Monthly Archives: October 2014
Hundreds of desperate Sri Lankan villagers dug with bare hands through the broken red earth of a deadly landslide on Thursday, defying police orders after a top disaster official said there was no chance of finding more survivors at the high-elevation tea plantation. There were conflicting reports of how many people were missing in the slide, which struck Wednesday morning in the island nation’s central hills after heavy monsoon rains.
Disaster Management minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the number of dead at the Koslanda tea plantation would be fewer than 100. But Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center – which Amaraweera oversees – reported 190 people missing.
Villagers, meanwhile, said the death toll could easily exceed 200.
“I have visited the scene and from what I saw I don’t think there will be any survivors,” Amaraweera told The Associated Press on Thursday. “But that number is less than 100.”
Frustrated relatives who had watched the search from the sidelines tried to follow a politician into the search site but were stopped by police. However, the politician argued with police and took villagers with him who joined hundreds of soldiers searching through the mud for survivors.
The search was suspended on Thursday evening because of heavy rain.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the disaster site on Thursday and spoke to residents who are taking shelter in schools and temples. According to his website, Rajapaksa ordered officials to expedite rescue and relief for the victims.
Television reports showed Rajapaksa inspecting the disaster from the air and meeting with relief officials. Later he was seen distributing sleeping mats and boxes with essential items to the displaced people and consoling weeping men and women.
Amaraweera said the government had asked the National Child Protection Authority to take charge of children orphaned by the disaster.
Many children had left for school before the slide and returned to see their homes buried with their parents. A government minister told Parliament that they have found 75 orphaned children.
“The government will be fully responsible for them, we will not give them to anyone other than somebody from immediate family because they can be sent for child labor,” he said.
A large number of children in Sri Lanka’s tea plantations drop out of school and work as domestic helpers or waiters in tea boutiques. Many times parents send children to work due to poverty or alcoholism.
Displaced people spent their second evening Thursday crammed inside a dark, cold school classroom atop a misty mountain. Government officials had begun a survey of the dead and missing and doctors attended to the sick and wounded.
A 48-year-old truck driver who gave his name only as Raja said he lost all five members of his household – his wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and his 6-month-old grandchild.
“I left for work early morning and got a call asking me to rush back,” Raja said, weeping. “I came back and there was no trace of my home, everyone was buried.”
A local government officer familiar with the tea plantation said he believes 200-250 people may have been buried, based on the number of people usually in the area at the time. There were many houses, a big Hindu temple, a playground and two milk collection centers where farmers brought their milk to sell.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because government rules prevent him from speaking to the media.
The tea plantation in Badulla district, about 140 miles (220 kilometers) east of Colombo, was one of many in the higher altitudes of Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, one of the world’s leading tea producers.
Most of Sri Lanka has experienced heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Center had issued warnings of mudslides and falling rocks. The monsoon season here runs from October through December.
Vettiyan Yogeswaran, who lives in part of the tea plantation not affected by the landslide, said authorities had warned people that the area was vulnerable to mudslides and they should move. But he said no housing alternatives were offered.
“There are 50-70 families living in my neighborhood in the bottom of a mountain. If a mudslide happens we all will be buried,” Yogeswaran said. “We want to leave but we have not been given a proper alternative.”
The US Embassy in Colombo offered to help with the relief efforts.
“We stand ready to assist the government and victims as they mourn the loss of loved ones, treat the injured, and address the extensive losses and damage caused by this natural disaster,” it said in a statement.
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SAN FRANCISCO: YouTube viewers might get the option of paid subscriptions for ad-free access to the popular online video-sharing service.
Subscriptions and even a streaming music service are among new options that YouTube is considering offering its more than one billion users, YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki said at a technology conference in California late Monday.
“YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is really great in the sense that it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; anyone can access the content,” Wojcicki said in an online video clip of her on-stage conference chat.
“But there are going to be cases where people will say, ‘I don’t want to see the ads,’ or, ‘I want to have a different experience.'”
Wojcicki also confirmed rumors that YouTube is working on a streaming music and video service that could compete with the likes of Pandora and Spotify. She did not provide many details, but Wojcicki said she is optimistic the music service will debut soon.
“We are thinking about how to give users options,” Wojcicki said.
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New York: A considerable number of people take their smartphones with them to bed – some even holding them in their hands as they dream, said a survey.
According to a latest survey by California-based QR Code Press magazine, 53 percent of respondents said they regularly took their smartphones with them when they went to bed.
