Petition for release of widowed Tamil political prisoner with young children sent to Sri Lankan President with 300,000 signatures

Petition for release of widowed Tamil political prisoner with young children sent to Sri Lankan President with 300,000 signatures


17Apr 2018
A petition calling for the release of a Tamil political prisoner who’s wife died recently leaving two young children alone has gained 300,000 signatures and has been sent to the Sri Lankan President.
Campaigns for the release of Anantha Suthaharan gained traction across the North-East last month after photographs of emotional scenes from his wife’s funeral went viral on social media.
The Ceylon Tamil Teacher’s Union sent off their petition with 300,000 signatures from students, teachers and community members across the North.
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UNHRC Cannot Rely On Sri Lanka To Prosecute Its Armed Forces – Part III

UNHRC Cannot Rely On Sri Lanka To Prosecute Its Armed Forces – Part III

As the search for justice for victims of the Tamil genocide continues.
logo– While the application of ‘universal jurisdiction’ by individual states to prosecute war criminals must be pursued rigorously, the way forward for member states of the UN Human Rights Council is to lobby the UN Security Council for an ICC referral or for the establishment of an international special criminal tribunal for Sri Lanka.
This is part 3 of a series of articles showing the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) cannot rely anymore on the Sri Lankan government to prosecute members of its armed forces and senior political leaders – those responsible for, “some of the worst crimes in the 21st century.” The way forward for member states of the UN Human Rights Council is to lobby the UN Security Council for an ICC referral.
While part 1 argues the case that prolonged reliance on Sri Lanka to prosecute its war criminals is unsustainable, Part 2 makes it more crystal clear that those prosecutions would not be forthcoming, by examining among other, the role played by Sri Lanka’s current president, the plethora of Sri Lanka’s lies, the phenomena of double talk, its sworn loyalty to its armed forces as well as its flawed ‘war on terror’ narrative in addition to the never ending triumphalism mentality, the volatile political situation in Sri Lanka, the probability that President Sirisena running for a second term in 2020, is likely to team up with Gotabaya Rajapaksa as his prime minister – the former defense secretary, alleged architect of the genocidal war and war time atrocities, presumably with the backing of China. (Since writing Part 1, Sirisena has voted against the ‘No Confidence Motion’ against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, he was initially expected to vote for it – the fact he chickened out was looked upon as a betrayal and a hammer blow to the Mahinda Rajapksa crowd). Albeit there’s no denying the current chaotic political scene in Sri Lanka only exacerbates the issue, supporting the contention that Sri Lanka cannot be relied upon to prosecute its armed forces. More catastrophic political developments in the cards as the presidential elections draws near in 2020 would only further impede the search for justice for the victims of the Tamil genocide…
Part 3 goes to the core commitments that Sri Lanka is supposed to deliver that needs fulfilling, shining a light on serious ongoing violations and exposing its inherent and open bias towards the security forces and the protection it offers them, which together reinforce the argument at the very heart of these series of articles – that the UNHRC cannot rely anymore on the Sri Lankan government to prosecute members of its armed forces and senior political leaders.
Scrutinizing Sri Lanka’s implementation of Resolutions 30/1 and 34/L1 and its rather spurious claims of compliance through the prism of some damning reports, among other, the report released by the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP), a must read, parts of which is discussed in part 1, it is clear, it didn’t need rocket science for member states to pick up on Sri Lanka’s ‘dithering’, ‘procrastination’ and ‘bad faith’ – brought home by some disturbing findings from the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) the Sri Lanka Campaign (SLC), Freedom from Torture. Aljazeera and UN mandate holders, among other.
Fact Checking Reveal Extent of Non-Compliance, Deceptions and Cunning:
Yet again Sri Lanka has failed to deliver on its transitional justice commitments; failed to take concrete action to prosecute perpetrators of ongoing violations including torture and sexual violence. And only by fact checking everyone of those commitments Sri Lanka signed up to, with the real situation on the ground, the extent of Sri Lanka’s non-compliance, deception, lies, its  dubious and cunning approach to accountability; its calculated indifference, indeed its attempts to escape from establishing a hybrid court – is revealed. The Mid-Term Report on Sri Lanka prepared by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) together with its rebuttal to the statement made by Sri Lanka’s foreign minister to the UNHRC, says it all – with respect to the implementation of it commitments, Sri Lanka gets a failing grade. TGTE’s findings are an expose on Sri Lanka’s attempts to con its way out of the situation with all talk and no action.  
In Part 1, we drew attention to the 3rd Spot report, released by MAP, a panel of experts in the field “established to provide independent monitoring, advice, and recommendations on the progress of transitional justice in Sri Lanka.” The 34 page report, captioned: ‘How the International Community’s Passivity Has Enabled Further Mass Atrocities in Sri Lanka: the Case of Ongoing Illegal Detention, Torture, and Sexual Violence’, serves as a continuing indictment on Sri Lanka. Expressing a lack of confidence in Sri Lanka’s ability to address impunity, MAP urges the UNHRC, “to lobby the UN Security Council to refer the Sri Lanka situation to the International Criminal Court, as a statement of support to the victims and human-rights defenders seeking accountability in Sri Lanka.”
MAP’s Catalogue of Sri Lanka’s Serious Ongoing Violations:
MAP lists, “serious crimes, the Sri Lankan security forces continue to commit – including illegal detention, torture and sexual violence – with impunity,” catalogued by “credible observers”, crimes, which it attributes to, “seemingly, the failure of the international community to hold Sri Lanka to account for past crimes,” that has, it says, “encouraged the continuation of such violations.”
Map laid out its concerns citing many reports and statistics: for one the report filed by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary detention, which points to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) “as one of the key enablers of arbitrary detention for over four decades.” Further, sharing both the findings of the Sri Lanka Campaign on surveillance and the stats provided by Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission on unlawful arrests and torture by police where, “in the first three quarters of 2017, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka received 5614 complaints, 1174 of them related to unlawful arrest and torture by police,” MAP surmises how the heavy handedness of the security services has had an impact on the community, leaving , “many Tamils fearing they might be abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured, sexually abused or killed as security forces continue ‘surveillance, harassment and intimidation’.”  MAP believes and has always warned: “the right choices will help foster accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, while the wrong ones will not only waste an opportunity to deliver meaningful justice to victims, but also undermine stability for years to come.”
Sri Lanka’s Attempt Yet Again to Manipulate Casualty Figures:

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Is UNP losing after winning the NCM?

Is UNP losing after winning the NCM?


If the UNP is to win, it should win the middle-class voters and the villages

Now, it is all too clear that the real target of the No-Confidence Motion was not the Prime Minister, but the SLFP.
In that sense, the Joint Opposition, which sponsored it, won. The SLFP stands divided and 16 of its MPs, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, who earlier voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion will now sit in the Opposition.
They resigned en masse from their portfolios last week. They will not sit with the Joint Opposition, at least till the time is ripe for a full-throttled pole-vaulting.
Till then, they will operate as a separate Opposition group in Parliament that is still loyal to the President.
All this could be a little bit confusing to an onlooker. How on earth, the President who claims to lead the Unity Government, also patronized a group that is opposed tothe Government.
The President’s one foot is in the Government; the other in the Joint Opposition.
But, it is not as confusing as the previous modus operandi had been. That was to hang on to the portfolios under the same Prime Minister, on whom, they professed to have no confidence.
Nothing, no matter how ludicrous it is, appears to be off the book for the President too.
Earlier, he connived with the Joint Opposition in its abortive attempt to oust the Prime Minister. When that failed, he schemed to continue with the Government with the detractors holding tight to their portfolios.
When that too did not materialize, he seems to want to have best of both worlds.
One foot in the Government, and the other in the Joint Opposition.
This funny state of affairs is a marker of how ridiculous politics have become under the Unity Government.
The No-Confidence Motion was a victory for the UNP, not so much because the Prime Minister won it, but because finally, they can see the back of Mr Rajapaksa’s Trojan horses who sabotaged the government from within. Now they are gone, there should be an extra degree of political cohesion.
The Govt. has only 1 ½ years to effect any changes that would avert a rout in the next Parliamentary Elections.
But, the President’s self- interested political calculations may continue to obscure the political momentum.
In all likelihood, he will use the first available opportunity to dissolve Parliament, soon after it reaches four-and-half years into its term.
In the absence of a resolution passed in the House demanding its dissolution, it is only then he can dissolve Parliament under the 19th Amendment.
That would mean the Government has only one-and-a-half years to effect any changes that would avert a rout in the next Parliamentary Elections.
People in this country do not vote as dictated by the UN Human Rights Council Resolutions and NGO captains. The Government will have to offer some tangible economic benefits and jobs so that the public would not feel that the past five or six years were a lost cause, no different from Chandrika Kumaratunga’s two-term presidency.
Second, the Government, if it really wants to survive, will have to run rings around potential future contenders with a less salubrious past of white van killings and fraudulent MiG deals, effectively nipping the challenge in the bud.
Mr Wickremesinghe seems to be plotting to drive the UNP on a self-destructive path.
Instead, Mr Wickremesinghe seems to be plotting to drive the UNP on a self-destructive path.
He has reportedly proposed the reappointment of Ravi Karunanayake as a Minister.
The President, rightly so, has refused. That is one sure way of handing not just a propaganda victory, but also the next election to
ex-President Rajapaksa.
Mr Karunanayake is implicated in the bond scam. The bond commission in its report has stated legal action should be taken for giving false evidence.
Mr Wickremesinghe’s defence of the bond scam and now absconding former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, though may not be the main reason, still affected the UNP’s defeat at the Local Government elections.
Why he needs Mr Karunanayake, one of his confidantes, is clear. As the internal calls for party reforms (which he had agreed to implement) become louder, he wants to beef up his own base.
But, just like the President is trying to strengthen his hold in the SLFP at the expense of the Unity Government, Mr Wickremesinghe does so at the expense of the UNP.
The UNP cannot win the country by banking on slums of Colombo Central and Grandpass. Electoral heft accorded to these places was an abomination of electoral democracy as it turned out to be not just in Sri Lanka, but also in much of South Asia.
If the UNP is to win, it should win the middle-class voters and the villages.
Instead, it is losing big time from Maharagama to Medawachchiya. These voters have a serious deficit of confidence towards the UNP and its leadership. It is exactly for those reasons that the UNP had to bring in Maithripala Sirisena as the Presidential candidate.
Some of the reservations of the middle class and rural voters about the UNP and Mr Wickremesinghe are indeed misconceptions perpetuated by decades of skilful propaganda by the SLFP.
The UNP should debunk these myths by actively countering them through actions that these people feel as genuine. That should be the UNP’s Avrudu resolution. Instead, it seems to have got its priorities mixed.
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President and PM need to reach agreement now

