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LATEST POSTS

Developing Clean Energy In Sri Lanka – Vacillating Policies Hinder...

Cover Story
Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri
In December 2015, the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Paris where the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted by all Nations. At this summit meeting, President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the conference said “the impact of climate change threatens our very survival. In Sri Lanka, the adverse impacts are already obvious” and further said “We have embarked on the challenging task of moving away from fossil fuel-based energy, towards renewable energy”. Realizing ...Continued

Political Pugilism: Feints And Uppercuts

Politics
Vishvanath
Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe went overseas the other day, leaving a mega political issue unresolved at home. Their attitude to the serious problems the country is faced with can be considered cavalier. Their political differences which have spilled over into Parliament have rendered the Cabinet inoperative. The President has refused to summon Cabinet meetings in protest against the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on Easter attacks. His call for suspending the PSC on the grounds that the summoning of top military ...Continued

Autonomizing Education

Columns
H G S Prematunge
In the last issue of Counterpoint, we discussed the vital role economics plays in deciding access to and the quality of the education system, which decides the country’s labour force dynamics. There is obvious correlation between the level of education and income, social mobility, economic and social status. Moreover, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development educated individuals make more intelligent and informed democratic political choices. Consequently, spending on education has been viewed as promoting human capital by many scholars. It was R.E ...Continued

CEB Workers Get Salary Shock

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Nearly 12,000 employees of the Ceylon Electricity board are up in arms over their salaries being paid out as an allowance based on their net take home pay of March this year. These employees who come under the United Engineers Service have fallen victim to a legal imbroglio that stems from a 2014 CEB Board decision allowing for the creation of the afore mentioned category and an E Salary Scale. The decision was challenged in Courts by the Lanka Podu Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya for its ...Continued

Battle Lines In New Cold War Drawn-Up

Columns
Dissector
A new Cold War is taking shape in the international political order but ideology would not be playing a dominant role in it, although we would be having some resonant echoes of the old Cold War in the developing situation.  On the one side, is the US and its allies world-wide, on the other, Russia, China and those making common cause with them. Over the past few months the US has been increasingly vocal about an  “Indo-Pacific strategy”,   which seemingly brings within its scope almost ...Continued

Cricket’s Marketing Battles

Columns
Spectator
The ICC Cricket World Cup has returned to England, the country that staged the first three editions of the sport’s showpiece event and the possibilities of players breaking new grounds are explored. One of the questions cricket pundits have discussed is whether any team can break the 500 run barrier. While experts discuss a whole new set of possibilities and teams put up strategies to overcome opponents, the game’s governing body – the International Cricket Council – keeps a close eye on some key aspects ...Continued

A Brief History Of No–Faith Motions

Cover Story
Hawk Eye
Two motions of no-confidence are currently before Parliament against Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and the government. The first one, signed by 64 opposition MPs, has been fixed for debate on June 18 and 19, but the Joint Opposition (JO), which submitted it has urged Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to advance it, given the severity of the charges contained therein. The second motion, signed by JVP MPs against the government, has entered the Order Book of Parliament, but no date has been fixed for a debate ...Continued

What’s Up Sirisena’s Sleeve?

Politics
Vishvanath
A president at the tail end of his or her term without much hope of being re-elected usually gets written off as a spent force in politics. But President Maithripala Sirisena has been a notable exception. He has been able to retain his grip on power to a considerable extent and hold his opponents at bay. The UNP may not have bargained for this kind of situation when it fielded him as the Common Candidate of the Opposition and threw in its lot with him. ...Continued

Will The Government Stem The Anti-Muslim Campaign?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Even as families of victims of the Easter Sunday terror gradually pick up the pieces of their lives, and attempt to make sense of that dastardly act, a more insidious campaign is taking hold of the country. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is not new in Sri Lanka, but the Easter Sunday bomb blasts carried out by members of extremist National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) has given it a new breath of life. The move to stifle Muslim owned businesses has been around for more than a decade, but ...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

Developing Clean Energy In Sri Lanka – Vacillating Policies Hinder...

Cover Story
Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri
In December 2015, the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Paris where the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted by all Nations. At this summit meeting, President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the conference said “the impact of climate change threatens our very survival. In Sri Lanka, the adverse impacts are already obvious” and further said “We have embarked on the challenging task of moving away from fossil fuel-based energy, towards renewable energy”. Realizing ...Continued

A Brief History Of No–Faith Motions

Cover Story
Hawk Eye
Two motions of no-confidence are currently before Parliament against Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and the government. The first one, signed by 64 opposition MPs, has been fixed for debate on June 18 and 19, but the Joint Opposition (JO), which submitted it has urged Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to advance it, given the severity of the charges contained therein. The second motion, signed by JVP MPs against the government, has entered the Order Book of Parliament, but no date has been fixed for a debate ...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

Political Pugilism: Feints And Uppercuts

Politics
Vishvanath
Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe went overseas the other day, leaving a mega political issue unresolved at home. Their attitude to the serious problems the country is faced with can be considered cavalier. Their political differences which have spilled over into Parliament have rendered the Cabinet inoperative. The President has refused to summon Cabinet meetings in protest against the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on Easter attacks. His call for suspending the PSC on the grounds that the summoning of top military ...Continued

What’s Up Sirisena’s Sleeve?

