20 March, 2019

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Single Minded Leadership Is Necessary For National Reconciliation

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

One of the positive features of the present time is the unity of the top leadership of the mainstream political parties. This was demonstrated in the eastern district of Ampara last week when the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) held its annual convention under the leadership of Minister Rauf Hakeem. The event was attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition and Tamil National Alliance leader R Sampanthan, and Minister Mano Ganesan of the Democratic People’s Front representing the Indian-origin Tamils. Each of these leaders represents the mainstream of each of the ethnic communities that together constitute the Sri Lankan nation. There was a visible manifestation of goodwill and partnership between the respective party leaders on this occasion which was evidenced by the speeches they made.

The situation today is far removed from that described soul searchingly by Neville Jayaweera in his memoirs titled “Exorcising The Past And Holding The Vision” published in 2014. In that book the former civil servant recounts how government leaders in the 1960s considered those of the Tamil ethnicity to be potential enemies of the state. When he was sent as a young man to head the administrative service in Jaffna as the Government Agent, he was instructed to be tough on any requests or demands made to him the Tamil political parties and their leaders. The orders he received from his superiors were that, he “should be unrelenting towards Tamil demands, and wherever possible, force confrontations with them and establish the government’s undisputed ascendancy.” In his memoirs he also refers to the petty manner in which the government leaders of those years turned down opportunities to visit the north.

There was a relapse to that way of thinking and behaving during the post-war period under the previous Rajapaksa led government when triumphalism and a national security mindset held sway. The election of President Sirisena and the formation of the new government under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in 2015 changed the situation at the top, but not yet down the line. The problem today is that although the situation is greatly transformed at the higher levels of the polity, this consciousness has yet to seep down to the lower levels. Even as I was writing this column I received a telephone call from a staff member of my organization who had taken a group of women on an exchange visit to the east of the country saying that the police were questioning her and asking her about the programme. In the context of being questioned by the police, and the fear it automatically generates after years of national security-centered governance and impunity, my colleague said she felt her group was intimidated.

Slow Movement 

The slow movement when it comes to releasing of Tamil prisoners, suspected of having links with the LTTE, but against whom no charges have been framed despite the passage of many years, is another indication of the reluctance to give up the old ways of thinking on the part of the state authorities. A civil society colleague of mine Ruki Fernando who was arrested two years ago on trumped up charges of conniving in the revival of the LTTE along with a Tamil Catholic priest, continues to remain under investigation by the state authorities. Both of them were released from detention a few days after their arrest, but the case against them continues. There is either inertia in the governmental system that prevents wrongs being righted in a fast track manner or else the government is not of single mind to enforce the ideals it stands for.

Under these circumstances, the sense of alienation of sections of the people, particularly those from the ethnic and religious minorities, and even civil society, continues to fester in relation to the Sri Lankan state, even though at the highest levels of the polity there has been a remarkable change. The danger inherent in this situation is that a change at the top that is not supported by a similar change at the bottom can become unsustainable. There is a continuing and active effort on the part of a section of the polity that is influenced by the so-called Joint Opposition to bring in nationalist issues and to fan the flames of communal discord. The rally they held in Colombo last week demonstrated that they continue to muster a degree of popular support and their messages of narrow ethno-religious nationalism continue to possess resonance.

So far the government has not taken the ideological battle to the people. The government committed itself to constitutional reform to bring good governance to the country when it campaigned at the last presidential and general elections. It has also committed itself to the transitional justice process of reconciliation when it signed up to the UN Human Rights Council resolution. But after doing that it has been non-committal on what sorts of solutions and institutions it intends to set up to vindicate its promises. Instead of directly championing the causes it believes in, and leading from the front, it has appointed two civil society-led bodies to engage in consultations with the people. One is the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms while the other is the Consultation Task Force on reconciliation. In all likelihood, the two public consultations that the government has set in motion are likely to show that the people also have two or more perspectives on all issues of controversy.

