Can Ex-Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Kumaratunga Contest Presidential Elections For a Third Term Despite the 19th Constitutional Amendment?

By

Kelum Bandara

Some legal experts are of the opinion that there former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is not debarred from contesting the Presidential Election for the third time, it is learnt.

These legal experts believe though the 19th Amendment barred anyone from seeking the Presidency for the third time, it did not have retrospective effect.

Continue reading ‘Can Ex-Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Kumaratunga Contest Presidential Elections For a Third Term Despite the 19th Constitutional Amendment?’ »

CID Tells Court that Ex-Navy Chief Ravindra Wijegunaratne Gave 5 Lakhs From Navy Fund to “Navy Sampath” the Main Suspect in Mass Murder of Abducted Youths to Help Him Evade Arrest.

Sri Lanka’s chief of defence staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne gave half a million rupees in cash to help the main suspect in the abduction and murder of 11 children escape arrest, the Colombo magistrate was told Wednesday.

Colombo Fort Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered the bank of Ceylon to provide details of a navy account from which 500,000 rupees had been given to Hettiarachchi Mudiyanselage Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath last year to escape the police net.

“There is incriminating evidence against Admiral Wijegunaratne’s role (when he was navy commander) in allowing the accused to evade arrest,” the police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) told the magistrate.

Continue reading ‘CID Tells Court that Ex-Navy Chief Ravindra Wijegunaratne Gave 5 Lakhs From Navy Fund to “Navy Sampath” the Main Suspect in Mass Murder of Abducted Youths to Help Him Evade Arrest.’ »

“Medamulana Mahinda” and the Political Rise Of “Ruhunu Rajapaksas”

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The rise and growth of “political families” is a common occurrence in Sri Lanka. Ever since the Island known formerly as Ceylon gained limited forms of representative democracy through the Legislative and State Councils during British rule, the practice of members of the same family seeking posts through elections became widely prevalent. The advent of Parliamentary elections coupled with freedom from colonial bondage saw the political dynasty phenomenon gain further mileage. Political families began proliferating at multiple levels from local authorities to the supreme legislature.

Family politics is now a familiar feature of Sri Lanka’s political landscape cutting across race, religion, caste and creed. A perusal of a list of Sri Lankan political families in alphabetical order starting from the Abdul Majeeds of the East and going down to the Yapa Abeywardenas of the South would reveal that ethnicity is no bar to political family bandyism in Sri Lanka.
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♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 8

Madurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi known as MS Subbulakshmi or more popularly as ‘MS’was a sublime singer who ruled the Indian classical music world for over five decades.Blessed with a divine voice,immeasurable talent and ethereal beauty she captivated the hearts and minds of innumerable fans. MS was acknowledged at the time of Indian Independence as the “Nightingale of India”. Former Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru once paid her a huge compliment saying ‘Who am I a mere Prime minister before a Queen, the Queen of Music’?

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi was born on September 16th 1916 in the southern city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The current 2016 is her birth centenary year. Subbulakshmi whose pet name in childhood was Kunjamma trained in Carnatic music under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and learnt Hindustani music from Pandit Narayanarao Vyas. Subbulakshmi’s mother Shanmugavadivu Ammaal was a Veena exponent hailing from the “Isaivaelalar” community. Her father Subramania Iyer was a Brahmin lawyer. She married Thiyagaraja Sathasivam known as “Kalki”Sathasivam who co – founded the popular Tamil weekly magazine “Kalki” and remained at its administrative helm for many decades.
Continue reading ‘♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Youngest Son Rohitha Proposes Marriage On Bended Knee to Tatyana his Sweetheart of 9 Years On the Top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with Brother Namal Watching.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s youngest son Rohitha travelled from Tangalle to Tanzania to propose marriage to his sweetheart on top of snow-covered Kilimanjaro, another sibling said.

Second son Yoshitha was the first to announce the engagement yesterday atop the highly romantic setting on the highest mountain in the African continent.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Youngest Son Rohitha Proposes Marriage On Bended Knee to Tatyana his Sweetheart of 9 Years On the Top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with Brother Namal Watching.’ »

Dravidian Patriarch “Kalaignar” (Artiste) Karunanidhi and the Cinematic Politics of Tamil Naadu

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena reportedly sent two special representatives early this week to India with a letter to the ailing Dravidian Tamil political patriarch Muttuvel Karunanidhi wishing him a speedy recovery. Karunanidhi known widely as “Kalaignar”(artiste) has been leader of the Dravida Munnera Kazhagham (Dravidian Progressive Federation) since 1969 and served as chief minister of India’s Tamil Nadu state for a total of 19 years. The nonagenarian “Kalaignar”Karunanidhi who celebrated his 94th birthday on June 3rd has held office as Tamil Nadu chief minister five times from 1969 -71, 1971-76, 1989 -91,1996-2001 and 2006-11. Karunanidhi was admitted to the Kauvery hospital in Chennai last week due to a urinary tract infection and steep decline in blood pressure. He also underwent some tracheotomy procedural changes to help him in breathing.The latest medical bulletin issued by the hospital stated that Karunanidhi’s vital signs have gradually normalised, but he woould continue to be hospitalised due to the overall decline in his general health given his age(94).

Karunanidhi’s health has been on the decline since 2016.The silver tongued orator renowned for his powerful speeches over the years has been “silenced” due to a speech impairment.His movements too are restricted and has to be pushed around in a wheel chair. Still he has been receiving and meeting dignitaries and also visiting the DMK part office “Arivaalayam” (Temple of Knowledge) from time to time. Karunanidhi still remains the Party leader, a post he has held for more than 49 years. While Karunanidhi remains as “De Jure”DMK leader, his son MK Stalin functions as “De-Facto”DMK leader and heir apparent in his capacity as “Seyal Thalaiver” or Working Leader.

Indian news reports said that former Sri Lankan Cabinet minister and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) Parliamentarian Arumugan Thondaman along with CWC stalwart and Uva Provincial minister Senthil Thondaman visited the Kauvery hospital at Aalwaarpaettai in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai where Karunanidhi is currently recuperating.After visiting Kauvery hospital Arumugan and Senthil Thondaman also called on M.K. Stalin the son and political heir of Karunanidhi who is the “Seyal Thalaiver” (working leader)of the DMK and handed over the “get well soon”letter sent by Maithripala Sirisena.The indian media described the two Thondamans as special emissaries of the Sri Lankan president.
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‘Kaanaa Inbam Kaninthathaeno’ – Splendid “Singing in the Rain” Song ♫

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 7

I love rain!

One of the things I loved to do as a boy and even as a young adult was to get soaking wet in the rain. If it started raining while I was on my way home from school I simply got wet instead of taking shelter. Fortunately I had loving parents who understood this as well as my other quirks. My mother even let me bathe in the rain at times if it showered heavily.

Sabash Meena SR

I would dance about happily as the raindrops fell on me. I would splash about in the puddles caused by the torrential downpour. Sometimes I would even sing in the rain. When we were small children the elder of my two younger sisters was also allowed to join me in the rain at times. My younger brother was not permitted a rain bath as he had asthma. My youngest sister was too small for a rain bath. Our neighbours would look on aghast at this unconventional spectacle of myself and my sister merrily bathing in the rain. The kids in the neighbourhood would watch us enviously as we enjoyed ourselves.Of course if there was thunder and lightning I/we would be summoned inside immediately.

Continue reading ‘‘Kaanaa Inbam Kaninthathaeno’ – Splendid “Singing in the Rain” Song ♫’ »

The Sweet and Sour Real Life Romance of Reel Actors Savitri and Gemini

by
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The recent release and box-office success of the Telugu biographical movie‘Mahanati’ (Great Actress) has created a great deal of interest inthe famous South Indian actress Savitri. The bio-pic simultaneously released in Tamil as ‘Nadigaiyar Thilagham’ (Doyenne of Actresses) is about yesteryear actress K.Savitri who was known as Savitri Ganesh after she married Tamil romantic actor Gemini Ganesan also known as R. Ganesh and Gemini Ganesh.

Maya Sundari (1967)

Savitri ruled the roost in Telugu and Tamil filmdom for nearly 15 years in the fifties and sixties of the last century and was hailed as the finest actress of her time. The actress was extremely popular with Tamil and Telugu audiences during her time and enjoyed what could be termed as a cult following at the peak of her career.

The titular role of ‘Mahanati/Nadigaiyar Thilagam’ denoting Savitri is played by a young actress Keerthy Suresh who is of mixed parentage with a Malayalee father and Tamil mother. The key role of actor Gemini Ganesan/Ganesh is played by Dulquer Salman the son of Malayalam Super Star Mammooty. The film has evoked much curiosity about the real life romance between Savitri and her actor husband Gemini Ganesan. Although the couple had separated in later life, theirs was a love story that captivated film fans of an earlier era.

In recent times I have been requested by many Rasikas and admirers of the Gemini-Savitri duo to write about the real life romance of these two great reel life actors.This week’s ‘Spotlight’ therefore focuses briefly on a glamorous romance that began with great sweetness but sadly soured at the end.

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♥ “Singara Velanae Deva”- S.Janaki’s Superb Solo with Nadaswaram Accompaniment ♫

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 6

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki popularly known as S. Janaki is widely praised as the “Nightingale of the South” .In a splendid career spanning over fifty years Janaki has sung over 20,000 songs for films made in 16 different languages.The Southern nightingale has won four national awards and 31 state govt awards in India during her illustrious career.

Gemini Ganesan & Savithri ~ “Konjum Salangai” (kissing anklets) in Technicolour

Gemini Ganesan & Savithri ~ “Konjum Salangai” (kissing anklets) in Technicolour

The solo which catapulted Janaki to fame overnight was in the film “Konjum Salangai” released in January1962. Although she had no formal training in carnatic or Hindustani music Janaki rendered the classical”Singara Velanae Deva”song magnificiently.She reached the upper octaves admirably for the soulful song based on the carnatic raga Abheri. In Hindustani music the raga Bhimpalasi is said to resemble Abheri closely.
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Life and Times of Lanka’s Finest Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar


by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka’s finest Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in Colombo by a suspected sniper of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) a decade ago. His death was mourned by the nation at large as a tremendous loss to the country. The void caused in Sri Lanka’s foreign affairs sphere after the demise of this great statesman was never filled properly.

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I have written extensively about Lakshman Kadirgamar in the past. I shall therefore rely on some of those writings in compiling this commemorative article about him.

Let me begin on a personal note. My late father though older than Lakshman was a contemporary of his at Law College in 1954. I was born in 1954 and apparently Lakshman K was at the hospital to see the new babe. He also came for my baptism and there was a yellowing group photo of Law college students with Lakshman also included in the family album.

My father lost touch with Lakshman in the sixties but always spoke highly of his brilliance. He also said that Lakshman though inarticulate in Tamil was deeply concerned about Sinhala being made the sole official language, the 1956 and ’58 violence and the suppression of the Satyagraha campaign in 1961. My father never accepted the Tiger accusation that Kadirgamar was oblivious to the Tamil plight.

Tamil national question

I made contact in 1994 with Lakshman Kadirgamar in my professional capacity as a journalist due to the efforts of the late Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam. I was then editing my own Tamil weekly in Toronto. Kadirgamar had become a Cabinet Minister and was taking a keen interest in helping resolve the national problem.

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Ketheeswaran (Ketheesh) Loganathan Championed Tamil Rights in a United Sri Lanka


by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Death has become a mere word. The number of deaths is a simple statistic.Life is “nasty, short and brutish”. Even in such vile atmospheres where life and death are fast becoming meaningless a single man’s or woman’s death too cannot have any meaning. Yet there are people whose deaths diminish all of us. Their departure leaves us sad and shattered. The loss is not to the nearest and dearest alone but to all of humanity.

Ketheeswaran Loganathan

The death of Ketheeswaran Loganathan called generally as “Ketheesh” was one such instance. One more person capable of rising above hatred and insanity in present day Sri Lanka is no more. With his departure one more Tamil who wanted his people to live with equal rights in a united Lanka and champion that cause in the face of danger has been done away with. Only a few of us are left now.

Ketheeswaran or Ketheesh was of Jaffna origin (Thunnalai South) but born and bred in Colombo. He studied at St. Thomas’s College Mt. Lavinia and Loyola College, Madras before proceeding to the USA for higher studies. He was the scion of an elitist Tamil family.

His father was the legendary banker and economist Chelliah Loganathan. There was a time when Loganathan , General Manager of Bank of Ceylon was regarded as a powerful financier wielding much influence in Sri Lanka.The bank’s lending policies caused much controversy.Buddhika Kurukularatne in his eminently readable Sunday column refers to a description of Loganathan by the journalist par excellence Denzil Peiris. “Like a Sea Street chettiar, Mr. C. Loganathan sits in his York Street office with his greasy fingers on the national economy.”

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Nobel Prize -winning Controversial Trinidad Born Author Of Indian Origin V.S.Naipaul Dies At the Age of 85

Novelist Sir VS Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, has died aged 85, his family have said.

Sir Vidia, who was born in rural Trinidad in 1932, wrote more than 30 books including A Bend in the River and his masterpiece, A House for Mr Biswas.

His wife Lady Naipaul called him a “giant in all that he achieved”.

She said he died at his home in London “surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavour”.

Geordie Greig, editor of the Mail on Sunday and a close friend, said his death leaves a “gaping hole in Britain’s literary heritage” but there is “no doubt” that his “books live on”.


Obituary: VS Naipaul

It is universally agreed that Sir Vidia Naipaul was a great writer of the English sentence; a master stylist and story-teller with a cold, clear eye for the ironies, tragedies and sufferings of mankind. But here all agreement stops.

For his many supporters, his fiction had merciless comic clarity and his travel writing a terrifying honesty – refusing to glamorise or idealise the developing world.

They hailed him as a towering intellect – delivering an original, scorching critique refreshingly devoid of political correctness: attacking the cruelty of Islam, the corruption of Africa and the self-inflicted misery he witnessed in the poorest parts of the globe.

For his numerous critics, Naipaul’s writing was troubling and even bigoted. They recognised his literary gifts but saw him as a hater: an Uncle Tom who dealt in stereotypes, paraded his prejudices and bathed in loathing for the world from which he came.

Certainly, he gave cause for their grievance. “There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs”, he once declared. He was scornful of the Caribbean, wrote that Africa would revert to the ‘bush’ and often veered towards unapologetic misogyny.

“I read a piece of writing and, within a paragraph or two, I know whether it is by a woman or not,” he told one interviewer. “I think (they are) unequal to me.” Women were narrow and overly sentimental, he declared. Jane Austen, especially, did not come up to snuff.

His fellow Nobel Prize winner, Derek Walcott, was scathing. Naipaul wrote beautiful prose, he said, “scarred by scrofula” and “a repulsion towards Negroes… a physical and historical abhorrence that, like every prejudice, disfigures the observer”.

The academic, Edward Said, bridled at the attacks on Islam – saying he found it hard to believe any rational person would attack entire cultures on such a scale.

In person, Sir Vidia could be affable. But, just as often, he was as haughty, irascible and quickly provoked to bile. He enjoyed epic feuds with friend and foe, acted unspeakably to women and gloried in a general lack of sensitivity to all who crossed his path.

When Salman Rushdie went into hiding after The Satanic Verses, for instance, Naipaul described the fatwa as “an extreme form of literary criticism.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

Trinidad

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born in rural Trinidad on 17 August 1932. The island of his birth was a complicated post-colonial patchwork of racial tensions and subtle hierarchies.

His grandparents had been labourers: part of the great nineteenth-century Indian diaspora who had settled in the Caribbean. The young Vidia was raised as a Hindu, part of a displaced community within a plantation society. It was a blend of histories, customs and ethnic identities which later formed an important part of his work.

Naipaul’s father, Seepersad, was a journalist for the Trinidad Guardian who revered Shakespeare and Dickens. He would read the great works of European literature aloud to his children – giving the young Vidia an burning ambition for writing, a “fantasy of nobility” and a “panic about failing.”.

He attended the Queen’s Royal College, proving himself an able student. On graduating, he won a government scholarship giving him entry to the Commonwealth university of his choosing. In 1950, he arrived in Oxford.

Image copyright Meager Image caption Naipaul suffered from loneliness and depression during his time at University College, Oxford. He found it less than intellectually stimulating.

Depression

University College was a time of poverty and terrible loneliness. Isolated and unsure of his future, Naipaul became severely depressed. On an impulse, he took a trip to Spain where he quickly ran out of money. There was a frustrated suicide attempt when the gas meter ran out.

His saviour was his father, with whom he kept in touch by letter: a correspondence Naipaul later published as Letters Between a Father and a Son (1999).

He harboured little affection for his homeland, describing Trinidad as an “unimportant, uncreative, cynical… dot on the map”. But nor did he warm to Britain either, finding it a second-rate country of “bum politicians, scruffy writers and crooked aristocrats.”

He moved to London with his new wife, Patricia Hale – who he had met at college. His father died and Naipaul found himself in yet another small, isolated world – this time as an aspiring writer. “I became my flat, my desk, my name.”

With a growing emotional and physical detachment, he began to write about his childhood. His first three books – The Mystic Masseur (1957), The Suffrage of Elvira (1958) and Miguel Street (1959) – were set in the Caribbean and published in quick succession.

To support himself, he churned out book reviews and made programmes for the radio. “I was,” he said, “an accomplished hack.”

Masterpiece

Then came his undoubted masterpiece. A House for Mr Biswas took more than three years to write and, by the time of completion, he knew much of it by heart. But beneath the masterful comic writing lay such a series of raw emotions, he barely ever looked at it again.

It was a sprawling, Dickensian family chronicle about one man’s dreams of independence. Mr Biswas was from Trinidad, continually striving for elusive success. He marries into an overbearing family but, without a house, cannot be the author of his own destiny.

He struggles to build it; casting off his decaying relations, creating his freedom and establishing self-respect. Above all, it was the writer’s attempt to come to terms with his own identity and the pivotal figure in his life: his father.

Biswas represented Seepersad while the character’s son, Anand, stood for himself. About their relationship, Naipaul wrote barely disguised self-analysis in the form of fiction – with sharp sentences and a merciless pen:

“Though no one recognized his strength, Anand was amongst the strong. His satirical sense kept him aloof. At first this was only a pose, an imitation of his father. But satire led to contempt… It led to inadequacies, to self-awareness and a lasting loneliness. But it made him unassailable.”

The book was a sensation, published to global acclaim in 1961. But Naipaul felt exhausted and done, for now, with writing literature. He spent the next few years travelling in the Caribbean, India and Africa – describing what he saw and reaching for a greater understanding of his own, displaced identity.

