Mass Expulsion of Muslims From The North By The LTTE Thirty Years Ago

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) forcibly expelled the Tamil-speaking Muslim people from the Northern Province in October 1990. Within a few days the Muslims were chased out of their homeland where they had lived for many, many centuries. This year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of this cruel, inhuman episode in the history of Tamil-Muslim relations in Sri Lanka.

The mass expulsion of Muslims from the north in 1990 was a human catastrophe. Uprooting a people from their habitat at gun point and driving them away after depriving them of their cash and jewellery was despicable and unpardonable. I have often written about this tragedy in the past. I now intend to focus upon this mass expulsion on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

I shall be drawing on some of my earlier writings in a bid to revive memories of this mass expulsion by relating in brief the tale of this terrible tragedy. I also want to trace the sequence of events that led to this sordid exercise in which the Tamil-speaking Muslims were chased out by their gun-toting linguistic brethren of a feline hue.

Continue reading ‘Mass Expulsion of Muslims From The North By The LTTE Thirty Years Ago’ »

From JR’s 2nd to Gota’s 20th: A Tale Of Two Constitutional Amendments

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution has been passed with a two-thirds majority. 156 MP’s voted in favour while 65 voted against. Among those who voted for 20 A were eight MP’s from the opposition. Widespread speculation about the possibility of some dissidents within Govt folds voting against it and preventing a two-thirds majority has come to naught. The projected storm of revolt was transformed into a tea-cup tempest after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed them in a late night meeting. Hey Presto! The grand wizard Gotabaya turned ferociously growling (paper)tigers into meekly mewing,mildly purring pussy cats. With the smooth passage of the 20th Amendment being ensured, Sri Lanka will once again have a full-fledged executive presidency with a powerful president at the helm.

The elitist supporters of Gotabaya Rajapaksa like those of the “Viyathmaga” and “Eliya” are not people who would march jubilantly on the streets shouting slogans. But if they did, Gota’s golayas could adopt and adapt a slogan shouted out by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP) of Rohana Wijeweera in the days before the April 1971 insurgency. In those days Wijeweera’s JVP comrades were referred to as “Che Gue asvarists” as they idolized the fiery Marxist Leninist revolutionary leader. A favourite slogan was “Api Yanney Koi Paarey?Che Guevara Giya Paaret!(Which road do we trek on?the road where Che Guevara trekked on !).

Continue reading ‘From JR’s 2nd to Gota’s 20th: A Tale Of Two Constitutional Amendments’ »

Passage of 20th Constitutional Amendment in Parliament by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Govt was Legal But was it Legitimate?

By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
– Jesus Christ (Luke 12: 56) –

I watched the second and final Trump-Biden debate on CNN after I had spent the two previous days watching the 20th Amendment debate on the Sri Lankan Parliament channel.

The rules of the US Presidential debate were drawn up by the independent Debate Commission and included a ‘mute button’ in case either or both candidates kept interrupting. If it were Sri Lanka today (after 20A), the Debate Commission would be picked by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, or to put it differently and implausibly, if the USA had Sri Lanka’s 20th Amendment, the Debate Commission would have been picked by President Trump. Sri Lankan society is divisible into those who would think that would be a good thing, and those (like me) who wouldn’t.

With the passage of the 20th Amendment on 22 October, the regime of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the battle of narratives even though it began to lose the legitimacy war.

Continue reading ‘Passage of 20th Constitutional Amendment in Parliament by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Govt was Legal But was it Legitimate?’ »

“ We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator and the United States comes in a different way as a friend and as a partner,” States US Secretary of State Mike Pomeo in Colombo

By Chandani Kirinde

Visiting US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo sought to draw a contrast between what China seeks in Sri Lanka as opposed to the manner in which the US operates and controversially labelled the Chinese Communist Party a “predator”.

At a joint press event Pompeo addressed with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the end of his brief visit to the country, the senior US official also said a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka is a powerful and strategic partner for the US on the world stage and it can be a beacon for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“That’s quite a contrast to what China seeks. We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way. We come as a friend and as a partner,” Pompeo said.

Continue reading ‘“ We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator and the United States comes in a different way as a friend and as a partner,” States US Secretary of State Mike Pomeo in Colombo’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.

According to a statement released by the President’s Media Division (PMD) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the United States is ready to continuously engage with Sri Lanka in striving to achieve economic development goals. His country expects to further develop already existing strong bilateral relations between the two countries.

The high-level US delegation led by State Secretary Mike Pompeo called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.

During the cordial discussion between the two parties, views on a number of areas of bilateral and regional importance were exchanged.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.’ »

US and India sign landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi: will the US fully back India with troop footfalls if China launches a full-scale invasion of India as it did in 1962?

By P. K. Balachandran

Although there is uncertainty about the return of the belligerent Donald Trump regime in the US in November, what is certain is a general trajectory towards military tension, if not war, in Asia from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

Last Friday (23), the Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that the “Chinese people would speak to the invaders in a language they understand,” and recalled how the combined forces of China and North Korea defeated the “legendary US army” in Korea in 1950-53. On the other side, the US has been building up the ‘Quad’ a military alliance comprising US, India, Japan and Australia to resist expected advances of Chinese forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

As part of these resistance efforts, the US and India signed the landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi on Tuesday (27), aimed at facing the perceived threat from China. Hailing the agreement, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said: “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency. I am glad to say India and US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by CCP. The US and India are better aligned to protect our democracies and shared values.”

Referring to the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel in Galwan Valley in a clash with the Chinese Army, Pompeo said the US stands with India to deal with any threat. Last month Pompeo told a Quad meeting in Tokyo that China had placed 60,000 troops along the Indian border.

Continue reading ‘US and India sign landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi: will the US fully back India with troop footfalls if China launches a full-scale invasion of India as it did in 1962?’ »

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge taking the total number to nearly 8,000 as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend: total number of deaths rose to 16.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge, taking the total number to nearly 8,000, as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend. The total number of deaths rose to 16.

On Monday, authorities said Sri Lanka’s Parliament would be shut for two days for disinfection, after a member of the Special Task Force, on security duty, tested positive. The development comes days after the House convened for the debate on and subsequent passage of the controversial 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution with nearly all the 225 legislators attending the session.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge taking the total number to nearly 8,000 as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend: total number of deaths rose to 16.’ »

Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.

Worries that this year’s COVID-19 crisis could see the country struggle to pay its debts have already seen its bonds slump almost 40% this year.

On Friday its 2021 and 2022 dollar-denominated bonds dropped 5 cents or more, according to Tradeweb data. Meanwhile its 2025 and 2026 bonds dropped below the 60 cents on the dollar threshold.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will politely tell Visiting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country.

By P.K.Balachandran

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who will be here on October 28, is expected to ask Sri Lankan leaders, point blank, to review relations with China; consider the options US is offering; and accept American advice on domestic and foreign policy.

A top foreign ministry official told Daily Express on Sunday, that Lankan leaders, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, will politely tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka’s decisions and policies will be guided by election mandates, the law and the constitution of the country, and its interests, while maintaining good relations with all countries in the region and the world.

“All the three leaders will tell the ranking US official politely that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country,” the top Lankan official, who spoke on anonymity, said.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will politely tell Visiting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country.’ »

Govt Smuggles in Last Minute Changes to Original 20th Amendment Bill at Committee Stage to Increase Supreme Court Judges From 11 to 17 and Appeal Court Judges From 12 to 20; Time Provided to People to Object to Emergency Bills Reduced from 14 to 7 days.

Sri Lanka’s parliament erupted in a heated debate over bringing last-minute changes to bills in the so-called committee stage by bypassing judicial review, in a country that no longer has post-enactment reviews of legislation by the court.

The constitutional amendment raised the number of Supreme Court justices from 11 to 17 and Court of Appeal judges from 12 to 20 in a last-minute change that was not in the original bill, opposition legislator Eran Wickremaratne said.

The 20th amendment also reduced the time given for post-enactment review to 7 days from the current 14 days for so-called ’emergency’ bills, which was halted in the 19th amendment due to past abuses.

New committee stage changes allow the Supreme Court to be bypassed altogether and limit the parliament itself to a day or a few minutes and citizens who are affected by the law no prior knowledge at all, critics say.

Continue reading ‘Govt Smuggles in Last Minute Changes to Original 20th Amendment Bill at Committee Stage to Increase Supreme Court Judges From 11 to 17 and Appeal Court Judges From 12 to 20; Time Provided to People to Object to Emergency Bills Reduced from 14 to 7 days.’ »

முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் தலைவர் அஷ்ரப் கிழக்கு முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் மிகவும் மக்கள் செல்வாக்குடைய தனியொரு தலைவராக விளங்கினார்


By

டி.பி.எஸ்.ஜெயராஜ்

எம்.எச்.எம்.அஷ்ரபை நினைவு கூருதல்

(This is the Tamil Version of the English Article “ Remembering SLMC Leader M.H.M. Ashraff by D.B.S.Jeyaraj in the “Political Pulse”Column of the “Daily FT”on September 16th 2020 to commemorate Mr. Ashraff’s 20th death anniversary on Sep 16. The Tamil version is being posted on this blog to denote the late SLMC Leader’s 72nd Birth Anniversary on October 23rd 2020))

ஸ்ரீலங்கா முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸின் தனித்துவமான தலைவர் மொஹமட் ஹ_சைன் மொஹமட் அஷ்ரபின் 20ஆவது நினைவு தினம் செப்டெம்பர் 16ஆம் திகதி வந்துபோனது. அவர் மரணமடைந்த வேளையில் ஜனாதிபதி சந்திரிகா பண்டாரநாயக்க குமாரதுங்க அரசாங்கத்தில் கப்பல் போக்குவரத்து துறைமுகங்கள் புனர்நிர்மாணம் மற்றும் புனர்வாழ்வு அமைச்சராக பதவி வகித்தார். அவர் 2000 செப்டெம்பர் 16ஆம் திகதி ஹெலிகொப்டர் விபத்தில் வேறு 14பேருடன் சேர்த்து, கொல்லப்பட்டார்.

விதிவசமான அன்றைய தினம் காலை எம்.எச்.எம்.அஷ்ரப், சுமார் 9.30 மணியளவில் கொழும்பு பம்பலப்பிட்டி பொலிஸ் மைதானத்தில் இலங்கை விமானப்படையின் எம்.ஐ.17 ஹெலிகொப்டரில் ஏறினார். அம்பாறைக்கு செல்வதற்கான அந்த பயணத்தில் இலங்கை விமானப்படையை சேர்ந்த இரு விமானிகளும் இருந்தனர்.

45நிமிடங்களுக்கு பிறகு ஸ்குவாட்ரன் லீடர் சிரான் பெரேரா ஓட்டிச் சென்ற அந்த ஹெலிகொப்டருடனான வானொலி தொடர்பை விமான போக்குவரத்து கட்டுப்பாட்டாளர்கள் இழந்தனர். சப்ரகமுவ மாகாணத்தில் கேகாலை மாவட்டத்தில் அரநாயக்கா பகுதியில் ஊராகந்த மலைத்தொடரில் ஹெலிகொப்டர் மோதியது பின்னர் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டது. ஹெலிகொப்டர் சிதைவுகளுக்குள்ளிருந்து 15 சடலங்கள் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டன. அஷ்ரபின் இறுதிச் சடங்கு அன்றைய தினம் பின்னிரவில் கொழும்பு ஜாவத்தை முஸ்லிம் மையவாடியில் இடம்பெற்றது. அவர் ஏற்கனவே தான் இறந்து சிலமணி நேரத்துக்குள் தனது உடலை அடக்கம் செய்துவிட வேண்டும் என்று குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களிடம் கூறியிருந்தார்.

அஷ்ரபின் மரணத்துக்கு பிறகு இரண்டு தசாப்தங்கள் கடந்து விட்டன. ஆனால், அவரது மரணம் முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் ஒரு வெற்றிடத்தை ஏற்படுத்தியது என்பதையும் அந்த வெற்றிடம் இன்றும் நிரப்பப்படவில்லை என்பதையும் எவரும் மறுக்க முடியாது. 20வருடங்களுக்கு பின்னரும் கூட அவரது மறைவு ஏற்படுத்திய தாக்கம் இலங்கை முஸ்லிம்களின் அரசியல் மீதும் குறிப்பாக முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் மீதும் குறிப்பிடத்தக்க செல்வாக்கை தொடர்ந்து செலுத்திக்கொண்டிருக்கின்றது.

கிழக்கில் மக்களின் செல்வாக்கை இழந்துபோவதை தவிர்க்க விரும்புகின்ற – செல்வாக்கை தொடர்ந்து தக்கவைக்க விரும்புகின்ற அல்லது மேலும் கூடுதல் செல்வாக்கை பெற விரும்புகின்ற எந்தவொரு முஸ்லிம் அரசியல்வாதியும் அஷ்ரப் என்ற மந்திரப் பெயரை எப்பொழுதும் புகழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்க வேண்டும். கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் அரசியல் ரீதியில் ஓரங்கட்டுப்படவிடக்கூடாதே என்ற பயத்தில் அஷ்ரபின் அரசியலை கண்டன விமர்சனம் செய்வதற்கு எந்தவொரு அரசியல்வாதியும் துணிச்சல் கொள்வதில்லை.

Continue reading ‘முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் தலைவர் அஷ்ரப் கிழக்கு முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் மிகவும் மக்கள் செல்வாக்குடைய தனியொரு தலைவராக விளங்கினார்’ »

Charismatic Actor -Politician Vijaya Kumaratunga: 75th Birth Anniversary Tribute

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Kovilage Vijaya Anthony Kumaratunga, known to the world as Vijaya Kumaratunga, was born in Seeduwa on 9 October 1945. Vijaya was an endearing personality with an enduring vision whom I liked, admired and respected very much. He was a man who envisaged the transformation of Sri Lanka into an inclusive, multi-ethnic, egalitarian and plural nation. A much-loved man of the masses who may have altered the destiny of this resplendent isle in a very positive manner, had he not been felled in the prime of life by foul assassins. A man whose worth is increasingly valued in the present time where communal discord is deliberately promoted for short-term political gain.

I write this week about the beloved actor-turned-politician Vijaya Kumaratunga whose 75th birth anniversary falls on 9 October.I have written some articles about Vijaya in the past. I will be drawing on some of them in writing this column which will focus on the much loved charismatic actor cum politician.

Continue reading ‘Charismatic Actor -Politician Vijaya Kumaratunga: 75th Birth Anniversary Tribute’ »

A Govt which marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawrdene

As Sri Lanka’s Parliament passed the 20th Amendment Bill enhancing the powers of the Presidency on Thursday while the country erupted in covid-induced flames, there is delight in watching the Rajapaksa brotherhood being hoist with its nationalist petard. A Government which had marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote for the 20th Amendment Bill primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.

Consternation of the Medamulana faithful outside the House was evident. Just days ago, a hostile upsurge of a sizeable segment of the Buddhist monkhood against the amendment was evidenced in an (un) holy combine with the good Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. The protest was led in the most glorious of ironies by the Abhayarama Temple, the headquarters from which the Rajapaksas had plotted their comeback from defeat in 2015. ‘We will never forgive this Government if it does not listen to us, we brought it to power’, the monks thundered. Well, as it so happened, the Government did not listen when it summarily disposed of the clause prohibiting dual citizens to enter Parliament.

That opposition minority votes were grabbed to pass the Bill on the floor of the House is sure to add more incendiary flames to an already scorching fire. So this ‘revolt in the temple’ had some distinctly amusing moments, one must confess. Government spokespersons extolled the virtues of a ‘global citizen’ in struggling to explain why the political entry of dual citizens is not necessarily bad as opposed to an ultra-nationalist exclusive citizenship. Suddenly screechingly anti-globalisation ‘pohottuwa’ types got more reasonable than even despised ‘liberals’ skulking in Colombo’s clubs, it appeared.

Continue reading ‘A Govt which marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.’ »

Up to date essential, urgent public health information from the state not Adequately Available in the Tamil Language despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.

By S. Rubatheesan

Sri Lanka’s diverse minorities are not getting essential, urgent public health information from the state as soon as they are released, despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and patients in their areas, and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.

There is a severe shortage of translators in state offices and vacancies have not been filled for years.

The Government Information Department (GID), is still struggling to ensure trilingual public communications.

Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the GID, says the proliferation of fake news online and offline makes it essential that official statements are released early and translations issued later. The GID has used external translators with little success.

