Monthly Archives: January 2015

Art Buchwald Humor Awards for 2014

The eighth death anniversary of humorist Art Buchwald (1925-2007) falls on January 17th. And for this occasion, I also release the 6th consecutive list of news-making individuals in South Asia for 2014. This year, for realistic reasons, I have extended the chronological frame up to Jan.10, 2015. This is because, the recent Presidential election was… Read more »

Artful Democracy

by Nimmi Gowrinathan, ‘Outlook India,’ January 26, 2015 As the old guard in Sri Lanka was dramatically toppled in the recent presidential elections, best wishes were offered not only to the opponent, Maithripala Sirisena, but to a hopefully imminent resuscitation of a suffocated democracy. For nearly a decade, former president Rajapaksa had steadily strengthened his… Read more »

Presidential Election in Maps

Full article at   District Area #My3 #MR Other Total #My3 % MR% MS Margin MR Margin MS Kalutara District Non N&E 349,404 395,890 6,690 751,984 46% 53% -4% 3% Galle District Non N&E 293,994 377,126 6,691 677,811 43% 56% -7% 6% Matara District Non N&E 212,435 297,823 4,892 515,150 41% 58% -9% 8%… Read more »

A Step Forward for Sri Lanka

It’s being called the most significant election in Sri Lanka in decades. On Jan. 8, voters gave a surprise victory to the opposition candidate for president, Maithripala Sirisena, and rejected the authoritarianism, corruption and dynastic ambitions of the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is to Mr. Rajapaksa’s great credit that, as soon as the people’s verdict… Read more »

An Unexpected Change of Power in Sri Lanka

‘Washington Post’ editorial, January 14, 2014 SRI LANKAN President Mahinda Rajapaksa considered himself a shoo-in to win an unprecedented third term when he called an early election in November, and with some reason: He had presided over both victory in a 26-year-long civil war with Tamil insurgents and surging economic growth of 7 percent a… Read more »

Look Back to Move Forward

by Jared Genser, ‘The Diplomat,’ January 15, 2015 This week, Sri Lankans welcome their first new president in a decade. In an election called two years ahead of schedule, surprise incumbent challenger and former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena narrowly, albeit impressively, defeated outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But while the face of Sri Lankan politics… Read more »

Can the ‘Unknown Angel’ Deliver?

by Eric Solheim, ‘The Hindu,’ Chennai, January 15, 2015 Anyone who two months back bet on Maithripala Sirisena winning the presidential election in Sri Lanka would be a millionaire. Most international experts expected former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to win and strengthen his family rule. He controlled the resources of the state to fund his… Read more »

Pongalo Pongal 2015

பொங்கலோ பொங்கல்         பாடு வோம் பாடு வோம் பாட்டுப் பாடு வோம் ஆடு வோம் ஆடு வோம் ஆட்டம் ஆடு வோம்   புதுப் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் தமிழ்ப் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் தைப் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் தைதைப் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல்   சக்திதரும் சூரியனின் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் பச்சரிசி அச்சுவெல்லம் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் மஞ்சள்கொத்துப் பானையிலே பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் இஞ்சிக்கொத்துப் பானையிலே பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் புதுப் பொங்கலோ பொங்கல்……. பாடு வோம் பாடு… Read more »

Hold the Champagne in Sri Lanka

by J S Tissainayagam, ‘Foreign Policy,’ Washington, DC, January 13, 2015 Sri Lanka held a relatively peaceful presidential election on Jan. 8, followed by a stunningly smooth transfer of power. While some reports allege that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa attempted to cling to power by staging a coup, the police and Army refused to back… Read more »

Not A Victory For Sri Lanka’s Tamils

The defeat of former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recently concluded Sri Lankan presidential election was clearly unexpected. But it is unlikely to usher in the kind of changes desired by those who did the most to ensure his victory—the island’s indigenous Tamil and Muslim communities that constitute 11.2 percent and 9.7 percent of the… Read more »

An Unknown Angel

Certainly he is not an obvious representative of minority rights. He defected from Mr Rajapaksa’s government only in November… He was acting as defence minister in the final weeks of the war in 2009, and has said that, as president, he would ensure that Mr Rajapaksa and the army do not face war-crimes charges…

So he offers a different brand of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, not its repudiation.

New Crossroad?

If Sirisena’s promise of a new dawn is to have any meaning, this must end. The point was made yet again last week, by over a hundred war affected women and a number of women’s groups who called on the new president to prioritise demilitarisation. However, Sirisena’s assurances to the Buddhist clergy – also echoed by newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe – that the Tamil areas will remain under tight security, do not augur well.

Sri Lanka’s Surprise Political Transition

Sri Lanka went to the polls on Thursday in a historic election. For the first time since the island became independent in 1948, an incumbent president was voted out of office. Early Friday, bleary-eyed from a night spent flipping between news networks or frantically refreshing Twitter, Sri Lankans struggled to assimilate the news that President… Read more »

President Mahinda Rajapaksa – a Victim of King Kavan Tissa’s Curse

Sri Lankan pundits, Indian pundits and international pundits will pull their hairs and come out with some arrant nonsense on why a confident President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the January 8th presidential election to his former pal and deserter Maithiripala Sirisena. I have no doubt that all will ignore the black curse of King Kavan Tissa… Read more »

Democracy Wins in Sri Lanka

Most importantly, the new dispensation must waste no time in addressing the Tamil demand for a just peace, because on this hinges the future of the country itself.

A New Sri Lanka

An urgent challenge for Sirisena is to address the concerns and anxieties of the minorities who have been at the receiving end of the rising tide of Sinhala and Buddhist nationalism… Now he needs to step in and lay out an agenda of administrative and political action. It is necessary for Sirisena to re-imagine Sri Lanka as a multi- ethnic and religious nation and bury the Rajapaksa legacy, which saw the state as a custodian of majoritarian interests. That, and a critical assessment of the Chinese involvement in Sri Lankan affairs as offered by the UNP, would also help Sirisena take Colombo’s ties with New Delhi to a higher level…

Although Sirisena has won strong backing from the Tamil minority in the election, he may not necessarily find it easy to address India’s concerns, given his need to maintain support from the majority Sinhala community.

Challenger Sirisena Elected Sri Lanka’s New President

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was sworn into office Friday and vowed to curtail the powers amassed by his predecessor, who was swept aside in a stunning election upset. Sirisena, a longtime political insider — and an ally of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa until just a few weeks ago —… Read more »

TNA Congratulates Maithri

Extending its ‘warmest congratulations’ to President-Elect Maithripala Sirisena, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said it was essential to resolve the national question urgently while tackling the grave matters that face the country. TNA leader R. Samanthan said in a statement that his party extended its sincere thanks to all Sri Lankans especially those in the… Read more »

US Secretary of State Statement on Election

Conclusion of Sri Lankan Elections and Election of Maithripala Sirisena Press Statement John KerrySecretary of State Washington, DC January 8, 2015 Share on twitter The Sri Lankan people deserve great credit on the successful conclusion of their elections. They turned out in great numbers to exercise their democratic rights and every vote was a victory… Read more »