Friday, November 17, 2017

Socialists for controlled, selected foreign investments


By Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne-2017-11-16


Popular socialists do not totally denounce foreign investments but welcome investments in selected areas, according to one such socialist leader. Even if they come to power, such a policy may be implemented. These radical statements have come out recently, at a seminar organized by a Sri Lankan friendship circle. "We do not denounce foreign investors but welcome them to invest in selected areas. There are valuable natural resources in our country but presently, however, the country only produces five kinds of chemicals using these resources. The problem is Sri Lanka does not have sufficient technology to enhance marketable products using the natural resources found there. Therefore, we are compelled to seek help through foreign investments. Clearly such cooperation is needed in sectors such as these. So, we are for controlled, selected foreign investments," the socialist leader explained.

This proposal is very similar to New Economic Policy (NEP), the economic policy of the government of the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1928, representing a temporary retreat from its previous policy of extreme centralization and military socialism. The policy of War Communism, in effect since 1918, had by 1921 brought the national economy to the point of total breakdown. The Kronshtadt Rebellion of March 1921 convinced the Communist Party and its leader, Vladimir Lenin, of the need to retreat from pure socialist policies in order to maintain the party's hold on power. Accordingly, the 10th Party Congress in March 1921 introduced the measures of the New Economic Policy. These measures included the return of most agriculture, retail trade, and small-scale light industry to private ownership and management while the State retained control of heavy industry, transport, banking, and foreign trade. Money was re-introduced into the economy in 1922 (it had been abolished under War Communism).

The peasantry was allowed to own and cultivate their own land, while paying taxes to the State. The New Economic Policy reintroduced a measure of stability to the economy and allowed the Soviet people to recover from years of war, civil war, and governmental mismanagement. The small businessmen and managers who flourished in this period became known as NEP men.

However, local socialists did not refer to this similarity or tried to compare the local situation with what happened in Russia.

Speaking further, he said the socialists in a period like this where liberals are in power do not press for an economy without a private sector; however, that the private sector should work according to the national development plan. "Our belief is that the private sector should not be allowed to work independently without coordinating with the national development strategy, but work with participation in the national development plan," he said. Clearly all socialists today can see the disastrous path selected by Stalin and his followers. At that time the NEP was viewed by the Soviet Government as merely a temporary expedient to allow the economy to recover while the Communists solidified their hold on power. By 1925 Nicolai Bukharin had become the foremost supporter of the NEP, while Leon Trotsky explained the necessity of the extension of the revolution to the industrial West. Without the change in the industrial West, Russia cannot build socialism in Russia alone. There cannot be socialism in one country:

Particularly, in an under developed country, without the support of the international proletariat.
The NEP was dogged by the government's chronic inability to procure enough grain supplies from the peasantry to feed its urban work force. In 1928–29 these grain shortages prompted Joseph Stalin, by then the country's paramount leader, to forcibly eliminate the private ownership of farmland and to collectivize agriculture under the State's control, thus ensuring the procurement of adequate food supplies for the cities in the future. This abrupt policy change, which was accompanied by the destruction of several million of the country's most prosperous private farmers, marked the end of the NEP. It was followed by the re-imposition of State control over all industry and commerce in the country by 1931. Premature socialist revolutions could bring disaster unless there is a proper perspective to win the support of the proletariat of the industrialized Western world.

Sampanthan appeals to Rajapaksa and ‘genuine’ SLFPers

Sampanthan appeals to Rajapaksa and ‘genuine’ SLFPers

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November 16, 2017
Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan today called on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to support the making of a new Constitution as it is his fundamental duty and to refrain from using the Constitution as a means to capture power.
Addressing the Parliament today (16), the TNA leader urged the Prime Minister and members of the Steering Committee to ensure that the draft constitutional proposals are put before the Constitutional Assembly within the next three months at least and are made available to the public.  
“Why is former President Mahinda Rajapaksa opposing what he himself proposed? I want to ask President Mahinda Rajapaksa if you are opposed to the framing of a new Constitution why did you not come to the Parliament and oppose that resolution?,” he inquired. 
He accused Rajapaksa of attempting to espouse communal tension by alleging that the new Constitution would divide the country. 
“Now Local Authorities elections are going to be held. You want to defeat the government. Okay that is your political activity.” 
“But in order to achieve that you are trying to create communal tension in this country by stating that through this Constitutional process an effort is being made to divide the country,” he said.   
Sampanthan said that the former President is a very senior political leader in this country who commands much respect amongst the people of the country and that they would want him to be a party to the making of a new Constitution. “We would like to hold you also in the highest esteem.”
“You must support the making of a new Constitution. That is your fundamental duty. You want to capture power? Capture in some other way. We have no problems,” he asserted. 
“But you don’t use the Constitution as a means to power. So don’t think we are against you. Please don’t be against us. I’m appealing to the genuine SLFPers. Please support the making of this Constitution. That is your fundamental duty.”     

