Saturday, June 24, 2017


Image: Sandya Eknaligoda, holding a placard which says ” protect Lakshan Dias’s right to speak!” at a recently held protest against Justice Minister’s remarks. Credit:  .

Sri Lanka Brief23/06/2017

Speaking to Ceylon Today Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa has indicated that he is going to take action against human and minority rights defender attorney at Law Lakshan Dias. His recent inflammatory comments on Lakshan Dias came under strong criticism form local as well as international human rights organisations.

Unleashing an anti NGO barrage he says that it is extremist NGO cohorts are the ones who attempt to suppress monks and Buddhists. They appear before media and blaspheme Buddhist monks.

Mr. Rajapaksa has been appointed as a member of Prime Minister’s Committee for the Implementation of the Geneva resolution last week.

Excerpts from interview published follows:

By Wijedasa Rajapaksa.

I totally disagree with that allegation  that the United National Party  is a secular political party. The UNP has nowhere mentioned to be so and there is no possibility of happening that. It is the prime duty and the responsibility of the country as a whole to safeguard the pre-eminency of Buddhism and to protect the Buddha Sasana. That responsibility does not lie with a singular political party.
( In fact UNP issued a press statement insisting that it is a secular political party. Read the Sinhala language press release here: UNP press statement 19 June 2017.j PDF pg)

The lawyer  against whom I will take action to disbar a lawyer if he fails to apologize to the nation for his statement regarding alleged attacks on 166 Christian places of worship is a traitor and is in a mission to spoil the reconciliation process. He is eagerly waiting to grab an opportunity to create unrest in the country. These people behave in a manner similar to animals.

I am taking action against his statement. You can see the results in a couple of days.

Yes, of course!  I agree that those who attempt to curb the voice of Sinhala Buddhists are funded by NGOs. And those NGOs pay thumping amounts of money to those who engage in portraying a bad image of Sri Lanka that the minority ethnic groups are discriminated and tortured in the country by the majority. The more the religious unrest is prevailing in the country, the merrier for those who live by the aids of extremist foreign organizations. Some people, for instance the alleged lawyer who claimed that 166 Christian places of worship were assaulted, openly work for NGOs and some do not publicly appear to be so. But, all of them are being funded by NGOs.

They are prepared to engage in any unethical act if they are paid well. They neither practise a religion, nor they belonged to an ethnic group, and they do not have roots. They act in accordance with the whims and fancies of NGOs. If there is no crisis in the country and if it is peaceful, those NGOs will have to pack their bags and leave the country. If so happens, they will lose their means of living. They attempt to create religious and ethnic unrest merely for their survival.

That is why they create crises in the country to retain their income. They operated during the previous regime as well. In comparison to the previous regime, the freedom of expression and freedom of media are assured by this government. Hence, their presence and activities have become intense after this government came to power.

As we have assured media freedom, the media recklessly report what these NGO funded traitors jabber before the cameras and mikes. That is also one of the main reasons to aggravate this problem. Media has no idea what should or shouldn’t be done.Nowadays we cannot find journalists. There are only reporters who report whatever is being said by someone.

After we have paved the way for reconciliation in the country, NGOs and anti Buddhist and Sinhala movements began to operate with no hindrance. They abuse their freedom overtly. If this government was also to adhere to the procedures of the Mahinda regime, those movements and organizations would maintain low profiles. This government does not suppress them and have assured their freedom and that is the reason for their unwarranted behaviour.

I agree that they make use of the tender side of the reconciliation to operate in an unethical manner.
We do not subdue Buddhist monks in the country. Extremist NGO cohorts are the ones who attempt to suppress monks and Buddhists. They appear before media and blaspheme Buddhist monks. None in the government has reviled Buddhist monks.

Our Sinhala politicians are not intelligent enough to do so. The Sinhala Buddhist politicians do not have the vision to get together and stand up for their own ethnicity and religion. The disunity among the Sinhalese is the main problem why we cannot solve the racist and ethnic problems.

m in temple for the betterment of the people. They do not earn any profit by that. Those who cannot comprehend this truth have lodged complaints against broadcasts of Pirith at temples. That is a problem with their comprehension and knowledge. Pirith is chanted to bless people and the surroundings and the Bukkhus never curse or reprimand the believers of other religions. If someone is against chanting of Pirith I can say that they lack understanding.

Edited excerpts from a interview published in the Ceylon Today.

