Monthly Archives: August 2015

Democracy on bumpy ride

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The TNA has thrown its hat into the ring for the Opposition Leader s post. The UPFA will cease to be an Opposition party if it joins forces with the UNP to form a national government. Therefore, the TNA, with 16 MPs elected on the ITAK ticket, demands the aforesaid post.

The JVP has also staked its claim for the position of the Opposition Leader. Those who are opposed to the TNA politically maintain that it lacks a national reach and, therefore, is not qualified to lead the Opposition. But, there is no constitutional provision to that effect and what really matters is the number of seats in Parliament.

President Maithripala Sirisena sought to justify the appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister following the Jan. 08 presidential election on the grounds that the Opposition coalition which backed his candidature had asked for a popular mandate for that purpose. Today, the SLFP has decided to join a UNP-led national government though the UPFA coalition, of which it is only a constituent, told the electorate, in no uncertain terms, before the August 17 general election, that it would not join any government with the UNP as a partner. About 4.7 million people endorsed its position!

What we are witnessing today is antithetical to good governance. Some candidates rejected by the people at the recent general election have been appointed to Parliament through the backdoor and the party which the electors have relegated to the Opposition is going to exercise power as a partner of the government. When Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the last presidential election President Sirisena et al asked him to respect the people s verdict and go home. While Rajapaksa was making a bid to secure premiership President Sirisena told him that there were other SLFP seniors who were eligible for that post. But, the President has appointed a bunch of defeated candidates to Parliament at the expense of more deserving nominees on the UPFA s National List! Such action is not only tantamount to a distortion of the will of the electorate but also bound to lead to a severe erosion of public faith in the electoral system.

It is a travesty of democracy for a party sharing power with another in Parliament or any other political institution for that matter to act as the Opposition. In the last Parliament, towards the latter part of its term, the Opposition and the arbitrarily appointed government became political Siamese twins. The next Parliament which will last at least four and a half years, unless, of course, its members decide otherwise, should have an Opposition which is not an appendage of the government. A dichotomy between the UPFA and the SLFP which did not contest the August 17 election is not possible.

The Opposition is to a government what a brake system is to a juggernaut. A robust countervailing force is a prerequisite for protecting democracy and safeguarding public interest. In this country governments are notorious for stealing public funds and abusing power and the public needs the help of a set of disgruntled, jealous thieves to catch others of their ilk or at least raise the alarm. The alleged corrupt deals under the Rajapaksa government would not have come to light if the UNP had been part of the UPFA government.

Attempts being made to form a UNP-SLFP joint administration are sure to run into a legal snag over the number of ministers to be appointed. It was the UPFA and not the SLFP which contested the last general election. The 19th Amendment does not provide for the Cabinet to be expanded in the event of a party which has not contested a general election joining forces with the winner to form a national government. This problem can be avoided by limiting the Cabinet to 30 members. But, in such an eventuality, there won t be enough ministerial posts for the UNP to share with the SLFP!

Whether President Sirisena will succeed in wresting control of the UPFA s decision-making body and getting it to do his bidding so as to clear the constitutional hurdle at issue remains to be seen. All indications are that there will be a legal wrangle. If the UPFA officially joins the national government on the cards, of its own volition or under duress, it will have to cede its right to the post of the Opposition Leader.

The SLFP has sought to justify its decision to join a national government by claiming that the two main parties should work together if the country is to achieve progress. Its MPs do not necessarily have to savour power for this objective to be achieved. The SLFP can extend conditional support to the UNP for the sake of the country without asking for ministerial posts.

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President Maithripala Sirisena further consolidated his position in the SLFP

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President Maithripala Sirisena further consolidated his position in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) when the party s Central Committee entrusted him the power to decide on the nomination of members to the posts of Opposition Leader, Deputy Speaker and Chief Opposition Whip.

The SLFP Central Committee met at his residence yesterday to discuss the way forward for the party and to endorse the party s decision to take up positions in the proposed National Unity Government. According to party sources, the President was also given the authority to decide on the nomination of MPs elect for ministerial posts in the government.

