Columnists

Changing the supreme law to shape the culture of society

Views - 1905 Friday, 22 January 2016 00:00

A Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. But practice has proven that this truism can be subverted, or subject to interpretation detrimental to the welfare of the nation-state. So it remains an ambition of the democratic movement o


“Good Governance” at one year: same lame tame afterthoughts

Views - 2694 Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:00

  President Maithripala Sirisena, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. A triad of issues – and not necessarily whether Government brings brigands under past regimes to book – may well en


Grave matters for our maturing Government

Views - 2255 Friday, 8 January 2016 00:00

The plot thickens: Seven years ago, an iconic senior journalist was brutally slaughtered on Sri Lanka’s post-war mean streets. A year ago – on the sixth anniversary of his slaying – an instrumental change was made to th


The force slumbers: in local political theatres last year

Views - 2396 Wednesday, 30 December 2015 00:00

  I have a bad feeling about this. Essaying any form of evaluation or assessment of Good Governance’s first year in office (or power, if you are in that mood) is bound to come a-cropper. Too cynical, and the powers tha


Stymieing hate speech laws: silent night or saturnalia?

Views - 2596 Wednesday, 23 December 2015 00:10

Today is >Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival of feasting, mayhem, madness. (Sometimes, still, subtly or subversively, it is observed in Colombo’s bacchanalian quarters!) Tomorrow night, choirs – around Sri Lanka as much as the re


The fast track to lawfulness or a slower lane to legalism?

Views - 2352 Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

THE LONG MARCH: Government is good at walking the talk on anti-corruption drives and is no doubt sincere in the main about stemming the rotten tide. However, civil society together with the genuine elements of the powers that be, have to do more t


4Cs to lead Country, Cabinet, Councils, and Committees

Views - 2821 Wednesday, 9 December 2015 00:00

Leadership can be a sinking ship as long as only driven, darkly charismatic leaders who are lacking in character but are very strong-willed and even temperamental do helm the project – without sufficient regard for relational leader


“Model leaders” – and models of leadership

Views - 3734 Wednesday, 2 December 2015 00:00

 Legendary model leader Roman republican Cincinnatus prioritised his agricultural acres over the affairs of state – until his country had need of his services. Duty done, this exemplary Consul then laid down his fasces – a symbol


Dissing budgets, dodging bullets, becoming a more grown-up polity

Views - 2694 Friday, 27 November 2015 00:00

Radical budgets call for reinvigorated critical engagement by Civil Society. Governments that dodge bullets and clampdown on media commentaries by their mandarins – culpable of conflicts of interest (or not); or worse, chicanery &nd


Avant-Garde, ISIS, and the Agatha Christie Syndrome

Views - 2868 Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

While the skyline of the modern French Republic, Paris, was recently shrouded in a veil of grief and tears, storms clouds may be hovering over the political hub of a distant island-republic’s ancient commercial port city, as a long-drawn-out


Needed: A new dynamism for ‘Democratic Republicanism’

Views - 5754 Wednesday, 11 November 2015 00:00

    Today, a nation is still struggling to assess the significance of his loss. Tomorrow, many if not most of us will officially mourn his return to the ocean of Samsara – with some aspiring seafarers suspecting tha


Lapdances with boars: Why is law enforcement so boorish?

Views - 2948 Friday, 6 November 2015 00:00

    The hero seems strangely familiar. He brandishes his weapons of choice in each frame: effortlessly: fearlessly. Built like a nondescript, he wields his truncheon like a ninja.  In one, he’s a Spartan hold


On media freedom, of media fiefdoms

Views - 2353 Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

Say “media freedom” to a seasoned journalist and she will roll her eyes at you. Say it to a veteran editor and it might be your head that rolls. We’ve (all) been there, done that. We’ve (some of us) bandaged war wounds shou


In defence of nepotism

Views - 3110 Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00

   Did the headline confuse you? Good… because, if you’re going to read this article to its end, and to its logical conclusion, keep in mind that everything is not what it seems. There needs to be a slightly satirica


Of Scarlet Pimpernels – and other red herrings

Views - 3082 Thursday, 15 October 2015 00:00

 Now, I’m not sure what names the PM and/or the MP is/are calling each other in their un-Parliamentary thoughts right now. Or, more likely, with what encomiums in their own minds they are congratulating themselves – and, perhaps,


Caesarean Republicanism: The silence of the lambs?

