CV Wigneswaran’s Canada “Visit” Exposes Deep Divisions Within TNA and the Northern Provincial Council.

By Manekshaw

The Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran returned to Colombo on Monday (16) after a hectic one week’s tour in Canada.

Before heading to the airport, Wigneswaran addressed a public meeting attended by nearly 600 Lankan Tamil expatriates at the Scarborough University Pan Am stadium.

Wigneswaran, in the last lap of his tour in Canada, which is under freezing conditions these days, was coughing while addressing the gathering and said that his restless hectic tour was the reason for his cough.

At the end of his address he said he was returning to his motherland to continue with duties for his people.

Wigneswaran twice earlier when he attempted to travel to Canada, was not given a visa by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘CV Wigneswaran’s Canada “Visit” Exposes Deep Divisions Within TNA and the Northern Provincial Council.’ »

“We Will Make America Great Again”- Text of 45th US President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address

Read President Donald Trump’s inaugural address as prepared for delivery:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Continue reading ‘“We Will Make America Great Again”- Text of 45th US President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address’ »

What is Donald Trump Likely to Achieve in Power? -The Economist

MUCH of the time, argues David Runciman, a British academic, politics matters little to most people. Then, suddenly, it matters all too much. Donald Trump’s term as America’s 45th president, which is due to begin with the inauguration on January 20th, stands to be one of those moments.

It is extraordinary how little American voters and the world at large feel they know about what Mr Trump intends. Those who back him are awaiting the biggest shake-up in Washington, DC, in half a century—though their optimism is an act of faith.

Those who oppose him are convinced there will be chaos and ruin on an epoch-changing scale—though their despair is guesswork. All that just about everyone can agree on is that Mr Trump promises to be an entirely new sort of American president. The question is, what sort?

Continue reading ‘What is Donald Trump Likely to Achieve in Power? -The Economist’ »

Donald John Trump Sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America

By Julie Pace

Pledging to empower America’s ‘‘forgotten men and women,’’ Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

Looking out over the crowd sprawled across the National Mall, Trump painted a bleak picture of the nation he now leads, lamenting ‘‘American carnage,’’ shuttered factories and depleted U.S. leadership. President Barack Obama, the man he replaced, sat behind him stoically.

Trump’s address lasted just 16 minutes. While his inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.

Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through. After the swearing-in, more protesters registered their rage in the streets of Washington. Police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and made numerous arrests after protesters smashed the windows of downtown businesses, denouncing capitalism and Trump.

The new president’s first words as commander in chief were an unapologetic reprisal of the economic populism and nationalism that fueled his improbable campaign. He vowed to stir ‘‘new national pride,’’ bring jobs back to the United States, and ‘‘eradicate completely’’ Islamic terrorism.

Continue reading ‘Donald John Trump Sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America’ »

President Sirisena Wants Emergency to be Declared With Simple Majority by Parliament Instead of Two -Thirds Majority.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena has directed that proposed National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP) shouldn’t in any way be an obstacle to imposition of Emergency Regulations.

President Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces had instructed that a controversial clause pertaining to the declaration of Emergency be removed forthwith.

Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe called the NHRAP as the second such report since Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE. Samarasinghe handled the first report that dealt with 2013 to 2016 period.

Samarasinghe has revealed the intervention made by President Sirisena recently at a meeting attended by members of the UNP-SLFP coalition cabinet.


Addressing the media at SLFP office at the T.B. Jayah Mawatha on Thursday, Minister Samarasinghe quoted President Sirisena as having said that the parliament should retain the right to impose Emergency Regulations with a simple majority. President Sirisena has pointed out that the proposal to subject Emergency regulations to a two-thirds majority in parliament could cause unnecessary problems, hence the decision to abolish that particular clause.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Wants Emergency to be Declared With Simple Majority by Parliament Instead of Two -Thirds Majority.’ »

Ratifying and Implementing 27 International Conventions by Sri Lankan Govt is Sole Criteria for Restoration of GSP Plus says European Union.

The European Union has said that the ratification and implementation of 27 international conventions signed by successive Sri Lankan governments were the only criteria on which the incumbent Government application to regain the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) would be assessed.

These conventions relate to international human rights, labour rights, environmental standards and good governance.

The government would have to make further progress in implementing the conventions and to cooperate with the EU to monitor implementation and address shortcomings.

Continue reading ‘Ratifying and Implementing 27 International Conventions by Sri Lankan Govt is Sole Criteria for Restoration of GSP Plus says European Union.’ »

2nd “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil)Rally To Be Held in Batticaloa by Tamil Peoples Council Postponed From Jan 21st to Jan 28th

By Dharisha Bastians

The second ‘Eluga Tamil’ rally expected to be held in Batticaloa tomorrow has been postponed after Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was undecided about attendance and provincial education authorities decreed that Saturday 21 January would be a school day, organisers said.

Organisers announced that the rally had been tentatively postponed for 28 January after a massive Pongal festival organised by the TNA in Batticaloa also threatened to overshadow tomorrow’s planned demonstration.

The Tamil People’s Council (TPC), a civil society organisation led by Chief Minister Wigneswaran, was to hold the second of the ‘Eluga Tamil’ (Rise Tamil!) rallies in the Eastern Province town, after the group’s first demonstration in Jaffna drew thousands in September 2016.

Continue reading ‘2nd “Ezhuga Thamizh”(Arise Tamil)Rally To Be Held in Batticaloa by Tamil Peoples Council Postponed From Jan 21st to Jan 28th’ »

Magical “MGR” Charisma of Kandy- Born Actor-Politico M.G.Ramachandran.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

January 17th 2017 was declared a holiday in the southern Tamil Nadu state of India. This was to acknowledge and celebrate the birth centenary of Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran or MG Ramachandran who served as chief miister of Tamil Nadu for 10 years from 1977 to 1987. It is the political party he founded in 1972 – All India Anna-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham_-that is in power today in the state. Various events were held throughout Tamil Nadu to honour the memory of a larger than life personality known to millions of people by three letters of the English alphabet denoting the initials of his names – MGR!

MGR though ethnically a Malayalee made a name for himself as an actor in Tamil films and followed it up by becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state. MGR who started acting in minor roles from 1936 got his major break as lead actor in 1947. Thereafter for 30 years till 1977 he was the uncrowned king of Tamil cinema as the biggest box office attraction of them all. The swashbuckling actor starred as an action hero in over 100 Tamil films. In a film career spanning four decades from 1936 to 1978, MGR acted in 136 films.Most of his movies minted money at the box -office. This was the time when the magical initials MGR comprised a household name in the Tamil-speaking homes of countries with a substantial population of Tamils, including India,Malaysia,Singapore and Sri Lanka. MGR had a huge following of fans in Sri Lanka during the time he sparkled on the silver screen. Among his fans in the island were a large number of Sinhalese and Muslims too.
Continue reading ‘Magical “MGR” Charisma of Kandy- Born Actor-Politico M.G.Ramachandran.’ »

“Sri Lanka Hopes to Offer Trincomalee Harbour to India” Reveals Lankan Cabinet Minister Sarath Fonseka in New Delhi


By

Kallol Bhattacherjee

Sri Lanka is in talks to offer the port of Trincomalee to India!

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue here, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Colombo’s Minister of Regional Development, said that the decision on offering the port to India will be taken soon.

“Talks are at present going on between India and Sri Lanka and we hope to offer the Trincomalee port, which is one of the best deep sea ports in the world, to India,” said Mr. Fonseka speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue.

Trincomalee has been on the table for sometime as Sri Lanka wants to maintain a neutral stand and provide equal access to its ports to both China and India.

Continue reading ‘“Sri Lanka Hopes to Offer Trincomalee Harbour to India” Reveals Lankan Cabinet Minister Sarath Fonseka in New Delhi’ »

Sri Lankan Tamils Demonstrate in Support of Restoration of “Jallikkattu” in Tamil Nadu


By P.K.Balachandran

Though there is no Jallikattu tradition in Sri Lankan Tamil villages, the Tamils of the island nation have enthusiastically joined the Jallikattu restoration movement now going on in Tamil Nadu by organizing demonstrations in support of it.

Photo courtesy of: Kayalvizhi-via Dharshu Dharshana

On Wednesday, a demonstration was held by Junior Rotarians opposite the Nallur Kandswamy temple in Jaffna. A call has been given to attend a similar demonstration in Chavakachcheri on Saturday.

According to reliable sources, some North Sri Lankan provincial ministers and members of the Northern Provincial Council are behind the demonstrations as they see them as a strategy to win over the Tamil Nadu Tamils to the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Tamils Demonstrate in Support of Restoration of “Jallikkattu” in Tamil Nadu’ »

Appeal Filed by Slain Tamil MP’s wife Sasikala Raviraj Dismissed by Appeal Court as Petitioner or Her Lawyers were not Present.

By S.S. Selvanayagam and Dharisha Bastians

The Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by the wife of slain MP Nadarajah Raviraj against the ruling of the Colombo High Court in her husband’s murder case.

The bench comprised Justices Deepali Wijesundera and Lalith Jayasuriya.

The judges dismissed the appeal because the aggrieved party Sasikala Raviraj and her lawyers were not present in court when the case was taken up. Counsel Anuja Premaratne appeared for two of the accused – Chandana Kumara and Gamini Seneviratne – who are cited as respondents in Sasikala Raviraj’s appeal of the High Court verdict.

Attorney at Law Premaratne argued that the case should be dismissed since the application for the appeal had not been supported since the appellant and her lawyers were absent in court.

Deputy Solicitor General Thusidh Mudalige appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.

Continue reading ‘Appeal Filed by Slain Tamil MP’s wife Sasikala Raviraj Dismissed by Appeal Court as Petitioner or Her Lawyers were not Present.’ »

Sri Lankan Cabinet Amends National Human Rights Action Plan to Continue with De-criminalization of Homosexuality.

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan cabinet has decided not to de-criminalize homosexuality, cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said here on Wednesday.

But asked if there is a possibility of homosexuals being arrested under the existing law which criminalizes homosexuality, Senaratne said there is little likelihood of arrests as people indulge in homosexuality indoors, and therefore, it cannot be proved.

Senaratne said that the cabinet removed provisions in the National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2020, which would have led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The cabinet approved the Action Plan with amendments.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Cabinet Amends National Human Rights Action Plan to Continue with De-criminalization of Homosexuality.’ »

Govt Unclear Whether it wants a new Constitution, Modest Reform or Renovation of the Existing One.

BY

DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

Not only is the government increasingly divided, I am too.

It was almost the end of 2016 and at the society wedding of the year attended by the incumbent President, the Prime Minister and two former Presidents (of wildly unequal popularity even in an elite setting), that a very senior retired civil servant posed the following question to me in the buffet queue: “Dayan, have you ever seen a government that was quite as stupid as this one?” My prompt answer was “nope”.

The inter-party, intra-regime contradictions proliferate over quite fundamental policy issues, cracks show in the coalition and the government fissures before our eyes.That said, I have a confession to make. As the Yahapalana enters its third year, I find I am a divided self. One part of me urges that the government stops the nonsense it is embarked upon and changes course– and that part of me publicly recommends viable alternatives. The other part of my divided self hopes the government will continue its nonsense and inevitably ignite the firestorm that will consume it and its supportive strata. These two sides of me are the Realist reformist vs. the Romantic (ex)revolutionary; the policy analyst vs. the political intellectualand ideologist.

The Realist in me is appalled at the anarchy that is manifesting itself in government and the reckless courses of action that it is pursuing. One the other hand the Romantic rebel recalls Chairman Mao’s delighted exclamation that “there is great disorder under heavens; the situation is excellent!”

Continue reading ‘Govt Unclear Whether it wants a new Constitution, Modest Reform or Renovation of the Existing One.’ »

Heightened Interest in Sri Lanka by US Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) is Cause for Concern

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Responding to my column of January 07, 2017 titled ‘US role in Sri Lanka’s institutional reform process – Assistance or Espionage?’ the Secretary General of Parliament wrote a Letter to the Editor regarding the agreement signed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in Washington DC in September. It said “The said agreement does not relate to the SDGAP launched by USAID with DAI as its implementing partner.” (Daily Mirror January 11, 2017, A12).

While the Parliament Secretary General’s letter clarifies that the House Democracy Partnership Agreement signed by Speaker Jayasuriya in Washington, and USAID’s SDGAP (‘Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project’) are not one and the same, it also acknowledges that the SDGAP is in fact implemented by DAI. The Parliament Secretary General does not address the bone of contention here, which is that USAID’s contractor DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.) is a private US company alleged to be a CIA front. It is on record that Speaker Jayasuriya chaired the launch of the SDGAP in November.

The governmental response would seem like that of someone who, seeing the ‘writing on the wall,’ proceeds to criticize the handwriting. It corrects a point of minor importance while disregarding the more important concern that’s been raised.

Further investigation reveals that this is not the first time DAI and other private US companies have been contracted to carry out USAID ‘projects’ in Sri Lanka:

Continue reading ‘Heightened Interest in Sri Lanka by US Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) is Cause for Concern’ »

Lanka Coal Chairman Maithri Gunaratne Who Exposed Sordid Swiss Coal Tender Deal Removed from Post by Power Minister Siyambalapitiya.


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has removed attorney-at-law Maithri Gunaratne from the post of Chairman Lanka Coal Company (LCC) a week after the UNPer exposed sordid coal deals perpetrated at Sri Lanka’s expense.

Former Southern Provincial Council member confirmed his removal and the disbanding of the board of directors Secretary to the Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Dr B. H. S. Batagoda over weekend called for the immediate removal of the board of directors of LCC on the basis of Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe’s report pertaining to the shortcomings and failures during 2009-2016 period.

Continue reading ‘Lanka Coal Chairman Maithri Gunaratne Who Exposed Sordid Swiss Coal Tender Deal Removed from Post by Power Minister Siyambalapitiya.’ »

MG Ramachandran Born in Kandy Was Sri Lanka’s Gift to India Says Indian Consul-General at MGR Birth Centenary Event in Jaffna.

