Things to come?

Published : 12:00 am  March 20, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  585 views  |  

University teachers have already warned of fresh strike action and perhaps as a precursor Police on Wednesday tear gassed a student protest mark from Kelaniya University. As expected, the students were demanding less interference, greater policy engagement and larger allocations of funds. True to form, old problems are raising their heads again after the Government failed to substantially increase Budget allocations for universities and pushed ahead with introducing private universities, often without the consent of stakeholders. This repeated oversight of problems within Sri Lanka’s education system is not just causing traffic jams; it’s threatening to derail the entire economy. Sri Lanka... 


Slow death of democracy

Published : 12:00 am  March 19, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  489 views  |  

MANY headlines have been dedicated to violence connected with elections. At the end of last week, election monitors were tacking up nearly 800 complaints, the largest amount seen in a poll since 2008, with worse expected to come as the days tick down. Overwhelmingly the numbers point to fights for preferential votes, most between the ruling party candidates. In most instances, the public as well as the media focus on deaths or incidents involving firearms, but what needs to be noticed are the small incidents. During every election, polls monitors add up hundreds of violations that are put into reports, sent to top officials and subsequently forgotten by everyone including the Elections Commissioner.... 


Expansion in equitable growth

Published : 1:01 am  March 18, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  861 views  |  

The Department of Census and Statistics yesterday released the full-year data of the country’s economic growth for 2013. The numbers reflect a welcome rebound in the economy, up by 7.3% in comparison to 6.3% in 2012. In 2009 and 2010, the economy grew by 8% and 8.2% respectively before suffering a setback. Many analysts called the 2012 slowdown a correction after what they described as overheating of the economy by virtue of 8% growth in the previous two years. The Government and its promoters will welcome the 7.3% growth in 2013 and will emphasise the resilience of the economy primarily as well as how various policies have shaped such a recovery. The Government will also draw strength from... 


Devoured by drought

Published : 12:00 am  March 17, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  578 views  |  

In Sri Lanka, droughts are good for politics. But even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa issues orders for the latest wrath of the weather gods to be addressed, there is a fear that failing to implement competent disaster management processes will cost the country dear. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has stated that natural disasters in Sri Lanka during the past decade have inflicted an economic cost of over Rs. 257 billion or US$ 1.95 billion. UNOCHA said that in the last 34 years, natural disasters have killed more than 37,000 Sri Lankans. As recently as November 2010, heavy monsoon rains triggered devastating floods in parts of the country, affecting... 


A step in the right direction

Published : 12:00 am  March 15, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  754 views  |  

THIS week, the United National Party published manifestos for the upcoming Western and Southern Provincial Council elections. This document has built on a significant precedent set by the Tamil National Alliance to release a comprehensive policy statement ahead of historic northern provincial elections last year. The Marxist JVP, redefining and reinventing itself under a dynamic new leader followed suit earlier in this polls cycle, releasing a manifesto entitled ‘Our Vision’ setting out the party’s key priorities and ideologies going forward. The UNP document unveiled at Sirikotha on Wednesday appears to be more than just another list of pre-election promises. The manifesto is a deliberately... 


Easing congestion

Published : 12:00 am  March 14, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  544 views  |  

President Rajapaksa is handing over 50 buses imported for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) to improve its services, but this hardly scratches the surface of improving public transport to ease congestion. Sri Lanka’s public transport sector, particularly in relation to buses, has long been accused of inefficiency. It has been pointed time and again that even with a fuel subsidy, the 5,000 odd buses of the SLTB consistently make losses while their private counterparts thrive. Now the Government is putting out ambitious plans to turnaround the SLTB by buying over 2,000 new buses and introducing new joint timetables to break even. But... 


Trigger happy?

Published : 12:00 am  March 13, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  405 views  |  

POLICE have been allowed to carry revolvers and pistols in Sri Lanka. This is not necessarily a reassuring move as the Police is Sri Lanka has a long history of brutality and use of excessive force, which is often allowed to flourish with little or no accountability in place. Yet, in the face of increasingly brutal crimes, Police officials argue the issue of guns, albeit at a controlled level, is the best way to protect the public. But it is hard to be reassured given the track record of the Police. Just last month a mother died after having a heart attack triggered by watching her son being beaten up by the Police during an arrest. Police Chief Illangakoon’s theory is that a small group of... 


Adding it up

Published : 12:39 am  March 12, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  668 views  |  

Fifty-seven people have been arrested on election violations since the start of campaigning and 20 vehicles have been impounded after being wrongfully used. Election watchdog Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has said it received 604 complaints on its website, including assaults, abuse of State resources, politicised transfer of public officials as well as handouts of cash, laptops and other gifts to gain votes. In most instances, the public as well as the media focus on deaths or incidents involving firearms, but what needs to be noticed are the small incidents. During every election, polls monitors add up hundreds of violations that are put into reports, sent to top officials and... 


Adapting to social media

Published : 12:14 am  March 11, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  710 views  |  

SRI Lankan authorities have blocked hundreds of defamatory Facebook accounts in the country, as the challenge to deal with social media gets heated. Senior Information Security Engineer of the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) Roshan Chandragupta had told the media that over 300 Facebook accounts that were used to embarrass and harm the reputation of numerous people have been blocked by them. He said the SLCERT had received complaints about hundreds of Facebook accounts and over 300 accounts were blocked as a result of investigations carried out on those complaints. Most of the complaints were made by students and artists about fake Facebook accounts that have been created... 


A highway to governance

Published : 12:01 am  March 10, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  788 views  |  

As the days tick down for a vote on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), President Mahinda Rajapaksa remained defiant of both foreign and local critics during the opening of the country’s latest highway on Saturday. Undeterred by continuous and possibly growing censure the President vowed to fight his external challenges and dismissed internal voices as “tale carriers”. The usual thread of pushing ahead with internal development regardless of all dissent was voiced with vehemence as the President addressed a political rally right after opening of the Outer Circular Highway, throwing away all regard for election law banning the use of State development programs for... 


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