QR Code Press released the results of a new mobile technology survey it had conducted to examine certain behaviours with regards to smartphone use, such as taking their devices to bed with them.
While five percent of them noted that they have fallen asleep with their device in their hand, two percent claimed to have texted someone while they were asleep.
According to a Nielsen study, the average American was already spending 34 hours and 21 minutes per month on mobile technology devices.
Some have even interrupted their sleep to make use of their mobile device, most often for social media purposes.
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Around 100 people were buried alive in a tea-growing region of Sri Lanka on Wednesday as mudslides triggered by monsoon rains washed away their homes on a plantation, disaster officials said. One witness spoke of hearing a noise like thunder as part of a mountainside collapsed onto the estate, burying some of the workers’ homes in 30 feet (nine metres) of mud and debris.
“What I gathered is that about 100 people have been buried alive,” Disaster Management minister Mahinda Amaraweera told AFP after visiting the site in the eastern Koslanda region.
“There is no chance they could have survived,” said the minister, as other officials said 16 people were confirmed dead.
Hundreds of soldiers, who initially used their hands to dig for survivors, had switched to operating excavators by evening but hopes had faded of finding anyone else still alive.
“Anyone buried under the mud has a very slim chance of surviving,” Disaster Management Center spokesperson Sarath Kumara told AFP.
The annual monsoon brings vital rains for irrigation and electricity generation but also causes frequent loss of life and damage to property.
The minister said the search and rescue mission led by troops had now turned into a recovery operation, which they hope to resume at first light on Thursday.
He said using heavy machinery also had to be done carefully because the surrounding hills were unstable.
“Initially we estimated the missing number at 300, but most of them were at school or work,” the minister said.
“We have already started relief operations to provide them with shelter and food.
“Even the office where records were kept had been damaged,” the minister said.
The region’s top military official, Major General Mano Perera, said 302 people, including 75 schoolchildren, whose homes were destroyed in the mudslide were being looked after at two schools in the same area.
The mudslide hit at a time when most people were at work and children were already in school, leaving the elderly and the very young at home.
The military officer said about 500 troops had been deployed in the area to carry out the search for victims.
Kumara said 16 bodies have so far been recovered from the disaster around 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Colombo.
“We have reports of 140 houses getting washed away in the mudslides,” Kumara added.
Part of a mountain appeared to have collapsed onto the cluster of homes belonging to the tea plantation workers and their families below, leaving no trace of them, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
Shopkeeper Kandasamy Prabhakaran, 34, said he heard a noise like thunder and then saw houses being washed away by tonnes of mud.
“Right before my eyes I could see houses crumbling and getting washed downhill,” Prabhakaran said.
“It all happened very quickly.”
President Mahinda Rajapakse ordered troops to deploy heavy equipment to speed up the rescue efforts, his office said.
Military sources said they expected more heavy machinery to reach the site, but damage to roads as well as heavy rain and mist were slowing them down.
Sections of several national highways have also been washed away by the rains and a train was stuck after a mountain slope crashed onto a railway line.
The landslide began at about 7:45am (0215 GMT) and lasted about 10 minutes, Perera said, adding “some houses have been buried in 30 feet of mud.”
Authorities have begun checking on the number of people who were in their homes when tragedy struck.
Kumara said the mudslide struck after schools opened and tea plantation workers were supposed to be at work, but bad weather may have prompted some to stay home.
The area is prone to mudslides and residents had been repeatedly warned to move to safer areas as monsoon rains lashed the region, the Disaster Management Center said.
Thirteen people were killed in mudslides in and around Colombo in June.
Cyclonic winds that accompanied the monsoon in June last year killed 54 people, mostly fishermen.
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Fourteen years ago I moved from Chicago to Paris. The first time I ran a training session in France, I prepared thoroughly, considering how to give the most persuasive presentation possible. I practiced my points, and anticipated questions that might arise.
The day of the session, my actions were guided by the lessons I had learned from many successful years of training in the U.S. I started by getting right to the point, introducing strategies, practical examples, and next steps.
But the group did not seem to be responding as usual, and soon the first hand came up. “How did you get to these conclusions?” You are giving us your tools and recommended actions, but I haven’t heard enough about how you got here. How many people did you poll? What questions did you ask?” Then another jumped in: “Please explain what methodology you used for analyzing your data and how that led you to come to these findings”.