By P.K.Balachandran

The 100th birth anniversary of M.G.Ramachandran, who dominated the Tamil film world as well as Tamil Nadu politics like a colossus till his death in December 1987, was observed in the North Sri Lankan Tamil town of Jaffna on Tuesday with the Indian Consul General, A.Natarajan, as the Chief Guest.

The solemn function organised at the “MGR” statue by Suntharalingam, an associate of MGR’s from the time the actor-politician was shot at and injured by fellow actor and political rival M.R.Radha in 1967.

Influenced by MGR’s concern for the welfare of the poorest of the poor, Suntharalingam has been distributing money and clothes to the poor of Jaffna every year to mark his idol’s birthday. Sporting dark glasses like MGR, Suntharalingam is also a man of few words, who believes in doing rather than talking. He is popularly known as “Eelamu MGR” or MGR of Eelam.

Continue reading ‘MG Ramachandran Born in Kandy Was Sri Lanka’s Gift to India Says Indian Consul-General at MGR Birth Centenary Event in Jaffna.’ »

Alleged Ex-LTTE Leader Suresh Manikkavasagam to be Deported From Canada to Sri Lanka

Canada will finally deport a former Tamil Tiger who raised funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Manickavasagam Suresh was sent by the LTTE to Canada in 1990 to serve as the coordinator of the World Tamil Movement to raise funds from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Canada’s federal court has upheld his deportation because he was a member of a terrorist organisation which Ottawa had banned.

The court held that he was complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Continue reading ‘Alleged Ex-LTTE Leader Suresh Manikkavasagam to be Deported From Canada to Sri Lanka’ »

“Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka”(EMSL)Organization Formed on Dec 30th 2016 by Group of Persons Who Quit Islam as a Religion.

A group of individuals, who chose to leave the religion they were born to – Islam, owing to different reasons, joined as a group to form ‘Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka’ (EMSL), two days prior to bidding farewell to the year 2016.

Coming out to the public for the first time in Sri Lanka’s history as the very first organisation for those who left and wish to leave the religion of Islam was formed on 30 December 2016 at an undisclosed location closer to the country’s commercial capital, Colombo.

Meeting for the first time as a group, almost all its members from a handful of unidentified individuals, made use of the gathering to hold the inaugural General Meeting of the EMSL. The members belonged to almost all age categories from both genders, made it a point to share their individual experiences and why they chose not to follow the religion they were born to and becoming faithless in the religion. The members were screened and selected after their responses through the social media campaign which took months.

Continue reading ‘“Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka”(EMSL)Organization Formed on Dec 30th 2016 by Group of Persons Who Quit Islam as a Religion.’ »

Deafening Silence of USA and India Over Maithri-Ranil Govt’s Hambantota Deal With the “Robber Barons” of China.

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

Why have the US and India not raised yet an issue over the decision of the Sirisena- Wickremesinghe government to lease out Hambantota Port to a Chinese company for 99 years has surprised many. The Sri Lankan government has also decided to grant China 15,000 acres in the vicinity of Hambantota Port.

Since it is hard to find the real causes of the deafening silence on the part of India and the US, one may attribute it to two factors either in combination or alone.

Continue reading ‘Deafening Silence of USA and India Over Maithri-Ranil Govt’s Hambantota Deal With the “Robber Barons” of China.’ »

“President Sirisena Must Honour Mandate to Abolish the Executive Presidency” – MA.Sumanthiran M.P.


By

Kelum Bandara


Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP for the Jaffna District M.A. Sumanthiran, in an interview with the Daily Mirror, shares his views on the Constitution making and the way forward. He says his party remains optimistic about a positive outcome.

Excerpts:

Q How optimistic are you of the Constitution making process?

MA.Sumanthiran M.P.

Well, this is a once in life opportunity. It is, in fact, once in the life of a country opportunity.

This problem has been with us ever since Independence. Every time, when the party in office makes any effort to resolve it, the party in the Opposition opposed. It happened in 1957, 1965 and went on like that. After many consequences, particularly large scale violence, there was a process from 1994 to 2000 to build a Constitution. But, in August 2000, when a bill was brought to Parliament, the main Opposition opposed. The party came to power within two years of that and took some efforts by signing a Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). Then again, it was moved out of power by the other party.

This is the first time ever in the history of this country that the two main parties have come together. The leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is the President, whereas the leader of the United National Party (UNP) is the Prime Minister. They have formed a national government for the very purpose of resolving this issue by bringing a new Constitution acceptable to all the peoples of the country. We supported this effort from the time a common candidate emerged in November, 2014. Though we sit in the Opposition, we and the JVP have been supportive of the National Government‘s effort to draft a new Constitution that has the agreement of all the people. We have made significant progress which made me optimistic. One year ago, a resolution was adopted. Then, the Steering Committee was formed. It has met 45 times. Six subcommittees were appointed. They have given their reports. All of the decision made so far in the Constitutional Assembly and the steering committee, have been unanimous decisions. That gave us hope that it was possible to reach the largest consensus in this work of drafting a new constitution.

Continue reading ‘“President Sirisena Must Honour Mandate to Abolish the Executive Presidency” – MA.Sumanthiran M.P.’ »

Mano Ganesan Seeks Cabinet Approval to Recruit,Train and Appoint 3000 “Bi-lingual Assistants” in State Institutions

By Sandun Jayawardana

The sole authority for language policy implementation is the Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages. The Department of Official Languages (DOL), the Official Languages Commission (OLC) and National Institute of Language Education and Training (NILET) fall within its purview.

Mano Ganesan

Mano Ganesan is proud of being the first subject minister proficient in all three languages. He insisted that language law implementation was essential to a political solution to the country’s national issues, in an interview with the Sunday Times. If allowed to freely carry out his language plans, the Government can solve “51 per cent of the national issue,” he said.

Bilingual language proficiency within the State sector was nowhere near satisfactory, Mr. Ganesan admitted. “Learning the second language is considered an additional burden by employees although second language proficiency is tied to their promotions and incentives,” he said. He alleged that some State employees were using ‘dubious means’ to obtain second language proficiency certificates for promotions and incentives. Consequently, most public sector workers with second language proficiency certificates do not speak, write or understand the second language.

Continue reading ‘Mano Ganesan Seeks Cabinet Approval to Recruit,Train and Appoint 3000 “Bi-lingual Assistants” in State Institutions’ »

Lack of Bi-lingual Proficiency Among Govt Officials Hampers the Implementation of Tamil as an Official Language.

By Sandun Jayawardana

On December 28, Aingkaran Kugathasan accompanied a friend to the Jaffna police station to lodge a complaint. It was around10.40 a.m. and there was a long queue. But even after one hour, the line did not move.

“When we inquired, we were told there was only one policeman conversant in Tamil and that he had been summoned by a senior police officer for an urgent matter,” Mr. Kugathasan, an attorney-at-law, said. He returned over one-and-a-half hours later. And their turn came around 1.15 p.m.

“Just as the policeman started recording my friend’s statement, we were told there was an issue at the Governor’s office and that he had to go there,” Mr. Kugathasan said. “And we were asked to come the following day.”

This is just one in many problems faced by the people on a daily basis owing to a failure to implement the Official Language Policy.

Continue reading ‘Lack of Bi-lingual Proficiency Among Govt Officials Hampers the Implementation of Tamil as an Official Language.’ »

Is a Reformed Executive President Better Than An Executive Prime Minister?


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Few institutions in this country are as vilified as the executive presidency. The SLFP has been campaigning to abolish it since the very first day it was introduced under the 1978 Constitution. However, after they were elected to power, SLFP leaders did anything but abolishing the executive presidency. Chandrika Kumaratunga won a landmark election victory in 1994, promising to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days and she completed her two lukewarm terms and retired in 2005.

Mahinda Rajapaksa promised the same. At least he ended the war (making use of the extensive powers accorded to him by virtue of the office), but could not satiate himself with two terms. He changed the Constitution to serve himself with a presidency for life. Save J.R. Jayawardene who drafted the 1978 Constitution to be in line with his personal and political ambitions (and later tampered with it habitually). Mahinda Rajapaksa was the only politician who changed the country’s Constitution to fit into his whims and fancies. Even R. Premadasa who was demeaned during his time being a ‘one man show’ never stooped that low.

The only executive president in this country who voluntarily gave up a portion of powers in his office was Maithripala Sirisena. During his administration, the Constitutional Council was reactivated under the 19th Amendment and the power of the president to dissolve Parliament after one year was removed. President Kumaratunga conceded to set up the Constitutional Council under the 17th Amendment, but was forced to do so by the JVP as a precondition for her probationary government with the JVP. Hers does not count as an act of altruism.

Continue reading ‘Is a Reformed Executive President Better Than An Executive Prime Minister?’ »

Wilpattu Settlements Environmental Crisis Has Changed Into an Ethnic Issue Between Sinhalese and Muslims.

By Rathindra Kuruwita

“Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the State is to detect it in embryo.”
– Isaac Asimov

The issue of establishing new settlements on forest areas adjoining Wilpattu National Park has moved beyond from being an environmental issue to a tribal shoving match, by tribes I meant the Sinhalese and Muslims. While it could come to this was never a surprise to me, in fact I expected as much when I started reporting on the new settlements around 2010 and tried my best to prevent that from happening, which was the attitude of almost all environmental journalists from that period, I must admit that this is indicative of a dangerous trend we must try to overcome if we really want to make multiculturalism work.


Tribal shoving match

Essentially the issue of clearing of 3,200 acres in Kalaru forest reserve under the control of the Forest Conservation Department and establishing new settlements, is an environmental issue. This was how it was covered between 2010 and 2013. But unfortunately when the issue once again ‘resurfaced,’ although environmentalists like Sajeewa Chamikara and Jagath Gunawardane had been fighting the continuous environmental degradation since day one, the journalists who began to cover the issue had changed.

Those who covered the issue previously, from an environmental perspective, for some reason didn’t turn up and a new set of journalists, who had for most part not covered any environmental issue, reported on the matter in a partisan manner. One set of journalists toed the line peddled by Rishad Bathiudeen and Basil Rajapaksa, making it an issue of Muslim rights while the others toed the line peddled by the Sinhala extremists. And now the settlements of forest areas around Wilpattu are no longer an environmental issue, it is an ethnic issue.

Continue reading ‘Wilpattu Settlements Environmental Crisis Has Changed Into an Ethnic Issue Between Sinhalese and Muslims.’ »

Board of Investment Dupes Country,President and Prime Minister About Non-Existent Volkswagen Assembly Plant Deal

by Nirmala Kannangara

After the Volkswagen Company in Germany claimed that they have not invested in an vehicle assembly plant in Sri Lanka nor have any intention to do so even in future, it had now come to limelight as to how the Board of Investments (BOI) not only duped the President and Prime Minister but also the entire country to show that they were able to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for a vehicle assembling plant in Sri Lanka.

It was soon after President Maithripala Sirisena’s victory and the new government was formed in 2015, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe said that he had received a proposal from Volkswagen AG to start an assembly plant in Sri Lanka and accused the former regime for not granting approval for the same company when they first wanted to invest on the same project in 2012.

However, The Sunday Leader is in possession of documents, to prove that neither during the Rajapaksa regime nor during the present regime did Volkswagen AG submitted applications to invest in a venture here but only a local businessman had submitted an application with the Volkswagen name.

The BOI document in 2015 that shows the investment of Senok Automobile is 110% higher than that of the foreign investment and The BOI document in 2012 that has no trace to Volkswagen involvement in the vehicle assembly plant but only Senok Group

“It is not the Prime Minister that lied on this matter, it is the BOI that put him in great embarrassment by giving him wrong information. The Prime Minister cannot go through these documents but it is the responsibility of the BOI to give him the correct information,” BOI sources said.

Continue reading ‘Board of Investment Dupes Country,President and Prime Minister About Non-Existent Volkswagen Assembly Plant Deal’ »

Rajapaksa Regime’s Ex -Nigeria Envoy “ASP”Liyanage of “Speaking Notes Fame”, Designated as Ambassador to Qatar by “Yahapalanaya” Govt

A businessman who was once handpicked by the former administration to head Sri Lanka’s embassy in Nigeria, has been officially named ambassador-designate to Qatar.

Panagoda Don Prince Solomon Anura Liyanage, more commonly known as ASP Liyanage, was nominated by President Maithripala Sirisena. The Qatari Government is yet to be notified. He is the latest in a number of political appointments made to the highest levels of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic corps.

Currently, ambassadors, high commissioners or consuls general of 33 missions are from outside the active Sri Lanka Foreign Service (SLFS). The position in the Maldives is still vacant. This is a significant increase from 2015, when the “Yahapalanaya” administration took over with its pledge of creating a professional diplomatic corps. The number includes retired senior Foreign Service officers, while four are retired members of the armed forces.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Regime’s Ex -Nigeria Envoy “ASP”Liyanage of “Speaking Notes Fame”, Designated as Ambassador to Qatar by “Yahapalanaya” Govt’ »

Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe “Does not Know What he Is Talking About” Says Finance Minister ravi Karunanayake

By
Thilanka Kanakarathna

Replying to a statement made by the Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe with regard to the access to temporary resident visas, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake maintained that Minister Rajapakshe was misinformed and did not know what he was talking about.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe “Does not Know What he Is Talking About” Says Finance Minister ravi Karunanayake’ »

“Dangal”Based on Life of Haryana Wrestler Mahavir Phogat Adjudged the Best Film at 62nd “Filmfare “Awards

Aamir+Khan


Aamir Khan bagged the best actor honour, while his movie “Dangal” was adjudged as the best film at the 62nd Jio Filmfare Awards.

The best director award went to Nitesh Tiwari for “Dangal”, which is based on the life of Haryana wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters.

The awards, held on Saturday, was hosted by Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and Kapil Sharma.

Alia Bhatt


Continue reading ‘“Dangal”Based on Life of Haryana Wrestler Mahavir Phogat Adjudged the Best Film at 62nd “Filmfare “Awards’ »

MCDonalds in India Introduces “Dosa Burger” Combining French Style Brioche With Ingredients of Potato Masala Dosa.


