Friday, June 27, 2008

Mobitel earns Rs. 500m profit in first quarter

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel has earned a profit of Rs. 500 million for the first quarter as against Rs. 250 million collected in the corresponding period last year.

Speaking at the launch of their new package SMART Freedom, Chief Executive Officer, Mobitel, Suren Ameresekera said this is an increase of over 100 per cent.

He said the company is planning to complete the installation of 2,000 towers under their fourth phase by the end of this year giving customers better coverage including the North and East.

“We have invested Rs. 400 million for these four stages,” he said.

The local mobile penetration is very high with over eight million people being connected with nearly 90 per cent being pre-paid customers.

Commenting on the SMART Freedom package targeting this segment, he said that it offers ‘free mobile democracy’ to the customers.

“This offering is a first for both South Asia and Sri Lanka in that it makes available to Mobitel SMART customers free Mobitel (M2M) traffic options which include free M2M voice calls, free M2M video calls and free M2mSMS’.

“In the past we have seen Sri Lankans using more than one mobile phone with different numbers or perhaps even switching SIM cards to find their way around the price regulations imposed by the different operators in inching towards their freedom of telephony.

Up until now, they have had to incur huge cost burdens or suffer in silence and not be able to talk to business associates, loved onces and friends.

SMART Freedom is in the enviable position of breaking down the barriers imposed on domestic calls as well as text messaging by offering free M2M and people will no longer be hassled for wanting to make a simple mobile phone call.

We believe that this the only tariff option for any truly intelligent citizen of Sri Lanka who wants to benefit from true mobile democracy by joining the SMART community.”

SMART Freedom is offered to all existing and new SMART pre-paid customers, with its tariff options designed as add-ons that can be opted on a daily or weekly basis.

These brand new tariff options have been introduced to offer greater ease for Sri Lankans enabling them to enjoy the freedom that should be part of the mobile telephony experience.

SMART package at a glance.

* FREE (24 hours of the day) outgoing and incoming M2M voice calls
* FREE (24 hours of the day) outgoing and incoming M2M video calls
* FREE (24 hours of the day) outgoing M2M SMS.
* FREE (24 hours of the day) incoming calls from any network.

Courtesy of Lake House

War as pretext: A reply - Subjective-Objective perceptions

Tisaranee Gunasekara (TG) complains that the Rajapakse Administration is using war as a pretext to cover its crimes, misdeeds and sins of commission and omission (Island, 6/15/2008). TG cites delays in printing text books, malnutrition of people, the shortage of cancer drugs at the Maharagama hospital, the blunder of creating a budget airline and finally the threat of losing GSP+ to the garment industry as examples of government's failure. She thinks allowing media freedom and appointing the Constitutional Council are immediate solutions to win over the support of IC (EU?). Were TG's accusations and proposed solutions, examples of "reasonable" public journalism? For this we need to understand the dictionary meaning of pretext.

Dictionary meaning of "pretext"

1. something that is put forward to conceal a true purpose or objective

2. an ostensible or professed purpose; an excuse

3. an effort or strategy intended to conceal something

4. something serving to conceal plans; a fictitious reason that is concocted in order to conceal the real reason

Conceal and concocted are the key words. TG has not shown that the government has given war as the reason for doing or not doing what she had cited. Her mixing of a war about to finish successfully with other problems is not justifiable. As for the CC the government is strategically trying to delay the adverse effects of a bahubootha viwasthawa which made the president a constitutional prisoner. TG is shedding crocodile tears on the future of garment factory workers, mostly girls from villages, the local counterpart of the maids and janitors exploited in Arabian houses and roads. Their plight for the past 20 years in the Colombo Region was no different from what took place in the textile mills in Manchester, England as described by Friedrich Engels in his book in 1844, "The Condition of the Working Class in England," or in Lowell, Massachusetts (USA) in the 1840 and 1850s.

