September 2015

Roadmap to reconciliation: 4 post-election challenges for Sri Lanka

6th September 2015 // 0 Comments

These are critical times for Sri Lanka. This week the country completed its second round of elections this year. A coalition led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe scored a narrow victory. By contrast, presidential elections held in January ended in a surprise victory for Maithripala Sirisena, a veteran government minister who broke ranks with Mahinda Rajapaksa. A notable feature of the latest election was Sirisena’s decision effectively to back the opposition coalition running against his own party, while also refusing to countenance Rajapaksa’s return to power under any circumstances. In many ways the campaign was a referendum on continued Rajapaksa rule. He lost, however, and Sri Lanka can now look to its future rather than its past. While the Sirisena-Rajapaksa standoff may become less prominent, […]

Finding peace in post-war Sri Lanka

5th September 2015 // 0 Comments

Finding peace in post-war Sri Lanka Six years have passed since Sri Lankan forces ended their 26-year war with separatist Tamil Tigers. But is the nation any closer to achieving reconciliation and justice for victims of conflict? Rights groups say the country’s lack of accountability in addressing wartime abuses has led to a post-conflict environment where violations are still happening. Between 1972 and 2009, at least 100,000 people were killed in conflicts between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan military. In 1983, clashes between the two groups escalated into war following a period known as Black July. The Tamil fight for a state independent of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority fueled a war that lasted nearly three decades. Both sides have been […]

Interview with APPG-T Chair MP James Berry

5th September 2015 // 0 Comments

As discussions on how to deal with the findings of the UN investigation into Sri Lanka’s mass atrocities (OISL) reach fever pitch, the newly elected chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, James Berry, spoke to the Tamil Guardian last week. Speaking ahead of the release of the UN report into mass atrocities and after meeting the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, the APPG-T chair reiterated calls for normalcy in the North-East and stressed the need for any process to deal with the findings of the OISL to have the full confidence of the victims. TG: What influenced your decision to become the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and how has your tenure been so far? The Tamil […]

Sampanthan stands tall

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

By Manekshaw Rajavarothayam Sampanthan has become the second Tamil Opposition Leader in 32 years after late Appapillai Amirthalingam who was instrumental in making Sampanthan enter Parliament with the Tamil United Liberation Front’s (TULF) landslide victory in the 1977 general election. Though Sampanthan had joined the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) led by late S.J.V. Chelvanayakam in 1952, he didn’t show any interest in entering big time politics and remained as one of the prominent criminal lawyers in Trincomalee. Popularly known as Sam among his close associates, not only the Tamil moderates, but even the Tamil militants accepted Sampanthan as an articulate political figure. When the Tamil National Alliance which was considered as a second Tamil political coalition after the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) was […]

The TNA Challenge

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

By Eelaventhan Manickavasakar – TNA as expected has got the mandate of Tamils for what they pledged in the manifesto so also Ranil. Ranil will find it easier to run the government with the support of SLEP members backed by a President Maithri who is accommodative. As a result the bargaining power which Sampanthan relied has not materialized unless and until Ranil faces a successful no confidence motion with the backing of entire opposition members. At present there is little chance by Ranil to depend on TNA except on occasions when he needs their votes. The question of Ranil meeting the election pledges of TNA is almost nil in the face of Ranil/Maithri’s combined stand. Ranil, Maithri and Mahinda have already rejected federalism. They have […]

Sri Lankan national dies in Chennai police custody

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

CHENNAI: A Sri Lankan Tamil, who was picked up in connection with a fake passport case, died in police custody in Chennai in the early hours of Friday. The deceased has been identified as Mohan, who was staying at a house in Medavakkam with his wife Fatima Sulthana and two children. He was wanted in a fake passport case being investigated by the Central Crime Branch of the Chennai police. Mohan had been absconding for the last few days. However, he returned home on Thursday night. Based on a tip, the Pallikaranai police nabbed him. While being questioned at the Pallikaranai police station, Mohan developed health complications and fell unconscious. He was rushed to Global Hospitals at Perumbakkam where doctors declared him brought dead. The […]

Vaiko for resolution against domestic probe in Sri Lanka

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

MDMK leader Vaiko called upon the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to initiate steps to pass a resolution in the Assembly opposing any move to carry out a domestic investigation into the alleged atrocities during the war in Sri Lanka in which many Tamil people were killed.  “If such a resolution is passed, I will be the first person to support the same,” he said while paying a lightning visit to the site near Palladam where the party planned to hold a conference later this month.  Mr. Vaiko told The Hindu that only an inquiry by an independent non-domestic body could bring out justice and truth. 