Unmentionable things have been stuffed into the dosa over the years, so why the outrage over its McAvatar?

McD made a mash of milagu mayo Packed a pickled potato patty Dosa’s done and dusted It’s McBreakfast’s Taste of India Challenge.

All across the South, the Dosa Masters have raised their ladles in silence.On January the 13th, the alien hordes led by one well-known multinational company unleashed the challenge of the dosa burger.

Just as the Brits took the pepper, or milagu from the fiery Tamil milagu-tani into their watery soups and made it Mulligatawny, the Dosa Mcburger has taken the milagu from the traditional pepper powders and added it to a mayonnaise base and piped it onto a potato patty to create a taste of a masala dosa. The outer case is made of a soft French-style brioche.

Dosa Masters are the samurais of South Indian breakfast foods. They are alchemists who transform the frothing fermented batter of rice and lentils into golden discs that go by the name of dosa.

Continue reading ‘MCDonalds in India Introduces “Dosa Burger” Combining French Style Brioche With Ingredients of Potato Masala Dosa.’ »

97,000 Applicants in North for Pre-fabricated Steel Houses but Tamil National Alliance Protests Against Project


by Dilisha Abeysundara

The people in the North have been suffering for the past thirty years with war right at their doorstep and their sole wish has been to live in peace under their own roof on their land. Sadly, even after a decade since the end of the war, the authorities have failed to make their dreams a reality. The political tug-o-war between public representatives that continuously occurs without providing these unfortunate victims of the war is utterly unfair.

According to censes available at the Jaffna District Secretariat’s Office, over 150,000 northerners are in need of immediate housing. Although some of these people have been provided with houses under the housing schemes initiated by both the Indian and Sri Lankan governments, thousands remain inside refugee camps or temporary huts wishing for a home of their own. Recently the government took steps to launch another housing project to provide 65,000 houses for these displaced people. Although the project has received the Cabinet go-ahead, it has now become problematic as to whether the project is being carried out or whether it has grounded to a halt. According to reports the project has been temporarily suspended due to strong opposition from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), who had carried out protests against the project in several areas in the North.

The contract for the project, which has a budget of over 1 billion USD, was given to a French company called ‘ArcelorMittal’. These houses are being constructed with a pre-fabricated form of steel and cost 2.1 million a unit. Each house has an area of 550 sq ft and consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen with a pantry cupboard and a bathroom. It also includes a solar powered water tank, furniture, a ceiling fan, a gas cooker, a TV and a laptop with a Wi-Fi internet connection. Two model housing units have already being built in Kopai and Tellipalei DS divisions. The project was given the cabinet approval on December 22, 2015.

Continue reading ‘97,000 Applicants in North for Pre-fabricated Steel Houses but Tamil National Alliance Protests Against Project’ »

2017 Admissions to Royal College Grade 1 Classes Suspended by Education Ministry Due to Allegations of “Right Royal”Fraud.

by Roshani Nathaniel

The Ministry of Education has decided to suspend grade one admissions to Royal College Colombo for the new academic year in response to complaints received by the Education Ministry in November, 2016 with regard to alleged irregularities that took place during the selection process of students for grade one.

The grade one admissions were scheduled to take place on January 11.

The Sunday Leader learns through a very reliable source that of the applications that were received for admission to grade 1, around 20 of them were those which had furnished false addresses. It is also learnt that of these false addresses, one of them was the address of a former President as well.

According to the source, while the name of one applicant who fulfilled all the requirements was on the first list, it was omitted from the second list. Hence the father of the child who is also a high ranking personality, had written to the President regarding the irregularities which took place at Royal College Colombo.

Continue reading ‘2017 Admissions to Royal College Grade 1 Classes Suspended by Education Ministry Due to Allegations of “Right Royal”Fraud.’ »

Mahinda Loyalist Lokuwithana to be Given 100 Acres on 99 Year Lease at Annual Rent of Rs 100 Per Acre to Build Tyre Factory in Horana

By Namini Wijedasa

The Government, through the Ministry of Development Strategies, is drawing up a sweetheart deal for controversial Sri Lankan businessman Nandana Lokuwithana to build a tyre factory in Horana.

Among other things, it will grant him a 99-year lease on 100 acres of land for an annual rent of just 100 rupees an acre.

For his promised investment of US$75 million (Rs. 11.2 billion), Mr. Lokuwithana’s company is expected to receive an income tax holiday of 12 years after which a preferential rate of 15 percent will be levied, authoritative sources said. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) has also sanctioned a massive discount on the lease premium owed to the Wagawatte property and is now pushing through other concessions.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Loyalist Lokuwithana to be Given 100 Acres on 99 Year Lease at Annual Rent of Rs 100 Per Acre to Build Tyre Factory in Horana’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa is the Glue That Holds the Coalition Governing Sri Lanka Together

By Dr. Ram Manikkalingam

The National Unity Government with Maithripala Sirisena as President and Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister has lasted for two years. How much longer will it last, given the policy, political and personal dilemmas that bedevil it?

The coalition that governs Sri Lanka came together to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa. And it has stayed together because Mahinda Rajapaksa is down, but not out. He is still the glue that holds the coalition together. Political differences between the UNP and the SLFP are sometimes papered over, and at other times exaggerated with the objective of keeping Mahinda Rajapaksa out.

While sufficient to win elections, and survive two years of muddling through in office, this anti-Rajapaksa glue is insufficient to see the coalition through what is likely to be its most critical third year of 2017. Now the honeymoon is over, an overarching strategy is required to address three critical areas – democratic reform, national reconciliation and economic transformation.

While each of these areas is hard enough on its own, addressing all three simultaneously is particularly challenging. Meanwhile Rajapaksa and his followers are waiting in the wings for this coalition to fail.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa is the Glue That Holds the Coalition Governing Sri Lanka Together’ »

Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd CEO Ravi Gukathasan Donates $2 Million to Toronto Uiversity Scarborough Campus for Tamil Studies

By

Berton Woodward

One of University of Toronto Scarborough Campus’s earliest Tamil alumni has given UTSC a historic donation of $2 million to support Tamil studies.

UTSC alumnus Ravi Gukathasan is CEO of Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd. in Scarborough. His gift to the university will fund an annual post-doctoral fellowship in Tamil studies as well as scholarships, event programming and digital archiving. (Photo by Ken Jones)

The gift from Ravi Gukathasan (U of T PhD, 1986; UTSC BSc, 1982), who is CEO of Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd. in Scarborough, is the largest single cash gift from an alumnus in UTSC’s 51-year history. It will fund an annual post-doctoral fellowship in Tamil studies as well as scholarships, event programming and digital archiving.

“I want UTSC to be a star when it comes to the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, its culture, its language, its perspective in the world,” says Gukathasan. “We have the biggest Tamil diaspora in the world in Scarborough. They need to be proud.”

He also sees his gift as a leadership example for other members of the Tamil community to follow. “I think $2 million is a very good nucleus to begin from,” he says.

Continue reading ‘Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd CEO Ravi Gukathasan Donates $2 Million to Toronto Uiversity Scarborough Campus for Tamil Studies’ »

Setting Up Criminal Justice Commissions to Probe Corruption Charges Against Political Rivals May Be Maithripala’s ” Secret Weapon” to Clear the Way for 2020 Polls .

By

Don Manu

Perhaps triggered by Mahinda Rajapaksa throwing down the gauntlet two weeks ago and threatening to topple the government this year, the Sirisena faithful drew ranks last week and proceeded to lay the groundwork for The Empire to strike back with a vengeance.

The first was a line of defense. It was to erect a parapet wall round the SLFP fort and hang a ‘No Vacancies till 2025” board on it and thus bar the arrival of a usurper at the palace gates with a power itch to cross the moat presumptuously and claim title to the castle.

The party’s secretary, the Rajarata knight Duminda Dissanayake took it upon himself to forestall such an eventuality by springing the proposal at the SLFP’s committee meeting last week that called for the appointment of President Sirisena as the party’s presidential candidate at the 2020 presidential election.

This was put forward by Mr. Dissanayake irrespective of whether, as he said to his colleagues, Maithripala Sirisena liked it or not, and the committee endorsed it unanimously.

Continue reading ‘Setting Up Criminal Justice Commissions to Probe Corruption Charges Against Political Rivals May Be Maithripala’s ” Secret Weapon” to Clear the Way for 2020 Polls .’ »

Several Ministers Raise Issues About Some Provisions in Proposed 300 Page National Human Rights Action Plan.

Govt ministers at their weekly meeting discussed the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) 2017-2021. Its urgency has been underscored by European Union’s initial moves to restore to Sri Lanka the General System of Preferences (GSP plus).

The NHRAP report runs into more than 300 pages and several ministers raised issue over what they perceived as controversial provisions. Among them were Patali Champika Ranawaka, Susil Premajayantha and Mahinda Samarasinghe.

One provision that was described as controversial was the introduction of a State of Emergency only after Parliament votes with a two thirds majority. Ministers called for the withdrawal of this provision.

Among the other recommendations were:

Continue reading ‘Several Ministers Raise Issues About Some Provisions in Proposed 300 Page National Human Rights Action Plan.’ »

Untoward Jubilation of Govt Ministers Over EU Announcement on GSP+ Must Be Abruptly Checked


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The European Commission’s proposal this week to the European Union (EU) regarding the restoration of GSP (General System of Preference) Plus to Sri Lanka’s export market did not carry with it, any element of particular surprise. This was a step long predicted.

Checking displays of untoward jubilation

And as a rider, it must be said that the deprivation of the trade benefit to the country under the Rajapaksa Presidency was not due to an overriding zeal on the part of the EU to ensure good governance at the time. It was simply because the Rajapaksas flouted every convention, every rule and every practice in existence relating to the Rule of Law, to trespass beyond all propriety in regard to illegal acts.

In other words, even if the EU had strained at every sinew to justify continuation of the trade benefit under that Presidency, it could not have been successful as the range of violations was just too great. So the GSP Plus was cancelled (then) as unsurprisingly as the EC proposal before the EU (now) is to restore it.

That said, the untoward jubilation of Government ministers in cheering the EC’s announcement needs to be abruptly checked in its tracks. To be quite clear, the proposal does not indicate an off-the-charts endorsement of the Unity Government’s progress in ensuring good governance.

This is underscored by the EC’s own caution that ‘removal of customs duties would be accompanied by rigorous monitoring and would be conditional on continued commitment to sustainable development, human rights and good governance.’

Continue reading ‘Untoward Jubilation of Govt Ministers Over EU Announcement on GSP+ Must Be Abruptly Checked’ »

Wimal Weerawansa “Released” Gpvt Vehicles for Personal use of Close relatives,Friends,Party Activists and “Ravana Balaya”


By

Rasika Jayakody

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and UPFA Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa was arrested last week by the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID), for the abuse of state vehicles.

Several politicians and state officials under the previous government were under investigation for the same charge over the past few months, leading to the Joint Opposition’s accusation that supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa were being harassed over ‘trivial’ charges.

Weerawansa was of the opinion that the investigation against him was part of that same political witch-hunt – something he repeatedly told the media. The allegation that Weerawansa abused vehicles however, was by no means trivial: It was alleged, the former Minister of Housing and Construction misused as many as 40 vehicles while under the Rajapaksa administration.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa “Released” Gpvt Vehicles for Personal use of Close relatives,Friends,Party Activists and “Ravana Balaya”’ »

Unravelling of “Yahapalanaya” Can Lead to Opening of Door for the Re-creation of a Sordid Rajapaksa Past

by

Anura Gunasekera

The MP for Kurunegala, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has announced a wish, intent and threat, a three-in-one package for the New Year. Perhaps it is also a resolution; that is to topple the existing Sirisena/Wickramasinghe coalition and to establish a new government . Its composition and contours have not been defined but it is a certainty, that the new regime he is contemplating will be totally controlled by him, even if he does not have an official position in it.

Mahinda Rajapaksa , by nature, inclination and habit is given to making vainglorious statements. Purple rhetoric has been his political stock-in-trade, whether talking about confronting real and imaginary enemies, improving the economy, ushering in a golden era for the nation, offering a fair deal and equitability in the treatment of the minorities and combating corruption ( the noise in the background is the derisive bray of equine laughter ) or any other question of national importance. However, to give the man the credit that is his due, he presided over the conclusion of 30 years of war, making good on his assurances. As for the rest, it was mostly insincerity and actorish posturing.

Leaving aside the customary Rajapaksa mendacity and his yet unrealized dream, let us focus on the ugliness of current political realities, especially the unraveling of the ” Yahapalanaya ” covenant.

“Yahapalanaya” was a concept, a vision, a promise for a better tomorrow, an assurance extended to a despairing public, a last straw that disillusioned millions collectively clutched at. But the painful truth is that a concept and a vision and an assurance do not become a reality unless there is content, action and delivery of stated objectives. Of the last there were many noble statements but they still occupy the limbo of unachieved goals.

Continue reading ‘Unravelling of “Yahapalanaya” Can Lead to Opening of Door for the Re-creation of a Sordid Rajapaksa Past’ »

Local Govt Polls with 79% seats for First Past the Post and 21% by Proportionate Representation Unfair to Minority and Small Parties.

By P.K.Balachandran

Small political parties and parties of small minorities have got a raw deal in the local government reform process and may be reluctant to support any legislation in the regard, says Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) and a cabinet minister for National Languages and Dialogue.

Ganeshan told Express on Friday that as per the present proposal, 79 percent of seats in local government councils will be filled through the First Past the Post System (FPPS) and 21 percent through the Proportional Representation System (PRS).

This, he said, is unfavorable as compared to the present system in which all seats are filled on the basis of the PRS.

Continue reading ‘Local Govt Polls with 79% seats for First Past the Post and 21% by Proportionate Representation Unfair to Minority and Small Parties.’ »

Wijedasa Rajapakshe Opposes Ravi Karunanayake’s Proposal to Grant Foreigners Residential Visa for US $300,000 Investment

by Zacki Jabbar

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday that he was opposed to the proposal by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to grant foreigners resident visas for a minimum investment of US$ 300,000.

