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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

PTA needs to be repealed - TNA leader tells EU official


Home23Jan 2018
The leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R Sampanthan on Tuesday stressed the need for the Prevention of Terrorism Act to be repealed in a meeting with a representative of the EU to Sri Lanka. 
Mr Sampanthan stressed that the repeal of the PTA was a commitment made by the Sri Lankan government to the international community, and specifically the EU, however the government had failed to deliver on it. He also called for those those detained indefinitely under the PTA to have their cases processed. 
Highlighting the military's ongoing occupation of private land in the North-East, Mr Sampanthan also drew attention to the plight of Tamils who remain displaced over 8 years after the end of the armed conflict. 
Mr Sampanthan also told the visiting EU official of the anguish of families who continue to demonstrate seeking answers regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones who were disappeared. 

Statement issued by Women Action Network (WAN) on attacks on women candidates Women at war Violence against women is a key factor in preventing their political participation

2018-01-24
A woman candidate who was involved in election campaign activities in the Wellawaya area of Moneragala District has been admitted to the hospital in a serious condition after she was brutally attacked.
In Selvanagar, Arayampathy in the Eastern Province, a woman candidate’s house was attacked.
A woman candidate in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of Mullaithivu District has been physically assaulted, kept locked in a house, and threatened to withdraw the complaint she made to the Police.
Women candidates in Puttalam and other districts have been verbally humiliated by religious leaders and their families and have been subjected to revolting comments.
A woman candidate in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of Mullaithivu District has been physically assaulted, kept locked in a house, and threatened to withdraw the complaint...
Vulgar comments on women candidates and disgusting opinions on their race and religion are increasingly being shared in social networks and circulated leaflets.
The above mentioned are some of the most recent news reports of violent acts against woman candidates who are contesting in the upcoming Local Government elections. Apart from these, many incidents of physical and psychological assault on woman candidates that have not been reported to the police or the Elections Commission are being reported through women’s organisations and activists.
Women are subjected to more criminal incidents than men during elections, most of which are referred to as violence against women in elections. Such violent incidents can be defined as follows:
The threat of harm or harm against women during the election period that are intended to cause confusion or impact on the independent and equal roles of women in the electoral process. 
These include harassment, intimidation, physical harm, coercion, threats and financial pressures. Moreover, they can be made in private places or public places.
Women candidates in Puttalam and other districts have been verbally humiliated by religious leaders and their families and have been subjected to revolting comments.
Election violence becomes a violent act against women when the time of the incident is related to the electoral circulation (e.g. Planning for elections, preparing for election, election campaign) and when it is aimed at a woman candidate, voter, Elections Commission member, etc because she is a woman.
Thus, all the above incidents fall into both gender-based violence and political violence categories. Such instances are doubly damaging because they harm the individual and undermine a peaceful democracy in Sri Lanka. Women continue to be subjected to subtle, silent, and hidden forms of violence, and as such these violent acts violate their rights and negatively affect the credibility of the election.
In 2016, a 25 percent mandatory quota for women in Sri Lankan local Government was passed into law.
This creates the possibility of a minimum number of 1,991 women from 341 local councils becoming locally elected members. The mixed electoral system introduced through the Local Authorities Elections Act mandates that 10% of ward nominations and 50% of the proportional list in the nomination paper submitted by a political party or an independent group should be allocated to women.
In post-war Sri Lanka, especially in the North and East, ..women are engaging in this election with great enthusiasm ..as usual, the patriarchal political community and religious groups are trying to nullify their political contribution by subjecting them to violence.
Otherwise the nomination will be rejected. The number of members elected to 341 local councils, including 24 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 276 Pradeshiya Sabhas, are 8356 members. Although 52 per cent of the total population in Sri Lanka are women, so far, their representation is 5.3 per cent in parliament, 4 per cent in provincial councils, and 1.9 per cent in local councils.
Violence against women is a key factor in preventing their political participation. Ethnic, religious, and cultural barriers, along with structural violence, persecution, sexual bribery, physical assault, threats to family members, financial pressures, warnings and threats from religious heads, vandalized media reports, humiliation in social networks, and open public challenges from people with patriarchal attitudes are what prevent women from participating in politics.
In post-war Sri Lanka, especially in the North and East minority community, women are engaging in this election with great enthusiasm. However, as usual, the patriarchal political community and religious groups are trying to nullify their political contribution by subjecting them to violence.
While taking other countries, especially post-war societies into account, we observe that the political role of women is problematic and unacceptable. In our country where similar conditions prevail, we should be ready to face any obstacle in our way with the help of the law and the society and should never allow gender, race, religion, caste, and party-based discriminations to limit our progress and political participation.
Important to focus on the representation of women to take the lead in such a society. (…) We need not only to bring patriarchal but also matriarchal values...
Video clips of Moulavis Niyas Siddiqi Siraj and Murshid Abbasi verbally attacking Muslim woman candidates and their family members in a disgusting manner for their recent campaign speeches in Puttalam have gone viral in social media. The Moulavis preached their own opinions, for example, ‘Men can never be administered by women.’, and ‘Women are only for performing household duties and to look after their husbands and children,’ They cast these as teachings from Quran in their degrading speeches and used words that violate human dignity such as, ‘Husbands and family members of these woman candidates should be ashamed of them.’
It is a painful and problematic fact that so far, none of the political parties these woman candidates belong to, the police who are responsible to uphold the law, the Elections Commission, or any political party leaders have condemned the open, public, and disgusting hate speech towards woman candidates or verbal and psychological violence by men with religious and political backgrounds towards them. Their silence makes one question whether women’s participation in politics is truly welcomed, or merely a formal act.
In November 2017, President Maithripala Sirisena launched a national campaign to strengthen women’s participation titled ‘Women for Change’.
Speaking at the launch, the President said: “In order to establish a better country, better society, and to establish a society with love, compassion and moral values, it is important to focus on the representation of women to take the lead in such a society. (…) We need not only to bring patriarchal but also matriarchal values, ideas and concepts, suggestions to create an ideal society.”
Nevertheless, women candidates have been subjected to different kinds of violence and the religious leaders and politicians acting in a way that affects their family’s honor has created a situation where women cannot play their part in politics with freedom and self-respect.
“Complete electoral safety goes beyond physical and armed violence. It means creating an environment in which all individuals could use their political rights freely and justly. The Women Action Network reiterates that the 25 percent mandatory quota for women in local Government should not only be nominal. It must be an obligation for the present Government, the President, and the electoral structures.

