2/27/2010

(February 27, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka has split into four identical groups although there are only two powerful factions. They are the TNA led by R. Sampanthan and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, the son of late Kumar Ponnambalam and the grand son of late G.G. Ponnambalam.

Former MPs S. Gjendran and Pathmini Sithamparanathan also contest under ACTC ticket showing political lining up of the Tamil nationalists.

Moderate liberal capitalist TNA contests for five districts with former MPs of the former parliament.

Tamil leftist MPs M.K. Sivajilingam and N. Srikantha have joined with Sinhala leftist Left Liberation Front led by Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratna.

Meanwhile the Karuna loyal Ms. Thangeswari Kathiraman contests under ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) ticket together with Sivanathan Kishor and S. Kanagaratnam.

The government earlier accused Vanni district MP S. Kanagaratnam who was in custody for eight months for living with his people that were besieged a terrorism supporter. His son is in custody in suspicion of involving in the Colombo air raids of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Ealam (LTTE).


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(February 27, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Newly established one and only Marine Archaeological Museum in Galle built under a special grant of Rs. 177 million by the Netherlands Government will be opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 4, 2009.

The Marine Archeological Museum previously established in Galle was completely destroyed due to Tsunami tidal waves on December 26, 2004. The present museum is being established after renovating a massive old building constructed during the Dutch era situated within the historic Rampart of Galle.

The museum is 40-000 square feet in extent would display marine artifacts discovered in explorations made in the ocean floor around Sri Lanka. Nearly 200 artifacts discovered from the remains of ship sunk in the ocean nearly 800 ago are housed in the museum.

Plans are afoot to open the museum on all seven days of the week and on some days to stay open till 9.00 p.m. to feel surrounding of the Fort.


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2/25/2010

(February 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Many ex-MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka have not been given the opportunity to run for the elections under the ticket of the TNA. A number of those who lost nominations have become the pets of the government. But, a considerable number of MPs like Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, S. Kajendran, Pathmini Sithamparanathan, M.K. Sivajilingam and N. Srikantha etc. are denied nominations due to political reasons.

The division of the TNA is clearly on political lines. After the military debacle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), a wide gap is being created in the Tamil polity. This is symbolically depicted as the gap between the Diaspora Tamils and the Tamils living in Sri Lanka.

Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group says, "Most in the country are exhausted by decades of war and are more concerned with rebuilding their lives under difficult circumstances than in continuing the fight for an independent state. Without the LTTE to enforce a common political line, Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka are proposing substantial reforms within a united Sri Lanka."

But the gap exists within the people that live in the island too. You might not see it and you might misunderstand it since most of the Tamil nationalists that live in the country remain silent maintaining a low profile in fear of punishment.

In fact, the present TNA leaders appear to accept something beyond the Provincial Councils and to go for co-habitation with the Colombo government under favorable conditions. The split of the TNA is actually between those who have dropped the call for self-determination of the Tamils and those who still fight for it.

Self-determination literally means cessation although it does not essentially mean a separate state. That is for what thousands of Tamils gave their lives and there can be elements in the polity that do not wish to give up the will to fight for what their brethren gave their lives. They have the right to carry on their struggle and those who wish to give up the ideals for pragmatic solutions also have the right to do so.

But, the ball still remains in the court of the Sinhalese. Do they like to engage in a dialogue and a political process with at least the Tamils that looks moderate to them while they are looked down on as submissive leaders amidst some elements of their own polity?

TNA constituents like Federal Party, EPRLF and TELO that have now grabbed the grip loosened by the LTTE are in a liberal stand and they can be expected to come to a settlement with Colombo government under a liberal capitalist framework. This can happen easily if a coalition under United National Front comes to power. Ruling United National Freedom Alliance is far backward and antagonistic to reforms.



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2/24/2010

(February 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora groups should move away, once and for all, from the failed agenda of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and instead put their energies into the quest for a sustainable and just peace in a united Sri Lank, says International Crisis Group, a think tank studying the conflicts in the world.

