Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is all the fuss about? BBS it is best if you read this



It is futile to make generalizations about people and any group. BBS is referring to the Halal issue as a plan by the Muslim community to spread their philosophy and impose it on people. It is far from it, as most Muslim people never wanted the halal certification, and are now forced to adhere to it because it is there, and not demanded by the Muslims in general. It therefore was a way to force Muslims to use halal saying if it is not certified then you should not! This is AN underhand way to further reinforce halal on first Muslim and then optionally on others.

Do not accuse the whole Muslim community for the plans and ideas of a few, sometimes well meaning at other times devious people with personal agendas. No different to what the BBS is. They cut from the same cloth just different sides!!

I have many Muslim friends and their habits most fundamentalists will describe as heretical. However they believe in their faith very strongly, they are headstrong, many female, who wish to have freedom to do as they please. They are able to justify their behavior with the teachings of the Koran and do not wish any Mullah other than the one who pastors to advise them. They are like most of us in Sri Lanka, working, caring for their families and surviving with no intention to dictate.

It is clear one can come to terms with one’s religion, with a sense of respect but not blind adherence to rules laid down strictly interpreted by some fundamentalists. There were certain situations at the time of the beginning of Islam, that determined how and why rules of behavior were set up, and it is the fundamentalists that interpret it in a way that does not make sense to many and worse to non-Muslims, resulting in fear, misunderstanding and worse religious tension.

In the end what I believe, and what many Muslims have told me is how they lead their lives, not judging others, is what is important. There are differences of opinion with the Shia Sunni sects, so one does not have to accept one method as true and all others false! They fast, they pray, they don’t eat pork, and try and ensure the meats are halal, but they maintain, that it is absurd to check that every product is certified, by checking processes ingredients and how foods are prepared. What is the logic for a water bottle to be halal certified, when a certification does not guarantee it and only offers peace of mind, not fool proof certification? It is how God wants them to behave. It is about being modest, not covering one’s hair. They are the most wonderful of my friends and are never critical of what I do, nor I of them. The principle of not being judgmental is at the heart of live and let live, as we MUST NOT create a non-existent monster to divide our amity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sri Lankan boat people! A major plank in the Australian General Election



A friend of mine in Australia, recently informed me how much the Asylum issue will play in the contentious Australian Elections due in September, but over which the two main parties Labor and Liberal will prey on the electorate’s innate sense of fear.

It is the Labor Govt. of Julia Gilard that is in power, and the polls give the opposition Liberals the edge. The Liberals are playing the race card, and immigrants card, namely that additional immigration, especially the asylum seekers are bad for the Country as evidenced in the recent crime committed by an asylum seeker.


They seek to show that Labor is soft on asylum seekers despite the reports in the Australian Press on the HRW report on allegations against the security forces in Sri Lanka.


It is as well for us in Sri Lanka to understand that what happens here can and does play a part in the election campaigns in foreign lands, and therefore the stance taken by those governments are often more for domestic political reasons as it is for international and humanitarian reasons.

It is easy to see how one party seeks to attack the policies of the present government as being biased towards asylum seekers who should be sent back, despite the claims of torture if they return. So both articles in the links above are arguments put forth by either side in this campaign, and depending on what the populace accept as being a more reasonable approach, can alter the outcome of an election.

I often, painted this Government governs by fear, rather than love for the people and a sense of doing justice to all who live here. If all fails, play the fear of race card to win the hearts of a substantial section easily frightened into believing lies.

Similarly too in Australia, using fear of a country overrun by criminal foreigners is an election gimmick used to fool the electorate there, and the bogey men always is the hapless SL refugee or the hapless SL Govt. is fair game in ‘fair dinkum’ land in a game of poker for power!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Election of the Pope – Sri Lanka has one more vote than Britain!


AND MAYBE EVEN IRELAND!!!!!

Who would have believed it? Sri Lanka has one cardinal amongst 117 in the College of Cardinals who will vote for the next Pope. Britain has NONE. The only Cardinal from Scotland was just asked to resign yesterday by the outgoing Pope amidst allegations of sexual impropriety, and so will not be able to go to Rome to vote. It is also interesting to note that Malcolm Ranjith was named as a possible successor to the Pope due to his connections inside the Vatican! So we never know!

