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The rise of ‘Hoo Keliya’ by the people

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Crackers did burst, and rockets did fly with blasts. As the old year folded up, the fireworks continued. Were some of the louder blasts from gas cylinders? Who knows, with no legal action taken against those gas-blast dealers so far. The law can wait till they draw in all the crooked profits.

As the cracker and rocket blasts fade away, we are moving into a new sound of the public. It is the rise of the ‘Hoova’ time. We saw it first at Hambantota. Were the people giving the government politician a lesson on what people of power must expect in the coming months, and years.

It is the ‘Hoo Keliya’ that is rapidly sweeping the political landscape. Several politicians, of government strength and power have had to face the ‘Hoo Keliya” at supermarkets, busy junctions, and even when they tried returning to their electorates. Many of them are so sad at being hooted even when they did not join their fellow politicos to fly abroad for the festive season.

The long queues to get essential goods, such as gas, kerosene, and milk are the stuff of Rajapaksa governance. Such queues should certainly not lead to any hooting, even if you are spending a long time lined up for milk.

That is the stuff of Gotabaya Governance. No hooting. Just keep waiting. The Police will even be so kind as to get the trader involved to have two counters for the sale of ‘short supply’ goods. This will be the Mirihana – Gotabaya Thinking on handling the spreading of the queue system of Pohottuva politics.

A simple question to ask the Police that issued a statement explaining the Mirihana issue (hoo keliya carefully ignored), why they do not intervene to bring the Mirihana – Gotabaya Thinking to other places, too. Why don’t they tell the gas dealers at so many places to have two or even four counters open to shorten the queue?

Similarly, why don’t they move swiftly to shorten the many other queues for kerosene, and the milk powder for kids, too?

Will that need too many police personnel or is such thinking beyond the mind of a Senior DIG, so good at telling that it was not leaking gas cylinders, but bad cookers, which led to so many blasts and at least three deaths, too.

We are certainly moving to a whole new phase in the governance of Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister has to fly in a friend’s private plane to the Tirupati shrine in India to seek the blessings and miraculous action of one or more gods, to give divine power for Gota – Governance. Just forget that Sri Lanka remains a Sinhala Buddhist country, and be embraced to Hindu Divine politics.

Are there any other deities, spirits or even demons of power, who will help our economy to rise, and move away from the International Monetary Fund IMF? Do we have the blessings or curses of these spiritual forces to believe that our foreign reserves have risen to US$ 3.1 billion, as said by Central Bank Governor Cabraal?

Is it the force of spirits that makes Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara ask why they should leave this government that they formed? Are the ears of Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Vasudeva Nanayakkara shut tight to the voice of President Gotabaya, that they should leave the Cabinet?

This Pohottuva government has certainly brought us through so much trouble in the last two years, as well as so much belief in sorcery, witchcraft and hoodoo oils and crooked cures for Covid 19. It has certainly earned the ‘Hoo Keliya’ from the people, the masses who are made to suffer, from bad to worse as each day passes.

The New Year that dawns today has certainly given cause for the ‘Hoo Keliya’ that is fast striking the power players of the Pohottuva.

Will we see a wider spread of this ‘Hoo Keliya’ as Gotabaya / Basil move on, cheating the people of all aspects of good governance?

This ‘Hoo Keliya’ is the sound of the New Year, and is moving on to be the roar of the people. Happy Hoo Keliya to you all!



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Opinion

Priority need to focus on Controlling Serious Economic Crimes

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Open letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Ministry of Defence has advertised five vacancies for the “Recruitment as Reserve Assistant Superintendents of Police to the Ministry of Defence, affiliated to the Sri Lanka Police, skilled professionals to become proud members of the Ministry of Defence, dedicated to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka as well as to public safety and to play a superior role for the nation. These recruits will function as Cyber and Forensic Analyst, Geo-Political and Strategic Analyst, Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism Analyst, Economic Analyst and Statistical Analyst (the last two covering security perspectives regarding national security)”. Any justified decision to strengthen the knowledge and skills based professional capability of existing human resource of the state is a welcome move, so long as the recruits have in addition to the specified qualifications, requisite commitments to best practice professional standards, ethics, correct attitudes and values.

The caring civil society fervently hopes, in accord with your stated commitments in the manifesto and the several public pronouncements that followed your election as the President, that you, with the support of your Cabinet colleagues and the top officials of the executive, will similarly focus on the essential priority need to focus on controlling serious economic crimes, which can easily debilitate the financial integrity, fiscal and monetary stability and solvency of Sri Lanka; and if allowed unabated will destabilise the economy and prevent the realisation of the goals of splendour and prosperity.