President and PM need to reach agreement now


By Jehan Perera-
While the impact on the general population is not decisive, the aftermath of the no- confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament has seen a potentially decisive shift in the power balance within the government alliance. This will have crucial implications with regard to the future course of the government, especially on the knotty issue of who will be the next presidential candidate of the government alliance. It is this elephant in the room that has been at the root of the failure of the two leaders to build a relationship of trust between themselves. Both have been taking pre-emptive actions against the other. One of the main causes of the rivalry between the President and Prime Minister was, and probably remains, the issue of who will be the next presidential candidate of the government in 2019.
This rivalry has led to political maneuverings and a breakdown of trust that has been detrimental to the unity of purpose of the government, and escalated the mistrust between the two leaders which was akin to poison to the body politic. In the current circumstances, in which the power balance has tilted towards the Prime Minister, it would therefore be advantageous if the thorny issue of the next period of presidency is decided by the two coalition partners without further delay. For instance, the failure of the government to honour its election time pledge that it would take legal action against the members of the former government has been attributed to a divide and rule strategy employed by the UNP component of the government to keep the SLFP divided, and thereby the President himself in check.
President Sirisena’s campaign to get rid of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and replace him with someone of his own choice can be seen in this negative frame of contestation. In the immediate aftermath of the local government elections, at which both ruling parties performed poorly, the President made his bid to sack the Prime Minister. The unfortunate lack of political foresight in this move was evidenced by the fact that the President neither had the constitutional authority to sack the Prime Minister, nor did he have the numbers in the government or in the cabinet to overthrow him. The lack of political foresight was further displayed when the President appeared to be initially supportive of the motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister that was presented to Parliament by the opposition led by his mortal foe, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It is to be hoped that the new balance of power that has emerged will enable a viable solution to be worked out. Immediately prior to the no-confidence motion, President Maithripala Sirisena had taken several other overtly offensive actions against the Prime Minister that led to the undermining of the government. There even seemed to be an element of enmity in their relationship and when they attended public events together they seemed to find it unbearable to even look at each other. In the run up to the no confidence motion, with just three days to it, President Sirisena seemed to openly enter the fray when he virtually stripped Prime Minister of some powers he enjoyed. However, the manifestations of discord between the President and Prime Minister had commenced even earlier.
One watershed event was the Prime Minister’s re-appointment of the governor of the Central Bank, Arjuna Mahendran, who had come under a cloud and was being accused of a bond scam that amounted to billions of rupees. In standing by his friend, and choice of governor, the Prime Minister defied public opinion and good sense to the cost of his own reputation and that of the government. President Sirisena rode the crest of the public opposition to this controversial action of the Prime Minister by refusing to reappoint the governor. He took on the mantle of anti-corruption that had hitherto been shared with the Prime Minister. The popular backing for the President’s actions in regard to the Central Bank bond scam, which included appointing a special Presidential Commission of Inquiry regarding it, gave the President a sense of his moral authority even though it was akin to a dagger aimed at the heart of the government he headed together with the Prime Minister.
Ironically, the failure of the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister has had the effect of strengthening the Prime Minister vis a vis the President and the opposition forces that moved the motion in Parliament. The Prime Minister’s party came together to support him whereas the President’s party has got further divided with some of them voting in favour of the no-confidence motion and leaving the government whilst the majority of them abstained and are remaining with the government. In addition, the ethnic minority parties stood in support of the Prime Minister, who can be trusted to be non-racist in his attitude, with none of their parliamentarians voting in support of the no confidence motion. Therefore in the power struggle between the President and Prime Minister it is the latter who has emerged stronger.
The new balance of power is reflected in the prorogation of Parliament for a month. The prorogation is the period between the end of a Parliament session and the opening of the next Parliament session. The government has stated that this will not have an effect on parliamentary business. Sudarshana Gunawardana, Director General of the Government Information Department said that under Article 70(4) of the Constitution “All matters which, having being brought before Parliament, have not been disposed of at the prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next session.” Therefore, he said that the prorogation of Parliament has no negative impact on the functioning and operation of the government. However, the significance of the prorogation of parliament lies elsewhere.
President Sirisena’s prorogation of parliament until next month came amidst a crisis facing the SLFP he leads, with 16 dissenting members, including six cabinet ministers, saying they would leave the government which would further weaken the position of the President within the government. There has been speculation that they might even cross over to the former President’s camp. The suspension of parliament will give more time to the President to attempt to prevent the further disintegration of his party. In addition, prorogation of parliament means that all parliamentary committees will need to be reconstituted. In a context in which the UNP led by the Prime Minister has emerged stronger, the prorogation is clearly to the UNP’s advantage when it comes to deciding on the leadership of those parliamentary committees.
The parliamentary battleground is therefore set for constitutional reforms that could sustain the government into the post-2020 period. The tussle over who should be the presidential candidate on the government side could be resolved by reforming the presidency to be one that is elected by parliament and with reduced powers as a transitional provision in the constitutional reform process. It is best that this new arrangement is negotiated and settled sooner rather than later. If the all important relationship between the President and Prime Minister is to be improved, and sustained, there should be no room for rivalry and mistrust about the future between them. Ideally the dissenting 16 members of the SLFP should be part of the process of inter-governmental reconciliation. Together they need to take forward the Government of National Unity, and prove to a sceptical public, that this is the best thing that has happened to the country despite its many problems.
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Can Violence Ensure the Protection of a Race?

Can Violence Ensure the Protection of a Race?

