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

Saturday, May 26, 2018

ON THE DAY OF GENOCIDE & THE DAY OF VICTORY IN SRI LANKA


Sri Lanka Brief26/05/2018

(National Peace Council, 26 May 2018) The political space opened up by the government over the past three years has enabled political parties and civil society to engage in public activities without restriction.  The National Peace Council is concerned that this political space is being utilized most fully by ethnic nationalists.   This has increased the divisions in society, as manifested in the public activities that commemorated the last day of the war on May 18.

At the main public event that took place in the North the demand was made that May 18 be declared a Day of Genocide.  In the South there was criticism of the government for not celebrating the Day of Victory as in the past. We believe that these two positions constitute extremes that will divide and not reconcile the polity.

 The end of a civil war is a time for healing and reconciliation.  We appreciate the statement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who said that all civilians who lost their lives from the day the war began should also be remembered during that day. He said “Today is an important day for Sri Lanka as the country is commemorating the end of the war and the emergence of peace. We will also remember the security forces personnel who sacrificed their lives and the civilians who died during the armed conflict.”

 We also appreciate the defense of the government’s position on the commemoration of the war by government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne who compared the commemoration of the northern dead to the commemoration of the southern dead in the JVP insurrections of the past which have been taking place regularly in the South.

 The government and Minister Senaratne in particular have been denounced by opposition politicians for having permitted the northern commemoration to take place and for justifying the right of the Tamil people to commemorate those who died that day and in the course of the war.

We wish to remind those who are today in the political opposition of the position on commemoration taken by the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.   “Seeds of reconciliation can take root only if there is forgiveness and compassion. Leaders of all sides should reach out to each other in humility and make a joint declaration, extending an apology to innocent citizens who fell victim to this conflict, as a result of the collective failure of the political leadership on all sides to prevent such a conflict from emerging.”  We affirm that reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change.

Tamils demonstrate in Jaffna in solidarity with Tuticorin protesters

Home26May 2018
Tamils in Jaffna held a demonstration on Friday in solidarity with protesters in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu who were shot by police officers. 
Nine people were killed and 65 injured on Tuesday in Tamil Nadu after police opened fire at protesters in Tuticorin, who had been seeking a ban on Sterlite Industries' copper plant. 
The protesters, who launched their protest many months ago, accuse Sterlite Industries of releasing pollutants from its plants and have been demanding the plant be closed. 

Commemoration does not (necessarily) exclude celebration


  • The more we and our politicians dawdle, the closer we get to the repetition of that same history

  • We cannot just ignore that reality and say, “They are commemorating murderers and we are commemorating the murdered!”

  • MR forgot one salient detail: that celebration, while permissible, does not entail colourful pageants the likes of which might have been conceived in the mind of Jean-Bédel Bokassa

2018-05-25
“ years ago, the day that Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed and Sri Lankans went out to the streets in joy was also a day in which the rains fell down 
as ferociously. 
Why is today so special?” the driver of the van I was in asked me, and I was stumped. A second later I checked myself; Sri Lankans seem to forget so easily that forgetting the commemoration of the (military) end of the civil war seems a trivial omission in comparison -- after all we have representatives of popular culture who don’t even know when we got independence. Moreover, we were caught in a deluge, and the entirety of that day, last Friday, we were assailed with one rainstorm after another. It seemed to depress the significance of May the 18th, until I realised that nine

I remember much less than my parents do about the war. My parents remember much less than their parents do about the prelude to that war. History is cruel, unforgiving. It transforms the unity and the dynamism of one epoch to the shedding of blood of another. It records grievances and never lets them go. The end of the war in military terms, hence, was never going to be the end of the war in total. History is unyielding, compelling us to return to what we forewent on and pleading with us to do something, anything, to address those aforementioned grievances and the ruptures they cause. The more we and our politicians dawdle, the closer we get to the repetition of that same history. I was born to a twilight generation, which saw the conflict in full sway and its cessation also in full sway. I know what it is like to return. I do not want to return. 

I remember a rather privileged childhood spent in the outskirts of Colombo and I remember going to school and coming back not knowing the dread my parents felt, or the doubts they entertained about seeing us return at all. Bomb squads, ambulance sirens, road enclosures, and the occasional yell by a random bystander: if this were the culture we of Colombo and its suburbs felt, imagine the fear of those who courted that culture as an everyday reality, in the maayim gammana of the Wanniya beyond Medavachchiya (the same Medavachchiya which, if I remember correctly, a politician from the then opposition cruelly and unnecessarily conflated with Kilinochchi in that supposedly most hallowed of all political grounds, the Parliament). Imagine how afraid they would be if rumours of a return to the pre-2009 situation become a reality. Imagine how frustrated they would be if those fears remain unaddressed. 

"Commemoration means committing what one lost to memory, be it the 7,000 people the former government stated we lost at the final stages of the war or the 60,000+ people we all know we lost to the scourges of terrorism during the last 25 years"


Those who dream of fragmenting this already-fragmented nation, particularly those who call for independent homelands based on ethnic and religious backgrounds, and those who deny the right to commemorate, to reflect on, and to remember, with an admixture of joy and sadness, the significance of May the 18th, are those who flirted with the idea of fear in those blighted days. They are the people who sold peace and purchased war. They are the people who have lost their moral right to have a say in anything about the war after its cessation, if at all because they did everything in their power, and the power of whatever Dollars and Euros and Pounds they could get their hands on through their “efforts” to stall the path towards a definite military end to the conflict. For the truth of the matter is, our leaders (and there were a great many of them since that conflict “officially” erupted in 1983) had the greatest possible chance to bring together global efforts against terrorism and our need to end such terrorism on our own shores, once the West went through 9/11 and the War Against Terror it necessitated. Instead what did they do? They went around the capitals of the world, waltzed with leaders of the global community, and contended that we needed to talk to those terrorists. In the end, the global community didn’t talk. We did. They bombed. 

