Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Road to Sri Lanka's Economic Recovery lies in freedom of Tamil IDPs...!!!

Wanni IDPs: The scam continues

Road to Lanka's recovery lies in freedom
Point of view
By Rohini Hensman

It was a relief to hear that the government was at last responding to mounting domestic and international criticism, and had begun releasing the Wanni IDPs. Perhaps the shocking report in the Sunday Times on September 6 about human trafficking at the internment camps was partly responsible.

National securiyt threat? An internally displaced woman inside the Vavuniya camp (File photo)
An exemplary piece of investigative journalism, it revealed that up to 20,000 IDPs have been ransomed by desperate relatives. This exposes so-called 'screening' as a cover for a lucrative flesh trade, carried out with the alleged collusion of the authorities.

One would have to be naïve indeed to believe that those who have been ransomed are 'innocent' while those who remain are more likely to be LTTE cadres. On the contrary, anyone in the camps who had any value for the LTTE diaspora would certainly have escaped by now. Conversely, we can be sure that the unfortunate souls in these camps are of no interest to whatever remains of the LTTE.

The UN too seems to have woken up to the fact that by funding these camps it is colluding in a crime against humanity - the denial of liberty and other fundamental human rights to a civilian population - and has made it clear that it cannot continue doing so much longer. UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe reiterated the demand that the Wanni IDPs should be granted freedom of movement during his recent visit.

The whole issue of 'screening', which has dragged on for more than four months, should be stopped. The best proof that the LTTE is no longer a threat in Sri Lanka is the release of top LTTE cadres Daya Master and George Master, who were with Prabakaran almost to the very end. Would the authorities have released them on bail if there were any danger from the LTTE? Hardly. If they can be released, why are lakhs of innocent civilians being detained? Did the President avoid the UN General Assembly because he was unable to answer these questions?

Release should not be confused with resettlement. IDPs who wish to go and live outside the camps should be free to do so. Those who wish to remain in the camps until their original habitats are de-mined and reconstructed should be allowed to remain, but should be free to move in and out of the camps instead of being imprisoned in them as they are now. The visit of the UN Secretary-General's envoy for refugee rights Walter Kalin provides an ideal opportunity to announce the release of all the Wanni IDPs and end this chapter in our history.

Speedy resettlement of all IDPs should also be carried out. This should include not only IDPs who fled the recent fighting but also those who were displaced earlier, including Muslims displaced in 1990.
This is the only way to reverse the ethnic cleansing and rebuild integrated communities.

An unnecessary obstacle to resettlement is created by the government's designation of some of the areas from which people were displaced as 'High Security Zones' (HSZs). Earlier attempts to dismantle these were stalled by the argument that they were necessary so long as the LTTE had not been disarmed. Now that the LTTE has been disarmed, the only way their persistence can be explained is as a form of ethnic discrimination, since in practically every case, the people displaced by them are Tamils and Muslims.

The process of resettlement is incomplete until people displaced by HSZs have also been granted the right of return. But, some people argue, the LTTE is still a threat, and therefore we need to retain the HSZs, along with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency provisions. Is this true?
Is the war over?

Back in May, President Rajapaksa gave a speech in which he claimed that 'our motherland has been completely freed from the clutches of separatist terrorism'. He spoke of 'the proud victory we have achieved today by defeating the world's most ruthless terrorist organization' and 'the breakdown of their armed strength'. There was no ambiguity about his words: he told us that the war was over, the LTTE defeated, its armed strength broken down.

On this understanding, there were widespread celebrations, and the President gained enormous popularity. There is no reason to suppose that the President was not sincere. Yet last month a senior government official was reported as saying that the LTTE was still capable of reorganising in Sri Lanka, and this month IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne reiterated that the threat of the Tamil Tigers was still alive in Sri Lanka.

On the face of it, these people are implying that the President was not telling the truth when he said that Sri Lanka had been completely freed from separatist terrorism. So why does the President tolerate such insults from his underlings?

The reason seems to be that the government is caught in the same trap of war-dependence which was the downfall of the LTTE. A war justifies repressive measures that would never be acceptable in peacetime, and the LTTE would have been unable to function without these. That is why it broke one ceasefire after another, let slip one opportunity after another to negotiate a just peace. But this had a disastrous effect on its support base. Karuna's defection was only the visible tip of a vast iceberg of discontent, as those who had believed the LTTE would deliver them from fear, humiliation and violence realised that it offered them only more of the same. Their disillusionment and consequent withdrawal of support helped the state to defeat the LTTE.

Now the Rakapaksa regime faces the same dilemma: if the war is over, how can it justify measures that give absolute and unaccountable power to the state? So it has to invent an 'LTTE threat' in order to continue with policies that would be unacceptable in peacetime. But the people of Sri Lanka are not fools. They will realise that this 'threat' is simply being concocted to justify disastrous economic and political choices.

We now have a government that depends on foreign funding: the Ministry of Finance and Planning reported in August 2008 that the foreign debt stood at 1.39 trillion rupees. The IMF loan has eased the immediate problem, but at the cost of getting us deeper in debt. If the EU GSP+ facility is lost, the economy will plunge even deeper in the red. In this context, detaining lakhs of civilians and expanding the armed forces constitute unnecessary and ruinous expenditures.

The way forward
The social and political costs are equally huge. Horrific reports of police brutality result from rampant impunity for crimes committed by politicians in power and the police. This impunity, in turn, is fostered by the subservience of the rule of law to the PTA and Emergency Regulations.

The only way to reverse the degradation of our economy and polity is to acknowledge that the war is over and take the appropriate measures: release all the Wanni IDPs immediately, slash military spending, dismantle the paramilitaries, redeploy demobilised soldiers to civilian reconstruction tasks, replace military and ex-military administrators with civilian ones, dismantle the HSZs, resettle all displaced civilians including those displaced by HSZs, repeal the PTA and emergency regulations, restore democratic rights, and release J.S. Tissainayagam and others incarcerated for exercising the right to freedom of expression.

The best way to ensure that Sri Lanka retains its EU GSP+ facility is to do the right thing, failing which, the government must take full responsibility for the lost jobs and revenue.

* The writer is an independent scholar and writer

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sinhala President:We are giving you this land after the country has been liberated from terrorism!.... Tamils are in Death Camps! Sinhalese get lands!

President tells at Ranbima land distribution ceremony:

I won’t mortgage Motherland

Rafik Jalaldeen

President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised the nation that he will not allow anyone to mortgage the Motherland or auction it under any circumstances.Addressing the gathering at the handing over of land deeds ceremony Ranbima at Temple Trees yesterday, President Rajapaksa said promises given under the Mahinda Chintana were being achieved one by one uninterrupted.

“People had lost their hopes, interest and trust in politicians who had promised to fulfid their dreams, specially the youth. Political promises during the election campaigns were empty pledges. But we have promised what we can achieve. We are using the Mahinda Chintana practically and it is being achieved one by one,” he added. “People today do not accept false promises. Now you can’t forget pledges. People will not allow that,” he said.

President Rajapaksa said the Government had fulfilled many promises. The Norochcholai coal power plant, Ihala Kotmale projects, flyover bridges, Kerawalapitiya power plant and many other road development programs are in the process and many have already been built. These development programs have made the lives of people easy,” he added.

*Around 2,000 land deeds given under fifth phase of Ranbima project

*Government has fulfilled many promises
The President noted that some had questioned in Parliament about the loans and funds brought to the country, as well as about the GSP+ matter. “We can’t obtain a loan without approval from Parliament. We have to submit the details of expenditure to the World Bank at the end of the year. I advise these people not to be confined inside air-conditioned rooms but visit the country to see what the Government has achieved,” he added.

While there are many matters of concern, a few are concerned about chanting pirith and alms-giving at Temple Trees. “I did not ask these people what had happened to the weapons brought for the Security Forces during their rule and what had happened to the weapons and other equipment brought to the country during the ceasefire Agreement and to whom those arms were given, or to whom a two third power of the coast was given,” he said.

The President challenged the Opposition to prove if the Government did not achieve what it had promised to the public. President Rajapaksa said as a youngest Member of Parliament during Hector Kobbekaduwa’s tenure as Agriculture Minister under the leadership of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike when the Opposition opposed the Land Reform Commission Act (LRCA) he raised his hand to protest against the Opposition.

“I am glad today to handover Ranbima deeds to the people with the same hands I raised to support the LRCA.

We are giving you this land after the country has been liberated from terrorism,” he said.

President Rajapaksa said people must think of the country’s development and work towards that end. “The lands given to you by the Government should be benefited and use for the future of your children and the motherland,” he added.

Over 300,000 land deeds will be given to people under Ranbima. A total of 15,000 land deeds were given under this project. Around 2,000 land deeds were given yesterday at Temple Trees under the fifth phase of the Ranbima project.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


To learn from China

By Cheranka Mendis

The ties between China, one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the leading Asian exporter of textiles and garments to the US and EU, and Sri Lanka have always been strong, even prior to the bilateral agreements that started off in 1952.

But while China has boomed up the ladder, Sri Lanka is lagging behind; mainly due to the internal conflict which existed for a number of years and due to the political undercurrents of the country. Finally out of the black period, Sri Lanka is now ready to lunge forward and seize the missed opportunities, and would do well to learn from our ally, China.

