Minister Amunugama – Promote the Alliance of Buddhist Nations while acknowledging Senaka Weeraratne who conceived the idea

July 17th, 2018

On 9th July 2018 the ‘Island’ Newspaper carried a report titled Minister Amunugama proposes alliance of Buddhist countries in the region”. Minister Sarath Amunugama declared that he would initiate the alliance while attending a seminar for heads of Pirivena in Kandy.

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=187627

While welcoming an initiative of this nature given that other international Buddhist organisations such as the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) do not provide a voice for the Buddhists worldwide but prefer to restrict itself to fellowship exclusively leaving threatened Buddhist communities and Buddhist nations without an international voice on par with say the Organisation of Islamic Co – operation (OIC) or European Union (EU), which take up the grievances of Muslims and Christians, it must be noted however that this idea was initially promoted in the form of a League of Buddhist Nations by Mr. Senaka Weeraratna, Attorney –at – Law, Hony. Secretary and Trustee of the German Dharmaduta Society and Chapter Leader of the Dharma Voices for Animals, Colombo, Sri Lanka Chapter, and a regular contributor to newspapers and journals on a variety of topics including Global Buddhism, Animal Rights and Colonialism.

Mr. Senaka Weeraratna has written numerous articles over the years on this regional alliance & it is strange that Government Ministers or Public Officials do not appear to have read a single article of his to realize the need & potential of such a regional alliance. Sadly, India is now using Buddhism as a soft power tool as its politically strategic pivot to Asia.

Given below are a handful of articles written by Mr. Senaka Weeraratna promoting the League of Buddhist Nations:

1)    League of Buddhist Nations – An idea whose time has come

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,10167,0,0,1,0#.W0UDa9IzaUk

2)      The Crisis facing the Buddhist World – The Buddhist World lacks an effective mechanism to help save a Buddhist Nation in Danger”

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,11783,0,0,1,0#.W01n5dIzaUl

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/06/01/the-buddhist-world-lacks-an-effective-mechanism-to-help-save-a-buddhist-nation-in-danger/

http://hlaoo1980.blogspot.com/2014/04/buddhist-world-in-crisis-buddhist.html

3)    The Voices of threatened Buddhists must be heard at the UN Day of Vesak 2017 Conference

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/03/11/the-voices-of-threatened-buddhists-must-be-heard-at-the-un-day-of-vesak-2017-conference/

4)    China must lead the Buddhist World

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,12756,0,0,1,0#.W01r5NIzaUk

2014 – China taking lead of Buddhist World http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=3386

It has become fashionable to suggest alliances of this nature whenever a Buddhist foreign dignitary is arriving or simply to curry favour with the majority Buddhist community. How sincere in going forward with these suggestions has been proven by the fact that neither has the government made foreign ministry desk initiatives or given instructions for the Buddha Sasana Ministry to make the initial connections or rallied the Buddhist Associations/Organizations to help launch the initiative.

UDRS (or DRS) in International Cricket

This is not the only time that credit has been denied to Mr. Senaka Weeraratna. He has been engaged in a sole battle to claim ownership of the ‘Player Referral’ concept which underlies the UDRS ( Umpire Decision Review System), a brainchild he came up with in 1997 for which the International Cricket authorities i.e. ICC,  are not giving him due acknowledgment while the Sri Lankan Cricket Board & even Sports Ministry/Minister are not willing to take up for if UDRS is renamed the Weeraratne Rule it not becomes a proud moment for only Mr. Weeraratna but also a feather on the cap for Sri Lanka.

https://www.onlanka.com/news/decolonize-cricket-re-name-udrs-as-the-weeraratna-rule.html

https://cricketique.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/the-drs-in-cricket-and-senaka-weeratnas-early-initiatives/

https://www.onlanka.com/news/recognition-of-authorship-of-udrs-conspiracy-of-silence-detrimental-to-sri-lanka.html

http://archives.dailynews.lk/2013/01/29/fea03.asp

It is unfortunate that Sri Lankans have no time to speak on behalf of others deserving justice & fair play and it is also unfortunate that even credit due to people who originate the idea (intellectual property)  is also completely forgotten. These are shallow qualities that we Sri Lankans cannot be proud of.

Mr. Amunugama or any other are more than welcome to carry forward the idea of an Alliance of Buddhist Nations but due credit and acknowledgement must be given to the person who came up with the original idea of a League of Buddhist Nations and publicized it worldwide.

Shenali D. Waduge

Anglican church opposes hasty decision to hang

July 17th, 2018

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

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

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Full text of the statement by the Rt. Rev. Bishops is as follows: It has been reported that the President and the Cabinet of Ministers have taken a decision to authorize prison authorities to resume the execution of those sentenced to death for drug related crimes and are yet continuing to be involved in the drug trade while in prison.

As Christians, we believe that all people are made in the image of God and are therefore imbued with the spark of the divine within them however obscured and hidden it may be. This is why the taking of human life is expressly condemned by the Church, whether be man or by the state.

The Church of Ceylon (Anglican Church) cannot therefore in any way agree with this move, which we believe has been rushed into without proper reflection in the backdrop of criticism and public disquiet about the spate of gang related murders and shootings in the recent days.

Engagement in criminal activities outside prison by convicted persons cannot take place without the connivance of prison authorities. The government cannot absolve itself from its duty to devise ways of minimizing such occurrences. It must take quick but well designed steps to put into place strong security measures to prevent such incidents and obtain services of experts here and even abroad if required. It cannot resort to hanging people to escape its own obligations.

Sri Lanka halted judicial executions more than 40 years ago. Although several governments in the past have tried to re-imposed the death penalty wiser counsel has always prevailed.

This does not mean that we are unconcerned about the drug menace. We are indeed very deeply concerned by this widespread and very dangerous threat especially to the young people of our country and its consequences on wider society.

The church is willing to join and offer our assistance to the government in this regard in the educational sector.

We therefore re-iterate our opposition to this decision. It is widely spoken including in government circles that is is the ‘sprats’ who are being caught and punished while the ‘sharks’ are allowed to remain free to carry on their business, profitable to many even politicians it is said. The law ought and must be applied in full force equally to all involved in this destructive trade.

“WAR CRIMES” IN EELAM WAR IV Part 7

July 17th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

In the history of wars, Sri Lanka alone stands out as the one country which is penalized for winning a secessionist war. This is one of the most bizarre outcomes of Eelam War IV, observed H.L.D Mahindapala. There has been no previous example of a   war winning army being subjected to an international inquiry. Instead of commending the armed service of Sri Lanka for it unique victory over an implacable foe, Sri Lanka’s extraordinarily brave soldiers are being virtually condemned for the act, complained analysts.

Can any reader inform me whether there has been any country other than Sri Lanka where a country victorious in war decided to pursue punitive action against its own military personnel for alleged wartime ‘atrocities’ asked an observer. Also it there any other country which has launched action to harass and humiliate the commanders of the three forces who were equally responsible for the victory.

Eelam War IV falls into the category of wars known as ‘non-international armed conflicts’ (NIAC) where an armed group launches high intensity battles with the security forces of a country. But Eelam War IV was not the usual insurgency. It was not a ‘terrorist’ war at all. It was a secessionist war, fought against the legitimate government of the country for control of territory. Sri Lanka had every right to crush it.

A sovereign state is entitled, indeed expected, to protect its territory from such disruptive forces. Article 3 paragraph 1 of Additional Protocol II  states: “Nothing in this Protocol shall be invoked for the purpose of affecting the sovereignty of a State or the responsibility of the government, by all legitimate means, to maintain or re-establish law and order in the State or to defend the national unity and territorial integrity of the State”.

‘UN Declaration on Principles of international Law concerning Friendly relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the UN’ (1970)   opposed any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or color. The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable. (Clauses 5.7, 6.2d)

 

The military victory in the final war was total. The entire guerrilla leadership was wiped out. It was a hard fought victory. Elsewhere such a victory would have been cheered and supported by all countries. Sri Lanka however found to its surprise that it was the target of a war   crimes charge manufactured in the west. Sri Lanka Army is   criticized, when it deserves accolades and proper recognition, said others.

 

There is a good reason for this. The Eelam defeat was not simply a defeat for the Tamils, it was also a defeat for USA. The Eelam war was  never a local movement. The Eelam war was funded  and directed by the US with support from its allies. The Tamil speaking ‘boys’ in Jaffna could never have sustained  such a  lengthy war. They were only the front, the force behind it was the US .

 

The US  tried  hard to push a LTTE victory. The LTTE did not know warfare and lacked the power to break through army lines,  so the only way to make them win was by  weakening the state forces. War crimes trials, pulling out troops from Jaffna, retiring the most successful Army officers, and drastically downsizing the Army were all recommended by hired Western military experts well before 2005, said retired Major General Lalin Fernando.  The conspiracy against the Army was hatched by the West many years ago, he observed.

 

The US next tried to stop the final phase of the war. Newton observed, ‘the warning of the U.S. Ambassador that strikes should not be undertaken against clearly identified military objectives when the LTTE used the presence of civilians in the so-called NFZ to launch military strikes is both naive and unfounded in modern international law.’. US Ambassador Robert O. Blake  tried to take out Prabhakaran using the US marines based in Hawaii, said K Godage.

 

Western powers were   angry  with Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya Rajapakse for not stopping the war when they were asked to do so.  The degree of pressure that was  exerted on Sri Lanka by western countries is without parallel  said G.L.Pieris. We were hounded and intimidated by the US to stop the war.

 

The  2009 defeat was a great blow to the west. The west wanted revenge. Sri Lanka  was to be punished for defeating the LTTE. The targets would be those who had directed the war and the charge would be ‘war crimes’. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga said that war crimes should focus on the top chain of command of the Sri Lanka military, not those who carried out orders.

 

Critics observed that all charges of  war crimes began after the defeat of the LTTE. Until the Mullativu operation of 2009 began there were no allegations of any wrong doing of the Sri Lanka forces, observed Lalin Fernando. The International community and specially India observed the restraint of the army with amazement, if not disbelief.

 

The war crimes campaign led by US focuses only on the last few months of Eelam War IV,    ending in May 2009. The west which did not bother about civilian deaths for 32 years suddenly woke up to civilian casualties  just as the war ended, observed Mahindapala. Why an inquiry for the last five months of the Eelam War IV.

 

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya observed in 2011 that there was no complaint of war crimes from any of the groups that one might expect complaints to come from. The IDPs, Tamil political leaders, local rights activists, community leaders, and NGOs did not complain. Nobody in Sri Lanka is asking for such a domestic inquiry, critics said.

 

Similarly, the BBC, when covering the LLRC sittings in Vavuniya in August 2010 noted that people were talking about the difficulties they faced at present,   not about fighting in the last stage of the war. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake  traveled to Sri Lanka in early May 2011, and met with local leaders in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. He said none of them had complained about war crimes, and that their problems related to receipt of death certificates and locating of their loved ones.

 

The  current war crimes charge against  Sri Lanka was manufactured in the west.  It was probably planned and ready long before the war ended, to be used in the case of defeat. The war crimes listed in the IHL which would fit the situation were carefully picked out and slapped down on the Sri Lanka military. IHL was compulsory for the countries which had signed the Geneva conventions. This includes Sri Lanka.

The charge of war crimes started as soon as the war     ended. Channel Four” issued a series of documentaries on the supposed war crimes in Sri Lanka, the first was in 2009, and the last was in 2015. There were two UN reports alleging war crimes, Darusman (2011) and OISL (2015). They both said that there were 40,000 civilian deaths. This was an exaggerated figure, without supporting evidence, cooked up for propaganda purpose.

The Tamil Separatist Movement waited till the time was ripe and then went into action. In January 2014 the Northern Provincial Council passed a resolution calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes. This was picked up by G. Ananda Padmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International.

Global Tamil Forum welcomed the    OISL report indicating war crimes and crimes against humanity. GTF said the violations reported are most serious. They are crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The report made harrowing reading, indicating the horrific  level of abuse  suffered by the Tamil civilians at the hand of the Sri Lanka armed forces, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, denial of humanitarian assistance, ill treatment of IDPs torture and sexual violence. GTF is in full agreement with the report.

In 2015 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Geneva, announced that the Sri Lankan military had indeed committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the period of the war and beyond.” These include indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and no-fly zones, rape and sexual violence, violating the Geneva Convention by conducting summary executions of those who surrendered, enforced disappearances and more.”

Matching statements were made elsewhere, which would help to take Sri Lanka into a war crimes inquiry. For instance, UN spokesman Gordon Weiss told AFP News agency in 2009 that there was a bloodbath in the No Fire Zone. The OISL report mentioned names of important military personnel and units in such a manner that they could be charged for war crimes.

 

Sarath Fonseka declared in 2017 that wartime Security Forces Commander, Vavuniya, Jagath Jayasuriya had committed crimes during his tenure as the senior officer based in Vavuniya. Fonseka alleged that Jayasuriya had subjected those who were arrested by troops, under his command; to ‘criminal activity’. Fonseka added that he received many complaints that Jayasuriya had allegedly committed various offences. I was determined to take action against him after the war was over,” Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka added. However, Sarath Fonseka was in China from May 1 and returned on May 17 observed Shavendra Silva.

 

The government of Sri Lanka helped the war crimes plan by using ‘all the wrong words’. Sri Lanka made a mistake in calling the last phase of Eelam war IV a ‘Humanitarian mission.’  ‘It was just a name we used, said Gotabhaya. There was the motive of rescuing people. It had nothing to do with human rights. The government also idiotically announced that there were zero casualties, when there cannot be zero casualties in such a protracted war.

Modern warfare is guided by the Geneva Conventions on war. These Geneva conventions resulted in a jerkily enacted set of   sanctimonious regulations known by the absurd name of ‘International humanitarian law ‘, said Chandraprema. They were intended to protect civilians caught up in war. Violations of these regulations constitute ‘war crimes’, while war itself is not declared a crime, he observed.

According to IHL, continued Chandraprema, a war must be won without harming any civilians caught in the war. The army must at all time distinguish between civilian and military objects  Attack may only be directed against military objectives, said IHL.  Priority must be given to the safety of civilians. Civilians must be protected even when they are in the middle of the fighting. If anything happens to them then it is a ‘war crime’. With laws like these, no country would be able to combat terrorism, commented Chandraprema.

Gabriella Blumm, Professor of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School agreed. She criticized IHL for the special attention given to civilians in insurgency wars, where distinguishing between civilian and combatants is difficult.  Wars today have mixed combatant-civilian populations within and without the battlefield, she said, stressing that civilian immunity is lost when civilians take part in the hostilities.

Blumm also critiqued IHL for its indifference to soldier’s lives. Human Rights activists are not interested in the protection of soldiers, she said. They appear to advocate sacrificing the lives of soldiers to protect civilians. Soldiers are legitimate targets when they are asleep in their barracks, swimming in the lake, retreating, and probably when they are on leave.

They can be attacked and killed wherever they are in and out of uniform, whether on duty or not,   opening fire on them  when they are retreating or targeting individual combatants. It does not matter whether they are fighting just or unjust wars. The only restriction is when they are captured or injured. A vast literature both in law and philosophy is dedicated to the protection of civilians in war, said Blumm,

There is some hope though. ICRC’s’ Study on Customary law of armed conflict’, said that civilians are protected against attack only if they are not used militarily. Attacks on civilians who have become participants in the war, is not a war crime if it is an essential part of the war strategy.  The military manuals of western nations such as USA, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands stated that the presence of civilians within or around military targets do not render such places immune from attack.

ICRC said that where there is doubt whether a person is a civilian, he should be given the benefit of the doubt, but Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, and UK   said that the first priority is the safety of the troops. The security of the attacking forces’ was important, they said.

Sri Lanka is not the only country currently charged with IHL war crimes. USA is facing a similar charge for similar reasons. In June 2018 US and its allies, bombed Raqqa in Syria, killing civilians and destroying homes. U.S. Army spokesman, Col. Sean Ryan came on television to announce that in this type of war, it impossible not to do so. USA had organized safe passages for residents to flee, but ISIS militants trapped them inside to use as human shields. It’s very difficult when you have an enemy that uses noncombatants, to completely avoid any casualties,” Ryan said. USA did everything it could to minimize civilian casualties. USA army used precision weapons and   selected targets with the best information available. ”

 

Amnesty International brushed this aside, saying the assault on Raqqa had killed hundreds of civilians and reduced sections of the city to rubble. The USA coalition should have adjusted its strategy.” If you rely on long-range tactics like artillery and airstrikes, then civilians are very likely to pay the price, and that appears to be what happened in Raqqa said Amnesty International. Amnesty International called on the coalition to release strike data and details on the decision-making process behind target selection.

 

How is it that the SL Army that liberated the country from LTTE after nearly 30 years of conflict during which about 100,000 died, is facing war crimes charges but not the defeated terrorist LTTE, asked Lalin Fernando. A legitimate army was being targeted for taking on terrorism whereas those who had engaged in terrorism here had been given safe haven in many parts of the world.

The main reason, it appears, is that terrorist acts, fall outside the scope of the laws of war. The laws of war neither approve nor condemn terrorist acts, which fall outside their scope said critics. Thus, LTTE is protected from the application of IHL, while the Sri Lanka Security Forces and the State are liable. The State and non-state entities cannot, and should not, be equated said Deepika Udugama, probably answering a question in her capacity as head of the HRC, Sri Lanka   LTTE has been eradicated. Therefore those who survived should be accountable, said US Ambassador in Colombo Patricia Butenis.

It is extremely difficult for a professional soldier to fight a terrorist group said the army. Those who were not familiar with the clandestine operations carried out by the LTTE would find it difficult to understand the counter measures that were required. This was a 26 year war. A lot of lessons were learned. The LTTE did not fight a clean war. Assurances to surrendering troops were always dishonored. Four cease fires were broken without warning by launching massive and devastating attacks on Army camps, killing thousands.

The army was fighting a ‘terrorist outfit’ which totally disregarded the principles of IHL at all times. LTTE summarily executed over 300 soldiers who had surrendered after the fall of the Base camp in Mullaitivu after the fall of the base camp. LTTE had tortured its Sri Lanka army captives, eyes gouged out, tongues torn out.

 

LTTE used tactics such as human shields, suicide bombers, and religious places to prevent army action or to entice the armed force to commit IHL violations.   LTTE cadres did not wear uniforms, often making it almost impossible for the Sri Lanka Army to draw clear distinctions between civilians and LTTE personnel. British Defence attaché Gash’s dispatches said “It is not possible to distinguish LTTE cadres as few are in uniform”.

Also the LTTE resorted to violence to stop the civilians form surrendering to the army.  Tamilini, a surrendered former LTTE women fighter in her book published in 2016 titled ‘Oro Kooralin Nizhalil’ (The Shadow of the Sharp Sword) states  Prabhakaran had ordered that Tamil hostages attempting to escape to be shot in their knees.

The LTTE abandoned their wounded. At the last meeting of the LTTE top command just before the war ended, they had not bothered to discuss the issue of the large group of wounded LTTE personnel. In the Anandapuram area just before the Puthu defeat,          those who survived had fled leaving both the dead and the wounded behind.

At the last meeting of the LTTE top command just before the war ended, they had not bothered to discuss the issue of the large group of wounded LTTE personnel. In the Anandapuram area just before the Puthu defeat,   those who survived had fled leaving both the dead and the wounded behind. Pottu Amman had positioned disabled cadres with explosive to thwart the army advance on Puthukuduriuppu. The Panel of experts of the UNSG had also admitted that the LTTE had prevented wounded cadres from leaving the areas in ICRC run ships.

Liability must be assessed in the light of the unique context of this war, said Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, It was a war fought under extraordinary circumstances. The battle field was a mix of civilians and LTTE. LTTE forcibly held a large civilian population within the battle zone, deliberately positioned to gain military advantage, then LTTE conducted its operation from behind the civilians.  LTTE fired their artillery from civilian inhabited areas and where hospitals were located.

it was  very difficult  therefore for the army to apply humanitarian principles.  But they were expected to do so. British MP David Milliband said that the fact that the LTTE were holding civilians does not justify the shelling of those sites and individuals. Democratic governments are held to higher standards than terrorist organisations

The west  has, with local support, set in motion Operation ’Destroy Sri Lanka’s Army’, said Lalin Fernando  Sri Lanka army alleged an international witch hunt. A section of the international community is   targeting the war winning government.There is local disapproval too. Jewellery designer Manori Jayasinghe presentation for the Colombo Art Biennale 2014 was intricate crown made of little army figurines held in place with pins.

The military noted those who had spearheaded the war against the LTTE and front line fighting formations were being relentlessly pursued on the basis of unsubstantiated UN allegations not proved in a court of law.

Yahapalana government, in obedience to the west, has shown a deep animosity towards the war winning armed forces and has gone after those who led the Eelam War. After the ‘regime change’ of January 2015, a good cross section of the entire military high command that won the war has been investigated, questioned, arrested or remanded over some criminal investigation or the other, observed Chandraprema. Chandraprema has provided a list of them.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary was questioned by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption, the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), the CID and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption. We have lost track of what he has been questioned about but they range from financial misappropriation to abduction to removing scrap iron from the abandoned KKS cement factory, said Chandraprema.

Jagath Jayasuriya, former Army Commander and Vanni Commander during the war,   was questioned by the CID in relation to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. Daya Ratnayake, former Army Commander and a key figure in the Eastern theatre of the war   was questioned by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption about the removal of scrap iron from the Kankesanturai Cement factory. Kapila Hendawitharana, former Chief of National Intelligence, was questioned by the FCID over transactions relating to a Jaffna-based satellite television group.

 

Donald Perera, former Air Force Commander and Chief of Defence Staff during the war, and Roshan Goonetilleke, the Air force Commander during the war were both questioned by the FCID regarding the 2006 MiG deal. Jayanath Colombage, Somatilleke Dissanayake and Jayantha Perera, former Commanders of the Navy were charged by the FCID over the Avant Guard case. Wasantha Karannagoda,   Navy Commander during Eelam war IV was questioned by the CID over the disappearance of several youth in 2008 – 2009.

Apart from the top ranking personnel mentioned above, second tier military officers have also been questioned, arrested, charged over various allegations. Among them are Major Gen. (Rtd) Mahinda Hathurusinghe, former Security Forces, Commander Jaffna, Major Gen. (Rtd) Udaya Perera, and Director Operations of the Army during the war, and Navy Commodore D.K.P.Dassanayake.

Dassanayake and five others were arrested and remanded in connection with a series of alleged war time abductions, unrelated to the war. Dassanayake was a highly decorated naval officer who played a major role in the Eelam War. He has been the senior officer in charge of Chalai-based deployment during the final phase of combined forces operations, said Weerasekera .

Sgt Sunil Ratnayake ,a war hero and member of the long range reconnaissance patrol, found guilty and sentenced to death in June last year for the murder of eight Tamil civilians at Mirusuvil, Jaffna in 2000 is now in death row,  he has appealed. The National War Heroes Front requested the President to pardon former Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake as the president had granted presidential pardoned 187 persons including drug dealers, rapists, and financial fraud and LTTE cadres

Many other officers have   been questioned or arrested and remanded, observed Chandraprema. Former STF commander Retd DIG K.L.M. Sarathchandra was remanded in November 2016 for allegedly misusing a vehicle belong to the STF. The photo showed an angry Sarathchandra being led away by the police. Commander R. P. S. Ranasinghe had been responsible for the detection of a C4 explosives-packed lorry meant for a suicide mission in Colombo in 2008. Having had taken the lorry packed with 1,008 kgs of C4 explosives on the Padikku beach, Trincomalee, Ranasinghe along with a Petty Officer (name not mentioned due to security reasons) brought it to a safe place. Ranasinghe has been in remand for about nine months.

The government was trying to destroy the military intelligence by portraying it as a criminal outfit, the National Freedom Front alleged.” A plot is being hatched to destroy the army intelligence unit . We call upon people not to forget that it was these very same intelligence unit members who prevented the LTTE from destroy the Colombo city, supplying intelligence reports that led to the destruction of LTTE’s political wing leader Thamilselvan and many other services that helped the then government to defeat the LTTE, said the army.”

The intelligence divisions of the armed forces were specially hunted down, with many persons ranging from senior officers to corporals and soldiers spending varying periods in remand prison. These include former Director of Military Intelligence, (DMI) Amal Karunasekera and Major Gen. Suresh Sally, also a former DMI. Former navy intelligence director Ananda Guruge and   Lt. Commander Sampath Dayananda, a navy intelligence officer attached to the Welisara navy camp were arrested over the abduction and disappearance of Vadivelu Pakkili Sami Loganathan and R. Paramananthan.

Three former intelligence officers of the Sri Lanka Navy were arrested in 2016 in connection with the murder of parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj in 2006.  They were acquitted by the High Court in December 2016 in a judgment given by Court past midnight. It was the longest hearing of a case in history of the Court, before a special Jury Committee. The examination of witnesses commenced at 10:45 a.m. and went on until midnight.

However, in January 2017, Attorney General filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal seeking a re-trial. He said that the trial process was not appropriate and reasonable to make a just and fair verdict, the jury system was not suitable for this case and   there were several deficiencies in the summing up of the trial judge. The Attorney General contended that several important legal concepts which are relevant to the case were not considered by the trial judge.

Army intelligence officers were taken into custody for attacking Upali Tennakoon and Keith Noyahr and killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga.  Some army intelligence officers have been detained for more than one and half years over the Ekneligoda killing.

Five intelligence operatives including a major have been arrested on charges of attacking journalist Keith Noyahr. The reason for their arrest was their phones being in the vicinity of the Dehiwala Telecommunication tower at the time of the abduction of Noyahr.”These officers are scheduled to face an identification parade. When they were arrested and produced before courts the authorities did not cover their faces. When they were brought before courts, journalists took their pictures, which are now in public domain. ”

Retired Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has urged the government to either prosecute or release the officers presently held in remand. They have served the armed forces well and undertaken missions at the risk of their lives. They are now were being ‘unfairly treated,’ he said. Whereas an LTTE cadre, Jeevaratnam Kirubakaran, tasked with a suicide mission, was set free.

The armed forces were arrested for other activities too, not only the Eelam War. Three persons were killed after the Sri Lanka Army was deployed to disperse a protest against a factory in Rathupaswala in 2013. In March 2017 the CID arrested three army personnel in connection with this shooting.

These arrests suited those who deeply resented the government victory in Eelam War IV. They rejoiced at the arrests and sneered at their war time achievements. ‘The arrest of Dassanayake led to the usual media spectacle accompanied by the drumming up of rhetoric’’ mocked one such supporter.  ‘Many sing praises of the Commodore and relate tales of his bravery while in service and allege that the Government was and continues to be on the hunt for war heroes.’

But Chandraprema has another explanation. This spate of investigations against armed forces personnel for various criminal activities like theft and abduction seems to be a softening up of the public for the big show. Once the public sees former and serving members of the armed forces going in an unending procession to the CID, FCID, the ‘Commission Against Bribery and Corruption’ and to the ‘Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Fraud and Corruption,’ that becomes a part of ordinary life and after people get used to it, it will be easier to bring the same personnel to other tribunals to answer allegations of war crimes, concluded Chandraprema.

The persecution of army officers did not stop there. USA and other countries have denied visas to senior commanders on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations. Several army persons have been deprived of scholarships also. Maj Gen Jagath Dias was not allowed to join an ICRC project in Australia. The US refused to accommodate Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, on a programme as he commanded the elite 53 Division in peacetime. The 53 Division killed LTTE leader Prabhakaran.

Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage was denied an Australian visa  because Australian High Commission has stated that troops under his command certainly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Gallege was in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009. Australia has identified the 59 Division credited with wresting control of LTTE Mullaitivu bastion in late January 2009 as one of the formations responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Australia has alleged that Maj. Gen. Gallege had been aware of artillery strikes on third no fire zone. Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has extensively cited Report of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) on Sri Lanka (OISL) in support.

 

There have never been specific allegations against Maj. Gen. Gallege before. Maj. Gen. Gallege, who was in the forefront of the war against the LTTE, is widely considered one of best strategists Gallage ‘had an outburst’ before Mangala Samaraweera when he visited Jaffna to launch a website for ethnic reconciliation in 2016.. He was immediately transferred to a post which did not have command of troops.

Former Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya completed his stint as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Brazil and returned to Sri Lanka. Just as he was leaving Brazil, some international human rights groups had filed war crimes lawsuits against him in Brazil and Colombia, alleging that Jayasuriya oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed and tortured thousands of civilians. Filing a court case against Jagath Jayasuriya in Brazil shows how far this insanity has gone, observed Chandraprema. It takes days and several transits just to get to Brazil even by air. How is a court in Brazil going to hear a case over events that took place in the Vanni in Sri Lanka?

The Tamil Separatist Movement, fronting for USA, and smarting over their defeat and wanting revenge, are successfully preventing Sri Lanka armed forces from joining the UN. Sri Lankan soldiers “should not be allowed to wear the blue helmet” of United Nations peacekeepers, said Canadian parliamentarian Gary Anandasangaree. Gary is TULF leader V. Anandasangaree’s son. Sri Lankan military “has a long record of rights violations, he said.

Gary Anandasangaree cited reports of Sri Lankan peacekeepers deployed to Haiti by the UN who ran a sex ring operation with children, some as young as 12. “Some 134 members of the Sri Lankan military were implicated, with 114 of these men being returned to Sri Lanka by the UN without any consequences,” he added  Given Sri Lanka’s history in Haiti, its treatment of Tamils on the island, and its history of impunity, its soldiers should not be allowed to wear the blue helmet, which is often seen as the embodiment of peace and protection of the innocent” concluded Gary Anandasangaree.

The  army had recommended Colonel Wasantha Hewage, a highly decorated officer, as the Contingent Commander of the 12th Force Protection Company (FPC) for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He was to take up his position in Feb 2018, but several pro-LTTE NGOs petitioned the UN not to grant him permission. They had found fault with Hewage for being involved in the final war.  Hewage had actively taken part in the last battle in Kilinochchi and has been awarded seven Rana Wickrama and Rana Soora gallantry medals for bravery in the face of the enemy.

Sarath Weerasekera stated that all military personnel nominated by Army Headquarters (AH) for peacekeeping missions overseas are to be vetted by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.  However, not a single Army officer or soldier due to go to Lebanon had been cleared by the HRC though the contingent was expected to be in Lebanon on 6th March 2018.

It is believed that the HRCSL is not going to give clearance to anyone who was in any of the Divisions actively taking part in the last battle or anyone awarded with gallantry medals, said Weerasekera.  Peacekeeping missions help the army personnel to get international exposure and earn some extra money. These officers are denied that opportunity because they played an active role in the war, concluded Weerasekera.   the question that  come to mind at this point is, what is the competence of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, (or anywhere else) to judge military matters related to the conduct of a  protracted, full blown war.

One of the ugliest aspects of the Eelam War is that there are local groups that also say the armed forces committed war crimes. There was a TV programme (Balaya on Hiru), in 2017 on the subject  ‘Whether a War Crimes tribunal should be held against the Sri Lankan armed forces’, The participants were Gamini Viyangoda of the ‘Puravasi Balaya’, Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, Retired head of the Civil Defence Force Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, and Journalist Shamindra Ferdinando.

The two NGO representatives were advocating that the Sri Lankan armed forces should be subject to a trial, while Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera and Shamindra Ferdinando maintained that such an exercise, in the context of the brutal LTTE campaign, could amount to treason. The European funded NGO community is back in the business bemoaning the work of the Sri Lankan armed forces, said Palitha Senanayake.

Gamini Viyangoda is a member of the ‘co-existence’ committee, along with Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, that recommended the establishment of an International tribunal to try the Sri Lankan armed forces. Viyangoda was a member of the committee that advocated the restoration of ‘all monuments, statues and cemeteries built to honor dead terrorist’. Viyangoda appears to be more concerned about the death of Prabhakaran’s young son while ‘eating a biscuit in a bunker’ in Pudumatalan added Senanayake.

The armed forces are definitely not accepting the charge of war crimes, War Veterans Association of Sri Lanka   heavily criticized the Association of War Affected Women for complaining to   UN Human rights commissioner Pillay when she came to Sri Lanka in August 2013. . But as far as I can see, they have not formally repudiated the war crimes charges, either. They have however, sporadically rejected war crimes charges which were shoved under their noses.

The army did not use heavy artillery (175mm guns and above) or cluster munitions, said Lalin Fernando.. Army denied accusations by two catholic bishops,    Rayappu and Saundranayagam that the army had used cluster bombs at the last stage of the Eelam war IV.

Ministry of Health refuted the reports made by Drs. T .Sathyamurthy RDHS Kilinocchhi and Dr T Varatharajah RDHS, Mullativu alleging that the death of several civilians have been caused due to shelling by the Sri Lanka army. They pointed out that Dr V had not carried out autopsies on the bodies, and that he had given different figure of the number of dead in two different statements. Also the two doctors had given contradictory figures in their statements. They had not reports the alleged deaths to the Ministry.  They had been silent as regards the deaths caused by the LTTE, indicating that they were pawns of the LTTE.

At one time the US and other international orgs accused the army of killing Thayapararajah during the second week of Sept 2009. His body was never found and in May 2014 he was taken into custody for entering Tamilnadu illegally. Australia issued a new passport to Kumar Gunaratnam under the name noel Mudalige. Jesuthasan antonythasan who was listed among the disappeared starred in the film Dheepan” which won an award at Cannes film festival in     2015.

Sympathetic observers have also tried to fight the army’s battle. The charge that the army killed 40,000 people must be supported by evidence of the bodies, said Rajeewa Jayaweera. Concealment of piles of skeletons or mountains of ashes resulting from an estimated 40,000 bodies in an area that is not heavily forested is a virtual impossibility, said Rajeewa Jayaweera.

A confidential UN report, based on information provided by those who were trapped in the war zone, placed the number of the dead and wounded, including LTTE combatants at 7,721 and 18,479, respectively, said Shamindra Ferdinando. The report dealt with the situation in the Vanni from August 2008 to May 13, 2009.  The War ended a week after the UN stopped collecting data due to intensity of fighting.  . Further verification can be made as the identities of those who had provided information are known to the UN, he added.

The vast majority of the wounded civilians were evacuated by the ICRC. The Indian medical team tasked with receiving them should be able to explain specific measures taken by India to assist the war wounded, continued Shamindra Ferdinando.

