“One-eyed Sivarasan” The Mastermind Behind Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

Rajiv Ratna Gandhi – India’s Prime minister from 31st October 1984 to December 2nd 1989 – was assassinated at Sriperumbudur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu exactly twenty – five years ago on May 21st 1991. Rajiv Gandhi as he was generally known was in Sriperumbudur to address a propaganda meeting in support of Congress party candidate Ms. Maragatham Chandrasekhar. The 47 year old Indian ex – premier was then immersed in a hectic political campaign to win the Indian Parliamentary elections.

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

It was then that a Sri lankan Tamil girl known by the name of “Dhanu” got close to Rajiv Gandhi and gave him a sandalwood garland. The be – spectacled girl in an orange and green churidar then bent down respectfully to touch Rajiv’s feet. She set off a concealed explosive device that was strapped to her body. Rajiv Gandhi, the assailant Dhanu and at least 18 others were killed in the blast instantly. 42 were seriously injured.

A few of the injured also succumbed to their wounds in hospital later on.The “human bomb” assassination that was soon to become a hallmark of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization rocked India and shocked the world.
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Remembering Rajiv Gandhi on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Death

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Twenty – Five years ago on this day (May 21st) Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam(LTTE). The date of Rajiv Gandhi’s death has poignant significance for me personally. May 21st is the date of my birth. My birth and his death, which happened thirty – seven years later, are inter-twined in my consciousness. Rajiv’s memory looms large on each birthday. Some people who wish me regularly on my birthday remind me of this. I think of him very often on my birthday. It is hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since Rajiv’s death.

Signing of the Accord-1987

Signing of the Accord-1987

Initially I had welcomed the Indo-Lanka accord of July 1987 but soon became critical of India after fighting broke out in October 1987. As time went on my thoughts about the Indian role and Rajiv Gandhi too began to change. Looking at the predicament of the Tamils I felt that the Indo – Lanka accord with all its short – comings would have been much better for Tamils in particular and Sri Lanka in general if it had been allowed to be implemented fully from the time it was signed.

Political Achievement

The Indo-Lanka accord signed on July 29th 1987 by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R.jayewardeneI is the only tangible political achievement gained by Sri Lankan Tamils in the sphere of ethnic relations in post-Independence Sri Lanka. It is against this backdrop that I think of Rajiv Gandhi and all what had transpired in the aftermath of the accord in a contemplative mood. I write pensively therefore of Rajiv, his death and its aftermath and also of his legacy the 13th Amendment and would be relying to a great extent on some of my earlier writings as I walk down memory lane.
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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, The “Pithala Handiya” Explosive Attack And Sarath Fonseka

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

GR032213

Former Sri Lankan army commander Sarath Fonseka came out with a bombshell statement some days ago in Parliament. The ex –army chief now a Cabinet minister in the Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Government accused his erstwhile comrade -at – arms and former Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of having “stage managed” an assassination attempt on himself nearly ten years ago in order to win sympathy for his family the Rajapaksas. Fonseka who was serving as army commander at that time was referring to the incident on December 1st 2006 in which a suicide bomber belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) tried to ram an explosive laden three –wheeler into the vehicle in which Defence secretary Rajapaksa was travelling in.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa


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How Kandiah Ulaganathan Alias “Col” Ramanan of the LTTE was Killed by a Sniper in the East 10 Years Ago

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 26th 2006 under the heading “Life and Times of Kandiah Ulaganathan – (“Col” Ramanan)”. It is being re-posted here to denote the tenth anniversary of Ulaganathan alias Ramanan’s death)

Kandiah Ulaganathan known to the world as “Col” Ramanan of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed on Sunday May 21st 2006 . Ramanan fell victim to a sniper or hidden gunman as he was inspecting the forward defence lines (FDL’s)at Vavunatheevu in the region known as “Paduvaankarai” (Shore of the setting sun) on the west of Mattakkalappu Vaavi or Batticaloa lagoon.

Ramanan was a senior commander serving with the tigers since 1986. Rising from the ranks he has held many different positions within LTTE folds during the course of his tumultous career as freedom fighter. It was only a few weeks ago that Ramanan was made Lt. Col and nominated as deputy – military commmander of Batticaloa – Amparai LTTE by tiger supremo Velupillai Pirapakaran.

“Col’ Bhanu from Ariyalai in the North ern Province is in overall charge for Batticaloa – Amparai districts as Special Commander. Senior tiger leader Nagesh had been appointed military – commander for both districts with Ramanan as his deputy. Both Nagesh and Ramanan are sons of the Eastern soil. In addition to being deputy military commander Ramanan was also supervising the intelligence wing in the region with Keerthy running day to day affairs.

Ramanan had been on an inspection tour of LTTE positions along the lagoon shores from noon that Sunday 26th. He was almost winding up that evening when he reached Vavunatheevu. He was chatting merrily with tiger cadres manning the frontline outposts when an accurate bullet from a sniper’s rifle smashed into his skull.

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How 13 Tamil Civilians Were Killed By the Navy and EPDP in Allaipiddy – Velanai on May 13th 2006

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 16th 2006 under the heading “Navy –EPDP Kill Thirteen Civilians in Allaipiddy – Velanai”. It is being re-posted here to mark the tenth anniversary of the killings. No one has been prosecuted or convicted for the killings so far)

Thirteen Tamil civilians including two women and two children were killed in three incidents of violence on the night of Saturday May 13th 2006 in the Allaipiddy and Velanai islets off Northern province’s Jaffna peninsula . Another man and woman were seriously injured while at least eleven businesses including a telecommunication centre were destroyed through deliberate arson. Personnel in civils from the Sri Lankan Navy and cadres of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) were suspected of being responsible.

Those of us who read English poetry of an earlier vintage may recall ” The Cottar’s Saturday Night” by Robert Burns. Scotland’s national bard had written a masterpiece about the calm ,serene life of a humble cottar as he settled down for the night peacefully with his family in his cottage. It was however a different night of deadly violence that lay in store for the victims of an extended family in Allaipiddy on Saturday May 13th 2006.

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Tragedy Descends Upon Pallebage as Parts of “Saamasaara Kanda” Mountain Crumble and Fall.

By Dharisha Bastians in Aranayake

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

The wails of Prema Adikari, 58, mingle with the howls of a small brown dog as they both stare at the muddy remains of a collapsed house on the hill through sheets of rain falling in the area again Thursday morning. A red collar made of twisted string is still fastened to the dog’s neck, a sign that he once belonged to someone in the landslide hit area. Villagers in Pallebage, say the dog has been howling for two days, when parts of the mountain crumbled and fell, crushing small settlements that lay upon its slopes.

Prema Adikari says her brother and his family of three lived in the house on the hill. “The neighbours had shouted for them to leave but I don’t think they heard over the gushing waters of the canal nearby during the rain,” she explains sobbing.

Behind her, a team of elite army commandos rushed up the slippery mountain to dig through the rubble in an effort to recover three bodies residents claimed were buried in the landslide debris. Adikari was convinced they were the remains of her family that was crushed by the mudslide on Tuesday evening.
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Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Counters Allegations Against Him In Interview

By C. A. Chandraprema

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s term of office ends in June this year. There have been calls from opposition politicians as well as good governance activists for the government to investigate alleged malpractices in the issuance of treasury bonds during his tenure before reappointing him for another term. One of the bond issues was investigated by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) but parliament was dissolved just before the day on which the report of the COPE sub-committee headed by D. E. W. Gunasekera was to be tabled inP. In this exclusive interview with The Island, Governor Mahendran contests the allegations against him.

Q. If you look at the front page of The Island today (Wednesday), Mr D. E. W. Gunasekera has called for an investigation into what he refers to as the ‘bond scams’ before your term is extended in June this year. He calls this the biggest scam in Sri Lankan history. Aren’t all these problems due to the fact that you started going in for bond auctions instead of direct placements as was the earlier practice?

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58 Killed, 132 Missing Due to Lanslides:414,827 Persons Affected by Rains and Floods with 43 dead and 28 missing- Over 300,00 Evacuated as Kelani River Rises by 10 feet

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The death toll from the Aranayake landslide in the Kegalle District could rise to 135, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Media Spokesman Pradeep Kodippili told The Island yesterday. He, however said the figure had not been confirmed officially.

According to the latest figures issued by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC): disaster have left 58 persons dead; 132 are missing

The Officer-In-Charge of Aranayake Police confirmed only 11 deaths from massive landslide and said 135 remained missing. “Search operations are still going on.”

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) yesterday declared another 170 landslide prone areas in six districts and called for immediate evacuation of residents from those areas.

In addition a total of 43 people had been confirmed dead due to floods and related disasters across the country since last week.

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Canada Ready to Help Sri Lanka set Up Robust Accountability Mechanism With Foreign and Commonwealth Investigators,Prosecutors and Judges.

Canada is willing to assist the Sri Lankan Government to set up a robust accountability mechanism to investigate and address serious violations of international law during the war, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Issuing a statement on the seventh anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka, the Canadian Prime Minister said he is encouraged by the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to seek accountability.

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Similarities and Differences Between Jayalalithaa “Amma” of Tamil Nadu and Mamata “Didi” Of West Bengal.

BY RONOJOY SEN

May 19 decided the fate of two of the most powerful women politicians in India: Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. While Mamata expectedly returned to power in West Bengal, albeit by a larger margin than expected, Jayalalithaa became the first chief minister in Tamil Nadu in three decades to buck anti-incumbency.

Though there are striking similarities between Jayalalithaa and Mamata, the differences are equally stark. The way they ran their campaigns in the 2016 elections offers a clue. Mamata crisscrossed West Bengal for nearly 60 days addressing some 200 rallies; Jayalalithaa on the other hand was present at only 30-odd election meetings.

But first the obvious similarities. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are undisputed leaders of their respective parties, the AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. The two parties are virtually identified with the two women leaders and theirs is the last word in the party. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are larger than life though the very fact that the former is known as Amma (mother) and the latter as Didi (elder sister) point to subtle differences on how they are not only seen by the public, but also on how they want to project themselves.

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With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.

Poised for a successive term in office with her party establishing clear leads in over 125 seats, AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday said her party had managed the “historic” win despite absence of an alliance and hailed people’s faith in her.

Making a victory speech from her Poes Garden residence amid a steady stream of visitors, including top officials, she thanked the voters for choosing her party and vowed to work with a new found energy for the welfare of people of Tamil Nadu.

“I am overwhelmed by the resounding victory the people of Tamil Nadu have given us. My party and I are indebted to the people of Tamil Nadu for giving this historic victory,” a beaming Ms. Jayalalithaa said even as hundreds of supporters swarmed her house.

Continue reading ‘With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.’ »

“I Call Upon the Entire Nation to Remember on May 19th the Brave Armed Forces Who Sacrificed Their Lives”

By

Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a hard hitting statement yesterday blasted the authorities for releasing hardcore LTTEers numbering a few hundred, while armed forces personnel were being arrested and held continuously without bail.

“My government did not try to exact revenge from LTTE cadres captured at the end of the war. We rehabilitated and released more than 11,000 LTTE combatants. It was only around 200 to 300 of the most dangerous terrorist operatives who were kept in detention with a view to taking legal action against them for various crimes,” he explained

The full text of President Rajapaksa’s statement:

On 19 May 2016, we mark the 7th anniversary of the victory of our armed forces over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam which had officially been designated by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation as the world’s deadliest and most effective terrorist organisation outranking even Al Qaeda. This was a victory that captured the imagination of the whole world. I consider it a privilege to have been able to give political leadership to the armed forces to enable them to achieve this feat which has become an inspiration to all countries beset by terrorism.

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40 People Killed and Over 100 Missing Due to Floods and Landslides Created by Torrential Rains in Sri Lanka

by Maheesha Mudugauwa

Mudslides set off by torrential rains rushed down rain-soaked hills in two districts, sweeping away scores of houses and killing at least 40 people in three villages during the past two days, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday. More than 100 others are missing.

Sixteen people were killed by a landslide at Kalupahanawatte in Bulathkohupitiya and the bodies of 16 people killed by a landslide in Elangapitiya village in Aranayake in the Kegalle District have been recovered. Another landslide occurred at Kadugannawa, killing six people on Monday.

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President and Constitutional Council Must Thoughtfully Reflect Before Extending Term of Central bank Governor in June.

By

Chandra Jayaratne

Civil Society breathed a sigh of relief post “January 8th 2015 Change” and looked forward to commitments of Transparency, Good Governance, Rule of Law and Ethical Conduct of Leaders, returning, being respected and strictly complied with in governance.

The resignation midterm of the last Governor was indeed good news. The expectations were high upon the new appointee to serve the balance term being an ex- Central Banker, with requisite experience to give leadership to this important public institution. This view prevailed, despite Civil Society urging the consideration of a more recently retired Central Banker to be the choice.

In any event, the civil society expected greater transparency, focus on delivering core accountabilities, assurance of effective macroeconomic governance, financial stability, effective disclosure, independent and integrity driven decision making and policy directives, coupled with giving independent advice to the government to be the core values driving the Central Bank. These expectations were to supplement assuring an end to the use of the Central Bank and its resources and policy making powers, to further political and personal objectives and seeing an end to conflicts of interest driven pump and dump style management of public resources of the EPF and suspect practices in long term bond issues.

Civil society, reflecting on the outcomes of Central Bank governance over the past 15 months can only conclude that their hopes have been dashed and that the governance platform and results realized are no better than under the previous regime. The new Governor must take total responsibility for this situation, as he has failed to live up to expectations of society.

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My Reasons for not Wanting to Climb Sri Pada Mountain Again.

By

Bandula Jayasekara

For whatever reason, I never wanted to climb Siri Pada better known as Samanala Kanda (Butterfly Mountain/Peak). I wouldn’t call it Adams Peak because it was Robert Knox who called it that. Knox could have called it Butterfly Peak instead, because Adam was nowhere near this peak. I once went to climb it with three German and Danish friends and decided not to climb it when I saw the mayhem and commercial like activities at Nallathanni. However, this time I climbed it in the interest of the viewers of Sirasa TV Pathikada. In a way I am glad I climbed it, because I can share with you with my views and thoughts, and tell you why I will not climb it again. It is up to you, if you want to climb it.

It is true, we call it Samanala Kanda. But, I hardly saw butterflies there. Even the butterflies have left the Butterfly Mountain because it has become a disgusting environmental disaster. I saw more filthy hotels and traders and more polythene rather than the nature I expected until I climbed to the peak. It was filthy, smelly, dirty and full of garbage. I pity the innocent village folks who climbed it with faith and devotion to the Buddha. None of them cared. They accepted things as it were. I don’t think the Buddha ever wanted innocent people full of devotion to climb a peak like that. I regret very much, I didn’t find the climb serene and peaceful as it should be. Many who I spoke to agreed. They told me they were helpless and only could share their thoughts with me.