Continue reading ‘Up to date essential, urgent public health information from the state not Adequately Available in the Tamil Language despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.’ »

Controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution Passed with a two -third Majority;156 MP’s Vote in Favour while 65 Vote against;8 Renegade Opposition MP’s from SJB, SLMC,ACMC, MNA and TPA vote with Govt; Former President Maithripala Sirisena is Absent at voting time

The controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution – with amendments to the original draft – was passed at the second reading with a two thirds majority in Parliament on October 22nd 2020.. One hundred and fifty six MP’s voted in favor while sixty -five voted against.

The 20th Amendment will restore full-fledged executive powers to the executive presidency while diminishing the powers of the Prime Minister and De-valuing Parliament.

It will reverse the progress made by the previous 19th amendment to the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution Passed with a two -third Majority;156 MP’s Vote in Favour while 65 Vote against;8 Renegade Opposition MP’s from SJB, SLMC,ACMC, MNA and TPA vote with Govt; Former President Maithripala Sirisena is Absent at voting time’ »

20th Amendment Giving Sweeping Powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Passed with a Two-thirds Majority Obtained Through the Support of Eight Opposition Parliamentarians

By Chandani Kirinde

The 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill was passed in Parliament last night with 156 MPs voting for the Bill and 65 against.

With support from seven MPs from minorities and main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Assistant Secretary MP Diana Gamage, the Government secured the two-third majority in the 225-member Legislature to pass the constitutional amendment which would strengthen the hand of the Executive and restore the powers that were stripped from the President under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Opposition MPs who supported the Bill were SJB Anuradhapura District MPs Ishak Rahuman and M.S. Thowfeek, National List MP Diana Gamage, Digamadulla MPs H.M.M. Harees and Faizal Cassim, Badulla District MP A. Aravindh Kumar, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Batticaloa District MP Naseer Ahamad and Muslim National Alliance (MNA) Puttalam District MP Ali Sabri Raheem.

Gamage said she voted as per her consciences.

Continue reading ‘20th Amendment Giving Sweeping Powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Passed with a Two-thirds Majority Obtained Through the Support of Eight Opposition Parliamentarians’ »

We the people may well ask, what is the guiding principle of this new constitution making process, and what does it seek to achieve?

By

Sakuntala Kadirgamar

(The writer is the Executive Director at Law and Society Trust.)

The Ministry of Justice issued an invitation to the public to submit proposals for consideration by an expert committee established to draft a new constitution to replace the Second Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka.

The public is requested to submit proposals by 30 November 2020, and they are requested to be brief. The sub-text from the Ministry of Justice is: This is a technical document. Pleases do not express your dreams, your hopes and your fears about the direction of the country or the role of the constitution in directing the country. This is not about expressing the ‘soul of the nation’ as the South African Constitution was described.

Eleven broad themes are outlined: Nature of the State; fundamental rights; language; directive principles of State policy; the Executive (President/Cabinet of Ministers/The Public Service); the Legislature; franchise and elections including referenda; decentralisation, devolution of power and power sharing; the Judiciary; public finance; and public security and any other area of interest not specifically mentioned above. Perhaps the independent constitutional commissions that are not included within these 11 themes can be accommodated under ‘any other areas of interest’. It is not clear at this stage if the ‘areas of interest’ should be of interest to the State or to the citizen.

Continue reading ‘We the people may well ask, what is the guiding principle of this new constitution making process, and what does it seek to achieve?’ »

20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority following a two-day debate.

By

Meera Srinivasan

The controversial 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority, following a two-day debate.

The 20th Amendment was the Rajapaksa administration’s first big test in the legislature, since it triggered concern and resistance from not just the political opposition, but also the influential Buddhist clergy that Sri Lanka’s southern polity venerates.

As many as 156 MPs in the 225-member House voted for it, while 65 legislators voted against the Bill.

Continue reading ‘20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority following a two-day debate.’ »

Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65 with the required two-thirds majority;20A abolishes the independent Constitutional Council and enhances the President’s executive powers in an unprecedented way.

The Sri Lankan parliament on Thursday passed the controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65, eight votes more than necessary to pass it with the required two-thirds majority.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had 148 MPs out of the total, current, House membership of 223. One ruling party member, former President Maihripala Sirisena, had excused himself, bringing down the alliance’s strength to 148 from 149 (without including the Speaker).

The parliament’s sanctioned strength is 225 including the Speaker. But there are two vacant seats, those of the UNP & OPPP (RathanaThero and Gnanasara Thero’s party). These two parties had not named their National List MPs. Therefore, with Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, the total strength of parliament, currently, is 223 MPs.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65 with the required two-thirds majority;20A abolishes the independent Constitutional Council and enhances the President’s executive powers in an unprecedented way.’ »

Sri Lanka has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today.


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Call it the COVID-19 Constitution or the Corona Constitution—because it is advancing under cover of corona. The public has been given a deadline of 30 November to send in suggestions for the new Constitution. Seriously? The public is hardly in a state of mind to reflect on such issues.

The draft of the new Constitution will be presented in six months according to Prof. G.L. Peiris. That’s a time Sri Lanka will still be battling COVID-19 or struggling with the economic crisis or both, and the whole system should be focused on these twin tasks.

The timing is telling and what it tells is intentionality. The environment of the pandemic and the economic dislocation will be perfect for anyone who wants an ongoing emergency situation to maintain a mentality conducive to rushing through a bespoke-tailored Constitution for a ‘strongman’, with a preoccupied public and mobilisation for a NO vote at a referendum hampered by health regulations.

The drafting committee of the new Constitution consists largely of very able lawyers. However, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and J.R. Jayewardene were not simply lawyers; they were outstanding, world-class intellects, with encyclopaedic political learning and rich, protracted experience.

Replacing a Colvin Constitution with a JR Constitution was no travesty of standards, but demolishing the Jayewardene Constitution because it requires rectification is akin to hiring an ad-hoc group of reputed but hardly iconic architects and builders to destroy Geoffrey Bawa’s Parliament and design a new one.

This must be the only country in the world in which every political party that secures a super-majority in Parliament wants to promulgate a new Constitution and even those who do not win such a majority wish to do so. For a mature democracy we have an oddity of a political class which thinks that each election manifesto should be translated not just into law, which is fine, but into the country’s basic law.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today.’ »

Debate on 20th Constitutional Amendment Gets Underway In Parliament With Most Govt MP’s Speaking in Favour Despite Internal Differences Over Certain Provisions Inclusive of Clause Relating to Dual Citizenship

By Chandani Kirinde

The debate on the 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill got underway in Parliament yesterday with Government MPs speaking in defence of it while Opposition MPs called on fellow lawmakers to defeat the Bill when it is put to a vote today.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MPs led the protest against the Bill last morning arriving in a motorcade from the Opposition Leader’s office at Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo-7 to show their disapproval for the Bill. They wore armbands and masks with the sign ‘No to destructive 20A’ to protest against the amendment in the Parliament Chamber.

Despite signs of disagreement within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to certain provisions in the Bill, most Government MPs spoke in support of the Bill choosing to blame the Opposition for bringing the 19th Amendment (19A) in 2015 to secure the position of then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and turning the system of governance into a mess.

Continue reading ‘Debate on 20th Constitutional Amendment Gets Underway In Parliament With Most Govt MP’s Speaking in Favour Despite Internal Differences Over Certain Provisions Inclusive of Clause Relating to Dual Citizenship’ »

“Defeat the Attempt to hand over the Country’s administration to Dual Citizens against the people’s will “- National Movement for Social Justice Chair Karu Jayasuriya


(Text of a statement by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is the chair of the National Movement for Social Justice)

The attempt to reform the constitution to make it possible for those holding citizenship in other countries to make law and run the administration in Sri Lanka is deplorable. No person who is concerned about the security and well-being of the country can agree with such a decision.

It is a shameful effort to change the supreme law in the country to suit the whims and fancies of one person or a small group of them. Such disgraceful reforms are a disgrace to the intellect of the 21 million population of Sri Lanka.

National Movement for Social Justice holds this view having considered the statement by Minister of Justice, who held that the clause on the dual citizenship in the proposed 20th Amendment will not be amended at all.

Continue reading ‘“Defeat the Attempt to hand over the Country’s administration to Dual Citizens against the people’s will “- National Movement for Social Justice Chair Karu Jayasuriya’ »

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requests in writing the Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen now Being Quarantined in remand custody to attend Parliament today

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, yesterday (21), in writing, requested Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for SJB lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen, now in remand custody, to attend Parliament today (22).

This follows a party leaders’ meeting, chaired by the Speaker.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requests in writing the Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen now Being Quarantined in remand custody to attend Parliament today’ »

Contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet comes up for a two-day debate in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.


By Uditha Jayasinghe and Chandani Kirinde

The highly contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet on Monday comes up for a two-day debate from today onwards in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.

Ahead of the parliamentary debate, Cabinet approved three changes including maintaining the limits of Cabinet and Non-Cabinet Ministers as outlined in the 19th Amendment, limiting the scope of urgent bills and allowing State corporations to be audited by the Auditor General.

Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila told reporters at the weekly Cabinet briefing yesterday that the changes were made following extensive discussions at the Cabinet meeting held on Monday. He noted that the Cabinet also considered several submissions made by the clergy, coalition political parties and other organisations.

Continue reading ‘Contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet comes up for a two-day debate in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.’ »

Rajapaksa Regime’s Frantic Urgency to Pass the 20th Amendment passed While the hapless nation is in the midst of a Pandemic resurgence is deleterious to government’s own health.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

It takes an extra dose of cavalierness to bulldoze through Parliament a Constitutional Amendment intended for personal aggrandizement while the rest of the country is perilously close to a second wave of the novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19.

More so, when the earlier assessments of the reach of the virus appear to be questionable and political rooting of success seem to be premature. Doctors warn of running out of hospital beds, even before any potential mass spread make its dent. (The 13 main hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients, had only 168 available capacity on October 15).

Yet, the government is forging ahead with the controversial 20th Amendment. It will be debated in Parliament for two days starting from tomorrow (21). The Supreme Court determination on the 20A will be read by the Speaker today. Earlier, the Sunday Times reported that the Supreme Court had held four-to-one, that four clauses of the Bill needed the approval of the people at a Referendum, while the rest can be approved by a special majority in Parliament.

The 20A was drafted in secrecy. Government’s spin doctors had argued that the public had elected the Rajapaksas to abolish the 19th Amendment, and implying as if they have the prerogative to replace it with anything of their likening. This is the Sri Lankan version of ‘One man, one vote, one time only.’

The 20A undermines the separation of power within the government and creates an imperial President at the expense of the legislator and independent institutions. It would have repercussion not limited to the tenure of the current administration, but for many generations to come.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Regime’s Frantic Urgency to Pass the 20th Amendment passed While the hapless nation is in the midst of a Pandemic resurgence is deleterious to government’s own health.’ »

Growing Intolerance Within Indian Film Industry, Mob Censorship and the Furore Over Cricket Legend Muralidaran’s Bio-pic “800”.

By P.K.Balachandran

The US$ 2.5 billion Indian film industry, which churns out more than a thousand movies a year and is watched by millions, is now facing an intense political heat it faced only once before, in 1975-77, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a State of Emergency to tackle an uncontrollable opposition agitation.

The industry has been coming under political pressure because of its tremendous reach and ability to shape people’s minds on a large scale. Competing political forces, unleashed by democracy, have targeted films and film makers to suppress inconvenient thoughts, ideas and opinions. They often decide a fate of a film, whether it will be released or not, and whether it’s content (and it’s stars) will remain as intended by the film maker.

As things stand, the film maker has no absolute right to choose the subject he wants and portray it as he wants. Neither can he leave the matter to the audience to judge. The audience too has lost it’s right to see the film it wants. With the State machinery and the judiciary also going by the dictates of these political forces (or mobs), the film maker’s autonomy and his constitutional right of free expression become fictional. Clearly, nobody believes in Abraham Lincoln’s dictum: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

Continue reading ‘Growing Intolerance Within Indian Film Industry, Mob Censorship and the Furore Over Cricket Legend Muralidaran’s Bio-pic “800”.’ »

TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran Submits Draft Private Members Bill to Enable Parliament to Declare a State of Public Emergency and set Up a Public Health Emergency Council


TNA Jaffna District MP M.A Sumanthiran yesterday handed over a Private Member’s Bill to the Secretary General of Parliament to provide for the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency and for the adoption of special measures in the interests of public health.

The draft bill contains a provision allowing Parliament to declare a State of Public Health Emergency through a resolution passed by two-thirds of members’ vote upon the written advice from the Director General of Health Services.

Continue reading ‘TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran Submits Draft Private Members Bill to Enable Parliament to Declare a State of Public Emergency and set Up a Public Health Emergency Council’ »

Drug Trade Kingpin Makandure Madush Shot Dead in Police Custody at Maligawatte Apartment Complex After Being Taken There CCD Offcers to Identify Heroin Haul; Police Say Madush was “Caught in Crossfire” when Gangsters Tried to Free Him.

By Asiri Fernando

Suspected drug baron Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha, alias ‘Makandure Madush’ was shot dead yesterday morning. Madush is the latest in a long list of organised crime related suspects who have been killed while in custody, raising questions about custodial deaths in the country.

His death caused controversy yesterday, as a number of opposition members questioned the Government in Parliament regarding the suspect’s death while in custody of the Police. Former state minister for law enforcement and Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Nalin Bandara questioned as what will become of the investigation in to ‘Madush’s drug trafficking ring’ and the alleged politicians who had given him protection.

Continue reading ‘Drug Trade Kingpin Makandure Madush Shot Dead in Police Custody at Maligawatte Apartment Complex After Being Taken There CCD Offcers to Identify Heroin Haul; Police Say Madush was “Caught in Crossfire” when Gangsters Tried to Free Him.’ »

Makandure Madush was Killed to Prevent the Names of Politicians Involved in Drug Trafficking Being Revealed in Courts by the Underworld Drug Lord Alleges NPP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath

By

Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan PereraContinue reading ‘Makandure Madush was Killed to Prevent the Names of Politicians Involved in Drug Trafficking Being Revealed in Courts by the Underworld Drug Lord Alleges NPP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath’ »

Attorney-General Dappula de Livera Gives Police Detailed Information To Investigate Arrested MP Rishad Bathiudeen on Ten Matters Including Alleged Money Laundering Offences:A-G also wants Police to Probe all those who helped Rishad Evade Arrest and Conducted Press Conferences in Support


By Norman Palihawadane and Hiran Seneviratne

Police yesterday commenced a special operation to arrest those who had been aiding and abetting former minister and SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen to evade arrest, Police Media Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

Bathiudeen was remanded yesterday evening after being arrested in Dehiwala.

DIG Rohana said seven persons including a female doctor in whose house MP Bathiudeen had been hiding had been taken into custody. Her husband, a private tutor, had also been taken into custody, the DIG said.

Among other suspects was a foreign employment agent who had escorted the MP from one hiding place to another, the DIG said. The owner of the house from where the MP was arrested is still missing.

The female doctor and her husband were tenants in the apartment, where Bathiudeen was hiding.

“Some more persons are to be taken into custody,” the police spokesman said.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-General Dappula de Livera Gives Police Detailed Information To Investigate Arrested MP Rishad Bathiudeen on Ten Matters Including Alleged Money Laundering Offences:A-G also wants Police to Probe all those who helped Rishad Evade Arrest and Conducted Press Conferences in Support’ »

Govt to make several changes to the 20th Constitutional Amendment at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions.

By

Lahiru Pothmulla

The Government today reiterated that it would make several changes to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions,

Education Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said the President’s immunity was constricted by the 19th Amendment as it allowed citizens to file FR petitions through the Attorney General against the President.

This clause was proposed to be repealed by the 20A and Minister Peiris said the government would make an amendment allowing the citizens to file FR petitions against the President.

Continue reading ‘Govt to make several changes to the 20th Constitutional Amendment at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions.’ »

Wanni District MP and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen Remanded Until October 27th by Colombo Fort Magistrate; CID also Arrests Seven persons for Allegedly aiding and Abetting “Wanted Person” Bathiudeen to Remain in Hiding

By Asiri Fernando

The Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday remanded former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party (ACMC) Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, until 27 October, following his arrest by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at a residence at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala.

The CID also arrested seven persons for aiding and abetting a wanted person, including a doctor and the owner of the Dehiwala house where the parliamentarian was arrested at. The seven suspects will be produced before Fort Magistrate, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohan said at a press conference yesterday. The police had arrested four suspects in relation to the investigation last week.

Continue reading ‘Wanni District MP and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen Remanded Until October 27th by Colombo Fort Magistrate; CID also Arrests Seven persons for Allegedly aiding and Abetting “Wanted Person” Bathiudeen to Remain in Hiding’ »

All Ceylon Makkal Congress Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Arrested Early Morning by Police at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwela


Former Cabinet Minister and Wanni district MP Rishad Bathiudeen was arrested in Dehiwela by the Police in the early hours of Monday October 19th announced Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana.

