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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I could have survived unharmed

if I toed the Govt. line: 

Poddala Jayantha

2017-06-23
Former General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) Poddala Jayantha recently lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), requesting an investigation into his abduction and torture in June, 2009.  Journalist Poddala Jayantha began his journalism career in 1989 as a freelance journalist at Ravaya. Later, he joined Lake House and was working as an investigative journalist at the time when he was abducted in a white van and tortured. Later in 2010, he had fled the country and is currently living in the USA under the status of a refugee.   In an interview with the Dailymirror , Jayantha said he could have survived unharmed if he toed the government line, and as he did not do so, he had to pay the price.

A Sri Lankan In Drawing

At the start of 2017 the President’s Office and the Office for National Unity launched a campaign to raise awareness of “Sri Lankan Shared Values”.  The proposed aim is to bring together the people from each of the individual ethnic groups in Sri Lanka and create a “unified national identity”.  Given the reoccurrence in extremism emanating from all groups lately, creating this “unified national identity” is of national importance.
With this in mind, I wish to demonstrate via a drawing what I believe represents a unified Sri Lankan identity.
Note: This drawing has been designed and created by myself (the writer of this article). I apologise that it’s not the best drawn.
The background
The background is split into two; three quarters being blue and the remaining quarter being yellow. These colours aim to represent the sea/sky and the land respectively.
The background aims to reinforce the concept that we are all living on one united and indivisible island. It also intends to bring to attention two of the most important (and historical) jobs that members of all of the ethnic communities in Sri Lanka partake in; agriculture and fishing.
The 3 headed tree
The most dominating and noticeable part of the drawing is the ‘3 headed tree’. Each of the ‘heads’ are different but attached together by the same trunk which is embedded into the land. The 3 ‘heads’ are the ‘Coconut Tree’ (middle), the ‘Palmyra Tree’ (left) and the ‘Palm Tree’ (right). What this aims to represent, is the different communities i.e. the coconut tree represents the Sinhalese, the Palmyra tree represents the Tamil and the palm tree represents the Muslims.
The Sinhala majority south of the country is dominated by the coconut trees. As you move north, the landscape takes a drastic change and the Palmyra trees come to dominate the landscape. The palm tree is heavily revolved around Islam and can be seen doted around the Muslim dominated parts of Sri Lanka. As a result, these trees have become synonymous with each ethnic group and are thus used to represent each community. 
Whilst each of the trees individually is different (i.e. in terms of appearance and the fruits they provide) they are from the same botanical family, Arecaceae. In much the same way, whilst a Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim wear different clothes (appearance), speak different languages, practise different religions and participate in different cultural events (fruit), they are all part of the same family, Sri Lanka.
The 3 ‘heads’ are positioned at same height to symbolise that we are all equal. The ‘Coconut Tree head’ (Sinhalese) is placed in the middle to symbolise its central role (as the majority). The ‘Palmyra Tree head’ and the ‘Palm Tree head’ are connected by branches to the main trunk to symbolise the indivisible connection to both the land and the central ‘Coconut Tree’.
Trying to remove one of the ‘heads’ is impossible. Whilst you could try and cut off a ‘head’, it will grow back. Thus, the only way to permanently remove one of the ‘heads’ would be cutting the trunk off the tree. However, doing this will lead to all three ‘heads’ being destroyed. To put this idea into perspective, there have been times when one ‘head’ (Sinhala/Tamil/Muslim) has tried to hurt another ‘head’ (Sinhala/Tamil/Muslim) e.g. 1983 riots, LTTE expulsion of Muslims, Aluthgama riots etc.  In all these cases, while the indicated target was one group against another group, the end result was all the ethnic groups (the whole tree) suffered.