“China modified its strategies from time to time, keeping in tune with the ever changing patterns and trends of the world. These policies have helped us to keep abreast, and to modulate new policies and planning methods,” Ambassador for China in Sri Lanka, Yang Xiuping, asserted at the ‘Sri Lanka-China Business Forum’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the Sri Lanka - China Business Council and the Sri Lanka China Friendship Foundation, held yesterday.

“With a nominal GDP of USD 4.4 trillion when measured in exchange rate terms. China is now positioned as the third largest economy in the world, after US and Japan. We also contribute 19% to the world’s economic growth,” Ms. Xiuping said.

“During the last 30 years, China’s economy has changed from a centrally planned system to a more market-oriented economy - one that practises two economic systems - with a rapidly growing private sector. China became a major player in the global economy and is now called the factory of the world. In 2009, even amidst the global financial credit crunch, China’s growth rate is expected to be 8.2 per cent (source: ADB) and is expected to go even higher in 2010 to 8.9 per cent,” added Guest Speaker, Secretary General, Colombo Plan Secretariat, Dato’ Patricia Yoon.

“In restructuring its economy, China executed gradual price liberalisation, fiscal decentralization and increased autonomy for state enterprises. It laid the foundation of a diversified banking system, developed the stock markets, promoted rapid growth of the non-state sector and opened the economy to foreign trade and investment. These reforms led to huge efficiency gains. China’s GDP has increased tenfold since 1978,” said Ms. Yoon.

Sri Lanka too needs proper planning and well placed strategies to overcome the economical challenges in the future.

Giving an overview of the China - Sri Lanka economic relationship, Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies, Saman Kelegama stated that the total trade between the two countries has grown steadily and has almost doubled since2005. Trade between the two countries was recorded at USD 660 in 2005, which increased to USD 1138.3 in 2008. “Sri Lankan exports to China have grown over the last 5 years, while imports from China have grown at a faster pace than the exports. This has resulted in an expanding trade deficit of USD 1044.7,” Mr., Kelegama said. China and Hong Kong provides Sri Lanka’s largest source of imports, a recorded USD 1786.1, exceeded only by India with USD 3443.

Raw coconut coir, apparel items, flavoured and non flavoured tea, natural rubber, diamonds and other precious stones, titanium ore and concentrates and bicycles and other cycles were identified as Sri Lanka’s major exports to China. Sri Lanka’s major imports from China include electrical machinery, fertilizers, railway locomotives, inorganic herbals and many more.

China is also one of Sri Lanka’s major investors. In 2008, the total Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Sri Lanka was an approximate Rs. 1.9 billion. “When investment by Hong Kong is also added, the total FDI into Sri Lanka in 2008 has been recorded to be Rs.11.69 billion,” Mr. Kelegama said.

“Presently 16 Chinese businesses have invested in garment, leather, telecom and electronics manufacturing. Entrepreneurs from China have been provided with an exclusive EPZ at Mirigama, and depending on its progress, additional space will be provided at Godagama, Matara and the Eastern Province.”

The projects funded by China currently are many. USD 27.2 Mn was spent in 2008 for the procurement of 100 railway carriages for Sri Lanka. The Puttlam Coal Power Project (USD455 Mn), Supply of 15 Nos. Diesel Multiple Units (USD38.68 Mn), National Performance Art Theatre (USD10.86Mn) and Maintenance of BMICH (USD 7.20 Mn) are also being implemented as at date.

“On August 13 this year, the two countries signed two key development projects, the Colombo- Katunayake expressway and the Hambantota bunkering project. This would pave the way for infrastructure requirements which will have an immense impact on the future socio-economic development of Sri Lanka,” assessed Mr. Kelegama.

Key projects to be initiated include the Colombo-Katunayake expressway for USD 248 Mn, Phase 2 of Hambantota Port Development Project for USD 100 Mn, Hambantota Bunkering Facility and Development Project for USD 75 Mn; along with Phase 2 of Puttlam Coal Power Project worth USD 373 Mn, USD 81.14 Mn worth of Commercial aircrafts to SL, housing projects for public servants for USD 22,50Mn, repairing and refurbishing the Supreme Courts complex for USD 0.36 Mn. These are all set to take place in the near future.

This is on top of the USD 1 Mn humanitarian aid promised for civilians affected by the conflict and other related aid and educational links that have been given to Sri Lanka.

“Prospects for the future seem to be good and after many years, China has opened its borders for SL tea imports. The Sri Lankan tea company ‘Heladiv’ opened three exclusive tea boutiques in the Fujian province and Beijing in August this year and aims at opening 100 in China by 2011 with 20 by the end of this year,” he further said.

“China has also been recognized as an important potential source for tourism and steps have already been implemented to improve the air connectivity between the two countries,” he said.

Moreover, he stated, that while many see China as a threat, Sri Lanka should embrace the opportunities created by the socio-economical ties between the two nations.


Friday, September 25, 2009

What is genocide?

What is genocide?

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide (1948) defines genocide (article 2) as “any of the following
acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group…” including:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated
to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

All such acts are violations of human rights, and may also be crimes
against humanity or war crimes, depending on the context in which they
were committed. The Convention confirms that genocide, whether
committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law
which parties to the Convention undertake “to prevent and to
punish” (article 1). Because it is a part of international customary
law the Convention is considered applicable in all countries,
irrespective of whether they have signed or ratified it.

Why does genocide happen?

Genocide and related atrocities may occur in societies in which
different national, racial, ethnic or religious groups become locked
in identity-related conflicts. Governments, political parties or
groups within society may either incite or exacerbate those conflicts,
or fail or deliberately refuse to intercede, and to ensure full
equality of all groups. The conflicts rarely emanate from the real or
perceived differences among those groups, but from the political and
economic inequities associated with those differences. The inequities
against a particular group often involve discrimination,
marginalization, exclusion, hate speech inciting to violence, and
denial of fundamental rights and civil liberties. Gross violations of
human rights, such as arbitrary arrest and detention or arbitrary
displacement often precede genocide. A history of violence based on
race, ethnicity or religion, political unrest and economic upheaval,
as well as the existence of a totalitarian or authoritarian regime
create an environment where genocide can more readily occur. For
genocide to happen a process of singling out a particular group takes
place, culminating in violence against the group, which is identified
as dangerous, undesirable, unworthy or inferior.

Why did the Secretary-General appoint a Special Adviser on the
Prevention of Genocide?

Genocide in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s showed in the worst
possible way that the United Nations needed to do more to prevent
genocide. In 2001, the UN Security Council invited the Secretary-
General “to refer to the Council information and analyses within the
United Nations system on cases of serious violations of international
law” and on “potential conflict situations” arising from “ethnic,
religious and territorial disputes” and other related issues. To help
respond to the Council’s request, in 2004, the Secretary-General
appointed a Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. The first
Special Adviser was Juan Mendez. In 2007 Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon
appointed Francis Deng as his Special Adviser on a full-time basis and
at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

The role of the United Nations in preventing genocide

The foundation of the United Nations is closely linked to the desire
of the international community to avert horrors such as the ones
perpetrated during the Second World War. Through their mandates,
operational activities and field presence in most countries, UN
agencies, departments and programmes contribute to the prevention of
genocide in a variety of ways, including by supporting equitable
development, promoting the protection of human rights, providing
humanitarian assistance and interceding to ensure peace, security and
stability. In particular, the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights has the principal responsibility for United Nations human
rights activities, including the promotion and protection of all
civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the
coordination of human rights activities throughout the United Nations
system. It also services human rights treaty bodies, such as the
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and human
rights mechanisms, such as the thematic and country rapporteurs, who
can provide warnings of the likelihood of genocide and make
recommendations. The UN Departments of Political Affairs of
Peacekeeping Operations work to ease political crises and threats to
peace. Other UN bodies, such as the UN Development Programme, the UN
Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, and the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, help mitigate or even prevent
the circumstances that can lead to genocide.

Where genocide does occur, the International Criminal Court, which is
separate and independent from the UN, is empowered to investigate and
prosecute those most responsible, if a State is unwilling or unable to
exercise jurisdiction over alleged perpetrators. Fighting impunity and
establishing a credible expectation that the perpetrators of genocide
and related crimes will be held accountable, can contribute
effectively to a culture of prevention.

Within the specific framework of the genocide prevention mandate, the
Special Adviser seeks and receives information relevant to the
protection of genocide from all UN bodies, in particular early-warning
information, and acts as a catalyst within the UN system, making
recommendations for effective prevention responses by the Secretary-
General, the Security Council, and other UN partners in a
comprehensive system-wide process, and supporting these partners in
undertaking preventive action in accordance with their mandates and



தமிழர் ஊடகம்

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The MR-Government shows one thing to the world but does a different thing here...!!!

Govt. sees global conspiracy

Angry President hits out at Foreign Minister, lots of travel but little results
Contradictory reports after talks with top UN envoy; India takes tougher stand

By Our Political Editor
This week saw the Government, which continues to maintain a high level of military preparedness, waging a political war on several fronts, both in Sri Lanka and abroad.

