane
Bishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has said it will be counterproductive for a government to use police and military personnel to force the public to allow the dumping of garbage in their environs, he said.
Continue reading ‘Govt Using Army and Police to Forcibly Dump Garbage Against People’s Protests Will Be Couterproductive Warns Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.’ »
A scientific study of garbage disposal in Colombo done by EML Consultants Pivate Ltd.,for the Central Environment Authority (CEA) had concluded that sanitary land filling would be the only practical way of disposing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Colombo, the Ministry’s former Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said here on Thursday.
Speaking to Daily Express, Rajapaksa said that the final report released by the Ministry of Urban Development in August 2015, had recommended that sanitary land filling should take place at Aruwakkalu in Puttalam district, 170 km from Colombo.
The garbage, collected and stored at Meetotamulla in the outskirts of Colombo, should be transported to Aruwakkalu by rail on a daily basis. Taking it by road was ruled out. At Aruwakkalu it was to be dumped in a disused limestone mine which was attached to the Holcim cement factory. The disused mine has a capacity of 4,700,000m
Continue reading ‘Scientific Study Recommended Garbage Collected at Meethotamulla to be Taken by Train Daily to be Dumped in Disused Limestone Mine at Aruvaakkallu -Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »
by Jeremy Luedi
Increased international interest in the Indian Ocean comes at a convenient time for Sri Lanka, as the country continues to recoup after the end of its decades-long civil war which ended in 2009. The island nation is being courted (and courting in turn) by various major powers, each seeking a stake in developing Sri Lanka’s strategic location midway between the Middle East and the Straits of Malacca. While opportunities present themselves, all this attention also comes with its own set of complications.
International actors, notably India and Japan have become increasingly concerned about the level of Chinese investment and influence in Sri Lanka. This has in turn set off a flurry of activity among all parties to secure Sri Lanka’s favours. On April 12th, Prime Ministers Abe and Wickremesinghe met to discuss furthering bilateral cooperation. This is PM Wickremesinghe’s second visit to Japan since coming to power in 2015, and his ninth overall. The meeting resulted in $410 million in Japanese loans for Sri Lankan infrastructure projects, as well as $9.2 million in grant aid for the development of the Trincomalee port.
Other recent developments include Japan’s decision to appoint a special representative to coordinate development in Sri Lanka, as well as a code sharing agreement between Sri Lankan Airlines and JAL which will help facilitate six new routes between Japan and South Asia, aiding trade and tourism ties between Colombo and Tokyo.
Continue reading ‘China,India and Japan in Great Game of Competing for the Harbours of Sri Lanka.’ »
NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka may find it difficult to wriggle out of China’s clutches because of the massive debt it owes to Beijing but to balance things out, it is now set to allow India to jointly develop the Trincomalee port in northeastern part of the country.
Diplomatic sources said Sri Lanka has readied an MoU for joint development of the project and that it’s likely to be signed during PM Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Colombo.
Official sources also confirmed that Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe would visit India this month to review bilateral ties.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Offers Trincomalee to India to Counter Balance Giving Hambantota to China’ »
The civilians in Mullaitivu have launched a protest against the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) expanding its presence in the Mullaitivu District by acquiring nearly 617 acres for the expansion of the Navy presence in the Mullaitivu District.
The civilian protest is led by the Wanni Electoral District, Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian, Dr. S. Sivamohan in the vicinity of the Navy base which was established in the Mullaitivu District close to the Nanthikadal lagoon in September 2013.
The SLN base has been named SLNS Gotabaya after former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa .
Continue reading ‘Protest Launched in Mullaitheevu Against Further Expansion of “SLNS Gotabhaya” Naval Base by 617 Acres’ »
Although New Delhi and Colombo have expressed satisfaction over recent bilateral talks on the Palk Bay fishing conflict, northern Sri Lankan fishermen say a much-needed long-term solution remains elusive.
Following resistance from the fisherfolk and some efforts taken by the two governments, the number of Indian trawlers coming into Sri Lankan waters has reduced, observe fishermen. However, fully resolving the crisis requires greater political will from the two governments and sympathy from fisher leaders in Tamil Nadu, they emphasise.
“The talks are simply dragging without any major decision. This delay is only to the Indian fishermen’s advantage, because they somehow get the extension they wanted,” says Mannar-based fisher leader Mohamed Alam, referring to Tamil Nadu fisher leaders’ earlier demand for three more years to phase out bottom trawling, which Sri Lanka rejected.
