The writing is on the wall. The Country is on a slippery slope to Hara Kiri.

December 24th, 2015

ST​OCK MARKET ( NOT ATTRACTIVE ANYMORE TO FOREIGN & LOCAL INVESTORS)
QUANTITATIVEVE EASING ( HEADING TOWARDS A DEBASED CURRENCY)
WAGE RISE  UNAFFORFDABLE ( GREEK SCENARIO)

The writing is on the wall. The Country is on a slippery slope to Hara Kiri.

Like the Roman Emperor Diocletian  who debased the country’s money and sent prices racing up, by producing extra copper coins to pay the salaries of state workers and soldiers. Sri Lanka’s central bank is now printing billions of rupees of pay a 10,000 rupee salary hike to state workers and enforce rate cuts

“Price controls are a slippery slope. Where will the line be drawn?  According to Anushka Wijesinha, Chief Economist at Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce –

“Price controls are not a sustainable strategy for a competitive market-oriented economy.”

Yahapalanaya Hoppers

yahapalanayahopper

The hoppers of the ‘Yahapalanaya’ or ‘Good Governance’ regime are now smaller than the hoppers sold during the Rajapaksa administration.

The hoppers are now smaller and thinner with some partly burnt, while the softer bump in the middle is also smaller or absent altogether. Some hopper makers have stopped giving lunu miris (a salad made of onions and chili) with hoppers.

The most dangerous results of price controls, which cannot be followed in practice to keep people supplied are that they make previously law-abiding citizens lose respect for the law turning into ‘black marketers’, encouraging a lawless society.

After 30+ years of Death Destruction and Despair the Country entered a period of Capitalization to pay dividends for the future Generations to benefit by  embarking on mega Infrastructure projects an absolute necessity if Sri-Lanka hopes to attract Foreign and Local investors to establish Commercial Enterprises that will provide employment to the people. If unemployment soars to record levels and the feel good factor fades away the youth of the country in their desperation will resort to ugly means for their daily bread.

$ 600M WB loan hits snags

Ceylon Finance Today: The outcome of Sri Lanka’s budgetary support /policy aid discussions with the World Bank may get delayed due to some bureaucratic issues, Treasury Secretary Dr.R.H.S. Samaratunga told Ceylon FT yesterday.
“Our year end budget deficit is well over the target than expected. It is mainly due to fulfilment of the present government’s 100 days programme promises,” he said.

$ 600M WB loan hits snags

By Ishara Gamage
Ceylon Finance Today: The outcome of Sri Lanka’s budgetary support /policy aid discussions with the World Bank may get delayed due to some bureaucratic issues, Treasury Secretary Dr.R.H.S. Samaratunga told Ceylon FT yesterday.
“Our year end budget deficit is well over the target than expected. It is mainly due to fulfilment of the present government’s 100 days programme promises,” he said.
Samaratunga said that final budget deficit figure can be disclosed after Christmas. Speaking to the “Ceylon FT”, Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) governor Arjuna Mahendran earlier said that Sri Lanka can seek a US$ 600 million World Bank (WB) budgetary support programme which is currently being finalized by the Finance Ministry and the WB.
“Our external resource department currently is having very fruitful discussions with the WB, but the final outcome may get delayed due to some bureaucratic issues concerning both parties,” Samaratunga said. He however didn’t disclose what this bureaucratic entanglement was, nor the amount…sought for by the government.

Instead, Samaratunga said that Sri Lanka can seek a further US$ one to two billion additional WB funding as low cost development assistance.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake recently told a forum in Colombo that the budget deficit will be around 6.8 % of GDP for this year, higher than the budgeted 4.4 %.

Introductory Speech by Amila Wijesinghe from the University of Nottingham at the seminar on The Future of the Death Penalty in Sri Lanka at the Organisation of Professional Associations.

December 24th, 2015

Amila Wijesinghe – LLB (Hons)

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished speakers and guests.

We are here today to discuss the future of the death penalty in Sri Lanka. This is something that is of great relevance to this country, as an issue that has been a matter of significant contention within our society’s history. Quite often, events which gain national prominence due to their exceptionally tragic and gruesome nature, can have a drastic impact on public perceptions towards the death penalty. We have seen this to be true in Sri Lanka where recent events have brought the issue of capital punishment to the forefront of public debate, and this is one of the reasons why we are here today. Ours is a country that has de facto gotten rid of the death penalty – we haven’t had an execution since the 1970’s, however what we’ll consider today is whether we should implement the penalty of death which still remains in our statutes, or move towards true abolition de jure (by law). We have with us today some very qualified and distinguished speakers who will be able to share with us some of their views. These speakers come from a broad cross-section of society and we will have the opportunity to hear their different perspectives on this issue based on their experiences. I will try and make some brief notes on the context in which this debate is set.

Right to Life

A common consideration of many when discussing the issue of capital punishment, is whether a state has the authority to end a person’s life when there is a broad global consensus that every individual has a Right to life that must be safeguarded by the state to the best of its abilities. Some people even call the death penalty ‘State-sponsored murder’. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Sri Lanka is party to), recognises that ‘every human being has the inherent right to life’. However, it also goes on to state that ‘in countries that have not abolished the death penalty, (the) sentence of death may be imposed’ for the most serious crimes. I think this is a recognition that the right to life is not necessarily absolute. In fact there are many circumstances where an individual’s right to life is qualified due to his actions. For instance, a mass-shooter who has a gun and starts shooting is a threat to the public and their fundamental rights and he therefore forfeits his right to life as the state can then legitimately kill him through the police.  An interesting aspect of international law is that whilst the right to life can be limited in certain circumstances, the prohibition on torture is absolute. This has attained the highest authority in international law of jus cogens, which means it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances. In other words, a state can’t torture you, but it can kill you – sometimes. This is something worth bearing in mind for the discussion on the death penalty, as one point raised by many abolitionists is the view that the implementation of the death penalty constitutes torture (or cruel and degrading treatment) due to the extended legal proceedings and uncertainty of outcome, resulting in severe physical and mental pain. It is however, a matter of debate, whether this should apply to lawful sanctions such as the death penalty, where it is an inherent aspect of the punishment itself.

Retributive vs Rehabilitative Justice

Another important consideration is the legal and moral perception of justice as a retributive or rehabilitative mechanism. Is the purpose of our penal system to make a person suffer for the crime he has committed and perhaps provide the family of a victim of murder some closure – or is it based upon reforming the individual during his punishment and reintegrating him into society. Most systems can be considered a mix of the two. People see the law as providing punishment that is proportionate to a crime committed and its value as a deterrent, but we also recognise the right to be pardoned or receive parole based on conduct. We want an individual to pay for his crime, however it’s not usually an eye for an eye. We do not believe that someone who has committed assault should be beaten up equally as punishment. We don’t believe that a rapist should be punished by sexually assaulting him. So in this sense, capital punishment can be seen as unique when a man is executed for committing murder.  Public perceptions towards the role of the law and penal system can vary between the societies of different countries and we cannot for example cut and paste the approaches of the western liberal countries. Asian and African states tend to take a stronger view towards the death penalty as a just punishment for the worst criminals. We therefore must strive to accommodate and implement our own principles. However, as we’ve already seen, certain crimes that are exceptionally gruesome which receive wide media coverage can cause a significant shift in public opinion towards capital punishment. There is a tendency to focus on those that are guilty whilst overlooking the fundamental safeguards that must be protected to ensure the interests of the innocent. The problem with public opinion is that it can be quite fickle, and it’s a difficult thing to base a legal system solely on. This is precisely why forums such as this are of such importance as they facilitate public debate and understanding on the issue and I’m sure our expert speakers will provide us with some invaluable insight.

Alternatives and International Examples

As the theme of our discussion today is the future of the death penalty in Sri Lanka, I think it is extremely pertinent for us to consider the alternatives available and the experiences of other countries that have moved away from capital punishment whilst retaining public confidence in their legal systems. Any alternative to the punishment of a serious criminal offense, must be socially, morally and economically viable – and quite importantly, especially in Sri Lanka, it must satisfy the retributive demands of the public who must be confident that the criminals are being punished.

One example is the United States, which actually abolished the death penalty between 1972 and 1976. After the death penalty was reinstated following the case of Gregg v. Georgia in 1976, many states increasingly turned towards the alternative of Life imprisonment without parole. This would be indicative of a shift in attitudes towards the penal system, where the objective is not to change or improve the criminal, but to punish him. It is about retribution. This makes it much easier for the public to feel that there is a just punishment when there is no option for a dangerous criminal to be released from prison after a few years. The use of LWOP has been adopted by other countries such as England and Wales, the Netherlands, Kenya and Turkey. Some countries like Vietnam, will consider amnesty after a minimum of 20-30 years.

In the United Kingdom, there is a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for the crime of murder. At the time of sentencing, the court will impose a tariff, which is the minimum amount of years that must be served in prison, so that the need for punishment is met, only after which a prisoner can be considered for release.

Conclusion

In Sri Lanka, we have to realise that there is a thing called penal populism, where there is a relationship between politics and policy. The politicians of the country have to be able to reassure the public that they are guaranteeing retribution and deterrence for the most serious of crimes and this is the context of the issue in our country.

That concludes my brief notes on the issue, I thank you for listening and I look forward to hearing from our eminent panel who will continue this discussion at a very important time when our government is deliberating on a new constitution.

Amila Wijesinghe – LLB (Hons), Postgraduate student of the LLM Public International Law (University of Nottingham)

 

LIKE FATHER LIKE DAUGHTER: THUGGERY AT ITS PEAK; YOUTH WAS KIDNAPPED IN MP HIRUNIKA’S DEFENDER AT BROAD DAY LIGHT AND ASSAULTED – CCTV

December 24th, 2015

Courtesy Hiru News

The police have launched an investigation to find out whether Parliamentarian (MP) Hirunika Premachandra is involved in the incident where a youth was abducted in broad day light in Dematagoda and assaulted. The defender in connection with the abduction incident has already been confirmed to be belonging to parliamentarian (MP)Hirunika Premachandra. The abducted person is stating that those who abducted him were parliamentarian (MP) Hirunika Premachandra’s body guards.

 

A 34 year old resident of Gothatuwa area named Amila Priyanga Amarasinghe who was employed at a drapery store in Dematagoda was abducted (21) at around 2.30pm by a group who arrived in the said defender. The incident has been recorded in the CCTV camera fixed at the drapery store as well. An employee serving at the drapery store stated to HIRU News that the persons who entered the store carried out the abduction.

An employee who was an eye witness……..

Two persons came in to the store…..a tall person and a lean person came and asked whether he was Amila….. When he replied stating yes..They took the phone and escorted him out……..afterwards pulled and assaulted him and put him in the jeep and left.”

The abducted person stated to HIRU News that the said persons abducted him from Dematagoda and took him to parliamentarian (MP) Hirunika Premachandra’s office situated at Kolonnawa.

The abducted Amila Priyanga Amarasinghe describing the incident…………..

” They pulled me and went…assaulted on the head…punched me in the stomach…. It was later that I got to know that they were Hirunika’s body guards since I also live in Kolonnawa….altogether there were eight of them….they told me that I will be locked up with a packet of cocaine….they took me away from there…..to Hirunika’s office….situated near the Kolonnawa UC……Took me by dragging and put me inside….. Hirunika was there seated in a chair….she got up and came …and asked whether this was him….. She seated herself on the table and said that I have the power to abduct anyone where ever they may be…..I am a lawyer… I know what to do ….tell whatever you want to the police…..and stated that she will do whatever she wants…..”

The Colombo Crime Division (CID) has arrested yesterday (22) afternoon six persons who were suspected to have carried out the abduction.

 The police media spokesman stated that the suspects will be subjected to an identification parade after being produced to the Fort magistrate court.  While Parliamentarian (MP) Hirunika Premachandra was also present with them.

HIRU News queried further on this incident from the police media spokesman Assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Ruwan Gunasekara.

He stated that it has been confirmed that the defender vehicle belonged to the parliamentarian. And the media spokesman further stated that investigations in connection with the incident are still being carried out.

The area residents are puzzled as to why innocent people are subjected to thuggery by the henchmen of parliamentarians who are sheltered under the good governance.

Look below for CCTV Footage

’11 budgets without amendments in a row’ -Ronnie de Mel

December 24th, 2015

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Ronnie de Mel earned the reputation of having held the post of the Minister of Finance for 17 years under the UNP government which was elected in 1977. He was first elected as MP for Devinuwara in 1967 under the SLFP ticket. It was thought the best time to interview Ronnie de Mel was now as the presentation of the 2016 Budget and its adoption was just completed.

Q As the minister of finance of this country how many budgets were prepared by you?

From 1977 up to 1988 as the minister of finance and planning. During that period, I presented the budget on eleven occasions, and I am the first finance minister to have done it.

QHaving achieved such an yeoman task in preparing 11 budgets, how many of your budgets had to be amended before their adoption.

After the budgets were presented, there was no occasion when amendments were made to them.

QThe budget is revealed after it is presented in Parliament. Some say that budgets are prepared in secret. Is there any truth in it?

I do not know how it is prepared now but during our time there was nothing like that. We started  preparing the budget from January of each year though it is presented in November. The Finance Ministry continues this task for ten months. There is a separate section in the ministry for that. There was a director general for the budget and specially selected staff for the job to work under him. In January, I used to have joint discussions as the minister in charge with the secretaries and other senior officers. They were basic talks where the nature of the proposed budget was identified. This was followed by another discussion with the permanent secretary, the director of the budget unit and other permanent secretaries of ministries. At this meeting the amount of budgetary allocations that would be made available to each ministry was disclosed together with the details of projects the ministries would handle in the coming year and their proposals. Then all these permanent secretaries were summoned in March, by which time most of the budget proposals had been planned. These discussions continued for several months afterwards.

QSome secretaries of ministries may put forward proposals that may not be possible to implement?

We declined those that could not be done.

QHow did you involve Late President J.R. Jayawardene into budget preparations?

He was the only finance minister to have become the president of the country. And he was the only leader who knew about the Finance Ministry and financial issues. Dudley also knew a little. Mrs Bandaranaike, Chandrika Kumarathunga lacked any knowledge of it and Mahinda Rajapaksa did not know anything. As J.R had been the first finance minister, I was able to discuss with him any matters related to the budget. No sooner the basic proposals were decided upon I had a one- to- one discussion with J.R, when I submitted the allocations proposed for the various projects and obtained his advice.

QSome say that you used to meet J.R once or twice every week and discussed the budget.

Yes, once the proposals were ready in June I continued to have discussions with him. He visited me at my residence very often and had dinner with me and the topic of discussions at the dinner table too related to the budget. He had a vast knowledge of world affairs and was always on the alert of situations in countries like India or the USA and what impact those situations would have on our country.

QAt the time you were the finance minister and Mr. Premadasa was the prime minister didn’t he request for finances for housing, and projects like Gam Udawa by-passing his permanent secretary?

I had issues with Premadasa frequently and there were disagreements

Q What were the issues?

Were they connected to insufficient financial allocations? Whatever the allocations that were made, they were insufficient for him. We made allocations from the budget but his programme of providing homes for the homeless evoked issues on financial allocations.

Qwhat were those issues?

At that time when the budget was prepared, we sought help from international donors. If we provided Rs.50 million from our own resources, we could obtain Rs. 50 million as aid from these donors. To get aid I had to go before the World Bank, the IMF and to other donor countries. We also had to speak to foreign media and get them to publish the programmes envisaged by us for the development of the country. We also had to meet ministers, prime ministers and presidents of some of these countries and seek aid for projects in the pipe line. All this aid, sought after would get approval only if they were production driven and investment oriented. They were not willing to give assistance for Premadasa’s  housing projects. I could not convince him on this issue and consequently it led misunderstandings between us. He was under the impression that I helped Lalith and Gamini and allocated more funds to them. I wanted to understand the real situation.

QSo you had to accompany Mr Premadasa to the World Bank in order to prove your thinking?

Yes. I told him that if he thought that I was not helping his ministry, that we should go to the World Bank and obtain clarification. Premadasa was  happy with the suggestion, and J.R. approved our visit. It had been the practice that I go alone or with only two ministry officials when ever I proceeded on this type of mission. Premadasa was accompanied by about four or five officials who carried several books, files and documents with them. At that time Robert McNamara was the chief at the World Bank. He had been a one-time defense minister in the American Cabinet. He happened to be a proud man and meeting the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was nothing new to him. I felt that McNamara at the outset did not condone the presence of a large delegation accompanying Premadasa.

QIs it true that McNamara interrupted Premadasa’s lengthy speech and gave him a short reply?

If someone comes with a large delegation he is considered as a person who cannot present facts on his own. So McNamara quipped “Mr. Prime Minister what have you got to say”? Premadasa had enough stuff to talk for even five days. He called for various reports, files and other documents from his entourage of officials, who walked in and out of the meeting. This took about twenty minutes and McNamara’s patience was running out. Finally, he said, “Mr Prime Minister tell me plainly why you have come here”? Premadasa replied,” I have launched a massive project of providing houses for the homeless and the funds provided by the World Bank was quite insufficient.” McNamara’s reply was very short, he said, “We will consider, whether we could give more and inform you accordingly.” Later it became clear to everyone that aid was not given for housing projects but for investments and industries.

QWas Mr Premadasa convinced after that?

No, the dispute continued. Funds more than that allocated for the Mahaveli given to him as his aim was to help the poor. I also believed in that principle as I also came forward by helping the poor.

QIs it true that both Gamini and Lalith complained to J.R. on this matter?

Yes, naturally when Lalith was looking after trade and Gamini looking after Mahaveli they too needed financial assistance, and they felt more funds were being diverted to housing. There were other ministers too who complained about the allocations for their projects.

QIn the event of a budget defeat the government has to go home?

Yes, it has its origin in Britain. That is why the preparation of the budget takes such a long time and  presidents and the prime ministers spend much time in evaluating it.

QYou raised your objections to the 1983 Referendum and had to leave the government?

Yes, I was asked by J.R. to withdraw my comments on the Referendum, which I did not, and resigned to function as an independent member.

QDuring the implementation of the report of the Land Reform Commission under Mrs Bandaranaike, how much of your lands were acquired by the government?

Five thousand 5000 acres of my lands were acquired. Later I got back 50 acres, and my children got 50 acres each.

– See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/100559/eleven-budgets-without-amendments-in-a-row#sthash.Ky3uWwJ2.dpuf

CBEU accuses govt. of weakening state banks to privatise them

December 24th, 2015

by Dasun Edirisinghe Courtesy Island

Bank employees yesterday alleged that the government was working according to a plan to privatise the state banks. General Secretary of the All Ceylon Bank Employees Union (ACBEU) Gamini Rathnasiri said 18 points in the budget were inimical to the banking sector but they had not been amended.