TNA – Is It Taking The Tamils For A Ride? – Part II

Kumarathasan Rasingam
logoContinued from yesterday….
It is still not late for TNA to change its fruitless course for the sake of future of Tamils to ensure its existence in Sri Lanka, preventing an extinction through assimilation, It is imperative for TNA to join the voluntary protests of the people already in progress, besides mobilising protest campaigns for the other actions of the successive Sri Lankan governments like the erection of numerous Buddha statutes and constructions of Buddha Viharas where there is hardly any Buddhists, (mostly in the North and East where Hindu/Christian/Muslims are in majority and where the Chief Minister of Northern Provide is a Hindu and the Chief Minister of Eastern Province is a Muslim) solely to carve an image for Sri Lanka as a Buddhist Sinhala Country.
A mass protest campaign either sit-in or satyagraha (Gandhian style) is the need of the hour to free the lands unjustifiably and unnecessarily seized and occupied by the security forces in the North. Lest TNA would have to bear the blame of complicity in the Sinhalisiation aimed at making the Tamils as minorities resulting in serious demographic changes.
TNA is also wholeheartedly supporting the government for most of its legislations and actions when TNA must focus their attention and campaign towards the international community viewing the internationalised awareness of Tamils’ issues and grievances. First and foremost is the issue of accountability for war crimes etc.
It is worth quoting what the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis stated in her memo to State Dept in 2010. “Responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka” [http:  Sri Lankan-President-alleged-war-html]
Secondly, TNA must pursue its election pledges with no let up particularly the setting up of a Federal system, failing which it is worth resigning the parliamentary seats and call for a renewed mandate from the Tamils to strengthen the demand.
Sri Lanka’s agenda and fate of Tamils is lucidly and accurately forecast by Gordon Weiss (Book Cage -page 227) “The evident brutality of the final phase of Sri Lanka’s war, the treatment of the civilians population, the post war militarisation, the rejection of accountability and the political refiguring of the nation imply a political objective that has little interest in the hearts and minds of those who were ‘rescued’. It suggests, instead commitment to the complete subjugation of the Tamil population by force, and an intention to sustain a grip over this restive group through terror and ethnic cleansing”. Unfortunately judging by the current trends on the ground, an astute sooth sayer might guess that the future for Sri Lanka’s Tamil citizens is bleak”. (page 224)
“Under the guise of development, the Sri Lankan Government is indeed using its Army to control the economy of Tamils majority areas, and to change the demography” (Bourke –  Australia – March 2012)
“The extinction of Tamil Tigers has once again made possible the total domination of the narrative by the state” . (Gordon Weiss – Cage Page 225)
There is little doubt the former UN Official Gordon Weiss who worked in numerous conflict and natural disaster zones – like Bosnia, Afghanistan, Darfur and Haiti, has even-handedly analysed the politics and war of Sri Lanka, and it is hoped Sri Lanka will change its destabilising and destructive   course and embark on the path of justice, accountability and reconciliation sincerely and honestly with concrete actions and without empty promises and undertakings to the UN and International community.
For the time being, TNA must cease to continue the history of betrayal and breach of trust and promises staining the dignity of Tamils.
Sampanthan’s worry and concern for the survival of this Government rather than the survival of the Tamils is simply unrealistic and just poor judgement.
Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi’s  [ITAK’s] latest distressing episode in relation to Chief Minister of Northern Province Wigneswaran appears to be descending in to a full scale crusade to remove a principled person who has risen like a Goliath to challenge the trio ( Sam, Sum, Mavai) of ITAK.
This is nothing but a disgusting spectacle unfolding pitting one group of Tamils against another group of Tamils even calling for Hartal to show the strength as a non-violent struggle. By these actions, the Tamil leaders have plainly, simply fallen into the divide and rule trap of government to destabilize the Northern Provincial Council and paint a picture of disunity, lack of dedication and determination to agitate for the causes of Tamils with hoards of problems facing the Tamils who are still suffering after the brutal war. It is thus unpardonable for the Tamil leaders to waste their time and energy for the sake of self-glory, power and promoting of party interests at the expense of suffering Tamils.

Read More

On which “beast’s” back does the burden of governance (not) rest?
01 Friday, 23 June 2017
I was very hopeful when circumstances necessitated a national government of sorts in a hazy summer concatenation now long forgotten. At the time, we all thought the union of two major mainstream mindsets would result in a smorgasbord of good things – governance included.

There would be a unitary vision; a joint effort at ensuring things were done in a unified national interest; a strategic streamlining of mission and passion just short of symbiosis whereby all would be well in the many spheres where we the people had mandated our servants – our elected representatives who would appoint their own mandarins and govern out of sight, out of mind, until we were called on to replace them… Or endorse another term, depending on their performance in the honeymoon period – and beyond – into their unusual but welcome political alliance.

