Memories of Interacting with Upali Wijewardene as a Journalist.

By

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Today (Feb 17) is the birthday of Sri Lanka’s popular business magnate Philip Upali Wijewardene. If Upali Wijewardene were among the living now, he would have celebrated his 86th birthday this year. Alas, this was not to be as the Lear Jet he was travelling in disappeared on 13 February 1983 just 4 days before his 45th birthday .

It was my privilege to be associated with Upali Wijewardene slightly and briefly during the years 1978 to 1983. As a journalist on the Tamil Daily “Virakesari” I covered the Greater Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC) or “free trade Zone” from 1978 to 1981. Upali was the first Director -General of the GCEC.

Later in 1981 I began working as a staff reporter on the English daily “The Island” published by Upali newspapers Ltd of which he was the proprietor. I was at “The Island” in 1983 when Upali went missing 41 years ago .The Island of Tuesday, February 15 broke the sad news with a banner headline “Plane carrying Upali Wijewardene feared lost.”

It is in this context that this column focuses this week on Upali Wijewardene on his Birthday. I have written about him in the past and will draw from those writings for this article. In this piece I intend sharing some memories of my limited interaction with him.

Continue reading ‘Memories of Interacting with Upali Wijewardene as a Journalist.’ »

In a development unprecedented in Sri Lankan politics, both electoral front runners the JVP and SJB are going out of their way to woo the most Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist institutions in the country.


By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“…it is not the elimination of racialism or nationalism that we want in this world today; it is the harmonisation of nationalism and racialism for future progress.” Speech during the debate of The Citizenship Act

The news barely made the news. Defence secretary (retired) General Kamal Gunaratne and Army Commander General Vikum Liyanage were ordered by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee to apologise to parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody.

Last October, the two generals threatened Mr. Weerakkody inside the parliament at a meeting of the sectoral oversight committee on national security. During a discussion on downsizing the military, Mr Weerakkody deplored the wasteful expenditure of the top brass.

He illustrated his point with examples, such as excessive vehicle use and allocating Rs.80 million to landscape the army commander’s official residence. The two generals took umbrage and threatened the parliamentarian. The meeting was chaired by parliamentarian (and retired admiral) Sarath Weerasekara who did nothing to rein in his former colleagues or to protect the rights of his fellow parliamentarian. The Privileges Committee admonished him, telling him to conduct meetings impartially in future.

In a country where the rule of law and the primacy of civilian dominance are valued, the two erring officials would have been compelled to resign. For Sri Lanka, that is still a bridge too far. After all, a police officer convicted by the supreme court of torturing a suspect was not sacked but promoted to the post of acting IGP!

Still, the mere fact of the two generals being compelled to apologise to the parliamentarian is a step in the right direction. Had the Rajapaksas been in power, the parliamentarian would have been forced to apologise to the generals, for impinging on the sacred honour of “war heroes”.

Continue reading ‘In a development unprecedented in Sri Lankan politics, both electoral front runners the JVP and SJB are going out of their way to woo the most Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist institutions in the country.’ »

Sriyani Hulugalle’s Novelette ‘Shadows of Hantana’: A romantic experience for readers


By

W.A. Wijewardena

Former World Bank senior economist and novelist, Sriyani Hulugalle, has published her latest novelette in Sinhala under the title ‘Shadows of Hantana’, a story she had penned when she was at the University of Peradeniya in the 1970s.

This is her third published creative work, the previous two being ‘Beyond the Rainbow’ and ‘Cherry Blossoms’. Contrary to these two works, the present work which she had written when she was passing her teenage years is a romantic novel peeping into the depth of love, sacrifice, and betrayal.

Hulugalle has written this story at a time when Sri Lanka’s Sinhala romantic novels had been heavily influenced by the genre introduced by Karunasena Jayalath through his ‘Golu Hadawatha’ (The Silent Heart) in 1960s and a series of subsequent works written by him and many others on the same theme.

Heroine of a Difference

In these stories, love blossoms in the heart of a teenager, usually a girl, with no life experience. She is not aware that she is being manipulated by evil forces of society, first giving her hope, and raising her to the sky and then, dropping her to the ground shattering all those hopes. Hence, the heroines or heroes in these novels are defeatists. Readers finish the books with anger and resentment in their heads. Hulugalle’s creative work is different from this popular genre.

True, there is love blossoming in the heart of an inexperienced young girl. But this girl differs from her counterparts in other novels and does not take the defeat as the inevitable fate. Instead, she makes an unusual sacrifice for those whom she loves and reaches her final goal of seeking academic excellence outside the country and away from those who had been known to her. In this sense, she is a heroine conquering the world which is hostile to her through understanding and persevering till she reaches her goal.

Continue reading ‘Sriyani Hulugalle’s Novelette ‘Shadows of Hantana’: A romantic experience for readers’ »

Mawbima Janatha Party Leader and Presidential aspirant Dility Jayaweera Addresses Party’s Colombo District Summit and Unveils Plan for a “New Era of Transformation and Prosperity”


The Mawbima Janatha Party (MJP) and its presidential hopeful Dilith Jayaweera on Saturday at the Colombo District Summit, revealed plans to soon launch an ambitious action plan aimed at transforming Sri Lanka›s socio-economic fabric.

This announcement came during a significant gathering at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo, which saw an impressive turnout of nearly 10,000 people, including party supporters, senior politicians, professionals, and prominent businessmen, showcasing the event›s massive success and the broad base of support for the MJP.

Jayaweera, a distinguished businessman from Colombo with aspirations of running for the presidency, has been an outspoken advocate for a more developed Sri Lanka, a vision he has harboured since his university days.

Continue reading ‘Mawbima Janatha Party Leader and Presidential aspirant Dility Jayaweera Addresses Party’s Colombo District Summit and Unveils Plan for a “New Era of Transformation and Prosperity”’ »

Distinguished Emeritus Professor and Eminent Author and Poet Yasmine Gooneratne passes away on Thursday February 15th 2024 at the age of 88.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Distinguished Emeritus Professor and Eminent Author and Poet Yasmine Gooneratne passed away on Thursday February 15th 2024.She was 88.

After schooling at Bishops College , Colombo Yasmine went on to graduate from the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya. Thereafter she received a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University,UK.

Yasmine Gooneratne relocated to Australia in 1972. In 1981, she received the first higher doctoral degree of Doctor of Letters at Macquarie University. Yasmine was the Founder and Director of the Centre for Post-Colonial Literature and Language Studies at Macquarie University in New South Wales..

Yasmine Gooneratne founded the literary journal New Ceylon Writing in 1970, to publish the creative writing of Sri Lankan writers in English. Yasmine has around 20 published books to her credit that include critical studies of Jane Austen, Alexander Pope, and contemporary novelist and screen writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. She has also written volumes of literary essays as well as poems, short stories, a family memoir, and novels..

Continue reading ‘Distinguished Emeritus Professor and Eminent Author and Poet Yasmine Gooneratne passes away on Thursday February 15th 2024 at the age of 88.’ »

Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran PC Challenges Online Safety Bill’s Purported Enactment by Filing FR Petition in SC against Speaker and A-G for Alleged Breach of Trust

Tamil National Alliance Opposition Parliamentarian, President’s Counsel (PC) M.A. Sumanthiran has filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court (SC) against Speaker of the Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana and Attorney General (AG) Sanjay Rajaratnam PC, respectively, over the Speaker’s purported certification of the Online Safety Bill (OSB) and the AG’s alleged wrongful and negligent advice to the Speaker and the Parliament regarding the same.

The petitioner notes that the SC has determined that several clauses of the said Bill were inconsistent and would require a two thirds majority vote of the entire Parliament to be enacted, while if the specified amendments (proposed by the State to be moved at the Committee Stage of the Bill in the Parliament) were incorporated into the Bill, the Bill could be passed with a simple majority.

Although the Government published a document on the intended Committee Stage amendments to the Bill at the commencement of the debate, all the amendments suggested by the SC to ensure compliance with the Constitution had not been included. The Speaker had however stated that the Committee Stage amendments had been approved by the AG and the Legal Draftsperson as being compliant with the SC determination and had permitted the Government to proceed sans heed to Opposition concerns on the same.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran PC Challenges Online Safety Bill’s Purported Enactment by Filing FR Petition in SC against Speaker and A-G for Alleged Breach of Trust’ »

Anura Bandaranaike: “Always the bride’s maid, never the bride”


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

What do Ranil Wickremesinghe, Dinesh Gunawardena and Anura Bandaranaike have in common? They were born a year after independence in 1949 and were classmates together at Royal Colege, Colombo. All three were from illustrious families involved in politics and went on to be brightly shining stars in the Island nation’s political firmament.

Anura Bandaranaike born on 15 February 1949 was regarded as the crown prince of Lankan politics due to the fact that he was the son of SWRD e and Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Both of them served as Prime Ministers. Despite this impressive political pedigree, Anura was never a Prime Minister or President. That honour went to his elder sister Chandrika Kumaratunge who was both premier and president. Anura however held many posts like MP, Leader of the Opposition, Cabinet minister and speaker but was never “crowned as a King.” Anura passed away 16 years ago at the age of 59 in 2008.

Dinesh Gunawardena born on 2 March 1949 was the son of Philip and Kuumasiri Gunawardena. Dinesh’s father Philip known as the “lion of Boralugoda” was a prominent leftist leader who served as state councillor, Parliamentarian and Cabinet minister. His mother Kusuma was a member of Parliament. Dinesh’s uncle Robert Gunewardena and Cousin Vivienne were MPs too. His siblings Indika,Prasanna and Githanjana were aloi in politics as MP-Cabinet minister, Colombo Mayor and MP-Deputy minister respectively. Dinesh who served as MP and Cabinet minister for many years became Prime Minister in 2022. His son Yadamini is currently an MP.

Ranil Wickremesinghe born on 24 March 1949 is the son of Esmond and Nalini Wickremesinghe neither of whom sought political office. Nevertheles the family was well-versed in politics. Ranil’s mother Nalini was the daughter of press baron DR. Wijewardene. Ranil’s father Esmond was a lawyer and the son of civil servant Cyril Wickremesinghe. Esmond however became a media mogul running the Lake House group of newspapers. He played an influential role in politics and was a maker and unmaker of Govts. Ranil a lawyer himself has been an MP for nearly 45 years and was appointed Prime Minister six times. He is the Current executive President of Sri Lanka.

It could be seen therefore that Anura Bandaranaike among the trio never got to be Prime Minister or President in spite of his parents being premiers. Dinesh Gunawardena has become Prime Minister under his classmate Wickremesinghe. Ranil Wickremesinghe after serving several stints as Prime Minister and setting up a “record” as the longest serving leader of the Opposition became President in 2022.

Continue reading ‘Anura Bandaranaike: “Always the bride’s maid, never the bride”’ »

The Bowser Explosion in Kaithady that Rocked the LTTE on Valentine’s day.; 43 Killed 51 Injured.

BY

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, ”penned the Scottish bard Robert Burns in his poem”to a mouse”. This truth was brought home in an explosive manner to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) 37 years ago when a massive explosion rocked the Kaithady area in the Thenmaratchi division of Jaffna peninsula.

February 14th 1987 was a bloody valentine’s day in northern Jaffna. A bold attempt by the LTTE known popularly as the tigers to attack the Navatkuli army camp on that day was aborted due to an accident which killed 43 persons and injured 51 persons. A carefully planned operation by the LTTE with a tremendous chance of success was not implemented as a result of it.

The casualties included three senior leaders of the LTTE at that time. 14 February 1987 remains an explosive date in the annals of contemporary military history and is worthy of being recounted as it’s 34th anniversary draws near.

What happened then was this. The war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE was continuing. LTTE leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran gave the slip to Indian authorities and clandestinely returned to Jaffna from Tamil Nadu on 5 January 1987. To mark his return, the tiger supremo wanted his men to expedite a bold attack being planned against a Sri Lankan Army camp in the North.

Navatkuli Camp

The Army camp at Navatkuli was set up in the 1984-85 period along the Jaffna-Kandy road near the lagoon. It had around 300 to 400 security personnel. The Ceygma Company factory which specialised in manufacturing water pumps and pipes had been acquired by the state for this purpose.

Continue reading ‘The Bowser Explosion in Kaithady that Rocked the LTTE on Valentine’s day.; 43 Killed 51 Injured.’ »

Upali Wijewardene: Lanka’s Beloved Home Grown Business Tycoon with the Golden Touch in Commercial Pursuits.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

41 years ago on February 13, 1983, a privately owned Lear jet flew out of Malaysia’s Subang Airport at 8.41 p.m. with six on board. It was expected to reach Colombo by 9.45 p.m. that night. 15 minutes after taking off, the plane lost radio contact with the airport. The final message received said the plane was flying at an altitude of 27,000 ft over the straits of Malacca. The Learjet never arrived in Colombo that Sunday as scheduled. The plane went missing.

News of the missing plane began spreading on Monday, which was also Valentine’s Day. Sri Lankans from all walks of life were shocked when they heard that the missing plane belonged to Upali Wijewardene and that the beloved homegrown tycoon was among the six persons, who disappeared along with the aircraft.

Apart from Upali Wijewardene, the others who went missing were Upali’s most trusted Lieutenant Ananda Pelimuhandiram, Financial Director of the Upali Group, S. M. Ratnam, a Malaysian lawyer of Jaffna Tamil origin and A. Senanayake, the Steward.

The other two were the Pilot Capt. Noel Anandappa and Co-Pilot Sidney de Zoysa.

I was then a staff reporter at “The Island “owned by Upali Wijewardene. The Editor then was Vijitha Yapa. The Deputy Editor was Gamini Weerakoon. The Island of Tuesday, February 15 broke the sad news with a banner headline “Plane carrying Upali Wijewardene feared lost.”

Whatever information that was available then was provided in the copy.

The paper continued to publish all the news about the ongoing search for the missing plane and related matters. Those were stressful days of anxiety, especially for Editor Vijitha Yapa.

There were many false leads and rumours. Finally, we realised the painful truth. Upali and others along with the plane had vanished forever!

Continue reading ‘Upali Wijewardene: Lanka’s Beloved Home Grown Business Tycoon with the Golden Touch in Commercial Pursuits.’ »

The Unbearable Selfishness of Being “Maavai” Senathirajah: Clings on to Power for 10 Years as ITAK Party President.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The heading of this article is inspired by the title of Milan Kundera’s novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. That novel was set in the eventful Prague spring period of the then undivided Czechoslovakia. This article is about an octogenarian Tamil political leader who tries to cling on to power selfishly without stepping down gracefully.

The party leader I am referrig to is Somasundaram Senathirajah known popularly as “Maavai” Senathirajah and/or Maavai. Until 27 January 2024, Senathirajah was the President of the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) known as the Federal Party(FP) in English. Senathirajah however continues to act as the party president in a business as usual fashion.

The ITAK was the chief constituent of the political configuration known as the Tamil National Alliance(TNA)till 2022. The ITAK/FP is the only Sri Lankan Tamil political party that has Parliamentary representatives from all five electoral districts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. In spite of the “primus Inter Pares”(first among equals)position it enjoys, the party has in recent times become a laughing stock Senathirajah’s selfish conduct has contributed greatly yo this state of affairs.

Maavai Senathiraja has served as a national list MP for a total of five years. HFurthermore he has been an elected MP from Jaffna district for twenty years. Thus Maavai Senathirajah born on 27th October 1942 has been a Parliamentarian for 25 years. Senathirajah has also been ITAK Party president for nearly 10 years from 2014 to 2024.Prior to that he was ITAK general secretary.

It has been a tradition for ITAK party presidents not to remain in office for more than two successive terms. When veteran Trincomalee MP Rajavarothayam Sampanthan became ITAK president in 2010, he served for two terms of two years each and relinquished office voluntarily in 2014. Maavai who was the ITAK General Secretary during Sampanthan’s tenure, succeeded him as President in 2014.

Although Senathirajah was expected to cease holding office as ITAK president in 2018 after serving two successive terms, he did not relinquish the presidency from 2014 to 2024. He is the only person to have been ITAK President continuously for 10 years. Even the party’s chief co-founder and venerated leader SJV Chelvanayagam did not hold ITAK presidential office for that many years.

Continue reading ‘The Unbearable Selfishness of Being “Maavai” Senathirajah: Clings on to Power for 10 Years as ITAK Party President.’ »

The Minister of Justice cannot merely admit to ‘shortcomings’ in the Online Safety Act on the “devious” basis that all laws have shortcomings and that the Govt is ‘open’ to considering amendments


By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardene

The Sri Lankan Government can ill afford to take the moral high ground and object to the Opposition calling the Online Safety Act, No 9 of 2024 as ‘erroneous’ when it has become amply clear that the Act has disregarded the Supreme Court’s imperative revisions as detailed in (SD) No 66-120/2023.


Was the Online Safety Act passed ‘according to law’?

The question as to whether the Act has been passed ‘according to law’ in consequence thereof has been rightly raised by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. This is in the context of the court-mandated amendments being compulsory to justify its passing without a special majority. To be fair, some of the observations made by the Court had not been reflected in the specific amendments that were detailed in the Determination itself.

Nonetheless, sufficient disparity exists between what was recommended and what was enacted, to give rise to reasonable apprehensions regarding the health of this statute.

As we must recall, relevant questions as to whether the Bill conformed to the Court’s amendments had been raised before its passing in the House. But the country was told that the Attorney General had given the assent to proceed with the Bill as per the amendments brought in at committee stage.
It was on that basis that the Bill was certified by the Speaker.

In fact, it was precisely due to the gravity of such a question being raised that due care and caution was taken to refrain from comment till the Act was studied meticulously. Accordingly, as questioned last week when examining the process of enactment of this Act, it is pertinent to reiterate exactly how it is that the Attorney General’s assent had been given for the certification of the Bill?

Continue reading ‘The Minister of Justice cannot merely admit to ‘shortcomings’ in the Online Safety Act on the “devious” basis that all laws have shortcomings and that the Govt is ‘open’ to considering amendments’ »

மாவை சேனாதிராஜாவின் பொறுத்துக்கொள்ளமுடியாத சுயநலம்

டி.பி.எஸ்.ஜெயராஜ்

கடந்த பத்து வருடங்களாக இலங்கை தமிழரசு கட்சியின் தலைவர் பதவியை வகித்துவந்த மாவை சேனாதிராஜா ஜனவரி 21 திருகோணமலை நகர மண்டபத்தில் கட்சியின் பொதுச்சபை உறுப்பினர்கள் மத்தியில் நடத்தப்பட்ட இரகசிய வாக்கெடுப்பில் யாழ்ப்பாண மாவட்ட பாராளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் சிவஞானம் சிறிதரன் புதிய தலைவராக தெரிவுசெய்யப்பட்ட பின்னரும் நிலைவரம் எல்லாம் ஏதோ பழைய மாதிரியே இருப்பது போன்ற நினைப்பில் இருக்கிறார். கௌரவமான முறையில் பதவியில் இருந்து இறங்காமல் அவர் தொடர்ந்தும் தொங்கிக்கொண்டிருக்கிறார்.

தமிழரசு கட்சி 2022 ஆம் ஆண்டு வரை தமிழ் தேசிய கூட்டமைப்பின் பிரதான அங்கத்துவக் கட்சியாக இருந்தது.வட மாகாணத்திலும் கிழக்கு மாகாணத்திலும் உள்ள சகல ஐந்து மாவட்டங்களிலும் பாராளுமன்றப் பிரதிநிதித்துவத்தைக் கொண்டிருக்கும் ஒரேயொரு தமிழ்க் கட்சியாக தமிழரசு கட்சியே விளங்குகிறது. ‘ சமத்துவமான கட்சிகளில் முதலாவது ‘ என்ற அந்தஸ்தை அனுபவித்துவந்த போதிலும், அந்த கட்சி அண்மைக்காலமாக நகைப்புக்கிடமானதாக மாறிவிட்டது. இந்த நிலைக்கு சேனாதிராஜாவின் சுயநல நடத்தை பெருமளவுக்கு பங்களிப்புச் செய்திருக்கிறது.

Continue reading ‘மாவை சேனாதிராஜாவின் பொறுத்துக்கொள்ளமுடியாத சுயநலம்’ »

Jaffna Youth Congress was the First to Demand “Poorana Swaraj”( Complete Self-Rule) For Ceylon/SriLanka From Britain.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka known formerly as Ceylon gained independence from British rule on 4 February 1948. The Island nation celebrates the 76th anniversary of her “tryst with destiny” on Sunday. Events marking freedom day festivity are scheduled for the week-end.

Even as the greater part of the Island is enveloped in a melodious mood, a discordant note is struck in the Tamil dominated Northern province and the Tamil Majority Eastern Province. The Jaffna University Students Union and organizations representing the families of disappeared persons have proclaimed 4 February 2024 as a ”Kari Naal”( black or dark day) and declared it as a day of mourning.

It has been announced that “Kavana Eerppu Poaraattangal”(Attention drawing demonstrations)would be held in the five districts of the North and three districts of the east. Several Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist parties and civil society organizations have endorsed and lent support to the call for observing freedom day as a black day.

It is not clear at the time this article is being written as to whether a “Hartal” or shutdown will take place but it appears that black flags would be flown in the Tamil areas of the North and East on Independence day. The Undergrads have announced that a huge “Black Day” protest march will be held on February 4th .

Being free of colonial bondage is refreshingly liberating. Independence Day would therefore be a day of joy and happiness. But that has not been so for the Ilankaith Thamizhar of Sri Lanka for many, many years. This does not apply to Tamil hardliners alone but to a very large number of the Tamil people.

Many Tamils are not part of the freedom day festivity emotionally and spiritually. Lots of Tamils remain estranged and alienated from the Sri Lankan State still. The resentment manifested currently towards Independence Day is illustrative of that black mood.

Despite the current mood, it is a fact that the Tamils played an important role in the freedom struggle against the UK. Tamil perspectives towards Independence have changed from time to time depending on prevailing political circumstances.

However, Post-Independence political problems should not blind us to the fact that a significant section of Tamils was in the vanguard of the freedom struggle against the British in the past.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna Youth Congress was the First to Demand “Poorana Swaraj”( Complete Self-Rule) For Ceylon/SriLanka From Britain.’ »

Despite surface differences, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake both seem like economic ingénues with no clear notion of how to deal with a 21st century economy.

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“No spectators at chasm’s door…”

Mahmoud Darwish (I have a seat in the abandoned theatre)

Sri Lankans are a notoriously impulsive people, quick to violence and to generosity. In times of public disaster, if left un-manipulated, the generous impulse is likely to dominate. Deeply divided racial and religious communities coming together to help each other in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami was a case in point.

That same generous impulse could have become dominant during the pandemic had the Rajapaksas not used that public health emergency to ratchet up Muslim-phobia. From day one, Muslims were demonised as virus-spreaders. On 29 March, army commander Shavendra Silva, in his capacity as the head of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, told a TV channel, “Yesterday a patient was discovered from Akurana… Then we discovered another person from Puttlam. He has also associated with a lot of people. He is a Muslim. In both places they are Muslims” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0Z7qz8T40I&feature=youtu.be). The compulsory cremation policy was an integral part of this anti-Muslim approach.

According to section 12 of the new Online Safety Act, anyone who poses a threat to public health by communicating a false statement would be guilty of a crime. The act defines false as “A statement known or believed by its maker to be incorrect or untrue…” (https://www.newswire.lk/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/09-2024_E.pdf). Long after science concluded that burial of COVID-dead was safe, ‘Rajapaksa-science’ insisted that burial could enable the virus to enter groundwater. Until early 2021, a contrary assertion was deemed officially false. Had the Rajapaksas been armed with the Online Safety Act, they could have used section 12 to arrest anyone opposing mandatory cremation as perilous to public health – including possibly Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe!