The optimum operational environment to assure financial integrity minimizing serious economic crimes is by having effective laws, regulations, policies, systems, procedures, practices and controls, with efficient and effective independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions, followed by independent justice systems with penal sanctions and recovery of proceeds of crime. The critical drivers of such a system are independence, capability and professionalism of supporting human resources in the entire chain. It is however quite evident from many case studies that the systems controlling financial integrity of Sri Lanka fails to meet required standards of effectiveness, due mainly to the lack of competent and committed professionals in the chain engaged in independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions. Due to this incapacity the independent oversight control, enforcement, investigation, prosecution and punishment of offenders of money laundering, transfer pricing, securities offenses, bribery, corruption, financial fraud, organised crimes, drug trafficking, smuggling, and avoidance of taxes/ excise and customs duties are ineffective; and more importantly the recovery of proceeds of these crimes eventually fail and are thus unable to restore the state revenues leaked and state assets stolen or defrauded.

Civil society looks to you as the President, to take early action to strengthen the structures, systems, laws and regulations along with the capacity of the resource persons engaged in the independent oversight control and enforcement of mechanisms; and thereby minimise serious economic crimes system wide and facilitate successful recovery of proceeds of crime. In the above context it is suggested that you pursue the undernoted strategic action steps under your direct leadership supervision:

* Seek Cabinet approval to set up an Enforcement Directorate similar to that of India under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police, reporting to an Independent Public Commission made up of three members, comprising of a high integrity competent retired Appellate Court Judge, a retired Senior Officer of the Auditor General’s Department and a retired Senior Officer of the Central Bank.

* Enforcement Directorate to be entrusted with the mission of minimizing the identified serious economic crimes systems wide; enhancing oversight mechanism and controls system wide and where suspected that any such crimes having taken place professionally investigating and prosecuting, optimizing recovery of proceeds of crime

* Seek technical support in setting up the Enforcement Directorate from the Financial Integrity Unit of the World Bank and its affiliates Financial Action Task Force, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative with extended human resource training and development support from bi lateral supporting countries and other specialized agencies

* Recruit competent and highly professional staff for the Directorate, similar to the staff recruited to the Defence Ministry; and support them with requisite resources, knowledge, skills, systems, data bases, best practices and technical and investigation assistance linkages

* Enact essential legal and regulatory reforms, commencing with the early enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act draft sent to the previous regime for cabinet endorsement

* Enhance the capability of the prosecutors of the Directorate to successfully prosecute serious economic crimes and judges to effectively support the judicial processes connected therewith

* Make it a compulsory requirement of all state remunerated persons to adopt the ethical standard to report to the Directorate any known or suspected non compliances with laws and regulations

Trust you and your advisory team will give due consideration to this submission

Chandra Jayaratne

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Opinion

S.Thomas’ Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group celebrates 60 years Nexus

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By Rohan Mathes

Once again the old boys of the Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group fraternity of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia gathered last Saturday (22nd), under one banner to celebrate their 60 th anniversary of their association and loyalties with their prestigious Alma Mater, long way down from 1962, whence they were admitted to the school by the sea.

This rendezvous was of paramount importance to the membership near and far, inclusive of those domiciled overseas, who had turned up in their numbers to enjoy the long-awaited fellowship, with their comrades, despite the prevailing Covid pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, those who could not make it, had been amply served by the provision of a Zoom link. Kudos to the organisers who had painstakingly and meticulously planned all the nitty-gritties of this epoch-making celebrations, however with less pomp and pageantry, compared to their fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2012.

Following the service at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, the Thomians spend the day within the precincts of this hallowed institution which had undoubtedly imparted a unique, state-of the-art and wholesome education to them. They took this rather rare opportunity to joyfully tour around their old school, of course reminiscing their nostalgic memories of their childhood. They were simply overjoyed by viewing the latest developments and modifications done by the school authorities, utilising the charitable donations and contributions made by the old boys, parents and well-wishers of the school, in numerous ways, throughout the years gone by.

At this event, the Group also assisted the college in their project to install “Smart Boards to every class room”, by handing over a cheque to the Sub Warden Asanka Perera, to the value of Rs.400,000, collected from its membership. Esto Perpetua!

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Opinion

Why cry for Djokovic – a reply

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I strongly object to the remark Dr Upul Wijayawardhana (Dr U W) made in the first paragraph of his Opinion, in The Island of Saturday 22 January, titled  ’Why Cry for Djokovic?’ critiquing Cassandra in her Friday 21 Cassandra Cry.

Dr U W writes: “Cassandra uses her column liberally to criticise our politicians for giving special treatment to their kith and kin.” I, Cassandra, have two reasons to object to this damning statement. I have never criticised politicians for “giving special treatment to their kith and kin”. I have criticised politicians on various other issues such as what they have done, but not on this particular accusation. Hence Dr UW deliberately, or carried away by his writing eloquence, placed me in danger of reprisal. Such is not done.

Please read me in Cassandra Cry on Friday January 28, where this matter, and some others  the doctor has written regards Cassandra will be refuted,

CASSANDRA

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