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  • CBK commends Dr. Shafi’s noble gesture of donating past salary to buy essential medicine
    Falsely accused by racist elements for alleged illegal sterilisation, Kurunegala Teaching Hospital doctor says racism will not take country or organisation forward except make poor people suffer more; calls on all to make Sri Lanka racism-free   Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has commended Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen over his gesture of donating the past salaries amounting to Rs. 2.6 million during his suspension and imprisonment on false charges to buy essential medicines. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

    Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen



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  • Dr. Shafi donates arrears of his salary to purchase medicines for hospitals
    Dr. Shihabdeen Mohamed Shafi, the doctor at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital has decided to donate arrears of his salary amounting over Rs. 2.67 million for the purchase of essential medicines for hospitals.

    Dr. Shafi who was on compulsory leave on charges of performing infertility surgery, has received a cheque of over Rs. 2.67 million salary arrears from the Health Ministry last week.

    The salary arrears include the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living, and allowance in lieu of pension for the period of compulsory leave imposed on Dr. Sihabdeen.

    Dr. Shafi who was employed at the Kurunegala teaching hospital was arrested on May 25th, 2019, on charges of performing infertility surgery.
    On July 25, 2019, the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court ordered that the doctor be released on bail.
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  • Govt. used Sinhala-Buddhist shield to its maximum benefit Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera
    This Govt. nurtured thug-like monks promoted them and deployed them in various  places Certain monks have severe psychological wounds If  society isn’t healed cases of domestic violence, harassment and child  abuse will be on the rise Reconciliation  was about having workshops, providing a report and earning dollars Accountability  has not been included in the Constitution or the Judicial system Terrorism  sprouts in a country that has no justice Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera who currently heads the Walpola Rahula Institute for Buddhist Studies has been addressing issues related to social justice and harmony while promoting an inclusive and plural society. Having gathered a wealth of experience during the height of war for instance and having encountered various incidents during his lifetime, Ven. Dhammananda Thera has...
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  • Health ministry to pay back-wages for Dr. Shafi before July 10
    The Ministry of Health today gave an undertaking before the Court of Appeal that the salary and allowances payable to Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen will be paid before July 10 this year. The Ministry of Health gave this undertaking pursuant to a writ petition filed by Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the alleged sterilisation of female patients. The Director General of Establishment at the Ministry of Public Services had earlier informed the Court that the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living and allowance in lieu of pension could be paid to Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen, for the compulsory leave period. Meanwhile, the petitioner expressed willingness to attend the preliminary inquiry before Director of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Dr. Chandana Kendangamuwa. Taking into consideration the facts,...
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  • Sri Lanka court orders release of lawyer held for two years
    A Sri Lankan court has ordered the release on bail of a lawyer arrested over his alleged links to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings and held for nearly two years on charges rights groups say lacked credible evidence. Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested in April 2020 and accused of being linked to the attacks on churches and hotels that left 279 people dead. But after prosecutors failed to provide evidence of his involvement in the attacks, blamed on a local group, he was instead Read More...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah leaves from remand custody
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah today left from remand custody after fulfilling his bail conditions before Puttlalam High Court.

    He was incarcerated for 22 months for allegedly committing offences come under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.Last Monday (07), the Court of Appeal ordered to release Hizbullah on bail pursuant to a revision application filed on behalf him.Hizbullah was ordered to be released on a cash bail of Rs.100,000 with two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Puttlalam High Court Judge Kumari Abeyratne. He was further ordered to report to the DIG office of Puttalam Police Division every second and fourth Sunday of every month.An indictment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act has now been served on Hejaaz Hizbullah. According to the indictment, Hizbullah...
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  • හිජාස් ගෙදර යයි

