Category Archives: democratic measures

Momentous Changes in Ceylon instituted by the Donoughmore Commisison

Leelananda de Silva, in Sunday Times, 5 July 2020

The Donoughmore Commission which came to Sri Lanka in the late 1920s made far reaching and far seeing recommendations, which changed the political, economic and social landscape of Ceylon. The present generation is largely unaware of its role and it is time that they refresh their understanding of the tremendous changes brought in by Donoughmore.

The Earl of Donoughmore

It was a commission consisting of three Britons — the Earl of Donoughmore, Drummond Shields and Burrows. They were political personalities well known in Britain at the time and were not colonial civil servants. They had the political and social vision to overcome the objections of both the colonial masters in Sri Lanka and the local dominant political personalities who were also not in favour of radical reforms.

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Free Education for Ceylon: Tales Missing

Prabhath de Silva, in Island, 11 July 2020, where the title is “Unsung And Forgotten Heroes of Free Education and Sri Lanka’s Missed Opportunities”

Much has been said and written about Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara for his role in the introduction of the Free Education Bill in the State Council (Sri Lanka’s legislature under the Donoughmore Constitution from 1931 to 1947) and implementation of the free education policy here. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to him but there are other unsung and forgotten heroes behind this story.

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Achtung! Whiffs of Tiger Militarism and Tamil Federalism in Recent Talk and Action

ONE: Camelia Nathaniel, in Daily News, 9 July 2020, which carries this title Resurrection of LTTE’s Agenda of Violence”

The LTTE network overseas has been planning a series of attacks in Sri Lanka since the war ended in May 2009. The latest attempt to disrupt peace and stability in Sri Lanka was on July 4, 2020. A former member of the Tamil Tigers Thangarajah Thevathashan was preparing to conduct a bombing to mark the Black Tigers Day. The foreign handlers knew Thangarajah Thevathashan by his LTTE name Gangai Athman alias Kavinjan. He was serving in the LTTE Intelligence wing, notorious for the assassinations of several leaders including the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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The Threads of Intolerance within Contemporary Liberal/Radical Fervour

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate …. Harpers’ Magazine, July 7, 2020 ……………..
……… The letter below  will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

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Sybil Wettasinghe, Children’s Story Writer Par Excellence

An ADA DERANA Encomium, 1 July 2020, with this title “Sybil Wettasinghe passes away

Veteran author and illustrator of children’s books Sybil Wettasinghe, fondly known as ‘Sybil Nanda’ in Sri Lanka, has passed away at the age of 93.According to family sources, she had been receiving medical treatment at a private hospital in Colombo for the past 4 days and had passed away at around 11.00 p.m. last night (30).

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An Epitaph for Martin Luther King and Memphis Today –when Black Lives Matter

Jane Russell, reviewing Stuart Cosgrove Memphis 68:  The Tragedy of Southern Soul,” Polygon Press Oct. 2017

This book is the middle section of a critically acclaimed sixties ‘soul’ trilogy by Australian-Scot Stuart Cosgrove, award winning broadcaster for Channel 4 and long-time writer for UK music media, Echoes and New Musical Express.  It follows on from Detroit 67: The Year that Changed Soul and anticipates the forthcoming Harlem 69: The Future of Soul (October 2018).

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Imbalanced Task Forces in Sri Lanka?

Jehan Perera, in Island, 30 June 2020, with this title “The Need For Better Representation In Divided Societies”

There has been a trend of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making senior appointments in which those who are outside the established administrative systems are being brought in to provide leadership and ensure effective and non-corrupt practices.  As a large number of these appointments have been from the security forces this has given rise to a perception that the country is heading towards eventual military rule. There is a concern that the forthcoming general elections will be followed by constitutional changes that will entrench the military in governance as in some other countries such as Myanmar. This is unlikely to be the case in Sri Lanka as democratic traditions upholding civilian control of government are deeply ingrained in the fabric of political society.

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Unusual Tales From Hampshire and Anuradhapura: Where Colour does not bar Popular Vote

Prabhath de Silva, in The Island, 25 June 2020, where the title reads “Lessons from Ranil Jayawardene and Herbert Freeman”


Mr. Ranil Jayawardene is Britain’s new Trade Minister. He is only 35 years old. His father is a Sinhalese who had migrated to the UK, and his mother an Indian. He was born and bred in England. He graduated from the London School of Economics in 2008. Seven years later, in 2015, he was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Hampshire in May 2015 from a predominantly white electorate [80.5%] in which the non-white population is at 19.5%. The whites of North East Hampshire could rise above their ethnicity and colour to vote for a son of South Asian parents and give recognition to the policies he represented and his talents and skills. Hats off to the progressive British people! Congratulations to Mr. Ranil Jayawardene!

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Nigel Hatch’s Reading of the FR Petitions re The General Elections

Nigel Hatch, on 12 June 2020, deploying this title in his news feature “The Fundamental Rights Petitions Relating to The General Elections”

The five Judge Bench of the Supreme Court by its decision on June 2, 2020 speaking through its majority rejected the preliminary objections raised by the Respondents to the maintainability of the several Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions challenging the legality of the presidential proclamation of March 2 dissolving Parliament. A Petition impugning the date of elections fixed by the Elections Commission for June 20 was withdrawn midstream. However the Court unanimously refused the Petitioners leave to proceed with their FR applications.

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Smashing Statues: Issues of Sense and Sensibility … and Nonsence

Rihaab Mowlana, in Lifelk, 19 June 2020, where the title runs thus “Are We Erasing History?”

The statue of Thomas Jefferson, the founding father who also enslaved more than 600 people, was toppled in Oregon, while the statue of navigator and coloniser Christopher Columbus was ‘spray-painted, set on fire and thrown into a lake’. In England, the Statue of Edward Colston suffered a similar fate, resulting in ‘the boarding up of the Cenotaph in Whitehall and Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square’. In many parts of the world, the predicament will befall many such monuments.

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