It leaders sounded a warning that a foreign-backed conspiracy was afoot to destabilise Sri Lanka. Enemies of the State, Minister Dallas Alahapperuma told a news conference on Wednesday, were building a case for purported war crimes and human rights violations. Spearheading the move, he charged, were two opposition politicians and two former retired Sri Lanka diplomats.

The remarks immediately led to speculation. In the political grapevine Opposition United National Party, leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahajana Wing) leader Mangala Samaraweera, the story did the rounds, were those under reference. A Wickremesinghe aide declined to comment saying there has been no reference to him.

"Why should I wear their hat? They can say anything in panic to cause scare and mislead the people," responded Samaraweera. One of the diplomats, they say, served during the tenure of the United National Front (UNF) Government whilst another retired recently.

Wickremesinghe and Samaraweera are key players in a proposed Common Front of Opposition political parties. It is to be formed in the coming weeks and hectic preparations are afoot. Though not a constituent partner of the proposed front, a common thread - the abolition of the executive presidency - appeared to be binding the two opposition groups. Just days ago, Wickremesinghe showed his solidarity with the JVP after three journalists of their newspaper, Lanka were arrested by the Police. While touring the South, he had even tried to visit them in Deniyaya when they were in Police custody soon after their arrest, only to learn that they had been whizzed away to Colombo hours before Wickremesinghe turned up. He then not only raised issue in Parliament but spoke out strongly against the Government for branding them as "terrorists." He demanded compensation for them for being held wrongfully.

The JVP also responded to Alahapperuma's remarks. "This Government has been afflicted with the 'conspiracy to topple' phobia that has befallen most others," a statement said. Pointing out that the country is not governed according to the mandate given by the people, the JVP charged the Government was adopting a stubborn path and was "anti-people and anti-democratic."

Mr. Pascoe after talks with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama
The JVP statement added, If there is an "opposition" involvement in such a conspiracy it is a very serious matter. The minister had referred to the entire opposition and not named the specific parties. It is clear the Government wants to drag the JVP also into it but the party wants to distance itself. The JVP said it was the sacred right of the people to democratically defeat the Government that is acting against the mandate given by the people.

A would-be ally in the proposed alliance, Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu, head of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), is also at the centre of a controversy. On Wednesday, on the eve of a visit by a top UN official, a group of concerned citizens published newspaper advertisements calling upon the Government to investigate a death threat against him. On Friday, CID detectives questioned several of the signatories on how they know of Saravanamuttu, whether there was any meeting of all signatories of the advertised petition, have they in fact seen the threatening letter, and who had sent the threatening letter?

Saravanamuttu was also asked to present himself at the CID headquarters to make a statement. According to CPA officials, he was unable to visit due to illness. Friday in particular, is always a dangerous day to visit the CID. Sections of the media including official outlets in the recent weeks accused Saravanamuttu and National Peace Council chief Jehan Perera of reportedly lobbying during a recent visit to the US for a probe into so-called war crimes. Both denied the allegations.

The latest foreign conspiracy accusations, a periodic phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics whichever party was in power, came in the backdrop of two other impending events. Tomorrow a report on the war in Sri Lanka (now concluded) is to be released before the United States Congress. The fact emerged following an interview the Time magazine published with Stephen Rapp, who is joining the Obama Administration as Ambassador-at-Large for war-crimes. He was chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone where the magazine said, "he witnessed many firsts, including the first ever convictions for the recruitment of child soldiers and the first convictions for sexual slavery and forced marriages as crimes against humanity."

An insight into the shape of things to come is reflected in answers to two of the many questions Rapp answered. They are:

Q: So the U.S. does not want its own citizens to be held accountable for crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq?

A: In my point of view, if there were acts of torture, they violated American law because America ratified the UN Convention Against Torture. If we were part of the ICC, we would be expected to investigate these issues, and if there were a strong case, you would expect prosecution. That's what the US is doing anyway. We respect one of the guiding principles of the ICC that the international court has jurisdiction that is secondary to the national court. Whether we are part of the ICC or not, we will conduct ourselves so that no prosecutor at the international level would ever have cause to take up a case against an American citizen.

Q: Which countries do you hope to focus on?

A: There are situations that have already been handed to us. There is a report from the Department of State on the war in Sri Lanka due in Congress [on Sept. 21]. Additionally, the office, together with the Secretary for Global Affairs and the Secretary of State, has the responsibility to collect information on ongoing atrocities, and it is then the responsibility of the President to determine what steps might be taken towards justice. Like the canary in the coal mine, we give the signal that something very serious is occurring.

There was an angry reaction from Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa. On Friday, he told the Island newspaper, that Sri Lanka had been informed a report on the conduct of Security Forces during the war against Tiger guerrillas would be submitted to the US Congress. The news, he said, had been conveyed by former US envoy in Sri Lanka and now Assistant Secretary, South and Central Asian Affairs in the Department of State in Washington, Robert Blake.

The Defence Secretary declared that Sri Lanka was targeted by a section of the international community for being successful in the military campaign against the LTTE.

The other impending event is the Southern Provincial Council elections on October 8. It has become the platform for both the ruling party and the opposition politicians to make accusations against each other.
The so-called conspiracy against the Government also figured at the weekly meeting of Ministers on Wednesday. The state run Silumina (Sunday Sinhala weekly) states President Rajapaksa castigated Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

This is what the report said: "The President asked Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama "Are you aware that there is an international conspiracy against Sri Lanka identifying the country as one that has carried out war crimes? The UNP is building up opinion that human rights are being violated, displaced persons are being held in camps, and the people are being suppressed with the assistance of the forces and the police. The Foreign Ministry has not done anything to counter this opinion. My observation is that the Foreign Ministry is not doing its duty.

"You have been trying to work with officers under the Foreign Secretary and get the Foreign Secretary removed. Now the former Secretary has gone to the UN. Work with the Secretary. Do not work with persons under him. Some of the Foreign Ministry officers think that the Presidency and the Prime Minister posts are being held by the Foreign Minister. That is how proud they are. When the Prime Minister went to Japan recently the ambassador had gone for his child's convocation. The Prime Minister wasted his time at the airport.

"He is the Prime Minister, not just Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. If he is treated in that manner, that is an insult to the country. Some are working against the country. Some are working with NGOs. Some of the Foreign Ministry officials’ spouses work with NGOs. They are working against the country. What is the use of such a Foreign Ministry?” Mr. Bogollgama responded "I will give advice to correct the situation".

"There is no use of giving advice now. There is a foreign delegation in the country. They want to visit the north and east. MP Basil Rajapaksa is going with them. Before you visit foreign countries better visit places in our own country. If you cannot go with our people, at least go with the foreigners. See the development activities and thereafter brief the foreign countries on your visits about the actual situation".
The significance of the fact that a state run newspaper carried this account of a President being so critical of his own Foreign Minister cannot be understated. The President has already expressed his displeasure over the ever present possibility of losing the European Union's duty free concessions to Sri Lankan exports commonly referred to as the GSP+ scheme.

He is known to have telephoned some of the country's ambassadors he knows personally and lamented about the conduct of foreign policy and foreign affairs. Often, he has used choice language on what's happening. "Mun loke wate roung gahanawa, maasa ganang safari yanawa, mata methane hena vadila" (These fellows are going round the world, going on safaris for months, I am at the receiving end here).
When the President asked the UN Under Secretary General for Human Rights and Post Conflict Development Lynn Pascoe who is in Sri Lanka this week, especially to look into the issue of IDPs, he asked him to view Sri Lanka's plight sympathetically. It was almost as if he was saying to look at his plight sympathetically given the kind of Ministers he had.

Recently, the President had said, referring to the Ministers who had over the past year kept visiting the EU saying they had the contacts, and the wizardry and clout to swing the GSP+ deal through; "nikan boruwata eda eda innawa, mata araya mehema kiwwa. Balaagena giyama ung (foreign governments) munwa andagena" (these people just keep dragging the issue, they tell me they met so and so and that they said this and that, but when you look at the results, these foreign governments are just stringing them along).
He has been as dismissive of the envoys; "me minusunta ehe aandu ekka kisima contact ekak nahane. Mang kathakalama wena daywal kiya kiya innawa" (these people have no contact with Governments there. When I ask them questions, they keep telling me other things).

While the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are pushing overseas missions to battle on, the Ministry has this week gone and effected the cuts on salaries and allowances of Sri Lankan diplomats abroad. A circular issued on Wednesday revising salaries and allowances, for instance, see chauffeurs getting more take-home than mid-level diplomatic staff. Carefully worked out formulas over the past 15 years or so to ensure that mission staff are somewhat compensated (with two revisions since 1994) have been thrown overboard, and Sri Lankan diplomats are now, on average around 30 percent below par with how other South Asian countries pay their diplomatic staff - the benchmark for Sri Lankan diplomats over the years.

Another burning issue the Government has been forced to contend with is the international pressure over Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in camps.

According to plans now under way, the Government wants to move one time residents of north and east, now living in Vavuniya to new camps in the two provinces. The idea, officials say, is to prune down the number of IDPs in Vavuniya, from the current level of 280,000 to 100,000. This is further necessitated by the impending north-east monsoon. They will remain in temporary camps in the north and the east until a speedy resettlement plan gets under way. Officials say such a plan linked to an expedited mine clearing programme was under way. However, Tamil politicians are sceptical whether it could be completed within a short time.

On Friday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured UN Under Secretary Lynn Pascoe, that re-settlement of most IDPs would be completed by end of January, next year. The remarks came during wide ranging talks he held with Pascoe at "Temple Trees."

Pascoe handed over to Rajapaksa a letter from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. A UN official said the letter dealt with three significant matters which the Secretary General had discussed with the Sri Lankan President during his visit in May. The first was the issue of providing necessary humanitarian assistance to IDPs and to allow unimpeded access by international humanitarian workers, including the UN agencies.

The second was to help displaced persons and the Sri Lanka Government in their efforts to re-settle IDPs in their home provinces. The third, to help the Sri Lanka Government to reach out to the minorities including Tamils and Muslims.

UN officials said the Secretary General had expressed concern that the assurances have not been altogether fulfilled. Talks centred on these subjects as well as on human rights issues where Rajapaksa said a domestic mechanism was being formulated.

Pascoe had raised issue over journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, now serving a twenty-year jail sentence. "What can I do," asked President Rajapaksa. "I cannot interfere with courts. He has not only written articles inciting racial tension but also admitted he has taken money from the LTTE. Now, he has recourse to the appeal process".

Rajapaksa also responded to Pascoe's questions on two local staffers of the UN now in custody. He said they do not enjoy diplomatic immunity like overseas staff. "If Sri Lankans are found involved in terrorist activity, the law has to take its course. The Attorney General will file action against the two in the next few days," said Rajapaksa. Pascoe was to observe that there has been some good progress in general, but added that some issues had to move faster.

Rajapaksa told Pascoe that beginning next week, a new pass system was being introduced in IDP camps. Those who have been 'security cleared' will be able to obtain these day passes to move out of the camp for employment and return at night.

After the talks, the fact that the two sides released their own versions of what transpired underscored a significant fact - both the President's Office and the UN officials staff wanted to emphasise their own positions.

Govt. sees global

A story posted on, the Government's official website headlined "You have a better story than is getting out today - Pascoe to President," gave their version. Some highlights:

"……President Rajapaksa said that it's necessary to understand that both Sri Lanka and the UN were eager to get things done. 'I understand the pressure and constraints on the Secretary General. However, you must also understand the problems we face,' he said.

"……Responding to Mr. Pascoe's observation that International Community has concerns when it hears that resettlement will be done after de-mining is completed, President said resettlement did not depend on the de-mining process. He mentioned that sixteen years after its war, Croatia had still not finished de-mining. 'We do not intend taking so much time. I have laid down an initial target of 180 days to resettle at least 70 per cent of the IDPs…….

"……On the question of IDPs moving to live with relatives outside, the President explained that the government had already published advertisements in the media, calling for applications from persons seeking such resettlement. However, only 2,000 applications had been received. These notices would be published again and displayed prominently at the welfare villages.

"….. Considering the understanding that existed between the UN and Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa said he did not expect the UN to pacify any members, big or small, about the situation in Sri Lanka. 'Whether it is the US, China, Britain or any country we are all members of the UN. When the UN says anything about us we take it seriously. Similarly if big countries, try to bully us we will come to the UN about such matters."

However, on Friday evening, UN staff had arranged their own media briefing. There, Pascoe said the United Nations did not see any progress as expected in the agreement reached in May between the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President Rajapaksa over the re-settlement of IDPS and other related issues. It would appear that Pasoce said one thing to the President, that they were generally happy with the progress of the re-settlement of IDPs, and then changed his mind by Friday. Readers will note that the contradictions and concurrences were aplenty.

Pascoe said that he had raised several issues including the early release of the IDPS and the freedom of movement inside the camps. "It is frustrating to live in such conditions and therefore the people should be allowed to return to their original homes at the earliest. The security concerns of the government are understandable but at the same time the people must also be taken into serious consideration, he said.

He also expressed UN's concern over the expulsion of James Elder, Communications Chief of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Funds (UNICEF). The Sunday Times learnt that his colleague, local UN spokesman Gordon Weiss will also not have his visa renewed when it expires in November, this year.

The UN, Pascoe said, fully understood the heavy responsibility faced by the Government in sustaining such a large number of people, therefore he suggested that the early re-settlement is a way out. However, during his tour of the camps he saw utter resentment among the people. Many with whom he spoke to were just eager to return to the former villages and homes.

Pascoe also had a meeting with Ranil Wickremesinghe at his office at Cambridge Place. Associated with him were deputy UNP leader Karu Jayasuriya and Ravi Karunanayake. Wickremesinghe told Pascoe that he had made an appeal in Parliament that the IDPs be released since they were "interned illegally." He said even opposition parliamentarians were being denied access to the IDP camps and were therefore denied the right to tend to the welfare of the displaced. "The Government shows one thing to the world but does a different thing here," he had said.

The IDP issue is also causing concerns in India. This week it prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remark that he had told the Government of Sri Lanka
in "no uncertain terms" to resolve the matter. This week, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi sent one of his party men, Union Textiles Minister, Dayanidhi Maran to tell Dr. Singh to "exert diplomatic pressure at appropriate levels" on the Sri Lankan Government to end the "untold sufferings" of the displaced Tamils living in relief camps. Maran said in a statement after the meeting that "the prime minister has assured of all possible immediate assistance by the Indian Government."

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga also caused some ripples during a recent visit to India. The former first lady, known for saying things she does not do and for doing things she does not say, was at it again. This time, after a meeting with the Chief Minister of Kerala, she complained there was no media freedom in Sri Lanka and people were living in fear. The truth or otherwise of her statement is not the issue. She appears to have forgotten that that the lofty media freedom she preaches, she never practised. First to the Press Trust of India report:

"There is an atmosphere of fear and lack of freedom in Sri Lanka even after the end of LTTE, the country's former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who survived an assassination attempt by the group, said.
"Even I care for my life. It is a government of my party (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) that is in power. Still even I don't feel safe," Kumaratunga, who was on a personal visit to Kerala, told reporters in India.

"Overall there is lack of freedom and an atmosphere of fear is prevailing in the country. Basic rights of the people and media freedom are restricted in Sri Lanka," she said.

"Asked about human rights violations, she said it was not appropriate for her to comment on it. "Let the Government say," she said.

"She was interacting with reporters before making a courtesy call on Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan."
The Rajapaksa administration was quick to rebut her allegations pointing out to the number of security officers detailed to her - some 70 odd policemen, among other measures. Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, her own Deputy Media Minister was given the task of demolishing her allegations, which he seemed to do with an element of relish.

Knowing the former President Kumaratunga, she is now quite capable of saying that she never said, what she said.

He was a hero then, but now a villain....!!!

fromCharles Sarvan
date:Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 6:16 AM

On Sat, 19/9/09, Donald Gnanakone
Date: Saturday, 19 September, 2009, 3:38 PM

Tissainayagam, Richard de Zoysa and Professor Rajiva Wijesinha

By Charles Sarvan

The ‘reaction’ cited below was published by you last week (September 13, 2009). It followed your reproduction of the statement made by Mr. Tissainayagam in court which handed down a sentence of 20 years hard labour on him. I quote verbatim:
REACTION – Sinhala bloggers “In 1989, Tissainayagam translated some documents on the human rights violations of the regime for (now President) Mahinda Rajapakse, a key human rights activist of the day to be taken to Geneva. He was a hero then, but now a villain. Is this because then he was fighting for rights of the Sinhalese and now for Tamil rights?”
The question that concludes the above passage caught my attention. As I have written elsewhere, the whites who joined the struggle against apartheid in South Africa did not do so because they were ‘for’ the blacks, but because they were against discrimination and the brutality (and resulting human suffering and tragedy) which accompany the imposition and maintenance of injustice. White Americans from the North who supported Martin Luther King’s campaign were insulted (‘Nigger lovers’), beaten and, in some cases, murdered. Some of the most trenchant accounts I have read of Palestinian suffering are by individuals of Jewish origin.
One can identify three kinds of protest. The first would be if I were to suffer injustice as a member of a group, then protest and work towards dismantling that injustice. A second kind of protest would be if I took an interest, for example, in the plight of the (to me) distant peoples of the Amazon rain-forest. I would be disinterested, since there is no hope of gain for me in expressing concern and indignation. (Increasingly, “disinterest” tends to be confused with “uninterested”.)
The third and the most challenging is to speak truth to power when that power is wielded by one’s own group, and, what is more, when injustice and force work to the advantage of one’s own group. The examples I have cited from South Africa, the USA and Israel arguably come within this third and last category.
To return to the question, “Is this because then he was fighting for rights of the Sinhalese and now for Tamil rights?”, the sickness of ethnic division (call it primitive ‘tribalism’, if you will) has gained such a hold on this island that one now speaks of Sinhalese rights and Tamil rights, rather than of (fundamental, universal) human rights; human rights recognise our common humanity, regardless of language, religion, sex or skin colour.
Writing about the late Adrian Wijemanne, I pointed out that his was a principled, essentially decent and caring stance. Transcending narrow tribalism, he did not “fight for the Tamils” but for equality, justice and inclusion. If the Sinhalese had been oppressed, herded and corralled into prison camps, he would have been among the first to espouse their cause.
The position adopted by such individuals calls for rare courage and inner strength because they are execrated and abused as “traitors”, experience physical terror, and sometimes pay the final price of death.. (The ‘cost’ is also borne by those most close and dear to them.) At times of inhumanity, such individuals — their character and conduct — affirm our humanity, restore confidence, hold out some hope, give courage.
On the other hand, to go with the majority, to unethically use one’s intelligence and ‘cleverness’ with language, has its rewards: public admiration and applause; media attention; appointment and promotion; entry into the higher circles of power (and the privilege and social status that brings); invitations; and deference. It is an intoxicating, addictive cocktail that must make one feel successful, powerful, and smugly conceited. But it is gaining the “world” at the expense of what is best in us as human beings.
And yet, at moments of silent, honest introspection, some of those who have ‘sold out’ must look in the mirror of the past, see their earlier self and pause — however briefly, uncomfortably and hurriedly. As a poet wrote (albeit in another context), good is the life ending faithfully – faithful to the values, principles and ideals one believed in and cherished.
Many souls, as noble as they were modest, both Sinhalese and Tamil, have refused to be intimidated, declined to compromise, disdained dangled prizes and rewards, and paid the price. And this brings me, with thanks, to Professor Rajiva Wijesinha because it was he who, several years ago, drew my attention to one such individual: Richard de Zoysa, political activist and poet. I conclude with extracts from my resulting review.
(Richard de Zoysa) was well known: a human rights activist, a fearless critic of political immorality and cruelty. As an actor (on stage and screen) and as a journalist and broadcaster, he reached many. In a time of unreason, of ‘racial’ and political hatred and violence, he upheld the values of justice, decency and humanity. He was brutally murdered in February 1990, not having quite reached the age of 32. His mother’s attempts, despite state obstruction, to bring his killers to justice, excited national admiration and pity.
To Rajiva Wijesinha, editing these poems was evidently a labour of love [....]. I can do no better than to quote him: de Zoysa was a very promising poet and “therein lies a seeming paradox…‘promise’ implies that it was not fulfilled.” What we have then is not so much admiration for achieved work as regret that potential was cruelly cut off; that de Zoysa fell victim to the forces he had courageously opposed. The loss is both to poetry and to those of the wider polity..
Sri Lanka is not without such individuals, and, therefore (despite the present combination of suave falsehoods and appalling cruelty), not without hope of ethical and political redemption and renewal. When that awakening happens, many now wallowing in power and pride will be seen quite differently. “Totalitarian leader was once a young idealist
fighting for human rights” - Excerpt
“The year was 1989. A violent youth insurrection that had terrorised the Sri Lankan populace was being brutally quelled by the state establishment. Bodies were burned on rubber tyres and the charred remains were left on every street corner. Hundreds of corpses were polluting the major rivers of the island’s south-west. Disappearances, arbitrary detention and revenge killings were the order of the day. With a government at the zenith of its power determined to crush the insurgency through force, leaving a trail of innocent victims in its wake, a young Sri Lankan opposition parliamentarian from the rural south decided to take a stand against the country’s deteriorating human rights situation and the state terror being unleashed upon his fellow citizens.
“Travelling to Switzerland without a penny in his pocket and on an air ticket purchased for him by a friend, the young politician entered the building of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva and parked himself in the lobby. Over several days, he waylaid every delegation passing through those halls, using each opportunity to tell members of the world community about the tragedy that was unfolding in Sri Lanka. So eager and relentless was the young man that he was finally given a special meeting at the UNCHR to present his case. Back in Sri Lanka he organised anti-government campaigns and founded organisations that looked into disappearances. He was, if anything, the face of the agitation campaign against the regime of the day, the street fighter determined to secure the rights of the oppressed and release them from the brutal grip of state terror..
“That man is now Sri Lanka’s fifth Executive President, elected to office in 2005. And so, beyond the signature moustache and the shawl he still wears around his neck, there is no resemblance between the starry-eyed Mahinda Rajapakse from Hambantota, fighting for the rights of his citizens in Geneva, and the corpulent, shrewd politician occupying the premier seat of power in Sri Lanka today. If we were to set aside the remarkable victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for just a moment, the other most significant legacy of Rajapakse’s presidency is the veritable death of the free Sri Lankan media.”

— Special Correspondent, The Independent

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Traces of civilisation that existed 300 yrs before Vijaya’s arrival found in A’pura...!!! Tamil civilisation..No doubt.!!!

Traces of civilisation that existed 300 yrs
before Vijaya’s arrival found in A’pura

Evidence of horse domestication, use of iron,
pottery, ceramic ware Cyril Basanayake, Anuradhapura corr
The research pit

Excavations at Atulu Nuvara (Inner City) of Anuradhapura have yielded evidence of an ancient civilization that had been engaged in the domestication of horses and cattle and wetland rice cultivation about 300 years before the arrival of Prince Vijaya.

Former Director General and present Advisor to the Department of Archaeology Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, under whose supervision excavations are being conducted, said the findings had been dated with the help of absolute dating techniques including Carbon-14 or radiocarbon dating system overseas.

Evidence of the ancient civilization had surfaced from a pit 22 feet below the ground level near the old Temple of Tooth Relic, old Vijayaba Palace and the Gedige Premises at Salgahawatte area in the Atulu Nuvara. The one-hundred-meter-long and 75-foot-wide pit had also produced evidence of the use of iron, earthen and ceramic ware, Dr Deraniygala told The Island.

Over 45 Carbon 14 tests had been conducted on the items unearthed from the pit, he said

Dr. Deraniyagala said among the items found were potsherds bearing Brahmi inscriptions, teeth of horses, pebbles and fragments of gold jewellry. There was also evidence of brick walls, underground drains, wattle and daub structures and a Muragala (Guard Stone).

Dr. Deraniyagala said his research pit, which has layers producing a vertical outline of several different cultures, would not be filled but kept as it is as an exhibit after the conclusion of the on-going research project.

The research team comprises local experts and a group of research students of Prof. Kay Kohlmeyer from the Berlin University. Excavations Officer A. A. Wijeratne, Regional Excavations and Museums officer Gamini Navaratne, Archaeological Assistant Thusita Agalawatte were engaged in the excavations conducted under the supervision of Dr. Deraniyagala.

Dr. Deraniyagala said with the help of newfound evidence it could be concluded that there had been an advanced culture which was on par with any foreign culture in the region in 500 BC, 300 years before the arrival of Prince Vijaya, mentioned in Sri Lankachronicles.

The University of Berlin had assisted in the excavation as well as conservation of the artifacts found from the site, Dr Deraniyagala said.


Whether the Tamil people are continuing to be committed to the ‘federal option’ in these post-LTTE times, TNA chief said that "there is no question"!!

TNA for political solution within undivided
Sri Lanka – Lynn Ockersz

‘We will continue to work towards a political solution to the National Question within the framework of an undivided and united Sri Lanka. The TNA’s aim continues to be substantial political autonomy for the Tamil and Muslim peoples in the areas they historically inhabit in this country. It is our assessment that the Tamil-speaking people are strongly behind these aims. We want to engage in political activities which would emphasize this position’, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader and veteran Tamil politician R. Sampanthan said.

Questioned by this journalist in an interview on Sept. 11, whether the Tamil people are continuing to be committed to the ‘federal option’ in these post-LTTE times, the TNA chief said that ‘there is no question about it’. He explained that ‘our people want to live in this country as equals with adequate self-rule’ and ‘ do not want to be treated as second class citizens; they do not want to be treated as subjects’.

The TNA leader also said that his party’s Sept. 7 meeting with President Rajapaksa was focused on the situation of the IDPs. ‘Insofar as the activities of the government in relation to the IDPs are concerned, we are prepared to work with the government to alleviate the conditions of the IDPs and to facilitate their early resettlement’, he explained. However, the TNA would not be compromising its principles in the process of doing so, he said.

Excerpts of interview:

Q: It was reported that the TNA had recently met with the President for the purpose of working with the government. Does this have a factual basis?

A: The TNA met the President and some others in government on Sept. 7, in order to discuss the situation of the Internally Displaced Persons. In the camps in Vavuniya there are said to be some 280,000 people. There are reports that these people are undergoing a great deal of deprivation and suffering with the setting in of the monsoon. I have always stressed that these IDPs must be resettled in the lands from which they were displaced, at the very earliest. The government had made a commitment to India, the EU and the international community, that they would substantially complete resettlement of at least 80% of the IDPs within 180 days. At the meeting we pointed out to the President that already more than 90 days had elapsed since this commitment was made and that in our assessment not more than 10% of IDPs had left the camps. We said that this situation caused concern; because with the monsoon things would only become more difficult and we expressed concern whether the government’s resettlement programme could proceed in terms of the government’s commitment. A very substantial settlement is expected to be completed before the expiration of 180 days.

We also had other issues to raise in relation to the IDPs, such as landmines and screening, and so the meeting was really focused on the well being of the IDPs. Insofar as the activities of the government in relation to the IDPs are concerned, we are certainly prepared to work with the government to alleviate the conditions of the IDPs and to facilitate early resettlement. We told the President that we were unhappy with the mechanisms now in place to implement these tasks and we are not aware that there is a very clear road map or programme in regard to the settlement of the IDPs.

We said that that we substantially represent our people. Of the six Members of Parliament from Vavuniya, five are from my party. Of the nine MPs from Jaffna, eight are from my party. These MPs are prevented from visiting the camps and meeting the IDPs. These MPs have no say in the resettlement of IDPs. The Task Force set up to resettle IDPs consists of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, Presidential Advisor, military and government officials from the national and district level and public officials from outside. We said that we are not satisfied with this mechanism and that it should be reconstituted and that we should play a greater role in it. The representatives of these people in Parliament, that is, should play a bigger role in their resettlement.

The President listened to us very carefully and said that he would get back to us in regard to these matters after he consulted with the Security Council.

We also said that friends and relations of these IDPs who are prepared to accommodate them in their homes must be allowed to do so, in order to reduce the numbers in the camps. The government also seems to be thinking on these lines, particularly in view of the difficulties caused by the monsoon, and they said they would insert advertisements with some information in the Jaffna newspapers, to enable friends and relations of these IDPs to take steps to have them released and accommodate them in their homes until they are resettled in the lands from which they were displaced.

Another issue which was raised by us was the position of those persons who were detained by government troops from about January 2009 when civilians started coming from the conflict zone to government-controlled territory. These persons were taken into detention en route in Omanthai at the camps itself but there is no definite information available with regard to these persons. Who was being detained? Where were they being detained? When were they taken in? We said these were matters of grave concern to the relatives of these detainees and we insisted that the government should release a list of the names of these persons who have been detained to enable the families of these persons to know the real situation of those who have been detained.

We also gave the government a list of those areas, which according to our information, did not require demining or could do with minimal demining. We said that with regard to these areas, government could proceed with resettlement earlier than for other areas. We said that demining should be gone ahead with in terms of a programme which would facilitate early resettlement.

We also raised the issue of screening IDPs. We told the government that these persons are not armed and that they are in your custody. As long they are in your custody there is nothing they can do, we said. With regard to releasing them, it is easier for the authorities to decide who are not LTTErs so that they can determine who the LTTErs are. There is no need to be keeping everybody there until your screening process is complete. We said screening and demining could not be an excuse for the resettlement process to be delayed.

These persons have been bearing the brunt of this war from 2006. The government has been claiming that it has been fighting the LTTE. But today there is no LTTE. Still these people are suffering. This is cruelty. They cannot be expected to suffer any longer.

We told the government that this is a matter that should be dealt with, with the utmost seriousness. The government has to keep its commitment. We are not at all satisfied with the progress made thus far.

Q: How did the President respond to your views?

A: He said ‘we will settle it, we will settle it’. He said he would not have settled everyone by 150 days, but by the 169th day a lot would have been done.

Q: What’s the TNA’s future programme?

A: We told the President that three of our members have been killed. The government must ensure our security in the North-East. We said we want to engage in political activities in these areas. We should be enabled to freely engage in political activity, particularly with regard to the upcoming elections. That is our right.

Government should disarm all paramilitary forces who are still around and ensure complete law and order. We pointed out that there is no need for the government to depend on them any longer.

Q: What will be the principal issues on which you would be grounding your politics?

A: We would be primarily working towards a political solution within the framework of an undivided, united country. The Tamil speaking people should be granted political autonomy to carry on their affairs in their areas of historical habitation. In our assessment, our people are very strongly behind these objectives. We want to engage in political activity which would make this position clear to everyone.

Q: Do you believe the Tamil people are still behind the federal option?

A: There is no question about it. Our people want to live in this country as equals with adequate self rule in areas they have historically inhabited. They don’t want to be treated as second class citizens. They want to live with dignity and self-respect.


Returning to the broken palmyrah....!!!

Returning to the broken palmyrah

By Ahilan Kadirgamar

Twenty years after the assassination of human-rights activist Rajani Thiranagama, her prophetic words could inspire a new generation of activists in Sri Lanka.

In September, many will remember Rajani Thiranagama, the feminist, activist, Marxist, scholar, doctor and teacher who was assassinated 20 years ago, on 21 September 1989. Among the reasons for her assassination was the publication of The Broken Palmyrah, which she had co-authored with three other academics from Jaffna University. While Southasians commemorate the life and work of Rajani at a time when the war in Sri Lanka has come to an end, in many ways the metaphorical palmyrah is still broken. It is in this context that we can return to that inspiring work, carrying as it does a message of hope, an analysis of possible ways forward, and faith in the resilience of ordinary people in the face of the cruelties of war.

Co-authored with Rajan Hoole, K Sritharan and Daya Somasundaram (two mathematicians and a psychiatrist, respectively), The Broken Palmyrah was written during and following the months of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force's (IPKF) offensive against the LTTE beginning in October 1987. It is a work that brought out the horrors of war through the voices of ordinary people, rich in analysis and, even two decades after it was published, prophetic on the issues facing the Tamil community and Sri Lanka at large. It is the kind of work that can only come out of an uncompromising commitment to one's people. This commitment has, over the last two decades, also been exemplified by the three co-authors - two of Rajani's colleagues in the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) who continued the work underground, and the third who chose to remain in Jaffna for most of the wartime period, providing invaluable trauma counselling and psycho-social care to the victims of violence.

The book makes a particularly important contribution to an understanding of trauma and psychological devastation of different communities by the war. Today, the psychosomatic consequences and social repression can be seen as having broken society as much if not more than the physical devastation brought by gunfire and bombings. It is to those individuals and communities that have remained resilient and kept society going despite the great losses that the Tamil community owes it future.

'Theoretical vacuum'

By 1988, the authors of The Broken Palmyrah were despairing about the changing nature of Tamil militancy. "It was now the end of an era," they wrote.

A struggle that had, in its dawn, been fired by several noble ideals, and called forth courage and much sacrifice from young persons irrespective of group, had now reached a point where the community was powerless and voiceless.The tragedy is that the armed struggle led by the LTTE had by then already consolidated its fascist political culture, one that would continue for another two decades. In the face of the escalation of violence by the LTTE, the Sri Lankan state, which was after all at the root of the conflict due to its discrimination against minorities and state-, responded. Inevitably, the people bore the brunt.

Like Rajani, there were hundreds of other dissenters and writers who were assassinated, disappeared, tortured and otherwise destroyed by the violence unleashed from within the Tamil community. C.E. Anandarajan, this writer's uncle and the principal of St John's College, where I attended school, was assassinated by the LTTE in 1985. Thus, for all of us, there existed experiences and journalistic writings alerting us to the disastrous turn in Tamil politics. But it was perhaps only The Broken Palmyrah that fully grasped the malaise that had eclipsed the Tamil community and the country. Its prophetic potential is that many of the themes it highlighted - the importance of democratisation, the critique of narrow nationalism, the dangers of militarisation, the national question and class struggle, the concerns of the Muslims and Up-country Tamils, the cruel use of children in war, the need for alliances with Sinhalese progressives - seem as relevant today.

For Rajani, the fate of the LTTE was clear twenty years ago: The Tigers' history, their theoretical vacuum, lack of political creativity, intolerance and fanatical dedication will be the ultimate cause of their own break up. The legendary Tigers will go to their demise with their legends smeared with the blood and tears of victims of their own misdoings. A new Tiger will not emerge from their ashes. Only by breaking with this whole history and its dominant ideology, can a new liberating outlook be born.

Indeed, over the years, one has been deeply troubled by the help extended to the LTTE by sections of the Tamil community, particularly those affluent sections of the Tamil diaspora who were so fanatic in their support. The ignorance of those who are still thinking in terms of reviving the LTTE and its political project is more worry that has been added.

The perceptive analysis of the LTTE also came out of the authors' experiences during the height of devastation of two military actions. The first was the Sri Lankan Army's offensive in May and June 1987 called Operation Liberation; the second was the Indian Army's offensive of October and November 1987. The authors also did not miss the cynicism of the LTTE, which was all-too-ready to put non-combatants at risk by firing from civilian areas, including hospitals and other places of refuge. The LTTE's approach was retuned in kind, as both the Sri Lankan and Indian armies unleashed untold suffering and violence with their shellings. The Broken Palmyrah is thus a diary of war and a reminder of the very nature of the brutality of conflict.

Rajani's chapter on the experiences of women during the war of October 1987, titled "No More Tears Sister", is a profound analysis of how women's survival in war and their resistance is intertwined with class and caste. She questions the simplistic idea that that the 'liberation struggle' was also a process about the liberation of women. She offers a strong political critique of not only the armed movements and narrow nationalism, but also brings to light the limitations of the social movements of the time. Rajani is perceptive in her attempts both to soothe those who suffered from the war, and to find out the consequences of the war, in order to distinguish between the different forms of resistance of middle-class and marginalised women against the armed actors. Finally, Rajani questions the short-sightedness of women in the Tamil militancy:

It is tragic that these women's sections themselves did not make any attempt to grasp their reality… They confessed to much confusion within the movement regarding the women's question. But they ultimately ended the argument with an expression of faith in their leader's ability to solve all problems.

