Mangala, my dear, loyal and trusted friend, Rest peacefully. Your vision will be fulfilled. We will finish the job. We will never let you down

By

Krishantha Prasad Cooray

The loss of Mangala Samaraweera is a devastating blow to statesmanship in Sri Lanka. In the words of theologian James Freeman Clarke, “the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.”

In that way, Mangala always put the truth and his moral convictions, his principles, before any election. Despite being a master political tactician instrumental in bringing three of the last four presidents into office, Mangala always thought first about the people of Sri Lanka, and second about politics and how to win elections.

He was never afraid to admit when he was wrong, nor was he shy to voice an opinion that may have been unpopular or politically courageous. Just weeks before he died, he told the public that as bad a state as the country is in today, he personally accepts responsibility for his own mistakes that contributed to our country’s plight. That calibre of sincere introspection is unheard of in Sri Lankan politics.

Continue reading ‘Mangala, my dear, loyal and trusted friend, Rest peacefully. Your vision will be fulfilled. We will finish the job. We will never let you down’ »

Mangala gave us hope of a more enlightened, kinder Sri Lanka. What will we do with that hope? Will we let it turn to despair?


By

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva

A big tree has fallen. What are the consequences?

Mangala went out on a high. A month ago, on 25 July, he had that news conference at Freedom Hub, surrounded by young people. On that day and in the subsequent media interviews, he said what he believed and felt, without compromise.

Back in 2020, when he was contemplating withdrawing from the contesting the General Election, I recall telling him the cameras will not be there for one who is not in politics. He disagreed, saying that he would be in politics, just not electoral politics. The media attention that he drew following the launch of the Radical Centre proved he was right, and I was wrong.

I worked closely with him on telecom reforms and on managing the civil conflict back in 1998-’99. Politics is the art of the possible. He was a practical politician. A doer.

As a liberal, he was in the minority in all the Cabinets served in and in all the political parties he worked in. That required compromise. But his compromises went only so far. Beyond a point, he did not yield. In these last months he spoke freely, without worrying about how the President or Prime Minister or the majority of the party leadership would perceive his comments. That would have been liberating.

Continue reading ‘Mangala gave us hope of a more enlightened, kinder Sri Lanka. What will we do with that hope? Will we let it turn to despair?’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Regarded the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Samagi Jana Balawegaya as “two sides of the same coin” and stated Sri Lanka is “desperately gasping for a total U-turn” in policy direction.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away on Tuesday at a private hospital here due to COVID-19 related complications. File | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka was under treatment for COVID-19.

Mangala Samaraweera, a former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka and a notable advocate of liberalism from the country’s dominant Sinhala-Buddhist polity, passed away at a private hospital in Colombo after treatment for COVID-19-related complications failed. He was 65.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Regarded the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Samagi Jana Balawegaya as “two sides of the same coin” and stated Sri Lanka is “desperately gasping for a total U-turn” in policy direction.’ »

“You have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on.Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.”-Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

(TEXT Of MESSAGE FROM FORMER PRESIDEN CHANDRIKA BANDARAAIKE KUMARATUNGAON THE PASSING AWAY OF FORMER MINISTER MR. MANGALA SAMARAWEERA)

Mangala, my dearest friend, brother, comrade-in-arms.

On this dark day, you have lost your battle for life.

Your family and friends fought with you, cried and prayed to keep you alive. We too lost this battle.

But you have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on. The battle we fought side by side, will live forever.

Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘“You have not died, Mangala. Your exceptional Vision for Lanka and the world lives on.Dearest Mangala, you will live with every battle waged to build a better Sri Lanka.”-Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’ »

Tamil National Alliance expresses deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of former Minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera who remained a truthful friend of the Tamil People.

(Text of a Media Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance)

Tamil National Alliance express our deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of Mr. Magala Samaraweera, former minister and truthful friend of the Tamil People.

Mr. Samaraweera entered politics in 1989, and became a minister in 1994 in the government of President Chandrika Bandaranayeka Kumarasthunga and lead the “Sudu Nelum” movement campaigning for a political solution to the Tamil National Question.

He continued with his Anti – communalist stand right until his death.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance expresses deep sorrow at the untimely passing away of former Minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera who remained a truthful friend of the Tamil People.’ »

Visionary Leader Mangala Samaraweera Afflicted with COVID Passes Away at Private Hospital in Colombo; Outspoken Politician From Matara was a True Patriot and Radical Centrist

Sri Lanka’s former finance minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away Tuesday ( Aug 24) in hospital where he was being treated for Coronavirus, a coordinator for the former minister said.

The 65-year-old Samaraweera contracted the virus earlier this month and was receiving intensive care unit (ICU) treatment at the Lanka Hospital, despite being fully vaccinated.

When unconfirmed reports surfaced last week that Samaraweera passed, sources close to him said he was in fact on the mend and was responding well to treatment.

Continue reading ‘Visionary Leader Mangala Samaraweera Afflicted with COVID Passes Away at Private Hospital in Colombo; Outspoken Politician From Matara was a True Patriot and Radical Centrist’ »

Mangala Samaraweera is firm in his conviction that he should move away from the extremely rotten old political culture and commit himself to the cause of building a new mass political movement aimed at rescuing the country.

By

Victor Ivan

The decision reached by Mangala Samaraweera who is considered a colourful, controversial, daring and creative political figure in the old or the traditional political landscape of Sri Lanka, which is currently on the verge of decay and death, to abandon the course of traditional politics and choose to tread on an alternative path can be seen as a silver line in the pitch darkness.

Despite the serious cardiac condition suffered a few days ago, I am bound to produce this brief note analysing the factors that led to Mangala Samaraweera’s sudden change of political course to tread on a new path.

He had several rounds of discussions with me before he chose this new path. He was aware that I was an activist of the Punarudaya movement when he had discussions with me. We both had longstanding acquaintances, and there were occasions when we had even entered into heated arguments in public debates on various issues of public importance. For some time we did not have close contact, which resumed during the latter part of the regime of the previous Government.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera is firm in his conviction that he should move away from the extremely rotten old political culture and commit himself to the cause of building a new mass political movement aimed at rescuing the country.’ »

Mangala Samaraweera – What Our Nation Almost Lost!

By Sharmini Nagahawatte Serasinghe

It took Mangala Samaraweera to stare death in the face, for many to realise what the nation was about to lose.

Mangala has quit parliamentary politics for good, and nothing and no one can make him change his mind. Hence there is no necessity for any politician, be they in Government, Opposition or any other political party to feel threatened by him.

When I last spoke to Mangala, shortly before he came down with the Delta variant of COVID -19, despite receiving both Pfizer vaccines, I asked him if he would consider contesting the next Presidential election. He looked me directly in the eye and said firmly, “NO”!

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera – What Our Nation Almost Lost!’ »

Was the Failure to Procure Indian Vaccine Early at Cheaper Cost due to Hidden Pressures to Obtain Larger Quantities of More Expensive Chinese Vaccine ?


By

Dr.Gehan Gunatilleke

Vaccines play a vital role in the battle against COVID-19. Countries that have vaccinated a majority of their population are doing better compared to their situation prior to vaccination. The rationale for swiftly and efficiently vaccinating a population seems self-evident.

Sri Lanka’s recent rise in COVID-related deaths would hopefully fall as the number of people fully vaccinated rise. That’s the prevailing theory: if a country vaccinates its population, the death toll will begin to fall. In this context, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has quite rightly called for the prioritisation of vaccination in the country.

According to a dashboard maintained by the Presidential Secretariat (as of 18 August 2021), the population over 30 years is 11,496,906, and ‘100%’ of these people have received at least one dose. The Dashboard also confirms that only 43% of persons over 30 years of age have been fully vaccinated.

What can this data mean? On the one hand, it is possible that the ‘100%’ figure depicted in the Dashboard is somewhat misleading, as some people over 30 years are still in the process of receiving their first dose. In truth, what the Dashboard states is that 11,963,739 people have received one dose. A vast majority of these people are likely to be over 30 years, but some persons (including frontline workers and students traveling overseas) are likely to be under 30 years.

On the other hand, this data, when read alongside data on COVID-related deaths, signals that delays in vaccinating people are costing Sri Lankan lives. Those who received just one dose are still dying, because one dose is not good enough to ward off the Delta variant of COVID-19. Data released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health this week actually confirmed that during the week ending 13 August 2021, 215 people who died of COVID had actually received the first dose of a vaccine.1 That figure amounted to 25% of the total number of deaths.

So we now know for certain that vaccines save lives. But we also learn that one dose of a vaccine is not always adequate. So a delay in fully vaccinating the population can cost lives.

Continue reading ‘Was the Failure to Procure Indian Vaccine Early at Cheaper Cost due to Hidden Pressures to Obtain Larger Quantities of More Expensive Chinese Vaccine ?’ »

The Cardinal may be advised to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Govt which appears to have lost all sense and reason.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The black flags that the head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church has requested his flock to hoist this Saturday in silent protest against the Government’s inaction to secure justice for hundreds of innocents killed in jihadist attacks on Sri Lankans (2019), should be fluttering aloft the houses of all people, Buddhists, Catholics, Christians, Hindus and Muslims.


A cross on each door

That should be in protest, for not only what this Government has done but also for what all Governments have done, in laying waste this beautiful and bountiful land. This is not limited to the Easter Sunday barbarities, we must reiterate. In medieval times, when the bubonic plague swept across Europe, killing tens of millions, the houses of those who were struck by the curse of the Black Death were marked by a large cross, painted in either red or black. It is time that we followed this practice, to mark the Black Death of a political plague that is as potent as any natural born killer in destroying lives.

Perhaps this is what the Roman Catholic Cardinal should have called upon the populace to mark. The good Cardinal too himself may be advised, in classic Bibilical traditions, to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Government which appears to have lost all sense and reason. This is nothing remarkable. It was entirely predictable that any of our political regimes, given half a chance, would lose its head if conferred with extraordinary power.

Continue reading ‘The Cardinal may be advised to wear sackcloth and ashes to atone for the reprehensible part he played in ushering in a two-thirds majority for this Govt which appears to have lost all sense and reason.’ »

When the Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown was made to “Disappear” in Jaffna Fifteen Years Ago.

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is a modified version of an article written for “The Sunday Leader” on September 3rd 2006. It is being reproduced here to denote the 15th anniversary of the “disappearance”of Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown who went “missing”in Jaffna on August 20th 2006)

Members of the Catholic faith in Jaffna were greatly agitated in the last week of August 2006 when it became known that the Diocesan hierarchy was actively considering the recalling of priests from parishes in problematic, insecure areas. If the decision was implemented Catholic priests from the Northern Islands, Vadamaratchy East and some parts of Thenmaratchy would have left their churches and taken up residence temporarily at Colombothurai in Jaffna. The “shepherds” would have been absent when their respective “flocks” were undergoing great harship and fear.

Fr. Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown

Naturally the Catholic laity of those areas were agitated and upset. So too were other parishioners in other areas of Jaffna. There was much anguish and tears. “Do not desert us at our time of peril and need” many sobbed and wailed. Emotional appeals were made to Jaffna Caholic Bishop Rt. Rev Dr.Thomas Soundranayagam. The prelate took the feelings of his flock into consideration and changed his mind. The endangered flocks got their shepherds back.

What made Bishop Soundranayagam contemplate such a drastic measure in the first place? It was out of a sense of concern and anxiety over the safety of Catholic clergymen in Jaffna. Given the uncertain and unsafe conditions prevalent in Jaffna the Bishop felt that his priests should not be exposed to danger unnecessarily. He was particularly worried about the younger priests and those in charge of churches facing insecurity and security force related problems in unsafe areas.
Continue reading ‘When the Tamil Catholic Priest Fr.Jim Brown was made to “Disappear” in Jaffna Fifteen Years Ago.’ »

Over 60 Killed and More than 200 Injured in Aerial Attack by Sri Lankan Airforce on Tamil Civilians in Vallipunam 15 Years ago

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj


(At least 60 were killed and 155 seriously injured on August 14th 2006 when the Sri Lankan airforce launched an aeial attack on Tamil civilians in the Vallipunam area of Mullaitheevu district. This article was written by me about the incident then for “The Sunday Leader” newspaper edited by the late Lasantha Wickrematunge. It is being reproduced here without any changes to mark the 15th anniversary of the massacre on August 14th 2015…………………DBSJ)

Aerial Terror results in massacre of innocents

August 19th, 2006


by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

It was 6.40 – 45 am on Monday August 14th 2006.

Four Israeli built K-fir bombers appeared suddenly on the skies above a place called “Vallipunam” in Mullaitheevu district in the North – Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It is believed that the planes had started out from Trincomalee and flown north over the sea and turned westwards towards Mullaitheevu .

The air craft were spot on. Instead of hovering in the air for a while as most bombers do before releasing their deadly cargo these planes set about their murderous task quickly and precisely. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse these agents of death and destruction dropped their bombs below.

With each K- fir dropping four bombs a total of sixteen was dropped in a matter of minutes. There was a cluster of small buildings and a large number of human beings on the ground. Some of the bombs hit the groups of humans with pin point precision while others hit buildings and clumps of trees. People apparently were the prize target while buildings and trees “collateral damage”.

Except for one which failed to explode the other fifteen wreaked havoc. The human targets most of them teen – aged girls ran in fear seeking refuge as aerial terror rained on them. Frenzied pandemonium reigned.The planes that dropped the bombs were also visually recording the desperate scene below with their sophisticated visual recording equipment.The four planes then turned back after accomplishing their mission of aerial terror.

Continue reading ‘Over 60 Killed and More than 200 Injured in Aerial Attack by Sri Lankan Airforce on Tamil Civilians in Vallipunam 15 Years ago’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith States at Press Conference that the Directorate of Military Intelligence had had dealings with Zaharan Hashim’s outfit and Wonders What Those Dealings Were

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church, has demanded an explanation on an alleged attempt to pin the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Speaking to reporters in Colombo on Friday (13), the cardinal claimed that a military intelligence officer referred to as ‘Sonic’ had used one ‘Zaharan of Matale’ to call an unspecified person in Indonesia to “force” ISIS to claim responsibility for the attack.

“Why was that? We don’t know if it was an attempt to prevent the discovery of who was actually behind the attack. Why was there that much interest in putting it on the shoulder of ISIS?” said Ranjith.

“That means someone here tried to hide it,” he added.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith States at Press Conference that the Directorate of Military Intelligence had had dealings with Zaharan Hashim’s outfit and Wonders What Those Dealings Were’ »

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Urges Gotabaya Govt Not to Recognize the Taliban led Administration in Afghanistan;Close Down Diplomatic Mission in Kabul and Relocate it Elsewhere in the Region Suggests Former PM

By

Yohan Perera

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today urged the government not to recognise the Taliban administration and to shut down the Sri Lankan mission in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Continue reading ‘UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Urges Gotabaya Govt Not to Recognize the Taliban led Administration in Afghanistan;Close Down Diplomatic Mission in Kabul and Relocate it Elsewhere in the Region Suggests Former PM’ »

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is a humiliation for India and a Costly victory for Pakistan- The Economist


It was only a question of time before Kabul fell, says A.S. Dulat, a former head of India’s top spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, speaking from Delhi. The only surprise was the speed of the Taliban’s advance, concurs the ex-boss of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence, or isi, Asad Durrani, speaking from Islamabad.

The two old warriors nod in unison. Despite lifetimes spent jousting in the shadow war between India and Pakistan, the former foes seem happy to agree on the inevitability of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. What they do not tell their Indian interviewer is how sharply different the implications of the change are for each of the South Asian rivals.

For India, the house-of-cards collapse of the 20-year-old Afghan democracy represents a strategic setback and a stinging humiliation. Since 2001 India has spent a non-trivial $3bn or so to bolster the American-installed regime. It built roads, dams, power lines, clinics and schools across the country. It trained Afghan officers, including women, in its military academies. It gave scholarships to thousands. India even presented a fancy new parliament, complete with fountains and a giant bronze dome. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, himself inaugurated it in 2015.

Besides losing all its investment in a secular, democratic Afghanistan, India has also lost strategic leverage.

Continue reading ‘The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is a humiliation for India and a Costly victory for Pakistan- The Economist’ »

Sri Lanka Faces Danger of Losing GSP+Facility as well as Export Market to Europe Warns Colombo’s Ambassador to the European Union Grace Asirwatham

By Charumini de Silva

In a critical evaluation of Sri Lanka›s trade to the European Union (EU), a top diplomat last week said exports to the region were in an unfavourable position and warned that Sri Lanka would not only lose its GSP+ facility, but also the market, as a result of their non-compliance of international conventions.

Senior career diplomat Grace Asirwatham, who is the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the EU, pulled no punches while delivering the keynote address at a webinar titled ‘GSP+: Past, Present, Future’ last week. It was organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the Colombo Chamber of Commerce.

“The GSP+ mechanism doesn’t apply automatically, rather the countries need to apply to benefit from the trade preferences. To be eligible, countries need to fulfil certain criteria. Failing to comply with 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, environmental protection standards, international standards, good governance, and sustainable development will not only cost GSP+ but also trade to the region,” Asirwatham said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Faces Danger of Losing GSP+Facility as well as Export Market to Europe Warns Colombo’s Ambassador to the European Union Grace Asirwatham’ »

“I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Letter to President Rajapaksa


(Text of Letter Sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothyam Sampanthan on August 14th 2021)

R Sampanthan
Member of Parliament
B12, Mahagamasegara Mawatha,
Colombo 7

14th August 2021

His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
The Presidential Secretariat,
Colombo 1.

Your Excellency,< /em>

The New Constitution

By letter dated 07/06/2021 I was informed that your Excellency and the Tamil National Alliance would meet on 16th of June 2021 at 4pm at the Presidential Secretariat. On the 15th evening I was informed by telephone that the meeting was postponed and that an early date would be given for the meeting soon, this was confirmed by a further telephone call the next morning. I have subsequently

received two letters informing me that the said meeting would be soon re-fixed for an early date. I have received no further communication. I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.