The fundamental tenet of monotheistic belief propagates the notion of a Creator.  A Creator who is responsible for the creation of man and everything else.

by Mass L. Usuf- 
( April 18, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Why am I addressing the Sinhalese people?  Firstly, because they are the majority community in this country.  Secondly, the group of hooligans who caused the several acts of terror and mayhem were Sinhalese.  Thirdly, it is the majority of the Sinhalese people who follow Buddhism. Fourthly, the Sinhala race like any other is unique.
Before anyone’s imagination begins to run riot, let me explain why is a Muslim worried about the Sinhala race.  Especially, at a time when the Sri Lankan Muslims hold the World Record for the discovery of the ‘Wanda Pethi’, the alleged sterilisation pill in food.  (Please see my article, ‘The Non-Existent ‘Wanda Pethi’ in Sri Lanka Guardian of  Mar 5, 2018).
In the study of Islamic sociology, races constitute a vital component that go to strengthen the social structure.  Therefore, there is no issue for a Muslim to accept, without prejudice, the existence of racial heterogeneity.  Islam makes no distinction between black, white, yellow or brown coloured persons.  Moreover, stratification of humans into castes, as lower or higher, is alien to Islamic sociology.
The fundamental tenet of monotheistic belief propagates the notion of a Creator.  A Creator who is responsible for the creation of man and everything else.  This concept of God as the Creator and that all humans are His creation naturally, establishes a sense of equity amongst mankind.  In the clear absence of discrimination logically, a Muslim cannot be a racist.  For the Muslims, the Sinhala race is just another of God’s creation which as Muslims we do not have an issue in acknowledging, accommodating and understanding.  Quite beside theological expositions, from the viewpoint of a civilised and democratic perspective too, we all are equal citizens of this country – Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamils, Malays, Burghers etc.  Historically, one way or the other the Muslims, like the other communities, are a commixture of this Sinhala race.

From Pearl To Pariah

The ruffians who committed acts of terror and destruction in Digana and other areas in the name of protecting the so called ‘Sinhala Buddhist nation’ need to be stopped.  And, if you, the Sinhalese people do not step up to this act, it will be immoral to consider yourself as belonging to the Sinhala race. It will be unethical to claim that you are a follower of Buddha’s teachings.  You will be unpatriotic to this soil.  Your inaction today, will result in your children suffering.  Your silent sanctioning of violence against the minorities will further degrade what is left of this country.  What the world used to call, ‘as the pearl of the Indian ocean’ will turn to be a pariah nation internationally.
An analysis of the hate campaign, taking advantage of the free social media, clearly indicates certain qualitative characteristics in these extremists.  They are exceedingly narrow minded, blindly racist and stupefyingly ignorant deluded by the fantasy of protecting the Sinhala race and Buddhism.  That an organised team is directing operations is self-evident.  The constant and repeated emphasis on racial contempt and hatred, against the Muslims is obviously premeditated. This, along the way, efficaciously appeals to the lowest and most primitive of human motives and that is one of survival.  For the discerning, the pattern of psychological manipulation of the minds of the youth should be disconcerting.  The youth are plainly being misled.  These are the assets of our country.  They are our human capital.  These are the youth who are going to run this country tomorrow.
Can the Sinhala race be protected by burning houses, shops and places of religious worship?  Can the Sinhala race be protected by looting the goods in the business premises and in the houses?  Can the Sinhala race be protected by stopping public transport vehicles and grievously assaulting unarmed innocent Muslims? Can the Sinhala race be protected by terrorising men, women and children? How can such violence ensure the protection of a race?

The Threat To Buddhism

These marauders responsible for the rampage came on vehicles where it was written ‘budu saranai’ (seeking refuge in buddha).  Buddha was a Reformer who was famous for his universal inspiration of non-violence (ahimsa).  The tragicomedy is that they come under Buddha’s protection to cause death and destruction. Is this ignorance, blind prejudice or the consequences of being brainwashed?  Apparently, burdened by the delusion that ‘budu saranai’ is only for the Sinhalese, rest of humanity is fair game.  Is it reasonable to question if Buddha is the personal god or teacher of the Sinhalese only?  No ‘budu saranai’ for the Muslims in this case.  Or, like the infamous monk Gnanasara, more a disciple of the terrorist monk Wirathu, than of Buddha, saying ‘aba saranai’ for the Muslims prior to the Aluthgama pogrom. At the time Buddha was walking in the Ganges plain was there anything resembling ‘Sinhala Bauddhaya’?  Should not the educated and the intellects check if this is an aberration of the socio-religious institutions?   Are not the elders amongst the Buddhist clergy responsible to redirect the trajectory towards the path of the true teachings?  Is silence or inaction a choice for the Elder Clergy on the face of a threat to Buddhism and the sasana from within?  Seriously, think from where the threat to Buddhism is arising, is it from the Buddhists themselves or from the Muslims.

Who Is Protecting What?

