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LATEST POSTS

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

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

Camera Trapping To Monitor Their Health

Columns
Chandima Fernando & Ravi Corea
Monitoring the health of free ranging wild animals is one of the toughest challenges for conservationists and wildlife managers.  If the animal is a highly mobile animal like the elephant, then, it is near impossible.  Unless the animal had been made immobile due to a debilitating wound or situation, to track an injured wild animal even with the slightest mobility is a daunting task. By serendipitous events we have found that remote cameras could be an effective technology to monitor injured elephants.  But the underlying ...Continued

Neil Perera – An Unsung Hero, An Untold Story

Columns
Spectator
Sunday (17) marked the 23rd Anniversary of Sri Lanka winning the ICC Cricket World Cup. The architects of the country’s biggest achievement in the sporting arena are all too known, but Neil Perera has remained an unsung hero. The same is true of most real heroes in Sri Lanka, where nobody sans self-marketing skills gets recognition. Perera was elected Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in 1991 with Tyronne Fernando as the President. During the Executive Committee’s first meeting at Maitland Place, Perera discussed with ...Continued

Continuing The Practice Of Living Beyond Means

Columns
Prof. Sirimevan Colombage
Budget 2019 themed “Enterprise Sri Lanka – Empowering the People and Nurturing the Poor” envisages to promote a new form of private sector free from the protectionist mindset that can operate efficiently in a rule-based system within a competitive market environment. Loan concessions and various other incentives are to be given to prospective entrepreneurs with a view to create an entrepreneurial society, particularly among the youth. Another programme highlighted in the Budget is the “Gamperaliya” scheme, which is meant for accelerating village development through infrastructure ...Continued

Social Media Declaration, A Timely Need

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Just over a year ago, social media faced a shut down in Sri Lanka.  The action, enforced by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), came in the wake of the violence that erupted in Digana, in the Kandy district between Sinhalese and Muslims.  While the incident that sparked the violence was not caused by social media, it was seen as the prime culprit in helping to spread rumours and misinformation. In less than a decade, social media has evolved to become the foremost communicator of information.  ...Continued

Of ‘Local Universities’ And ‘Foreign Universities’

Columns
Sasanka Perera
On the 12th of March 2019, after much delay, the Sri Lankan parliament finally approved the country’s budget.  Sri Lanka, with its cash-starved economy had been hobbling along since last year’s constitutional crisis. Though there were threats from the opposition of defeating the budget and toppling the regime, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera managed to secure a clear majority in support for his budget proposals, and ensure the survival of the regime he represents in the process.  As to be expected, since 2019 is an election ...Continued

‘Lone Wolf’ Terror And The ‘End of History’

Columns
Dissector
Not only was New Zealand’s taken-for-granted peace shattered but also popular theories about the evolution of history reduced to tatters when ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two New Zealand mosques a few days back and cold-bloodedly killed some 50 worshippers. Among other things, we are reminded that no country could be declared as absolutely safe from terror today. Tarrant joins Anders Behring Breivik of Norway as a contemporary ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist marked by ruthless efficiency of the most chilling kind. Breivik hit ...Continued

Demerits Of An Education System Stalling Development

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
(The third in a series of articles on education related issues) The Sri Lankan education system is not without merits. According to the World Bank collection of development indicators we have achieved universal primary education and gender parity, with 98.18 percent enrolment rate for males and 96.43 percent enrolment rate for females as at 2016. Sri Lanka has a Human Development Index value of 0.770, and ranked 76 out of 189 countries, in 2017, mainly due to our free education and health policy. In fact, ...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

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

An Anatomy Of The Crisis

Cover Story
Vishvanath
The much-awaited Supreme Court determination on the dissolution is now known.  What we are experiencing is history in the making. There are several schools of thought as regards the current crisis, which will not go away immediately. They do not agree on the causes of the conflict. President Maithripala Sirisena went on record, over the weekend, as saying that the Supreme Court decision would bring the crisis to an end. This, he said while others were arguing that the restoration of the status quo ante ...Continued

The Chair And The Mace

Cover Story
Vishavanath
‘Though inanimate, the Chair and the Mace represent something living …’ There seems to be no end in sight to the prevailing political crisis, which is eating into the vitals of our society. Bitter acrimony and thirst for power continue to frustrate attempts to resolve it. Developments on the political front have put the Speaker and the Mace centre stage, as never before. They have become the cynosure of all eyes. The Speaker usually maintains a low profile and his bailiwick is widely thought to ...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

Sirisena In A Scissor Hold?