May I state that the following, our country since its independence has thus far had three different Constitutions.

1). The Constitution framed before independence by the Government in the United Kingdom based on their own constitutional practices.

This has now changed substantially. Wide powers have been devolved to both Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which are historically inhabited by Scottish and Irish people with their own independent identities. Each of these territories now have their own independent legislatures and Executives Chief Minister and Cabinet of Ministers. They are governed within the frame work of the United Kingdom as per the democratic verdicts of their respective people delivered at regular democratic processes. This is what the Tamil people with their own independent identity have claimed in their areas of historical habitation within a united undivided Sri Lanka through their democratic verdicts for over the past six decades.

Continue reading ‘“I hereby inform your Excellency, that whenever Your Excellency so decides, we will meet with Your Excellency.” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan in Letter to President Rajapaksa’ »

Afghanistan’s Proud History of Militarily Resisting and Defeating Invasions By Major Powers Such as Britain, Soviet Union and the USA.

By P.K.Balachandran

Through sheer grit and a fierce commitment to their tribal and Islamic values, the Afghans have frustrated a series of imperialistic attempts to dominate them. Between 1842 and 2021, the British, Tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia and the US had tried occupying Afghanistan to derive benefits from its strategic location in South and Central Asia. But their attempts had failed miserably.


British Blunder

The first major foreign debacle was in the first half of the 19th.Century. In 1839, the British, afraid of Tsarist Russia’s bid to take over Afghanistan, invaded the latter, deposed the pro-Russian King, Dost Mohamad, and put their proxy, Shuja Shah Durrani, in power. Thereafter, the majority of troops returned to India leaving about 16,000 to mop up resistance by Afghan tribesmen. By 1841, the British felt that they could not afford the campaign and stopped payments to local warlords, their henchmen. The cheated warlords promptly joined the insurgency led by Dost Mohammad’s son, Mohamad Akbar Khan.

In November 1841, the British political agent, Sir Alexander Burns, and his staff were killed by a mob in Kabul. Another senior diplomat, Sir William Hay Macnaghten, and three aides were killed while trying to negotiate safe passage for British imperial forces to India. The commander of the Kabul garrison, the elderly Maj.Gen. Lord Elphinstone eventually negotiated an agreement on January 1, 1842 with Akbar Khan. Khan guaranteed safe passage for the British-Indian force. Elphinstone agreed to leave most of his gunpowder reserves, the majority of his canons and a large number of muskets behind.

Continue reading ‘Afghanistan’s Proud History of Militarily Resisting and Defeating Invasions By Major Powers Such as Britain, Soviet Union and the USA.’ »

The Sri Lankan Govt response to Covid-19 has been so unenlightened that it’s clear it has come from a militarist regime which is led by a military mind.

By Rajpal Abeynayake

The vaccine has been mandated in this country for all intents and purposes, with the Army Commander stating that a vaccine certificate would be required for any person to visit a public place from 15 September. The futility of vaccine mandates and their odious nature was written about in this space last week, but here is more about the subject now that a mandate has been imposed.

Even in India, vaccine mandates have been frowned upon and Courts have intervened and stopped such odious practices. There is a judgement issued by the High Court of Meghalaya at Shillong, which among other things states: “Article 21 encompasses within its fold, right to health, as a fundamental right. By that same analogy, the right to healthcare, which includes vaccination, is a fundamental right.

However, vaccination by force or being made mandatory by adopting coercive methods, vitiates the very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it. It impinges on the fundamental right(s) as such, especially when it affects the right to means of livelihood which makes it possible for a person to live.”

This judgement handed down in a High Court in India makes clear that coercive methods of vaccinating people is a violation of basic rights. Yes, vaccinations are the need of the hour, but when the Army Commander of this country announces a clear mandate for vaccines, we are in dictatorship territory.

Continue reading ‘The Sri Lankan Govt response to Covid-19 has been so unenlightened that it’s clear it has come from a militarist regime which is led by a military mind.’ »

Trade Unions Collectively warn authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).

By

Azzam Ameen

The broad Trade Union (TU) alliance covering public, private and estate sectors have warned authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).

At a press conference held this evening, the TU alliance stated that all unions are ready for this effort as they do not want to allow for citizens who are not fully vaccinated to get unnecessarily exposed to the Covid-19 virus which will in turn result in the creation of another locally mutated variant.

A ten point plan has been proposed by the TU alliance, which the Government has been urged to follow so that a scientific and successful lockdown can be implemented.

Continue reading ‘Trade Unions Collectively warn authorities that if the Government does not lockdown the country by Friday (20), the TU alliance will declare a unilateral lockdown from Monday (23).’ »

President Rajapaksa Reshuffles Portfolios Among Cabinet Ministers GL, Dinesh, Keheliya,Pavithra,Dullas and Lokuge;Namal Gets Additional Ministry of Development coordination observation

By

Jamila Husain

Seven Ministers were handed new portfolios today in a cabinet reshuffle which got underway at the Presidential Secretariat a short while ago.

One of the notable changes was that of the Health Minister. Pavithra Wanniarachchi was sworn in as the Transport Minister while Keheliya Rambukwella was sworn in as the new Health Minister.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Reshuffles Portfolios Among Cabinet Ministers GL, Dinesh, Keheliya,Pavithra,Dullas and Lokuge;Namal Gets Additional Ministry of Development coordination observation’ »

It is this President and this Government alone that is responsible for avoidable deaths of Sri Lankans and for worse calamities that will inexorably follow.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Confounding its claim to an ancient and painfully established legal heritage of some note in South Asia, Sri Lanka is degenerating to a primordial nation-state, where the very meaning of ‘law’ is reduced to a farce.

Letters cannot restrict constitutional rights

Ad hoc statements of officials, from the Army Commander to the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) are fast replacing legal standards and even constitutional protections. Take the recent holding, quite correctly, by a magistrate’s court that a letter sent by the DGHS to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) cannot restrict the constitutional right to peaceful assembly of citizens. This was in response to the police using the letter by the DGHS to ask for a prohibition against activists protesting against salary injustices of teachers and principals.

Refusing, the court pointed to the constitutional right to assembly and association (Article 14 (1)(b) and (c)) which are limited only through legal restrictions. These have to ‘be prescribed by law’ in the interests of ‘public health,’ (Article 15 (7). Thus, ‘a letter by the DGHS’ does not amount to a legal restriction, the court reminded. In the wake of this ruling, the question that arises is simple. Did it really need the court to say this? Is this not a self obvious fact, evident to the police and indeed, to the DGHS who should have intervened far earlier?

Continue reading ‘It is this President and this Government alone that is responsible for avoidable deaths of Sri Lankans and for worse calamities that will inexorably follow.’ »

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekra Unaware of Training of Sri Lankan Police by Scotland Police Being Suspended Due to Alleged Human Rights Abuses by Lankan Cops

Scottish Police are reported to have put on hold an ongoing scheme to train Sri Lankan Police officers but is yet to officially inform the authorities in Colombo.

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said yesterday that he was unaware of reports that Police Scotland had put the long-running programme to train Sri Lankan police officers on hold.
The training programme was renewed again for two more years in January this year and was set to go on until 2023.

Continue reading ‘Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekra Unaware of Training of Sri Lankan Police by Scotland Police Being Suspended Due to Alleged Human Rights Abuses by Lankan Cops’ »

Remembering Ketheeswaran “Ketheesh” Loganathan on His 15th Death Anniversary

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Last week saw this column focusing on former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 12 August 2005.

This week will see this column focusing on well-known political activist Ketheeswaran Loganathan who was killed exactly one year after Kadirgamar’s death. Ketheeswaran Loganathan known as “Ketheesh” was shot dead by a Tiger assassin in Dehiwala on 12 August 2006. This article therefore will commemorate the 15th death anniversary of Ketheesh Loganathan.

Continue reading ‘Remembering Ketheeswaran “Ketheesh” Loganathan on His 15th Death Anniversary’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the Easter Sunday Suicide Bomb attackers.

By Krishan FrancisThe Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church said Friday that 25 people charged this week in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed 269 people could be “smaller fish,” and accused the government of still not taking steps to identify the true conspirators.

The head of the archdiocese of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the attackers.
He asked Catholics to raise black flags at their homes and on their vehicles as a mark of protest.

On Tuesday, the attorney general filed 23,270 charges against 25 people under the country’s anti-terrorism law. The charges include conspiring to murder, aiding and abetting, collecting arms and ammunition and attempted murder.

The attorney general also asked the chief justice to appoint a special three-member high court bench to hear the cases speedily.

“We don’t want to say the 25 persons are innocent, but we have a question whether this is an attempt to net the smaller fish and let the sharks go,” Ranjith said.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the president’s office has not answered questions he raised in a letter last month over allegations that officials in state intelligence agencies knew and met with the Easter Sunday Suicide Bomb attackers.’ »

Shelton Ranaraja Was Loved and Respected by the Tamil People

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Shelton Ranaraja known to many as “Shelly Aiya” passed away on August 11, 2011. Shelton or Shelly Aiya was a politician for whom I have the greatest respect. The lawyer who represented the Senkadagala constituency in the Sri Lankan Parliament for more than fifteen years was arguably the conscience – keeper of the Nation in his own modest way.

Shelton Ranaraja Was Loved and Respected by the Tamil People – by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

My regard and admiration for Shelton Ranaraja is mainly due to the fact that the former Deputy Minister of Justice was a courageous politician with enlightened principles. It was my privilege in 1981 to witness what was perhaps the finest moment in the life of Shelton Ranaraja when he voted against the no-confidence motion brought against the then opposition leader Appapillai Amirthalingam. It was an inspiring display of principled courage.

It is indeed a rare politician who is prepared to stand up against the majority of his or her political party for what one believes to be right. Shelton Ranaraja was such a person. This article is intended to honour and pay tribute to his memory on the occasion of his tenth death anniversary.

Punchi Banda Ranaraja

Shelton Ranaraja was born on November 3, 1926, at Ranwala in Kegalle. Shelton’s father, Punchi Banda Ranaraja was a land owner who took to politics and the law. Shelton’s father PB Ranaraja contested the State Council elections from the Galagedara constituency during British rule. He first contested the 1931 elections challenging the formidable PB Nugawela Dissawe. PB Ranaraja lost the election by 1,055 votes.

At the by-election held for Galagedara in 1934, PB Ranaraja was successful and won with a majority of 2,199. He was however defeated again at the 1936 State Council elections. EA Nugawela with 13,574 votes was the winner with a huge majority of 8,515. PB Ranaraja got only 5,959 votes.

PB Ranaraja tried his hand at electoral politics again after Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon gained independence from the British. He contested on the UNP ticket from Dambulla at the 1952 elections. He lost, getting only 2,897 votes. Thereafter he gave up electoral politics but served two terms as a UNP nominated Senator in the upper house.

Shelton Ranaraja (Nov 3, 1926 – Aug 11, 2011)

Interestingly PB Ranaraja took up legal studies late in life and qualified as a lawyer. In what is perhaps a unique record both Punchi Banda Ranaraja and his son Shelton Ranaraja took their oaths as lawyers together in 1949. In those pre-Attorney-at-law days the father practiced as an advocate while the son was a proctor.

Outstnding Sportsman

Shelton Ranaraja was a distinguished alumnus of Trinity College, Kandy and St.Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia (with a stint at STC Gurutalawa also I believe). He was an outstanding sportsman and won colours in Athletics, Cricket, Boxing and Swimming. Shelton played in the 1945 Royal-Thomian encounter. He also came first in the 400 metres event known as the 440-yard race in those days at the public schools sports meet.

Shelton continued to play cricket when he entered Law College and captained the team. He was a stylish batsman but was capable of wielding the willow like a cudgel when necessary. In short a “polladiya”. He continued to play cricket for a long time while at Kandy. He played in the local tournaments even when he was in his fifties. Once he scored a century after notching up half a century in years.

Ranaraja was the captain of the Kandy lawyers’ cricket eleven for many, many years. He also held the posts of Central Province Cricket Association president and Kandy District Cricket Association president for several years. In later life he turned to Golf from Cricket. During the twilight years of his life he kept fit by walking around the picturesque Kandy lake.

One of Kandy’s landmarks is the Bogambara stadium. There was a time when the rise of crass commercialism threatened its future as an arena for sports. It was Shelton Ranaraja who saved the stadium for sports by opposing it being used for carnivals and tamashas. Preventing the “carnivalisation” of Bogambara enabled it to be developed as a full fledged sports stadium.

After passing out from Law College, Shelton Ranaraja established a successful legal practice in Kandy. Shelton Ranaraja was well-known for his sartorial elegance. He was regarded as the most smartly dressed lawyer in Kandy. Shelton’s faithful office clerk or “Liyanamahathaya” Simon was a familiar figure in Kandy. He was called “Kota Simon” on account of his height and was like Shelton’s shadow.

Senkadagala constituency.

Shelton’s foray into parliamentary politics came in 1960 when he was elected MP of the newly carved out Senkadagala constituency. Although his family circle was staunchly UNP, Shelton contested on the Sri Lnka Freedom Party(SLFP) ticket in the July 1960 elections thus incurring the displeasure of several relatives. Noel Wimalasena of the UNP had won the March 1960 poll. The July 1960 election was a straight fight between Wimalasena of the UNP and Ranaraja of the SLFP. Initially Ranaraja squeaked through with 30 votes. Subsequently a challenge was mounted leading to a recount of votes. Shelton continued to retain his seat after the recount but his tally had decreased by five from 30 to 25.

A liberal democrat to the core, Shelton Ranaraja was most unhappy with the SLFP–LSSP government’s attempt to muzzle the press by taking over Lake House in December, 1964. CP de Silva crossed over with a group of 14 SLFP MP’s to the opposition and voted against the bill. Shelton was not among these 14 MP’s.Instead of planning beforehand and crossing over to the other side, Shelton Ranaraja dropped a bombshell by remaining on the treasury benches and voting against the bill. The bill was defeated by one vote leading to dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections in 1965. Shelton Ranaraja along with the other MP’s who voted against were expelled from the SLFP.

Shelton did not contest the March 1965 poll. Noel Wimalasena of the UNP was elected Senkadagala MP. Ranaraja then bade “au revoir” to active politics for a while and concentrated on his legal practice. But when JR Jayewardene took over the party in 1973 after the death of Dudley Senanayake, an invitation was extended to Shelton to return to politics and work in the UNP. He accepted and was appointed organizer for Senkadagala.In the 1977 elections Shelton Ranaraja’s formidable rival from the SLFP was Anuruddha Ratwatte, kinsman of the Bandaranaikes. Ranaraja obtained 17,972 (57.53%) to Ratwatte’s 12,381(39.63%).

The UNP led by Junius Richard Jayewardene swept the polls in July 1977 winning 141 of 168 seats. With the SLFP being reduced to eight seats, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) having 18 seats became the chief opposition party. Shelton Ranaraja was appointed deputy minister of justice, first under KW Devanayagam as minister and later under Nissanka Wijeratne. Though Shelton Ranaraja was of Cabinet-minister material, it is suspected that JR Jayewardene was wary of including him as a government minister because the Senkadagala MP was an uncontrollable maverick who only listened to the call of his conscienceShelton however served as Acting Justice Minister on several occasions.

No-Confidence Motion

Shelton Ranaraja’s fierce independence and political courage came to the fore in 1981 when he voted against the no-confidence motion brought in July 1981 against the then opposition leader Appapillai Amirthalingam of TULF by Govt MP’s. The TULF had given notice in Parliament of a vote of no-confidence against the government. The UNP regime retaliated by giving notice of a vote of no-confidence against the leader of the opposition. The proposal mooted by the then Panadura MP Dr. Neville Fernando was signed by 36 UNP parliamentarians. It was widely believed and subsequently confirmed by Dr. Fernando that the no-confidence motion project had the approval of President Jayewardene himself.

President Jayewardene was regarded as all powerful then. Although there were many decent,learned persons in the UNP parliamentary group none dared to defy the “almighty” JR. Hence the UNP to its eternal shame went along with what was perhaps an all-time low in parliamentary annals.The no-confidence motion by members of the Government against the leader of the opposition was taken up in Parliament on July 23 and 24, 1981.

At the outset, Amirthalingam wanted to explain his position and rose to his feet. Pandemonium erupted. Dr.Neville Fernando objected to Amirthalingam making a personal statement saying that he could do so only with the indulgence of the House. The Speaker Bakeer Markar upheld Dr. Fernando’s objection and refused to let Amirthalingam speak. At this point the TULF walked out in protest.

Thereafter SLFP deputy leader and Medawachchiya MP Maitripala Senanayake raised a point of order and submitted three reasons for the Speaker to rule the no-confidence motion out of order. “Firstly, the vote of no confidence on the leader of the opposition did not fall within the powers of parliament. It had not happened anywhere in the world.Secondly, the leader of the opposition held his office in accordance to parliamentary convention and he enjoyed the confidence of the members of the opposition. He need not enjoy the confidence of parliament or that of the government members. Thirdly, the motion, even if passed, would not bring any result. Amirthalingam would continue to be the leader of the opposition even after the passage of the motion.”

The Speaker Bakeer Markar evaded the issue and said Senanayake’s point of order had been raised too late. Therefore he could not stop the no-confidence motion being debated he said. The lone Communist party MP from Kalawana, Sarath Muttetuwegama chided the speaker saying that he was letting the Government MP’s run Parliament. The SLFP and CP members also walked out in protest.Thus Sri Lanka witnessed the bizarre event of the Government conducting a solo performance of debating a no-confidence motion against the Leader of the opposition while the entire opposition had walked out in protest.

Then followed a disgusting relay of speeches by UNP parliamentarians uttering dire threats of punishment to Amirthalingam and other TULF traitor-MP’s. No minister or deputy minister from the UNP spoke but the backbenchers had a field day.

The only minister who spoke during that debate was Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman, the minister of rural industrial development in the JRJ regime. Thondaman speaking in his capacity as leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) was very critical of the no-confidence motion. He also uttered a prophetic warning that undermining Amirthalingam would pave the way for an extremist type of Tamil politics to emerge.