If the true purpose of the Online Safety Act is protecting people, sections 12, 14, 15, and 16 would not be necessary. The purpose of those sections is the protection of vested interests and powerful political and religious groups. The inclusion of such crimes as promoting ‘ill-feeling and hostility between different classes of people by communicating a false statement’, ‘disturbing a religious assembly by a false statement’, and ‘insults or attempts to insult a religion or religions’ indicate that the Government is using a real problem (online crimes) to further a different agenda.

Given the way the ICCPR is being abused, there is every reason to think that the new Act too would be deployed in a repressive manner. For example, Sections 15 and 16, together with the ICCPR, can be used as a de-facto anti-blasphemy law, criminalising the questioning of religious teachings and practices, and the conduct of the clergy.

During the Muthuraja incident, Lankan social media activists reproduced a post by the sister of Thailand’s minister of environment revealing that 2.8 kg of liquid gold was presented to the chief incumbent of the Kande Vihare to persuade him to relinquish that abused elephant into Thai care.

Today, a post like that can be tagged under several provisions of the Online Safety Act. Had this law been in place, writer Sakthika Sathkumara, comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya, and many others might have been found guilty of violating sections 12, 15, or 16.

Continue reading ‘Despite surface differences, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake both seem like economic ingénues with no clear notion of how to deal with a 21st century economy.’ »

Galle Literary Festival Resumes after a four-year break; Sri Lanka’s popular literary festival signalled an openness in spotlighting sensitive issues of the day.

By

Meera Srinivasan

If anyone visiting Sri Lanka’s Galle city this January needed a reality check on the extent of the island’s recovery after its crippling 2022 crisis, the thaembili [king coconut] offered it. The popular thirst quencher that would have cost a few dozens of rupees a couple of years ago, is now priced at LKR 200 (approx. ₹54).

“Is anything reasonably priced in this country now?” the middle-aged seller asks me, shutting down any bargaining attempt. While scores of citizens like him grapple with the after-effects of dramatic inflation, the country is desperate to welcome more tourists this year to boost its foreign exchange reserves.

The Galle Literary Festival, held from January 25 to 28 in the charming city located on Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast, drew many visitors who had missed both, the country’s calming beaches and its vibrant literary scene. The timing got even better with Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka winning the Booker Prize in 2022. The coveted award brought much-needed cheer to a country reeling under a crushing financial meltdown, while turning the international spotlight on Sri Lankan writing again.

“Galle Fort is alive, the sun is out, and we have been having very stimulating conversations,” says Karunatilaka, who attended the festival that has resumed after a break, owing to the pandemic and Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. “What a turbulent history we have had in the last few years… the constitutional crisis [2018], Easter Sunday attacks [2019], the pandemic, then the economic collapse and everything that followed. I think this is a positive sign that Sri Lanka is slowly rebuilding, there is a lot of rebuilding to be done,” he says.

Continue reading ‘Galle Literary Festival Resumes after a four-year break; Sri Lanka’s popular literary festival signalled an openness in spotlighting sensitive issues of the day.’ »

Dravidian Politics Rooted in Non-Brahminism, Equality, Social Justice, Federalism and Tamil Assertion Offers Resistance to the Exclusionary Politics of Hindutva in Tamil Nadu

By

Karthick Ram Manoharan

(Karthick Ram Manoharan is Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the National Law School of India University. He is the author of Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism).

Irrespective of whether one believes in the god Ram or not, the formal consecration of the Ram temple on January 22, 2024, marked a milestone in Indian politics. The grand event in Ayodhya was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, among several other high-profile political leaders and celebrities. Modi called Ram the spirit and essence of the nation.

The temple ceremony was a state event, with government institutions declaring a half- or full-day holiday, public officials taking an active part in the celebrations, and the Indian Air Force showering petals during the function. Shruti Kapila, Cambridge professor of history and politics, called it “the arrival of the Hindu state itself” (ThePrint, January 23).

Whether a Ram temple existed originally beneath the Babri Masjid can be debated by historians for decades to come, but as far as politics is concerned, it is a moot question.

The Ram temple is real, and so is the politics that led to it. Millions of Hindus were mobilised by the Hindu Right to demolish the masjid, and they did so successfully. Millions more were mobilised on the promise to rebuild the Ram temple, and that promise was kept too. Liberals reject Hindutva for being ahistorical, but Hindutva has always been about creating history, not being true to it.

It is a theory, to paraphrase Marx, that has become a material force since it began to grip the masses. It is now the dominant political force that is trying to change the nature of the Indian state to a Hindu Rashtra.

Even more remarkable is what Modi did the day after the temple consecration—he announced the conferring of the Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur, the socialist leader from Bihar who played a pioneering role in the implementation of social inclusion policies in the State. In his tribute to Thakur, Modi highlighted his regime’s commitment to social justice and transformative empowerment (Mint, January 24).

The two consecutive events convey a significant message—while Hindutva is here to stay as a political force, it cannot ignore the politics of social justice. The BJP has shown itself to be flexible in accommodating diverse voices to present its vision of Hindu Rashtra as not based on orthodoxy-inspired social hierarchy but as compatible with modern democracy. What does this mean for Tamil Nadu politics, where Dravidian parties pride themselves on their agenda of social justice, and where the BJP is desperate to make its entry?

Continue reading ‘Dravidian Politics Rooted in Non-Brahminism, Equality, Social Justice, Federalism and Tamil Assertion Offers Resistance to the Exclusionary Politics of Hindutva in Tamil Nadu’ »

என். சண்முகதாசன : சமரசம் செய்யாத ஒரு கம்யூனிசவாதியின் அரசியல் வாழ்வு

சமுத்திரன்

( சண்முகதாசனின் 31 வது நினைவு தினம் இன்றாகும் (8 -2 2024). அதை முன்னிட்டு இந்த கட்டுரை பிரசுரமாகிறது)

‘ பல்கலைக்கழகத்தில் எனது இரண்டாவது ஆண்டு ,1939 — 40, எனது முழு வாழ்க்கையினதும் திசையை மாற்றிய அந்த ஆண்டில் நான் ஒரு கம்யூனிஸ்ட் ஆகினேன். அதன் பின்னர் நான் அதனின்று வழுவவேயில்லை.’

இந்த வார்த்தைகளுடன் ஆரம்பிக்கிறார் சண்முகதாசன் தனது அரசியல் நினைவுகள் பற்றிய நூலை. அரசியலில் ஐம்பது ஆண்டுகளை நிறைவு செய்த சந்தர்ப்பத்தில் ‘Political Memoirs of an Unrepentant Conmmunist ‘ எனும் தலைப்பில் அவர் ஆங்கிலத்தில் எழுதிய நூல் 1989 ஜூலையில் கொழும்பில் வெளியிடப்பட்டது.

இன்று அந்த நூலையும் அவருடைய மற்றைய அரசியல் எழுத்துக்களையும் வாசிப்பவர்கள் சண்முகதாசனின் அரசியல் வாழ்க்கை இலங்கையின் இடதுசாரி இயக்கத்தின் வரலாற்றுடன் மிகவும் பின்னிப்பிணைந்திருப்பதை உணருவர். அவர் கொண்டிருந்த சர்வதேச அரசியல் தொடர்புகள் பற்றியும் பல தகவல்களை அந்த நூல் தருகிறது.

பத்தொன்பது வயதுப் பல்கலைக்கழக மாணவனாக சண்முகதாசன் கம்யூனிஸ்டானபோது இலங்கையின் இடதுசாரி இயக்கம் நம்பிக்கை தரும் எழுச்சிமிகுந்த ஆரம்பக்கட்டத்தில் இருந்தது. ஆனால், அவர் 1993 ஆம் ஆண்டு தனது 73 வயதில் மரணிக்கும்போது அவருடைய தலைமையில் உருவான கட்சியும் இயக்கமும் தொடர்ச்சியான பல உடைவுகளுக்கு உள்ளாகிச் சிதறுண்ட நிலையில் இருந்தது போலவே நாட்டின் முழு இடதுசாரி இயக்கமும் சிதறுண்டு செல்வாக்கு இழந்தவண்ணமிருந்தது. அது ஒரு துன்பியல்கரமான நிலைவரம்.

இந்த வரலாற்றுக் காலவெளியில்தான் ‘சண் ‘ (Shan ) என்று பிரபல்யமடைந்த சண்முகதாசனின் அரசியல் வாழ்வு இடம்பெறுகிறது. அதை முழுமையாக ஆராய்வது எனது நோக்கமில்லை. ஆனால், அது நிச்சயமாக ஆராயப்படவேண்டிய ஒரு வரலாறுதான்.

சண்முகதாசன் மறைந்து 31 ஆண்டுகளாகின்றன என்று நண்பர் தனபாலசிங்கம் நினைவூட்டியபோது அவருடைய நூறாவது பிறந்ததினத்தை முன்னிட்டு 2020 ஆம் ஆண்டில் நான் பங்குபற்றிய இணையவழிக் கலந்துரையாடல் ஒன்று நினைவுக்கு வந்தது. அப்போது நான் பகிர்ந்துகொண்ட கருத்துக்களும் எழுப்பிய கேள்விகளும் அத்துடன் கூடவே மனதுக்கு வந்தன. ஒரு நீண்ட கட்டுரையை எழுதவேண்டும் போலிருக்கிறது. ஆனால் இப்போதைக்கு சில குறிப்புகளை மட்டுமே பதிவிட முடிகிறது.

Continue reading ‘என். சண்முகதாசன : சமரசம் செய்யாத ஒரு கம்யூனிசவாதியின் அரசியல் வாழ்வு’ »

JVP Delegation led by Anura Kumara Dissanayake has “Good” Discussions with Indian National Security adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankarr on “ regional security, Economic Challenges and bilateral issues concerning India and Sri Lanka,”;


By

Meera Srinivasan

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of Sri Lanka’s leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP or People’s Liberation Front), who is currently visiting India on New Delhi’s invitation, on Monday met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, in an indication of the Union government’s high-level engagement with the 55-year-old opposition politician.
Mr. Dissanayake is heading a delegation of his party-led National People’s Power [NPP] alliance to India on a five-day, three-city visit, covering New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Thiruvananthapuram.

The visit and meetings assume greater significance, coinciding with his rising popularity in the domestic political sphere, that too in a crucial election year. This is the first time New Delhi has invited the JVP leader.

Continue reading ‘JVP Delegation led by Anura Kumara Dissanayake has “Good” Discussions with Indian National Security adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankarr on “ regional security, Economic Challenges and bilateral issues concerning India and Sri Lanka,”;’ »

India Extends Official Invitation to JVP for the First Time; JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake to head Party Delegation on 5 Day Visit to New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram

By

Meera Srinivasan

The Indian government has invited a delegation led by Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of Sri Lanka’s leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP or People’s Liberation Front), to New Delhi, in a significant outreach to the island nation’s most popular politician at the moment.

“We leave tomorrow [Monday] morning and will be there for five days for meetings,” JVP legislator Vijitha Herath, who is part of the delegation, told The Hindu on Sunday night. This is the first time that the JVP leader, who helms the National People’s Power [NPP] alliance, has received an official invitation from the Government of India.

Sources at the Indian High Commission said the delegation is scheduled to visit three cities —New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Thiruvananthapuram — and hold meetings with government officials, members of the business community, in addition to visiting centres of excellence in agriculture and industry.

Continue reading ‘India Extends Official Invitation to JVP for the First Time; JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake to head Party Delegation on 5 Day Visit to New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram’ »

Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam: Foremost Intellectual was the Brightest Star In Tamil Political Firmament.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Today (Jan 31) is the birthday of eminent constitutional lawyer, academic and politician Dr. Neelakandan Tiruchelvam. Neelan as he was popularly known would have completed eighty years , had he been among the living today. Born on January 31, 1944, Neelan Tiruchelvam was brutally assassinated 25 years ago by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) on July 29, 1999. He was 55 at the time of his death.

I had a close personal relationship with Neelan. He was my friend, philosopher and guide. He was greatly instrumental in moulding my career. He was in a sense my political mentor. It was as a journalist on the Tamil daily “Virakesari” that I first began interacting with Neelan Tiruchelvam. My relationship with him grew over the years as I moved into English journalism via ‘‘The Island ‘’and ‘‘The Hindu ‘’.

He had great influence over me in imparting knowledge, stimulating thought, shaping my career and moulding my beliefs. I will always remain grateful for the advice, knowledge, assistance and help provided by him during various phases of my life. Neelan and his wife Sithie were like an elder brother and sister to me.

I always recall with grief the last 50-minute telephonic conversation I had with him just 35 minutes before he was killed. I was one of the last persons to speak to him on that fateful day. I spoke with him on the telephone from Toronto for 50 minutes from 7.50 a.m. until 8.40 a.m. (Sri Lanka time). I used to call him regularly those days. Usually he winds up the conversation after a while saying “you are going to run up a massive phone bill”. But on that day he was in a mood to talk and was pensively reflective .When I ended the conversation he seemed a little surprised.

Thirty-Five minutes later Neelan was killed at 9.15 a.m. on his way to office at Kynsey Terrace as the assassin waiting for him near the Kynsey Road-Rosemead Place Junction threw himself on his vehicle. When the office aide Rajah rang me from Colombo to convey the tragic news I could not believe it. “I spoke to him only a little while ago”, I wailed. Sadly the loyal Rajah too is no more having passed away some years ago.

Continue reading ‘Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam: Foremost Intellectual was the Brightest Star In Tamil Political Firmament.’ »

The certification of the Online Safety Act, No 9 of 2024 by the Speaker this Thursday plunges the country into new and dangerously untried depths of state repression.


By

Kishali Pinto- Jayawardene

Amidst furore over the long delayed arrest of Sri Lanka’s former Health (and currently Environment) Minister implicated with his senior officials in the scandalous procurement of substandard human immunoglobulin, the certification of the Online Safety Act, No 9 of 2024 by the Speaker this Thursday plunges the country into new and dangerously untried depths of state repression.
Charades of state autocracy

Along with decades-old fragmentation of communities by politically driven communalism coupled with unbridled corruption resulting in bankruptcy and the decimation of once excellent public education and public health systems, is this all that marks independence of Sri Lanka from colonial rule?

If so, we might as well wear sackcloth and ashes. Meanwhile an unbelievably tone deaf Government has requested citizens to hoist the national flag in their homes to ‘mark the event’ of our 76th Independence Day (4th February 2024).

If they had a scintilla of political sense, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his motley Ministers should have eschewed vainglorious ‘celebrations’ that only speak to the degradation of the political Centre.

Instead, that money should have been directed towards uplifting the lives of the poor facing unprecedented deprivation in the wake of Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy. That may have won ‘hearts and minds’ of bitter and angry citizens.

Instead, multiple charades of state autocracy masquerade as ‘leading the country out of the abyss.’ One such charade is the deplorably mistitled ‘Yukthiya’ (Justice) operation which, despite multiple violations of the law, has been justified as against Sri Lanka’s drugs underworld by a Public Security Minister and an Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) whose credentials are less than spotless.

Continue reading ‘The certification of the Online Safety Act, No 9 of 2024 by the Speaker this Thursday plunges the country into new and dangerously untried depths of state repression.’ »

தமிழரசு கட்சியின் தலைவராக சிறிதரனும் தமிழர் அரசியலும்

வீரகத்தி தனபாலசிங்கம்

தேசிய இனப்பிரச்சினைக்கு அரசியல் இணக்கத்தீர்வைக் காணும் முயற்சிகளிலும் வடக்கு,கிழக்கில் எதிர்நோக்கப்படும் பல்வேறு மனிதாபிமானப் பிரச்சினைகளுக்கு தீர்வைக் காணும் முயற்சிகளிலும் தமிழ் அரசியல் கட்சிகள் ஐக்கியப்பட்டு ஒருமித்த அணுகுமுறையைக் கடைப்பிடிக்கவேண்டும் என்பதே தமிழ் மக்களினதும் அவர்களின் நலன்களில் அக்கறைகொண்ட சிவில் சமூகம் மற்றும் அவதானிகளினதும் இடையறாத வேண்டுகோளாக இருந்து வருகிறது.

ஆனால், தமிழ்க் கட்சிகளின் தலைவர்கள் அது குறித்து அக்கறை காட்டக்கூடிய மனநிலையில் இல்லை. ஏற்கனவே இருபது வருடங்களுக்கும் அதிகமான காலமாக பல்வேறு மாச்சரியங்களுக்கு மத்தியிலும் கூட நீடித்து நின்ற தமிழ் தேசிய கூட்டமைப்பும் கடந்த முற்பகுதியில் இல்லாமற் போய்விட்டது.

கடந்தவாரம் தமிழ்க் கட்சிகளின் தலைவர்களை சந்தித்த புதிய இந்திய உயர்ஸ்தானிகர் சந்தோஷ் ஜாவும் அரசியல் தீர்வுக்கான கோரிக்கையை அந்த கட்சிகள் ஐக்கியப்பட்ட ஒரு அமைப்பாக ஒருமித்து முன்வைக்கவேண்டும் என்று வலியுறுத்திக் கூறியிருக்கிறார்.

ஆனால், மற்றைய தமிழ் கட்சிகளுடன் இணைந்து செயற்படுவதில் தங்களுக்கு பிரச்சினை இருக்கிறது என்று தமிழ் தேசிய மக்கள் முன்னணியின் தலைவரான கஜேந்திரகுமார் பொன்னம்பலம் நேரடியாகவே உயர்ஸ்தானிகரிடம் கூறியதாகவும் அரசியலமைப்புக்கான 13 வது திருத்தத்தின் அடிப்படையில் அரசியல் தீர்வொன்றை தனது கட்சி ஏற்றுக்கொள்வில்லை என்பதை அதற்கான காரணமாகக் கூறியதாகவும் செய்திகள் வெளியாகின.

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Tamil Film actor Vijay announces Launch of political party named ‘Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam’ (Tamil Nadu Victory Association); Party to Contest 2026 Tamil Nadu State Election


By

Shipa Nair

Tamil actor Thalapathy Vijay on Friday announced the formation of political party, ‘Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam,’ stating his commitment to “fundamental political change” with transparent, caste-free, and corruption-free administration.

The actor made the big announcement after his fan club, Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, gave a nod to the formation of the political party in a meeting held in Chennai last week.

In a statement issued by the actor, he said, “We are making an application today to the EC to register our party ‘Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam’. Our goal is to contest and win the upcoming 2026 assembly elections and bring about the fundamental political change that people want.”

Continue reading ‘Tamil Film actor Vijay announces Launch of political party named ‘Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam’ (Tamil Nadu Victory Association); Party to Contest 2026 Tamil Nadu State Election’ »

Tamil Nadu’s First DMK Chief Minister CN Annadurai known as “Anna” made very significant contributions to Tamil theatre, cinema, and literature.

By

Meera Srinivasan

( 55 th Death Anniversary of CN Annadurai on 3 Feb 2024)

Former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai may have been instrumental in shaping the course of Tamil Nadu’s political history. But his artistic and literary persona played a major role in his achieving the rare iconic status he enjoyed.

His contributions as a writer and actor undoubtedly aided him in his propaganda all the way. However, when viewed sans the political agenda, his work can be seen as having made very significant contributions to Tamil theatre, cinema and literature.

Some of Anna’s plays were made into films and are regarded as very important productions in Kollywood. ’Velaikkari’ and ’Or Iravu’ are two of his most popular films.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Nadu’s First DMK Chief Minister CN Annadurai known as “Anna” made very significant contributions to Tamil theatre, cinema, and literature.’ »

Former Health Minister and current Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella arrested by the CID (CID) in connection with the controversial scam involving the importat of substandard human immunoglobulin IV vials to Sri Lanka.

Former Health Minister and the current Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) yesterday in connection to the controversial scam involving the import of substandard human immunoglobulin IV vials to Sri Lanka.

Rambukwella was taken into custody following a 10-hour statement provided to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). On Thursday Maligakanda Magistrate Lochani Abeywickrama, issued an order for him to appear before the CID yesterday after he failed to appear before the CID earlier in the week and had submitted written justifications for his absence.

Continue reading ‘Former Health Minister and current Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella arrested by the CID (CID) in connection with the controversial scam involving the importat of substandard human immunoglobulin IV vials to Sri Lanka.’ »

Ultra- nationalist forces in Southern Sri Lankan polity will definitely take advantage of Shritharan’s rise as the leader of the main political party of the Tamils and whip up communal propaganda that the separatist forces are re- emerging in the North and East. There are already clear signs of that.

By

Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Although Jaffna district Member of Parliament Sivagnanam Sritharan had told the media on what principles he would lead the struggle for the political rights of the Tamil people after being elected as the leader of the Ilankai Thamizharasu Kadchi (ITAK) popularly known as Federal Party, it was expected that he would officially explain his policies after assuming office at the party’s convention that was to be held in Trincomalee last Sunday.

But the convention was postponed indefinitely due to controversies surrounding the selection of other posts, including the general secretary of the party. So the new leader was unable to deliver that important speech.

After the election of Sritharan by the party’s general council in a secret ballot at Trincomalee Town Hall on 21 January, other contender, Member of Parliament M.A. Sumanthran had publicly announced that he would cooperate with the new leader.

However, the incidents that took place in Trincomalee last Saturday and the subsequent comments made by the stalwarts of the ITAK clearly indicate the challenges that Sritharan will have to face in leading the party as a cohesive entity.

Continue reading ‘Ultra- nationalist forces in Southern Sri Lankan polity will definitely take advantage of Shritharan’s rise as the leader of the main political party of the Tamils and whip up communal propaganda that the separatist forces are re- emerging in the North and East. There are already clear signs of that.’ »

How Fearless Publisher Krishantha Cooray Helped Save the Life of an Abducted Journalist During the Rajapaksa Regime: A Heartfelt Birthday salute by a Grateful Colleague and Friend.

By Keith Noyahr

Many have been my blessings over the past 15 years after a fresh lease of life afforded me in 2008. Spending quality time with my family including my grandchild more recently as well as attending spiritual retreats, with the latest ending on Australia Day long weekend, have been standouts.

Retreats are a time to reflect on life and the mysterious workings of God in one’s life. It was definitely the mercy of God that afforded me a fresh lease of life after my abductors were hellbent on literally silencing me after torture.

God works on earth through angelic as well as human beings through their acts of goodness – the essence of God. At Christmas, the angels announced, “Glory to God on high and peace to men of goodwill”. Hence, a good person irrespective of their faith is already inclined towards God.

Here’s a tribute to my friend and former boss, Krishantha Cooray, who celebrates his birthday with his young family on 1st February. He was forced to flee Sri Lanka when the authorities attempted to frame unfounded charges against him in another case, which I don’t hope to discuss here. Rivira CEO Krishantha was a marked man ever since his vociferous local and international campaign to get me released. Even after my release, The Nation, for which I wrote a controversial weekly defence column, kept on the pressure to bring to book those responsible for my abduction and torture.

On that fateful 2008 National Heroes Day, when Krishantha and my colleagues visited my distraught family, our 10-year-old daughter shook him saying, “Uncle Krishantha you have to bring my Thaththi back”. Moved by compassion, Krishantha wasted no time and spared no effort to bring me back.