There was an Indian medical team at Pulmoddai, north of Trincomalee to receive the wounded transferred from Puthumathalan under ICRC supervision. The Indian team remained there until the conclusion of the war. The Indian team received several thousand wounded civilians during February-May, 2009 via sea. The government commenced transferring war wounded by sea soon after fighting blocked overland routes to and from Vanni east. Both ICRC and India can furnish details regarding evacuations by the sea, said Shamindra.

Paranagama commission found that the principal reason for loss of life during the last phase of the war was the hostage   taking and use of human shields. . Paranagama Commission found that it was the LTTE that killed majority of Tamil civilians during the last 12 hours of the final siege. What is not verified is how many hostages were actually killed by the LTTE.

Several of the leaked US diplomatic cables (Wiki leaks) supported the military, pointed out Shamindra. One leaked cable dealt with a discussion Geneva-based US Ambassador Clint Williamson had with ICRC Head of Operations for South Asia Jacques de Maio. The US envoy declared on July 15, 2009, that the Army actually could have won the battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chose a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths.

British Defence attaché in Colombo, Lieutenant Colonel Anton Gash told Lord Naseby in January 2009 that he was surprised at the controlled discipline and success of the Sri Lankan army and in particular the care that it was taking to encourage civilians to escape and how well they were looked after, and that certainly there was no policy to kill civilians.

Gash also said in his dispatches that IDPs are being cared for in Trincomalee, he said, Welfare appears to be overriding security considerations. It is not possible to distinguish civilians from LTTE cadres as few are in uniform.  Lastly, he said no cluster munitions were used.

Desmond de Silva and David M. Crane pointed out in their legal submission to the Paranagama Commission, that it is extremely unlikely that some 20,000 cadres of LTTE, at that stage, could have taken up to 330,000 hostages against their will. The probability is that a large section of the civilians went voluntarily with the LTTE  I had come to this conclusion long ago.

Allegations  that the government denied medicine food and other basic items to Vanni population should be matched against the supplies made available to Puthumathalan until the second week of May, 2009, said Shamindra.

Rajiva Wijesinghe observed that Col. Du Toit UN Security Chief in Sri Lanka was in Jaffna during the last phase of the war. Under close questioning,  Du Toit  had  admitted that while there had been firing on areas near where he had been sleeping, he could not say with any certainty from which direction the firing had come. He had brought with him large pictures of craters caused by shells, and he took out one and said that was the only shot the direction of which they could be certain of, and that had come from the direction of the LTTE forces..

‘Groundviews’  commenting on the book ‘The Cage’ by Gordon Weiss, observed that retired Colonel Harun Khan who was with the  UN convoy that went into Jaffna, in the last stage of the war, had taken photographs of the war zone.  But the only photo provided in the book was actually taken on 22nd August 2008 at 5.08pm, and not in late January 2009.

Two catholic bishops, Rayappu and Savundranayagam said that the army had killed people at St Anthony ground in Puthumathalan in January 2009. This is clearly a fabrication, said Nalin de Silva. It is known that the armed forces were not in the vicinity of St Anthony’s ground area during that particular time in January 2008.  Why did the LTTE keep silent if this was so? The bishops must be made to provide evidence.

The Sri Lankan army has formed a special unit, a Directorate of Overseas Operations to defend itself against war crimes charges, announced Army Commander, Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake, in May 2018. The Army has established its own department to clear their name is because all these years the Army has depended on others to “tell their story”, and that has failed. Different people have been saying different things, but our voice has not been heard. The Army has not told its side of the story. In the absence of adequate support from those outside the army, the Army considers it necessary to set up a department to defend the  army against these  grave charges.

The Army is keen to clear the institution’s name.  The defense has to be carried out with facts and figures. The Directorate of Overseas Operations is already engaged in the collection of the relevant material. “Different units of the army involved in the final offensive maintained figures of casualties. They must be collated.

 

There is no need to fear an inquiry since the army had not committed any violations wantonly. There was no wanton violation of the laws of war on a significant scale, continued Senanayake..A few personnel may have committed crimes, but the whole Army cannot  be blamed for that. 14 personnel who had committed objectionable acts had been punished, Most accusations of abductions or physical elimination  were made by non-residents of Sri Lanka and were based in hearsay. Only a proper inquiry would reveal the truth.

Yahapalana government has  taken  the  unprecedented action of going to the UN, in Geneva and saying that its own army committed terrible war crimes and will the international community please come and prosecute them. This should get into the Guinness Book of Records.  Because of  this, Sri Lankan citizens and the army have  come together to   challenge the Geneva resolution. That may also make it to the Guinness book of records.

Two associations   came forward to help, Federation of National Associations and Global Sri Lankan Forum. The GSLF said they decided to work with the army, to counter lies propagated by the international community and other interested parties, because it was clear that  the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration wasn’t going to  do anything of the sort.

These two organizations sponsored a team, led by Ven. Bemgmuwe Nalaka, to go to Geneva for the UNHRC session in 2017.  The team consisted of Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Mrs. Anuradha Yahampath, the Chairman of the Global Forum Mr. Wasantha Keerthiratne and several others of the Global Forum. The delegation planned to mount an offensive against the view that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes, especially during the closing stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Weerasekera said he was going to Geneva in a bid to ‘put a stop’ to war crime allegations against the Army. He took with him, a 100-page dossier of facts to buttress his arguments against the allegations. This dossier had inputs from the top brass of the army, who had fought the war  as well as lawyers and specialists in international human rights and humanitarian laws.  The dossier held statistics proving how the war was won, also how humanitarian aid was distributed in the war zone. Weerasekera hoped to meet UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein and hand over this dossier.

I will be at the debating table when the Council takes up for discussion the Resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government, on 20 March,”   he said, adding that  UN Human Rights Chief Zeid has violated his own mandate by getting involved in a sovereign country’s internal affairs.

Sarath Weerasekera and the Tamil Diaspora went head to head, at the debating table, reported the  media. The tense feeling between both sides was clearly evident when Weerasekera and members of the Trans-National Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) delivered statements at the 34th session last week.

The GSLF team also appeared at a series of meetings on the sidelines of the sessions .  Media reported that the team countered the terrorist sympathizers with valid arguments.   At  one of these side events, the TGTE called for the arrest of Weerasekera accusing him of being involved in war crimes in Sri Lanka. They wanted to  know how a ‘war criminal’  was allowed to attend a side event in Geneva. A heated exchange then ensued as Weerasekera rubbished the claims and called for the arrest of the LTTE supporters in Geneva at the time.

At another discussion there were ten or so Eelamists in a row to the right of the speaker. The YouTube clips showed them laughing at the statements of their opponents, but not too confident. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu6lc1w4FfM) There was a confrontation. Both sides hurled comments. The Eelamists tried to assault the anti-Eelamists and had to be led away. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNd_2UcF4TI) Reports from Tamil Nadu said that after a humiliating return from Geneva, Vaiko and the film producer Seaman held anti Sri Lankan demonstrations in Chennai and set fire to Sri Lankan flags.

There had been no contact between the government team and the Weerasekera team. Weerasekera said the government team ‘pretended to ignore me.’ “Harsha de Silva stated that we are abiding by that resolution and this was followed by 27 countries including China and Russia telling us to abide by the resolution. This was followed by seven or eight pro-LTTE NGOs giving a totally false picture of Sri Lanka and our armed forces. The UN was full of LTTE Diaspora represented through various NGOs. .

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera returned to a rousing welcome at the Airport (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG-0afrwJF8&t=38s) Participating in the Mokada Vune” news cut of the Derana News cast on 1st October  he expressed displeasure about the government’s failure to respond to terrorist allegations and said that the government should take a firm stand on these matters without trying to appease the Tamil separatists who are hell bent on destroying the image of Sri Lanka.

The same team returned to Geneva for the 37th UNHRC session in March 2018. You Tube shows Eric Makawitage representing Global Sri Lankan Forum   speaking at the Human Rights council on 14-03-2018. A protest organized by the Global Sri Lankans Forum (GSLF) was held outside the United Nations Office in Geneva. GSLF representatives from Italy, Britain, Denmark, Germany, France, Monaco, Sweden, and Switzerland took part in the demonstration.

GSLF said that it has taken up the responsibility to show the world that the majority of Sri Lankans reject the UN resolution on Sri Lanka, though it was endorsed by the government. The joint statement delivered at the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council on behalf of Macedonia, Montenegro, the United States, & the United Kingdom on Sri Lanka on 21 March 2018. , does not mention war crimes, that does not mean, however that the war crimes threat has gone away .it is probably hibernating. ( continued)

එදා භීෂණයට මුල් වූ නායකයන් අද නීතිය හා සාමය ගැන කතා කරනවා

July 17th, 2018

නාත්තණ්ඩිය – සමන්ප්‍රිය ජයශාන්ත හලාවත – ප්‍රසාද් පූර්ණමාල්  උපුටාගැණීම  මව්බිම

මේ රටේ සාමය සහ ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය නැති කළ අය වර්තමානයේ ඒ ගැන කතා කිරීම විහිළුවක් යැයි හිටපු ආරක්ෂක ලේකම් ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ පැවැසීය.
මාදම්පේ සමුපකාර රංග ශාලාවේ පැවැති ‘එළිය’ විද්වත් කථිකාවත 07 වැනි වැඩසටහනට සහභාගි වෙමින් ඒ මහතා මේ බව කියා සිටියේය.
එහිදී හිටපු ආරක්ෂක ලේකම්වරයා මෙසේද කීය.

මම පැවැත එන්නේ දේශපාලන පවුලකින්. මගේ පියා දේශපාලනය ආරම්භ කරන්නේ මම උපදින්නටත් කලින්. රාජපක්ෂවරුන් හම්බන්තොට ප්‍රදේශයට සේවය කරන්න පටන් ගන්නේ 1935 වසරේදී. ඒ මගේ ලොකු තාත්තාගෙන්. මගේ පියා වසර 20ක් රාජ්‍ය මන්ත්‍රණ සභාවේ සහ පාර්ලිමේන්තුව නියෝජනය කරනවා. ඊට පස්සේ මගේ සහෝදරවරුන් වන හිටපු ජනාධිපති, හිටපු අමාත්‍යවරුන් වන චමල් රාජපක්ෂ, බැසිල් රාජපක්ෂ යන අයත්, ඥාතීන් වන ලක්ෂ්මන් රාජපක්ෂ සහ ජෝර්ජ් රාජපක්ෂ, නිරූපමා රාජපක්ෂ, නාමල් රාජපක්ෂ ආදී වශයෙන් පරම්පරා තුනක් හම්බන්තොට දිස්ත්‍රික්කයේ දේශපාලනය කරපු අය. ඒ ආකාරයට රාජපක්ෂවරුන්ව පරම්පරා තුනක් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට තෝරා ගන්නේ ජනතාව තුළ යම්කිසි විශ්වාසයක් ඇති නිසයි. අපේ පියා හරි හම්බ කරපු දේ තමයි ජනතාව.

මම හිතන්නේ දේශපාලනය ඉගෙන ගත යුත්තේ පාර්ලිමේන්තුවට ඇවිත් පමණක් නෙවෙයි කියලයි. අපි දන්නවා දේශපාලනය ගැන විශාල අවබෝධයක් තියෙන අය මේ සභාවෙත් ඉන්නවා. ඒ වගේම විවිධ තනතුරු ලබා ගන්න දේශපාලනය නිසා ඇතැම් අයට අවස්ථාව ලැබෙනවා. සමහර අයට එම අවස්ථාව ලැබෙන්නේ නෑ.

අද කථිකාවතක් තියෙනවා ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය නැති වෙයිද? මිලිටරි ආණ්ඩුවක් එයිද? නීතිය නැති වෙයිද කියලා. 2005 වර්ෂයේ මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මහත්තයා ජනාධිපතිවරයා ලෙස මේ රට භාර ගන්නා අවස්ථාවේදී හැම කෙනෙක්ම දන්නවා රටේ තිබුණු තත්ත්වය. ත්‍රස්තවාදය ඒ වගේම පාතාලය සහ කුඩු ව්‍යාප්ත වෙලයි තිබුණේ. ඔහුගේ කාලය අවසන් වන විට අපිට හැකි වුණා ත්‍රස්තවාදය අවසන් කරලා මේ රටේ ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය ස්ථාපනය කරන්නට. එතුමාට හැකි වුණා පාතාලය සහ කුඩු නැති කරලා මේ රටේ නීතිය ස්ථාපනය කරන්න. මේ සෑම අවස්ථාවකම ආරක්ෂක අමාත්‍යාංශයේ ලේකම්වරයා වශයෙන් ඔහුගේ ප්‍රතිපත්ති ක්‍රියාත්මක කළේ මම. ඒ ප්‍රතිපත්ති ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීම තුළින් මේ රටේ ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය ස්ථාපනය වුණා පමණක් නෙවෙයි. නීතිය හා සාමය ක්‍රියාත්මක වුණා.

රටක් පාලනය විය යුත්තේ නීතිය හා සාමය පදනම් කරගෙන බව මා හොඳ හැටි දන්නවා. මම දන්නවා ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදයේ ඇති වටිනාකම. එදා මේ රටේ තිබුණු ත්‍රස්තවාදය අවසන් කිරීමට හමුදා නිලධාරීන් විශාල කැපකිරීමක් කළ බව ඔබ දන්නවා. ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය නැති කරන්න හදන පුද්ගලයන් ලෙස හමුදා නිලධාරීන්ට හංවඩු ගහන්න දැන් සූදානම් වෙනවා.

යුද හමුදාවේ ඕනෑම නිලධාරියකු විශ්‍රාම ගියාට පස්සේ සිවිල් වැසියකු ලෙස ඔහුට දේශපාලනය කරන්න පුළුවන්. ඒක ලංකාවේ විතරක් නෙවෙයි වෙනත් රටවලත් තියෙනවා. අද ඇමෙරිකාවේ පාලන තන්ත්‍රයේ ඉන්න බොහෝ දෙනෙක් යම් අවස්ථාවක ත්‍රිවිධ හමුදාවේ සේවය කළ අය. නමුත් ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී රටක කවදාවත් සක්‍රිය සේවයේ ඉන්න හමුදා නිලධාරියකු දේශපාලනය කරන්නේ නෑ. එහෙම සේවය කරනවා නම් ඒක මිලිටරි ආණ්ඩුවක්. ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය නැති කරන්න යනවා. මිලිටරි ආණ්ඩුවක් ගේන්න යනවා කියන මේ ආණ්ඩුවේ සක්‍රිය යුද හමුදාවේ සිටින නිලධාරියකු පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රිවරයකු ලෙස පමණක් නොව කැබිනට් ඇමැතිවරයකු ලෙසත් කටයුතු කරනවා. ෆීල්ඩ් මාර්ෂල්වරයෙක් කියන්නේ ඔවුන්ගේ අර්ථ දැක්වීම අනුවම ජීවිතාන්තය දක්වාම සක්‍රිය හමුදා සේවයේ නිරත වන නිලධාරියෙක්. විශ්‍රාම ගියහම හමුදා නිලධාරියකු නිල ඇඳුම අඳින්නේ නෑ. නමුත් ඔබ දැක ඇති විවිධ උත්සවවලදී නිල ඇඳුමින් සැරසුණු ෆීල්ඩ් මාර්ෂල්වරයෙක් ඉන්නවා. ඔහු කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලයේ සාමාජිකයෙක්. එය අපේ ව්‍යවස්ථාවට විරුද්ධයි. ඒ වගේම හමුදා නීතියට විරුද්ධයි. එහෙම ව්‍යවස්ථාව සහ නීතිය කඩ කරලා තියෙන මේ ආණ්ඩුව මිලිටරි ආණ්ඩුවක්.

මේ ආණ්ඩුව ආරම්භ කළ දිනයේ පටන්ම ව්‍යවස්ථාව උල්ලංඝනය කර තිබෙනවා. දිගින් දිගටම ව්‍යවස්ථාව උල්ලංඝනය කරනවා. අපේ රටේ ඉන්න තරුණ අයගෙන් 25%කට පමණ භීෂණ යුගයක් ගැන අවබෝධයක් නැහැ.

ඒ අය මෑත ඉතිහාසය කියවලා භීෂණ යුගය ගැන අවබෝධයක් ඇති කර ගන්න ඕනේ. ඒකට හේතුව එදා භීෂණයට මුල් වූ නායකයන් තමයි අද නීතිය හා සාමය ගැනත් ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය ගැනත් කතා කරන්නේ. මේ රටේ අවුරුදු 30ක් ත්‍රස්තවාදය තිබුණා. මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ජනාධිපතිවරයාට හැකි වුණා ඒ ත්‍රස්තවාදය නැති කරලම දාන්න. ඔහු එසේ කළේ ත්‍රස්තවාදයෙන් රට මුදා ගැනීමට සහ සාමාන්‍ය ජනතාවගේ සුබසිද්ධිය පිණිස මිසක් වෙනත් කාගෙවත් පෞද්ගලික අවශ්‍යතාවක් වෙනුවෙන් නෙවෙයි.

2015 ගෙන ගිය බොරු ප්‍රචාරවලට ජනතාව රැවටුණා. නැවතත් ජනතාව ඒ රැවටිල්ලට ලක් වන්නේ නෑ. මේ රටේ තිබුණු ත්‍රස්තවාදය අවසන් වුණාට පස්සේ ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය ස්ථාපනය කරන්නට නීතිය අනුව මේ රට පාලනය කරන්නට විශාල වැඩ කොටසක් අපි කරගෙන ගියා. අද ඔබ දන්නවා ක්‍රමයෙන් ඒ තත්ත්වය විනාශ වෙමින් යනවා. ඔබට දකින්න තියෙනවා උතුරු ප්‍රදේශයේ තියෙන ආරක්ෂාව නැති වී යන ආකාරය. ඒ වගේම දකුණේ දිනෙන් දින වැඩිවන මිනී මැරුම් පාතාලය සහ කුඩු ගැන අද කතා කරන්න වෙලා තියෙනවා. අද මේ ආණ්ඩුවේ ඉන්න ඇතැම් ඇමැතිවරුන්ම කියනවා මේවා සිද්ධ වෙන්නේ හිර ගෙදර ඉඳලා කියලා. තවත් ඇමැතිවරයෙක් කියනවා සමාජයේ තියෙන ඉහළ ආයතනවල තමයි කුඩුවල මූලිකයන් ඉන්නේ කියලා.

ආරක්ෂාව වේවා, නීතිය හා සාමය ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීම වේවා, ආර්ථිකය හෝ වේවා මේ සෑම දෙයකටම අවශ්‍ය වන්නේ තීරණ ගැනීමට හැකි නායකත්වයක්. ඒ වගේම එවැනි නිවැරැදි තීරණ ගත් විට ඒවා ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට පුළුවන් කණ්ඩායමක් අවශ්‍යයි. එදා මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ජනාධිපතිවරයා නිවැරැදි ඍජු තීන්දු ගත්තා පමණක් නෙවෙයි. එතුමාට හැකියාවක් තිබුණා තමන් ගන්නා තීරණ ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට පුළුවන් කණ්ඩායමක් තෝරා ගන්නට. එදා කොළඹ නගරය ආරක්ෂා කර ගැනීමට ඉදිරිපත් වූ පොලිස් නිලධාරීන් කිසිදු හේතුවක් නැතිව වසරකටත් ආසන්න කාලයක් හිරේ දැම්මා. ඒ අයට නඩුත් නෑ. අපිට හමුවන ව්‍යාපාරිකයන් කියන්නේ තව අවුරුද්දක් මේ විදියට ගියොත් රට සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම කඩා වැටෙයි කියලයි. මෙවැනි වකවානුවක පූජක පක්ෂයට මෙන්ම වෘත්තිකයන්ට විශාල වගකීමක් තියෙනවා මේ ආණ්ඩුව පෙරළා දමා එදා මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ජනාධිපතිවරයා කරගෙන ආපු වැඩ කොටස ඉදිරියට ගෙනියන්න. කළ යුතු වන්නේ ඒ සඳහා සූදානම් වීමයි.

නාත්තණ්ඩිය – සමන්ප්‍රිය ජයශාන්ත
හලාවත – ප්‍රසාද් පූර්ණමාල්

The proposed “Gamperaliya” may signal the end of village tanks, and tank-based agriculture.

July 16th, 2018

Chandre Dharmawardana, Canada

According to the news item that appeared in the Daily Mirror, 15-July-2018, the government plans to “hand over” the maintenance of village tanks to villagers themselves. The Prime Minster is supposed to have said:

we have decided to focus on villages. If we renovate tanks the villages will benefit from these projects. The contracts to desilt them will be given to the villagers themselves. The soil collected from desilting will be given to farmers. They can earn something from that. At the same time, the concessionary loans schemes will be launched for the rural people. The money would be pumped into the villages by these projects.

This could degenerate into  a scheme of handing over the tanks to selected political friends, who will immediately build houses on the tank bunds and other high ground. The village tanks  will be completely encroached (as it is mostly  the case) and natural habitat and tanks will be lost. The tanks will be lost for ever and replaced  by homesteads, asphalt and concrete. The present government has made many attempts to destroy agriculture in Sri Lanka, by its banning of pesticides (e.g., Glyphosate), control of fertilizers and telling farmers to not to use fertilizers (where by they end up with poor  harvests) because they contain toxins”. The latter is a complete lie.  The government banned glyphosate  in 2015 succumbing to false propaganda that it was one of the causes of kidney disease prevalent in the North-Central Province, where as it is most likely caused by drinking stagnant well water containing fluorides and magnesium ions (found in hard water).

This is a very misguided  proposal and signals the end of the village tanks which are already in bad shape. Their repair and  maintenance are  not a matter for amateurs, or for villagers who already find it hard to eke out an existence even at subsistence level. These tank cascades need a detailed plan taking account of their cascade structure. You may read Dr. Panabokke’s article about tank-cascade systems at:

http://dh-web.org/place.names/posts/small-irrigation-tanks.pdf

The Prime Minster is proposing to use the silt at the bottom of tanks for making fertilizer. The silt at the bottom of tanks has a very high level of Cadmium (Cd) and other metal toxins, and their use in compost or as fertilizers for growing food is very dangerous, and smacks of  naive thinking typical of  Ven. Ratana, Asoka Abegoonawardene, Channa Jayasumana and others who talk of the “Toxin-free” (Vasha Visha Neathi) traditional agricultural program.   The natural average  Cd  in the soils of  Sri Lanka are reported to range from 0.42 mg/kg in virgin forest soils, to values  as high as 5 mg/kg in  tank sediments {Chandrajith et al 2012}.  These numbers are consistent with values found in the WHO-sponsored study {Jayatilleke et al , 2014}. For a detailed report on such toxins in fertilizers, soil and food, their bio-availability etc., please see my most recent research paper published in Environmental Geochemistry and Health (Springer Nature B.V. 2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-018-0140-x

More detailed comments.

  1. Scale of the work.

In the old days, there was a whole hierarchy of knowledgeable people,  Wel Mudiyanses, Wel Widane’s, Wel peramukas, wel ralas, gama ralas etc. The emphasis was on the paddy fields (wel”) as they were the key and the Tank” was just the means of storing the water.  There were even caste designations with assigned duties, and mandatory labour (Rajakariya) for repairing tanks or waev”, sorow, niyara”, etc. All those traditions and know-how are lost today. Rajakariya was abolished in the 19th century. Even scholars do  not know what was known, what was handed down etc. Organizing the needed labour to do this is a Herculean task in today’s political climate where forced labour  (Rajakariya) or even paid labour  is impossible, with little  manual labour available in villages today. A more sensible solution would be to use the army, with its corp of engineers to guide the work.

  1. Tank cascades.

Today, given the state of the tanks, and the scale of the work, it is essential to use machinery and coordination of the work on tank cascades by knowledgeable irrigation engineers. One tank in  a tank cascade cannot be repaired without coordinating with what is done in another tank belonging to the same cascade. The water-feed from each tank is regulated to match what is needed downstream. This matching was done in the old days by trial and error as well as traditional knowledge, usually taking decades as these tanks were built gradually. Today, given the rapid pace of social change, nothing can await decades. Unless a master plan for each cascade is set up, and modern engineering principles are used, we will end up with a total mess.

  1. Using the silt for fertilizer etc.

This is again a simplistic proposal with little knowledge behind it. The essential requirements of a fertilizer are the macro-constituents;  namely, Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), and Phosphorous (P).  The micro-organisms in the soil also need these very same nutrients. They also need humus (decomposed plant matter) which should already be there in the soil, or supplemented with the fertilizer. If the soil is too acidic, or too alkaline, it  needs to be mixed with the right amount of  limestone, dolomite or acidifying agents. The fertilizer should be tailored to each soil, and not a mere matter of adding some tank silt mixed with decomposed straw and cow dung. Furthermore, cow-dung and such nutrients are in extreme short supply in the country.  Both straw and cow dung contain high amounts of metal toxins due to phyto-accumulation.

  1. Organic food.

The Department of Agriculture has issued a set of books, targeting each district, and specifying the type of fertilizer optimal for each soil. All that has been brushed aside and we have a destruction of scientific agriculture by Ven. Ratana and his followers. The monk says that Dr. Ranil Senanayke is a scientist who supports his views. However, Dr. Senanayake merely writes popular newspaper articles striking fear into the public mind about herbicides like glyphosate, but has not come up with any evidence against the use of such pesticides, or offered no practicable alternatives. When it is pointed out that organic agriculture” produces such low yields that the product has to be priced at 3-5 times the normal product, Dr. Ranil Senanayake claimed in an Island newspaper article that computer projections” show that organic agriculture can feed the world, if certain conditions are met.

That claim was also made by Dr. Adrian Mueller of the Swiss Organic Food Research Institute. He shows using  computer projections that organic agriculture can feed the world if the world population is sharply reduced, and if, say,  twice the amount of land and water were available. He proposed to make the land available by getting the whole world to becomes vegetarian, and stopping livestock farming. The latter suggestion is very welcome, but there is no likelihood of the world  population becoming vegetarian, or the population sharply reducing itself.  I have discussed these matters in detail in my article replying Mueller:  http://dh-web.org/place.names/posts/CD-Mueller-OrganicL.pdf

Currently about 2% (or less) of the world’s food is produced using organic methods”, and it serves to feed the frightened members of the elite class who believe that their health problems are due to the commercial food” they eat. They  refuse to admit that their decadent  life styles with high stress, no exercise, consumption of fast foods, sugar etc., are the main causes of their obesity and ill health.

To claim that fertilizers from tank silt (or, alternatively, composted urban waste) is safer than the use of conventional mineral fertilizers  is to endanger the whole country from toxins in silt and in urban waste. Fertilizer from silt or urban waste  must be subject to a chemical analysis before use in growing food.

Chandre Dharmawardana, Canada.

[The author pioneered the teaching of food science and environmental chemistry in Sri Lanka in the 1970s as part of the applied science program at Vidyodaya University, now known as the SJP university.]

Capital Punishment

July 16th, 2018

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

There is much publicity given by the press and social media about the President’s intentions to reimpose capital punishment to selective number of prisoners who were purportedly involved in drug trade.Why this discrimination ?

What about phedopiles ,rapists ,murderers who have committed multiple murders?

I cannot fathom why The president has to publicly announce that he will not hesitate to order to hang only drug peddlers? If government wants to hang them , HE could just sign the decree and execute them .Why should the state create a dialogue about the righteousness of the decree ?

Today we note that countries like Norway ,UK some EU members writing to the Sri Lankan government expressing their concern .May be government was deliberately giving publicity and create opinion that oh our leader is trying to erase drug menace but other countries who by our Fish are not allowing us   !!!

It may be another gymmik like ,compulsary rule to wear helmets,lane rules for drivers,enhanced traffic penalties etc…where imposing rules were abandoned due to protests .

If government wants to do something for the good of the country ,society and the whole population ,they should just make sure that existing rules are followed .No need to publicise

Every statement made by the rulers are to  create popularity to counter declining favourable opinions about the government ?

What they could do is just hang them

Word will go around and no time for liberals to protest

Another proposal is to expedite appeal hearings of such convicts in the newly established Courts for trying Corruption cases

Most probably people who will be tried for Corruption can also be tried for drug pedalling in the same Court house as most of the time ,corrupt politicians are drug peddlers ?..

 

ජවිපෙ පාවිච්චි කරමින් සිරිසේන – වික්‍රමසිංහ    ආණ්ඩුව ව්‍යවස්ථානුකූලව රට බෙදන්න හදනවා ” අද රට, ජාතිය, භයානක අනතුරකට පත්වෙලා “

July 16th, 2018

ආචාර්ය ගුණදාස අමරසේකර

සිරිසේන – වික්‍රමසිංහ එකතු වී රටේ ඒකීය බව නැති කරන හැටි බොහෝ දෙනකුට නොතේරෙන බව ආචාර්ය ගුණදාස අමරසේකර පවසයි.

හෙතෙම එම අදහස් පළ කළේ ‘රණවිරු දඩයම, ව්‍යවස්ථා සංශෝධන බෝම්බය සහ 2019 ජනාධිපතිවරණය’ මැයෙන් පෙරේදා (10දා) පැවැති සම්මන්ත්‍රණයකදීය. ජාතික සංවිධාන සම්මේලනය විසින් සංවිධාන කළ මේ සම්මන්ත්‍රණයේදී ආචාර්ය අමරසේකර මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේද පැවැසීය.

අද රට, ජාතිය, භයානක අනතුරකට පත්වෙලා. මේක බොහෝ දෙනකුට තේරෙන්නෙ නැහැ. මේ රට, ජාතිය මුහුණ දුන් මේ අනතුර ඒකාබද්ධ විපක්ෂයටවත් තේරෙන්නෙ නැහැ.

විදේශිකයන් රට අල්ලා ගත්තත් භෞමික අඛණ්ඩතාව නැති වුණේ නැහැ. ඉංග්‍රීසීන් පවා අපට ‘සිංහලය’ භාර දුන්නා. ඒත් මේ ආණ්ඩුව නිසා රටේ භෞමික අඛණ්ඩතාව නැති වෙනවා. මේ ආණ්ඩුව බලයට ගෙනා විදේශ බලවේගවල වුවමනා ඉටු කිරීම නිසා එසේ සිදුවී තිබෙනවා.

රට බෙදීමට අවශ්‍ය පසුබිම රට තුළත් අන්තර්ජාතිකවත් සකස් කර තිබෙනවා. ව්‍යස්ථාව මඟින් රට බෙදීම සිදු කරනවා. ජනතා විමුක්ති පෙරමුණ පාවිච්චි කරමින් 20 වැනි සංශෝධනය ගෙනත් ව්‍යවස්ථානුකූලව මේ රට බෙදන්න කටයුතු කරනවා.

ත්‍රස්තවාදය නිමා වූ පසුව උතුරු පළාත් සභාව රට බෙදීමේ මානසිකත්වය උතුර තුළ ඇති කර තිබෙනවා. අපි කියූ දේ අහල පළාත් සභාව පිහිටුවන්නෙ නැතිව මධ්‍යම ආණ්ඩුව උතුරේ ජනතාවගේ හිත දිනාගත්ත නම් මේ ගැටලු නැහැ. උතුරු පළාත් සභාව එම ප්‍රදේශය සංවර්ධනය නොකර තවත් ප්‍රභාකරන් කෙනෙක් බිහිවෙන්න අවශ්‍ය පසුබිම සකසනවා.

උතුර කොටි ත්‍රස්තවාදය, බෙදුම්වාදය සඳහා අවශ්‍ය පසුබිම සකස් කරනවා. දකුණේ දේශපාලකයෝ එය සාධාරණීකරණය කිරීමට අවශ්‍ය පසුබිම සකස් කරනවා. ඒ සඳහා අන්තර්ජාතික පසුබිමත් සකසනවා. මේ රට බෙදීමේ ක්‍රියාමාර්ගය මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලය හරහා සිදු කරනවා.

මේ රටේ හමුදාවේ අත්පා බැඳලා දුර්වල කරනවා. ත්‍රස්තවාදයට බියක් සැකක් නැතිව නැඟී සිටින්න පරිසරයයි එහෙම සකස් කරන්නෙ. හමුදාව අඩු කරලා කඳවුරු අඩු කරලා බෙදුම්වාදයට උඩගෙඩි දෙනවා.

ඇමති මංගල විසින් නොම්මර එකේ කුඩු ජාවාරම්කරුවන් යයි නොකියා කියන්නේ අගමැති රනිල්ටද..? ඇමති රුවන්ටද…?

July 16th, 2018

අරවින්ද අතුකෝරල lanka C news

ඔය හිරගෙවල් වල ඉන්නෙත් දෙවැනි පෙළේ ඉන්න කුඩු බිස්නස් කාරයෝ. මේ රටේ පළවෙනි පෙලේ කුඩු බිස්නස් කාරයෝ වෙන කොහෙවත් නෙවෙයි  ඉන්නේ හොද හොද  ලයන්ස් ක්ලබ් වල, රොටරි ක්ලබ් වල, බෞද්ධ සංවිධානවල සභාපතිවරු හැටියට ප්‍රධාන උපාසක මහත්වරුන් මහත්මියන් හැටියටයි මේ අය ඉන්නේ. මම මේ දන්නා නිසයි කියන්නේ’ යනුවෙන්  මුදල් සහ ජනමාධ්‍ය අමාත්‍ය මංගල සමරවීර මහතා පසුගිය දින  මාධ්‍ය හමුවක් අමතමින්  සිදුකරන ලද  ප්‍රකාශයට එරෙහිව පිවිතුරු හෙළ උරුමය විසින්  පොලිස්පතිතුමා වෙත පැමිණිල්ලක් කොළඹ කොටුව  පොලිස් මූලස්ථානයේ දී සිදු කරන ලදී.

එම අවස්ථාවේදී මාධ්‍ය වෙත අදහස් දැක්වූ පිවිතුරු හෙළ උරුමයේ නියෝජ්‍ය නායක මධුමාධව අරවින්ද මහතා සහ පක්ෂයේ ප්‍රචාරක ලේකම් නීතීඥ තුෂාර දිසානායක මහතා දැක්වූ අදහස්.