Continue reading ‘Indo-Lanka Talks on Fishing Keep Dragging on While Tamil Nadu Trawlers Continue Destructive Poaching in Northern Waters’ »
It is with great sadness that I write for the first time on my Blog after the advent of the April traditional new year “Hevilambi”! My first post for the new year is the last post for the Editor who first recruited me as a journalist.
Kandasamy Sivapragasam , Former Editor -in – chief of the “Virakesari” Group of newspapers published by the Express Newspapers (Ceylon)Ltd in Sri Lanka breathed his last on April 14th at the age of 81 in the USA. He passed away peacefully with his children and family members by his side on Friday April 14 just prior to noon EST in Fairfax, Virginia.
It was just a few days ago that I completed forty years as a journalist. I joined the Tamil newspaper “Virakesari” as a trainee journalist on April 11th 1977. It was K.Sivapragasam who gave me my first break in journalism and guided me as a reporter and feature writer during my formative years on the newspaper. I worked under him in the “Virakesari” from April 1977 to November 1981 until I moved away from Tamil journalism to English journalism by joining “The Island”edited by Vijitha Yapa.It is with much grief therefore that I write the news of his death here. I shall be writing an extensive tribute in due course.
Continue reading ‘Former “Virakesari” Editor-in-Chief K. Sivapragasam Passes Away Peacefully in Virginia’ »
SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA
The dreadful tragedy of Meethotamulla has shocked even those who usually go about minding their own business, to spin around and look back at what could possibly have led to such needless waste of human lives. In a country that faced frequent terrorist violence in its main streets for decades and yet was resilient, Meethotamulla struck like a sharp knife in the collective gut of the country’s conscience. It’s a wound that’s refusing to heal until each of us finds answers.
Conversations with cab drivers, social media posts, speak to this need. Today, my cabbie told me that several thousand people come in to Colombo each day, and if they could bring their lunch in their own lunch box like he did, rather than wrapped in paper, tens of thousands of plastic papers could be eliminated from the city’s dustbins. Many people are trying to find ways of helping with the problem of garbage, taking individual responsibility for this enormous tragedy and resolving to do whatever they can to prevent a recurrence.
Continue reading ‘What Prevents President Sirisena From Acting Before Tragedy Strikes and Lives are Lost?’ »
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — In the ruins of a tropical hideaway where jetsetters once sipped rum under the Caribbean sun, the abandoned children tried to make a life for themselves. They begged and scavenged for food, but they never could scrape together enough to beat back the hunger, until the U.N. peacekeepers moved in a few blocks away.
The men who came from a far-away place and spoke a strange language offered the Haitian children cookies and other snacks. Sometimes they gave them a few dollars. But the price was high: The Sri Lankan peacekeepers wanted sex from girls and boys as young as 12.
“I did not even have breasts,” said a girl, known as V01 — Victim No. 1. She told U.N. investigators that over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents. Sometimes she slept in U.N. trucks on the base next to the decaying resort, whose once-glamorous buildings were being overtaken by jungle.
Justice for victims like V01 is rare. An Associated Press investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years found nearly 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and other personnel around the world — signaling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, the AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.
Legally, the U.N. is in a bind. It has no jurisdiction over peacekeepers, leaving punishment to the countries that contribute the troops.
Continue reading ‘134 Sri Lankan Soldiers Stationed as UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Abused 9 Children From 2004 to 2007 in Sex Ring’ »
The landslide disaster at Meetotamulla within Colombo city limits last Friday, in which a 300 ft high mountain of garbage came down on hapless slum dwellers killing 26 and wrecking 84 houses fully and 36 partially, could have been averted if steps had been taken to remove the dump even as late as January 2016.
With 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city being dumped there everyday in a haphazard fashion, people living around the mound had been in constant fear of being buried under three million tons of muck, in case there were exceptionally heavy rains or an earth tremor.