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Canada Welcomes Decision Taken By Sirisena- Wickremesinghe Govt to Call off “Victory day Parade”

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Against the backdrop of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government calling off Victory Day Parade held annually to celebrate Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE, Megapolis and Western Province Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has organised a war heroes’ commemoration at Panagoda Army Cantonment tomorrow (May 19) at 3.15 pm.

Minister Ranawaka will make a special statement at the Bodhirajarama temple in the cantonment. The JHU heavyweight will explain the circumstances leading to the cancellation of the Victory Day Parade to pave the way for religious observances and cultural events.

The military brought the war to a successful conclusion on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on the morning of May 18, 2009.

The main government sponsored event will be held at the war memorial parliamentary grounds with President Maithripala Sirisena’s participation at 4 pm today (May 18).

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DEW Gunasekera Urges President Sirisena not to Extend Term of Governor Arjuna Mahendran Without Probing Central bank Scams.

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Communist Party (CP) leader D.E.W. Gunasekera on Monday urged President Maithripala Sirisena not to extend the term of the Central Bank (CB) Governor Arjuna Mahendran, which is scheduled to end in June, without a thorough investigation into alleged bond scams during his tenure.

Former Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Gunasekera told a media briefing at Dr. N.M Perera Centre in Borella that the appointment of the CBSL Governor was the President’s prerogative.

Referring to the good governance activist and former Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chandra Jayaratne’s recent letter written to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting it to oversee the activities of Sri Lanka’s government bond market, Gunasekera stressed that the CBSL was not providing information regarding government bond issuance since its first scam was revealedby the media last year.

“I haven’t seen any media reports on recent bonds scams of the CB and the reason was that the CB was hiding the bond issuance details from the public,” he said.

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Is Mangala Samaraweera Mocking Mahinda Rajapaksa or Is Mahinda Rajapaksa Mocking Mangala Samaraweera ?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Mangala Samaraweera had written a letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa last weekend. In this open letter he had mentioned that war crimes had taken place during the war. While Mangala was accusing Mahinda of war crimes, Mahinda completed his visit to Uganda and returned. Mahinda went to Uganda to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni. There was an element of excitement at this function when President of Sudan Omar al Bashir who has been accused at the International Criminal Court arrived at Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony.

It is reported that at that juncture, Ambassadors from Western Countries who were participating in the ceremony, got up and left the venue. The reason was that the President of Sudan was ridiculing the warrant issued by the International Criminal Court and visiting countries friendly towards him.

When the President of Sudan arrived, the President of Uganda introduced him while severely criticizing the International Criminal Court. At that moment, former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa was among the foreign leaders present. The problem is that, Mangala provided air tickets to Mahinda to go and attend the Ugandan President’s swearing-in ceremony and to salute the President of Sudan.

The other thing is why is Mangala silent on the decision taken by Uganda to invite Mahinda and not the present Head of State of Sri Lanka to this function?

Continue reading ‘Is Mangala Samaraweera Mocking Mahinda Rajapaksa or Is Mahinda Rajapaksa Mocking Mangala Samaraweera ?’ »

Mervyn Silva Entrusted With Task of Turning “Joint Opposition” Into a Joke in the Eyes Of The Media

By

Rasika Jayakody

Media Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage ran into a storm recently when he sent out a press communiqué cautioning the media over the term ‘Joint Opposition’.

Even the highest echelons of the political sphere were perturbed over Bopage’s press conference as they thought the move would boomerang on the government, in some way or another.

However, Bopage’s press communiqué – intentionally or not – was a manifestation of the ruling coalition’s political concerns. Although the Joint Opposition group does not have a significant stake in Parliament, they make a lot of noise on the government, causing trouble for the government on multiple issues. They hold press conferences on a daily basis and ensure a strong presence in the media space. This, needless to say, may be a worry for the ruling coalition which is already grappling with a number of economic and political issues.

Many thought Bopage’s press communiqué would contribute to the government’s problems rather than solving them. Some said Bopage should have complained to the Speaker over the matter, without the media directly. Some opined that Bopage should have kept silent on the matter, allowing the media to exercise its will over the ‘controversial’ term.

It was in this context that former Minister Mervyn Silva, a strange political creature of our time, convened a ‘special press conference’ on Monday. A day before the press conference, Silva was present before the Police Financial Crimes Investigations and many assumed that the press conference might have a connection with the FCID matter.

However, the journalists who went to cover Silva’s press conference were surprised to see a giant banner displaying the name ‘the Joint Opposition.’ For a moment they thought Silva was going to extend his support to the ‘Joint Opposition’ group whose leader is former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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Maybe President and Prime Minister Will Mark 7th Anniversary of War’s End With the People of the North?

By

Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

It is now seven years since the end of the war and the onset of a post-war situation. In that time the roots of conflict were not addressed but sustained and even reproduced. In the North and East, people observed that things may have looked better, but felt worse. There and throughout the country, rights were at best irrelevant and at worst subversive. Then, sixteen months ago there was an election that promised to change everything. In order to do that though, some things had to be put on the backburner if those things were to be ever addressed at all. The overarching priority was to win the election and irrespective of ethnicity and religion, people voted for change, hitherto considered impossible.

Are we now on the road to reconciliation, to a post-conflict world in which the sources of conflict are not sustained and reproduced? Yes, No, Perhaps, Maybe?

Continue reading ‘Maybe President and Prime Minister Will Mark 7th Anniversary of War’s End With the People of the North?’ »

Time To Stop Talking About Corruption in Sri Lanka And Start Taking Serious Action

By Vishwamithra1984

“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”
~John Steinbeck

It’s time we stopped talking about corruption and started taking some serious action!

Commissions and committees have outlived their usefulness. The people are tired and sick of the pace at which these various bodies, whether they are armed with judiciary powers or not, proceeding against whom allegations are dragging on. The public ire and wrath is greatly amplified by the fact that one of the critical issues on which the current regime ran its Presidential Campaign in January 2015 was corruption, nepotism and lack of good governance on the part of the Rajapaksas. Eradication of corruption and nepotism and setting up of good governance were the promises held out.

The people, by and large, decided to throw the Rajapaksas out despite the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa, the defeated Presidential candidate, presided over the defeat of the brutal Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) led by Prabhakaran in a cruel war. The people decided that the harm and injury done unto the character and core values of Sri Lankan life by the Rajapaksas justified their verdict. I’m sure it must have been a hard decision to arrive at. Yet they did.

The election itself was tainted by some unprecedented violence and cruelty visited upon those who opposed Rajapaksa. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts played a very diabolical game of electioneering. Their campaign reflected a mind, character and ‘means of achieving ends’ of a desperate and cruel cabal of men and women. Most of the Ex-President’s men and women today stand accused of gross indulgences in corruption, nepotism and violation of fundamental rights of the people.

The people delivered their verdict. Now it’s up to the country’s governing parties and the judiciary system to deliver theirs. Any delay and hesitancy will be construed as incompetency at best and denial at worst. Whichever way one takes it, it’s not good for the present day rulers.

Continue reading ‘Time To Stop Talking About Corruption in Sri Lanka And Start Taking Serious Action’ »

Changing Over From Coal to Liquefied Natural Gas Would result in Power Plant Being Shifted to Western Coast of Sri Lanka Instead of East Coast Sampoor

By P.K.Balachandran

The governments of Sri Lanka and India will begin discussions on replacing coal by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the 500 MW Indo-Lankan power plant to be set up at Sampoor in Eastern Sri Lanka, the Lankan Power Secretary, Dr.Suren Batagoda, told Express on Tuesday.

“ At the moment, the changeover to LNG is only an idea to be discussed. No decision has yet been taken to replace coal by LNG,” Batagoda added in clarification.

The Lankan High Commissioner in India, Esala Weerakoon, confirmed to Express that President Maithripala Sirisena had requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to replace coal by LNG in view of objections from environmentalists. Weerakoon also said and that, as per the assurance of the Indian PM, his officials will discuss the changeover with their Lankan counterparts.

Continue reading ‘Changing Over From Coal to Liquefied Natural Gas Would result in Power Plant Being Shifted to Western Coast of Sri Lanka Instead of East Coast Sampoor’ »

President Sirisena Must Instruct SL Navy to Arrest 10 Tamil Nadu Fishing Trawlers Every week Until Poaching Is Stopped

By

Dr.Steve Creech

“India seeks Sri Lanka’s help to stop Indians fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters”.

This isn’t quite how the Indian press worded Narendra Modi’s request to Maithripala Sirisena when they met in New Delhi on Friday. The headlines in the Indian media said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pushed for a permanent solution to the issue of Indian fishermen during his talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. The issue is of course illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by Tamil Nadu trawlers in Sri Lankan waters.

A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations’ Asian Pacific Fishery Commission ranks IUU fishing by Tamil Nadu trawlers in the Sri Lankan waters of the Palk Bay as ‘Hot Spot No. 7’ in its regional review of IUU fishing by foreign fishing vessels. The FAO UN report estimates that the number of vessels engaged in IUU fishing in Sri Lanka was 2,625 trawlers, 278 gill-netters and 650 outboard motorboats in 2010. The catch that is illegally harvested by Tamil Nadu trawlers from Sri Lanka waters is estimated to be 100,000 metric tons, annually.

The UN report’s finding tally with records of sighting of Tamil Nadu trawlers in Sri Lankan waters by the Sri Lankan Navy. According to navy records Tamil Nadu trawlers made 282,864 illegal fishing trips into Sri Lankan waters between the end of the conflict in 2009 and December last year. 15,374 trawlers fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters were individually identified and the ID numbers communicated to the Indian High Commission in Colombo, according to navy sources.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Must Instruct SL Navy to Arrest 10 Tamil Nadu Fishing Trawlers Every week Until Poaching Is Stopped’ »

President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Modi to Convert Proposed Coal Power Plant in Sampoor to Liquified Natural Gas Power Station

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convert the Sampur Power Station in Trincomalee from a coal power plant to one powered by liquified natural gas (LNG).

Modi has responded positively to Sirisena’s suggestion, and asked his officials to discuss the issue promptly with their Sri Lankan counterparts, and move forward.

This was revealed to The Island here today by Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Esala Weerakoon.

The Sampur project figured in the bilateral deliberations between the two sides on Friday. President Sirisena raised the issue, and Modi reacted to the former’s suggestion favourably.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Modi to Convert Proposed Coal Power Plant in Sampoor to Liquified Natural Gas Power Station’ »

Military Security Provided to Ex – Defence Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Replaced by Police on a Stagggered Basis

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Army security provided to former Defence Secretary Lt. Col. (Retd.) Gotabhaya Rajapaksa too would be removed in stages according to the government’s policy decision to hand over the VIP security to the police commandos, the Defence Ministry said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Government Information Department, Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi said the Police Special Task Force would ensure and take responsibility for the former Defence Secretary’s security without any lapse.

Answering a query by The Island, he said, at present 50 Army commandos were deployed in the security detail of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was the Defence Secretary 2005-2015. The government forces crushed the LTTE terrorists under Rajapaksa stewardship.

Continue reading ‘Military Security Provided to Ex – Defence Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Replaced by Police on a Stagggered Basis’ »

Aviation Minister Jayaratne’s Unqualified Daughter Sachini Nayanthara Appointed to Newly Created Post of International Relations Officer at Civil Aviation Authority

By

Nirmala Kannangara

Director General, Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) continues to be in the public eye, aligning himself as he does, with successive governments in order to safeguard his position. This is despite the numerous malpractices he has allegedly been involved in over the years.

It is surprising indeed that the good governance administration which came into power 17 months ago promising to take action against all state officials who misappropriate public funds and give relief to the general public, has so far failed to take action against CAASL which continuous to be a den of corruption. Despite the assurances given, the present government too has allowed the same old shady state officials to continue in corruption and in some instances given them more facilities to misappropriate public funds in the guise of providing ‘better services’ to the industry.

Following our continuous exposes on alleged malpractices taking place at the CAASL, it has now been revealed how its Director General had allegedly hoodwinked the Department of Management Services of the General Treasury during the latter part of the previous regime to get a new post created at the Authority specially for the then subject minister’s offspring. This he saw as a means by which he could gain immunity from being investigated for the malpractices he was engaged in, at the expense of public money.

Continue reading ‘Aviation Minister Jayaratne’s Unqualified Daughter Sachini Nayanthara Appointed to Newly Created Post of International Relations Officer at Civil Aviation Authority’ »

Tamils Have Moved Away From the 1976 Vadddukkoddai Resolution For Tamil Eelam After 1987 Indo – Lanka Accord says TNA Leader R. Sampanthan.

By

T.Ramakrishnan

In a strange coincidence, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan will participate together in a public event on Saturday, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Vaddukoddai resolution.

The two leaders will be in the ancient Indian city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to take part in the valedictory event of the Kumbh Mela.

Forty years ago, Mr. Sampanthan — then a member of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) — was one of those who supported the demand for Tamil Eelam (independent country for Sri Lankan Tamils) while Mr. Sirisena’s political mentor Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the all-powerful Prime Minister.

Continue reading ‘Tamils Have Moved Away From the 1976 Vadddukkoddai Resolution For Tamil Eelam After 1987 Indo – Lanka Accord says TNA Leader R. Sampanthan.’ »

Similarities Between Sri Lanka Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa travelled to Uganda to grace the inauguration ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni, who was sworn-in for his fifth term. It could have been a bitter sweet moment for MR, who like his host, dreamt of being the President for life and amended the constitution to that effect, but, alas, then lost the election to his former health minister. MR was among an illustrious gathering of African leaders, including Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, the last named is implicated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Some Western envoys at the event reportedly walked out in protest after the host made disparaging comments about the ICC. If the Ugandan President- who unlike our local politicos has not forgotten his old friend in his bad times — is just another tin-pot dictator, that would not make much news. After all, Africa has bulk produced such individuals over the decades. On the contrary, Museveni was earlier feted as a new African statesman and a pioneer of a new generation of smart African leaders, who had a vision and a drive to bring stability and relative prosperity to a region ravaged by kleptocratic despots, warlords and cross-dressing cannibals.

Under Museveni, who first came to power in 1986 ending a long running civil war and later elected to presidency in 1996, Uganda has recorded steady economic growth, investment has flown in (So did some Ugandan Indians who were early kicked out by Idi Amin) and the country has introduced free primary education. However, over the time, Museveni, like his Sri Lankan counterpart succumbed to the temptation of power, amended the Constitution to remove presidential term limits, and now rules the country for his fifth term.

Continue reading ‘Similarities Between Sri Lanka Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda’ »

Lankan Navy Is Building Church Hall for Pilgrims in Kachchatheevu On a Written Request Made by Catholic Bishop of Jaffna Diocese

By

P.K.Balachandran

Contrary to reports emanating from Tamil Nadu, the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) is not building St.Anthony’s church at Kachchativu on its own, but is doing so at the written request of the Bishop of Jaffna, the local parish priest, Fr.Jeyaranjan, told Express on Sunday.