Asked if the required legislation was in place, Rajapakshe replied that Karunanayake’s proposal had not been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers. “I will oppose it if and when submitted to Cabinet. How can we given resident visas for just US$ 300,000, which works out to only about Rs.45 million? I believe objections would be raised by many other Ministers as well.”

Minister Rajapakshe said that such a low visa requirement for foreigners would affect small and medium scale Sri Lankan businessman.

It could, Rajapakshe noted, also lead to undesirable characters including terrorists infiltrating the country.

Continue reading ‘Wijedasa Rajapakshe Opposes Ravi Karunanayake’s Proposal to Grant Foreigners Residential Visa for US $300,000 Investment’ »

Thanks to Litigation By Vasudeva Nanayakkara ,Supreme Court will Decide Fate of China-Funded Hambantota Port Deal


By P.K.Balachandran

A Sri Lankan Supreme Court case filed by Joint Opposition MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, challenging the way in which the government decided to give 80 percent stake in the Hambantata port to a Chinese company for 99 years, will decide the fate of the controversial and politically explosive deal with geopolitical implications.

The case is coming for hearing on Friday, Nanayakkara told Express.

Explaining his objections to the deal, the veteran leftist leader said that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had not followed the correct procedure.

“Either they should have adopted the set procedure for such projects or sought the sanction of parliament if they wanted to have a special arrangement. But the government did neither,” Nanayakkara said.

A successful public interest litigant, he had earlier won a landmark case relating to the privatization of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.

Continue reading ‘Thanks to Litigation By Vasudeva Nanayakkara ,Supreme Court will Decide Fate of China-Funded Hambantota Port Deal’ »

Is the Western “Tie” a Snake in Disguise for National Leaders Like President Maithripala Sirisena?

By

Gamini Akmeemana

President Maithripala Sirisena has a penchant for getting worked up over things most of us take for granted. This time, it was a tie. Having spotted a Divisional Secretary wearing a tie at a Pirith ceremony in Polonnaruwa, he was moved to ask if a tie was necessary for the occasion (‘mama ehuwa Pirith nisa tie eka oneda kiyala’).

He was told that a circular issued by a former president required public servants to be in Western attire at official functions. Not to be outdone, President Sirisena followed up with this rather ambiguous statement. I quote:

“Ape enduma sakas kara ganna one rate parisarika, deshagunika sanskruthika thathwayan ekkayi….sudusu athyawashya welawata ape rajya niladharin tie coat demmata prashnayak nehe….namuth kalagunika deshagunika thibena parisarika pasubima selakillata gena tie coat endath nethath waradak nehe…apita gelapena sudusu de bhawitha karamu.”

Translated, what he said was – we should wear clothes according to the country’s climatic and cultural criteria…. there is nothing wrong with state officials wearing tie and coat when it is absolutely necessary…. but, after taking into consideration the existing climatic and environmental background, there is nothing wrong with either wearing or not wearing tie and coat…. we should use what is suitable for us.”

Continue reading ‘Is the Western “Tie” a Snake in Disguise for National Leaders Like President Maithripala Sirisena?’ »

Hambantota Protest Though the “Height of Hypocrisy”Has Struck a Nerve – The Economist

FOR generations, Priyantha Ananda’s family sold kalu dodol—a sticky sweet made of coconut milk and rice flour—on the old Tangalle road in Hambantota. The government moved his wayside shop in 2008 to build a sprawling commercial port, financed by Chinese loans. He was one of around 40 street vendors forced to relocate to another neighbourhood, far from their homes, where business is slow.

Most distressing of all, the authorities have told them not to erect any permanent buildings. That suggests they might be displaced again, this time for an industrial zone being developed by Chinese investors.

Resentment at such schemes boiled over this week, when thousands demonstrated at the inauguration of the industrial zone. As Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, and Yi Xianliang, China’s ambassador, grinned for the cameras, police beat back stone-throwing protesters with tear gas and water cannons.

Continue reading ‘Hambantota Protest Though the “Height of Hypocrisy”Has Struck a Nerve – The Economist’ »

“Lasantha Wickrematunge was the most Outstanding Journalist of Our Times” -Gamini Weerakoon

By

Gamini Weerakoon

(Full Text of speech delivered by former Editor of “The Island” Gamini Weerakoon at the 8th Death Anniversary memorial event of Lasantha Wickrematunga – Founder Editor of “The Sunday Leader”- who ws assassinated on Jan 8th 2009)

We hav egathered here today to commemorate the life and the journalistic career of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the most outstanding journalist of our times.

You all are well aware of Lasantha’s life, his career and events after his death. B+ut on an occasion like this it is essential to refresh our minds on this remarkable man.

To begin on a personal note, I first met Lasantha in the early 1980’s when he joined the Island editorial whose editor was VijithaYapa and I the deputy editor. Lasantha was not a typical journalist of those times.

He was not a hard drinker nor smoker. He dressed well, was courteous and well spoken. He had only one addiction if I may call it one – journalism.

Gamini Weerakoon

He had a nose for news when he smelt a story he went after the source with indomitable courage, determination and commitment. Like a bloodhound after his quarry and did not give up till he got him.

That was the spirit of Lasantha.

Continue reading ‘“Lasantha Wickrematunge was the most Outstanding Journalist of Our Times” -Gamini Weerakoon’ »

Govt Must Attempt Course Correction in 2017 Or Continue on Self-Destructive Path to Face Defeat in 2020

By

Dharisha Bastians

Every year on 8 January, a quiet gathering takes place at a grave inside the Borella cemetery. Words are spoken softly about a life lived in glorious irreverence, a man remembered for his courage and capacity to inspire. Flower tributes are paid at his tombstone inside the tree-lined cemetery; memory sketches are drawn of an irrepressible spirit, ringing laughter and sheer cheek.

For eight years, since his murder in 2009, this early morning vigil at the grave of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge has become something of a ritual of the faithful. Strangers who never knew the man also turn up, reflecting a wider understanding about how his death had profoundly impacted freedom; how fear and oppression had taken over a nation.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s astrologers in their wisdom picked 8 January 2015 for the election that was supposed to usher in the former President’s unprecedented third term in office. As usual, the date centred on the magic number eight, the number that has determined election days in the last three presidential contests because it was Rajapaksa’s lucky number.

It was a coincidence that Rajapaksa’s critics and dissidents seized upon early into the election cycle. The opposition coalition fielding Maithripala Sirisena, weak, impoverished and muscled out at every turn by the incumbent election machinery, had been gifted an unbelievable trump card. Opposition campaign advertisements featured heart-stirring music and lyrics that spoke of repression and revolution and visuals of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s bruised and bloody body, lying on a hospital stretcher.

The message to anti-Rajapaksa forces mobilising across the country was clear – on the anniversary of Lasantha’s death, cast a vote against the brutal regime that presided over his killing.

Continue reading ‘Govt Must Attempt Course Correction in 2017 Or Continue on Self-Destructive Path to Face Defeat in 2020’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

After the Christmas and New Year festivities, the focus is now on the Pongal harvest festival, popularly known as Thai Pongal, celebrated in the first four days of the month of Thai in the Tamil-Hindu calendar.

Traditionally, it is the festival of farmers who depend on Mother Earth, the sun, rain, other natural elements and cows and buffaloes for a bountiful harvest of their staple food, rice.
Continue reading ‘‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils’ »

Ex-President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa Answers Questions Posed to him on Twitter.

Former President turned Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa took to twitter yesterday to answer questions live posed to him by the twitteratzi.

Following are some of the questions by them and his responses.

Parthiban @itsparthiban: Do you think the National Unity Government will solve the national issue?

Response: Good Morning… So far their acts or behaviour has not given us that impression.

VajiraSumedha @vajirasumeda: What is your response to President Sirisena’s accusation of you calling for elections prematurely as a way of escaping international pressure and national debt?

Response: One simply does not enter a presidential election or any other election to run away.

Is it true what Minister Rajitha Senaratne said about your brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa standing against you when you wanted national unity and peace?

Response: This is completely false.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa Answers Questions Posed to him on Twitter.’ »

Muslim Council of Sri Lanka Complains to US Envoy Atul Keshap About Issues Affecting Community Including Wilpattu

By P.K.Balachandran

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) met the US Ambassador Atul Keshap here on Wednesday and apprised him of the issues facing the Muslim community in the light of a recent resurgence of Sinhala-Buddhist extremism with the tacit support of a section of the government.

Briefing Express on the meeting, MCSL member and media personality Hilmy Ahamed said that the Ambassador was concerned about the fate of the post-war ethnic reconciliation process and said that he, along with some other envoys, was talking to various sections of the government about the need to keep the process on track.

While several incidents involving hate speech were worrying the Muslims, the one which brought all Muslim political leaders together and which led to the MCSL to seek an audience with the American Ambassador, was the Wilpattu Forest Reserve encroachment issue raised by a band of anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalists and “misinformed” environmentalists.

Continue reading ‘Muslim Council of Sri Lanka Complains to US Envoy Atul Keshap About Issues Affecting Community Including Wilpattu’ »

EU Restores GSP Plus Concessions to Sri Lanka but Will Monitor Human Rights Issues

By P.K.Balachandran

The European Commission decided on Wednesday to restore trade concessions under the General System of Preference Plus (GSP-Plus) to Sri Lanka but on the condition that Sri Lanka fulfills its obligations in regard to the maintenance of human rights.

“Removal of customs duties would be accompanied by rigorous monitoring and conditional on continued commitment to sustainable development, human rights and good governance,” the commission said in a statement from Brussels.

The Commission proposed that a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products be removed by the European Union in exchange for the country’s commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance.

Continue reading ‘EU Restores GSP Plus Concessions to Sri Lanka but Will Monitor Human Rights Issues’ »

Ex-President Rajapaksa Attempts to Topple Govt by Exploiting Rising Hostility Against It.


By Pradeep Ramanayake

In comments to the media on December 28, former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse declared that he would “topple” the government in 2017, accusing it of failing in its “management and development of the country.”

Rajapakse added: “The biggest thing that they did was to stop all the development works that I started and they started taking revenge on me.” He said that although the present government had a parliamentary majority, this might not last long because “they are fighting each other.”

The former president is attempting to exploit the rising popular hostility toward the government, which came to power in January 2015 promising to end Rajapakse’s austerity policies and repressive measures.

Over the past two years, the cost of living has continued to rise, social services and subsidies have been cut, youth unemployment has increased and the state repression of protests and strikes has intensified.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Rajapaksa Attempts to Topple Govt by Exploiting Rising Hostility Against It.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants Chinese Funded Projects in Hambantota Implemented Without Displacement of People and Harming Environment

By

Meera Srinivasan

Opposing the Sri Lankan government’s terms for a controversial Chinese-funded port and investment zone in the southern district of Hambantota, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday said the projects displaced people and harmed the environment.

Days after his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “My request is to implement the project according to initial agreement without displacing people & harming the environment.”

Meeting with envoy

In a live question and answer session on Twitter, the former President said the Chinese Ambassador too “had concerns” about its implementation. While local media reports said the envoy had met him to seek a clarification on his opposition to the Chinese-backed projects, there was no official statement on the meeting.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants Chinese Funded Projects in Hambantota Implemented Without Displacement of People and Harming Environment’ »

President Sirisena’s Brother and Leading Rice Miller Dudley Promises Reduction of Rice Price After February 3rd Week.

The Chairman of leading rice mill owner Araliya Rice, Dudley Sirisena, yesterday promised to maintain the bulk rice price at Rs. 90 and reduce prices after the third week of February, offsetting fears of a shortage.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s sibling, speaking on behalf of all mill owners in the country, gave a personal guarantee that he would ensure that prices did not further escalate. “Although there is no rule, we have taken a decision to not allow further price escalation. If any miller sells at a higher price don’t buy, and please get in touch with me,” he said.

Nadu rice will be sold at Rs. 90, Samba at Rs. 95 and Kiri Samba at Rs. 125 until 20 February. Sirisena promised a minimum price revision of Rs. 5 on all types of rice immediately after anticipating that stocks from the Jaffna and Ampara production would reach the market by then.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Brother and Leading Rice Miller Dudley Promises Reduction of Rice Price After February 3rd Week.’ »

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Seems to be Trapped in the Politics of Survival

By

Meera Srinivasan

Two years after Sri Lankans made an emphatic point by voting for change, which President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe personified at that time, the national unity government they brought to power seems trapped in the politics of survival.

In the early hours of January 9, 2015, Sri Lanka witnessed that crucial regime change after 10 years of the Mahinda Rajapaksa brand of authoritarianism, marked by high surveillance, intimidation, media repression, and the withering of democratic institutions. The regime’s corruption and nepotism overshadowed its development efforts, eroding Mr. Rajapaksa’s war victor image that had helped him garner support among the Sinhalese majority.

There was new political space for any alternative that offered change. That is how the current government came to power, promising change and good governance in their insurgent campaign. With a sizeable section of the rural Sinhalese backing them, along with the overwhelming endorsement of northern Tamils, Muslims and upcountry Tamils, and some international support, Mr. Sirisena deposed Mr. Rajapaksa. His Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and its rival, Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), formed Sri Lanka’s first national unity government. It was a major reconfiguration of political forces. People felt hopeful.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Seems to be Trapped in the Politics of Survival’ »

Attorney-General Petitions Court of Appeal for Re-trial of Raviraj Assassination Case by a Judge Without Jury and Under PTA.

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya on Wednesday petitioned the Court of Appeal for a retrial of the Nadarjah Raviraj assassination case by a judge and not a jury, and under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), not ordinary law.

The Colombo High Court had acquitted the five persons accused of killing Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian N.Raviraj on the basis of the view of an all-Sinhalese jury.

