A  Whistleblower Protection Act needs to Accompany the proposed Freedom of Information Act Image courtesy Transparency International By S W R de A Samarasinghe & Tissa Jayatilaka The presidential election results of 8 January suggest that a significant segment of our electorate concurred with the assertion of the then common Opposition that bribery and corruption that tainted the administration of the incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa which, in turn, tainted him, was a ...

Revisiting Sampur: How Long Will it Take to Return Home? By Bhavani Fonseka and Mirak Raheem The election of a new President has unleashed high expectations of change for the better. Although for some the expectations relate to macro issues of constitutional reform and good governance, for others their hopes are more basic: that of survival, of returning to their own homes and rebuilding their lives. A key stumbling ...

Memories of Prageeth Ekneligoda Photo courtesy Vikalpa And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones…. Is it not crystal clear, comrades that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of the human beings?  George Orwell, Animal Farm, ...

The deprivation of liberty under national security laws: What can be done to provide immediate relief? Image courtesy Sri Lanka Brief During the past fortnight there have been many calls for the immediate repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Given the fluid and complex political context, and the upcoming parliamentary elections, it appears unlikely this will happen in the short term. However, there are a number of immediate measures the government could implement ...

THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY AND THE SRI LANKAN STATE:  MYTHS AND REALITIES Photo courtesy The Business Times If there was a central plank to the common opposition platform in the presidential election, it was about what to do with the executive presidential system in general and the Eighteenth Amendment in particular, in view of the crisis of democratic governance created by the insidious authoritarianism and pervasive corruption of the Rajapaksa regime. ...

First week of “Good Governance”: Three Good Speeches, One Promise Kept and One Postponed The One-Hundred-Day Programme of President Maithripala Sirisena (MS) was launched last week with three good speeches, one of two promises largely kept and the third postponed, hopefully to be fulfilled sooner rather than later. President Sirisena made three good speeches in the last seven days, the first at his swearing-in ceremony, the second in Kandy and the third when ...

Ideas for a Road Map for Truth and Justice in Sri Lanka Photo courtesy Aquila Style The new year has brought significant changes in Sri Lanka. President Maithripala Sirisena and his Government face many challenges and opportunities. Reform has been promised and expectations are high. In the wake of the elections, Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka to canonize the country’s first saint was a highlight. Those involved in setting out ...

DONOUGHMORE, BUNDESTAG, WESTMINSTER, OR  ‘YAHA PAALANAYA’?  AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FOR THE REFORM OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SYSTEM Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images, via Huffington Post According to President Maithripala Sirisena’s timetable for his 100-day reform programme, the Standing Orders of Parliament are to be amended on 20th January to reform the parliamentary committee system. According to the 100days.lk website, “The Standing Orders will be amended and, in terms of Proposal 67/10 now tabled in Parliament, Oversight ...

Charting a New Course: Sri Lankan Foreign Policy Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images, via Time There could not have been a better time to be a student or a professional of International Relations in Sri Lanka, given the geopolitical dynamics in the region. As one government official told me, “India and China are on the rise, we simply need to jump on this bandwagon.” However we should ...

Anti-Corruption Commission for Sri Lanka: Some thoughts Photo via Transparency International There is renewed interest and concern among various quarters of Sri Lankan society about the need for a more effective system of preventing, investigating and curbing corrupt activities by government officials, politicians and those who are close to them. There is also a wide spread view among people that the existing mechanisms for these purposes ...

An end to culture of retaliation: Transitional justice in Sri Lanka Photo via Asia News “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”—St. Augustine “When will our conscience grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”—Eleanor Roosevelt Former President Mahinda Rajapaksha did not gracefully turn over power to Mr. Maithripala Sirisena after losing the election and step down peacefully as ...

SECURING THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN THE NEW SRI LANKA: ESSENTIAL INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS Cartoon by Awantha Artigala via Sri Lanka 16 days Chapter 11 of the common opposition candidate’s presidential election manifesto is devoted to media freedom. Among other things, it includes simple commitments such as lifting the bans on news websites run from abroad. Such infantile measures were typical of the tin-pot – and ultimately self-defeating – despotism that emanated from ...

Maithri’s Mandela Moment: An open letter to the President Dear Mr President, Please accept my good wishes on your election victory on a platform for good governance, justice and fairness. During the past few weeks, we watched – first in astonishment, and then with mounting hope – how you set out as the underdog yet resolutely worked towards election victory. Your short and swift journey to become the ...

‘The Jewel of the East yet has its Flaws’ – The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence Image courtesy Sumith Wickramasinghe. For a wider examination of the issues covered in this article see my recently published book A Political Legacy of the British Empire – Power and the Parliamentary System in Post Colonial India and Sri Lanka, London: I. B. Tauris, 2013 Prologue The just concluded presidential election saw the election of Maithripala Sirisena and the ...

Wenasak: A Post-Election Reflection AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA via Japan Times Yesterday’s energy Sri Lanka is still overwhelmed with the peoples’ energy that a few days ago brought the immeasurable gift of democratic regime change. As the campaign heightened, one word; “ wenasak”- (Sinhala-“a change”) became a spontaneous and variable slogan or code, determined by the context in which it was used. There ...

The servant and the king Photo courtesy TVNZ 15 January 2015. Mahinda Rajapaksa is not the president of Sri Lanka. I pinch myself. I have been doing so for the last six days. He still is not. He was democratically voted out of power a week ago. One person was killed, many were attacked, state resources were abused massively. The election was not free ...

Bringing the Debate Back Home Image via Maithripala.com We extend our sincere congratulations to President Maithripala Sirisena. After a decade of the Rajapaksas, Sri Lankans have decided to make a change. And we’re happy that, in spite of Rajapaksa’s egregious abuse of state resources in the run-up to the vote, voting day was a relatively clean, fair affair. Having said that, it is both ...

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