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, June 30, 2016


HRC 32  June 2016 ©Sunanda Deshapriya-031

Sri Lanka Brief30/06/2016

Oral Statement Delivered by R. Iniyan Ilango, on behalf of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) at HRC 32.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016.

Mr. President, we note the High Commissioner’s update on Sri Lanka and welcome his report on Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Burma/Myanmar.

On Sri Lanka we welcome cooperation with Special Procedures and the High Commissioner; and the ratification of the Conventions on Enforced Disappearances and Disabilities. We recognise the ease in threats to fundamental freedoms across the country, but remain concerned about continuing incidents, particularly in the North and East. We echo the High Commissioner’s call to swiftly address continuing allegations of violations such as arbitrary arrest, torture and sexual violence, as well as more general military surveillance and harassment.  We condemn the continued use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and call on the government to repeal it immediately. We also share the High Commissioner’s concerns on the lack of progress in releasing civilian lands and call for reversing disproportionate military deployment in the North and East.

We concur with the High Commissioner’s assessment on accountability mechanisms and call on the government to fully include international judges, lawyers and prosecutors in a judicial mechanism for accountability. We are alarmed at backtracking on this key commitment in resolution 30/1 by the President and the Prime Minister.  We call on the government to enact legislation for all transitional justice mechanisms it had committed to by 2016, after broad and inclusive consultations with all stakeholders.

Understanding Ragging As A Social Phenomenon

Colombo TelegraphBy Kumudu Kusum Kumara –June 29, 2016
Dr. Kumudu Kusum Kumara
Dr. Kumudu Kusum Kumara
Understanding Ragging As A Social Phenomenon, An Interpretation: In Search Of Sociality & Leadership
Ragging of freshers in the University becomes a problem in the eyes of the collective, due to its “inhuman nature” involving a “disturbingly high degree of physical and mental harassment” as it has been highlighted. Various measures recommended by authorities seasonally to deal with the problems of ragging highlight the enormity and the gravity of the problem as perceived by the collective. All the same, the measures we adopt in “combating” it should be conceived and applied with great care, so as not to repress merely the superficial aspects of the problem while preserving its roots intact. That would cause a re-emergence of ragging in even worse forms than are now prevalent.
Ragging: Problem or Solution?
While the collective perceives ragging as a problem for which solutions have to be sought, ironically, in my view, ragging itself may be understood as a collective solution by those who engage in it to problems of a different kind.
I suggest that the issue which lies at the heart of ragging is sociality. The critics view the behaviour of those who engage in ragging as anti-social; they violate by force the self of the individuals who are ragged and therefore social norms and even the law. This is to say, basically, they lack sociality.
From the perspective of those who engage in ragging and those who approve of it, the specific purpose of ragging is achieving sociality; seniors getting to know the freshers, and introducing them to the traditions of the University which they have entered. A senior’s role then, is to lead the freshers, however unfortunately for the latter, by ragging them.
The question whether the freshers should not be encouraged to rag the seniors to get to know them is not even considered, making taking the lead in ‘getting to know’ the prerogative of the seniors. Or is it considered the entitlement of the host initiating getting to know the visitor? Also, in this case, the burden of deciding the “traditions” of society is squarely taken on the shoulders of the seniors alone.
I wish to suggest that the problem for which ragging is considered a solution by the university student population is their innermost felt need to become leaders and their inability to achieve it.
The University students are taken to constitute the intellectual cream of the country. From a young age they have been made to believe by the society that higher education is the gateway to leadership.
There is an argument that given the bankruptcy of the economy, and the control of the private sector over the job market that make the university educated youth an unwanted element, it is the privations and intense frustrations staring them in the face, that make university students take to ragging. However, to treat them as acting out in this manner is to take them as blind to their reality and thus deny them human agency whereas the interpretation attempted in this article considers ragging is perceived by the students as a course of action taken to address their plight.
A long way in a short time, but more needs to be done - Hugo Swire

Hugo Swire Tamil Guardian 30 June 2016

Writing in the Tamil Guardian today, the UK Minister of State for Asia, Hugo Swire recognised progress made by the Sri Lankan government but said "much more remains to be done" in the country. 

Expressing agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' oral update on Sri Lanka, Mr Swire highlighted the need for further land releases, repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the development of credible justice processes, in consultation with victims and families in Sri Lanka and the diaspora. 