Continue reading ‘How Fearless Publisher Krishantha Cooray Helped Save the Life of an Abducted Journalist During the Rajapaksa Regime: A Heartfelt Birthday salute by a Grateful Colleague and Friend.’ »

The Attack on ITAK Jaffna MP Sivagnanam Shritharan by “Unknown” Gunmen in Anuradhapura.

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The media spotlight is focused to a great extent on Jaffna District Parliamentarian Sivagnanam Shritharan these days. The 55 year old former school principal has been elected as the president of Sri Lanka’s premier Tamil political party the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party(FP). Shritharan has been elected an MP continuously since 2010.

Shritharan contested the ITAK presidential elections on a pro-LTTE platform euphemistically described as “Thamizh Thesiyam” (Tamil Nationalism)The newly elected ITAK leader demonstrated that he was a hawk in Tamil politics by paying obeisance at the LTTE cemetery in Kilinochchi. He also issued a statement calling upon all Tamil nationalist parties to join him and realise the dreams of fallen LTTE fighters known as “Maaveerar”or great heroes.

Shritharan has been projecting himself as a supporter and fellow traveller of the LTTE from the time he entered Parliament. This has earned him boquets from pro-tiger elements and brickbats from anti-tiger elements. While the pro-LTTE label has helped him in politics, it has at times placed him in jeopardy too.

A noteworthy incident in this regard was the attack launched on the vehicle he was travelling in by “unknown” gunmen . This attack took place on the road in Anuradhapura district almost 13 years ago. I wrote extensively about the incident then. This column re-visits the attack on Shritharan with the aid of those earlier writings this week.

Continue reading ‘The Attack on ITAK Jaffna MP Sivagnanam Shritharan by “Unknown” Gunmen in Anuradhapura.’ »

Canadian Tamil Congress Office in Toronto Broken Into and Set on Fire by Unknown Persons on 27 January 2024 Morning;Canadian Tamil Congress Condemns Attack on Office; Urges Community Unity Against Hate

(Text of Press Release Issued by the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) on January 29, 2024)

It is with regret we inform our members, supporters and well-wishers that Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) office was broken into and set on fire on early morning of January 27, 2024 by unidentified individuals.

This reprehensible act appears to be motivated by hate, posing a stark contrast to the very values that brought many of our community members to Canada—peace, security, and freedom from violence.

At CTC, we have always stood for inclusivity, diversity, and fostering a welcoming environment for all members of our community. It is deeply distressing to witness such a targeted act of hostility against our values and the principles we hold dear.

CTC is working with local law enforcement agencies, who are actively investigating the incident. We are committed to ensuring that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.

Continue reading ‘Canadian Tamil Congress Office in Toronto Broken Into and Set on Fire by Unknown Persons on 27 January 2024 Morning;Canadian Tamil Congress Condemns Attack on Office; Urges Community Unity Against Hate’ »

10 Member Executive Committee Elected for Akhila Ilankai Tamil Mahasabha at Party’s 10th National Convention. Dr. K.Vigneswaran Elected Leader and Prof.Selvarajah as Chairman

(Text of Media Release Issued by the Akhila Ilankai Tamil Mahasabha on 30 January 2024.)

The Akhila Ilankai Tamil Mahasabha, being a recognized Political Party since 20}6, held its 10th National Annual Convention on 28th January 2024 at the Sarvodaya Auditorium situated on Nilaveli Road, Uppuveli, Trincomalee.

After repealing and replacing its Constitution, the Party elected the 10 key positions to the Executive Committee as follows:
1. Leader: Dr. Kasilingam Vigneswaran
2. Chairman: Prof. (Emeritus) Manahappody Selvarajah.
3. Vice Chairrnan-L: Prof, (Emeritus) Subramaniam Mohanadas.
4. Vice Chairman-2: Mrs” Sugandini Naguleswaran.
5. Secretary: Mr. Sebastian Arokeyanayakam.
6. Tleasurer: Ms. Xavier Catherine
7. National Organiser: Mr. Thevaretnam David Nitharshan .
8. Deputy Secretary: Mrs. Dorin Priyadarshini Aravinthan.
9. Deputy Tbeasurer: Dr” Maximin Francis .
1 0. Deputy National Organiser: Mr. Paramanathan Achchutharaj ah.

The initial Executive Cornmittee consisting of the ten offtce -bearers will, at its very first meeting select the subject-wise Consultants and Coordinators and the District Organisers, all of whom shal{ be part of the final Executive Committee.

Dr.K. Vigneswaran
Leader
30.01.24

Sri Lanka is a country we kill to call our own and yet yearn to leave. If any Western country offers instant visas to all applicants, how many Sri Lankans would be left in this land of serendipity?


By
Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Blessed One, Arhat One, Great Sage Sri Samanthabadra…” Part of the official invitation to the self-proclaimed Arhat cum Chief Sage Samanthabadra to preach his dhamma.

“Mahinda is a religion. Mahinda is a philosophy. Mahinda is a culture and a morality this country needs.” Chief Incumbent of Mirisewetity (Lanka news web – 14.8.2020).

The Tripitaka is silent on the subject but the Buddha’s three visits to the isle of Lanka constitute an article of faith for most Sinhala-Buddhists. Kelaniya is believed to have been the main destination for the third visit, its ancient temple a place of utmost sanctity.

In the modern era, Kelaniya has become a magnet for visitors of a rather different sort. In 2019, just days before the presidential election, it was to Kelaniya that the sovereign of the Cobra World (Naga Lokaya) sent several of his minions bearing 14 relics of the Buddha.

The arrival of the relics, the temple’s chief incumbent told the media, signified that Sri Lanka would get a good leader in 2020. For greater emphasis, devotees were presented with lotus buds, the symbol of the Rajapaksa family’s SLPP. This month, Kelaniya became the chosen destination of Bodhisattva

Awalokitheshwara, who landed in Katunayake from Egypt, and went to the ancient temple in a limousine to preach to his devotees there.

The Bodhisattva and the denizen of the Naga Lokaya both ended up in prison, one in Welikada and the other in a 500 ml plastic water bottle. Their fate harks back to another story: Mapitigama Buddharakkitha Thero, the then chief incumbent of the Kelaniya temple. A key architect of 1956, he too would die in prison, having being convicted of conspiring to assassinate the man he helped make prime minister.

In Sri Lanka, nothing sells as well and as fast as faith. Set up a temple, fashion a distinctive style of preaching or ritualising, use modern technology to attract a group of well-heeled followers, and a monk is set. If the followers include a politician or two – or a media mogul – the elevation from obscurity to fame, from modest means to fortune is lightening. No grotesquery is alien to a nation which considers credulity a virtue and doubt a crime.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is a country we kill to call our own and yet yearn to leave. If any Western country offers instant visas to all applicants, how many Sri Lankans would be left in this land of serendipity?’ »

Sri Lanka’s Political Culture and its Political Leaders are like Puffed up “Pappadams” which Crumble Quickly and easily when Under Pressure


By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardene

Perhaps it is only a politician of Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe’s or his close comrade Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘pedigree’ who has the chutzpah (read, audacity) to talk about Sri Lanka’s ‘pappadum’ political culture, hot on the heels of the Government passing one of the country’s most atrocious laws, the Online Safety Bill.

Tasteful ‘pappadums’ and tasteless politicians?

To clarify the matter to those less acquainted with flavourful local idioms, President Ranil Wickremesinghe was addressing officers of the Customs Department in marking International Customs Day this week when he tossed in that remark. Sri Lanka’s political landscape, he said, often resembles the fleeting nature of a ‘pappadum, put in the pan, enjoyed when it blooms and is soon forgotten until the next day when another one is consumed.’

Per se that observation might not have provoked any adverse reaction except an aside that it is not only the country’s political culture but also, her politicians that are empty and hollow inside. That is precisely the reason why greedy and corrupt political leadership during past decades led to Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy, catapulted her people into penury and led to thousands fleeing her shores, let us not forget.

And in actual fact, I may be doing the famous ‘pappadum’ an injustice when likening this to our infamous politicians from the top down. Certainly the ‘pappadum’ is a transient thing. But at least for some miniscule seconds, it is infinitely enjoyable in tantalizing the taste buds. That is something that can never be said about the motley lot of our past and current politicians. But I digress.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Political Culture and its Political Leaders are like Puffed up “Pappadams” which Crumble Quickly and easily when Under Pressure’ »

Is the ITAK President Elect Shritharan Changing Party Policy From Espousing Federalism to that of Supporting TamiL Eelam?

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The premier political party representing Sri Lankan Tamils in Parliament has got a new leader. The Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party(FP) has elected Jaffna district Parliamentarian Sivagnanam Shritharan as its president in Trincomalee on 21 January 2024. The president elect will be formally installed in office at the party convention to be held on 28 January in Trinco. Shritharan will serve a two-year term as ITAK/FP president.

Initially there were three contenders in the fray for the ITAK Presidency. The three aspirants to the ITAK leadership mantle were Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran, Sivagnanam Shritharan and Seenithamby Yoheswaran. Sumanthiran born in 1964 and Shritharan born in 1968 are both Jaffna district MP’s while Yogeswaran born in 1970 is a former Batticaloa district Parliamentarian.

What was perceived as a triangular contest turned into a duel between Sumanthiran and Shritharan after the “third man” Yoheswaran declared solidarity with Shritharan and called upon his supporters to vote for Shritharan. Both Shritharan and Yoheswaran conducted an overt and covert campaign together against Sumanthiran who was unfairly and viciously attacked as an enemy of “Thamil Thesiyam”(Tamil nationalism) whose victory would ring the death -knell for Tamil nationalism.

Shritharan on the other hand was promoted as the protector of “Thamil Thesiyam” who would follow in the footsteps of the “Thesiyath Thalaiver” or (national leader). Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran who died in May 2009 is referred to by his supporters and sycophants as the Tamil National leader or “Thesiyath Thalaiver”

Sumanthiran’s direct campaign was restrained and dignified. He did not respond to the accusations and allegations levelled covertly and overtly against him by the Shritharan-Yoheswaran duo. He only outlined his plans for the betterment of the party and the Tamil people if he was elected President of ITAK. Sumanthiran did not try to refute the untrue accusation that he was against Tamil Nationalism. He ignored it with supreme disdain. To his credit, Sumanthiran also made no reference to the LTTE in his campaign.

Continue reading ‘Is the ITAK President Elect Shritharan Changing Party Policy From Espousing Federalism to that of Supporting TamiL Eelam?’ »

Tamil Musician and Singer Bhavatharini Dies of Cancer in Sri Lanka on 25 January; 47 Year old daughter of Maestro Ilaiyaraja won Indian National award for song “ Mayil Pola Ponnu Onnu”


By
Janani K

Music director Ilaiyaraaja’s daughter and playback singer Bhavatharini died of cancer on January 25. According to reports, she went to Sri Lanka to get treated for liver cancer. However, she died at around 5 pm in Sri Lanka.

Her body will be brought to Chennai tomorrow, January 26, where the final rites will take place. She is survived by her husband. Bhavatharini was 47 years old.

She is the daughter of Ilaiyaraaja and sister of Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja. She won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback singer for Tamil song, ‘Mayil Pola Ponnu Onnu’ from ‘Bharathi’.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Musician and Singer Bhavatharini Dies of Cancer in Sri Lanka on 25 January; 47 Year old daughter of Maestro Ilaiyaraja won Indian National award for song “ Mayil Pola Ponnu Onnu”’ »

Bharatha’s Killing, Duminda’s Conviction, Gotabaya’s Pardon, Hirunika’s Petition and the Supreme Court’s Historic Ruling.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa was portrayed as a monument of efficiency who could uplift Sri Lanka by his “Viyathmaga” cronies and his family party the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna(SLPP) at the Presidential elections of 2019. More than 6.9 millio people voted him to stupendous success,

Barely three years later Gotabaya fled from Sri Lanka and resigned as President due to a mass uprising against him that was described as the “Aragalaya”. A large number of the people who elected him to office realised belatedly that their hero was an incompetent ,inefficient person who was unfit to be the President of Sri Lanka.

This notion of an inefficient “Vadabari”Gota was further re-inforced this week by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. A three -judge bench comprising Justices Preethi Padman Surasena, Gamini Amarasekara and Arjuna Obeysekera ordered to set aside the Presidential pardon granted by the former President to ex-MP Duminda Silva for not following the Constitutional provisions correctly.Of course some may say this was not merely proof of his inadequacy or inefficiency but also an indication of Gota’s authoritarian arrogance.

Hirunika Mocks

Former Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra mocked the ex- president after the landmark Supreme Court ruling. As is well known,Hirunika is the daughter of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra for whose murder Duminda Silva was convicted. Hirunnika’s FR petition was one of the three taken up by the Supreme Court.

Addressing a media conference ,Hirunika Premachandra said that “Gotabaya Rajapaksa was so ignorant that he could not even adopt the due procedure in granting a Presidential Pardon.” She further alleged that “Gotabaya Rajapaksa gave into pressure by Duminda Silva’s faction and signed the document to grant Duminda Presidential Pardon and ultimately ended up being humiliated”

Continue reading ‘Bharatha’s Killing, Duminda’s Conviction, Gotabaya’s Pardon, Hirunika’s Petition and the Supreme Court’s Historic Ruling.’ »

People’s Tribunal Headed by Justice De Kretzer Condemns Police in Jaffna for Excesses at the IATR World Tamil Research Conference on 10 January 1974.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Fifty years ago in January 1974, the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR) held the fourth World Tamil research conference in Jaffna. Violence was unleashed against Tamil civilians attending a cultural event linked to the conferency by a Police contingent led by the then ASP Chandrasekera. The background to the Jaffna conference and an outline of the Police attack was related in the first part of this article published last week. Further details of the Conference and the Police attack will be the focus in the second and final part of this article.

As stated earlier the government of the day headed by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the only Tamil cabinet minister Chelliah Kumarasuriar wanted the IATR conference to be held at the BMICH in Colombo. But the majority of the organizing committee wanted it to be held in Jaffna. The disgruntled Govt acted in a puerile manner and allegedly adopted obstructionist tactics.

The granting of visas to foreign scholars participating in the conference was delayed. Some were denied entry. A British national of Sri Lankan Tamil origin Dr. Kopalapillai Thillainayagam who arrived in Colombo on a tourist visa was deported. Incidentally Dr. Thillainayagam was the brother of Dr.Mahadeva the joint secretary of the organizing committee. It was Dr. Mahadeva who played a crucial role in gaining the consent of PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike to have the IATR conference in Jaffna.

Public Mood in Jaffna

Continue reading ‘People’s Tribunal Headed by Justice De Kretzer Condemns Police in Jaffna for Excesses at the IATR World Tamil Research Conference on 10 January 1974.’ »

Jaffna District MP Sivagnanam Shritharan Elected as the New President of the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) at Inner Party Meeting in Trincomalee on 21 January 2024.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Jaffna District MP Sivagnanam Shritharan has been elected as the new President of the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party(FP). The inner party election was held on Sunday 21 January 2024 in Trincomalee. Shritharan will be officially declared ITAK President next week when the ITAK party convention takes place in Trinco on 27 28 January. The current President Somasuntharam Senathirajah known as “Maavai” will formally relinquish office then

Two ITAK MPs and one Ex -MP were nominated as candidates for the Presidential election. They were Mathiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran, Sivagnanam Shritharan and Seenithamby Yoheswaran.While Sumanthiran and shritharan currently serve as Jaffna district MP, Yoheswaran is a former MP from Batticaloa district

Continue reading ‘Jaffna District MP Sivagnanam Shritharan Elected as the New President of the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) at Inner Party Meeting in Trincomalee on 21 January 2024.’ »

If a Sri Lankan govt does away with the 13th amendment, can such an arrangement be brought back through domestic domestic process given the fiercely anti devolution mood in the South?

By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

The present Sri Lankan constitution, in place for more than four and a half decades, has seen 21 Amendments. Most of them were brought by incumbent presidents to suit their political interests and were fundamentally anti-democratic.

But the 13th Amendment, which has a relatively democratic dimension in comparison, has long been the subject of intense political controversy. This writer has already discussed several times on the controversies surrounding it.It was brought in to create provincial councils after the July 1987 India-Sri Lanka Peace Agreement and has been a part of the Constitution for three and a half decades.

The author is induced to write about it again by a statement issued last week by former minister and High Commissioner in India Milinda Moragoda.

Moragoda, the founder of the ‘Pathfinder Foundation’, has insisted that the political parties should give priority to the abolition of the provincial council system in their manifestos for the upcoming national elections.

This is not the first time that he has demanded the abolition of the provincial council system. Ahead of the 2020 general elections,he had asked political parties to express their positions in the manifestos regarding the repeal of the 13th amendment and the abolition of the provincial council system.But no party did it.

Moragoda did not speak much about the abolition of provincial councils during his more than two years’ tenure as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India. But after coming back from India, he has started talking seriously about it.

A statement issued by his office reiterated his earlier position that provincial councils should be abolished and their powers given to reorganized local councils.

Continue reading ‘If a Sri Lankan govt does away with the 13th amendment, can such an arrangement be brought back through domestic domestic process given the fiercely anti devolution mood in the South?’ »

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had failed to submit even a single document to establish that he had properly exercised his discretion in Granting a Pardon to Duminda Silva

By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardene

When bare-faced lies are uttered by the President of a country to the apex court of the land, of what worth is the Constitution?

The murky circumstances of the Silva pardon

This question arises in the wake of Wednesday’s ruling by the Supreme Court holding that the pardon granted in 2021 by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to his political ally, Duminda Silva violated Article 12 (1) of the Constitution in that it was, inter alia, arbitrary and irrational amounting to a wrongful exercise of constitutional discretion.

The Rajapaksa pardon had been granted to Silva after his conviction by a majority verdict of the High Court in 2016 along with several other accused for the murder of parliamentarian Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

That conviction was affirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court in 2018. This week’s decision is interesting in its elaboration of the mysterious process under Section 34 (1) under which pardons are granted along with elucidation of the 19th Amendment’s impact on the vexed question of presidential immunity. I will come to these points later. But what stands out most glaringly is the consternation of the Court in trying to unravel the murky circumstances in which the pardon had been granted in the first instance.

The former President had claimed that he had acted bona fide and in the ‘interest of the country,’ not for ‘personal or political affiliation.’ Using Article 33 (h) of the Constitution which obliges the President to do ‘acts and things’ that would not be inconsistent with the Constitution or written law, the Court summarily dismissed an effort by his lawyers to argue that its review should be confined to whether the formal requirements of Section 34 had been met or not.

Continue reading ‘Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had failed to submit even a single document to establish that he had properly exercised his discretion in Granting a Pardon to Duminda Silva’ »

Shritharan Backed by Yoheswaran Asks Sumanthiran not to Contest the ITAK President Election.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Suma, Shri And Yohes In Triangular Contest For ITAK/FP Leadership” was the heading of my article published in the “Daily Mirror”of 16 December 2024. Ihe article was about the forthcoming election for the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) President post. The ITAK known as the Federal Party (FP) in English is the premier political Party of the Northern and Eastern Tamils of Sri Lanka. Currently the ITAK/FP has six MPs in Parliament representing the two Northern and three Eastern electoral districts.

As stated earlier the ITAK’s long delayed party convention is scheduled for January 27 and 28 this year in Trincomalee. A crucial change of leadership is on the cards as the current ITAK President Somasuntharam Senathirajah known as “Maavai” is on the verge of “compulsory retirement”. “Maavai” has been ITAK President since 2014.

Hence, a new President will be elected one week before the convention at a combined meeting of the ITAK “Podhu Sabhai”(General Council) and “Mathiya Seyal Kuzhu” (Central working Committee) to be held on 21 January in Trincomalee. Around 325 persons from the General council and 50 from the Central Working Committee will elect the new president.Voting is by secret ballot. Voting by proxy is not allowed.

Three contenders are in the fray for the ITAK Presidency. The three aspirants to the ITAK leadership mantle are Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran, Sivagnanam Shritharan and SeenithambyYoheswaran. As is well known, Sumanthiran and Shritharan are both Jaffna district MP’s while Yogeswaran is a former Batticaloa district Parliamentarian.

Continue reading ‘Shritharan Backed by Yoheswaran Asks Sumanthiran not to Contest the ITAK President Election.’ »

The Killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Three Bodyguards in the Mulleriyawe Shoot-out near Walpola Junction.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The shooting of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and conviction of Duminda Silva was a controversial episode in contemporary Sri Lankan history. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra known as “Lucky Aiya” and three of his bodyguards were killed on 8 October 2011 in a shoot-out near the Walpola junction close to Mulleriyawa town, about six miles away from Colombo city. Another bodyguard was seriously injured.
Elections to several Local Authorities were being held on that day. Among these was the Kotikawatte-Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra had been engaged in hectic canvassing on that day when the incident occurred.

The clash was not between two rival political parties. It was between two groups of fellow United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) activists. One group was led by former Colombo MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. The other was led by the then Colombo District MP Duminda Silva. The Kotikawatte-Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha election was a “proxy battle” for preference votes within the UPFA between Premachandra and Silva. Bharatha backed his disciple and incumbent Chairman Prasanna Solangaarachchi. Duminda Silva worked against him and propped up another.

At the time of his death Premachandra was serving as an Adviser on Trade Unions to President Mahinda eajapaksa. The former Colombo District MP had lost the elections of 2004 and 2010. He had been replaced as Kolonnawa Electoral Organiser by Duminda Silva who had crossed over from the UNP. Premachandra resented this and there was a political turf war between him and Duminda Silva. The Local Authority Poll became a prestige battle.

The campaign was nasty and marred by violence. Bharatha Lakshman with three decades of political experience turned it into a moral crusade against drugs and drug dealers. Popular antipathy towards the “kudukaraya” menace in Kolonnawa struck a responsive chord in the hearts and minds of the voters.

When results were announced it was a great political triumph for Bharatha. His “candidate” had got a record number of 42,322 preferences. His rival’s nominee had only got 5,811 preferences. The voters had overwhelmingly endorsed Bharatha Lakshman’s war against the drug mafia. In the process Premachandra had demonstrated that he was still a political force in the area. Sadly Bharatha Lakshman was not alive to savour his victory. Fate’s moving finger had written his epitaph already.

Continue reading ‘The Killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Three Bodyguards in the Mulleriyawe Shoot-out near Walpola Junction.’ »

Hirunika Premachandra’s Letter to Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he issued a Presidential Pardon to Duminda Silva Convicted of Killing Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Supreme Court Order Squashing the Presidential pardon granted by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Ex-MP Duminda Silva has once again turned the media spotlight on the chief victim Bharatha Lakshman’s courageous daughter Hirunika Premachandra. The former MP has earned the sympathy and admiration of many people by her doughty campaign for justice and against injustice.

When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned her father’s convicted killer on the Poson Poya day of 24 June 2021. Hirunika Premachandra wrote an emotional letter in Sinhala to the executive president. The “Colombo Telegraph” website published an English translation. The insightful letter encapsules the essence of what happened before and after the killing of her father. More importantly, it is somewhat prophetic when viewed against the backdrop of the “Aragalaya” anti-Rajapaksa agitation that resulted in the downfall of the Rajapaksa regime and ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The English version of the letter published in Colombo Telegraph is reproduced in full here –

Written on Poson Full Moon Poya Day, 24 June 2021

H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa

President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Presidential Secretariat

Colombo.

Your Excellency,

Re: Granting Presidential Pardon to R. Duminda Silva, who was convicted for the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra by seven Judges.

I am the daughter of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, Trade Union Adviser to your brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and former Member of Parliament.