Global traveller

His writings offer a personal notion of history as a series of tragic and haphazard upheavals, leaving “half-made” developing worlds in their wake. An Area of Darkness (1964) chronicles India. Naipaul has only contempt for westerners looking to the sub-continent for a spiritual awakening.

Instead, he saw only ugliness and a smug refusal to recognise the horror of the “narrow, broken lanes with green slime in the gutters, the chocked back-to-back houses, the jumble of filth and food and animals and people, the baby in the dust, swollen-bellied, black with flies, but wearing its good-luck amulet”.

In Africa, he took up a writer-in-residence fellowship at a university in Uganda – writing The Mimic Men (1967): a novel charting the struggles of Ranjit ‘Ralph’ Singh to balance his personal life and political ambition. Combining elements of both fiction and non-fiction, it satirised, as the title suggests, West Indian efforts to mimic the behaviour of their former European masters.

He travelled widely about the continent, often depicting its life as bleak and its people primitive. In A Free State (1971) won the Booker Prize with its portrayal of a violent, post-colonial continent attracting young, idealistic whites in search of sexual freedom.

A young American, Paul Theroux, often joined him on his journeys. Years later, Theroux discovered a book he had given Naipaul in a second-hand bookshop. Offended, he published Sir Vidia’s Shadow, a book depicting his former friend as “a grouch, a skinflint, tantrum-prone, with race on the brain”. The result was an epically bitter 15-year feud.

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Naipaul’s career saw bursts of stunning creativity laced with long periods of writer’s block. Highlights included The Loss of Eldorado (1969), Guerillas (1975) and A Bend In The River (1979) – a picture of post-colonial Africa spiralling into hell.

Its first line captures Naipaul’s belief that the world is what man makes it; responsibility for its failings impossible to escape: “The world is what it is”, he wrote. “Men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place it it.”

He swung his gaze on Islamic fundamentalism in the Believers (1981). One New York Times writer observed that it bore an antipathy to the religion so naked “that a book taking a comparable view of Christianity or Judaism would have been hard put to find a publisher” in America.

In his later years, he entered an autumnal phase with The Enigma of Arrival (1987) and A Way in the World (1994), combining personal experience (though denying it was autobiographical) with the broad historical sweep of post-war migration from developing world.


Nobel Prize

A knighthood followed. And In 2001, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Academy compared him to Joseph Conrad and extolled his ability to “transform rage into precision.”

He rarely gave interviews, loathing journalists. On the rare occasion he did, he invariably proved great copy: gaily describing Tony Blair as a “pirate” whose “socialist revolution” created a “plebeian culture”, dismissing Dickens as a writer who died of “self parody” and skewering EM Forster as a man who knew nothing about India “but the garden boys whom he wished to seduce.”

Sir Vidia Naipaul will be remembered as a magical craftsman of English prose. He also believed the novel is “dead”.

He leaves behind a complex, challenging library of work which – despairing of the limitations of fiction to describe reality – occupies a space between imagination, travel-writing and autobiography in his attempt to capture the complexities of the modern world.

He saw himself as a lone, stateless observer; free of ideology, politics and illusion. To his champions, he had few equals.

For the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, Naipaul represented third-world people “not with sugary magic realism but with their demons, their misdeeds and horrors – which made them less victims and more human.”

But to his detractors, Naipaul was essentially political; bearing witness against the post-colonial world with great writing but shielded from criticism by virtue of being ‘one of them’.

Courtesy:BBC

If Joint Opposition MP’s Want Opposition Leader Post They Must Have Courage To Resign From UPFA/SLFP and Face Risk of Losing Their Parliamentary Seats.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

There is diversion in the politics of the Joint Opposition, moving away from the defeat of the Yahapalana coalition and plans for the coming presidential and general elections, to the demand for the office of Leader of the Opposition.

The big debate in parliament this week was over declaring the JO’s leading member in parliamentary business, Dinesh Gunawardena, as Leader of the Opposition. The JO is not a registered party in parliament, though a group with at least 70, in a house of 225 members.

Dinesh Gunawardena could certainly be a good Leader of the Opposition, with his experience in parliament as an MP and Minister, and his personal and political background. His personal suitability apart, there is the political reality of the JO. The leader of the JO is none other than Mahinda Rajapaksa, functional leader of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), former Prime Minister and Executive President, and the mover and shaker of the JO today.

Is it not strange the JO does not call for Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader the Opposition (L/O), but keep pushing for Dinesh G?

Continue reading ‘If Joint Opposition MP’s Want Opposition Leader Post They Must Have Courage To Resign From UPFA/SLFP and Face Risk of Losing Their Parliamentary Seats.’ »

Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Will Continue To Be Leader of the Opposition in Parliament ules Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said the status quo would remain as regards the post of the Opposition Leader in Parliament. It is currently held by TNA Leader R Sampanthan.

Making a special announcement at the commencement of sittings yesterday, the Speaker said that his final decision was that the constitutionality and Parliament tradition did not warrant any change in the post of the Opposition Leader.

Jayasuriya, however, assured that he would allocate more time and grant more space in Parliamentary committees for the Joint Opposition in keeping with the number of MPs within its ranks.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Will Continue To Be Leader of the Opposition in Parliament ules Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.’ »

“Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan” ~ Sparkling Song by TM Soundararajan ~ MS Raju ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 5

“Neeyay Unakku endrum Nigaraanaavan” is a sparkling song from the old Tamil film “Baley Pandia” produced and directed by B.R.Panthulu in 1962.Sung by maestro TM Soundararajan(TMS) and “Konnakol”expert M.S.Raju(not to be confused with the Telugu film producer) the song was picturised in the film on actors Sivaji Ganesan and M.R. Radha singing along with K. Balaji playing the “Ghatam”.

"Nadigaverl" M. R.Radha & Sivaji Ganesan ~ "Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan"

“Nadigaverl” M. R.Radha & Sivaji Ganesan ~ “Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan”

The remarkable highlights of “Baley Pandia” were the triple roles played by Sivaji Ganesan and the double roles played by M. R. Radha. Sivaji the hero also acted as a scientist and the sidekick of the villain. Radha was the villain as well as the father of the heroine played by Devika. There is much confusion caused by the similar looking appearances of Sivaji in this three roles and Radha in his dual. A lot of humour is provided in the scenes. It is basically a feel good film.
Continue reading ‘“Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan” ~ Sparkling Song by TM Soundararajan ~ MS Raju ♫’ »

DMK Leader Karunanidhi Told Former Indian Envoy Gopalkrishna Gandhi – “Secession Will Never Be Given Up By Prabhakaran…….. We Grope In The Dark”

By

Gopalkrishna Gandhi


(Author,Scholar and Diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi who served as India’s High Commissioner in India is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and Rajaji)

“Jakkirathaiya irunga,” he said in Tamil, over which his command was legendary. “Take care” is how the phrase would translate. But in the way he said it, laying stress on the double ‘kk’, I could see he meant to say, “Take every care.” This was on August 13, 2000. I was on my way to Colombo to join duty as High Commissioner.

A federal mind

Calling on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi would have been on the wish list and task list of any Indian envoy on her or his way to Sri Lanka. But, for me, this was not just about protocol. Nor was it about politics, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) then being a crucial presence in the National Democratic Alliance government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was about plain common sense, sheer self-interest. There was no way I would present letters of credence in Colombo without finding out what Tamil Nadu’s senior-most and completely wide-awake leader thought about the island nation’s travails, the present and future state of its Tamil population and that of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam’s supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran. To go to Colombo without the ‘input’ — to use a crassly opportunistic expression — of a veteran of Tamil Nadu’s political chemistry would be absurd. What I needed and was to get from him was the insight, as knowledgeable as it was detached, of ‘one who knew’. The hinterland of any foreign policy is ground knowledge of the roots of that policy in the soil of its origin.

It was not easy, even for one on ‘relevant’ official duty, to get an appointment with the Chief Minister. He had his hands more than full with the complexities of Tamil Nadu’s polity, where facing the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its charismatic leader J. Jayalalithaa meant being alert 24×7; where running a government of which he was the alpha and the omega meant working harder than the mind and body could take. And where, to make matters more complex for him, explaining to the people of Tamil Nadu how and why India-Sri Lankan relations were a foreign policy matter and foreign policy was the prerogative of the Union government was just about impossible. He was on the cusp of India’s federal dilemmas.

A lesser politician could have played politics on that fluid crest, just to remain ‘on top’. But, as the direct successor-in-office to C.N. Annadurai (CNA) who had given up secession as the DMK’s policy goal, he was going to do nothing of the kind.

Continue reading ‘DMK Leader Karunanidhi Told Former Indian Envoy Gopalkrishna Gandhi – “Secession Will Never Be Given Up By Prabhakaran…….. We Grope In The Dark”’ »

Though a Lifelong Warrior for the Sri Lankan Tamil Cause DMK Chief Karunanidhi Was Misunderstood in the End


by

K. Venkataramanan

It is the misfortune of some leaders that public perception, based on their recent actions and political positions, tends to overshadow their long history of engagement with an issue. It is so with M. Karunanidhi, who was an outspoken champion of the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils for five decades, but whose perceived “inaction” in the final days of the civil war in the island nation in 2009 stuck to his reputation during the sunset of his life.

A. Amirthalingam, SJV Chelvanayagam & M. Karunannidhi-pic courtesy of: The Hindu

To his legion of supporters, Mr. Karunanidhi was ‘Tamil Inaththalaivar’ or, ‘the leader of the Tamil race’. He wore the appellation with some pride in the prime of his political career, but not many believed in it in the end. Much of the hatred and disdain that he suffered came after May 2009, the month that saw the demise of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, its leader V. Prabhakaran and Mr. Karunanidhi’s own reputation as a lifelong supporter of the Tamil cause.

It was somewhat unfair as he was not only a friend of many Sri Lankan Tamil leaders, but also commanded much respect from Tamil federalist politicians. He was one of the few Indian leaders who had empathy for the plight of the Tamils across the Palk Bay, as well as deep understanding of the political problem underlying the ethnic conflict.

While many may differ with him for advocating a separate Tamil Eelam, he had made it amply clear that he primarily stood for a just solution for the Tamils.

Continue reading ‘Though a Lifelong Warrior for the Sri Lankan Tamil Cause DMK Chief Karunanidhi Was Misunderstood in the End’ »

Bodu Bala Sena Secy-Gen Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero Found Guilty on 4 Counts of Contempt of Court Charges Sentenced to 19 Years Rigorous Imprisonment to Be Served Concurrently for 6 Years

By S.S.Selvanayagam

Firebrand Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, known for his hard-line approach, was jailed yesterday for six years after being found guilty of contempt of court over his conduct during a court hearing regarding the case of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.

Gnanasara Thero, the Secretary General of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS),was found guilty of four charges filed by the Attorney General’s Department for his behaviour. He was convicted on four counts of contempt of court, receiving terms of four years each on the first and the second counts, six years on the third and five for the fourth, all to run concurrently.

In 2016, Gnanasara Thero interrupted a court hearing over the abduction of the journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, in which military intelligence officials were accused. The monk, disagreeing with the proceedings of the Court, shouted at the presiding judge and lawyers as the accused military men were refused bail. The same day, he also threatened the wife of the missing journalist, Sandhya Eknaligoda.

Continue reading ‘Bodu Bala Sena Secy-Gen Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero Found Guilty on 4 Counts of Contempt of Court Charges Sentenced to 19 Years Rigorous Imprisonment to Be Served Concurrently for 6 Years’ »

94 Year Old DMK President “Kalaignar” Muthuvel Karunanidhi who was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Five Times Passes Away at Chennai Kauvery Hospital on August 7th 2018.


By

Dharani Thangavelu

Muthuvel Karunanidhi, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president, is dead, the Kauvery Hospital in Chennai announced today. “With deep anguish, we announce the demise of our beloved Kalaignar Dr M. Karunanidhi on 7. 8. 2018 at 6.10 pm. Despite the best possible efforts by our team of doctors and nurses to resuscitate him, he failed to respond,” said the statement from the hospital.

“We profoundly mourn the loss of one of the tallest leaders of India and we share the grief of the family members and fellow Tamilians worldwide,” it added.

At 4.30 pm Tuesday, a statement from Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital, where the five-time Tamil Nadu chief was being treated for the past 11 days. “Despite maximum medical support, his vital organ functions continue to deteriorate. His condition is extremely critical and unstable,” said a statement from the Kauvery Hospital on Tuesday evening, 4.30 pm.

Meanwhile, an internal circular from Tamil Nadu DGP T K Rajendran directed the police to be on high alert. “Please direct your strength (ADSP, DSPs Inspectors, SIs and ORs) available in each district/city to report immediately in uniform before the respective commissioner of police or district SPs for urgent law and order bandobast duty.” It also added: “Zonal IGPs concerned shall utilize the manpower within the zone depending upon the requirement.”

Continue reading ‘94 Year Old DMK President “Kalaignar” Muthuvel Karunanidhi who was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Five Times Passes Away at Chennai Kauvery Hospital on August 7th 2018.’ »

The Ideology, Rhetoric and Politics of DMK Leader and Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi.

By
A.S.Panneerselvan

(This Article originally published in “Frontline Magazine”was Reproduced on this Blog on June 9th 2017.It is Being posted again due to its current timeliness)

THE 1957 elections to Parliament and the State Assemblies constituted a defining moment. It established the democratic credentials of a country newly liberated from colonial rule; it was the first round of elections after the linguistic reorganisation of the States; and it was the first indication that the Indian National Congress could no longer invoke the freedom struggle to win popular support as people started evaluating governance.

It was the year two brilliant orators, one in Hindi and the other in Tamil, entered Parliament and a State Assembly, respectively: A.B. Vajpayee made his Lok Sabha debut and M. Karunanidhi entered the Legislative Assembly. At a deeper level, these two politicians represent two contending and confronting ideas about India. Vajpayee represents a homogeneous, uniformed, monolithic imagination of India. Karunanidhi represents a heterogenous, varied, multi-tiered and multilayered imagination of the country.

Continue reading ‘The Ideology, Rhetoric and Politics of DMK Leader and Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi.’ »

“Black July”: Thirty-fifth Anniversary of 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

One of the darkest chapters in the sphere of Sri Lankan ethnic relations was the widespread anti-Tamil violence that occurred thirty – five years ago during the fourth week of July in 1983. Although the tragic history of post – independence Sri Lanka records that the Tamils of Sri Lanka were subjected to mass –scale mob violence in the years 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, the anti-Tamil violence of July 1983 was the most horrible of them all. It remains etched in memory even after 35 years as “Black July 1983”. I have written about the dark happenings of July 1983 extensively in the past. However I intend re-visiting the events of “Black July” briefly in these columns to denote the 35th anniversary of the terrible pogrom.

When writing about “Black July” one is conscious of the negative connotations in using the colour “black” to describe something bad and evil and the colour white for pure and good. In this age of “political Correctness” these usages have been challenged and debunked as insidious vestiges of racism. Wittingly and unwittingly these usages keep promoting racist stereotypes of colour.Nevertheless it is difficult to adopt such a politically correct stance in the Sri Lankan context as the description “Black July” has pervaded national consciousness. Avoiding such references to Black July would be particularly impossible in writing about the violent events of July 1983.

Continue reading ‘“Black July”: Thirty-fifth Anniversary of 1983 Anti-Tamil Pogrom.’ »

“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -2

“ Dingiri Dingaale Meenatchi Dingiri Dingaale, Ulagam Poara Poakkaip Paaru Thangamay Chiillaaley” was a song that rocked Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon in 1958-59 and the years after. The rhapsodic song from a Tamil film “Anbu Engey?”was widely popular during my childhood days. It was released in Sri Lanka in 1959.No sing song or dance at a party was complete without it. Even at children’s parties this song would be sung or played with every one dancing. Singing Dingiri Dingaaley and dancing to the song was a regular feature of life in those years

"Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music."

“Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music.”

Years later after I entered journalism I found myself being asked to sing “Dingiri Dingaaley” frequently by my Sinhala colleagues in the media. Ethnic relations had not deteriorated badly in the years before “Black July 1983”. Fellow scribes of all communities had cordial relations with each other. When “spirits” were high the journalistic fraternity would engage in a sing- song whenever possible. At such raucous gatherings where many, many songs were sung there would always be a request from Sinhala friends for two Tamil songs. One was “ Adi Ennadi Raakkammaa” from the film “Pattikkaada Pattanamaa?”. The other was of course “Dingiri Dingaaley”. Both were sung in films by the popular play back singer T. M. Soundararajan known generally as TMS.
Continue reading ‘“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥’ »

✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -4

“Ruritanian Romance” is a genre consisting of stories, novels, dramas and films set in a fictional country. Anthony Hope’s novel “Prisoner of Zenda” based in the imaginary state of Ruritania was the pioneering novel that spawned this popular genre. Literature, theatre and films of this genre are generally about romances between Royalty and commoners occurring in a fictional country with the melodramatic backdrop of plots, intrigues, action and adventure.Many films have been made in many parts of the world that could be categorised as belonging to the “Ruritanian Romance “genre.

"Veerathirumagan"

“Veerathirumagan Aanandhan ♥ Sachu”

“Veerathirumagan” was a Tamil film belonging to the Ruritanian romance genre, It was released in India on May 3rd 1962.The film was screened some months later in Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon. Even before the film hit the screens , the songs in the movie popularised by Radio became runaway hits. The Tamil commercial service of “Radio Ceylon”played a big role in this. In those days “Radio Ceylon” or “Ceylon Radio “ as it was known in India, was most popular over the air waves in Tamil Nadu.
Continue reading ‘✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫’ »

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -3

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”is perhaps the most popular song sung on screen by the magnificient singer and actor of Tamil cinema – Thenkarai Ramakrishnan Mahalingam generally known as T.R.Mahalingam. He sings this number in the film “Maalayitta Mangai”produced in 1958 by poet and film lyricist “Kavignar” Kannadasan who also penned the words of this immortal song. The melody was composed by the “monarchs of light music” Viswanathan – Ramamoorthy. The song is picturised in the film on TR Mahalingam, actress Mainavathi and a troupe of dancing girls. Mainavathi is the sister in real life of actress Pandari Bai who also acts in the film.

