Sunday, May 30, 2010

How Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa can stop war crime charges keep haunting

(May 30, Colombo - Lanka PolityIn a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa displayed how weary he is over the allegations against his government regarding the war crimes during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

The President perturbed by the repeated questioning by Al Jazeera correspondent Fouziah Ibrahim, lost his temper and asked why Al Jazeera repeatedly harassed Sri Lanka with war crimes charges just because the country defeated terrorism, while sparing countries like the USA and Britain.

On May 27, Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, who was on a public relations tour through the United States, left a scheduled meeting with journalists at the National Press Club Thursday morning without speaking.

It is learnt that he was advised not to meet media at the National Press Club that recently awarded the organization's 2009 International Freedom of the Press Award to slain Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of the Sunday Leader.

Meanwhile, Amnesty international website says, "One year after Sri Lanka's civil war came to a bloody end, the evidence that both parties to the conflict committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, continues to pile up. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and the US State Department have compiled extensive reports on the human rights violations that were committed by both the Sri Lankan army and the armed Tamil Tigers. To date, not one single individual has been held accountable for the crimes committed."

During a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Minister Pieris stubbornly refused to answer a question of a representative of an Amnesty International that questioned about the human rights impact of the most recent presidential commission of inquiry (established in 2006) into several high level human rights cases, including the execution style murder of 17 aid workers of the French organization Action Contre la Faim (ACF). The question was on how many individuals were actually tried as a consequence of the work of the commission, or why the findings that were sent to the President have not been made public to this day.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has to understand that the pressure on his government over war crime charges will last until when or if he will change the sense of euphoria of his rule following war victory into a more down-to-earth policy especially towards Tamils.

Although he defeated the Tamil militancy in Sri Lankan soil, he is yet to apprehend the full potential of the powerful Tamil Diaspora which is far beyond his simplistic version of a people that want to extend their stay in green pastures of developed West as he suggested in the Al Jazeera interview.

The Tamil Diaspora is too well able to keep the fires of the campaigns on war crime charges against him burning within the framework of Western democracy subtly manipulating the numerous international human rights organizations and even the UN. No power has ever undermined the mandate of these organizations to appear for human rights and the Rajapaksa's are far inadequate to do so. The ability of the Tamil Diaspora to sustain the lobby is free from their internal divisions.

If he is unwilling to deal with the mighty Tamil Diaspora, what he can do to regain the due respect for his defeat of terrorism is to establish good relationship with at least the local Tamils whose lives are in complete disarray as a result of war. The President and his government are in the vision that rapid economic growth facilitated by infrastructure development and private sector engagement will demoralize the Tamil nationalist sentiments.

Even for this, he needs some kind of meaningful power sharing with the leaders of local Tamil community. The undeclared 'Give Nothing to Tamils' racist Sinhala chauvinist policy that is masterminded by the ultra nationalist elements in his government will not lead him anywhere.

Power sharing with Tamils is a taboo subject among many of the Sinhala nationalist elite. Rajapaksa is in a powerful position and he can break it, if the pragmatic leader, as identified by Velupillai Prabakaran in his Mahaviru speech in 2005, can see beyond his nose tip, the time is ripe for reforms since the Sinhala racists have lost to him.

Development plus power sharing will make him really closer with local Tamils, not in the superficialway of meeting and talking with them when he visits north and east, as he said to Al Jazeera.

This is the only way available for him to widen the gap between the local and Diaspora Tamils. Only then, he will be able to actually delegitimize the din of the war crime charges against him. Sheer rhetoric against Diaspora Tamils will lead him nowhere.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Sri Lanka President's move to levy tax from MP's vehicle import permit is a sham

Hummer H2 off roader valued at over US$ 55,000
without duty in Sri Lanka for a VIP son
(May 28, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lanka President has proposed to levy a tax of 18% to 20% from the parliamentarians privileged so far to import vehicles once in five years.

This proposal appears outwardly as a progressive move although it actually increases the amount of taxes the politicians can evade. On the other hand, it will also provide an argument for the rulers to rationalize increase of taxes.

The cabinet approved to increase the maximum value of a motor vehicle imported by MPs from $ 35,000 to $ 45,000.