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RTI COMMISSION LAUNCHES WEBSITE AND LOGO

 2017-06-23
Unveiling the website of the Commission (www.rticommission.lk) and its logo on Monday (19), the RTI Commission of Sri Lanka invited public feedback on Draft Guidances on Pro-active Disclosure applicable to all ministries under the globally-acclaimed RTI Act No.12 of 2016.   
The Commission’s logo, as unveiled, consists of Sri Lanka centered in the black pupil of an eye commonly symbolizing information, held aloft by a hand.   
Pro-active disclosure duties refer to information that must be released by Ministers in advance of the initiation of projects. Information must also in general, be released in regard to the functioning of ministries. These relate to procurement processes and disbursements under budgets in regard to both local and foreign expenses. The duties arise automatically in terms of the law and do not depend on a citizen filing an information request against a particular Public Authority.   
The Commission has announced on its website that it hopes to hold consultations with Public Authorities and citizens with a view to finalizing the Guidances.   
 Meanwhile, information available on the Commission website disclosed that the Road Development  Authority (RDA) and the Panadura Urban Council were among several Public Authorities summoned by the Commission during the hearing of its first appeals. The Commission is the primary appellate body under the Act. It is mandated to ensure that state, corporate and non-governmental perform in compliance with the law. Failure can result in the prosecution of offenders by the Commission, which is a power not in the hands of other similar bodies, excluding the Bribery and Corruption Commission.   

"Several other matters have also been listed for hearing. Among these are two RTI appeals filed by a non-governmental organization Transparency International, Sri Lanka, regarding the assets declarations of the President and the Prime Minister"


In several instances, the information released on the orders of the Commission concerned improper permissions given by the Public Authorities. The RDA was petitioned by a citizen in the public interest regarding an unauthorized construction on the Hakmana Road in Matara and the Panadura UC was brought before the Commission in regard to filling and construction of land in a manner that flooded surrounding areas. Included also, was an order handed down in relation to an information request filed by a public servant in regard to obtaining details of her alleged victimization by her employer.   
Several other matters have also been listed for hearing. Among these are two RTI appeals filed by a non-governmental organization Transparency International, Sri Lanka, regarding the assets declarations of the President and the Prime Minister.   
Following the hearings of the Commission attended by the appellant and the respondent Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Additional Secretary (Legal) to the President, the Commission has listed the matter for the consideration of two preliminary questions of law. These relate to TISL failing to specify the fact of its membership coming within the definition of ‘a citizen’ in the initial information request to the Public Authority. Section 3 (1) of the RTI Act states that “Subject to the provisions of Section 5 of this Act, every citizen shall have a right of access to information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority.” Section 43 defines a ‘citizen’ as
“a body whether incorporated or unincorporated, if not less than three-fourths of the members of such body are citizens.” The Rules of the Commission gazetted in February 2017 state that the requirements in RTI 01 form which is the information request format can be submitted even on a blank sheet of paper but must contain the necessary details in accordance with the RTI Act.    

Are Sirisena – Wijedasa such fools and obtuse ? asks Dr. Bahu (Video)


LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -21.June.2017, 11.30PM)   Dr.  Wickremabahu who made a huge contribution and worked indefatigably to steer the good governance  government to victory, speaking in relation  to the issue involving lawyer Lakshan Dias asked , ‘are president Maithripala Sirisena and Wijedasa Rajapakse such fools  and obtuse?

Dr. Wikremabahu was forced to ask this pertinent question , because even after a valid comprehensive report on the  insult and harassment inflicted on the Christian Evangelicans  was handed over to the president , the latter without taking the trouble to read it , has taken pains only to inquire about it and its correctness  from Rev. Cardinal a Christian representative of the holy Pope , when it is an obvious fact  they are opposed to the Evangelicans.
Dr. Wickremebahu rightly compared this moronic inquiry of the president with what took place during the period of Jesus Christ when the Roman ruler inquired about Jesus whether he was right or wrong from the very priests who were  against Jesus at that time . Of course the Roman ruler at least washed his hands off by  relying on that ‘justice’, whereas Wijedasa on the  other hand  , even without washing his own  blood stained hands is seeking to stain and splash the government with that cruel blood by trying to ‘crucify’ Lakshan the lawyer who spoke the truth, Dr. Wickremabahu bemoaned.