Or so we thought, being idealistic; hoping that the beast with two backs being made by previously implacable foes would ally our aspirations for ‘peace with justice’ with their political ambition to do or be damned – but both parties proved to be a disappointment; with neither beast providing a platform for the people’s hopes; just oxen pulling in different directions, and bellowing about hardly anything worth bothering about.

The new political culture was no genuine new political culture; but rather a hybrid creature roughly sewn together in a pastiche of personalities and preferences: lacking character and principle as the rude star turn in the ensuing pantomime into which governance has descended of late…

MPs: Mouthing platitudes

Politicos are often mouthpieces for their respective political parties, as well as their more powerful patrons with hidden agendas and vested interests. However, when they utter utter inanities or patent absurdities, the public are compelled to draw a firm but fair line. Despite the seeming meaningfulness of the sentiments expressed by a brace of ministers recently, there is far more significance to their utterances than might immediately meet your eye.

How lame it is when the less than honest horse hustler rails against the crooked cattle wranglers on the adjoining ranch. Hearing a minister who has done the rounds, politically speaking, laying down the law unequivocally on a matter of fiscal and fiduciary ethics reminded me that those who live in barns should not throw dung… unless they expect bovine excreta to be thrown back at them… until the Augean stables of their own as well as joint and mutual making are cleansed, they would do better to hold their peace.

That the minister in question is concerned with fraud and financial crime and punishment is commendable. If only the minister and the politico-legal machinery he is speaking on behalf of were to put their money where their mouth is, it would be far more credible and worthy of the headlines he made in essaying his fait accompli.

Political pundit’s patter

02According to Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, the government’s good intention is to prosecute politicians and public servants who misuse public funds, and abuse (or let fall into disuse) the state’s national resources. Does he know – as Virgil did, because the road was smooth then as now – that the path to hell is paved with mere good intentions?

The minister added that his administration would not permit the perpetrators of fraud and/or other financial crimes (as well as a spate of corrupt practices) to roam free… but would take legal action against them… Which is all well and good… but how can and must he and his naïve ilk account for the inordinate number of sharks and big fish at large to enjoy ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ – while sprats and minnows languish in gaol… for petty misdemeanours as much as incurring the wrath of the present powers that be? The Founding Fathers of our Democracy must shudder that ’twas ever thus… one revengeful regime no more noble or pure than the other honourable administration of doubtful probity!

The master psychologist with amazing insight into the state’s bureaucratic mentality inferred that certain government servants – perhaps both elected and appointed public officials – wrongly believed that they were not going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, being simply suspended for a while. However, this would not be the case, the insistent minister added, adducing that (as Churchill intimated) appearances can be deceiving. Or, as this could be misinterpreted, “keep up appearances – therein lies the test… the world will give you credit for the rest…”

In a statement virtually guaranteed to make the minister regret his pronouncement, he further asseverated (with an emphasis on the first syllable): “We will ensure that if and when found guilty, those wrongdoers who are discovered breaking the law will be jailed for seven to eight years at the very least.” Maybe he forgets that the law and the lapses of its enforcement – like love, as Jesus said – cover a multitude of sins… So he’s sitting pretty in asserting (again, the same emphasis) that with the sitting president, there would be no let up or lacunae in law enforcement. Perhaps the Lord Archer model of politicians doing penance in prison would suit some of the minister’s fine-feathered friends better – if only the ruling party would be humble enough to turn the spotlight on themselves!

Meanwhile everyone’s wondering why the microscope of ‘good governance’ has failed to identify a single microbe in a plethora of high-profile killings under the previous regime? Is it that the truth hurts – or that realpolitik (whereby sauce for the enemy goose is sauce for our frenemies’ gander) rules the roost in the republic under the same panoply of pragmatic politics? No one gets their just desserts in the end under any administration to date… save those treated to rough justice by the assassin’s bullet or grenade, or the terrorist’s landmine or suicide vest…

Not one to beat about the bush, the minister went on to declare that Yahapalanaya’s ostensibly sea-green (with a dash of pea-blue) incorruptible administration was not established to protect thieves, rogues, and sundry scoundrels – but to prosecute them. And I can just hear JFK’s Marilyn Monroe saying in the background, “Yes, son, that’s all well and good, but first you have to find them.” She had another piece of advice which might also suit our punitive panjandrums thumping the drum on finding out who’s been naughty and nice… “I am trying to find myself. Sometimes, that’s not easy…” – can the do-gooder declaratives take a look in the mirror, please?