Finally it was voting time on July 24. Thondaman abstained. There were 121 votes supporting the no-confidence motion with one solitary vote against the motion. The man who voted against the UNP motion was none other than the honourable member for Senkadagala, Shelton Ranaraja. By doing so he not only demonstrated that he was an honourable person but also helped salvage a little bit of honour at least for his party.

Shelton “Nadaraja”.

The “ginger group” of UNP backbenchers was annoyed and angry. All sorts of remarks like traitor and Tamil lover were made. One that still lingers in memory was the cheap pun on his name. There were shouts of Shelton “Nadaraja”. The first four letters of his surname were being replaced by four others to make his name sound Tamil as “Nadaraja” instead of the Sinhala “Ranaraja”.

Shelton Ranaraja’s principled stance on that fateful day was a quiet display of courageous defiance. Earlier when the UNP parliamentary group meeting was held before the debate, only Shelton Ranaraja had opposed the no-confidence motion against the opposition leader. Describing it as a travesty of democracy, Ranaraja said it should be abandoned. Otherwise he would have no other choice but to vote against it, he said.

President Jayewardene would have none of it. JR said that Shelton could either keep away at voting time or abstain from voting but must not go against the party by voting against it. Even Thondaman would abstain after speaking out against the motion, Jayewardene informed Ranaraja.

The Senkadagala MP kept quiet during the course of the debate on the no-confidence motion while Thondaman made a hard-hitting speech. When voting time came, the loquacious Thondaman abstained but the hitherto silent Ranaraja – who was also expected to abstain — did the unexpected. He voted against the motion openly defying President Jayewardene and the UNP parliamentarians. When JR questioned him about it later, Shelton replied that he had voted according to his conscience. Knowing Shelton’s brand of principled politics, JR Jayewardene let it go at that.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

This was not the first time that Shelton Ranaraja had dared to go against Junius Richard Jayewardene. It was in 1980 that the UNP government passed legislation depriving former Prime Minister and SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights. Shelton (though a deputy minister) was present at the Cabinet meeting that preceded the move in his capacity as acting minister of Justice. He opposed the taking away of Sirima’s civic rights at the cabinet conclave.

A seemingly bemused JR smiled wryly at Shelton and quipped, “you seem to be very fond of the lady.” Shelton replied “ I am not fond of any personalities. I care only for my conscience”. Later on JR told Shelton to keep away at voting time if his conscience troubled him. Shelton did so in 1980. However in the case of the no-confidence motion, Shelton went against JR’s wishes boldly and voted against it.

The stature and image of Shelton Ranaraja went up in the eyes of all decent people in Sri Lanka after the NCM episode. The Tamils in particular were elated. To the end of his days, Shelton Ranaraja always enjoyed wide popularity among the Tamil people. Ranaraja also entertained many visitors from the North at his Kandy residence after this vote.

The infamous referendum was held by JR in 1982. Ranaraja was opposed to it in principle as he felt an extension of Parliament by another term without elections was anti-democratic. He refrained from personally participating in propaganda meetings espousing the “lamp” symbol. Though he did not canvass for or against, Shelton told people who approached him to vote according to their conscience.

Anti-Tamil Violence

When the July 1983 anti-Tamil violence erupted Ranaraja acted with forethought and got all the thugs and hoodlums in Kandy locked up by the Police. Kandy enjoyed some tranquility initially even as Colombo was burning. Sadly Ranaraja’s orders were countermanded by the then powerful minister of Industries and Scientific affairs, Cyril Mathew who got all those locked up by Ranaraja released. Within hours Kandy too started burning. A distraught Ranaraja lamented on this situation to journalists later blaming Mathew.

The twin massacres of 52 Tamil political detainees at Welikada — 35 on July 25 and 17 on July 27 — concerned the Justice Ministry directly as the prisons department was under its purview. When efforts were underway by the defence establishment to do away with the bodies, the Justice Ministry intervened and enabled judicial inquests to be held. Deputy Justice Minister Shelton Ranaraja and Justice Ministry Secretary Mervyn Wijesinghe were greatly instrumental in this.

Shelton Ranaraja ~ Early years

The LTTE attack on the sacred Bo Tree and the massacre of civilians in Anuradhapura on May 14, 1985 resulted in widespread anger and fear in many parts of the country. A delegation of Sinhala citizens went to Shelton Ranaraja and urged that the Tamils in Kandy be expelled as a precaution. Shelton refused point blank and candidly told them that their duty was to protect the Tamil minority living in their midst instead of driving them away.

Goodwill Mission to North

The 1987 Indo-Lanka accord and the ushering in of “peace” was welcomed by Shelton Ranaraja. A lull in violence prevailed between July 29 to October 10, 1987. Shelton Ranaraja despite being a member of the government got involved in a mission of goodwill to the North from the South. A group of Sinhalese mainly consisting of medical personnel undertook a peace and reconciliation mission to Jaffna in September 1987. Among those in this mission were Dr. Sunil Ratnapriya of the GMOA, Fr. Yohan Devananda of “Devasarana” in Ibbagamuwe and of course Deputy Justice Minister Shelton Ranaraja in his private capacity.

“Permission” to visit Jaffna was sought and obtained from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) then ruling the roost in the peninsula. This Sinhala goodwill delegation comprised people who recognized the tragic plight of the Tamil people and supported the justice of the Tamil cause. Their mission to the North was to establish better understanding and amity with the Tamil people. Yet they had a nasty experience in Jaffna.

After travelling extensively throughout the Jaffna Peninsula and meeting people from different orgnizations, the Southern delegation returned to Colombo in two vehicles. They passed through several LTTE posts along the Jaffna–Kandy road or A-9 highway. An LTTE vehicle kept following them at a distance. The LTTE vehicle overtook them shortly after they passed Pallai.

When the Southern group reached Iyakkachchi about four miles away from Elephant Pass they found the Tiger vehicle parked by the side of the road. About six LTTE cadres with firearms and grenades stopped them. The passengers were ordered to get out with a few being pulled out roughly. Then the Tigers took over both vehicles with things inside and turned back towards Jaffna. The Southern goodwill mission people had to walk two miles on the road towards Elephant pass. Then a south bound bus stopped and they got in and reached the Elephant Pass army camp safely.

Declined North -East Governor Offer

Shelton Ranaraja was deeply affected by this incident. When I spoke to him about this he appeared to be very sad but not very angry or embittered. But his impression of the LTTE as a disciplined movement fighting for freedom had been shattered. He was also deeply disillusioned about the prospects for a lasting peace. It was this perhaps which led to his declining an offer to be the first governor of the temporarily merged North-Eastern province under the Indo-Lanka accord. A. Amirthalingam and R. Sampanthan of the TULF had recommended him to President Jayewardene who consented to the suggestion. But when JR wanted to designate Shelton s Governor, he refused the offer.

Furthermore Ranaraja also demanded after 1988 July that President Jayewardene should dissolve the “long”Parliament of 11 years (1977-88) and hold fresh electioms to the legislature. After arguing strongly for speedy dissolution he resigned his acting minister of Justice Post. This move by Shelton was hailed by many and increasd pressure on the UNP government.

The presidency of JR Jayewardene came to an end in 1988. He was succeeded by Ranasinghe Premadasa. Parliamentary elections under the new proportional representation scheme were scheduled for early 1989. The UNP hierarchy insisted that those seeking nomination on the party ticket should send in applications to be appointed as organizers of an electoral division. Shelton Ranaraja protested saying it was degrading and an insult for an incumbent MP to do so. Premadasa contacted Ranaraja and asked him to apply like all the other sitting MP’s. Shelton however refused to relent. As a result he did not contest the 1989 polls.

Ranaraja retired from an active political life thereafter. He devoted his time to his family of wife and five daughters and to law, cricket and social service. He gave much of his time for social work and free legal aid. In 2001, Shelton served in the panel of the Human Rights Commission in Kandy without receiving any payment. He inquired into over 100 complaints within a period of eight months but when he discovered that recommendations made after the inquiry were not being implemented, he resigned from this panel.

Chandra Ranaraja nee Mahadiulwewa

Wedding Day ~ Shelton & Chandra Ranaraja

Shelton Ranaraja took a backseat and began supporting his wife Chandra in playing a pivotal role in Kandy politics. Chandra Ranaraja nee Mahadiulwewa hailed from Mahadiulwewa in the Anuradhapura district. She came from a UNP family. Her father SH Mahadiulwewa contested the Kalawewa electorate on the UNP ticket and was elected MP in 1947 and 1952. Chandra Mahadiulwewa entered the Peradeniya University and graduated in 1961. She was teaching at Holy Cross in Anuradhapura when she married Shelton Ranaraja. He was then the SLFP Senkadagala MP. After marriage she relocated to Kandy and taught at the Kandy Girls High school.

Five “Golden Flowers”

Chandra Ranaraja gave up teaching after the birth of their five children. The Ranarajas had five daughters — Premila, Aruni, Siromi, Shamila and Anjali. Siromi and Shamila were twins. The “fair and lovely” Ranaraja girls were the toast of Kandy in their youth. Young bucks dubbed them the, “five golden flowers”. Shelton and Chandra doted on their daughters.

Chandra who actively canvassed for her husband in the 1977 hustings began to get involved in Kandy municipal politics after their children grew up. She served as municipal councillor, Deputy Mayor and then finally became Kandy’s first woman Mayor. Chandra Ranaraja was also a member of the UNP working committee. Shelly was strongly supportive of his wife in her political career. She passed away in March 2016.

Loved His Hometown Kandy

Shelton RanarajaHe retired as a lawyer in 1999 after practising for 50 years at the Bar. He devoted his life to social service in Kandy thereafter. Shelton Ranaraja loved his hometown, Kandy. He was fond of sitting on the balcony at his home and to gaze upon the panoramic view of the town with its lake and the Temple of the Tooth. In the evenings he would walk with the aid of a walking stick around the Kandy lake clad in a pair of boxer shorts, tee-shirt and a hat. He also sported a pony-tail.

Chandra Ranaraja & Shelton Ranaraja ~ During a travel abroad

As the years progressed, Shelton Ranaraja’s health too regressed. He was afflicted with cancer which affected him steadily. There came a stage when he would lament, “I won the 440 yards race those days but now I cant walk even 10 yards.”

Even as death drew nearer all members of his family – daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren gathered at his residence. They were all by his bedside in a private hospital as Shelton spoke to each one. Finally he called out to his wife Chandra, held her hand and whispered softly, “Amma, I need to go”. Those were the last words of Shelton Ranaraja. He passed away on August 11, 2011 at the age of 85.

“Shelly Aiya”

Shelton Ranaraja’s earthly remains were kept at his residence in Rajapihilla Mawatte, Kandy for people to pay their respects to their beloved “Shelly Aiya”.. The cremation took place on August 13 at Mahaiyawa. Large crowds gathered to bid a final farewell to this upright man of the people.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

This is an enhanced version of an article written for the “DBS Jeyaraj Column” in the “Daily Mirror” of August 7th 2021.It can be accessed here

https://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Shelly-Aiya-Courageous-Politician-with-Enlightened-Principles/231-217752

The finding of Buddhist places in the Jaffna peninsula creates tension because Sinhalese Equate Buddhism as Being Exclusively Sinhala While ​forgetting that the majority of Tamils were Buddhists at one tim

By P.K.Balachandran

Unsustainable claims put forward by the Sinhalese and the Tamils on language, religion and ethnicity, have muddied Sri Lankan politics in the post-independence era.

The Sinhalese loudly proclaim that Buddhism is quintessentially and exclusively, a “Sinhala” religion. The Tamils, on the other hand, claim with equal vehemence, that they have always been unalloyed Hindus, who had never ever had anything to do with Buddhism, which they identify with “Sinhala hegemony.”

Sinhala-Buddhist radicals claim that Buddhist archaeological sites in the Tamil-dominated Northern and Eastern Provinces are relics of a Sinhala-Buddhist past over there, and therefore, the Sinhala’s ownership of those lands should be retrieved.

The Tamils, on the other hand, feel that these archaeological findings will go against their claim on the lands in question as they too identify Buddhist relics with the Sinhalese and see the discovery of such relics as a threat to their existence.

In some cases they have reportedly destroyed the relics forcing the government to think of ways of protecting them. In May 2020, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa formed a Presidential Task Force under the Defense Secretary to conduct a comprehensive survey of archaeological sites in the East and to take measures to protect them as several parties had voiced their concern regarding the destruction of historical monuments. Significantly, the Task Force was wholly Sinhala- Buddhist.

Continue reading ‘The finding of Buddhist places in the Jaffna peninsula creates tension because Sinhalese Equate Buddhism as Being Exclusively Sinhala While ​forgetting that the majority of Tamils were Buddhists at one tim’ »

Vijaya and Chandrika Kumaratung’s only Son Vimukthi States Clearly that he has”no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics”; requests Sri Lankan media and public to respect his privacy.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s son Vimukthi Kumaratunge said he had no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics and refuted recent media reports of him entering the local political arena.

He said in a statement that he appealed to everyone to disregard any statement alleging his aspirations to become a Sri Lankan politician.

Continue reading ‘Vijaya and Chandrika Kumaratung’s only Son Vimukthi States Clearly that he has”no intention whatsoever of engaging in Sri Lankan Politics”; requests Sri Lankan media and public to respect his privacy.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa likely to reshuffle Cabinet with Key changes to Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Education, Media, and Power.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to reshuffle the Cabinet with changes likely to key Ministries, including Foreign Affairs and Health.

The others set to undergo portfolio changes include Education, Tourism, Power, and Media, the Daily FT learns.

Education Minister G.L. Peiris is slated to be the new Foreign Minister while Dinesh Gunawardena, who currently holds the post, is tipped to be made the Minister of Higher Education.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa likely to reshuffle Cabinet with Key changes to Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Education, Media, and Power.’ »

Attorney-General Files Indictments Against 25 Persons for Alleged Involvement in the Easter Sunday Bombings Conspiracy; Seeks Trial at bar Proceedings to be instituted by the Chief Justice to go into the 23,270 Charges filed

By

Azzam Ameen

Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam has sent indictments to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya this afternoon (10) seeking the appointment of a Trial-at-Bar against 25 suspects indicted for conspiracy over the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

According to reliable sources, The Morning learns that the suspects are to be tried before Court for 23,270 charges consisting of 9 volumes.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-General Files Indictments Against 25 Persons for Alleged Involvement in the Easter Sunday Bombings Conspiracy; Seeks Trial at bar Proceedings to be instituted by the Chief Justice to go into the 23,270 Charges filed’ »

Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who was Detained Under the PTA for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Easter Sunday Terror Bombings is Remanded Until August 17th by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage

By

Shavini Madhara

Former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen who was arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was remanded till August 17 by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage yesterday.

The investigators had conducted a comprehensive probe into funding of the Easter Sunday suicide bombers and a range of financial transactions that had taken place in the run up to the 2019 attacks.

Continue reading ‘Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who was Detained Under the PTA for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Easter Sunday Terror Bombings is Remanded Until August 17th by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage’ »

How Lakshman Kadirgamar Became a National List MP and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in Colombo by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 12 August 2005. This column intends focusing on the man regarded as Sri Lanka’s finest foreign minister this week even as his 16th death anniversary draws near.

I have written extensively about Lakshman Kadirgamar over the years, so much so that his only daughter Ajita has stated in her book about her father that “D.B.S. Jeyaraj has written about LK possibly more than any other journalist.”

Ajita Kadirgamar’s eminently readable book about Lakshman Kadirgamar titled ‘THE CAKE THAT WAS BAKED AT HOME’ has 78 references to lines and passages from my articles. She even says on one page that she ‘would almost term me as “LK’s unofficial biographer”’.

Continue reading ‘How Lakshman Kadirgamar Became a National List MP and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister’ »

Memories of Leonine Tamil Leader Murugesu Sivasithamaparam

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Very little is known or remembered by the younger generation of Sri Lankans about the nature of the non – violent Tamil political struggle for equal rights that preceded the violent armed struggle. Indeed for many the history of Tamil political resistance to what was perceived as majoritarian hegemony commences only from “Black July” 1983. To many youths on either side of the ethnic divide , Veluppillai Prabhakaran personifies the beginning, middle and end of the Tamil struggle. The course and content of Tamil politics prior to the advent of the birth and growth of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is conveniently forgotten or not taken into account at all. Yet the fact remains that the Tamil quest to achieve equality in the Island was basically non – violent prior to 1983.

Murugesu Sivasithamparam (20 July 1923 – 5 June 2002)

A prominent Tamil political leader of this period of non-violent politics was Murugesu Sivasithamparam whose 98th birth anniversary fell on 20 July. He is the focus of this column this week. I have written about M. Sivasithamparam in the past. This article however will be a modified version based on some of those writings, with pride of place being given to personal recollections.

Continue reading ‘Memories of Leonine Tamil Leader Murugesu Sivasithamaparam’ »

Neelan Tiruchelvam the Foremost Intellectual of Contemporary Tamil Politics

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Dr.Neelan Tiruchelvam was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of tamil eelam(LTTE)22 years ago on July 29th 1999. This article was originally written to commemorate the 70th birth anniversary of Dr. Tiruchelvam on January 31st 2014. It is being re-posted here without any changes to denote Neelan’s 22nd death anniversary)

Neelan Tiruchelvam (January 31, 1944 – July 29, 1999) – Portrait held during a Memorial Lecture in his honour - pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Neelan Tiruchelvam (January 31, 1944 – July 29, 1999) – Portrait held during a Memorial Lecture in his honour – pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

January 31st is the birthday of eminent Constitution lawyer, academic and politician Dr.Neelakandan Tiruchelvam. Neelan as he was popularly known would have completed the biblical life span of three score years and ten had he been among the living today. Born on January 31st 1944,Neelan Tiruchelvam, was brutally assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)on July 29th 1999.He was 55 at the time of his death.