Our Constitutional Conundrum – A Commentary

Image courtesy Corridors of Power project, which marries architecture and constitutional theory.

PROF. JAYADEVA UYANGODA-on 

Sri Lanka’s current political debate on constitutional reform is significant for a variety of reasons. The Interim Report of the Constitutional Assembly has inspired a spirited opposition from Buddhist monks, reminding us of the similar opposition emerged in 1995 when professor G. L. Peiris unveiled the August 1995 proposal of the People’s Alliance government. Although Professor Peiris has changed his political beliefs beyond recognition, the leading Buddhist monks, who continue to be very vocal on matters constitutional, have not.

Meanwhile, the old politics of constitutional reform repeats itself with the parliamentary opposition pushing to the front the Buddhist clergy to fight the ideological battle on its behalf. (Or are they being backed by some sections of the government too, one wonders?). This was what the UNP did during 1995-2000. In another striking similarity with the past, the key resistance arguments are the same old ones without even new innovations in language. Division of the country, giving into the minorities, appeasing the LTTE elements and foreign powers, and diluting the constitutional position of Buddhism are the four main points of criticism.

What nevertheless impresses the political analyst is the acute sense of political interventions that Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Sangha leadership has been displaying for years and in the current debate as well. Those who want to seriously theorize Sri Lanka’s state – society relations, it is not easy to ignore the point that the Buddhist Sangha hierarchy is actually a stakeholder of the post-colonial state. This is a situation that did not exist during the colonial or pre-colonial times. It is quite unusual that Sri Lanka’s political party system and parliamentary democracy has made such a situation possible; now it is there as a political reality. That is why the existing 1978 Constitution has now become impossible to be changed democratically without the Sangha hierarchy being made a direct partner in the reform project. This creates a very complex paradox and as well difficulty for Sri Lanka’s constitutional reform exercise.

Making the Sangha hierarchy a partner in a democratic state reform process will require a massive effort on the part of a secular, democratic political leadership possessing politico-ideological clarity, democratic commitment and political will. Since Sri Lanka is legendarily short of such political leaderships, the only way out is the undemocratic option of imposing a new democratic constitution by undemocratic means, by force using the state’s coercive power, as President J. R. Jayewardene did in 1987 for the 13th Amendment and President Mahinda Rajapaksa did to get the 18th Amendment passed. I am not advocating the second option, but merely pointing to the conundrum sharpened by it. I am also reminded of the fact that the Sangha leadership did not protest President Rajapaksa’s subversion of democracy through the 18th Amendment. Actually, Sri Lanka’s contemporary Buddhist political project has no democratic content. No does it have a language of democracy to express its political aspirations. And that is also a part of the problem.

The current constitutional debate has some other interesting facets too. What I find most interesting is how the resistance to reform is also an expression of fear, uncertainty and anxieties about political-structural change. These are the sentiments most passionately articulated by the Sangha leadership of all the fraternities. The intellectuals of the joint opposition have also been giving voice to these fears in their own opportunistic ways. All these are repetitions of what happened during 1995 -2000. I think this situation forces the advocates of further devolution to re-think their arguments for devolution. The sole argument for devolution available presently is that it is necessary to lay a better and stronger institutional and constitutional framework to address the minority ethnic grievances. Although this is an eminently democratic argument, paradoxically, it immediately generates a counter argument in the Sinhalese society – aren’t the ethnic minorities the sole beneficiaries of devolution at the expence of the ethnic majority? This is an example of a classic political conundrum – a solution to one problem germinates another bigger problem.

Is there a way out of this paradox of devolution in Sri Lanka? I think there is. It is one that enables the Sinhalese majority to look at devolution through the prism of its own interests.  The best argument for this is to highlight the democratic essence of devolution – reforming a centralized, bureaucratic state, which we inherited from the British colonial rule, in a manner that establishes closer linkages between the state and the citizen. Devolution, along with a strong framework of local government, has the potential to take the state closer to the community and the citizen, promote participatory governance and create the space for better state-citizen interface. It can also address the present problems of alienation that most of our citizens have been experiencing with regard to the state and its institutions. Thus, the benefits of devolution can reach all citizens irrespective of their ethnic identity. It can specifically benefit the citizens living in outer districts, and in the periphery of power structures. It will empower citizens, not just minorities or majorities.

There is also a false point being debated intensely in the current controversy. It is about the unitary versus federal models. Participants of the debate appear to be unaware of the fact that no country in the word today has pure constitutional models, either unitary or federal. This old terminology, which we continue to find in political science and constitutional law textbooks, is actually a hindrance to any imaginative discussion on a possible constitutional alternative for Sri Lanka.  Besides, all constitutional models in the world are hybrid ones. India has a constitution which combines both federal and unitary features. The American constitution, though federal, has strong centralizing features due to peculiarly American factors. France has a highly centralized unitary state with a system of extensive decentralization. The UK, like Sri Lanka, has been moving away from the unitary model and embracing new forms of devolution.

