Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rajitha points accusing finger at a clique

By Rathindra Kuruwita - Ceylon Today
Co-Cabinet Spokesperson and Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne in an interview with Ceylon Today discussed the current political developments, plans for the health sector in 2017 and rumours of his appointment as the next prime minister.
?: The Development Special Provisions Draft Bill has been rejected by eight Provincial Councils, and the bill is to be discussed in the Eastern Provincial Council. It should have been obvious that such a bill, which limits the powers of the Provincial Councils, would be rejected. How did the government not see this?
A: We have to admit that we must make Sri Lanka a more investment friendly country because right now it takes so much time for an investor to get things up and running. I have always insisted that we must have a one stop shop for investors. That being said, we must also realize that all stakeholders should have been consulted when drafting an important bill such as this. If it is understood that the bill would be presented to Provincial Councils, the Chief Ministers should have been consulted from the beginning. Now, after realizing that the councils are going to reject the bill, some attempts have been made to consult the Chief Ministers. My question is, "Why was this not done earlier?" If the Chief Ministers were met, they could have come up with a better draft that the councillors could accept. My personal opinion is that this Bill should not be presented to Parliament as it is.
I am also vehemently opposed to the provision that affords the respective minister immunity from any action if performed in good faith in pursuance of their functions. This is ridiculous. At a time when the President is getting rid of provisions which give him immunity, why do we need to create a provision which gives a minister immunity? And how do we determine "good faith"? Does anyone ever say they are not doing something in good faith? All the crooks also say they do things in good faith.
There should have been a debate on the draft Bill, especially with the Chief Ministers of the Provincial Councils, prior to drafting a bill of such importance. Considering everything I am convinced that the Development Special Provisions Draft Bill was penned by someone who does not understand the laws of this country. I am not afraid to call the Attorney-at-Law who drafted this Bill an idiot.
?: There is a belief that the country is now administered by the Prime Minister and a few of his friends. There are constant accusations that most of the unpopular policies of the government are taken by them. Is this also one of those policies?
A: The reason why there is such an accusation is the fact that the Prime Minister defends his friends all the time. He believes that his friends are also honest and are extremely loyal to him. If they are such good friends, they should ensure that their actions boost the reputation of the Prime Minister.
We have to do what we can to enhance the public persona of the President and the Prime Minister, because the success of this endeavour very much depends on the social capital of these two leaders.
But if anyone attempts to use the reputation of the Prime Minister to fulfil their narrow agendas these people are not real friends. One of these friends didn't even have the decency to resign from his post, given to him by the Prime Minister, when there were severe allegations against him. These are the reasons why people assume that all unpopular decisions are taken by a clique and that the Prime Minister is a part of that group.
?: President Mathripala Sirisena has declared that local government elections will be held in mid 2017. Three Provincial Council elections are also to be held. It is likely that the main constituent parties of the government will contest separately. How will that affect the unity of the government?
A: I don't think either party has taken a concrete decision about how to contest. I know that there are many internal discussions within the parties and there have been some inter-party discussions, but I don't think a final decision has been made.
My belief is that we must not lose the current cooperation and unity between the two parties because of the elections in 2017. The Mahinda Rajapaksa faction wants the two parties to stop working together. They fear that the illegal activities that they carried out will be exposed by the government and that they will be punished, so toppling the government is their only option for survival. Personally, I will not agree to any action that will fulfil the desires of the Rajapaksa faction.
?: Recently I saw a popular Facebook meme which said me aanduwen godagiye Wasim saha Lasantha Vitharai (only WasimThajuden and Lasantha Wickramatunga were 'unearthed' under the current administration.) I think this captures essentially how the people feel about how the government has gone about fulfilling one of its main promises - anti-corruption and punishing those behind massive corrupt activities. Why have things been so slow?
A: Because some people in the government have come to certain agreements / deals with the Rajapaksa camp. For example, three ministers were involved in defending the controversial Avant Garde company. For them what was more important was a good payday, not the sustainability of the government. Certain people have been appointed to hold important positions in State institutions. They have had business dealings with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. There are ministers who address Gotabhaya as "Sir". There are also ministers who meet Gotabhaya secretly and share classified information with him.
Also, certain bureaucrats still have strong ties with the Rajapaksas. For example, once a Government Analyst's Department report on why there were no serial numbers on the weapons used by Avant Garde stated that this was because the weapons had been rubbing against each other. I mean how ridiculous is that? This is why I always say that while the government has changed the State apparatus remains pretty much unchanged.
So we are carrying-out the investigations despite a lot of resistance and betrayal. But I am not just making excuses. As a government we must take strong action against the people (who try to hold us back) and fulfil our promises.
?: While there is criticism against the government, I don't believe that those who voted for Maithripala Sirisena would vote for a member of the Rajapaksa family. And the UNP leadership knows that the Rajapaksas can be used to split the SLFP. Isn't this another reason why they are not punished because they are useful?
A: There is such a belief. But it is stupid to believe that the UNP can win by splitting the SLFP. Those who believe such ideas and act upon them are just inviting disaster.
Only by coming up with an attractive and concrete plan to develop the nation and achieve good governance can we win. Leaders who resorted to manipulation and Machiavellian ploys have not been successful.
The ideal example is J.R. Jayewardene. Today not even hardcore UNPers celebrate JR because his entire career was filled with intrigue and manipulation. People don't like it. On the other hand, Sri Lankans still venerate politicians such as D.S. Senanayake who were honest and told the truth to the people.
?: The verdict of the Raviraj murder case, where the accused were released by a jury, has led to a lot of controversy. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, who represented Raviraj's family, was quick to declare the verdict as an example of the inherent bias in the Sri Lankan judiciary against minorities. What do you think will be the fallout of this?
A: The verdict does not reflect on the independence or the impartiality of our judges and this can't be taken as a reason to push international judges to investigate alleged war crimes against the security forces.
The problem here was the way our juries work. When a case is taken up, the defendant has the right to ask for a jury, which will either consist of completely Sinhalese or Tamils. There is no provision to have juries comprising both Sinhalese and Tamil members. And the defendant can either ask for a Sinhalese or Tamil jury.
In a case like that this has a significant impact. In this case the jury comprised Sinhalese and they might be influenced by the belief that no matter what these people have done, they are war heroes and that Raviraj was a pro-LTTE politician. We can't discount the impact the preconceived notions of the jury members had on their verdict. The judge was not at fault and we need to change the jury system, not to clamour for international judges.
I admit that the verdict has created a problem for Sri Lanka. If they are not guilty, who killed Raviraj? On the other hand, the Director of State Intelligence Services gave a testament that was deliberately planned to muddy the waters. That is why I insist over and over again that, although the government changed the State has not changed. We must do something about this fast, because when these things keep on happening people lose faith in the government.
?: Finally, as the Minister of Health what are your priority areas in 2017?
A: The biggest health challenge in the coming years, here and in other parts of the world, is non-communicable diseases. We have started several initiatives to address this issue. One is our battle against tobacco and even the companies are saying that smoking has dropped by 45 per cent after our tax increases. We have also looked at whether people have started smoking beedi but that is not the case. Usually a person who smoked cigarettes doe not shift to beedi and if beedi consumption has increased, at maximum it would be around 1 per cent.
The other aspect is educating the people. Right now health checkups are only performed by the private sector and most can't afford it. I plan to establish 842 centres where people can get heath checkups done. We have also established 906 well women centres where women can screen for breast and ovarian cancers.
We will also introduce the concept of a "family physician". Today people go for specialists even for a cold. What we want to do is attach 5, 000 persons to one designated doctor. Those people must get a health check-up done once a year or once in every six months and the family physician will keep the records with him. So the doctor can study the reports, determine whether there is a possibility that someone can contract a serious disease and take necessary steps at the initial stages. Initially this endeavour will cost a lot of money, but in the long run we will save much more because we are addressing diseases before they require extensive medical care.
Moreover, we will go to each school and government institution to educate them of good health practices, food and exercises.
?: There are rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle next year and the appointment of a new Prime Minister. It is said that you are one of the leading contenders for that post. Is there a truth in this?
A: There is a difference between people talking about it and getting that appointment. I also know that there is a rumour circulating and people have asked me whether it's true. But I don't know how this rumour started.