This is a gross betrayal of the very democratic struggle in general  that was waged to elect the government of good governance into power , and therefore it is hoped the UNP leader will come forward against this betrayal , Dr. Bahu said.  While Dr. Bahu is raising a hue and cry here against political opportunist Wijedasa best known as a  turncoat cum cutthroat  and Maithripala Sirisena , a number of local and foreign organizations for freedom and human rights have also  roundly condemned the double speak , double faced betrayals and shameless hypocrisy of Wijedasa Rajapakse who has so far as a minister of the very ruling government best succeeded only in proving  he is a rare chameleon in human appearance that can take even the form of a snake under the grass , and   a worst failure  when it comes to  performance of his ministerial duties for which he was actually appointed assuming he is a man with human qualities .
It is the Human Rights Watch which is leading the campaign of the local and foreign organizations that are condemning Wijedasa.  It is well to recall it was Human Rights Watch organization  that directly and vociferously raised its concerns and opposition against the brutal corrupt Rajapakse regime during its despotic reign. 
The video footage of Dr. Wickremebahu’s special statement is hereunder 
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by     (2017-06-22 13:42:20)

Arrogant, foolish attempt to deny persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka

Open letter to Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha PC Minister of Justice



 

I was shocked and outraged to see a video news clip in which you sought to deny the numerous incidents involving the harassment of Christians in this country in recent times while crudely condemning a reputable lawyer who had brought the relevant facts to light threatening to have him removed from the bar. Your arrogant and emotive reaction reflects a deplorable ignorance about the facts pertaining to Christian persecution in the country if not a deliberate attempt to subvert them on the principle that the shame and embarrassment accompanying the revelation of the truth is more important than the truth itself – which therefore must be covered up.

It is clear that your ill conceived remarks derive from a pronounced Buddhist bias. It shows that you know nothing of Christianity. It would seem that you are quite ignorant about the definition of a ‘Christian’ in a plural society and utterly misinformed about what constitutes the Christian Church. In this the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation ( which you have probably not even heard of ! ) where roughly half the Christians in the world are non Roman Catholic you seem oblivious to the existence of Christian denominations outside the Roman Church. Your equating Christianity with the Roman Church imagining that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit can be a spokesman for Christians in Sri Lanka is on par with the naivety of a first year law student !

Moreover as a Buddhist politician preoccupied with your own political agenda you are obviously unaware of trends in the Christian Church where Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit has become a controversial figure even within the Roman Catholic denomination , who having betrayed the faith by his religious pluralism and open hostility to evangelical Christians, is consequently deeply distrusted amongst Christians many of whom would not even consider him to be a Christian from a strictly Biblical perspective.

In this connection I am annexing herewith a copy of my recent paper " Cardinal Sin" which was a response to some previous remarks by the Cardinal. I hope the contents might prove instructive enabling you to appreciate the genuinely Christian position, leading to a more balanced and guarded view of this controversial priest without being deluded by pompous ecclesiastical rank and title into giving his opinions more credence than they deserve, thereby compromising your own reputation and bringing the government into disrepute.

Otherwise I have myself been maintaining a dossier (now running into nearly 100 pages ! ) of attacks against Christians in various parts of the country from 2002 - 2017 based on the information supplied by a balanced and responsible Christian organisation. According to my records there have been hundreds of incidents where Christian priests, pastors, workers and worshippers have been harassed during this period. Such incidents ( now receiving global publicity ) have included arson, death threats, obstruction of burials, destructive attacks on places of worship, disruption of worship, home invasions, stoning, assault, verbal abuse, mob attacks, threat of acid attack, police intimidation and inaction, and other disgraceful forms of harassment humiliation and interference with religious freedom. Given this dismal history current reports of some 195 incidents since 2015 are entirely plausible.

That you should be skeptical about such revelations reflects a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes a Church. Contrary to your preconceived notions Jesus said " for where two or three are gathered in my name there am I among them". However small the gathering of worshippers whatever the premises or location in which they assemble – that is a Church. Any interference with such a group of worshippers is an assault on the Christian Church. That is the bottom line.

If you really cared about the good name of Buddhism or had even a minimal commitment to the stated ‘vision’ of the Ministry of Justice you would be outraged by the contempt for the rule of law shown by the rowdy monks and their supporters who harass Christians. You would weep at the grotesque violation of the basic tenets of Buddhism by fanatics and hooligans whose aggression is a standing denial of the pure dhamma.

Instead your angry intolerant and peevish reaction with its echoes of the metaphor "shooting the messenger" instead of acting on the message, is unbecoming of the high traditions of dignity and independence one expects from your office. But then perhaps we should not be surprised that a legal establishment that has seemingly been so inept and relatively recalcitrant in bringing those in the ‘previous regime’ who have committed monumental crimes and misdemeanors to justice - should be so indifferent when mere Christians are getting a beating at this time !