Rathnasiri said the government’s decision to withdraw accounts of government institutions from the state banks and remove pawning business from them posed a very serious threat to them.

article_image

The state banks accounted for two thirds of the pawning business and they served the people living in remote areas which the private banks did not cater to.

State banks would go belly up soon due to the policies of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, the trade unionist said, noting that its next step would be to privatise those institutions in keeping with a secret plan which could not be implemented earlier as part of the then UNP-led UNF government’s Regaining Sri Lanka programme (2001-2004).

Rathnasiri said that the trade unions had decided to mobilise the customers of state banks in their efforts to save those institutions.

We will launch a programme to inform customers of the ill-effects of the budget proposals on them,” he said, adding that they had already informed their decision to other bank trade unions, including Lanka Bank Employees Union as they were the major trade union of the banking sector.

Rathnasiri accused some trade unions in their alliance of having betrayed them by joining hands with the government during the Dec. 15 strike. However, he said the strikers had succeeded in paralysing the banking services on that day in spite of efforts by the government and its trade unions lackeys to sabotage the workers’ struggle.

බැංකුවක් කැඩුවෙමි

December 24th, 2015

වෛද් රුවන් එම් ජයතුංග 

මෙය පාපෝච්චාරණයක් නොවේ. එහෙත් මම සත්‍ය නොවලහා ප්‍රකාශ කල යුතුය​.මම සිටියේ ඉතා දුෂ්කර තත්වයකය​. එම නිසා මට වෙනත් විකල්පයක් නොවීය​. මම බැංකුව  කැඩුවෙමි. බැංකුවක් කැඩීම බරපතළ වරදකි.බැංකුවක් කඩා වසර දහයකට සිපිරිගෙට ගිය අයෙකු ගැන මා දනිමි. මම බැංකුව කැඩුවේ මාගේ පුද්ගලික අවශ්‍යාතාවක් සපුරා ගන්නට නොවේ. එහෙත් එය එසේ සාදාරනීකරණය කළ හැකිදැයි මම නොදනිමි.

මේ කතාව අසා ඔබට මා වරදකරුවෙක්ද යන්න නිගමනය කල හැක​. මෙම සිද්ධිය අතීතයේ වූ සිදුවීමක් නිසා මම පොලිසියට බිය නොවෙමි.  මට නීති මගින් ක්‍රියා කිරීමට ඇති හැකියාවද අවමය. නමුත් මම සත්‍ය පවසමි. බැංකුව කැඩුවේ මාය​. ඒ මගේ අතින් සිදු වූ ප්‍රථම සහ අවසාන බැංකු කැඩීමයි.

Robbank

වේලාව අළුයම තුනට පමණ විය​. මුළු නගරයම සුවසේ නිදයි. අඳුර නිසා කිසිවෙකු දකින්නට නැත​. මගේ සහායකයා විදුළි පන් දමක් අල්ලාගෙන සිටියි. එම එළියෙන් මට බැංකුවේ දොරට දමා තිබෙන යකඩ ඉබ්බා පෙනෙයි. මම අතේ තිබූ යකඩයෙන්  ඉබ්බාට වේගවත් පහරක් දුන්නෙමි. රාත්‍රී නිහඞතාව බිඳ ගෙන විශාල ශබ්දයක් උත්පාදනය විය​. ආරක්‍ෂක නිලධාරීන් පෙනෙනෙ තෙක් මානයක නැත​. ඔවුන් නිදාගෙන හෝ නැතහොත් තම නිවෙස් වලට ගොස් තිබෙනවා විය හැකිය​. කිසිවෙකු පැමිනියේ නැත​. එම නිසා මට මානසික ඒකාග්‍රතාව තබා ගැනීමට හැකි විය​.

මම යළිත් වරක් ඉබ්බාට වැරයේ පහර දුන්නෙමි. යලිත් වරක් අර දෝංකාර නාදය ආවේය​. පෙනෙන තෙක් මානයක කිසිවෙකු දකින්නට නැත​. මුළු මාතලේ නගරයම තද නින්දක ගැලී සිටියි. එම නිසා මම වැරයේ තවත් පහරවල් නොකඩවා එල්ල කලෙමි. අවසානයේදී ඉබ්බා කැඩී ගියේය​. මම සෙමෙන් සෙමෙන් බැංකුවේ දොර ඇරියෙමි.  මම බැංකුවේ බිත්තියක තිබූ ස්විචය ක්‍රියාත්මක කොට විදුළි බුබුල දැල්වූයෙමි. බැංකුව ආලෝකමත් විය​.

මම බැංකුව පීරා මට අවශ්‍ය දේ සෙව්වෙමි. අවසානයේදී එය මට සමු විය​. ඉතා අනර්ඝ ඕ නෙගටිව් රුධිර ෆ්ලැකෝනය මා ඉදිරියේ විය මම එය අතට ගත්තෙමි.  රුධිර ෆ්ලැකෝනය අතට ගත් මා එක එල්ලයේම ශල්‍යාගාරයට දිව ගියේ අසාධ්‍ය රෝගියාට රුධිර පාරවිලනය කිරීමටයි. මගේ වෑයම නිසා රෝගියාගේ දිවි ගැලවුනේය​.

( 1994 වසරේ මාතලේ රෝහලේ ලේ බැංකුව භාර නිලධාරියා ලේ බැංකුවේ යතුර අමතක වීමක් නිසා ගෙදර ගෙන යන ලදි. රාත්‍රියේ රෝගියෙකුට රුධිරය අවශ්‍ය වූ අතර ලේ බැංකුවේ යතුර නොමැති නිසා ලේ බැංකුවේ දොර කඩා අවශ්‍ය රුධිර වර්ගය ලබා ගන්නා ලෙසට දිස්ත්‍රික් වෛද්‍ය නිලධාරියා මට උපදෙස් දුන්නේය​)

 

Lucky shirkers

December 24th, 2015

Editorial – Island

Some people have all the luck in this country. They are the politicians who live off the fat of the land at the expense of the public. MPs are paid salaries to attend Parliament. It defies comprehension why they should be given anything extra for being present in the House. As if that were not enough their attendance allowance is to be increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 20,000 per sitting, we are told. Parliament usually sits eight days a month and the government is planning to have sittings on ten days.

MPs are notorious for skipping parliamentary sittings. There have been instances where even those billed to open debates on crucial issues kept away. They come, they sign and they vanish like municipal labourers. Eight days are more than enough for parliamentarians to discuss anything of national importance, provided they make the best use of proceedings without hurling abuse and resorting to fisticuffs.

Sittings are, more often than not, inquorate. So, the question is what the MPs are going to do on the two additional days. Do they need any more time for wrestling, boxing, self-immolation attempts and other such activities?

The proponents of an enhanced sitting allowance argue that it will incentivise the MPs to attend Parliament. It is like hurling a huge chunk of umbalakada (‘Maldive fish)’ at a thieving cat running away with a piece of meat, as a local saying goes. The solution is not to throw money at the problem; party leaders ought to take disciplinary action against the MPs who shirk their responsibilities.

This newspaper reported a few weeks ago that an MP could obtain a duty free vehicle permit even if he or she resigned within hours of being sworn in. The government has proposed to scrap the non-contributory pension scheme for public employees to be recruited. But, politicians who complete five years as MPs, doing precious little, are entitled to pensions. A veteran trade unionist has urged the government to abolish the pension scheme for MPs before proposing to deprive state employees of their pension rights.

Government politicians go into spiels about their pecuniary difficulties when the educated youth in universities demand an increase in the Mahapola stipend. But, they are never short of funds to feather the nests of parliamentarians most of whom have not even passed the GCE O/L examination.

A parent who lectures to his or her children on the value of education runs the risk of being questioned whether one should study at all in a country where one need not have educational qualifications to become even the head of state. Children ask tough questions! They may also want to know why anyone should ever bother to study hard when the opportunities are available for school dropouts to do anything illegal with impunity, amass enough wealth, spend part of it on election bribes for the poor, get elected, secure a ministerial post and have even highly educated top professionals groveling before them.

The government has also offered to increase MPs’ staff from three to 18 each. Why should public funds be wasted in this manner? There is a pressing need for downsizing both the Cabinet and Parliament. When the number of MPs was increased to 225, there were no Provincial Councils. Today, there are about 400 provincial councillors in addition to 45 ministers in the nine provinces. Therefore, the number of parliamentarians should be drastically reduced.

Perks and privileges enjoyed by MPs continue to attract the scum of the earth to Parliament. The best way to discourage such elements from taking to politics is to bring parliamentarians down a peg or two. Instead, successive governments have made politics attractive to criminals and nitwits.

Et tu, Sirisena?

December 24th, 2015

Dr. Kingsley A. de Alwis Courtesy Island

Recent news reports say that President Sirisena is to present a motion to convert the Parliament into a Constituent Assembly on January 9, 2016. This is indeed a stab in the back of the people who, under the leadership of civil society, voted him into power one year before on that very date. Et tu Sirisena?

It will simply mean that we could end up with a constitution of the politicians, by the politicians, for the benefit of politicians. Considering the quality of the MPs in Parliament, we will have to expect the worst. The Constitution is the highest law of the land.

Can it be left to a bunch of people among whom are those of proven dishonesty and criminal backgrounds, not to mention low IQ?

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The process of constitution-making is as critical as the substance of the Constitution. If the people are not consulted, and have no input into making the Constitution, they will have no ownership or acceptance of the resulting laws. It may be laying the foundation for anarchy, because people can have no respect for a constitution which they had no say in framing. To be accepted by the general body politic, the Constitution should be based on public consultations with civil society, including professional organizations, trade unions, the business community, religious bodies, academia, and ordinary citizens too.

The other essential requirement for framing a sound constitution acceptable to all is that enough time should be given to these organizations and ordinary citizens to make their contributions, and subsequently to give their comments on a draft constitution, once it is ready. Constitution making should not be a hurried process in which the views and aspirations of any significant group of people are ridden over roughshod. It would be a recipe for future disaster.

It would be wise to get the administrative and logistical assistance of the UN in the process of constitution making, in getting its expert advice on the actual drafting of the Constitution, and also in setting up mechanisms of public consultation at various stages of the process. The UN has recently helped a number of countries in constitution-making. These include Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Nepal and Timor-Leste. We could benefit from the lessons learned from its experience in constitution making processes in these countries.

I appeal to the President not to allow self-seeking power-hungry politicians in Parliament to foist a faulty constitution on this country, thereby letting down the same civil society that brought him into power last January.

Dr. Kingsley A. de Alwis

Hirunika’s Anti-heroism

December 24th, 2015

Ceylon Today Editorial Courtesy Ceylon Today

The ghost of Christmas past and present crossed paths this week as a 26-year-old youth was kidnapped by the security guards of an MP, while the case of the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda resurfaced in the news – the former reminiscent of the one of the scare tactics of the previous regime.
Former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday (22) visited the Army personnel arrested for the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda as intelligence services continue to be grilled over the journalist’s disappearance. At the same time, as a prominent politico from the Yahapalanaya regime, Hirunika Premachandra, was accused of kidnapping a 26-year-old youth over a personal matter. In a media briefing called by Premachandra, she justified her motives for the kidnapping as bona fide action to ‘avoid a family from breaking up’. She said that her staff member’s wife was having an affair with the young man and thus they had kidnapped him and asked him to discontinue the affair.
A rather skewed rationale for a kidnapping but nevertheless it shows that while the government preaches of law and order to the general public, especially when it comes to protests from university students, it has trouble getting its own MPs to follow the rule of law. Premachandra’s story is no different from that of any Indian film or even that of the film The Godfather where the overarching leader of the gang or Mafia of the local area seeks to show his or her benevolence amongst the local populace by taking the law into their own hands. The ruthless but just hero/heroine would release the man caught of a crime soon after he is taught a lesson and his or her followers would be eternally grateful and loyal to the services rendered. In reality however, no politician or local leader should be above the law. He or she cannot step in to ‘balance the scales’ whatever the perceived injustice. Whilst the previous regime overlooked law and order in order to achieve its own ends, it seems that those in the Yahapalanaya regime are acting no differently.
As protests mount in Colombo over the 2016 Budget and general lack of action by the government, the one thing that the government has emphasized is that ‘the white van’ days were long gone and that the people now can live without fear of the ‘white van’. Premachandra’s action this week however clearly shows that while the colour of the van might have changed, the motives clearly have not.
Given such instances, one wonders whether a year of the Yahapalanaya government has truly been successful in instilling change amongst the people; especially when it cannot even change the mindsets of its own proponents. Do we still risk being kidnapped or beaten up if we ever happen to get on the wrong side of a politico?
These incidents however reflect on the wider issue of freedom in our society. The freedom to express one’s opinion in the Ekneligoda case or even the freedoms to have a consensual romantic affair without having a politician kidnap you for it. Freedom is not simply guaranteed to the people because it happens to be enshrined in the Constitution; rather the minds of the people themselves need to be free to accommodate more than one diverse view point. It is only then that we can guarantee the freedom of expression. If not history is bound to repeat itself every time someone acts in a manner, a person does not agree with.
The President on Tuesday (22) announced that by January next year he would call for Parliament to be turned into a Constitutional Council in order to embark on a process of designing a new Constitution. The Resolution presented in Parliament with regard to it stated:
“It has become necessary to enact a new Constitution that, inter alia, abolishes the Executive Presidency, ensures a fair and representative Electoral System which eliminates preferential voting, strengthens the democratic rights of all citizens, provides a Constitutional Resolution of the national issue, promotes national reconciliation, establishes a political culture that respects the rule of law, guarantees to the People’s fundamental rights and freedom that assure human dignity and promotes responsible and accountable government”.
Given the recent behaviour of the politicians even within the government however, it seems that the lofty ideals above would simply be limited to paper.
It is however commendable on the part of the Police for having arrested the six men in the Defender who work for MP Premachandra this time around. In the meantime, we would like to ask MP Premachandra to leave let old habits die and leave conflict resolution to those most suited to deal with it.

 OPEN LETTER TO MADAM CHANDRIKA .B. KUMARATUNGA.  CHAIRPERSON, COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATUONS.

December 24th, 2015

Daya Hettiarachchi Toronto Canada

National Unity and Re conciliations

RE your recent statement on the above topic  I  am sure the entire country would welcome your proposal ,the way I do, to teach “National Unity and Reconciliation” as a classroom subject. Any effective effort to eradicate mutual distrust among the communities and thus “national building” is highly commendable.

Please be courteous to consider the following observations.

The proposed classroom teaching is only for the conflict resolution caused by the after effects of the war. Source materials for research will be in short supply being limited to the history of Sri Lanka and some of it may not help the reconciliation efforts.  Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi -religious   and multi -cultural society, and the national policy of education must reflect this reality.

THEREFORE A BETTER  ALTERNATIVE WOULD BE TO HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS (HR) AS A PART OF THE SCHOOL CARRICULUM  WITH DUE PRIORITY AND EMPHASIZE ON NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATIONS CONCERNS. This can be achieved through the practice of principles of HR, as conflicts do stem from disregarding rights of other(s).

Kindergarten children may be introduced to civic mindedness, social values and tolerant behavior and progressively upgraded by inclusion of positive examples of peaceful coexistence of other countries, culminating in university graduate studies on principles of all major religions and UN declaration on Human Rights.

This effort will no doubt be   globally and universally acknowledged and praised.

Daya Hettiarachchi

The internal clashes in Maithri-Ranil Yahapalana Government Ravi’s fate hangs in the balance