Following is the full text of their report:

The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the LTTE,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines political dynamics within the Tamil diaspora since May 2009, as Tamils abroad adapt to the LTTE’s defeat. It also looks at the potential for new forms of militancy within the diaspora, especially among the younger generations, radicalised by the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians in the final months of the war. While there is little chance of the Tamil Tigers regrouping in the diaspora, most Tamils abroad remain profoundly committed to a separate state of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

“New diaspora initiatives attempt to carry forward the struggle for an independent state in more transparent and democratic ways, but they must repudiate the LTTE’s violent methods”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “And they must also recognise that the LTTE’s separatist agenda is out of step with the wishes and needs of Tamils in Sri Lanka”.

The gap between the diaspora and Tamils in Sri Lanka has widened. Most in the country are exhausted by decades of war and are more concerned with rebuilding their lives under difficult circumstances than in continuing the fight for an independent state. Without the LTTE to enforce a common political line, Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka are proposing substantial reforms within a united Sri Lanka. While Tamils have the democratic right to espouse separatism non-violently, Tamil Eelam has virtually no domestic or international backing. With the Sri Lankan government assuming Tamils abroad remain committed to violent means, the diaspora’s continued calls for a separate state feed the fears of the Rajapaksa administration and provid e excuses for maintaining destructive anti-terrorism and emergency laws.

The Sri Lankan government must address the legitimate grievances at the root of the conflict: the political marginalisation and physical insecurity of most Tamils in Sri Lanka. The international community needs to press Colombo much more strongly for political and constitutional reforms. Donors should insist that money given to redevelop the north and east is tied closely to the demilitarisation and democratisation of the region. This should include giving Tamils and Muslims a meaningful role in determining the future of the areas where they have long been the majority. Donor governments and the United Nations must also insist on an independent investigation into the thousands of Tamil civilians killed in the final months of 20fighting in 2009.

“Tamils in Sri Lanka currently have little appetite for a return to armed struggle”, says Robert Templer. “But should the Sri Lankan state continue to fail to respond to their collective aspirations, some may eventually seek a solution through violence and could find willing partners in the diaspora”.




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2/23/2010

(February 23, Colombo - Lanka Polity)   Sri Lanka government has proudly announced that the per capita income has risen from $ 2200 to $2300 from 2008 to 2009.

Accordingly, if the national income is distributed equally, each Sri Lankan irrespective of age must have a share of Rs. 240,000 annual income. That simply means Rs. 20,000 monthly income and a family that has four members must earn Rs. 100,000 per month.

But the data released by the state relates a different story.

According to the Ministry of Social Security and Social Welfare, there are 350,000 recipients of concessions provided to extremely poor people of the country. This allowance is yet to be raised to Rs. 1000 a month. These people are subjected to live with 1/3 of a dollar per day.

Sri Lanka government provides 'Samurdhi' poverty concessions to low income groups. The Deputy Minister of State Revenue and Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said in the parliament on May 05, 2009 that the number of Samurdhi recipients were 1,672,159 in 2008. He further stated that by 2007, there were 452,000 families that earned less than Rs. 6283/= per month. This is well over 5% of the population of Sri Lanka. This is the social strata that is in extreme poverty. What about the lower middle class? They too complain about a miserable life due to lack of income.

Sri Lanka government can boast about the increase of per capita income. But if the income does not distribute fairly and if the disparity widens, that means a bunch of affluents in social elite have robbed the national wealth pushing the masses further in poverty.



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2/22/2010

Ancient Jaffna Fort
(February 22, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  The January performance of Sri Lankan hotels has been excellent, with arrivals reaching 50,750, which is a 32 percent increase on last January. The main contribution to this increase has been the British market (24.6 percent increase), Germany (54 percent) and India (73.5 percent). January and February are two of the busiest months in the tourism calendar, which is the peak of the high season. Better performance is expected in February.