The judge had ordered trial by jury under ordinary law, ignoring the fact that one of the charges against the accused was under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which does not allow trial by jury, M.A.Sumanthiran, counsel for Raviraj’s family told Express.

“When there is a charge under a special law like the PTA, it over rides normal law, and the entire judicial process has to be held under the provisions of the PTA,” Sumanthiran said.

The accused were charged under PTA because the victim, Raviraj, was a member of parliament and a leading Tamil politician.

Predictably, the all-Sinhalese jury acquitted all the five accused on the grounds that there was no clinching evidence against them.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-General Petitions Court of Appeal for Re-trial of Raviraj Assassination Case by a Judge Without Jury and Under PTA.’ »

European Commission Recommends Restoration of GSP+ By European Union In Exchange for Lanka Implementing 27 International Conventions

The European Commission proposed that a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products should be removed by the European Union in exchange for the country’s commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance.

It added in a statement issued by the Delegation of the European Union that these one-way trade preferences would consist of the full removal of duties on 66% of tariff lines, covering a wide array of products including textiles and fisheries.

“These preferences would come under a special arrangement of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP+. This arrangement is designed to support developing countries by fostering their economic development through increased trade with Europe and providing incentives to take tangible measures towards sustainable development. The European Parliament and the Council have now up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.” “GSP+ preferences can make a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economic development by increasing exports to the EU market. But this also reflects the way in which we want to support Sri Lanka in implementing human rights, rule of law and good governance reforms.

Continue reading ‘European Commission Recommends Restoration of GSP+ By European Union In Exchange for Lanka Implementing 27 International Conventions’ »

Sri Lanka Regains GSP Plus Due to Govt Protecting Human Rights and Restoring Democracy Says Prime Minister Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says, in a media statment, that Sri Lanka has regained the Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP Plus. He says regaining the GSP Plus was possible due to the government’s commitment to the protection of human rights and the restoration of democracy.

“This is a victory not only for the Yahapalana regime but also for the entire nation,” the PM says, noting that GSP Plus will enable the Sri Lankan apparel and other products to enter the EU market resulting in new job opportunities and enhanced revenue.

The Prime Minister has thanked all those who worked for regaining GSP Plus.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Regains GSP Plus Due to Govt Protecting Human Rights and Restoring Democracy Says Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »

Wimal Weerawansa Arrested and Remanded For Alleged Misuse of Govt Vehicles While Supporters Chant”Hail to the Leader who Saved the Nation”.

By

Dharisha Bastians

The well-frequented Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) in Fort was the scene of tension and demonstrations yesterday, as National Freedom Front Leader, and former Minister Wimal Weerawansa was arrested by the special police unit on charges of misusing Government vehicles and causing losses to the tune of Rs. 41 million to the state by his actions.

The former Minister of Engineering Services and Housing in ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Cabinet, was remanded until 24 January by Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne after police produced him in court soon after his arrest.

“The Prime Minister has ordered my arrest,” Weerawansa said as he walked into the FCID building last morning, with a small crowd of supporters. Expecting his arrest, several Buddhist monks, led by controversial Elle Gunawansa Thero chanted pirith and tied a pirith noola on Weerawansa’s wrist before he entered the premises for interrogation.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa Arrested and Remanded For Alleged Misuse of Govt Vehicles While Supporters Chant”Hail to the Leader who Saved the Nation”.’ »

Assassinated MP Nadarajah Raviraj’s Wife Sasikala Files Appeal Seeking Colombo High Court Acquittal Order to be Set Aside by Court of Appeal

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The wife of slain MP Nadarajah Raviraj filed a case in the Court of Appeal against the ruling of the Colombo High Court in her husband’s murder case.

Appellant Sasikala Raviraj seeks the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court’s acquittal of the accused.

She filed her appeal on the questions of law lamenting that the High Court judge has directed that the trial be by a special jury including in respect of charges relating to the PTA and the Judge’s charge to the jury.

Continue reading ‘Assassinated MP Nadarajah Raviraj’s Wife Sasikala Files Appeal Seeking Colombo High Court Acquittal Order to be Set Aside by Court of Appeal’ »

Murdered TNA Parliamentarian Raviraj’s Family Still Waiting for Justice After Acquittal of Persons Charged

By

Meera Srinivasan

It was the Christmas weekend last year. Praviinaa Raviraj woke up and looked at the newspapers. ‘All accused released’, the front-page headlines screamed.

acing it head-on: Sasikala Raviraj (right), wife of murdered TNA legislator Nadaraja Raviraj and her daughter Praviinaa. | Photo Credit: Picasa-Via The Hindu

Beneath was a photograph of her father Nadarajah Raviraj — a Tamil legislator killed in 2006 — alongside that of three naval intelligence officers, celebrating with their families, following their acquittal in the case. “It just didn’t feel right,” the 25-year old said.

The day before, a Sri Lankan court had cleared five men, including the three Navy officers, who were accused of assassinating Nadaraja Raviraj and his bodyguard on a busy thoroughfare in Colombo in November 2006. An all-Sinhalese jury said eyewitness testimony identifying the suspects was “insufficient”.

Continue reading ‘Murdered TNA Parliamentarian Raviraj’s Family Still Waiting for Justice After Acquittal of Persons Charged’ »

Premier Ranil Presents to Cabinet Draft Counter Terrorism Law With “Progressive Provisions” to Replace Draconian PTA.

By Dharisha Bastians

​* PM presents revised CTA policy to Cabinet.

* Revisions make confessions to police inadmissible as evidence.

* Suspects to be produced before magistrate within 48 hours.

*Persons arrested under CTA to get same access to legal counsel guaranteed under general law.

* Detainees can only be held four months in custody without trial.

* No changes to broad scope of terrorism-related offences.

The Government has brought major revisions to the framework of a proposed counterterrorism law that will replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), to bring the draft in line with international best practice and Sri Lanka’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Daily FT learns.

A revised draft was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday. The initial draft of the proposed Counter-Terrorism Act (CTA) framework was presented to Cabinet in September last year and a subsequent “leak” of the document created some public debate about the Government’s proposed counterterrorism framework to replace the PTA.

The legal framework for counterterrorism legislation in Sri Lanka now contains many “progressive provisions”, highly-placed Government sources told Daily FT. The Prime Minister had provided detailed explanations to Ministers about the CTA framework and the Cabinet had agreed to send the proposed counterterrorism framework to the Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security for observations, authoritative sources told Daily FT.

Continue reading ‘Premier Ranil Presents to Cabinet Draft Counter Terrorism Law With “Progressive Provisions” to Replace Draconian PTA.’ »

Chandrika Kumaratunga Says Consultation Task Force Was Not Mandated to Provide Recommendations or Solutions

By Chathuri Dissanayake

The political interests of opposing parties prevented the country from adopting a new Constitution, former president Chandrika Kumaratunga said, claiming that previous attempts were botched by the United National Party for political gain.

“What Ranil Wickremesinghe rejected then is what he is trying to bring about now. He opposed the constitutional changes then as he was afraid that our party would come to power again,” claimed Kumaratunga, who is the Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR).

Drawing on her experience in attempting to introduce constitutional reforms during her time as President, she said it was political interests that caused the then Opposition of the United National Party led by Ranil Wickremesinghe to reject the proposed changes.

“Finally I took the lead in bringing them to power, making him Prime Minister. I made another person the President. They, including the leadership, now say that they should have supported the move then.”

Continue reading ‘Chandrika Kumaratunga Says Consultation Task Force Was Not Mandated to Provide Recommendations or Solutions’ »

SLFP will Field Maithripala Sirisena as Presidential Candidate in 2020 Declares S.B. Dissanayake

Despite President Maithripala Sirisena’s promise to never run for office again Minister S.B. Dissanayake yesterday said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would field Sirisena as the candidate for the Presidential Election in 2020.

Speaking to the media, Dissanayake claimed that President Sirisena is yet to give his opinion about being the SLFP candidate for the next election.

Dissanayake said majority of the SLFPers were requesting President Sirisena to contest again since he was the ideal candidate to run the country.

Continue reading ‘SLFP will Field Maithripala Sirisena as Presidential Candidate in 2020 Declares S.B. Dissanayake’ »

4 Rupee Commission Goven to Sweep Ticket Agents Wont be Increased Says Lotterie Board Chairperson Shermila Perera

by Priyadhashana Liyanage

Chairperson of the National Lotteries Board Shermila Perera yesterday said that lottery agents would not be paid anything more than the current four-rupee commission. She said she would not give in to that unreasonable demand.

She said that neither President Maithripala Sirisena nor Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe nor Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had asked her to pay them a higher commission.

Continue reading ‘4 Rupee Commission Goven to Sweep Ticket Agents Wont be Increased Says Lotterie Board Chairperson Shermila Perera’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa says Hambantota Issue Cannot be Resolved by Baton Charging,Tear Gassing, Assaulting with Thugs or Remanding Protesters


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the Hambantota dispute is “not an issue that can be resolved by baton-charging or tear gassing protesters or having them assaulted by thugs and remanded.”

“There are real issues relating to the financial benefits that will accrue to the country from this deal, and issues of control and sovereignty over the free port and possible environmental issues that need to be addressed,” the former President said in a statement issued yesterday.

Full text of the statement:

Since the future of the Hambantota port is now under discussion, I wish to explain to the public, my position on this matter. The loans taken for the construction of this harbour were 450 million USD for the first phase, 70 million USD for the bunkering facility and 802 million USD for the second phase bringing the total to around 1,322 million USD. When complete the harbour would have four terminals and 12 berths. This was meant to be a free port covering an area of 2,000 hectares where goods could be manufactured or value added and shipped overseas. All the necessary feasibility studies were done before these loans were taken and the annual interest plus capital repayments would amount to about 111 million USD. My government had planned to raise that money through the Ports Authority itself.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa says Hambantota Issue Cannot be Resolved by Baton Charging,Tear Gassing, Assaulting with Thugs or Remanding Protesters’ »

Talking About Foreign Judges is a Waste of Time Because President Sirisena Wont Let That Happen

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) released their final report last week. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a number of INGOs and social justice warriors loved it, who would have thought?, while the government tied itself into knots trying to respond to the report.
Although the report comprises a series of recommendations that would be political suicide for the government, the biggest bombshell dropped by the commission, so far, is their recommendation to establish a ‘Special Court and Office of the Special Counsel’ without delay and the need for ‘active international participation of Judges to the Office of the Special Counsel.’
Damage control, done badly

Responding to the report Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne dismissed the CTFRM recommendation.

“People can say whatever they want, but the government has been clear there will be no foreign Judges. Yes, we are open to having experts to assist us in technical matters, but there is no room for foreign Judges,” he said. “Even the United Nations agreed that there is no need for foreign Judges. So, people have the right to say what they want but we are not bound to implement everything,” he said.

And of course the United Nations responded to Senaratne by Tweeting that they loved the report and found the recommendations, especially the one about including foreign Judges, excellent.

Continue reading ‘Talking About Foreign Judges is a Waste of Time Because President Sirisena Wont Let That Happen’ »

“Banker” Selecting Ravi Karunanayake as Asia-Pacific Regions Best Finance Minister Boosts Morale of Maithri-Ranil Govt

By

P.K.Balachandran

An international award won by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake could not have come at a more appropriate time. Even as the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is being badgered from all sides for alleged non-performance, London-based magazine The Banker has declared Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake as the Best Finance Minister in the Asia-Pacific region for the year 2016.

The 90-year-old magazine, which annually evaluates over 5,000 banks, honoured Karunanayake for his efforts to steer Sri Lanka into a new era of economic reform and a change of mindset.

Continue reading ‘“Banker” Selecting Ravi Karunanayake as Asia-Pacific Regions Best Finance Minister Boosts Morale of Maithri-Ranil Govt’ »

Any Future Involvement By Mahinda Rajapaksa In Politics Would Be Disastrous For The Country.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced his New Year resolution a little too prematurely, days before 2017 dawned when he pledged to bring down the government.

Last week, his self-anointed cronies put up a good show in Hambantota, though he himself kept way from the scene so that he would not offend the Chinese.

Protests at the launching of the Hambantota export zone, where villagers clashed with police highlighted yet again one of the often talked about handicaps in economic development in this country — people themselves. It is tempting to dismiss protesters as buffoons, because they also have a vote to cast when it comes to elections and the right to protest and not getting shot at.

That is the beauty of democracy. That is exactly why Mr Rajapaksa’s former regime was wrong when the army turned its guns on protesters in Rathupaswala. It is also the beauty of democracy that protesters are lionized, no matter the logic of the protest whether it is Rathupaswala or Hambantota.

Continue reading ‘Any Future Involvement By Mahinda Rajapaksa In Politics Would Be Disastrous For The Country.’ »

Indian Govt Removing Tamil Festival “Thai Pongal” from Compulsory Holidays List Angers Tamil Nadu Political Parties

A flash news across Tamil television channels on Monday evening that the Central government has shifted Pongal holiday from ‘compulsory holidays list’ to ‘restricted holidays list’ has made leaders of political parties fume in anger and, in one voice, they demanded compulsory holiday for Pongal festival.

AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, DMK working president MK Stalin, TNCC president S Thirunavukkarasar, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, CPM leader TK Rangarajan, Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani and MMK leader MH Jawahirullah were among those who raised their voice on this issue. While Stalin announced an agitation on January 11, Veeramani announced agitation on January 12.

Continue reading ‘Indian Govt Removing Tamil Festival “Thai Pongal” from Compulsory Holidays List Angers Tamil Nadu Political Parties’ »

“Super Ministry”Bill Presented By Prime Mniister Differently as Sustainable Development Bill Charges Joint Opposition

By Ajith Alahakoon and Kushan Subasinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the ‘Super Ministry’ draft bill yesterday under a different title as Sri Lanka Sustainable Development bill, the Joint Opposition said.

As soon as the bill was presented Leader of the House, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said it would be taken up for debate on a future date and adjourned sittings.

Thereafter, several MPs of the Joint Opposition got up, protesting against the bill and the way the government had presented it. The Leader of the House however said: “Now the bill has been presented and the House has been adjourned and there is no point in shouting.”