මංගල කළේ බරපතල අපහාසයක් –  මධුමාධව අරවින්ද

වගකිවයුතු අමාත්‍යවරයෙක් වශයෙන් මංගල සමරවීර අමාත්‍යවරයා ඉතා බරපතල ප්‍රකාශයක් වගේම අපහාසාත්මක ප්‍රකාශයක් පසුගිය 13 වැනිදා පැවැති  මාධ්‍ය  හමුවකදී සිදුකරනවා. එහිදී එතුමා සඳහන් කරනවා මේ මොහොතේ වැලිකඩ මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය ජාවාරම්කරුවන් වශයෙන් සිටින පිරිස නොවෙයි ලංකාවේ මුල්පෙළේ අපරාධකරුවන්  කියලා.  ඒ වගේම එතුමා කියනවා  මුල්පෙළේ  ජාවාරම්කරුවන් සිටින්නේ කොහෙදැයි එතුමන් දන්නා බව. සිංහ සමාජයේ,  රොටරි සමාජයේ, වගේම උපාසක මහත්වරුන් ලෙසින් පන්සල් ආශ්‍රිතවත් මෙම පළමු පෙල මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය ජාවාරම්කරුවන්  කටයුතු කරන බව එතුමා කියනවා.

මේ මොහොතේ ජනාධිපතිවරයා ඇත්තට හෝ බොරුවට රටේ මරණ දණ්ඩනය ක්‍රියාත්මක කරන තැනට ප්‍රශ්නය ලොකු කර ගත් අවස්ථාවක, මෙම මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය ජාවාරමේ යෙදෙන  ප්‍රධාන  පෙලේ පිරිස අමාත්‍යවරයා හොඳින්ම දන්නා නිසා  අපි පොලිසියට ආරාධනා කළා මංගල සමරවීර අමාත්‍යවරයාගෙන් ප්‍රශ්න කරලා ඒ මුල් පෙලේ මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය ජාවාරම්කරුවන් අපරාධකරුවන් අත්අඩංගුවට ගන්න කියලා.

ඒ වගේම ලංකාවේ වැදගත් මිනිසුන් සිය සමාජ සේවා කටයුතුවල යෙදෙන සිංහ සමාජයේ ඔබ සාමාජිකයෙක් නම් රොටරි සමාජයේ ඔබ සාමාජිකයෙක් නම් ඔබට මේ අගෞරවය දැනුණේ නැද්ද? විශේෂයෙන්ම නොම්මර එකේ කුඩුකාරයන් ඉන්නේ සිංහ සමාජයේ කිව්වට පස්සේ මෙවැනි සංවිධානවල සාමාජික සාමාජිකාවන් කොහොමද සමාජයේ කටයුතු කරන්නේ. ඒ වගේම උපාසක මහත්වරුන් කටයුතු කරන්නේ පන්සලත් එක්ක. ඒ නිසා මේ එල්ලන්නට හදන්නේ පන්සලට යන මිනිස්සු නම් මේ එල්ලන්නට හදන්නේ සමාජයේ වැඩදායි මිනිසුන් නම් ඒ අපහාසයටත් එතුමා පිළිතුරු දීම අවශ්‍යයි.

මංගල නොම්මර එකේ කුඩු ජාවාරම්කරුවන් ලෙස හඳුන්වන්නේ   රනිල්ද?  රුවන්ද ? –  තුෂාර දිසානායක

අපරාධකරුවෙක් පිළිබඳව දැනුවත් වෙලා අපරාධයක් සැඟවීම සහ අපරාධකරුවෙකු සැඟවීම වරදක් ලෙසයි අප දකින්නේ. ඒ අනුව මංගල පි. සමරවීර ඇමතිවරයා විසින්  නොම්මර එකේ කුඩු ජාවාරම්කරුවන් පිළිබඳ දැනගෙන ඒ පිළිබඳ මාධ්‍ය හරඹයන් කරනවට වඩා මීට අදාළ ආයතන වලට එම තොරතුරු යොමු නොකළේ ඇයි කියන ප්‍රශ්නය අප සතුව තිබෙනවා.

අපරාධයක් වසන් කිරීමේ වරදට මංගල පී  සමරවීර අමාත්‍යවරයා වරදකරුවෙකු වන නිසා ඔහුට විරුද්ධව නීතිය ක්‍රියාත්මක කරන්න කියන ඉල්ලීම තමයි අද පොලිස් මූලස්ථානයෙන් පොලිස්පතිවරයාගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටියේ.

ඒ වගේම මගේ දැනුවත්වීම අනුව මේ රටේ අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ මැතිතුමා සහ ‍ෙ රාජ්‍ය ආරක්ෂක අමාත්‍ය රුවන් විජේවර්ධන මැතිතුමා බියගම සිංහ සමාජයේ සාමාජිකයන් දෙදෙනෙක්. ඒ අනුව මංගල පින්සිරි සමරවීර අමාත්‍යවරයා දන්න නොම්මර එකේ කුඩු ජාවාරම් කරුවන් ලෙස හඳුන්වන්නේ මෙතුමන්ලා ද කියන ප්‍රශ්නය අපට පැන නගිනවා.

ඒ නිසා අපි මංගල සමරවීර ඇමතිතුමා මෙලෙස වගකීම් විරහිතව රටේ සම්භාවනීය මිනිසුන් අරබයා සිදුකරන ලද මේ චෝදනාව හෙලාදකින අතරම මේ රටේ අපරාධකරුවන් ගැන දැනුවත් වී අපරාධයන් ගැන දැනුවත් වී ඒ පිළිබඳ අදාළ අංශ වෙත තතු නොකීම පිළිබඳව වූ චෝදනාව අපි ඔහු වෙත එල්ල කරනවා. එය දණ්ඩ නීති සංග්‍රහය යටතේ වරදක්. ඒ නිසා මේ  සම්බන්ධයෙන් ක්‍රියාමාර්ග ගනීවි යැයි බලාපොරොත්තු වෙනවා.

පිවිතුරු හෙළ උරුමයේ ප්‍රධාන ලේකම් උපුල් විජේසේකර සංස්කෘතික කටයුතු ලේකම් උපුල් කෝනාර යන මහත්වරුන්ද මෙම අවස්ථාව සඳහා සහභාගී විය.

– අරවින්ද අතුකෝරල

EU tells Lanka it opposes death penalty “unequivocally”

July 16th, 2018

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, July 16: The Delegation of the European Union, the missions of the EU Member States in Sri Lanka, as well as the diplomatic missions of the Governments of Canada and Norway in Sri Lanka, have written to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to verify the worrying information in the public domain about the intention of the Sri Lankan government to resume implementing the death penalty after a moratorium of more than 40 years.”

The diplomatic missions made it known to the President that they strongly and unequivocally oppose capital punishment in all circumstances and in all cases.”

The letter further said: The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity, does not have any proven deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become fatal and irreversible.”

EU tells Lanka it opposes death penalty “unequivocally”

The diplomatic missions have requested the President to maintain the moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty and to uphold Sri Lanka’s tradition of opposition to capital punishment.

Background

Earlier this month, the Sri Lankan President had publicly stated that he would start signing death warrants in the case of drug traffickers who continue to deal in drugs even while being in the death row.

The President said this after customs and police had seized huge consignments of drugs in the past two and a half years. The recent seizure of  104 kg of heroin worth US$ 7.5 million was the last draw on his back.

Meanwhile, the drug taking habit had been growing  among the youth in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was ceasing to be a transit point and was slowly becoming a destination for drugs.

Subsequently, the President submitted a paper to the cabinet asking for its approval to revive capital punishment for drug dealers who continue to play their trade even from the death row. Though courts continued to give the death sentence for murder, terrorism and drug trafficking, there was a moratorium on executions since 1976.

The cabinet approved the paper even though many key ministers from the alliance partner, United National Party (UNP), spoke against it.

Since then, the media has been carrying views both for and against the re-imposition of the death penalty.

While the average citizen was for judicial executions, the intelligentsia were against it saying that it is not a deterrent. Human rights activists like Amnesty International brought out the issue of innocents, the poor and the marginally involved, being sent to the gallows while the well connected and the wealthy escaped.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in a statement that the kingpins of the drug trade could be from the highest echelons of society who are members of posh clubs.

President Sirisena with Finance Mangala Samaraweera

He further said: Certain individuals connected to the drug trade try to cover their sins by being benefactors of society, holding high positions in various organizations or as philanthropists in religious organizations.”

Others asked why police and prison officials who willfully allow drug trafficking in jails and gain by it should not be sentenced to death and hanged.

In Sri Lanka the death sentence is given for possessing or trafficking more than 2 gm of dangerous narcotics like heroin or cocaine.

According to the police, there are 18 drug traffickers in the death row. Their names have been sent to the President for further action.

But the million dollar question is: Will the President sign the death warrants, given the international opposition and legal arguments against the selective application of judicial execution.

The President cannot selectively apply execution to one class of crime when there is a moratorium on all executions .It will be a violation of the constitutional right to equality before the law,” said Colombo University senior lecturer of law, V.T.Thamilmaran.

Additionally, Sri Lanka is already facing human rights issues in the UN Human Rights Council and is a co-sponsor of a resolution on them. Sri Lanka will invite censure in the UNHRC if it re-introduces judicial executions,” Thamilmaran added.

(The featured image at the top shows the Welikade prison in Colombo)

Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution by U.S. stuns World Health Officials

July 16th, 2018

Extracted from: Text reproduced verbatim by Dr. B. J. C. Perera, Specialist Consultant Paediatrician.

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations. American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs. The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States. Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s. “What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,” she said.

In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure; and the Americans did not threaten them.

The State Department declined to respond to questions, saying it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. The Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in the effort to modify the resolution, explained the decision to contest the resolution’s wording but said H.H.S. was not involved in threatening Ecuador. “The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children,” an H.H.S. spokesman said in an email. “We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.” The spokesman asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.

Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington’s strong-arm tactics. The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations.

The intensity of the administration’s opposition to the breast-feeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported W.H.O.’s longstanding policy of encouraging breast-feeding. During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said. Washington is the to the health organization, providing $845 million, or roughly 15 percent of its budget, last year.

The confrontation was the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues. In talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Americans have been that would limit the ability of Canada, Mexico and the United States to put warning labels on junk food and sugary beverages, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times. During the same Geneva meeting where the breast-feeding resolution was debated, the United States succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity.

The Americans also sought, unsuccessfully, to thwart aimed at helping poor countries obtain access to lifesaving medicines. Washington, supporting the pharmaceutical industry, has long resisted calls to modify patent laws as a way of increasing drug availability in the developing world, but health advocates say the Trump administration has ratcheted up its opposition to such efforts. The delegation’s actions in Geneva are in keeping with the tactics of an administration that has been upending alliances and long-established practices across a range of multilateral organizations, from the Paris climate accord to the Iran nuclear deal to Nafta.

Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, said there was a growing fear that the Trump administration could cause lasting damage to international health institutions like the W.H.O. that have been vital in containing epidemics like Ebola and the rising death toll from diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the developing world. “It’s making everyone very nervous, because if you can’t agree on health multilateralism, what kind of multilateralism can you agree on?” Ms. Kickbusch asked.

A Russian delegate said the decision to introduce the breast-feeding resolution was a matter of principle. “We’re not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world,” said the delegate, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He said the United States did not directly pressure Moscow to back away from the measure. Nevertheless, the American delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.

In the end, the United States was largely unsuccessful. The final resolution preserved most of the original wording, though American negotiators did get language removed that called on the W.H.O. to provide technical support to member states seeking to halt “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.” The United States also insisted that the words “evidence-based” accompanying references to long-established initiatives that promote breast-feeding, which critics described as a ploy that could be used to undermine programmes that provide parents with feeding advice and support.

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease. A found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $ from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk. Scientists are loath to carry out double-blind studies that would provide one group with breast milk and another with breast milk substitutes. “This kind of ‘evidence-based’ research would be ethically and morally unacceptable,” Ms. Sterken said.

Abbott Laboratories, the Chicago-based company that is one of the biggest players in the $70 billion baby food market, declined to comment. Nestlé, the Switzerland-based food giant with significant operations in the United States, sought to distance itself from the threats against Ecuador and said the company would continue to support on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, which calls on governments to regulate the inappropriate promotion of such products and to encourage breast-feeding.

In addition to the trade threats, Todd C. Chapman, the United States ambassador to Ecuador, suggested in meetings with officials in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, that the Trump administration might also retaliate by withdrawing the military assistance it has been providing in northern Ecuador, a region wracked by from Colombia, according to an Ecuadorean government official who took part in the meeting. The United States Embassy in Quito declined to make Mr. Chapman available for an interview.

“We were shocked because we didn’t understand how such a small matter like breast-feeding could provoke such a dramatic response,” said the Ecuadorean official, who asked not to be identified because she was afraid of losing her job

Constitution Reforms and the 13th Amendment

July 16th, 2018

Prof. N.A.de S. Amaratunga 

Constitution making is serious business. Even amendments to it must be made after careful consideration and with consensus among representatives of the people and if possible in consultation with the people. This government formed of an assorted mix of political interests and opportunist groups had not collectively received a mandate to tamper with the constitution. But it has already brought in far reaching amendments and seems to be determined to bring in radical changes or an entirely new constitution which would in the opinion of experts have critical bearing on the sovereignty and territorial integrity. The claim that this is done in consultation with the people does not hold water for the response received by the committee that went before the people  was not from a cross section that could be considered representative of the population. More importantly the views on this matter of the people’s representatives that form the present parliament are so divergent that consensus would be almost impossible unless ministerial posts, luxury car permits, penthouse comfort, Tamil votes and such assume greater value than sovereignty of the people and territorial integrity of the country.

The so called Tamil problem or Ethnic problem assume centre stage in any discussion on constitution reforms in Sri Lanka for several reasons. The Tamils have been demanding a separate state from times before independence. The 13th Amendment was imposed on us by India for geopolitical and hegemonic reasons than as a solution for the Tamil problem. LTTE terrorism continued despite the 13th A until the LTTE was defeated, but its surrogate and remnants, regional and Western hegemonic powers continue to pressure the government for the establishment of a separate state or a stepping stone to it. It is via the 13th A and its full implementation with land and police powers that separatists backed by the western powers could achieve their goal. Hence the proxy of the LTTE the TNA and the CM of the NPC ask for a federal state. The opportunist anti-national high-ups in the government try their utmost to give federalism while avoiding the word federal and also pretending to accommodate all views. If land and police powers are granted to the NPC in the present circumstances it would be the stepping stone the Tamil separatists want.  The police powers in the hands of an antagonistic centrifugal NPC could be used for the development of an armed insurgent force that would bid its time to strike and all that our armed forces had achieved at great sacrifice would be negated and the country would be back at war. Then the regional and western powers would swiftly move in and carve out a separate state for the Long Suffering Oppressed Tamils”. Thus the 13th A  hangs over us like the Sword of Damocles.

Therefore it is the 13th A and its full implementation that is crucial in the discourse on constitutional reform in Sri Lanka. Those who hold the view that 13th A should be repealed are deeply concerned of the possible consequences of its full implementation. To treat 13th A as sacrosanct and its detractors as out dated” is tantamount to being separatist unless those who say so have a  hidden personal agenda. If 13th A is inimical and could be shown to be so with clarity and if there are better and safer alternatives why cannot these matters be discussed when the Constitution is being revised. The ills of the provincial councils as they function today are innumerable and for this reason alone the matter should be reviewed in depth and not accepted as something irrevocable. Even at present the NPC is not used as a means for development of that Province but as a political platform for agitation and separation to say the least. Ironically the people of the country have to bear the financial burden of a mechanism that is striving to divide their country. Elsewhere the PCs are a barrier rather than a facilitator for the people. These PCS provide for another set of corrupt politicians that people have to cope with. The money that could be saved by the dismantling of these PCs could be utilized for the amelioration of the suffering masses.

Proponents of the 13th A  say that the so called Tamil problem arises out of the need for political space for the Tamils to manage their own affairs and develop their land and culture. Political space could be provided at the centre of the state, where it matters more than at the periphery, which could facilitate the development of Tamil areas more efficiently than at present. Political power which really is what Tamils must be interested in could be provided at the centre which the Tamils could exercise via the franchise which all citizens have. In this regard there have been several proposals and in depth discussion. When such a mechanism is combined with an administrative devolution at the periphery by means of small manageable units Tamils would have more political clout than any minority anywhere in the world. Only thing they will not have is something the Tamil on the street does not need or want but what the Tamil separatist politicians want; a political arrangement with opportunity for secession. Further political space does not correspond to land extent, in the sense political space could be provided without a corresponding extent of land coming under the purview of the peripheral body. On the contrary power at the centre is more important and valuable for a minority community who likes to live in harmony with other communities. The fact that they could have a stronger say and participate in the decision making process in a more meaningful and decisive role on matters pertaining to the entire country would give the Tamil minority a feeling of belonging to this country and  stronger loyalty to their motherland. On the other hand a stronger provincial or regional council would make them feel less of a Sri Lankan and less responsible for the whole country and would not mind separating and going their own way. Mr.Neville Laduwahetti, late Mr H.L.de Silva and other eminent intellectuals have discussed these matters and proposed how power could be shared at the centre in a more meaningful way than at the periphery.

Proponents of the 13th A and its full implementation consider the Indian factor in this regard to be very strong. True it is India who imposed it on us and who persistently have been asking the government to implement it in full. However there may be ways and means of overcoming this obstacle if the people of this country are determined to revoke the 13th A. One would remember that India wanted the war against the LTTE to be stopped during it final stages. With courageous determined political leadership we were able to resist not only the objections of the regional power but also the obstacles thrown by the western powers. These heroic deeds have proved beyond any doubt that India could be manged to our advantage and that there is no need to be servile to any of these world powers. It must be remembered that world powers are also divided and there is no consensus among them on any issue. We have to manage our foreign policies to our advantage on the basis of power rivalry and polarization. Moreover there is no reason for India to object to power sharing at the centre when they could see the advantages that could accrue to them as well. Separatism in this country could have a bearing on India too and by controlling the trend we would be helping them too.

It is time the people of this country took a good look at the 13th Amendment which hangs over them like a Sword of Damocles and which is sharpened and dangled at regular intervals by the Tamil separatists and their ilk. The land and police powers though not granted at present could be granted at any time when the pressure is overwhelming on a weak government. Further the North and the East could similarly be merged. These two killer punches are packed in the 13th A and waiting like two time bombs. This threat would remain to haunt us as long as the 13th A is part of our Constitution. The threat could be removed only by repealing the clauses regarding land and  police powers and the provision for merging the North and the East. The proponents of the 13th A are inexplicably against the amputation of the 13th A.  What is good for this country and its people Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim is the total abolition of the dangerous 13th A and replace it with a suitable power sharing arrangement at the centre and combine it with a mechanism to devolve administrative power to  small units which would be more efficient, closer to the people and less costly and less corrupt.

Prof. N.A.de S. Amaratunga

Capital Punishment – the Hanging Saga

July 16th, 2018

R Chandrasoma

Reason and Compassion must defeat Wrath and Vengefulness in dealing with homicidal violence in a civilized society. The hoary argument  that the crime and its punishment must match in terms of severity and the infliction of harm  – is both primitive and dated. The aim of civilized governance is to repair injury – not to seek retaliatory vengance. The State must react rationally and mercifully to the delinquency and ill-behaviour of its citizens. While it is true that society must protect itself from a villainous minority, the belief that a killer must be ceremonially hanged to ‘ensure Justice’ is an uncivilized throwback to an age when the poor were at the mercy a Ruler who claimed to be God’s surrogate.  Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country with a religious culture that regards the ‘taking of life’  of any species as a morally heinous act. This being the case, how can there be a ‘public murder’ that is spuriously supposed to promote Law and Order in an otherwise ill-disciplined society? Retaliatory killing is an abject primitivism that is not lessened because it is the State itself that perpetrates this horror.

What is most astonishing in this moral tale is the support of the Buddhist Intelligensia in Sri Lanka for this moral aberration – and, it is not only the intelligentsia but the fraternity of Buddhist Monks that welcomes this need to kill in order to restore law and order. That the ancient Kings of Lanka were great champions of ‘judicial killing’ is a well-attested historical fact – but the relevance of this ancient barbarism to the social problems of this day and age is moot. Let us end with an even more astonishing argument – that ‘death by hanging’ is part of a karmic destiny that is ineluctable. This cruel fatalism – astonishingly – is popular in this country where religion is taken very seriously not only by the oppressed and the marginalized but also the ruling elite. That the civilized nations of the World abjure and abhor this villainous primitivism is neither heard or understood in our unfortunate country.

The New York Times Getting the wrong end of the stick

July 16th, 2018

Upali Cooray

Apropos media reports of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s (MR) reply to New York Times published recently.

What is common knowledge is that Mahinda Rajapaksa government (2009-2015) was not favorable to privatization of any state ventures. MR inherited the SWRD Bandaranayke socialist policies which continued with Sirimavo and Chandrika.Therefore MR is unlikely to fully privatize any state ventures. Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Sri Lanka Hotels Ceylon Fisheries Corporation, Corporative Wholesale Establishment (SATHOSA) and many others are examples of nationalized ventures during SLFP regimes.

President Maithripala Sirisena is also a hard core SLFPer. He has been in the party since Premier Sirimavo’s first tenure since 1968. Therefore all his actions do not show that he has changed his socialist conduct.

In some projects such as the Hambantota port MR government followed a policy of BOT (built operate and transfer) but not total privatization. Mahinda’s critics are questioning why the Yahapalana government is not investigating the allegation made by New York Times newspaper. Shyamon Jayasingha a constant critique of MR writing to the Colombo Telegraph argues that Rs.8.8 Billion profit after tax earned by the SLPA shouldn’t have been set off for settling the loans of Hambantota Port and it is similar to rob Paul to pay Peter”.  A simple example is a family member coming forward to settle an outstanding bill of another member of the family. Ports Authority and Hambantota Port are under the same Ministry. MR government gave the port on a 40 year lease whereas the Yahapalana government gave it on a 99 year lease. Shyamon Jayasinhgha however is correct in questioning why the present government has failed so far to investigate allegations against the MR family. The New York Times goes on to say that MR’s affiliates and campaign aides had got the money and volunteers had delivered the cheques to Temple Trees.

The present government is now perpetually” neck deep in corruption mud. Number one scam is the bond scam where the direct responsibility lies with Premier Ranil Wickramasinghe.  He shows no interest in bringing down the main culprit Arjun Mahendran from wherever he is hiding. The coal tender scam, central expressway irregularities, Monarch residencies scam of Ravi Karunanyaka are other notable scams which are not being investigated. It is only the other day the Canadian Premier paid a fine for accepting a pair of Sunglasses as a gift.

Another issue raised by New York Times (NYT) writer is that possibility of India getting concerned about China’s presence close to its shores.

If one reads Shivshankar Menon’s book (Choices — Inside the making of India’s foreign policy), the former Indian National Security Adviser has categorically said that Sri Lanka had given India assurance and shown that it was concerned about any threats to Indian security concerns. Our government never allowed Sri Lankan soil to be used by any foreign country against India… Diplomacy is an art of reciprocity, it is about engagement, conversations and mutual trust. In diplomatic relationships, you cannot replace empowered diplomats with intelligence officers. India has to come out of this ‘China phobia’ with regard to its relationship with Sri Lanka”. So said Gotabhaya Rajapaksa the former defense secretary.

The Modi government was not so happy with the relations Sri Lanka was having with China. All this changed last year May during Wesak full moon day. Modi attended the international Wesak day held in SL. The YAHAPALANA government’s  popularity was then beginning to dwindle fast due to various scandals such as the Bond scams, Kandy expressway scams and the DPJ tower lease and many others involving the Prime Minister,  and Ministers Malik Smarawickrama,Luxshman Kiriella, Kabir Hashim, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Ravi Karunanayaka et al. India couldn’t ignore the growing popularity of MR. Modi met MR at India House”, In a hastily arranged meeting in the night  on the11th May 2017.This   raised huge speculation within political circles in Colombo. This was more since officials from both sides had continued to maintain that Modi’s visit to Colombo had no economic or political objectives.  MR’s team consisted of Gotabhya Rajapaksa and Prof. G.L Peries.

In the meantime Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake in order to establish proof of MR’s wrong doings has contacted Maria Abi – Habib, the New York Times reporter and requested her for the information. The Deputy Minister has been shunned by the reporter. At least now he should know that it’s a time old tradition in journalism not to divulge the sources of information. Ultimately Ramanayaka has apologized for his mistake.

Atul Keshap the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka before his departure from Sri Lanka met MR and expressed his country’s displeasure about Gotabhaya being promoted as a potential Presidential candidate. This was reported in D.B.S Jayaraj blog who has good contacts in the north. The report was from the Tamil Daily Kaalaikkathi”(Morning Ray) on June 12th 2018. American interference in Srilankan politics is nothing new. It brought immense pressure on SL during the 30 year war against LTTE terrorism. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton accepted funds from the LTTE during her attempt run for the presidency. Atul Keshap may not have calculated the new tendencies in Trump government. It is beginning to build a new healthy relationship with North Korea which was till recently treated as a pariah state. Trump had also said that Russia should be brought in to the group of 7 making it Group of 8. He had called the UNHCR Cess Pool of political bias”. Sri Lanka has also in the past said as much.

The US envoy to UN described the council as a hypocritical and self-serving organization”. President Trump’s partiality towards Israel is the reason for this. He has made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The question for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of US pulling out is what happens to UNHCR resolutions 30/1 and 34/1 on promoting reconciliation, Accountability and Human rights in Sri Lanka? These were co-sponsored with the US in 2015 and 2017. Under Mr. Trump, the State dept. is toothless, however crazy some of them may be. So, various undercurrents in Washington could play out in a manner that renders resolutions 30/1 and 34/1 dead ducks. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa led Viyath Maga” think tank appears to be assessing the US foreign policy transformations of the Trump government correctly. It is timely Sri Lanka break the shackles of the resolutions 30/1 and 34/1.

If any proof of reconciliation, accountability and human in Sri Lanka is required, the reader should see the 10 minute You Tube video showing how thankful the people and rehabilitated LTTE cadres in Vishvamadu to Colonel Ratnapriya Bandu of the Civil Security Department. This story has not received adequate media attention and of the government.    Most educated political observers on this matter.Palitha Kohona, Tamara Kunanayakam, Keerthi Tennekoon, Lalith Weeratunga, Jehan Perera, Rajeewa Wijesingha and many other intellectuals have expressed their views on this matter.

It is heartening to see how the people of the area in their hundreds with their smattering of Sinhala crying and worshipping the officer at his farewell ceremony. One woman prays Aney Sir! Budu wenda ona” (Sir! May you attain Buddha hood)

In conclusion, The New York Times may be entitled to have its own views. It has raised this issue in 2015 in Ceylon Daily news, a pro – government state owned newspaper. It may be trying to salvage the beleaguered YAHAPALANA government from sinking. The New York Times may be trying to revive the old story again as readers gave a poor response to the Daily news.

The tide is not in its favor.

Upali Cooray

[email protected]

Election meddling and New York Times’ selective focus on China

July 16th, 2018

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya Courtesy The Daily Mirror

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

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

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

The timing of this story is also interesting in the way it effectively deflected media attention from a much bigger corruption scandal involving prominent government figures

The strategic nexus between the US and India has been growing apace in recent years. Former US president Barack Obama in his speech as chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebration on 26th January 2015 – just weeks after Sri Lanka concluded its 8th January election – said the US welcomes a greater role for India in the Asia Pacific” and went on to mention Sri Lanka: India can play a role in helping countries forge a better future, from Burma to Sri Lanka, where today there’s new hope for democracy. With your experience in elections you can help other countries with theirs.”
China meanwhile has been identified by the US as the reason for its heightened interest in the Indian Ocean and its pursuit of stronger defence ties with India. The US position was clearly spelt out by former US Secretary of Defence Rex Tillerson in a speech at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies last October. Sri Lanka is currently caught up in a tug-of-war between US and China in their fight for dominance in the Indian Ocean region on account of its strategic location, straddling important sea lanes connecting Asia with the Middle East and Africa. It’s not hard to see how targeting alleged Chinese corruption in relation to a strategic asset like Hambantota port would serve US strategic interests. The allegation that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign benefited from it, kills two birds with one stone by discrediting both China and a political leader seen as being too-China-friendly, at the same time.

When Western powers’ strategic interests are at stake, Western mainstream media typically tend to align with their respective government’s positions in reporting an issue. This could be seen in their reporting on Iraq, Ukraine and Syria for example. With the US’s strategic focus shifting to the Pacific and Indian oceans the NYT report on Sri Lanka illustrates how US mainstream media serve their government’s interests in this region.

But the election is over, and MR lost. So this brings us to the second question: why now?
February’s landslide victory at the local government elections by Rajapaksa’s new political formation, with a presidential election and general election set to take place in 2019 and 2020, may help explain the timing. The local poll results shook up the US-friendly yahapalana government by showing where popular support now lies. Given the high stakes in the big powers’ games of one-upmanship in the Indian Ocean, it would not be surprising to see more ‘news’ of this type reaching Sri Lankan shores in the months ahead.

The timing of this story is also interesting in the way it effectively deflected media attention from a much bigger corruption scandal involving prominent government figures. Though corruption is a main focus of the NYT piece, it chose to focus on an alleged Chinese bribe of US$ 7.6 million in a past election, when all eyes were currently on the ‘bond scam.’ It involves the much bigger sum of US$ 69 million (Rs.11 billion) that former Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendran is accused of embezzling, with the main beneficiary being his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius’s company Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL).

So far, it has been revealed that two ministers and an MP received cheques from Aloysius or PTL-affiliated companies, which they said they used in their campaign for the August 2015 parliamentary election. The first bond scam had already been exposed in February 2015, and their claims that they ‘didn’t know’ where the money came from, rang hollow. The fact that two of them offered to refund the money suggests they were not comfortable with it. The media naturally had a field day with this abundant supply of headline-making news. But after the NYT story broke, reporters have stopped button-holing various MPs and sticking microphones in front of them to ask Did you take PTL money?”

An issue that Sri Lanka really needs to be concerned about as an outcome of recent exposures and allegations of election campaign-related corruption, is the urgent need for laws to regulate election campaign financing. The politicians who benefited from PTL’s largesse have made remarks to the effect that accepting donations was ‘ok,’ that it is ‘normal’ for businessmen to support election campaigns, that ‘no one spends their own money’ etc. If it is ‘not ok’ to take money from a tainted company, is it ‘ok’ to take from a reputable company? Who’s to know about the reputation of donors if there is no account of the funds, where they came from or what they were used for? If no limit is set on the amount, does the party with richer friends and more donations have an unfair advantage? And what about foreign funding?

It would seem that Sri Lankan politicians of all stripes and from both the mainstream parties are content to continue with the present unregulated system when it comes to election campaign financing. This could be one reason why no party is eager to pursue its opponent over this particular issue. The Rajapaksa administration was accused of high-level corruption and was unseated on an anti-corruption platform in 2015. Where the UNP is concerned, apart from the bond scam exposures there is at least one election-finance related petition submitted for investigation by the bribery commission (CIABOC), alleging Rs. 60 million given to a high ranking UNPer by a businessman in 2001. The petitioner, former state minister Rajiva Wijesinha says he believes the money was used to bribe MPs to cross over so as to bring down the government which president Kumaratunga had constituted following the 2000 election.”

With foreign powers showing heightened interest in Sri Lanka, and the possibility of election-related bribes of a much higher order being offered in exchange for influence, the need for campaign-finance laws becomes all the more urgent. In this new context their absence leaves a gaping hole that threatens not only the integrity of elections, but now, the national interest as well.

I was at forefront of steps taken to establish democracy in North – Gotabaya

July 16th, 2018

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that he was at the forefront of every step taken towards establishing democracy in the North following the end of the war.

Speaking during an ‘Eliya’ seminar held in Chilaw, he said that today there is a debate over the uncertainty whether democracy will be lost and a military rule established.

I am well aware of the foundation that a country should be governed with law and order. I am well aware of the fact that democracy should exist in this country.”

I was at the forefront of every step taken towards establishing democracy in the North after the war ended,” he said.

Be it implementing law and order or uplifting the economy, all these things require a leadership that is capable of taking correct decisions, he said.

 

Death Penalty in Sri Lanka: Who deserves to be put to death?

July 15th, 2018

 

This government loves to keep the people busy by regularly throwing issues to keep them busy. These are excellent methods to divert people’s attention from the real issues that questions the governments inefficiency. We’ve had a string of such public diversions – New York Times, Wijayakala and now it’s the death sentence.

 

When the subject of death sentence arose only people remembered to claim Sri Lanka as a majority Buddhist nation. Undoubtedly that is true, in ancient times the Kings followed the dasa raja dhamma concept – what was applicable to all was also applicable to him. The level of crime was certainly not what is seen today. If anyone was found stealing he was duly punished – there were no lawyers to argue & find some loophole to save the culprit & certainly none of the crimes that exist today, existed then.

 

Every nation has some form of judiciary with courts, judges, lawyers & judgements. But how far have these been deterrents for non-repetition is questionable. Everywhere crime is not only increasing but the types of crimes are shocking. How often have the wrong persons being put behind bars? Why should the man caught stealing be hanged when he was part of a larger group where the main culprit runs a crime syndicate & tells his group what to steal & from whom? Who is then the bigger culprit? How far has money helped to ensure the wrong doers are not sentenced. How fair have these decisions been. If the legal profession is corrupt can bringing death penalty solve anything?

 

We are living in a very confused environment. We presume we are being led by a government we elect but in reality the government is being ruled by sets of invisible people to whom no laws are applicable. They commit the biggest crimes but they never end up getting caught or punished. In such an environment how fair or moral is it to hang the small sprat while the sharks get away & feel happy that death penalty serves its purpose? According to the FBI, the annual cost of street crime in US is $15 billion compared to nearly $1 trillion for white-collar crime, but who end up in prison?

 

Recently, the news showcased people getting rigorous imprisonment & fine for stealing biscuits /mangoes but then people who have masterminded bigger crimes get away because of loopholes in laws or because they have the money to retain the most experienced & most expensive lawyers who know how to wriggle out of a sentence. How morally correct is the law in such instances & would such not encourage hatred & distrust in the system whereby already people are beginning to feel the law is applicable only to the small man & the rich get away with anything.

 

America is the only Western country that has death penalty. In US, 31 states have death penalty, 19 states don’t. Close to 1500 people have been executed since 1977.  But in the states that death penalty prevails, crime rates have not reduced as a result of putting people to death? It is said that in California since 1978 to execute someone it costs the state $4b with the legal process taking 25 years. Executions costs more than a life time in prison!