Thus we all know – as the erudite and well-informed minister does, having the facts at his fingertips – that, currently, “several cases of fraud and corruption are being investigated”; and, presently, “some of the miscreants have been produced in court”. Well, who is he trying to impress – Jesus, or Jeffery Archer? And just who does he think he or the president are – Virgil? Churchill? JFK?

Ministering angels bedevilled

Therefore pardon my faith in platitudinous law-enforcement by law-abiding politicos if I and my dog (Greek, “cynos”) remain cynical (English, “doggedly despondent”). We are down in the mouth about much else that ails the republic these days. Not least of which is a minister wearing two hats who can’t seem to quite make up his mind whether to be an idiot about one portfolio while being an ideologue about another, and (in the limit) utterly idiosyncratic about both.

Ideally, a servant of the people cannot serve two masters – the state as well as self… And if only the minister in question could muster enough honesty to master the principle that he is a servant of the people and not a slave to any perverse ideology founded on ethno-nationalist chauvinism (in the guise of protecting a special interest group), he could still do justice to one – if not both – of the ministries than come under his purview.

But a peculiar keenness to curry favour with the prelates – perhaps with an eye on present or future portfolios, maybe even that of the Mikado himself under an emerging power bloc in the emerging blue party – has compromised his common sense as much as his usually calm demeanour and sense of composure on matters of national interest. Despite being a highly-respected legal eagle in certain circles, and notwithstanding his stature as a leading business magazine’s erstwhile ‘Sri Lankan of the Year’, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is showing an rather unsettling tendency to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

Which prompts me to ask: Who let the dogs out – again? Why at this time… Where is the much vaunted law and order we relied on? How is it that those masked men with hidden agendas and vested interests can cry, “Havoc!”, and let slip the dogs of war… and no less than the justice minister of a democratic-republic be seen not to be on the side of the angels? And, in fact, on the contrary, rush in where devils fear to tread? When will albeit powerful ministers learn that portfolios are temporary; fame or even notoriety short-lived; and personal peccadilloes while in office the legacy that even the best of well-meaning mandarins leave behind?

If only anger-maddened agenda-driven monks spewing vitriol – and their political masters mouthing inane platitudes after them, or adopting attack as the best form of defence, as in the Lakshan Dias fiasco – would sober up, the volatile words spoken in our nation today would be far less inflammatory ... and there’d be peace with justice, rather than simply the absence of conflict – and justice with peace among even the ministering angels in whom there was once such hope…

Sri Lanka government under fire for threatening human rights lawyer

20 JUNE 2017

The government of Sri Lanka has come under heavy attack for threatening to disbar a leading human rights lawyer who publicly criticized continuing violence against religious minorities.
Following remarks in a televised talk show by attorney at law Lakshan Dias that over 190 attacks against Christians have taken place since the government of President Maithripala Sirisena took office in January 2015, the minister of justice has threatened to revoke the license of the lawyer.
Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe and President Sirisena publicly attacked Lawyer Dias, quoting  the Catholic Archbishop of the Colombo diocese Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith who denied any knowledge of attacks against places of worship.
Rights watchdogs, Christians, civil society activists and leftist leaders have condemned the concerted effort to discredit Lakshan Dias instead of taking action against perpetrators. They have also called upon the government to assure the security of the lawyer.
Threat to marginalized groups
Human rights watch in a statement from New York has condemned the statement by justice minister as bullying.
“The government needs to put a quick end to Justice Minister Rajapakshe’s attempts to bully Lakshan Dias, a leading human rights lawyer who stands up for Sri Lankans at greatest risk,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“By threatening Dias’s license, the government is threatening all marginalized groups that depend on him and other rights defenders for protection.”
The statistics presented by Lakshan Dias has been based on information documented by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), including police complaints and case numbers of many such incidents.
NCEASL says that the information has been shared earlier the Ministry of Religious Affairs under successive governments, and shared information of acts of intimidation and violence. It has also shared its’ incident reports and documentation with other agencies closely working with the government including the South Asia Policy and Research Institute.
A statement issued by the NCEASL endorsed by over 200 signatories calls upon the government to ensure the safety and security of the lawyer and his family and uphold his fundamental rights to engage in his chosen profession, and continued enjoyment of the freedom of expression as a Lawyer and a defender of rights as guaranteed under the constitution.
Catholic and non-Catholics
It further emphasizes that the attacks referred to by Lakshan Dias is against churches of non-Catholic denominations.
“We draw attention to the distinction between the references made to attacks on Evangelical Christian churches as opposed to Roman Catholic churches, and also note that Cardinal Ranjith functions as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Colombo,” says the NCEASL statement.
Leader of the left wing Nava Sama Samaja Party, Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne heavily criticized the government for acting on misinformation provided by Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith on attacks against non-Catholic institutions.
He slammed the president and justice minister for “acting like fools” without studying facts provided by sources other than the Catholic church.
Mobs led by saffron robed individuals
The Methodist church of Sri Lanka has expressed its frustration over the fearful trend of religious fanaticism 'raising its beastly head' once again.
A statement issued by the Bishop of the Methodist Church says that mobs led by a few saffron robed individuals had physically obstructed their members from worshiping on several occasions.
“We hoped that with the dawn of the ‘Good Governance Government’ in 2015 this wave would have abated, and we state that due to the humane and righteous vision and policies of His Excellency the President and the Government, this wave of fanaticism was subdued to a larger extent,” says the statement issued by Bishop Asiri P Perera, “But unfortunately since of late we have observed this fearful trend raising its beastly head once again. What should be done is that all religions come together to establish and affirm noble human qualities in this country.”
The Bishop strongly condemns the attempt to obstruct the legal carrier of Lakshan Dias by “some individuals who have been misled by these extremists”.
Pluralism and Diversity within religious communities
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has urged Minister Rajapakse to broaden his sources of information and verification and to desist from threatening human rights defenders which it describes as “a bad practice of governments from the past”.
It calls upon the Minister to be both aware of and sensitive to the pluralism and diversity within our religious communities in his verification of facts.
“We reiterate our calls to President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe to launch an independent investigation of recent attacks against religious minorities, places of worship and businesses as a matter of national priority and to take all necessary action within the present legal framework to arrest and prosecute perpetrators,” says a statement issued by CPA.
“The government must take speedy and effective steps to restore the trust and confidence of all communities in its willingness and ability to protect and defend the rights of all its citizens.”