A JO MP, contacted for comment, said what had been presented was the Super Ministry bill and the JO would go all out to defeat it.

Continue reading ‘“Super Ministry”Bill Presented By Prime Mniister Differently as Sustainable Development Bill Charges Joint Opposition’ »

“Rajapaksa Brothers Instigated Violence in Hambantota;Droves of Men in Yellow Robes Who Were Not Monks”-Sujeewa Senasinghe

By Harischandra Gunaratna

State Minister of International Trade yesterday accused Rajapaksa brothers of instigating their supporters in Hambantota to disrupt a ceremony to mark the launch of an industrial park on Saturday by disseminating false information.

The protest was organised by the Joint Opposition.

Addressing the media at the Government Information Department, Sujeewa Senasinghe said: “If their mobile phone details are scrutinised we will know where the Rajapaksas were calling their supporters from.”

Continue reading ‘“Rajapaksa Brothers Instigated Violence in Hambantota;Droves of Men in Yellow Robes Who Were Not Monks”-Sujeewa Senasinghe’ »

Manouri Muttetuwegama Chaired Reconciliation Task Force Report Must be read by All Concerned About this Country and Its Long Suffering People

By

Manel Fonseka

One year ago the week from 8 to 14 January was declared National Integration and Reconciliation week “for the first time in history by President Maitripala Sirisena”.

The week was to be “celebrated every year … supported by the State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation AHM Fowzie and the Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.”

The first activity of NIR week was to be the reading of the declaration of reconciliation, prepared by the Ministry, in every state institution, ranging from schools to Parliament.”

Continue reading ‘Manouri Muttetuwegama Chaired Reconciliation Task Force Report Must be read by All Concerned About this Country and Its Long Suffering People’ »

Rice Price Crisis Due to “Mill Owner Mafia”Buying Paddy At Rs 23 Per Kilo and Selling at Rs 95 Per Kg as “Super Rice” After Processing

By Methmalie Dissanayake

In addition to being gripped by unfavourable weather conditions, Sri Lanka is now facing a rice shortage, at least according to the authorities. The Department of Agriculture said only 250, 000 hectares were cultivated during the last Maha Season, when 800, 000 hectares are cultivated annually.

Considering this situation, the government has decided to import 10,000 metric tons of rice from South Asian countries, mainly India, in mid-January. However, the decision was severely criticized by several parties.

The National Organizer of All Ceylon Peasants Union (ACPU) Namal Karunaratne says there is no rice shortage in the country at the moment. Polonnaruwa-based Araliya Rice Mill owner, All Island Mill Owners’ Association (AIMOA) president Dudley Sirisena also stated during a press conference that remaining paddy stocks will be sufficient until April.

However, the government denies these claims saying that there is a ‘mafia’ operating behind the triggered rice crisis. Mill owners should take the responsibility for the situation, authorities continue to claim.

Continue reading ‘Rice Price Crisis Due to “Mill Owner Mafia”Buying Paddy At Rs 23 Per Kilo and Selling at Rs 95 Per Kg as “Super Rice” After Processing’ »

TNA To Continue Supporting Current Constitution Making Process Despite Doubts Of a Favourable Final Outcome

By P K Balachandran

The Tamil National alliance (TNA), which is the official Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament and the ruling party in the Northern Provincial Council, will continue to support the ongoing process to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka despite internal dissensions.

The TNA, which met twice last week, decided to accept leader R.Sampanthan’s advice that despite doubts about a getting a favorable outcome from the constitution-making process, the process should be supported because there is no alternative to it.

The TNA leader thinks that the present Sirisena-Wickremesinghe dispensation is the only one which can deliver goods for the Tamils because the Sinhala opposition parties led by a resurgent and former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, are resolutely and uncompromisingly averse to any more devolution of power than what was given under the 13th Constitutional Amendment enacted in 1987.

Continue reading ‘TNA To Continue Supporting Current Constitution Making Process Despite Doubts Of a Favourable Final Outcome’ »

Actress Meryl Streep Flays Donald Trump at 74th Golden Globes Awards Event: Full Text of Speech.

(Text of Actress Meryl Streep’s Speech at the 74th Golden Globes Awards Event Held on January 8th 2017. Ms. Streep received the Cecil B De Mille Award at the function)

Meryl Streep ~ pic courtesy of: @latimes

Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

President Elect Donald J Trunp

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it:

Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

Continue reading ‘Actress Meryl Streep Flays Donald Trump at 74th Golden Globes Awards Event: Full Text of Speech.’ »

Top Winners at the 74th Golden Globes Awards Event Held on January 8th 2017

Here are the movies and TV shows that received the top awards in 2017 at the 74th Golden Globes

Movies

Best picture, drama: “Moonlight”
Best picture, comedy or musical: “La La Land”
Actress, drama: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Actor, drama: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Actress, comedy or musical: Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Actor, comedy or musical: Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Supporting actress: Viola Davis, “Fences”
Supporting actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Nocturnal Animals”
Director: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”


Continue reading ‘Top Winners at the 74th Golden Globes Awards Event Held on January 8th 2017’ »

Reconciliation Task Force Report Recommends In Effect Internationally Supervised Legal Lynching of Armed Forces And Its Wartime Political Leadership

BY
DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

As it enters Year 3, the Yahapalana government’s crisis-management option seems to be a return to the worst follies of Mrs. Bandaranaike and JR Jayewardene. It is planning to restore the Criminal Justice Commission, frame the Rajapaksas (including Gotabhaya) and remove their civic rights. This is combination of a Felixian instrument, the CJC, and a JR move, the removal of civic rights.

One recalls that the two most honorable men in the 1970 parliament, Dr. SA Wickremasingha and Sarath Muttetuwegama, both Communists, crossed the floor of the House in 1972 in protest against the CJC because it was outside the existing courts system and was retroactive in character. It was the use of the CJC as a tool of victimization (one of the victims was Prof Razeen Sally’s father) that gave a vengeful edge to the UNP Opposition’s drive in 1977.

Similarly, the removal of Mrs. Bandaranaike’s civic rights in 1980 left President Jayewardene scrambling for a democratic opposition figure with the national legitimacy to stabilize the situation by the mid-1980s. On the advice of the US ambassador Prof Howard Wriggins, he restored Mrs. B’s civic rights in early 1986 but it was too late to restore stability, as social discontent had overflowed the bounds of the system and of peaceful protest.

The same errors are being contemplated by a far more ramshackle regime this time around, and will result in far more dramatic blowback.

Continue reading ‘Reconciliation Task Force Report Recommends In Effect Internationally Supervised Legal Lynching of Armed Forces And Its Wartime Political Leadership’ »

President Sirisena Admits that Some MP’s in his Govt have Doubts about Getting Elected Again in 3 Years

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday told his detractors and Doubting Thomases that the National Unity government will stay to fulfill the mandate it received two years ago on this day.

He further said that he is not worried about statements or actions of those who are wanting to topple the government this year.

Speaking at a colorful function held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) to mark the second anniversary of his Presidency, Sirisena said that people voted him to power to restore democracy, media freedom, bring about ethnic reconciliation, draft a new constitution, lift the economy from the depths of indebtedness, and improve relations with the international community by following a non-aligned foreign policy.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Admits that Some MP’s in his Govt have Doubts about Getting Elected Again in 3 Years’ »

The House on Rent that Lester James and Sumitra Peries Lived in for 49 Years Sold to a Property Developer Without The Elderly Couple Being Informed

By
Chris Kamalendran

The house that was home to the Peries’ for 47 years. Pix by Indika Handuwala

Worried: Sumitra Peries

Nonagenarian and internationally acclaimed film director Lester James Peries’ and his wife Sumitra Peries’ days at the residence they have occupied for more than 47 years may be numbered after its owner sold it to a property developer without their knowledge.

The couple had been living in the house on Lester James Peries Mawatha (formerly Dickman’s Road) since 1969 as tenants.
Continue reading ‘The House on Rent that Lester James and Sumitra Peries Lived in for 49 Years Sold to a Property Developer Without The Elderly Couple Being Informed’ »

At Least 10 Opposition MP’s to be Arrested for Instigating Violence and Leading Attack on Policemen in Hambantota During Protest Banned by Courts

by Norman Palihawadane

At least ten MPs of the Joint Opposition (JO) would be taken into custody during the next couple of days for staging protests in Hambantota in violation of a court order banning demonstrations, a senior police officer said yesterday.

Police said those MPs had led protests and participated in a march violating the court order.

The MPs had been identified by a special team of policemen who scrutinised the video footage of the protest march.

Some of the MPs had been identified for instigating violence and leading the protestors to attack policemen on duty, the officer said.

Continue reading ‘At Least 10 Opposition MP’s to be Arrested for Instigating Violence and Leading Attack on Policemen in Hambantota During Protest Banned by Courts’ »

Ranil’s Security Personnel Seize Hiru TV’s Drone Aerially Filming Police Crackdown in Hambantota and Remove Memory Chip

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Hiru TV drone, which recorded and transmitted aerial pictures of the Hambantota protest and police crackdown on Saturday, had been launched about two kilometres away from the place where Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other dignitaries were present, News Director of Asia Broadcasting Corporation Sudeva Hettiarachchi said yesterday.

Hettiarachchi argued that there had been no need for the Prime Minister’s Security Division (PMSD) to grab the drone which posed no threat to anyone.

The drone was given back to Hiru TV on Saturday evening by the prime minister’s security officers minus the memory chip.

Continue reading ‘Ranil’s Security Personnel Seize Hiru TV’s Drone Aerially Filming Police Crackdown in Hambantota and Remove Memory Chip’ »

Confining Country’s Post -war”Crisis of Justice” to Ethnic Dimension Alone is Unforgivably Blinkered.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

From the reports of the Disappearances Commission in the 1990’s to the findings of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (2011) to the most recent report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation (2017), it has been a long and undeniably hopeless ride for Sri Lanka’s victims.

Throughout that process, which has also been littered by many other commission reports of greater or lesser importance, the overriding message was simple; heed the call of Sri Lanka’s people from all four corners of the country asking for justice and for recognition of the atrocities that they have suffered as human beings.

Instruments for political purposes

But the single greatest national tragedy is that without exception, all these efforts (regardless of the genuineness or otherwise of the individuals contributing therein) have been cynically premised from the very start itself to serve as instruments for political purposes, to be discarded when these purposes have been served.

Continue reading ‘Confining Country’s Post -war”Crisis of Justice” to Ethnic Dimension Alone is Unforgivably Blinkered.’ »

Two Year Economic Performance of Govt With Reckless Budgets of 2015 and 2016 Has Been Disappointing.

By

Nimal Sanderatne

Much was expected of the Unity Government’s two year regime but too little achieved. There have been improvements in governance but economic policies have been uncertain, confusing and ineffective.

Economic Performance

The economic performance in the last two years has been disappointing. Compared with an annual average economic growth of 6.4 percent in 2010-15, the last two years annual average economic growth is likely to be about 4.5 percent. Economic growth slipped to 4.7 percent in 2015 and is expected to be around 4.5 percent in 2016. The economy grew by only 4 percent in the first nine months of last year.

Slow growth

This slower growth is not in itself the problem as the earlier higher growth was achieved largely through foreign funded large infrastructure development that created a huge foreign debt problem. The fall in growth in the last two years is partly the repercussions of the bad economic management of the previous regime, especially its amassing of a large public and foreign debt and high foreign debt servicing costs.

Failure

What is disappointing however is that the unity government aggravated the economic difficulties and brought the economy to the brink of a foreign exchange crisis by early 2016. The fiscal policies in 2015 and inappropriate monetary and tariff policies resulted in a sharp increase in imports and a massive trade deficit that contributed to a serious balance of payments problem.

The reckless budgets of 2015 and 2016 increased aggregate demand through its fiscal imprudence and inappropriate monetary policies and brought the country’s external finances to a critical position. Policy corrections in early 2016 have corrected this situation to ensure more macroeconomic stability.

Continue reading ‘Two Year Economic Performance of Govt With Reckless Budgets of 2015 and 2016 Has Been Disappointing.’ »

23 Injured,52 Arested as Police Crack Down On Demonstrators Violating Court Order to Protest Against Hambantota Port Deal With China

BY Methmalie Dissanayake, Kavindya Chris Thomas and Upatissa Perera

Police unleashed the water cannon treatment to break up a mob, which included the newly-formed Buddhist Monks Organization to Protect the Magampura-Hambantota Harbour, Parliamentarians Udaya Gammanpila, Dullas Alahapperuma and former Uva Chief Minister Shashindra Rajapaksa, that launched a protest demonstration at the inauguration ceremony of the Sri Lanka-China Logistics and Industrial Zone in Mirijjawila, Hambantota yesterday morning.

The protesters stormed the venue of the ceremony denouncing government’s plans to establish the new development project.

The protesters pressed on with their demonstration in contempt of a restraining order from the Hambantota Magistrate’s Court that specifically prohibited 27 parties from engaging in any protest or demonstration in or near the premises of the Hambantota Port.

Continue reading ‘23 Injured,52 Arested as Police Crack Down On Demonstrators Violating Court Order to Protest Against Hambantota Port Deal With China’ »

SLFP in Govt Wants to Retain Executive Presidency and Nominate Sirisena as Candidate in 2020 Presidential Poll.

By the “Sunday Times” Political Editor

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) wants to retain the executive presidency and has decided that Maithripala Sirisena should be the party’s candidate at the 2020 presidential election. The unanimous decision came at a meeting of SLFP ministers just after last Tuesday’s weekly ministerial session.

It was summoned by President Sirisena to brief them on his plans for 2017. He completes his second year in office today and will begin his third from tomorrow.

The main focus at the meeting, held at the Presidential Secretariat, was on the proposed new Constitution. A string of policy decisions for the SLFP were made and are now awaiting formal endorsement by the party’s Central Committee.