They had approached the court and agitated on the street under the leadership of Attorney at Law Nuwan Bopage. But to no avail.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa government, which did a lot for urban development, had a plan to shift the dump to Aruwakkalu in Puttalam district and carry the garbage from Colombo by rail every day. But the shifting did not take place for want of environmental clearance. The people of Meetotamulla allege that politically connected contractors who collected and deposited garbage and the Municipal Council had a vested interest in a “non-change” policy.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Govt Plan to Dump Meethotamulla Garbage in Puttalam was Stopped by Politically Connected Contractors’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Collective of Civil Society Organizations has urged the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration to inquire into war crimes allegations in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the government.
Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana on Tuesday (April 18), Akalanka Hettiarachchi (Aluth Parapura) emphasized that all those who had perpetrated crimes during the war and post-conflict should be dealt forthwith.
Continue reading ‘Civil Society Organizations Collective wants Govt to Probe War Crimes Allegations in Accordance with UN Resolution Co-sponsored by Lanka’ »
By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
A few days after the Meethotamulla tragedy in Sri Lanka, a referendum was held in Turkey. The people of Turkey rejected Western liberal warnings and voted in favour of an executive presidency.
The Meethotamulla tragedy, which occurred utterly inauspiciously as it were during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holiday, was symbolic. Two years into the neoliberal Yahapalana government (and a perennially UNP Municipal Council), at least 30 people died horribly, buried under an avalanche of a visibly growing mountain of garbage, neglected and deprioritised despite warnings (including from Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith) and protests by the residents.
It is eerily symbolic of this government’s policies and performance which taken together is a growing pile of dangerous neglect and toxicity, which will bury this country and its people under the collective and growing weight of its colossal callousness and incompetence.
It is clear. This country will have to bury this government under an electoral avalanche first, or this Government will bury us. Furthermore, it seems imperative to retain the Executive Presidency to put in place the kind of strong leader who has the foresight and ability to save us from yet another such catastrophe by timely and determined action. It would be fortunate if the country had the choice of a person who has proven successful in matters of conceptualizing and managing urban development and renewal, to work the same developmental miracle on a national scale, leaving no garbage dump, literal or metaphorical, uncleared. We need a man who strategized, organized, cut through red tape and managed to clear all ‘uncleared’ areas.
Continue reading ‘Meethotamulla Tragedy Shows that Unless Country Buries this Govt in Electoral Avalanche First the Govt Will Bury Us’ »
Politics, rather than science, is playing an important role in marine fisheries governance especially in South Asian countries, said Maarten Bavinck, a Dutch scientist, whose research projects include providing space for small scale fishers of India and Sri Lanka.
“The dispute between India and Sri Lanka over the fishing activities in the Palk Bay remain unsolved mainly due to political reasons, he said while delivering a lecture on ‘Tropical Marine Fisheries Governance: The Way Forward’, organised by the Marine Biological Association of India (MBAI) at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) on Tuesday.
Bavinck, a professor at the University of Amsterdam in Netherlands said the Tamil Nadu Government should initiate steps to reduce its fishing fleets in the Palk Bay to resolve the conflict in the region.
“Trawling needs to be contained in the Palk Bay, where fishing activities across the international boundary line have been causing social and economic hardship for around 25,000 small scale fishermen and their families in Northern Sri Lanka. This has led to political tensions between the neighbours”, he said.
Continue reading ‘Trawling by Tamil Nadu Fishers in Palk Bay Causes Hardship for 25.000 Small Scale Fifing Families of Northern Sri Lanka’ »
Padma Rao Sundarji
Mahinda Rajapaksa was President of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015. He is a human rights lawyer by profession, but has been the butt of widespread outrage and criticism for alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the final stages of the 30-year long civil war against the armed separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which invented the “suicide bomb”, forcibly recruited child soldiers and used civilians as human shields. In his first global television interview since his election defeat in 2015, Rajapaksa spoke to WION’s senior international correspondent Padma Rao Sundarji for the “World Is One: Global Leadership” series at his residence in Colombo.
Padma Rao Sundarji:
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, it’s a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for receiving me and WION for this exclusive interview. I’ll start with India/China/Pakistan -the region. Sri Lanka is today steeped in external debt to China. The current government under President Maithripala Sirisena is under tremendous pressure. It is slated to give China up to 80% stake in the port of Hambantota and a 99-year lease on 15,000 acres of land nearby. Your critics say that it is your government that began the dependency on China, your supporters blame the present government in Colombo. Either way, India is not happy. Who is more responsible?
pic via: facebook.com/PresidentRajapaksa/ – April 7, 2017
They say we are responsible and we say the present government is responsible. Some even say India is responsible. We had decided to consciously re-orient our countries towards Asia, which, of course, means the two power houses India and China. We did this for more than one reason. Firstly, we identify ourselves as Asians and therefore we identify our destiny as part of that of the continent of Asia.