 

And what about sending the wrong people into prison or even to death?

In the US since 1989 there have been over 2000 exonerations – 22% exonerated by DNA evidence, 19% exonerated after their death – 4.1% of defendants who are sentenced to death in the United States are later shown to be innocent! https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-cost-of-convicting-the-innocent/2015/07/24/260fc3a2-1aae-11e5-93b7-5eddc056ad8a_story.html?utm_term=.c523203522e1

 

http://www.andrewdstine.com/wrongfully-convicted-cases-statistics-and-criminal-defense-lawyer-experience/

 

The United States of America and Canada actually have the highest overall crime rates in the world. In India more than 33,000 rapes were reported in 2014.

 

How can we live with the fact that the system has sent innocent people to death? That life can never be brought back to life!

 

No criminal system anywhere in the world is or can be 100% perfect. If people claim it to be then they are living in some different planet.

 

Globally, 53 countries have death penalty.

Ironically, inspite of the West boasting of its good governance system Japan & Singapore are the 2 countries with the world’s lowest crime rates. Certainly the lower end crimes are non-existent primarily because everyone has a job & money to support themselves so petty crimes such as theft & robberies are more or less non-existent. However, white-collar crimes are increasing in Singapore. In a 2018 global financial secrecy index, which rated nations for factors including illicit money flows and tax haven status, Singapore ranked fifth — behind Switzerland, the U.S., Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. With globalization we are now dealing

 

If the argument that people who commit grave crimes must be punished… then why punish only some, how come those who commit graver crimes are overlooked? A crime done by one against one is nothing compared to a crime masterminded by one, carried out by many affecting thousands of people!

 

Today’s illegal drugs, such as marijuana, opium, heroin etc have been used for thousands of years for both medical and spiritual purposes. In the case of narcotics/drugs – Who are the manufacturers, the suppliers & doesn’t the drug dealers come way after that initial supply chain? Will eliminating one or two drug dealers end the chain? Wouldn’t the dead dealer be replaced with another & business goes on as usual? Shouldn’t the main or the root of the curse be eliminated not the pawns? An estimated 230 million people around the world are drug-users. Of those, some 27 million are considered to be dependent or drug addicts.

 

More recently Johnson & Johnson was fined $4.7billion in a lawsuit that linked its baby powder with cancer – millions of people the world over uses its products but if they have caused cancer then what should their judgment be against the company & its owners who have caused cancer in millions of people? Similarly, our food is being poisoned with all types of chemicals from which many end up suffering all types of health issues – diabetes, blood pressure, cancers etc… what should happen to the owners of these food industries who are purposely & knowingly poisoning us for profit?

 

The world’s biggest arms manufacturers are manufacturing weapons for profits as such they need conflicts to sell arms, often to both sides of the conflict, these arms end up killing innocent lives – shouldn’t these entities also be duly punished for their crimes? We often go behind the terrorists but who funds them, who trains them, who drugs them & who supplies them arms – are these not the bigger culprits while the same can be said of those who provide oxygen to these terrorists because it provides a means of income to them. Isn’t treason far greater a crime than drug dealing? Who are guilty of treason at least in the public tribunal as people are better judges of traitors of the country than the system as often the system is controlled by the culprits who have nicely placed ‘their’ people so that their crimes never get the gavel of justice.

 

What about the human smuggling industry – the transportation of economic migrants often causing complete demographic change – who are the culprits behind these crimes & why do they evade sentencing? Then we have a plethora of sex crimes, paedophilia all associated with cults & other satanic practices but most often it is the elite circles who are involved in these sadistic crimes and it is hardly likely they would end up getting the noose. Should the death penalty be only for some exonerating the bigger criminals?

 

Often it is those who commit the crimes who stand in judgement. This refers to all of the former colonies who have yet to account for their heinous crimes committed on indigenous nations for 500 years, ironically it is these same countries that are illegally invading & bombing countries & now they are using drones to do the dirty work. How come those who issue these directives that leave thousands of innocent people dead are not hung too? Those who argue that death penalty is a closure must explain then what about closure for the innocent people whose lives were nullified by geopolitically motivated bombing campaigns (Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Syria just to name a few)

 

People must be aware of the ground realities instead of being mesmerized with the concept that seeing a criminal executed is proof that there is a system & the system has worked while the system is non-active against the bigger criminals.

 

As humans we all make mistakes – some make bigger mistakes than others while there are others whose mistakes are cleverly hidden. Humans can never be compartmentalized. People’s thinking changes with every second. People are complicated. However, the power of law & law enforcement comes in its ability to dish out the law without bias. That does not happen anywhere in the world & that is the reality. With the west controlling the world media, they often decide what we are to believe & not believe & often the minds of people are brainwashed into thinking the West to be superior to that of others.

 

For starters a country must have a clear law & that law must be applicable to all equally. A theft by a poor cannot be any worse than a theft committed by the rich. A sex/drug crime committed by the poor cannot get death sentence while the same crime committed by the rich ends up with a loophole excusing his crime. We have seen of late how a man who raped & killed a school girl was released by a Minister who is now wailing about the rise in rapes in her area!

 

Returning to Sri Lanka, the death penalty for the drug dealers is hardly likely to stop the flow of drugs into Sri Lanka, its distribution or the crafty ways in which it is spread to gullible & innocent people who end up the addicts. Ironically, whether a drug addict is rich or poor, that family is devastated for life. Illegal drug industry is not the only criminal syndicate in Sri Lanka or anywhere else in the world – there are a plethora of illegal transnational crimes, trace the trail & we will be surprised that the same crime syndicate are controlling & manipulating the supply chain – unless these are dealt with there is little point in putting people to death & feeling happy that justice has been served. Once any drug dealer is arrested or put in prison either he continues inside in prison or he is easily replaced by others. We have seen how even financial criminals inside prisons are operating with duplicate sim phones …. therefore where is this justice people are boasting off?

 

 

 

Shenali D Waduge

 

 

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM OF SRI LANKA

July 15th, 2018

KAMALIKA  PIERIS

The first mention of a national anthem for Ceylon, according to Haris de Silva, former Director, National Archives, was by J R Jayewardene. JR had brought the need for a national anthem to the notice of the Ceylon National Congress   on 26th June 1941. Accordingly, says D.B.S. Jeyaraj, a lyric was composed by D.S. Moonesinghe and set to music by Devar Surya Sena. This was sung in 1943 at the Congress sessions, but the national anthem remained ‘God save the king.’

Thereafter, when Ceylon was preparing for independence, State Council decided that Ceylon needed   a new national anthem, to replace ‘God Save the   King” which had been Ceylon’s ‘national anthem’ under British rule.The anthem was to be selected through a competition. Lanka Gandharva Sabha organized the competition. Competition was held on Jan 31 1948.  The Panel of judges consisted of S.L.B. Kapukotuwa, L.L.K. Gunatunga, Lionel Edirisinghe, P.B. Elangasinghe, O.H de A Wijesekera, and Mudaliyar E.A. Abeysekera.

Many compositions were considered for the national anthem. Among the entries were Namo Namo Matha by Ananda Samarakoon and Sri Lanka Matha Pala Yasa Mahima by P. B. Illangasinghe and Lionel Edirisinghe. Samarakoon was then in India holding an exhibition of his paintings.  Samarakoon’s wife and brother had submitted the song for the competition.  P. B. Illangasinghe and Lionel Edirisinghe won the competition but the public protested since Illangasinghe and Edirisinghe were on the panel of judges. So Namo Namo Matha was selected.

Ananda Samarakoon had composed Namo Namo Matha in 1940 as a patriotic song for Mahinda College, Galle. He was the singing teacher there. Vini Vitharana had been a student at Mahinda College Galle, at the time. He recalled that Samarakoon ‘got the boys to sing this song’.

The late Nihal Karunaratne, a medical practitioner in Kandy, had told Haris de Silva in 1996   that Samarakoon had presented one of his paintings to Nihal’s mother and on the back of the painting had pasted a paper cutting of an article published in the Sunday Times of 8th April 1962, where he had said that the song ‘Namo namo matha’ was composed by him in 1940 when he was a teacher at Mahinda.  He had composed it to instil patriotism in the students.

D.B.S .Jeyaraj elaborates further. Having returned from Santiniketan, on October 20th 1940 Samarakoon was at his ancestral residence in Padukka. He could not sleep. He got up at about 10 pm and began writing a tribute to his motherland relying on the short notes written after his air trip from India. Samarakoon wrote late into the night and Namo Namo Matha” was born. He then took it to Mahinda College where he was teaching and taught it to students after setting it to music.

The song became ‘famous’ after a 50 member choir from Musaeus College, Colombo sang it on a public occasion, said Jeyaraj.  It became popular   and was broadcast on Radio frequently. In 1946 Samarakoon   recorded the song for His Master’s Voice Gramophone Company.. Being a fine singer himself Samarakoon recorded the song with Swarna de Silva, the sister of flautist Dunstan de Silva.  It was released on HMV label and the record too became popular. The song was also included in a book of poems published by Samarakoon called Geetha Kumudini”. However, Samarakoon had been unable to re-imburse the printing costs incurred by the printer R.K.W Siriwardena and had given copyright to him.

Tissa Kariyawasam said Namo Namo Matha was sung at the 1948 independence celebrations by the students of All Saints Girls’ School trained by the Rev Fr Marcelline Jayakody (Sunday Island. 2.2.03 p 3). A Cabinet memorandum by Oliver Goonetilleke, dated 15th June 1951, had also said   that the anthem had been sung at the Independence Day celebrations of 1948.

A printed programme for the 1949 independence celebrations, which Haris de Silva   had seen,  had said that at the inauguration of the Independence Memorial Building at Torrington Square, the National Song would be sung in Tamil at 4 p.m on the arrival of the Prime Minister, and in Sinhala at 5 p.m. immediately after the Drill Display.

During the 1950 celebrations, at the morning event at Galle Face, the first bars of the National Anthem were played at the march-past. At the evening event at the Havelock Race Course celebrations commenced with the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil, and concluded with the anthem sung in Sinhala. In 1950, the High Commission in India had requested copies of the national anthem in Sinhala, Tamil, and English, along with the musical scores. Copies had been sent to India, said Haris de Silva

Haris de Silva states that Oliver Goonetilleke, then Minister in-charge of Home Affairs   had submitted a cabinet memorandum dated 22.11.1951 recommending Namo Namo Matha     as the national anthem. Sir Oliver therefore must be recognized as the Minister responsible for getting Cabinet approval for the song Namo Namo Matha as the National Anthem.

In this memorandum Oliver Goonetilleke stated that ‘Namo namo matha’ had been sung in Sinhala and Tamil at the independence celebrations. He attached a Tamil translation by K. Kanagaratnam, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education, and two English translations by C.W.W. Kannangara ‘our representative in Indonesia ‘and by S. Paranavitane.  Cabinet wanted a ‘competent authority’ to revise the Tamil translation. This was done by K. Kanagaratnam. Cabinet had also wanted Sir Oliver to consult G.G. Ponnambalam, who had nothing to say on the matter. Cabinet made no comment on the English translations. (D.B.S. Jeyaraj gives a different version. I have given his version in the appendix.)

Goonetilleke had further said in the memo, that in the Sinhala version, there had been a suggestion to alter line 10, to read ‘nitina apa pubudu karan matha’, instead of ‘nevata apa avadi karan matha’. He said the song was originally selected to be sung on the occasion of the grant of Independence, but as we have now received independence, the change would be more appropriate.  Another suggestion he had received was to change ‘bavina’ in line 12 to ‘lesina’. Ananda Samarakoon had agreed to the change in line 10, but had said ‘bavina’ was more elegant than ‘lesina’. The Cabinet had agreed to the change in line 10 but had said to leave ‘bavina’ as it is.

The Cabinet gave its approval to the anthem on 11th March 1952.  A Press Communique was issued on 12th March 1952, saying that the Cabinet had approved the song Namo Namo Matha as the National Anthem, with copies of the approved Sinhala version, and its Tamil and English translations, together with the musical scores. The Tamil translation was the one by Kanagaratnam, and the English translation was that of Kannangara, said Haris. There is no Cabinet minute to indicate that the Kannangara translation had been approved.  Goonetilleke may have spoken with the other Cabinet Ministers and got their approval for it.

D.B.S Jeyaraj in his account says on March 12, 1952, the Government published huge advertisements in the Sinhala, Tamil, and English newspapers announcing that Namo Namo Matha” was the National Anthem. While words in Sinhala and Tamil were published in the Sinhala and Tamil newspapers respectively the English newspapers had Sinhala words written in English.

Namo Namo Matha featured as Ceylon’s official national anthem, for the first time, at the Independence Day ceremony of 4. February 1952.    (Island 9.2.2011 p 3 Midweek Rev) The music score was prepared by George Perry, an officer seconded from the British Army  and bandmaster of the newly created Army Band.    According to D.B.S. Jeyaraj, the Tamil version Namo Namo Thaye” was   sung in 1952 at Independence Day functions at Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee and Batticaloa Kachcheries. The Tamil version was also sung when Sir John Kotelawela visited Jaffna in 1954.

In 1952 a booklet was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairswith instructions as to how and where the national anthem was to be used. There were three versions, whole, abridged, and abbreviated versions. The booklet set out  with detailed instructions, the occasions where each version was to be used, and what verses were to be played on what occasions.   In cinemas, the first 13 bars were to be played before the start of a film.

In 1953 standards were set for the singing and playing of the national anthem. Different choirs and singers were rendering it in different ways, causing much confusion .There was no uniformity in the melody or manner of singing the anthem. Standards were needed.

A committee of 8 persons, including G.D.A. Perera, Deva Suriya Sena, Ananda Samarakoon, was appointed. This committee set out guidelines as to how the anthem should be sung and also defined the exact tune for it. The melody was a refined version of the original tune composed by Samarakoon. They decided on standards for indigenous, western and band performances. The band performance style was done by the Army Band and the western style was done by the   Radio Ceylon Orchestra. The Blind school, Seeduwa was selected for singing. The Blind School Choir was trained by Saranagupta Amarasinghe.

In December 1953, the Prime Minister and four other Ministers, J.R.Jayewardene, A Ratnayake, S Natesan & E B Wickremanayake, with six officials, and three members of the former Committee, with Saranagupta Amarasinghe on invitation, had met at Radio Ceylon to select a recorded version of the song. The Committee had decided to accept a) Ceylon Army Band version (b) Choral version by the Seeduwa Blind Children, and c) Radio Ceylon Sinhalese Orchestral version. The firm Cargills, then agents for HMV Records, was given the order to make records of the National Anthem.  The Blind School rendition, with Army Band playing, was recorded on HMV in 1954.

On June 24, 1954 the Cabinet formally endorsed the tune and singing of the National Anthem. The copyright of Namo Namo Matha” was acquired by the Government after the payment of Rupees 2500 on June 24, 1954. (Elsewhere the date is given as 1956.) But Samarakoon did not get the money. The money went to P.K.W. Siriwardene. Siriwardene insisted that he must be given the money as the copyright had been transferred to him.. Attorney General decided in his favor.

In the late 1950s a controversy arose over first line of the anthem, “Namo Namo Matha, Apa Sri Lanka“. It was said that the gana of ‘namo namo’ in the first line of the anthem was “unlucky” and was the cause of the country’s misfortunes including the deaths of two prime ministers.  The letter Na” at the beginning was described as a malefic..Minster T. B. Illangaratne, in 1961, proposed that the opening lines should be ‘Sri Lanka Matha,’ to conform with ‘gana’. He said that he had consulted many experts, including the sangha and they had agreed on the change.

In February 1962,  the government changed the line to their present form, “Sri Lanka Matha, despite Samarakoon’s strong opposition. This alteration upset Samarakoon. Samarakoon committed suicide in April 1962, leaving a note saying that his anthem had been mutilated.  Tissa Kariyawasam observed in 2003, that it was nonsense to say the first letter was inauspicious. ‘Namo thassa bagawatho’ also began with the word ’Namo ‘.

Then in 1978, the National Anthem was included in the Constitution. The 1978 Constitution (Article 7) states: “The National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be “Sri Lanka Matha,”, the words and music of which are set out in the Third Schedule.

Haris de Silva stated that the Sinhala version given in this schedule was the post-Ilangaratna 1962 version; the Tamil version was the Kanagaratnam translation. The Tamil version was included, said one source, following an appeal by K.W.Devanayagam. Devanayagam  had pointed out that Muslims and Tamils living in the north and east who spoke mostly Tamil wanted that version for use in schools and occasions.  The English” version is not the Kannangara translation issued in 1952. It is the Sinhala version given  in Roman script.

Sri Lanka Thaaye, the Tamil version of the Sri Lankan national anthem, is an exact translation of Sri Lanka Matha, the Sinhala version, and has the same music. It has existed since independence in 1948 but it was generally only sung in the north and east of the country where the Tamil language predominates, said Wikipedia.

The Sinhala version of the anthem is used at official/state events but the Tamil version is used at official events held in the Tamil speaking regions in the North and East of Sri Lanka. The Tamil version is also sung at Tamil medium schools throughout the country. The Tamil version was used even during the period when Sinhala was the only official language of the country (1956–87.

While the Sinhala version was sung in most official functions in Colombo and Sinhala majority provinces, the Tamil version was sung in Tamil majority areas and Tamil medium schools, confirmed Jayaraj. This accommodative attitude was displayed even after Sinhala was made the sole official language and Tamil had no official status at all. The Tamil version had been played at functions attended by Tamils in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, and Batticaloa. The Sinhala version was played at functions attended by the Sinhala community, However when both parties attended, they avoided the national anthem and only played the tune.

There was a sharp difference of opinion regarding singing the national anthem in Tamil. Sinhala hardliners do not want the National Anthem to be sung in Tamil while Tamil hardliners do not want Tamils to sing the National Anthem in Sinhala, observed Jeyaraj. Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike had walked out of a function in the north where the national anthem was played in Tamil.  This would have probably been in her first two terms of office 1960-65 or 1970-77.

The national anthem was sung in Sinhala and Tamil at the 50th anniversary independence celebrations in Trincomalee in 1998. Is this legal asked critics. (Daily News 10.2.1998 p    5,) On Sinhala New Year day 1999 at a ceremony in Kantalai they had sung it simultaneously in Sinhala and Tamil. This was been scoffed at. Where in the world do we hear national anthems being sung in different language asked one reader.

In December 2010 the Cabinet decided that Sri Lanka’s national anthem would only be in Sinhala. The Tamil version would no longer be played at any official or state functions. A directive to use only the Sinhala version was to be sent out by the Ministry of Public Administration. All government establishments including district secretariats will be called upon to adhere to this decision.

President Rajapaksa said there could not be two national anthems in a country. This position should be corrected. He said, “We must think of Sri Lanka as one country.” The national anthem should be a ‘national anthem’ not a communal anthem added a critic. Sri Lanka need not take the new nations such as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa as examples.

According to Jeyaraj, this ban on singing the national anthem in Tamil was thereafter shelved” but orders however went out quietly to government. Officials and officers of the armed forces that the national anthem should not be sung in Tamil. There was no official decree but officially sanctioned unofficial instructions resulted in the silencing the Tamil National Anthem, said Jeyaraj.

This unofficial diktat was strictly enforced. Schools and government institutions were discouraged” from singing the national anthem in Tamil. The armed forces in the North and East were tasked with the duty of preventing the National Anthem being sung in Tamil. The Tamil people soon got the message and gave up attempts to sing the National Anthem in Tamil. School children were compelled to sing the Sinhala words scripted in Tamil, said Jeyaraj

At three different functions at Kilinochchi, in 2010 army had stopped the singing of Tamil version. They ordered that the recorded Sinhala version be played and it was. They had also distributed the Sinhala version of the national anthem to schools and told them that in future they should play the Sinhala version, reported the media.

The pro-Tamil Yahapalana government of 2015 changed this. President Sirisena withdrew the prohibition on singing the national anthem in Tamil.   Soon after, on March 23  2015  at  a function  in Valalai in the Jaffna peninsula to return land taken over by the Sri Lankan armed forces to maintain a high security zone, the national anthem was first sung in Tamil and then in Sinhala. The music was played on tape while a choir from the staff of the Jaffna District Secretariat sang in both languages. This was in the presence of President Maitripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,

There were protests. Permitting the national anthem to be sung in Sinhala and Tamil, as President Sirisena had done may be a violation of the constitution, said Ladduwahetty. According to Article 7 of the 1978 Constitution the national anthem cannot deviate from the words and music given in the schedule, and the words, are the Sinhala words. The national anthem must be sung in Sinhala at state and national functions. Article 7 enshrining the national anthem is a fundamental article which cannot be amended, repealed or tampered with, said Vernon Botejue.

Despite this, the national anthem was sung in Tamil at the Independence Day proceedings in Colombo in 2016, 2017, and 2018. It was sung at the end of the proceedings when many were getting ready to leave. Some greeted this gesture positively. The singing of the national anthem in Tamil was a gesture of reconciliation. It was a very significant act of the government to make the Tamils feel equal, said the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.  Others added, now Sri Lanka had joined South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and Fiji as a country having two national anthems.  Tamil separatists disagreed. ‘If Tamils thought that they had gained a status on par with the majority race they are wrong. Their relegation to second class was shown by the fact that the Tamil anthem was sung later at the ceremony, said one analyst.

Immediately after the 2016 event, the singing of the national anthem was challenged in Supreme Court as a violation of the constitution. A fundament rights petition challenging the government decision to sing the national anthem in Tami was filed. It should be sung only in Sinhala.

It is clear that there are two opposing sets of views on the matter of the Tamil anthem. One group firmly wants to see the anthem sung only in Sinhala. It is imperative to sing the national anthem in one voice not two, they said. A national anthem is a symbol of unity.  They dismiss the notion that Tamils cannot think of themselves as Sri Lankan when the national anthem is in a language that they cannot understand,

Why can’t the Tamils learn to sing the national anthem in Sinhala, asked one critic. If they are able to learn other language in the countries they live in now, why can’t they learn Sinhala? They do not ask that the national anthem of the countries they now live in be translated to Tamil so they can sing it with fervor and loyalty.

There was no demand from any Tamil in Jaffna to sing the National anthem in Tamils. It was not an issue, said Rear admiral Sarath Weerasekera. When I was the commanding officer of the Karaingar naval base in 1993 Tamils sang it in Sinhala at various functions.  Today the north is all Tamil, and they have with all impunity sung the national anthem in Tamil.

These critics point to India. In India the national anthem is sung in only one language. All Indians sing it regardless of whether they understand it or not. India stipulated that all schools in India have to start the day with the national anthem. India’s national anthem was originally a patriotic song  written in Sanskritised Bengali, by Tagore, later adopted as the national anthem. Even before independence the Bengalis had sung ‘jana gana mana’ at their rallies. The Bengalis played a significant role in the nationalist struggle, more than any other ethnic group. The Tamils did not play that kind of role in Sri Lanka.

A compromise suggestion has been made, to have a single bi-lingual anthem, with verses in both Sinhala and Tamil or at least have few lines in Tamil be incorporated into our national anthem. Including a Tamil verse in the national anthem will also help chauvinistic Sinhalese to remember that there are people other than the Sinhalese living in this country, said one critic.

Listening to the singing of the national anthem in either or both language is indeed a moving experience. It is most moving when it is sung in our mother tongue or both languages, said Devanesan Nesiah. We must voluntarily learn the national anthem in each other’s language, so we can all sing it together, said Rev Duleep de Chickera.

Those supporting the singing of the national anthem in Tamil have much to say. Here is a collection of their utterances:

  • People who insist that Tamil speaking people should be forced to sing the national anthem in Sinhala wish to demonstrate their superiority to the numerically weaker Tamils. They want to ram the Sinhala anthem down the throat of our Tamils speaking brethren, said one commentator.
  • The anthem says ‘eka mawakage….’ If we truly believe that we are the children of one mother we must provide the opportune for the Tamil speaking people to sing our national anthem in their mother tongue,’ said another.
  • A national anthem is meant to unite and that doesn’t mean singing it in one language in a multi language society where diversity is recognized and accommodated in the constitution. Accommodating the linguist diversity of our people increases loyalty, a sense of belonging and strengthens unity rather than threatens it. Accommodating diversity strengthens unity, said Harim Pieris.
  • What is wrong in letting them sing the national anthem in Tamil to the same tune? They would understand and sing with the same feeling.  For this land is as much theirs as ours. We must give the Tamils back their dignity.   It is only the racists, who object said K Godage
  • The Sinhala only national anthem was designed to divide rather than unite, to widen the psychological gulf the majority and the minorities and drive home the lesson that minorities are not so welcome interlopers in a Sinhala country. The anthem being sung simultaneously in two languages must be maintained and supported. There is greater chance of inculcating a sense of Lankan patriotism in Tamil/Muslim children when they are allowed to sing the national anthem in their own language rather than parrot it in a language they barely understand, said Tisaranee Gunasekera.

A whole bouquet of examples have been given to justify singing the anthem in Tamil. In South Africa, the national anthem of four stanzas is in five languages, Xhosa, Zulu, Swasotho, Afrikaans, and English. First stanza is in Xhosa and Zulu, tow lines each, next stanza in Sesotho, third in Afrikaner, fourth in ‘English,

Canada has English, French and a bilingual version. . The lyrics in the English and French versions differ in the Canadian anthem. In the bilingual version beginning and end is in English middle verse is in French. Canada has an Inuit version too.  The national anthem in New Zealand, the first verse in Maori and the second in English.

Switzerland’s anthem has different lyrics in each of the country’s four official languages (French, German, English, and Romansh). Fiji’ has lyrics in English and Fijian which are not translations of each other.  Spain has no words at all in its national anthem. The national anthem has been played without words since 1978,

APPENDIX.

D.B.S Jeyaraj says in 1950 the then Finance Minister JR Jayewardene presented a cabinet memorandum that the widely popular Namo Namo Matha” be formally acknowledged as the official anthem. Prime Minister D.S Senanayake set up a Parliamentary Select Committee under Home Affairs and Rural Development Minister Sir E.A.P Wijeratne (Father of Dr.Nissanka Wijeratne) to finalise the issue. The committee headed by Wijeratne considered Namo Namo Matha” and some other lyrics and decided that Samarakoon’s song should be made the National Anthem. There was however a minor hitch. The committee wanted a minor change in the words. Samarakoon was then in India and returned home in mid -1951 after being summoned by Sir Edwin AP Wijeratne. The song had originally been composed when the country was under the British.Now it was independent.It was therefore felt that the 10th line in the song was inappropriate and had to be changed. Samarakoon agreed to change the line. So the line Nawa Jeewana Damine” was altered to Nawa Jeewana Demine Nithina Apa Pubudu Karan Matha” with the wholehearted consent and approval of Ananda Samarakoon. Sir E.A.P Wijeratne then presented a Cabinet paper in August 1951 recommending Namo Namo Matha” as the National Anthem.

DBS Jayaraj sayd Premier D.S Senanayake proposed that a suitable Tamil translation  also be formally adopted.The select committee headed by Sir E.A.P Wijeratne had accepted in principle that there be a Tamil version  of the national anthem.The Tamil scholar, Pundit M. Nallathamby, was entrusted this task and a neat transliteration was done.The Tamil version came into use and was extensively used in official functions in the predominantly Tamil speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces. Prof K. Sivathmaby  also said, said that the  Tamil translation was composed by Mr. Nallathamby.

Jeyaraj says when a record was made of the nationl anthem, a disc was also cut for the Tamil version of the National Anthem. While the melody and music was the same as that of the Sinhala version by Ananda Samarakoon the Tamil words written by Pundit Nallathamby were sung by two women singers Sangari and Meena. The Tamil version was first broadcast officially on Radio Ceylon” on February 4, 1955.  (CONCLUDED)

 

IRRESPONSIBLE USE OF LANGUAGE OR INTELLECTUALIST MISREPRESENTATION?

July 15th, 2018

By Rohana R. Wasala

The Midweek Review feature article under the title Hitler Reincarnate – And Sri Lanka’s Presidential Stakes by Susirith Mendis (The Island/July 4, 2018) embodies the soft soothing voice of wisdom, that got drowned in the cacophonous ‘sound and fury’ raised in the wake of the Asgiriya Anunayake Ven. Wendaruwe Upali thera’s ‘Hitler’ remarks made in the course of a sermon delivered at an alms-giving conducted at the residence of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a potential presidential candidate for 2020. This is despite Mendis’s unquestioning acceptance of the garbled English version of the monk’s words given by certain intellectuals” as a true representation of the Anunayake thera’s Sinhala language remarks. Mendis seems to have missed the live video of the monk speaking.  Since, apparently, he hasn’t listened to what the monk actually said speaking in Sinhala, he assumes the distorted English rendering of the monk’s remarks given by those he calls with some awe ‘Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent political scientist and commentator’, and  ‘eminent social scientist’ to be authentic, which it is not. What Mendis describes as ‘This great revival of Hitler….’ (that was allegedly ‘triggered’ by the Anunayake thera’s words) is an airy nothing. It is an imaginary bogey created by you-know-who survivalists currently bogged down in a swamp of anarchy of their own making. (The farfetched Gotabhaya-Hitler analogy hit off as an ideal slogan for those who were waiting for the proverbial straw to hang on to” in Mendis’s own words.) The truth is that there will never be any Hitlers in Sri Lanka, come the polls. The sneaky ones who seized upon and benefited from the Anunayake thera’s verbal faux pas won’t have another chance when the people are allowed the chance to exercise their franchise freely at future elections.

Mendis quotes the monk as (mis)translated by the previously mentioned  eminent intellectuals: ‘As the clergy, we feel the country needs a religious leader… Some people have described you as a Hitler. Be a Hitler. Go with the military and take the leadership of this country” – or something to that effect’. (This is an intellectualist distortion of the prelate’s words. The prelate never said: …… ‘we feel the country needs a religious leader……’ or  ‘Be a Hitler. Go with the military and take the leadership of this country’ Please look at my own correct translation of his actual words given towards the end of this essay.) And immediately, he (Mendis) condemns those words in no uncertain terms, but wisely desists from blaming the whole Maha Sangha for any alleged advocacy of ruthless Hitler-like despotism; instead he looks askance at the indecent haste of the ‘intellectuals’ who unleashed an uncalled for blitzkrieg (on the monk) that is far out of all proportion to the target: ‘This kind of politically explosive profanity is usually uttered by politicians themselves – the not uncommon ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease amongst their kind. Not by erudite Buddhist priests during sermons to would-be leaders of the nation – even in the privacy of their homes’. Well said! Mendis does not believe that erudite Buddhist monks would utter words like these (although the venerable prelate in question did as he assumes on the authority of the two ‘intellectuals’). He is also justifiably impatient at the ‘formidable’ intellectuals who mounted devastating attacks on the Anunayake thera ‘the foolhardy Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) men who rounded up and mauled a prowling leopard in Kilinochchi – to intellectually club the Anunayake to pitiful incoherence and silence’. But I don’t agree with Mendis that the Anunayake was reduced ‘to pitiful incoherence and silence’ on account of being misunderstood or misinterpreted; where our nation is concerned, he is a far more authentic intellectual than these uncomprehending and incomprehensible intellectuals. The monk was very coherent and articulate in his attempt to explain himself. Mendis is making too much of the Anunayake’s suspected ignorance about Hitler. I don’t doubt that he knows enough about world history to know that Hitler was a universally hated dictator. However, Mendis is correct about the overreaction of the so-called intellectuals to the monk’s particular remarks. To me, these are some pedants who, for some reason, are or are behaving like pseudo-intellectuals (or mere intellectualists), selfish, coldhearted, and lacking in empathy towards their co-ethnics. Needless to say, the kind of deliberate misrepresentation of the ideas of people that they don’t agree with gravely contradicts their claims to intellectuality.

In the same context, Mendis adds: ‘Not surprisingly, someone exclaimed that it was an attempt at ‘killing a mosquito with a canon’. The last word here is an inadvertent misspelling (not, obviously, a misquote) on the part of Mendis. Though most probably a slip of the pen, it is a significant error. The word used in that quote is not ‘canon’, but ‘cannon’, the first means a general rule or principle by which something is judged, or a list of religious texts as being of the highest authority; the second is a large piece of artillery, a heavy gun mounted on two wheels (especially in ancient times). The error is significant because both these words could be considered relevant in the context implied. Actually, the ‘someone’ that Mendis mentions is none other than myself (the present writer). ‘Killing a mosquito with a cannon’ is the title of an article of mine published in The Island newspaper and in the Lankaweb online journal on June 29, 2018. Mendis implicitly reinforces my critical view of the intellectualists’ attack on the prelate for he says:  ‘Nay, it is more like ‘trying to kill a fly with (a) multi-barrelled rocket launcher’! But his lamenting ‘Poor Anunayake! He has had his day in the sun and on prime-time news for the worst of possible reasons!’ is uncalled for, because the monk did not make any outrageous ‘Hitlerite’ proposal to Gotabhaya, nor was he courting the limelight of media attention.

My article contains the correct English rendering of the Anunayake thera’s Hitler remarks. It is totally different from the version whose authenticity Mendis has taken for granted because it came from some ‘formidable intellectuals’. I have a problem with these intellectuals. The problem is that they don’t pay the same attention to Sinhala that they pay to English. The need for verbal explicitness is less important for spoken language than for written communication because the first enjoys certain advantages that the second doesn’t in making the intended meaning clear. A writer is obliged to find other devices to compensate for that deficit. A speaker uses their tone of voice, facial expressions, shared background knowledge, common cultural assumptions, immediate direct feedback from the listeners, their body language that provides

cues to the speaker to modulate their message so as to present it without ambiguity and without the risk of being misunderstood. The intellectualist commentators with ideological axes to grind have taken the monk’s references to Hitler and military rule out of context. I am reproducing my own translation of those remarks contained in the aforementioned article (‘Killing a mosquito with a cannon’) here with some further clarifications. The monk, Ven Wendaruwe Upali,  never said ‘Be a Hitler. Go with the military and take the leadership of this country’ as the commentators have claimed, (which would have been a seditious suggestion). Instead, this was what the monk said (my translation, with explanatory comments to help the non-Sinhala speaker):

‘You have been called a Hitler. So, what we finally remind you is that you might even become a Hitler (it’s not that we want you to become a Hitler) and rebuild the country. (Loud laughter was heard from the listeners at this point). What the Maha Sangha finally reiterates is that you rebuild this country even by resorting to a military administration (it’s not that we expect you to be a military ruler)’. (It was clear that he referred to these two images as unlikely options in Gotabhaya’s case.) The laughter that greeted the monk’s reference to Hitler was never reported or commented on in the media as far as I know. The guffawing indicated the Rajapaksa brothers’ lighthearted dismissal of the Hitler invocation as a joke. But the reverend monk’s cogent call for a righteous but firm government that will put an end to the present chaos was unlikely to be lost on the listeners to the sermon, and on the common people who subsequently heard it as reported in the media.

