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July 31, 2010

Burning desire of UNP for self-immolation

By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Change’ and ‘Unity’ are the two competing slogans within the UNP. Sadly the issue is wrongly framed for either slogan to do much good. The question should be whether change or unity should come first. If unity precedes change, it will also preclude change. Unity is thus being deployed as a slogan to counter that of reform aimed at leadership change or leadership change through reform.

If the SLFP ‘united’ around ‘Mathiniya’, i.e. Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1994, as it did in 1988, it would have remained in opposition until her death. It is because it was ‘disunited’ enough to replace her with Chandrika that the party swept in to office.

The UNP can and should be united after it has implemented change. It must unite under a viable, popular new leadership which can rouse enthusiasm. It is only if the party members and supporters feel energised by hope, that they will rally round the party, unite.

If the UNP can drop to 29.34% of the vote, then it is obviously not united, because voters are defecting or staying at home. If the party remains ‘united’ in this manner, a basic mathematical projection shows that it will wither away.

Karu Jayasuriya, a devoted party man, urges unity and avoids the mention of change. Now it must be recalled that Jayasuriya, dedicated though he is to party unity, actually crossed over and joined President Rajapaksa’s administration. That was not because he loved the UNP less but because he loved Sri Lanka more. He put patriotism above partisanship.

Could he not have done so while remaining in the UNP benches? Obviously not! That option was impossible under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Karu could not persuade Ranil to take up a patriotic stance in defence of the country during a crucial period in its history.

Now the problem I have is this. What makes Hon. Karu Jayasuriya think that the average voter, including the average UNP voter, is any less patriotic than he is? Simply because he has forgiven Ranil Wickremesinghe his manifest lack of patriotism, what makes him think that the peasant families of the Sinhala heartland, whose youngsters gave their lives and limbs in the war, will do so — especially when their emotions are rekindled by the presence of Ranil on the platform and the effective propaganda by government’s demagogic nationalist ideologues?

Jayasuriya lists the shortcomings of this government and urges unity to combat them. He must surely recall that the Sri Lankan voter responded negatively to such entreaties on the part of the SLFP, then in opposition, until they were certain that it would not mean a return of Madam Bandaranaike to power — so deeply engrained was the memory of queues and shortages.

Similarly, the voter will not shift from the incumbent administration, which after all, delivered a historic victory, while the prospect exists of a return of Ranil Wickremesinghe whom the masses cannot relate to and who will ‘give away the store’ to the enemies of the nation.

It is only if the voter is guaranteed of a real change, of a new leadership that is every bit as patriotic as the Rajapaksa regime but is an improvement in matters of living standards and people’s prosperity that the voters will return to the UNP.

The Old Guard of the UNP assumes that economic hardship alone will drive the voters back to the party. This is erroneous. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s stint as PM is not remembered by the voter as a period of mass prosperity. On the contrary it was experienced as a phase of sharp cutbacks in public spending. Wickremesinghe himself is identified with the Jayewardene administration, the lopsided economic policies of which were cautioned against by Prime Minister Premadasa. His cautioning was ignored and a bloody insurrection resulted.

olombo’s UNP elite would have been slain in their beds or sent off to slave in labour camps had Premadasa not been selected by the party and elected by the people in ’88. The party and the people responded to a personality who was manifestly no less patriotic than his main rival Madam Bandaranaike but was also known to be capable of improving the standard of living of the citizenry, as she was not.

The fundamental factor is that Ranil Wickremesinghe is historically obsolescent. He belongs to the Prabhakaran period of Sri Lanka’s contemporary history, and furthermore he belongs on the wrong side of that historical contestation. Ranil was chosen not by the party but by Prabhakaran, who assassinated every able UNP leader (Premadasa, Lalith, Gamani, Ranjan) and potential ones (Ossie Abeygoonesekara, Gamani Atukorale), leaving only Ranil untouched.

Ranil returned the favour, acting as a puppet of Prabhakaran. He is indelibly associated with a period of shame in the long history of the island.

He and his associates are also seen as socially decadent, as Jayasuriya for instance is most certainly not. Surely the collective memory of UNP must recall the disaster of Sir John Kotelawela and Zsu Zsu Mohamed, so effectively skewered by the famous ‘Mara Yuddha’ cartoon in 1956?

This compound profile of anti-national treachery and social decadence makes Ranil electorally radioactive. That radioactivity affects the party as a whole. For the party to recover the UNP rank and file and the country at large must not see him in the frontlines.

So as long as he is visible, the government’s ideologists and propaganda machine will chew up the UNP. Short of a visible change of leadership, how does Jayasuriya hope to re-infuse the party with what it lacks most, namely, hope?

Today, Wimal Weerawansa has beaten Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the UNP, in Colombo. That is the evidence of how terminal the UNP’s crisis is, under Ranil. One fails to see the logic of ‘unity’ under the leadership of someone who cannot secure more votes than Wimal Weerawansa in Colombo itself.

One also fails to see how such a slogan can have a chance of success. If Ranil’s leadership cannot deliver the goods (the votes) in cosmopolitan, globalised Colombo, how can it do so in the countryside, where the majority of voters are?

Is this the leadership under which the UNP members are urged to unite: a leadership that cannot take the party to victory but only from one defeat to another and each time worse?

Why would they?

The most dangerous aspect of calling for ‘unity’ without and before leadership change is the signal it sends out: that despite repeated and worsening electoral rejection at the hands of the voters of Sri Lanka for two decades, the UNP does not give a damn for the opinion of the voter; that the UNP is deaf and blind to the repeated signalling by the citizens of this country.

To be viable, the UNP must be brought in line with the repeated signals of the electoral marketplace. The party must show respect for the unmistakable feedback from the people.

Unity cannot be on the basis of the decrepit, unpopular status quo. Change must precede unity. Unity can be restored only on the basis of immediate leadership change. To borrow President Premadasa’s concept, the UNP must be ‘people-ised’.

World court on Kosovo: Lessons for Sri Lanka

By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Students residing and schooling in Colombo had the bar to university entrance set higher in the mid 1970s, what with district and media wise standardisation the order of the day.

For Arts students the Mt Olympus was the Faculty of Law, and those few who had done well enough were informed that they had qualified /been selected for the Law Fac.

Getting their kids in over the high bar of standardisation was a dream for parents in Colombo. That year my name was on top of the list of Arts students eligible for the Law Faculty but as Prof Kamal Karunanayake, then registrar of the UGC would testify, I opted instead - over considerable parental pressure— for Political Science at Peradeniya.

The reason was a simple realisation that ‘law’ and ‘justice’ were two quite different things; that law was weighted in favour of the existing power structure and that politics, by contrast, would not veil reality so much as provide a key to the comprehension of the decision making core, which affected everything else including the law.

The recent verdict of the International Court of Justice, on the declaration of independence of Kosovo, validated in my mind, that teenage realisation. The Court held, in a non-binding and non-unanimous judgment, that the declaration of independence was not contrary to international law. Kosovo independence was the product of NATO bombing of Serbian forces and a subsequent period of peace, under UN auspices.

Bernard Kouchner was the UN High Commissioner for Kosovo- a point which I made in an article written while in Australia, when he was nominated by the EU to the Independent International Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP). That nomination, as well as the fact that the EU had a draft resolution on Sri Lanka on the table in Geneva already in 2006 (a year before I got there and three years before the ‘last phase of the war’) told me clearly, who had what in store for our country.

The so called peace agreement that was entered into by the West and Serbia, explicitly recognised Kosovo as part of Serbia. How then did Kosovo become independent? It was ‘shepherded’ towards independence by the powers, personalities and institutions on the ground in Kosovo. This is what would have taken place if the CFA or the ISGA or the PTOMS had remained in place. This is what would have happened had we heeded the call for ‘humanitarian international intervention’ at any stage of the war.

In the period that Kosovo was under international i.e. Western supervision and reconstruction, all under the peace agreement that recognised the sovereignty of Serbia over it, something happened. A new initiative was launched to provide a breakout from that agreement and constitute an exit ramp which would make for open secession of Kosovo.

This was the plan authored by former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari. That is the same gentleman who was brought in under President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s second (and mercifully final) term for the purpose of playing a role in Sri Lanka’s peace process, by CBK’s ‘senior advisor on ethnic relations’, a brother-in law of the author of the LTTE’s ISGA proposal, close political ally of Mangala Samaraweera, and co-negotiator for CBK on the PTOMS proposal. Sri Lanka thus avoided a Serbian -Kosovo outcome, thanks to the strenuous filibustering of Lakshman Kadirgamar, who enlisted the support of the JVP and its paper Lanka, for the purpose. For his patriotic pains, and his objections to the PTOMS talks, he was kept out of the policy loop in his final days, and unconfirmed reports have it that his security was reduced.

When Mangala Samaraweera as foreign Minister proposed the name of CBK’s ‘ethnic advisor’ to the board of the newly re-titled Kadirgamar Center, a surviving member of the martyred politician objected on the grounds of the undesirability of a possible LTTE informant on the board of directors.

The Martti Ahtisaari plan on Kosovo, which clearly advocated independence for the province, ran counter to the letter of the peace agreement on Serbia’s borders and its sovereignty over the province. However, it was then adopted by the United States, and turned into official policy. Under the western umbrella, and going against Russia’s cautioning that this would violate international law, set precedents and affect the architecture of the world order, Kosovo declared independence. Now the World Court holds that it is not in violation of international law. Will the Kosovo script be next used in the Kurdish region, to further an independent Kurdistan out of Iraq, Iran or Turkey?

The lesson is very clear. Learn from the best of the West; maintain a permanent dialogue and the most cordial relations with, but do not trust the West to the point of giving it or the international institutions under its dominance, a foothold which may allow it to determine your country’s destiny — because it will always shift the goalposts, as it did in colonial history and throughout the 20th Century. If this is what it did to Christian Serbia which backed the Allies and fought bitterly against the Nazi invaders, what will it not do to us Asians?

The Kosovo model was very much in my mind during my two years, the years of our last, decisive phase, at the UN in Geneva. I wrote several articles referring to it and one was published on several Serbian websites. A point I made was that the Serbian troops should never have pulled back from their dug in positions in Kosovo despite persuasion from Yeltsin’s Russia, because, as later NATO surveys confirmed, NATO bombing had inflicted but minimal damage on the well camouflaged Serbian troops, and had NATO forces resorted to a ground campaign as was inevitable, they would have been caught in a meat grinder by the Serbian troops whose doctrine as the former Yugoslav army, was based on the great Marshal Tito’s ‘partisan warfare’.


More pertinently to us in Sri Lanka is the intensive human rights/humanitarian issues campaign waged by or through the western mass media that preceded the Kosovo war. Personalities as diverse as Fidel Castro and Justice Christie Weeramantry opposed the Kosovo bombing at the time. Respected intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Perry Anderson, and Tariq Ali have uncovered the lies behind the human rights campaign while Prof David Chandler traced the policy doctrine of humanitarian - actually hegemonistic-intervention, in a book From Kosovo to Kabul. The former Foreign Minister of Sandinista Nicaragua, and Catholic padre of the famous Maryknoll order, until recently the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel D’Escoto, denounced the doctrine that ensued, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), as the Right to Intervene (R2I)!

In a friendly, quasi-fraternal encounter at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, I suggested to Vuk Jeremic the articulate young Foreign Minister of Serbia that they should go for a UN General Assembly vote. He told me that they were first taking it to the World Court. That was a mistake, and the judgment may have a knock-on effect on the UNGA vote if taken now. Expert commentators say that Kosovo and its patrons are targeting the magic figure of one hundred.

During the last stages of the last war, Sri Lanka was to be the guinea pig of the Kosovo/R2P doctrine. This is why no compromise which made for international presence such as an office of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner or international inspection within a compressed time frame just after the war, could be the basis for any compromise in Geneva. That would have been the foothold, or the first step on the road to Kosovo.

That project, the Kosovo/R2P game-plan for Sri Lanka, is still ongoing, albeit by other means. In an article after our victory at the UN HRC Special Session, I wrote that this was either the last battle of the old war or the first one of the new war, and ventured to suggest that “a long Cold War may have just begun”.

Diplomacy or Diplomercy? Diplomats or Diplomutts?

by Namini Wijedasa

The UNP is to hand over a no-confidence motion this week against poor G.L. Peiris (who is now known in some circles as ‘Nanny Peiris’ for the mentoring role he has taken over a certain presidential progeny).

The party thinks Prof Peiris should be skewered for failing to prevent the appointment of an expert panel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise him on accountability issues related to the conduct of Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE.

While it is rich that the UNP — which is facing a massive internal and external crisis in confidence at present — is attempting a no-confidence motion on someone else, such a move would open up space for a welcome parliamentary debate on how Sri Lanka today conducts its relations with the outside world.\

For instance, do we practise diplomacy anymore? Or do we merely rampage around the world blackguarding countries that we think “don’t like us” while cultivating only the nations that overtly support every blessed thing the main actors in our government do?

The conflict with the LTTE may be long over but from the look of things Sri Lanka has amassed far too much weaponry and combative spirit to get out of battle mode. The modus operandi now is to be constantly on the defensive or offensive — when in most cases it is often best to be neither.

At the merest hint of criticism (and we won’t go into whether or not such criticism is valid here), Sri Lanka delves into its vast armoury of coarse rhetoric, barbed remarks and antagonistic vocabulary to react in the most contrary way possible. Nothing is sugar-coated and to hell with diplomacy. Whatever sells locally is what is tried abroad. And that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Political appointees

The diplomatic corps is peppered with political appointees. Have these men and women — who draw their “power” directly from offices higher than the ministry of external affairs — read their lessons on diplomacy? Do they even know Sri Lanka’s official positions on various matters like, say, our stand on the Israel-Palestine conflict? If they don’t, do they bother to check back with the ministry before making controversial statements that force the government to then issue barely believable statements to cover up a stinking (and seriously compromising) mess?

Sure we had some successes in the UN Human Rights Council, preventing some EU led moves against the country while voting down one crucial resolution. Nevertheless, one swallow does not make a summer. Besides, the main actors in that drama have all been banished. We all know what happened to Dayan Jayatilleke, Mahinda Samarasinghe is handling the plantation sector and Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe, well, he’s in parliament but that’s about it.

Do members of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic corps work in unison anymore? More importantly, do they do things that work anymore? Consider, for instance, this ridiculous NAM statement that was attempted after the appointment of Ban Ki-moon’s panel. It failed. The NAM members did not sign up and it embarrassed the country.

Or maybe not. Sri Lanka no longer seems to have the capacity to be embarrassed. Take the colossal muddle at our mission in New York. A junior officer accusing her senior officer of sexual harassment while the head of mission is habitually found traipsing around the world even when the country needs him to be in NYC.

It is playing out like a cheap movie. One of Sri Lanka’s most important diplomatic missions — the one that is tasked with “taking on” Ban Ki-moon and other cowboys in New York — is in a tangle. But, really, nobody seems to care. So long as China keeps pumping expensive aid into Sri Lanka, we are fine.

Every so often, political appointees telephone the president’s office direct to convey their various “tales”. The currying of favour has become a norm rather than an exception. Sri Lanka lost the GSP Plus.

Sri Lanka failed to prevent the appointment of Ban Ki-moon’s panel by not appointing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in time. Sri Lanka encouraged Wimal Weerawansa’s goons to perpetrate a violate protest that hindered UN staff from reporting to work (and thus violated our own obligations towards the UN).

Then Sri Lanka got him to stage a “death fast” outside the UN which, for all his protestations, ended up as the joke of the century. We do all this when there are already in existence much better, diplomatic ways to handle international relations.

Best of the worst lot

To be honest, Prof Peiris is the best out of a worse lot — particularly coming after that horrific, high-spending national disaster that we identify by the name of Rohitha Bogollagama.

Despite Prof Peiris’ constantly changing political principles, he still has brains and possibly the good sense to realise that some things just have to be done differently as far as our conduct of international relations go.

With the war behind us and the LLRC installed, it is possible for a small nation like ours to be friends with everyone. For god’s sake, just couch the insults in diplomatic language like everyone else does and we’ll be at least a fraction of the way there COURTESY:LAKBIMA NEWS

AILA presents ACLU Attorney Ahilan Arulanantham with the 2010 Arthur C. Helton human rights award

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) awarded Ahilan Arulanantham, Director, Immigrants' Rights and National Security, ACLU of Southern California, the 2010 Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award for his body of innovative litigation and its enormous benefits for countless vulnerable non-citizens for their rights and dignity.

Arthur Helton was a shining example with a distinguished career as an advocate for refugees and asylum-seekers. Arulanantham exemplifies the qualities of Arthur Helton - compassion, intellect, tenacity, and strategic thinking that are the hallmarks of excellence in the advancement of human rights. He will receive the award on July 3, 2010 during AILA's Annual Conference held in National Harbor, MD.

Arulanantham litigates before federal courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and immigration courts. Most recently, a team of attorneys led by Arulanantham won a major class certification victory in a class action challenging the detention of noncitizens held in the Central District of California for more than six months without a bond hearing while in immigration proceedings.

Arulanantham has achieved remarkable successes in curbing ICE's use of prolonged and indefinite detention. Arulanantham co-litigated a 2009 action against ICE's derelict "B-18" detention facility in Los Angeles. Arulanantham's suit resulted in a comprehensive settlement regarding a badly overcrowded facility in which there was no soap or drinking water. The settlement not only rectified appalling conditions of detention, but also halted ICE's practice of moving detainees back and forth to local jails in an effort to avoid rules prohibiting long-term detention at B-18.

Arulanantham is also a fine teacher, frequently lecturing in CLE settings and offering a seminar on preventive detention at the University of Chicago Law School. Arulanantham puts great effort into mentoring his legal interns, allowing them to take on high-level litigation tasks while patiently guiding them and building their confidence.

Prior to joining the ACLU's Southern California office, Arulanantham was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso, Texas for two years. Before that, he was a fellow at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project in New York, where he provided legal assistance to dozens of non-citizens detained after the September 11th attacks. Arulanantham is a former law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a graduate of Yale Law School, and a graduate of Oxford University, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar.

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Open letter to the Sri Lankan Nation from a Navy Headquarters prison cell

by Gen. Sarath Fonseka

Prison cell at Navy Headquarters
20th July 2010

My dear Sri Lankans living here and overseas, members of the armed forces, police and home guards, families of the war heroes, friends and relatives.

I write this as a political prisoner who has been confined to a prison cell for more than five months, deprived of many liberties that one would take for granted in a democratic society. A number of spurious charges have been framed against me by the vengeful Rajapaksa regime for simply daring to contest the presidential election against Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In the past, this country cherished and respected the democratic rights of the people, giving them the freedom to exercise their franchise, independently and without prejudice. Standing up for what a person believed in was never deemed a crime, nor was that person harassed, intimidated and treated as an enemy by those who were in power. In the past, our leaders conducted themselves as statesmen/stateswomen and did not resort to intimidating or imprisoning their political opponents. But that was then. Here I am today, forced into solitary confinement and treated as a criminal simply because I chose to exercise my democratic rights.

I’m not saddened about being confined to a prison cell, but what pains me is the overall situation in the country where the people have been subjugated, through fear and intimidation, against voicing their opinion on any issues, be it governance, economic wellbeing, the rule of law or their rights.

In the run-up to the presidential election, the Rajapaksa regime talked about Hitler and Idi Amin. Looking back, I feel somewhat relieved, that although my victory was stolen, people now know who the real Hitlers and Idi Amins are. In the past, our leaders, no matter what party they were elected from, never behaved in the inhuman, unjust or undemocratic manner of the present Head of State. Actually, I feel proud that I made the right decision, although risky, to shed my uniform and challenge this tyrannical regime, which is suppressing the rights of the people and violating all democratic norms. I am certain the larger percentage of the population agrees with me and this has given me the inspiration and the motivation to continue with my fight for a just society even if this means more spurious charges will be framed against me and I may have to spend another 10 to 15 years in jail.

I am 59 years old now. Up until my incarceration I lead a very successful life and when I die, I can do so, content that I saved my motherland not only from the scourge of terrorism but also prevented it from being dissected into separate states.

My mother died at the age of 72 and my father at age 76. I may, despite the tension of living in a war situation and the present imprisonment, follow in my father’s footsteps and live to see my 75th birthday. This means I have another 15 years left in me and even if I am to spend these 15 years in jail for my country and for my people, I will die content in the knowledge that everything I’ve done, I’ve done for my beloved country and her people.

However, I am not prepared to just roll over and die just because the regime wishes so. On the contrary I am determined to fight with every breath I have to save my country and my people from this despotic regime, which will never give due consideration for welfare of the people and will always put the needs of a few in power above the needs of the masses.

I know the task I have undertaken is extremely risky in the present day context. But I will never give up and am even ready to sacrifice my life for the people of this country, as I have nothing to lose. In the worst case scenario, my wife will lose a husband and my children their father, but it would be a worthy task, as my family and I have spent a long time together when compared with the families of war heroes, who lost their loved ones early in life.

On June 23 my younger daughter, who is still an undergraduate, celebrated her 24th birthday. I wished her over the phone from my prison cell, knowing her eyes were filled with tears as were mine. Every time I speak on the phone to my elder daughter, I know she too has tears in her eyes and that she lives in fear, concerned for the welfare of her husband who is in hiding, fearing for his life.

We had my mother-in-law’s seventh day alms giving on June 23. Although I should have been there by my wife’s side, I did not request permission to attend the ceremony as I knew it would be a waste of time and effort. Partway through the ceremony, my wife visited me for few minutes and left with tears in her eyes.

So life in confinement is indeed tearful and painful for me. But I do not regret my decision to enter politics, and will endure agony with a smile, for the sake of the future of my people and my country.

It has been more than a year since we liberated the country from the grip of terrorism. I feel overwhelmed when I reflect on what we finally achieved, and the sheer dedication, commitment and hard work of the forces during the two years and nine months battle that brought about the historic victory. No one thought my promise to defeat the scourge of terrorism would become a reality. But we proved otherwise. This was possible because of the courage and conviction of the valiant members of our security forces, some of who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

Those who have no idea about the hard work and commitment that ensured victory, will obviously, not have much respect for the soldiers who sacrificed much and will not think twice about putting them behind bars or terminating their services. I get emotional when I think of the injustice committed on these war heroes and it pains me greatly, when I think about the thousands of young men who sacrificed their lives and others who were rendered disabled by just carrying out my orders to achieve our common goal – to eradicate terrorism and liberate the country.

However, it is even more painful to look at the post war situation and acknowledge that instead of using the golden opportunity to ensure that a terrorism free Sri Lanka prospers and her people live in a free country, the present administration has used the freedom to subvert democracy, suppress the people and augment the powers of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers.

Although the government commemorated the war heroes in the victory parade, it was not done in the true spirit of respecting those who contributed to the war victory. It was purely another self- glorifying event and yet another opportunity to vilify me. Significantly, I was not invited to the event, even as a Member of Parliament, though all MP’s were invited. It is indeed a pitiful situation when the Commander in Chief celebrates the war victory, while ensuring the army commander who won him the war languishes in prison.

I was not given an opportunity to witness the victory parade that saw those who were commanded and guided to victory by me marching proudly on. However, I could hear them on parade and I could see the air force fly-past through the 12- inch gap over the sealed window of my prison cell in the 3rd floor of the Navy junior officers’ quarters. I watched the fly-past with tears in my eyes and thanked the air force for granting me at least that much. My tears were not of sadness, but those of joy, because I had the satisfaction of being the person who paved the way for the victory that was being celebrated out there.

I may be the only General to have experienced such a situation, subsequent to orchestrating a grand war victory. In a normal scenario, a victorious General will be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. But sadly it has not been so in Sri Lanka. Our Commander in Chief has instead sought to ruin the General and weaken the army by destroying its spirit.

It is distressing to see the manner in which the military is being politicised. I have always taken immense pride in the fact that I managed to instill discipline in the army and transform it into a model outfit that inculcated professionalism above all else. This is why we were able to liberate the country from the 30-year grip of terrorism. But the Rajapaksa regime, though appreciative of the achievements of the army, have embarked on a devious course of politicization that may well destroy it at the end.

The services of many professional officers were terminated with scant respect for the future of their families, because these officers, who under my command, held very important and sensitive positions during the crucial stage of the battle. Losing these Generals, Brigadiers, Colonels and many senior officers is a great blow for the army and has caused irreparable damage to its morale. It has also paved the way for the Rajapaksa regime to promote those officers who worked on a political agenda, were undisciplined and made no contribution to winning the war.

Watching this process of politicisation gives me immense pain and I worry the future of the army may indeed be very bleak. Evidence of this is the manner in which the Defence Minister and the Defence Secretary have been treating the victorious army. This has succeeded in silencing the other services, including the police, all of whom, after seeing what happed to the army have decided, though thoroughly discontent, to remain silent.

It is not necessary for me to elucidate further on the sorry state of affairs in the military as the truth will come to light before long. The present Commander has turned the army into a frightened, suspicious and a demoralised unit, a far cry from what it was during my command. In a bid to please his political bosses, he also orchestrated the most insulting and reprehensible task when he ordered the army to arrest its own Commander. These types of shameless incidents have never occurred in any other army.

The future of the country will finally be decided by the people. I am only making an attempt to get the people to understand what is good or bad for the country. Some may be happy just being able to survive, not realising how good and beautiful their lives can be in a truly democratic society. I urge everyone in this wonderful country of ours, to be concerned about their rights to be partners in governance while enjoying a free life in a just society where the resources are used for the development of the country and not stolen by the corrupt politicians.

The prevalent sense of complacency is unfortunate as is the belief that keeping politicians in power happy is easier and safer than demanding and working towards ensuring that democratic rights are upheld.

Although I’m living under extremely dangerous conditions, courtesy the Rajapaksa regime targeting me, my family, my friends and my political supporters, I will not give up my struggle to reinstate a genuine democracy with its accompanying freedoms and governing practices.

I believe genuine democracy is only enjoyed by the people in the western world today. A majority of Sri Lankans are unaware of this as they have never seen the political conditions in those countries and our corrupt politicians are exploiting this short coming. Sri Lankans must realise the value of their franchise and use it wisely to ensure they elect those who will govern in a democratic manner benefitting the people rather than a selected few.

My struggle to ensure the welfare of the people and keep politicians in their due places will continue. I know I will be targeted by the Rajapaksa regime as I am challenging a dictatorship. The Rajapaksa regime has exhibited its tyrannical disposition by depriving me of my rights just because I was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political opponent at the presidential election. They did not stop with simply targeting me but continue to shamelessly target my family too.

As my daughter has very rightly written, even Velupillai Prabhakaran had shown he had some principles as he did not target the families of his military or political opponents. But the so called Head of State of this country won’t spare even the family members of his political opponents. He has shown who the real Idi Amin is.

Sri Lanka needs discipline too. To ensure this we are in dire need of a clean government. The most undisciplined are the politicians who don’t even seem to respect parliamentary decorum. At times I feel ashamed of being a politician due to the utterances our politicians make in the august assembly. This behaviour is even watched at times by school children from the gallery and the filthy comments made by politicians are even written in the Hanzard. Nobody can deny this. At times this behavior is appreciated by their political bosses. Our future generation must endeavor to ensure our society becomes disciplined and is respected by the outside world.

Recently a journalist asked Mr. Robert Blake, former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and one of the secretaries of US State Department, “What about Sri Lanka. In the USA and India they don’t put people in jail or court martial them after they lose election.” This question indicates where we stand as far as democracy is concerned. It is a shame to be judged in this manner when it comes to the image of the country. But for the Rajapaksa regime nothing is shameful if they can continue to remain in power.

My beloved citizens, the time has come to join hands to move forward and bring prosperity to the country without getting fooled by corrupt politicians. Ask to yourself whether the corrupt politicians who made grandiose promises to you during elections have really delivered. My appeal to the youth is to unite and help bring about changes to the existing political system. Help rid the country of the scourge of corruption and ensure those elected have a genuine love for the country and are qualified to govern.

We did not eradicate terrorism and save the country for corrupt politicians to destroy it. The war heroes sacrificed themselves to ensure a free and just country for the future generation. This beautiful country belongs to all citizens be they clergy, layman, professionals, farmers, labourers, fishermen or businessmen, but not to corrupt politicians.

So let’s join hands to make Sri Lanka a beautiful and peaceful country once again. We need to be determined in our endeavour, for certainly the journey is going to be difficult and tough. All we need is your conviction. I will give everything to see this country prosper. I don’t need anything in return.

My ambition is to see a country where the people have a government of their own, achieved by them for them. My ambition is to see a country with adults and children who love the flora and fauna, the streams and rivers, the sea and the shore, the green valleys and the paddy fields, the mountains and estates, the culture and the people as a whole. My ambition is to see a country where the judiciary prevails to protect the people without interference from corrupt politicians. My ambition is to see a government, which does not exploit, fool or cheat the people, governing this country and considering the people as its biggest wealth. My ambition is to see a disciplined society where examples can be set by the politicians. My ambition is to see a nation with hope not despair.

The day I achieve my ambition I will handover this beautiful country of ours to the future generation, and willingly face my death.

The war started when I was a junior captain in the army. I changed my lifestyle, curtailed my social activities and kept aspiring for a day for this country would be free of terrorism. I made many sacrifices to convert those aspirations into reality. Today I am aspiring for a better Sri Lanka and am prepared to make any sacrifices to ensure my aspirations are fulfilled.

I love my country and my people irrespective of cast, creed, race or religion. Please think about Mother Lanka. My best wishes and good luck are with you always.

signed by

Gen. Sarath Fonseka (Rtd)

An Enchanting Annual Aadi Vel Festival in Colombo

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

710VEL38.JPG

The 136th Annual Aadi Vel festival was held in Colombo with colour and glamour. Beautifully decorated wooden carved cart left the Colombo Sammaankodu Sri Kathirvelaayuthaswamy temple in Sea Street left in the morning on July 23rd 2010 and reached the Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple at night. [click here to see & read in full]

Ex-LTTE Chief "KP" speaks out: An Interview With T.Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Prabhakaran’s successor, T. S. Pathmanathan or simply ‘KP’ as he is better known has thrown his weight behind Sri Lanka’s post-LTTE efforts to restore peace in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

In an exclusive interview with The Island in Colombo yesterday, Pathmanathan, former confidant of the slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the outfit’s main arms procurer, discussed a wide range of issues, including his capture last August, breakdown of various attempts to negotiate peace and a desperate bid to thwart annihilation of the LTTE‘s military leadership in May 2009.

Pathmanathan, in a light brown kurta, black slacks and matching shoes could have easily walked the streets of the city without being identified as one of the key LTTE leaders, who had helped build the organisation as a ruthlessly efficient terrorist group over the past three decades. He sat on a couch asking the writer to fire away in what turned out to be a three-hour interview in which he spelt out his plans in support of on-going rebuilding efforts of the government.

The onetime most elusive man from Jaffna said he was confident that a group of likeminded Tamils based in various parts of the world would support the initiative for the benefit of Sri Lankan Tamils.

Fielding questions with a smile, KP said what he expected of the Tamil Diaspora and what the Diaspora expected of him was to step up the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement programmes now underway.

Born on April 6, 1955, KP had played different roles before succeeding Velupillai Prabhakaran after the latter’s death at the hands of the Sri Lanka Army on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May last year.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: Are you confident that the Tamil Diaspora could work with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government?

A: President Rajapaksa is genuine in his efforts to settle differences among communities and help re-build war devastated regions in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Within a year of the conclusion of the war, the majority of the people displaced by the conflict are back at their villages and ex-combatants of the LTTE are undergoing rehabilitation and the international community, too, is supportive of Sri Lanka’s efforts. None of these would have been possible without the political leadership given by President Rajapaksa.

KP said it was essential for the Tamil Diaspora to realise the ground reality in a post-LTTE era and review its strategy to meet the new challenges. He said he had stepped in as he felt there was a leadership vacuum to be filled. Emphasising his determination to go ahead with what he called a tangible action plan, the LTTE veteran said everybody should have come forward and assist in the rebuilding efforts without trying to live in the past. The media should play a positive role in the post-LTTE period and strengthen the ongoing reconciliation efforts. Nothing could be as bad as negative reporting, though no one would dispute the right of the media to cover any issue the way it deemed fit, KP said. However, he said their focus should be on development and peace building efforts such as rebuilding, speedy resettlement of the war displaced and rehabilitation of ex-combatants.

Q: You recently set up an NGO to collect money from the Tamil Diaspora to help the re-building process. Would the Diaspora respond to your move as there were others who claimed to represent the interests of the LTTE?

A: The North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NERDO) is ready to play a key role in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement processes. With its main office situated at No 10, 1st Lane, Kathiresu Road, Vairavaputiyankulam, Vavuniya, NERDO is engaged in various activities in support of the Tami speaking people. We are only concerned about the welfare of the people, particularly children, though some seek fresh funding to cause mayhem. People are fed up with war and every effort should be made to alleviate the suffering of the people without playing politics with a purely humanitarian issue. We are appealing for funds - -$1 from each Tamil living abroad on a monthly basis. To facilitate fund raising activity, we recently opened an account at the Vavuniya branch of the Commercial Bank bearing 1610046482 (Code CCEYLKLX). Our e-mail is info@nerdo.lk/www.nerdo.lk.

Q: What was the turning point in the eelam war IV?

A: Multi-pronged Al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US changed it all. Within 24 hours, the international community led by Western powers moved against all armed groups causing immense damage to our operations. There are many other factors, but the primary reason is nothing but the rapid rise of Al-Qaeda, which prompted the West to change its attitude. This brought about a drastic change in the attitude of political leaders in the other parts of the world. Circumstances made propagation of separatist sentiments extremely difficult in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, an influential section of the LTTE, including its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran did not realize the urgent need to change its strategy. Had he done that the situation would have been different today. There is a New World Order today, which does not tolerate armed campaigns and that is the hard reality.

Q: Are you satisfied with the progress in resettlement and reconstruction following the conclusion of war in May last year?

A: The situation is much better than I expected. Although, there is lot to be done by way of confidence building, we should appreciate what the government has done since the conclusion of the war. The Tamil community should not solely depend on the government, UN agencies and NGOs for their needs. We have a duty by the people to act swiftly and decisively to bring immediate relief to war affected people. During a recent visit to the North, we had an opportunity to provide immediate assistance to several hundreds of GCE (Advanced Level) students sitting for the forthcoming examination. No one would have believed a common programme involving the Tamil Diaspora and the government was possible, but today we are cooperating with the government and working for the people. We are already receiving requests for assistance from the Tamil community, a case in point being that two school principals recently obtained financial assistance for students who needed to pay for examination papers at term tests.

Now that the war is over, we can go flat out to implement development programmes. Recently, we donated Rs. 500,000 for the provision of buns and tea for the Advanced Level students at the Sundaralingham Tamil Maha Vidyalaya, Vavuniya, sitting for examination in August.

Q: When did you first hear of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s death on the Vanni front? Where were you at the time of the final battle?

A: I was abroad when I first heard of Prabhakaran’s death on May 19. The international press reported the final confrontation, though some continued to dispute the fact. I was Prabhakaran’s best friend and felt sad about the loss of his life. Had he listened to me and reached an agreement with the government before it was too late, the final battle could have been avoided. The LTTE suffered a massive setback on May 10 on the Vanni (east) front, where some 400 experienced cadres perished while trying to break the army lines. Following that tragedy, I discussed with the then political chief Nadesan a way out of the quagmire. But unfortunately they believed the army could be somehow forced to stop the offensive and a deal worked out through a third party. We also talked to various people and organizations, including the UN in a bid to work out some arrangement but nothing happened due to the failure on the part of Prabhakaran to make his move earlier.

Q: When did you first leave Sri Lanka? When did you last visit Sri Lanka before being taken in abroad shortly after the end of war?

A: I fled to India with Prabhakaran in 1980. The military searched for me and arrested me forcing me to think of my future. Intensified military activity demoralized the community. When the pressure was mounting, we took a boat from Valvettiturai and sought refuge in India. At that time crossing the Indo-Lanka maritime boundary was no problem. The then TULF leader A. Amirthalingham introduced me to Prabhakaran in mid 70s, most probably in 1976 and since then we worked together. At that time TELO and the LTTE were the dominant militant groups and they worked with the Jaffna-based political leadership for the eelam project. I studied at Mahajana College, Jaffna but gave up University education to fight for our rights, which we believed were violated by successive governments. But today we are in a unique position to bring about a permanent peace in not only Northern and Eastern Provinces but the entire country.

Following the then Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah’s killing by Prabhakaran, the decision makers of the politico-militant movement at that time had removed Prabhakaran from the outfit. When he came to me, I was just an Advanced Level student, though I had to accommodate him in my room. There had been moves to kill him by some individuals, including the then TELO leader Thangadurai.

Q: Were you in contact with the LTTE during the last few months of eelam war IV? Did the LTTE leadership trapped in the Vanni ever openly acknowledge that the army could not be stopped?

A: Prabhakaran, his key commanders and an influential section of the Tamil Diaspora felt that Tamil Nadu would come to their rescue. They believed Tamil Nadu political parties could exploit a dicey political situation to compel Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in Sri Lanka. We also sought the assistance of some UN officials and President of East Timor to arrange for a truce before the Army overran the last few sq km of territory held by the LTTE in the third week of May 2009.

Q: Do you believe the Tamil Diaspora can reach an understanding with the government due to the absence of LTTE’s military muscle?

A: There is a need for changing our attitude. The destruction of the LTTE’s military capability has not left room for us to do anything other than reviewing our position. The Diaspora must realize the ground situation in a post-war era and act accordingly.

Any fresh attempts to revive separatist sentiments would only cause trouble and therefore a tangible action plan is necessary to re-build the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The absence of military power would make things easy on the negotiating front.

The North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NERDO) is ready to facilitate those living abroad to visit Sri Lanka. They should not ignore this opportunity. About a year ago no one would have believed that freedom of movement in the Northern and Eastern provinces was possible.

Q: You are widely credited with running a highly successful procurement operation overseas? But some have claimed that you were replaced several years ago by another senior cadre? When did Prabhakaran replace you and why?

A: I was taken out in 2003. Prabhakaran personally handled the network through Castro. I had to play a low key role due to increased surveillance mounted by intelligence services.

KP acknowledged that Sri Lanka’s premier intelligence service had brought LTTE overseas network under heavy pressure.

Q: Why did LTTE engineer Ranil Wickremesinghe’s defeat at the November 2005 presidential election?

A: Prabhakaran felt that the then Prime Minister wasn’t strong enough to meet the challenging task of solving the national issue. Prabhakaran had successfully dealt with several Sri Lankan leaders before the advent of President Rajapaksa.

Q: Did LTTE consult you before resuming hostilities in August 2006.

A: I was not consulted by Prabhakaran before launching a massive multi-pronged attack on the security forces. Prabhakaran wanted me to help acquire urgently needed armaments and also explore the possibility of bringing international pressure to bear on Sri Lanka during the last few months of the war.

Prabhakaran never felt the need to consult anybody as long as he believed his military machine could help him pursue the eelam project.

Q: Some Tamil politicians feel threatened by your presence in Colombo and the possibility of you (LTTE rump) reaching an understanding with the government. Is there any likelihood of all Tamil political parties both in and out of parliament seeking a consensus on a common programme?

A: No one should feel threatened by my presence in Colombo. The need of the hour is a practical approach to the post-war issues. Let us take tangible action to provide assistance to the war displaced and help re-build the Northern and Eastern Provinces. I have absolutely no intention of competing with any politician or any other faction. For the benefit of the Tamil community, the Diaspora and political parties and groups active in Sri Lanka should forge a common alliance to uplift the living standards of the people. I have no political agenda or expect propaganda mileage at the expense of the long suffering civilians.

KP defended his decision to work with the government following his capture in the first week of August last year. He said it was ludicrous if anyone though anything could be done without engaging the government of Sri Lanka. Depending on the circumstances, he said "we would have to work with the relevant ministries, including Defence, External Affairs and the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation".

Q: Would you mind commenting on LTTE fund raising activity during the CFA?

A: The CFA gave a mega boost to our fund raising activity. There was no shortage of funds as we received vast amounts of money from various sources. Tsunami, too, brought us funds, though I could not comment specifically as I wasn’t involved in procurement. Castro, who ran our international branches from his base in Vanni, never cooperated with me. Following Prabhakaran’s killing in May last year, the Tamil Diaspora discussed all the issues including funds. Some of those who had controlled funds declined to cooperate, thereby causing a great deal of friction.

Q: How did your first meeting with the Defence Secretary go?

A: When I was apprehended and flown to Katunayake, I felt demoralized. I was anxious and believed my end was near. The collapse of the LTTE fighting formations in May and my capture in the first week of August 2009 caused me immense heartache. From Katunayake, I was driven to the residence of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya in Colombo, where I had the opportunity to meet the man widely believed to be an indefatigable and brilliant strategist. But within minutes, he allayed my fears and we had some tea and cake before I left the place. There were a few others including those who had planned my capture and brought me to Colombo.

As I entered the Defence Secretary’s residence, I saw a Buddha statue and felt confident that nothing bad could happen to me there.

With the blessings of the Defence Secretary, I brought nine Diaspora activists from Canada, UK, France, Switzerland, Australia and Germany to explore the possibility of cooperating in relief efforts. There is an urgent need to bridge a big gap between the ground reality and the thinking of the Diaspora. I had many sleepless nights before I went ahead with a plan to bring in the Diaspora activists to facilitate an understanding with the government. A section of the Diaspora is opposed to our move but at the end of the day there’ll be no way out. We’ll have to come to terms with an unprecedented situation in which the LTTE no longer wield military power. To the credit of the government, we were allowed to meet senior officials, including top Security Forces Commanders to exchange views. We never expected the army to welcome us warmly, particularly at Palaly, the main air base in the Jaffna peninsula.

Q: How did you follow the battle-field progress during August 2006-May 2009 period? Did the LTTE keep you informed of the ground situation first in the East and the Vanni region?

A: Although I was far away from the war zone, I knew what was going on in the Eastern and Northern battlefields. Our cadres were constantly under pressure and had no option but to gradually retreat as the Army advanced further into LTTE-held territory. As I pointed out earlier, the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks had prompted the international community to take entirely a different stand on the Sri Lankan war. I knew it was militarily IMPOSSIBLE to stop the army, but unfortunately Prabhakaran simply ignored the rapidly changing ground situation. The rest is history.

Q: You are a veteran in this game. What went wrong with your strategy on the North and East battlefields?

A: Prabhakaran was blind to the ground reality. Had he carefully studied 9/11 as well as President Rajapaksa’s advent to presidency and the gradual change in Sri Lanka’s strategy, the LTTE could have survived. Prabhakaran was a simple man, who pursued his goals ruthlessly and sometimes blindly paying no heed to consequences. A case in point was his decision to undermine the then Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government.

Q: What was your role during July 1987-March 1990?

A: I was away moving in and out of various countries, including Thailand, Cyprus and Malaysia.

Q: You have been working abroad for many years and following international developments? Would you comment on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq?

A: Afghanistan and Iraq are in crisis with international forces still trying to dominate hostile territory. Foreign intervention will only aggravate domestic problems and the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq are not an exception.

Q: Recently Karuna said that you would not enter politics as you have no political experience. What would you say to this? Did you meet LTTE negotiating teams led by Anton Balasingham during the Norwegian-arranged talks overseas?

A: Karuna is free to express his opinion. I have nothing to say about his opinion of me or what I am doing now. The need of the hour is to ensure the speedy implementation of post-war rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement process.

Prabhakaran appointed me as a member of our delegation led by Anton Balasingham for discussions with the Sri Lankan government. But some opposed my appointment on the basis it would give me an opportunity to visit various countries in the guise of meeting government representatives. They feared I would capitalize on talks in various capitals to engage in other business other than negotiations.

At one point Prabhakaran even wanted to replace Balasingham, as he didn’t approve of the way Anton handled the talks.

Some accuse me of working with the government and the military. What can one do without the help of the State apparatus to bring relief to the long suffering people? What do they expect me to do? Obtain assistance from the moon or work with the government to bring relief to war affected population. I will not be deterred by critics bent on picking holes …

Q: Did you try to persuade LTTE leader to refrain from suspending talks in April 2003?

A: Lack of trust caused the breakdown of talks. This was evident when I discussed CFA issues with Prabhakaran. Negotiating peace is not easy and can be more difficult than war. We also felt the absence of competent negotiators. Except Balasingham, LTTE negotiators were ordinary and simply failed to match the skills of government representatives. The government had Prof. G.L. Peiris and several other expert negotiators while we lacked experienced men.

Q: Was the CFA a ruse to develop your fighting capability in five years and then go for an all-out war?

A: Some have accused the LTTE of making such plans.

Q: Even after losing all its major bases in the East by mid 2007, did the LTTE believe it could regain the initiative and how?

A: Once the army had the initiative and the upper had on the Vanni battlefield we never could have changed the ground situation.

Q: Some analysts believe that Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE would not have been possible without the navy blocking the sea supply routes. Would you agree with that assertion?

A: Blockade of sea supply routes had been a major obstacle.

Q: Now that the war is over would it be possible for the once warring parties to sit down for talks and work on a common programme for the benefit of all communities?

A: I responded to a similar question earlier.

Q: There is no doubt that the LTTE had carefully studied the Sri Lankan political scene and taken timely decisions to advance its strategy? What made the group deny the northern voters their right to vote at the November 2005 presidential election, thereby paving the way for the then Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s election?

A: Prabhakaran may have felt that Wickremesinghe could not have had the strength to pursue negotiations to a successful conclusion. - courtesy: The Island -

ACT NOW launches global day of cction to boycott GAP Stores

Dear Friend,

As you may recall a key part of our strategy, to get Sri Lanka to the negotiating table to obtain a long lasting political settlement, a fair deal for the Tamils, involves a successful boycott campaign.

In essence this aims to starve Sri Lanka of income which in turn will bring pressure from their suffering public and political elites to resolve the problem (which will include a UN supervised referendum). Only by closing down the factories and stopping tourism do we stand a chance, only then will a new government will rise promising economic stability and peace, only then will the Tamil people be given a fair deal and be able to live without fear.

Already thanks to allot of pressure from our dedicated campaigners we have succeeded in persuading the EU to remove their generous GSP+ Tax concession from Sri Lanka (August 15th). We also know that the British store NEXT are considering pulling out of Sri Lanka (due to the loss of the GSP+). Now is the time to redouble our efforts!

As you may know we recently launched with our American counterparts a global campaign specifically targeting GAP. GAP likes to promote itself as an ethical company and as it is global it make sense to join forces to target it.

We need to build upon our successes by expanding the boycott campaign. To give the boycott campaign 'wings' we need to win a scalp to put pressure on all the others to follow suit. It might be NEXT it might be GAP (which would be better because it is global) but until one officially confirms its pull-out we need to work even harder for this first one.

Act Now have produced a bespoke anti-GAP leaflet (copy of the front attached if able) for the UK as our contribution to another GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST GAP (Saturday 31st July).

This Day of Action will involve the picketing of GAP stores throughout the globe and here in the UK we will be targeting stores throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

London supporters should meet up at the two main GAP stores in Oxford Street:

a) 223-225 Oxford Street (50 yards to the right outside Oxford Circus tube) or

b) 376-384 Oxford Street (500 yards to the left of Oxford Circus tube)

Both starting at 12.00 noon (please be on time!).

The boycott campaign is the first step and we hope to expand this with a growing number of pickets over the coming months. If you want to see peace and justice for Tamils then please play your part by attending one of our pickets. If you are outside London please contact us if you want to run/or join one of the other groups. Feel free to circulate this message to those friends who might be willing to attend. SEE YOU THERE!

For further information, please contact:
Tim Martin, Director, Act Now
Tel: +44(0)7817 504 227
Email: info.actnow@gmail.com
Site: www.act-now. info

Graham Williamson, Director, Act Now
Tel: +44(0)7970 455 445
Email: info.actnow@gmail.com
Site: www.act-now. info

July 30, 2010

What is happening to the Ex-LTTE cadre surrendees?

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Conclusion of the long drawn out war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization has been welcomed by all sections of Sri Lankan society in particular and the international community in general.

Even as war ravaged Sri Lankans breathe a collective sigh of relief and attempt to get on with their lives in a post-war scenario ,it is important to note that the armed conflict's end does not necessarily mean that the national question generally referred to as the "Tamil problem" has been satisfactorily resolved. [click here to read in full ~ on dbsjeyaraj.com]

July 29, 2010

Proposals made by the All Party Representatives Committee to form the basis of a new constitution

by R. Yogarajan and Nizam Kariapper

His Excellency The President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 11th July, 2006 at the All Party Conference (APC) decided to appoint a committee of representatives of the parties at APC called the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) and mandated it to formulate a draft proposal for Constitutional reform. The President mandated the APRC to evolve a ‘home‐grown new constitution’ which will provide ‘a comprehensive approach to the resolution of the national
question’.

The initial members of this Committee are given in Annexure 1

The All Party Representative committee in its first meeting unanimously selected Hon. Professor Tissa Vitharana as its Chairman. All proceedings of this committee have been recorded verbatim. This was done with the assistance of
the Hansard reporters of Parliament whose services were made available to
the APRC.

The All Party Representative committee since July, 2006 met weekly, almost every week, deliberating more than three to four hours each time.

A panel of experts were also constituted by His Excellency the President to facilitate the APRC process. This panel of experts after deliberating among themselves produced two reports which were made available to the APRC in
December 2006.

Based on these two reports the Chairman of the APRC Prof. Tissa Vitharana on 13th August, 2007 presented a draft containing the main features to form the basis of a new constitution.

This draft contained 21 Chapters of various aspects of a new constitution and since August 2007 for almost two years APRC discussed each of the chapters separately seeking inputs from political parties through their representatives at the APRC.

These discussions finally came to conclusion in June, 2010 (completing 128 meetings) by which time the committee reached consensus in respect of almost all the chapters. And it was agreed based on this consensus that a final report be compiled by the chairman. Accordingly a final report was compiled and presented to His Excellency the President.

We in the APRC expected that the President will commence a dialogue with the main opposition United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance, which parties were not part of the said APRC process, based on the final report
of the APRC and then will present a proposal for a new constitution.

Though it was reported in the Media a final report was submitted to the President by the Chairman, we found there had not been a release of this final report either to the members of the APRC, main opposition political party, the
United National Party or the Tamil National Alliance or to the public.

It is in these circumstances we, R. Yogarajan (presently a Member of Parliament representing United National Party) who represented the Ceylon Workers’ Congress at the APRC till its conclusion and M Nizam Kariapper who represented the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in the APRC decided to compile the final report based on the final draft discussion papers on each subject presented by the Chairman and amendments made by the APRC at the final
APRC meetings with the help of the proceedings that were made available.

The final report is attached in Annexure 2.

We are confident that this final report compiled by us reflects correctly the decisions taken by the APRC and should be in conformity with the final report submitted by Prof Tissa Vitharana Chairman of APRC.

R Yogarajan M Nizam Kariapper
Member of Parliament Deputy Secretary General
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress

Dated 19th July 2010

Salient features of the said Final Report are set out here for easy access Nature of the State:

The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State in the sense in which it shall be deemed to be an undivided and integrated state structure where the state power shall be shared between the Centre and the Provinces Form of Government:

Sri Lanka should adopt a Parliamentary form of government at the centre.

Status of Buddhism:

The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while according to all religions the rights guaranteed by Articles 10 and
14 (1)(e) of the 1978 Constitution.

Official Languages and National Languages:

Sinhala and Tamil the National Languages, shall be the Official Languages of Sri Lanka.
Use of the English Language:

English may be used for official purposes.

Supremacy of the Constitution:

The supremacy of the Constitution shall be recognized, and protected by a Constitutional Court, which would be part of the existing Court structure but separate from the Supreme Court. All acts of commission or omission of the
Centre and of the Provinces inconsistent with the Constitution shall be void.

Safeguards against secession:

There should be in‐built mechanisms to discourage secessionist tendencies and to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. The Provinces and local authorities shall be constitutionally mandated to preserve
national unity and the indivisibility of the Republic.

Electoral system:

The APRC accepts that there shall be a mixed electoral system which combines the first past the post system (FPP) on an electorate basis and proportional representation system (PR) on a party basis with two ballot papers, in which the system of proportional representation prevails.

Power sharing:

The powers of the people will be shared at three tiers of the government namely at the Central Government, Provincial government and Local government. Each tier will have separate lists of powers provided through the Constitution.

Senate:

A Senate will be created by which the Provinces will able to play a role in the national legislature. It would also act as an in‐built mechanism against hasty legislation that may have an adverse effect on the Provinces.

It is proposed that each of the Provinces is represented by seven Senators, making up a total of 63, elected on the basis of a single transferable vote system by the Members of the Respective provincial legislatures. In addition, there shall be 10 Senators selected by the community Councils (one for the Muslims living outside the North and East , and the other for the Indian Tamils). The President of the Republic nominates two persons to represent unrepresented community groups.

Community Council:

There shall be two Community Councils, one for Indian Tamils and one for Muslims, outside the North and East without territorial focus to serve the development needs of the members of the communities wherever they may
be living in Sri Lanka outside the North and the East.

Distribution of powers between Central and Provincial:

The distribution of powers should be explicit and devoid of ambiguity. The concurrent list is abolished and the said powers distributed between the central list and provincial list appropriately. A third list has been compiled
expressly stating the powers of Local Authorities.

National and Provincial Higher Appointments Council:

There should be a National Higher Appointments Council to ensure the independence of the state services and that of the judiciary of the Republic.

The Higher Appointments Council shall consist of The Prime Minister, The Speaker, The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, and six persons appointed by the President on the nomination of a Committee of Parliament proportionally composed of all parties represented in Parliament which should include three persons to represent minority interests appointed in consultation with Members of Parliament who belong to the respective minority
communities. The speaker shall be the Chairman.

A Provincial Higher appointment Board will also be constituted comprising Chief Minister, Chairman of the Council, Leader of the Opposition and six other distinguished persons appointed by the governor nominated by a Committee
of Members of the Council representing all political parties.

The composition of the Provincial Board shall as far as possible reflect the ethnic composition of the province.

Amendment Procedure:

The substance of Articles 82 (5) and 83 of the 1978 Constitution shall be retained.

A Bill to amend the Constitution or replace it with a new Constitution should be approved by 2/3 of the members of each House of Parliament sitting and voting separately.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. State, Sovereignty, People
2. Form of Government
3. Individual and Group Rights
4. Buddhism
5. Language
6. Supremacy of the Constitution
7. Safeguards Against Secession
8. The Electrical System
9. Power Sharing
10. Unit of Devolution
11. Meeting the Aspirations of the Muslims and Indian Tamils
12. Distribution of Powers
13. Land and Water
14. Judiciary
15. The Public Service
16. Finance
17. Defense, National Security and Law and Order
18. Local Government
19. Centre ‐ Provincial Relations
20. Independence of the Judiciary and of the Public Service
21. Amendment Procedure
22. Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties

Representatives of Political Parties at All Party Representatives Committee

1. Lanka Sama Samaja Party Hon. Prof. Tissa Vitharana M. P
2. Sri Lanka Freedom Party Hon. Prof. Viswa Warnapala M.P
3. United National Party ( Dem group) Hon. P Dayaratne M. P
4. Communist Party of Sri Lanka Mr. Rajah Collure
5. Ceylon Workers’ Congress Mr. R Yogarajan
6. Sri Lanka Muslim congress Mr. M Nizam Kariapper
7. National Unity Alliance Mr. Abdul Kalam
8. Jathika Hela Urumaya Mr. Udaya Gammanpila
9. Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Prof. Nalin de Silva
10. Upcountry Peoples Front Mr. S Vijesandiran
11. All Ceylon Muslim Congress Mr. Y L S Hameed
12. National Congress Dr. Adambawa Uthumalebbe
13. Western Peoples Front Dr. N Kumaragurubaran
14. Ealam People’s democratic Party Mr. S Thavarajah
Ms. Maheshwary Velautham
Mr. Sivathasan
15. Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal Ms. Sivageetha Prabaharan

MAIN PROPOSALS TO FORM THE BASIS OF A FUTURE CONSTITUTION

1. THE PEOPLE, THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY.
The following shall be contained in the Constitution:

1:1 Sri Lanka is a Free, Sovereign and Independent State and shall be known as the Republic of Sri Lanka.

1.2 The Republic of Sri Lanka is a unitary State in the sense in which it shall be deemed to be an undivided and integrated state structure where the state power shall be shared between the Centre and the Provinces (agreed
compromise).

[1:2 Original positions of political parties:

(a) The Republic of Sri Lanka is a unitary State (supported by SLFP)

or

(b) The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be one, free, sovereign and independent State in which the institutions of the Centre and of the Provinces shall exercise power in the manner provided for in the Constitution (supported by UNPD, CWC, UPF, DPF, SLMC, ACMC, NUA, NC, EPDP, TMVP, LSSP, CP). ]

1.3 The State shall be obliged to safeguard the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic and to preserve and advance a Sri Lankan identity, recognizing the multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of Sri Lankan society.

1.4 The People of Sri Lanka is composed of the Sinhala, Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim, Indian Tamil, Malay, Burgher and other constituent peoples of Sri Lanka. The right of every constituent people to develop its own language, to develop and promote its culture and to preserve its history and the right to its due share of state power including the right to due representation in institutions of government shall be recognized while strengthening the common Sri Lankan identity. This shall not in any way be construed as authorising or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of the Republic.

5 In the Republic, Sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable.

6 Sovereignty includes the power of government, fundamental rights and the franchise and shall be exercised in the following manner:

a) The legislative power of the People shall be exercised, directly by the People at a Referendum, by Parliament and by Provincial Legislatures to the extent and in the manner provided in the Constitution.

b) The executive power of the People shall be exercised by the President of the Republic acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, and by the Governors of the Provinces acting on the advice of the respective Chief Ministers and the Provincial Boards of Ministers.

c) The franchise shall be exercised at the election of Members of Parliament and of Members of Provincial Legislatures and members of Local Authorities and at every Referendum by every citizen who has attained the age of eighteen years, and who, being qualified to be an elector, has the citizen's name entered in the register of electors.

FORM OF GOVERNMENT

2.1 It is recommended that Sri Lanka should adopt a Parliamentary form of government at the Centre.

2.2 The executive powers of the Centre shall be exercised by the President who shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. The President shall appoint as Prime Minister, the Member of Parliament who, in his opinion is best able to command the support of the majority of the members of Parliament:

Provided that where more than one-half of the members of Parliament are members of a single political party or alliance, the President shall appoint the leader of that party or alliance in Parliament as the Prime Minister.

2.3 The transfer of executive powers to Parliament shall take place at the end of the current term of office of the President. In the interim period the President shall be deemed to be a Member of Parliament and shall be responsible and answerable to Parliament in regard to the exercise of executive power. Necessary transitional provisions to this effect shall be provided.

2.4 In this document references to the President, denote the President during the interim period and thereafter the President acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers.

2.5 At the end of the next term of the President, the new President shall be elected by both Houses of Parliament.

2.6 There shall be one Vice President, who shall not be a Member of Parliament and shall belong to a community distinct to that of the President, elected by both Houses of Parliament, and shall hold office for a term of two years.

2.7 The office of the Vice President shall be rotated among all communities other than the community to which the President belongs at the time of electing the Vice President.

3. INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP RIGHTS

3:1 The Constitution shall have a comprehensive Bill of Rights that guarantees not only civil and political rights but also group, social, economic, cultural, women's and children's rights. The following provisions should be included in the Bill of Rights:

Every person has an inherent right to life and a person shall not be arbitrarily deprived of life.

A person shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

A person shall not be arrested, imprisoned or otherwise physically restrained except in accordance with procedure prescribed by law.

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law.

No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds. Provided that it shall be lawful to require a person to acquire within a reasonable time sufficient knowledge of any language as a qualification for any employment or office in the Public, Judicial or Local Government Service or in the service of any public corporation, where such knowledge is reasonably necessary for the discharge of the duties of such employment or office. Provided further that it shall be lawful to require a person to have a sufficient knowledge of any languages as a qualification for any such employment or office where no function of the employment or office can be discharged otherwise than with a knowledge of that language.

Every person lawfully resident within the Republic is entitled to freedom of movement within the Republic and of choosing such person's residence within the Republic; every citizen shall be entitled to leave and to return to the Republic.

Every person has the right to respect for such person's private and family life, home, correspondence and communications and shall not be subjected to unlawful attacks on such person's honour and reputation.

(h) Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion including the freedom to hold opinions and to have or to adopt a religion or belief of the person's choice.

(i) Every person is entitled to the freedom of speech and expression including publication and this right shall include the freedom to express opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium.

(j) Every person is entitled to the freedom of peaceful assembly.

(k) Every person is entitled to the freedom of association.

(1) Every citizen is entitled alone or in association with others to enjoy and promote such citizen's own culture and to use such citizen's own language.

(m) Every citizen is entitled to the freedom to engage alone or in association with others in any lawful occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprise.

(n) Every citizen is entitled to own property alone or in association with others subject to the preservation and protection of the environment and the rights of the community.

(o) Pregnant and lactating women shall be provided special care by the society.

(p) Every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation; to family care or parental care or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment; and, to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services.

(q) Every child between the ages of five and fourteen years shall have access to free education provided by the State.

(r) A child shall not be employed in any hazardous activity.

(s) A person shall not be required to perform forced labour.

(t) Every person has the right to safe conditions of work.

(u) Every citizen has the right to have access to health-care services including emergency medical treatment; sufficient food and water; and appropriate social assistance.

(v) A person shall not be evicted from the person's home or have the home demolished, except as permitted by law.

(w) Where a Proclamation has been duly made under the Public Security Ordinance derogation from the exercise and operation of these fundamental rights to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation and necessary in a democratic society, provided that such measures do not involve discrimination solely on the grounds of ethnicity, class, religion, gender, sex, language, caste, national or social origin, is permitted.

3:2 There shall be adequate machinery for enforcement of these rights at national and provincial level. In addition to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal sitting in the Provinces shall have a fundamental rights jurisdiction for enforcement of fundamental rights.

3.2a The Human Rights Commission shall be recognized by the Constitution.

3.3 In respect of disadvantaged communities, clearly defined affirmative action should be considered. Such affirmative action should be time-bound and should be subject to periodical review to ensure that they do not go out of hand.

3.4 Where a public officer is found by the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal to have violated a fundamental right of a person, such finding shall trigger off disciplinary action against such officer.

BUDDHISM

The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while according to all religions the rights guaranteed by Articles 10 and 14(l)(e) of the 1978 Constitution.

5. LANGUAGE

5.1 Official Languages and National Languages

Sinhala and Tamil the National Languages, shall be the Official Languages of Sri Lanka.

5.2 Use of the English Language

English may be used for official purposes.

5.3 Languages of Representative Democratic Institutions

Members of Representative Democratic Institutions (to wit: the Parliament, the Provincial Councils and Local Authorities) should be entitled to conduct business in their institutions in either Official Language, by providing the necessary facilities for their use, and in English where facilities for the same exist.

5.4 Mediums of Instruction in Education.

(a) Any person should be entitled to be educated in the medium of either national language or in English where facilities are available.

(b) A person shall be entitled to be instructed in any course, department or faculty of any higher educational institution in any official language of the persons choice or in English if instruction in such language at such institution is reasonably practical.

However if one official language is used as the medium of instruction for a particular course in a university or higher educational institution a similar course should be made available in such university or higher educational institution in the other official language as well, or in the alternative be made available in another university / or higher educational institution.

5.5 Use of Languages in the Administration

Both Sinhala and Tamil should be Administrative Languages of Sri Lanka. In the provinces outside the Northern and the Eastern provinces the language of administration and that of record should be Sinhala.

In the Northern and Eastern Provinces the language of administration and that of record should be Tamil.

Where one Official Language is the administrative language in a province citizens who are not proficient in that language should have the right to communicate with the government and semi government institutions as well as to obtain documents or translations of documents to which they are entitled to as the case may be in either of the other Official Languages or in English wherever facilities are provided.

Setting up of a Bilingual Administration

The fullest implementation of the State Policy on Language requires the establishment of an administration which uses both Official Languages for the purpose. A time frame may be established by law for the purpose.

Bilingual Administrative Divisions

As a transitional first step the government and semi government institutions in divisions where the language of the minority community comprise 1/8 or more of the total population of the division should be required to provide services in both official languages.

Provision of Service in both the Official Languages and English

The ultimate objective should be to develop the administration into one which can provide services
in both the official languages as well as in English.

Mediums of Admission to Public Services and Language Proficiency of Public Servants.

A person shall be entitled to be examined through the medium of either Sinhala or Tamil or a language of his choice at any examination for the admission of persons to the Public Service, Judicial Service, Provincial Public Service,Local Government Service or any public institution, subject to the condition that he may be required to acquire a sufficient knowledge of Tamil or Sinhala, as the case may be, within a reasonable time after admission to such service or public institution where such knowledge of Tamil or Sinhala, as the case may be, within a reasonable time after admission to such service or public institution where such knowledge is reasonably necessary for the discharge of his duties. Proficiency in English may be made compulsory for admission to any public service which requires such proficiency. Those who join the public service may be required to attain a requisite level of proficiency in the English language within a reasonable period of time to enable them to
enhance the quality of their service.

5.10 Languages in the Administration of Justice

Language of the Courts should be both Sinhala and Tamil. Both Sinhala and Tamil together with English shall be the language of records and proceedings of the Supreme Courts and the Court of Appeal. The Courts in the provinces should maintain their records in the language of the province. When a Court functions in one official language the judges of the court, jurors if any and parties to court actions who are not proficient in that language should be provided with interpretations of the proceedings and translating of documents in the other official language wherever necessary.

The Minister in charge of the subject of Justice should be empowered to direct, with the concurrence of the Cabinet of Ministers, that a language other than an official language be used in relation to the records and proceedings of any Court.

5.11 Use of Languages in Notifications etc. under the Law

All orders, proclamations, rules, by- laws, regulations and notifications made or issued under any written law (including statutes of the provincial councils) by any Provincial Council or Local authority and documents, including circulars and forms issued or used by any such body or any public institution, should be published in both Official Languages with a translation in English.

5.12 Languages for use in Enacting Laws

All laws and subordinate legislation should be enacted and published in both Official Languages with a translation in English. In the event of any inconsistency between any two such texts of any Act, Statute or provision of subordinate legislatin, each such text shall be regarded as equally authoritative unless the authority enacting or making such written law shall otherwise provide.

5.13 Maintenance of Public Records by National Public Institutions.

The Official Languages, and where expedient English, should be used for the maintenance of public records by national ministries and the head offices of all national public institutions irrespective of their locations.

A person in any part of Sri Lanka should be able to communicate and transact business with any public institution in any of the Official Languages or in English and to receive response to such communication in the same language.

5.14 Statements to the Police

A person in any part of Sri Lanka should be able to give information to a police or peace officer in regard to the commission of an offence and make statements when
required by a police officer in either of the Official Languages, or English.

5.15 Languages used in Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates

A person should be entitled to give information as regards any birth, death or marriage in either of the official languages and to receive the original certificate of such birth, death or marriage in the language in which it was given or in the language of record in the area together with a translation in the official language of his choice,
or English.

5.16 Teaching of Languages

Both national languages and English should be subjects in the curricula of all schools in the Republic.

5.17 Promotion of the Learning of Official Languages and English State should promote the citizens to gain proficiency in the Official Languages and English.

5.18 Use of other Languages

(a) State should provide facilities for learning other languages used by Sri Lankan citizens such as Veddah, Malay, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Sindhi, Gujarati, Telugu, Chinese, Portuguese, language and the sign language.

(b) State should promote Pali, Sanskrit, Arabic and Latin which are used for religious purposes in Sri Lanka.

5.19 Implementation

The Parliament by law should provide for the implementation of the proposed State Policy on the use of Languages as set out in this document.

6. SUPREMACY OF THE CONSTITUTION

6.1 The supremacy of the Constitution shall be recognized, and protected by a Constitutional Court, which would be part of the existing Court structure but separate from the Supreme Court. All acts of commission or omission of the Centre and of the Provinces inconsistent with the Constitution shall be void.

6.2 The holder of the office of President should have personal immunity for any executive action taken by him as long as he holds office. However, all executive actions of the President should be subject to judicial review.

6.3 Legislation, whether national or provincial, shall be subject to post-enactment judicial review by the Supreme Court which shall have power to declare such legislation void to the extent of inconsistency with the Constitution.
To mitigate hardships that may be caused by legal provisions being struck down sometime after enactment, the
Supreme Court shall have the power to limit the retrospective effect of a declaration of invalidity in appropriate cases.

7. SAFEGUARDS AGAINST SECESSION

7.1 There should be in-built mechanisms to discourage secessionist tendencies and to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. The Provinces and local authorities shall be constitutionally mandated to preserve national unity and the indivisibility of the Republic.

7.2 A Provincial Legislature or Provincial Government shall not, by direct or indirect means, promote or otherwise advocate or attempt to promote or otherwise advocate an initiative towards the separation or secession of any Province or part thereof, from the Republic.

7.3 Emergency power for the Centre to intervene in the Provinces in the event of a "clear and present" danger to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State and in cases where the Provincial authorities request the intervention of the Centre, shall be clearly spelt out in the Constitution. Accordingly, the Constitution should provide for the following:-

7.3 (a) A declaration of an emergency in a Province, where the President is of opinion that the security or public order of the Province is threatened by armed insurrection, grave internal disturbances or by any act or omission of the Provincial Government which presents a clear and present danger to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic. This would empower the President to deploy the National Police or the armed forces or the to restore public order and to make regulations in respect of any matter in the National List or in respect of defence, national security or law and order.

7.3 (b) There may be instances where the Provincial authorities feel the need to obtain the assistance of the Centre to deal with a situation of emergency in that Province. In such circumstances a declaration of emergency in a Province would be done by the President upon being advised by the Governor, consequent to advice given to him by the Chief Minister. This would empower the President to authorise officials of the Centre to exercise powers
in respect of subjects in the Provincial List, and, for the President to make regulations with respect to any matter in the Provincial List as may be specified by the Governor acting on the advice of the Chief Minister.

7.3 (c) Where the President is of opinion that a situation has arisen in which a Provincial Legislature / Government is promoting an armed rebellion or insurrection, or is engaging in the intentional violation of specified provisions of the Constitution relating to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic and that the exercise of powers by the Provincial authorities presents a clear and present danger to the unity and sovereignty of the Republic, the President would be empowered to assume all or any of the functions of the Province and in an extreme situation, to dissolve in terms of the Constitution the errant Provincial Legislature.

7.4 The above acts of the President under paragraph 7.3(a), (b) and (c) shall be subject to Judicial control and Parliamentary control as well. The principles of democracy and equity should be upheld and the Constitution held supreme.

7.5 The Centre shall protect every Province against external aggression and internal disturbance and ensure that the Government of every Province is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

8. THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

The APRC is of the view that an electoral system evolved on the principles enunciated below is acceptable for a future Constitution.

8.1 The APRC accepts that there should be a mixed electoral system which combines the first past the post (FPP) on an electorate basis and proportional representation (PR) on a party basis, in which preferably the system of proportional representation prevails.

8.2 There shall be two ballot papers per elector, one to choose the electorate representative and the other to choose the party of his choice, on a district (or national) proportional representation basis.

8.3 Territorial constituencies shall be demarcated so to enable the minority communities to have their equitable share in the House of Representatives. Multi-member constituencies shall be established in areas of mixed populations, where appropriate.

A Delimitation Commission with minority representation should be established for the purpose as soon as possible.

8.4 Political alliances shall be recognised if formed and registered with the Elections Commission prior to handing over of nominations for the election.

8.5 All citizens who are otherwise eligible to be electors shall be entitled to be registered as voters, even if displaced internally or externally, or, are resident abroad, and should be provided with facilities to exercise the franchise. Sufficient safeguards should be instituted by the Elections Commission to prevent abuses.

9. POWER SHARING

The key to fulfilling the mandate given to the APRC by the President, Mahinda Rajapakse to prepare a set of proposals that would form the basis for working out a solution to the ethnic problem is the empowerment of all citizens equally. He states that "he proposes to achieve a peaceful political solution to the ethnic problem by strengthening maximally the powers conferred on every citizen".

Earlier attempts to solve the ethnic problem sought to achieve a solution by devolving powers to the provinces, under the terms of the 13th Amendment to the present Consititution. The failure to adequately devolve power prevented the achievement of the adequate and equal empowerment of all citizens, that is required to solve the ethnic problem. Therefore, working on the principle of subsidiarity that gives maximal power to the citizen at the level of the village and of local government, and gives the residual powers appropriately to the higher levels of governance, the APRC has prepared a system of government that strengthens the powers conferred on every citizen maximally.

Accordingly, there are three tiers of government; Central Government, Provincial Government and Local Government, each tier having a separate list of powers provided through the Constitution. The Local Government tier is based on the Grama Sabha and the Ward Sabha respectively at the village and town levels, and they can make the relevant bylaws.

This would enable every citizen to exercise power maximally. By devolving powers to the Provincial Government with the right to frame the necessary legislation, power is brought closer to the people. This is further strengthened by giving maximal administrative powers to the District and Divisions without retaining all of them at the Provincial level. (See Annex 3 for Lists of Powers of the Centre, the Provinces and the Local Government institutions).

The Centre Parliament

9.1 (a) There shall be a Parliament at the Centre comprising of the House of Representatives elected by the People and the Senate elected by the provincial legislatures. Parliamentary control shall be construed to mean control by both Houses of Parliament.

9.1(b) The House of Representatives shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for a period of six years from the date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the said period of six years shall operate as a dissolution of the House.

9.1(c) There shall be 225 members in the House of Representatives of whom a proportion will be elected from terriorial constituencies on a first past the post (FPP) basis. The balance will be chosen by a separate balot to determine support for individual parties.

9.1 (d) The Consultative Committees of Parliament shall be replaced by Steering Committees . A returns to an Executive Committee systems is risk possible, but the opportunity should be given to members of Parliament including the oppositin to play a more constructive role in
framing and implementing Legislation.

9.1(e) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be the Chairman of the Higher Appointments Committee (currently, the Constitutional Council).

9.1 (f) The Senate would enable the Provinces to play a role in the national legislature. It would also act as an in-built mechanism against hasty legislation that may have an adverse effect on the Provinces. Such a Senate is found in almost every country where there is substantial devolution of power. A Senate should be considered a unifying mechanism. It would also function as a mechanism to rectify possible imbalances of representation in the House of Representatives. The Senate could also facilitate consensus building amongst interest groups.

9.1 (g) In determining the size of the Senate there is the need to maintain a fair balance between the Senate and the House of Representatives. A ratio of 1:3 between the membership of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives is desirable. It is proposed that each of the Provinces is represented by seven Senators, making up a total of 63, elected on the basis of a single transferable vote system by the members of the respective provincial legislatures. In addition, there shall be 10 Senators selected by the Community Councils (one for the Muslims, and the other for the Tamils living outside the North and the East). The President of the Republic can nominate two people to represent unrepresented community groups.

9.1 (h) The election of members of the Senate shall be done in a manner that will facilitate the representation of the different communities and smaller political parties. In electing representatives to the Senate, it must be ensured that every district in a Province is represented.

9.1 (i) One-third of the total number of Senators shall vacate office every two years. The Senators of the first Senate who shall be required to vacate at the end of two years, and, at the end of four
years, shall be decided by drawing lots.

9.1 (j) The Senate shall be presided over by the Vice-President of the Republic who shall not have a right to vote but would nonetheless be entitled to a casting vote.

9.1 (k) The Chief Ministers who constitute the Chief Ministers Conference, shall be ex-officio Senators, and, like the Vice President who is the Chairman of the Senate, will not have voting rights.

9.1 (1) The Senate shall not have the power to initiate Bills.

9.1 (m) The Senate shall have the power to pass all Bills referred to it from the House of Representative, with the power, if the members of the Senate so decide, to refer the Bill back to the House within a period of 90 days, with a request for it to be reconsidered or amended.

9.1 (n) The Senate shall sit in a joint session with the House of Representatives to debate, whenever that House proposes an amendment to the Constitution. However the voting will be done separately and 2/3 of the total number in each chamber should support an amendment before it can be accepted.

9.1 (o) The Senate, jointly with the House of Representatives, shall have the authority to appoint Tribunals to arbitrate any dispute that may arise between the Centre and the Provinces and the Provinces inter se. National Executive

9.2(a) There shall only be Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The number of Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister shall not exceed 30, and, the number of Deputy Ministers shall not exceed 30.

9.2(b) After the interim period, the President shall appoint all Ministers and Deputy Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

9.2(c) The Ministers and Deputy Ministers at the Centre shall consist of members of both Houses of Parliament, namely the House of Representatives and the Senate, but excluding its Chairman.

9.2(d) The Cabinet of Ministers should, in principle, reflect the pluralistic character of Sri Lanka and
also be representative of the Provinces of Sri Lanka.