On October 8, 2011, my beloved father was shot and killed in broad daylight, his body riddled with over 20 bullets. Two High Court judges convicted former MP R. Duminda Silva of his murder, and their ruling was upheld by five judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice. Today, you granted him a presidential pardon.

On that fateful day, my mother and I received an anonymous telephone call informing us that my father had been shot. We did not panic initially, because we were used to such phone calls. In the past they had always been followed up with confirmation that my father was safe from harm.

Continue reading ‘Hirunika Premachandra’s Letter to Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he issued a Presidential Pardon to Duminda Silva Convicted of Killing Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’ »

The “ MGR” Mystique: Unique Phenomenon of MG Ramachandran in the Cinematic Politics of Tamil Nadu.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour. Among the Indian states, it is the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu that is closest to the island. Tamil Nadu meaning “Tamil Land/Country” is home to more than 72 million people. Since 1967, Tamil Nadu has been ruled by political parties adhering to what is termed as Dravidian ideology. ‘Dravidianism’ in essence espouses economic development, social justice, equality, elimination of caste discrimination, women emancipation, secularism, rationalism, self-respect, greater cooperation among South Indian states, opposition to Hindi imposition and a Tamil national consciousness.

The ‘Dravidian’ political ideology has been ruling the roost in Tamil Nadu for the past 57 years. Either the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) or its alternative the All India Anna-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) have been enjoying political power in the State.

In spite of this “Dravidian” heritage of rationalism and self-respect, it is Tamil Nadu that has allowed film stars to exercise political hegemony among Indian states. M.G. Ramachandran known as “MGR” became the first film star to take up chief ministership of an Indian state. MGR though ethnically a Malayalee made a name for himself as an actor in Tamil films and followed it up by becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state. MGR the founder-leader of the AIADMK ruled from 1977 to 1987 being elected thrice as chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977, 1980 and 1985.

Maruthur Gopalamenon Ramachandran or M.G. Ramachandran was born on 17 January 1917, His 107th birth anniversary will be celebrated on Wednesday (17). This article therefore focuses on the cinematic politics of MGR to denote his Birthday this week by outlining the cinematic politics and tracing his journey from leading Tamil film actor to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

Continue reading ‘The “ MGR” Mystique: Unique Phenomenon of MG Ramachandran in the Cinematic Politics of Tamil Nadu.’ »

Sri Lankan Supreme Court Quashes the “Arbitrary and Irrational” Presidential Pardon Granted by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Convicted Killer Duminda Silva

By

Meera Srinivasan

The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Wednesday revoked the presidential pardon granted to a former parliamentarian convicted for murdering a political rival.

Ruling on the case challenging former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s 2021 pardon of ex-MP Duminda Silva, the country’s top court deemed the decision “arbitrary and irrational”, and directed prison authorities to implement the sentence.

The SC’s verdict pertains to the conviction of Mr. Silva and four others for the murder of Bharatha Laxman Premachandra — Mr. Silva’s rival within the party, helmed by Mahinda Rajapaksa — in October 2011.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Supreme Court Quashes the “Arbitrary and Irrational” Presidential Pardon Granted by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Convicted Killer Duminda Silva’ »

Dr.Upul Dissanayake Hailed by Patients as “The Miracle Doctor” Elected as the next President of the Ceylon College of Physicians.

by

Krishantha Prasad Cooray

In a country of cosmetic changes where ‘new faces’ deliver disappointment or worse, it was indeed heartening to learn that Dr Upul Dissanayake has been elected as the next President of the Ceylon College of Physicians.

I first met him years ago, but it didn’t take that long for me to understand why he is so popular among patients. He struck me as an exceptionally charismatic physician. His sincerity and willingness to listen to patients set him apart.

My father-in-law, whose life may have been saved many times due to his intervention, refers to Dr Dissanayake as “The Miracle Doctor.” I have met dozens of patients who share the same sentiments. Many remarking: “After you have a chat with him, you immediately feel better.” They know, as I have, that even if you see him at 1 am in a hospital he will greet you with a broad smile.

He injects confidence in his patients. He explains things in a way that patients can understand. What I admire most about him is his simplicity and his love for Sri Lanka.

He is one doctor I know who will never leave Sri Lanka, no matter what. He just wants to play his part in turning things around in our much-ravaged country and for this he will go the extra mile. It could be fighting the dengue menace or in his own way encouraging colleagues to rethink the option of seeking greener pastures abroad.
In particular, Dr Upul Dissanayake never stops thinking about less advantaged people; he thinks about and finds ways of uplifting their day-to-day life.

Continue reading ‘Dr.Upul Dissanayake Hailed by Patients as “The Miracle Doctor” Elected as the next President of the Ceylon College of Physicians.’ »

Jan 1974 World Tamil Conference in Jaffna, Poiice Attack on Public and Civilian Deaths .

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

A significant event in the post-independence history of the Sri Lankan Tamils took place fifty years ago on 10 January 1974 in Jaffna. A joyful cultural celebration was marred by the Sri Lankan Police unleashing violence against Tamil civilans. Ecstasy turned into agony when the panic-stricken people ran helter – skelter for safety. Seven persons died of electrocution when electric wires were dislodged by Police firing in the air. Another died of a heart attack in the melee. The fiftieth death anniversary of the tragic victims was commemorated in Jaffna on Wednesday.(Jan 10).

This columnist then a 19 year old lived in Jaffna and attended the research conference related events. The course of events are yet embedded in memory. What happened then was this.

The fourth world Tamil Research Conference of the International Association of Tamil Research(IATR) was held in Jaffna from January 3rd to 9th 1974.. The conference attended by several Internationally reputed Tamil scholars was purely academic and restricted to a selected audience. However a cultural event was held on Jan 10 for a mass audience with the participation of some of the international Tamil scholars. The huge crowdSeveral awards were handed out at the event. estimated between 10 to 15,000 spilled over into some streets and roads also.

A platform had been erected in the precincts of Veerasingham hall where the conference had taken place. The crowds attending the event were within Vee0rasingham hall premises and the Jaffna esplanade. The road between the hall and esplanade was full of people. Initially the Police cooperated fully with the organizers and even re-directed traffic along other roads to divert vehicles away from the crowds.. The Police also ensured proper parking of vehicles. The Policemen on duty at the event had no problems with the people and even engaged in amiable conversation with them.

Continue reading ‘Jan 1974 World Tamil Conference in Jaffna, Poiice Attack on Public and Civilian Deaths .’ »

The solution for Sri Lanka is to enact a narrowly drafted Anti-Terror Act that does not cause unholy confusion between who is a terrorist and who is not.


By

Kishali Pinto -Jayawardene

When Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister calls upon an opposing parliamentary colleague taking issue with the ‘new’ Anti-Terrorism Bill tabled in Parliament this week, to justify where and in what country, anti-terrorism laws are solely dispensed with, he is missing the wood for the trees to put it mildly.


The burden of the State

The Minister must refrain from engaging in classically ad hominem arguments when he tries to meet his critics on the floor of the House. Rather, his and his Government’s task on hand is to counter the critique of the Bill as ‘seriously flawed’ by discharging the burden in establishing that national security needs have been fairly balanced with the constitutional rights of citizens.

Does this ‘new’ Bill, which by the way is merely the ‘old’ version gazetted in September 2023, reflect that ‘fair balance’? Or does it repeat the ‘same old, same old’ while posing additional dangers?

To be fair, there is one positive difference between the September 2023 gazetted Bill and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA, 1979). The obnoxious provision in the PTA allowing confessions made to a senior police officer to be admissible has been taken out.

Of course, this is too little, too late for thousands of detainees convicted wholly on the strength of confessions extracted through torture during past decades.

Even so, this change is welcome in preventing (otherwise) indefensible convictions which promotes the spread of terrorism and radicalises victims and their families. The Justice Minister also pointed to the fact that stipulating the extension of the period of detention to be by way of a judicial order as a positive safeguard.

Continue reading ‘The solution for Sri Lanka is to enact a narrowly drafted Anti-Terror Act that does not cause unholy confusion between who is a terrorist and who is not.’ »

Former Badulla MP Chaminda Wijesiri says what made him resign from Parliament was the sense of betrayal he felt when his own SJB Colleagues Failed to Support him at the Parliamentary Ethics Committee against him

By Sandun Jayawardana

On Parliament’s first sitting day on Tuesday, Badulla District Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) parliamentarian Chaminda Wijesiri, making a shocking announcement, told the House that he chose to resign as the people had rejected all 225 MPs in the present Parliament and that it no longer had the people’s mandate.

Mr. Wijesiri also said the immense difficulties he faced the previous week compelled him to submit his resignation as an MP.
Those difficulties related to a complaint against him being taken up by Parliament’s Committee on Ethics and Privileges. What caused him “immense pain” and finally prompted the disillusioned MP to resign was the sense of betrayal he felt after some of his own SJB colleagues failed to support him at this inquiry, Mr. Wijesiri told the Sunday Times.

He said he had to appear before the Ethics and Privileges Committee due to a complaint that he had used abusive language against a senior Parliament official. According to the former MP, the complaint stemmed from an incident several months ago when he wanted to make a speech earlier than scheduled as he had to pick up his child. Mr. Wijesiri claimed Assistant Opposition Whip Gayantha Karunathilake had asked Parliament officials to allow him to make his speech earlier, but one Parliament official did not permit this. “I was incensed by this action, and when the opportunity was given to speak, the tone of my speech changed according to my emotions. I called the official a thief and a political thug.”

Continue reading ‘Former Badulla MP Chaminda Wijesiri says what made him resign from Parliament was the sense of betrayal he felt when his own SJB Colleagues Failed to Support him at the Parliamentary Ethics Committee against him’ »

Whither the “Ilankaith Thamizhar” (Lankan Tamils) of Sri Lanka?


By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The ringing in of a new year is a time for reflection,re-appraisal and renewal. The year 2024 marks the 94th anniversary of universal franchise and the 76th anniversary of Independence from Britain for the Island nation. 2024 also marks the 15th anniversary of the end of its three decade long “civil” war.

The effects of this lengthy war were felt in all parts of the country and affected all of its people. While there is no denying that the war impacted on all the people of Sri Lanka it must be admitted that the Tamil people of the North and East bore the brunt of suffering . Also the Tamil inhabited regions of the North and East became in practice the theatre of war. The protracted nature of the conflict saw the north and east virtually turning into a “scorched earth”.

The hopelessly beleaguered Tamils have paid a heavy price for engaging in this uneven war. The Tamil people have undergone a war of lengthy duration that was in scale and scope excessively disproportionate to their numbers and capacity.The war may have ended but the consequences of prolonged conflict are yet being felt and will continue to be felt for a very long time.

Quo Vadis?

It is against this backdrop that this column poses the question “Whither the Tamils of Sri Lanka?”. It stems from the latin phrase “Quo vadis?”meaning “where are you going?”.Quo vadis is translated in poetic form as “whither bound?” or “whither goest thou?”

The phrase has its origin in Christian tradition. It is supposedly the first words uttered by Jesus’s disciple Peter to the risen Christ. .Idiomatically this phrase calls upon individuals and groups to evaluate their sense of direction and purpose, entreating them to reflect on their goals and re- assess the consequences of their current actions or future choices.

January

Posing the question Whither the “Ilankai Thamizhar” (Lankan Tamils) of Sri Lanka? at the beginning of the year in the month of January is qute relevant and apt within the Tamil ethos too. “Thai Piranthaal Vazhi Pirakkum” is a popular saying in Tamil about the month of January or “Thai” in Tamil. It’s meaning in English would be something like this – “When January is born, a way will dawn”.

The birth of January in the Hindu Almanack is in mid-January according to the Western calendar. It generally co-incides with the Tamil harvest festival called “Pongal” or “Thaippongal”.It is usually a season of Thanksgiving and celebration.

Amidst the atmosphere of festive joy, it is also a time of individual and group reflection where the past is re-examined critically, present re-assessed pragmatically and future plans renewed optimistically.

It is in that context therefore that this column focuses on the past,present and future of Sri Lankan Tamils in this series of articles titled “Whither the “Ilankaith Thamizhar”of Sri Lanka?. The objective is to briefly examine the past with the wisdom of hindsight, analyse the present and present a prognosis of a potential future. The articles will be published intermittently and not consecutively.

Continue reading ‘Whither the “Ilankaith Thamizhar” (Lankan Tamils) of Sri Lanka?’ »

How Former LTTE Deputy Leader Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias “Mahathaya” was Arrested on 3 August 1993 and Executed on 28 December 1994.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) had for long enjoyed the reputation of being a cohesive ,monolithic organization.Whatever the differences within the LTTE, the Tigers, to their credit, were able to project to the outsider a picture of impregnable unity. Despite the rumblings of discontent that have arisen at various times within the LTTE, those sounds were never permitted to reach external ears.

This “unity” image however was seriously dented in August 1993 when the then deputy leader of the LTTE , Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias “Mahathaya” was taken into custody by the movement’s former intelligence chief Shanmugalingam Sivashankar alias “Pottu Ammaan”. A large number of suspected Mahathaya loyalists were also arrested. The former tiger deputy chief was detained and interrogated on charges of plotting to overthrow tiger supremo Prabhakaran and take over the LTTE leadership. After 16 months of incarceration, Mahathaya was executed on 28 December 1994.

It was this writer who scooped 29 years ago, the news of Mahathaya’s arrest and detention at the hands of the organization of which he was the deputy leader. I first broke the story in Tamil for te Tamil weekly “Muncharie”that I was editing in Toronto then. Subsequently I broke the story in the English language media through articles in the Indian newsmagazine “Frontline” and “The Island” English daily in Sri Lanka.

The arrest,detention,interrogation and execution of tiger deputy chief Mahendrarajah alias Mahathaya is a sordid chapter in LTTE history. The Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Ammaan was acting on the instructions of his boss and LTTE numero uno Veluppillai Prabhakaran. It is against this backdrop that this column focuses on the arrest and execution of Mahathaya with the aid of earlier writings.

Continue reading ‘How Former LTTE Deputy Leader Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias “Mahathaya” was Arrested on 3 August 1993 and Executed on 28 December 1994.’ »

Lasantha’s “Sunday Leader”’ was a long and sustained “Aragalaya” against Racism,Nepotism and Corruption and the newspaper was an early warning system coupled with a call to action.

By

Dilrukshi Handunnetti

(Text of message delivered at Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Grave, Borella on 8 January 2024)

Fifteen years is a long time. A very long time to wait for justice and closure.

Just now we spoke about keeping memories alive. Memories stay strong and our memories have made this gathering possible.

But why are we here? What do we remember about Lasantha that makes us visit his grave? Is it to weep at his grave? What is it that we remember of him and celebrate about him? Please take a moment to reflect on our reasons for being here.

I think we do not want to forget. And there is much we do not wish to forget.

I come from Lasantha’s empowering editorial. There is much in my life that has changed for the better due to his guidance.

The anti-corruption reporting is a humble tribute to this great man. Lasantha was extra ordinary. He was an endearing human being, a trail blazer, a brilliant journalist, lawyer, and a humanist. He contained multitudes. He was also a man who had the courage to propose and mainstream an alternate media narrative, unpopular with those in power but a vivid reflection of the times.

Continue reading ‘Lasantha’s “Sunday Leader”’ was a long and sustained “Aragalaya” against Racism,Nepotism and Corruption and the newspaper was an early warning system coupled with a call to action.’ »

An unholy nexus between police abusers and politicians is very much out in the open, in the highly mis-titled ‘Yukthiya’ (‘Justice’) operation spearheaded by Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennekoon.

By

Kishali Pinto -Jayawardene

Whether in regard to war crimes, gross corruption or economic white collar crimes, unearthing accountability in Sri Lanka is somewhat akin to peeling away multiple layers of a rotten onion. First, the stench overwhelms you. Secondly, each layer is correspondingly more decayed than the previous. Finally, one is left with the core which is but a revolting mass of pulpy nothingness, to be consigned to the dustbin.

Another ‘showpiece’ transitional justice body?

These less than propitious thoughts at the dawn of a less than propitious New Year are compelled by the necessary (albeit reluctant) scrutiny of the Bill seeking to establish a so-called ‘Commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation.’ Essentially, if a private entity with more money than commonsense wished to establish bodies with grievously overlapping mandates such as an Office on Missing Persons (OMP), an Office for National Unity and Reconciliation and now, a Commission on those same lines, that is not our business.

If so, we may hold our tongues and say ‘good luck’ to that process. But the problem is when the State spearheads these efforts, when ‘showpiece’ bodies are touted as being what Sri Lankan victims have asked for and when public funds of no inconsiderable amount are expended. Finally, the ‘mountain in labour gives birth to a mouse,’ which must inevitably be the case. And then, where are we? Worse off than before.

Why is a ‘mouse’ so inevitable, someone might ask? In July last year, I answered that question in a caustic reflection as apt now as it was then (‘Go to the law, not another truth and reconciliation charade’, Focus on Rights, July 2nd 2023).

Pointing to thousands of cases where the criminal justice law had been subverted to prevent accountability for extraordinary human rights violations, it was reminded that the priority is to correct systemic failings.

Continue reading ‘An unholy nexus between police abusers and politicians is very much out in the open, in the highly mis-titled ‘Yukthiya’ (‘Justice’) operation spearheaded by Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennekoon.’ »

Gruesome Killing of Five Tamil Students in Trinco Town: Emblematic Case of Impunity

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This article written in January 2022 is re-posted here without changes to mark the 18th anniversary of the gruesome killings)

A solemn, low key memorial event was held in Trincomalee town on Sunday January 2nd. Relatives and friends laid flowers and lit candles and lamps in memory of five Tamil youths killed in Trincomalee town on Jan 2nd 2006. The incident that happened sixteen years ago for which justice was not done is widely known among human rights circles as the “Trinco – 5” case of Sri Lanka. It is regarded as an emblematic case of impunity. So much so that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michele Bachelet mentioned the incident under the section on “Impunity in emblemtic cases” in her Annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2021.The relevant excerpt is as follows –

UNHRC

“In previous reports to the Human Rights Council, OHCHR has tracked the investigation and prosecution of emblematic cases as a key measure of Sri Lanka’s commitment to ending impunity. These include the killing of five Tamil students in Trincomalee and of 17 humanitarian workers in Muttur in 2006; the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge in 2009; the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda in 2010; the killing of protestors by army personnel during a demonstration at Weliwerya in August 2013; the anti-Muslim riots in Aluthgama in 2014 and Digana, in 2018, as well as others. Despite investigations over the years by domestic Commissions of Inquiry and the police, and the arrest of some suspects and trials at bar, not a single emblematic case has been brought to a successful conclusion or conviction.”

Continue reading ‘Gruesome Killing of Five Tamil Students in Trinco Town: Emblematic Case of Impunity’ »

The Tragic Plight of Lionair 602 Flight 25 Years ago.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

When the Tigers Shot Down the Lionair Flight 602 in the Mannar Sea-PART TWO

The focus of this two-part article is the tragic plight of Lionair 602 flight twenty-five years ago. The first part of this article published last week related how the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) shot down an Antonov 24 carrying 48 passengers and 7 crew on 29 September 1998. This second and final part will describe the prevailing circumstances before and after the downing of Flight 602 in the seas off Mannar coast by the LTTE known widely as the tigers.The tragic incident of 1998 occurred during the long war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE ended in May 2009.

As stated earlier the Sri Lankan Army had re- captured Jaffna through “Operation Riviresa” in 1995-96. Earlier the LTTE had been in control of the area. Even though the Jaffna peninsula was controlled by the state, Jaffna remained inaccessible by land from the rest of the country as the LTTE continued to control a major portion of the northern mainland, known as the Wanni. Transport to and from the Jaffna peninsula was possible only by air or sea.

Civilians were earlier flown to and from Jaffna in Air Force flights, for a fee. From August 1996, civilian air transport was handed over to Lion Airlines, a private airline. The airline, which enjoyed a monopoly in this area, immediately increased the fare to almost double the earlier rate. Operating flights from Colombo to Jaffna and back was highly lucrative. The demand for transport to Jaffna was tremendous and there was always a long waiting list. Subsequently, a second private airline, “Monara”, was allowed to operate flights to Jaffna.

The LTTE was then in possession of anti-aircraft missiles. The tigers had from 1996 onwards brought down a few Sri Lankan Air Force planes and helicopters by firing surface to air , SAM-7 missiles. As such SLAF aircraft usually flew far out to the sea from Palaly and proceeded towards Colombo.

When civilan flights between Jaffna and Colombo commenced, the planes were asked to observe the same safe routes in the interests of civilian passenger safety. This rule however was frequently observed in the breach by the airlines concerned.

In a bid to cut down on fuel costs and reduce flying time, the passenger planes regularly deviated from the safe route and flew by the shorter route hugging the northern coast. According to the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) report, this was known to Flight Control at Palaly and the Defence Ministry had been directly told about it. But no effective action was taken.

Continue reading ‘The Tragic Plight of Lionair 602 Flight 25 Years ago.’ »

It is unfortunate that Sri Lankan Tamil politics is increasingly becoming a laughing stock! Is there a Tamil leader today who commands wide acceptance among the Tamil people in both the Northern and Eastern provinces?

By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Sri Lanka has seen eight Presidential elections after the introduction of Executive Presidency in 1978. But no previous election has been hyped like the upcoming Presidential election months before it is due to be held.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was elected by Parliament for the remainder of the term of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after he resigned under a cloud in July 2022, can only remain in office until November 18 this year.

According to the constitution, the next Presidential election should be held within a period of not less than one month and not more than two months before the end of the term of office of the President.
Therefore, the next Presidential election should be held between September 18 and October 18 this year. The date for the election will be determined by the National Election Commission.

There was a stage when there was a serious suspicion that President Wickremesinghe, who postponed the local government elections indefinitely citing the economic crisis, might try to delay the national elections as well. However, he announced several times in recent months that the Presidential elections will be held later this year, followed by parliamentary elections.

Even after his announcement, there is widespread doubt in political circles as to which election will be held first. The President had the power to dissolve the current parliament at any time after February 20, 2023.

Many political observers had commented that Wickramasinghe might dissolve Parliament and go for the general election by the coming March to facilitate the creation of a favourable political situation for him to face the presidential elections.
However, the main opposition political parties have started preparing themselves for the Presidential election since the middle of last year.

Continue reading ‘It is unfortunate that Sri Lankan Tamil politics is increasingly becoming a laughing stock! Is there a Tamil leader today who commands wide acceptance among the Tamil people in both the Northern and Eastern provinces?’ »

Graveside memorial service to mark 15th anniversary of Lasantha’s assassination – On Monday 8 January 9 a.m. at Borella Kanatte

The 15th anniversary of the assassination of The Sunday Leader founder Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge, which falls on Monday, 8 January, will be marked with a service at his graveside.
Family, friends, former colleagues, and others will gather at Borella Kanatte at 9 a.m. to mark the anniversary and remember Lasantha.

Assassinated on 8 January 2009, Lasantha was one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists and an outspoken critic of the then Rajapaksa Government. He was attacked as he drove to work and later died of his injuries.

The brazen attack was carried out by two gunmen on motorcycles in the middle of morning-rush-hour traffic.

The investigation into Lasantha’s murder has yielded no tangible results thus far and his killers still roam free, 15 years later.

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

Ranil Wickremesinghe was more correct than his opponents when he opted for direct taxation to raise revenue; by returning to the seemingly easy path of hiking indirect taxes, he has regressed to the economic-policy-levels of those who seek to replace him.


