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LATEST POSTS

Complex Psychology Of Terrorism

Cover Story
H G S Prematunge
The Easter Bombings that left 253 people dead and at least 500 others injured, is making psychological ripple effects, with sporadic incidents of violence reported from areas such as Negombo, Chilaw, Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya and Dummalasuriya, intermittent banning of social media and a call to boycotting Muslim business establishments. Counterpoint spoke to an expert on the psychological impact of a tragedy of national scale. And who is better to talk about armed conflict and its psychological repercussions than a person who has been in the thick ...Continued

Political Shock Waves Of Easter Blasts

Politics
Vishvanath
One of the main allegations the leaders of the Rajapaksa dispensation levelled against their political enemies in the present administration was that the latter would endanger national security and the country would be plagued with terrorism again. They may have expected the LTTE to raise its head again and wreak havoc, but terror attacks came from the least expected quarters. But the government stands accused of having compromised national security and failed to prevent terror strikes. The government finds itself in an unenviable position. The ...Continued

Can Poaching Of Wild Animals Ever Be Contained?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana & Aanya Wipulasena
Poaching of wild animals is a lucrative business. With a kilo of fresh game meat going at anything between Rs. 400 to 800, and dried meat for about Rs. 1500 a kilo, it is not surprising that wildlife officials are hard put to successfully fight this illegal trade. Moreover, despite Sri Lanka’s supposed adherence to teachings that invoke non-violence towards all beings, illegal killing of wild animals continues unabated because there is a market for Big Game, from both area locals and visitors.  Several people ...Continued

‘A Legend In Green Blazer’

Columns
Spectator
Watching the national cricket team being massacred at the Cricket Club of India in Bombay by the hosts was one of the toughest things the spectator has experienced on a cricket field. On day one, a 22-year-old Angelo Mathews was run out on 99. Then Virender Sehwag demolished the attack scoring 284 runs in less than a day. It was carnage as India went on to declare on day three having reached 726 for nine.  The Sri Lankans were getting a taste of their own medicine. ...Continued

Are Our Schools Really Safe?

Columns
H G S PREMATUNGE
Security is an integral part of education, and instability and violence pose a direct threat to a child’s right to education. The prevailing bomb scare, resulting from the Easter bombings is a case in point; schools have been out for over two weeks to all intents and purposes. The second school term was to commence on April 22, but was delayed by two weeks following the Easter terrorist attack on April 21. Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has requested all Catholic schools to be ...Continued

Counting The Dead – Has Sri Lanka Risen To The...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Russian dictator Joseph Stalin’s “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” is usually met with ill-feeling and sarcasm by the civilized society.  How bitter as the undertone may be, this hyperbole will continue to hold water as long as human lives are lost in large numbers in gruesome and startling ways. It is unimaginable how calamities strike people in a split second, making them just sitting ducks, helpless and hapless. This phenomenon continues despite all the advances in science and ...Continued

‘Indo-Pacific’ As A Happy Hunting Ground Of The Big Powers

Columns
Dissector
Former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake was in Colombo recently at the invitation of the Path Finder Foundation and the Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka for the purpose of delivering a lecture in the latest of a series of seminars launched by these organizations on international developments of relevance to Sri Lanka and the region. What he had to say was most revealing in parts and proved food-for-thought material. Among other things, the presentation reminded the more seasoned observers that the ...Continued

Sri Lanka’s War On Drugs – III

Columns
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
Politics and drug trade are inseparable, and dependent on each other like the hermit crab and the sea anemone. This symbiotic relationship has made it extremely difficult to remove the scourge of narcotics, especially in the developing world, where lawgivers are a law unto themselves. Sri Lanka’s experience is a case in point. In Oct. 2005, the then Chandrika Kumaratunga government drew a lot of flak when it appointed a notorious drug dealer, known as Kudu Lal, a Justice of the Peace (JP) so much ...Continued

Education As Means Of Conflict Resolution

Cover Story
H G S Prematunge
The Easter bombings, on April 21, left 253 people dead and at least 500 injured. Speculation is rife that the savage attacks were in retaliation for the recent massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand or the ISIS’s loss of its stronghold in Syria. Conspiracy theories also abound. But one thing is clear; the attackers were driven by religious fanaticism. Keeping religion out of the affairs of the State has become a major challenge and many feel the first step towards achieving this end is ...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

Complex Psychology Of Terrorism

Cover Story
H G S Prematunge
The Easter Bombings that left 253 people dead and at least 500 others injured, is making psychological ripple effects, with sporadic incidents of violence reported from areas such as Negombo, Chilaw, Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya and Dummalasuriya, intermittent banning of social media and a call to boycotting Muslim business establishments. Counterpoint spoke to an expert on the psychological impact of a tragedy of national scale. And who is better to talk about armed conflict and its psychological repercussions than a person who has been in the thick ...Continued

Education As Means Of Conflict Resolution

Cover Story
H G S Prematunge
The Easter bombings, on April 21, left 253 people dead and at least 500 injured. Speculation is rife that the savage attacks were in retaliation for the recent massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand or the ISIS’s loss of its stronghold in Syria. Conspiracy theories also abound. But one thing is clear; the attackers were driven by religious fanaticism. Keeping religion out of the affairs of the State has become a major challenge and many feel the first step towards achieving this end is ...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

Political Shock Waves Of Easter Blasts

Politics
Vishvanath
One of the main allegations the leaders of the Rajapaksa dispensation levelled against their political enemies in the present administration was that the latter would endanger national security and the country would be plagued with terrorism again. They may have expected the LTTE to raise its head again and wreak havoc, but terror attacks came from the least expected quarters. But the government stands accused of having compromised national security and failed to prevent terror strikes. The government finds itself in an unenviable position. The ...Continued

Back To Blasts

Politics
Vishvanath
Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. But this is not true of Sri Lanka, where a group of terrorists carried out suicide attacks in churches and hotels, on 21 April, snuffing out more than 250 lives and injuring about 500 others. That the government had received an intelligence warning days ahead of the Easter Sunday attacks, but no action was taken to protect the public is now only too well known. Minister Harin Fernando admitted in the immediate aftermath of the attacks that he ...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

Can Poaching Of Wild Animals Ever Be Contained?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana & Aanya Wipulasena
Poaching of wild animals is a lucrative business. With a kilo of fresh game meat going at anything between Rs. 400 to 800, and dried meat for about Rs. 1500 a kilo, it is not surprising that wildlife officials are hard put to successfully fight this illegal trade. Moreover, despite Sri Lanka’s supposed adherence to teachings that invoke non-violence towards all beings, illegal killing of wild animals continues unabated because there is a market for Big Game, from both area locals and visitors.  Several people ...Continued

‘A Legend In Green Blazer’

Columns
Spectator
Watching the national cricket team being massacred at the Cricket Club of India in Bombay by the hosts was one of the toughest things the spectator has experienced on a cricket field. On day one, a 22-year-old Angelo Mathews was run out on 99. Then Virender Sehwag demolished the attack scoring 284 runs in less than a day. It was carnage as India went on to declare on day three having reached 726 for nine.  The Sri Lankans were getting a taste of their own medicine. ...Continued

Are Our Schools Really Safe?

Columns
H G S PREMATUNGE
Security is an integral part of education, and instability and violence pose a direct threat to a child’s right to education. The prevailing bomb scare, resulting from the Easter bombings is a case in point; schools have been out for over two weeks to all intents and purposes. The second school term was to commence on April 22, but was delayed by two weeks following the Easter terrorist attack on April 21. Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has requested all Catholic schools to be ...Continued

Counting The Dead – Has Sri Lanka Risen To The...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Russian dictator Joseph Stalin’s “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” is usually met with ill-feeling and sarcasm by the civilized society.  How bitter as the undertone may be, this hyperbole will continue to hold water as long as human lives are lost in large numbers in gruesome and startling ways. It is unimaginable how calamities strike people in a split second, making them just sitting ducks, helpless and hapless. This phenomenon continues despite all the advances in science and ...Continued

‘Indo-Pacific’ As A Happy Hunting Ground Of The Big Powers

Columns
Dissector
Former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake was in Colombo recently at the invitation of the Path Finder Foundation and the Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka for the purpose of delivering a lecture in the latest of a series of seminars launched by these organizations on international developments of relevance to Sri Lanka and the region. What he had to say was most revealing in parts and proved food-for-thought material. Among other things, the presentation reminded the more seasoned observers that the ...Continued

Sri Lanka’s War On Drugs – III

Columns
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
Politics and drug trade are inseparable, and dependent on each other like the hermit crab and the sea anemone. This symbiotic relationship has made it extremely difficult to remove the scourge of narcotics, especially in the developing world, where lawgivers are a law unto themselves. Sri Lanka’s experience is a case in point. In Oct. 2005, the then Chandrika Kumaratunga government drew a lot of flak when it appointed a notorious drug dealer, known as Kudu Lal, a Justice of the Peace (JP) so much ...Continued

Displaced Refugees – A Failure To Protect

Columns
Anupama Ranawana
Another group of people have become collateral damage of the waves of anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka following the April 21st, Easter Sunday carnage. They are refugees and asylum seekers and the challenge they face now is a culmination of a growing global environment that is hostile to refugees, the limited ground presence of the UNHCR, as well as the dysfunction of the Sri Lankan government. However, the most pressing issue at the moment is one of law and order, of protecting the refugees, thus ...Continued

The Easter Sunday Attacks And The Human Security Question

Columns
Dissector
As should be expected, it is the human costs of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka that are engaging the attention of the world and this is likely to be so for a long time to come. It is the sheer inhumanity and brute insensitivity of the attacks that are leaving people everywhere dumbfounded and the irony is that this could be an eye-opener of sorts in the cloud of depression currently hanging over Sri Lanka. This is because our minds are being ...Continued

Will The Move Towards Renewable Energy Be Tripped Again?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In March this year Cabinet approved a proposal by the Minister of Power, Energy and Business Development Ravi Karunanayake to amend the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009. The amendment seeks to exempt Non –Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) projects from having to follow the tendering process, which often could take up to 2 years. Approvals and actual implementation of the projects usually take a further 2 to 3 years. In fact, Act No.20 of 2009 had been amended through Act No 31 of ...Continued

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

COLUMN OF THE WEEK

Can Poaching Of Wild Animals Ever Be Contained?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana & Aanya Wipulasena

Poaching of wild animals is a lucrative business. With a kilo of fresh game meat going at anything between Rs. 400 to 800, and dried meat for about Rs. 1500 a kilo, it is not surprising that wildlife officials are hard put to successfully fight this illegal trade. Moreover, despite Sri Lanka’s supposed adherence to teachings that invoke non-violence towards all beings, illegal killing of wild animals continues unabated because there is a market for Big Game, from both area locals and visitors.  Several people ...Continued

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