Moving on. Commemoration does not unconditionally entail celebration, but it doesn’t exclude it either. Commemoration means committing what one lost to memory, be it the 7,000 people the former government stated we lost at the final stages of the war or the 60,000+ people we all know we lost to the scourges of terrorism during the last 25 years. This begs the question, what is the figure we should account for? Does it include the 100,000 killed during the JVP insurrection, which in case you forgot was accelerated by the opposition to the dictated-from-above 1987 Peace Accord with India? Does it include the loss of human resources and brain drain the conflict compelled? The international community will have their say and highlight a particular statistic. 

They will concentrate on what they want to concentrate on. But what of the other figures, ignored by those who have an axe to grind with the fact that we didn’t go through their process of approval when expediting the end of the conflict? Don’t all wars end in bloodshed, and if they do, how was this war any different? These are questions we ask, from completely different political camps. 
Rajitha Senaratne, a politician I disagree with vehemently on almost every issue conceivable, finally said something I could agree with the other day. “They were dear to them just as our people are dear to us” was the gist of his argument when justifying his conciliatory attitude to the politicians of the North choosing to commemorate May 18 as a Heroes Day. True. In that sense Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka, Kamal Gunaratne, and the other chief architects of the end of the civil war are as dear to the Sinhala people as the former deceased members of the LTTE are to the people of the North. 
We cannot just ignore that reality and say, “They are commemorating murderers and we are commemorating the murdered!” Such simplistic dichotomies conceal one pertinent truth: those members were forced to believe in a cause higher than themselves.

"It seemed to depress the significance of May the 18th, until I realised that nine years ago, the day that Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed and Sri Lankans went out to the streets in joy was also a day in which the rains fell down as ferociously"


 It didn’t matter to Prabhakaran whether they believed it willingly or not. Every Sinhala mother, father, and child and Muslim mother, father, and child they killed were killed out of an overwhelming fanaticism. 
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who gave leadership to the war, forgot one salient detail: that celebration, while permissible, does not entail colourful pageants the likes of which might have been conceived in the mind of Jean-Bédel Bokassa (go ahead, Google him) decades ago. Such crudeness was of course permissible because a vast majority of the country happened to hail from the demographic who wanted to celebrate. 
It was only later, after he and his brothers fell from grace, that they decided to reflect, rather than decorate (May 18 of 2015, if I remember correctly, was commemorated as a quiet, reserved ceremony at the Vihara Maha Devi Park). But it was too little, too late. Such a ceremony was needed earlier. Much, much earlier. And now, with all the racist invectives and outbursts erupting every month or so, we need it more than ever before. Without, however, erasing or banishing the possibility of celebration altogether. 
Kamal Gunaratne, remembering his schoolboy days in the first chapter of his Road to Nandikadal (a book we should all read), reflects on a set of verses and lines from a song we don’t get to hear that often on radio today: Abeywardena Balasooriya’s “Awasan Husma.” The song, a deshabimana gee, begins with these plaintive lines: 
Gunaratne remembers the sense of pride, of sadness, of joy, that it compelled in him. That sense of pride and sadness and joy, for me, comes out from the next set of lines: 
In short, what does the king and the emperor, what does the fool, the unpatriotic, the idle, know about the sweat and the toil of winning a hard-won peace? It is the question May the 18th compels from us every day. And I think it is also the question which we should all ponder on the moment a debate about whether to commemorate or celebrate that day crops up.
 Once we realise we have no real moral right to fight over such debates, once we realise that those who laid down their lives for us did not lay them down so that we could fight over such petty issues, we will understand. And fully. 

Gnanassara the debauched rascally monk found guilty by court ! Sentence on 14 th.

Not only me , all including genuine Buddhist monks will be buoyed up-Sandya

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 26.May.2018, 2.00PM) Bodhu Bala Sena organization general secretary Galagoda Athe Gnanassara the notorious monk in robes who is by now better known as a monk of a rare monster specie  deliberately disgracing Buddhism and Lord Buddha was found guilty by the Homagama magistrate court on the  24 th based on charges filed against him of intimidating  and causing criminal harassment to Sandya Ekneliyagoda the wife of journalist  Prageeth Ekneliyagoda (who went missing after he fell  victim to white Van abduction committed  by a criminal group of the equally cruel and  criminal Rajapakses while he was employed at Lanka e news ).
Gnanassara who has become a byword for criminalities despite being a monk, and a disgrace to the saffron robe he wears  intimidated and caused harassment to Sandya  within Homagama court on  2016-01-25.
It is noteworthy , although Gnanassara wears the robe he is better known as a drunkard  rowdy and ruffian leading   a life of debauchery , and therefore an insult to genuine  Buddhism and true Buddhist followers . Besides , there  are   a number of criminal cases against him pending in courts, though it is only on  the 24  th he was found guilty for the first time.
This historic verdict  was delivered to the great relief of the law abiding citizens and genuine  Buddhist monks by Homagama Magistrate Udesh Ranatunge .The magistrate fixed the date as 14 th June to announce the sentence against  Gnanassara. The judge ordered to take the fingerprints of Gnanassara on that day.
When the preliminary inquiry by the magistrate was being conducted  in connection with the disappearance of Ekneliyagod a on 2016-01-25 , Gnanassara the robed rowdy rascally monk  stormed into the Homagama magistrate court , and after insulting  judge Ranga Dissanayake who was on the bench , began to abuse in filthy foul language Sandya while using physical  force and    pushing her ,within court . The monk was so aggressive  that he screamed ‘ your husband is a Tiger. You go and beg’ thereby intimidating and  insulting her while also  physically molesting her.
Gnanassara in a mad rage scolded State counsel Dileep Peiris too who appeared on behalf of Sandya,   saying  ‘I will not get scared of officers of the State.’ He also threateningly pointed a finger  at the judge on the bench , and said, he is not scared of the laws of ‘black Europeans’ (Kalu Suddhas). His tirade did not stop at that .‘War heroes are inside , tigers are outside. Our boys are inside and tigers are outside ’.  ‘These  rulers are   betraying the country , war heroes and the nation’ , he continued to shout.
It is while  there is a case being heard against rowdy robed rascal Gnanassara who openly scorned and spurned the judiciary  at the Colombo high court based on grave contempt of court charges , the case of Sandya  against him was heard in the Homagama court on the 24 th .
Initially this case was filed under the protection of witnesses Act, later however , the Attorney General (AG) changed the indictment  and filed the case based on charges of criminal harassment under section 386 of the Penal code and criminal intimidation under section 486 of the penal code.
Though the case was transferred to the reconciliation  board , because Sandya refused to come for a settlement , the case had to be heard in court . Gnanassara was found guilty on the 24 th thereafter.
Gnanassara the Satan incarnate in robes who has a spate of criminal cases against him to his discredit was found guilty in another case too earlier on , when he paid a fine of Rs. 15000.00 after pleading guilty. This dipsomaniac monk in that case was charged with driving a lorry without license under the influence of liquor , and meeting with an  accident . He had fled after the accident .
Following the verdict on the 24 th , Ms. Sandya Ekneliyagoda making a statement to Lanka e news said , this verdict has not only buoyed her up , but even those including dignitaries of other religions  and even the genuine Buddhist monks who suffered at the hands of Gnanassara.
Connected report…