By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“We talk about Tiananmen Square being all about democracy; it was because they had runaway inflation. The French Revolution wasn’t about liberté, fraternité, egalité, it was about rampant food price inflation” – Albert Edwards (Societe Generale: Global Strategy Alternative View)

In China Mieville’s speculative murder mystery, The City & The City, two cities, Beszel and Ul Qoma, occupy the same territory. The citizens of each city are trained from infancy to unsee the other. They exist with each other all their lives without ever seeing, hearing, thinking about or consciously acknowledging each other.

Sri Lanka was always many Sri Lankas, divided vertically along ethno-religious and horizontally along class-caste lines. Perhaps our only moment of unity came as an unintended consequence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s economic insanity. Even the pandemic, a common danger, was experienced differently by Lankans (especially the urban poor and the Muslims). But in the fuel and gas queues of 2022, there was a rare sense of togetherness. From tenement gardens to luxury apartments, via middle-class houses, Gota go home rose as a single cry.

That conjunctural unity evaporated once Gota was made to go home. A speedy resolution of the Rajapaksa-wrought crisis was a common demand, but the recovery is being experienced differently by Lankans.

This difference was manageable so long as policy makers tried not to burden, further, the already overburdened poor/vulnerable segments through indirect tax and rate hikes. Indeed, during the first post-Gotabaya year, commendable efforts were made to distribute the costs of economic recovery with some fairness. But this effort now lies largely abandoned.

Ranil Wickremesinghe was more correct than his opponents when he opted for direct taxation to raise revenue; by returning to the seemingly easy path of hiking indirect taxes, he has regressed to the economic-policy-levels of those who seek to replace him.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe was more correct than his opponents when he opted for direct taxation to raise revenue; by returning to the seemingly easy path of hiking indirect taxes, he has regressed to the economic-policy-levels of those who seek to replace him.’ »

When the Tigers Shot Down the Lionair Flight 602 in the Mannar Sea.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Twenty-five years ago an Antonov 24 aircraft carrying fifty-five civilians from Jaffna to Colombo was shot down over the Gulf of Mannar by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 29 September 1998. The LTTE known as tigers was then at war with the Sri Lankan armed forces. Of the fifty- five on board forty-eight were passengers and seven crew. All the 48 passengers were Tamil. The 4 -member cockpit crew were Ukrainian nationals while the 3 cabin crew were Sinhalese.

Shooting down a plane with civilians was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka’s long war.The tragic fate of Flight LN 602 would under normal circumstances have been the epicentre of a major controversy. But a censorship was in force then. The censorship prevented precise reporting of the incident within Sri Lanka then. I too had to write a detailed article about the incident and its ramifications for an Indian journal, so as not to fall under the purview of censorship prevailing in Lanka then.It is against this backdrop that this column re-visits the colossal tragedy 25 years later in this two part article.

The main players in this deplorable drama , such as the Sri Lankan Government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the airline concerned, Lion Airlines, all have to share the blame in different degrees for what had happened. Nevertheless, it was the self-proclaimed liberators of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, the LTTE, which was primarily responsible for the tragedy.. All available evidence pointed to that organisation as being responsible for shooting down the plane.

Thus the LTTE scored another despicable “first” – it became the first organisation claiming to fight for the rights of a particular ethnic group that shot down deliberately a civilian plane carrying passengers who were all members of that ethnic group. However the LTTE escaped being condemned universally for this outrage at that time ,mainly because of the prevailing censorship and the lackadaisical attitude displayed by the Government and Lion Airlines.

In order to clearly comprehend what had happened it is necessary to delve into the environment that existed then. The available details reflect badly on all parties concerned-the Govt, the LTTE and the airline.

Continue reading ‘When the Tigers Shot Down the Lionair Flight 602 in the Mannar Sea.’ »

Sri Lanka’s First Muslim Chief Minister Najeeb Abdul Majeed.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Mohammed Najeeb Abdul Majeed created history eleven years ago when he was sworn in as the Chief minister of the Eastern province on 18 September 2012 by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Najeeb Abdul Majeed known popularly as Najeeb achieved two significant “firsts” then . Not only did he become the first Muslim chief minister of the Eastern Province but more importantly Najeeb also gained the honour of being Sri Lanka’s first ever Muslim chief minister.

The affable Najeeb who recorded these two remarkable firsts passed away due to illness last week at a private hospital in Colombo on 22 December 2023. The funeral took place at night on the same day in Najeeb’s hometown of Kinniya in the Trincomalee district. 66 year old Najeeb Abdul Majeed is survived by his wife and five children. This article focuses on Najeeb’s eventful life with special emphasis on the circumstances that led to his elevation as Lanka’s first Muslim chief minister.

Trincomalee District

Let me commence with a brief description about Muslim political history in the Trincomalee district. After Independence ,Trincomalee district had two single- member electorates from 1947 to 1960. One was the Tamil majority Trincomalee Constituency and the other, the Muslim majority Mutur pronounced as “Moodhoor” in Tamil. Although the electorate was named Mutur which had a substantial mixed population of Muslims and Tamils, the area where Muslims were largely concentrated was Kinniya, the hometown of Najeeb. It is about 20 km away from Trinco town and about 240 km from Colombo. Kinniya with over 97% Muslims has been the determining factor in the Muslim politics of Trincomalee.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s First Muslim Chief Minister Najeeb Abdul Majeed.’ »

Deshabandu Tennekoon along with Tiran Alles and Sagala Ratnayake presides over a media parade, ironically titled ‘Yukthiya’ (Justice) in catching ‘sprats’ of the drug underworld while their political and police Godfathers escape the net.

By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardene

As Sri Lanka’s newest Bribery Commission cracks its shell with more than a smidgen of difficulty in the backdrop of ugly strain between its metaphorical parents, the Constitutional Council and President Ranil Wickremesinghe, circumstances can hardly be less propitious for this fledgling creature to survive, let alone thrive.

Ministers and the proverbial figleaves

The Commission is established under a law which the President once airily promised, ‘would be the best in South Asia’ regardless of all the lessons that history teaches us on the sharp difference between a ‘law’ and its implementation. One does not need to go very far to highlight the paradoxes. The President’s own Cabinet is stuffed with (alleged) gross corruptors, the latest scandal linked to the former Minister of Health regarding the unbelievably unconscionable procurement of substandard human immunoglobulin.

This is in the wake of two suspects including the former Secretary to the Ministry of Health alleging that their statements to the Minister’s culpability had not been properly recorded by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Commonsense dictates that the Minister concerned does not have a fig-leaf with which to cover himself. But commonsense is, of course, different from the rigorous course of the law. That is why we advisedly use the term ‘alleged.’

This caution is expressed entirely tongue-in-cheek, if the meaning has to be made clearer to the dim-witted among us. But public sentiment has no such reservations, the question is (legitimately) asked as to why the Minister concerned, continues to serve in the Cabinet with another portfolio. In other words, the mood in the court of public opinion is unforgiving if not murderously angry. It is the man and woman on the street who have to pay with their lives for these frauds, not the rich who retreat to private hospitals or flee to Singapore after all.

Continue reading ‘Deshabandu Tennekoon along with Tiran Alles and Sagala Ratnayake presides over a media parade, ironically titled ‘Yukthiya’ (Justice) in catching ‘sprats’ of the drug underworld while their political and police Godfathers escape the net.’ »

Five of my Favourite Christmas Carols – How they Originated and Became Widely Popular

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERY ONE! COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON TO ALL!

Nativity Scene at Bandaranaike International Airport – Katunayake, Sri Lanka – Dec 2022

It’s Christmas season again!

An integral part of Christmas is the singing of Christmas carols in churches as well as at events celebrating Christmas.

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The Many Faces of Christmas – Shaped Wooden Puzzle from Sri Lanka ~ Photographed at an exhibit of over 900 nativity scenes hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eugene, Oregon, USA-pic-by Mary Harrsch

There was a time when carolling was an important part of Christmas. ‘’Carol parties” including someone dressed as Santa claus would visit the homes of church members during night and sing carols.Refreshments would be served at each and every home. A few firecrackers too would be lit.

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

This practice of carolling has become near extinct but happily the tradition of conducting special carol services and carol festivals continue. Most church services relating to Christmas feature the singing of carols.Christmas dinners and parties too witness loud carol singing though not tuneful at all times.

Even though large gatherings at home and elsewhere are not possible this Christmas the singing and playing of carols is still possible albeit on a limited scale.

Continue reading ‘Five of my Favourite Christmas Carols – How they Originated and Became Widely Popular’ »

Popular Tamil Cinema Actor and DMDK Party Founder -Leader Vijayakanth Known as ‘Captain’ and “Black MGR” passes away at the age of 71.

by Arun Janardhanan & Janardhan Koushik

Tamil super star and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) founder Vijayakanth, fondly called as ‘Captain’, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Thursday after a prolonged illness. He was 71.

Vijayakanth’s death marks the end of an influential chapter in Tamil Nadu’s political history and leaves a void in the state’s diverse political tapestry.

MIOT Hospital in Chennai released a statement confirming that ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth, who was admitted for pneumonia, was placed on ventilator support due to the severity of his condition. Despite the dedicated efforts of the medical team, the statement said, he succumbed to illness and passed away on the morning of December 28, 2023.

Vijayakanth had previously been admitted to the same hospital on November 18 for a febrile illness, from which he was discharged on December 11.

On December 14, the actor-turned-politician made his first public appearance post-discharge to participate in DMDK’s executive and general council meeting. During the meeting, his wife Premalatha Vijayakanth was announced as the party’s new general secretary.

The passing of Vijayakanth not only signifies the loss of a distinguished personality but also highlights the diminishing influence of a political party that once held considerable potential.

Continue reading ‘Popular Tamil Cinema Actor and DMDK Party Founder -Leader Vijayakanth Known as ‘Captain’ and “Black MGR” passes away at the age of 71.’ »

Patali Champika Ranawaka wants the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to conduct a proper inquiry into the allegatiion against Public Security Minister Tiran Alles by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that he has offshore holdings, identified by Pandora Papers.

By

Shamindra Ferdinando

Eksath Janaraja Peremuna leader and SJB MP Patali Champika Ranawaka has said that Public Security Minister Tiran Alles could resort to legal action if there was no basis for the recent declaration by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that he has offshore holdings, identified by Pandora Papers.

Former Minister and SJB MP Ranawaka said the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) should conduct a proper inquiry into the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that he has offshore holdings, identified by Pandora Papers.
allegation.

Lawmaker Ranawaka said so at a recent public gathering at Ambatale. The ICIJ in a statement said that Minister Alles was the first sitting Sri Lankan minister to be identified in the Pandora Papers data trove as having offshore holdings.

Continue reading ‘Patali Champika Ranawaka wants the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to conduct a proper inquiry into the allegatiion against Public Security Minister Tiran Alles by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that he has offshore holdings, identified by Pandora Papers.’ »

தமிழரசுக்கட்சியின் தலைமைப் பதவிக்கு மும்முனைப் போட்டி: களத்தில் சுமந்திரன், சிறிதரன், யோகேஸ்வரன்

டி.பி.எஸ். ஜெயராஜ்/ D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This is a Tamil Translation of the English article headlined “fSumanthiran , Shritharan and Yoheswaran in Triangular Contest to Become Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Latchi (ITAK)President.)

பெடரல் கட்சி (எவ் பி ) என ஆங்கிலத்தில் அழைக்கப்படும் இலங்கை தமிழரசுக்கட்சி வடக்கு மற்றும் கிழக்கிலுள்ள இலங்கைத் தமிழர்களின் முதன்மையான அரசியல் கட்சியாகும்.தமிழரசுக்கட்சி யா னது 1949 டிசம்பர்18 இல் உருவாக்கப்பட்டது.இலங்கைத் தமிழரசுக்கட்சியின் 75வது தினம் அடுத்த வருடம் கொண்டாடப்படவிருக்கிறது .

தமிழர் ஆயுதப் போராட்டம் வருவதற்கு முன்னர் இலங்கைத் தமிழர்களின் முன்னணி அரசியல் கட்சியாக இலங்கைத்தமிழரசுக்கட்சி இருந்தது. பல ஆண்டுகளாககட்சியின் அளவு மற்றும் செல்வாக்கு குறைந்துள்ள போதிலும், ஏனைய இலங்கை தமிழ் தேசியவாதக் கட்சிகளுடன் ஒப்பிடுகையில் அது இன்னும்குழுவில்சிரேஷ் டராக விளங்குகிறது.

வடக்கு மற்றும் கிழக்கு மாகாணங்களில் உள்ள ஐந்து தேர்தல் மாவட்டங்களில் இருந்தும் பாராளுமன்ற பிரதிநிதிகளை கொண்ட ஒரே இலங்கை தமிழ் அரசியல் கட்சி இக்கட்சி என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது. தற்போது அக்கட்சிக்கு தேசியப்பட்டியலில் உள்ள ஒரு ஆசனம் உட்பட பாராளுமன்றத்தில் ஆறு ஆசனங்கள் உள்ளன. இவர்களில் இருவர் யாழ்ப்பாண தேர்தல் மாவட்டத்தில் இருந்தும் தலா ஒருவர் வன்னி, திருகோணமலை மற்றும் மட்டக்களப்பு மாவட்டங்களிலிருந்தும் தெரிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளனர். தேசியப் பட்டியல் பாராளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் திகாமடுல்ல/அம்பாறை தேர்தல் மாவட்டத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர். எனவே, வடக்குகிழக்கின் அனைத்து தேர்தல் மாவட்டங்களிலும் உள்ள தமிழர்களைஇலங்கை தமிழரசுக்கட்சி பாராளுமன்றத்தில் பிரதிநிதித்துவப்படுத்துவதைக் காணமுடிகிறது.

1949 இல் அதன் தொடக்கத்தில் இருந்து பல ஏற்ற தாழ்வுகளுடன் பரபரப்பானதும் சுவாரஷ்யமானதுமான வரலாற்றைக் கொண்டுள்ளது.புத்தாயிரமாமா ண்டில் தமிழ் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்பு (ரிஎன்ஏ) எனப்படும் முதன்மையான இலங்கைத் தமிழ் அரசியல் அமைப்பில் கட்சியானதுமுதன்மையான அடையாளமாக மாறியது. 2004 ஆம் ஆண்டு முதல் தமிழ் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்பு பாராளுமன்றம், மாகாணம் மற்றும் உள்ளூராட்சித் தேர்தல்களில்தமிழரசுக்கட்சியின் சின்னமான ”வீடு’ என்ற பெயரில்இந்த அமைப்பு போட்டியிட்டது.

Continue reading ‘தமிழரசுக்கட்சியின் தலைமைப் பதவிக்கு மும்முனைப் போட்டி: களத்தில் சுமந்திரன், சிறிதரன், யோகேஸ்வரன்’ »

Kandy-born MG Ramachandran (MGR) was Uncrowned King of Tamil Cinema and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran known popularly as MGR ruled Tamil movidom for three decades until becoming Chief Minister of India’s Tamil Nadu State in 1977. MGR served as chief minister (CM) for ten years until his demise in 1987. His 36th death anniversary will be commemorated this week on December 24.

MG Ramachandran entered active politics in the fifties of the last century. He was elected to the state legislature in the sixties and became CM in the seventies. When he died after 10 years as Chief Minister on 24 December 1987, MGR was 70 years of age

MGR –born in Sri Lanka — was a Malayalee hailing from Kerala. He grew up in Tamil Nadu and was active in politics for decades before forming a party and becoming CM.

M.G. Ramachandran’s or MGR’s life was a rags to riches tale!

Continue reading ‘Kandy-born MG Ramachandran (MGR) was Uncrowned King of Tamil Cinema and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State’ »

Anura Kumara Dissanayake ’s national liberation movement and the Tamil National question


By

Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

National People’s Power (NPP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD) is at present intensely focused on the need for a national liberation movement. According to him, when looking at the social, political, and economic realities of Sri Lanka, it is clear that what is needed today is social change; what is needed for the system change that people yearn for is not a political party, but a national liberation movement.

He explains that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is this party and that the NPP is the national movement.

Judging by the views expressed by Dissanayake at a recent interview with Meera Srinivasan, Colombo correspondent for Chennai-based influential English daily The Hindu, it is understandable that he is trying to say that the NPP – which was formed few years back under JVP leadership in alliance with more than 25 other parties, groups, women and youth rights organisations, and trade unions – will carry forward the national liberation struggle he envisions.

“Looking at developed countries, their progress was largely linked to the national liberation struggle. India had a great national liberation movement. Sri Lanka never had such a movement. When the British ruled the country, there was an opportunity to build a national liberation movement. After they left, there was another opportunity to build such a movement. Our leaders at the time missed both those historic opportunities.

“Now we have a third opportunity which should be used without fail to defeat the corrupt ruling political class. For this purpose, all communities – in the north, east, and south – should be united. The aim of this national liberation struggle is to free the country from a corrupt political culture. Our first priority is to free the country from the corrupt political elite that has been ruining the country for decades,” he explained.

Continue reading ‘Anura Kumara Dissanayake ’s national liberation movement and the Tamil National question’ »

Catholic Church in Sri Lank Publicly Accuses Public Security Minister Tiran Alles of Uttering Lies; “We urge Minister Tiran Alles to refrain from spreading such falsehoods” states Fr. Jude Chrysantha Director of the Colombo Archdiocesan Commission for Social Communications

Rev. Fr. Jude Chrysantha has accused Public Security Minister Tiran Alles of making false accusations regarding an alleged appeal made to the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) on behalf of Fr. Cyril Gamini after a road accident.

Convening a special press conference on Friday (22 Dec.) in his capacity as the Director of the Archdiocesan Commission for Social Communications, Fr. Chrysantha said that no such plea for help was made by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith to Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon.
Speaking to the media in this regard, Fr. Chrysantha disclosed that the Cardinal had become aware of the incident only the following morning, suggesting that it was impossible for him to have contacted Tennakoon the night before seeking assistance.

Continue reading ‘Catholic Church in Sri Lank Publicly Accuses Public Security Minister Tiran Alles of Uttering Lies; “We urge Minister Tiran Alles to refrain from spreading such falsehoods” states Fr. Jude Chrysantha Director of the Colombo Archdiocesan Commission for Social Communications’ »

The dehumanising of non-Buddhists by the Mahawamsa is the tribal counterpoint to the Buddha’s universalist teaching. Though Sinhala-Buddhist children memorise that Dhammapada stanza, it is the Mahawamsa attitude that guides their lives.


By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Hey, c’mon, come out, wherever you are
We need to have this meeting, at this tree
Ain’t even been planted yet.” June Jordan (Calling on all minorities)

On August 14, 2006 the Sri Lankan air force bombed an orphanage in Vallipunam killing 61 schoolgirls. The Rajapaksa administration insisted that the location was a LTTE training camp and the victims were child soldiers. Independent reports, including by the UTHR-J, confirmed that the victims were students taking part in a non-military first aid programme organised by the LTTE.

Once the civilian nature of the victims became incontestable, Colombo could have acknowledged a mistake and apologised. Instead the regime doubled down on its child soldiers claim. The incident caused an uproar in India but no ripples in the Sinhala South. For most Sinhalese, this killing of 61 schoolgirls didn’t matter because they were Tamil. It was possible to be anti-LTTE while condemning the crimes by the Lankan military; anti-separatism could have gone hand in hand with pity for all victims of the war. But that path of justice and compassion was one most Sinhalese – and Tamils – opted not to take.

Marione Ingram survived the Holocaust as a German Jewish child. When the US Congress censured Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for her opposition to Israel’s war on Gaza, Marione Ingram called Ms. Tlaib a hero. Ms. Tlaib’s opposition to the war in Gaza is not anti-semitic, Ms. Ingram pointed out. “It is pro-human being.”

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” So begins the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promulgated 75 years ago. The declaration was inspired in part by the horrors of Holocaust. The basis of the Holocaust was the tribalist, anti-universalist belief that not all humans were equal and that some humans were less human than other humans, that they were sub-human (Untermenschen), more like animals. This belief of superior and inferior humans was a Nazi and a Fascist staple but not a Nazi or Fascist construct. For centuries, it had informed and shaped the imperialist project, from Europe to Japan. Just five years before the UN declaration, as the Bengali famine of 1943 was killing one to two million Indians, British officials in India pleaded with the Churchill administration to release food stocks. Winston Churchill’s only response was to send a telegram asking why Gandhi hasn’t died yet. Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery called Prime Minister Churchill’s indifference to Indian deaths “a Hitler like attitude”.

Continue reading ‘The dehumanising of non-Buddhists by the Mahawamsa is the tribal counterpoint to the Buddha’s universalist teaching. Though Sinhala-Buddhist children memorise that Dhammapada stanza, it is the Mahawamsa attitude that guides their lives.’ »

One cannot deny Ranil Wickremesinghe the credit for lifting Sri Lanka from its worst-ever economic crisis. Ranil’s feat would loom large over peers in similar predicaments from Argentina to Lebanon.


By
Ranga Jayasuriya

Sri Lankan economy expanded by 1.6 per cent in the third quarter of this year, slowly emerging from one and half years of contraction. With the service sector picking up and manufacturing showing a seasonal hike, the fourth quarter may log 7-8 per cent growth, partially compensating for the first two quarters of negative growth. The momentum is finally here, though given the extent of the economic rout in the first half, the economic growth of 2024 would be negative.

How much of that momentum would continue to next year and beyond is not just an economic function- more than anything, it is a political question. Even after one counts the volatile growth projections in the rich world, the greater danger to the nascent economic recovery of Sri Lanka would be within. And the biggest of all is the marauding political opportunism, likely to be the most distinguished feature in the political stages next year- the election year.

Election year
The presidential election should be held by September next year, and Parliamentary polls should follow. Postponed local government elections should also be held at some point, though it is unlikely to precede either of the national polls, for the political leadership would not want it to be a barometer of voter sentiment.

Most of all, Presidential elections would decide the future economic trajectory. Considering that it would precede the rest, anyone who wins the presidential election would convert the early momentum at the Parliamentary polls.

Continue reading ‘One cannot deny Ranil Wickremesinghe the credit for lifting Sri Lanka from its worst-ever economic crisis. Ranil’s feat would loom large over peers in similar predicaments from Argentina to Lebanon.’ »

The SLPP which I lead is a part of the government. However the present Head of the Government and Head of State is the leader of a different political party with different policies. At this moment, the primary duty of the SLPP is to ensure a stable government until the next national elections. ‘ –Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of Media Release Issued by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on 20 December 2023 under the heading “Reducing the Tax Burden”)

Around 40 professional associations and trade unions representing vital sectors of the economy and the public services have been agitating for a reduction in income taxes for many months. In the meantime, the high tax burden has precipitated an exodus of educated and highly trained professionals from the country giving rise to a new crisis.

Following increases in the VAT through the budget for 2024, tax policy is set to become a major political issue in 2024.

The call to reduce taxes is based on solid economic principles. When taxes are low, both individuals and corporations have more money to spend and invest and this acts as a driver of the economy. Low taxes was a cornerstone of my government’s policy and it made a major contribution to the unbroken nine year economic boom that this country experienced between 2006 and 2014.

So as not to burden the people with taxes, my government of 2006-2014 restricted the overall year on year increase in government tax revenue to around Rs. 100 billion a year. Through careful economic management, my government reduced the debt to GDP ratio from 90% at the end of 2005 to 69% at the end of 2014 thus ensuring the feasibility of the low tax regime.