Is The Sinhalese Community Rising Up Against Racism & Violence?

Mass Usuf
logoThere has always been this uneasy feeling among the average Buddhist clergy and the Sinhala people in relation to racism and religious extremism. This embarrassment is not surprising because it reflects the teachings of the Buddha himself – metta (loving kindness). Therefore, the general assumption that anything to do with racism is confined only to an insignificant number of people is very correct. However, the havoc they can wreak can be devastating. The 1983 riots provide a good historical study.
The pogrom on the night of 24 July 1983, was not planned but spontaneous. Only small numbers, those who were related to the deceased soldiers, had gathered that day at the Kanatte. They were angry at the government’s decision to directly handle the funeral arrangements without handing over the remains to the families. Wild rumour spread fast and thousands from the nearby Wanathamulla slums kept coming. The crowd rioted with the Police. This cocktail of rumour, anger and sadness exploded into attacking some Tamil shops in the vicinity of Kanatte and Borella area. Later it spread beyond control like wild fire. Different estimates place the death toll between 400 and 3,000 and economic loss of the riots at US$ 300 million.
Ramadan And Aluthgama Riots
The build-up of acts of violence and arson against Muslim places of worship and commercial establishments in the past two months were alarming. Around 28 incidents had been recorded and several Police complaints made. Sadly, The Minister of Law and Order and his law enforcement machinery were in a deep state of coma. The month of Ramadan (the month in which Muslims devote themselves to fasting) was approaching so was the third anniversary of the Aluthgama riots in June 2014. The highly charged turn of events greatly disturbed an insecure Muslim community. They made several representations at all levels of the political spectrum having discussions with the Minister for Law and Order, the Prime Minister and even the President. There was apparently a lack of will to implement the rule of law which was the only request the Muslims were making at these meetings.
The failure both institutionally and in the due process were signs of a disaster in the offing. The writing was on the wall. If a man made planned destruction was disposed of by a vis major in the form of devastating floods and landslides that took place in May 2017, is anybody’s guess.  The loss of lives, destruction of properties and the suffering of the people in the floods were of course, tragic and unbearable. 
Sinhala Society
During this month, the voice of the Sinhala society was being heard. The clergy and the laymen; The intellectuals and the Artists. To be fair, it must be mentioned that among the politicians the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna also voiced their concern at the breakdown of the law and order. These developments reassured the Muslim community that there is still hope in this country. The majority which consists of respectable and right-minded Sinhala people had decided, enough is enough. They would not permit a handful of criminals and thugs to take this country down the path of death and destruction with the tacit blessings of opportunistic politicians and a section of the clergy. This signalled the rise of the silent civic minded Sinhala majority.
The Puravesi Balaya joined hands with the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhita thero’s Sadharana Samajayak Sandaha Vu Jatika Vyaparaya (National Movement for Social Justice) (please see this writer’s article in Colombo Telegraph of 08 -11 -2015) and entered the fray ably supported by other civil bodies.  They met with the Inspector General of Police on 11th June 2017, to express their deep concern on the increasing number of attacks on Muslims. Also, to question the hide and seek game played by Ven. Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara who had appeared to have transformed himself from being a monk to a fugitive.  He was wanted on a contempt of court case and has been avoiding the courts with what the pubic considers as lame excuses.  Sick on one date and claiming a threat to his life on another date at the court.  The Appeal Court has now given three dates for the inquiry that is 17th, 18thand 19th of July with the warning that warrant will be issued if he does not appear in court.
“Last week, the Fort Magistrate issued an arrest warrant against Gnanasara after he failed to appear before courts, despite two summons over a contempt of court charge. Incidentally, it was the second arrest warrant issued against the monk within less than a month, the first was issued on May 25, 2017 on charges of inciting racial hatred and for hate speech against the Muslim community.
The police claimed that they had deployed several units to arrest Gnanasara in May, however as he was in hiding they were unable to apprehend him”. (Colombo Telegraph: 21 – 06 – 2017)
Despite Frightening Confession
Meanwhile, the arsonist who attacked a Muslim owned leather Store in Wijerama Junction, Maharagama on 22nd May 2017 had been arrested due to mounting pressure. The IGP, Mr. Pujith Jayasundara had said in this meeting that he was horrified at a confession made by this arsonist. The suspect had said that he planned to attack two Buddhist temples in order to trigger a backlash on the Muslim community. This gives an idea as to the extent of radicalisation of the youth through misinformation and misperception about another community. The Police investigations have now established that he is a member of the Bodu Bala Sena organisation whose Secretary was the fugitive monk Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, who surrendered to the courts on the 21st of June.
The Word On The Streets
This monk who did not present himself at the Appeal Court claiming a threat to his life, on this day, simply walked in to the Fort Magistrate Court to surrender. As the well-choreographed drama was unfolding, people on the streets were asking, “what happened to the so called hyped up death threats of this monk”. “What happened to the so called four Police units deployed to arrest this monk”?  People were also questioning, “who was harbouring this monk all these days”?  “Why did the Police soft pedal the gravity of the offences of this suspect monk when questioned by the Magistrate?”
The civic minded people feel disillusioned and greatly insulted by this stage-managed saga. They asked, “do these people think we are fools? One rule for the monks and another for the lay person”. Many were also mocking at the fast track bail calling it eligible for an entry into the Guinness book of records. The public is heaping blame also on the corrupt and opportunistic politicians, the Rajapaksas, the Police, the justice system and the government.

Read More

Are they doctors or monsters when they strike amidst an epidemic in the country ? Minister Rajitha to take stern stand , enough is enough

-Damages caused run into millions of rupees !