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

Continue reading ‘Neelan Tiruchelvam the Foremost Intellectual of Contemporary Tamil Politics’ »

JR Jayewardene, the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

July 24th 1983 was the day on which a destructive spree of anti-Tamil violence commenced in Jaffna in the early hours of the morning and began spreading to Colombo in the later hours of the evening on the same day. It continued to other parts of the Island in the following days. The 38th anniversary of those dark days – etched in history as “Black July” revives bad memories among most Tamils who lived in Sri Lanka during July 1983.

JR Jayewardene , the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom – by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

The week long spree of anti-Tamil violence saw over 4,000 Tamils and some Muslims – mistaken for Tamils – being killed. Thousands were injured. Some of the injured were killed in hospitals. There were close upon 300,000 displaced persons as a result. Around 130,000 of these were housed in makeshift refugee camps. More than 2,500 business enterprises ranging from factories to petty boutiques were damaged or destroyed. The number of houses and dwellings and vehicles damaged or destroyed has not been correctly estimated yet.

Continue reading ‘JR Jayewardene, the Kanatte Mass Funeral and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom’ »

“Medamulana Rajapaksa Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Basil Rohana Rajapaksa was sworn in as Finance minister in the Government of Sri Lanka by his brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on July 8th 2021. The appointment was hailed by Basil’s supporers who project the new Finance minister as the “saviour” who would liberate Sri Lanka from the economic morass into which the country is sinking. It is being said that the less dogmatic, more pragmatic Basil with the reputation of being “the man who gets things done” is the right choice to helm financial affairs at this point of time.The anti- Rajapaksa camp “Pooh-poohs” this claim saying Basil is only a visible symptom of the prevailing crisis and not the solution. They also point out that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a “failed state” and that Basil’s appointment as a remedy to the malady, demonstrates the failure of his brother the President to deliver.

“Medamulana Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa 🌷by D.B,S. Jeyaraj

If these were the two broad contrasting positions on the appointment of the new Finance minister in politically polarized Sri Lanka , Basil’s elevation evoked a somewhat amusing global response in sections of the world’s influential media. It was seen as an illustrative example of a single family enjoying a monopoly of political power in a democratic country. “In Sri Lanka, the Government Looks Increasingly Like a Family Firm” was the heading of the article in the prestigious “New York Times”. by its South Asia Correspondent Mushib Mashal An article in the much-respected “The Hindu” by its Colombo Correspondent Meera Srinivsan had the heading “The Rajapaksas | Four brothers in one government”.

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“No Govt Permission to Import Chemical Fertilizer for Local Agriculture”: Decision Taken By President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Use Only Organic Fertilier for Local Agriculture Remains and Will Not Be Changed in the Future says President’s Media Centre Statement.


The President’s Office yesterday insisted that there was no U-turn in the Government’s policy on promoting organic fertiliser and that the latest gazette only aims to facilitate the importation of “specialised fertilisers”.

“The Government has not granted permission to import chemical fertilisers for local agricultural purposes, neither has it made any changes to the decision taken by the President to use only organic fertilisers for local agriculture. And there will be no changes to this decision in the future either,” a statement from the President’s Media Centre said.

The statement added that Cabinet had granted approval to the proposal made by the Minister of Agriculture on 31 May, to import plant nutrients – which included natural chelated minerals and micro matter. While these natural chelated minerals and micro matter were already being imported under the HS Code, it was prohibited by the gazette notification No. 2226/48. Therefore, in order to grant Cabinet approval to the aforesaid Cabinet paper submitted by the Minister of Agriculture, the gazette notification No. 2226/48 was amended.

Continue reading ‘“No Govt Permission to Import Chemical Fertilizer for Local Agriculture”: Decision Taken By President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Use Only Organic Fertilier for Local Agriculture Remains and Will Not Be Changed in the Future says President’s Media Centre Statement.’ »

If the Kotelawala Defence University Bill is Passed ,future members of civilian bureaucracy would be trained to honour and obey Rajapaksa orders as if they are divine truths; It will be ‘Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Three bags full, Sir.”

By Tisaranee Gunasekara


“If mankind commits suicide, it will be because people will obey…the archaic passions of fear, hate, and greed…”
– Erich Fromm (On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power)

Sri Lanka is in transition into becoming the Pearl of the Silk Route politically. But America still haunts the imitation dreams of her rulers.

President Gotabaya’s latest toy is a press briefing room that seems to be a replica of the one in the White House. But Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s press room will be American in form only; in content, it will be pure Chinese. The media would not be permitted to contradict spokespersons and argue with presidents as they do in the James Brady Press Briefing Room. Instead their role would be to accept official truths uncritically and amplify them to reach every corner of society. A fitting symbol of the country the Rajapaksas are trying to create – familial autocracy in a democratic shell.

The Kotelawala Defence University Bill is a key component of this project of transforming Sri Lanka into a suitable politico-psychological space for Rajapaksa rule.

According to the Bill, the Kotelawala Defence University will have the power “to establish campuses, colleges, faculties, departments, centres, academic institutions, and other such specialised institutes, schools, and divisions as maybe required by the university”. This would create a parallel system of education and higher education in accordance with Rajapaksa needs and interests.

The KDU’s Board of Governors will be appointed by the Defence Minister, and according to the Rajapaksa game plan, that post will always be held by the family. This is militarisation of education, but militarisation led and controlled by the Family and aimed at promoting the familial agenda of dynastic power for the next half century. The KDU bill seeks to make good the promise the royal astrologer made to President Mahinda in 2009, a Rajapaksa era lasting for 50 years.

Continue reading ‘If the Kotelawala Defence University Bill is Passed ,future members of civilian bureaucracy would be trained to honour and obey Rajapaksa orders as if they are divine truths; It will be ‘Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Three bags full, Sir.”’ »

Sri Lanka is heading for its worst health disaster in the coming weeks due to risk of the Delta variant spreading beyond control; leading medical experts say hospitals across the Western Province re full with 2/3rd of the patients being oxygen-dependent.

By

Jamila Husain

Sri Lanka is heading for its worst medical tsunami in the coming weeks as there is a risk that the Delta variant is spreading beyond control, leading medical experts told Daily Mirror yesterday.

Senior physicians at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic said that hospitals across the Western Province were filled to its brim and more than 2/3rd of the patients presently were oxygen-dependent.

At the Colombo General Hospital alone, all medical wards had been taken to treat COVID-19 patients and till last morning alone, there were 610 COVID positive patients at the National Hospital.

Initially per ward was equipped with four oxygen-equipped beds, which was later tripled to 12 beds per ward. However, with the influx of patients in recent weeks, these beds are also falling short.

“We are struggling to give these patients oxygen not because we lack oxygen, but because we did not expect this much of patients. We were ready with oxygen beds, but this is beyond imagination,” a doctor said.

“I foresee in near future we will have more patients who need oxygen and we will not be able to provide them with oxygen,” the doctor added.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is heading for its worst health disaster in the coming weeks due to risk of the Delta variant spreading beyond control; leading medical experts say hospitals across the Western Province re full with 2/3rd of the patients being oxygen-dependent.’ »

Harsha De Silva MP Calls Govt Reversal of Fertilizer Ban a Farce Saying “they have removed chemical and mineral fertiliser from the banned list and included them in the licensed list. So we are going back to what it originally was.”

By Aazam Ameen

The gazette published on 06 May which detailed the ban of imports of chemical fertiliser was fundamentally flawed, The Morning learnt.

Speaking exclusively to The Morning on the matter, Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Dr. Harsha De Silva explained that the gazette contained a mistake where both chemical fertliser and mineral fertiliser were categorised into the same HS code and banned.
“They wanted to bring in nitrogen and other supplements to complement the use of organic fertiliser, but how were they planning on doing so when they had banned both through this gazette notification as they were categorised under the same HS code?” the MP questioned.

Further, De Silva explained that this was never a law to begin with.

Continue reading ‘Harsha De Silva MP Calls Govt Reversal of Fertilizer Ban a Farce Saying “they have removed chemical and mineral fertiliser from the banned list and included them in the licensed list. So we are going back to what it originally was.”’ »

Finance Ministry through gazette notification 2238/45 of 31 July 2021 relaxes regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Finance Ministry, through the gazette notification number 2238/45 of 31 July 2021, has relaxed regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.

Accordingly, nitrogen (N) fertiliser, phosphate (PO₄³⁻) fertiliser, potassium (K) fertiliser, fertilisers containing such minerals and chemical fertilisers containing a combination of fertilising elements, that were previously banned from import, have been brought under the import control licence (ICL) by the aforesaid gazette notification.

The Imports and Exports Control Department Controller General (CG), T.V.D. Damayanthi S. Karunarathne, in a letter dated 2 August 2021, has informed the Customs Director General and the chief executive officers (CEOs) of all commercial banks of the said decision. In the letter, Karunarathne has pointed out that the commercial banks should not proceed with any payments in respect of these items without a valid ICL from 31 July 2021. It is also stated in the letter that the Customs should not release the stocks of these items without a valid ICL from 31 July.

Continue reading ‘Finance Ministry through gazette notification 2238/45 of 31 July 2021 relaxes regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.’ »

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Removes Ban on Import of Chemical and Mineral Fertilizer; bn relaxaion likely to be a temporary measure to help ffeced Farmers During Maha Paddy Cultivation Season

New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has lifted the ban imposed on chemical fertilisers import.

The relaxation has been published via Gazette No. 2238/45 of 31 July. The move is following recommendations of the Agriculture Department and the Fertiliser Secretariat and will be a big boon for farmers during the upcoming Maha paddy cultivation season, officials said.

Items that could be imported include nitrogenous, phosphatic, potassic mineral or chemical fertilisers, mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers; as well as goods of this chapter (HS Heading 31.05) in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight not exceeding 10 kg.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Removes Ban on Import of Chemical and Mineral Fertilizer; bn relaxaion likely to be a temporary measure to help ffeced Farmers During Maha Paddy Cultivation Season’ »

Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe Sends Letter of Demand for Rs 2 Billion to Nissanka Senadhipathy Following Administrative Appeals Tribunal Ruling that the Avant Garde Chairman had “Doctored” the Telephone Conversation Tape on the Basis of Which the Former Solicitor -General ws Interdicted

By Ranjith Padmasiri

The tape recording of a telephone conversation between former Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe and Avant Garde Chairman Nissanka Senadipathi which resulted in the interdiction of the senior state prosecutor had been edited and doctored, an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has established.

Ms. Wickramasinghe was interdicted and sent on compulsory leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC) following the alleged conversation being uploaded on Youtube and broadcast over sections of the media in September, 2019.

The tribunal has directed the PSC to revoke its order and to allow Ms. Wickramasinghe to resume duties in the post of Solicitor General with immediate effect. However, Ms. Wickramasinghe was due to retire last Friday (July 30) on reaching her retirement age.
Three experts reports including a report from the Moratuwa University confirmed that the alleged recording had been substantially edited, doctored and fundamentally distorted.
Meanwhile, Assistant Government Analyst W.G.D.L. Gunathilaka told an inquiry into the allegations against Ms. Wickramasinghe that the impugned tape recording had been subjected to editing at 10 places.

The AAT ruling has noted that Mr Senadipathi himself had admitted in a statement during the preliminary investigation that the purported tape recording had been subjected to editing by him. Though he had given an undertaking to produce an unedited tape, he had failed to do so.

Continue reading ‘Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe Sends Letter of Demand for Rs 2 Billion to Nissanka Senadhipathy Following Administrative Appeals Tribunal Ruling that the Avant Garde Chairman had “Doctored” the Telephone Conversation Tape on the Basis of Which the Former Solicitor -General ws Interdicted’ »

Amendments to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are an insult to the victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Amendments certified on the 15th of July 2021 to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and to the Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are, to put it baldly, an insult to the hundreds if not thousands of victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.

Core changes in the CCP Act and CAT Act

These amendments could not be reflected upon at the time that they were brought by the Government before the House in these column spaces due to other pressing matters of public concern at the time. The core change brought about by the amendments is that firstly, magistrates are enjoined to Magistrate to visit police stations to ensure that suspects in custody are ‘protected’ as provided for in terms of the CAT Act. In so doing, the magistrate is called upon to personally see the suspect, check the suspect’s well being and conditions of detention as well as record his or her observations and any complaints lodged by the suspect.

If there is any suspicion of torture, the magistrate ‘may’ (note, the statutory language is not mandatory) require that the suspect be produced before a judicial medical officer (JMO) or a government medical officer with a report to be submitted thereafter to the magistrate. If it is found that torture has been committed, the magistrate may issue ‘appropriate order’ including directions to provide necessary medical treatment and to change the place of custody if that is so required.

Moreover, the Inspector General of Police ‘shall’ (here, the language is mandatory) be directed to commence an investigation into the alleged torture in order to enable the Attorney-General to institute criminal proceedings against the alleged perpetrator/s. Where the amendment to the CAT Act is concerned, this provides for an increased fine, from ten thousand as the minimum with fifty thousand as the maximum to fifty thousand as the minimum and two hundred thousand as the maximum.

Continue reading ‘Amendments to Sri Lanka’s Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1979) and Convention against Torture (CAT) Act (1994) are an insult to the victims bloodied and battered by torture at the hands of law enforcement agents.’ »

Is Gotabaya Raajapaksa aiming at creating a hybrid structure of administration — part military and part civilian — like an electric-fossil fuel powered automobile?


By Gamini Weerakoon

A raging debate on ‘militarisation of academia’ has been sweeping through the ‘Paradise Island’ for weeks. Paradoxically, indications of ‘militarisation’ of government for over a year and half, since former Lt. Col. Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Retd.) was elected the president, appear not to have been taken as seriously as the move — as alleged — that may militarise universities.

We have lost count of the number of highly decorated retired military officials taking the seats once occupied by powerful civilians in government service since Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over as the president. It is a move unprecedented in the country’s 73-year post-Independence history.

But not even a whimper of protest has been heard from the associations of administrative services officers or even the usually garrulous clerical services unions and those of lower ranks. More so the general public that has been so vociferous in the criticism of this Rajapaksa government on other issues developed a chronic ‘locked Jaw’ on this issue of militarisation of the public service.

Continue reading ‘Is Gotabaya Raajapaksa aiming at creating a hybrid structure of administration — part military and part civilian — like an electric-fossil fuel powered automobile?’ »

UN Human Rights Council Ready to Crack Down on Sri Lanka at the September Session in Geneva with the UN Human Rights Commissioners Office Getting $ 2.8 Million to Set Up 13 Member Special Secretariat to Monitor Human Rights Abuses in the Island and Collect Evidence to Facilitate Accountability Mechanisms

(Excerpts from the “Sunday Times”Political Column of August 1st 2021)

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is set to crack the whip on Sri Lanka at its 48th sessions just six weeks ahead.

It is not only on issues arising from the March sessions of the damning Resolution on Sri Lanka caused by dismal diplomatic failures and a confrontational posture, particularly with western nations. Added to it is a part of the Resolution which empowered the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence.” This is for “future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial proceedings in Member States with competent jurisdiction.”

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Council Ready to Crack Down on Sri Lanka at the September Session in Geneva with the UN Human Rights Commissioners Office Getting $ 2.8 Million to Set Up 13 Member Special Secretariat to Monitor Human Rights Abuses in the Island and Collect Evidence to Facilitate Accountability Mechanisms’ »

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Designate to India,Milinda Moragoda,to Assume Stint in New Delhi After One Year Delay With “Integrated Country Strategy” Blueprint to Establish Better Relations Between Both Counries by Building Bridges of Connectivity on Multiple Fronts

By

Suhasini Haidar and Meera Srinivasan

After months of strain over a number of issues including the cancelled port project in Colombo , Sri Lanka is preparing to send its High Commissioner designate to Delhi, along with a ‘roadmap’ to restore ties that includes resolving fishermen’s issues, building connectivity, trade and investment, as well as promoting religious links, Buddhist exchanges and handing over a sacred “Sita temple stone” from Sri Lanka for the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya.

According to a formal proposal presented to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which The Hindu has seen, the roadmap will help bridge the “growing trust deficit”.

In February, the Modi government expressed its unhappiness over Sri Lanka’s decision to scrap the East Container Terminal project signed in 2019, amidst other signs that China was gaining the upper hand in infrastructure deals in the country. The Rajapaksa government has been disappointed over the lack of movement on requests it made for India for assistance including a debt repayment waiver for three years and a separate currency swap for $1 billion, to help with economic crisis, which were made by President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to Mr. Modi.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Designate to India,Milinda Moragoda,to Assume Stint in New Delhi After One Year Delay With “Integrated Country Strategy” Blueprint to Establish Better Relations Between Both Counries by Building Bridges of Connectivity on Multiple Fronts’ »

“The Tragedy is that it is Becoming Harder in 1983 for Sinhala Christians to Acknowledge that what was done is a Moral Crime than in 1958.:- Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe

(Text of the final Pastoral letter written by the Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala , Rt. Rev. L Wickremasinghe, in September 1983 after the July 1983 Violence.Bishop Lakshmn passed away some weeks after this on October 23rd 1983.)

Dear Church Members and Citizens assembled in Council

We are in the midst of our worst national crisis since the regaining of our independence. Attitudes have hardened among the Tamils and the Sinhalese. There is still an uneasy calm. We do not know what will be the consequences of this escalating violence, bitterness and fear.

Various persons and organisations have been engaged in protecting victims, providing relief and supporting rehabilitation. It is a matter of deep gratitude and pride that a number of Sinhalese and others have engaged in humane action at much risk to themselves, in the midst of inhuman brutality and destruction. I quote some words from the Sansoni Commission about such people who so acted in 1977:

“These splendid persons proved that courage and charity can survive – when most needed. There is no law which compels a person to defy a howling mob, or to hide a neighbour or even an unknown man fleeing like some poor animal from a crowd bent on killing him. Yet, they understood and practiced the duty of the unenforceable, which is the test of civilization in any country.”
We must acknowledge whatever is good at this time both for its own sake and to overcome our sense of despair. But such action is not enough. To courage and compassion we must add insight. We need a further kind of action based on a deeper awareness of what has happened. In the words of Thomas Merton: “Contemplation is the spring, action is the stream.”