However, over the past several years there have been well-funded propaganda campaigns promoting a headlong and mindless opposition to everything even remotely associated with the name ‘Rajapaksa’ including the low tax policy. In order to blacken the very concept of low taxes, some even claimed that the Rajapaksa-led governments reduced taxes to help cronies. That is an outright lie. Tax exemptions can be granted only under laws like the Board of Investment Act and the Strategic Development Projects Act in order to attract investors for specified projects.

After 2015, the low tax regime was rejected in favor of a high tax regime.

Unsurprisingly, Sri Lanka’s growth rate declined precipitously after 2015 ending up at 0.2 below zero by 2019. Due to bad economic management, the period from 2015 to 2019 saw an increase in taxes while at the same time experiencing a precipitous increase in foreign debt. When I was voted out in January 2015, the outstanding International Sovereign Bond debt was only USD 5,000 million. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government of 2020-2022 paid off USD 2,500 in outstanding ISBs which means that only USD 2,500 million in ISBs now remains from my era.

Over USD 10,000 million in new International Sovereign Bonds were taken between 2015 and 2019. Hence we still have an outstanding ISB stock of USD 12,500 million. It was this USD 10,000 million in new ISBs taken between 2015 and 2019 that broke the back of our economy.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Sri Lanka a few months after I became Prime Minister at the end of 2019, we wrote to the IMF in March 2020 asking for emergency assistance. The IMF wrote back saying that our debt levels disqualifies us from their emergency relief package.

They then proposed a raft of conditions that would qualify us for IMF assistance but those conditions would have made it impossible for us to face the Covid-19 threat in the manner that we did in 2020 and 2021.

The present government is now implementing stringent conditions as part of an IMF programme. Thus one thing led to another, finally resulting in a situation where we now see top professionals holding multiple university degrees and professional qualifications agitating on the streets, demanding a reduction in taxes.

The SLPP which I lead is a part of the government. However the present Head of the Government and Head of State is the leader of a different political party with different policies. In a situation where this country was faced with complete anarchy, Parliament elected a President to serve the remainder of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term. The new President successfully restored law and order to the country. He is now directing government policy as the Executive President. At this moment, the primary duty of the SLPP is to ensure a stable government until the next national elections.

In future, every member of the public should pay special attention to the tax policy and the past economic practices of the political party they vote for. As elections draw closer, once again we see attempts to hustle people blindly and unthinkingly in various directions through ramped up propaganda and social media hysteria.

Whatever decision the people make at the next elections should be based on rational thinking, proper facts and correct data. We are still living through the consequences of January 2015 and this country cannot afford another mistake like that again.

Mahinda Rajapaksa M.P.
Leader
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna

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“Operation Leader’s Daughter”: The Attempted Fraud Using a False Thuvaraka Prabhakaran.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran,his spouse Madhivadhani Erambu. Daughter Thuvaraka and sons Charles Anthony and Balachandran along with thousands of other Tamils died in the final phase of the armed conflict at Mullivaaikkaal in the Karaithuriaipattru AGA division of Mullaitheevu district in May 2009.

Though fourteen years have passed since the war ended, there are many who claim that the LTTE supremo is yet alive and that the body found on the shores of Nandhikkadal lagoon was a look alike of Prabhakaran. Subseqently it was claimed that some other family members too were alive. In recent times there has been a concerted effort by tigerish and pro-tiger elements to make people believe that Prabhakaran, Madhivadhani and Thuvaraka are alive.

Furthermore it was projected that the LTTE was going to be revived under the leadership of the tiger supremo’s daughter Thuvaraka Prabhakaran.(her name is being spelt by many as Duvaraka and Dwaraka but I am following the manner in which the name is pronounced by Sri Lankan Tamils).

Theasathin Puthalvi (Nation’s Daughter)

The campaign promoting the LTTE leader’s daughter described as the “Theasathin Puthalvi”(Nation’s daughter) reached its zenith on the LTTE’s “Maaveerar Naal”(great heroes Day) observed on 27 November 2023. It had been the practice in earlier times for LTTE leader Prabhakaran to deliver a speech on that day. The last time the Oration was made was on 27 November 2008. In may 2009, the LTTE was militarily defeated and the hierarchy including Prabhakaran was no more. Though Maaveerar Naal was observed every year in many parts of the world on November 27th there was no annual address by Prabhakaran as the LTTE leader was not among the living.

However in an unexpected twist this year, it was proclaimed that Thuvaraka Prabhakaran would deliver the great Heroes day speech on behalf of her father from an undisclosed location.. A sustained campaign of expectation was propagated. While the silent majority of Tamils quietly watched this brazen attempt to bamboozle the community, several voices were raised in protest against what was obviously a fraudulent exercise. This was resisted by the elements promoting the “duplicate”daughter. The pro-LTTE world was torn asunder by the so called return of the tiger leader’s daughter.

Continue reading ‘“Operation Leader’s Daughter”: The Attempted Fraud Using a False Thuvaraka Prabhakaran.’ »

Sumanthiran , Shritharan and Yoheswaran in Triangular Contest to Become Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Latchi (ITAK)President..


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party (FP) is the premier political party of the Northern and Eastern Sri Lankan Tamils.The ITAK/FP was formed on 18 December 1949. The 75th birth anniversary of ITAK will be celebrated next year.

The ITAK was the leading political party of the Sri Lankan Tamils before the advent of the Tamil armed struggle. Though the ITAK has diminished in size and influence over the years, it is still “Primus Inter Pares” (First among equals) in comparison with other Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist parties.

It is indeed noteworthy that the ITAK/FP is the only Sri Lankan Tamil political party that has parliamentary representatives from all five electoral districts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Currently the party has six seats in Parliament including one on the national list. Of these two were elected from the Jaffna electoral district and one each from the Wanni, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. The national list MP is from the Digamadulla/Amparai electoral district. It could be seen therefore that the ITAK represents Tamils from all electoral districts of the North-East in Parliament.

The ITAK has had from its inception in 1949 a colourful history with many ups and downs. In the new millennium the party became the dominant entity in the premier Sri Lankan Tamil political configuration known as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The TNA contested Parliamentary, Provincial and local authority elections under the ITAK symbol of House from 2004 onwards.

The split in the TNA early this year has resulted in two of the three constituent parties of the TNA namely the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) and Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) moving out and re-configuring along with three other parties as the Democratic Tamil National Alliance(DTNA). Since the TELO (3) and PLOTE(1) have four MP’s, the TNA tally in Parliament has dropped from ten to six MPs all of whom belong to ITAK. Thus the ITAK continues to be the Sri Lankan Tamil Political party with the highest number of seats in Parliament.

Currently the ITAK seems to be on the threshold of a potential intra-party crisis. The ITAK’s long delayed party convention is scheduled for the last week of January next year. A crucial change of leadership is on the cards as the current ITAK president Somasuntharam Senathirajah known as “Maavai” is on the verge of relinquishing his post. “Maavai”has been ITAK president since 2014. Hence a new president will be elected at the convention to be held next January in Trincomalee.

What appears to be problematic from a party perspective is the fact that three contenders are in the fray for the ITAK presidency. The three aspirants to ITAK leadership are Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran, Sivagnanam Shritharan and Seenithamby Yoheswaran. As is well known, Sumanthiran and Shritharan are both Jaffna district MP’s while Yogeswaran is a former Batticaloa district parliamentarian.

Continue reading ‘Sumanthiran , Shritharan and Yoheswaran in Triangular Contest to Become Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Latchi (ITAK)President..’ »

How the Overseas LTTE Raised Funds From the Tamil Diaspora.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Readers have evinced a lot of interest in the contents of the first part of this article published last week. This article’s focus on the fraudulent attempt to promote an impostor as Thuvaraka the daughter of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran has evoked much response from readers. The feedback I have been getting is basically of two types.

The first kind of response is from readers who were unaware or knew very little about this false Thuvaraka. They are intrigued and curious about this brazen attempt to hoodwink people. The second kind of response is from persons who are aware of this duplicitous exercise to some extent. Some have even experienced salient aspects of the fraud in different degrees. The input provided by these readers is proving to be invaluable. A common factor between both types is the request that I should continue to write in detail about this issue.

Before continuing , there is another related dimension that I need to explain and elaborate. upon Some readers have specifically asked me about the LTTE’s Nediyavan who was in charge of the overseas tiger network. Since it was I who had first written about him many years ago and also referred to him briefly in this article’s first part, their queries were about Nediyavan’s role in this false Thuvaraka fraud. Apparently there had been media reports stating that Nediyavan was the mastermind behind this duplicitous exercise.

The simple answer is “no, Nediyavan is not involved in this”.. Though Nediyavan was at one time the powerful overseas head of the LTTE, in recent times he has become very inactive and is practically “retired”. What has happened is that the once monolithic LTTE overseas network is now fragmented. There is no single point of control or authority. As a result several tiger outfits are now functioning autonomously. It is a Switzerland based faction of the tigers that is behind this Thuvaraka fraud. They are aided and abetted by individuals and small groups in other countries.. However Nediyavan’s decline has a direct bearing on the current situation.

Continue reading ‘How the Overseas LTTE Raised Funds From the Tamil Diaspora.’ »

Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennekoon, along with subordinates had violated the law in arresting an ex-soldier for alleged implication in several thefts, thereafter unlawfully detaining and torturing him during 15th -22nd December 2010. States Supre Court Ruling


By

Kishali Pinto -Jayawardene

In another dubious record for Sri Lanka’s paralyzed criminal justice system, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) who had assumed his post recently trailing clouds of controversy regarding his professional conduct, has been held directly responsible by the Supreme Court for violation of Article 11 of the Constitution (freedom from torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment).


“The big fish in the pond’

As observed with justifiable ire, the Court had on umpteen times, laid down ‘guiding principles’ as to how law enforcement officers must act but ‘all such attempts continue to fall on deaf ears.’ It was held that Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennekoon, along with subordinates had violated the law in arresting an ex-soldier for alleged implication in several thefts, thereafter unlawfully detaining and torturing him during 15th -22nd December 2010.

Articles 11 (freedom from torture), 12 (1) (right to equal treatment of the law) 13 (1) and (2) (unlawful arrest and detention) were found to have been violated. Writing for the Court, S Thurairaja J (with K Wickremesinghe and Priyantha Fernando JJ agreeing) observed in Weheragedera Ranjith Sumangala v Bandara, Police Officer and others, SCM 14.12.2023), that ‘while findings of fundamental rights are ample, the wrongdoers – specially the big fish in the pond – are seldom held duly accountable.’

Senior officers, under whose authority and direction their subordinates may act, have a special duty that they do not abuse such authority or go beyond such direction,’ the Bench said. In the wake of this ruling, some have (unconvincingly) opined that this decision does not attract such awful repercussions as for example, a criminal conviction of the senior police officer in question.

Continue reading ‘Acting IGP Deshabandu Tennekoon, along with subordinates had violated the law in arresting an ex-soldier for alleged implication in several thefts, thereafter unlawfully detaining and torturing him during 15th -22nd December 2010. States Supre Court Ruling’ »

Anton Stanislaus Balasingham alias “Bala Annai” : An Up , Close and Personal. Account.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ‘Arasiyal Madhiuraignar’ (Political Adviser) Anton Stanislaus Balasingham passed away seventeen years ago at his South London residence on 14 December 2006.Bala ‘Annai’ (elder brother) as he was generally known among Tamils died of cancer at the age of 68 years. The funeral was held at the Alexandra Palace in London on 20 December 2006. LTTE supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran conferred the title ‘Thesathin Kural’ (Voice of the Nation) upon Tiger ideologue and political strategist posthumously.

Balasingham was a colourful yet controversial figure who was admired by some and despised by others. This writer’s relationship with Balasingham too has had its twists and turns. I have both criticised and praised him depending of course on the issue at hand. Likewise he too has both spoken and written ill and well of me. I have written about this man and his role in Tamil affairs on several occasions. I shall rely on some of these writings while focusing on the professional-personal relationship between “Bala Annai” and myself in this article.

Balasingham’s background

Balasingham born on 4 March 1938 was a blend of many strands. His father was from the east and mother from the north. His mother was a Christian and father a Hindu. Though raised as a Catholic Balasingham soon became a rationalist and agnostic.

Balasingham’s first wife was a Jaffna Tamil protestant. His second wife was an Australian woman of Anglo-Saxon extraction. He was a British citizen but yearned for his homeland “Tamil Eelam” which he believed was a state in formation.

Balasingham’s grandfather was a “saiva kurukkal” (non-Brahmin priest) from Mandur in Batticaloa District. His father was an electrical foreman at the Batticaloa Hospital. Bala’s mother was from Jaffna town and a former resident of Martin’s Road. She was a midwife by profession and was working at the Batticaloa Hospital when she met, loved and married Bala’s father Balasingham Snr.

Continue reading ‘Anton Stanislaus Balasingham alias “Bala Annai” : An Up , Close and Personal. Account.’ »

“Our appeal to people of the north is not ‘please join us, we will fulfil your needs’. We are appealing to them, to be part of this movement to defeat this corrupt ruling clique. We are saying let us unite, rebuild this country, and fulfil the requirements of the all the communities together” – JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake

By

Meera Srinivasan

As Sri Lanka tries to rebuild its battered economy after last year’s devastating crisis, the country’s political scene is gradually heating up, in the run up to two national elections scheduled next year — parliamentary and presidential — that will give citizens their first chance to vote, after they dislodged the Rajapaksas from power in 2022. The National People’s Power [NPP] alliance, led by the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP or People’s Liberation Front) is drawing attention, with its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake topping opinion polls as the people’s preferred choice for President. In a wide-ranging interview, the 55-year-old parliamentarian from Colombo spoke to The Hindu at the JVP’s headquarters and laid out what he has to offer.

Excerpts…

The government says there is relative stability now. The IMF programme is being implemented, and austerity measures are coming into effect. What is your assessment of the economic situation in the country now?

The economic crisis in Sri Lanka has not been fully resolved. One major issue is that the country’s goods and services sectors are not being developed. Due to that reason, we are not able to earn enough foreign exchange, or rupee revenue needed to run the country.
According to the budget for the next year, the government is expecting a revenue of over 4,164 billion rupees [LKR], while it is expecting to spend around 11,277 billion rupees [LKR]. Of this revenue, a big portion is going to come from indirect taxes as well as PAYE taxes from the professionals.

Sri Lanka has not been servicing its debt for almost two years. The country needs LKR 7350 billion in 2024 to finance its [domestic] debt obligations. We are not spending in dollars, and we are not paying our debt. That is why the government is able to import gas and fuel. The government has not really found solutions to the real economic crisis.

Continue reading ‘“Our appeal to people of the north is not ‘please join us, we will fulfil your needs’. We are appealing to them, to be part of this movement to defeat this corrupt ruling clique. We are saying let us unite, rebuild this country, and fulfil the requirements of the all the communities together” – JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake’ »

The signal focus of MP’s during the budget debates should be as to how Sri Lanka’s ‘recovery’ from bankruptcy can be ‘engineered’ to shield the most vulnerable segments of the populace from literal starvation.


By

Kishali Pinto -Jayawardene

Parliamentarians draping shawls supposedly in sympathy for the plight of the people of Gaza while deaf, dumb and blind to the fate of their own constituents and exchanging tiringly customary allegations across the floor of the House as to who is ‘more corrupt’ and ‘who is more communalist’ underlines the growing irrelevance of Sri Lanka’s Parliament in the public perception.

A House disconnected from the people

Evidently, the Centre cannot hold. Perhaps this was inevitable post the unprecedented ‘Aragalaya’ (mass protests) of 2022. Sri Lanka’s young had demanded a transformative cleansing of the State in their thousands on Colombo’s streets. Instead of that transformation that may have put a kinder face on the nation’s discontent, old crude games of power politics prevailed.

So, what we have now is a transitional interval where, under a Wickremesinghe Presidency and a Rajapaksa House, the foci of both executive and legislative authority have become alarmingly disconnected from the people.

That is true of both the Government and the main Opposition, content to hurl barbs at each other while disregarding weighty matters that are in the public interest. The signal focus of the House during the budget debates should be as to how Sri Lanka’s ‘recovery’ from bankruptcy can be ‘engineered’ to shield the most vulnerable segments of the populace from literal starvation.

Yet this is far from the case, apart from the Government’s handing out of ‘favours’ be it deeds to land and houses or bolstering the country’s political patronage system in other familiar ways.

There is little sight of intent to trim a bloated state sector apart from selling off prized and historically valuable state assets. Governance reforms that would put the country on a new path are sadly lacking despite a plethora of new laws.

Gross political corrupters remain in the Cabinet despite the President waxing eloquent on debt sustainability and a new anti-corruption law. Other rude contradictions abound. On the one hand, reliance is placed on brutish force reinforced by a raft of Bills on anti-terrorism and ‘controlling’ the media.

Continue reading ‘The signal focus of MP’s during the budget debates should be as to how Sri Lanka’s ‘recovery’ from bankruptcy can be ‘engineered’ to shield the most vulnerable segments of the populace from literal starvation.’ »

A Dysfunctional Government Brings Out a Controversial Acting Top Cop


By Arjuna Ranawana

The deep shadow of conspiracy that allegedly created the conditions for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to become President through the Easter Sunday massacre continues to darken many aspects of Sri Lankan life.

Governance is in disarray, and the government’s inability to pick an officer of high calibre, whose reputation is intact, to fill the post of Inspector General of Police, is a glaring example of that.

Most countries groom successors to such high-level posts well in advance, enabling a smooth transition. Malaysia is a good example.
That country, which has a colonial legacy much like ours, saw a change of guard at the top in the Police department when IGP Acryl Sani retired on June 22, 2023.

His successor, Razarudin Husain, who had been groomed for the top job for months, took office the next day, and the government announced that Ayob Khan would be Husain’s successor. That announcement coincided with Husain’s taking office.

Not so in troubled, dysfunctional Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘A Dysfunctional Government Brings Out a Controversial Acting Top Cop’ »

“Nadigaiyar Thilagam “( Doyenne of Actresses) Savitri.; The Rise and Fall of a Great Actress.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Yesteryear Actress Nissankara .Savitri was at one time regarded as the greatest actress to adorn the Tamil silver screen. She was hailed then as “Nadigaiyar Thilagam “( Doyenne of Actresses) in Tamil and “Mahanati” (Great Actress) in Telugu. Savitri was born on 6 December 1934. This article therefore is to denote her 89th Birth anniversary .

Savitri was known as Savitri Ganesh after she married Tamil romantic actor Gemini Ganesan who was also known as R. Ganesh and Gemini Ganesh. Savitri in a thespian career of more than three decades acted in 258 films in five languages. The breakdown was – Telugu- 146;Tamil -90; Kannada -09;Hindi -07 and Malayalam -06. Savitri ruled the roost in Telugu and Tamil filmdom for nearly 15 years in the fifties and sixties of the last century. She was hailed as the finest actress of her time and earned several laudatory sobriquets .

Continue reading ‘“Nadigaiyar Thilagam “( Doyenne of Actresses) Savitri.; The Rise and Fall of a Great Actress.’ »

A Voice for Palestine: How M.A. Nuhman’s translations of poems on the Palestinian cause have resonated with Sri Lankan Tamils Fighting State Oppression


By

Meera Srinivasan

Lankan poet and linguist M.A. Nuhman is deeply pained by the bloodshed and mass killings that ravage Gaza, sparing no one — not even infants.

His anger at the brutal violence against civilians, and his solidarity with the people of Palestine, have found familiar expression in Tamil verse. Last month, he wrote a poem, ‘Oru Palestina Kural’ (A Palestinian Voice), as he watched the violence escalate, from his own war-scarred island, tens of thousands of miles away.

Only weeks earlier, the Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant had said: “We are fighting against human animals,” and later, the Israeli prime minister remarked that “Israel is fighting with the enemies of civilisation,” as he sought to cast the ongoing war as one between the “forces of civilisation and forces of barbarism.”
Disturbed by this framing of the conflict, Nuhman wrote in one of the opening verses:

Continue reading ‘A Voice for Palestine: How M.A. Nuhman’s translations of poems on the Palestinian cause have resonated with Sri Lankan Tamils Fighting State Oppression’ »

In Sri Lanka, saffron is the new colour of impunity. There’s very little a man cannot get away with, from slapstick comic to violently dangerous, if he happens to wear a yellow robe. Monks are not just above the law; they have a law unto themselves. Often, they are the law.

________________________________________


By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“So it goes.” Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five)

In the grand scheme of things, a monk and a quack draping a robe on a Buddha statue may seem silly, at most. Even if the statue is a 1,500-year-old work of art. Sri Lanka, contrary to President Wickremesinghe’s assertions, is still teetering on the rotten-bridge, a bankrupt country with fractious leaders and no good options. What does one act of vandalism matter?

What is significant is what didn’t happen.

According to the law, the quack who masterminded the robe-draping at Avukana and the monk who permitted it should have been arrested and charged. There’s no dearth of evidence, videos, pictures, words of perpetrators themselves. Yet, police are moving at glacial pace. The chances of the perpetrators getting away scot-free are considerable as the march of time sweeps away the memory of their crime.

In Sri Lanka, saffron is the new colour of impunity. There’s very little a man cannot get away with, from slapstick comic to violently dangerous, if he happens to wear a yellow robe. Monks are not just above the law; they have a law unto themselves. Often, they are the law.

Dr. Gabo Maté, a Holocaust survivor, recently highlighted the double-standards in the Western coverage of the Palestinian issue. “…when demonstrators throw stones at the police in Hong Kong, that is considered to be heroism in American press. When Palestinian kids throw stones at the Israeli soldiers they are called terrorists”

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0P67aWO1V0). Lankan media accord an identical impunity to monks who break laws and norms. Pastor Jerome Fernando is lambasted for stating his belief in the greatness of Christ – would he be a Christian otherwise? – while Pitiduwe Siridhamma thero’s (aka Arhat Sammanthabadra) distorting of Tripitaka is mostly ignored. One is arrested. The other gets away with an apology.

Zeid Al Hussein, the former UN Human Rights Commissioner, introduced the phrase, tribalism of pain to explain official Western indifference to Gazan sufferings. In Sri Lanka, we have tribalism of law. If you are a monk or a lay Sinhala-Buddhist extremist, the uniformed guardians of law permit you immeasurable leeway. You can invade State institutions, vandalise archaeological monuments, threaten and attack people, and still remain freer than birds.

The impunity goes beyond legal. Politicians who yell at everything ignored the crime committed at the Avukana statue. Monks who interfere in everything turned a collective blind eye to this outrage against Buddhist teachings and traditions. Society, at large, seemed unconcerned. Had the Archaeological Department not intervened, however belatedly, Aukana robe-draping might have kicked off a new trend. Dressing Buddha statues with robes, as if they were mannequins in a shop window, and providing them with slippers – and other such essentials – could have become the new normal.

Continue reading ‘In Sri Lanka, saffron is the new colour of impunity. There’s very little a man cannot get away with, from slapstick comic to violently dangerous, if he happens to wear a yellow robe. Monks are not just above the law; they have a law unto themselves. Often, they are the law.’ »

Kissinger was the last great Realist thinker-practitioner in the fields of foreign policy and diplomacy. Viewed from the standpoint of ethics and morality, his crimes outweighed his constructive contribution, but from a Realist perspective, the evaluation is the reverse.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The responses to Henry Kissinger’s death at 100, proves that if a person’s contribution to his/her field is sufficiently significant, he or she will, on balance, be regarded positively as having made a lasting mark within that field, whatever the horrors he/she may have been responsible for along the way. Kissinger was the last great Realist thinker-practitioner in the fields of foreign policy and diplomacy. Viewed from the standpoint of ethics and morality, his crimes outweighed his constructive contribution, but from a Realist perspective, the evaluation is the reverse.