By this, are these thugs protecting Buddhism and the buddha sasana?  These criminals are not only from among the lay Buddhists.  There were also monks in robes engaged in acts of violence and mayhem.  Screens of televisions worldwide splashed the face of Buddhist atrocities.  Are these monks who call themselves the true protectors of Buddhism or do they consider themselves the sincere followers of buddha?  This is a complex situation and should be of great concern since it puts this nation to shame.  It is a matter of conjecture if these elements are using the teachings of the great sage only to protect their survival.  Is it not the time to think about this?
In conclusion, it is established that the miscreants are mostly youth.  There lies a huge responsibility on the Elder Clergy in all the temples to direct them towards Loving-kindness (metta); Compassion (karuna); Sympathetic Joy (mudita); Equanimity (upekkha).  The Mahanayakes must get their act together to discipline the youth monks and bring them within the fold of the true teachings. It is the responsibility of the parents and elders of the community to guide and counsel them and wean the youth away from ill-conceived prejudice and spreading of hate.  This country cannot afford to lose its youth population.
The End.
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Too many ministers positively harmful to the running of Government

Too many ministers positively harmful to the running of Government

logoWednesday, 18 April 2018

The so-called National Unity Government formed on 3 September 2015 through a motion by the Prime Minister (Hansard, column 97, 3 September 2015) can now be construed as unconstitutional, especially with the outcome of the No-Confidence Motion and the resignations tendered by the SLFP Ministers

The President, by extraordinary gazette, has prorogued Parliament with effect from 13 April and the next sessions will be on 8 May. It was earlier reported in the media that President Sirisena has accepted the resignation letters tendered by 15 SLFP ministers, including six Cabinet members, and the Deputy Speaker, who voted for the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that a new Cabinet would be sworn in after the New Year holidays.
Background: Going against the mandate

During the last Parliamentary election campaign in 2015, the UPFA has categorically stated that they would not join with any party to form a National Government. Their manifesto was also silent on supporting a National Government. Therefore, there was no mandate given by the people for the UPFA elected members to support the move to form a National Government.

Quote: “…The members of Parliament hold a mandate and are agents of the people.” These are the extracts of the judgement delivered in 1987 on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution by Justice Wanasundera. However, a section of the UPFA elected members (including those who come through the National List) from the constituent party of SLFP has agreed to join the National Government.
National Government in terms of Article 46(4):

The process of forming the National Government was undertaken with a decision enforced on the Central Committee of the SLFP by the Chairman, who happened to be the President of Sri Lanka. A MOU between the two parties, namely the UNP and SLFP, has been entered into in August 2015. The SLFP is not a recognised political party in Parliament and as a result the SLFP joined the National Government as a separate group, and not as a recognised political party in terms of Article 46(4) of the 19th Amendment.

The National Government has so far enabled the elected MPs and even defeated candidates to carve out portfolios and privileges in Parliament, thus wasting valuable taxpayers’ money. The innocent citizens continue to pay direct and indirect taxes to the general Treasury to maintain a large Cabinet of Ministers and Non-Cabinet and Deputy Ministers.
Going against the rule of law

Consequent to the Local Government elections, Sri Lanka’s ruling alliance (UPF) was humiliated at the local elections and the SLPP under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (SLPP) pulled off a stunning victory. However, there is no mandate given to SLPP/JO to take part in the Government. It is also true that Parliament cannot be dissolved till March 2020, unless two-thirds of the members decide themselves to dissolve the Parliament.

The present Government continues to function as a National Government formed between the UNP and SLFP headed by the Executive President, whereas the Prime Minister of the said National Government represents the UNP which obtained the highest number of seats at the last general elections.

My view is the National Government in terms of Article 46(4) cannot function only with a section of the SLFP members, as six Cabinet Ministers representing the SLFP have now decided to be in the Opposition.
Excessive number of ministers positively harmful to running of Govt.

The so-called National Unity Government formed on 3 September 2015 through a motion by the Prime Minister (Hansard, column 97, 3 September 2015) can now be construed as unconstitutional, especially with the outcome of the No-Confidence Motion and the resignations tendered by the SLFP Ministers.

Maybe a new Leader of the Opposition could be appointed within a member of the JO. Under the circumstances, it is unethical and bad in law to maintain the number of Cabinet Ministers beyond the stipulated maximum of 30 under the 19th Amendment. Evidence-based empirical studies show that an excessive number of ministers is not only unnecessary, but also positively harmful to the running of Government.

What needs to be done by the people is to push for a reduction of the Cabinet to its original number of 30 on the basis that the National Government has lapsed. It is important to reduce unnecessary and wasteful Government expenditure without burdening poor people by increasing taxes.

Therefore, it is expedient that the Members of Parliament would discuss this matter in Parliament when they resume on 8 May in order to move away from the present National Government and form a new government and work with a ‘30 member’ Cabinet as per the Constitution.

The writer could be reached via email at

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Ranil’s woes are not over, they’re just beginning… 

Ranil’s woes are not over, they’re just beginning…

Election of a ‘Politburo’ cannot be regarded as an inconsequential development
There’s no Gamini Jayawickrama Perera or John Amaratunga, the two most senior parliamentarians
UNP backbenchers ask Navin to take over the Secretary General post
“See for the highest, aim at the highest and you shall reach the highest.”
~Swami Vivekananda