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

The song “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal, Nilaavena Sirikkum Malark Kodiaal” has been one of my favourite film songs since childhood. I first heard it on radio and later saw it being sung on the screen when “Maalayitta Mangai” was screened at the Vel theatre in Chavakachcheri. The Vel theatre was an asbestos, aluminium and tin structure with a single projector. So there were two intervals. The theatre screened old Tamil films every two or three days. I would frequent this theatre regularly when I was home for the school holidays. It was at “Vel” seated on the gallery last bench, munching peanuts that I first saw and heard TR Mahalingam sing “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal” on screen. In later years I got a DVD of the film and CD of the songs that I watch and listen to very often.
Continue reading ‘“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥’ »

“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -1

This article is the first in an on going series about film songs I have come to love over the years.Watching Tamil movies on screen and listening to Tamil film songs over radio was an integral part of life for me as a child growing up in Colombo. The Tamil ‘Varthaga Oliparappu’ or Commercial service of ‘Radio Ceylon’ was a treasure trove of film songs.

NV

Apart from broadcasting the latest Tamil film songs even before the films concerned were screened in India, the commercial service also aired specific programs about films being currently shown in theatres in the island. Popular radio announcer Mailvaganam conducted these programs where film songs were featured regularly. Thus one was able to keep abreast of contemporary Tamil film music courtesy ‘Radio Ceylon’ in those wonderful days of yore.
Continue reading ‘“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫’ »

Does Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Think His “Economic Empowerment” Solution Will Result in the Sri Lankan Tamils Giving Up Their Long Struggle For Political Equality and Rights?

by

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

In a speech to the Inter-Religious Forum on the 35th anniversary of the anti-Tamil violence of Black July ’83, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga made an impassioned plea for either a new Constitution or a Constitutional Amendment to resolve the long-standing ethno-national question. The enterprise is flawed and fraught.

1. Even if one assumes for the sake of argument that a new Constitution may be desirable or even ideal, this does not prove it is necessary, still less imperative.

2. It is almost certainly not the case that what CBK deems desirable or necessary is in fact politically feasible.

3. In her effort to achieve the ideal or the desirable, she may counter-productively reinforce the political, social and ideological tendencies she is seeking to combat, and wreck the laudable goal she is striving to achieve.

CBK’s ‘The Package Reloaded’ will give rise to a far more virulently nationalist regime than that of her immediate successor.

Continue reading ‘Does Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Think His “Economic Empowerment” Solution Will Result in the Sri Lankan Tamils Giving Up Their Long Struggle For Political Equality and Rights?’ »

Cabinet Approves Proposal By President Sirisena To Declare Catholic Shrine Dedicated to “Our Lady of Madhu” and Environs of Maruthanaamadhu in Mannar District a Sacred Area.


By

Camelia Nathaniel

The Cabinet has approved a proposal made by President Maithripala Sirisena to declare the holy shrine of Our Lady of Madhu a sacred area. The President visited the Madhu Shrine on Sunday.

This is a most welcome measure for Roman Catholics in the country.

Madhu is a mystic jungle shrine dedicated to Mother Mary and venerated not just by the Catholics of this country, but by members of all religious faiths. It is situated in a remote area in Mannar.

For more than 400 years, Catholics as well as non-Catholics have gathered around Our Lady of Madhu and it is believed that this holy shrine has miraculous powers which have served the spiritual needs of Sri Lankans from different walks of life, ethnicities, religions and different areas of the country.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Approves Proposal By President Sirisena To Declare Catholic Shrine Dedicated to “Our Lady of Madhu” and Environs of Maruthanaamadhu in Mannar District a Sacred Area.’ »

The Feasible Political Solution to the Tamil Question Already Exists and Has Been in Place Since the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Here’s a news flash; the political solution to the Tamil question exists and has been around for a while. Thousands died in two civil wars to proclaim and defend that solution. Vijaya Kumaratunga and K Pathmanabha were martyrs to that cause. And yet, those who should cherish the cause they were martyred for and the survival and entrenchment of that democratic reform act as if it didn’t happen.

While the political solution exists, Sri Lankan politics is increasingly divided into two camps: One camp consists of those, mainly neoliberals and liberal-leftists who ignore the existing solution for which rivers of blood flowed, and try to leap over it to something they regard as more advanced—and in so doing, run the risk of effacing what has been achieved. The other camp consists of neoconservative and ultranationalists who seek to ignore, bypass and bury the existing solution—thereby running the risk of opening the gates to a far looser and more radical restructuring of the state.

There were two civil wars that swirled around the political solution. Northern extremism lost that war but are still trying to fight it by other means, vaulting over the existing reform and making for a loose federalism transitional to separation. Southern ultra-nationalism which lost the civil war is trying to reopen it and paralyze and dismantle the reformist solution that exists.

Why is there so much aversion to the existing reform? The secret lies in two contending ideas of Sri Lanka; of what Sri Lanka is or should be.

Continue reading ‘The Feasible Political Solution to the Tamil Question Already Exists and Has Been in Place Since the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.’ »

31 Years After The Signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord Signed By Rajiv Gandhi and J.R.Jayewardene on on July 29th 1987.


By

Pramod De Silva

It is now exactly 31 years since the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed in Colombo on July 29, 1987, between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene amidst political turmoil in Colombo and military advances in the North.

The Accord was signed “Attaching utmost importance to nurturing, intensifying and strengthening the traditional friendship of Sri Lanka and India, and acknowledging the imperative need of resolving the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, and the consequent violence, and for the safety, well-being and prosperity of people belonging to all communities of Sri Lanka”.

India always took a keen interest in the ethnic conflict and related developments in Sri Lanka, mainly because of the Tamil Nadu factor. The Tamil populations in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s North shared the same linguistic, cultural and religious heritage and it would have been naive to suggest that the Central Government in New Delhi as well as the Tamil Nadu administration would take no interest in developments in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘31 Years After The Signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord Signed By Rajiv Gandhi and J.R.Jayewardene on on July 29th 1987.’ »

Years After “Black July” and End of War We are Still Left With the Question ” Quo Vadis Sri Lanka?” (Where Are You Going Sri Lanka)


By Frances Bulathsinghala

The July 1983 anti-Tamil riots is a watershed in the recent history of this country, and 35 years later, with a three-decade war over and thousands killed, we are still left asking ‘Quo Vadis Lanka?’

This writer was seven years old when Colombo went up in flames on a seemingly ordinary July day. As a child, I did not know that 13 members of the government military had been killed in an ambush by the then fledging rebel outfit, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Neither did I know then that, twenty years later, I will be covering Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and the 2002 peace process as a journalist. All I knew was that I was travelling in a school van with four Tamil female teachers wedged in our midst. I remember that these teachers were shaking in fear and trying hard to look nondescript with their pottus removed from their forehead.

To recall now the carnage of that afternoon is like bringing forth a horror movie. Our van was travelling to Panadura, about 25km outside Colombo. The driver drove through flames and often nearly lost his nerve every time mobs asked us to halt, demanding if there were any Tamils in the van. Several times along the way, the driver was asked for petrol. Thankfully, this petrol being used to burn people alive I did not see, as my mother forced me and the other children travelling in that vehicle to ‘sleep’.

Having in July 1983 mourned the deaths of 13 soldiers, by 2003, Sri Lanka had mourned thousands of its youth.

Covering the 2002 peace process for a national newspaper as a staff journalist and for a couple of South Asian publications as a correspondent, I recall the many interviews with parents of cadres, with female cadres and with rebels of diverse ranks, and being amazed at how some of them had grown up in the South and come to the North only after July 1983.

Continue reading ‘Years After “Black July” and End of War We are Still Left With the Question ” Quo Vadis Sri Lanka?” (Where Are You Going Sri Lanka)’ »

If There Were One Person who Could be Singularly Responsible for the Sharp Fall of the Public Service in Sri Lanka, it was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Ex-Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.

By

Vishwamithra 1984

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
~Aung San Suu Kyi

Ceylon Civil Service, later transformed into Sri Lanka Administrative Service, has been a dignified public service.

‘It functioned as part of the executive administration of the country in various degrees until Ceylon gained self-rule in 1948. Until it was abolished on 1 May 1963 it functioned as the permanent bureaucracy or secretariat of Crown employees that supported the Government of Ceylon’ (Source: Wikipedia).

Among the great men who peopled this strikingly distinct public service were Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam (The first Ceylonese Civil Servant), Shirley Amarasinghe, Raju Coomaraswamy, Sir Richard Aluvihare, M J Perera, G V P Samarasinghe, Bradman Weerakoon, M D D Peiris and Mahi Wickremaratne.

Outside the Civil Service per se, there were some outstanding public servants, who contributed immensely to the enrichment of the public life of the nation. Amongst them were Dr Wickrema Weerasooria, Lal Jayawardene and Warnasena Rasaputra.

All these gentlemen were not devoid of politics. They certainly would have had their personal political thinking and even might have had their personal biases right throughout their careers.
Yet, they did not go before the television cameras and openly canvass public opinion on behalf of their masters.

That is the legacy, in addition to their splendid work as public servants, which they left behind- a total apolitical demeanour before the public.

Continue reading ‘If There Were One Person who Could be Singularly Responsible for the Sharp Fall of the Public Service in Sri Lanka, it was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Ex-Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.’ »

“Basil, Gotabhaya and Chamal are Three Dragon Heads of Pohottuwa Party for 2020 But Real Dragon Will Emerge After Five Years in the Form of Namal Rajapaksa” Says Harin Fernando

By

Amali Mallawaarachchi

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has no future other than relying upon the Rajapaksas, Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando said yesterday. Fernando expressed his disappointment over the political sycophancy displayed by the Pohottuwa party towards the Rajapaksa family.

Minister Fernando also criticised former Minister Basil Rajapaksa for saying that they will abolish the anti-corruption special high court when they regain power. “How irresponsible are they to say this? They are saying that when they come to power, they will abolish these establishments. These high courts have not been established to take revenge.”

Continue reading ‘“Basil, Gotabhaya and Chamal are Three Dragon Heads of Pohottuwa Party for 2020 But Real Dragon Will Emerge After Five Years in the Form of Namal Rajapaksa” Says Harin Fernando’ »

Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M.Karunanidhi’s Health Condition Stabilises While Party Supporters Chant “long live Thalaivar” (leader) and “meendu vaa thalaiva,” (come back leader)Outside Kauvery Hospital in Chennai

DMK chief M Karunanidhi, being treated for fever due to urinary tract infection, was shifted to a private hospital from his residence here early today (28) due to dip in blood pressure and is now stable, the hospital said.

The 94-year-old leader was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Kauvery Hospital around 1:30 am.

A bulletin issued at 8 pm said “former Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s health condition continues to remain stable with ongoing active medical support.

He is continuously being monitored and treated by the panel of expert doctors in the ICU.”

Earlier the hospital said he was admitted after his blood pressure had dropped.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M.Karunanidhi’s Health Condition Stabilises While Party Supporters Chant “long live Thalaivar” (leader) and “meendu vaa thalaiva,” (come back leader)Outside Kauvery Hospital in Chennai’ »

Bewildered by President Sirisena’s Remarks about “Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga” Project, Prof.G.L.Peiris Seeks Clarification About Factual Position From Foreign Ministry’s External Resources Division.

(Former Cabinet Minister and Sri Lanka Podu Jana Party Chairman Prof.G.L.Peiris has written a letter to the External Resources Division of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry Seeking Factual Information About the Moragahakanda Kaluganga Multi-purpose Development Project.The full text of the letter is as follows)

The Director General,
Department of External Resources,
Secretariat Building,
Colombo 01

Dear Sir,

Factual Information Regarding ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ Multipurpose Development Project

I wish to invite your attention to the remarks made by His ExcellencyPresident Maithripala Sirisena at the ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose irrigation project ceremony held on 23rdJuly 2018.As a citizen of Sri Lanka and alsoas Chairman of the Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna (SLPP) and Former Minister of External Affairsof the Government of Sri Lanka, Iam keen to know the factual position regarding the implementation of ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose project in the backdrop of these remarks. His Excellency the President declared to the public at thisceremony that the project implementation and financing was not done by the Department of External Resources and that the benefit of having access to water,particularly to the people in poverty-stricken districts, had been denied by the previous government.

Continue reading ‘Bewildered by President Sirisena’s Remarks about “Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga” Project, Prof.G.L.Peiris Seeks Clarification About Factual Position From Foreign Ministry’s External Resources Division.’ »

China Moves Northward and India Moves Southward in Sri Lanka in Open Display of Geo-Political Competition Between Beijing and New Delhi in the Island.

By
Meera Srinivasan

The geopolitical contest between India and China in Sri Lanka is no secret, but it has never been as blatant as was seen in developments last week.

Cabinet spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne, in a recent media briefing, spoke of Sri Lanka having to “balance” the two powers, in the context of China holding a majority stake in the southern Hambantota port, and a proposed joint venture giving India a 70% stake in running the nearby Mattala airport.

Sri Lankans were hardly surprised by Mr. Senaratne’s comments, which simply reflected Colombo’s challenge in this “balancing act” with its immediate neighbour and a willing lender. How this played out at the Cabinet meeting the previous day is more significant.

Continue reading ‘China Moves Northward and India Moves Southward in Sri Lanka in Open Display of Geo-Political Competition Between Beijing and New Delhi in the Island.’ »

Suspension of UK Parliamentarian Ian Paisley Exposes Efforts Taken to Assist Cover-up of Sri Lankan Bloodbath

By Steve James

Britain’s House of Commons Standards Committee has suspended Ian Paisley, Jr., Member of Parliament for the North Antrim constituency in Northern Ireland, for 30 days from September 4. Paisley was found to have committed “serious misconduct” by actions “of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute.” Paisley is only one of three MPs to be suspended for this length of time since 1949.

The move imperils the fragile British government of Theresa May, dependent as it is for a parliamentary majority on Paisley’s party, the right wing pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley has even been suspended from the DUP itself, “pending further investigation.”

He is also likely to be the first sitting British MP ever to face a recall by-election challenge. Under the terms of the Recall of Parliament Act, recall petitions must be available for his constituents in North Antrim to sign for six weeks. If 10 percent of voters favour a recall by-election, it must be held unless a general election is less than six months away.

The standards committee found that Paisley failed to register two lavish holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. According to the committee, the 2013 trips involved “business-class air travel, accommodation at first-class hotels, helicopter trips and visits to tourist attractions for Mr. Paisley and his wider family.”

Continue reading ‘Suspension of UK Parliamentarian Ian Paisley Exposes Efforts Taken to Assist Cover-up of Sri Lankan Bloodbath’ »

Refusal to Change Political Attitudes Even After 35 Years is a Greater Shame Than the Darkness of “Black July”

By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Many articles appeared in the newspapers week to mark the 35th anniversary of the communal pogrom of July 1983 in Sri Lanka, commonly known as’ Black July’ riots. It was the illustrious editor and political analyst of international fame, the late Mervyn de Silva who coined the term ‘Black July’ in his now defunct magazine ‘Lanka Guardian’.

The anti -Tamil violence that spread all over the island three and a half decades ago was a watershed in the history of Sri Lankan politics, and in the relations between the Sinhalese, the majority community, and the largest minority community, the Tamils.

Nothing could ever again be the same. It was not merely the enormity of the violence that astonished everybody, but the fact that it had really happened.

The number of those who were killed in the violence that spread over more than a week was estimated to be in the region of 3,000, while there was no proper estimation of the damage to property.

Continue reading ‘Refusal to Change Political Attitudes Even After 35 Years is a Greater Shame Than the Darkness of “Black July”’ »

Five Myths and Related Facts About China’s Much Talked About Loans to Sri Lanka.

By
Daniel Alphonsus

MYTH 1: Chinese lending is commercial.

FACT:Since 2012 most Chinese lending is concessionary.

In the last five years Sri Lanka’s loans from China EXIM Bank, amounting to 3.1 billion dollars, were all concessionary – fixed at 2%.Sri Lanka also borrowed 400 million dollars from China Development Bank in 2014 at near commercial rates (roughly between 3-5% ).

For context, Sri Lanka’s borrowings from international markets are more expensive, generally over 5%. On the other hand,China’s concessionary finance is still a fair bit dearer than World Bank, ADB or JICA loans. For example, interest payments on the one billion dollar Hambantota port cost about 25 million dollars per year while interest for the JICA funded 1.7 billion dollar LRT is expected to cost 17 million per year. This difference is not minor. Over the years small annual payments can add up. So far, Sri Lanka has paid 31 million dollars in interest alone for the 200 million dollar Mattala airport.

Continue reading ‘Five Myths and Related Facts About China’s Much Talked About Loans to Sri Lanka.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Tells Colombo Based Senior Tamil Journalists That His Vision Of Economic Empowerment of All Communities Could Provide the Basis of a Political Solution


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Thursday (July 26) told Colombo-based senior Tamil print and electronic journalists that countrywide economic empowerment was the key to post-war stability.

Rajapaksa stressed the pivotal importance of economic empowerment of all communities, particularly those who had been denied of opportunities due to the conflict.

Chairman of the civil society organization Viyathmaga, Rajapaksa said so when the Tamil media sought his views on a gamut of issues, ranging from the status of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution enacted consequent to the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord to the government responsibility in respect of squatters.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Tells Colombo Based Senior Tamil Journalists That His Vision Of Economic Empowerment of All Communities Could Provide the Basis of a Political Solution’ »

Responses to “New York Times”Article on Hambantota Port Show Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe are both Indisputable Exponents in the Art of Fashioning Post truths.

By

Sarath de Alwis

“When words lose their meaning and their capacity to bind those who use them, neither democracy nor the rule of law can long survive.” ― Jurisprudence scholar Austin Sarat

This essay is about the exposure in the New York Times and the two responses from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Political Leaders claim the power and the prerogative to alter reality to fit their purpose and serve their interests. Their public pronouncements are marked by their contempt for facts as such, and facts depend in their opinion , entirely on the power of the person who fabricates it.

This essential bit of wisdom is borrowed from Hannah Arndt’s seminal work“Origins of Totalitarianism” .

Oxford Dictionaries are the global leaders in the business of language usage. The editors of this respected repository of English usage observe the convention of deciding on what they call “The Word of the Year’. It is a word or expression that has attracted the greatest interest over the preceding 12 months.

When taken in the context of events in Sri Lanka, it seems, the distinguished editors of the Oxford Dictionaries are extremely percipient and accurate.

Continue reading ‘Responses to “New York Times”Article on Hambantota Port Show Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe are both Indisputable Exponents in the Art of Fashioning Post truths.’ »

Five Suspects in Alleged Plot to Assassinate TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran to be Served Indictments Under the PTA at the Colombo High Court on July 30th.


by

Anurangi Singh

The case filed regarding two attempts to assassinate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian, M.A. Sumanthiran will be taken up tomorrow, July 30 at the Colombo High Court to serve indictments on the suspects.