    (නිමන්ති රණසිංහ සහ හිරාන් ප්‍රියංකර ජයසිංහ) ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ සිවිල් හා දේශපාලන අයිතීන් පිළිබද ජාත්‍යන්තර සම්මුති පනත ප්‍රකාරව චෝදනා ලැබ වසර දෙකකට ආසන්න කාලයක් රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටි නිතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණ නියෝගය ප්‍රකාරව ඇප මත මුදාහැරීමට පුත්තලම මහාධිකරණය අද (09)...
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  • Court of Appeal grants bail on Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Court of Appeal today ordered to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail after nearly two years in detention and remand custody. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal directed the Puttalam High Court to release Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail with suitable bail conditions. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala made this order taking into consideration a revision application filed on behalf of Hejaaz Hizbullah. The Attorney General did not raise objections to release Hizbullah on bail. On January 28, an application made by the defence requesting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail was rejected by Puttalam High Court.   The High Court Judge Kumari Abeyrathne refused to grant bail citing that she has no jurisdiction to grant bail under the Prevention of Terrorism...
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  • Attorney at law Hejaaz Hizbullah granted bail
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah has been granted bail by the Court of Appeal after being detained for over 20 months. Hizbullah was released on bail today after the Puttalam High Court judge refused to grant bail to him last month. Refusing bail, she claimed that it was not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General having consented to grant bail. The judge further informed the defense to request bail from the Court of Appeal on the 9th of February 2022. The bail application had been filed at the Puttalam High Court after Hizbullah’s lawyer had agreed to a settlement with the other parties in the interest of his client. On 20th January, the Attorney General’s (AG) Department said it has no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. The AG’s Department informed the Court of Appeal that the bail...
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  • සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි - දොස්තර ශාෆි කියන කතාව
    “හිර කුටියේදී එයාල මට ලීටර් එක හමාරෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බීම බෝතලයක් තියාගන්න ඉඩ දුන්නා. කාටවත් කොට්ට දුන්නෙ නෑ. ඒත් බිම ඔලුව තියාගෙන ඉන්නකොට මට නින්ද යන්නෙ නෑ. බෝතලේ වතුරෙන් පුරවල ටිකක් වතුර ඉවත් කළාම ඒක ටිකක් නම්‍ය වෙනවා. මම සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි. මම ඒකට හුරු වුණා.” ශාෆි සහාබ්දීන් එම...
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Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution

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By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections

Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared. When I inquired, I was told untruthfully that he never reported it. Sasilan has what it takes to be a good officer. His experience also shows the challenges of office: fear of and the need to please the political authorities who recently just ahead of elections transferred new GAs to key electoral districts.

Our franchise is safeguarded by people like Sasilan. May these quarters give comfort to those who come to live here, safeguarding our franchise instead of to promote themselves by service to political authorities.

SLAS: SL Administrative Service or SL Association of Schemers?

Sasilan’s experience shows the triple challenges faced by election officials: impunity (on which I have written much and will not touch on here), political pressure, and threats to distributed power. As for political pressure, as you know the COVID curfews were mysteriously announced lifted on 19 April to clear the way for elections, a day after Defence-Secretary Kamal Gunaratne stated firmly that until COVID is curbed, curfew cannot be lifted. Now the 100 limit on political meetings is increased. The relevant gazette is delayed. Science services political authority.

When the Colombo Returning Office had a Facebook post calling a Presidential candidate the son of a donkey, an inquiry was held. The inquiry was scheduled for 5 pm, I left the Commission after 5:30 pm when the meeting was not convened. The delay was that one officer was drunk. They met very late and declared that the RO had a new telephone, he was reading someone else’s post, his finger slipped on the polished screen, and that got posted as his. Not even a child would believe what the SLAS officers and an IT expert proffered as an excuse. I perceived a need not to find anything against a fellow SLAS officer. After the elections, the man retired and sought nomination from the ruling party. Impunity!

Today we have a situation where an RO was brought at the last minute to a big district. Gifts given for those without work under COVID came to the Kachcheri. These went to an MP who distributed them as if they are from him. There is a photo from his Facebook where his youth leader gives the package from a GS office. The furniture stock marks identify the office. An inquiry had to be launched.

