Showing posts from February, 2010

Sri Lanka's Tamil National Alliance cracked into four pieces; two strong rivals

(February 27, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka has split into four identical groups although there are only two powerful factions. They are the TNA led by R. Sampanthan and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, the son of late Kumar Ponnambalam and the grand son of late G.G. Ponnambalam. Former MPs S. Gjendran and Pathmini Sithamparanathan also contest under ACTC ticket showing political lining up of the Tamil nationalists. Moderate liberal capitalist TNA contests for five districts with former MPs of the former parliament. Tamil leftist MPs M.K. Sivajilingam and N. Srikantha have joined with Sinhala leftist Left Liberation Front led by Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratna. Meanwhile the Karuna loyal Ms. Thangeswari Kathiraman contests under ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) ticket together with Sivanathan Kishor and S. Kanagaratnam. The government earlier accused Vanni district MP S. Kanagaratnam

Maritime Museum of Sri Lanka opens in Galle

(February 27, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Newly established one and only Marine Archaeological Museum in Galle built under a special grant of Rs. 177 million by the Netherlands Government will be opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 4, 2009. The Marine Archeological Museum previously established in Galle was completely destroyed due to Tsunami tidal waves on December 26, 2004. The present museum is being established after renovating a massive old building constructed during the Dutch era situated within the historic Rampart of Galle. The museum is 40-000 square feet in extent would display marine artifacts discovered in explorations made in the ocean floor around Sri Lanka. Nearly 200 artifacts discovered from the remains of ship sunk in the ocean nearly 800 ago are housed in the museum. Plans are afoot to open the museum on all seven days of the week and on some days to stay open till 9.00 p.m. to feel surrounding of the Fort.

what is the crisis in the Tamil National Alliance?

(February 25, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Many ex-MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka have not been given the opportunity to run for the elections under the ticket of the TNA. A number of those who lost nominations have become the pets of the government. But, a considerable number of MPs like Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, S. Kajendran, Pathmini Sithamparanathan, M.K. Sivajilingam and N. Srikantha etc. are denied nominations due to political reasons. The division of the TNA is clearly on political lines. After the military debacle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), a wide gap is being created in the Tamil polity. This is symbolically depicted as the gap between the Diaspora Tamils and the Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group says, "Most in the country are exhausted by decades of war and are more concerned with rebuilding their lives under difficult circumstances than in continuing the fight for an independent s

International Crisis Group on Sri Lankan issue

(February 24, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora groups should move away, once and for all, from the failed agenda of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and instead put their energies into the quest for a sustainable and just peace in a united Sri Lank, says International Crisis Group, a think tank studying the conflicts in the world. Following is the full text of their report: The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the LTTE,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines political dynamics within the Tamil diaspora since May 2009, as Tamils abroad adapt to the LTTE’s defeat. It also looks at the potential for new forms of militancy within the diaspora, especially among the younger generations, radicalised by the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians in the final months of the war. While there is little chance of the Tamil Tigers regrouping in the diaspora, most Tamils abroad remain profoundly committed to a separate state of Tamil Eelam

The reality of rise of per capita in come of Sri Lanka

(February 23, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )    Sri Lanka government has proudly announced that the per capita income has risen from $ 2200 to $2300 from 2008 to 2009. Accordingly, if the national income is distributed equally, each Sri Lankan irrespective of age must have a share of Rs. 240,000 annual income. That simply means Rs. 20,000 monthly income and a family that has four members must earn Rs. 100,000 per month. But the data released by the state relates a different story. According to the Ministry of Social Security and Social Welfare, there are 350,000 recipients of concessions provided to extremely poor people of the country. This allowance is yet to be raised to Rs. 1000 a month. These people are subjected to live with 1/3 of a dollar per day. Sri Lanka government provides 'Samurdhi' poverty concessions to low income groups. The Deputy Minister of State Revenue and Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said in the parliament on May 05, 2009 that the number of Samurdhi

Tourism begin to bloom in Sri Lanka

Ancient Jaffna Fort (February 22, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   The January performance of Sri Lankan hotels has been excellent, with arrivals reaching 50,750, which is a 32 percent increase on last January. The main contribution to this increase has been the British market (24.6 percent increase), Germany (54 percent) and India (73.5 percent). January and February are two of the busiest months in the tourism calendar, which is the peak of the high season. Better performance is expected in February. Meanwhile, the state-run English weekly Sunday Observer quoted Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda as saying nearly 550,000 local and foreign tourists had toured Jaffna via A-9 road during last week. The number quoted has come as a surprise to observers particularly since the Northern Province is still virtually out of bounds for foreigners and there is very little tourism infrastructure on the ground in the war-ravaged province. Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said recntly in an in

Ranil to face Fonseka in Colombo polls

(February 22, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Sri Lanka's major opposition United National Party (UNP) that has already admitted the defeat at the upcoming general election scheduled on April 8 is facing another trouble as the defeated opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka is likely to contest in an alliance with the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP).  Fonseka is slated to contest under National Democratic Alliance's trophy symbol in Colombo district where UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe expects to obtain a massive number of preferential votes.  UNP abandoned Fonseka following the election and it is understood that there was a government-UNP understanding behind the arrest of the ex-General. JVP took the brunt of agitations for his release and opened up a new path for a fighting opposition under his leadership.  Sri Lanka definitely needs a new leadership to fight the rising constitutional and democratically elected dictatorship. The opposition led by Ranil

Are Sri Lankan Marixsts eying for the opposition leadership?