Reflections On Our Present Situation- Personal Comments

I was not present in the island when the violence erupted at the end of July 1983. But I have been present and witnessed similar violence in 1958 and 1977. I also experienced the other period of violence in April 1971 when there was an armed insurrection by Sinhala youth. But during July 1983 and afterwards I was able to follow closely the events that took place from abroad. A friend had collected all the news and comments in the English press from July to August, and gave the documents for me to read. Since I returned a local friend gave me a similar file of documents from the Sri Lankan press from early July till the end of August. I was able to visit the damaged areas, talk with various people and also meet people in the Jaffna peninsula. Our own Tamil church-members within this diocese had their stories to tell. In short, the comments I will make on the situation we face are based on much reflection. They also express twenty five years of experience in seeking to find a solution to our ethnic conflict. I am among those who have tried hard and failed. But I know and trust in God, who is ever creative in bringing good out of evil.

Continue reading ‘“The Tragedy is that it is Becoming Harder in 1983 for Sinhala Christians to Acknowledge that what was done is a Moral Crime than in 1958.:- Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe’ »

Rajendran Rajamahendran, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Frost

By K.Thirukumaran

Rajendran Rajamahendran passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 25. He was born on May 19, 1943.

Who is he? Some outside of Sri Lanka may ponder, especially in all the outpouring tributes he comes across as a remarkable icon, perhaps as a global one for that matter of these times.

Why?
Continue reading ‘Rajendran Rajamahendran, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Frost’ »

Unabashedly Unbowed and Unfailingly Unafraid, “Killi”Rajamahendran was a “Maharaja” from head to toe in the truest sense of the word


By
Krishantha Prasad Cooray

It was early 2005, a few months after I had been made the CEO of Rivira Media Corporation. I had been warned that the media industry was a cutthroat one, and to expect little help for a fledgling newspaper like Rivira. Still I decided to reach out to the heads of some electronic media organisations to see if we could work together.

Amongst those I emailed was the Chairman of MTN Networks, Raj Rajamahendran, better known as Killi Maharaja. I introduced myself and the newspaper and asked if I could meet him at his convenience.

“Killi” Rajamahendran (19 May, 1943-25 July, 2021)

Having sent the email, I took a moment to scoff at my own hubris. Mr. Rajamahendran, was not just the head of the country’s largest private broadcasting empire. He also chaired dozens of companies in areas as diverse as manufacturing and infrastructure development. There was no chance he would have time to spare for a young upstart trying to start a newspaper.

I soon discovered how wrong I was. He was exactly that kind of man.

Within hours, Mr. Rajamahendran had personally replied to my email. He congratulated me on starting the newspaper and gave me an appointment to meet him the very next day. I was stunned, honoured and extremely impressed.

When I went to his office on Dawson Street the next day, he met me on time, greeted me warmly and extended his full support.

Continue reading ‘Unabashedly Unbowed and Unfailingly Unafraid, “Killi”Rajamahendran was a “Maharaja” from head to toe in the truest sense of the word’ »

The ghastly tale of the killing of Tamil prisoners at Welikada in 1983;Witnesses told the Commission that soldiers were heard shouting ‘Jayawewa’ when news broke of the killings of the Tamil prisoners


By Chandani Kirinde

All stories have their heroes and villains. During the Welikada Prison massacre of July 1983 in which 53 Tamil prisoners lost their lives, there were few prison officials who put their lives on the line to protect the Tamil inmates while there were the others, who by their complicity, encouraged the attackers and failed in their duties by not taking timely measures to protect them.

The killings inside the prison took place on two days with 35 inmates killed on 25 July and 18 others on 27 July. That week, 38 years ago, mayhem was unfolding outside the prison walls too with senseless killings, looting and arson attacks taking place against Tamils, in a month that has since come to be known as ‘Black July.’

The Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence (1981-1984) appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2001 said the murder of the Tamil prisoners within the well-secured precincts of the Welikada Prison and the traumatic experience of those who escaped death would ‘constitute the most agonising moments of challenge to the collective conscience of our Nation.’ In this case, like with many similar extra judicial killings that have taken place in the country since, no one was held accountable, none prosecuted, and the case closed with the State settling the civil lawsuits filed by relatives of some of the victims by paying compensation without admitting liability.

The Commission recorded evidence from survivors of the massacre, prison officials, human rights and civil rights activists and other witnesses to piece together the terrifying atmosphere within the prison during the dark days in July 1983 and how apathy by the Government and some prison officials led to the massacres which would have been averted had they acted on time.

Continue reading ‘The ghastly tale of the killing of Tamil prisoners at Welikada in 1983;Witnesses told the Commission that soldiers were heard shouting ‘Jayawewa’ when news broke of the killings of the Tamil prisoners’ »

Mangala Samaraweera spearheads launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society.

Former Minister and Parliamentarian Mangala Samara-weera yesterday spearheaded the launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth calling themselves as true patriots.

The middle path or ‘Radical Centre’ is based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society. It draws inspiration from liberal democratic principles.

Radical Centre is a platform of moderation providing the silent majority to oppose and fight authoritarianism, racism and all other forms of extremism actively and vigorously.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera spearheads launch of an apolitical movement called ‘Radical Centre’ by a group of multifaceted multi-ethnic youth based on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and justice as the four pillared-foundation for a just, caring and prosperous society.’ »

Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today states Nivard Cabral; State Minister for Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform Says SRi Lanka “has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics both globally and locally wrong”

By Nisthar Cassim

Against widespread fears and claims of default sans multilateral donor help, Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today.

The move, according to Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform State Minister Nivard Cabraal, has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics, both globally and locally, wrong.

“Right along we have been consistently saying Sri Lanka will pay despite some reckless rating agencies and analysts regularly being sceptical and unreasonably irrational. The settlement also cements the fact Sri Lanka continues its unblemished reputation of honouring its debt,” Cabraal said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka yesterday completed the groundwork towards the settlement of $ 1 billion worth of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs) maturing today states Nivard Cabral; State Minister for Money, Capital Market and Public Enterprises Reform Says SRi Lanka “has proved all the doomsayers and sceptics both globally and locally wrong”’ »

Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu files Petition in Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill Providing amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution for ” Special foreign currency deposits”

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu yesterday filed a Petition in the Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill, which was placed on the order paper of Parliament on 20 July.

The bill seeks to provide an amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution, to anyone who has not disclosed any taxable supply, income or asset which was required to be disclosed by law, provided that they invest an equivalent amount in the manner specified in the Bill.

CPA’s action follows main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne and JVP former parliamentarian Sunil Hadunneththi filing separate petitions in the Supreme Court against the Finance Bill.

CPA said its position is that several clauses in the bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, including several entrench provisions, and thus cannot be passed into law except if approved by the people at a referendum in addition to a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Members of Parliament in favour as required by Article 83 (a) of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu files Petition in Supreme Court (SC SD 28/2021) challenging the proposed Finance Bill Providing amnesty from tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution for ” Special foreign currency deposits”’ »

“For how long should citizens of this country pay for the grievous sins of their political rulers?And when will we ever learn from our tortuous history?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

To a protesting (Sinhalese) Stalin, (or for that matter, a Marx or Lenin), who is released along with comrades following public outrage and street anger after unjustifiable detention by the police using Sri Lanka’s covid-19 health protocols, there are a hundred others who languish in squalid detention under the country’s savagely inhumane anti-terrorism laws.

Health protocols used to deprive rights

We know of two cases perhaps, one a lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah and the other, Ahnaf Jazeem a poet, both of Muslim ethnicity, both accused of hate speech and put behind bars without proper charges for unconscionable lengths of time. But let me repeat, there are many more in similar if not worse plights who are forgotten in the public eye, some dying without charges being filed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA, 1979). Why is public conscience so insensibly moved in the first instance but not in the other?

For the danger in both in this covid afflicted state is equally acute, let us be clear. More and more, health protocols are being used to deprive citizens of due process rights, oftentimes worse than during even the most intensified period of active conflict in Sri Lanka. Detainees are not brought before judges and not allowed to present allegations of torture and illtreatment. The principle of open hearings, where the public and the media are allowed to document and witness injustice, sometimes to the extent of preventing deaths in custody, is being departed from on the basis of covid rules.

Continue reading ‘“For how long should citizens of this country pay for the grievous sins of their political rulers?And when will we ever learn from our tortuous history?’ »

Sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka this week may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

A sharp rise has been seen in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) this week and many warned that it may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.

This week, the NHSL saw more than 200 COVID-19 patients seeking treatment daily, said an NHSL source, pointing out that it may be an indication of a spike in illness in the Colombo district as well as the Western Province.
Analysing the numbers over the past few months, the source said that in late May and early June when the country was in the grip of the third wave due to Alpha (the United Kingdom variant), the numbers rose to about 180 per day.

Continue reading ‘Sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka this week may be an “early signal” of what to expect from other parts of the country.’ »

Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund says Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera; “The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”


By Namini Wijedasa

Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera has said.

“Right now, it is not a question of whether we want the IMF or not,” the former Finance Ministry Secretary explained in an interview.

“The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”

Any borrowing, including an IMF programme, was “good if you have prospects to improve quickly and if you have hope that, in the next six months, tourism will bring US$ 2bn and domestic activity or something else will happen”.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka has no immediate plan to seek financing from the International Monetary Fund says Presidential Secretary P.B. Jayasundera; “The IMF coming won’t bring tourism here. The IMF coming won’t bring exports back.”’ »

President Premadasa Backed Off From Taking on the IPKF When Its Chief Gen.Kalkat Indicated That The Indian Army Would Retaliate by Seizing Anuradhapura in Phase One and Possibly Move to Colombo in Phase Two

By
Lt Gen A.S. Kalkat (Retd)

I was on a sabbatical in London, United Kingdom for a fellowship with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) when I received a message from Brigadier (now Lt Gen) Satish Nambiar, the Military Attaché in London to call the Army Headquarters. I did so from his office and was informed by the Military Secretary that the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen K. Sundarji wanted to speak to me. I was put through to the COAS who asked as to how much longer my fellowship was, as he needed me. When I asked as to when he needed me, typically he responded, “like yesterday”. I told him that I would terminate my fellowship with immediate effect and return, which I did. That was the beginning of my odyssey with the IPKF and Sri Lanka.

At the time, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka was staffed by some of India’s “best and the brightest”. The High Commissioner, M.N. Dixit was to become the NSA later, Political Consular Head Hardip Singh Puri is now a Union Minister, and the First Secretary, Dr. S. Jaishankar is now the Foreign Minister.

INDO-SRI LANKA ACCORD 1987

With a 74 percent Sinhalese population, Sri Lanka had by the mid-1980s effectively become a Sinhala Buddhist state. The 18 percent Tamil minority, which was the dominant community in the Northern and Eastern provinces were getting politically marginalised and suppressed. The Government of India, then headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was facing political pressure to intervene.

India coerced the Government of Sri Lanka headed by President Junius Richard Jayewardene into signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord literally at gunpoint. The Air Force’s “Op Poomalai” of dropping humanitarian aid over Jaffna was an effective power projection.

Continue reading ‘President Premadasa Backed Off From Taking on the IPKF When Its Chief Gen.Kalkat Indicated That The Indian Army Would Retaliate by Seizing Anuradhapura in Phase One and Possibly Move to Colombo in Phase Two’ »

Rishad Bathiudeen’s Wife and Father in Law Detained by Police for Further Investigations Regarding Death of 16 Year Old Girl from Dyagama Working as Domestic Aide; Rishad’s brother in law also arrested in separate incident for allegedly raping a former domestic aide now aged 22.

By

Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya

Three persons including the wife and father-in-law of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen have been arrested in connection with the death of a 16-year old domestic aide at the former minister’s house, police said.

Police Spokesman SDIG Ajith Rohana said that 46-year old Sheyabdeen Ayesha, her father 70-year-old Mohammed Sheyabdeen and the broker who brought the girl to Bathiudeen’s house were arrested accordingly.

He said the Borella Police, the Divisioanal Children and Women’s Bureau and Colombo South Divisional Crimes Detective Bureau are conducting investigations into the death of the girl.

Continue reading ‘Rishad Bathiudeen’s Wife and Father in Law Detained by Police for Further Investigations Regarding Death of 16 Year Old Girl from Dyagama Working as Domestic Aide; Rishad’s brother in law also arrested in separate incident for allegedly raping a former domestic aide now aged 22.’ »

Senior Lawyer and well-known crusader for human rights and justice Manouri Muttetuwegama (85) passes away in Colombo;her husband was Communist Party Leader Sarath Muteuwegama while Father was Trotskyite Leader Dr.Colvin R de Silva


The death occurred yesterday of senior Attorney-at-Law and Human Rights activist Manouri Muttetuwegama (85), wife of the late MP and Attorney-at-Law Sarath Muttetuwegama.

A former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka,she was also the Chairperson of the All Island Commission on Disappearances and Chairperson of the Consultation Taskforce on Reconciliation Mechanisms.She was the Director Legal of Lake House for a brief period in 1997-1998 and also held the position of Editorial Consultant at Lake House in 2000-2001.

Continue reading ‘Senior Lawyer and well-known crusader for human rights and justice Manouri Muttetuwegama (85) passes away in Colombo;her husband was Communist Party Leader Sarath Muteuwegama while Father was Trotskyite Leader Dr.Colvin R de Silva’ »

Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa dynasty is not as secure as it appears Because the family that runs everything is running out of cash – The Economist


(This article appeared in the Asia section of “The Economist “ under the headline “Rajapaksa Raj”)

Since winning the presidency in a landslide nearly two years ago, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has worried not that he has too many relatives in government, but that he has too few. One of the 72-year-old’s elder brothers, Mahinda, himself president for ten years until a surprise election defeat in 2015, is prime minister. Another, Chamal, is minister for irrigation. Chamal’s son, Shasheendra, is minister of state for “paddy and grains, organic food, vegetables, fruits, chillies, onions and potatoes, seed production and high-tech agriculture”. Mahinda’s son, Namal, is minister for youth and sports. And state minister for digital technology and enterprise development. And everything else, to judge by his hyperactive Twitter feed.
.
But there is always room for one more Rajapaksa, 69-year-old Basil above all. “Gota” and Mahinda acknowledge him as the brains and organiser-in-chief of the family. He devised the electoral strategy behind its return to power, founding a new party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (slpp), which used digital wizardry to rally chauvinists from the ethnic majority, the Sinhalese—all while in prison on a corruption charge stemming from his time as economy minister (his detractors called him “Mr 10%”). On July 8th he was back in the cabinet.

Basil’s return to government required both a constitutional amendment to allow dual nationals to hold senior government positions (he has an American passport) and the resignation of a docile member of Parliament to free a seat for him. He faces a budget and current-account mess caused by poor policy under Gota and Mahinda, from whom he inherits the finance portfolio, and exacerbated by the pandemic.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa dynasty is not as secure as it appears Because the family that runs everything is running out of cash – The Economist’ »

Opportunities for investments from India in the Eastern Province as well a Potential joint efforts for economic development of the region Discussed at Meeting Between Acting Indian Envoy Vinod Jacob and Batticaloa MP and State Minister S.Viyalendran


(Text of Press Release Issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo on July 21st 2021)

Acting High Commissioner of India, Mr. Vinod K Jacob had a productive meeting with Hon’ble S. Viyalanderan, State Minister of Backward Rural Areas Development and Promotion of Domestic Animal Husbandry & Minor Economic Crop Cultivation and Batticaloa District MP in Colombo on 21 July 2021. Others present during the hour-long meeting were Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, State Secretary, Hon. Senthil Thondaman, Coordinating Secretary to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mr. Eldos Mathew Punnoose, Head of Development Cooperation Wing, High Commission of India.

Continue reading ‘Opportunities for investments from India in the Eastern Province as well a Potential joint efforts for economic development of the region Discussed at Meeting Between Acting Indian Envoy Vinod Jacob and Batticaloa MP and State Minister S.Viyalendran’ »

No-confidence motion Presented by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila is defeated in Parliament by a Majority of 91 Votes with 152 Voting against and 61 Voting in favour of the NCM


The no-confidence motion against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila was defeated by a majority of 91 votes, with 152 voting against the motion and 61 in favour.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), which moved the motion, along with other Opposition party members, including UNP MP Ranil Wickremesinghe, voted in favour of the motion.

All SLPP MPs, including those who were publicly critical of Gammanpila over the recent fuel hike, voted against the motion.

Continue reading ‘No-confidence motion Presented by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila is defeated in Parliament by a Majority of 91 Votes with 152 Voting against and 61 Voting in favour of the NCM’ »

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Speaks Out in Parliament on Behalf of SJB MP’s Harin Fernando and Rishad Bathiudeen;says arrest/interrogation of MPs without informing Speaker breach of their parliamentary privileges and that Police Should keep House informed in such cases

There are no plans to arrest SJB MP Harin Fernando, but he is duty bound to provide information he has regarding the Easter Sunday attacks to the CID, Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekera said yesterday.

Responding to a privilege issue raised in the House by UNP MP Ranil Wickremasinghe, the Minister said Fernando had claimed that he was aware of the mastermind behind the attacks.

“If he has such information, he should divulge it to the CID for the sake of the national security. If he is not willing to do so, we have no issue,” he said.

Continue reading ‘UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Speaks Out in Parliament on Behalf of SJB MP’s Harin Fernando and Rishad Bathiudeen;says arrest/interrogation of MPs without informing Speaker breach of their parliamentary privileges and that Police Should keep House informed in such cases’ »

“Let us Unite with Patience and Perseverance for Peace and Justice “-SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem

(Eid- ul-Alha Message from Rauff Hakeem Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress)

On this holy day of Eid-ul-Alha, let us celebrate with patience and perseverance for peace and justice to prevail for all in Sri Lanka. We join the Muslims all over the world marking this year’s festival under challenging circumstances and trying conditions in their respective settings.

Amidst the various impediments and adversity that our community is facing today, owing to the pandemic, we remain grateful to the Almighty for enabling us to welcome yet another holy Eid-ul-Alha, for prayers and reflections and
deepening of our faith and spirituality.

