The deprivation of liberty under national security laws: What can be done to provide immediate relief?

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Brief During the past fortnight there have been many calls for the immediate repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Given the fluid and complex political context, and the upcoming parliamentary elections, it appears unlikely this will happen in the short term. However, there are a number of immediate measures […]

IMPLEMENTING THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT: THE FIRST STEP OF A LONG JOURNEY

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu In his first trip abroad to India, the new Foreign Minister has stated that the new government is committed to implementing the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Similarly, in his first address to Parliament after the formation […]

Will there be “Maithree” and “Yahapalanaya” for Navy occupied Mullikulam?

Last week, I went to Mullikulam, a beautiful and resourceful village in the Mannar district, which has been illegally occupied by the Navy for more than 7 years. It was my first visit for more than a year. The people didn’t seem to have any fresh hopes of reuniting as one community, regaining their lost […]

THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY AND THE SRI LANKAN STATE: MYTHS AND REALITIES

Photo courtesy The Business Times If there was a central plank to the common opposition platform in the presidential election, it was about what to do with the executive presidential system in general and the Eighteenth Amendment in particular, in view of the crisis of democratic governance created by the insidious authoritarianism and pervasive corruption […]

First week of “Good Governance”: Three Good Speeches, One Promise Kept and One Postponed

The One-Hundred-Day Programme of President Maithripala Sirisena (MS) was launched last week with three good speeches, one of two promises largely kept and the third postponed, hopefully to be fulfilled sooner rather than later. President Sirisena made three good speeches in the last seven days, the first at his swearing-in ceremony, the second in Kandy […]

Ideas for a Road Map for Truth and Justice in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Aquila Style The new year has brought significant changes in Sri Lanka. President Maithripala Sirisena and his Government face many challenges and opportunities. Reform has been promised and expectations are high. In the wake of the elections, Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka to canonize the country’s first saint was a highlight. Those […]

DONOUGHMORE, BUNDESTAG, WESTMINSTER, OR ‘YAHA PAALANAYA’? AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FOR THE REFORM OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SYSTEM

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images, via Huffington Post According to President Maithripala Sirisena’s timetable for his 100-day reform programme, the Standing Orders of Parliament are to be amended on 20th January to reform the parliamentary committee system. According to the 100days.lk website, “The Standing Orders will be amended and, in terms of Proposal 67/10 now […]

Charting a New Course: Sri Lankan Foreign Policy

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images, via Time There could not have been a better time to be a student or a professional of International Relations in Sri Lanka, given the geopolitical dynamics in the region. As one government official told me, “India and China are on the rise, we simply need to jump on this […]

Anti-Corruption Commission for Sri Lanka: Some thoughts

Photo via Transparency International There is renewed interest and concern among various quarters of Sri Lankan society about the need for a more effective system of preventing, investigating and curbing corrupt activities by government officials, politicians and those who are close to them. There is also a wide spread view among people that the existing […]

An end to culture of retaliation: Transitional justice in Sri Lanka

Photo via Asia News “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?”—St. Augustine “When will our conscience grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”—Eleanor Roosevelt Former President Mahinda Rajapaksha did not gracefully turn over power to Mr. Maithripala Sirisena after losing the election and […]

SECURING THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN THE NEW SRI LANKA: ESSENTIAL INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS

Cartoon by Awantha Artigala via Sri Lanka 16 days Chapter 11 of the common opposition candidate’s presidential election manifesto is devoted to media freedom. Among other things, it includes simple commitments such as lifting the bans on news websites run from abroad. Such infantile measures were typical of the tin-pot – and ultimately self-defeating – […]

Maithri’s Mandela Moment: An open letter to the President

Dear Mr President, Please accept my good wishes on your election victory on a platform for good governance, justice and fairness. During the past few weeks, we watched – first in astonishment, and then with mounting hope – how you set out as the underdog yet resolutely worked towards election victory. Your short and swift […]

‘The Jewel of the East yet has its Flaws’ – The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence

Image courtesy Sumith Wickramasinghe. For a wider examination of the issues covered in this article see my recently published book A Political Legacy of the British Empire – Power and the Parliamentary System in Post Colonial India and Sri Lanka, London: I. B. Tauris, 2013 Prologue The just concluded presidential election saw the election of […]

Presidential polls 2015: An electoral trial on biased fortunetelling

AFP PHOTO STR/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian I don’t know much about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reliance on astrology, despite India being a land full of astrologers­ – those with credibility and those of dubious repute – with millions of followers. But in the recent years, Sri Lanka put superstitious India to shame. We […]

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