(February 20, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   The opposition coalition in Sri Lanka has shattered. The parties that backed the opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka are now divided. Major opposition United National Party (UNP) is no more actively supporting the campaigns for his release. Only the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) has not abandoned him. JVP has decided to contest the general election under the 'trophy' symbol offering the leadership to Sarath Fonseka. At a press conference held yesterday, National Organizer of Jathika Hela Urumaya Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said that arrest of Gen (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka might prove to be detrimental to the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance's interests, particularly in view of the forthcoming general election. Based on the same argument, one can say that the JVP is in an advantaged position. It can vie for sympathy votes, gratefulness votes and hatred votes etc. generated for Sarath Fonseka. Th

China's Sri Lanka port raises concern

(February 18, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   We feel the following UPI article is significant since it reveals the Indian pessimism regarding China's involvements in the affairs of the Indian Ocean. It also discusses about the Hambanthota port and its implications on international affairs. China's construction of a port in Sri Lanka and a Chinese admiral's suggestion Beijing build a naval base in the Gulf of Aden has raised fears in the Middle East that a confrontation between China and India is looming along vital energy export routes. Both the Asian titans, whose economies continue to expand despite the global financial meltdown, are heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil and will become more so as supplies dwindle. The Indians are building their naval forces across these vital shipping lanes through which some 85 percent of China's oil supplies pass along with raw materials from Africa. Inevitably, these will increasingly encroach on Middle Eastern and African wat

Tamil IDPs of Sri Lanka to 'miss' the general election too

(February 16 Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Over 100,000 Tamil IDPs of Sri Lanka will have to languish in refuge camps until the end of general elections scheduled for April 08.  The IDPs were not given fair opportunity to exercise their franchise at the presidential held on January 26, monitors say. The turn out was extremely low due to discouraging technical problems. The same can be expected on April 08 as well.  The government missed the self-imposed deadline to resettle all the IDPs by the end of January. The Minister in charge of resettlement Rishad Badurdeen says that the IDPs will be resettled by April, probably after the polls. The reason cited for the delay is the incompletion of de-mining.  By February 05, 106,000 IDPs were still in camps according to UN reports. Government has resettled 160,000 IDPs. Around 30,000 IDPs live in friends' and relatives' houses outside the IDP camps. 

An environmental friendly lamp for lagoon fishermen in Sri Lanka

(February 16 Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   A Sri Lankan environmental organization is introducing a new lamp for the fishermen that engage in the industry in lagoons. This new lamp is a compact florescent lamp with a rechargeable battery. It will replace the traditional kerosene lamps that consumes at least a liter of kerosene per each night. The Negenahiru Environmental Center has already supplied around 40 such lighting units to the fresh water and lagoon fishermen in Maduganga and Madampawila in the Southern Province. Recharging units have been provided one per each four or five fishermen. There are around 35,000 lagoon fishermen in Sri Lanka and they usually use low efficient kerosene lamps that gives dim light while emanating carbon dioxide and soot that is hazardous both environmentally and health wise. The cost for kerosene is also around Rs. 85.

Remarkable entry of the hair-to-the-throne of Rajapaksa kingdom of Sri Lanka

(February 12, Colombo -  Lanka Polity ) The eldest son of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa marked his entry to politics today wearing fatherlike white national dress instead of casual baggy shirts he earlier prefered to wear at a function patronaged by his father in Tangalle, in the Hambanthota district where Namal had sought for nominations to contest the general election. The hair-to-the-throne Namal Rajapaksa needs to mark his presence remarkably among the Rajapaksas like Basil, Gotabhya and Chamal brothers and Chamal's son Shashindra etc. unless he wants to be sidelined like Nirupama Rajapaksa one day in future. Nirupama, a radical member of the 1994 parliament, is the grand daughter of D.M. Rajapaksa, the MP for Beliaththa, whose demise paved way for D.A. Rajapaksa to be elected to the parliament to generate a brilliant Rajapaksa dynasty that reigned the Giruva Paththuwa for many decades. Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected to parliament in 1970 and slowly

