By ROHANA R. WASALA
The feature article: ‘False historical perspectives of Wigneswaran’ jointly written by Rienzie and Kusum Wijetilleke (The Island of September 4, 2020) provided the cue for the following comments. The Wijetillekes’ article makes interesting reading, though Wigneswaran’s tribal perspectives are hardly worth talking about, except for the danger of their acquiring a false validity due to halo effect (for, after all, Wigneswaran is a retired Supreme Court judge).
His attempt to falsify the long history of the country of the Sinhalese (the unrecorded part of it is much longer than the recorded part, as being archaeologically established at present) is like trying to chip off a splinter from the Sigiriya rock with his bare head. Be that as it may, the more recent post-independence history of our country is more relevant to the point, I think. The young people today may or may not know that, before our country was made a republic by their heroic parents and grandparents in 1972, our country had been officially regarded as a ‘dominion’ (i.e. ‘a semi-independent state’ under the British Crown) since 1948, the year of independence. So, it was a monarchy until then under the British monarch locally represented by an appointed official called ‘the Governor General’.
In terms of the 1972 Republican Constitution, the last was replaced by a figurehead president. A few years later, the currently operative 1978 Constitution created the post of executive president. But the official naming of the country as ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1972 was a shortsighted, though significant, change introduced as a novelty. The people were heroic; but the leaders were not wise enough to retain the traditional name/s of the island, which were the formal ‘Lanka’ or the informal ‘Lankawa’ (for the Sinhalese majority, and its Tamil version ‘Ilankei’ for the Tamil speaking minorities) and ‘Ceylon’ for foreigners and the English speaking local elite. The important point is that ‘Ceylon’ was a derivation from ‘Sinhale’ (the Land of the Sinhalese), which had been the historic name of the country from time immemorial until 1815. The interior part of the island which had remained independent of the British, known as the Kandyan Kingdom, was still called ‘Sinhale’, while the surrounding littoral part under British imperial occupation was identified as ‘Ceylon’, which means that, actually, the whole island was a single entity known as Sinhale/Ceylon.
In their opening paragraph, the writers express the view that ‘Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s recent comments regarding racial and religious politics were most timely. In a climate where religious leaders seek to become political leaders, to hear the Archbishop state so unequivocally that religion and language should not be the basis for a political party is ‘at least mildly reassuring’ OK. But why only ‘at least mildly reassuring’? From my point of view, the Archbishop, who abhors divisive politics, is putting his finger on what is ailing the Sri Lankan body politic today: racial and religious politics and we know what the parties are that depend on race and religion issues.
But the writers seem to have mixed up or equated with each other the extremists following racial and religious politics, and whom they call ‘religious leaders seeking to become political leaders’ (by which they probably mean the three monks who are currently engaged in an unseemly struggle over a national list seat in parliament won by a certain political party, or all monks including the three, who have been agitating against a number of longstanding issues affecting the majority community, the Buddhist establishment, and the unitary status of Sri Lanka, which are aspects of a single entity, but whose approach is apolitical.
If the writers mean by ‘a climate where religious leaders seek to become political leaders’ the handful of vocal Buddhist monks who are raising a voice for rescuing the country from the aforementioned anomalies, and from what the Archbishop himself is denouncing (pretty much the same as the issues that the former are raising), they need to correct their terminology. These monks cannot be identified as ‘religious’ leaders among Buddhists. The Buddhists’ religious leaders are the Nayake and Maha Nayake monks, who are what the Archbishop is among the Christians. The activist monks feel obliged to do what they are doing because the Maha Nayakes are not seen (as clearly as the Archbishop for some reason) to be doing for the Buddhists what the Archbishop is doing for the Catholics. (The Archbishop is trying to ensure that the government fulfills its obligations to the Catholics for whom he is responsible as their ordained leader, without stooping to politics; but we know that his concern is for the welfare of all Sri Lankans without discrimination. Buddhists also felt protected under his moral leadership in the critical aftermath of the April 21 bombings, because he had won their trust as he had already repeatedly stressed the vital importance of preserving the age-old Buddhist religious cultural heritage our country). The monk-politician-centred episode that is being currently staged should be regarded as the last flicker of the culturally embarrassing Buddhist-monks-in-parliament politics novelty introduced in 2004, which hardly survived the few years of its experimental stage.
