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The President’s Commitment To Give Up His Political Strength 

By Jehan Perera -

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

With the debate over the 19th Amendment to the constitution getting into its final phase this week, the nation is entering a decisive phase. The passage of this constitutional amendment will set in motion a procedure whereby Sri Lanka will turn into subject to the Rule of Law and not the rule of males as was advocated by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in its report after having consulted a wide swarth of the nation&#8217s intellectuals, decisionmakers and neighborhood leaders. The presidential program in Sri Lanka was flawed at its really inception, as it did not supply for an adequate technique of checks and balances discovered in democratic nations with profitable presidential systems. The 19th Amendment will go a signficant portion of the way to produce situations for much better governance in the country.

The abolishing of the presidential technique has been portion of the election manifesto of previous presidents. But it has been President Maithripala Sirisena who has been most committed to shedding his powers. He has had to endure barbs that he is not a robust leader. But he has shown strength in getting committed to reform the presidency as he promised in the course of the presidential election campaign. Even though most other political leaders will fight for their personal powers, he is being accurate to the Buddhist ethos of his upbringing to transcend that fight in which he prevailed for a greater purpose. The President&#8217s efforts to push by way of a constitutional amendment that will reduce his own power is a uncommon instance of statesmanship, not only in Sri Lanka but worldwide.

There is a fantastic deal of international expectations about progress in Sri Lanka. The pay a visit to of US Secretary of State John Kerry will be taking place the following week. Sri Lanka is able to position itself as a post-war nation with a message to other nations that are struggling to come out of their own conflicts. The Sri Lankan model of changing governments, even quite potent and seemingly entrenched ones, through the democratic procedure is one particular that the international community would wish to support in other parts of the globe where adjust of governments are required. The Sri Lankan model of a president from one key party operating a government with a prime minister from a rival key party, and a government that has practically all parties in Parliament represented in it is exclusive.

Progressive Conference 

The new spirit of goodwill and openness to the planet, which President Maithripala Sirisena spoke of in his address to the nation final week on the occasion of the one hundred day anniversary of his government is also present in civil society. This was evident at an international conference on religious tolerance and hamony that took spot at the Buddhist and Pali University final week. The university is meant primarily for the tertiary education of Buddhist monks. As a result it has the possible to have a significant impact on the leadership role of the Buddhist religious clergy. Most often those from the religious community who have taken to politics do so in a parochial spirit. Nonetheless, there is an ethos of universality in the Buddhist teachings which is too often not manifested by politically motivated sections of the community. The international conference organised by the Buddhist and Pali University represented the universal and wholesome approach.

Maithripala FB 24 04 2014The conference attracted participation from different parts of the world, such as India, Myanmar, Maldives, Norway and the United States. From within Sri Lanka there was participation from numerous universities, most notably Jaffna University which had a contingent of students and lecturers. At the conclusion of the conference, these who had come from outdoors, and been guests of the Buddhist and Pali University were full of praise for the organisers of the conference. The participants from Jaffna have been also moved to defend the organisers who had come in for criticism from outside. There was damaging commentary in a section of the media that the conference organisers had accepted monetary help from the US embassy for the conference. There was also criticism that the Buddhist flag was not put up at the conference venue. The conference showed that when Buddhist monks are offered the space and support, they will act in a universal manner as befits the leadership of any religion.

Till last week it seemed that nationalism was on the rise once again. The impunity with which the Sinhalese nationalist supporters of the former government waved distorted national flags, from which the two strips that represent the Tamil and Muslim communities were removed, was reflective of the rawness of their nationalism. The rambunctious rallies organised by these who advocate the return of defeated former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the centre of politics have been also primarily based on the mobilisation of ethnic nationalism. Defeated at the presidential election on the major ground of corruption, they have been seeking to steer the political debate back to raw nationalism. Their nationalism was offered a increase by the resolution of the Northern Provincial Council which accused successive Sri Lankan governments of getting practised genocide against the Tamils from the time of Independence.

Equal Treatment 

Because the final week the government appears to be a lot more confident. Twenty six persons, such as leaders of the pro-Rajapaksa group of parliamentarians who defied a judicial order stopping them from staging a protest in front of the Bribery Commission workplace, have been summoned by the police. They not only defied the judicial order, but also waved the distorted national flags. In a lot of countries, desecrating the national flag is regarded as a punishable offence. In addition, the arrest of former minister Basil Rajapaksa for financial misappropriation of government funds belonging to his ministry would have come as a shock to those who believed in the continuing energy and influence of the former government leaders. The public protest has been muted. It seems that individuals accept the Rule of Law, even as they acquiesce in the abuse of power by politicians.

