Sensational Capture and “Unofficial” Execution of JVP Leader Rohana Wijeweera.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Patabandi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera known to the world at large as Rohana Wijeweera was killed 31 years ago on 13 November 1989.The revolutionary leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or People’s Liberation Front was 49 years old at the time of his death.

Patabendi Don Jinadasa Nandasiri Wijeweera (14 July 1943 – 13 November 1989)

The mastermind behind two bloody insurrections – in 1971 and from 1987 to 89 – was taken into custody on 12 November in the Kandy District and brought to Colombo. With Wijeweera’s capture and execution, the second JVP insurgency petered down gradually and ended.

The second JVP insurgency lasting for more than three years resulted in thousands of people being brutally killed by both the JVP as well as the counter insurgency forces comprising Police, paramilitary and security personnel. While no reliable estimates are available of the number of killings done by security personnel and other agents of the state, there are official figures of the killings done by the JVP.

Continue reading ‘Sensational Capture and “Unofficial” Execution of JVP Leader Rohana Wijeweera.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa must scorn crawlingly subservient Sycophantic creatures lest he fall into the very same trap that his brother, ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa was caught in.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As Sri Lanka hurtles down the precipice of covid-19 contagion coupled with unprecedented economic devastation, bitter and biting anger at our plight can scarcely be contained.

‘Organised propaganda’vs public opinion

State health agencies tasked with handling the pandemic stamme and stutter while a militarised command continues to elbow out a professionally coordinated public health-led effort. In one sense, this is not all that remarkable. What we are facing is the common or garden path consequence of misrule where one set of self-serving authoritarians replaced another set of self-serving ‘democratic’ nincompoops who were too busy fighting with each other to govern properly while many on Colombo’s ‘liberal’ gravy train cheered, oblivious to danger signals early on.

In both cases, what is common to these two sets of truly irrepressible rogues is not only self-interest but also imperviousness to admitting one’s faults and changing direction in consequence thereof. Thus when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa proclaimed, in his Address to the Nation, on 18th November 2020 that the yardstick he would use to assess his success or failure one year into office, would be ‘public opinion’ and not ‘organised propaganda on social media platforms’ by political opponents, that begs the question as to what precisely is this ‘public opinion’ that he is referring to?

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa must scorn crawlingly subservient Sycophantic creatures lest he fall into the very same trap that his brother, ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa was caught in.’ »

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi sacks Sri Lanka Medical Council President Prof, Harendra de Silva and four others while Monthly SLMC Meeting was in Progress;medical community divided over dramatic move


By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

The head and four others of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) were sacked on Friday afternoon by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi with the removal letters being delivered halfway through the SLMC’s monthly meeting which had started at 1 p.m.

The dramatic removal of SLMC President Prof. Harendra de Silva and others came following a report by a five-member committee appointed by the minister to inquire into complaints against the SLMC, the state watchdog body of medical education and professionalism.

Prof. de Silva and the four others removed were appointed by the former Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. The new President of the SLMC is Prof. Vajira H.W. Dissanayake.

Continue reading ‘Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi sacks Sri Lanka Medical Council President Prof, Harendra de Silva and four others while Monthly SLMC Meeting was in Progress;medical community divided over dramatic move’ »

Low key ceremonies held in homes to remember LTTE cadres killed in the war as Court Rulings in North and East Forbid Public Commeoration of “Maaveerar Naal” (Great Heroes Day)


By Ranjith Padmasiri and S. Rubatheesan

In the North and East, courts have issued orders preventing any form of commemorative events to mark the ‘Maveerar Naal’ or Great Heroes’ Day, a day declared by Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to remember its cadres who died in the near-three-decade separatist war.

On Thursday, the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued an order after Kopay and Jaffna Police moved motions separately seeking to stop preparations by Tamil political parties and civil society groups in cemeteries where LTTE cadres had been buried.

Taking into consideration detailed submissions made by Senior Additional Solicitor General Harippriya Jayasundara, the Court banned any collective commemorative events in public on the basis that they would pose a health risk in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Mallakam, Chavakachcheri, Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa, courts issued similar orders this week.
Police named 51 persons in these cases as respondents after filing separate B reports. The courts were told that the military and police intelligence services had reported that plans were underway to hold public gatherings and commemorative meetings across the Northern Province from November 21-27.

Continue reading ‘Low key ceremonies held in homes to remember LTTE cadres killed in the war as Court Rulings in North and East Forbid Public Commeoration of “Maaveerar Naal” (Great Heroes Day)’ »

Exposing Myths and Fallacies About the Importance and Value of the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka.

By

Dr.Asanga Welikala

With the enactment of the 20th Amendment, Sri Lanka embarks yet again down the fraught path of authoritarian presidentialism. Whether this latest adventure ends in a democratic nightmare, or is as fleeting as its two predecessors, the 18th and 19th Amendments, remains to be seen.

The legitimacy of both these previous constitutional reconstructions were undone by their own creators within a single term of office. The potential for the 20th to go the same way is already visible, although far too early to tell. But for the moment, it is what we have, and it is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on the arguments that are advanced, usually without challenge, as the justification for this system of government.

There are three types of theories that explain how societies – or more accurately, elites – choose the institutional form of government when restructuring the state through constitutional amendment or replacement. The first is by reference to ideas, the second by reference to functions, and the third is by reference to self-interests. Unless we are able to account for how all three factors have combined to determine design choices at a particular moment of formal constitutional change, we are unable to fully understand what is going on.

Continue reading ‘Exposing Myths and Fallacies About the Importance and Value of the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka.’ »

US Vice President – Elect Kamala Harris’s Key Sri Lankan Tamil Aide Rohini Lakshmi

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

An overwhelming feeling of relief has descended upon the world – not merely the US- after the Presidential elections of the United States of America ended. Joseph Robinette Biden jnr known as Joe Biden is the new US President-elect. Biden’s creditable, credible electoral triumph has ensured that decency, dignity and decorum will once again return to the Oval office of the White House. A double delight in the 46th US President to be’s victory is that of the shattering of glass ceilings by his running mate Kamala Harris. The new US Vice President- elect would not only be the first US woman vice-president but will also be the first person of Afro-Caribbean origin and South Asian descent to be elected to that post.

56 year Kamala Devi Harris known as Kamala Harris will be the 49th Vice President of the USA on January 20th 2021. She was born on October 20th 1964 in Oakland,California as the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother. Both her parents were immigrants . Her mother Shyamala Gopalan came to the USA in 1958 while her Father Donald Jasper Harris did so in 1961 . They were post- graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley where they met, loved and married.

Kamala Harris, right, with her mother Shyamala Gopalan at a Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco in 2007. via FB: Kamala Harris)


Continue reading ‘US Vice President – Elect Kamala Harris’s Key Sri Lankan Tamil Aide Rohini Lakshmi’ »

Gemini Ganesan the Romance King of Tamil Cinema: Birth Centenary of “Kaadhal Mannan”

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

November 17th 2020 was the birth centenary of popular Tamil cinema actor Gemini Ganesan. In a career spanning more than five decades Gemini Ganesan made his mark in Tamil films as the romantic hero par excellence. Gemini Ganesan was regarded widely as the greatest romantic lover in Tamil cinema. In fact he was dubbed “Kaadhal Mannan,” meaning “King of Romance” or “Romance King”. . Though he played a number of diverse roles , it was as a lover on screen that Gemini shone brightly. This earned him the evergreen laurel “Kaadhal Mannan”. This article denoting his birth centenary intends reviving pleasant memories of a man who gave me and millions of others immense pleasure through his movies.

What is most interesting about Gemini Ganesan is the fact that his on-screen and off-screen persona got intertwined in relation to Romance. While the evergreen actor Gemini crooned and danced his way into the hearts of many lovely heroines on screen, the off-screen hero too romanced many women in real life. Gemini had four wives plus several liaisons including live -in relationships with attractive women. He himself admitted to his numerous affairs with other married women to an Indian magazine in an interview . When the magazine wanted more details, Gemini declined to elaborate saying, “Gentlemen don’t tell!”

Continue reading ‘Gemini Ganesan the Romance King of Tamil Cinema: Birth Centenary of “Kaadhal Mannan”’ »

Badly Fractured Tamil political Parties May be Spurred to Unity by new Rajapaksa Govt’s Chauvinist Discriminatory Policies – The Economist


Hanging above the desk of Emmanuel Arnold, the mayor of Jaffna, are images of three Hindu deities, as well as the Buddha, Jesus and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. He has to respect all the religions of his city, he explains. Most Sinhalese, the country’s biggest ethnic group, are Buddhist; Tamils, who predominate in the north, including Jaffna, tend to be Hindu, and there are also small Christian and Muslim minorities. (Mr Arnold himself is Christian.) The ecumenical display, however, prompted griping from his staff: there is little sense of unity in Jaffna these days, even among the Tamil majority, let alone between religions and ethnicities.

Tamil hopes for an independent homeland were dashed in 2009, when the government defeated the Tamil Tigers, a ruthless separatist insurgency. But many in the north still hanker for autonomy, as promised by amendments to the constitution adopted in 1987 but never fully implemented. Anxieties about majority rule have swelled since the election last year as president of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who as number two in the Ministry of Defence presided over the defeat of the Tigers in a campaign in which many Tamil civilians also died.

Continue reading ‘Badly Fractured Tamil political Parties May be Spurred to Unity by new Rajapaksa Govt’s Chauvinist Discriminatory Policies – The Economist’ »

Sri Lankan Courts ban events forCommemorative LTTE cadre on ‘ Heroes Day’

By

Meera Srinivasan

Many Tamil families living in Sri Lanka’s north and east on Friday marked ‘Heroes Day’ — an annual commemoration of LTTE cadre who died in the civil war —by lighting lamps in the quiet confines of their homes, after the government obtained a court order banning the remembrance.

Petitioning different courts in the war-affected districts in the last week, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General Department sought prohibition orders on the commemoration. Government lawyers and police argued that such an event could lead to the “revival of the LTTE” or potentially cause disharmony among communities. In a submission — that drew wide criticism on social media — an inspector told the court: “we [the government] made it possible for those [referring to northern Tamils] who ate pittu and vadai those days to eat pizza now,” referring to the opening up of the area after the armed forces defeated the separatist LTTE in 2009.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Courts ban events forCommemorative LTTE cadre on ‘ Heroes Day’’ »

“Mr. Foreign Minister, would you have the courage to write a letter to India like you did to the UN Human Rights Council and withdraw from the Indo- Lanka Accord? -MA Sumanthiran MP


(Text of Jaffna District TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran’s Speech in Parliament on the 25th of November 2020 during the budget vote for the Foreign Affairs Ministry.)

Honourable Presiding Member,

I am happy to follow the Minister himself as we discuss the votes on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Minister is an experienced parliamentarian and able person and I’m glad to discuss a few matters with regard to Sri Lanka’s foreign policy while he is present together with also a very able and dynamic young parliamentarian, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

It was rather comical to witness the spectacle this morning as we started the debate – the bickering between the government benches and the main opposition each trying to absolve themselves from responsibilities they had undertaken in the international arena. Honourable Lakshman Kiriella blaming President Mahinda Rajapaksa, for agreeing with the Secretary General of the UN on the 26th of May 2009 in Kandy, undertaking to inquire into the allegations of human rights violations. And for his part, the Honorable Minister blaming the main opposition when they were in office for co-sponsoring resolution HRC 30/1 before the UN Human Rights Council.

These acts are not acts of certain governments that are in office at a particular point in time, these undertakings are given on behalf of the state and in the international system these obligations are taken very seriously. The Minister read out the letter sent in February this year claiming to withdraw from the co-sponsorship of resolution HRC 30/1.

All of us know that you can’t withdraw from an act that is already done. The Minister was heard to say in this House that that co-sponsorship happened without the knowledge of anyone not even the President of that time.

I want to ask a question: if that be so, how did Sri Lanka co-sponsor resolution 34/1 and 40/1 several months thereafter both of which were merely roll-over resolutions of 30/1. 30/1 was done on the 1st of October 2015. 34/1 was in March 2017 and 40/1 was in March 2019. Three times over! same contents and how does a responsible Minister stand up here and say nobody knew about the contents. These undertakings are on behalf of Sri Lanka. Of the state! There are serious repercussions if you resile from international commitments.

I want to post another question: on the 29th of July 1987 Sri Lanka entered into an international bilateral agreement with India, commonly known as the Indo – Lanka Accord. Various speakers in this House at various times will say various things about this agreement. Mr. Foreign Minister, would you have the courage to write a letter to India like you did to the UN Human Rights Council and withdraw from the Indo- Lanka Accord? If you don’t and if you haven’t done that over several decades of your party in office, you must honour it. No point saying this was thrust down our throat; if it was thrust down your throat withdraw – write a letter to India like you did to the UN human Rights council. Are you brave enough to do that?

Continue reading ‘“Mr. Foreign Minister, would you have the courage to write a letter to India like you did to the UN Human Rights Council and withdraw from the Indo- Lanka Accord? -MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

LTTE’s Abortive Attempt to Assassinate Gotabaya Rajapaksa 14 Years Ago.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the Presidential Elections on 16 November 2019. He was formally sworn in as President two days later at the Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura. Today 18 November is the first anniversary of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assuming office. Incidentally the President’s elder brother, former President and current Prime Minister Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa will also be celebrating his 75th birthday today (18).

The proverbial saying about blood being thicker than water was very much evident as “Mahinda Aiya” embraced “Gota Malli” tightly and hugged him speechlessly for more than a minute when Gotabaya arrived safe and sound at Temple Trees

While extending wishes to the two Rajapaksa brothers on their respective mile-post anniversaries, this column focuses this week on another important anniversary in the life of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa 14 years ago. It was on 1 December 2006 that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) made an attempt in Colombo to assassinate Gotabaya Rajapaksa serving as Secretary of Defence under his brother and then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Gotabaya miraculously escaped that attempt and went on to forge his inevitable tryst with destiny.

Continue reading ‘LTTE’s Abortive Attempt to Assassinate Gotabaya Rajapaksa 14 Years Ago.’ »

When the LTTE’s “Smiling Cobra” Thamilselvan was Targeted by the SLAF in an Air Strike

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

More than eleven years have passed since the War between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) organization concluded. The lengthy conflict described at one time as South Asia’s longest war came to an end after the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. Many of the military triumphs achieved by both sides at different times during the course of the war are now being relegated to the realm of the forgotten.This column intends to focus this week on an incident that grabbed worldwide attention when it happened thirteen years ago.

Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan

On November 2nd 2007, the former political commissar or political wing head of the LTTE , Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan (spelled also as Tamilselvan and Thamilchelvan) was killed along with some other tiger operatives in an airstrike conducted by the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF). Thamilselvan was to a very great extent the public and political face of the LTTE as he frequently represented the LTTE at negotiations with national and international delegations, issued press statements, granted media interviews and engaged in talks with dignitaries on behalf of the LTTE. Since the LTTE’s reclusive numero uno Veluppillai Prabhakaran and other senior military leaders usually kept out of the limelight, it had been the lot of Thamilselvan to exercise a monopoly over media publicity.

Continue reading ‘When the LTTE’s “Smiling Cobra” Thamilselvan was Targeted by the SLAF in an Air Strike’ »

If Ranil Wickremesinghe had contested the 2015 Presidential Election; he would probably have won it in a close contest; Instead Ranil became an inescapable prisoner of the Yahapalana trap

By

Victor Ivan

The process of the old stock of political leaders and their parties losing the recognition they have enjoyed so far can be described as an integral part of the historical process of ending the old era of the political history of Sri Lanka. The loss of recognition enjoyed by Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Leader of the UNP, and his party can be seen as an outcome of this historical process.

Even the Samagi Jana Balawegaya which has made a critical impact on the downfall of the UNP and its Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has not been able to secure adequate Parliamentary representation to establish itself as a powerful alternative force. Perceived from this angle, it appears that in symbolic sense the political movement of the UNP has come to an end.

Nepotism and family bandyism

The UNP is the second oldest party, next only to the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. The UNP was established in 1946 while the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) was founded in 1935. It has ruled the country alternately for almost half of the post-independence period, the remaining period being ruled by the SLFP. Under the circumstances, both parties, the UNP and the SLFP, are equally responsible for the defeats suffered and victories gained by the country. The UNP can be considered as the biggest party that Sri Lanka had.

It is mostly the Rajapaksa family being referred to when nepotism or family bandyism in politics is talked about. Similarly, the UNP also can be described as a party founded and maintained by a strong family cartel closely linked by kinship. The strong and influential members of this family cartel can be considered as a close-knit family network which had become affluent through various commercial ventures including the arrack trade during the British rule and had achieved prestigious status in the society. So much so, in the early years of its rule the UNP was known as the ‘Uncle-Nephew Party’ because of the close blood ties between its major leaders.

Continue reading ‘If Ranil Wickremesinghe had contested the 2015 Presidential Election; he would probably have won it in a close contest; Instead Ranil became an inescapable prisoner of the Yahapalana trap’ »

Closure of Cinema Halls in Country Until Dec 31st Hits Cinema Industry Hard.Importers in Quandary about Procuring New Films from Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood.

By Charumini de Silva

Cinema owners yesterday described 2020 as the worst year while lamenting that they were still in the dark over reopening, as delay was piling up financial losses.

On 15 October, the Government announced that all cinemas would be closed till 31 October, as a measure to deal with the COVID-19 second wave. Thereafter, the Government is yet to give a timeline on the reopening of cinemas to the general public.

“We are eagerly awaiting the green light from the Government to resume operations post-COVID-19,” industry sources told the Daily FT.

Upon inquiry from the Cultural Affairs Ministry, a top official pointed out that they too were awaiting approval from the public health authority to resume operation of film theatres.

Continue reading ‘Closure of Cinema Halls in Country Until Dec 31st Hits Cinema Industry Hard.Importers in Quandary about Procuring New Films from Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood.’ »

Representatives of UPFA,UNO, Muslim Congress, Democratic Party and National Front for Good Governance signed agreements with Easter Bomber Zahran Hashim in Kattankudi in exchange for National Thowheed Jamath support at the 2015 Parliamentary Elections


By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

Continue reading ‘Representatives of UPFA,UNO, Muslim Congress, Democratic Party and National Front for Good Governance signed agreements with Easter Bomber Zahran Hashim in Kattankudi in exchange for National Thowheed Jamath support at the 2015 Parliamentary Elections’ »

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi will be in Colombo on Nov 27 for trilateral discussions among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives;Sri Lankan side will be represented at the highest levels by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa,

By

Meera Srinivasan

National Security Adviser will hold talks with Sri Lanka and Maldives
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will be in Colombo on Friday for trilateral discussions among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi will also travel to Colombo, while the Sri Lankan side will be represented at the highest levels by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror reported on Thursday.