December 24th, 2015

BY Gagani Weerakoon Courtesy Ceylon Today

The internal clashes in Maithri-Ranil Yahapalana Government has reached a point where it has put the fate of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake hangs in the balance with several senior Cabinet colleagues openly criticizing him. In addition, it proved that every effort taken by Karunanayake to pacify his party colleagues have backfired adding salt to the wounded relationship between him and Premier Wickremesinghe.
This column last week reported the clash between Ministers Kabir Hashim and Ravi Karunanayake leading to a Cabinet reshuffle.
This political saga started unfolding after the new government was elected following the 17 August general election.
Clash deepens
Following elections, a committee led by Wickremesinghe was appointed to decide on the boards of directors and heads of institutions. Thus Wickremesinghe issued a directive to all directors and chairmen to resign from their respective posts paving the way for nominees of the committee to be appointed.
However, there were no changes suggested for institutions headed by reputed people like Hemaka Amarasuriya, but suggested new members to the board of directors in each institution.
Even though others took this order seriously, it seemed those who were appointed by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake were deaf and blind to the order despite several reminders from the top. These institutions included the People’s Bank, Litro Gas Company, Hotel Hilton, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Hotel Taprobane.
As the chairmen and board of directors in these institutions which were under the Finance Ministry during 100-Day Programme remained in their positions firmly without any hesitance, everyone began to pay attention to the matter. These constant underground investigations by government hierarchies and interested parties were able to finally find a clue.
It seems that these officials had received strong legal advice telling them there is no reason to be afraid as the law is such that any change of positions should come bearing the signature of the Treasury Secretary.
Despite mounting pressure for those holding office to resign, Treasury Secretary Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga remained silent as he was pressurized by Minister Karunanayake not to take any action.
As this tug-o-war continued, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who had reached the limits of patience submitted a Cabinet paper proposing powers of appointing chairpersons and the boards of directors to the Minister and the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development.
President Sirisena, referred the Cabinet paper to the Attorney General as there are legal provisions that the matter should be placed before Parliament before making any changes.
Secretary to the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development, Ravindra Hewavitarana, met the Treasury Secretary to discuss how they could settle the matter at their level by appointing the new members.
The Treasury Secretary had in return informed Hewavitarana to send the list of nominees and that he would give his decision after studying the list. After seeing these reports, it was learnt, that Minister Karunanayake had approached his Secretary to verify facts. Upon learning of having such a meeting taking place, Karunanayake once again gave strict instructions not to change any position holder.
However, by the 16 December Cabinet meeting, Attorney General had sent his observations. He had informed the Prime Minister that according to the law it was the Prime Minister that was entrusted with powers to issue the Gazette notification approving the list of boards of directors and chairpersons to public institutions since the first Cabinet of D.S. Senanayake in 1948.
This practice had changed since 1978, with the induction of the Executive President as the Head of State. It is the President who has powers to issue a Gazette notification with the recommendations of the line minister.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had proposed to bring in new laws by amending the current Act. His proposal to introduce a new clause where each minister and his secretary will be allowed to decide on nominating people to top seats in the respective ministries was approved by all Cabinet Ministers. However, the Gazette notification will be issued after both the President and the Prime Minister had signed. This move was taken keeping in mind that the government would abolish the Executive Presidency.
With Cabinet giving green light to this proposal, everyone is watching as to what will happen to those appointed by Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
Ranil puts Ravi in place
On the other hand, it seems Karunanayake is magnetic to problems these days as he once again came under the anger of his leader Wickremesinghe during a Cabinet meeting.
Karunanayake had convened a meeting of UNP MPs at his residence and promised a handsome package to compensate for the cancellation of duty free vehicle permit.
However, several MPs were concerned about the practicality of this plan and it was Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Gayantha Karunatileka, who voiced his concerns to the Cabinet.
When Gayantha asked as to what the progress on giving car permits to MPs was Karunanayake said the decision to stop the permits remain intact, but the Finance Ministry has come up with a plan to compensate MPs.
“We have decided to give a Rs 25 million car loan for each MP. We will also arrange a package where MPs will get a monthly allowance of Rs 150,000 and another allowance to their office staff that amounts to about Rs 400,000 in total,” Ravi explained.
This explanation not only surprised the Premier, but completely angered him as he was completely kept in the dark about this financial plan.
“How are you going to give all these things? It is with great difficulty that I stopped recent general strike. We must build the economy first. If MPs were given vehicle permits people will storm Parliament. We must first address the burning issues of the public,” as Wickremesinghe continued to reprimand Karunanayake saying so, the latter explained that he arrived at the decision after discussing it with party leaders.
Karunanayake’s explanation only made things worse as Wickremesinghe retorted “I say I am the Leader of this party and the government. You better do what I say and not the other way around.”
President Sirisena who realized things were getting out of control quickly decided to end the Cabinet meeting. After that, even though Karunanayake was seen trying to explain matters to Wickremesinghe the latter left the premise giving a cold shoulder to Karunanayake.
Ranil’s retirement plans
The UNP Working Committee which used to make headlines in the past met last Thursday (17) at the party headquarters, Sirikotha. As it was a day of budget debate several WC members had not attended the meeting.
An unusual statement made by Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on his retirement plans had taken everyone by surprise.
He had pointed out the need of having second and third generation leaders in the party, while declaring that he has no desire to be the leader eternally as he is old now.
“I am old now. We must build a strong second and third layer leadership in the party. On the other hand, it is difficult for me to concentrate on party affairs in full while running the government. We must also start planning for our 70th Party Convention in February 2016,” he said.
He also appointed a committee comprising Prof. Ashu Marasinghe and Kavinda Jayawardena to attend to public matters from Sirikotha.
It is also expected that the UNP Leader will name four persons who will take the party ahead.
However, the attention of many of those who were at the meeting was diverted from Wickremesinghe to someone else. As the outburst of Wickremesinghe has already reached all corners in the political arena, everyone was expecting a counter attack from Karunanayake at the Working Committee.
Karunanayake on the other hand was blind to all those inquisitive eyes and remained glued to his mobile phone from the beginning to the end of the meeting.
Namal shut out by president
President Maithripala Sirisena met several ministers who came to Parliament though the SLFP National List, prior to his visit to the Vatican and the core topic was reforms to be introduced to the party. The President initiating the discussion said, he will be presenting the motion to abolish Executive Presidency in Parliament on 9 January 2016.
“I came into power promising the people that I will take measures to abolish the Executive Presidency. I will keep my word and will move the motion to abolish this curse by the name of Executive Presidency on 9 January,” he said.
While he was talking about abolishing the Executive Presidency, another minister asked him as to how they should go ahead with first year anniversary celebration on his induction to the office of the President.
They were of the opinion that these celebrations should be held in an elegant and fitting manner. Accordingly a committee headed by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva was appointed to look into the preparations.
According to a suggestion by another minister it was agreed to appoint two or three members of the Rajapaksa allies to the committee as well.
While one suggested the name of MP Bandula Gunawardena, Minister Dilan Perera suggested that MP Namal Rajapksa also be included in the committee.
President Sirisena who remained composed quickly moved to shoot down this suggestion.
“Do not put Namal for any committee at this time,” he said.
Mahinda-Dilan clash
SLFP ministers made sure not to mention about young Rajapaksa after that and instead spoke about reforms.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe while noting that the party still lacks preparations for the upcoming Local Government polls suggested that they should start party reforms from the electoral base as well as grass root level.
While nodding in agreement with Samarasinghe President Sirisena also promised that he will come to each electorate to address the people.
Meanwhile, Minister Dilan Perera raising another issue said,the police FCID only displays President Sirisena’s portrait at the entrance, but does not have a one of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
As everyone seemed to be bemused by his remark Perera explained that it could be a conspiracy to tarnish the image of the President.
“This could be a conspiracy to project that FCID as the work of you and the Prime Minister. After all, it is mostly our party members that are summoned to the FCID for questioning. They must be thinking it was you who’s behind these,” he said.
However, this was quashed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who termed it as a completely absurd idea.
“When I assumed duties at the Ministry of Vocational Training we also tried to put a portrait of the Prime Minister along with the President’s. But the office of Prime Minister informed us not to, as the Premier does not like it,” he said.
Following this, a heated argument erupted between Mahinda and Dilan.
Civil movement disappointed
President Sirisena’s declaration about abolishing the Executive Presidency came in the wake of another meeting he and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had with Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya, who has now replaced the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, as the convener of the National Movement for a Just Society.
While, the meeting was mainly to discuss on celebrating induction of President Siirsena on 9 January and the third month death commemoration and alms giving of Ven. Sobhitha Thera, Prof. Wijesuriya had not forgotten to voice the displeasure of the civil society movement about the way government was functioning.
Though it was not held as an official meeting, Prof. Wijesuriya had expressed strong opposition to Prime Miniser Wickremesinghe for not taking action against those who were corrupt and deviating from establishing good governance.
JVP to counter yahapalanaya
While the government is planning to celebrate the dawning of the so-called change on 8 January, one of the main political parties who were responsible for bringing President Sirisena to power Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna is planning a massive agitation campaign.
Accordingly, they will launch a massive public protest demonstration and a street march on 8 January 2016, which marks the first year of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government.
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake will spearhead mobilizing all its trade unions throughout the country alongside many other civil society organizations for this protest demonstration.
“The people are rallying in large numbers against this government and we are confident that our protest and the march will be a success. It is through such exercises that we will be able to pressure this government into toeing the line of the masses and not otherwise,” he said.
He also pointed out that the so-called national government had assumed power having robbed the peoples’ votes through bogus promises. He cited workers in the state, private, plantation and many other sectors being deceived, as examples.
Dissanayake said that the people were feeling the pinch very badly due to the government’s economic policies leading to escalating prices of essentials, politicization of the process of providing jobs for the youth and the imposition of unjust taxes on the wage earner.
Major revelation by AKD
Last Monday, while participating in the political talk show ‘Salakuna’ of Hiru TV, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was seen attacking JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake single handedly.
He even went to the extent of revealing matters discussed at the National Executive Committee which was in effect during the 100-day yahapalana government and revealed certain remarks allegedly made by Dissanayake.
Wijeyadasa who did not have anyone to counter his lambast was behaving like a bull in china shop but many predict, will be in hot water once Anura opens his mouth tomorrow.
The JVP Leader who phoned the TV channel was promised same airtime to defend himself. The programme is to be telecast tomorrow (21) and Dissanayake is all set not only to defend himself but to reveal earthshattering secrets about what happened at the National Executive Committee that also concern President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
Maithri’s horoscope doing rounds
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in the midst of a small gathering at Abhayarama Temple, Narahenpita, where he talked about ongoing investigations about him and his family members.
This did not take much time to reach the ears of President Maithripala Sirisena. He was discussing what he got to know with SLFP Ministers when they met before he left for Rome.
“Mahinda had said that he can negotiate anything with Ranil but it is because of ‘Siriya’ that he cannot get anything done. He was not talking about anyone else. I am the Siriya he was referring to,” he explained to those who were confused as to who this ‘Siriya’ is.
President also said that some people are going to various astrologers with his horoscope to see what lies in the future.
“Mahinda has said that according to my horoscope I will be in power for two more years only and after that they could gain power. What they are indirectly saying is that I will die in two years. They are going round the country saying that I will last only for two more years,” he said.
When the President said that, another minister revealed that the news about his horoscope first came in a website run by MP Wimal Weerawansa.
“That appeared in a news website run by Wimal Weerawansa quoting that blind astrologer,” he said making President Sirisena to divulge another secret.
“I know about that. Ever since that rumour started circulating, Indika Thotawatte is calling me every day asking for an appointment with me. He keeps on insisting that he never said such a thing and in fact it is wrong. He was even willing to come on any TV or Radio channel to deny what was being circulated. I told him I will meet him after returning from Italy,” President Sirisena said, while also adding that he cannot believe how much some people have become slaves of astrology.

President Changes Budget again

December 24th, 2015

By Dilanke Gunathilake  and Jaliya Seneviratne Courtesy Ceylon Today

President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to retain the hitherto imposed import tax of 5 per cent on imported electric vehicles, rejecting the 50 per cent tax proposed in Budget 2016.

This decision was taken at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting which was reportedly skipped by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. A number of UNP Ministers, including Malik Samarawickrama and Sagala Rathnayake, however agreed with the President’s suggestion conceding that increasing the tax on electric vehicles was a mistake.

President Sirisena has said that although he is the Minister of Environment, he was not consulted when the decision to increase the tax was taken.
The government has decided not to subject vehicles imported on Letters of Credit opened prior to the presentation of Budget 2016, to new taxes proposed in the budget.
This decision was taken after President Sirisena tabled a proposal at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting to this effect. Minister of Higher Education, Lakshman Kirielle said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had also mooted the same idea.

Putin for PM: 4 out of 5 say they would prefer Russian president than Cameron as UK leader

December 23rd, 2015

By TOM BATCHELOR Courtesy The Daily Express

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has beaten David Cameron to be crowned the most popular choice for the next prime minster of the United Kingdom.

The ex-KGB strongman attracted the support of four out of five Express.co.uk readers, compared with just one in five who opted for the current PM running the country.

Asked ‘Who would you rather was Britain’s prime minister?’, 78 per cent chose the Russian president, while 22 per cent voted for Mr Cameron.

The poll of 1,000 people follows an Express.co.uk survey on Putin’s airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, which found more than 70 per cent of readers supported the bombing raids.

Putin’s popularity has soared in recent months, with a Russian poll carried out in October putting his approval rating at 87 per cent.

In the same month, Mr Cameron’s approval rating continued to nosedive with 49 per cent judging him to be doing a bad job.

Putin’s popularity in Russia has remained consistently high in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and airstrikes in Syria.

But despite the definitive Express polling, the Russian leader continues to divide opinions in Britain.

Vladimir Putin tending to his horseGETTY

Vladimir Putin tending to his horse

David Cameron has emerged victorious from two general electionsGETTY

David Cameron has emerged victorious from two general elections

The coming constitution: A ‘SYSTEM CRIME’

December 23rd, 2015

By Dr Dayan Jayatilleka Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Three speeches last week revealed our future. Each concerned an aspect of this island’s fate.Together they show the whole. The Prime Minister announced that the country will have a new political system next year. That change has to be understood within a geopolitical and geo-strategic context signalled in two speeches, by an Indian Minister and a senior US official.

“India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari informed Lokh Sabha yesterday that India will construct a bridge and tunnel linking Rameswaram in India with Sri Lanka…The project was also discussed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his counterpart during the latter’s recent visit, Gadkari said”. (The Hindu, Dec 17, 2015)

 Senior US official Thomas Shannon revealed in his Kadirgamar Institute lecture, the factor animating Washington’s Lanka policy: “To put it simply, stability and prosperity of the entire world is dependent on the stability of these vital energy and trade routes.  And Sri Lanka is at the centre of this.”

The 2016 Constitution must be located at this intersection of Indo-US perspectives. It envisages the most drastic disruption of the Sri Lankan State formation arguably since 1833. The rupture would change the very type of State, implanting a new political matrix. We are being constitutionally reshaped to be integrated as a ‘chip’ into the Indo-US grand strategic matrix.

The PM’s Sujatha Jayawardena Memorial Oration contains the blueprint:
1.    “…work within the structure of the 13th Amendment to the 1977 Constitution a unitary structure with further devolution of powers…The…task is to identify the additional powers to be devolved to the Provincial Councils…”

2.    “…subjects and functions once devolved to the Provincial Councils should not revert to the Central Government even when Parliament legislates on national policies in regard to devolved subjects…”

3.    “the future emphasis on devolution should be on the exercise of executive powers by the Provincial Ministers…enlarged executive power can be devolved to the Provincial Councils…[through] the apportionment of Executive Power between the Cabinet of Ministers and the Provincial Boards of Ministers”.
4.    “…the Austrian system of devolution…would be a useful model”.

(http://www.dailymirror.lk/99287/ranil-let-s-promote-consensus#sthash.h6AeOlhx.dpuf)

Having stated that “The emerging consensus is to work within the structure of the 13th Amendment “the PM admits later in his speech that” the apportionment of Executive Power between the Cabinet of Ministers and the Provincial Boards of Ministers” marks “a radical departure from the 13th Amendment”. How can one “work within” something (13A) and make a “radical departure” from it at the same time?

There can be “further devolution of powers”, i.e. “additional powers devolved to the provincial councils”, but this cannot be done “within a unitary structure” because the Supreme Court narrowly ruled in 1987 that the 13th amendment barely remained within the unitary structure, and that too because of the Executive Presidency which exercised executive power through the Provincial Governor. Any “further devolution of powers” would destroy the unitary structure.
Devolution means certain powers are transferred outwards/downwards by Parliament, which retains the right to retrieve such powers in exceptional situations, without which Parliament would not be sovereign.The PM’s description of the change he hopes to implement as well as the model he explicitly evokes, aren’t unitary. The PM’s model of devolution, Austria, is an explicitly, unambiguously FEDERAL State.

The 13th Amendment already has a concurrent list of powers shared between the centre and the provinces, in addition to powers which are the exclusive preserve of one or the other. The PM’s plan would make most powers either concurrent (shared) or devolved to the provinces, while powers enjoyed exclusively by the national legislature, representing the people of the country as a whole, will be few. If the powers wielded by the national Parliament are restricted to Defence, Foreign Affairs and Finance, that is a federal model.

What if the provincial legislature passes laws on subjects which the national Parliament too legislates on, but in the opposite direction from and in contradiction to the national Parliament? In the PM’s vision, the powers of that Provincial assembly will not be repealed.

However, badly the Northern or Eastern Province behaves (e.g. towards the Sinhala minority in Trincomalee and Ampara) its powers cannot be revoked by the national government under the new constitution. Our North is 19 miles from a huge landmass with 70-80 million co-ethnics, whose Chief Minister Jayalalitha handed an official note to Prime Minister Modi calling for support for Tamil Eelam. Soon it would be connected by a bridge, road and tunnel to Tamil Nadu, allegedly with our PM’s concurrence.

With the island constitutionally carved like a cake into self-governing segments, Sinhala national consciousness will atomize and disintegrate. Simultaneously the Constitution will facilitate and empower Tamil consciousness which is not merely provincial but sub-regional (Tamil Nadu) and global (South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore Diaspora). The new model would aggregate the North and East and pan-Tamilianism, while disaggregating the South and the Sinhalese.
Economic independence for provinces,shrinkage of the role of central government and neo-liberal privatization will impoverish some and enrich others,under-developing the largely rural Sinhala majority provinces. While they will be unable to compete, Western and Indian patronage and Tamil Nadu and Diaspora capital will flood the North and East.

The coming Constitution’s underlying logic is not national reconciliation,since deliberately deepened provincialism/regionalism will surely doom any Lankan consciousness.The real logic is (I) rewire and reprogram Sinhala consciousness so we can never win another war (II) ‘divide and rule’ the majority through hardcore provincialism (III) weaken the national state through multi-polarity. This will dismantle state barriers to Western and Indian politico-economic penetration, ownership and control.

Just as the Portuguese invaders’ fortress in Kotte was about to be overrun by Sitawaka Rajasinghe’s men when the rivalry between the Kotte and Kandyan kingdoms put paid to the siege, the new self-ruling provinces will be manipulable and pitted against each other by external powers, preventing unified national action.

Converting to the perennially pro-Western, pro-Indian doctrine of the Federal Party, the regime has crucified the island on the Indo-US axis. Tamil nationalism is logically pro-Western and pro-Indian because the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu are stakeholders in those societies — just as the West and India tilt to the Tamils for that reason.The national majority, including the national bourgeoisie,enjoys no such leverage. This regime strategically de-linked from China’s counter-power which enabled us to win the war and rebuild as a modern country. It is the agenda of the Tamil bourgeoisie including the Diaspora capitalists, reflecting its interests, which pilots or guides the new regime. The regime serves the interests not of the organic national majority but of the minority elites with dense cross-border, transnational affiliations, networks and loyalties.

Under-secretary Shannon’s statement shows that the West wants us for where we are. It wants the regime to midwife a Tamil Kurdistan to serve as permanent proxy. The client regime aims to deliver that by changing who we are, destroying the memory of who we were and robbing us of what we won. Suckered by Western flattery, the client regime would produce a client Constitution to create a client State and citizenry.

The Wickremesinghe-Kumaratunga Constitution would murder the unitary State. The ‘national’ would be reduced to the mere arithmetical aggregate of self-ruling provinces. The Constitution will bear closest resemblance to the ideas and programme of SJV Chelvanayakam, founder-leader of the Federal Party. When the Austrian-model constitution and the Special Courts for “war crimes” are unveiled in 2016, it is he, the father of federalism, Tamil national self-determination and Tamil Eelam, who will have proved the ultimate victor. It is his ‘virtual’ statue that would stand in front of the new constitutional, political and legal order erected upon the rubble of the monuments of our national leaders. It is this coming Constitution that is a “system crime”. – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/100563/the-coming-constitution-a-system-crime#sthash.lWrHykOl.dpuf

Decline of US as global hegemon and changing world power ties

December 23rd, 2015

Courtesy Island

The much nervously anticipated US Federal Reserve interest rate rise is now upon the world and it is expected to have an unsettling impact on the economic fortunes of the emerging economies in particular. Sections in Sri Lanka are reassuring themselves that there would be no immediate adverse impact for the local economy from this rate change but time could prove the opposite. Indeed, all foreign commercial borrowings and loans will eventually prove costly and to that extent, almost all the economies of the world would be affected negatively by the US interest rate hike. And Sri Lanka is likely to feel the pinch too because foreign borrowings will remain a mainstay of its economy.