Bishop Rev.Dr.Justin Gnanapragasam had made a verbal request to the SLN in his speech at the last St.Anthony’s Feast held at Kachchativu on February 22. He followed it up with a written request to the Sri Lankan government, Fr.Jeyaranjan said.

The parish priest of Delft Island who is also in charge of Kachchativu, clarified that it is the Catholic Church in Jaffna which is building the church, and that the SLN is only carrying out a contract.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Navy Is Building Church Hall for Pilgrims in Kachchatheevu On a Written Request Made by Catholic Bishop of Jaffna Diocese’ »

Lankan Navy Commander Refutes Baseless Charges In India About Naval Facility Being Built in Kachchatheevu.

By

T. RAMAKRISHNAN

The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on Sunday dismissed reports that it planned to build a naval facility on the Katchatheevu islet, which was ceded by India to Sri Lanka during the June 1974 bilateral agreement.

Talking to The Hindu, SLN Commander Vice-Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne termed “baseless” the reports that the Navy had planned to install a detachment on the islet. “Our role in the proposed construction of a new shrine at St. Anthony’s church has been blown out of proportion,” the Commander added.


After Vikas Swarup’s observations

The Commander’s attention was drawn to observations of the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in the Indian government, Vikas Swarup, a few days ago that the Indian High Commission had been asked to provide more details on the reports and the move to build a shrine without informing India.

Recounting how the Navy got involved in the construction of the shrine for which the foundation stone was laid a week ago, the Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne explained that when the annual two-day Katchatheevu festival took place in February this year, the help of the Navy was sought by both the Diocese of Jaffna and visiting Indian pilgrims, mostly fishermen, for putting up a new shrine as the existing one was too small to accommodate the pilgrims and it was very old.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Navy Commander Refutes Baseless Charges In India About Naval Facility Being Built in Kachchatheevu.’ »

India Goes Ahead With Sampoor Power Project But Lankan Govt is Divided With Ranil Faction Supporting And Maithri faction Opposing

By P.K.Balachandran

The Indo-Lankan project to build a 500 MW coal fired power plant at Sampoor in Eastern Sri Lanka is on, despite opposition from an influential section of the Lankan government, reliable sources told Express on Sunday.

“Reports about the project being abandoned had come out in the past too, but these proved to be baseless,” the source said. .

Only the other day, the Board of the Trincomalee Power Company Ltd., which is a Joint Venture between the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) of Sri Lanka, had met in Colombo and decided to float a global tender at the end of May for the construction of the 2X250 MW plant.


And it is learnt that India has thrown its full weight behind the project. New Delhi sees it as a critical part of its strategic interest in having a say in the Lankan energy sector.

Continue reading ‘India Goes Ahead With Sampoor Power Project But Lankan Govt is Divided With Ranil Faction Supporting And Maithri faction Opposing’ »

MP From TNA Allegedly Imports Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports AB10 Dynam SDV6 Luxury Vehicle at Undervalued Price

by Madura Ranwala

A TNA MP has taken delivery of a tax free luxury vehicle, a used Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports ABIO Dynam SDV6, this week by underestimating the real value of the vehicle and paying only Rs. 1,750 as Customs Declaration fee. It is the second luxury vehicle cleared so far by parliamentarians.

According to a top Customs union source, though the vehicle had been declared as second hand, it was virtually brand new.

The MP has violated the Customs Ordinance by underestimating its value and exceeded the permit limit of USD 60,500 parliamentarians are entitled to.

“Under the Customs Ordinance, underestimating a vehicle value is a fraud”, a senior member of the Sri Lanka Customs Unions told The Island last night.

Continue reading ‘MP From TNA Allegedly Imports Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports AB10 Dynam SDV6 Luxury Vehicle at Undervalued Price’ »

Construction of 2nd St. Anthonys Church in Kachchatheevu by Sri Lankan Navy Suspended Due to Protests By Indian Govt

The construction of a new church on the island of Kachchativu has been stopped by the Sri Lankan Government after India raised issues over it.

Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne told the Sunday Times construction work had been suspended until the issues were resolved. He said the Navy had been asked to undertake the construction by Jaffna’s Bishop the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bernard Gnanapragasam.

The foundation stone was laid last Monday. Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne said the Bishop had pointed out to him during last year’s Kachchativu feast, attended by thousands of devotees from Sri Lanka and South India, that the existing church was too small.

Continue reading ‘Construction of 2nd St. Anthonys Church in Kachchatheevu by Sri Lankan Navy Suspended Due to Protests By Indian Govt’ »

Faultlines Dividing Moderation From Extremism Run Through Each Civilization and Each Religion.

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Have you learned nothing from history?”

Freud (The Future of an Illusion)

In the US, Donald Trump, the orange-haired billionaire whose claim to fame includes a string of spectacular business failures, is about to become the official nominee of the Republican Party. In the UK, Sadiq Khan, the son of immigrant parents from Pakistan, defeated an insidious campaign of religious fear-mongering to become the mayor of London. Mr. Trump, whose anti-immigrant plans include building a wall along the border with Mexico and an outright ban on Muslims entering the US, announced that he will most probably make an exception in the case of London’s new Lord Mayor. Mr. Khan politely turned down the concession, warning that Mr. Trump’s incendiary rhetoric “…risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”i

Mr. Trump, in his obsessive desire to gain the presidency, has embraced Salvationist politics, portraying himself as the political saviour of white Christian Americans. In this advocacy of government of, by and for the ‘chosen people’, chosen on the basis of a primordial identity, Mr. Trump is no different from the Islamic State (IS) or fundamentalists of any other religion or race. From orient to occident, extremists of every race and fundamentalists of every creed have a similar aim – the purification of the land (reinen in the Nazi parlance) by evicting/suppressing the racial, religious or politico-cultural ‘Other’.

In Sri Lanka, before Black July and the long Eelam War, there was the myth of the encroaching Tamil who was taking over ‘our’ schools, ‘our’ universities and ‘our’ government jobs. Today there are similar whispers about the moneyed Muslim who predominates in ‘our’ shops and ‘our’ holiday resorts. In between there was – and will be – grousing about the insidious Christian who is converting ‘our’ people.

Continue reading ‘Faultlines Dividing Moderation From Extremism Run Through Each Civilization and Each Religion.’ »

While President Sirisena Was Addressing Anti – Corruption Summit in London , Ill-informed LTTE Supporters Demonstrate Against Him at Wrong Venue

by Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Pro-LTTE activists in the United Kingdom got it mixed up and protested at the wrong venue in the belief that visiting President Maithripala Sirisena was attending the Anti Corruption meeting at Marlborough House.

This was, in fact, a separate conference initiated by the Commonwealth Secretariat for Non Governmental Organization Group members.

While the LTTE sympathizers were demonstrating, the Sri Lankan leader was addressing the Anti Corruption Summit at Lancaster House in London.

He said the Sri Lankan people defeated the former corrupt regime at the last poll and elected his government democratically.

Continue reading ‘While President Sirisena Was Addressing Anti – Corruption Summit in London , Ill-informed LTTE Supporters Demonstrate Against Him at Wrong Venue’ »

Criteria and Procedures Adopted By Constitutional Council For Selecting suitable Candidates Must be Transparent Urges UN Special Rapporteur Monica Pinto

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

In a notably pungent observation at the close of her mission visit to Sri Lanka this month, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Mónica Pinto took pains to remind Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council of one fact.

This was that the Council, set up with great expectations under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, must make its rules of procedure and functional regulations publicly available. As she pointed out in her preliminary findings, the criteria used to evaluate candidates’ suitability for a given position by the Council must be in the public domain. Such transparency would ‘contribute to dissipating possible accusations of deliberate opacity and arbitrariness’, it was noted.

Why this reluctance to adhere to basic rules?

Even though this recommendation was largely (and unsurprisingly) ignored by the media, it remains by far, one of the most important findings in this mission report. It homes in on a specific lynchpin of the regime change last year, namely the commitment of the ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) administration to ensure that the evils of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution are rolled back. For that objective to be achieved, the transparency and the public accountability of the Council is paramount.

Continue reading ‘Criteria and Procedures Adopted By Constitutional Council For Selecting suitable Candidates Must be Transparent Urges UN Special Rapporteur Monica Pinto’ »

Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam Awarded Gratiaen Prize 2015 For His Unpublished Poetry Manuscript ” White Lanterns – Wesak 2011″.

Poetry took centre stage last evening as Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam was awarded the Gratiaen Prize 2015 for his unpublished manuscript ‘White Lanterns – Wesak 2011’. The annual prize recognises the best work of creative writing in English by a Sri Lankan resident and comes with Rs. 200,000 in award money.

This year’s judging panel for the 23rd edition of the Gratiaen Prize included Captain Elmo Jayawardena, Tracy Holsinger and Dr Dinali Devendra. The five writers shortlisted this year were vetted from over 50 entries.

Among the shortlisted works this year were Ashok Ferrey for his novel ‘Ceaseless Chatter of Demons’, Shehan Karunatilaka for his novel ‘Devil Dance’, Chammi Rajapathirana for ‘Traveller’s Tales’ – the author’s memoir about autism, Grace Wickremasinghe’s collection of poetry ‘Closure’ as well as Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam, himself.

Continue reading ‘Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam Awarded Gratiaen Prize 2015 For His Unpublished Poetry Manuscript ” White Lanterns – Wesak 2011″.’ »

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Open Letter to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

By Mangala Samaraweera

(Text of an open letter written to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera)

My dear Mahinda,

I still vividly recall the first time I met you. It was at the SLFP Party Headquarters on Darley Road in June 1988, which I attended in my capacity as the new SLFP organiser for Matara. I also remember being moved by the impassioned speech you made during the meeting about the widespread disappearances across the country and the responsibility of the SLFP playing an active role in finding these persons. I found your words exhilarating and it was the beginning of a long friendship. At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike who chaired the meeting called you over and introduced me to you as Mahanama’s son.

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in London as a fashion and textile designer, I was more at home in the bohemian artistic world of London at that time having qualified as a fashion and textile designer. My belief that I should do something about the large scale disappearances and other human rights violations in the South especially in and around my birthplace, Matara, finally pushed me to leave the comfort-zone of fashion, art and design and become a full time politician. And then we became ‘brothers-in-arms’, championing a number of democratic, progressive and humane causes. This led to the formation of the Mother’s Front Movement on the verandah of my ancestral house in Walpola, Matara in 1990 where you graciously accepted my invitation to be a co-convenor, along with me, of this historic movement.

Buoyed by the attention the Mothers’ Front was receiving, you started portraying yourself as a savior of human rights. You also became a champion of the free media and workers’ rights. In fact, we attended the inaugural meeting of the Free Media Movement at the New Town Hall together. You also took a leading role in the Padha Yathra protest made against alleged human rights violations of the Premadasa administration. Your single minded commitment to many of the values I too cherished since my student days struck a familiar chord bonding our friendship even further.

However, the many statements you have been making lately, especially the recent statement made by you opposing the Human Rights Council resolution, brings me genuine sorrow because it reminds once again that your role as a great human rights defender and upholder of democracy was merely an act done for the sake of political expediency while you were in the Opposition.

In fact, I realised this bitter truth only after you climbed to the top of the greasy poll of power and became President ten years ago. If you remember, before parting company in 2007, I sent you a thirteen page handwritten letter emphasising my concerns that your policy of dismantling democracy, ignoring reconciliation and violating the basic tenants of good governance would lead to the country’s ruin and your own downfall as well. But instead of learning from those mistakes, I fear that stubbornness, hate and greed continue to cloud your judgement, leading you down the very same path of destruction.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Open Letter to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Lankan Foreign Ministry Paid For Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Business Class Travel to Uganda for Musaveni ‘s Swearing In Event

By
Dharisha Bastians

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s much-hyped trip to Uganda this week was plunged into controversy after documents emerged showing the former leader had requested the Government to pay his travel expenses and facilitate his visit to the African country.

The ex President was invited to attend the inauguration of the controversial Uganda President Yoweni Musaveni who was sworn into office for the fifth time this week after an election that the opposition claimed was rigged.

Daily FT is in possession of several documents proving that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid Rs. 425,000 for business class travel for the ex President from Colombo to Kampala, via Dubai. The ticket has been issued by World Air Pvt Ltd, a ticketing agency located on Havelock Road, Colombo 05, on 5 May 2016 in the name of RAJAPAKSA PERSY/M. The ticket has been invoiced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Highly placed sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily FT that the Ministry had only agreed to pay for the air ticket, and declined to bear costs for the former President’s accommodation.

Rajapaksa and his entourage had booked rooms at the Speke Resort Munyonyo for the duration of their visit.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Foreign Ministry Paid For Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Business Class Travel to Uganda for Musaveni ‘s Swearing In Event’ »

The truth about Udayanga Weeratunga: Is the government playing Russian Roulette?

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The ‘controversy’ surrounding Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga was revived again with the recent visit of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to Thailand. A photo uploaded on the web by Weeratunga of himself standing beside his relative Rajapaksa during this visit, has gone viral. This episode led to renewed allegations from the yahapalana government – this time around the charge being that Weeratunga is ‘wanted’ in RUSSIA over arms smuggling, and for questioning over the death of Noel Ranaweera, a former employee of Sri Lanka’s mission in Moscow. There were calls to ‘probe’ the Weeratunga-Rajapaksa meeting in order to ascertain Weeratunga’s whereabouts and track him down.

Days after the Weeratunga-Rajapaksa meeting in Thailand, UNP National List MP Nalin Bandara at a media briefing at Sirikotha said that the Russian government had told the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry that Weeratunga is ‘wanted for questioning’ in Russia over charges of weapons smuggling to rebels, and that the Russian government had even named the rebel groups.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Colombo has confirmed that Weeratunga is not “wanted” for any offence in Russia. Responding to a phone query the embassy’s Press Secretary Evgeniya Altukhova asked “Wanted – by whom? That is the important question. In Russia, Udayanga is not wanted for any questioning. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia has nothing to ask him. We have no suspicions of him.” Referring to the remarks made by the MP, Altukhova said “I can only question his sources,” and that the information “is not from us.”

She observed that the Ukrainian ambassador too has made a statement rejecting the accusations made against Weeratunga, but qualified the remark by saying this would have to be independently checked. “If Udayanga has any problem, the only problem is in Sri Lanka” she said.

Continue reading ‘The truth about Udayanga Weeratunga: Is the government playing Russian Roulette?’ »

Police TID Arrests 4 Top Eastern Ex-Tiger Leaders Who Worked With Military Intelligence After War Ended

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

A widespread security crackdown has been underway in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Over 20 former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)organization have been reportedly taken into custody over the past weeks in a staggered security operation spearheaded by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID)of the Police.Almost all of the ex-LTTE cadres are being detained under provisions of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). They are being reportedly interrogated by TID officials at Jaffna, Vavuniya, Boosa and Colombo.