---------------------------
by     (2018-05-26 08:32:54)

The Shangri La tamasha: Neither presidential nor parliamentary, it’s Port City politics now


article_image
GR making Viyath Maga speech at Shangri La

Rajan Philips- 

After a week in Cuba, I am late in gate-crashing the Shangri La party, the onset of the newest political tamasha in town. Calling it a tamasha is not to belittle the political potency of the event, but to highlight its ideational bankruptcy. No one took Donald Trump seriously when he slid down his gilded Trump Tower escalator, in January 2016, and announced his candidacy to become President of the United States of America. Look where he landed before the year was over and where he is dragging by its nose the world’s so called sole superpower. The Sri Lankan contrast is glaring.

Everyone in Sri Lanka takes Gotabhaya Rajapaksa seriously. The President and the Prime Minister are seriously scared of him. They will not let anyone, especially the forces of the law, touch him. And he is the only Sri Lankan to have publicly declared that Sri Lanka needs a Trump-like leader to liberate the country from the clutches of traditional politicians. The same way, or maybe not, the Tamils were liberated from the claws of the LTTE. He even said in November 2016, that he was making a study of Trump’s path to power. On May 13, 2018, the ides of May and not March, Shangri La marked the graduation ceremony for Mr. Rajapaksa’s self-teaching labour.

Serious politics is usually born when those in intellectual ivory towers take to city streets and village homes to marry their ideas with the energies of ordinary people which are suppressed under their efforts to barely survive. Fascist politics invariably takes the reverse route – when disgruntled and misguided middle classes throng the political towers to capture total power and put in place the animal farm under military uniform. Therein is the difference between Sri Lankan politics of earlier times that cut its teeth and had its baptismal fires at Galle Face, in Hyde Park, and even earlier in the village huts among shivering malaria patients and on the plantations among the toiling tea pickers – and what now passes for politics at the Shangri La. In one fell swoop, the grand debate between presidential and parliamentary forms of politics has been overtaken by what can appropriately be called Port City politics.

Talking about Port City, a passing swipe at our Prime Minister will not be out of order. In what will go down as the great betrayal in his small footnote to history, Ranil Wickremesinghe after making the grandest of promises in January 2015 to cancel the Port City project made the most ungallantly somersault to keep the project going under a different name called Western Megapolis. The significance of this broken promise is that it was never meant to be kept. Therein is the heart of the country’s political culture that has now spurned Ranil Wickremesinghe and found a new tribune in Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

On the economic front, Mr. Wickremesinghe’s beef with the Rajapaksas was not any major disagreement with what they were doing but only how they were doing it. He was annoyed that the hoi polloi from Hambantota were stealing his pet urban projects and making a mess of them. They needed a city sleek like himself, a fourth generation bourgeois – a rarity in the upstart Sri Lankan society, and his Royal College classmates to turn things around for the good of everyone including, yes, the masses. To silence the Sinhala Buddhist clamour, he assigned his pet projects to Champika Ranawake with strong credentials on the urumaya front.

The Prime Minister waved the magic band of free trade hoping to create in Sri Lanka in what remains of his lifetime, that Lee Kuan Yew took all of his life’s primetime to achieve in Singapore. The dream was a non-starter for two reasons. One, an omission, a grave one at that, and one that ignored the entire agricultural sector and its ten million dependents and left them helpless victims to the wild vagaries of weather. Two, an act of commission, and one that directly and indirectly fostered state corruption the utter lack of which was LKY’s principal ingredient for the regulated success of Singapore. So the economic goose was cooked even before Ravi Karunanayake and Mangala Samarweera began their untutored apprenticeship in the hallowed halls of the Ministry of Finance. The upshot is that the new-rich classes of Sri Lanka have lost all patience for yahapalanaya, more so when they have a dressed up Messiah at the Shangri La who can take them to the promised land of development – much faster and much richer.

Politically, RanilWickremesinghe had an unpredictable partner in power in Maithripala Sirisena. Together, they broke the other great promise of their common platform – to bring to book the corrupt miscreants of the Rajapaksa regime. Instead, they broke ranks and in their own ways protected the Rajapaksas from the forces of the law. Ranil Wickremesinghe tried to undermine Sirisena by keeping the Rajapaksas as a political counterweight. Maithripala Sirisena was more specific in protecting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to spite the other Rajapaksa brothers whom he did not like. Between them, they have succeeded in keeping the Rajapaksas legally safe and politically relevant and in creating out of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa a viable presidential candidate.

A candidate without a party

For all the hype, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not a unifying figure even within the (joint) opposition forces. His ‘arrival’ at the Shangri La was not organized by any political party. As of now, he is a candidate looking for a party ticket. The old Left comrades in the JO know that supporting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa would be worse than voting for the 18th Amendment – as a matter of principle, so to Vasu-speak. They may still end up supporting him. For now, their preferred choice for candidate is Chamal Rajapaksa. There is also much blame going on about the 19th Amendment that closed the door on a third term or unlimited tenure for Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is only because Mahinda Rajapaksa is constitutionally barred from running again for president by 19A, the blaming argument goes, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is being enabled to put himself forward as a presidential candidate. Put another way, we should blame 19A if the former army officer becomes the next Sri Lankan President.