The Rajapakse legacy versus UNP-SLFP-LSSP legacies

Just like the R2P group is starting HR "problems" in Sri Lanka from November 2005, TG begins her legacy tale from 2008. Sri Lanka's problems began not with MahindaR in 2005 but with the SLFP-ULF-UNP-FP in the 1960s and became chronic after the 1978 UNP landslide. Victor Ivan's book, the queen of deceit, gives a rare glimpse of sins of commission and omission of pre 2005 Sri Lankan Colombo rulers.

What did Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) inherit? For this one should start with what JRJ promised in 1977. JRJ failed in every thing he touched. He wanted a strong executive to go back to "oriental despotism." He did not want MPs to defeat government plans by taking bribes from vested interests. What did he end up with? Well he had to ask Dixit to have ship ready in case he had to escape or leave Colombo. Despite his massive majority he got MPs to sign undated resignation letters. The constitution he designed with AJ Wilson made the president a prisoner. R Premadasa faced an impeachment war! Today MahindaR is surviving by bribing MPs with ministerial jobs! Anyone who demands smaller cabinets must understand this "death trap."

JRJ's election law adjustments created a situation similar to what we see in the jungles—how wolves trying to grab the carcass eaten by a tiger or lion. Minority parties are the wolves demanding the maximum possible or impossible. On top of that no respectable person can come forward as a candidate. It is in this context one should consider the magic solution of Constitutional Council. Since crooks and thugs become MPs and political parties would they act in selecting a respectable CC or behave as a reasonable CC?

JRJ failed miserably in foreign affairs. As the Yankee Dickie he did not get a single rifle from USA. He insulted IndiraG and a car-racing-pilot-boy made him surrender and accept in 1987 an Indian formula, a formula that began with the Government of India Act of 1935. The language-based Indian formula of 1956 had been a failure in India itself. India now has 28 states and at least 31 other demands are waiting on line! Fortunately, in August 2006, guns fired at the Marvil Aru anicut stopped this Indian headache.

Sri Lanka's economic failure (what TG is complaining as books and drugs) and Sri Lanka's corruption and crime filled society today were direct results of JRJ's free market panacea. There is no country on earth which is based on the "free market" as described by Adam Smith. Sri Lanka's colonial economy gave a pattern of rich Colombo and poor villages. Freedom in 1948 was a freedom for the rich and the powerful in Colombo and in major towns. Garment factories will never help a country to have economic development. JRJ's Mahaveli acceleration was a disaster. I could not believe that the only road in the village I was born, Walana, Panadura was covered with trees and shrubs as all the resources were taken to "develop" the Mahaveli. Even the town of Panadura reminded me death, destruction and desolation.

Prabakaran's prison

MahindaR inherited from his predecessors literarily an island prison. After the infamous 2002 CFA Prabakaran's agents dispersed all over the country getting ready for the final war while Sri Lanka's president or prime minister could not even get out of their official residences without thinking about a possible bomb-death. Even their offices were not safe with infiltrators and spies.

Mahinda R's legacy- an objective look

A journalistic legacy project must begin first with an account of what the legatee inherited! If one looks at facts not from 2005 but from at least 1978 it is clear that MR will go down in history as the village man from Ruhuna who saved the island from total destruction. He was lucky to have three brothers behind him in this effort. Who is the politicians in the world who did not use his or her relatives behind the curtain if not openly when he or she was in power?

After the war is finished there is no doubt that the army will be used in developmental work with a new constitutional framework based on empowering people at the village council level. Mervin Silva and the budget airline are mistakes but how can we to expect a saint in MahindaR? Even the Mother Teresa made mistakes.

Sri Lanka has to develop as a country based on the two pillars of agriculture and agro-based industry. A blind free market system has been a failure in Sri Lanka. It is not a big deal to eradicate crime and corruption if there is the power of will. The removal of terrorism after 30 years of war will give that will power. Sri Lanka does not need the IC to dictate terms or to give favors. Sri Lanka's MR will not give the White Man a (new) burden as TG is trying to imply.

by C. Wijeyawickrema USA

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Iranian president direct authorities to facilitate investments in Sri Lanka

The president of Iran, who recently visited Sri Lanka in what was his first ever official visit to the region, has issued an order related to encouraging and supporting investments between Iran and Sri Lanka.