According to Police sources the ex-minister who is also the leader of the all Ceylon Makkal Congress(ACMC) was arrested by a special Police team following an alleged tip -off received by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police.

Continue reading ‘All Ceylon Makkal Congress Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Arrested Early Morning by Police at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwela’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Govt is Determined to Ensure Smooth Passage of 20th Constitutional amendment by Parliament and Adopt it a Progressive Piece of Legislation

By

Norman Palihawadana

Expressing confidence of pushing through the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the government is determined to ensure its safe passage.

“Whatever opposition there may be from any quarter, we will duly present the constitutional amendment to Parliament and see to its adoption as a progressive piece of legislation”, the premier told The Sunday Island.

Asked about opposition to the 20A from some members within the government’s own ranks, Rajapaksa replied, “anybody has the complete freedom to express their views freely”.

“We will definitely see to the adoption of the 20A”, he underscored, while adding, “there is no doubt about that”.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Govt is Determined to Ensure Smooth Passage of 20th Constitutional amendment by Parliament and Adopt it a Progressive Piece of Legislation’ »

The ‘maha jathiya’ which triumphantly celebrated the victory of ‘their Sinhala Buddhist torchbearers’ now experience fear and isolation and face hard truths .


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Even as frightened and hapless garment workers slaving in the multitude of factories in the Gampaha District, the epicentre of Sri Lanka’s calamitous covid-19 spread, were herded into trucks and taken like cattle to ill equipped and unsanitary quarantine camps under the impatient watch of the military this week, deeply fundamental ironies are at play.

A stark contrast in fighting covid-19 then and now

Did those unhappy citizens asked themselves as to why this is happening in quite this way to themselves, as members of Sri Lanka’s ‘master race’ or ‘maha jathiya’ as that pernicious Sinhala translation goes? Gampaha was a flag bearer of the massive franchise that propelled the Rajapaksas, siblings, sons, nephews and assorted paltry hangers-on to power in this country in August, just a few months ago. Across these afflicted groups, a common refrain was, ‘we voted them in not to do this.’

Even with many protesting in respect of the treatment meted out to them, hundreds more waited in the scorching sun for their PCR tests. Daily wage earners in the lockdown areas meanwhile wailed that they had no money to buy even meagre supplies of food. In March, this Government and this Presidency controlled the initial spread of the covid-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka with all hands on deck so to speak, in the face of a looming General Election.

But this time around, no media showed obliging images of dry goods supplies being ferried into quarantined areas or eager supplicants praising their benefactors. Instead, intrusive television cameras hunted covid-19 victim much like the leopard fixating on its prey. It was a tragically illustrative case study of ‘before’ and ‘after.’ So as uncharitable as it may be, it is hard to rid oneself of the conclusion that the vigour and vitality with which covid-19 was combated initially had a lot to do with the favourable vote result that the Government was aiming for.

Continue reading ‘The ‘maha jathiya’ which triumphantly celebrated the victory of ‘their Sinhala Buddhist torchbearers’ now experience fear and isolation and face hard truths .’ »

It’s politically significant that the Sangha which were expected to rubber stamp the new political strategies of the Rajapaksa Government having supported them solidly at elections are now not unified in their opinion.

By

Gamini Weerakoon

Religion and politics have been a heady mix with the potential of creating vast empires, great civilisations, magnificent monuments and tinpot-dictators.
The history of empire building is too vast a subject for this columnist to take on and we will begin with the severance of this country from the British Empire with the dawn of Sri Lankan Independence.

British took over the Maritime Provinces from the Dutch in 1802, the entire island in 1815 and departed in 1948 leaving the three communities — the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils and Muslims — eyeing one another suspiciously. Whether it was through duplicity or good intentions, the British left after crafting a constitution — together with our leaders — stipulating that no religion or community could be accorded privileges not granted to other religions or communities.

This law, it was believed, could ensure communal and religious amity in the future.

But all such good intentions went up in flames with the ‘Revolution of 1956’, the reverberations of which are still with us. The 1956 ‘revolution’ was led by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike but he had little control of the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (EBP), the religious nationalist organisation whose leaders assassinated him in less than two years after the ‘revolution’.

Since 1956, religion — Sinhala- Buddhism— appears to be the main force in changes of regimes, either for good or bad — in Sri Lanka and continues to be so.

Continue reading ‘It’s politically significant that the Sangha which were expected to rubber stamp the new political strategies of the Rajapaksa Government having supported them solidly at elections are now not unified in their opinion.’ »

Regrettably the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has followed a policy that encouraged and supported the rulers in some instances when they have violated the Constitution.

By

Victor Ivan

The people are the real owners of sovereignty both in terms of the classical liberal opinion and the domestic and international law. In other words, State power lies with society and the rulers elected by the people are subject to the will and the control of the people. In this context, the 20th Amendment can be considered a constitutional adjustment that undermines and lets down the sovereignty of the people.

Most of the things that the President intends removing from the Constitution through the 20th Amendment can be described as instruments of the sovereignty of the people. A Court decision that gives approval and provides guidance for legislation of such constitutional amendments cannot be considered a correct or sound judgment of the Judiciary.

Judiciary of Sri Lanka

The ugly and unpleasant story of Sri Lanka that we constantly hear now would have been much different from what it is today, if, like in India, Sri Lanka had a Judiciary that considers the defence of the democratic constitution of the country as its primary responsibility.

If it had been so, a significant number of Indian plantation workers who were entitled to citizenship might have received citizenship rights under the Citizenship Ordinances of 1948 and 1949. Similarly, the Official Languages Act of 1956 might have been enacted in such a way that the Tamil people would not be deprived of their right to have reasonable use of their language.

If the Judiciary of Sri Lanka had possessed a far-reaching vision, it would certainly have prevented the deprivation of itself of the power of judicial review on the functioning of the Legislature and the Executive and ensured the independence of Civil Service despite approving the enactment of the 1972 Constitution which primarily aimed at severing the binding obligations of the country to the British crown.

Continue reading ‘Regrettably the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has followed a policy that encouraged and supported the rulers in some instances when they have violated the Constitution.’ »

Amnesty International urges Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charges


Amnesty International in a statement yesterday urged Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charge or any credible evidence being put before a court.

It said a notable Government critic, Hejaaz Hizbullah has been held at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters in Colombo since his arrest on 14 April, with restricted access to his lawyers, family and wife. Under the PTA, the authorities can detain any ‘suspect’ for up to 18 months, using detention orders lasting 90 days at a time. Hejaaz Hizbullah’s second period of detention expires on 17 October.

Continue reading ‘Amnesty International urges Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charges’ »

Would Sarath Weerasekara Have Been Allowed By Gotabaya and Mahinda to Attack Presidents Trump or Xi in the Way The State Minister Openly Attacked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi?


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Remember ‘A Country Free from Corona’? The crucial tourist sector must be hard hit by the second wave, as also the factories and supply chains. We are in a vortex of geographically spattered,

seemingly randomised corona-proliferation. The virus is a faster-spreading, more virulent variety, observed Dr. Sudath Samaraweera and Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara. (A veritable ‘Viyathvirus’?)

Instead of local authorities as the frontline for COVID-19 ‘second wave’ prevention, the regime’s been busy implementing “the Surakimu Sri Lanka security plan, [through which] details regarding family members are being collected throughout the country with the help of Grama Niladharis and Divisional Secretariats, to strengthen national security…” (https://ceylontoday.lk/news/security-strengthened-under-surakimu-sri-lanka).

I doubt Parliament deliberated on this quasi-totalitarian intrusiveness, but the erection of a Surveillance State had greater priority in early October than GMOA-recommended levels of testing adequate to pre-empt a second wave of the pandemic.

Why isn’t Dr. Ramesh Pathirana either the Minister of Health or the head of the anti-Corona Task Force? Why is Sri Lanka’s Army Commander, a very able officer, the only service chief in the world to be seated in a TV studio being interviewed on COVID-19 suppression—and wearing his new (PLA-pattern) service uniform too?

If the regime had been governed by rationality and the scientific outlook, there would have been scenario-planning with worst-case scenarios gamed-through, a comparative study of the top performers globally and of best practices, and an anti-Corona Task Force with the top medical bodies as axis. Instead, the Government was been high on its own supply of narcissistic nationalism and a personality cult of omniscient infallibility. The assumption was that the regime’s is axiomatically the finest performance and the most excellent global practice. The JVP’s public offer of help, with its disciplined volunteer health-workers, was ignored.

The President’s triumphalist claim to the UNGA, the daily hype by the local FOX News, and the YICAI rating out of Shanghai, gave the system and the public their cue. Given the nationalist echo chamber the regime insists we inhabit—a patriotic version of Plato’s Cave—the corporate sector followed suit. The whole of society were children following the Pied Piper of Hamlin. That a factory manufacturing anti-corona masks was a major disease-vector was an irony symbolic of the ethos.

Today, the citizenry and the economy are more defenceless than they need have been, due to wrong priorities in national decision-making and the mismatch of expertise plus experience on the one hand and authority and responsibility of the other.

In terms of crisis-management, the whole system, and system-society synergy, functioned better and Sri Lanka handled the tsunami catastrophe better under President CBK, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (the main ‘driver’ of the effort who also inducted the JVP with its volunteers) and Foreign Minister Kadirgamar.


Rationality and economics

What if Barack Obama focused on constitutional issues instead of managing the economic crisis of 2008? What if Mahathir Mohammed had done the same in 1997 during the Asian economic crisis? What if Franklin D. Roosevelt drove a sweeping constitutional re-set instead of the New Deal during the Great Depression?

Going by the World Bank and JPMorgan, Sri Lanka is headed into an unprecedentedly severe economic contraction. High on the government’s agenda though is the making of a new Constitution, just as its priority after the Parliamentary Election was the 20th Amendment, rather than pre-empting a COVID-19 resurgence.

The Executive Presidency was introduced by J.R. Jayewardene as engine of an economic revolution—the Open Economy. Today it is being fixed onto the economic model that JR Jayewardene overturned. The present administration is combining the worst elements of two predecessors while tossing out the positive aspects and adding a new negative.

The closed economic policy of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike administration, minus the superbly equidistant India-China balancing, is fused with the hypertrophied presidency of the Jayewardene era, minus the Open Economy. The innovative negative ‘add-on’ is administrative militarisation—which didn’t exactly turbocharge the Health Ministry’s corona-prevention effort.

Economic recovery and take-off presuppose economic rationality—which is a scarce commodity today. The regime’s economic philosophy is a reversion to an archaic, failed strategy of import-substitution industrialisation (ISI). Local purchasing power is too low, and in decline. The domestic market can in no way be a compensatory source of demand. Production for export will be hit by the second wave of COVID-19 and the Government’s ban on imports which dries up inputs.

When the world economy registers that we have imposed an extensive import ban, our external markets may start shrinking because the world economy and the global market don’t encourage one-way streets.

If as the JPMorgan report suggests, Sri Lanka will have to turn to the IMF for macro-economic stabilisation—never a happy prospect—by end-2021. It is unlikely to countenance an economic regime of the banning of imports. The IMF apart, international lending agencies are not in the habit of subsidising the outmoded doctrine of import-substitution. Over-reliance on China only paints a target on the regime’s back. The formula of ‘strongman’ leadership as the key to economic takeoff, comes up against the social sensitivities of Western markets. The more autocratically and ethnocentrically the regime behaves locally, the uglier its image becomes globally, and the more vulnerable we become to fall-off of consumer demand in the West and tourists from the West.

As we know from the 1980s, mismanaging our external and ethnic relations have always impacted disastrously on our economic prospects even when an administration has started out with an 8% growth rate. The incumbent administration is engaged in just such mismanagement of the external and the ethnic dimensions when the economy is doing badly (Vietnam’s growth-rate is 6.8%).

Confronting the neighbour

The attack was timed with military precision. On 8 October, the day that a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party (and a former Foreign Minister) arrived in Sri Lanka, a State Minister of the Government of Sri Lanka frontally criticised India and Prime Minister Modi in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

The Associated Press (AP) gave the politician a promotion in its rendition of the story, but captured the essence of what happened. The story was captioned ‘Sri Lankan Minister criticises India for power-sharing call’ and kicked-off thus:

“A Sri Lankan Minister said Thursday that India has no moral right to interfere in the country’s internal affairs by insisting on power sharing with minority Tamils because New Delhi failed to fulfil its obligations under a 1987 agreement to disarm separatist rebels and ensure an end to Sri Lanka’s civil war. Provincial Councils Minister Sarath Weerasekara’s comments in Parliament are seen as the island nation’s response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request last month to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for the full implementation of constitutional provisions for power sharing with Tamil minority regions…”

If the timing was a blunder, the PM or Foreign Minister should have clarified in Parliament that the State Minister’s view was his own. The President should have pulled him up. But the next day, 9 October, when the high-level talks with China were underway, the same State Minister followed up his anti-Indian attack with another, at a public event.

Weerasekara is a member of the ruling SLPP, of Viyathmaga and Eliya, and a close confidante of the President. The landmark Viyathmaga second convention at the Shangri-La Hotel in mid-2018 which showcased Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the presidential candidate, opened with the on-screen image, showing Gotabaya Rajapaksa with only one other person in the frame, leaning over the shoulder of the seated GR—and that was Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara (Retd.). He has been handpicked by the President to be in charge of the Provincial Councils, a subject which has stood for 35 years at the political interface of the Indo-Lanka relationship. His 8 October speech in Parliament warrants review.

Firstly, he went head-on for the Prime Minister of a neighbouring country and not just any neighbouring country. India is our closest neighbour and there is a colossal asymmetry of power between our two states. He lashed out at the Indian PM at a time in which there is no polemic between India and Sri Lanka; therefore, it was not in self-defence. Prime Minister Modi only reiterated what he had said many times before, and indeed, stopped short of reminding the regime that its present PM and President (as Secretary/Defence and ‘Troika’ member) had made the same promise to India during wartime.

With disrespectful testiness the State Minister said: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked our Prime Minister to implement the 13th Amendment although the amendment is an internal affair of this country. When foreign governments adversely commented on India’s abrogation of Article 370 from its Constitution, accusing India of scrapping the special status given to people in troubled Jammu and Kashmir region there, our prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa when asked to comment said that it was an internal matter of India. Knowing that the 13th Amendment is an internal matter of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Modi is asking for its implementation does not show the same reciprocation. Some interpret that PM Modi is asking so on the mandate of Indo-Lanka Accord. But the question is whether India has adhered to its own commitments specified in the Indo-Lanka Accord. The 13A is not even mentioned in the Accord. The Accord is something forced down on us by India.” (https://island.lk/pc-minister-weerasekera-opposes-full-implementation-of-13-a/).

Secondly, Weerasekara articulated the position that India has no right to request the implementation of the 13th Amendment.

“It should also be asked whether the agreement was signed under duress, or whether contents of the agreement compromised Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. When our forces were about to crush the LTTE and capture LTTE Leader Prabhakaran at Vadamarachchi, India violated our airspace and dropped food and medicine in Jaffna famously known as dhal dropping operation of India. Also, it mentions Trincomalee Harbor and Oil Tank Farm. The Sri Lankan courts have nullified the merger of the northern and eastern provinces which was one of the clauses of the Accord. So, there is a serious concern about the validity of the agreement and if it is not valid, India has no moral right to interfere in our internal affairs.” (Ibid)

Thirdly, he engages in a surreal judgment of Nehru and a grotesque denunciation of one of the most rational and socially progressive South Indian, Indian and perhaps even South Asian political figures—Periyar. He denounces Periyar’s agitation against the oppressive, Brahminic caste system—which the Buddha radically dissented from—as fascistic (“Nazi-style anti-Brahmanism”).

“…Let India be reminded that soon after its Independence there was a separatist movement by the Dravidians. EVR Periyar advocated Nazi style anti Brahmanism. That is why Jawaharlal Nehru broke India into 28 linguistic states…”

Periyar was influenced by his tours of the Soviet Union and was regarded as socialistic, if not Marxist-influenced. It is hardly surprising that Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism and casteism—or one may say, anti-anti-casteism—should go hand in hand.

Except in the imagination of Sri Lanka’s State Minister for Provincial Councils, Nehru did not “break” India “into” anything. India has not been “broken” into 28 states. The Nehruvian model of linguistic states is universally acclaimed as a success in keeping together large concentrations of diverse people, preventing actual break-up over a long period, which many countries have failed to do. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar hosted and addressed an international conference at the BMICH on “The Indian Model of Federalism” because he thought we should adapt (not adopt) it.

