The broader contours of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka are taking shape as an experts committee has renewed its call for further public representations. Though nothing is still final, the experts did focus attention on some contentious areas, like for example the present 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Insiders say that at one point, [...]


New Constitution: Dispute over provincial councils


The broader contours of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka are taking shape as an experts committee has renewed its call for further public representations.

Though nothing is still final, the experts did focus attention on some contentious areas, like for example the present 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Insiders say that at one point, the issue became too hot that it had to be put to vote. The side that sought to make some changes had their way.

What about the Provincial Councils (PCs) which were born under 13A? One source said they were being retained but added that there was a likelihood of structural changes. “Of course, nothing is still final,” the source quipped.

The Expert Committee is chaired by Romesh de Silva PC. Its other members are Gamini Marapana PC., Manohara de Silva PC., Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, Samantha Ratwatte PC, Prof. Naazima Kamardeen, Dr. A.Sarveswaran, Prof. Wasantha Seneviratne and Prof. G.H. Peiris.

Obama’s best seller refers to ‘ethnic slaughter in SL’

Former US President Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land”, in which he reflected on his first term and reflections on the decisions his administration made, broke a new record selling more than 1.7 million copies in the first week of its launch.

In his 300-page long book, President Obama talked about his ambitious Obamacare Health programme and the geopolitical crises around the world since he took office in January 2009.

Sri Lanka too was mentioned as a footnote among the pages where President Obama noted the UN’s failure to protect the civilians during the final phases of the war saying ‘ethnic slaughter in Sri Lanka.” The relevant paragraph where he talks about UN failures is as follows:

“In the middle of the Cold War, the chances of reaching any consensus had been slim, which is why the U.N. had stood idle as Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary or U.S. planes dropped napalm on the Vietnamese countryside. Even after the Cold War, divisions within the Security Council continued to hamstring the U.N.’s ability to tackle problems. Its member states lacked either the means or the collective will to reconstruct failing states like Somalia or prevent ethnic slaughter in places like Sri Lanka.”

It only shows the kind of cockeyed briefings end up at the White House, and the desk at the Oval office, with the man holding arguably the most important job in the world, with a “nuclear button” at his disposal.

How Herath got his cup of tea

Government and opposition parliamentarians are spending more time in the House as the Committee Stage debate on the budget continues. That includes time in the lobbies where there is plenty of camaraderie between the two sides.

One conversation recently centred on the Kegalle district Parliamentarian Kanaka Herath and how he became the State Minister of Company Estate Reforms, Tea Estate Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Diversification

How did Mr Herath get that portfolio? It transpired that one day President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had visited Kegalle. Mr. Herath was accompanying him in his car touring the district. The subject was a discussion on the tea industry.

President Rajapaksa found that he received spontaneous answers to the questions he posed. He was well versed on the functions of the tea industry. Thus, he was rewarded, was the tale.

Northern courts stop Tiger ceremonies

In the Jaffna peninsula, court orders have dampened efforts by pro-Tiger guerrilla groups staging protests and ceremonies on Friday, November 27 – the birthday of slain Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader – which is commemorated as “Maveerar” or “Great Heroes” Day.

Among the courts that issued prohibition orders were those in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Point Pedro and Mallakkam.

At least one leading politician contended that he was organising ceremonies to commemorate the death of all persons during the separatist war. However, the Police presence put paid to it.

The Tamil diaspora in London were successful in projecting their so-called “national flower” on the fence of the House of Commons on Wednesday night. The move had been cleverly planned so the Metropolitan Police could not stop the move.

Basil on district tour to explain Budget

Basil Rajapaksa, head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Recovery, will embark on a tour of all districts later this month to discuss with government officials the implementation of the 2021 Budget.

Such meetings are to be held at the district secretariats with Governors in charge of the Provinces, District Secretaries, MPs, and other senior officials taking part.

In each district, Mr Rajapaksa will explain the budget issues which require attention.

The tour will begin with a visit to Kandy first.

Corrupt official scuttles grant of clinical waste disposal plant

Why did a western country which offered a clinical waste disposal plant later back down on the offer?

Insiders say an official somewhere down the system wants twenty million rupees to put through the deal. The infuriated agent blew the whistle. The donor, angered by the move, said why should we pay? One of them said this is being offered free to you and you want us to pay commissions too!!

The deal is now off.

Katte Pittu for Jaffna Inspector

On Thursday, Senior Additional Solicitor General Haripriya Jayasundara made extensive submissions at the Jaffna Magistrate Court on why the Court should issue an order preventing events to commemorate LTTE cadres on the Maveerar Day or Great Heroes Day.

At the end of the submission, Ms Jayasundara removed her face mask to apologize to the Court and the Bar for the insensitive remark made by Jaffna’s Headquarters Inspector who drew criticism over his comparison of the local dish, ‘pittu’ and ‘pizza’ to indicate lifestyle changes of the Jaffna people. “We are now giving pizza to those who ate pittu,” he had remarked, which caused a somewhat over-the-top reaction by a northern MP trying to ‘curry’ favour with the locals.

She said a similar scenario had happened in the South too but that his ‘poor choice of words’ may have hurt the feelings of the people in Jaffna and those in the Court. Jaffna Inspector Prasad Fernando who made the infamous claim came forward before the Court, removed his facemask to say ‘sorry’ twice.

A wag commented that for the unfortunate cop it must now be a case of “katte pittu”, a local idiom directly translated to; “pittu in the mouth”, that is used as an expression when someone is quiet and doesn’t talk or respond when expected to. An English comparison is “the cat’s got your tongue’.

Former minister in bid to form new party

A former controversial cabinet minister has mooted the formation of a new political party with a few Sri Lankans from abroad.

The caucus involved in the move, insiders say, includes onetime Minister Mervyn Silva and a onetime Yahapalana politician who held an important position.

This is whilst government circles spoke about a lady politician of yesteryear, seemingly retired from politics, making phone calls to some SJB parliamentarians. These circles learnt that she is seeking a change in the SJB leadership with the support of two others who are not in active politics now.


Shivajilingam commemorates Tigers despite being stung by snake

One of the outspoken Tamil political stalwarts, M K Shivajilingam, was hospitalised last Friday after being bitten by a snake in his office in Valvettiturai.

Throughout the week, he was busy organising events to observe commemorative events to remember fallen LTTE cadres in his area since the Tiger leader, who Shivajilingam claimed to be, was one of his close family relatives.

After he was admitted to the Point Pedro base hospital, his staff launched a search operation to find the snake. They captured the snake and took it to the hospital. The snake was found dead after a couple of hours.

Mr Shivajilingam recovered fully on Monday and was discharged from hospital. He did not fail to organise a low key event in front of his office to observe the day on Friday. It was a case of commemorating a Tiger despite being stung by a snake.

No pardon for professional beggars in Mannar

Mannar police on Thursday were instructed by the District Secretariat to be vigilant for a group who pose off as poor persons, but are professional beggars coming from areas outside the district.

They were told that this is part of the measures adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the area

It was noted that this group used to travel long distances to Mannar weekly to earn a living by begging and then leave after their collection.

As expected, the police turned back the group at the entrance to Mannar on Friday. The beggars had been travelling in a bus.

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