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Remembering 1994: Violence interrupted, democracy restored

Photo courtesy Club Madrid May 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, amidst massive human rights violations by rival armies that killed thousands of civilians. While many Sri Lankans felt relieved to be free of the fear of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, communalism has since been […]

“We the People”: Reflections on Governance and Civic Engagement in Sri Lanka

Deshamanya Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda 17th Memorial Oration August 1, 2014, Sri Lanka Foundation It would not be an exaggeration to say that I was deeply humbled by the invitation to deliver the 17th Deshamanya Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Oration. At the outset, let me thank the members of the Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Trust for the honor […]

A TRIUMPH OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE? A PRELIMINARY COMMENT ON THE NMSJ’S ROAD MAP

Image by AFP’s Ishara Kodikara courtesy Foreign Correspondents Association Sri Lanka There was a remarkable image in the news recently. It was from the meeting of the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera’s National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) at which a ‘road map’ for the abolition of the executive presidency was launched on 24th July 2014. […]

In conversation with Kalana Senaratne: Religiosity, politics and identity in Sri Lanka

Kalana Senaratne is a distinguished columnist and researcher. Readers of Groundviews would be most familiar with his writing on the rise of militant Buddhism in Sri Lanka, though he has written consistently of issues of governance, rights, politics and religiosity since 2009. We caught up on TV recently to talk about at greater depth and […]

OVERCOMING THE POST-WAR MALAISE: WHY SRI LANKA NEEDS A REFORM MINISTRY AND WHAT IT SHOULD DO

The High Priests of Liberal Conservatism: Edmund Burke and D.S. Senanayake are the paradigms of thought and action for the Reform Ministry  [Photo credit: The Empire Youth Annual, 1952] “For centuries the Sinhalese and the Tamils have lived together in peace and amity. We have been governed by their kings and they by ours … […]

Understanding the National Question as a Pre-Democratic Problem: A Skeptical Note on the Southern Reform agenda

Photo by AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, via FT.com Five years after the end of the war, the Government has now started arguing that the war is not over. The Government doesn’t think the LTTE is finished. Even US and India seem to think that sections of the Tamil Diaspora are raising funds for a possible regroup […]

Attitudinal change necessary to give momentum to the Provincial councils

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian Sri Lanka on the threshold of change needs an overhaul of the entire democratic process and good governance. The three decade old war is over and expectations have been raised for a more tranquil future. People are looking forward to a life enriched by greater equity in society, guided by […]

The Search for a Political Solution Five Years after the War

Photo via Ministry of Mass Media and Information “The sovereignty of Sri Lanka is very much intact. And we want it to remain intact. We are Sri Lankans… And we don’t want Sri Lanka’s sovereignty to be impacted upon.” R. Sampanthan (Leader of the TNA), Al-Jazeera, 26 March 2014 Sri Lanka’s post-war politics has come […]

The Fragmented Republic: Reflections on the 1972 Constitution of Sri Lanka

Review of Welikala, Asanga, ed. The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice. 2 vols. Colombo: Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2012. 1-1038. ### “We seek your mandate to permit the members of Parliament you elect to function simultaneously as a Constituent Assembly to draft, adopt and operate a new Constitution. […]

THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY & REFORM STRATEGY: A PARTIAL CRITIQUE OF JAYAMPATHY WICKREMARATNE

Photo by Alexander Nikiforov Pro-Opposition strategists and ideologues placing their bets on abolishing the Executive Presidency while the Presidential election is less than a year away, is quite as sensible as placing one’s bets in one’s final year at campus, on agitation for the abolition of the university final exams, instead of studiously preparing to […]

The National Question: All about State Power

Photograph courtesy PACT S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Memorial Oration, 26 April 2014 I am thankful to the S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Commemoration Committee for inviting me to deliver this memorial oration on the occasion of the 37th death anniversary of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C., a revered leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. I am told that I am only the […]

The National and International Significance of the 13th Amendment

Image courtesy DBS Jeyaraj It appears to be widely believed in our country that Indian foreign policy, particularly in relation to Sri Lanka, is shaped by the ethnic politics of Sri Lanka. Disseminating such a belief may serve the interests of various political leaders in diverse ways. It may help to sustain the morale of […]

Making Provincial Administration Work in the North

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian These days media often speak of conflicts between the center and provincial administration, especially between the Northern Provincial Council’s (NPC’s) Chief Minister (CM) / Members and the Governor of the Province. The CM had been known to me for some time as a gentle neighbor, Judge and the Governor as […]

Sovereignty – Is it a Defence to cover up?

Image from DBS Jeyaraj.com. This article was first published in Hulftsdorp Law Journal, Colombo Law Society (2014) Introduction The term sovereignty is frequently confronted with hostile claims. Human Right and Anti Corruption Movements are often challenged by various groups with different notions and ideologies on sovereignty.  The purpose of this brief article is to examine […]

Nelson Mandela’s Legacy to the World: Some Less Celebrated Aspects

Photograph courtesy National Geographic Give me that man That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him In my heart’s core Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2 The death of the moral colossus in the politics of our time has occasioned a worldwide celebration of all things bright and beautiful that he represented in such […]