Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Human Rights Concerns in Sri Lanka - J. S. Tissainayagam,Journalist and Human Rights Advocate
http://www.tamilcanadian.com/news/
Human Rights Concerns in Sri Lanka - J. S. Tissainayagam,Journalist and Human Rights Advocate
Human Rights Concerns in Sri Lanka - J. S. Tissainayagam,Journalist and Human Rights Advocate

Disappearances, torture and militarisation are all carryovers from the wartime Sri Lanka to the post-war period. They manifest clearly that despite the formal control of the military by civilian authority in Sri Lanka’s constitution, in reality, the military enjoys impunity for past and ongoing human rights abuses, some of which are characterised as war crimes…

Related:

  - Hearing: Human Rights Concerns in Sri Lanka - House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Why Vote At The Next Presidential & Parliamentary Elections?

By Raj Gonsalkorale –
Raj Gonsalkorale
logoIf voters vote at the next election, they could be electing a President who cannot lead, and could be electing one political combine or the other and the country will have the same set of politicians and the same system that elects them. Voters therefore will have to decide whether they wish to continue with this charade, and if they do decide to vote, then, they too will be part of this charade.  
The known Devil is better than the unknown idiots seems to be the prevailing view amongst many voters in Sri Lanka today. The government of the day is taken as some kind of puppet show with unseen puppeteers, both from within and without manipulating the puppets in Sri Jayewardenepura.
Some politicians who were labelled as corrupt, anti-democratic and dangerous, and the power behind White vans, although none of these accusations are yet to be proven, are ascendant again, while those who promised to rid the country of this unsavoriness, now stand accused of the very same misdemeanours they accused their predecessors. While there was no one single misdemeanour to define the status of the earlier administration, the yet unsolved Bond Scam stands as the flag bearer of misdemeanours of the current regime.
At least the previous regime was a functional one, although some argue, with the use of authoritarian means, to keep it functional. There was a leader who ruled. On the other hand they say the current regime is dysfunctional, leaderless and rudderless. 
Besides the major parties, with the UNP working behind the scenes to find a new leader and divisions patched together thanks to the absolute disarray in the SLFP, the new political combine, the SLPP or the “Pohottuwa” as it’s commonly known, bloomed during the local government elections and it’s been blooming even more since. If it does take the Presidency and the government at the next elections, and many voters including even a segment of hard core UNP voters, believe they will, the country will be back with a regime with all its positives, but all its warts as well.
What does the average voter think of all this? Hobson’s choice? Who is the best of the bad lot? Shame, credibility, morality are no longer virtues in the country’s value system.
If voters vote at the next election, they could be electing a President who cannot lead, and could be electing one political combine or the other and the country will have the same set of self-serving politicians and the same broken system that elects them. Voters therefore will have to decide whether they wish to continue with this charade, and if they do decide to vote, then, they too will be part of this charade.  
The Puppet show at Sri Jayewardenepura is not by inanimate Puppets. Many say they are Monkeys in Puppet gear, with Olympic level abilities to jump to any side that offers them the best deal. Elections cost a lot of money. In the past, politicians spent most of their wealth to fight at elections with hardly a return on their investments in monetary terms, if getting elected could be called an investment.  Their ROI was their ability to serve the country in framing policies. Today, elections are mostly about the going price for Monkey puppeteers showing a very ready willingness to jump at the right price. Their ROI is purely in monetary terms, for themselves.
What of the government, the current one and the past ones in recent times? Do they deliver on what tax payers in Sri Lanka and elsewhere pays them? They are funded by tax payers of one country or another as even aid and grants that are given are funds diverted from tax payers in other countries.
Some argue that the previous government invested heavily on infrastructure including in agricultural infrastructure as these areas had been badly neglected for more than three decades. There are genuine detractors and opportunistic political detractors who argue that other priorities should have been addressed first.
What of the succeeding regime? The prevailing view seems to be that they have only either laid “mul gal” to projects that were already in the planning boards of the previous regime, or they declared open projects already underway when the previous regime lost power.
Both sides accuse each other of how much they lined their pockets and how they manipulated processes to give some kind of legitimacy to fraudulent decisions involving vast sums of money.
The list of alleged misdemeanours is endless.
In this climate, what good will it do to change the current Puppet show and bring back the earlier one? If processes can be manipulated, isn’t time to look at the political system that produces these processes?
What Sri Lanka needs is very likely a non-violent revolution that will be like a broom that sweeps away the puppets and the puppeteers.
When one mentions a revolution, there is always the tendency to look at it from the prism of violence or the prisms of historical, socialist revolutions. All these have failed, so why repeat mistakes?
Sri Lanka needs a different revolution to hand the country back to its people and take it away from self-serving politicians. What is needed is a revolution that rejects the status quo, both in terms of the governance model, and how representatives are elected to be part of this governance model. 
Bringing about this change however cannot be entrusted to persons who are elected through the current system, as they will not introduce any change that disadvantages them. 
In this context, the first step that is proposed is for a mass campaign to ask voters not to vote at the next Presidential and Parliamentary elections. If such a boycott could reduce the voter turn out say to a paltry 10% or less of the number of registered voters, it will be a revolution that is non-violent and without precedent anywhere else in the world. Such a low turnout in a country that records an average turn out in excess of 70% will be a referendum on the current political system and on those within the system. It will signify without any ambiguity that voters have rejected the system and what it produces.
The writer does not wish to offer proposals as to how one could proceed after an outcome as noted above as it is felt that the people by whatever means available should now start a discussion as to what steps should follow once the current system and people within it are rejected by the people.
One hopes that civil society and community organisations, religious organisations and people themselves individually and collectively, will commence discussions so that a clear picture will emerge as to what kind of system should replace the current system, and what calibre of people should be elected by people to the new system before the next set of elections. The next set of elections has to be a clash of ideas. It should be referendum on whether the country wishes to continue with the status quo or whether it wants a different system that brings back some honour to the task of governance. 