Eliminating devolution

Fourthly, Weerasekara made clear that he, who is placed in charge of the Provincial Councils, stood opposed to the Province as the unit of devolution—and so too did the regime. This is reflected in his use of the term “we”. He outlines what must be regarded as the position of the GR regime:

“Here, we talk about devolution of power with the province as the unit with provisions for mergering (sic) two provinces…So, Balkanisation of Sri Lanka into provincial governments through 13A will invariably affect the existing unity of India. The promoter will then become the victim…That is why the experts say power should never be devolved on the basis of ethnicity. The 13th Amendment provides for ethnic enclaves. We know the devolution of power as opposed to decentralisation and result in the division of our nation. …So, we do not believe in the devolution of power but of course in decentralisation up to the lowest levels. The Centre must retain the power. Our culture of governance was centred with the ruling king…” (Ibid)

On 9 October, with the high-level Chinese delegation meeting the President and the PM, Weerasekara criticised Prime Minister Modi at a televised public event, and made the utterly significant declaration that “devolution means the sharing of power. We must eliminate the term from our political vocabulary”.

Rejectionism’s blinkers

The State Minister for Provincial Councils reveals that the regime categorically rejects (a) the very idea of a negotiated political solution to the Tamil Question based on cross-district/provincial semi-autonomy, dating back to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact of 1957 and (b) the outcome and premises of Indian diplomatic engagement with Sri Lanka over the Tamil question for almost four decades. The ‘double rejectionism’ is total.

State Minister Weerasekara speaks in the plural, uses the terms “we” and “our”, both in and out of Parliament. Would this or any other State Minister attack President Trump or President Xi in the manner that Weerasekara attacked Prime Minister Modi and India? Would the President and PM have let him? Would the US or Chinese Embassy have remained totally silent?

Absent any disclaimer, one assumes Weerasekara has a greenlight to articulate the paradigmatic perspective of the Gotabaya presidency. The perspective has a huge strategic blind-spot:

I. Sri Lanka is no longer simply on the doorstep of the regional sub-superpower; it is now located on the doorstep of a member of ‘The Quad’, a quasi-military strategic alliance covering the Indo-Pacific vastness, with implications for the global balance.

II. Delhi may not run the risk of sowing the seeds of long-run disaffection in its strategically vital Southern cone, Tamil Nadu, by being perceived as abandoning the Sri Lankan Tamils to their fate at the hands of hawkish Sinhala supremacism.

III. Delhi may not risk being perceived by friends and rivals alike, as permitting the unilateral redefinition of the content of a bilateral accord by a neighbouring small state whose power-elite has turned it into a dependency/political stronghold of China.

IV. Delhi is hardly likely to risk being perceived not only in its traditional sphere of influence the neighbourhood, but also among its Quad partners, the larger Indo-Pacific region, and most especially in Beijing, as a ‘Paper Tiger’.

V. Colombo’s imaginary Godfather in the 1980s, President Reagan—and in the current regime’s imagination, probably President Xi—sent his special envoy Gen. Vernon Walters with a message for President Jayewardene: “settle it with India”. No rising Great Power can enable Colombo to bypass or ignore axiomatic geostrategic reality.

Courtesy:Daily FT

Ex-Cabinet Minister and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s Lawyers File Writ in Court Of Appeal Seeking Prevention of his Arrest by Police

Lawyers of MP Rishad Bathiudeen has filed a writ application at the Court of Appeal seeking an order to prevent his arrest.

The Attorney General had directed the Police to arrest and produce him in court for Criminal Misappropriation of Public Funds and Violation of Election Laws in 2019.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Cabinet Minister and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s Lawyers File Writ in Court Of Appeal Seeking Prevention of his Arrest by Police’ »

Six Teams Deployed by Police To Arrest Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen Unable to Locate Him:CID Obtains Travel Ban Against ACMC Leader: Wanni District MP’s Accountant, Ex-Body Guard and Two Drivers Arrested:Two Vehicles Seized.


By Asiri Fernando

The Fort Magistrate yesterday issued a travel ban on former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, following a request made by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

According to Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, the Police have deployed six teams to track down Rishad Bathiudeen and had visited three properties belonging to the former Minister in Colombo and Mannar but had failed to locate him as of last evening.

Continue reading ‘Six Teams Deployed by Police To Arrest Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen Unable to Locate Him:CID Obtains Travel Ban Against ACMC Leader: Wanni District MP’s Accountant, Ex-Body Guard and Two Drivers Arrested:Two Vehicles Seized.’ »

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne MP states that the attempts by the Govt to arrest Rishad Bathiudeen and his bother are politically motivated.


Samagi Jana Balawegaya Kalutara District MP Rajitha Senaratne yesterday charged that the attempts to arrest Rishad Bathiudeen and his bother are politically motivated.

“We can clearly see what’s going on here. Riyaj Bathiudeen was released, and the 100 Government MPs filed a petition about it. He was released after an investigation. Has even one of those MPs read the investigation reports?” the former Health Minister questioned.

Continue reading ‘Dr. Rajitha Senaratne MP states that the attempts by the Govt to arrest Rishad Bathiudeen and his bother are politically motivated.’ »

SLPP Colombo District MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Writes 9 Page Letter To Gotabaya Rajapaksa Highlighting ten Key Concerns as No One was Allowed to Speak on the 20th Amendment at the Oct 9 Meeting Convened by the President; MP Alleges China has taken over Sri Lanka’s assets due to the debt crisis.


Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Colombo district MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has submitted a 09-page letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with regard to his concerns on the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

In this letter MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has written regarding the 20th Amendment, he has stated that he wrote his concerns as no one was allowed to speak about the 20th Amendment in the meeting convened by the President on the 09th of October.

Continue reading ‘SLPP Colombo District MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Writes 9 Page Letter To Gotabaya Rajapaksa Highlighting ten Key Concerns as No One was Allowed to Speak on the 20th Amendment at the Oct 9 Meeting Convened by the President; MP Alleges China has taken over Sri Lanka’s assets due to the debt crisis.’ »

Attorney -General Dappula de Livera Orders Police to Arrest Former Cabinet Minister and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen for Allegedly transporting Internally displaced persons in 222 Ceylon Transport Board buses from Puttalam to Mannar to cast their votes during elections.


Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera today issued orders to obtain a warrant from court to arrest MP Rishad Bathiudeen.

Coordinating Secretary to the AG State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D. Wickramaratne was directed to obtain the warrant.

MP Rishad Bathuideen is to be arrested on charges of Criminal Misappropriation of Public Funds and Violation of Election Laws during the 2019 Presidential Election.

Continue reading ‘Attorney -General Dappula de Livera Orders Police to Arrest Former Cabinet Minister and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen for Allegedly transporting Internally displaced persons in 222 Ceylon Transport Board buses from Puttalam to Mannar to cast their votes during elections.’ »

China’s Xi Jinping’s Stated Goal is to create “a reinvigorated Communist Party, backed by a strong economy and a powerful, modern military taking an even more central role in the affairs of the nation and a more confident role on the world stage.”


By Col R Hariharan

Have China’s efforts to regain its loss of credibility in the wake of its clumsy handling of the information on the Covid-19 virus outbreak from Wuhan in December 31, 2019 (actually according to the medical journal Lancet, it was first noticed on December 1, 2019), failed?

It would seem so as the latest Pew Research Center report released on October 6 indicates that negative perceptions on China have risen sharply in many countries.

The results of the survey of 14,276 people conducted in 14 countries showed that a majority of the people had an unfavourable view of China. The negative views scored 81 percent in Australia, 74 percent in the UK, 71 percent in Germany and 73 percent in the US. That whopping 78 percent of the people say that they don’t trust President Xi Jinping should be of concern to the leader out to create a new world order and realise his Chinese dream.

If the survey had included India, probably the results would have been even more damaging for China, after the PLA’s unfinished adventurism in Ladakh.

Continue reading ‘China’s Xi Jinping’s Stated Goal is to create “a reinvigorated Communist Party, backed by a strong economy and a powerful, modern military taking an even more central role in the affairs of the nation and a more confident role on the world stage.”’ »

Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka Issues Statement saying The 20th Amendment should not be proceeded with in its entirety and instead a new Constitution should be the national priority at this moment.

The 20th Amendment should not be proceeded with in its entirety and instead a new Constitution should be the national priority at this moment, the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) said today.

The statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference is as follows:

In the wake of the change of government following the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka is constrained to share its grave concern to protect the sacredness of the state that transcends the mutable political and governing bodies.

The 1978 constitution changed primarily the Westminster type cabinet democracy to an executive presidency. Since then the 19th Amendment has been made citing various reasons. However, one cannot deny that the main reasons have been to ensure economic growth, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the island nation.

Apparently the projected 20th Amendment under consideration does not seem to put forward any other rationale for this move.

Continue reading ‘Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka Issues Statement saying The 20th Amendment should not be proceeded with in its entirety and instead a new Constitution should be the national priority at this moment.’ »

Amarapura and Ramanna Maha Nikayas Jointly appeal to Gov to withdraw the 20th Amendment to the Constitution: President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Asked not to go ahead with enactment; all MPs asked to reject the bill.


By Chandani Kirinde

The Amarapura and the Ramanna Maha Nikayas yesterday made a joint appeal to the Government to withdraw the 20th Amendment to the Constitution warning that its enactment would seriously undermine democracy in the country and pave the way for authoritarianism and despotism.

The Secretaries of the two Nikayas, in a joint statement, called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa not to go ahead with the enactment of the Bill, and also urged all Members of Parliament (MPs) to reject it.

“This Constitutional amendment is regressive and paves the way for an undeveloped tribal society that will seriously impede progressive characteristics of human society such as freedom of thought and action,” said Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Sanga Sabha Venerable Maha Lekhakadhikari Dr. Pallekande Rathanasara Thera.

Continue reading ‘Amarapura and Ramanna Maha Nikayas Jointly appeal to Gov to withdraw the 20th Amendment to the Constitution: President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Asked not to go ahead with enactment; all MPs asked to reject the bill.’ »

Ex-Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyaj Writes Letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Stating he is Innocent With Regard to Terrorism Charges and That CID Released Him Because Police Had No Evidence of his Alleged Terrorism Involvement

In a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother Riyaj Bathiudeen, said his release by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was due to the CID being satisfied there was no evidence to warrant continued detention, and in accordance with a ruling issued by a Colombo Fort Magistrate.

The letter, which was issued to media by Riyaj Bathiudeen, said he was arrested on 14 April by the CID at his residence in Puttalam on the allegation that he had engaged in telephone conversations with Inshaf Ahamed.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyaj Writes Letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Stating he is Innocent With Regard to Terrorism Charges and That CID Released Him Because Police Had No Evidence of his Alleged Terrorism Involvement’ »

Amarapura and Ramanna Buddhist Nikayas Express Opposition to Proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment to Safeguard Democracy and Protect Sovereignty of People and Rule of Law; efforts Underway to get Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters also to support Common Stance


A section of Sri Lanka’s powerful Buddhist clergy is opposing a Constitutional Amendment proposed by the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa which would have given him sweeping powers over Parliament and the Judiciary.

Two leading prelates representing two orders (Chapters) of monks told reporters that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution would “deal a death blow” to democracy in Sri Lanka.

Ven Prof Pallekande Rathanasara Thero Chief Registrar of the Amarapura Sect and Ven Aththangane Sasana Rathana Thero Chief Registrar of the Ramanna order told reporters in Colombo this afternoon that the proposed amendment will not have a balance of power between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.

The statement did not include the most powerful and influential of the Chapters of Monks, the Siam Nikaya. However, Rathanasara Thero said that their intention was to get all three traditions of Monks on board

Continue reading ‘Amarapura and Ramanna Buddhist Nikayas Express Opposition to Proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment to Safeguard Democracy and Protect Sovereignty of People and Rule of Law; efforts Underway to get Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters also to support Common Stance’ »

Referendum is the Key : Five Eminent Judges Will Determine The Democratic Destiny Of Sri Lanka.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.”
“Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.”

– James Russell Lowell

The coming week will see Five eminent Judges of Sri Lanka Go down in history following an anxiously awaited ruling by the Supreme Court on or before October 13th 2020. The five Judge bench is headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya. The other four are the senior – most Supreme court judges namely Buvaneka Aluwihare, Sisira de Abrew,Priyantha Jayawardana and Viith Malalgoda.

As is well-known the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) led Govt of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has gazetted the draft bill of the envisaged twentieth amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. The draft in its present form seeks to disempower the Sri Lankan legislature, circumscribe the Judiciary and strengthen the executive to a very great extent. It is widely feared that if and when the 20th amendment comes into force ,the executive presidency would have the potential to evolve into a Constitutional dictatorship.

There is much concern over this among the people. Thiry-nine fundamental right petitions challenging the proposed 20th amendment have been filed. A record number. The petitioners are mainly from political parties and civil society organizations. They seek recourse from the Apex court in what may very well be a last ditch effort to thwart the attempt to institutionalise authoritarianism through Constitutional means. It is also noteworthy that this may be the last occasion where Sri Lankan citizens could mount legal challenges against proposed Constitutional changes in this manner. The 20th Amendment if passed in its present form will disallow it in the future.

The Courts have given a patient hearing to all submissions made by counsels on behalf of the various petitioners. Since there was a record number of petitions and the Courts were required by law to make a ruling within a specific time-frame time limits for the oral submissions had to be imposed. All submissions ended on October 3rd. The Court will deliver a ruling on or before October 13th to the Speaker of Parliament..

Continue reading ‘Referendum is the Key : Five Eminent Judges Will Determine The Democratic Destiny Of Sri Lanka.’ »

Four out of Five Supreme Court Judges Rule In Determination That Four Clauses In 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Require Approval of the People in a Referendum Along with a Two-Thirds Majority In Parliament to Become Law

In handing down its determination on the 20th Amendment Bill, the Supreme Court has ruled that four clauses need a referendum of the People along with a two-thirds majority in Parliament while the rest can be passed by a two-thirds majority of Parliament alone, according to a copy of the Court’s opinion that was available with senior government officials yesterday.

The four clauses that four out of five judges held require a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament are the 20th Amendment Bill’s restoration of Presidential immunity to the extent of preventing fundamental rights challenges by citizens, repealing the President’s duty to create the conditions for the holding of free and fair elections as requested by the Election Commission, the dissolution of Parliament within one year and removal of the constitutional duty on public officers to obey directives of the Election Commission with failure to do being an offence (Clause 22)

Continue reading ‘Four out of Five Supreme Court Judges Rule In Determination That Four Clauses In 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Require Approval of the People in a Referendum Along with a Two-Thirds Majority In Parliament to Become Law’ »

“Rule of Law does not tolerate non-justiciability. There is no rational or logical nexus between the non-justiciability of the President’s acts and the efficient performance of his duties” Says the Supreme Court


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

With the Supreme Court’s Determination on the 20th Amendment Bill being made available in the public domain, some aspects of the ruling warrant immediate attention. The 20th Amendment Bill had been challenged by thirty eight petitioners alleging inconsistency of its clauses with the People’s sovereign legislative and judicial powers.

The Bill was argued to require approval not only by a two-thirds majority in Parliament but also by the People at a Referendum. A Divisional Bench headed by the Chief Justice with four other judges heard the arguments along with submissions by eleven intervenient petitioners largely in support of the Bill

\Four clauses ruled as needing a Referendum

A more critically analytical appraisal must await the formal release of the Determination. But it may be opportune to look at the Court’s reasoning in regard to an aspect which has received close judicial attention and which consequently, is perhaps the most interesting thereto. This relates to Clause 5 of the 20th Amendment Bill which had, inter alia, sought restore presidential immunity to its original formulation in Article 35 of the 1978 Constitution. It did so in two ways.

First, by deleting the constitutional change brought to Article 35 by the 19th Amendment in allowing citizens to file citizens to file fundamental rights challenges to Presidential acts through citation of the Attorney General.

Second, by restoring the full power of the Executive Presidency as contemplated in the 1978 Constitution, the 20th Amendment Bill also brought back the ability to cite the Attorney General in proceedings relating to the exercise of any power pertaining to any subject or function assigned to the President or remaining in his charge under Article 44(2).

The Court looked at the second change as beneficial.

Continue reading ‘“Rule of Law does not tolerate non-justiciability. There is no rational or logical nexus between the non-justiciability of the President’s acts and the efficient performance of his duties” Says the Supreme Court’ »

How CP de Silva Voted Against the “Unadulterated Totalitarianism” of His Own SLFP-led Government.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Charles Percival de Silva known as CP de Silva or CP was a mercurial personality who strode across the Sri Lankan -known then as Ceylon- political scene like a colossus. He passed away on October 9th 1972. CP de Silva was a former Civil servant and cabinet minister who was worshipped by thousands of farmers as a living Deity for the services he rendeted in the sectors of land settlement, irrigation and agriculture. CP’s crowning achievement however was in voting against his own party led Govt and bringing it down. His was a principled act necessitated by the ideal of resisting what he perceived as being the SLFP Govt’s “unadulterated totalitarianism” at that time. The contours of the CP de Silva saga is a fascinating tale worthy of being related on the occasion of his impending death anniversary on Oct 9.