It was decided that devolution of power should be only through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and there will be no merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces — a demand by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Continue reading ‘SLFP in Govt Wants to Retain Executive Presidency and Nominate Sirisena as Candidate in 2020 Presidential Poll.’ »

Italian Marangoni Company “Distances” itself from Envisaged Tyre Manufacturing Plant at Wagawatte, Horana for Which Ranil Laid Foundation Stone

By Namini Wijedasa

An Italian company that was reported to be investing in a US$ 75 million (Rs 11 billion) tyre production plant in Sri Lanka under the Board of Investment (BOI) has distanced itself from the project. Marangoni is only involved indirectly in the possible US$75 million investment in Sri Lanka, the company says in a statement on its official website.

What has been discussed is only a “hypothetical transfer of technology to a Sri Lanka-based investor” as part of a possible joint venture with a Sri Lanka-based investor. The investor is Ceylon Steel Corporation, owned by controversial UAE-based Sri Lankan businessman Nandana Lokuvithana.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday laid the foundation stone to build what was painted as “Sri Lanka’s largest integrated tyre manufacturing plant” at Wagawatte in Horana.

Continue reading ‘Italian Marangoni Company “Distances” itself from Envisaged Tyre Manufacturing Plant at Wagawatte, Horana for Which Ranil Laid Foundation Stone’ »

Blunder in Submitting Application Results in Guinness Book of Records Not Recognizing World’s Tallest Christmas Tree at Galle Face.

The “world’s tallest Christmas tree” that Sri Lanka built has still not been evaluated by Guinness World Records. The reason: The application was lodged in the wrong category.

It was 10.07am on August 18, 2016, when Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga cut out a square of earth on Galle Face Green and laid the foundation stone for what he hoped would be the world’s tallest Christmas tree. Implementation would be through the Arjuna Ranatunga Social Welfare Society. The goal was to break Mexico’s record of a tree 295 feet in height.

Continue reading ‘Blunder in Submitting Application Results in Guinness Book of Records Not Recognizing World’s Tallest Christmas Tree at Galle Face.’ »

2017 Begins Inauspiciously for Sisrisena- Wickremesinghe Government

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The government got off to a very bad start in 2017. Probably for the first time in living memory, we began the year with a strike – that of sweep ticket sellers who claimed that their commission has not been increased despite the increase in the price of a sweep ticket. Their cry was that the increase in the price will reduce ticket sales and that if the prices were being increased, their commissions also had to increase proportionately in order to compensate for the diminished income due to the reduction in sales.

The income coming in from sweep ticket sales is important for the government. P.G. Wilson, who was for many years the private secretary to former President D.B.Wijetunga has told this writer how in the late 1980s at the height of the JVP insurrection, the day to day cash requirements of the various government departments was met partly out of the daily collection of the development lottery.

This is an important cash cow for the government and it stands to reason that the government would want to increase their cash flow by increasing the price of sweep tickets. The sweep ticket seller’s strike ended with President Sirisena’s intervention. In any event that was a bad start to the year. Following upon this was the fiasco involving Minister Faizer Mustapha’s refusal to accept the local government delimitation report from the chairman of the committee Asoka Peiris on the grounds that two members of the five member committee had not signed the report. Of the two members who had refused to sign it, the SLFP representative had signed the report but the UNP representative had not yet signed at the time of going to press.

The much touted Volkswagen factory in Kuliyapitiya blew up in the government’s faces.

Continue reading ‘2017 Begins Inauspiciously for Sisrisena- Wickremesinghe Government’ »

2016 Darkened by Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Emulating the Worst Errors of Rajapaksa Regime

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“There are times – they mark the danger point for a political system – when politicians can no longer communicate, when they stop understanding the people they are supposed to be representing.”

Ian Kershew (Hitler)

The adage is common to many cultures, the condition it refers to a universal one. Madness is often the prelude to end times, private and public, individual, institutional and systemic. But before madness comes blindness and deafness, wilful and self-imposed; suicidal absence of sanity is foreshadowed by a perplexing refusal to see, hear or acknowledge the obvious.

It’s a rare government which lives up to its initial promise. This is particularly so when an electoral change of leadership is – or is perceived as – politically transformative. On January 8, 2015, Lankans voted not only to elect a new president but also to create a different way of governing. The mandate Maithripala Sirisena received two years ago was not a personal one; he was the symbol of the political culture he promised to build, one which was more accountable to the people, less self-indulgent, more democratic.

Two years later, that promise remains largely unfulfilled.

In the first year of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, positives outweighed negatives. In the second year, the obverse happened. In 2015, it was still possible to hope. In 2016, hope began to morph into delusion. The passing of the long-awaited Right to Information Bill and the replacement of Arjuna Mahendran with Indrajith Coomaraswamy as the Governor of the Central Bank were the two sole major-positives in a year lacerated by avoidable errors and unnecessary misdeeds.

Continue reading ‘2016 Darkened by Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Emulating the Worst Errors of Rajapaksa Regime’ »

Memorial Service to Mark Murdered Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Eighth death Anniversary on January 8th 2017

The eighth death anniversary of The Sunday Leader Founder Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge, which falls on Jan 8th 2017 , will be marked with a service at his graveside.

Family, friends, former colleagues and others, including those from political and diplomatic circles, will gather at Borella Kanatte at 9 a.m. on Sunday 8th to mark the anniversary and remember Wickrematunge.

Assassinated on 8 January 2009, Wickrematunge was one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists and an outspoken critic of the Rajapaksa Government. He was attacked as he drove to work and later died of his injuries. The brazen attack was carried out by gunmen on motorcycles in the middle of morning rush-hour traffic.

The investigation into Wickrematunge’s murder has yielded no tangible results in the last eight years and his killers still roam free.

US Company With Alleged CIA Links to Help Implement Democratic Governance and Accountability Project in Sri Lanka

By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Recent media reports revealing that a $13.7 million USAID programme for ‘democracy and accountability’ is to be implemented by a private US company alleged to have links to the CIA, raise several questions regarding the nature of the government’s relationship with the US.

A leading newspaper cited on its January 2, 2017 edition that the US Embassy in Colombo confirming that the company Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) ‘would work closely with the Parliament, Independent Commissions and related ministries’ to carry out the project.
Another leading TV channel bulletins of 2, 3 and 4 Jan. 2017 also exposed the company’s alleged links with the CIA.

An alarming aspect of the expose is that so few parliamentarians are even aware of the project’s existence, leave alone details of the bilateral agreement signed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya last September in Washington, with a government delegation. The ‘Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project’ (SDGAP) as it is described, is not subject to Sri Lankan law but to the laws and regulations of the US, under the terms of the agreement.

It does not come under the purview of Sri Lanka’s Auditor General – the Auditor General’s Department itself is apparently under scrutiny under another USAID (US Agency for International Development) project.

It would be relevant to ask whether there has not been a serious dereliction of responsibility by political leaders, in allowing politically sensitive internal reforms to be ‘outsourced’ in this manner to foreign agencies. The fact that the contractor has alleged links with funding the country’s intelligence agency makes matters worse.

Continue reading ‘US Company With Alleged CIA Links to Help Implement Democratic Governance and Accountability Project in Sri Lanka’ »

Saving Leopards Is Hard in Sri Lanka, Especially with All the Landmines

BY SMRITI DANIEL

Wilpattu, Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national park, was once a warzone. The fighting between the Sri Lankan state and the militant separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that began in the 1980s had spilled over into these wild lands.

Kittle and Watson have helped nearby villagers learn to live with leopards. Image: Namal Kamalgoda

Wildlife researchers Anjali Watson and Andrew Kittle remember hearing stories from soldiers stationed in these forests. The men recalled nights when they would be jolted awake by the sound of landmines exploding in the pitch darkness, somewhere beyond the border of their camps. Nervously, they wondered whether guerillas had triggered the bombs, and if their enemies would soon close in on them.

But the dawn would bring evidence of a different kind of victim. The remains of peacocks were found lying in heaps of shredded feathers; elephants lay with limbs blown off. “A few leopards and bears were also shot because men who encountered them were afraid,” Watson told me, explaining that the thick, thorny forests often swallowed any evidence.

The park itself was off limits to the researchers during the conflict. But even after a ceasefire signed in 2002, it remained unsafe—a mine claimed the lives of a jeep full of wildlife enthusiasts in 2006 and a year later, Wilpattu’s park warden Wasantha Pushpananda was ambushed and killed by the LTTE while on an inspection tour with his team.

Continue reading ‘Saving Leopards Is Hard in Sri Lanka, Especially with All the Landmines’ »

Vehicle Assembly Plant in Kuliyapitiya Re-named as “Western Mobile”Expected to Turn out 1500 Diesel Cars in First 3 Years

By P K Balachandran

The emission scandal in which German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) was embroiled since September 2015, put paid to its project to set up an assembling facility in Sri Lanka, which was to come up this month.

Explaining the circumstances in which the VW plant project was called off, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said that within two weeks after VW and Sri Lankan car dealer, Senok Automobiles, signed an agreement for the plant in mid-August 2015, VW admitted to the US Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that it had cheated on emissions tests on some of its diesel models sold in the US.

On 18 September 2015, the US EPA went public with VW’s admission of guilt.

Thereafter, VW’s stock crashed, and the senior management was fired. Later, some 30,000 jobs were cut. The company has thus far lost US$ 18 billion because of the scandal.

Continue reading ‘Vehicle Assembly Plant in Kuliyapitiya Re-named as “Western Mobile”Expected to Turn out 1500 Diesel Cars in First 3 Years’ »

“No one can make us do things for the sake of reconciliation and impartiality”says Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

By
Lahiru Pothmulla

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said today said he had no confidence in the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) appointed by the Prime Minister.

He said the CTF, which recommended the inclusion of at least one international judge on every bench set up to hear allegations of war crimes and the violation of human rights that had taken place during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.

The minister said some of the members of the CTF Committee were representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO).

Continue reading ‘“No one can make us do things for the sake of reconciliation and impartiality”says Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’ »

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva Issues Personal Clarification About What went wrong With the Volkswagon Vehicle Plant Agreement

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva issued a personal clarification regarding the Volkswagen deal, in which he detailed why plans with that car manufacturer did not go ahead.

In a evidence based, fact-filled message posted on Facebook the Deputy Minister said,

‘1. Given I was responsible for the initiation of this project I would like to place the following facts before the public.

2. In my new job as the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs I met with the then Ambassador of Germany HE Dr Jurgen Morhard in Early January 2015. At this meeting the Ambassador indicated that Volkswagen had attempted to set up a plant in Sri Lanka since 2008 but failed due to ‘various’ reasons.

3. I indicated to him that we would be delighted to have VW set up a plant in Sri Lanka and we initiated discussions between the Government and the company.’

Of the signing Deputy Minister de Silva said,

Continue reading ‘Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva Issues Personal Clarification About What went wrong With the Volkswagon Vehicle Plant Agreement’ »

Spokesperson Hohmann Confirms Volkswagen Has Not Licensed Any Lankan Company to Assemble Vehicles Locally

By

Namini Wijedasa

Volkswagen has further confirmed to Times Online that it has not licensed any Sri Lankan company to assemble cars locally. Spokesperson Katrin Hohmann said: “Again, we’d like to state that the Volkswagen brand is constantly evaluating market opportunities on a worldwide basis. There are no decisions for Volkswagen brand investments in Sri Lanka and, therefore, no agreements with local companies for a production facility.”

Continue reading ‘Spokesperson Hohmann Confirms Volkswagen Has Not Licensed Any Lankan Company to Assemble Vehicles Locally’ »

Lester’s “Rekava” Was First Sinhala Film To Compete At The Cannes Film Festival

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sinhala Cinema’s Line of Destiny Re-drawn By ‘Rekava’ 60 Years Ago – 2

“Rekava”(line of Destiny)directed by Lester James Peries premiered 60 years ago at the Regal theatre in Colombo on December 28th 1956. It was a path breaking venture in Sinhala cinema that notched many “firsts”. Among these was the singular honour of being the first Sinhala film to compete for the Palme d’Or best film award at the prestigious Cannes Film festival in France. Rekava was screened by invitation at the 10th film festival held in Canes from May 2nd -17th 1957. Rekava dubbed in English as “line of destiny” did not win but Lester James Peries won significant fame for Sri Lanka known as Ceylon then by placing Sinhala cinema on the global movie map for the first time.

Though Rekava is acknowledged widely as a pioneering venture with many firsts to its credit, not all the laurels heaped upon it are totally accurate. For instance it is stated by many that Rekava was the first Sinhala film to be shot outside studios entirely on location and that dialogues were recorded on the spot. It is also said that Rekava was the first Sinhala movie to be filmed in Sri Lanka alone. Both these assertions are only partially correct.

The first Sinhala film to be shot on locations entirely outside a studio was “Gambada Sundari”made in 1950 by Prasad Studios productions and directed by George S.Wijegunaratne. The film was first shot on 16 mm film using an Auricon ‘sound on film’ camera which recorded sound optically on film. The 16 mm film was later blown up to 35 mm and screened on January 27th 1950 at Crown theatre in Colombo. Cinematography was by Leslie Pedris while music was composed by N.K.Kariyawasam. The main actors were Sheela Peiris,Kingsley Jayasekara and E.C. Bulathsinhala.The film was shown along with a documentary in colour on the Esala perahera. It appears that only one 35mm copy of the film was made which of course is now unavailable .
Continue reading ‘Lester’s “Rekava” Was First Sinhala Film To Compete At The Cannes Film Festival’ »

Cabinet Ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Malik Samarawickrama Refute Criticism of Joint Opposition Against Hambantota Port Agreement with China


By Nisthar Cassim

*Rajapaksa regime borrowed $ 183 billion to build Magampura Port but debt servicing hit crisis level with Rs. 9 billion loss per annum since 2014; Revenue only Rs. 2 billion per year

*Malik and Ravi say Rajapaksa and Joint Opposition have no right to oppose new investment, exports and job creation after putting country in debt trap and weakening the economy

*Accuse Rajapaksa regime of selling acres of prime land in Galle Face and Hambantota; new deal by Govt. is on lease with highest investment to make deep south port commercially viable

*Reveal around 3,000 families were displaced by Rajapaksa regime to make way for port, airport and cricket stadium in Hambantota and all ventures are a burden on people forcing higher taxation

* $ 1.4 billion CMPort and SLPA joint venture investment will have only around 1,200 acres of land in and around port for related facilities and industries

*Separately 15,000 acres earmarked from four districts for export-oriented ventures by global investors in special economic zones to be developed by Chinese firm

*Hambantota Port’s new deal still being negotiated with Concession, Shareholder and Lease agreements pending and likely to be finalised this month

* New ministerial committee comprising Dr. Amunugama, Arjuna, Nimal, Malik, Ravi and Sagala to oversee final negotiations

The Government yesterday fired back at the Joint Opposition for what Ministers described as damn lies and crocodile tears over the new and crucial $ 1.4 billion revival deal for the Hambantota Port with China Merchant Port (CMPort).