JVP defends appointment of Sampanthan as OL

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which defended the appointment of TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan as the Leader of the Opposition (OL), explained that the latter had been appointed in accordance with Parliamentary traditions. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that they had backed Mr. Sampanthan for the post as he was from the party that had the most number of seats among the parties in the opposition. He said the UPFA cannot claim the opposition leader’s post as it has signed an agreement with the UNP to form a joint government. He pointed out that there were only six recognized parties represented in Parliament, namely UNF, UPFA, SLMC, TNA, JVP and the EPDP. Therefore, if one of them, in this case the UPFA, […]

’50-50′ to Regionalism

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

The country’s new Opposition Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan (82), the oldest Opposition Leader the island has seen in its 68-year-old Parliamentary history, speaking in Parliament on Thursday made reference to power devolution. Sampanthan, who’s also as old as Sri Lanka’s first Executive President J.R. Jayewardene when he retired from politics in 1988, is the Leader of the TNA and a member of the Federal Party (FP). He belongs to the minority Tamil community living in the North and the East (NE) of Sri Lanka and is the oldest legislator in the current Parliament. Tamils, through their leaders in the NE have been espousing power devolution from pre-independence times. It began with G.G. Ponnambalam’s (senior) request for ’50-50′ parity status in parliamentary representation to the pre-independence Soulbury […]

Tamil question

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, 82, the Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and a Member of the Federal Party (FP), a constituent party of the TNA, was appointed as the Opposition Leader in Sri Lanka’s 8th Parliament under the present Constitution and its 15th since the eve of independence, yesterday. TNA derives its vote base largely from the Tamils living in the North and East (NE) of the country. Sampanthan first entered Parliament in 1977 on the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) ticket, representing the Trincomalee constituency. Elections in Sri Lanka under the first-past-the-post system were held for the last time in 1977. It was superseded by the Proportional Representation (PR) system. TNA was spawned from TULF. In 1977, then TULF Leader Appapillai Amirthalingam representing the […]

GTF appreciates Sampanthan’s appointment, praises Prez, PM

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

Welcoming the appointment of TNA Chief R. Sampanthan, MP, as the Leader of the Opposition, the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday said that in Tamil speaking people’s struggle to achieve equality, justice, peace, respect and prosperity through democratic means, the step of appointing the new Speaker of Parliament in line with constitutional and parliamentary conventions had given them a glimmer of hope. Widely believed to be the most influential Diaspora grouping, the GTF praised President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for taking meaningful measures to address contentious issues. The following is the full text of a statement issued by UK based GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran in response to a query by The Island: “In this journey, it is encouraging that the most senior […]

Career and Skills Summit coincides with President’s ambition: British HC

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

by Sanath Nanayakkare James Dauris, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka The Career and Skills Summit which is to be held in Colombo encompassing 75 top companies across 7 industries with prospective job offers for skilled UK graduates and youth with UK qualifications seems to coincide with President Maithripala Sirisena’s ambition to develop the human capital of young Sri Lankans, James Dauris – British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives said Wednesday. When the British Council launched ‘Opportunities’ – Career and Skills Summit over a breakfast meeting at the Westminster House, the British High Commissioner further said,” Having this meeting with employers of Sri Lankan business entities here today is an opportune way of quickly following on from the President’s address to new parliament […]

Leader of Opposition Sampanthan to ensure that there is an acceptable solution to the Tamil question

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO: R.Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader and the new Leader of Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament, has suggested that substantial power be devolved to three to five regions in the country to enable their Chief Ministers to serve the people in the best possible manner. Speaking in parliament after being appointed Leader of Opposition on Thursday, Sampanthan said: “I was thinking to myself this morning, rather than having so many ministers at the Center, why can’t we have 3-5 regions in this country vested with substantial powers of governance? There are many young members of parliament who can be excellent Ministers and Chief Ministers in those regions. Give them maximum power and allow them to rule various parts of this country in such […]

Sri Lankan PM told Clinton had forgotten the Monica Lewinsky episode and should focus on her own backyard,

