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People’s Sovereignty and Judicial Power

People’s Sovereignty and Judicial Power

Sovereignty of the People is the primary source from which the Constitution derives its validity. Constitutional doctrines and concepts such as the separation of power and Constitutionalism therefore must be defined and interpreted to give effect to the concept of sovereign power of the people.

by S. Sarath Mathilal de Silva- 
( March 21, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The concept of sovereignty has a different connotation in the field of international law. When the term ‘sovereign’ is used by writers on international law, it describes the position of a State – whether a State is independent or whether it is subject to foreign domination. On the other hand the sovereignty’ in the municipal law involves a discussion of the extent of the law making powers of the main legislative authority.
The Independence Constitution was construed by the courts as conferring on the judiciary the power of judicial review, an aspect of judicial power of the constitutionality of legislation. Both the 1972 Constitution and the 1978 Constitution expressly precluded the judicial review of enacted legislation and limited it to judicial review of Parliamentary Bills within a limited period. The Constitution of 1978 by Article 3 proclaims that “In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise”.
The 1978 Constitution provides essential links between the concept of sovereign power of the people as acknowledged in the preamble and Article 3 and the Judiciary by creating opportunities for the Supreme Court to supervise legislative and executive action which might be violative of that concept.

Judicial power

The judicial power is concerned with the ascertaining, declaration and enforcement of the rights and liabilities of the parties as they exist or are deemed to exist at the moment the proceedings are instituted.
Article 4 (c) of the Constitution enacts that: ‘the judicial power of the people shall be exercised by Parliament through Courts, tribunals and institutions created and established, or recognized by the Constitution, or created and established by law, except in regard to matters relating to the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and of its members, wherein the judicial power of the people may be exercised directly by Parliament according to law.’
With regard to judicial response to this provision against the background of Article 3 of the 1978 Constitution, at the outset, reference may be made to the determination of the Supreme Court with respect to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill. Clause 15A (1) of this Bill sought to empower the Minister to make order that a person be kept in the custody of any authority, which in effect meant that a person in judicial custody stood removed from such custody and placed under Ministerial custody. It was contended on behalf of the petitioner that this would permit the Minister to substitute his order of custody in place of the order of remand made by the High Court, in violation of Article 3 read with Article 4( c) of the Constitution. Upholding this submission, the Supreme Court determined that:
‘this constitutes an interference with a judicial order and is inconsistent with the provisions of Article 4(c) read with Article 3 of the Constitution, and must therefore be passed by a 2/3rd Majority and approval by the people at a Referendum as provided in Article 83 of the Constitution.’
This decision may be compared with the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court in respect of the National Housing (Amendment) Bill. This Bill sought to confer power on the Commissioner of National Housing to order payment of compensation for improvement effected by person to whom State land has been given by an instrument of disposition and where such instrument is cancelled. The Bill also provided for an appeal to the Minister from the said order of the Commissioner. Commenting on these proposed provisions Supreme Court held that they appear to confer on the Commissioner a judicial power to decide the quantum of compensation.
The remedy against such an order of the Commissioner was only a right of appeal to the Minister which the Supreme Court held to be a conferment of judicial power which is in consistent with the Constitution, and may be passed only by a special Majority as required by the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 84. It will, however, cease to be inconsistent if it is amended by granting the appeal either to a Court of Law, to a tribunal or to an institution established by law, for example, a Board of Review may be constituted under this law for the purpose of deciding an appeal’.
Although the Court held that the powers sought to be conferred by the Bill on both the Commissioner and the Minister amounted to judicial power no reference was made to Article 3 which in other cases had been held to impinge on Article 4 of the Constitution.
Apart from this the legislature itself does not appear to have acceded to the suggestion made by the Supreme Court to modify the Bill in bringing it to a form not inconsistent with Article 4(c). In the result Section 60(2) (a) (ii) and 60(2) (b) of the present National Housing (Amendment) Act has found its way to the statute book in total disregard of the ruling of the Supreme Court. Indeed, the lack of a procedural mechanism in the Constitution to ensure compliance with directions given or suggestions made by the Supreme Court, is a major drawback of our Constitution.
The Proscribing of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Others similar Organizations (Amendment) Bill, sought to extend the period of operation of the parent statute by a further year. Section 7 of the parent law conferred on the Minister the power to forfeit to the State of moneys, securities or credits and movable or immovable property of the proscribed organisations in the hands of any person. The Supreme Court held that: ‘the power to make such an order of forfeiture is, in our view, the exercise of judicial power……. Section 7 is therefore in conflict with Article 4(1) ( c) of the Constitution, which sets out that the judicial power of the people should be exercised by Courts, Tribunals ……We, therefore, determine that the Bill under consideration by us is inconsistent with the Constitution and requires to be passed by a Special majority’. Another important constitutional determination involved is the State Lands (Recovery of Possession) Amendment Bill. The parent Act had provided for a ‘quit notice’ to be served on a person who in the opinion of the competent authority contemplated by the Act was found to be in unauthorized possession or occupation of any State land. The proposed Bill provided inter alia that ‘No person shall be entitled to any hearing or to make any representation in respect of (such) a notice’. Responding to this clause the Supreme Court ruled that it ‘appears to us to be inconsistent with Article 4 (c) of the Constitution in that it seeks to oust the exercise by the Court of the judicial power of the People……’