An MP can import a vehicle that is close to the market value of Rs. 20 million in Sri Lanka. It is a public secret that many MPs sell the licence to import a vehicle tax free and pocket a handsome income scot-free.

Average citizens of Sri Lanka have to pay more than 100% tax for motor vehicles. In some instances the tax is close to 200%.

High taxes on buses cause lack of development in Sri Lanka's public transport.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bloody funny politics of Jaffna

Jaffna Mayor
(May 23, Colombo - Lanka Polity
I know the gravity of my crimes and how serious they are.
-WANDA BARZEE, speaking Friday in court, where she was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2002 kidnapping of then 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

Fifteen years for kidnapping a child! In Sri Lanka, you believe, especially in the Northern Province, this is not a crime but a part of normal life. Yes, even in the post-Prabakaran period.

Sometimes, you even elect child killer suspects to represent you. T. Illango, Sri Lanka's ruling coalition Deputy Mayor of Jaffna is an example. He was arrested along with several others for alleged complicity in the abduction and brutal murder of a 17-year-old school boy in a botched ransom bid. He was later given conditional bail and told to appear in courts every Monday.

Later, he was found outside the Magistrate Chavakacheri Magistrate T. J. Prabhakaran's house armed with a pistol along with one of the suspects involved in the abduction and murder. Now he is in remand for threatening the Magistrate.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Jaffna, Ms. Patkunaraja Yogeswari, a mother too, placed an advertisement in a local newspaper calling for the dropping of the charges against Deputy Mayor T. Illango. Jaffna Chief Magistrate A. A. Anandaraja has severely reprimanded the Mayoress for interfering in judiciary matters.

It is bloody funny to see how things happen in liberated Jaffna under the democratic rule of the Colombo government.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Disaster capitalism and Sri Lanka government's moves to resettle Colombo flood victims

(May 20, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resource Development has taken swift action to identify land to resettle the dwellers of canal banks in Colombo city. Most of these canal side dwellers are displaced now due to floods.

While the Minister of rrigation and and Water Resource Development is attending in the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Secretary of the Ministry Ivan de Silva says that the land is being identified now on the instructions of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He said that the President instructed the officials to find them land close to Colombo city.

Perhaps the President might have understood that these people had dwelled in the city for a long time and their livelihoods are connected to it. Most of the people of these low income groups render a yeoman service in city cleaning and other services hard work is needed. Nice words of the President we have to wait and see the realization. Hope the 30,000 plus families now in camps will not be chased away when they go back to their houses once the floods recede.

Colombo Municipal Council Chief Engineer said recently that the sudden flow of water due to downpour is beyond the capacity of drainage channels of the city. The drainage system of Colombo city was constructed by British colonial rulers in 1910 and it has been used with slight improvements.

The unauthorized slum dwellers on canal banks actually contribute to pollution and blockade of water flow in canals while living in most unhealthy conditions. They are needed to be resettled in better places with better livelihoods for them.

But, the government has to really show that it is going to uplift their lives. This should not be another action similar to the uprooting of Colombo payment hawkers without providing them alternative to make a living.

Sri Lanka government is busy in its attempts in making Colombo city attractive for tourists and foreign direct investors. In this process, the government has forgotten the basic fact that Colombo is a traditional native place of diverse communities. Colombo is not only buildings and roads. Colombo residents and other people are also a part of Colombo. Developing Colombo should be developing its people too. Real city beautification is beautifying the lives of the city dwellers, especially the poor masses, whom the government always claims to be representing.

In her book THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets." (

Beware! Talks about resettling Colombo canal bank dwellers that are now displaced due to floods can also be a move of this disaster capitalism.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

He was legendary Volleyball Sira of cricketing Sri Lanka

No action photos for media
Only this one with his son
(May 18, Colombo - Lanka PolityW.L. Siriwardhana of Gampaha, who was known as legendary ‘Volleyball Sira‘ bade farewell to Sri Lanka.