SLP

Many of the arrested ex-tigers were persons who had surrendered after the war ended in May 2009. They had been detained for a period of time and later released after being put through a rehabilitation process. Some of the ex –tigers currently arrested are reportedly persons who have not gone through the process of rehabilitation. They had apparently not surrendered after the war and had evaded capture in the past. While close upon 12,000 former LTTE members who surrendered have been released after rehabilitation , it is also estimated that about 4,000 ex-tigers who did not surrender continue to remain in Sri Lanka. There are also large numbers of former LTTE members who have fled Sri Lanka after May 2009. These include both rehabilitated and non – rehabilitated ex-tiger cadre.
Continue reading ‘Police TID Arrests 4 Top Eastern Ex-Tiger Leaders Who Worked With Military Intelligence After War Ended’ »

Did President Request Prime Minister to Reconsider Appointments of Finance Minister Karunanayake and Central bank Governor Mahendran?

By

Dharisha Bastians

Maithripala Sirisena travelled to London yesterday to attend an International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the British Government.

The summit is aimed at ‘driving out the culture of corruption wherever it exists’. Some of the world’s most corrupt political leaders will flock to London this week, an irony that was not lost on British Prime Minister David Cameron who was recorded telling Queen Elizabeth II recently that the leaders of Nigeria and Afghanistan, two countries he referred to in the conversation as “fantastically corrupt”, would be attending the Anti-Corruption summit.

The Sri Lankan President attends the summit in London on a slightly different footing. As the reformist President who was swept to power on an anti-corruption, good governance and transparency platform, even one year later he continues to be recognised by the international community as a progressive politician trying to make Sri Lanka fit better in a world crying out for more transparent government.

But President Sirisena’s problems at home trying to reform a political system riddled with corruption, nepotism and shadowy wheeler-dealing are far removed from his global image.

On Sunday (8), most of the political firmament turned up at the Cinnamon Grand for the wedding of Rakitha Rajapakshe, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and son of Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

‘Wedding of the year’

Few members of the Yahapalanaya administration feel a compulsion to keep up appearances of austerity in public life. At the Rajapakshe wedding, over 800 guests were in attendance, with the hotel’s Oak Room car park closed off and used as a massive banquet tent for the ceremony. Every guest was sent an electronic key card with their invitation, to be carried along with them to the wedding. At the Atrium lobby entrance to the main ballroom, ushers swiped guests in on computers that displayed their name and table numbers and escorted them to their tables.

Continue reading ‘Did President Request Prime Minister to Reconsider Appointments of Finance Minister Karunanayake and Central bank Governor Mahendran?’ »

Why are the Attacks on “Rivira”Editor Upali Tennekoon and “Nation” Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Not being Investigated?

By

Malinda Seneviratne

After the late Lalith Athulathmudali was killed in April 1993, many pointed fingers at the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa whose wrath the murdered man had earned by breaking away from the United National Party along with Gamini Dissanayake and others to form the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). President Premadasa vehemently denied involvement and publicly declared his innocence

A commission was appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to probe the assassination as part of an election pledge, even through investigations carried out by the Police and Scotland Yard had concluded that Athulathmudali was killed by Appiah Balakrishnan aka Ragunathan, allegedly an LTTE affiliate. Those findings of the Commission implicated President Premadasa by the logic of association. Later, these conclusions were set aside in the Writ Application No. 1, 2 and 3 of 1999 filed in the Supreme Court by Sirisena Cooray, and former DIG Seneviratne.

Now, more than 23 years after Athulathmudali was assassinated, his brother Dayantha, speaking at the Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Lecture on May 9, 2016, has called for a fresh probe. Much has been written about these several investigations and the entire affair has been shrouded by controversy and intrigue, leaving the general public still in doubt as to the true identity of the assassin and his paymaster. As such, Dayantha Athulathmudali has all the right to demand a fresh probe.

Some might object pointing out to the date of the crime and the length of time that has since passed. However, if truth is the objective, then time cannot be an objection. This is exactly what’s wrong with the various calls for probes regarding alleged war crimes. It is wrong to privilege a particular time period, especially in a war that lasted close to three decades.

Continue reading ‘Why are the Attacks on “Rivira”Editor Upali Tennekoon and “Nation” Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Not being Investigated?’ »

Govt Perturbed Over Intelligence Report About Basil Rajapaksa Meeting Serving Sri Lankan Army Major – Generals


By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Recently the government received a report from the Intelligence sector. The report stated that Basil Rajapaksa had secretly held discussion with several Major Generals of the Army. As soon as this report was received the government became perturbed. Generally, if Army officers are to meet not only politicians of the Opposition, but even government politicians approval has to be obtained from the Army Commander. The Major Generals have met Basil sans any such approval.

This meeting took place a while after media reports appeared that Major General Chagi Gallage who was in Jaffna had had a heated exchange of words with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Media had also reported that subsequent to this incident Chagi Gallage was transferred to Colombo. When the government received this report from Intelligence sources that Basil had met the Major Generals, they immediately took steps to remove Army protection provided to Mahinda and Gotabaya.

Mahinda’s media office had later issued a video tape where the Army members who had been in the security contingent of Mahinda worshipped at Mahinda’s feet prior to leaving their duties.

Continue reading ‘Govt Perturbed Over Intelligence Report About Basil Rajapaksa Meeting Serving Sri Lankan Army Major – Generals’ »

Sri Lanka’s Day of Shame When Its Robust MP’s Engaged in Mob Violence Inside Parliament


By

A. Patabendige

It was the Speaker of a rainbow coalition House that said at an International Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting at Lusaka, Zambia (and not Geneva, SL’s Everest in submission) that SL “is one of the countries with a robust and strong democracy, Parliamentary democracy”. On 6 May 2016 SL’s people had a close shave with that ‘democracy’ if it was just ‘one’ or not. The IPU, if not National Geographic, must still be trying to pinpoint that SL after what happened in that ‘one’ on 6 May 2016.

On that day there was a free for all in that ’one’ democracy. It went on for 11 minutes. It started after the PM, responding to objections about replacing the security contingent of the former President from Army to Police, asked FM Fonseka to speak. He did so, carefully reading, possibly for the first time, from a prepared script. Hooting began from the well of the House, where some opposition MPs, followed by some Government MPs were gathering. A well known ‘lion’s’ roar could be heard well.

Repeated and forlorn cries of “shame there are school children in the gallery” went unheeded. Not one leader ordered, instructed, or directed the unruly MPs to get back to their seats. No riot act was read. Some party leaders were seen intently leading, inches from the bellowing mob. Although the cries of ‘shame’ continued, no one took notice. The school children had seen worse.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Day of Shame When Its Robust MP’s Engaged in Mob Violence Inside Parliament’ »

Entry of JVP Into Student Politics Led to Pernicious Form of Ragging and Student Violence In Universities

By Kumudu Kusum Kumara

If Sri Lankan university academics turned a blind eye to ragging and student violence as they are accused of by some, the reasons for that could be complex. Ragging and student violence in Sri Lankan universities have been linked to student politics to which the teachers’ politics also has been linked at certain times and varying levels. Students and teachers in the universities shared an interest in politics from the early days of university, when the traditional left parties such as the Communist Party and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party dominated the university political scene. There was a healthy atmosphere of political activism mainly among students.

Teachers adhered to ‘Queensbury rules’ of staff politics that kept staff politics away from students. However, these rules were discarded soon even before the end of the first decade since the University of Ceylon was shifted to Peradeniya. In the 1958 tar brush campaign against Tamils at Peradeniya, university teachers influenced students. Students were manipulated more openly in politics during 1970-77 period where both the manipulated and those who manipulated them received rewards, in terms of political patronage and protection.

In the history of Sri Lankan universities ragging has been traditionally interpreted as a measure to level out the influence of class element among students in terms of economic and social background and habits, the school one attended, and whether one was rural or urban.

Continue reading ‘Entry of JVP Into Student Politics Led to Pernicious Form of Ragging and Student Violence In Universities’ »

Sri Lankan Navy Builds Second St.Anthony’s Church in Kachchatheevu at Request of Jaffna Catholic Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) is building the second St.Anthony’s church in Kachchativu at the request of the Bishop of Jaffna, Rev.Dr.Justin Gnanapragasam.

The foundation stone of the church was laid on Wednesday after it was blessed by the Vicar General of the Jaffna Diocese, Rev.Joseph Das Jebaratnam, in the presence of the Deputy Commander of the SLN in Jaffna, Com. Meril Sudarshana, and the Parish Priest, Fr.Anthony Jeyaranjan.

Naval spokesman Capt.Akram Alavi told Express that the construction will be completed in six months so that the next St.Anthony’s Feast (in February 2017), could be conducted there. Built over an area of about 3,500 sq ft, the church will cost LKR 10 million (USD 68,617).

During the Feast this year, the Bishop of Jaffna had requested SLN chief, Vice Adm.Ravi Wijegunaratne, to construct a new church as the existing one is too small to accommodate the thousands who come from various parts of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Navy Builds Second St.Anthony’s Church in Kachchatheevu at Request of Jaffna Catholic Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam’ »

The Prime Minister is Fast Becoming the Country’s Most Polarizing Personality

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

This May Day I resisted the siren song of being participant-observer (engaging in “participatory action research” as the late GVS de Silva termed it), and preferred to stay home, surf the three channels that provided live coverage of the main May Day mobilizations, track the newscasts on all channels, and peruse the social media and still photographs, especially the overhead shots, over the next few days.

On the morning after, my impressionistic conclusion was that the UNP (whose demonstration was more impressive than its meeting) came first by either a nose or a whisker, followed by Kirillapone and Galle, in that order.

Kirillapone with its gigantic inverted T shape consisting of thick crowds on Baseline road, High Level Road and up to the Arpico Nawinna showroom, was perhaps one and a half (or quarter) times as large as Galle—and this without any state patronage or even the official status of the Opposition.

That said, for all effective purposes what we saw on May Day were three political formations, which while not of identical size, were (to borrow Dr. Henry Kissinger’s phrase) of “essential equivalence” or “rough equivalence”.

Continue reading ‘The Prime Minister is Fast Becoming the Country’s Most Polarizing Personality’ »

No Disciplinary Action Against SLFP Members Attending Kirullapona May Day Rally Discloses Dilan Perera

by Dasun Edirisinghe

State Minister of Highways Dilan Perera yesterday said the SLFP would win the forthcoming local government election together with party strongmen and people who gathered at Kirulapone and Galle May Day rallies.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters on Darley Road, Perera said SLFPers who had attended the two May Day rallies wanted to unite former Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena to achieve victories at future elections.

Perera said the SLFP would not take disciplinary action against its MPs who attended Joint Opposition Kirulapone May Day rally ignoring the party’s May Day rally in Galle.

Continue reading ‘No Disciplinary Action Against SLFP Members Attending Kirullapona May Day Rally Discloses Dilan Perera’ »

Distrust between the Sinhalese and Tamils is almost total Due to Bigots on Both Sides

By Vishwamithra1984

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”
~E. M. Forster

On to your right is the vast expanse of the deep blue sea. From the South-East tip of this island country, Arugam Bay, all the way up to Point-Pedro, the northern most point of real estate in Sri Lanka, the continuous break of wave after wave on the high waters of the Indian ocean reminds one of the relentless sagas of life represented by a ferocious ocean whose mysteries and splendor never cease to frighten the timid and charm the eternal voyager.

When speeding on the highway from Kumana, the birds’ sanctuary bordering on the Yala-east wildlife reservation, to the virgin beaches on the eastern coast, one is encompassed by the sheer delight of depthless seas and the caressing breeze. It is enlivening the spirit and rejuvenating the physique.

On your left, spanning the landside from Sammanthurai almost all the way up to Akkraipattu is one single field of paddy, like an enormous green carpet laid on earth, lush and opulent, stretching as far as the eye could see. This, the Southeastern land, they say, is the rice bowl of Sri Lanka. What is visible to the naked eye is the proud product of months’ and years’ labor, from ground preparation to selection of the seed, nursing the young crop, protecting it from wild animals, releasing the precious water from the field channels and organizing the harvesting festivals, recreating the cultural grandeur of a farmer community of years gone by. This stretch of paddy is miles long and contributes to the vast granaries in the country year after year.

Continue reading ‘Distrust between the Sinhalese and Tamils is almost total Due to Bigots on Both Sides’ »

13 Jaffna Youths In Custody due To Police Crackdown on “Aavaa Group”Criminal Gang Led by Kumaresaratham Vinothan of Inuvil

by Norman Palihawadane

Jaffna police yesterday arrested five members of the criminal outfit known as “Aavaa”Group, involved in serious crimes in the Jaffna District. Two hand grenades in the possession of the suspects were recovered.

Leader of the group, Kumaresaratnam Vinothan (21) from Inuvil also known as ‘Aavaa,’ had been taken into custody on January 06, 2014, but the group had been operating in the district, the police said.

The suspects arrested yesterday were from Chunnakkam and Nallur areas, the police said.

According to police a group of about 25 young gangsters had been engaged in crimes including kidnappings and armed robberies.

Continue reading ‘13 Jaffna Youths In Custody due To Police Crackdown on “Aavaa Group”Criminal Gang Led by Kumaresaratham Vinothan of Inuvil’ »

From Saravanamuttu to Muzammil 12 Out of 25 Mayors of Colombo Have Been Tamils or Muslims


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

London has elected its first Muslim and non-White mayor, Sadiq Khan, a son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, who will now be the first Muslim mayor in a Western Capital. World’s media was effusive, noting how politics in the UK’s metropolitan hub has over the time transcended race, religion and the skin colour; One report called the new Mayor ‘Citizen Khan’, (After the main protagonist in Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece, ‘Citizen Kane’). Some others were less charitable, a news portal, (Predictably enough) in the US flashed: The Muslim Mayor of Londonistan.

courtesy: dailymirror.lk

courtesy: dailymirror.lk

Funny enough, it struck me that we have had Muslim and Tamil mayors in our capital, Colombo for decades, even though no one appeared to have noticed it.
Continue reading ‘From Saravanamuttu to Muzammil 12 Out of 25 Mayors of Colombo Have Been Tamils or Muslims’ »

Since 1964 May Day Rallies in Sri Lanka Have Become Events to Show Strength of Political Parties Seeking State Power

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

Media was unusually attentive of May Day 2016 mainly because of the assumption that May Day 2016 would be critically decisive for the future of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Although he has been out of power for 16 months, it seems that the politics in Sri Lanka, at least in many peoples’ mind, still continues to revolve around Rajapaksa.

During the last 50 years, May Day has, as an occasion where the wage-earning class is supposed to show its strength by raising demands to protect its living and working conditions and upholding its solidarity with their brothers and sisters in other countries, lost its meaning in Sri Lanka. The sad story that brought about disastrous outcome for the Sri Lankan working class began in 1964, when the principal working class party in Sri Lanka, the Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) deviating from its original principles, entered into a coalition government with the SLFP as its junior partner.