Exclusion Problem 

The problem faced by the government is that it is not formed by one single party or even dominated by one party, but is a National Unity government that is composed of two parties that are sharing power. The advantage of this arrangement is that the government is able to enjoy a 2/3 majority in Parliament so long as the respective leaders of the two parties are in agreement. However, even when there is broad agreement on the direction in which the two parties would like the government to go, such as in relation to the Rule of Law, there is no agreement on the details. This is why new laws such as the Right to Information Act are not getting passed in the manner that was expected. In the circumstances of two parties and two leaders, there is the likelihood of the government not being able to give clear messages to the people.

Although parliamentarians unanimously approved the constitutional resolution on converting parliament into a constitutional assembly, there is still no clarity on the extent to which they agree on the three main constitutional reform issues of the executive presidency, electoral reform and the devolution of power. The absence of consensus can also be clearly seen in the President’s repeated assertion that foreign judges are not necessary for Sri Lanka’s accountability process whereas the UNHRC resolution that the government has co-signed specifies the reverse. In the absence of clear messages from the government, the people’s confidence in the government is likely to be eroded. There is no alternative to the government getting its act together and giving the political leadership to the reforms that are needed.

However, there is a healing and trust building role for the civil society-led public consultations to play. At two of the consultations I attended I heard members of the ethnic and religious minorities express their concerns about being left out. They mentioned that the issues of Muslim displacement from the North and the Muslim resettlement in Wilpattu had never been fairly represented and needed to be. These Muslims wished that someone other than Muslims would take up their cause. And there were Tamils who said that they doubted that they would get justice in the end. Both these opinions were expressed privately as those who appreciate the improvement over the past do not wish to be seen as grumblers and spoilers. Therefore even as the political leaders all communities come together as they did at the SLMC annual convention it is important that at other levels of society, and of the state, they give the necessary single minded leadership so that those who currently feel excluded are made to feel included.

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  • 1
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    Start from the pre shool

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      Mr. Perera, Sri Lanka will soon be faced with the Mahinda Rajapassa Red Shirt movement in Colombo – as happened in streets of Bangkok after Taksin was ousted in Thailand. There will soon be chaos in Lanka with MR getting bolder by the day due to failure of the Sira-Wickramasinghe regime to hold him accountable.

      This will be because of the venal stupidity and corruption of Sirisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe who are dancing the jig with a jumbo cabinet of corrupt politicians, rather than holding MR, family, and cronies accountable in a transparent way.

      Rajapaksa and his brothers must be jailed for their financial crimes against the people of Sri Lanka.

      All this hot air about reconciliation is useless and will soon be over due the the failure of Ranil and Sira to hold accountable the Jarapassa brothers and their corrupt cronies.

      This reconciliation talk is good hot air for the international community and US but does not fool the Sri Lanka masses.

      • 1
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        Dr. JP: Single minded leadership is needed to fight CORRUPTION and hold ACCOUNTABLE the politicians in Miracle of Modayas!

      • 0
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        Dr. JP: Single minded leadership is needed to fight CORRUPTION and hold ACCOUNTABLE the politicians in Miracle of Modayas.

        Only then can there be REAL reconciliation. Today we have only hot air on reconciliation to distract Modayas.

    • 0
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      This is for sure right.

      Right at the moment all good moves are being blocked, nothing big is achieved in terms of justice.

      Those the victimized folks such as Thajudeens family are left to wait further not even having any hopes about the justice.

      And this is same with Lasantha victims too..

      Thi sis same with Hirunikas father murder case too…

      ONLY THE LITTLE BABY GIRLS rape was investigated and the man raped the small chiled was sentensed to death. That is all…

      Meaning just 1% justice is proved.. nothing else. Mr President, Mr PM… let all differences aside, it is high time you to fullfil your duties.

      MR and their cronies should be arrested
      Gota and their cornies shold be arrest
      Basil and their cronies shold be arrested

      Namal and Yoshita boys should be arrested.

      All in all not in a revengeful manner, but to give fairness to longing citizen of this country.

  • 5
    1

    The problem with this government is, although it knows what needs to be done, it is refusing to lock horns with issues. It is more concerned with the canines sniping at its heels and barking at its every turn. MR and his pack have sensed this lack of steely determination and are capitalizing on it.