The Shangri La event might be causing unease even within the family. The younger Rajapaksa may seem to have jumped the gun on his two older brothers, and the still younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, may not be too pleased to see his army brother vying for the highest political office after all the political legwork he (Basil) has been doing. Mahinda Rajapaksa knows a thing or two about the fate of parachuted candidates from Colombo, no matter what the initial euphoria is. He handily defeated one of them, Sarath Fonseka - whose military bubble burst no sooner than the war hero entered the electoral fray. Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa know that the UNP and Ranil Wickremasinghe are hoping that the 2010 history will repeat itself in 2020, albeit in their favour this time. For all its fancy fluff, the Shangri La shindig may turn out to be a political albatross in a national election.

That Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is an aspiring candidate looking for a party ticket is only one side of our current political story. By the way, the name abbreviation GR has a nice ring to it, and may rhyme well or ill, depending on where you stand, with the more famous initials – JR. That JR was also known as "Yankee Dick" is not relevant here, but it won’t take long before the wags come up with a "Yankee Goat" bumper sticker for the Rajapaksa bandwagon.

GR’s emergence only shows how political parties have been made irrelevant by the cumulative effects of the presidential system, proportional representation, the abolition of electoral candidates in favour party list of candidates, and the virtual elimination of by-elections to fill member vacancies between general elections. Historically, Sri Lanka is not the first country where a political party has its members divided between the government and opposition in the national legislature. It happened in the mother of parliaments, in Britain, at the very beginning of political parties, and it has happened elsewhere since. But nowhere has political opportunism and not principled differences have resulted in the fragmentation of parties without anyone actually leaving, let alone being expelled from, a political party.

In the run up to the last presidential election the Secretaries of the two major parties, the SLFP and the UNP, left their respective parties without resigning from them. One of them went on to become President of the country and then the President of the Party he had left. Neither of them was challenged or faced expulsion. If they were, they would have taken refuge under the principles of Natural Justice - to give the leaving party member a fair hearing, inasmuch as the maxim "Audi Alteram Partem" has become the basis for Sri Lankan case law on political party expulsions. However laudable the courts’ enshrinement of the old maxim may be in defence of the rights of individual members, no one seems to have assessed its disruptive effects on the functioning of parliament (and cabinet government), where much of the nation’s sovereignty is supposed to reside.

Political fragmentation has also given the license for fake loyalties and informal alliances. A cabinet minister may have much more in common, including the sharing of cabinet secrets, with opposition members than his own cabinet colleagues. The current President took it to the highest level in reaching out to the opposition to get rid of his own ‘national government’ partner, the Prime Minister. If the presidential system has contributed to the disarraying of political parties, the disarrayed parties are now influencing, rather, not influencing, the selection of presidential candidates. The Shangri La event was not a political party convention to select a presidential candidate, but a gathering of political busybodies to exert pressure on the SLPP to nominate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as its presidential candidate. Donald Trump did it himself, but GR has a whole entourage to do it for him.

Rescuing politics from the

Shangri La tamasha

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not an egotistical phenomenon, unlike Trump whose ego is his politics and whose politics is all about his ego. In any event, GR cannot afford to show much ego in the shadow of his older brother and former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Nor can he afford to say that Sri Lankan history has been all "carnage" until now and he has arrived to stop it as the next President, the way Trump declared in his ‘fire and fury’ inaugural address with three former presidents seated behind him. Trump’s slogans were: "Make America Great Again"; and "Drain the Washington swamp." GR cannot plagiarise either of them, because, unlike Trump, he is not a newcomer to the state and government establishments and the Colombo swamp. He was very much a part of the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency and the Colombo swamp and that is in fact his only claim to fame and his only qualification to be President. The essence of the Shangri La political tamasha is the rush to restore undivided control over the Colombo swamp after its mismanagement under the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe diarchy.

Again, it is not GR who is spiriting away the business classes from the UNP and Ranil Wickremesinghe. The political appropriation of the business classes was already much accomplished under Mahinda Rajapaksa. Demographic and political changes have created a new generation of Sinhalese business classes who are more at home with the Rajapaksas than they are with anybody in the UNP. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is neither unaware nor unmindful of this shift in class allegiance and loyalty. In fact, during the 2014-15 presidential election campaign, Mr. Wickremesinghe pointedly warned the new rich that they do not have to worry about anything if they have not broken any law while making money. That moral high road has since vanished under the clouds of the Central Bank bond scandal and everything else.

The Prime Minister’s new warning is to the journalists that they do not know what they are bargaining for in giving excessive coverage to the political emergence of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Really? The only people who bargained with the devil and who are now about to reap what they sowed are Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and President Sirisena. Strangely, if not stupidly, the two men still entertain hopes that they have a fair to good chance of making another run in the next presidential race. Mr. Wickremesinghe is trying to counter the GR phenomenon by promising a UNP of ‘new faces’ as opposed to the SLPP of the same old faces and military retirees. Mr. Sirisena, on the other hand, seems to be relying on his own ‘charisma’, which he apparently thinks won him the presidency in 2015, and amateurish machinations to disrupt the SLPP. To wit, the SLFP-16 is supposed to be a Trojan horse in the opposition benches. But everybody knows it, so there is nothing Trojan about the 16 SLFPers. If at all, they sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Like addicted political gamblers, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe seem set on playing for broke by running again in a presidential election. They have an alternative way to save their political bacon and derail the GR bandwagon. And that is to seriously and jointly support the 20th Amendment proposals that the JVP has now formally submitted to parliament for review by the Attorney General before being gazetted as a bill. There is no other way for the two men. They may get still direct or indirect support from even within the Rajapaksa family who may not be too pleased with the showmanship at Shangri La.

