Colombo Port City: Do The Chinese Have A Hidden Agenda?

By DNR Samaranayaka

DNR Samaranayaka

DNR Samaranayaka

The controversial Colombo Port City (CPC) project, which has been designed to reclaim the seabed and develop a large commercial centre in an area covering 230 hectares adjacent to the city of Colombo, remains under suspension since early March 2015. A plethora of articles has appeared about the CPC, which is financed by the China Communications Constructions Company (CCCC), since the Sirisena government was formed and especially after the announcement by the government spokesperson, Rajitha Senaratne that the new government has given the green light to go ahead with the project. This announcement contradicted the promise made by the coalition during the election campaign about its imminent closure, if elected. Ironically, the approval of the CPC by the new government was made without giving any reasons or explanations as to why the government retracted from its earlier commitment.

Because of these articles, highlighting various issues that are associated with the CPC, there has been a significant interest and an awareness of the project among professionals, journalists, politicians and others in the country. Most of the articles written on this subject argue that due mainly to environmental implications of the project on the western coastline it should not be undertaken. Other issues such as the cost of the project to the country, sovereignty, regional security, impact on domestic physical resources required for the construction of the project and possible congestion in the Colombo city and its surroundings have been cited as objections. Some writers also argue that the project has certain benefits that can help the country to attract more investments, and, therefore, if the project is abandoned it will adversely affect the investment flow to the country. Others dismiss the environmental concerns claiming that they are just a gimmick used to prevent the project going ahead. A number of journalists have also contributed to the debate. An editorial in a leading English newspaper justified the project because the termination of it could impact negatively on the relationship between the two countries. Some journalists have also focused on the plight of the workers due to its suspension and they urge the government to consider its continuation. The Chinese too have actively participated in the debate through advertisements in the print media justifying the project.

Unawtuna Beach: an example relevant to CPC

The initial opposition to the CPC was from the environmentalists. They opposed the implementation of the project on the basis that the environmental assessment, carried out by the Moratuwa University, does not provide a complete and comprehensive assessment of the effects of the proposed project on the coastal environment. However, they did not pursue this matter any further because of the fear of prosecution by the former regime if they protested against the project. Although this issue had been highlighted during the presidential election by the coalition, it was not considered important once the Sirisena government was formed, but it is one of the issues currently under consideration by the review committee appointed by the government. Its inclusion in the review now implies that it is one of the key issues that will determine the status of the project. As stated by Eran Wickramratne, deputy minister of investment promotion, if the environmental impact of the project on the Western coastline is going to be too great, then the project is likely to be discontinued.

port cityWhile the review committee is considering the environmental effects of the CPC, the Unawtuna Beach in Sri Lanka is gaining attention in a far- away country as an example of the adverse effects of building breakwaters along the shoreline. A decision to build a breakwater to resolve beach erosion in the Westmoreland resort in Jamaica has been objected by the Negril Chamber of Commerce using the effects of the breakwater in the Unawatuna beach in Sri Lanka. According to a report appeared in the Jamaica Observer on April 23, 2015. It said, “ … the once flawless crescent of sand along a palm-lined shore with turquoise waters is now blanketed with jagged rocks. The Unawatuna beach spans nearly 1 ½ kilometres and has attracted both the local and foreign tourists for over half century.” It further said, “The Sri Lankan breakwater, which stretches nearly a kilometre into the ocean, has disturbed the natural balance of the echo system and is wasting away the sand from one half of the beach, and depositing it on the other half. The government of Sri Lanka is now working to partially remove the breakwater in order to rectify the situation and has resorted to beach nourishment with 300, 000 metric cubic meters of sand being pumped from the middle of the ocean in order to recreate the beach.”

This assessment of the impact of the breakwater on the Unawtuna beach clearly highlights the difficulty of determining a disturbance to the natural flow of ocean water on the beach and its immediate environment. Highly sophisticated statistical models are currently used to forecast the movements of the ocean water under various scenarios; however, they cannot predict the actual impact of the disturbances created by breakwaters or similar structures. It will only be known only after the project is implemented. This illustrates how the CPC could disturb the natural flow of currents and waves as well the beachfront beyond the immediate vicinity of the CPC project and they could be permanent and irreversible. This is one of the reasons that the fisher folks are seriously objecting to the construction of the CPC. According to the Media the CCCC was willing to compensate those affected by the project living in the coastal areas, but this is not going to stop with the current generation; it will continue to affect all future generations. Furthermore, this offer also implies the recognition, by the Chinese, of the possibility of such adverse outcomes because of the CPC.

Claims of corrupt practices by the CPC investor

Another issue that has been heavily publicized is the scale of corruption in projects funded by the Chinese government. In an interview with Andrew Stevens of CNN, finance minister, Mr Ravi Karunanayake, described the extent of corruption under the previous government by saying ‘bridges were built where there were no rivers and airports were constructed in the middle of nowhere: that was the level of corruption that was going on.’ In the same interview, Mr Ravi Karunartane said, “The Chinese companies used the opportunity of a corrupt regime to crowd out other companies coming in’. This statement clearly implies that some Chinese companies use unethical practices to secure development projects solely for the benefit of the company or the contractor. Frequently, these projects exaggerate the benefits to the country even though such claims are never supported with evidence. Although the minister did not mention any project specifically, the CPC, among the projects funded by the Chinese government, is of particular importance since it is still at initial stages. All other projects are already completed or nearing completion. The funds that were used on these projects cannot be recovered; the only thing that can be done is to take action against those involved in such corrupt practices. In the case of the CPC, there is still a possibility to stop it. According to the evidence emerging from various sources and the actions being taken by the Bribery commission to investigate large-scale corruption, not only the politicians, but also some high-level officials appear to be involved in such corrupt practices.

Based on the information currently available to the public on the status of the CPC, it appears that the government is not investigating any corruption in the CPC. After the President’s visit to China, for example, Mr Liu Jianchao, assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs has said ‘President Sirisena has stressed that what happened around the port city is rather temporary, and the problem does not lie with the Chinese side and hopes to continue with the project after things are sorted out.’ On the following day, the deputy Foreign Minister, Ajith Perera, denied this report that the president had given such an assurance. Another statement made by Mr Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance, giving an interview to the South China Morning Post also said ‘we are telling Chinese companies that we are keen to have clean, transparent and accountable investments. Port City should not be the benchmark. There are serious problems with the project that we are trying to fix. It has nothing to do with our attitude to Chinese investments’. Both statements made by Mr Maithripala Sirisena and Mr Ravi Karunanayake have been issued outside of Sri Lanka and they both clearly indicate the approval of the project once the formalities are completed.

However, there are good reasons for this matter to be thoroughly investigated since there is reliable evidence that CCCC has a history of employing unethical or corrupt practices in foreign funded projects. According to a communiqué, issued by the World Bank, CCCC is barred from undertaking any project funded by the World Bank for eight years from July 2011 to July 2017 because of its fraudulent practices involving the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management project. Posting this sanction on the internet, the World Bank informs the seriousness of the charges levelled against the CCCC and gives a warning to other countries who are engaging the CCCC as a contractor for large-scale infrastructure projects. The action by the World Bank creates serious doubts about the credibility as well as the integrity of the CCCC. The World Bank statement clearly suggests that CCCC has been responsible for blowing up project costs to provide kickbacks to politicians and high-level officials to secure lucrative projects. Such a black mark shows the extent to which CCCC would go to secure contracts and to make the already corrupt regime even more corrupt. This ruling by the World Bank also raises the concern as to whether the Sri Lankan government should be dealing with a company that has been black listed.