Incorrect is also the biased, culturally self-exiled intellectuals’ translation: ‘As the clergy, we feel the country needs a religious leader…’. It is completely wrong. These intellectuals, that Mendis has unfortunately relied on, have given an equally misleading translation of the Sinhala word ‘daehaemi’, ‘adhering to the dhamma’. The correct English word is ‘righteous’, not ‘religious’. As any person with average intelligence knows, the terms ‘righteous’ and ‘religious’ are not synonyms. To say that the country needs a ‘religious leader’ can only mean that the country needs a Buddhist ecclesiastic (a high monk) as ruler! That’s not what the prelate said. The monks are not demanding  that a Buddhist theocracy be established. That such a thing is inconceivable need hardly be stressed. But a false suggestion like that implying an alleged ‘threat of a religio-fascist state’ will be very useful for those who have evil designs on Sri Lanka. The recent conjuring up of the ghost of dead terrorism by a Tamil woman MP and state minister could be an orchestration at least partly inspired by this deliberate misinterpretation of the Anunayake thera’s urgent request to a potential leader of a future Sri Lankan government.

THE LETTER BY 50 ACADEMICS PROTESTING AGAINST ALLEGED INTIMIDATION BY EX-MILITARY OFFICERS

July 15th, 2018

DHARSHAN WEERASEKERA, Attorney-at-Law

I read with amusement an article in The Island of 12th July 2018 titled, ‘Dons condemn incendiary statements against HRCSL.’ It’s about a letter written by 50 academics condemning the conduct of a number of ex-military officers who had said that academics (or anyone else) found to have supported attempts by certain foreign countries, with the help of the Tamil Diaspora, to compromise the sovereignty of Sri Lanka should be treated as traitors, and if found guilty, hanged.

Today, the sad reality in this country is that academics are doing politics, and when this is pointed out, instead of mending their ways and doing what is traditionally – or perhaps ideally – expected of academics, which is to provide informed and scholarly commentary on issues of national importance, attack the critics, in this case ex-military officers.  As far as I’m concerned, if our fighting-men can’t call a spade a spade, then no one can.

In this article, I shall briefly comment on two key passages in the letter, then explain what I understand by the word ‘treason’ and why in a general sense it may not be entirely wrong for most Sri Lankans, not just ex-military officers, to consider that anyone aiding or abetting the agents of foreign countries to compromise Sri Lanka’s sovereignty ought to be hanged.

POINTS TO CONSIDER IN THE LETTER

I emphasize that, I am relying entirely on the letter as reported in The Island of 12th July 2018.  Here’s the first passage on which I wish to comment.  The letter says:

‘It has been many months now since a certain group of individuals, led by ex-military personnel, proclaimed before the media that individuals who are supportive of a new Constitution ought to be considered as ‘traitors’ acting against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.  Such individuals, it was further stated, ought to be held accountable for their ‘traitorous’ acts in a court of law and punished with death and that action will be taken against them at a future date when a new political leadership assumes power.’[1]

In respect of the above, I draw the reader’s attention to the following matters:

If by ‘new Constitution’ the 50 academics mean the process that began on 9th March 2016 with the entire Parliament converting itself into a ‘Constitutional Assembly,’ one must remember that the aforesaid event happened in the backdrop of the Government enjoying a 2/3 majority because 45 SLFP MP’s had joined the UNP to form a ‘National Government,’ something for which the said 45 did not have a mandate from their voters.

Further, Chapter 12 of the Constitution, which sets out the procedure for bringing constitutional amendments does not state anywhere that Parliament can or must turn itself into a ‘Constitutional Assembly’ in order to bring such amendments.

On account of both grounds above, many critics have argued that the constitution-making process launched under the Framework Resolution of 9th March 2016.  These critics have included former Justice Minister Mr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse and former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva.

It is reasonable to suppose that, when a former Justice Minister and a former Chief Justice say that there’s a fundamental legal problem with a particular course of action being pursued by the Government, regardless of whether they may be correct in such assessment, a responsible Government would take some steps to obtain a definitive legal opinion on the matter, just to be on the safe side.

The Government has the means to obtain such an opinion, for instance, by getting the President to invoke Article 129 and request the Supreme Court for an Advisory Opinion on the matter in question.

To my knowledge, none of the 50 academics who have condemned a number of our ex-military men for allegedly exceeding the bounds of propriety in criticizing those who support the bid to bring a new Constitution have written an article assessing the legality of the constitution-making process.  Neither have they seen fit to publicly call on the President to invoke Article 129 and obtain a definitive ruling on the matter.

Meanwhile, to turn to the ‘Interim Report’ of the Constitutional Steering Committee which was tabled in September 2017 – the report will be the basis for any final Constitutional Proposal if and when such a proposal is ever tabled – it should be noted that one of the key proposals in that report is to delete the term ‘Unitary State’ in Article 2 of the Constitution and replace it with the term ‘aekiya rajyaya/orumiththa nadu.’

The legal effect of such a change will be to turn Sri Lanka into a confederation of the 9 Provinces, with each Province enjoying inter alia a right to unilateral secession.[2]  In short, it will put in place the legal foundation for a future secession by one or more of the Provinces.

I need hardly mention that, the above is happening while the Government is continuing to postpone Provincial Council elections, the best way since the 10th February Local Government elections for the People to let the Government know what they think of the Government’s performance over the past three years, including the constitution-making process.

Under the circumstances, it would not be surprising if most Sri Lankans, not just ex-military men, consider that persons who support the bid to bring the new Constitution are ‘traitors’ bent on compromising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country.   In fact, most Sri Lankans would probably say that hanging is too good for such persons!

The second passage on which I wish to comment is the following.   The letter says:

‘Statements such as the above [i.e. alleged statements by the ex-military men that the Chairperson of the HRCSL Dr. Deepika Udagama is unfairly preventing Sri Lankan military personnel from serving in UN peacekeeping missions] are not only threats directed at the life and liberty of the Chairperson of the HRCSL.  They amount to threats leveled at all public officials, academics and citizens of this country who subscribe to political opinions different from those who utter such statements.  These statements, which are of a hateful and defamatory character, amount to threats that endanger human life and personal safety and are thus punishable under the law.’[3]

In respect of the above, I draw the reader’s attention to the following matters:

If what the ex-military men have done is to ask that the law be applied to persons who may be guilty of treason, such a recommendation by itself cannot be considered a ‘threat that endangers human life and personal safety.’  Whether or not someone is guilty of treason is a question of fact and law that a court must ultimately decide.  Recommending that someone be tried for treason doesn’t mean that the trials will necessarily he held, let alone that anyone will be hanged.  So, no one needs to worry.

I am not sure exactly what the head of the HRCSL may have said or done to get the ex-military men in question annoyed at her, but, the general issue involved, if I’m not mistaken, is that numerous academics and NGO’ists in recent years have been claiming that our armed forces are guilty of war crimes.

Generally speaking, charges of war crimes fall into two types:  those leveled against individual soldiers, and those leveled against an armed force as such and by extension the State, i.e. where ‘command responsibility’ is alleged, which ties a particular offence to the chain of command of an army and ultimately the civilian leadership.  The aforesaid academics and NGO’ists are leveling both of these types of charges.

Whether one accuses a particular soldier or the army collectively of war crimes, it goes without saying that the accuser must be able to first substantiate his or her allegations with sufficient evidence.

To the best of my knowledge, soon after the end of the war in May 2009, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, along with certain reports of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner, recommended that a number of incidents be investigated to see if war crimes had been committed by individual soldiers, and the armed forces promptly launched those investigations. Some of those investigations have now been completed while others may still be continuing.

However, to the best of my knowledge, there are only two reports associated with the UN that leveled a charge of war crimes against the State, i.e. which said that the chain of command of the armed forces plus the civilian leadership that oversaw the war is responsible for such crimes.

The two reports are:  ‘The Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka (POE)’ in 2011; and, ‘The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL)’ in 2015.

Of these two, even the UN has now more or less conceded that the POE is of questionable legality.  That leaves the OISL report as the sole basis for the claim that the Sri Lankan armed forces are collectively responsible for war crimes.  Unfortunately, neither the UN nor the Government ever subjected the OISL report to an official assessment in order to find out if its conclusions followed from its evidence.

To my knowledge, no group of Sri Lankan academics, including the 50 who have signed the letter, have ever carried out such an assessment, nor have I seen any letter by them urging the Government to carry out such an assessment.

To digress a moment, in February 2017, a number of private citizens including myself carried out an assessment of the OISL report, and we found the report to be full of lies, obfuscations, contradictions, and also characterized by a total failure to consider exculpatory evidence.

The report of our findings, titled, ‘A Factual Appraisal of the OISL Report:  A Rebuttal to the Allegations against the Armed Forces,’ was handed over to the UN representative in Sri Lanka, along with the Presidential Secretariat, and also forwarded to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  We have not had any response to the report so far in spite of repeated inquiries.

Therefore, as per the legal maxim, ‘Qui tacit consentire videtur’ (‘He who is silent appears to consent’) we have concluded that the aforesaid institutions have now accepted the analysis an conclusions of our report, and have formally notified them of this.  Hence, as far as I’m aware, there is at present no rational basis for anyone to keep claiming that the Sri Lankan armed forces are collectively responsible for war crimes.

Under the circumstances, if Dr. Udagama or anyone else argues that Sri Lankan armed forces personnel ought not to be given an opportunity to participate in UN peacekeeping missions because of allegations that the armed forces are collectively responsible for war crimes, (I’m not saying this is their argument but if it is) then not just ex-military men but any citizen of Sri Lanka can demand that Udagama et al show evidence for their claims, and if they can’t, hold them accountable for such failure.

TREASON

The constraints of time prevent me from discussing the above topic in the detail it deserves, but in general, ‘treason’ is understood as the waging of war against one’s country or helping the enemies of one’s country to wage war against it.  It is an offence under Section 114 of the Penal Code, and the punishment if found guilty is death.

It is also generally understood that, a person can commit treason only during a time of war, so normally persons who promote or advocate policies that can arguably be helpful to a country’s enemies cannot be considered as having committed treason, unless the aforesaid acts are done during a time of war.

However, when our Penal Code was written in the mid 1880’s, the country had not experienced Tamil Separatism, or the related terrorism.  We also did not have a Constitution that explicitly vests the sovereignty of the country in the People.  In my view, it may be possible given the realities of today that an act that compromises the sovereignty of the country even at a time when the country is not at war can be interpreted as an attack on the People and therefore by definition an act of war.

The whole thing will depend on the courts.  Interested parties can file an experimental case and see what happens.  The point is this.  I doubt that the Sinhalas when they take power will have the time to go after ‘small fry’ academics and NGO’ists for what the latter may have done in the past few years.  The Sinhalas will be too busy pulling the country out of the social, political and constitutional abyss into which the present Government has pushed it since coming to power in 2015.

However, academics and NGO’ists will do well remember that rights always go hand in hand with responsibilities.  If certain academics and NGO’ists have been in the habit of overtly or tacitly helping the cause of the Tamil separatists, and this includes helping to push a new Constitution that seeks to turn Sri Lanka into an ‘orumiththa nadu,’ they must know that they can be asked to account for their actions.

[1] ‘Dons condemn incendiary statements against HRCSL,’ The Island, 12th July 2018

[2] See for instance my articles, ‘The Interim Report of the Constitutional Steering Committee of Sri Lanka:  A Brief Analysis, parts 1, 2 and 3’ published in www.lankaweb.com in early April and May 2018

[3] ‘Dons condemn incendiary statements against HRCSL,’ The Island, 12th July 2018

කරාපිටිය වෛද්‍ය පීඨයේදී හෙදියන්ට පහර දීමේ සිද්ධිය (තෙවන කොටස)

July 15th, 2018

වෛද් රුවන් එම් ජයතුංග 

මෙම අර්බුධය උත්සන්න වෙමින් පවතින විටදී කරාපිටිය ශික්‍ෂණ රෝහලේ ළමා රෝග විශේෂඥ වෛද්‍ය මහාචාර්‍ය සුජීව අමරසේන මහතා ගේ මෝටර්  රථයට පහරදී අලාභ හාණි කරනු ලැබීය​. ඔහුට නොකඩවා මරණීය තර්ජන දුරකථන මාර්ගයෙන් එල්ල කරන ලදි. තවද වේලාහෙට්ටි නම් සිසුවෙක්  සුජීව අමරසේන මහතා ඝාතනය කිරීම සඳහා කුමන්ත්‍රණයක් දියත් කල බවත් පසුව එය අසාර්ථක වූ බවත් ගාල්ල  නගරයේ  ව්‍යාපාරිකයෙකු පවසයි. 

අමරසේන මහතා පවසන පරිදි නඩුව අවසානයේදී චූදිතයන්ට වෛද්‍ය පීඨය තුලදී ගුරුවරුන් ගෙන් සමාව ගැනීමටත්, වාහනයට කළ අලාබය නිසා රුපියල් 170000 මුදලක් ගෙවීමටත් පහර කන ලද හෙදියන් සඳහා එක් හෙදියෙකුට රුපියල් 5000 බැගින් ගෙවීමට සිදු වූ බවත් පවසයි. සියළුම චූදිතයන් සති දෙකට රිමාන්ඩ් කරනු ලැබීය . නඩුව වසර හතක් අසන ලදි.  

මහාචාර්‍ය සුජීව අමරසේන මහතා පෙන්වා දෙන පරිදි එම් .වී .ප්‍රියංකා නම් ගැබිණි හෙදියට පා පහර දෙන ලද්දේ මාරයා යන අන්වර්ථ නාමයෙන් හඳුන්වන ලද ලලිත් පෙරේරා නම් සිසුවෙකි. ඔහු 22 කණ්ඩායමේ සිසුවෙකු විය​.  හෙදියන්ට පහර දීමට ක්‍රියා කල තවත් සිසුවෙකු වූ අමරසේකර  නම් තැනැත්තා පසු කාලයක මොලයේ පිළිකාවක් නිසා මිය ගියේය​. ඔහුගේ පියා බලපිටිය රේවත විද්‍යාලයේ හිටපු විදුහල්පතිවරයෙකි. ඔහුගෙන් පහර කෑ එක් හෙදියක් මෙම අමරසේකර  නම් සිසුවාව හඳුනා ගත්තද ඔහුට එරෙහිව සාක්කි දුන්නේ නැත​. හේතුව ඇය අමරසේකර ගේ පියාගේ සිසුවියක වීම නිසාය​.  මේ නඩුව නිසා කේ.ජී.ඒ කුමාර නම් සිසුවා අධ්‍යනය වසරකින්  පහත ගියේය​.  

මෙම නඩුව ගැන අදහස් දැක්වූ වෛද්‍ය ඉඳුනිල් විජේනායක නොහොත් WGID කුමාර මෙසේ කියයි 

” මම ගිය අවුරුද්දේ ලංකාවට ගියාම මට හම්බ උනා වෛද්‍ය පීඨයේ පර​ණසිකියුරිටි මහත්මයෙක් . එයා ඇවිත් මම එක්ක කතාකලා. පස්සෙ මම එයාට  කිව්ව ඔයා මම නර්ස්ලට ගහනව දැක්ක කියල සාක්ෂි දුන්න මතකද ? කියල. එයා කිව්ව පිස්සුද  මහත්තය මම තාම මූනුවලින් දන්නෙ නෑ මම සාක්ෂි වල දීපු අයගෙ නම්. අපි රස්සාව බේර ගන්න එයාල දෙන නමක් පොතේ ලියනව කියල. මට හිතෙනව එයා මම කියන තුරු දන්නෙ නෑ ඒක. විශ්ව විද්‍යාල ඉන්ක්වයරි වලදි එයාල කවදාවත් ඉඩ දෙන්නෙ නෑ සාක්ෂිකාරයො cross questioning කරන්න. ඒක ස්වාභාවික යුක්තියට පටහැනියි. එයාල එහෙම කරන්න ඉඩ නොදෙන්නෙ තමන්ට ඕන අයව දඩයම් කරන්න පාර ඇර ගන්න.  කැම්පස් වල උන් දන්නව සික්කොන්ට දෙන නම් ටික උන් දෙන්නෙ කියල. පරිපාලනේ මගේ නම දැම්මෙ W G I D kumara කියල රිජිස්ට්‍රෙෂන් එකේ තියන විදියටඔය සික්කො එකෙක්වත් මගේ නම කුමාර කියල දන්නෙ නෑ තාමත්. උන් දන්නෙ මම ඉදුනිල් කියල……… සුසිරිත් (මහාචාර්‍ය සුසිරිත් මෙන්ඩිස්)  කියන්නේ  අපරිණත පරිපාලකයෙක්. සිසුන්ගෙ පීඩනය තේරුම් ගැනීමට පරිපාලන බුද්ධියක්  ඔහුට තිබ්බෙ නෑ. කැන්ටිමට පුටුවක් මේසයක්.ඉල්ලුවත් ඔහු හිතුවේ ජේවීපී උවමනාව කියල. ලමයින්ට පාඩම් තැනක් ඉල්ලුවම ඔහු හිතුවෙ පෝස්ටර් අදින්න තැනක් ඉල්ලනව කියල. ඔහු ෆ්ලෙක්සිබල් පරිපාලකයෙක් උනේ නෑ.කිසිම දවසක ඔහුට බැරි උනා ශිෂ්‍ය නියෝජිතයො නියෝජනය කලේ පොදු ශිෂ්‍ය මතය කියල තේරුම් ගන්න.මම හිටිය කාලේ  ඩීන් හිටියෙ එයා. මුකුත් ලමයින්ට නොදුන්නත් මම එක්ක පුද්ගලික ගැටුමක් එයාට තිබුන කියල මම හිතන්නෙ නෑ.  ඔය සිද්දිය වෙනකම් එහෙම එකක් තිබ්බ කියල. හැබැයි එයා හිතුව  ඕකට ලමයි විරුද්ද් උනේ අපේ උවමනාවට කියල……  

මෙම අර්බුධය පිලිබඳව මහාචාර්‍ය සුසිරිත් මෙන්ඩිස් ගේ භූමිකාව පැහැදිළි කර ගනු වස් මම ඔහුට පණිවිඩ කීපයක් දුන්නද මහාචාර්‍ය  මෙන්ඩිස් නිහඞ වූවා මිසක පිලිතුරක් දුන්නේ නැත. එසේම මෙම පහරදීමේ සිද්ධිය නිසා නීතිය හමුවට ගෙන එන ලද දැනට විශේෂඥ වෛද්‍යවරයෙකු ලෙස කටයුතු කරන සාරද කන්නංගර මහතා ගෙන් ප්‍රකාශයක් ගැනිමට මා උත්සහ කෙරුවද ඔහුද මට පිළිතුරක් දුන්නේ නැත​. 

මෙම අවාසනාවන්ත සිද්ධිය විග්‍රහ කල බැලීමේදී  පෙනී යන්නේ සරසවි සිසු ත්‍රස්තවාදය , අන්තවාදී සිසු සංවිධාන , අපරිණත සහ දඩයම් මානසිකත්වයෙන් යුතු පරිපාලනය , අවස්ථාවාදී වෘත්තීය සංගම් විසින් මෙම අර්බුධය ඇති කල බවයි. 

රුහුණ විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයේ කරාපිටිය වෛද්‍ය පීඨයේදී හෙදියන්ට පහර දීමේ සිද්ධිය වෛද්‍ය පීඨය ලත් විශාල කැළලක් මෙන්ම අපකීර්තියක්ද වන්නේය​. මෙම සිද්ධිය සඳහා චෝදනා ලද වෛද්‍ය සිසුන් බොහෝ දෙනෙකු අද වෛද්‍යවරුන් ලෙස සේවය කරති. ඔවුන් බොහෝ දෙනෙකු මේ වන විට අන්තවාදී මානසිකත්වයකින් බැහැරවී සිටින බව පෙනෙන්නට තිබේ.  එය සතුටට කරුණකි. 

අවසාන වශයෙන් කිව යුත්තේ මෙවැනි අවාසනාවන්ත සිදුවීම් ඉදිරි කාලයේ සිදු නොවීම සඳහා කරාපිටිය සිදුවීම සෑම දෙනෙකුටම පාඩමක් වන බවයි.  තවද කරාපිටිය කළු පැල්ලම වර්තමාන සරසවි සිසුන්ටද පණිවිඩයක් දෙයි. එනම් ඔබ විසින් සරසවි ජීවිතයේදී යම් අකටයුත්තක් සිදු කලහොත් එය වසර දහයකට හෝ විස්සකට පසුවද ඔබව හඹාගෙන එයි.  

වෛද් රුවන් එම් ජයතුංග 

(සංවාදයට විවෘතයි. තමන් ගේ නියම අනන්‍යතාවය  හරහා අදහස් දැක්විය හැක ) 

කරාපිටිය වෛද් පීඨයේදී හෙදියන්ට පහර දීමේ සිද්ධිය (පළමු කොටස​)  ලින්කුව  :http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2018/07/08/%E0%B6%9A%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%8F%E0%B6%B4%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%A7%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%BA-%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%9B%E0%B6%AF%E0%B7%8A%E2%80%8D%E0%B6%BA-%E0%B6%B4%E0%B7%93%E0%B6%A8%E0%B6%BA%E0%B7%9A%E0%B6%AF%E0%B7%93/

කරාපිටිය වෛද්‍ය පීඨයේදී හෙදියන්ට පහර දීමේ සිද්ධිය (දෙවන කොටස​) ලින්කුව : http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2018/07/10/%E0%B6%9A%E0%B6%BB%E0%B7%8F%E0%B6%B4%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%A7%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%BA-%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%9B%E0%B6%AF%E0%B7%8A%E2%80%8D%E0%B6%BA-%E0%B6%B4%E0%B7%93%E0%B6%A8%E0%B6%BA%E0%B7%9A%E0%B6%AF%E0%B7%93-2/

On Contact: The Coming Collapse of the American Economic System with Richard Wolff

July 15th, 2018

Economist Richard Wolff discusses the coming economic collapse of the United States of America.

Lajja!

July 15th, 2018

Editorial Monday 16th July, 2018 Courtesy The Island


Doctors have threatened to stop performing heart surgeries, at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital (KTH), owing to a defect in the airconditioning system, as we reported the other day. An intensive care unit has been seriously affected by the defective AC plant, with patients dying of infections.

The critical importance of post-surgical care cannot be overemphasised. Why Dr. Namal Gamage, a respected cardiothoracic surgeon, and his team have decided to stop heart surgeries, unless the airconditioning problem is sorted out, is understandable. Patients’s lives must not be endangered by keeping them in an infected ICU.

The yahapalana government has launched an ambitious development drive, obviously, in view of the next elections, having suffered a crushing electoral defeat a few moons ago. It claims that it has funds for that purpose while squeezing the hapless public dry by means of the newly passed draconian tax laws, which have not spared even the savings accounts of children and senior citizens.

How can a government which is not capable of fixing at least an airconditioner in a cardiac ICU of a vital hospital expect the public to take its much-advertised development programme seriously? Before trying to bribe the public with their own money by way of a politically motivated development drive, shouldn’t the government get its priorities right and take action to save the lives of needy people like the heart patients at the KTH?

What if the airconditioning system at Parliament develops a fault? It will be fixed in next to no time and, perhaps, the maintenance staff interdicted. Besides, billions of rupees have been allocated, since the 2015 regime change, for buying the whole bunch of useless ministers luxury vehicles and repairing their official residences. The government has also spent millions of rupees as rent on a building which was not used. The yahapalana leaders during their presidential and parliamentary election campaigns vowed to curtail wasteful state expenditure and corruption and use the funds so saved to grant relief to the public and develop the country. But, the country has come to such a pass that heart patients are dying due to lack of proper airconditioning, with their woeful appeals falling on the stony deaf ears of the yahapalana leaders.

It is being claimed in some quarters that the delay in fixing the KTH airconditioner is due to bureaucratic red tape, which is the bane of the public service. Why is it that such problems are conspicuous by their absence when it comes to feathering politicians’ nests? There are no delays in repairing the President’s House, Temple Trees and the Opposition Leader’s official residence? Why can’t the government act so efficiently in effecting repairs to the state-run hospitals as well?

Surely, the government is capable of cutting through the bureaucratic red tape if it chooses to, as we have seen on several occasions. President Maithripala usually issues executive orders, in disaster situations, that rules and regulations be disregarded in providing relief to victims expeditiously. He has had to do so because state officials are notorious for dragging their feet on virtually anything, trotting out various excuses. (However, the presidential orders, at issue, usually do not yield the desired results. The victims of the Salawa armoury blast and the Meethotamulla landfill collapse are still demanding compensation.) Either the President or the Prime Minister or the Health Minister should make an intervention for the sake of the patients waiting to undergo heart surgeries at the KTH.

The role of Asean’s ports in China’s Belt and Road

July 15th, 2018

By Suwatchai Songwanich CEO, Bangkok Bank (China) Courtesy The Nation

China’s investments in deep-sea ports in Myanmar and Cambodia will provide critical links in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but there are also concerns that they could give China undue economic leverage in the region.

On the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar, Chinese state-owned firms have been given the green light to construct a $7.3 billion deep-water port and a $2.7 billion industrial area in a special economic zone which would be 70 per cent owned by China and 30 per cent owned by Myanmar. However, if the costs of Myanmar’s share prove too much to bear there are concerns it could fall into a debt trap, as happened with Sri Lanka, which late last year handed over control of its Hambantota port to China.

Apart from Myanmar, China is also investing in Cambodia and several ports in Malaysia, including a planned deep-sea port in Malaysia’s Melaka, once the hub of the ancient spice trade. The Melaka Gateway project will be jointly developed by Malaysian and Chinese firms.

A key consideration in these and other port developments is China’s security concerns, especially regarding energy. Over 80 per cent of China’s maritime oil imports pass through the Malacca Straits (between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), and the development of alternative routes though the region would help to mitigate this risk.

China also has a strategic imperative to develop integrated supply chains, and investing in ports is an integral part of this. Already China holds direct stakes in ports that clear approximately two-thirds of the world’s container volume. Chinese companies also own some of the world’s largest container carriers, such as China COSCO Shipping, and are investing in logistics, warehouses, industrial estates, railroads, refineries and energy pipelines that feed into the supply chain.

Naturally Southeast Asia is a major focus in this strategy as China is Asean’s largest trade partner and about half of China’s trade with Belt and Road countries is with Asean.

However, there are many challenges that need to be overcome. In Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, where a Chinese-funded deep-water port and Special Economic Zone is being built, locals complain that it has become a Chinese enclave. In Malaysia, the new government is reviewing all Chinese projects including the ports and the planned new rail link with Singapore. And in Sri Lanka, the Hambantota port is far from being a commercial success. These situations illustrate some of the challenges facing the Belt and Road Initiative and the need to find a balance between strategic goals, economic imperatives and local needs.

While China isn’t a big investor in Thailand’s ports, the major deep-water port at Laem Chabang is being expanded as part of the Eastern Economic Corridor. Bids for the development of the port will take place later this year and, given that it will link up with the Belt and Road, clearly China will have an interest.

Western media misread Sri Lanka’s debt issue

July 15th, 2018

By Wang Se Source:Global Times

Recently, some Western media outlets have accused China of using debt trap to expand its influence to Sri Lanka and other countries along the Belt and Road route. They allege that China lures countries of strategic significance into the debt trap by giving them huge loans and then taking over infrastructural projects there after these less developed countries cannot afford to repay the debts. Indian scholar Brahma Chellaney described it as debt-trap diplomacy. But is it really the case?

To begin with, China has no intention of trapping other countries with debts. In developing the Hambantota Port, China has been following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and Sri Lanka has been taking the initiative on construction of the port all the time.

Elected in 2005, former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to develop Hambantota Port. But given scarce finances, Sri Lanka turned to China after its request was turned down by India. Beijing agreed to offer loans considering the long-term friendship between the two countries and Colombo’s call for development. Western media’s hype of China’s “conspiracy” is baseless.

Before the deal was inked in July 2017 to hand over the port to Chinese firms, China was participating in the construction and hadn’t been involved in the port’s management. The losses are a result of Sri Lanka’s political instability and inability to deliver. China is unwilling to see the losses, which would only raise the risks of Sri Lanka breaking the contract.

Moreover, China cannot be blamed for Sri Lanka’s debt quagmire. Government debt to GDP in Sri Lanka averaged 69.69 percent from 1950 until 2017. This is rooted in the country’s financial deficit – triggered by low revenues and huge welfare costs. In 2016, Sri Lanka’s financial deficit accounted for 5.4 percent of its GDP. Hence, the government had to borrow money.

Since April this year, Sri Lankan government has launched tax reforms to generate more income. According to official figures, Sri Lanka owed China $2.87 billion in 2017, which is only 10 percent of the country’s foreign debt. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s debt to Japan reached 12 percent of its total. Why does the West not blame Japan for Sri Lanka’s debt problem? Western countries have double standards in viewing China’s loans to other developing countries.

Western media holds pessimistic views on the economic prospects of the Hambantota Port. In fact, the port has huge potential, which if fully tapped would bring promising economic returns to Sri Lanka. After taking over the port, China has been establishing industrial parks and developing infrastructure so as to draw more investments. This will bring economic benefits to the port. While China can take advantage of the port to strengthen economic ties with South Asian countries, the facility can help Sri Lanka boost exports, provide more jobs to local people and generate higher tax revenues. This reflects the Belt and Road initiative’s purpose of mutual benefit.

For developing countries, debt is not an absolute monster. It can boost economic growth if used properly. China’s loans can help recipient countries address financial problems and boost foreign exchange reserves. China will continue to cooperate with Sri Lanka and other countries along the Belt and Road route and create more favorable conditions for their development.

The author is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. [email protected]

Sri Lanka’s traditional medicines to be protected under int’l intellectual property system

July 15th, 2018

Courtesy Xinhua

COLOMBO, July 14 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka has announced that it is moving its centuries-old folk medicine system for protection under the international intellectual property system, local media reported Saturday.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen said the government was working with Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for the last five years to introduce intellectual property support to Sri Lanka’s traditional, indigenous medicine system.

Sri Lanka’s very own indigenous medical practice is centuries old, and co-exists with the country’s Ayurveda practice.

“Ayurveda practice is a long-standing tradition in Sri Lanka existing with our indigenous medicine system. Similar to our local medicine system, it supports our wellness and medical tourism development as well,” Minister Bathiudeen said.

“We are expanding our intellectual property system to protect our traditional medicine system as well. For example, our historic local medicine system which is part of our Ayurveda can be placed under global traditional knowledge support,” the minister added.

The minister also noted that the government’s efforts would protect the valuable indigenous medicine practiced in Sri Lanka across many other countries and competitors.

It would also ensure the government’s continued efforts to develop medical tourism.

‘SINHALA TRIUMPHALISM’

July 14th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

REVISED 14.7.18

The Government of Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE in Eelam war IV on 18th May 2009. There was a spontaneous outpouring of joy at the crushing defeat of the ‘invincible army’. People showed their joy island wide. The entire island erupted in jubilation.  On 22nd May an estimated 150,000 people converged on Colombo for a mass celebration. They came from all parts of the country, including remote villages. Senior citizens, toddlers and   disabled persons took part in the celebrations.

President Rajapakse held a banquet for the officers of the armed forces. Journalists who had reported on the war were felicitated by the Thunhela National Movement. There was all night pirit at Sri Lanka embassy in Moscow, to invoke blessings on President, government, citizens and the war heroes. Monks were conducted to the venue in a colorful perahera.

The victory celebrations had started well before the war ended in May 2009. The public watched the war closely on the website run by the Defence ministry. When Kilinochchi, the headquarters of the LTTE fell on 2nd January, the website received 13 million hits within a few hours, the highest number of hits ever received by a locally hosted website. The public knew the importance of Kilinochchi.There were firecrackers throughout the country. The loudest crackers I heard at my home were for Kilinochchi.

Three days later, citizens across the country hoisted national flags and observed two minutes silence for the fallen heroes of Kilinochchi. A large crowd including Buddhist monks, gathered as the entrance to Parliament to praise the security forces for taking Kilinochchi. In Akuressa town, they celebrated with kiribath made of 500 kilos of rice.

In Nuwara Eliya they gathered in the town, chanted slogans praising the soldiers, let off a 150 meter line of fire crackers and listened to the Maha sangha at the Post Office. In all state schools pupils observed two minutes silence.  In Kandy, teachers and pupils went in procession along Dalada veediya and gathered before the Dalada Maligawa. Academic and non academic staff of University of Peradeniya observed two minutes silence. Unichela garment factory workers at Pannala   sang the national anthem and observed two minutes silence for Kilinochchi.

Durand Appuhamy observed that the victory celebrations in May 2009 were spontaneous. The sense of liberation and gratitude was so overwhelming that it needed spontaneous celebrations, with dansalas and kiribath at street parties, he said. It was an instinctive appreciation of the work of the armed forces. Why should one restrain such joy?  Why people cannot give vent to their emotions in a positive way, he asked.

N.A. de S Amaratunga said Sinhala nationalism has a history of self preservation rather than aggression.  It is this sense of nationalism that is on display in the celebrations, ‘resisting successfully everything that Tami separatism could throw at it locally and internationally’.

Nalin de Silva observed that Eelam War IV was undoubtedly a great victory. The government of a small country had defeated a terrorist outfit supported and

sponsored by the western powers. Col. C.R.Hariharan said LTTE has been outwitted, out-gunned and out-strategized by the Sri Lanka army, this must be accepted.

Dayan Jayatilleke said that by defeating the Tigers so completely and utterly, Sri Lanka and its armed forces made a contribution to regional and global security. ‘We have got

precious little thanks for making the region a little safer’ he added. Gotabhaya Rajapakse suggested that other countries facing terrorism should follow Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had shown that terrorism could be defeated.

