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The preface of Raj Rajaratnam’s book: Why I fought the good fight

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In October 2009 I was arrested and charged with insider trading. I chose to fight the charges against me because I was innocent.

The prosecutors alleged that 0.01% of my trades between 2005 and 2009 were illegal.

I understood that in the US there is a 97% conviction rate (similar to China and Russia) and a punitive trial penalty for those who dare to go to trial. Empirical studies have shown that the trial penalty is just about double that handed to those who plead guilty. If a defendant agrees to become a cooperating witness, helping the government with testimony — irrespective of the truth — to convict another defendant, the co-operating witness gets a much-reduced sentence and in many cases just parole.

I understood the stakes. I chose to go to trial. Why? It’s a question I’ve since been asked hundreds of times. Why. Why jeopardize everything. Because to my core I believed I would get a fair hearing. And with a fair hearing and a rational exposition of the facts, the truth would have prevailed. Until my arrest I had the highest regard for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). I believed that most Americans felt that way in 2009. Since then, of course, the American public has become jaded about the sanctity of these institutions with multiple examples of overreach and excess.

Certain DOJ and FBI sections operate, each attempting to further its own agenda without regard for Constitutional checks and balances. The terms “fake news,” the “Dark State” are now bandied about with almost wild abandon, humor, and satire. The public now assumes the existence of “fake news” alongside “authentic” news with little effort towards journalistic integrity. During the time of my arrest and trial, information from the media, DOJ, and FBI was absorbed as unquestioned “Trust,” although some would argue that the dark state has existed for many years. While I still believe that the vast majority of those who work for the DOJ and the FBI are people of integrity, this book is an attempt to shed light on the corrupt few who act with impunity and destroy lives and families to further their career ambitions.

From the moment of my arrest, the narrative of my story was recast with a precise agenda, shaped to direct public attention away from the stark horror of the 2007-2008 financial crisis while promoting media idolatry of the publicity hungry and ambitious rookie US Attorney, Preet Bharara, who became a demi-God, the “Sheriff of Wall Street” riding into battle against myself, relentlessly personified as evil incarnate on the front pages of major newspapers around the world. Wanton disregard for the law, recognized by the judge at my trial, allowed a corrupt element within the FBI, Agent Kang, to falsify documents leading to my arrest and falsify testimony leading to my conviction.

I faced prosecutorial misconduct at its finest. The overzealous media, feasting on a human story they could sell every day, also profoundly prejudiced any hope of gathering an impartial jury by the time of the trial. These three institutions, ostensibly guardians of the public interest, charged with impartiality and integrity, bore down in a concerted campaign to make me the face of the financial crisis. My arrest and subsequent trial, a two-year process, deflected attention from a glaring fact: Not one major banker was held accountable for the 2008 global meltdown. No arrests. No searing prosecution. No jail time.

In the midst of a financial crisis which brought a multi-trillion-dollar world economy to its knees, these three institutions, independently and collectively, targeted a tiny slice of the US financial industry, hedge funds; honed in on a single hedge fund, Galleon; isolated only me, its CEO, who had recently become one of the few immigrants on Wall Street to be identified as a billionaire; and built a fabulous and intricate tale of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” to entertain the public and build their own reputations. Their two-year reality series was successful beyond measure.

Preet Bharara, the then-US attorney for the Southern District of New York, used my prosecution to launch an unprecedented press campaign to promote himself. Bharara ran roughshod over the truth, standard Department of Justice protocols, and the office’s own dignity in his extraordinary zeal to convict me. Time Magazine put Bharara on its cover, their headline proclaiming “this man is busting Wall-Street.” It was Preet’s finest moment. Bharara did not touch the real perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis – Wall Street’s top bankers. In a rare moment of public acknowledgement, both Preet and the influential New York Magazine observed in 2014 that Bharara was almost sheepish about the insider cases — “they made our careers, but they (didn’t) change the world.”

Bharara’s impotent and poisoned approach to the non-prosecution of criminal activity on Wall Street — ranging from the mortgage bankers who precipitated the financial crisis (Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers), the money-laundering of drug cartels (HSBC), and the encouraging of tax evasion by US citizens (UBS, CSFB) — would become the defining legacy of his tenure. Each of these firms settled civil charges by paying billions of dollars in fines using shareholder money, but no single person was criminally charged or individually fined. Every one of the insider trader prosecutions was criminal. The towering hypocrisy remains startling.