Mr. Siriwardhana was the captain of Sri Lanka’s national volleyball team for 12 years in 1950s and 60s. He was renowned in the Asian region as a gifted dasher. He was popular among Sri Lankans as much as the brilliant cricketers were among cricket fans. However, he was not among the sportsmen the President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently awarded for their lifetime achievements. His funeral was also unattended by political bigwigs.

Volleyball is still the national game of Sri Lanka although it never reached to professional level.

Volleyball is a sport Sri Lankans can play anywhere in the island with low capital cost since the equipments and standard courts do not cost a fraction of expenses for a game like cricket.

Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka although less than thousand people play standard cricket. Few turfs are available even in Colombo except what are available the international cricket grounds. Most of the outstation schools and clubs play cricket on matting made of coir string. Tennis ball cricket that is played by the majority of the ordinary cricketers is far below cricket standards.

Most Sri Lankans do not play any kind of cricket although they are ardent fans of the game. Most of these fans are not healthy people since they do not play or exercise at all. One of them died in a heart attack recently when Sri Lanka beat India in a thrilling match to enter the semi-finals of T-20 World Cup.

Sports must be promoted as a human exercise and not as a way having sheer thrill or betting if a nation needs healthy and fit populace.

Sri Lanka can promote volleyball among people easily if it really needs it to be made the national sport. The chairmanship of Sri Lanka Volleball Federation itself reflects the pathetic situation of the national sport. The federation has failed to seek a powerful person to lead it.

Present Chairman Dilan Perera is a Deputy Minister of the government and he laments he has been denied a cabinet portfolio despite his presence in the parliament since 1994. Sri Lanka's national sport is also like him.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sri Lankan village woman Kawamma the real miracle of Somawathi

(May 17, Colombo - Lanka PolityKawamma, a 79-year-old village woman and a mother of three from Wariyapola in Sri Lanka’s Northwestern Province, is the real miracle of Somawathi, a Buddhist temple in the Eastern Province. However, she is an ordinary village woman apparently uneducated.

More than 800,000 devotees flocked in this forest-locked temple to see the body rays of Lord Buddha from the dagaba in the temple on May 09th. Torrential rains and heavy traffic jam caused a stampede in which at least three persons were dead. Over 25 persons were hospitalized and some were missing for days.

Kawamma lost contact with her group of devotees and finally lost in the jungle and survived there for eight days until two Muslim fishermen that were fishing in Mahaweli River at Sungawila found her.

She had bruises in her body but she was healthy, Police said. Police admitted her in the hospital. She said to media that she did not eat anything but drank water from puddles and roamed chanting Buddhist ‘Gatha’.
The woman told the police she survived in jungle without any food for eight days drinking only water. She is a resident of the address Netiya, Malagane, Nuwarakanda, Wariyapola in the Kurunegala district.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tamil Diaspora fail to find a sick bed for slain LTTE leader's mother

(May 13, Colombo - Lanka PolitySeventy nine years old Parvathi Velupillai is a partly paralyzed, diabetic, hypertension patient. she, the widow of a late junior public servant of Sri Lanka that hailed from an ordinary family of Velvetithurai, Jaffna was (would you believe?) a threat to national security of mighty India, that boasts about the forth biggest Army of the world.

This woman lived with her husband for nearly two decades in India without being a security threat before 2002.

She is the mother of the slain leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) Velupillai Prabakaran. While the Sinhala polity celebrates the killing of her son an year ago, ending a three decade of bloody war, this sick woman has been admitted to Velvetithurai hospital in Jaffna with a minor paralysis in her body, said a medical officer of the hospital.

Mrs. Parvathi was brought to India from Malaysia for treatment few weeks back but India denied her entry on the basis she was a threat to national security. Later, with the intervention of the Tamil Nadu government she was offered conditional visa to admit into a hospital in Chennai.

Indian media reports said Parvathi's party rejected India's offer for conditional visa to visit Tamil Nadu for her treatment.

However, former Jaffna district Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.K. Sivajilingam, a close relative of Prabakaran’s family said that she was admitted to the hospital of her home town on the request of the family members.

