Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Ivap has a post on Trincomalee student murders.Just have to add that it's damn time that criminals among security forces be brought to justice.So many incidents (88-90,Bindunewewa ,Krishanthi Kumaraswamy and numerous atrocities in North and South) and nobody has been punished for any of the crimes.Anybody remember (or heard about )Premawathie Manamperi incident during 1971 insurgency ,and how the murderers were brought to justice?

Coming back to the post I was going to write ,it's highways as usual .Check this in Asian tribune.Practically these guys are begging for decent roads.
According to Gretian Gunawardana , Chairman of Hands group said that they need a better transportation network to carry out their normal operations without wasting time.“If our international buyers need to check our products they have to waste more than four to five hours to visit the factories in the rural areas.
If you summerise what they are saying,it will be "We don't need tax breaks and we don't need textile quota.Please give us a good road system.We can compete in international market".
I checked the progress of all the highways projects in the ministry web site.It's seems that they are planning on speeding up southern highway but the documents and excel sheets doesn't say much.It might be 2015 when we have at least the basic system of higways connecting Colombo Matara,kandy and airport.This is the road system we should have built in 70's or 80's!

Here is a simple plan.Put all the resources into one highway and finishing it ASAP to show the country how it can turn the things around.People will be demanding that their regions be connected within 6 months of completion of one highway.
Take for example the southern expressway.
1.Galle and Matara will be practically suburbs of Colombo.
2.Number of of industries will be starting up close to the exits of the highway which are currently underdeveloped and have very limited job oppertunites.
3.Tourism in deeper parts of South will boom.
4.Better prices and market access to the agricultural products from South and Uva .

Finish the damn thing as soon as possible.
Within six months people will be protesting about the slow pace of other projects(Kandy ,Anuradhapura etc..)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Constitution Blues

I ain't no constitoosion scholar.
We had both 1972 and 1978 constitutions at home when I was a kid.I never bothered reading them ,and it bored me to death when I tried.On the other hand I actively seeked out the US constitution recently.I just had to compare both preambles to see the superiority of a document that was drafted more than 200 hundred years ago(ammended 27 times) to a one that is only 27 years old(amended 17 times).
My sudden interest in the constitution was partially due to several articles (0,1 ,2,3)by Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe . It is inevitable that we have to make some changes to the constitution within next couple of years.Why ?There could be 3 possible outcomes from current chaos.
1.Establishment of Ealam
2.A settement with power sharing
3 No war -No peace current situation continuing for ever.
Since possiblity 3 is highly unlikely it will be either first or second option. In either case there will be some changes to the way we will be governed.So I thought of listing what I would like to see in the new constitution.
Seperation of Temple(Church,Mosque) and State completely.No prefered status to any religion.

(I was planning to write a post about this, specially about a column I saw in Lakbima by Champika Ranawaka on what happened during last Diyawadena Nilame race )

2. Executive Presidential system is good .Keep it.

(In a multi ethnic society, it is healthy to have the executive elected by all the communities rather than leader of a party who represent one electrorate).

3.Seperation of Executive branch ,Legislature and Judiciary for real.

For instance have a fixed number of cabinent position and let the president appoint them from outside parliament.If they are in the parliament, they have to resign.I think prof .Wijesinghe suggestd this in one of the articles as well.IMO the best thing about this that it will reduce the cronyism a little bit .Another plus is government pork going only to a handful of areas depending on whether you have a powerful minister as your MP will stop.Since the president can look outside the parliament may be he can get real talent to run important ministries.

4.Let's have a Senate or a house of lords (or whatever it is called.How about council of elders?).

Professor also suggests this.We can limit the number to 50 like he says.I think he comes with a model of 7 members to represent each province.What about 2 members for each district for senate and we go back to the old model of 1 member one seat in the parliament and cut down 225 to a reasonable number. We had a senate earlier .It was scrapped in 1972 I think.Social studies text books (year 10 ,11) teaches that having a Senate is not good democracy and I thought that for sometime ,too.A senate could act like a control mecanism for parliamnet and we can get real diversity (close to 60-40 majority-minority) in the numbers.(For instance if we go by district model we will probably have Tamil /Muslim members from Jaffna2,Killinochchi2,Vauniya 1,Mannar 2,Mullative 2,Trincomalee 2,Batticalo 2 ,Ampara 1,Puttlam 1,Colombo 1 ,N'Eliya 1,Badulla 1,May be one or two Muslim/Tamil members from the rest of the districts which put the number close to 20 out of 50) .For every piece of law passed,there should be majority of 2/3 from senate so that any legislation that is unfair to minorities passed by parliamnet can be stopped . (if that some sounds unfair, some clever mechanism should be deviced so that the majority cannot abuse power)

5.Independent Police ,Election(we already have one) and Civil Service commisions.Also a fixed date for elections so that no astrologer cannot pull the date out of his ass.

If the above sounds a lot similar to US system ,you bet it is.What we need is a secular document with good check and balances.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Holy Oil in Senate

Kudos to Sittingnut for the great post on the conduct of Sri Lankan armed forces and police.

Although I'm little bit pressed for time these days ,This great news seems hard to let go .
"Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday
Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name."

Anybody remember how the impeachment of president Premadasa played out ?It was said that the President brought in an indian "Poosari" (or whoever) and cast a spell on Parliament and annointed some oil on the seats so that anybody who sit on them couldn't vote against him!It was "pig's oil" or "Uuru Thel" in Sinhala. I don't know the proper term in English.It is said that this mysterious oil is distilled from pork.(I guess he was chanting some mantras while he was brewing it) .The gossip columns of Ravaya ,Yukthiya and other Sinahala papers carried the juicy story.
To break the spell ,the opposition leader Sirimao Bandaranayake brought in a small vial of " pirith pan" (Buddhist holy water) to the parliament .It looks like "Uuru thel" was more powerful than the holy water.The impeachment was stopped just before it was taken for a vote.I don't know how the speaker of the parliament M.H.Mohammed ,a devout muslim and the main player in the whole saga, reacted to the pork story.

Take that America !
We did it 13 years ago!
That's so 90's!

Senator Pat Leahy ,please contact Sri Lankan embassy for details on the great spell busting oil.