Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Factional Infighting in Both North and South Should not Undermine Opportunity For Political Solution

(Media release by National Peace Council)
Sri Lanka Brief31/12/2015
The government has declared its intention of prioritizing constitutional reform in the New Year.  Parliament is to be converted into a Constituent Assembly (parliamentary committee) that will deliberate on issues pertaining to a new constitution.  The government has also appointed a 24 member committee drawn from political and civil society leaders to obtain the views of the people and feed them back to the parliamentary committee. The promise to amend the constitution was made by government leaders at both the last presidential and general elections that took place in January and August of this year.  Their main pledge was to abolish the executive presidency and to change the electoral system from one based on proportional representation to a mixed system of proportional representation and first-past-the-post voting in which parliamentary seats would be apportioned in proportion to the total number of votes obtained by each of the political parties.  There is a general consensus in society about the need to reduce the power of individuals elected to power and to ensure their accountability.
However, amongst the key issues that will need to be part of the constitutional reform process is the issue of power sharing between the different ethnic and religious communities who, together, constitute the Sri Lankan nation.  At the regional level for this has been the demand since 1956 when the Sinhala Only Act was passed to make Sinhala the only national language.
Attempts to change or even soften this law at that time were not supported by the Sinhala majority. So deprived having the Tamil language as a national language the Tamil parties demanded devolution of power to regions to be demarcated linguistically.  This was opposed by the ethnic majority assuming it would lead to a federal state. This has been the most contentious issue in post-independent Sri Lanka.  Efforts made by previous leaders of government to tackle this problem from 1957 onwards floundered due to opposition from nationalist elements in the polity who roused the fears of the general population that it would mean the break up of the Sinhalese-dominated state.
The National Peace Council believes that the present period offers a unique and unprecedented opportunity to politically resolve the ethnic conflict once and for all, based on equity and justice.  This is due to the cohabitation of the two main political parties headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the National Unity Government.   Historically these two parties have never worked together to resolve the ethnic conflict.
Instead when one party sought to resolve the issue the other party took to the strets against the proposed solution. It is noteworthy that virtually all of the small political parties, whether ideology-based or ethnic and religious-based, are broadly supportive of the National Unity Government.  We note that the government has gone to the extent of postponing local government elections that might have been divisive in the context of the constitutional reform process.
We urge that the opportunity that now exists should not be undermined by factional infighting in both north and south.  It appears that this factional infighting is less about policy differences than about power struggles for inclusion in the political process and control.  We call on members of all political parties to start discussions within their parties and collectively towards a vision of Sri Lanka as a prosperous and united nation where the rights of all are safeguarded.