“Contempt Procedures Initiated To Silence Me” Says Nagananda, Appeals To Commonwealth Secretariat For Support


logo
Public interest litigator Nagananda Kodituwakku has written to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London alleging that contempt procedures are being deliberately abused in order to silence him.
Nagananda Kodituwakku
Kodituwakku refers to an ongoing contempt case (SC/Rule/2016) initiated against him and alleges that the action is aimed at subverting his activism on behalf of the citizens by preventing him practice his legal profession. He claims that these moves have been prompted by the fact that he has dedicated himself to upholding the rule of law and the constitution of the country.
He has therefore requested that an observer from the Commonwealth Secretariat or an affiliated organization be present at the contempt hearing in the Supreme Court ‘to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka adheres to its obligations under the Commonwealth Latimer House principles and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.’
The full text of Kodituwakku’s letter is given below:
The Secretary General
Commonwealth Secretariat
Marlborough House
Pall Mall,

London
SW1Y 5HX
24th May 2018
Dear Madam,
Sri Lanka: Violation of the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles & abuse of contempt proceedings to silence a Public Interest Attorney
I write further to my letter delivered at Commonwealth Secretariat, London on 27th April 2018 drawing the attention of the Commonwealth to the deterioration of judicial independence and administration of justice in the Republic of Sri Lanka (a copy of the letter is attached hereto). 
The letter under reference is self-explanatory and provides an insight into Sri Lanka’s judiciary, which is no more an independent, impartial, honest and competent institution, owing to direct violation of Commonwealth Latimer House Principles by all three organs of the Government of Sri Lanka.  
As such, the life of the handful of rights activists in the country has become extremely vulnerable to threats, persecution and removal from the legal profession. This is borne out by the fact that certain elements in the judiciary who resent genuine and justifiable criticism are abusing judicial office by instituting contempt proceedings against such rights activists, in order to silence them. Regrettably, they and their supporters ignore the fact that such deplorable actions could justify and further strengthen the existing call for foreign Judges in Sri Lanka. 
The on-going contempt case (SC/Rule/1/2016) initiated against the undersigned public interest litigation activist, who is dedicated and committed to upholding the rule of law and the constitution of the country, is the best example in this regard.
The content of the Motion filed in Court on 23rd May 2018 (copy attached) further reveals cogent first-hand evidence relating to the functioning of the three organs of the government in the country.  
In view of the above, the presence of an observer from the Commonwealth Secretariat or an affiliated organisation, at the contempt hearing in the Supreme Court is requested to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka adheres to its obligations under the Commonwealth Latimer House principles and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. 

Read More

People should take opposite of what Mangala says - Dilan Perera



by Gagani Weerakoon - MAY 27 2018

The 16 Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who vowed they will not leave the Party nor will they defy SLFP Leader Maithripala Sirisena, following a meeting held with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week, openly declared that they were willing to form a broader opposition alliance under Rajapaksa’s leadership. Though this was not completely unexpected they appeared to be in two minds whether or not to abandon President Sirisena, completely.
According to former Minister S.B. Dissanayake the discussion focused on how the group of 16 could work with the Joint Opposition (JO) on addressing key issues including dealing with the tax burden imposed on the people by the Government.

MP Chandima Weerakkody said that among other things that were discussed, it was agreed to accept Rajapaksa’s leadership. He, however, said they have not discussed or even thought about lobbying for MP Rajapaksa to be made the Opposition Leader as there is a “technical issue” in doing so.

“President Maithripala Sirisena is the leader of the SLFP. Those MPs in the Joint Opposition are also Members of the UPFA.
Even though there is no change in President Sirisena’s SLFP leadership or us being SLFP Members, we will work under the leadership of Rajapaksa when acting as Opposition Members,” Weerakkody added.

When pointed out that their stance is contradictory, MP Weerakkody responded in the negative.

“This is not a new concept. When Chandrika Kumaratunga was the President, the Opposition Leader was Rajapaksa. Both of them were Members of the SLFP,” he added.

Former Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara stated that he was prepared to work in the Opposition, while protecting the SLFP.
Rajapaksa, while stating that the SLFP should be protected, requested the group of 16 to work as part of the Joint Opposition through discussions.

The group of 16 is expected to meet Rajapaksa on 3 June following the SLFP Central Committee meeting, during which Party reforms are to be discussed.
On previous Thursday (17) the SLFP Central Committee met under the patronage of its Chairman Sirisena where the latter had indicated the need to exit the Unity Government for the Party’s own benefit.

According to several senior SLFP members, President Sirisena has told the group, of SLFP Ministers and Parliamentarians, that remains in the Unity Government to decide for how long they are going to continue with the Government.

After meeting Rajapaksa at his residence, the group called a press conference at their media premises which is situated at a property belonging to MP Thilanga Sumathipala in Colombo and declared that they would support the Presidential candidate who receives the blessing and support of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The group had also agreed to be a bridge between the Rajapaksa-backed 2020 Presidential candidate and minority parties and minority communities, to iron out differences, if any.

Flanked by colleagues, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Thilanga Sumathipala and Tharanath Basnayake, Dilan Perera said the SLFP breakaway group would function as a separate entity within Parliament as well as outside and would not join the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), despite leader Prof. G.L. Peiris requesting them to do so.

“We will cooperate with the Joint Opposition when it comes to political activities, but this does not mean that we are leaving the SLFP. We will stay in the Party and lobby for radical reforms. From 3 June, the SLFP reforms will begin.
The time has come to remove Duminda Dissanayake from the post of SLFP General Secretary. We are hoping that this change is possible as President Maithripala Sirisena has indicated the need to appoint new office-bearers of the Party. A special committee was also appointed in this regard,” he added.

SLFP to get rid of Unity Government

Perera’s contention is that the SLFP will get rid of the UNP-led Unity Government after the radical changes that are being envisaged are implemented.

“At the upcoming Presidential Election, most probably both President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would support the anti-UNP candidate. Even President Sirisena was fully aware about our meeting with the former leader and gave his blessings,” Perera noted.

He also pointed out that there would be a broad anti-UNP alliance in the future under the leadership of former President Rajapaksa and parties such as the SLFP and SLPP would be partners in the alliance.

When a journalist questioned about recent remarks made by Minister Mangala Samaraweera against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is highly speculated to be the SLPP Presidential candidate, MP Perera said people should take the opposite of what Minister Samaraweera says.