The full text of Mr Swire's op-ed follows: 

A long way in a short time, but more needs to be done

Sri Lanka has come a long way since President Sirisena’s election in January 2015. I have been struck by the progress made. No one should underestimate the challenge of dealing with the legacy of a 30 year conflict.  Sri Lanka is in a far better place now than even the most optimistic could have imagined, only 18 months ago. Yet much remains to be done.
It is encouraging that, in a marked change of approach to that of its predecessor, Sri Lanka’s Government has begun to work with the international community, rather than against it. This was shown most clearly last October, when Sri Lanka co-sponsored an historic resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. 
In that resolution, the Government agreed to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights. It accepted many of the recommendations made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It committed itself to a comprehensive approach to deal with the past, and to restore confidence in the institutions of the State. 
The UK welcomed this. We have encouraged the Government to stay the course and to implement fully its UN commitments. We have supported it through targeted UK funding. 
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ed El Hussein, recently delivered his first report of progress to the UN Human Rights Council. I agree strongly with his assessment.  Sri Lanka has taken some encouraging steps towards implementing some of its commitments. 
There have been significant steps on the return of some military-occupied land to civilians. There is an improved human rights environment. The Sri Lankan Government has instituted a constitutional reform process which will consider the devolution of political authority. It has tabled a Bill to establish an Office for Missing Persons, and set up bodies to design and consult on a wider framework for truth and justice.  
The Sri Lankan Government’s renewed engagement with the UN means that Sri Lanka now has access to international expertise. The recent visits by UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on the Independence of Judges, together with NGO reports, have highlighted areas of concern.  Shortcomings must be addressed, but it is encouraging that the Government is willing to engage and has committed to act.
The High Commissioner also set out very clearly the need for a comprehensive strategy to help coordinate, integrate and sequence future progress.  This needs to be supported by a concerted public information campaign, public consultations and, a respected and closely engaged National Human Rights Commission. 
As a friend of Sri Lanka, it is important that the UK is prepared to discuss these difficult issues. 
More land returns will be essential, both as a confidence-building measure and to allow for resettlement. This needs to be accompanied by adequate housing and support for resettled communities.  The UK will continue its support for demining and for housing and resettlement through our contributions to multilateral agencies. 

We will also continue to encourage the government of Sri Lanka to prioritise the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and to reform the security sector. It must address all reports of sexual and gender-based violence and torture. 
Constitutional reform that delivers on the commitment to devolve political authority will be crucial for Sri Lanka’s long term governance and prosperity. This will require courageous and determined political leadership.
We hope the Sri Lankan Government will continue to engage with the UN and that the Office of Missing Persons will soon be established. It must develop credible processes for truth, justice and reparation, based on consultations with victims and their families, in Sri Lanka and the diaspora. Witnesses need to be protected. The UK will provide support where we can.
Sri Lanka has come a long way in a short time, and it is encouraging that the Government recognises more needs to be done. I welcome High Commissioner Zeid’s assessment of what has been achieved, and note his call for tangible progress in the coming months.  The Sri Lankan Government will need to continue to make the case for why reconciliation with the past is so important for a shared future. I hope the people of Sri Lanka, and its friends, seize this unique opportunity to put Sri Lanka on a sustainable path to stability, growth and equality for all.


( Sri Lanka Delegation to the HRC 32)

Sri Lanka Brief30/06/2016
A number of countries voiced their support for the High Commissioner’s oral update today and re-asserted their commitment to ensuring full implementation of Resolution 30/1. While welcoming the positive steps taken by the Sri Lankan government, several countries expressed concern with ongoing human rights violations and the pace of progress.

The need for international participation.

Many countries specifically reiterated the necessity of international participation in a judicial mechanism as per the Resolution.

“International participation in the accountability mechanism will…be important in ensuring that the process is both credible and perceived as such by all sides in line with the October commitments,” said the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union.

In addition to pointing to the need for international judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and investigators in a judicial mechanism, Estonia once again called on the Sri Lankan government to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Stressing operative paragraph 6, Norway said:

“It is further our expectation that Sri Lanka adheres to OP 6 in the resolution, regarding the planned judicial mechanism to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and of the importance of participation in the judicial mechanism of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators.”

Macedonia also stated the importance of international participation in the form iterated by the Resolution, as did Ireland.

Canada reiterated that international involvement in a judicial mechanism was importance to “enhance its credibility, especially to victims.”

The need for tangible steps on human rights violations
The United States encouraged Sri Lanka to make continued tangible steps in fulfilling their commitments under the Resolution.

“Protecting human rights in this post-conflict context is central, and we urge Sri Lanka to work to further improve the human rights situation, especially in the North and East,” said Denmark.

Ghana for example, noted that it remained concern about issues regarding the release of lands and detainees, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a failure to address witness and victim protection laws, and continued allegations of arbitrary arrests, torture/sexual violence and military surveillance. Ghana then called on the UN to remain engaged in Sri Lanka and continue providing assistance.

The United Kingdom urged the Sri Lankan government to release more land, repeal the PTA as soon as possible, devolve political authority through constitutional reform, and improve witness protection.

Estonia called on the Sri Lankan government to take “substantive steps” to address sexual violence and other abuses against women and children, violence against LGBT groups, disappearances and arbitrary detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Switzerland also noted that the Sri Lankan government had failed to take certain immediate steps such as the full return of land and addressing the witness protection act.

Germany called on the Sri Lankan government once again to repeal the PTA.

