Category Archives: social justice

Facing Palihakkara: Foreign Judges on Homeland Soil?

Darshanie Ratnawallie in Daily Mirror, 13 June 2018, with the title reading “Diplomacy and Foreign Judges”

Could there be a keener pleasure than to sit around a fire and discuss diplomacy with a diplomat? Of course, there is no fire; just coffee, and that only in plastic cups, which nevertheless provides the fire, inside, instead of outside, but with the same cheering and relaxing power.

  
It’s after the coffee break at the ‘Education Institute’ and Ambassador Palihakkara has invited questions. “You said we cannot operate in isolation. But we have opposed the intervention of foreign judges in HR issues. As a diplomat how do you view this?” a student asks. Palihakkara makes it clear that he views it with disfavour, and concern and has no doubts that the same degree of disfavour would be forthcoming from every country, were such a thing suggested to them.    Continue reading

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GK Haththotuwagama and His Riveting Street Theatre

Extracts from the Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama Memorial Lecture delivered by Nihal Rajapakse at OPA Auditorium on the invitation of Richmond 60-70 Group.

Wikipedia describes Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama in the following manner. “He was a Sri Lankan playwright, director, actor, critic and educator. He is widely known as the father of modern street theatre. He is among the most influential directors of post independent Sri Lanka.”

 Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama … GK to us Galileans and to the occupants of Ramanathan Hall at Peradeniya in the late 1950s

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Professor Laksiri Jayasuriya: A Far-Reaching life in Sri Lanka and Australia, 1931-2018

Siri Gamage, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph

Emeritus Professor Laksiri Jayasuriya (Laksiri) who was Professor of Social Work and Social administration at the University of Western Australia passed away on April 20th 2018 in Perth. He was the founder of the sociology department at the University of Colombo and led an illustrious career in the Australian academia while contributing to government policy making processes in areas such as multiculturalism, ethnic affairs,migration and citizenship. He nurtured cohorts of students under his care during his long career in Australia and continued to engage in scholarly activities and publishing after retirement. Professor Jayasuriya leaves behind bellowed wife Rohini and two loving sons Kanishka and Pradeep – both professionals – one in the academia and the other in medical field. His death comes as a great loss to his academic colleagues, particularly in Australia and Sri Lanka.

Prof Laksiri Jayasuriya

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Profound Reflections: Jean Arasanayagam in Response to Smrti Daniel’s Searching Questions

Jean faces Smrti 

Daniel 1: What in your childhood contributed to the kind of writer you are now? What recurring motifs and images from that time find expression in your work?

JEAN1: So many factors. As I delve into my mind those images together with the diverse motifs that were part of each and every experience of my childhood. I was greatly loved and cared for by my parents and had aunts and uncles who played an important part in the lives of my brother and sister (I was the youngest) and showered us with gifts, especially books, from a very early age. My parents too read a great deal and the houses we lived in were full of books – of course the individual tastes of my parents were reflected in their reading choices. My father loved reading on everything under the sun, sport, Big Game, hunters and hunting, colonial history and landmark figures, discovery and exploration, plantations and the lives of planters in Ceylon (many of them were his friends), reminiscences, biographies, autobiographies, explorers, wars, the jungle lore of Ceylon … So much and so much, while my mother read a great deal of romantic fiction. She had a great store of memories too and would relate very adult stories to me (in between it was Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm Brothers, fairy tales, family history where she unfolded hidden narratives which penetrated my mind and which I have reconstructed into greater dimensions to trace our lineage and bloodlines – so everything, now that I look on it all, began in my childhood, as being the youngest I was closest to them while my brother was at College, and my sister too spent more time at school (Wesley and Trinity, later the University of Colombo for my brother, and Girls’ High School for my sister). It would take reams and reams to write about just this one aspect of my childhood. There are other aspects too – the freedoms I enjoyed when I was growing up in the provincial township of Kadugannawa, living in that house on the hill. Continue reading

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The Rule of Law in Australia aids Qi Guang Guo

Michael Inman & Steven Trask, Canberra Times, 5 March 2018 where the title is Älleged Triad boss Qi Guang Guo wins $35,001 for unlawful detention””

The Australian government has been ordered to pay $35,001 to the alleged head of a Sydney-based Triad crime gang, know as the “Big Circle”, after he was wrongly locked up in immigration detention. It is the second time Qi Guang Guo, 60, has been compensated by the Commonwealth for wrongful imprisonment after he won $100,000 when he was illegally detained for 132 days between 2004 and 2005.

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Colonialism within Todays’ Humanitarian Agency Work

Janaka Jayawickrama, courtesy of Al-Jazeera, 24 February 2018, where the title runs “Humanitarian aid system is a continuation of the colonial project …. Note that emphasis via highlighting has been added and minor editorial changes have been made by the Editor, Thuppahi

Haitians wait to get food coupons in downtown Port-au-Prince following the 2010 earthquake that wrecked much of Haiti’s capital and killed as many as 200,000 people [Eliana Aponte/Reuters]

The global humanitarian community is again in confusion. The Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal has made headlines. Policymakers and humanitarian leaders everywhere talk about the need for change. Over the last 30 years or so, there have been many scandals, and much demand for reform. However, business just continues as usual. According to Reuters, during the last year the Save the Children Fund claimed they fired 16 staff members over reports of sexual harassment and Oxfam reported it dismissed 22 of its staff. There are similar reports by various humanitarian agencies. What is terrifying is that the same person who quit his role with Oxfam 2011 after being accused of using sex workers while working in Haiti, was engaging in similar acts in 2006 during his time working for the charity in Chad. Oxfam knew about this but went ahead and sent this person to work in Haiti anyway.

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The Yahapalanaya Government in Strife: Philips, Hattotuwa and Chandraprema Analyse the Situation

I. Rajan Philips: “The government’s consummate crisis in the face of Mahinda’s unconsummatable win,” Sunday Island, 18 February 2018,

There is no pussyfooting around the political shellacking at last week’s polls, that the President’s and the Prime Minister’s teams got at the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s budding party of old bloomers. Not surprisingly, the shellacking has precipitated a consummate crisis in the so called national-unity government. While the results of the local government elections have created the current crisis in the national government, the same results cannot provide any mechanism or mandate for resolving that crisis. Nor can the impressively lopsided success at the local elections directly enable Mahinda Rajapaksa to replace the government at the national level. Put another way, SLPP cannot nationally consummate its aggregate win at the local elections. It can, however, create havoc for the unity government and it is doing so in spades. The government leaders, on the other hand, are scrambling with no one showing any capacity to take control of the situation and restore even a semblance of order. Continue reading

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