Anyway there is pressure on the Cardinal of all Ireland also to refrain from going to Rome to vote due to serious allegations in the dominant Irish Catholic Church about a string of abuses, which had not been suitably investigated, prosecuted and held to account. So if one looks at the Catholic History in Sri Lanka, the Irish nuns who played a major role in establishing the faith in Sri Lanka, along with no doubt Irish Priests, the then largest human resource export from Ireland, may not even have a Cardinal in Rome to cast a vote!

The world moves in mysterious ways, and it is something to ponder on. It shows that the Catholic Church is in decline morally and in numbers in the Countries that espoused it and protected it, and is growing in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where it is likely that more than even odds for a Pope to be appointed from.

It is also an exercise in speculation, but what if, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith becomes Pope. I know the odds are long, but nevertheless being a Vatican insider and a strong backer of the current Pope, he may get his blessings.

He is an administrator who at 65 can be a strong hand in changing the Church to one that is more in tune with the modern era, and be responsive to the congregations. What would that make him? The most powerful Sri Lankan ever!!!

How would the Bodu Bala Sena take that? Insulted or Elated. You can feel my mind turning summersaults. Hell will have no fury when headlines scream “Is SL a Catholic Country” to produce a Pope. What will be the aftermath? All SL Catholics lined up and shot, as revenge for the insult. The mind boggles.

The lesson in this is as Buddhist as it gets. Life is impermanent and we must know we know nothing, have nothing, are nothing and above all are free of encumbrance.

When we reach our final destination we are free!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Norochcholai – Even the Chinese don’t want it! (back)



In Sri Lanka’s desperation for a solution to its power crisis, The Mahinda Rajapakse Government fast forwarded Norochchalai and granted the contract to a Chinese outfit, even though the CEB Engineers opposed the technology as being both obsolete and inefficient in terms of conversion ratios from use to power.

It has now emerged by an opposition legislator, that the contractor was chosen due to the US$400M commissions paid and not for the best interests of Sri Lanka. The first phase coming into operation (300MW) a few years ago, was plagued by breakdowns and fires, and there were claims and counter claims that it was because the CEB engineers were responsible for the sabotage, to prove their initial assertions. The Counter claim being that a second-hand used plant that has exceeded its useful life had been built, further accentuating the initial suspicions. As an added spanner the low quality coal imported to power the plant has also resulted in heavy losses. This whole saga would be funny if not for the cost to the people of Sri Lanka, every man woman and child. In their desperation to show capacity utilization, the CEB is running at 65% thermal today, and only 35% hydro despite being able to run 35:65 merely to falsely show a potential buyer that it is a viable project. How foolish our state salesman wishing for a sales commission are, to think that a suspicious purchaser will not see through this charade!!

The recent proposal to sell it back to the Chinese as it was too expensive to run, and the Govt. unable to pay the interest on the debt to build it, brings out into the open the previous allegations. At US$1300M, the Chinese are baulking as it is overpriced, partly due to the huge commissions that have been earned by local unscrupulous Govt. backers. China will only pay US$700M if they are allowed to do the next phase at an overpriced rate. This will further tie up SL into a future of worse financial commitments. With Sampur now history, with the Indian party pulling out, the Govt. is in a bigger bind not knowing what action to take to fill the power vacuum!!

I believe it is now time to sell it to the highest bidder whoever it may be and pay off some of the loans. The revenue may not be enough for it!! I would not go in for the future phases, as the threat of mercury poisoning, due to the coal power plant, and resulting effluent into the sea, is not worth the price of future life and health cost to the people of Sri Lanka, in their fish consumption from mercury in the fish!

We may have to go back to the drawing board on an alternative solution to the impending power crisis, and Nuclear may be the only option available, unless of course the new technology in harnessing wave power becomes economically feasible in the interim along with more wind-power plants offshore.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

International Schools – the latest missile to hit – Courtesy of the Head of State



The President called for a tighter regulation of International Schools, and in addition demanded that they teach Sinhala as a language, Sri Lanka’s History and also include Religion for their O level curriculum.

Let me tackle the issues one at a time as they can be classed as different viewpoints. With regard to tighter regulation, it is merely a politically motivated statement, understating the totally chaotic state to which the Public Education system has fallen, now resulting in the validity of exam results being questioned.

It is therefore very disingenuous of the President to demand regulation of this sector, most of which have been allowed to operate as BOI registered companies, that are run for profit.