Due to the 3 decades of violence and conflict in the country and the propaganda of the rival nationalist camps numerous Sri Lankan folks at this point of time look to be confused about the way forward. The government has done nothing at all that is anti-national. But the opposition claims it is, even though the Tamil men and women in the North particularly complain that normalcy in their lives, and justice, has yet to come to them. At the identical time there is a deep underlying social and cultural unity in the nation, which was pointed out by one particular of the international participants at the conference organised by the Buddhist and Pali University. This unity manifests itself effortlessly when there is goodwill and hospitality, which the Sri Lankan individuals are capable of displaying from the heart. This unity tends to make the challenge of healing and reconciliation achievable, rather than impossible. The freedom and space to meet, to dialogue and to get to know each other is crucial to protect.

In his televised adddress to the individuals on the occasion of the 100th day anniversary, President Maithripala Sirisena mentioned that eliminating the culture of worry was 1 of the achievements of this period. It has taken away the worry that shackled the creativity and self-confidence of the people. Nevertheless, in the North of the country, the full enjoyment of the correct to be free of charge from fear is yet to be realised. According to participants who came to the conference from Jaffna, the military presence continues to be oppressive. The military is less directive than it was in the previous. There is no need to get permission to conduct events. But the military will come and ask queries and take photographs. This intimidates the individuals as they are fearful as to what use will be produced of this proof in the future. They too look to the president with hope, even as he fights for constitutional reform and power-sharing as no one particular else has, and to generate a new polity in which the deep cultural and social unity in the nation and amongst its distinct communities manifests itself as political unity also.

Gota’s Flag: Desecrating The National Flag

By Hilmy Ahamed -

Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

The racist discards of the Rajapaksa era have opened a new front in their chauvinistic march to generate further ethnic turmoil in our nation by desecrating the National Flag. The protesters against the Sirisena government are now carrying a new National Flag that does not have the Orange and Green stripes that denote the minorities in the country. This was witnessed at the protests held each on Parliament Drive on 21st April 2015 when Mahinda Rajapaksa was summoned by the Bribery Commission and the illegal protest in help of Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 23rd April 2015 outdoors the premises of the Bribery Commission. This flag was first seen in some protests against the Muslims and other minorities that were organized by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in the course of the Rajapaksa regime.

The following is the justification for the style of the National Flag as recorded in a quantity of Government internet sites: “The National Flag of Sri Lanka has been made with fantastic care and goal. It not only represents the country and her heritage, but is a rallying device that integrates the minority races with the majority race”.

The lion flag lost its significance right after the British invaded Sri Lanka in 1815. It was the Union Jack, which was hoisted in its spot.

The Flag carried by the protesters

The Flag carried by the protesters

When Sri Lanka gained her independence from Wonderful Britain on February 04, 1948, it was the lion flag, which was hoisted when once again.

The 1st Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka, D.S. Senanayake, appointed a committee to advice the government on the design of a new national flag. The design approved by the committee in February 1950 retained the symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves from the civil standard of the final king of Sri Lanka, with the inclusion of two vertical stripes green and orange in color. The orange stripe represents the Sri Lankan Tamils, the green stripe represents Sri Lankan Moors, and the maroon background represents the majority of Sinhalese:Sri Lanka National Flag

Desecrating the National flag is a severe offence that warrants criminal prosecution. Wikipedia explains the desecration of the national flag as:

“Flag desecration is a term applied to the desecration of flags or flag protocol, a numerous set of acts that intentionally destroy, damage or mutilate a flag in public. Typically, in case of a national flag, such action is intended to make a political point against a nation or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding techniques of destruction (such as burning in public) or forbidding specific utilizes.”

Udaya Gammanpila, the Western Provincial Councilor and leader of the Pivithuru Hetak National Movement was one particular of the principal organizer of the protest outside the Bribery Commission in support of the former Defense Secretary, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He not only defied a court order banning the protest, thereby liable to be charged for contempt of court, but also ought to be held responsible for desecrating the national flag, which is a criminal offence. He may possibly not have carried the flag himself, but he should be held responsible for the goons who carried it as the organizer of the protest. As a lawyer, he need to know much better.

Gota National Flag UdayaVarious persons have already produced police complaints and instant action must be taken by the Police to make sure that this menace is nipped in the bud. Most folks have a tendency to brush off these forms of racism as an insignificant nuisance, but the country witnessed a comparable campaign of blatant racism and hate that was spearheaded by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya with the assistance of a number of other racists groups and folks that grew in to a national crisis. The hate campaign against the Muslims by Buddhist extremists was the trigger of the violence in Aluthgama and Beruwela that destroyed the image of the nation as it did for the duration of the dark days of the 1983 riots against the Tamil minority. The 1983 riot is regarded as 1 of the factors that forced Tamil youth to take up arms to defend their neighborhood. The end of the 30 year armed conflict ought to be credited to the political leadership of the Rajapaksa regime and the military leadership of Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka and other commanders of the defense forces. Yet, the possibilities that have been on provide at the finish of the war for reconciliation was not produced use of by the Rajapaksa government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa could have gone down in history as the person who discovered a permanent remedy for all communities to reside in harmony in Sri Lanka, but his Sinhala chauvinism destroyed that chance.