The Provinces

Provincial Legislature

9.3(a) Each of the provincial legislatures shall consist of the number of members as determined by or under law. The elections to provincial legislatures shall be on the basis of a mixed system of First Past the Post and Proportional Representation.

9.3(b) A Provincial Legislature shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for a period of five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the said period of five years shall operate as a dissolution of the Legislature.

9.3(c) The Governor of a Province may from time to time prorogue or dissolve the Legislature: Provided that he shall exercise these powers in accordance with the advice of the Chief Minister, so long as the Board of Ministers commands, the support of the majority of the Legislature, except as a result of direction from the President acting under paragraph 7.3(c).

9.3 (d) There shall be Steering Committees in every Provincial Legislature.

9.3 (e) A Province may decide on the design of its own flag and emblem. The design shall be subject to approval by two-thirds majority in the respective provincial legislature.

Provincial Executive

9.4 (a) The President, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, shall appoint a suitable person as the Governor of a Province, provided that the Prime Minister shall have obtained the concurrence of the incumbent Chief Minister of the Province prior to tendering his advice.

9.4 (b) The normal term of office of the Governor shall be five years, but however, he shall hold
office at the pleasure of the President.

9.4 (c) The Governor shall appoint as Chief Minister, the member of the Provincial Legislature who in his opinion is best able to command the support of the majority of the members of that Legislature:

Provided that where more than one-half of the members elected to a Provincial Legislature are members of a single political party or political alliance, the Governor shall appoint the leader of that party or alliance in the Legislature, as the Chief Minister.

9.4 (d) The Governor shall appoint the other Ministers of the Board of Ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. The number of Ministers inclusive of the Chief Minister of the Province shall not exceed 20 per centum of the total number of members of the legislature of that Province.

There shall be no Deputy Ministers in a Province. The Board of Ministers shall reflect the ethnic character of the Province.

9.4(e) There shall always be a Board of Ministers for a Province even after the dissolution of the Provincial Legislature, and hence, the existing Board of Ministers shall continue in office during dissolution of the Legislature and until its successor assumes charge of office except when the Legislature is dissolved under the provisions of section 9.3(c).

9.4(f) If in terms of paragraph 7.3(c), the President assumes all powers of a Province, he shall forthwith appoint a Council of Advisors, consisting of not less than five and not more than seven members to aid and advise the Governor of that Province in the exercise of the executive powers of the Province.

9.4 (g) There shall be an Advocate General for every Province appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. It shall be the duty of the Advocate-General to give advice to the Governor, the Chief Minister and the other Ministers of the Province upon such legal matters and perform such other duties in relation thereto, as may be from time to time referred or assigned to him by the Governor or the Chief Minister.

District Council

9.5(a) There shall be a District Council for every administrative district of Sri Lanka. The Council shall be constituted by the members of the Provincial Legislature elected from that District and the Chairman or a representative from each local body. The members of a District Council shall elect one amongst them as its Chairman. The Government Agent (to be redesignated as the District Commissioner) of the District shall, ex officio, be the Secretary of the Council. Members of Parliament of that District may attend meetings, but they will have voting rights only in relation to approval of Central government projects.

9.5(b) The Chairman of the District Council shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the District while
the District Commissioner shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the District.

9.5(c) The District Council will form the link between the Provincial Government (and Legislature) and the District including the divisional secretariats and local authorities within that District.

The District Council will also perform a Co-ordinating function with the institutions of the
Centre.

9.5(d) A District Council will provide services to the people, and exercise powers as follows:

(i) To initiate action in the formulation of any development project relevant to the district in respect of any subject in the Provincial List.

(ii) To approve the annual development plan for the district.

(iii) To oversee the implementation of approved development projects in the district.

UNIT OF DEVOLUTION

10.1 The unit of devolution should, as far as practicable, consist of a geographically contiguous territory, be conducive to balanced regional development and be designed to enhance administrative efficiency. Differences in endowments are to be expected among units. Taking into consideration the existing circumstances the appropriate unit of devolution would be the Province.

10.2 Factors such as ethnicity and language cannot be excluded in all situations and there may have to be exceptions in order to address security and other concerns of communities. Ideally such exceptions should be limited in time and ultimately, ethnicity should not be the main criterion for the establishment of units. This should not, however, preclude special arrangements being put in place to address such concerns.

10.3 The feasibility/desirability of reducing the number of provinces outside the North and East may also be considered at the commencement of the new Constitution.

Questions of merger of provinces can be considered in accordance with the provisions presently available in the 1978 Constitution and the Provincial Councils Act, No. 42 of 1987.

10.5 The cities of Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte and their environs shall form the Capital Territory which shall otherwise be a part of the Western Province. However, law and order in the Capital Territory shall be a matter for the Central Government.

11. MEETING THE ASPIRATIONS OF MUSLIMS AND INDIAN TAMILS

[11.1 Meeting the Aspirations of the Muslims

The main concerns and preferred solutions of the four (4) parties representing Muslim interests in the APRC (the SLMC, NUA, National Congress and ACMC) are the following:

11.1.1 The safety of the Muslims living in the North and the East.

11.1.2 Though the East is now a separate province the merger of the North and East in the future cannot be ruled out.

11.1.3 A genuine power sharing mechanism should be established to achieve the political aspirations of the Muslims.

11.1.4 There is the need to ensure that there is at least one Muslim majority
Devolved Unit in the country.

11.1.5 Such unit could be achieved by bringing the 3 adjoining Muslim majority electorates in the East - Kalmunai, Pottuvil and Sammanthurai - along with Muslim majority local bodies of the North and East to be included in one
territory with all the powers of a provincial council-legislative, executive and administrative. This would enable the Muslim political leaders to address the needs of a majority of the Muslims in the North and the East.

11.1.6 To ensure the safety of the minorities within the devolved unit there should be a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) of the Centre.

11.1.7 In the rest of the country, arrangements similar to that proposed for the Indian Tamils (establishment of a non-territorial Community Development Council) may be suitable for the welfare of the Muslim communities living outside the North and East.

11.2 Meeting the Aspirations of the Indian Tamils The main concerns and preferred solutions of the CWC, the UPF and the DPF are the following:

11.2.1 There should be a genuine power sharing mechanism with a constitutional executive structure which would ensure that the political aspirations of the Indian Tamils as a community is achieved.

11.2.2 There is a desire to have one contiguous territory in which the Indian Tamils could have the powers given to a Provincial Council-legislative, executive and administrative-and a Chief Minister. This Indian Tamil Territorial Council should be based in the areas with a high density of Indian Tamils in the Nuwara Eliya district ( Nuwara Eliya, Maskeliya and Kotmale electorates) and adjoining areas of the Kandy, Badulla and Ratnapura districts.

11.2.3 There should either be a separate non-territorial Indian Tamil Community Development Council, made up of the provincial council members of 6 identified provinces (Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Western and North Western), to directly address education, culture, infrastructure development and personal development needs of members of the Indian Tamil community in the country; or these powers could be exercised through the Indian Tamil Territorial Council.

11.3 Response of the other Parties of the APRC to the above Aspirations.

11.3.1 The APRC appreciates the concerns and desires of the parties representing the Muslim and Indian Tamil communities in the APRC to have for each of them a territorially defined power base where the two communities can exercise all the powers given to an existing province to address by themselves their own identity and developmental needs, have an assured Chief Minister of their own and also feel safe.

11.3.2 With regard to the issue of the North-East merger, the EPDP had expressed the view that it supports merger while accepting right of the Muslims to have an autonomous arrangement in the merged provinces. This position was supported by CWC, UPF and DPP (formerly WPP). The TMVP had stated that it accepts the verdict of the Supreme Court and it wishes that the people of the East be able to decide whether they should be merged with the North at a Referendum. The TMVP had also stated that such referendum should be held after two years of working within the demerged Eastern Province. Such arrangement to decide the issue of merger by a Referendum is acceptable to all the parties in the APRC. The Muslim Parties, however, insist that irrespective of the way in which a merger is achieved, a separate council with a Muslim majority as stated in paragraph 5 of their "aspirations" has to be accepted.

The APRC accepts that the demand of the Muslim parties for a separate council has to be considered in the event of a merger.

11.3.3 In defining the boundaries of local government bodies, without a doubt, there has been neglect of the interests of the minorities, in particular the Indian Tamils. These need to be rectified. In establishing the plantation based village committees, and other village committees, and the electorates for the provincial councils and national government due weightage should be given to the minorities. Before elections are held on the basis of any new

Constitution there should be a fresh delimitation process with a Delimitation Commission with minority representation, including the Muslims and Indian Tamils.

11.3.4 To ensure the safety and security of each community which is a minority in a province, there should be stationed in that province a unit of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) of the Centre, headed by an officer drawn from one of the communities that is a minority in that province. In every Police station in each province there should be at least one officer from each community, and more officers to ensure that the staff at the Police station represents each ethnic community in proportion to its population ratio in the province and the police area.

11.3.5 The SLFP and other parties namely JHU, UNP (D), LSSP, CP and MEP however feel that it is best that the creation of two new community based territories ("provinces") in the country is best avoided, as it would tend to increase existing differences among communities, strengthen the tendency to develop each community in isolation from the others, and reduce the move towards the integration of communities. In the circumstance the following alternative arrangements are suggested by these parties:-

a) A mechanism should be put in place for the parties which represent the minorities to join the administration following a provincial council election and be entitled to ministries as a matter of right based on their electoral strength.

b) In determining the number of ministries to be allocated to a minority community one of the following two criteria be used -the proportion of votes received by the candidates belonging to the parties representing that minority or the proportion of candidates elected from that community, taken as a whole.

c) The parties of the minority community can make a request to the Governor/Chief Minister of the province to have a separate ministry to serve the cultural and development needs of that community.

d) When minority parties join the Government the process of allocation of ministries should not be left to the discretion of the Chief Minister but be based on the application of an objective method like the d'Hondt formula with a
predetermined list of ministries.

e) Steering Committees should be established modeled on the Executives Committee as stated in Article 135 of the 2000 Draft Constitution, one for each ministry. There should be additional provision to ensure that as far as possible there is at least one representative from each minority group in each Steering committee, and mandatorily in the committee dealing with finance. Where the number of representatives of a minority is inadequate provision can be made for a minority representative to be in more than one committee, up to a specified limit.

f) There must be a representative each of the Muslims and the (Indian) Tamils in the Finance Commission.

11.3.6 Most of the minority parties in the APRC, specially those who represent the Tamils, however, feel that such alternative arrangements as stated in para 11.3.5 will only succeed in watering down the executive power resulting from the devolution process in the North and East and will not be beneficial to the Tamils living in those Provinces, whose expectation and demand is for executive authority in their majority area.]

11.4 Community Councils

11.4.1 There is a recognition of the need for an institutional mechanism to address directly the development needs of the Indian Tamil community and the Muslims living outside the North and East since they have no prospects of independently administering at the Centre or in any of the Provinces. The people of Indian Origin and Muslims outside the North and East aspire for a mechanism to directly intervene to address development issues particular to the communities.

11.4.2 There shall be two Community Councils, one for Indian Tamils and one for Muslims, outside the North and East without territorial focus to serve the development needs of the members of the communities wherever they may be living in Sri Lanka outside the North and the East.

11.4.3 The functions of the Community Councils shall be:

Implementation of policies, plans and programmes in respect of the communities, proposed by the Community Councils using the existing administrative machinery of the Centre, the Provinces and of the local authorities, for implementation of projects coming within the subjects under each of the levels.

Development of the socio economic infrastructure directly in relation to the communities.

c) Formulation of proposals and strategies for the provision of infrastructure facilities in areas inhabited by the said communities in subjects such as education, health, housing, water supply, roads and power for the improvement of the living conditions of the people; and in particular in areas of-

-Education
-Arts, culture and religion
-Vocational training
-Socio economic development
-Health, relief rehabilitation and social service
-Housing
-Personal development and grants (land, Samurdhi, scholarships etc) infrastructure development in the areas inhabited by the ethnic group.

Act as the co-ordinating and monitoring authority to ensure the implementation of the above development proposals by the relevant implementation agencies.

11.4.4 The Community Councils shall be constituted from the elected Provincial Council Members of the said communities. In whatever Province in which a substantial number of a community live but are unable to elect a member to the Provincial Council, the Governor shall nominate one person who is most representative of that community from among those who contested at the Provincial Council election to serve as a member of the Community Council.

11.4.5 The Community Councils shall have a Chairman who shall preside at meetings of the
Council.

11.4.6 The Chairman shall be elected by the Council by a simple majority.

11.4.7 The Chairman of the Community Council shall be an observer at the Chief Minister's Council for co-ordinated decision making at the National level upon a consultative basis.

11.4.8 The Community Councils shall function directly in association with the Minister of Finance.

11.4.9 The period of office of a member of a Community Council shall be the same as his period of
membership of a Provincial Council.

11.4.10 Notwithstanding any vacancies that might for whatever reason may occur, the Community Council shall continue to function during that interim period.

11.4.11 The Finance Commission shall make recommendations for funding the activities of the Community Councils and for implementation of programmes and projects formulated by the Community Councils taking into consideration the needs and extent of finances required to service the subject for which powers have been granted to the Community Councils also considering the population, the present development and the need for the future with the idea of bringing the communities on par with the National levels.

12. DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS

12.1 For devolution to be meaningful, it is proposed that the subjects and functions be categorized as belonging either to the National sphere or to the Provincial sphere.

12.2 The distribution of powers should be explicit and devoid of ambiguity. The Parliament should have no legislative power in respect of subjects and functions in the Provincial List while Provincial Legislatures should not have legislative powers in respect of subjects and functions in the National List. Where a subject or function not found in any List is ancillary to a subject or function already included in the Provincial List, such subject or function shall be deemed to be an item in the Provincial List. All other subjects and functions not explicitly listed in the two Lists
shall be deemed to be included in the National List.

12.3 Subjects such as Defence, National Security, Foreign Affairs, Citizenship, Immigration, Communication, National Transportation, International Commerce/Trade, Airports, Maritime Zones, Harbours and Ports (other than harbours without international transportation) and Shipping and Navigation which are necessary to ensure the sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic unity of Sri Lanka shall be reserved for the Centre.

12.4 Where national policy, national standards and national plans need to be formulated, it should be done through a participatory process with the involvement of the Provinces, culminating in framework legislation passed by Parliament. Framework legislation in respect of a devolved subject shall not amount to law applicable on the subject within Provinces, but a Province would be required to conform to such framework legislation when passing statutes. Where a Provincial statute or a provision thereof is inconsistent with the framework legislation, such statute or provision may be struck down by theSupreme Court.

12.5 There shall be two Lists which shall contain the subject matters regarding which the Centre and the Provinces may exercise their respective Legislative powers and Executive functions. These are:

(a) List I- National List (see Annex III)

(b) List II- Provincial List, (see Annex II)

12.6 Parliament shall have exclusive powers to legislate and exercise all executive functions in respect of List I, while the Provincial Legislatures shall have exclusive powers to legislate and exercise all executive functions in respect of List II.

12.7 There shall also be another list of subjects, List III, whose implementation shall be a matter for the local government institutions, the Pradeshiya Sabhas and Grama Sabhas and the Municipal/ Urban Councils and the Urban Ward Sabhas. Municipal/ Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas shall have the power to make by-laws on
subjects in this List consistent with the statutes of the Province.

12.8 A Pradeshiya Sabha or an Urban Council or a Municipal Council may delegate any of its functions for implementation to all Grama Sabhas or Urban Ward Sabhas in the area of its authority, as the case may be, transferring the appropriate financial provision along with that delegation.

13 LAND AND WATER

13.1 The Centre shall succeed to State land used by or assigned to the Central Government and its institutions in respect of subjects and functions in the National List at the commencement of the Constitution.

13.2 Every Province shall succeed to all other State land within the Province, subject to the rights of persons in lawful possession or occupation of such land. A Provincial Government shall be entitled to exercise rights in or over such land, including land tenure, transfer and alienation of land, land use, land settlement and land
improvement.

13.3 A Provincial Government may, after due consultation with the Central Government, require the Central Government to make available to the Provincial Government, such State land held by the Centre at that time as may be reasonably required for the purpose of a subject or function in the Provincial List, and the Central Government
shall comply with such requirement.

13.4 The Central Government may, after due consultation with a Provincial Government, require the Provincial Government to make available to the Central Government, such State land held by the Province at that time as may be reasonably required for the purpose of a subject or function in the National List, and the Provincial Government
shall comply with such requirement.

13.5 There shall be a Land and Water Commission (LWC) with equal representation of the Central Government on the one hand and the Provinces on the other and with equitable representation of all the major communities. Members of the Commission shall be persons with technical qualifications and experience in the relevant fields
such as irrigation engineering, waterworks engineering, hydropower engineering, geology, soil chemistry, botany, zoology, environmental science and surveying, and shall not be serving public or judicial officers.

13.6 The LWC shall formulate national land use policy and make recommendations to the Central and Provincial Governments with regard to the protection of watersheds, the appropriate amount of forest cover in each Province. The Commission shall monitor land use and ensure compliance with policy and recommendations so formulated.

13.7 The LWC shall also formulate national plans relating to inter-provincial irrigation, water supply and hydropower projects, in consultation with the relevant Provinces, and make recommendations to the Central and Provincial Governments with regard to their design, implementation and operation.

13.8 Priority in a land settlement scheme in a province shall be accorded first to needy persons of the District, then of the adjoining Districts within the Province, and then to needy persons of the Province, paying attention to the needs of all the communities, particularly the minorities of the District and of the Province and lastly to needy
persons outside the Province. The selection of the allottees shall be the responsibility of the Province.

13.9 The alienation of State land under inter-provincial irrigation schemes, like the Mahaweli scheme, shall be on the basis of the national ethnic ratios (1981 census). Priority shall be given to persons who are displaced by the scheme, needy persons of the district or districts in which the scheme is situated, thereafter to other needy persons of the relevant Provinces and finally to other needy persons in the country.

13.10 The LWC shall determine and intimate to the provinces the number of allotments available for alienation to residents of the relevant districts and Provinces covered by an inter-provincial irrigation scheme. The selection of the allottees shall be the responsibility of the Province.

13.11 Where the members of any ethnic community did not, or were unable to take their entitlement of allotments from any such inter-provincial irrigation scheme in a particular district, they shall be eligible to receive an equivalent number of allotments in the same scheme in another district, or in another inter-provincial irrigation scheme.

13.12 The distribution of allotments in schemes on the basis of the aforesaid principles shall be done as far as possible so as not to disturb very significantly the demographic pattern of the Province concerned and in
accordance with the principles of ensuring community cohesiveness in the Province.

JUDICIARY

14.1 The institutions administering justice shall be the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, Provincial High Courts and other courts, tribunals and other institutions established by the Constitution or by law.

14.2 There shall be established a Constitutional Court.

14.2 A The Jurisdication of the Constituional Court shall be :

(a) To hear and determine appeals arising out of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court on questions that raise matters pertaining to Constitutional Law.

(b) If at any time it appears to the President of the Republic or to the Speaker of the Parliament or to the President of the Senate that a question of law or fact has arisen or is likely to arise whch is of such nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Constitutional Court upon it, they may, at their discretion refer refer that question to the Court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, within the period specified in such reference or within such time as may be extended by the President, of the Republic, Speaker or the President of the Senate report to the President its opinion, thereon.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), the Court shall not have original jusisdiction in any matter whatsoever.

14.2 B(a) Appeals to the Constitutional Court shall be made with leave from both the Supreme Court and from the Constitutional Court,

or

(b) With leave only from the Constitutional Court where the Supreme Court had declined an appliction for leave to Appeal to that court.

14.2 C The Court shall be constituted with the appointment of not more than 12 judges, of whom one of them shall be appointed as the President of the Court.

14.2 D When the Court has a full compliment of 12 judges, the Court shall sit in three separate chambers, at all times, where each will be presided by three judges; so that there will be a group of three judges always not sitting and always making themselves available to write judgments required to be delivered by them.

Provided that where the Court for some reason had not been constituted with its full compliment of 12 members, the President of the Court has a power to decide upon the number of chambers of the court that would sit at any one time, so as to provide the litigants with th most effective and timely manner in which the matters on appeal may be
heard and disposed of.

14.2E Depending on the availability of suitable persons for appointment, the Constitutional Court may be constituted whenever it becomes necessary with a lesser number of judges.

14.2 F The President of the Court shall be a person who could administer the effective functioning of the Court and provide intellectual leadership to the rest of the Court.

14.2 G Whenever it is found that there had arisen conflicting judgments in the Court, the President may on his own, or at the request of Counsel or parties to the appeal or for any other reason constitute a Bench of five, seven or nine judges of the court to resolve such conflicts.

14.2 H(a) The Constitutionality of the Pre-legislative Bills may be subjected to judicial scrutiny under the provisions of Article 121 of the Constitution. The matter shall be heard and determined by the Supreme Court as a court having both original and final jurisdiction from which there shall be no appeal any further to the Constitutional
Court.

(b) The Constitutionality of the post-legislative Status may be subject to judicial scrutiny at any time after its enactment whether or not it had previously been determined under paragraph (a) of this Article, and notwithstanding the fact that it had at that hearing being found to be intra vires the constitution and therefore valid.

(c) Where the Supreme Court determines under paragraph (a) of this Article that the pre-legislative Bill was ultra vires the Constitution, that determination remains final and conclusive with regard to that Bill, and may not be reconsidered thereafter by any other court, including the Constitutional Court.

14.2 I The group of persons from whom appointments to the Constitutional Court may be made are
from the following:

(a) Academics who have a specialised knowledge in Constitutional Theory.

(b) Members of the legal profession who are currently practicing in the Sri Lanka Courts, predominantly in Constitutional Theory and Human Rights.

(c) Retired judges who have excelled themselves in Constitutional theory as determined by their judgments.

14.2 J There shall be a selection Committee of Experts comprising of:

(a) the most senior academic of the Faculty of Law of University of Colombo and of the Departments of Law of the Universities of Jaffna, Peradeniya and of the Open University, one of whom to be chosen by the Higher Appointments Council.

(b) one member from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, chosen also by the Higher Appointments Council provided that such a person so chosen is not a person who may be considered as one who is learned in the law.

(c) The Legal Draftsman, ex officio.

14.2 K The Selection Committee mentioned in Article 14.2 J, shall be established by the Higher Appointments Council and that committee shall be chaired by a person chosen from among its members and by its members who shall report the Committee's findings to the said Council.

14.2 L The Higher Appointments Council shall convey through a person designated for that purpose, its decision to the President of the Republic who may appoint the person or persons chosen by that Council by administering the oath, and by warrant under his hand.

14.2M The proceedings of the Selection Committee shall be conducted in accordance with the Roberts Rules of Procedure.

14.2N The Selection Committee to which Article 14.2 J and K refers will be responsible to provide the Higher Appointments Council to consider for appointment as judges of the Constitutional Court, including the person who is deemed to be most suitable to be appointed as the President of the Court from among those listed.

14.2O The same procedure as set out in Articles 14.2J to 14.2 N and any other necessary Article shall apply for filling vacancies that may from time to time occur in the Court.

14.2P The Higher Appointments Council shall make the final decision for appointment as judges or as a judge, of the Constitutional Court, as the case may be.

14.2Q The President shall have no discretion in the appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court upon receiving the recommendation of the Higher Appointments Council.

14.2R The provisions of Article 107, 110 (2); 110 (3) shall apply to the judges of the Constitutional Court in the same manner as they would apply to the Judges of he Supreme Court; and the Court of Appeal as if they had been expressly there mentioned and included in the contents of those three Articles.

14.2S Articles 118, 119 and 120 in particular and any other relevant Article of the 1978 Constitution shall apply with suitable amendments so as to accommodate the Constitutional Court as the Apex Court in all matters, raising points of Constitutional law of "exceptional importance", which is to be determined ultimately by the Constitutional Court itself.

14.2 T A judge of the Constitutional Court or the Court itself may be required by the President of the Republic to perform or discharge any other duties or functions suitable and appropriate to the role of a judge of that Court, or appropriate to the standing of the Court, which role the Court and its judges are deemed to play under the Constitution.

14.2 U Judges of the Constitutional Court shall be appointed initially for seven years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for the full period of seven years or for a portion of that period as is deemed fit and suitable by the Higher Appointments Council.

14.2V There shall be no age limit for appointment or for holding office as a judge of the Constitutional Court other than the appointees' mental and physical ability to perform the tasks required of him in his capacity as a member of that Court.

14.2W Every judge of the Constitutional Court shall hold office for a period of seven years form the date of his appointment, unless he earlier vacates office by death, resignation made in writing to His Excellency the President or is removed under the procedure laid down in

Article 107 of the Constitution.

14.3 Appointments to the Supreme Courts and the Court of Appeal shall be from among Judges, unofficial and official bars and from academia.Appointments shall be upon merit, based on a demonstrable knowledge of the law and known ability to contribute to the laws and legal development of Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court and the Court of
Appeal should reflect the pluralistic character of Sri Lanka.

14.4 The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and not less than ten and not more than sixteen other judges appointed in accordance with the Constitution.

14.5 The Court of Appeal shall consist of its President and not less than thirty and not more than
thirty five judges who shall be appointed in accordance with the Constitution.

14.6 There shall be a single Court of Appeal sitting in each of the nine provinces with an all Island Jurisdiction.

14.7 The Court of Appeal shall rank immediately below the Supreme Court.

14.8 All judges of the Court of Appeal shall rank with equal status and shall be chosen by the President of the Court of Appeal to sit in different Provinces for different periods of time.

14.9 The Court of Appeal shall sit in benches comprising of at least two judges, and shall replace the Provincial Civil Appellate High Court.

14.10 The Court of Appeal shall hear and determine appeals and matters in Revision arising out of decisions made by the High Courts and the District Courts of the Provinces, while Appeals and Revisions from Magistrates' courts and other tribunals shall continue to be heard by the Provincial High Courts.

14.11 The Court of Appeal shall be possessed of original Jurisdiction over violations of fundamental rights arising out of an infringement, or an imminent infringement, by provincial executive or administrative action.

14.12 The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) shall consist of the Chief Justice (who shall be the Chairman), and two senior Judges of the Supreme Court nominated by the Higher Appointments Committee (HAC) and appointed by the President.

14.13 Notwithstanding the above mentioned provisions, all provisions of the 1978 Constitution which are applicable to the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and to the Court of Appeal which do not conflict with the provisions contained in this part of the document, shall continue.

15. PUBLIC SERVICE

15.1 The public service in a devolved system of governance must be organized at the national, provincial and local levels. Under current arrangements, the Provincial Councils Act 42 of 1987 provides for provincial public services. However the implementation of these provisions was provided for administratively through "National Policy" and effected within the structure of the centralized public service. As a result provincial staffing was determined by the Centre, seriously undermining the role and functions of the provincial and local tiers. To remedy this situation, it
would be necessary to provide for:-

(a) Staffing of public positions required at each tier of government according to the service delivery needs in relation to the functions assigned.

(b) Staffing levels of the provincial and local tiers to be agreed upon over the medium term (a period of three years) as a tri-partite arrangement between the National Public Service Commission, the National Finance Commission and the respective Provincial Public Service Commissions.

(c) Re-defining the role and functions of the Public Service Commission(s) to focus more on public employment and less on public personnel functions with the latter being delegated to Ministries and Departments of both the Centre and the Provinces.

(d) Re-defining the role of the All Island Services.

(e) Resolving the inefficient duality in the public service at the sub-national levels.

15.2 Devolution of powers to the Provinces should not result in an unhealthy duplication of positions and officers in the public service. Giving emphasis to the All Island Services would immensely contribute not only towards emergence of economical and effective services but also services built on national unity and integration.

15.3 There should be public services categorized as All Island Services, National Public Services and Provincial Public Services. Parliament may declare by law any public service to be an All Island Service. This shall not preclude a Province in establishing provincial services for all or any of the disciplines. The All Island Services shall include services such as the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, Sri Lanka Engineering Service,
Government Medical Officers Service, Sri Lanka Police Officers Service (ASP upwards) and the Sri Lanka Teachers Service.

15.4 Officers of the All Island Services shall be recruited nationally and provincially (on a
delegated basis) and be deployed in the national and provincial public services on
release by the National Public Service Commission. The release of any All Island
Service officers to the provincial public services shall be agreed to with the
respective Provincial Public Service Commission. Every officer of an All Island
Service recruited to the cadre of a province shall at the outset serve a minimum of 3
years in that Province and a total of not less than 10 years in that Province, however
aggregated.
15.5 There should be a National Public Service Commission (NPSC) consisting of not less
than 7 members and not more than 9 members and a Provincial Public Service
Commission for each of the Provinces consisting of not less than 3 members and not
more than 7 members whose memberships shall reflect the ethnic composition at the
national and provincial levels respectively. Nearly as may be, one-half of the
membership of any of the public service commissions shall be persons who shall
have had a minimum of 10 years experience as an officer under Government.
15.6 The National Public Service Commission and the Provincial Public Service
Commissions shall determine the cadres to their respective services, including the All
Island Services. It shall be the responsibility of the Provincial Public Service
Commission to provide the necessary administrative staff to all local authorities.
15.7 All appointments, transfers, promotions, dismissal and disciplinary control of national
public officers shall vest in the National Public Service Commission. It may delegate
all or any of its functions in respect of specific categories to a Committee of the
NPSC or to any public officer and where appropriate to the Provincial Public Service
Commissions. An officer of an all island service released to a provincial public
service shall have the right of appeal to the National Public Service Commission. A
Provincial Public Service Commission may delegate all or any of its functions in
respect of any category of public officers to any public officer.
15.8 Committees of the NPSC shall be independent and shall function under the direct
supervision of the NPSC. There shall be a minimum of 3 members in each such
Committee, one of whom shall be a member of the NPSC, who shall also be the
Chairman of the Committee. The other two members shall not be serving public or
judicial officers.
15.9 Devolution of powers has not only to be effective but also devoid of duality. For this
purpose, we propose that the district administration has to be restructured so as to
form part of the provincial administration. Thus the Government Agent and the
Divisional Secretary should belong to an All Island Service and hold the rank of a
head and deputy head of department respectively, in the provincial administration. All
Grama Niladharis in a Province should also be absorbed into the Provincial Public
Service of that Province.
15.10 In view of the importance attached to the districts and divisions in the implementation
of provincial plans, the Government Agent of a District shall be redesignated as the
District Commissioner (DC) while the Divisional Secretary shall be redesignated as
the Divisional Commissioner (Div C). The DC who has to report to the Provincial
Secretary in charge of Home Affairs shall have the rank of an Additional Provincial
Secretary.
15.11 Constitutional provisions should be made to enable the Centre to entrust central
functions such as, customs, elections, census, national identity cards, gun licensing
etc to the District Commissioner, Divisional Commissioner, Grama Niladhari and
other provincial officers as agency functions. A sub-secretariat in each of the District
Secretariats (Kachcheris)/ Divisional Secretariats will have to be set up under a senior
officer to provide services to the public in respect of central functions entrusted to the
District Commissioners/ Divisional Commissioners.
15.12 There shall be equitable representation of the different ethnic communities of Sri
Lanka in the public services. Since Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors and Indian Tamils are
under-represented in the public service, suitable affirmative action should be taken to
remedy the situation. An affirmative action shall be for an interim period to restore
the ethnic balance in the public services, and, will be reviewed every five years.
15.13 The principle for recruitment to the public service shall be merit. However, in view of
the ethnic imbalance in the public service, recruitment to public office may be based
on provincial or national ethnic ratios, as the case may be, and on merit within a
particular community, taking into consideration the actual needs based on linguistic
criteria.
15.14 Promotion of public officers shall be based on seniority and on merit based on
objective criteria among serving officers within a particular service.
15.15 The President shall appoint the Secretary to the President, the Cabinet Secretary, the
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, all Secretaries to National Ministries and
other public officers required by the Constitution, on the advice of the Prime Minister
or on the recommendation of the Higher Appointments Commission, as the case may
be. The appointment, promotion, transfer dismissal and disciplinary control of all
Additional Secretaries to Ministries and the Heads of National Departments shall vest
in the Cabinet of Ministers.
15.16 The Governor of a Province shall appoint the Chief Secretary, the Principal Secretary
to the Chief Minister, the Secretary to the Governor and other Secretaries to
Provincial Ministries on the advice of the Chief Minister of the Province. The
appointment, promotion, transfer, dismissal and disciplinary control of all Heads of
Departments of a Province including the District Commissioners (Government Agent)
shall vest in the Board of Ministers.
15.17 There shall be a Public Services Appeals Tribunal.
15.18 There shall be a Forum of Chairpersons of Public Service Commissions consisting of
the Chairpersons of the National Public Service Commission, the Police Service
Commission and the Provincial Public Service Commissions.
15.19 The Forum will recommend criteria for the appointment, promotion, transfer,
dismissal and disciplinary control of public officers and police officers with the view
to ensuring uniformity of practice and adherence to minimum standards, and, to make
recommendations for improving the quality and efficiency of the services.
15.20 The appointment, dismissal and disciplinary control of Advisors and Consultants shall
vest in the Cabinet of Ministers and the Board of Ministers of the respective Province,
as the case may be.
16. FINANCE.
16.1 A tax shall not be levied or collected except by or under law or Statute.
16.2 Central and Regional Finances.
(1) (a) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter with respect to the assignment of the
whole or part of the net proceeds of certain taxes and duties to the provinces,
all funds of the Central Government not allocated for specific purposes shall
form one consolidated fund to be called the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka
into which shall be paid the produce of all taxes, imposts, rates and duties
and all other revenues of the Central Government.
(b) All revenues received by a Provincial Administration and all loans raised by such
Administration, and all monies received by such Administration in
repayment of loans shall form one consolidated fund to be called the
Consolidated Fund of the Province.
(c) All other public monies received by or on behalf of the Central Government or a
Provincial Administration shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of Sri
Lanka or the Consolidated Fund of the Province as the case may be.
(d) Money out of the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka or the Consolidated Fund of
the Province shall not be appropriated except in accordance with law or
Statute and for the purposes and in the manner provided in the Constitution.
(2) (a) Notwithstanding any of the provisions of this Chapter, Parliament may by law create
a Contingencies Fund for the purpose of providing for urgent and unforeseen
expenditure.
(b) The Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of the subject
Finance, if satisfied -
(i) that there is need for any such expenditure; and
(ii) that any provision does not exist for such expenditure,
may, pending subsequent approval by Parliament authorize provision to be made
therefore by an advance from the Contingencies Fund.
(c) After each such advance, a supplementary estimate shall, within a period of
three months, be presented to Parliament for the purpose of replacing the amounts so
advanced.
(d) A Provincial Council may be Statute establish a Contingency Fund in the nature of an
imprest, to be entitled the Contingency Fund of the Province into which shall be paid from
time to time such sums as may be determined by such Statute, and such Fund shall be placed
at the disposal of the Chief Minister of Province to enable advances to be made by him out of
such Fund for the purpose of meeting unforeseen expenditure and after each such advance, a
supplementary estimate shall, within a period of one month, be presented to the Provincial
Council for the purpose of replacing the amounts so advanced.
(3) (a) Excise duties as may be prescribed by Parliament on the recommendation of the Finance
Commission shall be levied by the Central Government but shall be collected -
(i) in the case where such duties are leviable within the Capital Territory, by the Central
Government; and
(ii) in other cases, by the Provincial Administrations of the Province within which such
duties are respectively leviable.
(b) The proceeds in any financial year of any such duty leviable within any Province
shall not form part of the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka and shall be
assigned to that Province.
(4) (a) Taxes on wholesale and retail sales (other than sales by
manufacturers) shall be levied and collected by the Central Government but
shall be apportioned to the Province in the manner provided in sub-paragraph
(b) of this paragraph.
(b) The net proceeds in any financial year of any such tax shall not form part of
the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka but shall be assigned to the Province
within which such tax is leviable in that year in accordance with such
principles of apportionment as may be prescribed by Parliament on the
recommendation of the Finance Commission.
(c) The Finance Commission shall also formulate principles for determining
where a sale or purchase or consignment of goods takes place in the course of
inter-provincial trade or commerce for the purpose of sub-paragraph (b) of
this paragraph.
(5) (a) Taxes on sales or income not otherwise provided for shall be
levied and collected by the Central Government and shall be distributed in
the manner provided in sub-paragraph (b) of this paragraph.
(b) A percentage as may be prescribed by Parliament of the net proceeds in any
financial year of any such tax shall be assigned to the Province within which
such tax is leviable in that year and shall be disbursed to the respective
province in such manner, and from such time, as may be prescribed by the
Finance Commission.
(6) Such sums as Parliament may by law provide shall be charged to the
Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka in each year as grants in aid of the revenue of
such Provinces as Parliament may determine to be in need of assistance, and
different sums may be fixed for difference Provinces.
16.3 Withdrawals of Sums from Consolidated Fund
(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in paragraphs (3) and (4) below, money shall not
be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka except under the authority of a
warrant under the hand of the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of the
subject of Finance.
(2) Any warrant under paragraph (1) above shall not be issued unless money has by
resolution of Parliament or by any law been granted for specified public services for
the financial year during which the withdrawal is to take place or is otherwise
lawfully charged on the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka.
(3) Where the President dissolves Parliament before the Appropriation Bill for the
financial year has passed into law, the President may, unless Parliament shall have
already made provision, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka
and the expenditure of such monies as the President may consider necessary for
public services until the expiration of a period of three months from the date on which
the new Parliament is summoned to meet.
(4) Where the President dissolves Parliament and fixes a date or dates for a General
Election, the President may, unless Parliament has already made provision in that
behalf, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka and the
expenditure, of such monies as the President may, after consultation with the Election
Commission, consider necessary for such elections.
(5) Money shall not be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund of a Province except under
a warrant under the hand of the Chief Minister of the Province.
(6) A warrant under paragraph (5) above shall not be issued unless the money has by
Statute of the Provincial Legislature established for the Province, been granted for
services for the financial year during which the withdrawal is to take place or is
otherwise lawfully charged on the Consolidated Fund of the Province.
16.4 Special Provisions as to Bills affecting Public Revenue of Sri Lanka.
A Bill or motion, authorizing the disposal of any monies of, on the imposition of charges
upon, the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka or other funds of the central Government, or the
imposition of any tax or the repeal, augmentation or reduction of any tax for the time being in
force shall not be introduced in Parliament except by a Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers,
and unless such Bill or motion has been approved either by the Cabinet of Ministers or in such
manner as the Cabinet of Ministers may authorize.
16.5 Provincial borrowing and investment in the Province
(1) (a) the executive power of the Province extends to domestic and international
borrowing upon the security of the Consolidated Fund of the Province.
(b) International borrowings by a Provincial Administration shall be subject to such
criteria and limitations as may be specified by Parliament and shall require the
concurrence of the Finance Commission.
(2) (a) The limits as regards domestic borrowing and the limitations and criteria
as regards international borrowing by each Provincial Administration for each
financial year shall, subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (b) of this
paragraph, be laid down by the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of
the subject of Finance before the thirtieth day of September of the preceding
financial year.
(b) In laying down these limits and criteria, the Minister shall take into
consideration the requirements of fiscal policy and the demands of monetary
stability as well as the repayment capacity of each Provincial
Administration.
(3) Any agreements negotiated and entered into by Provincial Administrations regarding
international grants and foreign development assistance shall be in accordance with
the national policies on international aid as laid down, from time to time, by the
Cabinet of Ministers and approved by Parliament.
16.6 Finance Commission
(1) (a) There shall be a Finance Commission consisting of five members who have
distinguished themselves or held high office, in the fields of finance, law,
administration, business or learning, and who shall be appointed by the President on
the recommendation of the Higher Appointments Council.
(b) In making a recommendation under sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, the Higher
Appointments Council shall ensure that the majority community and three
communities are represented on the minority.
(c) The President shall appoint one of the members as the Chairperson of the Finance
Commission.
(d)The Secretary to the Treasury and the Governor of the Central Bank should give all
assistance to the Commission, without being members of the Commission.
(e) There shall be a Provincial Financial Consultative Committee which will work
together with the Finance Commission. This will be made up of representatives
chosen by Provincial Administrations, one from each Province.
(f) There shall be a Provincial Planning Unit in each Province. Each Provincial Planning
Unit will prepare a medium term plan for the province covering development
activities undertaken by the Central Provincial and Local Government institutions.
The Finance Commission must ensure that adequate resources will be made available
to the institutions of Local Government, including the village committees. Together
with the National Planning Department and the National Budget Department. It will
assist the Finance Commission to decide on the allocation to the Provinces on a
medium term basis (eg. 3 to 5 years).
(2) Every member of the Commission, unless the member earlier resigns or is removed,
from office, shall hold office for a period of five years.
(3) The Central Government shall, on the recommendation of and in consultation with
the Commission, allocate from the annual budget such funds as are adequate for the
purpose of meeting the needs of the province.
(4) Subject to paragraph (5) below, it shall be the duty of the Commission to make
recommendations to the President as to -
(a) the principles on which such funds as are granted annually by the Central
Government for the use of Provinces, shall be apportioned between the
various Provinces.
(b) the principles on which the sharing and assignment or the assignment of
revenue between the Central Government and the Provinces should take place
with a view to ensuring the assured measure of finances necessary for
effective devolution; and
(c) any other matter referred to the Commission by the President relating to
provincial finance.
(5) In making the recommendations under sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (4)
above, the Commission shall formulate such principles with the objective of
achieving balanced regional development in the country, and shall accordingly take
into account
(a) the needs of the Province to implement the devolution powers and its capacity to
raise revenue.
(b) the population of each Province;
(c) the per capita GNP of each Province;
(d) the need, progressively, to reduce social and economic disparities;
(e) the need, progressively, to reduce the difference between the per capita GNP of each
Province and the highest per capital GNP among the Provinces;
(f) the need to have effective utilization of the monies made available to the respective
Provinces by ensuring timely and objective allocations in a definitive and predictable
manner.
(g) any exceptional expenditure incurred by a Province Administration to meet
exigencies such as natural disaster;
(h) Special needs of particularly under privileged communities;
(i) the returns submitted to the Commission by every Provincial Administration
including information relating to expenditure; and
(j) the reports of the Auditor-General consequent to the audits of Provincial
Administrations and authorities thereof.
(6) Legislation to empower the Finance Commission to discharge its duties as per the
Commission must be passed by Parliament. The Commission shall determine its own
procedure appoint its staff and determine their salaries and shall have such power in
the performance of its duties as Parliament may, by law, confer on it. The Ministry of
Finance shall provide the information requested by Commission.
(7) The Report of the Finance Commission should be presented for approval to the
Council of Chief Ministers, chaired by the President in the presence of the 3 months
prior to the presentation of the National and Provincial Budgets. Once adopted the
provision of Funds for its implementation should be considered mandatory.
(8) The Finance Commission recommendations should ensure that there is fair revenue
sharing taking into consideration the needs of the three tires of government the
Centre, the Province and Local Government, based on the application of the guiding
principles and with due regard to the extent of devolved powers.
(9) The President shall cause every recommendation made by the Finance Commission to
be laid before Parliament and shall notify Parliament as to the action taken thereon.
The needs of the Provinces should be assessed every 3 to 5 years and our economic
framework approved by Parliament.
(10) The Provinces should be empowered to pass laws to raise revenue within the subjects
devolved to the Provinces, without any restriction and without abdicating this
authority to Parliament. The revenue collecting authorities should credit all revenue to
the Consolidated Fund of the Province.
(11) The Central Bank should distribute funds to the Provinces according to the
recommendations of the Finance Commission, without going through the Treasury.
(12) Any court, tribunal or other institution shall not inquire into or
pronounce on, or in any manner entertain, determine or rule upon,
any question relating to the adequacy of such funds, or any
recommendation made, or principle formulated by the
Commission.
16.7 Exemption of income and property of the Central Government and of Regional
Administrations from taxation.
(1) The property and income of the Central Government shall, save in so far as
Parliament may by law otherwise provide, be exempt from all taxes imposed by a
Provincial Administration.
(2) The property and income of a Provincial Administration shall be exempt from
taxation by the Central Government, save and except customs duties.
16.8 Auditor General
(1) There shall be an Auditor-General who shall be appointed by the President and who
shall hold office during good behaviour.
(2) The salary of the Auditor-General shall be determined by Parliament, shall be
charged on the Consolidated Fund of Sri Lanka and shall not be reduced during the
term of office of the Auditor-General.
(3) The office of the Auditor-General shall become vacant -
(a) upon death;
(b) on resignation in writing addressed to the President;
(c) on attaining the age of sixty years;
(d) on removal by the President on account of ill health or physical or mental infirmity;
or
(e) on removal by the President upon an address of Parliament.
(4) Whenever the Auditor-General is unable to discharge the functions of the office, the
President may appoint a person to act in the place of the Auditor-General.
16.9 Duties and functions of the Auditor - General
(1) The Auditor-General shall audit the accounts of all departments of the Central
Government and of the Provincial Administrations, the offices of the Cabinet of
Ministers, the Judicial Service Commission, the National Public Service Commission,
the Finance Commission, the National Police Commission, Provincial Public Service
Commissions, Provincial Police Commissions, the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Administration, the Secretary-General of Parliament, the Election Commission, the
Commission for the Investigation of Bribery or Corruption, local authorities, public
corporations and business or other undertakings vested in the Central Government
under any written law.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) above, the Minister of the Cabinet of
Ministers in charge of any such public corporation or business or other undertaking
may, with the concurrence of the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of the
subject of Finance, and in consultation with the Auditor-General, appoint a qualified
auditor or auditors to audit the accounts of such public corporation or business or
other undertaking, and where such appointment has been made by the Minister, the
Auditor-General may, in writing, inform such auditor or auditors that the Auditor-
General proposes to utilize the services of such auditor or auditors for the
performance and discharge of the Auditor-General's duties ad functions in relation to
such public corporation, business or undertaking and thereupon such auditor or
auditors shall act under the direction and control of the Auditor-General.
(3) (a) The Auditor-General may for the purpose of the performance and discharge of the
Auditor-General's duties and functions engage the services of a qualified auditor or auditors
who shall act under the direction and control of the Auditor-General.
(b) If the Auditor General is of opinion that it is necessary to obtain assistance in the
examination of any technical, professional or scientific problem relevant to the audit, the
Auditor-General may engage the services of-
(i) a person not being an employee of the department, body or authority the accounts of
which are being audited; or-
(ii) any technical or professional or scientific institution not being an institution which has
any interest in the management of the affairs of such department, body or authority,
and such person or institution shall act under the direction and control of the
Auditor-General.
(4) (a) The Auditor-General or any person authorized or engaged by the
Auditor-General shall, in the performance and discharge of the duties and functions of the
Auditor-General, be entitled -
(i) to have access to all books, records, returns and other documents;
(ii) to have access to stores and other property; and
(iii) to be furnished with such information and explanations as may be necessary
for the performance of such duties and functions.
(b) Every qualified auditor appointed to audit the accounts of any public corporation, or business
or other undertaking, or any other person authorized by such auditor shall be entitled to like
access,
information and explanations in relation to such public corporation, or business or
other undertaking.
(5) (a) The Auditor-General shall within ten months after the close of each financial year and as when
the Auditor-General deems it necessary, submit reports on the performance and discharge of
the duties and functions of the Auditor-General under the Constitution, to Parliament, in so
far as those duties and functions relate to departments of the Central Government, public
corporations, local authorities and business and other undertakings vested in the Government
under any written law, and to the Provincial Legislature established for a Province in so far
those duties and functions relate to the Provincial Administration of that Province.
(b) The reports of the Auditor-General relating to the Provincial Administration which are
required to be submitted to a Provincial Legislature under sub-paragraph (a) of this
paragraph shall be laid before the relevant Provincial Legislature.
(c) The Auditor General should be required to send his reports relevant to the Provincial Councils to
the Provincial Legislature concerned.
(7) Every qualified auditor appointed under the provisions of paragraph (2) of this Article shall
submit the auditor's report to the Minister and also submit a copy thereof to the Auditor-
General.
(8) In this Article, "qualified auditor" means -
(a) an individual who, being a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri
Lanka, or of any other Institute established by law, possesses a certificate to practice as
an Accountant issued by the Council of such Institute; or
(b) a firm of Accountants each of the resident partners of which, being a member of the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka or of any other Institute established by
law, possesses a certificate to practice as an Accountant issued by the Council of such
Institute.
17 DEFENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LAW AND ORDER
17.1 Defence, national security, shall be subjects reserved exclusively for the Central
Government.
17.2 Matters connected with National security relating to devolved subjects, if any, could
be dealt with by the Centre in the exercise of its powers under national security.
17.3 In the exercise of Police powers Law and Order, including public order, shall be
devolved on the Provinces as specified hereinafter but be reserved exclusively for the
Central Government in the Capital Territory and in addition to those expressly
provided for in the Constitution.
17.4 In respect of any Province, where the Central Government is of opinion that the
Provincial Police Division is unable to provide adequate security to specified
institutions of the Centre such as ports, harbours and airports, it may deploy the
National Police Division to provide the security.
17.5 In a serious breakdown of Law and Order situation/ in a riotous or violent situation,
the Minister in charge of the subject of Defence is free to deploy the National Police
Division or the Armed Forces in any part of the country and take such other steps as
deemed necessary for the preservation of law and order, and for the safety and
security of the people, independent of the Provincial administration concerned.
17.6 The Inspector General of Police (IGP) shall be the head of the Sri Lanka Police
Service. The Sri Lanka Police Service shall be divided into -
(a) the National Division (including Special Units); and
(b) a Provincial Division for each Province.
17.7 There shall be a National Police Division headed by an Inspector General of Police
(IGP) and Provincial Police Divisions, each headed by a Provincial Deputy Inspector
General (PDIG) of the Province who shall be subordinate to the IGP. The
Constitution shall provide for co-operation between the National and Provincial
Police Divisions. The Inspector General of Police shall be appointed by the President
on the advice of the Prime Minister with the approval of the Higher Appointments
Council.
17.8 The National Police Division shall have exclusive competence to investigate offences
laid down in the schedule to Appendix 1 of the Constitution. These would include
offences against the Republic, offences relating to the National Police, Army, Navy
and Air Force, any offence committed against specified persons such as the
President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Judges of the
Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal, any offence prejudicial to national security or
the maintenance of essential services, any offence in respect of which courts in more
than one Province have jurisdiction, any international crime and any offence
committed within the Capital Territory.
17.9 Where the Chief Minister of a Province seeks the assistance of the Centre to preserve
public order within the Province, the Minister in charge of the National Police
Division shall direct the IGP to deploy such personnel as are necessary for the
purpose and they shall be placed under the control of the Provincial Deputy Inspector
General (PDIG) of the Province.
17.10 The Police Commission (PC) will be responsible for the appointment, promotion,
transfer, disciplinary control and dismissal of officers coming under its purview.
The cadres of Police Officers of all ranks of the National Division shall be fixed by the
Government of Sri Lanka. The cadre of Officers and other ranks of each Provincial
Division shall be fixed by the Provincial Administration with the approval of the
National Police Commission, having regard to - (a) the area of the Province; (b)
population of the Province; and (c) such other criteria, as may be agreed to or
prescribed.
17.11 There shall be a single Sri Lanka Police Officers Service (SLPOS)
consisting of officers in the grades of Assistant Superintendent of Police
(ASP) and above. ASPs shall be recruited nationally and be deployed in
the national and provincial police services on release by the National
Police Service Commission.
17.12 The National Police Division shall consist of the IGP and other officers belonging to
the SLPOS and lower ranks recruited or promoted at the national level. The National
Police Service shall reflect the pluralistic character of Sri Lanka.
17.13 The IGP shall establish special units of the National Police Division reflecting the
pluralistic character of Sri Lanka to be kept in reserve for exigencies in the Provinces.
17.14 A Provincial Police Division shall consist of officers of the Sri Lanka Police Officers
Service released to the Province, and ranks below the grade of ASP recruited or
promoted at the provincial level or released from the National Police Division. Each
Provincial Police Division shall reflect the ethnic composition of the Province. The
Provincial Deputy Inspector General of Police of a Province shall be appointed by the
IGP with the concurrence of the Chief Minister of the Province. However, where
there is no agreement between the IGP and the Chief Minister, thematter will be
referred to the President, who, after due consultation with the Chief Minister, shall
make the appointment.
17.15 Every Police Station in the country should be able at all times to provide facilities for
communication in the Sinhala and Tamil languages.
17.16 All Police Officers serving in units of the Naitonal Division and Provincial Divisions in
any Province shall function under the direction and control of the PDIG of such
Province.
17.17 The Provincial Deputy Inspector General of Police (PDIG) shall be responsible to and
under the control of the Chief Minister thereof in respect of the maintenance of public
order in the Province and the exercise of police powers in the Province as set out in
this Schedule. However the Chief Minister shall act in consultation and with the
concurrence of the Governor of the Province in the exercise of these powers.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
18.1 Local authorities, that is, Pradeshiya Sabhas and Municipal or Urban Councils should be
recognized and granted much more powers than at present. The implementation of Provincial
Statutes relating to subjects listed in a Schedule to the Constitution would be a matter for
local authorities. Local authorities would not have legislative power, but would have power
to make by-laws in respect of subjects in List III.
18.2 Such an arrangement would help in the empowerment of the people in their own localities.
Further, this would also enable localized ethnic communities to be in better control of their
living and working environment, and its improvement. This empowerment can be
strengthened through the Grama Sabhas/ Urban Ward Sabhas.
18.3 The elected representatives to the Pradeshiya Sabhas should be drawn from the Grama
Sabhas while the elected representatives to the Urban/ Municipal Councils should be drawn
from the Urban Ward Sabhas. The elections to the Grama Sabhas and the Urban Ward Sabhas
should be based on Wards. (See Annex 1 and 2)
18.4 People's participation in governance will be through the Jana Sabhas which will consist of
about a hundred families at village level and through Veedi Sabhas which will consist of
about two hundred families at the street level in the urban areas. It is by the Jana/Veedi
Sabhas that the local needs will be listed and prioritized at their meetings and subsequently
monitored and audited.
18.5 After a representative has completed half his term, he could be recalled for poor performance
or errant behaviour by the electing body if two-thirds of the electors support such a move.
18.6 A Grama Sabha will consist of two or three Grama Niladhari Divisions which are divided
into Wards, each Ward being made up of about 100 families who will form the Jana Sabha.
Each of these Jana Sabhas will elect its ward member in the Grama Sabha (GS). The
members of each Grama Sabha will elect one amongst them as its chairman.
18.7 The members of all the Grama Sabhas in a Pradeshiya Sabha division will constitute an
electoral college and will elect one amongst them to be the chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha
and a member to represent each of the Grama Sabhas in the Pradeshiya Sabha. To enable
representation of political parties that do not obtain representation through this process, up to
a maximum of five additional seats will be reserved in the Pradeshiya Sabha for the election
of members of the electoral college belonging to those parties.
18.8 There will be an Urban Ward Sabha for each Municipal/UC Ward. This Urban Ward Sabha
will be made up of Veedi Sabhas, each representing about 200 families. Each of the Veedi
Sabhas will elect a member to represent it in the Urban Ward Sabha (UWS). The members of
each Urban Ward Sabha will elect one amongst them as its chairman.
18.9 The members of all the Urban Ward Sabhas in an Urban/ Municipal area will constitute an
electoral college and elect one amongst them to be the chairman/ mayor of the Council and a
member to represent each of the Urban Ward Sabhas in the Urban/ Municipal Council. To
enable representation of political parties that do not obtain representation through this
process, up to a maximum of five additional seats will be reserved in the Council for the
election of members of the electoral college belonging to those parties.
18.10 Each Grama Sabha/ Urban Ward Sabha will have a Secretariat which is headed by a
graduate with administrative training and will include the various officials who are
functioning at that level eg. Grama Sevakas, Samurdhi Niyamakas et al.
18.11 As every effort is being taken to give local authorities their due place within the district, a
competent officer belonging to the provincial public service must hold the office of the
Secretary of the Pradeshiya Sabha. It may be noted that the Pradeshiya Sabhas Act confers
the position of chief administrative officer of the Sabha on the Secretary, and the position of
chief executive officer of the Sabha on the Chairman.
18.12 The Assistant Commissioner of Local Government who functions in the District Secretariat
will be the link between the local authorities and the Commissioner of Local Government at
the provincial level. He will also provide the link between the District Council and the local
authorities in the District.
18.13 There would be statutory provision to ensure that adequate funds are made available to the
pradeshiya and grama sabhas, and the urban/municipal councils and the urban ward sabhas.
18.14 A local authority shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for a period of four years from the
date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the said period of four years shall
operate as a dissolution of that local authority.
18.15 In demarcating Pradeshiya Sabhas, due consideration should be given to the geography of the
area, ease of communication within the area, economic activities, and community
cohesiveness of the population. The same factors should be taken into account even in the
demarcation of Grama Sabhas. Ideally, one Grama Sabha should be established for a
population ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 and consisting of 2 to 4 Grama Sevaka divisions.
Ideally, a Pradeshiya Sabha should be established for a rural or estate population ranging
from 25,000 to 45,000. A Delimitation Commission should initially demarcate the Grama
Sabhas and thereafter redemarcate the Pradeshiya Sabhas in the country based on these
criteria. This would consequently result in rational changes to boundaries of administrative
divisions.
18.16 In Urban Council areas, an Urban Ward Sabha shall be established for every 2 Grama
Sevaka divisions comprising around 8,000 persons.
18.17 In a Municipal area, it may not be necessary to establish Urban Ward Sabhas. Instead, it will
be prudent to divide the area into Wards, co-terminus with the Grama Sevaka divisions.
19. CENTRE-PROVINCIAL RELATIONS
19.1 The need for mechanisms to encourage and enhance cooperation between the Centre and the
Provinces is recognized. The concept of the Provinces sharing power at the Centre through the
Senate was viewed as a possible mechanism that would generate a sense of participation by
the Provinces in legislative and executive decision making at the Centre, and would in turn
weaken the tendency towards separation.
19.2 A Council of Chief Ministers chaired by the President/Prime Minister would be an effective
coordinating mechanism. Such a Council should meet quarterly or more frequently if the need
arises. The Cabinet Secretariat should service this Council.
19.3 Resolution Of Centre-Provincial And Inter-Provincial Issues
19.3.1 There is a need for mechanisms for the resolution of disputes that may arise between the
Centre and the Provinces or among the Provinces. As a matter of approach in the first
instance attempts must be made to resolve the disputes through informal discussions. If
these discussions do not lead to satisfactory solutions, the following mechanisms could
be utilized for resolution of the disputes:
• Mediation / Conciliation undertaken by the Council of Chief Ministers
chaired by the Prime Minister (in the interim period, by the President).
• Arbitration by a Tribunal appointed by Parliament.
• Reference to the Constitutional Court.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY AND OF THE PUBLIC SERVICES.
Mechanisms for ensuring the independence of state services and those holding key positions in
such services.
20.1 National
There should be a Higher Appointments Council to ensure the independence of the state
services and that of the judiciary of the Republic.
20.1.1 Composition of the Higher Appointments Council
(i) The Prime Minister
(ii) The Speaker
(iii) The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, and
(iv) Six persons appointed by the President on the nomination of a Committee of
Parliament proportionally composed of all parties represented in Parliament
which should include three persons to represent minority interests appointed
in consultation with Members of Parliament who belong to the respective
minority communities. The speaker shall be the Chairman.
20.1.2 Duties of the Higher Appointments Council - It should recommend the appointment of
Chairmen and members of Commissions specified in Part I of the Schedule hereto. (As far as
practical the composition of the Commissions should reflect the ethnic composition of the
country).
20.1.3 All persons sought to be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister to
any of the offices specified in Part II A and Part II B of the schedule hereto should have the
approval of the Higher Appointments Council before they are appointed. The Prime Minister
in so advising the President shall obtain the concurrence of the Cabinet.
Schedule - Part I
I. The Election Commission
II. The National Public Service Commission III The Police Commission
IV. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
V. The Permanent Commission to investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.
VI. The Finance Commission
VII. The Delimitation Commission
VIII. The Official Languages Commission
IX. The Land and Water Commission.
Part IIA
I The President and other Judges of the Constitutional Court.
II Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court
III. The President and Judges of the Court of Appeal
IV. The members of the Judicial Service Commission
Part IIB
I The Attorney General
II. The Auditor General
III. The Inspector General of Police
IV. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman)
V. The Secretary -General of Parliament.
20.2 Provincial
a) There should be a Provincial Higher Appointments Board comprising nine
members, comprising the Chief Minister, and the Chairman of the Council and the
Leader of the Opposition (all legally provided for) as ex-officio members and six
other distinguished persons appointed by the Governor nominated by a
Committee of members of the Council represnting all the political parties. The
composition of the Provincial Board shall as far as possible reflect the ethnic
composition of the Province.
b) The Provincial Higher Appointments Board should nominate the Chairman and
members of the Provincial Public Service Commission whose number (including
the Chairman) should not exceed seven members.
c) As far as practical, the Commission should reflect the ethnic composition of the
province.
d) The Provincial Higher Appointments Board referred to in (a) above
may also be charged with the nomination of any key officials of the
Provincial Public Service, identified by the Provincial Legislature
concerned as officers whose independence should be assured.
21 AMENDMENT PROCEDURE
21.1 The Substance of Articles 82 (5) and 83 of the 1978 Constitution will be retained.
21.2 A Bill to amend the Constitution or replace it with a new Constitution should be
approved by 2/3 of the members of each House of Parliament sitting and voting
separately.
21.3 Notwithstanding 21:2, a Bill for the amendment or for the repeal and replacement of
or which is inconsistent with any of the provisions of specified Articles of the
Constitution or of the amendment procedure itself, shall not become law unless it is
also approved by the people at a Referendum.
DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY AND FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES.
As a part of the universal adult franchise and as a part of the electoral process in a democratic state, it
is important that women should receive a proportionate representation in the Legislature. The
importance of science and technology for industrial development must be recognized and acted on. It
is not possible for practical reasons to make such requirements mandatory. It is only possible to
declare such requirements purposive and therefore desirable. Therefore it is proposed that Articles 29
of the 1978 Consitution be repealed and that the following sub-paragraphs be changed in Article 27
(2) by replacing Article 27 (2) (e) and (f) of the Constitution as follows:
1. Article 27 (2) (f) " the State shall ensure that a reasonable proportion of women candidates,
who are considered suitable to be elected as members of Parliament, Provincial Councils, and
local authorities, are chosen by the varying political parties to contest at such elections".
2. Article 27 (2) (e) : "Invest adequate funds to promote and use science and technology and
innovation so as to maximize productivity and industrialize the country, making Sri Lanka a
leader in the use of advanced technology".
3. Delete Article 27 (7) as it is not applicable at present.
The repeal of Article 29 is strongly recommended so that the Directive Principles of State Policy
and Fundamental Duties which are stated in chapter 6 of the 1978 Constitution has the constitutional
legitimacy of them being enforced as law and not remain merely as meaningless constitutional
platitudes. It is for this reason that the repeal of Article 29 is imperative for the purpose of
establishing the aforementioned duties.
Annexure – 3
DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS BETWEEN THE CENTRE
AND THE PROVINCES
List ‐ I ‐ National List
1. Defence; national security; security forces; special forces including coast
guards; para‐military forces established by or under law.
2. National police; law and order including public order and the exercise of
police powers in the Capital Territory and where expressly provided in the
Constitution.
3. Firearms, ammunition, explosives and other armaments.
4. Foreign affairs, including all matters which bring the Republic of Sri Lanka
into relations with other States, the United Nations Organization, its
specialized agencies and inter‐governmental organizations, and the
undertaking of international obligations.
5. Entering into treaties, conventions and agreements with other States and
international organizations and implementing such treaties, conventions and
agreements.
6. Diplomatic, Consular and trade representation.
7. Facilitating international conferences, associations and other such bodies
and implementing decisions made thereat.
8. Foreign jurisdiction; immigration and emigration; extradition.
9. Regulation of international and foreign funded non‐governmental
organizations.
10. Piracy and crimes committed on the high seas or in the air; offences against
the law of nations committed on land or the high seas or in the air.
11. Citizenship.
12. Registration of births, marriages and deaths; registration of persons.
13. National census and statistics.
14. Elections; National Elections Commission.
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15. Currency and foreign exchange, international economic relations, external
resources and the formulation of monetary policy.
16. Public debt of the Government of Sri Lanka.
17. Foreign loans of the Government of Sri Lanka.
18. Regulation of banking, banking institutions and other national financial
institutions.
19. National policy on insurance and institutions providing insurance services.
20. Regulation of securities, stock exchanges and future markets.
21. Audit of the accounts of the Governments and of the Provincies and of other
States institutions.
22. Taxes on income, capital and wealth of individuals, companies and
corporations as provided in the Constitution.
23. Customs duties, including import and export duties, and excise duties
(excluding such excise duties as may be specified by law) as provided in the
Constitution.
24. Turnover taxes and stamp duties, goods and services taxes as provided in
the Constitution.
25. Any other taxes, duties or levies not mentioned in the Provincial List.
26. National Lotteries.
27. Pensions payable by the Government of Sri Lanka or out of the Consolidated
Fund of Sri Lanka.
28. Nuclear energy.
29. National grid for the supply of electricity; maintenance and management of
the national grid; national projects in generation, supply and distribution of
electricity as declared by Parliament by law.
30. National projects in non‐conventional energy as declared by Parliament by
law.
31. National projects in water supply and sanitation.
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32. Regulation of the development and exploitation of oil fields, petroleum and
petroleum products and the collection of Royalties thereon.
33. National policy on mines and minerals; national projects for the
development and exploitation of mines and minerals as declared by
Parliament by law.
34. National planning for inter‐provincial rivers in consultation with the relevant
Provinces; inter‐provincial irrigation schemes, that is, schemes whose headworks
and command areas are located in two or more provinces; regulation
of flow of water in inter‐provincial waterways, in keeping with the
recommendations of the National Land and Water Commission.
35. Airports, ports and harbours with international transportation; provision of
facilities, in consultation with the relevant Provincial Governments, in fishery
harbours used mainly by vessels engaged in fishing beyond Sri Lankan
waters.
36. Inter‐Provincial transport.
37. National Railways.
38. Civil aviation.
39. The main inter‐provincial highways linking the Capital Territory with the
provincial capitals, provincial capitals with each other and district capitals
with each other in so far as the highway linking district capitals traverse
provincial boundaries; toll roads and expressways constructed by or under
the authority of the Central Government.
40. Roads within the Capital Territory other than roads maintained by Local
Authorities.
41. Shipping and navigation, but not including boat and ferry services for
internal transportation; Maritime Zones including historical waters and
territorial waters; Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf.
42. Posts and telecommunications.
43. Establishment of regulatory authorities which shall consist of the
representatives of the Centre and of the Provinces, for the determination of
national standards relating to communication and media and the
enforcement of such standards; licensing of mass media including
broadcasting and television institutions at the national level.
44. National holidays; national policy on holidays.
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45. National Public Service; National Public Service Commission.
46. National policy on health; national health plan; national health
administration; hospitals declared by Parliament by law as special purpose
hospitals and teaching hospitals affiliated to National Universities; coordination
of health services; co‐ordination of education, training and
research relating to health; determination of national health standards;
administration of special health programmes; national institutions for
education and training of auxiliary medical personnel.
47. Policy and enforcement procedure relating to drugs, poisons and narcotics
and enforcement jointly with the Province.
48. Administration of Justice as provided in the Constitution; court procedure.
49. National prisons.
50. Policy and law relating to adoption of children.
51. Fishing beyond territorial waters (12 nautical miles); registration of vessels
engaged in fishing beyond territorial waters; rights relating to traditional
migratory fishing within territorial waters; reference of inter‐provincial
fishing disputes and disputes relating to traditional migratory fishing for
settlement in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
52. Protection, development and exploitation of marine and aquatic resources in
keeping with international obligations and measures to enforce such
obligations.
53. National policy on education; national institutions in the field of education
such as the National Institute of Education; administration and supervision
of schools declared by Parliament by law as national schools, provided that
the administration of any national school may be entrusted to the relevant
Provincial Government; transfer of any national school to the relevant
Provincial Government whenever found to be expedient, but not vice‐versa;
co‐ordination of training of teachers; determination of minimum standards
for national public certification examinations and the conduct of such
examinations; determination of national syllabi and curricula;
determination of minimum qualifications for teachers; national institutions
for the training of teachers; special programmes in education; educational
publications provided by the Central Government; Privena education.
54. University Grants Commission; universities declared by Parliament as
national universities; national standards for universities; national
institutions for technical and higher technical education.
55. National standards with regard to professions, occupations and training.
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56. National policy on agriculture and animal husbandry; national institutions for
education and training of auxiliary agricultural and veterinary personnel.
57. National standards relating to science and technology, and to research,
development and training in the areas of industries, agriculture, fisheries
and aquatic resources.
58. National research institutions.
59. Tea, rubber and coconut plantations and tea and rubber small holdings; the
regulation of the production of tea, rubber and coconut, National policy on
coconut cultivation and products.
60. Foreign trade; general policy on inter‐provincial trade.
61. Sri Lanka Standards Institution.
62. Establishment of standards of weights and measures.
63. Intellectual property including patents, inventions, designs, copyrights,
trademarks and merchandise marks.
64. Monopolies, mergers, restrictive trade practices.
65. Buddha Sasana.
66. Pilgrimages outside Sri Lanka.
67. National Libraries and the National Library Services Board.
68. National Archives and Museums.
69. Archaeology; Policy formulation; excavation and conservation including
access for such purpose; maintenance and administration of ancient and
historical monuments, archaeological sites, archaeological remains and
records declared by or under law to be of national importance and future
discoveries declared after consulting the relevant Provincial Government, by
or under law, to be of national importance.
70. Treasure trove.
71. Preservation and promotion of the national heritage.
72. National standards relating to public performances; national certificates for
public performances.
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73. National policy on tourism; promotion of national tourism.
74. National zoological and botanical gardens.
75. National land use policy and planning in accordance with Section 13.
76. National policy on the environment; national plans on the environment and
conservation of the environment, including forestry and fauna and flora, in
keeping with international obligations.
77. National Parks, Strict Natural Reserves, Nature Reserves, Sanctuaries and
National Heritage Wilderness Areas declared by or under law.
78. Reserved Forests and Conservation Forests declared by or under any law,
which shall be used in conformity with national plans on forestry and in
accordance with national land use policy.
79. Foreshore; national plans on coast conservation prepared in consultation
with the relevant Provincial Governments; declaration and demarcation of
coast reservations for the implementation of national programmes relating
to coast conservation.
80. Formulation of national poverty alleviation programmes in consultation with
the Provincial Governments and co‐ordination of the implementation of
such programmes by the Provinces.
81. Social security and social insurance.
82. National policy on youth.
83. National policy on women.
84. National policy on children and differently abled persons.
85. National policy on sports; administration of national sports bodies.
86. Disaster management at national level; intervention including relief,
reconstruction land compensation in instances of natural and man‐made
disasters and epidemics, supplementing the role of the Provincial
Governments.
87. Labour regulation and standards; labour laws.
88. National policy on industrial development including those based on
agriculgtural products in consultation with the Provinces.
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89. Establishment of commercial, industrial and other enterprises, partly or
wholly owned by the Central Government.
90. Institutions for the promotion of investments and determination of policy
relating to foreign investment.
91. National housing programmes with the concurrence of the relevant
Provincial Government.
92. National spatial and urban planning in consultation with the relevant
Provincial Governments.
93. Cadastral and Geological Surveys of Sri Lanka.
94. Urban planning and implementation in the Capital Territory; public utilities
in the Capital Territory.
95. Drainage and waterways within the Capital Territory.
96. Establishment of any institutions for the discharge of any or all of the
functions/subjects specified in items 40, 94 and 95 of the National List and
for the delegation of any of the functions of such institution to any local
authorities within the Capital Territory.
97. National policy on food security.
98. National policy on consumer protection including adulteration of foodstuffs
and on price control.
99. Prevention of the introduction to the country and spread from one Province
to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting human
beings, animals or plants.
100. Surveys for the purpose of any matters enumerated in the National List.
101. Fees in respect of any of the matters in the National List.
102. Requisition or acquisition of private property for the purposes of any matter
in the National List solely for the furtherance of economic or social needs,
subject to the payment of compensation assessed and determined according
to the market value of the subject property at the time of acquisition.
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[In the formulation of national policies, standards or plans, the Central
Government shall consult the Provincial Governments and the policies, standards
or plans decided upon shall be subject to approval by both houses of Parliament]
- 9
List ‐ II ‐ Provincial List
1. Provincial planning including employment planning at the Provincial level
and plan implementation including employment programmes.
2. Provincial policy on education; administration of education and
educational services within the Province in conformity with national policy;
administration of national schools entrusted by the Central Government;
training of teachers; technical and higher technical education; provincial
institutions for technical and higher technical education; provincial
universities conforming to national standards set by the Universities Grants
Commission, provided that not more than 75% of student intake shall be
reserved for the relevant province; pre‐schools; vocational education and
training; research on education; educational publications provided by the
Provincial Government.
3. Health and indigenous medicine including provincial health services and
provincial health administration in conformity with national health policy;
teaching hospitals affiliated to provincial universities; supervision of private
medical care; control of nursing homes and of diagnostic facilities within a
Province in keeping with national policy; provincial institutions for
education and training of auxiliary medical personnel.
4. Agriculture and agrarian services; agricultural research, extension,
promotion and education within the Province; promotion of agro‐based
industries within the Province; provincial institutions for education and
training of auxiliary agricultural personnel.
5. Palmyrah development; cashew development.
6. Coconut small holdings.
7. Animal husbandry; provincial institutions for education and training of
auxiliary veterinary personnel; establishment and upkeep of pasture land.
8. Protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases in keeping with
national policy.
9. Fisheries and aquatic resources within territorial waters, but not including
rights relating to traditional migratory fishing in territorial waters as
provided in the National List.
10. State land and its use, alienation or disposal as specified in the Constitution.
- 10
11. Irrigation within the Province; groundwater irrigation; salt water exclusion
schemes.
12. Forests, excluding those specified in the National List, which shall be used,
subject to the provisions of the Constitution, in conformity with national
plans on forestry and with due regard to national land use policy..
13. Protection of the environment in conformity with national policy on
conservation of the environment.
14. Coast conservation in conformity with national policy.
15. Conservation of fauna and flora in keeping with national policy.
16. Water supply and sanitation other than national water supply and
sanitation projects.
17. Drainage and waterways within the Province other than within the Capital
Territory.
18. Generation, supply and distribution of electricity, other than national
projects.
19. Provincial projects in non‐conventional energy.
20. Roads excluding those specified in the National List; toll roads and
expressways constructed by or under the authority of the Provincial
Government.
21. Transport excluding national railways, but including ferry and boat services
for internal transportation.
22. Minor ports and harbours, jetties and piers for internal transportation, and
with no international transportation; fishery harbours with no international
transportation.
23. Housing, other than national housing programmes.
24. Urban planning and implementation, other than within the Capital Territory
in accordance with national plans.
25. Local Government
26. Road Development.
27. Development and exploitation of mines and minerals other than national
projects, declared by Parliament by Law.
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28. Production and supply of salt.
29. Development and exploitation of sand and rock quarries.
30. Industries and industrial development inclusive of industrial research and
training within the Province.
31. Promotion of investments in the Province.
32. Trade and commerce excluding foreign trade.
33. Promotion and development of provincial products for the purpose of
foreign trade.
34. Establishment of commercial enterprises, partly or wholly owned by the
Province.
35. Co‐operatives and Co‐operative Banks.
36. Supply and distribution of food; rationing of food and maintenance of food
stocks in keeping with national policy on food security.
37. Markets and Fairs.
38. Law and Order, Provincial Police and Provincial Police Commission to the
extent provided in the Constitution.
39. Administration of Justice within a Province to the extent permitted by the
Constitution; mediation and conciliation; provision and the setting up of
court buildings in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, the
maintenance of court buildings and the development of the infrastructure
of courts.
40. Provincial prisons; borstal and reformatory institutions.
41. Formulation and implementation of programmes for the advancement of
women, subject to national policy.
42. Formulation and implementation of programmes for the advancement of
women, subject to national policy.
43. Formulation and implementation of programmes for children and
differently abled persons, subject to national policy.
44. Sports.
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45. Social Services, but not including social security and social insurance.
46. Poverty alleviation subject to the Centre’s power to formulate and
coordinate national poverty alleviation programmes as set out in item 80 of
the National List.
47. Relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction and the granting of compensation
consequent to natural or man‐made disasters; disaster management at the
Provincial level.
48. Public debt of a Province, excluding debts owed to the Central Government.
49. Domestic borrowing on the security of the Consolidated Fund of the
Province.
50. International borrowing subject to such criteria and limitation as may be
specified by Parliament and with the concurrence of the Finance
Commission.
51. The promotion and management of foreign direct investment, international
grants and developmental assistance to the Province subject to such criteria
and limitation as may be specified by Parliament and with the concurrence
of the Finance Commission.
52. Provincial financial and credit institutions including provincial institutions
providing insurance services.
53. Provincial Public Service; Provincial Public Service Commission.
54. Provincial holidays subject to national policy on holidays.
55.1 Excise duties to be specified by law made by Parliament.
55.2 Betting and gaming taxes, taxes on prize competitions and on lotteries,
other than national lotteries and lotteries organized by the National
Government.
55.3 Provincial sales taxes and turnover taxes on wholesale and retail sales.
55.4 Liquor rentals; toddy tapping licence fees.
55.5 Licensing fees for the possession, transport, purchase and sale of
intoxicating liquors.
55.6 Dealership licenses on drugs and other chemicals.
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55.7 Motor vehicle license fees and other fees charged under the Motor Traffic
Act.
55.8 Fees on lands alienated under the Land Development Ordinance and
Crown Lands Ordinance.
55.9 Fees under the Fauna and Flora Ordinance.
55.10 Stamp duties on transfer of immovable properties and motor vehicles.
55.11 Taxes on mineral rights subject to limitations imposed by Parliament.
55.12 Taxes on products of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries.
55.13 Taxes on goods and passengers carried by roads or inland ferries and
boats.
55.14 Taxes on entry of goods into a local area for consumption, use or sale
therein.
55.15 Taxes on the consumption of sale of electricity and pipe‐borne water.
55.16 Taxes on advertisements other than advertisements by means of
newspapers, magazines, radio or television.
55.17 Taxes on vehicles, boats and animals.
55.18 Taxes on professions and trades.
55.19 Utilization of court fines within the Province provided that not less than
ten per centum of the fines imposed shall be utilized for construction and
maintenance of court buildings and the development of the infrastructure
of courts.
55.20 Court fees, including stamp fees on documents produced in courts.
55.21 Imposition, collection and utilization of fines, other than court fines, in
respect of the matters in the Provincial List.
55.22 Imposition of levies relating to any of the subjects or functions under the
purview of the Province.
55.23 Any other tax that may be devolved by law by Parliament on the Province.
56. Land revenue, including the assessment and collection of revenues, and
maintenance of land records.
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57. Registration of motor vehicles.
58. Pensions payable by a Provincial Government or out of the Consolidated
Fund of a Province.
59. Provincial lotteries and their conduct.
60. Cultural, tourism and trade representation of the Province in Sri Lankan
Diplomatic Missions abroad.
61. Participation in international conferences, associations and other such
bodies in relation to matters in the Provincial List.
62. Licensing and regulations of mass media including broadcasting and
television institutions at the Provincial level; printing presses.
63. Provincial libraries and museums; Provincial archives.
64. Promotion of cultural activities within the Province with due regard to the
preservation of cultural diversity.
65. Preservation, maintenance and administration of ancient and historical
monuments, archaeological sites and records other than those specified in
the National List.
66. Provincial certificates for public performances.
67. Promotion of provincial tourism.
68. Provincial zoological and botanical gardens.
69. Provision of facilities for festivals.
70. Pilgrimages within Sri Lanka.
71. Charitable and religious endowments.
72. Registration and regulation of unincorporated associations and societies
within the Province, charities and charitable institutions; trusts and
trustees.
73. Coordinating the activities of international and local non‐governmental
organizations in relation to matters in the Provincial List.
74. Consumer protection in keeping with national policy including price control
of products not subject to price control by the Centre.
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75. Weights and measures except establishment of standards.
76. Research on subjects and functions in the Provincial List.
77. Surveys for the purpose of any matters enumerated in the Provincial List.
78. Fees in respect of any of the matters in the Provincial List.
79. Requisition or acquisition of private property for the purposes of any
matter in the Provincial List solely for the furtherance of economic or social
needs, subject to the payment of compensation assessed and determined
according to the market value of the subject property at the time of
acquisition.
80. Any other matter provided for in the Constitution.
Note: Where a subject or function not enumerated in any of the Lists is ancillary to a
subject or function already included in the Provincial List, such subject or
function shall be deemed to be included in the Provincial List. All other subjects
and functions not explicitly listed in the National or Provincial Lists shall be
deemed to be included in the National List.
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List ‐ III ‐ Local Authorities
Pradeshiya Sabhas and Municipal and Urban Councils shall have the power to
make by‐laws in respect of the following subjects and functions, subject to the
statutes of the relevant Provincial Legislature:
1. Pre‐schools.
2. Adult and non‐formal education; vocational training.
3. Promotion of religion and culture, including the establishment and
maintenance of religious schools and cultural centres.
4. Community centres, libraries and reading rooms.
5. Buildings; building operations and works.
6. Assessment and collection of land revenues.
7. Supply of electricity; promotion of non‐conventional energy sources.
8. Water supply and water works.
9. Public wells; public baths and bathing places.
10. Drainage and flood control.
11. Lakes and canals, other than lakes and canals for irrigation.
12. Thoroughfares, including clearing and lighting of the same.
13. Local transport services; ferry and boat services.
14. Bus‐stops and vehicle parks.
15. Preservation of public health.
16. Control of mosquitoes and other disease‐causing insects.
17. Provision of public sanitary conveniences; conservancy and scavenging.
18. Primary health centres; indigenous medical clinics.
19. Ambalams and madams.
20. Inns and rest houses.
21. Licensing and regulation of lodging houses and tenement buildings.
22. Licensing and regulation of bakeries, eating houses, restaurants, tea and
coffee kiosks and hotels.
23. Licensing and regulation of shops and places for the sale of perishable items
of food.
24. Regulation of diaries and the sale of milk.
25. Abattoirs.
26. Markets and fairs; itinerant and sidewalk vendors.
27. Licensing and regulation of launderers and laundries.
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28. Licensing and regulation of beauticians and hairdressers.
29. Licensing and regulation of forges.
30. Licensing and regulation of mills.
31. Regulation of small industries, including handlooms, textiles and garment
manufacture.
32. Protection of the environment.
33. Care of waste of public lands.
34. Provision of facilities to fishermen.
35. Local authority housing, including housing for the poor.
36. Community amenities such as parks, gardens and playgrounds.
37. Burial and burial grounds, cremations and cremation grounds and
crematoriums.
38. Regulation of toddy tapping; control of the sale and supply of toddy.
39. Regulation of breweries and aerated water manufactories.
40. Implementation of poverty alleviation programmes.
41. Implementation of youth welfare programmes.
42. Social welfare, including welfare of the differently abled; welfare of the
weaker sections of society.
43. Family welfare; women and child development; provision of childcare
facilities.
44. Licensing and regulation of brokers and money lenders.
45. Licensing and regulation of public entertainment.
46. Ambulance services.
47. Fire services.
48. Protection of wildlife.
49. Regulation of pens for cattle.
50. Branding of animals; control of diseases among animals and birds.
51. Stray animals including stray dogs.
52. Prevention of cruelty to animals.
53. Disposal of dead bodies of animals.
54. Control of gambling.
55. Advertisements displaced in public places.
56. Control of nuisances.
57. Regulation of processions and assemblies on thoroughfares.