LEN logo (Lanka-e-News - 23.June.2017, 11.30PM) ‘As a former leader of trade union myself I did not take any stern decision hitherto against the strikes staged by the GMOA , but henceforth strong and stern decisions will have to be taken against them ,’ said  Dr. Rajitha Senaratne , minister of health , nutrition and indigenous medicine . The minister made this dire announcement at a media briefing held at the State information department following the laying siege to the Suvisiripaya coming under the health ministry on the 21 st  by those who behaved  most violently like terrorists. The media briefing was attended by the minister of health , and a group of officials of the ministry. 
At a time when the whole country is in panic and turmoil  owing to the dengue menace  , the doctors deciding to strike cannot be condoned under any circumstances.  At this juncture when the whole country is in dire peril and it is an emergency situation that is prevailing , could these doctors act this inhumanly ? It  must be first questioned , whether  they are doctors at all ? the minister went on to ask.  The GMOA is not conducting itself as a union ,  but as a political party , he bemoaned. 
The terror group that held Sivisiripaya hostage , caused damage to the health ministry , and even harassed the employees . What is most despicable is  ,  these terror groups after causing all these harm to the health ministry , shamelessly went to the national hospital run by the very  ministry to get  treatment , he pointed out . The damage caused to the ministry and its 16 vehicles by the anti SAITM protestors is in the region of many millions  of rupees , though an accurate assessment has not been made yet   , the minister revealed with regret. 
A group of about 4000 were involved , and the Peratugami political party is behind this . Those who participated were not all medical students , and there were others. Since all these terror activities  were  recorded by the cameras , legal action will be taken in the future for causing damage to State  property  , the minister observed.
When this terrorizing group entered the ministry forcibly , there was no police security detail , hence when such protests are being staged  it is vital ministries such  as the  health and the Higher education be provided with police security personnel. 
Besides 21 st was the  public day of the ministry  and special ,submission of the report on the standard of medical education , and the meeting of the producers of  local drugs were scheduled for that day , but  because of the terror and sabotage activities of these groups , all those programs were turned topsy turvy to the detriment of the entire country , the minister stated with concern.
By now, a large number of measures have been taken on behalf of the free health services . 150 doctors have been dispatched to districts where dengue menace is most threatening . At the outset the death toll due to dengue was 1 % , but now it has dwindled to 0.3% based on the action plan, the minister pinpointed. 
Moreover when the government has ensured medicines in  all hospitals are available without any scarcity , and drug prices have been reduced , this type of sabotage activities under any guise or guile to impede the health services which is  doing its best for  the benefit of the public  is most deplorable and despicable , the minister highlighted.  While arrangements have been made to commence lectures for the medical faculty students on the 26 th , it is a crucial question , then  who were those that indulged in such wanton  terror and sabotage activities ?  
The ministry secretary who participated in the press briefing said , after he informed the police on the 21st  , and when  the tense situation was defused at the ministry , its employees were sent out with security escort. 
It is significant to note on the 21 st when the terrorizing group was  engaging in sabotage activities and causing damage to property after storming into the ministry , the ministry officials and employees acted with great fortitude and forbearance.  However when the terror group sought to pull down  the  hoisted  national flag and replace it with their own slogan , because of the strong opposition mounted by the ministry staff , the terrorizing  group could not succeed , the secretary said.
by     (2017-06-24 01:26:55)