What the above proves is the continuing ‘power’ of the US dollar. That is, developments in the international economy would continue to be shaped in the main in the foreseeable future by the vibrancy or otherwise of the US economy. In fact, even as this is being written, a rebound in the US economy, following some years recession, is affecting the economic well being of all the main economies of the world, including that of China. The fact that is staring us in the face is that a resurgence of the US economy is having a ripple effect all over the world, regardless of how US power is viewed by the latter.
article_image

(L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a plenary session on early November 24, 2013 in Geneva. (AFP Photo)

That said, the position cannot be challenged that US hegemonic influence worldwide is on the decline. It has waned in proportion to which the influence and power of other international players have increased over the past twenty years. The US-centred unipolarity of the distribution of international political, economic and military power, which was a strong feature of the world which emerged from the Cold War decades, is giving way to a multipolar international power structure where China, Russia, India and Iran, to name a few states, would have considerable influence.

But we are still some years away from an international order in which the US in particular and the West in general would be eclipsed by the newer predominant powers just mentioned. It is not coming any time soon although US power would be challenged almost every step of the way to a vastly changed world power distribution system. For the foreseeable future, US power will remain an important factor to contend with. If this were not so, the US dollar would not be continuing to prove its decisive weight in the international monetary sustem, for instance.

These considerations reaffirm the advisability of countries such as Sri Lanka conducting cordial relations with the US and the West. As a very small player on the world stage, Sri Lanka has no choice but to be on the best of terms with the powers that currently have a decisive say in the conduct of international relations. Accordingly, it needs to be on amicable terms with the US, China, Russia, India and all the countries that matter, in economic, political and military terms. In other words, Sri Lanka will be serving its vital interests by being truly Non-aligned.

From 2005, until the advent of the Maithripala Sirisena administration early this year, Sri Lanka seemed to conveniently ignore these home truths. The basic consideration that the bulk of our exports continues to go to the US and the West, regardless of other factors, should have convinced the former Mahinda Rajapaksa regime of the advisability of maintaining cordial ties with the West. Apparently, the Mahinda regime lacked the thinking capacity on these matters. May be, his many ‘advisors’ were tongue-tied by apprehension and nervousness over losing their positions as a result of speaking the truth. But the truth must prevail and ‘public servants’ must adhere to this principle or give up their positions.

However, it is abundantly clear that the US cannot expect to go unchallenged in the political, economic and military spheres in this changing international environment. Even with regard to international economics, its growth is second to Asia, growing at some 2.2 percent while Asia has recorded 6.25 percent. The foremost Western financial institutions, such as, the World Bank and the IMF are being challenged by the predominantly Chinese-funded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS-founded New Investment Bank, to name just two institutions of this kind. Thus, is US economic hegemony being confronted by emerging economies and combines of such countries.

On the international political and military fronts, the situation is no better for the US and the West. The current Russian military involvement in Syria and its clear show of support for the Bashar Al-assad regime, underscore the fact that Russia aims to be on par with the West in the Syrian military quagmire. Whether anything of a positive nature would emerge for Russia and the embattled Al-assad regime from such military initiatives, may not be quite to the point. The fact is that Russia is not intending to play second fiddle to the West in the Middle East. Earlier, Russia flexed its muscle in the Crimea, in a show of defiance of Western opnion.

But it is all too clear that Western military power is on the wane even outside the Middle East. For example, Iraq and Afghanistan have been virtually left to their own devices. The government of Afghanistan, for instance, seems to be in an uphill and extremely bloody struggle against the Taliban to keep its power. In both theatres of conflict, the West seems to have made mere face-saving withdrawals. It would be interesting to see the UN Security Council’s future course of action with regard to Afghanistan. As matters stand, Afghanistan and Iraq seem to have been ‘left in the lurch’ by the West.

Accordingly, Western military and political predominance is fast becoming a thing of the past, although the West would continue to wield decisive weight in the affairs of the world. However, it is important to point out that world power relations are in a fluid state with anything like a clearly describable international power hierarchy not presenting itself to the political observer. What is certain is that we cannot swear by the ‘old certainties’ in international politics.

The Birth of the Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya ( BJB ) in 1962

December 23rd, 2015

Senaka Weeraratna

In his autobiography ‘ Bhava Thanha ‘ A.T. Ariyaratne gives a fairly good description of the origins and birth of the 

Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya under the leadership of L.H. Mettananda.

The pages 290 – 316 extracted from his book and reproduced as an attachment (and pdf document in the weblink below) are of historical value as they contain vital information on a Buddhist movement i.e. BJB, which played a critical role in the affairs of the nation from 1962 – 1965. 

Social historians should take note of this description. I too though young of age ( 14 years ) witnessed much of these events in the company of my father Dharmasena Weeraratna, whom A.T. Ariyaratne describes on page 298 as follows:

” Mr. Dharmasena Weeraratna, a businessman, was another untiring warrior in our movement” i.e. Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya. 

http://www.lhmettananda.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Buddhist-National-Movement.pdf

This web link was found in a highly resourceful web site dedicated to L.H. Mettananda.

L.H. Mettananda – A Noble Patriot

http://www.lhmettananda.com/

Senaka Weeraratna

‘මේ මිනිස්‌සුන්ට කරදර කළොත් උඹව උස්‌සනවා’ හිරුණිකා තර්ජනය කළා දෙමටගොඩදී පැහැර ගත් තරුණයා පොලිසියට පවසයි

December 23rd, 2015

හේමන්ත රන්දුණු උපුටා ගැන්ම දිවයින

“උඹ මේ මිනිස්‌සුන්ට කරදර කළොත් ලංකාවෙ කොහේ හිටියත් මම උඹව උස්‌සනවා. දැන ගනින් මම නීතිsඥවරියක්‌” යෑයි කියමින් පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රිනී හිරුණිකා ප්‍රේමචන්ද්‍ර මහත්මිය තමන්ට තර්ජනය කළ බව දෙමටගොඩදී පැහැර ගැනීමට ලක්‌වූ අමිල ප්‍රසංග අමරසිංහ මහතා පොලිසියට ප්‍රකාශයක්‌ ලබාදෙමින් කියා සිටියේය.

කොළඹ දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රිනි හිරුණිකා ප්‍රේමචන්ද්‍ර මහත්මියට අයත් ඩිෙµන්ඩර් රථයකින් ගිය ඇගේ ආරක්‍ෂක නිලධාරින් යෑයි කියා ගන්නා පිරිසක්‌ මෙම තරුණයා පැහැර ගනු ලැබුවේ ඉකුත් 21 වැනිදා සවස 2.15 ට පමණය.

පැහැරගැනීමට ලක්‌වූ තරුණයා දෙමටගොඩ පොලිසිය හමුවේ ප්‍රකාශ ලබාදෙමින් මෙසේද කියා සිටියේය.

මම පදිංචිවෙලා ඉන්නේ මල්වත්ත ගොතටුවේ. මගේ බිරිඳ විදේශගතව රැකියාවක්‌ කරනවා. මට දුවෙකුයි පුතෙකුයි ඉන්නවා. දෙමටගොඩ ලකීස්‌ටාර් වෙළෙඳසැලේ මම රැකියාවක්‌ කරනවා.

මීට මාස 6 කට විතර උඩදී තමයි මට චමිලව මුණ ගැහුණේ. ඒ ටවුන්හෝල් එකේදි. චමිලා මට ටෙලිෆෝන් නම්බර් එක දුන්නා. එයත් විවාහකයි. දරුවෝ දෙන්නෙක්‌ ඉන්නවා. අපි දෙන්නා අතරේ අනියම් සම්බන්ධයක්‌ ගොඩනැඟුණා.

එය මට නිතරම දුරකථනයෙන් කථා කරනවා. මමත් එහෙමයි.

මීට මාස දෙකතුනකට විතර උඩදී අපේ සම්බන්ධය චමිලගෙ මහත්තයට ආරංචි වුණා.

චමිලට නිතර නිතරම ප්‍රශ්න ඇතිවෙන්න ගත්තා. බැරිම තැන මම පහුගිය 19 වැනිදා එයාව මගේ ළඟට ගෙන්න ගත්තා. 20 වැනිදාත් එයා මාත් එක්‌ක හිටියා.

චමිලගෙ මහත්තයා හිරුණිකා මන්ත්‍රීතුමිය එක්‌ක බොහොම සමීපයි. එයාගෙ මැතිවරණ වැඩවලට ගොඩක්‌ උදව් කළා. මට ආරංචි වුණා චමිලාගෙ මහත්තයා මේ ප්‍රශ්නය හිරුණිකා මන්ත්‍රීතුමියට කිව්වා කියලා.

21 වැනිදා මම කඩේ වැඩකර කර සිටියා. ඒ වෙලාවේ තුන්දෙනෙක්‌ කඩේ ඇතුළට ආවා. ඇවිත් පොඩි ප්‍රශ්නයක්‌ කථා කරන්න තියනවා කියලා මාව කඩෙන් එළියට අරගෙන ගියා.

ඒ වෙලාවෙ චමිලගෙ මහත්තයත් එතනට ආවා. එතන හයදෙනෙක්‌ හිටියා ඒ අය එකපාරටම මාව ඇදගෙන ගිහින් කළුපාට ජීප් එකකට දා ගත්තා. ජීප් එකේදී ඒ අය මට හොඳටම ගැහුවා. මාව අරගෙන ගියේ කොළොන්නාවේ තියෙන හිරුණිකාගේ කාර්යාලයට. හිරුණිකා මන්ත්‍රිතුමිය ඒ කාර්යාලයේ මේසයක්‌ උඩ ඉඳගෙන හිටියා.

මාව දැක්‌ක ගමන් එයා ඇහුවා මූද මිනිහා කියලා. චමිලයි එයාගෙ මහත්තයයි එතන සිටියා. මන්ත්‍රි තුමිය එතනදී නඩු ඇහුවා. මට තර්ජනය කළා.

ආයෙත් ප්‍රශ්න ඇති කළොත් උඹව උස්‌සනවා කිව්වා. මට මේ පැත්ත පළාතේ ඉන්න එපා කියලා මාව පන්නලා දැම්මා.

මම දෙමටගොඩට ආවා. ඒ වෙනකොට කඩේ අයිතිකරු මාව පැහැරගෙන ගිය එක ගැන දෙමටගොඩ පොලිසියේ පැමිණිල්ලක්‌ කරලා තිබුණා. පස්‌සේ මම පොලිසියට ආවා යෑයි පැහැරගැනීමට ලක්‌වූ තරුණයා වැඩිදුරටත් පොලිසිය හමුවේ ප්‍රකාශ කර තිබේ.

Man abducted by UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra’s goons tells his story

December 23rd, 2015

Chaturanga Pradeep Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Amila Priyanga Amarasinghe, the 34-year-old man who was allegedly abducted by several supporters of UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra, said today that he did not know why he was abducted.

He denied having an affair with a woman as claimed.

Commenting on Monday’s incident, he said eight supporters of Hirunika Premachandra had entered the shop in Dematagoda where he worked and ordered him to come outside and talk with them.

“I told them to ask my boss for permission to take me out. They then scolded me and assaulted me. They dragged me out of the shop by my shirt collar while assaulting me, and put me into a black “Defender” vehicle which belonged to Ms. Premachandra,” he said.

He said the men had pushed his boss away when he asked them for their identity cards: “They said they were from the police and did not need to reveal their identity.”

He said he asked them where they were taking him and they said, “to a police station”. “Then they took me to Ms. Premachandra’s office,” he said.

The place was crowded. The abductors had dragged him out and thrown him into the office as if they were going to kill him, he said.

Ms. Premachandra had then entered the office and told him he had been abducted at the request request of one of her supporters.

“She said she was a lawyer and knew how to protect herself. She said she had the power to kidnap me any time she wanted to,” he said.

He said Ms. Premachandra received telephone call about fifteen minutes afterward.

“The caller told her that my boss had lodged a complaint with the Dematagoda Police. She then asked me to tell him that they hadn’t hurt me and had brought me back safe and sound. She also asked me to get the complaint withdrawn,” he said.

“The abductors said that I could come to them if my boss fired me. Then they sent me back to the shop in a three-wheeler,” he said.

He said that he had no connection with Hirunika Premachandra or her supporters. “I can’t even face the people now,” he said.

Praising  the Lord and passing the ammunition to Prabhakaran Part II

December 23rd, 2015

 

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The mainstream Churches of all denominations aligned themselves with the LTTE in varying degrees of connectivity. In particular, the clergy in the Tamil-dominated Churches threw their full weight behind the Velupillai Prabhakaran’s one-man regime. At the grass root level as well as the international level Prabhakaran could not have dominated the Tamil constituency and got away with his brutalities without the blessings of the Churches. The Churchmen, some of them drawn from the Churches in the Western world, including Australia,  became the most formidable shield that gave him cover – not to mention a legendary status — even after he was banned as a ruthless terrorist.  Some of the Churchmen, in fact, were falling over each other to propitiate Velupillai Prabhakaran – the mass killer of his political rivals and Tamil dissidents. Lending an ecclesiastical, if not a theological, hand to maintain  his fascist regime was the accepted norm of the time.

In Sri Lanka the Catholic Church played a leading role in protecting Prabhakaran. Other denominations too joined Prabhakaran’s political bandwagon, either overtly or covertly, but the critical role was played by the Catholic Church. Of the non-Catholics, Bishop Kenneth Fernando of the Anglican Church stands out as a leading example of Churchmen who was bending over backward to appease Prabhakaran’s fascist regime. One day he returned from a brief visit to Velupillai Prabhakaran in the Vanni and, flanked by the pro-LTTE Prof. Jayadeva  Uyangoda, and Charlie Abeyesekera, the shadowy NGO figure, he announced, at a  press conference, that the Tamil terrorist leader, who had decimated the entire Tamil leadership, was “humane”. I  couldn’t believe my eyes when I read his paean  published in the Daily News.

I sought an interview with him and he was a cock-a-hoop when I met him in his office. With the presumptuous air of a man who had seen the light at the end of the tunnel, he confirmed that Prabhakaran was “humane”. There was no point  in arguing with him because he had already made up his mind to exonerate him of any guilt. It was not a Christian  mission of forgiveness but a political act to ingratiate himself with the Tamil tyrant. Gaining access to him – a rare opportunity — was seen by the Bishop as an act of political grace. His over-enthusiastic reaction to his meeting with Prabhakaran made me feel that the Church had gone over the  top.

Bishop Fernando was aware of the  notoriety earned by Prabhakaran as the most prolific and efficient grave digger ever produced by the Tamils to bury the Tamils. Prabhakaran felt justified each time his suicide missions succeeded in hitting the target.  His triumphalism and that of his followers reached a pinnacle when  the  Tamil suicide bomber assassinated Rajiv Gandhi : it convinced them of  his invincibility and his power to kill at will, a power that elevated him to the status of “Surya Devan”.  Each death did not diminish him. Instead it increased his own confidence and his belief that he has been chosen for a divine  mission. It also increased his stature among his followers. His war chest increased with each death he scored to impress his power to kill.  His power was measured essentially by his power to kill. The blood-thirsty Tamil Diasporans were falling over each other to finance the massacres. They were vicariously sharing his power to destroy human lives. They felt that Prabhakaran has empowered them as an indomitable political force. They invested their faith in him because  he was seen as the force that would bring to them their elusive kingdom.

The bigger the massacres the bigger the collection. And, O, how the money rolled in to the coffers of Prabhakaran, rising to match the rising pile of corpses! He had also imposed a reign of terror. The Tamil academics, intellectuals, priests and their fellow-travellers justified it as a necessary evil to achieve their goal. But  they were the first to cry foul if  any act of the government affected their interests. The Jaffna Tamil “tendency to get worked up only when its own rights are at stake” was exposed by Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole when he wrote : “When Muslims from Jaffna were asked to leave simply on the basis of the ethnicity, Tamil nationalism said they were being ejected for giving information to the army. The most we could bring ourselves to say was that it was a “mistake”. On the other hand, when Tamils are rounded up in Colombo as informants on the basis of ethnicity, Tamil nationalism discovered human rights.” (p. 29, C. W. Thamotherampillai, Tamil Revivalist, Nethra, Vol 2. No 1, Oct –Dec 1997, edited by Regi Siriwardena, ICES publication).

The double standards adopted to exonerate the Tamils and accuse only “the Sinhala-led government” distorted the discourse on the North-South conflict. The Churches, NGOs, academics and  the pro-separatist lobby used the double standards to cover up the Tamil crimes against the Tamils too. Prabhakaran was relying on the moral support given by these elite groups to pursue his violent politics. And the atrocities committed by Prabhakaran were well known to Bishop Kenneth Fernando.  So why was he projecting Prabhakaran as “humane” when the “Surya Devan” had no such qualities? Clearly, the Bishop was not only lying but he was ready to tuck his cassock up and play dirty politics. It was so dirty that I felt like having a bath after the interview. But it was Saturday morning. I had a deadline  to keep. So I sat down in my office and gave him the just deserts he deserved in my political column in the Sunday Observer.

In defending Prabhakaran I knew he was not doing anything that other Christian leaders hadn’t done before. The post-Constantine history has been soaked in the blood of those who were persecuted and executed by the ruthless forces of politicised Christianity.  Genocidal massacres in the Christian West reached its peak in the 20th century. The  left-wing historian Eric Hobsbawm labelled the 20th Century as  “the most murderous century” (“…..187 million ‘megadeaths’”) in his book, The Age of Extremes, (p.12 – 13, Abacus, 1994). From  the time of the Crusades the Church had played an insidious role that led to the “megadeaths”, most of which occurred in the Christianised regions. The Catholic church was hand  in glove with dictator Franco when  he massacred thousands of Communists who lost in the Spanish Civil War. The Pope blessed Mussolini’s forces marching into Abyssinia. The Church was also behind the Portuguese dictator Salazar. When Pope Pius XII turned a blind eye to Catholic Hitler’s ethnic cleansing he became a silent partner in the Holocaust.  In S. Africa the Church used the Bible to defend apartheid. In the most  horrific of massacres which took place in Rwanda it is the Churches – particularly the Catholic Church – that faced severe criticisms for the role they played in divisive ethnic politics. Nuns and priests were slaughtering civilians in the wells of the Rwandan Churches. The oppression and the persecution of the Afro-Americans were done with the blessings of the Churches quoting the Bible. And the Churchmen always followed the imperial flag that colonized Afro-Asian nations, justifying the need to civilize the natives. When the Portuguese set out to destroy the Hindu kovils in Jaffna it was led by Catholic priests carrying Christian flags.