More land released for resettlement in Jaffna

Dec 31, 2015

President Maithripala Sirisena has directed the Sri Lanka Army to release 701.5 acres of land in two DS Divisions in the Jaffna district on a request made by Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation and
Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan.
According to Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy, 468.5 acres of land in Tellippalai and 233 acres of lands in Kopay DS divisions in the district have been released by the Sri Lanka Army in the resettlement process.
The 30 year war resulted in internally displaced families and the private lands owned by the people been occupied by the Armed Forces. With the cessation of the armed conflict in the country in May 2009, there was very little progress made in releasing the lands to the original occupants. In Jaffna there are 12,000 families still living either in welfare centres or with friends and relatives as their lands were not released for resettlement. The largest area of lands occupied by the Forces is in Tellipalai and Kopay D.S. Divisions.
Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M.Swaminathan submitted a Cabinet Memorandum dated 7th December 2015 requesting President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Cabinet of Ministers, for the release of private lands occupied by the Armed Forces for resettlement in the Jaffna district.
The details of the lands released include Kankesanthurai South, Palaiveemankamam North and Thaiyaddi South which covers 213.5 acres and Palaly South, Palaly East and PalalyNorth which covers 255 acres.
In Tellipalai D.S. Division 468.5 acres of private lands have been released. In Kopai D.S.Division, Valalai 233 acres occupied by the armed forces have been released. Accordingly, the total acres of land released are 701.5 acres. Further, it is noted that in the Kopay area almost 100% of the private lands have been released for resettlement.
Following discussion at a meeting held in President’s Office with the officers of the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Army Commander, District Secretary, Governor’s Office of Provincial Council and other authorities 701.5 acres of land was released. Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Ministry Secretary V.Sivagnanasothy informed that on December 29, 2015, the Divisional Secretary of Tellippalai and Kopay have already taken over the 701.5 acres of lands and commenced removal of fences.
This will enable the resettlement of over 700 families and provide livelihood opportunities through agricultural activities in the Jaffna District. Release of lands to the displaced families to resettle them in their original place of residence is a major milestone to ensure durable solution and establishing sustainable peace in the war affected Northern Province.
Further, the resettled families will be provided with resettlement allowance by the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs for land clearance, tool kits, food package and temporary shelter.
Further, the 65,000 housing programme initiated by Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Ministry D.M. Swaminathan will give first priority to the resettled families said Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy. These houses will have solar electricity, water, sanitation facilities and furniture.
Sivagnanasothy also stated that in addition to the 701.5 acres released now and in 2015 already 1000 acres of land from Jaffna, 500 acres from Kilinochchi and 1000 acres from Sampoor, Trincomalee and other small parcels of lands had been already released by the state for the resettlement of IDPs and returnees where they had lived previously. With the Christmas, New Year and Thai Pongal, this initiative demonstrates the good gesture on the part of the Government towards finding durable solutions for the conflict affected people in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. 

Hakeem and Sampanthan speaks about the problems of Tamil & Muslims

Hakeem and Sampanthan speaks about the problems of Tamil & Muslims

Lankanewsweb.netDec 31, 2015
A special discussion was held today 30th at the opposition leader’s office between the leader of Muslim Congress and Tamil National Alliance. A group representing the TNA and the leader of the opposition R. Sampanthan and a group representing the Muslim Congress and its leader Rauff Hakeem has participated.

Both parties has focused attention about the proposed constitution and discussed how to resolve the problems of their people with the new constitution.
Both parties have agreed to have more discussions in the future.
Strangely the media has gone mute on a rights bonanza 

Global Right to Information Rating Map

International organisations rate Sri Lanka RTI draft one of the best in the world 

As key beneficiaries, media should lead the process of deliberation 

The New Year that begins today will probably open a new chapter in the history of democracy in Sri Lanka with the legal acceptance of the people’s right to access information – and guaranteeing their rights to question the system. Sri Lanka will probably join the long list of countries that have provided its people this universal human right that had been denied for over a decade since it was first drafted.

   Some sectors of society still doubt the sincerity of the government in promulgating such laws. But, to my mind, it is now beyond any doubt. The leaderships of the government – both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe are committed to the cause and hopefully the draft bill would have a comfortable passage through the House within the first quarter of the year. If the same dynamics within Parliament remain intact as seen during the budget voting where it received a two-thirds majority, the RTI Bill would also go through comfortably.  As highlighted in one of my previous columns, there are three necessities with regard to the RTI in its entire process. The first is to have laws of international standards. The second is to establish a sound system of implementation of the law with proper human resources and effective mechanisms throughout the country. The third and most important factor is public awareness. If a farmer in a rural village does not know how to make use of this tool that strengthens his entire lifestyle, both the above factors become null and void. Also a father whose child had not been admitted to a deserving school should be able to question the system of his own rights. 

 On the first requirement, we have come closer to a decent end, yet with some reservations. The draft bill is now being deliberated in various quarters of society, but with a few engagements of the public. For the satisfaction of those who drafted the bill, many international rights organisations have  commended the document rating it among the best in the world.  According to the global RTI ratings of the Canadian based rights organisation -Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), it has received 120 marks out of 150. “This score puts the draft Act in a  respectable seventh position globally, below, Serbia, Slovenia, India, Liberia, El Salvador and Sierra Leone. Other strong performers from South Asia include the Maldives (116 points), Bangladesh (107 points) and Nepal (104 points),” said CLD in its assessment report on the draft bill. 