Cabinet Reshuffle: Key Ministers To Be Swapped

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya - The Sunday Leader
Several key ministers are to be swapped in a cabinet reshuffle in February, a government Minister told The Sunday Leader.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Minister said that at least two new ministries are expected to be introduced as part of the reshuffle.
The Minister revealed that at least four key ministers are expected to be swapped as they had requested the change.
“The swap will be done in a cordial manner,” the Minister said.
The reshuffle comes amidst a deepening rift between some members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party in the government.
Some members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party have been accusing each other of attempting to destabilise the government.
Key United National Party members were expected to meet President Maithripala Sirisena last week to call for unity among members of the cohabitation government. The cohabitation government will be celebrating its second anniversary next weekend. Over the past two years minor rifts have emerged in the government but both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had assured that the government will remain united for the next five years.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, however, had told reporters last week that he intends on overthrowing the government this year.
The joint opposition led by Rajapaksa has said that some Sri Lanka Freedom Party members in the government will extend support to the opposition to change the

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A vast criminal enterprise waiting to rule again

From Sunday Times
The assertion that Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system is so weak in capacity that justice is well nigh impossible is one of the most dangerously misleading misconceptions that we constantly hear.

No simplistic reasons for failures in justice

When acquittals are handed down as illustrated most recently in the jury trial relating to the killing of parliamentarian N. Raviraj or when investigations drag on tortuously for several years as we see in the rape and murder of schoolgirl Vidya Sivaloganthan, the reasons behind these failures of justice are complex and multilayered.

Certainly the fact remains that the capacity of Sri Lanka’s law investigation machinery is not the sole factor in issue. Instead, we see other examples where, driven by strong political will, the investigations are completed in record time and trial processes in court are expedited with equal promptness.

A most recent example bears out this premise very well. Late last month, the Avissawella High Court handed down the death sentence to eighteen accused including former Chairman of the Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha in regard to the gruesome murder of planter Nihal Perera, superintendent of Noori Tea Estate in Basnagala, three years ago.

The ‘uncleared areas’ in the South

This was no ordinary murder. The murder exposed a dark and brutal nexus between the impunity with which local level politicians with direct connections to the Rajapaksa administration at the time held sway over the people in their area. In this case, Noori Estate was controlled by members of a lawless political gang (many of them related to each other) operating under the leadership of the former Pradeshiya Sabha chairman. The gang members engaged in systematic terror involving slavery, rape, gang rape, and extortion of villagers, including the operation of ‘rape centres’ where women were kept imprisoned to be used at will.

Indeed, the Chief Priest of Noori, Deraniyagala described the terrorizing of his villagers from as far back as 2008 at the hands of local politicians benefitting from high political patronage, as living in an area that was ‘un-cleared’. In other words, the analogy drawn was in regard to living in a land that was ruled by terrorism.  The murdered estate superintendant had incurred the wrath of the unlawful gangs as he refused to give in to their demands.
The Noori estate terrors were symptomatic of the times. During that period, Sri Lanka became a vast criminal enterprise, run by thuggish politicians where courts of law had little voice and law enforcers became worse than the law breakers. The Deraniyagala atrocities took place over several years with terrible impunity and in the face of silence on the part of all parliamentarians representing the Kegalle District. Then Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister rejected allegations that he had provided protection for sponsoring and protecting former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Anil Champika Wijesinghe who was convicted in the High Court last month.