In my opinion, all schools must be guided by a set of principles and the Public, Private and International sector have unique responsibilities peculiar to their status, as the first must ensure public funds are spent in a regulated manner, whilst the second, which also conforms to the rules of the department of education and offer local and foreign exams to a different set of rules. The International sector should also come under some basic rules of operation, mainly to protect the children from breaking local laws, and the parents from unscrupulous operators who make demands on fees and deposits unrelated to the normal business practices of a school. IT IS NOT in the interest of the International Schools to come under the same regulations for public schools, as no public money is involved, except the conferring of BOI status that nevertheless gives them tax exempt status, that bestows accountability towards the body granting this status.

Taking the second point, where Sinhala is deemed a necessary subject, I do not think it is practical as there will be a list of exemptions of pupils who qualify. It must be offered to parents who wish their children to go to International Schools, primarily due to the poor quality of the public education system, and would nevertheless wish their children to learn the local language. 

So it MUST be an optional available subject that MUST be offered at all schools to satisfy a basic requirement of local students. As these schools conduct their classes in English, one would also expect Tamil to be offered. These latter two requirements are bound to increase the costs of these schools, and therefore fees. There is no such thing as painless. All the suggestions include costs, all of which will be passed on to the pupil. I am sure the President in making the statements, did not consider this inevitability! A practical outlook should further refine the requirements.

Whilst saying that the Govt. must put the State Education system in order before venturing into the realms of international schools, that is not to say that at the same time regulation that is basic must still be applied to this sector, which educates Sri Lankan children, and there are basic norms we require from our youngsters.

The issue with regards to teaching Sri Lankan history is rich when considering the total ignorance of state school kids about history due to the nature in which this subject is taught. If the state school history subject is re-evaluated to one that is not politically biased, then an element of Sri Lankan History should be included, but as the O levels are not offered in those subjects, it is moot whether it is practical, with  none taking it up as a subject and schools offering, dropping it for lack of demand!

When it comes to making religion compulsory, I am personally against it, as one who did not offer religion at O levels. In my opinion, religion MUST be restricted even in state schools to the Sunday School education of children to follow their own religion. Offering a very structured by rote O level, actually removes religious teaching in schools today, to merely knowing facts to pass exams, and not practice of faith, teaching morality, behavior and following customs, which are the cornerstone in the practice of most religions.

Forcing state school children to offer religion in Sri Lanka today, does not make them better human beings in society, and further restricts the knowledge they can gain in schools, from the core subjects a student should learn during his school days. Religion is one that can be refined and updated even after one’s schooling and offers advantages to some religions over others in the ease of their knowledge further destabilizing the playing field currently destabilized depending on the language the student offers at O levels as his principle fluency.

I gather that a lobby group has been set up to tackle the politically biased attack by the President, but clearly disturbing the International Schools, galvanizing them into action. I presume that the President was goaded into making these statements as a result of the seemingly unassailable advantage conferred on them, by default by the parlous state of the Public Education system in which parents have completely lost faith. If they now cannot put their children into private schools, they have only the International Schools to turn to. 

Now that prestigious state schools are prohibitively expensive to put children into, even the cost of these international schools in some instances are not that much higher when considering all the other costs, of transport, tuition and sundries demanded. Let us hope this debate presumes the best interest of the student at heart and not other agendas.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It is a sign of the times – We need to be more focused about our objectives





The bold decision of the Pope to resign is the best thing that has happened to the Catholic Church in a long period. I believe it is an omen for greater change to make the Church more relevant. The first Pope to make this decision in 7 centuries means that it should not become the norm.

The Vatican is like running a huge multinational company and the Pope its CEO. One has to be of sound mind, and have the stamina for the job, and when one is unable to carry out the tasks they should gracefully step down. Never mind it is Religion at the Apex of it all, that should not detract from the fact that God’s servants have a job at hand. Recent decision of the Archibishop of Canterbury the head of the Anglican Church to resign while still quite capable is also an indication that the job should only be for a reasonable period with NO stipulation on term limits.

I do hope there is a sea change in attitude at the Conclave that decides on the new Pope. I would like to see a decision that sees younger and more capable Cardinals appointed on the understanding that if they are not up to the challenge they resign and give someone else a chance. It does create more dynamics that did not exist previously but it will give the followers of that Church the confidence that it is being led by someone up to the task and the responsibility being able to manage the various tasks.

The Challenges ahead will include bringing in other Christian Churches into the fold, and permitting priests to marry, all inevitable in the scheme of things and is only a matter of time. The Celibacy of the Priesthood is merely Church Canon Law that can be changed by the Church and not something that the Religion has decreed. It was done for convenience and the belief that to be a servant of God, one had to devote all of one’s energies to that calling!

