Is foreign-funded “Civil Society” attempting to replace the Political System in Sri Lanka?


Do “civil society” actually represent Sri Lankan citizens or are they representatives of those that fund or pay their salaries? Their connections and the manner they network provide clues. While they point fingers claiming politicians should serve a term, how long have they held posts in these organizations? While they project themselves as being better than politicians – how better are they, how trustworthy are they given that their funding determines the initiatives they take up & the topics they raise. It is they who began the ‘Reject 225+1” campaign as early as 2018 & we see that this campaign is in reality to replace politicians with themselves. There is increasing attempts to get ‘civil society’ involved in governance. By ‘civil society’ it is these foreign-funded entities that are attempting to take over governance.


Centre for Policy Alternatives

Board of Directors

  • Professor Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Senior Lecturer: Department of History & Art Theory, Faculty of Visual Arts, Colombo – Chairman
  • Aritha Wickremasinghe (Lawyer)
  • Chandana L. de Silva (Consultant)
  • Minoli De Soysa (Editor/Writer)
  • Dinusha Panditaratne (Lawyer)
  • Sukanya Devarajan (Former International Civil Servant)
  • Zameer Careem (Medical Doctor)
  • Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu – Executive Director



  • Academy for Education Development (AED)
  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • Diakonia
  • European Union (EU)
  • Ford Foundation
  • Forum of Federations
  • Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
  • International Budget Project
  • International Media Support (IMS)
  • National Democratic Institute (NDI)
  • Save the Children in Sri Lanka
  • Swiss Mission in Sri Lanka
  • The Asia Foundation (TAF)
  • The Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies in Sri Lanka
  • The Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit
  • The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)
  • UNDP


In October 2014 CPA was exposed for funding corruption.  CPA was accused of billing for un-held workshops, getting grants from 2 donors for the same task (EU & UNESCO paid CPA to do same task – each paying EURO 99,497.16), duplicating receipts, hotel bills and hoodwinking donors. These are the people preaching anti-corruption! An article disclosed all details – International Federation of Journalists is one of the ‘most corrupted media organizations in the world’ including double-billing. The article included names of Rohan Edirisinghe, Sunanda Deshapriya, Victor Ivan.


Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV)


CMEV is made up of CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.


National Peace Council


  • Joe William (Chairperson)
  • G. V. D. Tilakasiri (General Secretary)
  • Jehan Perera (Executive Director)
  • Professor T. Jayasingam (Joint Treasurer)
  • Professor M. S. Mookiah (Joint Treasurer)
  • Professor S. H. Hasbullah (Director – until August)
  • Venerable Buddhiyagama Chandrarathana Thero (Director)
  • Visaka Dharmadasa (Director)


Governing Council

  • Raja M. B. Senanayake
  • Javid Yusuf (member of yahapalana constitutional council)
  • A. Iyadurai
  • Saroja Sivachandran
  • M. H. M. Niyas
  • Fr. Joseph Mary
  • A. W. Hilmy Ahamed
  • Suresh Dayantha De Mel
  • Fr. T. Rohan Dominic
  • Rohana Hettiarachchi
  • Christobel Saverimuttu (Company Secretary)


ADVOCATA (earlier Advocata Institute)

Colombo-based neoliberal think tank connected to the US Govt

launched in May 2016 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute

3 months after the launch Minister Malik S quotes Advocata’s privatization plans.



  • Murtaza JafferjeeChair – Advocata Institute
  • Sarath RajapatiranaChair – Academic Programme
  • Anarkali MoonesingheBoard Member at Lankan Angel Network
  • Henry ErgasProfessor of Infrastructure Economics
  • Frank LavinChairman & CEO – Export Now
  • Nishan de MelExecutive Director – Verite Research
  • Fredrik ErixonDirector – ECIPE (European Centre for International Political Economy linked to CATO Institute)
  • Parth J ShahPresident – Centre for Civil Society
  • Premachandra AthukoralaProfessor of economics – ANU
  • Razeen SallyProfessor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – NUS (Economic Advisor to former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera) also on board of Candle Aid Sri Lanka
  • Rohan SamarajivaChairman – Lirneasia
  • Sujata GamageSenior Research Fellow, LIRNEasia
  • Reuben AbrahamCEO – IDFC Institute
  • Suri RatnapalaProfessor of Law, Queensland Uni.
  • Sirimal AbeyratneProfessor in Eco., Colombo Uni.