“Although Sri Lanka is a relative latecomer to this area – being the only country in South Asia apart from Bhutan that has yet to adopt an RTI law – we welcome the fact that Sri Lanka finally seems to be bringing to fruition a project that started nearly 14 years ago”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “Although the draft Act is robust, we hope that the relevant authorities will take advantage of this unique opportunity to introduce further improvements to it to create excellent RTI laws.

” The draft Act has a number of positive features, including a broad scope, a narrow regime of exceptions and a good package of promotional measures, he added. 

A spokesman for the global rights based entity Article 19 told this writer a couple of weeks ago in Yangon that they were struggling to find some loopholes in the law to make critical comments. “But we managed to find only three minor issues,” he said. In its official feedback, Article 19 hailed the draft Bill through carefully selected words which are usual when dealing with governments. “The draft Act has a number of excellent features,” said Thomas Hughes, its executive director. 

Both the CLD and Article 19 provided some inputs to a number of areas where further improvements were recommended. 

 In a similar effort, local civil society organisations are also deliberating the draft and attempting to bring suggestions before it is taken up in the House. For example, Transparency International Sri Lanka conducted several consultative rounds with different sectors of society in finalising  recommendations for amendments. Weak whistle-blower provisions, composition of the RTI commission, absence of an Indian like penalty system for delayed RTI requests, were among the concerns – both at local and international levels.  

However, having the best law in the world does not make any sense if that law is not properly implemented. 

All these attempts are to make a robust law and we are almost there, I hope, if something similar to the 19th Amendment does not occur due to heavy bargaining within the House. This may not be an issue given the present strength of the government displayed during the budget voting. But interestingly some key members of the pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa camp in Parliament are now reaching out to several civil society organisations offering their voices at the House for bringing “positive changes” in the Bill. Their concern is strange as they were the very people who vehemently blocked any move to bring this piece of legislation during the past few years. “Handle with Care” should be the motto when dealing with these characters.  But as I mentioned in my previous columns, the media is yet to provide space for deliberations on the draft or at least to generate a wider public discourse. Being key beneficiaries, the media should lead the process of deliberation, especially for the greater public interest. But it is dead silent. Strange enough, even the state media is not highlighting the achievement of the government in drafting a sound law. The passive Sri Lankan passive media landscape continues to mingle with day-to-day spicy events, rather than play a role for a better democracy in the country. 

CB Governor clears the air on dormant bank accounts

CB Governor clears the air on dormant bank accounts
logoDecember 31, 2015
Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran today refuted as ‘erroneous’ news reports claiming that bank accounts dormant for one year will be taken over by the Ministry of Finance. 
“I don’t know where this information was obtained by the newspaper concerned but that is completely erroneous. It is not based on any proposal I have seen,” he told reporters in Colombo. 
The Governor said that he has spoken to the Minister of Finance and he has underlined the fact that the normal procedure is that if bank accounts are dormant for 10 years, the monies traditionally have been transferred from the commercial banks to the Central Bank and kept in a special account which is then frozen and if the rightful owner comes back and claims their money it is returned to them. “That is the standard procedure.” 
What the Minister of Finance has suggested is that that money can be held in the Treasury in the consolidated fund instead of in the Central Bank, Mahendran said.
“I just want to make it clear that this story about dormant accounts becoming dormant after one year is not accurate at all.” 
He stated that all that’s happening is in a dormant account after 10 if somebody doesn’t have any transactions in their bank account typically the banks put that into a suspense account and if that persons comes back 20 or 30 years later he or she is still entitled to take those monies out. 
“So there is no concept of confiscation here. I want to make that clear. This is standard international practice what we call abandoned property,” he asserted.
Explaining further, he said, abandoned property is after 10 years you just move that to a suspense account because for banks to keep issuing statements and other logistical things is a cost. 
And to reduce those costs banks prefer to move those monies into a suspense account which typically lies with the Central Bank. But in this case the minister is saying that let’s put it into the Treasury, the Governor said. 
“But if the customer comes back to the bank and ask for their money back it will be given. So the bank will then ask the treasury to return those funds and that will be returned to the customers.” 
“At the moment they are with the Central Bank and we invest them in Treasury Bills so actually they go to the Treasury. So the saving for the Treasury is they won’t have to pay interest on these funds. They will keep it in the consolidated fund,” he added. 