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Will Ranil be able to halt the illicit Titania deal involving billions of Gamarala and his son in law ?


LEN logo(Lanka e News -20.June.2018, 7.00AM) It has come to light that  the president and his wheeler dealer son in law are seeking to sell a most valuable commodity in the world which  is available in Sri Lanka to Japan on the sly to  become instant billionaires. While they are having secret discussions with Japanese millionaires to the detriment of the country , the prime minister on the other hand has held  official discussions in London to confer the benefits thereof on the country , based on reports reaching Lanka e news  .
The most valuable commodities in the world today  are gold, diamonds and Titania ( Titanium Dioxide ) .This commodity is obtained from Ilmenite  a  kind of mineral sand.  Currently the market price of Titania is US dollars 1.6 million per kilo which in SL rupees is approximately  256 million.
Along the coastal strip  from Pulmoddai downwards , ilmenite which can produce Titania  is generated .Right now the ilmenite in its raw form is being sold at a paltry price instead of being turned into the most valuable Titania aforementioned .
If only Titania can be turned out in SL, all the country’s debts can be repaid within two years , and the country can be transformed into a wealthiest state, in which event if those who are shouting hoarse in the streets that they have no jobs and get attacked by tear gas are asked to stay at home and given food free ,even then  it will not be a  loss. However there is an  unfortunate side to this – SL does not have the high cost technology  to convert Ilmenite to Titania.
Our president Pallewatte Gamarala who is also the minister of environment well noted for having a roving eye to seize opportunities where he can make a fast buck on the sly realizing this is where his fortune lies even at the expense of the country joined with a billionaire Japanese company and planned a joint venture with a view to pocket a share of the profits   ..
The president had discussions in this regard during his tour of Japan , and for the final discussions he appointed his wheeler dealer son in law Thilina Suranjith .According to reports reaching Lanka e News, Thilina has visited Japan on three occasions after president’s Japanese tour, in this connection. One can  verify the truth of our allegations if one examines the passport of Thilina. Even last week Thilina was in Japan . All these are for clandestine discussions.
Meanwhile Ranil Wickremesinghe who is currently on a tour of Britain had official discussions with British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Greg Hands pertaining to Britain’s trade policy with a view to appropriate  the benefit of this huge  valuable natural resource for the country. The P.M.’s media division revealed that the discussion between Hands and P.M. centered on foreign investment  in this SL’s most common mineral resource  project; and  the possibility for England to provide the financial resources and necessary technology in this direction.
The possibility of British common law operating within Colombo Port city which is going to be an international financial  headquarter in the future was also discussed , the P.M.’s media division  disclosed.
It is most intriguing,  when president  through his son in law is on the sly having discussions surreptitiously with Japanese billionaires with regard to this Titania deal , in profound contrast the P.M. is having frank  and open discussions officially  with British trade policy  minister  in the best interests of the country .   How bizarre ?
Let us issue a dire warning that LeN is keeping a watchful eye over the moves and maneuvers of   president Pallewatte Gamarala who is now precariously clinging on to a meager 4 % popularity base , and on the verge of being thrown out from the post , and therefore doing everything possible to earn most fast and big before he meets his final disastrous end which is imminent and ominously staring in his face .
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by     (2018-06-20 01:56:13)

Students from Trinco campus protest against arbitrary suspensions


The students of the Trincomalee Campus of the Eastern University engaged in another protest campaign yesterday (18th) to demand solutions for their grievances that include withdrawing of suspension orders imposed due to arbitrary moves of the authorities, finding solutions for examination irregularities, shortage of teachers, raising the quality of the degree and students’ welfare issues.

Despite the boycotting of lectures the students have begun to get their grievances solved has exceeded its 50th day, the authorities have completely ignored the issue.

The students carried out protest campaign opposite the campus protesting against closing down the campus arbitrarily.

SP Police for Trincomalee District, who had arrived at the site the students were engaged in their campaign unsuccessfully attempted to get the Minister connected. However, after a telephone conversation with the Governor, he had promised to arrange a discussion with the Governor and the Rector on the 21st. With this promise, the students have temporarily suspended their campaign.