The interruptions seemed out of place, even arrogant. Why, I wondered, did they feel the need to challenge my credibility? The material was practical, actionable and interesting. Their questions on the other hand – if I were to spend the necessary time answering them – were so conceptual they were sure to send the group into a deep slumber. So I assured them that the methodology behind the recommendations was sound, and was based on careful research, which I would be happy to discuss with them during a break. I then moved back to my conclusions, tools and practical examples. Let’s just say things got worse from there.
The stonewall I had run into was “principles-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as deductive reasoning), which derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts. People from principles-first cultures, such as France, Spain, Germany, and Russia (to name just a few) most often seek to understand the “why” behind proposals or requests before they move to action.
But as an American, I had been immersed throughout my life in “applications-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as inductive reasoning), in which general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world. Application-first cultures tend to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how.” Later, as I began to understand the differences between one culture and another in how to influence other people, I heard many examples of the way the typical American presentation style is viewed from a European perspective.
Jens Hupert, a German living in the United States for many years, explained his opposite experience during an interview. “In the U.S., when giving a talk to my American colleagues, I would start my presentation by laying the foundation for my conclusions, just like I had learned in Germany; setting the parameters; outlining my data and my methodology; and explaining my argument.” Jens was taken aback when his American boss told him, “In your next presentation, get right to the point. You lost their attention before you got to the important part.” In Hupert’s mind, “You cannot come to a conclusion without first defining the parameters.”
Most people are capable of practicing both principles-first and applications-first reasoning, but your habitual pattern of reasoning is heavily influenced by the kind of thinking emphasized in your culture’s education structure.
Different cultures have different systems for learning, in part because of the philosophers who influenced the approach to intellectual life in general. Although Aristotle, a Greek, is credited with articulating the applications-first thinking, it was British thinkers, including Roger Bacon in the 13th century and Francis Bacon in the 16th century, who popularized these methodologies. General conclusions are reached based on a pattern of actual observations in the real world.
For example, if you travel to my hometown in Minnesota in January, and you observe every visit that the temperature is considerably below zero, you will conclude that Minnesota winters are cold. You observe data from the real world, and you draw broader conclusions based on these empirical observations. Francis Bacon was British, but later, Americans with their pioneer mentality came to be even more applications-first than the British.
By contrast, philosophy on the European continent has been largely driven by principles-first approaches. In the 17th century, Frenchman René Descartes spelled out a method of principles-first reasoning in which the scientist first formulates a hypothesis and then seeks evidence to prove or disprove it.
For example, you may start with the general principle like “all men are mortal.” Then move to “Justin Bieber is a man.” And that leads you to conclude that “Justin Bieber will eventually die.” One starts with the general principle, and from that moves to a practical conclusion. In the 19th century, the German Friedrich Hegel introduced the dialectic model of deduction, which reigns supreme in schools in Latin and Germanic countries. The Hegelian dialectic begins with a thesis, or foundational argument; this is opposed by an antithesis, or conflicting argument; and the two are then reconciled in a synthesis.
No matter which type of country you were raised in, and which cultures you are working with, it helps a lot to be able to adapt your style according to your audience. Here are a few tips to guide your preparation when working internationally:
When working with applications-first people:
Presentations: Make your arguments effectively by getting right to the point. Stick to concrete examples, tools and next steps. Spend relatively little time building up the theory or concept behind your arguments. You’ll need less time for conceptual debate. Persuading others: Provide practical examples of how it worked elsewhere. Providing Instructions: Focus on the how more than the why.
When working with principles-first people:
Presentations: Make your argument effectively by explaining and validating the concept underlying your reasoning before coming to conclusions and examples. Leave enough time for challenge and debate of the underlying concepts. Training sessions may take longer. Persuading others: Provide background principles and welcome debate. Providing Instructions: Explain why, not just how.
These days, I give a lot of presentations to groups across Europe and the Americas. I do my best to adapt to my audience, instead of thinking that the whole world thinks like me.
If I’m presenting to a group of New Yorkers, I’ll only spend a moment talking about what research is behind the tool. But if I’m in Moscow, I’ll carefully set the stage, laying out the parameters for my arguments, and engaging in debate before arriving at conclusions. If I fail to do this, they are likely to think “What does this woman think. . . . that we are stupid ? That we will just swallow anything?”
When you hope to engage, when you hope to inform and persuade and convince, what you say is important, but how you say it, how you structure your message, can make all the difference – to the Americans, to the French, to everyone.
Harvard Business Review
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Suspicious cyber activity has been detected on the computer network used by the White House and measures have been taken to address it, a White House official disclosed on Tuesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say who might have been responsible for the activity on what was described as an unclassified computer network used by employees of the executive office of the President.
