Tangible results

Published : 12:00 am  November 23, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,563 views  |  

Budgets come with buckets of expectations and censure. The 2014 edition was no different, with attempts being made to reconcile populist handouts with a development-oriented framework. Political pundits who predict early elections for next year will find plenty to justify their speculations in the Budget that was presented to Parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a record ninth time. The increase in the Cost of Living allowance to State employees, pensions to farmers and incentives for 10,000 Divi Neguma families are just some of the examples that can be trotted out as evidence of more polls in the offing, even though the Opposition has already fired off a shot at the Government for failing... 


A tough task

Published : 12:00 am  November 22, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,556 views  |  

THE recent arrest of the Thalangama Officer in Charge (OIC) and three others for accepting millions in bribes to suppress evidence in a murder case is just another example of the grave need to clean up the Police force. Out of ninety-five public officials who were nabbed for taking bribes in 2012, the highest number was from the Police. Twenty-two Policemen of all ranks have been arrested in raids conducted by the Bribery and Corruption Commission, according to reports. The remainder included local Government politicians, officials of the Ministries of the Public Administration and Home Affairs and Health, Department of Wildlife Conservation, and provincial councils. Sri Lanka has a long history... 


Not just a female cause

Published : 12:00 am  November 21, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,568 views  |  

Sri Lanka’s Government has appointed a special committee to look into and present a report on the treatment of female prisoners. For what is perhaps the first attempt to address a critical issue on female prisoners and their fate, the report will undoubtedly be iconic but what is most important is that it is in fact implemented. Prisons and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera has appointed a five-member committee headed by Parliamentarian Malini Fonseka to attend to the welfare of female inmates. Other members of the committee are Parliamentarian Dr. Sudharsani Fernandopulle, Attorney-at-Law Chathurika Wijesinghe, Dr. Nethranjali Mapitigma and Dr. Neli Andrahennadige. Gajadeera said... 


HRC results

Published : 10:28 am  November 20, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,875 views  |  

AS the spruced-up city of Colombo returns to normal after the intense Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), tallying up the positives has become ever more important. In that context, steps being taken to make the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission more independent is an integral result of greater engagement with the Commonwealth secretariat. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka will conduct the first national inquiry into alleged human rights violations with assistance from local and foreign experts. Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa has told the media that the first national inquiry into the alleged human rights violations related to torture between the period... 


A wish list

Published : 12:01 am  November 19, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  501 views  |  

What can one wish for a President who, seemingly, has it all? With the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) barely over and holding the crown of the Commonwealth till the end of 2015, a two-thirds majority in Parliament and family members at nearly every top post in Government, President Mahinda Rajapaksa steps into his 68th year as one of the most secure heads of state in the world. Defeating the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and delivering Sri Lanka from three decades of war has already guaranteed Rajapaksa an unforgettable chapter in the country’s history. His legacy is being enthusiastically, and some would argue brutally, pushed forward through massive economic development... 


A mixed CHOGM

Published : 12:27 am  November 18, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  763 views  |  

As Sri Lanka, her collective citizens and the government heave a sigh of relief over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) drawing to a close; there is a need to evaluate the returns such a massive investment has brought for the country. Caught in the midst of road and school closures, removal of beggars and stray dogs that made the streets their home, most Colombo residents had mixed feelings about CHOGM.  Such sentiments were not helped by the largely negative coverage given by the international media that used the open invitation by the Sri Lankan Government to “come and see”. Come and see they certainly tried to do, but with very limited success for the government. Channel... 


Deal with the undone

Published : 12:00 am  November 16, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  4,919 views  |  

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is well known for taking a defiant stance at international fora. Just a few months ago at the United Nations General Assembly he insisted that the world did not need policing by a few states and the message had changed little when it was delivered at the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). With his customary velvet glove approach Rajapaksa made sure that the 53 members understood the stance of the Government regarding the Commonwealth’s concerns on the country’s sketchy human rights record. The President clearly articulated that the Commonwealth should concentrate on its collective problems, of which there are many, rather than focusing... 


Safety beyond safe houses

Published : 12:02 am  November 15, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  563 views  |  

The Sri Lankan Government has established temporary shelters for migrant workers who were unable to leave Saudi Arabia ahead of an amnesty deadline earlier this month. Reports indicate that 1,000 workers have already been supplied with safe houses while another 500 remain in line. Yet, the number awaiting extraction could be much more. At the end of the amnesty period, the Government had stated that only 10,000 of the 16,000 who registered to be returned were actually able to do so. The Government is still struggling to extract these remaining workers and it remains a huge concern as they face a fine of Rs. 3 million and a one-year prison term. The tragic execution of Rizana Nafeek aside, the... 


China, CHOGM and FTA

Published : 12:00 am  November 14, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  9,931 views  |  

CHINA’S presence at the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) has been formidable. Along with a 100-stong delegation, special speakers, 42 company representatives for the trade exhibition and a special buyer delegation, not to mention Chinese tour operators, they easily outrank as the country with the highest participation. Despite being a non-Commonwealth country, China’s interest in Sri Lanka has long been obvious. In 2011, China requested observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and in the latest development is working out a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka. As positive as an FTA with the world’s fastest growing economy would be, it can also... 


An unusual proposal

Published : 12:00 am  November 13, 2013  |  Category: CHOGM 2013, FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1 views  |  

ENCOURAGING businessmen to share their wealth may not be an oft-done act to spur development, but that was the path chosen by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his keynote address to the all-important Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF), which kicked off here on Tuesday. The CBF is critical for several reasons. Firstly, it is the first major summit taking place as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Secondly the Government has set a target of attracting US$ 2 billion in investment for specific field-related projects that include as diverse as agriculture, manufacturing, naval, aviation, tourism and higher education. Moreover, the CBF, which was held in Asia for the first... 


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