In January 2017, Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) reported to the Killinochchi Magistrate’s court that they had apprehended five suspects in connection with plotting the assassination of the Member of Parliament from the Jaffna District. The suspects, Karalasingham Kulendran, Gnanasekaralingam Rasmadan, Murugaiya Thawendran, Welayudan

Wijeyakumar and Lewis Mariyanagam Ajanthan were apprehended by the TID in 2017.

Continue reading ‘Five Suspects in Alleged Plot to Assassinate TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran to be Served Indictments Under the PTA at the Colombo High Court on July 30th.’ »

Justice for Those Who Have Suffered In This Country Must Cross Ethnic and Racial Boundaries From Paruthithurai (Pt Pedro) in North to Devinuwara(Dondra) in South.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

There is little doubt that the findings of United Nations Special Rapportuer on Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson on the sorry fate of Sri Lanka’s justice system, particularly in regard to the continuance of a ‘culture of impunity’ are significantly troubling.

‘A fate worse than death’

Reporting to the Human Rights Council earlier this week, the Special Rapportuer reflected on a recent visit to Sri Lanka with angst. He expressed serious apprehensions that ‘the most senior judge responsible for terrorism cases in Colombo informed the Special Rapporteur that in over ninety per cent of the cases he had dealt with so far in 2017, he had been forced to exclude essential evidence because it had been obtained through the use or threat of force’ (at paragraph 25). It was also pointed out that the National Human Rights Commission’s (HRCSL) view was that ‘torture in custody was widespread, systemic, institutionalised and formed a major priority in its work.’

A particular focus was that Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) pre-trial detainees languish in prison for years without being actually tried for an offence. According to the Emmerson report (at paragraph 15), reflecting statistics provided by the Office of the Attorney General, ‘out of 81 prisoners at the time in the judicial phase of their pretrial detention, 70 had been in detention without trial for over five years and 12 had been in detention without trial for over ten years.’

As he rightly notes, such lengthy administrative detention without judicial review violates rights. The risk of torture in these cases is correspondingly higher with eighty per cent of of those arrested under the PTA in late 2016 complaining of torture and physical ill-treatment (at paragraph 25).

Continue reading ‘Justice for Those Who Have Suffered In This Country Must Cross Ethnic and Racial Boundaries From Paruthithurai (Pt Pedro) in North to Devinuwara(Dondra) in South.’ »

Urgent Need to Restore State of Cricket To Its Former Glory in Sri Lanka.

By

Javid Yusuf

For a considerable period of time, the world associated Sri Lanka with tea. After the advent of Sirimavo Bandaranaike as the world’s first woman Prime Minister, Sri Lanka was identified with the Bandaranaike name. From 1996, when the country won the Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka has been synonymous with its achievements in Cricket.

Today, two decades after that pinnacle of achievement, we are struggling to stay at the top in the game which has unified the country, with the feats of our cricketers doing us proud. When Arjuna Ranatunge gently deflected the ball past slips to score the winning run in Lahore that famous day, all Sri Lankans stood up and cheered the team which, by sheer teamwork and the amazing leadership of the Sri Lanka skipper, achieved the impossible, comprehensively defeating the mighty Australians.

However, days after the victory, things began to unravel within the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) administration. Ana Punchihewa who had been at the helm of SLC, when it achieved its greatest success, found himself deposed from that position.

Very few raised the unfairness of such a change whereby, the head of the administration, at the time of victory, was replaced. And from that day onwards it has been ups and downs in the administration of SLC, with a scramble for positions within the Controlling body.

Continue reading ‘Urgent Need to Restore State of Cricket To Its Former Glory in Sri Lanka.’ »

5 Customs Officers at Katunayake Airport Hospitalised Due to Attack By 32 Year old Kuwaiti Woman and her 29 Year Old Male Partner:Woman Customs Officer Was Bitten by Woman When she Discovered Pet Dog Being Smuggled Inside

A Kuwaiti woman bit a woman customs officer and assaulted four others at the Bandaranaike international airport Friday when she was prevented from smuggling in a pet dog without quarantine.

The 32-year-old woman and her 29-year-old male partner went on the rampage attacking customs agents after they were told that their dog could not enter the country without following quarantine rules.

Continue reading ‘5 Customs Officers at Katunayake Airport Hospitalised Due to Attack By 32 Year old Kuwaiti Woman and her 29 Year Old Male Partner:Woman Customs Officer Was Bitten by Woman When she Discovered Pet Dog Being Smuggled Inside’ »

Ailing 94 Year old Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK)Leader Muttuvel Karunanidhi’s Health Condition is Improving Says Son M.K.Stalin.

By

S.Venkat Narayan

Political leaders cutting across party lines made a beeline on Friday for the residence of Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the 94-year-old ailing patriarch of the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Chennai, the party’s working chief and his son M.K. Stalin said his father’s condition is improving.

Continue reading ‘Ailing 94 Year old Ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK)Leader Muttuvel Karunanidhi’s Health Condition is Improving Says Son M.K.Stalin.’ »

The Stark Difference Between the Political Discourse of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Elect Imran Khan and Those of Sri Lanka’s Politicians and Aspirants to Political Leadership

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“That is my inspiration, that Pakistan should have that kind of humanitarian state, where we take responsibility for our weaker classes. The weak are dying of hunger. I will try my best – all of my policies will be made to raise our weaker classes, for our labourers … for our poor farmers…” –Imran Khan

Imran Khan’s victory in the Pakistani elections is of enormous and positive significance for all of us in South Asia. His win is of course in keeping with the global trend of the triumph of populism over the political establishment and old political parties being eclipsed by relatively new ones or ‘third force’ parties. Imran is usually described as ‘populist’, while his party the PTI is classified as ‘centrist’ and his own personal views on issues of religion is defined as ‘liberal’. That is a welcome combination that we have yet to see in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan politics and politicians as well as aspirant political leaders, from the Opposition and the Government, have much to learn from Imran Khan. If they want to know how to win given the global Zeitgeist, they must know which policies and profile to adopt and which are bound to fail. In this sense, Imran Khan provides an example for politicians throughout South Asia—an example of what wins elections and which kind of leader the people turn to in these troubled times.

While Imran Khan will be a first-time Prime Minister, and he was known to an earlier generation as a star of world cricket, he is in no sense a novice to politics and social issues. Holder of an Honors degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford, Imran retired from cricket, put into practice his concern for the poor by starting a cancer hospital in which 70% of the patients were poor and treated for free. He went on to build a second and follow it up with a university, both of which gave weightage to the poor. After building the cancer hospital, Imran went on to form his political party the PTI in 1996, which has finally won “after 22 years of struggle” as Imran said. He was twice elected to Pakistan’s Parliament.

In a long televised address claiming victory, Imran rolled out his policies and made solemn promises to the Pakistani people. What struck me was the stark difference between his discourse and those of Sri Lankan politicians and political aspirants today.

Continue reading ‘The Stark Difference Between the Political Discourse of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Elect Imran Khan and Those of Sri Lanka’s Politicians and Aspirants to Political Leadership’ »

Hambantota Port Project and Related Development Offers An Alternative to The Domination of Colombo and Its Mercantile Capitalist Elite.


By the Avocado Collective

Corruption is a luxury cruiser sailing exclusively outside Europe and non-Anglo waters, it seems, somehow finding safe harbour only in our parts of the world.

So it’s no surprise the recent New York Times (NYT) article, ‘How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough up a Port,’ muddies four distinct issues: Mahinda Rajapaksa’s alleged corruption, Sino-Lanka economic ties, alleged Chinese expansionism, and Magampura Port’s viability.

The NYT allegations and selective facts are blatant: Their estimates of ship arrivals to Hambantota use 2012 data, rather than the over-10-times higher 2017/18 figures. Imputations of China funding the Rajapaksa campaign repackage a now-buried tale first published by Lanka’s State-owned Daily News in 2015. A key informant for the piece is a recently-appointed Editor-in-Chief of state-owned Sunday Observer. Another, is the disgraced former Finance Minister of the doomed Yahapalanaya project.

Meanwhile, the former Government (now Opposition) denies being funded by China, and the current Government (former Opposition) denies pressure to “cough up” Magampura Port by China. So where does this all this back-and-forth respiratory rasping leave us? Cough-cough!

We need a historical and geopolitical clearing of the throat here. Let’s contextualise Hambantota’s erased history of suffering, the counter-hegemonic role played by China in the global economy, and Sri Lanka’s need for industrialisation.

Continue reading ‘Hambantota Port Project and Related Development Offers An Alternative to The Domination of Colombo and Its Mercantile Capitalist Elite.’ »

Tamil Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran Recalls His Experiences In Colombo During the Anti -Tamil Violence of August 1977 and July 1983.



By

Dimuthu Attanayake

TNA Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran, recalls being 19 years old when communal violence rocked the capital city in July 1983. Packed off to Jaffna where the Government thought Tamil families residing in Colombo and other parts of the south would be safer, he recalls an arduous four-day journey in a small cargo ship, with no food provisions on board. The memory of the communal riots has left a lasting legacy – the feeling that such attacks could happen at any time, because they were Tamils. Sumanthiran explains in a poignant interview with the Sunday Observer this week, as the country marks 35 years since horrendous violence was unleashed against people of his community

On the Morning of July 25, Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran, was a 19-year-old student preparing for his A/L Examinations. As a result he was at his home in Campbell Place, Dehiwala to pursue his studies. He recalls mobs arriving in broad daylight, carrying swords, poles and torches alike. These mobs were transported in vehicles and dropped off at different locations. “They had the electoral register in hand, they knew where the Tamils were, and they just went to these houses,” he says.

At the time there was a Buddhist temple down his road. The Viharadhipathy from this temple walked to the top of the road and stopped the mob, who then set fire to the first house, before leaving, the prominent Tamil legislator recalled in an interview last week. A second mob, which reached the lane from the bottom of the road in the afternoon, proceeded to attack several houses. Again, the monk appeared to stop them, Sumanthiran said. “Our house was left unscathed, but some people arrived again in the evening and threatened saying they will be back in the night. This compelled us to leave our house and take refuge in the house of then Chairman of the Insurance Corporation, Chanaka De Silva, who was my father’s boss,” he says.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran Recalls His Experiences In Colombo During the Anti -Tamil Violence of August 1977 and July 1983.’ »

The countdown of generational first-hand stories: ‘Black July’ 35 years later

by Thiru K. Thirukumaran

Here we are again at another anniversary of the pogrom in Sri Lanka known as ‘Black July’.

The violence was a harbinger that dissipated Tamil life in the city of Colombo especially, and to the generation of that my father. It escalating a brutal war along with triggering an island-wide mass migration of Tamils for 30 plus years is history.

My father’s generation was an important component and formed a significantly affluent presence in the other ways also diverse as Tamils living in Colombo. The generation of my father, having been born in the north during pre-independence Ceylon or shortly thereafter, then notably in vast numbers moved to Colombo. There they built their professional education/career/entrepreneurship, family, indulging in the arts and spiritual part of their enriched lives. And they are diminishing in number in the capital city nowadays.
Continue reading ‘The countdown of generational first-hand stories: ‘Black July’ 35 years later’ »

What Does New Delhi Hope To Achieve By Acquiring the “World’s Emptiest Airport ” In Mattala?


By

P.K.Balachandran

Over the past year, as India kept making a bid to acquire the Mattala airport in South Sri Lanka, which is universally derided as the “World’s Emptiest Airport” with little or no traffic, many have wondered why New Delhi wants to buy into a failed enterprise with little or no perceivable prospect of turning the corner.

Some said it was a vain move to “match” and “checkmate” China’s growing influence in Sri Lanka. Many wondered if India can ever go to war with China over some military activity by the latter in Hambantota when, nearer home in Doklam on the Bhutan-China border, it scrupulously avoid going to war and settled the matter diplomatically and quietly, only letting the media spew fire and brimstone.

Continue reading ‘What Does New Delhi Hope To Achieve By Acquiring the “World’s Emptiest Airport ” In Mattala?’ »

Destruction of the Valuable Jaffna library by State Sponsored Goon Squads in 1981 Liquidated the Heart of Knowledge, Identity and Culture of a People.

By

Dr.Sudharshan Seneviratne

(Text of Speech delivered by Sudharshan Seneviratne (Emeritus Professor. University of Peradeniya) at the 58th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Library Association. Colombo on June 29th 2018)

Thank you for extending an invitation to share quality time with custodians of knowledge and information to our nation. It is also my privilege to dedicate this talk to the memory of the late Ian Goonatilleke, dear friend, intellectual and librarian par excellence. Each time I walk in to the central library at the University of Peradeniya memories of Ian, his smile, warmth and argumentative dialogues are yet embedded in my mind to this day.

The professional organization of librarians in Sri Lanka, founded in 1974, is now the apex body for the Library and Information Sciences. It is a relatively young organization but a critical cog keeping memory alive. Sadly, memory loss seems to be part of our national psyche at present. Memory as a vital role is echoed in the words of the late Sivanandan as he inscribed the prophetic words, “When memory dies, a people die”.

Academics, researchers, concerned citizens, students and children, the world over, are indebted to the professional Librarians. You are entrusted with the noble profession of protecting, preserving and sustaining repositories of information and knowledge to humanity. Protecting knowledge is an integral component, so essential to any civilized culture. The SLLA that has rendered a valued silent service preserving and curating information through their skills as an asset to humanity under trying and challenging circumstances. They have relentlessly engaged themselves enhancing their commitment and professionalism to face transformations and demands of the present Millennium and globalization.

Continue reading ‘Destruction of the Valuable Jaffna library by State Sponsored Goon Squads in 1981 Liquidated the Heart of Knowledge, Identity and Culture of a People.’ »

Praiseworthy Response of Civil Society Towards Unjust Accusation Against Human Rights Commission Chair Dr.Deepika Udagama by Rear Admiral(Retd) Sarath Weerasekera.

By

Jayatilleke de Silva

Last week was one of hope and despair. Hope because a group of academics came out boldly in defence of the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) who was unjustly accused of being “an agent of the Tamil Diaspora”, “an LTTE agent” and ‘a traitor”.

Despair was on account of the emotionally charged and politically motivated attack on the academics, the Chairperson of the HRCSL and all citizens who differ in their opinion. That is shown in the rejoinder sent by Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera turned politician sent to the media.

The Chairperson of the HRCSL Dr. Deepika Udagama has in a press interview clarified the position of the HRCSL in this regard. The two statements –one by Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera and the other by Dr. Deepika Udagama stand out clearly in contrast. The former is emotionally charged, politically motivated, unrestrained and far from polite while the latter is an unemotional intellectual and restrained response. The two statements differ even in their tone and language, the latter being more decent and diplomatic than the former.

Continue reading ‘Praiseworthy Response of Civil Society Towards Unjust Accusation Against Human Rights Commission Chair Dr.Deepika Udagama by Rear Admiral(Retd) Sarath Weerasekera.’ »

Vijayakala’s Nostalgic Outburst About the LTTE and Current Reality in the North and East


By

Dr.Nirmala Chandrahasan

The speech by the former State Minister of Children’s Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran has been magnified in the media as a call by her for the return of an LTTE administration to maintain law and order and secure the safety of women in the North.

I have used the term outburst because the content of the speech is not in the form of a considered statement and is more in the nature of an emotional outburst. The sexual abuse and murder of a six-year-old child and another incident mentioned by the ex-Minister had evidently put her into an emotional state where she hit out at her own Government’s inability to maintain law and order and made her mindful of an earlier period when discipline was strongly enforced, and she suggested the revival of the LTTE as the panacea.

My objective, however, is to point out that she and others like her seemed to have missed the elephant in the room, which is the community in which these crimes are being committed and the need to try and reform this community. In this instance for example the crime itself was not committed by outsiders but by the child’s own 22-year-old relative. While the police, no doubt have a responsibility to maintain law and order, they cannot be expected to be in charge of or control the moral values and behaviour of the larger community in which these crimes take place. Vijayakala also refers to widespread drug use and alcohol imbibing prevalent in the north and refers to politicians as bringing these items into the society.

Obviously all these factors are interconnected with the prevalent sexual abuses and assaults as well as gang violence and robberies.

Continue reading ‘Vijayakala’s Nostalgic Outburst About the LTTE and Current Reality in the North and East’ »

Why the “Vice -Captain” Dinesh Gunawardena Should Be Given the “Captaincy” of Being Nominated as the Common Opposition Candidate at the Next Presidential Election.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Sri Lanka won the cricket World Cup once, but never again. We started down the slippery slope almost the morning after we had reached the zenith of achievement. That was because we dismantled the winning combination which included Ana Punchihewa and Davnell Whatmore. The most crucial mistake we made was in the succession. The captaincy should have automatically devolved upon the vice-captain, who was one of the world’s best batsmen at the time; perhaps THE best. That was Aravinda de Silva. He was allowed to captain only sporadically.

The same mistake is being made by the Sri Lankan Opposition. In a situation in which the captain and commander-in chief of the national opposition, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, cannot run for Presidential office, the obvious front runner in the choice of candidacy should be the vice-captain. There can be no question as to who the vice-captain is because the country’s citizenry sees it every night on TV news, whenever there is footage from the center of the nation’s political life, the parliament. And that man, that vice-captain, is Dinesh Gunawardena.

Now the obvious question arises as to why, though I had been mentioning Dinesh’s name for years, I had suggested Gotabhaya as candidate at one time—and why I no longer do so. I did not push early on for Dinesh though I kept dropping his name, because I remembered what another political family had done to a worthy successor who was outside the family. My father, Mervyn de Silva, was perceived as even closer to the SLFP’s Deputy Leader and the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Maithripala Senanayaka, than he was to Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike. I therefore had a ringside seat watching the rise and fall of Maithripala, a left of center populist who had progressive views on foreign policy and was supported by the Left within the coalition. When Mrs. Bandaranaike’s civic rights had been removed and she was unable to contest the Presidential election of 1982, Maithripala, if given the SLFP candidacy, might have won. Instead he was overlooked, and double-crossed by his political ally Anura Bandaranaike. Hector Kobbekaduwa, a distant cousin of the Bandaranaikes, was chosen instead, but he too was backstabbed by the Bandaranaikes as was his ally and Mrs. Bandaranaike’s son-in-law Vijaya Kumaratunga himself.