The Washington Post cited sources as saying hackers believed to be working for the Russian government breached the unclassified computer network in recent weeks.
“In the course of assessing recent threats we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network. Any such activity is something that we take very seriously. In this case we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,” the White House official said.
The official said the technical measures to address the activity had led to limited access to some EOP network services. Some of the issues have been resolved, but the work continues.
“Our actions are ongoing and some of our actions have resulted in temporary outages and loss of connectivity for some EOP users,” the official said.
A second administration official told Reuters there were no indications that classified networks had been affected. The White House, like many government entities in Washington, frequently faces cyber threats.
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A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers’ houses at a tea estate in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, officials said. The mudslide struck at around 7:30am and wiped out 120 workers’ homes at the Meeriabedda tea estate in Badulla district, 218 kilometers (135 miles) east of the capital, Colombo, said Lal Sarath Kumara, an official from the Disaster Management Center.
By early afternoon, rescue workers had pulled out 10 bodies that had been buried by the mudslide, Kumara said. More than 250 other people were missing, he said.
The military mobilized troops to help in the rescue operations.
Most of Sri Lanka has seen heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Center had issued warnings for mudslides and falling rocks.
The current monsoon season in the Indian Ocean island nation runs from October through December.
Sri Lanka’s famous Ceylon tea is produced mainly in the country’s central hills.
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Representative photo Womanisers may now have a lame excuse! A Canadian study has revealed that men who have sex with multiple partners are less likely to get prostrate cancer.
Men who had sex with more than 20 women had a 28% reduced risk of being diagnosed with the disease, whereas those who had less partners didn’t fare as well.
Large numbers of ejaculations may reduce the concentration of cancer-causing substances in prostatic fluid, a constituent of semen, the study noted.
This would mean frequent masturbation would also reduce your likelihood of catching the deadly disease, the metro.co.uk reported citing the study.
In the case of gay man, however, the opposite is true. Hence, such people should not strive for multiple partners since doing so would double the risk of prostate cancer.
The Prostate Cancer and Environment Study involved 3,208 men and answered questions about their lifestyle and sex lives, the report said.
“It is possible that having many female sexual partners results in a higher frequency of ejaculations, whose protective effect against prostate cancer has been previously observed in cohort studies,” lead researcher Marie-Elise Parent, from the University of Montreal, said.
The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.
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While most contestants of such competition dream of winning a Presidency during their lifetime they do so with an unblemished track record and the backing of the majority vote!! This seems hardly likely in the case of the UNP’s Ranil Wickremasinghe as he has disentitled himself to the privilege on many counts and has virtually proven himself to be a mere power hungry aspirant to the title sans the credential needed a he has already had his chance and apparently totally blown it.
What shows him in the guise of a dreamer becomes painfully apparent when scrutinising his track record where he has on more than one occassion showed the willingness to sell out the country to western powers who were prepared to use him as a pawn to undermine the present admninistration as well as his willingness to bargain away Sri Lanka to her adversaries such as the mendacious Tamil Tigers who at one time appeared to dictate terms to him and precipitated his virtual demise as a resul when he defaultedt.There could have been severe reprisals for Sri Lanka had Ranil’s covert alliance with the LTTE borne fruit but fortunately for the Nation it did not. Perhaps due to the perceptions of the present Administration itself although it did not come down hard enough on him when it should have.
Synonymously when the main opposition United National Party (UNP) in a news bulletin says ” it is confident of securing a historic victory” at the next Presidential elections they must surely be deluding themselves or contemplating a leadership change prior to that but unlikely based on the time factor involved although stranger things have happened in the political spectrum of Sri Lanka although no leadership change appears to be capable of tarnishing or altering the huge popularity ratings President Rajapaksa has in Sri Lanka today!
The simplest question needs to be asked “What Has Ranil Wickremasinghe Done For Sri Lanka To Deserve The Presidency And What Are His Credentials Which makes Him So deserving ?” to which the sad answer would be “Practically Nothing Other Than Attempt At Any Cost To Grab Power ~ by hook or by crook to put it simply!
Therefore when UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at a UNP rally held at Hyde Park in Colombo recently , says that his party has just a short way to go in its climb to the top of the mountain, he must either be dreaming or very persevering in his attempt to climb to the top of this mountain he refers to and virtually an attempt at Mt. Everest ( the outcome of that needing no rocket science to interpret!).