**WAN is a network of eight women organisations operating in the North and East.

Facts Of Operation Kill Lasantha

author: COLOMBO TELEGRAPHJanuary 24, 2018

imageThe Criminal Investigations Department which took over the investigations into the Lasantha Wickremetunge murder after the Yahapalanaya government came into power has uncovered four deaths connected with the incident. When the case came up before Mt Lavinia Magistrate last week, the CID reporting facts to Court stated that the cover up had commenced from the inception by the Mt Lavinia Police and the TID. Coupled with the erroneous finding by the Doctor who performed the initial post-mortem, the stage was set to blindside the real cause of death, and where the perpetrators came from.
Investigations have now clearly shown that it was an Army Intelligence Unit operating stealthily from the old Manning Market premises were responsible for the killing of the intrepid Editor of The Sunday Leader in 2009. Witnesses have made statements to the CID that motor cyclists dressed in black and helmets to cover facial recognition waylaid Lasantha Wickremetunge on his way to work. A second post mortem has reversed the original finding as to the cause of death.

Pitchai Jesudasan, a garage mechanic from Nuwara Eliya was arrested and remanded as it was his National Identity Card that was used to obtain the five SIM cards used by the Army Intelligence to communicate with each other in Operation Kill Lasantha. Evidence of Jesudasan led to the arrest of Kandegedara Piyawansa an Army Intelligence officer who had imbibed the mechanic with alcohol to take away his ID card. Both were in remand for a considerable period where Jesudasan died inside the prison and Piyawansa was set free to resume work in his previous unit, promoted and back wages paid. Death number one.

The government of Rajapaksa’s was over and the CID following up on leads in addition to unravelling the knots that were placed by the first investigations followed up on the motor cycle that was dumped in Attidiya marsh, found by Mt Lavinia Inspector on an anonymous tip off during Rajapksa regime said to be one that was used in the operation Kill Lasantha led to interesting findings. The motorcycle was traced to an owner in the troubled North. Further investigations uncovered a gory picture. Two young tamil youth had gone missing from the North and their parents were frantic in their search. They were last seen riding a motor bike along which path the search continued. The parents did find a wayside kiosk owner who said two youth riding a motorbike were stopped by persons in a Defender jeep and hustled into it along with the motorbike and driven away coinciding with the time that the boys had gone missing. The CID had heard that there were two unidentified, charred bodies found by Police in Anuradhapura some time ago and DNA tests proved that they were the two lads who had gone missing riding the motorbike found subsequently dumped in the Attidiya marsh. Deaths number two and three.

This was followed by the suicide of another ex Army Intelligence officer Ilandarige Jayamanne from Kegalle. Jayamanne. The retired Army Intelligence Officer hung himself leaving a note taking responsibility to the murder of Lasantha. Subsequent investigations by the CID revealed that Jayamanne was in Kegalle on the day that Lasantha was murdered. Interestingly his suicide note also exonerated Malinda Udalagama, another Army Intelligence officer who had been questioned by the CID, identified by Lasantha’s former driver, as one who had been loitering around the late Editors house in addition to Upali Tennekoon, former Editor of Rivira (who too was attacked) also identifying him as one of the assailants. Jayamanne had visited some Army camps just prior to his suicide. Death number four.
 
Considering the available evidence the common factor that binds the story of Lasantha Wickremetunge’s murder, is the Army Intelligence. Why would the Army Intelligence wish to kill Lasantha? Why would they want to give it an LTTE connection? Why was the initial investigation taken out of the CID and handed over to TID under DIG Wakista, a known Rajapaksa acolyte? Who gave that order? Why was the motor cycle ridden by the two murdered Tamil youth dumped in Attidiya? Did the Army Intelligence Officers mentioned above know Lasantha? The telephone records reveal an interesting tale. Not one call leads to the commonly accused suspect who wore a uniform during the time.

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Mothers of the disappeared continue their protest in Vavuniya


Home23Jan 2018
Mothers of the disappeared in Vavuniya on Tuesday continued their protest calling on the government to provide answers on the whereabouts of their missing loved ones. 
The protesters, who have been demonstration for over 330 days, expressed their frustration at the government's failure to deliver on promises. 
 

Yahapalanaya dogged by tit-for-tat mudslinging


2018-01-23
Elections in this country are acrimonious. And it does not take an astrologer to predict that the unity government would never be the same if the current trend of mutual recrimination continues. As if recent verbal barbs directed against each other by the lower-rungs of the two main constituent parties of the government are not good enough, President Maithripala Sirisena himself has joined the fray. 

He told an election rally early this week that the economy would no longer be under the UNP and be handled by a national economic council headed by the president himself after the local government elections. That council though was actually set up in July this year by the President who in a cabinet note proposed that it be functioned as ‘an advisory body on economic policy in the country in order to further strengthen policy coherence in the present consensus government, harness the existing talent of this country for national development and to meet the need for such a national body under the head of the Government in the Presidential Secretariat.’ “The National Economic Council will be a professionally-managed, high-level, national advisory institution reporting directly to the President of Sri Lanka. This body will consist of various divisions in charge of key economic areas related to development plans and priorities of the Government. The NEC will make recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers on economic policy,” he said in the note.    
He told an election rally early this week that the economy would no longer be under the UNP and be handled by a national economic council headed by the president himself after the local government elections
Its first meeting was held on September 12th at the Presidential Secretariat presided over by the President himself. The president will have to invent the time travel to do it again.   

In the election rally in Kegalle, the President said: “During the past three years, I allowed the UNP to manage the economy. Still people are faced with economic hardships. From this year, I will take the economic management under me to grant people relief,” he said.   

