Thursday, January 12, 2012

Private University Act name changed. Academics given a bone

Sri Lanka Ministry of Higher Education said in a statement that the circular in relation of rectifying the salary anomalies of the university academic and non-academic staff would be sent to the Vice Chancellors tomorrow.

The media spokesman of the Federation of University Teachers' Associations (FUTA) Dr. Mahim Mendis yesterday said that the token strike scheduled on January 17 would be held without change.

The FUTA says that the government should have discussed with the public before the proposed act in relation to higher education would be brought in parliament. Therefore, the the second reason for the strike of the university teachers remain despite the salary anomalies are rectified, as said by the Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education says that the proposed act is not the Private University Act as named by certain sections but an Act on Safeguarding Standards and Qualifications Framework. The Secretary to the Ministry Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navarathna states that since for more than 15 years Non Governmental Organisations have been involved in the process of issuing Degrees, Post Graduate Degrees, Diplomas and other Certificates, this Act is being brought in order to establish the legal framework and regulations that are necessary for this process.

Government is playing a trump. A bone is thrown to the academics. Will they be busy licking it as the government will proceed with the name changed Private University Act?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Capital begins to flow to Mannar of Sri Lanka's war ravaged north

Timex and Fergasam Group which supplies to top labels such as Marks & Spencer, Victoria’s Secret, House of Frazer, Diesel, H&M and SUZI Chin is to set up a new apparel factory complex in Mannar, Sri Lanka.

US $ 5 million Board of Investment (BOI) approved project is considered a grand opening of the former war ravaged Tamil dominated area of the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka to investments.

The construction of the factory complex is now underway and the factory is to start production by mid-October 2012.

The apparel factory complex has the scope for 7000 jobs, 2000 direct and another 5000 indirect, for the people in the war ravaged, poverty stricken, unemployment spread district.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Sri Lanka government to limit sound emanation by vehicle horns

Sri Lanka Central Environmental Authority has taken steps to bring in new laws to control the over use of vehicle horns.

Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority Charitha Herath said that the bill in this regard now being compiled would be submitted to the cabinet and then tabled in parliament soon by the Minister of Environment.

According to the regulations that is to be introduced, the maximum sound output of a vehicle horn would be limited to 195 decibels.

The environmental authorities have noticed that certain vehicles especially the private buses have horns that emanate excessive sound. In some instances the buses have been fixed with modified silencers as well to emanate too much sound. They use these tactics for commercial purposes and sometimes due to ignorance.

Some people like the noisiness, I don't know why.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Culling times ahead of Sri Lanka's stray dogs

Dogs challenge Namal's Colombo Street motor races
In Sri Lanka dogs are luckier than humans. There are influential persons from social elite to appear for canine rights.

Most of these people will not open their mouths if government decides to kill the rebel youth of the JVP rebel Movement for People's Struggles (MPS). Two MPS activists have disappeared and nobody seems interested although the MPS attempts to turn the streets upside down over the matter.

Who cares? The two disappeared are Tamils. Just another two Tamil youths to be added to a long, long list of such people.

Forget them, let us talk about dogs. Dogs challenged the Colombo Street Motor Races in December and in our Sinhala blog we predicted the animals would see a bad time. Anyway, there are only dogs nor to challenge the Rajapaksa regime.

Sri Lanka's stray dogs sterilization programmes conducted by several NGOs have proven a failure. Dog population has risen from two million earlier media reports to three million present media reports. God knows what count the basis is.

Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena seems well scented the regime's need of arresting the dog issue in its efforts to economically survive with the tourism industry. Sinhala daily Lankadeepa in a gossip column said that a wife of a Western diplomat had told that she wondered how island would become a tourist paradise due to this dog issue.

Minister Sirisena raised the matter at Kaluthara and Polonnaruwa hospitals during inspection tours. The officials pointed out that the stray dogs have become a nuisance to patients and staff in government hospitals. An official pointed out that there were 30,000 stray dogs in Polonnaruwa district alone. Deputy Minister of Ports Rohith Abegunawardhana said at Kaluthara hospital that there were around 4000 stray dogs in Colombo Port.

The Minister of Health said that the government spent one billion rupees per annum for sterilization programmes and half of the amount to treat dog bites. Around 2000 dog bites are reported from Sri Lanka each day.

Signs indicate that the dogs will have to go. Animal love will go where 'Mathata Thitha' or the No Liquor policy went.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why Sri Lanka Marxist JVP's Premakumar Gunarathnam hiding?