Since 1964, May Day has become an event to show the strength of the political parties seeking governmental power. Thus, May Day has been transformed into a part and parcel of parliamentary politics. Only a very few working class organizations have stood for the independent working class principles.

Continue reading ‘Since 1964 May Day Rallies in Sri Lanka Have Become Events to Show Strength of Political Parties Seeking State Power’ »

Different Ethnicities in Sri Lanka Have conflicting views on Constitutional Reform Issues Like Nature of State and Devolution of Power

By P K Balachandran

The Public Representation Committee (PRC) set up by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to ascertain the views of the public on constitutional reform, encountered sharp differences on ethnic lines.

Express learns from reliable sources that the Sinhalese, Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Plantation Tamils of Indian origin held different and conflicting views on the Nature of the State, Devolution of Power and the Unit of Devolution.

The PRC would be submitting its report with its recommendations to the PM any day after May 11.
The report will then be sent to the Steering Committee of the “Constitutional Assembly” which is a committee of the entire membership of the Lankan parliament charged with the task of drafting a new constitution for the island nation.

Continue reading ‘Different Ethnicities in Sri Lanka Have conflicting views on Constitutional Reform Issues Like Nature of State and Devolution of Power’ »

India Likely To Provide Assistance for Developing “Ramayana Trail” Tourism Project in Sri Lanka

By

T.Ramakrishnan

India’s assistance for the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka may be finalised in a high level meeting between the two governments next month. India’s help has been sought for development of infrastructure or amenities in the sites that form part of the Ramayana circuit.

About a dozen places have been identified as part of the circuit and Sita Eliya in Nuwera Eliya of the Central Province is one of them, according to Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary of the Tourism Development and Christian Affairs, Sri Lanka.

Sita’s captivity

Legend has it that it is in this place that Sita was held captive by Ravana. About a week ago, Mr. Sugathadasa visited the Sita Eliya where the renovation of a temple for Sita was under way. “The temple’s consecration is scheduled for May 18,” said V. Radhakrishnan, State Minister of Education in the Sri Lanka government, who is one of the Members of Parliament from Nuwara Eliya.

Continue reading ‘India Likely To Provide Assistance for Developing “Ramayana Trail” Tourism Project in Sri Lanka’ »

Serious Rise of Crime in North Due to Near Total Absence of Tamil Speaking Persons in Police Force says TNA MP Sumanthiran

By P.K.Balachandran

The alarming rise in crime in Jaffna peninsula since Eelam War IV ended in 2009, is attributed to a variety of factors, but one of the principal causes appears to be the absence of Tamil-speakers, especially ethnic Tamils, in the local police force, says M. A.Sumanthiran, Jaffna district MP and spokesman for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Describing the situation as being “very serious” , Sumanthiran said that unless Tamils are recruited at all levels, crime detection will continue to suffer grievously and result in further widening the “trust deficit” that has always existed between the Tamils and the powers-that- be in Colombo.

The trust deficit could be seen very clearly in the statement issued by the Bishop of Jaffna, Rev.Dr. Justin Gnanaprakasam, on the crime situation in the northern peninsula.

The Bishop wondered if the increasing incidents of robberies and street violence involving gangs armed with axes, swords and machets, and the surge in youngmen taking to drugs and alcohol, reflect a “scheme” to destroy Tamil society and culture.

The Bishop was pointing an accusing finger at the Central government in Colombo and its agencies, the police and the armed forces, without naming them.

Continue reading ‘Serious Rise of Crime in North Due to Near Total Absence of Tamil Speaking Persons in Police Force says TNA MP Sumanthiran’ »

Visiting UN Special Rapporteurs Concerned Over Manner in which Ex-LTTE Members Are Being Arrested in Sri Lanka

By

T.Ramakrishnan

Special Rapporteur Juan E. Mendez seeks transparency on “the reasons and evidence on which a detention order rests.”

The United Nations has expressed concern over the reported manner in which the Sri Lanka government has arrested of former activists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in recent weeks.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez, who was in Sri Lanka along with another Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers Monica Pinto for nine days, told journalists on Saturday that the manner of “the arrests of rehabilitated persons alleged as happening recently – by plainclothes agents, after days of being followed and after asking questions to family members, neighbours and associates – raise fears in the respective communities and only add to distrust about the motives for those re-arrests.”

Continue reading ‘Visiting UN Special Rapporteurs Concerned Over Manner in which Ex-LTTE Members Are Being Arrested in Sri Lanka’ »

Crowds at Kirullapone UPFA Rally Larger Than Campbell Park UNP and BRC Grounds JVP Rallies


By

C.A.Chandraprema

From the reports and comments about last Sunday’s May Day rallies that have been appearing over the past week, it became obvious that The Island was the only newspaper or media organization that had a staffer monitoring the crowds in all three main rallies held in Colombo. This year, what was important was not the speeches being made but the crowds present at each of the May Day rallies. This writer observed the three main rallies in Colombo at their peak after 4.30 pm onwards and kept giving a running commentary to certain politically involved individuals about what we saw at the various venues.

What we had to report about the Campbell Park rally was that there were a remarkable number of buses and a huge crowd, but it was less well organized than last year and the crowd present seemed to be smaller. The JVP rally seemed to be slightly better attended than last year because there were fewer empty patches in the BRC grounds. The JVP always has a large decoration covering a good part of the grounds so that the crowds attending look bigger to the outside. The JVP should have been able to attract a record crowd this time because they were able to get the upper hand in protesting against the alterations made in the fertilizer subsidy. Even on the ETCA with India, it is the JVP that had the lead over the Joint Opposition at least in rhetoric.

Furthermore, the government’s declining popularity should have improved the JVP’s crowd pulling capacity by leaps and bounds but it has not. This perhaps is a sign that the JVP’s role in bringing the present government in power has had a negative impact on their political prospects. The whispering going on in political circles about pressure being brought on Anura Kumara Dissanayake to step down from the party leadership probably has something to do with the need to sacrifice someone if the party is to survive the opprobrium attaching to it after the yahapalana coalition misadventure.

Continue reading ‘Crowds at Kirullapone UPFA Rally Larger Than Campbell Park UNP and BRC Grounds JVP Rallies’ »

47 Parliamentarians,260 Provincial Councillors From UPFA with Over 2000 Local Authority Members Attended Kirullapone May day rally

By

Rasika Jayakody

The power struggle within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has reached a whole new level after the UPFA rebel group’s May Day rally at Kirulapona. It has now compelled the SLFP decision-making bodies to take swift and drastic action to restore unity and discipline in the party.

The UPFA rebel group, or, ‘Joint Opposition’ as they call themselves, from the beginning, planned their May Day rally as a propaganda stunt. The Lalith Athulathmudali stadium at Kirulapona was chosen as the venue as it offered them many additional advantages.

For instance, aerial photographs showed that the rally was jam-packed and all adjacent roads were blocked. Such photographs were widely shared on Facebook and other social media platforms by ardent Rajapaksa supporters. However, this doesn’t underestimate the crowd drawn to the Kirulapone rally. According to various eyewitness accounts, nearly 30,000 people attended the Joint Opposition’s May Day event. It is also important to understand that this only amounted to one-third of the crowd attracted by the UNP rally at Campbell Park.

Continue reading ‘47 Parliamentarians,260 Provincial Councillors From UPFA with Over 2000 Local Authority Members Attended Kirullapone May day rally’ »

Foreign Ministry Agrees to Implement 58 Conditions Imposed by the European Union in a bid to Regain GSP Plus


In its haste to regain the GSP Plus facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with the European Union (EU) to implement a sprawling list of 58 conditions linking human rights, national security and other domestic concerns with trade, a document obtained by the Sunday Times shows.

Among the 58 conditions imposed are to revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act, to expedite cases of remaining detainees, to introduce a new Human Rights Action Plan, review the status of the Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals on the terrorist list, to devolve power under the new Constitution, return all private lands to owners in the North, adopt a policy of National Reconciliation and on National Resettlement, finalise the re-settlement of all displaced persons, and to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances with accompanying legislation as well as issue certificates of absence.

The EU insists that the conditions be met before Sri Lanka can even consider applying for the GSP Plus.

The stringent stipulations come with short deadlines (most have now elapsed) and were accepted by the Foreign Ministry “without any form of negotiations” at the EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights in January, authoritative sources said.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Ministry Agrees to Implement 58 Conditions Imposed by the European Union in a bid to Regain GSP Plus’ »

SLFP Dissident MP’s who Attended Kirullapone Rally Engaged in Informal Talks with Party Hierarchy to Stave Off Disciplinary Action Being Taken Against Them

By Rasika Jayakody and Uditha Kumarasinghe

In a bid to stave off party disciplinary action for attending the rebel UPFA break-away May Day rally, the dissident SLFP parliamentarians in the UPFA rebel group have begun talks with senior SLFP leaders to work out an “amicable settlement”.

Party seniors told the Sunday Observer yesterday that overtures had been made by the rebels and that discussions had begun through informal channels.

These sources disclosed that in the event of a resolution being moved in the next SLFP Central Committee to take punitive action against those SLFP MPs who participated in the Kirulapone May Day rally, measures would first be taken against only those who had a previous record of rebellious actions against the party leadership.

The ongoing discussions between the rebels and the hierarchy will decide the process, they said. A further proposal to heal the rift is a proposal to vest party responsibilities in some dissident SLFP MPs currently in the UPFA rebel group.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Dissident MP’s who Attended Kirullapone Rally Engaged in Informal Talks with Party Hierarchy to Stave Off Disciplinary Action Being Taken Against Them’ »

Various Forms of Torture Still Practised in Sri Lanka States UN Rapporteur on Torture After 9 Day Trip to Island

By P.K.Balachandran

Various forms of torture are still practiced by the law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka, but there has been a decline in the number of reported incidents, says Juan E.Mendez, UN Rapporteur on Torture, who toured detention centres in the island nation between April 29 and May 7.

Briefing the media on Saturday, Mendez said that 90 percent of the convictions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Lanka are based on “confessions” made to the police in detention. As such, it could be safely assumed that these confessions were made under duress, including various forms of torture, he said.

Detailing the common methods of torture, Mendez said that these could range from striking with poles and cricket bats to hanging the suspect upside down while being handcuffed, asphyxation by covering the face with a polythene bag drenched in kerosene, throwing chilli powder into the eyes, to mutilating the genital area.

Continue reading ‘Various Forms of Torture Still Practised in Sri Lanka States UN Rapporteur on Torture After 9 Day Trip to Island’ »

Even if Mahinda Rajapaksa is not a Powerful President Anymore His Loyalist MP’s in Opposition are Passionately Defending Him.

By Chandani Kirinde

Mahinda Rajapaksa may no longer be the all-powerful President of the country, but his ‘troops’ in the form of the “Joint Opposition” (JO) in Parliament, this week, once again showed how passionate they are when it comes to defending him. The latest showdown with the Government, which resulted in fisticuffs between two groups of MPs, took place over the decision to replace the army security detail of the former president with police personnel, a move fiercely opposed by his loyalists.

The news that Mr Rajapaksa’s security has been changed, broke just as Parliament sittings were starting after a three-week recess for the April new year, and provided ideal fodder for the JO group to assert its role in the House.

The joint opposition’s latest showdown with the Government resulted in fisticuffs between two groups of MPs

Continue reading ‘Even if Mahinda Rajapaksa is not a Powerful President Anymore His Loyalist MP’s in Opposition are Passionately Defending Him.’ »

Infamous Right to Information(RIT) Provisions in 19th Constitutional Amendment Must Be Revised.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Contrary to what certain media reports excitably proclaimed this week, the Supreme Court’s Determination on the constitutionality of Sri Lanka’s Right to Information (RTI) Bill held little surprises.

In the main, the ruling did not pose formidable challenges to the basic integrity of the Bill. However, it did reflect a degree of judicial conservatism therein.

Conflict brought about by the 19th Amendment

First, let us look at the widening of exemptions to RTI. The RTI Bill had included information constituting contempt of court among the general exclusions. This was on par with standard exclusions in RTI laws despite the considerable disquiet of advocates who disagree with contempt being used to block the right to know.

Continue reading ‘Infamous Right to Information(RIT) Provisions in 19th Constitutional Amendment Must Be Revised.’ »

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Accuses Rajapaksa Family Member of Orchestrating Mud Slinging Campaign Against Him By Weerawansa,Gammanpila and Sri Renga.

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Former Parliamentarian and ex-Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalist Sajin Vass Gunawardena yesterday said that a Rajapaksa family member had orchestrated the recent mud slinging campaign against him carried out by politicians Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Sri Ranga.

Gunawardena addressing the media at his Borella residence said, “The allegations against me are baseless and there is an organised campaign against me for political gain by a handful of politicians who are in the UPFA and they have not made any specific reference to these allegations.”

Continue reading ‘Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Accuses Rajapaksa Family Member of Orchestrating Mud Slinging Campaign Against Him By Weerawansa,Gammanpila and Sri Renga.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appoints 4 Member Committee to Probe Whether Supplementary Estimates Vote was Duly Passed

by Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday announced that he would appoint a four-member committee to scrutinise video footage of Thursday’s parliament sessions to decide whether the supplementary estimate submitted by government seeking the approval of the House had been duly passed and to inform the House of the results.

The Speaker made the announcement of appointing the committee when the Opposition MPs raising points of order demanded to know whether the estimate had been passed or not. They pointed out that the voting method and the subsequent results were wrong and distorted the outcome of the vote.

Speaker Jayasuriya said he had appointed Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe and Water Supply and Urban Planning Minister Rauff Hakim to investigate the Thursday’s incident.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appoints 4 Member Committee to Probe Whether Supplementary Estimates Vote was Duly Passed’ »

Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The “Good Governance” Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has embarked upon a historic exercise to enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. The consensual approach being adopted will see Parliament convening as a Constitutional Assembly as and when required to engage in Constitution making. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will preside over the Constitutional Assembly sessions.A steering committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has been appointed. Sub-committees for various aspects are also being set up.

The current Constitutional Assembly is a significant departure from the Constituent Assembly set up by the Sirima Bandaranaike led Govt to formulate the 1972 Republican Constitution. It is envisaged that the present Constitutional Assembly will in due course after consultation, debate and deliberation , draft a bill to enact a new Constitution and present it to Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

Among the key objectives of the Constitution making process are the abolition of the executive presidency, bringing about electoral reforms and finding a durable political solution as an answer to the long standing Tamil national question. While the resolution of the first two issues do not seem to pose a problem at this juncture , the third issue namely a political settlement to the so called ethnic problem, could prove to be a challenge difficult to surmount. In fact there is a possibility that in a bid to achieve Sinhala majority consensus the legitimate aspirations of the long suffering Tamils could once again be short changed in Constitution making.
Continue reading ‘Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.’ »

President Sirisena Recalls Being Assaulted While Parliament was in Session by a UNP Govt MP in 1992

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday (May 4) said that there had been a far more serious incident in Parliament during 1992 than Tuesday’s fracas.