Papers apologise to Parameswaran Subramanyam after falsely claiming he sustained himself with hamburgers during fast

Daily Mail and Sun pay out to Tamil hunger striker

by Sam Jones

A Tamil refugee who went on a 23-day hunger strike in Parliament Square last year has received an apology and almost £80,000 in damages from the Daily Mail and the Sun over false allegations that he secretly sustained himself with hamburgers.

Parameswaran Subramanyam, 29, became the public face of the 73-day Tamil protests in Westminster after he decided to stop eating in the hope of drawing the world's attention to what was happening to his people in the final stages of Sri Lanka's civil war.

He gave up his hunger strike on 30 April after the then foreign secretary, David Miliband, wrote him a letter explaining the "strenuous efforts" the government was making to bring about a ceasefire on the island. He then spent five days recovering in hospital.

Although his actions won him the support and admiration of many Tamils, their affection turned to animosity in October 2009 after the Daily Mail ran a story falsely claiming Subramanyam had broken the strike by eating burgers and had been caught doing so by a Metropolitan police surveillance team. The allegations were then repeated in a story published on the Sun's website, headlined "Hunger Striker Was Lovin' it".

Today, Subramanyam's solicitor, Magnus Boyd, told the high court that the articles had "[struck] at the heart of the claimant's integrity, undermining the single achievement for which he became known and respected".

He added: "As a direct result of the defendants' publications, the claimant was ostracised by the Tamil community and its supporters who believed that the claimant had betrayed them and that the claimant had in fact undermined the Tamil struggle globally."

Not only were the allegations false, said Boyd, the Met superintendent in charge of the policing operation had also confirmed that no video evidence existed because there had been no police surveillance team using the "specialist monitoring equipment" alluded to in the Daily Mail article.

Victoria Jolliffe, counsel for Associated Newspapers and News Group newspapers, told the court that both organisations had withdrawn the allegations and apologised "sincerely and unreservedly" to Subramanyam for the distress that had been caused.

He is understood to have accepted damages of £30,000 from the Sun and £47,500 from the Daily Mail. The newspapers will also pay his legal costs.

Subramanyam said he felt both organisations should have done more to check the story with the Met before running it. Had they done so, he said, "it would have become clear to them that the allegations they intended to publish were false".

He said he was still angry at his treatment by the Mail – and particularly its claim in court today that it had published the article "in good faith based on information that, at the time, was understood to be reliable".

Today's apology, he said, did not go far enough in repairing the damage done to his reputation.

"I have been shunned, publicly abused and received numerous extremely distressing and frightening telephone calls and text messages," he said. "I have received death threats and on occasions felt unable to leave my home for fear that I may be attacked."

"Ultimately, I feel the Daily Mail has used my apology and the court statement as an opportunity for it to absolve itself of any responsibility for publishing the false claims."

Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, which is home to many Tamils, welcomed the news.

"Fasting was the sacrifice [Subramanyam] was making to bring the UK's attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of Tamils being killed and injured by the Sri Lankan government," she said.

"To suggest that he had broken his fast in secret, at the height of the civil war was an insult to him, to his community and to those victims."

Boyd, a partner at solicitors' firm Carter-Ruck, said that the case showed how important an individual's reputation was.

"It's not just a concept," he said. "It has real meaning in people's lives. When someone's reputation is damaged, something very fundamental to them as people is damaged and I have seen it with Parameswaran. He has turned inside himself with this case." - courtesy: The Guardian. uk -

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Parameswaran Subramaniyum on the 23rd day of his hunger strike in Parliament Square, London ~ Pic: The Independent - Apr 30, 2009

Hunger striker in London wins damages over burgers claim

By Jan Colley, Press Association

A Tamil refugee hunger striker today accepted substantial undisclosed damages over claims that he had secretly eaten takeaway burgers throughout his protest.

The articles in the Daily Mail and The Sun struck at the heart of Parameswaran Subramanyam's integrity and undermined the single achievement for which he became known and respected, the High Court in London heard.

His solicitor, Magnus Boyd, told Mr Justice Eady that Mr Subramanyam began his protest outside the Houses of Parliament on April 7, 2009, in a bid to raise awareness of the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils and to encourage intervention by the UK government.

Mr Subramanyam officially ended his strike after 23 days and was treated in hospital for five nights.

Six months later, the Daily Mail and The Sun ran stories which reported claims that specialist monitoring equipment had caught Mr Subramanyam secretly eating McDonald's burgers and that he had caused the police to waste a fortune in public money.

Mr Boyd said that the allegations were "entirely false", which both newspapers now accepted.

"The claimant did not consume any food at all throughout his hunger strike. The Metropolitan Police superintendent who was in charge of the operation in Parliament Square confirmed that there was no police surveillance team using 'specialist monitoring equipment' and that no video evidence existed."

Because of the publications, added Mr Boyd, Mr Subramanyam was ostracised by the Tamil community who believed he had betrayed them and undermined their struggle globally.

Victoria Jolliffe, counsel for News Group Newspapers and Associated Newspapers, said they withdrew all the allegations and apologised sincerely and unreservedly for the hurt and distress caused.

They each agreed to pay Mr Subramanyam substantial damages and his costs.

She said that Associated published the article - upon which News Group's article was then based - in good faith based on information that, at the time, was understood to be reliable.

Afterwards, Mr Subramanyam said: "I am relieved that this matter is now resolved and I can start to rebuild my life again.

"The past eight months have been an unbearable strain on my life, to the extent that at times I have even contemplated taking my own life.

"As a result of the lies that the newspapers published about me, and through no fault of my own, I have lost friends, been shunned by family members and completely ostracised from the Tamil community.

"I felt I had a responsibility to all those who had supported me during the hunger strike, and were sullied by association with me, to take legal action against both newspapers to prove that the allegations that were published were false.

"Now that both newspapers have declared that the allegations are completely untrue and apologised, I sincerely hope that those people will accept the newspapers' apologies and understand that I have done nothing wrong.

"My sacrifice during the 23-day hunger strike was real and for the sake of my fellow Tamils who are suffering in Sri Lanka.

"I would like to thank all those who have stuck by me through this nightmare and have not doubted my integrity." ~ Courtesy: The Independent ~

India unable to significantly influence Sri Lankan Govt in the aftermath of war

by Col.R.Hariharan

It is 23 years since the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement was signed on July 29, 1987. The agreement is popularly referred to as the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord, after its architects — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayewardene

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Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene sign the historic Indo-Sri Lanka accord in Colombo on July 29, 1987. File photo courtesy of Hindu

Unfortunately, the event is today remembered only for its unpleasant fallout after India unwittingly got entangled in a counter-insurgency war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from 1987 to 1990. After sacrificing the lives of over 1,200 of its soldiers, India felt cheated when President Ranasinghe Premadasa joined hands with the LTTE to send the Indian troops out of Sri Lanka before they had completed their job.

But India had an even worse experience after the troops were pulled out: in 1991, an LTTE suicide-bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi at the venue of a public meeting near Chennai. The killing, masterminded by LTTE chief V. Prabakaran, had more than a symbolic impact. It ended the popular support Tamil militants had enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. India scaled down its active involvement in Sri Lanka, and adopted a passive approach to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Prabakaran's strategic blunder ultimately cost him his life: Sri Lanka, helped by India, crushed the LTTE in the fourth round of the war in 2009.

The Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord was perhaps too ambitious in its scope as it sought to collectively address all the three contentious issues between India and Sri Lanka: strategic interests, people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka and Tamil minority rights in Sri Lanka. Its success depended on sustained political support from both the countries. So the Accord got sidelined when political leaders who were unhappy with the Accord came to power in both countries almost at the same time. As a result, the Tamil minorities, who had put their faith in it, were in limbo. These unsavoury developments have clouded the understanding of the positive aspects of the Accord. After all, it was the Accord that enabled Sri Lankan Tamils to gain recognition for some of their demands in Sri Lankan politics and in the Sri Lankan Constitution.

The Accord was unique as it marked a new beginning with respect to India's articulation of power, never exercised after India's war with Pakistan in 1971 that helped the birth of Bangladesh. India's Sri Lanka operation was more complex than the Bangladesh war on a few counts. The operation had to be carried out in an island-nation; this imposed severe strategic constraints. It was an unconventional war waged against a Tamil insurgent group with strong connections in Tamil Nadu. And, India's vague articulation of its military intervention in support of the Accord triggered an emotional backlash against it in both countries.

The focus of the Accord, signed in the waning years of the Cold War era, was undoubtedly strategic. It aimed to keep Americans from gaining a foothold in Sri Lanka. This was a departure from India's traditional policy that was fixated largely on two issues — the status of people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka, and the Tamil minority's quest for democratic rights. India's new-found articulation of military power in Sri Lanka, though halting and probably unintentional, sent a strong message to its neighbours and global powers. This was further reinforced in 1989 when India sent a military contingent in response to a request from the government of Maldives — another island neighbour — and crushed an attempted coup there.

India's military intervention also demonstrated the country's readiness to fulfil its commitments to its neighbours. Significantly, it delineated India's strategic zone of influence in the Indian Ocean region. Since then, India has expanded its real-time naval capability. This was seen during the December 2004 tsunami strike: an Indian naval ship was at the scene on the Sri Lankan coast within a matter of hours to bring succour to the affected people.

India's strategic strength in this part of Indian Ocean is now recognised by the major powers. Perhaps this influenced the U.S. decision to build its strategic security relationship with India. India's keenness to find a lasting solution to Sri Lanka's Tamil issue was again demonstrated during the international peace process in Sri Lanka in 2002. Though India was not actively involved in it, the sponsor-nations, notably the U.S. and Norway, regularly sought India's counsel during the implementation phase. It is a pity that India failed to use its influence to ensure the success of the peace process.

India's military foray into Sri Lanka also proved to be a unique learning experience for the Indian armed forces in conducting operations across the seas. It brought home the nitty-gritty of joint operations command for smooth overseas operations. Carrying out counter-insurgency operations that had political ramifications both at home and abroad highlighted the limitations of New Delhi's decision-making process. The absence of a structure at the top to coordinate political and security decision-making did affect India's campaign. These lessons have greater relevance for India now as global and South Asian regional strategic security architectures change rapidly.

India had consistently affirmed its support for a unified Sri Lanka and opposition to the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam. At the same time, India was sympathetic to the Tamil quest for equitable rights in Sri Lanka. Even the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord had its roots in India's effort to give form and substance to it. The strong sympathy of the people of Tamil Nadu for their brethren in Sri Lanka was an important factor in shaping India's policy on this issue. Sri Lanka had to reckon with this factor in its strategic calculus in its three military campaigns against the Tamil militant group.

However, India's benign Sri Lanka posture after its ill-fated military intervention and gory aftermath enabled Sri Lanka to build bridges with India. Wisely, India also did not allow the frictions of the intervening decades to come in the way and reciprocated Sri Lanka's efforts. Both countries have adopted a win-win strategy to build upon the positives of their relationship. These efforts culminated in the signing of India's first-ever free trade agreement with Sri Lanka in 2000. As a result, India-Sri Lanka relations now have a unique status in South Asia.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President in 2005; his campaign focus was on defeating the LTTE and crushing Tamil separatism. The advantages of close relations with India came in handy when he decided to clip the LTTE's wings after the peace process of 2002 failed to make progress even in three years. Though India was not a significant arms-supplier during Eelam War 2006, it had helped train the Sri Lankan armed forces and provided valuable intelligence inputs on the LTTE's intricate international logistic and support network. Sri Lanka managed to dismantle this apparatus and crippled the Tigers, paving the way for their defeat. More than all this, the governments in New Delhi and Chennai together managed the tricky fallout of the Eelam war in Tamil Nadu and saw to it that things did not get out of hand. This thwarted the efforts of the pro-LTTE parties and supporters in Tamil Nadu to create a pro-Tiger upsurge.

As a result, the LTTE could neither use Tamil Nadu as a logistic and support base nor influence India's political decisions during the war. India's own bitter experience with the LTTE probably shaped its public posture during Sri Lanka's war. At the same time, perhaps India realised that it would be untenable to allow the LTTE, which had grown into one of the world's strongest insurgent groups, to operate as a loose cannon in its strategic neighbourhood. This was perhaps one of the reasons for India's hands-off attitude as the Sri Lankan Army relentlessly pursued and ultimately crushed the LTTE.

Unfortunately, India was unable to significantly influence the Sri Lankan government in the aftermath of war. Even a year after the war ended, a political solution to meet the Tamil minority's demands has not been evolved. Normal life has not been restored to a sizeable population affected by the war in the Northern Province. They are yet to recover from the trauma of war as the pace of reconstruction is not consistent with their colossal needs.

It is people, not treaties, which make relations between nations meaningful. Unless India makes a difference in the lives of the people of both countries, its relations with Sri Lanka will not address the broader aspects of strategic security. This is the important takeaway as we look at the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord after over two decades.

(Colonel (retired) R. Hariharan, a military intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. E-mail: colhari@yahoo.com)

Rights of Tamils on boat need to be respected - Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Tamil Congress

The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Tamil Congress today called on Canadians to be mindful of the need to honour international human rights obligations, in responding to the Tamils believed to be on board a boat approaching North America.

“Over the years Canada has saved the lives of thousands of Tamils fleeing persecution, by providing access to a fair and independent refugee system,” said Wanda Yamamoto, CCR President. “Whether they arrive by plane, foot or boat, people seeking refuge from human rights abuses have a right to an individual hearing on the reasons why they fled – a right recently reaffirmed by Parliament. In respecting this right we take a stand against the persecutors and the human rights violators.”

In recently published guidelines on Sri Lankan refugee claims, the UN Refugee Agency notes that groups potentially at risk of persecution in Sri Lanka include journalists, human rights activists, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and persons suspected of having links with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).

“Amnesty International has extensively documented the use by the Sri Lankan government of anti-terrorism laws to silence human rights activists, journalists, and other critics. Sri Lankans suspected, even if wrongly, of being LTTE supporters have been routinely imprisoned and tortured,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada.

“It is disturbing to hear some public comments that seem to follow this lead by labelling Tamil asylum seekers as “terrorists” before they have even had a chance to tell their story. Canadian and international law requires that refugees have access to individual and unbiased determination of their claim to need protection.”

Canadian law also provides for the identification of individuals who have committed serious human rights violations or who represent a risk to Canadian security, including of course any LTTE members who fit these categories. Such persons are ineligible for refugee status and may be removed from Canada.

“Taking to the seas in a boat like this is very risky,” said David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson, Canadian Tamil Congress. “We can only imagine that the people on board must have been very desperate to undertake such a dangerous voyage. We hope that our fellow Canadians will listen sympathetically to their stories and will support the government’s fair application of the law.”

July 28, 2010

In Pictures: “J” Awards Nite

by Dushiyanthini Kanaasabapathipillai

“In Journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right”~ Ellen Goodman (1941-), (American Journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist)

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Journalism Awards for Excellence 2009 was held at the Mount Lavinia on July 27th 2010.

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[click here to see & read more]

Deadly Symbols, Vibrant Electoral Politics and War Crimes in Sri Lanka

By Dr.A.R.M.Imtiyaz

[Abstract:

Symbols are emotional and they play significant role in all aspect of human communities, including electoral politics. Symbols are deadly in nature because they can provoke deadly violence and war crimes. In Sri Lanka, Sinhala politician and elites often resort to symbols in order to win political power.

This study examines the interaction between Buddhist ethnic symbols and politics in Sri Lanka.

This paper examines the process of politicization of Buddhist symbols, and the use of symbols in the general elections in 1956 that brought the Sinhala exclusivists to the power establishment of Sri Lanka and the sixth Presidential elections in 2010. This paper, also briefly discusses the war crimes allegedly by committed security forces against the Tamils.]

[(The article appeared in the IUP Journal of International Relations, Vol IV, No. 3, July 2010. The issue of the journal in which it appears online, http://www.iupindia.in/International_Relations.asp]

*

Dr. A.R.M. Imtiyaz, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Temple University, USA. He can be reached
at imtiyaz@temple.edu

Some Remarks on the Sinhala-Buddhist Religio-Political Parties and Groups in Sri Lanka

Although Buddhist monks have enjoyed a prominent position with the society for long time and that the state policies were being eschewed towards Buddhism from the early days of independent Sri Lanka, political parties solely based on religious identity is a relative new phenomenon. There are approximately 45 registered political parties,
including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP).

1

To date, two major political parties can be exclusively categorized as political parties that
employ Sinhala-Buddhist concerns and demands for electoral gains. They are: the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). However, the UNP and the SLFP often use Sinhala symbols to outbid their opponents and to win power.

These political parties share common goals: to uphold Buddhism and establish a link between the state and religion, and to advocate a violent solution to the Tamil national question. The JHU and JVP are the key parties in this regard.
2

The former was founded in 2004 and the latter in 1965.

The JVP, which mounted two failed rebellions against the Sri Lanka state in 1971 and 1987-89 in which an estimated 50,000 people were killed, still claims that it is Marxist party, but its policies and actions contradict its claim and suggest that it vigorously resorts to Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism to win Sinhala-Buddhist votes. The JVP is exceptionally strong in its organization to mobilize underprivileged sections of the Sinhalese.

However, the general elections in April 2010 for the national legislature suggest that the JVP has become increasingly unpopular among the Sinhala masses. Mr. Rajapaksa’s aggressive strategies to take advantage of the war victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and his effective use of Sinhala chauvinism could have contributed to the lose of the Sinhala votes for the JVP.

The JVP dynamically supported the war against the LTTE and all form of political and military concessions to the LTTE, and thus it opposed the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE, the separatist Tamil Organization commonly referred to as Tamil Tiger, established in May 1976 and defeated in May 2009). The JVP also violently rejected the Tsunami Joint Mechanism (JM) otherwise known as Post Tsunami Operation Management (P-TOMS) signed in June 2005.

3

The fact is that the JVP’s pro-war and anti-devolutions positions (modern deadly Sinhala symbols) helped increased the sympathies for the JVP and to challenge the UNP and the SLFP in electoral politics. The JVP, due to the existing proportional representative electoral system (PR) and its electoral alliance with the SLFP, has grown in strength: increasing its parliamentary seats from 10 in 2000 to 16 in 2001 and to 38 in the last general elections held in 2004.

4

The JVP had suffered an internal conflict in April 2008, between Wimal Weerawansa, who resort to extreme form of pro-Sinhala-Buddhist policies and the party leadership.

5

Wimal Weerawansa suspended from all party activities from March 21, 2008,
and he formed the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP).

6

The JNP began its activities on May 14, 2008 and vowed to seek an altenative to main political parties the UNP and
SLFP. It rejects a political solution to the Tamil nation question and supported the
government war against the LTTE.

7

The JHU was founded by Buddhist monks to promote the interests of the Sinhala-Buddhists and to make Buddhism a guiding principal of state affairs, as well as to wipe out Tamil violence by force. The JHU shuns non-violence as a means to seek political alternatives for the Tamil national question, and has been urging young Sinhala-
Buddhists to sign up for the army.

8

As a result, “as many as 30,000 Sinhalese young men have signed up for the army in the past few months.”

9

The JHU in its first parliamentary elections held on April 2, 2004 won 9 seats out of 225, or 6% of popular vote. The JHU on July 21, 2004 submitted a bill in Parliament seeking to outlaw religious conversions based on offers of cash or other incentives.

10

The legislation which won the blessing of the government in Sri Lanka raised profound concerns especially among Christians, a small minority of the population.

11

In 2005, Mr. Rajapakshe sealed an electoral deal with the JHU.

The emotional symbolic agendas of the JHU and JVP, as well as the JNP favoring Sinhalese interests, are the biggest hurdle for the government of Sri Lanka to seek meaningful political initiatives to reform the state and its institutions as a means to engage with a political solution that seeks an irrevocable autonomy beyond the current
unitary state structure. The government’s decision to abrogate the CFA on January 16, 2008 confirms the influence, exerted by these extremists, on the ruling Sinhala political class.

12

Elections in Sri Lanka and Religious Symbolism

The introduction of universal adult suffrage in 1931 laid the foundation for a party system in Sri Lanka and has served as the point of departure of democratic practices.

13

The country has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy in the sense that the elections have been held in regular intervals. Since independence, the UNP and the SLFP have dominated the island’s political system. These parties basically represent a secular political position, but have resorted to symbolic emotional agendas to outbid their opponents.


Elite mobilization manipulating Buddhist symbols have been a major strategy for the major political parties such as the UNP and the SLFP in Sri Lanka. These emotional symbols such as the linguistic nationalism,

14

remembering ancient Buddhist heroes 15and constricting fears have won elections for them and are likely to be the future strategy toattract the Sinhalese who comprise 74 percent of the population and 70 percent of theelectorate.

Though the major parties formulate policies to attract the Sinhalese, they still offer cultural and trade concessions to the non-Sinhalese voters such as the Tamils and the Muslims. The Sinhalese, however, think they are the Buddha’s chosen people, and view the island of Sri Lanka as the Buddhist Promised land.

16

Sri Lankan Tamils who predominantly live in the North and East consider this area as their traditional homeland
and have been non-violently and violently have been fighting against the Sinhala majoritarinism and oppression, the two major product of politicization of Sinhala symbols for electoral gains.

17

The regions where the Sinhalese are majority are, in general, under developed and thus the majority portion of the Sinhalese in the South and the West lives in economically unpleasant conditions. Consequently, the Sinhalese
people who live in the region, particularly the economically weaker section of the Sinhalese become ardent audience of the Sinhalese politicians who use and manipulate the primordial symbols of the Sinhalese for electoral gains.

Almost all elections in Sri Lanka, between 1948 (parliamentary election) and 2010 (both Presidential and general election), have made use of religio-ethnic symbols.

Although symbolic slogans were not clearly associated with the agendas of politicians to win the very first general elections, the ruling UNP elites enacted the Citizenship Act of 1948 and the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act of 1949 to deprive Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka of voting rights soon after the party came to power. These two bills decitizenised thousands of Plantation Tamils.

18

The bills fragmented the Tamil political parties, for example, the All-Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), the major ethnic party of the Sri Lankan Tamils, supported the bills

19, while Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayakam, one of the chief lieutenants of the ACTC, and a Christian Tamil from the Jaffna peninsula split from the party and formed the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK, literally, ‘Ceylon Tamil State Party’ commonly known as the Tamil Federal Party, FP).

20

The Sri Lankan Tamils considered that this act was ethnically motivated and
directly contrary to the British- introduced constitution

21

that gave special protection under clause 29(2) to minorities.

22 Tamil nationalists have argued “the Act was inspired by Adolph Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws of September 15, 1935, which provided: A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He cannot exercise the right to vote.”

23

At this time, the ACBC,

24

lobbied for stern measures to protect and promote the interests of the Buddhists and Buddhism. The ACBC also demanded a Commission of Inquiry to “report on the state of Buddhism.”

25

However, the UNP government led by D.S. Senanayake resisted growing demands for special concessions to Buddhists.

26

It is important to point out that the Senanayake administration’s decision to divorce the state from the religion (Buddhism) goaded the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists, to revolt against the leadership of the UNP, and S.W. R. D. Bandaranayake exploited the situation for his political gains.

General Elections in 1956

The symbolic politics based on ethnic outbidding first appeared in the early 1950’s with the formation of the SLFP, the main opposition party to the UNP in 1952 practiced by the British-educated Bandaranaike who was described by Manor as a ‘complex, inconstant, visionary’ leader of Sri Lanka. The SLFP, the splinter group of the UNP lost
to the UNP in the 1952 general elections.

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The defeat inherently pushed the SLFP to seek straightforward alternatives to win Sinhalese votes in the crucial 1956 general elections: Bandaranaike espoused competitive Sinhala chauvinism and economic nationalism to outbid his electoral enemies, particularly the liberal leaning ruling UNP. It is also important to note that the SLFP customarily relied upon the socially and politically influential groups including the Buddhist clergy or bhikkus, the Sangha28 to carry its message to the Sinhalese villages where representative of the Sinhalese rural middle class,such as village teachers, indigenous physicians, and petty landowners play a major role in the political decisions of villagers.

The economically disadvantaged Sinhalese, whobelieved Tamils enjoyed privileged positions and benefits under the British colonial administration, became an ardent audience of the SLFP’s religio-ethnic symbolic sentiments, which promised to safeguard the interests of the Buddhists and offered egalitarian social reforms such as the introduction of the Sinhala-Only official language policy, land reform measures and subsidized agricultural policies and social reforms to institutionalize equity for the rural sector. The significant point is that Bandaranayke vigorously attempted to prove that he was the only voice of the oppressed Sinhalese who would lose their rights and centuries-old Buddhist traditions if the UNP were elected to power. Thus, the SLFP found an easy passage to public office, and gave up Bandaranayke’s early policy of language parity between Sinhala and Tamil. In fact, Bandaranayke’s only aim was to exploit the social and cultural conditions of disadvantaged Sinhalese to win votes.

To win the general elections of 1956, he formed an electoral alliance with the pro- Sinhala nationalist parties. An election coalition called the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) or People’s United Front was formed between Bandaranayke’s SLFP, Philip Gunawardena’s Viplavakari Lanka Samasamaja Party (VLSSP) or Revolutionary Equal Party, and W. Dahanayaka’s newly formed Sinhala Bhasa Peramuna (SBP) or Sinhala Language Front. The election coalition manifesto declared “Sinhala only within 24 hours” with “reasonable use of Tamil.” The newly formed, monks-only party, the Eksath Bhikku Peramina (EBP) played a critical role in this election as a major political pressure
group. The EBP, fiercely anti-UNP, anti-West and anti-Catholic, presented a ten-point agenda (the Dasa Panatha) to Bandaranayake, at a massive rally in Colombo. The tenpointagenda included making Sinhala the only officiallanguage and giving Buddhism its ‘rightful’ place.

29

Bandaranayke, with the total support of Sinhala-Buddhists, strongly campaigned in the villages of the South and West of the island, while his anti-West and anti-Catholic groups largely concentrated on the urban areas of the South and West with pro-Buddhism voices. One of the EBP’s slogans was “A vote for the UNP is a vote for the Catholics; a vote for the MEP is a vote for the Buddhists.”

30

The EBP succeeded in organizing a strong structure that would provide a militant basis for the purpose of attracting
disgruntled Sinhalese in urban areas.

The election results sent the message that Bandaranayke’s religio-ethnic symbolic policies had swayed the Sinhalese, particularly the rural voters: the MEP polled 39.5% of the votes and won 51 of the 95 seats in Parliament and hence formed the government. The UNP, which campaigned on a secular platform, was decimated, gaining a mere eight seats although it polled 27% of the votes. Leftist parties, both the Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) and Community Party (CP), opposed to the Sinhala-Only language agenda secured 14 and 3 seats, respectively. In the Tamil minority-dominated northeast, the Federal Party (FP), led by Tamil politician S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, won 10 seats, polling 5.4 % of the votes.

31

The FP, the major Tamil moderate party, campaigned on the federalist alternative for the territorially- based Tamils and attempted to win Tamil rights from the Sinhalese-dominated state through available democratic channels. On 5 June 1956, Bandaranayke introduced in the House of Representatives a bill to make Sinhala the only official language of Sri Lanka. The purpose of the legislation was to terminate the English language influence in Sri Lanka.

Due to the British language policy, the English language had occupied a superior place in pre-independence Sri
Lanka. Minorities in Sri Lanka particularly ethnic Tamils and Christians enjoyed better opportunities due to the British way of implementation, and ordinary Sinhala-Buddhists’ hesitation to adopt English as their medium of instruction/communication.

The bill was passed on the same day with the main opposition UNP voting with the government
and opposed by the Tamil parties (FP and ACTC) and leftist parties (LSSP and CP).

The Tamils were riled because their language was not given the same official language status as Sinhala, and they actively tendered their support to the FP’s nonviolence campaigns. The Sinhalese political leaders’ decision to introduce the Sinhala-

Only Act not only promoted religio-ethno-linguistic nationalism, on both sides of the ethnic divide, but became a source of radical Tamil nationalism in the 1980s.

The 1956 election, which successfully mobilized the extremist Sinhala-Buddhists, radically changed the shape of the island’s politics for years to come: the major Sinhala parties, including the left parties

32

switched to religio-ethnic symbolic politics sandwiching religious emotions and ethnic hostile politics as a way to garner popular Sinhalese support.

33

The LSSP, the major left party, is a case in point. The party which used to claim that it fights for the oppressed marginalized segments of the society demanded that the state provides special assurance to the Sinhalese people so that a national unity can be forged.

34

Notably, since then the UNP has changed its secular policies and rhetoric to balance the Sinhala nationalists. The UNP’s support of the MEP’s Sinhala-Only Act of 1956, its violent opposition to the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam pact of 1957 (described later),

35

enthusiastic involvement in the anti-Tamil campaign in March 1960 and after the 1977 general elections, and its abrogation of the power-sharing pact with the FP leader Selvanayagam in 1965,

36

otherwise known as the Dudley-Selva Pact, to allay the Sinhalese opposition, were a few demonstrations of the UNP’s radical changes in adopting anti-Tamil outbidding strategies to challenge the SLFP and left parties, in order to seek Sinhalese votes.

The election victory of Bandaranaike strengthened the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists, and encouraged Buddhist monks to play a more active role in state affairs and activities directed towards the Sinhala-Buddhist interests. These forces continued to lobby government to make Buddhism the national religion, and opposed political
concessions to the Tamils.

Bandaranaike, in the meantime, attempted to seek some political compromise with the FP to reduce Tamil fears. He took the constructive step of signing an agreement with Chelvanayakam, the FP leader on 26 July 1957, known as the Bandaranaike- Chelvanayakam Pact (B-C Pact).

37

The Sinhala political opposition led by J. R. Jayawardene, the opposition leader (later President of Sri Lanka) mobilized Sinhala- Buddhist forces against the pact. Jayawardene called on Sinhala-Buddhists to fight to
safeguard their religion and language and promised that he would lead the campaign to this effect.

Bandarnayake was aware of legal constraints in making Buddhism the state
religion.

38

His efforts to seek a political compromise with the Tamils and his inability to make Buddhism the state religion frustrated the Sinhala extremists who had tirelessly worked for the election victory of Bandaranayake. All this effectively contributed to his assassination, on September 26, 1959, by a Buddhist Bhikku.

39

In identity politics, politicians disproportionately use symbols because they win votes. Such use of symbols can polarize the society when moderate political forces use symbols of a particular group to refuse political and social equality to the ethnic others.

Marginalized groups seek justice through their moderate politicians. When dominant forces deny justice, given the fact that they were being filled with hatred by the politicians of the majority people, it is likely extremists would dominated the politics of the marginalized, and oftentimes extremists would lead a campaign for partition when
they have a clear territorial control.

Sri Lanka’s post-1956 elections and social transformations effectively prove the theoretical rational. The scholars on Buddhism and politics in Sri Lanka suggest the different reasons to understand the growth.

40
The politicization of Buddhism by politicians one of the major contributing factors for the rapid growth of Buddhist
extremism.

In 1966, the opposition parties, including the left opposed political autonomy to the Tamils. Donald Horowitz explains the Sinhalese behaviors:

“Most important were UNP electoral concerns. Following the 1965 elections, the SLFP had moved back to an anti-Tamil line, portraying the UNP as a party manipulated by the federalists. The district council issue provided a focus for such attacks, spurred by Buddhist monks. Some UNP backbenchers, fearful of the consequences-for the government would have to go to the polls by 1970-were on the verge of revolt. In the end, the UNP leadership withdrew the bill… the party had not yet faced an election with the Federal Party millstone around its neck and did not know how much it weighed.”

41

The general elections in 1970 brought the pressured the SLFP to form an alliance with the leftists. The alliance also promised to replace the British introduced Constitution, with its article 29(2) which sought to protect the rights of minorities to outbid the UNP.

42

The SLFP allies who fought on the symbolic pro-Sinhala agenda recorded a massive win:

the SLFP won 91 out of 108 seats, while its key allies the LSSP and the CP won19 and 6 seats respectively. The UNP only secured 17 seats out of 130 it contested. And the Tamil moderate party the FP which contested in the Tamil dominated Northeast on Tamil autonomy and security won 13 out of 19 seats where it fielded candidates.

43

The new government took some drastic measures to consolidate its power by formulating pro-Sinhala policies. A leading Trotskyite, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva was appointed as a Minister of Constitutional Affairs and granted authority to design a new Constitution. Dr. de Silva who voiced equality and justice for all the Sri Lankans “compromised his Trotskyite principles” to consolidate his party among the Sinhalese
masses.

44

Thus, he framed a constitution that included articles entrenching state patronage for Buddhism, which re-affirmed the pre-eminence of the Sinhalese language in all aspects of public life and anti-Tamil education policies. Notably, the new constitution removed the formal safeguards for minorities that had been incorporated into the British Soulbury Constitution under article 29(2). Chapter II of the 1972 Constitution read as follows:

“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism while assuring to all religions the right guaranteed by section 18 (1) (d).”

The UNP did not oppose the constitution. The major reason is that it did not want to annoy any Sinhalese by opposing anti-Tamil laws/policies As Schwarz observed, obviously provoked alienation among the non-Sinhala-Buddhists, particularly the Tamil youths whose chances to gain admission to the universities were marginalized due to the ethnic standardization policy, which was now characterized by the government as
positive discrimination.

45

The Tamil nationalist opinions described the First Republican Constitution of 1972, which helped institutionalized the Buddhism, as a “charter of Sinhalese Buddhist supremacy.”

46

The SLFP led alliance deep desire to Sinhalacize the island provided a sense of identity triumph to the Sinhalese over the Tamil nation, and thus pushed the Sinhala masses to demand more from the government to help their material needs.

However, the government that stimulated the Sinhalese symbols did not succeed to fill their materials needs. The country had to face severe economic difficulties due wrong economic policies and economic management.

During this period, the LTTE emerged as the major Tamil polity entity. The successive governments’ failure to negotiate with the Tamil moderates to offer irrevocable political autonomy, the decisive political will to politicize the state and its institutions with Buddhism and Sinhala interest through constitutional provisions, were
some of the key factors that gave birth to the LTTE, which adopted violence, to seek a
separate state.

47

On May 5, 1976 Vellupillai Prabakaran formed the LTTE.

The Sinhala politicians’ use of Sinhala symbols contributed to the growth of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the rapid politicization of the Tamil nation and the Tamil struggle to win a separate state strappingly encouraged the Sinhala politicians to increase the influence of Sinhala-Buddhist extremism. The growth of the
Tamil nationalism as a reaction to the Sinhala Symbolism brought Bhikkhus disproportionate involvement in the island’s politics.

By 2004, the island of Sri Lanka witnessed vigorous Bhikku politics to win power.

The JHU, monks only party, formed in February 2004, provided political vehicle to mobilize the Sinhala masses. In April 2004 general elections, the JHU won 6 seats out of 225 seats of national legislature. What election results suggest is that the JHU’s systematic pro-war, anti-Tamil and anti-political solution campaign had attracted the
section of (hard-line) Sinhalese. The JHU’s campaign against the political accommodation aimed at sharing power with the Tamil nation cunningly connected the West with the Sri Lanka’s pathetic condition and opposed all form of political involvement with the LTTE. In other words, the JHU, monk-only party, shun nonviolence.

Sri Lanka scholars on religion and politics provide different explanations to understand the JHU’s sudden growth. This study argues that the growing popularity of the LTTE among the Tamils, the South India’s interests in the island’s politics as well as the West’s demand for a political solution to the Tamil question and to negotiate with the
Tamil nationalists progressively pushed the Bhikkus to provide politico-spiritual leadership to the Sinhalese.

On July 21, 2004, the JHU submitted Anti-conversion bill to Parliament. The legislation has raised profound concerns especially among Christians, a small minority of the population. The JHU believed that the bill was consistent with the Constitution which guarantees Buddhism the foremost place and requires the State to protect and foster Buddhism.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has assured the President and the Speaker of the House that the bill entitled “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act” published in the Gazette of 28 May 2004 does not contravene the Constitution.

48

A casual reading of Sri Lankan history suggests that the movement for anticonversion is the application to the religious sphere of the provocative “Sinhala-only” policy that helped precipitate the country’s violent ethnic conflict and civil war.

Understood simply analytically and historically, anti-conversion was a step towards a “Buddhism-only” policy that has the potential to provoke a level of religious conflict akin to the ethnic conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils.

The JHU openly supported the war against the LTTE and recruited Sinhala youth to join the Army to fight against the LTTE. On May 17, 2009 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (LTTE), the major Tamil resistant movement, admitted defeat in the war that was waged without any witness and vowed to silence guns against the Sinhala- Buddhist state. In May 18, Sri Lanka security forces announced that the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed by “Sri Lanka’s military in a firefight that signaled the effective end to one of Asia’s longest-running military conflicts.”

49

Human right groups expressed deep concerns about the use of heavy weapons against the Tamil civilians. Human Right Watch in its report on Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE pointed that “the Sri Lankan armed forces have indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, including hospitals, in violation of the laws of war.”

50

Evidence gathered by the Times newspaper has revealed that at least 20,000 Tamil people were
killed on the Mullaitivu beach by Sri Lanka Army shelling.

51

The Presidential Elections in 2010

Sri Lanka’s Sixth Presidential elections held in January, 2010 provided a means to reinforce the past tradition that linked the state with symbols. Politicization of Buddhism and war victory against the LTTE were the key agendas of the ruling UPFA in a bid to outmaneuver its opponents.

There were 22 candidates in the field. However, the major competitors of the elections are incumbent Rajapaksa who came to power on November 17, 2005 on an antipeaceand anti-Tamil agenda and Fonseka who was carefully recruited to the Sri Lanka’sArmy by the ruling Sinhala political establishment led by Rajapaksa to defeat the violent form of the Tamil resistance movement, led by the LTTE.

Moreover, Rajapaksa represents the UPFA, the combine political vehicle of Sinhala extremists and the traditional Marxist parties as well as some minority parties while Fonseka portrays himself as a common candidate and contests the elections, using the swan symbol. The major opposition parties, including the UNP and the JVP endorse
the candidacy of Fonseka. Also, Fonseka won the endorsements of the major parties, representing the minorities such as the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Most importantly, Rajapaksa was able to secure support of the JHU, the party that strongly supports the Sinhalization of the island, and want the unitary character of the Sri Lankan state to be preserved. The JHU significantly contributed to the victory of Rajapaksa in 2005.

For Rajapaksa, the major problem of the island is the LTTE, which successfully challenged state terrorism since 1983. Rajapaksa successfully capitalized the war victory to secure a second term to further fill his family and friends’ interests in the name of narrow Sinhala patriotism and nation building.

Both Rajapaksa and Fonseka were able to win the support of the minority political establishment. But the election polices and promises of these candidates did not recognize the special problems of the Muslims, existence of the ethnic conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, or for that matter the Tamil national question.

Mr. Fonseka, for example, wants the people of Sri Lanka to believe him as an agent for change. Also, he is assertively trying to represent himself as a human face of Sinhala compassionism. It was reported in the media that Mr. Fonseka strongly believes that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese. According to an interview in Canada’s National Post newspaper in 2008, Mr. Fonseka said that “We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country…We are also a strong nation … They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things…In any democratic country the majority should rule the country. This country will be ruled by the Sinhalese community which is the majority representing 74% of the population.”

52

Incumbent President Rajapakse defeated Mr. Fonseka by polling 6,015,934 votes (57.88%). The latter was only able to win 4,173,185 or 40.15% of the votes.

53

Mr. Rajapakse who carefully employed Sinhala-Buddhist slogans and war victory over the LTTE attracted massive sympathies from Sinhalese voters, members of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority. Mr. Rajapakshe in his native Hambantota district “got 67% of the vote. His triumph also extended to coastal areas, where General Fonseka, a member of the Sinhalese fisher caste, had been expected to do well. In the general’s home town of Ambalangoda Mr. Rajapaksa won with 63%. He also won in several strongholds of the parties that backed his rival. In the southern towns of Galle and Matara, turf of the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Mr Rajapaksa got 64% of the vote."

54

On the hand, Mr. Fonseka won 76% of the vote.

In other words, Mr. Fonseka won the majority of the Tamil and Muslim votes. In Jaffna, for example, the crumbling northern capital of Sri Lankan Tamils, who are 12% of the island’s 20m people, he won 64%.

55

What the 2010 president election results suggest is that the country is deeply divided along ethnic lines, and the minorities particularly the Tamil nation has less trust in the state and its institutions.

The country has entered into a new phase. A new (the post war) phase would not anyway promise peace in Sri Lanka nor would it take the island into a post-conflict period. Sri Lanka, in the context of this study, poses some questions; will the demise of the LTTE lead to the erosion of the rights of the non-Sinhala Buddhists in the island of
Sri Lanka? Will the collapse of violent resistant by the LTTE further strengthen the hands of the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists who aspire to build Sinhalese only Sri Lanka? Or will it further alienate the minorities of Sri Lanka?

There are no hypothetical answers for these questions, but Sri Lanka’s past behaviors and attitudes do not offer any optimistic answers to ease the concerns often share by the ethnic and religious minorities. The point is that the commitments from the UPFA leaders, both Kumaratunga and Rajapakshe, to Buddhism and safeguard the interests of the Sinhala-Buddhists increasingly generate sense of deep anxieties and fears among the minorities, particularly the Christians and Hindus. It also suggests that Buddhism will continue to play a determined role in Sri Lanka’s polity, and that Sinhala political elites, regardless of their attachments to various ideologies, will employ Buddhism to win public office and to outbid their opponents in elections

This study argues that symbols are powerful, and they often motivate voters against the ethnic others when they are being politicized. In electoral politics, as argued above, symbols of groups become critically important due to its appeal to the nature of electoral politics, which requires votes for its survival. Political choices of masses not always associated with rational choices, and symbols often influence their choices.

In Sri Lanka, elections are heavily symbolized. Sri Lanka experiences prove that the symbols win votes and thus politicians continuously use them to win and consolidate power.

But what is equally true is that the use of symbols or politicization of symbols of a particular group gradually increases the sense of insecurity among the ethnic others who became clear victim of politicization of symbols. In Sri Lanka, the Tamils, who became a clear victim of politicization of symbols that paved the way for the introduction of the deadly anti-Tamil policies such as the Sinhala-only language and ethnic education standardization as well as state supported anti-Tamil ethnic pogroms, feel that they were being marginalized by the Sinhala politicians to please the Sinhalese, and they will not win justice from the Sinhala polity.

Conversely, the Sinhala symbolism and nationalism pressed the Tamils to adopt their own form of symbolism as a defensive strategy to counter the threats of the Sinhala symbolism. Moreover, the Tamils’ distrust in the fair
deliver of state and its institutions persuaded some to embrace violence to exercise their self-determination to build the separate state in the corner of the North and Eastern.

Sri Lanka experiences also prove that the use of symbolism for electoral politics in deeply divided societies would hurt the progress of the country. The island of Sri Lanka could have emerged as a model for successful democracy and economic growth if there was ethnic harmony and unity among the masses. But such progressive end was not gained mainly due to Sinhala elites’ misuse of primordial symbols for electoral gains.

Democracy is a beautiful political practice, but it can trigger deadly ethnic conflict and instability when politicians resort to deadly symbols to win power in vibrant democracy in deeply divided ethnic societies. The Sinhala political establishment needs to understand this basic truth. The form of violent Tamil ethnic nationalism, led by the
LTTE, was inhumanely crushed, and threats by the LTTE had been marginalized. The questions now are, will Sri Lanka win peace? Is ethnic reconciliation possible?

The global actors, including the West assumed that the regime led by Rajapakshe would deliver peace.

But it is plain fact that the regime in Colombo is not at any rate interested in building peace, and in fact, it is difficult for the regime to commence genuine peace when the Sinhala political elites had used the symbols in its war against
the Tamils. The political elite may think it can retract its symbolic promises once in power. However, Sri Lanka’s past experiences suggests that politicians find it next to impossible to backtrack on their divisive promises. And the same problem befalls their successors.

Despite the fact that Sri Lanka is practicing illiberal democracy, it still maintains some form of (unhealthy) relations with the democratic institutions. This may be a positive and can be used to build viable mechanisms for power-sharing democracy as an effective means to seek ethnic reconciliations between the different ethnic groups.
If there is a resistance to offer power sharing, the other option is partition.

Partition may not terminate tensions and violence, but it can eventually calm the fears and concerns of conflicting groups and provide them much needed security in the near future. “Experiences of Pakistan from India, Eritrea from Ethiopia, Bangladesh from West Pakistan, and Greeks from Turks on Cyprus all show that partition can be helpful, even if it is less that completely successful in terminating violence.”

56

Moreover, the recent experiences of Kosovo and the possible partition (in 2011) for the Christians in the South Sudan further validate the case for partition when ethnic nations refuse to live together.

It is a plain fact that the global actors energetically assisted the government of Sri Lanka in its war which killed many thousands of Tamil people “than previously estimated and targeted hospitals and humanitarian operations as part of their final onslaught on the rebel Tamil Tigers” in the so-called “No-Fire Zone” due to government fire.

57

Tamils expect the same global forces should apply their leverage on the government of Sri Lanka to initiate ethnic reconciliation. The starter may be the call for the establishment of war crimes allegedly committed by the warring parties, both the LTTE and the security forces. Special attention should be made on the war crimes of the security forces for two reasons (a) the LTTE silenced its guns and its leaders either brutally killed or security forces detained them undisclosed military location. Hence, war crime charges against them would not any logical sense, but charges still can be made against them as well for their role to kill fleeing Tamils and (b) Sri Lanka security and war establishment is unbroken, and serious accusation related war crimes against the Tamils by the security forces are well documented.

For example, International Crisis Group documents the mass murders of the Tamil civilians. It explains that the security forces killed “tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly …countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.”

58

All this qualifies the ruling Sinhala political establishment to face the UN (appointed war tribunal). Further, it is the responsibility of the global actors to devote serious efforts to bring those (particularly the members of the Sinhala political and military establishment) who committed war crimes against the innocent civilians
from 1983, and to urge the Sinhala politicians to freeze their deadly symbols to secure electoral victory.

It is not clear to what extent the developments of the past can help resolve the basic issue at stake: whether, federalism or partition–as repeatedly asked by the Tamil nationalists, Sinhala political elites would not seek beyond the failed 13th amendment.

Then again, one would have to be a considerable optimist to believe that the global pressure will compel Sinhala ruling hard-line elites to change direction toward the Tamil question.

1
List of political parties in Sri Lanka,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Sri_Lanka, accessed on April 6,
2010.

2. Neil DeVotta,
Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for
Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka.
(Washington, DC: East West Center.
2007), 24-27.

3. “The JVP intensifies its campaign against Sri Lankan peace talks,”
www.wsws.org/articles/2004/aug2004/jvp-a31.shtml ( 12 January 2008).

4. Department of Elections, Sri Lanka,
www.slelections.gov.lk/genaral/2004_results/general.html (4 March 2008).

5 Wimal : notable absentee,
(8 June
2009)

6 JNP 'alternative' to main parties,

(8 June 2009)

7 Ibid.

8. Emily Wax, “As Fighting Flares in Civil War, Key Buddhist Shuns Nonviolence,”

The Washington Post Online, www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/03/25/AR2008032502695.html?hpid=topnews

(19 June 2008).

9. Ibid.

10. Timothy Samuel Shah and A.R.M. Imtiyaz, “A Brief on Sri Lanka’s Proposed Anti-Conversion Legislation: Information, Observations, and Analysis,”
www.lankaliberty.com/reports/Anti-ConversionLegislationBrief.doc.

11. Sarah Page, “Buddhist Mobs Attack Five Churches in Sri Lanka: Aggression Designed to Force Passage of Anti Conversion Laws,” Human Rights Without Frontiers Int, www.hrwf.net/html/sril_lanka_2003.html (7 August 2003).


12. “Sri Lanka 'withdraws' from CFA,”
BBC Online, www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2008/01/080102_cfa_government.shtml (19 June
2008). A. R.M. Imtiyaz, “Theoretical understanding of the death of truce,”
The Sunday Times (34) (20 January 2008) /www.sundaytimes.lk/080120/News/news00020.html.

13. Robert N. Kearney, “The Political Party System in Sri Lanka,”
Political Science Quarterly, 98(1) (Spring 1983): 17-33.

14. Tessa J. Bartholomeusz and Chandra R. de Silva, "Buddhist Fundamentalism and Identity in Sri Lanka," in
Buddhist Fundamentalism and Minority Identities in Sri Lanka, eds Tessa J. Bartholomeusz and Chandra R. de Silva. (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. 1998),1-35.

15. Josine van der Horst, ‘Who is He, What is He Doing’: Religious Rhetoric and Performances in Sri Lanka during R. Preadasa’s Presidency-1989-1993. (Amsterdam:
VU University Press. 1995),1-16.

16. Tessa J. Bartholomeusz and Chandra R. de Silva, Op.Cit,1-35.

17. The ethnic composition of the east has undergone transformation both as a result of natural factors and as a result of the conflict. The long civil war has created many Internally Displaced Persons. There are also a considerable number of both Tamils and Muslims who have migrated. The stated percentage as it is today going by the recent survey done by the Department of Census and Statistics makes the Muslims a majority in the Eastern region, the former stronghold of the Tamil Tigers where elections were held on May 10, 2008 to legitimize the provincial council system.

18. A. Shastri, “Estate Tamils, the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 and Sri Lankan
politics,” Contemporary South Asia, (8)1 (1999): 65-86.


19. Sri Lankan Tamils who dominate the island in the North and east consider they area nation of people due to their symbolic identities and do not identify with the Indian Tamils who were brought to the island in the 19th century as an economic class. See Elizabeth Nissan and R.L Stirrat, “The generation of communal identities,” in
Sri Lanka: History and the roots of Conflict, ed Jonathan Spencer. (London: Routledge.
1990), 38.

20 Mohan Ram, Sri Lanka: The Fractured Island. (New Delhi: Penguin Books.1989).

21. V. Navaratnam, The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation. (Madras: Kaanthalakam. 1991),

22. To prevent discriminatory laws being enacted, the British provided a safeguard prohibiting the enactment of any law which would make persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions were not made liable, or confer advantages or privileges on persons of any community or religion which were not conferred on persons of any communities or religions.

This provision, which became Section 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution (1947), proved to be totally ineffectual in preventing either individual discrimination or outright deprivation of existing collective rights of franchise, citizenship, language, etc.

23. Bruce Fein, “International Law, Human Rights will salute Tamil Statehood”, TamilNet, www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=25709 (19 June 2008).

24. Sri Lanka witnessed several Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist organizations in the early twentieth century. Among the most important of these was an organization of lay

27 Buddhists-the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, whose goal was totally dedicated to promote, protect and foster the interests of the Buddhists.

25. K.M. De Silva, “Religion and the State,” in Sri Lanka: Problems of Governance, ed K.M. De Silva. (New Delhi: Center for Policy Research. 1993), 316.

26. Donald E. Smith, “The Sinhalese Buddhist Revolution,” in South Asian Politics and Religion, ed Donald E. Smith. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1966), 456-57.

27. Laksiri Jayasuriya, The Changing Face of Electoral Politics in Sri Lanka: 1994-2004. (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International. 2005), 11.

28. The highest Buddhist order.

29. S.J Tambiah,
Buddhism Betrayed?: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka. (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press. 1992), 42-44.

30. S.J. Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed, 44.

31. Statistics of Elections from 1947 to 1977,
http://archive.srilankanelections.com/elections4777/1956.html (16 June 2008).

32. The left parties realized that their pro-minority policies would alienate them from the majority Sinhalese, who are demographically and electorally superior. And the LSSP at its annual conference in June 1964 accepted “Sinhala-Only” and joined the SLFP and other Sinhala chauvinistic groups’ demonstration to protest the Dudley-Selva pact of 1965, a power-sharing accord signed by the then Premier Dudley Senanayake of the UNP and Tamil leader Selvanayakam of the FP.

33. Kumari Jayewardene, Ethnic and Class Conflicts in Sri Lanka: Some Aspects of Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness over the past 100 years. (Colombo, Dehiwala.: Center
for Social Analysis. 1985), 74-79.

34. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, The Break-up of Sri Lanka: The Sinhalese-Tamil
Conflict (London: Hurst. 1988), 39.

35. The pact could have resolved the ethnic conflict in a way acceptable to both the Tamils and the Sinhalese. The pact paved the way for the wide-ranging decentralization of administration and devolution of powers to the Tamil areas of the North and East. This pact sought that Tamil Northern Province would constitute a single regional authority, while the predominantly Tamil but demographically more complex eastern province would be divided into two or more such units.

However, all these units would be free to amalgamate, if they so desired. Moreover, it was agreed that Parliament would devolve all powers to the regional bodies on the following subjects-agriculture,
cooperatives, lands and land development, colonization, education, health, industries, fisheries, housing and social services, electricity, irrigation schemes and roads. Most important of all, the pact stipulated that Tamil should be used as the official language for all administrative work in the northern and eastern provinces.

36. The new pact proposed a moderate degree of devolution of power through the mechanism of district councils in the Tamil areas. It also underscored in the granting of land under colonization schemes, the following priorities to be observed in the northern and eastern provinces: (a) Land in the two provinces to be granted in the first instance to landless persons in the district concerned; (b) Secondly, to Tamil-speaking persons resident in the northern and eastern provinces; and (c) thirdly, to other citizens of Sri Lanka, preference being given to Tamil residents in the rest of the island

37. The pact opened the way for a wide-ranging decentralization of administration and devolution of powers to the Tamil areas of the north and east. It proposed that a Tamil Northern Province would constitute a single regional authority, while the predominantly Tamil but demographically more complex Eastern province would be divided into two or more such units. However, all these units would be free to amalgamate, if they so desired. Moreover, it was agreed that Parliament would devolve all powers to the regional bodies on the following subjects - agriculture,
cooperatives, lands and land development, colonization, education, health, industries, fisheries, housing and social services, electricity, irrigation schemes and roads.

38. Section 29 (2) (c) of the Soulbury constitution explicitly states that no law enacted by Parliament shall… confer on persons of any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions.

39. Mapitigama Buddharakkita was the key figure behind the assassination of Bandaranayeke who played the leading role in mobilizing the Bhikkhu against the UNP. However, the actual killing was carried out by another Bhikkhu.

40 See, S.J Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed?: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri
Lanka, Op.Cit and J. Bartholomeusz and Chandra R. de Silva, Op.Cit,1-35.

41. Donald I Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict. (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1985), 390. 30

42. To prevent discriminatory laws being enacted, the British provided a safeguard prohibiting the enactment of any law which would make persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions were not made liable, or confer advantages or privileges on persons of any community or religion which were not conferred on persons of any communities or religions. This provision, which became Section 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution (1947), proved to be totally ineffectual in preventing either individual discrimination or outright deprivation of existing collective rights of franchise, citizenship, language, etc.

43. Statistics of Elections from 1947 to 1977,
http://archive.srilankanelections.com/elections4777/1970.html (25 January 2008).

44. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, Op.Cit., 87.

45. Tigers celebrate Heroes Day to Butress myth of “a Tamil Homeland”
<
http://www.slembassyusa.org/features/2007/tigers_celebrate_26nov07.html> (10 June,
2009)

46. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, Op.Cit, 88.

47. Ibid,115.

48. Timothy Samuel Shah and A.R.M. Imtiyaz, Op.Cit.

49 Emily Wax, Death of Rebel Leader Marks ‘End of an Era’ in Sri Lanka
html?nav=emailpage > ( 21 May 2009)

50 Sri Lanka: Satellite Images, Witnesses Show Shelling Continues
continues> (15 May 2009.)

51 Slaughter in Sri Lanaka (6 June,
2009)

53 Department of Elections,
http://www.slelections.gov.lk/presidential2010/province.html, accessed on April 5, 2010.

54 Victory for the Tiger-slayer
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15393468&fsrc=nwl
, accessed on April 5, 2010.

55 Department of Elections, Op.Cit, 2010

56 A.R.M. Imtiyaz and Ben Stavis, “Ethno-Political Conflict in Sri Lanka.” Journal of
Third World Studies, Vol 25, No.2, fall 2008, pp.135-152.

57 War Crimes in Sri Lanka, http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/srilanka/
191-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka.aspx
, accessed on May 19, 2010.

58 Ibid.

(The article appeared in the IUP Journal of International Relations, Vol IV, No. 3,July 2010. The issue of the journal in which it appears online, http://www.iupindia.in/International_Relations.asp ]

Dr. A.R.M. Imtiyaz, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Temple University, USA. He can be reached
at imtiyaz@temple.edu)

Protect Wilpattu Park and The Right of Movement of Expelled Northern Muslims

We, the undersigned organizations call on the Government to take immediate action to prevent the destruction of the Wilpattu National Park, while continuing to provide access through the road from Puttalama to Mannar via the park.

We believe that through taking corrective measures the Government can ensure that both issues are addressed in order to protect the rights of the expelled Northern Muslims and the natural heritage of the area.

We call upon the Government to ensure that steps are taken to maintain an access way through the park as it is vital for civilians in the area, especially the Northern Muslim population in the area who were forcibly expelled by the LTTE in 1990. The road which was a unpaved track used by civilians in the past, is proving crucial for the return of Northern Muslims, the majority of whom were displaced in Puttalam for over twenty years.

The expulsion was a painful process where the entire population was instructed to leave the area by the LTTE with only Rs 200 and they are now attempting to return and rebuild. This road provides easy access from Puttalam to Mussali in Southern Mannar as the alternate route which goes via Medawachchiya takes double the time. On humanitarian groups we are appealing to the Government and the Wildlife Authorities to allow for reasonable usage of this road. We are not asking for a new highway to be built through the park.

We are greatly disturbed by reports in the media that the Wilpattu Park is being destroyed as a result of illegal felling, mining and the construction of new roads through the park. Wilpattu Park is a unique habitat for both fauna and flora, and needs to be protected. As people of the area we recognize its value. We call on the Government to take steps to ensure the further destruction of the park is immediately stopped.

We feel that a balance has to be and can be found between the demands of the people of the area and nature through preventing actions that damage the park while providing reasonable access through one road through the park. Access roads through national parks are not unusual either in Sri Lanka or internationally and we fully recognize that measures will have to be taken to ensure that the wildlife and the forest are not impacted negatively by the movement of civilians.

After twenty years of displacement and living in suffering in welfare camps in Puttalam the Northern Muslims Community now have the opportunity to return. Access through this road will be one critical step to support this process.

Dated: July 27th 2010

Signatories:

Citizens’ Committee for Musali Muslims
Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy
Musali Graduate Association
Musali People’s Parliament
Musali Teachers’ Association
Order – Sri Lanka
Secretariat for Evicted Muslims
Trustees of Moor Street Grand Mosque, Mannar

July 27, 2010

Citizens of this country must apply increasing pressure on the government and opposition

by Dr. A. C. Visvalingam
President CIMOGG

The Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) is gratified by the recent decision of the Government not to press on with unilateral constitutional changes. Equally heartening was the subsequent meeting that President Rajapakse and some of his Ministers had with senior UNP Parliamentarians to work out a modus operandi for discussing proposals on the form and content of a new Constitution.

Whilst this is a good beginning, it needs to be appreciated that there is a profusion of stakeholders, besides politicians, with an even greater interest in seeing to it that a new Constitution will be clearer, fairer, more comprehensive, and with fewer loopholes than the present one. All concerned sections of society must, therefore, be brought into the process of creating a Constitution that would not have to be re-written whenever there is a change of the party in power, however distant the prospect may appear to be at present.

That politicians working on their own are not to be relied upon to frame or amend the Supreme Law of the Land in a competent way is proven by the shortsightedness exhibited in the wording of some of the provisions of the 17th Amendment and the shameless excuses given therefor, considering that, in 2001, Parliament passed this amendment virtually unanimously. Those who have studied this subject know that there are flaws and "flaws" in the 17th Amendment.

The genuine flaws, which over 200 of our MPs, including the current President, when he was in Parliament, failed to identify are those which have subsequently permitted the Executive and almost the entire Parliamentary establishment to violate or help violate the Constitution with impunity.

The "flaws", on the other hand, are those which the incumbent President refers to when he states, for example, that he should be free to make unchallenged appointments of his choice down to even junior levels in the Public Service and the Police force. In the furtherance of this objective, the 17th Amendment has been made non-functional and the Executive now does just as it pleases without any democratic checks or balances.

The argument put forward to justify this retrograde step is that the Chief Executive Officer of any organisation (in this case, the President of the State) should be able to pick and choose his team from among those he knows and trusts, if he is expected to fulfill effectively the tasks he has to undertake. Though there is a modicum of rationality in this argument, a little reflection will show that the analogy is not a safe one.

In the words of a former Secretary-General of Parliament: "Under this Constitution, the President is the Head of State, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the head of Cabinet. He can prorogue and dissolve Parliament at will any time after one year of its election. He can appoint any number of Ministers into his Cabinet from among the Members of Parliament.

He appoints the Governors of Provinces, the Judges of the Superior Courts, the Commissioner of Elections, the Auditor-General, the Attorney-General, the Secretary-General of Parliament and a host of other officers who hold the most vital positions in Government. The President thus has an iron grip over the Public Service including the Elections Department and the Police. This enables him to enjoy an unfair advantage when he himself is a candidate at an election. These powers assume a dictatorial character when taken in combination with the blanket immunity he enjoys from judicial process (Article 35) and the near impossible procedure for impeachment prescribed by Article 38 of the Constitution."

Having been bitten more than once before, the public must not remain apathetic whilst the Executive President’s powers are sought to be foolishly or surreptitiously transferred to the proposed "Executive Prime Minister".

The Executive is expected to set out its proposals for the socio-economic development of the Country but it is the People’s Representatives in Parliament who have been elected by the People to fine tune the priorities and allocate funds in a responsible manner. It is Parliament which has to satisfy itself that the Executive is not acting recklessly, unprofessionally or corruptly.

It needs to control the disbursing of funds and accounting for them, and must satisfy itself that the Executive adopts merit as the criterion in the selection of persons and organisations to carry out the multifarious functions associated with administering the resources and assets of the State. It is obliged to prevent the CEO of the Country (whether Executive President or Prime Minister) from appointing persons with poor credentials to important posts, either unwittingly or deliberately.

To take just one recent example, would any reasonable person accept that the individuals who were empowered to form and run Mihin Air were competent to do so? What were the credentials of those who advised the President to create this hugely loss-making airline, in the first place? Obviously, there is a specific necessity for Parliament to protect the People’s interests by seeing to it that the Executive acts prudently and in good faith.

Mihin Air is just one case. If, as CIMOGG consistently maintains, there had been a proper separation of powers between the Executive and Parliament, it would have been quite easy to stop the majority of ill-considered and wasteful projects at conception itself. Even in the case of projects and programmes approved by Parliament, it is entitled and duty-bound to have screening systems to weed out misfits, incompetents and those with a murky past from becoming part of the Executive.

We reiterate that what is required is as complete a separation of powers as can be practically achieved - similar to the provisions in the United States - where the Legislature monitors intensively the functioning of the Executive and controls the Nation’s purse strings and safeguards the People’s fundamental rights.

Taking a cue from the US example, Parliament, not being subservient to the Executive in the new dispensation that CIMOGG recommends, would be able to ensure that all nominees for high posts are subjected to thorough grilling by its relevant specialist committees (and those of the Senate, if there is to be one) or by some other institution on the lines of the presently non-functioning Constitutional Council.

All important initiatives by the Executive should necessarily be examined by Parliament and the People from the earliest stages to make sure that they fit in with tight fiscal control, human rights practices and good governance requirements in general.

For a proper separation of powers, no Member of Parliament or the Judiciary should be a member of the Executive. The fiction of Ministers being answerable to Parliament was best illustrated during the periods when the late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle " questions addressed to virtually every other Minister, most of whom kept away from the Chamber in a show of utter contempt for Parliamentary practices and traditions.

One saw recently that the Speaker had to reprimand Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva several times for making a mockery of Question Time in Parliament. This type of preposterous behaviour is encouraged by the fact that members of the Executive remain members of the Legislature at the same time. In the most extreme case, what control would Parliament be able to exercise over an all-powerful Prime Minister who is assured of majority support in the House?

There are those who will argue that the combination of Legislature and the Executive works fairly well in the UK and India, for example, but then they would have to acknowledge that this arrangement functions more or less satisfactorily in these two countries because they have a strong Public Service, in all its aspects. This safeguard is no longer available to Sri Lanka after its independent Public Service was undermined initially by Minister of State J.R.Jayewardene appointing Anandatissa de Alwis as his Permanent Secretary and Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike demolishing the independent Public Service completely in the early 1970s.

Considering the huge number of financial commitments that the State makes, it would be impossible for Parliament to act as an investigational entity that looks into every project. Consequently, it is imperative that members of the public should be encouraged to bring to the notice of their MPs any discrepancies between approved programmes and actual performance.

There is no constructive way in which they could do this unless they have free access to all non-security related information related to every programme and project costing, say, over Rs25 Million. In short, appropriate White Papers and an effective Right to Information Act or a Freedom of Information Act, whichever term is preferred, are indispensable to good governance, and long overdue.

Many well-known political actors and commentators have expressed their concern regarding the dangers inherent in the current Constitution and the ways in which it is being violated. More recently, they have expressed alarm about the vague, but anxiety-inducing, proposed amendments being leaked out from the corridors of power in bits and pieces to assess public reaction.

The citizens of this Country must now take the bull by the horns and apply increasing pressure on both the Government and the Opposition to press for a comprehensive separation of powers and as many independent institutions as may be required to assure the public that there will be much greater accountability than in the past in safeguarding and developing the Nation’s resources and other assets, and giving merit its rightful place in the administration of these resources and assets.

UNP is not sinking due to disunity but because of its leader

by Dayan Jayatilleke

I am not now and have never been a member of either the SLFP or the UNP, though President Premadasa urged me to ‘come in through the National List, take a portfolio and do a job of work’.

The only registered political party (as distinct from political organisation) I have ever been a member (actually an Asst Secretary) of, was the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party. Vijaya had enthusiastically announced to the Central Committee, the collective entry of a few of us from the then-underground ‘Vikalpa Kandayama’, naming me and another comrade.

That would be one of his last Central Committee meetings. After his assassination by the JVP, I joined the party in fulfilment of that expectation. Of course I have supported two strong, courageous ‘patriotic- populist’ Presidents – Premadasa and Rajapaksa – and episodically, two others, JRJ in the post Accord/anti-JVP year ’87-’88 and CBK from the re-election battle of ’99 to her ouster of Ranil (before her tilt against Karuna , her differences with Kadirgamar and her PTOMS lunacy).

Given Ranil’s track record, it is safe to assume that what he tells the President that he will tell the international community, will not be what he says behind closed doors to the international community.

This is not baseless calumny. As Prof Pieris said in his parliamentary speech on External Affairs in the Budget debate, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Report on Sri Lanka, better known as the Kerry-Lugar Report, actually discloses that Ranil Wickremesinghe was one of the few who urged the US to keep the pressure on Colombo.

I have always held Hon Karu Jayasuriya in high esteem and regarded him with considerably warm affection. In 1997, the Lanka Guardian magazine under my editorship ran a cover story on his bid for the Colombo Mayoralty, titled The New Opposition. Since then I have held, on the record that he would be a far superior leader for the UNP and the Opposition than Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Today it is with no joy whatsoever, that I feel constrained to contradict Mr Jayasuriya on the record, albeit with no diminution of my affection.

In a widely circulated article he has urged that the UNP rise to challenge the Government, and attributed its inability to do so, to inner-party dissonance and disunity. In saying this he is wide off the mark.

Firstly, he has failed to identify that factor which is mainly responsible for the UNPs lamentable state.

Secondly he has named a factor which is far more a consequence than a cause.

Thirdly, in identifying the cause of the UNPs travails inaccurately, he is unwittingly prolonging the state of the party that he finds lamentable and is preventing the party from implementing the solution that can enable it to campaign resolutely against the status quo as he so ardently wishes.

The UNP was not disunited when it campaigned at the last General Election. It sank to a lower percentage than the SLFP under Mrs Bandaranaike did at the electoral tsunami of 1977. That was not because of disunity. The UNP did better at the Presidential election under a complete political novice, than it did under its present leader. The UNP did far better under the ‘emergency candidacy’ of Mrs Srima Dissanaike in 1994 than it did under today’s leadership.

The UNP is not sinking because of disunity. It is sinking because of its leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. Over the years, dedicated party veterans such as Rukman Senanayake, NGP Panditharathne, and Daham Wimalasena have put this on the record. (The Panditharathne report followed an extensive grassroots survey).

There is no point in striving to launch an anti-government campaign as Mr Jayasuriya seems to suggest, because the masses aren’t going to be mobilised under his leadership. They aren’t going to vote, much less get their skulls cracked open by Police batons. It took the dramatic changeover to the JR Jayewardene-Premadasa leadership for the UNP to be able to motivate the masses to join any campaign, in the 1970s.

Urging the party members and supporters to make one more effort to fight the government without first giving them an inspiring new leadership and programme is akin to urging someone to fill a perforated bucket with water and bring it to a construction site. What is necessary is to first plug the hole and then attempt to fill it with water. The replacement of Ranil Wickremesinghe as party leader is the conditio sine qua non for any recovery on the part of the UNP.

Instead of lamenting the disunity in the party, Hon Karu Jayasuriya could have saved it from its present fate and placed it on the course he indicates, by taking over its leadership during the rebellions of 1999-2000 and then again in the middle of this decade.

Of course I may be wrong. So why not put it to the test? Unite around ‘The Leader’ Ranil Wickremesinghe; don’t talk of changing the leadership, remain mum in the face of the mass media, and stride bravely forward to contest the Jana Sabha elections scheduled for early 2011, or any other election that comes the country’s way.

