Let freedom ring

Published : 12:01 am  February 4, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  482 views  |  

SIXTY-six years since formally gaining independence is a point to ponder on the successes and failures of nation building. There are of course many positives. Undoubtedly the living standards of all our citizens are far better than at the time of independence in 1948. There are far more economic opportunities and more chances for social mobility. But has Sri Lanka as a nation matured and built on the foundations laid on that 4 February 66 years ago, when D.S. Senanayake hoisted the Lion flag along with the hopes and aspirations of nine million of his countrymen? At the time Ceylon gained independence this country had already tasted some aspects of democracy. In 1931 with the universal franchise... 


Fishing opportunity

Published : 12:00 am  February 3, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,726 views  |  

If ever there was a time for the Sri Lankan Government to stand by their fishermen, then this would be that opportunity. Despite the round of talks earlier this month, Indian fishermen continue to cross into Sri Lankan waters and are arrested, signalling the need for more diplomatic exchanges as well as a necessity to push for a sustainable solution. Navy records show that 38 fishermen and six boats have been detained since the talks, with predications for many more. In the first two weeks of January, both sides exchanged over 400 fishermen, giving a peek into how bad things can get even when a serious crisis is averted through talks. Yet so far, these talks seem largely cosmetic, with neither... 


Fair relief

Published : 12:00 am  February 1, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  564 views  |  

Relief programs in Sri Lanka have historically been undermined by political involvement and it would seem that even the involvement of a foreign government changes the situation little. A massive protest was organised by Internally Displaced People in the north against what they allege are moves by a powerful Cabinet Minister to deny them the opportunity to gain a house built by the Indian Government. The resettled IDPs of Northern Province held a massive protest on Wednesday in the Vavuniya town against the alleged malpractices taking place in the India funded housing scheme for the displaced persons. The vast majority of the protestors were Tamil IDPs resettled in their hometowns in Vavuniya... 


Hear no evil

Published : 12:00 am  January 31, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  328 views  |  

PROVINCIAL council elections may be crammed with what most voters see as small fry, but that is nonetheless no excuse for failing to use it as an opportunity to improve democracy within the country. In the move that will raise many eyebrows, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has ruled out having foreign monitors at the upcoming election in March, perhaps because he did not like what they had to say during previous polls last September. Commonwealth and SAARC monitors who were in the country for the memorable northern polls highlighted serious blows to democracy, and emphasised on the need to improve the powers of the Polls Chief if real progress is to be made. Excessive use of the military... 


Survival, not solutions

Published : 12:00 am  January 30, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  480 views  |  

It is now certain that the US will table a third consecutive resolution on Sri Lanka at the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in March. The Government ever aware of the danger has been preparing for the “worst case scenario” in the words of Government Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and will hardly raise an eyebrow over the latest development. But it will undoubtedly continue to cost Sri Lanka deeply in terms of its international reputation. The announcement of a third resolution comes days ahead of Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal’s delayed visit to Sri Lanka. She arrives on Friday to discuss the resolution and... 


Streamlined development

Published : 12:00 am  January 29, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  555 views  |  

The World Bank believes Sri Lanka has to put together streamlined programs for economic development to build on the massive infrastructure put down around the island. Phillippe Le Houerou, World Bank Vice President for the South Asian Region, who is in town, commended Sri Lanka for its economic and other achievements when he met President Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the discussion, Sri Lanka’s development process and the present and future cooperation between the World Bank and Sri Lanka were predictably highlighted. Houerou said that after his arrival he had visited the north, the east and several other parts of the country and spoken to Government officials and people of all walks of life.... 


Time for frank discussion

Published : 12:01 am  January 28, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,170 views  |  

A decision of a lower Court to dismiss the impact of a massive smear campaign regarding the private life of an opposition MP in hearing evidence about a case of petty theft must be hailed, especially in an age when the Sri Lankan judiciary faces a serious crisis of independence and competence. Panadura Magistrate, Ruchira Weliwatta declared yesterday that his Court will not be guided on media reports pertaining to the private life of UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera when the case regarding a break in at his residence in Bolgoda was taken up yesterday. Aided and abetted by vested interests, the suspect who confessed to police of having stolen a laptop and several bottles of whiskey from the Opposition... 


Another toothless commission

Published : 12:02 am  January 27, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,086 views  |  

Making the Police an honest and competent service that protects the rights of the people is a goal that seems further away than ever, with the Chairman of the National Police Commission insisting more powers are needed to protect people abused by the Police. In a recent report, Chairman Senaka Walgampaya noted that the Commission does not have the power to compensate parties that have been treated unjustly by the Police. These can even include serious issues such as torture, wrongful arrest, intimidation or even custody deaths. Over 600 complaints were received by the Commission in 2012 and while the number dropped to about 400 last year it remains an alarming indication of how the Police service... 


Beating poverty

Published : 12:00 am  January 25, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  720 views  |  

Bill Gates should know a thing or two about poverty; after all he has spent a large chunk of his income in combating it over many years. Revered as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists, when he talks about poverty everyone listens. The Microsoft founder, who has run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the last number of years, released the foundation’s annual letter, in which he argues against the three “myths” that he says block progress for poor people. In it he insists that believing poverty cannot be solved is not only wrong, it is dangerous because then people might just stop trying. Going on to talk about the three myths of poverty, Gates dismisses the idea that poor... 


Waste not want not

Published : 6:57 am  January 24, 2014  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  817 views  |  

SRI Lanka’s post-harvest losses are estimated to be as high as 40% and according to a global organisation, not such an aberration at a regional level. Around 35% of food is lost between harvest and distribution across the Asia-Pacific region, depriving millions of nutrition and posing fresh challenges to ending hunger. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says poor production planning, a lack of storage, weak transport systems, crop disease and parasites cause some 30% of cereals and 42% of fruit and vegetables to be lost before reaching consumers. They believe that more effort is needed to raise global awareness of the critical issue of food losses and particularly post-harvest losses,... 


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