C.P.de.Silva and Mrs. Bandaranaike

The world’s first woman Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike took office after polls in 1960 July. Her party the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) had won 75 seats in a Parliament of 157 comprising 151 elected and 6 appointed MP’s. She formed a viable government with the six appointed MPs and the support of a few maverick independents. She herself was not an MP but became a senator in the upper House. As the years progressed the slender SLFP majority in Parliament became quite fragile.

Continue reading ‘How CP de Silva Voted Against the “Unadulterated Totalitarianism” of His Own SLFP-led Government.’ »

SP Balasubrahmanyam brought together the musical traits he relished in Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, T.M. Soundararajan (TMS) and P.B. Sreenivas (PBS) — but made them his own.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Every now and then, my playlist reminds me of ‘Humne Toh Dil Ko Aapke Qadmon Pe Rakh Diya’, among my favourite Mohammed Rafi-Asha Bhosle duets. I don’t know enough Hindi to fully understand the lyrics, and I need Google to tell me it’s from a 1965 film called Mere Sanam, and that it was composed by O.P. Nayyar, whose name I first heard on TVS Saregama hosted by the mild-mannered Sonu Nigam in the 90s.

pic via:facebook.com/SPB

Incidentally, of all the video clips that have inundated social media after singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam passed away last fortnight, it is one from a Nigam show that I have been going back to. On the show, speaking of why “Rafi saab” was the singer who had the “maximum influence” on him, SPB goes on to recall his student days when he would cycle to engineering college at 7.30 a.m. every day, and listen to one particular Rafi song and invariably tear up.

He then breaks into ‘Deewana hua baadal, saawan ki ghataa chaayee, ye dekh ke dil jhooma’ (from Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964). “That ‘ma’ [in jhooma]… can you imagine anybody else singing it with that sort of beautiful expression?” he says. “The man is coming into your ears, caressing, singing with a smile. How can you not fall in love?!”

Continue reading ‘SP Balasubrahmanyam brought together the musical traits he relished in Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, T.M. Soundararajan (TMS) and P.B. Sreenivas (PBS) — but made them his own.’ »

Murder Most Foul: Assassination of Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sixty-one years ago on September 25th 1959 Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (SWRDB) the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka known as Ceylon then was shot and seriously wounded by a Buddhist monk. Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike succumbed to his injuries and passed away the following day. Therefore September 26th 1959 got etched as an important date in the post-independence history annals of Sri Lanka.

The impact of that single assassination was tremendous at that time. The murder of a prime minister was sensationally shocking news. It was the first major political assassination experienced by the Island nation in the post-Independence era. In later years, political assassinations became a regular feature in Sri Lanka.. The death was an event of great historical importance too as it was the first ever assassination of a major political personality in the Island nation at that time. Thereafter September 26, 1959 got etched as an important date in the post-independence annals of Sri Lanka. It is against this backdrop that this column delves into what happened six decades ago relying to a very great extent on earlier writings in this regard.
Continue reading ‘Murder Most Foul: Assassination of Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike’ »

Sivaji Ganesan: Tamil cinema’s versatile actor par excellence

By

D.B.S. Jeyaraj


( The great Tamil film actor Sivaji Ganesan was born on October 1st 1928. This article written in 2014 is re-posted here without any changes to commemorate the “Nadighar Thilagham”s Birth anniversary)

The first Tamil film which impacted on me greatly during childhood was ‘Veera Pandiya Kattabomman’. It was a kind of bio-picture about a ‘Paalayakkaaran’ or Polygar (feudal chieftain) who defied the British during the last decade of the 18th Century and paid the supreme penalty. Kattabomman whose full name was Veera Pandiya Kattabomma Karuthaiyya Nayakkar governed an area known as Paanchaalankurichi which is in the Thoothukkudi District of Tamil Nadu state in India.

Sivaji

Sivaji Ganesan (1 October 1928-21 July 2001) in “Veera Pandiya Kattabomman”

I was five years old when I first saw the film with my parents at Elphinstone Theatre. The upper portions of the theatre were encased in hardboard, resembling the structure of a fortress. There were two cut-outs on either side of two men with upraised swords on horses. In the middle was another cut-out of a man literally taking a bull by its horns. The two horsemen were Kattabomman played by the actor Sivaji Ganesan and his brother Kumaraswamy alias Ommaithurai played by OAK Devar. The man taming the bull was Vellaiyhathevan, the commander of Kattabomman’s forces. The actor was Gemini Ganesan.
Continue reading ‘Sivaji Ganesan: Tamil cinema’s versatile actor par excellence’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa states that the government has not entered into any political deal with Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen and that ensuring national security was the first and foremost responsibility of his government.


President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said today that the government has not entered into any political deal with Parliamentarian Rishad Badurdeen.

He said in a message posted in his Facebook that ensuring national security was the first and foremost responsibility of his government.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa states that the government has not entered into any political deal with Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen and that ensuring national security was the first and foremost responsibility of his government.’ »

“Riyaj Bathiudeen provided a satisfactory explanation to the Police.As a result, Bathiudeen was released Because the CID could not find any evidence to file a case against him.” Explains Police Spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratne

BY MANJULA FERNANDO AND MANESHKA BORHAM

Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday sought a clarification from the officials on what grounds the brother of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who was arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was released suddenly.

Riyaj Bathiudeen was arrested five months ago by a special team of the Criminal Investigations Department officials investigating the series of coordinated terror attacks in April last year where over 250 died while attending the Easter Sunday Holy Mass.

The charges against him were having direct contact with one of the Easter Sunday bombers and being a beneficiary of their funding. The police earlier said a day prior to April 21, Riyaj Bathiudeen had met one of the suicide bombers at a reputed hotel.

Continue reading ‘“Riyaj Bathiudeen provided a satisfactory explanation to the Police.As a result, Bathiudeen was released Because the CID could not find any evidence to file a case against him.” Explains Police Spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratne’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Expresses “Complete Refusal to Accept” the release of Ex- Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyad by the CID After Detaining Him for 5 Months Over the Easter Bomb Attacks; Move “Smacks of a Political Deal” Alleges Catholic Prelate


The Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday questioned as to how the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had released suspects it had earlier claimed were directly linked to the masterminds of the Easter Sunday terror attacks without subjecting them to judicial process.

Addressing a news conference at the Archbishop’s House, Cardinal Ranjith expressed his “sorrow, sadness and complete refusal to accept” the conduct of the CID regarding the investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks.

His comments followed the CID this week releasing Riyad Bathiudeen, brother of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, after five months in custody. At the time of his arrest on April 14, the police had claimed Mr. Bathiudeen had direct links to the plotters.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Expresses “Complete Refusal to Accept” the release of Ex- Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyad by the CID After Detaining Him for 5 Months Over the Easter Bomb Attacks; Move “Smacks of a Political Deal” Alleges Catholic Prelate’ »

Govt allows “MT New Diamond”the oil tanker that caught fire off the eastern coast last month to leave the country against the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) directives and the Attorney General’s advice.

By Tharushi Weerasinghe

The Government has allowed the ill-fated oil tanker that caught fire off the eastern coast last month to leave the country against the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) directives and the Attorney General’s advice.

“The ill-fated crude oil tanker, the MT New Diamond, is being towed away from Sri Lanka against MEPA directives and the Attorney General’s advice regarding the pending marine pollution claim, the AG’s Coordinating Officer Nishara Jayaratne said yesterday.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told the Sunday Times the vessel was allowed to be towed after an assurance that it would pay all dues to Sri Lanka. “The Singaporean salvage company was granted permission to begin towing on Friday night after last minute negotiations between stakeholders and the MEPA on Friday,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Govt allows “MT New Diamond”the oil tanker that caught fire off the eastern coast last month to leave the country against the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) directives and the Attorney General’s advice.’ »

Constitutional comedy while People are going nuts over rising coconut prices and monkeys are playing pucks in politics


By Gamini Weerakoon


(Gamini Weerakoon is a former editor of The Sunday Island, The Island and consultant editor of the Sunday Leader)

‘So, so, what’s happening’, is the inevitable question Sri Lankan journalists have been confronted with over the years. And it continues still.

This is amazing considering the fact that politics is the sole interest of the majority of the populace. They watch the three daily newscasts of the main TV channels, listen to radio bulletins and in moments of leisure pull out their ‘smart phones’ and keep watching news flashes. And yet they do not seem to know: ‘What’s happening’. Why?

Do they not believe in the news that says everything is hunky dory in Paradise Isle as their news bulletins say and most newspapers say or that there is something hanky-panky about letting the people know?

Continue reading ‘Constitutional comedy while People are going nuts over rising coconut prices and monkeys are playing pucks in politics’ »

20th Amendment Draft was a clumsy copy-paste job of the discredited 18th Amendment that has mow been chopped further by the Attorney General called upon to defend a bad brief


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

In a chance conversation off a bylane in Polhena, Matara last Friday, a fresh faced resident with rosily chubby cheeks belying her probably 70-odd years had an astringent question for me; ‘if the President says there is no need for circulars and his word is enough for a public official (‘aanduwe niladhari’) to act on, failing which he or she will be punished, what will that official do if someone goes to court against that?’

I could only quip; ‘well, the President may very well tell the court also that his word is enough.’

The history that the ‘Sun King’ teaches us

But her query raises a serious point in law over and above all the (justifiable) howls of outrage that accompanied this stern directive by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Haldumulla, Badulla that all his verbal orders must be treated as circulars or consequences will ensue. Notwithstanding those who may applaud this position based on their (also justifiable) criticism of a public service seen as inefficient at best and corrupt at worst, statements such as these will cripple the emasculated remainder of Sri Lanka’s administrative service.

From a firmly logical standpoint, my interlocutor put the matter very well with that question. Indeed, the issue is not merely with what the President may verbally order. As it is practically quite impossible for one individual to be directly communicating with his loyal subjects forming the voter base which electorally genuflected en masse for the Rajapaksas and who may very well be willing to do what he orders, the problem arises also with those who communicate what they will undoubtedly say, is the President’s orders. The nightmarish scenario that this conjures up is immediate.

From chaos of a particular kind that we have habitually experienced as the citizenry in this country, the potential for anarchy to ensue as a result of such statements emanating from the President is not hard to imagine.

Continue reading ‘20th Amendment Draft was a clumsy copy-paste job of the discredited 18th Amendment that has mow been chopped further by the Attorney General called upon to defend a bad brief’ »

Modi – Rajapaksa summit was an exercise in building better understanding between the two leaders when their countries are going through troubled times by focusing on “do-ables” and deferring the gritty issues to be taken up as and when they come.

By

Col R Hariharan

The month of September 2020 was a crucial one for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has been impatiently waiting to gain two-thirds majority support in the parliament in the parliamentary poll, to go ahead with his agenda. Gaining it with the reaffirmation of Sinhala majority has given him confidence to handle the nation, facing unprecedented economic woes due to global Covid pandemic.

In what appeared to be a hasty move, the government presented the 20th Amendment (20A) to the constitution bill to replace the 19th Amendment (19A) brought by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, to make the president more accountable to parliament and clipped some of his powers in key appointments of governance.

This move provided a bone to pick for the opposition, demoralised after their dismal performance in the parliamentary election. There were chaotic scenes when the bill was introduced, with the Opposition staging loud protests inside the House, countered by equally loud counter protests by the ruling party members.

The 19A decentralised the appointments to the nine commissions including the Elections Commission, the National Police Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Finance Commission, the Public Service Commission, among others to a Constitutional Council. It rolled back the 18th Amendment, earlier brought in by the outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa that removed the two-term bar on incumbent president from contesting a third time. Under the 19A, the President also lost his power to sack the Prime Minister. It also placed a ceiling on the number of ministers and deputy ministers. Evidently, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa through the 20A has tried to not only undo 19A, but out do even the 18A.

Continue reading ‘Modi – Rajapaksa summit was an exercise in building better understanding between the two leaders when their countries are going through troubled times by focusing on “do-ables” and deferring the gritty issues to be taken up as and when they come.’ »

Attorney General Dappula de Livera States to Court that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill provisions do not contain anything new and That most of the clauses could be found in 1978 Constitution and its 17th and 18th Amendments.


By Chandani Kirinde

Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera yesterday made a case in support of the 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill stating its provisions did not contain anything new and most of the clauses can be found in 1978 Constitution and its 17th and 18th Amendments.

These he said were removed with the introduction of the 19th Amendment and are merely being reintroduced by the 20th Amendment.

He was making submissions before the five-member SC Bench headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya PC and comprising Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Sisira de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena PC and Vijith Malalgoda PC considering the petitions filed challenging the Bill as well as those supporting it.

Continue reading ‘Attorney General Dappula de Livera States to Court that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill provisions do not contain anything new and That most of the clauses could be found in 1978 Constitution and its 17th and 18th Amendments.’ »

This country needs more than a Committee Stage democracy, that can lead to the Democratic Chaos of the Pohottuva. A lotus bud of Executive Dominance.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

A referendum is becoming the catchword of politics and calls before the Supreme Court on the 20A.

With the new Rajapaksa and Pohottuva craving a return to the JR Jayewardene rule of non-democratic authority, it is good to recall the reality of the first, and so far only, referendum in Sri Lanka, way back in 1982. It was the move by JRJ to extend the life of the parliament elected in 1977 for another six years. To get the people’s vote to keep the people out.

It was the JRJ move to prevent a general election, when several by-elections held showed the government was losing support, and JRJ’s UNP would not get a huge majority in the next parliament. With the main opposition leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike deprived of her civic rights, JRJ wanted to ensure his continuity in power with a parliamentary majority.

Continue reading ‘This country needs more than a Committee Stage democracy, that can lead to the Democratic Chaos of the Pohottuva. A lotus bud of Executive Dominance.’ »

An American military presence in Sri Lanka would enable the US to advance a so-called ‘island chain strategy’ to control the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, which are of vital importance to China’s foreign trade.

By

M K Bhadrakumar

The virtual summit between the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa turned out to be somewhat surreal.

The summit was the first of its kind Modi has had with any South Asian leader.

The expectations were high. But fault lines have appeared.

On the core issue of the Sri Lankan Tamil problem, the joint statement (external link) issued after the September 26 summit says, ‘Prime Minister Modi called on the Government of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realising the expectations of all ethnic groups including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the Constitutional provisions.’

Clearly, Rajapaksa failed to give any commitment regarding the implementation of the 13th Amendment enacted by the previous government, which came to power in 2015 after his ouster.

Continue reading ‘An American military presence in Sri Lanka would enable the US to advance a so-called ‘island chain strategy’ to control the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, which are of vital importance to China’s foreign trade.’ »

ADM Jabalpur vs S. S. Shukla Case : When 4 out of 5 Supreme Court Judges Delivered the Worst Judgement of the Indian Supreme Court.


By Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne
President’s Counsel

Ask Indian lawyers what the worst judgment of the Indian Supreme Court has been and a large majority would surely say ADM Jabalpur (Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur v S. S. Shukla, also known as the Habeas Corpus Case, reported in AIR 1976 SC 1207). Many of them would also point out that ADM Jabalpur was overruled 42 years later by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, son of Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, who was one of the judges in the 4-1 majority in the 1976 case.

Seen as one of the darkest spots in the history of the Indian Supreme Court, ADM Jabalpur validated the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus during the infamous Emergency under Indira Gandhi. Constitutional scholar Granville Austin observed in his book ‘Working a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience‘: ‘The Habeas Corpus case captures the Emergency as nothing else’. Today, hardly any one defends ADM Jabalpur.

The case concerned a Presidential Order issued on 27 June 1975 under Emergency provisions suspending the issue of the writ of Habeas Corpus or any other writ or order or direction to quash an order of detention on the ground that the order was illegal or was vitiated by mala fides, factual or legal, or was based on extraneous considerations. The majority of judges held that if extraordinary powers are given, they have been given because the Emergency is extraordinary, and were limited to the period of the Emergency.

During the hearing, Justice Khanna asked Attorney General Niren De, if ‘supposing some policeman, for reasons of enmity not of state, kills someone, would there be a remedy?’ and De replied: ‘My Lord, not so long as the Emergency lasts.’

Continue reading ‘ADM Jabalpur vs S. S. Shukla Case : When 4 out of 5 Supreme Court Judges Delivered the Worst Judgement of the Indian Supreme Court.’ »

ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyaj Released After Being in Custody for 5 Months:Police Say There was Evidence to Investigate him Over Easter Sunday Attacks but Insufficient Evidence to File Charges

By
Ajith Siriwardana

Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother Riyaj Bathiudeen was released as there was insufficient evidence against him for a case to be filed over the Easter Sunday attack, Police Spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said today.

He told a news conference that investigations were carried out by the CID after detaining him in custody for five months and that it had been revealed that there was insufficient evidence against him.

Continue reading ‘ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Brother Riyaj Released After Being in Custody for 5 Months:Police Say There was Evidence to Investigate him Over Easter Sunday Attacks but Insufficient Evidence to File Charges’ »

Every time Sri Lanka has ventured on making a constitution, it has always been viewed from the angle of the ruling party rather than that of the people and the country. This demonstrates the extent of ignorance of Sri Lanka on the subject of constitution making.

By’

Victor Ivan

The country has got caught in a whirlwind of anarchy. Although there are dictatorial aspirations and tendencies looming in the air, they are not likely to materialise and secure a firm foothold against the whirlwind of anarchy. The anarchy that sweeps the country will shatter both the limited democracy that prevails as well as the dictatorial aspirations. Yet still all the eyes are fixed on the 20th Amendment.

In regard to the subject of the Constitution particularly the knowledge of philosophical, legal and political concepts related to the Constitution is concerned, Sri Lanka lags far behind. The rulers of the country have often tended to violate the Constitution as if it was an act of heroism. Such actions of rulers do not seem to have provoked strong public protest. Also, instances were not rare when even the judiciary which is bound to defend the sanctity of the Constitution tends to support the rulers when they violated the Constitution, blatantly.

The Constitution

Generally the Constitution of a nation is reckoned to be the most supreme legal document over all the laws of the land that exemplifies the main functions and the structure of the State and their interrelationship, and the principles governing them.

Usually, the Constitution of a nation or a country is enacted for long-term purposes as against short-term objectives. The unwritten Constitution of Great Britain is more than 800 years old. The American Constitution is 230 years old. No matter how old the Constitutions of these two countries were; they haven’t got tired of their constitution.

So far, Sri Lanka has adopted three Constitutions in the last 72 years. The Government is now contemplating on making the fourth Constitution. This reflects that Sri Lanka has yet to acquire the knowledge and discipline needed for autonomous democratic rule despite 72 years having passed since independence.

Continue reading ‘Every time Sri Lanka has ventured on making a constitution, it has always been viewed from the angle of the ruling party rather than that of the people and the country. This demonstrates the extent of ignorance of Sri Lanka on the subject of constitution making.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enlists “Viyathmaga” Personnel to facilitate and fast track various development initiatives assigned to State ministers.


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has enlisted the Viyathmaga (Professionals for a Better Future) to facilitate and fast track various development initiatives assigned to State ministers.

In carrying out this task, the Viyathmaga Secretariat will harness its base of professionals as well experts from outside.

Anura Fernando, who is spearheading this initiative as General Secretary of Viyathmaga, told Daily FT that qualified, competent and passionate professionals who have time in the national interest would be appointed as Team Leaders on a range of socio-economic sectors to facilitate the State ministries.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enlists “Viyathmaga” Personnel to facilitate and fast track various development initiatives assigned to State ministers.’ »

“If the public do not have access to remedy a grievance against the unlawful exercise of powers by all powerful Presidents the only remedy will be to take arms against the State.”

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“If the public do not have access to remedy a grievance against the unlawful exercise of powers by an all-powerful President the only remedy will be to take arms against the State” – Bar Association of Sri Lanka Committee Report on the 20th Amendment (5.1, p3)

A rousing accolade from a great friend blew a hole below the waterline of the case for scrapping the 19th Amendment and implanting the risky 20th Amendment.

The Shanghai-based YICAI Research Institute, part of the YICAI Media Group, China’s largest financial media conglomerate, listed Sri Lanka the second-best performer in the World Survey on Pandemic Control, in a survey of 108 countries. China came in first, while Sri Lanka out-performed South Korea (4th), New Zealand (8th), Vietnam (9th), Japan (18th) and Germany (23rd). (http://www.newswire.lk/2020/09/26/sri-lanka-rank-2nd-china-rank-1st-in-world-survey-on-pandamic-control-conducted-by-chinese-institut/)

Sri Lanka’s performance as the world’s No. 2 corona-beater, just behind China as No. 1, was achieved under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa while the 19th Amendment was/is still in place, just as President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s historic victory over the LTTE was achieved with the 17th Amendment in place.

So, what’s the problem with the Presidency under the 19th Amendment that cannot be rectified by careful readjustment? Why run the grave risks of the 20th Amendment?

Continue reading ‘“If the public do not have access to remedy a grievance against the unlawful exercise of powers by all powerful Presidents the only remedy will be to take arms against the State.”’ »

Lawyers for petitioners State to Courts that the 20th Amendment seeks to alter the basic structure and framework of the Constitution, take away the power of one organ of Government and transfer it to another, and trample on the sovereignty of the people.

By Chandani Kirinde

Attorney General Dappula De Livera yesterday informed the five-member bench of the Supreme Court considering the petitions in relation to the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution Bill that the Government intends to bring amendments to the Bill at the Committee Stage.

The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya PC, and comprising Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Sisira de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena PC, and Vijith Malalgoda PC, are considering a record 39 petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Bill and several intervenient petitions.

The AG said the determination of the Court would have to be made on or before 13 October, and that the Government intends to move amendments to the Bill at the Committee Stage debate in Parliament.

However, Justice Sisira de Abrew observed that there is no guarantee that the amendments will be moved at the Committee Stage, and the determination of the SC will be on the Bill which was published in the Gazette.

Continue reading ‘Lawyers for petitioners State to Courts that the 20th Amendment seeks to alter the basic structure and framework of the Constitution, take away the power of one organ of Government and transfer it to another, and trample on the sovereignty of the people.’ »

Sri Lanka Bans cattle slaughter following Cabinet apprival of proposal by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa but will take steps to import beef for Domestic Consumption

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka has banned cattle slaughter after the Cabinet cleared Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent proposal, the government announced on Tuesday, adding that it would take steps to import beef.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rajapaksa made a proposal to the parliamentary group of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP, or People’s Front) on banning cattle slaughter. L

egislators of the party had “applauded” when the proposal was made then, but it obtained official sanction following Cabinet approval.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Bans cattle slaughter following Cabinet apprival of proposal by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa but will take steps to import beef for Domestic Consumption’ »

Govt. to move minor amendments to 20 A at Committee Stage:President granted power to dissolve Parliament after 2.5 years, EC members to increase from 3 to 5,Qualified auditor to be made AG

The amendments the Government intends to move to the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution (20A) Bill at its Committee Stage will include increasing the period that must elapse before the President may use his powers to dissolve Parliament to two-and-a-half years, while in the draft 20A Bill, the President could dissolve Parliament after a year.

Another amendment will be to increase the members of the Election Commission from three to five, and to make one of its members a retired officer of the Department of Elections or Election Commission, who has held office as a Deputy Commissioner of Elections or above.

Continue reading ‘Govt. to move minor amendments to 20 A at Committee Stage:President granted power to dissolve Parliament after 2.5 years, EC members to increase from 3 to 5,Qualified auditor to be made AG’ »

President Gotabaya brings National Priority Program under Presidential Secretariat:Five Presidential Task Forces will function under this program: SLT, TRC and ICTA, Board of Investment and Port City Project also listed under this program

By Chandani Kirinde

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has amended the Gazette of the Subjects and Functions assigned to Ministers and State Ministers and brought the National Priority Program under the Presidential Secretariat.

In the earlier Gazette issued on 9 August, the National Priority Program was not listed under any particular institute but in a new Gazette dated 25 September on the assignment of Subjects and Functions and Departments, State Corporations and Statutory Institutions to Ministers, this program has been listed under the Secretariat.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya brings National Priority Program under Presidential Secretariat:Five Presidential Task Forces will function under this program: SLT, TRC and ICTA, Board of Investment and Port City Project also listed under this program’ »

After India and Sri Lanka issued a joint statement referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the Sri Lankan government to address the Tamil minority’s aspirations, with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office released a statement , making no mention of Mr. Modi’s call.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Hours after India and Sri Lanka issued a joint statement referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the Sri Lankan government to address the Tamil minority’s aspirations, with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office released a statement on Saturday, making no mention of Mr. Modi’s call, or the constitutional provision on power devolution.

Mr. Rajapaksa’s statement, following the leaders’ virtual meet on Saturday, focused on Sri Lanka’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has drawn international praise. While outlining the talking points of their discussion — such as development, geopolitics, economy, defense and tourism —it was silent on justice and post-war reconciliation that remain sensitive issues to some in the southern Sinhala-Buddhist constituency, who fear power devolution might lead to separatism and justice might target the armed forces, who are accused of war crimes.

Continue reading ‘After India and Sri Lanka issued a joint statement referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the Sri Lankan government to address the Tamil minority’s aspirations, with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office released a statement , making no mention of Mr. Modi’s call.’ »

SLPP appeals most to the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency especially its hard-line elements while minorities remain at best sceptical or at worst repulsed by its narrow, ethno-nationalist politics.


By

Meera Srinivasan

When former President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the 2015 election, after his Cabinet colleague Maithripala Sirisena joined hands with rival Ranil Wickremesinghe in an unexpected alliance, his next moves were far from certain. In five years, not only is Mr. Rajapaksa back in power as he vowed, as the country’s Premier, but his new party has bulldozed Sri Lanka’s political terrain almost entirely, decimating the country’s two main national parties — the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to which Mr. Rajapaksa belonged, and the United National Party (UNP) that dominated the island’s political landscape for seven decades post-Independence.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or People’s Front), in less than four years after it was founded, has firmly established itself as the party of the people, mainly the majority Sinhala-Buddhist community, and its icons — the Rajapaksa brothers — as the country’s leaders.

While the party’s rise has been quick, its making was marked by an early start, consistent organising, and a series of well-calibrated political manoeuvres. For complacent political rivals, the SLPP’s moves may not have appeared drastic, but they proved lethal.

Continue reading ‘SLPP appeals most to the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency especially its hard-line elements while minorities remain at best sceptical or at worst repulsed by its narrow, ethno-nationalist politics.’ »

Indian Prime Minister Modi Asks Govt of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13 Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.

By

Suhasini Haidar & Meera Srinivasan

Calling on the newly elected Sri Lankan government to fully implement the 13th Constitutional amendment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “highlighted” India’s concerns about the rights of the Tamil minorities, during talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa.

During the bilateral talks held on Saturday, New Delhi promised a $15-million grant for the promotion of Buddhist cultural exchanges, but demurred from a decision on Colombo’s twin requests of a deferment of its debt repayment and a currency swap.

“Prime Minister Modi called on the Government of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka, including by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13Amendment to the Constitution,” said a joint statement released after the meeting, in a clear indication that both sides agreed to the reference.

Continue reading ‘Indian Prime Minister Modi Asks Govt of Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13 Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.’ »

Parliament is being engaged through the 20th Amendment to strip itself of all its powers and vest them in the hands of one man – the President. This charade is referred to as an expression of the sovereignty of the people.

By Dr. Sakuntala Kadirgamar

(The writer is Executive Director of the Law and Society Trust.)

Last week (15 September) International Democracy Day was celebrated and we in Sri Lanka also celebrated it with statements made by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition confirming Sri Lanka’s commitment to democracy. But how deep and how widespread and how true is our commitment to democracy, besides voting periodically at elections?

We are right in the middle of the first of a series of challenges that we will face. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution that is widely discussed does more than repeal the preceding 19th Amendment that the Government criticises for being poorly drafted and replete with inconsistencies. The 20th Amendment takes the country backwards to an era of uncontrolled presidential powers.

It is also a window into the soul of its sponsors and drafters of the amendment. What form and shape will we expect the ‘new constitution’ to take if these are the amendments to be made during the transition?

The majority of the constitutional amendments that were made to the 1978 Constitution were undertaken to suit the party in power. There was an accumulation of powers in the hands of the President. Parliament played the role of a rubberstamp and endorsed all the amendments.

Have we forgotten that every parliamentarian within the ruling party was ‘persuaded’ to give President Jayewardene undated letters of resignation? This effectively served as a gag order on them and they uncritically towed the President’s line.

Continue reading ‘Parliament is being engaged through the 20th Amendment to strip itself of all its powers and vest them in the hands of one man – the President. This charade is referred to as an expression of the sovereignty of the people.’ »

Do we go back to the days of monarchy or their modern version of tinpot dictators or progress as a modern democratic republic with citizens enjoying their fundamental rights?

By Gamini Weerakoon

(Gamini Weerakoon is a former editor of The Sunday Island, The Island and Consulting Editor of the Sunday Leader)

The intense gobbledygook that has been parroted on constitutional law, particularly on ‘20A’ in English and Sinhala in the media has left this columnist somewhat groggy.

It made us wonder whether the man on the street or the farmer toiling in his field did think about the implications of ‘20A’ or the 19th Amendment and JR’s Executive Presidency when he voted for Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s mandate or simply voted for ‘Appe Man’.

A term tossed about by constitutional pundits and media persons has been: ‘Democratic Dictatorship’ and variants of it as ‘Strongman Democracy’ and ‘Benevolent Democracy’. To the old school types of older generations, ‘Democratic Dictator’ is an oxymoron — a term with two contradictory meanings. ‘Democracy’, they learnt at school, was a ‘Government of the people, by the people for the people’. A ‘dictatorship’ broadly implied a form of government by a single individual or a group of leaders that do not tolerate opposing views, political pluralism or media independence. Democracy and dictatorship are like fire and water; fire and dynamite.

Yet in this Democratic Socialist Republic, there have been people who long for a strong ruler — a dictator. We recall a few years ago a report about a monk at an almsgiving calling upon Gotabaya to ‘become even a Hitler to save Sinhala-Buddhism from destruction by the Yahapalanaya government. There are many who long for the ‘glorious days of Sinhala monarchs’, most of whom were absolute despots ruling over a feudal society.

Modern-day advocates of despotism , those longing for a return to the days of Dutu Gemunu, Parakrama Bahu, Vijaya Bahu and the like, believe in political reincarnations like the Rajapaksas who could take Lanka back to those ‘glorious days ’.

Continue reading ‘Do we go back to the days of monarchy or their modern version of tinpot dictators or progress as a modern democratic republic with citizens enjoying their fundamental rights?’ »

The draft 20th Amendment is a surgically lethal strike to the democratic heart of Sri Lanka Because What was called for was governance with democratic checks and balances and not the concentration of power in one individual.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Given highly misleading justifications of the draft 20th Amendment advanced by Government Ministers, including those who profess to have someh knowledge of the law and the Constitution, the record must be set straight even if that is the very least that is done.


Allegedly ‘undemocratic’ nature of the CC

The claim made by Education Minister GL Peiris to the media this week that transferring the President’s powers to make key appointments to an ‘unelected Constitutional Council (CC) is undemocratic’, falls squarely into this category of patently false explanations.

This is not a new argument. On the contrary, this claim has been regularly trotted out by politicians whenever the Constitution is captured by political majorities that use the electoral mandate to whitewash naked grabs for absolute power.

In law, the Supreme Court went into this question very well when it considered both the 17th (2001) and 19th (2015) Amendments to the Constitution. Very evidently, it rejected the claim of ‘transferral of powers’ from the President to the CC. That reasoning, it is of note, impacts not only on the constitutional nature of that objection but also on the allegedly ‘undemocratic’ nature of the CC that is being repeatedly drummed into our incredulous ears by spokespersons of the ruling party.

In sum, the argument presented by lawyers while objecting to the mechanism of a CC was that it impinges on the ‘sovereign power’ of the people and thereby fetters the executive power of the President. The Court disagreed. It was pointed out that the CC was a representative body, reflecting views of the diverse groups in Parliament and that its non ex-officio members were (meant to be) apolitical persons of eminence and integrity.

Continue reading ‘The draft 20th Amendment is a surgically lethal strike to the democratic heart of Sri Lanka Because What was called for was governance with democratic checks and balances and not the concentration of power in one individual.’ »

Five Member Bench of Supreme Court Comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare,Sisira J de Abrew,Priyantha Jayawardena and Vijithkumara Malalgoda will Consider Petitions Challenging 20 A Draft on Sep 29

Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya PC will head the five-member Bench named to consider the petitions filed challenging the constitutionality of the 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill.

The Chief Justice named Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Sisira J. de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena PC and Vijith Kumara Malalgoda PC as the other members of the Bench. The petitions will be considered on 29 September.

Continue reading ‘Five Member Bench of Supreme Court Comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare,Sisira J de Abrew,Priyantha Jayawardena and Vijithkumara Malalgoda will Consider Petitions Challenging 20 A Draft on Sep 29’ »

Welcome to the Age of Animal Ministries or “Sathva Amathya Yugaya” With “Amathis(Ministers) for Rilav/Vanduru(Monkey), Nari/Hival(Fox/Jackal), Meeharak(Buffalo) and Sarpa(Serpent)

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The call by the government’s backbench MP Mr. Dilan Perera to be made the Rilav/Vanduru Amathi, or the Minister for Monkeys, in the Pohottuva Realm, certainly leads to plenty of interest.

This must do with the various divisions and breakup tasks that have been given to both Cabinet and State Ministers, in the current play of governance, by the Gotabaya strategies.

The call for a Rilav Ministry may have come after the Minister for Coconuts, Arundika Fernando, tried to climb a coconut palm, in his estate, at Dankotuwa, and hold a press conference to tell the people about the shortage of coconuts and the cause of the high price of this essential food item. One was surprised that he did not blame the coconut price hike on the 19A to the Constitution, and give any assurance that the coming 20A will bring the nut prices to within the people’s reach. Such nutty thinking is possible from politicos today.

What was also interesting is how he did this climb, halfway to coconut heights, with some modern climbing gear, having nothing to do with the traditional coconut tree climbers, who used their feet and hands to move much higher, and also walk on ropes from tree to tree for coconut plucking and toddy tapping. He must be following the new thinking of the Rajavasala on Digital Development to raise this country to new heights of Rajapaksa Success.

Continue reading ‘Welcome to the Age of Animal Ministries or “Sathva Amathya Yugaya” With “Amathis(Ministers) for Rilav/Vanduru(Monkey), Nari/Hival(Fox/Jackal), Meeharak(Buffalo) and Sarpa(Serpent)’ »

The Leader of the opposition as the name implies is expected to give leadership. Unfortunately the behaviour of Sajith Premadasa is casting doubts as to whether he is giving that leadership

By

Dr.Upul Wijayawardhana

The Leader of the opposition is a vital link in democracy and, as the name implies, is expected to give leadership. Unfortunately, the behaviour of Sajith Premadasa is casting doubts as to whether he is giving that leadership.

Even when he challenged Ranil for the leadership of the UNP, he was happy to put up a fight for some time and then give up. His disappearance into the wilderness after losing the presidential election and issuing a statement that he would devote the rest of his life to looking after leopards, perplexed many.

Egged on by a coterie of Ranil-haters, he split the UNP but still wanted to grab the HQ of the party, an aspiration he quickly gave up after the last general election, probably because the UNP did unexpectedly bad.

Continue reading ‘The Leader of the opposition as the name implies is expected to give leadership. Unfortunately the behaviour of Sajith Premadasa is casting doubts as to whether he is giving that leadership’ »

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam won the Guinness World Record for recording the highest number of songs by a singer:Sang over 40,000 songs in 16 languages

By

S. Murali

Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam (4 June 1946 – 25 September 2020), also referred to as S. P. Balu or SPB, was an Indian musician, playback singer, music director, actor, dubbing artist and film producer who worked predominantly in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam.

Affectionately called as ‘Balu’ in his friends’ circle, SPB made his singing debut in 1966 with the Telugu movie Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, and went on to sing over 40,000 songs in as many as 16 languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi.

He also won the Guinness World Record for recording the highest number of songs by a singer.

He bagged six National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer for his songs in four different languages (Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi), as well as 25 Andhra Pradesh state Nandi Awards for his work in Telugu cinema, apart from numerous other state awards from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Continue reading ‘S.P. Balasubrahmanyam won the Guinness World Record for recording the highest number of songs by a singer:Sang over 40,000 songs in 16 languages’ »

“You need the voice to create a vibe, build an ambience and tell a story. In SP Balasubrahmanyam ’s case, he was at once the singer, the lover, the actor.”

By

Meera Srinivasan

As the pallavi (first paragraph) of MSV’s Sippi irukkudu muthum irukkudu ends, giving way to a delightful instrumental interlude, I find myself getting alert every single time. I know precisely what I am waiting for and don’t want to miss, while getting predictably carried away in that simple yet attractive tune.

It is to hear SPB say “C’mon, say it once again”, with much fondness and camaraderie. Sridevi throws a meter-and-tune challenge at Kamal Haasan, asking him to respond with poetry. At the end of the exchange (captured memorably in conversation and music by SPB-Janaki in Kannadasan’s words), they acknowledge their love for each other. And I affirm mine for SPB. His speaking voice interspersing lines of a song invariably makes me grin. Just the way that flirty chuckle of his, in konjam maranju paakkava, illa mudugu thekkava (Pothi vecha malliga mottu), does.

It seems an irony to be reminded of the speaking voice of one of the finest playback singers ever, arguably the best in India – whether you take benchmarks in quantity or quality. If a song were just about music, then, the performer’s singing [or playing] technique and the skill to accurately execute a musical idea is all it will take. But when a song is an experience for an artiste, like it was for SPB in each of those 40,000-odd numbers, technique or skill alone won’t do. You need the voice to create a vibe, build an ambience and tell a story. In SPB’s case, he was at once the singer, the lover, the actor.

Continue reading ‘“You need the voice to create a vibe, build an ambience and tell a story. In SP Balasubrahmanyam ’s case, he was at once the singer, the lover, the actor.”’ »

‘Paadum Nila’ (Singing Moon) S.P. Balasubrahmanyam Passes Away at the Age of 74 in Chennai

by

B. Kolappan

Legendary playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday. He was 74.

Balasubrahmanyam was hospitalised in August at MGM Healthcare after testing positive for COVID-19, and while he reportedly did well initially, he took a turn for the worse, and was put on a ventilator and ECMO support.

On September 4, he tested negative for COVID-19 but continued to be on the ventilator and ECMO even as he participated in passive physiotherapy.

“In a further setback this morning, despite maximal life support measures and the best efforts of the clinical team, his condition deterioted further and he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest. With profound grief, we regret to inform that he has passed away on September 25th at 13.04 hours,” MGM Healthcare said in a media release.

Popularly known as SPB, Balasubrahmanyam made his singing debut in 1966 with Telugu movie Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna. He has sung over 40,000 songs in as many as 16 languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi.
Balasubrahmanyam was also a voice-over artist. He was the voice-over artist for actor Kamal Hassan, whenever the latter’s Tamil movies were dubbed in Telugu. Balasubrahmanyam also acted in a few movies.

Continue reading ‘‘Paadum Nila’ (Singing Moon) S.P. Balasubrahmanyam Passes Away at the Age of 74 in Chennai’ »

Sinhala society is going through its parabolic Prabhakaran/Tamil Eelam moment. We are building a Sinhala-Buddhist Eelam. It’s Prabhakaran’s posthumous revenge.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

I am proud that the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, of which my father was the Founder-President, was one of nine media industry bodies/organisations to express “deep concern” over aspects of the 20th Amendment and their potential to “negatively impact Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions”.

Mervyn de Silva would have endorsed the statement, had he lived. He founded the Lanka Guardian magazine in May 1978 as a critical civic alternative at the moment of ‘High Authoritarianism’.

The monopolisation of power through the 20th Amendment turns the Presidency into a monarchy by another name – which the Founding Fathers of the USA, having fought a revolution and liberated themselves from monarchy (‘Mad King George’), explicitly wished to avoid when they created the Presidency. With the militarisation of civil administration running parallel, the 20th Amendment arguably turns that elected monarchy into a military-backed dictatorship.

Continue reading ‘Sinhala society is going through its parabolic Prabhakaran/Tamil Eelam moment. We are building a Sinhala-Buddhist Eelam. It’s Prabhakaran’s posthumous revenge.’ »

Why should this Government fear dialogue and cooperation between President and Prime Minister when they not only come from the same party, but also from the same family?


By

Gehan Gunatilleke

Déjà vu?

Once upon a time, a mighty government with a two-thirds majority in Parliament engaged in political opportunism, and radically changed the Constitution of Sri Lanka. It ignored more than a decade of public demands for reducing the powers of the executive president and proceeded to strengthen that office. It presumed that its great popularity, which swept it to power after it ended a 30-year war, would last forever.

The year was 2010, and that Government made a fatal mistake in overestimating its popular mandate. Just five years later it was rudely ousted – incidentally by a political opposition that promised to reduce the powers of the executive president.

The story then took a predictable turn. The new Government that replaced the old also overestimated its mandate. It embarked on an ambitious reform project to overhaul the constitution, and replace it with a brand new basic law. The project, while admirable in some respects, became mired by disagreement, and sapped the scarce time and energy of legislators and experts.

In hindsight, the opportunity cost was unmistakable. The time and energy expended on grand constitutional plans would have been better spent on running an efficient economy, ensuring accountability for crimes, brokering better coordination between president and prime minister, and delivering on human developmental goals.

Continue reading ‘Why should this Government fear dialogue and cooperation between President and Prime Minister when they not only come from the same party, but also from the same family?’ »

CID Obtains Court Order to Freeze Sri Lankan Bank Account of World Renowned Charitable Organization “Quatar Charity” Headed by Members of the Emir of Quatar Royal Family Due to “Save The Pearls” Organization in Sri Lanka Allegedly Receiving a 13 Million Rupee Donation


The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) yesterday informed the Fort Magistrate Court that Save the Pearls organisation had received funding from the “Qatar Charity” amounting to 13 million rupees.

Save the Pearls is an organisation in which Hizbullah functioned as President.

Deepani Menike, appearing on behalf of the CID, informed the Fort Magistrate that “Qatar Charity” is a terrorist funding entity and had been listed as a terror network. Accordingly she said that offences related to receiving funding from terror organisations and the Money Laundering Act are being investigated.

She also said that investigations by the CID had concluded and the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) are in the process of investigating the matter. She said the file regarding the investigation into Hizbullah was sent to the Attorney General for advice.

Continue reading ‘CID Obtains Court Order to Freeze Sri Lankan Bank Account of World Renowned Charitable Organization “Quatar Charity” Headed by Members of the Emir of Quatar Royal Family Due to “Save The Pearls” Organization in Sri Lanka Allegedly Receiving a 13 Million Rupee Donation’ »

As a democratically elected person President Rajapaksa need not camouflage himself with an anti-democratic cloak because he has a massive vantage value unlike anyone else in his government to take correct steps.


By Austin Fernando
(Former Secretary to the President)

Twentieth Amendment (20A) is reviewed by commentators from political, legal, journalistic, and religious angles. Not belonging to any such group, I do not venture to cover the multitude of discussions on 20A. My focus is to view 20A to understand how it affects governance and causes political contradictions.

In democratic good governance, there are essential elements, such as the rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensual oriented action, equity and inclusivity, accountability, and participation. Irrespectively, it is surprising to observe public administrators/their associations (except Auditors) in stoic silence on the 20A, though they will implement and experience fallouts of the 20A.

Ministerial Review Committee

The 20A created contradictory opinions even among the government ranks. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a Committee of Ministers to review 20A. When this Committee Report was handed over, the public expected a review by the Cabinet. But it did not happen. Responsiveness, inclusivity, and participation have been lost even before 20A is passed, with a presidential directive to discuss the revisions of the Ministerial Committee at the Committee Stage. Such directives are common in Executive Presidency though one may question the applicability of Article 42(2) – “collective responsibility.” Anyway, the revisions will hence lack prior legal or public scrutiny.

Continue reading ‘As a democratically elected person President Rajapaksa need not camouflage himself with an anti-democratic cloak because he has a massive vantage value unlike anyone else in his government to take correct steps.’ »

In the 37 years that an “Executive President” reigned over Sri Lanka, an almost unbridgeable gap was created between political parties and between ethnic groups. The country was torn asunder, and its people were brutalised.

By

Dr.Nihal Jayawickrama

Strident calls were repeatedly made from many quarters for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to be repealed. Some argued that it should be repealed in its entirety, while others pleaded for the retention of some of its provisions.

What has been overlooked is that there is no 19th Amendment capable of being amended or repealed. It does not exist. It has not existed since 15 May 2015 when the 19th Amendment Bill, having been debated and passed in Parliament, was certified by the Speaker.

Indeed, none of the previous 18 Amendments to the Constitution exist today. Therefore, the 19th Amendment cannot be repealed, whether in its entirety or partially. What we do have is the Constitution of 1978 which has been amended 19 times.

Continue reading ‘In the 37 years that an “Executive President” reigned over Sri Lanka, an almost unbridgeable gap was created between political parties and between ethnic groups. The country was torn asunder, and its people were brutalised.’ »

When there was no one else on the bench to stand for what she felt were eternal values Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out with words and language that were so strong that they were in fact vulnerable.

By

Dr.Radhika Coomaraswamy

A diminutive, shy person with head bowed down walked into the room. She walked slowly but with a purposive step. When she began the class her voice was just above a whisper and her words were accompanied by long pauses as we strained to listen. This was 1976 and I was enrolled in the class of Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she began her pioneering course on sex-based discrimination and the law.

As a South Asian I was used to vibrant and colourful women leaders. Ginsburg was anything but. With a cold, piercing, powerful, intellect, she showed us how to dissect arguments, plan a cohesive strategy and win the battle. She was all about the analysis, the details and the hard work. Her main area of interest in the law was Civil Procedure, the rules and processes of the legal system. I usually fell asleep during those classes but it was Ginsburg who convinced me that if you are going to be a human rights lawyer, first master the procedure. Your passion will guide the substance.

There are three main eras to Ginsburg’s legal career. The first that began in the sixties and went through the 1970s was to try and radically transform the law through persuasion, especially persuasion of the US Supreme Court. The second phase involved her engaging in the “art of the possible,” working with judges across the spectrum to get moderate, consensual judgments. Her last and most iconic era was the “I dissent” phase where Republican appointments to the Supreme Court threatened her values and all that she stood for.

Continue reading ‘When there was no one else on the bench to stand for what she felt were eternal values Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out with words and language that were so strong that they were in fact vulnerable.’ »

Six petitions Including Those of Samagi Jana Balawegaya and Tamil National Alliance filed on Wednesday in Supreme court against the 20th Amendment legislation

By

Meera Srinivasan

A day after the Sri Lankan government tabled the contentious 20th Amendment Bill, Opposition parties, including the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB, or United People’s Front) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), moved the Supreme Court challenging it.

At least six petitions, including those of the SJB and the TNA, were filed on Wednesday, following the Opposition’s protest in the legislature against the move.

Continue reading ‘Six petitions Including Those of Samagi Jana Balawegaya and Tamil National Alliance filed on Wednesday in Supreme court against the 20th Amendment legislation’ »

At least 10 Petitions are expected to the filed in the Supreme Court seeking a referendum on the proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment (20A) Within the Next Seven Days

By P. K. Balachandran

At least 10 cases are expected to the filed in the Supreme Court seeking a referendum on the proposed 20thConstitutional Amendment (20A), according to reliable sources in the Sri Lankan opposition.

As soon as the government placed the 20thAmendment bill on the table of the House on Tuesday (22), a lawyer filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging it and seeking a referendum on it on the grounds that the bill seeks to change the fundamental features of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

Any bill which alters a fundamental feature of the Constitution has to be ratified by the people at large in a referendum, apart from a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

“At least ten petitions seeking a referendum are expected to be filed in the seven-day period given to file petitions against the bill,” senior counsel and MP, M.A. Sumanthiran said.

Continue reading ‘At least 10 Petitions are expected to the filed in the Supreme Court seeking a referendum on the proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment (20A) Within the Next Seven Days’ »

Din in Parliament as 20th Amendment Draft Bill is Tabled by Justice Minister Ali Sabry: Stand-off in the Well of the House for Over 30 minutes with Opposition Mp’s Shouting “Apita Vissa Epa”(We Dont want 20) and Govt MP’s Chanting “Apita Vissa Oney”(we want 20)

By Chandani Kirinde

Justice Minister Ali Sabry presented the 20th Amendment to Parliament yesterday amidst strong protests by Opposition MPs.

The Bill was presented to the House by Minister Sabry, whose voice was drowned by the din of shouts from MPs of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) whose voice rose in a chorus to the words “apita vissa epa” (“we don’t want 20”) and carried placards, wore black armbands and ‘No to 20’ badges as Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa described it as a “dark day for democracy”.

Continue reading ‘Din in Parliament as 20th Amendment Draft Bill is Tabled by Justice Minister Ali Sabry: Stand-off in the Well of the House for Over 30 minutes with Opposition Mp’s Shouting “Apita Vissa Epa”(We Dont want 20) and Govt MP’s Chanting “Apita Vissa Oney”(we want 20)’ »

Opposition MP’s Object to National Congress Leader AHM Athaullah’s attire in Parliament with Dilip Wedaarachchi Tucking his Sarong up to knee and Nalin Bandara Unbuttoning his Shirt in protest

National Congress Digamadulla District MP A.L.M. Athaullah had to leave the Parliamentary Chamber yesterday owing to protests by Opposition MPs over his choice of attire to the House.

Athaullah deviated from the dress code for male MPs which is either national dress, full suit or tunic, long-sleeved shirts and trousers by wearing a sherwani with a waistcoat which prompted SJB MP Nalin Bandara to raise objection.

Several other SJB MPs including Harin Fernando and Dilip Wedaarachchi also objected with Bandara attempting to unbutton his shirt in protest and Wedaaracchi raising his sarong up to his knee.

Continue reading ‘Opposition MP’s Object to National Congress Leader AHM Athaullah’s attire in Parliament with Dilip Wedaarachchi Tucking his Sarong up to knee and Nalin Bandara Unbuttoning his Shirt in protest’ »

The one clear and simple advantage of the Rajapaksa’s is that they know what they want as far as politics is concerned and everything is geared towards getting it – from men to money to media. It is largely narrow, personalised,platitudinous and lethal and toxic to democratic governance.

By

Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

In November 1936, during the Battle for Madrid in the Spanish Civil War, Dolores Ibarruri or La Pasionaria as she came to be known, the impassionate Left orator and freedom fighter, issued the famous slogan ‘No Pasaran – They Will Not Pass’. Can similar sentiments be aroused about amendments to or repeal of a constitutional amendment aimed at strengthening parliamentary democracy through instituting checks and balances on the exercise of executive power and authority? After all, that no one arm of government should be so strong as to be able to lay down the law to the others, is a basic tenet of democratic governance.

Should the 19th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution be tampered with?

Basically the provisions of the amendment instituted checks and balances on the exercise of executive power and authority through reintroducing term limits on the presidency, declaring dual nationals ineligible for elected office, established the right to information as a fundamental right along with the Constitutional Council for major appointments to positions of the state and independent commissions for human rights, the police, public service and judiciary.

Most importantly it set limits on the power of the president to dissolve parliament, removed his/her legal immunity and required that he consult with the prime minister before acting in a number of instances as well as that the President’s Office and that of the Prime Minister be audited by the Office of the Auditor General.

Consultation with the Prime Minister and the removal of legal immunity ensures accountability as the President could be brought to Court and the Prime Minister was accountable to Parliament on a daily basis. What could possibly be the reticence for removing the President and Prime Minister’s office from the scrutiny of the Office of the Auditor General, particularly when the arguments about lack of accountability are trumpeted in respect of non-governmental organisations who are subject both to the NGO Secretariat – once again under the Ministry of Defence and for those so registered – the Registrar of Companies.

Continue reading ‘The one clear and simple advantage of the Rajapaksa’s is that they know what they want as far as politics is concerned and everything is geared towards getting it – from men to money to media. It is largely narrow, personalised,platitudinous and lethal and toxic to democratic governance.’ »

Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama: Unforgettable Symbol of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tragedy

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This article was first published six years ago to commemorate the 25th death anniversary of Dr.Rajini.It is re-posted here without any changes to denote her 31st death anniversary)

It was 25 years ago on September 21st 1989 that Dr. Rajini Thiranagama nee Rajasingham was killed in Jaffna. She was 35 years old at the time of her death.The 25th anniversary of her death is to be commemorated through a series of events next week in the northern capital. This is the first time that such a commemoration of Rajini’s memorable legacy is to be held in Jaffna, since the one held in 1989, a month after her death.

Dr. Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama

Dr. Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama (February 23, 1954 – September 21, 1989)

A Commemoration Meeting is to be held at the Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna on September 20th at 9.30 a.m. On the same day at 2 p.m a procession for peace, democracy and social justice will start at the Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna and end at the Veerasingham Hall with a short meeting.On September 21st a seminar will be held at 9 am on the theme “A more just and democratic society”.The venue is the Kailasapathy Hall, University of Jaffna.

Rajini was a contemporary of mine at Jaffna Collge,Vaddukkoddai where I completed my GCE- Advanced Level. Her father Mr.A. Rajasingham was the vice –principal during my time. Rajini born on February 23rd 1954 studied at Jaffna College(JC) from grade one till entering varsity except for a short period at Chundikkuli Girls College in Jaffna town. All of her sisters Nirmala,Sumathy and Vasuki were at JC too. In school she was known as Rajini but later on her name was spelled as Rajani .Yet we the old students of JC continue to refer to her as Rajini and I too am doing so while writing this article.

IMG_8074.PNG

St. James Church graveyard, Nallur-in January, 2012-pic by Saba Thambi

It is hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since Rajini was brutally gunned down at Thirunelvely, Jaffna on September 21st 1989 while cycling back home from the Jaffna University. She was Professor of Anatomy at the Jaffna Varsity medical faculty. The 35 year old mother of two daughters –Narmada and Sharika- was also a human rights activist, feminist, critic of narrow nationalism and opponent of irresponsible militarism.

Continue reading ‘Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama: Unforgettable Symbol of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tragedy’ »

Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) fileds six indictments against former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. owner Arjun Aloysius at the Colombo High Court.

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) yesterday filed six indictments against former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. owner Arjun Aloysius at the Colombo High Court.

Both individuals have been charged under Section 19C of the Bribery Act, which concerns bribery in respect of Government business.

Continue reading ‘Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) fileds six indictments against former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. owner Arjun Aloysius at the Colombo High Court.’ »

Legendary Muslim Congress “Thalaiver” MHM Ashraff and the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Today (16 September) is the 20th death anniversary of Mohammad Hussein Muhammad Ashraff, the legendary leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC). He was the Cabinet Minister in charge of Shipping, Ports, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in the Government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the time of his death. He, along with 14 others, was killed in an air crash on 16 September 2000.

M.H.M. Ashraff had on that fateful morning boarded a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Mi-17 helicopter at the Police grounds in Bambalapitiya at about 9:30 am. Nine SLMC party officials and three bodyguards accompanied Ashraff. There were also two crew members from the SLAF. The flight destination was Ampara/Amparai.

Forty-five minutes later Air Traffic controllers lost radio contact with the helicopter being flown by squadron leader Shiran Perera. It was later discovered that the chopper had crashed over the Urakanda mountain range in the Aranayaka area in Kegalle District of Sabaragamuwa Province. Fifteen charred bodies were recovered from the burning wreckage. Ashraff’s funeral was held late night on the same day at Colombo’s Jawatte Muslim burial ground. He had earlier told family members that he should be buried within hours of his death.
Continue reading ‘Legendary Muslim Congress “Thalaiver” MHM Ashraff and the Tamils of Sri Lanka’ »

Former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris will soon head the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations (UN) in New York, while senior journalist C.A. Chandraprema will be Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

Former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris has been picked to head the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations (UN) in New York, while senior journalist C.A. Chandraprema will go as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, the Daily FT learns.

Peiris will replace Kshenuka Senewiratne, a career diplomat who headed the New York Mission since last August. She was recalled earlier this month.

The top spot at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva has been vacant since last December, with Dayani Mendis as its Acting Permanent Representative. Chandraprema has been picked to fill this vacancy.

Their names have been set to the High Post Committee (HPC) of Parliament for confirmation, official sources said. Meanwhile the HPC is expected to consider six other nominees of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa named to head Sri Lanka overseas missions this week.

Continue reading ‘Former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris will soon head the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations (UN) in New York, while senior journalist C.A. Chandraprema will be Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.’ »

Parliament was also elected by the people and has a five-year mandate and the powers being withdrawn by the proposed 20th Amendment are so significant that they may require a referendum.

by Jehan Perera

The government has announced that the draft 20th Amendment bill will be presented to parliament on Tuesday. It will be the same version that caught the country by surprise when it first made its appearance to the public on September 3. The extreme nature of the proposed amendment, which has been the cause of much disquiet, is epitomized by the power it seeks to give the President to sack the Prime Minister and ministers at his discretion and to dissolve parliament after a year of its election. Undoubtedly it was concerns within the ranks of those elected to parliament from within the government side itself that prompted Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to appoint a committee consisting of parliamentarians of stature to give their opinion on the proposed 20th Amendment and to suggest further amendments to it.

There are disturbing features about the draft 20th Amendment. The most significant is the overwhelming power it seeks to give the institution of the presidency by transferring the powers currently vested in other institutions to it. The proposed amendment immediately evoked protests from the opposition political parties and civil society and was soon followed by more subdued expressions of dissent from within the government itself. Government members have not openly criticized the erosion of parliamentary powers but instead appear to have chosen the option of stating their objections to less significant clauses in the proposed 20th Amendment. One of these is the removal of the ban on dual citizens from contesting for political office and the removal of the oath against promoting separatism in the country.

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Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry was “malicious and fictitious” Says Counsel Dilshan Jayasuriya

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was “malicious and fictitious”, Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for Fernando said yesterday.

Jayasuriya told the PCoI that by issuing that statement Sirisena had also undermined the PCoI.

Sirisena, on Sunday, issued a press release claiming that the testimony given by Fernando at the PCoI about his behavior was completely false.

Continue reading ‘Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry was “malicious and fictitious” Says Counsel Dilshan Jayasuriya’ »

Former President Maithripala Sirisena never instructed the National Security Council to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim during his tenure as Defence Secretary between November 2018 and April 2019, Ex-Def Secy Hemasiri Fernando tells the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI)

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Only the President had the power to give directions at the National Security Council (NSC) and former President Maithripala Sirisena never instructed those who attended its meetings to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim during his tenure as Defence Secretary between November 2018 and April 2019, Hemasiri Fernando, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Fernando added that he had taken over as the Defence Secretary in November 2018 and no one had any idea where Zahran was hiding. If they could have arrested Zahran in 2018, the attack could have been prevented.

Continue reading ‘Former President Maithripala Sirisena never instructed the National Security Council to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim during his tenure as Defence Secretary between November 2018 and April 2019, Ex-Def Secy Hemasiri Fernando tells the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI)’ »

Retired Judges’ Association (RJA) says it is “gravely perturbed” by the potential impact of the draft 20th Amendment on the constitution in relation to the selection and appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.


The Retired Judges’ Association (RJA) says it is “gravely perturbed” by the potential impact of the draft 20th Amendment on the constitutional separation of powers, particularly in relation to the selection and appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

In a letter to Justice Minister Ali Sabry, the association notes that as emphasised in the Commonwealth (Latimer House) principles on the three branches of government, an accountable and publicly transparent process of appointment of judges is integral to upholding the Rule of Law, engendering public confidence and dispensing justice.

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Professional media Organizations have raised concerns over certain clauses of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution saying it would have a detrimental impact on freedom of speech, expression and information in Sri Lanka.


Professional media industry bodies have raised concerns over certain clauses of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, saying it would have a detrimental impact on freedom of speech, expression and information in Sri Lanka.

The statement has been issued by the Sri Lanka Press Institute, the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Tamil Media Alliance and the South Asia Free Media Association.

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Draft 20th Constitutional Amendment is the greatest threat that Sri Lanka faces to constitutional governance today.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

Constitutions of democratic Republics should not be tailor made for individuals. Yet, Sri Lanka’s constitutional practice has been stubbornly reflective of this pattern, inclusive of the 19th Amendment and the proposed 20th Amendment alike.

Hypocritical homage to constitutional ideals

Veneration of the 19th Amendment by its proponents must give way to an understanding that playing to power politics of the day in sanctimoniously hypocritical homage to constitutional ideals while discarding these precepts in practice during 2015-2019 set the stage for the greatest threat that Sri Lanka faces to constitutional governance today.

That threat comes in the form of the draft 20th Amendment. What that teaches us is different to classical Aristotelian drama which turns on a fatal error of judgment of a single individual, bringing doom not only on that person but everyone else.

Here the error was not singular nor was it confined to the two comedic leading personalities forming the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe ill-fated coalition or their motley followers. Instead, the fault was collective. Supposedly impartial citizens’ groups did not speak out enough, did not criticise enough when democracy pledges of the ‘good governance’ coalition began unraveling, very early on with the first Central Bank bond scam followed by the second and then resulting in multiple failures of governance culminating in the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. That failure to maintain a steadfast focus on institutionally cementing the Rule of Law and bring a critical focus to counterbalance Colombo’s elite power games has cost us dearly. That much must be clearly acknowledged.

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Ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Tells Presidential Commission of Inquiry that he was Unable to Implement 25 to 30 Key Decisions Due to the Interference of Former President Maithripala Sirisena

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, on April 24, 2019, had told former IGP Pujith Jayasundara that if the latter took the blame for the Easter Sunday bombings he would be given his pension and posted to any country of his choice as an ambassador, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando yesterday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Fernando said that Jayasundara had come to him for advice on the matter soon after Sirisena had made the offer. Fernando refused to advise him, given the sensitive nature of the proposal. “I told him that he should talk to his family members,” Fernando said.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Tells Presidential Commission of Inquiry that he was Unable to Implement 25 to 30 Key Decisions Due to the Interference of Former President Maithripala Sirisena’ »

“For a dignified solution to the Tamil national questione we must win over at least a sizeable section of the majority community. Without that, it is not achievable. Certainly not achievable if we keep antagonising them and heightening their own fears”-TNA Spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran MP

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA), that chiefly represented the Tamils living in the north and east in the post-war decade, suffered a huge setback in the August general elections, losing six seats in Parliament. With the Alliance’s presence in the legislature having weakened and the Rajapaksas back in power at the Centre, that too with a thumping two-thirds, what are the prospects for TNA’s long-standing demand for a political solution? Alliance spokesman and Jaffna MP M.A. Sumanthiran weighs in…

The TNA has suffered a huge setback in the August parliamentary elections, and has ceded ground to both, hard-line Tamil nationalists and allies of the Rajapaksa government. What are the Alliance’s reflections?

It is a very serious setback. We have been reduced from 16 to 10 seats in parliament. This is not very different to the local authority election results of February 2018.

One of the primary reasons is that we supported the [Sirisena-Wickremesinghe] government in office from 2015 to 2019. The expectations of the people were very high then. They hoped that all their problems will be fully resolved during that period. Although there was substantial progress in most matters, all the issues [pending since the war ended] were not fully resolved. I think there was a lot of disappointment over that fact.

Even the political solution, which is a historic demand of the Tamil people, did not materialise by way of a new constitution that was promised. We made great progress on that front too, but finally the question is whether it was achieved or not. When it was not achieved, it was counted as a failure. In regard to the release of military-held lands, there were considerable gains. But overall, since the expectations were not met, we also suffered an anti-incumbency sentiment, although we sat in opposition right through that time.

Secondly, our party has been mainly, or one could say solely, looking for a political solution. We have been disregarding a lot of economic issues faced by our people. In that last five years we did try to address some of those economic issues, because the government in office was favourable to us, yet the people did not actually see the benefits realised. With the political solution also evading us, people who hoped that at least their economic lot would be made better were disappointed. There may be other reasons also, but I think primarily these are the two reasons that explain why we ceded ground on both sides – the hard-line Tamil nationalist side, who are looking for a final solution to the Tamil national question, and to government allies, who appealed to some of the people looking for better economic prospects.

Continue reading ‘“For a dignified solution to the Tamil national questione we must win over at least a sizeable section of the majority community. Without that, it is not achievable. Certainly not achievable if we keep antagonising them and heightening their own fears”-TNA Spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran MP’ »

President Rajapaksa makes it clear that he is the leader of the Government and the Pohottuva. Mahinda will remain where he is and Gotabaya will be the ruler of the Rajavasala and the Lankadveepa.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

All this unwanted fuss about the author or drafter of the 20A has led to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making it clear he is the leader of the Government and the Pohottuva. Let’s have no doubts about it anymore. Let’s stop asking about any role that the Justice Minister Ali Sabry or Law Pundit and Education Minister G. L. Peiris had in this.

The five-member Cabinet Committee appointed by PM Mahinda Rajapaksa has also been pushed aside. This clearly shows the declining power-position of Rajavasala Mahinda himself. We are in the reality of a rising authoritarian rule, with a path to what the Pohottuva champions consider to be a “Democratic Dictatorship”.

It has all to do with the two-thirds majority in parliament. We are moving to the total sovereignty of the people-elected President … the stuff of a monarchy of the past that is being revived more than 70 years after independence from British colonial rule.

The assurance of Democracy in the role of the 20A comes from our acting Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Dayani Mendis, who told the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council that 20A would be discussed and debated in Parliament, following a complete democratic process, where all the stakeholders would have the opportunity to present their views.

What she did not say was that the final decision lay with the ruling majority of the Rajavasala Power Holders. She also said that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s comments on the 20A were unwarranted and pre-judgmental, based on presumption. What a wonderful diplomatic analysis of a rising threat to Democracy in this island.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa makes it clear that he is the leader of the Government and the Pohottuva. Mahinda will remain where he is and Gotabaya will be the ruler of the Rajavasala and the Lankadveepa.’ »