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Sri Lanka’s Newfound (Cautious) Optimism

Photo courtesy Colombo Gazette Amra Ghouse, Kumaran Nadesan, Suthamie Poologasingham, Nima Ranawana and Viranjith Tilakaratne When Sri Lanka celebrated its 67th Independence Day on February 4, it did so filled with hope that it can finally realize its true social, political and economic potential. Many Sri Lankan Canadians too are now cautiously optimistic about that […]

Signs of Blemishes in Good Governance

Photo courtesy Bloomberg Sam Samarasinghe and Chandrasiri Seneviratne In the first three weeks of its tenure the Sirisena/Wickramasinghe administration has generally adhered to the principles of good governance in their effort to implement the One-Hundred Day Program. President Sirisena’s interview on Rupavahini TV last weekend further buttressed his good governance credentials. Both President Maithripala Sirisena […]

Memory and Movement: An Independence Day Reflection

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte, via RFI Independence Day reminds us that we are one country called to become one reconciled people. Experience teaches that when addressed, dominant national realities become paths to reconciliation. Economic dignity The real enemy is not next door but at the economic extremes. Poverty is humiliating; excessive wealth intoxicates. Since there […]

Sri Lanka’s political moment

  Image via Maithripala Sirisena A change of guard The future of Sri Lanka’s democracy has reached a pivotal point. On the 9th of January, it awoke after decades of paralytic slumber. The nepotism, corruption and excesses of the Rajapakse regime were not unknown or unsuspected; but Mahinda himself was seen as a strong leader […]

#icanChangeSL & #wecanChangeSL: Shaping a new Sri Lanka

Engage with this campaign in Tamil (புதிய இலங்கையை வடிவமைப்போம்…) or Sinhala (ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අනාගතය හැඩගැස්වීම සදහා…) too! ### The Presidential poll of 8 January 2015 inspired the largest number of voters in Sri Lanka’s history to turn out to elect a new president. The #IVotedSL campaign, which went viral in the lead up to and on the day […]

Sri Lanka: A Democratic Revolution in the Making?

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian by Rohini Hensman and Faizun Zackaria A time for gratitude Two disasters were recently averted in Sri Lanka. The first would have been the re-election of the corrupt and brutal Rajapaksa regime in the presidential election of 8 January 2015. For this we must be grateful, first and foremost, to democracy […]

An Eastminster for a New Sri Lanka: The First XI Institutional Reforms for a Parliamentary State

Photograph courtesy Article 14 blog “Vous l’avez voulu [You asked for it], George Dandin” mischievously exclaimed the Soulbury Commission’s report 70 years ago implying that their recommendation of the British parliamentary system was at Ceylonese instigation if anything went wrong. The report quoted French playwright Molière’s 1668 comedy Dandin, and defended their counsel that Ceylon […]

A Whistleblower Protection Act needs to Accompany the proposed Freedom of Information Act

Image courtesy Transparency International By S W R de A Samarasinghe & Tissa Jayatilaka The presidential election results of 8 January suggest that a significant segment of our electorate concurred with the assertion of the then common Opposition that bribery and corruption that tainted the administration of the incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa which, in turn, […]

Revisiting Sampur: How Long Will it Take to Return Home?

By Bhavani Fonseka and Mirak Raheem The election of a new President has unleashed high expectations of change for the better. Although for some the expectations relate to macro issues of constitutional reform and good governance, for others their hopes are more basic: that of survival, of returning to their own homes and rebuilding their […]

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 […]