The prosecution under Bharara’s watch advanced a theory of trading to prosecute me and several others which the second circuit appeals court subsequently overruled, criticizing it for “doctrine novelty.” Soon after my trial in May 2011, the then-SEC commissioner Mary Shapiro gloated that “the beauty of insider trading laws is the flexibility in interpreting them.” The lead prosecutor in my case, Jonathan Streeter said in December 2012, “Insider Trading cases are confusing to investment professionals.” He went on to add, “There is incredible confusion on what is illegal and it’s a real problem. The law is very complicated and the lines are a bit murky.” A US Attorney, the prosecution in my trial, and the head of the SEC, all acknowledged their reservations about a “murky” set of laws but had no “murky” reservations using them liberally in my case and at my trial.

The FBI agent overseeing my case Special Agent BJ Kang lied on his sworn affidavit to obtain wiretap authorization of my phone. Recognizing there had been government misconduct, Judge Richard Holwell who presided over my trial case, issued a searing criticism of the wiretap application used by Agent Kang, reprimanding him for “reckless disregard for the truth with respect to both probable cause and necessity.” The Judge went on to add that “false and misleading statements and omissions pervaded the affidavit (submitted by Special Agent Kang) so extensively that it was impossible for the authorizing judge to have the constitutionally required determination for the issuance of the wiretap…rather than provide a full and complete statement as required by the law, the wiretap affidavit made full and complete omissions and included literally false information.”

Kang did not stop at blowing through truth on paper. He menaced and threatened my family and employees with prosecution, frightened away crucial defense witnesses, and routinely leaked false information to the media churning up an unabated feeding frenzy that shredded me in the court of public opinion. Kang took his cues from the playbook of the publicly reviled former FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. I was tried, convicted, and sentenced in the press even before I fully understood the charges against me. The atmosphere was so toxic that my lead counsel, veteran defense lawyer John Dowd said “the prejudicial publicity orchestrated by the USA was so palpable in the courtroom…It was the most toxic atmosphere of any case I ever tried.”

My defense team led by John Dowd, along with expert testimony from a former SEC legal counsel, repeatedly highlighted that all the information discussed in the wiretaps was already in the public domain. Every bit of information was in the public domain. It did not matter. No amount of truth could overcome the false testimony trained into the co-operating witnesses by Streeter, his team of prosecutors, and Bharara, who sat on the sidelines, waiting in eager anticipation for any opportunity for a press conference. Each of the cooperating witnesses had committed his own set of crimes, unrelated to Galleon. Yet each chose to testify against me as an opportunity to reduce their probable sentences. That they were perjuring themselves was irrelevant; the government coerced them into an immediate mandate to take me down. Even the government’s star witness, Anil Kumar, offered damning testimony under oath in my case only to recant the very same sworn testimony three years later during the trial of my brother. My brother was subsequently acquitted as a result of the revised and opposite version of Anil Kumar’s testimony. A few newspapers picked up on this gross disparity, but that was it. The fact of perjury had no consequence. The cycle was vicious. “Innocent until proven guilty,” the cornerstone philosophy of the American judicial system was proving to be a farce.

I was convicted by a jury, sentenced to 11 years in jail, and paid fines of over $150 million. The irony is that even in setting the fines, the prosecutors working in tandem with the media kept up the unceasing drumbeat of punishment for the financial crisis. Never mind that I did not personally make any money from the alleged trades. And never mind that not one single investor sued me. Galleon went through an orderly process of closing down the firm and returned all the funds with a gain of 22%. Not a single investor lost money. Most important to me, personally, was that not one single investor sued me.

In July 2019, I was released after serving 7.5 years of my 11-year sentence under the First Step Act.

I wrote this book entirely in prison and by hand. I began by writing about an hour a day. Soon that increased to two hours. Then three. I am choosing to publish the book for two specific reasons: First, I want my peers, professionals who understand the nuances of managing money, to hear the facts of my case. I want them to judge me. It is my assertion that I was entrapped, framed, unlawfully wiretapped, surveilled, and then made to endure a brutal and very public media lynching.