President Sirisena was referring to fisticuffs between some members of the UNP Parliamentary Group and the Joint Opposition over a controversial decision to replace former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s army bodyguards with police personnel.

Addressing a gathering after the opening of newly built auditorium of Royal College, Horana, President Maithripala Sirisena said that he had seen many incidents involving members of Parliament. Having entered parliament in 1989 as an Opposition member, the Polonnaruwa District parliamentarian served as an MP and Minister for 26 years before successfully contesting the January 2015 presidential polls.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Recalls Being Assaulted While Parliament was in Session by a UNP Govt MP in 1992’ »

Parliament Suspends Palitha Thewarapperuma(UNP) and Prasanna Ranaweera (UPFA) For One Week for Instigating Brawl Inside the House

By Saman Indrajith

Parliament yesterday approved the suspension of MPs Palitha Thewarapperuma and Prasanna Ranaweera from Parliament for one week.

Deputy Minister of Internal, Cultural and Wayamba Development Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranaweera were suspended for instigating the clash in Parliament on Tuesday.

When the House commenced sittings Speaker Karu Jayasuriya stated that a special committee appointed by him to look into the clash which broke out in Parliament Well on Tuesday, had proposed that disciplinary action be taken against the MPs involved in the clash.

Continue reading ‘Parliament Suspends Palitha Thewarapperuma(UNP) and Prasanna Ranaweera (UPFA) For One Week for Instigating Brawl Inside the House’ »

Six Constitutional Assembly Sub-committees Appointed for Judiciary, Finance, Law&Order, Public Service,Centre-Periphery& Fundamental Rights

By Saman Indrajith

Members of the sub committees of the Constitutional Assembly were appointed when the Assembly met yesterday for its second day at 9.30 am with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding.

The Leader of the House and University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella informed the House that Uresha Fernando had been appointed the additional secretary of the Constitutional Assembly.

The Leader of the House also announced members of six sub committees namely the “Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Finance, Public Service, Law and Order, Centre-Periphery”.

Continue reading ‘Six Constitutional Assembly Sub-committees Appointed for Judiciary, Finance, Law&Order, Public Service,Centre-Periphery& Fundamental Rights’ »

Vedda Falls to Death After Climbing 135 ft Standing Buddha to Remove Beehive Behind Right Arm of Statue

By

Sagarica Rajakarunanayake

We were shocked by a recent newspaper report of a Vedda who had fallen to his death from a 135 ft Buddha statue (thought to be the tallest standing Buddha statue in South Asia) that he had climbed to remove a giant honey beehive from behind its right arm. He had been hired for this task by the organisers of the unveiling ceremony of the statue by President Sirisena.

The officials of the Presidential Security Division (PSD) who had inspected the area had instructed the organisers to remove the beehive. They in their wisdom decided a Vedda would be ideal for the task and hired one from Dambana.

What prompted the organisers would undoubtedly have been the special knowledge among Veddas about bees. What they failed to realize was that this operation was essentially about finding the safest and surest way to go up the 135-foot-high Buddha statue, remove the giant beehive from its height and climb down safely with it.

The Vedda showed right understanding in insisting that the beehive should be removed only in the early hours of the morning, because at this time the bees are largely inactive and will not sting. Refusing whatever protective measures the organisers tried to take, the Vedda had climbed the statue in the early hours of the following morning. Reaching the arm of the statue he managed to seize the beehive but climbing down missed his footing and fell to his death.

Continue reading ‘Vedda Falls to Death After Climbing 135 ft Standing Buddha to Remove Beehive Behind Right Arm of Statue’ »

Geetha Kumarasinghe Replaced by Chandima Weerakody as Galle District Coordination Committee Co- Chair

By

Lalith Ruhunage and K.A.S. Kumara

Galle District UPFA and SLFP MP Geetha Kumarasinghe, the recently sacked Bentara-Elpitiya electoral organizer, has also been relieved of her position as Co-Chairman of the Galle District Coordination Committee.

The controversial MP has been replaced by UPFA / SLFP Galle District MP and Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Gas, Chandima Weerakkody with the appointment being ratified by President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Replaced by Chandima Weerakody as Galle District Coordination Committee Co- Chair’ »

Absolutely No Likelihood of LTTE Staging a Comeback Assures Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has received assurances from both the police and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been wiped out; therefore there was absolutely no likelihood of the group staging a comeback.

Premier Wickremesinghe said that he sought clarification from the police and the DMI in the wake of recent media reports in respect of resurgence of LTTE activity.

The PM was addressing a gathering at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) on Tuesday.

Continue reading ‘Absolutely No Likelihood of LTTE Staging a Comeback Assures Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Every Attempt By President Sirisena To Unify His Party Under His Own Chairmanship Is Failing.

By

Dharisha Bastians

After the success of his dissident May Day rally that drew huge crowds to Kirulapone at the beginning of the week, former President and Kurunegala District lawmaker Mahinda Rajapaksa was on the receiving end of a rude shock on Monday (2) morning.

Hundreds of buses had entered the capital Colombo from remote districts across the island carrying thousands of supporters eager to see the back of the Sirisena administration and ensure Rajapaksa is re-anointed king and commander-in-chief. The Baseline Road and High Level Road, strewn with piles of litter, were testament to the success of the pro-Rajapaksa rally.

The ruling United National Party gathered the largest crowd at its rally in Campbell Park on May Day, with Police estimating a crowd of nearly 80,000 in attendance. A reinvigorated base turned out to prove that in spite of nearly 20 years in opposition, the UNP remains the country’s single largest political party.

The two SLFP rallies saw their crowds split almost down the middle. In Galle, President Maithripala Sirisena’s rally was packed, with parts of the crowd being forced to remain outside the grounds. In the slightly smaller grounds in Kirulapone, the pro-Rajapaksa alliance also packed tens of thousands of adoring supporters of the former President.

The competition for the show of force by the de jure and de facto leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at May Day 2016 seemed to end in a tie. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has pledged his commitment to an undivided SLFP, had led some 40 party men to rebel against their Party Leader and President. The separate May Day rallies finally ended the pretence.

Continue reading ‘Every Attempt By President Sirisena To Unify His Party Under His Own Chairmanship Is Failing.’ »

Removing Army From Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Security Poses Major Threat to His Life States Prof G.L . Peiris

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Joint Opposition yesterday said removing the army commandos from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s security contingent posed a major threat to his life, while several moves had been made to revive LTTE activities.

Addressing the media at the Dr N. M. Perera Centre in Borella, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said the government should reveal the reason for removing commandos from the former President’s security squad.

Rajapaksa’s security had been reduced thought suicide jackets had been found in Jaffna recently, Prof. Peiris said.

Continue reading ‘Removing Army From Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Security Poses Major Threat to His Life States Prof G.L . Peiris’ »

President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Ex-President Rajapaksa Given Police Security Instead of Army According to National Security Council Decision

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

UPFA General Secretary Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera (SLFP) yesterday endorsed the National Security Council’s (NSC) decision to assign police personnel to the security detail of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in place of army commandos withdrawn on May 02. He said it was the NSC’s prerogative to decide on what type of security was required by VIPs.

Minister Amaraweera told The Island that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had also been given police security and, therefore, it was not an issue for ex-President Rajapaksa to receive the same level of security.

The security of former President Rajapaksa had not been reduced and the NSC had only replaced army commandos with police personnel, the Minister reiterated.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Ex-President Rajapaksa Given Police Security Instead of Army According to National Security Council Decision’ »

Highest Possible Disciplinary Action Urged Against Palitha Thewarapperuma and Prasanna Ranaweera for Fisticuffs in Parliament

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

The investigation report on Tuesday’s brawl in Parliament recommends stern action against Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs PalithaThearapperuma and UPFA MP Prasanna Ranaweera.

The report was prepared by Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala and the Deputy Chairman of Committees MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan yesterday by analysing the CCTV footage to apprehend those responsible for the brawl in the Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Highest Possible Disciplinary Action Urged Against Palitha Thewarapperuma and Prasanna Ranaweera for Fisticuffs in Parliament’ »

Sirisena Govt Stops VVIP Security Duties for Army and Hands Over Responsibility to Police

By

P.K.Balachandran

As part of its policy to relieve the army from civilian and internal policing duties, the Maithripala Sirisena government in Sri Lanka has taken the army off VVIP security duties and has given the task entirely to the police, especially the police commandos designated as the Special Task Force (STF).

But the decision to replace the army ran into a political storm when, recently, the government withdrew the last 50 of the 102 army personnel who were guarding former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Joint Opposition Group (JOG), which Rajapaksa heads, staged a violent protest inside parliament on Tuesday, injuring some MPs and forcing the Speaker to adjourn the sitting for the rest of the day.

The Rajapaksa faction, which has 47 MPs in a House of 225, vociferously demanded that army protection be continued since Rajapaksa still faces threats from remnants of the LTTE and radicals in the Tamil Diaspora.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Govt Stops VVIP Security Duties for Army and Hands Over Responsibility to Police’ »

Dec 2006 Bomb Attack On Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Was an Inside Job Stage Managed by Ex – Def Secy Himself Alleges Ex – Army Chief Sarath Fonseka

Sri Lanka’s former army chief told parliament Tuesday that a bomb blast apparently targeting former president Mahinda Rajapakse’s brother 10 years ago was an “inside job” to win sympathy for the then-ruling family.

Sarath Fonseka, now a government legislator, said the December 2006 bomb attack blamed on separatist Tamil Tiger rebels had been stage-managed by the president’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse, then -then defence secretary.

“No terrorist will set off a suicide bomb 25 meters away from the intended target,” Fonseka told parliament during a debate on scaling down military security granted to the former strongman leader.

Continue reading ‘Dec 2006 Bomb Attack On Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Was an Inside Job Stage Managed by Ex – Def Secy Himself Alleges Ex – Army Chief Sarath Fonseka’ »

Brawl In Parliament Injures Several MP’s. Kegalle Dist UNP MP Sandith Samarasinghe Taken to National Hospital


By Saman Indrajith

A row broke out in Parliament yesterday leading to the suspension of sittings and sending several MPs to parliament medical room after the government had turned down a Joint Opposition request to reverse its decision to reduce the security provided to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Several MPs including UNP Kegalle District MP Sandith Samarasinghe were injured. He was rushed to the National Hospital subsequently.

Parliament was plunged into chaos when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asked Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to respond to a question raised by Joint Opposition about the reduction of security provided to the former President.

At the commencement of sittings soon after the Speaker’s announcements and presentation of Public Petitions, MEP

Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that the army commandos specialised in VIP security attached to the security contingent of former President Rajapaksa had been taken away. “He is the President who fought valiantly against the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world.
Threats to his life still remain as the remaining LTTE cadres are hell-bent on avenging their losses. When we raised this matter in this House sometime back the Leader of the House pledged that the government would not do so. Now, what we feared has happened. We need to know from the Prime Minister whether the government will reverse its decision.”

Continue reading ‘Brawl In Parliament Injures Several MP’s. Kegalle Dist UNP MP Sandith Samarasinghe Taken to National Hospital’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Assigns Thilanga Sumathipala and Selvam Adaikkalanathan to Probe Fracas in Parliament and Submit Report

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday that he had assigned Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala and Deputy Chairman of Committees Selvam Adaikalanathan to hold an investigation into the yesterday’s fracas in Parliament and submit a report immediately.

Addressing the House soon after it had been summoned following a free-for-all over the reduction of security provided to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Speaker condemned the conduct of MPs.

“When this ugly scene took place there were a large number of people including schoolchildren in the public gallery. This incident has tarnished the image of Parliament.

“I have received reports that one MP has been hospitalised and several others were injured in this incident.”

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Assigns Thilanga Sumathipala and Selvam Adaikkalanathan to Probe Fracas in Parliament and Submit Report’ »

The Federal Party or ITAK Have Been Espousing Federalism Since Inception

By

Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

Recent developments in the North and East have raised concerns on the one hand of a purported LTTE revival and on the other about the continued use of the PTA to arrest Tamil citizens and of the modalities of the arrests being reminiscent of the Rajapaksa era. Some 23 Tamil civilians have been arrested in connection with the discovery of explosives and the suicide jacket in Chavakachcheri.

Three arrests by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), particularly of former high ranking LTTE cadres, who had undergone rehabilitation after 2009, namely Ram, Nagulan and Thalayan, have aroused media attention. Sivakaran, who was Secretary of the Youth Wing of the ITAK and suspended from that post in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election on account of his public opposition to the TNA’s support for the Sirisena candidacy, has been released on bail. He was arrested for allegedly assisting the others to leave the country.

Media reports further state that the Police Media Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera acknowledged that the three were the most senior LTTE cadres arrested at the end of the war in May 2009. ASP Gunasekera has also stated that they had not been rehabilitated for the minimum stipulated period of a year and that they had been working with military intelligence. In the Nation newspaper of April 30, 2016, he is quoted as saying:

‘We do not know why they were released prior to serving a minimum of one year in rehabilitation. They have been working together with Army intelligence.

Serious questions invariably arise from this.

Continue reading ‘The Federal Party or ITAK Have Been Espousing Federalism Since Inception’ »

TNA Resolution Passed By NPC Is To Make South React With Anger And Defeat Reconciliation

By

Gomin Dayasri

Crowds do not mean much at May Day rallies but MP’s on stage read the minds of the voters. An elected-not a nominated-MP sits at a rally where his constituents want to vote for him. A snapshot of a difference between the North and South.

One thing is for sure –the peoples’ outlook has changed for the better but not of politicians who would publicly posture for an extra vote. People blame the politicians and vow to teach them a lesson, but keep voting for them again and again as it is the people that never learn lessons of the past. A vicious circle.

Media blames and shames politicians only to greet and garland them ceremonially.Media fails at crunch time too.The twin phases require dual mindsets: pre – war and post – war. If the outlook then was to win over terrorism at all costs –now, the approach should be to live in peace and harmony in a happy environment for all communities at any cost.

Trouble times were essentially of the past, if not for the utterances of a few rabble-rousers in the northern peninsula and in the southern periphery. Vigilance should not be reduced: till the trouble-making voice is stilled since it originates from a political leadership.

Those sounds, loud and long, can convert a storm in a tea cup into a fiery tempest. Ethnic rousers are a dying breed but will never dry to a finite: their numbers will continue to wane and must be brought to near zero. Till then, be on guard and not live on the empty empathy of the TNA.