Minister Samaraweera had said that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not fit to be the President of the country. “Previously in 1999 and 2005 Presidential Elections he said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was a failed leader and he is incapable.
But, now he is saying, he said so, being fully aware that Ranil was clever. Now he is saying Gotabaya is not suitable for the country’s leadership and is incapable. The truth is that he knows Gotabaya is suitable. That is why he is uttering the opposite,” Perera added.

Meanwhile, speculation is ripe that former Minister Susil Premajayantha would be appointed as the UPFA General Secretary while his colleague S.B. Dissanayake would be appointed to the post of SLFP General Secretary on 3 June when appointing temporary office-bearers to the Party to work out a proper organizing and revival plan before 2 September.
However, this has been neither confirmed nor denied by any of the Parties as yet.

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama praised former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his ‘Vision 2030’ unveiled at the ‘Viyathmaga’ annual convention on 14 May.

Samarawickrama, opening the debate on two Orders under the Strategic Development Projects Act on Tuesday (22) said, “We are glad that Rajapaksa has endorsed the economic policies of our Government.

The economic development which he said he wants to achieve by 2030, we hope to achieve by 2025. I will table the documents related to our plan for that”.

At this juncture, Joint Opposition Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardana queried as to how Rajapaksa was relevant to the debate on the Act. Samarawickrama replied that it was very relevant because the debate was all about investments and economic projects.

“Rajapaksa said that China, India and Japan will be economic giants in the coming decades and that Asia will be the economic powerhouse of the world. He should be congratulated for realizing it. That is exactly why we are negotiating comprehensive economic and technology agreements with India and China.
As you know, we recently signed an agreement with Singapore. We hope to do the same with other Asian nations. Our aim is to make Sri Lanka the hub of Asia. We want to benefit from Asia’s economic growth,” the Minister noted.

Samarawickrama added that Rajapaksa at this stage thinks that economic development is the only solution for the ills of the country. He also added, “It is a vote of confidence for us to focus our work on collective efforts, new projects and the introduction of economic reforms to ensure economic researches.”

He said that if the former Government, which lasted for nine years, had the same priorities Sri Lanka would have been leading the charge in the region.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too took a dig at Gotabaya Rajapaksa when the two, along with President Sirisena happened to sit in the same table at the wedding held recently at a five star hotel on Thursday (24).
PM Wickremesinghe made both Gotabaya and President Sirisena laugh when he asked “didn’t you steal our 2025 economic policy? (Ape arthika prathipaththi prakashaya horakamkala neda?) Rajapaksa however did not shy away and responded: “We don’t have to steal anything from you. Ours is more practical than yours”.

20th Amendment

The proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution was handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Parliament Secretary General Dhammika Dassanayake at the Parliament Complex on Friday (25), by a group of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) members led by Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

The Amendment aims to abolish the Executive Presidency, which also was a key promise made by President Maithripala Sirisena during the Presidential Election 2015.

Dissanayake submitted the Amendment as a Private Member’s Bill. MPs Sunil Handunnetti, Nihal Galappatti and Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa were present on the occasion.

Speaking to journalists after handing over the proposal, the JVP Leader demanded that both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should let the general public know about their stance on the proposed 20thAmendment.

“If this Government has a genuine interest in delivering its key promises made during the elections that they would abolish the Executive Presidency, it can present the Bill in Parliament and pass it within a period of two to three months.
We are always ready to hold discussions with every political party and all the other factions who are interested in the Amendment. We would like to make further Amendments if necessary and we welcome all the constructive criticism as well,” Dissanayake said.

He added that the JVP decided to move the proposed Amendment with the realization that the space for a new Constitution is fast shrinking with what is taking place in the current political arena. “Therefore, we wanted to take this chance to introduce more democratic reforms”.

The Bill has to be gazetted after the approval of the Attorney General before it was presented in Parliament.

If the Amendment gets passed, it would come into effect on 8 January 2020.

As the Eighth Parliament would have been dissolved by then, a nominal President would be elected by the new Parliament and he or she would function as the Head of State but not as Head of Government.

According to the proposal, the nominal President would be unable to hold a ministerial portfolio and would not chair or participate in meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers either.

Furthermore, the President would have the right to make suggestions to the Cabinet and he would be informed of the decisions taken by the Cabinet.

However, because none of the powers vested with the President through the enactment of the 13th Amendment will be subject to change by the proposed 20th Amendment, the President will have the power to appoint Governors.
Also, the President’s power to appoint Ambassadors and High Commissioners and grant pardons would be subjected to Cabinet approval. Also, the proposed Amendment would remove the President’s power to prorogue Parliament.

Walt and Row
Associates’ cheque
Meanwhile, UPFA MP Dayasiri Jayasekara, who defected to Opposition with 15 others recently, admitted in Parliament on Friday that he received a cheque for Rs 1 million, from Walt and Row Associates Private Limited for his election campaign in 2015.

However, the MP said that at the time of receiving the cheque he was not an MP.

During the debate held over seven Orders under the Appropriation Act, Jayasekara made a special remark saying that he would elaborate that what he had said was in fact the truth.

“I received the cheque in question on 13 July 2015. I was the Chief Minister of the North-western Province at the time and there were preparations for the 2015 General Election.

That was the same day on which I submitted nominations for the General Election after resigning from the post of Chief Minister.
I was appointed as an MP on 17 August 2015. I was not a Member of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) at that time,” he said.

Jayasekara told the House that the cheque in question was a cash cheque.
 “I cannot remember if it was signed by the owner of primary dealer of Perpetual Treasuries Limited, Arjun Aloysius. It was not addressed to me.
I did not encash it. It must be someone else who encashed it and used it for my election campaign,” he said.

“In Sri Lanka it is common practice that businessmen give donations for election campaigns. Not only MPs, but Provincial Councillors and Pradeshiya Sabha Members also receive such donations,” he noted.

“I had a close business relationship with Aloysius and former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna  Mahendran. But when the details of the Treasury Bonds scam were revealed, I did not try to protect them.
 I did not take money from him when I was in the COPE and I would never ever do so even in the future,” Jayasekara added.

