Columnists,Sujata Gamage,Opinion and Issues

Value of regulated landfills: Megapolis Ministry must communicate

Views - 234 Tuesday, 23 October 2018 00:00

Our policymakers may do the right thing but not do it too well by not communicating the larger purpose of their actions. The current fuss about the proposed Aruwakkalu landfill is one such example. As the Ministry of Megapolis correctly points out,


Free tabs for A/L students: Limits and opportunities

Views - 245 Tuesday, 10 July 2018 00:27

‘Tabs for A/L students’ and ’13 years of education for all’ are two promises from the 2015 election manifesto of the UNP. Both are game-changer promises, but a promise in a manifesto is only a starting point. Bureaucrats have to expand the id


The evolving shape and form of the presidency in Sri Lanka

Views - 210 Tuesday, 15 May 2018 00:00

Even the strongest critics of the 1978 Constitution will have to agree that it is a well-constructed piece of legislation with an architecture which is internally consistent. While a Constitution ensures the citizens their rights, the right of repres


Learn from local elections to get on with the provincial elections

Views - 135 Friday, 27 April 2018 00:00

As Churchill had said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried


Liberal democracy as a sellable brand: The challenge for the UNP

Views - 203 Friday, 6 April 2018 00:10

With the No-Confidence motion behind it, the United National Party (UNP) is promising deep reforms in the party. Unless the party


Asbestos, glyphosate and polythene bans: Cases of lazy and irresponsible policymaking

Views - 326 Friday, 30 March 2018 00:05

The President retracted the ban of asbestos in the face of Russian pressures. The glyphosate ban is now under review


A framework for a Cabinet reshuffle – if the Government is serious about it

Views - 387 Friday, 2 March 2018 00:00

On 16 September 2015, still under the euphoria of a new government and new possibilities, I wrote an article titled ‘The real issue is not the size of the Cabinet but its performance’.


Liberal democracy is dead. Long live liberal democracy.

Views - 278 Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

Liberal democracy as propounded and practiced by the UNP is dead. Beating up the statistics of the recent local election will not bring it back, but the UNP still remains the best vehicle for reviving liberal democratic ideals. Pohottuwa or the Sri L


Enough piecemeal solutions: A coherent HR policy for the health sector is needed

Views - 116 Friday, 2 February 2018 00:00

The anti-SAITM movement was never about SAITM. It was essentially a coming together of statist protectionist segments in society together with the extreme left to stop private higher education of any form.


Problem is not us women and booze: It’s paternalism and capriciousness in policymaking

Views - 386 Friday, 19 January 2018 00:00

The other day the President of Sri Lanka went public expressing his intention to revoke a ministerial order revoking the notion that a woman of any age has no more maturity than a youth less than eighteen years old.


Local elections: The process, results and the future

Views - 1957 Friday, 5 January 2018 00:00

The local elections are scheduled to take place on 10 February, after a long period of anticipation. As a country


Quotas with ‘zipping’ for women in local government

Views - 1293 Friday, 28 July 2017 00:08

The other day I met a woman who is a card-carrying member of a major political party. She is the president of the midwives association in her area. She exuded leadership. She has so much to share with her community about health, lifestyles and oth


Plastics ban is good in parts; room for corrections?

Views - 1478 Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

On Tuesday Cabinet approved a proposal by the President as Minister for Environment on short-term, mid-term and long-term measures to curtail the use of polythene or the soft form of plastics familiar to the average citizen as shopping bags and lu


Electoral reforms: Lessons from Indonesia and South Africa

Views - 1592 Friday, 30 June 2017 00:10

  The Constitutional Assembly in the Parliament of Sri Lanka hosted Dikgang Moseneke, the former Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa and an architect of the South African Constitution, to deliver a lecture on ‘Reaching


Disaster response needs an active National Council, not a dedicated Ministry

Views - 1913 Friday, 2 June 2017 00:08

Ministers may get photo ops but local action is what gets the jobs done – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara   Floodscaused by heavy monsoon rains have not receded yet. This flood happened in the wake of another major flo


Time for civil society to act on the solid waste disposal problem

Views - 2148 Friday, 19 May 2017 00:00

Sometimes there are events which compel you to take action. The tragedy of Meethotamulla is one such. In spite of all the available knowledge on solid waste management and all foreign sites visited and workshops attended by officials, a mountain o


Towards responsible environmentalism in solid waste management

Views - 1984 Friday, 5 May 2017 00:05

In an article published as early as 1992, Jim L. Bowyer, professor of forestry at the University of Wisconsin pleaded for responsible environmentalism. He described responsible environmentalism essentially as “paying attention to human needs