Continue reading ‘TNA Resolution Passed By NPC Is To Make South React With Anger And Defeat Reconciliation’ »

Prabhakaran Was No Hero But a TERRORIST And The LTTE Was His Private Army

By Vishwamithra1984

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”
~George Orwell, 1984

Most men and women in Sri Lanka are ‘reasonable’ individuals. Whether they come from remote parts of the rural country or urban city centers, their foundation of values remains grounded on solid logic, powerful argument and fair judgment. Whether one’s education background is university or even higher, whether it’s elementary or secondary or even with no formal education whatsoever, a reasonable man or woman makes a very reasonable judgment on matters that concern them personally and individually. Yet when such matters become a combination (or a concoction) of issues with diverse means and ends, especially when such issues pertain to their DNA or identity, the collective judgment gets colored and shaded by the vagaries of intricate innuendos; they make a deliberate choice to ignore the ‘obvious’ or in a most convoluted way attempt to look beyond the ‘obvious’.

The collective mindset gets warped; its eruptions become explosive and judgments shaded and ostensibly justified. Emerging from this parade of issues, a less educated and an ill-disciplined mind gets warped in its own innate contradictions; instead of responding from a rational standpoint, man begins to rationalize a predetermined solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

Nevertheless, one simply cannot disregard the legitimate grievances of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. Standing amongst those grievances as most significant and supreme is that they, Tamils in Sri Lanka, are treated consistently as second-class citizens. That is a very serious and profound complaint. And it ought to receive serious and profound attention from the majority Sinhalese and their elected leaders.

Continue reading ‘Prabhakaran Was No Hero But a TERRORIST And The LTTE Was His Private Army’ »

Joint Opposition Establishes Itself as the “Real Opposition” Through Success of Kirullapone May Day Rally

By C. A. Chandraprema

May Day this year was different to any previous May Day that we can remember, because this became a test of strength among the contending political formations in the country. Perhaps this ‘test of strength’ element may have been present at previous May Days as well, but it was never so pronounced. On the one side was the government formed for the first time by both the main political parties – the UNP and the SLFP. On the other side was the Joint Opposition made up of several minor parties and about four dozen UPFA parliamentarians most of whom are still representatives of the bifurcated SLFP. It was a lopsided test of strength as the Joint Opposition still does not have a legal standing as a political party and draconian measures were taken by the SLFP in the run up to May Day to prevent their members from attending the Kirullapone rally. Two sitting parliamentarians Geetha Kumarasinghe and Salinda Dissanayake were removed from their SLFP electoral organiserships as a warning to those who wanted to go to Kirullapone.

The SLFP held its May Day in Galle with the publicly stated objective of preventing their members from going from the SLFP rally to the Kirullapone rally in a replay of what happened last year. Holding the rally as far away from Kirullapone was the SLFP’s method of preventing ‘leakage’. However on May Day, it became clear that political polarisation takes place as anti-government and pro-government and not by the names and symbols of political parties. If the two main political parties are serving in a government, it is taken as one government regardless of the rhetoric about being different. In politics there can be no hunting with the hounds and running with the hare at the same time. This writer went around to the UNP rally at Campbell Park, the JVP rally at BRC grounds and the Kirullapone rally of the Joint Opposition to observe the rallies at their peak between 4.30 and 5.30 pm on May Day.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Establishes Itself as the “Real Opposition” Through Success of Kirullapone May Day Rally’ »

IGP Pujith Jayasundara Reprimands Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekera and Suspends Police Media Unit with Immediate Effect

By

Norman Palihawadane

Police Media Unit has been suspended by IGP Pujith Jayasundara with immediate effect. He gave orders to suspend the unit and initiate an investigation against its officials for speaking to the media with regard to key suspects connected to the Chavakachcheri explosive haul fleeing to India.

Reprimanding ASP Gunasekera for making comments verbally to the media the IGP had said a written statement should have been issued, sources said, adding that the IGP had claimed there had been a directive for the police media unit to issue its information in writing to media organisations.

Continue reading ‘IGP Pujith Jayasundara Reprimands Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekera and Suspends Police Media Unit with Immediate Effect’ »

Media Ministry Secy Nimal Bopage Summoned to “Temple Trees” and Ticked Off By Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe


By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday asked new Secretary to the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Nimal Bopage to refrain making political statements.

PM Wickremesinghe summoned Bopage to Temple Trees yesterday morning and questioned him on the latter’s recent press statement urging the media not to use the term ‘Joint Opposition’.

Continue reading ‘Media Ministry Secy Nimal Bopage Summoned to “Temple Trees” and Ticked Off By Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Why Do Many People Think They Know Journalism Better Than Journalists?

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Every Tom, Dick and Harry in this country wants to teach journalists a thing or two about how they ought to do their work. Those self-interested busybodies range from the bigwigs at the very top of the government to the Kachcheri clerks in the periphery and the NGO captains of civil society to the fishmongers at the Peliyagoda Fish market.

Then there is a new breed of media educators, who have increasingly become disparaging towards us and want to share their received wisdom with the lowly scribes to guide us to the age of enlightenment.

All that is understandable; they are a reminder of our national obsession of interfering in other people’s businesses, because, we sincerely believe we know better than they do. So the doctors tell the government how to manage foreign trade and students tell policy makers how to regulate private universities and so forth.

Continue reading ‘Why Do Many People Think They Know Journalism Better Than Journalists?’ »

Govt Must Implement Its Promise of Bringing About Structural Independence of State Media

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

With a woeful history of repressive state regulation of the media still fresh in our collective memory, the ‘Yahapalanaya’ Government’s announcement this month that it will set up an ‘independent authority to regulate the electronic media’ caused many to jib nervously and shy away.

Unconvincingly persuasive explanations

Apparently the proposed authority would be vested with the legal power to determine complaints against the electronic media. As explained charmingly enough by ministerial worthies, the ‘Government will not be involved with the process’ and this was only due to the fact that the electronic media itself had requested for such an authority.

Sri Lanka is however no stranger to persuasive explanations which, when taken to the stage of determining policy, often rebounds to the detriment of the country. The unfortunate fate of the 1997 Broadcasting Authority Bill is a good illustration thereto. Scarcely did the dew dry on the exuberant promise of the Chandrika Kumaratunga Presidency when her administration brought this obnoxious Bill before the House.

Continue reading ‘Govt Must Implement Its Promise of Bringing About Structural Independence of State Media’ »

Was Media Ministry Secy Nimal Bopage Told by a “Higher Authority” to Issue Controversial Statement?

By

C.A.Chandraprema

Relations between the government and a section of the media are obviously strained. For some time now the prime minister has been criticizing the media both in and outside parliament often naming names. The president joined the prime minister soon afterwards speaking critically in an interview with the BBC about the web based media saying that these websites were ‘kele paththara’ and that he does not look at websites anymore; this despite the fact that websites had done most of the spadework to bring this government into power.

When the president met the heads of media institutions last Thursday, the websites were not invited. This was followed by a furious article on the Sri Lanka Mirror website reminding Sirisena that the web media played a major role in toppling the Rajapaksa regime, and that this was the second time the web media had been sidelined by the president. (The first being a meeting last September.)

The Sri Lanka Mirror said that during the Rajapaksa administration, the mainstream media gave step-motherly treatment to the opposition, which only had websites and the social media to carry its message to the people. It complained that web journalists were not invited to attend even cabinet and other government press briefings. SLM said that the last Thursday’s meeting with the heads of media institutions, had been organized by Shiral Laktilleke who had moved closely with the web media earlier but who now ignores them.

Continue reading ‘Was Media Ministry Secy Nimal Bopage Told by a “Higher Authority” to Issue Controversial Statement?’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa at Kirullapona Rally Tells Wimal Weerawansa to be Ready to Accompany him to Jail Soon.

Former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday vowed to continue with the ongoing campaign against the government regardless of consequences.

The former SLFP leader was addressing the Joint Opposition rally at Kirulapone. In spite of dire warnings by President Maithripla Sirisena, over 46 UPFA members of parliament joined the rally. MPs Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Shalinda Dissanayake were overseas and MP Niroshan Premaratna could not attend the rally due to a family funeral.

Addressing the rally before the arrival of former President Rajapaksa, Ven. Murutthetuwe Ananda declared that the government could be defeated if people took to the streets. He said they could adopt tactics used against the Thai government.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa at Kirullapona Rally Tells Wimal Weerawansa to be Ready to Accompany him to Jail Soon.’ »

Ranil Wickremesinghe tells UNP May Day Rally that Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product Would be Doubled by 2023

by Zacki Jabbar

Pledging to develop the economy and provide more relief to the people, UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday in Colombo that a new salary structure incorporating the Cost of Living would be introduced.

Wickremesinghe, who usually makes the penultimate speech at UNP May Day rallies, came up the order at Campbell Park, Borella as the rain began to fall. “I thank you for braving the weather and flocking in large numbers. Ours is the biggest among all workers gatherings in this country today. It has sent a clear message to the Cardboard Heroes backed blindly by some in the media,” he noted.

Pledging to double the Gross Domestic Product by 2023, the UNP leader said that it would be possible due to the positives arising from the existence of a national government.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe tells UNP May Day Rally that Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product Would be Doubled by 2023’ »

President Sirisena Tells Galle May Day Rally a Clean Political Movement is Necessary to Form a Future SLFP Led Govt


by Dasun Edirisinghe reporting from Galle

Stressing the need to reorganise the party to form a clean political movement, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday invited everyone to join him to form an SLFP-led government in the future. He said the SLFP led UPFA had been defeated at two major elections last year, but would work for the future victories of the people.

Addressing the SLFP May Day rally in Galle, the President said the foundation for a clean political movement necessary for forming an SLFP led government had laid in the South yesterday (01).

There were 49 May Day rallies in the country yesterday, but the SLFP’s was the biggest, the President said.

“I have been informed by the Police that the highest number of people attended the Galle rally,” Sirisena said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Tells Galle May Day Rally a Clean Political Movement is Necessary to Form a Future SLFP Led Govt’ »

Existing Prevention of Terrorism Act will be Replaced by New Anti-Terrorism Law Announces Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday said that Sri Lanka would introduce a new anti-terrorism law on the lines of the British.

The proposed law would replace the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Premier Wickremesinghe said, adding that he had authorised the use of PTA to facilitate the ongoing investigations into the recovery of explosives and arrest of several members of the LTTE rump.

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Should Sajin de Vass Gunawardena be “Absolved”of his Alleged Corruption Because he has Turned State Witness Against the Rajapaksas?

by Nirmala Kannangara

Should all crimes of a wharf clerk turned CEO Mihin be ignored just because he now turns state witness against the Rajapaksas?

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, former Monitoring MP, External Affairs Ministry, who stands accused of mass-scale fraud, unpaid loans, criminality and unfulfilled promises during the Rajapaksa regime, is back in the spotlight, this time for enjoying ministerial privileges from taxpayers hard-earned money despite not being an MP, a minister or even a local government member.

Despite pledges being made by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe prior to the 2015 presidential election, that stern action would be taken against all those who siphoned public money and were involved in fraud and corruption, the ‘good governance’ government has provided Sajin Vass with police guard instead of taking legal action against him for the alleged large-scale corruption he was involved in.

Sajin Vass had come to an agreement with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to turn state witness in all investigations carried out against alleged Rajapaksa family corruption. In return, immediately after he was granted bail last year, the Defence Ministry provided Vass with security from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) together with back-up vehicles.

Continue reading ‘Should Sajin de Vass Gunawardena be “Absolved”of his Alleged Corruption Because he has Turned State Witness Against the Rajapaksas?’ »

Nirmala Kannangara of “The Sunday Leader” Gets Thompson Foundation Best Investigative Journalist in Print Media Award

Nirmala Kannangara, Features Editor and Investigative Journalist of The Sunday Leader Newspaper, received the 2015 Inquirer Award for the Best Investigative Journalist in print media by the Thompson Foundation last evening at the Jubilee Hall, Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.

Continue reading ‘Nirmala Kannangara of “The Sunday Leader” Gets Thompson Foundation Best Investigative Journalist in Print Media Award’ »

How Mahinda Rajapaksa Went To Thailand And Met Udaya Weeratunga Who is Wanted in Sri Lanka For Questioning

By Sunday Times Political Editor From Bangkok

When Captain Kolitha Ekanayake took off on a SriLankan Airlines Airbus A 330-200 the previous Saturday morning to Bangkok, no one realised that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was on board, was flying into a serious controversy.

From a front row seat in the Business Class he watched television and sipped tea throughout the three hour flight. Seated next to him was former External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. He pored over that day’s issue of our sister newspaper, the Lankadeepa, and was soon fast asleep with his head bowed down.

The only other politician to accompany Rajapaksa was Western Provincial Councillor Upali Kodikara. Interesting enough, both Peiris and Kodikara had called on President Maithripala Sirisena, soon after the January 2015 presidential election to ascertain whether they could join the United National Front (UNF) Government. They did not succeed. Now they are once again close allies of Rajapaksa.

Clad in a suit that has seen better days, Kodikara was in the Economy Class. When the curtain separating the Business Class from the Economy section was drawn during breakfast service, Kodikara moved it every now and then to keep a watch on Rajapaksa. He then briefed four bodyguards of Rajapaksa including a Gazetted officer, who were seated near him, of the well-being of the former President during the flight.

Continue reading ‘How Mahinda Rajapaksa Went To Thailand And Met Udaya Weeratunga Who is Wanted in Sri Lanka For Questioning’ »

Kirullapone May day Rally Will Enable Joint Opposition to Formalise Hold Over Opposition Space Being Occupied By Them.

By

C. A. Chandraprema

History will be made before the day ends today on May Day and we Sri Lankans will be seeing a phenomenon that no previous generation has seen hitherto. This will be the occupation of the opposition space by a new political entity.

There have been breakaway groups from the government earlier as well in 1951 when S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike broke away from the UNP to form the SLFP. However Bandaranaike was then going in as a newcomer into an opposition space then already occupied by the LSSP. It was the same when Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake broke away from the UNP in late 1991 to form the DUNF – they were going into an opposition that was then occupied by the SLFP.

In fact in the 1992 joint opposition May Day parade where the SLFP and the DUNF joined hands, one of the slogans shouted by the SLFP contingents was “megolloth den api passe.” The term ‘megollo’ referring to the UNP dissidents who had broken away to join the opposition who were marching in the opposition May Day parade.

This time however by holding a separate May Day rally, the Joint Opposition will be formalizing and consolidating their virtual monopoly of the opposition space which they had been occupying since last year. In this the parties and individuals who make up the joint Opposition have been fortunate. Their task is much easier than that which confronted Bandaranaike in the 1950s and the Lalith-Gamini duo in the 1990s.

Continue reading ‘Kirullapone May day Rally Will Enable Joint Opposition to Formalise Hold Over Opposition Space Being Occupied By Them.’ »

Basil Rajapaksa Engaged In “Poaching” Of SLFP Grass Roots Activists For Kirullapone May Day Rally

By

Rasika Jayakody

When President Maithripala Sirisena walked into a meeting with newspaper editors and media heads at the President’s House on Wednesday morning, he looked calm and confident.

The timing of the meeting was crucial as it fell four ahead of May Day – a day exploited by Sri Lankan political parties.