Prabhakaran, aided and abetted by the Churchmen, belongs to the long line of fascist tyrants in  “the most murderous  century” who had no qualms in causing “megadeaths” of his own people. And for a Bishop to anoint him as “humane”, knowing his record, was unacceptable. I wasn’t surprised that Bishop Fernando, like the others in his confraternity, had joined the mendacious Christian bandwagon that was never backward in coming forward to give their blessings to political evils of the day. He said he had shared some  biscuits and sipped Orange Barley (a local fizzy drink) with “humane” Prabhakaran. Along with his political side-kicks Charlie Abeyesekera and Uyangoda he was making a pathetic attempt  to give  a shine to the bloody image of Prabhakaran.  Uyangoda,  – the JVP fascist who set out to capture Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike dead or alive — was pleased as punch at the press conference, imagining  that he too had made a great contribution to the nation by sipping Orange Barley with “humane” Prabhakaran in the Vanni.  Uyangoda failed to install the Sinhala fascist Wijeweera as the dictator of the nation. His next best bet was to install a Tamil fascist as a substitute for the Sinhala tyrant.

All three posed as holier-than-thou intellectuals preaching divine solutions to the earthly problems. But their moral perversions and blatant lies helped only to boost and perpetuate the subhuman force of the day by distorting the  political realities faced by the nation. The Churches stand condemned for refusing  to recognise evil staring  in their faces. That was not all. They went further to bless Tamil evil as the source  of salvation.  It was pretty obvious that Churchianity had taken over Christianity.  Their hypocrisy makes you understand comprehensively and empathetically why angry Jesus took the whip and lashed the priests who were using the sacred premises of God as a market place for greed and venality. All what I could think of was lines 23: 33 of Mathew : “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Jesus stood for the power and glory of the Supreme Force in Creation.  But the Tamil and pro-Tamil preachers stood for the power and glory of a tin pot Pol Pot. Tragically, the Tamil Churches in particular fell into the hands of a bunch of racist extremists dressed in white cassocks. Rev. S. J. Emmanuel has proclaimed that he is a Tamil first and the Christian second.  He and his gang were exploiting the  Christian pulpits / platforms to concoct a theology for Tamils ONLY. Christianity was reduced to absurdity with some clerics daring to concoct a theology exclusively for the Tamils. Christianity lost its universality and credibility when Tamil Churchmen defined God as a Deity existing exclusively to  serve the separatist politics of the Jaffna Tamils. The Churches descended into the depths of moral depravity when they sided with the politics of Prabhakaran.

Theologically, it went to the dogs when the Northern wing of the Church pronounced that God belonged ONLY to the Tamils and not to the Sinhalese Christians. Not satisfied with claiming the exclusive ownership of God another branch of the Church claimed that the Mother of God, Holy Mary, also belong to the Tamils exclusively. When the misguided acolytes of Bishop Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of Mannar, grabbed the Holy image at Madhu and ran into Prabhakaran’s territory, the Church made a mockery of all the sacred images, rituals and tenets of Christianity.

When Bishop Rayappu gave his silent nod to hijack the image of Holy Mary he was openly declaring his hand for Prabhakaran. His nominal excuse for running away with the Holy image to Prabhakaran’s territory was to protect it from being damaged by the firing of the advancing Security Forces. That’s another unholy lie.  Pictures of the Madhu Church taken after the war revealed that it was hardly affected by the war. The hidden agenda of Bishop Rayappu was to show his commitment to Prabhakaran and not to Holy Mary or the Catholic Church. It was his way of showering Christian blessings on the Tamil Pol Pot. But it backfired. As one Tamil journalist (I think it’s D. B. S. Jeyaraj) said the decline of Prabhakaran began with this sacrilegious act of Bishop Rayappu. The advancing Security Forces, moving  up along  the Western coast, going past Madhu, never stopped until they trapped Prabhakaran in Nandikdal.

Apart from their  futile attempts to hijack God and Holy Mary the Catholic Churchmen committed the heinous crimes of handing  over school-going girls, placed in their care by the Tamil parents, to the  LTTE. Tamil parents who were agonising over their children being abducted by the Tamil Boko Harams handed over some to the Vallayar Madam Church believing  that they would be protected under the roof of the Church. In the morning  when they went to collect their children they found that the priests had rung the LTTE and asked them to come and collect the girls. Except for Fr. James Pathinathar, who tried to prevent the abduction of the girls by the LTTE, the others were happy to make their contribution to the LTTE. And the Church was silent like the way the Pope was silent when Hitler was slaughtering the Jews.

The Catholic Church in particular has a history of  aligning itself with fascist regimes.  So it was not surprising to  find Catholic Emmanuel and Bishop Rayappu jumping with both feet into the fascist bandwagon of Prabhakaran.  The Jaffna Vicar, Rev. Emmanuel and later Bishop Jebanesan struggled to concoct theories to make-believe that was God on the side of Prabhakaran. And the Bishop of Mannar, quite arrogantly, tried to drag Holy Mary physically into Prabhakaran’s camp. Both failed. Despite the strenuous attempts of the Churchmen neither God nor Holy Mary showed any signs of intervening on  behalf of Prabhakaran.

Politicising Christianity has only brought disrepute to the Church. Besides, the attempt of the Tamil Churchmen to hijack both God and Holy Mary to serve Prabhakaran reflects the arrogance of Tamil clerics who assume that they have a direct line to God to make things happen their way. It  is symptomatic of the vanity and the bogus sense of superiority of the Sri Lankan Tamils. But history has proved that both God and Holy Mary have been on the side of democratic forces that restored freedom liberty and dignity to the Tamils which they never had either under the caste fascism of the Vellahlas or under the political fascism of Prabhakaran.

(To be continued)

Yahapalanaya Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra accused over an abduction of a man

December 23rd, 2015
The Police today arrested six suspects and took into custody a Defender vehicle belonging to Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra over an abduction of a man last afternoon.
The victim who was employed at a drapery store was abducted around 2.30pm on Monday (21). The employees of the store had informed the police who had initiated investigations into the matter.
The police further stated that the victim was a resident of Sewanagala and was temporarily boarded in Kolonnawa. The police who were able to identify the vehicle used to abduct the victim using CCTVs in the area has ascertained that the vehicle was registered under MP Hirunika Premachandra.
https://youtu.be/aWaBuBOO5IY

 පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත‍්‍රීනී හිරුණිකා පේ‍්‍රමචන්ද්‍ර මහත්මියගේ ඩිෆෙන්ඩර් රියකින් ඇගේ ආධාරකරුවන් පිරිසක් විසින් තරුණයෙක් පැහැරගෙන යාම සම්බන්ධයෙන් වූ CCTV වීඩියෝ දර්ශණ නිකුත් වී තිබේ.

 FCID CID over to you
In a statement to the police a 26-year-old youth — who was abducted by some supporters of parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra — said he was personally threatened by her, the Police Spokesman said today. The drapery store employee identified as U. Priyankara told the Dematagoda Police that he was forcibly taken away by six men in a Land Rover Defender on Monday afternoon.
 
The victim who turned up at the police station around 10.00 p.m. that evening with injuries on his face and body said the men had forcibly taken him in a Defender to an undisclosed location where he was confronted by Ms. Premachandra.

මඩ හෝදාගන්න ආ හිරුණිකා ගොමත් නාගනී… මාධ්‍ය හමුව නවතා නැගිට යයි…

තරුණියෙකු පැහැගෙන යාම සම්බන්දයෙන් චෝදනා එල්ල වී ඇති පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත‍්‍රීනී හිරුණිකා පේ‍්‍රමචරන්ද්‍ර මහත්මිය ඊයේ පස්වරුවේ හදිසි මාධ්‍ය හමුවක් කැඳවූවාය.

එහිදී අදාල සිදුවීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් තමන්ගේ මැදිහත්වීමක් නැතැයි අවධාරණය කල ඇය හිරු රූපවාහිනියට දැඩි ලෙස දොස් පැවරීමද සිදු කලාය.

මාධ්‍යවේදීන් ඇසූ ප‍්‍රශ්ණවලට දෙන්නට හරිහමන් උත්තර ඇය හදාගෙන විත් තිබුනේද නැත.

Dismissing allegations that she had threatened and assaulted a 26-year-old man who had been abducted by her support staff in a “Defender” vehicle, UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra said today that all she wanted to do was to prevent a family from breaking up.

At a special media briefing yesterday evening, the MP, who is at the centre of the controversy, said that she wanted to help one of her staff members, as his family was about to be broken up by an outsider.

Admitting that it was wrong for her support staff to carry out the unlawful act of bringing a person forcibly to her office, Ms. Premachandra said that if the injustice that that was done to her staff member was referred to the police it would have taken days for the matter to be resolved.

She said the abducted man,, who was also married, had been having an extra marital relationship with the wife of one of her staff members who had two children.

She said the abducted man had forcible taken away the wife of the staff member and was keeping her.

When the staff member went with a group of people to talk to him at the drapery shop where he worked he had refused to come out. Then the group had dragged him out and had taken him from there, Ms. Premachandra admitted.

The group had brought the man to her office in Kolonnawa and reported to her. She said she had tried to sort out the matter and advised him to end the affair as it would break up another family.

When asked whether she did the right thing, as a responsible public representative, to interfere in a personal problem in such a manner, she said that all she wanted to do was to save a family.

She added that she had willingly brought her staff members who were involved in the abduction to the police station along with the vehicle to cooperate with the police inquiry. – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/100551/i-wanted-to-prevent-a-family-from-breaking-up-hirunika#sthash.LEcbxRcX.dpuf

අයවැය හා වරාය නගරය

December 22nd, 2015

නලින් ද සිල්වා

 මේ ආණ්ඩුව විසිඑක්වැනි සියවසට ඔරොත්තු නොදෙන එකකි. එහි එ ජා ප නායකයෝ තවමත් රාජකීය විද්‍යාලය ආරම්භ කළ 1835 ජීවත් වෙති. මෛත්‍රිපාල සිරිසේන මහතා ජීවත්වන්නේ එයටත් වසර විස්සකට පමණ පෙර සුද්දන්ට ශ්‍රී වික්‍රම රාජසිංහ රජු පාවාදුන් වකවානුවෙහි ය. ඔහුට ඇත්තේ මහින්ද රාජපක්‍ෂ, බැසිල් රාජපක්‍ෂ ආදීන්ගෙන් පළිගැනීමේ චේතනාව පමණකි. ඔහුට අගමැති කම නොලැබුණු බැවින් ඔහු සියළු පාවාදීම් කරයි. ඔහු කිසි විටෙකත් බලය අත්නොහරිනු ඇත. ඔහු විධායක ජනාධිපති ධුරය අහෝසි කරනු ඇත්තේ අදාළ බලතල අගමැතිට පවරා ලබන මැතිවරණයේ දී අගමැති වීමේ බලාපොරොත්තු වෙනි. ඔහු නමින් පමණක් ශ්‍රී ල නි ප වෙයි. ඔහුට ඇති දේශපාලන පක්‍ෂයක් හෝ දර්ශනයක් හෝ නැත.
 
ආණ්ඩුවේ එ ජා ප නායකයෝ හතරදෙනෙක් වෙති. හතරදෙනාම සූරයන් නොවෙතත් රාජකීය විදුහලේ ඉගෙන ගත්තෝ ය. ඒ රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ, මලික් සමරවික්‍රම, ලක්‍ෂමන් කිරිඇල්ල  හා රවි කරුණානායක වෙති. මලික් සමරවික්‍රම හැරුණු විට අනෙක් තිදෙනා හමුදාවට සමච්චල් කළ අය වෙති. තෝප්පිගල කැලෑවක්, ඕනැම ගොනකුට යුද්ධ කළ හැකි ය, අලිමංකඩ යනුවෙන් පාමංකඩට කීම ආදිය ගැන සිංහලයන් කිසි දිනෙක සමාව නොදිය යුතු ය. ඔවුන්ට අවශ්‍ය දෙමළ ජාතිවාදයට රට පාවාදීම ය. පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ නැති වුවත් ආණ්ඩුවේ අනෙක් රාජකීය නායකයා අවුරුදු කිහිපයකට පෙර මට මරණීය තර්ජන එල්ල කළ චරිත රත්වත්තේ ය. ඔහුගේ තර්ජනය ගැන එකල ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයකු වූ වත්මන් ජනමාධ්‍ය නියෝජ්‍ය  ඇමති පරණවිතාන මහතා දනියි. රත්වත්තේ ද අයවැයට වගකිව යුතු යැයි කියැවෙයි.  රාජකීය විදුහල හා ඒ පිටුපසින් ඇති මෙරට අනෙක් පාසල් තවමත් වර්ධිත බටහිර නූතනත්ව අවධියටවත් පැමිණ නැත. පරිගණක අන්තර් ජාල, වයිබර් තාක්‍ෂණ ආදිය  මෙරට හුදු සංකේත පමණ ය. එහි පසුපස ඇති චින්තනය මහල්ලන්ට පමණක් නොව තරුණයන්ට ද බොහෝ ඈත ය. තවමත් මෝටර් රථ පැදවීමටවත් මෙරට බොහෝ දෙනා නො දනිති. ඔවුන්ට අදාළ සංස්කෘතිය නො තේරෙයි. ඔවුන් වාහන පදවන්නේ පයින් යන්නේ ය යන සිතුවල්ල පෙරදැරි කරගෙන ය. ඊනියා මංතීරු නීතිය තදින් ක්‍රියාත්මක කරන බවට පොලීසිය මොරදුන්නේ එබැවිනි. එහෙත් මංතීරු එලෙස ම ඇත. මංතීරු ද සංකේත පමණ ය. වාහන ද සංකේත පමණ ය. අපි වාහන “ පදවමින්” සිතින් පයින් යමු. වාහන නීති නොතකා පයින් යන වාහන හේතුවෙන් මාර්ග අවහිර ඇතිවෙයි. අනතුරු සිදුවෙයි.
 
මගේ වෑයම සිංහලයන් ඊනියා නූතනත්වයට ගෙන යෑමට නො වේ. මම නූතනත්වයට විරුද්ධ වෙමි.  සමස්තයක් ලෙස ගත්කල ඊනියා නූතනත්වය මිනිසාට අහිතකර ය. ලෝකය මිනිසුන්ට ජීවත්වීමට නුසුදුසු තැනක් බවට පත්කෙළේ අදාළ යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි චින්තනය ය. (මේ වාක්‍යය ඊනියා සංහිඳියාවක නමින් දණ්ඩ නීති සංග්‍රහයට එක් කිරීමට යන අලුත් වගන්තියට පටහැණි දැයි මම නො දනිමි. පටහැණි වුවත් ඒ බව කිව යුතු ය). පහළොස්වැනි සියවසේ අගභාගයේ ඉතාලියේ ඇති වූ යුදෙව් ක්‍රිස්තියානි පෞද්ගලික චින්තනය සියල්ල වෙන්කිරීමට උත්සාහ කරයි. එහෙත් යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි චින්තනය ඒ නිසා ම එකක් ලෙස ක්‍රියාත්මක වෙයි. වත්මන් බටහිර කලාව පමණක් නොව බටහිර විද්‍යාව ද ධනවාදය ද ඇතිවූයේ මේ චින්තනයෙහි ය. කතෝලික සාමූහික චින්තනය වෙනුවට ඇති වූ යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි චින්තනයෙන් මුල දී පෞද්ගලික ධනපතියෝ ඇතිකරනු ලැබූහ. දහනවවැනි සියවසේ මුල බටහිර චින්තනය එසේ වූ අතර පෞද්ගලික ධනපතියන්ට අනුබල දෙනු ලැබිණි. එහෙත් කල් යෑමේ දී යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි සාමුහික චින්තනයක් ඇති වී ධනපති සමාගම්, බහුජාතික සමාගම් හා එංගලන්ත කම්කරු පක්‍ෂයේ මැදිහත්වීමෙන් රාජ්‍ය ධනවාදය ද ඇති විය. 
 
1917 රුසියන් විප්ලවය ගැන බොහෝ දෙනා කතාකර ඇත. එය මාක්ස් ට්‍රොට්ස්කිවාදයක ප්‍රතිඵලයක් නොව රුසියානු ජාතික චින්තනයෙහි (national thought) ප්‍රතිඵලයක් බව එක්තරා සමාජ විද්‍යාඥයකු කියා ඇතැයි ගුණදාස අමරසේකර මහතා පවසා ඇත. මෙරටට ඊනියා ජාතික චින්තනය පිළිබඳ අදහස පැමිණියේ ද රුසියන් විප්ලවය ඔසසේ ය! අද ඒ ජා පක්‍ෂය ද බටහිරයෝ ද ජනවාරි අටවැනිදා විප්ලවයක් ගැන කතාකරති! ඒ ප්‍රතිවිප්ලවයක් බව විප්ලවයට විරුද්ධ එ ජා ප නායකයන් දන්නේ කෙසේ ද? ඒ කෙසේ වෙතත් මාක්ස්ගේ හා ට්‍රොට්ස්කිගේ අදහස් උච්චාරණය කරමින් රුසියාවේ ලෙනින් හා ස්ටැලින් සිදුකෙළේ රාජ්‍ය ධනවාදයක් ඇති කිරීම ය. එය අලුත් අදහසක් නොවන බව මම දනිමි. එහෙත් එහි අලුත් යමක් නැතිවා ම නො වේ. ඒ මෙසේ ය. යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි පෞද්ගලික චින්තනයෙන් යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි සාමූහික චින්තනයකට මාරුවීමක් අවුරුදු සියයකට පමණ පෙර සිදු විය. ආර්ථිකයේ වර්ධනයට විශාල ධනපති සමාගම් අවශ්‍ය වූයේ ය. මුල දී පෞද්ගලික ධනපතියන්ගේ ප්‍රාග්ධනය ප්‍රමාණවත් වූ නමුත් පසුව අති විශාල ප්‍රාග්ධන අවශ්‍ය විය. මාක්ස් ප්‍රාග්ධනය එකතු වී ඒකාධිකාර පැන නැගීමක් ගැන කතාකරයි. එවැනි ඒකාධිකාර ඇතිවීමට එක්කෝ සාමාන්‍ය මට්ටමක ධනපතියන් ඇති වී ඔවුන්ගේ එකතුවීම්, අනෙකුත් ධනපතියන් ගිලගැනීමක් ආදිය සිදුවිය යුතු ය. නැත්නම් රජය මැදිහත් වී රාජ්‍ය ධනපතිවාදයක් බිහිකළ යුතු ය. මේ සමග බටහිර කලාවේ ද විද්‍යාවේ ද වෙනස්කම් ඇති වූ බව අමතක නොකළ යුතු ය. තනි තනි කලාකරවන්ට තනි තනි විද්‍යාඥයන්ට ලෝකයේ දැන් ඉඩක් නැත. විශේෂයෙන් ම 1930 දශකයෙන් පසුව ඒ හේතුවෙන් ම බටහිර ලෝකයේ අලුත් අදහස්වල හිඟකමක් ද දකින්නට ඇත. 
 