The party discussed in detail its decision to be part of the national government for two years. Already, the SLFP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United National Party (UNP) to form the National Unity Government, primarily to boost the economic growth, to introduce a new Constitution and to evolve a new electoral system.

The UNP will take up 33 Cabinet posts and the SLFP 12 posts in the government. SLFP members will hold portfolios such as agriculture, transportation, higher education , irrigation and Samurdhi Development. Alongside, the party appointed a committee to assess the situation and to make recommendations for reforming it politically. It comprises SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake, MPs Mahinda Amaraweera, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and former MP Jagath Pushpakumara. Meanwhile, the SLFP will hold its 64th Anniversary in Polonnaruwa on September 2 coinciding with the President s birthday

Thai police charge suspect for Bangkok blasts

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A foreign man was charged by the Thailand police on Saturday for the bomb blast in Bangkok last week, which killed 20 persons.

The suspect was reportedly a “Turkish national” but his identity is yet to be confirmed by police. Police spokesperson Prawut Thavornsiri said the suspect was also involved in the following day’s blast near a popular tourist pier.

China sells US Treasuries to support Yuan

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China, the largest holder of US government debt, is reportedly dumping US Treasuries at an accelerated rate in an attempt to support the yuan.

Following the surprise devaluation of the yuan two weeks ago, the People’s Bank of China has been selling dollars and buying yuan to support the yuan’s exchange rate. China controls $1.48 trillion of US government debt.

YouTube set to launch two subscription services

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YouTube will reportedly launch two subscription services before the end of this year.

While Music Key, its ad-free, paid subscription service, has been in beta since November 2014, the website’s other unnamed, paywall service is set to target premium content creators and consumers.

However, a few music labels are seeing this as an appeasement strategy before refreshing contracts in 2016.

Whatsapp introduces middle finger emoji

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Mobile-messaging app Whatsapp has rolled out its latest version v2.12.250 to Android users, which introduces a number of new emojis, including the middle finger emoji.

Other emojis that have been introduced are Spock salute, more diverse facial emojis, and a bunch of LGBT emojis. Available only on Whatsapp website, the new version also allows users to mute an individual’s chat.

Rain disrupts play as India reach 298/8 on Day 2

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Pujara saves the day with his seventh Test century.
India reached 292 for eight in their first innings when steady drizzle stopped the proceedings with 12.3 overs still left on day two of third Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

When rain stopped play, opener Cheteshwar Pujara, who battled through to his seventh test hundred, was batting in company of Ishant Sharma, who was not out on 2 as the Indian innings was in its 96th over (95.3 overs). Right-hand batsman Pujara, who was carrying the team on his back through the day, was 135 not out as they stopped playing due to rain.

Sri Lanka seamer Dhammika Prasad caused the biggest damage for India, taking four wickets for 65 runs.

Pujara, brought in to replace injured Murali Vijay, spent more than five and a half hours at the crease and scored his runs off 219 deliveries, including nine boundaries. But his partners have failed to stay with him to build big partnerships.

India started after lunch on 119-4 and Prasad, having dismissed Rohit Sharma in the last ball before the break, struck in his first ball of the session trapping Stuart Binny lbw for a golden duck.

After only 15 overs of play was possible on the first day, the second day’s play saw 80.3 overs being bowled by the home team.

The three-test series is tied 1-1.

AP

DMK, PMK condemn U.S. stand on Sri Lanka

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The U.S. government’s decision to support the new Sri Lankan government’s plans for a local inquiry into alleged wartime atrocities has evoked strong criticism from DMK leader M. Karunanidhi and PMK founder S. Ramadoss.

“The U.S. government’s move looks as if it wants to cover up the war crimes. I hope it will not happen. If Sri Lanka is allowed to conduct its own inquiry, the DMK will strongly condemn the U.S.,” Mr. Karunanidhi said in a statement.

Dr. Ramadoss said that though he was pained by the decision of the U.S. government, he was not surprised because he had expected it.