Uneconomical projects undertaken by Rajapaksa regime

Some of the projects undertaken during the Rajapaksa regime were intended to provide some economic and social benefits for the people. Among these are the roads and highways; these two areas had received very little attention prior to 2005. Some of these projects were undertaken under the patronage of the former defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Although these projects do not provide direct financial benefits, they are still needed for any developing economy to provide wide ranging economic and social benefits to the public such as to improve accessibility and mobility across the country as well as to promote income-generating activities that would help economic growth and employment generation. While what the former government had done in these areas need to be recognized and appreciated, there is, however, a serious issue if the costs of these projects are inflated much beyond the actual costs. This is what the people are hearing since the fall of the Rajapaksa regime. Statements such as ‘the highest cost of road construction per kilometre in the world has been reported from Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksa regime’ clearly support that the corrupt practices in the road sector had been rampant. Any difference between the actual costs and the reported costs of the the project is then siphoned by someone else. It appears therefore these projects are simply undertaken for the benefit of those directly involved in the decision making process. In fact, the statement that ‘roads that go nowhere’ made by Ravi Karunanayake appeared to be referring to such projects. If this is the case, these projects were undertaken not for the benefit of the people, but to provide an opportunity to amass wealth by a few through corrupt practices. The benefits that the society receives, under such circumstances, will have only a residual value.

Two other projects financed by the Chinese that have attracted criticisms from writers from various backgrounds are the Hambantota harbour and the Mattala airport. The initial estimate of the harbour was US$ 360 million and the Chinese reportedly financed about 80% of this estimate. After the completion of the project, it was found out that the harbour is not suitable for large vessels due to a massive rock blocking the mouth of the entry thus preventing the inward and outward movements of large-scale vessels. Unfortunately, these things were not discovered or remained unknown at the time the decision was made to build the harbour. In fact, there is no evidence that a comprehensive feasibility had been carried out to determine the suitability of the site and the potential benefits of the project. If that had been carried out, the mapping of the sea bed around the proposed project would have detected the blockage to the harbour. The failure of the authorities cost the government an additional amount of US $ 221 million, increasing the cost to US 580.0 million.

The expected income from commercial operations of the Hambantota harbour was estimated at Rs 15 billion (US$ 150 million) at the design stage. It began its commercial operations in 2012 and received an income of Rs 1.1 billion from October 2012 to December 2013. Its income in 2014 has increased by about Rs 4.0 billion, from bunkering services provided to 230 foreign vessels, to over Rs 5 billion. The revenue generated by commercial operations is still far too little in terms of the loan repayment liabilities and the annual cost of maintence of the harbour. The loan is payable over an 11 year period, with one year grace period. At an annual interest rate of 6.3%, which is significantly higher than the international lending rate determined by LIBOR, the financing of the debt incurred by the harbour could be around US$ 800 million or Rs 80 billion, which includes the loan (US$ 580 million) and the interest on the loan (US$ 219.3 million). However, this amount could go up if any payment is defaulted since it will add interest on the unpaid amount. Since the revenue from the harbour is unlikely to reach the expected target, servicing the loan will be a severe burden for the cash trapped treasury at present.

A loan of US$ 200 million provided by the Chinese government helped finance the Mattala airport built at a cost of US$ 209 million. The airport has a 10,000 square meter capacity and a runaway extending up to 3,500 meters. It has been built to accommodate A 380 airbus with 555-seater capacity, which is one of the most advanced aircrafts currently in operation. The commercial operations of the airport began in October 2012; however, due to lack of business it was closed on 30 April 2015 under the Sirisena government. During this period, the airport had been used by 36,137 passengers: 22,853 outgoing, 13,284 incoming and 13,284 transits. The total income up to September 2014 had been Rs 143.9 million and the expenditure Rs 2,900 million, resulting a loss of Rs 2,756 million. Even with such huge losses, this airport would have been in operation if former president returned to power because it would add to his profile of an unshakable leader. The new government is now faced with a monthly payment of Rs 250 million (US$ 2.5 million) to service the loan on the airport.

Out of these two projects, Mattala airport, surrounded by the least developed area in the country, should not have been considered in any event. Even someone with no project experience would have known that Mattala airport is uneconomical because the airport can never generate a traffic volume to make it a profitable venture. The problem with the Hambantota harbour is not so much with its location, but its highly inflated cost of construction. Based on the commercial operations of the port since 2012, it appears that it has the opportunity to be used as a transits hub, but the huge cost of construction has made it a very unprofitable venture. Choosing the location with a blockage has cost an additional 65% to the original cost to the harbour. Furthermore, it is becoming common knowledge that about 30% to 40% of the total cost of infrastructure projects is also misappropriated by the politicians and the officials under the Rajapaksa administration.

The government is now faced with a serious debt service burden due to the large scale projects undertaken during the Rajapaksa administration. With very limited foreign reserves, servicing the debt will be a huge challenge for the new government. This will certainly affect the country’s borrowing capacity for projects that are really needed. The ability to borrow for future requirements has been significantly constrained by the decisions that were made to glorify the achievements of the Rajapaksa clan.

Implications of Chinese investments on unprofitable projects

There has been an interest on the Hambantota harbour since the beginning of 2000. A number of prefeasibility studies were carried out at that time and the most comprehensive feasibility was carried out by a Canadian firm. They concluded that the Hambantota Harbour is not economically viable because it has no competitive power to capture bunkering operations from other ports using this route. It is, therefore, difficult to understand why the Chinese government agreed to fund the harbour project. Usually large-scale projects of this nature are always subject to extensive feasibility studies to determine their financial viability. There is no evidence that the Chinese have done a comprehensive pre-feasibility, and if the Chinese had done feasibility, they too would have come to the same conclusion. In the case of the Mattala airport, there is no legitimate reason for the Chinese to support this project with a loan of US$ 200 million. Before the airport was built, there was no development in or around the site of the airport and even after it was built, there is hardly any development that had taken place. The airport was built by clearing the forest and the possibility of the availability of the land to build the airport was the only aspect that received consideration by the government. They never thought about the financial viability of operating an airport in an isolated location.

In this context, the commitment of the Chinese to invest on uneconomical projects in Sri Lanka raises a serious issue as to whether the Chinese always knew that these projects were not going to be financially viable. They probably knew, especially after winning the LTTE terrorism, the intentions of the Rajapaksa administration was to build projects that would promote his image. As a result of this victory, he was bestowed with a king-hood by the local populace. These projects undertaken by the Rajapaksa administration and the projects that were in the pipeline to be implemented in his third term in office were essentially to establish Hambantota as a modern city fit for a king. The funds for such projects too would undoubtedly come from the Chinese. This arrangement appears to have worked perfectly well for both parties since Rajapaksa wanted loans from the Chinese and the Chinese wanted to establish their regional power in the Indian ocean. According to some reports, the port city concept was also originated from the Chinese

How the loans of these two projects would have been repaid if Rajapaksa returned to power also add to the argument that the Chinese knew about the difficulty that the Rajapaksa administration would face. They also knew that Rajapaksa administration could not borrow from any other source and, therefore, they were ready to provide financial support to service the loans. This arrangement entails borrowing from the Chinese to pay back the Chinese loans, and it would have entangled the Rajapaksa administration in a severe debt trap. In that event, what the former president would have done can be gauged from the handing over of 20 hectares of sovereign land to the Chinese ownership in the CPC project after its completion. Even though the entire loan of the Hambantota harbour is to be paid back at a 6.3% interest rate, the Chinese also have some controlling power of the harbour. This is another example that tells what the intentions of the Chinese are. The CPC could also fall into this trap if the Sri Lankan government cannot find the funds to develop the CPC. In that event, some form of acquisition of this site by the Chinese is very difficult to avoid.

