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Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers: Reflections from visit to Sri Lanka

Photo by DushiYanthini Kanagasabapathipillai I first visited Sri Lanka in 2003. I took leave from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship for a short humanitarian stint with a Sri Lankan NGO during a Norwegian Peace Initiative-ceasefire. The civil war spanning over 25 years ended with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) […]

Are Sri Lankan Tamils prone to collective political suicide?

Photo by AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena via SBS We have entered the ninth decade since the Donoughmore Reforms leading to the first State Council elections of 1931. Through the early part of these eight and a half decades, Sri Lankan Tamils had occupied a dominant position in this country, politically, economically and socially. The leading political institution […]

Bikes, Helmets and Public Safety Concerns

The official government news portal of Sri Lanka recently reported that a ban on full-face helmets will be re-imposed starting April 02. The report argues that the “face of the motorcyclist should remain open for easy identification.” The ban, which was initially set to be imposed on March 21, is expected to counter the presumed […]

‘Naya Qanoon’ and the 19th Amendment

Photo courtesy Bloomberg The draft 19th Amendment reminds me of the story ‘Naya Qanoon’ (New Constitution) written by the late Saadat Manto, regarded by many as the finest writer of short stories in Urdu and as the greatest South Asian writer of the 20th century. Set in pre-independence Lahore of the 1930s the main protagonist […]

The Bond Issue Controversy: An Analysis

Image courtesy Ada Derana By Sam Samarasinghe and Dushyantha Mendis The issue of government bonds on February 27 has raised a huge controversy, involving questions as to the competence of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), and also allegations of insider dealing. The government has been slow […]

Dealing with two Asian superpowers: President Sirisena’s visit to China

Image courtesy Asia One Sri Lanka stands to benefit enormously by dealing positively with the two Asian super powers, India and China. The two countries are potential rivals. The two Asian whales may not fight but a small fish can get crushed when whales dance. Sri Lanka has to be mindful of that when dealing […]

Sri Lanka’s political moment: Rediscovering our kinship and common history

Photo courtesy EPA/M.A.PUSHPA KUMARA via Sky News As the new administration has begun to unpack promises made during a hasty election campaign, it is clear that they are constrained by their own political capacity, the limitations of a minority government and more generally by what is politically feasible at present. Within the government, ministerial appointments have […]

Sri Lankan National Anthem: Symbolism, Nationalism, Racism and Other Stories

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte via Channel 4 To write a piece of this nature while holding an academic position in a state university is quite a controversial move. Those who read this piece purely for the sake of critiquing it might find ample fuel in it to provoke the fires. Some may perceive this to be […]

Sovereignty and Colombo Port City

Image courtesy Yamu Throughout the world, the owning or holding of and that belongs to another sovereign nation, termed “territories held” have recently been largely returned. The Panama Canal was returned to Panama in January 2000, Hong Kong was returned to China by the United Kingdom in 1997, and Portugal returned Macau Island to China in […]

The other side of Narendra Modi’s Sri Lanka visit

Photograph via Quartz Ever since becoming the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy, Narendra Modi has concentrated on building strong diplomatic ties with foreign nations. The process began with the swearing-in ceremony of the new Indian Prime Minister when Modi extended a formal invite to the heads of state of neighbouring countries which included […]