Need to increase pace of progress
New Zealand noted the need to move quickly on reconciliation and devolution especially for Tamil communities in the North-East.

The Republic of Korea also pointed to speed and encouraged Sri Lanka not to lose momentum and to cooperate with the UN mechanisms.

“We are fully aware that the processes of accountability and reconciliation require time, but the existing opportunity should not be prolonged indefinitely,” said Macedonia.

Importance of consultations

Members of the Council also pointed to national consultations as an important indicator for Sri Lanka’s progress, with Japan stating they would be paying very close attention to them.

Switzerland called on the Sri Lankan government to show greater transparency in developing transitional justice mechanisms.

“All initiatives for reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka should continue to be based on inclusive consultations with victims, civil society and the general population,” said Norway.

Ultimately, countries repeatedly stated the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to accountability and justice, and the need for full implementation of the Resolution. As stated by Denmark, though there is increased engagement by Sri Lanka with the UN, there is still much work to be undertaken and the government must show strong leadership to improve the human rights situation in the North-East.

– Tamil Guardian

Transforming The Political Culture: Illusion To Reality

Colombo Telegraph
By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera –June 28, 2016 
Asanga Abeygoonasekera
Asanga Abeygoonasekera
Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.” ~ Voltaire
A singular significant achievement of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was the passing of the Right to Information Bill few days ago, a decade overdue. This is the scaffolding to preserve people’s democratic values and build the tower of democracy. With this in full operation the citizen will soon wake up to a nation that is transparent in its actions- to a greater extent than before. An ordinary individual could now question and ask the details of the brand and what kind of vehicle each MP imported from their permits, you could question the Ministries on what happens to the allocated funds for a project, you could strengthen crowd sourced website against corruption such as ipaidabribe and you could question a politician who has spent lavishly at an election. This is a great achievement for the entire media industry particularly for the investigative journalist. If late Lasantha Wickrematunge was alive he would have celebrated this moment. RTI is the modern day Magna Carta which channels out the power from authoritarian centered rule and pass it to ordinary individuals. RTI would have been an impossible task during the previous Rajapaksa regime who believed in a different set of values, particularly in the post war years.
Auditor General and State Institutes
With RTI, it is important also to strengthen and question the misappropriations of the state institutions that are running at major losses in this country. For this process one of the most important departments is the Auditor Generals Department. A nation with a weak political culture where the Minister’s could fire officers at their own will ,use state resources the way they want, a story common in the last few decades in our political history. The new government should focus to strengthen the auditor general’s department. In many government institutions’ financial abuse, waste and fraud are revealed by Auditor General and examined further by COPE and PAC. During a debate at SLBC with the former auditor general Mayadunne with vast experience I understood the integrity and value of this individual and the role he could play in Parliament. More than debating we agreed on most points such as importance of strengthening state institutions a core area we have neglected for many years. After the debate I wished him that he would enter Parliament as we need people of this caliber to formulate policy for our nation, but unfortunately I learned he was appointed as a Member of Parliament from national list from JVP but resigned soon after due to a party decision to accommodate another.

Culture and Poverty in our Neo Liberal Economy

Photo courtesy Amantha Perera/IPS news

KUSAL PERERA on 06/30/2016

In this neo liberal or free market global economy, Sri Lanka was counted as a country moving into the middle income group with an annual per capita income of 3,230 US dollars by the of the year 2014. It was expected to reach 4,400 US dollars by the end of this year (2016). In 2014 this was equivalent to Rs.436,050 and for a month, amounted to Rs.36,337 per person. In Sri Lanka, if every person had that income, there would not be beggars on the streets. There would not be “Samurdhi” recipients in villages. There are beggars at every street corner and Samurdhi recipients in every village. Though termed “per capita”, the majority is excluded from enjoying that income.

Neo-liberal economics distorts the living picture of poverty. The “poverty line”, GDP, inflation and foreign debt are mere “numbers” on paper. In real life they have no relevance to the majority. Life with the majority is quite a struggle. With a Rs. 2,500 increase from May 2016, the minimum wage in the private sector is Rs.13,500 only. The apparel sector alone has over 412,000 workers of which 85 per cent are female workers. They have to meet very high targets arbitrarily fixed by management, work compulsory overtime each day and sweat through a whole month to collect a “take home” pay of Rs.16,000 to 18,000 per month. This certainly is less than half the per capita income that Sri Lanka is said to enjoy.

This much sweated for income of less than Rs. 20,000 if compared to the basic needs of a family, is again less than half the Rs.40,887 required as the last “Household Income and Expenditure” survey of the Census and Statistics Department in 2012 September shows. The survey based on data collected on 1] demography 2] school education 3] health 4] food and non food items (like clothing, travel, electricity, kerosene, house rent) 5] family income 6] permanent assets 7] access to local facilities and household debt 8] details about the house and 9] cultivations and animal husbandry, says the average monthly income of an individual is only Rs.11,932, making the dollar per capita calculation a joke. In a family where there are two persons making a living and (as in almost all instances) the two don’t have equal income, the average monthly household income is Rs.25,778. Again, almost Rs. 15,000 less than the required minimum income for a basic family life.