Applying Yahapalanaya to CPC

The decision to continue or discontinue the CPC now lies with the government. An announcement in this regard is expected once the ongoing review, focussing on certain irregularities involving the CPC, is completed. Whatever the decision by the government it should disclose fully the details of the decision. This is because the public has the right to know on what basis the decision was made, especially if the decision is to continue the project. Although the government has committed to practice Yahapalanaya, it remains as a slogan introduced simply for the purpose of winning the last election. There is hardly any difference between Yahapalanaya and Mahinda Chinthanaya since they both are hollow slogans. Even the partners of the new government find fault with the Yahapalanaya principle. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka openly criticise yahapalanya by saying that both the president and the prime minister are compelled to look after corrupt high-ranking politicians in their own camps. Among others that are incompatible with the Yahapalanaya concept are the Central Bank bond issue and the appointment of President’s brother as the CEO of the SLT and giving him a whopping raise from Rs 950,000 to Rs 3 million per month. The question that most people would like to know is what did he do to deserve this increase? Unfortunately, the answers from the government are hard to come by.

*The writer is an economist. He also published another article earlier under the title ‘Economics of the Colombo Port City Project’ in the Colombo Telegraph.

Sirisena Manages To Place Mahinda Rajapaksa In Tight Spot: Alan Keenan

Sri Lanka appeared to turn a new leaf with the election in January 2015 of President Maithripala Sirisena. This place an finish to rule of this country of 21 million men and women by Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is closely related with a brutal 2009 victory more than the Tamil Tiger insurgency and authoritarian government. Alan Keenan, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst discusses how a lot President Sirisena, previously a minor figure in Rajapaksa’s government, has changed politics on the South Asian island. We publish be the interview accomplished by the International Crisis Group.

You recently returned from Sri Lanka. It’s now been four months given that Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena came to office. Did the political atmosphere in the nation feel various from prior to?

Alan Keenan: Totally. The most striking modify is that individuals are no longer afraid to talk. Under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, men and women had been quite careful in what they mentioned publicly or even privately: they consistently felt that they have been becoming monitored and feared the consequences. That has changed substantially with the election of Sirisena. In public areas, in cafés, in restaurants, folks speak openly about corruption and war crimes, about the want to hold politicians, safety forces and armed groups accountable for abuses of power. Academics and activists are publishing and speaking publicly again. In my view, this is Sirisena’s greatest achievement so far. The word that a lot of individuals used when talking to me was that they felt “relief”.

Maithri MahindaSirisena came to power in January with an ambitious one hundred-day agenda. We are now nearly a month previous those 100 days. How significantly progress has he produced on his agenda?

Attaining Sirisena’s agenda – especially the constitutional changes – was usually going to be a challenge, given that his government does not have a majority in parliament. In spite of being the common secretary of Rajapaksa’s own Sri Lanka Freedom Celebration (SLFP), Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa thanks to the help of the SLFP’s wonderful rival, the United National Party (UNP) and a coalition of smaller sized parties. Even right after bringing two-dozen SLFP members into his government in March, Sirisena’s government, headed by prime minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, had far significantly less than the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution. On virtually every issue, Sirisena has struggled to gain the cooperation of the SLFP, with many opposed to his collaboration with the UNP, and a significant wing of the celebration wanting to see Rajapaksa return as prime minister of an SLFP government.

Sirisena is thus in a difficult position. He remains the head of the SLFP and he does not want to damage his personal party in advance of the upcoming parliamentary elections. At the quite least, he doesn’t want to be known as the person who took over the SLFP, investigated them all for corruption, only to have them be soundly defeated in the subsequent election. So he’s attempting, in a lot of ways, to find the middle path between pushing as well hard and not pushing challenging enough, regardless of whether it is with respect to corruption, to ethnic problems, to war crimes allegations, or to relations with China, Western powers and India.

Nonetheless, after months of uncertainty and difficult negotiations with the SLFP, the late April passage of the nineteenth amendment to the constitution – just a few days previous the 100 days goal – allowed Sirisena to deliver on the most essential promise on his agenda: to cut down the excessive powers of the Executive Presidency, which his predecessor Rajapaksa had expanded considerably. Whilst the amendment that passed didn’t reduce powers as a lot as many of Sirisena’s supporters wanted – thanks largely to alterations the SLFP insisted on – it was still a considerable step. It re-imposes a two-term limit to the presidency and removes the president’s powers to dissolve parliament anytime he wants. It also removes some of his immunity, makes him answerable to parliament and, possibly most important, drastically increases the energy of the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers.

An additional important promise – and 1 of Sirisena’s government’s very first moves in workplace – was to pass a customer and employee-friendly spending budget, lowering rates on meals and rising salaries for public servants. This was in response to the widespread sense that the price of living was becoming unbearable, with even middle-class households beneath extreme economic pressure.

Sirisena also promised to reform the electoral system within his 1st one hundred days. How is he undertaking with that?

Sirisena’s strategy – which he is struggling to implement, even if it has widespread acceptance as a common thought – is to eliminate the preferential voting method, noticed as a key cause of election violence, and return to a largely 1st-previous-the-post system, while preserving some degree of proportional representation. But the smaller sized parties and these representing geographically dispersed minorities, such as Sri Lanka’s Muslims, fear that the new model does not give adequate emphasis to proportionality and will decrease their quantity of seats. Others, like the Tamil National Alliance, which represents the country’s Tamils in the north and east, are worried the delimitation of new constituencies will shrink the number of constituencies with Tamil majorities, offered how numerous Tamils have left Sri Lanka the past thirty years. Sirisena hopes that all the major parties will be able to reach a consensus inside a month, but offered these complexities, that’s a extremely optimistic timeline.

As on many concerns, the Sirisena government and the diverse coalition of parties that brought him to energy are split on the timing and sequence of electoral reforms, which will demand an additional constitutional amendment. Several of his supporters, along with the SLFP, want the new electoral technique approved and want the upcoming parliamentary elections – promised to be named soon after the conclusion of Sirisena’s initial 100 days – to be held under the new system. With the method of drawing new electoral district boundaries anticipated take at least two or 3 months after passage of whatever new program is agreed, this would involve a considerable delay. The SLFP would be pleased with this, as they see their election possibilities rising with time.

On the other hand, the UNP and some of the smaller sized parties backing Sirisena want an election as soon as possible. At this stage, they’d prefer to address electoral reforms in a new parliament, but if reforms are to be agreed now, they want the elections to come right away after, and to be held beneath the old voting technique. The UNP’s hope is to come back in a new parliament with a majority and a strengthened political position. This is important if they are to face a quantity of challenging troubles that the UNP and Sirisena have promised to tackle, which includes a domestic mechanism for investigating and prosecuting any crimes committed throughout the civil war, and generating progress on reconciliation between the majority Sinhalese and the smaller sized Tamil population. But tackling these topics will produce a lot of resistance from nationalists and the supporters of former President Rajapaksa, who nonetheless enjoys considerable backing among Sinhalese voters and sections of the security forces.

In light of this, one particular of the Sirisena government’s initial moves on coming to energy was to request a six-month deferral of an upcoming UN report on atrocities committed during and after the war – from 2002 to 2011 – which was due to be released for the March session of the UN Human Rights Council. With the additional time, the government hoped it could have the elections behind them and be in a stronger position when it received the negative news anticipated in the report. The U.S., UK and EU supported the request for a deferral on this identical basis, assuming that by September, the government would have had time to take measures and develop a plan that could win the approval of the Human Rights Council.

So, one of Sirisena’s key decisions over the subsequent month is whether or not to call elections in time to get previous them prior to the UN report is released in August and ahead of the Human Rights Council session starts in September. Sirisena has promised to have unveiled by then a domestic “accountability mechanism”, to investigate and hold accountable any person discovered guilty of war crimes and other severe human rights violations committed in the course of the armed conflict with the Tamil Tigers. Even though the new government has refused to cooperate with the ongoing UN inquiry, it has expressed a willingness to accept “technical assistance” from the UN when conducting its personal domestic method. It remains to be observed how large a part the UN or other international knowledge will be invited to play.

How are these frictions between Sirisena’s government and the country’s former leaders affecting reconciliation with the country’s 12 per cent Sri Lankan Tamil population?