Politics
Vishvanath
The Supreme Court (SC) verdict that the dissolution of Parliament is unconstitutional has sent President Maithripala Sirisena reeling. It is heartening that the judgment was unanimous. The President and appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been restrained by the Court of Appeal from functioning in his post, will have to make a major course correction. The UNP fired another shot across the bows of its rivals on Wednesday. It comfortably secured the passage of a motion, expressing the confidence of the majority of MPs ...Continued

The Day Of Judgement Draws Nearer …

Politics
Vishvanath
Parliament has been in gridlock for over one month with all parties to the political conflict remaining intransigent. The Speaker and the President have locked horns, with the former refusing to recognize the government the latter has appointed. The government is boycotting Parliament, claiming that the Speaker is acting in a partisan manner. Its wisdom stands questioned in that it is answerable to Parliament. President Sirisena has declared that he will never appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister again even if the UNP manages ...Continued

Camera Trapping To Monitor Their Health

Columns
Chandima Fernando & Ravi Corea
Monitoring the health of free ranging wild animals is one of the toughest challenges for conservationists and wildlife managers.  If the animal is a highly mobile animal like the elephant, then, it is near impossible.  Unless the animal had been made immobile due to a debilitating wound or situation, to track an injured wild animal even with the slightest mobility is a daunting task. By serendipitous events we have found that remote cameras could be an effective technology to monitor injured elephants.  But the underlying ...Continued

Neil Perera – An Unsung Hero, An Untold Story

Columns
Spectator
Sunday (17) marked the 23rd Anniversary of Sri Lanka winning the ICC Cricket World Cup. The architects of the country’s biggest achievement in the sporting arena are all too known, but Neil Perera has remained an unsung hero. The same is true of most real heroes in Sri Lanka, where nobody sans self-marketing skills gets recognition. Perera was elected Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in 1991 with Tyronne Fernando as the President. During the Executive Committee’s first meeting at Maitland Place, Perera discussed with ...Continued

Continuing The Practice Of Living Beyond Means

Columns
Prof. Sirimevan Colombage
Budget 2019 themed “Enterprise Sri Lanka – Empowering the People and Nurturing the Poor” envisages to promote a new form of private sector free from the protectionist mindset that can operate efficiently in a rule-based system within a competitive market environment. Loan concessions and various other incentives are to be given to prospective entrepreneurs with a view to create an entrepreneurial society, particularly among the youth. Another programme highlighted in the Budget is the “Gamperaliya” scheme, which is meant for accelerating village development through infrastructure ...Continued

Social Media Declaration, A Timely Need

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Just over a year ago, social media faced a shut down in Sri Lanka.  The action, enforced by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), came in the wake of the violence that erupted in Digana, in the Kandy district between Sinhalese and Muslims.  While the incident that sparked the violence was not caused by social media, it was seen as the prime culprit in helping to spread rumours and misinformation. In less than a decade, social media has evolved to become the foremost communicator of information.  ...Continued

Of ‘Local Universities’ And ‘Foreign Universities’

Columns
Sasanka Perera
On the 12th of March 2019, after much delay, the Sri Lankan parliament finally approved the country’s budget.  Sri Lanka, with its cash-starved economy had been hobbling along since last year’s constitutional crisis. Though there were threats from the opposition of defeating the budget and toppling the regime, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera managed to secure a clear majority in support for his budget proposals, and ensure the survival of the regime he represents in the process.  As to be expected, since 2019 is an election ...Continued

‘Lone Wolf’ Terror And The ‘End of History’

Columns
Dissector
Not only was New Zealand’s taken-for-granted peace shattered but also popular theories about the evolution of history reduced to tatters when ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two New Zealand mosques a few days back and cold-bloodedly killed some 50 worshippers. Among other things, we are reminded that no country could be declared as absolutely safe from terror today. Tarrant joins Anders Behring Breivik of Norway as a contemporary ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist marked by ruthless efficiency of the most chilling kind. Breivik hit ...Continued

Demerits Of An Education System Stalling Development

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
(The third in a series of articles on education related issues) The Sri Lankan education system is not without merits. According to the World Bank collection of development indicators we have achieved universal primary education and gender parity, with 98.18 percent enrolment rate for males and 96.43 percent enrolment rate for females as at 2016. Sri Lanka has a Human Development Index value of 0.770, and ranked 76 out of 189 countries, in 2017, mainly due to our free education and health policy. In fact, ...Continued

Save Sinharaja From The World Bank!

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
World Bank’s (WB) 2016 April report, titled, “International Development Association (IDA) Project Appraisal Document on Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project”, serves as the official document with regard to the ongoing ESCAMP project that stipulates the development of certain selected ecosystems including some protected areas (PA) in the country. The protected areas, identified in the report include Sinharaja, the only rainforest reserve in the country and a world heritage site and the Yala, Minneriya, Horton Plains and Uda Walawe national parks. Through this project the WB ...Continued

Untold Stories Of The Lahore Attack

Columns
Spectator (08/03/2019)
March 3rd marked the tenth anniversary of heavily armed gunmen opening fire on a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, Pakistan. Several policemen were killed in the attack, which left quite a few other law enforcement officers and members of some of the Sri Lankan squad and support staff injured. Two civilians were also seriously injured. What happened that day has been well documented but there are still untold stories. Suranga Lakmal, the lionhearted fast bowler, who has become Sri Lanka’s leading seamer was on ...Continued

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

COLUMN OF THE WEEK

Of ‘Local Universities’ And ‘Foreign Universities’

Columns
Sasanka Perera

On the 12th of March 2019, after much delay, the Sri Lankan parliament finally approved the country’s budget.  Sri Lanka, with its cash-starved economy had been hobbling along since last year’s constitutional crisis. Though there were threats from the opposition of defeating the budget and toppling the regime, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera managed to secure a clear majority in support for his budget proposals, and ensure the survival of the regime he represents in the process.  As to be expected, since 2019 is an election ...Continued

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