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Lanka a global swing state

In the coming week, two of the world’s largest nation-powers, China and the United States of America (US), pick their leaders; China for the next decade, and the US for the next four years.China’s ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee will confirm within the new ‘forbidden city’ in Beijing, and behind closed doors, its next [...]

Executive Presidency: The drama continues

Whither the Executive Presidency? This has been a long-running serial played out in the political amphitheatre of this country over the years. It is part serious, part comedy; part farce, part drama – and downright tragic. On Thursday, another attempt was made by possibly well-meaning persons to raise public awareness to the dangers of the [...]

Agriculture in poison hole

For more than 2,500 years agriculture and the farmer have played a vital part not only in Sri Lanka’s economy but also in our hallowed civilisation with festivals like the National New Year and Thai Pongal being linked to the harvesting season. The internationally famous Robert Knox in a historical 17th century book on life [...]

Save us from the law of the jungle

The multi-million dollar pump-and-dump manipulations by a business mafia at the Colombo Stock Exchange and the mysterious happenings in the case involving Minister Mervyn Silva’s son, Malaka, are among the latest incidents which show the dangerous trend towards a breakdown in the rule of law – both at macroeconomic and at personal levels. On Friday, [...]

Reactivate 17th Amendment before next elections

Pro-Government political analysts and pundits have hailed as outstanding the victory of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in last Saturday’s election to the Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North Central provincial councils. But the government needs to look at the results not only in a magnanimous way but in a sober and realistic spirit. Most independent [...]

Jackals and the mafia of crooks

The news that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) which regulates the stock market is investigating 17 alleged manipulators is in the public domain now. This was revealed in this newspaper three weeks ago and remains un-contradicted. No doubt, these 17 remain innocent until proven guilty, but the question is why the Government – or Parliament, [...]

Links with China: The potential and the pitfalls

Coinciding with the Non Aligned Movement summit today, and in the immediate backdrop of a British Government travel advisory warning its citizens on visiting Sri Lanka and Indian displeasure over certain events in the island, the visit of the Chinese Defence Minister has acquired added significance. Not only is China a major global financial powerhouse, [...]

Reaching out to Vanuatu but not Tamil Nadu

Sri Lankan pilgrims travelling through the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu and sports teams may get set upon by ‘goondas’ (goons) from political parties and the state government wants Sri Lankan military personnel not to train on Tamil Nadu soil. Not to be outdone, Indian spectators at a recent T-20 cricket international between the [...]

Action Plan evasive or deceptive

Reactions to the Government’s announcement that it would – finally – act on the recommendations of the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) have been mixed. They range from a US Government statement welcoming the announcement to critics calling it a big bluff laced with dishonesty. There’s no argument, however, that the LLRC was the [...]

Hold referendum on PCs and 13A

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of a controversial agreement officially known as the ‘Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement to establish Peace and Normalcy in Sri Lanka’, more commonly called the Indo-Lanka Accord. In a few months, we will mark, though not necessarily celebrate, the 25th anniversary of the 13A (the 13th Amendment to the Constitution) and [...]

Illegal migration: Two sides

People smuggling and asylum seekers have been competing for space in the media for some time now, and succeeding in grabbing the headlines. The focus at the moment is on the boatloads of Sri Lankans, as the headline in our report on the subject last week had it “risking blue waters in search of greener [...]

Diplomacy: More than workshops

Sri Lanka’s Heads of Diplomatic Missions (HoMs) overseas were summoned for an ‘orientation course’, given some lectures and sent on a tour to familiarise themselves with the developments taking place in their home country. The intentions may have been good, but did it serve the purpose? The answer would best come from those who attended [...]

RTI: A people’s govt. must enact it

It took an Indian Minister to come to Colombo and extol the virtues of a Right to Information (RTI) Law and explain how it has empowered the ordinary citizens of his country. Ironic as it is, this piece of progressive legislation was first introduced in Sri Lanka even before India did, but it was stillborn. [...]

The colossal farce of PC polls

Elections are not the be-all and end-all of democracy. Even more so, elections that are tainted. The Government’s decision to dissolve three Provincial Councils (PCs) before their mandate expired is firstly, robbing the people of their franchise. A Council, like Parliament or an elected President, is elected for a specific period. Extending or restricting this [...]

Don’t forget Ed.

In the US capital in close proximity to the famous Washington monument, 857 desks were placed as a protest organised by the College Board. It was to powerfully demonstrate the number of drop-outs from high school each school hour. Those responsible for the protest carried placards saying ‘Don’t forget Ed’ for Education and asked the [...]

No harm in judicious clash!

Parliament (the Legislature) seems to have exercised its right of reply to a recent salvo from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) that there was an oblique attempt by the President (Executive) to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary. Over the past few weeks, this tussle between the competing pillars of any democracy has been [...]

India’s nuclear fallout: Raise the bar to political level

The Indian Government’s plans to expand its nuclear energy programme by establishing 48 new reactors throughout the sub-continent, more than double of what it has, is already causing ripples within that country. It will also be cause for concern for Sri Lanka whose population is less than 160 kms from India’s southern-most plant at Kudankulam [...]

Dangerous signals from the south

One factor that backfired in the shooting at a legitimate political meeting in a remote village in the deep south last week was that the resonance was heard in Colombo. The culprits could not have anticipated the fallout. They would have believed it would be just another statistic of unsolved crimes in police records, and [...]

Divineguma Bill: Signs of authoritarianism

Moves to set up a Divineguma Department estimated to be worth more than Rs. 80 billion by bringing together the existing Samurdhi Authority, the Southern Development Authority and the Udarata Development Authority (the successor to the Kandyan Peasantry Commission) have seemingly run into a judicial-political storm. A storm in a teacup it may be eventually, [...]

Why Lanka should remain non-aligned

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) shows little movement other than when summits are held. And so, it was with the latest, just concluded summit in the Iranian capital of Teheran. In the intervening years between summits, what on earth the second largest grouping of nations, only next to the United Nations Organisation, does is anybody’s guess. [...]

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