The President is faced with the same dilemma akin to the one confronted by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor’s former constituent partners, Social Democrats, whose party leadership understands quite well that an alliance with Ms Markel is the national imperative, but the party’s grassroots want to part ways.   

The president knows well that the continuation of the current status of the unity government, and economic sanity achieved so far are the best possible way out of the current pressing problems – and to forward his promise of democratic reforms. But, the types of people who fill up those election rallies want to see the blood. Politicians have to live up to their expectations.    
That they acted against an earlier understanding between the UNP and the SLFP to avoid mud-slinging at each other may not necessarily be because party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was lacking control. Perhaps they acted with his connivance
Though one cannot be blamed for playing to the gallery in Sri Lankan politics, overdoing it could do national harm. The UNP kicked off the whole affair of mutual recrimination. Not happy that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the bond scam has called the scam a scam, and also aggrieved that the President choose to make the commission report public, some of the UNP MPs went on a cheap political offensive against the president. 

That they acted against an earlier understanding between the UNP and the SLFP to avoid mud-slinging at each other may not necessarily be because party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was lacking control. Perhaps they acted with his connivance. Last week, in an ill-advised and below-the-belt attack, UNP MP S.M. Marikkar demeaned the president in a political rally in Colombo. He said, “The president had let down former president Mahinda Rajapaksa after partaking in a hopper meal with him... The President accused us of being thieves. We call him the pickpocket President. We are asking him not to back-stab the UNP like what he did to Mahinda Rajapaksa. He called us pickpocket ‘karayas’. Yes we are pick pocket karayas, but the President should not forget that we pick-pocketed him out of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s pocket. He should not forget that it was the UNP which made him the President. He is a pickpocket President.” (Mr. Marikkar later claimed he was misquoted by the media)   
The President has since shifted gears; he stormed out of a Cabinet meeting and his remarks in election stages are becoming less conciliatory towards the UNP
The President has since shifted gears; he stormed out of a Cabinet meeting and his remarks in election stages are becoming less conciliatory towards the UNP. If the decline continues, other members will join the fray and it would soon become an all-out dog fight. Rancor of the election campaign will outlast the election, and threaten the future of the UNP-SLFP cohabitation. Media tend to predict the collapse of the unity government. That would be news and news sells the papers. Public also like sound-bites and gossip. Sri Lankan voters themselves have rarely voted for growth and prosperity. Sri Lanka’s social and political structures which enable a higher rate of political mobilization in a system of lower social and economic achievement, tend to promote more confrontation than cooperation. Set against that backdrop, the three years of the unity government itself is an achievement. Political stability and a sound pro-growth economic policy matters to the country more than most other earthly premises. Crashing that prospect down, knowingly or unknowingly by playing to the gallery is shame.   

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LG elections– missing the wood for the trees?


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by DR. UPATISSA PETHIYAGODA

The electronic and print media are so full of Election Noise that we are in danger of missing the essence. When the Thirteenth Amendment that led to the establishment of Provincial Councils was adopted, enthusiasts hailed it as a triumph of decentralization, a resuscitation of the Traditional Gramarajya System, recognition of the principle of Subsidiarity and as a useful instrument of grooming for higher levels of Governance. Now, a quarter of a century along, the time is ripe to assess the degree to which these laudable goals have been met.

Sadly, the current Electoral Discourse is markedly deficient. Instead, the atmosphere is thick with trivialities – what are the party electoral symbols, who will align with whom, pre- or – post-election, who will cross-over and what Ministry will be created, how much is the going cost of Bribery, and such mundane trivialities which engulf us. No pause to question the major issues. For instance, what advantages have accrued from the electoral changes and whether divisive politics has relevance in local governance? What has been the return to investments from this costly exercise? These have remained astonishingly untouched. So much so that many may conclude their votes are useless, and so decide to remain aloof from a seemingly pointless and debased exercise. A low voter turnout may be the consequence of either view.

None have questioned whether what we really need is a "decentralization" (or devolution) of "responsibility" rather than of "power". Any who care to watch the "News Bulletins" on TV, cannot fail but be struck by the numerous tales of neglect of important amenities by local authorities, and the resulting need for private sector organizations to step into the breach. It may hopefully show that rural society can get by without Local Government intervention or a minimum of it. It is a salutary result that Private Sector Institutions, aided by individual generosity, can step in to galvanize beneficiary participation to fill the gap. It is no surprise that the massively expensive Local Government apparatus encounters public disdain.

Typical of our penchant for the irrelevant, there is obsession with the issue of alcohol sales and employment of women in liquor stores, while there is no evident interest in considering the issue of their 25% representation in nomination lists. It is obvious that the reckless increase in a single step is populist but stupid. Can one run before learning to walk? This necessary and important change to a healthy representation of women in the legislature should have been implemented in measured, progressive steps. The present irrational leap will only bring in a class of inadequately suited and uncommitted females, who will provide ample future ammunition for those opposed to the concept.

Seldom has an election been so complex and confusing – First Past the Post, Proportional Representation, gender issues and curtailment of canvassing gimmicks - all add to a very blurred picture for the voters – especially the more numerous and less sophisticated. Most distressing is the paradox of an exhortation to select the most suitable candidate, irrespective of Party. Not too easy with the cacophony of political meetings and non-availability of candidate lists! As far as I am concerned, the latter is treated as though it is confidential. I have seen none. Even if I had, in the absence of some kind of background information, pray how is am I expected to judge individual merit?. The election monitors have already discovered that a large number of those (promoted by their Party Leaders) either have a criminal record, or can be expected to acquire one.

Every evening, as I view the parade of insincerity, I am troubled by the sheer sadism – of a well fed, bloated podium, upon which gape the multitude of the hopeless and hopeful. Endless pontifications, and severe trivialization of all serious matters of governance, are a cruel travesty of a hapless citizenry. The harsh realities of rising costs, the incompetence in handling water, fertilizers, CKDU and Dengue are ignored in the delusions of promised rectitude and a distant Utopia. Is anyone concerned about the huge waste of time and resources expended on these exercises of futility? Is the maintenance of the futures of political parties or of the traitorous and self-centered incumbents thereof, any priorities of the people? The discourse on election platforms is overwhelmingly debilitating garbage, devoid of any useful essence.