Singharasa case

The petitioner in Singharasa v the Attorney-General (2006), had been indicted for trial before the High Court under Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, under charges, inter alia, for having conspired to overthrow the lawfully elected government.
After conviction by the High Court, his appeal to the Court of Appeal being dismissed (subject to a reduction in the sentence), an application for special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was also refused.
Thereafter, the Petitioner sought to have the said order / judgment of the Supreme Court revised and / or reviewed and to have the said conviction and sentence set aside on the basis of, and pursuant to, the findings of the Human Right Committee in Geneva established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which the President as Head of State had acceded to and had made a declaration inter alia recognizing the competence of the Human Right Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Referring to the distinction between the Monistic and Dualist theories and holding that Sri Lanka fell into the latter category and drawing attention to the exercise of (governmental) executive power of the President to enter into treaties in terms of Article 33(1) which is subject ‘to the mutations thereto in the context of sovereignty as laid down in Articles 3, 4 and 33(f) of the Constitution’.
The Chief Justice held that the President, not being the repository of plenary executive power as in the case of the Crown in the UK, nor the repository of the legislative power of the people as decreed in Article 3 read with Article 4(a) and 75 (which lay down the law making power) exemplified by Article 76(1) as well which reveals the scope and content of the President’s power to exercise legislative power (and there being no material showing that the President had any authority from Parliament, post or prior to making the impugned declaration, the President’s accession to the Optional Protocol in 1988 and the Declaration made was inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and was therefore ultra vires.

Human Rights Committee at Geneva

With regard to the President’s accession to the said Optional Protocol as Head of State and Government, the Court held that, the President’s said actions were also ‘a purported conferment of a judicial power on the Human Rights Committee at Geneva to vindicate a public law right of an individual within the Republic and (is) inconsistent with the provisions of Article 3 read with Articles 4 (c) and 105(1) of the Constitution’. It is here not intended to assess the Supreme Court ruling in the context of International Law.
Whatever the observations may be that have been made in that context with regard to its consequences and effect, it cannot be disputed that, the petitioner in the case was seeking to have his conviction set aside or to secure a retrial on the basis of the findings of the Human Right Committee at Geneva referable to the President’s said accession and declaration, after his conviction had been confirmed by the apex Court of Sri Lanka.
Undoubtedly this is a situation brought about by the purported exercise of executive power by the President, which power is also reposited in the people, but without reference to the people at least through the conduit of the people’s legislative power vested in Parliament, with or without necessity for a referendum. It is submitted with respect that, whatever bearing that ruling may have on International Law, the said Supreme Court’s ruling must rank as a bench mark in upholding the concept of sovereign power of the people as contained and entrenched in Article 3 of the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Sovereignty of the People is the primary source from which the Constitution derives its validity. Constitutional doctrines and concepts such as the separation of power and Constitutionalism therefore must be defined and interpreted to give effect to the concept of sovereign power of the people.
The whole structure of the Constitution is founded on Article 3. Article 4 of the Constitution is complementary. Consequently, in the event of a conflict or an apparent conflict between the two articles, Article 3 must necessarily prevail, for the ultimate source of power is the people.
Section 3 of the first Republican (1972) Constitution merely acknowledged the concept of sovereign power of the people linking it to the political mandate theory. In contrast, Article 3 of the present Constitution has been given entrenched status. Consequently, it is not only necessary but also imperative to look beyond the mere letter of the Constitutional document in as much as its spirit is not confined to that document.
(The writer is a retired Professor in Law, University of Sri Jayewardenepura)
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Amnesty International urges Sri Lanka to provide timeline for full implementation of Resolution 30/1

Amnesty International urges Sri Lanka to provide timeline for full implementation of Resolution 30/1

logoThursday, 22 March 2018

In Council Resolution 30/1 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,’ adopted on 1 October 2015, Sri Lanka committed to ensuring truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence of human rights violations which had previously been committed in the country.

Sri Lanka has taken some important steps towards delivering on these commitments, including ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, establishing a Consultative Task Force on Reconciliation, passing the amended Office on Missing Persons Act and appointing its members, and criminalising enforced disappearance.

Amnesty International is disappointed, however, by the lack of further progress, and in some cases backsliding, in particular with regard to addressing the thousands of enforced disappearances, ensuring protection of religious and ethnic minorities and human rights defenders, and repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act. More than two years after the adoption of Resolution 30/1, the Act is still being applied.

During its UPR in November 2017, Sri Lanka’s re-affirmed some of these commitments including to operationalise the Office on Missing Persons;1 to establish a truth commission, an office for reparations and a judicial mechanism with special counsel;2 to review the Prevention of Terrorism Act;3 and to legally recognise the crime of enforced disappearance.4

Amnesty International is very concerned that the government has failed to publish a timeline for the full implementation of Resolution 30/1, and that it rejected six UPR recommendations to do so.5

The establishment of a time-bound action plan is vital for victims, survivors and their families in their quest for truth, justice and accountability, and its continued absence sends a very discouraging message to victims and survivors, and to this Council, about the Government’s commitment to the full implementation of Resolution 30/1.

Amnesty International calls on Sri Lanka to urgently provide this Council with a time-bound schedule for the implementation of commitments under Resolution 30/1, to take immediate steps to guarantee accountability and reparations, to publish a complete list of detainees and those who surrendered, and to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka on 19 March during its 37th session. Prior to the adoption of the report of the review Amnesty International delivered this oral statement.


1 Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Sri Lanka, A/HRC/37/17, recommendations 116.63 (Germany), 116.76 (Slovenia), 116.77 (South Africa), 116.79 (Thailand), Sri Lanka’s voluntary pledges, para 128.

2 A/HRC/37/17, recommendations 116.77 (South Africa), 116.80 (Belgium), 116.87 (Ireland), 116.88 (Germany) and Sri Lanka’s voluntary pledges, para 128.

3 Sri Lanka’s voluntary pledges, para 122.

4 A/HRC/37/17, recommendations 116.62 (Sweden), 116.66 (Slovakia).

5 A/HRC/37/17, recommendations 117.37-117.43 (Italy, Argentina, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Namibia, Australia).

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OHCHR sees Sri Lanka falling short on its commitments by 2019

OHCHR sees Sri Lanka falling short on its commitments by 2019

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday expressed “much regret” over the slow progress in establishing transitional justice mechanisms in Sri Lanka.
Kate Gilmore, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN Human Rights Council today that OHCHR welcomes the Government’s constructive engagement with OHCHR and the human rights mechanisms, including its cooperation with visits of this Council’s Special Rapporteurs on human rights and terrorism; on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“We also welcome Sri Lanka’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan,” she said.
However she said it is with much regret that OHCHR must report slow progress in establishing transitional justice mechanisms in Sri Lanka.
She was speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today when making a written update on progress in promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka between March 2017 and January 2018.
Gilmore said that in the absence of concrete results or publicly available drafts of legislation, it seems doubtful that the transitional justice agenda committed to by the Government under this Council’s resolution 30/1 could be fully implemented before the next report of OHCHR in March 2019.
“We also regret that the commissioners of the Office of Missing Persons were only recently appointed, 20 months after the adoption of the legislation. Further there has been insufficient progress in returning land occupied by the military. Trust will not be rebuilt if land grabbing continues, nor without independent mechanisms established to determine fair compensations for land reserved for security reasons,” she said.
Furthermore, Gilmore said the authorities have yet to demonstrate with the willingness or the capacity to address impunity for gross violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.
“This strengthens the argument for the establishment of a specialized court to deal with serious crimes, supported by international practitioners. In the absence of such a mechanism, we call on Member States to exercise universal jurisdiction. We are also seriously concerned about multiple incidents of inter-communal violence, attacks and hate speech against minorities observed last year – a worry further exacerbated by recent developments that have occurred since the drafting of the report, including violence against Muslims in Kandy district that led to the proclamation of state of emergency for 12 days. Allegations of continuing use of torture and continued reports of harassment or surveillance of human rights defenders are more than worrying,” she added.
In light of the gravity of the matters mentioned and given the import role that the Council has played to date, Gilmore said the High Commissioner strongly advises that the Council continue to focus its attention on the human rights of the people of Sri Lanka and in particular on the processes in place for accountability and reconciliation. (Colombo Gazette)
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No confidence motion : UNF in unique position – win or lose, it is a winner !

No confidence motion : UNF in unique position – win or lose, it is a winner !

Analysis By Wimal Dheerasekera

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 21.March.2018, 6.45PM)  The no confidence motion against the government aimed at ousting  Ranil Wickremesinghe  the prime minister (P.M.)  of the United National front supported by  the government group  of president Sirisena together with the  Rajapakses’ alliance including Weerawansa and other groups is to be handed over to the speaker in a day or two.

Though various views are being expressed in connection with collection of all the signatures  by those who are engineering this ,the factual situation is ,  just one single charge  by a single individual would suffice for  the no confidence motion . The requirement of more  than 50% of the signatures  is unnecessary to hand over a no confidence motion. Such a requirement has to be fulfilled only when an impeachment  motion is being brought against a  president ,and which  has to be adopted with  a two third majority when a vote is taken.

A no confidence motion against the government is unlike that . Even  a single individual based on a single charge can hand it over to the speaker. The  latter can then include it in the agenda book to call for a debate , and at the voting if there is even a single vote for it over the 50% voting in favor , then the motion is successful. Otherwise it is defeated.
In case  the no confidence motion is successful , the entire cabinet including the P.M.  is defeated , not only a new P.M.  , a new government and  under  a new cabinet  another P.M. shall be appointed. Under article 19 of the constitution the government cannot be dissolved until  4 1/ 2 years have elapsed. Hence the collection of signatures  by those for the proposed no confidence motion is only to be construed as just a betrayal of their  own lack of faith in their own groups.
Be that as it may , what we are trying to reveal by this report is , this no confidence motion is a blessing in disguise  to the  UNF and the people who voted for it. According to our assessment  ,whether the no confidence motion is successful or is defeated , the UNF is a winner.

Reasons for that …

The fact of the matter is , the UNF  is now  relegated to an unofficial opposition in this consensual government. Yet because it has to carry on as a government , it is not able to articulate its woes to the people. 
It must be recalled president Sirisena and the UNF received the same people’s mandate, yet it is by now a well and widely known fact Sirisena dubbed Sillysena is now on the road to perdition after shamelessly and ruthlessly kicking and trampling that mandate. When he should respect it he had instead  defecated on it in public thereby incurring the wrath and curse of the people.
Baser instincts and inferior double crossing traits of turncoat Sirisena became manifest about a year ago, yet the UNF leadership did not make a proper evaluation nor took steps to oppose those standing  alongside  the people. The dire peril to which the UNF is now driven into is the outcome of those lapses.  ( When the no confidence motion is at the doorstep vis a vis a weak UNF leadership , let us hold back the discussion until after the motion)

How the government slid to the unofficial opposition position

It is common knowledge by now  how during the period of the last elections the UNF led itself into the unofficial opposition status and to the present dire peril . The no confidence motion steered forward along with the support of  Rajapakses and with the blessings of Sirisena is most decisive in the circumstances.
It is an incontrovertible fact Sirisena within 48 hours of his becoming the president changed colors so fast he even beat the proverbial  chameleon. Instead of discharging his onerous duties as the president in accordance with the solemn election pledges and promises he made , did a most detestable and despicable  pole vaulting act casting  aside the people’s mandate. That is , most shockingly began stooping to the lowliest levels to rescue the SLFP party which he himself moved heaven and earth to defeat. Finally he courted disaster so much so  his popularity has now plummeted  to a disgraceful 4 % .
However Sirisena through dubious and devious calculations arrived at a figure of 52 % vote base after adding SLFP’s 4  % , 8 % of UPFA , and Rajapakses 40 %  to claim and proclaim he is a winner with a majority. If  the resentment of Basil’s of Rajapakse’s group against joining with the double faced double dealer Sirisena was  not there , undoubtedly  many things would have changed possibly by now. It seems Basil’s  personal   animosities  would not go far  due to  his power greed , which is the view of  those who are well versed in politics .
It is a well known fact after the local body elections , Sirisena the political opportunist began acting counter to the aspirations and hopes of the people who voted for him at the presidential elections.That was why he obstructed the program of the UNF to distribute computer tablets to students and even  suspended the economic management committee of P.M. In other words , he drove the UNF to the position of an unofficial opposition  based on his 52 % illusionary calculations. If only there was no constitutional bar that  the parliament cannot be dissolved for four and half years , by now he would have dissolved parliament , and in keeping with his  characteristic unscrupulous and turncoat ways joined with the corrupt criminal Rajapakse brigand and gone for elections in spite of his grandiose loud promises he made during the last presidential elections that he would   flush out every crook and crony of the Rajapakses from the nooks and crannies , and mete out exemplary punishment.
Unfortunately for this renegade , that step could not be taken by him because he cannot oust the P.M. using his official powers . Thereafter , he tried every trick in the book including getting  a cabinet reshuffle done  ridding the UNF members to suit his ends  .It is a matter for rude shock , the president  even  at the time of writing this article had not gazetted the subjects coming under the purview of the ministers which at least he should have done  duly.
That is he has not created the official environment  for them to perform their duties. Deliberately he had put a spoke in the wheel.

Sirisena who did entrust the law and order ministry to Field Marshal Fonseka  in compliance with the UNF request , planned to  soil the image of the P.M. before  the minorities by foisting  that ministry on the P.M.  temporarily , and stoking  racial violence during that temporary period.

With that  sinister objective in view , he incited the racists to attack the Muslim minority .On top of that  he went to Japan with Gnanassara the racist rowdy monk who is always behind every racial violence and against whom there are umpteen criminal cases .Even before the racism flames have died down it is this same Sirisena who propelled a no confidence motion . His hope  was,   following  these diabolic maneuvers of his, to tarnish P.M.’s image , and  ensure P.M. does not receive the  support of Muslim M.P.s and that  they would not come to his rescue.

As Mahinda and Basil Rajapakses were not prepared to take over the government temporarily at this juncture , Sirisena  the notorious opportunist  aligned himself with Gotabaya . The  no confidence motion is  the product of those manipulations and machinations , which  is going to be handed over to  the speaker  in a day or two. Little wonder  , being  driven by political opportunism and cutthroat-ism ,   the no confidence motion is most inapt , out of place and out of time.

Victory for winners !

Why do we say the UNF which has currently slid to the position of an unofficial opposition and with nominal government powers are winners if the no confidence motion is won   ? 
If the UNF emerges victorious in the no confidence motion   , it will receive the blessings  which will create an environment for them to  form a separate  government jointly with the  Sirisena group that is with  them leaving out the pro Sirisena group  . It can also detach  itself from the consensual government and with a limited  cabinet of 30 members form a separate government while  exposing  the president , and  serving the interests and earnest desires of the people who voted them into power.
During the period of one and half years before the next presidential elections if that cabinet works together as one and at accelerated pace, the people’s mandate of today can be turned in their favor. There is not a trace of doubt villainous   president Sirisena  will be a stumbling block , but by hitting back his evil power with power , the journey can go on while clearly  proving to the people who the loquacious ‘animal’ is .
Primarily , towards that end , the people’s force  that is with  them  should be taken into their confidence.  Hostility should be met by hostility , and overpowered   because it is by that it can   definitely be demonstrated it is a government and not a used raiment.
The  no confidence motion is providing  the best climate to determine who are the enemies and who are friends .If only the UNF moves in the right  direction following the no confidence motion success , it is then and only then the UNF is on the road to victory. On the contrary even after the no confidence success if it is still to continue in the fold of faceless, rudderless and unscrupulous Sirisena safeguarding him , then 2020 will only spell doom to the UNF.

How to win if the UNF faces defeat in the no confidence motion  ?

In that event the UNF should come out of its cocoon of silence , and from  the unofficial opposition corner it is now driven into , and take the role of the official opposition. 
Sirisenas and Rajapakses ought to be allowed to run the government . If the new mandate has wanted that  , Sirisenas –Rajapakses cannot say the government cannot be run. Taking over the role of official opposition is infinitely better than be the unofficial opposition and remain as effeminate eunuch while  there is one and half years more for the next presidential elections.
If Sirisenas-Rajapakses are to run a government, undoubtedly comparison if any will be  with the UNF government of Ranil that is  the closest rival. Hence if the Sirisena –Rajapakse   government is to function  following the characteristic despotic ways of Rajapakses    : shielding  and safeguarding  crooks , committing  robberies, acting  lawlessly , suppressing  the media  and ruling  the people oppressively , they will during the one and half years  earn the wrath and resentment of the people to the point of rejection.
If the leadership issue can be resolved internally , and through proper tact and vitality  the opposition’s role can be duly  performed , and  certainly at the next presidential elections the UNF can march to victory . If Sirisenas and Rajapakses jointly run a government , there are many instances where the TNA , JVP along with UNF took  the opposition position . Battling and winning is simple .
The UNF which already has a 31% vote base joined with the 15 %  vote base of the  minority parties will have a total of 46 % people’s support . The period of one and half years is long enough to organize and build the vote base to 50 % and over , if a president of its own is to be appointed. ( The 5 % vote base of the JVP has not been considered) In all probability contesting the presidential elections while  being in the opposition will be far better than contesting while being with the government . What is paramount is picking a sure ‘horse’ accepted by the country and one that can win hands down.  Therefore it is our analysis ,losing the no confidence motion is more advantageous than nursing  hopes relying on a not too far away  future which is uncertain .

Under the circumstances , the UNF if it wins  is a winner  in the no confidence motion to be handed over in a day or two  ,and  is still a winner,  even if it loses .

By Wimal Dheerasekera

Translated by jeff
by     (2018-03-21 13:29:48)
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Non-academic staff grievances to be solved before April

Non-academic staff grievances to be solved before April

State Minster of Higher Education Mohan Lal Grero said today that the government is putting its best effort to resolve the grievances of university non-academic staff before April.
He said this in Parliament, today.
Grero further said that the issue was discussed again today at a meeting held with the General Treasury in order to bring about a swift solution.
Pointing out that the non-academic staff has not received their salaries for this month and they will also not receive their bonus payments for the New Year eve, JVP MP Nalinda Jayatissa warned that if the government fails to provide a viable solution soon they will continue to strike.
Pathirana questioned as to why the agreement on monthly salary allowances between the non-academic staff, the University Grant Commission and the Higher Education Ministry is not implemented.
Grero in response said, “We came upon this agreement in 2016. The agreement only indicated that the government will try its best to solve this issue. It said that we will attempt to pay 75percent of the monthly salary within a period of five years to solve the monthly salary issue they are facing. Even though all the above mentioned institutes have agreed to this solution, the General Treasury is still is not in favor of this agreement.”
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Why Ranil is still needed

Why Ranil is still needed

Thursday, 22 March 2018

logoThe Joint Opposition move to pass a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will come a cropper. Ranil knows that best as he has tersely told a group of opposition pollies (Australia slang for ‘politicians’), “Come on! Present the motion in Parliament and we will defeat that.”

His own UNP MPs, he advised not to panic over the motion because it has not even been presented to the Speaker. In his 40-year-long political history Ranil Wickremesinghe has never been observed panicking. What is it that invests him with such an emotional state? His savvy knack about Sri Lankan politics. He knows the jokers he is dealing with him.

Pradarshanaya or showmanship

Yes, the latest move by JO and its veritable leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was described by someone the other day as a “pradasharanaya,” or “gimmick exhibition.” Mahinda is brilliant on this kind of showmanship and it has borne him success. Soon after he lost the 2014 presidential elections and the general elections the following year, Mahinda commenced ‘Mahinda Sulanga’. That was a series of public meetings beginning with Nugegoda about which Dayan Jayatilleka went into raptures.

Mahinda knows how to get crowds and arrange a show of them. He did it at his election meetings when the front row of his audience was studded with his human shield of supporters whom he carried with him wherever he went. Women were lined up by the ropes and they would simply rush to try and touch the divinity as he waded through. They failed to touch even the many golden rings around his wrist and the Indian charms. Yet, the show was what was important. The frenetic effort!

As Mahinda would eventually ascend the stage, dressed in his red kurakkan satakaya, a kid or an aged person would materialise for the King to display his human touch. Mahinda kisses the kid; if it were an aged person, the latter would “try” to bend in two before the monarch and, once again, the monarch would show a ‘humility,’ by disallowing such genuflection. Media cameras and drone cameras recorded all this. Taxpayer-funded TV media went blast.

The meeting can now start

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s showmanship is his real asset in the political gameplay. It works and pragmatic philosophers would tell us that what works is truth. Ranil Wickremesinghe fails miserably on this skill. He simply is not up to that. On the other hand, Ranil is often seen in a simple white shirt and pants or in a Western suit complete with tie. Mahinda’s satakaya beats the tie and that resonates with the Buddhistic nationalist stream whom he is tailored to. Ranil cannot do that. Even before the Mahanayakes, Ranil is often seen in shirt and tie. I have never seen him carrying babies.

Our selfish, loony, pollies

The sharp, outstanding distinction between the two images represent one important political truth about the general behaviour of our pollies. They are generally a set of selfish, loony blokes who creep into Parliament to make a buck and try to remain there by showmanship or pretence acts. Most of them are ignorant and over 60% have not passed the O/Levels.

Mahinda Rajapaksa plays into and symbolises that deeply disturbing trend. Such mind-frames cannot produce healthy political outcomes for the country. Their policies and decisions are intended to get over the moment. The short term is what they eye. Painful long-term decisions are anathema.

Liquidity of political alliances is a defining consequence of this attitude. Parties are not the thing but self-interest is. Mahinda picked up this part of the opportunistic psychology of our politicians when he famously stated that he runs a barber saloon where MPs can walk in and walk out. What an amazing metaphor!

I recently re-read philosophers who said that the world and life is absurd and merely governed by chance. Even the greatest mind of our generation the late Stephen Hawking said something like that. Well, if nothing else is absurd, the Sri Lankan polity is absurd.

In such a context, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s very dress appearance seems an anachronism. His effort toward installing good governance systems in the island is subject to ridicule by our pollies. Even most of his own party men do not grasp the need for such systems. The substantial gains that his Government has realised thus far goes undervalued. Ranil’s far-seeing economic policies and strategies are just a nuisance as they have “no impact” on the voting public.

Bond issue

To be honest, Ranil Wickremesinghe hasn’t been all that cautious about many of his doings. The Presidential Commission into the so-called bond scam had suggestively advised the Prime Minister to be more cautious about his appointments. (I say, ‘so-called,’ because I remain not convinced that any scam has in fact taken place here.) The Commission hasn’t, however, found him or any Minister as being involved in the ‘scam.’

Ravi K’s issue is not directly related to the incident and so the Commission wanted allegations relating to the latter separately investigated. Be that as it be, the fact is that the JO campaign has succeeded in making the Prime Minister be perceived by the public as a guilty party. It is the success of showmanship over fact.

Bull’s-eye of Opposition attack

Ranil is dragged into that focus all the time and attempts are being made to disgrace him. All Opposition guns are on Ranil. As a historical fact, we can recall how Ranil Wickremesinghe had been the bull’s-eye of the Rajapaksa attack even during the time the latter had been in government. He was labelled a failure; unable to win elections. This criticism had being contrary to the position that he had succeeded in being Prime Minister three to four times. At the last general elections, Ranil broke all records by registering over 500,000 votes in his electoral district. This was no mean achievement.

About 20 years in opposition, Ranil managed to keep his party together without breaking up against the intense manipulative pressure of the Rajapaksa Government. His party leadership was challenged twice by his own men. However, Wickremesinghe showed considerable understanding and emotional management to override all these attempts – subtle and direct – and to ride high. In this way, Ranil’s political resilience is outstanding. One cannot easily put Ranil down as, like a rubber ball pressed to sink in water, he keeps coming up. He had predicted the UNP would form a government two years before it did this time and so that happened.

From this perspective, the myriad attempts by Opposition over the years to target Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks more of his attackers than of him; for that demonstrates that Opposition’s number one bogey man is none other than Ranil Wickremesinghe. That throws light on Ranil’s effectiveness and not of his weaknesses.

In fact, the Opposition shows poverty in their futile efforts to paint Ranil Wickremesinghe as a corrupt man. There have never been any charges of corruption against him. No charges of murdering dissentient journalists. On the other hand, of Mahinda Rajapaksa we have a totally opposite picture. The former Chief Justice Sarath Silva openly alleged that Mahinda, while he was Prime Minister, had been seriously guilty over siphoning off tsunami funds to private bank accounts. The present Commission about serious financial crimes have recommended that Mahinda and some other ministers of his regime should be deprived of their civic rights. White vans and gruesome murders marked the former regime.

The contrasting picture is that Ranil Wickremesinghe still remains Mr Clean. He is also Mr Cool. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political skills are proven. So is his vision capacity. To me, the most important thing about this much-maligned and underestimated leader is that he stands for the values that can keep Sri Lanka together. Ranil Wickremasinghe, even in his depressed moments, never resorted to racial slogans; never touted Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. He is provenly multicultural. He is also modern in economic and political outlook.

To add to these attributes, Ranil is one of the handful in Parliament who possess knowledge of social and economic policy. The nation needs him to remain. He may groom a successor – that’s a different matter. The fact is that he is still needed if Sri Lanka is to be saved from the mad world of selfish loonies. Among all the bunch of political leaders that Lanka now has, Ranil Wickremesinghe stands alone – still unmatched.

(The writer can be reached via

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Shame ! Wijedasa’s blatant lie against proposed appointment of special high courts to eliminate delays exposed !

Shame ! Wijedasa’s blatant lie against proposed appointment of special high courts to eliminate delays exposed !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 21.March.2018, 6.45PM) The statement made by ex minister of justice Wijedasa Rajapakse (of all people) that the proposed Judicial organization draft bill has been declared as illegal by the Attorney General via a 19 page document  is an absolute lie !  and this ex minister has deliberately tried to mislead the public , said the state counsel before the supreme court (SC)  day before yesterday (19 ). This draft bill is designed to appoint special    high courts each with a three judges panel to eliminate delays in courts when hearing cases of corruption and crimes.
The media in SL which has nowadays descended to unbelievable sordid levels gave a huge publicity to the rascally ex minister ‘s  statement , however  failed to give adequate publicity to the revelation made by the state counsel exposing the discarded minister and his blatant  lies.
The abridgement  of the revelation made by the state counsel is hereunder …
About one and half years ago , minister Sarath Amunugama made a proposal to cabinet to appoint  a special criminal investigation Commission  ( vested with  judicial powers on the same lines of the   Commission which heard cases pertaining to the 1971 rebellion ) with the aim to avert   delays in courts when hearing cases of frauds and corruption  .

The draft was  prepared by Nigel Hatch , an attorney at law.  Since Hatch was not famous , the cabinet at that time decided to forward the draft to the AG to obtain his advice.  It was Wijedasa Rajapakse who was the justice minister under that cabinet then . The AG at that time via a 19 page document explained , under the 1978 constitution , an Institution  to mete out punishment outside the country’s judicial system  cannot be established.

Consequent upon this , Amunugama’s proposal was put aside , and through a parliamentary  sectoral  committee represented by all parties this was explored. It was then it came to light under our  ‘wonderful’   judicial system , in SL it takes about 17 years to conclude a case and mete out punishment to a criminal.( This  is not surprising when crooked ex  justice ministers like Wijedasa contributed to injustice and abetted criminals instead of improving the judicial system).
Following the Parliamentary sectoral committee report the cabinet entrusted the AG with the task of appointing a court constitutionally in conformity  with the judicial system , to hear fraud and corruption  cases expeditiously .It is following this the new judicial development draft bill was born after  a draft bill committee headed by the AG . This initially contemplated the appointment of three High courts each with a panel of three judges to hear cases continually . In order to draft this bill the AG and his committee met 68 times. 
It is despite  this backdrop the discarded ex minister of justice Wijedasa told lies shamelessly, profusely   and brazenly. Going by  his conduct , one can imagine  what amount of perversion of justice could have taken place when he was the minister .
The AG at that time submitted the  19 page document in connection with Amunugama’s proposal , and not in relation to the present Judicial development draft bill which has been  prepared by the AG himself . Hence the ex minister  of justice Wijedasa  lying this shamelessly while knowing the actual position is most deplorable and detestable.
The State counsel before the SC gave details in this regard supported by  evidence yesterday 
by     (2018-03-21 13:32:17)
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Re-Enacting Rajapaksa Tamashas: Health Ministry Busts Millions Of Public Funds To Glorify Rajitha

Re-Enacting Rajapaksa Tamashas: Health Ministry Busts Millions Of Public Funds To Glorify Rajitha

The Ministry of Health in the guise of a confab on health development initiatives has spent millions of rupees for a tamasha at the BMICH on Marhc 9, 2018 that was all about glorifying Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne, Colombo Telegraph learns.

logoAccording to a Health Ministry official present at the event and who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, the ‘National Conference on Recent Health Development Initiatives’ was a large gathering of medical administrators with over 2000 invitations having been sent out.
The five and a half hour ‘conference’ included treating the audience to various videos of ‘health sector development initiatives’ featuring Senaratne, dance items and a testimonial glorifying Senaratne by someone who underwent a heart transplant.
Apparently students of paramedical training institutions and ministry employees had performed theatrical performances once again to elevate the image of the minister, the source told Colombo Telegraph.
The source added that the entire exercise was reminiscent of events organized at public expense to glorify Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was President.
The invitation cards, food and drink for participants, production costs for videos, payment for dancing performances, fuel, and the total man hours lost in forcing officials to participate and rehearsals for theater performances would add up to several million rupees, he added, pointing out that the time and money could have been better spent actually serving the people.
Colombo Telegraph’s attempts to reach Senaratne for comment did not meet with success.