A stroke, heart attack or acid reflux?

Query: I’m a 24-year-old woman and have symptoms such as headaches and dizziness when I bow my head. I also feel faintish at times but this lasts for about three to four seconds. I do not actually faint but feel as if I am about to; this feeling settles down afterwards. I have also started developing occasional chest pains where I feel pain shooting up my chest. Sometimes I feel the pain on the left side and sometimes on the right. These symptoms usually last for a couple of seconds and then they go away. But since I have been getting them quite frequently, I have started to worry. I started noticing these symptoms over a week ago and have not felt them before. I wanted to know if this could be a heart attack, a stroke or gastritis or if there could be any kind of link between the symptoms
- (Madara Jayasinghe from Dehiwala).  
Answer: It is very unlikely that you are having a heart attack or a stroke. The dizziness could be vertigo, which is an imbalance in the middle ear. The chest pains are unrelated to this. You need medical attention however and it is advisable to visit your family doctor first. Chest pains can be related to many things, there’s not enough information to make a definite diagnosis. Since it doesn’t sound cardio-related, it could be muscular pains or even neck pain. Considering your age, it is highly unlikely to be a heart problem but it definitely warrants investigation. At your age, a stroke is not common and there should be more symptoms if this were the case. Unless you have a family history of strokes it’s unlikely that you would be diagnosed with one. There are many risk factors such as having a predisposition to blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, which are very unlikely at your age. It could be gastritis but all this could also indicate an acid reflux. When you have acid reflux, you suffer from heartburn, belching and burping.   

The reason you are experiencing these symptoms so suddenly could be due to stress from factors such as changing your job. If not, they could be related to family issues, diet and lifestyle changes that trigger these symptoms. You could also be suffering from migraines, which are common at your age. Although it may not be very serious, you should definitely see a general physician and get medical attention.

When Mahinda found second page of his speech missing

When Mahinda found second page of his speech missing

Jun 23, 2017

Ex-president, MP Mahinda Rajapaksa gave a very meaningful speech during his ongoing visit to Pakistan, his media unit said yesterday. That was said to be a significant statement, and the Pakistanis had well received it with rounds of applause.

Seeing that, a colleague of ours recounted an old story. It happened four to five years ago. The then president Mahinda Rajapaksa was the chief guest at the annual awards ceremony organized by the leading business magazine Business Today. On the previous day, his script writer Dr. Sunimal Fernando wrote the speech, got it typed and handed the copy to Mahinda Rajapaksa, saying, “Aney Sir. This is unlike any other speeches. This is attended by the best businessmen in the country. Therefore, read this at least once now. Or else, a big disgrace will happen.” “Hari, Hari, Ban,” so saying, Mahinda Rajapaksa folded it and put it into a file.
The following day, he readied himself for the occasion, looked for and found the speech, put it into his pocket and left for the ceremony. After the chief guest was invited to deliver his speech, he took the document he was given and started reading it. After finishing the first page, he could not find the second and only the third was there. Without troubling himself, he carried on with the third page. Those in the audience looked at each other in askance. Without taking any note of them, Mahinda Rajapaksa finished his speech and sat down. But, no one asked if any page was missing.
Before the media asked him, Mahinda told them, “See, I say, what has happened. Our Dr. Sunimal last night gave me the speech. I was sleepy. I did not look and just put it into a file. The man has forgotten the second page. I was shamed.” And, he placed the blame for his mistake on his script writer. Later, the organizers found the missing page and published his entire speech in the next issue of the magazine.