Classic example of a good trial

Political and police complicity in the reign of terror which prevailed in Noori estate at the time was well established. The area police had been complicit in aiding the local thugs to carry on their reign of terror at the time. Disciplinary inquiries were initiated against seven policemen, including the OIC (Crimes) of the Deraniyagala Police. The policemen were later transferred. But no further punishment followed.

In contrast, the prosecution and trial of the accused in the murder of the estate superintendant is a classic example of how a trial should proceed. The investigations took place efficaciously and with deadly intent. Special law enforcement teams of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) including senior officers with demonstrated competency were sent to the estate to commence the investigations. Villagers were gently persuaded to shake off the fear which had rendered them mute all these years. They were assured that no harm would come to them if they testify. Protection was assured.

Efforts to intimidate the CID were not successful. The efforts bore spectacular fruit within a short time with a formidable case being built as to the direct culpability of the accused. The murder had been carefully planned as he conducted his regular estate inspection in the wake of his having clashed with the criminal gang earlier. In court, the trial process continued with speed despite a record number of witnesses and concluded within a period of almost two years. It was an excellent example that Sri Lanka’s criminal justice systems works when it is allowed to operate without political pressure.

Same logic needs to be followed

Were the villagers of Deraniyagala able to draw public attention to their plight because they are members of the majority Sinhalese community? Should not such stern political will in brigning about justice be demonstrated when villagers of Tamil communities have been terrorized? The same logic indeed applies to the criminal investigations of the murdered ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen and journalists Lasantha Wickremetunge and Pradeep Ekneligoda.

Then again, what of the other longstanding instances of extrajudicial executions such as the killings of the students in Trincomalee and the aid workers in Mutur almost ten years ago? The easy explanation of government authorities that they cannot proceed as the eye witnesses have all fled abroad and that their testimony is essential is quite unacceptable. Similar to the manner in which the CID officers proceeded in the Noori estate case, confidence must be inculcated in the witnesses for them to be able to testify with some guarantee that reprisals will not ensue against their family members in Sri Lanka. In the absence of such proactive measures, a mere call to testify will not do.

Criminals waiting in the shadows

In sum, the conviction in the murder of the Noori estate superintendant Nihal Perera, one rare Sri Lankan of principle who refused to bend to political terror despite his failing years and paid for that obstinacy with his life, too will be of little use if it stands by itself.

A few officers or local level politicians may be punished by court. But this will have little impact on the overall structure of the vast criminal enterprises which came into its own during the Rajapaksa Presidency and which still lies in abeyance, waiting for a chance to emerge from the shadows into the sunlight again.
This is a warning that is evident to all but the most sublimely complacent.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Audio tape of Lasantha-Mahinda secret telephone conversation! has received an audio tape of a secret telephone conversation between the slain ‘Sunday Leader’ editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Their conversation indicates that they had been very close friends.

However, Rajapaksa was the president when Lasantha was murdered on 08 January 2009. website has published an article containing a list of telephone lines tapped on the orders of the Rajapaksa regime, and among them were those of Wickrematunge as well as the then opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The article was published on 08 September 2008, and Wickrematunge was killed three months later.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Suspected Chinese hitman arrested, detained at Mirihana

An alleged Chinese hitman with suspected links to the mafia was arrested in Colombo and investigators are attempting to verify if he had plans to target a VVIP in Sri Lanka, The Sunday Leader newspaper reported today.
The state intelligence arm together with the CID arrested the Chinese national, identified as Ni Ma Ze Ren, while he was working at a leading casino in Colombo.
The individual had claimed, on being questioned, that he was in Sri Lanka to work for a BOI registered company. However he had later joined a casino to solicit Chinese gamblers.
Investigators said that the tourist visa of the Chinese man had expired at the time of his arrest and his claims over his presence in Sri Lanka could not be verified.
Investigations revealed that Ni Ma Ze Ren was a trained shooter with suspected links to the mafia who deploy mercenary shooters to target VVIPs. The Chinese national lived in a plush apartment in the vicinity of the President’s house and Temple Trees, the Monarch, Crescat and Emperor apartments. Several VIPs live in the area.
Further investigations revealed that Ren’s wife operates as a state detective in China and he had been in regular contact with a State Minister from the South and several other politicians.
Investigators are attempting to unearth the motive for his stay in Colombo and they have already traced the telephone numbers of those he was in touch with while in the country.
The question of under what modus operandi a Chinese hitman was brought down to Sri Lanka, in the midst of claims by some senior politicians in the opposition that a government change is possible at any moment, is to be further investigated as signs of a conspiracy to destabilize the country surface.
The Chinese hitman will be deported to China for violating local visa regulations under section 28 of Immigration and Emigration Act no 20 of 1948, tomorrow. He is currently detained at the Mirihana detention center.
The newspaper said that further investigations will be carried out even after the deportation of the suspect, to ascertain if he was part of a conspiracy. (Colombo Gazette)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Billion Dollar Loss Making ‘National Treasures