Muslim markers in Sri Lanka: Changes and challenges

kIf we exclude from our consideration the wars that owe their origin to religious hatred, or to difference in fundamental principles, such as the struggle of democracy with autocracy, of personal liberty with feudal tyranny, there is no cause more enduring or more persistent, either in Asia or in Europe, among Christians or among Moslems, in keeping asunder people and nationalities and in involving them in disastrous and sanguinary warfare, as antipathy of race – a sentiment which casts its lurid shadow over centuries, and survives all political, social, and religious revolutions – Ameer Ali, A Short History of The Saracens, London: Kegan Paul, 2004, p. 73

logo Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009 marks a watershed in the island’s political development. The Government’s military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was also a victory for militant Buddhist Sinhala nationalism over militant Tamil nationalism. Yet, the twins have not yielded the promised peace dividend to the country.

Gnanasara Thero’s Imprisonment A Gift For Ramadhan: Virakesari 

courtesy Foreign Correspondents' Association of Sri Lanka Facebook page

Mohamed R. M. Farook
logoThe above front page headline equivalent in Tamil in the mainstream Tamil language daily ‘Virakesari’ of 16th June 2018 gave a shock to the Muslims for at least two main reasons. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero was convicted for openly threatening the missing person Prageeth Ekneligoda’s wife within the Homagama Magistrate Court. Police filed action under relevant Penal code and the Court found him guilty on two counts and sentenced him for six months rigorous imprisonment on each count to run concurrently. Courts deliver verdicts based on law in dispensing justice and there is no question of anyone getting a gift from a verdict of a Court of law and if anyone were to attribute a verdict as a ‘gift’ it could amount to Contempt of Court. Further, the said verdict against Gnanasara Thero is not for any of his various public pronouncements and/or actions of incitements, insults, hate-speeches and instigations against the Muslims which harmed the Muslim community very badly in persons and properties for which legal remedy has not surfaced yet.
The other reason is that the Muslims do not nurse grudges against those who have harmed them, yet they want the law to take its due process so that they are not discriminated and singled out for attacks by racists and extremists. The forte of the Muslims in facing any adversary is leave the matter to God the Almighty (Allah) for His solutions – and when God’s (Allah’s) punishment befalls on the wrong-doer, there is no escape whatsoever for the latter. Even those who do not believe in God (Allah) are steadfast in the concept of fate (Karma) and repercussions for the wrongs done – and this must be thought of before wronging others. Definitely the wrong-doers will suffer sooner or later absolutely.
Newspapers usually print attention-grabbing headlines and this is alright for many areas such as politics, entertainments, sports, drama, unusual happenings and so on. But when it comes to community, communal, or religious affairs, the persons in charge of forming the Headline must be very careful that the Headline would not arouse the feelings of any group or community leading to unwanted or unnecessary misunderstandings that could hurt that group or community. Sometimes this aspect of care gets overlooked and confusion and chaos reign. This is what befell the above Virakesari Headline. It gave the impression that the Headline was the version of the Virakesari Newspaper whereas it is (was) not. When one reads the full article under the above Headline, it would be noted that the above Headline depicted what the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) said at their press meeting. Virakesari would have avoided all these unwanted commotions had they used a hyphen ( – ) and stated BBS at the tail-end of the Headline. 

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Former police OIC, DIG arrested over Lasantha Wickrematunge's killing further remanded

The 5th of April, 2015 marks the 57th birth anniversary of Lasantha, murdered six years ago on the 8th of January
LWTW0705

Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 12:00 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Lankapage LogoJune 19, Colombo: A Sri Lankan court today further remanded the former senior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara and former Mount Lavinia Police Crimes OIC, SI Tissa Sugathapala who were arrested and in remand custody over the killing of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

When the case was called before the Mount Lavinia Magistrate Court today, Chief Magistrate Mohammed Mihal ordered the suspects to be remanded until the 3rd July.

The Judge a granted a request made by the Criminal Investigation Department to obtain a statement from the former DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara in the prison premises.

The CID also informed the court that a statement will be obtained from the former IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne too on 22 June regarding the murder of the journalist.

Former OIC Sugathapala and the Senior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara were arrested for allegedly concealing evidence and providing false evidence in the murder of former Sunday Leader Chief Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigations have revealed that Prasanna Nanayakkara has pressured the former OIC of the Mount Lavinia Police Tissa Sugathapala not to further investigate the murder.

The two suspects have agreed to testify as state witnesses in the case.

Gota’s knotty bid

 

Sri Lanka needs a leader who can create stability prosperity; Unfortunately, Gotabaya is not that one

2018-06-20

Perhaps the most decisive intervention of America’s Ambassador in Colombo, Atul Keshap during his three-year span seems to be a parting shot at a farewell meeting with ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

During the tete-a-tete, Mr Keshap had cautioned the ex-President against fielding his younger brother as the next Presidential candidate.
  • Gotabaya has three main hurdles; citizenship, 19A and global repercussions
  • The process would be further complicated if any of the aggrieved parties filed a case against Gota in US American court.
  • Compelled to rely on China for everything and anything
According to the story which first appeared in the Jaffna based newspaper Kaalaikkathir, and reproduced by senior journalist D.B.S Jeyaraj, the US Ambassador has said that the Western nations, including the USA, would not favourably regard Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential bid.

