How unarmed civilians saved lives during anti-Muslim attacks in Sri...

Lisa Fuller
On March 4th, Sinhala Buddhist mobs began sweeping through Sri Lanka’s Kandy district, hurling petrol bombs at Muslim-owned houses, shops and mosques. The attacks came as a shock, as Sri Lanka has not seen violence on this scale in nearly a decade. The government deployed thousands of security forces, armed with automatic weapons, tear gas and water cannons, but they failed to stop the violence until four days later. By then, mobs had wreaked havoc in a dozen towns and destroyed 465 properties. Yet the death toll was astonishingly ...Continued

Philippines’ Duterte is also trying a Rajapaksa stunt

Naganathan Pillai
“Please do not allow me to report to President Duterte that you guys are not doing anything about this killing,” Under Secretary Jose Joel Egco, a journalist turned public servant who went to investigate a murder of a journalist in Mindanao threatened a senior local police officer a few months ago. The officer, well aware of the repercussions of such a complaint, arrested the suspect within hours and produced him before courts. “That is how we have to operate if we are to get these ...Continued

Empathy – a much needed attribute in doctors

Professor Susirith Mendis
What really is empathy? Let us take some similar words – sympathy, compassion, kindness, humanity, pity; and the Buddhist concepts of Meththa (loving kindness); Karuna (compassion), Muditha (vicarious joy – the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.) What is sympathy? – feelings of sorrow for someone else’s misfortune; Compassion? – concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others; Kindness? – a pleasant disposition, and a concern for others; Humanity? – a set of strengths focused on “tending others”; Pity? – feeling of ...Continued

Not Yet Beyond the Point of No Return

Dr. Paikaisothy Saravanamuttu
The stinging rebuke delivered by the country to the two main parties in government is indeed that – things cannot continue as before, promises have to be kept and the people have to be taken into the confidence of the government through constant, cogent and coherent communication. It is not a wholesale repudiation of the government or of the reform agenda of 2015.  It is also worth noting that in almost half of the local bodies no single party has won an overall majority, although ...Continued

A look at Sri Lanka’s labour in a post-war economy

Anupama Ranawana
In Sri Lanka’s post-war economy, studies on labour and livelihoods indicate deep structural inequalities. When we look at the global political economy, we can see that the expansionary dynamics of the past forty years have produced an economic system that acquires and controls resources and labour easily, and supports production, marketing and consumption on a global scale. An increase in automation within this system has also displaced millions, either from traditional methods of production, such as farmers in Mexico, or from their traditional sites of ...Continued

Nationalism isn’t what it used to be

Dinoo Kelleghan
 ‘A free country debates its history, it does not deny it.’ I don’t know what the national mood in Sri Lanka was from top to bottom as you celebrated Independence Day but here in Australia we didn’t know whether to wave a flag or char a chop – or the other way around – on Australia Day. You grumbled at the traffic jams as roads were closed for the rehearsals of the parades but(after the laptop dance was changed) it seemed undeniably a celebration of ...Continued

Ending the cycle of violence against women

Kshama Ranawana
When a group of women and like-minded men engaged in a walk from the Fort Railway station to the Galle Face Green on Monday, March 5th, it was to make the point that not just streets, but homes and all other places must be safe for women. The Walk, organized by the Women’s Education and Research Centre along with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs called for “Safe Nights, Safe Streets & Safe Homes for Women.” Even though we have created the space for ...Continued

Her. Him. The Other; Condemning of where we are and...

Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke
In 2015, artists of various disciplines from around the island were invited to a meeting at the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga. Amongst the writers, artists and musicians were perhaps our most internationally celebrated filmmakers; Prasanna Vithanage, Vimukthi Jayasundara and Asoka Handagama. It was a town hall style meeting to discuss ideas and proposals for art that spoke to the national post-war conversation, art that would actively try to foster or reflect the need for reconciliation. Her. Him. The ...Continued

The Unfair Burden of the Women’s Quota

Natasha Balendra
The recently concluded local government elections have been notable for a number of reasons. One of these is that for the first time in Sri Lanka a 25% quota was introduced for women representatives. It now appears from press reports that both the Chairman of the Elections Commission and some of the Political Parties and Independent Groups which contested the elections find implementing the quota to be too “burdensome” and “unfair.” Well, of course! Is it really fair for these women’s movement type people to ...Continued

Decline of integrity in public service; Can we stem the...

Prof. Susirith Mendis
The revelations of the Bond Commission Report where Lanka’s political and financial elite have conspired in the greatest scam ever in Sri Lankas history, the consequent revelations on money laundering and luxury penthouse kickbacks and the evasive statements made in parliament by the Prime Minister and other responsible public figures prompts me to take up this topic for comment. Forget public life for the moment. Let us get to basics first. What are the dimensions of the concept of integrity? Integrity encompasses many of the ...Continued

A case for non-partisan Local Government

Kshama Ranawana
It is time to re-think how we elect representatives to our local administrative bodies. Local government means having our day to day needs attended to; be it the collection of garbage, repair of drains and culverts or maintaining a clean city amongst a host of other services. Basically it’s getting our worth for the taxes we pay to the local administration that oversees the city or village we live in. In Sri Lanka, the mandate of the local authority is to “provide for the comfort, ...Continued

A Shift from a Straight White Male Perspective (2017’s Best...

Arun Welandawe Prematilleke
In a year that has seen seismic shifts occur around the world, where often times the news has been a like a car accident, horrifying but with a chokehold on your attention span, cinema does seem like a distant concern. Any art does in moments of panic. But after the panic fades, it is the arts we go to; for escape, for reflection, and hopefully to gain some perspective on the world we occupy. There’s plenty to reflect on in the larger cultural shift where ...Continued