“I have been saying that we should not trust the U.S. as it would not hesitate to betray the interest of Tamils. My stand has been vindicated now,” he said.

Even the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickermesinghe, could not get justice for the Tamils as it was during his regime that efforts were made for the final war against the Tamils.

“The only ray of hope is the United Nations Human Rights Council . It should ensure that an international inquiry is ordered into the war crimes,” Dr. Ramadoss said.

TH

31 Royalists in new Parliament!

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General Election 2015 (28 Elected & 03 Appointed = 31 Royalists as MPs)

1. Ranil Wickramasinghe (Leader-UNP)

2. Duminda Disanayake (Secretary-SLFP)

3. Dinesh Gunawardena (Leader-MEP)

4. Rauf Hakeem (Leader-SLMC)

5. Arumugam Thondaman (Leader-CWC)

6. M.A.Sumanthiran (TNA)

7. Kabir Hashim (Secretary-UNP)

8. Laxman Kirialla (Vice President-UNP)

9. Sajith Premadasa (Deputy Leader-UNP)

10. Gayantha Karunathilaka (UNP)

11. Vidura Wickramanayaka (SLFP)

12. Mangala Samaraweera (UNP)

13. Naveen Disanayake (UNP)

14. Mahindananda Aluthgamage (SLFP)

15. Ravi Karunanayake (UNP)

16. Priyankara Jayarathna (SLFP)

17. Ranjith Siyabalapitiya (SLFP)

18. Mohan Lal Grero (SLFP)

19. Dunesh Gankanda (UNP)

20. Harsha de Silva (UNP)

21. Eran Wickramarathne (UNP)

22. Sagala Rathnayake (UNP)

23. Harshana Rajakaruna (UNP)

24. Mayantha Disanayake (UNP)

25. Kanchana wijesekara (SLFP)

26. Anuradha Jayarathne (SLFP)

27. Kavinga Jayawardena (UNP)

28. Imran Maharoof (UNP)

National List MP

1. Malik Samarawickrama (President-UNP)

2. D. M.Swaminadhan (UNP)

3. Fazer Musthpa, PC (UNP)

UNP – 19
SLFP – 08
MEP – 01
SLMC – 01
CWC – 01
TNA – 01 TTL – 31

Google makes it official: Chrome will freeze Flash ads on sight from Sept 1

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Google is making good on its promise to strangle Adobe Flash’s ability to auto-play in Chrome.

The web giant has set September 1, 2015 as the date from which non-important Flash files will be click-to-play in the browser by default – effectively freezing out “many” Flash ads in the process.

Netizens can right-click over the security-challenged plugin and select “Run this” if they want to unfreeze an ad. Otherwise, the Flash files will remain suspended in a grey box, unable to cause any harm nor any annoyance.

Click-to-play … Run if you wish

Back in June, Google warned that, in cooperation with Adobe, it would change the way Flash material is shown on websites.

Basically, “essential” Flash content (such as embedded video players) are allowed to automatically run, while non-essential Flash content, much of that being advertisements, will be automatically paused.

As we explained a couple of months ago, it’s effectively taking Chrome’s “Detect and run important plugin content” feature, and making it the default: only the “main plugin content on websites” will be run automatically. That should put a stop to irritating ads around the sides of pages.

Google’s reasoning for the move is largely performance-based, apparently. The Chocolate Factory worries that with too many pieces of Flash content running at once, Chrome’s performance is hamstrung, and, more critically, battery life is drained in notebooks and tablets running the Flash plugin.

Crucially, the move will help kill the spread of malware via malicious Flash files, particularly dodgy adverts that have popped up on sites used by millions and millions of people.

Google said advertisers who are worried about having their ads switched off should consider converting their Flash artwork to HTML5. According to the cyber-goliath, “most Flash ads uploaded to [Google] AdWords are automatically converted to HTML5.”

So, in other words, if you’re not on Google’s ad network, you’re locked out of Chrome – unless you also switch to HTML5 artwork.

Interestingly, Google’s security engineers have been helping Adobe’s programmers to shore up Flash with anti-hacker defenses.

TR

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