Nadesapillai Vithyatharan, who edits the Kaalaikkathir, and formerly the editor of Sudor Oli has a love-hate relationship with the Rajapaksas.

He reportedly visited Vanni as an emissary of Mr Rajapaksa soon after the latter’s assuming of Presidency in 2006 in order to cultivate a link between the Government and the LTTE.

Later, during the height of the war, he was abducted in a white van and later emerged in TID custody.
Mr Rajapaksa first denied that the content of the conversation had been divulged by his camp. Since then he has claimed that the US Ambassador had said no such thing. The US Embassy has been non-committal, citing the privacy of private meetings.

None of that clears uncertainty that looms over Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidential ambitions. There are three fundamental concerns.

First Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and the United States of America. In theory, anyone who becomes a naturalized US citizen is required to renounce any prior ‘allegiance’ to other countries during the naturalization ceremony, though that does not necessarily amount to the renunciation of the other citizenship.

While the American Citizenship Law provides a clear-cut way for the renunciation of American citizenship, in practice, it may not be as straight-forward as it appears. The Foreign Minister of the UK Boris Jonson, himself a dual citizen, but wanted to get rid of his American citizenship to avoid dual taxation, had complained it was very hard.

It should be harder for Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who faces serious allegations of human rights violations.

The process would be further complicated if any of the aggrieved parties filed a case against Gota in an American court.

Mr Rajapaka’s acolytes of Viyath Maga, and other fancy forums and lobby groups have the liberty to cry blue murder, but, when he took oath as an American citizen, Mr Rajapaksa has effectively obliged to follow all its obligations. Now, his Presidential ambitions are placed at the mercy of Washington, which, obviously does not want to see him contesting the Presidential Election.

Second, the 19th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka precludes any dual citizen from holding the elected office. There is already a judicial precedence in the Supreme Court ruling that revoked the post of Member of Parliament of Geetha Kumarasinghe on the grounds of her dual citizenship.
Indians, who do not want another Rajapaksa.. would destabilize the North. Modi administration is striving to reclaim India’s losing influence in South Asia; Gota’s ego-fuelled antics would trigger an immediate and forceful reaction.
Given the geopolitical connotations of his presidential bid, how soon Mr Rajapaksa can relinquish his American citizenship is not so much a matter of expertise of his lawyers.

His failure to make himself eligible, and the Rajapaksas’ desire to hold on to the dim hope till the eleventh hour, could well expose the SLPP to a rude shock. On the other hand, the Rajapaksa camp has no viable option other than Gota.

The third concern and the far more consequential of all is the international repercussions of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidency if it ever materializes by some luck or due to the complacency of the UNP.
It is easy to dismiss international concerns as a blatant interference and claim the public will would prevail. However, things are not as simplistic as that.

In 2006, the Palestinians, fed up with corruption and nepotism of Fatah, the political arm of the PLO, voted militant group Hamas to power in the Palestinian Legislative Council. By doing so, they effectively dug their own grave and that of the nascent peace process.

Palestine is withering the repercussions of that parochial choice with no end in sight.

Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is an equally destructive choice. Not only would his presidency roll-back whatever democratic reforms achieved so far, it would also trigger international repercussions with far-reaching implications, which a small State like Sri Lanka cannot afford.

Indians, who do not want another Rajapaksa in power in Colombo, would destabilize the North.
With the proactive Modi administration that is striving to reclaim India’s losing influence in South Asia, Mr Rajapaksa’s ego-fuelled antics would trigger an immediate and forceful reaction.
Americans and Europeans, who have recently subdued their calls for war-crime investigations…Rather than letting these demands die a natural death, Sri Lankans would help revive them by electing Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Americans and Europeans, who have recently subdued their calls for war-crime investigations, would find no reason for such niceties.

Rather than letting these demands die a natural death, Sri Lankans would help revive them by electing Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Japanese who have recently shown a special interest in economic cooperation would also slide away- or would be persuaded to do so by their American allies.

Mr Rajapaksa would be compelled to rely on China for everything and anything, and he himself should know from previous experience, such overdependence entails a higher cost than it would otherwise do.

Sri Lanka needs a leader who can create stability and guide the country towards prosperity. Unfortunately, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not that one.

GARRISON AGAINST GOTA – HARIM PEIRIS



Sri Lanka Brief19/06/2018

The press has been full of reports that outgoing US Ambassador Atul Keshap has cautioned and advised former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the nomination of his brother and US citizen Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as candidate for president in 2020, faces a variety of legal and other obstacles, based on the sum total of which, the United States would not consider the same favourably. The fact that this information was first put out and confirmed by the former president’s office, indicated that the Rajapaksa media team initially at least believed that, being seen unfavourably by the West, is an electoral gain.

This is in line with the messaging of the unsuccessful Rajapaksa campaign in 2015, which strained to cast that election as a Rajapaksa versus the West, a Sri Lanka versus Geneva election. Though in actuality, the 2015 election turned out to be Rajapaksa verses the rest of the political parties and the result is history.