All these are reflections of changing political realities of each society. Sri Lanka’s problem is that the constitutional framework is being blocked from becoming able to reflect the changing political and social realities. A key reason is that some of the key stakeholders of the state are prisoners of an outdated and binary-framework of thinking. That is precisely why they cannot make sense of Mr. R. Sambandan’s crucial compromise to accept the insertion of the word ekeeya, along with its Tamil equivalent in the new constitution. This outdated mindset has only impoverished the capacity for fresh political imagination among some influential stakeholders of the contemporary Sri Lankan state.

Let us turn to another component of this conundrum. Until a few months ago, there was a near consensus across all political parties, civil society groups and ideological forces in Sri Lankan society, that the 1978 Constitution and its Presidential system needed some democratic replacement. We are now suddenly woken up to the reality that that consensus has suffered a severe disruption. Buddhist Sangha hierarchy is the most vocal defender of the 1978 Constitution and its presidential and centralized system. President Sirisena’s SLFP too shares a milder version of this position, while the Joint opposition of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa is backing the position of the Sangha.  Why has this important democratic consensus collapsed in Sri Lanka so rapidly?

Although a clear answer to this question is not yet clear, we can guess one or two tenable answers. The first is the fact that there is an emerging argument for a strong state in Sri Lanka’s post-civil war conditions and amidst the perceived threat of global Islamic radicalism. The second, linked to the first, is that an argument is emerging to suggest that the return to the Westminster model of prime ministerial government, even to a reformed one, will make the Sri Lankan state vulnerable in situations of threat to national security. The new argument seems to prefer a President elected by the entire country with a direct mandate from the people to a Prime minister who is elected by a small constituency.  This argument has support constituencies within the ruling coalition, among many of the Sangha leaders and in the joint opposition.

To return to the question of managing the politics of constitutional reform in Sri Lanka, one of the tasks of which the government does not seem to be conscious is the need to provide the people of the country a creative intellectual leadership. Some people make the rather trivial point that the government is weak in marketing its message. Constitution is not a commodity to be marketed and citizens are not consumers to be persuaded by deceptive advertising. Citizens are politically intelligent beings who can be intellectually persuaded by sound analysis, morally persuasive reasoning and positive social hopes for a better political order.  The government’s passionless attitude to the constitutional controversy can hardly inspire citizens.

The government’s lack of talent to advance an intellectually appealing slogan, or formulation, that can effectively capture the positive politics of constitutional reform also comes at a time when the ‘yahapalanaya’ government has lost its claims to ethical governance. The government leaders have obviously forgotten the fact that it was an ethical moment in Sri Lankan politics that enabled the Yahapalanaya coalition to dislodge President Rajapaksa’s rule in January 2015. That normative moment has not only disappeared; the government leaders have forced it to disappear. It is very difficult to imagine a democratic state reform project being successfully carried out by a regime which has lost its ethical and normative bearings.

Sri Lanka: Adopt Timeline for Action

Promises to UN Human Rights Council Go Unmet
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, speaks at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, September 11, 2017.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, speaks at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, September 11, 2017.
 
© 2017 Reuters
November 15, 2017 1:45AM EST
(Geneva) – Countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council should press Sri Lanka for a time-bound action plan on reforms during its third Universal Periodic Review, which begins November 15, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. Successive Sri Lankan governments, including under President Maithripala Sirisena, have failed to ensure accountability for serious rights violations and other important commitments.
Under the Universal Periodic Review, each UN member state provides updates and undergoes scrutiny of its human rights situation every four years. At the Human Rights Council, other countries are given a chance to express their concerns and make recommendations for improvement.
“The Sirisena government made key pledges at the Human Rights Council in October 2015 to ensure justice, accountability, and security sector reform,” said John Fisher, Geneva director. “The failure of the government to fulfill most of these promises has brought its commitment to reform into question and dashed hopes of victims and affected communities.”
Sri Lanka is in danger of not just standing still on rights, but backtracking on essential reforms. 