As soon as the war ended Ananda College, Royal College, and Thurstan College, Colombo had ceremonies to honor past pupils who fell in the war. Before that Thurstan College had commemorated their war heroes with a monument on 11.1. 2009. The newspaper carried photos of those who had fallen in war.

Ananda College proudly noted that in Eelam War IV, the secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Army commander Sarath Fonseka, Navy commander Wasantha Karannagoda, Civil Defence force director, Sarath Weerasekera and the commanders of the 53, 55, 57, and 59 brigades were from Ananda. The name of all old Ananda war heroes are inscribing the war memorial erected at school premises.

The Eelam victory continued to be remembered. In 2014 the Sri Lanka Consulate in Sydney, Australia honored the army for liberating Sri Lanka. Colonel Atureliya who delivered the Ranaviru commemoration speech said that their victory would not have been possible if not for the brave soldiers. They must never forget the heroic sons and daughters who laid down their lives. One has to live in the precincts of war, hear the explosions see the carnage, hear the cries of the injured, see human flesh dangling from heights, brains scattered, the damage to property, the sirens of ambulances to understand what it was like. ’

When Ananda celebrated its 125th anniversary, in Nov 2011, mention was again made of the ‘erudite and patriotic citizens produced by Ananda and the thousands of heroes to the armed forces who fought in 2009.  In 2013 Nalanda Vidyalaya OBA had a commemoration ceremony for its war heroes.

Sinharaja Tammita Delgoda said one of the most strking things about Eelam War IV was the chorus of derision and condemnation in which the operation was conducted. No other fighting force had faced this kind of ridicule during a campaign. Bogollagama noted that the war was fought in an unhelpful and hostile background.  The army was winning, but it was publicly ridiculed by a section of the political elite.  But this did not deter the armed forces. They were determined to win.

Certain sections of the media supported Eelam. They said that LTTE could not be militarily defeated, the army could not hold liberated areas, and the ‘international community’ would not allow the government to defeat the LTTE. The Eelam war was categorized as an unwinnable war.  The media protested when INGOs, NGOs, and UN agencies were asked to leave LTTE held territory and alleged that the Sri Lanka Air Force had used cluster ammunition and had targeted civilians including schools. ‘It was a shock to them that the LTTE was defeated on its own territory,’

On May 18, 2009, Sri Lanka ended the decades long civil war. The day after, May 19, was celebrated as Victory Day” and marked with military parades. The celebrations of the first victory day were presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose government won the war. There were annual victory day celebrations thereafter, in the month of May.  From 2010-2013 they were held at Galle Face, Colombo. In 2014 and 2015, at Matara . In 2016 and 2017, under Yahapalana at the headquarters of the Armed Forces, Battaramulla. Addressing victory day celebration at Matara, in 2014 President said the celebrating this great victory is a duty of a grateful nation. Freedom was bought through the sacrifice of thousands of lives.

‘Victory Day’ in Sri Lanka  however, was seen as an expression of ‘Sinhala triumphalism’. The victory celebrations in 2009 and after were criticised as ‘triumphalism’. Kumar David titled his weekly essay ‘Sinhala nationalism’s triumphal moment.’’ Sri Lanka was asked not to engage in triumphalism. Eelamists were upset about Sinhala ‘triumphalism’ because the LTTE lost, said anti-Eelamists. ‘In their despair, they are arbitrarily pinning on the Sinhalese a non-existent ‘triumphalism’. Among the Eelamists, there was open resentment of what they called Sinhala triumphalism. Tamils felt conquered, observed Shamindra Ferdinando. They were not prepared to accept the defeat.

Anti-Eelamists pointed out that the Eelamists had also shown ‘triumphalism’ whenever the LTTE won. ‘When they bombed Central Bank the LTTE were jubilant, in ecstatic mood, said naval officer Boyagoda who had been a prisoner in Jaffna at the time. It was one of the most successful and symbolically significant attacks the LTTE had ever made.

Then came the Mullaitivu debacle. As usual our jailer looked happy and told us the story, said Boyagoda. The Tigers had completely destroyed the military camp at Mullaitivu, 1200 government troops were killed. When something good happened they were ready to talk, when there were reversals they moody and monosyllabic, such as the Welioya incident where the Tigers were killed.

The victory monuments erected to mark significant battles, such as Muhamalai, and heroic deeds such as that of the Hasalaka hero, were also interpreted as ‘triumphalism’. Channel Four said ‘nothing so describes the arrogance of power as the vast and brutal war memorials celebrating the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, boasting of the army’s heroism and patriotism in defeating what they call the Terrorists”

This ‘Sinhala triumphalism’ was viewed with great concern by the Tamil seperaist movment. It showed a strengthening of Sinhala resistance to their bogus separatist claims.  Therefore, they got it included in the two UN reports that inquired into war crimes in Sri Lanka. ‘The Government celebrated its military victory in a triumphalist way’ said the OISL Report (2015).

There were several issues, which if left un-addressed will hamper future peace, said the Darusman Report (2011). Most notably, these include triumphalism on the part of the Government  expressed through its discourse on the means and will to defeat “terrorism”, and thus end Tamil aspirations for political, autonomy and recognition, and its denial regarding the human cost of its military strategy, by which they mean ‘war crimes’.”

‘Victory Day’ celebrations were opposed by those who supported Eelam. They questioned the annual Victory Parade. President Rajapaksa observed in 2011 ‘some of our opponents critique us for celebrating Sri Lanka’s victory over terrorism. They don’t want us to hold military parades, they allege we are exploiting the war victory for political gain and they demand that we stop recalling war victory’.

What is wrong with a Victory Day,   asked the anti-Eelamists. Victory days are celebrated all over the world to ensure that memories of a just struggle are not forgotten. Russia  annually celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany.  World War II Victory Day was still celebrated in Europe said analysts. No one speaks of triumphalism regarding these events. The Eelamists replied that WWII is commemorated because it was a war between sovereign states, but the Eelam is a ‘home and home quarrel’ and should be forgotten as soon as it is over.

In 2010 Tamil National Alliance wanted the Tamils to mourn Victory day, as a day of catastrophe”, a day of mass murder, genocide. Dayan Jayatilleke said that victory day was just that, it was ‘victory day’. It cannot be also a day of mourning. It commemorates a historically significant triumph over a cruel foe. The heroism the armed forces and our citizens who did not capitulate to terrorism and separatism. It celebrates the spirit of resistance of our nation. It salutes the memory of the service of the soldier sailors and airmen and their families. It was a glorious day of liberation and reunification of a divide state. It must stand alone.

Those who couldn’t stomach Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE resorted to various tactics to undermine the victory. Priyan Dias queried whether there is a need for rewards and punishments after a war. ‘One has to weep genuinely for the fallen enemies’.  Don’t the defeated have the right to mourn their dead? The north has a right to mourn their war heroes and even commemorate them as the government does in the south. It was implied that Eelam was legitimate and the Sri Lanka army should not be in the north. Also that the May 2009 victory was not a genuine victory. It was a spurious victory.  It was a victory full of war crimes.

Canada in 2014 demanded the cancellation of the victory parade, on behalf of all those, who had been pursuing war crimes allegations, against the Sri Lankan military. Sri Lanka quite rightly rejected this as blatant Canadian interference in purely a domestic matter, said Shamindra.

Canada then declared that it would not attend the victory parade. Canadian High Commissioner in Colombo, sent a strongly worded statement, saying that five years after the end of the conflict, the time has arrived for Sri Lanka to move past wartime discourse and to start working seriously towards reconciliation. Canada has encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to retire its annual Victory Day Parade, which perpetuates roles of victors and vanquished within the country, for a day of remembrance for all those who suffered as a result of the conflict.

The Yahapalana government, being a puppet government, agreed with this line of thought and promptly cancelled the Victory Day parade. The parade was converted to a remembrance day for both sides, GOSL and LTTE. The 18 of May 2015 will be commemorated by all as a turning point, Yahapalana said.

Yahapalana celebrated Remembrance Day at Battaramulla. The move from Colombo and Matara to Battaramulla, a suburb of Colombo indicated a desire to downplay the event, and perhaps eliminate it altogether, thus erasing the victory completely. However, the ‘Pohottu’ victory of February 2018 put an end to this plan. The Victory celebrations   were resumed.

The 2018 National War Heroes Day celebration was at the War Heroes Memorial opposite the parliamentary complex. President Maitripala Sirisena tweeted, expresses his deepest gratitude to all Sri Lankan war heroes on this National War Heroes Commemoration Day”.Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted saying nine years ago, Sri Lanka became free from the terrorism of the LTTE and says we must remember and honour the brave members of our military and their families who sacrificed so much for us to be able to live in peace”.

Events were organized in many other places to mark this event. A special event took place at Gajaba Regimental Centre Army Camp in Saliyapura, Anuradhapura to remember the war heroes. The event took place under the auspices of Major General Shavendra Silva.Another event to remember those killed in the fighting took place in Wellamullivaikkal, Mullaitivu. The event saw the participation of students from University of Jaffna, Northern Province Chief Minister and several other politicians.The 58th Division of the Sri Lanka Army provided refreshments through a Dansala to the people who attended this event. MP Wimal Weerawansa presided over a remembrance event at Panaduwa Malamulla War Heroes Memorial. . Victory Day was back.

‘Sinhala triumphalism’ did not pop up overnight. There was a long history behind it. The progress of the war was watched carefully and the achievements of the   armed forces were celebrated well before the final victory. In 2007 residents of Siriwardene Road, Dehiwela, Colombo felicitated the armed forces at a ceremony. They had made arrangements to donate crutches to disabled solders.

There was long standing opposition to the LTTE. In 2010 a group of Sirasa employees had contacted Island after Sirasa management declined to report the LTTE seizure of a stock of relief items collected by the media to be distributed among people affected by the Tsunami.

A large cross section of Sri Lankans from all walks of life demonstrated before Houses of Parliament, London in 2007 against the British MPs who had formed a group all the All Parliamentary Group of Tamils (APPGT). The protest was organized by the ‘Action group on Sri Lanka –UK’. In the same year, Sri Lankans in Italy with support of Italian Buddhists staged an anti-LTTE demonstration in Sicily. In 2008 a group of Buddhist monks handed over a petition to the Indian High Commission, Colombo, asking the Government of India not to interfere with the ongoing military campaign.

There was support for the war from persons outside the military. Several  medical specialists from Colombo , including Drs. Roshnara Gunaratne, Michael and Kamalika Abeyratne, Narendra and Hiranthi Wijemanne  and Mohan de Silva   had offered to come and treat the wounded in Vadamarachchi operation. 1987. Consultant anesthetist Dr. B.S. Perera    returned to Sri Lanka from Australia in 1994 and worked at the Military hospital from 1997 to 2000 and donated his full remuneration to the National Defence Fund and the Kobbekaduwa Trust Fund.

In 2008 Tamara Nilkanthi Katuwawela donated one lakh to Ministry of Defense to help with the war. The money was initially for her parent’s trip to India, but they decided to donate the money to this cause. In the same year, the father and family members of Gajaba regiment Lance corporal Indika Pathmaruwan Gamage who died in action, at Mavil Aru, donated 3 lakhs to the ‘Api wenuwen Api’ fund.

In 2009 a prison inmate named Sita Kumarihamy had won first prise of Rs. 20,000 for her poem in an all island poetry competition and she had donated it to the Ranaviru seva authority for the welfare of war heroes.  In 2013 the parents of Lt Commander Prabath Jayawardene who died in action, donated one acre land in Ja-ela to the navy who built 23 houses in it for married naval officers.

The desire to fight was not confined to the army. In 2007 two bhikkshus, Ven Halloluwe Vijitha and Ven Bambarande Gnananda gave up robes and joined the army.  In 2008 young men and women in Buttala and Tanamalvila volunteered to join the Civil Defence Force in Monaragala district to provide security to the civilians of villages and assist in tracking down the LTTE cadres who blew up a bus and attacked villages in the district.   Two minor employees of Sri Lanka Ports Authority detected two frogmen carrying explosives near the Jaya container Terminal. They alerted authorities and prevented an attack on Colombo Port in 1996. .

‘Sinhala triumphalism’ had something else to be triumphant about, the Sri Lanka army’s epic hostage rescue. This is considered a feat of heroism and dedication. At the final stage of Eelam War IV the Sri Lanka army rescued a huge number of hostages held by the LTTE .The Defence Ministry called it the world’s largest hostage rescue mission. This rescue started in April, 2009 and ended in May 2009. Around 300,000 civilians were rescued.

This magnificent rescue has not been given the recognition it deserves. Sarath Amunugama commented that more publicity should have been given to this heroic rescue operation, particularly the operation at Puthumathalan at the final stage.  our forces were able to cross the Nanthikadal lagoon, take the opposite bank, go past the man groves, reach the bund and allow those forcibly held by the LTTE to cross over. The hostages came streaming out. ‘It was like hitting a ‘meevadaya’.

Can any other country boast of a comparable rescue, concerned observers asked. ‘Why is Sri Lanka army’s epic hostage rescue ignored.  Foreign military officers who attended the international seminar ‘Defeating terrorism, Sri Lanka experience’ in 2012, said that Sri Lanka armed forces were among the best in the world specially considering the way they handled this hostage operation.

‘We are being asked how we created a humane soldier’ said Army Commander Ratnayake. ’ It is not military training. It is our culture. In battle, you see the worst and best sides of a person. Our soldiers are well balanced. They can fight battles of high intensity and then turn to gently helping the elderly or feeble.’ He concluded ‘I do not think this is possible for the western soldier. Our soldiers are unique in that respect.’

LTTE delayed its defeat for four months, by hiding behind 200,000 Tamils as hostages. They took these hostages first to Mulangavil, then Kilinochchi, Dharmapuram, Vishvamadu and finally Puthumathalan from where they were rescued by the army. At Puthumathalan, the troops had infiltrated LTTE held positions along about one km long stretch and then fought their way out to clear a path for civilians to escape.

The army prepared carefully for the rescue operation. One unit was to cross the lagoon, while other units captured a three kilometer long earth bund on the banks of the lagoon. They were to launch their operations from three directions, then link up. The divisions rehearsed about 30 times, including at night, with emphasis on crossing the lagoon.

Commando and Special Forces carried out several deception drills and targeted the weakest section of the earth bund. The Infantry   dug trenches in the No fire Zone, crawled in and waited for orders. The army crossed the lagoon at midnight of April 20, 2009 using rafts built of local material. They suffered casualties but still crossed the lagoon. Thereafter, the Commandos attacked from one side, Special Forces from another side and the rest of the army infiltrated in between. The intention was to confuse the LTTE, so that a safe route could be opened for civilians to cross the lagoon.

An officer recalled that opening the safe route was like hitting a ‘meevadaya’. Before the day was over, army had rescued around 80,000 civilians including the parents of Prabhakaran and Daya Master. By following morning 174,564 more had come in. The 58 division set up about 40 points to welcome civilians. Hundreds of LTTE cadres had dropped their weapons and joined the large crowd fleeing across the lagoon. The LTTE had fired heavy machine guns at the fleeing civilians. When the civilians stepped into the lagoon to avoid the gunfire, three LTTE cadres ran to them and exploded themselves”.

When the heavily mined LTTE embankments were opened up, the hostages came streaming into the army lines for safety. We saw this on television. We also saw how the soldiers compassionately carried across the hostages who could not walk and helped others who could.  The civilians were then counted, registered and taken to the shelters prepared for them. They were not abandoned. The army looked after them.

Influx was 80,000 people on first day and 100,000 in the week that followed.  Government took all government schools and institutions in Vavuniya district with large buildings and      accommodated IDPs in 28 centers. And then transferred them to Menik Farm. Menik Farm was selected   as the main center. it was only 22 km away from Vavuniya town. 85-100 acres of Menik farm was cleared for the purpose. IDPs were processed and accommodated.  families were kept together as far as possible.

The refugees had to be provided with food, and shelter, and medical attention. the Sri Lanka armed forces took the lead role in this emergency humanitarian effort.    They were transported to safe areas, with 5-7 days.

Government took responsibility for the management of the welfare villages and took full control over all activities. The contribution of the Sri Lanka army in overall management supervision and maintenance of security has been a major contributory factor.   The villages had healthcare centers, schools primary schools community kitchens, tube wells, water tanks, welfare shops banks etc. and place of religious worship. Many organization and individuals from elsewhere in the country spontaneously and overwhelmingly responded by making donations of water, food and non food items.  The IDPs were to be sent back to their original homes and Sri Lanka army to be a partner in the resettlement process.

The hostage rescue and the’ triumphalism’ was followed by another Sinhala gesture, which could be called ‘Sinhala Generosity’. This’ Sinhala Generosity ’has not received the publicity it deserves.The Sinhalese in the south helped the Tamils in refugee camps by rushing essential items. Rajapaksa in interview with N. Ram, of the Hindu, in July 2009  said , ‘the mothers of our soldiers – some of them though their sons had been killed by the LTTE – when we told them that Tamil civilians fleeing the LTTE were coming and we must send them food and meet their other basic needs, these mothers contributed. The mothers of ex-soldiers contributed. Bhikkus contributed,  but not the Tamil business men. I had to remind them, shout at them, plead with them to get their support,

The Sinhalese did not fail to observe that the Tamils in the island were very slow to help, said an analyst. (Island Mid Week Rev 26.8.2009 p 1.) As late as 2011, President Rajapaksa complained publicly that not a single member of the so called Tamil Diaspora shouting in foreign countries to protect the rights of Tamils, has donated a single dollar for the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka. He was speaking at the commissioning of the ‘Kokavil Multi-purpose transmission tower at Kokavil in Kilinochchi

From mid 2008 civilians were entering government controlled territory. Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkhita, Mahanayake of Asgiriya chapter, along with Anunanayake Ven. Galagama Aththadssi and Ven. Dematuluwe Sumanagala had visited refugee camps in Vavuniya in February 2009 and provided the inmates with food, clothes, and other essential items. Ven. Sumangala who knew Tamil delivered a sermon in Tamil. The inmates said they had never seen a Buddhist monk in the flesh before.

Amidst the ‘triumphalism’ there was also much deep, lasting sorrow. The mothers who lost their sons in the army are still crying. The newspapers carry photos of them weeping at commemoration ceremonies and when they see their sons’ names on the plaques of those who died. Newspaper show photos of mother and grandmothers looking sadly at these plaques. In 2013 Nalanda Vidyalaya OBA had a commemoration ceremony for its war heroes, the photo showed a grieving mother touching the plaque erected in memory of the fallen heroes.

At the annual Ranaviru celebration in 2018 Island ran a photograph of a grandmother showing her granddaughter the photograph of her father at the commemoration of persons killed in action, held at Air force training ground at Ekala in July 2018. Derana news, June or July 2018, ran a quick shot of a mother weeping and calling out ‘ane mage puthe’ at the commemoration.

In 2008 families of fallen Sinha regiment soldiers gathered at Ambepussa headquarters to commemorate the soldiers, giving pride of place to next of kin. Each flag depicted a fallen soldier. The event, organized for the 24th consecutive year, transferred merit to 143 officers and 3719 other rankers ‘who made the supreme sacrifice while defending the country’s territorial integrity’.

Sinhala triumphalism was followed by instances of heartwarming Sinhala loyalty. There are many stories of faithfulness towards crippled soldiers, One soldier, Ravindra Rupasinghe was blinded and had both arms and one leg blown off in a min explosion during an army operant in Parayanakulama, Mannar in 1998 His girl friend stayed with him, married him and have three children, They live in Horowopotana facing great economic difficulties They have been gifted a trishaw to get about, the wife is driving it (2013)/

A soldier disabled and paralyzed form waist down married his love of 11 years, who had heard that he was at Ranaviru Sevana after the injury and went to see him. The marriage got publicity in the papers. (2014) Daily News and Island ran photos of the wedding of another soldier disabled in the hostage operation. He is blind and has lost an arm (2012). (Concluded)

LOVE FOR DEMOCRACY

July 14th, 2018

ALI SUKHANVER

Hundreds of human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders are invited to attend a summit which is organized on the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session every year in the month of February. This summit is known as the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. This Summit is sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs from around the world.

Usually it is a routine program of this get-together that human rights activists and former political prisoners from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and other countries testify about their personal struggles for human rights, democracy and freedom and join hands to plan action strategies. But to one’s astonishment, there is never a reference to human rights desecration of Palestine at the hands of Israel, the horrific human rights violations in Syria, the shaking human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir and the eye opening genocide of Rohingyas in Myanmar.

It seems that this summit is organized just to provide an opportunity of getting closer and getting united to the elements hostile to the countries like Pakistan, Iran, China, North-Korea or in other words to the countries not in ‘good-books’ of the US. It is a more interesting fact that from these countries only those people are invited to attend the summit that are emotionally and spiritually alien to their own countries.

In the summit they are given a full liberty of speaking against their own people, their own system and their own motherland. Most of such invitees are regarded in their own countries as traitors or foreign agents. And all this is done under the guise of ‘a war against human rights violations’. One finds a lot of similarity and resemblance between this ‘war against human rights violations’ and ‘the US war against terror’.

Everyone knows that US started the so-called war on terror just to target and destabilize the countries which could prove a threat to the US hegemonic designs at some later stage. Cruelties of Israel in Palestine and those of India in the Indian Occupied Kashmir were never treated as ‘Terror Activities’ and nothing was done to chain down them at the same time Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan were given a real tough time.

Though the countries like China and South Korea would also be in the list of ‘to be destroyed’ but the schemers would have marked them as ‘hard pills to swallow’. Activities like the Geneva Summit also seem a sequel to the same philosophy and unluckily one finds Pakistan always at the top of the list of target countries. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it is always a pinching thorn for the brains behind the Geneva Summit like activities.

They dream of a Pakistan dominated by a democracy of their own desire; a Pakistan where the Army and the Intelligence agencies are nothing more than a rubber-stamp; a Pakistan without Wahga Border and without the Durand Line. To materialize their illogical dream of turning Pakistan into a ‘banana state’, these brains keep on doing intrigues and conspiracies. They remain busy in searching for the so-called ‘lovers of democracy’, encourage and support them and ultimately throw them into the battle-field to fight a proxy war against their own people. Such anti-state characters are invited to different TV talk shows, international seminars and conferences and they are asked to write articles for various papers and magazines and ooze out their venom against their own country.

Why the western countries seem more worried about Pakistan than the people of Pakistan themselves; this question must also be answered. From US to the Great Britain, every year so many conferences and seminars are organized to discuss Pakistan’s political turmoil, Pakistan’s role in the war on terror and Pakistan’s economic ups and downs. Their worries no doubt provide the strongest proof of the ever-denied fact that Pakistan is always and everywhere important and that it has an un-ignorable role to play in world politics. And more interesting is the fact that the whole focus of all the speakers and participants of these seminars and conferences remains the Pakistan Army and the ISI. One feels that the speakers at these seminars and conferences are never happy with these two very sacred institutions of Pakistan.

The sin and the crime of the Pakistan Army and the ISI is that these two institutions are the hardest hurdle in the way of those who dream of seeing Pakistan as a shattered and scattered state with the worst law and order situation, poor economy and miserable political instability.  ‘Pakistan Politics’ was the title of an article which was published in the Global Security somewhere in the beginning of 2018, an article .

The article said, ‘The army generals are in charge of Pakistan; they have a firm grip over defense and security policies, foreign affairs, and internal matters. There had been a struggle between the army and Nawaz Sharif for quite some time. During his second term as prime minister in the early 1990s, Sharif attempted to remove a military chief but instead had to resign himself.’

The same concept was floated through another report published a few weeks back in the Economist. The title was ‘General dysfunction-Pakistan’s army is using every trick to sideline Nawaz Sharif.’ The said article also attempted to blame the Pakistan Army of ‘engineering’ the upcoming elections. The fact of the matter is that the only purpose of such propaganda articles, biased seminars and prejudice-based conferences is simply to spread disinformation and deform the actual face of the Pakistan. The Army has just one role to play in the elections, i.e.to maintain law and order situation and to provide security to the election process.

Who votes and to whom votes; Army has nothing to do with it. The so-called care takers of human rights must cast a look at the Indian Occupied Kashmir where life of every Kashmiri is a never ending tale of miseries and sufferings and of exploitation at the hands of the Indian army. Pakistan is a democratic country with a very strong accountability system which is supported by a very impartial judiciary. And above all, there are millions of Pakistanis who have a very strong weapon in their hands; the ballot paper. Let the people of Pakistan decide their own destiny using this strongest weapon.

SOME OBSERVATIONS ON “SINHALA ONLY” Part 1

July 14th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

(REVISED 14.7.18)

The ‘Sinhala only’ story began in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when agitation for ‘swabhasha’ emerged as an anti-imperial or anti-colonial gesture. Sinhala Mahajana Sabha was set up  in 1919 under the auspice of the of the Ceylon National Congress, with the objective of ‘reaching out to the great masses of the people”, . These Mahajana Sabhas conducted their proceedings in Sinhala. The rules and regulations were printed in Sinhala. In 1936, Philip Gunawardene,  then leader of the  Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) brought a resolution in State Council that proceedings in the law courts and the recording of  statements in police stations should be in Sinhala and Tamil. the Ceylon National Congress  also adopted a resolution to make Sinhala and Tamil official languages.

In many countries, the indigenous language vanished under foreign rule, but in Sri Lanka, Sinhala survived. Sinhala was a sophisticated language with a well developed script, a substantial written literature and a long, unbroken history. It was Sri Lanka’s national language till   1815. It has also functioned as Sri Lanka’s language of science, trade, manufacture and administration. The people were proud of the Sinhala language and were not prepared to abandon Sinhala.

Throughout British rule, the people kept Sinhala going. Parents sent their children to the temple to learn Sinhala. Conversations in the home were conducted in Sinhala.  Discussions and debates, public and private, were also held in Sinhala.  There was a continuous production of poetry and prose in Sinhala. There was style, even in speech. Arisen Ahubudu recalled that when a Tantirimale gam vaddha was asked what there was to see in the nearby jungle his answer was ‘haa, kadimata nelaapu buduruve novae.’

Sinhala was used not only in the Buddhist temple but also in the Christian church, Roman Catholic and Protestant. This, in my view, is very important aspect of the preservation of Sinhala. There was functional use of Sinhala too. Y. Amarasena de Silva had been employed at Trincomalee   harbor as a signalman in the 1940s.  He invented the Sinhala Morse and semaphore. This was published in a book. He had later taught Sinhala Morse and semaphore to the scouts of Rajapakse College, Ahungalle.

Sinhala was made a subject in missionary schools. Trinity College,  Kandy had started an extra class in Sinhalese, in 1860 to be conducted after school. In 1908, Rev. A.G. Fraser, Trinity’s principal, announced that the Ceylonese pupils could neither read nor write in their native languages and he intended to reduce the emphasis on Latin, and make the vernaculars compulsory for all.

Fraser’s ideas influenced the other Christian schools and thereafter ‘every English school in the island gave a place to the vernaculars.’ S. Thomas College, Colombo, taught Sinhala from 1918. But G.D.Perera recalls that when he was studying at S. Thomas from 1928 to 1938, there was only one Sinhala period for the whole week.

Apart from this limited recognition however, Sinhala was suppressed in the missionary schools. Pupils   were forbidden to converse in Sinhala. If they did so, they were punished. Kirthi Abeyesekera (b.1924) states that in the convent he attended in Bandarawela, ‘we were punished if we spoke in Sinhala’ . Anne Abayasekara reminiscing about her schooldays in the 1930s also confirms that Sinhala was not encouraged in the classroom. She expected a reprimand when she answered in class in Sinhala instead of English.  As a result, very few of those who were educated in English [Christian] schools had any knowledge of the vernaculars, she said.

Sinhala was better looked after in the Buddhist schools. F.L.Woodward, Principal of Mahinda College, Galle from 1903-1919, had included   Sinhala in his school curriculum.  Ananda College too had taught Sinhala. Prizes had been awarded for Sinhala handwriting and Sinhalese literature. One student had got distinctions in Sinhala in the Cambridge Senior in 1919. Not only was this the sole distinction for the whole island, but it was also the first distinction ever obtained in the exam.

P de S Kularatne arriving in Ananda College as principal in 1918, decided to entrench Sinhala fully at Ananda. Kularatne had grown up in a Sinhala speaking village and therefore had experienced Sinhala as a living language. He knew that it was possible to provide secondary education in Sinhala and he thought also that is was desirable to do so. He said that the child who came from a Sinhalese speaking home, not only spoke in Sinhalese, he also thought and felt in Sinhalese. It was best to teach him in that language, not in English which was an alien language.

Kularatne said he had seen what education in an unfamiliar, alien language was doing to the children. A child at a Christian missionary school asked to recite in English, had done so with a set face, without knowing what she was saying, but had responded brightly as soon as she was spoken to in Sinhala.  He also pointed out, very bluntly, that only a small percentage were educated in English at primary school level and even among them, the majority were not sufficiently conversant with English, to use it as a medium of instruction.

In 1920, Kularatne introduced the study of Sinhalese as a subject ‘into every class’ in Ananda College and in 1923 he made Sinhalese compulsory for all students. As an incentive he pointed out in his Principal’s report that Sinhala could be offered as a subject for Senior Cambridge and London exams.

‘Right from the very beginning, Ananda has encouraged the study of our own languages when other schools despised them’ said Kularatne in 1936.’ Even today we, with our sister Buddhist institutions, are the only institutions that provide for the teaching of Sinhalese on the right lines. Judging from the boys that come to us from non-Buddhist schools, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that Sinhalese is utterly neglected in them.’

Kularatne pointed out that the failure of these schools to teach Sinhalese on the right lines is largely due to the fact that they did not start Sinhala early, in kindergarten and they do not employ teachers with the best qualifications. Kularatne did both. There was a dearth of competent Sinhala language teachers at the time in Ceylon. Ananda could produce only two ‘very competent’ teachers of Sinhala. Kularatne solved the problem by getting bhikkhus to teach Sinhala. When he found that there was no satisfactory primer to teach Sinhala he wrote a book called ‘Parakrama’s first reader.’

At this time, in most English schools, the majority of which were Christian missionary schools, the Sinhalese teacher was laughed at and the Sinhalese period was an hour of entertainment.  Anandians also did not take the Sinhala lesson seriously at first reported K.D.  de Lanerolle,    but Kularatne was firm, ‘the idea took root’    and Ananda eventually achieved a high level of proficiency in Sinhala.

Kularatne then declared in his Principal’s Report, 1940 that ‘Sinhala will be the medium of instruction in all sections of the kindergarten for Sinhalese children. English will be taught as a subject’.  de Lanerolle who was teaching at Ananda at the time and was closely associated with Kularatne in his work, said that Kularatne started this without government approval, with only the consent of the parents. He ran the risk of losing the government grant over this. ‘The results produced were revealing and the government gave its approval.’   Lanerolle called it a courageous and confident move.

Kularatne also encouraged the study of Sinhala literature.   He prescribed Martin Wickremasinghe’s   Geheniyak and W.A. Silva’s Lakshmi for students in the senior classes. He also introduced Sinhala folk stories to Ananda College. This was derided in the English newspapers, saying that this would prevent students from appreciating Greek heroes and ‘the story of Cinderella’. A Sinhalese Literary Study Circle was organized by a member of the staff in 1936.

Next, Kularatne   wanted Anandians to be able to write creatively in Sinhala. The mentors for this were readily available. There were at least three creative writers on the staff to guide the pupils, Ven. S Mahinda, K.D. de Lanerolle and ‘Kayes’. From 1920 onwards, the school magazine included Sinhala articles. By 1939 this had developed into a separate Sinhala section with its own editorial. But Kularatne was not satisfied.   He asked the headmaster of the Primary school, K.D. de Lanerolle to get up a magazine with material in Sinhala suitable for the age group 5-12 years. The result was a monthly magazine called Sinhala Daruwa, commencing in 1937 with de Lanerolle as its first editor.

Sinhala Daruwa contained stories written and illustrated by students and teachers. Students and teachers of the Upper School also got interested and contributed material. There were articles from well-known writers as well. 500 copies of the magazine were distributed in the College. A number of other schools also became subscribers.  ‘The like of this had never been published before in Ceylon’ said de Lanerolle.

Ananda’s role in bringing Sinhala forward was recognized in British Ceylon. Times of Ceylon said in 1936, ‘the emphasis laid on national languages at Ananda is worthy of emulation.  There was a time when snobs in other schools, boys, masters, and principals   talked of the English accent being ruined by giving the national languages their due place in the curriculum. But today such warped minds are few and far between and other schools are following the lead given by Ananda College.”

Ananda College then went on to pioneer science education in Sinhala.  De Lanerolle noted that there was considerable resistance at the time, to teaching science in Sinhala, but Kularatne and Mettananda  together with other science teachers ‘silently showed’ that science could be taught in Sinhala.   when the government ordered schools to teach science in Sinhala,    and present them for the Senior School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate, in the 1950s, Ananda was ready. This emphasis on Sinhala in schools would have spread from Ananda to the other Buddhist schools, making it a broad movement.

I have included the above description of Sinhala at Ananda College because I wish to show that Sinhala was alive and kicking during British rule.  It is this, together with the cultural use of Sinhala, which led to ‘Sinhala only.’ ‘Sinhala only’ was a natural movement, not an unnatural one.

The British administration, however, did not recognize Sinhala.  During British rule, the island was administered in English, which the majority did not understand, even telegrams were in English.  The State Council and the Ceylon National Congress knew by 1943, that independence was round the corner.  It was clear that the island could not be administered in English after Independence. Hardly anybody knew English. The majority used Sinhala.

Therefore, in 1943, J.R Jayawardene presented a resolution to State Council that Sinhala be made the sole official language. The motion said ‘with the object of making Sinhalese the official language within a reasonable number of years, this Council is of the opinion that (a) Sinhalese should be made the medium of instruction in all schools, that (b) legislation should be introduced to permit the business of the House to be conducted in Sinhalese, and (c) that a commission should be appointed to report on all steps that should be taken to effect the transition from English to Sinhalese. Sinhala was also to be a compulsory subject at all public examinations. .

This met with immediate protest from the Tamil members of the State Council . A Commission was set up to make recommendations, during 1943-44, and on the basis of its recommendations, the State Council decided in 1944 to make both Sinhala and Tamil the official languages  of Sri lanka, once it becamee independant. . This was strongly opposed by the Sinhala lobby who wanted ‘Sinhala only’. A Communist Party meeting supporting parity of status for Sinhala and Tamil was broken up by Sinhala Only supporters.