Judge Hirunika Premachandra

By Nishthar Idroos –December 30, 2015
Nishthar Idroos
Nishthar Idroos
Colombo Telegraph
Unleashing extra-judicial acts by representatives of the people is nothing new to Sri Lanka. It has flourished for decades courtesy of our “law-abiding” legislators. Whoever gave the tagline “country like no other” to Sri Lanka must be endlessly sugar fed, congratulated and rewarded for his or her deep understanding of the Sri Lankan nation, its polity and culture.
More I see this signature more hilarity it induces in me. This in no way is an attempt to discount Sri Lanka’s true and natural beauty. As a breadth taking salubrious destination blessed with impeccable weather, the island nation is a must visit to anyone with the means. Its people warm and hospitable as always. Its politicians a confirmed rarity on account of many reasons namely beliefs, personality, conditioning, priorities, educational qualifications, discipline or the lack of it. Most have acquired anecdotal fame.
About Sri Lankas politicians you’re warned of the danger or pleasure of courting with insanity. I was recently telling someone there’re characters in the current Sri Lankan parliament and before characters if only carefully comprehended, contemplated and creatively expressed million dollar masterpieces would abound and I am not kidding.
HirunikaAfter nauseating performances by multitudes of the species, news surfaces of a comely lass heralding from suburban Colombo, a lawyer, elected to parliament just under a year, getting into that infamous, inevitable and irresistible act most of the species fall prey to. The much publicized banner of Yahapalanaya or good governance received another nasty blow.Read More

Video: Elections should be held for the country & people, not to solve internal issues of political parties

Various factions in the government itself come out with various views regarding the local government elections. The President says the election cannot be held due to defects in the electoral system. The Prime Minister stated in Parliament that the election would be held before April. The government doesn’t have a single view. The election is put off due to such crises in the government. As a result people lose the opportunity to elect their representatives to local government councils.

Some may say there needn’t be any excitement as it is a minor election. However, local government bodies are the institutions that are involved more than any other bodies to fulfill people’s day to day needs. Local government bodies are needed to repair the culvert, to get street lights fixed and such matters. At present many local government councils do not have any people’s representatives. Many local councils are under commissioners. However, commissioners are not close to the people. It is difficult to present people’s issues to them or forward a proposal. When elections to local government councils were postponed by one year during the ‘100 day government’ we thought the issue would be solved within a year. However, we cannot allow the elections to be postponed further,” says the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva speaking at a media briefing held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta today (29th).  The Member of the Central Committee of the JVP and Western Provincial Councilor Lakshman Nipunarachchi too was present.

Speaking further Mr. Tilvin Silva said, “As a result of postponing elections several issues have come up in local government councils. The President extended the period of 21 councils that were to end their period in December by 6 months. Also, the role of the councils that were dissolved earlier is not certain. As a result of extending the period of the 21 councils the period of other councils too would have to be extended.

The period of many of these councils ended in March. Then the ‘100 day government’ was in power. The councils were dissolved and they were put under commissioners. At that time the government stated that the elections would be held within a year. Accordingly, the elections have to be held in March, 2016. In such an environment, postponing elections by 6 more months is disputable. Where upon the elections that have been postponed by one year would be put off by another 6 months. Considering democracy and people’s right for elections continuously postponing the elections is unjustifiable. The JVP opposes postponing elections based on issues that exist in the electoral system. The government has no right to postpone election in this manner.