Arrest of opposition presidential candidate of Sri Lanka and its repercussions

(February 10, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )  Sri Lankans took to streets in Colombo and many other parts of the island and clashed with the government-deployed disruptive elements and police in a display of people's power in support of arrested common opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka.  The government has arrested Sarath Fonseka and vow to court martial and to be prosecuted in civil courts for breach of discipline and for plotting to topple the government etc. Government spokesmen speak about minor offenses such as engaging with politicians now instead of bringing the much hyped conspiracy allegations. Sri Lanka is lawless mostly and the President's son Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a junior officer of the Navy and the President's brother Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa also openly engaged in Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidential campaign enjoying impunity although they too have committed the same offense since they too are bound to be politically neutral as public

Sri Lanka state to purchase 140,000 metric tons of paddy

(February 04, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   Sri Lanka Ministry of Agriculture Development and Peasant Services says that the state will purchase 140,000 metric tons of paddy in the Maha season. A cabinet paper has been submitted to allocate Rs. 4060 million in this purpose, a spokesman of the Ministry said. The harvesting of the Maha season is to begin by the end of this month. The rice prices in Sri Lankan market have escalated sharply. The government has permitted import of rice and analysts predict this will have repercussions when harvesting begins causing drop of purchasing prices. The state expects to purchase 50,000 metric tons from Polonnaruwa district where the Minister of Agriculture Development and Peasant Services Maithripala Sirisena's family members have big rice processing and marketing business. From Anuradhapura district and the Eastern Provinces 30,000 metric tons will be purchased while 15,000 metric tons each will be purchased from Northwestern and Southern P

Successful launch of a mass movement to win back democracy in Sri Lanka

(February 04, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )  The opposition supporters of Sri Lanka took to the streets in Colombo yesterday and demonstrated against the 2010 presidential result and the government steps to curb democracy and freedom of expression.  Police warned to take stern action against the street protests and rumors spread preventing the participation of many cautious activists.  However, tens of thousands of people marched peaceful from Lipton Circus to Hyde Park chanting slogans against polls rigging and suppression of freedom of expression without serious police intervention. The Hyde Park, the venue of the protest rally was filled with enthusiastic opposition supporters while the roads surrounding the venue were also blocked by throning crowds.  Almost all the leaders of the opposition coalition were seen on stage sans the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance based in Northern and Eastern Provinces. Left Front presidential candidate Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratna that campai

Mahinda Rajapaksa way of paying gratitude

(February 03, Colombo -  Lanka Polity ) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa pleaded the people to pay him gratitude for defeating the Tamil nationalist struggle at the presidential held on January 26. Sinhala people did so and the Tamil voters were expectable to reject him and that also happened.  Paying gratitude is a quality highly appreciated by Sinhalese, especially by Buddhists. Lord Buddha paid gratitude even to the sacred Bo tree that provided him shade while attempting to attain Nibbana.  Sri Lanka President wanted the voters to pay him the gratitude while denying to do the same to the ex-Army Commander who was rescued by medical marvels from a suicide attack of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. Pro-President media slang mud at the ex-Army Commander who ran for the presidential as common opposition candidate alleging him to be a womanizer who was attached even to his own suicide bomber. No wonder. The President's camp spared next to nothing when attacking the oppo

The need of unity of Tamil speaking communities of Sri Lanka

(February 03, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )  Sri Lanka's major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance is in talks with the major Muslim constituent Sri Lanka Muslim Congress to form an electoral alliance. If the talks will succeed, the alliance will be able to achieve a resounding mandate from the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka at the upcoming general election.  But, an extensive dialogue is needed to set forth a declaration of common aspirations of these two minority communities. For that, the coalition is needed to be one that exceeds the limits of mere electoral alliance.  Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims share same language although they are culturally different. The Tamil struggle for equality in state was for a Tamil speaking polity in its early stages. However, the sentiments of a narrower Tamil nationalism among the Sri Lankan Tamils, the majority among the minority communities, led the other minorities like Muslims and Upcountry (Indian origin) T

Sri Lanka's Malays Want More Political Space On The Island

By P. Vijian (Photo: ancient photo of Sri Lankan Malay community) (February 01, Colombo -  Lanka Polity )   In Sri Lanka's ethnic cocoon, the minority Malay population is searching for more political space to voice their socio-economic rights. An estimated 50,000 Malays, mostly descending from the Indonesian archipelago and southern Malaysia, are the minorities among the minorities in the country's 20 million population. In post-war Sri Lanka, the Malays are worried if their social-political mobility would be stifled without proper political representation in the island's multi-ethnic make-up, as a bulk are still in the economically-backward segment. "About 30 per cent of the Malays are in the middles-class while 60 per cent are in difficult circumstances, living below the poverty line. "They don't have regular income or proper housing, access to universities and government jobs are difficult because these are allocated according to ethnic proportion