Category Archives: legal issues

Religious Dispensations and the Subordination of Women

Upul Wijayawardhana, courtesy of Daily News

The systematic suppression of women, persisting over centuries, has been legitimised, largely by religions and is an art-form mastered by ‘Men in Robes’. At the dawn of civilisation, women were considered superior for the simple reason that only they could produce an offspring for the continuation of the species. There is evidence to show that in Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of civilisation, if not ‘The Cradle of Civilisation’, there was equality. In the early Sumerian period, “a council of elders”, represented equally by men and women, ruled the population but gradually a patriarchal society emerged.

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Albert Namatjira emerges from the Copyright Dungeon

AAP-SBS News, October 2017,    where the title is Albert Namatjira’s copyright deal: Rewriting a historical wrong”

An injustice has been righted more than 30 years on with the family and clan of famed Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira recovering the copyright to his work.  A 15-minute phone call and the princely sum of $1 have resolved what has been the country’s longest copyright battle for the rights to the works of Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira. It is a victory for his family and clan who have been denied any rights or revenue from his work for more than 30 years, The Weekend Australian reported.

Namatjira, an Arrernte man from Central Australia, is recognised as Australia’s greatest indigenous painter and the first to work in the western tradition. He is best known for his watercolour paintings of the outback and created about 2000 artworks during his life.

**FILE** A Oct 19 2006 file photo of Albert Namatjira’s first painting is displayed at a Sotheby’s preview in Sydney. The auction of the Aboriginal art including Albert Namatjira’s first painting will be on in Melbourne today, Tuesday Oct. 31, 2006. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

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Reconciliation via Cricket and Charity? The Political Ground is a Waterlogged Minefield

Michael Roberts

It is possible that Velupillai Pirapaharan remains a revered leader and symbol of the nationalist drive for Thamililam among some Tamils residing within the island f Sri Lanka today – even though they are circumspect in expressing such thoughts in public. Indeed, it is possible that some Tamils in the island worship him as a deity in the manner espoused in some quarters abroad by Tamils of the diaspora (see image below).

So, how does one measure the political reverberations of the well-meaning efforts towards reconciliation and the bridging of the Tamil-Sinhala divide delineated in several essays presented recently[1] in THUPPAHI?

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The Devolution Debate: Indelible Facts

Gerald H. Peiris … an original article with emphasis in black being that of the author and that in blue being an imposition by The Editor, Thuppahi

 

Several articles by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke published in The Island during the past few days indicate that he is very definitely the most articulate and, arguably, the most “intermestic” exponent of the notion of the ’13th Amendment’ (implemented more comprehensively than at present with all powers and functions referred to in its Ninth Schedule vested on Provincial Councils – PCs) being the constitutional via media that would ensure stability, good governance and interethnic harmony. Dr DJ is no doubt aware that, following the misguided curtailment of Presidential powers through the 19th Amendment of the Constitution in 2015, alongside the practice of foreign agents including diplomatic personnel bypassing the Colombo government in their transactions with the ‘Northern PC’ emerging an unofficial ‘convention’ in Sri Lanka’s external relations, his prescription would actually entail the creation of a more autonomous network of PCs than envisioned at the promulgation of the 13th Amendment thirty years ago. Continue reading

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Streamline and Avoid Labyrinths in Making the SL Consitution

Chandre Dharmawardana, in The Island, September 2017, with title “Unit of Devolution – look in cyberspace!

It is interesting to read the debate about what the unit of devolution should be. Recent articles, by Dayan Jayatilleke (Island, Sep. 20, 2017) and Neville Ladduwahetty (Sep. 23, 2017) argue for the Province (DJ), and for the District (NL). Interestingly, both the TNA, and their counter organizations pay homage to “the indivisible nature of Sri Lanka”, the “Orumiththa Nadu” and the “aekeeya Rajya”, while also supporting “maximum devolution”, i.e., the opposite objective! In our view, the issue of power devolution to units of government is an obsolete question. However, we discuss them as usual and lastly look at the enormous technological possibilities that exist to leap frog into a system compatible with the 21st century.

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The Rohingya Issue: Bangladeshi Diplomat in Q and A with Ratnawalli

Darshanie Ratnawalli,  from The Island, 23 September 2017, where the title reads “The Rohingya future generations in danger of radicalization”

When the attractive and affable High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, called the editor of this newspaper to discuss the Rohingya issue, he was engaging with the people of Sri Lanka in a refreshing act of non-traditional diplomacy.  He was doing for Sri Lanka what the Kofi Annan Report was urging Myanmar and Bangladesh to do, engaging in “dialogue that promotes better mutual understanding, both at the level of the country’s leaders and people-to people ties” because “Myanmar and Bangladesh have different narratives on the challenges along their shared border. Despite the large numbers who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, the popular perception in Myanmar is that the problem is illegal immigration into Myanmar. There are also different historical narratives about the origin of communities and their population growth. These differences can only be narrowed by dialogue.”

 High Commissioner Riaz Hamidulla

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The Buddha’s Middle Path is the Route to Lanka’s Present Constitutional Dilemma

Dayan Jayatilleka in The Island, 25 September 2017, where the title is  “The ethnic issue: Fantasy vs. Reality. Response to Ladduwahetty and Hulugalle”

At a time when national borders are vanishing, the borders in our own mind need to be erased in the interests of serious inquiry and discussion.”—Mervyn de Silva, The Age of Identity, 1993

As in life, there are no guarantees in politics. One can only avoid the most obvious mistakes and cultivate the wisdom to manage things prudently. A Constitution cannot function as a prison house. Countries, like people, stay together because of consent and mutual agreement. The “stability” that both Ladduwahetty and Hulugalle crave, cannot be ensured by rigidity and unilateral imposition. The stability of the whole can be achieved only through dialogue and consensus, involving mutual compromise and concessions, between the component parts. That is surely the logic and spirit of the Social Contract. Continue reading

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