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An unsolicited manifesto for ‘Viyathmaga’ State Ministers

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressing ‘Viyathmaga’ event in the run-up to 2019 presidential poll

Beginning from April 2010 as initiated by Dr. Usvatte-aratchi (UA), “Samskriti” team which included this writer, conducted a series of discussions based on a concept paper prepared by UA to provide a concrete definition to “Viyathuns”. The aim of the “Samskriti” team was to publish a special issue of “Samskriti” titled “Viyathunge Lokaya” (The World of “Viyathuns”). Unfortunately, it did not materialise due to various reasons. Had the “Samskriti” succeeded in this far-reaching venture, the present confusion about “who is a Viyatha” could have been resolved at least to some extent. At present the term “Viyatha” is being used ambiguously to identify a technocrat or a professional which holds no validity.

On August 12, at the historic Magul Maduwa in Kandy, five “Viyathmaga” members took oaths as State Ministers. In addition, three other “Viyathmaga” members were appointed as Chairpersons of three District Coordinating Committees, respectively making all elected from the group office holders. Although some were eyeing for top Cabinet posts such as finance, capital markets, investment promotion and public enterprise reforms, they had to settle with waste disposal and urban sanitation. Research and innovation, a plum Ministry was given to a person who had excelled in channel practice, who according to a Wikipedia post, roamed between six private hospitals a day. Empty rhetoric pays rich dividends. Of these eight members only one has previous parliamentary experience; another was a UNP Provincial Council Member. Anyway we wish them all success, to fulfill President’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.

As we are made to believe that there is a big difference between “Viyathmaga” MPs and others (“Noviyathuns” eh!), although there are more “Viyathuns” in the latter group, for example one who has earned a Ph.D. for his thesis on “Human-Elephant Conflict” (who fits to hold the Ministry for Electric Fence and Ditch Construction, “Aliweta Amathi”), we have drafted this unsolicited manifesto for “Viyathmaga” State Ministers.

With apologies to Marx and Engels, “(I)it is high time that” they “should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies and meet this nursery tale of the Specter”, “with a Manifesto”.

 

Manifesto highlights:

(1) Since we also at the recently concluded election campaign resorted to similar advertising strategies as the other candidates, we will divulge our election expenditure and sources of funding immediately.

(2) We will not hesitate to immediately declare details of our assets, assets of our spouses and immediate family members.

(3) We will bring fresh legislation limiting election campaign finances and providing provisions to disclose funding sources of the campaigners, if the government fails to implement “Regulations of Election Expenditure Act” drafted in 2018.

(4) We will inform the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs that we will forgo our duty free vehicle permits, and use our own vehicles or Ministry vehicles, or take a boat ride to Parliament as exemplified by the former Mayor of Kotte, in case we cannot use public transport.

(5) Taking a leaf from the State Minister, who has earned a name for his notoriety in the previous Parliament who now decided to shift his Ministry from the luxurious precinct of World Trade Centre to “Ape Gama” complex, we too will shift our offices to places familiar to our clientele.

(6) We will not appoint our spouses or immediate family members as our Private Secretaries, Parliamentary Affairs Secretaries, Coordinating Secretaries, Public Relations Officers, Assistant Secretaries, Clerks and Drivers, and misuse Ministry funds, resources, vehicles and petrol allowance for the benefit of our families and kith and kin.

(7) We will not try to admit our children to prestigious schools in Colombo.

(8) We will not use the facility for MPs’ insurance coverage.

(9) We will not seek luxury residences at government expense as we have our own residences in Colombo and its suburbs.

(10) We will not cause any inconvenience to ordinary road users at the behest of security details violating traffic rules, whilst using the road network.

(11) Since we know that there is no threat to our lives, we refrain from using STF or commando escort.

(12) We will not receive an office allowance if we use our own premises as our offices.

(13) We will not allow our free postal allowance to mail letters of events of our friends and catchers.

(14) We will use official telephones sparingly, and will not claim for the usage of personal telephones.

(15) We will not claim for Parliamentary sittings and attending Committee Meetings.

(16) We will use the hospitality allowance only when and where necessary.

(17) We will not use Parliament cafeteria to feed our own catchers and media men who paint a rosy picture of ours.

(18) We will provide measures to eliminate wasteful and unproductive expenditure and eradicate bribery, corruption and malpractices in institutions under our purview.