Talking about racial politics, the enduring nationalism that the first prime minister (of post-colonial, at least nominally independent, Sri Lanka) D. S. Senanayake championed was Ceylonese nationalism. That’s why, asked by the Soulbury Commissioners how many Tamils he wanted to have in his cabinet, he replied without hesitation, as H. A .J. Hulugalla, his biographer recorded, ‘I don’t mind the number if they act as Ceylonese’, a non-racist attitude that is still alive among the vast majority of the majority Sinhalese community; although it is not acknowledged by the few real racists who currently have sway among minority politicians. While D. S. Senanayake and other Sinhalese leaders were committed to non-communal nationalism, the racists among Tamil leaders opposed them. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike left the UNP to form his own party because he found the trust that his and party’s leader D.S. placed in the treacherous Tamil leaders was not being reciprocated by them. Bandaranaike understood that his boss’s expectation that they’d come round to accept his kind of Ceylonese nationalism was not going to be fulfilled. Because of this fact I see no justification for the writers’ apparent treatment of Sinhalese and Tamil leaders of the time as equally guilty of racist prejudice.
Bandaranaike, who was as much a Ceylonese nationalist as DS, was not wrong to speak in terms of the following in the then prevailing circumstances in mid-1950s, as quoted in the Wijetillekes’ article: “… the fears of the Sinhalese, I do not think can be brushed aside as completely frivolous. I believe there are a not inconsiderable number of Tamils in this country out of a population of 8 million. Then there are 40-50 million Tamil people in the adjoining country. What about all this Tamil literature, Tamil teachers, even films, papers and magazines? … I do not think there is an unjustified fear of the inexorable shrinking of the Sinhala language. It is a fear that cannot be brushed aside”. Bandaranaike was opposed by those who did not care about the existence of the native Sinhala and Tamil languages or about the serious anomalies that the Sinhalese majority suffered because they were Sinhalese.
Maybe there were only 40-50 million Tamils in India (Tamil Nadu) then. But today, there are over 72 million there, and a several more millions of Tamils scattered across the globe. And some ethnic Tamils, not necessarily of Sri Lankan origin, occupy powerful positions in international bodies that can exert adverse influence on Sri Lanka if they wish, though this is unlikely as they are also originally from a non-violent, peaceful, cultural background. However, if unreasonable viewpoints are promoted among them against the beleaguered global minority that the Sinhalese are, it will be nothing short of something genocidal, because Sri Lankans are engulfed in much more dire circumstances than in the 1950s, being constantly threatened by potential exigencies that could become reality in the boiling geopolitical cauldron that is fast emerging in our region.
It is the sort of nationalism that DS believed in that inspires today’s nationalists. Recently, some bogus critics of the founder of the UNP have started promulgating the misconception that the word ‘national’ in the name ‘United National Party’ was divisive, because it was an erroneous recognition of the alleged presence of a plurality of ‘nations’ (based on race, religion, etc.) in Sri Lanka. Nothing could be further from the truth. This sort of thing is nothing but false propaganda spread by the few separatist racists there are and their opportunistic sympathisers. The UNP has been decimated in terms of parliamentary representation, but that is due to the inefficiency and lack of love for the country on the part of its ageing, narrowly self-seeking leaders. This affords a good chance for a vibrant young leadership to emerge who can bring the divided party together, ousting the current squabbling, leadership qualities lacking leaders, and forge it into a strong oppositional force that can work both with as well as against the SLPP government, to make Sri Lanka the kind of prosperous stable country that the traditional Guardians of the Nation, the Maha Sangha, are determined to help forge, with the cooperation of our other spiritual leaders like the Archbishop. This is an urgent need of the hour. The SLMC leader Hakeem’s justification, at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Attack, of a separate administrative unit for Tamil speaking Muslims in a part of the Eastern province is ominous. Are these purveyors of racial and religious politics seeking cooperation or confrontation with other Tamil speakers (Hindus)?