The Sirisena government has taken some bold steps to stem the racist agenda of Buddhist extremists. The declaration that the national anthem could be sung in the Tamil language shows courage by President Maithripala Sirisena against the forces, which operate for narrow political acquire. The need to have for decisive action against the new nexus of racists that has been formed by the discards of the Rajapaksa era is paramount. The Inspector Basic of Police must order the immediate arrest of any individual or groups that promote racism or hate failure to do so would drive Sri Lanka to the dark days of racism witnessed below Rajapaksa rule.

Video English – Australian Advocacy for Very good Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGGSL) – Lionel Bopage

Australian Advocacy for Great Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGGSL): Sri Lanka deserves Great Governance, responsive to the will of its peoples!
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Nethu Piyan - Manjula Pushpakumara (New 2014 )

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An Earnest Request To The Sri Lankan Parliamentarians

By Lionel Bopage -

Dr Lionel Bopage

Dr Lionel Bopage

To All Honourable Members of Parliament

Assistance the passage of the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution 

As you debate the above Constitutional Amendment in the Parliament under challenging circumstances, we believed that it is crucial to encourage you to see to its effective passage.

One particular of the key political reforms put to the men and women of Sri Lanka at the January 2015 Presidential election was the abolition of the Executive Presidency. The Presidential Election Manifesto and the different promises made in the course of the election campaign led the folks of Sri Lanka elect President Maithripala Sirisena in the belief that an interim national government, with Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, will enact constitutional amendments to abolish the Executive Presidency. Nearly all political entities and men and women who supported the ‘Common Opposition Candidate’, with the exception of Pivituru Hetak Jathika Sabhava, had the strongest expectation of totally abolishing the Executive Presidency.

The same manifesto also pledged to: … … abolish the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and replace it with the establishment of independent Commissions in order to safe the impartiality of institutions such as the judiciary, police, elections, auditing and the office of the Lawyer-Common (p.16). These far-reaching constitutional reforms are fundamentally important for ‘good governance’ the individuals of Sri Lanka rightfully deserve.

We recognise that the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution will abrogate the 18th Amendment, and allow the establishment of Constitutional Council and other Independent Commissions. The Amendment also upholds suitable procedures for making judicial appointments and recognises the ‘Right of access to information’ held by the government.

In light of the truth that the comprehensive abolition of the executive presidency could only be achieved with the approval at a Referendum, AAGGSL strongly urges all political entities and folks to help the passage of the proposed amendment, irrespective of their political differences. This will at least ensure partial fulfilment of the aspirations of the majority of the citizens, who voted for establishing Very good Governance and enduring peace in Sri Lanka. Issues of electoral reforms – although critical – are secondary for now, and they can be and should be addressed in the spirit of items, responsibly and separately.

The recent Supreme Court decision – that the Parliament with two-thirds majority could (a) take away the Executive powers to appoint judges of the Supreme Court (b) appoint Police Commission, Public Service Commission, Human Rights Commission, Elections Commission and Bribery Commission – gives renewed impetus for the passing of these essential amendments.

We urge that you act in the ideal interest of the country at heart with courage and good will.

Please be advised that the AAGGSL respects the rights and will of all peoples of Sri Lanka, and is committed to supporting the establishment of practicing democracy and rule of law in our motherland. Strengthening democracy and empowering folks often acquire worldwide recognition.

Yours sincerely

Dr Lionel Bopage &#8211 President, Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka

Loss due to Controversial Bond

THIS IS THE Biggest LOSS THAT SRI LANKA HAS EVER SUFFERED.
Attached herewith is an professional computation of the improve in interest expenses that has been suffered by the Government as a result of the 30 year bond interest price getting artificially improved on 27th of February 2015.&nbsp
This huge loss as pointed out by Hon Bandula Gunawardena is increasing every time Treasury Bills and Bonds are issued from 27th February 2015 onwards. It has currently reached mega proportions as shown by him, and is simply the single biggest loss that the Sri Lankan Government has ever suffered IN It’s Complete HISTORY. What is worse is that it is continuing and the losses are mounting each and every week.&nbsp
Consequently, this bleeding Must BE STOPPED right away if the economy is to be safeguarded.
Sadly, the government as effectively as most men and women are in a state of denial with regard to these losses, and that is what is so sad.&nbsp
In the meantime, the interest rates are now artificially high as a result of the bond fiasco, and the government as nicely as all the people are now paying these unnecessarily higher rates. The benefit of the low inflation regime is&nbsp becoming squandered.

Sri Lanka measures up death video rebuttal Channel 4 News

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Electoral Reforms In Sri Lanka: Tiny Parties & The Proposed 20th Amendment

By Sujata Gamage -

Dr. Sujata Gamage

Dr. Sujata Gamage

We ultimately have some legislative language to start off a discussion on electoral reforms. Kudos to the SLFP for carrying out a draft on the 97th day of the 100-day program. What was the government doing all this time is a very good query, but, for the moment let us feel positively and concentrate on enhancing the draft.