John Fisher

Geneva Director
The Sri Lankan government has taken several positive steps since the last review in 2012. Human rights activists and journalists do not fear arrest for expressing their views and criticism. Allegations of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances against the Tamil minority have dropped considerably. In May 2016, the government ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Since 2015, Sri Lanka has invited several UN and other international experts to provide recommendations.
However, a number of urgent human rights issues are pending, many arising from the 2015 council resolution that promised to create four transitional justice mechanisms to address abuses linked to the three-decade conflict that ended in 2009. Thus far, the government has only established the Office of Missing Persons, but even there has procrastinated.
The government’s budget outline for fiscal year 2018 contains no reference or allocation for the remaining three mechanisms. Other resolution undertakings, such as security sector reform and land reform, remain largely unfulfilled. In particular, the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has not yet been repealed; although the government claims it has not enforced the act for the last six months, many PTA suspects remain in prison and those finally released after years of detention without charge have not received redress. Protests across the country in recent months have demanded reform and justice including for PTA detainees.
During the review, governments should also raise concerns about women’s rights and protections around sexual orientation and gender identity. Sri Lanka has discriminatory marriage and divorce laws that unfairly impact women from minority backgrounds. Laws that criminalize homosexual conduct remain in effect and are regularly used by the authorities to jail, bribe, and abuse men and women.
“Sri Lanka is in danger of not just standing still on rights, but backtracking on essential reforms,” Fisher said. “UN members need to look beyond the increasingly hollow promises of reform, and insist that the government present an action plan and timeline for honoring its commitments.”

In Light Of Dr Nalaka Godahewa’s Speech At The UNHRC In Geneva



If memories and past experiences are not re-examined in the light of new situations, bleak will be the future for all new generations.
imageGiven Dr Nalaka Godahewa’s professional background, his speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appears to be a political stunt. For it is in the main misleading, illogical, irrational, “not doctoral” and at times disingenuous. His speech is premised on the fallacious hypothesis that discrimination against minorities in Sri Lanka, particularly the Tamil community has been a fabricated (or imagined) myth. Recent activities indicate that he would have represented “Viyathmaga”. His dubious political motives become clear at the conclusion of the speech. “No ethnic based solutions” he says, choosing not to face up to the current difficult constitutional development process, adding that this whole process is there to satisfy a western agenda by the external forces “who only want to divide us”.

This is not surprising given his political affiliations. Dr Godahewa was the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Financial Crime Investigation Division had arrested him in December 2015 for a financial grant allegedly provided to a youth movement headed by a son of the former president. His lawyers argued that this was a political witch hunt and that the grant was “simply a sponsorship given with proper board approval for a stock market awareness program”. Leaving that aside, let us dissect what Dr Godahewa leaves out of the historical record in order to support his specious contention that there has been no discrimination against non-Sinhala communities.
 
Discrimination

Discrimination is primarily an intentional or unintentional ‘behaviour or treatment’ that does not accord with the principles of fairness and natural justice.

This is reflected in international law, which defines racial discrimination as:

“any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
 
Discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection.”.

Thus, discrimination involves restricting a member or a group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another leading to exclusion, or the “othering” based on illogical or irrational decision making. It can and has developed into a source of oppression and resulted in inhumane and degrading treatment.

Background

This paper will highlight the implications of the inability of the Island’s elite to develop a national consciousness that transcends religion, language and caste – the reasons which are rooted in the country’s long servitude under the Portuguese, Dutch and the English. In the post-independence era, the failure of our political and cultural elite to deal with this vital societal issue has resulted in various forms of discrimination, particularly on the grounds of ethnicity. This is reflected by the communal violence and the human rights violations carried out by the state and its security forces, and political organizations – underpinned by the ideological perspectives of almost all political persuasions to protect the class interests and privileges of the ruling elite.

The argument that there is no national oppression or discrimination against Tamils in Sri Lanka and if there is it is only against the Sinhalese is based on the premise that Sri Lanka is the country only of the Sinhalese and non-Sinhala peoples are just recent migrants. This is a Sinhala nationalist construct of the island’s history. On the other hand, a Tamil nationalist construct of history attempts to portray that they were the Island’s first inhabitants. These counter narratives choke any room for dialogue or compromise when it comes to resolving the vexed national question.

In spite of the hair-splitting arguments they make, there are a few matters we could all agree upon: that many generations of those living in the Island, including the Sinhalese and Tamils have been inhabitants of the country for many centuries. Hence, Lanka is the homeland of all the people currently inhabiting it. Solutions need to be found for the current issues, not to a historical problem that existed centuries ago. Such solutions need to pave the way for a united, harmonious, inclusive and fairer Sri Lanka where all people are treated equally and can live with dignity and respect.
Centuries of subjugation and suppression under colonial rule trampled on the national dignity and fundamental rights of the local people, and flared up a national consciousness in each community. Therefore, the need arises to analyse and recognise the palpable peculiarities of each community, the difficulties they face in understanding the spectrum of inter-ethnic interests and the need for radical social transformation along with a prudent and patient approach to redress their concerns.