On a more realistic note UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa when saying that “the UNP cannot win without the support of the party organisers and supporters around the island and calling on them to rally around the UNP to attempt rather than ensure its victory which seems more plausible than the exhortations of pipe dreamer Wickremasinghe and perhaps in a hypothetical sense had the former been the leader of the UNP the outcome might prove to be indicative that the voting public may be more favourable towards him relatively although hardly strong enough to grant him incumbency over the present regime as the Nation truly appreciates what it has done for Sri Lanka under the present leadership.
When musing that I can tell you we will secure a historic victory be it at a Presidential or General election,” Premadasa seems to have done exactly that( Muse) with a bit of wishful thinking attached to it albeit softer toned than Mr.Wickremasinghe who sounds as though he it attempting to fool all the people all the time with nothing substantial to offer them beyond his rhetoric!
To add to what many believe is his deceit and duplicity, Wickremesinghe has insisted that” he never met the pro-LTTE diaspora in London during his recent visit to the UK.” when all the news reports indicated that he had done exactly that and that his mission was to coincide with the EU’s lifting its ban on the proscribed LTTE or be part and parcel in its execution confirmed by very reliable sources.There are many who have drawn conclusions given his track record that this was yet another attempt on his part to discredit the present Sri Lanka Administration, so is this the kind of leader the Nation needs? one might ask, to which the answer is self providing in a very negative sense !
The denials of his culpability to barter with as well as compromise the best interests of Sri Lanka towards his own gain is nothing new with the UNP leader where there is more than one situation during his political career indicative of this. That he has not been taken to task for such is a remarkable portrayal of tolerance on the part of the Administration where there are some who insist that his actions are treasonous which to the more conservative observer might seem debatable!
While he has said that some newspapers had published a photograph claiming it was his meeting with the diaspora he has insisted that he had never met such groups. either in London or in any other country indicative of his capability to stare one right between the eyes and deny blatant facts with all the incriminating evidence staring him right in the face. The information obtained was posted with confidence and credibility that traversed the international Press where had it been innuendo would hardly be worth a second glance. It seems to have caused quite a furore instead which attests to its veracity!
At the appropriate time Sri Lanka should and will have a regime change but in all probabilities never accommodate the likes of Wickremasinghe who should gracefully bow out of aspirations beyond his capability as it would certainly be in the best interests of Sri Lanka!
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Rajapaksa is a ‘name’ that the British Raj gave to people that did a good job in Negombo/ Seeduwa area, close to Katunayake.
The same way the British did, give fancy names to people in the Hill country and South, that did a good job!
Rajapaksa’s are born Catholics of Malaccan origin (this explains the strong ‘gob looking’ Mongoloid phenotype features in all of them).
His father’s name was Don Alwin Rajapaksa. His son (the President now) is Percy Mahinda. They ‘converted’ their Religious belief’s to gain Political mileage.
This was no different to SWRD and JRJ, who were all from strict Christian backgrounds and converted to exhibit Sinhala Buddhist Extremism to gain Public Popularity. (Goes to show the basic insincerity and the manipulative methods used to gain power!)
The Rajapaksa family is now one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful families in the land.
Led by President Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa, all his ‘kith and kin’ now occupy senior positions in the Sri Lankan state.
The family controls around 70% of the national budget.
The Rajapaksa family, originally from Seeduwa/Negombo later migrated with their Malaccan Catholic ancestors to the villages of Sippukulam and Giruwapattuwa in the southern district of Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota).
Their Malaccan relatives were banished by Islamic Rulers of Malacca for helping the Portuguese conquest of Malacca.
They were feared, and known for their brutality and ruthlessness.((nothing seems to have changed!)
The Malaccan family forcibly possessed fertile paddy fields and coconut lands belonging to natives, (nothing seems to have changed!) by enforcing their brutality through rape and murder. (nothing has changed!)
Some of the residum of the Malaccan Catholic relatives remain in the Seeduwa/ Negombo area, such as the Lansa Family (no relation of Mario Lansa??!!) of Negombo who are cousins of the Rajapaksa’s.
Members of one section the of the Southern migrant Malaccan family’s later converted to Islam to blend with the Muslims of Malay and Arab descent, in order to receive trade benefits and credit from Muslim traders who monopolized the southern trading ports of Galle and Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota). (p.s. History repeats itself- this time, with the ‘Chinks’ as well??!!)
The others entered into Village politics.
One of its members- Don David Rajapaksa, held the feudal post of Vidanarachchi in Ihala Valikada Korale.