The public found that even after independence, the administration continued to be in English. A letter from the government or a telegram had to be taken to someone who knew English.  The Courts of law and all office administration were in English. The ‘Sinhala only’ lobby gathered momentum throughout the 1950s.   Several town councils and village committees began to conduct business in Sinhala.

There were three groups which pushed strongly for Sinhala Only. They were   known as the ‘sangha, veda, guru’ group. The sangha were long standing supporters of Swabhasha. The ‘veda’ component were the ayurveda physicians.    ‘Guru’ were the vernacular (Sinhala trained) school teachers. They got less pay than the English trained teachers. There were also the ‘vernacular’ educated intelligentsia, who had studied in Sinhala medium and whose prospects, therefore, were limited. There was an Association of Swabhasha Qualified Unemployed” with a voting strength of 20,000 at the time. This ‘sangha, veda, guru’ group together with ‘govi’ and ‘kamkaru’ formed the Pancha Maha Balavegaya which influenced the 1956 General Election.

There was a strong economic basis  for the demand of Sinhala only, observed analysts. Firslty, there was no higher education in swabhasha, university  education  was in English. Secondly, the prestigious and high paying occupations and positions went to those who knew English, thus  affecting very seriously the social chances of the swabhasha educated.  Vernacualr education was a blind alley.Therefore the vernacular educated, primarily rural intelligentsia were, by the 1950’s very resentful of the limited opportunities available to them.

Popular support for ‘Sinhala only’ was so great that all the major political parties succumbed and announced support for ‘Sinhala only’ when the General Election of 1956 was announced. Viplavakari Lanka Sama Samaja Party (VLSSP) and the SLFP announced their support in 1955 and UNP followed in 1956.   If SWRD had not brought up the Sinhala issue someone else would have, observed P.A. Samaraweera.

The General Election of 1956 was a watershed in the modern history of Sri Lanka. The ruling UNP lost to the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, MEP in a resounding defeat. The MEP consisted of SLFP, its major component, with the original MEP, the Bhasha Peramuna, and VLSSP led by Philip Gunawardena. It had a no contest pact with LSSP and CP.  The MEP got 51 of the 95 seats, but only had 40% of the votes.

Weerawardana remarked that the electorate displayed a surprising maturity. Voter turnout was 69% which was considered good for that period of time. (It is considered good even today, in certain countries) and the electorate voted clearly for the party and not for individuals.  P.A. Samaraweera observed ‘people took all the money lavishly given by rich UNP politicians, wore the green bush shirts given by them, took the lunch packets, went to the polling booth and voted for the MEP.’

In 1956, Parliament passed the Official Language Act no 33 of 1956. It was passed after a marathon debate, with 66 ‘for’ and 20 ‘against.’ The Act said that the Sinhala language ‘shall be the one official language of Ceylon.’ The Act came into effect on 1st January1964.  All government transactions throughout the country had to be in Sinhala from 31.10 1963.  Therefore it was not ‘Sinhala in 24 hours’. That statement is incorrect.

‘Sinhala only’ was never ‘Sinhala only’. Critics observed that the Act had failed to limit the use of Tamil and English, ‘as it should have done’. Nor did it make Sinhala compulsory in schools. No subsidiary legislation was passed under the Act either. Implementation was based solely on administrative orders and Cabinet directions. As a result, state administration was conducted in English above a certain level.

It was only after the Administration of Justice Law of 1973 that the original courts started to work in Sinhala. A critic observed recently that all the administrative legal enactments are not yet available in Sinhala. .  Education continued to be in Sinhala, English and Tamil. Cultural activity took place in all three languages. The private sector continued to work in English. certain levels of administration  were conducted in Englihs and Tamil as well as Sinhala.This was a great help to ‘Sinhala only’ which, in the 1960 could not suddenly stand on its own.

The changeover to administration from English to Sinhala, took place without much protest. The transition was not a problem for those who knew Sinhala. T.B. Ilangaratne, Minister of Finance, under whom the subject came, when ‘Sinhala Only’  had been introduced, told Neville Jayaweera,  that old entrants into government service were to be treated gently (‘widest accommodation’) and that new entrants must  be given time  ( ‘a few years’) to acquire proficiency in Sinhala.

The transition took place smoothly because officers who knew Sinhala were already in place in the government service. The transition to Sinhala was readily   supported by the bilingual officers who were working in government departments at the time, observed analysts. They made Sinhala administration possible.  Those officers mainly came from the ‘Buddhist schools’,   such as Ananda, Nalanda and Rahula, where Sinhala had been given prominence.

Anandatissa de Alwis, an Anandian,   declared that Ceylon was able to establish Sinhala as the state language because of Ananda College. D.B. Dhanapala another Anandian,  also  observed that  In  1956, when Sinhalese became a national language, Anandians who were well versed in Sinhalese were present, in significant numbers  in the Ceylon Civil Service, Official Languages Department and other state departments.  They were superbly bilingual and could assist in the move from English to Sinhala.

Sinhala had not been used as an official language since the fall of the Udarata kingdom in 1815. Sinhala was now pushed to the front of the stage. It now had to cater to a huge range of situations and activities for which it lacked the vocabulary. The chief criticism of the anti-Sinhala lobby was this lack of Sinhala words to express modern ideas. The Sinhala lobby   over came this very easily.

Sinhala was not a ‘dead’ language, which had to be revived. It was not a ‘new’ language or a   ‘backward’ language either. Sinhala had been existing parallel to three western languages, Portuguese, Dutch and English, for the last 400 years. There would have been interpenetration between these languages. Sinhala    already had a good vocabulary, a systematic grammar and many ‘root’ words, therefore finding suitable Sinhala words for its new role was not difficult.  Modernizing Sinhala was not a daunting task. Specialists in Sinhala language sat down to the task with great dedication.

The Official Languages Department, set up in October 1956 started work on Sinhala glossaries. Other professional bodies also contributed glossaries. There were a few conferences to which those interested in the subject of forming Sinhala technical terms were invited,’ recalled Aelian de Silva.

Opponents of ‘Sinhala only’ ridiculed the whole process. They said that the Sinhala term for ‘universal joint’ was ‘sarvaloka puttuwa’. M.J. Perera, head of the Official Languages Department declared that the word did not exist. This was a hoax. However, this was not an innocent hoax. It showed a deep animosity to Sinhala and fear of Sinhala’s emerging position.

At University of Ceylon, Peradeniya .Prof D.E. Hettiarachchi, as Head of Department, created a Swabhasha office, in the Sinhala department, headed by P.E.E. Fernando, and this office also compiled technical terms.  The Sinhala academics sat for long hours with specialists in the various subjects and compiled the terms.  The glossaries were cyclostyled and distributed.  Those glossaries were later acquired by the Department of Official Languages and formed the basis for the glossaries they published.  This valuable service of the University is now forgotten, said K.N.O Dharmadasa.

Spoken Sinhala also became important after ‘Sinhala Only’. Officials had to speak in Sinhala too, not only write in it. Their speaking had to be correct and effective. After ‘Sinhala only’ more debates in parliament were in Sinhala. There is no information on what the politicians and officials did about this, but Radio Ceylon took action.

Radio Ceylon focused on setting good standards of Sinhala speech. It held workshops where Sinhala scholars gave guidance. Ven. Kalukondayawe Pragnasekera was invited in the 1961 to advice on pronunciation. . K.N.O. Dharmadasa and J.B. Disanayake were invited later for workshops. Staff were drilled in the use of good language.  Later on, Rupavahini also had workshops which KNO attended. KNO had notified MJ Perera whenever he heard language errors on Rupavahini and MJ had taken action.

Foreign diplomats recognized Sinhala. A  Chinese diplomat had, some years ago called on a minister in Colombo.  The minister had instructed in Sinhala ‘this visitor may have diabetes, so bring the tea and sugar separately.’ As he left, the diplomat had said, also in Sinhala ‘I do not have diabetes’. China teaches Sinhala in the Foreign Language Institute in Beijing.

A Japanese diplomat had walked into a shop and the owner had shouted to his staff in Sinhala ‘tell him an inflated price’ and the Japanese had replied in Sinhala, if you inflate the price I will not shop here again’. In the German embassy on one occasion, an official had said in Sinhala ‘do not panic remain silent.’

K.N.O. Dharmadasa had drawn attention to a little known fact, that when the 1972 Constitution was under preparation, Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Colvin R De Silva insisted that that the initial drafting be done in Sinhala. P. E. E. Fernando travelled from Peradeniya to Colombo twice a week to take part in the drafting of the new Constitution and he used to share with us his experiences in constitution making, recalled KNO.

Dharmadasa observed that this was probably the first time the government deviated from the usual practice of drafting first in English with a Sinhala translation   thereafter. The official language policy was enacted in letter and spirit, on that occasion. The constitution says the Sinhala version takes precedence in matters of interpretation.

Today, Sinhala is the common language of discourse in Sri Lanka. This is evident in the discussions heard in shops, markets, railway stations, theatre foyers, and hotel lobbies. English and Tamil are also spoken, but to a lesser extent. Census of Population and Housing for 2001 showed that Tamils of local and Indian origin spoke Sinhala.  They needed Sinhala for jobs and for business. The customer base is Sinhala speaking.

A survey was conducted by an independent research institute, on behalf of the Public Survey and Research Unit (PSRU) of the Presidential Secretariat, in October 2010.  The sample was drawn from western, southern, central, and eastern and Northern provinces, of 1484 citizens of both sexes belonging to the three major ethnic groups, also a mix of occupations.    97% of the Tamils and 100% of the Muslims in the survey said they knew Sinhala. The learning of a language is based on its usability.  The chances of Sinhala being used across the island for wider communication are great, said Rohana Wasala. It was estimated in 2016 that approximately 76% of the population spoke only Sinhala.

‘Sinhala Only’ was an essential part of the re-emergence of   Sri Lanka as an independent state, after 450 years of colonial rule. ‘Sinhala only’ should have been implemented in 1944 itself. According to the 1946 Census there were 69.4% Sinhalese and 11% Tamils.  In   1953 it was    69.3% Sinhalese and 10.3% Tamils and in 2012 it was 74.9% and 11.1 % respectively. Therefore Sinhala was always the language spoken by the majority of the population.

‘Sinhala only’ should also be seen in its broader context. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike’s period as Prime Minister, though short, 1956-1960, was a period of high consolidation and movement towards a modern state. The Sinhala Only  Act was just  one feature of a much larger exercise which involved the Paddy lands Act, the EPF, nationalized services, takeover of Katunayake air base and Trincomalee  navy base and expanded diplomatic relations.

‘Sinhala Only’ was not ‘wrong. ‘Sinhala only’ was ‘right’. It was correct and timely.  ‘Sinhala only’ was a natural movement, not an unnatural one.  It should not be treated with contempt and it should not be sneered at.  Very few languages can show evidence of continuous use from ancient times to modern times as Sinhala can. This includes continuous use as the language of administration too.

Sinhala only should have been implemented in 1944 itself. According to the 1946 Census there were 69.4% Sinhalese and 11% Tamils.  In   1953 it was    69.3% Sinhalese and 10.3% Tamils and in 2012 it was 74.9% and 11.1 % respectively. Therefore Sinhala was always the language spoken by the majority of the population.

UNESCO is said to have predicted that in 25 years Sinhala language will be extinct. Sinhala, far from being a dying language, has many features not found in many world languages, said J.B. Disanayake. Sinhala is among the 15 most creative alphabets in the world along with Chinese, Greek, and Arabic. It is considered a unique language.

A language will not die, as long as there are speakers, say linguists. Today, Sinhala is ranked 75 in the hundred most spoken languages in the world   and 62 in the   top hundred languages ranked by number of native speakers.  Sinhala speakers are proud of Sinhala and have a deep love for the language. They wish to preserve the script too.  They do not want to see it romanised. (Continued)

Weekly Roundup

July 14th, 2018

By: A.AM.NIZZAM – MATARA

This is a roundup of news published in the Sinhala newspapers and Sinhala news websites this week excluding articles, interviews and messages

Sunday  8th July

Viyatg Maga an extension  of Mahinda Chintana (Lanka C News) LCN

Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa addressing the Hatri Maga Seminar in Kolonnawa xsaid that Mahinda Chintana should e carried forward with necessary developments for the future.  He said that Viyarg Maga was created to absorb professionals and entrepreneurs for this purpose.  He also stated that when the future government will be formed under Mr. Mahindqa Rajapaksa necessary plans for implementation wil be made by Viyath Maga.

Tax to be levied if you eat 3 meals a day  –  LCN

#The Leader of the National Freedom Front Mr. Wimal Weerawansa addressing a meeting in Beliatte said saecastically that the government hich has already announced that income tax will be levied from those who own a vehicle and those who visit overseas on holidays plans to levy income tax on those who consumes three meals a day as well.

Vihayakals’s interview with Dan TV  LCN

MP Mrs. Vijayakala in an nteeview with Dan TV has said that whoever liked or not liked she acknowledges that Prabhakaran struggled for his homeland.  She has sai8d that when the problems of the Tamil people are presented they are being branded as Chauvinists.  She has criticized Ranjan Ramanayake for speaking to her in front of media using the speaker of the telephone and therebt cheating her.  She has said that she would even resign even her parliamentary seat for the people of the North.

Mattala Airport Sale finalized – LCN

Reports said that Mattala Airport will be leased out to an Indian Firm with 5,000 acres of land for 99 years for 405 Million U.S.Dollars.  It has cost 409 Million U.S.Dollars for its construction.  The agreement for this lease will be signed on 6th December this year.

Fuel Prices in a dilemma. – LCN

Ceyprtco sells at the new reduced prices while LIOC sells at Mangala’s increased prices.  It is reported if this situation continues forther there will be a total collapse of LIOC sales.Meanwhile have demnded to refund the extra charge made from them during the interim period.

I  do not know  I cannot remember  LCN

Alrgouh t had been reported that cheques fron Aloysius were received by his company he did not know that he had a company and those cheques were received by that company and he does not have any company.  This has been stated by the former Minister of Finance Mr. Ravi Karunanayake.  He has said that when he was the Minister of Finance nwither the Central Baank nor any other Bank was under his Ministry.  He has made rhwse observatiohs addrerssing the media in the Grandpass area.

King Parakr5amabahu was a Cinnamon exporter – Ranil (LCN)

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe said that King Parakramabahi got money for building Parakrama Samudraya by cultivating cinnamon in the Kalutara area and selling them abroad and present government should go forward thinking in that manner.   Mr. Wickremasinghe made this observation when he addressed a function held at the Divisional Secretariat office in Biyagama.

A secret midnight meeting of 3 Ministers, AG and IGP  Mawbima

A secret meeting between Ministers Mrs. Thalata Atukorale, Rajitha Senaratne, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General and the IGP has been held on 3rd July night at Ministry of Justice to discuss about expediting the cases against big wigs in the previous government, their arrests and hearing od these cases by the special Courts. It is reported that a schedule listing these cases on a priority basis was also prepared.

Prison becomes a Business Office for Aloysius  LCN

The Bond Scam accused Arjun Aloysius is reported to be conducting his business activities from the prison.  Already mobile phones that were being used for this purpose have been discovered. It is reported that transactions made though these phones are now being investigated.

Resignation of Vijayakala is insufficient – Mr. Mahinda – Deshaya

The former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa said that mere resignation of Mrs, Vijayakala for her treacherous statement is not sufficient and the Peresident th Prime Minister and the Speaker should hold the full responsibility to mete out the due punishment for her.  He said that she should be meted out the same harsh punishments that the government is meting out to JO politicians. Mr. Mahinda pointed that if such a treacherous statement was made by a Buddhist leader or the leader of aany other religion, the so-called civil organisations, NGOs and politicians would have made a huge commotion demanding for maximum and immediate punishments an asked where are those elements in this matter?

Monday – 9t July

Gota tells the true story of Vajayakala.  LCN

Addressing the fully packed Elle seminar held in Matara yesterday former Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that in the recent speech made by the Staye Minister Mrs. Vijayakala Maheswaran about thee current situation in the Northern Province there was something which she failed to divulge and that was that from the day of ending the war until the end of year 2014 there was no trouble of any form whatsoever in the North..  He said that under a new government that will be formed under the leadership of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa solutions for this situation will be found.

There is nothing wrong in Vihayakala’s statement – Sumanthiran  –  LCN

Addressing ameeting in Dehiowita TNA MP Sumanthian has said that there is nothing wriontg in Vijayakala’s speech n wgich called for the revival of LTTE,

Vihayakala is to leave for England with her children –  LCN

Sources from North said that she would come back to politics under a new political party with NP Chief Minister Wigneswaran.  .

Leaders of the Yahapalana pass out Urine when elections are mentioned  Prasanna Ranatunga  LCN.

The convenor of the JO Mt. Ptasanna Ranatunga speaking at Minuwangoda said that that the government leaders, Sirisena, Ranil er al who grabbed power to establish democracy pass out Urine wwhen the subject of eletion is mentioneed  He challenged th government to hold elections under old or new system.  He said 5that this country is now being rule by the most unsuccessful government in our history and under them the economy, development and security have collapsed.  Mr. Ranatun,ga listed the follies of this government which made the peple to suffer enormous hardships and said that they are now scared of facing th people in eletions.

No Leader  Country in peril and unstable. There are even np pieces of Yagapalana Ratnana Thero  Lankaadeepa

He said that there is no leader in the country today and the yahaplanabrought by them ith much hope has completely failed.

Explosives and Arms found n a jungle in Jaffna  LCN

Jaffna STF officers have discovere3d 714 gms of high calibre explosives and arms hidden in a jungle area of Maniamthottam. This catche of arms have been handed over to Jaffna Police fir further investigation

Students of Jaffna University commemiorated Black Tigers Day   Lamkadeepa

Jaffna University students commemiorated Black Tigers Day on thw night of July 5th by lighting lamps.  This commemoraton was carried out in front o the monument that has been erected at the Jaffna University in the memory of those who died in the war  The Black Tigers Day is commemorated in the memory of the terrorist named Captain Miller who died while attacking an army camp at Nelliady on 5th July 1987.

Bus and 3 Wheel fares to be increased – Lankadeepa

Bus owners; Associarions are to take a decision to increase bus fares as the government os to increase thw prices of fuel from time to time. Three wheel drivers are to increase their charges for the 2ns km onwards from Rs. 40 to 50 if petrol prices are increased to Rs. 150 or above.

Ptrotests in Jaffna demanding for the removal of the security forces  LCN

Activists of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress supported by the peope staged demonstratiojs demanding for the removal Army camps not only from the Jaffna Fort but from the whole of Jaffna district.   Following similar protests held in Jaffna recently the Arjyty has requested the government to permit them to establish their camps in Jaffna Fort and for which there has been no response from the government so far.  Meanwhile the NP Governor Reginald Cooray has said that Jaffna Fort is not a suitable place for establishing Army camps

Penalty for 33 vehicle offences increased – Lankadeepa

The Traffiic Police unormwd tha spot fine for 33 trqffic offeces has been ibcreased from the 15th of this month.  A special gazette notification has been issued in this connection. The Police said that accordingly there will be 30  50 percent increase in the fines..

Ready to hold express trials by special Courts and attire Jumper to Gotabhaya.  First trial against Gotabhaya – LCN

Internet medi reports reveal that under the special Courts the first trial will be against Gotabhaya. And it will be relating to the allegation of state funds for thee construction of D.A.Rajapaksa memorial. These reports further indicate that 10 cases including cases relating to Rajapaksa family members have been scheduled to hear at these special courts.

Tuesday  10th July

Mahinda says wgat Vijayakala missed to metion  LCN

The former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa said the statement mae by Vijayakala was erranwous and what it says was that the gofernment has not fulfilled any of th promises made to the Tamil people.  He said that this government has misled the Tamil people, the Muslim people and the whple country.  He made these comments addressing the meia after attending a function held at Muthiyangana Viharaye in Mahiyangana.

The statement of Anura Kumara Dissanayaje is hateful – Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunga  Lankaweb

Anura Kymaera Dissanayaje gas said in a Parliament debate that both Mr Wimal Weerawansa’s mirher and sister were mental patents and thwy received treatment as inpatients at the Angoda hospuital  Ths is  statement that cannot be  accepted under any circumstances and it derides mental patients.  Mr. Weerawansa nay hace defects this statemeny of Anuea Kumaea is hateful.

Another complaint against Vijayakala and Wigneswaran    Lamkadeepa

Th Sathya Gaveshakayo organization (The truth Explorers Organization) made a complaint at the Police Headquarters yesterday morning against Vijayakala and Wigneswaran over their recent treacherous statements.  The convenor of the organization Attorney at Law Premanath Dolawatte and Attorney at Law Sminda Konaara made this complaint.

A Tax concession for Ministers and Deputy Ministers –  Lankadeepa

The government informed the tax that had been levied from Ministers and Deputy Ministers has been restricted to only one vehicle.  A large sum amounting to Rs. 150,000 for three vehicles at the rate of Rs. 50,000 per vehicle, Rs. 75,000 as driver allowance, and fuel allowance had been deducted from their salary.  Following protests made by Muusters and Deputh Ministers this new revision has been made.

Sri Lanka will become the battle ground of world powers – Mr. Wimal Weerawansa  LCN

After giving Hambantota Port to China and Mattala wqs sold to India. Sri Lanka will become a battle ground when both of them have a battle against each other and thaqt is what this inept visionless government is doing. This was stated by the lesder of the National Freedom Front Mr. Wimal Weerawansa delivering a lengthy speech at a demonstration that was held at Nihiluwa in Beliatte.  .

Deploring the rising crime situation, he said that the Mahinda Rajapaksagovernment noy only ended th war but also wiped out the underground and the underground leaders who fled the country have come back with thr complete protection of this government and ruuning the country

Critising the the taxing of the people im a manner worse than the colonial rulers, Mr. Weerawansa said that millions of rupees are being spent to maintain the Ministers, their vehicles and their staff.  He reminded that despite waging a war Mahinda Rajapaksa regime had an economicdevelopment rate of 7 percent but the Sirisena Ranil cabal who claimed to be economic wizards has constrained the economic development rate to 3 percent.

He also criticized the increase of fuel prices buy Mangala in the nitght and reducing I reducing it in the morning by Sirisena and said that this the government of clowns we ever had.

Mr. Weerawansa also severely criticized the hunting of war heroes, expansion of the drug menace and crime situation, lawand order collapse in the North, bogus claims being made about a debt crisis and the servile.,shameless behaviour of the Red e;ephants and urged the people to come forward in unison to topple this government without further delay.

Minister of Lagbour emphasizes th need to do away with pension payments  LCN

Addressing a seminar of Labour Commissioners the Minister of Labour Ravindra Samaraweera flayed them for their negligence to perform their duties properly and causing many hardships to the estate labourers when they come to Colombo to get their need attended to and said that due to this these innocent labourers are becoming victimized by various intermediaries..  He saId these officials should be transferred to remote areas without any sympathy. Referring to payment of pensions he said that an alternative method should be found to do away with the payment of pensions and added that the Asian Development Bank has advised to undertake some alternative measures since the country will not be able to survive in the future if this system existed further.

What we have today is a toothpaste Economy – Gota  – LCN

Addressing the Eliya” seminar held in Matara om 8th Sunday the former Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that what we have today is a Toothpaste Economy under which people are being taxed up to their necks. He pointed out that today there is a significant increase in the violation of law and order, democracy, and violation of constitutional guarantees ane constitutional provisions.  He said that people all over the country are urging on the need for a Mahinda Rajapaksa era.  Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa not only ended the war but also introduced a populist development agenda by clearly identifying thee needs of the people.. Mr. Rajapaksa said that by understanding the people’s needs it is necessary to reintroduce this development process by providing concessions to the people.  In the past Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa not only implemented large scale projects but also created medium and small scale entrepreneurs and it were those medium and small scale entrepreneurs we used for urban development and city beutification. It was his plan to construct 5000 multi storied flats in Colombo but by end of 2014 we comstructed 2000 flats.  Under a future government a people centred development will be undertaken and the urban and village areas will be developed on an equal footing.  It was due to lack of development that 1971 rebellion took place in the districts such as Hambantota, Moneragala and Ampara.  It was to provide employment facilities to people in Matara, Hambantota aand Moneragala districts that the Port and the Airport and other facilities were constructed in the Hambantota district.. Unfortunately without realizing their commercial values steps have been taken to hand them over to foreigners.  It was the concept of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to  protect the local entrepreneurs and industrialists and to develop industries and thereby palm over the economic development to all the people.  When we formulate plans for economic development it should be made on  a knowledge based  economi development concept.

Vijayakala obtained Rs. 500 Million to giv up the Ministry post – LCN

Posters were pasted in the Kopay area of the Jaffna district on 9th Monday night by an organization called Siva Sena and the posters asked what Ministry posts for Vijayakala who protected the murderers of student Vidya foer Rs. 500 Million?  The poster said that her Prabakaran eevival speech was also made for a ransom of Rs, 500 million on the instigation of some partie.s.  The Siva Sena posters have also stated that she should not be given any Parliament priviledges..

 

If Prabhakaran was there Tamils would have been traated better than now  Sumanthiran – LCN  

Addressing a public rally the TNA Parliamentarian Sumanthiran has said that if Prabhakaran and the LTTE were there the government would have treated the Tamils better than now He has said that the leaders of this country have rejected to provide the solutions promised to the Tamils.He has stated that it was this factor that was implied by the speech of Vijayakala recently.

 

Fonseka blames about Police atrocities – LCN

Ministerr Sarath onseka adedressing the medipa personnel said that the Police instead of controlling underground activities taking innocent people into custody allege them of possessing drugs by planting on them with drug packets by the Police itself  He said that if the Police have a genuine desire, controlling of the underground and drug peddling will noyt be a major issue although some Ministers are involved in the trade.  He narrated an incident in which an innocemt boy from Kelaniya area has been taken into Police and he had been tortured by throwing chilli powder onto his eyes, hiitting with a pole onto his head and he had been hung by the legs and further tortured.

PM Ranl meets Arjun Mahendran in Sngapoewm entrusts hikm re task od Sri Lanka’s debt management and open up another avenue for robbing – LCN.

The leader of the National Freedom Front Mr. Wimal Weerawans said that there are reliable information rthat Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe is to meet fugitive Arjun Mahendran in Sngapore  and entrust him the task of managing the 10percent of loans of loans amounting to Sri Lanka’s total debt to gbe taken by thw Prime Minister under a new Act passed by rthe Parliament.  MP Weerawansa made these observations after appearing for a Court case.

There were more crimes during the Rajapaksa era and Gotabhaya gave protection to th Underground – Minister Amaraweera  LCN

Although the joint opposition claims that there is a wave of crimes taking place at present there were more crimes in the Rajapaksa era, This was stated by the Mnister of Agriculture Mr Mahinda Amaraweera at a function held at Medaketiya in Tangaalla.  He alleged that the former Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajaappaksa instead of controlling the underground activities gave political proyection to underground personnel.

Reconciliation unceased – Those who died in rhe war commemorated inJaffna  LCN

A special service was conducted on the night of 9th in  memory of those died in a bomb attck that hit rhe Navaali St, Peters Church in which 147 people who were refuged in the Church died and 200 others injure.  The service was conducted by the Chief priest of the St, Peters Church Fr Roy Benedict.

The boat stranded in the sea for 26 days found  – Lakbima

The multi day fishing vessel with 7 fisheren that left for fishing from Galle fisheries harbour 26 days ago on 14th June has been found near Maldives. Tjere were daily protest demonstrations in the Hikkaduwa area for the last few  demanding the Navy and the Air Frce to find these fishermen and their boat.

Line of Trees in th Kandy Town denuded to minimiza vehicle congestion.  Lakbima

Environmentalists have expressed deep sorrow over removal of several very old trees that were in front of the Kandy Central market. They point out that there is a heavy air pollution in rthe Kandy Town and this measure will further increasure the pollution levels.

Minipe Yoda Ela ubnder the hgrip of Sand Mafia – Mawbima

Farmers in rrrgw area complain that the longest canal in Sri Lanka the Yoda Ela has become a victim of the sand mafia.  Tjis 74 kilometer provides irrigation facilities to several thousand acres of paddy fields.  Farmers omplain that ther is a danger of several bridges across th canal ollapsing an falling down due to sand erosion

Jaffna Univercirty students to erect a memorial for the commemoration of the slain Tiger Terrorists in the Univercity premises. – LCN

Attempts  made earlier by the main student organiation odf the Jaffna Univercity to construct a memoral for the commemoration of tiger terrorists slain at Mullaivikkal in 2009 was  stalled even after laiyinf the foundation since they could not get permission for it from the Univeercity administration.  Members of the student body has met the Vice Chancellor of the Univercity Mr. Ratnam Wigneswaran to discuss  about this matter and he has requested them to seek permission from the Univercity Grants Commissuon as he has no authority t grant their request.

A Buddhist monk has killed a Policenan by strangling him and attempted to bomb another Police team – LCN

A Buddhist monk attached to the Gallenda Temple of Ratnapura who was under a warrant from the Courts has strangled and killed a Policeman from the Ratnapura Police Station who went to the Temple for an investigation.  He has also attempted to bomb a Police team that went to the Temple after this incident.  The concerned monk has been arrested.

9 Policy Statements for 3 years, Taxation increased by 100%, and Rupee depreciated by 22% – LCN

Addressing the Elitya” semunar held in Matara on 8th Sunday Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said that ttempts are being made to tax those who own vehicles and those who go to overseas.  Compared to the year 2014 taxation in the ytear 2018 from the people has been increased by 100%.  It was by exploiting the people that the colonialists ruled this country.  In the post independent period no government has taxed the people like this inept government.  During Mhinda Raapaksa period steps were takem to reduce taxes in a systematic mnner. Now,,all that has been changed.  This government since the very first day it camee to power what it did was to waste the economy.  Due to wrong decisions takem by the government a damage of more than Rs.2,000 Billion has been caused to the economy.  The value of the Rupee has been deprciated by more than 22%.  For the first time in the history an inept and visionless government is in the country. Petrol prices are increased at 12 mid night and then reducedd in the morning.  There is no economic policy.

During the last three years 9 economic policies have been presented.  This country cannot be run with fairy tale narrators. To tell the fact the country has been ruined.  All economic nerve centres are beinhg destroyed.  The public service has become ineffective.  It is essential that this horrendous rule should be chased out.  The time has come for the people to unite for that purpose.  If the people get together and demand they will haveto go.

Let us ignite the people’s light (Eliya). Let us recommence our development programmes and make this country one of the powerful countries in the world.

Wednesday 12th  July

A group of RAW agents in the JO   A plan to put an end to Gota – LCN

MP Dayasiri Jayasekera said that a group of RAW agents are functioning within the Joint Opposition and they are attempting to prevent a left government being firmed and that they are also helping for the sustenance of the Ranil Wickrenasunghe government. #He made these comments participating in the Salakuna” programme of Hiru TV

Gota requests to hear the case against him in the Express Decision Special Court –  LCN

Former Defence Secretaery Mr, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said that he requests the government to make the Express Decision Special Courts to hear the cases against him, if any.  He made this statement to the media after participating in a religious function at Medagama in Bibile.

Ouur presudentiasl candidate is Chamal and only he can win  Vasu – LCN

MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that it is personal opinion that yhe JO candidate for the presidential election shiyld be Chamal Rajapaksa and a group of JO MPs have proposedhe namr of Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa.  Addressing a media conference in Colombo he said that other than Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa no one else from the JO can win the presidential election.

Clash of opinion in thee Cabinet meeting ofer fuel price increase   Lankadeepa

Government sources said that there were ctriticism by the Presient and several Minhisters about the manner in which fuel prices have been increased. Minister Mangala Sammaraweera has said that State Minister Eran Wickremaratne made prior intimation to the President about the inxrease/ Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has said that despite he being the Minister in charge he was unaware until the prices had been increased.  Minister Mangala Samaraweera has stated that prices were increased on the agreed price formula under which prices are to be increased or decreased every two months.  .

SLFP is ti appoinr new office bearers  Lakima

SLFP sources have said rhat iternal discussions are niw being held for the sekection of new office bearers for the paety and a new General Secretary will also be appointed and several names have been proposed for this post.

Dayasiri Jayasekera will chave to jump intoParakrama Samudraya and die at the next election  LCN.

The Deputy convenor of the JO Ratnapura District MP Ranjith de Soysa speaking at  Embilipitiya respomding to a statement that had been made by MP Dayasiri Jayasekera that if he goes after flower bud it would e like getting killed himself by jumping to Parakrama Samudraya said Dayasiri Jayasekera is not a character that is important to the SLPP and 15 persons who jumped to the Parakrama Samudraya have now come out from it and atre with the SLPP.  Niow Dayasiri Jayasekera will have to die by drowning in Parakrama Samudraya at the next election.

Speaking frther he said that there is no shortage in the JO, there is no shortage in the leaders, no shortage in the voters and they do not regret at all if Dayasiri does not come to SLPP

Mr. De Soysa said that it was Prime M9nister Ranil Wickremasinghe who has sent Arjun Mahendran to Singapore and he does not know whether it is possible to brimg him back.  However this government has a significant deal with Singapore.  He said that MP Bandula Gunawardene revealed that under this pact with Sri Lanka arrangements have been made to brung down garbage from Singapore and dump them in Puttalam. Similarly dump Singapore in knuckles mountain range as well The Prime Minister would have gone to Singapore for a plan to sell the country with Arjun Mahendran, or to attend a wedding there with him, or to find a suitable place for him to hide.

We the people of Ratnapura are farmers.  The prices of our produce have severly gone down.  Last week the ptice of cinnamon also got reduced by Rs 500. This government has no plan to protect the producers of export crops. If the Prime Minister opens his mouh there will be some disaster. Last week he said that King Parakramabhu built Parakrama Samudraya by exporting cinnamon cultivated in the Kalutaraa area  This week the price of cinnamon which stood at Re. 2400 has got reduced by 500 to 600 rupees.  It may get further reduced next week.  He said tht the Prime Ministe spoke about pepper and the ppper prices fell down and spoke about cinnamon and cinnamon prices have fallen down.  He urged th overnment to take immediate measures to protect the farmers in the Wlawe and the Sabaragamuwa regions. .