Throughout his very first months in workplace, Sirisena has created a number of modest but positive moves to address longstanding grievances of Tamils in the north and east exactly where they are the majority. His government has returned some military-occupied land to its extended-displaced owners. And though the military has not withdrawn any troops, it is maintaining a reduced profile than ahead of and interfering less in civilian affairs. Sirisena also appointed two new governors in the north and east, both of whom are well-respected former civil servants, to replace the retired generals that Rajapaksa had appointed. And he has released some detainees held below the prevention of terrorism act.

Nonetheless, Sinhala nationalism remains strong. According to its vision, Sinhalese and Buddhists have been historically – and remain today – under threat from various outsiders, whether or not those are Muslims, Tamils, Westerners or Christians. Under Rajapaksa, this vision was encouraged as de facto state policy, and it remains a very potent element in Sri Lankan politics, courted by Rajapaksa and his supporters. Now, given the tensions within the SLFP and the recognition that Mahinda Rajapaksa nevertheless enjoys, it is clear that Sirisena is becoming forced to choose his battles. The current choice to ban Tamil commemorations of their war-dead in the north, and the appointment of General Jagath Dias, a single of leading commanders in the final months of fighting in 2009 and virtually undoubtedly to be cited as a essential perpetrator in the forthcoming Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report, as army chief of employees, were well-known with Sinhalese nationalists but outraged the Tamils, for instance. I do not think we can count on any big moves on reconciliation, meaning either far more releases of land to Tamils or a genuine scaling back of the military, till after the parliamentary elections.

On a far more clearly good note, Sirisena has produced clear he will not tolerate the violent campaigning against Muslims and evangelical Christians that flourished beneath Rajapaksa. Muslims faced specifically intense pressure in 2013 and 2014 from militant Buddhist organisations that clearly had the backing of the former regime. The organisations burned out their organizations, attacked people on the street, and pressed for legislative adjustments to weaken the Muslim community. All this was done in the name of opposing “Islamic extremism”, which does not really exist in Sri Lanka. All of that has come to an end under Sirisena, even though some of the problems raised by militant Buddhists stay potential flashpoints that will need cautious management by the government and neighborhood leaders.

How do you see the government’s relations with other countries in the region and internationally?

The new government, with its significant shift in priorities, has been welcomed by most globe powers, with the exception of the Chinese. Indian Prime Minister Modi visited soon soon after the election, the initial pay a visit to of an Indian prime minister in 28 years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was just in Colombo in early May. Senior EU and UN officials arrived before that. All have issued really constructive statements. The purpose Beijing is significantly less thrilled is that the Sirisena-UNP government has deliberately distanced itself from the very close ties that Rajapaksa had cultivated with China. Rajapaksa had relied on China for political help on the Safety Council and Human Rights Council against investigations into alleged war crimes. But he also depended economically on China, which has pumped billions of dollars in loans, investments and development help into Sri Lanka over the past decade. The new government has made clear it does not want to reduce its ties with China but is rather trying to recalibrate them, not least due to the fact of worries that the country’s developing dependence would bring strings that could be harmful for Sri Lankan sovereignty. In the coming years, Sri Lankans will surely nonetheless need Chinese funds and help, but will want to have it along with support from India and the West. This will be a difficult balancing act, but shouldn’t be impossible to pull off.

Who is winning the political tug-of-war among President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa?

Sirisena wasn’t a non-entity beneath Rajapaksa, he was the basic secretary of the SLFP, but he didn’t have a higher public profile. His character and demeanour are quite quiet, unassuming, modest, and he remained a bit of an unknown even in the initial months of his presidency. Over time, although, we’ve seen Sirisena emerge with a specific leadership style which is considerably much more consultative, modest, not about rising his energy but about acquiring as numerous individuals to sign on as attainable. This is really uncommon in Sri Lankan politics. A lot of discover the change refreshing and encouraging others criticise Sirisena as weak and say his “national government” experiment is beginning to unravel.

Progressively, even though, Sirisena appears to have place Rajapaksa in an increasingly tight spot: through the eventual passage of the nineteenth amendment his moves to weaken pro-Rajapaksa forces in all kinds of intra-SLFP and intra-Sinhalese political battles and continued legal stress on the former ruling family and its close associates. These contain investigations and arrests of former Rajapaksa government officials like the former president’s brother, the ex-minister for economic improvement, Basil Rajapaksa. Mahinda and an additional really powerful brother, the former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have each been summoned for questioning by the bribery commission. These moves triggered street demonstrations and an uproar in parliament from the pro-Rajapaksa wing of the SLFP that succeeded in delaying debate on the nineteenth amendment. But it failed to cease the passage of the amendment by an massive majority, after the pro-Rajapaksa camp realised it didn’t have the votes to defeat it.

Most positively, the tradition of robust debate and difficult authority in Sri Lanka has returned. One particular of the most striking factors about the election campaign was that suddenly all these voices have been speaking out against Rajapaksa since they had a automobile, finally, to challenge him. Folks were willing to take the threat of writing letters essential of him, of functioning for his defeat. Because they believed there was a possibility of alter. Crucially I consider many folks thought it was their final likelihood, since most people think a lot of of these who opposed him would have been arrested or faced worse outcomes had Rajapaksa won. President Sirisena himself speaks of how he was risking his life running against Rajapaksa, saying it was like jumping into the sea with my family, “would we sink or swim, would we discover land again”? Now, the changed environment is tangible.

Nevertheless, the aggrieved and potentially violent streak in Sinhalese nationalist politics is getting actively courted by former President Rajapaksa and his supporters. Amongst the big queries about the upcoming parliamentary elections are: who will champion this constituency? Will Mahinda Rajapaksa himself join the campaign? Or will it be his proxies? How strongly will they push the classic fears of Sinhalese nationalism: Tamil separatism, Muslim extremism, Christian evangelicals, a Western-led worldwide conspiracy? All these remain really potent ideologically within Sri Lanka, and the nation still has some way to go to consolidate its democratic transition.

“Unfolding In Duly Ordained Fashion”

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

If the responses to my recent columns to Colombo Telegraph have accomplished nothing else, they have provoked responses that need to give at least a couple of of us lead to for even a small degree of optimism: there ARE people who perceive the deception and deceit that is being performed below cover of Yahapalanaya, covering the backsides of these who have done extremely nicely, thank you, below the Rajapaksa dispensation!

Even so, identifying the problem (not merely the symptom) as folks is not sufficient, in and of itself. We need (particularly us septuagenarians who may well be of match mind but somewhat feeble physique!) to rally the troops since the generations that have succeeded us are tech-savvy to an extent that handful of of us can aspire to. We require to maintain them rolling as they seem to have carried out during the final Presidential election where, I recognize, young people familiar with the use of neighborhood media such as Twitter and Facebook and fluent in the national languages of this country played no small portion in the demise of the leader of the most violent and corrupt government this nation has ever encountered. I hope that what I am about to relate strikes a chord with them and that they will expend their energies to expose easy monetary self-interest parading as some kind of “freedom of the press.”

The reality that Ranil Wickremesinghe seems driven to surround himself with a Praetorian Guard of old boys of his alma mater is one of the saddest spectacles confronting this country. Apart from the fact that it appears to provide proof of some fairly deep-seated insecurity not befitting somebody with ambitions of major Sri Lanka and whilst his team may well be a far more “civilized” bunch than the Rajapaksa Mafia, it is NOT all that is necessary to deliver the goods.