His Eminence Malcom Cardinal Ranjith urged the authorities a few days ago, at an annual religious service held at the Tewatta National Basilica Church at Ragama, to expose and punish, without any further delay or vacillation, the evil extremist forces and their agents who were actually behind the April 21 attacks that left 269 innocent persons killed and over 120 permanently disabled; who provided the perpetrators of those crimes financial and logistical support, he demanded to know. He was unequivocal in condemning religious extremists who believed in killing adherents of other faiths to affirm their faith in their own god. The Cardinal wanted the responsible persons at the highest level under the previous administration, not only the politicians but also the officials, to be dealt with according to the law for failing to prevent, at least in the name of humanity, those heinous crimes, even though they had been previously warned many times by intelligence agencies; and his incidental but no less urgent call for a ban on political parties based on religion and language, still reverberates in our ears.
For so boldly expressing his personal conviction regarding the subject, the Archbishop has already earned the deep respect and gratitude not only of Sri Lankan Catholics but also of ordinary Sri Lankans of other faiths as well, including the majority Buddhists, who are helpless victims of the oppressive trends set in motion by the policies of such parties and the sectarian religious movements behind them.
The Archbishop’s call needs to be heeded by the leaders of the present administration who have been democratically elected by the pan-Sri Lankan electorate, with overwhelming majorities to rescue the country from, among other things, the undue pressures exerted on parliamentary decision-making by parties based on race and religion, which enjoyed their heyday during the Yahapalanaya, taking cover behind bogus reconciliation politics imposed on the country by external interventionist forces. However, this does not mean that the opposition must step aside and look on passively, leaving everything to be accomplished by the government.
The most recent triumph of nationalism that the patriotic people have achieved (in November 2019, and August 2020) under the SLPP transcends, in its reach, promise and potential, all the previous watershed moments arrived at in 1956, 1972, and 2009, which, unfortunately, were reversed by racists. The same reversal should not be allowed to happen this time. It should not be forgotten that, without the selfless exertions of the Buddhist monk activists, the nationalist triumph would never have been possible. The united Maha Sangha will remain the anchor sheet and guarantor of the wholesome unitary state of Sri Lanka. But that historic role of the monks is intrinsically non-political, and eminently compatible with the principles of modern secular democracy. The Maha Sangha have been the Guardians of the Nation without a break (even during periods of foreign invasion) ever since the official establishment of Buddha Sasana in the island by Arhant Mahinda Thera twenty-three centuries ago. Politicizing the Maha Sangha, despite the existence of the Maha Nayakes, is the surest way to undermine its power.
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Take Human Rights seriously, not so much the council or office
By Dr Laksiri Fernando
The 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council started on 22 February morning with obvious hiccups. The Office, to mean the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, finally decided to hold all sessions virtually online, only the President of the Council and the assistants in the high table sitting at the UN Assembly Hall in Geneva. The President, Ms. Nazhat Shammen Khan, Ambassador from Fiji in Geneva, wearing a saree, was graceful in the chair with empty seats surrounding.
In the opening session, the UN General Assembly President, UN General Secretary, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Head of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland (as the host country), addressed remotely the session. In fact, there was no need for Switzerland to have a special place, as the UN is independent from any host country. Switzerland is fairly ok, however, if this tradition is followed, the UN General Assembly may have to give a special place to the US in New York.
UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres’ address could have been quite exemplary if he gave a proper balance to the developed and developing countries. He talked about racism and fight against racism but did not mention where racism is overwhelmingly rampant (US and Europe) and what to do about it. Outlining the human rights implications of Covid-19 pandemic, he made quite a good analysis. It was nice for him to say, ‘human rights are our blood line (equality), our lifeline (for peace) and our frontline (to fight against violations).’ However, in the fight against violations, he apparently forgot about the ‘blood line’ or the ‘lifeline’ quite necessary not to aggravate situations through partiality and bias. He never talked about the importance of human rights education or promoting human rights awareness in all countries.
