Saturday, December 20, 2008

Karu casts the die

Last week the long awaited crossover of Karu Jayasuriya finally took place. This column had been reporting for some weeks now on the developments in this regard. Hence what was surprising was not Jayasuriya’s crossover, but the fact that he went alone. That came as a surprise even to the present columnist. There were others in the UNP(D) group who were disgruntled and given that fact, we fully expected at least two or three to follow him. Jayasuriya was not really one of the disgruntled MPs and from the fact that he crossed over alone, what that clearly shows is that whatever grievances the others had was not of a magnitude to warrant a crossover.

It would appear that not one of them had been negotiating with the UNP at the same pace as Jayasuriya. Before that crucial working committee meeting last week, which reinstated Jayasuriya in the position of deputy leader, the UNP operations committee met at Sirikotha and decided to halt the disciplinary inquiry against Jayasuriya only. A little while later, the working committee met and the first item of business that Wickremesinghe brought up was to appoint Jayasuriya as the deputy leader with Rukman Senanayake as the assistant leader and Gamini Jayawickreme Perera as the party chairman.

Sarcastic banter

At this, parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera stood up and suggested that since several had applied for these posts, it would be best to hold an election within the working committee. Kolonnawa organizer and former minister Karunasena Kodituwakku spoke up against an election and said that this was a time when the party had to pull itself together and a contest for posts would create divisions. So it came to pass that Jayasuriya became deputy leader without a contest. In lighter vein, Palitha Range Bandara posed the question now that Karu Jayasuriya has been reinstated and the disciplinary proceedings against him dropped, would those who criticized Jayasuriya after he left the party now have to face disciplinary action? To this the party leader had jokingly replied that they would hold a disciplinary inquiry but instead of punishment, they would get a promotion.

Then Thalatha Arukorale chuckled that there was a problem in the Ratnapura district which still does not have a district leader and that either Susantha Punchinilame or Mahinda Ratnatilleke (Both of whom joined the government direct without being part of the UNP(D) group) be appointed to this post. To this the party leader had banteringly replied that could be done too.

The next person to stand up was parliamentarian Cader Hajjiar of Gampola. He said that he applied for the position of assistant leader and wanted to know whether he was overlooked because he was a member of a minority. To this Wickremesinghe had replied that Cader Hajjiar was the Muslim leader of the UNP and that they should discuss this after partaking of some of his delicious biriyani!

The working committee meeting lacked the solemnity that one would normally expect when they had just appointed the number two for the party. The disappointment of the younger MPs was almost palpable. What they had wanted in a deputy leader was a man who could compensate for what was lacking in the leader and could pave the way for the UNP to come into power. What they wanted was not a stop gap measure to keep Sajith and SB out but someone on whom some hope could be reposed.

On Wednesday the week before last, the UNP(D) group held their final meeting with Karu Jayasuriya in the chair. Speaking on this occasion, Rajitha Senaratne stated that they had left on the premise that they would not return so long as Ranil Wickremesinghe was the leader of the UNP. To this Jayasuriya had replied that they came to introduce reforms in the UNP. To this Senaratne replied that, that was not true and that their endeavour was to remove Ranil from the party. Secondly, Senaratne has continued, they wanted unity to save the country from the scourge of terrorism and that the government was now in the final stages of defeating the LTTE. In such a situation, Jayasuriya returning to the UNP alone was not good and that he had no right to do so.

Jayasuriya responded that he was going for a personal reason. Senaratne said that they had quit as a team and had made decisions together. Jayasuriya simply could not decamp citing personal reasons. However the UNP(D) group was not able to convince Jayasuriya to change his mind and at this stage the other members of the group instructed Senaratne to inform the president of this situation.

President unsurprised

When Senaratne went to the president, Rajapaksa was not surprised. He told Senaratne that Jayasuriya had been of such a mind for a long time. When the UNP(D) group member of Polonnaruwa, C. A. Suriyarachchi, had sent people’s representatives below him to join the SLFP, Jayasuriya had found fault with Suriyarachchi. The president had then realised that Jayasuriya was going to return to the UNP sooner or later. The president stated that he did not ask people to come nor has he asked anyone to go and if Karu was going, he would wish him all the best. Karu also should think about his own future.

On Monday, the UNP working committee decided to re-appoint Jayasuriya as the deputy leader and Jaysuriya requested an appointment with the president on Tuesday to keep him posted. At this meeting with the president, he said that he is going to return to his ‘mahagedara’ and that he is grateful to the president for the manner in which he was treated from the day he joined the government, that he had been given a responsible ministry and had been allowed a free hand to work. Their friendship should continue and that he (the president) was a good hearted person and a patriot.