In these calculations, “poverty” is all about a “consumer life” on a Rupees and Cents scale. That consumer life is one major struggle for the majority who don’t and cannot earn even the minimum required Rs. 40,000 per month. This is more than truth in rural life. Over 53 per cent of children under 05 years in rural society are malnourished, which leads to stunted growth. Rural culture doesn’t talk of nourishment, but of filling the belly. It is on this rural “culture” that most politicians argue, people don’t die of starvation in Sri Lanka. A whole family can live on a “Jak fruit” they say. This rural culture allows for poverty to go unchallenged in a heavily competitive free market.

The most important issue is, the monthly income used for calculations on poverty is not based on an income on a 08 hour working day. Calculations are done on the total income a person earns at the end of the month. The gross income accounted for therefore includes “overtime” done each day, work on holidays and some who do even part time work for extra income. Accepting such a monthly income reduces human life to one that exists purely for consumption with basic living and nothing more. All “Citizens” are turned into mere “Consumers” to live within a competitive market economy. The struggling “consumers” are thus denied time for a decent “cultural” life. In short, this crude acceptance of human life as just a “consumer” denies the citizen his or her “right to culture” and “cultural rights”.

“Urbanisation” and neo liberal “impotence”

Human beings are “cultural” beings with intellectual activities. The development of art, music, dance, architecture, cuisine, etc., are all part of civilisation with intellectual curiosity. Human life ispent in making a livelihood that only provides for a basic life, with no free time for intellectual indulgence and cultural engagements, is a life lived in poverty. Thus “poverty” has to be calculated with due recognition given to “right to culture” and “cultural rights” in addition to economic numbers and terms.

Unfortunately, over 37 years of moulding within a very competitive free market, has made almost all think and accept “freedom of choice” on the shop shelf as part of “democratic” living. A larger majority have accordingly attuned themselves to keep competing for comfortable lives at the expense of leisure and culture. The free market economy thus survives on the popular belief, social mobility can be achieved through “hard work” in a competitive market economy.

What is amiss is the fact that “employment” or income generation is not a timeless activity for mere living. The importance of the 08 hour working day lies in just that. The importance in the sacrifices the workers made with their lives at Haymarket Square in Chicago over 130 years ago is that, the whole world now accepts an 08 hour working day, written into law. That 08 hour working day has to be paid adequately in wages, for the worker to not only eat, feed and clothe himself and his family, but to sustain his and his families collective cultural life during the next 08 hours of the day, before s/he retires for the remaining 08 hours that makes a 24 hour day. That in fact is the logic of an 08 hour working day.

In a neo-liberal economy, “development” is all about middle class urban life. It is all about the “buying power” of an urban consumer. Poverty is what is compared with that urban life and “development” is always “city-centred”. When Narendra Modi was voted to power on a popular vote in 2014, one of his first major development programmes included the “100 Smart City” programme. The programme projected an urban population growth from 375 million to 590 million by year 2030. It also said, the urban share of the GDP would grow to about 70 per cent. He declared these “Smart Cities” will have very efficient and fast modern commuter facilities and all households would have free wi-fi. Now that is what city development is all about, apart from maintaining them.

The post war “development” in Sri Lanka during the Rajapaksa regime was no different. All proposed highways and circular road connectivity is Colombo centred and for urban use. Colombo city beautification had to be at the cost of the poor in the city. Coastal land acquired after the end of the war, was meant for a heavily hyped hospitality trade that left nothing for the war affected. Except for few menial jobs, investment in them meant accruing to profit in Colombo.

The much maligned “Colombo Port City” project begun by Rajapaksa is now being carried through under PM Wickremesinghe with the same Chinese company without any details given as to what was changed, if any was changed. And this hybrid government consisting of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe duo also leans heavily on urban development, no different to Rajapaksa. Their only development project the “Megapolis” would leave all rural life outside the Megapolis, wholly neglected. Very much like Modi’s “Smart Cities”, the Megapolis is about enlarging the Colombo Port City model to cover the Colombo-Gampaha districts and some parts of Kalutara as well. The Megapolis transport plan, the only complete plan so far under Megapolis is expecting an influx of 1 million people into the new megacity, once completed. Their commuting will bring in an estimated 1.8 million vehicles daily into the city. In addition, the plan has tramcars, a light electric train service and 02 new railway extensions, one linking Kottawa and Horana and the other Kelaniya and Kosgama via Dompe.