This year, the traditional muscle-flexing event has drawn more media attention as the UPFA rebel group, which calls themselves the ‘Joint Opposition’, will have their own May Day event. Obviously, they hope to poach some MPs from the SLFP’s May Day rally in Galle, chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena.
This has already caused a split in the blue camp. Some UPFA MPs, who are members of the SLFP, have already said they will attend the rebel group’s May Day rally in Kirulapone.

Some backbenchers of the SLFP, ardent supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, openly claimed they would distance themselves from the party’s May Day event in Galle.

This situation compelled the SLFP to take measures to give more energy to the Galle rally. The SLFP instructed its seniors to hold press conferences almost on a daily basis to boost the enthusiasm of grassroots level supporters.

Poaching

The SLFP was aware of the fact that former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the former President’s campaign manager at the last Presidential election, was holding district level meetings to poach the SLFP’s grassroots level activists for their May Day rally in Kirulapone.

Continue reading ‘Basil Rajapaksa Engaged In “Poaching” Of SLFP Grass Roots Activists For Kirullapone May Day Rally’ »

65,000 Mittal Housing Project Must Be Rejected For The Right reasons And Not Be Accepted For The Wrong Reasons


By Prof. Mano Kumarasuriyar

Much has been said and written about the 65,000 houses programme being proposed by the Government. Its critics claim it to be an improperly conceived national expenditure with relatively high opportunity costs. On the other hand, its proponents, the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Resettlements, in particular, say those who criticise the project are ignorant of the reality and unaware of the ground conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to examine the project with the intention of facilitating sensible decisions since such a high profile matter is bound to impact significantly on many thousand households in the North and the East.

As at March 2016, some 70,000 odd war-displaced households have been settled thanks to several international donor-driven programmes implemented over the past six years. Another 3,000 more are to be settled within the next year. This, however, falls far short of the target of resettling all those who had been displaced by the war. The shortage has been estimated to be around 135,000, some of whom are still languishing in refugee camps while others have returned to their own lands to be sheltered in temporary shacks made mostly of material salvaged from refugee camps.

It is in this backdrop that the Government’s 65,000 houses programme is to be contracted out to a French company, ArcellorMittal. In this programme, each housing unit, made of steel frames, claddings and roofing, is said to cost Rs.2.1million. The basic houses constructed thus far with international donor assistance cost a maximum of Rs. 550,000 each. These conventional houses were built of cement blocks or clay bricks and clay tiled roofs with timber doors and windows. The recipients of these donor-funded houses may spend their own money to expand the houses and, may even add elements of luxury such as glazed tile floors or ornamental door sashes.

It has been speculated that the ArcellorMittal housing programme beneficiaries would also be receiving semi-luxury household furniture and furnishings, solar power assembly, gas cylinders and stoves for cooking, flat-screen TV, computers and Wi-Fi connections among other goodies. The total housing costs of the 65,000 houses are to be borne by the Government of Sri Lanka through a seemingly attractive financial package offered by ArcellorMittal. The US$1 billion (Rs.140 billion) low-interest loan is to be paid back over ten years with a grace period of one year.

On analysing the MIttal proposal it becomes evident that there are three specific aspects that may have influenced the Government to give the proposal serious consideration.

Continue reading ‘65,000 Mittal Housing Project Must Be Rejected For The Right reasons And Not Be Accepted For The Wrong Reasons’ »

How Can Samantha Power Describe Sri Lanka as a “Global Champion of Human Rights and Democratic Accountability”?

By Taylor Dibbert

On Thursday in Washington, the United States and Sri Lanka held an important meeting focused on trade, investment, and the broader direction of bilateral economic relations. Samantha Power, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, even flew in from New York City to attend the event. Power’s prepared remarks are as upbeat as ever.

Like the author of this piece, some readers may be wondering (quite reasonably) why Power was attending a meeting focused on economic issues. According to a media advisory note from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Power’s participation would “highlight how the U.S.-Sri Lanka Joint Action Plan [the agreement inked Thursday] represents continued progress for human rights, as well as democracy and accountability, on the part of the newly elected Sri Lankan government.”

It’s no secret that the United States has been keen on resetting the relationship with Sri Lanka since Maithripala Sirisena won the presidency in January 2015. Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s rhetoric continues to be wildly out of step with reality. Let’s take a closer look at Power’s statement.

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Sri Lanka Has Since January 2015 Emerged As a Global Champion of Human Rights and Democratic Accountability Says Samantha Power

(Remarks made by Ambassador Samantha Power , US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council Meeting on April 28th 2016.)

There were two reasons that I flew down from New York at the crack of dawn this morning to join you. The first is that I fell in love with Sri Lankan food during my visits, and I was told there were going to be string hoppers, curries, and pol sambol here, but I was misled.

Fortunately, the second reason is much more important and it’s the same reason that our nation’s trade representative is dedicating so much of his time to this and why he and his team are spearheading these discussions. And that is because of the importance President Obama, himself, places on the United States’ bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka. More specifically, our commitment – and his commitment – to Sri Lanka’s continued progress, and our determination to support President Sirisena in his efforts to ensure that this progress delivers socio-economic benefits for the people of Sri Lanka.

Of course, the fact that we are all here in an incredibly positive atmosphere reflects just how much has changed in Sri Lanka since January 2015. That was the month where Sri Lankans cast their votes for a new era: one in which their leadership committed to seeking a durable peace, an accountable democracy, a new relationship with the outside world, and expanded opportunities for all.

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TNA Demand For Federalism and N-E Re-merger is Ill-timed and Borders on Desperation

By Vishwamithra1984

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it”.
~Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for the umpteenth time has resorted to its grand old tactic. At a time when the crying need, both from the greater majority of the ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Tamils, is for reconciliation and co-habitation with dignity and equality a divisive strategy would not pay any dividends.. How much of dignity and equality is forthcoming, especially from the Sinhalese side of the social spectrum is suspect and particularly from the leadership of the Sinhalese action and thought has proven to be blinkered and sometimes exceptionally harmful to a thriving nation grappling with centuries-old antagonisms.

Before we step into the examination of actions and events originated by the Tamil leadership of Sri Lanka that defined and shaped the current socio-political milieu, let us look into what the Sinhalese leadership have been engaged in since the turn of the Twentieth Century. In fact I have written many a column on the various aspects of this festering issue in the relationship between the two major ethnic groups.

Many accomplished historians such as Professors K M de Silva, G C Mendis and Jeyaratnam Wilson and social scientists of the caliber of Michael Roberts, Jayadeva Uyangoda, and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke and many others, have written books and essays and delivered talks abundantly on this subject.

The political background at the dawn of the Twentieth Century was greatly different from the one that encompasses today’s polity. Under the aegis of the British colonial powers, Ceylon and her political leadership at the time, though well-educated all around unlike most of those who enter politics today, was quite alien to the nuanced underpinnings of the Colonial Office of the United Kingdom Government. The emergence of eminent Tamil leaders such as the Ponnambalam brothers and later G G Ponnambalam during the Legislative and State Council era and their ready cohabitation with the leaders of the Sinhalese majority at the time and considering the prevalent socio-econo-political conditions, an exchange of ideas and policy-stances by both parties assumed more of a sophisticated and nuanced shade rather than real-life experiences of the proletariat and middleclass of the two peoples- Sinhalese and Tamils.

Continue reading ‘TNA Demand For Federalism and N-E Re-merger is Ill-timed and Borders on Desperation’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Warns Of Impending Tax Increases And Calls Upon People To Rise Up Against It

(Text of Statement Issued by Former President and current Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa)

No state can exist without taxes. A government needs revenue to carry out its functions and taxes are charged not only on the incomes of the rich but on goods and services used by the general population as well.

Even essential items such as fuel, telecommunications, electricity and food are often targeted for taxation because such goods and services will be bought regardless of the price and therefore guarantees revenue. However, taxes have to be justifiable and reasonable. It is in that light that we should examine the tax increases that are to come into effect from 2 May 2016.

The international prices of virtually everything that we import declined after this government came into power in January last year. In 2014 the average price of crude oil was 96 USD per barrel. Today it’s around 40 USD. Wheat which cost 230 USD per tonne towards the end of 2014 is now around 165 USD. Milk powder which was over 5000 USD per tonne in 2013/14 is now around 2000 USD. Sugar which was 414 USD per tonne in 2014 is now 334 USD. Steel which was 300 USD per tonne in 2014 is now around 90 USD or less. Urea fertiliser which cost 325 USD per tonne in 2014, is around 200 USD today.

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“Preventing Former Ruling Clan From Returning To Power Is My Priority” Declares President Sirisena

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday declared that his goal was to thwart his immediate predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to return to power.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was meant to scuttle his predecessor’s political project, the SLFP leader said.

President Sirisena was responding to a query by The Island at a media briefing at the President’s House. The President emphasised that he would achieve his objective through constitutional and legal means. Underscoring the pivotal importance of punishing those who had been found guilty of wrongdoings, the President said that he would take all possible constitutional and legal remedies to defeat corrupt as well as scheming elements.

The Independent Commissions established in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution would play a crucial role in ongoing efforts to create a righteous environment.

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TNA Rejects Allegations About Party Leader Sampanthan Forcing His Way Into a Military Camp In Kilinochchi

By Dharisha Bastians

Hitting out against the ‘camp controversy’ yesterday, the main opposition Tamil National Alliance rejected claims that its leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan had forced his way into a military camp in Kilinochchi and said the Opposition Leader had complained to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the army was illegally occupying land owned by private citizens in the area.

Addressing a media conference in Colombo yesterday, TNA Spokesman and Jaffna District Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran said TNA Leader Sampanthan had met with the Prime Minister at Temple Trees that morning to take up the issue.

The Prime Minister had promised to call for a report from the military regarding the property in question, he added.Sumanthiran said the army was in “illegal, forcible occupation” of the area.

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Maithripala Sirisena Concerned About Section of Media Supporting Authoritarian Rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that a section of the media had thrown their weight behind his predecessor whom he described as an uncompromising and scheming person, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday alleged that the media seemed to be wanting an authoritarian ruler again.

Addressing the proprietors, top management as well as journalists from both public and private media at the President’s House, the President said he was surprised and sorry about the way some media organisations had backed a scheming authoritarian ruler.

He recalled his predecessor lambasting journalists and television presenters over the phone in disparaging manner over the publication or telecast of offending news items.

The President reiterated a spate of allegations regarding attacks allegedly directed against various media organisations during his predecessor’s rule.

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TNA Leader Sampanthan Responds to Allegations About Entering an Army Camp in Kilinochchi Without Permission in Interview


By

Chathushika Wijeyesinghe

“Daily Mirror” Interviews Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan on Current Issues.

Excerpts from the Interview

Q. During the last few days the media was highlighting your visit to an Army camp and the fuss some sections of the Joint Opposition was making about it. There had been a complaint too about it. Is this true and what is your opinion about it?

I will tell you what happened exactly. I went to Kilinochchi where I addressed a meeting in the compound of the house of the MP for Kilinochchi. In the course of the meeting people raised several issues with me, particularly land issues. There were many who complained that their lands for which they held deeds had been acquired by the Army and that such lands had not been returned to them although the Army itself was not using those lands. After the meeting ended several women told me that the lands they complained about were on the other side of the road, meaning that they were opposite the place where the meeting was held. On the other side of the road there was a Murugan temple and they said their lands were behind that temple.

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Wigneswaran Sponsored Federalism Resolution By Northern Provincial Council is Both a Threat and an Opportunity


By

Malinda Seneviratne

Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran has a lot of opinions. To him, Veluppillai Prabhakaran is a hero. He is entitled to that view — after all some people swear by God and some by the devil. C.V. Wigneswaran is not thanking anyone for the fact that he can actually issue statements from Jaffna without getting them vetted by a hooligan. That is OK too.

He is probably the architect of the resolution titled ‘Final proposals for finding a political solution to the Tamil National Question’, and passed by the Northern Provincial Council, which he heads. The resolution (title and content both) could be called presumptuous, tendentious and even hilarious (to some), but then again it is expected, given Wigneswaran’s track record as well as that of moderate (sic) Tamil politicians and political parties. Moreover, it is a democratically expressed proposal and as such legitimate.

No doubt the document will be ripped apart for falsehoods, exaggerations and the absolute impractical nature of its proposals. The very fact that the Northern provincial entity assumes the right to speak for the people of the East itself indicates the land-grabbing intent that runs through the document and which of course has framed Tamil chauvinistic discourse for decades and which, let us not forget, is the bread and butter of politicians such as Wigneswaran.

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Northern Province Council Resolution Evokes Spontaneous Anti – Federal Response From SLFP, UNP, JVP and FSP

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

As always Tamil nationalism has overreached; acted unilaterally and overplayed its hand. As always this overestimation based on (congenitally?) misplaced arrogance undermines its Sinhala moderate counterparts and negotiating partners.

This has been so for decades, from the anti-Sri campaign of 1957 which undermined the B-C Pact, through the Vardarajaperumal NEPC’s confrontational adventurism vis-à-vis Premadasa in 1989-’90 and the LTTE’s ISGA/PTOMS which rendered Ranil and Chandrika easy political targets, right down to the latest NPC resolution and the TNA’s attempt to gatecrash a military camp.

The NPC resolution spontaneously triggered an anti-federal reaction on the part of the SLFP (Mahinda Samarasinghe), UNP (Kabir Hashim, Ajith P. Perera), JVP (Vijitha Herath) and FSP (Pubudu Jagoda). This happened on prime time TV news within 24 hours and without a single word from Mahinda or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa– neither of whom was in the country when the story broke. They have yet to say something on the matter.

Thus the NPC resolution and the TNA’s federalist stance has already caused a programmatic and ideological fissure in the Jan 8th 2015 Yahapalana bloc.

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Cineplex Odeon Stops Screening of Tamil Movie “Theri” in Greater Toronto Area After Pepper Spray-Like Attacks On 3 Theatres

BY JENNY YUEN

TORONTO – A Tamil film has been pulled by big-wig movie theatre corporation Cineplex following three GTA attacks involving a pepper spray-like substance.

Theatres in Brampton, Scarborough and Mississauga were evacuated Friday night around 7:20 p.m. because of similar attacks during screening of the action movie Theri. A few people were treated by paramedics at the scene but no one was seriously injured.

“I can confirm that we did cancel the remaining run of the film, Theri, at our theatres across the GTA,” Cineplex spokesman Sarah Van Lange said Monday.

“The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority, and while each incident was localized to a single auditorium, in an abundance of caution we evacuated each of the theatres entirely,” she said. “Steps were taken immediately that evening to ensure the situation was addressed. We continue to take precautionary measures.”

Continue reading ‘Cineplex Odeon Stops Screening of Tamil Movie “Theri” in Greater Toronto Area After Pepper Spray-Like Attacks On 3 Theatres’ »