The president thanked Jayasuriya for having supported the government and brought 16 other UNP members to the government. He also said that when Jayasuriya joined the government, the UNP launched a mud-slinging campaign against him (Karu) and they mentioned the IOC deal, the Lanka Marine Services deal and the COPE report and called him a rogue. Rajapaksa said that he would see to it that nobody in the government slings mud at Jayasuriya when he goes back to the UNP. The president then wished Jayasuriya all the best and they parted company, after which the president went to see the other 16 members of the UNP(D) group who were waiting for him in a different room. The first thing the president told the 16 was that their leader had just spoken to him and left.

This was the most civilized parting of ways that had taken place in local politics in recent times. In late 2001, when the UNP was negotiating with potential crossovers from the PA government, it was done in the utmost secrecy. Most of the time negotiations were carried out inside vehicles with Gamini Atukorale driving and Karu Jayasuriya seated in front with Rajitha Senaratne and the jittery potential crossover sitting uneasily in the rear seat. The discussions were carried out with the vehicle parked in the dark and the negotiators would not use the same mobile phone twice – so great was the need for secrecy because the crossovers feared for their very lives.

But Jayasuriya’s impending crossover was discussed for weeks in the press without any threats being directed at him. And the government has shown no interest in slinging mud at him either. That shows how times have changed. When Karu J joined the government less than two years ago, parliament resounded to cries of ‘hora’ aimed at Jayasuriya and the story floated by the UNP was that he joined the government to escape prosecution over the Lanka Marine Services deal which was exposed by COPE. That too shows how times have changed. When a group of UNPers among whom were Dr Sarath Amunugama, Wijepala Mendis, Dr Stanley Kalpage and others joined the government, in 1999, at the height of Chandrika Kumaratunga’s power, the UNP uttered not a word against them.

Jayasuriya’s consistency

It must of course be said that from the day he crossed over, Jayasuriya was consistent in one thing and that was that he was not going to join the SLFP. When the president invited members of the UNP(D) group to become SLFP organizers and start work, there was no response from Jayasuriya so his crossover could not have come as a surprise to the president. Jayasuriya too for his part made it an amicable parting by voting with the government at the budget one last time before he left. After Jayasuriya left the government, the UNP put out a letter of resignation purported to be written by Jayasuriya which said among other things that he was leaving the government because the only person who can uplift the economy of the country was Ranil wickremesinghe. When news about this began to circulate, the president called Jayasuriya and asked him about this purported letter of resignation and Jayasuriya’s reply was that he knew nothing about it and that it could be a gimmick of the UNP media unit.

How Karu Jayasuriya is going to fare in the UNP is the million dollar question. Today, he has been taken back to the UNP as deputy leader in order to thwart S. B. Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa who were both eying that post. In fact for Wickremesinghe, it was providential that Jayasuriya returned at the time that he did because the week before last, three parliamentarians had come forward and recommended Sajith Premadasa’s name in writing for the position of deputy leader. S.B.Dissanayake had announced his own candidature and asked for a secret ballot within the working committee and some other parliamentarians had suggested Vajira Abeywardene’s name and the battle lines were drawn. If Wickremesinghe did not fill those posts quickly, matters would have come to a head and Wickremesinghe would have been compelled to allow a vote within the working committee to select a deputy leader. As this column has pointed out on numerous occasions, Wickremesinghe would not wish the appointment of a deputy leader to slip from his hands because that would be the beginning of the end as far as his hold over the UNP was concerned.

Sajith Premadasa, one of the key contenders for the post, was present at last week’s working committee meeting which decided to re-appoint Karu Jayasuriya but he did not say a word. S. B. Dissanayake the other key contender was not present at all because he would have wanted to avoid saying either yes or no to Karu J if a vote was taken in the working committee on the matter. To many in the UNP working committee his re-appointment was a joke. The banter and sarcastic cross talk was such that it can be said that there was not the solemnity to be seen when such important appointments are made. Things may be quiet for the moment, but the present columnist would confidently predict that after the Central Province and Wayamba elections are over, the UNP will begin discussing this appointment anew.

SB to the rescue

Jayasuriya was never taken seriously by Wickremesinghe’s inner circle even in the best of times. If one peruses past issues of the most pro-UNP newspapers during the UNP regime of 2001-2004, one will come across many uncomplimentary things said about Jayasuriya when he was a senior minister in the UNP government and the deputy leader of the party getting over a quarter of a million preference votes at the elections. To give just one example of how he was treated at the height of the UNP’s power, there was a meeting of the UNP government’s cost of living committee sometime in late 2002. Karu Jayasuriya was chairing the meeting and Charitha Ratwatte the then Secretary of the Treasury and Ministers, S.B.Dissanayake, Bandula Gunawardene and Milinda Moragoda among others were present.