The no-confidence motion is now a thing in the past. Everyone, especially Ranil Wickremasinghe, the Leader of the United National Party, would like to think so. However, in the wake of its defeat on April 4, a very significant development took place in the United National Party (UNP). Election of a so-called ‘Politburo’ cannot be regarded as an inconsequential development. Politburo is a term usually associated with Communist Parties. Yet after the collapse of ‘Red Power’ in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Politburo term has been in use even in democratic political parties, meaning the highest decision-making body in the Party in question. In such a context of an evolving political vernacular, the Politburo of the UNP could be construed as the new decision making body at the highest level.
However, unlike in the Communist parties of yesteryear, the Leader of such democratic parties usually is not invested with unlimited powers to hire and fire or send his adversaries to the Gulag. The modern-day UNP and its Leader would well be advised, especially after a steady decline of the Party’s voter-bank over the last two and half decades under the present leadership, to share that power with this new Politburo to which a most deserving and qualified group of politicians, and elected parliamentarians as against those who come from the ‘National List’, were elected.
I implore you to have a glance at the new Politburo. It is as astonishing about who is in it as who is not in it. There’s no Gamini Jayawickrama Perera or John Amaratunga, the two most senior parliamentarians as Ranil Wickremesinghe; no Thalatha Athukorale (no women at all, no good!) or outgoing Chairman and Secretary General, Malik Samarawickrama and Kabir Hashim (both are a timely rejection); there’s no Sujeewa Senasinghe, the most vociferous UNPer in the last two years, nor is Harsha de Silva. Neither Vajira Abeywardena nor the other ‘Kayiwarukaraya’, Daya Gamage was elected. The voters in the Working Committee have rejected the ‘pavement style’ cheap cantankerous politics. The new Politburo consists of members representing almost all prominent caste and geographical-derivatives in Sri Lanka. There is a mixture of Upcountry and Low-country men (no women), of all social denominations. Except Ranjit Madduma Bandara and Mangala Samaraweera, all others came to Parliament in or after year 2000 – a direct contrast to the Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition (JO) or Maithripala Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). It is indeed a collection of ‘young guns’, so to speak.
From amongst the field of Mangala Samaraweera, Ranjit Madduma Bandara, Eran Wickremaratne, Harin Fernando, Nalin Bandara, Navin Dissanayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, J.C. Alawatuwala, Ruwan Wijewardene and Ajith Perera, the recently elected Politburo members, only two, Eran Wickremaratne and Ruwan Wijewardene represent Colombo albeit the main criticism hurled at the UNP that it is primarily a Colombo-based political party. Whereas the current Ranil-led UNP is exclusively based in Colombo; whereas his chief adviser is Malik Samarawickrama whose political exposé and grassroots level experience is next to nothing, the new politburo is a fresh wind swirling around the political circles of today. This is a mirror image of the ten (10) who were elected to assist J.R. Jayewardene in 1976.
This unconventional process of electing a successor was introduced into the United National Party by JR in 1976. Its legitimacy, validity and the elementary character of being ‘democratic and fair’ has held true to this day. No other political party in Sri Lanka has adopted this method as they are too deeply immersed in their own familial and prejudice-based anachronisms. The present leadership crisis in the UNP and its original causes, its substantive evolution and its final resolution could all be revealed if an unmitigated effort is made by those who were elected to the politburo to introduce some meaningful changes to the Party structure and possibly a ‘winner-candidate’ in the forthcoming Presidential Elections.
That notion of a ‘winner-candidate’ was truly, fairly and solidly established. The election of Navin Dissanayake, Gamini Dissanayake’s son and Minister of Plantation Industries and MP from Nuwara Eliya district to number one position is remarkable. Navin performed as well as his father did in 1994, or even better. Gamini had to face this situation twice in his remarkable political life. When in 1976 JR asked all electorate organizers to elect a team to be in charge of the election set for 1977, he trailed behind R. Premadasa only by 6 votes – Premadasa received 118 and Gamini 112, an awesome performance for a newcomer in 1970. Then in 1994, after election-loss on the election of Leader of the Opposition, Gamini beat Ranil Wickremasinghe who was the outgoing Prime Minister by 2 votes (44 to 42).
Whether the voter is a farmer in the arid zones in the NCP or a tea plucker in the hill country, or an ordinary labourer from Colombo or a junior executive in Kurunegala, or even a Board Member of a lucrative business or an ordinary housewife, they all want and demand a winner and a ‘young gun’. Navin Dissanayake fitted into that description like a well-fitting glove into a workman’s hand. ‘Winner’ is an infectious dynamic. In the recently held local government elections, when the whole country was lost to the UNP, specifically the Sinhalese-Buddhist hinterland was swept by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Navin managed to win both Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council as well as Nuwara Eliya Pradeshiya Sabha. In addition, he won the Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha, Norwood Pradeshiya Sabha and Hatton-Dickoya UC. In Kotmale and Agrapatana Pradeshiya Sabha elections, he was second to Ceylon Workers’ Congress, and the SLPP was a negligible distant third in them. In the context of a distressing island-wide debacle for the UNP, those victories are quite extraordinary and deserve instant acknowledgement. Navin being elected as the leader among the next-to-the leader tier in the Party structure is an unequivocal acknowledgement of that performance. Period. Navin, the ‘Young Gun’ is being launched, not by some conspiratorial gossiping in the Colombo social circles, not by some anachronistic elite group of the Party, Navin was elected as number one in a group within a group by the Working Committee of the United National Party. However, one cannot ignore the other UNPer, Sajith Premadasa who was placed ex-officio in the Politburo by virtue of his office as a Deputy Leader, In fact Sajith must be extremely happy that he did not have to be ‘elected’ when the election of the Politburo was called. The clamour of the UNP backbenchers asking for Navin Dissanayake to take over the post of Secretary General of the UNP buttresses his position as a commanding personality in the Party.
Where Navin goes from here on is entirely up to him. He must decide whether he should take this opportunity to the next level or remain placid and allow the rot to continue. Whatever he decides, he must acknowledge one unmistakable truth and reality. The United National Party as it is today, led by the present leader is going only in one way- towards self-destruction if radical changes are not implemented.
When in 1976 JR his second tier in the Party, his own position as Leader was never disputed. He was the King of the Party. A towering personality, astute leadership, a strong sense of history and an uncanny sense of political acumen were some of his traits. On the contrary, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the current leader of the Party, with all his experience and devotion to the principles and policies of the UNP and with his so-called knowledge of the economy of the country, is being discussed in utter negative terms, not only in Colombo-based social clubs but almost in every street corner in the country. A drastic decline in the voter base is not a good index for a performing-leader.
Both Navin Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa belong in that category of the few. Their fathers laid their lives on the road while campaigning for the Party. Both entered Parliament after their fathers’ demise on their own strengths
Can the ‘pendulum’ swing the UNP-way? That is the 64 million-question today. JR in the mid-70s not only knew that the pendulum could swing his way, he made it so by the action he launched with the unwavering backing of his Party. The results were unprecedented; a sweeping five-sixth victory in 1977 General Elections. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s position is much more delicate and brittle. Ever since the 2009 Presidential Elections, when the UNP could not find its own candidate for Presidential Elections, his suitability as a viable candidate has been questioned.
In such a depressing context, Ranil at least this time in the 2020-Presidential Elections has to find a ‘winning’ candidate whose base, source and beginning is in the UNP, who is considered by his own Party and then by the general voting population. Both Navin Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa belong in that category of the few. Their fathers laid their lives on the road while campaigning for the Party. Both entered Parliament after their fathers’ demise on their own strengths. When one studies the composition of the new Politburo of the Party, it is not so big a challenge to see who is ahead and who is behind. Ranil’s woes are not over, they are just beginning.
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JO pledges conditional support for 20-A

JO pledges conditional support for 20-A


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa-
The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday pledged conditional support for the 20th Amendment to be moved by the JVP to abolish the executive presidency.
Addressing the JO’s Economic Research Council (ERC) weekly media briefing at Punchi Borella MP Bandula Gunawardane said that if JVP included a clause to the effect that Parliament would be dissolved immediately after the passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the JO would vote for the proposed amendments.
The government had lost its two-thirds majority in parliament as a result of the no-confidence motion moved by the JO against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe and, therefore, it was necessary for anyone to seek the JO’s support to amend the Constitution, Gunawardena added.
“There is no proper economic plan. Amending the executive presidency will not be a solution to this economic crisis. The country needs a proper government to manage the economy and therefore it is necessary to hold an early general election.”
Highlighting the fuel price issue, former cabinet Minister Gunawardena said the country had been able to save about USD six billion within the last three years due to low petroleum prices in the global market. Prior to 2014, the oil imports had cost USD 5 billion but in 2015 it had dropped to USD 2,700 million. In 2017, it had been about USD 3,428 million, Gunawardena said.
Predicting that the government would increase the fuel prices on May 1, MP Gunawardene said the price increase would affect every commodity and every service.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan said that he was prepared to face a no confidence motion, should one be moved against him by the Joint Opposition.
 Addressing a press conference in Jaffna, Sampanthan said that the Joint Opposition might move a no confidence motion against him, accusing him for voting in favour of the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. “It is neither ethical nor the parliamentary tradition to bring a no confidence motion against an opposition leader. I think that nowhere in the world has an opposition leader faced a no confidence motion”, he said. He further said that if a no confidence motion is brought against him, he was ready to face it.
“If the joint opposition brings a no-confidence motion against me for supporting the Prime Minister, I am ready to face it”, he said. He noted that the national government led by the President and the Prime Minister now should focus on swift constitutional reforms.
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Clowns at politics cause Hiccups

Clowns at politics cause Hiccups


It is the long arms of the law and Gota himself who can destroy his candidature
better send all parliamentarians of all parties down the drain and elect new teams of parliamentarians with the JVP becoming the old timers enclosure
sajith failed to dislodge RW from leadership, lacking the guts of his famed father
Disgruntled in the UNP – their vocal majority – largest number of votes UNP obtained were from Sinhala Buddhist homes. It is not true, not their signature party in the lifetime of Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW). Worked relentlessly with the SLFP to eliminate terrorism; as persons of good faith did not fall into the traps weaved by purportedly UNP friendly NGOs – gained respect for their objectivity; toiled hard with like minded forces to effect a regime change in 2015 ousting Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) with a wistful thought that good governance finds a permanent niche in the body of the UNP. It was not to be: as the Bond scam revealed.
SLFP and UNP hold the bulwark of the patriotic and nationalist votes on the electoral registers. This segment to this day blames estranged Ranil Wickremesinghe – unfairly being singularly – for neglecting the majority interest within the party and for not winning the confidence of the people for sufficiently long – many left the UNP after 2007: some stayed with the UNP but voted against Sarath Fonseka (UNP’s short-time favourite son mooted by RW) gave vent to their anger. Yet holds a large segment of patriotic elements (Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya left to join the SLFP to overcome terrorism) – once the task was accomplished many came back happily home, carrying no unaccompanied luggage with loot. These voters cast their votes against the UNP government in power in 2005 or declined to walk to the polling booth in 2018.
Gota may be accused of being an Uncle Sam’s disciple if he does not obtain clearance on dual citizenship well ahead the date of his election from the US administration
That raises a more fundamental issue –does the MP’s of the UNP the public that voted for them in 2015? Has RW regained/lost ground between the last general election and the recent local government election? Intention of the UNP rebels in defeating the No Confidence motion against the Prime Minister was an effort to rally around Green Flag to enable a comeback for the UNP (with the rebels) sans RW. It is the people that votes in 2020 that matter; not the majority secured in Parliament by well-nourished, well-dressed, well-travelled parliamentarians. In 2020, the people will make a decision on those parliamentarians that cast their votes at the no confidence motion of 2018. Provincial Council elections due between 2018 and 2020 will be too late for a wake up call for the prime political parties to make the necessary changes and establish confidence in the emerging leadership. SLFP is more split than the UNP after no confidence motion and is on brink of disappearing giving way to the ‘bud-party’ carrying much of the decadent and dishonest bunch. With 14 more of the wavering parliamentarians joining the bud-party it will be packed to capacity with undesirables that many will have to resort entry to parliament via the national list. UNP too will be over loaded with the unwanted of the SLFP. RW will use the razor blade more effectively than the better natured MR.
Sources close to Premadasa whisper it is unlikely that Sajith will agree to contest a formidable opposition candidate like Gotabhaya Rajapakse to become a fall guy. Magic of MR seems to work as RW, will offer cakewalk in the PM stakes
Better to send all parliamentarians of all parties down the drain and elect new teams of parliamentarians with the JVP becoming the old timers enclosure. Cheers!
Gota may be accused of being an Uncle Sam’s disciple if he does not obtain clearance on dual citizenship well ahead the date of his election from the US administration. Reading a Daily Mirror interview with Gota, he lives in awe under the spell of his elder brother and seems to be a dedicated kid brother. Expected him to have grown up and be mature to be his own man. It is frightening to witness a blindfolded brotherhood. Gota must be himself, if he desires to go places. He appears to be a shadow of MR.
The No Confidence motion was converted by the Joint Opposition [JO] into a battle to dislodge the government (UNP) in office – not merely a machine to dismantle an administration led by RW whose interest lay in catering to the forces beyond the seas. Stupid JO switched the campaign from an effort to rid the nation of a corrupt leader (via Bond Scam) panders to anti- national forces. One set of crooks is to be replaced by another.
UNP rebels were not prepared to sacrifice the party to the JO on a platter when their exercise was limited to rid itself of its leader. The JO committed hara kiri in granting MR  ascendency to keep the prime candidate from government benches in office whom MR can defeat from the comfort zone at the general elections? A different UNP candidate deemed a squeaky clean technocrat is another proposition for MR and the JO.
The disgruntled in the UNP were smartly out-witted and out-manoeuvred by a crafty gang of crudities of Colombo origins – carrying the Diners Club Card of RW that mislead the UNP hierarchy. However did outclass a buoyant section UNP in an exercise to buy time to make cosmetic changes in the party and throw into the ring a weak candidate to take over the party such as Sajith Premadasa (SP). He failed to dislodge RW from leadership from 2010 lacking the guts of his famed father and fell in line with RW. There would be many unencumbered UNPs’ preferring RW with his many frailties to the candidature of Sajith Premadasa. Sources close to Premadasa whisper it is unlikely that Sajith will agree to contest a formidable opposition candidate like Gotabhaya Rajapakse to become a fall guy. Magic of MR seems to work as RW, will offer cakewalk in the PM stakes. Power attracts first time candidates and in addition Gota is a candidates who has succeeded in showing his skills in eliminating terrorism and in developing the cities. It is the long arms of the law and Gota himself who can destroy his candidature.
Maithripala Sirisena carries a reputation of an unpredictable and inconsistent mole, having crossed the aisle, to defeat his boy’s own hero of once upon a time
President Sirisena is rollicking in a two way street. Symptomatic of a good loser President Sirisena’s takes on the ceremonial character for his balance term of office as President, enjoying foreign travel, forgoing his executive functions. Spends time girdling the globe, signing worthless pieces of paper, before television cameras available to the country, with or without his presence abroad, attending celebrations other heads of state deem a waste of time. Instead he would be remembered as a one term President if he takes meaningful steps to try end corruption irrespective of party affiliations. His on/off nature does not bode well for him.
MS carries a reputation of an unpredictable and inconsistent mole, having crossed the aisle, to defeat his boy’s own hero of once upon a time. He has right to act sissy for having incurred of the wrath of SLFP supporters who will never forgive him for his treachery in breaking up the SLFP. Presently it is wise for him to stay out of domestic politics after losing his home district and take a stand of a President above petty politics. He has the least of option available but can emerge the king maker in deciding which election is to come first – General or Presidential? That decision can decide the fate of the next election where no room must be left for another giddy coalition.
RW overcame a no confidence motion destined for doom by his rival MR who needs RW in the frame in the future, for MR to triumph. Not a flattering cameo to play for any leader of a political party; but since the people tolerated this nonsensical staged show- they should suffer gladly. Political Parties of the right minded will not elect either to run as its candidate to high office unless operations are managed by their hurrah boys?
Is the country moving into another tragi-comic situation in having brothers Rajapakses’ as President and Prime Minister after throwing them out of office just a few moons ago?
Irresistible to hark back to the theory of Two Ronnie’s but the notion fails to take off as Brothers Rajapakse’ as Defence Minister and Defence Secretary co-ordinated brilliantly that helped immensely for the success of the Security Forces in winning the terrorist war; as no officer – public or military – dared to ‘carry tales’ between two ever – loving brothers – a stranglehold public officers hold over their political pets, an art, stylized locally reaching export quality.
The JO committed hara kiri in granting MR  ascendency to keep the prime candidate from government benches in office whom MR can defeat from the comfort zone at the general elections?
There lies a difference. MRs two terms in 2005 and 2010 – first, executed brilliantly; where he increased his majority at re-election. MR converted the system from a two-term presidency with a right to extend to the infinite, if the people desired it, [People said ‘No’] when the silly sycophants began treating MR fawningly with devotion and dedication as if the king can do no wrong – was taken amiss by a poor mind – decided to play a coronation role that made his rule the most corrupt in contemporary history. Yet he is more loved than any other politician.
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