Continue reading ‘Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi will be in Colombo on Nov 27 for trilateral discussions among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives;Sri Lankan side will be represented at the highest levels by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa,’ »

Rishad Bathiudeen Released on Cash Bail of Rs 100,000 and Surety bail of Rs Two Million by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage to Prevent Risk of Ex-Cabinet Minister Contracting COVID -19 in Jail; Travel Ban also Imposed on ACMC party Leader


Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Continue reading ‘Rishad Bathiudeen Released on Cash Bail of Rs 100,000 and Surety bail of Rs Two Million by Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage to Prevent Risk of Ex-Cabinet Minister Contracting COVID -19 in Jail; Travel Ban also Imposed on ACMC party Leader’ »

There is a section of Sangha with racist leanings, who think, it’s they who put Rajapaksas on the pedestal, hence they only should call the tune. Will the president have the courage to discipline Buddhist monks?


By
K.K.S.Perera

An article published in a popular Sinhala daily by a prominent political monk prompted me to respond.

Verse 9 in the Yamakavagga of Dhammapada, Anikkasàvayo vattha paridahessati…., The pure are worthy of the yellow robe but not the impure. Whoever, unstainless, without self-control and truthfulness, should don the yellow robe, is not worthy of it. He who is purged of all stain, is well-established in morals and endowed with self-control and truthfulness, is indeed worthy of the yellow robe.”-Buddha

Mapitigama Buddharakkitha, always claimed that without him SWRD wouldn’t have come to power. The head priest of historic Kelaniya temple where the Buddha visited 25 centuries ago and according to folklore the place where he enjoyed the refreshing water of the Kelani River., [and remember, “a Maha Naga Rajah” carrying a casket of ‘sacred relics’ appeared on the eve of Presidential Election a year ago?] who financed Bandaranaike’s election campaign in 1956, hated Bandaranaike for refusing to grant illegal favours for his shipping company deals and business ventures in large scale import of provisions devoid of tender procedures.

While Buddharakkitha’s motive for the assassination of PM was business, Somarama the assailant monk, an Ayurvedic physician had other motives: Bandaranaike realizing the injustices caused to Tamil-speaking citizens signed a pact with their leader, S.J.V. Chelvanaikam, for the Buddhist priests who backed him on Sinhala onlymotto demonstrated against it and demanded its abrogation.

“It’s we who made you the PM, hence you are obliged to listen to us.” Somarama was one such member of ‘sick’ saffron-robed clergy, a born racist, selected and brainwashed by conspirator Buddharakkitha for carrying out the heinous crime.

Continue reading ‘There is a section of Sangha with racist leanings, who think, it’s they who put Rajapaksas on the pedestal, hence they only should call the tune. Will the president have the courage to discipline Buddhist monks?’ »

If Sri Lanka persists in resisting accountability over War Crimes Allegations, it is likely that in the present rights milieu, we will ultimately be cornered and forced into trials by the world


By

Prof. S.Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Australians and the world had much to celebrate. More than 26,000 Australian uniformed personnel were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside US and allied forces against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. Australian troops inducted into the Afghan War as allies of the US after the 9/11 attack in New York in 2001 were accused of massacring Afghan civilians. That is bad. However, the good news is that in Australia, the accused killers are not being celebrated as heroes but are being charged.

Australia and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and Australia bear nominal similarities. Our population is about 21.67 million; Australia’s is about 24.99 million. We are both democracies. Australia extended its adult suffrage to all in 1967, regardless of ethnicity. We extended our restricted suffrage to hill country Tamils much later in 2003 with the passage of ‘The Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act’.

What is common now is that Sri Lankan troops and Australian troops stand accused of war crimes. But parallels end there. How we have handled war crime accusations is riddled with common features and major differences.

Continue reading ‘If Sri Lanka persists in resisting accountability over War Crimes Allegations, it is likely that in the present rights milieu, we will ultimately be cornered and forced into trials by the world’ »

Seven months have passed since the arrest and detention of human rights lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah; time for the Sri Lankan Bar to reevaluate its position and take a stronger stand against this grave injustice.

By

Gehan Gunatilleke

When he was taken into custody on 14 April, his friends and family, and some within his fraternity, decried the obvious injustice. They were quickly told to quieten down and ‘let the justice system do its work’. They were told not to interfere with the investigation. They were told to be patient, as the truth would eventually emerge, and perhaps set Hejaaz free.

Seven months have passed. The investigations continue with no indictment in sight. If law enforcement authorities and prosecutors actually had a case against Hejaaz, wouldn’t they have framed charges by now? Should we let the authorities investigate in perpetuity?

Seven months have passed, and the media circus has dissipated, making clowns out of all those who prejudged Hejaaz’s guilt. The media callously aired so-called ‘damning’ evidence, and set out to make a monster out of Hejaaz. They have only made him a martyr, as none of the evidence appears to be credible.

Continue reading ‘Seven months have passed since the arrest and detention of human rights lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah; time for the Sri Lankan Bar to reevaluate its position and take a stronger stand against this grave injustice.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will Take Charge as Minister of Defence and Newly Created Technology Ministry; Sarath weerasekera to be Elevated as Cabinet Minister of Public Security.

By Chandani Kirinde

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to take over as the Minister of Defence and a newly created Ministry of Technology shortly.

A new subjects and functions Gazette was issued by the President, bringing several institutions under these ministries while a new Ministry of Public Security too, has been created.

State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Rear Admiral Dr. Sarath Weerasekera, is expected to be appointed as its Cabinet Minister, the Daily FT learns.

This new Ministry will have four institutions under it, including the Police and the Civil Defence Department.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will Take Charge as Minister of Defence and Newly Created Technology Ministry; Sarath weerasekera to be Elevated as Cabinet Minister of Public Security.’ »

Govt Intends Regulating Media Websites Through a New Mechanism in Two weeks says Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella; Press Council act to be Amended also

The Government said on Saturday a mechanism for the regulation of websites is to be implemented within the next two weeks.

The upcoming move was made public by Keheliya Rambukwella during the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media.

He also said the Press Council Act should be amended in a way that would protect the dignity of the citizens and said the media should be regulated.

Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris said that a new law has been passed in Singapore to control such matters and having studied such, the formulation of a new mechanism should be done. He added that such laws must first be referred to a technical committee.

Continue reading ‘Govt Intends Regulating Media Websites Through a New Mechanism in Two weeks says Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella; Press Council act to be Amended also’ »

Jaffna Police HQI Prasath Fernando Says in Court that” Govt made it possible for those who ate Pittu and Vadai those days to eat Pizza now”: MA Sumanthiran PC Responds Angrily that Officer was was disrespecting the people of Jaffna as a whole under the ICCPR Signed by Sri Lanka.


The Jaffna Magistrate Court was tense on Friday when Jaffna’s Headquarters Inspector explained to the court why the Police were seeking an order to ban commemorative events to remember the ‘war’ dead.

During his submission, Inspector Prasath Fernando said that “we (government) made it possible for those who ate pittu and vadai those days to eat pizza now,” referring to the change in the peninsula’s social fabric following the end of the ‘war’ eleven years ago.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna Police HQI Prasath Fernando Says in Court that” Govt made it possible for those who ate Pittu and Vadai those days to eat Pizza now”: MA Sumanthiran PC Responds Angrily that Officer was was disrespecting the people of Jaffna as a whole under the ICCPR Signed by Sri Lanka.’ »

Overturning of High Court Convictions of Weeratunge and Papita by Appeal Court in “Sil Redi”Case:Multi-million Rupee Question is Whether the colossal sum of Rs 600,000,000 or even a part thereof has been reimbursed to the public fund of TRCSL?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Out of the welter of distasteful controversy surrounding the transfer of a colossal sum of Rs. 600,000,000/= from the public fund of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), to the account of the Secretary to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to distribute ‘sil redi’ or white cloth to Buddhist devotees just prior to the 2015 Presidential Elections, a few facts stand out.

‘Sil redi’ packages on the eve of an election

As we may recall, the packages of ‘sil redi’ handed out to temples contained a leaflet stating that this was a religious offering made by Mahinda Rajapaksa in pursuance of Mahinda Chinthanaya policies,’ as was publicly justified by the former President himself as (merely) indicating the ‘provenance’ of the cloth, whatever he may have meant by that. The transfer took place during 30th October 2014 and 5th January 2015 on the written request of Lalith Weeratunge (Secretary to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chairman of the TRCSL) to Anusha Palpita who was Director General.

This is the general context to the convictions by the Colombo High Court of Weeratunge and Palpita in 2017 of inter alia, criminal misappropriation with those convictions being overturned this week by the Court of Appeal.

The two decisions are sufficiently important in the context of examining alleged transgressions of Sri Lanka’s public purse to warrant analysis in the spaces of this column, though a more detailed legal treatment must be kept for later. Suffice to say at the outset that neither of these individuals had ‘personally’ taken the moneys as blared to the high heavens at the time by their defenders.

Continue reading ‘Overturning of High Court Convictions of Weeratunge and Papita by Appeal Court in “Sil Redi”Case:Multi-million Rupee Question is Whether the colossal sum of Rs 600,000,000 or even a part thereof has been reimbursed to the public fund of TRCSL?’ »

Will Mahinda Rajapaksa present the 80th Budget too or will his brother Basil Rajapaksa move in from the 76th or 77th?Keep Guessing!

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

From cremation calls, to a huge ban on imports, we are moving to the Rajavasala Vimukthiya. Those who still use the Vimukthi line in politics had better be on the watch.

Amidst all the burdens of the Covid-19 pandemic that has now taken hold in Sri Lanka, there is a raging debate about burial, or cremation, of the bodies of Covid-19 deceased.

This is fast moving to a debate that is isolating one ethnic minority, against a combination of the majority, and several minorities, which can have painful consequences.

The call for cremations is becoming increasingly strident, against the burial callers. What is surprising is that the cremation criers – from politicians, the Sangha, academics, business people, intellectuals and social movers – have not thought of, or said the obvious.

Continue reading ‘Will Mahinda Rajapaksa present the 80th Budget too or will his brother Basil Rajapaksa move in from the 76th or 77th?Keep Guessing!’ »

State violence against persons thought to be a threat to the State, such as dissenters, human rights defenders, journalists and those arrested for drug offences, has been the permanent normal in Sri Lanka for decades.

By
Ambika Satkunanathan

‘…on the 18th of September (2010) the deceased was taken out of the police station at night to recover a weapon hidden in the deceased’s plantain grove…on the way the deceased had struggled with (the police officer) to snatch his rifle and he was killed as a result of a single shot that went off during the struggle’
Excerpt from the Supreme Court decision in Rathnayake Tharanga Lakmali v Niroshan Abeykoon decided on 17 December 2019

In 2020, according to media reports, five persons were killed in ‘shootouts’ with the police, one while allegedly trying to flee police custody, two when allegedly trying to wrestle weapons from the police when they were taken to retrieve drugs or weapons, and two men died while in police custody at the police station.

State violence: the permanent normal

The phrase ‘new normal’ is commonly used to refer to the post-COVID-19 context, but even in this new normal there exists a permanent normal we cannot escape, i.e. State violence. State violence against persons thought to be a threat to the State, such as dissenters, human rights defenders, journalists and those arrested for drug offences, has been the permanent normal in Sri Lanka for decades.

I refer to it as the ‘permanent normal’ because deaths in custody and persons being killed in encounters with the police are not unique to a particular political regime, but instead are systemic.

For instance, in October 2016, during the Yahapalana regime, two Jaffna University students were killed when they reportedly failed to stop at a police checkpoint. The police initially denied responsibility and claimed that they had died due to an accident that was caused when they lost control of the motorbike because they were speeding while under the influence of alcohol. The post-mortem report however, discovered bullets lodged in the body of one of the victims and did not find any trace of alcohol in their blood. To date, no one has been held accountable for their deaths.

What is the connection between the new normal and the permanent normal? Conditions that existed in the permanent normal, but were largely ignored as they did not directly affect the majority of Sri Lankans, became entrenched and normalised, and have taken new and more menacing forms during the pandemic.

Continue reading ‘State violence against persons thought to be a threat to the State, such as dissenters, human rights defenders, journalists and those arrested for drug offences, has been the permanent normal in Sri Lanka for decades.’ »

“A year ago, more than 6.9 million voters in this country elected me as your new President. It is no secret that the majority who voted for me then were Sinhalese. They rallied because they had legitimate fears that the Sinhala race, our religion, national resources and the heritage would be threatened with destruction” – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

(Following is the full text of the address to the “Sinhala” nation by Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa broadcast over all television and radio channels on November 18th 2020)

Ayubowan.

A year ago, more than 6.9 million voters in this country elected me as your new President.

It is no secret that the majority who voted for me then were Sinhalese. They rallied because they had legitimate fears that the Sinhala race, our religion, national resources and the heritage would be threatened with destruction in the face of various local and foreign forces and ideologies that support separatism, extremism and terrorism.

The main appeal made by the people to me was to ‘protect the country’.

During this short period of time we have taken steps to ensure the security of the country as requested by the people. The public should not have apprehensions on this issue any longer.

An administration that protects the rights of all citizens regardless of racial or religious differences will be established during my tenure. I have always acted in accordance with the pledge I made in front of Ruwanweli Maha Seya to protect the unity of the country and to safeguard and nurture the Buddha Sasana as per the Constitution, the supreme law of this country.

I meet with an advisory council comprising leading Buddhist monks of three chapters every month to seek their advice on matters pertaining to governance.

Prior to my assumption of office, many lives have been lost in this country to the activities of religious extremists. The underworld had become powerful and a wave of killings had begun throughout the country. Sri Lanka had become a haven for international drug traffickers. The country was becoming insecure due to the weakening of the intelligence and security forces. Historic sacred sites of archaeological value were being encroached by extremists.

After I came into power, I appointed suitable officials in charge of security apparatus of the country and gave them the required authority to carry out their responsibilities without any compromise. The intelligence services that had collapsed in the past were restructured and revitalised.

Accordingly, we have managed to control the possibility of a resurgence of extremism in any form. A very effective and robust program has been implemented to control the drug menace. There is no room anymore to engage in drug trafficking or operate the underworld from inside of prison cells as in the past. People of this country no longer have reasons to live in fear of underworld gangs, extortionists and racketeers.

We will strive to further strengthen this initiative in the future.

I have now set up a special Task Force to protect sites of archaeological value and to preserve our Buddhist and national heritage.

Continue reading ‘“A year ago, more than 6.9 million voters in this country elected me as your new President. It is no secret that the majority who voted for me then were Sinhalese. They rallied because they had legitimate fears that the Sinhala race, our religion, national resources and the heritage would be threatened with destruction” – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ »

On the first anniversary of the Gotabaya Presidency, my diagnosis is – the Govt is heading rapidly in the wrong direction, which will prove unsustainable, result in unfavourable polarisation, and crash and burn unless there’s a drastic course-correction

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“When I am president…human rights will be at the core of US foreign policy”
Joe Biden, The New York Times

In its first year the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Presidency has made avoidable strategic blunders, tracing a trajectory which when extrapolated, indicate that it will wind up a one-term wonder, like the otherwise widely-disparate administrations of the Trump Presidency (2016-2020), Yahapalana (2015-2019), and the Samagi Peramuna (1970-1977).

The Trump template should not be underestimated. Back in June, GR insider, author of the inaccurately titled Gota’s War (2012) and Sri Lanka’s new ambassador/PR to the UN-Geneva, dedicated his regular Sunday Politics sermon to a ferocious full-page assertion of why Trump will win and a rousing endorsement of that prospect. His article dated 19 June 2020 and entitled ‘Trump and Civil Unrest in America’ argued assuredly that polarisation around the ‘law and order’ vs. ‘anarchy’ issue guaranteed a white majoritarian tsunami for Trump.
(http://archive.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=223828)

In a fascinating coincidence, this was the core of the successful GR game-plan of 2019. Expect it to be remixed and recycled.

The psychological and ideological identification of the GR project with Trump and Trumpism is/was total but not exclusive – “we’ll always have Beijing” being the Gotabaya administration’s subconscious, entirely unintended salute to Bogart and Casablanca.

On the occasions of the first and second anniversaries of the Sirisena presidency, public seminars of evaluation were organised at which I was a speaker. On both occasions President Sirisena was in the audience and sat through the proceedings. Dr. Suren Raghavan and Prof. Rohan Samarajiva as fellow panellists at the first, and Ambassador Palihakkara, Dr Manikkalangam and Prof Uyangoda among the panellists at the second.

At both these seminars (which are on YouTube) I made the same point: the Government is heading rapidly in the wrong direction, which will prove unsustainable, result in unfavourable polarisation, and crash and burn unless there’s a drastic course-correction back to the moderate centre.

The political adherents of sticking dogmatically to the 2015 mandate or rather, their neoliberal-reformist spin on it, have ended up exiled from Parliament or reduced to a single-digit splinter, while Sirisena’s SLFP which tried belatedly to hit the brakes, has at least a double-digit presence in Parliament.

On the first anniversary of the Gotabaya Presidency, my diagnosis is the same: this won’t end well, but it will end sooner rather than later.

Continue reading ‘On the first anniversary of the Gotabaya Presidency, my diagnosis is – the Govt is heading rapidly in the wrong direction, which will prove unsustainable, result in unfavourable polarisation, and crash and burn unless there’s a drastic course-correction’ »

Defeat of Trump and Victory of Biden Shows that the Sun is Setting on the Age of the Strong Man and the Age of the Strong Leader is Dawning

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

When Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban said in September that rooting for the re-election of Donald Trump was his “Plan A”, he was probably echoing the sentiments of most of the world’s populist, autocratic leaders. They hoped for four more years of Donald Trump because he made the world a safer place for them.

The last decade saw the rise of populist movements on every continent, each helmed by a very specific type of leader – men wrapped in a cult of personality, defined more by flamboyance than substance, men who insisted they had to be above the law for their countries to prosper. These leaders blamed setbacks and societal ills on some mysterious enemy lurking in the shadows, often an ethnic or religious minority group. Their rhetoric was divisive and self-centred. Every positive claim they make, every compliment they utter is in the first person. “I” did it. Only “I” can fix it. “I” won. “I” have the answers.

This narcissism stands in stark contrast to the tone we heard from President-Elect Biden and Kamala Harris in accepting their victory.

Continue reading ‘Defeat of Trump and Victory of Biden Shows that the Sun is Setting on the Age of the Strong Man and the Age of the Strong Leader is Dawning’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa presents “development Budget” for 2021 to Parliament aimed at steering Sri Lanka to 5.5% growth in 2021:estimated Revenue for 2021 is Rs. 1,961 billion while the total expenditure is Rs. 3,525 billion with Rs. 1,564 billion difference between revenue and expenditure.