Along with the above I do believe the issue of women priests will also have to be faced as an inevitable consequence of the demands and shortages of men to take the vocation. These challenges can only be met with capable people at the helm being able to carefully and tactfully manage different thought processes within the church without putting the Church’s very foundations into question.

So the College of Cardinals tasked with your new appointment, know ye that the Pope is not one for life, but for useful life, and the onus will be on the magnanimous individual to choose his time of departure at the right moment!

The Pope leaves on the 28th of February into retirement and a new Pope will be elected within two weeks thereafter. There must be a lot of jockeying of theories and people going on in the various corridors of the Vatican as the College of Cardinals, namely those under 80 who are able to vote.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Career Diplomats – I thought you were beyond this! Shame on you

Reading the missive from the soon to be ex-Ambassador to Italy, Asitha Perera, it is apparent that he is not making things up as he has no need to find excuses as to why he was fired! Why would he need to blame anyone if blame was not due?


I would therefore point the finger at the Foreign Service officers who see their chances of promotions stifled by the political appointees, and therefore do their best to clip their wings. I do agree that there are too many political appointees, but that is primarily due to the incompetence of many in the Foreign Service who have entered that service due to poor recruitment of people totally unsuitable for international appointments. In short they are no Jayantha Dhanapalas.

So my attack is directed at career officers not all of them mind you, as there are those like Ravinatha who went into it a little more mature, who has the ability to manage a strong posting such as EU and now Geneva with aplomb. I am willing to give the whole Foreign Service, a three day residential workshop about how to conduct yourselves in the interests of the Country and not your personal agendas. 

There are many anomalies that you have to get used to, the least of which is the difference in your compensation from that paid when you are working from your home country. It is important that you do not have to supplement your income by promising spurious job opportunities and letting the dignity of your country down by giving it a bad name.

If what Asitha Perera says, even has a grain of truth in it as it must, your complicity in his demise must be owned, and if you are unable to replace him by one who is better able to do his job better, and also not get involved in working on personal agendas, and self upliftment then you had better hold your tongue. The Foreign Affairs Ministry gets lot of criticism too, and I am sorry that they have also stooped to the same level of pettiness, when they should be above it.

It looks like these deal makers will not be happy till the high profile non career diplomats are removed, so that they can continue to behave in a bureaucratic mindset with the portrayal of Sri Lanka suffering in the international stage, by both their conduct and incompetence. Until professionalism is restored and political appointments to the Foreign Service and External Affairs Ministry done away with, we will continue to see a level of incompetence in our foreign representation.

Sri Lanka has a long way to go to restore the confidence in the Foreign Service, both to better serve our citizens in those countries and at the same time represent our country’s interests in those foreign lands in a professional manner.

When my Grandfather a political appointment was Ambassador in Rome in the 1950's he preferred to walk to the Embassy from his apartment, something one would probably not wish to do these days, whilst many a foreign ambassador in Italy from other countries still do. He made it a point to learn Italian, so that upon his return 4 years later he was fluent in the language, completely fooling Italians into believing that he was an Italian! 

So it is all part of the general training of basic concepts, which our career diplomats today, do not have. It is partly the fault of our education system, but also the fault of our training systems for these officers. Hence my offer of training them and setting guidelines so they represent their country as professional officers. In fact political appointees except for protocol procedures are better able to carry themselves in their posts than many a foreign service officer.

The debate resulting from the missive referred to at the beginning will grow in the next week, in the media and one is bound to have opinions on how this state of events is handled, spread and generally discussed in public fora.

We can see another example of why we in Sri Lanka are not particularly efficient in the conduct of our foreign policy and keep falling into these traps set by our own people.

Why are we put through this mill again? – and why don’t our people rise up?



The international community is biting at the bit to begin the next stage of the UNHRC trial. How is it that our people have not been able to understand that it is because of the cowardice of our Leaders? It is because they have referred the blame for the international condemnation to the Tamil Diaspora, as it sounds credible to the domestic audience and further stand on Territorial Integrity to defend their right to prevent any interference of the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

It is because both these concepts while sounding credible are bankrupt ideals, in the context of the accusations. It is clear that the LLRC commission report was never going to be implemented, despite protestations by the Government of their commitment to do so. I believe no one in Sri Lanka is surprised at the turn of events, even though it is possible that our overseas friends and enemies had given us the benefit of the doubt. The Coming resolution against SL will be used as PR for the Govt. internal crises suppression to redirect against the UNHRC!