With the impending elections, there is a torrent of switches of loyalty. Are these people ‘slow on the uptake’ or simply opportunists? These last minute defections are clearly motivated by self-interest or ingratitude. Having enjoyed the spoils of office for their entire tenancy, they will lead us to believe that this is bravery, rather than a betrayal. The term used commonly is "horse trading" – but as an incorrigible cynic declared – considering the quality and sterility of the traded commodities, it is better described as "mule trading".

Above the hollow spouting from election platforms, the ‘Political Analysts’ and ‘Political Scientists’ busily add to the cacophony. With ponderous profundity, they solemnly proclaim their analyses and predictions. It has been stated in a slightly different context that "………………….. .. spend 50% of their time predicting what will happen and the balance 50% explaining why what they predicted did not happen" . This about sums it up. Barometer of what is to come, as indicators for the future? Will coalitions continue? And such are largely disposable rubbish (to go into the "Perishable" bag of garbage). These are, at best, pleasant diversions for the idle or the pretended erudite.

An exhaustive account of the Local Government scenario figures in the article appearing in the last "Sunday Island"of 21 January, authored by Ms. Gnana Moonesinghe. The role of the elected member should be to facilitate the functioning of the State Services and Facilities within his/her area of representation. This must be facilitation, but without interference. This subtle distinction may escape many of the eventual representatives. The role of the Member in an orderly system,should be that of a benign supervisor of State institutional delivery of services to his constituents. For this purpose, the Political Party or affiliation is mostly irrelevancies; although one party has declared that they are aware of the proper role of Local Government. One wishes them well, in the expectation that they will honour their pledge.

Sri Lanka: Why do we need to talk about women’s drinking?

Humanity is created in and born from the womb of a woman. She deserves equality, respect and dignity to the same extent or even more than what men enjoy, not disrespect, discrimination and indignity.

by Chitra Bopage-
( January 23, 2018, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) That is the approach Australian authorities use in their health and safety messages to women.
There are some similarities in the way alcohol affects humans, both men and women; there are differences too. Drink the same amount of alcohol, yet the woman’s blood alcohol level will be almost always higher than that of a man. Yet, many women are in denial with regard to how alcohol affects their bodies. Nonetheless, this is not a concern limited to women only.
The above logic shows a much better approach for convincing women to stay away from alcohol, by their own choice as it is based on scientific evidence, rather than due to religious, moral or cultural reasons or by compulsions. In that light I confess to being almost a teetotaller. I am one by choice, not due to someone else’s compulsion or discrimination.
The argument of protecting Buddhist culture and the morality as raised by conservatives like the President of Sri Lanka and the argument that women drinking contributes to disintegration of family cohesion and social morality as raised by some ‘left leaders’ are not only dishonest but also hypocritical.
In a country where some politicians and bureaucrats appear to turn a blind eye, help and abet the sexual harassment of women and gang rapes; and where women candidates are attacked because they are afforded a quota system at the elections, could one expect from them anything other than protecting such archaic laws?
Is family and social cohesion only affected by women drinking? What about thousands of women suffering from being abused at the hands of drunken men? Does not that drunken behaviour of the men folk affect family and social cohesion? So why does the alcohol ban not also be relevant to men?
If women are prohibited from drinking on Buddhist moral grounds, then how can these so-called progressive leaders protest against any other nasty practices that other faiths are asking women to adhere by due to their social, cultural and moral norms, for example, from genital mutilation of women in Africa to many malpractices against women in the certain Islamic traditions? Or condemn the disturbing judicial fact that even in some ‘civilised’ countries, a man can rape his spouse?
Humanity is created in and born from the womb of a woman. She deserves equality, respect and dignity to the same extent or even more than what men enjoy, not disrespect, discrimination and indignity.
How can some leaders including those of the left support such misogyny?

Extraordinary Enticement of Executive Office

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.”
-William Pitt, the elder

2018-01-24
Now that the Supreme Court has made a determination on the referral by President Maithripala Sirisena as to whether his term of office is five years or six years, any ‘confusion’ that may have arisen in his mind must have been removed. The President was eager to reassure the people that it was merely to avoid any ‘confusion’ regarding the issue that the referral was made. Usually the President is not easily confused, going by his track record; rather an individual with both feet firmly on the ground, practical and obviously shrewd. It is therefore, all the more difficult to fathom what caused the ‘confusion’ about his term of office in the light of the 19th Amendment, introduced with his aegis by the good governance government.   


What caused the Confusion? 


It sounds odd, for a person whose first promise, to the Sri Lankan citizenry, in his historic speech after breaking ranks with the Rajapaksa regime, was that he would not contest for the presidency a second time. Queer indeed, for one who has no desire, or as we sinhalese put it, craving for the seat of the Executive Presidency to allow himself to be troubled by such ‘confusions’, culminating in a referral to the Supreme Court.   

Yet it was Socrates who said that weak minds were preoccupied with individuals and average ones with events while the truly brilliant minds pondered on concepts. So rather than being overtly concerned with the personality, words or actions of the President, let us see what makes those who hold the high office of Executive Presidency say and do things, which are queer, and totally contradictory to what they say before they are perched on that hot seat.   

The people of this beautiful isle do know by now that the enticement of absolute and unfettered power the seat of Executive Presidency holds for it’s occupier is simply boundless. To the extent that they would even shamelessly turn back on their promises to the whole nation, i.e. that they would do away with this constitutional leviathan. Chandrika Kumaratunge, Mahinda Rajapaksa and now Maithripala Sirisena have promised in no uncertain terms to do away with this system as their main election promise. Well, what happened with the two former Presidents is common knowledge.  What makes these otherwise respected and honoured personalities shamelessly and unethically break the promises? What makes them not only shun the mandate given in this regard but also try and perpetuate their hold on this all-powerful position, as the 18th amendment testifies? 