Continue reading ‘“Let us Unite with Patience and Perseverance for Peace and Justice “-SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem’ »

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa states he would seek a second term in office thereby shifting from his earlier position to serve only one Term;”President wanted to tell the people of the country and party workers who is really in charge,” says a senior govt official

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday said he would seek a second term in office, shifting from his earlier position to serve only one term.

Mr. Gotabaya, in a meeting with owners of local media institutions, spoke of having not just three years of his remaining term, but an additional five years, implying a second term, to fulfil his pledges, according to a tweet from the President’s spokesman Kingsly Rathnayaka.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa states he would seek a second term in office thereby shifting from his earlier position to serve only one Term;”President wanted to tell the people of the country and party workers who is really in charge,” says a senior govt official’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Media Instiution Owners That He Will be Contesting Presidential Elections Again to Seek a Second Term of Office.

By

Azzam Ameen

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has today (19) declared that he would contest for a second term in office.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Media Instiution Owners That He Will be Contesting Presidential Elections Again to Seek a Second Term of Office.’ »

Tony Ranasinghe: Sinhala Cinema’s Most Romantic Lover 💕

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

In keeping with the practice of devoting at least one article each month to a cinema related topic, this column focuses on the popular Sinhala film actor Tony Ranasinghe this week. As an ardent aficionado of Sinhala films I have seen and savoured many of the dashing and debonair Tony Ranasinghe’s films with delight. My all-time favourite Sinhala film hero was and forever will be Gamini Fonseka . However, this fondness for Fonseka has not prevented me from enjoying performances by others such as D.R. Nanayakkara, Joe, Tony, Wickrama, Vijaya, Ravindra, Sanath, Dharmasiri and Kamal.

Tony Ranasinghe (31 July 1937 – 16 June 2015)

Sinhala cinema began moving away from Indian “masala” influence and started coming into its own in the sixties and seventies of the last century. Four great male actors made their mark in that golden phase of Sinhala moviedom. They were, in alphabetical order – Joe Abeywickrama, Gamini Fonseka, Vijaya Kumaratunga and Tony Ranasinghe. Alas! All four famous thespians are no more now.

The first to depart was the youngest of them all, Vijaya Kumaratunga, who was born in 1945. His life was brutally snatched away in 1988. Vijaya who had begun engaging effectively in politics was assassinated. Gamini Fonseka, born in 1936, passed away in his sleep in 2004. Veteran Joe Abeywickrama, who was born in 1927, died ten years ago in 2011.

Continue reading ‘Tony Ranasinghe: Sinhala Cinema’s Most Romantic Lover 💕’ »

How The LTTE Assassinated Senior Tamil Leader Amirthalingam In Colombo Thirty Years Ago….

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

( On July 13th 1989 The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam assassinated Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam the former Opposition Leader and Secretary -General of the Tamil United Liberation Front in Colombo. This article written in July 2019 is re-posted without any changes to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary)

The cruelly tragic killing of five Tamil Students by suspected members of the Security forces thirteen years ago in Trincomalee town was re-visited in these columns last week. This week’s column seeks to revive memories about a murder most foul perpetrated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) in Colombo city exactly thirty years ago. It was on the fateful day of July 13th 1989 that foremost Sri Lankan Tamil political leader and former Leader of the opposition Appapillai Amirthalingam along with Ex-Jaffna MP Vettivelu Yogeswaran was gunned down by the LTTE. Ex- Nallur MP Murugesu Sivasithamparam was shot and wounded in the same incident. All three tiger assassins involved were shot dead by Police officers in the ensuing gun battle. I have written extensively about the assassination of Appapillai Amirthalingam on earlier occasions. However I intend re- relating some of the details concerning these killings on the 30th anniversary of the murders relying to a great extent upon my earlier writings.

Appapillai Amirthalingam
(26 August 1927 – 13 July 1989)

Appapillai Amirthalingam hailing from Pannaaham in Jaffna was born on August 26, 1927. He was a charismatic and dynamic politician who served for many years as the chief lieutenant of the respected Tamil leader SJV Chelvanayagam known as the Gandhi of Eelam. Amirthalingam was a lawyer by profession and had been the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK)MP for Vaddukkoddai from 1956 to 1970 and the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP for Kankesanthurai from 1977 to 1983. He held office as Leader of the opposition from 1977 to 1983. In 1989 he was appointed MP on the TULF National list.

Continue reading ‘How The LTTE Assassinated Senior Tamil Leader Amirthalingam In Colombo Thirty Years Ago….’ »

Can the Newly Changed “Pillows” of Basil and Shasheendra Rajapaksas Cure all the Political, Economic and Health Sector “Headaches” Plaguing Sri Lanka?

By Gamini Weerakoon

Sri Lankan rulers think that they have found a permanent cure for headaches, having rejected the ancient wisdom: You can’t cure headaches by changing pillows.

Paradise Island is not only beset with the global pandemic crisis that all countries are attempting to ward off but has many more crises — a billion-dollar debt crisis, an accusation of violation of human rights by the UNHRC, the cost-of-living issue, the fertiliser crisis and demonstrators on the streets every day bellowing many grievances.

The solution forwarded to all these problems seems to be two pillows — Basil Rajapaksa and Shasheendra Rajapaksa.

The choice of two Rajapaksas should not come as a surprise, because the solution of the Rajapaksa administrations to big governance problems has been another Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Can the Newly Changed “Pillows” of Basil and Shasheendra Rajapaksas Cure all the Political, Economic and Health Sector “Headaches” Plaguing Sri Lanka?’ »

Will the appointment of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister bring about a radical change in policies that could save the country from the several economic crises facing the country?

By

Nimal Sanderatne

The country is in a multiplicity of inter-related and intertwined crises and widespread social upheavals. Apart from solutions to the specific grievances, drastic changes in economic policies are required to ensure financial and economic stability.

Social unrest

Protests and social upheavals due to severe economic difficulties, unavailability of fertiliser, protests against the charging of fees at the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and arrests of protestors confront the Government.

Political crises

In addition, a political crisis has been brewing within the ruling coalition and within and among the opposition. These have been amply covered by the media for several weeks. The course that these political developments will take is at present as clear as mud. Whatever direction the political developments take, they will have to be drastic, pragmatic and effective. Otherwise, the country would face an economic catastrophe.

Economic crises

The economic crises facing the country are multi-dimensional. The country is heading towards a severe crisis in external finances. External reserves are perilously low and foreign debt repayments and import requirements are eroding them further.

Farmer incomes are dwindling and consumer prices are rising. Poverty, unemployment and hunger are increasing and weak public finances are limiting the capacity of the Government to even implement its policies to alleviate the escalating poverty by providing income support.

Continue reading ‘Will the appointment of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister bring about a radical change in policies that could save the country from the several economic crises facing the country?’ »

ACMC Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Being Held in CID Custody Under the PTA Suffers Suspected Heart Attack and is Warded at Colombo National Hospital Cardiology Unit Under Police Guard

By Chris Kamalendran

All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, who is in Criminal Investigation Department (CID) custody, was admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo yesterday due to a suspected heart attack.

Mr Bathiudeen had complained to CID officers last morning that he was feeling ill. They had, thereafter, taken him to the Outpatient Department (OPD) of the National Hospital. After being checked by the doctors, Mr Bathiudeen was admitted to the hospital’s Emergency Treatment Unit (ETU), Police Spokesman Senior Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana said.

Continue reading ‘ACMC Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Being Held in CID Custody Under the PTA Suffers Suspected Heart Attack and is Warded at Colombo National Hospital Cardiology Unit Under Police Guard’ »

Death Row Murder Convict Duminda Silva Who was Given “Poson Poya Pardon” by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Appointed as Chairman of the National Housing Development Authority With Presidential Endorsement

Former MP Duminda Silva, who was serving a death sentence over the killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra but was released from jail on a special presidential pardon last month has been appointed as the Chairman of the National Housing Development Authority.

Continue reading ‘Death Row Murder Convict Duminda Silva Who was Given “Poson Poya Pardon” by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Appointed as Chairman of the National Housing Development Authority With Presidential Endorsement’ »

The Kotelawala Defence University Bill directly violates the principles of critical thought in higher education that, despite manifest travails, our Universities have protected for decades.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Friday (July 16th) was an eventful day for Sri Lanka. Just as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was holding forth to obediently head-nodding members of the Maha Sangha comprising the Government’s Buddhist Advisory Council gathered at the Presidential Secretariat, on his firm intent to proceed with enactment of the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) Bill before Parliament, students of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka intensified their protests against the KDU Bill.

A Bill militarising higher education

The students joined the growing numbers of demonstrators against the Bill, following the recent unwise police detention of prominent trade unionists under cover of covid-19 quarantine regulations, who were released also on Friday, hence this day being eventful in more ways than one. Their grievance was common. At a time when the education of the country’s university and school students had been brutally crippled due to the covid pandemic and the inability of the Government to propose effective solutions, why was a Bill blatantly militarising higher education being pushed through, they asked?

Probably they may have been unaware that, in the rarified spaces of the Presidential Secretariat several kilometres away from student protests, the President was, in fact, using the example of the Pali University in favour of his argument. His contention was that the Universities Act (1978) establishing the University Grants Commission (UGC) itself must be amended to ‘do away’ with ‘obstacles’ and bring higher educational institutions such as the Pali University and KDU within the remit of the UGC. That, he said, would be the solution, the Advisory Council was told.

This is an artful rendering of the problem no doubt. But it is not the solution, contrary to what the President appears to believe. UGC control is not a magic wand that will cure all the ills of the KDU Bill which has united a wide range of dissenters including members of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) generally slavishly in support of the ruling regime. Indeed, the very grouping of the Pali University and the KDU in one breath is manifestly absurd. The issue regarding the KDU Bill, which seeks to replace the generally innocuous Sir John Kotelawala Defence University Act, No 58 of 1981, is in the very structure and form of the ‘University’ that it proposes to establish.

Continue reading ‘The Kotelawala Defence University Bill directly violates the principles of critical thought in higher education that, despite manifest travails, our Universities have protected for decades.’ »

22 Trade Unionists and Political Activists Including Joseph Stalin and Duminda Nagamuwa Woho Were Forcibly” Quarantined” by Police for Protesting Against KDU bill released after 9 days of “Quarantine” on July 16

By

Imesh Ranasinghe

Just over a week after they were sent to quarantine camps under legally questionable circumstances, 22 trade union members in Sri Lanka including Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) general secretary Joseph Stalin were released Friday (16) afternoon.

The union members had been arrested for engaged in protests that police said were in violation of a ban imposed on protests and public meetings owing to Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 situation.

The protestors were granted bail but were subsequently packed off in buses to government-run quarantine camps, without being subject to standard PCR tests or with the consultation of local public health inspectors (PHIs).

Continue reading ‘22 Trade Unionists and Political Activists Including Joseph Stalin and Duminda Nagamuwa Woho Were Forcibly” Quarantined” by Police for Protesting Against KDU bill released after 9 days of “Quarantine” on July 16’ »

The prestige of the Gotabaya Government that walks the walk, as well as it talks the talk, on military-related matters is at stake on the Kotelawala Defence University Bill issue

By Rajpal Abeynayake

The forced quarantining of those protesting the contemplated passage of the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) Bill was rather dramatic, and has created a ruckus about the propriety or otherwise of disallowing dissent on the basis of health considerations.

As interesting as this debate may seem, it’s a temporary problem. The protestors may be hauled away and taken to their isolation locations, and there would be pictures that any photo editor would die for. There will be a lot of kicking and screaming.

That issue would, however, be just one facet of the problem. An important facet no doubt. It would define the power dynamic that determines the stature and sustainability of this Government. Is this a quasi-military administration, as the detractors have been saying, that’s willing to crush dissent in the short term as well as the long?

The quasi-military characterisation of the Government is very much flawed. This is a civilian administration and it’s difficult for the Government’s opponents to say it’s top heavy with Rajapaksas and claim it’s a military regime at the same time. But the question is whether this dispensation is strong – so strong and single-minded about its policy decisions – and would follow through with them no matter what, with a little help from the military?

It’s a real litmus test for the Government on that score – this issue of the KDU Bill. The protests are in essence about the issue of privatisation of higher education. The KDU Bill will give the administration of the KDU the autonomy to levy fees and decide on the fee structure for courses that are offered. This would mean that for the first time, there would be a fee-levying, degree-granting institution in the country in the field of medicine, for instance.

Continue reading ‘The prestige of the Gotabaya Government that walks the walk, as well as it talks the talk, on military-related matters is at stake on the Kotelawala Defence University Bill issue’ »

“Continuous delay in investigations into the Easter Sunday terror attacks could create some suspicion among the public that the present Government may also have had some involvement in the bombings.”-Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando


BY Buddhika Samaraweera

While claiming that the current Government is continuously delaying the investigations into the Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April 2019, the Catholic Church alleged that this continuous delay would create some suspicion among the public that the incumbent Government may also have had some involvement in the said bombings.

The National Catholic Centre for Social Communications Director and the Parish Priest of the St. Anne’s Church, Kurana, Negombo Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando alleged to The Morning that this continuous delay would create some suspicion among the public that the present Government may also have had some involvement in the bombings.

Speaking to The Morning, Fernando noted that it is a serious question as to why the Government is not taking steps to expedite the investigations into the Easter Sunday bombings and reveal the suspects to the public.

Continue reading ‘“Continuous delay in investigations into the Easter Sunday terror attacks could create some suspicion among the public that the present Government may also have had some involvement in the bombings.”-Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando’ »

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa orders an investigation of allegations that some members of state intelligence agencies knew and met with people who carried out Easter Sunday bombings in 2019

By Krishan Francis/The Associated Press

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered an investigation of allegations that some members of state intelligence agencies knew and met with people who carried out Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 that killed more than 260 people, a government official said.

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka wrote to the president on Tuesday raising concerns about the government’s handling of the suicide bombings and asking it to investigate alleged links between intelligence personnel and the group that carried out the attacks.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa orders an investigation of allegations that some members of state intelligence agencies knew and met with people who carried out Easter Sunday bombings in 2019’ »

Why do I still call myself a Catholic given the Catholic Church’s official face, generally dispiriting history and the inevitability of more and worse revelations to come?


By
William J Grimm

(William Grimm is a missioner and priest in Tokyo and is the publisher of the Union of Catholic Asian News).

One of the fastest-growing religious affiliations, or more accurately disaffiliations, is the large number of people who declare themselves to be former Catholics.

Departures from the Church are especially pronounced among the young, but are not limited to them. In places like Australia, France, Germany and increasingly in the United States, which for many years differed from other places, the Catholic Church is hemorrhaging members.

There are many reasons people disavow Catholicism. From what I’ve seen, those reasons are not often linked to a crisis of belief in God, at least not at first. The crisis is Church-centric, but may eventually lead to a crisis of faith in God as proclaimed by the Church.

Certainly a big factor has been the exposure of the sexual abuse of children by clergy and, even more, its aftershocks. The strongest aftershock is the growing realization of how much the Church’s bishops and other managers covered up, enabled, perpetuated and even perpetrated abuse not only of children but of other vulnerable people and women.

Now we see reports of a Vatican cardinal indicted for financial corruption involving €350 million (about US$416 million) given by Catholics throughout the world toward the Peter’s Pence collection. This may mark the beginning of exposures that will touch every department in the Catholic Church’s “head office” where spectacular corruption has been “business as usual” for centuries.

Continue reading ‘Why do I still call myself a Catholic given the Catholic Church’s official face, generally dispiriting history and the inevitability of more and worse revelations to come?’ »

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Wants Govt to discuss with the International Monetary Fund and find the money needed to sustain the country’s economy;” Once we get the IMF certificate, we will be able to get money from countries like India, China and Japan” says EX-Prime Minister

By

Asiri Fernando

Former Prime Minister and United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday called for a parliamentary debate on the financial crisis the country is facing, urging the Government to seek IMF assistance to better navigate the difficult times ahead.

MP Wickremesinghe stated that Sri Lanka is facing a major foreign exchange crisis, pointing out that due to the shortage of dollars local banks were under pressure.

“I look forward to hearing a debate in Parliament on the current financial crisis over this serious issue. Because the financial affairs of the country are controlled by Parliament. The Central Bank and the Treasury operate under Parliament and not above it. Therefore, I request that under the privileges of Parliament a debate be held in regards to this matter,” MP Wickremesinghe said, issuing a video statement.

Continue reading ‘UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Wants Govt to discuss with the International Monetary Fund and find the money needed to sustain the country’s economy;” Once we get the IMF certificate, we will be able to get money from countries like India, China and Japan” says EX-Prime Minister’ »

Courtesy Calls Paid on New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa by the Ambassadors of the USA,European Union, Germany, Russia and China and the High Commissioners of India and the UK

Ambassadors of the US, Germany, China, Russia, the European Union and the High Commissioners of the UK and India called on Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa at the Ministry yesterday (July 14).

This was the first time the foreign envoys had met Rajapaksa since taking office as the Minister of Finance.

US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz, German Ambassador Holger Lothar Seubert, Russian Ambassador Yuri B. Materiy, Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong, EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay and British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton paid a courtesy call on the new Finance Minister.

Continue reading ‘Courtesy Calls Paid on New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa by the Ambassadors of the USA,European Union, Germany, Russia and China and the High Commissioners of India and the UK’ »

Widespread condemnation in Sri Lanka of govt’s brazen, unconscionable and partisan use of the pandemic containment regulations to quell public display of dissent

By P.K.Balachandran

There is widespread condemnation in Sri Lanka of the government’s brazen, unconscionable and partisan use of the pandemic containment regulations to quell public display of dissent.

The immediate issue is the forced 14-day quarantining of a small group of demonstrators after they were bailed out by a court. The Minister of Public Security Rear Adm. (Rtd) Sarath Weerasekara claimed that it was done not by the police on their own accord, but on the advice of the Director General of Health Services Dr.Asela Gunwardena and a request from the Public Health Inspectors (PHI). However, the head of the PHI Union, Upul Rohana, denied that the PHIs had anything to do with the decision.