It is important to understand that active interference by the use of force is not foreseeable, being used only in extreme cases of conflict, which we are not currently engaged in. Indirect interference using Indian espionage however is already in existence. I referred to the R2P concept in the previous blog entry, as a justification for interference by outside parties, but it takes a while for that to be implemented and SL is nowhere near that point. However where we are near is the forces ganging up against Sri Lanka to destabilize our country, as we have acted in ways that direct interested countries to destabilize our economy due to our intransigence.

I maintain that our country is not diplomatically savvy in understanding the global dynamics, as our education system has not taught us to think through the consequences, and realize that every action has a reaction. We do not think of the reaction when we act. We have obviously shot ourselves straight from the ricochet of the bullet that we fired, which missed the target completely.

The Government has for a start appeared to make a heartening step of using Ruvinath our Ambassador to take charge of our response to the UNHRC demands, and to send experts in their respective fields to respond. Govt. ministers and officials do not behave in a civilized manner in international fora being more arrogant in a way they behave at home, which is not acceptable in diplomatic circles as acceptable behavior in resolving disputes. Again, due to poor planning, we take years to complete the job that could have been finished in a few months.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The silence of our moderate religious leaders is deafening!!!


Where are ALL the moderate religious leaders of all religions? They must get together and make a pledge to fight extremism from within their ranks, with the representation of the majority religion being essential and critical and MUST provide leadership to a multifaith initiative to allay the fears of religious minorities.

I know there are many Muslims and Christians who do not know what to do with this new turn of events. There are those who are planning to leave the country, there are others who want to keep their investments and wealth outside the shores of Sri Lanka in case of urgency. There are still others that are funding extreme fringe groups to counter this force of the majority community, namely the BBS, which can only lead to disaster. In this situation it is an extremists delight. They have the upper hand in their fund raising saying that they are the force to defend their religion or race against attack. Otherwise how does one think the LTTE was able to raise such an obscene amount of money to fight this war for so long.

We in Sri Lanka gave them all the ammunition (pardon the pun) to find the funds to buy the ammunition. It is history repeating itself again and our leaders (moderate) cannot see that far.

What or who are we waiting for? It is imperative that we join forces and work as one in defeating all extremism. We are currently giving coverage to hate more than reconciliation and unity. Why is that? Does that provide more news for the media, and keep the journalists employed? We must look further than tomorrow at the legacy of this action, of the consequences, and act with restraint, and cunning in preventing the rise of factions of extremist myths propounded by people who without the myth will not have an audience of even one!

Rabble rousing is the specialty of some people. They do it because they are good at it and are effective and they know they can exert immense power over gullible and foolish people. The President is also one of them, who can do the same due to the position he holds and the way that position is portrayed in the media. It is therefore up to him personally to intervene to stop a further expansion of this sectarian philosophy born out of hate and pettiness. It is a historic opportunity to show leadership at a moment when it is desperately needed for the unity of the nation.

It is incredibly sad that with the windfall of goodwill arising from the cessation of hostilities it has not just eroded, in fact reversed into badwill, something that history will show as making MR one of SL’s worst rulers in its 2500 year history.

A wholly unnecessary benefit, the car permits – except if you get one!



Economics is the most efficient use of scarce resources available to a country and how it contributes to the development of an economy. – My definition

When Sri Lanka issues a few thousand duty free permits a year to a set of people that the Government from time to time deems deserve this privilege, it completely skews the efficient use of scarce resource theory. It builds inefficiencies into the system. I do not know of another country that offers benefits to a selected few, changing the goal posts as a gift for services rendered.

Lately the Govt. has formalized what was previously an informal arrangement where car permits are now available for sale to the highest bidder by permitting their sale. Very soon we will hear of a weekly auction of car permits, as the most efficient way to dispose of your permit, and best way to find a market at the least cost to you sans a broker who used to make his cut on the deal.

Therefore the grant of a permit is actually a grant of a non taxable benefit to some. Apart from MPs senior public servants and other public staff, such as professors, doctors in govt. service, judges and an assortment of people that the Govt. deem from time to time receive a permit. They now include people who have hardly been in public service, where previously one had to serve in a job for a certain number of years before qualifying. Lately members of a commission also were granted!