New Tiger Uniform and Bomb foun in Mullaivaikal  LCN

new tiger uniform and a bomb have been found hidden ubnderground in the MullaiVaikal area in Mullaithivu. Esrlier, a frew days ago three airforce officers carried out excavation work in the area and they were taken into Police custody charging they carried out excavation work without permission. Subsequently the Mullaithivu Air Force took court permission and carried the excavation which resulted in the discovery pf the uniform and the bomb

A bribery complaint against Prime Minister – Divayina

The Desha Hithaishee Vruththikayoo (Patriotic Professunals) Organization made a complaint yewsterday to the Bribery or Corruption Commission against Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe in connection with Central Bank Treasury Bond Scam. The complaint points out that Prime Minister’s connection with the Bond scam and presents several details related to the scam and highlights Prime Minister’s failure to prevent the loss that resulted from the scam and by his failure to act against the 2nd Bond Scam that took place on 29th and 30th March 2016 and states that in this respect a major charge against him should be made under article 70 of the Bribery Act.

Professor Channa Jayasumana Senior Lawyers Kalyananda Thiranagama, T.M.N.A.Tennekoon and Attorney at Law Raja Gunartne filed this complaint yesterday on behalf of the Desha Hithaishee Vruththikayoo (Patriotic Professunals) Organization,

Attempts made by the Prime Minister to protect the former Governor of the Central Bank Arjun Mahendran, the continuous efforts made by the Prime Minister to suppress this issue have also been sighted under 8 points presented in the complaint made by the Desha Hithaishee Vruththikayoo (Patriotic Professunals) Organization. It also states that the Prime Minister has not shown any inclination to prevent the huge losses suffered by public funds due to this scam and there were many possibilities for the Prime Minister to prevent the second bond scam that took place on 26th Feebruary, 2016.

This written complaint has been handed over to the Chairman of the Bribery or Corruption Commission Mr. T.B.Weerasuriya.

Cabral discloses about ship and frequenct deals  LCN

Addressing media the former Governor of the Central Bank MR. Ajith Nivad Cbral said that those who attempt to make allegtions against them are those who swindled tmillioms hrough ship deals and TV frequency deals.  He said that government official;s today are very much dissapponted and disgrusted as they have b een frequently symmoned by the FCID and questioned for long hours attempting to extract evidence for false allegations.  Mr. Cbral made these observations addressing a meeting held for forming an organization named Yukthiyarta Handak” (A voice fir Justice) which will be dedicated for helping victimized public servants.

Getting permission to open a Damma school today is more difficult than getting permission to cut a tree   former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa    Mawbima

An all religions committee has been appointed to decide on giving permission To oipen a Damma school,. How long it takes to get permission to cut a tree? To open a Damma school also it is necessary too go after many people similar to getting a wood permit.  There had never been such an era in the history of this country.  The gformer President Mr. Mahinds Rajapaksa made these comments addressing the media after participating in a function held at Navamedagama Pahalagama Ashokarama Viharaaya in Dehiatttakandiya. Speaking furher he said that aftwe ending the 30 years of war we were able to lauunch a development programme and simultaneously renovate the temples that had been nehglected for years throughout the country.  Thereby we were able to reawaken the Buddhist atmosphere.  But during the last 3 ½ years not only a deterioration of religious values but the cultural and good manners have also taken plade..  At that time there was law and order and a dsciplinary rule.  Today when you switch on the TV what you see is that the President or the Prime Minister blaming me for their inabilities.  Not only for me they blame everyone in the country..  Cases are being filed aginst us. They think that filing revenge cases is a great achievement and give wide publicity to such things over all TV and Radio channels.

In Pannipitiya a student who became first in the class had been killed attacked by40 other students o the same class. . One man was shown thundering a student on the road.  These incidents make students’hearts cruel and spread hate, revenge and arrogance.  It is the responsibility of the parents and elders to protect safeguard and guide their children.

The economy has collapsed. The cost of living has increased by many folds. No proper price is  bwing paid for paddy.  The farmers have been forced to sell a kilo of paddy for Rs. 28. During our time we purchased a kilo for Rs, 60 by visiting to the fields itsef..  The government does notthink about the farmers.  Although they say that fertilizer can be purchased from everywhere there is nowhere to purchase fertilizer.  Children are being destroyed.  Businessses have become bankrupt.  The price of a coconut has skyrocketed. It is imperative that we should change this situation.  The time has come to change this situation and rescue the country

I am proud of Vijayakala – Gnanasara Thero    Mawbima

The General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena Organuzation Gnanasara Thero has said that he is proud of Vijayakala as she represents her community.  He has said that there are leaders for political parties but there is no proper leader for this country and all those who came to power only dvided and made us weak.  The thero made these comments aftrt attending a function held to bless him at Sri Dharmaeama Vihaaraya at Ulpana. The function was organized byHebariyawe Ratanasara thwero.

Speaking further  he said that those who camr to rule this country only made us weak but he is proud of Mrs, Vijayakaa Maheswaran because that lady stands for her nationality. He said that Prabhakaran took up arms on behalf of his nationality.  It is due to weaknesses of our leaders ladies like Vijayaala climb on to their shoulders.  .We should fulfil our duty for our chikdren, he said

Political Fronts cannot be formed without SLFP leadership,  Reginald ooray – LCN

A programme to establish SLFP high commands in several areas of Southern Province was held recently under the participation of NP Governor Reginald Cooray.  These bodies were established in Baddegama Akmeemana, Imaduwa, Elpitiiya and Ambaalaamgoda areas Speaking at these functions Mr Cooray said that he cancer in the UNP is friendship mania and the cancer in the SLFP is family bandytism.  He sai d in the past UNP was known as Unge Nedayange Pakshaya and the SLFPtoo gas now become an Unge Nedayange Pakshaya.

Cabinet approval to revise fuel prices on the 10th of each monrh  LCN

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratnee said that cabinet approval has been given to revise fuel prices on the 10th of each month.  He said that these revisions are to be made based on the world market fuel prices.  Meanwhile, bus fares and 3 wheel charges are also to be increased due to the increase in fuel prices and their associations are reported to be discussing about the basis they should undertake in this regard

MP Kunara Welgama says that they want only Mahinda – LCN

MPKumara Welgama has said that they want only a democrsticleader and that democratic leader is only the former President Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa and there is nioissue beyond that.. The former Minister has made these comments in response to a question asked by journalists whether Mr. Gotaabhaya Rajapaksa will be brought forward as the next Presidential candidate.of the JO.  Speaking further Mr. Welgama has said that if Mr. Gotabhaaya Rajapaksa will be able to become a presidential candidate only if he enters the democratic sphere and the State Leader should not be anyone else but Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Welgama has made thesr comments while leaving after attending a discussion held at Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence jn Colombo.

Nimal Siripala to quuit the Minister post and join the Gang of 16. –  LCN

MP Dilan Perera has said that the Minister of Transport ans Civil Aviation and the Senior Vice President of the SLFP Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva will shortly quit his Minister post and join their group of 16.  He has said that in addition to this 2 UNP MPs representing the Badulla district will also join the SLFP shortly.  He has made these comments at a media conference held in Badulla.

Thursday  12th July

Cricket Selection Committee becomes more discriminative and Malinga leaves in disgust   – LCN

The super fast bowler of the Sri Lanka Cricket Team Lasith Malinga has decided to quit from Interntional Cricket.  It is reported that he has taken this decision because the interim selection committee has totally ignored his talents.  It is said that Malinga is in overseas at present and he would come back to Sri Lanka shortly and announce about his departure by holding a media conference.  It is also reported that after quitting cricket he will serve as a bowling coach

Fuel prices should be increase by another Rs. 7. Otherwise it will be a loss  LCN

.Tje Ministry of Petroleum Industry says that if the loss being suffered by the Ceypetco is to be cobered the price of fuel should be increased by another Rs 7. It has said tthat because of selling kerosene oil at Rs 70 prt liytr the Corporatiom already incurs a huge loss

Thye government is a mental asylum – Mawbima

The Kalutara di;strict JO MP Mr. Viidura Wickremanayake said that when the problems in the country gets accumulated to unsolvable level the government imnovates something day by day and week by week to mislead the people.  Addressing a media conference in Horana Mr. Wickremqnayake asked what has happened to the economy of this country? What are the problems facing the society? How much efforts are being made by the people for their living? He said recently there were talks about chasing elephants in the Sinharajah, then  ttheir were talks about attiring Jumpers to Buddhist monks, then there were talks about Hitler . Itis the government politicians who innovates these stories to divert thr attention of the people form their economic hardships.  We must get together and make an alternative plan to take this country away from this mental asylum.  There was no situation like this in this country prior to 8th January, 2015.                                                                                                                                 

A new alliance under Mahinda’s leadership to end the monopoly of Pohottuwa   LCN and Mawbima.

At a meeting of party leaders of the joint opposition held at Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence in Colombo it has been unanimously decided to form a new alliance under the leadership of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Joint Podujana Peramuna. MP Dallas Alahapperuma said that several decisios were taken at this meeting which included that the JO should function as an independent group within the Parliament. He said that the Speaker has deprived them their due rights of participating in Commiittees and allocartion of time for their speeches. He said that the government and the ‘official opposition’ are making all efforts to suppress the voice of the opposition.  The MP further stated that the young MPs of the JO have decided to stage a mammoth Satyagraha in Colombo om the 17th of August on the 3rd anniversary of the 2015 Parliament election.  He said that this Satyagraha will be a decisive turning pont on the programme of sending this government home.  He also stated that 3 people’s representatives have been assassinated within 30 days, 1260 robberies,74 rape cases, 274c murders have taken place, duing the last 6 month and this is a good indication of the direction that the government is taking this country He said that 4 years ago Colombo was considered as the Asia’s most beautiful and safe pace in the world. .Iit is a pity that the Deputy Minister in charge of Police has said recently that all these crimes are being organized by prison inmates.  That shows that the government has become an accomplice for these crimes.

SLFP’s temporarty General Secretary says there was a significsnt progress of the Party under him – LCN

SLFP’s temporarty General Secretary Mr. Rohana Lakhgman Piyadasa said the party reform activities are being carried out expeditiously.  He said that the Central Committee of the paerty would decide whether he should continue in the post after his term of 45 days.His temporary term ends on 18th August.

Asia’s biggest stome quarry owned by the close reelative of high ranking politico. A huge palace also also built in the 15 acre land – LCM

This quarry initially started on a small scale has been expanded to a large extent of land and has become a multi million profit earning venture.  The owner is reporte to have built a huge palace with all indoor sports facilities in a 15 acre land

President claims assassinations have dropped these days compared to previous era – LCN

President Sirisena said that as per Polic erecords the crime, rape and robberies rates have significantly dropped during the last 3 ½ years.  Speaking at a function in Kandy and showing whar he called Police records he said that in the year 2017 crime rate has dropped to 452 murders.  He said anti government politicians talk much about media reports related to crimes.

 Joint Opposition smashes coconut at Seenigama – Divayina

A smashing of coconuts and a divine appeal agaimst government attrocotioes including increase of cost of living, corrupt administration, politically motovateed character assassinations and rise Commerce and Industrf underground activities were held at the Seenigama Devalaya yesterday. MPs Kumara Welgama, Rohita Abeygunawardene, Gamini Lokuge, Mohan Silva and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Galle District provincial council members and the genral public participated in this event.  .

The laegest consignment of the CID history taken into custody – LCN

 About 10 kilos of Heroin worth Rs. 120 Million hasve been taken into custodty from a Saw  Mill in the Vakarai area in Batticaloa.This raid has been carried out by a Police team from Colombo and 2 suspects have been taken into custody.

Court action against increase of fuel prices

The Attormey at Law Vikum Basnayaka has intimated Minister of Commerce and Industry on the advice of the National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights in accordance wuth Civil Cases code No. 146 prior to filing a case in the Appeal Court demanding the Minister of Commerce and Industry to obtain a court order naming fuel as an essential item umder regulation No. 18.1 of the Comsumer Activities Authority Act No. 9 of year 2009.  The Attormey at Law has intimated in his letter to the Mini;ster that  due to increase od fuel prices intermittently it has caused much hardships to  the living conditions of the people and urged rthw Minister to take a court order within 30 days to declare fuel as a specific essential item under Comsu,mer Activities Authority Act No. 9 and states that if such action was not taken legal and judicial action will be taken against the Minister.

Peteol litre will be Rs. 243 and diesel 129 if wold market fuel prices increased to thr level that prevail;ed in Mahinda’s time – LCN

The price of a barrel of crude oil in the world market during the time of Mahimda was 121 USDollars and now it is only 72 USDollars. Under Mangala’s price formula a litre of petrol now is Rs. 145 and diesel is Rs. 119.  But if the price of a barrel of cride oil increased to that of the price that prevailed during Mahinda’s time Peteol litre will become Rs. 243 and diesel 129 under Mangala’s pricing formula.. The media spokesman of the National Freedom Front Mr. Mohammed Muzammil pointed out thaat under the Rajapaksa rule petrol litre was  givem to Rs. 115 when thw price of a barrel of crude oil was  asas high as 121 USDollars

Rajitha opposes President’s decisiom = LCN

Rajitjha Senaratne has opposed President’s decision to implement death penalty. He has said thaat there are countries that implement the capital punishment and evem if it is implemented there had been no reduction in drug related crimes.

MP .S.B.Dissanayake says the Prim Minister an the Finance Minister cripple Presidents attempt to resurrect the economy – LCN

MP .S.B.Dissanayake who has rejoined with Sirissena following his call for a meeting was rejected by the Group of 16 said that ehile the President is attempting to resurrect the economy the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister are obstructing the President’s moves.

A Tamilsn Gundu” hand bomb manufactured by LTTE found – LCN

A resident of Irattaaperiyakulam in Vavuniya has founs d a  Tamilsn Gundu” hand bomb while he was clearing the land for cultivation. The Police is to get the bomb deactivated under a Court order.

An International Airport to Trincomalee.  Lamkadeepa and LCN

The government which initiall used  the Mattala airport as a warehouse to store paddy saying that the country does not need an additional airpot and now has made arrangements to lease it outvto India for 99 years is reported to  be  planning to build an international airport in Trinco,alee.  This was revealed when the Trincomalee Development plan was released at the Temple Trees under the participation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. This airport which is to be completed in 2050 is to be built in Hingurakgoda area of Polonnaruwa.

President Council Ali Sabri appearing on behalf of the Comsumer Affairs Protection Autjority in connection wwith the case relating to government’s attempt to award the tender for the comstruction of the Kerawalapitiya Power Plant asserted the said that the bd submitted by the government preferred Chinese company was full of f;laws and if the tender as awarded to that company the country would incur a loss of Rs. 40 billion and if the Tupee depreciate further the loss may increase to Rs. 80 billion.  The case was taken up for hearing yesterday (11th) before a 3 memer pamel of Supreme Court judges comprising Eva Wanasundera, Priyatha Jayawaedene and Murdu Fernando.  Upom submissions made by Mr. Ali Sabri further hearing of the case was posypomed to te 17th o this month.  There are 82 respomdents in this caase including the Prime Minister, the Monister of Powwer and the members of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Esxecutivee Grade Government Officers stage a protest demo – lakbima

19 cateegories of Executive Grade government officers staged a protest demonstration yesterday (11th) over their salary salary anomaliew and other problems and against the government’s failure to find solutios to their ptonlrm.  In this commetiom the Lotus Rod was kept closed for traffic yesterday.

Minister Ranawaka presents concocted LG  Election resultss – Rivira

Minister Pa.Cha.Ranawaka has told a media comference without divulging the sources of imformtion that in the last local government election despite espousing Sinhala Biddhist communakism Mahinda camp got only 4.9 million votes whereas the opposition groups to Mahinda camp got 7.6 million votes and hence if Mahnda camp is to win the 2020 presidential election they should master at least another 1.y million votes and it is an extremely difficult task to achieve and as such the Mahinda camp can neer win the next presidential election.

Gotabhaya canoit win but Maithree can, Dilan Perera  LCN

Addressing a media conference called bythe group 16 MP Dilan Perera has said if Gotabhya comes as the presidential candidate he cannot win as he cannot get Tamil and Muslim votes.  However if Sirisena comes forward as the Pohottuwa candidate he can win. For this purpose, he has ssaid tha rhe SLFP should first leave the government.  He has also stated that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa will nominate a suitable person as the presidential candidate. #

Friday – 13th July

If President signs the order for execution the first person to hang will be an acolyte odf a powerful Minister – LCN

Political sources have said that a powerful Miister is much worried about President’s plan to sign the order for execution of capital punishment convicts.  It is reported that the top of the list of capitl punishment list of those convicted for drug related crimes is a person who closely associated and assisted this particular Minister.

FCID summons Major Generl Kamal Gunaratne  LCN

Majaor Generl Kamal Gunaratne, the Division under him was responsible fo the elimination of Praabhkaran in the last bttle at Nandikadal has been summoned for questioning by the FCID.  It is reported tht he has been summoned for questioning in respect of a death of a servant of Sri Lanka Embassy in Brazil when Mr. Gunaratne was the Deputy Ambaassador there.

All UNP Ministers and MPs boycott President’s function  LCN

All UNP Ministers aand the members of the Wwestern Provincial Council have boycotted the function held to declare open the new building complex of tte Western Privincial Council.  They have boycotted the function because Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremasinghe was not invited for this function. The Ex President Chandrika Kmaraatunga has been invited and it was reported that she occupied the seat that was reserved for the opposition leader.  When questioned by the UNP members the Chief Minister Isuru Devapriya has said that as this was not a national event only the President was invited.

The Prresidential candidate of JO Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa ?  LCN

Several internet and social media sites have reported that there is a plan to field Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa as the Presidiential candidate for the forthcoming presidenti;al election  These reports indicate tht due to the growing misunderstaneing between Raajapaksas and the JO members the former Presidentt Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to take thi decision

Former Prsident has riticised the government for fleecing the people by intermittenllly increasing fuel prices – Lankaweb.

A message issued by the former President says fuel prices have been increased yet again within a period of about eight weeks – a situation we have never experienced earlier. Now the price of petrol is Rs. 145 and diesel Rs. 118 while today’s price of crude oil in the world market is around USD 74 per barrel. In 2008, when Sri Lanka was buying crude oil at the much higher rate of USD 97 a barrel, petrol was sold at Rs. 120 and diesel at Rs 70. During the nine years in which we ruled the country, world crude oil prices were always high. According to the Central Bank reports, when I first assumed office as President back in November 2005, crude oil was imported to Sri Lanka at around USD 73 per barrel. Thereafter the price of crude oil increased steadily and during the last four years of my government, in 201120122013 and 2014, the average price of crude oil imports was over USD 109 per barrel. Hence the present crude oil price of USD 78 is very low compared to the prices that prevailed when we were in power.

The government should explain to the public why the retail price of fuel is disproportionately high today. The latest price increase is being justified in terms of a price formula which nobody has seen. It is quite clear that this government is aiming to collect more tax revenue from fuel by increasing and reducing fuel prices frequently so that at the end of the year, more revenue would have been collected from consumers. This kind of price manipulation is a standard practice in the large scale retail industry. The public should also take note of the devious manner in which the government implemented the fuel price increase. The Indian Oil Company was first allowed to increase their prices while the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation held back. After a few days when the people had reconciled themselves to a fuel price increase, the government increased the prices at the CPC stations as well. They sought to diffuse public outrage by such meansSuch practices are all part of a government strategy to fleece the public through the manipulation of fuel prices.

The Electriity Board has incurred a loss o f18 Billion by overpaying to Kerawalapitiya West Coast Co. – Lankaweb

Despite signing agreement to purchase a unit of electricity for Rs. 16  18 the CEB has paid Rs. 29..85cand thereby incurred a los of Rs. 18 Billion. The Lskdanavi Co has obtained this temder saying tha their expenditure woul be 225 Million U.S..Dollars  instead the CEB has paid U.S.Dollars  294 Million U.SDollars.  The Caffe Organization has issued  lengthy statement givig details overpymet being made by the CEB and thereby forcing the electricity consumers to pay a higher price for a unit of electridity.

An agreement has been reached with IMF to revise fuel prices weekly  LCN

MP S.B.Dissanayake said that the government has reached an aagreement with the INF to revise fuel prices on a weekly basis. He said that the government has entered into an agreement with the INF in this connection. Addressing a media conferemce in Colombo Mr. Dissanayake said that the IMF and the World Bank very often advises to slash the conceswsions being given to the people and the government is aacting accordingly.

Remove War Hero monuments from North – MP Shridharan – LCN

If steps are being taken to erase the memories of the LTTE from the minds of the Northern people steps should also be taken all war hero monuments in the North..  This was stated by the TNA MP S.Shridharan addressing a protest demonstration held in Mulaitivu.

Group of 16 invited to attend JO party leaders meeting. SB and WDJ to attend –v  LCN

The Group of 16 has also got representation to attend JO party leaders meeting.  In this connection it is reported that S.B.Dissanayake and W.DJ.Seneviratne will attend.  They are at present functioning as the co-chairmen of the Group of 16. The party leaders meeting of the joinr pposiion are held under the leadership of Mr. Mahinda Rajapksa.  

Wigneswaean orders government servants in the North not to provide any information to Security Service personnel  LCN

The Chief Minister of the Northern Province Mr. C.V.Wigneswaran has issued an order to the government servants in the North not to give any information to Security Service personnel without his approval.  The Chief Minister made this announcement yesterday (12th) when he declared open a development center for disabled people near the Kilinochchi Depot Junction.  Sprkimg at this function Mr. Wigneswaran said that there are three administrations in the North ome of which is Central government administration, the other is Provincial Council administration and the third is the Governor’s afministration.  All these administrations are only inconveniencing the people and that is why they are demanding for a federal form of administration.  He further stated that all the 9 provinces should have federal administrations.

Members of the group of 16 demands SB, Dilan, Dayasiri and Thilanga to call themselves as Group of 4 without insulting them – LCN

The Group I6 who joined the opposition by leaving the government has said that no one should make any individual statement without an all consrnsus decision. They ask the people to ignore statements being made by SB Dissanayake, Dilan Perera, Dayasiri Jayasekera and Thikanga Sumathipala and states that such statements are being made without the consensus of the whole group  One of the members said a comprehensive media release will be issued shortly aginst the statements being made by these 4 MPs.

Minister Rishad Bathiudeen should be hanged first – LCN and Mawbima

Ven. Ananda Sagara thero has said tha if drug peddlers are to be hanged it should be started with the Ministrs in the Cabinet smd the first to be hanged should be Ministwr Rishad Bathiudeen.  Addressing a media cinference he has said that it is his personal opinion.

Meanwhile Gmamasaara thero p Bodi Ba;;a Sena has said it is the poliyicians who protect the drig peddlers sjould be hanged first.  He has sad that drugs cannot prevail without the underground and the underground cannit prevail without the protection politicians.  While praising the President for his statement of imposing capital punishment he has urged the President to hang not only deug peddlers but rapists, robbers and phaedeophiles as well.

Winter season over, Cride prices fall down.  As per pricing formula fuel prices in Sri Lanka should come down – LCN and Lakbima

In the coming months crude oil prices in the world market is expected to come down significantly due to the end of winter season. The government has also informed the possibilityfuel prices coming down.  It has said that it increased the fuel prices necause there was an increase in the crude oil prices in the world market.

Prices of Bakery products to go up    Lakbima andLCN. .

The All Island Bakery Owners Association has decided to increase the prices of bakery products from Monday omwards.  They have said that their production costs have increased due to intermittent increase in gas and fuel prices and quantum of increase will be decided during the weekend and it may be between Rs 5 to 10.. LCN reported the price of buns and oher products will be increased by Rs. 5 each fro, midnight of 15th. buns and

Kumara Weltgaama is alleged to be in a conspiracy with the government and that is the reason for his opposition to Gota   LCN

The War Heroes for the Motherland Organization claims that MP Kumara Welgama is being blackmailed by the government.  The convenor of the Organization Mr. Ajith Prasanna said that this blackmailing is being done on the basis of several court cases against Mr. Welgama and through him the government is getting all information aabout the joint opposition.  Refeerring to Mr. Welgsma’s opposition to Mr. Gotabhaya’s possible candidacy and his statement that anyone aspiring to become a President should have at least indulgeed in provincial politics, Mr. Ajith Prasanna points out that world’s first Prime Ministe Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yu and the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed became leaders of their respedtive countries without doing any ground level politics.

Saturday – 14th July

‘Janabalaya Kolambata,’ protests om 17th August = Lankadeepa

MP Namal Rajapaksa said yeterat that a massive anti-government protest campaign blocking all access roads to Colombo will be held on August 17 in Colombo on the 3rd anniversary of this government.  Addressing a news conference MP Rajapaksa said the joint opposition, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Podujana Youth Front would gather a large crowd and bring them to Colombo on August 17.. He sid the prptests  will be held against the government’s arbitrary actions, selling of national assets and weak fiscal policies which have resulted in the collapse of the economy.and they will voice against the lawless nature that has allowed the underworld to thrive. Fishermen as well as farmers who cultivate pepper, cinnamon, tea, rubber and chena have become victims of this government’s arbitrary actions. More details including the venue and time of the protest will be notified soon,” he said.

4 from group pf 16 to attend JO Party leaders meeting – Lakbima

In responsr to a request made by the group og 16 to allow 4 of their members MPs W.D.J.Seneviratne, S.B.Dissanayake, Susil Premjayanrh and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa to attend JO party leaders’ meetings Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa has rquested JO parliamentary group leader MP Dinesh Gunawardene to ivite them to sttend the meetings only two at a time.basis/

Spraker’s decision on Vijayakala thus week   Lakbima and LCN

Speaker’s decision on the controversial speech made by Mrs. Vijayakala Maheswaran at a Jaffna meeting is to be announced this week  Meanwhile the Speaker is reported to have been admitted to a private hospital in Colombo.

No response from Mangala when media personnel demanded to divulge the fuel pricing formula  LCN

The Minister of Finance Mangala  Samaraweera has kept silent when media personnel demanded several times to divulge the so-called fuel pricing formula as per which it was  reported that fuel prices will be increased or reduced based on world market fuel prices.  He has erlier sidd that fuel prices will be determined each month based on the world market prices.

Even a bbegger is to be taxed if the monthly income exceeds Rs. 100,000 – Mawbima and LCN

Minister off Finance Mangala Samaraweera said gat eveb a begger will be taxed if the monthly income exceeds Rs. 100,000.  He said that earlier the ta ceiling was Rs, 65,000 and it was increased to Rs. 100,000 and it was done so to increase the direct taxees.

04 from th Group of 16 bac;k to the government. Ready even take up Minister posts and one to be the General Secretary of the SLFP – LCN

04 MPs from the Group of 16 who joined the joint opposition from the  government are noe reported to be ready to go back to the government and take up Minister posts.  Talks ave been held in this connetion aand one of them is to be appointed as the General Secretary of the SLFP.  Meanwgile Minister Sarath Amunugaaama has said that several of them are due to re-join the government.

The First trial of the Special Corts will be against Gotabhaaya and the verdict to be delivered in three days – Mawbima and LCN

The first and second trials of the Special Courts to be established will be against Mr. Gotabhaya and Mr. Gamini Senarath respectively. A government spokesman has said that a decision on these trials was taken at a secret meeting among some Ministers redently.  As per this spokesman the trial against Mr. Gotabjaya will be the allegation against him over the construction of a DARajaapaaksa memorial museum.  The allregation aginst Mr. Gamini Senarathe is Rs. 4 billion from the Rs. 18.5vbillion allocated for the Hyatt Regency Colombo diverting for the construction Hyatt Regency Hambntota Hotel without permission

Nationl dress for the Police in place of Khaki dress – IGP  – LCN

The IGP Pujitha Jayasundera has said that he is ready to introduce National Dress to Police officers in place of the Khaki dress.  Showing the national dress he was wearing the IGP has said that when it is done, all Police office rs would look like him.  The IGP has made these comments at a function in which Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Deputy MinisterNalin Bandara were having a cordial discussion  with the NP Chief Minister Mr. C.V.Wigneswaran.

South Africa kneel down against Sri Lanka’s spinners.  All out in the nd Innings fo 73runs.  A massive 278 run win for Sri Lanka.

In the second innings of the first Tet between Sri Lanka and South Africa played at Galle, the South African team chasing aa target of 352 runs was all out for 73 runs

Gas Prices to go up

The government sources said that the price of domestic gas cylinder will Be increased shortly.Accordingly the price of a normal gas cylinder will be increased by about Rs. 135. When the gas price in the world market was high the government recently reduced the price of gas despite strong opposition from the two gas companies and the new increase will be made due to their protests. At present a normal gas cylinder in the local market is sold at Rs. 1538.

Professionals flay SL-Singapore FTA and suicide mission trade policy

July 14th, 2018


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

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

 

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

New Trade Policy from nowhere

Among the main criticisms made at that seminar about the SL-Singapore FTA was the fact that Sri Lanka has undertaken to provide zero duty access to Singapore for 50% of all product lines immediately, and increase this proportion to 80% within various time frames going up to 12 years, without however obtaining any comparable concession for Sri Lanka. All product lines could be exported completely duty free to Singapore even before the FTA. The other matter taken up was the mandatory opening up of the movement of natural persons in categories such as managers, executives and specialists in a context where these phrases are not defined anywhere, not even in the legal text of the SL-Singapore FTA which defines the word ‘day’ but not the words manager, executive or specialist.

It’s no great wonder that such criticism would be made of the SL-Singapore when it was based on the so called ‘New Trade Policy’ of the present government which itself is a document lacking focus or depth. The Foreign Trade Policy of India is 150 pages long and is very focused whereas Sri Lanka’s new trade policy is just 29 pages and inconsistent in its assertions. This is why the PNF calls it an ‘essay’. The expatriate Sri Lankan who is supposed to have penned this trade policy starts off with the claim that in recent years (meaning the years before the present government came into power) Sri Lanka’s openness to international trade and investment has declined sharply and that the increased ‘protectionism and inward orientation’ have slowed economic growth.

The NTP states that the main reason for the inward orientation was Sri Lanka’s tariffs and para-tariffs which have increased the level of protection for Sri Lankan domestic industries at the cost of production for exports. It then goes on to state that this results in consumers having to pay more and local producers not being under any pressure to match international quality standards. It states that high levels of protection divert resources from production for export and that tariffs and other measures that protect domestic industries create disincentives to exports by directly raising the price of imported inputs and raw materials and intermediate and capital goods. However, it is a well known fact that any export oriented industry can import inputs and raw materials from overseas for their industries duty free and that this was the whole purpose in establishing free trade zones.

How then can Sri Lanka’s tariff regime be a dampener on exports? This talk of tariffs protecting local industry applies only to a few product lines such as footware where there are established local industries and the removal of those tarrifs will result in a flood of imported goods that will result in those industries being wiped out. Obviously the writer of this NTP is opposed to giving these few local industries any form of protection. While talking about reducing Sri Lankan tariffs to open the Sri Lankan economy to the outside world, the NTP at the same time talks of the protectionism that is ‘spreading globally’, particularly in the industrialized countries. But it has not said what we should learn from this wave of protectionism that is sweeping through the very countries that once advocated free trade.

While talking about opening foreign markets for Sri Lanka’s exporters through multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements, the NTP acknowledges the sub-optimal performance of the four existing FTAs (now five with the SL-Singapore FTA) with India, Pakistan, SAFTA and APTA. The NTP acknowledges that the preferences accorded under these FTAs are ‘partial and limited’ and are vastly underutilized by Sri Lankan exporters. Non-tariff barriers and stringent rules of origin are said to be among the reasons for the failure of these FTAs. While acknowledging that the FTAs that Sri Lanka have not succeeded because of protectionism at the other end, the NTP still says that most countries have become ‘more open to trade’ whereas Sri Lanka’s economy has become inward-oriented and markedly more protected.

Tripping over one’s own buzz words

How is it that the top professions that Sri Lanka has deployed to negotiate FTAs could not find countries that have become ‘more open to trade’ to sign FTAs with? If other countries have become more open, why is Sri Lanka having so much trouble trying to export to those countries? This NTP that Minister Malik Samarawickrema has got written, is a classic case of people tripping up over their own buzz words and platitudes. The NTP itself acknowledges that Sri Lanka will take a more strategic approach in future trade and partnership agreements, drawing on the lessons of experience, while simultaneously addressing shortcomings in existing ones. This means that negotiators will identify non-tariff barriers at the onset and address them along with tariff reductions, specify the mutually recognized or agreed standards, clarify and negotiate rules of origin that best serve its industry requirements, and aim to make market access more predictable for Sri Lankan exporters.

What the NTP has failed to state is that if it so difficult to negotiate more openness, then there must be less openness in the world than we think there is! It is observed in ths NTP that Sri Lanka’s high tariffs and para-tariffs are also motivated by the need to raise revenue for the government through trade taxes at the border which is relatively easy to levy. This is true. The biggest single item of revenue for the Customs Dept are the taxes on vehicles which the present government too has been plumbing for all they are worth. There is nothing in the NTP which shows how the government is going to meet the shortfall in revenue caused by the reduction or elimination of tariffs. The NTP is replete with the usual jargon such as improving firms’ ability to compete with imports, but without any indication as to how this will be achieved by removing tarrifs.

One concession to commonsense made in the NTP is with regard to the agricultural sector where it is observed that because any change in import policy may have a negative impact on incomes of farmers and prices of essential consumer goods, the government needs to be cautious in reforming tariffs and other levies at the border and that given the importance of agriculture in Sri Lanka, it is imperative for the government to formulate the long-term trade policy as an integral part of a comprehensive agricultural development strategy for the country. Such a policy should accord high priority to food security, livelihood and rural development, employment, and poverty reduction on one hand, and the improvement of productivity on the other.

The NTP observes that many of the poor can benefit greatly from trade liberalization insofar as it reduces the cost of staples, or creates new export opportunities but some can also be hurt by the lower prices of that which they produce. Trade reforms in the most sensitive sectors will be carried out cautiously with these considerations in mind and, where possible, mechanisms will be put in place to facilitate the migration of workers out of those sectors. This last point seems to indicate that whoever wrote this ‘essay’ on trade policy has the Singapore model in mind and forgets that this is a real country and not a city state. We have a semi-urban and rural hinterland unlike Singapore. The PNF is right in rejecting the NTP that the yahapalana government has put forward. What this country needs is a proper foreign trade policy modeled on that of neighbouring India which is formulated after taking the needs of the economy of the country and after extensive consultations with all stakeholders.


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