Sixty years ago, when S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike’s demagoguery had the ‘common man’ dizzy with populism he introduced a tantalizing political act: nationalization.
Private bus owners, bus mudalalis were absolute villains, the richest in the country and the main financial prop of the UNP, which he had vanquished single handed. So, soon after his 1956 Revolution, he with ‘one stroke of the pen’ – as he liked to describe his decisive moves – nationalised private bus companies that were all running at substantial profits and created the Central Transport Board run by political appointees. It ran at a loss in its first month and has been doing so every month for the past 60 years.
But SLFP propaganda has the CTB (now SLCTB) as a ‘National Treasure’ (Jathika Vasthuvak). And so are all nationalised ventures in the eyes of suckers of demagoguery created by successive SLFP regimes till 1977 when J. R. Jayewardene stopped the madness.
Industries, schools, private companies, insurance, banks, hotels, plantations, foreign and state owned and even the Buriyani Hotel in Maradana came under that magical spell of nationalization. And the great majority of them, save for a very few exceptions, ran at tremendous losses that had to be subsidized by the taxpayer.
Nationalization and socialism were sacred words in the SLFP lexicon. Even when socialism, in the fatherland of socialism, the Soviet Union, and its satellites collapsed and Communist China shifted to a free market economy, the SLFP adherents were so brain washed that they still stand by their tremendous ‘loss making’ national treasures.
This pig headedness is witnessed today by the opposition to the state owned black hole of the Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa Harbour, gobbling billion dollars being converted to a private company with both a Chinese company and the Sri Lanka government being joint owners – the Chinese company having greater shares.
What do those opposing to this move of shared ownership such as former President Mahinda Rajapaksa want the present government to do with the Black Holes of Finance created in and around Hambantota in an attempt to immortalize Rajapaksa? Keep them closed as monuments to idiocy and Rajapaksa immortality while paying billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money for loans and interests?
Even a mudalali in a Hambantota stall selling buffalo curd knows well that loans borrowed have to be paid off with interest, the property sold off or some alternate arrangement arrived at.
But Rajapaksa and his financial geniuses who had ruled or misruled the country seem unable to comprehend this simple fact. On the other hand why did he not resolve these problems of his own making before he dissolved parliament, went to the country and was thrown out? Surely he should show the way on how to save his ‘national treasurers’.
In those socialist heavens that existed some time ago those responsible for such colossal waste on developing personality cults would have been pulled out of their cells and shot at dawn. In contrast the Yahapalanaya government is being accused of bartering away ‘national treasures’ and attempts made to destabilize the government in the hope of throwing it out.
This kind of political optimism can only thrive in an environment where demagoguery reigns supreme. The definition of a demagogue by H. L. Menecken, American journalist, can explain much: A demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to people he knows to be idiots.
Indeed a person who believes that a monument or project that is causing losses to the state to the tune of billions to be a national asset has to be an idiot. The simple question that should be asked directly from a Hambantota activist is: Does he consider the billion dollar loss making Hambantota Harbour a national treasure or one that should be administered in way to show a profit?
A serious flaw in Sri Lankan politics today is the gullibility of the masses. Political polarization has reached the stage where any blatant lie uttered by even a discredited politician, provided he is from his party, is believed to be a sacred truth and what said by political opponents are absolute lies.
If the state of judgment and intelligence of the vast majority of the electorate is in that abysmal state then Sri Lanka is a Democracy of Idiots.
Those politicians with the interest of the county at heart should try to correct this warped mind-set of the people.
With Courtesy from Sunday Leader 

Cardinal Politics & X'Mas Trees!!!!!

Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, said he was 'surprised' when the construction of the tallest Christmas tree was halted whereas the Bishop conference only requested the money to be given to the poor.
He told Ceylon Today that they only 'thought' it was a waste of money as he was under the impression that some Rs 200 million would be spent on the tree.
"I did not say to stop the construction of the tree or re-start the halted Christmas tree plan," he noted.

"I never said we don't want the tree. All I said was that such monies should not be wasted in such a manner but instead be given to the poor", noted the Cardinal.

He also said that he has no authority to halt the plan of erecting an Xmas tree. "I did not indirectly hint to restart the work either," he said.
He said many of the Bishops at the conference objected about the tree. "However, we were told that some artistes wanted to show their talent, so the tree will be constructed as planned. I did not want to engage in any controversies over this matter. This happens in life, you can be misquoted," the Cardinal noted.
From Ceylon Today - Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Youth underemployment: Tragedy of a generation - Dinesh Weerakkody

From Daily FT
Out of the 7.8 million employed population, 1.2 million people are estimated to be three-wheeler drivers. This is a staggering 15.4% of the working population. As a result today many sectors of the economy today are starved of critical manpower.
Pic by Lasantha Kumara

It has been eight years since Sri Lanka’s brutal three-decades-long civil conflict came to an end in May 2009, but for the country’s youth, the true peace dividend is still a long way off.They blame a lack of understanding and the older generation’s unwillingness to compromise, for ongoing economic divisions in this country, where years of ethnic strife created a culture of discord that was not defeated on the battlefield.
Youth activists and Government officials have voiced a unanimous appeal to Sri Lanka’s national leaders to listen to the roughly five million citizens between the ages of 15 and 25 who will determine the country’s future. If these young people are marginalised, sustainable economic growth will be virtually impossible.

untitled-4Today despite all the promises many graduates and other educated youth in the rural areas remain unemployed, as a result they get jobs below their qualifications outside the province. As most instances the only available employment falls in the category of day-labour. Most of the youth want something better than that. Due to this most young people get attracted to own or hire three-wheeler to make a living. There are roughly 1.059 million three-wheelers registered with the RMV.

A three-wheeler requires at least one driver. Out of the 7.8 million employed population, 1.2 million people are estimated to be three-wheeler drivers. This is a staggering 15.4% of the working population. As a result today many sectors of the economy today are starved of critical manpower.

We need to find a way to move them into better paying, low-stressed productive jobs, in order to fill the acute manpower gaps in industry and also strengthen the talent pipeline in the manufacturing, construction, tourism and services sectors.

Current situation
The three wheel drivers virtually have no future and their expectations of improving their standard of living is totally dependent entirely on the income derived from driving three-wheelers for hire.

They spend a large portion of their time waiting for a customer on the road.Their age distribution shows that many of them are below 38 years of age. The number of drivers below 28 years of age is over 28% and those below 38 years of age is over 67%. Many of them have either passed the O/Ls, A/Ls or are graduates.
There are many other factors such as; many of them are underemployed and also involved in frequent road accidents.

Youth who are passing out from secondary education are immediately attracted to work as three-wheeler drivers due to limited employment opportunities, very low entry barriers and the opportunity to be self-employed.

The annual average increase of three-wheelers into the market is around 14%. This creates many opportunities annually for young people who cannot find gainful work to join this industry.