India gave refuge to a young Prabakaran in her soil when he was a busy young man organizing a violent movement for national liberation of Sri Lankan Tamils. The war in Sri Lanka led to a massive outflow of Tamils to developed West and a Tamil Diaspora was formed. It pumped blood to the LTTE that played a vibrant role in global politics although it was a banned terrorist organization in many countries.

Sri Lankan Tamils were always on the lookout for the good of the international community to save them from the Sinhalese they branded as evil-minded and hell-bent on hunting the Tamils. For them, Sinhala polity was a single unit of oppressors. Their strategy forced them not to look beyond that. There were some good individuals among Sinhalese, but the polity is wicked to them as a whole, they propagated.

Now, their slain leader Prabakaran's paralyzed mother cannot actually find a hospital bed from the societies they thought they would find good someday.

Eventually, it is Velvetithurai, her village by the sea in Jaffna peninsula that is now a military colony guarded by Sinhala soldiers, seems to be the place where she can lay to rest one day as same as many thousands of other Tamil men and women did without leaving tombstones.

Once and for all, Tamils have been disillusioned another time by the so-called saviors in the international community and the Tamil, Sinhala polities sit face to face once again with eyes full of hatred. Following three decades of war, we have again come to the starting point. There is no one to save us. We the Sri Lankans have to find a way to share this country respectfully without fighting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weddings in Buddhist temples and Christianization of Buddhism

New couple under a bo tree
(May 12, Colombo - Lanka PolityPiyumi Boteju is a beautiful actress of Sri Lanka. She took the hands of a young man recently and she made a topic for us not because of her wedding but because of the venue it was held.

The wedding took place in Gangaramaya, a famous Buddhist temple in Colombo. Buddhism deals mostly with the spiritual side of the life and the Buddhist temple normally is not a place where weddings take place.

But in recent times, some young Buddhist couples tend to register their weddings in temples and some of them lobby for Buddhist monks vested in legal powers to register marriages, a power that the Christian priests possess.

This is the Vesak month the Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. It is interesting to see that the Buddhists send Vesak cards as same as Christians, make Sal Uyana, an equivalent of a Christmas decoration and sing Vesak 'carols'. The day following the Vesak full moon day is a holiday in Sri Lanka and many Buddhists feast on that day like Christians do on Christmas.

This 'Christianization' of Buddhism began in late 19th century under the patronage of Henry Steel Olcott of Buddhist Theosophical Society. One can study the ancient Sinhala literature to see how different the way the Buddhists followed religion before this cultural reform.

Weddings in temples are a culmination of this 'Christianization of Buddhism' movement.

Apart from the shifts in the traditional sects, some Buddhist monks have even imitated the evangelist Christian sects when they created a new kind of religious centers called Asapu in Sri Lanka.

Inter religious cultural transfer is common and Sri Lanka's Christianity too is immensely influenced by Buddhism.

But the problem here is that the Buddhist leaders blatantly imitate Christian values while criticizing West and sowing hatred against the minority religions in the country.

Original Buddhism is far different from what is now worshiped by most 'Buddhists' in Sri Lanka. During Vesak, it is good if Buddhists can focus to rediscover Buddha, leaving behind this hubbub of religio-business and chauvinist ethno-religious projects that go in the name of Buddhism in contemporary Sri Lankan society.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stampede in Somawathi of Sri Lanka and Lord Buddha's ban on miracles

(May 11, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lankan W. Podi Appuhami, a 70 years old farmer of Welimada went to Somawathi in a goods transport truck to see the ancient pagoda emanate the light rays of Lord Buddha came home as a dead man. Media says that the man was killed when he fell from the lorry.

Forty two years old M.P. Lionel Samarawickrama of Galewela and 53 years old M. Karunawathi of Rajagiriya were dead in heart attacks at Somawathi. Media want to say that they were not killed in a stampede. But they could not be taken to a hospital due to traffic jam and torrential rains.

A stampede is a sudden, frenzied rush or headlong flight of a herd of frightened animals or people. The incident that took place in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province Somawathi is none other than a stampede although some elements are in need of hiding that reality. At least 25 people were injured in this stampede. Some are still disappeared.