Sri Lanka did not develop a strong anti-colonial, pro-independence struggle. Tamil leaders were in the forefront of political agitation in tandem with Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others, who agitated for constitutional reforms. Ponnambalam Ramanathan was their first elected common representative. Ponnambalam Arunachalan, his brother, campaigned for education in local languages and local universities. the Jaffna Youth Congress gave leadership to transform this reformist campaign into an anti-imperialist one. The struggles of the working class led by the left and the Indian independence from colonialism in 1947 also influenced this transformation.

The British made Ceylon ‘independent’ in 1948 in accordance with their new geo-political and military strategy launched to counter the expanding ‘threat of communism’ in Asia. In doing so, they did not consider the political exigencies needed to ensure fairness and justice for the island’s diverse residents post-independence. In this political vacuum, rancour replaced civility and the national project degenerated into ethnic/communal conflict. The Sinhalese regarded Tamils as economically and educationally privileged. Increasingly falling out with Tamils, the Sinhalese wanted to secure “majority rights”. They were also very concerned about the geographic proximity of the Tamils in Lanka to the numerically strong Tamil community in the Madras State of India. Psychologically, the Sinhalese felt a minority in comparison to the multitudes of Tamils living in the sub-continent.

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UN must investigate reports of ongoing torture

For a number of years, Freedom from Torture has been highlighting the problem of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka and welcomed the press coverage of terrible abuses earlier this week.
HomeNovember 10, 2017
This week, ahead of a UN review of Sri Lanka’s human rights performance, we have also written to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to call for the UN to investigate these reports and ensure that pressure is applied to the Sri Lankan government to take action to end ongoing abuses and take meaningful action to dismantle the structures which allow torture to continue.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SRI LANKAN SUPREME COURT?


Photo courtesy UN Aids

ASANGA WELIKALA-on 

A quiet revolution is taking place in the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep that only a few close observers have so far noticed. During the course of 2017, the Court has made a number of decisions that are nothing if not remarkable when viewed in the context, both of the unimaginative timidity of the older Sri Lankan judicial tradition, as well as the Court’s record in the last two decades.

In one case, the Court determined that advocating federalism is not the same thing as advocating secession, and that the Tamils are a people entitled to internal self-determination within a united Sri Lanka. In doing so, it defanged the effect of the draconian Sixth Amendment, which in criminalising even the peaceful advocacy of secession in the wake of the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, not only chilled the freedom of expression but forcefully and unjustly alienated Tamils from the state of which they were citizens.

In another, it upheld a homosexuality conviction because it had no other choice under the existing law, but recognising the consensual and private nature of the act, refused to impose a custodial sentence.

In yet another case, it upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision in invalidating the election of a notoriously reprobate Member of Parliament, who had clearly and consistently lied about her legal disqualification to stand for Parliament on account of holding dual citizenship. This is a serious fillip for at least a basic sense of integrity in public life.

In the most recent case, the Court granted compensation to a foreign national who had previously been deported for having a tattoo depicting the Buddha, which, for recognising the fundamental rights of a foreigner under the Sri Lankan constitution, and even more for the importance of upholding the supremacy of the law against the politics of nationalism, is incredibly significant in the era of militant political Buddhism across Asia.

Now, at least the last three of these examples may not seem like great acts of judicial audacity, given what its regional counterparts in India, or even Pakistan, routinely do. And some will not, rightly, see in these judgments themselves any conspicuous display of conceptual depth or legal erudition, let alone much elegance of expression. But the stark and inescapable fact is that we could not have remotely expected outcomes such as these from the Sri Lankan Supreme Court in the recent past.

It would, thus, appear that Chief Justice Dep and the other Justices are engaged in a quiet and unobtrusive, yet profound and sometimes even radical, process of restoring the legitimacy, reputation, and prestige of a Court that was once a shining ornament among the judicatures of the Commonwealth, but which in the last two decades or so has suffered intolerable depredations.

First came the domineering and quixotic Chief Justice Silva, who treated the Court in the same way as Big Man politicians have treated the Executive Presidency. Then came the unprecedented horror of the impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake by the Rajapaksa regime, which was an egregious act of institutional vandalism even by the atrocious standards of that government. This was matched by the illegal and unconstitutional appointment of the unspeakable Mohan Peiris as Chief Justice, who was then ousted by a questionable process in an early sign that yahapalanaya was perhaps not all that it was drummed up to be.

But the significance of the recent decisions lies in seeing them in the context of the Court’s immediate past, and in their outcomes, the reflection of a certain moral courage and conviction, an acute understanding of the judicial role in a constitutional democracy, and indeed, professional pride in the judicial office, all of which have been utterly absent on the Bench during this period.

I am no fan of juristocracy by any stretch of the imagination, and especially not the grandstanding South Asian variety that many yahapalanaya types seem to find irresistible. But I find ineluctably appealing the discreet and tranquil manner in which one of our oldest public institutions is going about redeeming itself, and in doing so, restoring the centrality of the Supreme Court to the process of rebuilding the Rule of Law in our country. This is the stuff that real patriotism is made of.