Continue reading ‘“I Never Left The Fray”- Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa In An Exclusive Interview’ »
Iromi Perera and Vijay Nagaraj
On the afternoon of 14 April tonnes of garbage at Meethotamulla, one of the biggest dumping sites just outside Colombo, came crashing down destroying scores of homes. At the time of writing, the death toll was reportedly 26 but was expected to rise. There have been serious allegations made by the affected community that rescue efforts did not even begin in earnest till very late into the night owing to a lack of direction and the failure of authorities.
Meethotamulla Rahula Vidyalaya – via: facebook.com/MyCleanSriLanka/
According to Nuwan Bopage, a lawyer representing residents of Meethotamulla, people were left using shovels to get to those buried. “During that whole time we could hear the dying breath of those buried under the garbage,” he said at a media conference the next day.
Behind the tragedy is a litany of broken promises—including an assurance by the Prime Minister himself in 2015 of solving the problem within six months—and protests being met with tear gas or batons. A group of residents from Meethotamulla approached the Supreme Court in 2014 seeking to stop the dumping of garbage.
Continue reading ‘Meetotamulla Is One More Tragedy of the Poor Underclass Being Victimised in the Name of Development’ »
Colombo, April 16: The landslide disaster at Meetotamulla within Colombo city limits on Friday, in which a 300 ft high mountain of garbage came down on hapless slum dwellers killing 24 and wrecking 145 houses, may have come as a surprise to the elite of Colombo who live in posh localities. But for the residents of run down Meetotamulla, it was a disaster waiting to happen for decades.
pic via: defence.lk
With 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city being dumped there everyday in a haphazard fashion, people were living in constant fear of being buried under three million tons of muck in case there were exceptionally heavy rains or an earth tremor.
Indeed, when the tropical storm ‘Roanu’ struck Colombo in May 2016, the storm waters mixed with a great deal of muck from the mound swamped their dwellings. It was reported that 60% of the population had become ill as a result of being in an exceptionally filthy environment at that time.
Unable to bear the constant stench, and apprehensive about diseases spreading, the residents of Meetotamula had, even prior to the floods, launched an agitation under the leadership of Attorney Nuwan Bopage.
Continue reading ‘Meetotamulla Garbage Dump Landslide Tragedy was a Disaster Waiting to Happen’ »
The doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 98th birthday on 5 April 2017.
Dr Lester James Peries-pic: daily news.lk
IF I were to pose the question “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best Lankan filmmaker of them all?” to my personal magic mirror, the answer would be in three words – Lester James Peries!
Though Sri Lanka has produced many brilliant film directors over the years – and I do enjoy their movies – I have always been of the firm opinion that the greatest director of Sinhala cinema is Lester James Peries. There was a time when my friends used to have fun at my expense by belittling Lester’s films as second-rate mediocre stuff. I would retort angrily and they would laugh gleefully.
The doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 98th birthday on 5 April 2017. Celebrating the 98th birthday of any personality is indeed a joyful event. It is more so in the case of Lester James Peries. The ‘Spotlight’ column that was dimmed for several weeks shines brightly again to focus on the birthday boy as befitting the occasion.
This article is a birthday tribute to the nonagenarian Lester now basking in the serene, golden twilight of his illustrious life. I have already written many articles about the man and his movies in the past. Still, one does not tire of writing about a favourite subject again and again. Besides it always feels good when writing about Lester James Peries.
Meeting Lester and Sumitra
The Writer in Conversation with Lester and Sumitra – pix – Marianne David
Let me begin on a personal note with a confession of sorts and an anecdote. Despite my enormous appreciation of Lester, I have met him (and wife Sumitra) only once in my life. Lester James Peries was someone whom I have always wanted to meet in person but never got the chance.
Continue reading ‘Lester James Peries, The Legendary Pioneer Of Authentic Sri Lankan Cinema’ »
Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
“The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything.”(Mao)
UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is mightily helped by the confusion in the ranks of the SLFP and Oppositional forces in general. The SLFP voters and the broader constituency of non-UNP (or non-hardcore UNP) voters are being sent three messages, all of which are wrong. The three messages come, NOT from Mahinda Rajapaksa but from President Sirisena, ex-president Kumaratunga and architect-strategist of the breakaway Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Front SLPF), Basil Rajapaksa.