By Chandani Kirinde

*Aims at 5.5% growth in 2021 amidst COVID-19 impact

*Increase Govt. revenue from 9.7% to 14.1%

*Budget deficit 8.9%, up from 7.9% for 2020

*VAT unchanged at 8% for biz with turnover of Rs. 25 m or above

*Personal Income Tax to apply on earnings only if it exceeds Rs. 250,000 per month

*Income and profits from farming exempt from income tax from 1 April 2019

*First phase of Colombo Port City to commence in 2021

*Port City legal framework to Parliament in Jan.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa presented what he described as a “development Budget” for 2021 to Parliament yesterday aimed at steering Sri Lanka to 5.5% growth in 2021 and overcoming the severe setbacks to the COVID-19-hit economy.

Presenting the Government’s first Budget since its election in August and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election last November, the Prime Minister said the medium term vision of the new administration was to reduce the Budget deficit through increasing the economic growth up to 6% over the medium term and increasing Government revenue from its current level of 9.7% to 14.1%. However, in Budget 2021 the deficit will be 8.9%, up from 7.9% in 2020.

“This is a development Budget presented to elevate an economy that has been shattered. It covers all sectors under a macroeconomic vision aimed at fulfilling the ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’. This is a Budget that will open up numerous special investment opportunities to our business community for production of local goods and services under the competitive setting of the global economy,” Rajapaksa, who is also the Minister of Finance, said.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa presents “development Budget” for 2021 to Parliament aimed at steering Sri Lanka to 5.5% growth in 2021:estimated Revenue for 2021 is Rs. 1,961 billion while the total expenditure is Rs. 3,525 billion with Rs. 1,564 billion difference between revenue and expenditure.’ »

Sri Lanka’s compulsory cremation of Covid-19 related dead bodies is not a case of extra-caution or science. It is proof of scientific ignorance, callousness and an overwhelming lack of enlightenment.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

When your country is doing something totally different from what the rest of the world does, literally in exact opposition to the common sense practised and adopted by 194 countries in the world, things aren’t just right.

That is what the government should reckon of its flawed policy of compulsory cremation of dead bodies of Muslims. According to the religious belief of Muslims, the burning of the dead is tantamount to desecration. And the rest of the world has taken note of it and made allowances. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also permits both cremation and burial for the disposal of Covid-19 related death bodies.

Whereas the Government of SriLanka has defended its policy on the basis of scientific advice by an expert committee, but this isn’t science. This is demagoguery.

During the early stage of the Covid -19 pandemic, when the first deaths were reported in March, there existed a degree of uncertainty on the proper way of doing the last rites. The initial health ministry guidelines allowed for both cremation and burial, but the cremation was favoured as the safer way. Then, when the first Muslim died on March 31, the victim’s family insisted on burial. Instead of reaching out for wider discourse, the Ministry of Health issued a circular- Ministry of Health (MOH) Circular No. EPID/400/2019 n-cov on 1 April 2020, which required that all COVID-19 victims be cremated.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s compulsory cremation of Covid-19 related dead bodies is not a case of extra-caution or science. It is proof of scientific ignorance, callousness and an overwhelming lack of enlightenment.’ »

Court of Appeal rules that deforestation of the Wilpattu National Park Forest for the re-settlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had been made contrary to law and orders former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen to bear the full cost of the tree planting programme in these areas based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that deforestation of the northern sanctuary of the Wilpattu National Park Forest for the re-settlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had been made contrary to law and ordered former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen to bear the full the cost of the tree planting programme in these areas based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

The Court of Appeal two-judge-Bench comprising Justice Janak de Silva and Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne delivered this judgment pursuant to a writ petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ).

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal Court issued an order in the nature of mandamus ordering the Conservator General of Department of Forest Conservation to take action to implement a tree planting programme in accordance with the provisions of the Forest Ordinance in any area equivalent to the reserve forest area used for the resettlement of IDPs.

Accordingly, Court of Appeal issued a consequential order directing Rishad Bathiudeen, the seventh respondent in the petition to bear the full cost of such a tree planting programme applying the polluter pays principle as according to the evidence before Court he was instrumental in using the reserved forest land for the re-settlement of the IDPs.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal rules that deforestation of the Wilpattu National Park Forest for the re-settlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had been made contrary to law and orders former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen to bear the full cost of the tree planting programme in these areas based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.’ »

Kenya Owing $ 6.5 Billion to China Gets Caught in Chinese Debt Trap:Caught in Chinese Debt Trap; May Have to Cede Control of Mombasa Port and Inland Container Depot Pledged as Collateral to Beijing if Nairobi is Unable to Repay Loan

By S Venkat Narayan

Kenya is one of China’s largest trade partners in Africa. It owes $6.5 billion to China, which is 22 percent of its total external debt. China’s interest payments represent 87 per cent of the cash used to service debt expenditure in 2019. Kenya is yet to work out an arrangement with China, but has been reluctant to seek debt relief amid reports that it was concerned it could hurt its ability to tap capital markets.

Kenya and neighbouring Ethiopia, according to the World Bank’s international debt statistics, are among the world’s most indebted countries. Kenya’s external debt rose four times over the last decade, only second to Ethiopia that saw its debt increase five-fold during the decade.

Analysts say the $3.2-billion contract with China in 2014 to build the standard gauge railways connecting Kenya’s capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa symbolised the problem. The railway line was expanded in 2015 to Naivasha town 75 miles northwest of Nairobi, raising the project cost by another $ 1.5 billion.

The railway line made a loss of $ 90 million in its first year. The government promised a profit in 2019. It ended up in the red again. The government has been forcing businesses to move their cargo on the railway to ensure it generates enough cash for operations but the project still recorded a loss of $200 million over three years. In September, a panel of lawmakers nudged the government to renegotiate the loan deal and cut operating expenses by half. Kenya hasn’t had its way yet.

Continue reading ‘Kenya Owing $ 6.5 Billion to China Gets Caught in Chinese Debt Trap:Caught in Chinese Debt Trap; May Have to Cede Control of Mombasa Port and Inland Container Depot Pledged as Collateral to Beijing if Nairobi is Unable to Repay Loan’ »

The militarised approach to handling the global pandemic has now run into serious roadblocks. It is the Govt alone which must take the responsibility for an ill-thought out militarisation of the public health response.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The fearsome sight of armed motorcycle riders, clad in black, complete with sunglasses and masks completely obscuring their faces conducting covid-19 temperature checks on the public in Colombo and then roaring away in a concerted cloud of darkness as it were, raises an unfortunate analogy to mind.

Symbolism is important in messaging

At the height of the terror-ridden years of Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier, his all-black masked Tonton Macoutes used to roam the capital city in much the same way, grabbing and ‘disappearing’ opponents of the regime. Interestingly, the Haitian Creole explanation of the name ‘Tonton Macoutes’ derived from our familiar ‘goni billa’ or as the Haitians rather hilariously put it, ‘uncle gunnysack.’ In both cases, these were scare tactics resorted to by annoyed parents to frighten children into obedience.

But Sri Lanka and Haiti share a further common and more sinister piece of history; these versions of ‘uncle gunnysack’ did not remain confined to storybooks but were used variously to deal with inconvenient critics. During the conflict years in the North and South of this country, the ‘goni billa’ was the way in which ‘insiders’ identified ‘terrorist suspects’ who were thereafter disposed of.

Unsurprisingly, that less than foolproof method also caught up those who were entirely innocent in the process, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim nonetheless. Guilt, innocence, these all became words to be casually tossed aside, not weighed with solemn precision in a court of law to determine a human being’s fate.

Continue reading ‘The militarised approach to handling the global pandemic has now run into serious roadblocks. It is the Govt alone which must take the responsibility for an ill-thought out militarisation of the public health response.’ »

Govt handing over management of “Other State Forests (OSF)” to Divisional/Districts Secretaries would be disastrous for forest cover and biodiversity in the country while paving the way for private parties and friends of politicians to grab land.

By

Kshama Ranawana

Environmentalists, Conservationists and the political opposition are strenuously objecting to the decision by the government to hand over the management of “Other State Forests (OSF)” to Divisional/Districts Secretaries alleging the move would be disastrous for the forest cover and biodiversity in the country.

It was in July this year that the Cabinet first mooted the idea of handing the management of these lands earlier referred to as “State Residual Forests” by abolishing circular 05/2001 which had transferred the management of these lands from the Divisional/District Secretaries to the Forest Department.
The July Cabinet decision was forwarded to the then Minister of Environment to study the matter and present a mechanism that could vest such lands back with the Divisional/District Secretaries, so they could be released for “economically productive purposes.”

Fears were raised at that time that Divisional/District Secretaries would come under undue pressure to release these forest lands for purposes that would harm the environment.

In a letter dated July 3, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna wrote to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urging him to revoke the planned abolition of circular 05/2001.

Continue reading ‘Govt handing over management of “Other State Forests (OSF)” to Divisional/Districts Secretaries would be disastrous for forest cover and biodiversity in the country while paving the way for private parties and friends of politicians to grab land.’ »

Gotabaya came to power without a proper understanding of the crisis the country was facing and an appropriate package of reforms to resolve it, but has the conviction that all issues could be resolved by creating an atmosphere of dictatorship

By

Victor Ivan

This is not an issue which has received adequate attention. Yet, I am of the view that one era of the history of Sri Lanka which commenced since independence in 1948 has come to an end in 2020. It simply means that the State and its associated socio-political system that was bequeathed to us by the British when Sri Lanka was granted independence, by ending the long period of colonial rule, has completely collapsed and ceased to exist.

Our limitations

Although there may have been shortcomings in the system that we inherited from the British, it can be considered as a very modern and better system based on liberal ideology than the feudal system that we had previously, before the advent of the British.

India, in contrast to Sri Lanka, reformed the system that it inherited from the British in order to comply with the needs of the newly-gained independence and did it in a manner that would further strengthen and enhance the democratic nature of the mechanism.

It was only after 24 years since independence that Sri Lanka ventured upon reforming the system of governance it inherited from the British. Unlike India the reforms were not carried out the way they would have strengthened the democratic foundations of the system, but rather debilitated and weakened it. The damage that can be caused to an edifice constructed by liberal architects is immense when it is modified and repaired by a group of architects consisting of Marxists, adherents of Anagarika Dharmapala and several others without any vision at all.

In fact, we did not possess an adequate democratic vision or discipline required to pursue an effective system of self-governance by the time the country gained independence. India possessed a far-reaching vision and discipline for that. The freedom struggle of India served as a source of education, a university capable of producing mature leaders that India needed. On the contrary, the freedom that we gained was not an outcome of an independent struggle, but a thing received as a gift. Consequently we did not have the opportunity to produce mature leaders.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya came to power without a proper understanding of the crisis the country was facing and an appropriate package of reforms to resolve it, but has the conviction that all issues could be resolved by creating an atmosphere of dictatorship’ »

The 20th Constitutional Amendment and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidential Commission of Enquiry Together put Sri Lanka on a Dangerous Path of Authoritarian and Family Rule.


By
Alan Keenan and K. Mudiyanse

Sri Lanka, long-plagued by political violence and near-complete impunity for crimes by the state and pro-state forces, now faces a new assault on justice and the rule of law. There is a systematic attempt to rewrite the history to make politically-connected criminal suspects into victims, and investigators and legal reformers into criminals.

The unprecedented efforts of the government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa – most strikingly through his presidential commission of enquiry into so-called “political victimisation” – threatens to do more than just eliminate the possibility of justice in the specific cases it is considering.

These specific cases relate to that of political allies of the state, and in instances where Rajapaksa family members are being rescued from prosecution. In doing so, it risks distorting judicial and police procedures, by which the very existence of a meaningful justice system is cast into doubt.

International human rights watchdogs have understandably expressed concerns about the return of the Rajapaksa family to power, given the grave crimes committed during the years of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency from 2005–15. A year into the presidency of his brother, Gotabaya, however, the signs suggest that the threat to dissenting voices and political opponents will, at least at first, be through more subtle means than the murders, assaults and enforced disappearances used to silence critics during their first regime. Legal attacks and legalised lies – not bodies in the street – seem likely to be the preferred means of destroying their opponents. The world needs to be alert to this and to find ways to respond.

Continue reading ‘The 20th Constitutional Amendment and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidential Commission of Enquiry Together put Sri Lanka on a Dangerous Path of Authoritarian and Family Rule.’ »

“There is no legal basis for the Army Commander’s recent announcement prohibiting travel out of the Western Province until November 15 and for Imposing the so called ‘quarantine curfew”states TNA Jaffna District MP Sumanthiran in Parliament

(Summary of Speech Made by Tamil National Alliance Jaffna District Parliamentarian Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran in Parliament on 12.11.2020)

“Rule of law, it has been said is the bedrock of democracy. Even rule by law is undesirable. But what we have now is far worse: it is rule by executive diktats! That is what we have today.”

M. A. Sumanthiran MP, speaking on the Appropriation Bill 2020 in Parliament today, exposed the government’s flagrant violation of the law across a range of matters.

He alleged that the Appropriation Bill 2020 is an attempt to cover up illegal activities that the government has carried out in respect of public finances. Parliamentary resolutions can only be used to draw from the consolidated funds for specific public services expenditures such as the paying of government servant salaries.

The constitution does not permit the levying of taxes or government borrowing under this arrangement. Similarly, the constitution does not permit spending on developmental activities under parliamentary resolutions or presidential authorisation. For such necessities, an appropriation act must be passed in advance.

Continue reading ‘“There is no legal basis for the Army Commander’s recent announcement prohibiting travel out of the Western Province until November 15 and for Imposing the so called ‘quarantine curfew”states TNA Jaffna District MP Sumanthiran in Parliament’ »

Psychologically powered by Trump’s 2016 Victory ,the Gotabaya regime came into being as the last victory of global Alt-Right ultranationalism, the parabola of which has begun its descent with Trump’s defeat.


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” – John (1:5)

Let us remember George Floyd. Now the American people can begin to breathe. So can humanity.

When Obama won, I wrote a piece from Geneva entitled ‘Barack Obama: History’s High Note’ (https://groundviews.org/2008/11/06/barack-obama-historys-high-note/) Maybe I should call this ‘Joe Biden: History’s High Noon’. The victory of Joe Biden, Gary Cooper-like cool, calm, yet principled American moral hero, was a triumph for civility and moderation, decency and dignity, humanism and pluralism, social empathy and social fairness, anti-racism and anti-supremacism.

With Biden begins the end of American decline. Those who think that in the past week, the USA demonstrated its weakness and the debility of democracy as a system of governance, are much mistaken. History will show that this was the turning point, where the world saw democracy alive, in real-time, from the inside; how the values of democracy were fought for, even at this moment of ‘dual power’ marked by Trump’s institutional obstructionism and polarising incitement of far-right passions. A second American Revolution, this time a replay of the 1960s and ’70s, may be inevitable.

If a low-intensity Civil War is waged against the Biden-Harris administration by neofascist militia, drawing support from the ‘Confederate’ white supremacist constituency, future history will show that this only strengthened American democracy as did the Civil War of the 1860s, enhancing the moral strength of the American idea, ideals and system throughout the world.

As I entered my teens I read a new book (in 1970) which an American friend had gifted my father, titled ‘The Greening of America,’ by Charles A Reich. It contemplated the shift of consciousness of the 1960s, dubbing it Consciousness III. The Biden-Harris victory marks the birth of a new American consciousness, with globalised resonance because the USA is more a mirror of the world, of humanity in all its plurality, than is any other country, and its ideals as demonstrated by the vote for Biden-Harris, are more universalist than the message and model of its rivals and competitors. The gravitational centre of global consciousness could shift, creating a new global centre-space, a new democratic consensus, a new middle-ground and Middle Path.

History will indelibly etch the charismatic Kamala Harris, who is in part, OUR Kamala: not only the first woman Vice-President of the USA, but also the first woman of colour and of “South Asian descent” (Biden’s victory speech) to hold that post, who will also be the most powerful woman in the history of the most powerful nation in history.

Continue reading ‘Psychologically powered by Trump’s 2016 Victory ,the Gotabaya regime came into being as the last victory of global Alt-Right ultranationalism, the parabola of which has begun its descent with Trump’s defeat.’ »

Amidst a Raging Pandemic the Gotabaya-Mahinda Regime Reduces Allocations to Crucially Important Health Sector by Rs 29 Billion; Imagine the level of ignorance, the depth of self-delusion, the degree of myopia required for such a decision?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

We are closed in, and the key is turned

On our uncertainty…”

– Yeats (The Stare’s Nest by my Window)

What kind of government reduces expenditure on health in the midst of a global pandemic?

In the first week of October, the Lankan Cabinet approved the Appropriations Bill for 2021. Of a total estimated expenditure of Rs. 2.68 trillion only a paltry Rs. 159 billion was set aside for health. Defence got Rs. 355 billion. Highways got Rs. 335 billion. Health didn’t get even half of what the Highways got.

In 2019, with no global pandemic, the Sirisena-Rajapaksa administration set aside Rs. 188 billion for health. In 2020, amidst a global pandemic with no seeming end, the Gotabaya-Mahinda regime reduced it by Rs. 29 billion.

Imagine the level of ignorance, the depth of self-delusion, the degree of myopia required for such a decision. Imagine the same ignorance, self-delusion, and myopia informing and shaping governance for four more years and beyond. Imagine where Sri Lanka will be in 2025, ruled with such blind certitude and strategic incompetence.

A newspaper report published on 1 November illustrates the woeful state of unpreparedness in which the Government wallowed. The Ministry of Health has not ordered a single new ventilator since 1 March, or increased the number of ICU beds.

It is a dangerous thing, to believe in one’s own propaganda, especially when the gap between hype and reality is of abysmal proportions. The Gotabaya-Mahinda Government proclaimed the battle against the pandemic won, conclusively and forever.

Government leaders acted in gross violation of health regulations, eschewing masks, ignoring social distancing. Final victory was declared sans random community testing, the only way to discover if the virus is present in the larger society or not.

Annihilating the virus became a key propaganda theme in the Parliamentary Election campaign. Post-election, the pandemic turned into a non-issue, as the Government focused all its energy on getting the 20th Amendment through, with the dual-citizenship clause intact, a necessary precondition to ensure dynastic succession.

Continue reading ‘Amidst a Raging Pandemic the Gotabaya-Mahinda Regime Reduces Allocations to Crucially Important Health Sector by Rs 29 Billion; Imagine the level of ignorance, the depth of self-delusion, the degree of myopia required for such a decision?’ »

For the average Sri Lankan woman, making her own choice is challenged in numerous ways by the cultural, political and systemic impediments that are insistently placed in her way.

By

Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

A glass ceiling shattered in the United States of America just after 8:30 p.m. on 7 November, as Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect walked on stage in Wilmington, Delaware to thunderous applause to deliver her acceptance speech, just ahead of her boss, President-elect of the USA, Joe Biden.