Secondly and more importantly, I want to begin a public discussion by creating awareness of how certain corrupt prosecutors and FBI agents are allowed to get away with criminal behavior. There are no checks and balances in our Justice system. Recently there has been a lot of discussion as to whether the President should be above the law. The President is so closely scrutinized that doing anything against the law would ring alarms bells the world over. Instead, my assertion is that the focus should be on the corruption within the American judicial system, on a handful of corrupt US attorneys who live their lives exempt from the law by which they control the lives of others and the rest of the country. In this book I will show how ambitious prosecutors actively take advantage of murky laws and coerce testimony from government witnesses to obtain wrongful convictions. Winning at all costs, regardless of the truth appears at every level to be an operative mantra. I realize there is only one book I can write to set the record straight. This is it.

My story is also about greed. In all its forms, greed boils down to avarice, hunger, power, money, ambition. All of these are readily available and identifiable in the financial industry, by definition. In fact, I would say that in the financial industry, greed is effectively a cliché with fear being on the flip side of a pair trade. Fear and greed are easy to communicate, and the media hones in on these aspects of Wall Street. But what I would like to do in this book is to hone in on the excess and greed in the judicial system. Ambition in the judicial system also translates to power and money, a far more insidious and dangerous consequence to society because it goes unchecked. After I was convicted, the press had a field day speculating whether the “new sheriff” of Wall Street, Preet Bharara, was actually in line to succeed Eric Holder as the next US Attorney General when Holder stepped down. While Bharara was at first coy about his intentions, he eventually made clear his goal to secure the job based on his work prosecuting Wall Street. He may have wanted the job but did not get it.

The same ambitions were true for the three government prosecutors in my case – all three left government shortly after closing out my case for higher paying jobs as partners in leading law firms. They and their new employers spent considerable effort drumming up business on the heels of the skills honed during their time as former prosecutors to future defendants accused of insider trading. They had no problem making the transition from denouncing apparent “greed” in the financial markets to defending that same greed, switching sides in an effective demonstration of greed. As partners at leading law firms they would be highly compensated. The “protectors from greed” sold themselves to the highest bidder, all under the trusting gaze of an unaware public. The door meant to separate and maintain a balance between the public and the private sectors revolves efficiently and profitably.

It is important to understand context of the time and the prevailing mood of the country in October 2009 when I was arrested.  In 2008 we had seen the near collapse of the financial system and the wiping out of trillions of dollars of home equity and life savings of the American middle class. The government was forced to bail out the major banks. Mortgages that were bundled up or securitized and sold by banks had contributed to the crisis. Millions of American homes went into foreclosure.  Institutions such as Lehman Brother, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, AIG and Freddie Mac either filed for bankruptcy or lost over 90% of their market value. An estimated $7 trillion in US household assets were wiped out. And to add to the catastrophe, in late 2008, Bernie Maddoff admitted to running the largest Ponzi scheme under the very eyes of the regulators. Politicians and the public placed the blame squarely on Wall Street. The pubic was clamoring for blood and there was no blood forthcoming. From anywhere.

I had nothing to do with the housing crisis. I was an easy target for politicians, for prosecutors, for pundits, and for Bharara who had just been handed leadership of the Southern District of NY including a mandate for bringing Wall Street under control. I was a successful and expendable hedge fund manager who employed just 250 people. We obtained an overwhelming amount of information on a daily basis and my trading was 100% consistent with the written recommendations of my analysts. In ALL cases, I had a pre-existing position in the stock before allegedly receiving the “tip.”  In 2009 and even today, insider trading laws are murky at best and often (intentionally) misinterpreted by prosecutors. The government painted our systematic, well-researched investing as being criminal. Theirs was an overreach of enormous proportions to show that “Wall Street fat cats” were being brought to justice. If I am guilty, then the entire investment business should be declared illegal.

As the Wall Street Journal noted insightfully, “Under standard rhetoric, the public is somehow cheated by all this, but the standard rhetoric is nonsense. The public isn’t damaged because another party wants to sell or buy (and most hedge funds strive to make sure their trading doesn’t affect prices anyway).  But a cynic might note one thing: insider-trading law provides a bottomless reservoir of (supposed) financial ‘crime’ for Washington to investigate whenever it needs a Wall Street prosecution to flounce in front of the press.”  [Endnote 1]

As a child, having gone to boarding school in a foreign country at the age of eleven, I learned quickly and early to be a fighter, a scrapper. This is a blessing and a curse. Over the years, I have learned that you don’t always have to fight. The kindness of many people has defanged and disarmed me to a large extent. However, when people try to take advantage of me, I have to respond. I don’t back down. And I am fortunate to have been blessed with the mental fortitude and financial resources to fight for my innocence. Too many people do not. They plead guilty to indictments they cannot challenge.  In my experience about 10% of the inmates at the prison in which I spent seven-and-a-half years were innocent.