Also, various factions in the government itself come out with various views regarding the local government elections. The President says the election cannot be held due to defects in the electoral system. The Prime Minister stated in Parliament that the election would be held before April. The government doesn’t have a single view. The election is put off due to such crises in the government. As a result people lose the opportunity to elect their representatives to local government councils.

Some may say there needn’t be any excitement as it is a minor election. However, local government bodies are the institutes that are involved more than any other bodies to fulfill people’s day to day needs. Local government bodies are needed to repair the culvert, to get street lights fixed and such matters. At present many local government councils do not have any people’s representatives. Many are under commissioners. However, commissioners are not close to the people. It is difficult to present people’s issues to them or forward a proposal. When elections to local government councils were postponed by one year during the ‘100 day government’ we thought the issue would be solved within a year. However, we cannot allow the elections to be postponed further.

Why does the government want to postpone elections? Various factions within the government have their own agendas. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and his group want a new system to hold elections. However, the UNP likes the old system. The new system is one that was brought when Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power and one that would give them an advantage.  It has been prepared   combining the Proportional Representation (PR) and the First Past the Post (FPP) system. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his group used their power to re-demarcate electorates to their advantage. There are several issues regarding the demarcation process. As such, a Commission was appointed to find out faults. The Commission admitted that the demarcation was not scientific and there were several faults. Certain divisions were demarcated according to the cast system giving an advantage to Rajapaksas. In certain divisions Grama Seva areas had been divided. President Maithripala Sirisena and Nimal Siripala de Silva have admitted there were errors in the proposals. Hence, these errors should be corrected. A new commission should be appointed for demarcation. Also, there are many defects in Local government Act. Amendment s should be made to correct them. These issues should be solved. However, the elections should not be postponed due to the defects of the new system.

We propose that the local government elections should be held at the due time. If the new system is a hindrance the election should be held according to the old system. Also, we say the issues that exist in the proportional representation system such as preferential voting system should be removed. If a new electoral system is introduced people’s wishes should be reflected in it.

Meanwhile, the government states a new constitution would be introduced. The government has decided to appoint a committee for this and get people’s views. If a new constitution is introduced it should compulsorily include a new electoral system. The local government election system cannot be used for all elections. Hence, a common electoral system that is suitable for all kinds of elections should be entered to the constitution. We say if the government is concerned about the country and people and act wisely a common electoral system should be adopted. It should be framed having good features of both proportional system as well as the first past the post system. Elections need not be held with a hap hazard manner. Elections need not be held just because certain political parties are in a haste to have elections, due to hunger for power or to solve internal issues of political parties.
When elections are held for such reasons other crises are created. Elections should be held for the country and the people. This is why a common electoral system is necessary.

Throughout the history of our country when electoral systems or constitutions are framed they had been done according to the wishes and the advantage of the ruling party but not according to the needs of the country. Mr. J.R. Jayawardene framed the proportional representation system to protect the votes the UNP polled in 1970. Later, when it boomeranged on the UNP and was a disadvantage they also started talking about a new system. When framing a new electoral system issues regarding communities, women’s representation. Hence, a system should be framed that would be acceptable for all. There are defects in the existing proportional representation system. They are the results of the shortsightedness of the rulers of this country. Several issues have come up in all areas due to local government bodies do not fulfill their services properly. There are no people’s representatives in local bodies for the people to put forward their issues. Hence, we demand the government to hold the local government elections before April next year. It could be held according to the old system. When a new constitution is framed a new electoral system too could be framed. The government should take measures to get views of all for such a task. The JVP has already handed over its proposals. It is difficult to hold an election by attempting to correct errors in a few months. For, political parties would need at least six months or a year to prepare their machinery for an election when a new system is introduced. It is a matter accepted by the Commissioner of Elections as well as in other countries. The government ignoring such examples is regrettable.
Three including 2 cops shot at in Kelaniya

Two policemen and a car driver who were shot at by a man at Bulugaha Junction in Kelaniya were admitted to the National Hospital this afternoon, Police said. 