Chandrika Kumaratunga wants a strategic alliance of the SLFP and the UNP, even under the UNP’s leadership. She seems willing to go as far as fusion, which means turning the clock back to pre-1951 and her father’s rupture with the UNP. The alliance she advocates is with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the neoliberal globalism he represents, rather than with a populist-patriotic (‘neo-Premadasaist’) tendency of the UNP. Chandrika sees the UNP-TNA-SLFP-civil society liberals-West as a durable and desirable bloc.
President Sirisena sees the UNP-SLFP alliance not as strategic, and certainly not as a potential fusion, unless the UNP is led by an ideological co-thinker who is a centrist-populist. He is striving to cultivate such a constituency within the UNP. If not, or until that fructifies, the alliance with the UNP is tactical, not strategic. He is keeping open the January 2015 alignment and its possible recycling but that is not his Plan A, not least because he sees its exponentially growing unpopularity. He has his eye on the exits that are coming up but he hasn’t made up his mind. His main aim is to nurture a moderate, more youthful and modern, non-Rajapaksa/post-Rajapaksa SLFP which is ideologically progressive or even mildly social democrat. He hopes to use it to seize the hegemony within the existing Yahapalana coalition or lead it to victory as part of a new centrist alliance with compatible elements of the JO and the UNP.
Continue reading ‘“Stop Handing Trincomalee to India”Should be Key Slogan of Joint Opposition May Day Rally’ »
By Dr. Archana Arul
If there is considerable consternation in political circles in India over what took place at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva recently over a two-year extension for Sri Lanka to come to terms with issues of the post-conflict era, it is only understandable.
Once again the international community, led by the United States and Britain, have given one more chance to the powers that be in Colombo to put in motion a judicial and political process that squarely comes to term with the national reconciliation process.
That there has been constant huffing and puffing on how to go about the procedural aspects of substantive issues in the island nation has been conveniently glossed over — for now, there is another extension and in the name of a Consensus Resolution on which there was no vote.
In the event of a division, member-nations would have been forced to spell out their views leading to embarrassing moments in the fashion they were going to characterise their versions of the goings on in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Has There Been Genuine National Reconciliation in Sri Lanka?’ »
By Udeni Saman Kumara
President Maithripala Sirisena in an interview with our sister paper Maubima said that people who elected him are still hopeful that the problems could be resolved through this government. “I like to unite and not to divide”, he said.
Q; This is the third year since you were elected as President. Half of the term of the government is already over. Are you satisfied with your performance in terms of establishing good governance?
I ask this question in the backdrop of some people alleging that there has been no development in the country since you took over.
A: The meaning in that statement, that no development is happening in the country is that compared to the development seen previously, not much seems to be happening now. That is one. Mega projects have not begun. Roads are not being built fast.
Based on such things, there is a view that the country is not moving forward. In fact, when we took over governance we inherited a set-up akin to an embellished celluloid doll. The country was hopelessly in debt. Had that development not been so much of a problem the former President might not have held elections two years in advance. He held the election because he was basically stuck and without the ability to move even another inch further.
Q;People expected a change because they had many problems over the previous government?
A: They were well aware and understood the enormity of the problems like the economic crisis, issues related to the Human Rights Council and the problems of the ruler’s family, when they went in for an election. We also could take more loans and carry out development just as they did. But we did not go down that path. The development projects they had carried out had many irregularities.
Continue reading ‘” Coalition Govt of Two Major Parties is a new Experience but I Will Lead The SLFP to Victory in Future Elections” -President Sirisena’ »
SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA
It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7that the UN Security Council’s emergency‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka, although the actual circumstances of the UN’s engagement with the two countries are very different.
Only one thing seemed alarmingly similar. It seemed like a set up.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind the now famous theatrical display of a vial of anthrax by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the same venue to warn the Council of the imminent danger that lay before the world from WMDs in Iraq.