If, sadly, I am right, the party will lose at least as badly as it did this time at the parliamentary elections or even worse. If on the other hand, I am wrong, the re-united United National Party will do better than it did earlier this year.

The danger is administering this test is that there are no other elections scheduled until the terms of the president and the recently elected parliament run out. If the UNP doesn’t show a recovery by the Janasabha elections, then what will sustain the hope of the party members and voters for six whole years?

How will the UNP survive?

Without a robust UNP, what will be the shape and direction of the Opposition?

Without a strong democratic Opposition how will democracy itself fare?

July 26, 2010

Sri Lankan government enlists services of former LTTE leader

By Athiyan Silva

Further evidence has emerged in recent weeks of the continuing political disintegration of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was militarily crushed in May 2009 by the Sri Lankan military. Several reports indicate that Selvarasa Pathmanathan, also known as KP, who took over as LTTE leader after the death of V. Prabhakaran, is now actively collaborating with the Sri Lankan government and military intelligence.

Pathmanathan was for many years the LTTE’s main fundraiser and arms procurer. In the final stages of fighting last year, Prabhakaran appointed Pathmanathan as head of the LTTE’s international division, where his main role as to issue a series of futile appeals to the US and other major powers to intervene to stop the fighting. The Sri Lankan army continued its bloody offensive killing tens of thousands of civilians, finally overrunning the last patch of LTTE-held territory and slaughtering its top leadership, including Prabhakaran.

Following the LTTE’s defeat, Pathmanathan claimed the leadership and announced the establishment of a so-called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) in exile. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a Tamil lawyer residing in the US, was appointed by Pathmanathan as the coordinator. Bitter disagreements erupted between other pro-LTTE exile factions, including over control of the disintegrating organisation’s assets. Looking for support from the major powers, Pathmanathan’s group formally abandoned the armed struggle.

Pathmanathan’s plans came to an abrupt end after he was arrested in Malaysia last August, handed over to Sri Lankan military intelligence and sent back to the island. According to articles in the Sri Lankan press in June, the former LTTE leader is now actively working with the government, providing information about the LTTE’s international operations and encouraging his supporters to cooperate with Colombo.

Such reports need to be treated with caution. Pathmanathan is yet to make any public statement of his own. Sri Lankan military intelligence has decades of experience in manipulating various Tamil groups and parties and playing them off against one another. It played a major role in 2004 in fomenting a debilitating breakaway by the LTTE’s eastern wing. Top eastern commanders—V. Muralitharan, also know as Karuna, and Sivanesanthurai Chandrakanthan, or Pillayan, are now active political allies of the Colombo government. The military is also notorious for using duress and torture to achieve their ends.

However, if the press reports are correct, Pathmanathan has been a rather willing collaborator, eager to prove his value to his captors. In his Daily Mirror column on July 11, D.B.S. Jeyaraj noted that Pathmanathan had impressed Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse at their first meeting, which heralded what sources described as “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” between captor and captive. “KP began providing information about the assets and activities of the overseas tigers. The government was able to ‘acquire’ at least three ships belonging to the LTTE thanks to KP.”

The reported relationship between Pathmanathan and Rajapakse is particularly disgusting as the defence secretary, who is President Mahinda Rajapakse’s brother, was the architect of the army’s brutal offensives and responsible for its crimes. Although he has bitterly denied it, there is substantial evidence that Rajapakse personally ordered the killing of unarmed LTTE leaders as they surrendered in May 2009. As LTTE spokesman at the time, Pathmanathan denounced the killings.

The government obviously regards Pathmanathan as an important political asset. In a media interview, Gotabhaya Rajapakse declared that the detainee was providing information to bust the “LTTE international network” and had facilitated a visit to Sri Lanka by a group of nine Tamil exile leaders on June 14-20. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella gloated on June 24 that in the event of an international war crimes investigation “we can make KP as our witness.” Rumours that Pathmanathan might be given a significant political post have been denied by the government—mainly due to opposition criticism that it was pandering to the LTTE leader.

Charles Antonidas, a leader of the Tamil Health Organisation (THO), confirmed in an interview with the BBC that the Tamil delegation to Sri Lanka had been at Pathmanathan’s encouragement. “We were trying to reach out to the government to discuss humanitarian issues but didn’t have any success for a long time. Then suddenly when we had this opportunity we thought of taking it,” Antonidas said. He added that Pathmanathan was now considered a “partner in the reconciliation process” by the government.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer on July 5, Gotabhaya Rajapakse explained: “KP had told them categorically that there was no point in reviving the LTTE's separatist ideology. He also explained to them the steps the government had taken for a sustainable future for Tamils and invited them to work closely with the government for a better future for the Tamils.”

At Pathmanathan’s initiative, and with the government’s approval, a new non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been set up—the North–East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NERDO)—purportedly to help resettle displaced Tamils and reeducate ex-LTTE fighters. The outfit fits in with the Colombo government’s plans to maintain the military occupation of the North and East of the island and to turn it into cheap labour platform for foreign investors.

Other Tamil exile groups have been critical of Pathmanathan alleged close collaboration with the Rajapakse government, which is responsible for the slaughter of Tamil civilians and the incarceration of more than a quarter of a million Tamil civilians in heavily guarded “welfare villages”. Thousands of Tamils continue to be held without trial as “terrorist suspects” in unknown locations.

But in one way or another, all of the former LTTE groups and Tamil parties are seeking alliances with sections of the Colombo political establishment or the major powers. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the LTTE’s former parliamentary mouthpiece, has fractured into rival organisations—some joined the Rajapakse government, while the TNA supported the opposition candidate, ex-general Sarath Fonseka, in presidential elections in January. As army head, Fonseka is directly responsible for the brutal offensives that led to the LTTE’s defeat.

In Febuary, various ex-LTTE organisations came together in London to form the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which claims to be the “authentic voice” of the Tamil diaspora—that is, of the hundreds of thousands of Tamils around the world who have fled Sri Lanka. It met in the British parliament building with the blessing of the then Labour government and was addressed by the foreign secretary, opposition spokesmen and the US assistant secretary of state Robert Blake. US and British involvement has nothing to do with concern about human rights in Sri Lanka, but is aimed at using the issue and the GTF to pressure the Rajapakse government and undercut China’s growing influence in Colombo.

The political trajectory of Pathmanathan and all of these groupings is not an aberration, but the product of the LTTE’s program of bourgeois separatism. The LTTE’s perspective of a separate capitalist state of Tamil Eelam represented the interests of the Tamil elites, not those of the working class and rural masses. The LTTE always sought the support of one of other major or regional power to achieve its goals.

The LTTE’s military defeat was primarily the outcome of its political program. Organically incapable of making any appeal to the working class either in Sri Lanka or internationally, the LTTE leaders issued futile appeals for the intervention of the very powers that supported Rajapakse’s war. In the wake of the military collapse, the various LTTE fragments have sought to find a political home for themselves either in the Colombo establishment or as the pawns of one of the major powers.

Tamil workers and rural poor, however, do not have such an option. Like their Sinhalese and Muslim counterparts, they confront savage attacks on their living standards as the Rajapakse government carries out the demands of the International Monetary Fund for austerity measures. In the North and East, the security forces continue to trample on basic democratic rights.

A fundamental reappraisal is needed that rejects the LTTE’s communalist perspective and turns to a socialist program and the fight for a workers’ and farmers’ government. That is only possible by uniting workers—Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim—regardless of language and ethnicity in the struggle for their common class interests. The Socialist Equality Party is the only organisation that fights for such a perspective—a Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Eelam as part of the Union of Socialist Republics in South Asia and internationally. - courtesy: WSWS.org -

In Pictures: Women Artists’ Colloquium Exhibition 2009/2010: “Omnipresence of the Prick”

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“The strength of a woman can carry the weight of the world”~ Sarah Pezdek-Smith, (1980-), American born Ukranian Artist, Poet and Writer

Women Artists’ Colloquium Exhibition 2009/2010: “Omnipresence of the Prick” was inaugurated at Theertha Red Dot Gallery in Pitakotte on July 24th 2010.

TCT726.JPG

An exhibition of Art Works by 9 women artists will remain open to the public from July 25th 2010 to August 3rd 2010.

Gallery hours-Monday to Wednesday 10.30AM-5.00PM and Sunday 11.00AM-4.30PM.

[click to see & read more]

Black July 1983: Dedicate ourselves not to repeat the mistakes of the past

by National Peace Council

On July 23, 1983 an anti-Tamil pogrom took place in various parts of the country in which innocent Tamil persons, their homes and businesses were attacked and destroyed. This violence, over a period of a week, took place with the participation of sections of the then government in retaliation for the killing of the 13 soldiers who were caught up in a land mine blast. Many innocent Tamils who lived in Colombo and elsewhere faced terrible atrocities. This violence escalated by stages into full scale war.

In the past several years, the week of Black July was acknowledged and commemorated by civil society, and sometimes even by the government. But this year it has received very little attention. The readiness of society to put behind the events of July 1983 would be appropriate if reconciliation in the country after the war were truly taking place. Sadly no reconciliation between the two communities has taken place yet. Reconciliation can take place only by acknowledging the truth and the reality of the past and present.

The need to remember the innocent victims is all the more necessary because so far there has been no progress at all on finding a political solution to the issues that gave rise to Tamil militancy and war, no transparency where it concerns detained LTTE suspects, no transparency in the take over of lands in the North for military purposes, renewed police registration of Tamil persons in Colombo, new restrictions placed on NGO work in the North and inadequate resources for the resettlement of the displaced in the North in their original habitations where most of them earned a living as farmers or fishermen.

Over a year has now passed since the end of that war. During the past year, there have been many beneficial effects of the end of war. Most roads have been reopened and there is free access to nearly all parts of the country to ordinary citizens. Economic life has revived with the return of some agricultural lands and seas to productive activities. Many members of the diaspora have been able to return and visit their relatives or engage in economic activities. However, the failures of the present cannot and must not be glossed over. Reflecting on the failures of the past can be useful in living better in the future.

We all like to forget the unpleasant but it will be difficult for the victims to forget. There have been similar pogroms committed by the LTTE against members of other communities, Sinhalese and Muslim. We should dedicate ourselves not to repeat such actions in the future. The National Peace Council would like to propose a memorial or remembrance service for all innocent victims who suffered and a common day of remembrance for the innocent victims of all communities who suffered death as a result of the ethnic conflict in its various manifestations

TNA MP Sumanthiran writes to President about High Security Zones and military cantonments

17th July 2010

HE Mahinda Rajapakse,
President of the Democratic
Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat,
Colombo 1.

Your Excellency,

High Security Zones and Military Cantonments in the North

I write this on behalf of the Tamil National Alliance as a matter of urgency after reading the statement of Media Minister Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella on the above at the last Cabinet Press Briefing which was given wide publicity in the media yesterday.

You will recall that we raised these issues with you at the talks held at your Secretariat on the 7th of June 2010 .

Your response to the issue of the large extent of lands maintained as High Security Zones for over a decade, mainly in Valikamam and other places was that you had directed the military to immediately identify the extent strictly necessary for military purposes and to release the rest of the land for the people of the area to resettle.

On the issue of Internally Displaced People not being able to return to their land in Thiru Murikandy, Santhapuram, Keppapulavu and Sannar (Vide – pages 12 and 13 of our Report submitted to you), you will recall that Hon. Basil Rajapakse informed us that the delay in resettlement in these areas was only due to roofing sheets not arriving on time. To our query as to how much longer these people should wait, he stated that in a couple of months the ships would arrive and that they would be resettled soon thereafter.

Your Excellency will appreciate that we accepted these responses in good faith and agreed with you to continue to be engaged in these matters with the government, although we had information that some steps had been taken to acquire land (totalling 4,811 acres) in Indupuram, Thiru Murikandy for the purpose of establishing a military cantonment. In this background, the announcement by the Hon. Media Minister after a Cabinet meeting comes as a shock to us and to the people who have been kept away from their original places of dwelling.

We wish to reiterate to Your Excellency that we do appreciate and understand that the government must take steps in keeping with security considerations, but it must also heed the interests and concerns of the people, since the country’s security is nothing more than the security of its people. Katunayake, Ratmalana, Kolonnawa and even the environs of Temple Trees are declared to be High Security Zones. But people are not prevented from residing within those zones. Similarly in the North and East too whatever military installation that is set up can have a surrounding high security zone, without preventing the people from living in their original lands.

Presently though, in view of the contradictory positions taken up by two cabinet Ministers, we think it has become necessary for Your Excellency to clarify the position to the people concerned and alleviate their anxiety in regard to their resettlement in their original places. We trust Your Excellency will also see it fit to assuage the feelings of these people who have been away from their homesteads for over 1½ years now. Such a step will go a long way in the process of reconciliation that Your Excellency is very keen to initiate with the Tamil People of this country.

We also urge Your Excellency to quickly dismantle the so called High Security Zones in Valikamam and other places in the North and the East, enabling the people of those areas who have lived as displaced persons for over a decade to resettle back in their original places and begin their lives again with dignity. This again will only reassure everyone concerned of the good intentions of the government and curb suspicion and mistrust from exacerbating.

Yours truly,

M A Sumanthiran

Member of Parliament
TNA – National List

The resistance to Ban-Ki-moon by Wimal Weerawansa

by Sumanasiri Liyanage

Many a remark has already been written on Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s resistance in front of the Colombo UN office against Ban Ki-moon’s decision to appoint a three-member advisory committee to look into the happenings in the final days of the war that resulted in a comprehensive defeat of the LTTE. The aim of this article is neither to defend Minister Weerawansa’s action nor to add one more interpretation, but to look at critically some of the comments, many, if not almost all, were adverse, made with regard to his resistance.

Does it mean that these commentators have grasped better the meaning of his action? Hannah Arendt once wrote: "Action reveals itself fully only to the storyteller…who indeed always knows better what it was all about than the participants…. Even though stories are inevitable results of action, it is not the actor but the story-teller who perceives and ‘makes’ the story." Story tellers are not innocent and neutral reporters; they are conditioned by different ideologies. Hence we can see the juxtaposition of multiple ideologies in the debate around and about Minister Weerawansa’s resistance.

Let me first list the four critical remarks that have been made with regard to Minister Weerawansa’s ‘fast unto death’ campaign.

1. This kind of actions would offend the ‘international community’ and as a result Sri Lanka’s international reputation that has been now at very low level would be further deteriorated;

2. Protesting and resisting Ban Ki-moon’s action are warranted, but it should be done in a more civilised manner;

3. This kind of protest and resistance would not produce any results;

4. The whole incident was a pre-planned drama closely orchestrated by the President.

I wish to avoid commenting on the fourth and the final argument as I do not have evidence to substantiate it. When an event like this happens it gives a space for all kinds of speculations. The third argument completely disregards the very idea of resistance. Resistance needs not to be result-oriented; it is an unleashing of a process against injustice. Of course, Minister Weerawansa’s fast did not produce many results, but it has demonstrated that some section of the Sri Lankan society is ready to resist actions even if they come from powerful international players.

Results in the case of resistance are just a possibility even if they go unnoticed to the people who are engaged in the resistance. Alain Badiou has made the following on enemy propaganda against resistance. "The goal of all enemy propaganda is not to annihilate an existing force, but rather to annihilate an unnoticed possibility of the situation. This possibility is also unnoticed by those who conduct this propaganda, since its features are to be simultaneously immanent to the situation and not to appear in it."

My main focus is on the first two criticisms. The first argument is that the resistance through this sort of actions would offend the so-called international community The term, ‘international community’ is of course a misnomer and it refers only to the Western capitalist powers. They were unhappy not about the way in which the war was conducted in Sri Lanka but about the fact that the Sri Lankan Government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to follow the advice of the so-called international community as to how the government should deal with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Eric Solheim and David Miliband played a key role in campaigning against the Sri Lankan government’s military option against the LTTE. It was no secret that the US and the UK, behind the scene, had influenced the IMF decision on the Sri Lankan request for financial assistance of $ 1. 9 billion.

The loan was finally granted because of the intervention of and pressure from India. The UN intervention has to be viewed not as an isolated event by an international body, but as another attempt by the Western imperialist powers to use the UN against Sri Lanka for its noncompliance with Western advice on the issue of military action against the LTTE. Some even tend to argue that in the current global context a country like Sri Lanka should not attempt to maintain its sovereignty as it would adversely affect the country economically. As Noam Chomsky has shown, "in the contemporary world of state-capitalist nations, loss of sovereignty can lead to a diminution of democracy, a decline in the ability of states to conduct social and economic policy on their own terms." He says, "History shows that, more often than not, loss of sovereignty leads to liberalization imposed in the interests of the powerful."

The second argument refers to the notion of civility. These commentators accept and respect the right to resist, but they claim that it should be done in a civilised manner. If I remember correct, it was Tennessee Williams who once argued that there was no qualitative difference between so-called civilised behaviour and ‘uncivilised behaviour’. The notion of civility is invariably flagged when the lower segments of society decide to resist the totally undemocratic, dubious actions of the upper echelons of society. As Robespierre aptly put it during the French Revolution, there are people who want revolution ‘without a revolution’.

The strength as well as weakness of Minister Weerawansa’s resistance stems from his politics i.e. unconditional and extreme form of nationalism. On the other hand his critics seem to share the view that current world system fosters democracy, freedom and economic well-being of people. Hence, his critics believe that the world system is not dominated by any nation-state or group of nation-states. This idea is not confined to the right wing liberals, but it also shared by some left wing intellectuals. The theoretical argument for the leftists who tend to think in this way was provided by Hardt and Negri in their two companion volumes, Empire and Multitude.

As I intend to write a separate note on Hardy and Negri thesis in a forthcoming article, suffice it to note here this euro-centrist version totally neglects the dominance of finance capital in the world economy and the hegemony of London and New York in the flow of financial capital. Of course, the capitalist system has invented new forms and techniques of governmentality since the end of cold war. International bodies like UN multilateral financial and economic agencies like the IMF, the World Bank and the international non-governmental organisations, operate wittingly or unwittingly following the logic of financial capital. It was in this context that Chomsky has argued that ‘loss of sovereignty can lead to a diminution of democracy’ and not to a promotion of democracy.

The problem with nationalism stems from not its opposition to this new forms and techniques of governmentality but its opposition to ethnic plurality, power-sharing and decentralising of governance. Resistance against international dominance should go hand in hand with resistance against the centralisation of power, over-securitization of the state and national homogenisation. That is the core of the difference between left politics and nationalist politics.

July 25, 2010

In Pictures: Toronto Sri Varasiththi Vinaayagar Chariot Festival

by Steve Russell

The 11th annual Vinaayagar Chariot Festival at the Sri Varasiththi Vinaayagar Hindu Temple on Kennedy Road attracted thousands and transported me out of the GTA.

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The chariot on four huge wooden wheels and pulled by two long heavy ropes resembles a lotus flower. The god, Lord Ganesh sits on a throne as it is pulled by devotees.

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A trio of devotees perform Angata Pradesham, they roll behind the chariot or "where the lord has set his feet"

[click to see & read more]

Tamil anxiety over Army camps changing demography in N-E

By Ranga Jayasuriya

Bitterness over High Security Zones continues to poison post war reconciliation. Especially, since Keheliya Rambukwella, the Defence Affairs Spokesman rhetorically responded to a media question that High Security Zones were going to stay, faint hope among the displaced Tamils for the magnanimity of the victor evaporated into thin air.

When the Cabinet met in Kilinochchi, early this month, 2000 odd families petitioned the President requesting that they be allowed to return to their original land, where the military has now built a camp.

Four thousand acres of land have been taken over in Murukandi and Kilinochchi to build a new military cantonment. The inhabitants of three villages have been displaced.

When the petition by displaced Tamils was handed over to the president, he promised that Tamils would be resettled in their original lands. But, still, they languish as displaced persons.

The government has formulated a new security strategy of ‘force concentration’ in Jaffna. According to the blue print of the new security strategy in the Jaffna peninsula, the Security Forces Headquarters of Palali, the Naval harbour in KKS and the Palali airstrip, which is part of the Jaffna Security Forces Headquarters would be brought under one complex called the Security Complex Jaffna.

The plan also includes the development of the Palali airstrip to enable increased civilian air travel, funded by India. As one military official put it, “the new runway would enable anyone to take a ticket from anywhere and fly to Jaffna.” There will be a separate exit for civilian passengers at Telippalai, circumventing circuitous travel routes that civilians now have to take through the High Security Zones.

However, the new military plan necessitates acquiring land in the KKS area, a fact which has already caused ripples in Tamil circles.

The military says the High Security Zones are shrinking and at the end of the day, HSZ would be confined to KKS and Telippalai DS divisions.

The worst fear of the Tamils is a rapid change of the demography in the region, courtesy military expansion.
Suresh Premachandran MP recalls that the commander of the army meeting the Malwatte Maha Nayake Thera, had assured that the army would set up permanent cantonments in the North East, which could also accommodate family members of soldiers.

Demography

“There are 100,000 soldiers in the North-East. If everyone comes with their wives and two kids, there will be 400,000 new people in the Wanni. That would change the demography of the North overnight,” he says.
Tamils would lose their representation, he adds.

It was under the pretext of the demographic change in the North-East, that old school Tamil agitators opposed the colonization programmes --- and the LTTE massacred Sinhala settlers in those farming villages in the past.
Meanwhile the renovation of ruins of ancient Buddhist places of worship is viewed with suspicion.

But, travelling along the A 9 road to Jaffna a couple of months back—during the alleged introduction of Buddhist presence in the form of temples along the A 9 road was in full force, as reported largely by the Tamil media— this correspondent could hardly see any trace of creeping Buddhist influence as was alleged. However, given the strongly held notion, prevalent among articulate sections of Tamils of the homogeneity of the North East as a Tamil homeland, the bitterness of Tamil sentiment could well be understood.

However, whether such sentiments would help the Tamils to come to terms with post war reality is open to question.

The government has formulated a long-term security strategy, under which the security forces presence in the North East would be continued and permanent military instalments would be set up. That, according to the government is, in order to face future security challenges. Tamil militancy rose from rag tag groups of youth to a full blown semi conventional army, mainly by strangling military camps and police stations in the North East.

By dislodging the military by a series of attacks in the 80s, the LTTE secured a rear base to plan, recruit and execute attacks, a key element in the success of guerrilla warfare. The army has learnt from past mistakes. However, interestingly enough, the architect of the strategy of permanent military camps is none other than the now discarded former chief of defence staff General Sarath Fonseka, who planned to expand the army to 400,000 and instal a permanent military camp in every village.

Security concerns apart, logistical imperatives demand permanent camps in the North. The Sri Lankan army has expanded over 200,000 and added with other branches of the security forces, it surpasses 300,000. Since the government has ruled out the option of downsizing the security forces, permanent bases are an imperative to accommodate the increasing numbers of troops.

On Thursday, in line with the government’s security strategy, a new Headquarters complex for the 68 Division at Sugandirapuram, Puthukudiyiruppu was declared open by the commander of the army Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya.

Gen Jayasuriya addressing soldiers said that the setting up of new permanent camps would expedite the resettlement process as it would enable troops to vacate civilian properties they have been occupying.

The commander of the army said: “These types of permanent buildings were made possible due to pre-fabricated technology, donated by China. The government wants us to vacate all buildings, belonging to the civilian sector, so that owners of those buildings could reclaim them and help bring normalcy to the area.Civilian life should be restored and facilitated in the area. In future, once married quarters of the officers and the other ranks are set up in the respective areas, they would be able to live with their families as well while serving the areas.”

However, in contrast to the popular view that the High Security Zones would stay, senior military officials dealing with civil military affairs say they are, in fact, shrinking.

“We handed over (to civilians) Nageswaran Kovil, Thelippalai Government Hospital, Mahajana College (leading school in the are).”

He said the Gnanam Hotel was handed back to its owners last week and Subash Hotel would also be handed over in two months time.

He said 160 civilian properties in Jaffna are under the control of the military and 40 have already been handed over to their owners since the end of the war.

He listed a number of roads which were opened for civilian travel.

Uninterrupted supply of electricity has its success story, he said adding that in two Jaffna schools - Chundikulam Girls School and Jaffna Hindu College - the pass rate at ordinary level examinations surpassed 99 per cent.

Slow pace of demining

According to military figures, he said, the number of internally displaced, who live in camps in Jaffna are 2115 persons (640 families). The delay in their resettlement is attributed to the slow pace of demining in the Wadamarachchi Eastern sector.

But, where are those thousands of families who were uprooted from the land now considered as High Security Zones?

He says population data of the district suggests that the majority of them had left the peninsula or comprehensively migrated.

According to the population census of 1983, it was predicted that the population in the Jaffna district would hit the one million mark by the year 2000. However, according to current figures, Jaffna population stands at 627,000.

“Majority of those who left Jaffna were the former residents of High Security Zones, who were from well -to- do families, and could afford to migrate,” he said.

Recently a family came from Canada after 30 years and wanted to visit their old house in the HSZ.
“I asked them why now, after so long?” The lady said she buried some gold in the land when she left the house,” said the military official

“We took them to the area; not even they could locate where there land was. The entire area was a thick jungle.” ~ courtesy: Lakbima News ~

July 24, 2010

Executive President Old Wine in Executive Prime Minister New Bottle

By Namini Wijedasa

When the president invited the opposition leader for talks on constitutional change, there was cheer that the debate on this vital national issue was finally broadening.

Then, after just a few rounds of discussion, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed the introduction of an elected executive prime minister — a system which has only been tried once before in the world and abolished after proving to be an unqualified failure.

No draft

A comprehensive and defined set of suggested amendments is still not available and the supposed main “drafter” of such a document — External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris — is not talking. Citizens are left to gather information like dogs collecting scraps from the dinner table.

Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was in a group of opposition parliamentarians that met Peiris on Friday to discuss constitutional change, particularly with reference to the executive premiership and the 17th amendment. He said the government was “not precise” on the second issue. Rather, “it’s a vague suggestion”. “Prof Peiris is not sure of what the government intends,” he observed.

“They refer to an executive prime minister elected by the people but we pointed out that it’s meaningless to go through the same process of election of a prime minister or a president, that it makes no difference,” Rajapakshe explained. “And even if the prime minister is elected by the people, we asked what the procedure is for removal. Impeachment, as is already provided in the constitution, is meaningless.” Despite Wickremesinghe supporting the idea of an executive premiership, Rajapakshe said the UNP stood for a return to the Westminster system of governance.

From what is already in the public domain, we know that the executive prime minister will be elected to parliament and there will be no limit on the number of terms he or she wishes to serve. There is still discussion on whether or not the executive prime minister should have power to dissolve parliament and be granted immunity from prosecution.

Bigger mess

But while the government and opposition already seem to be fine-tuning this proposal, constitutional law experts and academics warn that Sri Lanka may find herself in a bigger mess than she is now if the executive presidency gives way to an elected prime ministership.

Ruana Rajepakse, an eminent lawyer who authored the book “A Guide to Current Constitutional Issues in Sri Lanka”, raised a question: “They are discussing changes but is it for a second term or third term? Is the president going to forego his second term as president or are they talking of the third term? What we have to do is control the enormous amount of power vested in the president in the same term.”

Jayampathy Wickremeratne, PC, was part of the team that drafted the People’s Alliance government’s 1997 proposals for constitutional reform and is well versed in the subject. Executive prime minister, he said, “is not a phrase that you come across in constitutional documents or literature”.

In a parliamentary form of governance, he explained, the executive power is vested in parliament and exercised in the name of the head of state by the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers. The head of state (whether it is the president, king or queen) acts on the advice of the prime minister who is effective head of the executive. “If ‘executive prime minister’ is used in that sense, there is not much of a problem,” Wickremeratne said. “But if it is meant to say he will have certain powers that prime ministers in countries with a parliamentary form of government do not have, then that’s a matter of concern.”

The problem lies with what those powers would be. Would the prime minister have immunity from suit? “In no country with a parliamentary form of government does the prime minister have immunity,” Wickremeratne stressed. And will the prime minister be directly elected? What about the dissolution of parliament? The prime minister could claim he is directly elected and there could be a clash of power with parliament.

The failed Israeli experiment

The case of Israel has been mentioned. Israel has a parliamentary form of government but it was found in the late 80s and early 90s that the smaller parties — so-called Orthodox Jewish parties — were getting higher representation and “dictating” terms. As a way of circumventing this, a prime ministerial election was held parallel to the parliamentary election.

“What transpired was a complete reverse of what was expected,” said Wickremeratne. “They found the smaller parties getting more seats. As a result, the prime minister, though directly elected, did not have a majority of his or her own!”

How did this happen? “People found themselves able to choose a national level politician as prime minister and still also vote for the party of their choice,” Wickremeratne said. “More people started voting for Orthodox parties while also voting for a mainstream politician as prime minister.”

This could happen in Sri Lanka. If you have two votes — one for the party and one for the prime minister — people could people could choose one party for the electorate and parliament, and vote in the leader of another party as prime minister. “Because we propose to introduce a mix of first-past-the-post and proportional representation, this will help smaller parties get more seats.” The same, he cautioned, could happen to the UNP or the SLMC. For instance, SLMC voters in Galle might vote for the party but choose a UNP leader.

After it was introduced in 1992, Israel held her first elections under this system in 1996. It was such a flop that the direct election of the prime minister was discarded after the 2001 polls.

Japan also toyed with the idea of introducing a directly elected prime minister. Unlike Sri Lanka, however, that country seems to learn from the mistakes of others. The idea was abandoned. Addressing a Japanese House of Representatives constitutional research committee in 2001, two eminent professors maintained that it was better to have unity of parliament and cabinet.

Akira Morita, one of the professors, said that the system would make the prime minister “have separate legitimacy” His colleague, Yasuo Hasebe, referred to the failed example of Israel that is being cited now by the Sri Lankan government. “There was a deviance between the choice for premier and political party,”’ he said. “There is not much for swift and accurate governance or strengthening political leadership (with direct election of the premier), he said. ‘’I don’t think it is a very good idea.’’

Our constitutions are for politicos

Lakbimanews interviewed Rohan Edrisinha who lectures in constitutional law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Colombo. Excerpts:

Is there sufficient transparency in the process to introduce constitutional change?

This is part of the problem. Constitution making is supposed to be an exercise where the people draft a constitution to protect themselves from those who wield political power. But in Sri Lanka, just like in 1972 and 1978, we seem to have got the entire thing wrong in terms of process. The debate seems to be taking place within the government. This could mean that we have a constitution drafted to suit the people in power rather than the people.

How would you analyse the proposal to introduce an executive prime minister?

There is a lack of clarity with respect to what even the government and opposition are talking about. For example, the president and leader of opposition are supposed to have agreed that there should be an executive prime minister. What does this mean? In political science and constitutional literature that I’m familiar with, there is no notion of an executive prime minister. The choice, if you look at constitutions around the world, is between a presidential executive and a parliamentary executive. No one is really sure what an executive prime minister means. The only possible example could be the executive prime minister idea that was tried in Israel where the prime minister was elected directly by the people at a separate ballot. This was attempted and rejected unanimously across party lines in Israel because it proved to be total failure. If this is what President Rajapaksa and Ranil
Wickremesinghe are proposing, why are they following an example which was universally seen having failed?

Was it not Tissa Vitarana who first floated this idea in his APRC proposals last year?

It was briefly toyed with by Tissa Vitarana and many people, including myself, lobbied with him, alerting him that it was an experiment that had failed. In the final report, it seems as if Tissa and the APRC abandoned their flirtation with the executive prime minister idea.

Dayan Jayatilleka says people are unnecessarily obsessed with the presidency. Do you agree?

If you look at the experience of 1978 constitution, the executive presidency had a corrosive effect on all other institutions including parliament and the judiciary. It also undermined the 13th amendment that sought to devolve power to the provinces. The executive presidency is one of the major impediments to constitutionalism and focusing on it and its negative consequences is vital.

What changes do you think our constitution needs?

Any new constitution for Sri Lanka must contain the following features: abolition of the executive presidency and a return to a parliamentary executive; the strengthening of parliament and the powers of the members of parliament; improvement on the 17th amendment to ensure the establishment of independent institutions including a constitutional court to deal with constitutional matters; a new electoral system that is genuinely mixed; the clear acceptance of the principle of supremacy of the constitution with re-introduction of the judicial review of legislation like what existed in Sri Lanka before 1972; and a stronger bill of rights that makes our bill of rights compatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and modern approaches to bills of rights which include economic, social and cultural rights with carefully drafted limitation clauses to prevent the rights from being restricted at will by governments in power - courtesy: Lakbima News -

The Tiger Vanquished: LTTE's Story y M.R. Narayan Swamy

Reviewed by Dayan Jayatilleka

There are books that are a ‘must read‘, and others that are a ‘cracking good read’. MR Narayan Swamy’s latest book on Sri Lanka, The Tiger Vanquished: LTTE’s Story (Sage Publications, 2010), is both. It is an objective, balanced, reliable and fairly authoritative account of the last war, its prelude and its aftermath.

It should be read across the spectrum, by Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans interested either in Sri Lanka or the broader themes of insurgency, terrorism and ethnic conflict. The long introduction is the best single text I have read so far on the last war, from build-up and backdrop to its grand finale and present-day prospects.

Prefaced by a cinematically perfect final telephone conversation in May 2009 between a trapped Tiger leader and his family in Europe punctuated by the ever-louder, ever closer Sri Lankan gunnery, it is a fast paced narrative woven through with analytical commentary. The author is neither Sinhalese nor Tamil, and therefore far enough from the emotions roused by the topic, but a journalist from the neighbouring country India with a nose to the ground and an engagement with the Sri Lanka story for decades, and therefore close enough to the subject matter.

MR Narayan Swamy was on the story which, in the bloody wake of July ’83, was beginning to bulk large in the Indian press. He is still on it, having never taken his eye off the ball. When he wrote his first book on the Tigers, he would not have thought it would be a trilogy, but that’s what it has amounted to. This book is the third of a triptych, and brings the story to a close while deftly pinning it to what went before.

Narayan Swamy is a reporter par excellence and this book is a reporter’s story. Like any good reporter he tries to cover it from as many angles as possible, balancing the report. He emerges as a specialist on the Tigers and on Prabhakaran in particular. Just as the earlier ones were of the rise and hegemony of the Tigers – and Prabhakaran—this is the book of its and his fall. It is neither pure description nor attempt at military history; it is solid political journalism.

The book traces and fixes the beginnings of the last war, confirming that had the tsunami not hit the island in late 2004, Prabhakaran’s final offensive almost certainly would have, and that he didn’t give the newly elected Mahinda Rajapakse more than a few weeks before he initiated armed attacks unilaterally at the end of 2005. On the political side, as an informed outsider who had observed Sri Lankan leaders grapple with this problem for decades, he discovers the importance of Mahinda Rajapakse’s clarity and determination in ending it. He confirms my reading that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga spiritedly retaliated against the LTTE by capturing Jaffna in late ’95 and yet inexplicably lost steam shortly after, leaving room for the LTTE to counterattack devastatingly – and repeating that strange shuffle after her successful defence of Jaffna in 2000. The book reminds us of the historical contributions of the three who won the war -- Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapakse and Sarath Fonseka – and that is the order of ranking that rises from the narrative.

Narayan Swamy adds considerable value to our existing body of knowledge on the war. He pieces together from Tiger survivors that Prabhakaran expected the Sri Lankan armed forces to stop after the capture of Kilinochchi – helping us understand just how crucial it was that the offensive momentum was maintained and the old doctrine of ‘negotiations from strength’ was abandoned in favour of a war winning strategy aimed at defeating and destroying the enemy. Narayan Swamy also confirms that Prabhakaran expected the West to intervene and the Indian electorate to turf out the Congress, either of which he thought would provide him a safe exit.

The author breaks a story by revealing that under the BJP administration, Delhi had assigned several top officials of the intelligence agency RAW to join the Norwegian led ‘peace process’ and even help draft the Ceasefire Agreement. Luckily for Sri Lanka there was a change of administration and of attitude in New Delhi.

The record of contemporary history is set straight by the author who has no partisan axe to grind. The erosion in the morale of some of the Tiger cadre during and due to the CFA is captured in the account. Due strategic importance is given, as it usually isn’t in hagiographic renditions, to the Karuna schism (and its weaker precursor, the dissent of Prabhakaran’s deputy, Mahattaya). Narayan Swamy makes clear that Karuna’s was no treachery as many ultra-nationalist Tamils still have it, but a serious and predictable regional contradiction between Eastern sacrifice and Northern domination which went unheeded and unresolved due to Prabhakaran’s arrogance.

The author’s first (and first hand) impressions of Mahinda Rajapakse both as Prime Minister and President were that here was a man who was ready and even eager for peace but unlike any of his predecessors, was clearly determined from the outset that if war was resorted to by the Tigers, it would be a fight to the finish with the express goal of defeating them utterly.

The book leaves no doubt that this, the determined new national leadership, was the single most important of several ‘game changers’ that enabled Prabhakaran to be vanquished. While there are commentaries that attribute that determination to everything ranging from Sinhala chauvinism to nepotistic need, these beg the question as to why all previous leaders were unable to do so with whatever motivations however exalted or base. As Lenin once quipped “there is no such thing as a sincerometer in politics” and it is impossible in serious political analysis to impute motivation in the absence of documentary evidence. Whatever the motivations of Mahinda Rajapakse, they got the primary job done.

MR Narayan Swamy is politically far too literate a commentator to present a mono-causal (still less exclusively Rajapakse-centric) explanation for the fall of the Tigers. Instead he identifies a cluster of three factors all of which came into being in the year 2004. It is this convergence of 2004 that killed Prabahakaran and his Tiger project, argues the writer. These factors were the Karuna breakaway, Mahinda Rajapakse becoming PM and the Congress returning to office in India.

Narayanswamy’s testimony unwittingly puts paid to the perspective that strikes an anti –Tiger posture but still bewails Mahinda Rajapakse’s accession to the Prime Ministership over Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar. The author discloses the fascinating detail that Delhi, by this time under a Congress administration, tilted in favour of Rajapakse over Kadirgamar in the Premier stakes. The PM ship was always the staging post for the Presidential candidacy, and if Mahinda were not the PM he would have had far less of a chance of being the SLFP’s Presidential candidate and still less prospect of winning. No Mahinda Rajapakse, no military victory over Prabhakaran—that much is borne out by this book.

This book, especially the substantive introduction and part-predictive postscript, should comprise essential reading for all students of and policy makers concerned with Sri Lankan and Tamil affairs. It is also relevant reading for existing and aspirant guerrillas and counter-insurgents everywhere.

Rajapaksa must not be allowed to "bury" the APRC final report

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

Stupidity has come back as a king – no; as an emperor, as a divine Führer of all Aryans.” — Aldous Huxley (Eyeless In Gaza)

Twenty Seven years ago, “Black July” burst upon Sri Lanka with the sudden ferocity of a flash flood. The omens of this bloody deluge was evident in the ‘language of contempt’ and the ‘dismissive atitude’ vis-à-vis Tamils which was de règale in Sinhala polity and society.

Black July, like most disasters which befell independent Sri Lanka, was a preventable tragedy.

Had President Jayewardene honoured his 1977 election promise to come up with a political solution to the Tamil question, the Black July and the subsequent civil war could have been avoided. The UNP in 1977 was up to that task, objectively. It had a clear parliamentary majority; the SLFP was in retreat subsequent to its electoral trouncing; the JVP was of negligible import; and in the TULF, the regime had a moderate Tamil partner it could have worked with.

But President Jayewardene’s authoritarian agenda made him equally inimical towards demands for democratisation in the South and devolution in the North; both sets of demands were categorised as ‘subversive’ and handled with unmerited severity. A historic opportunity to settle the ethnic issue in its infancy was thus lost, rendering most subsequent disasters, including the Black July, inevitable.

That failure to solve the Tamil question, together with the unjust proscription of the JVP, was JR Jayewardene’s greatest historic error. (Contrary to public perception, the B-C Pact was abandoned by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike not because of Jayewardene’s infamous Kandy March but because of the protest by Buddhist monks, the first pillar of his Pancha Maha Balavegaya). Those twin and related errors plunged the country into concentric cycles of violence and destroyed Jayewardene’s dream of a third presidential term.

Post-war, Mahinda Rajapaksa could have moved swiftly to devolve and democratise, two necessary preconditions for consensual nation-building. He did not, partly because of his Sinhala supremacist mindset (he does not believe in the existence of an ethnic problem) and partly because he abhors sharing power with anyone outside his family. Just as J.R. Jayewardene’s authoritarian project impeded a political solution to the Tamil question, the Dynastic project of the Rajapaksas are rendering impossible a consensual peace based on reconciliation.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has a completely organic blueprint he can work on, if he wants to seize the moment and settle the ethnic issue. The APRC appointed by the President to come up with a political solution to the North-Eastern problem has prepared a Final Report and presented it to the President. According to Parliamentarian Kariapper, “the APRC expected that President Rajapaksa would commence a dialogue with the main opposition United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance, based on the final report of the APRC with a view to formulating a new constitution” (The Island – 20.7.2010). The President did the opposite; he tucked away the Final Report out of the public eye, to gather dust in the darkness of obfuscation.

Last week several parliamentarians decided to un-closet the Report, releasing it to the media and tabling it in parliament. The regime’s frenzied reaction to the latter action, and its demands that any reference to the Final Report be expunged from the Hansard prove that the Rajapaksas acted with mala fide. The regime interred the APRC Final Report because the Rajapaksas, as non-believers in an ethnic problem, are committed to sabotaging a political solution to the ethnic problem.

The regime waged and won the Fourth Eelam War (launched by the LTTE) on a Sinhala supremacist platform, premised on denying the existence of an ethnic problem (this entailed massive human rights violations which are beginning to haunt us now). When the ethnic problem was reduced to a terrorist threat, a political solution was ruled out, by definition. The APRC was appointed not with a sincere intent but as a time buying devise, to appease Delhi and the West, until the Tigers were defeated. That is why, whenever the APRC produced some concrete result (such as the Majority Report of the Experts Committee), the Rajapaksas moved to negate it, often with the help of their Sinhala supremacist allies.

The APRC Final Report seems a very moderate document, which circumvents controversial issues (such as the nature of the state) and tries to combine devolution with safeguards against separatism. But even such a moderate formula has no place in the vision of an unequal Sri Lanka, in which the Sinhalese are the rulers and the minorities are the ruled, fated by birth to lead a subordinate existence. If the Sinhalese are the hosts and the minorities are the guests, they have no intrinsic rights and no structural grievances. That was the vision which premised our ‘nation-building’ efforts since 1956.

The Rajapaksa Presidency gave a new lease of life to that old vision which was discredited by the war and abandoned after Indian intervention. Post-victory, that vision is informing and propelling the Rajapaksa ‘nation-building’ project. The past has become the present. Before long the majority will feel (again) that this or that minority has too much of something or the other. Economic malaises, caused by Rajapaksa incompetencies and the prioritising of guns over butter, will make the need for scapegoats even more acute.

Vocal demands to protect the patrimony of the Sinhalese by tipping the playing field in their favour will follow, to counter either the Tamil Nadu factor or the Middle Eastern factor or the Western factor or some other factor eternally working to undermine Sinhala-Buddhists and promote minorities!

According to this worldview equality is ‘unfair’ because the dice is permanently ‘loaded’ against the Sinhala Buddhists (so we had to have Sinhala Only and standardisation etc, and Black July as a last resort). As the fear of being overtaken and overwhelmed by the minorities consumes us, we will become more irrational and intolerant, more prone to excesses and violence. And when the Tamils or some other minority resist these blatant injustices, they will be branded traitors and treated as such. That was the path to Black July.

A nation-building project premised on Sinhala supremacism (and the hosts and guests concept) will be as unsuccessful the second time as it was the first time. Fortunately a complete retrogression is still avoidable. The mere fact that the APRC managed to produce a Final Report is a minor miracle. The Rajapaksas must not be allowed to bury it, again. The Report must be studied and debated, including in the parliament. The UNP must place it on the agenda in its discussions with the President about constitutional reforms.

India and the international community must be lobbied to put pressure on the regime to implement the Final Report of its own APRC. Here is a realistic cause, an organic solution, for the minority parties to champion (especially the EPDP and the CWC) and the Tamil Diaspora to promote, if they are serious about a just and a consensual peace. If we fail, retrogression will be our fate; the past will return complete with old and new horrors, including the psychological plague bacillus which enabled that abomination, the Black July

British Tamils conduct midnight vigil to commemorate Black July 83 and inaugurate London - Geneva Walk for Justice

British Tamils once again embarked on a rally through London on Friday, 23rd July 2010 calling for justice for victims of war crimes in Sri Lanka. In a symbolic yet solemn show of unity and hope, a “midnight vigil” was held from 9pm commencing from opposite Westminster Abbey to Downing Street.

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The first of its kind to be held by a minority group in London, thousands of Tamils and non-Tamils gathered carrying candles, placards, banners and hoisting flags appealing to the UK establishment and the UN to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka. Westminster Council, the Mayor’s Office and the Metropolitan Police offered tremendous support to enable this momentous vigil to take place.

The commemorative vigil marks the 27th anniversary of Sri Lankan state sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms in which thousands were slaughtered and serves to remind us that the injustice continues today.

The midnight vigil inaugurated a “Walk for Justice” from the heart of British Parliament, through
France and Switzerland to the UN Human Rights Council offices in Geneva. Mr. Sivanthan, a British Tamil youth, will be joined by supporters and well-wishers on a two-week walk to raise awareness and amalgamate support for calls to the:

1. UN to initiate an independent international probe into war crimes committed in Sri Lanka

2. Allow access to Prisoners Of War

3. For all internally displaced persons to be resettled into their own homes. A memorandum is to be handed to the UN in Geneva on 6th August 2010

4. Boycott of Sri Lanka until it respects international laws

The walk for justice to the UN coincides with the recent appointment of a UN advisory panel by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The Sri Lankan government has shown clear opposition to any prospect of independent monitors investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka. Government backed blockade outside UN office in Sri Lanka, threats to UN staff and possible denial of visas to the appointed UN advisory panel reflect a hostile reaction to a body that only has an advisory role. Sri Lanka must be reminded it is a democratic country which has subscribed to UN covenants and Geneva Conventions and is obliged to comply with the obligations to which it has signed up to.

Community leaders and well-wishers signed the war crimes book to pledge their support for the calls to the UN. The two-week walk to the UN aims to unite Tamils across Europe hope and the wider community to join calls to highlight the need for UN to uphold international laws to ensure that justice is universal and to set precedents for other rogue states.

British Tamils reiterated calls for boycott of Sri Lanka until it respects international laws. An international day of boycott is taking place on Saturday 31st July 2010 across US, UK, Canada, Australia and Europe to take forward this campaign.

The event concluded at 11:30pm with speeches from representatives of Tamil organisations and other community leaders. A memorandum containing the 4 basic and fundamental humane and humanitarian demands to the UK Prime Minister will be handed at 10 Downing Street on Monday 26th July.

Statement read out in front of 10 downing street London

Dear friends, fellow Tamils, well wishers and supporters of Tamil’s freedom in the island of Sri Lanka, on behalf of British Tamils Forum, I thank you all, for this historic event. I would also like to give a special welcome to our Sinhala Brothers and Sisters including Exile Journalists who have joined us here today - these Sinhala Brothers and Sisters had no choice other than to simply leave the country to escape the murderous Rajapakshe regime run by Mr Rajapakshe and his Brothers.

Today, you have gathered in thousands and in doing so, you are sending a clear message of resilience to President Rajapakshe and his cronies! This also sends a message of hope to our Tamil Brothers and Sisters that we will not rest until they are free from the oppressive State.

Tamils want justice from an independent international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka but our voices have been silenced by the murderous Rajapakshe regime that will join the list of Rwanda, Srebrenitsa and many others. It is events like these that keep the memory of many innocent people who perished in the hands of the murderous Rajapakshe regime. This is why the Sri Lankan Government does not want to see us Tamils to be united in the call for freedom. It is our duty to ensure that the true face of the Terror State of Sri Lanka is exposed - First to the international community and eventually at the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

Friends, a year is gone, since the war ended, but the conflict hasn’t ended! I repeat the conflict hasn't ended!

It is clear that the Sri Lankan Government is taking all the steps to wipe out all the evidence of crimes against humanity they committed. They are killing those who they think can be witnesses for war crimes. If the Government of Sri Lanka has got nothing to fear, why are they shying away from international Governments, Agencies and Journalists? Why have they refused access to the UN Panel? This more than a year after the war has ended. Why is the Sri Lankan Government refusing to even publish the list of the prisoners of war that they illegally hold without access? Why? Why? Why?

Friends, we must tell the international community that trying to get concessions from Sri Lanka, which is not just a Failed State but also a Racist State, will not work! It didn’t work with Hitler, it didn’t work with the Khmer Rouge, it didn’t work with the then leaders of Rwanda, it didn’t work with Milosevic, it didn’t work with the apartheid regime in South Africa – It doesn’t work with regimes like these – FULL STOP!

It is our duty to demand no words but action from the coalition Government in our adopted home and from the rest of the world if they care for humanity.

Today, it also marks the 27th anniversary of the Black July massacre of thousands of innocent Tamils that showed the true face of Sri Lanka to the world. Many years have gone and we have lost many more during that time. No where in the world over 40,000 innocent people got murdered in cold blood in broad day light in such short space of time, like what happened in the Northeast of Sri Lanka, last year!

Let’s remember them with a minute’s silence.

Ladies and Gentlemen with tears rolling down our cheeks we, the British Tamils Forum, with the support of the Tamil Diaspora and international community, will work as hard as it takes to ensure that

One - An Independent International Investigation into War Crimes in Sri Lanka takes place and the perpetrators get punished

Two – we gain access to the Prisoners of War

Three – we Boycott Sri Lanka until it respects human rights

I ask you, all of you, to join us in this long march for freedom and justice!

Thank you very much! Go home safely

Pictuere courtesy of Hasan Suroor / The Hindu : U.K. Tamils hold midnight vigil outside Downing Street

Horror of a pogrom: Remembering “Black July” 1983

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

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The tragic history of post – independence Sri Lanka records that the Tamils of Sri Lanka have been subjected to mass –scale mob violence in the years 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983. The anti-Tamil violence of July 1983 was the most terrible and horrible of them all. It remains etched in memory even after 27 years.

[click to read in full ~ on dbsjeyaraj.com]

The UNP needs to wake up and take the fight to this regime

by Karu Jayasuriya

As the UNP faces one of the worst crises of its glorious 60 year history, it bears heavily on our spirits as responsible representatives, to appeal to party colleagues for caution, decorum and a united approach in the face of our trouble.

It is a fact that the internal rifts and challenges within the UNP has stunted the role of the opposition and allowed the government a blank cheque to get on with its business in any merry way they please. Today the entire country is focused on the UNP crisis. Leadership battles, personality clashes and backroom negotiations and horse-trading have taken precedence over a crying need for the UNP to go back to its roots, to seek out the grassroots support that was once unquestionably ours and find ways in which to stall the government juggernaut as it rolls along, dragging Sri Lanka along a path of anarchy, repression and economic ruin.

More than a year after the war was won by our brave armed forces, the government continues to adopt a militaristic approach to all governance issues, refusing to resettle the displaced Tamil people of the north and continuing with its policies of division and discrimination in the south. This is the official hegemonic, supremacist policy of the present Regime, which if unchecked will put an end to this nation’s collective dream of reconciliation and healing that followed the conclusion of a 30 year civil conflict. Instead of drawing the minorities into the mainstream and allowing them to be part of the post-conflict process in Sri Lanka, this government has deliberately alienated moderate Tamil politicians while drawing former ruthless LTTE commanders ever closer to them.

This is not the Sri Lanka that was promised to the people of this country when scores of lives were being lost in Eelam War IV. Under this administration Sri Lanka is falling from crisis to crisis, barely a shadow of its glorious past, where the mannerisms and attitudes of a smiling and tolerant people embodied the teachings of the Buddha and other religious leaders. Today we are suspicious of our neighbours, quick to label and quick to ire, divided and eager to divide. This is Sri Lanka under current regime – a divided people under oligarchic rule, spurned by our friends in the world and under scrutiny by world bodies because of the cavalier attitudes of this regime. The War is ended, but this government’s policy has ensured that Sri Lanka has lost vital trade concessions to the EU – the lifeline of our apparel, ceramic and several other industries. The US is scrutinizing our labour laws and because of the government’s lack of will and sheer negligence, the UN is investigating the Sri Lankan forces for war crimes.

Yet in the face of all these great national travesties, we in the UNP have not lived up to its potential as a powerful opposition. We have been so caught up in our own petty squabbles that we have been negligent to a certain degree in our duty as a responsible opposition to perform our democratic role as a credible and resolute alternative government. If this government has enjoyed a free ride, we in the UNP share a large portion of the blame, for without the necessary checks and balances any democracy will quickly descend into chaos and anarchy.

Even as we struggle to overcome this crisis period, we remain confident that it is the UNP that can and will one day reverse the trend this government is leading Sri Lanka on. This party is founded on honourable principles and the efforts of great men who to this day are regarded as the heroes of this nation. We will not be kept down for much longer. We urge party colleagues to join us in taking the fight to this government now, rather than allowing the situation to deteriorate further.

There is no doubt that the UNP, like any institutional structure must possess a succession plan. However we believe that leaders emerge when capable men get on with their work. And there is a great deal of work to be done. Before we resort to squabbling over positions, let us first work to ensure there is a party left worth fighting for. The UNP needs to wake up and take the fight to this regime. The future of all Sri Lankans depend upon us.

(Press Release by Acting Leader UNP - 22nd July 2010)

July 23, 2010

In Pictures ~ “Vigil” and Other Works: An exhibition of installations,drawings and paintings

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing”~ Marc Chagall, (7 July 1887- 28 March 1985), Russian- French Painter

Vigil” and Other Works by Chandraguptha Thenuwara is currently being held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery in Colombo. It was inaugurated today for special invitees. The exhibition will remain open from July 24th 2010 to July 29th 2010 from 10am to 7pm except the Poya Day on Sunday-July 25th 2010.

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[click to see & read more ~ HA]

Will the USA endorse a second term for Ban-Ki-moon as UN Secy-Gen?

BY JAMES TRAUB

In May 2006, Ban Ki-moon made his public debut as a candidate for U.N. secretary-general at a Q-and-A session at the Council on Foreign Relations. About 20 minutes into the event, Ban's toneless and awkward English and studiously vacuous answers had put me sound asleep. I should have realized then that he was the perfect candidate for the job.

Today, two-thirds of the way into his first term, Ban has worsted even the low expectations that attended his candidacy. States that care about the United Nations -- and above all, the United States -- should prevent him from doing further harm to the institution by ensuring that he does not serve a second term.

Ban's mediocrity is no accident. Secretaries-general, after all, are hired for negative rather than positive attributes. The second person ever appointed to the post, a previously obscure Swedish bureaucrat named Dag Hammarskjold, infused the job with his own deep sense of moral calling, fearlessly offending the world's most powerful states before being killed in a plane crash in 1961. Since then, however, the permanent members of the Security Council, which largely control the selection process, have conscientiously vetted for dynamism. Ronald Reagan's administration was quite prepared to award a third term to Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi who proved to be the most anodyne figure ever to hold the top U.N. job. But he had competition: It was said of his successor, Javier Pérez de Cuellar, that he couldn't make a splash if he fell out of a boat.

Kofi Annan, whom Clinton administration officials identified as the perfect replacement for Boutros Boutros-Ghali -- who had made himself a thorn in Washington's side -- appeared to be the perfect steward: decent, modest, clerical. And yet Annan was the first secretary-general since Hammarskjold to fire the public imagination, calling for states to respect the rights of their own citizens and championing the cause of humanitarian intervention. But Annan fell afoul of George W. Bush's administration when he opposed, if ever so diplomatically, the plan to go to war in Iraq. Opposition from the White House and the American right made the remainder of his tenure hell.

Ban Ki-moon, a colorless South Korean bureaucrat and the favored candidate of U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, was the cure for Annan's dangerous charisma. China, which exercised effective veto rights over the choice of an "Asian candidate," was equally pleased with a figure who would lower the U.N.'s profile.

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Placard held near UN at a Tamil Awareness Rally, Sep 22, 2009

With no new Iraq melodrama or four-alarm scandal, attention largely shifted away from the U.N. during Ban's first years. The first public hint that the new secretary-general was sapping the U.N.'s strength came last August, when a Norwegian newspaper printed a leaked memo from Norway's deputy U.N. representative, Mona Juul. The memo alleged that the "spineless and charmless" Ban had failed to stand up in the face of massive human rights abuses in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, instead issuing "irresolute" appeals that "fall on deaf ears." Juul claimed that the U.N. was largely absent from the world's great crises and that Ban had lost the faith and respect of both member states and his own staff. ~ courtesy: Foreign Policy ~

Devolution will strengthen and uphold democracy and national unity

In Sri Lanka majoritarianism is divisive

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

The object of this article is to explore viable means of uniting the ethnically divided Sri Lankan society and promoting democracy, real peace and development, neglected earlier and later damaged severely by the protracted internal conflict that is rooted in the inapt political system. The latter endows absolute power to the ethnic majority ignoring the diverse nature of the Sri Lankan society.

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pic by: Bharat KV

The marginalized ethnic minorities are at the mercy of the powerful ethnic majority. But this system failed because no real compassion was on offer for opportunistic reasons. The struggle for power within the Sinhala polity and the felt political need to please the Sinhala nationalists were the main hindrances to reform. The surge of Tamil nationalism that threatened the territorial integrity of the island nation is the result of the many undesirable developments that denied sovereignty, equality, dignity and security to the ethnic minorities. The lingering conflict is not between Sinhalese and Tamils but a dispute between majoritarian State and the politically marginalized minorities.

The above introductory remarks are relevant even now, when there is no immediate threat to the sovereignty and national integrity of Sri Lanka, since the root causes of the destructive war remain unaddressed. The vast majority of Tamils and Muslims want a dependable political settlement within undivided Sri Lanka to enable them to live with dignity and the means to exercise their sovereign rights for their welfare and to be real stakeholders in national development. The future of Sri Lanka depends on the well-being of all communities and not just the ethnic majority. In this regard, there are basic matters that need focusing by all concerned Sri Lankans. Sadly, this is not the thinking of the political leaders, despite the past national tragedies.

Peace, development and democracy

In a recent interview, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told ‘The Manila Times’: “Without peace there is no development. And without development there is no peace”. This is not the first time he said this tenet, which apparently is fundamental to his vision of robust united Sri Lanka without the nagging ‘majority-minority’ division. He also mentioned: “Only the military campaign was finished and the work to address the root cause of their 30-year problem was still ongoing”. It is with regard to the latter there is confusion and uncertainty. His retraction from his own earlier approaches to political settlement based on devolution of powers has compounded the confusion. The interdependent link between development and peace makes it imperative to start work on both fronts. Unfortunately, some believe peace has already been achieved with the government’s military victory. This is not the kind of peace that will create the right environment for accelerating the development process and promoting national integration.

The lack of interest in strengthening democracy and the rule of law is also another cause for concern. Apparently peace and development are being sought with the fraudulent democracy which lacks many basic principles. In a plural society, unrestrained majoritarianism is undemocratic. The real peace and unity to be durable and beneficial to all in present and future generations must be achieved by embracing democracy, human rights, equality and justice for all citizens. Emergency regulations and special legislations such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act PTA) should not become part of the established set of laws of the land. There is a significant difference between the imposed peace and superficial unity prevailing in authoritarian regimes and the genuine peace and unity in democratic countries, where all citizens are free to exercise their legitimate rights, including the freedom to express publicly their views on government policies and actions. The sovereignty of the people and not of the government that is supreme.

Some may argue democracy is a luxury that countries in need of speedy and widespread development cannot afford. In Sri Lanka’s case this stance is arguable, because of the bitter experiences in the past mainly due to selfish leaders. The striking instance is the creation of the exceptionally powerful Executive Presidency in 1978 and the parochial and arbitrary ways many Presidents exercised their supreme powers. National development suffered because of not only self-interest but also lack of political will to settle the pressing issues that hindered development. This has also been a tragic loss incurred by Sri Lanka since independence. Who can firmly say the political leaders in the Republic of Sri Lanka sought power for promoting national development? In fact, ‘national interest’ was not at all in the decision-making domain. Now the joint move of the government and the main opposition party to replace the Executive Presidency with an Executive Premiership is a case in point. At present no one can be Executive President for more than two terms, a restriction that upset past Executive Presidents.

On the disruptions to development, the recent observations of ‘The Economist’ in The Sunday Times column (18 July 2010) are very relevant.

(i) “Sri Lanka continues to be distracted from its priority task of economic development.

(ii) “The impact of the ethnic and language conflict was an important factor in slowing down the momentum of growth at crucial stages of the country’s economic history.

(iii) “Instead of the country buckling down to the reconstruction of the economy, settlement of the grievances of the minorities, reconstruction of the North and East, the focus was once again distracted by two elections that engaged the nation for several months. The elections over there was the imprisoning of the army general on a number of charges, victory parades, diplomatic disputes and the drama of a cabinet minister’s fast unto death to tame the Secretary General of the UN. These are hardly the actions of a country eager to develop rapidly”.

(iv) “A serious concern for economic development requires a quick resolution of the minority problem through acceptable constitutional reforms”.

The focus on issues unrelated to national development, unity, good governance, rule of law and real democracy and peace even after the end of the nationally destructive war reflect the gravity of the national problem. Moreover without genuine reconciliation, piecemeal development will be ineffective from the long-term national perspective.

Ingrained majoritarianism

Since 1956 the embedded majoritarian feature of the unitary structure has obstructed important national policy decisions and actions beneficial for fostering unity and national development. No concerted efforts were made towards ‘nation building’. Majoritarianism is sacrosanct to many Sinhala nationalists. They have considerable influence in the Sinhala polity. The two main political parties have also failed to take a joint stand on broad national issues. The difficulty the post-war government has in launching vigorously the vital reconciliation process can be attributed to the reluctance to upset the majoritarians. There is no doubt rehabilitation, reconstruction of the damaged infrastructures and development of the war-torn areas are helpful for reconciliation. But without convincing moves towards a principled and fair settlement of the political problem of the minorities, reconciliation will not be far-reaching.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP in his weblog has analysed the past failed attempts at devolution under majoritarianism (Chapter 5 Part IV July 7, 2010). In 1956 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka) in a coalition of nationalist forces dominated by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) that he established on quitting the UNP. “Though initially he (SWRD) had presented himself as the champion of the common man against the elite which had dominated Sri Lankan politics, due to the pressures of political competition his victory was seen as the triumph of Sinhala nationalism. Practically his first measure was a bill that made Sinhala the official language of the country”.

Realising the unfairness of the Sinhala only Act, Prime Minister S. W. R. D Bandaranaike negotiated a pact with S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, who was the undisputed leader of the Tamils following the rise of his Federal Party as the principal political party of the Tamil speaking people in the Northern and Eastern provinces. This upsurge was the reaction to the agonizing discrimination of the State against the minorities. “The substance of their agreement was the establishment of Regional Councils, which would exercise executive authority in many of the areas of government in provincial areas. Crucial to the agreement was the recognition that, with Sinhala the language of administration of the central government, the people of the north and east who functioned in Tamil needed an administration which functioned in their language with regard to the day to day business of government.”

The then opposition party, “UNP under J R Jayewardene vehemently opposed the pact, and tried to whip up feeling in the country against it. This strengthened the hand of the nationalists in Bandaranaike’s party. Bandaranaike weakly tore up the pact in a welter of communal violence ……. Bandaranaike was assassinated in 1959 by a Buddhist monk”. Since then the two main political parties competing for power opposed each other’s move to address the grievances of Tamil speaking people. The inviolability of the 1956 Sinhala Only Act was seen from the non-implementation of the agreement the main Tamil party (FP) reached later with Prime Minister Mrs.Bandaranaike who won the July 1960 election. This agreement was on “the reasonable use of Tamil in the provinces where it was the language of the majority”.

Subsequently, the UNP under Dudley Senanayake having failed to win a majority in the next general election formed a coalition government (1965-1970) with the support of the minority Tamil parties, the FP and TC. “Crucial to their support was the agreement to devolve power through District Councils, smaller units than the Regional Councils originally agreed on by Bandaranaike and Chelvanayakam. … Mrs Bandaranaike campaigned against the proposals and so did the General Secretary of the UNP, Cyril Mathew, who had been Jayewardene’s right hand man in his rebuilding of the UNP during the fifties. Senanayake was uncertain about Jayewardene’s attitude, with mutual suspicions developing between the two at this stage. More graciously than Bandaranaike, but equally pusillanimously, he abandoned the agreement (with the FP leader S. J. V. Chelvanayakam) in 1968”. Nevertheless, the Federal party continued to support the government that enabled it to serve the five year term. Thus in short, devolution through District Councils did not succeed.

Mrs Bandaranaike and her Marxist allies won an overwhelming majority in the 1970 parliamentary election, as a United Socialist Alliance and proceeded to adopt a new Constitution as pledged in their election manifesto. They set up a Constitutional Assembly for this purpose, but unfortunately did not take into serious consideration the views of other parties. They also ignored Tamil aspirations and concerns, and abolished Article 29 in the Soulbury Constitution (1947-1972), meant to prevent the enactment of legislations that discriminated against persons of any particular community or religion or confer on persons of any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religion.

The 1972 Republican Constitution asserted that Buddhism would have the foremost place in Sri Lanka and Section 7 declared Sinhalese to be the official language. Further, Section 9(1) made it obligatory for all laws to be enacted in Sinhalese, and Section 11(1) stated that the language of the courts and other related institutions should be Sinhalese throughout the island. The new Constitution reinforced forcefully majoritarianism. It was during this period, the media wise standardization of marks for admission to universities was introduced. This restricted severely the number of Tamil students admitted to the universities. The ethnic tension worsened instigating the disgruntled youth to join the armed conflict against the State.

The contribution of the traditional leftist parties in structuring the first Republican Constitution was a great shock to many liberal Sri Lankans. Ironically, these parties lost whatever support they had not only in the North but also in the South for different reasons. The JVP, before the breakup became the third political force in the Republic, because of its advocacy of their version of socialism under centralized system, which could also be described as anti-capitalist majoritarian.

The distressing developments in the early 1970s led to the formation of the Tamil United Front for gaining the deprived rights of the Tamil speaking people. The ethnic Tamils hoped for a favourable change when the UNP leader J.R. Jayewardene promised in his 1977 election campaign that the Tamil grievances would be addressed by the next government under his leadership. The election manifesto of the UNP too acknowledged explicitly that the Tamils have genuine grievances which need remedial actions. He also promised to summon an all-party conference to resolve these consensually. However, with the unprecedented five-sixth majority his party gained in the 1977 poll, he too got carried away by the overwhelming authority he enjoyed. Some of the horrible violent actions against the Tamils intended to intimidate them happened during the early 1980s.

The District Development Councils (DDC) set up after the joint talks with TULF leaders had even fewer powers than the District Councils agreed earlier with the coalition government led by Dudley Senanayake. Under the new scheme, the Chief Executive of the District was to be a Minister appointed by the President from amongst members of Parliament. President Jayewardene affirmed a principle of not appointing individuals from the District they were supposed to preside over, so that the District Minister for Jaffna for instance came from the Northwestern Province.

To quote directly: “The TULF negotiators had produced a dissenting report, but the party nevertheless decided to participate in the DDC election, that was held in 1981. The SLFP boycotted that election, though it was contested by the JVP, which had joined the political mainstream after Jayewardene released its leaders who had been jailed after the 1971 insurrection”. The reluctance to loosen the centralized power of the ethnic majority is evident from the following observation: “The District Development Councils might have helped to resolve some of the grievances of the Tamils, but they ran into administrative roadblocks since they were almost wholly dependent on the central administration for funds as well as implementing authority in several respects”.

The circumstances that compelled President J. R. Jayewardene to sign the Accord with India in 1987 according to which Provincial Councils with substantial powers were to be established are well known. Sri Lankan government’s foreign policy was in conflict with India’s regional interest. “This was a period when Cold War rivalries badly affected the Indian subcontinent, and some of Jayewardene’s activities had roused Indian suspicions”. The inference that India had not much interest in the details of the devolution package, especially after Sri Lanka amended her pro-American foreign policy is debatable. The then powerful militant group, the LTTE and its proxy party TULF rejected the package. The LTTE was not willing to accept any formula short of separate Tamil Eelam State, a goal rejected not only by India but also by the entire international community. India’s offer as a guarantor of the 1987 agreement was also not taken seriously.

It is not unreasonable to state, like the Sinhala majoritarians, the Tamil separatists discarded pluralism and democracy. In the former case, democracy was at any rate superficial with minorities having the right to vote but not the right to safeguard their interests, promote their welfare and shape their future. In contrast, the LTTE was firmly attached to totalitarianism. The Tamil people have paid a high price for the LTTE leader’s fantasy. This kind of delusion should not recur from any section.

The reluctance to implement in good faith the entire 13th Amendment and in particular the Provincial Council Act No. 42 of 1987 became evident from the time the first Provincial Council elections were held and the Provincial Administration started functioning. Since then the Councils functioned even without the limited powers granted legally. The Provincial Governor appointed by the Executive President had controlling powers which interfered with the implementation of important decisions of the Councils. Despite the strong opposition of the LTTE and the boycott of the elections by the TULF, the elected North-East Provincial Council soon realized the hollowness of the Provincial Council system established under the 13th Amendment, which itself was the outcome of the now defunct 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord.

The Status Report compiled by the N-E Provincial Council Chief Minister Varatharajaperumal and his team of provincial administrators observed:

“The inadequacy of the Thirteenth Amendment became very apparent over the past seven months, during which period the elected North-East Provincial Government made all attempts to implement it in practice. The experience of the North-East Provincial Government has been that even the meagre powers devolved by the Thirteenth Amendment were systematically denied by the Administration of the (central) Sri Lankan Government. The Thirteenth Amendment itself was being interpreted by the Sri Lankan side to the disadvantage of Tamils. Some of the glaring features of the Amendment are that Appendices to the Provincial List take away from the Province what had been devolved in the main text. In like manner, entries in the Concurrent List take away powers devolved by the Provincial List. The Sri Lankan Government treats the Concurrent List as its own preserve like the Reserved List.” (Quote from the late Ketheshwaran Loganathan’s book: 'Sri Lanka: Lost Opportunities, Past Attempts at Resolving Ethnic Conflict' – December 1996)

After the demerger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the current Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister has been complaining about the inability to exercise freely even the limited devolved powers. The reluctance to loosen the majoritarian grip for whatever reason is obvious. It is this factor that is critical in the search for a permanent political solution to the national problem. The ingrained majoritarianism cannot be loosened without the desired change in the mind-set of the majority of Sinhalese. So far there is no concerted effort to bring about this crucial change. On the contrary attempts are being made to persuade the non-Sinhalese to accept majoritarianism as fait accompli, perhaps from the perspective it will be compassionate and not oppressive as in the past. Unfortunately, as several observers, including the National Peace Council have pointed out the current moves are unhelpful even to promote a genuine reconciliation process. Some are seen to be aimed at consolidating the Sinhala majority rule in the ethnic minority areas.

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pic courtesy: Bharat KV

India’s role

India’s support to the Sri Lankan government in the decisive war against the LTTE ‘terrorists’ which ended in May 2009 with the annihilation of the self-proclaimed sole representatives and liberators of the Tamils subjugated by the Sinhala majoritarian State is no more a secret, although New Delhi has not disclosed the details. Apparently, the support was not unconditional. Political settlement of the conflict based on adequate devolution of powers as agreed in 1987 that resulted in the 13th Amendment was a key condition. It is in this domain of winning strategic friendship President Mahinda Rajapaksa has emerged as a shrewd leader. His vacillating stand on the political resolution of the conflict, from the time the All Party Representative Committee was set up, direct talks with Indian leaders soon after the war ended giving them the impression that 13A+ was on the cards and now his silence on the earlier proposals, except giving vague hope to those still seeking it, is baffling.

Unlike on earlier occasions, the close link with China cultivated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa has not only helped in obtaining vital assistance during the war and later for infrastructural development but also restraining India from pressurizing Sri Lanka. Unlike India, China is a permanent member with veto powers in the UN Security Council. At the same time President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not allow his cordial relationship with Indian leaders to shrink. His statement that he does not take international opinion seriously, except India’s produced a very favourable result. While declaring the need for a reasonable political settlement of the conflict in Sri Lanka, New Delhi is not at all keen on any direct involvement as in 1987.

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh advised the visiting Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians to accept the current realities in Sri Lanka, to be pragmatic, to move on, and work sincerely with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government to find an enduring political solution to the ethnic problem. According to ‘The Island’ Special Correspondent S. Venkat Narayan: "The Indians advised them to get real and drop the rhetoric and the mindset of the 1970s and 1980s. The Sri Lanka of today is very different from what it was three decades ago. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, the island’s Tamils should now unite and negotiate a pragmatic deal with President Rajapaksa. They should work with this President because he appears to be making a sincere effort to solve the ethnic problem for good."

The recent exchange of letters between Dr. Manmohan Singh and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi indicates their immediate concern now is the swift settlement of the internally displaced Tamils in their habitats in the North-East. At the same time, New Delhi is anxious to be seen as having a keen interest in the political resolution of the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Dr. Singh in his letter to Mr. Karunanidhi is reported to have said: "My government will certainly do all that it can to enable Tamils in Sri Lanka to live a life of dignity and self-respect," and sought the Chief Minister’s advice on ways to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic issue ‘once and for all’ through political agreement.

As stated at the outset, there is no clear indication about the kind of solution the Sri Lankan President has in mind given his current stand against weakening the centralized majority rule. The well-known columnist Tisaranee Gunasekara in her comments on “Governance by Delusion” has said:”The Rajapakses’ plan was to defeat the Tigers militarily, without making any political concessions to the Tamils, thereby winning the gratitude of the Sinhalese and, as a mark of that gratitude, their freely given consent for long term Familial Rule”. Only time will tell the accuracy of her assessment.

Conclusion

There is no real peace without equality and justice and no lasting unity and useful development without real peace. A State can be unitary without being majoritarian as in the APRC report, which was submitted by the chairman Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana to President Mahinda Rajapaksa several months ago. Appropriately, it means “an undivided and integrated State structure, where the State power shall be shared between the Centre and the Provinces (agreed compromise)”. This obviously entails sizeable devolution of powers to the Provinces. The report has not been released by the President and the move on July 20 by the UNP National List MP R. Yogarajan to table it in Parliament was opposed by the government. He was an active member of the APRC. The withholding act too is another bafflement considering the enormous interest taken earlier by the President and the considerable work done by the APRC and the affiliated expert committee.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka has aptly described the current uncertain situation as follows:

"Sri Lanka is today at crossroads. One road leads to reconciliation and a fresh start which enables us to integrate with Asia’s march to modernity. The other leads to a new and prolonged cycle of conflict." One thing certain about the latter is that it will not be openly destructive as the bloody war that lasted for nearly three decades. The disharmony and unrest will retard progress and prosperity. What is urgently needed now is a holistic approach from both sides of the ethnic divide to secure a promising future for Sri Lanka. Sinhala majoritarianism is not at all the correct path even for securing a promising future for the ethnic Sinhalese. The approach taken by the APRC, though the TNA did not participate in the deliberations, in formulating the set of proposals for constitutional reform is holistic as seen from the available reports.

[The writer is Former Additional Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Sri Lanka and UN Advisor, Development Economics/Planning]

From President Ltd to Executive PM unlimited

by Rajan Philips

Constitutional impatience is the name of the game. Three weeks ago the move was to rescind Article 31 (2) to allow the incumbent president to go beyond two terms in office. That plan seems to have gone astray just like other best-laid plans of mice and men.

MRTC723.jpg

Presidential Election campaign poster

Now the goal has been ostensibly downsized – from President Limited to Executive Prime Minister Unlimited. The UNP Opposition is ready to support changing the constitution to transform the President into an Executive Prime Minister, but not to extend the presidential tenure beyond two terms.

The President has met with the Leader of the Opposition, one on one, and with their retinues. The banns have been announced for a marriage with no chance of consummation, but with the possibility of another set of defections from the UNP. Everything is predictable in Sri Lankan politics but nothing bears a positive outcome.

The gullible have hailed it as constitutional reconciliation, but for others it is the kind of you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours deal to extend Rajapakse’s hold on power and keep Ranil’s backside on the Opposition seat for ever. It will also help Mr. Wickremasinghe stem the calls for reforms within the UNP and maintain his leader-for-life status. At least they are signs of life in the UNP. The SLFP appears to have gone into extended hibernation, ceding control to the first family.

Charles de Gaulle, France’s most famous General and President, was reportedly fond of playing Patience, the card game. He showed great patience going into early political retirement in 1948, unhappy over the Fourth Republic and sitting out for ten years before returning to found the Fifth Republic. The French people whom he had liberated from Nazi occupation gave him a second opportunity in 1958 to implement what he claimed to have always had: ‘a certain idea of France’. The presidential system de Gaulle created became the Gaullist system, and apparently was a model for Sri Lanka’s current constitution that J.R. Jayewardene produced in 1978.

JR was no de Gaulle, and Sri Lanka did not have any of the background or circumstances that France had to justify a constitutional change from the British parliamentary system to a presidential and parliamentary admixture. However, JR had his ‘certain idea of Sri Lanka’ and did exercise tremendous patience in his political life, waiting till he was seventy to win the highest political prize. What was good for JR has certainly been not good for Sri Lanka. Once in power, JR showed little patience. His own constitution was not fast enough or expedient enough for him. So he began amending it, left, right and centre. From political patience, JR lapsed into constitutional impatience.

The impatience game continues. Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapakse opposed JR’s constitution when it was enacted and adopted by parliament, and they vowed to change it – in fact, abolish the presidential system itself. Ms. Kumaratunga did little with any purpose to deliver on her promise, while Mr. Rajapakse has done even less. Instead, they have exploited the vices of the Jayewardene constitution to their own advantage, and have done less than nothing to use whatever of its virtues. They too have been impatient to make changes not for any higher purpose or greater good of the country but to extend and entrench their stay in power in the name of political stability. How impatient can one be for stability?

Problems and uncertainties

The prospect of an Executive Prime Minister is fraught with uncertainties if not the certainty of unintended problems. Even as a concept it has problems. What does it mean to have an Executive PM? Does it mean transferring to the new PM the powers now exercised by the President? There will not be a problem in transferring powers now exercised by the President as Head of Government, such as selecting the cabinet, assigning portfolios, and overseeing cabinet responsibility for all government activities. These powers were exercised by Sri Lankan Prime Ministers until 1978.

What they did not exercise were the powers associated with the Head of State, such as the power to summon or dissolve parliament, approve legislation, appoint judges and independent commissioners, send and receive ambassadors, declare emergency, declare war and to be Commander in Chief. These powers were exercised by the Governor General and later by the non-Executive President. The 1978 Constitution invested both powers in the elected President.

Separating the Head of State from the Head of Government belongs to the British tradition of combining the monarchy with representative cabinet government, although the Queen almost always acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. “The people, said Jennings, “can cheer the Queen and damn the government”. The alternative would be to have an elected Head of State, either by the country at large, as in the US and in France, or through a system of electoral college (comprised of Members of the two Houses of Parliament and State Assemblies) such as in India. The Indian system is the republican version of the British parliamentary model.

The 2000 Constitutional Proposals of Chandrika Kumaratunga to abolish the current presidential system provided for separating the Head of State (President) and Head of Government (Prime Minister) as in India. The anomaly of having a Prime Minister as Head of State and Head of Government is in the vesting in one member of parliament the supreme powers of the state. One constituency or electorate would have the privilege of having as its MP, the Head of State and the Head of Government. If on the other hand, the Executive Prime Minister is to be elected at large that would create the opposite anomaly of turning someone elected by the whole country into an ordinary MP.

The Prime Minister in the traditional parliamentary system is considered to be ‘first among equals’ – not only in the cabinet, as it is usually meant, but also in the whole parliament. An Executive Prime Minister is neither here nor there, if not being first among unequals. The notion of equality presupposes some quality among the ministers and members of parliament, and one that is terribly lacking in the Sri Lankan parliament and among its cabinet of Ministers.

Nihal Jayawickrama in a recent article alluded to the absence of talent among Sri Lankan ministers starting from 1994. Wiswa Warnpala has earlier written about the poor educational and professional qualifications of the Sri Lankan parliamentarians compared to their Indian counterparts. Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapakse may have tried to compensate for this talent deficiency by assigning themselves all the important portfolios. We know where that approach has taken us. Or, do we?

In 1978, J.R. Jayewardene had ‘a certain idea of Sri Lanka’ and wanted a constitutional instrument to implement it. Filial succession was not a part of JR’s idea. The current clamour for an Executive Prime Minister is nothing but a cruder manifestation of the compulsions that led to the Executive Presidency in 1978. In fact, it is really an attempt to circumvent Article 31 (2) and open the way for the incumbent to remain in power until, as has been suggested in some circles, the President’s son is ready to succeed. Unlike JR, his successors have no idea of what they are doing.

How Mrs. Bandaranaike became Prime Minister in 1960

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Fifty years ago on 21 July 1960, Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was sworn in as Prime Minister of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known then). The 44-year-old widow of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike made history on that day as the world’s first woman Prime Minister.

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[clicl to continue reading in full on ~ dbsjeyaraj.com]

Running with the UN rabbits and hunting with govt hounds

By Kusal Perera

On 11 July 2010, the Sinhala edition of Sunday “Lakbima” reported that minister of Heritage and Cultural Affairs, Ms. Pavithra Wanniarachchi appointed the Public Performance Board (PPB), better known as the "Censor Board" and advised them to be “honest and independent”.

No qualms about the ministerial advice or request, though one could have strong and hard reservations on some of the names in the list of appointees, as members of the PPB.

Right on top is the name, Mohan Samaranayake.

Samaranayake has the habit of keeping his official position with the Colombo UN office very much under played, when it comes to enjoying local “State” patronage. He took self pride in making comments and sitting in programmes to canvas support for both Chandrika and Mahinda regimes, in his own vile and stupid way. His political allegiance or stooging to this Rajapaksa regime is now proved beyond doubt with this appointment to the PPB.

With this appointment, there is a huge issue on his loyalty and credibility now, as the “Communication Officer” of the UN office in Colombo. He is a paid employee of the UN office. He has been that for over 12 years, as far as I know.

Can a paid employee of UN, serve this government on a Statutory Board ? What of ethics and morals ? What of conflict of interest ?

Samaranayake is quoted in many news wires over the Weerawansa fast against the UN Secretary General and his advisory panel on Sri Lanka. Where will his loyalty, his allegiance be ? With the UN or with the Rajapaksa regime ?

This is how independent and credible Samaranayake is -

The Inner City Press said -

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- A day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was burned in effigy in Sri Lanka, on his way into the UN Security Council, he stopped to greet the Press. Inevitably, Inner City Press asked him what he was going to do about the taking hostage of UN staff in Colombo and the closure of the UN facility today.

There it is. The UN facility in Colombo was closed due to Weerawansa's fast and the protest that threatened to keep the staff as hostage.

What does Samaranayake tell the “Nation” news paper of July 11?

He (Samaranayake) emphasised that the closure of the UNDP Regional Office in Colombo had nothing to do with the death fast.

He is both, stooging for the government and misinforming the public, a serious lapse in his responsibility as the Communication Officer of the UN Colombo office. Samaranayake has either to work for the UN Colombo office, where he is a paid employee, or resign and start his own “laundrymart” for the Rajapaksa government.

Either way, this is the type that can not be trusted and the Ministerial advice for honesty and independence........well, why bother about rhetoric by politicians ? They know well, how best their stooges perform for public consumption.

International Court of Justice rules in favour of Kosovo independence

VUK JEREMIC, Serbia's foreign minister, looked ashen. He knew what was coming. Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia did not violate general international law, said Hisashi Owada, the president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, in a non-binding advisory opinion. Ten judges voted in favour of this ruling, with four against. Serbia's strategy of attempting to outmanoeuvre its former secessionist province through the international court lay in ruins.

In Pristina, Kosovo's capital, cars began hooting in celebration. Cheers erupted from bars and cafes, where people had gathered to watch the judge deliver the court's opinion. Shkelzen Maliqi, a well-known intellectual and commentator, summed up what most Kosovars were thinking: "Perfect. Who would have expected such a clear answer?" In Belgrade there seemed no room for doubt either. "It was a classic knockout," said Braca Grubacic, an analyst. "I don't know how the government can get out of this."

To date 69 countries have recognised Kosovo's independence, including the US and 22 of the 27 EU member states. But Russia, China, Brazil, India and many other important countries have refused to follow suit. Whether a flood of new recognitions will follow today's ruling remains to be seen, but would not be surprising. It is, however, unlikely that China, with its eyes on Taiwan and Tibet, Russia, with its problems in Chechnya, and other countries in the world with secessionist movements will recognise Kosovo any time soon.

Of Kosovo's 2m people, 90% are ethnic Albanians who would rather fight than see a return of Serbian rule. In 1998 a guerrilla movement, the Kosovo Liberation Army, took up arms to fight the Serbs. In 1999 NATO launched a 78-day bombing campaign which saw the expulsion of Serbian forces from all of Kosovo and Serbian rule from all but Serb areas. From then until February 2008 Kosovo came under UN administration.

Serbia contends that Kosovo, as a Serbian province rather than a republic of the former Yugoslavia, did not have the right to self-determination. On the eve of the court's ruling Mr Jeremic, the architect of the strategy of taking the question to the ICJ, said that if the court came out in favour of Kosovo, "no border in the world in the world would ever be secure".

The court had been widely expected to give an ambiguous answer. The fact that the opinion is heavily in Kosovo's favour leaves open the question of what Serbia will do now. It had planned to go to the General Assembly of the UN to demand new talks. Now that plan appears in jeopardy, if not doomed. The EU, however, has been planning talks between Kosovo and Serbia on technical matters.

Serbia's government will be rocked by this result. The Serbian Orthodox Church has called for bells to be rung out this afternoon and a protest rally has been called by Serbs in the divided northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica. In the last few weeks there have been three violent incidents there, resulting in one death. Mitrovica's Serbs have been preparing an armed response in case jubilant Albanians try to cross the river Ibar, which divides the city. In the wake of the opinion helicopters from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo have been circling above the city.

In the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Visoki Decani in western Kosovo, Father Sava warns that he fears for the church's security. In the last few weeks he says Albanian teenagers have thrown stones at the monastery and hurled insults at the monks in a way reminiscent of the run-up to anti-Serbian riots in 2004. "We are in serious danger because we are seen as a symbol of Serbia, even though we are not acting politically," he says.

The monastery lies in the heartland of support for Ramush Haradinaj, Kosovo's former prime minister and leader of the main opposition party. Mr Haradinaj was acquitted of war crimes by the UN's war crimes tribunal in 2008, but yesterday was rearrested because the appeals chamber found his trial to have been marred by witness intimidation. The arrest leaves the way clear for Hashim Thaci, the prime minister, to move at a time of his own convenience towards elections, which he is likely to win now that the opposition has been effectively decapitated.

Serbia's president, Boris Tadic, is due to address the nation. Mr Jeremic has declared that the struggle will continue. Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, jubilantly declared: "God bless Kosovo!" But after the party Kosovo will remain one of the poorest parts of Europe, a country that does not control all of its territory and one that is riddled with corruption. Until now, Kosovo's leaders have been able to blame Serbian intransigence for their failure to implement reforms and improve living standards. That excuse will now lose some of its potency, especially if more countries recognise the state.

Serbia too faces problems. Its EU accession process has slowed of late. As Mr Grubacic points out, Mr Tadic had promised Serbs both the EU and Kosovo. Now neither looks likely. Yet while Serbia's EU bid may be stymied for now, it is certainly not dead. Dreams of Kosovo are another story.

COURTESY:THE ECONOMIST

Kosovo's independence From Serbia and Implications for Separatist Movements

By Peter Beaumont

Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 did not violate international law, said the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday in a groundbreaking ruling that could have far-reaching implications for separatist movements around the world, as well as for Belgrade's stalled EU membership talks.

The long-awaited ruling — which the court took up after a complaint to the U.N. from Serbia — is now likely to lead to more countries recognising Kosovo's independence and move Pristina closer to entry into the U.N. Kosovo's statehood is backed by 69 countries but it requires over 100 before it can join the U.N.

Announcing the decision, the Court of Justice President, Hisashi Owada, said international law contains no “prohibition on declarations of independence”.
Though both Belgrade and Pristina had said they were confident of a ruling in their favour, speculation began to emerge a few hours before announcement in the Hague that the decision — which is not legally binding — had gone Kosovo's way.

Key considerations that the U.N.'s top court examined — arising out of dozens of submissions by U.N. member-states as well as by Kosovo's own leadership — have focused on issues of sovereignty, the slim volume of precedent in international law, and how formerly large states such as the USSR broke up along administrative borders.

Serbia has continued to demand Kosovo be returned, arguing it has been the cradle of their civilisation and national identity since 1389, when a Christian army led by Serbian Prince Lazar lost an epic battle to invading Ottoman forces.

The ruling is expected to have profound ramifications on the wider international stage, bolstering demands for recognition by territories as diverse as Northern Cyprus, Somaliland, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria.

Kosovo sparked sharp debate worldwide when it seceded from Serbia in 2008, following the bloody 1998-99 war and almost a decade of international administration. The 1998-99 war, triggered by a brutal crackdown by Serb forces against Kosovo's separatist ethnic Albanians, left about 10,000 ethnic Albanians dead before ending after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign. Hundreds of Serbs were also killed in retaliatory attacks

Courtesy: Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

Independence of Tamil Studies and Politics of Tamil Conferences

By Noboru Karashima

The World Classical Tamil Conference that was held in Coimbatore last month attracted lakhs of people, according to reports. The International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), which is an older academic organisation of international scholars and of which I am President, kept its independence from this Conference. I will explain here the reasons for this and also contemplate the future of the IATR and Tamil studies in general.

Circumstances that led to the formation of the World Classical Tamil Conference

In September 2009, I was informed that the Tamil Nadu government had decided to hold the 9th session of the IATR conference in January 2010 in Coimbatore.

I was greatly surprised as I had not been consulted on this matter. For accepting the government's kind offer to sponsor our 9th Conference, I put forth the following as conditions.

1) A period of at least one year to organise the conference, as I felt it was impossible to organise any big international academic conference within four months. The earliest possible date of the Conference, I said, could be December 2010 or January 2011.

2) The clear demarcation of the academic sessions of the IATR conference from the political events and programmes associated with it.

3) The release for distribution by the Government of the five-volume Proceedings of the 8th IATR Conference held in 1995 in Thanjavur sponsored by the then State Government. These had been ready for distribution in 2005, but had been kept in the Tamil University despite repeated requests for their release to the present Government.

In response, the State Government postponed the Conference from January 2010 to June 2010, and accepted my second and third points. I was strongly urged to accept this offer, as the Government could not put off the date later than June 2010 in view of the expected State Assembly election.

I however held to the position that the conference should not be held earlier than December 2010. Incidentally, in the case of the 14th World Sanskrit Conference that was successfully held in Japan in September 2009, the first circular was issued two years before the conference.

Having consulted many internationally reputed scholars in various countries on this matter and having secured their support, I sent my final answer to the Government in the negative — with a statement, however, that the Government could hold any Tamil Conference of its own, if it did not involve IATR. Accordingly, the Government decided to hold its own conference, the World Classical Tamil Conference, in June 2010 in Coimbatore.

History of the IATR and past conferences

The IATR was established by some eminent scholars who were deeply concerned about the development of Tamil studies on the occasion of the 26th International Congress of Orientalists held in New Delhi in 1964. The first IATR Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur in 1966, and the second in 1968 in Madras.

The 1960s witnessed the culmination and triumph of the Dravidian Movement, and the government headed by C.N. Annadurai of the DMK was voted to power in 1967 — just before the IATR conference in Madras.

It was quite natural that the Madras conference turned out to be a massive political celebration of the victory of the Dravidian Movement, though the conference showed its strength academically too. Therefore, the political statement made by this academic conference was understandable and probably permissible, although politics cast a shadow over the following conferences held in Tamil Nadu.

The 5th Conference held again in Tamil Nadu in 1981 in Madurai, under the sponsorship of the AIADMK Government, became a political show again as the government made it a platform for the forthcoming elections.

The 6th Conference, which was held in Kuala Lumpur in 1987, was equally affected by regional politics, as it was attended by a large group of Tamil Nadu politicians.

Although I was absent from the 7th Conference held in Moka in Mauritius in 1989, I was elected President of IATR on that occasion. I therefore organised the 8th Conference held in Thanjavur in 1995 with the sponsorship offered by the Tamil Nadu Government. Although I tried my best to separate the academic session from the political programme, two lakh persons attended the closing ceremony held in the stadium.

Moreover, the conference was spoiled by the deportation of some Sri Lankan scholars. Though I sent a letter of protest to the then Chief Minister asking for an explanation, I did not receive a reply.

Historical role of IATR

The Dravidian Movement, or the Non-Brahmin movement as it was called, arose in the 1910s spearheaded by the Justice Party. Language became the focus of the movement by the late 1930s, and great emphasis was placed on the economic and political struggle by the South (Dravidian) power against the North (Aryan) power. The movement demanded the overturning of the North/Aryan ‘oppression' of the South/Dravidian.

From the 1970s, however, the situation changed in accordance with the changes in caste society and the gradual economic growth of the South. The Dravidian Movement could be said to have fulfilled its historical role to a certain extent. From the 1980s, we see a shift in the aims of the movement. The political mobilisations by the DMK and AIADMK, and their appeals to the regional sentiments of the Tamil people, were primarily aimed at the expansion of their political vote base.

The Proceedings volumes of the 8th IATR Conference held in Thanjavur in 1995 still remain in Tamil University without distribution. The World Classical Tamil Conference was the best opportunity for their distribution. In the Preface (of the Proceedings), I have suggested that IATR should change its structure, free its conferences from politics, and respond to new academic trends.

It is true that IATR had not been able to conduct the 9th Conference since 1995. However, it is important to note that IATR originally planned to hold the 8th Conference in London in 1992, but as that did not materialise, it recommended in Thanjavur in 1995 the U.K., U.S.A. or South Africa as the venue for the 9th Conference.

However, none of the IATR national units of these countries came forward to invite IATR to hold the conference; they were daunted perhaps by the inevitable political overtones that enter the conferences.

As for new trends in research, the “Tamil Studies Conference” organised by the University of Toronto has held its fifth conference, although on a much smaller scale, in May 2010. Some workshops and seminars on specific areas have been held in various places in the last ten years.

I do not deny the advantages of large conferences, provided they are free from politics. However, the time has come now for small-scale workshops and seminars for comparative studies with other fields, instead of big conferences covering all aspects of Tamil studies.

Renaissance for Tamil Studies?

The time has come for the IATR to assume a new avatar. It has completed its historical role by making people realise the importance of Tamil studies, just as the Dravidian Movement did in respect of its original objectives. A new IATR must now be created to function as a real academic body.

My only satisfaction as President of IATR and a lover of the Tamil people and culture who has devoted his life to Tamil studies is the conviction that IATR has defended its academic freedom by keeping its independence from the government-organised and politically oriented conference held last month in Coimbatore.

However, IATR must be resurrected in a new way. Its renaissance rests on the shoulders of young and sincere scholars of Tamil studies.

(Noboru Karashima is the President of the International Association of Tamil Research and Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo.)

July 22, 2010

Sri Lankan envoy in Tel Aviv supports war agaianst Palestine by Israel

By David Negev

Sri Lankan ambassador: We back Israel's war on terror

Donald Perera, who served as Sri Lankan chief of staff during offensive that ended in Tamil rebels' surrender after more than 30 years, is enjoying a change of pace in Israel. In interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, he recalls seeing body of rebel leader Prabhakaran, says IDF needs public's support to successfully eradicate terror. 'Citizens must realize struggle will exact a heavy price,' he adds

Donald Perera saw the blood-soaked stretcher carrying the body of Velupillai Prabhakaran being transported through the jungle, but he was not calm. Air Chief Marshal Perera, the Sri Lankan chief of staff at the time, had been chasing after the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels who had terrorized his country for over 30 years. He wanted to make certain that the lifeless body in front of him was indeed that of his long-time adversary.

"I asked to see his personal gun," recalls Perera. "I knew precisely what type of gun he was carrying, as well as its serial number. Only when I saw the number 001 did I realize that he had finally been taken out. I drove home, took off my uniform and told myself that now I can retire."

Perera, 60, has since been appointed Sri Lanka's ambassador to Israel. His wife, a military dentist, and his daughter, a university student, remained in Sri Lanka.

"I was familiar with Israel before coming here," he tells the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. "In the framework of my previous positions as air force commander and chief of staff, I had a great relationship with your military industries and with Israel Aerospace Industries.

"For years Israel has aided our war on terror through the exchange of information and the sale of military technology and equipment," says Perera.

"Our air force fleet includes 17 Kfir warplanes, and we also have Dabur patrol boats. Our pilots were trained in Israel, and we have received billions of dollars in aid over the past few years. This is why I asked to be assigned to Israel – a country I consider a partner in the war against terror. Many Sri Lankans admire Israel," says Perera, a native of the capital Colombo.

As chief of staff, Perera commanded over 240,000 soldiers. His greatest challenge was to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, who since 1976 had fought to establish an independent Tamil homeland.

Guerilla forces led by rebel leader Prabhakaran eventually took over east as well as north Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers was one of the first organizations to resort to suicide bombings. "They carried out attacks against soldiers, civilians, army officers, ministers, army bases, public buildings, planes and trains. Over the years they became more advanced and formed a naval and aerial force as well. At the height of its power, the organization's guerilla force numbered some 35,000 fighters," according to Perera.

Some of Perera's close associates were killed in these attacks, others were left handicapped. Perera was also targeted by the rebels. "I was supposed to fly a cargo plane from one of the air force bases. The plane was carrying dozens of military personnel. During take off I suddenly felt a strong thump. I brought the plane to a halt, and when I got off to see what had happened I found an RPG launcher that was used to fire a rocket at the aircraft. Luckily, it passed right by me," Perera says.

Since the incident, Perera changed his daily routine. "My army-issued vehicle would be part of a military convoy while I was driving my private car, wearing civilian clothes over my army fatigues," he says.

The Tamil terror became more and more extreme, culminating with assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Perera was appointed chief of staff in 2006, just as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa decided to eradicate Tamil terrorism once and for all.

"We purchased military equipment from Pakistan, China, the US, Russia and of course Israel. The president told the nation we were headed for an uncompromising war. He explained that the price will be heavy, but called on the citizens to be patient and rally around the army. Then we got the green light to move with full force against the rebels," the ambassador recalls.

After rebel forces attempted to take over an important port in east Sri Lanka, Perera gave the order, and large army forces began pouring into the region while pushing the rebels northward. Some 7,000 people, including many army personnel, were killed during 11 months of fighting, he says.

"The victim's families understood we were fighting for an important cause – the future of their country," Perera says during the interview, conducted at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Tel Aviv. "The opposition tried to persuade the citizens not to enlist in the army or support it, but it convinced no one. Everyone knew this struggle was important and that it would exact a heavy price, but after so many years of terror they were willing to pay the price."

Prabhakaran was killed on May 16, and a day later the LTTE announced its surrender. The 30-year battle against the Tamil Tigers claimed the lives of some 70,000 Sri Lankan citizens.

After noting the similarities between the Tamil Tigers and Hamas, Perera says Sri Lanka is a staunch supporter of Israel's fight against Palestinian terror. "No one wants bloodshed. The other side (Palestinians) should be offered direct negotiations, without preconditions, to determine its level of seriousness. These talks should focus on trying to reach a compromise that would allow both sides to sign an agreement," he says.

"In case the other side shows it is not interested in a compromise, (Israel) must move on to the military phase with full force. (The government) will have to explain to the citizens that (Israel) is headed for a long and difficult struggle that will exact a heavy price, but at the end of this struggle the country's situation will be much better," says the ambassador.

"Once you have the public's support, you should fight relentlessly until all of the terror hubs are destroyed. There is no going back."

Addressing the deadly May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship, Perera says, "As a military man I can understand that Israel had to protect itself. Due to Sri Lanka's vast experience in fighting terror, I can say that it will always support countries that also oppose (terror)."

Despite its warm relations with Israel, Sri Lanka has also managed to maintain close ties with the Jewish state's biggest threat – Iran. "Sri Lanka is a developing nation in need of assistance. Iran helps us in the civilian realm," he says. "As to the sanctions imposed on (Tehran), these things should be discussed in the different forums. The Sri Lankan government is in favor of imposing military – not civilian – sanctions."

Perera, who has already visited Jerusalem, Eilat, Haifa, Netanya and Jaffa, says life in Israel suits him just fine. "The people here are very warm, open and easy-going, but on the other hand they are successful in many fields, such as technology, agriculture and education.

Some 5,000 Sri Lankan nationals are currently working in Israel. "We rarely receive any complaints from them," says the ambassador. "They like working here."

Perera's wife and daughter are expected to join him in Israel in the coming months. "When they arrive, we will travel throughout the entire country. In the meantime, I recommend that Israelis visit Sri Lanka. We'll accept you with open arms."

Courtesy: Ynetnews

July 21, 2010

Mrs. Bandaranaike: The world’s first woman Prime Minister

by D.B. S. Jeyaraj

Hello Friends

Today July 21st is the 50th anniversary of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike becoming Prime Minister of Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon. Needless to say she made history then as the world's first woman prime minister and put the Island nation on the global map.

I thought of remembering on this historically important date this remarkable woman who made a lasting impact on the fate of her country. [Click to read in full on ~ dbsjeyaraj.com]

'Reconciliation is a long-term process, could take more than a generation to be achieved'

by IRIN

Prospects for reconciliation in Sri Lanka

The defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan army last year and an overwhelming election victory by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) could provide an opportunity for reconciliation.

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Now is the time to look forward according to the Sri Lankan Government ~ Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/IRIN

Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has experienced communal tension and later, civil war, between the majority Sinhalese (74 percent) and country’s minority Tamil (8 percent) community.

Tamils have long complained of marginalisation by successive Sinhalese- dominated governments, particularly with regard to poor access to education and limited opportunities in the public service.

Such complaints – coupled with other underlying ethnic tensions — would later spark a decades-long civil war that only ended on 18 May 2009.

Mirak Raheem from the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), an independent think-tank in Colombo, believes that with rebuilding under way, now is the time to find a solution to years of ethnic tension.

“We can really focus on the plural nature of the Sri Lankan State and build on that. I think in this present moment we have the space to decide and define what Sri Lanka should really be,” he said.

For its part, the government has opened dialogue with the opposition Tamil National Alliance.

Moreover, President Mahinda Rajapaksa says he wants to “be the leader who brings permanent peace and development to this country and reconciliation with Tamil communities”.

Challenges

However, Alan Keenan from the International Crisis Group (ICG) says despite the rhetoric, most decisions are still made in Colombo and by Sinhalese politicians and the military.

“While the president and officials promised to reach out to them [the Tamils] in a meaningful way, they really haven’t. There has been no real consultation on the development or reconstruction of the north,” Keenan said.

The government has defended its development and resettlement programme, with Rajiva Wijesinha, a member of parliament, saying: “Education and health facilities are back to what they were before the war; in fact, better in some areas.”

The government has also established language and employment policies designed to assist in integration and overcome the alienation that led to much of the civil unrest, Wijesinha told IRIN.

Moreover, it has established a Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (CLLR), with a mandate to examine what led to the breakdown of a ceasefire in 2002 and all activities that followed until the end of hostilities in 2009.

War crimes allegations

Despite that, a major sticking point, according to international observers, is the government’s unwillingness to investigate alleged war crimes and human rights abuses committed by both sides during the final stages of the war.

In a report in May, the ICG said that it had collected evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military, which sparked calls for an international inquiry.

In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a panel of experts to look into the progress the government had made since May 2009 in addressing alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict and to recommend ways the government and the United Nations could better support this process - a move the government has rejected.

Ban “remains convinced that accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Through the panel the Secretary-General expects to enable the UN to make a constructive contribution in this regard,” a statement by his office said on 22 June.

In early July, Sri Lanka protesters burnt effigies of Ban outside the UN compound in Colombo and a cabinet member went on a hunger strike in response to the UN Secretary General's comments.

According to Wijesinha, the international community should now focus on the future rather than the past.

“I think the biggest challenge is the idea that reconciliation is all about the past, about war crimes and possible punishment for these,” he said.

“Sadly, some claim that reconciliation is impossible without reckonings, which I think takes attention away from all the positive actions that are happening.”

Peace researcher Norbert Ropers, who has worked in the island nation for years, believes reconciliation is a long-term process, which could take more than a generation to be achieved.

“Each society has to find its own way to integrate the past into its vision for a just and peaceful future while respecting international humanitarian and human rights standards and the need for accountability,” he said.

The CPA’s Raheem argues there is still a lack of trust among all parties but a convincing electoral win by the government last year could empower the president to take the “courageous steps” required to build harmony.

“Civil society organisations and NGOs - they’re still nervous taking on that kind of issue or holding public discussions. The key actor who can really open up that space is the government but [it] too [is] nervous,” said Raheem.

“There’s a tendency to characterise reconciliation as being between the state and Tamil community or the Sinhalese or the Muslims, but it is also something that must be done within each of these communities too,” he added.

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Neil Buhne

UN hopeful

“The government has reached out to different Tamil political parties for their ideas on how to improve the process of rebuilding and the reconciliation process. There also is a need for explicit activities to build confidence and trust, including emotional and spiritual healing,” Neil Buhne, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka, told IRIN.

“I am hopeful these needs can be met. If they are, the peace and prospects for prosperity that Sri Lanka now has gained at high cost [are] more likely to last,” he said.

IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but its services are editorially independent.

July 20, 2010

Lessons of Srebrenica: How the 15th Anniversary of Srebenica Can Guide Sri Lanka

by Grace Williams

On the 15th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, President Obama has led the way in reminding the world that the lessons of Srebrenica must continue to guide our moral compass.

He has reminded us that "the name Srebrenica has since served as a stark reminder of the need for the world to respond resolutely in the face of evil." But more so, he has reminded us that after great atrocities, we still have a great duty to foster peace and reconciliation. No place can the duty to help pursue justice and build peace be greater than in a fractured Sri Lanka struggling to recover from war.

It has been a little over a year since Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war ended following a period of intense fighting. According to Human Rights Watch, over 80,000 people died in the conflict, many thousands of whom were unarmed civilians seeking refuge in safe-zones. The conflict in Sri Lanka has no easy answers. There are no heroes, only deeply entrenched beliefs on all sides. But when UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed an international panel to help investigate war crimes to overcome the past, the Rajapaksa government chose to respond by allowing a member of their government to lead a violent protest against the UN office in Colombo and incite public sentiment against "outsiders."

It should be of great concern how quickly the protest against the UN turned hostile. Such sentiments are easily corrupted and turned toward other purposes. The intolerant tone being set by the Sri Lankan government is poisoning what should be a period of national reconciliation. President Rajapaksa continues to govern through emergency law. He continues to police with the military. He has reinforced the belief that the Tamil population should be feared while living in fear, and should be mistrusted as unredeemable, ethnically-defined terrorists. During his presidency, he has fed Sri Lankan society a steady diet of suspicion for "the other." The Tamil civilian population still has little option but to accept their poor lot with no meaningful representation; no means of defending their political, economic, or human rights; and no hope for a future that looks any different from the past 60 years.

When Samantha Power, President Obama's director of multilateral affairs and a champion of justice and reconciliation, recently visited Sri Lanka, the Rajapaksa government sold it as an endorsement of their counterterrorism strategy. They hide behind counterterrorism measures to explain away the deaths of as many as 40,000 civilians during the final years of the fighting--never mind that such explanations do not explain the decades of official, systematic oppression of the Tamil people that long preceded the rise of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Now that the LTTE has been wiped out, the Rajapaksa plan seems to be to go back to the way things were before: a Sri Lanka where Tamils have no real space to genuinely participate in the political system and no means to redress this exclusion.

The LTTE, as self-appointed leaders of the Sri Lankan Tamil community, wrote a history that has made it easy for the myth that all Tamils are supporters of terrorism to be propagated. Likewise has it then been easy for the Sri Lankan government to justify the brutal campaign to put the LTTE down once and for all, no matter the cost in civilian blood. There is no moral victory when the consequences to our humanity are so great and so many are left living in fear. A war on terror that does not resolve the landscape from which terror was born can provide only hollow and fleeting victory.

The Tamils have the capacity to rebuild themselves into the peaceful and prosperous community they were for so many centuries before the war began--but not while they remain a community under siege. Traditional lands have begun to be sold off, Tamils were unable to exercise their right to vote for new leadership because hundreds of thousands of Tamils were still in government-run camps during the hastily-organized election, Tamil religious beliefs are being challenged, and traditional sources of livelihood are being contracted out to foreign investors while the right of return remains uncertain. There is no justice for crimes committed against civilians, and there is no justice for those who stand accused without representation.

The challenge of bringing justice to Sri Lanka is significant. But only when all factions of Sri Lanka's civilian population have the chance to confront the atrocities they were party to with their mutual silence can the island begin to define its future.

And in an odd way, there is hope in Srebrenica. Fifteen years ago, the Serbs stood condemned by the world as brutal killers. Today a new generation of Serbs sits over a vibrant young democracy, their redemption championed by the United States. It was no more true that the Serbs were a "people of killers" than it is true of the Tamils, but it was certainly no less difficult for the US to stand up for their rights.

The lessons of Srebrenica are many, but beyond "never again" they point to the complexity -- but great rewards -- of building peace and democracy from ethnic strife. Now is the moment when the history of Sri Lanka could change, but in Sri Lanka there are no voices to speak up for what is right, and no space in which the truth can be spoken. The recent actions of the Sri Lankan government have dispelled any faith that this is the path they will pursue. As the lessons of Srebrenica are remembered and measured, the need to build peace in Sri Lanka, to bring inclusive democracy to Sri Lanka, to help Sri Lanka find heroes again, and to once again remind neighbors of their mutual humanity should not be overlooked. ~ courtesy: The Huffington Post ~

Grace Williams is a member of the Tamil American Peace Initiative, a group of Tamil Americans formed to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy, and good governance to Sri Lanka. She is a specialist in healthcare for women and children with special needs and disabilities.

How Sri Lanka can get opinion on UN Panel from International Court of Justice

By Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe

With reference to my Article my colleagues have asked me to explain how an Advisory opinion could be sought from the International Court of Justice (I.C.J.) when its jurisdiction to issue such opinions excludes requests made by States and includes, roughly, only fourteen U.N. bodies.

This indeed is an important question and I must apologize for not being terribly clear in my writing. Therefore this explanation.

It is correct that “Advisory opinions” as an international law concept could only be sought by one of the named U.N. bodies. Such opinions by definition are non-binding and are devoid of sanctions listed in Chapter VII from Articles 41 onwards under that Chapter. This is necessary for obvious reasons that one U.N Body cannot seek the help of the Security Council under that chapter to virtually sanction itself.Coming to our problem we begin with the Advisory opinion rendered by the I.C.J in the Reparation for injuries suffered in the Service of the United Nations ( 1949) and the several cases that have followed it.

There the I.C.J gave the United Nations Organization an international legal identity as a body possessing “ a large measure of legal personality and the capacity to operate upon the international plane. It followed that the organization had the capacity to bring a claim and to give it the character of an international action for reparation for the damage that had been done to it.

The Court further declared that the organization can claim reparation not only in respect of damage caused to itself , but also in respect of damage suffered by the victim or persons entitled through him”.( I.C.J. – U.N. Report at page 35). These features posits upon the U.N. Organization a legal personality in the nature of which it becomes co-terminus with that of the legal personality of any Sovereign State.

Having arrived at that conclusion it is important to note that the I.C.J. has what is described as “ contentious jurisdiction” to hear disputes between states conceptualized as “ contentious matters”. Our problem as to the powers of the Secretary- General to appoint an international panel with a specific mandate, where the functions of which may or may not involve an investigation into the internal affairs of a member state is clearly a “contentious case” raising a “contentious issue” to be brought before the I.C.J under its “ contentious jurisdiction”.

In any proceedings before the I.C.J it is seems quite meaningless to obtain a binding order. Binding Orders attract sanctions and to sanction the U.N. Organization would be an arid exercise. What we need is a non- binding finding from the I.C.J. in the form of a declaration. That means a “ declaratory order as opposed to a mandatory judgment” .
Schwarzenberger ( G ) in his Manual of International Law ( 5th Edn) at page 251 wrote: “While Under the Charter and the Court’s Statute, States alone may be parties to contentious proceedings before the court, only international institutions or organs of such institutions may request advisory opinions. In practice, the distinction is less rigid than might, at first sight, appear. The applicant in contentious proceedings may ask the court for a declaratory, as distinct from a mandatory judgment. This differs from an advisory opinion merely in being formally binding on the parties”.

Therefore, if what is sought in a contentious proceeding against the U.N is a “non- binding declaratory judgment” , then that amounts to an “advisory opinion” . This may seem to be a circuitous path to take to obtain an “ Advisory opinion”. But nonetheless that is the only way that is available for States to obtain an advisory opinion from the I.C.J.

As my Master during pupilage had reminded me and others of his pupils that “ there are always more than one way to skin a cat”. His cat being the “law” which sits by the window unable to predict which way it would jump.

I hope I have been abundantly clear how a State may obtain an advisory opinion from the I.C.J.

(Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe is Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada)

Code of Conduct for Cabinet Ministers Necessary govt credibility hits rock bottom due to Weerawansa

by Srinath Fernando

It would be opportune to reflect on the nature and duties of a Cabinet Government in the wake of recent controversial remarks made by a Cabinet Minister followed by a fast unto death which eventually became the farce of the century. When a minister is appointed his responsibilities are clearly demarcated through the allocation of functions by gazette notification.

How functions of the Ministers are allocated is a prerogative of the Executive President, by virtue of powers vested in him. Once a Minister is appointed he can no longer identify himself as being a representative of a particular constituency and he would have to relinquish all the positions he held in his private capacity. He is considered to be a minister for all time even when he is fast asleep at home. The reason being that a Minister could be awakened by his staff if the matter is of national importance and it should be brought to the urgent consideration by the Minister.

Assume for an instance an aircraft is hijacked at midnight and terrorists are demanding landing permission from the airport and the Airport authorities would require Minister responsible for civil aviation to be notified even at midnight. Since a Minister is for all time, he is duty bound to make a decision and also to defend his decision in respect of any particular action. As regards collective decisions made at the sessions of Cabinet of Ministers/ Council of Ministers he will also be required to defend the policy of a fellow cabinet member as well.

This is called collective responsibility and no minister could abdicate his ministerial responsibility of defending the government policy. If he were to do so it would be to the detriment of his own government and would unnecessarily earn the wrath of his cabinet colleagues and the Executive ‘All Mighty’. The public opinion too would go against the government and then he would be an inevitable prey for the opposition looking for issues to exploit, as is the case with all functioning democracies world wide.

All ministers are required to publicly affirm the policies of the government regardless of any private misgiving about a particular policy. No minister could say that though he approved a government policy but it is not his private view.

Neither can the Government say that a statement uttered by a minister was not the view of the government and the remark is attributed as a personal view of the Minister concerned. What would be the position of a Coalition Government where the government is formed with the help of many political parties? What would be position of a government where candidates are fielded directly under one political party (UPFA) but the candidates have their political affiliation to other political parties with different policies (NFF).

Should a minister recuse himself from such political affiliation?. When a Minister publicly calls for people to surround a particular diplomatic mission and take hostage of the mission until the country / organization concerned backs down or deviates from that particular action. How could this be a personal view of a Minister?. If he were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, could he make such a statement?. Could the government says that it is the personal view of the Minister of Foreign Affairs under whose purview the diplomatic missions come under?

The so called animated ‘fast unto death by the Cabinet Minister is not in fact a cabinet matter but a serious breach of diplomatic conventions and smacks of a hate campaign to influence the people to perpetrate a crime. The whole world is watching the actions of the government. This is unprecedented in the contemporary politics since 1977 Iranian revolution. What government should have done was to have averted such an incident taking place in the first place but instead it gave a veiled sanction for such a protest. The government culpability cannot be brushed aside.

The credibility of the government seems to have hit the rock bottom. Incidents in front of the UN office seem to have had the seal of consent from the Rajapakse administration. The Government castigates foreign governments for various reasons whereas the real conflicts seem to spring from within? The recent pronouncement by the Cabinet Minister was somewhat reminiscent of the Iranian Revolutionaries making instigative and hostile remarks for protesting students to take U.S. Embassy and staff hostage.

The Iranian Revolutionists never made such an explicit remark as the one made by the Sri Lankan Minister. The International Court of Justice at Hague gave a judgment accusing the Government of Iran of violating Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic immunity. There have been other instances as well. Even the ‘second in command’ of the last government also made a remark which was against a senior diplomat of an international organization and identified him as being a ‘terrorist’. These utterances are meant to hurt the government from within.

Should not it be time a Code of Conduct is put in place to muzzle the lose cannons?. The net effect of all these now falls on the Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G.L.Peiris when he meets his foreign counterparts. How would he be able to convince his counterparts that all is well with the government. After all diplomacy is about winning the enemies and keeping the friendships in tact. Are we not driving our friends to the wrong side? These actions will only gain credibility of the separatist lobby who are mounting a vigorous campaigning against the interests of Sri Lanka. This is a time Sri Lanka should be in control of the fast developing and deteriorating situation abroad.

A minister cannot possibly give vent to his emotional outbursts or make incendiary remarks. He should know well that he has far too serious business in hand that should be referred to the Cabinet for approval than taking unilateral action which would only meant to create chaos within the government. Even though a minister represents a certain political party, the view of such a political party should come from within the confines of the Political party itself sans the Minister, thus detaching the government from such party politics.

Ex Indian Minster Shashi Tharoor was forced to resign from his ministerial portfolio over Indian Premier League cricket tournament, merely because of allegations level against him in the media. He resigned graceful making a public statement in the parliament. Rodney Brazier, Professor of Constitutional Law has identified three main areas of ministerial responsibility in his book titled Ministers of the Crown,(Oxford University Press 1997), viz a.) his private conduct b.) general conduct of his department c.) acts done (or left undone ) by officials in his department. The British Parliament has produced a Research paper (04/31 April 2004) in which four principles have been identified for individual ministerial responsibilities. (as given below)

Inform and explain:

The basic requirement of accountability is that ministers explain their actions and policies to Parliament, and inform Parliament of events or developments within their sphere of responsibility. Thus ministers make statements (on their own initiative, through urgent questions, or through written ministerial statements for example) on all sorts of issues from transport accidents to proposed new policy initiatives, and make available detailed explanations through Parliamentary answers, consultation papers, white and green papers and so on

Apologize:

Ministers who admit an error, of whatever kind, either by them personally or on behalf of their officials, will usually be expected to apologize to Parliament, as part of a full explanation, whether or not a resignation or dismissal is involved. It is often said that the House of Commons is generous and forgiving to those Members and ministers who admit their mistakes and atone for them, especially where the mistakes are not regarded as sufficiently serious for resignation. In appropriate cases an Opposition may only seek an apology rather than a resignation, or the House may accept an apology even when resignation has been demanded originally.

Take action:

A minister who is responsible for an unsatisfactory state of affairs (whether identified by them, by Parliament or by some form of inquiry) will be expected to take appropriate remedial steps to correct it and to ensure that it should not happen again. This applies whether or not any resignations or dismissals are involved, although in some cases the remedial action may be promised and carried out by a successor in cases where the responsible minister has left office.

Resign:

This is the ultimate accountability action and sanction. It is also the most difficult to categorize and explain. While the other actions noted above are essentially, in constitutional terms, administrative, executive actions, of ministers carrying out their ministerial duties to account in a substantive way to Parliament, resignation cases — including those where resignation was successfully resisted, at least for some time, and cases of ‘sideways’ or other reshuffle — can develop into essentially political battles, often, but not always, of a partisan nature.

It would perhaps be time a Code of Conduct for Ministers was promulgated in order to arrest the fast deteriorating government credibility in eyes of international observers. The Code should include ethics, official secrecy, guidance on avoiding conflicts of interests, transparency in the affairs of the respective ministry and stringent financial control over waste and corruption. As far as foreign relations are concerned the Government needs to adopt a non confrontational stance in conducting its foreign policy and let the foreign affairs be left for the official diplomats who are trained in the art of diplomacy.

Prevent the armed forces from occupying prime property premises in Colombo city

An Open Letter to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

by P.Elmo J de Silva

The war is now over and the people of Sri Lanka are grateful to you for your contribution towards the country’s victory.

The government should now look at the post war scenario and formulate a development strategy for the City of Colombo.

The best and prime property in the Business District is occupied by the Armed Forces; this perhaps is a legacy from Colonial times when Colombo was a garrison city at the same time being the principal port and administrative centre.

The time is now right for us to move on, and as you have the unique position as chairman of the UDA and Defence Secretary, it is possible for you to address the situation and make these important changes. Around 500 acres of prime land are occupied by the Armed forces with the country’s five star city hotels, banks and commercial buildings clustered in the same area.

A few years ago an attempt was made by the UDA; the required land was acquired in Kotte for this purpose and preliminary plans were drawn by each of the selected consultants for each Service. Four architectural practices were selected to prepare plans for the relocation of the Army, Navy, Air force and Police. Unfortunately, due to the escalation of hostilities the projects were delayed and subsequently abandoned.

The time is opportune for change. Sri Lanka is marketing itself as a premier tourist destination, but faces a shortage of hotel rooms in the city together with urban recreational spaces and common areas.

It is also important to show the world that the city is free of appearances of war and that a new era of peace has dawned, replacing the tensions of the past and that Colombo will soon become a desirable capitol city to work in and visit.

This relocation will open up prime property in the heart of the city and also the sea front, and provide much needed land for expansion of the existing hotel, the construction of new hotels, office and financial buildings and setting up recreational facilities. Prime property will bring prime prices.

The process will have to be phased out with a Master plan identifying these areas and the sale of these plots of land can cross subsidise the expenditure of relocating the armed forces.

Ideally, the armed forces can be decentralised and housed in their own cantonment. The Navy can have its headquarters in Trincomalee/ Hambantota, the Army in strategic positions in and around the country. The Ministry of Defence and the Police headquarters could be moved to Sri Jayewardenepura where the land has been acquired by the UDA. The Air force can be located in Katunayake.

This will certainly give the construction industry the kick start it desperately needs and also would help beautify the city and restore Colombo to its former glory as the Garden City of the East.

(P. Elmo J De Silva is Chartered Architect / Town Planner)

Both Sri Lanka and UNP must undergo parallel or overlapping reform process

by Dayan Jayatilleka

Much of the contemporary political comment in Sri Lanka is on the tale of two constitutions, the country’s basic law and that of the main democratic opposition party, the UNP.

The commentary is also characterised by a zero-sum perspective, revolving around the question of whether or not the talks on changing the country’s constitution will dwarf and derail/deadlock the move for change in the UNP’s constitution and leadership. While there can be little doubt that one of the aims of the dialogue and its timing is to prop up the leadership of the main opposition and forestall a change, it does not seem to me that such an antinomian approach is the only possible or most productive one. In any event, the news that the UNP’s Working Committee has given its assent to the party reforms makes that assumption and line of discussion rather redundant.

I fail to see a reason why both the country and the main Opposition party cannot undergo a parallel or overlapping process of reform. This would be most apposite given that both are in need of change, comprising an overall moment of national reform.

Let us start with the basic law of Sri Lanka. We didn’t have the kind of founding fathers with the sagacity that the US and India had, endowing those countries with Constitutions that have not only stood the test of time but have accommodated and facilitated change. Both Constitutions act as a beacon for their own societies and those further afield.

It is transparent that the motive force for Constitutional change today is exactly what it was during the second term of President Kumaratunga, namely the striving to overcome the two term limit and prolong incumbency or the chance of incumbency by any other name. Our predominant political culture seemingly fails to enshrine the principle of the social contract, or even the simpler one of a trade-off, whereby a plenitude of power is vested in a single person in exchange for a strict limit on the period during which that person shall enjoy such enormous power.

No matter: Nelson Peery, an old black man in Chicago, decorated veteran of the bitter fighting on the Pacific front in WWII, and hardcore communist militant used to tell those of us gathered in his party office in the early 1980s during the Mayoral campaign of Harold Washington (a mayoralty which was a seminal political experience for Barack Obama according to his autobiography) that serious reform is possible only when the need for reform on the part of the people coincides with the reformist urge or perceived interest of a faction of the power wielders, though the motivations would widely differ. So, the country’s current leadership desires reform and the country needs reform, though these may be two different sets of reforms and for two different sets of reasons. The task is to ensure that the hunger for reform on the part of the ruling elite is not at complete variance with the interests of the people and is not fulfilled at the expense of the reforms which the country as a whole requires.

The method by which this happy coincidence can be ensured is to observe the principles of holism, linkage, reciprocity and consensus. I see no political or ethical reason why the reform process should be front-end loaded with the change of the Executive Presidency to an Executive Prime Minister-ship. That is surely not the most pressing of the country’s problems. The merits or demerits of such a change can be judged only when it is embedded in a matrix of other changes, revealing the altered structure as a whole. In short, the reforms have to be placed on the table as a bundle or package.

It would be silly, of course, to imagine that the Constitutional changes would not be weighted in favour of the incumbent President and his administration. So favourable is the post-war, post-election balance of forces for the President and the ruling coalition (and inevitably so) that the reforms are bound to be skewed in their direction. The question is to what degree; whether that degree of tilting is kept to a minimum and the public interest represented sufficiently in the final shape of the reforms.

This is where the UNP’s own reform process comes in. Conventional wisdom – usually wrong—has it that there is a zero sum relationship between the larger and smaller reform processes, and that Ranil Wickremesinghe, the UNP’s current leader, is the best bet for the overall process of Constitutional reform. This perception is not only false it is the exact opposite of the truth.

The truth is that Mr Wickremesinghe needs the endorsement, recognition, support and patronage of the President, just as he needed and obtained them from President Kumaratunga when his leadership of the UNP seemed threatened. This much is well-known. What is not recognised is the inevitable corollary that Ranil will therefore need to make more concessions in negotiations than would any other UNP leader less dependent upon the regime or independent of it. He will do with the Government that which he did with the Tigers during the CFA: sell out. Any other UNP leader would of course have to give more than he gets from the government at the negotiating table, but that would only be because of the political asymmetry between this government and the Opposition, and would approximate that degree of asymmetry. Since Ranil needs the Government to prop him up, he is certain to concede not just that which is objectively inevitable but quite a bit extra. Going that extra mile is not in the public interest, just as his unilateral concessions in and during the CFA were decidedly not in the national interest.

This is why it would make for somewhat more equitable negotiations, reducing the chances of the national and public interests being placed on the backburner in a deal between two personalities, were the UNP to be under a new leadership. This is why the process of Constitutional change would be helped and not hindered by such a leadership change. This is why the two processes of bipartisan negotiations on constitutional reform and inner-party struggle for constitutional and leadership change are inextricably linked, mutually supportive and positively – not inversely – related. They must be viewed, if not as twinned processes, at least as two sides of a single coin of long deferred democratic structural change.

Getting lost in The Hague: UN, Sri Lanka and an ICJ-Advisory Opinion

By Kalana Senaratne

Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe (Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Windsor) in an article titled “Sri Lanka can seek advisory opinion from International Court of Justice about legality of UN panel (www.transcurrents.com), makes a serious suggestion to the Government; i.e. to obtain an Advisory Opinion (AO) from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, to determine “whether it was within the power of the Secretary-General to appoint an Advisory Panel mandated as he has when appointing it.”

He admits that he is “unable to suggest a political solution” to what he considers to be a matter which raises an “interesting point of international law.”

Dr. Marasinghe’s suggestion, in turn, raises greater problems, and is a risk that Sri Lanka cannot afford to take at this stage.

The unresolved ‘problem within a problem’

An AO from the ICJ, even if it is to be ‘favourable’ to Sri Lanka, would not be one which addresses the root of the problem; the problem of accountability and investigations. Dr. Marasinghe detects only the ‘international’ problem (i.e. the appointment of the Panel by the UNSG), and not this enduring domestic/internal problem of the inability to carry out investigations. Why so? It is because the Government, for quite some time now, believed that there was no problem, i.e. that there is absolutely no need to seriously investigate any of the allegations of IHL/HR violations because it argued that no such violations occurred during the last stages of the conflict.

It is not very clear whether this position has changed, and one awaits in this regard the recommendations of the ‘Lessons Learnt’ Commission on the issue of ‘investigations.’ Even the response to the US State Department’s report is yet to be published (one could only ask ‘haven’t we replied yet?’ - as Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP seems to have asked, as mentioned during a recent interview with Radio Australia).

If Sri Lanka had resolved this problem, neither the West nor the UNSG could have raised any concerns regarding ‘accountability’. As long as that problem remains unresolved, there is nothing much to be gained by approaching the ICJ and seeking an AO (which is not legally binding).

UN Charter

Dr. Marasinghe seems to believe that the UNSG, by establishing the Panel, has violated certain specific provisions of the UN Charter, especially Articles 33 and 34 of the Charter. But, how could the UNSG violate these provisions when the establishment of the Panel has nothing to do with the subject matter covered under Articles 33 and 34?

Articles 33 and 34 come within Chapter VI entitled ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’. Article 33(1) basically states that parties to any dispute, the continuation of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall first seek solutions (by negotiations, enquiry, mediation etc.) or other peaceful means of their own choice. Article 33(2) states that the Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means. Article 34 states that:

the Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.

These provisions refer, in the main, to ongoing disputes which are likely to threaten international peace and security. But what the UNSG has done is to appoint a Panel, one year after the conflict. So the UNSG’s clear argument would be that there is neither a dispute, nor one which threatens international peace and security, and therefore, Articles 33 and 34 are simply of no relevance. Even if one is to argue, as Dr. Marasinghe has done, that the panel appointed by the UNSG is ‘international’, Chapter VI doesn’t broadly cover the unique Sri Lankan case (The better provision to have cited would have been Article 100(1), of Chapter XV).

Now, it should not be forgotten that there are serious concerns with regard to the mandate of this particular Panel, or rather concerns regarding the understanding of the mandate by the members of the Panel. But this does not necessarily mean that specific provisions of the UN Charter have been violated (an accusation which gives rise to a serious legal argument), because the UN Charter does not seem to cover what a UNSG could do with regard to issues of ‘accountability’ in a ‘post-war’ situation when the conflict has ended and there is no dispute whatsoever between the conflicting parties.

It is a problem of the largely outdated UN Charter, and this is exactly why the UNSG was able to appoint a panel and draft a mandate which seemed to please all actors concerned (the West, the panel, and even Sri Lanka, by stating that the Panel is available only as a resource), and still survive without any serious or strong condemnation (Note, in this regard, that even though news reports stated that Russia had ‘slammed’ the UNSG, Russia concludes the statement by pointing out that it hopes that the UNSG Panel would not complicate the investigation being conducted by the Sri Lankan authorities.

That, I would argue, is good enough for the UNSG to carry on with the process). If the UNSG-Panel had been established during the time of armed conflict, i.e. before May 2009, then certainly a strong legal argument could have been raised. But this is not the case. Therefore, when the provisions of the Charter are so vague and unclear, it is not in the best interest of Sri Lanka to take the matter to the ICJ.

Reaching the ICJ: the political process

Another factor Dr. Marasinghe ignores is the political process involved in taking the question to the ICJ. Dr. Marasinghe has not clarified this issue. The impression the reader gets is that any State could easily approach the ICJ and seek an AO on any legal question. No.

Article 96 (1) of the UN Charter states very clearly that it is the General Assembly or the Security Council which may request the ICJ to give an AO on any legal question. Article 96(2) states that other organs of the UN and specialized agencies may also make similar requests. Thereafter, Article 65(1) of the Statute of the ICJ affirms this position in stating that the ICJ may give an AO at the request of whatever body may be authorized by or in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations to make such a request.

Therefore, it is clear that Sri Lanka first needs to win over a majority of the General Assembly (in particular), and without such support, its efforts would not succeed. In any authoritative work on the ICJ’s jurisprudence (especially by the foremost authority on the ICJ, Shabtai Rosenne) one could find how requests for AOs have been made in the past (eg. Res. ES-10/14 of December 2003, adopted by 90 votes to 8 with 74 abstentions as regards the question of Israel’s illegal construction of the wall, Res. 49/75K of December 1994 adopted by 78 votes to 43 with 38 abstentions, as regards the question of illegality of nuclear weapons, etc. etc.).

But is this possible for Sri Lanka? Even the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has been so far reluctant to come out with a statement critical of UNSG’s decision, and in addition to this, the impact of Minister Weerawansa’s fast has been an extremely negative one, further damaging Sri Lanka’s credibility in the eyes of her friends.

Furthermore, what is interesting to note is that certain members of the NAM (as numerous news reports suggest) are observing this development from a different perspective. While Sri Lanka may be adversely affected, the precedent that the UNSG has set is extremely interesting and useful for some of the NAM members, because they could now exert pressure on the UNSG and request him to take similar action re. other cases: e.g. Israel (This, I would argue, is the only positive outcome of this whole exercise). So, even if the NAM supports Sri Lanka in taking the question to the ICJ, there is no guarantee that the NAM will be overly worried by the outcome, because given NAM’s interests, some of its members could benefit from any kind of AO that the ICJ decides to deliver. These are some of the considerations not raised by Dr. Marasinghe.

ICJ: the politics of law

Another serious factor that needs to be noted is the ‘politics of law’, or rather, the politics of the ICJ. What makes approaching the ICJ risky is that one cannot be sure of what the Judges would state in response to a question as one posed by Dr. Marasinghe. There is certainly no guarantee that all of them would clearly hold that the UNSG has exceeded his powers.

One reason is because, as pointed out above, the Charter provisions are unclear. (And do not forget, it was the ICJ which held in its Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996 that in view of the current state of international law it cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence. So holding that the law is unclear is nothing new!). Even if the majority holds that the provisions are clear and that the UNSG has exceeded his powers, what would the impact be of a strong Dissenting Opinion of any single judge? And in such a scenario, wouldn’t there be judges who would come up with such individual opinions?

Take the composition of the court, and the ‘geo-politics’ surrounding the Sri Lankan issue. The US, for instance, has publicly welcomed the establishment of the Panel. In such a context, could one expect the US judge on the ICJ bench, Judge Buergenthal, seriously hold that the UNSG had no power to appoint a panel which advices him, and thereby ridicule the US’s decision to support the establishment of the Panel? Take US’s closest ally, the UK. Now, the present UK judge on the bench is not Judge Higgins (as Dr.

Marasinghe seems to imply when he refers to her as “the judge”), but Judge Christopher Greenwood who is a strong defender of the UK government and its policy on humanitarian intervention. Judge Greenwood (then, as Prof. Greenwood, QC), strongly defended the NATO intervention in Kosovo and in this regarded defended the UK government in the ICJ as UK’s counsel, when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia sought provisional measures directing a halt to the NATO operations (he held similar controversial views concerning the Iraq invasion, and in this regard see The Evening Standard report titled ‘Easy Justice for QC who took us to war in Iraq’). Now, given the politics surrounding the issue and the response of the West with regard to the establishment of the UNSG Panel, how would these judges approach the issue,

what would they say?

It is due to the above - which seem to raise more problems (and not any meaningful solution) for Sri Lanka - that I fail to agree with the suggestion proposed by Dr. Marasinghe.

Conclusion

There was, and there is, a simple answer to these numerous ‘international’ problems which seem to be piling up: the investigation of all serious allegations of humanitarian and human rights law violations. This was not done, and whether it would be done in the future is unknown. But as long as that problem remains unresolved, different and difficult problems will continue to trouble Sri Lanka. Going in search of Advisory Opinions to The Hague without seriously addressing that enduring domestic problem is of little use. In fact, going anywhere near The Hague could be pretty dangerous.

(Kalana Senaratne, LL.B, LL.M (University College London), is a post-graduate research student at the University of Hong Kong)

July 19, 2010

Vairavar Madai: An ancient ritual continues with a traditional touch in Jaffna

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Lord Vairavar is one of the most terrifying aspects of Lord Siva. And, Lord Vairavar is also considered a God who safeguards villages and his devotees. He is the fierce manifestation of Lord Siva associated with annihilation. He is a folk deity who safeguards the devotee on all eight directions.

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[click to see & read more ~ HA]

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Instead of seeking National reconciliation Rajapaksa regime is sytematically dismantling Tamil Nationhood

by Surendra

H.E. President Mahinda Rajapakse has pledged to develop Sri Lanka as the new miracle of Asia. Since this project concerns our collective destiny as a country, we should subject this project to a surgical analysis. Is this a wishful dream? A hypnotic self-delusion? Or, is it a deliberate illusion spun to deceive the people and perpetuate the power of the Rajapakse dynasty? Where will this path lead us?

Will this ambitious project guarantee dignity, security, autonomy and freedom to our people – to the various classes, nations, nationalities and communities that make up the People of Lanka? Will it deliver liberation to the oppressed and exploited masses?

Or will they all be subjugated, subordinated and suppressed as never before? Will this path lead to national unity and independence based on a strategically self-reliant, self sufficient, rational and equitable economy, relying on unleashing the infinite creative/ productive potential of the toiling masses?

Or, will it enslave us all in new and reinforced relations of neo-colonial bondage, under the dictatorship of a marauding chauvinist-militarist junta? These are core questions that any honest patriotic, democratic and progressive person would have to face.

The path to the Asian miracle is but an extended trajectory of the ideology and politics of the Mahinda Chintanaya. This path has already been characterized by arrogant abuse of power, extreme nepotism and corruption, brute repression, and barefaced deceit and deception. It has been epitomized by gross and systemic violations of human rights and democratic freedoms. Never before had there been such a foul, murderous culture of impunity. The military defeat of the LTTE has resulted in the hegemonic enthronement of Sinhala supremacy and the subjugation of the Tamil nation as never before.

The entire rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction process and the prosecution of political prisoners remains criminal. Instead of national reconciliation, we have a regime that is systematically dismantling Tamil nationhood, while consolidating its hegemonic power, politically, ideologically and economically in the North and East. Power has been preserved and perpetuated by the Rajapakse dynasty through massive rigging of elections, wholesale abuse of state resources and incessant violent intimidation.

As opposed to the path of devolution, democracy and development, this trajectory has resulted in even more centralization, politicization and militarization of the state, absolute concentration of power within the ruling junta, reinforced by constitutional changes that seek to perpetuate the Rajapakse regime by instituting a military-police state. Politically and ideologically, this trajectory will further impose archaic, fundamentalist, obscurantist, reactionary power structures and values upon the social order, nurtured by Neanderthal politicos, priests and journalists. Rather than a miracle of Asia, we are being driven into the era of baboons and barbarians. Politically and ideologically, the path to the miracle is a path of gloom, doom and destruction.

The economic path towards the miracle is equally deceptive and fatally illusory. Mega projects such as freeways and highways, airports and harbors, sports stadiums, hi-rise condos and luxury hotels, and mega cities will generate ‘growth’, but in the most tortuous and lop-sided way. This is not some ‘primitivist’ argument. These types of mega projects are necessary. They are gateways to the 21st Century. But, this type of modernization should not be on the backs of the toiling masses. Under the prevailing Comprador capitalist system, this path will only serve to further entrench a form of crony Capitalism, that is, the extreme form of parasitic Comprador Capitalism.

It will generate and reinforce a class of bloated, moronic, ‘commission’ Capitalists and further marginalize and impoverish the toiling masses. State bureaucratic Capitalism will be further entrenched, offering the train of corrupt ministers and loyal lackeys, relatives and bloated functionaries to share in the spoils of profit and plunder. It will prove to be a haven for multinational corporations to rake in super profits, a golden opportunity for international finance capital to further sink their fangs into the economic lifelines of the country, mortgaging the land and the people as never before to foreign expansionist predator states.

Those who brag about the Asian miracles such as South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia, miss the central point. These economies are fatally vulnerable to the volcanic explosions within the system of international finance capital. They are all dependent on the circuits of imperialist capital accumulation and expanded reproduction, and are irrevocably integrated with International Finance Capital. As a result, they have suffered – and are bound to suffer-the consequences of attendant catastrophic financial eruptions, manipulated by international financial racketeers.

As it is, the whole system of global Capitalism – Imperialism- has gone into a logic of intractable crisis and recession. Trillions of dollars are being invested in the very same structures of international finance capital to save the pirate ship from drowning. Concurrently, the world is being dragged into a spiral of intensifying rivalry and contention among the various imperialist powers and their respective blocs, even while there is growing collusion and cooperation between them to save the system.

The global war against terrorism led by the US is simply a strategy to crush any and all resistance to imperialist / neo-colonial domination and aggression. It has already plunged the world into a logic and spiral of unprecedented crisis, instability and anarchy. A permanent state of war! Furthermore, those who worship the Asian miracles forget to mention that all these countries have yet to solve the problem of increasing and intensifying poverty, misery and degradation of the vast majority of the toiling masses within their borders.

Whether it be India, China, Pakistan or Iran, or any other country or coalition that may bankroll this project, all these comprador states have enslaved their toiling masses in abject poverty, misery and degradation, besides unleashing state terror on the masses. All these states are locked into and driven by the logic of capital accumulation of world imperialism and domestically by parasitic, crony comprador capitalism. For the toiling exploited and oppressed masses, this miracle will prove to be nothing but an intensification of jack-boot Capitalism. It will be hell let loose with froth and fury.

As for the Tamil nation cohabiting in the North-East, and the Hill Country ( Malayaga) Tamil nationality and the Moslem and other nationalities and ethnic-religious communities, they will all have to remain subordinated to a theocratic-chauvinist-supremacist state and political order, commanded by a hegemonic dynastic oligarchy. The exploited and oppressed Sinhala masses will be duped into believing that the whole project is to save their Land, Religion and Language- their motherland.

Monarchic symbols, tribal-feudal legends and victory parades shall continue to provide the gist for the propaganda mills. Mind control will be sustained by projecting an insidious and perfidious demonic enemy as a way of exploiting the fields of subterranean fear and insecurity of terrorized masses. The Parliamentary Opposition will, in the meantime, continue to rot in stupefied submission to the hegemonic agenda. This is while retired General Sarath Fonseka shall live to regret the day that he tied his political fortunes with the likes of the UNP and the JVP, and the TNA shall continue to worship at the alter of the New Delhi Brahmins.

The path to freedom lies in mobilizing the workers, peasants, all exploited and oppressed classes, nations and communities to forge their revolutionary unity in rupturing with the whole structure and relations of imperialist/ neo-colonial domination that have subjugated and devastated the Land and the People of Lanka for over five centuries. Until and unless we find the path to restructure our agricultural base through an agrarian revolution uprooting all archaic, parasitic, feudal-comprador relations of production underlying conditions of bare subsistence, generating endless poverty and indebtedness, we shall forever remain a beggar neo-colony.

We have to wage a thoroughgoing democratic revolution, with the agrarian revolution at the core, to overthrow and uproot the structures and relations of imperialist domination and feudal oppression. Through these profound revolutionary transformations the infinite productive potential of the toiling masses shall be unleashed.

This will be based on an internally driven, self- generating logic and dynamic of surplus generation, capital accumulation and expanded reproduction, girded by an integrated program of industrialization, leading to strategic economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency. This will be the basis to achieve people’s democracy and national independence, in the form of the People’s Republic of Lanka. We will have to define a new developmental philosophy that has the liberation of the toiling masses and the independence of the country as the inspirational source and theoretical guide at the very center of the project, as was applied in the former Soviet Union and China led by their respective Communist Parties.

The most path-breaking, epoch-making revolutionary miracles in all fields of human endeavor- science, economy, technology, culture- were achieved under Socialism in the Soviet Union and China. And these glorious peaks of human endeavor were achieved with the goal of advancing the emancipation of humankind from the chains of universal ignorance and slavery, while being encircled by world imperialism. Capitalist restoration in these former Socialist states do not negate these miraculous achievements.

These are but temporary – though devastating- set-backs in the long journey towards uprooting and overthrowing the material and ideological conditions and relations of domination and achieving universal freedom. We too have to define and undertake the scientific revolutionary path of genuine national independence and people’s democracy, leading to Socialism, based on enthroning the state power of the exploited and oppressed masses, who alone have the political will and the historic potential for creating miracles.

It is time for us to unite and rise as the People of Lanka to perform our miracles on the path towards achieving universal human emancipation. The first step would be to organize and mobilize our combined resistance against the hegemonic-chauvinist-militarist agenda, led by a class of parasitic crony comprador capitalists, driving the slogan of the Miracle of Asia.

(Surendra: is Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party [ Maoist])

Tamils in North feel betrayed by Both the State and the LTTE

by CCP (M) Field Mission Report

There is a universal sense of relief that the war is over. By all accounts it was brutal, unrelenting and intense. However, the post war environment contains many old and new issues that deny any sense of liberation or victory for the people.

On the contrary, they feel betrayed both by the LTTE and the State, both of whom promised them liberation. People are in a confused, disillusioned, abandoned and demoralized state of mind. Let us examine these ground realities in some depth.

Reconstruction:

It is apparent that the GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka) is engaged in a massive program of physical reconstruction throughout the Province, focusing on basic infrastructure such as roads and telecommunication. Government departments were reconstructed and modernized. Urban commercial centers and towns appeared to be vigorously active and flourishing. In fact, fifteen major banks and financial agencies had opened modern offices in Jaffna, almost next to each other. Military camps, bases and sentry points are being fortified and expanded. The presence of the army is everywhere, along the roads, in the villages and towns. Landmine clearing operations continue to be undertaken in many areas

Humanitarian Issues

In sharp contrast to this process of physical infrastructure reconstruction and the bustling commercial activities in the towns is the grueling, heart rending reality of a vast majority of the population, mainly farmers and fishermen, who were barely eking out a life below subsistence. It is a sheer struggle to survive. The entire population in the North could be divided into three categories; those who have been permanently resettled, those who have yet to be resettled permanently and those who had not been displaced recently and had remained in their original habitats.

In general, all three categories of people had suffered from some form and degree of loss of lives, limbs, property and livelihood. There are no reliable statistics on the numbers of war widows and female-headed households, number displaced, resettled and yet to be resettled, those who had lost their loved ones, those who have been
disabled, children who have lost both parents, people who have no basic means of survival and live on dry rations or with relatives, form and degree of emotional and psychological trauma, financial and economic loss of property and livelihood, degree of malnutrition, and so on. The lack of information on those who have disappeared, abducted and or killed causes an abiding sense of grief and despair. This situation gives a sense of the ordering of priorities.

The State simply lacks the political will for undertaking an accelerated, comprehensive and integrated process of resettlement, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, given that many super mega projects are off the ground elsewhere in the country. The strategy of the GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka) is to first develop basic physical and institutional infrastructure so as to attract foreign investment, which would then provide the dynamic for employment and income generation through large-scale agro- industrial mega projects.

This ‘trickle down’ Capitalist theory and policy has only brought disaster, poverty and misery worldwide. This may be a boon for the rich and powerful, but gloom and disaster for the poor, marginalized and critically vulnerable masses. As it is, the ground reality is continued acute suffering, deprivation and degradation of the vast majority of the Tamil population in the Province, who have endured some three decades of unmitigated grief and despair, horror and terror.

Resettlement:

The reality and process of resettlement is a profound and enduring indictment of the prevailing feudal-colonial/ Comprador Capitalist political and social order. In general, people are given twelve sheets of tin ( takaran), some utensils and five thousand Rupees to resettle. Some had been given dry rations provided by the World Food Program. Everywhere, people are huddled inside make-shift tents or in small huts.

Some people simply place the tin sheets together without any structure, to make a shelter. These people are exposed to heavy rain as well as scorching heat, and to mosquitoes and flies. They have no access to safe drinking water or sanitary facilities. Most of them are yet to generate a sustainable livelihood. This reality is all the more pitiful, since the general public and civil society throughout the land is not being mobilized to launch and sustain a process of providing relief and recovery, as they did so effectively and impressively in the aftermath of the tsunami. In fact, interventions by international and local civil society agencies are severely constrained and controlled, with only a selected few been granted permission to operate in the Province.

The continued presence, reinforcement and expansion of high security zones, military bases, camps and sentry points preclude a vast number of people from accessing or returning to their original habitats and livelihoods. The occupation of schools present a barrier in accessing even the bare educational facilities that had existed. Barefooted school children trek to school and back in the scorching heat through clouds of dust. Schools, clinics and hospitals that do operate are few and far between, and have no adequate facilities or staff.

Political Status:

Along the road, we saw signboards being changed so that Sinhala appears first, then Tamil and then English. Combined with the all-embracing presence of a predominantly Sinhalese armed forces, this change in the order of nomenclature, capped with a big welcoming signboard that says “ One Country! One Nation”, gives the impression of a policy of subordinating, or denying, the political status of the Tamil national identity. The notion of one country-one nation implies that there is to be no recognition of the plurality of nations, nationalities and ethnic-religious communities that comprise the People of Lanka.

Added to this, fears were expressed by some of efforts to change the demographic character of the Province from being predominantly Tamil, through settling families of armed forces and Sinhala settlers in Tamil areas, even while the Tamil population is left homeless, destitute and abandoned. We saw piles of material for constructing pre-fabricated houses on the side of the road approaching Killinochchi. This has raised a question as to whom these houses are being planned? While Buddhist shrines are sprouting, we saw Christian religious edifices- old and new- also springing up, while many kovils remained abandoned or destroyed.

Needs and Anxieties:

The most urgent priority need is a cry for physical-livelihood survival. People need to rebuild their lives first at least by securing their lands, which have been taken over or reserved for military facilities. Reclaiming and rebuilding their houses and land is a foremost need. It is estimated that in the Jaffna peninsula alone, some 100,000 houses had been destroyed. Farmers have the dire need to recover and prepare their land for cultivation, for accessing agricultural implements, including water pumps, seeds, ploughs, access to affordable credit, and transport and storage facilities.

For their part, they are not so impressed by the large-scale infrastructural reconstruction such as roads and telecommunication, government buildings and luxury tourist hotels. Some farmers fear that they may be marginalized by local and multi-national corporations that may have plans to develop big-scale agro-industrial projects. Fisher folk have the need for institutional, technical and operational infrastructure, including mechanized boats, nets, fuel, storage and transport facilities. They too fear that, in time, they may lose their fishing rights entirely to other more powerful local and international players. In general, farmers and fishermen express a fear of being pauperized and marginalized, so they may have to sell their labor for a pittance, in order to survive.

Many feel the enduring need to be informed about the disappearance or loss of their loved ones. They need a means of finding an end to the pitiless emotional agony of not knowing. In the most generalized terms, the population of the North share an agonized need to end their suffering, destitution, misery and degradation so they may enjoy the right to a life with dignity, security, autonomy and democratic freedom, without being reduced to being suppliant beggars of the State. They need to return to their normal way of life based on reconstruction of the houses, schools, hospitals and other institutional and infrastructural facilities.

Anxieties:

One of the main anxieties is over the continued presence, reinforcement and expansion of the security forces of the State. People are anxious over the overriding role of the security forces in controlling and monitoring all social, cultural and religious activities, where citizens did not enjoy the right of free expression, association and conviction, due to the fear of reprisals. This is so, even though the incidence of abductions, rape and torture and generalized abuse has been drastically reduced.

Hopes and Aspirations:

People do not experience any sense of victory and liberation following the end of the war, but a foreboding and creeping sense of a new subjugation and suppression by a triumphal Sinhala supremacist state bent on depriving them of their political status, dignity, autonomy and freedom.

The people feel betrayed by the LTTE and now by the State. Neither has delivered liberation to them. This truth is borne out by the fact that; The reinforcement and expansion of military facilities, the concentration of all decision-making in the hands of the ruling party, the lack of commitment to provide them access to information about the fate of their loved ones, the continued incarceration of some 10,000 Tamil political prisoners without being charged in a court of law, the lack of commitment to provide compensation for the losses-personal, physical and economic, the deliberate delay in addressing questions of basic survival, while colossal funds are being invested in lucrative mega projects, the lack of openness and transparency, the fact that no Tamil is represented in the Task Force for Resettlement, Reconstruction and Development, along with the evidence of Sinhala colonization of Tamil homelands.

The post war direction points towards a liquidation of their political status as a nation to be reduced to a marginalized and dependent minority community, under Sinhala-Buddhist State hegemony. As final proof is the fact that still no political settlement has been presented, and that the Tamil nation has been effectively marginalized in the negotiating process in deciding their political status and their future.

The enormous tragedy that befell some 300,000 civilians attest to the bitterness that prevails. These civilians had fled into a ‘no fire zone’ for protection from the intense and sustained military onslaught by the security forces during the last stages of the war. They had then come under attack by the LTTE, when finally they had begun to flee to the government controlled areas.

The war has left behind gaping wounds that need to be healed in order to achieve national reconciliation and integration. It is not the case, as claimed by the State that all these people fled to escape from the LTTE to seek liberation. They simply were trapped in a cross-fire and had no choice. It is pitiful that an organization that had claimed to liberate the people, had to kill its own people when they fled for life.

It is equally pitiful that the GOSL waged the war with no regard for ‘ collateral damage’ which placed the Tamil people in the tragic and desperate situations where they had to undergo such unaccountable suffering and degradation. Healing and reconciliation would require that we all share in this engulfing tragedy and grief, and all those responsible account for their role in bringing about such a pitiless humanitarian catastrophe upon our own people.