රුසියාව, චීනය වැනි රටවල මහා ධනපතියෝ නො සිටියහ. ධනවාදී සමාජවත් ඒ රටවල ඇතිවී නො තිබිණි. ඒ රටවල් ඊනියා නූතනත්වයට ගෙන යෑමට විශාල ප්‍රාග්ධනයක් අවශ්‍ය විය. එහි ඊනියා කොමියුනිස්ට් නායකයන් කෙළේ මේ ප්‍රාග්ධනය ඇති කිරීම ය. ඒ සඳහා ඔවුහු රාජ්‍ය ධනවාදයක් ඇති කළහ. එය ඊනියා සමාජවාදය නමින් හැඳින්වූයේ මාක්ස්ගේ නාමයෙනි. එහෙත් මාක්ස්ගේ අදහස් ලෙනින්ට, විශේෂයෙන් ම ස්ටැලින්ට බල නො පෑවේ ය. රාජ්‍ය ධනවාදය ඇතිවීමෙන් පසු දැන් අවශ්‍ය පරිදි විශාල ප්‍රාග්ධන හිමි ධනපතියන්ට ද බිහිවීමට අවස්ථාව සැලසී ඇත. 
 
එ ජා ප ලංගම කාබාසීනියා කර පෞද්ගලික බස් ඇතිකළ දිනවල  මා සමග පේරාදෙණියේ සිට කොළඹ බලා එමින් සිටි මාක්ස්වාදී ආර්ථික විද්‍යාඥයකු මා සමග පැවසුවේ වැඩිකල් නොගොස් බස් ඒකාධිකාර ඇතිවන බව ය. එකල මාක්ස්වාදියකු වූ මම ද එය අනුමත කෙළෙමි. එහෙත් එවැනි ඒකාධිකාර මෙරට ඇති නොවිණි. හිඟන ධනපතියන්ට එවැන්නක් පවා කරගත නොහැකි ය. අද බස් හිමියෝ උගසට බස් දුවති! අපට යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි චින්තනය තව බොහෝ ඇත ය. 
 
මේ ආණ්ඩුවේ අයවැය දහනවවැනි සියවසේ මුල්කාලයේ වූ ධනවාදය හා එයට පදනම් වූ යුදෙවු ක්‍රිස්තියානි පෞද්ගලික චින්තනය මත සකස් වී ඇත. එංගලන්තය හා ඉන්දියාව ඇමරිකාවේ සහාය ද ඇතිව රාජපක්‍ෂ ආණ්ඩුව පෙරළා දමා රනිල් මෛත්‍රිපාල ආණ්ඩුවක් බිහි කළ ද ඒ රටවල් මෙරට ඊනියා සංවර්ධනයකට ආධාර නො කරයි. මේ ආණ්ඩුවට අද ඇති මූලික ම ප්‍රශ්නය ප්‍රාග්ධනය නොමැති වීම ය. රට ඊනියා සංවර්ධනයට යොමු කිරීම සඳහා අවශ්‍ය ප්‍රාග්ධනය මෙරට හිඟන ධනපති පංතියට නැත. මැතිවරණ දිනවල වොක්ස්වාගන් සමාගම මල්වානට පැමිණෙන්නේ යැයි බොරු ප්‍රචාරයක් කළ ද එය තවත් රනිල්ගේ චුවිංගම් ව්‍යාපෘතියක් විය. තරුණයන්ට චුවිංගම් හපමින් මෝටර් රථවල යෑමට දැන් අවස්ථාව උදා වී ඇත!
 
ආණ්ඩුවේ අයවැය කවුරුන් සම්පාදනය කළත් සම්පුර්ණයෙන් ම අසාර්ථක ය. විසඑක්වැනි සියවසට ඔබින ඊනියා ආර්ථික සංවර්ධනයක් ඇතිකිරීමට අවශ්‍ය ප්‍රාග්ධනය ලබාගැනීමට පමණක් නොව දෛනික වියදම් පියවාගැනීමට ද ආණ්ඩුව අපොහොසත් වී ඇත. එබැවින් මහජනයාට මෙතෙක් දී ඇති සහන කපාදමා ආණ්ඩුවේ වියදම් අඩුකිරීමට අයවැය සම්පාදකයන්ට සිදු වී ඇත. රාජ්‍ය සේවයට හිමි අයිතිවාසිකම් කපාදැමීම හැරෙන්නට ආණ්ඩුව කර ඇත්තේ ගොවියන්ට, ශිෂ්‍යයන්ට ආදී වශයෙන් දී ඇති සහනාධාර කපා දැමීම ය. ඒ පිළිබඳ විස්තර දැක්වීම මගේ ශෛලිය නො වේ. ඒ සඳහා දක්‍ෂයෝ මෙරට එමට සිටිති. ආණ්ඩුව වියදම් කපාදැමීමට ඉදිරියේ දී රාජ්‍ය සේවය කප්පාදු කරනු ඇත. 
 
විදේශිකයන්ට මෙරට ඉඩම් විකිණීමට ආණ්ඩුව තීරණය කර ඇත්තේ ද අවශ්‍ය ප්‍රාග්ධනය සපයා ගැනීමට ය. එහෙත් විදේශිකයෝ එලෙස ප්‍රාග්ධනය රැගෙන මෙරරට නො පැමිණෙති. ඔවුන් වෙරළේ ඉඩම් ගැනීමට නම් සමහර විට විසුරුණු දෙමළ ජනතාව සමග පැමිණීමට ඉඩ ඇත. රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ සාඩම්බර ප්‍රකාශයක් කරමින් කියා සිටියේ හුදෙක් බලයේ රැඳී සිටීම සඳහා ජනප්‍රිය ප්‍රතිපත්ති ක්‍රියාත්මක නොකරන බව ය. එහෙත් එසේ කියා දින දෙකක් ගතවන විට ඔහු අයවැය සංශෝධනය කෙළේ ය. ඒ මහජන විරෝධතා හමුවේ ජනප්‍රිය ප්‍රතිපත්ති අනුගමනය කරමින් බලයේ රැඳී සිටීමට නො වේ ද?
 
මේ ආණ්ඩුව බලයට පත්කිරීමට කටයුතු කළ දෙමළ ජාතිවාදීන් ඊනියා සිවිල් සමාජ, ආණ්ඩුවට හිතවත් වෘත්තීය සමිති, ජ වි පෙ වැනි පක්‍ෂ ද අද අර්බුදයට වගකිව කිවයුතු ය. මොවුහු රනිල් හා එ ජාප ගැන දැන නොසිටියෝ ද? රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ යනු පෙරේදා උපත ලෑබූ අයකු යැයි ඒ පක්‍ෂ හා සංවිධාන විසින් සලකනු ලැබිණි ද? 1994ට පෙර දාහත් අවුරුදු ශාපය ඔවුන්ට අමතක වී ද? ත්‍රස්තවාදය පැරදවූ රාජපක්‍ෂ ආණ්ඩුව පෙරළා දැමීම හැරෙන්නට ඔවුන්ට වෙනත් අරමුණු තිබූ බවක් නො පෙනෙයි. මේ අයට සුදනන් වීමට අවස්ථාව ලබා නොදිය යුතු ය. ඔවුන් සමහරකු පසුගිය 15 වැනි දා ඇතිකිරීමට ගිය වර්ජනය පුස්වෙඩිල්ලක් පමණක් විය. එය ආණ්ඩු විරෝධය ද තමන් අතම තබාගැනීමට ආණ්ඩුවට කඩේ ගිය හෙංචයියලා දැරූ අසාර්ථක උත්සාහයක් විය. ඒකාබද්ධ විපක්‍ෂය පාර්ලිමේන්තුව ඇතුළත මෙන් ම පිටත ද විරෝධතා ව්‍යාපාර දියත් කළ යුතු ය. 
 
ආණ්ඩුව අද වෙන කිසිවක් කරගත නොහැකි ව චීනය දෙසට හැරී ඇත. වරාය නගරය බිහිකිරීම නැවත ඇරඹීමට යන්නේ පරිසර දූෂණ අවම කිරීමෙන් ද? චීනය මේ දහනවවැනි සියවසේ දුර්දාන්ත ආණ්ඩුවට ප්‍රාග්ධනය ලබා දී ආණ්ඩුව රැකගනි ද? 
 
නලින් ද සිල්වා
 
2015 දෙසැම්බර් 17

සිරිසේන ගේ දෙමළ මෛත්‍රිය පිටිපස සිටින්නේ කවුරුද

December 22nd, 2015

මතුගම සෙනෙවිරුවන්

පසුගිය සතියේ ජනාධිපති සිරිසේන වතිකානුවට ගියේ පාප් ගේ නියෝගය මතයි. මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මහතා ගෙදර යන්නට කලියෙන් පාප්ගමනයට ගාලු මුවදොර අල්තාරයක් ඉඳි කළේය.ඒ අල්තාරය උඩ සිංහල බෞද්ධයා  බාවා හරාම් කළ පසු එහි ශාපය නිසාදේ මහින්ද චන්දයෙන් පැරදී ආපසු මැදමුලනටම ගිය බව කවුරුත් දනිති. සිරිසේන වතිකානුවට ගිය පසු කී දේ කොහොම වුවත් ලංකාවට පැමිණි සැණින් යාපනයට ගොස් දෙමල ජනතාව හමු වී නත්තල් සමරා කොටින් ගේ සුරතල් විඳිමින් දකුණේ සිංහළයාව විවේචනය කලේය. වසර විසිපහක් අවතැන් ව සිටින දෙමලා ගැන බලාපල්ලා යාපනයට විත් ඔවුන් විඳින දුක බලාපල්ලා කියා කීවේ හුදෙක් චන්දය පමණක් බලාගෙන නොවේ.එම ප්‍රකාශ පිටිපස සිටින්නේ පාප් ඇතුළු පල්ලි සංස්ථාවයි. වසර විසි පහක් නොව දහනව වන සියවසේ සිට යාපන අර්ධ ද්වීපයේ සිටි සිංහලයන් වන්නියට අනුරාධපුරයට මෙන්ම ගාල්ල මාතරට පන්නා දැමුවේ ඉංග්‍රීසීන්ය. යාපනයේ පල්ලි ටික හදා දෙමල ක්‍රිසතියානි රටක් හදා ගන්නට නම් සිංහල බෞද්ධයා යාපනයෙන් එළවිය යුතු බව සුද්දා දැන සිටියේය. දෙමල වහලුන් ගැන හැදූ තේසවලමෙයි නීතිය සුද්දා විසින් 1806 දී ගැසට් පත්‍රයේ පළකොට පණතකින් තහවුරු කලේ එබැවිනි. වසර සියයකට  පසු තවත් සිංහලයන් යාපනයේ බේකරි රස්සාවත් ගරාජ කර්මාන්තයත් කරනු දුටු ඉංග්‍රීසීන්  දෙමළ ජතිවාදය අවුස්සා පොහොර දමමින් ප්‍රභකරන් වැනි ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් බිහි කර සිංහලයාට ගසා ඝාතනය කොට පන්නා දැමීය. මේ අවතැන් වූ යාපන නිජභූමි උරුමක්කාරයන් ගැන සිරිසේනට වගේ වගක් නැත. මෙලෙස අවතැන් වූ සිංහලයන් ගණනින් විසදහසක් පමණ වූ බව සංගණන වාර්තා දක්වයි. යාපනය හ වන්නිය ගත් කළ එය හතලිස් පන්දහසකට අධිකය.

          මොවුන් උතුරේ මේ වන තෙක් දිවි ගෙවූවානම් ජනගහනය ලක්ෂය ඉක්මවා යන්නට හොඳටම ඉඩකඩ තිබුණි. නමුත් වාර්ගික පවිත්‍රකරණය යටතේ සුද්දන් ගේ සහ පල්ලියේ අවශ්‍යතාවය සපිරූ කොටි සංවිධානය ඇතුළු දෙමළ බෙදුම් වාදීන් උතුර සිංහළයන්ට තහනම් ප්‍රදේශ බවට පත් කලහ. මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ රජය යුද්ධය නිමා කොට අනාථ කඳවුරු වල සිටි දෙමල ජනතාව පදිංචි කරලීමට ප්‍රමුඛත්වය ගෙන කටයුතු කළද සිංහලයන් පදිංචි කිරීමේ දී දැක්වූයේ මන්දගාමී පිළිවෙතකි.සිංහල රාවය සංවිධානය විසින් යාපන අර්ධද්වීපයේ නාවක්කුලිය ගම්මානය තුළ සිංහලයන් පදිචි කිරීමට අවශ්‍ය කටයුතු සහ පහසු කම් සලසන විට එවකට සිටි උතුරු ආණ්ඩුකාරවරයා සහ ආඥාධිපතිවරයා දිගින් දිගටම එයට බාධා කළේය. එවකට සිටි රජයේ අභිප්‍රාය වූයේ ප්‍රශ්ණ නොමැති වවුනියා කලාපයේ කැලෑ බෝගස් වැව ආසන්නයේ සිංහලයන් පදිංචි කොට ජනගහනය සම්පූර්ණ කිරීම පමණකි. එයින්අදහස් වන්නේ යාපන අර්ධ ද්වීපය තුළ සිංහල ජනපද පවත්වා ගෙන යෑම තහනම් බවයි. මෙම තහනම පිටිපස්සේ ඉන්දියාව සිටි බවට සහතිකය.දැන් සිරසේන ජනාධිපතිවරයා උතුරුට ගොස්  දෙමලා වෙනුවෙන් පමණක් කිඹුල් කඳුළු හෙලීම අපට වටහා ගත හැකිය. ඉන්දියාවේ රහස් ඔත්තු සේවා වල සරණනින් බලයට පත් වූ ඔහුට යම් කාර්ය නියමයක් ඇත. ඒ නම් යාපනය සහ නැගෙනහිර පළාත තුළ ස්වයංපාලනකට ඉඩකඩ සැලසීමයි.හමුදා කඳවුරු පිහිටා තිබූ ඉඩම් ආපසු ලබා දීම‚ කොටි සැකකරුවන් නිදහස් කිරීම‚දෙමල සංවිදින වලට තිබූ තහනමු ඉවත් කිරීම‚ ජනාධිපති කාර්ය සාධක බලකායක් පිහිටුවා දෙමල භාෂාව රටපුරා තහවුරු කරලීමට අවශ්‍ය පහසුකම් සැලසීම. ඒ තුළින් දෙමළ බසට බ්‍රාහ්මී මූලයක් ඇති බව පෙන්වීම වැනි දේ එකින් එක සිදු වෙමින් පවතී. ඒ අතර මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ නම් සාධකය පෙරට දමා සිංහලයන් ඒ පිල්ලිය වෙතින් ඉවත් නොකර තබා ගැනීමටද වෑයමක් පවතී. එයට හේතුව සැබෑ සිංහල නායකයෙක් පෙරට පැමිණීම බෙදුම් වාදයට තර්ජනයක් බැවිනි. සිරිසේන ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ යාපන කතාවෙන් ගම්‍ය වන්නේද එයයි. දැන් මෙරට සිංහල සංවිධාන විසින් කල යුත්තේ සිරිසේන ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ ඉල්ලීම මත යාපනයට ගොස්  නාවක්කුලි ගම්මානයේ සිට මාධ්‍ය සාකච්ඡාවක් පැවැත්වීමයි. ඒ මගින් උතුරෙන් අවතැන් වූ සිංහලයන් ගැන රට අවදි කළ හැකිය.

මතුගම සෙනෙවිරුවන්

නැටුම් සර්ලාගේ විත්ති

December 22nd, 2015

වෛද් රුවන් එම් ජයතුංග 

නාලන්දේ නැටුම් සර්ලා දෙදෙනෙකු වූහ​. වෙළබඩගේ සර් සහ දයානන්ද සර් ය​. මේ සර්ලා දෙන්නාගෙන්ම ගුටි කෑමේ විරළ භාග්‍ය ලැබීමට මට හැකි විය​.

අප හයේ පන්තියේ සිටියදී දයානන්ද සර් පැමිණ නැටුම් ඉගැන්වීය​. හනුමා වන්නම අපට ඉගැන්වූ ඔහු අපටද වන්නම කියමින් නැටීමට නියම කලේය​. හනුමා වන්නම මට තාම මතකය​. එය පටන් ගන්නේ මෙසේය​.  …ගිරින් ගිරට පැන ලැගුම් සොයාගෙන ……. යනාදී වශයෙනි.

මේ වන්නම කියමින් දයානන්ද සර් ඉදිරියෙන් නටයි. අප පසු පසට වී දයානන්ද සර් නටන අයුරු බලමින් එසේ නැටීමට තැත් කලෙමු. මේ අතර සර් ගේ පසු පස සිටි දීපාල් අත් දෙක කොළපුවක් සේ සදාගෙන සර් ගේ පිටුපසට ගොම්පස් ඇල්ලීය​. මේ විකාරය දුටු මට සිනහව නවතා ගත නොහැකි විය​. වන්නම කිය කියා නටන විට සිනාසුනු කෙනා කවරෙක්දැයි කියා ඇසූ ගුරුතුමා මගේ කනෙන් ඇද්දේය​.

natum

නැටුම් සර් ගේ උදව්වට සංගීත සර් ද විය​. ඔහුගේ නම පතිරණ සර් විය​. පතිරණ සර් වයලීනය වැයුවේය​. වරක් ඔහු සුවඳ රෝස මල් නෙලා යන ගීතය ස සරි දාම පාද සා කියමින් වයන විට පසුපස සිටි මමත් ප්‍රසාද් රන්උළුත් ඒ සංගීතයට සාමගාමීව කටෙන් ගිටර් හඞක් වැයුවෙමු. පතිරණ සර්ට  අසු වූයේ එක ගිටාර්කාරයෙකි. අනෙක් ගිටාර් වාදක ප්‍රසාද් රන්උළු බේරුණි. වර්තමානයේ ප්‍රසාද් රන්උළු නාරි හා ප්‍රසව විශේසඥ වෛද්‍යවරයෙකි.