To address this issue the Government needs a strategy to provide a platform for the current three-wheeler drivers to engage in productive work that can deliver better income, in line with their future aspirations. The strategy would be to engage potential new entrants, as well as those who are in their early stage of their career to join new fields which requires training and retraining.

The strategy requires the setting up of new programs that can set them up for industry and at hours convenient for them, given their working patterns. The objective of this strategy of creating better livelihoods needs to be conveyed to them through print and electronic media where the target audience will have regular access.

This effort would require coordinated action from the vocational training authorities, chambers and the private sector. Further, labour market reforms are required for the creation of an enabling environment, which will cater for new types of job/work opportunities.The challenge.

Three-wheelers are one of the vital means for low cost transportation in Sri Lanka. It serves as a family vehicle and during heavy traffic, it is usually used as a quick means to get to places. Further, it is also used for transportation in underserved rural areas, it generates substantive income for the leasing and lending institutions, provides livelihoods for people in the repairs and maintenance sectors. Therefore, the efforts should be well balanced, particularly in view of the public transportation gap which is likely to create.

Practically, no vehicle should be rendered redundant due to the exit of a driver. Their places would be taken by new entrants. As a solution, the new entrants like in Singapore must be retirees from other sectors particularly from the Government and private sectors.

In Sri Lanka we are experiencing an ageing population. There’ll be more people over 40 years of age in the next 10 to 15 years, which means there’ll be more people. Importantly, the growth of three-wheelers in Sri Lanka must be checked with the entry of smaller four wheel vehicles.

In the final analysis, we need to redeploy those below 30 who are underemployed and trainable into industry to fill the manpower gaps in industry and also set in motion a process to manage the entry of people below the age of 30. This effort to succeed would require the collaboration and cooperation between all the key stakeholders and also a transformational leader to provide leadership.

Friday, December 9, 2016

ගෝඨාට පණ පෙවීම

පසුගිය බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ මාධ්‍ය අමතමින් මංගල සමරවීරව පතුරු ගැසුවේය. ඒඊට පෙර දින මංගල විසින් පාර්ලිමේන්තුව හමුවේගෝඨාභය සිය පෞද්ගලික උවමනා වෙනුවෙන් මෙරට මහජන ධනය වැය කිරීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් වූ හෙළිදරව් කිරීමක්  නිසාය.
ගෝඨාභයට එරෙහිව මීට පෙර තවත් චෝදනා රැසක් එල්ල වී තිබිණි. ඉන් කිහිපයක් මේ වන විට විමර්ශනය කෙරෙමින් ද පවතී. මිග් යානා ගනුදෙනුවවීරකැටියේ ඩී.ඒ. රාජපක්ෂ සොහොන සහ ඇවන්ට්ගාර්ඩ් ගනුදෙනුව සම්බන්ධයෙනි.