Meanwhile, the state-run English weekly Sunday Observer quoted Tourism Minister Achala Jagoda as saying nearly 550,000 local and foreign tourists had toured Jaffna via A-9 road during last week.

The number quoted has come as a surprise to observers particularly since the Northern Province is still virtually out of bounds for foreigners and there is very little tourism infrastructure on the ground in the war-ravaged province.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said recntly in an interview with The Hindu "I have set new targets for tourism. I called the Tourism Board and said I was not satisfied with the present [rate of development]. I want to call the private sector. They're going to the Maldives and various other countries to invest their money. I am going to tell them to invest here. I want to get Indian companies, the Tatas and others, to invest in Sri Lanka."


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(February 22, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lanka's major opposition United National Party (UNP) that has already admitted the defeat at the upcoming general election scheduled on April 8 is facing another trouble as the defeated opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka is likely to contest in an alliance with the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP). 

Fonseka is slated to contest under National Democratic Alliance's trophy symbol in Colombo district where UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe expects to obtain a massive number of preferential votes. 

UNP abandoned Fonseka following the election and it is understood that there was a government-UNP understanding behind the arrest of the ex-General. JVP took the brunt of agitations for his release and opened up a new path for a fighting opposition under his leadership. 

Sri Lanka definitely needs a new leadership to fight the rising constitutional and democratically elected dictatorship. The opposition led by Ranil Wickramasinghe is too submissive and lethargic for the task. Perhaps, the polity will try for new options. 


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2/20/2010

(February 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  The opposition coalition in Sri Lanka has shattered. The parties that backed the opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka are now divided. Major opposition United National Party (UNP) is no more actively supporting the campaigns for his release.

Only the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) has not abandoned him. JVP has decided to contest the general election under the 'trophy' symbol offering the leadership to Sarath Fonseka.

At a press conference held yesterday, National Organizer of Jathika Hela Urumaya Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said that arrest of Gen (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka might prove to be detrimental to the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance's interests, particularly in view of the forthcoming general election.

Based on the same argument, one can say that the JVP is in an advantaged position. It can vie for sympathy votes, gratefulness votes and hatred votes etc. generated for Sarath Fonseka.

This will be detrimental not only to the ruling party but also the major opposition UNP as well. UNP is insisting the elephant symbol in a coalition to fight Rajapaksas at the upcoming general election. This is definitely a move not to ally with JVP. The Marxists cannot accept the elephant symbol due to understandable reasons.

JVP also actually wants to sun allying with the UNP although there is pressure from party grassroots to unite to fight Rajapaksa menace. JVP is a fighting force unlike the lethargic submissive UNP that has already admitted defeat. If JVP can create a wave of protest based on the arrest and court martial of Fonseka, the Fonseka-led coalition will be able to become the major opposition of the country.

The Sri Lankan polity that backs a regime change are in need of a pushy leadership to fight Rajapaksas. The general election scheduled for April 08 will decide if Fonseka and the JVP will be able to cater the need.



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2/18/2010

(February 18, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  We feel the following UPI article is significant since it reveals the Indian pessimism regarding China's involvements in the affairs of the Indian Ocean. It also discusses about the Hambanthota port and its implications on international affairs.

China's construction of a port in Sri Lanka and a Chinese admiral's suggestion Beijing build a naval base in the Gulf of Aden has raised fears in the Middle East that a confrontation between China and India is looming along vital energy export routes.

Both the Asian titans, whose economies continue to expand despite the global financial meltdown, are heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil and will become more so as supplies dwindle.

The Indians are building their naval forces across these vital shipping lanes through which some 85 percent of China's oil supplies pass along with raw materials from Africa.

Inevitably, these will increasingly encroach on Middle Eastern and African waters as Beijing seeks to protect the economic arteries on which it is becoming increasingly dependent all the way from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea.