Jayasekara alleged that there were many persons who had obtained money from Aloysius.
“I know who they are, but I am not going to name them right now,” he said and added, “There are around 3,000 pages in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry regarding the matter which has not been tabled in Parliament.
If these pages are tabled, then everyone would be able to see the names mentioned in the report and those who obtained money from Aloysius,” he stressed.

Jayasekara claimed the Government was now on a witch-hunt of UFPA MPs who voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and defected from the Government.

JVP’s 20th Amendment; a test for major parties

2018-05-26
In significant move, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, in parliament yesterday handed over a private members bill or the 20th Amendment calling for the complete abolition of the 40 year executive presidential system. This system has been widely criticised by almost all parties but no one really got down to abolishing it due to many wide ranging reasons.

In July 1977, when the United National Party’s (UNP’s) then leader J.R Jayewardene won an unprecedented 5/6 majority in parliament, it possibly may have given him ideas of exercising absolute power and keeping his party in power for decades unlike the long drawn Constitutional Assemblies which we see even now Mr. Jayewardene - obviously with the help of his eminent lawyer- brother H. W Jayewardene, worked out an executive presidential system within eight months. On February 04, 1978 he was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s first Executive President with virtually unlimited political powers and without the checks and balances we see in other countries. In Sri Lanka the Executive Presidential system had its positives as well negatives. 

Many see the necessity of a strong executive arm to carry out large scale development measures as undertaken during the terms of Presidents J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapaksa. They argue that such decisive implementation of development projects would not have been possible if not for the Executive Presidency. The same is seen with regard to the ending of the war. Among the widely seen political abuses from 1978 to 1988 was the 1982 Referendum which, most analysts believed was legal but illegitimate though Mr Jayewardene won a 50.1 majority in the controversial Referendum it was twisted and turned into a 5/6th majority in parliament. 

Many analysts believe, this move drove the JVP out of main stream politics into which Mr Jayewardene himself had brought the party after the former Sirimavo Bandaranaike government appointed a wide - powered Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) which sent most JVP leaders to jail. The move also is believed to have been one of the main causes of July 1993 racial riots which was one of the biggest black marks in Sri Lanka’s history and regard the devastating 26 – year ethnic war. Mr Jayewardene also virtually got rid of the opposition with a Special Presidential Commission (SPC) stripping former Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike and other leaders of their civic rights and introducing the Fifth Amendment which forced the then Opposition Leader Appahpillay and Amirthalingam other Tamil members to quit parliament.

 The next President Ranasinghe Premadasa also manipulated the executive system especially by the manner in which he dealt with the impeachment motion introduced by UNP seniors Gamini Dissanayaka, Lalith Athulathmudali and others. In 1994, when Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga took over as SLFP leader, she promised the JVP, she would abolish the executive presidential system within 24 hours if she was elected president because she believed it was the biggest curse for the country. But she did not follow through with her promises. After Mrs Kumaratunga, President Rajapaksa also promised to abolish the executive presidency but in 2010 he did just the opposite by enforcing the 18th Amendment which gave him the power to be president for life with absolute authority. In the campaign for the January 2015 presidential election, Maithripala Sirisena also promised to abolish it but had not fulfilled it so far. 

The JVP ceremonially handed over the motion at 11.15 a.m yesterday, to Parliament Secretary General Dhammika Dasanayake in the presence of the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. JVP frontliner MPs Suinil Handunnetti and Nihal Galappaththi were also present. It says the 14 page Bill may be sited as the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and essentially wants a ceremonial president elected by parliament on the advice of the Cabinet of Ministers. 

However, detractors point out that at the time the Executive Presidency was introduced the 13th Amendment was not there and abolishing it at that time would not have been a concern. They point out that with the enactment of the 13th Amendment certain safeguards against secession are hinged on the Executive Presidency and therefore it is not advisable to abolish it while the 13th Amendment remains in place as it is. We hope all parties would consider what is best for the country and decide on this important issue in a balanced way.     

Lanka’s lost fight against corruption

How are some countries winning the battle to control corruption?


article_image
Carpark Mahanama and Timberhead Dissanayake

by Kumar David- 

Sleaze, skulduggery and the purchase of officials, politicians and businessmen great and small is a cancer metastasizing not only in the less developed part of the world but also in powerful and rich nations as well. The latter is epitomised by Donald Trump. No US president has been as embroiled as this individual in scandals, investigations of wrongful collusion, sex-related indignities, hiring disgraced White House aides (five have pleaded guilty, one tried and convicted, and several still arraigned before the courts) and concealment of financial dealings. At the same time worldwide the fight against corruption led by people’s movements, journalists, brave prosecutors and political leaders who seem able to hold their head above water, goes on. There are winners and losers.

Sleaze galore in Mother Lanka

Sri Lanka, in the last five decades and at the present is a resounding loser; the future is bleak. Nothing will happen from now till the next election cycle; Yahapalana has in the three months since 10 February, made it amply clear that it is toothless. If the present lot, together or separately, win the next election cycle the paralysis will drag, nothing will improve; Ranil has no spunk, his leadership is tinsel. Whatever was left of Sirisena after his pulverisation in the LG elections was ground into dust when his Chief-of Staff was nabbed collecting Rs 20 million - for himself or who else we do not yet know - in a carpark. When you rob, do it in style man! Grama sevakas don’t get it! If the Ranil-Maithri twosome is driven out, then what? God-forbid, Alibaba and the One Thousand and One thieves will return. It will be frying pan to fire, shit-hole to hell-hole. For the rest of this election cycle ending in 2019-20 and the end next in 2025-26, only brave souls see bright skies. If you are hopeful that public anger will slip the electoral leash and break out in direct action, well, not impossible but hard to prophesy though hopelessness leads to desperation –vide Palestine.