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President congratulates Russian President

Watch: CCTV footage shows alleged ballot-stuffing in Russia elections

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
President Maithripala Sirisena congratulated President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Monday in a Twitter message, on the latter’s recent electoral victory.
“Congratulations to President of Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin on his solid victory of the Presidential Election,” he wrote on Twitter. “We are confident in the Russian people’s ability to achieve new level of progress in the country’s development under his leadership in the new term.”
President Putin was re-elected for a six-year term by a wide margin on March 18.
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Racism, riots, and the Sri Lankan State

Racism, riots, and the Sri Lankan State

Terrorism exercised blatantly in the streets by violent, extremist nationalists to harm other religious or ethnic groups should not be met with silence – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion” – Simone de Beauvoir

logoThursday, 22 March 2018

Only when fear and hatred is spread by extremists does serious reflection haunt a community. The teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, a seeming paradise hanging off the Indian subcontinent, has been provoked yet again. Within a few hours arose an ugly incident of violence, the hill country’s vibrant colours serving as a backdrop to death and destruction – a systematic break-down of lives, religious spaces, and personal property.

The July 1983 riots, insurrections quashed in 1971 and 1989, and 2014 Aluthgama riots were among these unexpected bursts of violence. In all cases, the unprepared State reacted slowly before resorting to brutal force to restore order. How could Sri Lanka become riven by hostility and terror in a short time? Recent events suggest that this question deserves further attention and study to better inform the work of policymakers.

A nation plunged into a state of emergency with a heavily State-influenced media is the present situation in Sri Lanka. Terrorism exercised blatantly in the streets by violent, extremist nationalists to harm other religious or ethnic groups should not be met with silence, especially in a town that treasures the Buddha’s sacred Temple of the Tooth, symbolising the purity of the words of non-violence uttered by the Buddha. Extremists should be punished to restore the rule of law in society, regardless of the religious or political affiliations of the perpetrators.

Violence was sparked by the death of a Sinhalese Buddhist man on 4 March, who was allegedly attacked by three Muslim men due to a traffic accident in Teldeniya. Following this, a state of emergency was declared by the Government. The last time a state of emergency was in place was during the country’s 26-year civil war with the Tamil Tigers.

During the quarter century-long war, one of the most significant incidents that triggered communal violence among the Sinhala Buddhist majority and the Tamil minority was the 1983 riots. Yet neither the majority of Sinhalese Buddhists nor Tamils were part of the riots. It was terrorist, extremist nationalists – mainly Sinhalese Buddhists – who set off anti-Tamil pogroms in the south. The Government at that time was silent and prominent members of the majority religious community, including the preachers of Buddha’s words of ‘Ahimsa’ (‘do no harm’), were also silent, as in the present.

The recent racially and communally-minded riots by certain sections of the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community targeting the Muslim minority was a warning of the deteriorating threads holding together Sri Lankan society. Yet it was several days later that the Government tightened its control over the ugly situation by blocking social media platforms through which ‘fake news’ was disseminated to create more tension. Stories of exploding Muslim population growth and surreptitious administering of sterilisation pills to Sinhalese were attempts to escalate the situation by pandering to extremist elements promoting hatred and fear.

The vulnerability to social distress and division caused by ‘fake news’ in Sri Lanka is high in the persisting shadow of ethnic tensions. The central aim of a nation on a path to reconciliation should be to ensure zero tolerance for hate speech and violent nationalism.

On a recent visit among fellow South Asian and East Asian researchers at a program on ‘Digitisation in Asia and Germany’ with a special focus of tackling fake news, this author was present at the Berlin Ministry of Information and Foreign Affairs on the day the Ministry’s website was hacked. Not limited to smaller nations like Sri Lanka but cybercrime prevails.

Tackling fake news is a costly and serious challenge. Sri Lanka could learn from Germany that has taken rigorous steps to tackle fake news deemed dangerous to public peace and discourse. The 2018 Network Enforcement Act (NEA) aimed at major social networks without much radical alteration to existing German law is only a restatement to German panel code. Due to this social media companies are now setting up legal compliance offices specifically for the NEA. Facebook in Germany has hired over one thousand content moderators to comply with NEA.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s Government has taken measures to curb the tension. However, it should not allow violent nationalists to routinely and easily spread their message, as this runs counter to the Government’s wishes to achieve sincere reconciliation in the country. A Sedition Act to prevent hate speech and swift action could ease the situation and assist the process of seeking ethnic harmony.

The perpetrators of these vicious attacks should be punished. If unpunished, extremists working towards different agendas will take advantage of the opportunity to dominate the narrative and shape the national agenda. ‘Fake news’ and misinformation could construct a powerful narrative that would gain traction and detrimentally influence society. This would be a dangerous path, perpetuating and exacerbating instability across the nation. Examples of this phenomenon have played out globally in recent years, from the US and Europe to the far corners of Asia. Yet Sri Lanka cannot become another Myanmar and it is the role of majority Buddhists and clergy to ensure this is not the case, to defeat the ideologies of extremism.

To make sense of, and exist safely in the midst of rising extremism and violent nationalism, it is vital to promote the true essence of various religions. An attempt to address fear and hatred spread by extremism can be made by placing emphasis on the ethic of non-violence.

This task will require a sturdy and responsible government safeguarding justice and the rule of law. But as the past reflects, it could also choose to do little while leaving the innocent to burn.
[The author is a visiting Professor for Geopolitics and Global Leadership at the Northern Kentucky University (USA) and the Director General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka, this article was initially published by the IPCS, New Delhi for Dateline Colombo, the views expressed are the author’s own.]

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