This is causing grave concern in India, which is vying for the same energy and mineral resources as China.

This raises the prospect, distant though it may be, of a confrontation between the two. The region is vital too for the Gulf states as an energy export and trading route as they increasingly look eastward.

There is also the possibility that one day China and the United States, which has long been the dominant naval force in the Indian Ocean, may also clash.

New Delhi views China's efforts to expand its regional clout through its "string of pearls" strategy -- ringing India with naval bases and electronic listening posts -- as an attempt to muscle into waters India has long considered its own.

Indeed, the Chinese are seeking to protect their maritime trade further east as well in the Strait of Malacca, a major shipping choke point between Malaysia and Indonesia that links the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

Beijing wants to ensure unhindered access to the narrow waterway for its energy shipments.

The construction of the $1 billion container port at Hambantota, until recently a fishing hamlet on Sri Lanka's southeastern coast, illustrates how the Chinese thrust into the Indian Ocean is becoming more pronounced.

The deep-water port will include a development zone and an oil refinery.

Over the last few years, the Chinese have built a similar port at Gwadar on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast, which will eventually be the terminal for pipelines carrying Gulf crude and natural gas to western China.

Another is planned at Chittagong in Bangladesh, an oil refinery terminal in the northern Bay of Bengal east of India.

These could become bases for China's growing submarine fleet, a potential threat to the arterial shipping lanes running east from the Persian Gulf.

The Chinese are reported to have established a naval base in Myanmar and intelligence surveillance bases on islands across the Bay of Bengal.

Another is reportedly being built on Marao Island in the Maldives chain that runs south toward the British base of Diego Garcia, currently manned by U.S. forces.

Beijing says it has no interest in establishing major foreign bases so far from home. But as its economy mushrooms and its naval forces swell, it will inevitably require bases to project its growing power.

China is reported to be interested in establishing facilities in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.

In December, Rear Adm. Yin Zhou, a senior officer at the Chinese navy's Equipment Research Center, proposed a naval base be established in the Gulf of Aden, which would take Chinese expansion even further west than it is now.

Ostensibly, Yin's idea was to support China's naval flotilla attached to the international anti-piracy task force deployed off Somalia.

There is no question that piracy is a growing problem, not only in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, but in the Strait of Malacca and elsewhere.

The International Maritime Bureau, which monitors global piracy, said there were 42 attacks on oil tankers around the world in 2009, a 40 percent increase over 2008. And most took place off Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula.

But given China's naval expansion, it would make sense for Beijing to seek a military foothold in the Gulf of Aden, adding another strategic dimension and threat of conflict to a region already riddled with risk.



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2/16/2010

(February 16 Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Over 100,000 Tamil IDPs of Sri Lanka will have to languish in refuge camps until the end of general elections scheduled for April 08. 


The IDPs were not given fair opportunity to exercise their franchise at the presidential held on January 26, monitors say. The turn out was extremely low due to discouraging technical problems. The same can be expected on April 08 as well. 

The government missed the self-imposed deadline to resettle all the IDPs by the end of January. The Minister in charge of resettlement Rishad Badurdeen says that the IDPs will be resettled by April, probably after the polls. The reason cited for the delay is the incompletion of de-mining. 

By February 05, 106,000 IDPs were still in camps according to UN reports. Government has resettled 160,000 IDPs. Around 30,000 IDPs live in friends' and relatives' houses outside the IDP camps. 
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(February 16 Colombo - Lanka Polity)  A Sri Lankan environmental organization is introducing a new lamp for the fishermen that engage in the industry in lagoons. This new lamp is a compact florescent lamp with a rechargeable battery. It will replace the traditional kerosene lamps that consumes at least a liter of kerosene per each night.

The Negenahiru Environmental Center has already supplied around 40 such lighting units to the fresh water and lagoon fishermen in Maduganga and Madampawila in the Southern Province. Recharging units have been provided one per each four or five fishermen.