It must also be noted that the value of a vehicle on permit granted to one may vary depending on your particular status. So a Minister may be permitted up to say US$50K whilst a MP for US$40K and for a Provincial Councilor US$30K and so on. This amount also varies and has been increased to take account of the increases in prices. In this way it is usually luxury cars that benefit from this permit. I must confess I do not know if there is a token amount of duty that is payable as those with no permit have to pay over 300% in duty to get down a new car. All in all the value of a permit today can be as high as Rs10M which is more than the average worker earns in his whole working life in Sri Lanka!

The consequence of removing this from perks will correct an anomalous situation where some have to pay tens of millions to purchase a vehicle where a permit holder has to pay a fraction, with the difference being the loss to the treasury in not receiving the duty on that vehicle. It also creates a problem where due to the permit in existence a person who has purchased a permit may be able to sell a car at a profit for less than a person who pays full price for it and see the drop on delivery.
Another basic fact is that an expensive sport utility vehicle, that is heavy on gas and very expensive to maintain, is a purchase of choice with the permit as price is less than a third of what one would have to pay with duty. This adds bogus status to the purchaser whilst the total cost is less than what an ordinary person may have to pay for a Toyota Corolla. It creates a lust for these uneconomical cars not being driven for the purposes for which it was made, but to add kudos to a politician, where the electorate has been massaged to believe one without such accoutrements is not worthy of one’s vote, distorting electoral politics too!! Often these politicians get a loan from a friend to make this purchase and make sure the friend is well rewarded by awarding lucrative contracts, encouraging wholesale corruption.

I am not one to be jealous of such practices, but I believe this anomaly distorts too many economic goals. It is better to pay the politician a proper wage than try and force this sort of unnecessary luxury on a person!

Yesterday there was the news item that January’s BMW registrations were up by 281% albeit in total numbers is not great, but in the SL context notable in the manner certain segments of the population are benefitting while the registrations of the Indian Maruti has dropped so low that the surplus stock will take a few years to sell unless the dealer re-exports it!

It must be remembered that in SL which is one of the lowest tax countries on earth for the wealthy, taxing luxury vehicles heavily was one way in which the wealthy would be taxed and many would wish to purchase luxury vehicles. So eliminating this by way of duty free vehicles went against this basic principal of equity.

In the same vein it is one of the highest tax countries for the poor, where even the sugar, salt, flour, potato, onions, canned fish, maldive fish that the average person consumes is heavily taxed; to say nothing of tobacco and alcohol. The govt. depends on the poorer classes of people (includes the wealthy but their spend as a percentage of their income is minuscule on such products) to support its spending, its wastage, its maintenance of a record number of ministers and ministries and a hugely profligate presidency which alone consumes over Rs10B annually, primarily to spread its reach in the form of a PR exercise that is not productive.

This will sound as a very unpopular move, as benefits cut affects people’s perceptions more than benefits given, but this must be a step in the right direction along with the recent reintroduction of personal income tax for public officials who have hitherto been exempt. The economic benefit to the Country will be immediate

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The re-demarcation of local authority boundaries on ethnic or religious lines!



The next local council elections will be held on a different basis, which is a hybrid of a PR system along with one where there is a first past the post for a demarcated territory. So for example when there is a territory that has two communities, Sinhala and Tamil, then if people vote on ethnic lines, an ethnic party may have a distinct advantage over a traditional non ethnic party that fields a candidate. It must be remembered that was the reason for multi member constituencies so that both communities would be represented. What will be the preference of the voters? I suspect again it will be on ethnic lines for minorities as we have not got over, especially in areas of mixed communities, our fear of people of different races.

I would ideally like to dream that this country is race blind, but I am a realist and therefore it may be most appropriate to demarcate each ward in a local authority area by ethnic mix if there is such a pocket to get ethnic representation! If one takes Bambalapitiya in Colombo, the ethnic mix has changed over the years into one where the Tamil population is probably the largest, then Muslim and only finally Sinhala. It is impossible to demarcate as all three communities live side by side and so we must hope that people will vote for party and not race or religion.

The JHU wants it to be completely color blind and NOT segregate into ethnic lines. Who will benefit from that policy? This is going to be a first past the post system for that ward, and if we have say 8 political parties with 3 being religious with JHU NOT being one of them as they will contest with the UPFA banner, then the votes of the ethnic community that say get 20% of the vote may win, as all the other parties share 80% and the winner just gets more votes than the second placed.

Will the JHU be happy with a Muslim Congress candidate winning if the Muslims vote for that candidate knowing they may be able to win that ward? Whilst the Sinhala majority vote is split amongst all the National parties contesting the election, including the UPFA, UNP and the JVP and a sprinkling of fringe parties and even a TNA where all the Tamils vote for them, the Muslim party will win!