එහෙත් එතෙක් කල් හැංගිමුත්තම් සෙල්ලමක සිටි  ගෝඨාභයට මංගලගේ ප්‍රකාශය සමඟ ඊට එරෙහිව මෙතරම් තදින් කතා කරන්නට තරම් පණක් ආවේ තමන්ට එරෙහිව එල්ල වූ චෝදනා වැරැදි නිසා නොවන බව පසුගිය මාස කිහිපයේ දී මෙරට දේශපාලන හැසිරීම ගැන අවධියෙන් සිටියා නම් පැහැදිලි වනු ඇත. ගෝඨාභය දැන් ඉන්නේ තමන් ගැන ලොකු විශ්වාසයකිනි. මංගලට නුදුරේම තමන්ගේ දෙපතුල ළඟ වැටෙන්න වෙනවා යැයි හැඟෙන සේ ප්‍රකාශයක් කිරීමට තරම් ඔහුට ඔහුගේ අනාගතය ගැන ලොකු විශ්වාසයක් ගොඩනැගී ඇත. මේ විශ්වාසය ඇති වීමට නියමිත බව අපි විසින් මීට මාස ගණනාවකට පෙර සිටම මෙම තීරුවේම කිහිප වතාවක්ම පෙන්වා දෙන ලද්දෙමු. රාජපක්ෂවරුන්ට එරෙහිව තිබෙන චෝදනා විභාග වීම අතහැර දමා හෝ ප්‍රමාද කරමින් හෝ තිබෙන බව දැන් උවමනාවටත් වඩා පැහැදිලිය.
එමෙන්ම නෛතික ක්‍රියාමාර්ගවල දී ඉතා දුර්වල ලෙස නඩු ගොනු කිරීම සිදුව තිබේ. හොඳම උදාහරණය අල්ලස් හෝ දූෂණ විමර්ශන කොමිසම ඇවන්ට්ගාර්ඩ් සිදුවීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් පවරනු ලැබූ නඩුවය. මෙය ගෝඨාභයව සුද්ද කිරීම සඳහා ගනු ලැබූ පියවරක් බවට මේ වන විට විවිධ පාර්ශ්වවලින් පෙන්වා දී ඇත. මිග් යානා ගනුදෙනුව සම්බන්ධ විමර්ශනඊට අදාළ ලිපි ලේඛන නැතැයි කියමින් ප්‍රමාද වෙමින් ඇත. ඩී.ඒ. රාජපක්ෂ සොහොන සම්බන්ධ විමර්ශන ගැන දැන් වගක් නැත. නමුත් මෙම චෝදනා නිසා කට උත්තර නොමැතිව සිටි ගෝඨාභය හදිස්සියේ කට අරින්න ගත්තේ තමන්ට එරෙහිව කිසිදු චෝදනාවක් එල්ල වීමේ හැකියාව අහෝසි වෙමින් පවතින බව ඔහුට සහතික නිසා විය හැකිය. ඊට හේතුවක් පැහැදිලිය. ඒ2020 ජනාධිපතිවරණය යි.  
මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන දුන් පොරොන්දු ප්‍රකාරව විධායක ජනාධිපති ධුරය අහෝසි නොකෙරෙන්නේ නම් හා ඔහු ජනාධිපතිවරණයට ඉදිරිපත් නොවේ නම් ඉදිරි ජනාධිපතිවරණයේ ශ්‍රීලනිප අපේක්ෂකයා වීමේ විභාගයේ ඉහළින්ම සිටින්නේ ගෝඨාභය බව මේ වන විට පෙනෙන්නට තිබෙන ඇත්තය. එය මෛත්‍රීගේශ්‍රීලනිපයේ හෝ රාජපක්ෂ පවුලේ හෝ කැමැත්ත නොකැමැත්ත විය හැකිය. නමුත් වර්තමාන දේශපාලන පෙළ ගැසීම අනුව ගෝඨා සාධකය සියලු පාර්ශ්ව කෙරෙහි බරපතළ හිසරදයක් වීම නුදුරේම සිදු වනු ඇත. රටෙත් පුරවැසියාගෙත් අනාගතය නොසලකා හැර තම තමන්ගේ දේශපාලනික පැවැත්ම වෙනුවෙන් මාරාන්තික දේශපාලන තීන්දු තීරණ ගැනීමට එජාපයටත් ශ්‍රීලනිපයටත් ජවිපෙ වැනි පක්ෂවලටත් ඒ අනුව සිදු වනු ඇත. විශේෂයෙන්ම ජනාධිපති මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේනට කොට්ට මාරු කර මේ ප්‍රශ්නය විසඳිය නොහැකි වනු ඇත. නියපොත්තෙන් කඩා දැමිය යුතු අවධිය පසු වූවාට පසුව පොරව අතට ගැනීම හැර වෙන විකල්පයක් නොවුණත් එය පහසු නොවනු ඇත. කොහොම නමුත් දැන් කාලය ඉක්ම යමින් ඇත. තමන් පැරදුණා නම් තමන්ට සිදු වන්නේ අඩි හයක් යට වැළලෙන්න යැයි පැවසූ මෛත්‍රීපාල දේශපාලනයේ දී මෛත්‍රී කරන්නට යෑමේ ආදීනව මේ වන විට අත්විඳිමින් සිටිනවාට සැක නැත.
දේශපාලනයේ දී ඇති භයානකම දේ එහි සදාකාලික මිතුරන් හෝ සතුරන් නොමැති වීමය. මිතුරා සතුරා වෙනස් වීම අතර ඇත්තේ ඉතා කෙටි හිඩැසකිඉතා කෙටි කාලයකි. අවශ්‍ය මොහොතේ අවශ්‍ය තීරණය අවශ්‍ය වේගයෙන් ගනු නොලැබීම ගෝඨාභය වැන්නකු  අභියෝගයක් වන තැනට පත් වීමේ හේතුවය.
අද ශ්‍රීලනිපය කල්පනා කරන්නේ ඉදිරි මැතිවරණවල දී එජාපය පරදවා තනිව බලය පිහිටුවා ගැනීම කෙරෙහිය. එහි දී පක්ෂය දෙකඩ වීම වළක්වා ගැනීම ගත යුතුව තිබේ.
ජනාධිපතිවරයා මේ සම්බන්ධයෙන් කවර මතයක් දැරුව ද පක්ෂය රැක ගැනීමට නම් රාජපක්ෂවරයකු මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන හා එකඟතාවකට පැමිණිය යුතු බව පක්ෂයේ ජ්‍යේෂ්ඨයන් බොහොමයකගේ මතය වී තිබේ. පසුගිය කාලයේ මේ සාකච්ඡාව තිබිණි. ඊට ගෝඨාභයගේ පාර්ශ්වයේ එකඟතාවය ද තිබිණි. ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂට තමන් කෙරෙහි වන විශ්වාසය වැඩීමට මේ එකඟතාවය ද වාරුවක් වී ඇති බව පැහැදිලිය. එහෙත් මෙහි දී ශ්‍රීලනිපය මුහුණ දෙන උභතෝකෝටිකයක් පවතී. ඒ අප මෙයට පෙර පෙන්වා දුන් පරිදි මෙය අගමැති රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහගේ ද අපේක්ෂාව වීමය.