When I was researching the Justice Department while in prison, I came across a paragraph that struck a chord in me. Unfortunately, I did not write down the name of the author or the source. “Criminal punishment is the greatest power that governments use and wield against their own people. When employed justly and appropriately, it is vital to any safe and productive society.  But when employed aggressively based on vague laws and personal agendas the criminal justice system unnecessarily destroys lives, livelihoods, and families.”

Oddly, my experience of the law has left me without rage or a sense of victimhood. While I would never say I am grateful for the experience, I can say with confidence that I like myself better because of it. When I finally broke through the wall of despair, I realized I had gained a sense of peace and awareness that had opened me up and cracked me free.  I realized how incredibly strong the human mind is and that nothing can beat a person who refuses to be beaten.

Finally, I want to say that despite what happened to me as a result of a corrupt prosecutor, I love this country just as much as I did before I went to prison. I feel truly blessed to be one of the 5% of the world population who live in America. I do not see people lined up to emigrate to China, Russia, or Japan, for example.

As I reflect on my circumstances and my past, if God had arrived at my doorstep when I was 11 – with a crystal ball — and told me, “Raj, I will give you the wife and children you see here, these friends, and ensure that both your parents live long and happily and give you also the ability to help the less fortunate — But you need to sacrifice about seven years of your life,” I would have taken that deal in a New York second.

I feel very fortunate.

I am very fortunate.

Raj Rajaratnam

February 2021



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Features

Why Small Farms will be the backbone of food security

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The ecological axiom that: ‘Energy flow through a system tends to organise and simplify that system’, is abundantly clear in agriculture. As farms moved from small interdependent units, bounded by fences and hedgerows, to large cropping fields to accommodate machine management, we lose the biodiversity that once existed on that landscape and the biomass that provided the Ecosystem Services. This sacrifice was rationalised through the invocation of economic profit. The economic ‘profit’ gained by subsidies on fossil fuel and uncontrolled extraction from the Global Commons. The ‘development’ of agriculture has become a race to control the commodity market. The farmer ceased to be a feature of the farm. In a telling statement, the farmers of Sri Lanka sent the following statement to the CGIAR in 1998 :

‘We, the farmers of Sri Lanka would like to further thank the CGIAR, for taking an interest in us. We believe that we speak for all of our brothers and sisters the world over when we identify ourselves as a community who are integrally tied to the success of ensuring global food security. In fact it is our community who have contributed to the possibility of food security in every country since mankind evolved from a hunter-gather existence. We have watched for many years, as the progression of experts, scientists and development agents passed through our communities with some or another facet of the modern scientific world. We confess that at the start we were unsophisticated in matters of the outside world and welcomed this input. We followed advice and we planted as we were instructed. The result was a loss of the varieties of seeds that we carried with us through history, often spanning three or more millennia. The result was the complete dependence of high input crops that robbed us of crop independence. In addition, we farmers producers of food, respected for our ability to feed populations, were turned into the poisoners of land and living things, including fellow human beings. The result in Sri Lanka is that we suffer from social and cultural dislocation and suffer the highest pesticide- related death toll on the planet. Was this the legacy that you the agricultural scientists wanted to bring to us ? We think not. We think that you had good motives and intentions, but left things in the hands of narrowly educated, insensitive people.’

The diverse farm had to yield to production monoculture, which was made possible through the burning of fossil fuels. Ironically the burning of fossil fuels is the major reason for the current destabilised climate and threat to agriculture. One consequence of climate change is the predicted rise in global temperatures. If ambient temperatures exceed 40 degrees , which has become the reality in many places even today, food production will be compromised. All the food we eat originates with plants and plants produce using photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, or the capture of solar energy by plants, is done with chlorophyll, the thing that makes plants green and chlorophyll begins to break down after 40 degrees. Landscapes whose summer temperatures go beyond this limit will have smaller and smaller crops as the temperatures increase. The only solution to this oncoming crisis, is to begin introducing trees at strategic points on the landscape.