Conclusions:

The path to achieving the goal of “ One Country: One Nation” is by first addressing the national-democratic aspirations of the various nations, nationalities and communities, so that they voluntarily and consciously desire to be integrated as one nation.

This goal can be achieved only on the basis of a free and voluntary union, devoid of any form of coercion or subjugation. The post war scenario offered rare historic opportunities to initiate this process. Tragically, these opportunities are rapidly dissolving in a climate of renewed insecurity, distrust and seeding antagonism.

The path to freedom lies in mobilizing the workers, peasants, all exploited and oppressed classes, nations and communities to forge their revolutionary unity in rupturing with the whole structure and relations of imperialist/ neo-colonial domination that have subjugated and devastated the Land and the People of Lanka for over five centuries. Until and unless we find the path to restructure our agricultural base, uprooting all archaic, parasitic, feudal-comprador relations of production underlying conditions of bare subsistence generating endless poverty and indebtedness, we shall forever remain a beggar neo-colony.

Through these profound revolutionary transformations the productive potential of the toiling masses shall be unleashed. This will be based on an internally driven, self- generating logic and dynamic of surplus generation, capital accumulation and expanded reproduction, girded by an integrated program of industrialization, leading to strategic economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

This will be the basis to achieve people’s democracy and national independence. We will have to define a new developmental philosophy that has the liberation of the toiling masses and the independence of the country as the inspirational source and theoretical guide at the very center of the project.

(Report of a Field Mission by a Journalist on Behalf of the Ceylon Communist Party [Maoist])

Yogarajan and Kariapper release APRC Report independently without govt approval

By Zacky Jabbar

The SLMC and UNP MP R. Yogarajan yesterday released what they termed the final report of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) report, which outlines the basis of power sharing, role of the Senate, Community Council, distribution of powers between the Center and Province and safeguards against secession.

Deputy Secretary of the SLMC Nizam Kariapper, addressing a news conference in Colombo, said that the report they were releasing was based on the draft of a new constitution presented by APRC Chairman Tissa Vitharana to the 13 constituent parties on August 13, 2007 and subsequently to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In drafting, the Chairman had taken into consideration two reports presented to the APRC by an expert panel constituted by President Rajapaksa.

Yogarajan said that he was participating in the press conference in his personal capacity, after having informed the UNP leadership. Before crossing over to the UNP during the last Presidential Election campaign he had represented the CWC in the APRC deliberations.

"I will be tabling the final report of the APRC in Parliament today."

Kariapper said that the APRC, summoned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on July 11, 2006 and mandated to produce a draft of proposal for constitutional reform, which would provide "a comprehensive approach to the resolution of the national question", concluded its deliberations in June 2010 after the 13 participating political parties had met 128 times. The UNP and TNA did not attend the deliberations.

The APRC expected that President Rajapaksa would commence a dialogue with the main opposition United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance, based on the final report of the APRC with a view to formulating a new constitution. But that did not happen, he said.

"Though it was reported in the media that a final report was submitted to the President by the Chairman, we found that it had not been given to either the main opposition United National Party, the Tamil National Alliance or to the public. It is in these circumstances that R. Yogarajan who is presently a UNP MP, but participated in the APRC as a CWC member and I, decided to compile the final report based on the draft for discussion paper presented by the Chairman and amendments made by the APRC at its meetings, with the assistance of the proceedings which were recorded by Hansard."

Following are some of the main features of the Final Report:

Nature of the State:

The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State in the sense in which it shall be deemed to be an undivided and integrated State structure where the State power shall be shared between the Centre and the Provinces (agreed compromise).

Form of Government:

Sri Lanka should adopt a Parliamentary form of government at the centre.

Status of Buddhism:

The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while according to all religions the rights guaranteed by Articles 10 and 14 (1)(e) of the 1978 Constitution.

Official Languages and National Languages:

Sinhala and Tamil, the National Languages, shall be the Official Languages of Sri Lanka.

Use of the English Language:

English may be used for official purposes.

Supremacy of the Constitution:

The supremacy of the Constitution shall be recognized, and protected by a Constitutional Court, which would be part of the existing Court structure but separate from the Supreme Court. All acts of commission or omission of the Centre and of the Provinces inconsistent with the Constitution shall be void.

Safeguards against secession:

There should be in-built mechanisms to discourage secessionist tendencies and to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. The Provinces and local authorities shall be constitutionally mandated to preserve national unity and the indivisibility of the Republic.

Electoral system:

The APRC accepts that there shall be a mixed electoral system which combines the first past the post (FPP) on an electorate basis and proportional representation (PR) on a party basis, in which preferably the system of proportional representation prevails.

Power sharing:

The powers of the people will be shared at three tiers of the government. Namely, at the Central Governmental level, Provincial government level and Local government level. Each tire will have separate List of powers provided through Constitution.

Senate:

A Senate will be created by which the Provinces will able to play a role in the national legislature. It would also act as an in-built mechanism against hasty legislation that may have an adverse effect on the Provinces.

It is proposed that each of the Provinces is represented by seven Senators, making up a total of 63, elected on the basis of a single transferable vote system by the Members of the Respective provincial legislatures. In addition, there shall be 10 Senators selected by the community Councils (one or the Muslims, and the other for the Tamils living outside the North and the East). The President of the Republican nominates two people to represent unrepresented community groups.

Community Council:

There shall be two Community Councils, one for Indian Tamils and one for Muslims, outside the North and East without territorial focus to serve the development needs of the members of the communities wherever they may be living in Sri Lanka outside the North and the East.

Distribution of powers between the Center and Province:

The distribution of powers should be explicit and devoid of ambiguity. The Parliament should have no legislative power in respect of subjects and functions in the Provincial List while Provincial Legislatures should not have legislative powers in respect of subjects and functions in the National List.

National and Provincial High Appointments Council:

There should be a National Higher Appointments Council to ensure the independence of the State services and that of the judiciary of the Republic.

The Higher Appointments Council shall consist of The Prime Minister, The Speaker, The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, and six persons appointed by the President on the nomination of a Committee of Parliament proportionally composed of all parties represented in Parliament which should include three persons to represent minority interests appointed in consultation with Members of Parliament who belong to the respective minority communities. The speaker shall be the Chairman.

A Provincial Higher appointment Board will also be constituted comprising Chief Minister, Chairman of the Council, Leader of the Opposition and six other distinguished persons appointed by the governor nominated by a Committee of Members of the Council representing all political parties.

The composition of the Provincial Board shall as far as possible reflect the ethnic composition of the province.

Amendment Procedure:

The substance of Articles 82 (5) and 83 of the 1978 Constitution will be retained.

A Bill to amend the Constitution or replace it with a new Constitution should be approved by 2/3 of the members of each House of Parliament sitting and voting separately. - COURTESY:THE ISLAND -

Murali should have been made captain of Sri Lankan cricket team

by Durand Appuhamy

No matter what exacting standards the Selectors set for the captaincy of a Test side, Murali would have passed them all summa cum laude. Therefore he merited to be made the captain a long time ago.

Somehow the Selectors ignored him as they did Chamida Vaas. They appear to be thoroughly prejudiced against bowlers becoming captains of our side. There was no excuse this time, given the fact that the Selectors were privy to Murali’s retirement from Test Cricket. They should have made him the captain so that he could have retired as one of the great captains of our cricketing side.

It is not clear whether he will play in the next two Test matches. If he is expected to participate, I hope the Selectors will consider him and appoint him captain. He has been a match-winner on many occasions in the past. Captaincy would give him enormous satisfaction and a fitting reward for his services to Sri Lankan cricket more than mere verbal encomiums. As captain, if he also manages to win the matches against Dhoni who "stole" the ICC trophy from us, it would really be a glorious retirement.

I would also urge the Kandy Municipal Council to bestow on Murali the Freedom of the City. As someone suggested in The Island newspaper he is really an icon for unifying our divided society. May his example on and off the field be a rallying call to all of us to project our Sri Lankaness first in our lives.

Anguru: An exhibition of Charcoal drawings

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser” ~ John W. Gardner,(1919-2002), American Writer and Secretary of Health and Welfare

Artists mostly use pencils, pen, ink, brushes, canvass, water colours, graphite, wax, colour pencils, crayons, chalk, pastels, markers, stylus or various metals like silverpoint to bring out their imagination into images. -

Anguru, an exhibition of Charcoal drawings was held at Lionel Wendt Gallery in Colombo from July 2nd 2010 to July 4th 2010. It was organized by the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA). [click to see & read more]

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[click to see & read in full ~ on humanityashore.com]

Weerawansa creates medical history: Fasting unto death while being on a saline drip

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

NFF Leader and Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s failed attempt to politically re-engineer his image as a firebrand politician through a fast unto death outside the UN Office in Colombo has had many adverse repercussions on the country as well as on domestic politics.

The comedy of errors staged by Weerawansa from July 6 to 9 was nothing short of entertaining, where for the first time, Sri Lankans were able to witness an individual on a fast unto death while being on a saline drip

A closer look at the whole fast unto death saga reveals the political game behind Weerawansa’s exercise carried out for three days outside the UN Office in Colombo.

Weerawansa, who claimed that he would not budge an inch until Ban Ki-Moon withdrew the panel of experts on Sri Lanka, immediately sipped a glass of water offered to him by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ended his ‘fast’ without even uttering a reason for his decision to call it off.

After Weerawansa ended his fast unto death on Saturday (10) at 4.30 p.m., until the following day, Sunday (11) none of the NFF spokespersons gave a reason to the media as to why the fast was ended.

On Sunday, NFF spokesperson Jayantha Samaraweera said that the fast was called off after the President had agreed to several conditions, which included the appointment of a committee to inquire into the allegations to be taken up by the UN panel of experts and for the Sri Lankan government not to cooperate with the UN panel.

It therefore seems, that Weerawansa’s fast unto death was in fact aimed against the President more than the UN Secretary General.

Realising the disaster in the making, the NFF then resorted to claim that the life of their leader was at risk due to his continuous fast for three days. They claimed that doctors have said Weerawansa’s kidneys were badly affected due to the non-consumption of water.

A medical expert when questioned by The Sunday Leader said that a saline drip is generally administered to provide sustenance to a person who does not consume food or water.

He explained that the normal saline that contains water and sodium chloride along with 5% of dextrose (a form of glucose) and when administered to any individual, that person does not need to consume food or water, as the substances required for physical sustenance are provided medically.

When asked about the case of Weerawansa’s ‘fast unto death’ while on a saline drip, the doctor said there was no need for him to consume either food or water as he was on the saline drip.

“A person could wait close to seven days without consuming water and an even further period without food,” he said.

He added that not eating food for two days would not have a severe impact on a person’s kidneys, especially when a saline drip has been administered to the person.

According to the doctor, in order to determine for certain if there indeed was a problem in the kidneys’ filtering system, a serum electrolyte and a serum creatinin test could have been performed on Weerawansa. Meanwhile, doubts have also been raised about Dr. Sisira Siribaddhana’s involvement in the fast unto death, especially given the fact that he is one of Weerawansa’s close confidants.

A former supporter of the JVP, Dr. Siribaddhana had also changed his loyalties with Weerawansa’s defection from the JVP.

It is Dr. Siribaddhana, who initially claimed that Weerawansa’s kidneys were affected due to the non-consumption of water.

Several opposition politicians who called Weerawansa’s actions a bluff said that Weerawansa had single-handedly managed to stop any possible protests that could have been organised against the panel of experts on Sri Lanka appointed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

A senior politician from Weerawansa’s former party, the JVP, said that while a fast unto death is a protest campaign resorted to as a final option, Weerawansa’s fool hardy action of carrying out such a campaign at the outset of the protest against the expert panel has ruined any possibility of carrying out a future protest against the issue.

“A fast unto death is the last protest campaign to be launched under any circumstance, but Weerawansa resorted to it in the first protest itself. No, there is nothing that can be done. No protest, march or rally could match it now,” he said. According to him, the only other option would be to get about 10 individuals to commence a fast unto death – if any one is to consider the matter seriously.

The fire breathing Wimal Weerawansa has been a contradiction to the many heroic and patriotic statements made by him.

Weerawansa was earlier accused of sexually harassing an employee attached to the Lake House group and with the story making headlines in the media, the fire-breathing hero, it is learnt, has not acted according to his so called “principles” of fighting back by rising to any challenge placed before him.

Soon after the alleged sexual harassment story was publicized in the media, Weerawansa, unable to take responsibility for his actions had resorted to making an attempt to end his life.

The Sunday Leader is in possession of a copy of a hand written letter by Weerawansa to his wife that reveals his intentions of committing suicide.

Although the letter and its contents are of a personal nature, the issue is being highlighted for the people to determine for themselves the real nature of a ‘patriot,’ without any malice intended.

Weerawansa has signed the letter under the name “Gam,” which was a name used by some of the JVP members following the pseudonym used by him, “Wimalasiri Gamlath.”

The letter it is learnt was sent to his wife Sashi, who in turn had faxed it to the JVP headquarters.

Soon after receiving the letter, the party leadership had taken steps to send several JVP members to Weerawansa’s residence to ensure his safety and to prevent him from committing suicide.

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Following is an English translation of the letter written by Wimal Weerawansa in Sinhala:

Dearest Sashi,

Please forgive me! I do not wish to live any longer since you do not give me the chance to correct myself and move forward. Please forgive me! I wish you all the very best for the future. Look after the two children for me. I love the little daughter and son very much. I have lived enough. I am sad. But there’s nothing else to be done.

Please forgive me!

Yours,

Gam

COURTESY:THE SUNDAY LEADER

July 18, 2010

Sri Lanka President urgently needs to repair fractured international credibility

by Col R Hariharan

Though Sri Lanka finished the Eelam War in triumph a year back, its battle with the international community does not appear to be over.

It was joined in right earnest last week when the maverick Sri Lankan minister and ‘revolutionary’ turned politician Wimal Weerawansa spearheaded a siege of the UN office in Colombo. He was demanding the withdrawal of the UN expert panel appointed to advise the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sri Lanka’s human rights and humanitarian record during the war.

But Weerawansa added more spice to the protest when he went on “fast unto death.” The National Freedom Front leader being no Mahatma Gandhi nobody expected him to die a martyr. Though theatricals of the protest were overdone, it was more than a publicity gimmick or a photo opportunity for Weerawansa because it had official blessing. President Mahinda Rajapaksa showed his solidarity with the minister’s action by visiting the fasting minister and ‘persuaded’ him to break his fast on the second day.

If paralysing work at the UN office was the objective of the protest, the minister’s mission was eminently successful. Work at the UN office was paralysed and the UN asked its staffers not to come out. The UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo was shut down. The UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo, Neil Buhne was called back to New York.

Buhne is going back now after the UN clearly articulated its expectations from Colombo: better treatment of the U.N. family in Sri Lanka, progress of commitments covered in the Joint Statement of May 2009 including resettlement of internally displaced persons, political reconciliation and accountability. So the minister’s protest has not only failed, but also appears to have firmed up the UN Secretary General’s resolve to go ahead with the work of UN experts’ panel.

As Sri Lanka considers the action of the UN Secretary General an infringement of national sovereignty, its ire is understandable. But the way it is being handled as a populist ploy than through diplomatic moves makes one suspect the intentions. Is it part of President’s strategy to milk the issue for internal political gains? Although, his overwhelming public support was confirmed in the recent presidential and parliamentary polls, the protests focusing on outsider interference does put opposition on the defensive to temper their criticism of the government.

Ban Ki-moon was well within his powers to appoint a panel of experts to advise him on the issue. The Secretary General’s action would have provided a safe option to Sri Lanka to defer the issue from adverse limelight. It would also have given inkling on the follow up action likely at the UN Security Council or the UN Human Rights Commission.

But why Sri Lanka has chosen to do have a confrontation with the UN? Obviously it does not want any external body to investigate allegations of human rights violations. The second explanation is the fear that allowing experts’ panel would lead to probe into war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka army during the last phase of war. Sri Lanka’s prickly reaction only strengthens suspicions of its conduct. The relentless efforts of influential international NGOs and diehard Tamil Diaspora Eelam lobby to bring Sri Lanka to the dock on this count are likely to continue regardless of Sri Lanka stand on UN panel.

Sri Lanka’s objection should be viewed in the backdrop of its long term skirmish with “foreign interference.” It
started with its bitter experience of the way the Monitoring Mission of the peace process 2002 functioned. And international role in Sri Lanka’s conflict became a contentious issue in the presidential poll 2005. Its attitude hardened in 2006 after a disastrous experience with an international panel of eminent persons’ inquiry into alleged killings carried out by security men which was given up midway due to lack of cooperation from Sri Lankan side.

And its international reputation had been on the down slide even before the war started when scores of people ‘disappeared' and media men were hounded.

The common thread running in the UN action as well as the European Union’s suspension of the GSP+ export tariff concessions is the trust deficit in Sri Lanka’s words. And to dismiss as international prejudice or conspiracy to belittle Sri Lanka’s triumph against terrorism would be foolhardy. More situations of a similar kind are in the making.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has suggested to the Indian government to assess the situation in the affected areas in Sri Lanka and the progress of rehabilitation measures undertaken by the Sri Lankan government for internally displaced Tamils. Though he has left the option of who will carry out this task to Dr Manmohan Singh, unless a special envoy is sent the issue would hang fire in Tamil Nadu. And both the leaders cannot afford it as the state is getting ready for assembly poll. The chief minister was only reflecting public opinion and what the Indian government had been asking Colombo in private. How Sri Lanka is going to handle this ‘foreign interference’ is the moot question?

This time around nobody can accuse the TN chief minister of being anti-Sinhalese. Around the same time, he had arrested Seeman, the Kollywood director turned leader of the pro-LTTE Naam Tamilar party, under the National Security Act for ‘inciting the public’ against Sinhalese in Chennai.

Whatever be the President’s internal agenda, he urgently needs to repair fractured international credibility. And regardless of Sri Lanka’s own opinion, its waning credibility will expose it to more and more international criticism. The NAM (non aligned movement) lobby at the UN has already shown to be an unreliable forum to plead for Sri Lanka. China, Russia and India – considered as friends of Sri Lanka – cannot be expected repeatedly to bale out Sri Lanka in the face of strong international line up.

The reason is not merely the demand for greater international accountability of nations, but also greater global awareness of rights of people and citizens. So the issue cannot be wished away; the President is bound to be questioned locally and internationally till their credibility gap is bridged with reasoning.

Sri Lanka’s credibility is directly related to three issues: its human rights record and accountability, rehabilitation issues of displaced Tamils, and vintage grievances of Tamil population. Actions like holding the cabinet meeting in Kilinochi, or providing better connectivity from North do not convince the public when people in villages around are destitute and there is lack of security and trust in government.

For its own good Sri Lanka should seriously look at human rights record and improve it. It is not India or the international community, but almost all opposition parties, media, and President Rajapaksa’s erstwhile chief of defence staff have complained of serious human rights violations. And many of them continue to do so. The emergency regulations are still haunting the public; even now Tamils in Wellawatte are asked to register with the police as pointed out by the National Peace Council.

The strategy to ward off international intrusion in what governments do is simple: be proactive and develop systems to be so. This helps the nation to look beyond playing sleight of hand competition in international forums as Sri Lanka is doing now. And it also enables the nation build its value systems, a great asset in forging ethnic amity. But this is more easily said than done, particularly if those in power want to make political capital out of problems.

Even in such an agenda improving leader’s credibility is never a liability.

(Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail: colhari@yahoo.com Blog: www.colhariharan.org)

Mysterious primate driven to the brink of extinction by Britain's taste for tea photographed for the first time

by Lewis Smith

A mysterious primate driven to the brink of extinction by Britain's taste for tea has been photographed for the first time. The Horton Plains slender loris, found only in Sri Lanka, was for more than 60 years believed to be extinct.

HortonPlainsslenderloris.transcurrents.JPG

click for larger image ~ The Horton Plains slender loris was pictured in central Sri Lanka by the Zoological Society of London and Sri Lankan researchers. Photograph courtesy of: London Zoo

Then one was spotted fleetingly in 2002 when a light shone in its eyes and was reflected. Researchers have now managed to get the world's first pictures of the animal.

More than 1,000 night surveys were carried out in 120 forested regions by Sri Lankan researchers working in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The loris was found in half a dozen regions and researchers managed to capture three live specimens long enough to measure them.

The prime reason for the animal's rarity is the loss of its natural forest habitat, which has been largely destroyed by the drive to create tea plantations. The loss of land to other crops also contributed.

Estimates suggest there are just 100 left, putting it among the world's top five most threatened primates. But so little is known about the animal that numbers could be below 60 – which would make it the rarest species.

Dr Craig Turner of ZSL said: "There's been a lot of loss of habitat historically. Forest covered much of the south-west area of Sri Lanka, but it's been cleared for agriculture and tea estates.

"More recently they've been cleared for firewood collection. We are now left with a very few islands of forest that aren't connected.

"Because they [lorises] are so rare and because for many years they were thought to be extinct, virtually nothing is known about them." - courtesy: The Guardian.co.uk -

UPFA and UNP move towards consensus politics

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

According to reports in the newspapers, the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the United National Party (UNP) have decided to work together on defining the basic principles of constitutional changes.

This is a promising start and those who have been campaigning for constitutional change in the past three decades would be happy and relieved notwithstanding the fact that the similar attempts in the past miserably failed as disagreements on minor issues were overemphasized. The best example for this is the UNP’s decision at the eleventh hour to withdraw its support for the 2000 draft constitution after agreeing to all its principal components.

On the other hand, although bi-party talks may raise hopes that concrete constructive results would emerge from them, past experience also shows that talks were also a part of the broader power game. Last time, talks between two parties ended up by one section of the UNP including its chief negotiator joining the government. As newspaper reports indicated the two parties have agreed to discuss three issues of great importance. In this article, I would like to make a few observations on these three points which the UPFA and UNP have identified in the recent bi-party discussions. The article will also focus on the silence on the part of the leaders of both political parties on certain issues.

The first issue is related to executive presidential system. In the post-parliamentary election, there was an attempt to change Article 31 (2) that states "no person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the People shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by the People" in spite of the promise made in the Mahinda Chinthanaya that the executive presidential system would be abolished. This attempt came under vehement criticism and objections by the left political parties in the UPFA. The UNP also decided to begin a campaign against this move thus clearly indicating such amendment may not be easily passed by Parliament. Hence, the on-going attempts to replace the executive presidency with the post of an executive prime minister.

What does this change really mean? Is it just a semantic change? The question has already been raised by Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). The demand for the abolition of the executive presidential system emanates from the fact that the Second Republican Constitution created all powerful executive president with no checks and balances against his/her power. The way in which it has worked in the last three decades or so amply demonstrates that the President is able not only to abuse the powers given by the Constitution but also to transcend powers beyond the constitutional boundaries and there is no constitutional provision to rectify such action.

Hence, what the people expect is not a mere semantic change but a robust constitutional provision that reduces the powers of the chief executive substantially. The best option in achieving this goal is to adopt Indian system of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister with a nominal head of the government. This means the Prime Minister is not directly elected but selected by the political party with a majority in the Parliament. Moving towards Indian system would reduce the costs of elections as the executive, i. e cabinet, is also elected by the same parliamentary election.

Those who favour executive presidential system argue that it gives stability to Sri Lankan political system as the parliamentary system may lead to unstable minority governments. There may be some truth in this argument as the present electoral system, though not necessarily, makes it difficult to obtain 113 seats in the Parliament. So, moving towards an Indian type of legislature and executive system requires that appropriate changes in the electoral system be introduced. This has been a subject in the constitutional discourse for a long period and many alternatives have been suggested not only to correct this problem but also to overcome other issues in the current electoral system. However, one word of caution is required with regard the electoral system reforms.

In making political decisions, it would be essential take all viewpoints into consideration as dissenting views may present important dimensions that dominant views have marginalized. Hence, in reforming the electoral system, it is necessary to ensure that numerically small social groups, women, and marginalized social layers are adequately represented in the law-making bodies. The introduction of 30 per cent reservation for women can be cited as an example.

The third issue that is on the agenda is the implementation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. 17th Amendment was passed in 2000 with twin objectives, namely, to contain power of the executive president in making important appointments and to limit the process of over-politicization of the judiciary, administrative system, police and other bodies like human rights commission. As the second objective remains valid and relevant even after the abolition of the executive presidential system, it is imperative that the idea of independent bodies has to be incorporated into the new constitution.

Although the three issues identified by two main parties are of great importance, both parties have been equally silent on one important issue that was time and again flagged in the Sri Lankan constitutional discourse. Sri Lanka is a Colombo-centered society. Both power and wealth are concentrated in and around Colombo. This urban bias has, for the last four decades, given rise to three anti-state rural based struggles, namely, (1) 1970- 1971, (2) 1983-2009; and (3) 1987- 1989. It was true that the Sri Lankan state was able to crush these rebellions and has now finally been able to establish its authority over the entire island. We have witnessed in many countries there is symmetry between power and wealth distribution. Wealth follows power and in turn reinforces both power and wealth concentration.

I do not argue that this issue may be resolved only through constitutional changes; but I wish to emphasize that spatial distribution of power would facilitate more equal spatial distribution of income and wealth. In a recent report (World Development Report: Reshaping Economic Geography - 2009) the World Bank maintains a totally different position and argues what has to be done in Sri Lanka is to facilitate the process so that people will move from areas with less resources and opportunities to areas with high level of resources and opportunities, namely, to places around Colombo and Colombo-Kandy Road. Spatial power-sharing would facilitate the creation of new urban centers with new developmental opportunities. Here, my intention is not to underestimate the national/ ethnic dimension of the Tamil rebellion but to emphasize the fact that spatial asymmetry of power and wealth and resultant increase of rural poverty and unemployment may be given an ethnic interpretation.

Both the UPFA (minus the Hela Urumaya and the National Freedom Front) and the UNP have agreed in the past that power-sharing mechanism at the centre and spatial power-sharing are necessary in dealing with this issue of power asymmetry. In 1987, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted as the means of addressing this issue; but all the governments at the centre have so far paid only lip service to this piece of legislation. How could the notion of spatial power-sharing be incorporated into the new constitution? What mechanism should be introduced so that the provinces can participate actively in the decision-making and implementation process?

I appeal to both parties that this dimension should be added to the agenda of discussion of the two parties. I hope not withstanding past disappointments and despair that Sri Lanka can produce an autochthonous constitution that would make Sri Lanka a just, democratic and equal society.

Tamil Representatives may be blamed for irreversible Tamil tragedy

by Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

My first book had an awful title (Sri Lanka: The Travails Of A Democracy) conferred by the publisher in Delhi, but the subtitle was mine, and it was Unfinished War, Protracted Crisis. Today, that war is finished but the crisis protracts.

In a critical review of that first book, Prof A.J. Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of New Brunswick and son-in law of S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, kindly ventured the opinion that “Dayan… is perhaps the last liberal thinker among the Sinhalese” (Sunday Island, March 23, 1997, p14, 16).

Significantly, the same book was met with a blistering full page critique by leading Tiger ideologue and spokesman Anton Balasingham in his Brahmagnani column, in which he said: “Sri Lankan political discourse, in recent times, has produced an amazing variety of political theorists and analysts whose main vocation seems to be to produce denunciatory criticisms of the politico-military strategy of the LTTE and offer ideas or solutions as to how to end the so-called terrorist menace. Among these political theorists Dayan Jayatilleka stands out as a unique character in his irrational and ruthless criticism of the LTTE.” (Inside Report – Tamil Eelam News Review, June 30, 1995).

Indian reviewers were divided, with Partha Ghosh, then Chairman of the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research producing a very positive assessment while Prof S.D. Muni who succeeded the more liberal Prof Urmila Phadnis as the JNU’s leading Sri Lankanologist, ripped into the book, hawkishly.

While the divergent Tamil intellectual reactions, those of Prof Wilson and Anton Balasingham, demonstrate that it is perfectly possible, as a political theorist, to adopt a stance that is anti-Tiger and is yet sensitive to Tamil nationalist sensibility; that it is precisely such a stance that Tiger i.e. hard-core violent separatist ideology and strategy finds most dangerous and takes greatest exception to; and that such a stance provides basis for combating the hard-core secessionist enemy while engaging in debate and dialogue with liberal-democratic parliamentary Tamil nationalism.

There would be many who would deride both noun and adjective contained in the late Emeritus Professor Wilson’s definition of me, and they may well be right. Still, it serves as a good entry point into my subject.

If I am a ‘liberal thinker’ then I am a liberal Realist who supports the establishment of a sufficient and permanent Sri Lankan military presence on state land in the North and East. However, I am also wary of the establishment of permanent housing for military families and the acquisition of privately owned land for that purpose.

The reason for my support and opposition is security of the state and society. Sri Lanka is one country and the state has every right to establish armed encampments and deploy its armed forces wherever it sees fit. I have no problem with the exercise of that right. Yet, just as every other right it must be exercised prudently, because the unity of Sri Lanka as a single country is not the only aspect of Sri Lanka’s reality that must be taken into account.

Ours is also a multi ethnic country with a historically evolved and stable ethno-demography. The Tamils consider the Northern Province as their ancestral land, the land of their grandfathers and great grandfathers. I have met seventh generation Malaysian Tamils who are emotionally attached to Kokuvil as their native place, where their roots run back to.

The establishment of a strong military presence is necessary because the state and the citizenry can no longer be suckered. The Sri Lankan state must internalise the military lessons of all the wars it has had to fight in the North East and deploy troops in a manner that the area is strategically as impregnable as is possible to render it. The Sri Lankan military deployments in the North and East must never be vulnerable again, militarily or logistically. They must be capable of safeguarding our outer borders as well as preventing/preempting terrorism and low intensity insurgency.

The Sri Lankan military configuration in the North and East must be capable of deterring or fighting and winning future wars. But it must not be the cause or catalyst for future conflict. That would be self-defeating because it would not enhance national security; it would undermine it.

Had Sri Lanka either been bereft of an internal ethno-national question (the Tamil question) or had the Sri Lankan military been multi ethnic in composition, the acquisition of private land for high security zones and permanent housing for military families would not have been so serious a problem. We are dealing with the reality of a mono-ethnic, monolingual, mono-religious military establishing permanent housing for their families in a differently mono-ethnic area with a high degree of sub-nationalist consciousness.

There would be those who argue that a mono-ethnic army was able, against all expectation, to win a war against terrorism and separatism on the home turf of the insurgents. This is not strictly true. The achievement of the Sri Lankan armed forces was both greater than that and different from it. The Sri Lankan army defeated a rival secessionist army, a powerful militia, not a guerrilla insurgency or terrorist network. The Tigers had long outgrown those stages and hypertrophied to the socio-politically unsustainable level of a parallel armed force, fighting a quasi-conventional war.

Today, the state must deploy the armed forces in the North and East in a manner that deters and prevents future conflict and rather than sows the seeds for it, either in the forms of terrorism, guerrilla cells or unarmed civic resistance. The establishment of permanent military bases strictly within state (‘Crown’) land is doubtless imperative to guarantee the first objective, but the acquisition of private land and the settlement of military families could trigger the latter.

The permanent settlement of military families means places of religious worship, schools, shops, cinemas, services, etc, and the first sign of protest would also mean widening the zone, narrowing access to the civilians of the area, perhaps new access roads and the proliferation of checkpoints.

This may seem an excellent method of population mixing, but that works as a method of conflict transformation only if population movement is as a result of natural economic factors, not unilateral state policy. The Tamils in Wellawatte were not brought there as part of state policy.

These ideas for the North and East are not new — and nor is the critique. A read through the Lanka Guardian and The Island’s ‘Kautilya’ column of the 1980s would show the repeated warnings by Mervyn de Silva, who was, among other things, widely acknowledged as the country’s leading expert on Israel/Palestine and the Middle East, about the ideas of a wing of the J.R. Jayewardene government of the time.

These ideas, identified with then Minister of National Security but also shared by the President’s son and security advisor Ravi Jayewardene, located in and derived from an irrelevant external matrix, were dangerously inapplicable to Sri Lanka, would worsen the ethnic problem and generate a backlash from the regional power, warned my father.

‘In an age of identity, ethnicity walks on water’ he said, pointing to inflamed sentiment in proximate Tamil Nadu and the increasingly influential Diaspora, of which the Sinhalese had no equivalent or counterweight to. As it turned out, it was not the Tamil Tiger insurgency which put a halt to Minister Athulathmudali’s and Ravi Jayewardene’s importation of ‘the West Bank model’ as the Lanka Guardian called it, but precisely the ‘geo-political realities’ – the absence or furling of a superpower umbrella in the event of an abrupt assertion by the regional power — that Mervyn de Silva had tried to drum home into the ruling elite, to no avail, until the external ‘seismic shock’ of mid-1987.

Sri Lanka is today at a crossroads. One road leads to reconciliation and a fresh start which enables us to integrate with Asia’s march to modernity. The other leads to a new and prolonged cycle of conflict.

The right kind of security policy for the North and East, a policy which derives from the best practises globally, a policy which is scientific and professional rather than driven by wrong interpretations of history and ethno-religious motivations, will enhance and ensure security. The wrong kind of security policy for the post-war North and East in which Sri Lankan armed forces cantonments become interlinked oases embedded a hostile local population, may turn the entire area into a high insecurity zone.

Realism tells us that the North and East have to be secure over the long term. It tells us that the Sri Lankan security forces will remain overwhelmingly mono-ethnic at least in the short term. Realism, which is drawn in large part from world history, further tells us that in such a situation, a policy of permanent encampments and fortifications must be accompanied by alliances with the local elites and a degree of local autonomy. That autonomy must not be so large as to be dysfunctional to security and strategy but must be sufficiently broad to preempt local disaffection. This has been the policy of successful empires from Rome to Britain.

Sadly, it would seem as though Sri Lankan policy projections do not involve this latter aspect of sufficient local autonomy, and that the security aspect is designed to overlook, override, bypass or undermine that local autonomy should it be implemented under external pressure or internal political compulsion.

The great Asian strategic thinker-practitioner Mao Ze Dong advocated a policy of ‘walking on two legs’. We seem intent on marching forward on one. The increased alienation of the Tamil people of the North and a widening gulf between the collective psyches of our main communities cannot be a pathway to stable security and permanent peace. The so-called demographic solution is no solution, as has been proved even in its conceptual birthplace — and notwithstanding a superpower blank cheque that Sri Lanka will never have.

While ‘facts are being created on the ground’, if the elected representatives of the Tamil people remain divided, with some dreaming of self-determination and others of federalism, and still others refuse to talk to their erstwhile comrades who are in government, instead of collectively pressing for the reasonable demand of the ‘turnkey’ re-activation of the existing constitutional provisions as reiterated in bilateral statements and international undertakings, then these Tamil representatives will have only themselves to blame for the continuing and perhaps irreversible Tamil tragedy. Thus, the war is won, the conflict is recessed and latent, but the crisis looks set to continue.

Rajapaksa plan was to defeat Tigers without giving any political concessions to the Tamils

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

DELUSION, n. The father of a most respectable family, comprising Enthusiasm, Affection, Self-denial, Faith, Hope, Charity and many other goodly sons and daughters.” — Ambrose Bierce (The Devil’s Dictionary)

The prime target of Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s delusive fast was neither the UN nor its Secretary General, but the Lankan public.

Minister Weerawansa and his political handlers would have known that their attempt at blackmailing the UN Secretary General was bound to fail. And, as even the Sinhala nationalist defenders of Weerawansa’s actions admit, the fast was not really meant to end in, death. So why fast, if one knew that the UN was not going to knuckle down?

And why call it a fast-unto-death, if there was no real intention of, fasting unto death?

Minister Weerawansa’s was a pseudo fast (unto death) and its real aim was to delude the Lankan people into forgetting, at least momentarily, their many substantive discontents and rally round the Rajapaksas in outrageous ire against the ‘evil machinations’ of the latest ‘arch-villain’, Ban Ki Moon.

Juvenal in his Tenth Satire came up with the term ‘bread and circuses/games’ (panem et circenses) to describe the methods used by Roman emperors to divert public attention from the debasement and disappearance of political rights, consequent to the transition of Rome from a republic into an empire: “The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things – bread and games!” (Vanity of Human Wishes).

Minister Weerawansa’s fasting drama was aimed at deluding the populace into forgetting their many cares, including the exorbitant prices of bread. What better poseur to implement this carefully choreographed show than Minister Weerawansa and what better theme, than patriotism, which, as Ambrose Bierce said, is the first resort of the scoundrel.

Minister Weerawansa’s antics indicate with what contempt he and his political masters hold the Lankan people. The thespian exercise which began with such melodramatic intensity (with Minister Weerawansa, in an absurd echo of Che Guevara’s ‘Message To The Tricontinental’, asking others to take his place, if he dies from his fast) ended less than two and a half days later, on a pledge given by President Rajapaksa not to betray the armed forces! In a bizarre post-script, multi-coloured posters appeared on Colombo walls thanking Minister Weerawansa for his patriotic feat.

Cleary the Rajapaksas and their coterie believe that the southern public is easily dupable. Other pieces of absurdist theatre will follow, aimed at promoting the Rajapaksa message of combined triumphalism and fear: we have won a unique victory but an envious West is trying to destroy us, so forget all cares and concerns and rally round the patriotic Rajapaksas to save the motherland.

The Tiger was a past-master at anesthetising the Tamil people into compliance by creating beguiling or frightening illusions. The Rajapaksas seem to be following suit. Minister Weerawansa’s farcical fast is indicative of the regime’s preferred method of dealing with thorny issues – creating illusions which are often the complete antithesis of the reality (the death-fast which was not a death-fast). Nowhere is this practice more prevalent than in the economy.

The politicised Central Bank (which is beginning to resemble Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Plenty’) routinely celebrates stupendous economic successes, while the lower and the middle classes struggle to survive financially. There is always a moment and an opportunity to avoid the downfall, before the trickle becomes a tide and the public becomes anesthetized by familiarity to regard the abnormal as normal. One of the earliest warnings about the Rajapaksa brand of delusive politics came in 2006 from the then Auditor General.

In a report, the Auditor General warned about a new tendency to inflate revenue figures and claimed that Sri Lanka lost Rs. 360 billion due to weaknesses and inadequacies in its revenue collection system and the carelessness of its Ministry of Finance. The Finance Ministry responded, not by taking remedial measures, but by contradicting the Auditor General and implying that his report was a tissue of lies. Since then, inflating revenue figures and deflating expenditure figures have become the regime’s tried and tested method of reducing budget deficits, on paper; supplementary estimates are introduced subsequently to bridge the gap.

Governance by delusion is necessary because a more reality based approach would interfere (perhaps terminally) with the Rajapaksa project. There is a pithy Sinhala proverb which can be translated, inelegantly, as ‘one does not pluck a honeycomb just to lick one’s fingers’ – meaning when a man attempts a difficult or dangerous task, he does so in anticipation of ample reward. The real goal of Velupillai Pirapaharan was not Tamil Eelam but Tiger Eelam; and his single-minded pursuit of Tiger Eelam undermined the Tamil cause terminally. The Rajapaksas defeated the LTTE not to create a unitary Sri Lanka but to create a unitary Sri Lanka under Rajapaksa rule.

The Rajapaksas’ plan was to defeat the Tigers militarily, without making any political concessions to the Tamils, thereby winning the gratitude of the Sinhalese and, as a mark of that gratitude, their freely given consent for long term Familial Rule. The President and his brothers are still popular in the South. But this happy state may not last, if the much awaited peace dividend does not materialise. And the peace dividend cannot materialise so long as the present budgetary bias of guns over butter remains.

Occupation is an expensive business; every anti-democratic or Sinhala supremacist measure breeds resentment among the subjugated Tamils, creating an increasing need for men in arms to maintain stability. According to media reports, the Navy is seeking permission to set up a camp in a neglected cashew plantation in Vaharai; two Hindu Kovils in Trinco and one in Batticaloa have been taken over by the Army upon being been categorised (by the UDA?) as unauthorised structures; two magistrates hearing cases against pro-Rajapaksa Tamil politicians have been transferred, willy-nilly; the government is to build houses for soldiers in the North while the task of building houses for displaced Tamils have been delegated to the Indians; Wellawatte police has begun registering Tamil residents again.

The Rajapaksa policy of ruling the North through compulsion (‘consent without consent’) would turn high defence allocations into a budgetary staple. This in turn will create a politico-military complex (led by the Defence Secretary) with a vested interest in maintaining the budgetary bias of guns over butter at whatever cost.

Unfortunately for the regime, the lopsided nature of the budget impacts negatively on the South via the non-appearance of the peace dividend. The Ruling Family’s solution to this dilemma is to appeal to the darker side of the collective Sinhala psyche by inculcating fear and hatred, jingoism and xenophobia.

A research conducted by the York University in the UK has found that anxiety and uncertainty can make people more prone to political radicalism or religious extremism, according to the July issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The South is being fed on a daily fare of Tiger resurgence and international conspiracies in order to justify the Rajapaksa politics of extremism and intolerance.

According to this xenophobic narrative, the West is jealous of us and is out to get us because we have succeeded where they are failing. The UN Secretary General is playing their game. The white barbarians are at the gate, so we must take all measures necessary to protect politically what we have won militarily. Thus every other issue must be de-prioritised, from the gradual replacement of democratic governance with Familial Rule and the possible consequences of the loss of the GSP+ facility to the anti-popular nature of the budget and the worsening dengue epidemic (132 deaths and 19,960 reported cases so far; most of the victims are children).

A combination of phantom enemies and phantom achievements can serve multiple purposes, from winning the consent of the Sinhalese to long term Familial Rule to excusing the crimes and misdeeds, the ineptness and incapacities of the regime. The economic and political cost of this delusive and demented politics will have to be borne by the masses, especially the Sinhalese in whose name it is being practised. That too is apposite. The Tamils had to pay the full price for allowing the LTTE to hijack their cause and speak in their name. Someday it will be our turn.

In October 2006, the ruling SLFP and the opposition UNP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement a Common National Agenda. The MoU, singed at an auspicious hour amidst much fanfare, was to last for two years. ‘This agreement today is to achieve peace and a political solution’, Wickremesinghe declared; ‘We have placed the country first’ President Rajapaksa announced.

The MoU’s Common National Agenda consisted of four issues: finding a political solution to the North-Eastern conflict, reforming the electoral system, ensuring Good Governance and achieving Social Development. An air of peace and goodwill permeated the South. The West was thrilled and optimists everywhere declared the beginning of a new era.

In reality the political marriage between the SLFP and the UNP turned out to be not so much a marriage as the briefest of flings. Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe both had partisan and personal political reasons for signing a truce with each other. The inner-party feud between President Rajapaksa and Mangala Samaraweera was gathering momentum while a group of UNPers, including Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, were feeling restive about the less than happy state of their party.

The real purpose of the MoU between the SLFP and UNP was to pave the way for the defeat of these potential inner-party challenges to the absolutist leaderships of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe. The MoU ended in acrimony in February 2007, with 18 UNP parliamentarians defecting to the government. By that time both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe had stabilised themselves by ensuring that the respective inner-party rebellions were stillborn.

News about a new pow-wow between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe is trickling out. According to media reports, the two parties may work together to produce a new consensual constitution. If the past practices of both leaders are any indication, this détente too is likely to be an illusion perpetrated by President Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe to hoodwink the public. Wickremesinghe needs to hang on to party leadership, at whatever the cost; therefore it would be in his interest to ensure that the government does not back any of the contenders to his job.

The Rajapaksas need to present a moderate façade to the world even as they pursue their brand of extremist politics. They also need to present a fait accompli in the form of a readymade two-thirds majority to silence the handful of grumblers in the UPFA (to call them dissenters would be to overstate the case); preventing the opposition parties from launching a united public campaign against the removal of presidential term limits would be another aim.

A pseudo-détente would enable Ranil Wickremesinghe to beat back potential contenders and confuse and confound the few UPFA grumblers. This powwow too will end in a stillborn inner party rebellion in the UNP and a new wave of defections to the government. Ranil Wickremesinghe will be able to hang on to the leadership of an ever diminishing party while the Rajapaksas will be able to clear the sole constitutional impediment to dynastic rule. The deluded public will not reap any benefits, but that is the usual fate of all dupes

Ban Ki-Moon, Navi Pillai and John Holmes brief UN Security Council on "Accountability" in Sri Lanka

by S. V. Kirubaharan in France

During the peak days of the war, every time the UN Security Council wanted to raise concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka, the government sought the help of Russia and China and managed to prevent any discussion.

But on July 7, the same government which prevented any discussion in the Security Council was compelled to make a statement defending their side! This could be the beginning of impending dark days for Sri Lanka.

It is astonishing that the international media never covered this meeting. Some local media may not be aware; some may have had too much on their plate. As usual the government Pied Pipers did their self-censorship. Not surprisingly a Tamil diaspora English online media took the same position too.

It is rather like the media and news agencies which operated during the Communist/Socialist period in Russia and China. The simple theory is: “let the readers know only what we like and what we write”. Journalists who talk about free media and freedom of expression should be ashamed of what they are doing.

On July 7th, the UN Security Council called a meeting on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”. It is well known that there are five permanent members in the Security Council — France, United Kingdom, United States, Russia and China. In the meantime there are 10 non-permanent members who are elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years. Presently these are Japan, Turkey, Lebanon, Nigeria, Uganda, Gabon, Mexico, Brazil, Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the UN rules, members of the Security Council hold the presidency, rotating every month according to the English alphabetical listing of its member states. On that basis, the present President of the Security Council is Prof. Joy U. Ogwu, Ambassador of Nigeria.

Joint Briefing to the Security Council

On July 7th when the President of the Security Council opened up the debate, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon along with Humanitarian Chief John Holmes and the High Commissioner for Human Rights gave a Joint Briefing to the Security Council.

These three speakers made their interventions at the beginning of the morning session. They all spoke about many situations including Sri Lanka. Ban Ki-Moon said that, “In Sri Lanka, I have emphasized the importance of an accountability process for alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law by all sides in the conflict that ended there last year. I have appointed a Panel of Experts to advise me on these issues”.

Sir John Holmes who took the floor after Ban Ki-Moon said, “….So I urge the Council to take a robust approach to accountability. National justice systems must remain the first line of defense. But when they prove unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice and provide remedies to victims, the international community must explore alternative means. I welcome the Commission of Inquiry launched by the Secretary General for crimes committed during violence in Guinea last September.

And I welcome the panel set up by the Secretary General to advise him on accountability for violations of humanitarian and human rights law in Sri Lanka, especially in the last stages of the conflict in that country, and the mechanism recently set up by the Government of Sri Lanka.”

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navaneetham Pillai : Recalling the conflict in Sri Lanka, (she) said there had been unacceptably high civilian losses caused by both sides, noting also that some progress had been made since the end of the conflict in returning and resettling internally displaced persons.

Concrete initiatives must now follow to provide justice and redress to victims, while promoting accountability and longer-term reconciliation. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to set up an expert panel to advise him on the issues in Sri Lanka.

France, UK and Mexico welcomed the Advisory Committee

Following these three interventions, the member countries started their deliberations. Out of the 15 members of the Security Council, two permanent members – France and the United Kingdom welcomed the move by the Secretary General to appoint the Advisory Committee on Sri Lanka and made a request to Sri Lanka to cooperate with this committee.

Out of the 10 non-permanent members, Mexico endorsed the Secretary General’s appointment of this Committee. There were a few other countries that indirectly supported the Secretary General’s action. According to the Security Council’s rule, “………A State which is a Member of the United Nations but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that that country’s interests are affected……..” On these grounds a few countries that were interested in contributing to the day’s debate were also present in the Council. The morning session ended with interventions made by all member states of the Security Council and non-members Uruguay, Germany and Italy.

In the afternoon when the Security Council commenced its session, the President of the Council Prof. Joy U. Ogwu, informed that two other members – Afghanistan and Sri Lanka had requested her permission to make interventions. Then states like Afghanistan, Canada, South Africa, Liechtenstein, Argentina, India, Israel, European Union, Switzerland, Australia, Bangladesh, Peru, Pakistan, Norway, Venezuela, Syria, Colombia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Armenia made their interventions.

“90% of the IDPs are resettled?”

I presume that none of you would expect me to write what was said by the Sri Lanka representative in the Security Council. Even though the UN Press release claims that this intervention was made by Palitha Kohona, it was in fact somebody else who read this statement. Anyway, this intervention consisted of the same old stories and the habitual use of the terms: terrorist, suicide attacks, internal conflict, state sovereignty etc. The most ridiculous part of the statement was the assertion that 90 percent of the IDPs were settled.

A paragraph from the statement by Sri Lanka is given below: “The cost of armed conflict on civilians and the need for accountability is a matter of concern to all democratic and elected governments including our government. Quite often and quite naturally, the focus on civilian casualties is centered on the life and property damage caused in military operations while insufficient consideration is given to the thousands of lives lost in suicide attacks on civilian targets by non state actors. We have to devise means to also hold non state actors accountable and to recognise the asymmetrical nature of conflicts where democratic states are confronted by ruthless terrorist groups who pay scant attention to the rules of war and challenge conventional armies on how best to protect vulnerable civilian populations”.

Predictably, the speaker mentioned nothing about the saga created by one of their ministers, who is blocking the activity of the UN office in Colombo.

Old statement with a new date

We have witnessed that Sri Lankan ambassadors in Geneva always wait for a statement from Colombo. I am sure it must be the same practice in New York. In case of delay in receiving the statement, an old one is used with a new date and a few amendments! If I recollect rightly, in 1998 or ‘99, the first Secretary in the Sri Lankan delegation read out a pre-prepared statement in the then UN Commission on Human Rights and it was a real comedy.

One of the Western diplomats ridiculed them by giving a leaflet, with details where they could find a good English course. I understand this same person was later posted to the High Commission in the United Kingdom! But Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka was a completely different personality. He didn’t expect a statement from Colombo and he made his statements without even a piece of paper on his desk.

The usual proceedings in the UN Forums is that whoever presents a report and the delegations of countries referred to in that report get a second chance for a right to reply at the end of all the interventions. It depends on the situation. On that basis, Lebanon took the floor to exercise the right to reply to the intervention made by Israel.

During the afternoon session, Ban Ki-Moon and Navaneetham Pillai were not present in the Council. Sir John Holmes was present and asked for the floor to remark on points raised by certain countries including Sri Lanka.

John Holmes stated that he wished to inform the Sri Lankan representative that the Advisory Committee will inquire about what was done by non-state actors as well. He added that a government minister in Sri Lanka is blocking the activities of the office of the UN and the government distances itself from the Minister’s action saying that they have no connection to it.

Sri Lanka’s representative’s intervention in the Security Council was counterproductive because until he had made his intervention none of the speakers in the Council, had made any remarks about the saga happening in front of the UN office in Colombo.

In conclusion, Sri Lankan affairs have finally reached the Security Council in the presence of nearly 40 diplomats. This can be considered a giant step of the United Nations

July 17, 2010

My decision to stage a fast unto death was not a sudden initiative

by Wimal Weerawansa

I believe these are, to say the least, controversial times for me, my party and the government because of the events of the past week. The fast unto death that I staged gave rise to a lot of discussion and there were many bouquets and brickbats that came my way.

I therefore think that it is only correct that I should provide not only an explanation for what happened but that I should also put the record straight with regard to some of the speculation that surrounded those events.

The decision to stage a fast unto death was not a sudden, spur of the moment initiative. When United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki moon first announced that he was appointing an 'advisory panel' to instruct him on the final stages of Sri Lanka's war against terror, we in the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP) saw that as a first step in a dangerous chain of events.

Ban Ki moon had 'opened a file', so to speak, on Sri Lanka. It could lead to the appointment of an investigation panel and then to the summoning of Sri Lanka's Commander-in-Chief, armed forces chiefs and war heroes before a war crimes tribunal.

We also thought that Ban Ki moon had unilaterally exceeded his mandate as the Secretary General. If he was concerned about events in Sri Lanka he could have made representations to either the Security Council or the Human Rights Council of the UN. Instead, he took this rather unusual step.

Contrary to what he has been saying in some quarters, the joint statement he made with the government when he visited Sri Lanka in May 2009 also has no reference to the government agreeing to such a panel. That statement says: "The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances". Therefore it is clear that it is the government that is responsible for any issues regarding accountability.

We also noted that faced with all this, the government had rejected the panel and announced that its members would not be granted visas. Therefore, while it was pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels we in the JNP decided that we should embark on measures that would lead to massive public opinion both locally and internationally against Ban Ki moon.

We were of the opinion that the UN and indeed Ban Ki moon had become a puppet in the hands of a few western nations such as the United States. They resented Sri Lanka's victory against terror. They would have wished to see the creation of an East Timor like situation here, where they would have a greater say in our internal affairs. The appointment of the 'advisory panel' was in retaliation to Sri Lanka's refusal to give in to the demands of these western nations and the UN during the final stages of our war against terror.

We in the JNP were among those who were first and foremost in the forefront in urging the government to prosecute the war to a finish, when others were considering peace talks and negotiated settlements. Therefore, if any harm were to befall the government, the armed forces and their leaders as a result of prosecuting the war, we felt we were somewhat responsible.

At the JNP, we first decided that we would launch a protest march to the UN head office in Colombo and that two former MPs and a provincial councillor would then begin an indefinite fast there. Former parliamentarians Mohammed Muzammil and Nimal Premawansa along with Provincial Councillor Senarathne Silva began the fast.

No hostage taking

We never had any intention of taking UN staff hostage, as some allege nor did we have any plans to hurt anyone. None of the vehicles in the UN compound were damaged in any way during the entire episode. Not even a rotten egg was thrown at the UN. In fact, a pregnant lady officer who wanted to leave the office was allowed to do so without any fuss. This is in marked contrast, for instance, to the protests in Canada against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where the protestors inflicted considerable damage.

On the contrary, we were at the receiving end of violence from the Police during the protest march. Two of our party stalwarts, former minister Piyasiri Wijenayake and our Publicity Secretary Priyanjith Vitharana were injured.


It was then that I intervened to prevent the incident from escalating any further. I spoke to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa from my mobile phone. Now, there is a rumour that the Defence Secretary used my phone to order a Deputy Inspector General of Police at the scene to withdraw the Police! That is simply not true. I learnt that after I spoke to the Defence Secretary, he had given the necessary instructions to the Inspector General of Police.

During the protests, Foreign Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe who arrived at the scene arranged for an activist, Dr. Wasantha Bandara to meet the UN staff. Dr. Bandara explained the purpose of the protest to them, assured them that they would not be harmed and requested them to convey to Ban Ki moon our request to withdraw his 'advisory panel'.

That night, the JNP met again to decide on our future course of action. We decided that one of our three sitting MPs-Achala Jagoda, Weerakumara Dissanayake or myself-should stage a fast unto death. There was agreement that the maximum impact would be derived if I were to stage the fast, but there were those in the party who were opposed to my joining the fast as well.

The fast was hard

I took care not to inform those near and dear to me about my plans. I told my wife Shashini that I would be staging a fast but didn't tell her that it was to be a fast unto death. I know that some are suggesting that this was all a drama staged and directed by those holding the highest offices in the government but the truth is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was not informed. He was in the Maldive Islands anyway but I knew that if he came to know that I was to begin a fast unto death, he would dissuade me and I would have found it difficult to say no to his request.

Prior to the fast, I also prepared a letter of resignation from the Cabinet. I knew that at some point an accusation would be levelled that, because I was a cabinet minister, I was bringing the government into disrepute due to my actions. I was not fasting because I was a cabinet minister; I was fasting as a citizen of this country. So, I wanted to resign if that contention was made.

The following morning, we held a media briefing and announced that ‘an MP’ would be staging a fast unto death unless Ban Ki moon withdrew his panel. We did not reveal his identity until the fast actually began.

At this stage, I honestly believed I could continue the fast unto death but I was not sure whether Ban Ki moon would withdraw his panel, even if I did so. But I did know that by my actions, I could generate massive public opinion against Ban Ki moon and his advisory panel whereas until that point in time only those who were politically sensitive were aware of the Secretary General's designs on Sri Lanka.
The fast itself was an unusual experience for me. The heat and the dust added to the significant discomfort I felt because of hunger pangs, gastric pain and headache. Yet, the sentiments etched on the faces of those who gathered around me gave me the courage to continue.

I am happy that I can honestly say that I really fasted without any food or drink. I was determined to stop taking water from the outset itself, which is not the case in most death fasts where protestors would initially take water before giving it up eventually.

The setting for the fast was an open venue, so anyone would have clearly spotted any indiscretions had I attempted them. In fact, a private television station which appears to dislike my forthrightness stationed cameramen round the clock-and their cameras were trained on me throughout!

On the second day of my fast, our party had arranged for a message to be handed over to the Russian Embassy in Colombo. It was to express our appreciation of their opposition to Ban Ki moon's 'advisory panel' and also to request them to pressurise the Secretary General to withdraw the panel. I was told that this was an unqualified success.

Meanwhile, I learnt that the UN had responded to my fast, but in doing so they were forced to utter half- truths and blatant lies to cover their lapses. They announced that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office would be relocated, implying that this was a consequence of my actions when the reality was that this decision was taken much earlier.

They stated that the UN head office in Colombo was closed that day-when in fact there was free movement in and out of the office. They also claimed that the UN's chief officer in Colombo, Resident Co-ordinator Neil Buhne was being 'recalled' when in fact he was only being summoned to New York for discussions.

That day, ministers Douglas Devananda, Keheliya Rambukwella, Bandula Gunawardena and Dinesh Gunawardena visited me. Minister Dinesh Gunawardena informed me that although it was the traditional post-Budget dinner in Parliament, they had left without dining because they knew I was on a death fast.

Keheliya and Bandula told me that before visiting me, they were with President Rajapaksa-who had by then returned from the Maldives. They wanted me to end the fast and said that some were suggesting that my actions were embarrassing the government.

I told them to convey to the President that I did not wish to give up the fast. However, I informed them that I would do what I can about causing embarrassment to the government. It was thereafter that I dispatched my letter of resignation to the President's office.

Then, I learnt that the President had spoken to my wife and my daughter Vimasha. He had told my daughter that he would bring her father home 'soon'. Fortunately my son Vibhuthi was away in the United Kingdom, on an educational tour with his schoolmates at Ananda College.

As the second day ended, I felt quite weak and dizzy but the large crowds who had gathered by now gave me the strength and determination to continue with my fast.

As the third day dawned, the Army had taken control of the environs. I believe this was necessary because the crowds would at times become emotional because they were concerned about my health and worried that some harm would befall me.

There was some speculation that the President wanted to visit me that day at about eleven a.m. When I heard this I conveyed to the President through intermediaries that he should not do so, as it was inappropriate. However, he did meet with a delegation from the JNP that day where he had rejected my resignation letter.

The President had told the delegation that he was not prepared to sacrifice me to please someone. But he had also said that now it was time for me to give up the fast because he was pursuing the issue of the 'advisory panel' with the UN. In fact, when Neil Buhne had met him, the President had told him to convey to Ban Ki moon our concerns with a request that he withdraws his panel.

By this time, those who were monitoring my health, led by Dr. Sisira Siribaddana, were becoming concerned. I was dehydrated, my gastric condition had worsened and my heart rate was rising indicating that medical complications of the fast were now taking its toll. Medical staff who were there offered me saline. I refused, but they insisted and forcibly gave me an infusion.

Decision to end fast

There was also some conjecture that the Army was about to take me forcibly in an ambulance for treatment. I pleaded that this should not be allowed to happen. That was when I told the media-although I could hardly speak by then-that I would not abandon the fast even if the President requested me to do so and that the only person capable of ending my fast was Ban Ki moon.

The Maha Sangha began visiting me in large numbers. Ven. Velamitiyawe Kusaldhamma Thera came from his hospital bed to visit me. I was also visited by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who urged me to call of the fast saying I should live if I was to continue my struggle.

That evening ministers Susil Premajayantha and Anura Yapa visited me. They were alarmed by what they saw. Despite my protests, they informed the President-who was by then in Kandy-that my health condition had taken a turn for the worse.

Apparently the President cancelled the rest of his scheduled engagements for the day. He couldn't board a helicopter from Kandy because of the heavy rains there. He had travelled by road to Mawanella from where he boarded a chopper for Colombo.

By then, the situation at the fast had become tense. Some of those in the crowds that had gathered had become hostile towards our party workers for allowing me to continue with the fast. They were saying that I shouldn't be allowed to die and threatening to set fire to themselves.

Because of all these emerging issues, the JNP had met again that day. They informed me that they had decided that I should call off the fast. I protested saying that I had begun the fast as a fast unto death and that I cannot call it off without winning my demands.

Our party members then said that the decision to commence the fast and to nominate me for the fast was a party decision and that if I had abided by that decision I should abide by this decision too. They also informed me that the President would be visiting me shortly. Soon afterwards, President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived to the cheers of the crowd. They were urging him to save my life. He had tears in his eyes.

It was a very difficult moment for me. In the end, I decided that considering the high emotions expressed by those who had gathered, the request from my party much against my wishes and the President's decision to forego protocol and visit me personally, I would end the fast.

The President called my daughter Vimasha and said, 'Come, duwa, let us give thaaththa some water'. Together, they offered me water which I drank. It was an emotional moment for me but its full impact dawned on me only later because I was quite dizzy and my vision was blurred. I was whisked away by ambulance to the Army Hospital.

Will do it again if need arises

I learnt that the President had dispatched his personal physician, Professor S.D. Jayaratne to see me. The results of the tests conduced on me showed some weaknesses in my system. The President also visited me at the Army Hospital. My physician, Dr. Siribaddana wanted me transferred to a private hospital but the President disagreed, saying I needed privacy at that moment. Ministers Basil Rajapaksa and Dullas Alahapperuma also visited me at the hospital.

The next morning I learnt that fate had been unkind to me too: my mother who had been ill for a few weeks had passed away the previous night. She was not aware that I had begun a fast unto death and she was not allowed to watch television news bulletins or read the newspapers, so I believe she did not know of what had transpired when she passed away.

When I came home on Monday, it was to find my mother's remains lying at my residence. I had to attend to duties related to her funeral and for the next few days, I had little time to reflect on the political implications of what I had embarked on.

But now, I have done so. I am indeed proud of what I did. I would argue that it took us two years and more than a hundred public meetings to educate the Sri Lankan public that Norwegian intervention in this country was detrimental to us. It took a lot of hard work to drill that into the psyche of the average Sri Lankan.

Yet, in three days I was able to enlighten most Sri Lankans-except those who steadfastly refuse to believe the obvious-that Ban Ki moon's actions are similarly vindictive. As a result, today every schoolboy knows about his advisory panel and understands why we should resist it. As I see it, that is my victory.
In any event, I was not attempting to change the mindset of those who have an innate sense of hatred towards our motherland. I was only addressing those have even the slightest feeling towards our nation. If I was able to rouse them from apathy to action, then I have succeeded.

I must re-iterate that this was not a conflict with the UN. It was only a struggle against Ban Ki moon and the interests he represents. I am not ashamed of how that struggle was waged-no one was hurt, no property was damaged.

To the criticism that I gave up the fast without Ban Ki moon yielding to my demands, I note that he has taken a step back. His latest statement says that his panel will not target individuals and that is a significant shift in his stance.

These critics probably fail to realise that even when Mahathma Gandhi staged his death fasts, he was at times compelled to give them up at the insistence of his colleagues and the general public. We demonstrated to the world that there are enough patriots in this country who will risk their lives for the honour and dignity of their nation. I am confident that as long as there are such persons amongst us, the plans of Ban Ki moon-and those others like him-will never succeed.

We will soon extend our protests overseas. Already, there have been protests at the UN office in Geneva. Another protest is planned at the UN office in Japan. I do not for a moment believe that what I did has cost us international support. If the Non-Aligned Movement is reticent about supporting us, that is because of their concerns regarding Israel-and not because of what I did.

I did learn one lesson though-if I were to stage another fast unto death, it would be in such an environment that I would be immune to the pressures of others, so I could carry out my obligations to the end without hindrance and interference from those who I know have my best interests at heart. Having to defy them was the most difficult task I had to confront.

Nevertheless, as a politician I firmly believe that I should be able to play the role demanded of me at a particular moment in time. Therefore, even in the future, if the occasion calls for it, I would not hesitate to fast unto death once again. ~ courtesy: the sunday times ~

Government restricts movement to Vanni by UN, NGO and INGO staff

by Namini Wijedasa

It is more than one year since the war ended but the government from the end of June 2010 has introduced new restrictions on movement to the Wanni by staff of UN agencies, NGOs and INGOs.

Why? While there is no official explanation — as is often the case now — it is speculated the government is worried that negative reports about the ground situation in the Wanni would reach the international community via these “agents”. It was pointed out that similar fears had once led to restrictions on entry to IDP camps.

Asked how the nature of their work has changed since June, local UN sources said the new restrictions had taken them by surprise. UN and other vehicles had suddenly been turned away by the army at Omanthai checkpoint saying they now needed defence ministry permission to enter the Wanni whereas earlier authorization from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Northern Development had sufficed.

“At the end of June, no vehicles and staff were getting through,” said an authoritative source in Vavuniya. Instructions had been sent to the security forces headquarters in Vavuniya that no NGO or UN vehicles should be allowed through to the Wanni without defence ministry permission. There had been no advance notice.

“This is one of the problems we face, the frustration of not being officially notified that the government is going to change the access requirement,” said a UN official, on condition of anonymity. Another said that activities in the Wanni reached a “standstill” as NGOs and UN agencies tried to figure out the new system.

“Some work has been going on with people who are based in the Wanni getting access and limited supplies have been going through,” he said. “But there have been no major deliveries since June and we don’t know why these restrictions were introduced”

Earlier, it was also possible to inform the security forces headquarters in Vavuniya and to arrange permission locally. As long as the projects had PTF approval, staff and vehicles could go through. Since the change, however, defence ministry authorization is required for each trip and staff member. Given the large number of trips and staff members involved, this would mean endless time-wasting at the ministry of defence for no explicit reason.

UN sources said there was now indication from the government that the restrictions would be eased “somewhat” from Monday. “We have been told that some UN staff will be permitted to enter the Wanni on the basis of 24-hour advance notification provided to the security force headquarters in Vavuniya but we don’t know how the system will work in practice,” said one of the UN officials earlier quoted. “We will test it only on Monday. Hopefully it will go back, more or less, to the old system.”

But authoritative sources said these changes have been approved only for some UN staff of some UN agencies and that this was not acceptable to the organization. “There are some issues with the list,” the official said. “We are hoping it will be all UN staff and that the procedure will be applicable to NGOs as well.”

Laxman Hulugalle, head of the NGO Secretariat, denied that there were new restrictions on movement of UN agencies and non-governmental agencies in the Wanni. He said the PTF had earlier forwarded their applications for approval to the defence ministry; the only difference now was that the organizations were required to do this themselves. He dismissed speculation that the government was worried about negative reports reaching the international community via UN agencies or NGOs.

Hulugalle also denied rumours that a re-registration of all NGOs was on the cards. “Some NGOs are registered, some are working without registration,” he said. “We are looking at all of them but nothing has been decided.” Meanwhile, the proposed new act to regulate NGOs is shelved for the moment, he claimed.

Meanwhile, a senior UN official said he did not think the access restrictions were related to the setting up of an advisory panel on accountability for war crimes by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I don’t think the panel helped the mood,” he guessed. “I think they just decided to put in another layer of control.”

“We have experience this before at the Omanthai and Medawachchiya checkpoints but that was in a conflict situation,” said one UN worker, on condition of anonymity. “This is a peacetime situation and the government needs us in there to help with some of the things that are their priorities like getting people back to their homes, just providing the very basics of what is needed.”

As for the spat between the government and the UN secretary-general over the expert panel, it is learnt that the UN agencies in Sri Lanka are “trying to keep the operational separated from the more diplomatic elements this has taken on”.

“We are concerned with regard to being able to carry out our ongoing activities,” said one UN source, also opting to remain unnamed. The conversation between the UNSG and the government is happening at a different level. “But its impact on our work is of great concern to us,” this source said. “We are back to business as usual but we will be diligent in terms of monitoring this and seeing how it impacts on how we are able to do regular work.” - courtesy: Lakbima News -

Mahinda and Ranil engage in engagement of convenience

by Namini Wijedasa

Nothing pulls at the Sri Lankan heartstrings more than two political enemies briefly compartmentalising their mutual loathing to beam hypocritically at each other with the objective, however fleeting, of convincing a gullible public that, this is it: “We are chums now”.

Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa are currently engaged in such an exercise. After it became obvious to the latter that his proposal to remove the term limit on the executive presidency was too risky to be tried, he switched gear to a more digestible alternative—the creation of an executive prime ministry.

The president then figured that, rather than conducting this whole business of constitutional change behind closed doors (as he is often prone to do), he will infuse some welcome transparency into the process by inviting others to participate.

Ranil was the first recipient of Mahinda’s magnanimity. He was asked to shuffle along to Temple Trees where the pair of them chatted like old friends before agreeing to meet again with other members of their parties. So, Ranil hobbled into Temple Trees once more with a bunch of UNP cohorts and they chatted some more. The next day, they even shared expensive distilled beverages and grub at Dinesh Gunawardena’s house after a productive (we hope) discussion on electoral reform.

Then, on Friday, Ranil and President Rajapaksa were spotted guffawing with each other at a public event in Anuradhapura. Sigh. They’ll be holding hands next and strolling into the sunset. No?

Of course, we have seen this sort of thing before, leaders who despise each other pretending to set aside their differences for national interest. And we think that it may even have worked occasionally in the distant past.

But the only time this formula saw success in recent years is when the 17th Amendment was passed. And our political leaders remain so flabbergasted at their lapse that they are still trying to undo the damage of having collaborated to enact that exasperating piece of legislation. (For all his bellyaching about the non-implementation of the 17th Amendment, we know Ranil doesn’t want it either).

So where will the latest Ranil-Mahinda confab end up? Not where that earlier Ranil-Mahinda confab ended up we hope. WHAT confab? Why, have we already forgotten the famous SLFP-UNP marriage of October 2006 when Ranil and Mahinda (very much like today) embarked on a series of convivial chats that culminated in the actual signing of an agreement between the two? An EM-OH-U, it was called in bars and bus stops.

At the time, Ranil and Mahinda agreed to collaborate on matters of — and no brownie points for guessing this one — national interest. Less than six months later, in February 2007, national interest was kind of flung to the mongrels when 17 UNP parliamentarians defected to the government without so much as a C-U-BYE to Ranil. And this, after all those smiley photos and clammy handshakes had left hordes of pathetic optimists around the country bleating euphorically about how Mahinda and Ranil had finally forged a bold and historic alliance for the good of the country.

But let’s not put a damper on the current spate of babble between Mahinda and Ranil. It does not become us Sri Lankans to be sardonic, sceptical and miserly (unless the occasion really calls for it).We must plod on with political naivety forever drummed into our psyches, our faces wearing looks of believing adulation and our minds conditioned towards blind worship. Reality is too harsh for us Sri Lankans. The key to our survival is our indefatigable capacity to be led on.

So lead on, oh Ranil and oh Mahinda. For the moment, these talks suit both sides. Ranil can momentarily divert attention from his despondent failure to lead his party and his even more miserable inability to accept the fact.

Mahinda has come out looking altruistic, beneficent and, frankly, a damn good leader. After all, he has now thrown the discussion out there and is not any more trying to “smuggle in” constitutional reform as if it were some private project.

In the end, who knows, Ranil might agree to everything and pull out at the last moment —on a technicality — without the flicker of an eyelid. Or Mahinda might lead Ranil around in circles with the sinister objective of preventing him from attending to the very serious business of reorganising his party. Or, they might sign another EM-OH-U because, what the heck, it’s only an EM-OH-U... something to talk about in bars and bus stops.
But there we go, being disgustingly cynical again. Shut up, already and C-U-BYE.

Lyrics: M.I.A.'s Space Odyssey - "kind of lullaby one would sing to a baby android"

The song and lyrics, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, as "the kind of lullaby one would sing to a baby android:"

gravity's my enemy
it grabs on me like i'm a leech
the stars are bangin close to me
as i'm floating in a light odyssey

my lines are down you can't call me
as i fly around in space odyssey
my lines are down you can't call me
as i fly around in space odyssey

it's got color when it's following me
and i still judge you week by week
and i'm here, the times they can never lose me

my lines are down you can't call me
as i fly around in space odyssey
my lines are down you can't call me
as i fly around in space odyssey

you might take a minute or two
to introduce my point of view
i need to spend some time with you
there's nothing more new on the news

my lines are down
you can't call me
and i fly around in space odyssey
my lines are down
you can't call me
and i fly around in space odyssey

- Despite her best protestations, / \ / \ / \ Y / \ renders the "real" Maya Arulpragasam as profoundly unimportant: political provocations and pageantry aside, M.I.A. makes music that matters—the realest kind there is. - Jack Hamilton, The Atlantic.

Royal College at 175: Has it outlived its usefulness to the Nation?

by Panduka Karunanayake

When I left Royal, we were looking forward to its 150-year anniversary celebrations. We were rather envious of our juniors, because they were to have the privilege of directly participating in the celebrations while we were to miss it by a hair’s breadth, considering the kind of timeline involved.

My undergraduate program was due to start on a Monday in November, and I attended Royal as a prefect right until the preceding Friday – I was already missing it so much. I worked until about five that Friday evening, by which time I was the last prefect left on the premises. The school was virtually deserted and blissful. The evening cool was penetrating its massive, absorbing walls, and outside, the cacophony of crows returning to the huge trees on Race Course Avenue was building up its familiar crescendo.

The person who bade me farewell was deputy principal Mr Christie Gunasekera, the quintessential Royalist to us, who as a habit worked in his office until about five or six each day. His parting words to me still ring in my ears: "Work hard, do your best, and help keep the flag flying."

‘The’ flag? Which flag? The blue-and-gold, three-stripe flag? Or some other flag?

As a pupil, I had known of his unambiguous ways; as a prefect, I also learnt of his subtle, unobtrusive philosophical bent. I sensed there was a distinct difference between ‘our flag’ and ‘the flag.’ But this one time, my usual resolve failed: I could not muster up the courage to ask him for a clarification on the matter. I cannot remember if this was because of the emotions swelling up in me, felt palpably like a leather cricket ball stuck below my throat, or because I intuitively felt the poignancy of the moment and the significance of his choice of phrase: Was he taking me through some manhood rite, as I was venturing out?

As I rode my rickety-old Raleigh bicycle out of the narrow side-gate, across the Reid Avenue, through the Bloomfield terrace and the Jathika Pola on to the network of roads beyond, the dilemma kept reverberating in my head.

It is inevitable that – given my failure to ascertain the true answer to the dilemma – what follows in this essay is only an individual invention of an answer, built over a twenty-five-year ride. If some who rode out like me find my invention unpalatable, I would plead mitigating circumstances. For, our inventions are shaped by the landscapes that we pass and the panoramic views that we imagine, and who can tell which landscape or panorama is ‘correct’

Strategy and purpose

It is indisputable that Royal at 175 is as healthy as ever. It has resources for both curricular and extra-curricular activities, both human and material, that are the envy of its field; some of these reach international standards. By opening up to hundreds of talented scholars through an open, fair competition every year, it contributes handsomely to creating excellence out of the nation’s potential. There is every chance here that any pupil with any talent will find a niche to hone his skills and ride as high as his talent lifts him. All this was developed – not merely preserved – by the indefatigable, dedicated, committed and grateful teachers and Old Boys, at a time when the society around them was crumbling apart. It is worthy of unrestrained applause and unmitigated celebration.

But my point is that in the context of the long and illustrious annals of the institution, all that is only the strategy for a purpose – not the purpose in itself. I fear that while we have retained and strengthened the strategy, we may have lost sight of the purpose.

Change in Europe

To understand this purpose as I see it, we need to go back to Royal’s beginning (as the Colombo Academy) in 1835, and to 1818 or even 1815. And to understand fully what happened here then, we need to understand what was happening in Europe then, because at that time our nation was just starting her 133-year career as a British colony.

It was a time of great tumult in Europe then. The Industrial Revolution, which had commenced in Manchester in around 1760, had leapt across the English Channel and was swarming over the European mainland. The ‘traditional’ values that had held feudalism and communal society there intact – honesty and loyalty – were becoming uneasily admixed with the new, ‘modern’ values of capitalism and industrial society – freedom and equality.

The old Poor Law, which had taken money from the rich and given it to the parishes to look after the poor, had just been repealed. Land enclosure was just starting, handing ‘commoner’ land over to the rich as their private property; the landless rural peasants were being denied the chance to work on them and gain a living. The consequent accumulation of the hungry, unemployed masses was providing cheap wage labor for the new, mushrooming factories. Those who were caught stealing bread were simply deported to Australia. Unexpected phenomena were brewing: urbanization and its problems, brilliantly immortalized by Dickens in his novels, and the emergence of class-consciousness, deftly mobilized by the socialists.

It was from this background that Colebrooke and Cameron came to Ceylon, to respond to our revolution of 1818 and its devastating aftermath.

Change in Ceylon

The 1818 revolution was a response to the governor’s high-handed dismissal of the 1815 Kandyan Convention; the desolation it left behind was a graphic portrayal of the malign dictatorship that his powers enabled.

To Colebrooke and Cameron, the hinterland would have shown a feudal, tradition-laden picture with a lot of potential for modernization and progress (or exploitation and profit, depending on how they looked at it). The maritime provinces, on the other hand, had already been under European powers for over 200 years and had acquired a more western, mercantilist contour with a strong elite, most of whom were Europeans.

The gist of the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms was an attempt to take Ceylon from that status to that of a ‘model colony.’ It commenced the journey from a traditional, feudal society to a modern, industrialized society (although the conventional industries themselves were not established, and instead only an ‘industrial’ form of plantations, in the sense that they were incorporated with the global market, was introduced).

Executive and legislative councils were formed to advise the governor – and although their members were neither truly representative nor their advice binding on him, this at least helped ensure that he could no longer repeat 1818 behind closed doors (except under Marshall Law, as in 1848). The benefits of the new economy were partly passed on to indigenous entrepreneurs, gradually replacing the old European (Portuguese and Dutch) elite with a new local elite.

Change in education

The reforms served the British selfishly and overwhelmingly, but they also served Ceylon. This was where the Colombo Academy and the other educational institutions that were established around this time, come in.

First and foremost, of course, these educational institutions helped form the anglicized, second-tier, local elite necessary to administer the colony – and this is what gives them a bad name in the minds of some. But again, they also began the process of transmitting the modern way of life from Europe to Ceylon – and that has been ardently embraced even by most of those who consider Anglicization despicable. They also began transferring the elite membership from Europeans to Ceylonese, however slowly or unjustly.

The transformation in education must have been amazing to watch. Just imagine: the Colombo Academy was set up in 1835, was affiliated to the Calcutta University in 1859, and before the end of the century was preparing students for the London University matriculation and external degrees. The trend was such that by the 1870s, we were ready for our own modern, post-secondary institutions: the medical, law and technical colleges.

G.P. Malalasekara called the Colombo Academy the centre of higher education in Ceylon at that time. As the school song says referring to 1835 (not without much amnesia about our pre-colonial past), "…thenceforth did Lanka’s learning thrive." If not for the World Wars, we would have had our own university college before the 1920s and the university itself well before the 1940s.

But the true significance of the Colombo Academy was evident in something else – and this is the crucial point. The Portuguese and the Dutch had also needed a local, second-tier elite, and they had handed over the task of producing it to their religious missionaries. Even our own indigenous response to these took the form of religious revivalist movements. In contrast, the British – in establishing the Colombo Academy – took the bold, genuinely ‘modern’ step of setting up their flagship educational institution on a secular format, offering as equal an opportunity as the times allowed, even in comparison to English society.

This was not a tunnel-vision institution serving sectarian, elitist interests. It was a bold, broad-minded stroke on the canvass of nation building, launching it into the throes of modernity and human inclusivity. We were taking our first steps ever, no matter how tentative, towards egalitarianism and a meritocracy. Its motto – "Learn or Depart" – epitomized the essence of the learning society, 175 years before this became common knowledge.

Surely, it must have been no accident that the nit-picking British called it an ‘academy’ rather than a school or college – the Academy was the name of the public park in classical Athens where Plato and his followers met, germinating free inquiry in the West. This should tell us something about the remit and purpose of the Colombo Academy.

The journey

To my mind, our subsequent failure as a nation has to do with our own elite’s inability to share power with the masses. Education is the great leveller. It can transform, imperceptibly and painlessly, a sleeping, feudal society into a dynamic, modern society. The United States is what it is today because President Lincoln boldly implemented the Morrill Act in the 1860s, while we are what we are today because our elite stealthily undermined the Kannangara reforms of the 1940s. Our nation did not have the skill to share.

In the midst of this national misfortune brought about by a national sin, Royal too has changed and suffered. Is it today an epicenter of an egalitarian, modernizing national journey? Or has it been carried in the same direction that the elites carried the nation in?

The beginning ends

On its 175th birthday, has Royal College outlived its usefulness to the nation? Or might those embracing, impressive walls still have enough strength and ardor left in them to help – indeed, to guide – our nation to complete its egalitarian journey? Are we to be content with a powerful strategy without a national purpose, or might we seek out the purpose once more?

Tracing back my steps to the dying moments of that Friday evening, it is inconceivable to me that Mr. Gunasekera – the most widely read and open-minded educator I have come across so far – was either unaware of, or insensitive to, this history. He must have left the identity of the ‘flag’ undisclosed, because in the end each one of us must find it out for himself.

And so, I think, must Royal – at 175, with so much to do and so much strength to do it.

Sri Lankan Govt slanders Tamil Refugees because they don't want them to reach Australia

by Gordon Weiss

SRI Lankan government warnings that half the Tamils seeking asylum in Australia have links to terrorists are dangerous, mendacious and self-serving.

The Tamil Tigers were the most ruthless, tactically efficient, destructive, and committed terrorist organisation in the world. Between 1990 and 2000, Tiger operatives using suicidal tactics killed thousands of innocent Sri Lankans. Their presence was an abomination, and a by-word for violence and fear among ordinary citizens.

Despite Sri Lankan government claims that it decisively defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, they continue to suggest that the Tigers remain a danger. Yet analysis of the defeat of the Tigers, their methods, those in the Tamil diaspora that supported them, and the massive securitisation of the Sri Lankan state, contradicts that view. To internationalise violence by, for example, hijacking aircraft, would be pure folly to any narrow nationalist cause in 2010. For Tamil Sri Lankans who once supported the Tigers, there is no "military option" left to support. The Tamil Tiger is extinct.

The Tigers were a response to perceived state repression. This is true of all national liberation groups, many of which, like the Tigers, undercut sympathy for their cause by killing innocent people. In 1956, contrary to the constitution left by the British and agreed to by Sri Lanka's leaders, the Sinhala Only Act was passed. As incendiary in operation as its title suggests, this law compelled, for example, Tamils to seek judicial redress in the Sinhala language instead of English or Tamil. Things have never been the same since. In 1983, an orchestrated mob pogrom killed some 2000-3000 Tamils across the island. Within a year, the Tamil Tigers had mushroomed from a rabble of 50 men into an army of thousands who sought revenge.

In Australia, both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities include extremist elements. Both have organisations that have promoted radical politics and intolerant solutions to the ethnic divide that bedevils Sri Lanka. For example, Sinhalese-language programs on SBS are said (by Australian Sinhalese) to promote an extreme nationalist view of Sri Lanka that by definition excludes Sri Lankan Tamil claims to the island as also their home. This kind of nationalist narrative, nurtured from generation to generation in a new country (that often leaves emigre communities quite out of step with developments in their own countries) is true of all radical groups who now have deep roots in Australia, be they Kurds, Burmese, Palestinians, Armenians, or Croats.

Hundreds of thousands of Australians have direct memories of the murder of their family and friends in foreign lands. Rarely do they use this soil for the explicit manufacture of terrorism. But within these communities, identity and historical grievance remains a matter of the deepest pain, even as these Australians remain law-abiding citizens, grateful for the equitable justice this country has provided. Occasionally, such as with the Australian-Serb Dragan Vasiljkovic, who returned home during Yugoslavia's wars and allegedly killed and terrorised Croats, one will carry those memories to an extreme. But these are aberrations.

One must then ask why, with the fanciful claim that as many as half of all Tamil boatpeople have "links" to the Tigers, does the government of Sri Lanka seek to trigger alarm bells in our ears? What interest do they have in claims of links between al-Qa'ida and the Tamil Tigers? Why, as reported in recent days, do they incite Australians worried about illegal immigration with the suggestion that boatpeople are "taking advantage" of our asylum laws? And why do they play on Australia's poor understanding of this distant war by reducing the causes of their conflict to just the emergence and destruction of the Tamil Tigers?

The answer lies in another little understood creature that is far from extinct. From an easygoing island paradise in 1948, Sri Lanka has been transformed into one of the most militarised societies in Asia. Its government is dominated by racist ideologues who promote the notion of the Sinhalese as a "chosen people" (the words of their first prime minister). Government death squads have snatched thousands of people from the streets over the years.

The country's highest court has explicitly rejected the role of international human rights instruments in Sri Lanka's affairs. And the government continues to deny that it killed civilians during the recent war, that there were battlefield executions, that it bombed hospitals, or that there is anything wrong with the sham democratic machinery of the state. The repressive creature of extreme nationalism is alive and well in Sri Lanka.

The UNHCR reported recently that there was a vast improvement in Sri Lanka, and hence it has raised the bar for refugee status for a large number of people. But this is so after any war. The refugee agency also noted that large numbers of Tamils still have grounds to fear persecution. By way of an example, the government of Sri Lanka has yet to make good on the three key points of an agreement it made with the UN Secretary-General in May 2009.

It still holds tens of thousands of civilians in internment camps. It shows no sign of instituting a political process to redress the half-century-old grievances of the Tamils, and thus remove the causes for any future conflict. And it shows no sign of seriously investigating allegations that both sides committed war crimes.

It broke every guarantee that it gave Ban Ki-moon not to use heavy weapons in civilian areas. Its interests lie in repression, not confession, and it has no interest in potential witnesses reaching these shores.

(Gordon Weiss was UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka during the war. He is the author of forthcoming The Cage; The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers, Pan Macmillan.THis article appeared in "The Australian")

Sirimavo Bandaranaike: 50th anniversary of wolds first woman Prime Minister

by Gopalakrishna Gandhi

This month it will be 50 years since the world beheld its first woman prime minister. I was about 14 and knew but little of Ceylon when I read the banner story ‘Bandaranaike shot’. ‘Will he live?’ was the first question that crossed my teenage mind gripped by the description of the outrage and of the stricken prime minister rushing in from the verandah of his home, calling out “Sirima, Sirima!”

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Sirimavo Bandaranaike

That must have been the first time the world outside of the island really heard of her. India had seen her visiting with her husband. Prime Minister Nehru, ever the one to take a watchful host’s interest in the families of visiting heads of government and State, must have warmed to this traditional Kandyan woman and her three children, beside the westernised prime minister of Ceylon.

Speaking in chiselled English, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (‘SWRD’) soared with his words and ideas. In contrast, she was very much on and off the ground. When reports from Colombo suggested that the sudden vacuum created by SWRD’s succumbing to the attack may get to be filled by none other than the demure 44-year-old Sirimavo Bandaranaike, there was surprise. How would she manage? At that stage in her life Sirimavo was what wives of prime ministers are taken to be — non-persons to be greeted and spoken to in thought-free courtesy and then, duty done, forgotten. But soon, a patronising appreciation replaced the earlier surprised scepticism.

The new PM was conducting herself at discussions with ease, if also with modesty; her English was plain but effective, her thinking sharp, her grasp of ‘hard’ issues sharper, and she was ‘growing into her office’ remarkably well and fast. Sirimavo discovered the prime minister in herself and invented herself in the prime minister. Where she made an early and acknowledged mark was in her clear realisation that in governance, in diplomacy and in the many dimensions of political leadership, the surest guide is one’s own instinct.

To Sirimavo Bandaranaike also belongs the credit of consolidating something that had been ‘started’ earlier by Dudley Senanayake, namely, the principle of a next of kin succeeding a leader in political office. Outside of monarchic arrangements, a leadership vacuum being filled by a next of kin amid acclaim, and then legitimised in free and fair elections, is and will remain a Sirimavo accomplishment and a Sirimavo contribution to the dynamics of political succession in South Asia.

Few could have anticipated Sirimavo’s role in the Asia of 1962 and in the non-aligned world. After China announced a ceasefire on the Sino-Indian border, a settlement of the border question could have been expected to come; it did not. Indeed, it could not, given the circumstances. Sirimavo, just over two years’ old in prime ministership, invited the governments of five other non-aligned countries — Burma, Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia and the United Arab Republic — for a discussion on the situation. A set of ‘Colombo Proposals’ emerged, which India accepted, establishing the PM of Ceylon on the Asian stage, with intercontinental salience.

Bilaterally, India saw Sirimavo take up with verve the question of Ceylon’s ‘Stateless’ Tamils of Indian origin. The issue pertaining to these hard-working men and women on the island’s tea and rubber plantations had defied solution for years, with Nehru saying that they “are or should be citizens of Ceylon”.

In 1964, discussions between Sirimavo and India’s new PM Lal Bahadur Shastri led to a policy change culminating in the Sirimavo-Shastri Agreement. This agreement divided that population between the (smaller) number that Ceylon would accept and the (larger) number that would be repatriated to India, the fate of the balance to be decided on a later date. Who stays and who leaves was to be determined by choice — in theory, a voluntary exercise.

But with the ‘quotas’ determined and the stayers’ quota quickly over-subscribed, the agreement lost its voluntarism and became a fait accompli for the plantation workers, with the stayers feeling relieved and the leavers bewildered by the abyss of uncertainty ahead.

The Sirimavo-Shastri Agreement was compounded the following decade by a Sirimavo-Indira Agreement in which the ‘residuaries’ were shared half-and-half between India and Sri Lanka, in another diplomatic accomplishment for Sirimavo. These two agreements, and the decisions on the islet of Kachchativu, showed the world’s first woman PM handling negotiations with her Indian counterparts (both newer than her in prime ministership) with the confidence of a ‘senior’ PM albeit of the ‘smaller’ neighbour. Size is one thing, strength another.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike lost office around the same time as Indira Gandhi did in 1977, in a democratic corrective to Emergency Rule. Sirimavo then had her civil rights taken away by President Jayewardene, seen by many as Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s Lankan equivalent. But the very populace that had voted Sirimavo out, disapproved of that extreme ‘punishment’ and returned her to power.

Which reminds me that Sirimavo had a striking head and a strikingly broad forehead. And her face, prime ministerial or not, one could not pass by without feeling, ‘What an unusual person’. Shortly after assuming duties as High Commissioner for India in September 2000,

I called on her in her Rosmead Place residence, the same house SWRD had been assassinated in. She was physically weak. But the stroke she had suffered hadn’t got the better of her mind. Her forehead glowed, her voice though soft, had a resonance to it. “How is Delhi?” she asked. The question could have meant many things. And then turning to the Indian High Commissioner’s house in Colombo — India House — she said, “Large house, lovely garden.” I asked her to visit. “Will be glad to do so,” she said. But that was not to be.

On October 10, less than a month after my calling on her, she was gone. It was a polling day. She was returning home after casting her vote in Horagolla when she took ill and was given treatment in a small medical centre that happened to be on the way. But it was too late. I reached the house as the lifeless form was being brought in. It was significant (I told the family) that a person whose voting rights had been taken away should have ended her career as a democratically-elected leader, just after casting her vote. “With voters’ ink fresh on her finger,” Sunethra, her eldest-born, added poignantly. “She was no ordinary woman,” said the younger daughter, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Sirimavo’s and SWRD’s only son, Anura, came straight from electioneering, crushed.
Sirimavo had, barely a few hours earlier voted in the constituency he was contesting from, but from a party’s that was not hers. Such is democracy. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was no ordinary woman. But this wasn’t just because she was the world’s first woman prime minister.

(Gopalkrishna Gandhi was Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2002. This is a revised version of an essay in a volume being issued in Sri Lanka to mark 50 years of Sirimavo Bandaranaike becoming prime minister. The views expressed by the author are personal)

Will they unilaterally hang my father even if the courts say "No"?

by Apsara Fonseka

Yesterday, July 15 my father was supposed to be at Parliament at 9.30am for a Health Ministry advisory Committee meeting.

Despite a clear order by the courts that this Colombo District MP should be allowed without any hindrance to attend Parliamentary meetings, committee meetings, group meetings and other discussions relating to Parliamentary matters - the Military Commander didn't allow him to leave the navy head quarters where he is detained.
This is a direct and contemptuous violation of the court order by the Army Commander.

It is also the second violation of this kind.

My father is under civil law and the military is not allowed to dictate such terms as these to him. They provide him security but his daily routine and his constitutional rights are all under civil regulations and civil legislature.

This just goes to show that now the military, and those commanding the military deem themselves to be higher than the Sri Lankan legal system.

Are we now at a stage where, we are reverting to being subjects, serfs and slaves? Perhaps we should not even call our nation a Democratic Socialist Republic, but simply a Kingdom. For, we have no rights or freedoms anymore.

Will they now unilaterally "hang' my father, as threatened by the Defense Secretary, even though the courts say no?

If this is happening to an elected Member of Parliament - what rights will the general people of Sri Lanka have? What rights for the minorities?

On one hand they pile case upon case on my father. On the other, they stand in blatant violation of all court orders and even go further to harass and intimidate the legislature.

What happens when a trained military equipped with weapons, thinks it does not need to follow the laws of the land?

My father believes in accountability and the fairness of the legal system (when it is free from coercion might I add) - this is why he says time and time again that he will prove his innocence in any court of law. That he can stand up to any allegation. That he will face any accuser.

The military is not anyone's personal attendant - and the legal system is not simply a polite request.

The sooner we Sri Lankans understand this the sooner we can stop this horrible tide from drowning us all

July 16, 2010

Sri Lankan government uses emergency laws to charge former presidential candidate

By Sarath Kumara

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Sri Lankan government has invoked its draconian emergency regulations to lay serious criminal charges against the defeated president candidate, ex-Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka

The laying of the charges against Fonseka, who is also a member of parliament, after holding him in military custody for more than five months, is not only a move to silence him. It is yet another indication of Rajapakse’s increasingly totalitarian measures as the government prepares to impose severe austerity measures on the working class and poor.

Attorney General Mohan Peiris has formally requested the Colombo High Court to appoint a three-judge bench for a “special” trial on the “grave” offences allegedly committed by Fonseka. Such trials are heard without a jury, and those found guilty can appeal only once before the Supreme Court.

Fonseka has been charged with two offences under the emergency laws, one of “spreading ... a false statement that could cause panic or inflame the public” and one of “providing information ... that could directly or otherwise incite racial feelings.” Each charge could mean imprisonment for up to five years.

The jailed MP has also been charged under the Penal Code with “providing information ... that could directly or otherwise rouse racial feelings by spoken or written word intended to ... cause disaffection among the population against the legally constituted government of Sri Lanka or trying to foment hostile feelings or disharmony amongst such populace or different classes.” This charge carries a punishment of two years rigorous imprisonment.

Fonseka was arbitrarily arrested on February 8 by the military just two weeks after the presidential election, in which he was backed as a candidate against Rajapakse by the main parliamentary opposition parties and section of the business establishment. Initially accused of plotting to assassinate Rajapakse, Fonseka is still being tried in two military Courts Martial cases, on charges of engaging in political activities while in uniform and violating army procedures in the procurement of arms.

The timing of the new criminal charges points to the fact that government is intensifying its police-state methods and increasingly using repressive measures against all political opposition and the working class.

The charges arise from an interview given by Fonseka—seven months ago—to Fedrica Janze, the editor of the Colombo-based Sunday Leader. In the interview, published on December 13, Fonseka accused the president’s brother, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, of ordering the assassination of leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who attempted to surrender during the final days of the military’s defeat of the LTTE in May last year.

Fonseka was quoted as saying: “The Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse had spoken to Brigadier Shavendra Silva, the commander of the 58 brigade, that all leaders of the LTTE who try to surrender should not be allowed to do so and that all of them should be killed.” Fonseka said he obtained this information from a journalist attached to the army brigade. However, after the report was published, Fonseka claimed that he had been misquoted by the newspaper.

It is known that three LTTE leaders—political wing leader Balasingham Nadesan, peace secretariat head Seevaratnam Puleedevan and Ramesh, a military leader—were engaged in surrender negotiations with high-level government officials through various intermediaries, including Norway. The LTTE leaders were told to appear in front of the government forces with white flags. While coming to surrender in the early hours of May 18, the three were murdered cold-bloodedly.

This war crime was one of many committed during the final months of the war. Military bombing and shelling killed thousands of Tamil civilians. The UN has estimated the number of civilian deaths at 7,000. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group has provided evidence that puts the number of deaths at between 30,000 and 75,000.
In a four-page preamble to the charges against Fonseka, the attorney general alleges that the Sunday Leader interview tarnished the image of the country internationally and was used by human rights groups and the Tamil diaspora to demand war crimes investigations. Peiris further claims that the interview damaged the “reputation” of the military, causing countries such as US to stop inviting the armed forces for training programs.

The charges are an outright attack on basic democratic rights. Peiris’s allegations employ similar language to that used by the government against anyone who speaks or writes about the war crimes or demands an independent investigation. Any such calls could be branded as “false statements that could cause panic or inflame the public” or “cause disaffection among the population”.

The charges are also a direct threat to the media. The killing of the three LTTE leaders was first revealed a few days after the war ended. The British-based Sunday Times and Guardian carried reports on the incident. At the time, Fonseka, as Army Commander, joined the government in brushing aside the allegations.

This week, two more criminal charges were suddenly laid against Fonseka. On Tuesday, police indicted him and his son-in-law, Dananu Tilakaratne, on 21 charges of cheating public funds during tender processes for military hardware purchases. On the same day, the attorney general indicted Fonseka for allegedly employing 10 army deserters in his presidential election campaign. This charge carries 20 years imprisonment.

As Army Commander, Fonseka ruthlessly prosecuted the war, working hand-in-glove with the Rajapakse government, which provoked the resumption of the fighting in 2006. Fonseka was a key man in Rajapakse’s ruling cabal until the military defeated the LTTE in May. By moving so ruthlessly against this critic within the ruling establishment, the government is sending a threatening message to working people.

Before laying these charges, Rajapakse brought the attorney general’s department, which was previously part of the justice ministry, under his direct control. The attorney general’s office, which traditionally maintained some legal independence, is now being used to frame and jail political opponents. This is part of wider concentration of power in the hands of Rajapakse, who is also the defence minister and finance minister, and has brought 60 ministries and other government institutions under his command.

These developments are taking place as the government begins implementing International Monetary Fund (IMF)-dictated budget cutting measures designed to unload the burden of the government’s huge debts and fiscal deficit onto the back of working people.

Last month’s budget unveiled an extended wage freeze on public sector workers, increased taxes on essentials, and begins the re-structuring of government-owned corporations that will seriously affect jobs and working conditions. At the same time, the government is making tax concessions to big business and investors. It has also pledged to the IMF that further measures to drastically reduce the deficit will be outlined in the 2011 budget, which is due in November.

Since the end of the war, the government has maintained the emergency powers in order to crack down on workers’ struggles. Last year, Rajapakse issued essential services orders against electricity board, ports, petroleum and water board workers. However, the emergency powers were not used because the trade unions called off the wages campaign.

Early this month, a military-police terror campaign was unleashed against thousands of slum dwellers in the Colombo suburb of Mattakkuliya. The entire adult population was rounded up, more than 200 were arrested and 30 people are still in custody. The charges against Fonseka are another warning of a turn to dictatorial methods of rule. - courtesy: WSWS.org -

Govt must ensure there is no discriminatory targeting of Tamils

by National Peace Council of Sri Lanka

The re-commencement of the practices of registering Tamils with the police and of conducting search operations that target them have been widely reported in the Tamil media in particular and have created a renewed sense of insecurity and injustice amongst the larger Tamil population that is detrimental to national reconciliation.

The practice of registering of Tamils and security search operations of private residences even late at night was carried out during the period of war and terrorism. But today more than 14 months have elapsed since the war ended, and there have been no acts of militancy or terrorism in this period that would necessitate a revival of the harsh measures of the past. Two months ago Parliament approved the repeal of a large number of emergency laws which was projected worldwide as a sign that normalcy had returned to the country.

On the ground however the situation has deteriorated where normal life for Tamil people is concerned. Democratic People's Front Leader Mano Ganesan has requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intervene to halt the police registration of Tamils in the Wellawatte Police division in Colombo as discriminatory and against the spirit of reconciliation.

The Government is expected to uphold the Constitution which affirms that everybody will be treated equally irrespective of race or creed. The President himself has frequently proclaimed that there is only a single nation in this country. However, Tamils living in Wellawatte had been singled out and asked to register themselves at the Wellawatte Police Station last week. There are reports of Tamils in other parts of Colombo also being asked to register themselves.

Responding to a query from the media last week the Police spokesman said that action was taken under the Police Ordinance in this respect. The Police Ordinance gives power in respect of detection and prevention of crime. It cannot be applied in an ethnically discriminatory fashion. The Colombo head of police, Deputy Inspector General H.N.B. Herath is reported to have said they were instructed by higher authorities to register all people -- including Tamils. All right thinking people will acknowledge that democracy is governance according to law and not according to the wishes of the rulers. The rulers are equally subject to the law and must abide by the Constitution.

The National Peace Council calls on the government to ensure that there is no discriminatory targeting of Tamils, or any section of the Sri Lankan people, as this is root of conflict. While we recognise that security measures may need to be taken we are opposed to the singling out of any one community for such targeted actions on the basis of democratic values.

The positive actions of the government, such as its appointment of a Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation, and with which the government has challenged the credibility of international human rights critics, must not be undermined by its discriminatory and heavy handed actions in other areas. NPC calls upon the government to repeal the obnoxious Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations under which the police are acting. We only stating the obvious when we assert that security does not come through suspicion but only through trust and confidence born out of reconciliation.

Actress Asin combats Tamil filmdom over Sri Lanka

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The South Indian state of Tamil Nadu has a robust Film industry. From it’s nascent stages ,film- making in the state has been inclusive in nature. Artistes and technicians from various parts of India have worked and continue to work in Tamil films. Many non –Tamils employed in the film sector have chosen to live in Chennai.

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[click to read in full ~ on dbsjeyaraj.com]

‘Sri Lanka gov fears Tamil asylum seekers might become witnesses in a war crimes tribunal’ – former UN Spokesman

Tamil terrorist claims exaggerated

from: Radio Australia

The former spokesman for the United Nations in Colombo has accused the Sri Lankan government of branding Tamil asylum seekers as terrorists, fearing they might become witnesses in a war crimes tribunal if they are granted asylum in Australia.

The UN has established a panel to investigate whether a war crimes tribunal is appropriate in regards to the last months of Sri Lanka's civil war, which, ended early last year. Since then 1,129 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have arrived in Australia, with about 30 per cent being granted asylum, 7 per cent being refused and sent back and the rest of the cases still pending. The Australian media this week published comments by a Sri Lankan security analyst, who said up to half of all Tamil asylum seekers had links to the Tamil Tigers, and that the Tamil Tigers had links to Al Qaeda. Former UN spokesman Gordon Weiss, says those claims are false and risk inflaming the debate over immigration in Australia.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: Gordon Weiss, former spokesman for the United Nations in Sri Lanka


Listen: Windows Media [Radio Australia]

Sri Lanka – indomitable life sprouts in the North

By: Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

It was indeed heartening to see life in all its facets asserting itself along the A9 road in the Vanni and in the Jaffna peninsula, during my very recent visit. The tragedy, utter misery, gloom, hopelessness and signs of devastation along the A9 in the Vanni, I saw in December,2009, has begun to give way to recovery, rebuilding, smiles and hope. The Vanni , I saw during my present visit was a hive of activity and was proof that life is indomitable and will assert itself, given even the most rudimentary chance.

The shacks along A9 made of twelve galvanized roof sheets and a blue plastic sheet, were giving way to foundations for proper houses. Walls of stick reinforced clay or concrete blocks were appearing everywhere. Children were attending school and the smaller ones were at play. Home gardens were planted and had become productive. The military presence was less pervasive and less intrusive. Aimless, listless and expressionless people were not to be seen. Rudimentary shops that had initially been set up in front of shacks had been enlarged and were beginning to take permanent shapes. These shops were stocked better. Shrines and temples had been re-built and were functioning. It was heartening to note that the war-affected Tamils had given priority to this aspect of their lives.

Puliyankulam and Mankulam towns are being rapidly re-built and were once again bustling with people and vehicles. Army run cafeterias, at regular intervals along the A9 were providing a valuable service to travelers in terms of food, beverages and toilet facilities. The armed forces, police and the civilians were apparently co-existing without any visible tensions. The Murihandy temple area has become a militarized zone, with the headquarters of a military brigade under construction in its immediate vicinity. This is an unnecessary and unwelcome development. The brigade headquarters could have easily been construction away from the temple area. This ancient temple seems to be losing its importance as a stopping point for the Hindu travelers on A9. The road that skirts the temple, constructed earlier on the directions of the LTTE, had also contributed to this tragedy.

The change was most dramatic in Kilinochchi. The town had come back to life, in a miraculous way. The ominous silence of a cemetery and the utter devastation that I saw in December' 2009, was being reversed at a rapid pace. The army presence was very visible and the military police were everywhere . Prefabricated material for the construction of an army camp was lined up on either side of the A9 on the approach to Kilinochchi. Construction work had already begun on one side of the road in this area. Other than the Buddhist temple at Kilinochchi and at Chavakachcheri, no new Buddhist temples had been constructed along the A9. Some roads in Kilinotchchi have been named in only Sinhala and this does not seem to be deliberate act. Some brigade headquarters along the A9, have also been sign posted only in Sinhala. The defense ministry and the government should ensure that all sign postings are in Tamil, Sinhala and English and new names for places and streets/roads that are alien to the local people in the north and east are not coined.

I had the opportunity to visit the 'Kurukulam' orphanages in Kilinotchchi run by the disciples of 'Yoga Swamy' . There were one each for boys and girls of school going age. The orphanage structures were damaged severely during the war and the management was struggling to find the resources to rebuild and provide the necessary facilities for the approximately 400 children in their care. 'Kurukulam' is a registered charity and has the potential to develop into an organization providing rehabilitation, reconstruction and development-related services in the Vanni at low administrative cost, compared to most NGOs. The Tamil community at large should rally to support this organization. Children are admitted to these orphanages, on the orders of the courts, in accordance with regulations currently in force.

While at the girl's orphanage at Kilinochchi, I was witness to how alert the armed forces were in the area. Within minutes of our arriving at the site, two military policemen appeared at the gates inquiring as to whom we were and the purpose of our visit. They were courteous and did not attempt to talk to us. They left once reassured of our identity and objectives.

The Jaffna peninsula was developing by leaps and bounds. Shops and houses were being rebuilt everywhere. Temples were being given priority in the recovery process, with many newly painted and others in the process of rebuilding or expansion. Road construction and repair work was going on everywhere. Jaffna town had regained its former spirit. The vendors and shopkeepers I spoke to were happy that business was good. I did not see any shops with name boards in Sinhala, in the vicinity of the Nallur temple or elsewhere. Considering the large number of Sinhalese who throng Jaffna town, it would be nothing but common sense to include Sinhala in the name boards and employ Sinhala-speakers to serve them. There were many Sinhalese working in Jaffna, for the NGOs and upscale restaurants. There were also Sinhalese and Muslims peddling cheap furniture items on a house- to- house visit basis, all over the peninsula. They had no complaints about their life in Jaffna and were enjoying and profiting from their stay. The concern the Sinhalese working for the NGOs in Jaffna had for the war-affected was sincere, heartfelt and hence touching.

The only area that was yet to see the return of those had left during the war was that between elephant pass and Kodikamam. The military presence and camps in this area were yet extensive. However, it is unfortunate that the opportunity to re-plan Jaffna town and guide reconstruction accordingly has been missed.

Sinhala travelers from the south are yet visiting the peninsula in large numbers, principally bound for the Nagadeepa temple. They are also curious to see the Northern Province after several decades. They visit the Hindu temples, including the Nallur temple in large numbers. At the Nallur temple, crowd control barriers have been erected and several kiosks have appeared to cater to the needs of these visitors.
In Jaffna town there is brisk trade in dry fish, fruits and 'Poor Quality' Palmyra products, involving the visiting Sinhalese. The Jaffna fort, Casuarina beach and the remnants of LTTE war cemeteries are the places of interest o these visitors. On the A9, all visitors to stop to view the war memorials in Kilinochchi and Elephant pass. The bulldozer turned battle tank of the LTTE, is also attracting many visitors at elephant pass.

The much publicized boat service to the peninsula, inaugurated by Namal Rajapakse, I was told is yet not running. Apparently, the inauguration was a publicity stunt. The people, aware of the goings on in the peninsula were also very unhappy at the role the EPDP and some individuals from the TNA were playing. There is a massive scandal to steal abandoned and unclaimed land in the peninsula involving a leading Tamil political personality in the TNA. Everyone knows his identity and is convinced of his misdeeds. False documents (deeds) are prepared with the connivance of individuals in the Katchcheri (Secretariat) and the land is either sold or given to favoured individuals. If not curbed, this problem is bound to be a disaster for the government, in terms of winning the confidence of the Tamils. It appears these politicians have learnt the wrong lessons from the LTTE and consider the Tamils incorrigible idiots.

There were also serious concerns expressed about the corruption- ridden system involving sand removal and transport. The EPDP was specifically accused of making money off the sand business in Jaffna, to the detriment of the rebuilding and development activities. The public services, manned mainly by Tamils, also stand accused of corruption, insensitivity, lethargy and high handedness. Many individuals have singled out the former GA for serious criticism. He has been specifically accused of turning a blind eye to the corruption and inefficiency in the public services functioning under his direction, in order to pander to the whims of local politicians, who had the power to favour him. The bureaucracy in Jaffna, is not geared to spearhead the recovery, rebuilding and development process in the peninsula, despite the intentions of the government to invest heavily in the north. The government should take action to remedy this serious flaw. The appointment of the new GA, with a proven track record, may be a step in the right direction.

Thieves and crooks-Tamils- have found the Vanni and the peninsula happy hunting grounds. They have developed links to existing political formations, some politicians and some low ranking individuals in the police and armed forces, to carry out their anti-social activities. Political, bureaucratic and criminal vultures have descended to feed on the circumstances prevailing after the war ended. The government should without delay set-up mechanisms to curb the activities of these social parasites.

The army and police on the whole, are playing their role honestly, responsibly and in a sensitive manner. I was particularly impressed with the honest and professional manner in which two traffic Policemen in Mankulam dealt with us, when our vehicle was stopped for speeding. There were no complaints at all about the armed forces and police from individuals I spoke to or dealt with, while in Jaffna. Isolated incidents of an unacceptable nature involving the armed forces and police may be taking place. These however are an exception than the rule.

The religious, cultural and development related organizations that had a track record in the pre-insurgency years in Jaffna, yet exist, although debilitated to a great extent.
These institutions have to be supported and developed to serve the community, the way they should. These are also legally registered entities, operating with low overhead expenses. Dedicated men with high ideals have kept these institutions alive during the years of unprecedented adversity. By visiting these institutions and talking to the individuals concerned, I am reassured that the spirit of Jaffna that in the colonial era seeded a religious revival and created a successful co-operative movement and a vibrant education system is yet alive, though considerably weakened.

The emergence of Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) as a possible political personality to be contended with in post- war Tamil politics has been viewed with apprehension by the existing Tamil political establishment. These elements are scurrying like scared rats to form new political alliances to contend with this possibility on the horizon. The government has done a service to the Tamils by permitting KP to participate in political activities involving the war-affected and thus creating the possibility for a political alternative.

The curse of the Tamils seems to be the existing political leadership and bureaucracy in the north and possibly in the east. The government unfortunately is turning a blind eye to not only the misdemeanors of both these vital elements, but also appears to be encouraging these elements to continue on the path they are treading. This is rather disconcerting in the face of the good intentions the government had projected in discussions with the author and those associated with him.

The manner, in which Jaffna University functions, is of serious concern to those in Jaffna, who understand what a university should be. The faculty is mediocre, self-perpetuating, self-aggrandizing and self-seeking. The university is not playing a meaningful role in society and providing the required leadership in a time of need. While political activism of the LTTE-kind is unfortunately prevalent and probably dominant, social and development activism is non-existent. The faculty, by-and- large, is definitely incapable of making the University a temple of learning and an ornament on the northern landscape. Quality faculty, both from local and expatriate sources, should be immediately recruited and provided the facilities and environment to begin the changes required. Expatriate Tamil academics should be encouraged to visit for periods of at least six months, to 'Water' the 'Arid desert of dead habit' this university has become. The Jaffna University should not continue to be a mediocre degree factory. The north requires a better university to cater to its needs.

To conclude, it is gratifying that the spirit of the Tamils in the north has not been extinguished by the long years of war and its brutal end. All indications point that the Tamils will rise again to play a meaningful role in Sri Lanka and prosper. The spirit that is manifesting itself in numerous ways all over the north, despite the all too obvious adversities and disadvantages, is definitely a harbinger of a bright future for the Tamils and Sri Lanka. If they are helped and guided, they will advance faster. If not, they will yet become a great people, though at a slower pace. The Tamils will emerge from their prolonged tragedy and the associated misery, despite their politicians, bureaucrats and malcontents- both within and the Diaspora, to become what they deserve to be in the land of their birth and life. I may not live to see this happen, but will die convinced, it will happen. Tamils are not a species, destined for extinction in Sri Lanka, as many, including me had feared six months back. They are proving that they have what it takes to rebound from adversity and hurdles, to survive and prosper. May 'God' help them, even if their fellow men fail! They deserve this divine help, because they have not given up. I salute these ordinary and simple folk, who have withstood the worst of war and are proving to the world that they are second to none in their resilience, hard work, patience and faith.

July 15, 2010

On Sri Lanka, NAM Will Wait, "Pillay's" Neuwirth to Head Panel Staff of 8

By Matthew Russell Lee

We'll “take our time” on the Sri Lanka letter, the current head of the Non Aligned Movement told Inner City Press on Thursday night, to see if they can “make up to Secretary General” Ban Ki-moon.

He added that “a lot of comments” against the letter were received from NAM members, on “the relation to the flotilla” and other issues.

Meanwhile the Council representative of a Permanent Five member, also on Thursday evening, told Inner City Press that Sri Lanka is “out of control... they went too far.”

This representative confirmed to Inner City Press the identity of the chief of staff of the UN's Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka: Jessica Neuwirth, a long time UN human rights official and founder of Equality Now, friend of Navi Pillay.

Some in Sri Lanka government circles say the appointment of Neuwirth, at a high level, smacks of patronage or nepotism, as does staffing the panel with eight people. “Goldstone didn't get that,” one noted. “The Sudan panel didn't get that.”

With a staff of eight, the Panel should at least opine of the credibility of the Rajapaksa Administration's “Lessons Learnt” panel. The Rapjapansans are afraid, they say, of this “becoming like Cambodia,” with a UN affiliated tribunal, or even Sierra Leone. We'll see

courtesy: Inner City Press

About: Inner City Press

Rehabilitation Minister DEW Gunasekera on complaints of abuse: 'Write letters to me instead of BBC in London'

Former Sri Lanka rebels 'abused in detention'

By Swaminathan Natarajan
BBC Tamil service

Former Tamil Tiger rebels detained in Sri Lanka say they have been ill-treated in government camps with no basic facilities.

In letters and phone calls to BBC Tamil, ex-militants say they have been "tortured and beaten" in the centres.

They accuse camp guards of being corrupt and demanding bribes before releasing detainees.

The government says all those being held in custody following the end of the war are being well cared for.

It has consistently refused to allow any kind of independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in the final weeks leading up to the end of the war in May 2009.

Recently President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that "not even a single civilian was killed" during the conflict.

But human rights groups say thousands were killed or injured towards the end of the fighting and in the war's immediate aftermath.

It has consistently refused to allow any kind of independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in the final weeks leading up to the end of the war in May 2009.

Recently President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that "not even a single civilian was killed" during the conflict.

But human rights groups say thousands were killed or injured towards the end of the fighting and in the war's immediate aftermath.

"Military officers often call us dogs - even if we don't shave for a day we are beaten up badly," said one of the letters, which was written by a detainee being held at a Tamil school in Vavuniya.

"The detainees are forced to bear the expenses for electricity and cleaning charges," continued the letter.

"If we say we don't have money, they threaten to transfer us to the notorious Boossa prison."

Another letter said: "We don't know whether we will be released or... shot."

The claims - mostly made in letters to BBC Tamil but sometimes in telephone interviews - are difficult to verify as there is no direct access to the camps.

It is estimated that some 10,000 Tamil Tigers either surrendered or were captured at the end of the war; many of them remain confined.

Some of the camps are located in military bases, others in schools and colleges.

The government refuses to allow journalists, aid agencies and the UN to visit these camps - but in most cases, relatives are allowed to see their loved ones.

Their accounts and the letters written by those being held all speak of unsanitary conditions and shortages of water.

The government says it is giving technical and vocational training to the detained cadres to make them more employable. Detainees say "no meaningful training" has so far been provided.

One letter written by a woman from the eastern town of Trincomalee said some young detainees had been "beaten black and blue".

"Some are hanged upside down," she wrote. "Some are made to lie down in the floor and beaten with belts and sticks. They don't take the injured to hospital."

Others accuse the authorities of providing no information on the whereabouts of their loved ones and of orchestrating "disappearances" from the detention centres.

They say that detainees taken away for questioning have not returned and no-one knows what has happened to them.

But these claims too have been strenuously denied by the government.

"I have visited Jaffna, Killinochi and Vavuniya where I met many people - including wives and relatives of the detainees," Rehabilitation Minister DEW Gunasekera told the BBC.

"No one made any complaints to me.

"Instead of writing letters to the BBC in London, ask them to write to me and I will look into it."

The minister said 3,000 people had been released from the camps in the past year and 8,000 former rebels - including 600 women and 1,300 men classified as "hardcore fighters" - remained in custody.

"Overall I would say we have been very magnanimous," added Mr Gunasekera. - courtesy: BBC.co.uk -

There is no firm peace without justice - Samantha Power

"it is very difficult to see lasting peace and stability without this kind of justice" - Samantha Power

"It is hard to read these words without thinking about the Sri Lankan government's ongoing attempts to avoid accountability for war crimes committed in spring 2009 -- crimes, keep in mind, that killed at least as many people as were massacred in Srebrenica in 1995" - UN Dispatch on Samantha Power's Interview with Bosnian publication, Dnevni avaz.

SPTC715.JPG

[Samantha Power ~ pic by: drclas.harvard.edu]

Full Text of interview of Samantha Power, Special adviser to President Barack Obama, with Dnevni avaz:

by Erol Avdović

She is probably the best known author in the world when it comes to the question of genocide. Her book "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide, was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Council on Foreign Relations' Arthur Ross Prize for the best book in U.S. foreign policy.

The very distinguished professor at the Harvard Kennedy School for Government Affairs, Samantha Power moved to the United States from Ireland at the age of nine. She spent 2005 to 2006 working in the office of then Senator Barack Obama, and she is now part of Obama Administration. Samantha gave exclusive interview for Dnevni Avaz, just before boarding the plane for Bosnia, where, tomorrow, in Potočari - she will deliver the speech on behalf of President Obama: “I am holding that letter with the speech of the President of the United States in my hands right now”, says Samantha:

Q: I want to ask you at the very beginning: Could you have imagined traveling to Bosnia, to Srebrenica as a part of a government administration, in this capacity, as a politician actually?

A: I have been in Sarajevo, in July of 1995, and with no electricity, and no water in the house where I slept in, I received word that the Serbs have taken the town of Srebrenica. And that, I got to tell you, that day, that Srebrenica fell – was the worst day of my life. And, virtually everything that I have done, the work that I did that day and that night, when sun fell down, has been motivated with what happened in those fields. So, to be returning there, on behalf of the President, who has made the lessons of Srebrenica so central to his foreign policy is incredibly important. I am honored with this personally of course. But more than that, it is incredibly important for people of Bosnia to know that what happened in those fields, during those days has had a lasting impact on people in Washington and on people in the United States, on people around the world. That’s a very, very humble consolation for the families whose members died in July 1995. But for me, the events of those days are a daily motivation. And, I really look forward to being back in Srebrenica, back in Sarajevo, and being able to convey to the people, that the lessons of Srebrenica are being internalized at the highest level of the US government.

YES, IT WAS A GENOCIDE IN SREBRENICA

Q: In the press-release by White House prior to this trip, the word – genocide, when it comes to Srebrenica, was obviously used without hesitation: Did you have any problem using this word, bearing in mind, that policymakers tend to avoid the term "genocide"?

A: Two international courts weighed in on what happened in Srebrenica and ruled of course that there was a clear instance of the systematic attempts to destroy whole or substantial part of the population there, and it was proved as such. So there is no controversy in that. It is historical fact. And it is a very, very tragic historical fact.

Q: In his speech to the Islamic World in Cairo, last summer, President Obama mentioned Srebrenica. If Srebrenica is so important to this government, why did the President not use this opportunity to lead his Delegation by himself to Bosnia this time?

A: You can only imagine the various demands on the President’s time, and I think, he tried to send a very important signal by sending members of his senior staff, here in the White House and also ambassador at large for the war crimes and the atrocities, Mr. Steven Rapp. I think he (the President) is eager to find the occasion to travel to the region, at some point. The timing just could not be worked this time.

Q: What about Vice-president Biden, who traveled a year ago to Sarajevo and region: Why nobody of the very senior US policy makers, like the vice-president, did not travel this time to Srebrenica? Is Bosnia put aside again in Washington?

A: I think that would be a really unfortunate and unfair characterization of that. If you only check the calendar of the VP Biden, the number of trips he has made is limited, making his trip to Bosnia significant. And, also consider the fact that the Vice-president of United States chose to make early in his tenure the trip to Bosnia, to the region. It is a truly significant testament to the priority that this administration places on these issues. But, also, the fact, that the President has chosen to send senior members of his staff from the White House, is a further reflection of that. So, the facts are otherwise: It (Bosnia and Herzegovina) remains a priority; there are a number of individuals who serve in this administration, who were involved in the very difficult decisions, in 1995, that gave rise to the intervention in Bosnia, and to the historic Dayton Peace Agreement, and the commitment to Bosnia of those individuals did not diminish a bit.

OBAMA HAS A PERSONAL INTEREST IN BOSNIA

Q: In that light, what is the message of President Obama for Srebrenica, Bosnia, and the region?

A: Let me just say, to start with, that I was in Srebrenica on the tenth anniversary, with the survivors, with men who survived the massacre of Srebrenica, who were going through the hills, moving through the enemies lines, talked to us about experiences that they had. And that was something that I was able to discuss with President Obama when I was working for him in the Senate. So, he has a personal interest in the events that occurred in Srebrenica. In his Cairo speech, exactly, he singled out this and mentioned the massacre in one of the central speeches of his Presidency. And this is also a real reflection of this commitment. And I think, while I would leave President’s message on the day when it speaks for it self (for Sunday), the core message for the survivors who would be present there, and many of them will be burying members of their families – is: I President Obama, have not forgotten (Srebrenica). This is the stain of our collective conscience, and all of us are haunted by it... Srebrenica is a touch-stone, by the term it self and the name that signals to us and all citizens around the world to stand up against the face of evil.

Q: Are there going to be some other concerns included in the Presidents speech that you will deliver this Sunday in Srebrenica?

A: Yes. The other matter would be, the need for those responsible for these atrocities to be brought to justice. There is been some progress in that regard in light of the last convictions (on ICTY). But, the main person responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica remains at large, and there is no secret, that is Ratko Mladic. The President is determined to continue to signal that the arrest of Mladić and others responsible for this massacre and other crimes against humanity, that occurred, need to be brought to justice.

Q: Samantha, do you know that president Boris Tadic, of Srebia, will be this Sunday in Srebrenica, as he was there few years ago…

A: Yes, he was there at the 10th anniversary and I met him in Srebrenica then…

Q: Yet, would it have been better for president Tadic, if he would have done more to capture and extradite Mr. Mladić to Hague, instead, as some argue, trying to collect the political points over Srebrenica this time?

A: I just start with saying, Serbia has come a long way, and we have to recognize, while we are marking this year 15th anniversary of massacre in Srebrenica, that the Serbian National Assembly issued the resolution condemning the massacre that occurred, and that is incredibly important and a positive step, toward reconciliation and toward stability in the region. That resolution also, included commitment by Serbia to cooperate with the ICTY, and that the cooperation of course includes the effort to capture and extradite to the Hague Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. So, I think progress has been made, as President Obama has said – it is important that the focus on those alleged war criminals who are remaining at large is intensified, that they are found, that they are turned over to the Hague, and be brought to justice. And the hope is that Tadic’s presence in Srebrenica will also serve as a nudge in that direction.

THERE IS NO FIRM PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE

Q: But, in general, as you even described in your book “The Problem from Hell”, policymakers in general -- have been almost consistently reluctant to condemn mass atrocities as genocide. Has that been changed after Srebrenica; after the ICJ and ICTY verdicts?

A: We made a lot of progress in this government, largely, because President Obama has a personal commitment to these issues. The President has just created for the first time ever, a position at the White House, devoted exclusively to fight atrocities and genocide prevention… So, after Srebrenica and Rwanda, you wouldn’t see the same reluctance today. As you know, president Clinton has apologized for inaction during Rwanda, and said many, many times, hundreds, maybe thousand times, that he regrets, not doing more… So, I would say although I mentioned that in my book, that starts with some bad news stories, yes, I think some real progress has been made. Actually, within our government I am proud to be associated with the director for atrocities and genocide prevention to serve for this president…

Q: It seems you so firmly believe in this kind of justice in continuity?

A: And, not only because the outside world cares what happened in Srebrenica. We do. We clearly do. We also believe as a factual matter, as a historical matter – it is very difficult to see lasting peace and stability without this kind of justice. So the more Serbia recognizes, the Bosnian government recognizes what atrocities were committed by its forces, the Croatian government grapples as well, more progress you will see and the more forward we move.

Q: At the end, during the war in Bosnia, we have heard the “political argument” that a U.S. response would be futile and would “only accelerate violence”?! Actually, after Srebrenica - do we have any new knowledge that would really look like a lesson learned, so that politicians would act differently to prevent genocide anywhere?

A: As I said, beside that President Obama has created a new Office here in the White House, specifically devoted for atrocities prevention, the genocide prevention, and what that means is -- that, at least here, we have the ability to react quickly, to process intelligence, to move through the chain of command quickly… And another thing that has changed is, truly historic and significant is that in the United States, and I think, is growing around the world – there is a movement, a kind of anti-genocide, anti-atrocities movement that was generated by the genocide in Rwanda and the atrocities and genocide that occurred in Bosnia. And that movement is one capable of generating political pressure quickly in the face of mass atrocities. In the end, citizens and governments not only in the United States have to be convinced to respond robustly in the face of atrocities. But, I think in the United States we have seen some very encouraging developments … that the promise of Never Again is now being brought to light through structures that can make it much more likely that the kind of horror that we saw in Srebrenica never happens again. [courtesy: dnevniavaz.ba]

Sri Lanka: Impressions of an Indian tourist from Chennai

by Ravi Gee

I was in Srilanka a fortnight ago for the first time. I travelled to Southern towns Kandy, Bentota and Colombo by road. I would like to share my observations, a mix of positives and negatives as below. It has become such a length piece and I hope people would not think I am hijacking the landscape provided to them by DBSJ.

1. As this my first visit to SL, when I came out of the Colombo Airport, President Rajapakse welcomed me at the entrance with his broad larger than life-size smile! Being an unknown commoner from India, I was more than happy with this protocol at the airport! I also saw MR’s brothers and a few unknown (to me) faces with smaller smile and less grin welcoming me. Where are Chandrika or Ranil? Have I missed them? I could not see them enroute in the whole week I was there. Perhaps MR Brothers wanted to monopolize the entire protocol.

It would be entirely different in India for any visitor. A conspicuous absentee would be the Indian PM or President. However, in Chennai, a big battalion would be there waiting for you in hot sun or heavy rain, Sonia, Kalaingar, Jayalalitha, Stallin, even Mayavati all the way from North, local Dalit Chief Thiruma and other sundry VIPs leaning on every available wall . They would make their presence felt always waving hands. Thy hand, Great monarch! By any chance if you miss them, there will be a team from Kollywood (rarely Bollowood) actors out in all roads and junctions with varying emotions.

But, to the credit of Srilanka, I have seen your great heroes in very few places only. Perhaps, busy elsewhere! Keep it up Sri lanka! My first impression is the best impression!

2. I saw Lord Buddha smiling in all places. To be honest, I had not expected this.

In TN, it used to be Pillayar (God Ganesha) statues under every tree. As India’s GDP started going upwards 9%, trees were sacrificed for big roads and buildings which disturbed even Lord Ganesha leave alone the birds, animals and vegetation! But the icons of the great iconoclast EVR Periyar’s statues were installed along with the Dalit and Buddhist-convert Ambedkar usually in steel enclosures in every nook and corner! The devotees of EVR & Ambedkar unlike the resilient Ganesha devotees would often be angry even if a scratch is done to the statues of their icons!

Somewhere I read, please correct me if I am wrong, Lord Buddha is an iconoclast! Please take care as Buddha loves all – whether you are Buddhist or Hindu or Christian or Muslim or even an agnostic irrespective of his/her nationality.

3. The main roads connecting towns -approx 600 kms I travelled in the Southern SL were neat and clean unlike in India, Though main thoroughfares were smooth and neat, the inner city roads in Colombo and Kandy, were bumpy and riddled with traffic snarls. In Colombo, the drainage canals in most parts of the streets I walked in the mornings were choked with plastic bags and muck. No wonder you were flooded in the recent rains.

4. On the roads of the South, there were more ladies and children. Mostly men are middle aged or old. Is the sex ratio tilted towards women or more young men were lost in the south too?

5. We could not see any one peeing on the road! Have we missed the scene? If this is really the practice all along your land, “Jeya Veva” and “Vettri Vettri” to Srilanka! In India, we all know, it will be a different. We have more freedom than anyone in this aspect. However, let me reserve my comment as I had not seen the public toilets inside your Bus stands and railway stations. Hope it is as clean as in Colombo airport. (Let me not talk about the condition of IDP, the very existence of which is a shame to all good Srilankans!)

6. More cars and mini vans were on the road than buses. Public transport buses and trains were overcrowded as In India. Trains are too old to transport even circus animals. (In India trains are better in terms of age but the crowds make you feel you are in a circus!)

I doubt whether Colombo and Kandy have more cars than their human population. In its focus towards building tourism based economy, isn’t the small country losing the ecological balance? There was frequent traffic jam in the road junctions. It is better you switch to cycles as in Europe. You have an excuse now that yours is a battle-scar economy and the swanky, gas guzzlers are not affordable. They are not sustainable for the fragile ecology too. Once the selfish-middleclass is used to the comfort of the cars, it is very difficult to change their mindset.

In India, the novo-rich middle class is hell bent saving its own skin and give no hoot of concern over the pathetic condition of the poor in villages and towns. Please do not learn bad things from India. I am sure E.F. Schumacher (“Small is Beautiful”) would guide SL more than anybody.

7. In spite of so many vehicles on the road, there was traffic discipline. All vehicles stopped on the road whenever someone was found crossing. Pedestrians could walk on the path. (In India, especially in Chennai, pedestrians are expected to have wings!) All two-wheeler drivers and pillion-riders were wearing helmets. Oh, even traffic constables standing on the mid road were wearing helmet! Autos (mostly Bajaj make) were less noisy and smoky. By and large, I noticed an excellent civic sense. As someone who is now living in Chennai, I find the traffic discipline in SL is really worth emulating.

8. I smelt the air was filled with an over-supply of patriotism. Whether it is the guides we had or the lone Buddhist monk I met in Kandy or someone at the Hotel lobby, newspapers or TV – wherever I see/hear, there was always a reference to patriotism mixed with a dose of religion! The guides we had would have told at least half a dozen times that “Singhalese are of Aryan race and there were so many invasions from Tamil Kings Pandyas and Cholas and we defeated them; ours is Theravada Buddhism, the purest form of Buddhism; The holy tooth was shifted whenever the Hindu kings attacked us. Our kings fought victoriously to save our race and religion…..” I was scared.

A book I browsed in a bookshop in Colombo titled “Patriots of Srilanka” which contains brief profiles of Engineers, Bureaucrats, Urban Planners etc. Similar books in India or elsewhere might have been secularly titled “visionaries” or “Nation or community Builders”. In SL, they are patriots! Somehow, I think consumption of too much patriotism in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious environment is injurious to common health because calibrating the scales of patriotism is difficult.

9. Whenever our vehicle stopped intermittently for tea/snacks in the interior predominantly Singhalese towns/villages, the commoners I met were only warm and friendly with usual shy smile. Mostly people were curious to know where we were from and once they were told India. Tamil Nadu, it was spontaneous smile and a gentle nod. They would try to communicate with smattering English and preferred to stop with a warm smile. Common man, like all common man, has no agenda. Simple another human being.

10. We were discussing that there was no beggar on the streets. Somebody commented sarcastically they might be sent to IDP camps in the north. But when we reached our Hotel, there was a news item that the beggars were driven out of Colombo and there was a murder of a beggar. I remember reading a report recently about Delhi’s poor and beggars. They were being evicted out of the capital forcibly as the Delhi Government wanted to show a spic and span modern shining India ahead of Asian Games in Nov ‘10! Is there any Colombo- Delhi collaboration on this cosmetic facial?

11. At the airport, my bags and body were checked by young men and women of the air force. (SLAF). In India, it is done by Police (CRPF). I guess the excess recruitment in the forces is rightly deployed. What is their career plan? Will they be checking the same even after, say for 10 years? No wonder, our guide, a young Sinhala man in his mid 20’s would like to go abroad asap. Our another guide, also Sinhala in his 60’s whose children are already in UK also want to go out. There is already a huge queue among Tamils to go out whether by boat or plane or even on crow! Who will be left in SL? Too big a question for this short duration traveler.

12. Important for vegetarians like me. I thought a Buddhist land will give me decent vegetarian food. I am aware that Tibetian Buddhists are meat eaters. We stayed in very decent hotels. Food, in one word, is nightmare (except in Colombo). Not only food, a lot of training is needed for the staff in most of the places. No doubt People are hard working. Those who come in the morning were staying till late night. Tired. Smiling. Impatient.

Tourists are suckers all over the world. They may be beggars in their home. Once in another land- in their home or other country- they demand a kingdom at a bargain price. Decision makers who thrust tourism should ensure balancing take place in-house in terms of people work hours, training etc. Once the in-house is in order, it is a cake walk to face competition - from Maldives to Malaysia.

13. We visited a grocery shop and mall in Colombo to check the food prices. A packet of 450 ml milk costing Rs 60/- Mineral Water Rs 40/ liter. Potato Rs 120/ kg. Rice Rs 100/ kg. We converted all into Indian Rupee and made a back of the envelope comparison. All food items are costing more than twice the price in India where food inflation was as all time high. I understood that Petrol in Srilanka costing roughly the same as milk! Not a good sign for a developing nation! A case of misplaced priorities. India was also notorious for its milk shortage.

There was a co-operative movement started in Gujarat and an organization was found (AMUL) by Dr.V.Kurien . Now, in India, there is no shortage of milk and is costing less than petrol. In SL, a similar cooperative movement can be started both in NE and the entire south. Similarly, vegetables can be grown in the surplus land. South India is an easy accessible market both for milk and vegetables.

14. In India, some places, the situation may be much worse than that is Srilanka. I would say, as a good commoner, both the countries have got their own strengths and weaknesses. It is better we leverage each others’ strengths and work in a mutually beneficial way. There is light at both the ends of Palk Strait! - Ravi Gee - Chennai

'The three outsiders will need to take a view on what really happened in the closing stages of the war' - The Economist

A nasty row over a UN investigation panel

by The Economist

NEITHER Sri Lanka’s government, nor the United Nations seems ready to back down over an increasingly bitter dispute. This week a spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, confirmed that a panel of three experts will be convened as planned to advise him on “accountability” for war crimes that were allegedly committed as Sri Lanka brought its civil war to a bloody end early in 2009.

'It remains unclear just what Mr Ban’s expert panel will actually do'

This is despite a fierce demonstration in front of the UN compound in Colombo, the capital, spearheaded by Sri Lanka’s housing minister, Wimal Weerawansa. He had called for a protest against Mr Ban’s experts. The government had earlier dismissed the panel as an interference in its internal affairs, but it also promised that such a siege would be avoided.

Nonetheless on July 6th police clashed with a mob, led by Mr Weerawansa, that tried to storm the UN compound. Shouting angry slogans, protesters burned an effigy of Mr Ban, called his advisers “idiots” and trapped some 200 staff, and their visitors. Those caught inside were escorted out by police eight hours later, to jeers.

The protest continued for much of the past week as loudspeakers blared and a black-shirted Mr Weerawansa launched a “fast-unto-death” while lying inside a shed across the road from the compound. He vowed that he would only be prepared to relent if Mr Ban scrapped his panel. The government preserved a curious position: somewhat disassociating itself from Mr Weerawansa, but rejecting his offer of resignation and saying that it would not quell his demonstration.

From New York Mr Ban issued a terse statement grumbling that the Sri Lankan authorities had failed in their duty to prevent disruption to the UN offices and adding that the UN Development Programme regional centre in Colombo would close (it had earlier been marked for scaling down).

Mr Weerawansa should fatten himself up now while he has the chance

In the end the siege was lifted and Mr Weerawansa gave up his fast (after 52 hours) once President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid a visit and offered him a glass of water. The UN has not caved in, but it remains unclear just what Mr Ban’s expert panel will actually do. His office says that it is not a war-crimes investigation but part of an internal process to advise the secretary-general. But if the three outsiders are to do that, they will need to take a view on what really happened in the closing stages of the war. Mr Weerawansa should fatten himself up now while he has the chance. - courtesy: The Economist -

Newsweek: In defense of M.I.A

The M.I.A. Backlash, Continued

by Seth Colter Walls

When M.I.A.’s debut mixtape, Piracy Funds Terrorism, Volume 1, first debuted back in 2004, I was working as a political reporter-editor in Beirut. I asked a stateside friend to send me a zipped file of the MP3s, which took me more than an hour to download in broadband-less Lebanon.

While waiting for the paper’s front page to close—there was some late-breaking cabinet shuffle—I gave the record a first, dizzy spin. It seemed every bit as good as the (mostly Western-derived) Internet media buzz had promised. I burned off a quick copy for the paper’s music editor, a London-raised kid with family in ritually war-torn South Lebanon, and of course he flipped for it. Piracy—and M.I.A. herself—seemed fully formed, and impossible to improve on via anyone’s remixing or second-guessing. She’d taken her own art to the global, cross-pollinated nth degree already, with everything from radical politics to so-DIY-it’s-haute fashion represented and balanced.

Which is just a way of noting that sometimes it’s your moment, and other times it ain’t. Right after Bush 43’s reelection, almost any beat-savvy rapper-singer with a patina of international awareness seemed a godsend to lefty art obsessives. That M.I.A. (real name Maya Arulpragasam) was a Londoner of Sri Lankan heritage only sweetened the narrative. But now, in 2010, with President Obama owning both Deepwater Horizon’s 24/7 crude-vomit as well as a lethargic pace on his promised legislative reforms, the pro forma liberal arts-and-culture commentariat has ever so tactfully booted rebel rock from the cool kids’ tent. And that may go double if you recently married the heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, as M.I.A. has. (To wit, on one new song, she straightforwardly admits, “I don’t want to talk about money, ’cause I got it.”) So if you’re presumably in power—or at least have access to means—and not much is getting done, you don’t even have Brando’s “What you got?” retort to the question of what to fight back against. Which means it’s a bad time to be an even halfway politically engaged artist coming up on your third record (especially if your second record managed to avoid the sophomore-slump curse).

Almost as bad as that is trying to work as a soul-searching pop artist, period. Right now we prefer our dance-music auteurs to keep it simple, conceptually. The thinner the persona, the better. In a recession, minting a strong brand means keeping your job and making bank. It means status—about which pop remains unfailingly sensitive. So we’re talking it to death about Gaga’s “Fame” trope, The-Dream’s Love Trilogy, and Lil’ Wayne’s “Young Money”—ideas or concepts that boil down to a word or two. The contradictions that may result from such ritual enactments of the duh-simple are fine so long as the artists refuse to engage them in depth. This avoidance equals the “on message” discipline of successful politicians, and thus what passes for public-sphere profundity—or, short of that, winningness. Anything self-consciously complex is anathema. So if The New York Times should goad you into eating “truffle fries” while discussing the developing world? Well, would-be renegade pop artist, that’s very, very naughty of you (and not in the sexy way). It means you’re not focused enough as a brand. (The upshot of the reaction to The New York Times Magazine profile of M.I.A. seemed to be “either get your revolutionary politics Camus-grade sophisticated or else don’t talk about them at all.”) It means—gasp—that you might even be in a state of active development.

So it’s no surprise that, in an age when simplicity reigns, M.I.A.’s restless, occasionally exasperating, but never-not-interesting new album, Maya (or, in crypto-computer script, /\/\ /\ Y /\” is getting some pans. The raft of critical consensus about Maya is largely correct when it notes that this thing is a mess. But that’s different from saying that M.I.A. doesn’t know what she’s doing. In the past, when M.I.A. built up dense sound collages from foreign-recorded drum circles, she did it under the aegis of great pop tunes—such that Jay-Z rightly recognized her “Paper Planes” as the basis for a chart hit. There was once a yin-yang relationship between M.I.A.’s top-40 heart and her outré brain; her motto could have been an English remix twist on a foreign phrase—maybe like “sturm und bang.” Now, though, she’s off the wholeness bandwagon. The pop songs on Maya—like “XXXO”—are simpler than her past singles. Meantime, the clatter has been fully outsourced to the album tracks—to the point that, now, getting on her grind actually means sampling power tools in action, with no kind of ear at all for a hook (as on the album’s second song, “Steppin’ Up”). On other cuts, though, such as “It Takes a Muscle” and “Space,” M.I.A. flashes an ambition to be a no-nonsense singer. The result doesn’t just feel like the output of a sonic contrast filter, but instead feels as though M.I.A. has done what Andre 3000 once asked his lover to do, and taken off the pretense of her cool. If having done so makes her less hip, that seems like a useful tradeoff—so long as the benefit is in becoming less a perfect, walking remix and more of a wart-and-pimpled human.

At minimum, despite her recent run of bad press, M.I.A. can’t be dumb about the fact that her new approach is so violently out of vogue. One of this year’s most critically adored bands, Sleigh Bells, not only satisfies the zeitgeist’s desire for simplistic jamming, but also counts M.I.A.’s label as a recording home. The crunch of the band’s guitar lines and the distorted stomp of their pep-rally beats are the only things that anyone needs to process in order to love them, since the lyrics are mostly free-floating fragments that outright preclude any kind of direct from-artist-to-listener communication. Take this line, for example: “Straight wars, straight men. Cowboys, Indians. Red souls, red friends. Infinity guitar, you’re hard.” That Rorschach scramble of refrigerator-magnet poetry comes in a song where only the two-word title phrase, “Infinity Guitars,” can be said to matter. The upshot is that it’s a workable single for both the indie set as well as the yuppies at your local Body Flow class. So while M.I.A. is happy to make money with them—and swipe one of their riffs for her own purposes—she’s clearly less interested in that über-studied narrowness herself. (With apologies to Sleigh Bells, she appears to want shards of glass on the ground, not crowns.)

Does it all add up to good music? That depends on your appetite for construction—or else musique concrete-cum-dancing away an identity crisis. (Me, I dig Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet just as much as I enjoy R. Kelly, so I’m more or less sold.) The tracks by familiar M.I.A. collaborators (think Diplo and Switch) sound less intriguing this time than the contributions from new partners like Rusko—such that I think I’d like to see M.I.A.’s next album be completely Diplo-free. But whether you get down with Maya or not, M.I.A.’s honesty about confusion is at least making one important stand, and that’s on behalf of music that’s not buffed down to “high concept” (in the doublespeak of Hollywood) before it even hits your ear. Like most pop artists, she may not be your best source for the latest on the developing world, or theories about what the CIA is actually up to these days, though Maya still asserts itself as sound politics of a different and more musically relevant sort. - courtesy: Newsweek -

MIA's new album: 'There's something for everyone' - New Zealand Herald

By Scott Kara

Rating: 4/5
Verdict: From cheesy pop to extreme industrial, it's got it all

With her combative music and fighting words, M.I.A. is not well known for her loving side. But on Lovealot off her third album, and follow-up to 2007's excellent Kala, she proclaims herself a lover and a fighter.

MIA715.jpg

"I really love a lot," she coos, "but I fight the ones who fight me."

It's a duality that sums up where the British-Sri Lankan musician, singer, rapper, producer, and mother of one is at on Maya.

On the one hand, the album features some of M.I.A.'s most accessible material, with first single XXXO as catchy and sing-a-long as she gets, and the cover of It Takes A Muscle "to fall in love", has a sunny reggae-dancehall skank to it with the loveliest lilt and sweetest sentiment she's come up with.

But there's also a more punishing industrial influence, and with a bloke like dirty dubstepper Rusko being the dominant production force, many of the tracks have a depth charge bass attack at the forefront - like the industrial strength dubstep and scuttling cockroach beats of Story To Be Told.

Meanwhile, Meds and Feds is the type of pummelling noise not heard since German music industrialists Einsturzende Neubauten were let loose on the world, or when Atari Teenage Riot were in their digitally destructive heyday.

It's hardly surprising she comes up with hammer party music like this. Her background is just as intriguing, fractious and heavy going as her music. She was born in Britain, but at an early age her family moved to their homeland of Sri Lanka (where her father was a staunch Tamil supporter and political activist). As the country's civil war intensified they moved to Chennai in India, before settling in London as refugees. And these days her music, which has been some of the most inventive and challenging of the 2000s, is as influenced by hip-hop, club culture, dancehall, and punk as it is by her political and cultural upbringing.

She named 2005's debut album Arular after her father, then 2007's excellent Kala after her mum, and now Maya after herself. As you'd expect it's predominantly about her, and the technological world she lives in ("You tweetin' me like tweety bird on ya iPhone"). Lyrically it's effortless, be it when she's spitting about a "Taleban trucker eating boiled up yucca", or using booze brands as the basis for a song ("Jonnie keep walkin', Jack does too much coke", and best of all, "I don't wanna talk about money - coz I got it, I don't wanna talk about hoochies - coz I been it", on the agitating electro-punk noise of Born Free.

Her music is polarising, because often it's hard to get past the clatter and din, but on this album more than any of them, there's something for everyone. - courtesy: New Zealand Herald -

July 14, 2010

President and Opp. Leader should take minorities into confidence on electoral reforms - Mano Ganesan

by Mano Ganesan

The issue of electoral reforms are very fundamental for the Tamil and Muslim minorities live in the southern districts than their counterparts in the northern and eastern provinces.

President and leader of opposition should take the Tamil speaking minorities into confidence when dealing with this issue said DPF leader Mano Ganesan in a release issued by the DPF media office. Ganesan says further in the release,

The national consensus today is for a mixed electoral system encompassing positive features of both FPP and PR systems. We endorse this consensus and subsequent national search for an appropriate system. The established apprehension along the line of search is that complete doing away with the PR system would cut down the representations of the minorities inappropriately.

It should be understood that if any unfair system is implemented, the numerical minority Tamils and Muslims living in the southern districts will be the most affected than their counterparts in the northern and eastern provinces. This is being one of the major core issues being debated over the years in respect of the electoral reforms subject.

The fear of the numerical minorities should not be under estimated. Even the mixed system, which is being projected is also has sent an impression of distrust amidst the minority political parties representing the Tamil speaking people live in the southern districts outside north and east. It is essential that all possible avenues must be tried to arrive at the most suitable electoral system.

The suitability is to ensure fair minority representation while accommodating positives features of both PR and FPP systems. Disfranchisement and violent denials of voting rights of the Tamil people to elect their democratic representatives have led to turmoil in the past.

DPF calls upon the president and leader of opposition to take the minorities into confidence by being mindful of the fear.

Track in M.I.A.'s new album: 'kind of lullaby one would sing to a baby android' - Wall Street Journal

Amid all the sonic commotion, M.I.A. pauses from time to time to show a softer side

By Christopher John Farley

Like Courtney Love, Sinead O’Connor and Lady Gaga, M.I.A. makes music that revels in contradiction and controversy. M.I.A., a.k.a. Mathangi Arulpragasam, this week released her third album, whose title is a stylized rendering of her nickname, “Maya.”

The album comes in the wake of a recent New York Times magazine profile that portrayed the British-born, Sri Lankan artist as something of a phony, preaching revolution while eating truffle-flavored French fries. M.I.A. condemned the article on Twitter and said her words and actions had been twisted; the New York Times magazine subsequently appended an Editors’ Note to the story.

So after all the talk, how is M.I.A.’s new album? “Maya” is a determinedly varied affair, ranging from noise-rock songs like “Born Free” to reggae-ish pop confections such as “It Takes a Muscle.” M.I.A. employs a range of vocal attacks, rapping, chanting, singing, talking–whatever she can do to deliver her lyrics.

What’s most interesting about the album is the rhythmic invention it displays. Songs like “XXXO” don’t fall into neat genres, and draw readily from hip-hop, techno, pop and other sources. Many pop artists, when they’re trying to be creative, focus on melodies or lyrics. M.I.A., with collaborating producers such as Switch and Rusko, turns her attention to the foundation of her compositions, breaking them apart, like a hardhat busting concrete, and building something new on the ruins.

“Meds and Feds” is a tangle of guitars and chanting repeated until the listener capitulates, and gives in to the beat. Other songs on the album, like “Tell Me Why,” also get by more on ferocity than melody. But amid all the sonic commotion, M.I.A. pauses from time to time to show a softer side. The track “Space” comes across as the kind of lullaby one would sing to a baby android. [courtesy: Wall Street Journal - Speak Easy]

M.I.A.'s New Record is Full of Greatness

M.I.A.'s New Record is Full of Greatness: So why aren't we hearing anything good about it ?

by Gabe Meline

In case you missed it, a month ago on May 30, which is about 20 years in internet time, M.I.A. was profiled in the New York Times Sunday magazine with a critical eye to her knotty politics.

Resonant throughout the piece was the fact that the once-underground M.I.A.—who either claims or doesn't claim, depending on the day of the week, to support the revolutionary group Tamil Tigers of her native Sri Lanka—has connected herself with the American upper class by becoming engaged to Ben Brewer, the Seagram heir and son of billionaire Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman.

The ensuing Trufflegate, as it were, went down like this: In the piece, M.I.A. was quoted as saying that she wanted to be an "outsider" while "eating a truffle-flavored French fry," which is pretty damn great. M.I.A. took her outrage to Twitter, where she posted NYT staff writer Lynn Hirschberg's cell number, and her own blog, where she posted a supposed response-in-song mp3 that failed to live up to its "diss track" Googlability. She also posted recorded evidence that Hirschberg herself ordered the truffle fries, which didn't vindicate the overall theme of the piece but allowed a slight smug satisfaction before going back to dressing up for photographers, shouting about war and making videos in which a kid's head gets blown off.

I really don't care who ordered the truffle fries. Really. The supposed hypocrisy of supporting the Third World while hustling the First World? I see no problem with that. She went to art school, people. What you learn in art school, or by listening to Madonna, is to strike a pose, shunning authenticity in the quest of the illusion thereof. It's pop music's No. 1 rule.

What matters to me as a longtime M.I.A. fan is whether or not she can continue to make engaging, forward-thinking records. Six years ago, she blew the music industry wide open with Piracy Funds Terrorism, a mix tape promoted on hip-hop sites largely due to its producer, Diplo, a star in underground circles. (M.I.A. and Diplo have since gone on to publicly denigrate each other's contributions but still work together.)

With debut album Arular and breakthrough follow-up Kala, with the smash hit "Paper Planes," M.I.A.'s (or Diplo's) sound has now infiltrated pop music to an innocuous degree. You can hear the signature dancehall triplet beat, pseudo-analog effects and dry vocal delivery in everything from Lil' Wayne protégée Nicki Manaj to pop icon Christina Aguilera.

Yet M.I.A.'s distinctly modern music has been overshadowed by her distinctly instigative stance. At last year's Outside Lands Festival, extra security was brought to the front of the stage because, pissed off that Tenacious D had filled the headlining slot instead of her, M.I.A. had pre-announced that the crowd could join her onstage. She never delivered on the promised bumrush, instead singing the entirety of "Paper Planes" completely off-key and futzing through a sloppy, noisy new song, "Born Free," which met with stunned silence from the crowd.

So it's a little weird that "Born Free" became M.I.A.'s first video—the one with the kid getting shot in the head—from her upcoming record. With a guitar sample from post-punk pioneers Suicide, muddled vocals and hardly any rhythm, it defines what labels deem "not a hit." "XXXO" was quickly leaked to steer the conversation into a more accessible realm, but it was an overcorrective turn with Lady Gaga–sounding production and dimwitted lyrics about "tweeting me like Tweety Bird on your iPhone."