Kissinger’s crimes took place in the global South, from Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia to Chile and Angola. His constructive contribution took place in the classic zone of Realism: the relationship between Great Powers.

Like his hero and object of study, Metternich, Henry Kissinger grappled with restoring and maintaining the world order in an era of world revolution (from Vietnam through France to Angola). Unlike Metternich he did so in a nuclear age. How to avoid nuclear war in a revolutionary time, was his central problematique.

He did so with his new ‘concert of powers’ between the besieged USA, the USSR and China. He not only forged such a relationship at the side of Richard Nixon, a highly intelligent but morally vacuous leader, he did so in a manner that further divided America’s competitors while bringing each closer to the USA than to each other.

While I hardly share his vision and values, it would be a-historical not to concede his grand-strategic success after and despite a huge strategic defeat and retreat. Kissinger and Nixon escalated the bombing campaign of North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, in order to drive Hanoi to the negotiating table and obtain what he called “peace with honour”; the time and space for a dignified US withdrawal from Vietnam in the hope that the ‘Vietnamization’ campaign of shoring up South Vietnam’s military would pay-off. That gamble failed. But the relationship Kissinger had built with Russia and China and the exacerbation of the contradictions between the two Communist-run giants, ‘contained’ i.e., limited the effects of that failure and saved a US global leadership at the tipping-point.

Continue reading ‘Kissinger was the last great Realist thinker-practitioner in the fields of foreign policy and diplomacy. Viewed from the standpoint of ethics and morality, his crimes outweighed his constructive contribution, but from a Realist perspective, the evaluation is the reverse.’ »

Alluring actress turned powerful politico Jayalalithaa Jayaram reigned as the uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema for a Decade

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Alluring actress turned powerful politico Jayalalithaa Jayaram passed away at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai on 5 December 2016. Her condition had been pronounced grave after being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit following a cardiac seizure on Dec 4. Her Demise seven years ago caused a void in the politics of India’s Tamil Nadu state that is yet to be filled adequately.

The 68-year-leader of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991-96, 2001-06 and from 2011 to date. Jayalalithaa hailed as “Amma” (meaning mother/madam) was virtually the uncrowned queen of Tamil Nadu during her years of rule as Chief Minister.

Fabulous film career

There was however an earlier phase in her life when the beautiful Brahmin woman reigned as the uncrowned queen of Tamil cinema for over a decade from the mid-sixties to mid-seventies of the 20th century. This article re-visits the fabulous film career of actress Jayalalithaa.

Jayalalithaa dazzled on the silver screen during the years she was an actress. According to filmographic estimates, she acted in 142 films from 1964 to 1980 in the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and English languages. Of these 77 films ran for over 100 days and 18 for more than 25 weeks.

Continue reading ‘Alluring actress turned powerful politico Jayalalithaa Jayaram reigned as the uncrowned Queen of Tamil cinema for a Decade’ »

The JVP does not have the right ideological inclination and intellectual sophistication to lift the country out of the economic crisis. It might make things worse and cause Gotabaya’s destruction of the economy to look like child’s play


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Two weeks back, crisis-hit Argentina elected a far-right outsider as the President, ending nearly eight decades of dominance of the mainstream right and left in the politics of South America’s second-largest economy. President-elect Javier Milei, a libertarian and a media showman, rode on a wave of public anger at the political establishment, as inflation hit triple- digit levels and the country was stuck in yet another sovereign debt crisis.

Argentina is the longest-running case of the middle-income trap. Being one of the richest countries in the world in the early 20th century, the Argentinian economy has lurched from crisis to crisis since the early 30s. It defaulted on debt nine times, including three times in the 21st century – the latest default included a US$ 45 billion IMF funding facility extended during the previous crisis.

Mr Miles’s litany of controversial remedies looks more destabilizing than being a coherent fix. However, he has succeeded in exploiting the popular sense of despondency. He has offered to dollarize Argentina’s economy, ditch the national currency, “dynamite” the Central Bank, shut the ministries, including education, health and social welfare, and introduce Bitcoin as legal tender.

However, Argentina is not necessarily an outlier of a global trend of far-right and nationalist takeover of governments.

The same week, far-right and Islamophobic Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party – which canvassed to ban mosques and the Quran and end the ‘tsunami of asylum seekers’ – won the Dutch elections. Elsewhere in Europe, the far-right is the dominant party in governments in Italy, Switzerland and Hungary and partners in Finland and Sweden. In the USA, Donald Trump, once an outsider, has hijacked the Republican Party and leads Joe Biden in opinion polls.

The factors that led to their success vary from Argentina’s economic woes to growing opposition to the unchecked migration to Europe and aggrieved white working-class pride in the US. However, everywhere, the far right and the nationalists – and in rare cases, the far left, as in the case of Chile – managed to convert the protest vote into an election winner.

Continue reading ‘The JVP does not have the right ideological inclination and intellectual sophistication to lift the country out of the economic crisis. It might make things worse and cause Gotabaya’s destruction of the economy to look like child’s play’ »

Gamini “Gamma”Weerakoon: From Reporter to Editor.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

William Shakespeare wrote in his play “Julius Caesar” thus – “His life was gentle, and the elements So mixed in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, This was a man.” . Much hackneyed as they may be , these enduring words of the Bard of Avon aptly describe veteran journalist Gamini Weerakoon who breathed his last on 11 November 2023.His funeral was held at Kanatte on Sunday Nov 12.

Gamini Weerakoon known to his friends and colleagues as “Gamma” was an integral part of Sri Lanka’s English journalistic realm for more than five decades. He entered journalism as a news reporter and gradually rose up from the ranks to retire as Editor. He served in many capacities such as reporter, sub- editor, feature writer,news editor,deputy editor, editor, columnist and consulting editor in his eventful career. Until the very end he was in harness as a journalist by writing the weekly column titled “Doublespeak” for the “Sunday Times”.

Though his entry into Journalism was through “Lake House” Gamma spent the greater part of his journalistic life at Bloemendhal road with Upali newspapers. It was there that he excelled as editor for more than two decades. “The Island”of 13 Nov 2023 published an editorial titled “When great Oaks fall” about the former editor. The editorial sums up Gamini Weerakoon’s contribution to Journalism concisely. Here are some excerpts –

“When Great Oaks Fall”

Continue reading ‘Gamini “Gamma”Weerakoon: From Reporter to Editor.’ »

Little-known Facts About Legendary LTTE Leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran


By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eleam (LTTE) leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran was born on 26 November 1954. If he were among the living, Prabhakaran would be celebrating his 69th Birth Anniversary today (Nov 26). This article intends focusing on the life and times of the man who determined the politico-military course of the island nation for many years.

I have in the past written extensively on the LTTE and its supremo. As such I do not intend re-inventing the wheel all over again. Instead I would be focussing in this piece on some lesser known facts of the LTTE leader’s personal history with the aid of earlier writings.

At the outset I want to emphasise that this article is neither a biography nor an eulogy. It is not even a critique or analysis. What I hope to do is to try and shed some light on the man and his personality without attempting to glorify him. I shall try do so by highlighting certain facets of Prabhakaran’s eventful life.

Thiruvengadam Veluppillai Prabhakaran was born on November 26th 1954. He was the youngest in a family of four children – two boys and two girls. The two sisters live in Canada and India. The brother resides in Denmark. Prabhakaran’s father was Veerasamy Thiruvengadam Velupillai. Prabhakaran’s mother’s name was Paarvathipillai. Her maiden name was also Velupillai. His parents who lived in the northern mainland, Wanni, later surrendered to the armed forces and were placed under protective custody Both are no more now having died of natural causes.

Valvettithurai (VVT)

Prabhakaran’s family hailed from the Northern coastal town of Valvettithurai referred to generally as VVT. His father joined the Government clerical service and eventually became a district lands officer. I think he retired from Govt service when the late Gamini Dissanayake was Lands minister.

Prabhakaran’s family was of respected lineage in VVT. They were known as belonging to the “Thirumeni kudumbam” or Thirumeni family. Prabhakaran’s ancestors constructed the famous Sivan temple of VVT. His father should have been the chief trustee but declined to be so as he was in govt service. So his younger brother became chief trustee instead.

The LTTE leader’s father was a duty conscientious mild-mannered gentleman well respected and well-liked. People of VVT used to say that even the grass wouldn’t get crushed when Mr. Velupillai treads on it. Later many comparisons were made about father and younger son. In fact the father disapproved of the son’s path and was not on speaking terms with Prabhakaran for many years.

Continue reading ‘Little-known Facts About Legendary LTTE Leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran’ »

The mood on the street is clearly ugly and turning towards an even more deep-seated rejection of the ruling political establishment beyond the ‘Aragalaya’ (protest) of last year. Then, it was spontaneous anger combined with an idealistic demand to ‘send the crooks home. What is surfacing now is deadlier and vastly unpredictable in form.


By

Kishali Pinto – Jayawardene

Weeks after the November 14th decision of the Supreme Court with the majority holding gross failures in fiscal and monetary discipline by the Rajapaksa-led regime from 2019-2022 had comprised an extraordinary breach of the Public Trust triggering Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy, it does not seem that political leaders or their cheering squads have learnt important lessons reflected therein.

How the mighty can fall

Debates on both the majority (four judges) and minority (one judge) rulings are primarily driven by political partisan agendas. Predictably, the cherry on top of this pedestrian squabbling is a ridiculous distinction drawn between whether the majority decision had said that the Rajapaksas were ‘responsible’ for the economic crisis or (merely?) that their actions were ‘contributory’ thereof.

But analysing the sequence of reasoning in the majority opinion makes it quite clear that this so-called distinction is without a palpable difference, legally and factually. Some aspects of the majority ruling have been remarked upon in these column spaces previously. This includes the Court’s assessment that the late 2019 policy decision to revise taxes leading to an enormous loss of revenue was a direct factor in the collapse of the economy.

Appropriate remedial action to offset the adverse consequences had not been taken in time. But what could not be remarked on earlier due to constraints of space is the manner in which that judicial assessment is laid out, offering the public a fascinating glimpse into how a nation is driven to ruin by a cabal of political, corrupt, inept and incompetent opportunists.

Continue reading ‘The mood on the street is clearly ugly and turning towards an even more deep-seated rejection of the ruling political establishment beyond the ‘Aragalaya’ (protest) of last year. Then, it was spontaneous anger combined with an idealistic demand to ‘send the crooks home. What is surfacing now is deadlier and vastly unpredictable in form.’ »

The Persecution of Mohammed Ramzy for writing a Facebook post urging Muslims to counter alleged racist attacks against their community through an “ideological jihad” (struggle) using the “pen and keyboard.”


By Mimi Alphonsus

In April 2020, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested Mohamed Razeek Mohamed Ramzy at his home in Katugastota for violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), among other charges.

His crime was to have written a Facebook post urging Muslims to counter alleged racist attacks against their community through an “ideological jihad” (struggle) using the “pen and keyboard.”
Today, free and exonerated by the Supreme Court (SC), Mr. Ramzy, a poet and social media activist, reflects on that painful period and the permanent scars it left on him, his wife, and their two teenage children. “I suffered so much,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Times. “And my family suffered a lot, too.”

Asked if he regrets using the word ‘Jihad’ in his post, which became contentious–and whether he would have phrased the post differently–he said, “I don’t think it’s necessary to change anything about the post. I only need to change something if it’s wrong.”
“I used the word ‘Jihad’ because I wrote that post for the Muslim community,” he maintained. “So, when I address them I should allude to things understood by Muslims, not writing like a plain report. We use poetic words and language from our literature.”

Continue reading ‘The Persecution of Mohammed Ramzy for writing a Facebook post urging Muslims to counter alleged racist attacks against their community through an “ideological jihad” (struggle) using the “pen and keyboard.”’ »

Recent Arrest of 10 Persons by Sri Lankan Police Under the “Draconian” Preventionof Terrorism Act Sparks Concern among Tamil MPs, Human rights activist and International Agencies Including UN.

By
Meera Srinivasan

Recent arrests made by Sri Lanka police using a controversial anti-terrorism law, whose repeal remains a key demand of rights defenders in the island nation, has sparked concern among Tamil legislators, activists, and international agencies including the UN.

In a post on social media platform ‘X’ on Friday, Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian Shanakiyan Rasamanickam said: “Govt is not genuine in its reconciliation efforts. So far 10 individuals have been arrested under the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] in Batticaloa this week. Amongst the arrested is a woman, student and a politician. The most ridiculous arrest is of a bakery employee for selling a cake. #repealPTA”.

He was referring to the arrests made around ‘Maaveerar Naal’ [Heroes’ Day], marked earlier this week, by Tamil families to remember Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadre who died in the country’s civil war.

Continue reading ‘Recent Arrest of 10 Persons by Sri Lankan Police Under the “Draconian” Preventionof Terrorism Act Sparks Concern among Tamil MPs, Human rights activist and International Agencies Including UN.’ »

Many see Henry Kissinger as the arch-exponent of an amoral realism that tarnishes America.More disturbingly, he was willing to see tens of thousands of people killed if he thought that the national interest demanded it.

For someone who promoted his own views so tirelessly, Henry Kissinger was surprisingly misunderstood. Many see him as the arch-exponent of an amoral realism that tarnishes America. Sure enough, like any diplomat, he lied for his country (and occasionally himself). More disturbingly, he was willing to see tens of thousands of people killed if he thought that the national interest demanded it. Yet what distinguishes Mr Kissinger, who died this week aged 100, was not only his realpolitik, but the fact that his practice of diplomacy was also shot through with idealism. It is a style that still holds valuable lessons today.

The would-be Kissingers in the Biden White House (and they exist) confront some daunting challenges. The rivalry between China and America is increasingly poisonous. Bitter wars rage in Ukraine and Gaza. Political divisions are tearing apart Western democracies. Hard-to-solve global issues, such as how to curb climate change and minimise the risks of artificial intelligence, are piling up.

Speaking to The Economist in April, Mr Kissinger himself seemed almost overwhelmed. But his central theme cut to the heart of his idealism. His life’s work, he said, had been devoted to preventing a repeat of the wars in 1914-18 and 1939-45 that had destroyed his childhood in Germany and much of the world besides. Today that means keeping the peace between China and America.

Continue reading ‘Many see Henry Kissinger as the arch-exponent of an amoral realism that tarnishes America.More disturbingly, he was willing to see tens of thousands of people killed if he thought that the national interest demanded it.’ »

Henry Kissinger’s style was to work outside the official machinery of the State Department and the foreign service, which he thought had sapped American diplomacy of its vigour and creativity.

Early in june 1970, soon after America had invaded Cambodia, Henry Kissinger secretly visited Brian McDonnell, a 27-year-old peacenik he had spotted in Lafayette Park opposite the White House. It was one of his many efforts that year to persuade his younger critics that they should give war a chance.

As with so many others, he failed with Brian, but they stayed in touch. While Richard Nixon sulked in the West Wing, his national security adviser and the long-haired activist would meet from time to time to talk about the war and the philosophy of Kant, struggling, Mr Kissinger wrote, “to fashion at least a temporary bridge across the mutual incomprehension”. He never lost the belief that he could win over his critics. And not just the movers and shakers, but also those far from the cover of Time and out of range of the Oval Office microphones. By arguing and arguing some more, he was asserting that he belonged and that he counted.

He had started as an outcast, growing up in pre-war Germany among people who despised and rejected him for being a Jew. The Nazis sacked his father from the public high school in Fürth, near Nuremberg. His mother was the first to grasp that the “Hitler State” held no future for her children.

In 1938, 15-year-old Heinz, as he was then, fled to America with his family. He never shed the accent; his voice, like gravel in a goldfish-bowl, added deeply to his seriousness. But his younger brother Walter learned to speak like a regular American, claiming later to be “the Kissinger who listens”.

Even his detractors admitted he had a brilliant mind. His undergraduate thesis was so profuse, at 383 pages, that it supposedly led Harvard to introduce the “Kissinger rule”, limiting students to less than half that length.

Continue reading ‘Henry Kissinger’s style was to work outside the official machinery of the State Department and the foreign service, which he thought had sapped American diplomacy of its vigour and creativity.’ »

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is a Colombo. Resident. Before Making Colombo an “Entertainment Hub”,he should be aware of the numerous issues that not only the residents of the city face but also thousands who come to the city every day.


(Text of Editorial appearing in the “Daily FT”dated 30 November 2023 under the heading “Get basics right first in Colombo city before envisioning entertainment hub)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced plans this week to make Colombo an “entertainment hub.” Any plan to make the country’s metropolis a more liveable city and make it tourist-friendly is welcome.

Colombo has seen a rapid change in the past decade with the addition of high-rise buildings being the most visible among them. These buildings have altered the face of Colombo, particularly the sea facing areas and has attracted many new residents to the country’s commercial capital.

Along with them have come the high-end shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, etc. all intended to attract high spending tourists, both local and foreign. While the focus of any visitor to Colombo is on these new shiny structures, there are many areas in the city that are grossly neglected and have been so for years.

Continue reading ‘President Ranil Wickremesinghe is a Colombo. Resident. Before Making Colombo an “Entertainment Hub”,he should be aware of the numerous issues that not only the residents of the city face but also thousands who come to the city every day.’ »

US Justice Dept Files Indictment against Indian National Nikhil Gupta Over Alleged Conspiracy to Assassinate US Citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun; Senior Indian Intellige Official Suspected of Masterminding Plot to kill Sikh Activist Pannu on US Soil

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By

Suhasini Haidar

India has set up a “high-level” enquiry committee to look into allegations made by the United States government regarding an Indian plot targeting Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S.-based Khalistani activist wanted on terror charges, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced here on Wednesday.

The explosive allegations, contained in a U.S. Department of Justice indictment that was publicly released on Wednesday, accuse a senior Indian intelligence official, as yet unnamed but referred to as CC-1, of masterminding the assassination plot. The indictment alleges that the official enlisted an individual named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hit man with an advance payment, and also suggests that the Gujarat Police dropped criminal charges against Mr. Gupta at the behest of the Indian intelligence official in order to facilitate the contract killing.

It also claims that there is a link between the alleged plot against Mr. Pannun and the plot to kill Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which Canada has accused Indian government agents of masterminding.

Continue reading ‘US Justice Dept Files Indictment against Indian National Nikhil Gupta Over Alleged Conspiracy to Assassinate US Citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun; Senior Indian Intellige Official Suspected of Masterminding Plot to kill Sikh Activist Pannu on US Soil’ »

Sri Lanka has reached an “agreement in principle” with India and the Paris Club group of creditors including Japan, on a debt treatment plan; Lenders ‘expect’ transparency from ‘other bilateral creditors’ alluding to China


By’

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka has reached an “agreement in principle” with India and the Paris Club group of creditors including Japan, on a debt treatment plan that will help the crisis-hit island nation tap the next tranche of the International Monetary Fund’s nearly-$3 billion recovery package.

“The OCC [Official Creditor Committee] and Sri Lanka agreed on the main parameters of a debt treatment consistent with those of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” the Paris Club said in a statement on Wednesday. While the statement did not spell out the parameters, the OCC said it “stands ready and looks forward to formalising” the agreement in the coming weeks in a Memorandum of Understanding with Sri Lanka.

At the height of last year’s crippling economic crisis, Sri Lanka decided to default on its nearly $51 billion foreign debt. A comprehensive restructuring of loans became necessary to begin an economic recovery programme backed by the IMF. Major lenders formed the OCC in May 2023 in response to Colombo’s request for debt treatment. It is co-chaired by India,

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka has reached an “agreement in principle” with India and the Paris Club group of creditors including Japan, on a debt treatment plan; Lenders ‘expect’ transparency from ‘other bilateral creditors’ alluding to China’ »

President Wickremesinghe characterised the Constitutional Council (CC) as being ‘part of the executive’. Undeniably, the CC was established to check executive power and not to act as an executive appendage.


By

Kishali Pinto -Jayawardene

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s highly inappropriate jocularity in Parliament this week when commenting about the ‘Public Trust’ Doctrine only reinforces the (unfortunately) pejorative stamp of his Presidency as undermining the Constitution.

‘Public Trust is everything’

Mind, this is not in the typically crude sledgehammer style of Medamulana rule but more subtle and hence far more dangerous.

The President alleged that the Opposition Leader’s refusal of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s offer to take the Presidency last year in the wake of unprecedented public anger against the Rajapaksas, was a breach of Public Trust.

‘Where does this (ie; Public Trust) end?’ the President caustically asked. This was an obviously sneering aside to the Supreme Court ruling earlier this month referencing the breach of Public Trust by the Rajapaksa ruling coterie and its supporters who catastrophically mismanaged the country’s monetary and fiscal policy from 2020/2021.

That was held by the Court to have directly contributed, (by commission and by omission), to Sri Lanka’s painful bankruptcy.

That extraordinary crisis from which the country is still struggling to extricate itself, has precipitated large segments of the populace into penury, led to the breakdown of the public health and education systems resulting in thousands fleeing its shores.

Not satisfied with that aside, the President went on to say that if he is not given the ‘support’ that he needs at this critical juncture, that again violates the Public Trust.

Components of the Public Trust Doctrine

But such frivolity is both unseemly and imprudent. The core components of the majority Supreme Court ruling is far from what the President mockingly reduces it to.

Public Trust is not a question of a Presidential demand for ‘public support’ or finding fault with the Opposition Leader’s decisions as the case may be.

In fact, this cursory treatment of an important legal doctrine going to the heart of political accountability is a reflection of how little Sri Lanka’s leaders regard the Rule of Law. President Wickremesinghe would do well to refresh his memory on the manner in which the doctrine of Public Trust had been painstakingly developed as an expansion of judicial review of executive and administrative action from the early 1990’s.

Certainly this is not a new jurisprudential graft on judicial thinking of the apex court and he is not the first President challenged therein. On the contrary, the doctrine forms a bedrock of jurisprudence based on public law principles read with Article 12 (1) ensuring the equal protection of the law.

Its core warning is that discretions and powers vested in those wielding executive and administrative office cannot be ‘absolute, unfettered and unreviewable.’

Gross failure in managing Sri Lanka’s economy

Through decades, (I must add, when the Court was propelled by its conscience as opposed to political ambition of a few judges), the doctrine has been judicially employed to reprimand constitutional violators for capricious, arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of power.

This has ranged from giving relief for citizens affected by land acquisitions, compensation for evictions, appointments and dismissals and the corrupt exercise of political power.

In the instant decision, the Court’s majority reasoning meticulously examines the various factors that led to the country’s financial collapse. Particularly pivotal were the 2019 tax revisions of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Presidency which had been justified by the respondents as ‘re-engineering’ the tax system, creating a positive environment to spur business growth despite enormous loss of revenue.

In dismissing that explanation, the Court observed that legislation to that effect had been introduced only in mid 2021 even though, by that time, it was patently clear that such a positive impact had not been evidenced. Instead, an ‘unmanageable budget deficit’ had been created and the country’s credit ratings had been lowered by ratings agencies.

This in turn led to the ‘loss of access to capital markets at reasonable costs which resulted in the drying up of foreign exchange inflows (see at page 74).

Irrational and unreasonable’ leadership

Remedial measures were imperative but not taken. These failures had a domino effect on the economy, which finally collapsed. Even so, the response by the Government of the day had been ‘confrontational’ with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank refusing to accept the downgrading. This was, in the Court’s view, both irrational and unreasonable, breaching the Public Trust reposed in the (then) President, Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Secretary to the President.