Sources close to Sri Lanka Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) dissidents say that the wife and children of JVP dissident faction leader Premakumar Gunarathnam was detained and lengthily questioned at Katunayaka airport.

Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana also said that an Australian citizen woman and two children were detained at airport for questioning.

Premakumar's wife, Champa Somarathna, is a doctor by profession and she is a Sinhala national migrant to Australia. Along with the two children, she was leaving Sri Lanka, where they spent their year-end vacation, when they were detained. They were to take a flight to Australia via Singapore.

Gunarathnam is suspected of violating immigration and emigration regulations through the use of forged passports.

He is suspected for the use of forged identity even to migrate to Australia.

Elusive Gunarathnam leads the JVP dissident faction that has organized themselves as Movement for People's Struggles.

JVP did not involve in violence openly after the post-1989 re-organizing. Gunarathnam was a second tier leader  of 1989 insurrection and he was arrested and later released by military.

He was able to legalize his existence easily when he was in JVP's de facto politburo as one of the senior most leaders during the period the party was in alliance with government. He could be simply appointed to the parliament through the national list when JVP had around 40 parliamentary seats most of which were represented by incapable persons.

However, he opted to remain away from public sphere although he was known by almost all of the party organizing body. Being an ethnic Tamil who is not fluent in his mother tongue, he used the name Gemunu one time, a selection of a name of a king of the island's history who is considered a symbol of the anti-Tamil arch Sinhala nationalism.

The way the JVP explains the reasons for his being underground is that the party will need such activists in time of a suppression. Yet, the presence of Premakumar was not a secret to the intelligence services of the government. JVP ushered this secret behaviour to keep up the morale of the lower level cadres who had sacrificed their lives for a dream of socialism. Premakumar's secret existence was a gullible guarantee to the hardcore cadres that the party would not give up the struggle for socialism although it was in coalitions with the capitalist governments which the party leaders explained as political strategies on the way to achieve socialism.

Gunarathnam led a middle class private life unlike many other JVP full timers. His wife is a medical officer by profession. Gunarathnam was an engineering student of Peradeniya university when he joined the armed struggle of JVP. He never completed the degree and remained as a full time activist of the JVP. His children learnt in elite schools. The family then opted to seek green pastures of developed west, a common dream of the Sri Lankan middle class. With support of the JVP sympathizers, he easily got the migration arranged and settled in Australia perhaps using a forged identity.

However, he maintained a cross party group from Down Under and pushed JVP to some extremist decisions like rejecting to join the government after working hard for the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Party logic behind these two polar decisions is incomprehensible.

The group showed some sympathy towards the minority Tamils though they extended hearty support to the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in which many thousands of similar youth of the Tamil community perished. It is yet unclear if the JVP dissidents led by him have changed their stance of vehemently opposing the power devolution.

He was asked to come to Sri Lanka by his group as the party hierarchy was in a leadership battle and on the verge of split. He has obliged to the request of the party cadres and now it is believed he is in Sri Lanka under cover. Police is after him but without much determination to arrest him. It appears his movements are under surveillance. He can be brought to books for violating immigration and emigration regulations. Police appears investigating any links of the JVP dissidents with the LTTE, which the writer thinks a none-entity.

It is suspected his present opponents who were his affectionate proponents earlier silently passed information regarding his forged identity to the intelligence wings. The guilt of betraying their own past comrade to the government was attempted to pass to the accounts of breakaway JVP politburo members like Wimal Weerawansa and Nandana Gunathilaka. However, it can be the mainstream JVP hierarchy itself who passed the information to the spies.

Final outcome is the scattering of an ambitious middle class family with close relationship. The two kids living in a different land lost the needy association a loving father. Police doubt, Champa Somarathna arrived in Sri Lanka for a brief family reunion. Their questioning of the wife of Premakumar at the airport proves partial inefficiency of the intelligence wings or perhaps the lack of coordination of state intelligence.They could have followed the woman and arrested Gunarathnam if she met him. Instead, they created a news.

The suspicion of the JVP dissidents that their leader's life is in danger will be further deep-root with this.

However, Premakumar Gunarathnam is not a man like Kumaran Pathmanathan a.k.a. KP. The latter was a terrorist leader who engaged in subversive activities like military procurement for the LTTE. There is no evidence that Premakumar Gunarathnam has engaged in any kind of subversive activities.

His secret existence is partly a JVP tactic marketed to the members to maintain their commitment to party and partly a move of Premakumar himself backed by a bizarre mentality that is known only to the persons that are in this kind of politics.

-Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe

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