Cap on credit card interest rates removed to curb personal loans

Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy (L) addressing the media while Deputy Governor Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe looks on.Pic by Sujatha Jayaratne. 

By Hiran H.Senewiratne- 

The Central Bank has issued a directive to all commercial banks to the effect that the cap on credit card interest rates should be removed and instructed them to charge competitive interest rates with effect from June 26. The reason being to discourage the number of personal loans, Central Bank Governor Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

"All commercial banks could  charge a competitive interest rate on credit cards  to discourage unproductive short term personal loans or lending , which have increased during the recent past, Dr Coomaraswamy said at the monthly monetary policy review meeting held at the Central Bank auditorium yesterday.

He said that personal loans are most of time being used for consumption and not help reap any economic benefits. Therefore, the Central Bank has issued a directive to all commercial banks to charge competitive interest rates on credit cards.

'The total credit card debt is 3 percent to 4 percent of the GDP, which is a very high amount. These are mainly personal loans, he said.

The Governor also said that the country's macro economic fundamentals are strong; the government's fiscal consolidation is on track and the CBSL will maintain a monetary policy to sustain economic development.

"This is in line with the government's road map. It would  enabled to reduce inflation, stabilize interest rates in the country in the future due to all economic fundamentals being on track, he said

He also said that the country's foreign reserves amount to US$ 7 billion and are expected to increase to US$ 7.2 billion before the end of the year."However, those foreign reserves are borrowed funds."

Further, Sri Lanka kept rates unchanged in June, but the Central Bank raised a red flag on rising borrowings by state-owned enterprises, although central government revenues were improving.

Sri Lanka's economy grew 3.8 percent in the first quarter, with bad weather hurting agriculture and electricity generation."Growth in the first quarter was weighed down by the impact of unfavourable weather conditions, particularly on agriculture-related activities, he said.

"The performance of industry-related activities was largely driven by the continued expansion in construction, while services-related activities recorded moderate growth. The economy is expected to recover during the second half of the year."

"The recent expansion in credit obtained by state-owned business enterprises poses a risk to the behaviour of overall domestic credit, reflecting the need to address concerns in relation to the financial performance of key SOEs, the Central Bank said in its June monetary policy statement.

Credit to SOEs rose to Rs. 557 billion in April 2017 from Rs. 495 billion in December 2016 as oil prices rose and a drought forced more thermal generation of electricity, reversing a trend of a net payback in loans seen up to the third quarter of 2016.However, since May, oil prices have begun to ease, though they remain at much higher levels than in 2016.Sri Lanka is still gripped by a drought and does not have a mechanism to adjust energy prices. The lack of a price formula for fuel and the frequent adjustment of electricity prices pose threats to the credit system, the economy and the exchange rate, economists have pointed out.However, private credit was slowing now, and better revenue collection was also helping reduce central government borrowing."The growth of credit to the private sector continued to decelerate gradually, the Central Bank said.

Further deceleration in growth of credit to the private sector is anticipated, given the prevailing high nominal and real lending rates in the market."As the impact of the revisions to the tax structure and weather-related supply disruptions are expected to dissipate in the period ahead, inflation is projected to moderate to mid-single digits by the end of 2017, and stabilise thereafter," the Central Bank said.

IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara arrested

IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara arrested

logoBy Yusuf Ariff-June 23, 2017
The Convener of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF), Lahiru Weerasekara, has been arrested by police, Ada Derana reporter said. 
He was arrested while leaving a press conference held today (23) at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) at Deans Road, Maradana.
The IUSF Convener was reportedly arrested in connection with the incident at the Health Ministry on Wednesday (21).
A large number of university students, during a protest against SAITM, had forcibly entered the ministry premises and caused damages to public property. 
Convener of the Inter-University Bhikku Action Committee, Ven. Tempitiye Sugathananda Thero, was also arrested and remanded yesterday in connection with the incident. 
UPDATE (2.51pm) : IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara has been remanded till July 05 after being produced at court.