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Tougher laws called for to halt maligning of female candidates in social media

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… sexual misconduct insinuated to scare them off

Text and pix by PRIYAN DE SILVA

Former member of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Prof. Rathnajeevan Hoole said that tight laws were needed to curb maligning of women in social media, or no woman would come forward and contest an election. He added that accusing female candidates of sexual misconduct was a terrible thing.

Hoole said such baseless allegations had been levelled against female candidates in the Eastern Province, and TNA National List candidate Ambika Sathkunanathan had also been a victim. 

The victims of libel could not resort to legal action due to the cost factor, Prof. Hoole said, suggesting that the parties they represent come forward to have the culprits brought to justice. Mangaleshwari Shankar who possibly led the popularity ratings among the females in the Batticaloa District of the Eastern Province, nominated to contest the 2020 parliamentary election, said it was not easy for women to engage in politics.

“It is terrible” she said, noting that even months after the election there were attacks on her in social media.

A lawyer by profession Mangalaeshwari, better known as Mangala Shankar, is a human rights activist, a former Legal Manager at Transparency International Sri Lanka; she also worked for the Centre for Human Rights Development (CHRD) and at present is a visiting lecturer at the Open University of Sri Lanka. She also worked extensively with women’s organisations  in the district, and this prompted her to take to politics. She made her intention known to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which did not show any interest, but a few days before nominations closed she was invited by all the main parties including the TNA to contest.

 She opted to accept the invitation of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai  Pluvial (TMVP), even though it was not the most popular party. Thereafter, a smear campaign was launched against her.

  “In early July a fake Facebook page in my name was created by someone and  initially it  duplicated the posts on my actual Facebook page but later on posts appeared  defaming other candidates.

 “Everyone thought, I was behind those attacks, and I complained to the Police, the Elections Commission, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and subsequently to Facebook itself, she said. The page was removed by Facebook in the first week of September but the damage had already been done. 

 She also said that there were hundreds of other social media accounts that posted insulting, humiliating and abusive posts in Tamil.

In Batticaloa, Mangala Shankar was not the only female candidate to be defamed in that manner. Senior Lecturer at the Eastern University Dr. Chandra Mahendran said that there had been a sinister campaign to prevent her from contesting. She had to overcome many obstacles even before she was able to sign the nomination papers.

Ambika Sathkunanathan was on the TNA National List. Baseless allegations were made against her, as well.



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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando

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by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment

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National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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