The leader of the JVP is quoted as saying:

"The president’s chief of staff has been arrested over taking a bribe of Rs. 20 million. The chief of staff of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was also arrested over a bribery charge. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s chief of staff who was also arrested on a bribery charge is now released on bail. The international police are searching for two relatives of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ? who were engaged in diplomatic service ? in order to arrest them. The prime minister is completely responsible for the Central Bank governor fleeing the country after the bond scandal. The prime minister is silent on that issue. All these fraudulent activities have taken place with the blessings of the present and former heads of state. While the leaders who organise these frauds remain free, it is only the middlemen who are caught" (JVP Leader Anura Kumara Disanayaka quoted in Verite Research).
[Verite Research in its May 7-13 Media Analysis Release summarises 11 pieces from the Sinhala press on recent big-time corruption scandals. Readers who do not customarily track the Sinhala press can benefit from the source].

The spread of corruption among politicians, bureaucrats and bureaucrats is epidemic all across the world. Previous windows in human history have gone down by names such as The Warring States Period, The Rise of Islam, The Enlightenment, Age of Reason, Industrial Revolution and Decolonisation; it is likely that the 50-year phase of the socio-political story in the middle of which we seem to be, will go into the books as the Aeon of Global Graft.

El Dorado of sleaze: Central America

The presidencies of Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras have been marked by crime and corruption since he first won in 2013. His campaign was fraught with embezzlement as he and his cronies siphoned off US$90 million from the Honduran Social Security Institute for the campaign against Xiomara Castro, wife of President Manuel Zelaya, a democratically-elected leftist ousted in a U.S.-supported coup in 2009. Hernandez stole US$300 million from the social security system while president of the National Assembly. Rajapaksa-clique larceny, comparatively, is diminutive.

Hernandez of course was re-elected in November 2017, despite (no actually because of) the grand larceny and a fraudulent vote which the United States blithely and routinely endorsed; "he is a bastard but he is our bastard". Hernandez sterilised the judiciary, took de facto control of the attorney-general’s department and had congress defang legislation to investigate high level corruption, and castrated an investigative body that could expose his highway robbery.

In Guatemala president Jimmy Morales with the full backing of US Senator Marco Rubio is taking the stops out in a fight to disembowel CICIG, a UN baked agency that exposed his campaign financing malpractices. It is not for nothing that Central America’s ‘northern triangle’ of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is famed for graft, drugs and rotten dictators. The proportion of people who paid a bribe in 2017 to access a public service is: Panama 38%, Honduras 33%, El Salvador 31%, Nicaragua 30%, Guatemala 28% and Costa Rica, 24%. (CentralAmericadata.com, Feb 2018).

In her book Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister explains how she discovered just how dangerous it could be. Her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped in 2012 by powerful criminals who objected to her Ministry’s attempts at reform - in particular a crackdown on fraudulent claims for oil subsidy payments, a huge drain on the country’s finances. The kidnappers demanded that she resign from her position on live television and leave the country. She refused, her mother escaped, and the program of economic reforms continued. Lanka’s journalists, Lasantha, Eknaligoda and Noyhar were much less lucky.

All is not lost

Nevertheless the fight goes on. Hong Kong’s ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) is a model that Sri Lanka should copy; but of course it never will so long as legislation depends on the 225 coots who warm their backsides in Kotte. It is a paradox that the public despises every one of them, but the same public dutifully votes them into office; an inexplicable instance of mass schizophrenia.

The ICAC has fearlessly pursued billionaires and the powerful. It has succeeded in putting a former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang behind bars for five years. In South Korea three former Presidents have been convicted on corruption charges, one was impeached but not convicted and one was assassinated. Should one be overjoyed at the courage and independence of prosecutors or weep for a country whose heads of state are serial crooks?

A lady who has won great laurels is Thelma Aldana, the attorney-general of Guatemala who is just stepping down having completed her term of office. During her four years she put a serving president (Otto Perez Molina) and a Vice-President (Roxana Baldetti) behind bars in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Thelma, oh Thelma wherefore art though Thelma? Sri Lanka is in need of a man or a woman of thy calibre! Why are we cursed with prosecutorial sheep? Why is our judicial system an exemplar of what Dickensian lore calls the ‘laws delays’? Why is our PM bereft of willpower; why is our grama sevakeya, his siblings and progeny suspected of larceny? Oh unlucky Lanka!

Even Malaysia, a pit of corruption for more than a decade under the prime ministership of Najib Razak, may do better. Najib gerrymandered electoral boundaries, looted $680 million (a feat beyond the bravest Rajapaksa) from 1MDB a sovereign investment fund, boiled the race pot and threw critics into prison. The electorate has given him his desserts; UMNO lost power for the first time in 60 years. His passport has been seized, his house searched and sacks of valuables and files removed and Najib been barred from leaving the country. He may be arrested by the time you read this.

I think it unlikely that Mahathir and Anwar will betray the public outcry for justice. The big difference is that Mahathir is not clay like Ranil, nor stained by ineptitude like Maithri. Mahathir has vowed to bring charges against Najib so perhaps the wheels of justice will grind finer in Malaysia – still fingers crossed, we have learnt much the hard way. Unlike the Mahinda-Maithripala incompetent jellyfish, Mahathir-Anwar alliance has promised not to cut a deal with Najib if wrongdoing is found in the 1MDB probe.

Populism has been on the march elsewhere earlier this month as well. I devoted an entire section of my April 1 column to the victory of neo-populism in Italy; 70% of Italians voted for the rightist Northern League or the Centre-Left five-Star movement in about equal numbers. The split hindered the formation of a government, but they have now managed to get together to form a unity government. This is not a surprise; as I told at the time "modern neo-populism has no ideology". The tension between the factions will impede corruption in Italy though it could not do so in Lanka because our politicians, personally, are of much inferior ethical worth.

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance won the largest number of seats (54 of 329 seats) on an anti-corruption, anti-elite populist platform in the Council of Representatives, Iraq’s notoriously fractured parliament. Sadr a nationalist is opposed to American and Iranian interference; his alliance includes secularists, the Communist Party and independents. The Hezbollah alliance won more than half the seats in the Lebanese parliament and will have to be included in the next government. These changes may lead to a little less corruption in Iraq and Lebanon, as after the switch from Paksa to yahapalana. In a context where Israel and America are determined on war if regime change in Iran is unachievable, these realignments are a harbinger of a much modified Middle Eastern calculus.