US citizenship provides jurisdiction

Skimming through social media reactions to Ambassador Keshap’s observations, a small section of social media users has rather predictably called on the US to mind their own business, that Sri Lankan politics is the sole preserve of Sri Lankans. This does hold true, but only with the confines of and the context of the fact that, no nation lives in isolation by itself, but within the community of nations which imposes certain norms, treaty obligations and an ever-increasing body of international law commitments on nation states. The majority of social media users though are aware of the legal implications and rights of national jurisdiction over citizens.

The real, legal right which the US Ambassador excised over Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was and is his jurisdiction over him as a naturalized US citizen. Being a citizen of a country places certain legal obligations on the citizen and more importantly provides the State with jurisdiction over its citizens.
US law particularly exercises extra-territorial jurisdiction over its citizens, namely that their actions in overseas territories still make them liable to the US under its own laws. Further US law does not permit its citizens to hold political office in foreign governments. An official position like a ministry secretary is allowed, a political office is not. A US green-card holder, who is merely a permanent resident, may do so but not a citizen. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is a dual, US citizen and also a Sri Lankan citizen, thereby being subject to the concurrent dual jurisdiction of both countries.
Ambassador Keshap reportedly made the observation that the skill set required to lead a military and security establishment, where orders are followed without question are not the skills required for managing democratic diversity in a pluralistic society.

There have been claims by some JO stalwarts that US citizenship can be renounced at any time. But US citizenship is not like a job, which you simply resign by sending in a letter. Renouncing US citizenship requires that you leave with a clean slate. US law does not permit its citizens to get out of potential legal jeopardy by simply renouncing citizenship to remove US jurisdiction. In that instance, the US refuses to grant such a release. Accordingly, the various allegations against Rajapaksa, including in the US, regarding especially human rights violations would need to be resolved before US citizenship is cancelled.

19th Amendment, foreign MPs, judges and presidents

The political landscape post the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is somewhat different from the period of the two terms in office. One feature of the 19th Amendment is the specific stricture and prohibition on foreign citizens being members of Parliament.

One MP lost her seat as well through the courts for being a foreign citizen. While the 19th Amendment is silent on the specific issue of a foreign national or a dual citizen being head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the laws of natural justice, the original intent of the framers of the constitution and common law if not common sense would create a fairly convincing constitutional fundamental rights case that a foreign dual citizen is ineligible to be Sri Lanka’s president under our constitution.

After all our basic response to even the Geneva UNHRC resolution for foreign and Commonwealth judges, despite the tradition of Commonwealth commonality of a call to the Bar and the legal profession, is that foreigners cannot be allowed to preside over Sri Lankan judicial processes. It would be weird if they can preside over our state and government. It stands to reason then, that we cannot allow a foreign or dual national to be president.

Precedent of 2010

Political observers would recall how on the polling day of the 2010 presidential election, Wimal Weerawansa, then a rather vociferous minster in the Rajapaksa Government, went on national television while polling was going on, to claim that a vote for the then opposition presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka, a US permanent resident or green card holder, would be null and void because he is ineligible to be president and a vote for him would be a wasted vote.

The broadcast was only stopped when the Election Commissioner intervened following protests by General Fonseka’s campaign and the UNP.

However, Wimal Weerawansa whose monolingual eloquence of speech, has never been in doubt, makes a compelling argument that a foreign citizen (he actually argues even a resident, who is merely a long-term visa holder of sorts) could not and should not be elected the head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Sri Lanka.

No doubt Weerawansa’s verbal heroics in 2010, may well come back to haunt the JO and the Rajapaksas in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

DN.

Avant-Garde corruption case: Gota’s revision petition fixed for support



A revision application filed by Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa seeking an order to stay the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court proceedings pertaining to Avant-Garde corruption case was fixed for support on July 2 by Court of Appeal today.

Through this petition, Gotabaya Rajapaksa also challenged Colombo Chief Magistrate's decision to refuse preliminary objections raised by him regarding the Avant-Garde corruption case. 

The Bribery Commission filed a corruption case against former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and seven others for allegedly causing a Rs.11.4 billion unlawful loss to the government by giving permission to Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to operate a floating armory.

In his revision petition, Gotabaya Rajapaksa challenged Chief Magistrate's decision to refuse preliminary objections raised by him and Chief Magistrate's decision to fix the matter for trial.

COPA exposes failure of 26 ministries, state institutions

... faults CIABOC, Parliament, Presidential Secretariat, PM’s Office



article_image
* Review of financial management and performance

By Saman Indrajith- 

Findings of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA), tabled in Parliament, yesterday, revealed serious lapses on the part of 26 out of 51 ministries which the watchdog committed studied, in respect of financial management and performance. 

The COPA report assessing the financial management and performance of 837 institutions, covering the financial year 2016, was tabled in Parliament by committee’s Chairman Finance and Mass Media Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna. 

According to the report, 26 ministries have failed in updating their registers on fixed assets. There are 40 ministries which have not settled the balance of advance accounts for more than a year; 28 ministries have been noticed for not conducting annual board of survey reports as stipulated.

 The COPA findings show that 29 ministries have failed to respond to the audit inquiries on time while some of them have not disposed of condemned vehicles within the stipulated period.