That is why I have been opposed to any race or religion based party, as it can skew the outcome of an election that gives minority representation, and if in this case a Muslim from the Muslim Congress is elected, then will he help anyone else in his area other than fellow Muslims (20%), resulting in racial or religious intolerance!

So just think about a practical solution which will prevent the inevitable fallout.
In Today’s papers, Minister Dinesh Gunewardene advising the Commitee that is doing the redistricting, has requested it be Ethnic blind in their demarcation. That is fair as whatever one does except having an area which is almost exclusively one ethnic community, WILL NOT ensure representation from that community.

These issues do not arise from a mature democracy, but I hasten to remind the reader of the incredibly convoluted redistricting of US Congressional Electorates aimed at ensuring minority representation. This is to ensure that minorities are represented in Congress, from whatever party.

The answer to that in our system is for the members the party appoints on the PR basis reflect the area’s minority representation fairly and the onus is on the political parties concerned so to do without mandating. The same would arise for gender as mandating will not necessarily ensure balanced representation of people of caliber.

A further complication in the SL electoral process is the caste issue when it comes to voting, especially in Provinces such as the Central Province, where in certain electorates, people of a caste different to the majority representation has little chance of election. Ironically though caste is seen as less important, when it comes to elections, and arranged marriage, it seems to raise its ugly head as an issue of importance.

Of course we must educate the electorate to look beyond, age, gender, caste, creed and race when making choices amongst candidates, and instead choose who they believe to be the best candidate for the job. It is easier said than done. However the demarcation commissions must look ahead to this utopia and how they could assist us in that direction by making enlightened decisions with regard to the redistricting of boundaries for the next local government elections.

All political parties will have a problem as they can only pick ONE candidate to represent them in the first past the post system for that area. So the infighting now will be in who to pick and the disappointment and the resulting reaction of those not appointed who believe they should be the first choice to contest!

The PR system gave that privilege to the street fight during elections to secure the vote, here it is at the stage of appointment of the candidate to represent one’s party. Already there are behind the scenes activity taking place to jockey for power to be the candidate of the political party for an area. The political parties MUST use this opportunity to create competition, so one can see if there is a clear winner. In doing so, the party should use this opportunity to increase its grass roots representation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

United Kingdom – Your inability to speak out for your own is pathetic/ tragic


A British Citizen was shot at in Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia (a popular hangout area for tourists) in a tourist guest house, three days ago, and mercifully one bullet grazed his neck lodging in his body without killing him. All the UK can do is to express regret!!!! If he died, what would you have done? Oh heck “he is just a journalist in Sri Lanka and that is part of his job spec to be targeted” so its just another day in paradise, what’s new! That is simply tragic, disgraceful and downright hypocritical.

14 months ago another British Citizen was murdered by a mob led by the Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha, while his girl friend was gang raped, and the case has not even come to trial and you remain “MUM” it gets worse doesn’t it. Where is your consideration for your citizens?

To make matters worse on the following day instead of the UK government expressing disgust, by recalling its High Commissioner and making a statement that all British Citizens in Sri Lanka, and those contemplating going to Sri Lanka go at their own risk as the UK Govt. cannot guarantee their safety! The papers in the UK, headlines I might add, scream about a paltry piss pot 2Mill pounds in arms being sold to SL, which was promptly denied by the forever denying Sri Lankan Military Spokesman, as being a downright lie and fabrication by the UK papers.

Has the Country that once held sway over half the world and the sun never set on its Empire, now nothing more than a spineless fakir!

Think about it, this is what the UK has become to the rest of the world. So does it even matter to the Rajapakse administration if the Prime Minister of the UK does not attend the CHOGM? No not at all! He has now become irrelevant.

You guys should have made such a hue and cry that should have made the headlines in all SL papers on Sunday and Monday, that would have put the Regime on notice to actually do something about apprehending the culprits. Instead this will be another case of “swept under the carpet”.

I believe the British High Commissioner in Colombo, has become a seat warmer, happy to enjoy his best Tea in the world syndrome, by not ruffling feathers, so he does not get kicked out for being decent! He just wants his promotion from post to post, so he can retire in some farmhouse in the Cotswolds with happy memories of his cocktail circuit life and hob-nobbing with the some guttersnipes in Colombo, happily bullshitting at his local pub about his days being festooned in Colombo.