Ranil Royal ColleheI will continue to espouse the “Feet to the fire” slogan relative to Mr. W’s bunch whose primary qualification appears to be to have entered that educational institution down Reid Avenue and/or belonged to the traditional Uncle Nephew Party clique of yore. As an aside to this, might I suggest that Ruwan Wijewardene finds an individual with at least minimal speech-writing abilities ahead of he next addresses such as the Kotelawela Defence Academy? There was little substance or style in what he delivered and undoubtedly a wonderful deal to be preferred in the matter of the “facts” that he sought to detail. Those of us who grew up in that time and had the benefit of Aubrey Collette’s cartoons and Tarzie Vittachchi’s biting prose have a far much better and a lot more correct image of John Lionel Kotelawala than Mr. Wijewardene who probably depended on the “official line” of those who constitute the energy behind the current throne – the Wijewardne newspaper dynasty of which he is a element &#8211 who In no way distinguished themselves as champions of democracy but merely defenders of their personal narrow class and business interests. One point that can be attributed to them, even so, is consistency in the matter of knowing on which side their bread was buttered, although they had typically, I am positive, to hold each slice by the edges since the dairy solution was so generously applied to each of the bigger surfaces!

A recent example of this was the two web page paean of praise to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private armed force, parading as a news item although, really certainly, an “advertorial.” I do not know to which of the three armed solutions it belongs seeing as how it possibly has connections to all of them, from the acquire of MiG jets to the use of assault rifles typically linked with the army and operating on the high seas! This ran in two of the English language newspapers to my knowledge and, while I do not recall in which it first appeared, it undoubtedly had a very prominent spread in the Sunday Times, with no advantage (to the public) of so much as a mention of the reality that it was an advertisement for a large and sophisticated private shore/sea-primarily based armed force with out a semblance of government oversight of any description entering into the equation.

That a newspaper owned and operated by the existing Prime Minister’s uncle and supposedly not the creature of the late-unlamented Rajapaksa regime need to descend to such depths seems to confirm what these allegedly on the “loony left” have had to say about the two principal political configurations of Sri Lanka: they are two peas in a pod, six of a single and half a dozen of an additional.

When I expressed my surprise at what the Wijeya Newspapers group had accomplished, my interlocutor at the time had a very basic explanation: “The marketing rupee supersedes all other considerations, definitely those of principle or journalistic ethics.”

Probably, this is so. Even so, I think it is up to those of us who nonetheless cling to the last vestiges of democratic practice and morality of even the most minimal sort to expose these firms pretending to act in the public interest for what they are: merely profit centres, devoid of anything resembling principle. When the Sunday Leader was at its shrill but, nevertheless, vibrant peak beneath the guidance of Lasantha Wickrematunge and Frederica Jansz, these same media power brokers manipulated the annual awards to the journalistic fraternity so that their workers won even when they had been not qualified to compete in the categories in which they walked away with the prizes. That such as the Sri Lanka Press Institute and The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka turned a Nelsonian eye on this kind of powerful-arm journalism just remains a matter of record. In fact, I would suggest that the initial blow, against what was the “Last Man Standing” among Sri Lanka’s independent newspapers, was struck then and what followed, culminating in a creature of the Rajapaksas taking more than comprehensive manage of the Sunday Leader was tiny more than a coda to that overall performance.

There have been some substantial stirrings amongst younger writers contributing to the electronic pages of Colombo Telegraph and other publications devoted to public affairs and I hope and trust that they will direct their interest to the hypocrisy and duplicity of these who have apparently succeeded in taking cover under the Yahapalanaya blanket right after making their contribution to the monstrosity that paraded as “governance” under the Rajapaksas. Each they and the income-grubbers who’ll sell their personal mothers for an advertising dollar require to be exposed and so exposed that they will feel twice prior to they indulge their duplicitous abilities in help of fascism, dictatorship and private armies, no matter in what disguise.

Females In Sri Lanka Seek 25% Boost Of Women’s Political Representation

Women’s Groups in Sri Lanka have these days urged all political parties to take required measures to improve the number of females in Parliament.

Issuing a statement following a consultation held on the 11th May possibly on the draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the Ladies and Media Collective says &#8220taking into consideration that it is a sine qua non of great governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens ought to be given equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.&#8221

Kumudini Samuel - the founder of Women and Media Collective

Kumudini Samuel &#8211 the founder of Ladies and Media Collective

We publish under the statement in complete

Political Representation of Ladies- Making certain 25% Boost

Suggestions made by Women’s Groups in Sri Lanka to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution At the moment under Discussion

Women in Sri Lanka have had the correct to vote from as early as 1931, but quite little chance to turn out to be the people’s elected political representatives-not in either Parliament or in Provincial or Neighborhood Government. This reality has been highlighted worldwide in official statistics, where the nation rates shockingly low on the global index of women’s political representation, even in South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks 140 out of 153 in terms of female representation in Parliament.

Because of this lack of political representation, women’s interests and concerns are barely heard and exert small influence at any level of government. Essential policy decisions, including legal reform, are made in essential regions such as security, economic improvement, reconciliation and democratization whilst barely consulting perspectives particular to females, 52 per cent of the population, and citizens who do not have the identical perspectives as guys do, since they do not take pleasure in the privileges that males have as men in Sri Lankan society. The lack of a sturdy representation of women in selection creating positions is, with no doubt, a main result in of gender blind policy creating.

President Maithripala Sirisena echoed this concern in his 100 day Function Programme, proposing that legislation would be introduced to make certain at least 25% women’s representation in Provincial Councils and Regional Government.

We, citizens and ladies concerned with democratic modify, urge all political parties in Sri Lanka to take needed steps to increase the number of women in Parliament, taking into consideration that it is a sine qua non of good governance (yaha palanaya) that all citizens need to be provided equal access to political representation, regardless of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and so on.

We, girls, voters and citizens, get in touch with on all political parties assistance the following provisions and consist of them in the 20th Amendment:

165 First Past the Post seats

Reserve seats for females : We ask that electorates that have a majority of women be designated only for females candidates or one electorate per district be allocated only to ladies candidates. This electorate can be chosen on a rotating basis. This guarantees that ladies will get 22 seats. Comparable provisions have been made in India.
Mandatory reservations of 25% girls, in nomination lists submitted by parties: this guarantees that ladies are provided the opportunity to contest the Very first Past the Post seats

District Proportional Representation List

Since this list is modest and limited to 31 seats, every district might only have one or two appointments feasible in numerous instances this may be limited to one PR appointee per district. For that reason, there must be a mandatory appointment of a lady as the very first candidate in the District PR list.

The National List

The national list has a limitation of a maximum quantity of 59 members, but this could go down to 37 in the occasion of seats being allocated from the overhang. As a result the demand is that each and every 2nd appointment from the National list be given to a lady. This will allow females to be appointed to at least 18 seats.

Multi Member Constituencies

Given the probability that some electorates may be designated as multi-member constituencies, a minimum of one particular woman candidate must be nominated to contest these seats.

Mihin Lanka Pilot Snoozes In Cockpit By Himself

A Mihin Lanka Captain was found snoozing in the cockpit of a commercial flight en route to Colombo, whilst his First Officer of the low price carrier was locked out the airline’s sources told Colombo Telegraph yesterday.

Capt Gajendra Wagh (left hand seat) Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama Manager Training and Standards (right hand seat)

Capt Gajendra Wagh (left hand seat) Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama Manager Coaching and Requirements (proper hand seat)

The panic stricken Mihin Lanka First Officer (F/O) of flight MJ 408 Subki Lafir and the cabin crew returning from Sharjah on the 1st of Could 2015, finally succeeded in their frantic bid to obtain re-entry into the flight deck by using the emergency ‘overriding’ access code, after the F/O located himself locked out by his operating Captain Wagh, who was subsequently located rapidly asleep at the flight controls.

“The First Officer and the Flight Purser Rozeena were relieved to lastly gain entry into the Flight Deck following they found themselves in a carbon copied scenario that the fateful crew of ‘German Wings’ found themselves in not too long ago ”, inside sources from within the airline told Colombo Telegraph yesterday.

Coincidentally the F/O Lafir could not have located a a lot more proper day than the 1st of Might to make that dreaded cockpit distress contact ‘May Day! Could Day! Could Day!’.

Even so in this instance he produced this get in touch with out to his Flight Purser Rozeena, who collectively with him managed to sooner or later acquire entry to the Flight Deck by using the secret code made for such emergency purposes.

Captain Wagh an Indian national is reported to often commute from his home town in Bombay to operate his scheduled flights, even though he has his own accommodation in Seeduwa, a town which is situated closer to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport Katunayake.

Nonetheless on this distinct day it was further reported that he arrived from Bombay in the morning of 30th April 2015 and headed to the Mihin Lanka workplace in Colombo to total some official function.

“Obviously Capt. Wagh was not totally rested for this extended night turn about flight, even although he was provided with adequate time to rest by the airline. This is probably the purpose why he was fatigued on the return sector” mentioned a Cabin Crew member of the spending budget carrier.

What is intriguing to know is why the airline’s newly introduced security rule was not applied by Capt. Wagh and F/O Lafir, exactly where a Cabin Crew Member now demands to be positioned in the flight deck anytime a single of the ‘two man’ cockpit crew measures out.

This amended safety rule was produced by Mihin Lanka when it was advised to all airlines after the low expense carrier ‘German Wings’ recently experienced a similar situation.

First Officer Subki Lafir

First Officer Subki Lafir

In that fatal accident the F/O of that airline locked out his Captain in flight and in a successful suicidal bid went onto to crash the aircraft in true ‘Kamikaze’ style killing all on aboard into the mountain variety of the French Alps.

Even so the duration that the F/O remained out of the flight deck is also of value, as it is now identified that if a person falls asleep for more than 20 minutes his body’s ‘circadian rhythm’ can send him into a deep sleep thereafter.

It is still unsure if the F/O Lafir is however to file an Air Security Report (ASR) with regards to this incident, as Colombo Telegraph can confirm that Capt. Wagh has gone on to operate 3 much more industrial flights because this incident.

However Gerald Mendis Mihin Lanka&#8217s In Flight Solutions Consultant did confirm to Colombo Telegraph that Flight Purser Rozeena had officially informed Manager Manique Rodrigo and also him about this incident in an e mail the following day.

“You can’t blame our Captains for sleeping in the sky as equally our senior management are frequently caught napping on ground when it comes to security connected matters. A comprehensive overhaul requirements to take spot inside the senior management of the Flight Operations Division (FOD) if we are to preserve this an airline safe” mentioned a rather disgruntled airline official.

“Capt. Wagh is almost certainly the only Pilot who could very easily sleep via even a thunderstorm, as he has been caught napping on numerous occasions by several F/O’s who strangely have not officially reported it” continued the airline official.

It was also shockingly reported that the flight handle tower in Chennai had failed in their bid to get via to flight MJ 408 on many occasions when Capt. Wagh was rapidly asleep at the flight controls. A passing Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft had also failed in their try to get in make contact with with MJ 408 during Capt.Wagh’s period of slumber, exactly where they had gone on to use the emergency frequency.

A single can’t blame the sentiments of these airline’s officials as it has now been frequently reported that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Capt. Druvi Perera’s competencies as a ‘Pilot and an Administrator’ was each exposed in the ‘Weliamuna Report’, which has left many bemused as to how he nonetheless mysteriously continues to stay holding his posts overlooking both airlines.

His appointed Manager Flight / Ground Safety Capt. Keminda Yahampath’s whose position is but to be endorsed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Sri Lanka is also reported to be as tainted as his COO on his own pilot connected incidents.

Whilst Capt. Yahampath was much more popular to have burst the tires of the aircraft he commanded into Trivandrum prior to his promotion and quizzical appointment, his boss COO Capt. Druvi’ Perera’s commanded flight skidded off the runway in Chennai going on to damage the landing strip and lights where it was all hushed up during the instances the nation was run by the Rajapaksas. The Director Flight Operations (DFO) Capt. Pujitha Jayakody’s character is also questionable exactly where he was reported to have getting apprehended and remanded by the regional police in Singapore for ‘shoplifting’. With a pending court case for his theft, Capt. Jayakody has avoided setting foot in the ‘Lion City’ for the previous 25 years.

&#8220That fairly significantly sums up the management of Mihin Lanka’s flight operations department who runs the security portion of the flying business.&#8221 stated our source.

The disparity and inconsistencies displayed by the senior management that now commands both airlines since the merge is where in one more Sri Lankan Airlines reported incident Capt. Anupama Pathirane and his F/O are currently grounded pending inquiry into an incident on that took spot on their flight from Trichy to Colombo final year.

Nonetheless in this instance the Mihin Lanka Capt. Wagh and F/O Lafir still continue in their flying roles.

&#8220The whole nation continues to watch in horror as numerous security related incidents reported in the media is becoming ignored by the Chairman Ajit Dias of both Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka, his Board of Directors and furthermore H.M.C. Nimalasiri the Director General of Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka.&#8221l amented a very senior airport official.

“However what is a lot more severe about this incident is as to why the airline’s management has turned a blind eye especially when this incident took place in international air space. The seriousness of the non-held inquiry up to now is as severe as the incident itself, that now warrants an instant investigation into the management of the flight operations department” the senior airport official further stated.

Absolute Conflict Of Interest: Maithri’s Investigator Weliamuna Need to Go

Very good governance activists in Sri Lanka urged the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka to resign form all posts he currently holds, such as the Special Presidential Process Force for the recovery of illegally acquired state assets.



&#8220Just saw the Colombo Telegraph story on the Sri Lankan Airlines inquiry &#8211 the Weliamuna report. Really disappointed myself. I was beneath the impression that the perform accomplished was voluntary &#8211 this is what was told to folks with links to Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). For your info, J. C. Weliamuna is the Chairman of TISL &#8211 nevertheless. Absolute conflict of interest.&#8221 an activist and a staff member of the Transparency International Sri Lanka told Colombo Telegraph last night.

&#8220He should resign from all posts&#8221 one more employees member and a very good governance activist mentioned.

Colombo Telegraph carried two stories ( click right here and right here) describing that Weliamuna was the former Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka. We apologise for the error.

JC Weliamuna is the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, co-convener of the Lawyers Collective, Lawyers for democracy and a  key member of the Friday Forum. On 29th of April, he was appointed as a member of the Special Presidential Process Force for the recovery of illegally acquired state assets by President Maithripala Sirisena.

We asked Weliamuna to reveal the quantity he was paid to investigate Sri Lankan Airlines &#8211 the initial government-commissioned inquiry into the prior Rajapaksa regimes’s corruption and malpractices.

Three days ago Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his group comprising three other members U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K. Bandara had been paid Rs 3.5 million. At that time Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from the chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Weliamuna but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this info. Weliamuna has not responded to that question as however. The day before yesterday we emailed Weliamuna as soon as again and requested him to furnish at least the amount he did acquire as his charge but he is yet to respond to that query as well.

Previously when we reported the &#8220Colombo Telegraph blockade, the world wide web provider Dialog Axiata PLC’s and the Jayantha Dhanapala concern&#8220, Weliamuna told Colombo Telegraph, that “Every person has a proper to raise matters of conflict of interest and such matters are typically raised in the public interest (as opposed to private interests). Conflicts can arise in any sphere such as private businesses and even media organisations and therefore I think that Colombo Telegraph, like any citizen, has every appropriate to raise it in the public interest.”

TISL web site says

J. C. Weliamuna (Chairman)

Mr. J C Weliamuna is one particular of Sri Lanka’s leading public interest and Constitutional lawyers, with 24 years active practice. He had appeared in hundreds of top human rights and constitutional cases like landmark governance connected case. He holds a Master of Laws from the University of Colombo, where he served as a going to lecturer. He is also an Eisenhower and a Senior Ashoka Fellow.

Following establishing his legal profession in commercial law, Mr. Weliamuna moved into the fields of constitutional and human rights law, and became an active contributor to nearby and foreign media on governance and human rights challenges in Sri Lanka. He has played a leadership role in many pro democratic movements in the nation and in the sub region.