Frustrated by the lack of action by the government half-way into hundred day program, a group of us joined by CaFFEsrilanka.org started a campaign to jump-start electoral reforms using an proof-primarily based approach. The first workshop was held at Nagarodaya, Borella. The workshop was based on what-if simulations of benefits of the previous 4 common elections for which variations of the method proposed in the 2007 interim report of the Parliamentary Pick committee (PSC) on electoral reforms had been applied.

The approach proposed by PSC is what we called the MMM-LK approach. In MMM or Mixed Member Majoritarian systems, the parliament is created up two elements &#8211 the initial-past-the post FPP component and the PR element.

To pick the FPP component, slates of candidates are provided by parties for electorates in 1 or a lot more of the 22 electoral districts. The distinction from the ‘PR with Manape’ familiar to us in Sri Lanka is the fact that a candidate is designated for every single electorate. There are no excess candidates except in the nominations for national-list MPs. Whether there must be a district list is not specified however. At the polling station you would get a single ballot with the candidates for your electorate, say, Borella. You mark your preference with a single “X” and drop the ballot in the ballot box and you are done. The candidate who gets the most votes, even by a margin of 1, gets elected for the FPP element. A variation of this process will apply to multi-member electorates.

Tamil Vote Photo CREDIT- REUTERS:DINUKA LIYANAWATTEThe PR element is typically primarily based on the benefits of a second ballot exactly where you vote for the party of your selection. The Sri Lankan twist in the PSC technique is that we have only 1 ballot (apparently, Taiwan started with 1 ballot prior to moving onto two). The tally of the votes cast in the FPP contest is also utilized to determine the PR component. The elections Commissioner allocates the PR seats to parties in proportion to the remainder votes or the total votes minus the votes of the FPP winners and these who got less than 5% of the vote in any electoral district. Given that these votes are basically votes received by the runners-up, the bulk of the PR seats go the ideal runners-up, with every celebration retaining some.

During previous handful of weeks we also place forward what we called the MMP-LK or a mixed member proportional technique primarily based on the New Zealand electoral system. In MMP, you essentially commence with a PR parliament and then accommodate FPP winners within it. Overhangs are an inevitable part of the MMP systems. Approaches to correct exist but, as we located out, politicians and officials are not comfortable with the overhang idea, even even though MMP will yield a final composition of the parliament which is essentially the same as what we presently have. According to our evaluation the MMM-LK as well offers a outcome close to the one hundred% proportional result thanks to the remainder vote notion, one more twist supplied in the PSC method, and we feel MM-LK is just as very good an option (though purists amongst us could be appalled).

What is the magic formula?

The original PSC formula was 140+70+25 = 225 for a 62% FPP element in a 225- member parliament. The 32% PR component is comprised of 70 District PR members returned on the basis of reminder votes and an additional 15 returned in proportion to the total votes. Tiny parties were not happy with a ratio 62:38. They felt it should 50:50.

The formula offered in the draft amendment is an expanded one particular, with 165 FPP seats, 65 District-PR seats and 25 National List seats for total quantity of members in parliament at 255 (or 165+65+25=255) and an ‘apparent’ FPP:PR ratio of 64:36.

At very first sight, the improve in size is disturbing, but, I believe it is a is excellent compromise contemplating that the percentage of FPP MPs not considerably higher at 64%, and modest parties, especially, those representing geographically dispersed minorities such as Indian-origin Tamils (IOTS), is to be accommodated through multi-member seats and other tools. This will in impact decrease the ‘effective’ FPP:PR ratio.

Modest parties will not be harmed, if the efficient PR percent is enhanced via multi-member electorates.

In MMM, the relative size of the FPP element determines the nature of the parliament. The greater the FPP %, greater is the FPP nature or majoritarian nature of the parliament. A significant complaint about majoritarian systems compared to the present PR method is the fact that small parties can’t get any seats in FPP contest. For example, the 2010 common election yielded a parliament with 144 seats for UPFA, 60 for UNP, 14 for ITAK and 7 for JVP, with the present 90% PR with 10% bonus strategy. All other parties came by means of on the lists place forward by key parties that they had been allied with. Judging by the vote count at every 160 polling divisions in the previous 4 elections, none of the parties except UPFA, UNP and ITAK, and SLMC marginally, would have won initial-past-the-post if they contested alone. In essence, if the proposed reforms are implemented and the voter behavior does not adjust substantially, only the UPFA, UNP and North and East Primarily based Parties (NEBPs) such as ITAK and SLMC would have a displaying in the FPP element, reducing the possibilities for little parties.

What precisely is a small celebration? Many parties or groups are registered with Elections Commissioner and they contest the elections, but, not all parties execute equally. If we take the benefits of four past common election final results and exclude the governing party or alliance and the principal opposition party or alliance, we discover ten ‘small parties’ and one particular independent group securing seats in the parliament. These parties are broadly of three kinds in terms of their voter base.