Professor A.N.I Ekanayaka

Emeritus Professor, University of Peradeniya

A Conspiracy Theory: Tread With Extreme Caution Sri Lanka


Chrishmal Warnasuriya
The first lessons taught to any student of the science of politics almost invariably includes a reference to the 16th century Florentine philosopher Machiavelli and his celebrated thesis, “the Prince“; where his principle line of argument revolves on the attainment of “power” as the means of securing all other political ends. In later years the French scientist Jean Bodin attributes a name to this, identifying it as “sovereign power” upon which all political authority vests, which in the subsequent century fellow Frenchman, lawyer and philosopher Baron Montesquieu further splits or “separates” into three units; as (a) Legislative (b) Executive and (c) Judicial sovereign power, upon which all governments are institutionalized. Coincidentally in one of his 17thcentury works the latter propounds that “there is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice”. Although in the subsequent century English law professors like Dicey postulate a theory (looking at their Monarchy and the power of the “Commons”) that elevates Parliament (or the Legislature) as the Supreme power of these three sovereign institutions, such a “supremacy” does not exist in a Constitutional Democracy like Sri Lanka; in our country the Constitution is supreme and we are all subject to the Rule of Law equally.
Now therefore the following must only be read, at least for the moment as a hypothesis, a possible scenario that may very well be one of many probable reasons as to why we are seeing, what we are seeing in our society at present; a theory only, not factually based on any real evidence that is in my possession but an attempt to explain this sudden resurgence of religious autonomy amongst many of us, identifying ourselves staunchly as Buddhists, Islamists or Christians and pointing fingers at other Sri Lankans not of that same religious persuasion; this is only an attempt to propound a theory as to why!
The Pursuit of “Political Power” in the World Today:
Retaining the above explanation of the science of political theory as a means of securing sovereign power in our minds, let us now assimilate as to how in the 21st century nations go about securing it. There is obviously what we see domestically (or the overt acts) such as a political party system or more preferably individual based campaigning as we see in the “new France” of “local persons” endemic to the domestic political fabric in competition at periodic elections (or the absence thereof, like here in Sri Lanka), resulting in a change of ruling regime or the continuation of an existing one; based upon who secures a majority will of the masses, which we may broadly define as a democracy.
However is it really that simple in today’s world? Is political victory at an election (or even otherwise) purely the result of Peoples majority will; that is it only the majority will of a nation-state that ends up securing its sovereign Executive or Legislative power? I should like to venture a theory that it is not.
Particularly in the present context of global trading and inter-dependant economies it would only be a naïve assumption that only the domestic will of a population ultimately decides a victory or defeat; what of massive party funding or the several global players that pump-in millions to every such election? Is there really no co-relation to the subsequent trade and commercial agreements that successive governments enter upon assuming political power with the process of such persons or party competing for such political office? What of “strategic interests” of the global powers (wherever they may emanate from), be it India, China or other such new economic powers or the more traditional “West” like European powers or the USA or even the former socialist bloc (with hardly any difference at present); do they really have no “interest” in who or which alliance attains or remains in power domestically?
If indeed we are to agree, that it would be naïve to assume that such “foreign interests” had no part to play in the assumption of political power in a country domestically, then we must also agree that such “forces” do not engage in the process directly, for fear of intimidating the concept of sovereignty or territorial integrity of free nation states (if we are truly so “free” – which in itself is a paradox, but best left for another discussion); then they must operate either through or against individuals or groups operating in the local political fabric with the masses, be they be political parties or individuals, religious groups or institutions or other such pressure groups like NGO’s or civil society organizations, through which or whom such “extra territorial interest” would try to attain their domestic political gain.
It is in this train of thought that I should like us to engage at this present juncture.
A fact – Sri Lanka has a majority Buddhist population:
When comparing the last available published information obtained from the internet (2012) based on the figures of Department of Census & Statistics to the figures of approximately a century ago (1911), the following facts emerge as to the demographic equation of our country in terms of religious ratios:
Accordingly the following facts are discernible in terms of the above demographic chart:

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OMP Amendment Bill passed unanimously in House
OMP Amendment Bill passed unanimously in House

2017-06-21

The Office of Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Amendment Bill was unanimously passed in Parliament today.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, presenting the Bill to the House, said it was being presented in line with an agreement the government had with the opposition to present it in Parliament prior to the establishment of the OMP.
“This institution is paramount in order to put an end to the issue pertaining to the disappearance of persons as soon as possible,” he said.
In response to a question raised by joint opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardene as to whether the members of the OMP had already been appointed, the PM said they would be appointed only after the Amendment is passed.
MP Namal Rajapaksa pointed out that the several clauses in Office of Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Bill will become defunct when the new Bill pertaining to forceful disappearances comes into effect.
JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said the amendment made yesterday would not guarantee that the government would expedite the establishment of the OMP.
Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said the Bill is essential in order to put to bed issues pertaining to disappearances that have been taking place for years.
TNA MP M A Sumanthiran pointed out that the LTTE too was culpable when it came to such disappearances and not just the security forces. (Yohan Perera)

Terrorizing students cruelly oblivious of dengue epidemic threat ruthlessly waste time on SAITM issue; hold Suvisiripaya hostage !



LEN logo(Lanka-e-News- 21.June.2017, 11.30PM)  While the Health ministry is taking every possible measure diligently to combat the dengue menace (which is tending to reach epidemic proportions)  for the benefit of the nation,  the  Inter University federation  council terrorizing students, an arm of the Peratugami party opposing SAITM ,selfishly oblivious of national concerns and interests , laid siege to   ‘Suvisiripaya’ , the building of the ministry  for several hours  , and caused damage to it. 
Mind you the monstrosity of the  students was so monumental that  they engaged in this terrorizing activity despite a court order issued against them to refrain from staging the demonstration in a manner that would incommode the public and /or causing  traffic congestion on the roads. 
This type of terrorizing anti social activity engaged in by immature students  (which weakness is exploited by anti national political parties to achieve their own selfish wicked  agendas )  during such a critical health situation in the country threatening the lives of every citizen , can only be compared with that of murderous terrorists storming into the defense ministry when a war is on , and holding the ministry building hostage.  
The latest cruelly  twisted demand of the contorted regressive minds of these terrorist students while the government has already offered a most reasonable solution to the SAITM issue is, SAITM shall be acquired by the government .
However the STF of the police and the anti riot squad which appeared on the scene had been able to release Suvisiripaya  from the  student terrorists , after tear gassing and baton charging as a last step . Ten misguided Peratugami students who sustained injuries were hospitalized, according to reports.  
A spokesman said , the damage caused to Suvisiripaya has still not been assessed.
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by     (2017-06-22 22:59:11)

What about our struggles?


Friday, June 23, 2017 
Thousands of patients seeking treatment at Government hospitals were stranded as the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) launched a strike against the attack on university students protesting on Wednesday. The GMOA strike came in the wake of an unprecedented surge in dengue cases reported from many districts. Picture shows patients waiting at the Anuradhapura Teaching hospital.
Picture by Amila Prabath Wanasinghe Anuradhapura Central Correspondent.

Health Ministry property damaged

Health Ministry property damaged

Jun 22, 2017

Photographs show the damages done to the properties
 
by a group of University Students, who entered the Health Ministry during a protest held yesterday  in Colombo.

Health Minister threatens to deliver bitter medicine to striking docs


article_image
Kamal Bogoda captured above scenes at the National Hospital yesterday morning

By Dilanthi Jayamanne-

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne yesterday warned that the government was prepared to take drastic action against the continuous strike launched by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).

Addressing the media at the Government Information Department, following Wednesday’s (21) incident, where undergraduates walked into the Health Ministry premises, Dr Senaratne flayed the GMOA for having resorted to a strike in protest against police action.

It was wrong for doctors to strike at a time the country was faced with a serious dengue epidemic situation, Minister Senaratne said. They were not fit to be called doctors, he added.

Commenting on Wednesday’s incident, Dr Senaratne said it had taken place on his public day. Planning for dengue control strategies were also being discussed at that time. Chairman of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) Prof. Carlo Fonseka had been scheduled to hand over documents on the proposed recommendations for minimal standards for medical education later that evening. But, all that had been disrupted by the incident at the Ministry, he said.