    Chest beating that this government cannot be toppled in five years, is not enough to convince the increasing numbers of doubting Thomases amongst us about its capacity to move forward decisively. We need decisive action and forward movement on many fronts urgently. We understand that it is we who are the aggrieved and have been robbed of what is ours . The port city project and the issue of the recent electricity failures portray a government that is chaotic. Ranil’s inability to explain the justification for reversing his decision on the port city project, is nauseating. A president who is more worried about his party than the people who elected him, adds to the woes of this government. His statement on the prefabricated houses planned for 65000 displaced persons, lacked substance and was a cheap political gimmick. He is becoming increasingly prone to such utterances.

    Incidentally, there was no power here in Jaffna from around mid-night to about 9,15 am this morning and we yet donot know why.

    The people are no longer convinced by public rallies organized by those governing or those in the opposition. They know how the numbers are collected. People are waiting for decisive action and a quick turn around. We know enough about what MR and his government did right, wrong and very wrong. We also know that we yet do not know many things he did that were worse. But we are quite sick of hearing the previous government’ s misdemeanors. We want to see action to resolve problems, punish those who have committed grave crimes against this country and take this country forward rapidly and tangibly.

    What we hear is all talk and it is in most instances utter rubish or pontificstions of the ignorent. The overall quality of the huge cabinet is an utter disappointment.

    Many are wondering whether we have the political parties, the men/women and the right structures to govern us in the manner we expect. This our tragedy and shame.

    Dr.Rahasingham Narendran

  • 1
    1

    The problem with this government is, although it knows what needs to be done, it is refusing to lock horns with issues. It is more concerned with the canines sniping at its heels and barking at its every turn. MR and his pack have sensed this lack of steely determination and are capitalizing on it.

    Chest beating that this government cannot be toppled in five years, is not enough to convince the increasing numbers of doubting Thomases amongst us about its capacity to move forward decisively. We need decisive action and forward movement on many fronts urgently. We understand that it is we who are the aggrieved and have been robbed of what is ours . The port city project and the issue of the recent electricity failures portray a government that is chaotic. Ranil’s inability to explain the justification for reversing his decision on the port city project, is nauseating. A president who is more worried about his party than the people who elected him, adds to the woes of this government. His statement on the prefabricated houses planned for 65000 displaced persons, lacked substance and was a cheap political gimmick. He is becoming increasingly prone to such utterances.

    Incidentally, there was no power here in Jaffna from around mid-night to about 9,15 am this morning and we yet donot know why.

    The people are no longer convinced by public rallies organized by those governing or those in the opposition. They know how the numbers are collected. People are waiting for decisive action and a quick turn around. We know enough about what MR and his government did right, wrong and very wrong. We also know that we yet do not know many things he did that were worse. But we are quite sick of hearing the previous government’ s misdemeanors. We want to see action to resolve problems, punish those who have committed grave crimes against this country and take this country forward rapidly and tangibly.

    What we hear is all talk and it is in most instances utter rubish or pontificstions of the ignorent. The overall quality of the huge cabinet is an utter disappointment.

    Many are wondering whether we have the political parties, the men/women and the right structures to govern us in the manner we expect. This our tragedy and shame.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
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    So.. The book “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” (In The Shadow Of A Sharp Edged Sword) by S.Thamilini, former head of the Tamil Tigers’ Women’s Political Wing, has become controversial, with one section of Tamils saying that its criticism of the militant outfit will weaken the Tamil case at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)..

    Usually that Great book promoter CMB Telegraph must have missed this book or news. So i thought i would inform them of this. After all ‘in journalism tuuth is a process’ what a good saying wish CMB telegraph will follow that grat saying. Dont want to be unbiased now do we.

    • 3
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      Ranil,

      More will be written on this book, in the coming days and weeks. The little that has been highlighted in the media confirms what I had heard from the IDPs as the war was ending and in the subsequent months. The UNHCR in its report last year has also clearly indicated that both parties had committed serious war crimes. Facts are stubborn and cannot be suppressed forever. The Tamil people as a whole know the truth, because they lived through it. The chest beating ultra nationalists in both communities may have a vested interest in denying the facts, but the people as an entity don’t.