At least three audit management committee meetings had not been held by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), says the COPA report. No action has been taken as regards the recommendations on excesses and shortages etc revealed by the Board of surveys. 

The COPA report observes that Parliament has not updated Fixed Asset Register.

Fixed Assets Register on computer accessories and software has not been maintained on up to date basis. Inventory Book, Stock inventory and Losses Register were not maintained on an up to date basis. Annual action plan has not been prepared. Replies have not been received to all audit queries raised by the Auditor General within a period of one month. 

The Presidential Secretariat, too, has failed in maintaining the Fixed Asset Register, Fixed Assets Register on computer accessories and software and Losses Register on up-to-date basis. Commitments have been made in excess of the provisions of approved limits. There have been outstanding loan balances on the Advance Account remaining over one year. No action has been taken to clear time expired deposits in the General Deposit Account as per the provisions of Financial Regulation 571. The settlement of Ad hoc Interim Imprest had not been done as per the provisions in Financial Regulation 371.

The report observes that the Prime Minister’s office has made commitments "exceeding the provisions of authorised approved limits."

The committee has examined 19 government special spending units, 51 ministries, 92 government departments, 25 District Secretariats, nine provincial councils, 215 provincial council special spending units and departments, 46 provincial council authorities and statutory institutions, 23 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 271 Sabhas.

Sri Lanka’s weapons of mass deception– Rajapaksa machinery


 

“One’s days were too brief to take the burden of another’s errors on one’s shoulders. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it.”
~Oscar Wilde 


2018-06-20

Mahinda Rajapaksa and his clan have fine-tuned that aspect of political dynamic that could be solely responsible for delivering an ailing political entity into super-action mode and achieve the results that such an action desired. This fine-tuning of the Rajapaksa-propaganda machinery did not take place yesterday when they were in the opposition. They have achieved or they thought they have years ago, that lofty goal of mass deception and political hoodwinking so that they could be in power forever. Yet, they failed. Vexing of the masses to such an intolerable extent has its own inherent disadvantages. What appears on the shallow surface does not necessarily happen to be deep enough to make the gullible masses suffer to an unending degree.
  • Figures cannot be distorted and stats don’t lie
  • Carnage of people’s rights is not an option for a civilized nation
  • Financial cleanliness should be a manifest characteristic of an acceptable leader  
  • Sajith and Navin should remember the sense of duty and responsibility of power  
Nevertheless, the current euphoria they have artificially created about a sibling of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the accompanying message that he would be the next Presidential candidate will not hold any water come the day of reckoning. Their lies and exaggerations have to be met with facts, figures and statistics. Facts are not figments of imagination of some wishful-thinking activists; figures cannot be distorted and stats don’t lie. A phoney image created around a demonic political character cannot and should not last, at least for the sake of our nation’s staunch commitment to democracy and freewill. That phoney bubble will burst; it’ll shrink and disappear but it would not happen automatically. It must be made to happen by human hand. And that human hand can be provided only by the United National Party (UNP).

Almost all the alleged atrocities committed by the Rajapaksa regime could be attributed to this particular member of the Rajapaksa family. Some of the alleged atrocities amount to murders in broad daylight; some to abduction and torture of journalists; some to spraying bullets on protesters whose sole demand was cleaner water; some amount to violation of fundamental human rights; all possible human right violations have been alleged against this individual and now they, the so-called Viyathmaga (path of intellectuals) are paying Pooja to this individual hallucinating about a return to chaotic rule of the Rajapaksas when all of the above outrages were deliberately committed in order for them to remain in power and ransack the country’s coffers and treasures. The carnage of the people’s rights is not an option for a civilized nation.

The hallucination on the part of the now-defeated Pohottuwa politicos will continue their selfish and utterly-destructive politricks unless and until a sufficiently motivated group of counter-organizers band themselves and stop this sacrilegious wolf that comes in sheep’s clothing. It is only possible; it is more of a national urgency that these leftovers of the Rajapaksa era are made politically immobile forever by all means available within the frame of democracy and human rights. Their donors must be approached; their so-called intellectuals and academics must be met at debates and present counterpoints to each and every demented point and arguments they make; their frontrunners and grassroots supporters, if any, must be converted to more humane, reasonable and sensible men and women. It is no easy task. The propaganda machine, their ‘weapons of mass deception’ are much more potent and sharp than what the UNP has managed to deploy as at present.

In such a dangerous scenario, the government must be objective, detached and aloof of politics. But the UNP as a political party, with its newly-resuscitated politburo with a new and charismatic National Organizer (Navin Dissanayake), should be able to launch a robust public relations campaign. If the party leader is not ready, then disregard his un-readiness; the officials of the party have inherent duties and responsibilities to take action without creating divisions within the party framework. A scrupulously defined and vigorously activated campaign of positive image-building, party-branding and professionally-crafted messaging need to be paid attention to.

