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Sri Lanka

In mid-October the Sri Lankan cabinet approved the “policy and legal framework” for a new Counter Terrorism Act.

 
The crab-trapper of Jaffna is a happy man; he has a sturdy boat with a new Suzuki motor. Each morning he rises before dawn to motor out to a vast lagoon in his new auto rickshaw to fish for prawns and crabs — partly funded by the $5000 given to him by Australian taxpayers.  
 
Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently declared that his county is in the midst of a once in a lifetime opportunity to jump start its infrastructure and develop into a high-income economy.  
 

For the first time after his outburst on the functions of the Independent Commissions President Maithripala Sirisena has personally explained his stand to the media. Earlier it was Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne and newspaper reports that quoted ministerial sources that defended the President, but in an interview with the Sunday Lankadeepa the President had defended his controversial speech made on October 12 at the Sri Lanka Foundation (SLF).

 

Even as Sri Lanka drafts a new law to counter terrorism, human rights activists and lawyers here fear it might be worse than the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) they want repealed and replaced.

 

Meanwhile the PM has exhibited his Vibheeshana syndrome. Vibheeshana was of course the treacherous, pro-Ramacollaborator brother of the great Lankan king Ravana (recently deemed a terrorist by Mr. Modi) of Asian mythology. The PM promised to sign ETCA before this year is out. Perusing a draft, I was aghast to find that the subheadings covered every conceivable aspect of this island’s economic life, from agriculture, fisheries, plantations to education and educational infrastructure, energy and the mapping of ground water resources.   

 

The death of two university students at Kokkuvil in Jaffna when they were shot at by the police when they had defied orders to stop the motorcycle they were riding is making headlines for the past several days, especially in the Tamil media. The sword attack on the two policemen on Sunday at the Chunnakam market automatically gains more weight in the belief that it is connected to the death of the two students. 

 

Sri Lanka has been seeking to boost its economy following the end of its civil war in 2009, with tourism being a key growth sector. The island nation is witnessing an impressive tourist boom, with foreign investors eyeing the country as a promising growth market. 

 

Aside from the public’s overall lack of awareness about the process, another key takeaway from the report is that there doesn’t appear to be any sort of national consensus about what should be done. That isn’t surprising, although it means that the government’s messaging, awareness-raising and communications strategy surrounding this initiative is crucial. Quite evidently, Colombo’s performance thus far leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Villagers such as Poddibanda, who are the mercy of changing rainfall patterns, have had little help in learning to manage water better, though it is crucial to their economic well being, experts say.

 


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