Continue reading ‘Why the “Vice -Captain” Dinesh Gunawardena Should Be Given the “Captaincy” of Being Nominated as the Common Opposition Candidate at the Next Presidential Election.’ »

Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s “Davena Vihagun” (Burning Birds) is an Authentically Realistic Film

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Filmmaker Sanjeewa Pushpakumara is a bright star in the cinematic firmament of Sri Lanka. His second feature film ‘Davena Vihagun’ (Burning Birds) is currently being screened in Sri Lanka. The film completed in 2016 has been shown at several international film festivals over the past two years.

Just like Pushpakumara’s first film ‘Igillenna Maaluwo’ (Flying Fish), his second feature film too has earned much kudos internationally. The jewel in the crown was the Grand Prix award for Best Film at the 15th International Film Festival and Forum on Human rights (FIFDH) in Geneva.
Continue reading ‘Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s “Davena Vihagun” (Burning Birds) is an Authentically Realistic Film’ »

Seizure of “Tiger” Arsenal in Oddusuddaan Revives Fears of Another LTTE Revival Attempt

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The 21 km long Puthukkudiyiruppu – Oddusuddaan road progressing through the hinterland of North – Eastern Mullaitheevu district, links Puthukkudiyiruppu on the A- 35 Paranthan – Mullaitheevu highway and Oddusuddaan on the A -34 Mankulam – Mullaitheevu highway. It was along this road that a trusted deputy of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran was killed by the deep penetration squad of the Sri Lankan armed forces on September 26th 2001. Vaithilingam Sornalingam alias “Col”Shankar the founder-chief of the tiger air wing was killed by a claymore mine hung on a tree as he was driving his two-seater four wheeler pick up vehicle alone. The killing caused shock waves amidst LTTE circles as it demonstrated the fact that the armed forces were capable of infiltrating the heartland of tiger – controlled territory and inflicting lethal damage.

The time was around 4.45 am on Friday June 22nd 2018 when a three-wheeler proceeded northwards along the 21 km Puthukkudiyiruppu-Oddusuddaan road towards the direction of Puthukkudiyiruppu. The blue three-wheeler bearing the No NP JY 8007 was signalled to stop at the Paeraaru Junction by four Policemen attached to the Oddusuddaan police station. They were Sgt Niranjan and Constables Ekanayake, Thinesh and Ratnayake.It was simply a random check to ascertain whether the driver had proper identification and authorisation documents. Initially the vehicle drove up speedily as if it intended defying the Police signal. However it suddenly screeched to a stop.
Continue reading ‘Seizure of “Tiger” Arsenal in Oddusuddaan Revives Fears of Another LTTE Revival Attempt’ »

Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Head Dr.Deepika Udagama Welcomes Constructive Criticism But Strongly Condemns Attempt to De-legitimze SLHRC Through The Prism of Ethnic Politics and Patriotism.

By Namini Wijedasa

The Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) Chair Deepika Udagama this week denounced what she said were sinister efforts to interfere with the work of her institution and to bully it into adopting specific positions.

In recent weeks, the HRC–and, in particular, its Chair–was targeted by nationalist politicians. The attacks were so inflammatory that the Prime Minister’s office issued a statement on Thursday underlining that the HRC was appointed under the country’s constitution to function as an independent entity. It is a serious issue, it held, to publicly threaten the HRC’s Chairperson.

Dr Udagama, who specializes in international human rights law, was also backed by civil society groups.

They decried statements “akin to death threats, violence and hate speech” against her, in particular by Rear Admiral (Rtd) Sarath Weerasekera, former Director General of the Civil Defence Force. After personally criticizing the HRC’s chair, he called for the death penalty to be imposed on “traitors”.

“I think it’s very important to point out that we are not opposed to criticism,” Dr. Udagama said, in an interview with the Sunday Times. “That’s a fact of life, especially in human rights work. But these (attacks) are of a different nature because you can clearly see a motive to delegitimize the Commission through the prism of ethnic politics and patriotism.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Head Dr.Deepika Udagama Welcomes Constructive Criticism But Strongly Condemns Attempt to De-legitimze SLHRC Through The Prism of Ethnic Politics and Patriotism.’ »

41 Page Confidential Report Compiled by South Africa Based International Truth and Justice Project Claims UN has Deployed Alleged War Criminals from Sri Lanka as Peace Keepers.


By
Mark Townsend

The UN has been sending alleged war criminals to act as peacekeepers in conflict zones, a confidential report claims.

The document, seen by the Observer, and sent to the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations last month, claims that senior Sri Lankan officers accused of war crimes have been deployed to UN operations in Mali, Lebanon, Darfur and South Sudan.

Drawn up by the South-Africa based International Truth and Justice Project, the 41-page document, marked confidential, claims a cohort of senior Sri Lankan commanders who have been deployed to UN operations were involved in alleged abuses during the final phase of war with Tamil rebels in 2009.

Continue reading ‘41 Page Confidential Report Compiled by South Africa Based International Truth and Justice Project Claims UN has Deployed Alleged War Criminals from Sri Lanka as Peace Keepers.’ »

Constitutional Reforms and the Constitution Making Exercise From a Northern Perspective.


By

M.A. Sumanthiran


(This article is an excerpt of a keynote speech on April 3, 2018 at the Research Congress, Inaugural session of the Post Graduate Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Peradeniya)

The topic given to me is about constitutional reforms and the constitution making exercise from a Northern perspective, and looking at it from a Northern perspective, I think this whole exercise is nearing a century, and we still haven’t resolved it.

If I had to take our minds back to the time this whole exercise began in the early 1900s – the attempt at independence, or at a different status to this British Colony, was being explored. The Ceylon National Congress pursued that. But it was in 1911, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam started a separate movement called ‘The Tamil League’. So there started a division in the polity of this island. Not that this island had been always one single unit. It was only in 1833 after the Colebrooke-Cameron Reform Proposals that the island was made one administrative unit for administrative convenience. Until 1833 it was administered as three different units. As you in Kandy know, Kandy ceded to the British the last in 1815. Prior to that, the other two kingdoms at different times had fallen to the different colonial conquerors. But after the British took over the whole island in 1815, it was decided by the British that this island must be administered as one unit.

I have often wondered how it would have been if they’d made a different decision. They could have made two different decisions. One, they could have decided to continue as three separate units. Or, they could have decided to annex the island of Ceylon as part of the Empire in India. Both were quite plausible. But they decided to rule Ceylon as a separate entity. So this decision could have gone either that way, or, if there was no Colebrooke-Cameron proposal they could have continued as three separate units.

So it’s due to an accident of history, or rather a decision made in St. James’ Court, that we became one unit in modern times. Be that as it may, in 1926 the idea of a constitution for Ceylon, as it was being discussed, received a new idea from the Oxford returnee, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. He wrote six letters to the Ceylon Morning Leader newspaper then, arguing that the best model for Ceylon was a Federal Arrangement. He was the first proponent of the Federal idea publicly like that. I have read those six letters. In one he even says that the model of the federal arrangement must be that which is extant in Switzerland. And as you know, Switzerland is actually a confederation. Twenty six Cantons and power is devolved more in Switzerland than in any other federal arrangement. He did not stop with writing six letters to the newspapers. He went to Jaffna and delivered a lecture – just as I’m doing today here in Kandy, coming from Jaffna – he went to Jaffna and delivered a lecture promoting Federalism. He tried to sell the idea of Federalism to Jaffna in 1926, all in the same year. Of course Jaffna was not ready to accept it.

Continue reading ‘Constitutional Reforms and the Constitution Making Exercise From a Northern Perspective.’ »

President Sirisena Determined to Go Ahead With His “Hang ’em High” Plans Despite National and International Opposition to Re-imposing Capital Punishment.

Sri Lanka is firm on executing convicted drug dealers, and will brook no opposition President Maithripala Sirisena said as civil liberties groups and several European countries warned against resuming hangings.

The work on resuming the death penalty will go ahead whatever the opposition there is, a statement from President’s office quoted him as saying.

A meeting of prison, judicial and legal officers had been called for next Tuesday to discuss execution.

A committee will then be appointed who will decide on the persons to be executed and the dates, he had said at the foundation laying ceremony of a hospital which will specialize on kidney diseases, gifted by China.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Determined to Go Ahead With His “Hang ’em High” Plans Despite National and International Opposition to Re-imposing Capital Punishment.’ »

Can The Cities In Sri Lanka Be Regarded as “Women -Friendly” Cities?

By Ajita Kadirgamar

Cities are home to all citizens — men, women, children, the elderly and the differently- abled. This past week I attended a presentation and panel discussion on ‘Women-Friendly Cities Challenge’ hosted by the National Chamber of Commerce and World University Service Canada (WUSC) with support from the newly- formed non-profit Stand By Me LK. Originally launched in 2006, the Women Friendly Cities United Nations Joint Programme shares wise practices from all over the world to help make cities more women-friendly.

The term ‘women-friendly cities’ was not properly defined at the outset, in my opinion, which led me to raise my hand.So, by definition “Women-friendly cities are those cities where all the residents of that particular city can equally benefit from the financial, social and political opportunities presented before them.”

Continue reading ‘Can The Cities In Sri Lanka Be Regarded as “Women -Friendly” Cities?’ »

UNESCO Warns Sri Lanka That World Heritage Site Status Given to Dambulla Cave Temple,Siharaja Rain Forest and Galle Fort Precincts Will Be Abolished if They are not Preserved Properly.

By

Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana

UNESCO has warned that it will remove the world heritage status given to Sinharaja, Dambulla and Galle Fort if they are not preserved properly, National Heritage Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told Parliament.

The minister made this statement during a heated argument on the proposed demolition of the Mahinda Rajapaksa pavilion at the International Cricket Stadium in Galle.

“We have decided to demolish the pavilion because UNESCO has mentioned that unauthorised structures in the Galle Fort are not removed. However, we will not demolish the entire stadium,” he said.

Continue reading ‘UNESCO Warns Sri Lanka That World Heritage Site Status Given to Dambulla Cave Temple,Siharaja Rain Forest and Galle Fort Precincts Will Be Abolished if They are not Preserved Properly.’ »

Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Showed Lack of Good Judgement By Accepting Sponsorship Funds From Tainted Perpetual Treasuries Ltd To Hold 2016 Law Asia Conference



By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The fact that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) had accepted sponsorship from tainted primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries for the holding of the 2016 Law Asia conference led to incredulous responses in some quarters when this fact was initially disclosed some weeks ago.

Before long however and in the nature of all things in this country, this was allowed to gently slip by into the ether of forgetfulness, even as the incumbent in the post of the President of the Bar sought to pass the disclosure off with an airy shrug and the explanation that this sponsorship (accepted prior to his term) was nothing extraordinary and that the funds were legally accounted for.


Integrity of the funding

But make no mistake that this explanation is, by itself, quite extraordinary, quite apart from the very fact of the sponsorship. The main issue here is not the legal accounting of the funds or indeed, who signed off on the acceptance thereof and conflicts of interests arising or not as the case may be. And at no point was an allegation made that the fund had been swindled by the Bar. The question is far more minimalistic.

It concerns the integrity of the funding being given in the first instance and the suspect connections of the man behind the sponsorship, now led out periodically in handcuffs for court hearings.Regardless of protests therein, it must surely be accepted that this was no ‘ordinary scam’, this was no ordinarily deviant businessman and certainly, this was not like any other sponsorship quite apart from the question as to whether the funds were solicited/canvassed or accepted along with other sponsors.

Continue reading ‘Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Showed Lack of Good Judgement By Accepting Sponsorship Funds From Tainted Perpetual Treasuries Ltd To Hold 2016 Law Asia Conference’ »

Information Obtained Throught RTI Petition Shows Sri Lankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer Suren Ratwatte Was Getting 3.27 Million Rupees Monthly Salary With Benefits Like Vehicle With Driver,Fuel Costs and Club Membership etc

By Namini Wijedasa

A year-long effort by the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka (APGSL) to secure details of salaries, allowances and other benefits of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Head of Human Resources and the Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan has borne fruit, with the details being released to the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) this Tuesday.

Also released were the cost of personal flying training of the CEO; agreement for the wet lease of one of SriLankan’s A330 aircraft to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA); agreements cancelling leases on A350-900 aircraft taken by SriLankan from Aercap; and minutes of board meetings that discussed and approved the purchase and lease of several A350 aircraft.

The RTIC had directed SriLankan to redact what is sought to be withheld on the basis of commercial confidence sections of reports commissioned by the airline from aviation specialists Nyras Ltd, SeaWorks Training and Consulting, and Seabury Consulting. These will be submitted to the Commission to be scrutinised for conformity with the RTI Act after August 21, 2018. The RTIC will make its assessment by September 11.

Continue reading ‘Information Obtained Throught RTI Petition Shows Sri Lankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer Suren Ratwatte Was Getting 3.27 Million Rupees Monthly Salary With Benefits Like Vehicle With Driver,Fuel Costs and Club Membership etc’ »

“Story Being Spread That Suren Fernando, Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne and I Drafted the Expert Panel Constitution Draft Document is Entirely False” – M. A. Sumanthiran MP

By

M.A.Sumanthiran


(Text of Speech by M A Sumanthiran, MP in Parliament on 20th July 2018 in Response to recent allegations made regarding Experts Panel Report of Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee)

I have obtained permission to make a personal explanation in view of certain statements made in this House yesterday while I was not here, with regard to the work of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly. As everyone knows, there were ten experts appointed to advise the Steering Committee, and all of these appointments were made unanimously by the Constitutional Assembly. That Panel of Experts was requested by the Steering Committee, on the 16th of November 2017, to submit a document to facilitate the Steering Committee to prepare a Draft Constitution. It is the Steering Committee that is tasked with the preparation of a Draft Constitution according to the Resolution adopted by Parliament unanimously, and the Panel of Experts was asked to submit a document to facilitate that process.

Hon. Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne and I, as Co-Chairs of the Management Committee, were tasked with coordinating some of the work of the Secretariat. In January this year, at the meeting of the Panel of Experts, it was decided that different groups that were appointed will make first drafts of certain chapters and then the whole Panel of Experts will meet together and discuss it and finalize the document. One expert was asked to consolidate everything together, having got all of these reports from these different panels by the end of January. By the end of January, the work had not been done by any of the panels and therefore, that expert was asked to make a first draft.

As you all know, if you are preparing a document, ten people can’t sit together, hold hands together and write the document. Generally one or two make a first draft and the others then discuss it and agree. This process went on for a long time and around May, six experts had agreed on one document. But, with regard to the information that was required by the Steering Committee, there was another process that was ongoing and that document was not ready.

Nevertheless, in May, the Steering Committee gave the Panel of Expertsonemonth’s time – they wanted two weeks’ time – but the Steering Committee gave them one month’s time to present this document. But even at the end of two months thereafter, it was not ready and at the Steering Committee meeting held two days ago, two documents were presented by the Panel of Experts. One of those documents was by six of the ten experts. The other document was by two of the experts. The other two did not subscribe to either document.

Continue reading ‘“Story Being Spread That Suren Fernando, Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne and I Drafted the Expert Panel Constitution Draft Document is Entirely False” – M. A. Sumanthiran MP’ »

Does “No Quorum” For China Funding Nahinda Election Campaign Issue Debate in Parliament Indicate That MPs on Both Sides of the House are not Interested in Clean Government and Politics?

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

There were no Members of Parliament from the Medamulana Raja Pavula when the New York Times report of China funding the last Mahinda Rajapaksa presidential poll was debated in Parliament this week.

The quorum bell had a weird and crooked ring when it failed to gather enough members to continue the debate on an issue the Joint Opposition was largely avoiding. What was worse was that the Government, elected on a pledge to fight and eliminate the corruption of the Rajapaksa Regime, could not find enough members – just 20 – to form a quorum for this debate.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was in Singapore. Had he gone there to meet Arjuna Mahendran, who as Governor of the Central Bank stopped the initial inquiry into this Chinese company payment to the national presidential poll? There is plenty of the stuff of corruption that MR and Arjuna Mahendran could share, the related corruptions running into mountains of millions. Those absent included former Speaker and brother Chamal, and son Namal Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Does “No Quorum” For China Funding Nahinda Election Campaign Issue Debate in Parliament Indicate That MPs on Both Sides of the House are not Interested in Clean Government and Politics?’ »

“The Search For a Humanistic Worldview is Not Only Some Ideal Exercise But a Very Practical Answer To The Global Crisis Of Today” – Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

(Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, who has been nominated as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia, participated as a panelist at the international conference on “21st Century, Towards the New Humanism” on 23rd January 2012 at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture.Dr. Jayatilleka’s speech was delivered during the first session chaired by Mr. Hans d’Orville (Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning of UNESCO)

Speaking on New Humanism Ambassador Jayatilleka emphasized on the need to place the human being at the center: “[…] humanism is the closest we can get to universal good, to a universal idea. Humanism puts the human being at the center. And placing the human being at the center means to recognize that above all else, beyond national, ethnic, political, civilizational, religious, systemic, and ideological differences, one thing unites us and that is that we are all human.”

In his full speech at the Russian Centre in Paris, Dr. Jayatilleka said:

“My thanks to the Russian Cultural Centre but also to UNESCO. I am particularly thankful to the Russian Cultural Centre because Russian culture, as Ambassador Ion de la Riva said with reference to Russian literature and Tolstoy in particular, is profoundly humanistic. I would also like to make the point that Russian political ideas have had a strong streak of humanism. We think of Herzen, we think of the Decembrists and we understand that a progressive, rational, radical humanism was very much part of Russian ideas.

Continue reading ‘“The Search For a Humanistic Worldview is Not Only Some Ideal Exercise But a Very Practical Answer To The Global Crisis Of Today” – Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka’ »

18 Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Deported From Australia Were Arested Upon Arrival, Produced in Courts For Leaving the Country Illegally and Released on Bail.

A Sri Lankan deported by Australia even though his partner had refugee status there was charged upon his return with illegally leaving his home country.

Thileepan Gnaneswaran, who was separated from his wife and 11-month-old daughter, arrived in Colombo Tuesday along with another 17 who had also their asylum applications rejected by Australia.

“They were taken before a magistrate and released on personal bail,” a senior police official told AFP.

“They were charged under the immigration law for leaving the country from a place other than an approved port.”

Continue reading ‘18 Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Deported From Australia Were Arested Upon Arrival, Produced in Courts For Leaving the Country Illegally and Released on Bail.’ »

TNA Leader Sampanthan Remains “Silent” While Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Continues With Controversial Utterances and Action.

By

P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s Tamil leaders are pulling in different directions on crucial issues of common concern to the Tamils of the island.

