A chance for change

Published : 12:00 am  October 15, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  715 views  |  

Rebuilding the United National Party (UNP) has gained unprecedented impetus with the latest defeat at the North Western and Central Provincial Council elections. The mediations, painful at times, have nonetheless yielded a crucial discussion today, which the country will be watching with mixed feelings of hope. Bludgeoned by a record number of elections defeats on a trot, the UNP leadership finally yielded. Wickremesinghe’s view that he is willing to step aside should a competent replacement be found finally brought hope to party stalwarts who have been pushing reforms in vain. But it also sparked fear among a faction that watched the moves of UNP MP Sajith Premadasa and viewed them as being... 


Compensating victims

Published : 12:00 am  October 14, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  616 views  |  

Crimes make for daily headlines. In a positive move the Government is planning to set up a National Authority to compensate victims of crime but serious challenges remain to speeding up justice in Sri Lanka. A weekend newspaper reported the Government will set up a national authority for the protection of victims of crime. This is one of the major highlights of a National Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime (NAPVC) Bill that will be introduced in Parliament. The proposed authority will be empowered to “provide assistance and redress to victims of crime upon an application.” It will be in the form of compensation from a special fund to be established for the purpose and to be managed... 


For whose good?

Published : 12:00 am  October 12, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,348 views  |  

PERIODICALLY handing candy around is a favourite game of the President even though opening the candy jar at this juncture may not be the best of decisions. The appointment of nine new Deputy Ministers ahead of the Budget and at a time the Government has to tighten public expenditure, going so far as to ask officials to limit foreign tours, makes for doubtful logic. With the new round of appointments, 105 out of 160 Government Members of Parliament (MP) have some form of portfolio. This is around 70% of the entire contingent. Among this mix of doubtful public workers are Senior Ministers with no clear mandate, Monitoring MPs and a whole regiment of Deputy Ministers who are little more than seen... 


A private lesson

Published : 3:53 am  October 11, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  1 Comment  |  798 views  |  

Private universities have long been a thorn of contention between the Government and student unions, which has resulted in allegations of repressive actions by the former. After much back and forth, the Government has, largely under the table, allowed private universities to enter Sri Lanka. In this complex web of educational opportunity versus shadowy procedures, the battle rages on an ethical platform. The project to establish a branch campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in the Mirigama Export Processing Zone received Parliament approval on Wednesday without attracting much criticism from the Opposition. The UCLAN branch campus, which is identified as a Strategic Development... 


A tough corner

Published : 12:00 am  October 10, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  843 views  |  

ON the long hard road to reconciliation and power devolution, the visit by new Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was just another pit stop, as the meeting with President Rajapaksa showed. During the breakfast meeting, according to President’s Media, Rajapaksa had made it clear that the Government was not backing down from re-looking at the power devolution mechanism through the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) even though the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has consistently refused to join it, along with other Opposition parties. The President was quoted as saying that Parliament is the ideal platform for devolution discussions, placing tough questions before the TNA. When... 


Passport plague

Published : 12:00 am  October 9, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,142 views  |  

Anyone who believes that Sri Lanka’s international reputation has improved magnificently by the end of the war has only to take a look at a recent study done on passports to know that such optimism needs to be taken with a large dose of salt. Government officials, off on overloaded junkets funded by public money, will not be aware of what little trust is placed in Sri Lankan passports and how minor the concessions provided for it are. So meagre are they that the Sri Lankan passport is among the 10 worst in the world. The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, which is a global ranking of countries based on the freedom of travel for their citizens, saw Finland, Sweden and the United... 


Moderation marvels

Published : 12:00 am  October 8, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  377 views  |  

MODERATION is the magic word. Sri Lanka’s first Northern Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran took oaths before President Mahinda Rajapaksa last morning, heralding hope for a country that is weary of war but has not yet achieved peace. There is much to be gained by both sides taking the middle path – both locally and internationally. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) clearly understands the need to attract and prove itself to the moderate Sinhalese masses, most of whom are viewing the new provincial council with trepidation. They are also concerned about what it would mean for the tentative peace that was established in 2009. For most people living in the north and south, the relief of... 


Indo-SL parley

Published : 12:00 am  October 7, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  532 views  |  

DIPLOMATIC exchanges with Sri Lanka and India are always important for obvious reasons. However, the arrival of newly-appointed Foreign Minister Salwan Khurshid this week will see crucial engagement in the post-Northern Provincial Council election era as well as the signing of the Sampur coal power plant agreement. Battle lines are already being drawn, with the Sri Lankan Government preparing to complain about South Indian fishermen’s damaging poaching in Sri Lankan waters to the European Union. Sri Lanka, which is already under a yellow card along with 11 other countries for unsustainable fishing practices, is hoping that the EU will use its considerable influence to actually push for marine... 


An ideal goal

Published : 12:00 am  October 5, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  748 views  |  

When talking about the problems of the education system, it’s hard to know where to begin. However, a recent report by Transparency International makes it all quite simple – clean up the education system so that children will become honest. What better goal is there? Stepping up the fight against corruption in education is necessary not only to keep kids in school and meet literacy and development goals, but also to ensure that the next generation is prepared to say no to corruption. The ‘Global Corruption Report: Education’ details numerous practical steps to prevent the abuse of power, bribery and secret dealings from corroding the educational experience. It calls on governments, international... 


Improve governance

Published : 12:00 am  October 4, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  637 views  |  

BEATING the drum on good governance to largely deaf years, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a recent report was adamant Asia and the Pacific’s economic gains must be matched by stepped-up efforts on governance so that growth benefits can be more evenly shared and development progress locked in. Yet, the report admits that while most leaders acknowledge the need for good governance, they are rarely cheerleaders for it, resulting in Asia Pacific economies lagging behind their developed counterparts. The report says since 1993, the region has made only modest advances in rule of law and the quality of bureaucracies. Corruption ratings in East Asia which declined sharply during the Asian financial... 


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