They said a car and a lorry had collided at the junction before the police officers arrived at the scene. 

“The two drivers had come to an agreement but a man from among the crowd gathered near the junction had shot at the car driver. The injured car driver had fled the scene. When the police officers arrived to check on the accident, the man had shot at the policemen as well and fled the scene,” police said. 

‘Sira the Bra’ uses his Madu walge : Black lists Company of Sanga –Mahela !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News - 31.dec.2015, 6.00PM) President ‘Sira the Bra’  making full use of his madu walge (Ray fish tail) has blacklisted ‘Light Events Ltd.’ Co. belonging to Sangakkara and Mahela which organized the Singer Enrique’s musical concert through the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). 
This blacklisting is  a sequel to the non payment of entertainment tax of Rs. 29 million by the Co. to the CMC. However a spokesman for the Co. argued  , the entertainment tax cannot be that high .
Maithripala Sirisena who was infuriated over the young woman who threw a brassiere she was wearing or brought from home at Enrique , and the other woman who leapt on to the stage and kissed and hugged Enrique shamelessly in public , recently directed his criticism not against the young women but against the Co. that organized the show. He said in a fit of rage that the organizers  should be lashed with the Madu walge. Sira’s rage  , bra age  , and his bara -bara notwithstanding , the more significant fact is , both his son and son in law  attended the concert which Lanka e news always first with the news and best with the views reported for the first time. 
President,  after the Lanka e news reported for the first time  about his son and son in law attending the concert ,not knowing  in which direction to turn after he became the target of criticism from all quarters ,in a fit of insanity turned his spite against the internet news media and questioned angrily  ‘  The freedom you are requesting, is it to walk on the road nude ?’and firmly said, ‘No , cannot allow you to walk on the road nude’ 
When president was making his usual oblique and off the track statements , the internet media questioned, ‘are you going to lash your son and son in law  with madu walge  who attended the show?’;  and, why are you going to remote Amparai to blabber before the innocent Aparai people  ‘without calling the daughter of your  Air force commander who misbehaved and warning her over her most shameful and disgraceful behavior?’ 
Without talking anything in that regard  , the president is  blabbering about going on the road nude , and questioning about its freedom when nobody had spoken about that , has necessitated the internet media to use the nickname ‘Sira the Bra’ on  the president . When a child too is fond of a toy that child also always talks about that toy out of place and out of point.
It is very unfortunate the president has forgotten that it was the internet media ,and the majority of voters for him were the youngsters who accessed the internet media  that  steered him to the presidential throne and installed him  as president .
by     (2015-12-31 12:51:12)