If a coalition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, backed by the anti-Rajapaksa majority in the country coupled with an overwhelming bulk of minority voters against Mahinda Rajapaksa, the most difficult-to-defeat person of the Rajapaksa family, could emerge victorious, a clean and charismatic candidate from the United National Party stands more than a fighting chance to gain victory at the next Presidential elections in 2020. What is essential is a strategic view of the whole operation and excruciatingly diligent execution with the right people on ground to operate a campaign.
Some of the alleged atrocities amount to murders in broad daylight; some to abduction and torture of journalists; some to spraying bullets on protesters whose sole demand was cleaner water; some amount to violation of fundamental human rights
Where do you find such candidates or a candidate? Navin Dissanayake, the charismatic current national organizer and Sajith Premadasa, Deputy Leader of the UNP are qualified, experienced and transparent leaders whom the electorate would accept as alternatives to the Rajapaksa clan. There is no such second-tier leader among the siblings of the Rajapaksas. Financial cleanliness should be a manifest characteristic of an acceptable leader. In a sea of corruption, nepotism and naked corruption,
it is quite hard to find one without a murmur of these ignoble traits. However, subject to future findings, both Sajith and Navin stand out as ‘clean’ among the potential candidates for the prize of presidency. Could they endure a gut-wrenching and vicious vitriol of the Mahinda-led opposition? Can either of them withstand the born-again merchants of corruption who now appear before the public as saviours of the country’s treasury which they themselves pilfered when they were the switch-holders of the government machinery? These poachers of the people’s will should be stopped now. Because this government failed to do so when they had a better than good chance at the beginning of their term in 2015, the urgency of the matter is even more exaggerated and compelling.

These questions will have to be answered in the coming few months. It is inevitable that more and more exigencies would emerge as a result of transparency and accountability facilitated by the current administration, as against the last one which advocated policies for a closed society as was evidenced in countries run by dictators and military personnel, and the unhindered interest shown by the social and formal media.

The weight and burden of leadership is very heavy. Some leaders manage to carry it with stoicism and detachment while others stumble because of the sheer heaviness of it. Greatness dwells in those who carry it without a murmur of complaint; they have chosen to carry that weight and are prepared for the consequences; those who complain and choose to lay the blame on his or her colleagues and other bedfellows will fall by the wayside. History is filled with these charlatans who had happened to be there when the time arose whole those who succeed as great leaders are the ones who pursued to carry that weight.

Human life is hard; no one will give power to you; you have to pursue it and get it. The charms of power might try to benumb you for a moment or two, yet you have to carry on regardless remembering that the power you carry on your shoulders has enormous responsibility and a strong sense of duty intrinsically residing within that. Both Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake have to show that they have not only the desire to hold power; they need to remember the sense of duty and responsibility of that power.

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com 

The case of our concealed subservience to China

Real issues ignored in Lankan public discourse

logoOur media poverty

 Wednesday, 20 June 2018


If one takes a close look at the general trend of discourse and debate that has been going on in Sri Lanka, one cannot but be disconcertingly astonished at the poor quality of the island’s print and digital media. The days of quality and erudite journalists are over, it seems.

The stark striking poverty of media discourse is such that all focus is diverted to petty and parochial internal issues of power struggle. On the other hand, something far more fundamental and overridingly serious has been happening to our economy over the last decade and the trend goes on right now. I hardly notice any serious discussion of this except for the Economics Column of one of our weekend English newspapers.

The Sinhala language newspapers are the worst (I am unable to access the Tamil language media). I doubt the swabhasha papers ever seeking to recruit writers on economic or social policy into their fold. One notices some degree of racism in these papers. The internal power struggles going on in the country is the only meat on their table. The situation is little different in the TV media, which is reached by millions of people. There, astrology takes a significant chunk.

The large mass of Sri Lankan people are kept in ignorance. Media feeds into that ignorance and a kind of vicious cycle is in force. Pick most of the formally-educated Sri Lankans and you will notice a foolish nonchalance on their part. I am part of the diaspora and I find hard to find many fellow diasporans who have an awareness of real issues facing Sri Lanka.

If it is politics, it is all about the power struggle-whether between persons and parties or between ethnic groups. Should they have jailed Gnanasara? Will Gota have a chance? Who is the best presidential candidate for 2020? These are might issues for the generality of Sri Lankans
The economics fundamental
These discussions would come to nothing if they take just one fundamental issue that our country is facing. Our whole being as a nation of people would depend on the sustainability of our economy; its viability; its capacity to provide for the population in the long run and to upkeep and expand services needed by the people.

Can’t we have better and more schools or health services? Better modes of transport? All such questions would depend on whether the economy can have space for that. If the economy slides on low growth we slide down as a nation and we face the pain of living and feeding our families.

Even these elementary truths are hardly reflected in the public discourse. In Parliament, except for a very few, MPs are blank on these matters. Recently, Mahinda Rajapaksa said that if they come to power they will reduce taxes by 20%. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asked him how he is going to find the funds to fill the gap that results in tax reduction. Probably Mahinda thought it was an unnecessary question. The public are waiting for a response from Mahinda.
Loans from Beijing
If a proper discussion on the economics fundamental takes place, a most dangerous red flag will be raised. How many of you bothered to read the following news story that appeared in our newspapers a few days ago? I quote:

“Sri Lanka has obtained loans from China amounting to more than Rs. 1,029 billion ($ 8.2 billion) in the period 2005 to 2017, information obtained by the way of a Right to Information (RTI) application revealed.