There are no estimates on how much extra fuel these vehicles and the commuting systems would burn through day and night. For now, 66 per cent of foreign income generation is by the poorest segments in society; the plantation workers, apparel and export manufacturing workers and the migrant labour especially in the Middle East. All who would be left out of Megapolis development but whose sweat would be burnt off as fuel in the megacity. The irony is not that Prime Minister Wickremasinghe who is in complete control of economic planning believes, it’s megacities that develop whole countries in this new millennia and says at the launch of the Megapolis programme on 29 January (2016) at the Independence Square, “…..this megacity would be developed into a very strong economic centre and linked to the global economy. That would lift the whole country up”. The irony is, he wants others also to believe his fantasy is the right answer for development.

To date, after more than 150 days, there is no plan made available on the economic drive in the mega city. There is nothing tangible on what the total cost of the complete project is and what exactly is included in the project. Nothing is known about who funds the project in its different phases and its components. 
Worst, there is no assurance that these projects would have Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) done through independent and competent agencies, made available for public scrutiny. All one would know about it (that is to say, nothing) is in a 02.27 minute video titled “Colombo is South Asia’s Open City” ( within the official website ( accessed on 28 June, 2016) that proudly says “An island metropolis with continental potential” and nothing more. 
Eventually, with unknown or questionable contracts given out, there will be numerous construction sites coming up with colourful publicity campaigns. That’s where the big money comes and goes. In most countries like ours, politicians in power go for huge construction contracts. That was what we saw during Rajapaksa and we would see this under the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government too, if they find investors to come in.

The launch of the Megapolis in January clearly proved this government under PM Wickremesinghe and his business class group brought in at a time of big responsibilities, knows nothing beyond business in a free market. They believe wooing foreign investors for a “Singapore” style city development is medicine for all aches and pains. Foreign Direct Investment and export oriented development over 03 decades has left the whole rural society unattended to. Rural youth were left to be used as cheap labour in Free Trade Zones, as frontline soldiers in a brutal war and as the cheapest housemaids in the Middle East.

As a development model, Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew are terribly over simplified and exaggerated icons of “success”. If, and I say it with much conviction, if Lee Kuan Yew was put in place here in Sri Lanka in late 60’s, he wouldn’t have known what to do with our tea and rubber plantations. With our subsistence farming in rural society where paddy is more a cultural life than economic farming. With our land tenure system and parcelling of land from generation to generation. Our historical bondages that keep rural society in a semi- feudal state and our ethnic divide that required political answers, were not on his plate. In Singapore, it was all minus that – a “city” asking for simple urban development. He would have been a total wreck here, far worse than even our failed leaders who knew the constituencies they had to deal with.

This neo liberal economic model that Wickremesinghe is obsessed with and trying to push through, is thus a heavily funded ultra urbanised “commercial development” that would only lead to a far more stressed out urban society. In a market, regulated not by “supply and demand”, but manipulated by big business for bigger and bigger profits.

The present day tragedy is, hyped neo liberal urban development does not allow for “total development”. We therefore don’t have modern libraries and reading rooms for school children and adults in beautified megacities. We don’t have modern museums, theatres, cinemas, art galleries and auditoriums for collective discourse in any of the development plans. What is invested upon in the megacity are huge shopping malls, modern cafes and restaurants with Indian, Chinese and Thai menus, recreational centres with massage parlours, Spas and night life with karaoke and casinos, toll-collected car parks, walking and jogging paths for the health conscious middle class urbanites and modern gyms. Added are modern private hospital and international schools. Total lack of facilities and space for intellectual cultural engagement, denies growth of a modern, culturally developed human.

Cultural impotence and divided society

The free market has developed its own novel addictive culture over a 38 year period. Those who were born into this free market in 1977 after Jayawardne was voted in with an overwhelming majority are now 38 years old. Those born 10 years after are 28 years old and the next generation born another 10 years later are now qualified voters at 18 years. This large and active population have never tasted any other economic life, but this unrestricted free market. Over the decades it has developed a very aggressive advertising industry that fashions consumer thinking. This advertising industry is so effective, the “Sinhala Buddhist” consumer who seldom thought of buying “chicken” 03 decades ago, was turned into a regular “chicken consumer”, with every grocer in every street corner selling “broiler chicken” much faster than even “Masoor dhal”. So was the “plain tea” that was largely replaced by “coke”.

This post ’77 urban and semi urban generation grew up taught to compete for personal gains. Social mobility for most came through new formal and informal sectors the free market economy created in and around Colombo. In all these new economic sectors, the new generation work for higher and higher “take home” pay. They don’t know of a decent pay for a 08 hour working day. The new and simple mind-set is, “money maketh a man”. They live in a society, where “collective” life has extremely little opportunity. Their workplaces are not where organised labour is and where collective bargaining is accepted. “Leisure” in this very individualised, busy urban society knows only restaurants, beach parties, Sunday buffets, karaoke and the like. That too is a “culture”. But lacks the intellectual refinement that comes with libraries, museums, theatre, discussion forums, music and art.