 
The Gyge’s Ring


As Basil Fernando, the renowned human rights activist and lawyer puts it, the Presidency is akin to the mythical Gyge’s ring which makes the wearer invisible and consequently, invincible; anyone wearing it would grab it for dear life for they know and savour the limitless power it yields. The 1978 Constituiton created a constitutional monster that devoured the entire Constitution in one gulp, making short work of all accepted norms of constitutionalism, separation of powers and checks and balances. Article 32 in its original form made the President simply an entity above the law, militating against Article 12, which states that all are equal before the law, by creating an individual above and unreachable by the law.   

Many thought that the 19th Amendment has watered down the unbridled and naked power of the one who holds this office; yet the enticement it has for the occupiers remains quite tempting after all, from what can be seen is taking shape in the current political scenario. 
 
When Prof. A.J. Wilson called our Executive Presidency, “the Gaullist system in Asia”, he was obviously referring to the De Gaullean model embraced by France at the expense of a parliamentary system. Prof. Wilson certainly, though not deliberately, downplayed the human factor that would take a queer shape in the Sri Lankan context. In a country without structural tenacity and practical experience in the mode of governance introduced to us by the Europeans, we were sure to go astray with a repository of such massive powers on one individual. In a nation where power has always been conveyed vertically, i.e. from above and no strong examples of civil society standing as a buffer against unbridled power, the system was sure to create a dictatorship.   


Fatal to democratic norms


With the 19th Amendment, some of the sharpest teeth of the executive monster have been removed or blunted, admittedly. Yet it still possesses claws and fangs so potent and fatal to the democratic mode of governance. In any event, that it has a magical and enchanting effect on the person warming the seat is manifest from the sudden ‘confusion’ that crossed the President’s mind. Whether it arose from a desire to clear any constitutional crisis that might have ensued at the last minute or it was the same old syndrome that has plagued former office bearers is too early to predict; a clue will be in the modus operandi of the President in the remaining two years in office.   

As I stated earlier human beings, when saturated with power do funny things with the lure of continued power. They lose their common sense, common touch, self respect, core ethical values that have fashioned their personal and political careers.   
Yet it was Socrates who said that weak minds were preoccupied with individuals and average ones with events while the truly brilliant minds pondered on concepts
The President being relatively an acceptable person as a politician, (I stress the word ‘relative’) showed a remarkable degree of incomprehension, at best, in being confused about the tenure of his presidency. As he very recently said, we wish to believe that he does not fall under the 50% of politicians who are there for the plunder at their disposal. We hope his only motive in referring the matter to the Supreme Court was to avoid ambiguity and to ensure that the sovereignty of the people was not undermined. Yet given the history of the lure of the seat that turned people-oriented leaders into despots, intoxicating them with power, apprehensions are only natural.   


The lure of continued power


Many leaders and parties have expressed the dire need to abolish this authoritarian system that has acted as an antidote to good governance; yet once in power, they have tried by whatever means to lengthen their stay on the seat. The current President had as his core policy at the January 2015 election, the abolishing of the executive presidency. We hope he is a person who values his reputation and a person who does not fall under the category of politicians who were intoxicated by the power of his office.   

All the comments on social media and blogs decrying the referral, imply that it was an immoral and greedy attempt at prolonging the stay in power; yet I hope against hope that it was a genuine effort for avoiding a constitutional crisis.   

If it was so, the President has nothing to complain and could rest at ease, knowing that he will be letting go of the reins in another two years. In doing so, he will be making history as the first and possibly the only politician not to have fallen prey to the enticement and intoxication of the office of Executive Presidency.   

Yet, again, it is too early to decide whether he is immune from a syndrome that afflicts all who sit on that coveted seat.     

‘Incorrigible joker’ Sillysena managing economy along with his incompetent SLFP ministers is joke of the century !


LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 23.Jan.2018, 10.30AM) President Sirisena speaking on the platform of election rallies has proved he is fast becoming  an ‘incorrigible   joker’ and a Sillysena. After revealing a  most offensive hellfire  joke in Kosgama , ‘Sword Sirisena’ related  another joke in Kegalle at the recent  election rally.
 ‘During the past two years I allowed the UNP to manage the economy  in the way they wanted , but I now  wish to make it clear to you , from this year I am going to take control of  the economic management through the National economic Council ‘ Sword  Sirisena asserted. 
This announcement of Sirisena confirmed further he is  indeed Sillysena . His  stupid statements and conduct as of late , raises a most crucial question : Whether Sword Sirisena  the head of the cabinet of the consensual present government  is not going to accept his  responsibilities  pertaining to the government’s economic management despite being the chief ?  Or is ‘Sword Sirisena‘ trying to say he is  president Sillysena of another government and absolve himself of the responsibilities ? 
Doesn’t the president know the national economic Council cannot pass laws and enactments , and can only proffer advice to the president and such  advice via the cabinet have  to be implemented by the Parliament which again are  headed by Sword Sirisena alias Sillysena and none other. 
This story of Sillysena is of  any worth , only to the idiots and imbeciles in the SLFP ’s Maithri group of buffoons who are eagerly waiting to puff themselves with pride even on Sillysena’s silly utterances. 
The Maithri group of ministers which has proved to the entire nation it is incapable of even distributing fuel and manure on time , managing the national economy is the joke of the century.
 Sword Sirisena who was a frontline cabinet minister under ex president Mahinda Rajapakse cannot disclaim responsibility for the country’s economic devastation which resulted under that reign as he was  also contributory as minister to that economic debacle  during that Rajapakse   nefarious decade. Is  Sirisena  as Sillysena now hoping against hope that the people  are equally silly that they  would have forgotten how he raised his hand for every diabolic and  despicable decision taken by the then  government ? 
It is because Sirisena who is now crowing from rooftop about grandiose plans and  policies , announced then in no uncertain terms he would be non partisan and act sans party affiliations that the people forgot his putrid past at that time to make him president. 
Today,  though he is mounting SLFP local body election platforms wearing dark  blue attire ( Blue Brigand) and making a big din , it is high time he also realized, the people have not forgotten what solemn promises he made on the presidential election platforms  and dishonored those after becoming president . Neither can he divest himself of all the liabilities attaching to him for the egregious wrongdoings  committed during the corrupt and crooked Rajapakse reign when he was an intimate and integral part  of it.
It was recently proved beyond doubt that the bunch of buffoons best known for tomfoolery, and  who call themselves as SLFP ministers of the consensual government are unable to get down even the country’s necessary fuel  on time, and even are  unable to distribute the manure to meet the country’s requirements  on time.    Then, are these the SLFP ministers trying to take control of the national economy ? What would happen if Sword Sirisena who does not know a word of English takes control of the national economy  after he himself  proving what an unreliable  villain he is   when he made most   misleading and bogus announcements to the entire nation via his most  special statement on the Bond report despite being a most responsible president of the country ?
While the English version of the report states nowhere  ‘a case shall  be filed against Ravi Karunanayake ‘  , Sword Sirisena in his special statement said, ‘the report says ,a case shall be filed against Ravi Karunanayake’
Now that the truth is out , and the report he was hiding has come out , it is confirmed Sirisena alias Sillysena  despite being the president of the country has blatantly and brazenly lied to  the entire nation. Need we further elaborate on what would be the state of the national economy when such an uneducated Sillysena with an immature brain takes over that  too ? It is only an immature moron like Sword Sirisena who would choose a fashion designer as finance minister over a chartered accountant for that post .
Sirisena alias Sillysena who could not even  run the environmental ministry which he is right now (mis) managing  , and made a hash of it on an unprecedented scale; could not  manage the Wilpattu forest and 20, 000 acres of the forest in Trincomalee when those were destroyed , now bragging he can manage the national economy is not only most ridiculous but even ludicrous unless of course in his abysmal ignorance thinks ‘managing ’  and ‘mismanaging  ‘ are the same.  It is better Sillysena understands his limitations before he flaunts  his ‘capabilities’. Otherwise it is the country that is going to suffer with such a clumsy joker at the helm poking his  filthy  fingers into every pie. 