The Chief Minister of the Tamil majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, is stubbornly adhering to his position that a political solution of the Tamil question should precede economic development.

Giving priority to economic development schemes while going slow on the search for a political solution is like putting the cart before the horse, he says.

Wigneswaran recently wrote to President Maithripala Sirisena saying that he does not want to be part of the Task Force on Economic Development of the North and East, because the Committee is packed with Central government officials and ministers. Local elected representatives, barring himself, have been kept out.

Wigneswaran slammed the Cental government for drawing up economic development schemes without prior consultations with the provincial administration and elected representatives.

But the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led by R.Sampanthan has been silent on the actions and utterances of the Northern Chief Minister though he is part of the TNA.

Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Sampanthan Remains “Silent” While Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Continues With Controversial Utterances and Action.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Refutes Alleged “Fake News” Being Circulated Over Social Media That He had been Appointed Presidential Candidate by Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Debunking what seems to be fake news circulating in social media, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not issued any statement on the Joint Opposition’s Presidential candidate for 2020.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Refutes Alleged “Fake News” Being Circulated Over Social Media That He had been Appointed Presidential Candidate by Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Issues Clarification Stating That His Sinhala Newspaper Interview About Capital Punishment Had Been Mistranslated in English and That He Like Pope Francis Opposes The Death Penalty

Amidst continuing controversy over the proposed implementation of capital punishment to curb the narcotic trade, the Catholic Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has said that the resumption of judicial execution should be the last option, if at all.

The Sri Lankan Church Leader said that the Holy Father Pope Francis has not accepted the death penalty which is also his own position invariably.


The following is the full text of the statement:

CLARIFICATION

My attention has been drawn to reports and comments appearing in the print and social media concerning an interview I have given on the decision by His Excellency the President and the Cabinet, to introduce a limited application of the death penalty to certain types of prisoners, whose activities are detrimental to national security, safety and the concerns of the future generations.

Unfortunately, especially in the English language media, the interview given in the Sinhala language and which appeared in the Lankadeepa newspaper of 13th July 2018 has not been correctly studied and presented and thus the public seems to have thought that I am in favour of the death penalty in general.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Issues Clarification Stating That His Sinhala Newspaper Interview About Capital Punishment Had Been Mistranslated in English and That He Like Pope Francis Opposes The Death Penalty’ »

British MP Ian Paisley who Received Two Family Holidays Funded by Sri Lanka Under Pressure to do the “Honourable Thing” and Resign from Parliament.

A Democratic Unionist MP in the UK is facing calls to quit after a watchdog recommended his suspension from the House of Commons for failing to register two family holidays funded by the Sri Lankan government.

Ian Paisley had already apologised for what he said was his “unintentional failure” to register the hospitality, which he estimated was worth £50,000.

Politicians from across the political divide in Northern Ireland have called on the high-profile MP to stand down.

The 30-day suspension recommended by a parliamentary watchdog on Wednesday could force Paisley to face a by-election.

Members who are suspended from the Commons for more than 10 days are open to a recall petition.

A by-election would be triggered if 10% of the electorate in Paisley’s North Antrim constituency sign that petition.

If rubber stamped by Parliament, the suspension will also mean Prime Minister Theresa May will be shorn of one of the 10 DUP MPs propping up her minority government during a period that could see a number of crucial Brexit votes in the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said Paisley should do the “honourable thing” and quit.

“I think the charges made against him and findings against him are very serious,” she said.

“I would imagine his constituents in North Antrim, and certainly public opinion across Ireland, would expect that having been sanctioned in the way he’s been sanctioned then he should do the honourable thing and step down.”

The SDLP said Mr Paisley’s position was “untenable”.

Party Assembly member Colin McGrath said a 30-day suspension was not enough.

“The SDLP will be seeking a recall petition to dismiss Paisley from Westminster, and should this trigger a by-election in North Antrim, Paisley should not challenge the seat again,” he said.

Alliance Assembly member Paula Bradshaw also urged Mr Paisley to consider his position.

“Mr Paisley has let both himself and his constituents down, calling into question his personal integrity and the ability of voters to trust him,” she said.

Leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party Jim Allister called on Paisley to refund the Sri Lankan government the money it spent on hosting him, accusing the MP of “serious and shameful” breaches of Parliament’s code of conduct.

The sanction was outlined by the House of Commons Standards Committee following receipt of the findings of an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The committee said Paisley, son of late DUP founder the Rev Ian Paisley, had committed “serious misconduct” and his actions “were of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute”.

The report, which said the cost of the hospitality may have been “significantly more” than Mr Paisley’s £50,000 estimate, said the Sri Lankan holidays in 2013 included business-class air travel, accommodation at first-class hotels, helicopter trips and visits to tourist attractions for the North Antrim MP and his wider family.

The trips also included meeting with Sri Lankan governmental figures.

The threshold for registering such hospitality in 2013 was around £660.

In March 2014, Paisley wrote to the then prime minister David Cameron to lobby against a proposed United Nations resolution setting up an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

The committee noted that in his letter, the MP did not declare the financial benefits he and his family had received from the Sri Lankan government during the previous 12 months.

Amnesty International Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “The real outrage at the heart of this scandal is an MP attempting to have the United Kingdom government oppose a United Nations investigation into the horrific war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.”

The watchdog also recommended that Mr Paisley should now register the holidays with the parliamentary authorities.

The recommendations will need to be approved by the House of Commons before being confirmed.

Mr Paisley is due to address the House on Thursday.

The story was first reported by The Daily Telegraph in September 2017, in a report which estimated the cost of the hospitality at £100,000.

A statement issued by Mr Paisley’s lawyer on Thursday said: “My client has apologised unreservedly at the outset for his unintentional failure to register the hospitality he received.

“While accepting the decision of the House Standards Committee, he nonetheless continues to take issue with the sensationalised report in the Daily Telegraph.

“Legal proceedings are being considered.

“No further comment will be made until Mr Paisley has addressed the House on Thursday.”

A DUP spokesman said: “The party has noted the House of Commons Standards Committee’s report on Ian Paisley MP. These matters will now be considered by the party officers.”


Courtesy:Asian Mirror

Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan Tells Visiting Belgian Delegation that a New Constitution Must be Adopted if Country is to Move Forward in Every Aspect.

(Text of a Press Release issued by the Media office of the Tamil National Alliance)

The Visiting Belgium-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group met with the Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance today at the office of the Leader of the opposition in parliament.

Briefing the delegation MrSampanthan highlighted that the present Sri Lankan Constitution is not enacted based on consensus. The processes of enacting a new Constitution which recognizes the multi-ethnicity and pluralistic nature of this country has begun and the draft Constitution will be placed before the steering committee on this Wednesday.

Continue reading ‘Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan Tells Visiting Belgian Delegation that a New Constitution Must be Adopted if Country is to Move Forward in Every Aspect.’ »

Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jr Suspended for 30 Sittings of British House of Commons Due to Receiving Luxury Holiday Trip From Rajapaksa Regime in Exchange for Support at UN Human rights Council.

A British legislator faced suspension Wednesday for failing to disclose free luxury holidays he and his family received from the then government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in exchange for backing Colombo at the human rights council.

Ian Paisley Jr of the Democratic Unionist Party was suspended from 30 sittings of the House of Commons, or for nearly two months, in a move that further reduced Prime Minister Theresa May’s majority at a critical time for her shaky government.

He was found guilty of breaking Westminster rules over luxury trips worth over 100,000 pounds (22 million rupees) at the cost of Sri Lankan tax payers in 2013.

Continue reading ‘Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jr Suspended for 30 Sittings of British House of Commons Due to Receiving Luxury Holiday Trip From Rajapaksa Regime in Exchange for Support at UN Human rights Council.’ »

Court of Appeal Reserves Judgement for August 8th in Contempt of Court Case Concerning Bodu Bala Sena Gen – Secy Ven.Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero


By S .S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday reserved for 8 August its judgment on the alleged offence of Contempt of Court against Ven. Gnanasara Thero.

The Bench comprised Justices P. Padman Surasena (President/CA) and Arjuna Obeysekera.

Senior Counsel Manohara de Silva with Anusha Perusinghe appeared for Ven. Gnanasara Thero. Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General as Amicus Curiae.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Reserves Judgement for August 8th in Contempt of Court Case Concerning Bodu Bala Sena Gen – Secy Ven.Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Has not Yet Officially Selected Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Presidential Candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party States Ex-President’s Media Secretary

(Text of a media releae issued on behalf of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa by his media secretary Rohan Welivita on July 18th 2018 under the heading “Alert regarding false Media Release”)

It has come to our notice that a forged document purporting to be a media release issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been circulated in the social media yesterday, ie., the 17th July 2018.

This forged media release purports to announce that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has officially selected Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be the presidential candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Has not Yet Officially Selected Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Presidential Candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party States Ex-President’s Media Secretary’ »

In a Future Fascistic Dispensation Cabinet Will Be Dominated by Ultra- Nationalist Ex-Military Officers While Civilian Democratic Politicians Including Mahinda Rajapaksa Will be Reduced To Figureheads and Hostages


By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The recent ‘Friday Forum’ statement signed by distinguished scholars and retired civil servants, condemns “…a personal attack by retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara on Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL)…Weerasekara denounced Dr. Udagama as an LTTE supporter and a traitor to this country, with the battle cry ‘death to traitors’. …The recent denunciation of Dr. Udagama as an apologist for the LTTE, is symptomatic of this vicious culture of denigration.”

A similar statement signed by 54 university academics gives more detail:

“…It has been many months now since a certain group of individuals, led by ex-military personnel, had proclaimed before the media that individuals who were supportive of a new Constitution ought to be considered as ‘traitors’ acting against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Such individuals, it was further stated, ought to be held accountable for their ‘traitorous’ acts in a court of law and punished with death and that action will be taken against them at a future date when a new political leadership assumes power…”
\
A weekly Sinhala newspaper of June 29, 2018 carried a page 1 lead story with the headline “Traitors Should be Given the Death Penalty under a Patriotic Government”. The story, illustrated with photographs of two senior ex-military officers, opens as follows:

‘Under a patriotic government [he shall] call for those who engaged in all treacherous deeds to be given the death penalty, said Dr. Weerasekara. He was speaking yesterday, June 28, at a media briefing in Rajagiriya organized by the Federation of National Organizations. Sarath Weerasekara went on to add…“A woman called Deepika Udagama functions as the head of the Human Rights Commission. She is a person who gets together with NGOs and speaks on behalf of the Tigers.”

Sometime last year, on a private TV channel, Sarath Weerasekara threatened fellow panellist Jehan Perera with the death penalty for treason. At a Viyath Maga seminar in Gampaha, a senior ex-Army officer elaborated the death threat more widely, specifically recommending the JVP’s restricted funeral rites of the 80’s Terror.

Their preferred Presidential candidate had spoken on the occasion but had left when this was said. At the same venue, an entrepreneurial heiress called for “guns to be stuck in the mouths of traitors and discharged”. The Sinhala Alt-Right has abandoned all sense of civility.

Continue reading ‘In a Future Fascistic Dispensation Cabinet Will Be Dominated by Ultra- Nationalist Ex-Military Officers While Civilian Democratic Politicians Including Mahinda Rajapaksa Will be Reduced To Figureheads and Hostages’ »

Sri Lankan Police Arrest Father who Shared a Bottle of Beer with his One Year old Son along with Three Others who Filmed and Posted the “Feeding” on Face Book.

Sri Lanka’s police Tuesday arrested a man for sharing a bottle of beer with his one-year-old son and detained three others for filming what police consider to be cruelty to a child and releasing it on Facebook.

Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said police carried out investigations following the viral video made at the village of Meehalewa in the Anuradhapura district on Monday showing the child being given beer while others watched.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Police Arrest Father who Shared a Bottle of Beer with his One Year old Son along with Three Others who Filmed and Posted the “Feeding” on Face Book.’ »

Anglican Bishops of Colombo and Kurunegala Disagree with Govt Decision to Resume Judicial Executions of Drug Dealers While Pointing out that “Sprats” and Not “Sharks” in Drug Trade are Getting caught

by Cyril Wimalasurendre

The Anglican Church of Ceylon has taken exception to the government’s decision to resume judicial executions of repeat drug offenders.

A joint statement issued by the Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey and the Bishop of Kurnegala Rt. Rev. Keerthi Fernando says, ‘The Church of Ceylon (Anglican Church) cannot, in any way, agree with the move as it has been a rushed decision without proper reflection against the backdrop of criticism and public disquiet about the spate of gang related murders and shootings in the recent days.

Full text of the statement by the Rt. Rev. Bishops is as follows:

Continue reading ‘Anglican Bishops of Colombo and Kurunegala Disagree with Govt Decision to Resume Judicial Executions of Drug Dealers While Pointing out that “Sprats” and Not “Sharks” in Drug Trade are Getting caught’ »

“Sinhala Fascism Cannot be Defeated by Frontally Opposing Sinhala Buddhism or Sinhala nationalism.Sinhala Buddhist– nationalism Must be Internally Reworked to Fairly and Justly Accommodate Pluralism”

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Deepika Udagama’s father, Dr. Premadasa Udagama, and my uncle, Prof Ebert Fernando, were not only neighbors but much more importantly, the core members of the pro-SLFP, pro-Left caucus of academics at Peradeniya in the run-up to the 1970s elections. Dr. Udagama, an educationist, became the Secretary to the Ministry of Education during the Prime Ministership of Madam Bandaranaike and piloted the controversial policies of standardization (of which I was critical even at the time), while my uncle (my father’s step-sister Lalitha’s husband) became the Vice-Chancellor of Peradeniya and the official translator of the 1972 Republican Constitution.

Wishing Deepika well as she left home for Berkeley, I would have been unsurprised to learn that she would be Head of Law at Peradeniya and a worthy Chairperson of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission –and here I write as a former (elected) Vice–President of the UN Human Rights Council. But I would have been shocked to know that she would be publicly threatened with legalized execution by a stalwart of a probable Presidential candidate of the anti-UNP Opposition; a candidate from a leading SLFP family.

While it is good that two statements appeared, that of the Friday Forum and the 54 University academics, exposing and denouncing the lethal threat, it is bitterly ironic that neither statement denouncing this murderous, fascistic threat, nor an adding up of the signatories to the two statements, contains as many signatures of academics and civil society activists as did the statement to the Parliamentary High Posts Committee calling for the withdrawal of my nomination as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia! That itself shows the abysmal and pathetic character of today’s liberal academic and civil society intelligentsia. However, my parents did not bring me up to gloat over the blunders of my critics and opponents, petty and venal (not mention downright ungrateful) as those opponents might be, but to stand against that which is wrong, and be counted to do the right thing—in short, to be a gentleman.

Continue reading ‘“Sinhala Fascism Cannot be Defeated by Frontally Opposing Sinhala Buddhism or Sinhala nationalism.Sinhala Buddhist– nationalism Must be Internally Reworked to Fairly and Justly Accommodate Pluralism”’ »

37 Organizations and 170 Individuals Issue Statement Condemning Rear Admiral(Retd) Sarath Weerasekera’s “hate Speech”against Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Head Dr.Deepika Udagama.

Thirty-seven civil society organisations and 170 individuals yesterday released a statement condemning the threats against Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama.

Given below is the full statement:

We are appalled at statements akin to death threats, violence and hate speech against the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr. Deepika Udagama, a highly respected scholar and human rights advocate. We express grave concern and alarm at these statements and extend our solidarity and support to Dr. Udagama.

We take this opportunity to welcome the independent, substantive and transparent policy interventions made by the HRCSL under Dr. Udagama’s leadership. We also welcome the Commission’s proactive investigations into individual cases and the consultative processes and mechanisms it has put in place including with government and non-government entities. Among the Commission’s work has been the independent vetting process undertaken in relation to the deployment of military personnel for UN peacekeeping operations, which has led to these recent threats. We reiterate that this is part of the mandate of the HRCSL and applaud its commitment to continue despite threats. We welcome the HRCSL‟s transparency in clarifying the process of this work in response to misleading and false information published by some media.

Continue reading ‘37 Organizations and 170 Individuals Issue Statement Condemning Rear Admiral(Retd) Sarath Weerasekera’s “hate Speech”against Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Head Dr.Deepika Udagama.’ »

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Expresses Regret and Apologizes for Inadvertent References to Members of Lions and Rotary and Religious Organizations in Making Comments About Drug Dealers.

(Text of a press release issued by Finance and Media minister Mangala Samaraweera)

In response to a question on the restoration of Capital Punishment for drug dealers at a press conference last week, while reiterating my opposition to Capital Punishment, I said that certain individuals connected to the drug trade try to cover their sins by being benefactors of society, holding high positions in various organizations or as philanthropists in religious organizations.

Inadvertently, I also mentioned Rotarians and Lions Clubs, which I deeply regret.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Expresses Regret and Apologizes for Inadvertent References to Members of Lions and Rotary and Religious Organizations in Making Comments About Drug Dealers.’ »

My Father Lakshman Kadirgamar Was Possibly One of The Most Prolific Networkers in Sri Lankan History.

By Ajita Kadirgamar

Long before the advent of the internet, social media and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, Sri Lankans were masters of the networking game. Networking, whether social or professional is basically, ‘the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share a common interest’. It has evolved into an art, a delicate mix of give and take; you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. It’s also a sense of ‘alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’.

Lakshman Kadirgamar (April 12, 1932 – August 12, 2005)

Perhaps Sri Lankans are good at networking because we are a small island where everyone knows someone who’s someone. And let’s face it, our people excel at making everybody’s business their business.

Master networker

My father Lakshman Kadirgamar was possibly one of the most prolific networkers, dare I say in Sri Lankan history. From nursery school at Ladies College to Trinity College, Kandy, to the University of Peradeniya, Baliol College, the Oxford Union, the UN (ILO, WIPO) and during his years in politics, he tapped into his prolific network. At a personal level, he used his network to help young people with their education and jobs, support charitable projects and of course he was ever willing to rally the troops to support his beloved alma mater Trinity.

Continue reading ‘My Father Lakshman Kadirgamar Was Possibly One of The Most Prolific Networkers in Sri Lankan History.’ »

Can President Sirisena Actually Implement Capital Punishment Even Though He Announces That He wants To Do So?

By Gangani Weerakoon

President Maithripala Sirisena, last week, said that he would sign required orders to execute capital punishment for convicted drug traffickers who carry out large scale drug smuggling operations while in detention. The President’s office quoted the President as saying that although there are certain opinions regarding capital punishment in a Buddhist society, if large number of criminal acts spread in such a society despite religious sermons, it will be necessary to take some timely actions to control crime.

Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had said the death penalty is to be initially implemented on 19 large scale drug offence convicts.

He said that Cabinet approval had been obtained to implement the death penalty on repeat offenders related to large scale drug offences.

The move, as expected came under attack by many civil factions on the grounds that the world in the modern era is increasingly looking at ways of deviating from ‘barbaric’ methods of punishing criminals. Interestingly, many religious leaders, mainly chief Buddhist monks representing both Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters and Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who vehemently opposed Government’s attempt to partially legalize abortions, praised President Sirisena and his Government for the ‘brave’ step to be taken.

Continue reading ‘Can President Sirisena Actually Implement Capital Punishment Even Though He Announces That He wants To Do So?’ »

After Decades of Conflict An Already Brutalised Society Would be Further Brutalised by the Grisly Spectacle of Individuals Being Intentionally Killed by the State,


By
Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s prison authorities will soon call for applications to fill a long-time vacancy — they need two hangmen. The requirement arose after President Maithripala Sirisena recently said he might sign orders on the execution of convicted drug peddlers currently in prison.

Though Sri Lankan courts continue to impose the death penalty under several statutes, the last time anyone was executed was in 1976. Ever since, the death penalty has often been commuted to life sentence.
“I proposed to the Cabinet that I will sign [orders] for the execution of prisoners who are already convicted of drug trafficking and [are] still doing the business from prison,” Mr. Sirisena said last week. His announcement came days after the Narcotics Bureau seized over 100 kg of heroin, worth about $7.5 million, in one of the biggest drug hauls in the island nation. According to Commissioner of Prisons H.M.T.N. Upuldeniya, as many as 373 persons in Sri Lankan prisons are on death row. “Of those, 18 were convicted for trafficking drugs,” he told The Hindu.

Continue reading ‘After Decades of Conflict An Already Brutalised Society Would be Further Brutalised by the Grisly Spectacle of Individuals Being Intentionally Killed by the State,’ »

Capital Punishment:What Moral-Right Has Any Man to Decide if Another Should Live or Die!

By Sharmini Serasinghe

President, Maithripala Sirisena dropped a bombshell out of the blues last week, sans all ‘maître’ (loving-kindness) when he launched a coup de mainon drug offenders. He threatened to use his powers to place his signature to execute the death sentence on those sentenced for drug offenses.

Drug trafficking carries the death penalty in Sri Lanka, but since 1976 it has not been implemented. Though J R Jayewardene retained the death penalty in the 1978 Constitution, he never signed the death warrant but commuted it to life imprisonment. Since then, all those who held the position of the President of Sri Lanka followed this precedent and commuted all death sentences issued by the courts to life sentences.

But one solitary courageous and humane man with a conscience and common sense; Minister MangalaSamaraweera openly voiced his dissent. He said, “I have always been against the Death Penalty and my stance has not changed. Even within the Cabinet, I voiced my opinion but the majority was for it. What is needed is, to take action against the main culprits responsible for running the drug cartels in the country. The ones that are in the prison are not the ring leaders; they are just peddlers and second level dealers. The big ones are hidden behind charity work, affluent social work organisations and religious organisations — we need a system to catch them by enforcing law and order in full force.”

Minister Samaraweera correctly points out that there is no evidence of crime rates falling in the presence of the Death Penalty in countries which had enforced it; and the best course of action instead is to enforce the law to the letter.

Continue reading ‘Capital Punishment:What Moral-Right Has Any Man to Decide if Another Should Live or Die!’ »

Sri Lankan Politicians of all Parties Seem Content to Continue with the Present Unregulated System of Election Campaign Financing


By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

While much ink has already been spilled over The New York Times’ recent piece on Chinese bribes allegedly given to the Rajapaksa camp ahead of the 2015 presidential election, some interesting questions remain to be addressed.

Setting aside, for now, the report’s inaccuracies (such as describing the Port City project as a ‘terminal’ in Colombo port, built by China Harbour, which held 50 acres of land over which Sri Lanka had no sovereignty, leaving officials with ‘little real control’ when a Chinese submarine called in 2014), among the questions that need to be asked are: Why China? And why now? What’s the rationale for America’s ‘newspaper of record’ taking the trouble to resurrect, at this point in time, a three-year-old report from Sri Lanka’s state-run Daily News about a corruption investigation that led nowhere?

From a news point of view, there are two main elements in the story that would be grist to the mill of any newspaper. One is the aspect of corruption in high places, and the other is that of meddling in other peoples’ elections. NYT chose to write about alleged Chinese meddling in Sri Lanka’s election while ignoring reports that RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) the spy agency of US’s strategic ally India, allegedly influenced the outcome by facilitating defections from the SLFP so that a former SLFP minister could run as the common candidate in a UNP-led campaign. The strategy succeeded in bringing about regime-change by wresting a sufficient number of Sinhala-majority votes from the SLFP to tilt the numbers, in combination with the traditionally UNP-friendly minority vote. The UNP-led campaign was peppered with anti-China rhetoric.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Politicians of all Parties Seem Content to Continue with the Present Unregulated System of Election Campaign Financing’ »

Professionals National Front(PNF)Strongly Criticises National Trade Policy Formulated by Malik Samarawickrema and the Sri Lanka -Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

by C.A.Chandraprema

Last Thursday, the Professionals’ National Front (PNF) which brings together professionals from the medical, engineering, banking, IT, architectural, and many other spheres held a seminar to a packed audience at the Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya in Thunmulla on the SL-Singapore Free Trade Agreement ahead of the debate in parliament on the same matter scheduled for the afternoon of July 17. The PNF is a body that took shape through agitation against the attempt by the present government to expand the free trade agreement with India to include the trade in services. One of the main demands by the PNF from its very inception is that Sri Lanka should have a national trade policy on the lines of which any free trade agreement should be entered into.

Since the government was dragging its feet in the matter of formulating a national trade policy, the PNF took the initiative to appoint a people’s commission to make recommendations for the formation of such a policy. In the meantime, a document styled ‘New Trade Policy’ appeared last year on the website of the Ministry of Strategic Development and International Trade purporting to be Sri Lanka’s national trade policy. It was supposed to be in accordance with this policy that the SL-Singapore FTA had been entered into. Speaker after speaker at last Thursday’s event bitterly criticized both the so called National Trade Policy formulated by Minister Malik Samarawickrema and the SL-Singapore FTA that the government entered into. One of the main criticisms made by the PNF against the purported national trade policy of the present government is that nobody had been consulted in its preparation and that it was only ‘an essay’ written by an expatriate Sri Lankan.

When the Indian government updated its Foreign Trade Policy last year, they got all stakeholders including exporters, trade associations, state governments, and even foreign missions involved in the process. But Sri Lanka’s New Trade Policy seems to have been formulated without any such process and had appeared suddenly on Malik Samarawickrema’s ministry website. This was tantamount to a deliberate insult to the professional organizations that had been agitating for a properly formulated national trade policy. In the midst of all this, the government entered into the SL-Singapore FTA without any consultation or discussion with stakeholders. In fact very few people were even aware that such a thing was on the cards until it was suddenly sprung on all of us. Even though a parliamentary debate is to be held next Tuesday on the SL-Singapore FTA, it’s being held after the FTA has been signed and the Customs Dept. instructed to adhere to its provisions. It was this FTA that for the first time opened up virtually the entire Sri Lankan services sector to competition from Singapore. To say that the professional associations have reached boiling point is an understatement.

Continue reading ‘Professionals National Front(PNF)Strongly Criticises National Trade Policy Formulated by Malik Samarawickrema and the Sri Lanka -Singapore Free Trade Agreement.’ »

Great ‘Gamperaliya’: A Great Novel Made Into a Great Film By a Great Director

by
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Cinematic journey of maestro Lester James Peries – Part 2

‘Gamperaliya’ (Changes in the Village/Changement au Village) was the third feature film made by ace director Lester James Peries. It was released on 20 December 1963.The film was based on the famous novel of the same name written by the doyen of Sinhala writers, Martin Wickramasinghe. The moviehailed as a milepost in the evolution of Sinhala cinema remains an outstanding example of how a great novel could be made into a great film by a great director.

Gamperaliya placed Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon on the global cinema map by winning gold at two international film festivals. The film won the ‘Golden Peacock’ award for Best Film at the third International Film Festival of India(IFFI) held from 8 to 20 January 1964 in New Delhi. It also won the Golden Head of Palanque award in 1965 at the Mexico International Film festival held in Acapulco. Gamperaliya won silver at the 1967 Cork Film festival in Ireland. Prior to its public release, ‘Gamperaliya’also competedat the third Moscow International Film Festival in July 1963 and won a Merit certificate.


Continue reading ‘Great ‘Gamperaliya’: A Great Novel Made Into a Great Film By a Great Director’ »

Why Dont Those Who Advocate The Return of the Rajapaksas As The Only Solution Check Their facts First?

By

Tisaranee Gunasekara


“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and thus clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

H.L. Mencken (In Defence of Women).

Julampitiye Amare is now a forgotten man. Not so just six years ago, when he burst on to the national stage in a hail of bullets.

On June 5, 2012, a JVP pocket-meeting in Katuwana was attacked. Ten men arrived on motor cycles and opened fire on the small crowd (which included the current JVP parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa). Two were killed, many injured. The attack reportedly lasted for around 20 minutes. The police were called but arrived only after the attackers were gone. Even as the desultory investigation was beginning, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Media Centre for National Security claimed that the attack was an outcome of the rivalry between the JVP and its latest breakaway, the FSP.

The victims knew the attackers, especially their leader. Julampitiye Amare was a well-known figure in the area. He was a man of many crimes, including murder and rape. Despite many eyewitness accounts, the police made no move to arrest or even question Julampitiye Amare who continued to strut about dressed in military fatigues and brandishing a T56. He was arrested only when he came to the High Court for another case. The presiding judge ordered him to be remanded. The police later claimed that they failed to arrest Julampitiya Amare because they didn’t know what he looked like.

Less than a fortnight before the Katuwana attack, in May 2012, the JVP’s paper Lanka had carried an investigative piece claiming that Julampitiye Amare’s immunity from arrest came from his closeness to the then first family, the Rajapaksas. i

That was how law and order was maintained under the strong leadership of the Rajapaksas.

Sometimes memory is an eel. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government has forgotten its solemn promises to the electorate – the inane plan to build a third airport in Polonnaruwa being the latest case in point. Perhaps in tandem, the electorate has forgotten what life was like under the Rajapaksas. The case of Julampitiye Amare, who remained a free man despite the existence of more than 100 arrest warrants against him, was symbolic of the rampant crime and rampant immunity that was characteristic of the times.

Continue reading ‘Why Dont Those Who Advocate The Return of the Rajapaksas As The Only Solution Check Their facts First?’ »

“The Big Drug Businessmen of Sri Lanka are in Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and Buddhist Organizations.They are the ones who Should be Arrested”Says Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.


Sri Lanka’s top drug dealers are not languishing in jails, but holding high posts in social services organisations such as Lions, Rotary and some Buddhist charities, Finance minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

The outspoken minister noted corruption involving law enforcement as well as the criminal justice system and said what was needed was better enforcement of laws to deal with the drug problem.

Continue reading ‘“The Big Drug Businessmen of Sri Lanka are in Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs and Buddhist Organizations.They are the ones who Should be Arrested”Says Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.’ »

CID Commences Investigation Into “New York Times” Allegation Chinese Company Paying US 4 7.6 Million Through Standard Chartered Bank To Mahinda rajapaksa’s Election campaign

(Excerpted From the “Sunday Times” Political Column)

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has started investigations into allegations in The New York Times report that China’s state owned China Harbour Engineering Company paid at least US$ 7.6 million from its account at the Standard Chartered Bank to affiliates of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidential election campaign. The focus, it is learnt, is on the funding of the former President’s campaign.

The NYT report cited a document from an active internal government investigation. “The document details China Harbour’s bank account number — ownership of which, it said, was verified — and intelligence gleaned from questioning of the people to whom the cheques were made out. The report added: “With 10 days to go before polls opened, around US$ 3.7 million was distributed in cheques: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Mr. Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totalling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence. Most of the payments were from a sub-account controlled by China Harbour, named “HPDP Phase 2,” shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project.”

Continue reading ‘CID Commences Investigation Into “New York Times” Allegation Chinese Company Paying US 4 7.6 Million Through Standard Chartered Bank To Mahinda rajapaksa’s Election campaign’ »

Links of Politicians to the Drug Mafia and Underworld is an Accepted Fact


By

Kishali Pinto Jayewardene

Curiously, each time that Sri Lanka announces that it would put an end to the country’s more than thirty years moratorium on implementation of the death penalty, an immediate practical problem surfaces for the administration of Colombo’s Welikada Prisons.


The grisly realities of the job

This is the insuperable difficulty of finding a competent hangman in order to carry out the task. On the last occasion a few years ago that this flurry of excitement was evidenced, the individual who had been taken on for this purpose abruptly left the post citing ‘stress’ as a reason. His potential successors also absconded, presumably for the same reason. Given that persons serving in this position had only been engaging in the comforting chores of administrative duties so far, the notion of actually being called upon to tie the hangman’s noose around another human being would have been unsettling. Empathy therefore naturally arises for the squeamish (to put it mildly) who would desist from such an exercise.

But it is an interesting aside that, in a country where conflict had led to extrajudicial executions of unfortunate human beings of all ethnicities throughout the past decades, recruiting an official hangman has proved to be so arduous. Perhaps that by itself, is telling as to the grisly realities that need to be confronted if capital punishment is to be carried out, which is very different indeed from casual conversations carried out on a political platform.

Continue reading ‘Links of Politicians to the Drug Mafia and Underworld is an Accepted Fact’ »

From “Eliya” (Light) to “Andura” (Darkness) and on to a “Vipath Maga”(Road to Disaster)

By

THE FRIDAY FORUM

The recent public statements by Rev Vendaruwe Upali Thero, Anunayake of the Asgiriya Chapter at a celebration of Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s birthday, Ms Vijayakala Maheswaran, former State minister at a public meeting in Jaffna, and a personal attack by retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara on Dr Deepika Udagama, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) deserve articulate public condemnation by us all.

Rev Upali exhorted Mr Rajapaksa to give leadership for good governance, even if he has to be “a Hitler” to do this. Some weeks later Mr Weerasekara denounced Dr Udagama as an LTTE supporter and a traitor to this country, with the battle cry “death to traitors”. Ms Vijayakala Maheswaran called for a return of the LTTE to ensure the security protection and progress of the people of the North, and especially their women and children. These statements have a common link. Delivered on public platforms, they encourage support for authoritarian and dictatorial governance as a legitimate and acceptable form of good governance. They also spread messages that directly or indirectly advocate the worst forms of violence, intolerance and hate.

Such statements seek support for the establishment of a Sinhala Buddhist majoritarian State and a minority Tamil Eelam respectively, in a land that has since antiquity been home to a diverse population of many communities and that has also experienced the horrors of armed conflict, in the name of restoring ethnic and religious identity. Ms Maheswaran’s statement denies a reality that the whole country and the world knows: a dictatorial and authoritarian LTTE regime brought violence, destruction and suffering to the Tamil community and all our people. These spoken and published exhortations seek to trample and eliminate the core values of a religion that the Buddha taught should be based on non-violence and sensitivity to human anguish.

Continue reading ‘From “Eliya” (Light) to “Andura” (Darkness) and on to a “Vipath Maga”(Road to Disaster)’ »

Is Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Going Against Pope Francis By Supporting President Sirisena’s Proposal to Re-introduce the Death Penalty?

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

There are new employment opportunities opening in the country – for hangmen.

The prison authorities are already calling for applications for two hangmen. Why stop at two? There are so many persons involved in drug trafficking in our prisons, engaged in a fruitful business from within those walls. Why not many more hangmen, (and even “hangwomen”), to make it gender equal? It will give a big boost to President Sirisena’s hangman’s noose thinking, and a new Janapathi Mara Thondu strategy.

What we have today from presidential quarters is largely copycat policy making. President Sirisena could not have missed the news of the seven murderers, members of the Aum Shinkriyo Cult, recently executed in Japan, who killed 13 and injured thousands in the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995. That office would also have of the Indian Supreme Court confirming the death sentence on the four rapist/killers of the Indian student Nirbhaya in 2012, which led to huge Indian protests and call for tougher action against rape.

So, it is time for Sri Lanka to catch up. It will be possible to make people forget, or get their minds away from all the broken promises of the Sirisena common candidate – and get interested in the Hangman’s Noose. This is the Mara Thonduva in politics today.

Continue reading ‘Is Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Going Against Pope Francis By Supporting President Sirisena’s Proposal to Re-introduce the Death Penalty?’ »

“Therefore, if I could not adjust myself to politics because I am not a politician and inconvenienced him (President Sirisena) I regret”- Ex-Presidential Secretary Austin Fernando

By

Austin Fernando

Born on 12th June 1942, having had my primary education at Hikkaduwa Sinhala School, post-primary education at Richmond College, Galle, I was admitted to University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in July 1960. As a young graduate I entered the teaching profession in May 1963 and joined the Ceylon Administrative Service (CAS) in October 1967.

Starting my CAS career in Batticaloa District, I had an extremely eventful and memorable stint in the public service. I was appointed a Secretary of a Ministry, at a comparative young age of 44, after holding several responsible positions. Although many public servants may envy this, they will not be jealous for what I faced later.

I experienced abruptly departurefrom public service in August 1996 at an unripe age of 54. When I did depart the service in 1996, it was due to upholding unwavering principles of integrity and transparency. But this experience was also for the best. Due to my employment in the private sector I was able to fund my daughter’s education in Pakistan, which I was finding difficult to do as a government employee. Today when I see her carrying out her post graduate education at the University of Oxford, I reflect that being removed from government service also brings comfort. Also, today I leave the public service with the conviction that everything happens for the best!

In 1996 I left government service keeping my uncontested integrity strongly intact. This time in 2018 my departure may also seem abrupt to you. For sure many may interpret it in different ways. During the past few days social media have been discussing it thus. But my departure was discussed with His Excellency the President on 22nd of May 2018 at his office and decided. I leave today at the mature age of 76. At 76, the world is a philosophical place!

Continue reading ‘“Therefore, if I could not adjust myself to politics because I am not a politician and inconvenienced him (President Sirisena) I regret”- Ex-Presidential Secretary Austin Fernando’ »

Colombo Chief Magistrate Directs Official Languages Dept to Provide Sinhala and Tamil Transcripts of Ex-State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran’s Controversial LTTE Resurgence Speech Video Footage.