This kind of accidents are rare in Sri Lanka. During war, people did not gather in such large numbers such as around 800,000 in more than 30,000 vehicles in a remote Buddhist shrine that is situated inside a forest reserve. This place is forest-locked and totally inadequate in facilities for such a huge crowd. The devotees were lured their by persons that publicized they would show the devotees the rays of Lord Buddha's body emanate from the pagoda there.

In Sri Lanka, there is a group of business minded persons that are disguised as monks that perform false miracles and attract crowds. They earn millions of rupees in hours by selling books, magazines, cassettes and CDs etc. to the crowd and even evade tax payments. The other religious businessmen that provide venues for these miracle performers also profit in various ways such as till and commissions from small businesses that sell various goods to the devotees.

These persons subtly manipulate media for their lucrative business and one can observe that they have already started false propaganda to hide themselves from the actual crime they committed and to mislead devotees further even before the dead persons were buried.

Many Buddhists that flock to see miracles do not know that Lord Buddha banned performing miracles for personal benefit.

Six years after attaining the supremacy, Lord Buddha stayed in Rajagahanuwara in the rainy season. By this time, a nobleman in the city that met with a Sandalwood trunk that came floating in a river made a bowl out of it. He placed it on a very tall post and challenged the monks in the city to perform miracle and take it. As all the other monks failed, a Buddhist monk called Pindola Bharadwaja took it.

When Lord Buddha came to know this incident, he banned performing miracles for personal benefit.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

What motives of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa push him towards a 'Truth Commission'?

(May 07, Colombo - Lanka Polity) After winning a second term as President and consolidating power through a general election, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to appoint a committee to probe any right abuses committed during the decade-long war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and to compensate the victims and their families who suffered during the conflict that killed nearly 100,000 people.

The President will shortly appoint a commission to report on the 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation' with regard to the difficulties and troubled times that Sri Lanka had to undergo due to the terrorist inspired, maneuvered and created conflict situation in recent years, the government media unit announced today.

The commission outwardly appears as a Truth Commission that can lead to a genuine post-war reconciliation if it proceeds in a genuine path. But it is not an international commission of eminent persons. Still there is no guarantee about the ethnic balance of the commission. The guarantee of the safety of the witnesses is something unachievable in the present context of Sri Lanka. Yet, the Sri Lankan government needs to ensure accountability for serious violations, an absolutely vital precondition for genuine reconciliation and lasting peace. Let us wish the proceeding of the commission may find solutions for these basic issues. But, does Sri Lanka have capacities for a commission of this nature? Why does it not go international?

In the present context, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is so powerful that the international community will not consider penalizing him. Instead, they can help to build up a productive mechanism for a true reconciliation process. The President needs to understand that reconciliation cannot be imposed. It should generate on its own. He can facilitate it efficiently to achieve positive outcome.

Last May, President Rajapaksa promised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations.

Western governments and right groups have accused Sri Lanka military of war crimes during the final phase of its bloody offensive with the LTTE in which the military crushed the rebel outfit and all of its senior leaders last May.

This commission seems a result of US pressure. In October, the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp called on the Sri Lankan government to "develop an accountability process that respects the interests of all."

In November, the publication of the State Department report compelled Rajapaksa to appoint a six-member committee of "experts" to "examine [its allegations] carefully." The committee's only mandate was to provide recommendations to the president in December (later postponed to April), and its members appeared not to be independent-minded.

Now that committee has gone and a new committee appears before the world that has all reasonable doubts on such moves of Sri Lankan rulers. Once the President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to probe a number of serious violations of human rights. But the IIGEP ended with no productive result and the conclusion of some members of the group that the government lacked the political will to hold accountable the perpetrators of these egregious crimes.

However, we think that it is not fair to be totally pessimistic regarding the fresh move of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa since it is a move for his benefit in the present context than one that can cause damage to him as it could happen before April 08 general elections.

The President is using the present political stability and outward return of normalcy in the country as an opportunity to mend ties with the Western governments that were traditional allies of Sri Lanka and also to emerge in international politics as a recognized leader that defeated terrorism.

The Commission in assessing the 'Lessons Learnt' from the recent conflict phase will search for any violations of internationally accepted norms of conduct in such conflict situations, and the circumstances that may have led to such actions, and identify any persons or groups responsible for such acts, the government announced.