      Thamilini (Sivagami Subramaniam), whatever she may be called now, seems to have answered the call of her concience.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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        Is there a video tape that is showing Thamilini speaking those in any stages? Especially it is in LTTE time. Then why is she saying these in a government time, which is against the LTTE but, you now starting to believe, is hiding the truth and not investigating anything? Did Thamilini was hijacked in her illness to write these? She was forced to contest election against TNA, earlier. Is that long project success? You know what Dr Varatharaja said about Lanakwe police,army and the paramiltary when he got out of the country? As doctor, can you explain the circumstances she developed cancer when she came out of the prison?

        You were with Old and New Royals to refuse accept the UN SG Expert Panel report, but now want to make “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” as the New Testament? That is not bad as long as the Foreign and Commonwealth Judges and Lawyers are ensured to participate in an inquiry. Will you call for the Foreign and Commonwealth Judges to be appointed to consider “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” as material witness in the investigation? Until you are not ready, don’t go for talk of any book. You are an opportunistic commentator.
        The problem with this government is, although it knows what needs to be done, There is no problem with the government. They are on the path of everybody predicted. My numerous comments in CT, though which are making me look like an old codger, is repeating the Ranil’s New York Visit to Ban ki Moon to have the UN SG Expert Panel Report withdrawn and his refusal to sign the Rome Treaty are firmly confirming that there will not be any inquiry into anything. Just the small girl Vidya’s DNA is refused to court and a false witness is being prepared to put the blame back on Vidya, Such is the heinous crime team the New Royals are.

        MR and his pack have sensed this lack of steely determination and are capitalizing on it. That is not Old kings suspicion; we have repeated that it was the election promise of the New Royals. It is not just something we keep repeating in CT, it was the promise given on the election platforms. That was not just the election promise only, but it was repeated by the New King two days ago and even Jehan has criticized that it in his latest essay to CT. So, hiding your motive, don’t pretend like you are foresighted person predicting something of others thoughts and assumptions.

        Old King is not sensing something new now. But it is you. You prayed EPDP. When you sensed they are not worth to pray, you left them and Prayed Old Royals. Then you sensed they are about to lose, you Prayed the New Royals. After seeing the Hyde Park you are joining Dayan. Old King is not sensing something new now. But it is you. We don’t have to sense anything on you, but we know who you are!

    • 5
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      Ranil

      Here is what Indian Express reported about the book:

      Fear of Being Disarmed Made Prabhakaran Dodge Political Settlement, Says Ex-Women’s Wing Leader

      By P.K.Balachandran

      Published: 19th March 2016 10:23 AM

      COLOMBO: Tiger Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran’s deep seated fear of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) being disarmed as a result of a peace process, prevented him from going for a political settlement with the Sri Lankan government, says Sivasubramanium Sivakamy, alias Thamilini, who headed the Women’s Political Wing of the militant outfit.

      In her book “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), written a few months before cancer claimed her life in October 2015, Thamilini says that Prabhakaran firmly believed that his security as well that of the LTTE and the Tamils rested only in the possession of weapons, and that all would be lost if a peace settlement meant the LTTE’s laying down arms.

      According to Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumar Mahadevan, she points out that several opportunities to strike a peace deal with Colombo went unutilized because of the fear of “losing the gun”.
      Thamilini has identified the principal causes of the LTTE’s defeat in war.

      “Among them are war fatigue, having fought for 30 long years continuously, and infiltration of the LTTE’s set up by Sri Lankan intelligence. The advancing age of the commanders was also a factor. Many of the top commanders were 45 to 50 years old at the time of the 2006-2009 Eelam War IV. Thamilini recalls how many of them could not run a mile,” Jeyakumar told Express.

      Threats Received

      A British citizen, Jeyakumar was under threat of arrest when he sought permission from the Kilinochchi police to release Thamilini’s book publicly on March 19.