පසු කාලයක පතිරණ සර්ගේ සහයට තවත් සංගීත ගුරුවරයෙක් ආවේය​. ඔහු නමින් එඩ්වඩ් ජයකොඩි නම් විය​. පසු කාලයක මේ ගුරුවරයා ලංකාවම දන්නා ගායකයෙකු විය​. එහෙත් එඩ්වඩ් ජයකොඩි සර් ගෙන් මා ගුටිකා නැත​.

1976 වසරේ දී වෙළබඩගේ සර් බාලදක්‍ෂ කන්ඩායමට නැටුමක් පුරුදු කිරීමට ආවේය​. ඒකාලයේ පෝතක බාලදක්‍ෂයෙකු වූ මා ඇතුළු බොහෝ  බාලදක්‍ෂයන් වරද්දන වරද්දන නැටුම් පියවරක් පාසා වෙළබඩගේ සර් ගෙන් කෑවෙමු. වෙළබඩගේ සර් වේවැල වෙනුවට අත තබාගෙන සිටියේ ලී කෙළි පොල්ලකි.

1979 වසරේදී පාසලේ නව විද්‍යාගාරය ජනාධිපති ජේ . ආර් ජයවර්ධන මහතා අතින් විවෘත කෙරුණි. ජනාධිපති ජේ . ආර් ජයවර්ධන පිළිගැනීමේ ගීතය සහ නැටුම  සංවිධානය කරන ලද්දේ වෙළබඩගේ සර් විසිනි.  එම ගීතයේ කොටසක් මට තවමත් මතකය​. එය ආරම්භ වන්නේ මෙසේය. රාෂ්ඨ ප්‍රජාපතී… ජයවර්ධන ……..මෙම ගීතය ගායනා කලේ අලයා ( මේ සිසුවාගේ නම මතක නැත​) ප්‍රමුඛ ගීත ගායනාවට දක්‍ෂ ළමුන් පිරිසකි.

දොලහේ පන්තියේ සිටියදී අප නාට්‍යක් සංවිධානය කලෙමු. මේ නාටකය සඳහා යක් බෙරයක් අවශ්‍ය විය​. අප එය වෙළබඩගේ සර්ගෙන් ඉල්ලා ගත්තෙමු. නාට්‍ය රඟ දැක්වීමෙන් පසුත් මේ යක් බෙරය පන්තියේ තිබූ අතර සමහර සිසුන් දේයි දේයි ගාමින් යක් බෙරයට ගැසූහ​. තවත් සිසුවෙක් ලී කෙළි වලට ගන්නා ලී කොට දෙකකින් යක් බෙරයට ගසා යක් බෙරයේ එක් මුහුණතක් පැළුවේය​. මේ අතර වහාම යක් බෙරය නැටුම් කාමරය වෙත ගෙන එන ලෙස වෙළබඩගේ සර්ගෙන් විධානයක් ලැබුණි.

මේ නියෝගයෙන් ගත සීතලවූ අප බේරීම සඳහා එක්සත්ව ක්‍රියා කලෙමු. සුදු  කඩදාසියක් ගෙන යක් බෙරයේ  පැලී ගිය මුහුණත මත ඇලවූයෙමු. ඉන් පසු කළු කඩදාසියක් ගෙන එය රවුමට කපා සුදු  කඩදාසිය මධ්‍යයේ ඇලවූයෙමු. ඉන්පසු යක් බෙරය ප්‍රවේසමෙන් ගෙන නැටුම් කාමරයට ගියෙමු.

නැටුම් කාමරයේ වෙළබඩගේ සර් සිටියේය​. අපේ නඩයේ එක් කොල්ලෙක් සර් මෙන්න යක් බෙරය ගෙනාවා කියා බෙරයේ පැළුනු මුහුනත බිමට සිටිනසේ යක් බෙරය නැටුම් කාමරයේ බෙර තිබූ තැනින් තිබ්බේය . අප  වහ වහා පිටවී ගියෙමු. යක් බෙරය කොල්ලන් පලා තිබෙන බව නැටුම් සර් දැන ගත්තේ දොමි කිත කිත තා…. කියා යක් බෙරය ගැසීමට ගිය අවස්ථාවක බව අපට පසුව දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි. නමුත් යක් බෙරය පැලුවේ කව්දැයි සොයා ගැනීමට නැටුම් සර් අපොහොසත් වූයෙන් අපට හුස්ම වැටුණි.

පසු කාලයක මම උතුරු කොලඹ ශික්‍ෂණ රෝහලේ සේවය කරන විට ශල්‍යකර්මයක් කර ගැනීමට වෙළබඩගේ සර් පැමිණියේය​. මම සර්ව විශේසඥ ශල්‍ය වෛද්‍ය සරත් කොල්ලූරේ මහතා වෙත යොමු කිරීමට සහාය වූයෙමි.

වෛද් රුවන් එම් ජයතුංග 

මද්දෙගම- මීගහතැන්න ඩිමෙල් මාවත අබලන් යැයි ගම් වාසීන් මැසිවිලි නගති

December 22nd, 2015

පේශල පසන් කරුණාරත්න

 වලල්ලාවිට ප්‍රාදේශ්‍රීය ලේකම් කොට්ටාසයේ මීගහතැන්න, වලල්ලාවිට ප්‍රධාන මාර්ගයේ මද්දෙගම සිට මීගහතැන්න දක්වා ඇති අතුරු මාවතක් වන ඩිමෙල් මාවත 849D ග්‍රාම සේවා වසම හරහා ඇති එකම මාර්ගයයි.

ගම් වාසීන්ගේ එදිනෙදා කටයුතු කරගෙන සිදු කර ගැනීමට අති මෙම ඩිමෙල් මාවත මේ වන විට විශාල වශයෙන් හානී වී ඇත. කඳු බැවුම් සහිත ප්‍රදේශය හරහා වැටී ඇති මේ මාර්ගයද විශාල බෑවුම් සහිත මාර්ගයකි. මෙම ප්‍රදේශයට වසර පුරා පතිතවන දැඩි වර්ශා පතනය නිසාම මෙම මාර්ගය විශාල වශයෙන් ‍සෝදා පාළුවට ලක්ව ඇත. මෙයට හේතුවක් වශයෙන් දැකිය හැකි වන්නේ නිසි කානු පද්ධතියක් මෙම මාර්ගයට නොමැති වීමයි. ගම් වාසීන් එකතු වී සුළු සුළු සංස්කරන කටයුතු සිදු කලත් ඒවා තාවකාලික විසඳුමක් පමණක් වේ. මේ වන විට වහන ගමනා ගමනයට මෙන්ම පා ගමනින් යාමටවත් අසීරූ තත්වයක් ගම් වාසීන්ට උදා වී ඇත.

පසු ගිය රජය සමයේ මෙම මාර්ගය කාපට් අතුරා නිසි කානු පද්ධතියක් යොදා මාර්ගය සංවර්ධනය කිරීමට මුල් ගල් තැබුවද, එම මුල් ගල්ද අද වන විට සොයා ගැනීමටවත් නොහැක. මැතිවරණ කාලය තුලදී මැති ඇමති වරුන් පැමිණ ගම් වාසීන්ගේ බලාපොරොත්තු අළුත් කර ඔවුන්ගේ කාරිය කරගෙන ගිය පසු නැවත ඔවුන් පැමිනෙන්නේ තවත් මැතිවරණයක් පැමිණී විට පමණි.. නීසි බලදාරීන්ගේ අවධානය මේ සඳහා යොමු නොවන්නේ මන් දැයි ගම් වාසීන් මැසිවිලි නගති.

නීසි බලදාරීන්ගේ අවධානය යොමු වීමට ඔබ මාධ්‍ය ආයතනයේ සහය ඉල්ලා සිටිමු. 

අබලන් වී ඇති ඩිමෙල් මාවතේ වීඩ්යෝ දර්ශන පහත Link මගින් ලබා ගත හැක

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKS7usjC7BQ

ස්තූතියි.

පේශල පසන් කරුණාරත්න

New year: War Crimes probe, labour disputes to the fore

December 22nd, 2015

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island 


Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera announced last September at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council that he would consult all stakeholders on setting up of the accountability mechanism by end February, 2016. The resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka also called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to give the Council a verbal report on progress at the June, 2016 session.

The Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government faces numerous challenges, next year, though it retains a commanding majority, in parliament, as reflected by the passage of budget 2016 last Saturday. The coalition will face the daunting task of managing the deteriorating national economy as well as a range of other issues, including the proposed war crimes probe, undoubtedly a sensitive political issue. Just five months after the last parliamentary polls, the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe alliance is struggling to come to terms with ground realities with some sections of the alliance pulling in different directions. With post-war Sri Lanka at crossroads, one of the most politically sensitive years in Sri Lanka’s contemporary history draws to a close paving the way for 2016. The signs are that it’ll be a year of turmoil.

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Had the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa taken heed of sound advice, given by General Secretary of the Communist Party, D.E.W. Gunasekera, not to call a early presidential election, he could have averted a disaster. Messrs Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Prof. Tissa Vitharana joined the CP leader in warning Rajapaksa of dire consequences unless he addressed contentious issues, immediately. The warning was given in the wake of the SLFP-led UPFA’s lackluster performance at the crucial Uva Provincial Council election on Sept. 20, 2014. As D.E.W. Gunasekera told the writer, after having met Rajapaksa, at Temple Trees, the Uva result should have prompted Rajapaksa to rethink strategy. Unfortunately, the former President hadn’t been interested in the left party leaders’ advice. Instead, the war-winning President went along with the then Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s strategy.

The Rajapaksa project was meant to further consolidate their hold in the wake of the passage of the 18th Amendment, in early September, 2010, to the Constitution, as well as impeachment of the then Chief Justice, Mrs Shirani Bandaranayake, in January, 2013. The first woman to head the country’s judiciary, the 43rd CJ Bandaranayake was dismissed, disregarding rulings from the Supreme Court that the process was illegal and threatened judicial independence. The then National List MP Gunasekera had the guts to turn down Rajapaksa’s request to vote in favour of impeaching the CJ. Another National List MP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha did the same.

Having thrown his full weight behind both, the 18th Amendment, which cleared the way for Rajapaksa to seek a third term, and the subsequent anti-Bandaranayake move, Maithripala Sirisena switched his allegiance to the UNP. In spite of a massive propaganda campaign, conducted by the previous government, Maithripala Sirisena convincingly defeated Rajapaksa at the January 8 presidential polls.

President Maithripala Sirisena thwarted Rajapaksa’s bid to return as the Prime Minister of an SLFP-led UPFA administration at the expense of proposed constitutional reforms. The President went to the extent of publicly stating why the electorate should reject Rajapaksa. Having thwarted Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena entered into an unprecedented partnership with UNP leader Wickremesinghe to steer the country. The Rajapaksa Camp hadn’t been able to overwhelm the ruling coalition, though at the on set of the Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day programme, the former President seemed to have the strength to stage a come back. The Opposition or the Abayarama parshavaya, as it is widely called, is struggling to sustain its campaign.

The coalition shamelessly abused the 19th Amendment to its advantage. Those in power today exploited the much touted law to freely appoint Ministers, Deputy Ministers, as well as State Ministers, contrary to the basic principles of the Yahapalana government. They, in fact, used the 19th Amendment to justify a large cabinet on the pretext of having a National Government. Under any circumstances, the present arrangement cannot be considered as a National Government. The government faces a plethora of contentious issues with the post-budget crisis and the proposed war crimes inquiry being the main issues. Failure to address them, sensibly, can cause political instability and uncertainty. Fallout can plunge the country into unprecedented turmoil and reverse the ongoing process meant to bring in a brand new Constitution as envisaged by the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

Having defeated Rajapaksa, at the January polls, the Yahapalana rulers caused a debilitating setback to the longstanding China-Sri Lanka relationship by suspending the $ 1.4 bn Chinese-funded Colombo Port City project early this year. Some foolish politicians, and officials of the ruling coalition, made offensive statements. They simply forgot that the Chinese sustained Sri Lanka’s war effort. Following a series of deliberations, the government recently gave the Chinese the go ahead for their flagship project. Strangely, the war winning UPFA, too, last month, condemned the Jewish State, another country whose support paved the way for Sri Lanka’s ultimate triumph over the LTTE, in May, six years ago.

The year old government need to follow a sound foreign policy, without being branded as any particular country’s ally. Whatever the disputes the Rajapaksas had with the US, after the conclusion of the war, the superpower backed Sri Lanka’s war effort. The US made it possible for Sri Lanka to finish off the LTTE in less than three years. That is the truth. But, unfortunately, the previous government bungled in its approach towards the US.

Of the challenges faced by the one-year-old administration, nothing can be as difficult as implementing the Geneva resolution, adopted on Sept. 30, 2015. The government will have to soon announce its decision on the proposed mechanism to inquire into accountability issues during the war. Among those who had been closely involved with the Geneva process, leading to the Sept. 30 resolution, is UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) spokesperson, Suren Surendiran, whom the writer first met in March, 2012, during UNHRC sessions in Geneva. Subsequently, the writer met Surendiran and GTF President, Rev. Father S.J. Emmanuel, in March, in London, where they stressed the importance of bringing the post-war national reconciliation process to a successful conclusion. The GTF delegation was in London to meet the Sri Lankan government delegation visiting the UK, on the invitation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

With high level deliberations taking place, regarding the proposed war crimes inquiry, Surendiran responded to several questions pertinent to the issue at hand. The GTF official reacted from Reykjavik in Iceland.

Q: Is there a deadline for setting up of a war crimes court?

A: Yes, there is as far as I know. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera announced a last September at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council that he would consult all stakeholders on setting up of the accountability mechanism by end February, 2016. The resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka also called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to give the Council a verbal report on its progress at the June, 2016 session.

Q: Will you (GTF) appear before it?

The GTF will fully co-operate with the UNHRC resolution. However, it is the victims and their statements, along with the witnesses, including the various military, government and other civil service personnel, remaining LTTE members, photographic, video and other evidence that will be key to be examined by this special court. Remember over 290,000 people came out of the war zone at the end of the fight. Most are still living. All of them were direct witnesses.

Crimes committed post end of the war in May 2009, has even more victims and witnesses.

Q: Do you (GTF as well as other organisations which represent the interests of Tamil people living in SL and overseas) want 100 per cent implementation of the Geneva resolution approved on Sept. 30?

A: Beyond whether the GTF and other organizations want full implementation of the resolution, it is Government of Sri Lanka’s responsibility and by co-sponsoring the resolution, it’s her commitment to the UN and wider international community, to implement the resolution in full. It is the humanity’s obligation to the tens of thousands of victims to ensure justice is served, after all which is what the resolution is trying to achieve.

Remember there are victims of crime from all communities in Sri Lanka, including the military who had thousands disappeared during the war.

Q: What GTF’s relationship with the TNA?

A: We are two separate entities. GTF has a friendly, healthy and cordial working relationship with the TNA which includes the elected representatives of our people in Sri Lanka.

Q: TNA refused to field ex-LTTE cadres on its Aug. 17 parliamentary polls nomination lists. Did TNA consult GTF before the decision was made?

A: Of course, not! Like I said in my earlier answer, TNA and GTF are two separate entities. We have separate decision making bodies.

Q: The Paranagama Commission proposed international technical assistance and observer status for countries, thereby ruled out international judges, including Commonwealth judges. What is your position?

A: GTF fully supports the resolution, passed by the UNHRC, in September, 2015, which, incidentally, was also co-sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka. The resolution calls for international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other international specialists to be included in the accountability mechanism.

Q: Former President CBK recently declared that the proposed war crimes probe would focus on the top chain of command of the SL military. She asserted that those who ordered atrocities should be held accountable instead of targeting those who carried out orders. Please comment on CBK’s statement.

A: I believe that is a widely shared notion.

Q: Can you compare Sierra Leone war crimes probe and the proposed investigation in SL.

A: I am not a war crimes expert, however from what I know I realize that in Sri Lanka, during and after the war, many, and various crimes, were committed by both sides breaching numerous local and international laws.

Q: Finally, who backed GTF’s struggle which led to the Sept 30 Geneva resolution and the role played by foreign and local media.

A: GTF is an umbrella body representing various country organizations. To create awareness of the plight of Tamil people in Sri Lanka and to resolve their issues we proactively engage international and local media, other governments from countries where a large number of Tamil people live, international human rights and other organizations.

Q: Did you receive local (Sri Lanka) media coverage and backing to propagate your stand before Jan 8 revolution?

A: Yes, we did but it was strictly limited to a very few English print media including The Island. There was never a possibility of GTF being interviewed in the State media outlets like The Daily News or the Rupavahini. There were never any opportunity given to us by any Sinhala media outlets, be it print, voice and visual. Any coverage of GTF or any Tamil Diaspora news on these state media were either false propaganda or at best manipulated heavily to portray a negative image of GTF.

However, since 8 January 2015, the space for freedom of expression in Sri Lanka has changed dramatically. Even state media outlets, like the Rupavahini and Daily News, report on GTF and have given space and coverage for us to air our views. They also reflected accurately.

Q: And on the international scene, what GTF’s stand on the UK joining US, European bombing campaign targeting Syria?

A: GTF is a Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora organization that only concerns itself with issues related to Tamils in Sri Lanka. GTF is absolutely committed to a non-violent agenda and it seeks a lasting peace in Sri Lanka, based on justice, reconciliation and a negotiated political settlement.

Obviously, the GTF as well as other Diaspora organizations, expect the full implementation of the Geneva resolution. The resolution called for Commonwealth and other international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other international specialists to be included in the accountability mechanism.

Retired High Court judge, Maxwell Paranagama, on behalf of the Presidential Commission that investigated disappearances and accountability issues, proposed international observers as well as foreign technical assistance to the domestic war crimes probe. The proposal had the backing of a group of international experts which assisted Paranagama in accordance with the Second Mandate of the Commission.

Unfortunately, the government is yet to initiate discussions with the previous political leadership as regards war crimes investigation mechanism. Those now in power seem to be blind to the pivotal importance in consulting the previous leadership, both political and military. The previous government, too, cannot absolve itself of the responsibility in failing to properly respond to war crimes accusations. Had there been a proper examination of accusations, the anti-Sri Lanka project, during the previous government, wouldn’t have succeeded. The Rajapaksa Camp obviously still cannot comprehend mistakes made during the previous administration in the run-up to January 8 presidential poll. In spite of the contentious issue of the war crimes probe being high on the Maithripala-Wickremesinghe government’s priorities, the administration is likely to be distracted by trade union disputes. Although the government managed to avert a recent strike by giving in to a spate of workers demands, trouble is brewing in both state and private sectors with the powerful GMOA as well as the Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU) preparing for a struggle in the new year. The reversal of a range of revenue proposals, due to pressure from the SLFP, will certainly place the national economy in a difficult situation hence the need to focus on the forthcoming crisis.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe himself told parliament of the country having to face dire consequences of ISIS caused crisis in the Middle East as well as Europe. The Premier went to the extent of asserting the need for his government to seek IMF assistance to overcome the impending crisis.