He was TI Sri Lanka’s 1st Executive Director, where he served from 2002 until 2010. Presently he serves as a director of TI’s Board soon after being elected by International membership of TI movement in 2010.

“There ought to be transparency on each the framework set for the inquiry and the basis for charging – the danger is this ends with those involved profiteering with out [the public gaining] adequate benefits”, a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the situation of anonymity.

The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ report was submitted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 31st March 2015 and advisable criminal investigations into the complete re-fleeting process and had noted instances exactly where former chairman Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and airlines’ CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, should be prosecuted.

Imply whilst, yesterday, Ruwan F. Guruge, the owner of Sri Lanka Mirror emailed the following story [of his own website carried] to the editor of Colombo Telegraph, copying to J.C. Weliamuna, Krishantha Cooray, a single of the UNP exco members and the head of the UNP media unit and also to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera. His email reads as follows:

An organised mudslinging campaign targeting Attorney-At-Law &#8211 J.C. Weliamuna has commenced right after investigations have commenced on the Weliamuna report committee with regard to the irregularities at Sri Lankan Airlines.

It is stated that an advance payment of Rs. 12 million has been made for the mudslinging campaign.

The former chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines was non other than the brother of former initial lady &#8211 Shiranthi Rajapaksa.

The Weliamuna report has revealed of staggering financial irregularities and corruption that has taken spot between 2006 &#8211 2014.

The report was handed more than to the President and the Sri Lankan Airlines chairman on March 30.

A lawyer tasked with the campaign against the report and Weliamuna, has been paid an advance of Rs. 10 million. According to sources, a trade union of Sri Lankan Airlines has been tasked with the mudslinging campaign and for this purpose an advance payment of Rs. 02 million has been created.

The mission, which is headed by a prominent official of the Rajapaksa government is also joined by a group of officials facing charges by the Weliamuna committee report.

Editor&#8217s note &#8211 &#8220Weliamuna has been a excellent contributor to Colombo Telegraph, a buddy but moreover he is my private lawyer who is representing me in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. CT did ask Weliamuna a simple question for the benefit of our readers &#8211 the query was pertaining to the charge the Weliamuna group had been paid. When Weliamuna was contacted over the telephone he did confirm the fee to be a sum of Rs 3.5million in total but he was not in a position to offer a break down at that time. CT did create to him subsequently but he is however to reply us.&#8221

Wiliamuna TIS

Dayasiri Jayasekara Is Probably To Be SLFP Prime Ministerial Candidate

Dayasiri Jayasekara is believed to be President Srisena’s strong private preference as successor, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.

President Maithripala Srisena has opened the way for a wide contest to replace him as SLFP leader and he named 3 achievable successors among the “great people” who could assume the crown.

Dayasiri J“There absolutely comes a time where a fresh pair of eyes and fresh leadership would be very good. The party has got some fantastic individuals coming up – the Dayasiri Jayasekaras and the Arjuna Ranatungas and the Duminda Dissanayakas. There is lots of talent there. I am surrounded by really good men and women.” the President told his closest advisors after yesterday&#8217s meeting with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

According one particular of his advisors Sirisena said a “fresh pair of eyes” would be required by 2018 to lead the party right after his retirement.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday shot down the dreams of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he mentioned that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would not nominate a Prime Ministerial candidate prior to the next election.

Turning down the request produced by pro-MR faction to name the Prime Ministerial candidate of the celebration, Sirisena stated such a measure would be disadvantageous to the celebration at the election. The President’s swift response indicated that he had no intention to accommodate the former President at the next election as the PM candidate of the party.

Sirisena believes family members politics need to be ended, our supply stated.

“President Maithripala Srisena believes that the Chief Minister of the North Central Province Dayasiri Jayasekara is one particular of the party’s greatest ‘strikers’ who will play a prominent function in the subsequent basic election campaign. But he believes that Jayasekera nonetheless has a lot to prove as a critical heavyweight politician.” the source additional mentioned.

Chief Minister Jaysekara, on becoming asked if he had launched any campaign to be the Prime Ministerial candidate, he stated, “no.&#8221

Speaking to Colombo Telegraph he mentioned that if he is given a likelihood to lead the subsequent parliamentary election campaign he would do excellent. “I’m willing to take any challenge to make the celebration win. I have displayed my capabilities in the past” he said when contacted today.

“To win we need to regain the minority votes. I have high level of assistance amongst ethnic minority voters” he additional said.

The Extended Term Answer To Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Difficulty

By Aravinth Kumar &#8211

Aravinth Kumar

Aravinth Kumar

Switzerland (officially recognized as the Swiss Confederation) is a nation created up of four native ethnic groups Swiss Germans (generating up two/3rd of the population live mainly in the north, centre and east), Swiss French (largest minority group at 20% live mainly in the west, which is recognized non-officially as Romandie), Swiss Italians (around 7% reside mostly in the south-east) and the Romansh (.five%). What is striking is that every of the three large ethnic groups live next door to their respective nation of language origin i.e. the Swiss Germans reside subsequent to Germany, the Swiss French next to France and the Swiss Italians next to Italy. Switzerland as a nation should not genuinely exist! But, it does. Switzerland has somehow been in a position to keep all these distinct ethnic groups in one united country. So how come, even although Switzerland has a “large majority, huge minority” circumstance like Sri Lanka, it has not been confounded by the exact same ethnic dilemma that Sri Lanka has had to deal with? How come the Swiss French have by no means fought to separate and type a new country called “Romandie” (or even merge with France)?

Sprachen CH 2000 EN

 *Swiss Federal Statistical Office census of 2000 &#8211 Source &#8211 Wikipedia, Marco Zanoli.

It all comes down to the way in which the country is governed. Switzerland is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 cantons. The unity of the nation is upheld by the Federal Council (executive level) and a two-tier parliament (legislative level). Collectively, they are in charge of managing the country’s foreign affairs, defence and security policies, financial matters and enacting legislation that applies throughout the complete country (the federal laws usually takes precedence). The cantons are equivalent in size to a district in Sri Lanka. Just like the districts, every canton is mainly inhibited by one ethnic group 17 cantons are German-speaking, four cantons are French-speaking, 1 canton is Italian-speaking, three cantons are bilingual (German and French) and 1 canton is trilingual (German, Italian and Romansh). Nonetheless, as opposed to the districts, every canton is offered a big degree of autonomy they have their personal constitution, legislature, government and courts. The cantons are accountable for their personal healthcare, welfare, law enforcement, education and taxation. 

The purpose behind why each and every canton is supplied a massive degree of autonomy is due to Switzerland’s recognition that the population requirements in every canton differ due to the political, social and financial difficulties peculiar to that particular canton itself (this is even the case amongst two linguistically comparable cantons). They have understood that a cantonal government compared to a central government, which could be situated on the other side of the nation, has a greater capability at formulating policies which meet the regional requirements. This is since, not only do the cantonal government representatives reside in proximity to the folks, they are usually from the very same community. As a outcome, they are in a far better position to recognize the problems in their canton and provide special options which take into account the distinct culture, history, language and religious practise.

In addition, with each and every canton obtaining the indicates to develop their respective area, it has allowed for a greater spread of development countrywide. This has prevented just the capital city and its surrounding location to develop like we find in Sri Lanka. For instance, the German speaking Zürich, the bilingual speaking Federal Capital Bern and French speaking Geneva (found in the north-central, centre and intense south-west respectively) are all ranked in the prime ten most liveable cities in the world by Mercer. Far more so, Zürich and Geneva are each ranked in the top ten leading global cities.