Two of the much more visible modest parties are the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) which may well be known as ideological parties. For the duration of the past four elections, JVP secured a maximum of 10 seats and JHU a maximum of 7 seats. Since their voter base is a larger Sinhala-Buddhist constituency, if their ideologies are nonetheless eye-catching, these parties will continue to be represented in Parliament even under the proposed system, although in slightly smaller sized numbers, if past voting patterns persist.

Parties such as the Eelam People&#8217s Democratic Party (EPDP), Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress represent geographically defined communities in the North and the East. Even though SLMC also represents geographically dispersed Muslim communities to some extent, in term of its overall performance in the past elections, it has proved itself to be a lot more of an Eastern Province primarily based celebration. These NEBPs collectively account for 20-23 seats out of the 225 seats in parliament or about 10% of the seats, though they acquire a small less than in term of total votes.. This is by virtue of district-wise determination of the number of members returned below the present PR technique. These parties would not be affected unduly by the proposed reforms because they can win a substantial percent of the 20-30 FPP seats in the North and the East (and some of district-PR seats if their candidates drop some seats but do properly as runners-up). NEBPs also would get many national-list seats.

Thirdly, we have parties such as the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Up Nation People’s Front (UCPF) and Democratic Men and women&#8217s Liberation Front (DPLF) representing geographically dispersed minorities such as Indian-origin Tamils (IOT). SLMC also belongs in this category, presumably representing dispersed Muslims. Judging by the votes received when SLMC contested on its own, the party received its highest percent of votes outdoors the Eastern Province in Harispattuva and Udunuwara electorates in the Mahanuwara District. It had a smaller sized presence in Colombo, Beruwela, Puttalam, Horowpotana, Welimada, and Mawanella electorates in six other electoral districts.

We estimate that the parties representing dispersed communities stand to drop the most beneath the proposed Amendment 20 and therefore need to be provided protection in there by way of multi-member electorates.

Multimember electorates require to be defined far more strongly

Take the case of Indian origin Tamils (IOTs) who are now dispersed across the Central Province and beyond. Beneath the PR technique, leaders of IOT and Muslim communities have been in a position to negotiate with key parties to include their representatives in the candidate lists of these parties. They are able to negotiate due to the fact of their capacity to tap into this district-wide voter base and they get a reasonable representation by way of these negotiations. Beneath the mixed member method, which is largely primarily based on FPP contests in smaller sized electorates, the position of dispersed communities is weakened. An unfortunate outcome of proposed reforms, since dispersed communities, segments of the IOT neighborhood in particular, are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society.

The very best answer for dispersed communities is a sufficiently big and appropriately defined number of electorates returning two or a lot more members. These multi-members electorates are critical for other communities such as Sinhalese who live in majority Tamil or Muslim locations as properly. Caste concerns too may possibly nonetheless be relevant in some areas.

Whilst the larger aim of any sort of reform ought to be the integration of ethnic communities into 1 Sri Lankan neighborhood, the path to integration ought to be marked by respect and concern for differences. Unless a enough number of multi-member electorates are created in Mahanuwara, Kegalle, Badulla and other districts, the IOTs, for example, might shed representation. Therefore, I believe that an improve in the number of FPP units and hence the total quantity of seats in parliament to 255 is justified IF the increase is utilized to accommodate those who may get marginalized under the new technique.

The crucial report for IOT and other dispersed communities is the proposed new insertion in to Section 96Aof the constitution exactly where it says “it is acceptable to generate multi member electorates”, but the cause offered as follows:

“In order to avoid the number of members entitled to be returned to represent any electoral district from becoming excessive, it is appropriate to produce multi member electorates which are entitled to return a lot more than a single Member or the motives that led to the creation of a multi member electorate in the past are nevertheless valid and applicable.”

The multi-member situation is presented in the above section more as a solution to a technical dilemma than a human dilemma. An additional example is the clause which apparently is intended to steer clear of excessive creation of multi-member constituencies:

“Delimitation Commission shall have the energy to create a multi member electorate or multi member electorates, as the case may be. The Delimitation Commission nonetheless, shall make certain that the number of multi member electorates created, shall be kept at a minimum level.”

In contrast the language in the now repealed 14th amendment to create zones is virtually poetic. Beneath the Division of Electoral districts into Zone section in the 14th Amendment, dispersed communities are articulated as follows :

“a substantial concentration of persons united by a community of interest , whether racial, religious or such other like interest but differing in 1 or much more respects from the majority of electors in that electoral district

Inclusion of such language to define the beneficiaries of multi-member constituencies is a have to in the proposed amendment 20A.

The devil is in the details

There are more specifics that need to have to be expanded or clarified in the draft amendment. For instance, how are the district PRs seats to be awarded? What percent of the 65 district PR would go to the ideal runners-up and what percent would go to the parties? Will there be a district list or will there be extra persons in the National List designated for every single electoral district? I hope to address those issues in the next few articles based on our analysis.