It is important to note that after the initial IPKF offensive, there was space for dissent in the Tamil fold. However, this freedom quickly disappeared. Rajani herself was assassinated the day after the IPKF's announcement that it would leave. The Broken Palmyrah does not fail to pay tribute to the many individuals and community leaders that toiled hard with a sense of commitment to the people. That was all the more important at a time when the LTTE's perspective was that "the propaganda thrust of the struggle must hinge around the two words '’Traitor' and '’Martyr'".

The list of those labelled traitors and killed is long and longer still when we look back from 20 years on. The despicable label of traitor was a sign most of all of the deterioration of Tamil politics. In looking for an inclusive vision of Sri Lanka beyond the myopic politics within the Tamil community, the book also importantly pays tribute to the many visionary leaders of the south who took up the Tamil question with sincerity.

Third force

Like most boys, I romanticised the armed struggle, which had its early rumbling during my childhood in Jaffna. But I was fortunate to read this book in my late teens, which had a lasting impact in addressing critical questions about Tamil militancy. The Broken Palmyrah and the assassination of Rajani, whose home was next door to our own in Jaffna, had a tremendous impact on me. In re-reading the book, I am struck by its relevance for the debates in Sri Lanka today. Two decades ago, the authors saw how the Tamil community, in placing its faith on deliverance by an external actor such as India rather than on its own politics, was going to lose grasp of its aspirations. They saw clearly the dangers of narrow Tamil nationalism and Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism as destructive ideologies that reinforced each other. They captured the arrogance and the hegemonic power of the Tamil elite over the oppressed castes, the Muslim community, the Up-country Tamils and the Eastern Tamils.

The authors understood how fractured the idea of the Tamil 'nation' already was, even in its attempted construction. The Broken Palmyrah saw the dilemmas facing the Eastern Tamil youth in their relationship with the Tamil armed movements, and questioned even the viability of the merger of the North and East. It analysed not only totalitarian and fascist tendencies within the Tamil armed movements, but was conscious of the play of class, caste and patriarchy within these movements.

Most of all, this clairvoyant work saw clearly the problem of the Sri Lankan state and the Sinhalese elite that controlled it, using state power and attendant violence towards the destruction of the entire society. It attempted to analyse Sri Lanka in the context of the global political economy; of colonial, capitalist and imperialist expansion. It saw how the politics of the minority communities - be it their historical grievances relating to language policies, issues of land and access to employment and education, or aspirations for devolution of power - were inextricably tied to the democratisation of the entire country. Finally, it clearly saw the need to challenge the authoritarian tendencies of successive ruling regimes.

At the moment, the major challenges facing the Tamil community, other minorities and even sections of the south is how to bring class and democratisation into the devolution debate. This clearly calls for a third force - a democratic force for justice, equality and reconciliation in the post-war era. The Broken Palmyrah goes beyond narrow legalistic views of devolution, and took on the challenges of democratising society:

What is more important than laws to Tamils and to everyone else in this country, is a public conscience that is willing to fight continually to ensure justice for everyone. We need a more active form of democracy than the public merely electing governments and then going to sleep and leaving the rest to politicians and lawyers. The laws that ensure fair play may come if trust is established between the several communities of people in this island and democracy is re-established.

Twenty years ago, The Broken Palmyrah reported on the war in the island like no other work in the country before or since. One could go as far as to say that this book is one of the most insightful chronicles of war in modern times. It set out an analysis of the causes and consequences of the brutality, which generations of Lankans are now condemned to endure. It captured the voices that must be remembered as we mourn those who were decimated by the war. Importantly, written two decades ago, The Broken Palmyrah has defined the tasks for the younger generations, and set out the kind of politics that can lead the country out of violence under the mantle of justice and democratisation. Such politics should challenge the continuing repression and authoritarian politics that pervades Sri Lanka in its post-war moments.

Ahilan Kadirgamar is a contributing editor to Himal Southasian.

A radical change shd take place in our thinking for reconciliation after conflict. The collective conscience of the silent majority compels this...!!

The collective conscience of the silent majority
By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Scrutinizing the Tissainayagam judgment this week indicates two primary points that define current parameters in regard to freedom of expression in general and freedom of the press in particular in Sri Lanka.

First, the government used the standard of the 'ordinary or reasonable man' to contend that the writings in issue constituted an incitement to communal hatred among communities or racial and religious groups, as prohibited by Section 2 (1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, No 48 of 1979 (as amended) read with Sections 113(1) and 102 of the Penal Code. This argument was accepted by court citing cases on defamation decided by the English courts in 1940 and 1971 applicable primarily to the context of individual reputation being affected. The impugned writings in the little known North Eastern Monthly alleged in July 2006 that the government was not offering adequate protection to the Tamils in the North with the state security forces being the main perpetrator of killings and in November 2006, that the population of Vaharai is being depopulated and starved by the government refusing them food as well as medicines and fuel.

The 'ordinary man' standard

The truth of the second allegation in particular was disproved by the evidence of an officer of the Human Rights Commission, called as a witness for the defence who later turned hostile. The credibility of this allegation is, of course, highly contested. Regardless, the applicability of standards measuring defamation to an offence as vaguely defined as incitement to communal hatred between communities or racial and religious groups, (which rule incidentally would find many of the government's own propagandists guilty in several respects), will undoubtedly be pressed in appeal. The application of this general standard to the readership of a little known magazine read not by the general citizenry but by a selective category is an allied question. Though a Buddhist priest, lawyers and a politician were called as witnesses for the defence to testify that the writings could not be construed as incitement to communal hatred, these opinions were dismissed on the basis that the individuals in question subscribed to a particular opinion in regard to the war and did not reflect the 'ordinary man' standard. The contrary (and apparently single) opinion of the defence's hostile witness was accepted.

Conviction upon a confession

Secondly, the conviction of the accused under Emergency Regulations on the third charge of obtaining money from an LTTE source to run this little known magazine, rested primarily on a confession. This was alleged by Tissainayagam to have been coerced. The trial judge also used the fact that two payments of Rs 50,000 each had been deposited by anonymous persons into the relevant bank account in March and April 2007 to mean 'invariably' that the depositers were not readers or subscribers but rather terrorist sources.

This conviction on the third charge also raises some relevant points of discussion. As has been long critiqued in similar cases, the accused has the burden to prove the fact of coercion under the PTA and relevant emergency regulations, virtually an impossible task. In this case, it was alleged that the purported confession was, in any event, tampered with which allegation was not accepted by the trial judge. Interestingly, the case law cited in this respect includes the late Justice Mark Fernando's individual opinion in Nagamani Theivendran v. the Attorney General (SC Appeal No 65/2000, SCM 16.10.2002 separate judicial opinions by Justices Ismail, Fernando and Wigneswaran) in which the undoubtedly conservative view was taken (as contrasted to Justice Fernando's general thinking in regard to the protection of individual liberties), that a conviction upon an uncorroborated confession under the PTA or any other law was lawful and proper.

The 'manufacturing' of confessions

Though only Justice Fernando's opinion is cited by the trial judge in the Tissainayagam judgment, Theivendran's Case however exhibited a sharp division of judicial opinion on this point between Justice Fernando and Justice CV Wigneswaran who wrote a separate 26 page opinion contending strongly that 'the general civilised law of the country frowns upon the admission as evidence, of confessions to police officers' given the fact that (as remarked previously) the dangers of 'confessions being 'manufactured' in police stations through physical or mental intimidation. It was also observed that such admittance by a 'politically motivated law, (ie the PTA), was contrary to Sri Lanka's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Apart from the division of judicial opinion on this point, both judges agreed with Justice Ismail that, the reliability of a confession must be most rigorously tested against the evidence and surrounding circumstances. In that particular case, the confession was held as not being 'sufficient and trustworthy' to convict the accused. The Court of Appeal, which had affirmed the High Court's conviction based solely on a confession, relying on its earlier precedent in the Singarasa Case, was held to be in error. While the question as to whether this test was satisfied in the Tissainayagam Case remains to be decided on appeal, this most recent High Court judgment highlights anew the importance of a definitive judicial ruling settling the applicable law on this point.

Calling for reconciliation

This judgment should be subjected to more detailed scrutiny which is not possible in this column due to space constraints. However, from a wider perspective, this pattern of the use of anti terrorism law as an instrument of media repression needs to stop now. We saw similar patterns in regard to the use of criminal defamation provisions which was halted only with the repeal of those provisions. Surely we have learnt from those mistakes? A radical change needs to take place in our thinking in regard to the need for reconciliation after conflict. The collective conscience of the silent majority in this country compels this.

Dialogue:Only choice for bargain for better life of battered Tamils! Tamils became destitutes in their own country will benefit from peace process!!

TNA changes policy, plays politics of peace with President

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya

The coffee was warm, the hoppers fresh. At the end of three hours, very few picked up what was on offer. Seven members of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had walked into Temple Trees on September 7 with sheaves of papers in their hands and thoughts of uneasy reconciliations. The TNA’s embryonic past with the LTTE and its political future with the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration were playing on their minds.

“The main objective of our meeting with the President was to urge the government to send the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the north back to their homes from camps in Vavuniya before the onset of the monsoon,” Suresh Kandaiah Premachandran of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), told the Sunday Times.

The TNA delegation meeting the President
Premachandran who had attended the meeting as a TNA delegate was referring to the north-east monsoon which is likely to hit the country in about two weeks. The TNA is concerned about the well being of the 280,000 IDPs housed in the Menik Farm camps in Vavuniya as the monsoon would affect the northern and eastern districts. “How will people in the camps cope with the flooding of those areas? How will they get clean drinking water?” the EPRLF parliamentarian from the Jaffna district said he had asked government representatives present at the meeting.

It was the first official meeting between the two sides since the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May. TNA leaders said that they had informal exchanges with President Rajapaksa at a conference of all major political parties on July 2 when they had made a formal request for a meeting with him. A source in the President’s media unit said that the TNA had been invited for talks with the government on seven earlier occasions but had turned down the requests. Two ministers and a group of important officials had accompanied President Rajapaksa to the meeting. The President’s brother and political advisor Basil Rajapaksa who is chairperson of the government task force on rehabilitation and resettlement of the IDPs was also present. The TNA’s demand of resettling the war displaced people in their original homes within the next two weeks was rejected by the Presidential side, Premachandran said.

President Rajapaksa and his colleagues told the TNA delegation, the “practical difficulties,” in addressing its demand. “On this particular matter the talks were not fruitful,” Premachandran said. Basil Rajapaksa, according to Nallathamby Srikantha, mentioned that there needed to be a “pragmatic approach” to the issue of resettling the IDPs. “It is unlikely that the government will be able to complete resettlement of the IDPs in the next four months,” Srikantha told the Sunday Times. He is another TNA parliamentarian from Jaffna who was present at the meeting.

Srikantha added that government representatives present at the meeting insisted that between 60 and 80 per cent of the war displaced would be sent to their homes by year-end or early next year. Almost the entire population of the Wanni region had been displaced in the long bloody war that ended in May this year. Close to 300,000 people had started living inside temporary shelters in Menik Farm in Vavuniya. At the end of May, the government had promised to relocate the displaced back to their homes within six months. Only a few thousands have so far been moved out.

The Rajapaksa regime has maintained that people could not be hurried back to their homes from camps because the northern districts are densely sown with anti-personnel claymore mines and other explosive devices that had been buried by the Tamil rebels. The TNA MPs were given a lengthy and detailed presentation on current demining activities being undertaken by 600 personnel of the Sri Lankan Army assisted by a handful of Indian and other demining NGOs. The presentation on demining is said to have taken up most of the time in the 180-minutes-long meeting.

According to the 77-year-old leader of the TNA parliamentary group, Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, the alliance presented the government with a list of areas in the north where demining would either not be needed or be necessary only minimally. “While discussing the modalities of demining, we gave them names of places where mines might not be located,” Sampanthan told the Sunday Times. The veteran Trincomalee politician said that the TNA wanted the government to settle people in their homes in such areas soon.

TNA leaders, however, continue to raise questions over the government’s mine action project. Premachandran for instance asked: “Why is demining progressing slowly in Mullaitivu or Kilinochchi?” “Why are only parts of Mannar and Vavuniya being taken up for demining?”

The Rajapaksa regime appears keen on handling security concerns first. In a statement released after the meeting, the President’s office said that President Rajapaksa had informed the TNA representatives that the demining process would be “expedited” and that “emphasis had been given in government policy on the need to ensure security and welfare of the people.” The Tamil parties have sought more transparency in the government’s process of screening the displaced persons. “We asked the government for names and personal details of all the people who have been taken and kept in detention centres.” Sampanthan said. Although estimates from people within the government’s legal affairs establishment suggest that there could be more than 20,000 people detained on grounds of suspicion across different safe houses in the island, the police are yet to formalise a comprehensive list. “The government cannot lose sight of the humanitarian problem in the camps for IDPs,” Srikantha said.

“Many of the detainees are not LTTE operatives. They are non-combatant Tamil civilians who are finding it difficult to go through the screening process,” Sampanthan added.. The TNA MPs say that their electorates often tell them of “mysterious disappearances” of young men and women from the camps.
It has been over three months since LTTE leader Prabhakaran died. The island nation’s new political reality has changed the game for the TNA, forever. In its 2004 election manifesto, the TNA had said that it would “accept the LTTE’s leadership of the Tamil people and the LTTE as the sole and authentic representative of the Tamil people.”

The TNA has already accepted that different situations call for different responses. “We are working on a proposal which will argue for adequate autonomy for the Tamil people within the framework of a united Sri Lanka,” Sampanthan told the Sunday Times. Till three months ago, the TNA used to endorse the LTTE’s idea of an interim self -governing authority. A diplomatic source in the Indian high commission in Colombo said that New Delhi would be willing to take the TNA more seriously than it presently does “only if the alliance brings clarity to its political vision.”

Today, the TNA is forced to engage with the Rajapaksa government. This is probably the only option that the alliance has if it wants to stay in active politics.

The dialogue table is possibly the only place where it can bargain for a better life of the battered Tamil population. It is hoped that thousands who have become destitutes in their own country will benefit from the politics of peace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Malay rights ON MERIT BASIS OR......!!!

Subject: Malay Rights by Shaik Rizal Sulaiman
Date: Mon, 7 Sep 2009 18:00:33 +0800

Malay rights
By Shaik Rizal Sulaiman

The Malays are 'technically' in power governing the country but it is also
this same controlling group that demands the right to correct economic
imbalances and disparities for its own race.

What does this say about the 'majority governing' Malay race for the last
50 years? I dare say that most Malaysians (regardless of race) below the
age of 40 would like to see all opportunities be spread amongst those who
deserve it on meritocracy.

We do not need the keris anymore to tell others to be careful of what they
say and do because in the survival of the fittest, the keris is of very
little relevance!

If we continue to hide under the 'bumiputera' tempurung as most Malays
have been in the last 50 years or more, the catch-up game will just get
harder and the gap wider.

If we continue to expect without earning it, we will never learn how to be
a race that succeeds on merit. There is NO substitute for merit. The Malay
politicians continue to shout about Malay rights and bumiputera rights
because the very nature of our local politics is sadly racially biased.

In this day and age, a great nation is built upon joint success stories,
meritocracy and the combined hard work of its people WITHOUT any fear or
favour of racial biased politics governing our daily policies. Sadly, the
Malay politicians have ended up completely corrupt, racialists, twisted
religious fanatics.

I am below 40 and as much as I love the 'idea' that Malaysia is tanah
tumpahnya darah orang Melayu, I can't help but also feel that this country
is for ALL Malaysians alike including the Chongs, the Kumars, the Xaviers,
the Singhs & Kaurs etc who were born on the same day in the same hospital
as me here in Malaysia.

If we feel that WE (the Malays) deserve this country more than THEM , then
WE (the Malays) should have shown them a long time ago that we deserve the
'control all' status.

We have to earn it. The policies FAILED because the very concept of Malay
rights or the NEP/DEB is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it aims
to eradicate wealth disparity but on the other, it has made the Malays
oblivious of what reality is. Our (Malays) success is only reflected in
the 'perceived' political power which today can collapse in a matter of
minutes. I would also like to see my children succeed in their country,
Malaysia, for reasons that true success should be based upon, which are
merit and hard work and NOT because they are Malays or bumiputeras.

For as long as the Malays don't see this, there is very little point in
fighting for Malay rights..

It just makes us look more ridiculous. We have taken this notion of being
privileged a bit too literally in that it now simply means we want this
country and its fruits all for ourselves without accepting the
responsibilities that come with it.. I blame the MALAY politicians for this
because we want to only fight the cause without strategising for the true
substance and need of the cause. We have been given fish all the while
without being taught how to fish.

It's funny how two different generations can be so diverse in their
thinking and the recent elections proved just that... We are no longer
concerned with racial problems but more so the never-ending Malay agenda
issues. The rakyat has spoken and the landscape has drastically changed.
Is this change welcomed? Is it good?

The answer is 'NO'. Because we,the Malays, have been caught with our pants
down - we are not ready to compete on any level playing field (we can't
even compete on advantageous grounds!). Even with three or five more
continuing policies for Malay rights or bumiputera privileges over the
next 50 years, we will still be in exactly the same position as we are in

The truth hurts and the truth will always prevail. And the truth of what's
to come will NOT go away. I am cynical perhaps because I feel that Malay
rights is NOT relevant anymore.

The right to be safe, to be treated fairly, to have a world-class
healthcare and education, to enjoy equal prosperity, to have good
governance, to live in a clean environment and to be war-free is what I
want for my Malaysia. NOT for MY race to be artificially powerful.

If we want the Malays to fail, then by all means continue the fight for
Malay rights. Go and polish your keris..

Shaik Rizal Sulaiman
Posted by Malaysian
Unplug @ Link to This Post

In recent months we have seen the Syariah Courts allowing quite a few
Malays to exercise their rights to a third or fourth wife. Fair, the guy
may be able to provide for the financial & conjugal needs of his wives..
However, question here is when he has a dozen kids, will he be able to
provide a decent education and life to his kids or will he demand for his
'Rights' for subsidy and aid and be a burden to the govt and society.