      “The police wanted me to delete some pictures showing the LTTE, saying that it was illegal to publish such pictures, and threatened to arrest me. But they failed to show under what law it was illegal. I then sent a text message to theater personality Dharmasiri Bandaranayake in Colombo, who approached Cabinet Minister for National Reconciliation, Mano Ganeshan. Ganeshan in turn contacted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Secretary, who got the police to permit the book launch,” Jeyakumar said.

      There has been criticism about the book from a section of the Tamil Diaspora in Europe and the local Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP S.Sritharan.

      “When I went to invite him for the function, Sritharan urged me not to release the book as it would affect the Tamils’ case on war crimes. I told him that the book has nothing in it to warrant that conclusion and asked him to state his views at the function,” Jeyakumar said.
      The social media is being used by the Europe based Diaspora to portray Thamilini as a stooge of the Lankan establishment. But Jeyakumar is unfazed. He plans to get the book translated into English and Bandaranayake is to get it translated into Sinhalese.

      Cancer Patient

      An excellent speaker and motivator with a commanding physical presence, Thamilini came from a poor agricultural family of Paranthan in the Northern Province. Though a bright student she had to quit studies at the high school level because of the disruptions wrought by war. She joined the LTTE, and over a period of 18 years, rose to head its women’s political wing.

      When the war ended in May 2009, she surrendered to the Lankan armed forces and was interrogated for nine months by the CID. Later, she was lodged in the Welikade prison in Colombo. After two years in Welikade, she was sent for a year’s “rehabilitation” as per a court order. While in detention she was struck by cancer and was treated at the Kalubowila and Maharagama hospitals by Sinhalese oncologists, Dr.Aloka Pathirana and Dr.Mahendra Perera.

      When she was released in 2013, she married Jeyakumar, a friend who had left his job in the UK to come back to Lanka to nurse her to health.
      Fear of Being Disarmed Made Prabhakaran Dodge Political Settlement, Says Ex-Women’s Wing Leader

      newindianexpress.com

      Ranil

      Some say she was the zealous female equivalent of Gota’s enforcers. Some remember how badly she treated the Muslim women just before they were evicted from North. Now she is gone, what is her legacy.

      The female children who were forced into joining LTTE had to have their hair cut very short. This made them easily identifiable, target of army abuse, many never returned. She enforced this stupid code ruthlessly.

      What was the big idea behind short hair strategy?

  • 7
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    Well the types of [Edited out] Jehan are now in pins after seeing the Jana Balaya at Hyde Park the other day, the phony opposition represented by the TNA is not going to cover the Governments nudity. The fact that Bodhi Sira can beat his chest only in Ampara in front of the non Sinhala speaking crowed is testament to his popularity.
    Genuine reconciliation will happen when[Edited out] like Jehan and his ilk relocate to Burma may be and talk about the Rohingiyas and allow the natural process of all in the society to give and take on the day to day social issues. For example in Jaffna the people are now feeling the importance of the maintenance work done by the Army but the diaspora funded Viggie has his Vettie up his thighs wanting the army out of Viggie Land with the Hindian sponsored posh housing with furniture and all so the Dalits can continue worshiping the Vellala Viggie and his diaspora sposnors while living in squalid destitute conditions.

  • 0
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    Police Heroes Day is being celebrated in Batticaloa.

    file:///C:/Users/dr.s/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/5JWF61CG/SriLankan_Airlines_Annual_Report_2011_2012.pdf

    The photos are self explanatory.
    Will this promote national reconciliation, when remembrance of those who died and disappeared in the war is forbidden.

  • 0
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    Not only single minded leadership but a non-partisan and strong minded leadership is essential for Sri Lanka at the present time. If a leader places his party and his power first cannot rule the country and develop the country and maintain a peaceful country. After the War and the present regime took power virtually on the votes of the minorities have failed miserably. It is more than an year now what has they done to put it on record. They have failed towards the minorities.
    The president has recently said that he would devolve powers to the provinces. How is he going to devolve powers and what powers is he going to devolve is the key question. The Tamils demand a federal form of government within a united Sri Lanka and that demand is on the manifesto presented by the TNA. Are the majority race willing to accede to this demand. We have to wait and see? When the government cannot release the Tamil political prisoners and release all private lands to its owners in the North so far, what can the Tamil people expect from this government or whatever government comes to power. The government has to consider its responsibilities under the Human Rights Act which states that a person has the right to peaceful enjoyment of all his or her possessions which includes the home and other lands. Has the government conceded this demand? No. Another Human Rights violation by the state.
    Democracy only works where there is a broad consensus about the distribution of wealth and power and it is because this consensus faces unprecedented stress, some factions resort to violence or even outright war.