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහගේ අපේක්ෂාව2020 ජනාධිපතිවරණය හෝ තනිව ආණ්ඩුවක් පිහිටුවා ගැනීම වන නිසා තමාට පහසුවෙන් පරාජය කළ හැකි සතුරකු සිටීම ඔහුගේ වාසියට හේතු වන්නේය.
ඒ දශක දෙකකට වැඩි ඉතිහාස කතාව තුළ රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ සිව් වරක් අගමැති ධුරයට පත් වුව ද ඔහු එක අතකින් අවාසනාවන්ත දේශපාලකයෙකි.
2005 ජනාධිපතිවරණය යනු ඔහුට ලෙහෙසියෙන්ම ජයගත හැකිව තිබූ අවස්ථාවය. සිය ප්‍රතිවාදියා ලෙස මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂව තෝරා ගැනීම ද රනිල්ගේ මෙහෙයුමක් අනුව සිදු වූවකි. එවකට ශ්‍රීලනිපයේ නායිකාවව සිටි ජනාධිපතිනි චන්ද්‍රිකා බණ්ඩාරනායකගේ ජනාධිපතිවරණ අපේක්ෂකයා ලෙස සුදුසුකම් ලැබූ සිව් දෙනකු සිටි අතර ඒ අතර හෝ මහින්ද සිටියේ නැත. චන්ද්‍රිකාට අවශ්‍ය වූයේ මංගල සමරවීරලක්ෂ්මන් කදිරගාමර්මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන හා අනුර බණ්ඩාරනායක යන සිව් දෙනා අතරින් සිය අපේක්ෂකයා තෝරා ගැනීමට ය.
එහෙත් ඒ සියලු දෙනා පරයා මහින්ද ඉදිරියට ගෙන ආවේ රනිල් විසිනි. මහින්ද විපක්ෂ නායකයා ලෙස පත් කිරීමට අදාළ මාධ්‍ය මෙහෙයුමේ සිට ශ්‍රීලනිපය තුළ මත ගැටුම් ගොඩනැංවීම ද ඒ වෙනුවෙන් මහින්දට උදව් කිරීම ද සිදු විය. ඒ අනුව චන්ද්‍රිකාට බලවත් අකැමැත්තෙන් වුව මහින්දට අපේක්ෂකත්වය දීමට සිදු විය. මේ රනිල්ගේ බලාපොරොත්තුව විය. එනම් මහින්ද දුර්වල අපේක්ෂකයකු වීම ය. ඔහුට ප්‍රතිපත්තියක් දැක්මක් තිබුණේ නැත. ශ්‍රීලනිපය තුළවත් ඔහුට බලයක් තිබුණේ නැත. එමෙන්ම ජවිපෙ සුනාමි සහන මණ්ඩලය පිළිබඳ ප්‍රශ්නය හේතුවෙන් එජනිස ආණ්ඩුවෙන් හා එම සන්ධානයෙන් ද ඉවත්ව ආණ්ඩු විරෝධී ස්ථාවරයක පසුවීම තුළ ජවිපෙ සහාය ද මහින්දට අහිමි වනු ඇති බවට ගණන් බලා තිබිණි. රනිල්ට උතුරු නැගෙනහිර ඇතුළු සෙසු පළාත්වල සුළුතර ජන කොටස්වල සහාය ලැබීම මත එම මැතිවරණය ජය ගැනීමේ හැකියාව තිබිණි.
එහෙත් අවාසනාවකට ජවිපෙ මහින්දගේ ජයග්‍රහණය වෙනුවෙන් එක් විය. එමෙන්ම උතුරේ ඡන්ද වර්ජනය මෙහෙයවා දෙමළ ජනතාවගේ ඡන්දය රනිල්ට ලැබීම වැළැක්වීමට එල්ටීටීඊ සංවිධානය ක්‍රියාත්මක විය. ඉතා සුළු පරතරයකින් රනිල්ට පරාජය පිළිගැනීමට සිදු විය. රනිල්ගේ දේශපාලන ගණන් හැදීම වැරැදි නැති නමුත් බලවත් තුන් වන පාර්ශ්වයක මැදිහත්වීම කළමනාකරණය කර ගැනීමට ඔහුට නොහැකි විය. එහෙත් තමන් දුර්වලයා යැයි සිතන කෙනා සම්බන්ධයෙන් අවශ්‍ය තක්සේරුව තමන්ට අවාසිදායකතැනක සිට ගණන් හැදීම නොකිරීමේ පාඩම එදා රනිල්  ඉගෙන ගත්තාද යන්න ගැන බරපතළ සැකයක්ව පවතී. මන්දඔහු2020ට සූදානම් වන්නේ ද2005 උපක්‍රමයම අනුගමනය කරමින් බව පෙනෙන්නට ඇති බැවිනි. එදා මහින්ද වෙනුවට අද ආදේශ වී ඇත්තේ ඔහුගේ මලණුවන් වන ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂය.
ගෝඨාභය තමන් සහ වන සටනක දී වඩාත් දුර්වල අපේක්ෂකයා වනු ඇති බව ඔහු කල්පනා කරනවා ඇතිය. මන්දපළමුවෙන්ම ගෝඨාභය යනු දේශපාලකයකු නොවීමය.2010 දී සිය ප්‍රතිවාදියා සරත් ෆොන්සේකා වීම නිසා එවැනි ලොකු වාසියක් මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ලැබුවේය. ඒ හා සමානව ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ ද මිලිටරිමය පුද්ගලයකු වීම හා ඔහුගේ ඉතිහාසය සමඟ ගොඩනැගී ඇති බිහිසුණු චිත්‍රය ද රනිල්ට වාසියකි. දෙමළ මුස්ලිම් ජනයාගේ කැමැත්ත ගෝඨාභයට නැත. ඔහු සිංහල බෞද්ධ ජාතිවාදය සරණ යන්නෙකි. එමෙන්ම ඔහුට එරෙහිව ඇති චෝදනා ඉතා බරපතළය. මේ මොහොතේ දී ඒ යම් යටපත් වීමක් තිබුණ ද නිශ්චිත මැතිවරණයක දී ඒ වඩා තීරණාත්මක විය හැකිය.
