Why is Sri Lanka Getting Entangled in the “War Games” of Nuclear Powers?


By
Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

As the US government engages in the complicated process of approving its budget for Financial Year 2018, we are told that the Trump administration had requested US$ 3.4 million in foreign assistance for Sri Lanka. Readers could be forgiven if they thought it was a typo in the news reports they read. But it was confirmed in Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells’s statement to the US House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Sept. 7.

US Senate and House Sub-committees have both opposed the 92% slash in funding, with the Senate Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Appropriations recently approving a sum of US$35 million under the ‘Economic Support Fund,’ according to reports. But this amount, modest as it is, comes with hefty conditions attached that would have implications for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence, since it is conditional on laws being repealed or changed, demands as to how Sri Lanka’s military shall be deployed, decisions on the military’s restructuring and its size etc. It further links the assistance to ‘supporting a credible justice mechanism in compliance with UNHRC Resolution (A/HCR/30/ L.29) of October, 2015’ (which incorporates all of the above and more).

The latter condition was also central to Wells’s testimony before the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee when she said “We (meaning the governments of the US and Sri Lanka) “are working together to fulfil the steps to which our nations agreed in a resolution 30/1 at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015.” Wells links the assistance to constitutional reform, devolution of power, repeal of the PTA and other specifics contained in Resolution 30/1 such as the Office of Missing Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and prosecutions for alleged war crimes. Such is the tall order that (it would appear) is expected in order to receive the grand sum of US$3.4 million in assistance in 2018.

Continue reading ‘Why is Sri Lanka Getting Entangled in the “War Games” of Nuclear Powers?’ »

“I Dont Want Sri Lanka to be Another Myanmar” -President Sirisena tells UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Al-Hussein in New York

By

Gagani Weerakoon Reporting from New York

The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members. To overcome the perils of the present, and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity and peace, for themselves and for the world. We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties, to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation, President of the United States of America Donald Trump said in his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly moments before he called North Korean leader Kim Jung Un “rocket man,” and described him as being on “a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” He also threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US finds itself “forced to defend itself or its allies.”

The tone and the language used by Trump in a place like the United Nations, where peace and tolerance were supposedly upheld, came under criticism by many. However, Trump’s emphasis on independent nations being entitled for their sovereignty came as a blessing for Sri Lanka when President Maithripala Sirisena took the podium to tell international community and especially the UN and its affiliates that Sri Lanka needs its due space in addressing local issues.

Prior to his speech President Sirisena met US President Trump on the corridors to the main auditorium and extended his greetings.

Continue reading ‘“I Dont Want Sri Lanka to be Another Myanmar” -President Sirisena tells UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Al-Hussein in New York’ »

“The Best Devolution Proposals came from the Seven Sinhala SLFP Chief Ministers” – Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne



By Shaahidah Riza

President’s Counsel and member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), parliamentarian Jayampathy Wickramaratne spoke to Ceylon Today about the salient points pertaining to the Interim report, of the steering committee, which centred on the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka.

Emphasizing on the need to include the word Aekiya Rajya in the English and Sinhalese version of the Constitution, he added that the Sri Lankan lawmakers have a ‘unitary mindset’ and that the proposal by the TNA to include the term Aekiya in English is a good development.

Excerpts of the Interview:

Question: How did you come to a consensus on the voting system?

Answer: Vast majority of people are against the preferential vote. They want MPs for the electorates. But at the same time they want the proportional representation, so that different shades of political opinion are reflected in the Parliament. What is proposed is a mixed member proportional representation system (MMP) where the candidate has to run for the electorate and run for the party. The overall composition of the Parliament is determined by the party vote which I think is important. You eliminate the preferential voting and everybody has his own MP at the electorate and at the same time the overall composition is proportionate.

Continue reading ‘“The Best Devolution Proposals came from the Seven Sinhala SLFP Chief Ministers” – Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne’ »

Stability Craved by Sinhala Ultra-nationalists Cannot be Ensured by Rigidity and Unilateral Imposition.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“At a time when national borders are vanishing, the borders in our own mind need to be erased in the interests of serious inquiry and discussion.”Mervyn de Silva, The Age of Identity, 1993

As in life, there are no guarantees in politics. One can only avoid the most obvious mistakes and cultivate the wisdom to manage things prudently. A Constitution cannot function as a prison house. Countries, like people, stay together because of consent and mutual agreement. The “stability” that most Sinhala “patriots” (actually ultranationalists) crave, cannot be ensured by rigidity and unilateral imposition. The stability of the whole can be achieved only through dialogue and consensus, involving mutual compromise and concessions, between the component parts. That is surely the logic and spirit of the Social Contract.

It is impossible to adopt a policy that is so constricting as to be rejected by all political representatives of a given community, simply because the majority community thinks the status quo of provincial devolution too risky. If one cannot persuade a single political organization of the Tamils to accept the district as the unit of devolution, how is it going to be put into policy and practice except by unilateral imposition, and why would anyone in their right minds think, after the experience of 1987 and given the current globalization of the Tamil issue and the unremitting external pressure on us, that the majority community is going to be permitted to unilaterally impose a political settlement upon the Tamils?

One of my late father, Mervyn de Silva’s ceaseless endeavors was to educate both the West-centric elite and the parochial ‘patriotic’ upper-middle and middle classes in the realities of Sri Lanka’s ethnic question in “the new global environment” as he put it, thereby freeing them from their shared myopia. It is obvious from the discourse of many Sinhala “nationalists” that the points he made need to be repeated. Since my father’s death I have realized that it is my task to share his insights in an effort as to prevent the cycle of the island’s tragic contemporary history from repeating itself. The effort may prove a Sisyphean burden, but it is part of my social and intellectual responsibility; the voluntarily accepted burden of a role that is an inheritance, part of my heritage.

Continue reading ‘Stability Craved by Sinhala Ultra-nationalists Cannot be Ensured by Rigidity and Unilateral Imposition.’ »

How Maithri and Ranil Worked Hard Together to Garner a Two-Thirds Majority To Pass P.C. Elections Amendment Bill in Parliament

By

The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

Hopes of elections this year to three Provincial Councils – North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern – were buoyed by last Tuesday’s announcement of the Supreme Court determination, but evaporated just hours later.

Ruling coalition leaders, not in favour of PC polls, adopted other counter measures that will now cause an indefinite delay. It came during a tense, behind-the-scenes political drama. Members of the Elections Commission threatened to resign. Even President Maithripala Sirisena, who was in New York to attend the 72nd sessions of the UN General Assembly kept himself busy from his hotel suite appealing for help from minority parties that backed his Government. It paid off.

This came after the SC determination, by majority 2-1 vote on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution became public last Tuesday. Contrary to expectations of coalition leaders, the Court held that the three clauses of 20A (i.e. 2, 3 and 4) were inconsistent with the Constitution. Hence, the Court held that it required not only a two thirds majority vote in Parliament but also the approval of the people at a referendum. In essence the ruling affected the entirety of 20A. Clause 1 only referred to “This Act may be cited as the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution.” Clause 4, the last one, contained the usual interpretative clause which said “In the event of any inconsistency between the Sinhala and Tamil texts of this Act, the Sinhala text shall prevail.”

If there was no timely action on their part this week, coalition leaders realised, that the Elections Commission would gazette the date for nominations for the three PC elections. They knew that the Commission would thereafter set a date in December this year for the polls. Conducting a referendum to thwart the move was a high risk they did not wish to take. Hence they embarked on other hurried measures.

What 20A sought was to introduce a provision to enable elections to all Provincial Councils to be held on the same date. For this, the Government wanted to empower Parliament to determine the date (which is also referred to as “specified date’) on which PCs shall stand dissolved. Another provision was to include the term of office of any Provincial Council ending prior to the specified date to be deemed, to be extended. The term of any PC which continues beyond the specified date to stand dissolved on a fresh specified date. The third and final amendment was to enable Parliament to exercise powers of a dissolved PC until the specified date is determined.

That the SC held that 20A was not consistent with the Constitution was bad news for the coalition leadership. The first indications of their course of action emerged from President Maithripala Sirisena’s side. He did not favour the idea of an early PC poll. As is customary, he was the recipient of a sealed copy of the SC determination sent to Parliament.

Continue reading ‘How Maithri and Ranil Worked Hard Together to Garner a Two-Thirds Majority To Pass P.C. Elections Amendment Bill in Parliament’ »

‘Salli Saranang Gatchchami’: Vinaya Code Violated by Monks in Sacred Saffron Robes who are Being Exploited by Vile Politicians.

By

Don Manu

Perhaps, it signalled the beginning of the end for the ingrained respect the people of Lanka have long held sacrosanct in their hearts for the sacred saffron robe.

Last week, as monks took to the streets to ask the public their money to tinkle and jingle in monks’ begging bowls as alms, what the nation witnessed was a radical departure from the Vinaya Code as laid down by the Buddha for monks to follow in their speech, conduct and behaviour; and the emergence of a breakaway sect that seemed prepared to flout all religious norms and traditional practices in the interest of corrupt partisan politics.

But first a little bit of history.

The Buddha Sasana, the community of monks, was first established in Lanka by Arahant Mahinda, son of India’s Emperor Asoka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa who reigned over Lanka from the capital of Anuradhapura in 250BC. Unlike Winston Churchill announcing to the British Parliament at Westminster in 1940 after the Dunkirk debacle “that if the British Empire and the Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour” — it didn’t survive the decade — and unlike Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler proclaiming that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years — it didn’t last for a decade either — Devanampiyatissa Anuradhapura lasted for more than thousand three hundred years. And whilst it flourished as the nation’s capital, so did the Buddha Sasana thrive without sag.

But with repeated Chola invasions, the Sinhala kingdom was forced to abandon the historic capital and to seek new lodgings at Polonnaruwa where hope of resurrection of the glory of Anuradhapura bloomed for 150 years. But alas, the promise was not to last. With the Chola onslaughts, the Sinhala kings were forced to pack their bags and go further and further down south and set up their royal camps in Yapahuwa; then forced to move the caravan to Dambadeniya, to Kurunegala, to Gampola and then to Kotte and Kandy. With this migration and with the people dislocated, the Buddha Sasana was rendered virtually extinct.

Continue reading ‘‘Salli Saranang Gatchchami’: Vinaya Code Violated by Monks in Sacred Saffron Robes who are Being Exploited by Vile Politicians.’ »

Yahapalana Govt Following “Might is Right” Route of Rajapaksa May Result in “Yesterday Once More”.

By Chandani Kirinde

It is not unusual for any govt with a two-third majority in Parliament, to trespass on Constitutional provisions meant to safeguard the Fundamental Rights (FR) of the people and keep the Legislature in check. On Thursday (21), in Parliament, there was a classic example of this when the ‘Yahapalana’ Govt. decided that “might is right”, and used its large majority in Parliament to push through an Amendment to the Provincial Councils (PC) Elections Act, which helps it postpone elections to several PCs.

This was two days after the Supreme Court, in a majority decision, shot down the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which the Govt had set for debate on Wednesday. The Amendment would have helped extend the term of at least three PCs, the five-year term of which are set to lapse within the next two weeks, and also helped curtail the terms of the six other PCs, the terms of which end in 2018 and 2019.

The SC, by a 2-1 ruling said, “Advancing the election date will not violate the Constitution, as it will not deprive the voter of his franchise, as he will be able to exercise his vote in advance or, before the expiry of the date. On the other hand, the delay in exercising the franchise will affect the FR of the voters.”

Continue reading ‘Yahapalana Govt Following “Might is Right” Route of Rajapaksa May Result in “Yesterday Once More”.’ »

Primary Objective of Presidential Inquiry Commission Must be to Ferret Out the Truth for the Record.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

Applying Marx’s denunciation of historic personages repeating themselves ‘first as tragedy, second as farce’ to grotesque financial scandals in Sri Lanka is a tad adventurous. But there is no question that one satire follows the other, tragically and farcically, with little respite.


In the interests of sanity

Close upon Arjun Aloysius, principal shareholder and director of Perpetual Treasuries (Pvt) Ltd being declared a ‘non-compellable witness’ by the Commission of Inquiry inquiring into the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) bond issuance, his father-in-law, former CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran made other equally riveting news.

Mahendran attempted, through his counsel, to hold out that his appearance on summons and testifying before the Commission was a gracious concession. Under Section 7 (c) of the 1948 parent statute, the Commission has the power to summon ‘any person residing in Sri Lanka’. Based on this, it was argued that because Mahendran was resident in Singapore, he was not subjected to the Commission’s jurisdiction. However, he was anyway presenting himself and deserved to be treated courteously by his interrogators.

In the interests of sanity and basic common sense, it was a relief to see the Commission peremptorily putting the record straight, declaring that it was necessary that Mahendran obey the summons particularly in the context of his appointment as CBSL Governor. Previous reasoning as to why Mahendran’s son-in-law, Aloysius was allowed to claim the privilege against self-incrimination (referred to as the ‘golden rule of the law’) was meanwhile reiterated.

Continue reading ‘Primary Objective of Presidential Inquiry Commission Must be to Ferret Out the Truth for the Record.’ »

Blazing Verbal Battle In Parliament Between Rauff Hakeem, Rajitha Senaratne and Ravi Karunanayake

A verbal battle, where strong words were exchanged in the lobbies of Parliament, raised eyebrows among opposition MPs.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who is also the official Government spokesperson, and former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake lambasted Minister Rauff Hakeem, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader.

“This is a shameful thing to do,” lamented Senaratne.“You don’t know what gratitude is. We have done so much for your party and you still behave this way. Don’t forget there are more Muslims in our party too,” declared Karunanayake. He claimed the UNP has done so much for the SLMC. Hakeem responded angrily that their remarks would have only strengthened his and his party’s resolve to vote against the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill last Thursday.

Continue reading ‘Blazing Verbal Battle In Parliament Between Rauff Hakeem, Rajitha Senaratne and Ravi Karunanayake’ »

In Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Fantasy World There is no Right or Wrong but the Simple Exercise of his Will.

by Anura Gunasekera

About 2,600 years ago, Gautama Buddha, the first Buddhist thero and, unarguably, one of the noblest human beings to have trod the soil of this planet, following a vision derived from a spiritual awakening on conclusion of several difficult years of physical and mental hardship, walked the roads of his land, barefoot, on the first “Pindapatha ” journey. A merchant prince, having renounced all worldly possessions, ties and responsibilities, was taking the first few steps along the path of asceticism, frugality and uncompromising moral integrity, he had chartered for himself.

A few days ago, a large group of saffron–clad individuals, the present day flag-bearers of the Buddha’s austere creed, having alighted from a fleet of luxury vehicles – their normal mode of travel – undertook a similar journey; but the difference in purpose and integrity between these two journeys was much greater than the massive gulf of time and space which separated the two.

That which I now speak of was a journey in which the participating monks opened their begging bowls to a gullible public, not for food for their personal sustenance but in order to solicit money to pay a fine, rightfully imposed on two criminals by the country’s judiciary, determined on the conclusion of a strict legal process.

There cannot be a greater travesty of the Buddha’s teachings than this, nor a greater perversion of the principles of right conduct and right thought, first enunciated by that great being.