Dr. Senaratrne accused the Front Line Socialist Party and the Inter University Student Federation of being involved in the incident while the GMOA, too, had been prepared to resort to a strike in support of the protesters. "The irony is that those who attacked us were forced to seek the services of one of our hospitals subsequently when the police took action against their unruly behaviour," he said.

The Minister warned that the police would take necessary action against those responsible for the destruction of state property. The damage to vehicles alone amounted to over several million rupees. Estimates were still being prepared, he said.

Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa said steps had been taken to evacuate the employees of the Ministry when the incident occurred for their safety. Certain employees had been manhandled by the protesters and Ministry property destroyed, he added.

Acting Director General Health Services Dr. Sunil de Alwis said the incident was the most unpleasant one which he had faced during his 27 years of service at the Ministry.

On political lone wolves


 2017-06-23
In politics there are degrees of expedience, of imperative, of loyalty, of friendships that sour and enmities that are forgotten. Nothing is cast in stone, which is why no one can be counted on as a permanent ally or foe. Picking on parties and individuals has naturally become a political necessity. Not just a necessity, but a necessary frill.  
The truth is that Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, whose critique of Gotabaya Rajapaksa while the latter was in power years ago has resurfaced on social media, has changed. The truth is that he’s not the only commentator bearing similar credentials and beliefs who has changed. The Joint Opposition is chock-a-bloc with those who affirm Sinhala Buddhist monoliths, multicultural monoliths, federalism and chauvinism. These faces were different while the man they supported was in power. They were different then because when the man you support is in power, you tend to push for your beliefs and diverge from his. Now that he is not in power, they have skewed those beliefs, or set them aside, until directly or through a proxy he does return to power.  
My point is that both the government and Joint Opposition are operating on flawed premises. The government has made itself out as an anti-racist, anti-majoritarian coalition. The Joint Opposition has made itself out as the obverse of it. The tragedy here is that these stances (some laudable, others not) are being denied by their own representatives. So you have a policy of anti-racism by the government being subverted by the alleged racism of some of those who head that same government.  
No less a figure than our president, let’s not forget, was touted as the panacea for the primitive traditionalism of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. That this was only make-believe transpired much later. It transpired when the President condemned the organisers of a concert with the threat of a rather archaic punishment. It transpired when he openly condemned those who were investigating members of the armed forces. And it transpired when those who headed the many outfits formed prior and consequent to his election (to mention just one of them, Sarath Wijesuriya) began clashing with the same majoritarianism they had combated in the previous regime.  

"The values those who hedge their bets on Gotabaya stand for are patently Dayan’s as well. Dayan is against any intrusions made by external players on our country’s sovereignty."


Dayan Jayatilleka is the ideological counterpoint to the majoritarianism echoed by the Joint Opposition. He is to it what the likes of Sarath Wijesuriya are to the government, with a caveat: the government is essentially two-faced, maintaining one in front of the people (reminding them that the armed forces will not be witch-hunted) and another in front of the international community (reminding them that certain elements in those forces will be tried in court). The Joint Opposition on the other hand, is chauvinist, by which I am not condemning them: after all there are degrees of chauvinism and when compared to certain individuals who condemn them, those who house the JO are saints. Which, incidentally, is what makes Dayan’s dilemma even more poignant.  
The ideological founders of the movement that birthed Mahinda Rajapaksa were if I may put it, Nalin de Silva and Gunadasa Amarasekera. They were combating Tamil chauvinism in the seventies and eighties when the likes of Dayan were condemning Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. They were behind the Jathika Chinthanaya, which tried to find a figure to continue Anagarika Dharmapala’s national revivalist programme. Dharmapala had been succeeded, rather paradoxically and incompletely, by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. The Jathika Chinthanaya’s attempts to legitimise a more cohesive successor in that respect culminated, I believe, in 2005, when Chandrika Kumaratunga was ousted and Mahinda Rajapaksa became president. But I’m digressing here.  
Chandrika Kumaratunga in a speech on S.J.V. Chelvanayakam argued that Dayan’s current position(s) on power sharing couldn’t be squared with his appointment as a minister in the Vadarajah Perumal North-East Provincial Council. That is true. (Not that she was any better at sticking to rhetoric, of course.) But this is only half the story: the other half, I believe, can be gleaned from perusing his background.  
Dayan Jayatilleka was born to a largely cosmopolitan society and intelligentsia. His father, one of the finest prose stylists of his time had attended what the son later pointed out as the three most powerful ideological apparatuses of modern Sri Lanka: Royal College, Peradeniya University and Lake House. One of Dayan’s most enduring qualities is his penchant for types as opposed to absolutes, a legacy of his education in political science, which led him to describe his upbringing as follows:  
My parents read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me at bedtime, but my maternal grandmother from Moratuwa told me stories in Sinhala and was the only one to do so. She related Martin Wickramasinghe’s story “Rohini” to me. It is a romantic martial tale set within the Dutugemunu saga. She couldn’t have been a Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist. She was a Catholic, originally from Nuwara Eliya, married to a highly literate Buddhist from Panadura.
At a time when lesser intellectuals were making the waves lambasting Sinhala Buddhism and affirming Tamil separatism, he stood out by opposing both. He made his political presence known to us most vividly in the eighties, and for better or worse, his subsequent political stints have been measured against what he did back then. He was active at a time when Gorbachev was preaching the gospel of glasnost, when Castro was moving away from the Soviet Union and when Communism was collapsing everywhere. It was a period of change. Change at all costs.  

