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LATEST POSTS

Sri Lanka’s War On Drugs

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
The recent destruction by the police of a massive consignment of cocaine weighing as much as 769 kilos in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena himself and some judicial and police officers, in Kelaniya, must have warmed the cockles of many a heart; parents worrying about the future of their children must have heaved a sigh of relief on watching that event on television, on April 01. It is heartening that the police including the elite Special Task Force (STF), the armed forces and the ...Continued

Gota Returns, But His Problems Remain

Politics
Vishvanath
The National Election Commission (NEC), which is under fire for the inordinate delay in conducting the Provincial Council (PC) elections, has made a last ditch attempt to bring pressure to bear on the government leaders to clear the legal barriers in its path. It has written to President Maithripala Sirisena, urging him to call for the report that a five-member committee, tasked with reviewing the National Delimitation Committee (NDRC) report, which was rejected by Parliament, last year, and gazette it without further delay. The NEC, ...Continued

WikiLeaks Gave Full Meaning To The Right To Information

Columns
Dissector
In future, a country’s democratic advancement would need to be measured in terms of the value the states and societies concerned attach to the ‘WikiLeaks revolution’. While the possibility is that the merits and demerits of the methods used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to divulge the truth may dominate discussion and debate the world over following his recent arrest in London, there is no denying that his approach to keeping the world informed gave substantial meaning to the Right to Information. Needless to say, ...Continued

Gender Dynamics In Sri Lankan Education System

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
Sri Lanka is recognised as the only South Asian country that has achieved the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal for gender equality in education across the board. Yet again, free education and making primary education compulsory maybe the major reasons for this gender balance. Although the Sri Lankan education system has been successful in closing the gender gap with regards to education accessibility, this does not translates to employment rates. With the majority of unemployed females produced from the Arts streams of local universities, it ...Continued

When A Bunch Of Amateurs Created Cricket’s Greatest Upset

Columns
Spectator
During an event in Bombay to celebrate India’s World Cup triumph in 1983, opening batsman Krishnamachari Srikkanth recalled thinking his captain Kapil Dev had gone mad when he told the team to believe in themselves that they could beat West Indies in the World Cup. “Before the 1983 World Cup, India had played in two World Cups and had won just one game. In 1979, India incidentally lost to a team called Sri Lanka, who were not even a full member of the ICC at ...Continued

CEB And Power Shortage: A Dark Vision Of The Future

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
While the nation baked under an unrelenting sun and endured unscheduled power cuts that negatively impacted the economy, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has been dragging its feet on implementing a scheme that would have prevented power cuts and been more financially prudent. In September 2018, the Cabinet approved a memorandum prepared earlier that year by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister for National Policy and Economic Affairs, proposing that stand- by generators owned by government institutions be harnessed to boost ...Continued

The Polluter Pays!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In a landmark decision on April 4 this year, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka awarded Rs. 20 million as damages to the people living within a 1.5 kilometre distance of the Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd, (NPC) in Chunnakam.  The monetary consideration will benefit around 500 families, who will receive Rs. 40,000 each, to clean and rehabilitate their wells, which have been polluted by oil, grease and/or BTEX. (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene). For environmentalist Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, the National Coordinator of the ...Continued

A Triumph Of Environmental Activism

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
“The most striking feature of this entire battle was the unyielding solidarity the people (in Chunnakam) showed till the end. They were united as one, and their unity was unwavering”, Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, Director of the Colombo based Center for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS), who led the Chunnakam battle from the front quipped with intense satisfaction. Kariyawasam was the sole petitioner of this public interest litigation (PIL) case on behalf of the residents of Chunnakam. Attorneys-at-law Nuwan Bopage and Chathura Wettasinghe argued the case ...Continued

Illicit Firearms Chipping Away At The State

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
EVOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM The proliferation of illicit arms in Sri Lanka worsened due to the over-militarisation of the state following three armed conflicts, two in the South and a protracted one in the North and the East.  The country witnessed the first post-Independence bloodbath in 1971, when the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) took up arms against the state in what turned out to be an abortive revolt. It had a ceremonial army at that time. Needless to say the police were not prepared for ...Continued

The Criminal Mental and Physical Abuse in Our Universities Has...

Exposé
Aanya Wipulasena and Kshama Ranawana
You find them along pavements or near markets or even on trains, till in hand, raising funds to assist undergraduates and other students who cannot afford to even purchase an exercise book. However, the monies thus collected don’t actually go towards the purpose they tell you about, rather, it’s a ruse to raise money to build “thoran” (pandals) or even rent places to rag new batches of university students. For instance, one such Thorana had cost nearly Rs. 7 lakhs, a source who wished to ...Continued

Though Banned, Corporal Punishment Is Practiced Across Schools

Exposé
Kshama Ranawana
Around March this year, some parents of students of Royal College Primary contacted the Ministry of Education regarding certain abusive situations their children were being subjected to in school.    They were reaching out to the Ministry out of sheer frustration as no corrective action had been taken by the school authorities. Amongst the cases they highlighted was of a Grade 5 student who was injured when a musical instrument was thrown at him by one of the teachers.  The injury which damaged some nerves resulted ...Continued

Newspaper Circulation Figures, A Big Lie

Exposé
For the average reader, circulation or readership figures of newspapers or magazines are irrelevant.  For them, what matters most is content.  However, for those who must market the multitude of consumer goods, educational establishments, and whatever else needs promoted, circulation and readership numbers are critical. An industry that is supposed to report the truth has been living a lie for decades and have got away with it because neither the advertising industry nor the advertisers have joined together to demand for audited circulation numbers. In ...Continued

Ceylon Electricity Board Pays Billions To Private Power Suppliers Illegally...

Exposé
For the Deputy General Manager Energy Purchases of the Ceylon Electricity Board, (CEB) it is an interdiction order for his efforts to follow procedure and minimise unnecessary expenses.  For Aitken Spence, the parent company of Ace Power Embilipitya (Pvt.) it is a windfall that will boost its revenue in billions of rupees. Deputy General Manager, Energy Purchases, Sujeewa Abeywickrama was interdicted on July 2, 2018. The charges against him ranged from not carrying out assigned duties, not following directions given by the General Manager, to ...Continued

Sri Lanka’s War On Drugs

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
The recent destruction by the police of a massive consignment of cocaine weighing as much as 769 kilos in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena himself and some judicial and police officers, in Kelaniya, must have warmed the cockles of many a heart; parents worrying about the future of their children must have heaved a sigh of relief on watching that event on television, on April 01. It is heartening that the police including the elite Special Task Force (STF), the armed forces and the ...Continued

Illicit Firearms Chipping Away At The State

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
EVOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM The proliferation of illicit arms in Sri Lanka worsened due to the over-militarisation of the state following three armed conflicts, two in the South and a protracted one in the North and the East.  The country witnessed the first post-Independence bloodbath in 1971, when the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) took up arms against the state in what turned out to be an abortive revolt. It had a ceremonial army at that time. Needless to say the police were not prepared for ...Continued

Illicit firearms chipping away at the State – 2

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
The danger of firearms in the wrong hands became evident, last Friday, when a lone gunman mowed down 50 persons in a mosque and left many others injured in Christ Church, New Zealand. Armed with an automatic weapon, he carried out the barbaric attack, which he livestreamed, much to the horror of the civilized world. The massacre has jolted New Zealand into reviewing its gun policy. Most of the Sri Lanka Police crime busters, interviewed by Counterpoint, were of the opinion that the available information ...Continued

Illicit Firearms Chipping Away At The State

Cover Story
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath (08/03/2019)
The proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is a global phenomenon, threatening the whole of the human race. Hardly any country has been able to neutralise this threat effectively. The Small Arms Survey (SAS), an international watchdog outfit, has revealed there are more than one billion small arms spread across the world, which has a population of about 7.6 billion; and 85% of these lethal weapons are believed to be in civilian hands. Not that all these arms are used for illegal purposes, ...Continued

Clearing The Way For Bio-piracy

Cover Story
Dr. Prasanna Cooray (22/02/2019)
There have been presidential commissions to probe the alleged abuse of state assets and cases have been filed against the offenders under the Offences against Public Property Act—and rightly so. But, sadly, acts of bio-piracy, which cause huge losses to the country, have gone almost unnoticed. The public does not seem sufficiently informed of the value of the country’s biological assets which are being plundered. Close on the heels of a disastrous road building project near the Kudawa entrance of Sinharaja rainforest, which we reported ...Continued

The Cup That Hardly Cheers

Cover Story
Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
The plantation sector in the country continues to take a beating, and it’s not merely because of the Rs. 1,000 per day wage hike demanded by the workers. Counterpoint learns that political interference, incompetency, corrupt practices, shortage of human resources, restrictions placed by the State and inefficiency are acting as a stranglehold on the plantation sector despite privatization of most estates in 1992. The once thriving Tea industry, for which Sri Lanka has been known the world over, has now slipped to the fourth place ...Continued

Complete Overhaul Of Education The Answer

Cover Story
Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
There are 55,000 graduates without employment, according to the Convener of the National Centre for Graduates, Chandana Sooriyaarachchi.  He told Counterpoint that 5,000 out of 60,000 unemployed graduates had been recruited by the government as Development Officers, and the others were awaiting training and jobs in the public sector. Counterpoint sought answers to this phenomenon of local graduates waiting for years after graduation to find employment.  Are they unemployable or are they interested in only obtaining government jobs?  Is the private sector shunning them, and ...Continued

When Religiosity And Savagery Reside Cheek By Jowl

Cover Story
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Gandhi The brutal killing of Charlie, a Labrador in Negombo, sent shock waves throughout the country. The New Year dawned with unbearable suffering for Charlie, which was set ablaze; it died a painful death the following day. A suspect was arrested and produced before the magistrate. The police have framed charges against him under the Penal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Ordinance. He was released ...Continued

Yin And Yang Of Parliamentary Politics

Cover Story
Vishvanath
The public focus has shifted from the government to the Opposition. The sudden change of government on 26 Oct. gave rise to a public debate on the legitimacy or otherwise of the new government. The issue has now been sorted out. However, as we have argued in this space previously, the political crisis has a multifactorial etiology and a judicial remedy alone won’t help resolve it. The Executive President and the Prime Minister are still at loggerheads and the new government has got off to ...Continued

Gota Returns, But His Problems Remain

Politics
Vishvanath
The National Election Commission (NEC), which is under fire for the inordinate delay in conducting the Provincial Council (PC) elections, has made a last ditch attempt to bring pressure to bear on the government leaders to clear the legal barriers in its path. It has written to President Maithripala Sirisena, urging him to call for the report that a five-member committee, tasked with reviewing the National Delimitation Committee (NDRC) report, which was rejected by Parliament, last year, and gazette it without further delay. The NEC, ...Continued

End of SLPP-SLFP Honeymoon and TNA’s Elephantine Dilemma

Politics
Vishvanath
President Maithripala Sirisena and his immediate predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa are busy ruining things for themselves, in politics, albeit unknowingly. Their parties, the SLFP and the SLPP, are set to pit themselves against each other, at the next presidential election. They are already on a collision course. The Rajapaksa family wants one of its members to run for President, and Gotabaya has already thrown his hat into the ring. It is a case of Hobson’s choice for other family members. President Sirisena has been conducting his ...Continued

SLPP’s Woes, UNP’s Ploy And Geneva Volte-face

Politics
Vishvanath
The SLPP has failed to maintain the momentum it gained, early last year, when it scored a stunning win at the local government polls. Its spectacular electoral performance sent shockwaves through the government so much so that President Maithripala Sirisena opted for a honeymoon with it in a bid to arrest the erosion of the SLFP’s vote bank. The abortive power grab in October last year, the subsequent developments and the deplorable conduct of some Joint Opposition (JO) MPs in Parliament, where they fought a ...Continued

Govt.’s Election Budget And Gota’s Pincer Movement

Politics
Vishvanath (08/03/2019)
Never a dull moment in Sri Lanka! In a dramatic turn of events replete with irony, National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa has threatened to break ranks with Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa if the latter supports the JVP’s move to abolish the executive presidency. Weerawansa left the JVP and threw in his lot with President Rajapaksa during the war; the JVP and Rajapaksa, whose downfall it helped the UNP-led alliance engineer, are today on the same page much to the consternation Weerawansa, where the ...Continued

Now, Mahinda Wants Executive Presidency Abolished

Politics
Vishvanath (22/02/2019)
The bane of this country has been its preoccupation with partisan politics. The state of the economy and the Sena pest, which has eaten into the vitals of the rural economy, are now forgotten, to all intents and purposes. Everybody is talking about the next presidential election, which is about nine months away. The long overdue provincial council elections have also got eclipsed. Move to abolish the executive presidency Opposition Leader and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa finds himself in a tight spot. The Sri Lanka ...Continued

National Government And Other Wedge Issues

Politics
Vishvanath
The government said on Wednesday that it would present a motion to Parliament that day for forming a national government. The Opposition let out a howl of protest. The motion was not submitted as stated. The government apparently got cold feet. However, its plan is far from abandoned. There is no way the UNF can form a national government in the constitutionally prescribed manner without securing the support of at least two parties represented in Parliament. The Constitution has clearly defined the national government: ‘National ...Continued

Battle Lines Drawn, Big Guns Primed

Politics
Vishvanath
Promises are said to be like babies—easy to make but hard to deliver. This adage may explain the government’s predicament as regards the constitution-making process, which it has had to accelerate, at the behest of the TNA. It is also under pressure to let the TNA have a say in the development drive to be launched in the North and the East, according to media reports. The TNA is making the most of the UNF administration’s dependence on it for survival. The government is on ...Continued

TNA’s Pound Of Flesh, UNP’s Woes And UPFA’s Dilemma

Politics
Vishvanath
The UNP finds itself between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is dependent on the TNA to control Parliament, where it lacks a working majority, and fulfilling the TNA’s conditions is likely to cost it dear in terms of votes in the southern electorate. The TNA’s attempt to retain the post of the Opposition Leader, while propping up the government, has failed; the Speaker has reiterated his position that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the Opposition Leader. Having enabled the UNP to regain ...Continued

Political Double Bill And Glimmer Of Hope

Politics
Vishvanath
We are watching a protracted polls drought straggle to an end. An election year is about to dawn. Political parties are apparently limbering up for electoral contests if their reorganizing attempts are anything to go by. President Maithripala Sirisena has asked SLFP electoral organisers to gird up their loins. The UNP has also called upon its organisers to get ready for elections. If the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena had gone unchallenged, there would have been a general election early next month. As ...Continued

WikiLeaks Gave Full Meaning To The Right To Information

Columns
Dissector
In future, a country’s democratic advancement would need to be measured in terms of the value the states and societies concerned attach to the ‘WikiLeaks revolution’. While the possibility is that the merits and demerits of the methods used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to divulge the truth may dominate discussion and debate the world over following his recent arrest in London, there is no denying that his approach to keeping the world informed gave substantial meaning to the Right to Information. Needless to say, ...Continued

Gender Dynamics In Sri Lankan Education System

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
Sri Lanka is recognised as the only South Asian country that has achieved the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal for gender equality in education across the board. Yet again, free education and making primary education compulsory maybe the major reasons for this gender balance. Although the Sri Lankan education system has been successful in closing the gender gap with regards to education accessibility, this does not translates to employment rates. With the majority of unemployed females produced from the Arts streams of local universities, it ...Continued

When A Bunch Of Amateurs Created Cricket’s Greatest Upset

Columns
Spectator
During an event in Bombay to celebrate India’s World Cup triumph in 1983, opening batsman Krishnamachari Srikkanth recalled thinking his captain Kapil Dev had gone mad when he told the team to believe in themselves that they could beat West Indies in the World Cup. “Before the 1983 World Cup, India had played in two World Cups and had won just one game. In 1979, India incidentally lost to a team called Sri Lanka, who were not even a full member of the ICC at ...Continued

CEB And Power Shortage: A Dark Vision Of The Future

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
While the nation baked under an unrelenting sun and endured unscheduled power cuts that negatively impacted the economy, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has been dragging its feet on implementing a scheme that would have prevented power cuts and been more financially prudent. In September 2018, the Cabinet approved a memorandum prepared earlier that year by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister for National Policy and Economic Affairs, proposing that stand- by generators owned by government institutions be harnessed to boost ...Continued

The Polluter Pays!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In a landmark decision on April 4 this year, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka awarded Rs. 20 million as damages to the people living within a 1.5 kilometre distance of the Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd, (NPC) in Chunnakam.  The monetary consideration will benefit around 500 families, who will receive Rs. 40,000 each, to clean and rehabilitate their wells, which have been polluted by oil, grease and/or BTEX. (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene). For environmentalist Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, the National Coordinator of the ...Continued

A Triumph Of Environmental Activism

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
“The most striking feature of this entire battle was the unyielding solidarity the people (in Chunnakam) showed till the end. They were united as one, and their unity was unwavering”, Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, Director of the Colombo based Center for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS), who led the Chunnakam battle from the front quipped with intense satisfaction. Kariyawasam was the sole petitioner of this public interest litigation (PIL) case on behalf of the residents of Chunnakam. Attorneys-at-law Nuwan Bopage and Chathura Wettasinghe argued the case ...Continued

Food or Education, Take Your Pick

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
In the previous issue, the many matters that plague the Sri Lankan education system were discussed. Among the major issues that adversely affect the education system are the failure of the system to cater to labour market demands, inability of universities to meet tertiary education demand, brain drain and limited government expenditure on education. Rigorous examination process and high competition for the higher education, disparity of access to quality education, unequal distribution of resources between urban and rural schools, poor performance in mathematics and science ...Continued

Death Due To Ragging- Punish The Culprits

Columns
Prof. O. A. Illeperuma
This week, a student at the Institute of technology, University of Moratuwa at Homagama committed suicide because of the mental and physical harassment during ragging he received at this Institute. This student had earlier been at the University of Jaffna where he was continuously beaten up for nearly six months and he was transferred to the Homagama Institute. There too, he was severely beaten up for several weeks and when he could not take it any longer, he decided to take his life. Who is ...Continued

The President, Elections and the Politics of the Tripitaka

Columns
Sasanka Perera
Out of the blues, President Maithripala Sirisena has decided, apparently all by himself, that the Tripitaka, the sacred scriptures of Theravada Buddhists must be declared a ‘national heritage.’  To his credit, he has already done this in January this year.  After all, what was needed was a presidential decree and tax-payers’ money to make this declaration somewhat celebratory in a visual sense at the ‘national’ level. Hence, the recent Tripitaka Week enforced on all government entities.  Along with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, the President ...Continued

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

COLUMN OF THE WEEK

The Polluter Pays!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana

In a landmark decision on April 4 this year, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka awarded Rs. 20 million as damages to the people living within a 1.5 kilometre distance of the Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd, (NPC) in Chunnakam.  The monetary consideration will benefit around 500 families, who will receive Rs. 40,000 each, to clean and rehabilitate their wells, which have been polluted by oil, grease and/or BTEX. (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene). For environmentalist Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, the National Coordinator of the ...Continued

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