In my opinion, this is the defining explanation why Switzerland has not been challenged with ethnic difficulties. I think that the root trigger of the ethnic dilemma comes down to accessibility. The reason the Swiss Germans, French and Italians are in a position to co-exist peacefully is due to each group having the potential to access the most coveted jobs due to their respective cantons possessing the power to bring job generating investments. This has stopped a predicament of unequal distribution and therefore prevented a predicament where one ethnic group perceives (which might be reality or not) that they are getting discriminated against. This has regrettably not been the case in Sri Lanka were accessibility has usually been unequally distributed. This inability to access the greatest education or jobs has been what led the Sinhalese and Tamils turning to extremist elements. For instance, if we appear at Sri Lanka pre 1956 and post 1956 we can see that in each and every era one ethnic group was reduce off from the best jobs. Pre 1956, the most sought after jobs exactly where mostly accessible by the Tamils. This was due to the need to be fluent in English and the disproportionate number of English medium schools being situated in the Tamil north. This meant the majority of Sinhalese have been cut off from the greatest paid jobs, top to a large earnings disparity with the Tamils. Stuck in poorly paid jobs, the Sinhalese exactly where simply swayed by the newly formed Sinhalese nationalist party, the SLFP, who had been campaigning for Sinhala to replace English. Consequently, with the SLFP effortlessly winning the 1956 election and making Sinhala the official language, the ideal jobs became inaccessible to most Tamils. This in turn developed a large aggravated group who became effortlessly influenced by extreme Tamil nationalists.

Nonetheless, the Swiss model also has the benefit of bringing advantages to the most deprived individuals in a single ethnic group. The Sinhalese have had their fair share of protests and riots aimed at a government dominated by “their” people e.g. the JVP uprising. Quite a few governments in Sri Lanka have failed to bring top quality jobs to the youth in the rural districts, such as in the Monaragala district, exactly where poverty is rampant. This is entirely diverse to Switzerland, exactly where irrespective if a Swiss German lives in the north or the south, they each equally have access to the same (high) regular of living.

Sri Lankan’s parliamentary and/or presidential elections are synonymous with majority and minority political parties scapegoating the opposing ethnic groups for political gain. Far more so, it is typical to see the biggest parties (SLFP and UNP) appealing purely to the Sinhalese neighborhood, since gaining the majority of Sinhalese vote typically ensures a win. This “divide and rule” tactic utilized by politicians has only ever had the impact of arousing communal conflicts. Yet, even though Switzerland’s political parties can also appeal purely to the German majority, this is not observed.

The explanation is, firstly, the German politicians are in no position to be capable to scapegoat the issues the German community faces on the minorities. This is because, each of the German cantons has power, and hence the faults lie with the German representatives of that respective canton. Secondly, all political parties run on a pan Swiss identity i.e. there are no parties which run on a communal line like in Sri Lanka with the likes of the TNA, SLMC and JHU. Lastly, the structure of the federal level is created in such a way that no ethnic group holds excessive energy. The federal level is split amongst two levels bicameral parliament (legislative) and the Federal Council (executive). Parliament is formed of two houses the Council of States (46 representatives where every canton are represented by two members and every half canton are represented by one particular member) and the National Council (200 members who are elected below a program of proportional representation based on the population of the cantons). Due to this structure, the voice of every single ethnic canton is represented therefore no ethnic group can push for legislation which favours one ethnic group more than an additional. Additionally, the Federal Council of Switzerland is also representative of both the majority and minority. This is because the executive powers are not centred with a single person, rather it is collectively shared between seven members (recognized as councillors the seven councillors every single hold a single of the seven cabinet positions) who are selected from different ethnic cantons. As factors at present stand, the Federal Council is produced up of 5 German and 2 French councillors.

Way forward

For as well long, we have looked at the USA, UK and India as a model of governance to bring lasting peace. These have been attempted and failed models. Most agree, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, that the Indian pushed “13th Amendment” will not bring lengthy lasting peace. Consequently, I firmly think it is time for us to as an alternative tailor a new governance technique primarily based on the Swiss federal model. Right after all, it is a method which has shown to be workable in a comparable sized nation which has a small but diverse multi-linguistic population. It has designed a country where a single can be proud to be a German, French or Italian whilst also becoming proud to be Swiss. Funnily enough, this federal structure came about a few years right after Switzerland’s own civil war 200 years ago. Because then, Switzerland has not faced an internal (or external) armed conflict which is testament to how well the federal structure has worked.

Under is a short outline of how Sri Lanka would operate below a Swiss style model of governance.

  • 3 official languages Sinhala, Tamil and English
  • All citizens of Sri Lanka will be treated equally irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender or sex
  • Federally Sri Lanka will be secular
  • Introduction of direct democracy Switzerland is the only country in the planet that delivers this. It offers the citizens with an capability to challenge a law passed by the Federal/Canton Parliament
  • Sri Lanka will adhere to a line of firm neutrality this is quite critical to prevent Sri Lanka becoming impacted by any fallout among our regional friends such as India, Pakistan, and China. It helped save Switzerland from getting dragged into the Globe Wars and also prevented ethnic discomfort between the Swiss Germans and the Swiss French throughout the war periods when France and Germany exactly where enemies.
  • Sri Lanka will be split into 3 political levels Federal, District and Divisional Secretariats.


The federal responsibilities will be the exact same as in Switzerland i.e. foreign, defence and safety policy, monetary matters and enacting legislation that applies throughout the whole nation.

The executive powers will be exercised by the “Federal Council of Sri Lanka”, which will act as each the head of government and head of state. The legislative power is allocated to the two chambers of the “Federal Assembly of Sri Lanka”. The judiciary will stay independent of the executive and the legislature, with energy getting exercised by the “Federal Supreme Court of Sri Lanka” (comparable to the existing Supreme Court). Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte will be the seat of all federal authorities.

Federal Council of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s government will consist of nine members with every member coming from the nine ceremonial provinces (the provinces won’t have any power). The member to “represent” a province will come from the districts which kind a province. For instance, the Western Province is formed of three districts Colombo District, Gampaha District, Kalutara District. Each four years the leader of these three districts will rotate about as the representative of the Western Province.

Every of the nine members will have equal rights. They will every single act as a head of department (cabinet) in the federal administration, but like in Switzerland, all government decisions will be taken in a weekly conference either by consensus or by majority voting of the nine members. The following is a table of the departments which are fixed at nine (Note: the federal functions are not set in stone for each province i.e. the Central Province is not stuck forever with the “Department of Environment and Energy”).

AALike in Switzerland, there will be no complete time head of state. Rather the federal council will act collectively as the head of state. Nonetheless, like in Switzerland, due to the national and international need to have for a distinct individual to represent the country, the representational functions of a president will be taken by a single of the members through a yearly rotation system e.g. the Central Province member will be president with the Eastern Province member as Vice President. The following year, the Eastern member will turn out to be president and the North Central member becoming Vice President etc.

The ‘president’ will be in charge of setting the agenda of the weekly conferences but will have no powers going above and beyond other members. They will also be in charge of addressing the individuals at national and international functions. Nevertheless, like in Switzerland, during any foreign state go to, the foreign leader will be met by the government ‘in corpore’ i.e. by all the members.

Federal Assembly

Sri Lanka will have two tier assembly created up of the
Council of districts (Upper property):

  • Council to represent the 25 districts with elections every four years.
  • Every single district will send two members top to a total of 50 members.

National council (Decrease Property):

  • 200 members elected below a proportional election system. Elections occur every single four years taking place simultaneously with the elections for the Council of Districts.
  • This will act related to the current Sri Lankan parliament.

District and Divisional Secretariats

  • Like the cantons, the districts will have far reaching powers and will choose themselves how to be run. However, all district laws have to conform to the Federal Law.
  • The districts will be further sub divided into the pre-existing divisional secretariats. These will have the very same powers that their equivalent in Switzerland, the communes, has.

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The former Army Commander and later Chief of Defence Employees, Common (Retired) Sarath Fonseka has been arrested about ten PM on Monday at his workplace.