There is no room to take over ministries under the 19 th amendment 

The  speeches made by Sirisena have only betrayed his ignorance of the constitution which governs  the country’s administration .By seeking court opinion to  satiate his inordinate greed to continue in power for 6 years , he became a laughing stock  , in spite of his looking for scapegoats to fasten the blame when  his  imbecility and mental immaturity were  exposed by the court decision.
The president  taking over ministries from time to time is not permitted under the 19 th amendment . Perhaps the president is resorting to such actions in keeping with his innate idiocy – this is a president who can be most misled and least led . In all probability he  is following another idiot’s wrong interpretation  of section 43 (3) of the 19 th amendment . 
Section 4 (3) states thus :
The president can at any time ,  change the composition of the cabinet , as well as change the subject and tasks entrusted to the cabinet . However that power shall not apply to   changes affecting  the continuity of the Cabinet of Ministers and the continuity of its responsibility to Parliament.
In the first paragraph  though it is stated the structure of the cabinet can be changed , in the second paragraph it is stated the continuity  of the cabinet and the continuity of its responsibilities to Parliament  cannot be changed. By that it is understood the president cannot take over the ministries.
According to section 43 (2) of the 19 th amendment , ministers cannot be appointed without the consent of the Prime Minister, and section 46 (3) states the president cannot remove a minister without the advice  of the P.M.
Therefore  Sword Sirisena ‘s statement in Kegalla on the 20 th  that his undertaking to handle the country’s finance and he will continue as president until the rogues have gone into the dirtiest hell is the biggest lie he has concocted just to hear  the loudest whistle of the gallery crowd to which crowd he always caters. 
In any case the bottom line is : whether ‘sword Sirisena’ who is sure going to drop to fourth place at the local body elections on 10 th February , can continue unashamedly  as president  ?

Chandrapradeep

Translated by Jeff 
---------------------------
by     (2018-01-23 05:27:02)

The March of Folly A disgraceful Attorney General



By Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha-2018-01-23

President Sirisena's query, from the Supreme Court, as to whether he is entitled to a six-year term, was both sad and silly. It was sad because it suggested that he was anxious to go on for longer than the reduced period laid down in the 19th Amendment, for which he had claimed great credit.

Since his raison d'être, as it were, was reducing the excessive power of the Presidency, he has rather shot himself in the foot by seeming to want to restore some of what which he claimed that he has freely given up. And the move was very silly because the Amendment was crystal clear about the reduction being applicable to the current incumbent.

But though his query was ridiculous, there was some reason for making it given that his sycophants were claiming, publicly too, that he was entitled to go on till January 2021. And just as I have been more critical of the hangers on, who ruined the last couple of years of President Rajapaksa's term, than of Rajapaksa himself, I feel that Sirisena too is more sinned against than sinning.

There is no excuse for giving in to perverse henchmen but, given the indiscriminate adulation of leaders in this country, one can understand how easy it is to succumb to blandishments.

What is totally unacceptable is the behaviour of the Attorney General, who has again proved himself totally unfit for the exalted position into which he was catapulted. It is said that the President had first asked his opinion, and it beggars belief that he would have ignored the clear assertion in the 19th Amendment that the current President's term was subject to the limitation. And it was appalling that he had appeared before the Supreme Court to argue the case to back up the President going on till 2021.

When Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa sought similar opinions, they had private counsel appearing on their behalf. That was right and proper, since the Attorney General appears on behalf of the State, and it is not the business of the Attorney General to argue that the President could go on for an extra year or not. In thus formally presenting himself as the instrument of the government in power, Mr. Jayasuriya has made crystal clear his lack of intelligence or of principles or both.

His inadequacies had of course become apparent earlier too, in his abject performance before the Bond Commission. Where his staff, in the form of Messers de Livera and Kodagoda, had shown themselves both objective and incisive, he presented himself as a political dogsbody, unwilling to investigate and expose the despicable role of the Prime Minister in the scam. That Ranil Wickremesinghe is still in a position to hinder the course of justice, and to continue to nurture the scoundrels, who plundered the country, is entirely due to the Attorney General's anxiety to serve not the country but his political masters, and thus himself.