That market culture is now termed a “Gastritis culture” with most urban life from around 10 years on and the good majority of factory workers are ailing with continuous “gastric” disorders. It is also a market culture, that is ethno-religious in thinking. Trader competition for cash flow share in urban society has made a Sinhala Buddhist claim for supremacy for over 08 decades. In the second half of the post independent period, the Sinhala South came to be identified as everything national. Even the national economy was restricted to the Sinhala South, the North-East going under a brutal war. With a very competitive neo liberal economy in place, the Sinhala Buddhist supremacist claim thus became more or less “official”. In a weak and unrefined culture, racial affiliations take root quite fast. That becomes a fad when planted in social media patronised by this empty unrefined market culture of the new generation. The Sinhala niche in politics solely in the Colombo district that backs the “Hela Urumaya” types goes to prove this Sinhala trader mind-set in the competitive urban market.

Need for alternatives

Thus for two reasons, we need to go beyond talks in reforming governments and systems that could run a neo liberal economy better. One, that can never happen in our part of the world, where functional democratic structures and traditions have not come to stay, as in the developed West. In our part of the world where social structures and traditions are semi feudal and beliefs are parochial, rational thinking has little relevance in decision making. That is the reason why the concept of a “benevolent dictator” gets a stronger grip in the East and no more in the West.

In the South Asian context, neo liberalism and mega corruption go hand in glove. They cannot take divergent paths. Just 18 months of “Yahapaalanaya” proved it would not be clean and efficient as promised and as expected by urban middle class activists. PM Wickremesinghe, called “Mr. Clean” when in Opposition, has proved he is no more clean as expected. His most loyal royal gang in government is most accused of wheeler dealing. He wouldn’t even investigate them in a decent, trustworthy manner. Nepotism around President Sirisena is casually growing. Most accused for corruption under Rajapaksa are now in President Sirisena’s team with numerous designations.

The next important fact is neo liberalism in our context does not allow a Sinhala culture that can be progressive. That can be intelligent enough to understand the advantage of a pluralistic, inclusive society. 

The neo liberal culture in the Sinhala South is an insecure culture. It therefore needs State patronage. This insecure majority psyche is being exploited by all neo liberal regimes in South Asia. From Modi to Sheikh Hasina to President Sirisena. From Modi’s anti Muslim Hindutva campaigns to Hasina’s Muslim extremism in Bangladesh to Sirisena’s “war heroes” and backtracking on the 2015 OISL Resolution, neo liberalism is all about supremacist racial politics that go hand in glove with mega corruption and nepotism.
A turn around to accountable, transparent and democratic governance is not possible without tinkering with the corrupt, politicised, inefficient systems. “Reforms” are too ancient to be even tried out. This today demands an alternative to this unrestricted, “urban centred development” submerged in mega corruption with total political patronage and State interventions. With “socialism” ruled out for an alternative, it is definitely a hard choice to make. But one that has to be made, and one that needs serious intelligent dialogue.

Sri Lankan army strips houses before returning land
30 June 2016
The Sri Lankan military is removing windows and doors from houses earmarked to be release to Tamils in Valikaamam North. 

Last Saturday 123 acres of land till then under military occupation was released. 

Whilst some of the houses on the site were destroyed during the armed conflict, residents who had registered to reclaim their homes found that many more of the homes had been demolished since the fighting sheets. Only the houses used by the army remained intact, locals said. 

Following the announcement regarding the release of the land, military personnel have been seen removing items from any remaining houses, including windows, doors, roof sheets, tiles and beams. 

Mr. President, Where Is The Hate Speech Bill ?

Colombo Telegraph
By Latheef Farook –June 30, 2016
Latheef Farook
Latheef Farook
Muslim community which voted for President Maithripala Sirisena’s government as a whole is beginning t o feel insulted due to government’s indifference to rising threats and derogatory statements by racist elements.
Muslims in general expect the government to enforce law and deal with those who are hell bent on provoking them to react to justify an Aluthgamatype island wide attack.
All what the community is expecting the government to do is to fulfil its election pledges. For example what happened to the much talked about “Hate Speech Bill” and the election pledge to bring lawless elements who threaten communal harmony to task and create a peaceful communal environment.
Hate speech bill is something which needs to be appreciated by followers of all religions and all decent and peace loving people alike in view of its positive impact on the society and the country battered by racist politics.
Perhaps the Bill was abandoned under pressure from the very same groups resorting to hate crimes. Not only Muslims but even Sinhalese and Tamils who voted for the government have become increasingly frustrated due to its failure to fulfil election pledges.
They all expected the government to punish all those who plundered and looted the country, committed various crimes and brought the country to its miserable state today. It is more than a year and half since the government changed, but by and large, nothing has happened to please the voters who brought it to power. Sickening state of affairs is such that those who sucked the blood of the country remain free and even challenge the government.
Though deeply disappointed the people who voted for the government, by and large, do not want a political change, but expect the government to perform and restore their fast fading confidence.
In the case of island’s third largest community Muslims, all voted in one voice, for the Yahapalanaya government not to provide perks and positions to their wheeler dealer politicians, known sell outs, but to free themselves from Rajapaksa regime’s racist persecution which threatened the community’s very political, religious, economic, cultural and social life.
In fact racist hooliganism went underground with the new government assuming office in January 2015. However they have now started raising their ugly heads with slogans of hatred which has all the ingredients to tear apart communities with unpredictable consequences.