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Sri Lanka with a view to expanding economic relations have agreed to encourage and support mutual investments with an aim of utilizing their economic resources and potential facilities in investment and also in creating and maintaining proper conditions for encouraging investors, the official government news portal of Sri Lanka reported.

This agreement obliges both sides to support all investments made by the other side's investors and issue required licenses for the investments in accordance with their own regulations, sources added.

Other issues pertaining to the investors' requirements from the respective country will be solved as appropriate in discussion with the relevant parties.

This agreement will become operational for 10 years, 30 days after both sides have announced that it has become obligatory in their country.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bruce Fein – Panhandling in Canada

By Stephen Long, Los Angeles

Bruce Fein, former US Deputy Attorney General – what an embarrassment you are to all Americans! As if you haven’t already proven to the world that you’re nothing but a Beltway prostitute – selling your legal/lobbying services to the highest bidder, even if it’s a client who allegedly deals in terrorism, death, and destruction. Have you no shame for taking your “Tamils for Justice”/”Bruce Fein Project” on the road – to Canada, no less – to collect funds to pay your own legal fees! You’ve stooped pretty low this time, Mr. Bruce Fein. This is just about as low as a bottom-feeding lawyer can get. You stepped into the basement of morality when you crossed the Canadian border, Bruce Fein, and you have degraded not only your profession, but the Government of the United States, your former boss Ronald Reagan, and the good Tamil people you are scamming – all for lousy money for your own pocket.

If prosecuting the Rajapaksa brothers and promoting the Tamil state of Eelam are such lofty, high-minded, idealistic pursuits – why do you have to go to Canada to beg for money? Why don’t you give your services pro bono, as any other conscious, humanitarian lawyer would do? Why? Because there isn’t a humanitarian bone in your body, and you’ve proved to everyone that money is your god. Thinking about those suicide bombers, you obviously have no conscience, either.

A few questions (forgive me if I’ve missed something):

Why is the Sri Lankan Government so asleep at the switch? Why isn’t it demanding an investigation into the activities of Bruce Fein? Why doesn’t it complain to the United States government? Why don’t they have their propaganda machine (if they even have one) in full gear getting the truth out about the situation in Sri Lanka – rather than lying down at the mercy of people like Bruce Fein and LTTE public relations smear campaigns? This man’s behavior is an outrage against your sovereignty, so why don’t you do something?

Just last week the Canadian government listed the “World Tamil Movement” as an LTTE-linked organization that had been extorting money from Tamil people in Canada and funneling it to the terrorists. Great job, Canada! But a few days later Bruce Fein goes up to Canada to extort money from the same people – basically to circumvent the Canadian law! I know the Canadians are peace-loving and kind, but why do you let him do this on your soil?

Also, the American government should be investigating Bruce Fein and his activities – after all, the LTTE is a banned terrorist organization in this country, too. If we don’t have a law against someone crossing an international border to raise funds for a terrorist front organization, then we ought to. I know Bruce Fein says his organization isn’t linked to the LTTE, but I’m not the only one who smells a rat.

And can’t the American Bar Association censure this Bruce Fein, Esq. for tainting the profession with his unsavory practices? Don’t they have an ethics commission or something that regulates professional behavior? He gives the legal profession, which already has a bad image, an even worse reputation by going up to Canada to panhandle.

This guy is really bad news, and I wish I could turn on CNN or the BBC and see this Bruce Fein story blown wide open. It’s a major international story! Here is the first line: “A former US Deputy Attorney General is collecting money in a foreign country to pay his own legal fees to support an organization with alleged terrorist connections.” You can be sure that Bruce Fein is doing his best to garner support from those very same media outlets to get his message out there – particularly the one about bringing the Rajapaksa brothers and General Fonseca to trial for human rights abuses. This is the news item that he hopes will bring in the international peacekeepers, and signal the end of your country as you now know it.

Wake up and make some noise about this creep! What he’s doing isn’t right – and the world needs to know about him. A friend of mine once told me that he had heard it from a good authority that a panhandler in San Francisco, working the Union Square area, could clear $1,000 a week. If this is so, just imagine how much Bruce Fein picked up in Toronto last weekend when he fleeced the good Tamil people of that city.

Opposition party candidate Sannasgala says no to Provincial Council candidacy in Sri Lanka

June 23, Colombo: Upul Shantha Sannasgala today stated that he is not accepting to contest in the fourth coming Provincial Council Elections in Sri Lanka.

Sannasgala summoning an urgent media conference said: "I’m thankful to the United National Party Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe for inviting me to contest in the Provincial Council Elections 2008. However, I’m not accepting his offer at this moment. I’m honoured for his right decision which selected me as a candidate."

He went on to say that the offer extended by United National Party is not refused but will be with the party with plans to participate in future elections.

Sannasgala is a well known Singhala language teacher among A/L student in Sri Lanka who was behind organising a massive party on the Valentine's Day at Vihara Maha Devi Park some years back.

He was also reported to be the investor for Vimukthi Jayasundera's 'Sulanga Enu Pinisa' – a highly controversial cinema that is reported to humiliate brave Sri Lankan forces. In one scene of this movie a pregnant mother gets raped by a man wearing the clothes of a valiant solider representing the armed forces. In addition, it is also reported that he has invested for two other controversial movies by Ashoka Handagama where in one of these movies Handagama shows the nakedness of his wife. Fortunately 'Aksharaya' the second movie by Handagama which another investment of Sannasgala, which showed a sex scene of a mother with her 10 year old son was banned by the Ministry of Cultural affairs in Sri Lanka just before being released for public viewing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good news: Tamil Tiger masterminds behind Sri Lanka`s bomb blasts arrested

"Film Corporation Director" behind Colombo civilian massacres arrested

Sri Lanka police intelligence sleuths yesterday (June 20) arrested the mastermind behind recent civilian massacres carried out in Colombo and suburbs by the LTTE terrorists. According to the police sources, the terrorist has been acting as a handler of "suicide bombers" and the main distributor of bombs for the terrorist network in the South.

The suspect was found in a possession of an identity card issued to him by the National film Corporation as a film director, said the sources. Also, he was the owner of a shop at the Supermarket at Kotahena the sources added.

It was this "Film Corp. Director" who had sent the female suicide bomber on the mission that killed 14 people including seven school boys of the D.S Senanayake College at the Fort railway station on February 3rd.


Lodge manager provides accommodation to LTTE suicide bomber arrested - Colombo

The manager of a lodge who had provided accommodation to the LTTE suicide cadre who blew himself targeting Police personnel near the Sambuddhaloka Temple on Lotus road on 16th May was arrested by a special police team yesterday, June 21.

The suspect was the manager of the "Sooriyan Rest" of No 18, station road, Wellawatta and it is believed that he has close contact with Wanni LTTE leadership.

A copy of the Identity Card of the suicide cadre has also been found from the lodge while conducting a search, police sources said.


Tiger bomb squad nabbed by CID

The Special Bureau of the CID arrested six LTTE suspects, including a bomb expert and an ex-employee attached to the Colombo office of a popular Tamil MP who regularly espouses the cause of human rights violations, disappearances and abductions in Sri Lanka. The suspects, assigned by the LTTE to explode bombs targeting innocent civilians were arrested at Wattala, the defence sources told the ‘Sunday Observer’.

Colombo District UNP MP’s ex-employee identified as Nadaraja Sivaraja who worked at his Fort office had travelled to Kilinochchi several times to distribute relief during the tsunami disaster.

The sources said that he had undergone training in LTTE camps and had close connections with Soosai, LTTE Sea Tiger leader.

Nadaraja was assigned by the MP to gather information about disappearances, abductions and other human rights violations and to report them to the international community and the media while engaged in terrorist activities in the South. He had operated the propaganda campaign against Sri Lanka.