  • Nishan de Mel – Executive Director
  • Subhashini Abeysinghe – Research Director
  • Cilani Wijesinghe – Finance Director



  • Tony Seneviratne
  • Vinoth Ramachandra
  • Chris Rodrigo
  • Sisira Jayasuriya
  • Nimal Sanderatne
  • Sunil Bastian
  • Michael Roberts
  • Sharya Scharenguivel
  • Sunil Hettiarachchi



  • Rajesh Venugopal
  • Rozana Himaz Salih
  • Joy Pachuau
  • Saliya Wickramasuriya
  • Dinusha Panditaratne
  • Jesse Szeto
  • Amala Jayawardena
  • Ranil Dhammapala
  • Viran Corea


Note: Verite Research is promoting MCC economic corridor in Sri Lanka and is MCC agent in Sri Lanka


LIRNEASIA – established in 2005


  • Rohan Samarajiva – Chair
  • Vinya Ariyaratne – Vinya is also on the board of Sarvodaya Fusion – so too are Rohan Samarajiva, Madhu Rathnayaka (Virtusa),
  • Jeeva Perumalpillai-Essex – Development Economist
  • Lakshman Bandaranayake – Chairman Sarvodaya SEEDS
  • Mervyn de Silva – Consultant Renewable Energy Development
  • Visaka Nanayakkara – Senior Lecturer Univ of Moratuwa
  • Shaheen Cader – former CEO Nielsen Sri Lanka



  • Millie Rivera – Director Faculty Diversity, George Mason University, USA
  • Indrajit Coomaraswamy – Former Governor CBSL
  • Sandya Salgado – Director/CEO Ogilvy Action
  • W M Bandusena – Chairman Health Services, Public Service Commission
  • Sithie Tiruchelvam – Managing Partner – Tiruchelvam Associates
  • Anoja J Obeysekera – Consultant Telecom/Technology Business
  • Luxman Siriwardena – Former Executive Director Pathfinder Foundation
  • Thusitha Perera – Company Director & Senior Finance Professional


National People’s Movement

Formed by Vinya Ariyaratna in 2018  with Deshodaya (entity within Sarvodaya) & United Professionals Movement together with 17 civil society groups.

Slogans used “Together we can” promising to “Save-Serve-Sri Lanka”. They are promoting to bring a “new face” to Sri Lankan politics.

Nagahananda Kodituwakku of Vinivida Foundation is also a partner of NPM


The United People’s Movement

comprises Deshodaya, Kalyanamithra Society, Sinhala Weera Widana Society. What is the link with United Professionals Movement & United People’s Movement?


National Democratic Institute (NDI) – SRI LANKA

National Endowment for Democracy NED is umbrella for 3 inter-related agencies:

  1. Center for International Private Enterprise
  2. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
  3. National Republican Institute for International Affairs (International Republican Institute)


NDI is funded by NED, USAID, US State Dept, Consortium for Elections & Political Process Strengthening,

NDI also received contributions from Govt of Australia, Govt of Denmark, Govt of Belgium and Open Society Foundation of George Soros. Yasmin Sooka’s report against Sri Lanka was funded by George Soros Open Society Foundation. The Google balloon over Sri Lanka Google Loon Project” is also a George Soros project. In 2016 it was announced that George Soros was to fund a 3 year economic plan for Sri Lanka.


NDI provided financial & technical assistance in Ukraine election.



Assisted in conducting election monitoring & civil education campaigns in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 elections.

Sri Lanka became 1st South Asian Member of Open Government Partnership in 2015 to adopt an Open Parliament Plan alongside Civil Society.

