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LATEST POSTS

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

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

Of Bradman, Packer, Chappell And Waugh

Columns
Spectator in Australia
The greatest compliment Sri Lanka’s health service has ever received perhaps came from former Australian captain Steve Waugh. Barely a few weeks after becoming the World Champions, Waugh’s Australian side arrived in Sri Lanka for a seven-week tour that included a three-match Test series and a tri-nation limited overs competition also involving India. The Asgiriya Test match went to the wire with Sri Lanka eventually recording their first ever Test win over Australia. Attempting to take a catch off Mahela Jayawardene, Waugh and Jason Gillespie collided ...Continued

Religions For Responsible Governance Building Bridges

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
It was an unprecedented event; a Buddhist Monk apologizing, on television, to the war affected people of Sri Lanka in the North and East for any wrongs done to them by Buddhists. The Monk, the Ven. Galkande Dhammananda of the Walpola Rahula Institute was participating in a live TV discussion on Rupavahini on February 4, this year. Dhammananda Thero was one of four religious leaders who reflected on the role religions had played in post-independence Sri Lanka in this TV talk show. The others were ...Continued

The Urgent Need To Foster And Save Secularism

Columns
Dissector
Democracies are said to be thriving in the Asian region but most of them lack a strong secular foundation. This begs the question: Could they be identified as democracies in the truest sense? Opinion makers in Sri Lanka have tended to ignore this issue or have glossed over it. This has been the case since 1948, the year of ‘independence’. The time is ripe to face this question squarely as Sri Lanka ‘celebrates’ another anniversary of ‘independence’. This exercise is bound to trigger much contention ...Continued

The Rape Of A Virgin Forest

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Sinharaja, the only rainforest reserve in Sri Lanka, is in the news again. And this time around, a road building project has become the bone of contention. Young environmental activist, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reforms (MONLAR), who was in the thick of many battles fought on the Sinharaja front during the last two decades, gave a snapshot picture of the struggles that were to save Sinharaja. “There were many attempts to exploit and commercialize Sinharaja in the past. The attempts ...Continued

Brain Drain Or Brain Gain?

Columns
Srilal Miththapala
Introduction Much has been talked about Sri Lanka’s tourism boom and the impending Human resource shortfall that the industry will face.  Recently, a private sector initiative by You Lead (of the USAID) unveiled a practical and comprehensive road map to address some of these issues. (You Lead: Sri-Lanka-Tourism and Hospitality Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap-2018-2023) Although detailed numbers and assessments are difficult to be derived accurately due to the lack of proper information, it is generally accepted that about 100,000 extra direct staff at various levels will ...Continued

Artificial Reefs The Answer?

Columns
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan
The fishing dispute between the two countries, and the enduring sufferings of fisherpersons of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is the result of the failure of the Indian and Sri Lankan governments to fully implement the 1974 and 1976 maritime border agreements, as also, the failure of the Sri Lankan government to fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.   Introduction Sri Lanka’s northern provincial economy has been rising from the ashes of the civil war since 2010, and has, as per the ...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

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

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

Drifting From Crisis To Crisis

Cover Story
Vishvanath
The country continues to be in the throes of an unprecedented crisis with the executive and legislative branches of government clashing fiercely and the judiciary being tasked with deciding which one has acted in violation of the Constitution. There seems to be no end in sight to the intractable problem, which is both political and constitutional; it is also not without legal and ethical dimensions. The signs are that legal remedies won’t prove efficacious enough to help resolve the present conflict, which shows signs of ...Continued

A Plot Flattens A Government

Cover Story
Vishvanath
A pall of political uncertainty hangs over the country following the recent change of government. Newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is busy consolidating his position and the UNP is girding itself for the fray. Ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is not prepared to give in and the UNP is on the warpath. He put up a good show of strength on Tuesday, but the problem with protests is that they get forgotten in next to no time and issues that lead to them remain unsolved. ...Continued

Our Communication Industry, A Tool Of Crony Capitalism

Cover Story
Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
Sri Lanka is fast losing its edge as being the leader in the telecommunications industry in the region. Taxes levied on the services, no clear policies on fees and user conditions on spectrum allocation and caps on data usage, which forces many companies to purchase more costly higher data packages are some of the factors affecting the industry.   And India is fast catching up! Telecommunication, says a source who wished to remain anonymous is one of the driving forces of the country’s economy.  It is ...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

Has The Foxy Prez Got Into A Hole?

Politics
Vishvanath
So, it is now clear that President Maithripala Sirisena has failed to get a hole-in-one on the political front. His attempt to make short shrift of the UNP having failed, he claims that he has some more trump cards to play; he has already wasted three of them. He appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa Prime Minister, prorogued Parliament, which he subsequently dissolved, when he realised that he could not muster a working majority by engineering crossovers. He did not come up trumps. His latest move—the dissolution of ...Continued

On A Wing And A Prayer

Politics
Vishvanath
Both the UNP and the UPFA-SLPP combine are readying themselves for a grand showdown on the political front. The former flexed its muscles, on Tuesday, by bringing large crowds to Colombo in protest against the appointment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. That show of strength was a success; it must have boosted the morale of the beleaguered party leadership considerably. The UNP deserves praise for ending its protest without causing untoward incidents. So far so good! The UPFA and the SLPP ...Continued