To be continued on Dec 30

Conspiracies galore

December 22nd, 2015

Island Editorial

President Maithripala Sirisena, speaking in Jaffna on Sunday, vented his spleen on some unnamed extremists for blocking the path to reconciliation and conspiring to dislodge the government. He vowed to defeat those sinister plans. He seems to be troubled by a sense of being encircled with his erstwhile boss, Mahinda Rajapaksa, indicating his readiness to go on the offensive.

President Sirisena’s consternation is understandable. He finds himself in an unenviable position, struggling as he does to unify the SLFP; he will have to lead the SLFP-led coalition’s local government election campaign in a few months. He will have to ensure the UPFA’s victory if he is to consolidate his power in the SLFP. This is a tall order, especially for a person who has engineered the UPFA’s defeat at previous elections and weakened the SLFP in the process. The President’s task will be to win the LG polls without the backing of Rajapaksa. By leading the UPFA campaign he will place himself on a collision course with the UNP led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

There is no guarantee that the political marriage of convenience between the UNP and the UPFA will last until 2020. Some SLFP heavyweights in the Cabinet are already promising to form an SLFP-led government before long while the government leaders are busy papering over the cracks. Holding a government together with a bunch of highly ambitious, strange bedfellows stepping on one another’s toes and pulling in different directions is no easy task.

There is said to be a presidential system in this country, but, in reality, Parliament is still stronger than the executive president. If the president and the prime minister happen to represent two rival parties and be at logger heads the latter becomes the more powerful to all intents and purposes. What we experienced from 2001 to 2004 with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at each other’s jugular may serve as an example.

Now that there is no constitutional provision for the President to sack a government within one year of its formation, there is no way he or she can tame or get rid of a hostile prime minister from a rival party. The 19th Amendment has weakened the President’s position as never before; he will be reduced to a mere figurehead in the event of a power struggle between him and Parliament.

Is President Sirisena seeing crocodiles in a glass of water when he accuses his rivals of hatching a plot? Or, is he trying to gain public sympathy? We believe he has read the political situation accurately. Conspiracies are synonymous with Sri Lankan politics. The President himself was party to a plot, which dislodged the UPFA government last January. He broke bread (or hoppers?) with the then President Rajapaksa on the eve of his defection. His ambitious, revengeful rivals are biding their time. But, it is highly doubtful whether either of the two UPFA factions will be able to form a government though some SLFP ministers are bellowing rhetoric to that effect.

The UPFA is divided and, therefore, cannot hold itself together let alone win over 18 more MPs to gain a working majority in Parliament. The UNP can rest assured that it will have the backing of either the Sirisena faction of the SLFP or the UPFA dissidents. Even if the Sirisena loyalists’ honeymoon with the UNP were to come to an end, the UPFA dissidents are likely to enable the UNP to remain in power so as to undermine the President’s position. The UNP with 106 MPs is short of only seven seats to muster a working majority in Parliament. Enmity between Sirisena and Rajapaksa has stood the UNP in good stead and its political fortunes are not likely to be affected by the conspiracies the President is crying blue murder about.

Needed: A benevolent dictator

December 22nd, 2015

Dr. Sarath Obeysekera Courtesy Island

If one looks at history, many countries developed under autocratic rule. Sri Lanka, under Sinhala kings, prospered due to strict rules and control of the masses.

Even a private company develops in keeping with the vision of the CEO.

Russia, Iran, Iraq, Libya and especially Oman, developed under dictatorships.

As I have written before, what we need is a benevolent dictator. Under MR, we had autocratic rule, but alleged corruption brought an end to the regime which had discipline, and vision to develop infrastructure despite nepotism etc.

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But, today we have no discipline or vision, but a lot of talk and frustration.

I see garbage on roads, encroachments along the roads developed by the previous regime, bribery and corruption, nepotism and greed. We talk about an orange revolution and some have even written books about it, but the country is at a standstill.

We read the newspapers with photographs of farmers in loincloth in Colombo, demanding solutions to their problems.

Time was when farmers did not have to protest. Leaders like Dudley and Premadasa met them in paddy fields. President Maithripala Sirisena is from a farming family. Maybe he does not want to get back to the paddy field!

Let the Prime Minister’s and the President’s Offices be shifted to a place like Muthurajawela so that everyone goes there to demonstrate and Colombo will be free from traffic blocks. Someone has to take over the reins of to lead the masses and trade unions and do something. Otherwise, there will be anarchy.

Dr. Sarath Obeysekera

WHAT CHANCE DOES AN INDIVIDUAL CITIZEN HAVE AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS:  AN UPDATE ON DR. GUNADASA AMARASEKARA’S CASE

December 21st, 2015

By Kapila Gamage, Attorney-at-Law

On 23 September 2015, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara filed a case in the District Court of Colombo against the UN, citing the UN’s resident coordinator for Sri Lanka as defendant.  The case has been reported on in a number of newspapers, but many of those reports have contained inaccuracies.  As the instructing attorney in the case, I consider it in the public interest to clarify a few things about this case, since a number of inquiries have already been made about it both by Sri Lankans as well as foreigners.

Accordingly, I shall briefly explain Dr. Amarasekara’s argument in his plaint, the current status of the case, and finally, what in my view are some of the larger ramifications of the case to international law, as well as to Sri Lanka.

THE ARGUMENT IN THE PLAINT

Dr. Amarasekara’s argument in the plaint is as follows.  A close examination of the Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/25/L.1 (March 2014) reveals that the international investigation against Sri Lanka authorized under paragraph 10 of that resolution is solely based on the recommendation for such an investigation made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a series of related reports.

A close examination of the said High Commissioner’s reports reveals that the primary and principal basis for the High Commissioner’s recommendation for an international investigation is evidence contained in the Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability, released in 2011.

That report was produced for the personal use of the Secretary General, and never placed on the official record of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, or any other UN organ.  Furthermore, Sri Lanka never had an opportunity to respond officially and directly to the report before any UN forum.  As such (Dr. Amarasekara argued) the use of the report to authorize various actions against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council is ex facie illegal, which means the investigation ultimately authorized is also illegal.

The Human Rights Council is a creation of the UN General Assembly, so the UN is ultimately responsible for the actions of the Council.  Therefore, Dr. Amarasekara was asking the UN’s resident coordinator, on behalf of his principal, to admit in writing that the investigation is illegal, and to apologize for the disgrace and dishonor it has caused Dr. Amarasekara, along with all other citizens of this country.

According to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the sovereignty of the country is in the people, and inalienable.  That means said sovereignty is shared equally by all citizens of this country, and any imposition on that sovereignty is an imposition on the part of it that resides in each citizen.

Dr. Amarasekara took as self evident that an international investigation against Sri Lanka, conducted against the wishes of a democratically elected government (and at the time the investigation was authorized the government opposed it) is by definition an imposition on the sovereignty of the country.  Therefore, he considered that he had suffered personal disgrace and dishonor, due to the reasons explained in the preceding paragraph.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE CASE

As I mentioned earlier, the case was filed on the 23rd of September.  In early October, the Ministry of External Affairs had filed a letter with court indicating that Mr. Nandy has diplomatic immunity under Act No. 9 of 1996, and no civil action can be pursued against him.

The plaintiff’s attorney had the case called by motion in early November, at which time Counsel Mr. Dharshan Weerasekera, appearing for Dr. Amarasekara, raised an objection.  He argued that Section 4(1) of Act No. 9 of 1996, which extends the protection of the Act to international organizations, says that when protection is so extended it has to be accompanied by a gazette notification.

The letter submitted by the Ministry did not mention the number or date of the gazette by which the protection of the Act No. 9 of 1996 was extended to the UN.  Therefore (Mr. Weerasekera argued) the letter as it stood was not in proper order for purposes of certifying Mr. Nandy’s immunity.  He requested court to seek a clarification from the Ministry with respect to the gazette in question, and, if no such clarification was provided, to allow an ex parte trial.  Court then set a date for the Order on that request.

That Order was delivered on 12th December:  Court upheld Mr. Nandy’s immunity, and said no further applications on the case will be allowed.  However, in the last sentence of the Order, court said that for purposes of “regularizing” the process by which the fact of Mr. Nandy’s immunity had been conveyed, court was instructing the Secretary of the Ministry to forward the details about the relevant gazette.  So, that’s where the case rests.

LARGER RAMIFICATIONS OF THE CASE

To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Amarasekara’s case is the first time that a private citizen has sued the UN for harm purportedly done to his country.  I understand there is an occasion where a group of Haitians sued the UN, alleging that they had been infected with cholera as a result of some of the UN’s activities in their country.

There, clearly, the harm is not to all Haitians, just the ones allegedly affected.  Dr. Amarasekara’s argument, on the other hand, is that all Sri Lankans were harmed by the UN’s action, and any one of them has a right of action against the UN, an unprecedented position.

In my view, the importance of what Dr. Amarasekara has done is as follows.  One of the disturbing things one sees in international relations today is that the UN is increasingly being used as a tool by certain powerful nations, particularly the United States, to further their particular national and geopolitical goals.

The classic example of the above is the Iraq Invasion, which was launched under the pretext of carrying out a Security Council resolution.  One can add Libya to that list also.  The tactic, to repeat, is to get the UN or one of its subsidiary organs to provide legal cover or a legal imprimatur to an intervention of some sort or another.  The intervention, meanwhile, ends up destroying the country in question.

The point is that, to the citizens of the countries so destroyed, there is at present no way of gaining redress from the UN, since only governments of countries, or designated agencies, are heard at the UN.  Therefore, Dr. Amarasekara’s case focuses attention on a lacuna in international law, namely, there has to be an evolution of the law to allow citizens of countries harmed by the UN to seek redress for such harm, even if their governments are unable, or unwilling, to pursue such matters.

It is well known that law, where it advances, does so very slowly.  If, however, Dr. Amarasekara’s case can get people even thinking about ways of strengthening international law to allow private individuals to hold the UN accountable (where such accountability is warranted) as described above, the case will no doubt have done immense service to humankind.

I shall finally turn to the ramification of the case to Sri Lanka, and this matter can be briefly put as follows.  The Government of Sri Lanka has co-sponsored the resolution A/HRC/30/l.29 (September 2015) that accepts the conclusions of the investigation, and makes recommendations thereon.  So, as matters stand, there’s very little anyone can do to question the veracity of the conclusions of the investigation.

Recall, however that Dr. Amarasekara filed his case on the 23rd of September.  The aforesaid resolution co-sponsored by the government was adopted on the 30th of September.  The letter of demand plus other documents were mailed to the UN Secretary General along with the UN Human Rights High Commissioner.  That means, prior to the resolution, it can be established that there is at least one source through which they were made aware that there may be problems with the legality of the investigation.

The UN is the world’s premier international organization, dedicated among other things to ensuring peace and good relations among the various nations.  One must presume that even a hint that the UN may be responsible for an impropriety or injustice will be a matter of concern to the officers of that Organization.  And here was a citizen of a country claiming that the UN has been perpetrating an injustice against his country for upwards of three years.

Was there a minimal duty on the Secretary General, and/or the Human Rights High Commissioner, to take that citizen’s complaint seriously, even for a moment?  And if so, what did they do about it?

The point is this.  If, at some future date, Sri Lanka were to have a different Government, one that chose to question the conclusions of the investigation, it would be possible, in my view, for such a Government to argue that the UN was aware at the time the resolution endorsing the conclusions of the investigation was adopted that there may be problems with the legality of the investigation, and based on that, to agitate again the points raised by Dr. Amarasekara.

In such a situation it might be possible to precipitate (at that future time) an Advisory Opinion on the legality of the investigation.  In short, Dr. Amarasekara’s case may well have set the ground work for a future challenge against the investigation, a challenge designed to undo, if at all possible, at least some of its consequences.  It may be too late by then, but at least the possibility remains.  And that, under the circumstances, may be the most we can hope for at present.

Kapila Gamage can be reached at gamage_kapila@yahoo.com

Namal clicks rare shot of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa සමකාලීනයන් බොහෝ දෙනා ලෙඩ ඇඳේ.. දැයක ආයු ගෙන හිටපු ජනපති සැපෙන් සුවෙන්…

December 21st, 2015

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මහින්ද රාජපක්‍ෂ මහතා දක්‍ෂ අංගම්පොර ශිල්පියෙකු බවත් ඔහු එම ශිල්පය කාලයක් තිස්සේ ප‍්‍රගුණ කරන බවද කියැවෙයි.

හිටපු ජනාධිපතිවරයා මෙසේ ක‍්‍රීඩාශීලීව සිටින්නේ සිය සමකාලීන දේශපාලඥයින් මෙන්ය පසුකාලීනයන්ද බොහෝ දෙනෙකු විවිධ දුබලතාවන්ට පත්ව තිබියදීය.

ඔහු අදද තරුණයෙක් සේ සිය නෑ හිතවතුන්ගේ මළ ගෙවල්, මඟුල් ගෙවල්, බණ පිරිත් ගෙවල්වලට මෙන්ම රට පුරා වෙහෙර විහාරස්ථානවලටද ගොඩවන්නේ පෙර ලෙසින්මය. යනෙන සියළු තැන ඔහු වටා ජනයාද පිරෙයි. දරුවන් දණ ගසා වඳියි.

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This photograph captured by MP Namal Rajapaksa and posted on his Facebook account shows former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a rare Yoga position the day after he celebrated his 70th birthday, with Yoga instructor Nandana Siriwardena seated beside. MP Rajapaksa wished a very happy birthday to Yoga instructor Siriwardena whose birthday falls today (20) and also wished him long life enough to be the yoga instructor of the MP’s children as well.

mahindadoingyoga

හිටපු ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ පෙර පින්තූර කිහිපයක්…

mahindadoingyoga2

හිටපු ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්‍ෂ මහතා ඉතා හොඳින් ප‍්‍රගුණ කල අයෙකුට පමණක්  කල හැකි අසීරු යෝගා අභ්‍යාසයක යෙදී සිටින අයුරු දැක්වෙන පින්තූරයක් පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත‍්‍රී නාමල් රාජපක්‍ෂ මහතා සිය ෆේස්බුක් ගිණුමට එක් කර තිබේ.

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This Is What Justice Looks Like in Saudi Arabia One Sri Lankan housemaid has been saved from a stoning death—for now. Others are still dying.

December 21st, 2015

BY JONAH COHEN AND RAMYA CHAMALIE JIRASINGHE Courtesy NEW REPUBLIC

December 21, 2015
A Sri Lankan woman sentenced to be stoned to death on charges of adultery has been granted a reprieve, but she is far from safe.

Signal

Beaten like slaves, treated like merchandise, these women are among the fortunate ones. Other young Sri Lankan housemaids, working for two dollars a day, never return home.

JONAH COHEN AND RAMYA CHAMALIE JIRASINGHE
A married housemaid, she received the death penalty while the man, also a Sri Lankan migrant worker, was given 100 lashes, the New Republic reported earlier this month. Since that article appeared, we received word that the Canadian embassy to Saudi Arabia would try to assist the woman.

The court has now agreed to reopen her case for appeal. But the public still doesn’t know her name, for whom she was working, what she testified in court, or who bore witness against her. Not her family, not even her “betrayed” husband, knows that she stands to be executed.

Why won’t her name be released? Officials involved with the case claim she doesn’t want her family to know how far she’s fallen, that she’d feel humiliated. But it’s hard to believe that the same court that would stone a woman to death would also protect her from the sting of social scandal. It’s just as likely that the housemaid’s name is being concealed to stifle media attention, as well as to imply her shame and guilt over a sexual crime for which her male judges might kill her.
If she does somehow survive Saudi Arabia’s judicial system, and makes it out of the country, she will be among the countless migrant women who have returned home with horrific stories.

“Now I have become a prostitute. I have come back home a prostitute,” says the woman in this video as she recounts the horror of her experience as a maid in Saudi Arabia. “The house I was working in threw me out on to the road. When I got into a taxi on the road, the driver took me to a brothel. I had to work as a prostitute for two months.”

Another woman says that she was tasked with looking after 14 children. “When I couldn’t manage, instead of taking me back to my agency, they sold me to another agency. And at that agency they hit me until I started bleeding from my skull.”

Beaten like slaves, treated like merchandise, these women are among the fortunate ones. Other young Sri Lankan housemaids, working for two dollars a day, never return home.

You might have heard about the young woman who was beheaded in Saudi Arabia in 2013. But you probably haven’t heard of the underage housemaid whose corpse was just returned earlier this month to her parents in Sri Lanka.

She hanged herself in the spring. Or so it is claimed by Saudi authorities. Her parents are skeptical. “I have doubts that someone who was supposed to come home in May would kill herself like this,” her father says. “She called us and said she was coming in May.”

Her parents had to fight tooth-and-nail to obtain her remains. “All the agency wanted to do was bury her in Saudi Arabia,” her mom says. “No one knows her there; this is our motherland, I wanted to bury her here.” The girl’s body was returned home many months later, rendering an autopsy all but useless.

Some might argue that these abused girls are outliers in an otherwise functional business relationship between the Middle East and Asia. There are, after all, about 2.1 million domestic workers in Middle Eastern countries. In Saudi Arabia, one of the largest employers, there are around 785,000 such workers, two-thirds of whom are women. Surely, the vast majority are fine.

But abuse isn’t an aberration. Namini Wijedasa, a Sri Lankan journalist, recently reported that “the tales of misery are too numerous to ignore.”

Few, if any, of these migrant workers receive the protection of domestic employment laws. Visiting workers in Saudi Arabia must obtain permission from their employers to exit legally from the kingdom. If that is not slave labor, what is?

There’s also an utter lack of due process for these workers, and condemned prisoners are silenced, as is likely the case with the Sri Lankan housemaid charged with adultery.

Her future—whether she will live or die—remains uncertain. In the next month or so, pious men will once again stroll into a courtroom and pass judgment on her. Maybe they’ll have her stoned to death or thrown in prison, where there’s a good chance she’ll be raped by prison guards, like so many imprisoned workers before her.

But even if the court sets her free, justice won’t be served: Nobody will pay for the injustices done to her.

Jonah Cohen holds a PhD from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.
Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe is an award-winning poet and deputy director to the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission.


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