In this he has shown himself quite unlike the other individual endowed with great responsibility against usual practice. I refer to the Auditor General, who was also appointed, two years back, over the head of the most senior serving officer in the department.

When the staff of that department helped us enormously during the first COPE investigation – which was aborted because the President dissolved Parliament prematurely, under pressure and contrary to his promise to his party – I mentioned to the COPE Chairman the sterling contribution of the then Acting Auditor General.

DEW's response was that he feared such yeoman service would lead him being deprived of the Auditor General's post. And so it proved. But my fear is that the handpicked substitute proves him as a political puppet, as in a sharp report he laid bare the wickedness of Ranil's henchmen, as well as the absurdity of the allegations Ranil still keeps making to draw attention away from his own crookedness.

This is what led Ranil to declare that they would have to get rid of him, and that perhaps they had made a mistake in not appointing the Deputy. The mistake on the contrary is in appointing a servile ass as Attorney General.

Yahapālana Government As A Hyper-Debt Regime

By Milton Rajaratne –January 23, 2018


imageGovernment debt, as an important topic, was highly exploited by the Yahapalana coalition to come to power in 2015 and to remain in power during the past three years. The coalition government describes ‘Rajapaksa Regime’ as debt driven and has caused an immense debt burden on the country and its people. The Rajapaksa rule ended on 9th January 2015 and by that time (end of 2014) the total government debt stood at Rs.mn. 7,390,899. The domestic and foreign debt components remained at Rs.mn. 4,277,783 and Rs.mn. 3,113,116 respectively. As a result the debt burden of the country, as a percentage to GDP, stood at 71.3%. The per capita debt burden had reached Rs. 357,000 while the gap between per capita income and per capita debt remained as Rs. 142,000. While criticizing borrowings of the previous government, the present government has borrowed surprising amounts. This encouraged the writer to compare between the Rajapaksa and Sirisena debt regimes and to inquire into the government debt scenario analyzing its economic perspectives.

Table-1 indicates that the government debt burden remained at 71.3% at the time of Rajapaksa’s defeat. New policy measures that were introduced to overcome debt burden with effect from early 2015 have continued for good three years so far. In spite of debt curtailing alleged by the new government, the debt burden has rapidly increased from 71.3 to 79.3 within two years and it can be estimated, based on government debt statistics reported by the Central Bank for eight months until August 2017, that this figure would reach 90.0 by the end of 2017. This indicates that the debt volume prevailed by the end of 2014 would grow by an amount of Rs.mn. 4,000,000 making the total debt as Rs.mn. 11,000,000 by the end of 2017. This is a growth of almost 50% since 2014 or all time total government debt.
During the same three year period, per capita income has increased by Rs. 72,000 while per capita government debt has increased by Rs. 154,000. This reveals that as the economic growth has been much slower than the growth in borrowing. In consequence, the government debt has outgrown the per capita income at a rate of more than 200%. Therefore the gap between per capita income and per capita government debt has narrowed significantly from Rs. 142,000 to Rs. 60,000 as indicated in the Figure-2. This explains that there is a debt component of 90% in per capita income at present compared to 72% in 2014. The slow growth of per capita income is connected to economic slowdown from 6% to less than 4% between in 2014 and 2017 due to incapacity of the present economic policies. Increase in debt while decrease in economic growth eventually leads to a debt trap.
 
The foreign debt has grown faster than that of the domestic debt between 2014 and 2017 which is much significant in 2017. While domestic debt has increased from Rs.mn. 4,277,783 to Rs.mn. 6,000,000 which is a growth of 40% foreign debt has grown from Rs.mn. 3,113,116 to Rs.mn. 5,000,000 or 60% which is an alarming growth. This is due to new debt as well as debt adjustments to depreciating exchange rate of the Rupee. Sri Lankan rupee has depreciated from Rs. 130 per US$ to Rs. 155 per US$ by 18% during the past three year period due to poor exchange rate management and unfavorable trade balance. The increase in foreign debt component has not only intensified the debt burden but has heavily increased external dependency also. The situation has been aggravated by trade gap which in turn requires further foreign borrowing to settle it.
   

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Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar Just shut up!

2018-01-24

Another term of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family would have taken the country towards moral decadence and financial chaos.
Indulgence in shortcuts for shortsighted political fame is amateurish and damaging to thecoalition that was woven around the UNP and SLFP.
They must take a cue from Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake. Both Navin and Sajith are comparatively young and they too are novices in being Cabinet Ministers.
Yet, the bond between the two leaders of the country, Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, is increasingly becoming loose and is on the verge of bursting asunder

Sujeewa Senasinghe
“Infidelity raises profound questions about intimacy.” ~Junot Diaz

Engaging in vituperative brinksmanship, at best, is amateurish. At worst, it is outright self-destructive and defeats the very purpose of your existence.

You have to show them, as Mark Anthony orated about ‘Ambition’ at the slaying of Julius Caesar, that you’re made of ‘sterner’ stuff.

On the other hand, what Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party (UNP) to which Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar belong, has to contemplate is that the verbal attack aimed today at the President would one day come against him, the Prime Minister. It certainly is no comforting thought for any politician, veteran or novice.

A culmination of an explosive process is confronting both the President and Prime Minister. If they are as smart as to defeat the Rajapaksa regime, they sure are smart to avert a crisis at this moment in time. It’s also incumbent upon them, Ranil and Maithripala, to show that they too are made of sterner stuff. The main purpose of the combination between Maithripala Sirisena, at the time the Minister of Health in the Rajapaksa-led Government of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), and the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and other civil organisations, not only to rid the nation of a cancerous political regime, but also to usher in a political system of accountability and transparency. In their rush to entrench themselves in power, Ministers of the new government, it seems, paid scant respect for the purposes for which the new government was elected.
S.M. Marikkar

This happens to all new Governments. Yet the very ouster of the Rajapaksas from the seat of power was a gigantic step. Another term of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family would have accelerated the maddening pace at which the Rajapaksas were taking the country towards moral decadence and financial chaos.

Equally drastic steps they were taking in order to perpetuate a ‘family bandyism’ on lines of effecting coronation of a son whose individual achievements were below average at best were apparent to any reasonable man. The 18th Amendment provided for such a radical turn of the democratic rule into a semi-monarchical rule.

But all these do not qualify those who ousted that rule to be unruly the way Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar behaved in the last few days.

Indulgence in shortcuts for shortsighted political fame is amateurish and damaging to the coalition that was woven around the UNP and SLFP.

They must take a cue from Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake. Both Navin and Sajith are comparatively young and too are novices in being Cabinet Ministers.

The exemplary discipline and poise they have been displaying so far speak volumes about their strong character and farsightedness. Especially Navin Dissanayake, the elder son of the late Gamini Dissanayake has shown remarkable ability to present even a very complex issue in understandable language to the ordinary voter. He has also shown a positive image of a strong character and not yielding to pressures of modern day politics. Both allies and adversaries of the UNP-led cabinet would be glad to have a leader who was stable and willing to show the art of instigation towards a perfect union of ideas and action. Both Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali knew that art and were close disciples of their guru J. R. Jayewardene.

That art of instigation towards positive policies of generic liberalism and indispensable conservatism and bring about a harmonious juxtaposition of the two philosophies is extremely difficult. Civility and restraint which are essential characteristics of a reasonable leader in the twenty-first century would be able to achieve such an arduous task. On the one hand, Sajith Premadasa is treading a more conventional path; his attempt at creating an image of a leader of the déclassé, the same image that his late father President Premadasa created in the entirety of his life is noteworthy.

On the other hand, Navin Dissanayake seems to make a non-doctrinaire approach to modern politics. I will not use this column to back either of these two politicians, Navin and Sajith.

Yet, the unreasonably cantankerous tongues of Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar are on display and so is that dangerous breakdown of discipline in some leading spokespersons of the United National Party. 

A populist-play of politics such as making sensational statements, especially regarding their own Government-leader, and unguarded remarks about their own leader cannot be justified in any context. Living through a cultural-lowering, sustaining an unsustainable system of Government-sponsored programmes and welfare-centred economic structures, a departure from such populist tools of Government has misguided these political amateurs and it shows in abundance.

A complete absence of philosophical approach to politics is understandable, as not all politicians have that rare ability to perceive matters of worldly affairs with a sense of aloofness and objectivity and yet be empathetic and sensitive to the nuanced aspects of life.

The adverse side of the Sujeewa/Marikkar-verbiage is that close advisers of Maithripala may have told the President that both Sujeewa and Marikkar have done what they had done at the instigation of their Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

That kind of interpretation could contribute, especially in a dangerously deceptive profession such as politics, to any interpretation on the subject in question an unkind one, against the Party leader of Sujeewa and Marikkar.

That is why political ‘podians’ like Sujeewa and Marikkar should be more careful; they should be able to express their anger and frustration without betraying their inner preferences.

The current impasse between President and Prime Minister is causing a tremendous amount of uncertainty among the supporters of the voters. We are on the brink of an election. Whether it’s a local government or major one, in the context of a coalition government, all partners in the coalition must provide a comforting image to the voters. When that comforting feel is absent among the voters, it could mean either a conversion from one party to another or voter-apathy, which would make him stay at home without going to the polls on the election day.

On paper, the UNP should have an easy chance almost in every election district except in the North and East.

But elections are not fought on paper. They are battled on gruelling fields of character assassination; they are contested on a hostile terrain of vituperative verbiage; their contestants take no prisoners; it’s indeed a very intimidating and unfriendly series of mistakes and gaffes, exposures of past political stances taken by the respective contestants.

Yet the concept of the ‘party’ matters and it does matter a lot and in a very decisive way. The voter is waiting to see as to who blinks first; who is advancing and who is retreating.

Against such a punishing backdrop, the unity of the political entity, which one contestant represents is of critical value.What Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar have done are immeasurable damage to the UNP and its leader.

On another plain, Maithripala Sirisena has an inherent right as President of the country to expect, not unquestioned loyalty but conditional and decent fidelity to the office of Presidency. Sujeewa and Marikkar should have exercised that aspect of decency, propriety and civility.

In the context of warfare, political or military, one must never attack his superior unless he is sure of destroying the superior. Because if the superior remains in the arena, though defeated, he still remains the superior and holds sway over the subordinate officer. That is incredible foolhardiness on the part of Sujeewa and Marikkar. They do not learn these nuanced lessons in schools of formal education but the adverse fields of political rivalries. They had better learn these lessons the hard way. Otherwise, they become not even footnotes in the history of Sri Lankan politics; they become trash. I’m sure, both Sujeewa and Marikkar don’t want to be in that unholy category.

Yet, the bond between the two leaders of the country, Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, is increasingly becoming loose and is on the verge of bursting asunder. Such a disintegration of a carefully woven coalition between the two main Sinhala-led political parties would be a tragedy of immeasurable proportions.

There is only one way in which this political marriage between Maithripala and Ranil could be salvaged.

Both of them must meet without their advisors. Just one to one conversation could save it, provided they sense the need for it. Efforts that were put together to defeat one of the most corrupt and incorrigible regimes headed by the Rajapaksa family should not be allowed to go to waste.
The unbelievable lies and half-truths expressed on the Joint Opposition (JO) platforms would not go ignored by the discerning voter. It did not happen in 2015 and won’t happen in 2018.

Dr DaShanne Stokes, a recognised thought leader and a sociologist of repute wrote thus: 
“When you’re dealing with frauds and liars, listen more to what they don’t say than what they do.” It applies to the Rajapaksas in the most appropriate manner. What the Rajapaksas and their henchmen-parliamentarians thunder from their political platforms can be heard. But what they don’t utter, the uncivilised manner in which they treated their opponents, the gross corruption they themselves indulged in cannot be heard because they don’t speak about them. That is what the voters need to hear. If they don’t hear, they need to fish them out and find them for themselves.

The writer can be contacted at 
vishwamithra1984@gmail.com