There are around 35,000 lagoon fishermen in Sri Lanka and they usually use low efficient kerosene lamps that gives dim light while emanating carbon dioxide and soot that is hazardous both environmentally and health wise. The cost for kerosene is also around Rs. 85.


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2/12/2010

(February 12, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The eldest son of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa marked his entry to politics today wearing fatherlike white national dress instead of casual baggy shirts he earlier prefered to wear at a function patronaged by his father in Tangalle, in the Hambanthota district where Namal had sought for nominations to contest the general election.

The hair-to-the-throne Namal Rajapaksa needs to mark his presence remarkably among the Rajapaksas like Basil, Gotabhya and Chamal brothers and Chamal's son Shashindra etc. unless he wants to be sidelined like Nirupama Rajapaksa one day in future.

Nirupama, a radical member of the 1994 parliament, is the grand daughter of D.M. Rajapaksa, the MP for Beliaththa, whose demise paved way for D.A. Rajapaksa to be elected to the parliament to generate a brilliant Rajapaksa dynasty that reigned the Giruva Paththuwa for many decades. Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected to parliament in 1970 and slowly paddled to the presidency of the country. His politician brother Basil Rajapaksa, who was one time a youth leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party once crossed over to the United National Party before he left the country for permanent residency.

Mahinda Rajapaksa is the luckiest and the most brilliant of the Rajapaksas and his popularity is the sole source of power for the next generation Rajapaksas unless some of the members of the family who are blinded by extreme power will tarnish their future entirely.

“What is it like to be the President’s son?” asked The Hindu's Nandini Nair in 2007 from Namal. “It is not good or bad. I just try to be myself.” That was his reply.

Try to be yourself!



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2/10/2010

(February 10, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lankans took to streets in Colombo and many other parts of the island and clashed with the government-deployed disruptive elements and police in a display of people's power in support of arrested common opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka. 


The government has arrested Sarath Fonseka and vow to court martial and to be prosecuted in civil courts for breach of discipline and for plotting to topple the government etc. Government spokesmen speak about minor offenses such as engaging with politicians now instead of bringing the much hyped conspiracy allegations. Sri Lanka is lawless mostly and the President's son Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a junior officer of the Navy and the President's brother Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa also openly engaged in Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidential campaign enjoying impunity although they too have committed the same offense since they too are bound to be politically neutral as public officials with no rights for politics. 

Meanwhile, former Tamil Tiger rebels who have joined the government are also enjoying impunity for crimes like bombing the sacred Temple of Tooth of the Buddhists, killing Buddhist monks, assassinating surrendered police officers and genocide of Sinhala and Muslim people etc. 

Sarath Fonseka was one time war hero who as the Army Commander led the battles to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels outrightly that reigned the northern and eastern Tamil dominated parts of the island for decades. He defected from his former commander-in-chief President Mahinda Rajapaksa and challenged his re-election in the presidential held on January 26. However the incumbent swept to power with and unbelievable margin of majority votes. The opposition allege the ruling party rigged polls. Fonseka will fail to take legal action against the presidential timely since he is now in military custody. 
 
Fonseka rose as a brilliant leader in the drowsy opposition during his brief presidential campaign and many doubt the arrest is to suppress his progress as a political leader. Unconfirmed reports say that the government move has the blessing of the present Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe whose lethargic leadership is despised by the radical elements of the opposition. 
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2/05/2010

(February 04, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lanka Ministry of Agriculture Development and Peasant Services says that the state will purchase 140,000 metric tons of paddy in the Maha season. A cabinet paper has been submitted to allocate Rs. 4060 million in this purpose, a spokesman of the Ministry said.

The harvesting of the Maha season is to begin by the end of this month. The rice prices in Sri Lankan market have escalated sharply. The government has permitted import of rice and analysts predict this will have repercussions when harvesting begins causing drop of purchasing prices.