What is the crime that we speak of that Weeratunge and Palpita, two senior public servants have committed?

Continue reading ‘In Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Fantasy World There is no Right or Wrong but the Simple Exercise of his Will.’ »

“Yahapalana”Govt will Do Anything to Avoid Electoral Contest with Mahinda Rajapaksa led Joint Opposition.

by C.A.Chandraprema

The scenes in Parliament on Wednesday last week made Parliamentary history. Never before have we seen anything like the horse trading that went on at the last moment to get the amendments to the PC Elections Bill passed. When the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the All Ceylon Makkal Congress wanted the proportion of provincial councilors elected on the proportional representation system increased to 50% from the 40% that had been decided on earlier, the government agreed in order to get the two thirds majority needed to pass the amendments to the PC elections law that enables the government to postpone PC elections. For the government, these amendments to the PC elections law were literally a matter of life or death. If the elections to the Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern Provincial Councils could not be postponed, the government was staring defeat in the face.

At the presidential and parliamentary elections held in 2015, even though they were contesting against everyone else, the Mahinda Rajapaksa led UPFA won both the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces. So the result of an election in these provinces was a foregone conclusion. This upped the ante for the government and made them agree to anything to avoid what they had deemed to be certain defeat – an eventuality that would have had fatal consequences on their already tenuous hold on power. Hence the last minute horse trading that went on the floor of parliament to increase the percentage of the provincial councilors elected on the proportional representation system with no consideration given to what effect this will have on the stability of the provincial councils as institutions. This is a government that is engaged in a headlong quest for political survival and such considerations no longer matter.

Continue reading ‘“Yahapalana”Govt will Do Anything to Avoid Electoral Contest with Mahinda Rajapaksa led Joint Opposition.’ »

Prof. R.K.Guganesharajah of Surrey University Proposes Simple Brilliant Plan to Supply Water to Jaffna Utilising Rainfall into Vadamaratchy Lagoon.


A new project for water supply to Jaffna utilizing rainfall into the Vadmarachchi Lagoon with a surface area of 78 sq. km. was announced on Friday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Policy Development Office.

“The Project envisages making use of 20% of the annual rainfall in to the Vadamarachchi Lagoon with a surface area of 78 sq km. This project approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and the Chief Minister of Northern Province, is implemented under guidance of Vidya Jothi Eng. A.D.S Gunewardana, retired Secretary Ministry of Irrigation and retired Director of Irrigation,” a news release issued by the office said.

The Northern Development Committee, appointed by the Prime Minister, working out of the Policy Development Office, monitors implementation, it added.

Continue reading ‘Prof. R.K.Guganesharajah of Surrey University Proposes Simple Brilliant Plan to Supply Water to Jaffna Utilising Rainfall into Vadamaratchy Lagoon.’ »

UNP Stalwart Joseph Michael Perera Lashes Out Publicly at “I Dont Remember” Ravi Karunanayake For Sidelining him at Ja-Ela Meeting

In a dramatic turn of events, Former UNP Parliamentarian Joseph Michael Perera stormed into a UNP youth wing meeting in Ja-ela, chaired by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, and lashed out at the organisers for sidelining him.

Perara’s main allegation was that the organisers failed to give him a speech at the event, although he is the UNP organiser for the Ja-ela electorate.

The former Parliamentarian’s criticism was directed at Karunanayake and UNP MP Kavinda Jayawardena, the two main organisers of the event.

Continue reading ‘UNP Stalwart Joseph Michael Perera Lashes Out Publicly at “I Dont Remember” Ravi Karunanayake For Sidelining him at Ja-Ela Meeting’ »

Gas Stove Fire Causing Severe Burns to Actress-Politico Geetha Kumarasinghe MP Due to Negligence by her MSD Bodyguards

Actress-turned politician Geetha Kumarasinghe has accused her police bodyguards of gross negligence leading to a gas stove fire that caused her severe burns nearly three weeks ago, officials said.

In a statement to police after recovering from burns suffered at her home in the Welikada police area at the beginning of this month, Kumarasinghe said she blamed her Ministerial Security Division (MSD) guards for the incident.

She told police that she had instructed her MSD security guard and the driver to check on a gas leak at her kitchen, but both had given the all clear.

As she tried to light a coconut oil lamp for the Buddha, the entire area was engulfed in flames which burnt her.

Continue reading ‘Gas Stove Fire Causing Severe Burns to Actress-Politico Geetha Kumarasinghe MP Due to Negligence by her MSD Bodyguards’ »

Sarath Fonseka vs Jagath Jayasuriya: Clash of Two Ex- Army Commanders

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The recent spat – if one may call it that – between two former commanders of the Sri Lankan army has caused quite a furore. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka and Lieutenant-General Jagath Jayasuriya have engaged in a heated exchange over issues of both command and control responsibity as well as alleged war crimes. Sarath Fonseka served as Army commander from Dec 6th 2005 to July 15th 2009. His immediate successor Jagath Jayasuriya served as army commander from July 15th 2009 to July 31st 2013. The clash between Fonseka and Jayasuriya may very well be described as a battle between two ex – army commanders.

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka and Lieutenant-General Jagath Jayasuriya

The flare- up occurred when Lt.Gen Jagath Jayasuriya who was accredited to Brazil and five other South American countries as Ambassador got targeted by a human rights organization which sought to invoke universal jurisdiction against the ex -army chief turned envoy for war crimes allegedly committed during the war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). Jayasuriya who had returned to Sri Lanka by that time denied all such allegations.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka vs Jagath Jayasuriya: Clash of Two Ex- Army Commanders’ »

Deceitful Move to Postpone Provincial Council Polls in the Name of De-limitation by UNP-SLFP “Yamapalanaya” Government


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The Supreme Court’s order on the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution was one that wholly supported the democratic rights of voters. It clearly stated that any move by the government to postpone the Provincial Council polls – even to have them all on a single day – should be approved by a 2/3rd majority in Parliament and also at a referendum, because it is a major constitutional change.

So what does the Government do?

The resulting action at the Diyawanna Chamber of Lawmakers was to play a crooked game of deceit, showing little respect for Hulftsdorp, and play its now masterly Game of Delimitation to hoodwink the people about its commitment to democracy and postpone the Provincial Council polls.

Delimitation is the buzzword of this alliance of these charlatan democrats – be they green or blue in political colouring – and they readily used the borderline game to delay the PC polls and go ahead with their charlatan support for democracy.

Continue reading ‘Deceitful Move to Postpone Provincial Council Polls in the Name of De-limitation by UNP-SLFP “Yamapalanaya” Government’ »

Arjuna Mahendran Denies he Influenced Outcome of Central Bank Treasury Bond Auction on Feb 27 2015


By Himal Kotelawala

A senior Attorney General Department official assisting the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the controversial bond issuance yesterday suggested that Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had interfered with due process in the 27 February 2015 treasury bond auction, thereby influencing its outcome. Mahendran denied the allegation, claiming that bids were accepted in concurrence with the then CBSL deputy governors and senior Public Dept Department (PDD) officials, with the objective of raising funds to meet the unprecedentedly massive requirements of the Government.

Acting Solicitor General Dappula de Livera in his cross-examination of Mahendran said the Former Governor had meddled with the due process, with an ulterior motive in mind.

“I totally reject that,” said Mahendran.

Suggesting that Mahendran had “dragged” his two deputy governors, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and Ananda Silva with him to the PDD the second time he is said to have visited it, de Livera said that evidence the two had given, under oath, was that neither of them knew where they were even going.

“They went with you because you called them,” he said.

“We all agreed to go,” countered Mahendran, explaining that his two deputies had come into his office “because we had a problem.”

A sum of Rs. 172 billion had to be raised in March 2015, and Mahendran, he claimed, did not have the “foggiest” on how the Central Bank was going to do that.

“I was expecting them to guide me,” he said, adding that he had then suggested to them to go along with him to the PDD to see how much money the auction had raised.

Continue reading ‘Arjuna Mahendran Denies he Influenced Outcome of Central Bank Treasury Bond Auction on Feb 27 2015’ »

Sri Lanka Wont Accept Asylum Seeking Rohingya Muslim Refugees From Myanmar States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

by Saman Indrajith

The government will not accept any asylum seeking refugees from any country to Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.

The PM has also said the decision not to permit any refugees was taken in line with the Yahapalana government’s foreign policy.

The Prime Minister said so when he was asked by the Government parliamentary group yesterday about its standpoint over the Rohingya refugees seeking asylum in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Wont Accept Asylum Seeking Rohingya Muslim Refugees From Myanmar States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

India’s Rhetoric About Indian Leadership in Indian Ocean Does Not Match Realities on Ground.


By

Abhijit Singh

Last week’s Indian Ocean conference at Colombo generated much enthusiasm in India’s strategic circles. Organised by the India Foundation (a prominent Delhi think tank aligned closely with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government) in collaboration with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, the meeting drew participants from across the Indo-Pacific region, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Fiji, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US.

A slew of analyses by Indian observers, including a compelling post by Darshana Baruah in The Interpreter, hailed the meeting as another example of India’s invigorated Indian Ocean diplomacy. For many, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s call for the development of security architecture at the conference and for littoral states to strengthen cooperation created an unmistakable aura of responsible Indian leadership in maritime South Asia. Swaraj’s characterisation of the Indian Ocean as ‘not just a water body, but a global stage for social, economic and diplomatic dialogue’ seemed like the perfect premise for regional engagement.

And yet, the Indian commentariat’s endorsement of this energised maritime diplomacy does not obscure the paradox that Delhi’s political establishment increasingly faces, but refuses to acknowledge: that the rhetoric on India’s leadership in the Indian Ocean isn’t matched by the facts on the ground, which increasingly seem to favour China.

Continue reading ‘India’s Rhetoric About Indian Leadership in Indian Ocean Does Not Match Realities on Ground.’ »

Attorney-Generals Dept Counsel Assist Presidential Inquiry Commission Without Additional Remuneration says Addl Solicitor- General

Attorney General’s Department counsel assisting the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the bond scams yesterday deplored aspersions cast upon them by the senior counsel for former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran on Wednesday.

Following is the text of the Statement made by Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department, Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda:

“On 20th September 2017, following Senior Additional Solicitor General Mr. Dappula De Livera, PC, having made an application for a brief adjournment of proceedings to commence the examination of Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, while initially objecting to the application and later diluting that submission, President’s Counsel Mr. Romesh De Silva made reference to the team of counsel from the Attorney General’s Department assisting the Commission, participating at the Commission “at the tax payers’ expense”. Ostensibly, Mr. De Silva made such a reference following instructions to do so from his client Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, and having received fees to make such an utterance.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-Generals Dept Counsel Assist Presidential Inquiry Commission Without Additional Remuneration says Addl Solicitor- General’ »

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Asked Arjuna Mahendran to be Central Bank Governor


By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta and Sarath Dharmasena

Arjuna Mahendran admitted before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the bond scams yesterday that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had asked him to accept the post of Governor of the Central Bank.

Mahendran, giving evidence before the Commission of Inquiry, said he thought it was on the evening of Jan 08, 2015 that he had been asked to accept the post by the Prime Minister.

Mahendran said so in response to questions posed by Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera, PC.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Asked Arjuna Mahendran to be Central Bank Governor’ »

Tamil Film Star Kamal Haasan may Enter Politics With Aim Of Being Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

By

S.Venkatnarayan

Kamal Haasan

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder Arvind Kejriwal is now busy wooing Tamil film actor Kamal Haasan to enter politics. He flew down to Chennai today for lunch with the actor. Kamal Haasan’s youngest daughter Akshara received him at the airport.

Kamal Haasan, 63, recently confirmed that he is considering a political career. He met Kejriwal and other AAP leaders at his ancestral home in Chennai, which doubles up as his office.

The Delhi Chief Minister’s flash visit to Chennai comes on the back of his return to Delhi after a nine-day meditation break in Maharashtra.

The two men made comments praising each other. Kejriwal has asked Kamal Haasan to take the political plunge. They will stay in regular touch.

Nayagan (1987)

Kamal Haasan had last met the AAP chief in 2015 to discuss a film shoot in Delhi. “The current state of national politics will be discussed,” a source close to the Chief Minister had said on the lunch meeting. The two have been in touch over the past two years and share a “mutual respect”.

This is the second Chief Minister that the actor has interacted with after meeting Kerala’s Marxist Pinarayi Vijayan. At a meet organised by The Hindu Tamil last week, the actor had said: “Yes, I met Pinarayi and I may meet a few other Chief Ministers. This is political tourism.”
Continue reading ‘Tamil Film Star Kamal Haasan may Enter Politics With Aim Of Being Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.’ »

Govarthanam ♫ The unsung maestro of Tamil Cinema Music

by Vamanan

(R.Govardhanam passed away in Salem,Tamil Nadu on Sep 18th 2017)

R Govardhanam was neither an M S Viswanathan nor a K V Mahadevan in prolificacy of melodies, but it was the tacit conviction among Tamil film music connoisseurs that he was an equally gifted composer who came up with entrancing songs. Some, like sound engineer Sampath who was his colleague in AVM Studio, put down the scarceness of opportunities to plain ill luck, while his musical colleague and competitor MSV blamed it on his plain appearance. “One could mistake him for an accountant in a provision store,” MSV once remarked. Looks apart, the fact remains that Govardhanam was a fiend with notes — he had only to give ear to a piece of music before he poured out the notes in all their profusion.

R Kovarthanam (Feb 21, 1918 – Sept 18, 2017)

Govardhanam’s father had been an accountant in a grocery store, though he was a musician too. Govardhanam’s elder brother, R Sudarshanam had joined Gubbi Veeranna’s troupe and then worked in film music orchestras before helming one himself in AVM Studio and its gramophone record wing, Saraswathi Stores. It was while accompanying his elder brother to a recording, that 10-year-old Govardhanam’s natural proclivity of deciphering music had suddenly burst out in full bloom. After this, during a song recording, Nadaswaram exponent, Tiruvavadudurai Rajarathinam had played his beloved ‘todi’ to the boy and been astounded by the latter’s swiftness in scanning the raga’s notational contours.
Continue reading ‘Govarthanam ♫ The unsung maestro of Tamil Cinema Music’ »

Enforced Disappearances Bill and Distracting Conspiracy Theories Over Extradition.

by Gehan Gunatilleke

The concept of extradition features prominently in the recent debate over Sri Lanka’s Enforced Disappearance Bill. Opponents of the Bill claim that it enables the extradition of Sri Lankan citizens to foreign countries with no jurisdiction over offences committed in Sri Lanka. These claims are likely ill advised. Yet they probably stem from fears that such opponents genuinely hold. Thus they must be respectfully engaged through a careful analysis of the law, and ultimately by appealing to reason. This article explains the concept of extradition and aims to clarify how it will operate under the Bill, once enacted.

What is extradition?

Extradition involves the transfer of a person from one state to another. It takes place when a state with jurisdiction over a crime requests the transfer of a person accused or convicted of that crime, for the purpose of prosecution or punishment. The most important feature of extradition is something opponents of the Enforced Disappearance Bill often neglect to mention: the requesting state must have jurisdiction over the crime concerned to request extradition.