His final assault was on Myanmar. Although he did not call ‘genocide,’ he denounced the treatment of Rohingyas as ethnic cleansing without mentioning any terrorist group/s within. His call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders undoubtedly should be a common call of all. However, he did not leave any opening for a dialogue with the military leaders or bring back a dialogue between Aung San and Min Aung, the military leader. With a proper mediation, it is not impossible. Calling for a complete overhaul as the young demonstrators idealistically claim might not be realistic.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s address was brief and uncontroversial this time without mentioning any country or region. It is clear by now perhaps she is not the real author of the Report against Sri Lanka, but someone probably hired by the so-called core-group led by Britain. Her major points were related to the coronavirus pandemic trying to highlight some of the socio-economic disparities and imbalances of policy making that have emerged as a result. The neglect of women, minorities, and the marginalized sections of society were emphasized. But the poor was not mentioned. As a former medical doctor, she also opted to highlight some of the medical issues underpinning the crisis.
Then came the statements from different countries in the first meeting in the following order: Uzbekistan, Colombia, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Poland, Venezuela, Finland, Fiji, Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Vietnam, Belgium, and Morocco. The obvious purposes of these statements were different. Some countries were apparently canvassing for getting into the Human Rights Council at the next turn perhaps for the purpose of prestige. Some others were playing regional politics against their perceived enemies. This was very clear when Lithuania and Poland started attacking Russia.
But there were very sincere human rights presentations as well. One was the statement by the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. He outlined the devastating effects that Afghanistan had to undergo during the last 40 years, because of foreign interferences. The initial support to Taliban by big powers was hinted. His kind appeal was to the UN was to go ‘beyond discourse to practice’ giving equal chance to the poor and the developing countries to involve without discrimination.
China’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi, made his presentation almost at the end of the first day. This is apparently the first time that China had directly addressed the Human Rights Council. Beginning with outlining the devastating repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic he stressed that the world should face the challenges through ‘solidarity and cooperation.’ He broadened the concept to human rights solidarity and cooperation. His expressed views were quite different to the others, particularly to the Western ones.
He frankly said that what he expresses are the views of China on human rights without claiming those are absolute truths or forcing others to believe or implement them. There were four main concepts that he put forward before the member countries. First, he said, “We should embrace a human rights philosophy that centres on the people. The people’s interests are where the human rights cause starts and ends.” Second, he said, “we should uphold both universality and particularity of human rights. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values shared by all humanity and recognized by all countries.” “On the other hand,” he said, “countries must promote and protect human rights in light of their national realities and the needs of their people.”
“Third,” he said, “we should systemically advance all aspects of human rights. Human rights are an all-encompassing concept. They include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.” He then emphasized, “Among them, the rights to subsistence and development are the basic human rights of paramount importance.” Fourth, “we should continue to promote international dialogue and cooperation on human rights. Global human rights governance should be advanced through consultation among all countries.”
It was on the same first day before China, that the United Kingdom launched its barrage against several countries not sparing Sri Lanka. The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, delivered the statement from top to bottom attacking alleged violating countries on human rights. But there was no mentioning of Israel for the repression of Palestinians or the systemic racism rampaging in the United States, including the 6 January attacks on the Capitol by extremist/terrorist groups.
His first sermon was on Myanmar without acknowledging the British atrocities or mismanagement of this poor and diverse country during the colonial period. He was quite jubilant over implementing sanctions and other restrictions over the country. Many sanctions, in my opinion, are extortions. Undoubtedly, Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders should be released, and democracy restored. This is a task of the whole council and when one or two countries try to grab the credit, there can be obvious reservations of others.
His further scathing attacks were against Belarus, Russia, and China. Some appeared factually correct but not necessarily the approach or the motives genuine. The following is the way he came around Sri Lanka. He said,
“Finally, we will continue to lead action in this Council: on Syria, as we do at each session; on South Sudan; and on Sri Lanka, where we will present a new resolution to maintain the focus on reconciliation and on accountability.”
‘Action’ to him basically means repeatedly passing resolutions, of course imposing economic and other sanctions. He said, “as we do at each session”; like bullying poor or weak countries at each session. Can there be a resolution against Russia or China? I doubt it.
What would be the purpose of presenting a resolution against Sri Lanka? As he said, “to maintain the focus on reconciliation and on accountability.” This will satisfy neither the Tamil militants nor the Sinhalese masses. But it might satisfy the crafty Opposition (proxy of the defeated last government). This is not going to be based on any of the actual measures that Sri Lanka has taken or not taken on reconciliation or accountability. But based on the ‘Authoritarian and Hypocritical Report’ that some anti-Sri Lankans have drafted within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This what I have discussed in my last article.