The state expects to purchase 50,000 metric tons from Polonnaruwa district where the Minister of Agriculture Development and Peasant Services Maithripala Sirisena's family members have big rice processing and marketing business. From Anuradhapura district and the Eastern Provinces 30,000 metric tons will be purchased while 15,000 metric tons each will be purchased from Northwestern and Southern Provinces.

The government registered price for a kilo of paddy this year is Rs. 28 for Nadu rice and Rs. 30 for Samba rice. Currently, the price of a kilo of Nadu rice is around Rs. 60 in the market and a kilo of Samba rice is around Rs. 85.

Paddy processed by the state is usually sold to the private sector later to be processed and issued to the market. A portion is kept as a buffer stock. State paddy purchasing is a mechanism aimed at regulating the market prices in harvesting times so that the farmers can have a reasonable price.


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2/04/2010

(February 04, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe opposition supporters of Sri Lanka took to the streets in Colombo yesterday and demonstrated against the 2010 presidential result and the government steps to curb democracy and freedom of expression. 


Police warned to take stern action against the street protests and rumors spread preventing the participation of many cautious activists. 

However, tens of thousands of people marched peaceful from Lipton Circus to Hyde Park chanting slogans against polls rigging and suppression of freedom of expression without serious police intervention. The Hyde Park, the venue of the protest rally was filled with enthusiastic opposition supporters while the roads surrounding the venue were also blocked by throning crowds. 

Almost all the leaders of the opposition coalition were seen on stage sans the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance based in Northern and Eastern Provinces. Left Front presidential candidate Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratna that campaigned against both the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the opposition common candidate Sarath Fonseka also addressed the rally. 

The crowds treated the defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka with a rousing welcome.  

The opposition has not still substantiated their allegations regarding the polls rigging. 

However, the 2010 presidential was the most corrupt election of the history given the level of manipulation of public property for supportive propaganda of incumbent and for slinging mud at the opponent. The Election Commissioner Dayananda Dishanayaka said yesterday that he was not happy about the pre-election scenario in which the public officials and media disregarded his directives. 

The police cancelled the loudspeaker licence for the rally without valid reasons in an apparent unproductive bid to disrupt it. 

The rally and the march was mainly organized by the leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP). Disciplined cadres of the JVP actively participated in the protest awakening the disgruntled supporters of the major opposition United National Party (UNP). 

It was a successful launch of a mass movement to win back democracy in Sri Lanka.
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2/03/2010

(February 03, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa pleaded the people to pay him gratitude for defeating the Tamil nationalist struggle at the presidential held on January 26. Sinhala people did so and the Tamil voters were expectable to reject him and that also happened. 


Paying gratitude is a quality highly appreciated by Sinhalese, especially by Buddhists. Lord Buddha paid gratitude even to the sacred Bo tree that provided him shade while attempting to attain Nibbana. 

Sri Lanka President wanted the voters to pay him the gratitude while denying to do the same to the ex-Army Commander who was rescued by medical marvels from a suicide attack of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. Pro-President media slang mud at the ex-Army Commander who ran for the presidential as common opposition candidate alleging him to be a womanizer who was attached even to his own suicide bomber. No wonder. The President's camp spared next to nothing when attacking the opponent. 

The President who sought the people's gratitude is now treating his former Army chief in most insolent and ungrateful way. The soldiers that were venerated as war heroes one time have fallen suddenly from the clouds they were on in very recently. 52 senior Army officials including 27 Major Generals have been demoted to less important responsibilities. A conspiracy story is been written to suppress them further. Some say the soldiers guarding the former battle fronts are hearing sarcastic hiccups from the soil beneath their feet. 

The LTTE that helped the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to win the presidential in 2005 via a polls boycott among Tamils, I think, did not expect gratitude. They wanted war and Mahinda offered it but not to go easy and to lose outrightly. 

