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Manifesto: no mention of Amendment 19 or Amendment 20

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Pray Sri Lanka pray as five judges deliberate on the country’s future 

by Pro Bono   

Nowhere in the Manifesto has Gota said that he is repealing 19A and introducing 20A to the Constitution. It appears that he has a penchant for being economical with the truth.     

 Gota obtained a two thirds majority by deceiving the people; he posed off as the leader of the anti-MCC Movement. With his ill-gotten majority, he is attempting to push-through 20A for which he does not have the people’s mandate; he would sup with the devil to achieve his ends. 

Terrorist suspect released 

In the meantime, one of the prime Islamic-terrorist suspects in the ‘Easter bombing has been released from custody, purportedly due to lack of evidence 

The country is on tenterhooks while five judges from the Supreme Court, sit in judgment on 39 petitions challenging one of the most controversial amendments to the Constitution ever proposed.  The case promises to be a landmark in Sri Lanka’s political, judicial and cultural history as Sri Lanka’s very existence as a sovereign Nation State may depend on the judicial determination made. 

 

Government MPs plan to vote against party lines  

Analysts say that a popular Government, in a matter of months, has succeeded in making itself most unpopular by attempting to bulldoze the proposed 20th Amendment through Parliament, with its two thirds majority. 

 Many, within the Government ranks, are opposed to some very controversial aspects in the proposed Amendment; the people are demanding from their representatives to openly vote against party lines if the Amendment are voted on in Parliament; they say that those representatives voting against party lines have the people’s support.     

 The opposition, which only yesterday looked so hopelessly disunited and deflated, has suddenly got a second wind as a result of the proposed Amendment. 

 Strangely, with the massive opposition to 20A, its ‘author’ can be found; Ali Sabry has disclaimed ownership, forcing Gota to claim it as his own! 

 

 Fast becoming a political joke 

Gota, described by some as a good administrator, has made some serious and embarrassing gaffes, described in certain circles as ‘military buffoonery’. He is fast becoming a political joke and critics cite these instances to make their point: They point out that out of the blues he issued an illegal gazette on Sept. 10, 2020 to give ownership of State land to those squatting  on such land in total violation of an existing statute which is about  ‘Recovering State Land’ from squatters; the gazette was to override a Statute.  

He was caught with his pants down, furtively withdrawing the illegal gazette on getting wind that it would be torn to shreds in a court of law by anyone challenging the illegal gazette. 

Critics also point out to Gota megalomaniacally making ex cathedra type statements and insisting that words flowing from his mouth are like pearls of wisdom having the validity of government circulars.  

 They also refer to his frivolous use of the gazette as when a gazette was published regularizing coconut sales based on caliper and measuring-tape readings.   

 

Popularity plummets to an all time low 

Some analysts say that within 11 months his popularity rating has plummeted from a 70 percent to a low of 48 percent.  

 His present popularity rating is not entirely due to his non-ending gaffes; Gota secured his victory and his two thirds majority in Parliament by deceiving the people of Sri Lanka; he posed off as Sri Lanka’s flag bearer against the MCC, the most burning issue facing the country  

When the people realized his deception and called his bluff, he ingloriously fell from his pedestal and found it difficult playing a geo-political charade. 

 

Playing the role of house-negro 

Soon, he was collaborating with the Americans on the MCC Plan to take-over Sri Lanka.   

Today, with Trump going down with COVID, Gota’s actions evoke memories of Malcolm X and his explicit description of ‘House Negros’.  

 

Sri Lanka fulfills conditions precedent for MCC Land investment 

Much of Gota’s executive actions are based on ‘Conditions precedent for MCC land investment’, the conditions that Sri Lanka is mandated to fulfill, before the Americans condescend to ink the MCC Agreement.  

 In fact, it is being alleged that the so-called ‘bastard’ Amendment 20 was in fact impregnated by the Americans.  

 

Et tu Gota 

Embarrassed by the faux pas of his younger sibling, Mahinda attempted to rescue Gota from the trap that he was walking into setting up a committee to study and report on the draft of the proposed Amendment.  

 When this report was submitted to the cabinet, Gota, either resenting challenges to his authority or prompted by the Americans, consigned the report to the ‘waste-paper basket’.  

 

Government has no mandate from the people to repeal or make amendments 

News from the grapevine is that the Americans are following the Supreme Court proceedings with great interest.  

 Although it is being parroted that Gota had included in his Manifesto that the 19th Amendment would be repealed and a 20th Amendment would be introduced, many voters are bewildered as they are unable to find any mention of this in the Manifesto 

 Analysts say that if such a pledge is not in the Manifesto, it would mean that the people have not given Gota a mandate to repeal 19A nor bring in 20A.  

 It would follow therefore that in addition to a two thirds majority in Parliament, the bill would require the peoples’ consent at a referendum. 

 

Eelamists strategy for a UDI- Dual citizenship 

The proposed 20A includes a section which calls for the repealing of Article 91 (1)(d) (x111) of the present Constitution that debars a foreign citizen from holding political office. 

 If this barrier is removed, the path is cleared for the Americans to capture political power in the Provincial Councils in the North and the East of Sri Lanka through their diaspora-Eelamists having dual citizenship.  