The government says the findings will help to ensure that there will be no recurrence of such tragic conflict in the future. The words alludes a general amnesty although it is not directly connoted.

The Commission comprises seven eminent Sri Lankans that live in the country and abroad. They will evaluate the nature of compensation to be granted to the victims of the conflict or their dependents.

It will also make recommendations for the reconciliation process among the communities, reconstruction, and rehabilitation and recommend the legislative and administrative measures that may be necessary in order to prevent such situations in the future.

The Terms of Reference for the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation are to be Gazetted in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sri Lankan Tamil journalist Tissainayagam released; his friends unhappy

(May 05, Colombo - Lanka Polity) We hail the Presidential pardon to English writing Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam who was sentenced to twenty years by a Sri Lanka court for charges framed under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). This move can lead to building up of national harmony and promotion of democracy.

Tissainayagam was sentenced to twenty years rigorous imprisonment by a motive to teach a lesson to the pro-Tamil nationalist media. President Mahinda Rajapaksa provided amnesty to him a year after the victory in the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) to show how democratic his rule is now and to mend the friendship with the Western countries that were traditional allies of Sri Lanka. This action looks directly linked with the government's attempt to regain G.S.P. Plus tariff concessions from European Union.

Amidst war, a number of journalists that criticized the military project of the government were killed and some were harassed and detained. After the war, another set of journalists that were supporting ex-Army Commander and Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka's power project were either arrested or intimidated.

Few social activists of Sri Lanka were bold enough to take part locally in the international campaign to get Tissainayagam freed. The organizers of the meeting held in Colombo last year to protest the sentence and to urge the release of Tissainayagam were in utmost difficulty to find a venue for the meeting. Even the administration of the Jayawardhana Center where the meeting was held eventually wanted to cancel the event. Journos were scanty among the around one hundred participants of activists of this event. Tissainayagam's elderly father delivered a marvelous speech, I remember.

The fate of Tissainayagam also opened doors for  a flow of money for some NGOs appearing to fight for press freedom and democracy.

Some mean characters that were holding the positions of these organizations stopped all media activities they were engaged in, if there was any, and began to find avenues to migrate to Western European countries that are socially better developed. Some of Tissainayagam's political friends were so organized that they were able to get the entire families migrated manipulating the news stories they themselves got planted in friendly media.

There are some others that fled the country actually to get rid of their wives and children. Some persons were responsible for swindling huge sums of money from the accounts of the organizations for press freedom.

Some of these thieves are now writing sensitive poetry while the majority of them do nothing except greedily devouring the newfound fantasies. The major thing they were not doing while they were in Sri Lanka also was non other than writing to media.

Most probably Tisainayagam will also migrate out of Sri Lanka with his family possibly to join the lot above mentioned. But we think Tissainayagam still can do a service to his community he fought for if he remains Tissainayagam. He will be like jailed for life if he will be caught again in another unscrupulous project of some of the artful dodgers he was in association earlier.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Wimal Weerawansa; completion of capitalist metamorphosis of an our time revolutionary

(May 02, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Wimal Weerawansa is my friend one time if not now. I do not have any reason to consider him as an enemy despite whatever the role he played in Sri Lankan politics in which, I think, he did what history asked him to do as same as Vepupillai Prabakaran did. I am not aware if he has any such enmity with me. We have not met for as long a time as two decades.

We both entered politics in latter half of the 1980s as activists of the People's Liberation Front (JVP) that was underground by the time. I was several years senior to him. He hailed from a lower middle class family.

After the defeat of the 1989 insurrection, I quit JVP but he continued in it while working as a journalist. He gradually went up in the power ladder of the JVP and became the Propaganda Secretary and the Parliamentary Group Leader.

He is very famous for his eloquence in disseminating radical ideas deep fried in Sinhala chauvinism. But, Wimal was not as much popular among party cadres as he was popular among less educated masses. He was  actually sacked from the party in 2007 and he quickly responded by putting together several disgruntled and sacked party groups to form a political party. The beginning of the party was half-hearted but soon it gathered momentum and moved with new hopes of creating an alternative for the JVP.

Wimal's party National Freedom Front (JNP) introduced a new culture that deviated from the traditional JVP professional revolutionary cadre. But the journey was brief since the people gathered around Wimal were too ambitious and power greedy. Wimal too was not in a caliber to give leadership to such a greedy and opportunist lot.

A good example is Kamal Deshapriya Mannawaththa, an old colleague of Wimal that broke away from the party with a group in late 1990s due to an internal power crisis. Mannawaththa was swiftly ushered to the post of National Organizer of the JNP after a decade of political inactivity. Wimal praised the man too much to make him think he could be the real leader of the party. He wanted his group to get washed into the Provincial Councils but the circumstances were extremely difficult and Wimal had to thwart Mannawaththa. The party was losing elections and ultimately, he left with his group sparing ex-JVP politburo member Nandana Gunathilaka who remained in the party for opportunistic reasons. Sometimes later, he also joined the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party. While he was a cabinet Minister, Mannawaththa was in his staff. He left Gunathilaka since the latter did not give into his need of having a nominal party instead of directly joining the ruling party. Mannawaththa could have secured a national list seat through his strategy that Gunathilaka spoiled.

With this, Wimal was entirely surrounded by a naked lot of power greedy, ambitious, inefficient guys that wanted Wimal's shoulder to go up before they kick the ladder. The best example is Achala Suranga Jagoda, national list MP of the JNP, a notable absentee of this set of photos who is now to cross over to the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Wimal was in a path that there was no return. He could not lose because the militant JVP was after him. Just before the presidential was called, Wimal was almost alone in late 2009. When ex-Army Commander Sarath Fonseka posed a serious challenge to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Wimal gambled his future taking his side boldly while the others were waiting and seeing. He won the gamble and the pictures of his assuming duties as a powerful cabinet Minister shows what he achieved in return.

Many blame Wimal and the blamers have reasons since so many JVP cadres and sympathizers sacrificed their lives and day for the party to achieve socialism. Instead leading the party towards socialism, a set of bureaucrat have settled in a game of power play and Wimal is a winner for the moment, while the likes of Somawansa Amarasinghe, Anura Kumara Disanayaka and Lal Kantha have lost. Then why blame Wimal alone?

Now, gone is gone. Wimal is now in the core of Sri Lanka's capitalist politics. His former colleagues have failed in whatever their targets. Wimal is a creative man in many senses. Let us see what changes he may do in capitalist politics.

But our warning is beware of those who are around you!
-Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe

Saturday, May 01, 2010

How the rulers of Sri Lanka broke the promises given to working class during elections

(May 01, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  The working class of Sri Lanka is facing the harsh reality of the rulers they secured in power even before a month passed after they swept Mahinda Rajapaksa regime into the parliament with a close to two third majority.

The government has completely forgotten the promises to increase salaries of the 1.2 million public sector employees and 4.5 million private sector employees. Even the government employees that voted overwhelmingly to the regime has forgotten the promises they were given. Our observation was that they did not take these promises seriously.

But, the state-run media brightened the spirits of the voters by igniting the hopes of important statement from the government on May Day. Working class had hopes in the back of their minds that the government would not totally forget them.

Now, all hopes are gone. The hyped salary increase for the employees that come under the Wages Board control is also proved a fraudulent propaganda piece.

Minister of Labour Relations and Productivity Promotion Gamini Lokuge announced that the minimum wages of the private sector employees that are covered by Wages Boards would have an increase to their minimum salary from 20% to 45%. The Minister stated that the minimum salary of the employees would be increased from Rs. 7000 to 10,000 accordingly.

However, the Secretary of Free Trade Zone Employees’ Union Anton Marcus said that Wages Boards could decide only the minimum wage of a sector of employment that is covered by Wages Boards. He pointed out that practically the minimum wage of the employees in these sectors are above that is specified by the Wages Boards. Therefore, the employees will not have any salary increase, he says.

Marcus also said that of the above 4.5 million private sector employees of the country, only 2.5 million are subjected to the Wages Board wage control. Twenty million have been totally left out, he says.

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