Blockage of LeN: Censorship is a regressive condition in the modern world -IMA


LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 15.Nov.2017, 9.35AM) The Internet Media Action (IMA – www.imalanka.org) is concerned about the blockage of the news portal Lanka e News (LeN: www.lankaenews.com) since last 8th of November 2017 making inaccessible to the LeN website within Sri Lanka through all the broadband service providers including Sri Lanka Telecom, one of the leading internet providers(ISPs) in the country. 
Also, the IMA strongly condemned the decision to censor, ban, and block and generate technical complications on any internet publication and we firmly opposed the ban imposed on the Lanka e News. 
The actions to censor and restrict the freedom of information, speech and press are not sustained longer in the modern digitalized world and if the current good governance  government would impose restrictions on the freedom of expression, the government would become a ‘regressive institution’ in the digitalized, free internet society. 
The official statement about the difficulty of accessing to the Lanka e News website and issues related to the matter should be made by the Department of Government Information, the Ministry of Mass Media and the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) of Sri Lanka. If not, we believe, that the good governance government is now pushing aside the discourse on open governance and democracy in Sri Lanka. 
The other fact is that instead of being sensitive to the criticism of government policy in the internet sources, the government actions to manipulate information, indicate the characters of the Rajapaksa regime in the ‘good governance’.  It is not worth the ‘good governance’ principles. Similarly, democracy and media freedom in the society are threatened through the actions occurred in a country caused by no legal reason or a court order. 
The good governance government, which came into power on 8th January 2015 lifted of the ban over five websites, including Lanka e News and Lanka News web signifying a way forward and now blocking the website again, it demonstrates the precondition of fearsome future. 
Hence, the blockage of Lanka e news is a serious warning of the government to the freedom of the press and media and internet and democracy of the country and it further clarified the allegations made by the present regime on publications on the internet.
We, thereby, call upon the government to eliminate the online censorship and blocking to access the Lanka e News website and ensure freedom of the press and media and internet and to be committed to ‘good governance’ and not to be ‘isolated governors’ in the digitized world and to show the government’s eagerness to the digital world through its actions. 

Sampath Samarakoon | Convener(IMA)
@sampathslk


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by     (2017-11-15 04:07:23)

An Open Letter To The State Medical Students Of Sri Lanka

By Grusha Andrews –NOVEMBER 14, 2017
imageMore than 600 day have passed since the initiation of the self-imposed boycott of lectures and clinical training by the state medical students in Sri Lanka in protest to the SAITM. You may have done so in the spirit of safe guarding free education, as a follower of the herd, reluctantly or forced in to boycott. You have lost over six hundred days of the prime of your youth, the peak of your university education. Unlike other streams of study perhaps, medicine is not only a curriculum, it is an art. This art ought to be practiced frequently, diligently, religiously, and continuously for the sake of mankind. How you approach the continuity of your education will affect the safety of the public as much as protecting free education.
As a doctor, you will one day be called upon to make great sacrifices. Your noble profession will demand  these of you: great tolerance and equanimity; bearing unimaginable physical, mental and emotional hardship; common sense and grit; humanity and the ability to distance yourself from rhetoric; make calls of judgement, sometimes without all the evidence at hand.

I will not repeat the sequence of events and the collateral damage done to the students, patients, parents and the country at large by this issue since they are well known. Each fraction of the stakeholders have their own views and convictions. Each version, depending on whose telling the story is deplorable and is a depiction of the erosion of the rule of law and the failure of the system. It is a depiction of the sorry state of governance in general and the absence of a moral compass for national conscience.

You have spent a large part of your energy and time on the roads, public spaces and on social media reiterating your intellectual superiority to the SAITM students. Some of those claims are literally true. Yet, some arguments don’t hold water. However, there is one unshaken common chain that binds you forever to the SAITM students. That is the undeniable fact that both of you, the state student and the SAITM student are the victims of politicians or those with political ambition. You are both the victims of politicians who have made millions, perhaps billions in exchange to hope. Your struggle has now gone out of your hands in to the violent opportunists. You fought with all your might, hearts, toil and tears. You fought it with your youth, your education and the heartburn of your parents.

The government has given proposals to address the issues arising from this sordid, chronic, national issue. An imperfect political trap that has fed on the corruption of politicians, apathy of the SLMC and the relevant ministries can never generate perfect solutions. But I believe that these solutions address the salient issues. It is a road map, if followed, will bring forth some acceptable solutions. A decade old problem will not be solved overnight. The administrative and legal processes will take time to complete. Please be mature enough to understand that in the real world all problems cannot be solved at your youthful utopic pace.