Trees and all other forms of vegetation cool the environment around them through the transpiration process, which takes place in the leaves. The water absorbed by the roots is sent up to the leaves which release it as vapor, cooling the air around it. Measurements on trees done by research institutions worldwide, indicate that an average large tree produces the cooling equivalent of eight room sized air conditioners running for 10 hours, a cooling yield 0f 1,250,000 Bthu per day. Plantations of trees have been recoded to have daytime temperatures at least 3 degrees below the ambient. This is an important aspect of Ecosystem Services that needs to be considered for adaptive agriculture.

Small farms which produce food with low external energy and maintain high biomass and biodiversity, are the models of food production that can face the climate compromised future before us. Capital, resource and energy expensive agricultural systems could fail in a high temperature future and threaten global food security, we need options. One would be to encourage a consumption and distribution system that facilitates small farmers to enter the market. Another would be to realise the value of the ecosystem services of a farm and develop systems to measure and reward. We are all aware of the future before us. Now is not the time to stand blinking like a deer facing the headlights.

But placing trees in and around cropping areas becomes a problem in large cropping fields designed to accommodate machine management. The management of such trees and hedgerows requires needs that cannot be provided without human management. Agricultural landscapes will need management that will be adaptive to the changing climate. An example would be; small interdependent units bounded by fences and that increase biodiversity and the biomass while providing Ecosystem Services.

Investment in food security, should take climate change seriously. All new agricultural projects should address the heat thresholds of the planned crops. The Sri Lankan country statement at COP 21 stated that :

“We are aware that the optimum operating temperature of chlorophyll is at 37 deg C. In a warming world where temperatures will soar well above that, food production will be severely impacted.”

And that :

“We are aware that the critical Ecosystem services such as; production of Oxygen, sequestering of Carbon, water cycling and ambient cooling is carried out by the photosynthetic component of biomass. This is being lost at an exponential rate, due to the fact that these Ecosystem Services have not been valued, nor economically recognised.”

These statements cry out for the recognition of the role that small farms will have to play in the future. In a temperature compromised future, small farms with high standing biomass, through their cooler temperatures will continue to produce food in heat stressed periods. If such Ecosystem Services can be given a value, it will strengthen the economy of small farms and ensure local, sustainable food production into the future.

Small farms which produce food with low external energy and maintain high biomass and biodiversity, are the models of food production that can face the climate compromised future before us. Capital, resource and energy expensive agricultural systems could fail in a high temperature future and threaten global food security, we need options. One would be to encourage a consumption and distribution system that facilitates small farmers to enter the market. Another would be to realize the value of the ecosystem services of a farm and develop systems to measure and reward. We are all aware of the future before us. Now is not the time to stand blinking like a deer in sheadlights.

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Encouraging signs, indeed!

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Derek and Manilal

Local entertainers can now breathe a sigh of relief…as the showbiz scene is showing signs of improving

Yes, it’s good to see Manilal Perera, the legendary singer, and Derek Wikramanayake, teaming up, as a duo, to oblige music lovers…during this pandemic era.

They will be seen in action, every Friday, at the Irish Pub, and on Sundays at the Cinnamon Grand Lobby.

The Irish Pub scene will be from 7.00 pm onwards, while at the Cinnamon Grand Lobby, action will also be from 7.00 pm onwards.

On November 1st, they are scheduled to do the roof top (25th floor) of the Movenpik hotel, in Colpetty, and, thereafter, at the same venue, every Saturday evening.

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Constructive dialogue beyond international community

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by Jehan Perera

Even as the country appears to be getting embroiled in more and more conflict, internally, where dialogue has broken down or not taken place at all, there has been the appearance of success, internationally. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be leading a delegation this week to Scotland to attend the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Both the President, at the UN General Assembly in New York, and Foreign Minister Prof G L Peiris, at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva seem to have made positive impacts on their audiences and, especially amongst the diplomatic community, with speeches that gave importance to national reconciliation, based on dialogue and international norms.