Continue reading ‘Enforced Disappearances Bill and Distracting Conspiracy Theories Over Extradition.’ »

Steering Committee Interim Report Wants “Unitary”in English Replaced by “Aikeeya Raajyaya” in Sinhala and “Orumiththa Naadu” in Tamil

By Saman Indrajith

The Steering Committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution has raised the hackles of some of its members by proposing that the term, ‘unitary state’ be done away with.

The Steering Committee interim report submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to the Constitutional Assembly yesterday states that people in the south are scared of the term, ‘federal’ while the people in the North fear the word, ‘unitary.’

The report says: “The classical definition of the English term ‘unitary state’ has undergone change. In the United Kingdom, it is now possible for Northern Ireland and Scotland to move away from the union. Therefore the English term ‘unitary state’ will not be appropriate for Sri Lanka. The Sinhala term ‘aekiya raajyaya’ best describes an undivided and indivisible country. The Tamil language equivalent of this is ‘orumiththa nadu.’ In these circumstances, the following formulation may be considered: Sri Lanka [Ceylon] is a free, sovereign and independent republic which is an aekeiya rajyaya/orumiththa nadu means a state which is undivided and indivisible, and in which the power to amend the constitution, or to repeal and replace the constitution, shall remain within the parliament and people of Sri Lanka as provided in this constitution.”

Continue reading ‘Steering Committee Interim Report Wants “Unitary”in English Replaced by “Aikeeya Raajyaya” in Sinhala and “Orumiththa Naadu” in Tamil’ »

Sri Lanka to be “Undivided and Indivisible Country With Maximum Devolution of Power to the Provinces” -Steering Committee Interim Report

The Steering Committee of Sri Lanka’s “Constitutional Assembly” presented its Interim Report to parliament, which, apart from being the country’ legislature, also functions as the “Constitutional Assembly” charged with the responsibility of drafting a new constitution for Sri Lanka.

The Steering Committee consists of the leaders of all political parties represented in parliament and is chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Interim Report is not a prescriptive document, but a rough draft of the issues to be addressed by the Constitutional Assembly. It mentions matters on which there has been consensus as well as those which had elicited conflicting views.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had campaigned hard to give the country a “federal” constitution with a wide measure of inalienable autonomy to the provinces within an “undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka”. But the mainstream Sri Lankan parties, including the two in the government – Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP and the United National Party (UNP) – opposed a federal structure tooth and nail.

As per the compromise arrived at finally, Sri Lanka is to be an “undivided and indivisible country” with “maximum devolution of power to the provinces.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to be “Undivided and Indivisible Country With Maximum Devolution of Power to the Provinces” -Steering Committee Interim Report’ »

“Agreement on New Constitution Between UNP and SLFP Will Determine Future of the Country” – Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Nearing the delivery of an election promise of the Unity Government, the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Steering Committee (SC) Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled an interim report promising the country to present a better Constitution, which will help develop the nation, keep Sri Lanka intact and cultivate peace and harmony among all citizens.

The interim report tabled yesterday at the Constitutional Assembly deals with matters covered by chapters 1 and 2 of the present Constitution, Nature of the State, Sovereignty, Religion, Form of Government, Electoral Reforms, Principles of Devolution and Land along with the formulations that reflect the deliberations of the SC. This interim report also includes the observations and comments by members of the SC on principles and formulations.

Delivering the historical speech, the Prime Minister said: “Today the Government took another step in presenting a new Constitution as a part of the pledge made on 8 January 2015. We expect to draft a Constitution which has no divisions such as race, religion, ethnicity or social background. It is a Constitution that will ensure equal distribution of the benefits of economic development. The Constitution should be used to widen democracy and establish peace and stability. These are unfamiliar things for us for over three decades. Building a strong economy and prosperity for all are some of our aims. The interim report is a legal document that can be used as the base to start discussions.”

Continue reading ‘“Agreement on New Constitution Between UNP and SLFP Will Determine Future of the Country” – Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

SLFP Wants Executive Presidency to be Retained in new Constitution For Country’s Stability.

By Saman Indrajith

The SLFP yesterday insisted that the executive presidency had to be retained if the unitary character of the state was to be safeguarded.

Addressing a press conference held in the Parliament complex, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said a president with certain executive powers was essential for the stability of the country.

“It was proposed by the UNP at the Steering Committee meetings that the executive presidency be replaced by an executive prime minister. We cannot agree as we do not see that as a solution to the problem. We are firmly of the view that an executive President is essential for the stability of the country” the Minister said, expressing his party’s views on the recently released Interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

De Silva said the SLFP had opposed the UNP’s proposal to have the President appointed by Parliament.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Wants Executive Presidency to be Retained in new Constitution For Country’s Stability.’ »

JVP Wants Executive Presidency to be Abolished in New Constitution.

By Saman Indrajith

The JVP says that the new constitution to be introduced should abolish the executive presidency if democracy is to be strengthened.

JVP leader and Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake said so, expressing views after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the Interim Report of the Steering Committee before the Constitutional Assembly that met in the Main Chamber of the House of Parliament.

Dissanayake said the JVP had a different view over the constitution. The electoral system should be changed, he said. “It should be done by way of a new constitution and not by any other means,” the JVP leader said. “The other matter is that the executive presidency should also be changed.”

Continue reading ‘JVP Wants Executive Presidency to be Abolished in New Constitution.’ »

SLMC Leader Hakeem Wants Foreign Minister Marapana to Summon Myanmar Ambassador To Ministry Over Rohingya Muslims Issue.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem has requested Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC to summon Colombo based Myanmar Ambassador over on-going violence directed at Rhohingya people in that country.

Minister Hakeem has made four recommendations in respect of the situation there. The following is the text of Hakeem’s letter to Marapana:

“Not a single day passes without the international media as well as the human rights community reporting on the horrendous crimes being committed against the people of the Rakhine Province of Myanmar. The unfortunate plight of the Rhohingya people has been staring squarely in the face of humanity for a few years now, with its intensity at unprecedented levels in the last few weeks.

“When crimes against humanity are perpetrated against a people on the grounds of race, religion, language, or ethnicity, or on any outer grounds, which appear repugnant to human conscience, it is our collective duty to do all that within our power to help bring an immediate end to it, ensure amelioration of the conditions of persecuted people, and to work with partners in the region and the world to facilitate their peaceful living, including return and resettlement in safety and dignity, with guarantees of protection and non-recurrence in the future. It is our strong belief that Sri Lanka, under the National Unity Government, is in a position to demonstrate initiative and/or leadership in ensuring such a positive outcome through peaceful means.

Continue reading ‘SLMC Leader Hakeem Wants Foreign Minister Marapana to Summon Myanmar Ambassador To Ministry Over Rohingya Muslims Issue.’ »

Draft New Constitution Interim Report of Constitutional assembly Steering Committee Presented By Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe


By

Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana

Sri Lanka’s future depends on the ability which the UNP and the SLFP possess to reach an agreement on the fundamentals of the new Constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Constitutional Assembly today.

The Prime Minister made this remark while presenting the interim report of the steering committee established under the constitutional assembly. The report was actually presented to the constitutional assembly by him.

“It is up to the SLFP and the UNP to reach an agreement on the fundamentals of the new constitution and the future of this country depends on the ability which the two parties have to reach such an agreement” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Wickremesinghe said keeping the unitary status of the country and maintaining the foremost status of Buddhism will be some of the fundamentals of the new Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Draft New Constitution Interim Report of Constitutional assembly Steering Committee Presented By Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Openly Insulting the Judiciary and Flouting the Constitution.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa today said the government has openly insulted the judiciary and flouted the Constitution by introducing changes to the Provincial Councils Election Bill through the backdoor.

Issuing a statement, he said these changes have been made when the Supreme Court (SC) had given a clear ruling that the extension of the terms of the Provincial Councils (PCs) or a postponement of elections would require a referendum in addition to a two thirds majority in Parliament.

He said all provincial councils will stand automatically dissolved in terms of Article 154E of the Constitution as they complete their five year terms.

“The Sabaragamauwa, North Central and Eastern provinces are to stand dissolved in a few days time. The other PCs will stand dissolved at various times in 2018 and 2019. Though the dissolution of the provincial councils will take place as scheduled, the latest changes to the provincial councils elections law will enable the government to indefinitely delay elections to the PCs on the excuse that constituencies need to be demarcated,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Openly Insulting the Judiciary and Flouting the Constitution.’ »

Current Constitution Making Exercise Could Create the Ideal of a Sri Lankan Identity and Sri Lankan Nation -R.Sampanthan

(Text Of Statement made in Parliament on September 21st 2017 by Leader of the Opposition and Trincomalee District MP Rajavarothayam Sampanthan)

Hon Chairman,

It is not my intention at present to comment on the matters contained in the Interim Report submitted by the Hon Prime Minister or the annexures tabled therewith. These matters will be dealt with at future meetings of the Constitutional Assembly that will be held for that purpose.

I wish to lay emphasis on the urgent relevance and importance of some aspects of the process that we are engaged in.

We are engaged in the process of making a Constitution for our country, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. As Sri Lankan Members of Parliament we on behalf of the people we represent are engaged in making the basic Supreme Law – the Constitution of Sri Lanka .

This is being done within the firm framework of a united undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka. This is the framework within which the Constitution will be evolved and which all of us will voluntarily acknowledge and accept

The successful conclusion of this Constitution making process on the basis of an acceptable reasonable and substantial national consensus would bring about a firm finality to this issue.

Continue reading ‘Current Constitution Making Exercise Could Create the Ideal of a Sri Lankan Identity and Sri Lankan Nation -R.Sampanthan’ »

Nowhere in the World can a State Without Jurisdiction Over an Offence Request Extradition.

By

Gehan Gunatilleke

It is most unfortunate that further confusion and misinformation is being disseminated on the issue of extradition. In an article appearing in the Island today (21 September), it is claimed that extradition under the Torture Act applies only to non-Sri Lankans, whereas extradition under the Enforced Disappearances Bill applies to Sri Lankan nationals as well. A cursory glance at section 7 of the Torture Act will clarify that this is simply untrue.

Section 7(1) – which precedes section 7(2) referenced in my earlier post – states:

“Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Minister in charge of the subject of Foreign Affairs shall inform the relevant authorities in any other State having jurisdiction over that offence, of the measures which the Government of Sri Lanka has taken, or proposes to take, for the prosecution or extradition that person, for that offence.”

This scheme of extradition can apply to a Sri Lankan national. For example, if a Sri Lankan commits torture in India (an ordinary citizen can commit torture if with the consent of a public officer), the state of India has territorial jurisdiction over that offence. Sri Lanka is then bound to extradite or prosecute this person, if a request for extradition is made by India.

Continue reading ‘Nowhere in the World can a State Without Jurisdiction Over an Offence Request Extradition.’ »

Changes in Electoral Law Will Abolish the Preferential Vote(Manape) System That Led to Intra-Party Rivalry and Violence.

The passage of a law to bring directly elected provincial council members has cut down campaign costs, paving the way for campaign financing laws, while expanding female representation, State Minister Eran Wickramaratne said.

Half the members of provincial councils will be elected on the basis of geographical seats instead of the current districts where candidates will only have to campaign in a small area at a lower cost and the balance 50 percent will elected on the party vote on a district basis.


The change ends the ‘manape’ or preferential vote, which has led to intra-party rivalry and violence.

The current administration is also hoping to make national parliament polls also on a mix of ‘first past the post’ and proportional representative basis.

“The change in the system will reduce the expense of elections,” State Minister of Finance Wickramaratne told EconomyNext.

Continue reading ‘Changes in Electoral Law Will Abolish the Preferential Vote(Manape) System That Led to Intra-Party Rivalry and Violence.’ »

Amended Provincial Councils Elections Act Will Ensure At Least 25 % Of Provincial Council Seats for Women.

The Sri Lankan parliament on Wednesday passed the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill to give 25% reservation for women in the Provincial Councils in the country, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A.Sumanthiran said.

Currently, women’s representation in the nine provincial councils is only 4.1%, although women are 51% of the Sri Lankan electorate, and Sri Lanka has had Universal Adult Suffrage since 1932.

Women’s representation is no better in the other elected bodies. It is 5.7% in the national parliament and 1.8% in the local bodies like Pradeshiya Sabhas, Urban Councils and Municipalities.

This, despite the fact that Sri Lanka boasts of having given the world its first woman Prime Minister Mrs.Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Her daughter Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who was twice elected as Executive President, holds the record of winning a Presidential election by a majority of 60%.

There is yet no law to reserve seats for women in the country’s parliament.

Continue reading ‘Amended Provincial Councils Elections Act Will Ensure At Least 25 % Of Provincial Council Seats for Women.’ »

It Is Best To Stick To The Existing System Of Devolution Agreed Upon With India,


By Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“Fuggetaboutit…”
– Johnny Depp, ‘Donnie Brasco’

It is old news that those who regard themselves as Sinhala nationalists always preferred the district to the province as the primary unit of the devolution of power. What is amazing though is that they do not recognize that this is no longer an issue in the real world of politics; only in their individual or collective imagination. Thus the debate on the district vs. province is a non-debate. It takes place only in a mono-ethnic echo chamber.

Why is it no longer a legitimate subject for debate?

Because Sri Lanka as a society and the Sri Lankan political class as an elite have realized at very considerable cost, that which is obvious. Namely that whenever there are more than one entity in any unit, in politics or in life, the name of the game is a relationship, not a unipolar, unilateral decision. Relationships are usually negotiated; they require consensus, agreement. Any relationship which is a one-sided imposition is doomed to fail and when it does, most others outside the relationship tend to take the side of the person who suffered the imposition rather than the one who imposed it.

What this means is that on an island in which there are more than one community, the shape of the structure within which they all live cannot be decided and imposed by any one community upon the other. It has to be the result of mutual agreement. That agreement may not be to the complete satisfaction of all parties concerned but it has to be one that all parties can live with. Of course, not all parties have an equal share in the outcome because not all parties are of the same size, just as in a corporate entity there are majority and minority shareholders. But all have to be consulted and compromises negotiated.

It is not for nothing that Gautama the Buddha preached the Middle Path and Aristotle, the Golden Mean. What is the middle path in Sri Lanka? The Sinhala nationalists want the district as the safest unit of devolution. The Tamil nationalists feel safest in a permanently merged North and East, i.e. the Northeast as a single unit; a region. President JR Jayewardene put it best in an interview given in the mid-1980s to the Editor of the Lanka Guardian when he said: “The Tamils say Regional Councils and no less; the Sinhalese say District Councils and no more. I say Provincial Councils.”

Continue reading ‘It Is Best To Stick To The Existing System Of Devolution Agreed Upon With India,’ »

Extradition Clause in Enforced Disappearances Bill is Identical to Section 7(2) of Torture Act Passed in 1994.

By

Gehan Gunatilleke

There is a lot of misinformation about the extradition clause in the Enforced Disappearance Bill. I would just like to point out that this clause is identical to the clause that we already have in the Torture Act of 1994. It was passed during the CBK government when Prof. G.L. Peiris was the Justice Minister:

Section 8 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill

Where a request is made to the Government of Sri Lanka, by or on behalf of the Government of a Convention State for the extradition of any person accused or convicted of an offence under sections 3 or 4, the Minister shall, on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, forthwith notify the Government of the requesting State of the measures which the Government of Sri Lanka has taken, or proposes to take, for the prosecution or extradition of that person for that offence.

Continue reading ‘Extradition Clause in Enforced Disappearances Bill is Identical to Section 7(2) of Torture Act Passed in 1994.’ »

Provincial Councils Elections Act Amended by 154 Votes For and 44 Against in Parliament. Polls for NCP,EP&Sabaragamuwa PC’s May be Held in Jan 2018

Sri Lanka’s parliament voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to amend the Provincial Council election Act giving greater representation to women, but also effectively delayed polls to three councils.

MPs voted 154 in favour and 44 against the controversial piece of legislation that came two days after the Speaker announced that the Supreme Court effectively shot down a move to postpone Provincial Council (PC) elections.

Only members of the Joint Opposition which is led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa voted against.

The lone abstention appeared to be the result of a government minister pressing the wrong button during electronic voting.

Continue reading ‘Provincial Councils Elections Act Amended by 154 Votes For and 44 Against in Parliament. Polls for NCP,EP&Sabaragamuwa PC’s May be Held in Jan 2018’ »

Despite Foreign Citizenship Arjuna Mahendran Can Be Compelled To Testify Says Presidential Inquiry Commission in Special Statement

By Himal Kotelawala

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the controversial bond issuance yesterday declared that despite former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s foreign citizenship he is indeed compellable to testify in the ongoing proceedings.

Making a special statement with regard to media reports on a submission made on Tuesday, Commission Chairman K. T. Chitrasiri said Mahendran being a foreign citizen does not take him outside the commission’s jurisdiction and that he had to obey the summons – especially after accepting appointment as CBSL Governor.

“He cannot claim he’s outside the law,” said Justice Chitrasiri.

Continue reading ‘Despite Foreign Citizenship Arjuna Mahendran Can Be Compelled To Testify Says Presidential Inquiry Commission in Special Statement’ »

Tamils Must Combine “Idealism” and “Realism” In Their Push For Highest Level of Autonomy.


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“This is the only deal.”

Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett in ‘Miami Vice’

At the heart of the Constitutional Question is the crux of the continuing Sri Lankan crisis. And that is what may be variously called the Tamil Question, the Tamil issue, the Tamil problem, the Tamil national question, the Tamil nationalities question, the Tamil ethnic issue etc. I tend to see it as Sri Lanka’s North-South Question.

What is the Tamil Question? It is the problem of accommodating the identity and aspirations for irreducible political space of a community with a justifiable sense of pride and achievement, and doing so while not impinging upon the identity and aspirations for a secure space, of the unique community that forms the majority on this small island placed on a strategic sea-lane and in close proximity to a massive landmass with a huge population.

Who controls the destiny of this island? Who should control it? Who can sustainably control it? Is it the majority community? The outside world? The minority or a coalition of minorities? The minorities together with the outside world? Or all those who have chosen to live on it as citizens and consider it their home? Obviously the last named category. The problem is that this is not a homogenous category but a segmented one. Therefore the challenge is to formulate the basis on which this island should be shared.

Since the constituent, component communities are not willing to adopt the melting pot model (Vijaya Kumaratunga said in a 1986 lecture at Fr. Tissa Balasuriya’s Center for Society and Religion that “inter-communal marriage is the only real solution”), which we approximated as Ceylon, the only solution is a Realist one of ‘spheres of influence’. The question then is how much autonomous power each sphere should have. That in turn leads to the question of whether such power should include sovereignty or a measure of it and if so how much.

None of these question can be posed or exist in a vacuum or as an abstraction. We are talking about autonomous spheres on a relatively small island located where it is, with the neighbors it has, and populated by the specific communities it is peopled with. Each of these communities have their distinctive identity, histories or imagined histories, myths and legends and collective consciousness—or in the words of that most unromantic and coldly realist of authorities on the National Question, Joseph Stalin, each collective has “a common psychological makeup manifested in a common culture”.

How then to accommodate politically, the Sinhalese and Tamils, not to mention the Muslims, as collectives i.e. as communities? By means of what political structures and sub-structures? Given the history and demography of the island, the respective autonomous spheres of influence cannot be equal or as act as counterweights to each other. There cannot be a bi-polar model on a small island next to a hostile landmass which was a jumping off point for invasions. Thus the autonomous spheres of influence must be uneven and hierarchical with the sphere located at the vulnerable, porous periphery firmly located within and under a strong overarching structure—a unitary state, de jure and de facto.

Continue reading ‘Tamils Must Combine “Idealism” and “Realism” In Their Push For Highest Level of Autonomy.’ »

Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran States he Never Discussed “Central Bank Matters” With Family Members Including Son in Law Aloysius.

By Himal Kotelawala

Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the controversial bond issuance yesterday, former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said he had recommended public auctions over private placements for treasury bonds taking into account the “stunningly large” amounts required by the Government for March 2015.

This decision, he claimed, reflected Government policy at the time and had been arrived at after holding discussions with the relevant Deputy Governor of the Central Bank who had, according to Mahendran, agreed with his suggestion.

The former Governor, during his examination by his attorney President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva, also implied that his “open door” policy was among the reasons he had visited the Public Debt Department around the time of the 27 February 2015 auction and that his visit offered him no advantage in terms of prior knowledge of the auction.

Before his client took the witness stand, PC De Silva told the commission that Mahendran was not a citizen of this country, nor was he a resident of this country, and therefore he could not be compelled to give evidence nor furnish any affidavits. He need not have even responded to the summons, he said. The Counsel also made a reference to last week’s order in respect of the compellability of witnesses to give evidence, particularly with regard to Mahendran’s son-in-law and former Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL) Director Arjun Aloysius.

“Well aware of that, [Mahendran] will testify in order to prove his innocence and to assist the commission,” declared De Silva.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran States he Never Discussed “Central Bank Matters” With Family Members Including Son in Law Aloysius.’ »

Inquiry Commission Seeks Explanation from Arjuna Mahendran About Missing Telephone Data From Two Mobiles for 11 Months.


By

Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta and Sarath Dharmasena

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, yesterday revealed to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) probing the alleged bond scams that data pertaining to calls taken from two mobile phones used by former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, for a period of 11 months, had gone missing.

The former Governor appeared before the Bond Commission yesterday.

ASG Kodagoda said that as the data in respect of the period under investigation by the CoI were missing they wanted to clarify some matters with Mahendran before proceeding with investigations.

Continue reading ‘Inquiry Commission Seeks Explanation from Arjuna Mahendran About Missing Telephone Data From Two Mobiles for 11 Months.’ »

Arjuna Mahendran Cant Be Forced to Give Evidence As He Is a Singapore Citizen Says Counsel Romesh de Silva PC.

By Sarath Dharmasena and Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

Former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran’s Counsel Romesh De Silva, PC, yesterday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI), probing the alleged bond scams that his client couldn’t be compelled to give evidence before CoI as he (Mahendran) was a Singaporean.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Mahendran Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recommendation in January 2015. Mahendran was replaced soon after the second bond scam involving the Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) came to light in March 2016.

Counsel De Silva said that Mahendran would give evidence before the CoI to prove his innocence though the CoI had informed PTL owner Arjun Aloysius that he (Aloysius) could remain silent.

Continue reading ‘Arjuna Mahendran Cant Be Forced to Give Evidence As He Is a Singapore Citizen Says Counsel Romesh de Silva PC.’ »

Lalith Weeartunga and Anusha Palpita Released on Bail By Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga

Former presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and TRC’s former director general Anusha Palpita were today released on bail by Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga.

They were earlier sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment after they were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC and using it to distribute ‘Sil Redi’ during the 2015 presidential election campaign.

Mr.Weeratunga and Mr. Palpita were each released on cash bail of Rs.100, 000 with three sureties of Rs.1 million each. Their passports were impounded by Court.

Courtesy:Daily Mirror

Nocturnal Zone in Dehiwela Zoo Will Be Open From 7.30 PM to 10.00 PM on Friday,Saturday&Sunday


A special nocturnal zone would be opened at the Dehiwala National Zoological Gardens for three days from 22, September, Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said yesterday.

The zoo will be opened on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7.30 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. Entrance fee for adults is Rs. 200 and for children Rs.100.

“The opening event will take place tomorrow under the patronage of Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera and the participation of several Ministers, ambassadors and Ministry Secretaries.

Continue reading ‘Nocturnal Zone in Dehiwela Zoo Will Be Open From 7.30 PM to 10.00 PM on Friday,Saturday&Sunday’ »

Supreme Court Informs Speaker That Proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment Requires two/Thirds Majority and Referendum

Sandasen Marasinghe and Camelia Nathaniel

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya informed parliament that he was notified by the Supreme Court that several clauses of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution were inconsistent with the Constitution and it required a referendum to legally establish the proposed Bill.

Hence, he told parliament that following a referendum, the said clauses will require a two third’s majority in parliament and the decision of the people will then be endorsed and certified by the President in accordance with article 80 of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Informs Speaker That Proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment Requires two/Thirds Majority and Referendum’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Raises Question in Parliament For the First Time After he was Elected Kurunegala District MP in August 2015


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa made history yesterday by raising a question for the first time after he became an MP in the current Parliament.

Rajapaksa, known for his stoic silence during Parliamentary proceedings, asked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when the Local Government election will be held.

Rajapaksa’s first question came two years after the current Parliament convened.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Raises Question in Parliament For the First Time After he was Elected Kurunegala District MP in August 2015’ »

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka says he was denied visa to attend UN due to war crimes allegations against Army

Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka Tuesday said he had been denied a visa to attend the UN general assembly because of unresolved war crime allegations against the military.

The war-time general, who is now minister of regional development, said he was due to travel to New York this week, but he was the only one in the Sri Lankan delegation not issued a visa.

Fonseka said he could not accompany President Maithripala Sirisena who left Colombo on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly.

“I was not given a visa because of the war crimes allegations against the military,” Fonseka told reporters. “That is why I say they must be investigated.”

Continue reading ‘Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka says he was denied visa to attend UN due to war crimes allegations against Army’ »

22, 000 Workers at Ceylon Electricity Board Continue Strike From Last Wednesday Despite Govt Threats and Intimidation.

By W.A. Sunil

Despite government threats and a campaign of intimidation, 22,000 workers at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) in Sri Lanka are continuing to strike. The stoppage, which began last Wednesday, has disrupted power supplies in several areas of the island.

The unions covering technical engineers and superintendents have also threatened to join the strike after the government reneged on a promised salary increase of 10 to 13 percent. Those unions said they may hold a two-day protest strike starting today, then consider whether to continue the action.

The power workers’ strike was called by the CEB Joint Trade Union Alliance (JTUA), a combination of unions. These include: the Ceylon Electricity Employees Union (CEEU), controlled by the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as well as the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS) and Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS), affiliated to the ruling coalition of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP).

The unions have sought to limit the strike to demands that wage discrepancies be rectified. The stoppage, however, is an expression of growing anger in the working class over the government’s attacks on social conditions.

Continue reading ‘22, 000 Workers at Ceylon Electricity Board Continue Strike From Last Wednesday Despite Govt Threats and Intimidation.’ »

Dismissed Deputy -Minister Arundika Fernando Who Demanded Millions From Maithripala to Support President Joins the Joint Opposition.

The sacked junior minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando joined former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s faction Tuesday, a week after he was told by the government that he will not be reinstated.

Fernando, who was called a rock star by his parliamentary colleagues after he rocked the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) faction of President Maithripala Sirisena, made a special statement before crossing the floor of the House.

“From today, I will work to ensure the collapse of this government,” he said just before taking a seat on the opposition benches.

Continue reading ‘Dismissed Deputy -Minister Arundika Fernando Who Demanded Millions From Maithripala to Support President Joins the Joint Opposition.’ »

Govt During Parliament Committee Stage will Hastily Amend Provincial Councils Election Act To Put Off PC Polls

By C. A. Chandraprema

The news that the judiciary had determined a referendum was necessary if the 20th Amendment was to be passed into law was out in the public domain by Friday last week. The purpose of the 20th Amendment was firstly to extend the terms of the existing PCs until around October 2019 when the election to the last PC becomes due and secondly to postpone all the elections to PCs until that date.

This was the provincial council equivalent of what the present government has already done to the local government elections. The LG elections which were due after March 2015 are yet to be held. It was possible to postpone the LG elections by simply delaying the delimitation process. In the case of the PCs however, there was no such readymade excuse available.

Furthermore, in the case of the provincial councils, under Article 154E of the Constitution, they stand automatically dissolved on the day they complete five years from their first meeting. If the PC elections are to be postponed, the first thing that needs to be done was to extend the terms of the existing PCs until an election is held. But, when the government gazetted the 20th Amendment for this purpose, there was an immediate rebellion within the SLFP, depriving the government of the two thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

Then the government decided to utilise the provisions of Article 154 G(2) of the Constitution, which allows an amendment to the chapter on provincial councils in the Constitution to be made with a simple majority in Parliament if all the provincial councils give their assent to the said Bill. On this basis, the President sent the 20A Bill to the provincial councils.

Continue reading ‘Govt During Parliament Committee Stage will Hastily Amend Provincial Councils Election Act To Put Off PC Polls’ »

Prejudices Against Rohingya Muslims are Perhaps Inherent to a Great Deal in Burmese Buddhist Discourse


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Narratives of horror in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine State and the squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh where nearly 400,000 Rohingya refugees live in subhuman condition after being chased out by the Burmese Army’s scorched earth campaign are distressing. Ethnic violence in Rakhine first erupted soon after Myanmar’s military junta relaxed its grip on political power in 2012.

A social media post by rabble-rousing monk Ashin Wirathu about an alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by two Muslim youth precipitated an orgy of ethnic violence that engulfed the Rohingyas. Since then the community has been confined in military guarded internment camps, with no right of movement.

Myanmar’s military dictator Ne Win disenfranchised Rohingyas in 1982 under the new citizenship laws, effectively turning them into the world’s largest community of stateless people, with no recourse to jobs, education, healthcare and even to birth certificates. The latest military crackdown was launched after a series of simultaneous attacks by Rohingya militants who have recently been waging a low level insurgency. Now media reports indicate a heavy dose of radicalization in the refugee camps, with a disturbing potential of a local grievance being exploited by the global jihad.

Continue reading ‘Prejudices Against Rohingya Muslims are Perhaps Inherent to a Great Deal in Burmese Buddhist Discourse’ »

Govt Puts Off Parliamentary Debate on International Convention on Enforced Disappearances Scheduled for Sep 21st.

By

Yohan Perera

The government has decided not to take up the debate on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances on September 21, Parliamentary Affairs and Lands Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said on Monday.

He also said this decision was taken during the UNP Parliamentary group meeting which met Monday evening with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the chair. It has also been decided not to take up the debate on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution as well.

Continue reading ‘Govt Puts Off Parliamentary Debate on International Convention on Enforced Disappearances Scheduled for Sep 21st.’ »

20th Constitutional Amendment Parliamentary Debate Scheduled for Sep 20th Postponed Indefinitely.

By Chathuri Dissanayake

The parliamentary debate on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed indefinitely, senior ministers have confirmed.

Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the debate on the constitutional amendment is to be postponed until President Maithripala Sirisena returns from New York. «The 20th Amendment will not be debated on Wednesday as planned. We will wait until the president returns from New York on 24 September to decide on the way forward,” he told Daily FT.

The matter has become the main focus of discussions between the two political parties in the Coalition Government. The United National Party (UNP) will take the matter up for discussion today at the group meeting, senior UNP minister and Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathilaka told Daily FT.

Continue reading ‘20th Constitutional Amendment Parliamentary Debate Scheduled for Sep 20th Postponed Indefinitely.’ »

Welikade Prisons Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmali Thenuwara Transferred to Colombo National Hospital With Immediate Effect.

By Norman Palihawadane

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday ordered Director General of Health Services Dr Jayasundara Bandara to transfer Acting Chief Medical Officer of the Welikda Prisons Hospital Dr Nirmali Thenuwara to the National Hospital, Colombo immediately.

A spokesman for the Health Ministry told The Island that the Minister had ordered the transfer of the Acting Chief Medical Officer following concerns raised by 19 doctors attached to the prison hospital.

The doctors met Minister Senaratne and submitted a report containing 26 allegations against Dr Thenuwara. They requested the minister to conduct an investigation into the charges. The Health Minister instructed his Ministry to hand over the report to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

The vacancy created by the transfer would be filled by Dr JK Malwattage, Ministry spokesman said.

Continue reading ‘Welikade Prisons Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmali Thenuwara Transferred to Colombo National Hospital With Immediate Effect.’ »

“There is no Legal Bar to My Becoming Prime Minister Again” – Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Interview

By

Sulochana Ramiah Mohan


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was said to be one of the colourful Presidents in the Asian region, amidst having to face political attacks from his opponents, said that he did his best for the country and he could defend himself on that. He also pointed out the presence of the Chinese was only to invest in projects and they had not influenced him otherwise.

On becoming the next Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the ex-President said, “The Constitution allows me to become the next Prime Minister. Firstly, we will have to win and then we will decide who should be the Premier.”


Excerpts of the Interview:

Question; One of the major crises faced by Sri Lanka is the external debt. The current Government and its supporters blame your Government for that. What is your response?

Answer:

The loans we took from China, Japan, the ADB and other sources were not for consumption but for the development of the country. If you go around the country you can see the road network, schools and new government buildings that we built. The improvement of the Colombo Port, construction of the Hambantota Port and the Mattala Airport, were all projects completed under my Government.

But the current Government’s policy is to use loans for consumption. They have no development work to show for all the loans they have taken. They have taken nearly USD 14 billion in foreign currency loans at commercial rates of interest in just two and a half years in power.

Continue reading ‘“There is no Legal Bar to My Becoming Prime Minister Again” – Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Interview’ »

Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka Demonstrate Against Each Others Standpoint Over the Rohingya Muslim Issue of Myanmar.

By

P/K.Balachandran

Reflecting the sharp communal divide in the country, Sri Lankan Muslims and Buddhists have been holding counter demonstrations in the island nation, opposing each other’s stand point on the Rohingya Muslim issue in Myanmar.

Both communities see the tragic events in Myanmar as a Muslim-Buddhist issue and not as a humanitarian or a human rights issue of humongous proportions.

It was in the Muslim-majority areas in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province that Muslims began demonstrating against the merciless killing of Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Continue reading ‘Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka Demonstrate Against Each Others Standpoint Over the Rohingya Muslim Issue of Myanmar.’ »

Sri Lanka Accedes to International Court of Justice Jurisdiction Over Dispute Resolution.

By

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

At the on-going September 2017 sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, the UK has written to the President of the Council to assert that a long standing dispute it has with the Mauritius cannot be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) because “those States must have consented to the ICJ’s jurisdiction. Neither the UK nor Mauritius have consented to disputes between them going to the ICJ.”

The dispute is to do with the UK’s commitment, as part of the decolonization in 1965, to cede the “Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes.” While admitting that the UK fully stands by this commitment, it also claims that at present, it is still “required for defence purposes.” Mauritius for its part has requested a UN General Assembly resolution to request the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory opinion on this.

In its own letter to the President of the Human Rights Council, and perhaps of interest to the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, Mauritius complains that “Diego Garcia was used as a transit point after September 2001 for rendition of persons to countries where they risked being subjected to torture or ill-treatment” and that “there is no justification for the United Kingdom to continue its unlawful occupation of the Chagos Archipelago.”

Making its case, UK’s letter to the President of the UNHRC says “The ICJ was founded on the principle that contentious cases between two States can only be taken to the Court by those States, and that those States must have consented to the ICJ’s jurisdiction.” It further states that “this should concern every UN Member State, as it would set a dangerous precedent for international justice which will affect us all.”

Indeed, we should heed the UK’s call. No Sri Lankan government would disagree. Or that’s what I had thought, but I was wrong. In ratifying the Convention on the Enforced Disappearances, the Yahapalana government has done exactly that which is warned against. It has acceded to the ICJ’s jurisdiction for dispute resolution.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Accedes to International Court of Justice Jurisdiction Over Dispute Resolution.’ »

2 to 1 Ruling by 3 Member Bench of Supreme Court on 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Conveyed to President and Speaker on September 14th



(Excerpts From the Political Column in the “Sunday Times” of September 17th 2017)

Plans are on the drawing board for the two coalition partners – the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) – to contest each other at an upcoming Provincial Council or Local Government election. It is most likely the PC polls will come first followed by elections to local government institutions.

Such a poll will also break with the tradition of two major political parties vying with each other during past elections. Entering the fray will be a third formidable group, the result of changes in the political landscape after the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015. This is the first time in two and half year that the SLFP and the UNP are parting ways for a poll which is significant. It will also be the first time that the coalition partners are seeking public approval for their two and half year Yahapalanaya or good governance rule.

The SLFP will field candidates under the umbrella of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). The UNP has revived its grouping under the United National Front (UNF). Emerging as the third force is the group led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Though he is the de-facto head of the Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP), talks are under way to form an alliance under a new name. Also in the fray is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Though it does not have a reach countrywide, it has its voter base in many districts. The North is a different political scene with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) dominating the area even though Provincial Council elections are not due there just yet. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has a foothold in the East, where PC elections are due.

For all these parties and even the Elections Commission, the focus this week has remained the Supreme Court determination on the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution. A three judge bench – Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Anil Gooneratne and Justice Vijith Malalgoda – which examined the draft amendments has already delivered its determination under sealed cover to the Speaker with a copy to the President. The SC heard some 23 petitions from political parties, civil society organisations and NGOs challenging the 20A. The Court’s determination — believed to be by majority 2-1 vote — was dispatched to the Speaker and the President on Thursday hours before Chief Justice Dep left for South Korea and then Japan to participate in the Chief Justices conference.

Continue reading ‘2 to 1 Ruling by 3 Member Bench of Supreme Court on 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Conveyed to President and Speaker on September 14th’ »

With 2 M.P.’s Crossing Over to Opposition, Sirisena’s Group of MP’s Comes Down to 40: Will More Desert Ranks This week?

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Having switched their allegiance to the Joint Opposition (JO), former Deputy Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando and State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Priyankara Jayaratne yesterday said that more SLFPers would desert the government this week.

They said a group of SLFP MPs would vote against the proposed 20 Amendment to the Constitution, aimed at postponing Provincial Council polls in Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North Central Provinces scheduled for Dec 9 this year. Jayaratne gave up his portfolios on Dec. 30, 2016 whereas President Sirisena stripped Fernando of his subjects on Sept. 12. Addressing the media at a temple in Punchi Borella, Jayaratne and Fernando said that their colleagues would vote against the 20 Amendment to the Constitution if it was taken up in Parliament on Wednesday (20).

Continue reading ‘With 2 M.P.’s Crossing Over to Opposition, Sirisena’s Group of MP’s Comes Down to 40: Will More Desert Ranks This week?’ »

President Stops Parliamentary Debate Over Convention On Enforced Disappearance Bill Scheduled for September 21st

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday said that it had received an assurance from President Maithripala Sirisena that the controversial International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances Bill wouldn’t be taken up for debate on Thursday (21)

The Bill is to give effect to the ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance’, to which Sri Lanka became a signatory on Dec. 10, 2015.

Addressing the media at a temple at Punchi Borella, JO spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said a delegation led by their parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena had made representations to President Sirisena on Saturday night. MP Gunawardena appreciated President Sirisena’s promise not to take up the Bill that had been listed for debate.

Continue reading ‘President Stops Parliamentary Debate Over Convention On Enforced Disappearance Bill Scheduled for September 21st’ »

All Future Elections in Sri Lanka will Be Held Under the First Past The Post Winner System says President Sirisena.

President Maithripala Sirisena says all future elections will be held on the first-past-the-post system.

The President says action will be taken to conduct the next parliamentary and provincial council election under that system.

President Sirisena said so addressing a group of North Central Provincial Councillors and SLFP Parliamentarians in Colombo on Saturday.

Continue reading ‘All Future Elections in Sri Lanka will Be Held Under the First Past The Post Winner System says President Sirisena.’ »

People’s Sanction by Referendum Needed to Pass 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Determines Supreme Court.


by C.A.Chandraprema

With just 15 days to go for the Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern provinces to automatically stand dissolved, the coming week will be a make or break period for the yahapalana government. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution is to be taken up for debate on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court we believe has already conveyed its determination on the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution. It was all over the social media that the SC had determined that the 20th A needed a referendum to be passed into law. No surprise in that.

In fact the surprise would have been if the SC had determined that no referendum was necessary to extend the terms of the PCs and to postpone elections. In any event the SC’s determination is to be announced in Parliament by the Speaker on Tuesday before the 20th Amendment is taken up on Wednesday for debate.

Since 20A had already been certified as a Bill to amend the Constitution, the role of the SC is to determine whether it needs to be approved at a referendum in addition to a two thirds majority in parliament. In this respect, the determination of the SC was a foregone conclusion.

Continue reading ‘People’s Sanction by Referendum Needed to Pass 20th Constitutional Amendment Bill Determines Supreme Court.’ »

Nine MP’s Abandon Idea of Quitting SLFP as President Sirisena Dismisses Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando.



(Excerpts From the Political Column in the “Sunday Times” of September 17th 2017)

Ahead of the polls the SLFP’s Central Committee has endorsed President Maithripala Sirisena’s move to field candidates on the UPFA ticket. The bulath kole (Betel leaf) is their symbol. Sirisena has chosen to take a tough line against party parliamentarians whom he believes are trying to “destabilise” the SLFP by consorting with the rival faction.

In a move that gave a strong signal to others, he sacked Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando from his post as Deputy Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs. Fernando visited Sirisena at his Paget Road residence to offer an explanation.

While he was there, the President asked Fernando to accompany him to an event in Orugodawatte, fuelling speculation that he had relented and apologised. A minister, Chandima Weerakkody in fact publicly stated they would see Fernando back in a separate ministry.

Continue reading ‘Nine MP’s Abandon Idea of Quitting SLFP as President Sirisena Dismisses Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando.’ »

M.H.M.Ashraff Was The Single Most Popular Mass Figure in Eastern Muslim Politics

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

September 16th 2017 is the seventeenth death anniversary of Mohammad Hussein Muhammad Ashraff, the uncrowned sultan of the Amparai district Muslims and legendary leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC). The pioneering president of the SLMC was Ahammed Lebbe of Kattankudi with whom Ashraff co-founded the party in September 1981. It was however MHM Ashraff who gave the Muslim Congress a new vision and direction after he assumed formal leadership of the party in 1986.

M. H. M. Ashraff (23 October 1948-16 September 2000)

Thanks to Ashraff’s visionary zeal and missionary energy the SLMC achieved many, many things during the fifteen years he was at the party’s helm. His charisma, political acumen, dedication and sterling qualities of leadership enabled Ashraff to mould the long overlooked Eastern Muslims into a viable political entity and lead them like a latter day Moosa Nabhi or Moses through the wilderness on the route to a promised land of milk and honey.

As in the case of Moses it was not Ashraffs destiny to enter the promised land as a mysterious airplane explosion obliterated one of the brightest stars of the Lankan political firmament in the prime of life. Until death he remained the undisputed “Thesiya Thalaiver” (National Leader) of the North – Eastern Muslims

Continue reading ‘M.H.M.Ashraff Was The Single Most Popular Mass Figure in Eastern Muslim Politics’ »

President Sirisena Visits the 19th International Book Fair Being Held at the BMICH In Colombo

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, on Friday, launched the Colombo International Book Fair, which is an annual mega book exhibition featuring local and international authors and publishers.

Chairman of Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association, H. Premasiri, speaking at the launch said that over 400 international and local book stalls would be open at the exhibition including a Chinese section featuring books from well known authors in China.

President Maithripala Sirisena perusing books inside the Vijitha Yapa Bookstall at the 2017 Colombo International Book Fair, BMICH.
on Friday September 15th . Seen alongside is Mr.Vijitha Yapa, Chairman of Vijitha Yapa Bookshop (pvt)Ltd.

He said 2017 was a year in which Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association and China Book Publishers and Printers Association had further strengthened its relations and he was glad to note that China had opened a cultural center in Colombo.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Visits the 19th International Book Fair Being Held at the BMICH In Colombo’ »

Incorporating Convention on Enforced Disappearances Into Local Law Wii be Even More Dangerous Than Setting Up the Office of Missing Persons.

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The Office of Missing Persons Act was gazetted into operation last week by the President. This is one of several institutions to be established ‘to deal with the past’ in terms of the UNHRC resolution that the Yahapalana government co-sponsored with the Western powers in October 2015.

Even though it is described as an ‘office’ the proposed OMP will be a tribunal for all practical purposes which can examine witnesses, issue summons and hold hearings. Its officers can enter without warrant, at any time of day or night, any police station, prison or military installation and seize any document or object they require for investigations.

Anyone who fails or refuses to cooperate with the OMP may be punished for contempt of court. According to Section 21 of the draft legislation, the OMP will have the power to receive funding directly from any foreign source.

Government bodies at all levels including the armed forces and intelligence services are mandatorily required to render fullest assistance to the OMP and the provisions of the Official Secrets Act will not apply to the proposed institution.

According to Section 12 (c) (iii) the OMP can admit as evidence any statement or material disregarding the criteria laid down in the Evidence Ordinance. The provisions of the Right to Information Act will not apply to the work of the OMP.

No court, not even the Supreme Court can order any officer of the OMP to submit to courts any material communicated to him in confidence.

Given all this, making the OMP Act operational is certainly bad news – especially because this body can obtain funding from overseas. The Western powers have taken over various UN bodies by funding them and it is a foregone conclusion that the OMP will be operated not so much by the government of Sri Lanka as by the West.

Continue reading ‘Incorporating Convention on Enforced Disappearances Into Local Law Wii be Even More Dangerous Than Setting Up the Office of Missing Persons.’ »

Inquiry Commission’s Predicament Over Arjun Aloysius Testimony Shows There is no Alternative to Proper Working of Criminal Law.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The Order by the Commission of Inquiry into the issuance of Treasury Bonds by the Central Bank declining to compel Arjun Aloysius, principal shareholder and director of Perpetual Treasuries (Pvt) Ltd to give evidence before it, raises interesting points of law for consideration. Indeed, its effect has wider ramifications beyond the subject matter of this Commission.

Privilege against self-incrimination pleaded

In its Order, the Commission has exhaustively listed as to why it is ‘desirable’ that the CEO of Perpetual Treasuries give evidence with regard to matters that go to the heart of the financial scandal being inquired into. It has also detailed objections raised by his senior counsel to his being compelled to give testimony. These objections center on the constitutional protections that every person is entitled to a fair trial by a competent court and presumed innocent until proven guilty.

It was contended that if he is compelled to give evidence, that may tend to incriminate him. There was ‘every possibility’ of a charge or indictment being made against him. Therefore, compelling him to give evidence may prejudice his right to a fair trial in the event of him being prosecuted for an offence or offences. This was in the context of the well-established principle of evidence that an accused person cannot be made to incriminate himself.

The Commission is empowered under the 1948 Act to recommend ‘action that it considers necessary to be taken against persons whose conduct is the subject of the inquiry or investigation or who is in any way implicated or concerned in the matter.’ A further concern was a 2008 amendment to the Act which empowers the Attorney General to institute criminal proceedings in respect of any offence, on material collected by a Commission.

Continue reading ‘Inquiry Commission’s Predicament Over Arjun Aloysius Testimony Shows There is no Alternative to Proper Working of Criminal Law.’ »

Lalith Weeratunga Becoming the Fall Guy in the “Sil Redda” Affair is a Colossal Shakespearean tragedy.

by Jolly Somasundram


“I have done some service to the State”.

– Shakespeare: Othello

The Sept. 10 editorial in the Sunday Island titled “Lalith Weeratunga” is timely, reflective and balanced. It ironises on the predicament faced by an honest and efficient SLAS Officer Lalith Weeratunga, the former Secretary of President Rajapaksa, (a Secretary to the President is the number one public servant of Sri Lanka). The predicament was caused by a land mark judicial decision: Lalith was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment, fined significant sums by the Colombo High Court Judge. He was walked handcuffed to the Black Maria on his way to prison. Lalith was dealt with not for corruption but for carrying out a Presidential suggestion, to divert state funds to finance the President’s election bid.

His implementation of this illegal suggestion, violating sacred election laws, was a body blow to Democracy and a moral horror. The Nuremburg principles laid down that an illegal directive cannot be implemented. No claim could be justified on the basis that that an illegal directive was made by a superior authority. As far as known, the sentencing of Lalith is the first instance in independent Sri Lanka, where an official had been judicially indicted for misdiversion of state funds, to help an election contest to boot.

Watch dog organisations went berserk with delight at the sentencing, claiming credit for the schadenfreude. Ranjith Keerthi Tennakoon, head of The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE,) preening with rock star allure, was euphoric. He expressed a groanworthy “heartfelt thank you” to Election Monitors, PAFFREL, CMEV, and TI, Ravi Waidyalankara, Thusith Mudalige(Anti-Corruption Secretariat), and Wasantha Samarasinghe of the JVP and others for continuously “pushing for justice”. Lilliputians, who would never have made it to the SLAS, brought down a giant and tied him head and foot within prison. The Sunday Island of September 10 had another view of Lalith. The same editorial went further, “Few, if any, would have taken pleasure at the High Court conviction of Lalith Weeratunge” it said.

Continue reading ‘Lalith Weeratunga Becoming the Fall Guy in the “Sil Redda” Affair is a Colossal Shakespearean tragedy.’ »

Buddha’s Teachings Especially His Rejection of Violence Are Being Observed in the Breach in Myanmar as in Sri Lanka

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Ill at ease in the tyranny, ill at ease in the republic,In the one I longed for freedom,in the other the end of corruption.”
Czelaw Milosz (To Raja Rao)

“All fear punishment, all fear death, comparing oneself with others, one should neither kill nor cause to kill.” That was Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, as rendered in the Danda Vagga (The Rod of Punishment) of the Dhamma Pada. That injunction against causing hurt, harm or death covers not just all humans but all living beings. That one stanza would have sufficed to prevent the unfolding tragedy of the Rohingya people, had Buddhists of Myanmar paid even an iota of attention to what Buddha taught.


But in Myanmar, as in Sri Lanka, the Buddha’s teachings, especially his unequivocal and total rejection of violence, are being observed only in the breach.
According to latest UN statistics almost 400,000 Roping people, men, women and children, had fled their homes to Bangladesh, triggering a massive humanitarian crisis. The fact that this ethnic-cleansing is being committed in the name of Buddha and Buddhism demonstrates that the contagion of violent-intolerance is not the legacy of any one religion.

Divide and rule did not end with colonialism. The generals who controlled Myanmar during much of its post-independent history fanned the flames of religio-racial hatred against the Rohingya minority as a way of gaining Buddhist-Burman support. The Rohingyas served as ideal scapegoats – Muslims in a land of Buddhists, different and alien in many ways, from cultural practices to skin colour. But the generals alone could not have succeeded in transforming quotidian suspicion and dislike on the part of ordinary Burmese into an all consuming phobia and hatred. That radical change was made possible by the work done by a segment of Burmese Buddhist monks, especially those associated with Ashin Wirathu’s 969 Movement and its successor, MaBaTha. These extremists monks embraced of blood-and-faith nationalism and turned visceral hatred of Rohingya Buddhism into a new article of faith. They rendered religio-racial hatred respectable and popular; they made it seem compatible with democracy, and depicted it as necessary to the protection of Burmese Buddhism.

Continue reading ‘Buddha’s Teachings Especially His Rejection of Violence Are Being Observed in the Breach in Myanmar as in Sri Lanka’ »

Why Aung San Suu Kyi is Silent About the Persecution of Rohingya Muslims In Burma!


By

Joshua Kurlantzick

Burma is essentially run by one of the world’s most lauded humanitarians — a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a democracy icon. Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the party in charge of the government, suffered more than two decades of repression, including a long house arrest, rather than leave the country or abandon her quest for elections.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Yet since her party took power last year, Suu Kyi — the country’s de facto leader, though not its official president — has stood by and watched the slaughter and flight of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya, a Muslim minority more than a million strong. In 2016, Burma’s military was engaged in a campaign of brutal suppression in Rakhine state, in the west of the country. Then, scattered attacks by Rohingya militant groups on police posts prompted an even harsher counterattack from the generals, reportedly joined by vigilante groups and other state security forces. That cycle intensified further this summer.

Smoke is seen rising from Burma’s Taung Pyo Let War village from across the border in Bangladesh. © 2017 Private-via @HRW

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other monitors have cited expulsions of Rohingya from towns, campaigns to burn whole villages and killings by the armed forces in Burma (which is also called Myanmar) . In recent weeks alone, some 370,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh, according to United Nations estimates. The U.N. rights chief calls the campaign in Rakhine a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” NPR noted that “reports of unbridled murder and arson, rape and persecution have followed [Rohingya] out of Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, sketching a stark portrait of government violence.”
Continue reading ‘Why Aung San Suu Kyi is Silent About the Persecution of Rohingya Muslims In Burma!’ »

Likelihood of Supreme Court Stipulating Referendum for Proposed 20th Amendment Places Maithr-Ranil Govt in a Quandary.

Sri Lanka’s independent Election Commission may be compelled to hold three provincial council elections this this year in the likely event of the Supreme Court this week insisting on a referendum on the proposed 20th amendment to the constitution.

Legal sources said the three-judge bench headed by chief justice Priyasath Dep was expected to give its ruling this week to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on the constitutionality of the proposed 20th amendment. The others on the bench are justices Anil Goonaratne and Vijith Malalgoda.

The controversial 20th amendment seeks to hold all local elections on a single day, but it also means having to put off elections to councils whose term expire before several others whose term can continue till 2019. The nine provincial councils had been elected at different times with Uva and the South being the latest to be elected in 2014 for a five year term.

Continue reading ‘Likelihood of Supreme Court Stipulating Referendum for Proposed 20th Amendment Places Maithr-Ranil Govt in a Quandary.’ »

“Eliya” s Mission is to Educate the People About the Dangers of Allowing Our Rulers to Introduce a New Constitution.

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe

The reaction to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s (GR) new movement, “Eliya”, is revealing. On one hand,an invitee-only 1,000 guest function became an open event as many people just turned up and insisted on remaining. Finally, an audience of about 2,500+ in three halls watched the whole two and half hour event in rapt attention – some standing throughout. Many others, trapped in the unprecedented traffic jam, missed the event. On the other hand, mainstream media and political pundits in their scepticism and curiosity over issues irrelevant to Eliya’s objective, missed the whole point.

Many misread Eliya as a Joint Opposition (JO) project. In a way, they cannot be faulted for nearly all JO MPs attended the event. It surprised even the JO to see such a large turnout of JO that is not present in its own events.

The presence of all the Rajapaksa brothers from MR, CR and BR and even the young nephew NR further added to the distraction. The Rajapaksa brothers sitting in a row took the attention from the ones who were actually part of Eliya and who had come forth to speak on behalf of it. Just looking at the Rajapaksa siblings (and nephew) and the large presence of JO, many pundits pronounced that GR has finally entered the political arena.


Only time will tell if it is indeed the case. However, looking at the composition of the committee and the speakers who were clearly visible, seated on the stage, does not support the pundits’ verdict. It supports more the mission of Eliya as stated by GR.

Continue reading ‘“Eliya” s Mission is to Educate the People About the Dangers of Allowing Our Rulers to Introduce a New Constitution.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Uses “Sil Redi Vyapruthiya” as a Religious Veil to Cover His Corruption and Politics of Chicanery.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The judgement by the High Court, Colombo on the “Sil Redi” issue, apart from the sentence of imprisonment on the former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeeratunga and the former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita, is showing signs of moving to a major encounter between the forces of politics and the powers of the judiciary.

The fact that this was the first case involving alleged fraud and corruption under the previous Rajapaksa Regime, has certainly made it an issue with important political impact in the context of the pledge given by the Yahapalana campaigners to make the fight against corruption a key aspect of its policies. It is important to recall that the pledge in that campaign was to fight, expose and bring to book the politicians in that government who were carrying a repulsive image of their involvement in fraud and corruption.

What has happened is that two public officers, have been the first to be found guilty. The question now arises as to when the politicians, whatever rank they may have held, and the members of their families and other players in that carnival of corruption would be exposed and brought to book.

Weeratunga and Pelpita have now filed their appeals against the High Court judgement in the Court of Appeal, and have thus gone back to the judiciary in the hope of obtaining acquittals, or a reduction in the convictions, in keeping with the process of law. It is important to bear in mind that the High Court in making its order in this trial was very clear that neither Weeratunga nor Pelpita had personally benefited in any way with the huge sum of Rs. 600 million involved in this exercise of the buying and distribution of Sil Redi, during the campaign of the last presidential election.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Uses “Sil Redi Vyapruthiya” as a Religious Veil to Cover His Corruption and Politics of Chicanery.’ »

“Eliya” Wont be an Easy Opening To Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Candidacy for National Leadership

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

While the fight against corruption gained new strength, the political strategies of the defeated forces of corruption have taken a new stride in political organisation, with the launch of the “Eliya” movement, which does not bring much light as the name indicates, but throws out the so far uncertain candidate for political leadership, from the Rajapaksa family. This is the emergence of the Military cum Administrative hulk, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who has so far been trying to show that he had little interest in politics.

With the definite reality that Mahinda Rajapaksa will not be the next national leader, being kept out of the presidency by the 19th Amendment, the Rajapaksa forces have organised what is seen as a new intellectual leadership, – with academia, diplomats, clergy of different faiths, and professionals who have clearly moved to racist and majoritarian thinking, to present Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the next leader of the Sinhala majority.

The “Gota Eliya” exercise was mainly structured on criticism of constitutional changes – especially the proposal for a new Constitution, which has been a key policy issue of the Yahapalanaya alliance. The “Eliya” makes it clear that they are not in favour of any new constitution, and also oppose constitutional reforms that could lead to a wider democracy, and the progress of the thinking and policies of reconciliation and nation building.

Continue reading ‘“Eliya” Wont be an Easy Opening To Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Candidacy for National Leadership’ »

Mahinda Loyalist Buddhist Monks Beg for Cash To Pay the Fines of “Sil Redi” Misappropriation Case Convicts.

Dozens of Buddhist monks loyal to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa begged from office to office in Colombo today seeking cash to pay fines slapped on two former top officials convicted on corruption charges.

The monks walked one behind the other with two women leading them and asking bystanders to donate only cash. Usually, monks on routine begging are offered food for the consumption of the clergy.

The Buddhist monks are trying to collect 104 million rupees — the collective fine and penalties imposed on former presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) director general Anusha Palpita.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Loyalist Buddhist Monks Beg for Cash To Pay the Fines of “Sil Redi” Misappropriation Case Convicts.’ »

President Sirisena’s daughter Chathurika Sirisena Launches Book Written by Her “Janadhipathi Thaththa” (The President My Father)

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

President Maithripala Sirisena’s daughter Chaturika, said at the launch of the book authored by her titled, “Janadhipathi Thaththa”, that she had no intention of entering party politics but would use politics for community service, women empowerment and social justice.

“So many people, including my friends keep asking me when I enter politics. I am reminded of what Aristotle said that man is either a political animal or an outcast. Though I agree with him, I have no desire to indulge in politics but to engage in social welfare,” she said at the ceremony held at the BMICH at the launch of the book which describes her father’s political journey.

Ms. Sirisena said from early childhood she realised that her family was different from other families in the village. She said, she, her sister and brother were inquisitive and witnessed the numerous meetings held at their home with people walking in and out most of the day.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s daughter Chathurika Sirisena Launches Book Written by Her “Janadhipathi Thaththa” (The President My Father)’ »

Weeratunga and Pelpita Convicted by Court for “Dishonestly Misapprpriating” 600 Million Were Fostering and Protecting Buddhism Says Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has alleged that the former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita had been penalised for carrying out the previous government’s instructions issued in terms of Article 9 of the Constitution to foster and protect Buddhism.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by former President:

“The former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita were declared guilty by the High Court under Section 386 of the Penal Code of ‘dishonestly misappropriating’ a sum of Rs. 600 million belonging to the TRC by remitting the said sum to a bank account of the Presidential Secretariat to be used for the purpose of distributing sil redi during the last Presidential elections. They have each been sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment, a fine of Rs. two million and either the payment of Rs 50 million in compensation to the TRC or a further two years of rigorous imprisonment. Many people including the media have asked me about this matter and I feel I should make my views known to the public.

“To say that this conviction and sentence has shocked the country would be an understatement. The judgment itself states that neither Lalith Weeratunga nor Anusha Pelpita had appropriated for their personal use any of the money used to purchase sil redi. From my point of view, they only carried out legitimate instructions issued to them by the President of the country. The verbal instructions given by me in this regard have been recorded in the form of minutes placed by Mr Weeratunga on correspondence with officials of the Presidential Secretariat. On 20 March 2014, Mr Weeratunga wrote a minute to the Senior Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Secretariat outlining eight projects that I had ordered funded through the President’s Special Development Fund during the year 2014.

Continue reading ‘Weeratunga and Pelpita Convicted by Court for “Dishonestly Misapprpriating” 600 Million Were Fostering and Protecting Buddhism Says Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

European Union Has Important Concerns Over Lack of Concrete Progress in Key Areas By Sri Lanka.

The European Union praised Sri Lanka for progress in human rights, and labour and environmental standards, but said more action was needed to comply with international conventions including ending torture to retain duty free market access.

A team of senior officials from Brussels have been in the country for the last 10 days on a fact-finding mission, the EU embassy said in a statement.

“The mission has focused on the status of the implementation of 27 international conventions of which Sri Lanka is a signatory,” it said.

Continue reading ‘European Union Has Important Concerns Over Lack of Concrete Progress in Key Areas By Sri Lanka.’ »

“Sri Lanka Has Largely Failed To Implement the Consensus UN Resolution” – Human Rights Watch.

United Nations member countries at the Human Rights Council in Geneva should press Sri Lanka to promptly meet the targets of the council’s October 2015 resolution for transitional justice, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The human rights outfit in a statement issued from Geneva said:

Sri Lanka should put forward a time-bound and specific implementation plan on the four transitional justice mechanisms it agreed to establish as pledged in the resolution.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid al Ra’ad Hussein, in his opening remarks at the council on September 11, 2017, highlighted Sri Lanka’s lack of progress, and called on the government to realize that its obligations are not a mere “box-ticking exercise to placate the council but as an essential undertaking to address the rights of all its people.”

“Governments at the Human Rights Council should be clear with Sri Lanka that setting up various reconciliation offices and talking of progress is not the same as implementing the 2015 resolution,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Long-suffering Sri Lankans need to see the resolution fully carried out, and they need to see evidence that justice is being achieved.”

Continue reading ‘“Sri Lanka Has Largely Failed To Implement the Consensus UN Resolution” – Human Rights Watch.’ »

Signing International Convention on Enforced Disappearance Will Clear Way For Extradition of Sri Lankan Nationals

By

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is to be voted on in Parliament on the 21st of this month. Just 6 days away.

The Convention came into force on the 23rd December 2010. So far, of the 193 member states of the United Nations, only 57 countries have become State Parties by ratifying it. State Parties have voluntarily undertaken to be bound by its provisions. Sri Lanka became a State Party on the 26th of May 2016. Just over a year ago.

Of cardinal significance is that the UK and the US have not become State Parties. When Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government whether it intends to sign the bill, Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) had this to say:

“The Government needs to conduct a detailed analysis of the provisions of the treaty and their implications for implementation in order to determine the UK’s position towards ratification, including whether we would need to make any reservations. The UK did not sign the convention at the signing ceremony in Paris on 6 February because the UK does not sign international treaties unless it has a firm intention to ratify within a reasonable time frame. We understand that 57 states, including 10 member states of the European Union, have so far signed the convention…”

Continue reading ‘Signing International Convention on Enforced Disappearance Will Clear Way For Extradition of Sri Lankan Nationals’ »

Has President Sirisena Violated 19th Constitutional Amendment by Gazetting Office of Missing Persons as Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation?

At long last, on Tuesday, Sri Lanka got what the minority Tamils and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have been demanding since the separatist war ended in May 2009 – an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) – to trace 21,000 to 40,000 persons still not accounted for.

But constitutional experts say that the gazette notification on the setting up of the OMP is unconstitutional. If challenged in the Supreme Court, and if the court strikes down the notification, the larger process of finding the missing would be derailed and post-war ethnic reconciliation will remain a far cry.

An overwhelming majority of the missing are Tamil civilians – mainly young men and women.

Continue reading ‘Has President Sirisena Violated 19th Constitutional Amendment by Gazetting Office of Missing Persons as Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation?’ »

Arundika Fernando Who Tried to Make Financial Deals With Both the Opposition and Govt Wont be Re-appointed by President

The sacked junior minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando met with President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday seeking reinstatement, but was told no way and that there may be more sackings.

Fernando’s Puttalam district Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was immediately taken over by another SLFP deputy minister Nimal Lanza who had earlier been in a list of possible defectors to the Joint Opposition.

“President had a meeting with SLFP ministers and deputies on Tuesday night and mapped out a plan to restructure the party organisation,” SLFP spokesman Dayasiri Jayasekera said.

Continue reading ‘Arundika Fernando Who Tried to Make Financial Deals With Both the Opposition and Govt Wont be Re-appointed by President’ »

Arjun Aloysius Openly States to Presidential Inquiry Commission That he Does not Want to Testify Before the Commission

By

Shehan Chamika Silva

Perpetual Treasuries Owner Arjun Aloysius today informed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the bond issuance that he did not want to testify before the commission on legal instructions he received.

At the onset of today’s proceedings, his counsel Gamini Marapana PC commending yesterday’s order given by the commission told that his client is not keen to give evidence.

At this point, the commission stressed that it wanted Arjun Aloysius to officially convey his wish to the commission.

Continue reading ‘Arjun Aloysius Openly States to Presidential Inquiry Commission That he Does not Want to Testify Before the Commission’ »

Arjun Aloysius Cannot be Compelled to Testify Before Presidential Inquiry Commission if he Refuses to do so.

By Himal Kotelawala

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) looking into the controversial Treasury bond issuance yesterday conceded that Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL) former Director Arjun Aloysius cannot be compelled to testify before the commission if he refuses to do so.

Asserting that Aloysius is still very much a necessary witness whose evidence would remain relevant and material, the commission noted that the rule of law – which, in this case, guarantees Aloysius the right to refuse to give evidence – must take precedence over any considerations of public interest.

Issuing a nine-page order on the matter, the three-member commission said that, taking into account the points raised by Aloysius’ attorney President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana on Tuesday objecting to his client being compelled to testify as well as the counter-submission by Acting Solicitor General President’s Counsel Dappula de Livera who made a strong case for bringing Aloysius to the witness stand, the PCoI stands by its opinion that Aloysius is required to give evidence but if he’s unwilling to do so his counsel may make an application to that effect.

Following the order, Marapana informed the commission of his client’s decision to not give evidence. However, PCoI Chairman Justice K. T. Chitrasiri directed Marapana to carefully peruse the order and let the commission know today whether or not Aloysius still wished to remain silent, to which Marapana agreed.

Continue reading ‘Arjun Aloysius Cannot be Compelled to Testify Before Presidential Inquiry Commission if he Refuses to do so.’ »

Govt to Grow 25 Tonnes of “Ganja” Annually on 100 Acre Farm in Ingiriya Under Army Supervision and Supply Ayurveda Medical Practitioners


The Government is to launch its first official cannabis plantation to supply the traditional medicine market and export to the United States, the health minister said Wednesday.

Rajitha Senaratne said the 100-acre (40-hectare) cannabis farm, which could produce more than 25 tonnes a year and would be under military protection, would ensure a regular high quality supply.

“Many ayurvedic doctors have complained that they don’t get good quality cannabis for their preparations,” Senaratne told reporters. “Good cannabis is a vital ingredient in the preparation of traditional medicine.”

He said the traditional herbal medicine market currently depends on handouts from courts which seize illegally grown or smuggled drugs.

Continue reading ‘Govt to Grow 25 Tonnes of “Ganja” Annually on 100 Acre Farm in Ingiriya Under Army Supervision and Supply Ayurveda Medical Practitioners’ »

Since Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Admitted He Ordered the Sil Redi Distribution the Ex-President Can be Taken to Court says Rajitha Senaratne

By Chathuri Dissanayake

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa can be taken to courts on two accounts connected to his comments on the recent court determination of the misappropriation of Rs. 600 millions to donate ‘sil redi’ during the Presidential Elections, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said.

Offering examples from cases where former presidents have been found guilty of misappropriating public funds and assets, Senaratne said that there was room to re-file the case to make Rajapaksa accountable for the directive he has given.

Continue reading ‘Since Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Admitted He Ordered the Sil Redi Distribution the Ex-President Can be Taken to Court says Rajitha Senaratne’ »

Dismissed Christian Affairs Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando Likely to be made a Deputy Minister Again.

By

Vinitha M. Gamage

Minister Chandima Weerakkody today hinted that former deputy minister Arundika Fernando was likely to be appointed as a deputy minister shortly.

He said this at a function attended by President Maithripala Sirisena and Mr. Fernando last morning.

Continue reading ‘Dismissed Christian Affairs Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando Likely to be made a Deputy Minister Again.’ »

Arundika Fernando Apologises to President Sirisena Who May Now Appoint Sacked Deputy Minister to New Position.

President Maithripala Sirisena is considering appointing former Deputy Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Puttalam district MP Arundika Fernando to a new ministerial position after he apologized to the President yesterday.

His apology comes a day after President Sirisena sacked him from his position using executive powers vested in him in Section 46. 3 (a) of the Constitution, for making statements in support of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Arundika Fernando Apologises to President Sirisena Who May Now Appoint Sacked Deputy Minister to New Position.’ »

Sri Lanka’s Cricketer Hero Murali’s Name Must Be Restored to the Pallekalle Cricket Stadium -Daily News

(Text of editorial appearing in the “Daily News” of September 14th 2017 Under the Heading “Turning the back on a legend”)

The Mahanayake of the Malwatte chapter, the Most Ven. Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera, had an unusual visitor the other day. He was none other than Sinnaiah Muttaiah, the father of world record holder for the most number of test wickets, Muttaiah Muralitharan.

Obsequies over, Muralitharan senior had a complain to make to the Chief Prelate. Ven. Thibbotuwawe was told that the Pallekelle Cricket Stadium, which was re-named after his son, after the latter’s record breaking feat of capturing 800 test wickets, has had the name removed by certain parties for unknown reasons.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Cricketer Hero Murali’s Name Must Be Restored to the Pallekalle Cricket Stadium -Daily News’ »

Muttiah Muralitharan’s Name Removed From Pallekalle Cricket Stadium:Murali’s Father Appeals to Malwatte Mahanayake Thero


Sinnasamy Muttiah, the father of spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, has come up with a complaint.

Sinnasamy claimed that the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium was named after his son Muralitharan, but it no longers holds that name.

He requested Mahanayake Thero of the Malwathu Chapter, Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero meet with the Sports Minister and intervene to sort out the issue.

Continue reading ‘Muttiah Muralitharan’s Name Removed From Pallekalle Cricket Stadium:Murali’s Father Appeals to Malwatte Mahanayake Thero’ »

Even If Mahinda is out of the Way , There is Gota and if Gota is Out Chamal and if Chamal is Out Dinesh and if Dinesh is Out Dullas


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“I had been requested by Mr. Bandaranaike to meet him every Wednesday with Mervyn de Silva.”

– Elmo Gooneratne, Reminiscences, CT,September 8, 2017.

When the British uncovered Soviet spies in the Establishment, they often looked the other way because imprisonment would send shock waves throughout the system and disturb social stability and consensus.

The British knew how to manage these things. The Lankans do not. Lalith Weeratunga was the last serving member of a distinguished tribe of gentlemanly civil servants, the survivors of which are Godfrey Gunatilleke, Neville Jayaweera, Tissa Devendra, Bradman Weerakoon and Susil Siriwardhana.

He has been imprisoned and heavily fined for a victimless crime. His careless compliance or impropriety pales into insignificance in comparison with the cold villainy of Mr. Clean Out, the Boss of the bond scam bosses.

The very image of the respectable, affable, hardworking Lalith Weeratunga in handcuffs would have sent psychological shockwaves through the State system and polarised society. It triggered the realisation in me that there are two types of players in this town: those who had better book their one-way tickets to the US or UK just before the national elections of 2019/2020 and those who need not do so.

Continue reading ‘Even If Mahinda is out of the Way , There is Gota and if Gota is Out Chamal and if Chamal is Out Dinesh and if Dinesh is Out Dullas’ »

Experienced Elder Brother Mahinda Upstaged the Naive Younger Brother Gotabhaya at the “Eliya” Seminar


By

Gomin Dayasri

Bemoan the non-availability of fresh material in the upper tiers of politics to replace the decrepit. For survival, the decayed leadership is ready to reach alliance with a devilish opponent. Unsuitable descendants await, both kinsmen and sycophants, located craftily in the wings of the second tier.

Among this wild bunch, TNA’s honest Sampanthan stands like a beacon, living under trying circumstances under his invented avenger Wigneswaran and his crazy coots, making TNA, the official minuscular opposition – an unstable parochial outfit, unable to reach acceptability outside the province.
Return of the UNP under a Wickremasinghe administration is out of the reckoning – a cause long lost. Process will be accelerated if an unacceptable constitution is presented to the South leading to a breakdown. Ongoing stupidity will bind the divided SLFP.

UNP as a party is ahead of its leader in public esteem. Maybe a UNP govt under a new leader is a more pragmatic alternate: prevents their first line of defence from crossing to enemy territory in disgust? Ranil is less self-centred than Mahinda, prepared to yield place to a stronger candidate, as he did in 2015,a decision he rues in hindsight.

President Sirisena short on votes; waits long to eat into the disgusted UNP’s bases to strengthen his domain. Wings of the SLFP will re-merge under a Sirisena and Rajapakse combine. Promises another corrupt regime in the making. Join the devil to keep afloat is a staying principle. It sidelines Gota – suits Mahinda and Basil. Necessity will make Gota play second fiddle.

Continue reading ‘Experienced Elder Brother Mahinda Upstaged the Naive Younger Brother Gotabhaya at the “Eliya” Seminar’ »

“Dissent Cant be Suppressed by Sacking Ministers” says Dismissed Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Parliamentarian Arundika Fernando, a key member of an influential group of SLFP MPs critical of the UNP-led government, who was sacked yesterday from his deputy minister’s post by President Maithripala Sirisena told The Island that dissent couldn’t be suppressed by sacking ministers.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday sacked Deputy Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Arundika Fernando (Puttalam District MP) causing further turmoil in the party.

MP Fernando is the third government member to lose his ministerial portfolio in as many months. Recently, the UNP sacked Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe for being publicly critical of the Hambantota port deal. Ravi Karunanayake had to resign as Foreign Minister in the wake of his appearance before the Bond Commission.

Continue reading ‘“Dissent Cant be Suppressed by Sacking Ministers” says Dismissed Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando’ »

Arundika Fernando Who Tried To Engineer Defection of 12 MP’s From SLFP Is Dismissed From Deputy Minister Post by President Sirisena.

President Maithripala Sirisena today expelled a member of his own party from the government in his first major move to assert his authority as the leader of the fractured Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

The President’s office said Tourism and Christian Affairs deputy minister Arundika Fernando was sacked with immediate effect days after he threatened to lead a breakaway faction from the coalition government.

Fernando’s claim to fame was his claim during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime that abducted cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda was living in France. However, he later retracted his comments after being summoned as a witness by courts.

Eknaligoda was abducted two days before the 2010 presidential election and has not been seen since. He is thought to have been killed by a military intelligence unit.

Continue reading ‘Arundika Fernando Who Tried To Engineer Defection of 12 MP’s From SLFP Is Dismissed From Deputy Minister Post by President Sirisena.’ »

Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita Are Not Scapegoats or Victims But Perpetrators of a Huge white Collar Crime.

By

Vishwamithra 1984


“There comes a point where a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his conscience.”

Ann Tusa, The Nuremberg Trial

On Thursday, September 7, 2017, the High Court of Colombo issued a chilling verdict on one of the most anticipated cases filed by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID): Lalith Weeratunga, former Presidential Secretary and Anusha Palpita, former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), were sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment after being found guilty to the charge of misappropriating Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC and using it to distribute ‘Sil Redi’ (meditation cloth) during the 2015 presidential election campaign.

Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga also imposed a fine of Rs.2 million on each of the convicts and ordered to pay Rs.50 million to the TRC as compensation. They allegedly carried out an ‘order’ given to them by politicians who happened to be their masters. Lalith Weeratunga was the Secretary to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was also the Chairman of the TRC.

According to reports in the print media, a brief description of the alleged crime and the subsequent judgment is thus: ‘The Attorney General had filed indictments against former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita under three counts, in connection with a criminal misappropriation of Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC funds during the 2015-Presidential Election campaign. They were found guilty of all charges.

Continue reading ‘Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita Are Not Scapegoats or Victims But Perpetrators of a Huge white Collar Crime.’ »

Donald Trump Wants to Cut Aid to Sri Lanka by 92% but US Senate Committee Opposes the Drastic Measure.

A US Senate committee has opposed Trump Administration’s proposal of a drastic 92 per cent cut in US aid to Sri Lanka, citing the geographical and strategic location of the country, the PTI reported today.


The Senate Appropriations Committee had said in a report that it won’t support President Trump’s budget request for Sri Lanka, which proposed a 92 per cent reduction in assistance from the prior fiscal year.

The annual State appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2018, beginning October 1, landed on the Senate floor yesterday for consideration.

Continue reading ‘Donald Trump Wants to Cut Aid to Sri Lanka by 92% but US Senate Committee Opposes the Drastic Measure.’ »

Two Mobile Phones and Several Sim Cards Seized in Sudden Raid in the Prisons Hospital Ward Where Lalith Weeratunga, Anusha Palpita and Duminda Silva are Admitted

​Two mobile phones and several sim cards have been recovered from the ward of the Prison Hospital where former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga , former TRC Director General Anusha Palpita and former Parliamentarian Duminda silva are treated.

The Prison Department sources said the raid was conducted following directives by Prison Reforms and Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan.

Continue reading ‘Two Mobile Phones and Several Sim Cards Seized in Sudden Raid in the Prisons Hospital Ward Where Lalith Weeratunga, Anusha Palpita and Duminda Silva are Admitted’ »

President Sirisena’s Recent Remarks Underline the Desperate Crisis Faced by the Maithripala-Ranil Govt

By W.A. Sunil

Recent public remarks by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena underline the growing crisis of the “unity” government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and the president’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Sirisena became president in 2015 after a US-backed regime-change operation to unseat the former President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government in the presidential elections. The US and India were hostile to Rajapakse close relations with Beijing and wanted Sri Lanka brought into line with Washington’s geo-strategic buildup against China. Sirisena and his political allies won support by exploiting popular anger over Rajapakse’s socially-destructive policies and his autocratic methods of rule.

Just two and half years later, wide layers of workers, students and youth have drawn the conclusion that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s retrogressive social program is no different to that of Rajapakse and the current administration is even more ruthless in implementing its policies.

Like its predecessor, the current administration is imposing the austerity demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), attacking workers’ jobs and living conditions and cutting its minimal subsidies for small farmers and the poor. Rather than honour Sirisena’s phony reform promises during the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, the new government is systematically undermining basic democratic rights.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Recent Remarks Underline the Desperate Crisis Faced by the Maithripala-Ranil Govt’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,Jagath Jayasuriya, Anura Senanayake To Be Summoned by CID Regarding the Killing of 27 Prisoners at Welikade.

By Hemantha Randunu

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former DIG Anura Senanayake, former Army commander Jagath Jayasuriya and several top ranking security establishment personnel would be summoned before the CID to obtain their statements with regard to the Welikada prison riot where 27 inmates were shot dead.

Police headquarters sources said the CID had already questioned and recorded statements from several top officers of the army and police with regard to the incident.

Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka recently told the media that former Army commander Jayasuriya was directly involved in the prison riot incident.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,Jagath Jayasuriya, Anura Senanayake To Be Summoned by CID Regarding the Killing of 27 Prisoners at Welikade.’ »

“Eliya”(Light)Is Formed To Oppose the New Constitution – Full Text of Keynote Speech by Ex -Def-Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

(English Translation of Keynote Speech made by former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at the launch of “Eliya”(Light) at the “Golden Rose” in Boralesgamuwa on September 6th 2017)

After defeating 30 years of terrorism that was in this country, after we united this country as one, we cannot allow that victory to be betrayed through the constitution or through the parliament. Today, we have a great fear that through a new constitution our great victory would be nullified.

For that reason, academics and professionals representing various fields proposed that the need to oppose a new constitution in what ever form must be taken to the people. It is the mission of Eliya to do everything necessary to create that awareness and opposition among the people for a new constitution.

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Implications of Lalith Weeratunga’s Imprisonment For Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s top aide Lalith Weeratunga became the first high-profile official from the former regime to be convicted for corruption, but his jailing could have a political fallout for the current coalition regime too.

The Economynext Political Correspondent discusses consequences for President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and their uneasy coalition whose tenure is virtually guaranteed by the constitution.

The case against Lalith Weeratunga, a highly respected civil servant, was one of the first to be filed after Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa at the January 8, 2015, election.

Weeratunga was convicted of diverting 600 million rupees from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) to fund Rajapaksa’s unsuccessful re-election bid. He was sentenced to three years in jail and fined 2 million rupees. He was also asked to pay 50 million rupees in damages to the TRC, and failure would attract another two years in prison.

The High Court accepted that Weeratunga himself did not directly benefit from the transaction, but it amounted to a criminal misappropriation of public funds and a violation of laws relating to the TRC, which he chaired.

Continue reading ‘Implications of Lalith Weeratunga’s Imprisonment For Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe.’ »

Jailed Officials Weeratunga and Pelpita Were Only Implementing His Orders To Distribute “Sil Redi” Admits Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa admitted that he gave the order to former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Palpita to distribute “sil redi” among Buddhist devotees.

“Yes it was my order. They only implemented it,” the former President said, while speaking to a group of journalists after a Joint Opposition meeting, this weekend.

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UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Wants to Enable Courts in Any Part of the World To Hear War Crimes Cases Against Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad bin Hussein has reiterated his demand for the extension of Universal Jurisdiction to Sri Lanka to enable courts in any part of the world to entertain war crimes cases against the Sri Lankan armed forces.

“The absence of credible action in Sri Lanka to ensure accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law makes the exercise of universal jurisdiction even more necessary,” Zeid said in his opening speech at the 36 th. session of the UNHRC in Geneva on Monday.

The UNHRC has been charging that in the final phase of Eelam Wa IV against the Tamil Tiger rebels, the Sri Lankan armed forces had committed war crimes.


“I urge the Government to swiftly operationalize the Office of Missing Persons and to move faster on other essential confidence building measures, such as release of land occupied by the military, and resolving long-pending cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.”

“I repeat my request for that Act to be replaced with a new law in line with international human rights standards.”

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Why We Must Neither Go Beyond the 13th Constitutional Amendment Nor Try To Roll It Back.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The ‘Sirisena SLFP’ has rejected the abolition of the executive Presidency, more especially in the context of devolution. It has upheld the unitary state, rejected the amalgamation of Provinces and the abolition of the powers of the Governor and/or their transfer to the Chief Minister. The SLFP has agreed with the implementation of the 13th amendment and the proposal of a Second chamber. In short the SLFP proposal is for a constructively modified 13th amendment, which is both 13 Plus (Senate) and 13 Minus (de-merger).

These proposals constitute the common ground within the ‘Unity’ government. If they are rejected, the UNP will have to go it with the TNA and the JVP. Ranil’s old wager that Mahinda Rajapaksa will be vulnerable to the temptation of the abolition of the executive Presidency is obsolete, a non-option, due to the grassroots anti-UNP surge which is carrying the JO-SLPP forward at a much faster growth rate than any party after SWRD’s SLFP in ’55-’56 and JRJ’s UNP in ’76-’77.

So the choice for Ranil is simple: risk the fracture of the bipartisan coalition and switch to the TNA, or stick to the common denominator with his Southern mainstream coalition partner.

Continue reading ‘Why We Must Neither Go Beyond the 13th Constitutional Amendment Nor Try To Roll It Back.’ »

President Sirisena Openly Criticises Maj-Gen(Retd)Kamal Gunaratne Who Spoke at Gota Rajapaksa’s”Eliya”launch.

President Maithripala Sirisena today accused a group of retired army officers politically linked to former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of causing friction between disabled soldiers and the authorities.

In an unusual move, the President made references to statements by retired army major general Kamal Gunaratne regarding the November clash between disabled soldiers and police outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

“Those who criticise the government today are the very same people who brought outsiders to a demonstration by disabled soldiers, created a tense situation that led to clashes and then blamed the government,” the President said.

He recalled Gunaratne’s criticism of the government following reports that police attacked disabled soldiers. Police clashed with able bodied men who had been brought to take part in the protest. He accused the retired officer and his group of creating tension between disabled troops and the authorities.

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Sri Lanka Does Not Need To Become Another South China Sea!

By
Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) held at Temple Trees recently, organized by the India Foundation, was billed as a gathering of IOR countries and ‘other concerned nations’ with a view to advancing ‘Peace, Progress and Prosperity” in the Indian Ocean. While this is no doubt a laudable goal, the absence of perspectives from regional players like China and Pakistan points to somewhat more partisan objectives than those advertised.

The delegate described as ‘Principal, Ambassadors’ LLC Group, China’ was actually an American citizen, and while there was ambiguity as to the interests she represented it would be safe to surmise that she did not represent the People’s Republic of China. However, the US, also an external power, was represented by its Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia, Alice Wells.
A post on the Conference’s social media page points to objectives not revealed elsewhere. It describes the gathering as being “part of India’s efforts to rejuvenate ties with IOR countries and increase its outreach in the region to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.” The IOC’s real purpose is candidly stated: “The event can be seen as an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the IOR.”

India’s worries over China’s growing maritime footprint are shared by the US, resulting in converging interests in the IOR. “Given its economic downturn, the US seeks like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific region to balance China” says Indian Ocean researcher Lindsay Hughes. “It has strong relationships with Australia, Japan and South Korea” but “It lacks a similar partner in the eastern Indian Ocean …” Referring to Washington’s agreement with Delhi to share military facilities and its efforts to sign an intelligence-sharing agreement as well, this analyst says that a close partnership with India “suits Washington’s strategy of passing some of the responsibility for maintaining security in the Indian Ocean Region to regional partners.”

Wells in her Colombo address unequivocally asserted that “the United States is and would continue to be an Indo-Pacific power.” It may be noticed that the terms ‘Indo-Pacific’ or ‘Indo-Asia Pacific,’ combining the two oceans as if they are a single entity, is increasingly used now by American officials. The terminology may be intended to make the increasing US assertiveness in the IOR seem ‘normal’ although the US lacks presence in the Indian Ocean comparable to its massive build-up in the Pacific theatre. The US’s deepening ties with the Sri Lanka Navy in recent times are also worth noting in this context. At the conference, Alice Wells announced the first ever US-Sri Lanka naval exercise to be carried out in October (in Trincomalee, and to be conducted by the US’s Seventh Fleet according to reports).

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Open Foray Into Politics by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the form of Newly Launched “Eliya” Organization.

by C.A.Chandraprema

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s open foray into politics took place last Wednesday in the form of ‘Eliya’ a new organization that was ceremonially launched at the Golden Rose hall in Boraleasgaluwa. Its launch was in the form of a seminar on the proposed new constitution. The panel of speakers included Gota himself who introduced the new organization to the audience and spoke on why it opposes the proposed new constititution.

Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera, Dr Dayan Jayatilleke, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Dr Seetha Arambepola, Rev. Fr. Wimal Tirimanne, Tamara Kunanayagam, Lawyer Rushdi Habib, and Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne were among the speakers at this event. The large hall at the Golden Rose which is bigger than the main ballrooms of most top end city hotels was packed by 5.00 pm with standing room only before the event began.

Two smaller rooms had been organized on the upper floors of the building with large TV screens so that those who could not be accommodated in the main hall could still follow the event in comfort. Some of those who arrived late watched the event on the screens placed in the foyer. This included parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.

After the doors of the main hall had been closed and about an hour into the event, there had been a scuffle outside with people trying to get in and Udaya Gammanpila had to talk them into going upstairs because there wasn’t even standing room in the main hall. He had shown them Namal watching the proceedings in the foyer on a screen and convinced them that the main hall could not accommodate any more. This writer was present on this occasion and to say that it was well attended is an understatement.

The turnout was all the more surprising because this event was held on a working day and scheduled to start at 5.00 pm at the peak of the evening rush hour. Getting to the location from Colombo was no easy task.

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President Sirisena’s Brother Nanasiri Pagnaratne Produced im Courts and Remanded Over Road Accident Killing Two Persons on a Motor Cycle

by Karunaratne Gamage

A brother of President Maithripala Sirisena was remanded till September 11 in connection with a hit-and-run mishap, which killed a motor cyclist and the pillion rider at Polonnaruwa yesterday.

Police said that Gamaralalage Nanasiri Pagnaratne Sirisena surrendered to the police a few hours later and allegedly admitted that he was behind the wheel of the Land Cruiser jeep at the time of the accident.

He was later produced before Polonnaruwa Acting Magistrate Ruwan Kumara Mapa and remanded.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa is Free But Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Pelpita Who Served Their Political Master Are Jailed

By

Don Manu

As the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s permanent secretary Lalith Weeratunga was ignominiously led out of the court room on Thursday, hand manacled to his partner in crime Anusha Pelpita, former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, and bundled into the Black Maria to transport them to the Welikada prison, perhaps, the last words King Henry the Eighth’s chief adviser Cardinal Wolsey expressed on his way to meet the executioner’s axe may have resounded in his ears: “Had I but served my God as diligently as I served my King, he would not have deserted me at this hour

Like it had been to Wolsey, the choice whether to serve God or mammon, whether to take the high road and follow the civil servants’ code of honour or whether to traverse the thoroughfare for reasons of personal survival or gain and bow before a politician’s vile dictates of shame, had dangled tantalizingly in Weeratunge’s hands. And, perhaps, in a moment of moral weakness, he had opted to kneel before Mahinda’s altar and light the joss sticks to perfume Mahinda’s third term presidential bid with the incense and myrrh of religious fervour rather than stay faithful to what chapter and verse spelt out in the civil servants’ Bible.

And this Thursday, he had to pay the price for aiding and abetting, for colluding with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bizarre plan to drape the nation’s electorate in white yards of ‘sil’ clothing to camouflage his regime’s corruption.

To serve his master, Weeratunga went beyond his call of duty. He not only walked but appears to have sprinted the extra mile. In order to survive, safeguard his position and his realm of influence, he did the unthinkable, With his present fellow cell mate, Anusha Pelpita, he siphoned funds to the tune of Rs 600 million from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to religiously promote Rajapaksa’s image in the hearts and minds of the sil observing elderly upasikavans of Lanka.

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