Understand that even one more day of boycotting your education will only feed the hope of opportunistic politicians of using you as scapegoats for putrefying this problem, deviating from operationalizing the solutions. Your wasted youth does not matter to them. Understand that within the GMOA are grandiose presidential hopefuls and pipe dreamers who believe that they can ascend to power riding the horse of “defending free education”. They portray themselves as the Messiahs. But in reality they are parasites feeding on your idealism. Understand that among many well-meaning university professors are few ruthless men and women who claim your youth by pretending to be heroes. They believe that prolonging this problem will catalyze a change of government. In that Promised Land of an overthrown government lies their claim for power, position, vice chancellorships and irregular financial gain from a new government. If you go back to medical faculty tomorrow, their dream castles will come crashing down. So they really need to keep you out of university. 


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CID exposes 5 COPE members who had phone conversations with Aloysius

Badumkara-2017.11.16
November 16, 2017
It was revealed in the Presidential Commission to inquire into the Central Bank bond today (16th) that five members of the Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) have had telephone conversations with Arjun Aloysius.
This was revealed when two officers of the CID, who had carried out investigations in connection with the bond scam that had been committed when Mr. Arjun Mahendran was the Governor of the Central Bank, were summoned to the Commission to give evidence.
A report that included a document containing relevant telephone conversations was presented to the Commission by the CID.
Sujeewa Senasinghe, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Ajith P. Perera, Harshana Rajakaruna and Hector Appuhamy are COPE members who have had telephone conversations with Arjun Aloysius according to this report.
According to the information revealed by the CID Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera had talked over the telephone to Mr. Arjun Aloysius, the owner of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd., twice, the State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe had talked to the Perpetual Treasuries owner 62 times, Deputy Minister Ajith Perera twice, Parliamentarian Hector Appuhamy 23 times and Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna 23 times.
Among these five Messrs. Ajith P. Perera, Harshana Rajakaruna and Hector Appuhamy are members of the famous ‘footnote’ clique.

Sri Lanka: The Justice Ministry and UNICEF launched new report on justice

The new report provides recommendations to further strengthen the administration of justice for children in Sri Lanka.

( November 16, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), today launched ‘A Legal and Institutional Assessment of Sri Lanka’s Justice System for Children’, a new report that recommends a set of 27 key long and short term actions, that if implemented will further strengthen the administration of justice for children in Sri Lanka.
Attended by the Minister of Justice and Foreign Employment, Honourable Thalatha Atukorale, officials from government Ministries, UN Agencies, civil society organisations and the diplomatic community, the report provides a key insight into the justice system for children, and will act as a guide to ensuring the protection of children who are in contact and conflict with law.  Specifically, the report examines the existing legislative framework and institutional practices in Sri Lanka in terms of justice for children, and analyses its administration and enforcement.
“While Sri Lanka, particularly the Ministry of Justice has already initiated actions related to some areas which the report highlights – such as increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility as well as amending the Children Judicial Protection Bill (CJPB) to include the principle of best interest of the child as the predominant consideration in all matters related to the child, there remains areas for improvement that need to be addressed with utmost urgency” said the Honourable Thalatha Atukorale, Minister of Justice and Foreign Employment.
Of the insights provided by the report, there are two key areas that are identified for priority action. Firstly, addressing the lengthy judiciary processes that results in long delays in bringing children’s cases to trial. The report notes that it is common for cases to be so delayed that the child involved may have grown into adulthood by the time of hearing or conclusion. In instances of child abuse cases, delays in investigation process result in a severe backlog of cases. Secondly, addressing the high rates of long-term institutionalisation especially among children who are orphaned, disabled, or who come from poor and vulnerable communities and backgrounds. Children experiencing judiciary delays or who face long-term institutionalisation are prone to an increased risk of re-victimization, stigma and key rights violations.
Mr. Tim Sutton, Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka commented, “Ensuring that children are protected from harm – be it violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation – is vital and must be a priority for all.  Yet undoubtedly, a key mechanism to achieve this is the justice system. We must ensure that the justice system acts in the best interests of children, and that it responds in a timely and efficient way. This report provides us with key insights and recommendations to further build a system that protects one of the most vulnerable and important groups in our society – our children and young people. UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Sri Lanka in making these improvements a reality.”
To read the full ‘Legal and Institutional Assessment of Sri Lanka’s Justice System for Children’ report, visit www.unicef.lk