That same gross negligence was demonstrated in seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and in not properly assessing the fact that a so-called ‘homegrown solution’ would not be viable to resolve serious economic ills. ‘The sudden departure or deviation from commitments with the international organisation had resulted in consequences detrimental to the country’ the Court observed (see at page 78).

Even so, the attack on the ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ was not the only constitutional fracas that arose vis a vis the President’s remarks in the House. Firing on all guns as it were, President Wickremesinghe also characterised the Constitutional Council (CC) as being ‘part of the executive’ and claimed that it was ‘sabotaging’ the appointment of a new Inspector General of Police (IGP) and judges to the superior courts.

The CC is not ‘part of the executive’

For good measure, it has been proposed to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to ‘examine’ the CC’s working. The CC, as initially envisaged in the 17th Amendment, was conceived as a constitutional creature, sui generis in nature, meant to ‘restrict’ Presidential discretion when making appointments to constitutional commissions and key public/judicial offices (SC Determination No 6/2001, Decisions of the Supreme Court on Parliamentary Bills, 1991-2003, Vol VII).

Undeniably, the CC was established to check executive power not to act as an executive appendage. Indeed, this Presidential reduction of the CC places it on par with the discredited Parliamentary Council of the Mahinda Rajapaksa-driven 18th Amendment and the Gotabaya Rajapaksa-driven 20th Amendment. In other words, President Wickremesinghe cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds as it were.

He cannot boast that he made a ‘change’ with the 21st Amendment (and earlier with the 19th Amendment) by doing away with the obnoxious Parliamentary Council. And at the same time, reduce the CC to a cipher.

This is not to say that the CC is all that it should be. Far from it. It is deficient in its supposed claim to ‘independence’ in its composition, presided over by the Speaker.


What is this Parliament all about?

The CC’s procedures in regard to its functioning should also be far more transparent. This has been a long standing problem for several years. That is not rectified by the Opposition Leader’s tabling of the minutes of the CC justifying his position over the still pending appointment of the tenth member to the CC.

But all that does not justify the description of the CC as ‘part of the executive,’ let it be said clearly.

Meanwhile, what is this squabbling over who should occupy front row seats in the House which took up a considerable amount of time with legislators jeering as the President baited the Opposition Leader. Are these matters that should even take up the time of parliamentary business forsooth?

President Wickremesinghe was heard the other day to announce that parliamentary time should not be wasted. Well, it seems as if he is the first offender thereof.

This sort of devilry in the House is to the detriment of the country, the people and indeed, the incumbent holder of the seat of the Presidency himself.

Courtesy:Sunday Times

The Birth and Growth of the “Maaveerar Naal” (Great Heroes Day) Event.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

November 27, 1989, was the day on which the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) first observed its annual “Maaveerar Naal” or Great Heroes Day (GHD). The event continues to be observed in Sri Lanka and by sections of the Global Tamil Diaspora despite the military debacle suffered by the LTTE in May 2009. The event has lost much of its lustre after the demise of Tiger supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran.These are days of decline when compared to the manner in which Great heroes day was observed when the LTTE ruled the roost. Nevertheless, commemorating the fallen Tigers as great heroes annually remains an enduring Tiger legacy despite the LTTE being militarily decimated in Sri Lanka.

There is a mystique about “Maaveerar Naal” that has captured the imagination of a very large number of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora. What makes the GHD tick despite the debacle of Mullivaaikkal?

In that context the evolution and growth of the Great Heroes day event makes an interesting study. This writer has in the past written several articles on the topic. This article therefore draws liberally from my earlier writings. Let me begin by tracing in brief the history of this event.

Continue reading ‘The Birth and Growth of the “Maaveerar Naal” (Great Heroes Day) Event.’ »

“Former President Mahinda Rajapakse,must resign, if he has any semblance of a sense of dignity, and if he respects rule of law, if he respects democracy, he must promptly resign from Parliament and accept responsibility.”- MA Sumanthiran MP

(Text of Speech made by Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran in Parliament on 22.11.2023)


Thank you Hon. Chai
r for the time allocated to speak a few words on these heads of expenditure We have had an interesting debate so far, with his Excellency also participating. One of the institutions under consideration is the constitutional council, many things have been said today back and forth about the constitutional council but I want to raise a more fundamental issue.

There is a vacancy in the constitutional council; all ten members have not been appointed, this is a very serious issue, it’s a very serious issue for us. Because we were entitled to nominate a member, and such a meeting was held, and I proposed a senior parliamentarian Hon. Dharmalingam Siddharthan to be that member in the constitutional council. But to date he has not been appointed to the constitutional council.

We have raised this many times; the leader of the opposition has raised in Parliament, at the party leaders’ meeting, and the Hon. Speaker has clearly said that it is our right.

In fact others who are claiming to have a right to nominate are all members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. The general secretary of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has written to the speaker and said that they are members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, if they are not members of the SLPP, they can’t be members of parliament.

So they can’t claim to be ones who have the right to nominate this member to the constitutional council. But this is not just a technicality, by this, the 3rd largest party in parliament, the second largest party in the opposition, has been deprived of our right to participate in the deliberations of the constitutional council.

Continue reading ‘“Former President Mahinda Rajapakse,must resign, if he has any semblance of a sense of dignity, and if he respects rule of law, if he respects democracy, he must promptly resign from Parliament and accept responsibility.”- MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

Sri Lankan military is Sri Lankan in name only. In reality, it is a Sinhala-Buddhist military wedded to Sinhala-Buddhist interests. An anomaly in a demographically pluralist land and a dangerous one.


By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“It is apparent that the continued inaction to reintroduce and/or to raise taxes, and regain the government revenue that was lost, brought about an adverse impact on the economy which had a domino effect on the entire social fabric.” Supreme Court of Sri Lanka

The Supreme Court judgement about the Rajapaksa culpability for Sri Lanka’s economic ruin couldn’t have come at a better time. The sense of hope generated by the ending of chronic shortages and the partial restoration of normalcy has waned. The forward movement of the economy has grinded to a halt, impeded by multiple malaises solidified through inaction and indifference into components of the governance landscape. The president is no longer walking the talk and the parliament is a demented kindergarten where most debates degenerate into a violent slanging matches.

Economic pain is no more a shared problem as it was during the months of crippling shortages. Now the affliction belongs to those occupying the bottom half of the income totem pole. In 2022, the shared hardships of fuel queues and power cuts brought about a rare sense of solidarity.

At Galle Face and across the country, the rich, the middle classes and the poor stood shoulder to shoulder united in their common deprivation. Now that sense of being in it together is gone. There’s no solidarity any more. Only anger. Nearly a half of Sri Lankans are hurting without hope, a condition that bodes ill for all.

The findings of a recent UNDP survey demonstrate the extent to which the public has lost confidence in the political class, in national institutions, in governance itself.

The judiciary is one of two exceptions to this general disenchantment. Forty percent of respondents trust the judiciary. This week’s landmark supreme court judgement proves that that trust is not misplaced. The judiciary is not immune to the general attrition but it is not broken. It remains a part of a solution rather than a part of the problem.

That the Rajapaksas have learnt nothing from the disaster is obvious from their reaction to the judgement. They don’t believe they did anything wrong. Therefore, they don’t believe they need to change. Maybe some superficial alterations to regain the lost sheen, a bit of a propaganda hype but nothing substantial, nothing real. They and their supporters remain confident of their own inerrancy and their infallibility. In their worldview, the only problem with Gotabaya Rajapaksa is that he ran away.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan military is Sri Lankan in name only. In reality, it is a Sinhala-Buddhist military wedded to Sinhala-Buddhist interests. An anomaly in a demographically pluralist land and a dangerous one.’ »

Supreme Court ruling has opened a window for any Sri Lankan to seek compensation from the Rajapaksas for economic, physical and psychological distress they had been subjected to due to the economic crisis.


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the three Rajapaksa brothers and a cabal of officials were responsible for the economic crisis, delivering an unprecedented judgement that could be the precursor to Sri Lanka’s long march for justice.

The Court ruled by the majority judgment that the Rajapaksa brothers and five of their acolytes who were handpicked to the top government positions “had demonstrably contributed to the economic crisis” by their actions, omissions, decisions and conduct.

Alongside the Rajapaksas – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, then prime minister and Finance Minister Mahinda and Basil Rajapaksa, who succeeded Mahinda as Finance minister- the Court found guilty five close associates who held key government positions by virtue of their loyalty to the family: former Central Bank Governors Ajith Nivard Cabraal and W.D. Lakshman, former Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle, the Monetary Board’s former member Samantha Kumarasinghe, and former Finance Ministry Secretary and Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera.

The 120-page judgement highlighted a number of costly ideocracies of Gotabaya Rajapaksa that precipitated the economic crisis, driving millions of families into destitution and doubling the poverty rate in a year.

The Court noted that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘imprudent” tax revision in 2019 brought about a ‘domino effect’, which resulted in downgrading by rating agencies, depletion of foreign reserves, and loss of access to the international finance market.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court ruling has opened a window for any Sri Lankan to seek compensation from the Rajapaksas for economic, physical and psychological distress they had been subjected to due to the economic crisis.’ »

Pandora Papers name Sri Lankan Public Security Minister Tiran Alles as the owner and director of Banham Ventures Limited and Brompton Properties registered in the British Virgin Islands Since July 2017


The name of a top Sri Lankan politician has emerged in the latest release of Pandora Papers two years after the first leak of financial secrets of shell companies in overseas tax shelters.

The individual, a minister in President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s cabinet, has been identified as the beneficial owner of two such firms registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a known tax haven.

Tiran Prasanna Christopher Alles is listed as the owner and director of Banham Ventures Limited and Brompton Properties since July 2017. Both are incorporated in the BVI.

Continue reading ‘Pandora Papers name Sri Lankan Public Security Minister Tiran Alles as the owner and director of Banham Ventures Limited and Brompton Properties registered in the British Virgin Islands Since July 2017’ »

Former Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravi Seneviratne Tells Australia’s ABC investigations that Probe by Police into the 2019 Easter Attacks were Derailed Through Political Interference Immediately after Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Elected President; Says Leade Investigator and 22 others were Removed and Over 700 CID Personnel Intimidated by an Overseas Travel ban.


By Josh Robertson

A retired police commander has shed new light on claims that the former Sri Lankan government may have colluded with a terrorist group for political gain, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people, including Australians, in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.
The attacks by Islamic state-inspired terrorists on churches and luxury hotels killed 269 people including two Australians and injured about 500 other people.

The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is now calling on the Australian government to support an independent investigation into the allegations, a call backed by Melbourne woman Chathudilla Weerasinghe, who survived the attack on Colombo’s Kingsbury hotel.
“They should carry out an investigation … because there were so many blasts on the date — similar timings, coordinated – it has to be a major planned-out thing,” Ms Weerasinghe said.

In September, the UK’s Channel 4 aired claims by a former government aide, Asad Maulana, that a top intelligence official met with members of the terrorist group National Thowheed Jam’ath (NTJ) as part of an alleged plot to help former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa win government by creating a national security crisis from the attacks.

Continue reading ‘Former Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravi Seneviratne Tells Australia’s ABC investigations that Probe by Police into the 2019 Easter Attacks were Derailed Through Political Interference Immediately after Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Elected President; Says Leade Investigator and 22 others were Removed and Over 700 CID Personnel Intimidated by an Overseas Travel ban.’ »

China will Prioritize the Extension of the China -Myanmar Economic Corri dor(CMEV) to Sri Lanka states Visiting Chinese Special Envoy Shen Yiqin in Colombo at meeting with President Ranul Wickremesinghe

By
Meera Srinivasan

China is “prioritising” the extension of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) to Sri Lanka, the country’s Special Envoy told President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday, in an indication that China is looking to scale up the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project in South Asia.

Paying a courtesy call on the Sri Lankan President, Special envoy of the Chinese President, state councillor Shen Yiqin, said China is prioritising the extension of the Corridor to the island nation, according to a press statement issued by Mr. Wickremesinghe’s office on Monday.

“Additionally, both parties agreed to expedite the implementation of the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement,” the statement said.

Continue reading ‘China will Prioritize the Extension of the China -Myanmar Economic Corri dor(CMEV) to Sri Lanka states Visiting Chinese Special Envoy Shen Yiqin in Colombo at meeting with President Ranul Wickremesinghe’ »

Larry Wijeratne: The Sinhala Army Officer who Won the Hearts and Minds of Vadamaratchy Tamil People.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Today November 11th is observed in many parts of the World including Sri Lanka as Remembrance day or War memorial day. It is also called Poppy day due to the tradition of wearing a poppy flower. Remembrance day has its origins in the end of world war one. Although world war 1 concluded officially on 28 June 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, hostilities on ground had ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918 with the signing of the armistice . Hence Nov 11 is observed as remembrance day on which soldiers who fought and died for their country are commemorated.

It is against this backdrop that this column remembers a fallen Sri Lankan soldier in this article . Brigadier L.A.R. “Larry”Wijeratne the then commander of the “Vadamaratchy” division in the Jaffna peninsula was killed on 14 May 1998 in an explosion triggered by a suicide bomber assassin of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). Larry Wijeratne who was posthumously promoted as Major – General personified the hackneyed phrase ‘an officer and a gentleman”.

The fair, handsome Sinhala officer mistaken very often for a burgher was killed in Point Pedro on the last day of his tenure in Jaffna. The erstwhile commander of the Vadamaratchy divisional zone was returning to base after a farewell ceremony. Fate in the form of a suicide bomber decreed that it was not a case of Larry bidding au revoir to Jaffna but adieu to the world.

Continue reading ‘Larry Wijeratne: The Sinhala Army Officer who Won the Hearts and Minds of Vadamaratchy Tamil People.’ »

Gemini Ganesan Known as “Kaadhal Mannan” (Romance King) was the greatest lover on the silver screens of Tamil Cimema

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Popular Tamil cinema actor Gemini Ganesan whose 103rd birth anniversary falls on November 17th is regarded widely as the greatest romantic lover in Tamil cinema . In a career spanning more than five decades Gemini Ganesan made his mark in Tamil films as the romantic hero par excellence. In fact he was dubbed “Kaadhal Mannan,” meaning “King of Romance”. What is most interesting about Gemini Ganesan is the fact that his romantic on-screen and off-screen persona got intertwined in reel life and real life.

While the actor hero crooned and danced his way into the hearts of many lovely heroines on screen, the off-screen Gemini too romanced many women in real life.

Gemini had four wives plus several liaisons including live -in relationships with attractive women. He himself admitted to his numerous affairs with other married women to the Indian magazine”Debonair” in an interview . When the magazine wanted more details, Gemini declined to elaborate saying, “Gentlemen don’t tell!”

This article therefore focuses on Gemini Ganesan to commemorate his 103rd Birth anniversary.I have written about Gemini earlier and shall rely upon some of these writings to help revive pleasant memories of an actor who gave me and millions of others immense pleasure through his movies.

I would like to start off this article on a personal note.

Continue reading ‘Gemini Ganesan Known as “Kaadhal Mannan” (Romance King) was the greatest lover on the silver screens of Tamil Cimema’ »

Supreme Court Ruling must surely make the political establishment, its avaricious panjandrums and the sundry collection of white collar parasites still feeding off Sri Lanka’s rotting carcass, shudder in their well heeled shoes


By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardene

A ringing reminder by the Supreme Court this week holding three Rajapaksas (two former Presidents and a Minister of Finance) along with their economic tsars and a politically driven Monetary Board responsible for Sri Lanka’s calamitous bankruptcy, was that ‘the Rule of Law is not only rights and equality….(it) is also about functionality and efficiency for (the) sustainable economic development of the nation and all of its people.’

Politicians and the evils that they do

That awful pronouncement must surely make the political establishment, its avaricious panjandrums and the sundry collection of white collar parasites still feeding off Sri Lanka’s rotting carcass, shudder in their well heeled shoes. The instant decision is, in many respects, an interesting accompaniment to an earlier decision of the Court holding another former President (Maithripala Sirisena), his defence and police chiefs culpable for reckless failure to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

Indeed the sequence of events relevant to the disasters in point (2019 and 2022) speak to certain commonalities in their happening, Both cumulatively tipped Sri Lanka into an abyss from which there is yet no salvation, if there can ever be.

In focus were two singularly catastrophic eventualities that called upon the Court to examine extraordinary situations of national distress.

Both were brought about by a vicious combination of an unquenched thirst for power and raw greed on the part of those once hailed as Sri Lanka’s saviours but whose actions, ironically, led to the ‘death’ of the nation as we know it. That was combined, we must not forget, with mind numbing personal and professional opportunism by a galaxy of men and women who stood by and said nothing, did nothing and heard nothing as the country died, ‘not with a bang but with a whimper.’

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Ruling must surely make the political establishment, its avaricious panjandrums and the sundry collection of white collar parasites still feeding off Sri Lanka’s rotting carcass, shudder in their well heeled shoes’ »

“The solution can only be a political one in which both Israelis and Palestinians live together or side by side in dignity, with equal rights. The world must intervene. The occupation must end. Palestinians must have a viable homeland.”- Arundhati Roy

By Dan Sheehan

In a video address to the Munich Literature Festival yesterday, the human rights activist and Booker Prize-winning author of The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy made a powerful speech in solidarity with the Gazan people, and with the millions around the world marching for a ceasefire.

Roy—who could not attend the Munich Literature Festival in person because she is currently facing trumped-up sedition charges in India for comments she made in 2010 about Kashmir—forcefully condemned the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza, as well as the German government’s draconian crackdown on pro-Palestinian advocacy and the continued bankrolling of the occupation by the US and other countries, stating that “If we allow this brazen slaughter to continue … Something in our moral selves will be altered forever.”

Below is the text of Roy’s remarks in full:

Continue reading ‘“The solution can only be a political one in which both Israelis and Palestinians live together or side by side in dignity, with equal rights. The world must intervene. The occupation must end. Palestinians must have a viable homeland.”- Arundhati Roy’ »

“Public Money has been Stolen by he Former President,his brothers and several others who worked with them. They have taken the money out of the country. What the Supreme Court should have done is to have ordered them to pay compensation for every citizen of this country, and bring that money into the treasury and that would have seen the revival of this country’s economy.”- MA Sumanthiran MP

(Text of Speech made by Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran During the Budget Debate on – 15th November 2023)

Thank you presiding member for the opportunity to speak at the second reading of the budget proposals that have been presented to this House by his Excellency the President and Minister of Finance.

Whenever I have spoken on the second reading and if it was the president who held the portfolio of finance, I have consistently raised my objection to that fact and I must place my objection today also. I have said this since 2010. The reason is that the constitution says that public finance is a matter that is entirely in the preserve of Parliament, and therefore I take the view that it is only a Member of Parliament who is accountable to Parliament in that way, who must hold the portfolio of finance.

His Excellency the president is not a member of parliament, although he can attend Parliament and he can answer questions. I take the view that the chief of the executive, who is not a member of the legislature, should not hold that post. Having said that, I want to start by welcoming some of the proposals that have been made, for instance we welcome the increase in monthly cost of living allowance of public sector employees and pensioners.

Although insufficient it is a welcome increase. Also the increase the monthly allowance for persons with disabilities, elderly citizens and kidney patients – most welcome. Then expediting compensation for missing persons. There was a large sum that was allocated several years ago, that was not spent. There is an amount in the appropriation act but over and beyond that His Excellency in his speech said, he is allocating a further sum to expedite the payment.

Providing land ownership to farmers; Yes! that’s a very salutary proposal and we welcome that, fishery industry development in the northern region; a long felt need and in the budget proposal that has found mention and we welcome that. Construction of houses for internally displaced person, initiating preliminary work for the water supply project in Jaffna: all of these are matters in the budget proposal that we welcome.

However, it is one thing to have these proposals and it is quite another thing to see them realized. So that is why we have reacted with scepticism, when even these welcome proposals are mentioned. We have tracked or several agencies have tracked the progress made on budget proposals.

Continue reading ‘“Public Money has been Stolen by he Former President,his brothers and several others who worked with them. They have taken the money out of the country. What the Supreme Court should have done is to have ordered them to pay compensation for every citizen of this country, and bring that money into the treasury and that would have seen the revival of this country’s economy.”- MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

President Ranil Wickremesinghe Presents Pre -election year Budget with incentives for public servants, pensioners and those on State welfare programs as well as promises of housing and land ownership for thousands of others.


By Chandani Kirinde

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday in Parliament presented his Government’s 2024 Budget, the second since taking office in July 2022 and the last before the country goes to the polls to elect a new Head of State late next year.

Though the President made it a point to say it was not an Election Budget, it was characteristic of what most finance ministers would do ahead of an election year with incentives for public servants, pensioners and those on State welfare programs as well as promises of housing and land ownership for thousands of others.

The President began his Budget speech at 12 noon, a break from tradition as most Budgets are presented later in the afternoon post-lunch. Speculation was that an auspicious time may have been selected for the crucial speech.

Continue reading ‘President Ranil Wickremesinghe Presents Pre -election year Budget with incentives for public servants, pensioners and those on State welfare programs as well as promises of housing and land ownership for thousands of others.’ »

5 Judge Bench of Supreme Court Headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya in 4;1 Majority Ruling Holds that Gotabaya,Mahinda,Basil and Cabraal are Responsible for Economic Crisis in the Country.


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Supreme Court today held that several respondents including former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and former Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal are responsible for economic crisis in the country.

Continue reading ‘5 Judge Bench of Supreme Court Headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya in 4;1 Majority Ruling Holds that Gotabaya,Mahinda,Basil and Cabraal are Responsible for Economic Crisis in the Country.’ »

“This year’s budget is poised to reshape both the nation’s economy and political landscape. My goal is to ensure the success of the country’s economic development program without the influence of politics.” President Ranil Wickremesinghe Tells Media Institution heads


(Text of Press Release Issued by the President’s Media Division on 14 November 2023)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored his desire for a resurgence of cricket in the country, linking its revival to the broader economic recovery.

He made these remarks in response to a journalist’s inquiry during a meeting with heads of media organization at the Presidential Secretariat this afternoon (14). The purpose of the meeting was to brief media heads on the Budget 2024, with representation from print and electronic media.

Expanding on the significance of this year’s budget, the President asserted its transformative impact on the nation’s economy and politics. His primary objective is the restoration of the country’s fractured economy, emphasizing a non-political approach to achieving this goal.

Continue reading ‘“This year’s budget is poised to reshape both the nation’s economy and political landscape. My goal is to ensure the success of the country’s economic development program without the influence of politics.” President Ranil Wickremesinghe Tells Media Institution heads’ »

Sri Lanka Supreme Court determines that ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa along with former Finance Ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, bear responsibility for Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis and had thereby violated the fundamental rights of the people by mismanaging the economy between 2019 and 2022.

In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court yesterday determined that ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, along with former Finance Ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, bear responsibility for Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis and had thereby violated the fundamental rights of the people by mismanaging the economy between 2019 and 2022.

The apex court found that the 13 respondents, which also included Central Bank Governors Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Prof. W.D. Lakshman, former Secretary to the Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle, former Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundara and Members of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had violated public trust and breached Article 12 (1) of the Constitution, in their administration of the economy, leading to the economic crisis in the country.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Supreme Court determines that ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa along with former Finance Ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, bear responsibility for Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis and had thereby violated the fundamental rights of the people by mismanaging the economy between 2019 and 2022.’ »