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The recently released emails of US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, reveal that Sri Lanka’s strong reaction to the then secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s 2009 remarks over use of rape as an instrument of war unleashed an intense internal debate, which ultimately led to a partial retraction. On Sep 30, 2009, Clinton said at the UNSC that rape had been “used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma and Sri Lanka and elsewhere”. This had led to a big outcry in Lanka, with an official protest being lodged. The retraction came in the context of the victory that the Sri Lankan army achieved in its decade-long civil war against the Tigers with general international consensus that Colombo should be given space […]

Government would now seek to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

No previous govt had such overwhelming two-thirds majority-retired armed forces rep War veteran reminds opposition of its responsibility by Shamindra Ferdinando Former UPFA Southern Provincial Council member and convenor of an organisation representing the interests of the armed forces,  yesterday said that the UNP-SLFP coalition was meant to achieve a two-thirds majority in parliament. Maj. Prasanna described accommodating TNA leader R. Sampanthan, MP, as the leader of the Opposition as a key element in the joint UNP-SLFP strategy. Prasanna had been with the Sixth battalion of the Sinha Regiment (6SR) at the time of his discharge consequent to injuries suffered in a major confrontation in the Jaffna peninsula in early 90s. Attorney-at-law Prasanna said that the UNP could have easily engineered much more than the […]

First genuine National Government – Mangala

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

In the wake of TNA leader R. Sampanthan’s appointment as the Leader of the Opposition, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera declared that the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was the first genuine National Government in post-independence Sri Lanka. The following is the full text of the statement issued by Minister Samaraweera: “Today, the 3rd of September 2015, will be remembered as a red letter day in Sri Lanka’s political history. For the first time since Independence a National Government has been formed with Parliamentary approval: Sri Lanka’s two main political parties can now work together to address the many unsolved challenges facing our country. The recognition of Mr. R. Sampanthan as Leader of the Opposition has also made this a red letter day; heralding a new era of unity, consensus and […]

Monkey Wimal Weerawansa slams President Maithripala Sirisena

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa today slammed President Maithripala Sirisena over some of his actions, including with regards to the opposition leader post. Speaking in Parliament today, Weerawansa said that the President has continuously worked against the UPFA at the Parliamentary elections. He said the President never took part in UPFA election rallies or attended press conferences in support of the UPFA ahead of election day. He insisted that the UPFA is also not part of the National Government and instead it is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which has a deal with the United National Party (UNP). The UPFA member said that whatever President Sirisena has said is not part of the UPFA policy […]

TNA agrees to give post of Chief Opposition Whip to JVP

4th September 2015 // 0 Comments

The TNA has agreed to give the post of Chief Opposition Whip in Parliament to JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, party sources said. When the post of the Opposition Leader was obtained by a party usually the post of Chief Opposition Whip, too, went to the same party. Yet, the TNA had decided to hand that opportunity over to the JVP, TNA parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said. JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said that his party would accept the position because it belonged to the Opposition. TNA and JVP will work in the interest of the people of Sri Lanka. Sampathan welcomes nationalgovt, frowns on jumbo cabinet Delivering his first speech as the leader of the opposition, the TNA MP Sampanthan said he would […]

Culture of excessive number of ministers must end – Sampanthan

3rd September 2015 // 0 Comments

Sri Lanka’s new Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan today said that while a national government in the present context in the country may be a national need, it would have been better if the two parties would have been able to come together without an increase in the number of ministries. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today recognized the TNA Parliamentary Group Leader as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Accepting the position with humility, Sampanthan said that they will support the government on issues where it is justified and that they will oppose the government when it is in national interest to do so. “We will extend our fullest support to all parties and members in the opposition and we will work closely with them […]

Eastern University Massacre: Missing, Missing, Missing For 25 Years

3rd September 2015 // 0 Comments

By Thangamuthu Jayasingam –  Officer in charge of the Vantharumoolai refugee camp, 1990 Many may not know that, when 5th September 2015 dawns, it will be 25 years of waiting for 158 families, who ‘lost’ a member or two on that day of 5th September 1990 from the VANTHARUMOOLAI REFUGEE CAMP at EASTERN UNIVERSITY. They did not go missing as usual, where no one knew where they went. In this case these 158 were ‘handed over’/ ‘taken over’ by the Sri Lankan Military in front of a population of nearly 40,000 people. They were forced into buses and were driven away in the direction of Valaichenai. This was the last time anyone saw any of them, to date. Unfortunately, I was the lead officer of […]

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