Maya, or /\/\/\Y/\, as it's known typographically, is out July 13 and is not as much a piece of shit as these two songs would have one believe. Rather, it's daringly creative, a pastiche of noises culled from post-punk, industrial and experimental palettes arranged into structured form and immediate hooks. References to living online abound, from the YouTube-inspired cover art to intentionally glitchy digital noise, and cultural globetrotting is still M.I.A.'s gambit. "Steppin' Up" rattles like the inside of a Detroit car factory; "It Takes a Muscle" siphons Caribbean reggae by way of Brixton; "Meds and Feds" channels D.C. hardcore.

M.I.A. sings that "all I ever wanted was my story to be told," and now that it has been, and exhaustively so, she croons ("Tell Me Why," "Space"), squawks ("Teqkilla") and mumbles ("It Iz What It Iz") stories more removed from whatever political stance she may claim. As far as I can ascertain, the record teems with political references but conatins no actual political songs. Despite an intro connecting Google to the government, Maya namechecks the Taliban, Obama, the CIA, the FBI, time bombs, the Pope, marijuana, cops and Gandhi without tying any of these concepts together. The rest of M.I.A.'s songs are mostly about love, a subject as knotty as politics but one which rarely gets pop stars in trouble, and, in increasing frequency, herself and her wealth and her fame.

Is this what moving to America, and more specifially Southern California, has done to M.I.A.? Made her kick against the country she calls a "chicken factory" while aping its lowest forms of art? Perhaps. But remember that her art-school pose relies on embracing contradiction, in this case selling a critique of America to America from an area of Los Angeles—she lives in Brentwood—with a median income upwards of $100,000. Beneath the media din, not only is M.I.A. owning the pose, it's a blaringly original pose set to an album with dramatic production and unexpected highlights.

With one concessionary "hit" single anchoring a pastiche of noises culled from post-punk, industrial and experimental palettes, the fact is that Maya is the perfect record for M.I.A. to be making right now. [courtesy: www.metrosantacruz.com]

July 13, 2010

Review: M.I.A.'s /\/\ /\ Y /\ album

by Ann Powers

There are so many ways to say “I love you,” and if you’re singing, it can be hard to say anything else. Pop stars are our love machines, expressing desires people are otherwise too uptight or disconnected to put into words.

And women artists can hardly find a way beyond that role. Springsteen sings for the working stiff, and Zack de la Rocha slaughters bulls on parade; but when Lady Gaga crafts a commentary on human trafficking, she still has to call it “Bad Romance.”

So, what if you’re a female artist who puts politics first? And then, what happens when you start to feel the muscle that is your heart?

Maya Arulpragasam, a.k.a. M.I.A., is in that nearly singular circumstance. The UK-born Sri Lankan war child turned agitprop-loving art-school kid achieved critical success and some popular renown with a global mash-up sound that cast her as ultimate street urchin -- "Robin Hoodrat," as the critic Jessica Hopper called her in her perceptive "/\/\/\Y/\" review.

Spitting slogans and throwing beat bombs, M.I.A. danced like a rapper, not a single lady. Her lyrics trumpeted self-confidence and spoke for others' struggles, rarely dwelling on tender emotions. She always looked great, but never bared too much skin. Her androgynous charisma, in fact, was the source of her breakthrough, when two different films, "Pineapple Express" and "Slumdog Millionaire," used her song "Paper Planes" as background to the antics of delinquent boys.

In the midst of M.I.A.'s rise, though, a couple of things happened: She started her own record label, the Interscope Records imprint N.E.E.T., getting into the music industry in earnest. And she met her future husband Benjamin Brewer, son of Warner Music Group CEO and Seagram's magnate Edgar Bronfman Jr., a guy with a different set of issues than M.I.A. may be used to confronting. The two had a son, Ikhyd, last year.

"/\/\/\Y/\" responds to these changes, and it feels like a serious artist's sometimes tentative but very promising step toward a broader vision of herself. In its 12 tracks, M.I.A. explores both what it means to serve as a sexual/romantic ideal in the Beyonce way, and what happens when a self-consciously political artist like herself confronts the sentimental streak deep within.

To be clear, she's not beating her chest and belting out "My Heart Will Go On." "/\/\/\Y/\" contains plenty of agitprop verses that would have worked on her first two albums, though the music on post-punk attacks such as "Born Free" and "Meds and Feds" (the latter provided by Sleigh Bells board-cruncher Derek E. Miller) spews more shrapnel than ever before. The ugliness of certain songs comes off as a built-in defense against the more conciliatory qualities of other ones; on "Meds and Feds," Miller loops her saying, "I just give a damn," as if other tracks, like the Robyn-ish "XXXO" or the dreamy, Diplo-produced "Tell Me Why," might cause fans to think otherwise.

"XXXO" is actually not about sex, but about the making of a sex symbol, the other matter preoccupying M.I.A. these days. Against a chirpy background of "you want me," she sings in a style not unlike the consciously girlish coo of early 1980s New Wavers, about a seduction that turns out to be artistic, not sensual. The male in the picture is her "Tarantino," less likely a lover than a producer trying to turn her big ideas into something more containable, like a come-on. "I can be that actress," she murmurs. But she really can't. She's all push and pull; like her fellow "post-feminist" art star Karen O, she understands that something's gotta break -- either the role designed for her, or herself.

"XXXO" is not the only case of M.I.A. pulling a switcheroo on a pop template. She's trying to have it both ways -- the virgules that form her name on the cover of "/\/\/\Y/\" are typographical marks used in phrases like "either/or" -- and the effort sometimes feels a little stilted. "Teqkilla" is a party anthem that's as cold as ice in a frozen glass; there's an air of condemnation in the way she talks about sticky weed and wooze-inducing alcohol. (That song is also the only place where she addresses her relationship with the liquor-company heir Brewer, in the line, "When I met Seagram's, sent Chivas down my spine.") "Space" is a chill-out room seduction, but it stays pretty vague, and M.I.A. just can't sing the phrase "You conquer me" convincingly.

What works as well as anything she's ever done is her depiction of the personal as something worth fighting for. "Lovealot" is the album's most powerful jam, inspired by one of those photographs of the battle dead that puts a heartbreaking face on unfathomable terrorist actions. M.I.A. merges her voice with that of the teen bride Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, who became a suicide-bomber statistic while avenging the death of her husband. Clipping her boasts, M.I.A. turns a call to action into a scared girl's nervous tic. Synths click out a jittery, jagged background. The song doesn't justify anything, but it reminds us that there is a person behind every lit fuse.

M.I.A. has to realize that she no longer lives in a neighborhood where anybody's hiding an arms cache (no workers of the world, anyway -- though who knows what Brentwood's power brokers keep in their wine cellars). Forging her own relationship with the old slogan, "the personal is political," she sometimes miscalculates the distance between herself and her beloved underclass. Yet what she's experiencing is an absolutely necessary struggle -- an attempt by an artist who's defined herself through opposition to engage with the system that she has entered, for better or worse, and to still remain recognizable to herself.

She's also trying, as a mother and a soon-to-be wife, to relate what she feels as Maya to what she says as M.I.A. The bevy of producers who shaped the soundbeds for the musings of "/\/\/\Y/\" push her sound away from grooves and riddims and toward noise, but the sonic and lyrical allusions to the Twitter lifestyle don't really offer a critique. It's more of an attempt to find the blood within the circuitry. What happens to political fervor when it's turned into chatspeak and hashtags? Does a lullaby still soothe a little boy if it's been refined through Auto-Tune?

One of M.I.A.'s most powerful tools is a voice that never sounds processed, even when it's manipulated and chopped and screwed. When her songs have foregrounded ideas, or the stories of oppressed people she didn't necessarily know, she always remains in the thick of it. On "/\/\/\Y/\," she is trying to stay in the thick of her own life. It turns out to be a struggle worthy of a revolutionary.

-- Ann Powers

M.I.A.
"/\/\/\Y/\"
N.E.E.T./Interscope
Three and a half stars (out of four)

courtesy: LA Times

The 2010 budget was partially appropriated before being presented to parliament

by Eran Wickramaratne

Parliamentary oversight on Finance

Article 148 of the Constitution gives Parliament full control over public finance. Since President Wijetunga retained the finance portfolio the authority of the Parliament over finance has been usurped, and created a conflict between the powers of the legislature and the Executive.

Even though Article 44(2) of the Constitution provides that the President may retain any subject or function it transgresses the spirit of the Constitution when taken as a whole. As a result the peoples control over public finances has diminished. The present Presidential family controls over 63% of budgeted public expenditure. It is a further erosion of the principle of public accountability through people’s representatives. Checks and balances are possible only when the President and the Finance Minister are two different persons with the latter responsible to Parliament.

Reliability of Financial Data

The budget debate is predicated on the financial data that is provided. The data provided is unreliable. The accounting financial data and the economic information cannot be deciphered from the information provided. The financials provided for Ministries does not have a breakdown by institutions and therefore cannot be constructively critiqued. While the economic data cannot be compiled easily for a sector such as, education as the information is listed under different Ministries. Understandably, there are also errors made in providing information hurriedly and haphazardly.

To improve the quality of the debate an “Office of the Budget” should be created where independent reliable data is available to all legislators from the same data base.

The one thing that is certain about this budget is that revenue is over estimated and costs are underestimated. This has been the case over many years. The budget deficit was estimated at 7.5% of GDP, but the out turn was 9.8% in 2009. Then what is the purpose of the exercise? Is it to intentionally mislead Parliament and thereby the Country? Is it to please the International lending Organisations? Or are those preparing these estimates, incompetent?

I conclude (from my long interaction with government officials) that some of the cleverest and most educated comprise the bureaucrats in our country. If so what? Government officials do not have space and freedom to do their work professionally without fear or favour. I appeal to them to act impartially and professionally in discharging their responsibility, which will make their children and grandchildren proud of their courageous achievement.

Critique of the Development Model of the Government

In the post conflict year that has passed, the Government has focussed on investing in infrastructure. While not denying the need for roads, bridges and waterways, it raises the question of priority in investment. We live in a country with the absence of war but a peace that’s yet to be won and consolidated. A proud country with nationalities that would not bow down to external interferences, and also not bow down to each other, but seek to be equals. The political question needs urgent attention before the goodwill that prevails dissipates. The government’s establishment of a Reconciliation and Lessons Learnt Commission was laudable, but little progress is yet evident.

It is my considered view that the political question needs to be addressed along with the humanitarian and economic issues. However, it appears that the government is proceeding on a path of economic development through hard infrastructure investments over investing in people. This approach strengthens the powerful over the powerless.

It is clear from the budget speech that the peace dividend which should have come from reductions in defence spending, and waste and expanded economic opportunities and which should have been distributed to the people, is instead diverted elsewhere. There was no immediate relief to the poor, to the small entrepreneur or the “Maw – Piya” shop in the village square. President Premadasa’s development doctrine was in contrast to that of the present government. He once said “There is no point in any development that keeps the people in hunger”, and “we have got used to treating the poor as a set of worthless beings”.

Governments like large lumpy investments; infrastructure projects are visible, involve large sums of money, and makes it easy to siphons large commissions.. We live in a country that slashes duties on luxury vehicles but increases taxes on essential food items. A country which spends more than Rs.7.3 billion on the Presidential office, which is more than the subsidies on school text books, transportation, and nourishment for its 3 million students. A student recently asked in a essay “A developed country for a malnourished people - is this not insanity?” We need a people centred development philosophy. In peacetime, even the threat of future terrorism is more likely to diminish by political and socio-economic initiatives. Increased expenditure on education, health and Social Services for the poor and displaced will discourage the seeds of terror both in the North-East and the South.

Debt Trap : Financing Infrastructure Through Expensive Borrowing

Every year since 2005, the government has been planning to spend at least 40% more than they earn. Those are the budgets presented to parliament. Actually, the government has always spent at least 50% more than they earn Last year it spent 70% more than revenue.

Studying the trend in the past 5 years reveals that actual Recurrent Expenditure is always about 5% more than estimated, never less than the estimate. Actual Revenue is on average 10% less than the estimates, It is never more. Estimates can deviate from the actual randomly. But these estimates deviate in a very predictable way, and in a way that misleads parliament, and does not provide the right information for decision making.

Last year, the actual revenue was 22% less than what was given to parliament as the estimate. A budget debate must be based on some belief in the credibility of the numbers it entails. The debate becomes meaningless when the figures that are being debated can deviate so profoundly from the truth.

This year parliament has been asked to approve a budget where the government plans to spend 57% more than it earns. Going by past trends, the actual overspend is then likely to be at least 75% more than earnings. Is this sustainable spending behaviour? If any individual was spending this way, their family and friends would intervene to stop them, and banks would stop lending to them. If an institution was spending this way the auditors would declare it insolvent. Countries can't last long this way either. The behaviour is unsustainable, and designed to precipitate the government into a debt trap.

After 57 years of independence, the total accumulated debt burden of the government was 2.1 trillion. In the last 5 years, the present government has borrowed as much as all governments put-together borrowed in the last 55 years, and doubled the countries debt burden to 4.2 trillion.

The practice of borrowing so much and at commercial interest rates is very costly for the country. Half the tax revenue comes from Income tax (about 171 billion) and VAT/GST (about 138 billion). The total of that – 309 billion – is what the government now pays just to service the interest component of these borrowings.

The accounting treatment, also helps conceal the total debt. Pension obligations to government servants are debt obligation of the government. It is wrongly classified with welfare payments in government accounts. No government servant thinks his pension is a welfare payment like Samurdhi. Pensions are an entitlement based on their employment contracts. Last year, the government faced a pension bill of 93 billion. If we consider this as the interest payment on a debt obligation, which it effectively is, that implies an additional debt of over 1.2 trillion to past and present government employees to finance their future pensions.

Every year this keeps growing. The government promises salaries and higher pensions, which is a good thing, but it does not find the money to pay those bills. The government cannot go on like this without creating a crisis for the future. For the children who can't escape to foreign countries, there will be terrible consequences from this irresponsible management of finances.

Secret Privatisation and Misappropriation of Public Assets

This government’s declared policy is not to privatise government assets. Hon. Basil Rajapakse the Minister of Economic Development criticised a former government’s privatisation of the Buhari Hotel in Colombo which sold deliciously cooked Buriyani.

The government has constantly said it is against privatisation, But it is constantly engaged in secret privatisation. Some privatisations are the sale of intangible assets, such as licenses to operate radio, television channels, satellite broadcasting, mobile operations and broadband. In other countries including in India these licenses are sold through public auctions and fetch significant revenues.

In Sri Lanka these licenses are distributed secretly amongst government supporters, who in turn sell these to private companies and put public money in their pocket. Will the government declare the number of radio, TV, satellite, mobile operations and broadband licences issued since 2005? The fees recovered for each licence? If they do, we can tell you the value of the public property that has been stolen .

The 2010 budget has already partially been appropriated even before presentation to Parliament. The Government needs to work on a more transparent process as it prepares to present its 2011 budget in November. If not it will be another exercise in futility.

(Eran Wickramaratne, Member of Parliament and former CEO National Development Bank speaks on some aspects of the budget)

Crisis in the Maldives and its implications for the Sri Lankan 17th Constitutional Amendment

By Prof.G.L. Pieris

The Maldivian crisis is important for us from several points of view. It throws the spot light on the whole question of constitutional checks and balances, and how far those checks and balances should go

Checks and balances are necessary to ensure freedom. At the same time, there is the need for effective governance. We cannot have checks and balances reflected in a constitution to an extent that would seriously erode effective governance. That would produce a situation of gridlock and bring governance to a grinding halt. These competing values are of importance. Each is important.

It is not a case of preferring one to the other. It is rather a question of striking a practical balance between these competing postulates. In striking that balance, there is no universally applicable recipe. A balance has to be struck with regard to the circumstances of each case, the culture of the country for which the constitution is being made, historical antecedents, social attitudes - all of this would determine the way in which this balance should be struck.

Having these considerations in mind, it would be of immediate relevance to us in Sri Lanka to look at what is happening in the Maldives, and to understand how the Maldivian dilemma arose. The basic cause of the problem, is the fact that the opposition groups dominate the Maldivian parliament – the Majlis. In the Maldives you have the president belonging to one party and a parliament dominated by the opposition.

This is not totally unique in a presidential system. In western cultures, this happens often. In the USA, it is frequently the case that the occupant of the White house belongs to one party and the other party has a majority in Congress. France has had to deal with situations like that from time to time. In Sri Lanka too we have had experience of that situation under president Chandrika Kumaratunga, between December 2001 and April 2004.

However in the Maldives there are certain features which derive from a certain constitutional approach which can be identified as the cause of some of their problems. Some of these issues are directly relevant to the current debate on constitutional reform in our own country. The constitution of the Maldives contains several unusual characteristics. One of these is that the president when he nominates his cabinet is required to send the names of the cabinet ministers to parliament within a week.

And Parliament is required in terms of the Maldivian constitution, to approve each of those ministers. There are no such provisions in South Asian constitutions with the exception of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan as well, this provision has led to serious problems. In the Maldives the problem was aggravated due to the composition of parliament where the opposition commands the majority. The opposition insists on its right to virtually veto some of the appointments. Apart from that, the way in which the constitution is drafted and the basic values underpinning the constitution, necessarily lead to problems of a practical nature. It would have been surprising if that situation did not arise.

Constitutional gridlock

Today, there is general agreement in the Maldives, that their constitution in its present form is likely to lead to gridlock. The constitution of the Maldives recognizes in an explicit form, the doctrine relating to the separation of powers. The executive power is vested in the president, the legislative power in parliament and judicial power in the courts. One of the issues involved in the present crisis, has to do with the scope and dimensions of the legislative function. Recently, the opposition used its majority to amend the Finance Act of the Maldives in order to give parliament the power to review on a case by case basis all actions proposed by the president, with regard to the use of state assets.

The immediate reason for the present crisis was the refusal of parliament (Majlis) to give approval to a transaction involving the lease of the international airport. Each transaction proposed by the president had to receive the approval of parliament. Parliament in several cases refused to approve the transaction and in other cases, wanted to modify the transaction in a manner that was not acceptable to the president. Important pieces of legislation which the executive regarded as essential had been held up in parliament.

Another such example is the Taxation Bill. Maldives at this moment has no taxation at all. But in the interests of raising government revenue, the president decided that it would be useful and necessary to introduce taxation. For this purpose, a bill was drafted and presented. That has not been debated or passed by the Majlis. Then there was action taken by parliament to bring motions of no confidence against the ministers one after the other. Two ministers were specifically targeted. There was the issue of the sword of Damocles hanging over ministers of the Maldivian cabinet.

In these circumstances, the view of the executive branch of the government was that they were being prevented by parliament from carrying out the executive functions vested in them by the constitution of the Maldives. Parliament was on the other hand arguing that this was a necessary part of their oversight function – that they have a duty to assert their point of view, and to curtail and restrain executive power in a manner which they thought was in the interests of the Maldivian people. That is the gist of the conflict that has arisen in the Maldives between the executive and the legislature.

Another important aspect of the current controversy in the Maldives has to do with independent commissions. This is of particular relevance to Sri Lanka because of the current controversy revolving around the 17th amendment. Several Maldivian ministers have made the public complaint that in practice they are deprived of any real authority. One minister made the observation that even if he were to catch somebody red handed in his ministry committing a fraudulent or dishonest act, the minister is not immediately able to take action against that officer.

The minister does not have any real power he argues, to issue instructions to officials of the ministry, because real power resides in the commissions, such as the Public Service Commission and the Judicial Service Commission which are an integral part of the Maldivian constitution. So the minister also has to refer these matters to the commission. The commission carries out its own inquiry, uses its own discretion and makes its own decisions. The result is, as the case was put by members of the executive, ministers do not have the authority and clout to function effectively and this has brought about an atrophy of government.

Checks and balances

Of course you need checks and balances. This goes back to Montesquieu’s doctrine which he classically expounded in the famous work, The Sprit of the Laws. The gist of his argument was that the preservation of human liberty hinges on the separation of powers of the functions of the three branches of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. That is the doctrine on which the constitution of the USA is founded. In some political systems, the separation of the executive from the legislature is taken so far as to require that members of the legislature cannot sit in the cabinet.

The cabinet has to consist of persons who are outside the legislature. That is the opposite of the Westminster system which requires all ministers to sit in parliament. The essence of the British system is that ministers must sit in parliament to answer questions that are put to them in parliament and to take part in debates. That is the way the British system ensures that ministers are susceptible to pressure exerted on them by representatives of the people in parliament. The continental theory is the opposite of that. The Maldives follows the continental theory according to which members of the cabinet cannot be members of the legislature.

Each of the branches of government must have sufficient authority to carry out their functions. The particular relevance of this for Sri Lanka is in considering the role and purview of the commissions. How much power should they have and where do you draw the line with regard to the powers they exercise? Where does the power of the minister end, and the power of the commission begin? If the dividing line is blurred or is demarcated in a manner that makes effective government impossible, then you necessarily produce the result that is visible in the Maldives. This is why the issues with regard to the 17th Amendment also have to be considered very carefully. Nothing comparable to the 17th Amendment is to be found in any South Asian constitution. This is exclusively a Sri Lankan construct. It found its way into our constitution in 2001.

The 17th Amendment throws up several issues. One is the relationship between authority and responsibility which was one of the themes that dominated the thinking of the Donoughmore commissioners when they formulated the constitution of 1931. They acted on the premise that it is totally unacceptable and indeed dangerous to have responsibility without authority. When you take for example the provisions of the 17th Amendment with regard to the national police commission, you have a situation in which the country’s president and minister of defence will not have total control over the police force.

The president according to the Sri Lankan constitution is the head of state the head of government and the commander in chief of the armed forces. But if the 17th Amendment is fully operational, and the national police commission exercises all its powers, then you have a situation in which the president can give direct orders to the army and Navy but not to the police force. In the police force orders will have to come from the national police commission. Even with regard to transfers, promotions and disciplinary control, the minister in charge of the subject will not have control. At a time of turbulence, this can result in a breakdown of law and order. The member of the executive who is charged by the constitution of the country for upholding law and order, and ensuring public tranquility, will find himself thwarted in the exercise of those powers by the fact that the commissions are the repository of authority but the minister continues to have responsibility.

This will lead to problems even in the best of times. But in times of unrest, you will have a real crisis on your hands because law and order cannot be effectively maintained. These are the issues that were thrown up in a very clear form by the current developments in the Maldives. For us the value of that experience lies in looking at the manner in which a proper balance has to be struck between constitutional principles and values, all of which have validity but which have to operate comfortably with one another. There has to be a holistic approach. Are these elements working harmoniously with one another, or is a jarring note struck by too much emphasis on some elements resulting in the disregard of certain other elements? These are not abstract issues. The Maldivian experience shows how relevant they are to contemporary constitutional and political practice.

In a situation where in Sri Lanka we are looking at structures which although formally part of the constitution, have in practice broken down, and we are now looking at ways of finding some practical solutions to these problems, the whole question of checks and balances vs effective government, and the striking of a proper balance between these competing postulates are matters that should engage the minds of the public. The experience of the Maldives can give us some valuable insights into the dangers that are to be avoided in formulating the constitutional structures that are appropriate for Sri Lanka at this time.

Sri Lanka can seek advisory opinion from International Court of Justice about legality of UN panel

by Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe

I have been back at home to witness and read the media coverage regarding the appointment of an International panel by the Secretary General of the UN to advise himself on matters pertaining to the ending of a 30 year internecine armed conflict in a member State- Sri Lanka. These are some random thoughts that I do wish to express through your columns

At the very outset I am reminded of the fact that the panel appointed was not an internal panel drawn from within the Secretariat but is a panel where its members so appointed were drawn from outside it. Therefore this is not a part of any internal enquiry but an international enquiry which the Secretary – General had himself launched without any reference to the Security Council. In my understanding of the Charter Chapter VI and in particular Articles 33, 34 and other relevant Articles of that chapter require the authorization of the Security Council for the Secretary-General to cause an investigation into the internal affairs of a member State.

However, The Secretary-General states that the charter does not apply to the empanelling of a panel merely to advise him. That is quite obviously a matter that could be disputed as the panel was not appointed to advise on something outside the concerns mentioned in Articles 33 and 34 of the Charter, such as the prevailing weather patterns over Sri Lanka.

However, as the mandate of the panel so appointed was to render advice of a particular fact which is a concern of Article VI of the Charter, it somehow befuddles my own mind when I begin to imagine this International Panel rendering its advise without making any kind of investigation into internal affairs of a member state.

This is not to say, that His Excellency has no such power to have an international panel to make an investigative determination of affairs of a member State. But such power under the Charter, in both Chapters VI and VII, have been given to the holder of that high diplomatic office to exercise subject to obtaining prior authorization , by resolution, adopted by the Security Council.

This has indeed been the custom and tradition that the Secretaries- General have in the past followed. Professor Rosalyn Higgins who holds the chair in International Law at the University of London and a judge of the World Court with reference to international bodies remarked that “- - - to remain ‘Legal’ is not to ignore everything that are not ‘Rules’. .. I am not for one moment suggesting that His Excellency was unaware of these facts.

There has been a tradition built around the Secretaries –General that when there is a need to interfere with the internal affairs of a member State he would first seek the assent of the Security Council. As I do not wish to cause a metamorphosis of this writing into an Article for a Law school Review, I shall only refer to some of the very learned writings by such eminent jurists in this area as Eli. Lauterpacht , R.Y. Jennings and Roslyn Higgins for reference.

To support my point that the Secretaries – General have no power to investigate into the internal affairs of a member State without first obtaining the authorization of the Security Council, those authorities would perhaps suffice. In any event it seems to me to be far too basic and do not require further citations.

At this point in this writing all I intend to establish was that if the panel must necessarily engage in investigating into the internal affairs of a member State so as to formulate their Advise, then there must be a prior authorization obtained from the Security Council prior to mandating it. The issue is of course a matter of mixed law and fact which is suitable for a judicial determination.

At the same time, I have a difficulty in conceiving, that, according to the nature of the mandate given to the International Panel, how it could fulfill its task, without investigating into the internal affairs of a member State. Anything short of that step in my view might produce an advise based on very thin ice which I am almost certain that His Excellency might not wish to receive. That raises a conundrum calling for an answer.

This therefore leads to the solution that might properly be sought. In my view there is an urgent need to obtain an Advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice ( ICJ ) , seeking a determination as to whether it was within the power of the Secretary-General to appoint an advisory panel mandated as he has when appointing it.

There are a number of authorities that permit a member State to seek an Advisory opinion from the ICJ where matters arising out of the Charter are in question. The Secretary-General in law, is the Alter Ego of the United Nations. His Executive acts are the acts which are imputable to the United Nations considered as a Body corporate with a distinct legal personality under International Law.

However, there are a number of authorities that support the right of a member State to seek an advisory opinion from the I.C.J regarding the exercise of powers that arise out of the Charter. Those decisions of the I.C.J . primarily deals with establishing the aforementioned legal personality of the U.N.

The three landmark decisions of the ICJ are: (1) Obtaining of an Advisory opinion on the Convention on the Privileges and immunities of the U.N in 1946; (2) Obtaining an Advisory opinion On Reparation for Injuries suffered in the service of the United Nations, [1949 I.C.J.Rep. at page 185]. and (3) the United Nations Head Quarters Agreement Case [ 1988 I.C.J. Rep. 3 ] are some of the landmark decisions that support my aforementioned view that member States in matters such as the ones mentioned here have a right to seek an Advisory opinion from the I.C. J. These decisions have received copious comments in the books on International Law.

It might therefore be suggested that an Advisory Opinion be sought from the ICJ seeking a ruling as to whether His Excellency, the Secretary –General was acting within his powers when he appointed, without prior authorization from the Security Council, an International panel to advise him on matters which may impinge upon the internal affairs of a member State.

Additionally, may I also add that upon making such an application to the I.C.J. seeking an advisory opinion the ICJ may be moved to order a halt to the work of the international panel in question, pending the opinion of that court. That may be a most effective way for determining the legality of the appointment of the panel in question.

May I add that these are my random thoughts. I do know that there are wiser counsel who may or may not support my approach to seeking a purely legal solution. I am unable to suggest a political solution to what I conceive as a matter raising an interesting point of International Law.

(Dr.Marasinghe is Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada)

Sri Lanka has grounds to challenge Ban-Ki-moon over legitimacy of UN panel

by Neville Laduuwahetty

The UN Secretary General (SG) has maintained that:

(1) he has the authority to seek advice on issues that are of concern to the UN. Under this authority he has appointed an expert panel to advice him on criteria that should be met to establish accountability in regard to alleged humanitarian and human rights violations during the final stages of the conflict; and

(2) the accountability process is in keeping with the joint statement signed by him and the President of Sri Lanka on May 23, 2009.

The authority under which the SG functions is specified in the UN Charter.

Article 100 Clause 1 states:

1. "In the performance of their duties the Secretary General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization".

2. "Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities".

Accordingly, the SG has to satisfy two conditions. First, he shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or any other authority external to the organization. Second, he has to maintain the "exclusively international character" in his dealings.

During a monthly press conference at UN Headquarters in New York in March 2010, the SG stated: "The panel I am establishing will advice me on the standards, benchmarks and parameters, based on international experience, that must guide any accountability process such as the one mentioned in the joint statement. Now this panel will report to me directly and not to another body"(UN News Center, March 16, 2010). Although the intent of the SG is to seek "advice" from the panel, the form and substance of that "advice" could be so specific that it could for all intents and purposes be an "instruction" to guide the accountability process. This specificity would be tantamount to ‘seeking and receiving instructions’ . Therefore, the panel appointed to undertake such a task should NOT be "external to the organization".

The panelists therefore need to be "responsible only to the Organization". If they are affiliated with the UN in one form or another, but not "international officials responsible only to the Organization" as required by Article 100 Clause 1 of the UN Charter, would they (by not being a part of the SG’s staff) be in a position to maintain the "exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General"? This "exclusively international character" cannot be maintained by "staff" who are temporarily engaged by the UN for specific assignments, as for example in this instance, because their "responsibility" to the UN ceases upon termination of the assignment or the contract. This is not the case with permanent UN staff. Their commitment to the Organization would remain.

Under the circumstances, there are grounds for the legitimacy of the panel appointed by the SG to be challenged because it violates provisions of the UN Charter.

The only reference to an "accountability process" is in the last paragraph of the joint statement which states: "Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary-General underlines the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances".

It is evident from the foregoing that it is the responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka to "take measures" to undertake accountability processes and not for the SG. The concept of a panel to advice the SG emerged after the joint statement was signed. Tasking such a panel to establish "standards, benchmarks and parameters" that should guide the accountability process independent of the panel appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka is an intervention on a process that is strictly domestic. There is no mention in the joint statement that the accountability process would meet criteria set by the SG. If the SG was forthright at the time the statement was signed and had indicated that the Government had to meet criteria set by him and the UN, it is unlikely that a joint statement would have resulted, since no government would commit to meeting such unspecified criteria.

Furthermore, the SG’s notion that the accountability process should meet criteria established by an authority set up by the UN is in direct violation of Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter regarding intervention. This Article states: "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter…". The attempt by the SG should therefore be interpreted as nothing but direct intervention concerning an issue that is strictly within the domestic jurisdiction of a state.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the steps initiated by the SG were taken subsequent to signing the joint statement. There was no indication at the time of signing the joint statement that the SG was going to appoint a panel of experts to establish guidelines for judging the accountability process. By doing so now, the SG has violated the spirit of a joint statement and in the process has brought discredit to the office of the SG.

In addition, the measures adopted by the SG violate provisions of the UN Charter firstly in respect of Article 100 that governs the performance of his duties and secondly, in respect of Article 2 (7) regarding intervention in areas of domestic jurisdiction.

Therefore, there are grounds for the Government of Sri Lanka to challenge the actions of the SG regarding the legitimacy of a panel of experts to develop guidelines, and to expect a member state to comply by standards set by such a panel, because it is tantamount to intervention in issues that are strictly domestic.

Ex-LTTE cadres get on the -job training at different factories of Tri-Star Garments

by Hiranthi Fernando

In the large air-conditioned production hall of the Tri Star garment factory, 100 girls from the Poonthotam and Pompemadu rehabilitation camps are getting on-the-job training on the assembly line, manufacturing baby wear. Most of them speak only Tamil, so translators are available to facilitate communication.

Chitradevi from Kilinochchi, is just 20 years old. She has studied up to the Ordinary Level but not sat the exam. She knows a smattering of English. Her parents are in Kilinochchi with her two younger brothers and sister. Chitradevi who came to the factory on June 1, says she is happier here than in Kilinochchi and likes the work.

For 150 ex-LTTE female combatants from the rehabilitation camps of Poonthotam and Pompemadu, this is a whole new life. They are now gainfully employed in two Tri Star garment factories in Ratmalana in the first stage of a programme designed to provide employment to a total of 1200 such girls from the two camps, says Chairman of Tri Star Apparel Exports (Pte.) Ltd Deshabandu Kumar Devapura. A hundred girls are working at the main factory in Ratmalana, while fifty are at the Kandawala factory.

“We provide them with up to date hostel facilities, meals, transport to and from the factory and medical facilities,” Mr. Devapura said. They are given free industrial training, from cutting to finishing and paid a salary of Rs. 10,000 per month during the training period, which will be increased after training. “They need to develop their skill and efficiency,” he added.

“We manufacture top labels like Marks & Spencer and Debenham and we have to maintain quality.”Initially, he said they set up a training centre at the camp with 50 machines, giving the rehabilitees an opportunity of developing skills. Those who were interested were offered work in the factories. “We found a few of the girls were educated,” he said.

“Those who have had some education are training as accountants or merchandisers, while the others are trained as machine operators. The girls will be given a certificate in six months, depending on their skills. This would help them to work in factories of their choice even abroad.

Vijay Lalitha, from Mullaithivu is 25. She has a younger brother and sister still schooling. She likes the job and says the hostel facilities and the food they get are good. Twenty-three-year-old Dharshini comes from Kanakarayankulam in the Vanni. Her parents and elder brother live in the Wanni. She too says it is better for them here than at home.

Sitalakshmi, 30, from Sittamparapura in Vavuniya is one of the few who can speak Sinhala. Her parents are dead - “My mother died in 2003 and I don’t know when my father was killed.” She has only a sister and brother-in-law. “We are happy now not like before,” she says. Having studied up to Grade Five she is grateful for the training. “Here we have all the facilities of training and the opportunity of a decent future.”

According to Mr. Devapura, the girls have been issued their release letters and ID cards by the Director General Rehabilitation, Brigadier S. Ranasinghe. The Secretary Defence has given his approval for the programme. Two teachers have been engaged to teach English and Sinhala to the girls.

“The others should learn Tamil too, so that they can all communicate with each other,” he added. Speaking of the programme, he said 400 more girls were recruited on June 25 to be trained and employed in factories in Dambadeniya, Alawwa and Giriulla, known collectively as the Dambadeniya Tri Star Apparel Village. Hostel facilities are provided at Malwatte, including meals and transport.

In the third stage of the project, 200 girls will be absorbed into the Trincomalee plant in Thambalagamuwa, 200 to three factories in Nikaweratiya, Yapahuwa and Polpitigama in the Kurunegala district and 200 to factories in the Southern Province.

Providing accommodation to so many girls was not easy. Apart from the building, they had to purchase beds, pillows, linen and all other necessary furniture and equipment for the hostels. “We sent out 56 letters to embassies, and NGOs, requesting contributions towards the shelter, but no one came forward. We didn’t even receive a reply from most of them. Anyway, with God’s blessing, we somehow did it,” Mr. Devapura says. He is grateful to Minister Rehabilitation Dew Gunasekera and Permanent Secretary A. Dissanayake who have agreed to give some financial assistance for the needs of the hostel.

“If we don’t do this,” Mr. Devapura commented, “the terrorist problem may come up again. When bombs go off in the country, visitors don’t come and our orders get affected. “We are grateful to the government for finally putting an end to the problem. It is time for us to get together and help develop those areas without taxing the government.”

India will back Tamil consensus calling for implementation of existing constitutional provisions

By Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

There are new trends in Tamil politics and a quickening of activity in Tamil political society. The Tamil Political Parties Forum is one manifestation while the visit of the TNA to India is another.

The Tamil Parties Forum, an initiative of EPDP leader Douglas Devananda has succeeded in drawing together most of the old EPRLF and much of the ex-Eelam Left, with a few prominent civil society activists and the odd ultranationalist thrown in.

Its very existence is a quasi-miracle, given the fissiparous character of Tamil politics. The second type of activity has been the TNA’s interaction with the Government of India. There are efforts to call a meeting in Colombo or overseas of both tendencies, the TPF and the TNA. A successful ingathering too would be akin to a miracle, given the sectarianism that abounds.

What has brought about these centripetal efforts, reversing the twin phenomena of anarchic sectarianism and vicious monopoly that consumed Tamil politics and politicians for decades? Firstly the pressure from the Tamil people, as distinct from the Tamil Diaspora. The Tamil Diaspora derides these efforts that water down the commitment to self determination. The Tamil people of the North and East do not share this view or have different existential priorities, pushing several Tamil parties to get together.

This stems from the Tamil community’s collective sense of apprehension or perception of threat. The second factor making for convergence seems to be India. The Tamil parties having taken their case to India seem to have been informed that in the absence of a Tamil consensus, Delhi is unable to intercede. We may surmise that this has been an incentive in the tentative intra-Tamil dialogue.

The most reliable report of the TNA’s visit to Delhi is that of veteran journalist and Colombo hand Venkat Narayan who reports, significantly, that India has told the TNA that this is not the 1970s or 1980s, and that the TNA had better move on, engage with President Rajapaksa and that Delhi would help as best as it can in this regard.

The problem is that the TNA may not have got the message or all of it. Some elements still refuse to enter into a consensus building process with Douglas Devananda alleging that he does not accept the right of self determination and is also a member of the government. Now I am not privy to whether my old comrade and friend Douglas accepts the right of self-determination (and if so, with what qualifications if any) or has abandoned it, but I do know that he is smart enough a politician to understand that it is more than a non-starter – it is a conversation killer — as a slogan with the Government of Sri Lanka, under this or any conceivable administration and leadership.

As Delhi reminded the TNA, this is not the 1980s. There is no going back to the Thimpu Principles. Nobody is going to Thimpu either. As for Douglas being a member of the Government, what is the logic of the TNA wishing to talk to the Government of Sri Lanka but not wishing to enter a process with a Tamil member of that government? If it is on the basis of being sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils, that won’t fly either because the Tamil voters have shown that there is political space enough for at least two representative formations.

The demands and grievances that the TNA has presented in Delhi also shows that those politicians haven’t still caught up with the Tamil situation in the 21st century. No Sri Lankan administration is going to withdraw troops from the North and East. This is more so when we refer to areas which sustained a secessionist war for decades, and a part of the citizenry which supported and endorsed the hegemony of the most fascist of the Tamil nationalist armed alternatives in play. The Union armies stayed in the ex-secessionist southern states of the US for twelve years after the victory in the Civil War, while the Russian troops stayed for ten in Chechnya.

US troops have remained for decades in Germany and Japan, having gone in to defeat Hitler. The Sri Lankan forces are there to stay in the North and East. They will and must be a sufficiently strong permanent presence, pre-empting secessionist insurgency and safeguarding the island’s outermost ‘buffer province’ beyond which lies Tamil Nadu with its pro-secessionist groups.

While that is not up for negotiation, what is justifiably negotiable is the issue of demographic alteration due to the building of permanent housing for soldiers deployed in the North and East instead of being rotated back to their homes in the South. The role, function, deployment and visibility of those troops should also be the subject of negotiation with the democratically elected representatives of those areas.

Even more amazing is the report that the 13th amendment loomed large in the TNA’s Delhi discussions or in Delhi’s discussions with the TNA, but the latter was of the view that the 13th amendment was problematic within a unitary state form. The absurdity of that is the fact that the 13th amendment was precisely within a unitary framework and if that was good enough for Shri Rajiv Gandhi and his top negotiators, and it must be added, for Mr Amirthalingam at that time, it should be good enough for the TNA today.

A respected commentator T Sabaratnam, chronicler of Mr Amirthalingam’s life and career, recounted last week how Shrimati Indira Gandhi told the TULF to eschew separatism and get back to federalism, and that the Government of India would secure autonomy for the Tamils. He says that the TULF has done that now. If that is an attempt at humour it is a poor one. If the Tamil nationalist parliamentarians wanted federalism they should have endorsed Chandrika’s ‘union of regions’ package of 1995, but they didn’t. Now it is far too little a change and far too late. There are no Sinhala takers; not even on the far horizon.

The trouble with the TNA is that Delhi and their own Tamil voters are not the only voices they are listening to. There is the Tamil Diaspora, the ideologically dominant stream of which considers Delhi as part of the problem, not the solution. They do not want Delhi to mediate between the Tamils and the Sinhalese or Jaffna and Colombo; they want Delhi to come down on the Tamil side and carve out a separate state for them or join a Western led concert in punishing the Sri Lankan state. This Delhi didn’t do in the 1980s and just won’t do now with Colombo having a Beijing string to its bow. The TNA also hears the voices of the LTTE’s ghosts and their own ambitions.

So the TNA has an existential choice. It can continue to live the Diaspora’s delusion of self determination supported and secured by the West, or its own home grown fantasy of federalism. If so it can dwell forever as a symbolic entity and agency of agit-prop. Or it can heed the letter and spirit of what Delhi has counselled.

With last week’s fiasco of ‘the fastest fast’ in Asia, Colombo is slowly beginning to learn that Delhi is the critical and indispensable variable in its external relations. The Tamils are divided between those who understand that Tamil destiny cannot move outside the parametric constraints of what Delhi chooses to do, and those who think that Tamil destiny can be made by the West. They have to figure out that having lost a war so utterly, and having supported a militia that lost a war so utterly, the only real card they have is what Delhi secured for them in 1987 and is willing and able to secure for them now.

The only thing that Delhi has the soft power, including the moral right, to urge Colombo to do, is to activate the existing provisions of the Sri Lankan Constitution making for provincial autonomy, which was also an undertaking given at the highest level in bilateral talks. That is also the least fraught (because it does not require Constitutional changes) and contentious (it has the widest public acceptability). It is also the moderate demand that Colombo cannot be seen to reject out of hand.

Sinhala ultranationalists may object that the Accord and the 13th amendment were results of Indian coercive power and therefore unacceptable, but that is analogous to the Tamil ultranationalists refusing to accept the reality of the results of the war because it was an ‘imposition by the Sinhala army’. Historical reality must be recognised.

The State won the war decisively. However it did not win a war against the IPKF, though it did secure its withdrawal. The state also fought and won a war against the anti-devolution Southern insurgency. The sum total of these historical outcomes is that the Tamils cannot expect either self determination or federalism and the Sinhalese cannot expect to roll back, default on or dilute provincial autonomy.

The Southern ultra-nationalists also argue that provincial autonomy was meant as an incentive or trap for the Tamil Tigers, which failed and is in any case rendered irrelevant by the outright military victory. This of course is a distortion of fact. The idea of federalism or regional autonomy was proposed by Bandaranaike in 1925-6, the Ceylon Communist Party in 1944-60, and in the Bandaranaike –Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957, not as sop to the as yet unborn or infant Prabhakaran but as a method of inter-communal reconciliation and nation building in a multiethnic context. That problem still remains and therefore the solutions retain validity.

Tamil nationalism must recognise that certain ‘red lines’ are not drawn by the current Sinhala nationalist administration alone, while some are. The very long term ‘grand strategic’ red lines are that there will be no Sri Lankan troop withdrawal from the North and East; and no self determination, re-merger or ethno-federalism. Meanwhile the ‘red line’ that Colombo has to recognise is that Delhi will not permit a unilateral roll back of the results of 1987-8, already modified by de-merger.

What of the Tamil Diaspora strategy, that holding out for a solution based on self determination will work, because the current dispensation will be eroded by Western led international pressure, and therefore there is no urgent need to arrive at a pragmatic Tamil consensus and settle for something less, right now?

Firstly, this underestimates the irreversible demographic changes on the ground, that may have been effected as the months and years go by. The only counterweight to such changes would be a legitimately functioning provincial council.

Secondly it omits a lesson of political history and the defeat of the Tigers. Just as the Sinhala electorate threw up an administration capable of winning the war, it will eventually elect one capable of winning the peace, safeguarding the unitary state while prevailing in the international arena.

Therefore a Tamil consensus, embracing the Tamil Political Parties forum and the TNA, calling for the implementation of the existing provisions of the Constitution, is a call that can be backed by Delhi, and will prove irresistible for Colombo in the current climate of worsening relations with the West and the imperative of obtaining Indian, SAARC, Asian and NAM support.

Implementing such a deal is Colombo’s best chance of getting India solidly on board in the coming diplomatic confrontations.

Having an intermediate structure elected by the local populace and positioned between itself and the local populace, provides the Sri Lankan security forces with a social shock absorber and vital adjunct in preventive counter-insurgency.

It is a win-win scenario, but will the Tamil and Sinhala ultranationalists blow it, as they always have?

July 12, 2010

Murali: Six great milestones in cricket career

by Imran Coomaraswamy

Earlier this year, a 60-strong panel of experts took part in a poll to select Cricinfo’s Cricketer of the 2000s. Ricky Ponting’s list of accomplishments as leader of the dominant Test and ODI team of the era justifiably earned him the top spot.

If separate prizes were awarded for each of the game’s formats, however, I would have given the trophy for champion Test cricketer to Muttiah Muralitharan. The “Milestone Man” took one and a half times as many wickets as Makhaya Ntini, the next highest wicket-taker in the Noughties, at a McGrath-like average and Waqar-esque strike rate. As Cricinfo pointed out, he remains top of the pile even if “cheap” wickets taken against Zimbabwe* and Bangladesh are excluded. His astonishing 20 ten-wicket hauls in 84 matches include at least one against every Test-playing nation. He won more Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series awards than any other player and propelled Sri Lanka from close to the bottom of the Test rankings to within a series win of top spot. What’s more, he achieved all this in the “Age of the Bat.” If 55 is the new 50 as far as batting averages are concerned, just how good is a bowling average of 23.48 against the top eight teams? To my mind, Murali was the decade’s greatest match-winner by some distance, as well as its “greatest joy-giver.”

Murali does not play for one of the three nations – India, England and Australia – that dominate cricket’s money-making and its mass media. He has not had the advantage of the stage provided by a “marquee series” like the Ashes or India-Australia to help him grab the world’s attention. In fact, he has never even been afforded a five Test series in which to showcase his mastery: the majority of Sri Lanka’s series since 2000 have been just two Tests long, and none in their history more than three. As such, his moments of magic – just as important as statistics and records when it comes to achieving sporting immortality – perhaps do not get as much attention as they should.

Described below are the six moments that I believe were “Murali’s Greatest Hits of the Noughties.” On all these occasions – three at home and three away, each against a different opponent – Murali took ten wickets, won a Man-of-the-Match/Series award and ensured Sri Lanka emerged victorious.

Murali does not play for one of the three nations – India, England and Australia – that dominate cricket’s money-making and its mass media. He has not had the advantage of the stage provided by a “marquee series” like the Ashes or India-Australia to help him grab the world’s attention. In fact, he has never even been afforded a five Test series in which to showcase his mastery: the majority of Sri Lanka’s series since 2000 have been just two Tests long, and none in their history more than three. As such, his moments of magic – just as important as statistics and records when it comes to achieving sporting immortality – perhaps do not get as much attention as they should.

Described below are the six moments that I believe were “Murali’s Greatest Hits of the Noughties.” On all these occasions – three at home and three away, each against a different opponent – Murali took ten wickets, won a Man-of-the-Match/Series award and ensured Sri Lanka emerged victorious.

Two in two in the twilight: 10 for 148 v Pakistan, Peshawar, 2000

One over of play left on the fourth day at Peshawar and a low-scoring match was delicately poised. A fiery Shoaib Akhtar had restricted Sri Lanka to 268 in their first innings and Pakistan had then slipped from 137 for 2 to 199 all out, with Murali the wrecker-in-chief. Thanks to Russell Arnold’s battling 99, Sri Lanka had set Pakistan a stiff victory target of 294, but at 220 for 6, the home side were very much in the game. Saeed Anwar was back at the crease after retiring hurt earlier in the innings and alongside him was Mohammad Yousuf (then Yousuf Youhana), who had counterattacked brilliantly, smashing three sixes and eight fours on his way to 88.

Enter Murali. Flighting the ball invitingly and generating massive turn off a slowing wicket, he trapped Yousuf leg before, before getting Waqar Younis to prod the very next ball to silly point. It took Sri Lanka just ten balls to finish off proceedings the next morning. Murali missed out on a hat-trick but did pick up the last wicket, sealing the match and the series.

Bat first, bat big, and let Murali do the rest: 13 for 171 v South Africa, Galle, 2000

Sri Lanka have won 31 of 53 home Tests since the turn of the millennium. In most of those matches, they have relied on a simple formula: bat first, bat big, and let Murali do the rest. This plan has never worked better than in the first Test against Shaun Pollock’s South Africa in 2000. A trademark onslaught from Sanath Jayasuriya and a big hundred from Mahela Jayawardene took Sri Lanka to 522 all out. Spectators watched from the ramparts of the Galle Fort as Sri Lanka then employed their siege engine. Two days later, Murali had taken 13 for 171 from 76 overs and the tourists had been bowled out twice. Jayasuriya summed things up nicely: “Murali bowled very well and everything else just fell into place.”

These days captains often turn down the chance to enforce the follow on as they are worried about tiring out their bowlers. Sri Lankan captains have had no such worries, even when temperatures on the island exceeded 35 degrees celsius. A spinner he may be, but Murali’s stamina – both physical and mental – is pretty much unprecedented.

Four in four: 10 for 135 v West Indies, Kandy, 2001

For most bowlers, a ten-for is a career-defining moment. Murali, on the other hand, has dealt in multiples of ten. At Kandy in 2001, he completed his fourth consecutive ten-wicket haul. Many people remember this particular tour as “Brian Lara v Sri Lanka,” as Lara scored 688 runs in six innings and yet failed to stop Sri Lanka winning 3-0. In this, the decisive second Test, Lara fell to Murali in the first innings and an umpiring blunder in the second. Life after Brian was not pleasant for the visitors. Murali took 4 for 9 in 14 balls to clinch Sri Lanka’s first ever series win over the West Indies.

A duel won and a devastating dose of déjà vu: 11 for 132 v England, Trent Bridge, 2006

Kevin Pietersen took the attack to Murali at Lord’s in 2006, famously switch-hitting him for six on the way to a superb century. Pietersen scored another crucial ton as England went 1-0 up at Edgbaston, though Murali gave the home side plenty of jitters as they chased down a small fourth innings target.

At Trent Bridge, Sri Lanka’s batsmen finally produced decent showings in both innings and set England 325 to win. Murali had taken already taken the first three wickets to fall when he ripped the heart out of England’s resistance in one sublime over. First, he won his personal duel with Pietersen, foxing him with a topspinner as he tried to charge down the track; KP found himself in quite a tangle and the ball bobbled up off pad and glove to Tillakaratne Dilshan at short leg. Next up was England’s acting captain Andrew Flintoff, who lasted just four balls. Murali ripped a doosra past the outside edge of the bat before tossing up an off-break that found the inside edge and lobbed straight to Dilshan once again.

Thereafter, the only question was whether Murali could take all ten wickets in the innings. In the end, he had to make do with 8 for 70, still the best ever figures at Trent Bridge. For England, it was a case of déjà vu. Their second loss to Sri Lanka on home soil had come in a similar manner to the first (at the Oval in 1998), courtesy of a Murali masterclass.

Filling his boots in Wellington: 10 for 118 v New Zealand, Wellington, 2006

Sri Lanka’s batsmen had struggled on a green-top in Christchurch but coped much better with similar seamer-friendly conditions at Basin Reserve. Kumar Sangakkara scored an unbeaten 150 in their first innings before Chamara Silva repeated the feat in their second. In between, Lasith Malinga terrorised the Kiwis with a lethal mixture of bouncers and yorkers. By the third and fourth days, however, the pitch had slowed down, leaving it up to Murali to finish the job. That he did, and in some style. His 6 for 87 levelled the series and completed an incredible sequence of performances in the second half of 2006. He had taken 60 wickets in six matches, all against major opposition (England away, South Africa at home, New Zealand away), including another set of four consecutive ten-fors.

Bamboozling the best: 11 for 110 v India, Sinhalese Sports Club, 2008

In the last 30 years, few spinners have genuinely troubled India’s batsmen, with the likes of Warne, Qadir, MacGill and Vettori all conceding around 50 runs per wicket against them. Murali has had to bowl more than 1100 overs at Indian batsmen in his career, 30% more than anyone else in history (60% more than Warne), and has averaged a very respectable 33.34. One of his very best spells came in a defeat at the Feroz Shah Kotla in 2005. His 5 for 23 on the second morning included the wickets of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dhoni (to go with those of Dravid and Laxman, collected the previous day) and he single-handedly brought Sri Lanka back into that game. However, Sri Lanka failed to capitalise on Murali’s first innings heroics, just as they had done against Australia at Galle a year earlier.

At the S.S.C. in 2008, things were different, as Murali had top quality support** in the form of “mystery spinner” Ajantha Mendis. Far from feeling threatened by the hype surrounding Mendis’ debut, Murali rose to the occasion magnificently. When India followed on, they promoted Laxman to number three, no doubt hoping for a repeat of Eden Gardens in 2001. Murali had other ideas. He followed up his five-for in the first innings with a magical 6 for 26 in the second. Perhaps the sweetest moment was the dismissal of Gautam Gambhir, who was stumped smartly by Prasanna Jayawardene when a fizzing off-break dipped late and darted past his attempted off-drive. India lost by the mammoth margin of an innings and 239 runs. While his apprentice stole the show later in the series, Murali had certainly made his mark.

* It is debatable whether the wickets Murali took against a Flower-powered Zimbabwe pre 2003 were really any cheaper than those harvested by Warne and McGrath in a succession of one-sided Ashes contests. It’s seldom mentioned that Murali has bagged 112 wickets in just 16 matches against England – seven per Test – while no other bowler has managed even six per Test against them over more than a couple of series. Had Murali been given the chance to take part in a biennial England bonanza, he might well have passed the 900-wicket mark by now…..

** It is unlikely that Murali would have bagged so many ten-fors if he had had to queue up to bowl after Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner. On the other hand, who is to say he would not have been even more prolific had he lined up alongside Glenn McGrath and a solid support cast that helped pile the pressure on opposition batsmen?

After all, Murali’s two purplest patches coincided with Chaminda Vaas’ most successful year (2001) and Lasith Malinga’s most potent period in Tests (2006).

Courtesy:Cricinfo.com

Murali: A Legend of Cricket Retires

by S.Skandakumar

When that great bard, William Shakespeare wrote the lines, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”, he could not have envisaged an off spinning genius from Sri Lanka entering that arena almost four and a half centuries later .

As the curtain comes down on a truly memorable theatrical which has held the undivided attention of the cricketing world for almost two decades, that spinning genius will soon take his final bow before a world audience that will rise as one, to repeated encores . In a career studded with intrigue, challenges, and phenomenal achievements, Muthiah Muralitharan, will shortly leave the Test arena with life’s most precious assets, Humility and Integrity, securely intact.

In 1991, when a shy young schoolboy from St Anthony’s College, Katugastota entered the playing field of Sri Lanka ’s finest cricket venue, the Colombo Oval, to pursue a professional career , the talent was plain to see. So it came as no surprise when he caught the eye of the Cricket Board’s spinners coach then, that amiable Australian Bruce Yardley, when he wheeled down nearly 50 overs for as many runs taking 7 wickets against Hugh Morris’ visiting England A team the same year.

‘That guy is going to rock world cricket before long’ were Bruce’s prophetic words as we reflected on the match over a pint of beer. In the ensuing years Murali did more than that as he set out to put the nation’s cricket squarely on the world map, along with his ever loyal skipper Arjuna, team mates Aravinda Sanath, Mahanama,Tillekeratne, Vaas, Gurusinghe, Kaluwitarana , Dharmasena, and Pramodya in particular, the warriors who brought home the prestigious world cup in 1996.

In August 1998, in the traditional one off test that the English Cricket Board was accustomed to grudgingly grant Sri Lanka in those days, Sanath’s batting heroics and Murali’s spinning wizardry brought our nation her first ever test match win on England’s soil, appropriately on their own Oval ; a match that will be remembered for a sensational collapse of the hosts on the final day. With both sides crossing 400 runs in their first innings one could not have blamed the pundits for predicting a certain draw at the end of the fourth day’s play.

John Crawley’s wicket on the stroke of lunch on the final day and Darren Gough’s dismissal, bowled round his legs to seal victory, sent ripples through the media that the maestro had produced yet another variation to his spinning repertoire as he finished with 16 wickets in that historic win. Murali’s triumphant return to the Island led to celebrations at his cricketing home the Tamil Union, where he was felicitated for securing 200 test wickets. Even before the champagne glasses could dry, Murali was on to 300, then 400, 500….a speed that led to envy and deplorable efforts to distract and downgrade his achievements. Instead they only succeeded in strengthening the genius’ mental resolve as he added another 592 wickets in the years following that initial felicitation in1998.

In his manager Kushil Gunasekera, he found the all perfect gentleman who recounts with humour that in their 8 year relationship, he has often been left to wonder as to who was managing whom !! The Foundation of Goodness, a truly humanitarian project that Murali and Kushil initiated post -tsunami, has attracted some of the finest names in the sporting world as partners and co- sponsors .When Murali focused on his target for those rendered homeless by that tragedy at 1000, an astonished Kushil inquired if he was talking about his tally of wickets !!. The final count to that commitment was 1024 houses and Murali achieved what he set out to do, a reflection of his greatness.

The encores will reverberate long after the curtain has descended as the cricketing world continues to recall the life and achievements of a cricketing icon and a remarkable human being who never lost the common touch nor the precious values of his upbringing.

Thank You My Friend, and Bless You, …. a fresh challenge now awaits you in the rebuilding of our beautiful nation , and the reconciliation of its wonderful people.

(S.Skandakumar, is a Former Hony Secretary, Sri Lanka Cricket )

Muttiah Muralitharan: Cricketing hero and national icon

By Prasad Gunewardene

This tribute is paid to man who readily accepted and embraced the national bosom to be loved by all communities in his country. I have never met nor associated this young man.

MMTC712.jpg

Thrilled after the magical spin. File photo

But, I have studied his elegance of the game he played, that had a sequence to his achievements to become a world figure. Therefore, I thought to pen this deserving tribute to this man who became a folk hero and a national icon in this country, once tragically flawed by a self induced communal division. He belongs to a special niche in the social firmament. This man with a mellifluous smile is world’s ace spin bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan.

This tribute will not speak much about his glorious achievements on the field. It will recognize the virtual legacy he leaves behind from a long innings he played for his country that brought glory. Muralitharan displayed to all, the true meaning of being identified as a Sri Lankan. That virtue bestowed him with a chapter not only in the cricketing annals of this country, but also in the contemporary social-cultural saga.

Muralitharan the bowler with much wisdom was named one of the Best Five Test cricketers by Wisden, the Bible of Cricket, at the age of 27. Just two years away from the fourth decade of his life, Muralitharan has decided to hang his boots though he has enough stamina to bowl a few more hundred overs to achieve that remarkable mark of claiming 1,000 test wickets. That shows this man is in no hunger or greed for records.

A product of St Anthony’s College, Kandy, Muralitharan is very much an outstanding figure of our times. His entry into the national level of the game signaled the advent of a new rebellious generation impatient to accept challenges on the field. By the time he entered the game at national level, the monopoly of the old established schools like Royal, S Thomas’, Trinity, St Peter’s and St Joseph’s had already been challenged with lesser known schools emerging with talent. The entry of former Sri Lanka skipper, Sanath Jayasuriya from St Servatius College, Matara, could be cited as the beginning of that process. Thus, the elitist hold was irremediably broken.

Muralitharan hailing from Indian origin Tamil background emerged into cricket from a comfortable middle class family. Therefore, he had the good fortune of playing the game quite comfortably on the field. He felt a little uncomfortable when he was targeted time and again by the ‘white cobbler’ breed.

He faced criticism from that breed at regular intervals which habitually looked down upon the coloured skin. But, a steady Muralitharan stormed such citadels and bastions of the established ‘white order’ of the game, known to be ‘god fathers’ of the oiled willow and the red leathered ball.

The callous attitude of the ‘white cobbler’ breed helped Muralitharan to become an emblem of the oppressed class in the Third World. Virulent attacks launched at the level of Prime Ministers of that breed, proved to the world that here was a man from a minority class in the Third World ready to accept challenges from the established old imperial hegemony imposed from historical times on the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Let me write here for record and future reference that Australia, itself a British colony was in the vanguard of slings and arrows aimed at this Sri Lankan spin bowler who was a challenge to Aussie spinner, Shane Warne. Muralitharan fearlessly faced all such illiberal instincts that demonstrated deep seated feelings and animosity against the coloured people from time immemorial.

Why did the British introduce cricket to its own ‘white’ colonies? The paradox was an attempt to civilize those heathen tribes who were beyond the law. Muralitharan’s patience and braveness proved to the ‘white breed’ that he came from a nation which had a proud civilized history that spanned over 2500 years. This world class spinner was aware that the moment a coloured man was in a position to outdo the white - bells, telephones, books, candles or any implement at their command would be thrown at him, contrary to the liberal democratic inhibitions, the whites preached as a daily prayer to the coloured people.

This demonic bowler, who shook the ‘white order’ and took the whole world by surprise, struggled to overcome his congenital turn of the wrist. The ‘white cobbler’ breed attempted to crucify him for that natural physical cause. The mealy-mouthed white gods of the game, time and again, miserably failed in such attempts. Stepping from success to greater success, Muralitharan displayed to the white breed that laurels and plaudits were not meant to be worn on the forehead, as rampantly seen in the West.

Muralitharan was a unifier on and off the field. He is a good example for all our Tamil political leaders. The ace spinner played a very long innings with a team as a member from a minority. He calmly faced all slings and arrows aimed at him from the ‘white cricket’ order. He forged unity waging a long struggle against the western hegemony of all types. He took victory and defeat in stride.Muralitharan has his heart in the right place. That is the true and authentic patriotism needed at this hour, when our nation has once again come under pressure from ‘white merchants’ of the world’s political black market.

Thank you for the colourful glorious innings for Sri Lanka. Well done, Muralitharan!

India knows Rajapaksa is Mary's little lamb with war crimes and the hostility of the West

By Gomin Dayasri

India is Indira, has changed to Sonia is India. Ironically Italian, intelligently Indian, she held the key to India’s Gate at an opportune moment for the fate of Sri Lanka.

Coming from the land of godfathers where avenging death is a sacred article in their code of honour, no pardon was forthcoming to Prabhakaran amidst a thousand apologies under the rule of the Indian Congress in the court of Sonia Gandhi. Fury of a woman for a death of a husband, deeply ingrained in the folklore of India and its celluloid cinema culture, was not a bargaining factor for any ruling Congressman, many deeply indebted to her.

India’s enigmatic diplomacy in furtherance of sub continent dominance is to contain its neighbours with fractured societies. India suffers from internal divisions and pathologically desires those on the borders must endure the same fate. In the neighbourhood of malevolent supremacy; LTTE tuned by India was to keep Lanka on a checkmate position.

The original script required revision, as its fissiparous nature was unhealthy of being infectious in India and the assassin of a princely leader of a dynasty received no mercy. Outward hostility blended with inward tolerance, would have been the policy towards the LTTE but for the grief of a widow and for the pride of India.

So is the 13th Amendment, an artwork of her husband, which is the last remaining relic of Rajiv Gandhi’s Lankan misadventure where the Indian forces returned home as a rag- tag army and for which her husband sacrificed his life.. India keeps reminding of the unlucky 13th but not with intensity. Indians chide Rajapaksa courteously, and make the TNA (after jettisoning their Eelam day –dream) to discuss the 13th Amendment sensibly. To India, Rajapaksa has greater value than the TNA so it is better to make them trail the President. The deflated TNA like a band of tramps are to trek on the Presidents path.

Argumentatively, India is for India and Indians - irrespective of Sonia. Indian Interest is ahead of the sentimentality of a single woman. Fortunately, Sonia being a westernized lady in a sari knows to wear genuine Indian cosmetics in her make up. Prabhakaran (deceased) and the 13th Amendment (comatose) means less than trade and commerce, defence and security, hegemony in the region and an emerging power pack globally. India looks to her own future with conceit.

Brothers Rajapakse understood Indian mentality better than the mandarins in the Ministry with their upbringing in the revolving schools in local diplomacy. Sri Lanka performed best in India in the time of the Balangoda Woman and the Hambantota Man with their simple homely homilies. India was temporarily unsighted until the majority registered eighteen hundred thousand; with it, Rajapaksa rapidly became reliable in the region. Indian foreign policy tilted more to the Man than to the Country.

It was more Lanka’s fault if Indira Gandhi shifted patronage to the LTTE due to J.R.Jayewardene’s stupid caustic personal remarks of her and her son- to her India was her family unlike to the more sensible Sonia. Sirimavo Bandaranaike had previously maintained a cosy relationship with all Indian Prime Ministers. Rajapaksa is back on track.

India understands the moods of the Asia that are lost on the West and westernized UN. India more confident than under Indira and desirous of projecting its image as a global heavy weight and the undisputed leader of South Asia, requires the goodwill of Sri Lanka as India stand facing hostile elements in its own and other backyards. India knows Rajapaksa is Mary’s little lamb, with war crimes and the hostility of the West.

India backed the winner.India does not want to lose it to China, if it flexes its strength too much on the 13th amendment. India alone can undo the good it has done to her. The war has given the people of Sri Lanka an identity to be proud of its present.

Sri Lanka always a friend, acts the role of a reliable gatekeeper to the gateway to the southern entrance of India, with its ocean considered a private pool of the Indians until the Chinese started patrolling the waters. From the time of Independence, Sri Lankan Centre did not play foot loose with the politicians of the Tamil Nadu. With the Brotherhood as the lords of the port of Hambantota, India is safe and secure with an office of a consul to watch the movements of Chinese shipping lanes with a telescope on the edge of waterfront.

The President deciphered the smoke signals correctly and shifted the prime India desk from the Foreign Ministry to Temple Trees, from the time of Boggolagama with the Foreign Minister being merely a glorified baggage master in New Delhi. They knew psyche, tact and pride were Indian priorities. The President and his two brothers negotiated with Secretary Lalith Weeratunga providing the inputs.

There were strains, as when the Indian prime minister opted out of a photo opportunity to show his displeasure but laid the red carpet after Rajapaksa’s convincing military and presidential victory, to show India was firmly in the President’s corner.

India has a trump on the 13 amendment on Lanka’s many vague assurances but Sri Lanka holds a China card. In a game of cards of high stake between friends’ neither player desires to go home with a bounty on a kill. In a give and take, the Provincial List may be the casualty.

To make the taste sweeter, aid and trade, to India’s advantage, possible with the laid-back approach of the Lankan officials. The south block in New Delhi would never desire an independent Dravidian state to arise with a dedicated capital in the North on the door- step of Tamil Nadu, which will be the beginning of India’s fragmentation, and give rise other divisive elements.

To make it worse LTTE, Diaspora and the TNA turned to the West, in search of benefactors. They hooked on to the issue of the imperial cartel -human rights- to attract the western NGO lobbies, and always kept at a safe distance away in India. India channelled its assistance via the central government in Colombo after Prabhakaran made the fatal error of having a warrant issued for murder. The TNA took a false aim by targeting on Chennai and Western ideology.

Kouchner and Milliband helped Sri Lanka’s cause by seeking access to save the man responsible for the death of a prime minister; to India, he is a convicted murderer roaming free in a sanctuary that he was seeking to convert to a state. Worse, American tried to unleash the Marines on beaches of Mullativu.

The Indian Navy did not desire to see a Yankee flotilla near their coastline and registered their strong protest.. To make India comfortable was more important to the USA than saving lives of terrorist leadership. That was the end to physical intervention by the West. A free and independent Sri Lanka with a leadership looking to India, rather than the West is a better option for India.

India had to pay its debt to Sri Lanka for nourishing terrorism in the times of Indira Gandhi that compelled her daughter in law to make India remain silent that coincided with India’s present priorities, while the LTTE stood decimated. The west showed its proximity to the LTTE and made the Indian establishment jittery after seeing their adventures in Kosovo, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and former Russian satellite states, on the Himalayan borders.

The confusion in the mind of Blake of failing to assess the growing Indo-Sri Lanka bonds undid the influence USA could exercise during the critical last 30 days. Sri Lanka should erect a monument for Sonia instead for the unknown IPKF soldier in Pelawatte and build a miniature of Robert Blake by the side for his unintended misfired side support. To undo the damage the west did to itself, seeks to circumvent the UN General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council by reaching for their anchor- man in the UN.

The West is losing its standing on Sri Lanka to the gain of India and China and eroding their bases in South Asia around the Indian Ocean. While Lanka is trying to stage a mini Rama-Sita epic on a tourist trail, India is on a grandiose Asokan expedition in Sri Lanka.

Will G.L. Peiris or Palitha Kohona be made the scapegoats for amateurish politics of Weerawansa?

Now that Wimal Weerawansa in his inimitable way has managed to get the President of Sri Lanka to kneel down before him and offer water as many predicted, one wonders as to who would end up being the scapegoat of the government failure to get a better statement from the UN on Friday night - Prof. G.L. Peiris or Palitha Kohona

A conciliatory statement from New York became very much part of Weerawansa’s exit strategy following the failure of his move to get Russia to make a commitment. Though Russia had earlier made it clear that it was against the UN panel on Sri Lanka it acted prudently during the fast and refused to play to the gallery of the drama that was being enacted. The anticipated court order to remove Wimal from the site too never came.

When Wimal’s team got a copy of the much- prayed- for statement by the UN they found its contents to be a far cry from the party’s demand.

Running short of options the Weerawansa camp finally had to turn to their most bankable alternative, President Mahinda Rajapaksa - a visit by whom had been predicted by media entities from the very beginning of the death fast. The President surely would have been quite alive to the controversy that such a visit would trigger but still opted to drop in having waited for two days.

Knowing the Sri Lankan style of resolving issues one may well say that one would not be surprised if either External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris or Sri Lanka’s representative in New York Palitha Kohona faces the axe in the days to come. One cannot rule out an influential section of the ruling alliance jumping to the conclusion that a hurried commitment from Russia or a better worded statement from the UN would have saved face. Then comes the need to look for scapegoats.Wimal Weerawansa who referred to President Rajapaksa as his good buddy in his resignation letter is very unlikely to be pulled up despite the humiliation he brought to the twenty million people in the country with his comic act on the global stage. It is now up to the likes of Prof. Peiris and Dr. Kohona to clean the stable after the mess created by Weerawansa. But is there any point?

Sri Lanka has ceased to be a nation that has faith in diplomacy. It only has faith in amateurish retail politics that provides entertainment. There’s hardly a role for the likes of Peiris or Kohona in this government as long as the likes of Wimal Weerawansa calls the shots. So why not send Prof. Peiris and Dr. Kohona home.

(This is the text of the 'Daily Mirror' editorial of Jul 12th, 2010)

July 11, 2010

Big Power Sanctions versus Middle Power Diplomacy for Iran

By Rajan Philips

On May 17 in Tehran, the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, and Brazil announced that they had reached a deal on exchanging uranium fuel for use in the Tehran Research Reactor.

The next day, the Obama Administration made what appeared to be a counter announcement that the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council had agreed to impose a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the agreement on sanction “as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”

The two announcements are not totally contradictory and opinions differ as to whether they could be complementary. Both are significant insofar as the Tehran declaration involves middle power diplomatic efforts by Brazil and Turkey to resolve a longstanding standoff between Iran and the West, and the American sanction announcement involves the strongest wording yet to be agreed to by Russia and China for a Security Council resolution on Iran.

Iran was expected to notify the IAEA in writing within seven days of the May 17 declaration, and request an agreement with the Vienna Group to implement the nuclear transactions proposed in the tripartite declaration. Within one month of reaching an agreement with the Vienna Group, Iran will deposit its lightly enriched uranium (LEU) with Turkey, and the Vienna Group will then have to deliver the nuclear fuel to Iran within one year following. As of June 7—one month after the May declaration—Iran has not formally written to the IAEA and the declaration itself has been overtaken by other events in the world of nuclear politics and in the Middle East.

Iran’s Nuclear History

Iran’s nuclear program dates back to the 1950s, while allegations of Iran’s violations of NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) requirements and safeguards are associated with Iran’s nuclear activities after the Islamic revolution of 1979. The concern in the West has been over the possibility of Iran secretly developing a nuclear weapons program while insisting that its nuclear activities are only tied to peaceful purposes. In 2003, President Mohammad Khatami admitted to Iran’s carrying on a clandestine nuclear program and promised to end it.

With the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President in 2005, the nuclear issue became a controversial matter between Iran and the West. He restarted the nuclear research program, insisting that it was for peaceful purposes, and without opening the country’s nuclear activities to inspection by the IAEA. A 2005 National Intelligence Estimate by American intelligence agencies expressed concern over the growing potential for Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, and the Bush Administration succeeded in obtaining three Security Council sanctions against Iran’s continuing uranium enrichment and refusal to allow IAEA inspection. All of this led more to the ratcheting up of diplomatic rhetoric than to any positive outcome.

The Obama administration proposed a different tack based on negotiations rather than accusations. The Iranian government was forced into negotiations in October 2009, after a new underground enrichment plant near Qom came to light. In the October talks, with the United States participating fully for the first time, Iran agreed to open the Qom plant to international inspection and to a fuel swap idea suggested by the West. The West’s idea was to take much of Iran’s known holdings of LEU out of the country (to disable Iran from making a bomb) and in turn send back to Iran a much smaller amount of nuclear fuel for use in the production of medical isotopes at the Tehran Research Reactor.

The same amounts of LEU (1200 kg) and nuclear fuel (120 kg) figured in the 2010 May 17 declaration and the October 2009 agreement. According to US estimates, whereas 1200 kg of LEU represented two-thirds of Iran’s total uranium stock in 2009, it would now be half of Iran’s LEU stock. The increase in Iran’s residual LEU holding is attributed to Iran’s continuing enrichment of uranium in violation of Security Council resolutions; it is also the reason for West’s concern that Iran will now be left with sufficient quantities for making at least a crude nuclear weapon.

In any event, Iran repudiated the October 2009 deal, and on February 11, 2010, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad declared Iran “a nuclear state” and ordered his atomic scientists to begin enriching their stockpile of uranium in order to power a medical reactor. Also in February, the IAEA issued one of its strongest reports, raising “concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” This was the background in which Iran and the US took to two parallel but opposing approaches to seize the initiative in the nuclear tug-of-war between them.

Deal overtaken by events

The political situation in Iran following Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election in June 2009 provides additional background to Iran’s repudiation of the October 2009 deal with the West and its espousal of the alternative arrangement six months later with Turkey and Brazil. The democratic opposition in Iran that became bold and vocal after the June 2009 election saw the October deal as an attempt by the government to rehabilitate itself in the face of continuing protests. The conservative and the more intransigent supporters of the government among the religious and military elite were hostile to Iran entering into an agreement involving the US. On the other hand, there appears to be greater support for the alternative deal proposed on May 17. The influential Speaker of the National Assembly, Ali Larijani, and a good majority of parliamentarians who had abstained from President Ahmadinejad’s re-election celebrations last year are known supporters of the new fuel swap deal.

The Americans, it has been opined, mis-read the mood inside Iran in vigorously pursuing the October deal with an unpopular regime and are now alienating a cross-section of Iranians by resorting to the “theatrics” of UN sanctions against a popular nuclear fuel swap deal. In fairness, the Obama Administration appears to have been viewing both avenues as complementary, supporting the Brazil-Turkey initiative with Iran, while being sceptical about its success, and pursuing the fourth Security Council sanction (the first under Obama) against Iran’s nuclear programs.

The perception that the two approaches are not at odds with each other is also the reason for the Russian and the Chinese support for the new round of sanctions targeting Iran’s financial institutions that support the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps overseeing the military aspects of the nuclear program, and requiring countries to inspect ships and planes going to or arriving from Iran. But the perception on the other side is quite the opposite. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva who has invested much in the tripartite initiative as a diplomatic alternative to Western dominance is also the most optimistic of the success of the May 17 declaration, and equally the most vocal in criticising the big power sanction initiative. Turkey has been more conciliatory and called the nuclear swap deal and the sanction as complementary initiatives. But that was before the Israeli raid on Turkish flotilla into Gaza in early June.

On June 9 the Security Council voted 12 to 2 in favor of new sanctions against Iran. Brazil and Turkey voted against the resolution, making it the first of the four sanctions resolutions failing to reach unanimity. It also opens a new divide in international diplomacy over Iran. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the sanctions as “used handkerchief” to be thrown into the dustbin. He reiterated on state television, during a meeting with visiting Turkish parliament speaker