In a recent interview to the media Prof Peiris affirmed the value of dialogue in rebuilding international relations that have soured. He said, “The core message is that we believe in engagement at all times. There may be areas of disagreement from time to time. That is natural in bilateral relations, but our effort should always be to ascertain the areas of consensus and agreement. There are always areas where we could collaborate to the mutual advantage of both countries. And even if there are reservations with regard to particular methods, there are still abundant opportunities that are available for the enhancement of trade relations for investment opportunities, tourism, all of this. And I think this is succeeding because we are establishing a rapport and there is reciprocity. Countries are reaching out to us.”

Prof Peiris also said that upon his return from London, the President would engage in talks locally with opposition parties, the TNA and NGOs. He spoke positively about this dialogue, saying “The NGOs can certainly make a contribution. We like to benefit from their ideas. We will speak to opposition political parties. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is going to meet the Tamil National Alliance on his return from COP26, which we will attend at the invitation of the British Prime Minister. So be it the NGO community or the foreign diaspora or the parliamentary opposition in Sri Lanka. We want to engage with all of them and that is very much the way forward”

INTERNAL FRAGMENTATION

The concept of a whole-of-government approach is indicative of a more cohesive approach to governance by government ministries, the public administration and state apparatus in general to deal with problems. It suggests that the government should not be acting in one way with the international community and another way with the national community when it seeks to resolve problems. It is consistency that builds trust and the international community will trust the government to the extent that the national community trusts it. Dialogue may slow down decision making at a time when the country is facing major problems and is in a hurry to overcome them. However, the failure to engage in dialogue can cause further delays due to misunderstanding and a refusal to cooperate by those who are being sidelined.

There are signs of fragmentation within the government as a result of failure to dialogue within it. A senior minister, Susil Premajayantha, has been openly critical of the ongoing constitutional reform process. He has compared it to the past process undertaken by the previous government in which there was consultations at multiple levels. There is a need to change the present constitutional framework which is overly centralised and unsuitable to a multi ethnic, multi religious and plural society. More than four decades have passed since the present constitution was enacted. But the two major attempts that were made in the period 1997-2000 and again in 2016-2019 failed.

President Rajapaksa, who has confidence in his ability to stick to his goals despite all obstacles, has announced that a new constitution will be in place next year. The President is well situated to obtain success in his endeavours but he needs to be take the rest of his government along with him. Apart from being determined to achieve his goals, the President has won the trust of most people, and continues to have it, though it is getting eroded by the multiple problems that are facing the country and not seeing a resolution. The teachers’ strike, which is affecting hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, is now in its fourth month, with no sign of resolution. The crisis over the halting of the import of chemical fertiliser is undermining the position of farmers and consumers at the present time.

EARLY WARNING

An immediate cause for the complaints against the government is the lack of dialogue and consultation on all the burning issues that confront the country. This problem is accentuated by the appointment of persons with military experience to decision-making positions. The ethos of the military is to take decisions fast and to issue orders which have to be carried out by subordinates. The President’s early assertion that his spoken words should be taken as written circulars reflects this ethos. However, democratic governance is about getting the views of the people who are not subordinates but equals. When Minister Premajayantha lamented that he did not know about the direction of constitutional change, he was not alone as neither does the general public or academicians which is evidenced by the complete absence of discussion on the subject in the mass media.

The past two attempts at constitutional reform focused on the resolution of the ethnic conflict and assuaging the discontent of the ethnic and religious minorities. The constitutional change of 1997-2000 was for the purpose of providing a political solution that could end the war. The constitutional change of 2016-19 was to ensure that a war should not happen again. Constitutional reform is important to people as they believe that it will impact on how they are governed, their place within society and their equality as citizens. The ethnic and religious minorities will tend to prefer decentralised government as it will give them more power in those parts of the country in which they are predominant. On the other hand, that very fact can cause apprehension in the minds of the ethnic and religious majority that their place in the country will be undermined.

Unless the general public is brought aboard on the issue of constitutional change, it is unlikely they will support it. We all need to know what the main purpose of the proposed constitutional reform is. If the confidence of the different ethnic and religious communities is not obtained, the political support for constitutional change will also not be forthcoming as politicians tend to stand for causes that win them votes. Minister Premajayantha has usefully lit an early warning light when he said that politicians are not like lamp posts to agree to anything that the government puts before them. Even though the government has a 2/3 majority, this cannot be taken for granted. There needs to be buy in for constitutional reform from elected politicians and the general public, both from the majority community and minorities, if President Rajapaksa is to succeed where previous leaders failed.

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