NDI partners with Sarvodaya


Thusitha Pilapitiya, Sri Lanka Resident Senior Country Director



International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)


  • Radhika Coomaraswamy (Chairman) – Former Senior UN Diplomat
  • Rajan Asirwatham -Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, Corporate Director and former Senior Partner and Country Head of KPMG Ford Rhodes Thornton & Company
  • Silva (Emeritus) Chancellor of University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Historian, political analyst and specialist in ethnic studies and conflict resolution; former professor of Sri Lanka History, University of Peradeniya; founder and former Chairman and Executive Director of ICES
  • Shafinaz Hassendeen Former Senior ILO Officer and Labour/Gender specialist
  • Tissa Jayatilaka was former Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, and presently a Member/Council of Management, Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS).
  • Wijaya Jayatilaka Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Extension, University of Peradeniya and former Executive Director, Transparency International
  • Gnana Moonesinghe Civil Society Activist and Writer/Author
  • Jayadeva Uyangoda (Emeritus) Former Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Colombo and presently Emeritus Professor, University of Colombo.



  • Milinda Moragoda – Founder
  • Bernard Goonetilleke – Chairman since 2010 / DG Merchant Mercantile Bank
  • Dayaratna Silva – Exec Dir
  • Ahmed A. Jawad – diplomat – Norway, Saudi Arabia, Canada
  • Indrajit Coomaraswamy
  • Ganeshan Wignaraja – Director of Research at the ADB Institute in Tokyo, Chief Programme Officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and Visiting Scholar at the IMF in Washington DC), Executive Director of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry’s think tank in Colombo, Member of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on the Indian Ocean Member of the Monetary Policy Consultative Committee of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka)
  • Rajendra Theagarajah




Jan 2014 – US Govt via USAID sign MOU with BASL President Upul Jayasuriya.

US will sponsor “Civil Society Initiatives to support Rule of Law” linking BASL with US Bar Association.

Apr 2021 – US via USAID funds mobile app for Sri Lankan lawyers

Colombo Law Society members given access to online legal resources & court calendars, law reports.

Colombo Law Society in 2020 launched Hultsdorp Law Journal with US assistance providing online legal training for attorneys and law students.

CLS is affiliated to BASL with more than 4000 lawyers in Colombo.


Lawyers Collective:

Associated names: K S Ratnavale, Chrishantha Weliammuna, Jayampathi Wickremaratne, Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, J C Weliamuna, Nagahananda Kodituwakku

They campaigned for 19a, they promoted the Aluth Parapura, they thanked all those who helped to remove Chief Justice Mohan Pieris.

BASL also called for the removal of CJ Mohan Pieris. No one has answered why there was a due process followed to remove CJ Shirani Bandarnayake while no such process was followed to remove CJ Mohan Pieris. CJ Shirani was CJ43, however CJ44 is both Mohan Pieris and CJ Sri Pavan.


Lawyers for Democracy

Senior Lawyer Ratnavel is also a member of Lawyers Collective

In December 2018, Lawyers for Democracy issued statement on dissolution of Parliament – signatories to this statement were K.S. Ratnavale, J.C. Weliamuna, Lakshan Dias, Sheath Nethsinhe.

No lawyers objected to present PM being appointed PM immediately after a Presidential election in Jan2015 nor objected to present PM who entered parliament after being rejected by voters.


National Movement for Social Justice

Led by late Ven. Madulawe Sobitha thero

In November 2014 its first meet was attended by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Democratic Party Leader Sarath Fonseka and MP Arjuna Ranatunga, while the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike, issued a message pledging support to the group


Movement for a Just Society

Headed by Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya


‘Paravasi Balaya’  (පුරවැසි බලය Citizen’s Power)  

Co-Convener Gamini Viyangoda

Wickramabahu Karunaratne is also associated.

University Teachers’ for a Just Society

Convener Venerable Dambara Amila Thero, Prof. Jagath Kumarasinghe, Prof. Rohan Fernando, Dr. Mahim Mendis, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri all openly campaigned for 2015 Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

They attended the November 2014 ‘yahapalana’ press meeting organized by Ven. Sobitha thero.

December 2014 – Nearly 150 civil society groups under leadership of Maduluwawe Sobitha thero signed agreement in December 2014 and August 2015.


Colombo-based Civil Society Group’ 

conveners were Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, Nimalika Fernando, Shanti Sachithanandan, K S Ratnavale


‘Citizens Initiative for Constitutional Change’

Speakers at this event were – S G Punchihewa (human rights activist), Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu (CPA), Lal Wijenayake, Rohana Hettiarachchi (PAFFREL Executive Director), Kumuduini Samuel, Sudarshana Gunawardena Shan Wijetunga (Transparency International) Lionel Guruge CPA Senior Researcher in charge of CPA Outreach programas chaired the briefing.


