On Monday, by midnight gazette, the President invoked the provisions of the Public Security Ordinance, effectively placing the country under a state of emergency. The proclamation stated that this was being done to ensure the supply of essential food. Accordingly, in terms of Section 5, imposing Part II of the Ordinance took effect throughout [...]


Economic emergency to squash food hoardings



STOCKPILED: Government officials raid five warehouses and seize 29,000 tons of sugar on Wednesday

On Monday, by midnight gazette, the President invoked the provisions of the Public Security Ordinance, effectively placing the country under a state of emergency.

The proclamation stated that this was being done to ensure the supply of essential food. Accordingly, in terms of Section 5, imposing Part II of the Ordinance took effect throughout Sri Lanka from thenceforth.

The President stated in his proclamation, these provisions were being invoked since it was “considered expedient to do so in order to ensure the Public Security and wellbeing and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community in view of the prevailing emergency situation in Sri Lanka in the context of the COVID–19 pandemic now steadily on the rise throughout Sri Lanka.”

Presidential media spokesman Kingsley Ratnayake emphasised on Tuesday that “the President has promulgated emergency regulations under the Public Security Ordinance on the supply of essential goods.” He told reporters: “The Government has appointed a former army general as commissioner of essential supplies with the power to seize food stocks held by traders and retailers and regulate their prices.”

State Finance Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal told reporters that though foreign agency reports have said that Sri Lanka has declared a “food emergency”, ample food stocks including rice and sugar are available in the country and that fears of a food shortage were completely unfounded.

And, armed with the new emergency powers, the crackdown on hoarders has begun in earnest. On 1 September, four warehouses were raided and a total stock of 29,000 tons of sugar was seized and steps were taken for it to be sold to the public at controlled prices through government and private retailers, a government media release stated.

But, of course, Section 5 and Part II of the Ordinance do not stop at ensuring ‘supply of essential food’ but go far beyond to empower the President to ensure ‘essential services,’ as well as to meet other exigencies, including powers to suppress riots and civil commotions; and, in view of the vast powers that flow from invoking Part II of the Ordinance, the Opposition saw an ‘ulterior motive’ in the Government’s action and called for its revocation.

In a statement issued by its General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara on Wednesday, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) said: “We reiterate that the purported declaration of a State of Emergency has been made in bad faith, with an ulterior motive of further wrongfully restricting the fundamental rights of the citizenry, and moving further in the direction of authoritarianism.”

The statement said, it notes that, “in terms of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No. 9 of 2003, there is statutory power for the prescribing of maximum prices, and to prevent hoarding,” and called upon the President to “forthwith rescind the purported declaration of a State of Emergency.”

SJB leader Sajith Premadasa on Thursday alleged, “the real objective of the Government imposing an emergency is to form a dictatorial administration leading to the burial of democracy. Government should reverse the gazette notification under which emergency was imposed and should activate the Consumer Security Bill and punish those who are hiding stocks of consumer goods.”

Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, in a videoed statement, called it an ‘unwarranted act’, and warned the ‘decision to go down the Public Security Ordinance route could lead to repression.”

Invoking Part II of the Ordinance and, with it, the whole gamut of powers to crackdown on a few traders hoarding essential food may be justified in the circumstances, given the present food shortage, even though it smacks of using a sledge hammer to squash a fly.

But what seems to worry the Opposition is the notion that, unless the President revokes the proclamation himself or the SLPP-dominated Parliament refuses to ratify it, the state of emergency will remain extant, and the President left holding the sledge hammer long after the fly has been pronounced dead.

Yohani wows the world with ‘Menike, Mage Hithe’ magic80 million YouTube hits and still counting

Bopper, rapper, singer, songwriter Yohani holds the world in a swoon, after catapulting Sinhala music to the international level with her hit song ‘Menike, mage hithe’.

After its first posting on YouTube in May this year, Yohani’s cover version of the song became an instant hit, soon busting the magic million mark of YouTube views, and earning Yohani the accolade of being the first Lankan female singer to bag a million subscribers.

YOHANI, LANKA’S RAP PRINCESS: The world has her on its mind and her song on its lips

The original version of the song composed by Satheeshan with the lyrics by Dulan ARK and Chamath Sangeeth as producer was first released last year with Dulan performing but failed to tick. “After hearing the song,” Yohani says, “I did a small Tik-Tok of it. When Chamath saw it, he called me and asked whether I’ll like to join the three of them and come out with an official cover version. I readily agreed and we did it. That’s how far a small Tik-Tok went.”

But there was more to come. Much more. Greater heights to be reached. Unimaginable. “When we first did it, we never imagined it would be so successful,” Yohani recalls. “But soon there came requests to do translations in Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi which were released last month.”

But the turning point which rocketed her to international stardom came when by a strange twist of fate, India’s legendary film star Amitabh Bachchan’s granddaughter chanced upon it and dubbed it over one of his old film scenes. Amitabh loved it so much he tweeted 21 days ago. “But truly an ode to that incredible Sri Lankan song Manike Mage Hithe….Honestly Manike….playing in loop whole night…impossible to stop listening…SUUUPPEEERRRBBB.”

This caused a quantum leap in Yohani’s music fortunes and what had begun as an encouraging positive response snowballed into an avalanche of YouTube viewers from the Indian sub-continent and became a worldwide phenomenon, with the number of viewers notching 80 million this week and still counting.

Though only 28 years old, Yohani is no new comer to the local music scene. Her first local hit was ‘Deviyange Bare’ or ‘In Gods’ Hands’ in 2017, a rap song which, along with countless rap covers she has performed, branded her as Lanka’s unchallenged Rap Princess. So far she has done four Sinhala and one English original songs, with ‘Aaye’ as her debut single, composed by her with lyrics by Dilanjali Seneratne about her journey to the music world.

And what a journey it has been for old Visakian Yohani, the elder daughter of retired Major General Prasanna de Silva. After graduating from the Kotelawela Defence University with a BSc in Logistics Management, she studied Accountancy in Australia, before finally deciding to follow her star and seek a career in music.

But even after finding mega fame — and this is only for starters — she remains humble and says thanks to her team of Chamath, Satheeshan and Dulan, confessing, “without them, I couldn’t have done it; together we did it.”

Take a bow, Yohani. All over the world, in nook and crannies of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, even in an Indian restaurant in Pasadena, California as a fellow Lankan found to his delight, they are playing your song, with ‘Menike Mage Hithe’ on their lips and Yohani on their mind.


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