Arjuna Mahendran not straight involved in Treasury Bond situation, says committee

The committee appointed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to inquire into the recent Central Bank Treasury Bond problem has stated that Governor Arjuna Mahendran had no direct part in deciding to accept bids over and above the Rs 01 billion stipulated in the 30-year bond tender and accepting up to Rs. 10 billion.

However, the committee has created far reaching recommendations to guarantee transparency and far better governance at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the Committee states it has noted critical lapses on the part of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) via which Perpetual Investments, said to belong to Governor Mahendran&#8217s son-in-law, had routed an unusually huge quantity of bids for the 30-year bond.

The Committee observed that the bidding pattern of Perpetual Investments was uncommon and warranted additional investigations.

The media release issued by the Ministry of Policy Preparing and Financial Affairs:

The committee of eminent lawyers which inquired into the 30-year Treasury Bond issuance has produced far reaching recommendations to guarantee transparency and far better governance at the Central Bank.

The 3-member Committee had interviewed a big number of individuals, which includes the governor, officials from the Central Bank, primary dealers and Perpetual Treasuries.

Many deficiencies in the bank&#8217s Public Debt Department (PDD) which handles all matters relating to servicing the domestic and foreign debt of the government of Sri Lanka was observed by the Committee.

&#8220Since the PDD is dealing with the most sensitive information of the government, the committee is of the opinion that a proper supervisory and monitoring mechanism has to be right away implemented with regard to its activities,&#8221 the committee mentioned in its 19-web page report.

However, the committee found that Governor Arjuna Mahendran had no direct role in deciding to accept bids more than and above the one billion rupees stipulated in the 30-year bond tender and accept up to ten billion rupees. The PDD had projected the government&#8217s funding requirement as at 2nd March 2015 at 13.55 billion rupees.

&#8220Even though the minutes of the Monetary Board number 4/2015 specifies to problem a 30-year treasury bond, the amount of the bond has not been decided by the Monetary Board (of which the governor is the chairman).

&#8220This exercising is vested with the PDD as per the Operational Manual of the PDD. The decision to accept the excess amount has been taken by the Tender Board Committee that comprises eight members.

&#8220The governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka is not a member of the Tender Board Committee.&#8221

The Committee concluded that there was no proof to the impact that the governor had direct participation with regard to the activities of the PDD and the Tender Board Committee.

Nonetheless, the Committee noted critical lapses on the element of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) by way of whom Perpetual Treasuries had routed an unusually huge amount of bids for the 30-year bond.

The Committee observed that the bidding pattern of Perpetual Treasuries was uncommon and warranted a further investigation.

It noted that the Bank of Ceylon ought to also carry out a forensic audit and seek explanations from its Chief Dealer and other individuals on ad-hoc choices risking a big quantity of BOC funds involved in the 30-year bond transaction.

The 3-member Committee that looked into the 30-year bond concern comprised Gamini Pitipana (Attorney-At-Law) as Chairman and Mahesh Kalugampitiya (Lawyer-At-Law), Chandimal Mendis (Lawyer-At-Law) as committee members.

Source: Ada Derana

Solid Waste Is No Much more Waste To Be Condemned It Is Like Gold

By W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

‘Solid waste no more waste but like gold’ says Sri Lankan-born scientist C. Visvanathan

How would we react to a nauseatingly stinking dump of garbage in the vicinity? Stinking of all kinds of foul odours because it is in various stages of natural decomposition? Many of us would wrinkle up our noses and try to walk away from it as fast as possible. That is because for many of us, garbage is a waste, a polluter of environment and a violator of our aesthetic feelings. Hence, in our judgment, garbage is something that should not be there in a decent environment.

When you see a heap of dirt, you must see a beautiful rose

We hold this view, because our vision does not extend beyond our eyesight. However, if we are able to see the whole process of a natural phenomenon, our view on garbage would be different. This was beautifully explained by the Vietnam born Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, in a commentary he wrote on the Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra, also known as Heart Sutra and said to have been preached by Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, under the title ‘The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra’.

Says Nhat Hanh: “Defiled or immaculate. Dirty or pure. These are concepts we form in our mind. A beautiful rose we have just cut and placed in our vase is immaculate. It smells so good, so pure, so fresh. It supports the idea of immaculateness. The opposite is a garbage can. It smells horrible, and it is filled with rotten things. But that is only when you look on the surface. If you look more deeply you will see that in just five or six days, the rose will become part of the garbage. You do not need to wait five days to see it. If you just look at the rose, and you look deeply, you can see it now. And if you look into the garbage can, you see that in a few months its contents can be transformed into lovely vegetables, and even a rose.