Meethotamulla: Assigning the blame correctly

Views - 2995 Friday, 21 April 2017 00:00

At a recent panel discussion on ITN television themed ‘Mountains of garbage’ where the writer was a panellist, S.M. Marikkar, MP for Colombo District, brought a file with copies of communications from him to authorities regarding the M


Representation for women need not be at the expense of a bloated local government

Views - 2256 Friday, 7 April 2017 00:00

The two major parties in Government have apparently agreed on constitutional reforms that do not require a referendum. With presidential powers already reduced to some extent and independent commissions now functioning more or less, electoral refo


Cavaliers, roundheads and the big match season

Views - 2367 Friday, 24 March 2017 09:48

Big match season lays bare the tribalism and sexism in our society     Big match season brings out the best in us and also the worst, I think. The camaraderie and the loyalty of the old boys and the enthu


Legislation is needed to restructure the gatekeepers of higher education

Views - 2502 Friday, 3 March 2017 00:00

Two prominent gatekeepers of higher education in Sri Lanka are the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC). They have achieved this status due to an artificially created scarcity of credentials, or access to cre


Time is right to break the iron triangle of a medical monopoly

Views - 5112 Friday, 17 February 2017 00:00

A protest by State university students, calling on the Government to intervene and close SAITM. While there is a dire need for more doctors, we have thousands of able and willing youngsters who miss opportunity for a free-of-charge medical educati


RTI is good, but open data is better

Views - 2601 Thursday, 2 February 2017 00:08

The Sri Lanka Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 is to become effective in a few days. The act was gazetted on 4 August 2016, but embargoed for six months with an additional space of another six months allowed for all provisions of the Act to


Offline digital content critical for Government’s tabs initiative

Views - 2721 Tuesday, 27 December 2016 00:02

Sri Lanka’s Budget 2017 included an expenditure of Rs. 5 billion to “provide free tabs for almost 175,000 students who enter the Advanced Level (AL) classes and around 28,000 A/L teachers.” The evidence is overwhelmingly against


Local elections: New mixed-member method or old PR method?

Views - 3818 Friday, 9 December 2016 00:10

  I was looking forward to voting in local elections under a new mixed member system. Wearing my ratepayer hat, I was attracted to the idea of electing somebody who would be accountable to my ‘ward’ or my neighbourhood in


Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?

Views - 4060 Wednesday, 16 November 2016 00:08

The education component of Budget 2017 has many positive features. Unspecified infrastructure expenditures from the previous budget have been removed. The new proposals, except for the free tabs proposal, are mostly well-targeted. The hig


Working with the second or third best option – in education and everything

Views - 2993 Wednesday, 2 November 2016 00:01

January 9th of 2015 dawned with much hope but with much baggage too, it turns out. As events since then show, moving forward will be a tough balancing act for the President and the Prime Minister. Sri Lanka achieved independence without bloodshed,


Selective schools vs. nonselective schools debate in UK and lessons for Sri Lanka

Views - 3199 Wednesday, 19 October 2016 00:02

  Children on their way to school. Selective and non-selective schools cannot coexist, unless we find some way of linking these schools and giving all families the hope that the Government is giving their children every chance to flou


Assuring representation for dispersed minorities in a new electoral system

Views - 3146 Wednesday, 5 October 2016 00:02

  In an ideal world, voters would vote for the best individual irrespective of ethnicity, but, with the country slowly emerging from the aftermath of a bitter ethnic war and continuing ethnic tensions, we cannot impose such egalitarian c


Megapolis plan requires a concerted school location plan

Views - 3151 Wednesday, 21 September 2016 00:03

The doctors have opened a can of worms with their demands for super popular schools. On close examination, the popular school concept as practiced violates the principle of free education, but the practice continues as if by silent conspiracy. Now


Today's Columnists

The Brahmin footprint in Sri Lankan history

Saturday, 17 November 2018

It is generally said that there are no genuine “Sri Lankan” Brahmins in the island today, and that those Brahmins who officiate as priests in Hindu kovils (temples) are of Indian origin with close ties with Tamil Nadu.


Country paying for Sirisena’s childlike behaviour

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Many were surprised on 26 October to see former President Rajapaksa being appointed Prime Minister by the very man who defeated him a couple years ago, at a considerable risk to himself and to those who helped him win the election. Then events beca


The JR-MR effect

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Sri Lanka over the last few weeks has experienced a twin crisis. One is political provoked by its Constitution, and the other economic engendered by its politics. However, this crisis is the combined effect of two previous presidencies, those of J.R.


The fish that swallowed the whale

Friday, 16 November 2018

This is an easy-peasy, elementary effort of an ordinary citizen to comprehend the mad scramble for power among the political class. It is undertaken in the belief that the crisis we face is an opportunity to reject the family kleptocracy of Mahinda R


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