In this context, successful or not, the statement made by the Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena, in rejecting any resolution based on the foxy Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in my concerned opinion, is absolutely correct.
President’s energy directives ignored by the Power Ministry: Another Point of View
Dr Tilak Siyambalapitiya
Dr Janaka Rathnasiri laments (The Island 19 Feb 2021) that the Power Ministry has ignored the President’s directive to draw 70% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. I saw the approved costs of electricity production for 2019, published by the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL).
PUCSL has also approved the prices to sell electricity to customers. Although various customers pay at various “approved” prices, the average income from such “approved” prices in 2019 was Rs 17.02 per unit. It is not only the Ministry, according to Dr Rathnasiri, ignoring the President; PUCSL is also breaking the law, which says prices and approved costs should be equal.
So there is already an illegal gap of Rs 21.59 minus 17.02 = Rs 4.57 per unit of electricity sold. If electricity prices are not to be increased, as stated by many in the government and PUCSL, let us say the following: Distribution costs should decrease by 0.57 Rs per unit. Generation costs should decrease by Rs 4.00 per unit.
PUCSL also published the approved cost of purchasing or producing electricity from various sources for 2019. The actual energy values were different to what was approved, but let us stick to PUCSL approved figures:
I suggest Dr Rathnasiri fills-up the following table, to show how much electricity will cost in 2030 to produce and deliver, if the President’s 70% target is to be achieved and for PUCSL to abide by the law. Let us assume that electricity requirement in 2030 will be double that of 2019.
Since PUCSL has to save Rs 4 from 13.92, the average selling price for energy should be Rs 13.92 minus 4.00 = Rs 9.92. With a target network loss of 7% (in 2019 it was 8.4%), the average cost of production has to be Rs 9.27 per unit. Eight cages have to be filled-up by Dr Rathnasiri.
In 2012, PUCSL approved the energy cost of electricity produced from coal power to be 6.33 Rs per kWh. In 2019, PUCSL approved 9.89 (56% increase). For renewable energy, it was 13.69 in 2012, and 19.24 in 2019 (a 40% increase, but double the price of electricity from coal fired generation). In 2012, rooftop solar was not paid for: only give and take, but now paid Rs 22, against Rs 9.89 from coal. There seems to be something wrong. The price reductions of renewable energy being promised, being insulated from rupee depreciation, are not happening? Either Sri Lanka must be paying too little for coal, or it may be renewable energy is severely over-priced?
On coal we hear only of some corruption every now and then; so Sri Lanka cannot be paying less than it costs, for coal.
Enough money even to donate
Another reason for the Ministry of Power to ignore the President’s directive may be the Ministry’s previous experience with similar Presidential directives. In 2015, the President at that time cancelled the Sampur coal-fired power plant, and the Ministry faithfully obliged. That President and that Prime Minister then played ball games with more power plants until they were thrown out of power, leaving a two-billion-dollar deficit (still increasing) in the power sector. Not a single power plant of any description was built.
Where is this deficit? You do not have to look far. In the second table, replace 24.43 with 9.89, to reflect what would have happened if Sampur was allowed to be built. The value 12.79 will go down to 8.55, well below the target of Rs 9.27 per unit to produce. Not only would CEB and LECO report profits, but the government too could have asked for an overdraft from CEB to tide over any cash shortfalls in the treasury. All this with no increase in customer prices. Producers of electricity from renewable energy could enjoy the price of 19.24 Rs per unit. And that blooming thing on your rooftop can continue to enjoy Rs 22 per unit. The Minister of Power, whom Dr Rathnasiri wants to replace with an army officer, would have been the happiest.
In the absence of Sampur (PUCSL’s letter signed by Chairman Saliya Mathew confirmed cancellation and asked CEB not to build it), PUCSL approved electricity to be produced at Rs 21.59 and sold at Rs 17.02 per unit. The annual loss would be Rs (21.59 – 17.02) x 15,093 = Rs 69 billion per year of approved financial loss. Sri Lanka has a Telecom regulator, an Insurance regulator, a Banking regulator, who never approve prices below costs. Sometime ago the telecom regulator asked the operators to raise the prices, when operators were proposing to reduce prices amidst a price war. But the electricity industry regulator is different: he approves costs amounting to 27% more than the price, not just once but, but continuously for ten long years !