“If you are a good organic gardener and you have the eyes of a bodhisattva, looking at a rose you can see the garbage, and looking at the garbage you can see a rose. Roses and garbage inter-are (or inter-dependent). Without a rose, we cannot have garbage; and without garbage, we cannot have a rose. They need each other very much. The rose and garbage are equal. The garbage is just as precious as the rose. If we look deeply at the concepts of defilement and immaculateness, we return to the notion of inter-being” (p 44)

Professor C. Visvanathan: waste is no more waste but a resource

A Sri Lankan-born scientist, Professor C. Visvanathan, Dean of the School of Environment, Resources and Development at the Asian Institute of Technology or AIT in Bangkok expresses the same view as the Zen Master Nhat Hanh. In an interview with this writer at AIT, Visvanathan boldly declares: “Solid waste is no more waste to be condemned; it is like gold which we could put back to human benefits.”

His academic credentials are from three prestigious institutions of higher learning: A bachelor’s degree in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, a Master of Engineering from AIT and a doctorate in chemical/environmental engineering from France’s Institut National Polytechnique in Toulouse.

Environmental economists: Waste management a must

Visvanathan, the scientist, speaks like an environmental economist here. To an environmental economist, waste-matter is an undesired by-product that is unavoidably generated in the natural processes of all economic activities. Since it is undesired, it is called a ‘bad’ as against its desired counterpart which is called a ‘good’. However, goods cannot be produced without producing bads. For instance, at a very elementary level, one cannot inhale oxygen, a good, without having to exhale carbon dioxide, the bad. If one is prohibited from exhaling carbon dioxide, one cannot live because he cannot take in the good, oxygen. Hence, both the good and the bad come as a package together.

What has been done so far has been to use the environment as a dumping ground for bads. However, the unplanned dumping of bads into environment has caused, first at the local level, and then at the national level and finally at the global level now, irreversible environmental catastrophes. Hence, environmental economists have recommended the proper management of waste-matter so that it could be converted to a beneficial-matter for mankind’s use.

This issue was brought to public focus by this writer in a previous article in this series relating to the proper management of polythene under the title ‘Banning polythene to green the globe: alternatives are not that green either’. Visvanathan, through research, has come up with the engineering possibilities for producing beneficial matter out of waste-matter so that such possibilities are practical, economical and sustainable.

The ugly side of increased urbanisation

The globe is being increasingly urbanised day by day. But the increased urbanisation also produces increased volumes of solid waste creating gigantic issues for solid waste management by municipal authorities. Says Visvanathan: “Worldwide, about 5.2 million tonnes of municipal waste is being produced a day and out of this, 3.8 million tonnes of solid waste is produced in developing countries.

It has now been projected that by 2025, the global annual solid waste production would be around 2.2 billion tonnes, up from 1.3 billion tonnes in 2012. Of this, urban Asia will account for about 657 million tonnes of solid waste, about a third of solid waste in the whole globe by 2025. Hence, solid waste growth in Asia is inevitable and proper waste management solutions should be put in place right from now if Asia is to avoid a waste catastrophe”

Land-filling is a primitive option for waste disposal

Developing countries use land-filling as the main method of disposing solid waste produced by their growing urban populations. With the limitation of the available land for this purpose, it has become necessary for identifying other methods of solid waste disposal. Visvanathan notes that solid waste disposal options should necessarily change and these options are in fact fast changing worldwide. They have principally changed from land-filling to recycling, energy production and composting. But, these are hampered by four types of constraints: lack of money, technology, proper policy and capacity.

However, the proper policy should be directed from the present concern for waste management to resource management where waste is considered as a valuable asset, like gold. It is an evolutionary process and Visvanathan identifies five stages through which the world has now gone through in this process. He calls them ‘drivers for solid waste modernisation’ that will offer new economic opportunities for the globe.

Countries in the world today have been in different stages of this evolutionary process depending on the state of economic development they have attained. Accordingly, low and lower middle income countries like Sri Lanka have been in the initial stage of the evolutionary process. Higher middle income countries are at the mid-level while the developed countries are at the highest level of evolutionary process.

Public health concerns of solid waste management

At the initial point, the driver for waste management was the concern for public health. This was the main reason for designing public policy on waste management during 1900-1970. Accordingly, governmental regulations were imposed setting out guidelines as to how waste-matter should be disposed by individuals as well as businesses without causing harm to public health. The main method was to collect waste-matter regularly and dispose of it by burning or dumping into waterways or using for land-filling.

However, all these methods were just a postponement of a major environmental issue to the future by solving the problem in one place and creating a problem elsewhere.

Management of solid waste to avert environmental problems

The second evolutionary process commenced after 1970s when the whole globe became concerned about the growing environmental problems due to the accumulation of solid waste in the environment. However, waste was still a waste and not a resource. Hence, public policy on waste management was principally directed how waste-matter should be disposed without causing harm to environment. Sri Lanka is still in this stage of the evolution of waste management process.