People’s Movement Against Port City’ 

organized by Catholic priest Sarath Iddamalgoda led a protest to demand the government stop the Port City project.

Port City was stopped immediately in January 2015 by Ranil and recommenced by Ranil in 2016 but no Sarath Iddamalgoda to protest against it!


Aluth Parapura

personalities associated with this group are Sharmini Serasinghe, Samanalee Fonseka, Indrachapa Liyanage,


National Alliance of Alternative Forces

Formed in August 2019 by Professor Krishan Deheragoda (President) and Dr. Rohan Pallewatta (Leader) of Social Democratic Party of Sri Lanka, Ananda Stephen (General Secretary) of National Development Front, Navin Guneratne of Movement to Unite Motherland, Dinesh Kirthinanda of Alternative Political National Alliance, Professor Siri Hettige of Movement for Democracy & Justice, Dr. Prasanna Cooray of Democratic Social Alliance and Swarajya Foundation.

Dr. Rohan Pallewatte and Mr. Nagananda Kodithuwakku supposedly contesting for 2020 Presidency joined NAAF pledging support for a single National Candidate under the theme Reject 225 + 1” and ‘total system change”.  35 Associations representing nearly 150 organizations took part in its meeting held on 22 August 2019.

So what is the link with NPM and NAAF?


Abhiman Lanka “අබිමන් ලංකා” (Dignified Sri Lanka)

also launched on the same day by the same people promoting either Rohan Pallewatte or Nagananda Kodituwakku.

Abhiman Lanka invited JVP to join it –’’Abhiman-Lanka’’-invites-JVP-to-join-alternative-force-amidst-presidential-polls–VIDEO-?


Law & Society Trust

– formed by late Neelan Tiruchelvan had on its board of Directors – Chairman Chandra Jayaratne (supporter of yahapalana government) Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, G Alagaratnam (BASL President in 2015),

Donors are controversial – National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for land rights (note recent Land Privatization bill attempting to privatize all state land)


Transparency International – Sri Lanka

In 2017 Coalition Against Corruption used Right to Information Act to demand information from Transparency International SL on its case against TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeysekera, report by J C Weliamuna, Rs.1.1m fraud, and providing job to a foreign female who did not have work visa. Fascinating how these so called civil-society paragons of virtue are all hiding skeletons in their closets but broadcasting to the world their virtues!

Incidentally Weliamuna was elected to global anti-corruption Board in 2010!

In April 2015 Weliamuna said Failure to bring in 19A will be a complete reversal of people’s mandate”

The RanilW Government paid Weliamuna Rs.3.5m for a 136page report on Sri Lankan Airlines which the Airline rejected!

Weliamuna also filed petition against dissolution of Parliament in October 2018 and reinstatement of Ranil as PM. Weliamuna was sent as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia.

Top Donors in 2015: EU, Norway Foreign Ministry, Swiss Embassy, British High Commission, USAID, UNDP

Top Donors in 2016: Norway Foreign Ministry, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USAID, Soros’s Open Society, Asia Foundation

Top Donors in 2017: Norway Foreign Ministry, NED (to mobilize citizens), USAID, Soros’s Open Society

Top Donors in 2018: Norway Foreign Ministry, Asia Foundation, Soros’s Open Society, Swiss Embassy, DAI, Neelan Tiruchelvan Trust, John Keels (Integrity Idol) It is interesting to see the type of projects that these entities have funded Transparency Sri Lanka to roll out across Sri Lanka. Putting these programs on a larger platter will help understand their overall bigger objectives – something Sri Lanka’s policy makers and advisors are obviously clueless about!


There are the paragons of virtue presenting themselves as ‘civil society’. They are all well-connected & move in the same circles and funded by the same bodies. They all speak on the same topics and advocate the same themes their paymasters and donors request of them.

The groups deem it their right to impose who the voters vote for and who voters should not vote for. This is their ‘democracy’.




Shenali D Waduge

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *