Category Archives: accountability

Mattala Airport in China’s Game-Plan

Brook Larmer,  courtesy of New York Times Magazine , 13 September 2017, where the title reads What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence”

   

The four-lane highway leading out of the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota gets so little traffic that it sometimes attracts more wild elephants than automobiles. The pachyderms are intelligent — they seem to use the road as a jungle shortcut — but not intelligent enough, alas, to appreciate the pun their course embodies: It links together a series of white elephants, i.e. boondoggles, built and financed by the Chinese. Beyond the lonely highway itself, there is a 35,000-seat cricket stadium, an almost vacant $1.5 billion deepwater port and, 16 miles inland, a $209 million jewel known as “the world’s emptiest international airport.”

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Ferment in Lanka’s Political Firmament: Three Tamil Voices — Philips, Moonesinghe and Somasundram

Rajan Philips:  “One more symbolic step: Wigneswaran’s audience with the Mahanayake Thera,” September 16, 2017

We need a break from the tedium, rather the opprobrium, of national corruption. To paraphrase Dr. Harsha de Silva’s public lamentation, the whole country is awash in corruption. The continuing non-promotion of people like Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremaratne to full cabinet rank shows the depth of cabinet entrenchment by the corrupt and the crooked and the extent of exclusion of the bright and the honest. The government leadership has a lot to answer for its cabinet choices even as it has a lot of explaining to do about its highway contract choices.

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US Congress has Sri Lanka in Its Gunsights

Daya Gamage,  courtesy of Asian Tribune, where the title runs thus U.S. Congress Tightens War Crimes Noose on Sri Lanka”

The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations last week approved the FY 2018 Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill with $51.35 billion for diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen U.S. national security and support American values abroad. Despite the Trump administration’s soft-peddling of American values abroad – democracy promotion, good governance, human rights, and rule of law etc. – the Senate Appropriations Bill, co-authored by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Patrick Leahy, independent of the White House budget proposals released last month, underscored policy iteration or ‘riders’ on Sri Lanka’s commitment to “increasing accountability and transparency in governance; supporting a credible justice mechanism in compliance with United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HCR/30/ L.29) of October, 2015”.

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A Crocodile kills British tourist Paul Maclean off East Coast

A Financial Times journalist was killed by a crocodile whilst washing his hands in a lagoon in Sri Lanka during a holiday with friends. Paul McClean, 24, an Oxford University graduate, is believed to have wandered off from friends in order to go to the toilet, before being ambushed by the reptile as he dipped his hands in the water. He is said to have been seen “waving his hands in the air” in desperation before being dragged under water at a lagoon known as Crocodile Rock, located just just minutes from a popular surfing beach.

Paul McClean, right, with his brother Neil on his graduation day in August 2015

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Experiencing Terror in the Heart of New York: 9/11

Palitha Kohona, courtesy of Ceylon Today

It was another sunny September morning. The sky was a brilliant blue. As I gazed out of my kitchen window while having breakfast, in Midtown Manhattan, the Twin Towers were glistening in the morning sun. I noted, as I often had, that they were still there, a familiar reassuring sight. The cute young blonde in the apartment across the street was drying her wet hair, as usual, by her plate glass window. The walk to the United Nations (UN) and my office on the 32nd floor of the Secretariat was uneventful.

Kent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic

“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compellingÑin fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”

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ELIYA launched as Challenge to the Present Lankan-US Dispensation

Shamindra Ferdinando, in The Island, 12 September 2017, with title “A challenging task for Gotabhaya”

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The high profile launch of Eliya (light) by wartime Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa underscored Sri Lanka’s PATHETIC failure to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations, directed by a section of the international community, since the conclusion of the war, in May 2009. Sri Lanka paid a very heavy price for its failure and the previous government can never absolve itself of the responsibility for the situation. Continue reading

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Shaping the Constitution: Several Voices, Discordant Scenarios

ONE = Editor, NewsIin Asia: “Political posturing unlikely to hamper Lanka’s constitution making process,” 12 Sept 2017

Forces which are eager to give the country a new constitution as per the pre-election promise solemnly made by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe, are confident that the competing parties would sink their differences and agree to the Steering Committee’s Interim Report which is to be submitted to the Constitutional Assembly (CA) on September 21. writes P.K.Balachandran in South Asian Monitor.

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