That is 370 million dollars per year as of 2019, the economy is spending, and for years to come, to burn oil (and say we have saved the environment). Did the Minister of Health say we are short of 160 million dollars to buy 40 million doses of the vaccine? Well, being a former Minister of Power, she now knows which Presidential “order” of 2015 is bleeding the economy of 370 million dollars per year, adequate to buy all vaccines and donate an equal amount to a needy country.
Prices are the production costs approved by PUCSL for 2019. The selling price approved by the same PUCSL was Rs 9.27 per unit.
Confusion on NGOs and NSOs in Sri Lanka
If you listen to politicians and journalists here, you will hear of that curious creature rajya novana sanvidane, a Non-State Organization (NSO). Where do you get them? In the uninstructed and dead minds of those who use those terms. In the real world, where politicians and journalists have developed minds, there are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). The United Nations is an organization set up by state parties, not by governments. It is true that agents of states, governments, make the United Nations work or fail. Governments may change but not the states, except rarely. When Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia, a new state was formed and was so recognised by the United Nations. However, the LTTE that tried to set up another state was crushed by the established state that it tried to break away from, and the UN had nothing to do with them.
This entirely unnecessary confusion, created out of ignorance, is so destructive that organizations completely loyal to the existing state, are made to be traitorous outfits, for they are ‘non-state organizations’ within the state. There are citizens of each state, but no citizens of any government. Government is but an instrument of the state. In most states there are organizations, neither of the state nor of government: religious organizations including churches. But none of them is beyond the pale of the state.
Those that speak of rajya novana sanvidane give that name partly because they have no idea of the origin of non-governmental organizations. NGOs came into the limelight, as donor agencies, noticed that some governments, in East Africa, in particular, did not have the capacity and the integrity to use the resources that they provided. They construed, about 1970, that NGOs would be a solution to the problem. Little did they realize that some NGOs themselves would become dens of thieves and brigands. I have not seen any evaluation of the performance of NGOs in any country. There was an incomplete essay written by Dr. Susantha Gunatilleka. NGOs are alternatives to the government, not to the state.
Our Constitution emphatically draws a distinction between the government and state, and lays down that the President is both Head of Government and Head of State (Read Article 2 and Article 30 of the Constitution.) It is as head of state that, he/she is the Commander of the Armed Forces, appoints and receives ambassadors and addresses Parliament annually, when a prorogued Parliament, reconvenes. He/she presides over the Cabinet as head of government. The distinction is most clear, in practice, in Britain where Queen Elizabeth is the head of state and Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and head of government. However, in principle, Johnson is the Queen’s First Minister appointed by the sovereign, and resigns by advising her of his decision to do so.
In the US and in India the term ‘state’ has special significance. In India there is a ‘rajya sabha’ (the Council of States) whose members represent constituent States and Union Territories. Pretty much the same is true of the United States. In the US, executive power is vested in the President and heads the administration, government in our parlance. The Head of State does not come into the Constitution but those functions that one associates with a head of state are in the US performed by the President of the Republic. The US President does not speak of my state (mage rajaya) but of my administration, (mage anduva). Annually, he addresses Congress on the State of the Union. Our present President must be entirely familiar with all this, having lived there as a citizen of the US for over a decade. It is baffling when someone speaks of a past state as a traitor to that same state. It is probable that a government was a traitor to the state. ‘Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their (States’) enemies, giving them aid and comfort’. That a state was a traitor to the same state is gobbledygook.
Apart from probable confusion that we spoke of in the previous paragraph, it is probable that a president and other members of a government, including members of the governing party here, find it grandiloquent to speak of his/her/their state (mage/ape rajaya), rather than my government (mage anduva) or Sirisena anduva’ and not Sirisena state; it was common to talk of ‘ape anduva’ in 1956; politicians in 1956 were far more literate then than they are now.
When translating from another language, make sure that you understand a bit of the history of the concept that you translate. A public school in the US is not the same as a public school in the UK.