එමෙන්ම ජවිපෙ සහාය කිසිසේත්ම ඔහුට නොලැබෙනු ඇති යැයි කල්පනා කළ හැකිය. (එහෙත් රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ පරාජය කිරීම දේශප්‍රේමී කටයුත්තක් යැයි කියා ගෝඨාභය සමඟ හෝ එක්වීමේ අවිනිශ්චිතතාවය තිබිය හැකිය) ඒ අනුව මේ වන විට ඇති තත්ත්ව මත ශ්‍රීලනිපයරාජපක්ෂවරුන් විසින් දෙකඩ කරනු ලැබුවහොත් එය රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහගේ ජයග්‍රහණය වඩාත් පහසු කරවනු ඇත. එනමුත් එලෙස දෙකඩ වීමක් සිදු නොවී ශ්‍රීලනිපයේ අපේක්ෂකයා ගෝඨාභය වූවත් රනිල්ට වාසිදායක වීමේ ලක්ෂණ තිබෙන බව පැහැදිලිය. එහෙත් ඒ සුළු දෙයකින් බරපතළ වෙනසක් විය හැකි බව2005 දී අත්දැකීමක් තිබේ.
එසේම රාජපක්ෂවරු යළි සටනට එන්නේ බලය අන් අයකුට පැවරීම අරමුණු කරගෙන නොවේ. තමන්ගේ දුර්වලතා මැඩපවත්වාගෙන වඩා ශක්තිමත්ව2020ට මුහුණ දීම ඔවුන් වෙතින් සිදු වීම විය හැකිය. එහෙත් මෙතෙක් පෙන්නුම් කරමින් සිටින්නේ පරාජයට පත් වූ පැරණි උපක්‍රම කෙරෙහිම විශ්වාසය තබා ක්‍රියා කරන බව ය. යුද්ධය ජයගත් සිංහල බෞද්ධ ජනතාවගේ අසහාය වීරයා ලෙස ගෝඨාභය කරළියට එනු ඇත. ඔහුට ඇති බලගතුම අවිය එය යි. එමෙන්ම උතුරේ ජනතාවගේ ඡන්දය වැළක්වීම ද විය හැකිය. චීනය වැනි බලගතු රාජ්‍යයක සහාය ද ඔහුට හිමි විය හැකිය.
කෙසේ නමුත් මේ දේශපාලන වියවුල්සහගත බවට අද ශ්‍රීලනිපය මුහුණ පා සිටී. රාජපක්ෂවරුන්ගේ අභිප්‍රාය වන්නේ පක්ෂය දෙකඩ කර ඉදිරි මැතිවරණවලින් එය පරාජයට පත් කර මෛත්‍රීපාලව ඉතිහාසයේ කසළ ගොඩට ඇදදමා යළි පක්ෂයේ බලය අල්ලා ගැනීම හෝ මෛත්‍රීපාලව බියට පත් කර තමන්ගේ අණසකට පක්ෂය නතු කරගෙන ඉදිරි මැතිවරණයේ දී යළි රාජපක්ෂ පවුලේ බලය සහතික කර ගැනීමය. මෙය ආණ්ඩු විරෝධය හෝ පක්ෂය දිනවීම හෝ නොව තමන්ගේ සතුරා වූ මෛත්‍රීපාලගෙන් පළිගැනීමට ගන්නා උත්සාහයක් බව පැහැදිලි ය. මෙය ජනාධිපතිවරයා නොදන්නවා විය නොහැකිය. එහෙත් මේ තත්ත්ව මත රාජපක්ෂ පවුලේ සහයෝගය කෙසේ හෝ ශ්‍රීලනිපය වෙත ලබාගත යුතු බවට ශ්‍රීලනිප ජ්‍යේෂ්ඨයන්ගෙන් එල්ලවන බලපෑම ජනාධිපතිවරයාට නොතකා හැරිය නොහැකිව තිබේ. පසුගිය කාලය තුළ දී මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂමෙන්ම බැසිල් රාජපක්ෂගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂචමල් රාජපක්ෂයන අය සමඟ මෛත්‍රී පාර්ශ්වය සාකච්ඡා වට ගණනාවක් පවත්වනු ලැබුවේ මේ සමථයකට පත් කර ගැනීමට ය. නමුත් මේ දක්වා වූ සියලු සාකච්ඡා අසාර්ථක විය. ඒ අනුව රාජපක්ෂවරු සමඟ සියලු ගනුදෙනු අතහැර පෙරළා පහර දීමට තීන්දුවක් ගත් නමුදු ඊට අගමැතිවරයාගේ පාර්ශ්වයෙන් දේශපාලනික බාධා එල්ල වෙමින් පවතී. ඒ ජය ගැනීමට ශ්‍රීලනිපය සමත් නොවුණහොත් මේ වියවුල තවත් බරපතළ වනුයේ ලබන වසරේ දී පැවැත්වීමට නියමිත පළාත් සභා මැතිවරණය හමුවේ ය. එහි දී පළමු වටයේදීම උතුරුමැද පළාත් මැතිවරණය පැවැත්වෙනු ඇත. ශ්‍රීලනිපයේ නායක මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන නියෝජනය කරන පොළොන්නරුව දිස්ත්‍රික්කයත් පක්ෂයේ ලේකම් දුමින්ද දිසානායක නියෝජනය කරන අනුරාධපුරයත්උතුරුමැද පළාතට අයත් වේ. ඒ කවර ක්‍රමයකින් හෝ ජය ගැනීම මෛත්‍රීපාල පාර්ශ්වයේ පැවැත්ම තීරණය කරන ප්‍රධානතම කරුණ වනු ඇත.
කොහොම නමුත් දෙපාර්ශ්වය අතර වන මේ සීතල දේශපාලන යුද්ධය විසින් ජනවාරි08 වන දා අපේක්ෂා කෙමෙන් යටපත් වෙමින් තිබීම රට මුහුණ පා සිටින කනගාටුදායක තත්ත්වය ය. ඊටත් වඩා ඛේදවාචකය නම් රාජපක්ෂ පාලනය පෙරළා දැමීම සඳහා එක් වූ සිවිල් සමාජ බලවේගයන් ද මේ පාර්ශ්ව දෙක හා බෙදී වෙන්ව මේ දේශපාලන අර්බුද තීව්‍ර කිරීම සඳහා කටයුතු කිරීමය.
දේශපාලන පක්ෂවලට බලය සඳහා වන අරගලය අත් හැරිය නොහැකිය. පක්ෂ බිහි වන්නේම ඒ වෙනුවෙනි. එහෙත් ජනවාරි08 වන දින මෙරට ජනතාව විසින් ජයග්‍රහණය කරවූ අපේක්ෂා යථාර්ථයක් කිරීමේ වගකීම ජනාධිපතිවරයාටත් අගමැතිවරයාටත් අත් හැරිය නොහැකිය. අප යළිත් අවධාරණය කරන්නේ මේ ගෙවෙන වසර කිහිපය සාම්ප්‍රදායික දේශපාලන භාවිතා අනුව තීන්දු තීරණ ගත යුතු මොහොතක් කර නොගෙන ඉතිහාසය පුරා පිළිලයක්ව පවතින බලය සම්බන්ධයෙන් පවතින ගෝත්‍රවාදී චින්තනය පරාජය කළ යුතු බවය.
- ​සුජය