People's Liberation Front (JVP) that shouldered the sole effort to usher Rajapaksa to presidency in 2005 is now in the receiving end of gratitude. One of the JVP councilors in South were beaten to death by pro-government hooligans. The JVP-run weekend newspaper 'Lanka' was sealed but the court revoked the step later. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper is in custody. The JVP-run only local government body situated in President's home district Hambanthota was also sealed. More to come. That is the Mahinda way of paying gratitude. JVP supported the candidature of Sarath Fonseka in 2010. 

Mnay more incidents of this sort can be added to this list. But what for?

Next chance will be for the people that voted to him to pay gratitude. 
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(February 03, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka's major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance is in talks with the major Muslim constituent Sri Lanka Muslim Congress to form an electoral alliance. If the talks will succeed, the alliance will be able to achieve a resounding mandate from the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka at the upcoming general election. 


But, an extensive dialogue is needed to set forth a declaration of common aspirations of these two minority communities. For that, the coalition is needed to be one that exceeds the limits of mere electoral alliance. 

Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims share same language although they are culturally different. The Tamil struggle for equality in state was for a Tamil speaking polity in its early stages. However, the sentiments of a narrower Tamil nationalism among the Sri Lankan Tamils, the majority among the minority communities, led the other minorities like Muslims and Upcountry (Indian origin) Tamils to deviate from the Tamil struggle. 

Later, the Muslim and Upcountry Tamil communities developed identical polities and they have their own aspirations now. But unity among the minorities is a must to struggle for more opportunities in the political, economical and social spaces in this island vis-a-vis rising ethnic chauvinism of the sectors of Sinhala polity that are in power.  
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2/01/2010

By P. Vijian (Photo: ancient photo of Sri Lankan Malay community)

(February 01, Colombo - Lanka Polity In Sri Lanka's ethnic cocoon, the minority Malay population is searching for more political space to voice their socio-economic rights.

An estimated 50,000 Malays, mostly descending from the Indonesian archipelago and southern Malaysia, are the minorities among the minorities in the country's 20 million population.

In post-war Sri Lanka, the Malays are worried if their social-political mobility would be stifled without proper political representation in the island's multi-ethnic make-up, as a bulk are still in the economically-backward segment.

"About 30 per cent of the Malays are in the middles-class while 60 per cent are in difficult circumstances, living below the poverty line.

"They don't have regular income or proper housing, access to universities and government jobs are difficult because these are allocated according to ethnic proportion, and Malays are less than one per cent (of the population)," Sri Lanka Malay Association president Iqram Cuttilan told Bernama in the capital.

In the island state, Singhalese make up 74 per cent of the population, 12 per cent are Tamils, while another 12 per cent are Moors, who are Muslims (Muslim community is made up of the Moors, Malays and Indian Muslims).

The Malays, who were brought into Sri Lanka as soldiers by the Dutch in the late 1600s, still profess Islam, speak the Malay language, and continue to preserve their own culture and heritage of their forefathers.

But now, the new generation of Malays wants to be equally represented in the mainstream Sri Lankan society which, to some degree, has been ethnically polarised.

"We are lobbying the government to nominate a Malay MP (member of parliament) to represent Malays in Parliament. We are not being heard in the parliament, the minority rights cannot be articulated now," said Iqram.

The Malays have assimilated well into the Sri Lankan society and lived side by side with the other ethnic groups for decades.

Many are multi-lingual, with Singhalese, Tamil, Malay and English widely spoken among the Malay community. But their voice remains muzzled.

The pearl-shaped island had been torn apart by ethnic conflict for the past 30 years, when a Tamil separatist group took up arms against the Sri Lankan establishment, demanding a separate homeland for its two million people.

The war ended disastrously last May.

Even in last week's sixth presidential election, votes of unhappy Tamils (in the north) and Muslims (in the east) clearly swung to the opposition, once again signalling their dissatisfaction of being marginalised.

-- BERNAMA


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