His most virulent critic, who happens to be a mentor of sorts to me, was at one point Malinda Seneviratne. Like Dayan’s father, Malinda was nurtured in those aforementioned three institutions. Like Dayan’s father, Malinda rejected the right-wing, elitist ethos of those institutions and became a nationalist. But there’s never just one kind of nationalism: there are nationalisms, so soon enough we saw Dayan and Malinda fighting via newspaper columns despite the fact that both were opposed to the government over its handling of the war. Consequently, no one batted or bowled for them: the “intellectuals” were opposed to both since they were “nationalists”, so they enjoyed the fires they were igniting against each other.  
Today Malinda and Dayan are on the same plane, though only barely. But I think it’s a mistake to vilify the latter with the same criterion the “intellectuals” use to vilify the former. Malinda never batted for anyone. People despised him because he had the guts to call out those opposed to Rajapaksa without supporting him explicitly, something he does even today. Dayan, on the other hand, is despised because he believes in the lesser of the two evils, an argument Malinda does not subscribe to at all, and because, for him, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is that lesser evil today.  
The values those who hedge their bets on Gotabaya stand for are patently Dayan’s as well. Dayan is against any intrusions made by external players on our country’s sovereignty. He is also a moderate federalist, one who believes in the ideals but not the substance of the arguments of those who bat for the 13th Amendment. To hardcore nationalists, particularly to those responsible for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political ascent, he is an outsider. Despite this, however, I believe their idealisation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not too different to Dayan’s: both see in him an administrator who can save us. At the end of the day, the success or failure of Project Gotabaya will depend on how these two camps come together by 2020. And I think much of the task to convince the two of Gotabaya’s political veracity has been left to Dayan.  
It’s no surprise that in his support for Rajapaksa, Dayan attracts more flak than Malinda, Nalin de Silva, and Gunadasa Amarasekera. That’s to be expected: all these people have been attracting flak ever since they went active, even Dayan. The latter’s support of a political figure that is incongruent with his wider political beliefs, however, is recent. In politics the recent more than the old, always sells. So Dayan, who I daresay has become the most significant political commentator of our time in Sri Lanka (something none of those intellectuals who rail against him can equal), will be at the receiving end of even more anger as the days and months progress.  
He therefore remains a lone wolf. But then, we all are. Perhaps that is enough to cut him some slack. I wouldn’t know. All I know and all that everyone who rails against him knows, is that the man can prevail. “Dayan wins battles but loses wars” was how someone summed him up. Maybe the battle hasn’t ended. Maybe the war is yet to come. Again, I wouldn’t know. And I wouldn’t want to know. At least, not yet.




Thursday, 22 June 2017

Untitled-2logoThe dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with the promise of further human advancement. And yet, while humanity should be aspiring for a better life, disturbing events like the terrorist attacks in Manchester, London, and the Philippines, and the recent white phosphorus attack in Raqqa, Syria, point to humanity’s burial of its own journey toward a better world.