Views - 2673 Wednesday, 7 October 2015 00:00

  Shall the taxpayer have to see and bear a reinstitution of the lionising of local politicos that was par for the course under the previous Caesars?     A funny thing happened on the way to the UNGA for


UN, Uncle Nepo, and once more unto the breach, unbelievers

Views - 3109 Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00

  By now all of Lanka knows the President was accompanied to the UNGA forum by his son, who had no official standing in the Sri Lankan delegation, and that the young man in question was a visible part of the President’s entourag


Rationalising the “Third Republic”

Views - 3587 Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:10

A little thinking – like a lot of learning – can be a dangerous thing. An excess of it can be downright subversive. The trinity behind a recent exhibition <Corridors of Power: Drawing & Modelling Sri Lanka’s Tryst with Dem


There’s viral life in the new political “culture”

Views - 3453 Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00

What has come to pass in the Republic in the name of constitutional game-changing cannot be allowed to pass – to pass into time past by default, and opportunities bypassed by design – without rigorous engagement  


Big government – bad for good governance?

Views - 3340 Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00

Did you feel that democracy is the worst form of government? Except, of course, for all the others that have ever been! Could it be, though, that we have seen too little of it, of late, to appreciate it least when it works best... We ha


Why National Govt. is not the new political culture it’s meant to be

Views - 3427 Wednesday, 2 September 2015 00:00

The Government wants the real Opposition to be part of the Government. A minority party with a minor fraction of our house of commons to its name wants to sit as the main Opposition. And the Legislature is looking increasingly like a char


When winners lose out to runners-up

Views - 2863 Friday, 28 August 2015 00:00

Now it looks as if the next two years at least will be a much more but still compromised benevolent oligarchy in which ‘national government’ means precious little in terms of accountability to the people  


Election exam done; a return to reality!

Views - 2562 Friday, 21 August 2015 00:00

There is every possibility that the UNP and its partners in constituting the new government might interpret the people’s will as a mandate to implement the plans spelled out in its election manifesto. That would be missing much of t


As you vote, think on this...

Views - 2595 Monday, 17 August 2015 00:05

By the time you read this, most probably, the die would have been cast – together with your vote.  Or is there still the faintest glimmer that you’ll catch a vision of what I’m envisaging, before you rush off to your frien


All systems "green" or, go (So what are the red flags?)

Views - 2589 Thursday, 13 August 2015 00:00

  If you were hoping that the post-‘Revolution’ parliamentary election would be fought over matters of principle, you might be quite mistaken – and/or rather disappointed. The chips are down again, and all the custom


‘Tsar Wars’, or how the evil empire strikes out

Views - 3476 Tuesday, 11 August 2015 00:13

In George Lucas’ classic space trilogy ‘Star Wars’ (actually, a trilogy of trilogies), it was easy to discern who the good guys and the bad guys were... or who were meant to be as such. The idealistic hero with stars in his eyes,


Politicos fly too low, so people learn fast!

Views - 2010 Wednesday, 5 August 2015 00:00

     It’s been a rude awakening, it has this week. The electorate went to sleep dreaming of good governance and a free and fair election at last, hopefully, but awoke sweating with fright at the sound of gunfir


Is "‘good’ governance" good (enough) for us?

Views - 2213 Wednesday, 29 July 2015 00:14

  This, among other questions, has been on many hearts and minds in the past six months or so. After the initial euphoria of early January 2015 died down, it began to be clear – or, at least, strongly felt – that


Better governance had better be made of sterner stuff than this

Views - 2275 Wednesday, 22 July 2015 00:00

  Yes, the murders have stopped. No, not even the odd abduction captures the headlines anymore. Even in the good old, bad old days, there was hardly any reportage about corruption or fiscal/fiduciary crime by the powers that


No more bookies, crookies, rookies – and no more humbuggery, either!

Views - 2767 Friday, 17 July 2015 00:00

Now that nominations are in and planted, there’s a month to go before the fruit of our voting on them can be ripened, plucked, and harvested. In the short run-up to nominations, and in the long haul before elections, the clarion call has bee


Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit


Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi


The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation


Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc


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