It was only a matter of time before one of the members would hold up a photograph of that particular shameful attempt, and so it happened at the hands of the Bolivian Ambassador/Permanent Representative Sacha Lorenty who proved that there are still good men left in the world, taking on every irrational argument by the West,and quoting his President Evo Morales’ condemnation of the US strike on Syria, even though Bolivia had no dog in this fight. He stood up for the principles that all those Security Council members had signed up to.
The Russian Deputy Ambassador inevitably referred to the 2003 ‘Anthrax episode’ as well, since the Security Council session’s target for verbal recriminations by US, UK and France was more Russia than Syria. He made it a point to warn Britain not to even try to get into a war in the Middle East because in that part of the world they remember, he said, Britain’s colonial hypocrisy.
Continue reading ‘Current Western Outrage Over Syria Seems to be a “Set Up” as in the case of Sri Lanka’s War Against LTTE’ »
Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the fourth most important leader in China, visited Sri Lanka this week, he was pleasantly surprised to get a very warm reception.
“The warm hospitality I got was far beyond expectations,” Yu publicly declared on Thursday.
Yu had come on a two-day visit as head of an 80-member Chinese business delegation and had met President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss the multi-billion dollar China-funded projects including the Hambantota port and the Colombo Port City.
While the US$ 1.4 billion Port City project has resumed after an year of suspension by the Sri Lankan government on charges of corruption, the Hambantota port project is held up over the division of stakes in a public-private sector joint venture to be established to run the port.
Continue reading ‘Yu Zhengsheng Returns After 2 Day Lankan Trip Without Visiting Hambantota Harbour or Signing Port Agreement.’ »
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The government appears to be in hot water these days as the Chinese have demanded the complete handover of the Hambantota Port to the China Merchants Port Holdings Company, without the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) having any stake in it. The Chinese, on seeing the new amendments put forward by the SLPA urging them to reduce the 99-year lease plan to a 33-year lease, are also in a quandary as to whether they should release the US$ 1.2 billion loan, obtained by the former government, in full or to give it in instalments, Ceylon Today learns.
It is also learnt that the top Chinese official, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Yu Zhengsheng, who is also a member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful decision-making body in China, had arrived in Sri Lanka (6 to 8 April 2017), to put pressure on Sri Lanka to embark on the Hambantota Port project soon. The government, which was initially firm in going forward with the project, is now in two minds as the Chinese have demanded the complete control over the Hambantota Port.
Continue reading ‘China Demands Full Control of Hambantota Harbour Without any Stake for Sri Lanka Ports Authority’ »
by Anura Gunasekera
When absolute virtue is your launching pad, there is no way but down thereafter and that has been the sad story of the Yahapalanaya regime from its laboured birth.
Yahapalanaya is a collage of intrinsically incompatible points of view and an uneasy cohabitation between groups and individuals who would not, normally, bed with each other. Given its current state of incompetence and paucity of achievement, the union between a mare and a donkey, which produces the sterile mule seems an apt comparison. Briefly, and fortuitously for the nation, these disparate groups and individuals found a common objective; the ouster of a man who, in one narrow sense, may be described as the liberator of the Nation State of Sri Lanka, and from another point of view, will be seen as the man who decided that having freed it, that it belonged to him to do as he pleased with.
Yahapalanaya owes its existence, not to previous performance but to promises, some partly addressed and most others yet unfulfilled and simply languishing in the wish lists of those who voted for it. It must perform, and quickly, as it has no laurels to rest on to reinforce its bid for continued existence, or for that matter, for its legitimacy. At the maximum it has another year for productive action, before it is compelled to abandon even a pretence of service to the nation and the main protagonists start preparing for the next election; when all the actors and principals currently in action, as well as others presently side-lined but hopeful of a piece of future action, initiate the deals, alliances, the horse-trading, when yesterday’s sworn enemy becomes today’s friend and vice-versa; when it becomes politic to cast aside sanctimoniously enunciated principles, assurances and ethics in favour of the expediency of the moment.
Continue reading ‘Yahapalanaya Regime – Lunacy,Idiocy or Plain Hubris?’ »
Multiple award-winning film director Vasantha Obeyesekere, whose adoption of real life stories onto the big screen made him one of the biggest names in the country’s film industry, passed away last morning at a private hospital in Colombo. He was 80.
In a film-making career that spanned nearly five decades, Obeyesekere won several presidential awards and numerous other awards, nationally and internationally, while courting both fame and controversy over the years for his work.