A Lookback On 2015: May You Live In Interesting Times

By Yudhanjaya Wijeratne –December 31, 2015
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
Colombo Telegraph
They say the Chinese have a curse: may you live in interesting times.
We Sri Lankans have definitely been cursed by the Chinese. This isn’t just a pun on the Port City: In the space of one year we, as a nation, have toppled a dictatorship, installed another one, cried out against Saudi Arabia and argued passionately the subject of bras being thrown at concerts. We’ve watched from afar as the specter of war spread throughout the world. We’ve battled inflation, corruption, and idiots crossing the street. Interesting times, indeed.
I can’t deny that much of it’s been disappointing, especially the political situation. While still nowhere near as bad as the Rajapakse regime, the current government seems to be well on its way to proving that the leopard is truly incapable of changing its spots. But all that aside, as the year draws to a close, I’d like to make a few notes:
  • Sri Lanka is (still) not a truly multicultural society, but we’re getting better
Sinha LeConsider the current situation: certain parts and social circles of Colombo are multicultural, but the rest of the country is a mess. Pockets of “Sinha Ley” Buddhists over there, pockets of visually segregated Muslims over here, the Hindus hanging out doing their own thing over there, Catholics in their own communities over here, and so on. People only really associate within their bubbles, and assimilate only with reluctance.Colombo is a good example: Colombo 03, 04 and 07 are multi-cultural, and the rest of the city is largely racially segregated into communities. In the same way that Kandy is largely Sinhala Buddhist turf, Dehiwala, Wellawatte and Attidiya are Hindu / Muslim. While culturally diverse, we haven’t really melded together that well.That’s largely a problem of mentality. Right now, we seem to be in a curious limbo where we’re celebrating our differences more than our similarities. Case in point, the current crop of “Sinha Ley” stickers.Read More
Two factories on fire on New Year’s Eve

Two factories in Ja Ela and Kiribathgoda were gutted by fires last night that caused extensive damage to their property. 

A fire broke out at the Nagindas Garment Factory in Ekala, Ja Ela at around 7.30pm yesterday. It was brought under control within a couple of hours by the Fire Brigade with the help of  the people in the area. 

The cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained and no casualties were reported, the Police Media Unit said.

 Meanwhile, a plastic goods manufacturing plant in Wedikanda in Kiribathgoda was also gutted by fire.

 Several fire engines were dispatched by the Colombo Fire Brigade, and the firemen are engaged in fighting the fire at the moment. 
No casualties have been reported so far. 

MPs won’t receive Rs 20,000 sitting allowance –Speaker

MPs won’t receive Rs 20,000 sitting allowance –Speaker

Lankanewsweb.netDec 31, 2015
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday ruled out the possibility of members of parliament being paid a staggering daily attendance allowance of Rs. 20,000 beginning next year instead of the current Rs. 500.

Asked whether the government would grant such a huge payment regardless of strong resentment expressed by sections of the public, Speaker Jayasuriya said: "Of course, various people have made suggestions pertaining to perks and privileges enjoyed by members of parliament. However, Parliament will not approve such a huge payment as attendance allowance."
Parliament comprises 225 members with ruling UNP-SLFP coalition commanding a two-thirds majority.
The Speaker has recently expressed serious concern over MPs poor attendance vis-a-vis an astounding Rs. 4.6 mn spent per sitting. The veteran politician said the public would certainly resent a colossal attendance allowance.
Parliament meets eight days a month. Implementation of the proposed Rs. 20,000 daily allowance will enable an MP to receive approximately Rs.1,760,000 for 11 months.
If the sitting allowance is increased to Rs. 20,000 per day attendance during the budget debate will enable each MP to receive about 500,000.
Responding to a query, Speaker Jayasuriya emphasized the pivotal importance of the operation of Oversight Committees as well as Independent Committees established in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Speaker Jayasuriya functions as Chairman of the Constitutional Council.
The National List MP said that in addition to suggestions pertaining to daily allowance, there had been talk on duty free vehicle permits made available to members of parliament.
Speaker said that several persons had raised the matter regarding enhanced attendance allowance for members of parliament subsequent to media reports in that regard.
- The Island -

Global competitiveness and Sri Lanka

The Global Competitiveness Report compiled by the World Economic Forum is an annual analysis of economies around the globe, paying attention on key factors and their inter-relations of each country's economic growth and present &future prosperity. This analytical report has been in production for the past 35 years. Sri Lanka stands at the 68th rank out of 140 economies in 2015-16 index. In 2014-15 Sri Lanka was in 73rd position, out of 144 economies.