Politics
Vishvanath
A president at the tail end of his or her term without much hope of being re-elected usually gets written off as a spent force in politics. But President Maithripala Sirisena has been a notable exception. He has been able to retain his grip on power to a considerable extent and hold his opponents at bay. The UNP may not have bargained for this kind of situation when it fielded him as the Common Candidate of the Opposition and threw in its lot with him. ...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

Autonomizing Education

Columns
H G S Prematunge
In the last issue of Counterpoint, we discussed the vital role economics plays in deciding access to and the quality of the education system, which decides the country’s labour force dynamics. There is obvious correlation between the level of education and income, social mobility, economic and social status. Moreover, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development educated individuals make more intelligent and informed democratic political choices. Consequently, spending on education has been viewed as promoting human capital by many scholars. It was R.E ...Continued

CEB Workers Get Salary Shock

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Nearly 12,000 employees of the Ceylon Electricity board are up in arms over their salaries being paid out as an allowance based on their net take home pay of March this year. These employees who come under the United Engineers Service have fallen victim to a legal imbroglio that stems from a 2014 CEB Board decision allowing for the creation of the afore mentioned category and an E Salary Scale. The decision was challenged in Courts by the Lanka Podu Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya for its ...Continued

Battle Lines In New Cold War Drawn-Up

Columns
Dissector
A new Cold War is taking shape in the international political order but ideology would not be playing a dominant role in it, although we would be having some resonant echoes of the old Cold War in the developing situation.  On the one side, is the US and its allies world-wide, on the other, Russia, China and those making common cause with them. Over the past few months the US has been increasingly vocal about an  “Indo-Pacific strategy”,   which seemingly brings within its scope almost ...Continued

Cricket’s Marketing Battles

Columns
Spectator
The ICC Cricket World Cup has returned to England, the country that staged the first three editions of the sport’s showpiece event and the possibilities of players breaking new grounds are explored. One of the questions cricket pundits have discussed is whether any team can break the 500 run barrier. While experts discuss a whole new set of possibilities and teams put up strategies to overcome opponents, the game’s governing body – the International Cricket Council – keeps a close eye on some key aspects ...Continued

Will The Government Stem The Anti-Muslim Campaign?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Even as families of victims of the Easter Sunday terror gradually pick up the pieces of their lives, and attempt to make sense of that dastardly act, a more insidious campaign is taking hold of the country. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is not new in Sri Lanka, but the Easter Sunday bomb blasts carried out by members of extremist National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) has given it a new breath of life. The move to stifle Muslim owned businesses has been around for more than a decade, but ...Continued

Cricket’s Greatest Celebration

Columns
Spectator
The participants of the ICC Cricket World Cup were welcomed to England by none other than Queen Elizabeth herself at SW1A 1AA – the postcode for Buckingham Palace. The ten captains posted for an official photograph with the Queen and Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne posted the picture on Instagram with the title ‘priceless’. Looking back at the tournament which is 45 years old, cricket has come a long way. The inaugural edition in 1975 generated little revenue but today the sport’s showpiece event is ...Continued

The Dangerous Rise Of The Right

Columns
Dissector
The increasing rise of Right wing populism in the West recalls to mind the Europe of the First and Second World Wars. Nationalism was the driving force behind these wars and we are left to wonder whether the world is biting off more than it could chew by passively allowing the re-emergence of this virulent brand of politics. One of the theatres to watch most closely is Western Europe. Right wing and nationalist parties have made an impression at the recent European Parliament elections and ...Continued

Higher Education And Privatisation

Columns
H G S Prematunge
From deciding access to quality, economics play a vital role in education. And since the education system bares the heavy burden of producing the country’s human resource that will directly affect the country’s economy, education and economics are like two sides of the same coin. The economies of countries that have large stocks of educated human resources are superior to economies of countries that have lower stocks of educated human resources. This was highlighted by E. Hanushek and L. Woessmann in their 2008 paper ‘The ...Continued

Sri Lanka In A Quandary – Extreme Religiosity And Religious...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Sri Lanka is regarded as one of the most religious countries in the world. In recent times, this has become manifest not just once, but at least twice. And that again by two cutting edge independent research work. The world renowned Zurich based market research cum polling firm Worldwide Independent Network/ Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA), in its latest report on world religiosity (published in 2016), ranked Sri Lanka as the second most religious country in the world! According to the survey Sri Lanka sits only ...Continued

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

COLUMN OF THE WEEK

Will The Government Stem The Anti-Muslim Campaign?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana

Even as families of victims of the Easter Sunday terror gradually pick up the pieces of their lives, and attempt to make sense of that dastardly act, a more insidious campaign is taking hold of the country. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is not new in Sri Lanka, but the Easter Sunday bomb blasts carried out by members of extremist National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) has given it a new breath of life. The move to stifle Muslim owned businesses has been around for more than a decade, but ...Continued

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