It is Malik Samarawickrema the minister under good governance who provided ministerial security to Sajin Vaas and wife !

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -30.June.2016, 11.00 PM) The notorious Sajin Vaas Gunawardena of the Blue Brigand of the nefarious decade after he was  remanded has claimed falsely he is a crown witness  ,and therefore asked for ministerial  security . Unbelievably , it is Malik Samarawickrema , the minister of foreign investment promotion of the government of good governance who had taken measures  to provide ministerial security to this notorious fraudster and racketeer, based on reports reaching Lanka  e news. 
In addition to Vaas Gunawardena , even his wife was provided with ministerial security . May  we recall , Lanka e  news reported earlier on that Sajin Vaas proudly boasted, ‘ to me whether it is that or this government it is all the same.’
In last week, when leaders of the Civil Organizations met with the president and the Prime Minister (P.M.) , they questioned , how come Sajin Vaas who is not even an M.P. and a notorious crook of the blue brigand has been provided with ministerial security ? This question  was asked by Gamini Viyangoda. 
Both the president and P.M. replied no such orders had been given to provide ministerial security to Sajin Vaas. The president then inquired from the IGP in this regard via  phone.
The IGP Poojitha had replied  , even before he became the IGP , his predecessor Ilangakoon had provided that security to Vaas.  When the ex IGP was questioned over this , he said , Malik Sarawickrema informed him to provide ministerial security to Sajin Vaas and his wife, while also pointing out that since Vaas is a Crown witness , he ought to  be provided security. Though Malik Samarawickrema stated Vaas is a Crown witness  , there is no case that is being tried  in Sri Lanka in which Vaas is a crown witness. 
Malik Samarawickrema is a most intimate friend of the P.M. and often it is Malik who speaks on behalf of the P.M. Hence most state officers do what Malik requests. By the way Malik is one who entered parliament through the National list , and became a minister.
In any event , on the instructions of the president the security provided unlawfully to Sajin and his wife were withdrawn . Sajin is at present in remand custody .
From the foregoing it is absolutely  clear , some  powerful bigwigs are bypassing the president and P.M. in order to put  through illicit deals with the crooked and the corrupt brutal scoundrels. 
It is hoped it will  clearly be  understood by the  so called ‘gentlemen’, the people of the country who suffered lived in fear and suffered  abysmally for the last ten years , sacrificed precious lives and properties  in order to throw out the brutal, murderous , corrupt and crooked Rajapakse regime lock , stock and barrel on the 8 th of January 2015, not for the successors under the cover of good governance  to commit illegalities, or  for the politicians  to  promote their own businesses by putting  through  illicit deals in collusion with the rogues and rascals who ruined and routed the country’s economy on a scale as never before in SL’s history. 
We shall reveal shortly  via another report how Sajin Vaas during his days of power and pomp , collected millions and millions of rupees from businessmen via extortion . 
by     (2016-06-30 18:03:16)

Landmark SC ruling on executive power

* Cabinet decision declared invalid

* SC expresses shock at manner Rs. 60 billion tender was awarded
*CJ says judiciary duty bound to pre vent abuse of power

By C. A. Chandraprema- 

In this country, a court case rarely attracts much attention unless it has to do with something like murder or rape – preferably both. In a nation that has been discussing matters of corruption and graft and illegal money making, it is certainly surprising that a court case involving irregularities in the country’s biggest tender could goes virtually unreported in the media. What is even more surprising that even the landmark determination given by the Supreme Court in this regard hardly got any publicity at all. It’s true that ordinary folk would not be interested even in sleaze if it happens to be technically complicated. But, then how does one explain the wide publicity that the Central Bank bond issue got? That, too, was a technically complicated matter. The difference of course is that in the case of the bond matter, the loss to the country has already occurred whereas in the case of the coal tender the Supreme Court has stepped in to shoot a tainted tender down.

The Fundamental Rights case Noble Resources International Pte Limited vs Minister of Power and Renewable Energy et al, is a landmark case because the Supreme Court heard it as a matter of national interest even in a situation where the government contended that the Petitioner did not have the locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the court. The SC observed in delivering their judgement last week that the Court had granted leave to proceed in this case even though the Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the government raised the issue that the Petitioner did not have locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court because the Petitioner is a Company registered in Singapore which has petitioned the SC without a local representative.