Women in 2016

Women’s empowerment is visible not only in the developed but also in the developing world. “The immediacy of experience,” is becoming a part of women reclaiming the meaning of their lives mainly through work. This phenomenon could no longer be sidelined as “feminism.”
by Victor Cherubim
( January 1, 2016, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Knowing what you want happen in 2016 or the future is as unpredictable as the weather in Britain or around the world. But reliable forecasters predict 2016 as the “Year of Women”. From boardroom to bedroom, the suggestion is women will play a dominant, perhaps not a domineering role around the world. Is it a forecast, or will happen? Consider government policy on future interest rates in US, or monetary policy in IMF, geopolitical events today, the price of oil or the extent of growth in China, women are the decision makers. This change has been in the making over years and it has come.
Women in the news
With Hilary Clinton running to be the first female President of the United States, or Antonia Kirkland to be elected as the first woman Secretary General of the United Nations in its 70 year history, or Mother Teresa getting a new name and elevated by Pope Francis, as Saint Teresa, in sport or supremacy in war, women will no doubt be a force to reckon in the New Year.
Take Sport for instance, Simone Biles will take Gold in Gymnastics at Rio Olympics; the US Women’s Soccer team is expected to win Gold to take the World Cup and Olympics Gold in back to back years. In the war against ISIS, it is women who are winning the war and who will capture Mosul?
In the diplomatic scene too, we note a landmark “Comfort Women” Agreement signed between Japan and South Korea due to the persistent claim by women. Besides, strengthening women’s access to justice has taken up much time at the recent UN sessions at New York. Many would have noted the number of women delegates among the 195 nations participating in discussion at Paris Climate Change Conference. It is not conjecture that all 195 nations unanimously signed the agreement thanks to the role of women behind the scenes.
Why Women?
2016 in China is the Year of the Monkey. But in China women have all along played a lead. Xi Mingze, only child and daughter of President Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan, who graduated from Harvard in 2014 and has since returned to China, may well be in the news? Chathurika Sirisena has vowed to solve the problems of Mahawelithenna, Polonnaruwa? and so are other women around the world, slowly but surely taking centre stage, in most walks of life and why not?
One group of women battling Islamic State, which we hardly read about, is the YIG, the Kurdish Women’s Protection Unit. Rumour has that “to be killed by a woman doesn’t lead to martyrdom, but to damnation forever.” These female soldiers don’t take orders from male commanders, though they are allowed to command men.
Women’s empowerment
2016 will be another great year for “Stand up for Scotland” First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Everyone knows she and the SNP will win in May 2016, the question is simply the margin of victory that will sweep her party back to power.
Women’s empowerment is visible not only in the developed but also in the developing world. “The immediacy of experience,” is becoming a part of women reclaiming the meaning of their lives mainly through work. This phenomenon could no longer be sidelined as “feminism.”
There are of course, Lists of Women, “rich women, impressive women, beautiful women, sexy women and women to watch,” but the Telegraph quotes the BBC Radio 4 Power List of 100 Women and Her Majesty, The Queen has come out top, not because she is “powerful, but the kind of power she wields is soft power”. I will allow the reader to decide the difference.
2016 a defining Year for United Kingdom
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first monarch in Britain to have lived to 90 years on 21 April 2016.It will be marked throughout the country and throughout the Commonwealth in a number of different ways, with street parties and a huge party in the Mall, Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral and an extravaganza will be staged from 12 -15 May 2016 in Home Park, Windsor Castle.
I need hardly mention that Her Majesty has seen more Prime Ministers come and go more world leaders. There is none to match Her Majesty for having more, done more, or will do more.

Young Palestinian patriot cut down by Israeli bullet

Palestinian youths confront Israeli occupation forces near Beit El on 11 November. Mahmoud Alayan was fatally wounded during the protest.Shadi HatemAPA images

Mahmoud Alayan

31 December 2015
Mahmoud Alayan was a Fatah party supporter and an active member of its campus chapter at his school.
He was also an implacable opponent of the status quo in occupied territory to which a Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority clings.
Young Palestinian patriot cut down by Israeli bullet.odt by Thavam Ratna