(19) We will not engage in any foreign trips at government expenditure with our spouses and children, where matters can be handled by our foreign missions.

(20) We will not be lured by the manipulations of the pharmaceutical mafia and will not get sponsorships from the pharmaceutical industry for ministerial events and accept foreign jaunts for us and scholarships for our children.

(21) We will not undertake spearheading on any propaganda blitz, spending colossal amounts of money to host international sports competitions in Sri Lanka such as the failed bid to host the Commonwealth Games.

(22) We will forthwith stop engaging in private practice.

(23) We will forgo our pension rights as we understand the absurdity of getting a pension serving only five years.

It is said that “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” So as colourful tapestries embroidered to adorn the walls of Diyawanna, we are like replicas of Caesar’s wife Pompeia. We remember that Caesar divorced his wife not because he believed that his wife committed adultery. The reason was her name was linked with Claudius, who gained admission disguised as a woman to a woman only party hosted by Pompeia, with the aim of seducing her. In Sri Lanka Claudiuses are abound donning various costumes, we know.

 

SENA THORADENIYA



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Opinion

Nelum Kuluna poses danger to aircraft

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The top of Nelum Kuluna (Lotus Tower) stands 350 above sea level in the heart of Colombo City, as the air navigators of old would say, sticking out like a ’sore thumb’. It has to be lit up in accordance with the Aircraft Obstacle Lighting recommendations contained in Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention originally signed by Ceylon in 1944.

A free-standing tower of that height is required by international law to be lit up not only at night with red lights, but also with high visibility white strobe lights during the day.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be on always during the day. The authorities concerned must realise that the strobe lighting during the day is not for beauty but for air safety, especially these days, when the air quality and visibility are low during the day.

Have those in charge of the tower been briefed properly on the legal requirement and the use of proper lighting? In case of an accident, this certainly will have implications on insurance claims.

I wonder whether the ‘Regulator’, Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka would like to comment.

If not rectified, it will be just a matter of time an aircraft will be impaled by the Nelum Kuluna.

I M Nervy (Aviator)

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Opinion

Simple questions to Sirisena and Gotabaya

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If Sirisena had not been informed of the plans to explode bombs on 21st of April 2019, as he has claimed, shouldn’t he have taken immediate action to call for explanation from Nilantha Jayawardena, then head of State Intelligent Service (SIS), who had been notified several times about the impending attack by the Indian intelligence.

Sirisena and Jayawardena should be prosecuted for allowing a mass murder to take place. Further Sirisena should be made to explain his famous uttering, “I will reveal everything, if somebody tries to implicate me”.

Why did Gotabaya, who announced his candidature for presidency almost immediately after the Easter Sunday attack and promised to punish those who were involved in it, pay no attention to Nilantha Jayawardena’s failure in taking necessary action with regard to information he received, instead he was given a promotion?

President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting with USAID Administrator Samantha Power on September 11, 2022 had said that Scotland Yard had been requested to review the reports and reach a final conclusion on claims that there was a hidden hand behind the bombings.

We do not need Scotland Yard, just get an honest set of Sri Lankan police officers to question Nilantha, Sirisena and Gotabaya to find the “hidden hand behind the bombings”

B Perera

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Opinion

Open letter to Sirisena

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Y you were in Singapore when the Easter Sunday attacks took place. You claimed that you had not been informed of the intelligence received by your intelligence officers. However, the Supreme Court has ordered you to pay Rs 100M as compensation to the victims of the terror attacks. The reasons for the decision are stated in the judgement.

Acting on a claim that there was a conspiracy to assassinate you and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya you caused the interdiction and arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva, who was held in custody without bail for a long time.

In his testimony to the Presidential Commission  of Inquiry, Silva said that he had been interdicted while plans were in place to arrest Zaharan.

Due to the arrest of DIG Silva, Zaharan escaped arrest. Silva was never charged. Zaharan continued with his plans and the rest is history.

After the SC order you have been claiming that you have no money to pay the Rs 100M as compensation. You are asking for public help to pay compensation to Easter carnage victims. You even accepted some money collected by a person called Sudaththa Tilakasiri, who begged from people.

You have said publicly that you submitted your asset declarations. I suggest that you sell all your assets declared in the declarations before asking for funds from the public.

Hemal Perera

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