The sound of that shattering glass will reverberate across the world as it begins to experience the multidimensional consequences of a woman in power in the second highest office in the most powerful country on earth.

Here in South Asia, we have seen powerful women Prime Ministers such as Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto. In Sri Lanka, which produced the first woman head of government in the world, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, we also voted for a woman President, Chandrika Kumaratunga twice, her daughter.

Continue reading ‘For the average Sri Lankan woman, making her own choice is challenged in numerous ways by the cultural, political and systemic impediments that are insistently placed in her way.’ »

USA Relationship With Sri Lanka is Likely to Take a Turn for the Better Under a Joe Biden -Kamala Harris Administration


By

P.K.Balachandran

US-Lanka relations will have to be seen in the context of US-China relations because as in the case of Trump, containment of China will be Biden’s focus in his policy on Asia, including South Asia. Therefore, Sri Lanka, with its growing economic ties with China, may continue to feel the pinch. But Biden’s approach to China is expected to be more nuanced than Trump’s, and this could work in Sri Lanka’s favour.

Biden sees China’s rise as a serious challenge, but he does not see China as a sworn enemy which deserves an urgent regime change. Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been openly campaigning for the overthrow of the “predatory” Chinese Communist Party. In contrast to Trump, Biden sees China as a “competitor” albeit an unruly competitor. He has riled against China’s “abusive” practices in the trade, technology and financial sectors, but he will counter it with better US technologies and the willing cooperation of America’s “democratic allies”. Biden is pledged to take America’s democratic partners along with him in his campaign to make China realise that change will be in its own interest.

Biden has acknowledged that China is making massive investments in energy, infrastructure, and technology that threaten to leave the US behind. He would attempt to reverse this trend to be able to face China credibly and peacefully.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Biden believes that “remaining competitive with China hinges on US innovation and uniting the economic might of democracies around the world.” This involves economic cooperation with other countries, including Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘USA Relationship With Sri Lanka is Likely to Take a Turn for the Better Under a Joe Biden -Kamala Harris Administration’ »

Murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Conviction of Duminda Silva

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa achieved a significant victory last week when the 20th Constitutional Amendment was passed in Parliament with 156 MP’s voting in support and 65 Voting against. The 20th Amendment which has now become law restores full-fledged powers to the executive presidency. Earlier the 19th Constitutional Amendment passed in 2015 had circumscribed some of the presidential powers. However critics allege that the 20th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution has empowered President Rajapaksa To a very great extent in the same manner in which the 2nd Amendment to the 1972 Constitution made former President JR Jayewardene a “Constitutional Dictator”.

Although news items pertaining to the 20th Amendment hogged much of media limelight, there had been another interesting development also last week that made quite a media splash. The well informed political Editor of our sister newspaper the “Sunday Times” stated in the weekly political column that the office of the Chief Government whip had circulated among MP’s a petition calling for the pardon and release of former MP Duminda Silva who is currently a murder convict. The petition appealing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for clemency towards Duminda Silva was distributed on October 20 at the Govt Parliamentary Group Meeting presided over by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. “The fact that the Chief Government Whip’s office staff circulated the petition and almost all MPs who attended the group meeting placed their signatures makes clear the exercise had official blessings. When the petition goes to President Rajapaksa, the release of Duminda Silva is thus a strong likelihood” opined the “Sunday Times” report. It later transpired that several Govt MP’s had not signed the petition while a few opposition Parliamentarians had also endorsed the document in a surprise move.

Continue reading ‘Murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and Conviction of Duminda Silva’ »

A-G Dappula de Livera Protests against Move by President Rajapaksa to Appoint Additional Judges to Supreme Court and Appeal Court Overlooking Senior Officials of Attorney -Generals Dept and Conveys Objections to Prime Minister Rajapaksa

By Ranjith Padmasiri

Attorney General Dappula de Livera has raised objections over ignoring senior members of his department for vacancies in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal which are to be expanded in terms of the 20th Amendment.

The move came as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is now empowered to make appointments to the Superior Courts after the 20th Amendment was approved, sent in names of six Court of Appeal judges to the newly established Parliamentary Council to be considered to the vacancies in the Supreme Court where the bench is to be expanded from 11 to 17.

Continue reading ‘A-G Dappula de Livera Protests against Move by President Rajapaksa to Appoint Additional Judges to Supreme Court and Appeal Court Overlooking Senior Officials of Attorney -Generals Dept and Conveys Objections to Prime Minister Rajapaksa’ »

Murdered Ex-MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s Brother and Sisters Condemn Move to Release Murder Convict Duminda Silva From Prison

By

Asela Premachandra and sisters

When the five-bench apex court confirmed the death penalty on Duminda Silva and his criminal cohorts for killing Bharatha Laksman Premachandra and three others, his political supporters screamed saying that they would bring “sir” to the presidency and get their leader released from prison.

There was also a relentless and effective campaign to get him released through some sections of the media. This helped ensure a change of government that was to follow.

Continue reading ‘Murdered Ex-MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s Brother and Sisters Condemn Move to Release Murder Convict Duminda Silva From Prison’ »

Over 200 Persons Including Ministers,MP;s, Governor and Officials Participate in High Level Meeting in Crowded Auditorium in Jaffna Violating COVID -19 Health regulations And Disregarding Objections by Health Authorities


Despite Northern health authorities expressing severe concerns over the conducting of a meeting with ministers and officials visiting from Colombo, a high-level meeting was held on Friday at the Jaffna District Secretariat (DS), disregarding COVID-19 health regulations.

Continue reading ‘Over 200 Persons Including Ministers,MP;s, Governor and Officials Participate in High Level Meeting in Crowded Auditorium in Jaffna Violating COVID -19 Health regulations And Disregarding Objections by Health Authorities’ »

Current US Presidential Election is fundamentally a clash of competing ideologies between antipathy to democracy and the energy behind democracy


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As the world watches transfixed in amazed horror, the spectacle of ‘these United States’ seemingly heading into a meltdown over the peaceful transition of power with the 2020 Presidential election racing to an unnerving photo finish, the clash here is not purely of civilizations a la Samuel Huntingdon, (Christianity versus Islamic).

A clash of ideologies

Even with the underplay of racism intertwined with cultural and religious tensions as stoked by inflammatory rhetoric of US President Donald Trump, this is fundamentally a clash of competing ideologies; antipathy to democracy versus the energy behind democracy, as flawed and as dysfunctional as it may be on occasion. Already the American boast of a historically peaceful electoral system has been put to shame with reports of attempted attacks on counting centres by armed men in military vehicles.

These attacks have followed inflammatory rhetoric by the US President calling on his supporters to rally around him and are thus, no coincidence. With opposing crowds shouting war cries in the streets as election officers continue the torturous process of counting the votes, boutiques in the most exclusive parts of Manhattan in New York City had already boarded up their shutters in anticipation of election violence.

The Democratic camp, emboldened by the electoral performance of Joe Biden, once looked upon as ‘lacking charisma’ but now soothingly cloaked in the garb of a ‘unifier’ and a ‘healer,’ has said that it is fully within its rights to eject ‘trespassers’ from the White House

This is amazingly combative language.Closer at home, India is in the grip of a worsening pandemic amidst a cult-like fixation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Each of these examples, the US, India and tinpot versions of the same scattered throughout the world teach us the same lesson; obsession with a single source of overweening power is infinitely dangerous.

Manipulation of democracy

It is dangerous for routine governance minus checks and balances. It is even more so in extraordinary situations of emergency such as a health pandemic. And what the US tells us is that just because democracy itself or indeed liberal democracy has come to be manipulated and subverted as a result of weak or corrupt leaders, that does not mean that the values it embodies should yield to the ‘autocrat,’ the ‘authoritarian’ or as a trenchant critic of US President Donald Trump put it, ‘ a lying, blustering bully.’

Astute political observers have also blamed Democratic for the bitter divisions in which the American people find themselves, fuelled by easy condemnation of liberal elites of the ‘deplorables,’ as rural Trump voters were once typified by Hillary Clinton. Absent strategies for finding common ground or understanding the reasons why desperation is rampant in (white)communities ravaged by poverty and lawlessness and rift by hate of (black) communities, it is no surprise that terms such as ‘endemic racism’ and ‘white supremacists’ are now part of normal commentary in the United States.

This speaks to an irreversible shift in social behaviour that may have a far longer shelf life than President Trump himself. But the astounding shenanigans that the President is up to has led observers in his own country to draw comparisons with African dictators. This makes for risque humor no doubt for citizens of the global South, too long the target of solemnly hypocritical pontification on the Rule of Law by the United States, who now poke fun at their tormentor.

Certainly, notwithstanding who wins or who loses in these elections and even if the process is salvaged by a miracle of reason dawning on the impossibly infantile incumbent in the White House, the road to recovery in the US will not be easy or pleasant even as the global health pandemic sees its highest numbers.

Warnings that the US elections hold out

Nonetheless, the warnings that the US elections hold out for us are very real. In particular, the interplay of judges with the legal cum constitutional process, is of immediate interest. At the moment, multiple law suits challenging the ongoing election process have been filed in the state courts by Republican lawyers.

Propelled by the frenzied whip lashings of President Donald Trump which reminds one of the death throes of a wounded wild boar, whether fatally or not we have yet to see, these cases have not met with any noticeable degree of success so far.

Some cases have already been tossed out summarily by irritated judges who have found no evidence to substantiate a wild Presidential claim of election fraud. In the rare case or two, procedural safeguards such as a closer watch by election observers on the vote counts, have been ordered. But as to how this unedifying drama of legal challenges to the vote count is finally played out in the US Supreme Court is anybody’s guess.

The Court, as critics have contended, has been ‘packed’ by appointees of the President. This includes a recent appointee who was pushed into the Court most unbecomingly at the very edge of the Presidential election to fill the place left by liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Several vacancies in the federal courts, including the circuit courts of appeals have similarly been filled by conservative appointees. Even so, the US judiciary had held firm to its judicial function so far despite blustering and bravado from the Office of the Presidency.

Judges serving on state courts have been particularly robust in ruling against executive overreach. On this occasion as well, they will, no doubt remind themselves, as should the members of the Bench in this part of the world, that history is a harsh judge of judicial character under pressure.

Look listen and learn from the agonies of the US people

Indeed, the record of our countries will tell us that, regardless of how a particular political moment may shape a judicial response, a reckoning will come at some point or the other. In some cases, these reckonings have been acknowledged by judges themselves. Thus, the line of Indian judges who justified Indira Gandhi’s trampling of civil liberties in the seventies, including declaring that the right to life was not available during a time of emergency, came to profoundly regret their decisions. Some even wrote open apologies to the nation in a spirit of sincere regret, decades later.

In Sri Lanka, some judges who had sat on the Bench which approved the 18th Amendment giving judicial carte blanche to (then) President Mahinda Rajapaksa to demolish the institution of the Constitutional Council under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and reduce the constitutional commissions to caricatures, had reason thereafter to question themselves.

Ironically, one of those very same Justices was later impeached when she was not found to be sufficiently servile to the Rajapaksa (the First) Presidency at the time.

This is the inexorable manner in which ‘judges are judged,’ finally and irrevocably, by history. That is the most fitting answer to the vexed question posed by Juvenal echoing in the millennia of human history, ‘quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ (who will guard the guards themselves?).

The corrupt judge and the ‘political’ judge will undoubtedly find their place in the historical record to be shameful, regardless of profits or positions that may momentarily be held, in Sri Lanka, the US or India as the case may be.

Above all. look, listen and learn from the US. Its agonies should surely teach us something.

Courtesy:Sunday Times

Donald Trump has not been written off history as anticipated by his critics because 40 to 50 percent of American voters have endorsed his gamut of outrageous actions by voting for him.


By Gamini Weerakoon

It is a matter of grave doubt whether any national leader or scoundrel would have had a varied and colourful record of achievements and debasements as Donald Trump in contemporary history. Trump confounded critics when he contested the American presidency four years ago, ridiculing and slandering what had been considered the sacred pillars of the American establishment — the media, the Washington establishment, Intelligence Agencies (CIA, FBI and NIA), his outrageous behaviour towards women and refused to declare his income tax returns.

An American critic says Trump has survived: One Impeachment, one divorce, six bankruptcies, 26 accusations of sexual misconduct and an estimated 4,000 lawsuits. As the President of the United States, he continued in the same style regardless, taking on the national intelligence agencies, rejecting some of their basic findings, sacking the director of the FBI and granting presidential pardons to cronies incarcerated on decisions of American courts.

Continue reading ‘Donald Trump has not been written off history as anticipated by his critics because 40 to 50 percent of American voters have endorsed his gamut of outrageous actions by voting for him.’ »

President has undermined the Constitutional checks and balances for good governance, which he described as obstacles to his drive for delivering the people’s needs.Has the much needed ‘delivery’ to the people, become a reality?

By

Tassie Seneviratne

(The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police)

On September 26, the President decreed: “It is the law because I say so.” And he went on to explain that his verbal orders must be considered as circulars coming from the ‘Executive President.’ Public Administration circulars that may contravene his verbal orders, were ignored.

In the time of ancient kings whatever the king said was law. People of Sri Lanka were quick to recall the mythological king Ravana of Lanka.

Ravana is chronicled in mythology as a stubborn and incredibly powerful king with untamed passion that leads him to extremes in behavior. In Sri Lankan mythology, Ravana is depicted as a king of Lanka and the chief antagonist of Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana and its adaptations.

In Hindu mythology, Ravana is widely considered to be a symbol of evil. In Sri Lankan mythology, however, he is considered as a great ruler. It is, of course, with these mythologies in mind that the people of Sri Lanka likened the President to King Ravana.

Continue reading ‘President has undermined the Constitutional checks and balances for good governance, which he described as obstacles to his drive for delivering the people’s needs.Has the much needed ‘delivery’ to the people, become a reality?’ »

“The increasing COVID-19 deaths in the past few days is a sign that the outbreak may be larger than our current constrained PCR testing is able to track. If we want to avoid lockdowns we need to replace it with widespread PCR testing on a routine basis”.

by Dr. Ravi Rannan-Eliya

The increasing COVID-19 deaths in the past few days is a sign that the outbreak may be larger than our current constrained PCR testing is able to track. As I and others warned six months ago, we needed to ramp up PCR testing to keep the virus at bay and prevent future outbreaks.

The President and PM gave instructions to that effect, but in reality this did not happen. Why remains a mystery, but the current outbreak is the inevitable consequence.

Increasing PCR testing reduces COVID-19 transmission (Reff). In combination with contact tracing and isolation, it is the most effective intervention we have to control the virus.

Better by far than lockdowns, masks, school closures and asking people to wash their hands… Other countries that were doing well back in May did continue to ramp up PCR testing, despite in some cases having no local cases. All these countries have managed to avoid a second wave.

Continue reading ‘“The increasing COVID-19 deaths in the past few days is a sign that the outbreak may be larger than our current constrained PCR testing is able to track. If we want to avoid lockdowns we need to replace it with widespread PCR testing on a routine basis”.’ »

Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales urges the Sri Lankan Government to release Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah from detention and to uphold the rule of law and its international legal obligations


The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) in a statement has expressed concern at reports of the continued detention of prominent human rights lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and urged his release.

“BHRC urges the Sri Lankan Government to release Hejaaz Hizbullah from detention, to uphold the rule of law and its international legal obligations and to take all necessary steps to ensure that lawyers in Sri Lanka are able to carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation or harassment,” the statement said.

Following is the full text:

“We note that Mr. Hizbullah is a member of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka. He has been involved in a number of significant constitutional cases against the government and has acted for the rights of Muslim minorities in the country. He is known for his moderate and reformist views within that community.

Continue reading ‘Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales urges the Sri Lankan Government to release Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah from detention and to uphold the rule of law and its international legal obligations’ »

Communist Party of China and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna are committed to jointly promote regular exchanges, engage in in-depth experience sharing on governance and enhance collaboration during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on Wednesday held an advanced seminar on governance via video, strictly abiding by the health guidelines of both countries.

Minister Song Tao of the International Department of Central Committee of CPC, Party Secretary Liu Cigui of CPC Provincial Committee of Hainan Province, SLPP Chairman Professor G.L. Peiris, Secretary General Sagara Kariyawasam, SLPP MPs including Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Namal Rajapaksa and Ramesh Pathirana together with some State Ministers and Mayors from the Western Province participated in the meeting.

Ambassador-designate Qi Zhenhong joined the discussion in his self-quarantine and delivered a speech on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Communist Party of China and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna are committed to jointly promote regular exchanges, engage in in-depth experience sharing on governance and enhance collaboration during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.’ »

Will Maha Vikara Pavithra aand Govt Colleagues Usher in a new era that will move away from the Maha Sangha and give a towering place in society and governance to the Manthara Guru Kendraya?

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

What a great nation we are!

We have a Cabinet Minister – the one in charge of health – offering to sacrifice herself to the sea, to save this country from the Covid pandemic. Shouldn’t we feel safe?

Is she in fact offering to make this self-sacrifice to atone for the overall failure of the government, with the power of 20A too, to control this virus spread? Let’s keep that for its 145 plus members to decide.

Does this Pavithra from Sabaragamuwa, with an Aratchi heritage from the Vanniya, have hopes of being our next Vihara Maha Devi? Does she know that the daughter of King Kelanitissa, made her sacrifice for her father burning an innocent monk in a cauldron of oil?

Is she ready to tell us what faults, crimes, or sins of her own leader/leaders she is willing to make this sacrifice for, when the sea had not yet flooded the country, as happened when the princess was ceremonially cast into the sea to save the land?

The near insanity of this politically catchy offer of a sacrifice has already given her the name of Vikara Maha Devi. I think Maha Vikara Devi would be closer to reality.

Continue reading ‘Will Maha Vikara Pavithra aand Govt Colleagues Usher in a new era that will move away from the Maha Sangha and give a towering place in society and governance to the Manthara Guru Kendraya?’ »

Dissonance in language used by the two sides About President Rajapaksa’s Meeting With Mike Pompeo has led to questions as to what really transpired in the meetings and whether any understandings were reached.

By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s whirlwind visit last week has left in its trail many unanswered questions.

It’s clear that for the US, this trip was all about signing up allies in its all-but-declared war against China, under the rubric of what it calls a ‘free and open Indo Pacific.’

The messages coming across from the two governments revealed a certain disconnect. Concluding his visit Pompeo tweeted that his meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardena “reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s pivotal role as an Indo Pacific partner.” But there is nothing endorsing this assertion from the government. President Rajapaksa tweeted that he appreciated Pompeo’s stance on “the need to strengthen the bilateral relationship and support for defence cooperation” and valued Pompeo’s views “on assistance for investment and our development needs.”

Pompeo engaged in China-bashing at every turn, calling the Chinese Communist Party a ‘predator’ and accusing it of bringing “bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea.” The United States “comes in a different way … as a friend and as a partner” he said, according to a US embassy transcript of a joint media briefing.

Continue reading ‘Dissonance in language used by the two sides About President Rajapaksa’s Meeting With Mike Pompeo has led to questions as to what really transpired in the meetings and whether any understandings were reached.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says it is impractical to close down the country until a cure for COVID-19 is found and urges the public to be be ready to return to normal lives while following health guidelines

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said it was both impractical and difficult to close down the country until a cure for COVID-19 is found and therefore the public should be ready to return to normal lives while following health guidelines.

The President made these remarks while participating at the launch of a new digital platform to help in contact tracing at the Presidential Secretariat, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said. The new platform titled ‘Stay Safe’ provides a QR code to organisations or companies logging onto the website staysafe.gov.lk which can be displayed on their premises.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says it is impractical to close down the country until a cure for COVID-19 is found and urges the public to be be ready to return to normal lives while following health guidelines’ »

The quintessence of the model and ethos of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime is weaponised Jathika Chinthana or Jathika Chinthana militarised.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing two crises which will trigger the third. They stem from a common source and therefore can be resolved only if rectification takes place at that source, that root.

One crisis is the second wave of COVID-19. It is manifest and acknowledged but its dimensions are played down and the sins of commission and omission which led to it are unspoken. Another is that of our external relations. That crisis is latent, but not entirely invisible, and is completely unacknowledged. The third crisis, which is building up, is the economic.

The common root of the failure to prevent or manage these crises is the error in policy perspectives, stemming from the error of policy paradigms, sourced in wrong thinking, wrong attitudes and outlook.

Continue reading ‘The quintessence of the model and ethos of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime is weaponised Jathika Chinthana or Jathika Chinthana militarised.’ »

“Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s martinet notions of a “disciplined society” risk dashing dreams of a plural, devolved Sri Lanka in which the Tamils and Muslims are as much a part of the polity as Sinhalese” -The Economist


Never say Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves things to chance. After decisively winning the presidential election last November, putting family in charge of important government departments, suspending Parliament and finally winning postponed elections in early August in a landslide for his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (slpp) and supporting parties, still the president insisted that “obstacles” to his authority remained. Changes to the constitution were the only solution. Parliament has granted his wish, creating a near-absolute presidency with the 20th amendment.

pic via: The Economist

As so often in Sri Lanka’s turbulent history, the amendment in effect annuls its predecessor. The 19th amendment was a reaction to the overweening rule of Gotabaya’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, president from 2005 until his surprise defeat in 2015.

Continue reading ‘“Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s martinet notions of a “disciplined society” risk dashing dreams of a plural, devolved Sri Lanka in which the Tamils and Muslims are as much a part of the polity as Sinhalese” -The Economist’ »

120 Short -Finned Pilot Whales Stranded Along the Panadura Beach Pulled and Pushed Back Into Deep Sea in Combined Rescue Operation by Navy, Coastguard and Civilian Volunteers Guided by Marine Conservation Experts

By

Meera Srinivasan

Pooling their manpower and expertise in a joint overnight operation, Sri Lanka’s navy, coast guard, local volunteers and conservation experts have rescued nearly 120 stranded whales back into the deep sea.

On Monday afternoon, residents of Panadura — some 25 km south of Colombo on the island’s west coast — reported sighting a school of whales by the shore. Within hours the Sri Lankan navy and Coast guard deployed nearly 70 personnel to the spot. “With conservation experts guiding us and many local volunteers helping, the team was able to pull back the whales into the deep waters, using jet skis,” Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva told The Hindu.

Continue reading ‘120 Short -Finned Pilot Whales Stranded Along the Panadura Beach Pulled and Pushed Back Into Deep Sea in Combined Rescue Operation by Navy, Coastguard and Civilian Volunteers Guided by Marine Conservation Experts’ »

Hypothetically If Parliament passed a constitutional amendment with two-thirds majority saying all Tamils and Muslims must be lined up and shot unless they became Sinhalese-Buddhist and then the people approved this in a national referendum, Would the Supreme Court approve the change?

By

Prof. S.Ratnajeevan H Hoole

Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution kept the existing immoral foremost position for Buddhism and introduced a strong presidency that every government promised to abolish but once elected, never did. It allowed the Rajapaksa family – Mahinda, son Namal, brothers Basil and Gotabaya – to do egregious wrongs.

Mahinda had a deal with the separatist Tamil Tigers to prohibit Tamils from voting in the 2005 Presidential Elections. The then Election Department under a Commissioner failed to declare the low-turn-out elections in Tamil areas void. Mahinda became President. His family held most key offices in 2005-2015.

By civil war’s end in 2009, the UN estimated that 40,000 minority Tamils were disappeared. White vanning disappeared the Sinhalese opposition too. Looting of State coffers and disappearances increased. The tired people turned out the Rajapaksas in the 2015 elections with the help of Tamils and Muslims.

Continue reading ‘Hypothetically If Parliament passed a constitutional amendment with two-thirds majority saying all Tamils and Muslims must be lined up and shot unless they became Sinhalese-Buddhist and then the people approved this in a national referendum, Would the Supreme Court approve the change?’ »

Whether it Likes it or not ,as a strategic pivot in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Sri Lanka is likely to find itself in the eye of US -China Cold War 2.0’s strategic storm in the Future .

By

Col R Hariharan

Overview

The month of October was an eventful one for Sri Lanka. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution (20A) empowering the President was passed in parliament with two-thirds majority. The Covid-19 pandemic made a dramatic comeback in a second wave, to boost the virus-affected numbers which stood at 9,791 with 19 deaths as on October 31, 2020. Evidently, the second wave had caught the administration flat footed. In spite of these preoccupations, the worsening relations between two giant Asian powers –India and China – who have close relations with Sri Lanka, churning up the strategic environment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) became a cause of concern. The visits of high power dignitaries – first the Chinese and then the US – brought home the reality of Cold War 2.0 threatening to jeopardize Sri Lanka’s efforts to recover from economic woes. It showed Sri Lanka’s economic recovery in times of Covid pandemic is very much linked to the increasingly difficult task of managing its international relations.

20th Amendment

During the first half of the month, the passing of the 20A occupied Sri Lanka’s political centre stage. The controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution (20A), aimed at restoring the powers of the executive president, deprived by the previous government. In fact, it has replaced the ten-member constitutional council with five-member parliamentary council, bringing the independent commissions under the control of the President. This generated a lot of heart burning between parties and behind the door manoeuvres before the bill was fielded in parliament.

However, in spite of international concerns, political speculations, opposition from some of the Buddhist and Catholic clergy and internal rumblings among ruling party leaders, the 20A had a smooth passage in parliament on October 22, 2020. In the 225-memer House, 156 members voting in favour and 65 against, while four abstained.

Continue reading ‘Whether it Likes it or not ,as a strategic pivot in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Sri Lanka is likely to find itself in the eye of US -China Cold War 2.0’s strategic storm in the Future .’ »

If Sri Lanka moves towards China With the national problem remaining unresolved the country may inherit the same fate of President Jayewardene.

By

Harsha Gunasena

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Sri Lanka after the recent visit of a high-powered Chinese delegation, led by senior Chinese leader and top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, who is a member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo and the Director of the Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Commission

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the press conference with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena called the Chinese Communist Party a predator. The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka tweeted that China was not interested in his Alien vs. Predator game invitation.

Secretary Pompeo visited Sri Lanka after the recent visit of a high-powered Chinese delegation, led by senior Chinese leader and top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, who is a member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo and the Director of the Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Commission.

As a precursor of the visit, Dean Thompson, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the State Department, said: “We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions to secure its economic independence for long-term prosperity,” to which Chinese officials responded that it was cold war mentality and bullying of weak nations.

Continue reading ‘If Sri Lanka moves towards China With the national problem remaining unresolved the country may inherit the same fate of President Jayewardene.’ »

Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Chair Ramani Muttetuwegama Writes to Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi Recommending Guidelines to Regularie the Quarantine Process Under the Law While Ameliorating Hardships Imposed On the Public.

Acknowledging the need to restrict freedom of movement and liberty of people in the interests of public health and public order during an extraordinary health emergency such as that facing the country at present, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has in a letter addressed to Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, head of the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID 19 Outbreak, made a series of recommendations to address public concerns.

HRCSL Commissioner Ramani Muttettuwegama said that the Commission appreciated the efforts that were being made to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. The Commissioner said: “The Commission continues to recognise the need to restrict freedom of movement and liberty of people in the interests of public health and public order during an extraordinary health emergency such as that facing the country at present. The Commission has observed that a large number of persons have been subject to quarantine processes in view of the resurgence of the fear of spread of COVID-19 pandemic and has received a variety of complaints and expressions of concerns relating to the process.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission Chair Ramani Muttetuwegama Writes to Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi Recommending Guidelines to Regularie the Quarantine Process Under the Law While Ameliorating Hardships Imposed On the Public.’ »

Justice Minister Ali Sabry Tells Sajith Premadasa not to Play Politics and Create Communal Disharmony When the Opposition Leade Raised the Isuue of Cremating Muslim COVID -19 Victims in Violation of of Islamic Burial Rights


by Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa was told in Parliament yesterday not to play the race card with the sensitive issue of cremating Muslim COVID-19 victims to score political points by rousing communal disharmony.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry said that the issue had been very sensitive to Muslims as cremation was in violation of Islamic burial rights, and asked the Opposition Leader not to play politics with such issues.

Minister Sabry said so after Opposition Leader Premadasa raised the issue of cremating Muslims, during the debate on two new regulations under the Medical Ordinance.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Ali Sabry Tells Sajith Premadasa not to Play Politics and Create Communal Disharmony When the Opposition Leade Raised the Isuue of Cremating Muslim COVID -19 Victims in Violation of of Islamic Burial Rights’ »

The name, ‘Bim Saviya,’ is a misnomer as this law makes lands untenable for owners, especially farmers, and accessible for sale and mortgage with the elimination of traditional land rights that have existed for 100 years.

By A Senior Lawyer

(The writer is attached to the Sri Lanka Study Circle)

I refer to the article appearing in the Daily FT on 22 October titled ‘History repeating – Are we going to lose MCC or not?’ by an international development expert.

It is understandable if a non-lawyer does not understand the legal packages included in the MCC to change the land policy of the country and to change the land law of the country to the Australian law to suit the expansion of large-scale industrial farming complex

The Australian law is known as Torrens law or Title registration. The law which took away the rights of the indigenous people of Australia in 1858, where farming and grazing lands were often used and managed communally under customary laws.

Sri Lanka has given a Sinhala name, ‘Bim Saviya,’ to the law, curiously repeated in the MCC. This is a misnomer as this law makes lands untenable for owners, especially farmers, and accessible for sale and mortgage with the elimination of traditional land rights that have existed in the country for 100 years.

Continue reading ‘The name, ‘Bim Saviya,’ is a misnomer as this law makes lands untenable for owners, especially farmers, and accessible for sale and mortgage with the elimination of traditional land rights that have existed for 100 years.’ »

Sri Lanka’s commitment to America’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy is a violation of the United Nations Charter and of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.

By Tamara Kunanayakam

(Former Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva)

In fact, a military alliance between the US and Sri Lanka already exists. By signing ACSA in 2007, and renewing it in 2017, Sri Lanka committed its strategic entry points – ports and airports, our armed forces, our military installations, food, oil, and spare parts, to the US for its war against China.

The current regime seems to be pursuing the same policies as Yahapalana, but is doing so by resorting to coded language, because before the elections certain members of the present government stood up against the US defense agreements – ACSA, SOFA, and MCC – and because the majority of our people are clearly against engaging their country, their armed forces, their people, and their resources to fight America’s war against China.

In fact, by being given positions in government, the loudest opponents to America’s military project have been neutralised and effectively silenced, making it even easier for Washington to accelerate its agenda.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s commitment to America’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy is a violation of the United Nations Charter and of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.’ »

Mass Expulsion of Muslims From The North By The LTTE Thirty Years Ago

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) forcibly expelled the Tamil-speaking Muslim people from the Northern Province in October 1990. Within a few days the Muslims were chased out of their homeland where they had lived for many, many centuries. This year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of this cruel, inhuman episode in the history of Tamil-Muslim relations in Sri Lanka.

The mass expulsion of Muslims from the north in 1990 was a human catastrophe. Uprooting a people from their habitat at gun point and driving them away after depriving them of their cash and jewellery was despicable and unpardonable. I have often written about this tragedy in the past. I now intend to focus upon this mass expulsion on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

I shall be drawing on some of my earlier writings in a bid to revive memories of this mass expulsion by relating in brief the tale of this terrible tragedy. I also want to trace the sequence of events that led to this sordid exercise in which the Tamil-speaking Muslims were chased out by their gun-toting linguistic brethren of a feline hue.

Continue reading ‘Mass Expulsion of Muslims From The North By The LTTE Thirty Years Ago’ »

From JR’s 2nd to Gota’s 20th: A Tale Of Two Constitutional Amendments

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution has been passed with a two-thirds majority. 156 MP’s voted in favour while 65 voted against. Among those who voted for 20 A were eight MP’s from the opposition. Widespread speculation about the possibility of some dissidents within Govt folds voting against it and preventing a two-thirds majority has come to naught. The projected storm of revolt was transformed into a tea-cup tempest after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed them in a late night meeting. Hey Presto! The grand wizard Gotabaya turned ferociously growling (paper)tigers into meekly mewing,mildly purring pussy cats. With the smooth passage of the 20th Amendment being ensured, Sri Lanka will once again have a full-fledged executive presidency with a powerful president at the helm.

The elitist supporters of Gotabaya Rajapaksa like those of the “Viyathmaga” and “Eliya” are not people who would march jubilantly on the streets shouting slogans. But if they did, Gota’s golayas could adopt and adapt a slogan shouted out by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP) of Rohana Wijeweera in the days before the April 1971 insurgency. In those days Wijeweera’s JVP comrades were referred to as “Che Gue asvarists” as they idolized the fiery Marxist Leninist revolutionary leader. A favourite slogan was “Api Yanney Koi Paarey?Che Guevara Giya Paaret!(Which road do we trek on?the road where Che Guevara trekked on !).

Continue reading ‘From JR’s 2nd to Gota’s 20th: A Tale Of Two Constitutional Amendments’ »

When strongmen bluster their way into high office on a façade of glitzy propaganda and magical promises, the reality is that they loot their nation’s coffers, flounder and spend their time making excuses and blaming others as to why they could not deliver.

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

The upcoming presidential election in the United States of America has brought the world to the edge of our seats. It has exposed the dark underbelly of the American political system and left us all wondering whether America, the world’s oldest modern democracy, will indeed prove to be a democracy at all?

Four years ago, America fell under the spell of a strongman. Donald Trump took the stage with masterful control of the media. He hijacked a democratic system and bypassed the customary scrutiny of presidential candidates by hiding his tax returns, silencing people through non-disclosure agreements and defining the narrative of his political opponent.

By the measure of an election in any normal democracy, he failed. He garnered 2,868,686 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, losing the vote by a margin of 2.23%. To put that margin in a context that Sri Lankans would understand, Ranil Wickremasinghe lost the Sri Lankan presidential election in 2005 by a slimmer margin of only 1.86%. However, under the American system, it is the combination of states you win that counts, not the number of votes, and Donald Trump became president on that technicality.

For decades, the battle for the right to vote has been a feature of American politics. Politicians and partisan judges frequently succeed in preventing ethnic minorities, youth and other liberal demographics from voting, even divining ways to exclude the ballots of those who did vote. On more than one occasion, the politicized American Supreme Court has backed these efforts, further divorcing the American political system from what we in Sri Lanka understand as democracy.

Sri Lankans can take pride in our system. For all the political turmoil that our country has suffered in 72 years as an independent democracy, none barring the LTTE has even tried to deny the franchise to a Sri Lankan constituency or sought to prevent Sri Lankans from voting. It would be unthinkable for Sri Lankan courts to even entertain a case that sought to discriminate against Sri Lankan electors.

What remains unthinkable in little Sri Lanka is the only path before America’s Donald Trump to secure his re-election. A president who came to power on a technicality seeks to cling to power by unleashing a torrent of technicalities. His acolytes have sabotaged the postal service to scuttle the postal vote and filed over 300 court cases across America to prevent valid votes from being counted. They have shuttered polling places in urban areas to dissuade the poor from voting. They have adopted a flurry of similar strategies not to increase their own vote count, but to reduce the number of votes counted for their opponent, all of which would be unthinkable in Sri Lanka or any civilized democracy.

To those of us who treasure democracy and the institutions that defend it, there is solace to be found in the fact that Donald Trump is the first incumbent American President running for re-election who has not been endorsed by a single former President. Avowed institutionalists in his Republican party, from former Speaker Paul Ryan to the late Senator John McCain, have disavowed Trump. McCain went so far as to request that Trump not be allowed to attend his funeral.

Hundreds of retired senior military, intelligence and law enforcement officials in America have spoken out not just to oppose Donald Trump but to warn that his re-election would pose a grave threat to the national security and integrity of the United States of America.

Continue reading ‘When strongmen bluster their way into high office on a façade of glitzy propaganda and magical promises, the reality is that they loot their nation’s coffers, flounder and spend their time making excuses and blaming others as to why they could not deliver.’ »

How can China debase Lankan sovereignty by abusing an invited guest and tacitly state his visit as unwelcome And issue statements on Lanka’s behalf as if this independent island is another Hubei Province or Beijing’s Forbidden City?

By

Don Manu

The levelled playing fields of Lanka were queered this week when two titans – one the world’s superpower, the other its regional counterpart – chose to turn the tended turf to a muddied battlefield where invective missiles against each other were fired at will from their local silos, with scant regard to the much vaunted sovereignty of independent Lanka.

It also chillingly revealed that, beneath its proud, patriotic, defiant, flag waving, pseudo nationalistic bravado and inane rhetoric, there lay skulking the stark reality of this nation’s tenuous existence perilously dancing on a razor blade, torn between competing, irreconcilable interests of two ruthless, intransigent forces boiling with ire and hotly determined to shake the plum tree for itself without giving a fig about violating Lanka’s sovereign status with brash impunity.

Twenty four hours before the American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touches down at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Tuesday night as the honoured guest of Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the Chinese Embassy in Colombo issues a statement that, taken by its insidious import and underlying vituperative comments, is tantamount to no less than declaring him a persona non grata in Lanka or a person not welcome.

It is the highest form of censure that can be levelled against a diplomat by a host country, not by a third party country merely because its riled that a rival suitor had stepped on what she evidently perceives to be her exclusive turf bought for millions of yuan or is deadlocked as collateral for the loans liberally given. But strict observances of the niceties involved in diplomatic protocol is rashly cast aside along with its slothful panda disguise, and for a moment the sharp fangs of the Chinese tiger is bared for all to see and fear.

Continue reading ‘How can China debase Lankan sovereignty by abusing an invited guest and tacitly state his visit as unwelcome And issue statements on Lanka’s behalf as if this independent island is another Hubei Province or Beijing’s Forbidden City?’ »

What Sri Lanka needs are not seminars and conferences on the Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary replete with the usual pontifications by Ministers and their acolytes. What we should see instead are powerful symbols of integrity in public life and a healthy public demand for effective systems of accountability at all levels, including the judiciary

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Eyebrows are being raised over the 20th Amendment to the Constitution’s inclusion of provisions at committee stage to increase the number of judges in Sri Lanka’s superior courts of record, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Justified by the Justice Minister on the floor of the House on the rationale that the increase was due to a heavy backlog of cases in both courts, this clause was however not previously in the Government’s package of amendments presented to the Supreme Court by the Attorney General during consideration of the 20th Amendment Bill. It was inserted into the 20th Amendment in Parliament despite the Minister’s categorical assurance to Opposition parliamentarians that, no new amendments, apart from amendments in the public domain, would be brought to the Bill at committee stage.

However that may be, the 20th Amendment is a fait accompli. Questions have been asked by opposition parliamentarians as to whether this last minute inclusion of the amendment of Article 119 and Article 137 of the Constitution may lead to ‘packing’ the Court with friendly appointments in order to minimise the possibility of potentially adverse court rulings. This allegation will only be proved or disproved as the case may be in the future. Speculation at this point is hardly advisable.

Continue reading ‘What Sri Lanka needs are not seminars and conferences on the Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary replete with the usual pontifications by Ministers and their acolytes. What we should see instead are powerful symbols of integrity in public life and a healthy public demand for effective systems of accountability at all levels, including the judiciary’ »

Sean Connery one of Britain’s greatest screen actors forever linked with the role of James Bond and regularly saluted as the best to play the famous part dies at the age of 90.

By

Vanessa Thorpe

Sean Connery, one of Britain’s greatest screen stars, has died at the age of 90. The Scottish actor, forever linked with the role of James Bond and regularly saluted as the best to play the famous part, was mourned by the entertainment industry and his many fans on Saturday as the news broke.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said she was “heartbroken” to learn of the loss of the actor, also one of the most prominent campaigners for an independent Scotland: “Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons. Sean was born into a working-class Edinburgh family and, through talent and sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors.”

Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang the theme to Goldfinger, spoke of her fond memories of watching him play football, adding: “Well, I will always be there to cheer you on, Sean!”

Continue reading ‘Sean Connery one of Britain’s greatest screen actors forever linked with the role of James Bond and regularly saluted as the best to play the famous part dies at the age of 90.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has assured the Cabinet of ministers that his government wouldn’t sign the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) agreement Says National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had assured the Cabinet of ministers that his government wouldn’t sign the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) agreement, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday (29) said. The Cabinet had received that assurance before US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo arrival in Colombo on Tuesday, 27, he added.

Addressing the media at the NFF party office at Pitakotte, Minister Weerawansa said the issue had been discussed at length at the Cabinet before the arrival of Secretary of State Pompeo.

Weerawansa said the NFF wouldn’t remain in the govenrment if it signed MMC agreement, which he said, was detrimential to Sri Lanka’s interests.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has assured the Cabinet of ministers that his government wouldn’t sign the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) agreement Says National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa’ »

Passage of 20th Constitutional Amendment in Parliament by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Govt was Legal But was it Legitimate?

By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
– Jesus Christ (Luke 12: 56) –

I watched the second and final Trump-Biden debate on CNN after I had spent the two previous days watching the 20th Amendment debate on the Sri Lankan Parliament channel.

The rules of the US Presidential debate were drawn up by the independent Debate Commission and included a ‘mute button’ in case either or both candidates kept interrupting. If it were Sri Lanka today (after 20A), the Debate Commission would be picked by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, or to put it differently and implausibly, if the USA had Sri Lanka’s 20th Amendment, the Debate Commission would have been picked by President Trump. Sri Lankan society is divisible into those who would think that would be a good thing, and those (like me) who wouldn’t.

With the passage of the 20th Amendment on 22 October, the regime of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the battle of narratives even though it began to lose the legitimacy war.

Continue reading ‘Passage of 20th Constitutional Amendment in Parliament by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Govt was Legal But was it Legitimate?’ »

“ We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator and the United States comes in a different way as a friend and as a partner,” States US Secretary of State Mike Pomeo in Colombo

By Chandani Kirinde

Visiting US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo sought to draw a contrast between what China seeks in Sri Lanka as opposed to the manner in which the US operates and controversially labelled the Chinese Communist Party a “predator”.

At a joint press event Pompeo addressed with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the end of his brief visit to the country, the senior US official also said a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka is a powerful and strategic partner for the US on the world stage and it can be a beacon for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“That’s quite a contrast to what China seeks. We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way. We come as a friend and as a partner,” Pompeo said.

Continue reading ‘“ We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator and the United States comes in a different way as a friend and as a partner,” States US Secretary of State Mike Pomeo in Colombo’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.

According to a statement released by the President’s Media Division (PMD) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the United States is ready to continuously engage with Sri Lanka in striving to achieve economic development goals. His country expects to further develop already existing strong bilateral relations between the two countries.

The high-level US delegation led by State Secretary Mike Pompeo called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.

During the cordial discussion between the two parties, views on a number of areas of bilateral and regional importance were exchanged.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tells Visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Sri Lanka will not compromise its independence and sovereignty when conducting foreign relations but is open to working with the US to improve bilateral engagement including investment.’ »

US and India sign landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi: will the US fully back India with troop footfalls if China launches a full-scale invasion of India as it did in 1962?

By P. K. Balachandran

Although there is uncertainty about the return of the belligerent Donald Trump regime in the US in November, what is certain is a general trajectory towards military tension, if not war, in Asia from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

Last Friday (23), the Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that the “Chinese people would speak to the invaders in a language they understand,” and recalled how the combined forces of China and North Korea defeated the “legendary US army” in Korea in 1950-53. On the other side, the US has been building up the ‘Quad’ a military alliance comprising US, India, Japan and Australia to resist expected advances of Chinese forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

As part of these resistance efforts, the US and India signed the landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi on Tuesday (27), aimed at facing the perceived threat from China. Hailing the agreement, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said: “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency. I am glad to say India and US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by CCP. The US and India are better aligned to protect our democracies and shared values.”

Referring to the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel in Galwan Valley in a clash with the Chinese Army, Pompeo said the US stands with India to deal with any threat. Last month Pompeo told a Quad meeting in Tokyo that China had placed 60,000 troops along the Indian border.

Continue reading ‘US and India sign landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in New Delhi: will the US fully back India with troop footfalls if China launches a full-scale invasion of India as it did in 1962?’ »

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge taking the total number to nearly 8,000 as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend: total number of deaths rose to 16.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge, taking the total number to nearly 8,000, as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend. The total number of deaths rose to 16.

On Monday, authorities said Sri Lanka’s Parliament would be shut for two days for disinfection, after a member of the Special Task Force, on security duty, tested positive. The development comes days after the House convened for the debate on and subsequent passage of the controversial 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution with nearly all the 225 legislators attending the session.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge taking the total number to nearly 8,000 as more contacts linked to two new clusters identified this month were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend: total number of deaths rose to 16.’ »

Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.

Worries that this year’s COVID-19 crisis could see the country struggle to pay its debts have already seen its bonds slump almost 40% this year.

On Friday its 2021 and 2022 dollar-denominated bonds dropped 5 cents or more, according to Tradeweb data. Meanwhile its 2025 and 2026 bonds dropped below the 60 cents on the dollar threshold.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s government bonds fell heavily on Friday after the United States urged the country’s government to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its ties with China.’ »

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will politely tell Visiting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country.

By P.K.Balachandran

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who will be here on October 28, is expected to ask Sri Lankan leaders, point blank, to review relations with China; consider the options US is offering; and accept American advice on domestic and foreign policy.

A top foreign ministry official told Daily Express on Sunday, that Lankan leaders, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, will politely tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka’s decisions and policies will be guided by election mandates, the law and the constitution of the country, and its interests, while maintaining good relations with all countries in the region and the world.

“All the three leaders will tell the ranking US official politely that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country,” the top Lankan official, who spoke on anonymity, said.

Continue reading ‘President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will politely tell Visiting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country.’ »

Govt Smuggles in Last Minute Changes to Original 20th Amendment Bill at Committee Stage to Increase Supreme Court Judges From 11 to 17 and Appeal Court Judges From 12 to 20; Time Provided to People to Object to Emergency Bills Reduced from 14 to 7 days.

Sri Lanka’s parliament erupted in a heated debate over bringing last-minute changes to bills in the so-called committee stage by bypassing judicial review, in a country that no longer has post-enactment reviews of legislation by the court.

The constitutional amendment raised the number of Supreme Court justices from 11 to 17 and Court of Appeal judges from 12 to 20 in a last-minute change that was not in the original bill, opposition legislator Eran Wickremaratne said.

The 20th amendment also reduced the time given for post-enactment review to 7 days from the current 14 days for so-called ’emergency’ bills, which was halted in the 19th amendment due to past abuses.

New committee stage changes allow the Supreme Court to be bypassed altogether and limit the parliament itself to a day or a few minutes and citizens who are affected by the law no prior knowledge at all, critics say.

Continue reading ‘Govt Smuggles in Last Minute Changes to Original 20th Amendment Bill at Committee Stage to Increase Supreme Court Judges From 11 to 17 and Appeal Court Judges From 12 to 20; Time Provided to People to Object to Emergency Bills Reduced from 14 to 7 days.’ »

முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் தலைவர் அஷ்ரப் கிழக்கு முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் மிகவும் மக்கள் செல்வாக்குடைய தனியொரு தலைவராக விளங்கினார்


By

டி.பி.எஸ்.ஜெயராஜ்

எம்.எச்.எம்.அஷ்ரபை நினைவு கூருதல்

(This is the Tamil Version of the English Article “ Remembering SLMC Leader M.H.M. Ashraff by D.B.S.Jeyaraj in the “Political Pulse”Column of the “Daily FT”on September 16th 2020 to commemorate Mr. Ashraff’s 20th death anniversary on Sep 16. The Tamil version is being posted on this blog to denote the late SLMC Leader’s 72nd Birth Anniversary on October 23rd 2020))

ஸ்ரீலங்கா முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸின் தனித்துவமான தலைவர் மொஹமட் ஹ_சைன் மொஹமட் அஷ்ரபின் 20ஆவது நினைவு தினம் செப்டெம்பர் 16ஆம் திகதி வந்துபோனது. அவர் மரணமடைந்த வேளையில் ஜனாதிபதி சந்திரிகா பண்டாரநாயக்க குமாரதுங்க அரசாங்கத்தில் கப்பல் போக்குவரத்து துறைமுகங்கள் புனர்நிர்மாணம் மற்றும் புனர்வாழ்வு அமைச்சராக பதவி வகித்தார். அவர் 2000 செப்டெம்பர் 16ஆம் திகதி ஹெலிகொப்டர் விபத்தில் வேறு 14பேருடன் சேர்த்து, கொல்லப்பட்டார்.

விதிவசமான அன்றைய தினம் காலை எம்.எச்.எம்.அஷ்ரப், சுமார் 9.30 மணியளவில் கொழும்பு பம்பலப்பிட்டி பொலிஸ் மைதானத்தில் இலங்கை விமானப்படையின் எம்.ஐ.17 ஹெலிகொப்டரில் ஏறினார். அம்பாறைக்கு செல்வதற்கான அந்த பயணத்தில் இலங்கை விமானப்படையை சேர்ந்த இரு விமானிகளும் இருந்தனர்.

45நிமிடங்களுக்கு பிறகு ஸ்குவாட்ரன் லீடர் சிரான் பெரேரா ஓட்டிச் சென்ற அந்த ஹெலிகொப்டருடனான வானொலி தொடர்பை விமான போக்குவரத்து கட்டுப்பாட்டாளர்கள் இழந்தனர். சப்ரகமுவ மாகாணத்தில் கேகாலை மாவட்டத்தில் அரநாயக்கா பகுதியில் ஊராகந்த மலைத்தொடரில் ஹெலிகொப்டர் மோதியது பின்னர் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டது. ஹெலிகொப்டர் சிதைவுகளுக்குள்ளிருந்து 15 சடலங்கள் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டன. அஷ்ரபின் இறுதிச் சடங்கு அன்றைய தினம் பின்னிரவில் கொழும்பு ஜாவத்தை முஸ்லிம் மையவாடியில் இடம்பெற்றது. அவர் ஏற்கனவே தான் இறந்து சிலமணி நேரத்துக்குள் தனது உடலை அடக்கம் செய்துவிட வேண்டும் என்று குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களிடம் கூறியிருந்தார்.

அஷ்ரபின் மரணத்துக்கு பிறகு இரண்டு தசாப்தங்கள் கடந்து விட்டன. ஆனால், அவரது மரணம் முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் ஒரு வெற்றிடத்தை ஏற்படுத்தியது என்பதையும் அந்த வெற்றிடம் இன்றும் நிரப்பப்படவில்லை என்பதையும் எவரும் மறுக்க முடியாது. 20வருடங்களுக்கு பின்னரும் கூட அவரது மறைவு ஏற்படுத்திய தாக்கம் இலங்கை முஸ்லிம்களின் அரசியல் மீதும் குறிப்பாக முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் மீதும் குறிப்பிடத்தக்க செல்வாக்கை தொடர்ந்து செலுத்திக்கொண்டிருக்கின்றது.

கிழக்கில் மக்களின் செல்வாக்கை இழந்துபோவதை தவிர்க்க விரும்புகின்ற – செல்வாக்கை தொடர்ந்து தக்கவைக்க விரும்புகின்ற அல்லது மேலும் கூடுதல் செல்வாக்கை பெற விரும்புகின்ற எந்தவொரு முஸ்லிம் அரசியல்வாதியும் அஷ்ரப் என்ற மந்திரப் பெயரை எப்பொழுதும் புகழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்க வேண்டும். கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் அரசியல் ரீதியில் ஓரங்கட்டுப்படவிடக்கூடாதே என்ற பயத்தில் அஷ்ரபின் அரசியலை கண்டன விமர்சனம் செய்வதற்கு எந்தவொரு அரசியல்வாதியும் துணிச்சல் கொள்வதில்லை.

Continue reading ‘முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸ் தலைவர் அஷ்ரப் கிழக்கு முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் மிகவும் மக்கள் செல்வாக்குடைய தனியொரு தலைவராக விளங்கினார்’ »

Charismatic Actor -Politician Vijaya Kumaratunga: 75th Birth Anniversary Tribute

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Kovilage Vijaya Anthony Kumaratunga, known to the world as Vijaya Kumaratunga, was born in Seeduwa on 9 October 1945. Vijaya was an endearing personality with an enduring vision whom I liked, admired and respected very much. He was a man who envisaged the transformation of Sri Lanka into an inclusive, multi-ethnic, egalitarian and plural nation. A much-loved man of the masses who may have altered the destiny of this resplendent isle in a very positive manner, had he not been felled in the prime of life by foul assassins. A man whose worth is increasingly valued in the present time where communal discord is deliberately promoted for short-term political gain.

I write this week about the beloved actor-turned-politician Vijaya Kumaratunga whose 75th birth anniversary falls on 9 October.I have written some articles about Vijaya in the past. I will be drawing on some of them in writing this column which will focus on the much loved charismatic actor cum politician.

Continue reading ‘Charismatic Actor -Politician Vijaya Kumaratunga: 75th Birth Anniversary Tribute’ »

A Govt which marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawrdene

As Sri Lanka’s Parliament passed the 20th Amendment Bill enhancing the powers of the Presidency on Thursday while the country erupted in covid-induced flames, there is delight in watching the Rajapaksa brotherhood being hoist with its nationalist petard. A Government which had marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote for the 20th Amendment Bill primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.

Consternation of the Medamulana faithful outside the House was evident. Just days ago, a hostile upsurge of a sizeable segment of the Buddhist monkhood against the amendment was evidenced in an (un) holy combine with the good Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. The protest was led in the most glorious of ironies by the Abhayarama Temple, the headquarters from which the Rajapaksas had plotted their comeback from defeat in 2015. ‘We will never forgive this Government if it does not listen to us, we brought it to power’, the monks thundered. Well, as it so happened, the Government did not listen when it summarily disposed of the clause prohibiting dual citizens to enter Parliament.

That opposition minority votes were grabbed to pass the Bill on the floor of the House is sure to add more incendiary flames to an already scorching fire. So this ‘revolt in the temple’ had some distinctly amusing moments, one must confess. Government spokespersons extolled the virtues of a ‘global citizen’ in struggling to explain why the political entry of dual citizens is not necessarily bad as opposed to an ultra-nationalist exclusive citizenship. Suddenly screechingly anti-globalisation ‘pohottuwa’ types got more reasonable than even despised ‘liberals’ skulking in Colombo’s clubs, it appeared.

Continue reading ‘A Govt which marched triumphantly into power blaring its Sinhala-Buddhist credentials was pushed to secure a two thirds vote primarily through the crucial support of minority opposition politicians.’ »

Up to date essential, urgent public health information from the state not Adequately Available in the Tamil Language despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.

By S. Rubatheesan

Sri Lanka’s diverse minorities are not getting essential, urgent public health information from the state as soon as they are released, despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and patients in their areas, and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.

There is a severe shortage of translators in state offices and vacancies have not been filled for years.

The Government Information Department (GID), is still struggling to ensure trilingual public communications.

Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the GID, says the proliferation of fake news online and offline makes it essential that official statements are released early and translations issued later. The GID has used external translators with little success.

Continue reading ‘Up to date essential, urgent public health information from the state not Adequately Available in the Tamil Language despite the massive flare-up in the coronavirus every day across the island and ever-changing curfew hours and lockdowns.’ »

Controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution Passed with a two -third Majority;156 MP’s Vote in Favour while 65 Vote against;8 Renegade Opposition MP’s from SJB, SLMC,ACMC, MNA and TPA vote with Govt; Former President Maithripala Sirisena is Absent at voting time

The controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution – with amendments to the original draft – was passed at the second reading with a two thirds majority in Parliament on October 22nd 2020.. One hundred and fifty six MP’s voted in favor while sixty -five voted against.

The 20th Amendment will restore full-fledged executive powers to the executive presidency while diminishing the powers of the Prime Minister and De-valuing Parliament.

It will reverse the progress made by the previous 19th amendment to the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution Passed with a two -third Majority;156 MP’s Vote in Favour while 65 Vote against;8 Renegade Opposition MP’s from SJB, SLMC,ACMC, MNA and TPA vote with Govt; Former President Maithripala Sirisena is Absent at voting time’ »

20th Amendment Giving Sweeping Powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Passed with a Two-thirds Majority Obtained Through the Support of Eight Opposition Parliamentarians

By Chandani Kirinde

The 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill was passed in Parliament last night with 156 MPs voting for the Bill and 65 against.

With support from seven MPs from minorities and main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Assistant Secretary MP Diana Gamage, the Government secured the two-third majority in the 225-member Legislature to pass the constitutional amendment which would strengthen the hand of the Executive and restore the powers that were stripped from the President under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Opposition MPs who supported the Bill were SJB Anuradhapura District MPs Ishak Rahuman and M.S. Thowfeek, National List MP Diana Gamage, Digamadulla MPs H.M.M. Harees and Faizal Cassim, Badulla District MP A. Aravindh Kumar, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Batticaloa District MP Naseer Ahamad and Muslim National Alliance (MNA) Puttalam District MP Ali Sabri Raheem.

Gamage said she voted as per her consciences.

Continue reading ‘20th Amendment Giving Sweeping Powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Passed with a Two-thirds Majority Obtained Through the Support of Eight Opposition Parliamentarians’ »

We the people may well ask, what is the guiding principle of this new constitution making process, and what does it seek to achieve?

By

Sakuntala Kadirgamar

(The writer is the Executive Director at Law and Society Trust.)

The Ministry of Justice issued an invitation to the public to submit proposals for consideration by an expert committee established to draft a new constitution to replace the Second Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka.

The public is requested to submit proposals by 30 November 2020, and they are requested to be brief. The sub-text from the Ministry of Justice is: This is a technical document. Pleases do not express your dreams, your hopes and your fears about the direction of the country or the role of the constitution in directing the country. This is not about expressing the ‘soul of the nation’ as the South African Constitution was described.

Eleven broad themes are outlined: Nature of the State; fundamental rights; language; directive principles of State policy; the Executive (President/Cabinet of Ministers/The Public Service); the Legislature; franchise and elections including referenda; decentralisation, devolution of power and power sharing; the Judiciary; public finance; and public security and any other area of interest not specifically mentioned above. Perhaps the independent constitutional commissions that are not included within these 11 themes can be accommodated under ‘any other areas of interest’. It is not clear at this stage if the ‘areas of interest’ should be of interest to the State or to the citizen.

Continue reading ‘We the people may well ask, what is the guiding principle of this new constitution making process, and what does it seek to achieve?’ »

20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority following a two-day debate.

By

Meera Srinivasan

The controversial 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority, following a two-day debate.

The 20th Amendment was the Rajapaksa administration’s first big test in the legislature, since it triggered concern and resistance from not just the political opposition, but also the influential Buddhist clergy that Sri Lanka’s southern polity venerates.

As many as 156 MPs in the 225-member House voted for it, while 65 legislators voted against the Bill.

Continue reading ‘20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority following a two-day debate.’ »

Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65 with the required two-thirds majority;20A abolishes the independent Constitutional Council and enhances the President’s executive powers in an unprecedented way.

The Sri Lankan parliament on Thursday passed the controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65, eight votes more than necessary to pass it with the required two-thirds majority.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had 148 MPs out of the total, current, House membership of 223. One ruling party member, former President Maihripala Sirisena, had excused himself, bringing down the alliance’s strength to 148 from 149 (without including the Speaker).

The parliament’s sanctioned strength is 225 including the Speaker. But there are two vacant seats, those of the UNP & OPPP (RathanaThero and Gnanasara Thero’s party). These two parties had not named their National List MPs. Therefore, with Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, the total strength of parliament, currently, is 223 MPs.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution by 156 votes to 65 with the required two-thirds majority;20A abolishes the independent Constitutional Council and enhances the President’s executive powers in an unprecedented way.’ »

Sri Lanka has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today.


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Call it the COVID-19 Constitution or the Corona Constitution—because it is advancing under cover of corona. The public has been given a deadline of 30 November to send in suggestions for the new Constitution. Seriously? The public is hardly in a state of mind to reflect on such issues.

The draft of the new Constitution will be presented in six months according to Prof. G.L. Peiris. That’s a time Sri Lanka will still be battling COVID-19 or struggling with the economic crisis or both, and the whole system should be focused on these twin tasks.

The timing is telling and what it tells is intentionality. The environment of the pandemic and the economic dislocation will be perfect for anyone who wants an ongoing emergency situation to maintain a mentality conducive to rushing through a bespoke-tailored Constitution for a ‘strongman’, with a preoccupied public and mobilisation for a NO vote at a referendum hampered by health regulations.

The drafting committee of the new Constitution consists largely of very able lawyers. However, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and J.R. Jayewardene were not simply lawyers; they were outstanding, world-class intellects, with encyclopaedic political learning and rich, protracted experience.

Replacing a Colvin Constitution with a JR Constitution was no travesty of standards, but demolishing the Jayewardene Constitution because it requires rectification is akin to hiring an ad-hoc group of reputed but hardly iconic architects and builders to destroy Geoffrey Bawa’s Parliament and design a new one.

This must be the only country in the world in which every political party that secures a super-majority in Parliament wants to promulgate a new Constitution and even those who do not win such a majority wish to do so. For a mature democracy we have an oddity of a political class which thinks that each election manifesto should be translated not just into law, which is fine, but into the country’s basic law.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today.’ »

Debate on 20th Constitutional Amendment Gets Underway In Parliament With Most Govt MP’s Speaking in Favour Despite Internal Differences Over Certain Provisions Inclusive of Clause Relating to Dual Citizenship

By Chandani Kirinde

The debate on the 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill got underway in Parliament yesterday with Government MPs speaking in defence of it while Opposition MPs called on fellow lawmakers to defeat the Bill when it is put to a vote today.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MPs led the protest against the Bill last morning arriving in a motorcade from the Opposition Leader’s office at Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo-7 to show their disapproval for the Bill. They wore armbands and masks with the sign ‘No to destructive 20A’ to protest against the amendment in the Parliament Chamber.

Despite signs of disagreement within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to certain provisions in the Bill, most Government MPs spoke in support of the Bill choosing to blame the Opposition for bringing the 19th Amendment (19A) in 2015 to secure the position of then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and turning the system of governance into a mess.

Continue reading ‘Debate on 20th Constitutional Amendment Gets Underway In Parliament With Most Govt MP’s Speaking in Favour Despite Internal Differences Over Certain Provisions Inclusive of Clause Relating to Dual Citizenship’ »

“Defeat the Attempt to hand over the Country’s administration to Dual Citizens against the people’s will “- National Movement for Social Justice Chair Karu Jayasuriya


(Text of a statement by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is the chair of the National Movement for Social Justice)

The attempt to reform the constitution to make it possible for those holding citizenship in other countries to make law and run the administration in Sri Lanka is deplorable. No person who is concerned about the security and well-being of the country can agree with such a decision.

It is a shameful effort to change the supreme law in the country to suit the whims and fancies of one person or a small group of them. Such disgraceful reforms are a disgrace to the intellect of the 21 million population of Sri Lanka.

National Movement for Social Justice holds this view having considered the statement by Minister of Justice, who held that the clause on the dual citizenship in the proposed 20th Amendment will not be amended at all.

Continue reading ‘“Defeat the Attempt to hand over the Country’s administration to Dual Citizens against the people’s will “- National Movement for Social Justice Chair Karu Jayasuriya’ »

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requests in writing the Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen now Being Quarantined in remand custody to attend Parliament today

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, yesterday (21), in writing, requested Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for SJB lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen, now in remand custody, to attend Parliament today (22).

This follows a party leaders’ meeting, chaired by the Speaker.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requests in writing the Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen now Being Quarantined in remand custody to attend Parliament today’ »

Contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet comes up for a two-day debate in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.


By Uditha Jayasinghe and Chandani Kirinde

The highly contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet on Monday comes up for a two-day debate from today onwards in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.

Ahead of the parliamentary debate, Cabinet approved three changes including maintaining the limits of Cabinet and Non-Cabinet Ministers as outlined in the 19th Amendment, limiting the scope of urgent bills and allowing State corporations to be audited by the Auditor General.

Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila told reporters at the weekly Cabinet briefing yesterday that the changes were made following extensive discussions at the Cabinet meeting held on Monday. He noted that the Cabinet also considered several submissions made by the clergy, coalition political parties and other organisations.

Continue reading ‘Contentious 20th Amendment with changes approved by Cabinet comes up for a two-day debate in Parliament amidst mounting criticism by the Opposition, certain sections of clergy, civil society and professionals.’ »

Rajapaksa Regime’s Frantic Urgency to Pass the 20th Amendment passed While the hapless nation is in the midst of a Pandemic resurgence is deleterious to government’s own health.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

It takes an extra dose of cavalierness to bulldoze through Parliament a Constitutional Amendment intended for personal aggrandizement while the rest of the country is perilously close to a second wave of the novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19.

More so, when the earlier assessments of the reach of the virus appear to be questionable and political rooting of success seem to be premature. Doctors warn of running out of hospital beds, even before any potential mass spread make its dent. (The 13 main hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients, had only 168 available capacity on October 15).

Yet, the government is forging ahead with the controversial 20th Amendment. It will be debated in Parliament for two days starting from tomorrow (21). The Supreme Court determination on the 20A will be read by the Speaker today. Earlier, the Sunday Times reported that the Supreme Court had held four-to-one, that four clauses of the Bill needed the approval of the people at a Referendum, while the rest can be approved by a special majority in Parliament.

The 20A was drafted in secrecy. Government’s spin doctors had argued that the public had elected the Rajapaksas to abolish the 19th Amendment, and implying as if they have the prerogative to replace it with anything of their likening. This is the Sri Lankan version of ‘One man, one vote, one time only.’

The 20A undermines the separation of power within the government and creates an imperial President at the expense of the legislator and independent institutions. It would have repercussion not limited to the tenure of the current administration, but for many generations to come.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Regime’s Frantic Urgency to Pass the 20th Amendment passed While the hapless nation is in the midst of a Pandemic resurgence is deleterious to government’s own health.’ »

Growing Intolerance Within Indian Film Industry, Mob Censorship and the Furore Over Cricket Legend Muralidaran’s Bio-pic “800”.

By P.K.Balachandran

The US$ 2.5 billion Indian film industry, which churns out more than a thousand movies a year and is watched by millions, is now facing an intense political heat it faced only once before, in 1975-77, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a State of Emergency to tackle an uncontrollable opposition agitation.

The industry has been coming under political pressure because of its tremendous reach and ability to shape people’s minds on a large scale. Competing political forces, unleashed by democracy, have targeted films and film makers to suppress inconvenient thoughts, ideas and opinions. They often decide a fate of a film, whether it will be released or not, and whether it’s content (and it’s stars) will remain as intended by the film maker.

As things stand, the film maker has no absolute right to choose the subject he wants and portray it as he wants. Neither can he leave the matter to the audience to judge. The audience too has lost it’s right to see the film it wants. With the State machinery and the judiciary also going by the dictates of these political forces (or mobs), the film maker’s autonomy and his constitutional right of free expression become fictional. Clearly, nobody believes in Abraham Lincoln’s dictum: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

Continue reading ‘Growing Intolerance Within Indian Film Industry, Mob Censorship and the Furore Over Cricket Legend Muralidaran’s Bio-pic “800”.’ »

TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran Submits Draft Private Members Bill to Enable Parliament to Declare a State of Public Emergency and set Up a Public Health Emergency Council


TNA Jaffna District MP M.A Sumanthiran yesterday handed over a Private Member’s Bill to the Secretary General of Parliament to provide for the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency and for the adoption of special measures in the interests of public health.

The draft bill contains a provision allowing Parliament to declare a State of Public Health Emergency through a resolution passed by two-thirds of members’ vote upon the written advice from the Director General of Health Services.

Continue reading ‘TNA Jaffna District Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran Submits Draft Private Members Bill to Enable Parliament to Declare a State of Public Emergency and set Up a Public Health Emergency Council’ »

Drug Trade Kingpin Makandure Madush Shot Dead in Police Custody at Maligawatte Apartment Complex After Being Taken There CCD Offcers to Identify Heroin Haul; Police Say Madush was “Caught in Crossfire” when Gangsters Tried to Free Him.

By Asiri Fernando

Suspected drug baron Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha, alias ‘Makandure Madush’ was shot dead yesterday morning. Madush is the latest in a long list of organised crime related suspects who have been killed while in custody, raising questions about custodial deaths in the country.

His death caused controversy yesterday, as a number of opposition members questioned the Government in Parliament regarding the suspect’s death while in custody of the Police. Former state minister for law enforcement and Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Nalin Bandara questioned as what will become of the investigation in to ‘Madush’s drug trafficking ring’ and the alleged politicians who had given him protection.

Continue reading ‘Drug Trade Kingpin Makandure Madush Shot Dead in Police Custody at Maligawatte Apartment Complex After Being Taken There CCD Offcers to Identify Heroin Haul; Police Say Madush was “Caught in Crossfire” when Gangsters Tried to Free Him.’ »

Makandure Madush was Killed to Prevent the Names of Politicians Involved in Drug Trafficking Being Revealed in Courts by the Underworld Drug Lord Alleges NPP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath

By

Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan PereraContinue reading ‘Makandure Madush was Killed to Prevent the Names of Politicians Involved in Drug Trafficking Being Revealed in Courts by the Underworld Drug Lord Alleges NPP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath’ »

Attorney-General Dappula de Livera Gives Police Detailed Information To Investigate Arrested MP Rishad Bathiudeen on Ten Matters Including Alleged Money Laundering Offences:A-G also wants Police to Probe all those who helped Rishad Evade Arrest and Conducted Press Conferences in Support


By Norman Palihawadane and Hiran Seneviratne

Police yesterday commenced a special operation to arrest those who had been aiding and abetting former minister and SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen to evade arrest, Police Media Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

Bathiudeen was remanded yesterday evening after being arrested in Dehiwala.

DIG Rohana said seven persons including a female doctor in whose house MP Bathiudeen had been hiding had been taken into custody. Her husband, a private tutor, had also been taken into custody, the DIG said.

Among other suspects was a foreign employment agent who had escorted the MP from one hiding place to another, the DIG said. The owner of the house from where the MP was arrested is still missing.

The female doctor and her husband were tenants in the apartment, where Bathiudeen was hiding.

“Some more persons are to be taken into custody,” the police spokesman said.

Continue reading ‘Attorney-General Dappula de Livera Gives Police Detailed Information To Investigate Arrested MP Rishad Bathiudeen on Ten Matters Including Alleged Money Laundering Offences:A-G also wants Police to Probe all those who helped Rishad Evade Arrest and Conducted Press Conferences in Support’ »

Govt to make several changes to the 20th Constitutional Amendment at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions.

By

Lahiru Pothmulla

The Government today reiterated that it would make several changes to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions,

Education Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said the President’s immunity was constricted by the 19th Amendment as it allowed citizens to file FR petitions through the Attorney General against the President.

This clause was proposed to be repealed by the 20A and Minister Peiris said the government would make an amendment allowing the citizens to file FR petitions against the President.

Continue reading ‘Govt to make several changes to the 20th Constitutional Amendment at the committee stage including an amendment to allow citizens to challenge the President’s action by filling Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions.’ »

Wanni District MP and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen Remanded Until October 27th by Colombo Fort Magistrate; CID also Arrests Seven persons for Allegedly aiding and Abetting “Wanted Person” Bathiudeen to Remain in Hiding

By Asiri Fernando

The Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday remanded former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party (ACMC) Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, until 27 October, following his arrest by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at a residence at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala.

The CID also arrested seven persons for aiding and abetting a wanted person, including a doctor and the owner of the Dehiwala house where the parliamentarian was arrested at. The seven suspects will be produced before Fort Magistrate, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohan said at a press conference yesterday. The police had arrested four suspects in relation to the investigation last week.

Continue reading ‘Wanni District MP and ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen Remanded Until October 27th by Colombo Fort Magistrate; CID also Arrests Seven persons for Allegedly aiding and Abetting “Wanted Person” Bathiudeen to Remain in Hiding’ »

All Ceylon Makkal Congress Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Arrested Early Morning by Police at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwela


Former Cabinet Minister and Wanni district MP Rishad Bathiudeen was arrested in Dehiwela by the Police in the early hours of Monday October 19th announced Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana.

According to Police sources the ex-minister who is also the leader of the all Ceylon Makkal Congress(ACMC) was arrested by a special Police team following an alleged tip -off received by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police.

Continue reading ‘All Ceylon Makkal Congress Leader and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen Arrested Early Morning by Police at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwela’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Govt is Determined to Ensure Smooth Passage of 20th Constitutional amendment by Parliament and Adopt it a Progressive Piece of Legislation

By

Norman Palihawadana

Expressing confidence of pushing through the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the government is determined to ensure its safe passage.

“Whatever opposition there may be from any quarter, we will duly present the constitutional amendment to Parliament and see to its adoption as a progressive piece of legislation”, the premier told The Sunday Island.

Asked about opposition to the 20A from some members within the government’s own ranks, Rajapaksa replied, “anybody has the complete freedom to express their views freely”.

“We will definitely see to the adoption of the 20A”, he underscored, while adding, “there is no doubt about that”.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa States Govt is Determined to Ensure Smooth Passage of 20th Constitutional amendment by Parliament and Adopt it a Progressive Piece of Legislation’ »

The ‘maha jathiya’ which triumphantly celebrated the victory of ‘their Sinhala Buddhist torchbearers’ now experience fear and isolation and face hard truths .


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Even as frightened and hapless garment workers slaving in the multitude of factories in the Gampaha District, the epicentre of Sri Lanka’s calamitous covid-19 spread, were herded into trucks and taken like cattle to ill equipped and unsanitary quarantine camps under the impatient watch of the military this week, deeply fundamental ironies are at play.

A stark contrast in fighting covid-19 then and now

Did those unhappy citizens asked themselves as to why this is happening in quite this way to themselves, as members of Sri Lanka’s ‘master race’ or ‘maha jathiya’ as that pernicious Sinhala translation goes? Gampaha was a flag bearer of the massive franchise that propelled the Rajapaksas, siblings, sons, nephews and assorted paltry hangers-on to power in this country in August, just a few months ago. Across these afflicted groups, a common refrain was, ‘we voted them in not to do this.’

Even with many protesting in respect of the treatment meted out to them, hundreds more waited in the scorching sun for their PCR tests. Daily wage earners in the lockdown areas meanwhile wailed that they had no money to buy even meagre supplies of food. In March, this Government and this Presidency controlled the initial spread of the covid-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka with all hands on deck so to speak, in the face of a looming General Election.

But this time around, no media showed obliging images of dry goods supplies being ferried into quarantined areas or eager supplicants praising their benefactors. Instead, intrusive television cameras hunted covid-19 victim much like the leopard fixating on its prey. It was a tragically illustrative case study of ‘before’ and ‘after.’ So as uncharitable as it may be, it is hard to rid oneself of the conclusion that the vigour and vitality with which covid-19 was combated initially had a lot to do with the favourable vote result that the Government was aiming for.

Continue reading ‘The ‘maha jathiya’ which triumphantly celebrated the victory of ‘their Sinhala Buddhist torchbearers’ now experience fear and isolation and face hard truths .’ »

It’s politically significant that the Sangha which were expected to rubber stamp the new political strategies of the Rajapaksa Government having supported them solidly at elections are now not unified in their opinion.

By

Gamini Weerakoon

Religion and politics have been a heady mix with the potential of creating vast empires, great civilisations, magnificent monuments and tinpot-dictators.
The history of empire building is too vast a subject for this columnist to take on and we will begin with the severance of this country from the British Empire with the dawn of Sri Lankan Independence.

British took over the Maritime Provinces from the Dutch in 1802, the entire island in 1815 and departed in 1948 leaving the three communities — the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils and Muslims — eyeing one another suspiciously. Whether it was through duplicity or good intentions, the British left after crafting a constitution — together with our leaders — stipulating that no religion or community could be accorded privileges not granted to other religions or communities.

This law, it was believed, could ensure communal and religious amity in the future.

But all such good intentions went up in flames with the ‘Revolution of 1956’, the reverberations of which are still with us. The 1956 ‘revolution’ was led by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike but he had little control of the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (EBP), the religious nationalist organisation whose leaders assassinated him in less than two years after the ‘revolution’.

Since 1956, religion — Sinhala- Buddhism— appears to be the main force in changes of regimes, either for good or bad — in Sri Lanka and continues to be so.

Continue reading ‘It’s politically significant that the Sangha which were expected to rubber stamp the new political strategies of the Rajapaksa Government having supported them solidly at elections are now not unified in their opinion.’ »

Regrettably the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has followed a policy that encouraged and supported the rulers in some instances when they have violated the Constitution.

By

Victor Ivan

The people are the real owners of sovereignty both in terms of the classical liberal opinion and the domestic and international law. In other words, State power lies with society and the rulers elected by the people are subject to the will and the control of the people. In this context, the 20th Amendment can be considered a constitutional adjustment that undermines and lets down the sovereignty of the people.

Most of the things that the President intends removing from the Constitution through the 20th Amendment can be described as instruments of the sovereignty of the people. A Court decision that gives approval and provides guidance for legislation of such constitutional amendments cannot be considered a correct or sound judgment of the Judiciary.

Judiciary of Sri Lanka

The ugly and unpleasant story of Sri Lanka that we constantly hear now would have been much different from what it is today, if, like in India, Sri Lanka had a Judiciary that considers the defence of the democratic constitution of the country as its primary responsibility.

If it had been so, a significant number of Indian plantation workers who were entitled to citizenship might have received citizenship rights under the Citizenship Ordinances of 1948 and 1949. Similarly, the Official Languages Act of 1956 might have been enacted in such a way that the Tamil people would not be deprived of their right to have reasonable use of their language.

If the Judiciary of Sri Lanka had possessed a far-reaching vision, it would certainly have prevented the deprivation of itself of the power of judicial review on the functioning of the Legislature and the Executive and ensured the independence of Civil Service despite approving the enactment of the 1972 Constitution which primarily aimed at severing the binding obligations of the country to the British crown.

Continue reading ‘Regrettably the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has followed a policy that encouraged and supported the rulers in some instances when they have violated the Constitution.’ »

Amnesty International urges Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charges


Amnesty International in a statement yesterday urged Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charge or any credible evidence being put before a court.

It said a notable Government critic, Hejaaz Hizbullah has been held at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters in Colombo since his arrest on 14 April, with restricted access to his lawyers, family and wife. Under the PTA, the authorities can detain any ‘suspect’ for up to 18 months, using detention orders lasting 90 days at a time. Hejaaz Hizbullah’s second period of detention expires on 17 October.

Continue reading ‘Amnesty International urges Sri Lankan authorities to release prominent human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been held in detention for more than six months under the country’s repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charges’ »

Would Sarath Weerasekara Have Been Allowed By Gotabaya and Mahinda to Attack Presidents Trump or Xi in the Way The State Minister Openly Attacked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi?


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Remember ‘A Country Free from Corona’? The crucial tourist sector must be hard hit by the second wave, as also the factories and supply chains. We are in a vortex of geographically spattered,

seemingly randomised corona-proliferation. The virus is a faster-spreading, more virulent variety, observed Dr. Sudath Samaraweera and Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara. (A veritable ‘Viyathvirus’?)

Instead of local authorities as the frontline for COVID-19 ‘second wave’ prevention, the regime’s been busy implementing “the Surakimu Sri Lanka security plan, [through which] details regarding family members are being collected throughout the country with the help of Grama Niladharis and Divisional Secretariats, to strengthen national security…” (https://ceylontoday.lk/news/security-strengthened-under-surakimu-sri-lanka).

I doubt Parliament deliberated on this quasi-totalitarian intrusiveness, but the erection of a Surveillance State had greater priority in early October than GMOA-recommended levels of testing adequate to pre-empt a second wave of the pandemic.

Why isn’t Dr. Ramesh Pathirana either the Minister of Health or the head of the anti-Corona Task Force? Why is Sri Lanka’s Army Commander, a very able officer, the only service chief in the world to be seated in a TV studio being interviewed on COVID-19 suppression—and wearing his new (PLA-pattern) service uniform too?

If the regime had been governed by rationality and the scientific outlook, there would have been scenario-planning with worst-case scenarios gamed-through, a comparative study of the top performers globally and of best practices, and an anti-Corona Task Force with the top medical bodies as axis. Instead, the Government was been high on its own supply of narcissistic nationalism and a personality cult of omniscient infallibility. The assumption was that the regime’s is axiomatically the finest performance and the most excellent global practice. The JVP’s public offer of help, with its disciplined volunteer health-workers, was ignored.

The President’s triumphalist claim to the UNGA, the daily hype by the local FOX News, and the YICAI rating out of Shanghai, gave the system and the public their cue. Given the nationalist echo chamber the regime insists we inhabit—a patriotic version of Plato’s Cave—the corporate sector followed suit. The whole of society were children following the Pied Piper of Hamlin. That a factory manufacturing anti-corona masks was a major disease-vector was an irony symbolic of the ethos.

Today, the citizenry and the economy are more defenceless than they need have been, due to wrong priorities in national decision-making and the mismatch of expertise plus experience on the one hand and authority and responsibility of the other.

In terms of crisis-management, the whole system, and system-society synergy, functioned better and Sri Lanka handled the tsunami catastrophe better under President CBK, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (the main ‘driver’ of the effort who also inducted the JVP with its volunteers) and Foreign Minister Kadirgamar.


Rationality and economics

What if Barack Obama focused on constitutional issues instead of managing the economic crisis of 2008? What if Mahathir Mohammed had done the same in 1997 during the Asian economic crisis? What if Franklin D. Roosevelt drove a sweeping constitutional re-set instead of the New Deal during the Great Depression?

Going by the World Bank and JPMorgan, Sri Lanka is headed into an unprecedentedly severe economic contraction. High on the government’s agenda though is the making of a new Constitution, just as its priority after the Parliamentary Election was the 20th Amendment, rather than pre-empting a COVID-19 resurgence.

The Executive Presidency was introduced by J.R. Jayewardene as engine of an economic revolution—the Open Economy. Today it is being fixed onto the economic model that JR Jayewardene overturned. The present administration is combining the worst elements of two predecessors while tossing out the positive aspects and adding a new negative.

The closed economic policy of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike administration, minus the superbly equidistant India-China balancing, is fused with the hypertrophied presidency of the Jayewardene era, minus the Open Economy. The innovative negative ‘add-on’ is administrative militarisation—which didn’t exactly turbocharge the Health Ministry’s corona-prevention effort.

Economic recovery and take-off presuppose economic rationality—which is a scarce commodity today. The regime’s economic philosophy is a reversion to an archaic, failed strategy of import-substitution industrialisation (ISI). Local purchasing power is too low, and in decline. The domestic market can in no way be a compensatory source of demand. Production for export will be hit by the second wave of COVID-19 and the Government’s ban on imports which dries up inputs.

When the world economy registers that we have imposed an extensive import ban, our external markets may start shrinking because the world economy and the global market don’t encourage one-way streets.

If as the JPMorgan report suggests, Sri Lanka will have to turn to the IMF for macro-economic stabilisation—never a happy prospect—by end-2021. It is unlikely to countenance an economic regime of the banning of imports. The IMF apart, international lending agencies are not in the habit of subsidising the outmoded doctrine of import-substitution. Over-reliance on China only paints a target on the regime’s back. The formula of ‘strongman’ leadership as the key to economic takeoff, comes up against the social sensitivities of Western markets. The more autocratically and ethnocentrically the regime behaves locally, the uglier its image becomes globally, and the more vulnerable we become to fall-off of consumer demand in the West and tourists from the West.

As we know from the 1980s, mismanaging our external and ethnic relations have always impacted disastrously on our economic prospects even when an administration has started out with an 8% growth rate. The incumbent administration is engaged in just such mismanagement of the external and the ethnic dimensions when the economy is doing badly (Vietnam’s growth-rate is 6.8%).

Confronting the neighbour

The attack was timed with military precision. On 8 October, the day that a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party (and a former Foreign Minister) arrived in Sri Lanka, a State Minister of the Government of Sri Lanka frontally criticised India and Prime Minister Modi in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

The Associated Press (AP) gave the politician a promotion in its rendition of the story, but captured the essence of what happened. The story was captioned ‘Sri Lankan Minister criticises India for power-sharing call’ and kicked-off thus:

“A Sri Lankan Minister said Thursday that India has no moral right to interfere in the country’s internal affairs by insisting on power sharing with minority Tamils because New Delhi failed to fulfil its obligations under a 1987 agreement to disarm separatist rebels and ensure an end to Sri Lanka’s civil war. Provincial Councils Minister Sarath Weerasekara’s comments in Parliament are seen as the island nation’s response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request last month to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for the full implementation of constitutional provisions for power sharing with Tamil minority regions…”

If the timing was a blunder, the PM or Foreign Minister should have clarified in Parliament that the State Minister’s view was his own. The President should have pulled him up. But the next day, 9 October, when the high-level talks with China were underway, the same State Minister followed up his anti-Indian attack with another, at a public event.

Weerasekara is a member of the ruling SLPP, of Viyathmaga and Eliya, and a close confidante of the President. The landmark Viyathmaga second convention at the Shangri-La Hotel in mid-2018 which showcased Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the presidential candidate, opened with the on-screen image, showing Gotabaya Rajapaksa with only one other person in the frame, leaning over the shoulder of the seated GR—and that was Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara (Retd.). He has been handpicked by the President to be in charge of the Provincial Councils, a subject which has stood for 35 years at the political interface of the Indo-Lanka relationship. His 8 October speech in Parliament warrants review.

Firstly, he went head-on for the Prime Minister of a neighbouring country and not just any neighbouring country. India is our closest neighbour and there is a colossal asymmetry of power between our two states. He lashed out at the Indian PM at a time in which there is no polemic between India and Sri Lanka; therefore, it was not in self-defence. Prime Minister Modi only reiterated what he had said many times before, and indeed, stopped short of reminding the regime that its present PM and President (as Secretary/Defence and ‘Troika’ member) had made the same promise to India during wartime.

With disrespectful testiness the State Minister said: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked our Prime Minister to implement the 13th Amendment although the amendment is an internal affair of this country. When foreign governments adversely commented on India’s abrogation of Article 370 from its Constitution, accusing India of scrapping the special status given to people in troubled Jammu and Kashmir region there, our prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa when asked to comment said that it was an internal matter of India. Knowing that the 13th Amendment is an internal matter of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Modi is asking for its implementation does not show the same reciprocation. Some interpret that PM Modi is asking so on the mandate of Indo-Lanka Accord. But the question is whether India has adhered to its own commitments specified in the Indo-Lanka Accord. The 13A is not even mentioned in the Accord. The Accord is something forced down on us by India.” (https://island.lk/pc-minister-weerasekera-opposes-full-implementation-of-13-a/).

Secondly, Weerasekara articulated the position that India has no right to request the implementation of the 13th Amendment.

“It should also be asked whether the agreement was signed under duress, or whether contents of the agreement compromised Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. When our forces were about to crush the LTTE and capture LTTE Leader Prabhakaran at Vadamarachchi, India violated our airspace and dropped food and medicine in Jaffna famously known as dhal dropping operation of India. Also, it mentions Trincomalee Harbor and Oil Tank Farm. The Sri Lankan courts have nullified the merger of the northern and eastern provinces which was one of the clauses of the Accord. So, there is a serious concern about the validity of the agreement and if it is not valid, India has no moral right to interfere in our internal affairs.” (Ibid)

Thirdly, he engages in a surreal judgment of Nehru and a grotesque denunciation of one of the most rational and socially progressive South Indian, Indian and perhaps even South Asian political figures—Periyar. He denounces Periyar’s agitation against the oppressive, Brahminic caste system—which the Buddha radically dissented from—as fascistic (“Nazi-style anti-Brahmanism”).

“…Let India be reminded that soon after its Independence there was a separatist movement by the Dravidians. EVR Periyar advocated Nazi style anti Brahmanism. That is why Jawaharlal Nehru broke India into 28 linguistic states…”

Periyar was influenced by his tours of the Soviet Union and was regarded as socialistic, if not Marxist-influenced. It is hardly surprising that Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism and casteism—or one may say, anti-anti-casteism—should go hand in hand.

Except in the imagination of Sri Lanka’s State Minister for Provincial Councils, Nehru did not “break” India “into” anything. India has not been “broken” into 28 states. The Nehruvian model of linguistic states is universally acclaimed as a success in keeping together large concentrations of diverse people, preventing actual break-up over a long period, which many countries have failed to do. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar hosted and addressed an international conference at the BMICH on “The Indian Model of Federalism” because he thought we should adapt (not adopt) it.

Eliminating devolution

Fourthly, Weerasekara made clear that he, who is placed in charge of the Provincial Councils, stood opposed to the Province as the unit of devolution—and so too did the regime. This is reflected in his use of the term “we”. He outlines what must be regarded as the position of the GR regime:

“Here, we talk about devolution of power with the province as the unit with provisions for mergering (sic) two provinces…So, Balkanisation of Sri Lanka into provincial governments through 13A will invariably affect the existing unity of India. The promoter will then become the victim…That is why the experts say power should never be devolved on the basis of ethnicity. The 13th Amendment provides for ethnic enclaves. We know the devolution of power as opposed to decentralisation and result in the division of our nation. …So, we do not believe in the devolution of power but of course in decentralisation up to the lowest levels. The Centre must retain the power. Our culture of governance was centred with the ruling king…” (Ibid)

On 9 October, with the high-level Chinese delegation meeting the President and the PM, Weerasekara criticised Prime Minister Modi at a televised public event, and made the utterly significant declaration that “devolution means the sharing of power. We must eliminate the term from our political vocabulary”.

Rejectionism’s blinkers

The State Minister for Provincial Councils reveals that the regime categorically rejects (a) the very idea of a negotiated political solution to the Tamil Question based on cross-district/provincial semi-autonomy, dating back to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact of 1957 and (b) the outcome and premises of Indian diplomatic engagement with Sri Lanka over the Tamil question for almost four decades. The ‘double rejectionism’ is total.

State Minister Weerasekara speaks in the plural, uses the terms “we” and “our”, both in and out of Parliament. Would this or any other State Minister attack President Trump or President Xi in the manner that Weerasekara attacked Prime Minister Modi and India? Would the President and PM have let him? Would the US or Chinese Embassy have remained totally silent?

Absent any disclaimer, one assumes Weerasekara has a greenlight to articulate the paradigmatic perspective of the Gotabaya presidency. The perspective has a huge strategic blind-spot:

I. Sri Lanka is no longer simply on the doorstep of the regional sub-superpower; it is now located on the doorstep of a member of ‘The Quad’, a quasi-military strategic alliance covering the Indo-Pacific vastness, with implications for the global balance.

II. Delhi may not run the risk of sowing the seeds of long-run disaffection in its strategically vital Southern cone, Tamil Nadu, by being perceived as abandoning the Sri Lankan Tamils to their fate at the hands of hawkish Sinhala supremacism.

III. Delhi may not risk being perceived by friends and rivals alike, as permitting the unilateral redefinition of the content of a bilateral accord by a neighbouring small state whose power-elite has turned it into a dependency/political stronghold of China.

IV. Delhi is hardly likely to risk being perceived not only in its traditional sphere of influence the neighbourhood, but also among its Quad partners, the larger Indo-Pacific region, and most especially in Beijing, as a ‘Paper Tiger’.

V. Colombo’s imaginary Godfather in the 1980s, President Reagan—and in the current regime’s imagination, probably President Xi—sent his special envoy Gen. Vernon Walters with a message for President Jayewardene: “settle it with India”. No rising Great Power can enable Colombo to bypass or ignore axiomatic geostrategic reality.

Courtesy:Daily FT

Ex-Cabinet Minister and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s Lawyers File Writ in Court Of Appeal Seeking Prevention of his Arrest by Police

Lawyers of MP Rishad Bathiudeen has filed a writ application at the Court of Appeal seeking an order to prevent his arrest.

The Attorney General had directed the Police to arrest and produce him in court for Criminal Misappropriation of Public Funds and Violation of Election Laws in 2019.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Cabinet Minister and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s Lawyers File Writ in Court Of Appeal Seeking Prevention of his Arrest by Police’ »

Six Teams Deployed by Police To Arrest Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen Unable to Locate Him:CID Obtains Travel Ban Against ACMC Leader: Wanni District MP’s Accountant, Ex-Body Guard and Two Drivers Arrested:Two Vehicles Seized.


By Asiri Fernando

The Fort Magistrate yesterday issued a travel ban on former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, following a request made by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

According to Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, the Police have deployed six teams to track down Rishad Bathiudeen and had visited three properties belonging to the former Minister in Colombo and Mannar but had failed to locate him as of last evening.

Continue reading ‘Six Teams Deployed by Police To Arrest Former Cabinet Minister Rishad Bathiudeen Unable to Locate Him:CID Obtains Travel Ban Against ACMC Leader: Wanni District MP’s Accountant, Ex-Body Guard and Two Drivers Arrested:Two Vehicles Seized.’ »