 The Eelam diaspora in the US and other Western countries are awaiting the ‘starting-gate’ to be opened with the passing of 20A.    

Some votaries of Eelam and mercenaries of the US argue that contending for political office and representing people in a political chamber is a right of any citizen of Sri Lanka; they choose to ignore the crux of the counter argument which is not about rights and duties but ‘National Security’. This is the yardstick applied to many rights (for instance ‘The Right to Information’ is denied) when there is a lurking danger to National Security.   

 And to quote Gota from his own Election Manifesto, his priority number One is National Security. It does not require a rocket scientist to understand that dual-citizenship is a major threat to National Security.  

 The danger to our National Security can be perceived given the oath, taken by Rudra Kumaran, Emmanuel, Basil, Hoole and others.    

“I, ……., hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform non-combatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”   

 

The unfolding American scenario 

The scenario to be considered is this:  

On dual citizens being granted political rights, the diaspora Eelamists capture political power in the North and the East by controlling the Provincial Councils and all other lesser units in those provinces. 

The Americans, (see the MCC document) demand that all State Land – 83 percent of the country – be privatized. (As per the MCC document, the success of the MCC project will be measured by the amount of State Land privatized).  

 

The dual citizens buy up all State Land in the North and the East 

The US demands for itself the corridor of 1.2 million acres between Trinco and Colombo that will separate and demarcate the North from the South. (See the MCC document; This is where the electrified railway line would run). 

Wigneswaran, who worked on a USAID project on retirement, makes statements to stir up memories of a separate Tamil State; this is a forerunner to a UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). 

The MCC document re Privatization of State Land runs into flak {Land (Special Provisions) Bill}. 

Gota comes to America’s rescue by issuing an illegal gazette to ‘privatize’ State Land to squatters et al; an open sesame for any one (squatter or otherwise) to register their names as owners of State Land, as per that gazette. 

When land is thus privatized it no longer comes under the control of the Government (the Centre), but that control is automatically devolved to the local provinces and councils. (Without much fuss Amendment 13 has been implemented, circumventing the legal and other barriers). 

Now that these State lands have been privatized it can be sold to any citizen, diaspora or otherwise.  

Gota is caught out and he is forced to withdraw the illegal gazette.  

With Gota’s moves frustrated, MCC partner India steps in; Modi threatens Mahinda, in a  Zoom Conference, to not impede any measures Gota may take to implement 13A which relates to devolving land and Land power to the North and the East. 

When all land in the North and the East are owned by the diaspora Eelamists, when the Councils in those provinces are controlled by the diaspora Eelamists, when there is a definite border separating the North from the South as is the Trinco-Colombo Corridor of the US, the Eelamists have a strong case to Unilaterally Declare Independence. 

If Sri Lanka expresses its opposition to the UDI, and attempts sending troops to the affected area, US troops manning the Colombo-Trincomalee Corridor would prevent that.  UDI is then a done deal, a fait accompli. 

Modi does a Wigneswaran in India. He has awakened the South Indians to their once Greater Eelam dream. The saga of greater Eelam is perhaps not over; the Balkanization of Sri Lanka will catalyze the Balkanization of India.  

With the diaspora Eelamists controlling Eelam, Eelam would be America’s 53rd State; the 53rd State of the US has scope for expansion when ‘Greater Eelam is annexed to Eelam.  

 

Strong statement by Bar Association 

The Bar Association has come out of its slumber and has done a copious study of the 20th Amendment. That, is a good sign. They have decried that dual citizenship should not be allowed under any circumstances. That is a legal opinion of great import. 

 

The clock begins to tick 

On May 9, 2019, Gammanpila castigated the US in open Parliament for attempting to exert undue influence on ten judges who were under training in the US; this was telecast by Adaderana News channel; see the link given below. http://www.adaderana.lk/news/55005/us-exerted-influenced-on-sl-judiciary-gammanpila?fbclid=IwAR1gR44V9Gb9EEiK6tIhB8cfYrAo-Zv0F22EcM5eMfZuDSj3jPEUkB1SPE0 

 

 Today, three of those judges referred to by Gammanpila, are hearing the petitions on the 20th Amendment.  

 It is a trying time for Sri Lanka and the future of the country hangs on a thread; it hinges on the judicial determination that will be made by the five-member bench. 

 Sri Lankans of all ethnicities and faith, you are exhorted to pray for your country and the bench of judges hearing the petitions. They need your prayers and blessings. Pray that they be granted wisdom and strength of character to act righteously to protect our beloved country.


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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development

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There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.

The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.

To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.

Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.

It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.

All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.

Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.

If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.

In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.

However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.

It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.

The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.

It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.

A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.

Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.

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Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka

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By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.

The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.

We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.

This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.

Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!

At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.

One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.

It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!

ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!

The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.

When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!

I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.

I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.

I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.

Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!

I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.

Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.

We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.

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Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?

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Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!

To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.

Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.

The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..

How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!

If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.

And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!

Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.

I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.

He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.

Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.

He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!

I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:

“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.

“There is no science to beat common sense.”

But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!

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