Never The Twain Shall Meet

Politics
Vishvanath
Speculation is rife in political circles that a caretaker government with the Joint Opposition (JO) and the SLFP/UPFA as parties thereto is in the offing. Weekly political columns are replete with juicy accounts of the JO big guns and President Maithripala Sirisena rendezvousing. It is said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena have had several rounds of talks on rapprochement, albeit without much success. Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and President Sirisena have also powwowed though they are sworn political enemies, we are ...Continued

Of Bradman, Packer, Chappell And Waugh

Columns
Spectator in Australia
The greatest compliment Sri Lanka’s health service has ever received perhaps came from former Australian captain Steve Waugh. Barely a few weeks after becoming the World Champions, Waugh’s Australian side arrived in Sri Lanka for a seven-week tour that included a three-match Test series and a tri-nation limited overs competition also involving India. The Asgiriya Test match went to the wire with Sri Lanka eventually recording their first ever Test win over Australia. Attempting to take a catch off Mahela Jayawardene, Waugh and Jason Gillespie collided ...Continued

Religions For Responsible Governance Building Bridges

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
It was an unprecedented event; a Buddhist Monk apologizing, on television, to the war affected people of Sri Lanka in the North and East for any wrongs done to them by Buddhists. The Monk, the Ven. Galkande Dhammananda of the Walpola Rahula Institute was participating in a live TV discussion on Rupavahini on February 4, this year. Dhammananda Thero was one of four religious leaders who reflected on the role religions had played in post-independence Sri Lanka in this TV talk show. The others were ...Continued

The Urgent Need To Foster And Save Secularism

Columns
Dissector
Democracies are said to be thriving in the Asian region but most of them lack a strong secular foundation. This begs the question: Could they be identified as democracies in the truest sense? Opinion makers in Sri Lanka have tended to ignore this issue or have glossed over it. This has been the case since 1948, the year of ‘independence’. The time is ripe to face this question squarely as Sri Lanka ‘celebrates’ another anniversary of ‘independence’. This exercise is bound to trigger much contention ...Continued

The Rape Of A Virgin Forest

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Sinharaja, the only rainforest reserve in Sri Lanka, is in the news again. And this time around, a road building project has become the bone of contention. Young environmental activist, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reforms (MONLAR), who was in the thick of many battles fought on the Sinharaja front during the last two decades, gave a snapshot picture of the struggles that were to save Sinharaja. “There were many attempts to exploit and commercialize Sinharaja in the past. The attempts ...Continued

Brain Drain Or Brain Gain?

Columns
Srilal Miththapala
Introduction Much has been talked about Sri Lanka’s tourism boom and the impending Human resource shortfall that the industry will face.  Recently, a private sector initiative by You Lead (of the USAID) unveiled a practical and comprehensive road map to address some of these issues. (You Lead: Sri-Lanka-Tourism and Hospitality Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap-2018-2023) Although detailed numbers and assessments are difficult to be derived accurately due to the lack of proper information, it is generally accepted that about 100,000 extra direct staff at various levels will ...Continued

Artificial Reefs The Answer?

Columns
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan
The fishing dispute between the two countries, and the enduring sufferings of fisherpersons of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is the result of the failure of the Indian and Sri Lankan governments to fully implement the 1974 and 1976 maritime border agreements, as also, the failure of the Sri Lankan government to fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.   Introduction Sri Lanka’s northern provincial economy has been rising from the ashes of the civil war since 2010, and has, as per the ...Continued

Why Not An Export Industry?

Columns
Srilal Miththapala
The Debate of export status There has been some debate, of late, on whether tourism qualifies to be an export industry. This argument has been fuelled by the age old definition of an export industry as one which ‘exports goods and services produced and purchased by residents of another country’. The problem stems from the wording ‘…purchased by residents of another country’. However, the modern day interpretations are different from the classical one.  What is the harm if such goods and services, are purchased by ...Continued

Diaspora Engagement In Sri Lanka

Columns
Anupama Ranawana
The subject of the Sri Lankan diaspora can often be a contentious, politicised one. As the war between the LTTE and government forces came to an end, especially, there were many assumptions made about the role of the diaspora that resided in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. As an example, there is the overwhelming assumption that much of the Sri Lankan diaspora is a ‘Tamil’ diaspora that is unanimously supportive of the LTTE. This, however, is a misconception. The Tamil diaspora is various ...Continued

Political Realism, Much Needed In IR Analyses

Columns
Dissector
International Relations commentators would do well to take a leaf from none other than specialists in Marketing who have forged a valuable conceptual tool to analyse current developments in international economics. This is commonly referred to as ‘VUCA’, which acronym stands for, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. An impartial survey of ‘external sector’ developments ought to convince commentators and observers that the Marketers have got it plum right. Fast-breaking events in international politics and economics could indeed tend to be baffling. The magnitude of the ...Continued

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

COLUMN OF THE WEEK

When ‘Saint’ Adam Denied Sanga A Remarkable Milestone

Columns
Spectator

The national cricket team taking on Cricket Australia XI, in a warm-up game, at the Bellerive Oval ahead of the Test series, brought back nostalgic memories of Kumar Sangakkara’s superb knock at this ground some 12 years ago. Sanga came up with a master class when the chips were down for Sri Lanka and ended up with 192. Known for his meticulous planning and appetite for big runs, the former captain could have gone on to complete a double hundred but was denied the milestone ...Continued

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