Increasing incidents of sword attacks in Jaffna

2017-11-16
I will bring to the attention of the Inspector General of Police the escalating sword attacks taking place in Jaffna, NPC Governor Reginald Cooray said.
He made the above comments at the media conference held at the NPC Governor’s Office yesterday.
The NPC Governor said that the sword attacks in Jaffna had increased and hence the issue will be brought to the attention of the IGP.
"I have also sent a letter to the President to relocate the security forces occupying the private lands to the Jaffna Fort," the NPC Governor said.
Meanwhile, the journalists posed a question to the Governor that the Jaffna Fort belonged to the Department of Archaeology and called for his comments. Responding to it he said that the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Sri Lanka Army and thereafter the LTTE had occupied the Fort and hence the question was irrelevant.
NPC Governor said that social activists will be awarded the Governor’s Award in the coming years. Awards were given by the Departments of Education and Sports Activities including the Chief Minister’s award in the past.
"Steps will be taken to give away awards to social activists, farmers, efficient government officials and employees in the coming years who had been deprived of such awards in the past. Certain members have donated their lands for public use towards the social progress. When we felicitate and honour them, many others too will come forward to make donations. The applications for the Governor’s Award could be obtained from the District Secretariat and return them duly filled," Governor Reginald Cooray said. (M. Roshanth)

FCID seeks AG’s advice on case against Namal and four others

 Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 15:58
The FCID sought Attorney General’s (AG) advice on future legal action to be taken against five suspects including Hambantota district MP Namal Rajapaksa for their involvement in money laundering amounting to Rs.15 million.
When the case filed under money laundering charges came up before Colombo Additional Magistrate Chandana Kalansuriya, the FCID said that the preliminary investigations regarding the incident have been concluded and sought AG’s advice in this regard.
Accordingly, further magisterial inquiry into the incident was fixed for April 26.
Four suspects Namal Rajapaksa, Sudarsha Bandara Ganewatta, Nithya Senani and Sujani Bogollagama were present before Court.
They are currently out on bail.
Meanwhile, the Court was informed that Indika Prabhath Karunajeewa who had evaded court since the inception is living in Australia.
The Court had issued warrants through the Interpol for the arrest of Indika Prabhath Karunajeewa.  
The FCID commenced investigation into a complaint that MP Namal Rajapaksa had purchased Hello Corp. Pvt. Ltd for Rs.100 million using ill-gotten funds of Gowers Corporation and NR Consultation Pvt Ltd, allegedly owned by Namal Rajapaksa.
The FCID informed Court that investigations revealed that MP Rajpaksa had been allegedly involved in money laundering to the amount of Rs. 15 million at NR Consultation Pvt Ltd and another Rs.30 million in Gowers Corporation Pvt Ltd, in 2012.
The Attorney General filed indictments in the Colombo High Court against Namal Rajapaksa and five others who are alleged to have money laundered to the amount of Rs.30 million at NR Consultation.  
Police alleged that money laundering transactions had been taken place through a company named Boston Capital, allegedly owned by Rohan Iriyagolla and he has revealed everything on this regard.
Samarasinghe alleged that MP Namal Rajapaksa had bought shares of a company named Hello Corp and set up a company called Gowers Corporate Services (Pvt) Limited while being a MP, from the Rs.125 million he earned through illegal means.

Buddha tattoo woman Naomi Coleman wins compensation

Naomi Coleman
AFP/GETTYImage captionNaomi Coleman was deported from Sri Lanka
BBC
15 November 2017
A woman who was deported from Sri Lanka for having a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm has won compensation.
Naomi Coleman, from Coventry, was detained for four days in April 2014.
Granting her compensation of 800,000 Sri Lankan rupees - about £4,000 - the country's Supreme Court said her treatment was "scandalous and horrifying" and ruled her rights had been violated.
Ms Coleman told the BBC Sinhala Service she was "overwhelmed" by the ruling.
Officers involved in her arrest were also ordered to pay her compensation.
Ms Coleman, a mental health nurse, took legal action against the Sri Lankan authorities after her return to the UK.
The court ruled there was "no legal basis" for her arrest and said she had been subject to "degrading treatment" by some officers and a prison guard.
In particular, one guard had "made several lewd, obscene and disparaging remarks of a sexually-explicit nature" towards Ms Coleman, while some police officers had forced her to give them money.

'Really frightened'

Her lawyer JC Weliamuna told the BBC her deportation had been "contrary to the law governing immigration and emigration".
Ms Coleman, who was arrested at Bandaranaike International Airport in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, said previously the detention had left her "really frightened".
She told the BBC on Wednesday she was "shocked" and "emotional" on hearing the news.
"Finally the court has actually seen it that I didn't do anything wrong," Ms Coleman said.
Asked whether she would go back to Sri Lanka, she replied: "I'm not sure, I don't know. Probably not.
"I'm very happy. I just wouldn't want it to happen to anybody else."
After an order was made to have her deported, Ms Coleman spent a night in prison in Negombo and two nights in a detention centre while security checks were carried out.
She said she told police she practised Buddhism and had attended meditation retreats and workshops in Thailand, India, Cambodia and Nepal.
Sri Lankan authorities take strict action against perceived insults to Buddhism, which is the religion of most of the island's Sinhalese population.