Having passed out of the University of Ceylon in 1962, he dabbled in a teaching career before joining the editorial staff of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited. His foray into cinema came in 1967 with the film Sath Samudura, on which he worked as an assistant director. His first film was Wes Gaththo, which Obeyesekere not only produced and directed, but for which he wrote the screen play and acted in too.
Continue reading ‘Famous Film Director Vasantha Obeyesekere, Who Immortalised Real Life Stories On The Silver Screen, Is No More’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
If the Government intends to slash its original proposal of 65,000 prefabricated houses down to 6,000 houses for the war-displaced, it must call a fresh tender as many more contractors will qualify for the smaller project and offer better prices, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said this week.
Despite sustained opposition to the project, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) last week granted approval for the construction of 6,000 prefabricated houses in the North and East by international steel giant ArcelorMittal. The proposal will go to Cabinet for ratification.
But the original tender, floated by the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ministry, had been for 65,000 houses and not 6,000, pointed out Mr. Sumanthiran. The TNA has unanimously rejected prefabricated steel dwellings and called for the cheaper, culturally-suitable brick-and-mortar houses.
Continue reading ‘Pre-fab Housing Project for North -East Slashed From 65,000 to 6,000 Houses Without Calling for Fresh Tenders’ »
By Chris Kamalendran
Sri Lanka has expressed disappointment over the failure by the Indian authorities to honour the pledges made at the last round of joint Indo-Lanka talks on the fisheries issue.
Fisheries Ministry Secretary Rani Adhikari, who headed the Sri Lanka delegation at the talks held on Friday in Colombo, told the Sunday Times she requested the Indian delegation to implement the agreement reached during the previous round of talks to increase patrolling of the Palk Strait to prevent poaching.
The last round of talks was held in New Delhi in December last year.
Ms Adhikari said Sri Lanka also pointed out that though a hotline had been established between the Sri Lankan coastguards and their Indian counterparts, the action taken against cases of poaching was insufficient.
Sri Lanka had emphasised that the Government wanted to totally prevent poaching and not merely stop illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling.
Continue reading ‘India Fails to Honour Pledges Made to Sri Lanka About Preventing Indian Fishermen from Poaching in Sri Lankan Waters’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
Resistance is growing in the East to W.M. Mendis’s (WMM) proposed ethyl alcohol plant, approved by the Finance Ministry within 18 months of Maithripala Sirisena winning the presidency, on a platform that decried, among other things, “the ethanol mafia”.
The Batticaloa District Coordinating Committee met on March 27 and resolved to oppose the project. Members wanted it removed from the Batticaloa District and addressed a memorandum to President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other ministers.
“Everyone in the Batticaloa District, including ministers, MPs and members of Provincial Councils, are unanimous in their opposition to the project,” a local Government official said. A spokesman for the Excise Dept said this week that WMM–owned by Arjun Aloysius, son-in-law of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran who is currently being investigated over the Bond issue–has not yet been issued a manufacturing licence for the plant. “They are still in construction stage,” the official said.
Meanwhile, WMM published notices in the local media stating that, the said plant will produce ethyl and is not a distillery. Ethyl is also known as ethanol, grain alcohol or, alcohol.
Continue reading ‘Opposition Ferments in East Against Finance Ministry Approved W.M. Mendis Project of an Ethyl Alcohol Plant In B’caloa District’ »
by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
What the upcoming round of sub-national elections (PCs and PSs) will decide is the respective strengths of the official SLFP and the JO/SLPP. I for one am pretty certain that the JO/Podujana Peramuna will beat the official SLFP into third place in the PS/PC elections—the reason being the official SLFP’s role as the UNP’s ‘tail’.
After the electoral outcome and on that basis, the two entities can either try vainly to eliminate the other politically and monopolize (not merely dominate) the space the rival occupies, or they can sensibly decide to reunite, perhaps not as a single party, but as a front or bloc, just as the LSSP and CP did when they came to their senses in 1968.
What would work in the short term is a post-electoral agreement to form non-UNP administrations at the PS and PC levels, in other words, flip over and thereby counterbalance the 2015 agreement the official SLFP leadership entered into with the UNP, to form a ‘unity’ government at the national level.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena Led “Official”SLFP’s Role as UNP Tail Will Result in Being Beaten to Third Place in Polls.’ »