The 17th century philosopher Pascal rightly explained, “Humanity is great, because it knows itself to be wretched.” Is there then, with advance human intellect, still hope of creating a better world and preventing or minimising the loss of human life? Machiavelli (The Prince, Chapter III) has said, “It is necessary not only to pay attention to immediate crisis, but to foresee those that will come and to make every effort to prevent them.”

In Sri Lanka, this year, over 200 lives were lost and half a million affected from the torrential rainfall that caused floods and landslides; it was the same cycle of rain with a different magnitude than last year. The nation’s vulnerability to such natural disasters in the near future and years ahead should be taken into highest consideration. The attitude of a reactive response to crisis situations should change.

A proactive methodology designed to minimise casualties should be considered. When asked about the vision for 2050, the 100 ministries within Sri Lanka and the newly created ones, indicate vagueness and uncertainty.

Sri Lanka’s future will depend on the choices that are created today for a better tomorrow. For this, it is important to question the reference template used to make such choices – is it outdated or still a relevant template? For example, in the last budget, the Sri Lankan government increased taxes of electric vehicles.

However, at the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, the President pledged to the sustainability project, followed by supporting remarks by the Prime Minister in New York. This is a relevant template. The question then is how to bridge the gaps in policymaking?

Sri Lanka could play a significant role in the next few decades due to pivotal geo-strategic positioning. Therefore, it is very important to identify and discuss the national challenges for the next 25 to 50 years, and even beyond. Demographic shifts, urbanisation, population ratios and the challenges that Sri Lanka could face from within and from outside powers are some salients to be considered.

For this there is a need to prepare foresight maps for the nation, its institutions and ministries for a long-term 50 year time horizon and with correct methodology, so that the nation can be easily steered from regime to regime and mandates could be identified in a scientific method. This does not happen in Sri Lanka at present.

In Sri Lanka, ministries have been connected and the Government claims that this has been done scientifically. For instance, Education and Highways have been clubbed; similarly, Finance and Media have been clubbed. There is no connection among the subject areas of these ‘scientifically’ clubbed ministries. Additionally, the ministries› mandates are spread in an ad hoc manner. Sometimes they overlap or duplicate the process. When institutes are created or reset this way, they lose their strategic direction and focus.

It appears that the quality of governance has been replaced by quantity. In a country, the grand strategy is spelled out by its leaders and the strategy has to be adjusted justifiably to accommodate changes in the context. If it cannot be justified, the government should not create new entities that will burden its budget and could even derail the grand vision.

As per to the Millennium Project, “The decision support software and foresight systems are constantly improving: for example, big data analytics, simulations, collective intelligence systems, indexes and e-governance participatory systems.” Integrating foresight systems to a society is a priority and many governments have already included it years ago. In 2016, the Sri Lanka Foresight Initiative was launched by this author with the Millennium Project which operates in over 60 countries to improve policymaking and strategic narrative on key priority areas by engaging government and all others in important stakeholders in the society.

Unfortunately since its launch in May 2016, till now there has not been a single inquiry or request to implement this methodology. The powerful Delphi platform that is used has benefited many countries and the Sri Lankan Millennium Node could visit ministries and institutes and assist and train the officers to develop the foresight map.

According to futurist Dr. Puruesh Chaudhary who operates the Pakistan node for Millennium Project, “Futures thinking facilitate the process of institutionalised decisions amongst the leadership corridors improving learning faculty and increases the quality of policy inputs and strategic outcomes.” She eloquently explains the importance of inculcating future study to government policy making in her latest book ‹The Big Idea: Next Generation of Leadership in Pakistan needs a ‹New-Think’.

For a country like Sri Lanka which aspires to be the ‘Miracle’ or ‘Wonder of Asia’, its leaders should craft the foresight map that takes the country to the aspired destination.

[Views expressed here are personal and do not reflect those of the Government of Sri Lanka or the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS). Asanga Abeyagoonasekera is a visiting lecturer at Colombo University and the Director General of INSSSL the National Security think tank of Sri Lanka, this article was initially published by the IPCS, New Delhi for ‘Dateline Colombo’ http://www.ipcs.org/article/south-asia/crisis-and-foresight-analysis-5302.html.]