Waste as a resource

In the third stage, waste-matter is considered as a resource and policies are being formulated to harness their resource value to society. The concern for this has emerged due to two reasons. First, the fast economic growth throughout the world in the last few decades has demanded a higher utilisation of non-renewable natural resources. Second, the finite supply of these non-renewable natural resources has led to their fast depletion.

This issue was first raised by the Club of Rome, an independent think-tank of scientists concerned with emerging global resource issues, in mid 1960s. In a publication in 1972 titled ‘The Limits to Growth’ which soon became an international bestseller attracting millions of fans worldwide, the Club of Rome called for limiting economic growth in order to sustain future economic prosperity. This call has been answered only in after the onset of the second millennium where waste-matter is now considered as a resource that could be used for enhancing the global prosperity.

Waste management and climate change issues

The fourth stage is now emerging with global concerns for climate change as principally pronounced by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change or IPCC. Thus, the waste management issue which was hitherto a national issue has now become a global issue. The political force which has sprung up with concerns about global climate change issues is now emerging as a powerful global lobbying group. As a result, no country today can be oblivious to the need for proper solid waste management.

Holistic waste management a must for sustainability

The fifth stage is the future of the evolutionary process involving the solid waste management, according to Visvanathan. The world is now concerned about the sustainability of its prosperity and sustainability has been defined by the UN Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission going by its Chairperson Gro Harem Brundtland, as ‘meeting the requirements of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet theirs’.

Visvanathan says that it is a circular economy from resources to production, from production to consumption, from consumption to waste-matter and from waste-matter to resources once again. When waste-matter was considered a mere waste in the past, this last loop had been broken. It is now time to close the loop and have a holistic solid waste management in which waste-matter will be converted to resources once again and allow the world to go by the circular process. This last thread of the evolutionary process into which the world is now moving has been facilitated by environmental engineers like Visvanathan.

Segregation of solid waste

A holistic waste management does not permit waste to be dumped or used for land-filling without extracting its resource value first. The process starts by segregating it into recyclables, garbage and solid waste. Recyclables, after the primary treatment, will end up as new resources for use in the production of new outputs. For instance, plastic bottles, especially plastic Coca-cola bottles, can be recycled to produce rayon, according to Visvanathan, which is the basic fibre for producing synthetic clothing materials.

The garbage will be used for producing anaerobic composting which can be used as fertiliser in agriculture and cover soil in land-filling of the remaining waste after incineration. The solid waste can be used for incinerating and producing energy. The ash remaining after incineration, non-recyclable parts of recyclables and other inert remains can be used for land-filling. So, Visvanathan says that no waste should be permitted to end up in a land-fill without first using it for the benefit of mankind.

Sri Lanka’s infantile strategy at waste management

Sri Lanka’s Colombo Municipality produces about 1000 tonnes of solid waste a day. The satellite towns around Colombo produce about a further 1500 tonnes of solid waste a day. It has become a gigantic challenge for municipal authorities to safely dispose of these solid wastes. The strategy they currently use is simply to dump them in waste dumps and use for land-filling. Hence, Sri Lanka’s largest waste producers are still in the first and second stages of the evolutionary process of waste management identified by Visvanathan.

As such, they are still infants in a holistic waste management strategy. With proper policy focus, they should grow from infanthood to adulthood in waste management in which waste is no longer a stinking waste, but a resource which can be used for the betterment of the citizens. The team of researchers at AIT, led by Visvanathan, has developed easy to use and cost-effective technology for holistic urban solid waste management. In many parts of Thailand and other East Asian countries, this technology is now being used.

An important breakthrough in this connection has been the development of technology to recover natural gas available abundantly in the places where solid waste has been used for land-filling. The use of such land for any commercial purpose should be done, according to Visvanathan, only after extracting the natural gas remaining trapped beneath such land.

AIT’s offer of a collaborative hand

According to Visvanathan, AIT has been very liberal in sharing its new discoveries and knowledge with anyone who wishes to use them for the furtherance of mankind. It can provide training, give technology support and even develop new technologies to suit individual customers to have better solid waste management systems. It is also willing to develop linkages with other research institutions and universities to have collaborative technology development projects.

Don’t solve your problem by creating problems elsewhere

Attempts have been made in the recent past to make Colombo a clean city, a development about which the Colombo elite has been openly happy. But little have they realised that they have cleaned themselves by dirtying elsewhere and that elsewhere is also within this island. Thus, Colombo has solved its problem by creating environmental issues for others. But Colombo and its satellite urbanites have a better option today in the form of holistic waste management where waste is used as a resource.

This is a public policy which Sri Lanka should adopt as a matter of priority. It is not a difficult task since the required technology is now available in the neighbouring countries. This public policy could be facilitated by private participation by going for a green lending policy by Sri Lankan banks. Visvanathan says he is willing to train Sri Lankan bankers in the art and science of assessing green banking projects.

It is up to Sri Lanka to tap this kind gesture by a world renowned Sri Lanka born scientist.

*W.A Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at [email protected]