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday issued an order directing the Department of Official Languages to provide the Sinhala and Tamil transcripts of the video footage pertaining to the alleged offensive statement made by former State Minister Vijayakala Maheshwaran regarding the resurgence of the LTTE at a public gathering held in Jaffna.

Chief Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake made this order pursuant to a request made by the Organised Crimes Prevention Division.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Chief Magistrate Directs Official Languages Dept to Provide Sinhala and Tamil Transcripts of Ex-State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran’s Controversial LTTE Resurgence Speech Video Footage.’ »

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Launches Scathing Attack on Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa For Misleading the Public on Fuel Price Rise Without Acknowledging all the Facts.

By Charumini de Silva

* Dismisses allegations made by former President and Finance Minister on fuel pricing formula and Govt. revenue

*Reiterates economy progressive and despite latest revision fuel prices still lower than MR era

*Recalls how Rajapaksa exercised executive powers to disregard SC ruling for lowering fuel prices

*Challenges MR to a public debate

*Exposes Rs. 10.2 b loss to Govt. via infamous oil hedging deal

*Promises to expose findings of investigation on ex-CB Chief Cabraal

*Eran emphasises pricing formula is best mechanism and most transparent


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

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday levelled a scathing criticism against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for misleading the public on the new fuel price formula, claiming his conduct was “unbecoming of a senior politician of the country”.

“The former President who was also Finance Minister is trying to influence the general public without fully acknowledging the facts. I would like to remind him that the fuel prices with the latest revision under this Government are still lower than what it was during his tenure,” Samaraweera told journalists.

Denying all allegations levelled against him, the Minister challenged the former President again to a public debate to “clear all the facts”.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Launches Scathing Attack on Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa For Misleading the Public on Fuel Price Rise Without Acknowledging all the Facts.’ »

Colombo International Container Terminal Ltd Says It Donated US $150,000 Dollars In Good Faith to the Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation To Construct Houses for the Less Privileged


Colombo International Container Terminals Limited (CICT), in a statement issued yesterday said that Rs.19,410,000/- (equivalent to US$150,000) had been donated in 2012 to the Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation, in good faith, for the construction of houses for the less privileged.

The statement was issued in the wake of New York Times allegations that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election campaign received USD 7.6 mn from China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in the run up to 2015 January presidential polls.

Pushpa Rajapaksa is the wife of the then Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa.

The following is the full text of the statement:

Continue reading ‘Colombo International Container Terminal Ltd Says It Donated US $150,000 Dollars In Good Faith to the Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation To Construct Houses for the Less Privileged’ »

Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa Says His Govt Sold Petrol in 2008 at Rs 120 and Diesel at Rs 70 When World Price was US $97 per Barrel but Present Govt Selling Petrol at 145 Rs &Diesel at 118 Rs Even Though World Price had Dropped to US$74 Per Barrel.

(Text of Press release issued by Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa under the heading “Fleecing the public through fuel price manipulation”)

Fuel prices have been increased yet again within a period of about eight weeks – a situation we have never experienced earlier. Now the price of petrol is Rs. 145 and diesel Rs. 118 while today’s price of crude oil in the world market is around USD 74 per barrel. In 2008, when Sri Lanka was buying crude oil at the much higher rate of USD 97 a barrel, petrol was sold at Rs. 120 and diesel at Rs 70. During the nine years in which we ruled the country, world crude oil prices were always high.

Continue reading ‘Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa Says His Govt Sold Petrol in 2008 at Rs 120 and Diesel at Rs 70 When World Price was US $97 per Barrel but Present Govt Selling Petrol at 145 Rs &Diesel at 118 Rs Even Though World Price had Dropped to US$74 Per Barrel.’ »

Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Opts Out of Presidential Task Force on North -Eastern Economic Development saying Political Solution is Necessary Before Economic Development.

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has opted out of the Presidential Task Force on economic development of the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces, saying that the Tamils need a political solution for their long-standing problems before they embark on economic development.

In a letter to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dated July 9, Wigneswaran said that the Task Force is useless also because it does not include the elected representative of the people or ministers of the Provincial Administration barring the Chief Minister.

Putting economic development before a political settlement is like putting the cart before the horse, and so, the development plan will be non-starter, Wigneswaran said.

He added that with the government in Colombo being wedded to the ‘top down’ approach to development work, his participation in the Task Force is meaningless. He hoped that by year end, political power will be devolved to the provinces and that he and the President can sit around a table to discuss development as equals.

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“Rear Admiral Weerasekara is Not Merely a Sinhala Buddhist Ultra-nationalist.He and His Co-thinkers Are Quite Simply, Dangerous Fascists” – Dayan Jayatilleka

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara writes that “After the 2015 Presidential elections, for reasons better known to DJ, he approached GR and joined Viyath Maga.” That’s a blatant lie. As Dullas Alahapperuma and Matale mayor Mohammed Hilmy will attest, “After the 2015 presidential election” I met ex-President Rajapaksa at Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa’s residence of January 10th and rolled out a recovery strategy centered on Dinesh Gunawardena in Parliament. Furthermore, as Dinesh Gunawardena, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dullas Alahapperuma, Udaya Gammanpila MP and Wimal Weerawansa would attest, I spent weeks meeting them at my home and that of others, working out the revival of the Opposition. It was at such a working dinner that the idea of the Nugegoda meeting was arrived at. I still recall Wimal looking up from his plate and saying “kavuru nokarath ehnang mama oya rasveema sanvidhanaya karanava!” Admiral Weerasekara must understand why I was invited to read out President Rajapaksa’s message at Nugegoda on Feb 18th 2015.

There was no Viyath Maga at the time. I had not met Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at the time except during the Kurunegala campaign, and he was maintaining a low profile. Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and I were among a small group that worked on the August 2015 parliamentary election manifesto with the approval of ex-President Rajapaksa who I was meeting regularly. We later combined our efforts with another group of young academics close to Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. There was no Viyath Maga anywhere in sight at the time.

As far as I know Viyath Maga and Viyath Handa were two organizations of professionals that were together at one moment, broke up at another and reunited down the road. I was invited to a dinner meeting at the 80 Club by some professionals and academics with whom we had worked in the 2015 campaign, and Viyath Handa invited me to speak at a seminar or two, which I did. I never joined either Viyath Maga or Viyath Handa. Indeed I declined to attend the opening of the Viyath Maga office for the reason that I gave the friend who brought the invitation. I explained to her that the ideology and profile of Viyath Maga were too traditionalist, Sinhala nationalist and neoconservative not of a sort I could be associated with.

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“The Very Fact That People Like Dayan Jayatilleka Are Living in Luxury in Colombo Without Any Fear, is Ample Evidence That There Are No Sinhala Buddhist Extremists In This Country”-Sarath Weerasekera

by

Rear Admiral (Retd) Dr Sarath Weerasekera VSV RWP USP

There was a swollen headed Brahmin called “Akkosha Bharadvaja” who, after studying a few Vedic stanzas and theories, thought that he was the only brilliant intellect in the country. This man, festered with venom and ill will, once unleashed his wrath on the Buddha. Buddha smiled and asked him “ Bharadvaja, if you give some food to a person and if that person refused to accept it, what would you do ? “Bharadvaja said” I will eat it myself”. Then Buddha said “ I refuse to partake of all what you said about me”. Bharadvaja felt ashamed and vanished. Going by the moral of that story, when Dayan Jayathilaka (DJ) called me a “notorious hawk” and a “mad dog” (Daily Mirror July 4, page 10) all what I say to him is ,“ I refuse to take it”. So it is up to DJ now either to keep it or gulp it.

DJ in the above article , referring to a picture of mine with Gotabhaya Rajapaksha (GR) says, that I am an aggressively anti-13A agitator and a Sinhalese Buddhist ultra nationalist. Let us take 13A first. After the 2015 Presidential elections, for reasons better known to DJ, he approached GR and joined Viyath Maga. When it became evident that his sole purpose of getting closer was to push GR towards 13A, naturally there were objections from others. I was of course one of the main speakers/writers against 13A. When DJ realized that he could not achieve his objective he left GR even without informing him. It is natural for a man to get utterly frustrated when he had miserably failed to date, to push the rulers of the country towards full implementation of 13A.

The hardcore federalists such as DJ who argue that 13A is the only answer, should be reminded as to how it was forced on us by India. India intervened and saved Prabhakaran and LTTE in 1987 when it was about to be crushed by our forces at Vadamarachchi. Then they forced JR to accept the 13A which was drafted in New Delhi! So the 13A is made in India, introduced to please the Tamil Nadu voters and separatist Tamil diaspora/politicians. Our country never wanted it.

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Reactions To Vijayakala Maheswaran Show That Even to Make Absurd and Outlandish Political Statements and to Get Away With Them, One’s Ethnicity Truly Matters.

By Sasanka Perera


Reading Ms Vijayakala Maheswaran’s statement at a public meeting in Jaffna on 2nd July 2018 reminded me of two popular aphorisms on history and the past. They deal with humanity’s propensity to not learn from the past. In the first of these, Margaret MacMillan observes, “we can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do.” The second, often attributed to George Santayana notes, “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

In the relevant section of her speech, Ms Maheswaran noted, “now we remember how we lived before May 18, 2009. In the present conditions our main intention is to bring back the LTTE. If we want to live, if we want to walk freely, if we need our children to attend schools and return back.” As to be expected, there were shrill debates from the noisy and belligerent chambers of parliament to the cluttered spaces of the print and electronic media. In trying to understand what Ms Maheswaran is actually promoting, one also has to understand her position in the present government as well as at least something of her personal biography. Until she put her foot in her mouth in Jaffna, she was the State Minister of Child Affairs, and was speaking at an event known in Sinhala as ‘Janapathi Nila Mehewara,’ which translates into ‘Official Mission of the President.’ It seems to have been a thamasha designed to sing odes to the great things the president has done for the north after the end of war. Instead, Ms Maheshwaran in a Trumpian flip, went off the script and started to sing praises of the LTTE, among other things.

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If Notorious Hawk Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara (retd) Were in the US Military His Washington Nickname Would Probably Be “Mad Dog”.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ was the title of the best Rod Stewart album!

The landmark Viyath Maga event at the Shangri-La Hotel opened with the image in the very first slide, which showed Gotabaya Rajapaksa with only one other person in the frame, leaning over the shoulder of the seated GR.


That was Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara (Retd.), a notorious hawk, aggressively anti-13A agitator and Sinhala-Buddhist ultra-nationalist, rejected by the Sinhala voters of Digamadulla in the Eastern Province in favour of the non-racist progressive from the JO, Wimalaweera Dissanayake (who, it was revealed in Parliament, criticized Weerasekara’s demagoguery in Ampara during the local government election campaign).

If he were in the US military, Weerasekara’s Washington nickname would be “Mad Dog.” So what’s the Viyath Maga extravaganza’s opening photo-image emblematic of? What does it reveal and symbolize? What narrative does it illustrate?

It is not, as a senior professor pontificated recently, that the next election may see a choice between a “weak democracy” and a “hard authoritarianism,” but rather, what kind of “hard authoritarianism” it is likely to be and why. This is not hair-splitting. Between one variety of hard authoritarianism and another, lies not a distinction, but a world of difference.

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Most Significant Aspect of Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s “Burning Birds” Film is the Director’s Fearless Depiction of State-sponsored Violence Which Prevailed in our Country

By Prof. Carlo Fonseka

In 1989, the year in which the events portrayed in this film took place in Sri Lanka, the country became literally the bloodiest place on earth. Its estimated murder rate was over 100 per 100,000 of its population. The rage for murder was generated and fueled by several interrelated conflicts. There were conflicts between ethnic groups; between haves and have-nots and between political rival groups. Involvement of paramilitary groups contributed to the mayhem. The film Burning Birds depict events that occurred in a small village in Eastern Sri Lanka, in 1989. The events add up not so much to a human story, but as a horrifying episode of real history. What redeems the film from oppressive gloom is the heroic struggle for survival of a 37-year-old mother of eight minor children, after her husband had been summarily abducted, tortured and executed by a paramilitary group. The role of the heroic mother, Kusum’s, played with a disciplined emotional power by Anoma Janadari an award-winning actress. She dominates the film and sustains the story. The suspicion that state-sponsored extrajudicial violence was operative in regard to the fate of her husband is hard to avoid.

Director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara

As it happened, the Director of the film Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s first feature film called Flying Fish had premiered at the International Film Festival at Rotterdam and attracted critical attention. In 2012, he was invited to Paris by Cinefondation of cannes Film Festival to its Residence program and commission to develop his second feature film namely, “Burning Birds” (Devena Vihangun). It is this film which emerged as the Best Film at the 15th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva.

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State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran’s LTTE Speech Has Generated Two Contrasting Reactions


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

State Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Vijayakala Maheswaran has called for the resurrection of the LTTE to give dignity and order to Tamils.

“All of you know how our people lived before 2009-05-19. When comparing with today’s situation, it seems the LTTE should be revived. If our children and women are to come home safely, an LTTE administration is again necessary. What this government has done for the last three years is only returning the lands which were acquired. We thank the government for that. But beyond that the government has done nothing.

“A six-year-old girl was raped and killed. Our girls who are receiving no support from anyone have only one choice – to commit suicide. What are we to do? Is it for this that a President was appointed by us after so much toil? The situation is so bad that our children cannot go to school and return home safely,” she has said in a speech delivered at the 8th Presidential Public Service programme titled ‘Nila Mehewera for Northern Province’ held on July 3 at the Veerasingham Hall in Jaffna. Several government ministers and Northern Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran were also in attendance.

She later resigned from her portfolio on the request of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP has launched an inquiry into her remarks.

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Rise of Inter- Religious Tensions In the Multi-Ethnic eastern Province of Sri Lanka.

By

Meera Srinivasan

After Sinhalese mobs carried out a spate of attacks targeting Muslim eateries and shops in Ampara in the Eastern province, in February, Kandy in the Central province saw violence too. A vandalised mosque in Digana, located between Kandy and Teldeniya.

After Sinhalese mobs carried out a spate of attacks targeting Muslim eateries and shops in Ampara in the Eastern province, in February, Kandy in the Central province saw violence too. A vandalised mosque in Digana, located between Kandy and Teldeniya. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Eastern province sees a divide as sections of the Tamil community object to Muslim women embracing the abaya, a full-length, gown-like dress of Arab origin. Meera Srinivasan reports on the widening fault lines in the island nation’s ethnically most diverse region

The arch above the school gate looks like a crown over the pillars that support it on either side. It bears the name ‘Sri Shanmuga Hindu Ladies’ College’, painted in a turquoise blue that must have been vibrant once but looks faded now. Beyond the arch, a couple of two-storied pink buildings face each other. Their proximity amplifies the commotion that erupts when the bell rings. It is break time.

This school, many in Sri Lanka’s eastern port city of Trincomalee will tell you, is for girls who study well. It was founded in 1923 by Thangamma Shanmugampillai, a local advocate of women’s education. Shanmuga ‘College’, as many secondary schools in Sri Lanka are called, steadily built its reputation and has preserved it for nearly a century.

However, when the school made headlines in late April, it was not for an academic feat.

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Army Chief Mahesh Senanayake Bans Persons Espousing Racism and Promoting Inter-ethnic Enmity Including Retired Defence Personnel,Politicians and Civil Sociery Activists From Entering Military Installations and Interacting With Serving Soldiers.

Army commander Mahesh Senanayake has ordered his troops not to allow any individual, including retired officers, who are actively engaged in sabotaging the country’s ethnic reconciliation efforts.

In a directive to all units of the Sri Lanka army, Lieutenant General Senanayake said the military condemned attempts to obstruct ongoing moves to build bridges between different communities since the end of the war in May 2009.

“Some politicians, retired military officers, civil society activists have been criticizing the reconciliation efforts while appreciating the work of terrorists. They are trying to damage the relations between the people in the north and the east the military,” Senanayake said.

“They are giving lectures that seek to damage the trust people have in the military and create a war fear psychosis.”

He did not name the individuals the military believes are harming inter-communal relations, but said they have already been identified by the media.

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The Same State Minister Who Is Now Emotional Over Rape in Jaffna Earlier Took Steps To Get the Main Accused Released in the Rape/Murder of Schoolgirl Vithya Sivaloganathan


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

When mad dogs bark at the moon, the wise would probably advocate just a shrug and a sigh.

However in a country where those who have lost their senses to all intents and purposes capture the public space so belligerently, shrugging and sighing may not suffice. The tide of insanity is so high that we not only have a senior member of the Buddhist clergy calling for ‘even a Hitler’ to rule this country to bring it back ‘onto the right path’ (never mind the stupendously oxymoronic nature of that injunction) but also a northern state minister calling for a ‘revival of the LTTE’ if children and women of the North and East are to come home safely without being raped and hurt.


Derangement and despairing ironies

Perchance and by themselves, these voices are solitary signs of derangement. While the ‘even Hitler’ call marks the zenith of imbecility, the northern state minister and those who support her may be questioned as to how this new found emotion in regard to girls being raped in the North had been so lacking on her/their part in the past, as for example when schoolgirl Vithya Sivaloganathan was brutally abused and killed in a gang killing with links to the police and Northern political underworld.

Indeed in what can only be a despairing irony, the trial-at-bar at the Jaffna High Court at the time had found this same state minister responsible for taking steps to secure the release of the main accused in that case. So when the state minister laments about the breakdown of law and order in the North, is that (seemingly) distraught) outrage only to be evidenced when state officers are implicated in rapes and killings of girls and women?

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Political Storm Created By Vijayakala Maheswaran’s Ill-timed Statement About LTTE Return.

By Gagani Weerakoon

Barely two weeks into Oddusudan Police arresting two suspects with a pressure mine, two remote control devices and some other weapons, a uniform, a flag, bombs and several military types of equipment belonging to the LTTE while they were being transported in a three-wheeler at Peraru Junction, Oddusudan, Mullaitivu, an ill-timed, misjudged gallery talk by State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran took Sri Lankan politics by storm.

Maheswaran, speaking to a gathering at a State event, the Janapathi Nila Mehewara, in Jaffna on 2 July, which was attended by Ministers Vajira Abeywardena and Tilak Marapana, had stated that the aim was to rebuild the LTTE and that they should remerge and be strengthened in the North and the East if the residents of those areas wished to remain alive, free of fear and suspicion and for their children to return home safely after attending school. She spoke in reference to the situation that had arisen in some areas as exemplified by the recent sexual abuse and murder of a six-year-old girl.

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