In this regard, the SC observed that ‘it is essential to the maintenance of the rule of law that every organ of the State must act within the limits of its power’ and that ‘the Court cannot close its eyes and allow the actions of the State or the Public Authority go unchecked in its operations’. And further that ‘If the Petitioner with a good case is turned away, merely because he .... has no locus standi to maintain this application, that means that some government agency is left free to violate the law and this is not only contrary to the public interest but also violates the Rule of Law’. Chief Justice K. Sripavan stated that the court had decided to go into the merits of the case as some of the events that took place in the award of this tender ‘shocks the conscience of the Court’.

These are strong words indeed emanating from the country’s highest court. The SC further observed that ‘it will be a travesty of justice if, having found as a fact that a fundamental right has been infringed or is threatened to be infringed, the Court yet dismisses the application on a preliminary objection raised by the Respondents.’

Heard before a three member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice K. Sripavan, Justice P. Dep, and Justice Upali Abeyrathne, this was perhaps the court case of the year with the list of counsel appearing for the Petitioner and the Respondents reading like a Who’s Who of the legal elite in this country. This was a case relating to a tender for the supply of 6.75 million tonnes of coal over a period of three years to the Norochcholai power plant – a contract worth well over Rs. 60 billion. The tender had been awarded to Messrs Swiss Singapore Ltd, by Cabinet overriding a ruling by the Procurements Appeal Board to cancel the tender and call for fresh bids after considering an appeal made by one of the bidders Messrs. Nobel Resources of Singapore who charged that the tender criteria had been altered after the bids had been opened.

When Cabinet overrode the ruling of the Procurements Appeal Board, the aggrieved party Messrs Nobel Resources Ltd then petitioned the Supreme Court stating among other things that cabinet had not been informed of the material facts of the case and therefore they were unable to make an informed decision about this tender. Having considered the facts of the case the SC observed that the Government Procurement Guidelines required that bids have to be ‘evaluated strictly according to the criteria and methodology specified in the bidding documents’. The Technical Evaluation Committee had originally recommended to the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee that Messrs Noble Resources Singapore was the lowest responsive bidder. Thereafter the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurements Committee (SCAPC) had received a letter dated 29 June 2015 from Swiss Singapore Ltd. On the same day the SCAPC had convened and directed the Technical Evaluation Committee to re-evaluate the bids ignoring two of the criteria.

The lower granular size limit was among the two criteria removed from the bidding documents so that more powdery coal would be accepted. Messrs Swiss Singapore Ltd was thereupon awarded the tender by the SCAPC.

The Supreme Court observed that ‘no one, neither the State nor the SCAPC shall act contrary to the bid documents and the Government Procurement Guidelines’ and that ‘it is of utmost importance that all the necessary safeguards laid down therein should be complied with fully and strictly and any departure from them make the evaluation process void’ and that ‘if the SCAPC exceeds its authority, the purported exercise of power may be pronounced invalid’.

The Supreme Court determination reproduced, in full, a letter written by Maithri Gunaratne the Chairman of Lanka Coal Company (which procures coal for the Norochcholai plant) to the Secretary of the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy expressing shock that the SCAPC has disregarded the clause in the company’s bid document which strictly prohibits bidders from contacting anybody involved in the award of the tender from the time of the opening of bids to the time the contract is awarded. Gunaratne stressed that ‘any effort by a bidder to influence the process’ should be rejected. Gunaratne had also warned in his letter that the award of tenders in this manner might bring disrepute on the governmental authorities. The Supreme Court stated that the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurements Committee should have rejected the bid of Swiss Singapore Ltd for influencing the tender procedure.

In delivering the judgment, the Chief Justice quoted the words of a former Chief Justice Sharvananada in another case where the latter had stated that the "Rule of Law depends on the provision of adequate safeguards against abuse of power by the executive ... The Legislature has necessarily to create innumerable administrative bodies and entrust them with multifarious functions...the abuse of power by them, if unchecked, may ... bring about an authoritarian or totalitarian state. The existence of the power of judicial review and the exercise of same effectively is a necessary safeguard against such abuse of power."

The SC stated that having considered the contentions raised on behalf of the parties, the decision made by the SCAPC was outside its jurisdiction and therefore null and void. It should be understood that in this judgement, the Supreme Court was not merely castigating some bureaucrats. The highest court in the land struck at the very citadel of executive power by stating that the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on 22 September 2015 to award the contract to Messrs Swiss Singapore Ltd could not be considered a valid decision.

The SC stated further that the power of the State was conferred on the members of the SCAPC and the Procurement Appeals Board to be held in trust for the benefit of the public. The Supreme Court being the protector and guarantor of fundamental rights cannot refuse to entertain an application seeking protection against the infringement of such rights. The Court must regard it as its solemn duty to protect the fundamental rights jealously and vigilantly. It has an important role to play not only preventing or remedying the wrong or illegal exercise of power by the authorities but has a duty to protect the nation in directing it (the executive) to act within the framework of the law and the Constitution.