The family entered the political scene by first feigning their Religious beliefs aligning more to the majority inhabitants beliefs of Theravada Buddhism!
Thereafter, Don David Rajapaksa’s son Don Mathew Rajapaksa was elected in 1936 to represent Hambantota district in the State Council.
Don Mathew died in 1945 and at the resulting by-election his brother, Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected without a contest. At the 1947 parliamentary election two members of the family were elected to represent both of the constituencies in Hambantota district.
Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected MP for Beliatta and Lakshman Rajapaksa (Don Mathew’s son) was elected MP for Hambantota.They yet maintained the subtlety of their staunch Catholic beliefs but appearing to be Buddhists on the outside!
The Rajapaksas continued to dominate politics in Hambantota district for next three decades with two other members of the family (George Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa) also entering parliament.
The Rajapaksas were represented in the country’s legislatures continuously from 1936 till 1977.
The family wasn’t represented in parliament after the UNP landslide at the 1977 parliamentary election.
The Indo-Lanka Accord shed light on the Rajapaksa family to adopt a more headlined” Sinhala Buddhist” policy.
This helped the Rajapaksa family to re-emerge as the dominant political force, in Hambantota district, when Mahinda and his brother Chamal Rajapaksa were elected in 1989 to represent Hambantota Electoral District.
They were later joined by Nirupama Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa.
Although the Rajapaksas had dominated politics in the Hambantota district, Nationally, politics were dominated by other families (Senanayake’s, Wijewardena’s and Bandaranaike’s – also hypocrites of Christian origin).
With the country having faced more than two decades of war (made even worse by the ‘Hoodlums of the JVP), the Presidential Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa opted to take the more radical Sinhala Buddhist extremist path.
He was opposed to Ranil Wickramasinghe, who had already created resentment from the Sinhala Buddhist majority and was considered to be ‘light veined’ and pro- Western.
This paid off well in 2005, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President.
There are claims that in the 2005 and consecutive Presidential Elections his Victory was bequeathed by the sordid tales of manipulation, thuggery and corrupt malpractices.
None of these allegation were proved, leaving them only as “tales of the disappointed”, although many still believe the contrary!
Since then, members of his family have been appointed to senior political positions.
Immediately after being elected President, Mahinda appointed his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary (the most senior civil service position in the Ministry of Defence).
Another brother, Basil Rajapaksa, was appointed Senior Presidential Advisor and later Minister of Economic Development.
Between them the three Rajapaksa brothers are in charge of five government ministries: Defence & Urban Development, Economic Development, Finance & Planning, Highways and Ports & Aviation.
This means that they directly control 70% of the national budget.
None of these relations had the decency, honour or self respect to decline accepting these ‘high offices’ if only to squash the obvious embarrassing ‘accusations’ that followed by the thousands.
They went on to acquire colossal amounts of wealth.
The Rajapaksa’s deny having control over such amounts!( Naturally!) Numerous other members of the ‘extended family’ have also been appointed to senior positions of the state.
The entire family seems “set for life”!!
After the successful ‘wiping out’ of the murderous Northern terrorists (also known for their brutality and ruthlessness), he empowered his Military brother to be in charge of Defence, and begin to infiltrate into the ‘Urban Development Authority’ (UDA), which has inexplicable ‘Land powers’, to override even the Judiciary of the country!
The accumulation of so much power and wealth by just one family, has inevitably led to the belief of blatant nepotism.
Incidentally, the UDA was formed initially, by the former President Premadasa when he was Prime Minister, and placed under his direct purview a notoriously corrupt civil servant named Paskaralingam! (pundi koottee)
Since then, the UDA has always been a powerful ‘control weapon’ of the Head of state.
Now the majority of the country, completely ignorant of facts and honest information, act like ‘lambs to slaughter’, under the command and discretion of the Rajapaksa family.
To enhance their so called ‘power’ they have recruited former menials,ex-cattle thieves, illicit alcohol brewers and “father unknown” village thugs, to execute matters of ‘law’ summarily!
All this whilst the country enjoys a reputation of having the” best Police Force in the world- that money can buy” !!!!
Now, the UDA is alleged to be forcibly acquiring Private and State Property and transferring them on to questionable tri-pâté agreements to their own family members and their ‘foot and mouth’ soldiers!!
Re-living their ancestral history of conquering the deep south, and now the whole nation!
Let us all sincerely hope that the “wheels of Karma would turn slowly, but surely”!
(First Published by Sri Lanka Guardian)
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