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake literally shot down each of the criticisms and allegations against the Government’s initiative and emphasised that the Joint Opposition, influenced by MP and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, was misleading the people for petty political gain.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Malik Samarawickrama Refute Criticism of Joint Opposition Against Hambantota Port Agreement with China’ »

Consultation Task Force Wants Hybrid Court With Foreign and Local Judges Though Maithri and Ranil Not in Favour of International Role

By

Meera Srinivasan

The state must release private land occupied by its armed forces, address lingering concerns of militarisation, enforced disappearances and livelihood opportunities in order to move ahead on its promise of reconciliation, a Sri Lankan task force has observed.

The government-appointed Consultation Task Force (CTF), comprising civil society members such as activists and academicians, held island-wide consultations on the Sri Lankan government’s proposed reconciliation mechanisms following the UNHRC resolution in 2015.

Sri Lanka, which co-sponsored the resolution, proposed four mechanisms for reconciliation — Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-Recurrence, Office of Missing Persons, Office of Reparations and a Judicial Mechanism with Special Counsel.

Continue reading ‘Consultation Task Force Wants Hybrid Court With Foreign and Local Judges Though Maithri and Ranil Not in Favour of International Role’ »

No Volkswagen AG Involvement in Kuliyapitiya assembly Plant Clarifies German Embassy

By

Namini Wojedasa

There is no involvement of German carmaker Volkswagen AG in the project to set up an assembly plant at Kuliyapitiya in the Kurunegala district, a spokesman for the German Embassy said today.

“SENOK Trade Combine (Pvt) Ltd. and BOI are the parties of the contract signed on 13th August 2015,” said Dr. Michael Dohmen, Deputy Head of Mission, in response to a question from the Sunday Times. “According to our state of knowledge currently there isn’t any involvement of Volkswagen in the project. If you have further questions, I’d recommend you to contact SENOK.”

Dr Dohmen said the Embassy has no knowledge about any other German involvement either. Volkswagen has separately confirmed to a media station that there are ‘‘currently no plans for a Volkswagen brand investment in Sri Lanka“.

Times Online contacted Senok for a comment. A spokesperson said they would get back with the information required-namely, the brands of vehicles to be assemble at Kulipitiya. A response is still awaited.

Continue reading ‘No Volkswagen AG Involvement in Kuliyapitiya assembly Plant Clarifies German Embassy’ »

11 Member Reconciliation Task Force (CTFRM) Wants Foreign Personnel Participation in Transitional Justice Mechanism

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM), headed by attorney-at-law Manouri Muttetuwegama, has called for full participation of foreign judges and other personnel including defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators in transitional justice mechanism to address accountability issues.

The eleven-member committee stressed that foreign participation was required as those who had suffered during the conflict had no faith in local judiciary, which lacked expertise to undertake such a task.

The UNP-SLFP administration appointed the group early last year in keeping with the understanding reached with the international community.

Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein declared in Colombo in February 2016 that the judiciary here was incapable of undertaking the process. He questioned the integrity of the local judiciary.

Continue reading ‘11 Member Reconciliation Task Force (CTFRM) Wants Foreign Personnel Participation in Transitional Justice Mechanism’ »

Govt Wanted to lease out Hambantota port to Chinese company for nearly 200 years Reveals Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga

By

Namini Wijedasa

The original framework agreement for the Hambantota port privatisation had envisaged Sri Lanka leasing out the facility to a single Chinese company for nearly 200 years, Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has revealed.

In a letter to a committee of secretaries negotiating the Hambantota deal with China Merchant Port Holding Company Ltd (CMPort), Mr Ranatunga claims his ministry and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) were largely sidelined in the process. But they had received a copy of the proposed framework agreement from the Finance Ministry’s External Resources Department of the Ministry of Finance and had been alarmed by several of its clauses.

Based on the SLPA’s recommendations, some of the terms of the agreement were subsequently amended. One of these was to reduce the lease from a total of 198 years (two leases of 99 years each) to one lease of 99 years. Pressure was also borne upon to increase the outright payment pledged by CMPort from US$ 1.08 billion to US$ 1.2 billion (the framework agreement places it at US$ 1.4 billion); to ensure that the land lease agreement is reviewed after 15 years and thereafter every five years; and to drop a CMPort condition that no other facility will be developed within a 200km radius of Hambantota port.

Continue reading ‘Govt Wanted to lease out Hambantota port to Chinese company for nearly 200 years Reveals Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga’ »

Lanka’s Eminent Legal Luminary C.G.Weeramantry Traversed the Peaks of Legal Landscapes Nationally and Internationally

By Kalana Senaratne

(Eminent Legal luminary Christopher Gregory Weeramantry has passed away at the age of 90. This article written in “The Island” of November 23rd 2008 in honour of Judge weeramantri’s 82nd Birthday is being re-published here as tribute to an illustrious son of Mother Lanka. The writer who was once a researcher at the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research was attached to the UNDP in Timor-Leste at the time this article was written)

I had picked up a small book on ‘The World Court’ from a dusty shelf of a bookshop close to my home, in Nugegoda. I had flipped through it, realized the importance of its content, and decided to purchase it. I had heard much about the author and even read some of his previous publications. But I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing, then. The small print in the book referred to a ‘Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER)’ established in Colombo – the existence about which I had not known until then. The author must have returned home from The Hague, I thought.

Sri Lankabhimanya Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, AM (November 17, 1926 – January 5, 2017)

The author was none other than Judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on 17th November. Born in 1926, he has had a most dazzling legal career spanning 60 years; firstly, as a lawyer and law lecturer in Sri Lanka and then as the youngest Supreme Court judge in the country; thereafter, as Sir Hayden Starke Professor of Law at Monash University, before becoming a judge and Vice President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. He has then traversed the great mountain ranges and peaks of a vast legal landscape. He currently trots the globe delivering speeches and lectures to eminent international audiences. WICPER, which was founded by Judge Weeramantry in 2001, is a small but ambitious research centre, dedicated to the promotion of peace education, cross-cultural understanding and international law. I too, was once, a very small part of it.

C. G. Weeramantry is a name that belongs to many generations. Past generations would know him well. The same cannot be said about the present one, unfortunately. This, I fear, is mostly due to his own humility; which has been the defining trait of this larger-than-life legal luminary. Some would know of his enormous contribution to legal literature, domestic as well as international, having read, studied and analysed his innumerable scholarly work. Some others have been more privileged to work with him, to have had the opportunity of interacting with him. Since I fall into this privileged second category, I will conveniently avoid trespassing on specialist territory belonging to the former. For me, Judge Weeramantry is more than what he is to legal scholarship and jurisprudence.

Continue reading ‘Lanka’s Eminent Legal Luminary C.G.Weeramantry Traversed the Peaks of Legal Landscapes Nationally and Internationally’ »

Mahinda Scared of His Brother Could not Stop Gotabhaya Create Extremist Bodu Bala Sena Reveals Rajitha

By

Dharisha Bastians

Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday pooh-poohed an allegation that he was involved in creating the Bodu Bala Sena made by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week, counter-alleging that it was his brother former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the true patron of the extremist Sinhalese movement accused of targeting religious and ethnic minorities in the country.

Senaratne told reporters at the Cabinet press briefing yesterday that the former President’s claim was the “joke of the 21st Century.”

Asked who was truly behind the creation of the BBS, Senaratne replied: “Gotabaya. I have never minced my words about this.”

Minister Senaratne, who also served as Fisheries Minister in the Rajapaksa Cabinet, revealed that he had warned President Rajapaksa several times that his brother’s actions were destroying his Government.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Scared of His Brother Could not Stop Gotabhaya Create Extremist Bodu Bala Sena Reveals Rajitha’ »

Palaly Airport in Jaffna Will be Developed as a “Regional Airport” to Serve Sri Lanka and South India Announces PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said here on Wednesday, that the Palaly airport in the northern district of Jaffna, will be developed as a “regional airport,” to serve not only Sri Lanka, but also South India.

India has been pressing for the development of Palaly as an international airport to improve communication links between Tamil-speaking North Sri Lanka with India, especially Tamil Nadu.

There had been an air service between Palaly and Madras and Tiruchi, before the ethnic conflict turned the airport into a military base.

Continue reading ‘Palaly Airport in Jaffna Will be Developed as a “Regional Airport” to Serve Sri Lanka and South India Announces PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Newly Discovered Non – venomous Scorpion in Sri Lanka Named “Charmus Saradieli” After Legendary Bandit Saradiel


BY SAPUMAL JAYASENA

A new breed of scorpion identified in Sri Lanka has been named after popular historical bandit of Sri Lanka Saradiel.

Many do not know that the research which led to the discovery was due to study of species of scorpions. That creature did not have such an attractive name. The two inch little scorpion found camouflaged in the sandy soil in Jaffna was identified as fatally poisonous, shattering the belief we had so far that the scorpion was only mildly poisonous. This scorpion is so very small, that it is not easily identified. The victim can be dead within 10 hours.yellowish scorpion. The vaccination for the snakebites did not answer and the man died. Sri Lanka did not have anti-venom drugs for that scorpion.

This specimen creature was sent to the Veterinary Hospital of Peradeniya and from there to Peradeniya University. Prof. Kithsiri Ranawaka led a team to identify this creature.

Continue reading ‘Newly Discovered Non – venomous Scorpion in Sri Lanka Named “Charmus Saradieli” After Legendary Bandit Saradiel’ »

Neither President Sirisena nor His Representative Could Attend Fidel Castro’s Funeral Due to “Failure” of Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn Talkin’ bout a revolution…”
– Tracy Chapman

2016 was the year, in which we lost Fidel and Muhammad Ali. Fidel was the Muhammad Ali of politics; Muhammad Ali was the Fidel Castro of sports. We also lost David Bowie, Prince and above all, Leonard Cohen,the poet of our interpersonal lives.

I always thought that when Fidel went, we’d be lucky if we still had Bob Dylan but if we lost both, we’d have lost the two pillars of the collective consciousness of people like myself, of an age and a generation. We are lucky to still have Dylan —the TS Eliot of our time–who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature this year.

Continue reading ‘Neither President Sirisena nor His Representative Could Attend Fidel Castro’s Funeral Due to “Failure” of Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry’ »

Mahinda Says He is not a “Backstabber” to Topple Govt While Premier Ranil is Away in Switzerland

By

Lahiru Pothmulla

Former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa MP, said yesterday that he was not a backstabber and would only topple the government when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was in the country and not when he was abroad.

In response to the prime minister’s remark that Mr. Rajapaksa could do whatever he wanted to after he left for Switzerland on January 17, the former president said Mr. Wickremesinghe had nothing to fear from him.

“I assure the prime minister that I won’t topple the government while he is away. Backstabbing is not in my nature. Everything will be done in a democratic manner when he is in the country. There is nothing for him to be afraid of. He can leave for Switzerland and come back safely,” Mr. Rajapaksa told the journalists at his political office in Battaramulla.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Says He is not a “Backstabber” to Topple Govt While Premier Ranil is Away in Switzerland’ »

Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka Oppose Govt Move to Centralise Economic Development Through Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs

By W. A. Sunil

Political tensions between the Sri Lankan government and the country’s provincial councils over its new foreign investment measures have deepened in recent weeks. Known as the “Development (Special Provisions) Act,” Colombo’s planned legislation aims to institute a range of measures that will encourage more foreign investment.

If adopted, the legislation will centralise all “economic development” activities in the hands of the Minister of National Policy and Economic Affairs, a new position. The minister will have the authority to declare any part of the island “an economic development area” and determine what activity can be conducted in that zone.

While it has already been approved by the cabinet and will be submitted to parliament in February, eight out of the nine provincial councils have rejected the legislation. The Eastern Provincial Council, which is due to vote on the bill on January 24, is also likely to oppose it. Under the Sri Lankan constitution, the act must be approved by the provincial councils before it can be adopted by the parliament.

Political conflict over Colombo’s foreign investment measures is another indication of the increasingly unstable character of the Colombo government, now approaching its second year in office.

Continue reading ‘Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka Oppose Govt Move to Centralise Economic Development Through Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs’ »

Govt Will Sign Agreement with Chinese Company Over 15,000 Acres in Hambantota on Jan 7th Despite Political Protests

By Dharisha Bastians

Facing a barrage of criticism over its decision to lease the Port and 15,000 acres for proposed industrial zone in Hambantota to a Chinese company, the Government yesterday defended the deal saying it would help to turn around white elephant projects in the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s hometown.

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters yesterday that the joint venture between China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority would be signed as scheduled on 7 January, in spite of ongoing opposition to the proposal from the Joint Opposition and the JVP.

“No development ever takes place in this country without massive protests against it,” he charged.

He claimed that while the pro-Rajapaksa Joint Opposition had been sharply critical of the proposed joint venture with the Chinese firm that also manages the Colombo South Harbour container terminal – CICT – the proposal to designate a 15,000-acre industrial park in the southern district had first been made during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term in office.

Continue reading ‘Govt Will Sign Agreement with Chinese Company Over 15,000 Acres in Hambantota on Jan 7th Despite Political Protests’ »