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Massacred Tamil students and assassinated TNA MP remembered in Amparai

Massacred Tamil students and assassinated TNA MP remembered in Amparai

Residents of Kanchirankuda in Amparai district remembered the massacre of seven Tamil students, shot and killed by Sri Lankan special task force (STF) troops in 2002.
Home15Oct 2018
The TNA MP A. Chandranehru who was assassinated by the Sri Lankan government-backed Karuna group, along with several LTTE members including the-then head of the political wing in the East, E. Kousalyan, was also commemorated.
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EXPECTATIONS FOR THE OFFICE FOR REPARATIONS IN SRI LANKA – BHAVANI FONSEKA

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE OFFICE FOR REPARATIONS IN SRI LANKA – BHAVANI FONSEKA

Tamil mother waiting for her son to come back ( Image courtesy of Vikalpa)
Sri Lanka Brief14/10/2018
Parliament of Sri Lanka this week, passed into law the ‘Office for Reparations Bill’ (the Bill), the second mechanism promised within the transitional justice agenda. Though the noise on the Bill was somewhat muted unlike the lead up to the enactment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Act, polarised positions were still evident in the statements made by several in Parliament. This should come as no surprise considering the divisive statements made earlier by some in Cabinet when proposals were presented to provide compensation to former cadres. This deep polarisation, narrow notions of victimhood and the politicisation of processes that are meant to promote reconciliation are all deeply troubling in a country that has witnessed decades of cyclical violence affecting all communities.

No proper consultations held

The Office was promised in 2015 when it was included in the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 which was co-sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka. In 2017, the Government requested for more time to implement the commitments contained in the Resolution and received a further two year extension. In June this year there was a rush to introduce the Bill with just one consultation session organised in Colombo for select civil society members. The civil society made calls for broader consultations and shared proposals for potential amendments, but these were ignored and the Bill hastily gazetted and tabled in Parliament. In the enthusiasm to rush the Bill, limited attempts were made by the authorities to genuinely engage with victims and affected communities and to raise awareness among the public as to what reparations are, and how a future Office could function. This was confirmed recently when I spent a few days in the North of Sri Lanka where the lack of awareness on the new law was evident.

Lack of awareness among law makers

This lack of awareness was apparent during the Parliament debate where, barring a few, many MPs were not fully aware of what reparations are and how they can be beneficial for their own constituencies. In the absence of information and constructive debate, divisive positions have been emboldened. Some of the statements made by politicians also highlighted the lack of understanding of a Bill that was in the public domain for a few months, now. Either due to this lack of understanding or in an attempt to create mischief, false assertions were made during the debate which could exacerbate tensions and create mistrust among affected communities. It also highlighted the critical need to understand what reparations are and their potential impact in postwar Sri Lanka.

A pillar of Transitional Justice

Reparations are one of the four pillars of transitional justice, the others being, truth, justice, and non-recurrence. Reparations complement the other pillars and should not be treated as a separate entity. Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan in his speech during the debate recently, reiterated the need for truth and justice, and underscored why reparations are not a substitute to these. This is an essential point. The new law provides for individual and collective reparations and can also assist victims by way of providing material and symbolic support to assist with rebuilding their lives. If implemented in a comprehensive manner, reparation can directly and comprehensively benefit victims and affected communities across Sri Lanka.

Available to all victims

Reparations are a critical component for societies that have experienced past abuses. Reparations are a way of recognising the grievances of individuals and communities and providing them with appropriate remedies. They can also allow victims to be recognised and be treated as rights holders. Reparations as provided in the new law will be available to all victims of past abuses and are not meant for a select few.

Reparations are not new to Sri Lanka. Successive governments have provided various aspects of reparations with institutions such as, the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority (REPPIA) and others being tasked with administering these forms of reparation. REPPIA has had its own challenges, from a narrow scope to limited funds. We have also witnessed the lack of uniformity in how reparations are dealt, with multiple actors being involved with compensation schemes in relation to different disasters and conflicts in the past. This has inadvertently resulted in victim hierarchies where some victims receive greater compensation than others. The Office can address these anomalies by bringing the different reparation schemes and programmes within one entity and ensuring there is coherence and consistency in the future.

Worrying sections remain

The Office is meant to be an independent entity to define and implement reparations for all Sri Lankans. This means anyone across Sri Lanka can go before the Office. But, several worrying sections remain in the recently enacted law. One is the dependency on the Cabinet for the approval of policies and guidelines formulated by the Office (section 11(1)(g)). Recent debates demonstrated particular views held by some in Cabinet which can possibly colour any future approval process and ultimately impact the work of the Office.

Second is the role of Parliament. Section 22(4) provides that any policies and guidelines authorising the disbursement of funds require Parliament’s approval. This adds an additional layer of approval to what is meant to be an independent entity, potentially leading to delays and resulting in policies and guidelines being changed to address concerns raised by politicians.

Reparations are more mere compensation

The Office will have its own fund with identified funding sources which will be audited by the Auditor General. A lesson to learn from existing reparations schemes is to ensure that the Office has sufficient funds to provide reparations. Limited funds will negatively define reparations programmes, shutting out some victims and leading to the creation of victim hierarchies and divisions within victims and communities. Reparations, however, are more than mere compensation and every effort must be taken to design and implement comprehensive reparation policies, guidelines and programmes which address all dimensions of the suffering endured by victims.

Communications is critical

It is hoped, the process of appointment provided in the law will ensure that the five members to be appointed to the Office will be those with expertise and knowledge and be independent. The OMP took an unduly long time to be operationalised and one hopes the Office does not face the same fate. Equally important is the recruitment of staff with necessary expertise and skills, and ensuring regional representation so that people across Sri Lanka are able to access the Office. Further, communication is a critical area that requires considerable strengthening in order to educate the public as to what reparations are, the mandate of the Office and other relevant information. A concerted effort must be made on raising awareness and engaging with victims, affected communities and the larger public.

Time is of the essence. This month, the President promised to return state-occupied lands to their owners by the end of the year. The OMP has produced an interim report which contains several important recommendations requiring attention. Numerous victims of violence and conflict are still awaiting financial and social assistance. Challenges in memorialisation remain for many who lived through the war. All these and more come within the purview of reparations. We now have the law to provide for an Office. The coming weeks and months will tell if the Office is able to deliver and whether it goes beyond mere rhetoric to one that truly facilitates in genuine transformation.
Sunday Observer 

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Ailing imbalance between the rich and the poor

Ailing imbalance between the rich and the poor

Rev. Fr. Augustine Fernando (Diocese of Badulla)-Monday, October 15, 2018

There are three broadly distinct economic classes of people in Sri Lanka. The rich, the middle class and the poor, each of which could be sub-divided: 1. the richest to which the past and present politicians and their closest cronies belong and some of the business class and businessmen who also are in many ways beneficiaries of the favours of the ruling class whose material worth is calculated in the hundreds of millions. 2. The upper middle class who have inherited possessions of substantial worth that continue to bring good incomes along with those with prosperous businesses and the lower middle class who live off monthly earned salaries, small properties, investments and savings. 3. The poor, some of who are employed as minor staff while others do menial jobs or are self-employed earning a living for their day-to-day existence and the very poor among who are the old without any stable income and who have no one to look after them and those who have no income except what may be received as a ‘charity’ allowance from the government. (It is an irony that a throw-away dole is called charity. Charity is a self-sacrificing donation of oneself in fraternal compassion.)

The poorest of the poor who have no proper abode or food or clothing and do not know where their next meal is going to come from. Some of these poor people have found their way to elders’ homes managed by voluntary charitable and religious institutions who feel for the pain the poor go through.

The economic classes of the rich, the royals, aristocrats, corrupt politicians enjoying extremely high incomes widely differing from those earning incomes insufficient even to live, are not divinely ordained but an outcrop of an unjust man-made socio-economic phenomenon. Globally, extreme poverty is catastrophic: there are 327 million extremely poor people in Asia, 383 million in Africa, 19 million in South America, 13 million in North America besides a few more millions in other places of the world.

Visible to the keen observer is the wide gap between these classes of people. It is not only surprising but also indicative of a civilization and culture and a high level of self-respect on the part of the poor as well as their helplessness and weakness that in spite of the visible contrast between the rich and the poor, the animosity of the weak and the poor do not create frequent tensions against the rich or between the rulers and the helpless poorer citizens. This is also because the weakness of the poor will be forcefully suppressed by those in power if such a rebellion were to occur. In any case, narrowing the gap is not only improving a lot of the poor but also all getting more civilized and building the nation.
SRI LANKA’S RICH AND THE POOR

Life, as it comes, is not fair to everyone in many circumstances. All those who share life as rational human beings, have to make life human, fair, secure and livable for all, especially for the poor and disadvantaged who in their physical incapacity and powerlessness cannot do it on their own. The poor do not have decent houses, nourishing food, proper clothes. They also do not have benevolent and generous friends.

Poverty could bring on a misery that demeans life and makes the whole of society out of joint as it were. Though the able-bodied poor could earn their living by the sweat of their brow, their sweat is accounted of little worth in a society where the better off not only keep the poor man’s work at a low worth but also treat the poor with a certain disdain. The rich cheaply earn their ease by buying the labour of the poor at too low a price. Though this directly offends human dignity, the consciences of people of modern society do not seem to be pricked by it. The whole of society acts unjustly by the thousands of the poor people in it. One wonders what the sensitivity of the conscience is of the so-called leaders of workers, the trade union bosses, ministers of labour and of governments – people who have the power and could indeed usher civilized social reform – are and have been. In a way, they too seem to be socially insensitive as they too live off the poor and in a way to exploit them, even while shouting hoarse about human rights.

Almost three billion people, half of the world’s population, live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — on less than $1.25 a day. One billion children worldwide are living in poverty.

In Sri Lanka, 6.7% of the population live below the national ‘poverty line’ unable to get what is needed for life. Yet in South Asia, Sri Lanka rates high as its literacy rate, life expectancy and social indicators are nearly equal to those of developed countries. Sri Lanka’s education and health sectors have achieved that and Sri Lanka has reached the medium category in the Human Development Index. Yet due to poverty remaining a major stumbling block 2017 was named the “Poverty Eradication Year” for Sri Lanka and “Millenium Development goals were followed.

October 17th being Word Poverty Day, it is good to pay serious attention to the world unacceptably divided as it is between the Rich and the Poor.

Governments and modern economists of all types all over the world and of various ideologies speak of national economic resurgence and growth and the strategies that lead towards it, envisioning prospects of a wider distribution of growth, prosperity and well-being among the people and indeed of eradicating poverty that humiliates. All do not pay attention to the just and fair management and distribution of the national product but concentrate about the overall growth even when it is weighted as it often happens on the side of those who are already benefitting. Sufficient amounts always do not trickle down from the prosperous to the poor nor do the high earners duly pay their taxes. Indeed, they try every ruse to pay fewer taxes or even evade taxes altogether. Parliamentarians exempting themselves from taxes and earning from the duty-free import of vehicle and selling them and depriving the State of taxes, extending tax-free concessions to certain already privileged classes is the biggest of public scandals. Workers’ trade union bosses are deaf, dumb and blind in this regard.

Very often, the poor are like those who pick the crumbs that fall from the ‘masters’ tables’ and that does not improve their lot. They also do not always get justice for the humble and often menial work they honestly do – work that is very much needed the neglect of which could cause immense inconvenience and harm to everyone. It is work that is often undervalued and unappreciated by the whole of society. If the capitalist, liberal and Marxist socialist expert economists’ and national planners’ understanding of human dignity, human rights, democracy, equality, justice and fairness,
dignity of labour was sufficiently sober and moral and of good human quality, they would assess the quality and worth of human beings far more decently and value their work more in terms of wages. The intervention of public authority is absolutely necessary to bring about the overall right balance.

DIGNITY OF LABOUR

It has to be noted that menial work for which the pay is very low is handsomely paid for in other countries. People who would never think of doing such work here, such as cleaning streets and toilets, readily seek such jobs in Europe as the wages are high. In fact, on a visit to Rome, three years ago, a young Sri Lankan who was engaged doing such work came in his own new car to see my friend and me and took us for dinner to a good restaurant and was generous in his hospitality.

The poor suffer many disadvantages, the foremost of which is their being denied their human dignity and human rights along with a sense of respect and honour due to human beings. Many children of the poor forfeit their childhood by becoming child labourers and breadwinners for the family.

As child labourers, among the other many disadvantages, that they suffer from are their inability to even garner the benefits of free education and health services as well as other social and civic rights along with the manners and courtesies that come with a good upbringing and wholesome education.

All almost unconsciously though not maliciously or wickedly look on and relate to the poor not on a level of equality but at a lesser level. As every material thing and every capability and intellectual property gets measured and valued in terms of money, the capabilities of the poor get less than a value of even a pet dog of the rich. These measurements and attitudes do not enable a poor person to live a dignified human life in today’s society.

ILL-BRED POLITICIANS

Even government departments such as the Department of Education, the Police and the Armed Forces are sometimes used by governments in power to irrationally and unreasonably silence and subjugate the democratic voice of the poor and disadvantaged people. Ministers and bureaucrats have no time and patience to listen to the voice of the poor. In fact, it is the stupid and ill-bred ministers, deputy ministers and politicians wielding power who treat those they think are ‘below’ them in inhuman and indecent ways. Blokes such as those who are indeed the society’s scum. They have grabbed power and are far from bringing on a new civilization in which all people could live in keeping with human dignity, mutual respect and honour.

On the part of political power holders there shouldn’t be a vague desire but a determined will and the capability of improving a lot of the poor by mobilizing the natural, human, material, political and moral resources at their command. But this does not take place because the low education, the self-absorbed selfishness of the political power holders and their craving and greed for bribes and ‘commissions’ prevent them from a wholehearted commitment to not only to any social reformation and improvement project but even in solving the garbage problem for which too they expect bribes,
like in Meehotamulla and in the Uva Province. They direct their main attention to their lazy and unproductive kith and kin to whom they invariably distribute the funds, at their disposal, which belong to the people.

The intellectual poverty of these politicians makes their fragmented view of social reality produce a penury of vision that leads them to become greedy fellows who satisfy their hankering and low personal inclinations and completely ignore the civic dimensions and social responsibility of their mission as elected representatives.

The highly visible and socially unacceptable contrast between the rich and the poor cannot be transformed by the extremely corrupt politicians who have been in power for several decades and who are clever thieves who know how to rob and hide their illegal gains in secret hideouts. They create social tension and animosity by sowing racial and religious prejudice between the poor and the rich and powerful, pander to the addiction to alcohol among the riff-raff of society, sow violence among social classes and fish in troubled waters.

These lead to a spiral of violence and hatred that complicate and do not help solve social problems. Political and economic power is more concentrated than ever before in the hands of those who govern. All need to discover a dispassionate social and civic sense, sit down at a table, discuss what needs to be done and reasonably decide to do the reforms that are needed and execute them without violence and bloodshed. This needs an integrity of character not yet visible in the political, economic and professional fields.

In the corrupt political culture of Sri Lanka, the palatial residences of politicians and businessmen closely connected to every governing class are in no way symbolic of justice, fair play, equality of people, decency and recognition of merit.

Rulers also side with favoured groups and religious high ups who are made a new kind of princely class who create themselves into a newly rich privileged class above other people and even above the rule of law. Rising in importance again but finding its function limited to the slavish service of rulers, the upper bourgeois bureaucrats, shift their loyalty from the workplace, trade union and political party to the autocratic ruler’s palace. For ordinary people, administrative centralization and politically sanctioned half-baked socio-economic ‘reforms’ have the effect of loss of human dignity and freedom and of more rigid controls being imposed over their lives.

Only a determined and honest government of honest individuals could accomplish the desired reforms as man-made problems created by corrupt men and women could only be satisfactorily solved by honest rulers elected by citizens determined about electing persons of integrity to govern.

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Condemning NPC alone not warranted

Condemning NPC alone not warranted

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Never before in its history of a century and a half has the Sri Lanka Police and the IGP come in for so much criticism and even downright condemnation The President says that Jayasundara is not fit to be the IGP. The Minister in charge of Law and Order and his Deputy do not think so. The nation is confused. The media is having a field day.
A retired police driver who met me a few days back asked me, “Sir, why is the President gunning for the IGP. Whom to believe Sir. He even claims that the former President and the Army Commander Fonseka had run away from the country during the final stages of the War ; and it was he as the Acting Minister of Defence was the Commander in Chief when Prabahakaran was eliminated”. I had no answer.
Gulping the last bit of his cup of tea this police driver remarked, Ï wonder whether there is any official or even a Minister in the government capable of holding an inquiry against the IGP.”
I tended to agree.
It did not take long for the surmise of the old police driver to gain credibility.
On 4th October an English daily carried a prominent headline on the first page, “NPC like an Elders Home” The report stated, “Higher Education minister Wijedasa Rajapakse stated yesterday he was doubtful if the NPC that was established under the 19th Amendment (SIC) was turning into an Elder’s Home.
The Minister had gone on to say that even though the government expected much from the NPC it had not delivered what was expected from it. “We hope to reform the NPC in future.”
“Minister Rajapakse said activities of the underworld were beyond control due the influence of some politicians and high police officers.
“There are politicians and high ranking police officers behind the underworld. That is why it is beyond control.
“We expected solutions to these problems from the NPC. But it failed to perform.”
This is a damning indictment on perhaps the most important Independent Commission set up under the Constitution.
The opinion expressed by Minister Rajapakse cannot be dismissed lightly. He is one of the learned few in an OL – dominated Parliament. His statement that the underworld is beyond control because there are politicians and high ranking police officers behind it cannot be disputed.
These despicable politicians and police officers need to be identified and named and shamed. It is a pity that the word shame has lost its meaning and significance in this country. What better proof than the shameless admission by a few parliamentarians of having accepted cash cheques amounting to several millions from the first suspect in the biggest scam in the Country’s history.
If the police officers concerned have come to the notice of the NPC and the latter had failed to take any meaningful action blaming the NPC is justified. Calling it an Elders’ Home is not enough. It then becomes a “Home of Sinecures” that deserves to be scrapped. The public must be anxiously awaiting the NPC’s response to the minister’s comment that has received wide publicity.
However, the NPC cannot be expected to do anything to politicians who hob-nob with the underworld. Presidents, Prime Ministers and Party Leaders have shown no interest in disciplining errant or corrupt politicians. Nothing happens to these scum. With all the overpowering stench that emanates from them they shamelessly brave the corridors of power and the highest of social circles.
The final paragraph of the editorial of the Sunday Times of 7th Oct. ‘Policing he Police’ successfully sums up the plight of the Independent Commissions. “The 17” Amendment to the Constitution set up the NPC in a bid to stem the decline and politicization of the police over a decade ago. It was meant to give back the spine the Police lost over the years. But like the Bribery and Corruption Commission also set up under the 17th Amendment, the politicians clawed back and got the better of the situation. It reduced what were to be Independent Commissions to almost rubber stamps of the government as they succumbed to the sheer weight of political pressure that pervades the national life of this country. “
It is abundantly clear that the Independent Commissions have become paper tigers. It is tragic indeed that they have been rendered toothless by the very people that created them. By ridiculing and condemning the Commissions the government is only looking up at the skies and spitting.
The erudite Dr. Rajapaksa’s remark that the NPC is like an Elders Home disparaging elders in general is puerile, unethical insulting and unkind Surprisingly it came out of the mouth of a Doctor of Philosophy!
In conclusion, as an alert and active ‘Elder’ who in his day had been privy to doings both open and underhand of politicians as well as policemen I can emphatically state that the prestige reputation and honour of the inmates particularly the two retired police officers of this “Elders Home’’ remain undiminished. Regrettably, the same cannot be said of the abode of the Honourable types by the Diyawanna who hold the reins of power.
Edward Gunawardena
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IGP resigning next week is another crazed ‘50 weeks’ president’s ‘invention’ – full and factual story…

IGP resigning next week is another crazed ‘50 weeks’ president’s ‘invention’ – full and factual story…

-Chandrapradeep

LEN logo(Lanka e News -15.Oct.2018, 4.55AM) It was splashed across the front pages of Weekend newspapers that IGP Poojitha Jayasundara who was the first to be appointed impartially by the Constitutional Council of the good governance government is resigning next week. However we reveal taking full responsibility that this is only another of president Pallewatte Gamarala’s figment of imagination and ‘invention’..
These media coolies living on the crumbs falling from the kitchen table at Paget road who reported this had acted with such irresponsibility that they have not taken even the simple step of inquiring from the IGP or police media spokesman in this connection.

‘50 weeks president ‘

It is well to recall the presently embattled president who has another 50 weeks or so to remain in office once said , ‘if I am going I will set everything on fire’. It is in fulfillment of that threat the president while remaining as the head of the government is creating unnecessary issues for the government which were in fact hitherto non existent .
Once , he told a story about his own prime minister’s resignation. Then he brought a no confidence motion against him. Thereafter he said , the government is facing an economic predicament. Not enough , he told another lie that there is a conspiracy to murder him hiring his own informant who is receiving a salary from him. Another time he revealed he is going to form a temporary government, and on that excuse he had secret discussions with the rejected ace confirmed rogues who are absolutely against good governance government . Now his latest ploy in the series of lies and deceits is the fairy tale that the IGP is going to resign .
In these circumstances the ruling UNF government deserves a special award for putting up with such a crazy and cranky head of the government who had been a headless imbecile from the very inception .
In an earlier report the same writer exposed president’s “IGP mania” . Read …
The latest craze of the president to oust the IGP must be revealed to the readers..

He has told Mahinda , P.B. to prepare the budget…

The president returned from New York with the plan to arrest P.M. immediately and make people discarded confirmed rogue Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) the P.M. Part of that diabolic plan was to feed the story in the meanwhile that the P.M. was involved in the conspiracy , and to use Gamarala’s closest media coolies as well as the confirmed crooks Gammanpilas and Weerawansas of the Alliance to achieve that end.
Based on the promise made to MR who swallowed it wholesale even without butter , MR instructed P.B. Jayasundara to prepare the next budget. P.B. who reeled under the shock immediately informed Basil who was in America. He had told, at this juncture if the government is taken over let alone preparing the budget , it would not be possible to run the government even to the extent Ranil can without imposing tax burdens . P.B. has explained in case that happens, owing to the unpopularity of the government , even before actually going for elections and forming a government , that opportunity would be at their doorstep. Not only P.B. even Cabraal has opposed the preparation of the budget.
Basil who understood the gravity of the situation in SL terminated his holiday prematurely and returned to the country . He then slowly relieved MR of the deadly rope he had swallowed . Meanwhile the president who returned from New York began having secret discussions with Rajapakses when the P.M. was out of the country.
These underhand maneuvers were revealed to the media by MR himself which plunged the president into deep embarrassment.
MR after holding discussions with the president had quietly withdrawn from further discussions saying , the conditions shall be discussed with Basil. But now the president is in a deep dilemma unable to digest the conditions stipulated by Basil . The latter during an interview with a weekend newspaper today (14) had admitted that he met the president for the first time and did discuss.

Making MR the prime minister and arresting Ranil…

When the president was asked how he is going to make MR the P.M. during the discussions , he gave the answer, by explaining how Ranil was made the P.M. on 2018-01-08 when they were the minority . However when it was pointed out that is impossible under the 19 th amendment , the president had told Rajapakses , that can be resolved by seeking Supreme court intervention . Besides , by that time Priyasad Dep would have retired , and after appointing a CJ who is pro president he can secure a judgment in his favor, president had assured. In any event those had one impediment : The most important IGP remaining independent and impartial. It is now known that the IGP did not render any support to the attempt to arrest P.M.

By now the ‘assassination of president’ conspiracy has come to a close.

In this situation , the president having no option, is from Paget road residence now ‘inventing’ methods to create the necessary public opinion and climate to make the IGP to tender his resignation next week.
If president Gamarala is to cheat in the political game he must be a shrewd strategist or at least be intelligent .A lunatic can only screw up a screw loose Manjamala .Hence the writer wishes to conclude this article with one guarantee that the subterfuges and camouflages of Gamarala the loony from the loony bin however planned will finally end up in the loony bin or the garbage bin from where he originated.

Chandrapradeep

Connected report
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by     (2018-10-14 23:47:32)
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The Process That Brought In The New Chief Justice Is A Yahapālana Achievement 

The Process That Brought In The New Chief Justice Is A Yahapālana Achievement 

logo“What yahapalanaya essential aims at is to establish systems so that individual politicians and ordinary citizens are impelled to fall in line. Anyone who violates the laws of the land is automatically booked and hooked by the steel hand of the system.”
Cheers To Chief Justice Dep!
We saw His Excellency Priyasad Dep come, and now we see the latter going on retirement. The fact that a judge cannot get an extension is also sacrosanct; because if that was permitted it could lead to abuse, with judges giving decisions with a view to seeking extension. Justice Dep gave inspired leadership to the paramount doctrine of independence of the judiciary. The judiciary is the pinnacle of good governance that is known as yahapalanaya. Justice Dep leaves his position with the patriotic and ethical satisfaction of having helped to develop a strong system of good governance in his country. All praise to him!
Systems
What yahapalanaya essential aims at is to establish systems so that individual politicians and ordinary citizens are impelled  to fall in line. Anyone  who violates the laws of the land is automatically booked and hooked by the steel hand of the system. You touch a hot oven with the naked hand and you will burn your hand. In the same way, you offend the law and you get into trouble  as a matter of course irrespective of your personal standing. This is the system working. In this way, once the system is established the government need not have to depend on well behaved persons to ensure required outcomes. 
The sovereignty of the law ensures the sovereignty of the people, which is the foundation of democracy; the judiciary is the ultimate protector of the law and, by inference, of the peoples’ sovereignty. What has been accomplished by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is a system that ensures an independent system for the judiciary.
Recent History
Tensions may naturally arise between the executive arm of government and the judiciary. Sri Lanka did experience such conflicts even before the Mahinda Rajapaksa era. The executive would desire a judiciary that can be bent as it wants. Under JR Jayawardene we saw that tension in action. During that era we also observed an exemplary Chief Justice, Neville Samarakoon, refusing to carry out a JR whim.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s recent history has been tragically marred by unholy men in that high position of  public trust. We had former Chief Sarath N Silva once reportedly saying openly and shamelessly that he could have jailed Mahinda Rajapaksa if he wanted to, over the Tsunami episode; but that he saved him. What kind of talk was that? The CJ is not an emperor who has arbitrary powers to save or punish according to his whim anyone who comes before court. This statement implies that it is acceptable for the CJ to grant personal favours. Justice Sarath N Silva’s subsequent political gymnastics after retirement confirmed his misunderstanding of the role and status of the Chief Justice.
The treatment given by the then President and his government to another former Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, is also on record. The assumption of the Rajapaksa regime was that a CJ is there to give judgment in favour of the government and that if that be not done the government can brow- beat the CJ into retirement. This is what, sadly, happened to Justice Shirani. Former Chief Justice Mohan Pieris reportedly did further violence to his sacred role. The media reported that when Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in 2015, Justice Pieris had promised to give judgment in favour of the new government if he were appointed. I haven’t seen Mohan Pieris denying that report.
In this way, concerned and discerning Sri Lankans with a social conscience witnessed before their shocked eyes the open undermining of the doctrine of independence of the judiciary. This undermining process came in both ways: one by acts of commission and omission by the then President and his government. Two, by the reciprocative cooperation on the part of the holders of the high office of the judiciary. Some judges of poor quality were appointed on the grounds of their personal links to the government. This further enhanced the vicious mutually cooperative process.
Ensuring Independence in Selection

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Judicial independence in Sri Lanka

Judicial independence in Sri Lanka

“We have all been called upon to do our parts in an age-less process, we have entrances and exits. You are heirs to a great tradition. You are here to do your share and carry the torch forward. May the flame burn bright whilst the torch is in your keeping.”

by Priyasath Dep-
( October 14, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The outgoing Chief Justice Priyasath Dep gave leadership to reviewing the future of legal education in this country with a view to enhance its quality and to face the challenges of the modern era, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry iterated at the final ceremonial sitting held last Friday to bid farewell to the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Dep who served as the 45th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, was appointed on 2 March, 2017 and retired from his position last Friday (12).
Following is the full text of his speech:
Your Lordship the Chief Justice, Honourable Attorney General, Your Lordships’ the Judges of the Supreme Court, Your Lordships’ the Judges of the Court of Appeal, Honourable Judges of the High Court, Judges of the District Court, the Magistrates Court, Honourable Solicitor General , Learned President Counsel, my dear colleagues of both official and unofficial Bar, ladies and gentlemen.
I consider this a singular honour and a privilege to be entrusted with the task of speaking a few words on behalf of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in this ceremonial sitting which is being convened to express our gratitude to Your Lordship and to felicitate Your Lordship the Chief Justice on the occasion of Your Lordship retiring from the exalted position of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.
During Your Lordship’s relatively short yet tremendously productive tenure as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Your Lordship displayed great sense of pride and honour in carrying out Your Lordships’ duties and tasks to protect and preserve the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and the due administration of justice.
Independence, integrity, and competence
Your Lordship is also a living example of a fair and reasonable judge. Whilst Your Lordship was extremely courteous to the members of the Bar, yet firm towards the course of administration of justice and imparted Your Lordship’s duties with uprightness and honesty by being fearlessly independent in the thought process and in the ultimate delivery of Your Lordship’s judgement.
It was those attributes which gave confidence to all stakeholders that the rule of law will be guarded against all forces thus instilling confidence in the people of the Republic yet again.
It is in the said context I refer to a passage from the address on the Judicial Reform, Constitutionalism, and the Rule of Law by Justice Lewis Powell of the United States Supreme Court: “Independence, integrity, and competence are the hallmarks of a judiciary committed to upholding the Rule of Law and they are the principles for which a judiciary should be accountable”
Your Lordship was faced with one of the most daunting eras with a series of important and complex constitutional matters which touched the foundation of the rule of law.
Though times may have been proven difficult, Your Lordship’s uncanny ability, coupled with extraordinary intellect and the fearless attitude to meet ends of justice permitted Your Lordship to instil confidence in the judiciary.
Your Lordship’s judicial attitude in a multitude of judgements can be best described from a quotation taken from a legal classic written by Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, in his works on “The Nature of the Judicial Process” in the year 1921 which is even more relevant today: “The judge even when he is free is still not wholly free. He is not to innovate at pleasure. He is not knight-errant roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from consecrated principles. He is not to yield to sporadic sentiments to vague and unregulated benevolence. He is to exercise a discretion informed by tradition, methodised by analogy, disciplined by system, and subordinated to the primordial necessity of order in public life.”
Your Lordship kept away from the preconceptions, attitudes, and prejudices which made Your Lordship see each case without vengeance or undue favour.
Your Lordship’s judgements are a testimony of my thoughts.
In Your Lordship’s judgements and the rulings related to the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the determination on the reference as to the duration of the term of the office of the incumbent President of the Republic and several other important bills referred to Your Lordship’s consistently displayed commitment to uphold the rule of law, the principle of separation of power, and the role of apex court of the Republic as the guardian of the constitution and the citizens of the Republic.
Unbiased, fair, and well considered judgements
As embraced in the much-celebrated judgement of Noble Resource International Pte Limited vs. Ranjith Siyamabalapitiya and others, a bench of Your Lordship’s Court headed by His Lordship then Chief Justice Siripavan CJ and Your Lordship was a member held that: “Constitutions do not change with the varying tides of public opinion and desires, the courts should never allow change in public sentiment to influence them giving a construction not warranted by the intention of its founder.”
I must say, Your Lordship never heeded the populist views, but at all times acted in accordance to Your Lordship’s conscience. In the case of Hikkadu Koralage Don Chandrasoma vs. S. Senathiraja, Secretary of Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) and others, Your Lordship’s went on to impress that: “The labelling of states as unitary and federal sometimes may be misleading. There could be unitary states with features or attributes of a federal state and vice versa. In a unitary state if more powers are given to the units it could be considered as a federal state.
Similarly in a federal state if the centre is powerful and the power is concentrated in the centre it could be considered as a unitary state. Therefore sharing of sovereignty, devolution of power and decentralisation will pave the way for a federal form of government within a unitary state. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution devolved powers on the provinces. The ITAK is advocating for a federalist form of government by devolving more powers to the provinces within the framework of a unitary state. Advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism.”
Judicial pro-activism
I will fail in my duty if no reference is made to Your Lordship’s judicial pro-activism which was largely displayed when several members of the public challenged the manner in which certain legislation were carried through by the legislature allegedly in violation of the constitutional safeguards and the standing orders to bring amendments to the Provincial Council Elections Act at the committee stage of the Parliament.
Despite the presence of a constitutional ouster clause, Your Lordship thought it fit to grant leave to proceed with such applications which, according to Your Lordship, deserved the consideration of the apex court of the country in order to uphold the dignity of the court and the role of the Supreme Court as the apex court of the country as the guardian constitution in its content and spirit, though it was a dissenting order.
Therefore, Your Lordship, through landmark decisions and liberal jurisprudence considerably strengthened our democratic and pluralistic foundations and the commitment to rule of law. In doing so, Your Lordship protected the sanctity placed upon by the people in the apex court of the Republic and continued to remind each other of the constitution and of the constitutional duty of this Court to protect the rights of the people to uphold the democracy and rule of law in this country.
Without fear, favour, or prejudice
During Your Lordship’s tenure, whoever walked into Your Lordship’s Court and took part in proceedings had walked out feeling, no matter what the outcome may have been, that the ruling or the judgement which emanated from Your Lordship was an unbiased, fair, and a well-considered judgement solely dependent on the merits of the case as Your Lordship’s conscience dictated without fear, favour, or prejudice.
Your Lordship, in Your Lordship’s own way, gave leadership to relook at the future of legal education in this country with a view to enhance the quality of legal education and the Attorneys at Law produced by this country to face the challenges of the modern era by initiating a crucial reforms process to the entry into the profession and to legal education.
Your Lordship, amidst the busy schedule, recently amended the Supreme Court Rules to ease the litigants to prosecute or bring their dispute to Your Lordship’s Court by removing ageing practices which were no more logical to facilitate and further the administration of justice. Not to forget the amendment to the rule which Your Lordship was instrumental in bringing, to the attire of the lady lawyers very much to the delight of the female legal fraternity.
These are not my feelings alone, this expression of love and gratitude flows from each of us present here. Therefore, on behalf of the members of the unofficial Bar, let me make use of the opportunity to wish Your Lordship a happy retirement and to spend some quality time with your family, and have a long life and good health.
Let me conclude my address by quoting a great judge of the United States of America Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo when he welcomed several judges to the United States Judiciary: “We have all been called upon to do our parts in an age-less process, we have entrances and exits. You are heirs to a great tradition. You are here to do your share and carry the torch forward. May the flame burn bright whilst the torch is in your keeping.”
Certainly, the flame was burning bright whilst the torch was in Your Lordship’s keep!
Your Lordship never heeded the populist views, but at all times acted in accordance to Your Lordship’s conscience
Your Lordship, through landmark decisions and liberal jurisprudence considerably strengthened our democratic and pluralistic foundations and the commitment to rule of law
Your Lordship was faced with one of the most daunting eras with a series of important and complex constitutional matters which touched the foundation of the rule of law
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Statement issued by the National Peace Council Increased care for victims of conflict now possible

Statement issued by the National Peace Council Increased care for victims of conflict now possible

 2018-10-15
The passage of legislation establishing an Office for Reparations is another significant step forward in the transitional justice process aimed at healing the wounds of war and bringing a lasting solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict. In October 2015 the Government of Sri Lanka committed itself before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to embark upon a path of national reconciliation while meeting international standards.  The government pledges included setting up an Office of Missing Persons, a Truth Commission, an Office for Reparations and a Special Court.  The time period given to Sri Lanka comes to an end in March 2019.
The three-decade-long war led to immense human suffering amongst all the ethnic communities. The National Peace Council welcomes the government initiative to establish the Office for Reparations.  We are disappointed, however, at the relatively low parliamentary turn out to ratify the law with it being ratified by a margin of only 59- 43 in a parliament of 225 members.  It is a cause for regret that less than one-half of the parliamentarians saw it as their duty to attend the parliamentary sitting and to cast their own votes.  This lack of conviction amongst the parliamentarians, and their failure to vote in favour of the new institution may have been prompted by the campaign to falsely describe the Office for Reparations as a mechanism to give succour to the LTTE and thereby pave the way again for the division of the country. This is a false allegation and the people in general and victim population in particular need to be educated on this score.

“The three-decade-long war led to immense human suffering amongst all the ethnic communities. The National Peace Council welcomes the government initiative to establish the Office for Reparations”

 The National Peace Council calls on the Government, media and civil society to take special measures in this regard.
This is an opportunity for the government, political parties and public and civic institutions that failed in the past to make amends for our failures.   We believe that the Office for Reparations can provide a strong message of care to the conflict-affected populations living in all parts of the country due to the several conflicts that have taken place during the country’s post-independent history.  These include the recent anti-Muslim riots and the two JVP insurrections that took place in 1971 and again in 1988-89 in which much violence was perpetrated on
innocent people.
The legislation establishing the Office for Reparations leaves it to the new institution to set out the criteria regarding those who are eligible
for reparations.

“The passage of legislation establishing an Office for Reparations is another significant step forward in the transitional justice”

As the four mechanisms incorporated in the transitional justice process are related to each other, the findings of the Office of Missing Persons which has already been established will provide one basis for reparations. There will also be a need to have the consultation with the people who have been affected by conflict to identify eligibility criteria.  We call on the government and international community to fully resource the Office for Reparations so that it may have the capacity to deliver the material and non-material dues to those affected by conflicts that successive governments failed to resolve through peaceful means.
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Liberalisation of shipping: Fact or fiction?

Liberalisation of shipping: Fact or fiction?

logoMonday, 15 October 2018

Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera wrapped up the 2018 budget debate promising to end the country’s ‘nanny state’ approach, and expressed his determination to press ahead with radical liberalisation. He went on to say, “To do this we must be open to global trade, embrace competition and take on the world and win. Whilst the government will not be a nanny state, we do not forget the vulnerable and those who need the support of the State.”

Brave words no doubt, heralding a much needed change in overall approach. Among the industries targeted by the Minister for liberalisation was the shipping sector. What would this entail?
The protectionist era 
In the 60s and 70s, protection in shipping was the name of the game. Developing countries were eager to develop their national merchant fleets, and their efforts were encouraged and supported by UNCTAD’s Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences, that proposed a cargo split of 40:40:20, with the higher proportion to the respective fleets of the trading partners, and the lower percentage to third flag carriers. It was a radical move.
Sri Lanka was in the forefront of this development, with the establishment of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC) in 1971 and the Central Freight Bureau (CFB) in 1973. The CFB was the first organisation among the developing countries to have a mechanism in the form of a central freight booking office, which had the ability to allocate cargo following the guidelines of the UNCTAD Code. The CFB model was adopted by several developing countries with the technical assistance of CFB officials. CSC modernised its fleet from break bulk to containers and dominated the Sri Lankan market, and also performed creditably in the India- Pakistan to Europe Trade against fierce foreign competition.
However, with the winds of change ushering in open economic policies in Sri Lanka as well as in many developing countries, protection for shipping in international trades began to lose its lustre. Sri Lankan policymakers adapted to the change, and the CFB was disbanded in the early 90’s. CSC was unable to weather the heightened level of competition (a period in which several carriers ceased to exist) and departed from liner shipping in the mid-90s.
Sri Lanka’s import & export trades were fully opened up for free competition. Any shipping line was able to call at Sri Lankan ports, and shippers were free to make their choice of carrier at freight rates determined by market forces, and the lines were permitted to select a local agent of their choice. Shipping was liberalised.
Ports and terminals 
Not to be outdone, Sri Lanka’s Ports & Terminal sector also ushered in change. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was formed in 1979, and controlled all port & terminal activity. In 1999 the SLPA agreed to a 30 year BOT concession agreement with a consortium of foreign and local investors to set up the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT). This was one of the largest foreign investments in Sri Lanka and was completed in three phases in 2003. The investors in SAGT were: A.P. Moller Group; Evergreen International SA; Peony Investments SA; John Keells Holdings PLC; and Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
SLPA is a minority shareholder. With this development, the ports and terminal sector was liberalised.
SLPA went one step further, signing a 35 year BOT agreement which saw the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) come on stream in 2013. China Merchants Port Holdings Company owns 85% of CICT’s shares, with SLPA holding the balance.
In December 2017, SLPA agreed to a 99 year lease of the Southern Port of Hambantota to China Merchants Ports Holding for $ 1.12 billion – Sri Lanka’s largest foreign direct investment in the maritime sector.
In the first half of 2018, Colombo had the highest growth level of any global port compared to the same period in the prior year. Its transshipment volumes during this period had an impressive growth of 19.8%.
The downside to this feel-good story is that the Port of Colombo is almost at full capacity with no room for expansion until the East Container Terminal is operational. The country’s desire for greater foreign earnings and investment would be satisfied if this project is fast-tracked.
Nine foreign investors have expressed an interest in investing in the East Container Terminal.
SLPA has an ambitious expansion project on the drawing boards that could attract further foreign investment.
What remains to be liberalised?
All the ballyhoo about liberalisation comes down to a relatively insignificant aspect of shipping – the shareholding of local shipping agents.
The global container shipping industry has been highly unprofitable in the past few years. Earnings have been exceptionally volatile despite volume growth. Some of the pain is self-inflicted through the penchant to gain market share by adding capacity through often unneeded new and larger vessels. This scenario has forced several carriers to merge with their larger brethren for survival. Some such as Korean giant Hanjin did in fact go out of business, stranding thousands of laden containers throughout the world.
Carrier consolidation has led to the TOP 6 having a market share of over 70%.
Carrier market share
APMMaersk   17.8%
Mediterranean Shipping Company    14.4%
COSCO Group   12.3%
CMA-CGM Group  11.7%
Hapag Lloyd      7.1%
ONE (Ocean Network Express)      6.8%
Consequently, when blame is cast on local shipping agents for cartelisation, the reality is that carrier consolidation has forced the concentration of agencies among a few companies – a development completely out of the control of local companies.
The Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) has over 130 members, and competition for agency business is fierce and ever present, bearing in mind that large carriers require agents with the required organisation to support their business. The proposed liberalisation would raise the current limitation of foreign ownership of local shipping agents from 40% shareholding up to 100%.
Should this proposal be implemented, it would kill the local agency business that has been the cornerstone of maritime development in the country for the past 50 years. It is an industry that Sri Lanka should be proud of, and could continue to be a catalyst for enhancing Colombo’s status as a maritime hub.
The following results detrimental to the national interest are likely to occur, should the agency business be liberalised:
  • With the absence of a national shipping line to speak of – the local shipping agencies have been the bastion for the nurturing of maritime talent & expertise. Foreign carrier owned agencies which function as cost centres (as opposed to profit centres) are likely to have non-nationals in management positions and outsource back office functions to cheaper locations in India.
  • The country would earn less than presently by way of income tax with no discernible foreign investment as the agency business involves people and systems and not much more.
  • Local agents, mainly SMEs, provide many support services that are essential for a maritime hub. Foreign-owned agencies would have no interest in providing these services. These SMEs too will be wiped out: i.e. sea marshal transits, ship supply services, ship to ship transfers, marine surveys, chandelling, ship lay-up services, hull cleaning services, P & I correspondent services etc.
  • Increase manning of Sri Lankan seafarers in foreign liner and non-liner vessels
  • Stymie the progress in maritime education & training fostered by institutions owned by local shipping agents (CINEC etc.)
  • Regress the successful efforts of local agents to gain foreign port and terminal management contracts
It is clear that the negatives far outweigh any positives in allowing foreign control of agencies.
All the major carriers are already present in Sri Lanka. Liberalisation would not bring in any newcomers.
Furthermore, local agents have no authority to fix freight rates. Pricing is the exclusive preserve of the Principals. Hence, liberalisation will not intensify competition or lower freight rates. The converse maybe true as local agents do currently espouse the cause of shippers with their Principals for favourable treatment based on the merits of the case.
Foreign influence
It is clear that the European Union is funding the lobbying efforts for agency liberalisation, as four of the six major carriers are European companies. It is important to recognise that protection in shipping is alive and well in several EU countries in the area of Cabotage, which is very detrimental to connectivity and efficiency in container shipping. So is the case with the United States, China, and several other developed market economies. Hence, the Ministry of Finance may wish to re-think the subject before killing the goose that lays the golden egg!
The writer is Principal, Cranford Consulting Inc., and a former President of United Arab Shipping Company (North America) and General Manager of the Central Freight Bureau of Sri Lanka and the Ceylon Shipping Corporation.
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RIT Law put to test; civil activists demand to know MPs’ assets and wealth

RIT Law put to test; civil activists demand to know MPs’ assets and wealth

article_image

by Sanath Nanayakkare-
‘Rata Surakimu’ movement has requested the Elections Commission to furnish them with information on how many Members of Parliament have declared their assets while also requesting the Department of Inland Revenue for information on how many MPs have declared their taxable incomes and keep tax records.
They have have lodged these requests under the Law of Right-to-Information (RIT).
“We have sought the same information on Western Provincial councilors initially, and will seek other provincial councilors’ information in the next phase. All these politicians live on public funds and the public have a right to know about the assets they possess and enjoy, and what other incomes they earn. Then the people can judge for themselves whether their earnings justify their lifestyles or whether they live extravagantly exceeding the assets and incomes they have declared”, Chrishmal Warnasuriya, National Convenor of the movement said.
“This will make people see how many of the so-called lawmakers have acted in faith of the rule of the law of the country. Once we get this information, we will publicise it. If we don’t get the requested information that also will be informed to the people. Enough is enough. People should know better before they go to the polling station next time about the candidates the political parties put forward. Then they will be able to make an informed choice. We are striving hard to convince the people that what delivers optimal outcomes for the country is not image-inflated politicians but duly strengthened institutions, well thought-out policies and mechanisms”, he said.
“As a collective of citizens of this Republic, we’ve finally decided to come together and assert our rights as the absolute sovereigns of Sri Lanka, having observed that our elected representatives upon whom we’ve entrusted that authority have continually abused and breached the people’s mandate. We want to ensure that Sri Lanka is a country where all its people are afforded equal opportunity in a transparent political and economic system where our administration, economy, social protection and environment are protected in an ethical manner,” he said.
“So many unqualified, unprepared and unsuitable individuals have assumed public office, not with the intention of public service but to enrich their own lives, their kith and kin, thus ushering in nepotism, corruption and large scale squandering of public assets. We appear to have installed ‘politicians and political parties in government’ over the years rather than building a state with policy and structures”, he said.
“We will strive with other like-minded individuals to implement processes to ensure there is zero tolerance for corruption, combat misuse of public property and ensure that elected officials are held accountable to the people. We urge people of the country to join us and be the change they wish to see in our beloved motherland,” Chrishmal said.
Several other key members of the movement belonging to sport, health and education sectors also made presentations at the media briefing.
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