If you thought I was some anti British Neanderthal (informal meaning of the word) you are far from it, but I think the UK, by the action of its bureaucrats are Neanderthal (formal meaning of the word) not a patch on your past. I believe the Cameron Govt. also should share some of the blame, but the diplomats in Colombo must advise their superiors so that the Foreign Office in London can issue the press statements in the appropriate degree of condemnation, and not pussyfoot.

To give credibility to statements above, which I standby, I had all the qualifications of joining the Foreign Service in the UK and could have been posted one day as the HC in Colombo. I have voted in UK elections since at least the 1974 Miners Strike election when the country was plunged into darkness in a Wilson/Callaghan Administration, having lived there for a total of 18 years. I applied for citizenship in the UK so long ago, but did not bother taking it up when the letters came, even forfeiting the 50pound fee that one paid at the time upon application. UK educated, UK tax payer and contributed immensely to UK economic growth, not sponging off the state for anything, except being subsidized at University level.

Diplomatic niceties are not what’s needed today. If wanton lawlessness prevails in Sri Lanka, you must use every opportunity, especially a situation when your own citizens are involved to defend their interests and thereby express the sentiments of your administration, without being led by a set of bankrupt policies and innuendo by the GTF (Global Tamil Forum) that is taking the UK administration for a ride, with half truths, to give mental satisfaction to the Tamil Diaspora living in the UK, to justify their exile there!

It is time that newly born UK citizens of Tamil extraction are not fed a diet of falsities perpetuating hatred to another set of people who had nothing to do with their parent’s (blame all for the sins of a few) guilt. The only way to prevent a lie from being spread is to prevent access to fringe groups to overshadow the very important goals of British Foreign Policy of attempting to retain a moral high ground when there is wholesale breach of human behavioral norms.

Otherwise one would also be seen to be guilty of the same crime, not wishing to both upset the applecart and get fingers pointed at atrocities in Afghanistan or Iraq in modern day or colonial history in earlier times. None of that is relevant despite the attempts of the current administration to resurrect that to justify their behavior.

So High Commissioner it is not too late to save your Citizens from being massacred and at the same time getting some self respect along the way from your fellow boozers in the local pub for protecting the stiff upper lip from sagging! 

Get on the blower and get Cameron who is just a hop away in India to make a statement from there. I am sure New Delhi would be delighted and he will get a few bonus points from them too.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moneragala – hive of crime courtesy of elected politicians and their kith and kin


The ruling UPFA MUST share most of the responsibility for the crime in that area and for the fact that it is the politicians and their kith and kin who are mostly responsible for the gravest of the crimes that relate to Sand Mining, Ganja Cultivation, Illegal Logging and other highly lucrative illegal activity.

It is the duty of the supposedly upright IGP (that is if he still is as upright as he was when he was appointed) not to give into pressure and transfer officers who are actually carrying out their duties in that area to the best of their ability. There are still officers within the Police Force who put country before Politicians and who are trying desperately to carry out the tasks legally entrusted to them.

A man such as DIG Latiff who was responsible for both the Badulla and Moneragala Districts has just been relieved of his duties in Moneragala. See link below:


His prosecution of illegal activity has resulted in some politicians, whose henchmen are the criminals, appealing to their patrons in Colombo to put weight on the IGP to get the diligent officer removed, neigh even prosecuted for doing his job properly. We do not want to live in a country where only Police who break the law are permitted to operate. We want a Police Force of competent incorruptible officers, which the President on innumerable occasions at passing out parades has called for amongst the officers. Let us follow those words with action.

It is time for these sick politicians to be outed and names plastered nationally as criminals and harboring criminals. It is up to the President to set an example, so that these scoundrels are brought to book and others who attempt or in the business of crime also desist knowing their time is now up and cannot hide under his sarong

It is time that people realize that if this government is capable of winning a war with the LTTE it surely is able to catch and prosecute a few too bit local goons without any fear. What is the point of making the country safe from LTTE terrorists when we cannot rely on the police force for our safety, believing them to be also criminalized? It is a joke and why people cannot see this irony is beyond my capacity to reason! The law must apply fairly to all. The Govt. or UPFA should not be immune from the laws applicable to all. It is as simple as that.

I know the general consensus of the population is that the law does not apply to Govt. representatives and wealthy. That illegality is considered acceptable or inevitable is rubber stamping daylight robbery and is the sign of a banana republic! We the civil society must keep up the pressure at the cost of our security to reestablish law and order where it has broken down as clearly shown here.