SLAS officers were the inquirers. The pickup from the Disaster Management Service was tracked by the GPS showing that the vehicle running charts are cooked up. It had stopped at a home for long periods where the contributions were offloaded on the relevant days (13-19 April). It had not gone to the Divisional Secretary’s office as claimed. The GA/District Secretary claimed he had given the goods to an Additional GA with correct instructions and certified that the distribution was perfectly done. The Additional GA claimed he had distributed the goods as instructed by the GA. The Accountant of the Divisional Secretariat where the gifts were claimed to have been given, testified that nothing was given there. The beneficiary list given by the GA’s office was clearly cooked up and duplicated pages with beneficiary signatures not matching the signatory’s names.

 

The inquirers did not dare to question the driver who asked him to go to the unauthorized places. They claimed to lack the capacity to ask the alleged beneficiaries who they were told the donor is. They claimed to lack the capacity to check the Facebook photo claiming the goods were from an MP. No one asked the GA how he certified distribution as he instructed.

The SLAS inquiry team cleared the GA claiming there was no evidence against him (although he certified that the distribution was properly done) and that he had handed over everything properly to the Additional GA. The Inquirers did not want to let down a political corrupt RO on whose reputation the electoral system hangs.

Democracy in Danger: Threat to Distributing Power

Our franchise is in danger. One source is the SLAS itself whose structure upholds authority and impunity. The other is rolling back devolution of powers from which we have all benefitted, including the Election Commission where three members have replaced the one Commissioner. This permits greater role for dissent and alternative voices. I will focus on the distribution of power for lack of time.

Imagine Sri Lanka is one electorate. The majority will win most of the seats. It is in recognizing that different peoples have different needs to articulate, that we have several electorates to send different representatives knowing the needs of each electorate. Similarly, we have multi-member seats to allow, say Muslims to be able to return a Muslim MP in a Tamil majority electorate. The Provincial Councils are a boon to truly representative democracy. What has happened to them is like what happened to a friend’s Volkswagen Beetle when I went with him to a mechanic’s. The foot board was rusty. The mechanic kicked it hard and broke it. Then he said, “See. It needs fixing.”

Likewise, the Provincial Councils have problems. We need to fix them without breaking them.

In my LLRC testimony, I argued for a united but federal Sri Lanka. I have three daughters and a son. They are all equally my children and equally loved. But the girls have different shared bedrooms in our house because their needs are different. Under one roof we are one family but with different living quarters. The arrangement does not make my son with his own bedroom unequal to my daughters.

Indeed the arrangement gives them greater freedom to lead fuller lives, one room with boy toys and comics and the others with dolls, wall posters, and a library with books like Pride and Prejudice. Giving us, Tamil people, different space where we can give expression and life to our peculiar needs is not separation but true happy integration.

Let me also paraphrase another family-based argument that my daughter who worked for Dr. Jehan Perera heard from him. If I were to have a voting system among my children every time we go out as a family, the three girls would outvote my son and we would always end up shopping or eating at a restaurant. My son, who would prefer Casuarina Beach, would get outvoted. In time, he would want to break off from the family and go to the beach with his friends. Majority vote would lead to separation but sharing leads to integration.

That is, the wishes of the majority cannot be forced on minorities in the name of democracy and must be mediated through a federal arrangement. Yes, a good society must allow those who wish to be different to be different.

Women

Women also are a minority in terms of power. They have different needs and sensibilities. Getting some 95% male Parliament to be their representative is not democracy. The Mannar Women’s Development Federation has said “Give one of your votes to a woman.” I endorse this. As they say, women’s rule uplifts our democracy.

There is some confusion, however. At the Presidential Elections, when MWDF urged you to vote for at least one woman, you could choose any of the female candidates. Now, however, in the Parliamentary elections, you must first choose a party, whatever it may be, and then vote for a woman from that same party. If you chose a woman from a party that you did not choose, your vote will be spoilt.

We must give choices to everyone in how our lives are run. Women especially must have a greater choice in running their lives. Vote for at least one woman from your party.

*Text of speech on 5 July, 2020 at the Election Commission’s Grand Opening of the New Quarters Building, Saravana Road, Kallady, Batticaloa

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/democracy-threatened-impunity-political-patronage-rollback-of-devolution/


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