    • 0
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      Mr Sellam
      “The Tamils demand a federal form of government within a united Sri Lanka and that demand is on the manifesto presented by the TNA. Are the majority race willing to accede to this demand. We have to wait and see?”

      You don’t have to wait to see if the majority would be willing to accede.

      They will not accept a Tamil Homeland unless the area outside the Tamil Homeland is declared a Sinhala homeland.

      Soma

      • 0
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        They will not accept a Tamil homeland unless the area outside the Tamil homeland is declared a Sinhala homeland – Soma

        There’s a serious mistake here

        Sinhala people’s homeland is the whole island, not any part

        So please; we the sinhalese want all the Sri Lankan community to consider the whole island as their homeland; Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burger, Malay..etc etc

        Shall we shed differences and live together as Sri Lankans in our motherland Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    1

    The Maithri-Ranil government lack the resoluteness of JR jayewardene despite his cunning as he did in the case of Sirimavo. They should act without losing time in dealing with the crimes and the dire corruption of the Rajapaksa family. They will eventually miss the bus if they prevaricate. They should get the justice system to get on with their work without delay.It looks as the Rakapakse crimes are being considered the norm of the times and the done thing. Bensen

    • 1
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      No Besen, times are changed from one another. JRJ s strategies functioned well in a time where Information technology was a dream of the people. Today, within seconds, you can spread lies and outreach masses.

      If one would check it again, will see -the 08 Jan 2015 revolution was majorly based on the propaganda made by 1mio young voters used Social Media in the country (in an out of the country)- latter is the correc tinfo.

      Today, even if a eagle is killed, that can go viral because of the IT.

      Be it on a far village or urban place, it connects each other wihtin seconds, SO people can change by hearing and getting to watch it. That is how info flow, even if some people stay as if Kirimati gilapu kumbulas, clay fed crocodiles for some reaons – latter may be unique to lanka.

  • 0
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    The Maithri-Ranil government lack the resoluteness of JR jayewardene despite his cunning as he did in the case of Sirimavo. They should act without losing time in dealing with the crimes and the dire corruption of the Rajapaksa family. They will eventually miss the bus if they prevaricate. They should get the justice system to get on with their work without delay.It looks as if the Rakapakse crimes are being considered the norm of the times and the done thing. Bensen

  • 0
    0

    I think outer cover of the book based on Justice is done – but inside pages are filled with all the bad contents. So long the contents are replaced with facts and lawful items, nothing can go to succeed to book being won the hearts and minds of the readers.
    The very same theory is the case with current problems being faced by srilankens. Govt is changed. It is a better one. But lot more to be changed if we have to expect the healthy fruits.

    I know one lawyer who worked for a devorce case with the client being from Europe. German man had got married ot a woman in Wadduwa or so. To handle the case, German man had been blacked mailed by the lawyer (lanken law college educated Lawyer) – again and again. The sums had risen up to 10 lacks of rupees. Poor german national s marriage had lasted just 1 year or so. he had been decieved by the family- the woman had an another illegal husband. This was planned by the couple from the begining on. Anyways, the lawyer had recently died by his over alcohol consumption. The German man has still beeen waiting to be free from his devorce case.

    This is how lanken lawyers work – a single exmaple oonly. THere is no system them to adhere there down. I think as it is the case in the EU countries, Lanken lawyers should have overseeing bodies so that the clients can expect the justice accordingly.

  • 0
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    The President must have the conscience to tell the Sinhala masses what he told the visiting IFRC Chef on the 3rd nst:
    ”it is people in the North and East who suffered most due to the protracted conflict and reconciliation should originate from the people in the South and it should be inculcated in their mindset”

  • 0
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    what about your “MIND”.

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