Mandela’s relevance

Published : 12:00 am  December 7, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  482 views  |  

The death of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has made the world wring tears. For Sri Lanka, his legacy is relevant in a special way as his life was dedicated to reconciling ethnic communities and winning equal rights. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) established by Mandela, despite its shortcomings, is generally accepted as assisting to resolve decades of apartheid-related human rights issues between ethnic South Africans and the white minority. The TRC has also been suggested as a panacea for Sri Lanka’s many issues, with greater interest being paid to infuse its mechanisms into the local reconciliation process. In fact the idea, which cropped up most recently during discussions... 


Equitable development

Published : 12:00 am  December 6, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  615 views  |  

AS Colombo continues to spruce itself up as a mega city, there is increased concern for the vulnerable groups ripping its seams. The Government in an attempt to stitch these bursting seams has proposed construction of houses for 60,000 families, but the means to this end still causes much concern. An estimated 828 million people live in slum conditions, representing around one third of the world’s urban population. The vast majority of slums – more than 90% – are located in cities of developing countries. Slum dwellers often experience difficult social and economic conditions that manifest different forms of deprivation – material, physical, social and political. They live in overcrowded,... 


Killing corruption

Published : 12:00 am  December 5, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  1 Comment  |  416 views  |  

CORRUPTION is an ever-growing cancer in Sri Lanka and the inclusion of nine Members of Parliament in complaints lodged at the Bribery and Corruption Commission merely signifies the tip of a massive iceberg. Sri Lanka slid down by 12 places from last year’s position of 79 to 91 this year, scoring 40 points in the annual Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) compiled by corruption watchdog Transparency International. This is just one indication of how deeply embedded corruption has become in Sri Lanka and the Government’s complete apathy towards addressing it competently. When the top rung of Government – which in this case includes legislators – is connected to crimes, there is no hope... 


IDP issues

Published : 12:00 am  December 4, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  506 views  |  

THE special representative of the United Nations in Geneva on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is in Sri Lanka to assess firsthand the challenges that face resettled people in the north and east of the country. During his visit till 6 December, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani will meet with representatives from the Sri Lankan Government, civil society and the UN, among others. One of the main arguments of the Sri Lankan Government over the years at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been the exemplary treatment it has meted out to the thousands of displaced people before and after the end of the war in 2009.... 


Limping COPE

Published : 12:40 am  December 3, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  492 views  |  

COPE Chairman, Senior Minister and veteran Leftist politician D.E.W. Gunesekera said massive losses were threatening the collapse of key State institutions, including the country’s electricity supplier and national carrier that could have a ripple effect on Sri Lanka’s banking system. Hailing what he called a “historic” report that had scrutinised the financial performance of 244 public enterprises in 2011, Gunasekera emphasised in Parliament that “the Executive should heed the findings and recommendations of the COPE report.” Whether the appeal will receive a reaction is anyone’s guess but it is an echo of requests that have been reverberating for years. The Committee on Public... 


Empty exemptions

Published : 12:00 am  December 2, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  428 views  |  

The good news that the US has renewed exemptions for a host of countries including Sri Lanka from Iran sanctions on oil purchases is tempered by the fact that it is difficult to use. The stranglehold on payment mechanisms means that Sri Lanka will still have to pay billions extra to purchase oil that it can ill-afford, resulting in deep economic challenges. The Obama administration reissued waivers that exempt nine countries, including China, India and Turkey, from fully complying with US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, as the US attempts to maintain international pressure on Tehran’s finances.  Washington extended the exemptions, initially granted in 2012, to these countries for... 


Help and UNHRC

Published : 12:00 am  November 30, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  753 views  |  

A FEW days after China was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), it publicly reiterated support for the Sri Lankan Government, which has been issued an ultimatum by British Prime Minister David Cameron to clean house or face the possibility of a UNHRC probe come March 2014. China’s move surely sent sighs of relief rippling along Government ranks since the staunch ally’s involvement is likely to stave off any challenge from the UNHRC. But will it really improve Sri Lanka’s international reputation? The United Nations elected 14 members to the Humans Rights Council earlier this month, but some of the picks are seen as controversial. Among them are Saudi Arabia, Russia,... 


An unending evil?

Published : 3:39 am  November 29, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,932 views  |  

The killing of a Policeman and his wife in Kamburupitiya is indeed a tragedy, but subsequent events where three of the suspects were killed while Police were ostensibly attempting to arrest them also highlights the dangerous impunity provided to custody deaths in Sri Lanka and the refusal of officials to conduct impartial inquiries to punish those who abuse the law. Earlier this year in July underworld drug kingpin Mohammed Azmir was killed while fleeing the Police – or so the official version goes. While this may gain taciturn approval from the masses, it is yet another indication of lapses in the law enforcement system. While Azmir’s situation is vastly different, it shares the same desire... 


Wage policy portholes

Published : 12:00 am  November 28, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,159 views  |  

One of the highlights of the 2014 Budget was the formation of a special commission to formulate a national wage policy. This task of paramount importance needs to be centred on basic goals such as reducing the relative poverty of the working class through equitable distribution of wealth and reducing politicisation that could over time confuse or dilute this framework. The 19-member National Pay Commission will replace the National Salaries and Cadre Commission to understand how to bridge disparities between public and private sector salaries as well as reduce the Government’s large pension bill. The latter will obviously cause much concern in a country with a rapidly ageing population that... 


A terrible plight

Published : 12:00 am  November 27, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  624 views  |  

Often lambasted by critics for his sexist comments, Child Development and Women’s Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyadda hit the headlines for a different reason this week when he laid bare a horrific element of Sri Lankan society as he told Parliament 7,418 children were victimised by various types of abuse last year. This makes for a staggering 20 children abused each day in this country. Of those incidents, the highest number – 1,174 – had been reported from the Colombo District. It was also noted that out of all such incidents reported last year, 3,800 were punishable offences under the Penal Code. According to Government records read out by the Minister, 313 children had been employed... 


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