“The loans have been taken from the China Development Bank Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China and have been for major projects such as highways, power plants, water supply and sewerage schemes.

“More than Rs. 188 billion from these loans went for the work on the Hambantota Port Development Project with the total amount obtained in 2007 of around Rs. 34.2 billion while for Phase II of the project loans amounting to around Rs. 154 billion were obtained from the Export –Import Bank of China in 2012 and 2013.

“In 2005 and 2006, more than Rs. 72 billion was obtained for the Puttalam coal power project. Of this Rs. 30.2 billion came as preferential buyer’s credit and around Rs. 15.9 billion as a buyer’s credit facility.

“Other loans obtained during the previous regime between 2007 and 2015 include funds for the Moragahakanda Development project (Rs. 28.69 billion), purchase of 100 railway passenger carriages (Rs. 3 billion), 15 diesel multiple units (Rs. 4.9 billion), bunkering facility and tank farm project at Hambantota (Rs. 7.4 billion), Mattala International Airport project (Rs. 21.7 billion), MA 60 aircraft project (Rs. 4.63 billion) and procurement of materials for lighting Uva Province (Rs. 3.7 billion).

“Loans had also been obtained for the Colombo-Katunayake express way project, Northern Province power sector development projects, northern road rehabilitation projects, greater Kurunegala water supply and sewerage project and Hambantota hub development project.”
Our sovereignty threatened
My previous critique of our media is vindicated when I realise that Sri Lankan media had not to date carried any discussion or interpretation of these statistics. Isn’t this, alone, frightening? An instance of a self-imposed massive wall of ignorance? The statistics constitute a red flag for the Sri Lankan political economy. We are unobtrusively losing our sovereignty as a nation.

There are many negative things about Beijing loan offers. First, that country does not scrutinise the relevant project for its feasibility. It does not insist on a cost-benefit analysis. It is generally different with American or EU loans. The latter countries want to ensure that the receiving country’s economy benefits; it also wants to ensure that the loaned money is repayable by the project itself.

The second precondition is to guarantee repayment. The Chinese don’t seem to be bothered by such preconditions. Why isn’t Beijing bothered even about repayment potential? That’s where the secret lies and we shall spot that later.

Surely, Hambantota Port Project would never have passed either of the two tests. As we now know, that port is a dead duck. Surely, the International Airport in Mattala would not have passed either of the tests? Another empty project! The International Convention Hall in Hambantota? Where does anybody have conferences there?

The Chinese are famous for just dishing out unscrutinised and unsecured loans off the Exim Bank. They have done this in Africa, Caribbean Islands, and now in the Pacific Islands. From this looseness follows a second aspect, namely that the lack of scrutiny is such that China wouldn’t bother if the loan signed up for contains an element of corrupt money as commissions. This, perhaps, explain the keenness of recipient countries to go for such generosity. Big money can be pocketed by politicians over spurious projects.

Thirdly, China has its own unique manner of recovery: When time comes for repayment the recipient country cannot pay up. The donor, thereupon, opts to become an owner of some facility in the country. Port City loan repayments were partly made by Colombo giving up land for the Shangri-La Luxury Hotel and also giving up the land that housed the former Defence Ministry at Galle Face including the spot where the statue of SWRD stood. Also, Port City, when it functions, will have control by Chinese. Hambantota loan repayment has, probably, been partly paid up by the Sri Lanka Government giving up a huge portion of land as a 99-year lease.

The Opposition cries foul but can they suggest any other way of paying back? Why did they not make provision to payback when their leaders opted for those irresponsible loans? No word on that; yet the JO protests as though they are the good boys. At least the present Government used an institutional device of some modicum of joint ownership.
Pacific Islands
Beijing has done similar deals in Africa, Caribbean and in Pacific Islands. The latest is China’s inroads to the Pacific islands. Last night, I watch an ABC TV program that showed how Vanuatu has been targeted. Massive infrastructure is coming up over there. There is also an International Convention Centre. For what, asked the program presenter. Vanuatu has only a small tourist inflow. How can that Government ever payback the Conference Hall?
Taiwan’s warning
In today’s Australian Newspaper, there is a published warning by Tawan Foreign Minister, Joseph Wa, asking Australia to be extremely mindful of China’s growing dominance in the region. True, the reader has himself to be mindful of the fact that Taiwan and Beijing are foes. On the other hand, what Wa states is of a serious nature. Wa calls for “strategic rebalancing of Asia-Pacific democracies to counter the growing influence of China.” Wa urged Australia to conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the disputed South China Sea region.

What China has done in the South China Sea, says Wa, “is a template for what could happen in other parts of the world, including the Pacific”. Wa points out how China has come to militarise the South China Sea in incremental stages. First, they brought in sand and made up new land areas. Next, came constructions over them. Then, China started putting in military installations. Finally, came up radars, missiles and aeroplanes. All these were done in little stages that were ignored by the world until now when it is too late.

(The writer can be reached via sjturaus@optusnet.com.au.)