The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) and several civil society organizations staged a protest at the Town Hall against the arrest and forced quarantining. Nineteen school teacher unions refused to conduct online lessons indefinitely as a protest. They are demanding the release of the Secretary-General of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU), Joseph Stalin, and 15 others. The teachers’ unions were also agitating against salary anomalies and problems in online teaching. Director of Catholic Schools, Fr Gamunu Dias, said that Catholic schools would abstain from teaching online classes as did the Eastern Province Tamil Teachers’ Union.

Continue reading ‘Widespread condemnation in Sri Lanka of govt’s brazen, unconscionable and partisan use of the pandemic containment regulations to quell public display of dissent’ »

Over 90 academics affiliated to the State university system Issue Joint Statement Raising concerns regarding the arrest and continued detention of Lawyer Hejaz Hizbullah and Poet Ahnaf Jazeem and calling for the Immediate Release of Both.


A press conference organised by a group of university academics yesterday called for the release of Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem. At the press conference a statement signed by over 90 academics affiliated to the State university system was released. The statement highlights a number of concerns we have with regard to the arrest and continued detention of Hizbullah and Jazeem and the anti-democratic actions that are taking place in general in the country.

Here is the full statement:

Decades of majoritarian politics, and the more recent descent towards authoritarianism and militarisation, have eroded the foundations of our democracy. They have numbed us to the violence in our daily lives and desensitised us to how sections of our citizenry are targeted. Over a year has passed since Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem were arrested, and they remain imprisoned to date.

On April 14, 2020, human rights and constitutional lawyer Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and detained under Section 9 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for over 10 months. At the time of arrest, his alleged crimes were “aiding and abetting” one of the Easter Sunday bombers. It later transpired that he represented the family in two land cases. He is now being charged with speech related offences under Section 2(1)(h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act. These are based on statements made by minors to the CID, which the children maintain they were coerced and threatened to make.

On May 16, 2020, the Police Counter Terrorism Investigation Division (CTID) arrested Jazeem, a poet and teacher from Mannar, on allegations that his book Navarasam contained “extremist ideas” and that he taught “extremism” to students. A review of the poems by an “expert panel” of psychiatrists, some with university affiliations, makes vague claims about the potential of the book to incite violence, hatred, and suicidal thoughts. Their report fails to provide the basis or justification for these judgments and even says that there were two discrepant sets of translations (Sinhala and English from the original Tamil) at their disposal, which fact should have called the entire operation into question. Contrary to the allegations of the CTID, recent translations reveal that the poems were deeply critical of violence.

Continue reading ‘Over 90 academics affiliated to the State university system Issue Joint Statement Raising concerns regarding the arrest and continued detention of Lawyer Hejaz Hizbullah and Poet Ahnaf Jazeem and calling for the Immediate Release of Both.’ »

Basil Rajapaksa Refutes Social Media Reports that he would Allow Import of Chemical Fertilizer again: :this is an attempt to derail the government’s organic fertiliser campaign,” Alleges the Finance Minister

By Shyam Nuawan Ganewatte

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa yesterday said that there were false reports circulating in social media that he would allow chemical fertiliser imports in an attempt to scuttle the government’s organic fertilizer campaign.

Minister Rajapaksa said that there was no truth in the claims being made on social media that the government was ready to import chemical fertilisers.

“This campaign is an attempt to derail the government’s organic fertiliser campaign,” the Minister said.

Continue reading ‘Basil Rajapaksa Refutes Social Media Reports that he would Allow Import of Chemical Fertilizer again: :this is an attempt to derail the government’s organic fertiliser campaign,” Alleges the Finance Minister’ »

With the Appointment of Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister In Sri Lanka the Government Looks Increasingly Like a Family Firm


By Mujib Mashal

The first attempt by a Rajapaksa to return to power in Sri Lanka was brief.

In 2018, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister, even though the man he was supposedly replacing said he still held the job. Mr. Rajapaksa eventually backed down, though not before chairs were smashed and chili powder and fists were thrown in Parliament.

But a year later, his brother Gotabaya was elected president. Since then, the Rajapaksas have stamped their name so thoroughly on Sri Lanka’s government that it feels like a family enterprise — albeit a struggling one, with the economy in tatters and discontent rising.

On Thursday, another brother, Basil, was sworn in as finance minister, a move that one analyst, Bhavani Fonseka, said “consolidated the Rajapaksa family rule.”

“We now have four brothers and several other members of the family holding key positions in government,” said Ms. Fonseka, a senior researcher with the Center for Policy Alternatives, a research institute based in Colombo, the capital. “In the face of a weak opposition and no real checks and balances on the executive, prospects for Sri Lanka’s constitutional democracy are deeply troubling.”

Continue reading ‘With the Appointment of Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister In Sri Lanka the Government Looks Increasingly Like a Family Firm’ »

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella seeks legal advice pertaining to what he calls the conduct of Sirasa TV:“I consulted our lawyers regarding a section of the media brazenly abusing their privileged status,” says Media Minister

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella says he has recently sought legal advice pertaining to what he calls the conduct of Sirasa TV.

Denying Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s accusations that the government was conspiring to suppress Sirasa, Rambukwella, who is also the co-cabinet spokesperson, told The Island, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya couldn’t challenge his right to take action according to the law.

Responding to another query, Minister Rambukwella emphasised that he didn’t do anything clandestine. “I consulted our lawyers regarding a section of the media brazenly abusing their privileged status,” the Media Minister said, urging the media not to propagate lies.

Minister Ranbukwella alleged that some interested parties had reacted as if he had called in underworld elements to discuss the issue.

Continue reading ‘Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella seeks legal advice pertaining to what he calls the conduct of Sirasa TV:“I consulted our lawyers regarding a section of the media brazenly abusing their privileged status,” says Media Minister’ »

Basil is Trapped in a Catch -22 Situation Between a crumbling economic system and the dogmatic rule of his siblings: , his ‘seven brains’ might be of little use when his hands are tied!


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Sri Lankan politics has been a good deal of family business. It was not even the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the progenitor of the SLPP that started it; D.S. Senanayake, the first prime minister flouted an implicit understanding of the succession and undercut two party seniors, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Sir John Kotelawala to pass the mantle to his son Dudley.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s ascension to power with the only conceivable qualification being the widow of the dead prime minister opened up a new phase of dynastic politics, but it was not just she who did it. The UNP fielded the widow of Gamini Dissanayake, Srima, but lost the election to another dynastic offspring, Chandrika Kumaratunga. Ranil Wickremesinghe, nephew of J. R. Jayawardene is also not the first one to destroy the party to keep the leadership within the family environs.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike refused to cave in after the ignominious defeat in 1977 and having lost her civic status, and as a result ineligible to contest, she led a campaign of sabotage to defeat the SLFP candidate for the presidential election of 1982, Hector Kobbekaduwa.

The Rajapaksas, of course, took the familial tradition of Sri Lankan politics to a new high. Rajapaksa brothers returned home from their residency in the United States to take up key government positions, and with a presidency for life almost within grasp after the 18th Amendment, the first family controlled half of the budget allocations during the second half of Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency.

Continue reading ‘Basil is Trapped in a Catch -22 Situation Between a crumbling economic system and the dogmatic rule of his siblings: , his ‘seven brains’ might be of little use when his hands are tied!’ »

With Basil joining the govt. as Finance Minister, the Sri Lankan Cabinet has five Rajapaksas, four brothers and one from the next generation.

by
Meera Srinivasan

To track the Rajapaksa family tree is to track the most important positions in the Sri Lankan government. With the recent appointment of Basil Rajapaksa, the youngest of the Rajapaksa brothers, as the country’s new Minister of Finance, Sri Lanka’s first family has further fastened its clasp on power.

The Cabinet has five Rajapaksas — President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (who is also Defence Minister), Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, and PM’s son and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa. The government has a few more, holding junior ministerial posts and key positions in state-run institutions. They remind sceptics of “family bandyism”, a term commonly used in Sri Lanka in the past, to refer to the Bandaranaike ruling clan.

Together, the Rajapaksas in government control a substantial chunk of the budget and policy. For the near 22-million people of the country, this means being steered by one powerful family. One that derives political legitimacy from its core support base of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists, with a known suspicion of Tamil and Muslim minorities and an unmistakable aversion to their rights.

Continue reading ‘With Basil joining the govt. as Finance Minister, the Sri Lankan Cabinet has five Rajapaksas, four brothers and one from the next generation.’ »

The “Basilaagamanaya” or the New Rise of Basil Politics has Established a Monarchial system of “Familarchy” by which the family is totally dominant in the government, economic management and social organisation of the country.


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The Basilaagamanaya or the New Rise of Basil Politics is having its immediate impact on the Rajapaksa Power Display.

Here is a clear warning to protest politics. Covid-19 is the new tool of Rajapaksa Power, with quarantine being the system of dominance. Leading trade unionists and student protesters are the showpieces of the new Basil Power in Sri Lankan politics.

Those who protested against the crisis facing paddy production, and against the Bill for new military dominance in the Kotelawala Defence University, are the symbols of the new Covid-19 power dominance of the Raja Vasala. Putting protesters into quarantine camps, and taking them there with the most foul and repulsive behaviour of the Police, is the new showpiece of Rajapaksa Power.

Continue reading ‘The “Basilaagamanaya” or the New Rise of Basil Politics has Established a Monarchial system of “Familarchy” by which the family is totally dominant in the government, economic management and social organisation of the country.’ »

Sri Lanka will apply to obtain up to USD 800 million worth of reserves from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) facility during August-September.

By Damith Wickramasekara

Sri Lanka will apply to obtain up to USD 800 million worth of reserves from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) facility during August-September.

A senior Treasury official said that under the current allocation, Sri Lanka should obtain reserves amounting to about USD 800 million. The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves. The value of the SDR is based on a basket of five currencies — the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British sterling pound.

The SDR is deposited with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) reserve to stabilize the country’s foreign reserves over the next few months, a senior CBSL official said. After Sri Lanka obtains the SDR, it sells the dollars to countries that purchases dollars, usually the US dollars.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka will apply to obtain up to USD 800 million worth of reserves from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) facility during August-September.’ »

Waves of brutal police violence directed towards trade union leaders, students, fishermen and farmers was a Chilling Message Sent to Dissenters by the Rjapaksa Regime


By
Kishali Pinto Jayawaardene

Waves of brutal police violence directed towards trade union leaders, students, fishermen and farmers in Sri Lanka this week underscored a deadly purpose on the part of the State. It was no accident that the clothes of female protestors were torn, that the media was shoved while covering these ugly scenes and even white haired peaceful demonstrators were roughly lifted and shoved into police vehicles.

A chilling message sent to dissenters

On the contrary, the precise intent of the (Rajapaksa) Deep State now firmly in the seat of the ruling establishment was to send a chilling message. ‘This is how you would be treated’ is the unmistakable signal to dissenters. Not only was force far beyond a reasonable extent used but also the police summarily sent those arrested off to remote quarantine centres after they were granted bail. This was absent in any assessment by public health personnel. There was not even a semblance of adherence to applicable legal norms. What the police and ‘public security’ handlers mocked were the courts, the judges and Sri Lanka’s legal system.

Thus, Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekera’s claim that any blame regarding the arrests of protesters should be laid at the door of the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) who had ‘prohibited’ public gatherings and not the police, is highly contemptible. This is tantamount to using a global pandemic to intimidate the citizenry. In fact, this claim is not traceable to any source except a passing casual reference to a ‘letter’ by the DGHS in a release issued by the police Media Division. Is this now the way that the law is being enforced, through police media releases?

Reference to any ‘ban’ is conspicuously lacking in any of the covid prevention guidelines issued by the DGHS. Meanwhile Regulations gazetted under Sections 2 and 3 of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance on October 15th 2020 only state that face masks must be worn at all times in ‘public places’ and a distance of one meter must be maintained. In fact, one must ask with reason if the DGHS is deaf, dumb and blind to the numerous violations of this directive by politicians when they hold their numerous events, jostling one another, be it at religious events or swearing in of Ministers?

Continue reading ‘Waves of brutal police violence directed towards trade union leaders, students, fishermen and farmers was a Chilling Message Sent to Dissenters by the Rjapaksa Regime’ »

Police Widely Condemned for Brutal Suppression of Democratic Protest in Bataramulla While the Army Earns Praise on the same day Through Effiicient Vaccination of People

By

Susitha Fernando

On July 8 (Thursday) we saw diametrically opposite results because the security forces are apparently being used for the government’s objectives. In a number of security forces camps around the country vaccination programmes were conducted with the participation of security personnel. With the true to life security forces discipline we saw how well organised the inoculation programmes were. On television we saw an aerial video footages taken from drone cameras, probably provided by the Army Media unit, how systematically physical distancing was maintained at those centres.

It was heartening to see how the vaccines were given even keeping elderly religious dignitaries in their vehicles and also security forces medical corps going to queues where there were feeble elders. Hats off to the Sri Lanka security forces! All in all it definitely created a positive vibrant among the people; even by those who oppose the much criticised ‘militarisation’ of the country. After all, most of those young members of the security forces are sons and daughters of parents living in rural remote areas of Sri Lanka. The troops came forward to protect the country and its people.

Unfortunately on the same day, at Battaramulla junction, we saw a diametrically opposite show by the Police where law enforcement officers violently suppressed protests initiated by teachers and university students. They were not directly protesting against the government’s political conduct, but to protect the rights of all for equal opportunities in education and demanding that the Kotelawela Defence University Bill be scrapped. The students alleged that the Bill was the first step towards the privatisation of education.

Continue reading ‘Police Widely Condemned for Brutal Suppression of Democratic Protest in Bataramulla While the Army Earns Praise on the same day Through Effiicient Vaccination of People’ »

“At times we will have to take certain unpopular decisions, just like how a father would for the betterment of his children and family. Therefore, I urge you all to support our efforts in these trying times,” -New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Appeals to the People.


Amidst internal and external challenges, seasoned political campaigner and results-oriented Basil Rajapaksa yesterday assumed the key portfolio of Finance Minister, promising to deliver economic growth and prosperity to people.

After much speculation and reservations among some, the all-important Ministry of Finance was handed over to Basil by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a subject most of the time held by the head of the Government or Parliament except during the Yahapalanaya regime.

However, the much-discussed subject of Economic Development wasn’t added though Basil handled it exceptionally well previously. Instead, the President felt it right to create a new ministry called the Ministry of Economic Policies and Planning, the mantle of which was given to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘“At times we will have to take certain unpopular decisions, just like how a father would for the betterment of his children and family. Therefore, I urge you all to support our efforts in these trying times,” -New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa Appeals to the People.’ »

“ There are numerous issues with regard to the Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA). Hon. Minister I can tell you very responsibly, you can’t amend the PTA, you have to repeal the PTA.- MA Sumanthiran MP

(Text of Speech made by TNA Jaffna District MP Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran in Parliament on the 06th of July 2021 on amendments made to the Convention Against Torture Act)

Thank you Hon. Deputy chairman of committees for the opportunity to speak a few words at the very important debate when the Hon. Minister of Justice has presented to the House amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, and to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act, and certain Orders for approval.

I must thank the Hon Minister for remaining in the House after presenting these Bills and listening to the various comments that are being made on this matter. The matters that have been placed before the House are very, very important and serious in nature.

What we see in the amending Act, in both the amending Bills, we welcome, because it seeks to make it obligatory on magistrates to visit Police stations and if I heard the Hon. Minister right, not just the Police stations but also other detention centers and examine and see whether the detainees are properly treated, particularly with the view to ensuring that there is no torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment meted out to them. So, on paper its a good move. But one wonders why this window-dressing is being made now?

If any of us who are aware of the actual situation with regard to torture in this country, would wonder why this amendment is being placed today?

So much for shouting from the rooftops that we are protecting our sovereignty, we are not bowing down to international pressure and all of that, but all of these façades are being built and I don’t know who you are trying to fool.

The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act was passed in 1994 and we have various researches that have been made with regard to the efficacy of this Act. 26 years of this Act has seen just 9 convictions, 6 of which are under appeal.

Continue reading ‘“ There are numerous issues with regard to the Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA). Hon. Minister I can tell you very responsibly, you can’t amend the PTA, you have to repeal the PTA.- MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

“Current economic, public health and governance crisis is so profound that it is beyond the capacity of a skillful Political and Economic deal maker like Basil Rajapaksa”


By

Meera Srinivasan

Basil Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, was on Thursday sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Minister of Finance, becoming the fourth Rajapaksa brother and fifth member of the first family to enter the Cabinet.

The eldest of the brothers, Chamal Rajapaksa, is a Cabinet Minister, as is Namal Rajapaksa, son of PM Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa’s son Shasheendra Rajapaksa is a non-cabinet minister.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa’s appointment, enabled by the resignation of a government MP and Sri Lanka’s national list system – through which political parties get extra seats to Parliament based on their vote share – comes at a crucial time for the Rajapaksa administration that is facing an unprecedented economic challenge, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. His entry was also made possible by the government removing a constitutional provision barring dual citizens — Mr. Basil Rajapaksa is also an American citizen — from entering Parliament.

Continue reading ‘“Current economic, public health and governance crisis is so profound that it is beyond the capacity of a skillful Political and Economic deal maker like Basil Rajapaksa”’ »

Appointment of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa as Nationl List MP undermines the sovereignty of the people and violates the Constitution of Sri Lanka – Centre for Policy Alternaatives

(Text of Centre for Policy lternaatives Statement on Constitutionality of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna National List Appointment , 7th July 2021).

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is concerned by several media reports that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has appointed Mr. Basil Rajapaksa to fill the National List seat which fell vacant by the resignation of Mr. Jayantha Ketagoda.

CPA notes that Mr. Basil Rajapaksa’s name was not included in the list of persons qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament, in terms of Article 99A of the Constitution (the “National List”) or any of the district lists submitted by the SLPP for the Parliamentary Election held in August 2020.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa’s appointment, is especially egregious because at the time of the last Parliamentary election, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa was disqualified from being elected as a Member of Parliament by virtue of his dual citizenship (Mr. Basil Rajapaksa is a citizen of the United States of America and also of Sri Lanka). As such the appointment of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa to fill this vacancy undermines the sovereignty of the people and violates the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Appointment of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa as Nationl List MP undermines the sovereignty of the people and violates the Constitution of Sri Lanka – Centre for Policy Alternaatives’ »

Can Basil Rajapaksa put a temporary stop to the puerile words and deeds of the regime’s more doltish actors and buy the dynastic project much-needed breathing space?


By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“It is like a tricycle. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the front wheel, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa are like rear wheels. If only one of the wheels is missing the tricycle will not run. That is the reality”

– Namal Rajapaksa (Newswire – 5 July 2021) –

Basil Rajapaksa, the economic superman, is here, to heal, to make whole
The mystical seven. Thebes had seven gates, ancient Egypt seven heavenly cows, Snow White seven dwarves. The tailor sewed himself a sash claiming, Seven with one blow. They were flies but who’d know that?

Now this magical, mythical seven has a new entrant. Basil Rajapaksa, we are informed, assured, reassured, has seven brains. This we know from an impeccable authority, an SLPP parliamentarian.

#Me Best, might be President Gotabaya’s mantra. But the emperor’s state is too stark to be ignored. A new saviour is needed to befuddle the disenchanted voters and to hearten the despairing votaries. Since the mindset is feudal and the project is dynastic, the saviour must be a Rajapaksa. Namal is too young for the mantle. In any case, primogeniture is an occidental concept. In the orient, brother succeeding brother was normal.

So, Basil Rajapaksa, the economic superman, is here, to heal, to make whole. True, the regime was always a trident. Basil Rajapaksa was the third prong when the tax base was denuded, interests slashed with a machete, and money printing turned into a children’s game. But facts are dispensable. The past is a work-in-progress, ever remade to suit present needs. Basil Rajapaksa is infallible now, just as his older brothers were then.

What is surprising is not Basil Rajapaksa’s advent, but the timing of it. Why is Saviour Season 3 unfolding while Saviour Season 2 is still in its first half?

Continue reading ‘Can Basil Rajapaksa put a temporary stop to the puerile words and deeds of the regime’s more doltish actors and buy the dynastic project much-needed breathing space?’ »

Newly Sworn in Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa Becomes the fourth Rajapaksa Siblin and fifth member of the family to enter the Cabinet: Ex-Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Given Newly Creted Ministry of Economic Policies and Planning.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Basil Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, was on Thursday sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Minister of Finance, becoming the fourth Rajapaksa brother and fifth member of the first family to enter the Cabinet.

Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal Rajapaksa is also a Cabinet Minister.

His appointment, enabled by the resignation of a government MP and Sri Lanka’s nationalist list system – through which political parties get extra seats to Parliament based on their vote share – comes at a crucial time for the Rajapaksa administration that is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

His entry was also made possible by the government removing a constitutional provision barring dual citizens —Mr. Basil Rajapaksa is also an American citizen — from entering Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Newly Sworn in Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa Becomes the fourth Rajapaksa Siblin and fifth member of the family to enter the Cabinet: Ex-Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Given Newly Creted Ministry of Economic Policies and Planning.’ »

Justice Ministry Proposal to Amend the Convention Against Torture Act is Intended as a “Window Dressing” For the Benefit of the European Union States TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran PC

By Aazam Ameen

Responding to the amendments proposed to the Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment Act and the Code of Criminal procedure act by Minister of Justice Ali Sabry in Parliament today (06), MP M. A. Sumanthiran of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) stated that while on paper such moves are welcome, he expressed that the Convention Against Torture Act has been a dismal failure.

The proposed amendments to the same seeks to make it obligatory for magistrates to visit police stations and other detention centres and examine whether the detainees are properly treated, particularly with a view to ensure that there is no torture or other cruel inhumane treatment.

“When was the last time a magistrate performed such visits, I’m asking the Minister of Justice. How are you going to enforce this? How will you enforce a magistrate to visit police stations and other detention centers, when there is no mechanism to do that? Even if you have a mechanism to enforce it, if magistrates are not conscientious enough to do what the law requires them to do, can you force them to do so?” he asked the Minister of Justice.

Referring to these amendments as “window dressing” Sumanthiran alleged that such moves are mere facades to fool people.

Continue reading ‘Justice Ministry Proposal to Amend the Convention Against Torture Act is Intended as a “Window Dressing” For the Benefit of the European Union States TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran PC’ »

SLPP National List MP Jayantha Ketagoda Resigns Seat for Basil Rajapaksa to be Nominated in his Place as MP: SLPP Gen -Secy Sagara Kariyawasam Tells Media that Basil Would be Sworn in as MP on July 8th and be assigned Cabinet Ministerial Responsibilities in Finance and Economic Development

By
Sandasen Marasinghe and Amali Mallawarachchi

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has nominated Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation Presidential Task Force Head and former Minister Basil Rajapaksa to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of MP Jayantha Ketagoda, the National Election Commission (NEC) said.

He said the relevant Gazette would be sent for publication today after a meeting of the NEC.

Continue reading ‘SLPP National List MP Jayantha Ketagoda Resigns Seat for Basil Rajapaksa to be Nominated in his Place as MP: SLPP Gen -Secy Sagara Kariyawasam Tells Media that Basil Would be Sworn in as MP on July 8th and be assigned Cabinet Ministerial Responsibilities in Finance and Economic Development’ »

Indian Envoy Gopal Baglay reiterates India’s support for devolution in Sri Lanka on the basis of full implementation of the 13A and early conduct of Provincial Council elections at meeting with Tamil Progressive Alliance elegation led by Mano Ganesan MP

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo)

A five member Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) delegation led by Hon. Mano Ganeshan Member of Parliament called on the High Commissioner H.E. Mr. Gopal Baglay today (6 July 2021) at India House. T

PA Members of Parliament Hon. Radha Krishnan, Hon. Udhaya Kumar, Hon. Velu Kumar along with TPA General Secretary Chandra Schaffer were present during the meeting. High Commissioner was assisted by Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Vinod K Jacob and Political Counsellor, Mrs Banu Prakash.

Continue reading ‘Indian Envoy Gopal Baglay reiterates India’s support for devolution in Sri Lanka on the basis of full implementation of the 13A and early conduct of Provincial Council elections at meeting with Tamil Progressive Alliance elegation led by Mano Ganesan MP’ »

The Legal Prosecution, Judicial Conviction and Presidential “Absolution” of Duminda Silva.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Arumadura Lawrence Romelo Duminda Silva known as Duminda Silva was the fortunate recipient of a munificent Presidential pardon on Poson Poya day. The convict on death row was released as a result of the Poson Poya pardon.

The Legal Prosecution, Judicial Conviction and Presidential “Absolution” of Duminda Silva – by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

Duminda Silva, a former Parliamentarian and ex-Provincial Councillor, was involved in a shooting incident in October 2011 during Local Authority Elections, where former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three of his bodyguards were killed. The High Court of Sri Lanka convicted Duminda Silva and four of his associates for murder and imposed the death sentence on them in September 2016. Subsequently the sentence was appealed but a five-Judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of Silva in October 2018. Despite the High Court conviction of 2016 being upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018, Duminda Silva was a free man in 2021 on Poson Poya.

Continue reading ‘The Legal Prosecution, Judicial Conviction and Presidential “Absolution” of Duminda Silva.’ »

Chinese Gui Lan (Pvt) Ltd, registered as a private limited liability company Takes Over Acres of Sea Lands in the North for sea cucumber hatchery and sea cucumber nursery in Ariyalai and Poonagary Without a permit from the National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka (NAQDA).

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By S. Rubatheesan

Northern fishing communities are up in arms against a Chinese joint venture company because it has taken over acres of sea-land to harvest sea cucumber, severely limiting the space for local fishermen to engage in the same business.

As part of an extension to its sea cucumber hatchery, the Chinese joint venture has set up a baby sea cucumber nursery in Kowtharimunai, a northern coastal village in the Pooneryn Divisional Secretariat

Pasaiyoor Fishermen Federation Chief P. Mathan told the Sunday Times that the new nursery would pose a livelihood threat to local businesses which ran their sea cucumber farms with limited facilities and capital.

“Compared to the Chinese joint venture, our investments are nothing. The company uses sophisticated nets and methods while we struggle to stay afloat in the business,” Mr Mathan said, pointing out that the company was set up largely to supply baby sea cucumbers to local farms.

Continue reading ‘Chinese Gui Lan (Pvt) Ltd, registered as a private limited liability company Takes Over Acres of Sea Lands in the North for sea cucumber hatchery and sea cucumber nursery in Ariyalai and Poonagary Without a permit from the National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka (NAQDA).’ »

Basil is Entering Parliament “with the knowledge and consent of the Prime Minister and myself. Whatever some may say, the Rajapaksa brothers take decisions together and work together.” Says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa


By

Gajaba

During a meeting with some of his close associates this week, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed there was an organised attempt via social media and some mainstream media organisations to foster a view that there was a split within the ranks of the Rajapaksa family.

The main thrust of this operation was being conducted through social media, the President said. “They are saying that the PM and I both oppose Basil entering Parliament. They are trying to spread this story to gain political advantage for the Opposition. The people of this country know the truth. They know that whatever some may say, the Rajapaksa brothers take decisions together and work together.”

Continue reading ‘Basil is Entering Parliament “with the knowledge and consent of the Prime Minister and myself. Whatever some may say, the Rajapaksa brothers take decisions together and work together.” Says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ »

57 schools and seven universities in Sri Lanka offering Chinese language courses;”Interest among students and the general public in Sri Lanka towards learning the Chinese language has grown over the past few years saays China’s Envoy Qi Zhenhong


Interest among students and the general public in Sri Lanka towards learning the Chinese language has grown over the past few years, China’s Ambassador Qi Zhenhong says.

There are now 57 schools and seven universities in Sri Lanka offering Chinese language courses, Zhenhong said on Friday as he addressed the awards ceremony of the Sri Lankan preliminary contest of the 20th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign University Students. The 2021 edition of the competition was held online this year.

Continue reading ‘57 schools and seven universities in Sri Lanka offering Chinese language courses;”Interest among students and the general public in Sri Lanka towards learning the Chinese language has grown over the past few years saays China’s Envoy Qi Zhenhong’ »

The seething fury of Sri Lanka’s farmers is genuine. It transcends party divisions and party loyalties. What drives that movement is the hunger of their families and the despair of agricultural communities left adrift by a disastrously mismanaged policy decision by this Govt

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As the seething fury of Sri Lanka’s farmers spills over onto village roads and sets the country ablaze with war cries of ‘give us fertilizer to farm our crops, our paddy lands and our vegetable fields,’ the best role that an utterly inept and incompetent Opposition can play is to refrain from polluting this anger by putting their grinning faces in front of that mass outpouring.

Were the covid-19 ravages not enough?

Continue reading ‘The seething fury of Sri Lanka’s farmers is genuine. It transcends party divisions and party loyalties. What drives that movement is the hunger of their families and the despair of agricultural communities left adrift by a disastrously mismanaged policy decision by this Govt’ »

33 Govt Backbench MP’s Meet at Matale MP Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon’s Residence and Resolve to Extend Collective Invitation Requesting Basil Rajapaksa to Enter Parliament as National List MP

By

Gajaba

Government backbenchers, meanwhile, are intensifying their efforts to ensure that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) architect, Basil Rajapaksa, enters Parliament. Spearheading the campaign are mainly first-time MPs. They met last Sunday evening at MP Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon’s residence at Anderson Road in Dehiwala for what was termed as a decisive discussion on the matter.

When a group of these MPs had met the previous day to draw up plans for the meeting, some had pushed for the meeting to be held at the SLPP head office while others wanted it to be held at the residence of one of their own. It was then that Mr Tennakoon had offered his residence for the meeting.

Continue reading ‘33 Govt Backbench MP’s Meet at Matale MP Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon’s Residence and Resolve to Extend Collective Invitation Requesting Basil Rajapaksa to Enter Parliament as National List MP’ »

Sri Lankan author Kanya D’Almeida is the Overall Winner of 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘I Cleaned The – “; Kanya is the first Sri Lankan to win the overall prize and the second to win for the Asia region.


Thirty-four-year-old Kanya D’Almeida has been announced as the overall winner of the world’s most global literature prize.

The Commonwealth Foundation announced D’Almeida’s win in an online award ceremony which featured readings from Zambianauthor Mubanga Kalimamukwento, Sri Lankan actress Ranmali Mirchandani, British actress Lyndsey Marshal, Jamaican author Kei Miller and Australian actress Francesca Savige.

Kanya D’Almeida

D’Almeida, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, was named the winner by British-Jamaican actress Dona Croll who presented the online ceremony. D’Almeida is the first Sri Lankan to win the overall prize and the second to win for the Asia region.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan author Kanya D’Almeida is the Overall Winner of 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘I Cleaned The – “; Kanya is the first Sri Lankan to win the overall prize and the second to win for the Asia region.’ »

Speaking at Tiananmen Square on July 1st, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party China’s leader Xi Jinping pledges that any foreigner who tried to bully China would “dash their heads against a Great Wall of steel, forged from the flesh and blood of over 1.4 bn Chinese people”.


For all who believe that people are endowed with inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that just governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, it was alarming to hear the loud applause and cheers that greeted Xi Jinping on July 1st, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party.

Speaking at Tiananmen Square, China’s leader had just pledged that any foreigner who tried to bully China would “dash their heads against a Great Wall of steel, forged from the flesh and blood of over 1.4bn Chinese people”.

The party crushes individual liberties with despotic ruthlessness. Yet its leaders are sure that they govern with the consent of the vast majority. As a result they claim to enjoy as much legitimacy as any democracy.

It would be dangerous complacency to dismiss the cheering in the square as an empty show. True, the crowd was hand-picked and bused in hours ahead of Mr Xi’s arrival. Almost all details of the event were kept secret beforehand.

But as often with Chinese officials’ paranoia, it was probably unnecessary. Without prompting, lots of ordinary people express sincere admiration for Mr Xi and would cheer him in person if given the chance.

Continue reading ‘Speaking at Tiananmen Square on July 1st, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party China’s leader Xi Jinping pledges that any foreigner who tried to bully China would “dash their heads against a Great Wall of steel, forged from the flesh and blood of over 1.4 bn Chinese people”.’ »

The Colombo Port City Act could well end up being a modern-day Trojan horse or a Nanjing Treaty for Sri Lankans in the years ahead.


By

Mangala Samaraweera

“Reflect continually on the fact that all things as happen now, also happened before, and on the fact that they will happen again. The whole dramas and the comparable scenes… from history of the past… All these were similar only the actors were different”

– Marcus Aurelius

The Sunday Times of 27 June says that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a commemorative coin for the centenary of the Communist Party of China. This news followed ‘hot’ on the heels of the Colombo Port City bill which the Government tried to rush through Parliament until the Supreme Court shot down a few of the clauses which could have violated our sovereignty and posed a serious threat to our country’s independence in the years to come.

Adding to the paranoia of many Sri Lankans was the shocking exposé by ‘Sirasa,’ one of the leading broadcasters in Sri Lanka and perhaps the only truly independent TV station in this country today ( I too have been at the receiving end of its criticisms during the various periods I served as a Cabinet Minister, during the last three decades) where we saw Chinese personnel in Chinese military uniform dredging a historic lake in the deep south (where youth unemployment is at its highest) under the patronage of a senior Cabinet Minister of the ruling family.

These are a few examples which makes one wonder whether the principle of “extraterritoriality” being applied liberally in our statecraft today is seen as the continuation of diplomatic relations with a friendly country or as a major infringement of Sri Lankan sovereignty. Will the historians of the future call this point in time as the beginning of Sri Lanka’s century of humiliation?

Dynastic China and Western powers

China is one of world’s greatest and most ancient countries; more a civilisation than a country! The “Celestial dynasties” which ruled for millennia sincerely believed that they were the heavenly representatives sent to rule a vast kingdom – Honguo/the middle kingdom, refined and civilised in a world of barbarians. The Emperor was perceived as mankind’s supreme sovereign, often referred to as the “Emperor of humanity” and his diplomats were called “Heavenly Envoys from the Celestial Court”.

As Honguo was considered the centre of the universe, all interactions with the ‘barbarians’ of the outside world were controlled and limited; learning/translating the languages of the barbarians were banned without special permission, entering and traveling within the kingdom was also not allowed and only the Port of Guangzhou (Canton) was open to foreigners to conduct their trade. Even the envoy from the Queen-Empress Victoria had to hang around the port for weeks until it was decided to grant an audience with the Emperor in Beijing on the basis that the English diplomat will ‘kowtow’(to prostrate oneself and to touch the ground with ones forehead thrice) before the Emperor when received in the Royal court.

With the advent of high imperialism in the 17th century, Western powers tried repeatedly to penetrate this vast kingdom for trade/commercial purposes but China remained one of the few Asian countries which could not be colonised by the British to become a part of the Empire where the ‘sun never sets’.

Continue reading ‘The Colombo Port City Act could well end up being a modern-day Trojan horse or a Nanjing Treaty for Sri Lankans in the years ahead.’ »

British Conservative Party Human Rights Commission’s report on the human rights situation in China titled “The Darkness Deepens. The Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2016-2020” discusses evidence of serious human rights abusesin China

By
Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab

“Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world” so states a quote often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. Whether or not these words were spoken by Napoleon Bonaparte, in recent years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created a very concerning reality to this statement.

In recent years, report after report has shed light on the dire treatment of ethno-religious minority groups in China. Especially the Uyghur Muslims who have endured mass incarceration in so-called reeducation camps, indoctrination, physical and sexual abuse, modern day slavery, forced sterilization, forced abortions, and much more.

Continue reading ‘British Conservative Party Human Rights Commission’s report on the human rights situation in China titled “The Darkness Deepens. The Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2016-2020” discusses evidence of serious human rights abusesin China’ »