Jayasuriya told Ratwatte who is a close Wickremsinghe protégé, that the cost of living has to be brought down. Pat came the answer from Ratwatte that there is a way to do it. Jayasuriya asked how and Ratwatte said that allocations to his ministry could be cut and the monies saved could be utilized to subsidize essential commodities. Jayasuriya, who is usually slow on the uptake in such matters, had naively asked by what percentage his allocations needed to be cut and Ratwatte’s triumphant answer was one hundred percent!

A horrified Jayasuriya had exclaimed, "How can you do that?" S.B.Dissanayake, who had been listening to this exchange between Jayasuriya and Ratwatte, unable to bear the presumptuous attitude of the Treasury Secretary, had pitched into Ratwatte reminding him that he was only an official and that everybody else present were ministers. He should remember that he was talking to the deputy leader of the UNP and a senior minister. Dissanayake, true to form, had then proceeded to give Ratwatte a mighty dressing down questioning among other things, even his educational qualifications, with Dissanayake stating that he has a ‘class’ (meaning that he passed his degree with merit) whereas Ratwatte has nothing of the sort. It was Dissanayake who rescued Jayasuriya that day from the bullying of a Wickremesinghe protégé. Thus ended the UNP’s cost of living cabinet sub-committee.

When R. Premadasa was the second in command of the UNP, no official would have dared to talk to him like that and when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the second in command of the D.B.Wijetunga government, no official would have dared to talk like that to him either.

Delusions of grandeur

That was when Jayasuriya was riding high. But now that he has returned to the party after having defected to the government and lost much of his credibility in the process of switching sides, how he will be treated is a moot point. What we can say about this whole sorry episode is that all this is the result of promoting non-politicians to political posts. Jayasuriya was one of the first such appointments that Wickremesinghe made. When people are catapulted to positions in that manner, it is not long before they begin to think of themselves differently. Jayasuriya became Mayor of Colombo in 1997. By 2001, he had become deputy leader of the party and was declaring during a meeting convened at Ravi Karunanayke’s house that D.S.Senanayake had appeared to him in a dream and told him to take over the party! Jaysuriya was always a nice man even before he entered politics and nobody has a bad word against him. But leadership is not his forte. He took 17 people out of the UNP and returned alone – that’s not leadership!

When Chandrika Kumaratunga left the SLFP in 1984 and returned around 1993, she brought back not only those who had left, but many more besides. When she came back, she was leading a splinter group the Bahujana Nidahas Peramuna. But the leader of the BNP became president and she made the deputy leader of this splinter group Ratnasiri Wickremenayake the prime minister and all other office bearers of her tiny party became ministers under her. It was with her that the LSSP and the CP in addition to one faction of the SLMP came back to the SLFP. That was leadership.

It’s a tragedy that political animals like Rajitha Senaratne who have been in politics from their students days and in the Janawegaya group of the SLFP have had to be under the leadership of political newcomers like Jayasuriya. Such things can happen only within the UNP. It’s unthinkable for even Harry Jayawardene who has for long been associated with the SLFP to solemnly declare to an audience of SLFP parliamentarians that either Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike or S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike appeared to him in a dream and wanted him to take over the party.

‘Kurullo ranchuwa’

When the JVP politburo met last week, the first topic taken up for discussion was the crossover of Jayasuriya to the UNP. Commenting on this, JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that Karu Jayasuriya was going back to the UNP and that the true colours of those who joined the government to strengthen the hands of the president was only now becoming evident. Parliamentarian K.D.Lal Kantha said that this government was a bundle of contradictions, with theoreticians of the open economy and advocates of a national economy and committed federalists and vehement anti-terrorism activists all sitting together. This was not a government that had come together on a matter of principle. Vijitha Herath said that this government was like a flock of birds sitting on the same branch and any bird was free to fly off to another branch at any moment. Anura Dissanayake said that Karu has no shame, the government has no shame, Ranil has no shame, and what this episode shows is the absolute shamelessness of all these people.

Lal Kantha said that some government big shots were talking nonsense by saying that they were not going in for a parliamentary election at this stage in order to help the JVP. This was a joke in the context where the government failed to adhere to even basic political courtesies with regard to the parliamentary seat vacated by Wasantha Samarasinghe. This was a reference to the comments made at the last meeting of the government parliamentary group by the president saying that he had been helped by the JVP to come into power and that if he dissolves parliament at this time, the JVP stands to lose many of the parliamentary seats they have at the moment and also the sitting MPs would not qualify for a pension. Therefore he had to wait at least until April 2009 before going for a dissolution of parliament.

Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath presented the interim report of the parliamentary select committee on non-governmental organizations to the politburo and said that many NGOs had done things inimical to national security and that there were serious financial irregularities in some organizations. Herath reported that they had suggested that a presidential commission be appointed to look into the activities of NGOs. He stated that there was the possibility of this report also being swept under the carpet like the COPE report and that the JVP should build up public opinion to prevent such a thing from happening.

Last Monday morning, when the JNP (Weerawansa faction) parliamentary group met in parliament, they were aware that Karu Jayasuriya was on the verge of re-joining the UNP and they decided to vote for the budget. The JNP pointes out that had they not voted for the budget, the 126 votes received by the government would have gone down to 114 and had Jayasuriya voted against the budget, it would have gone down to 113 and this would have given ideas to those within the government who want to see the UNP back in power. When the JNP politburo met last week, the main topic once again was Jayasuriya’s crossover.

Parliamentarian Nandana Gunatilleke said that Jayasuriya’s original promise was that he would support the government until the LTTE was defeated once and for all. But now, at a crucial stage when the battle has entered the final phase, his return to the UNP is the result of an international conspiracy and that an international conspiracy has been launched to safeguard the LTTE. Parliamentarian Mohamed Muzammil said that the JNP should have a discussion with the president about this national and international conspiracy and that if necessary the JNP should consider direct involvement in the UPFA government.

(Quoted from Sunday Island paper)

Troops move forward from Paranthan defence bund - Wanni Operation - 19 Dec 2008

Parliament has the control over Public Finance

Chapter XVII - Article 148 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka 1978 states:

Parliament shall have full control over public finance. No tax, rate on any other levy shall be imposed by any local authority or any other public authority, except by or under the authority of a law passed by Parliament or of any existing law.

Only the Cabinet and the Parliament have rights to decide on imposing taxes, Sri Lanka government says

Dec 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka government today stressed that the Cabinet and the Parliament only have rights to decide on imposing taxes in the country.

Speaking at a press briefing held in Colombo this morning Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that nobody could interfere with this right.

Responding to a question made by the journalists on clash between the government and the Supreme Courts on fuel issue the Minister added that the price of petrol will remain unchanged.

According to the Minister the current fuel shortage was made by the shed owners and the main opposition to collapse the government.

Addressing the same press briefing the Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa also confirmed that the price of petrol will remain unchanged at least until next Wednesday. The Cabinet is to take up the issue on next Tuesday (23) when they meet again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SL Troops Captured LTTE Defence Lines in Kilinochchi

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday that the forces have captured critical Tamil Tiger fortifications in the rebels' de facto capital of Kilinochchi amid heavy clashes between the two sides.

The Sri Lankan military said that a 17-km long ditch barrier around Kilinochchi was seized and would help clear the way for a final assault on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants in the area. This would force them to seek refuge in a small area in their capital, reports said.

Other sections of the lengthy fortifications are reportedly in the rebels' hands. Though the military had earlier said that Kilinochchi would be captured soon, the heavy rains and the rebels' resistance are reportedly keeping the government forces from taking over the town.

A defense ministry report said that the military carried out at least 10 bombing sorties against Tamil Tiger positions Wednesday. The rebels on the other hand claimed that the government attack was repelled and more than 170 soldiers were killed in the clashes.

The LTTE has been fighting a fierce military campaign against the Sri Lankan government forces for more than two decades for a separate homeland for the minority Tamil community in the country.

“Suriya Sinha” Awards Presented by Mawbima Lanka Foundation

“Suriya Sinha” Awards, an annual awards ceremony of the Mawbima Lanka Foundation was held at the BMICH last morning (18).

The event saw 46 Sri Lankan home grown corporates being awarded brand names while 300 were presented with Suriya Sinha Award. ITN and Lakhanda Radio were honoured for their media role on innovations.

The website was also launched.

Chairman Maubima Lanka Foundation, Ariyaseela Wickrmanayake said Sri Lanka has spent Rs. 30billion for the import of milk when the country can be self-sufficient. There has been a 15 per cent increase of milk production after the ban of slaughter of cows from last year. "Milk production is a major contributor to the New Zealand’s GDP and 85 per cent of their produce is for export. With the present initiative taken I am sure Sri Lanka will be self sufficient in milk in five years. Similarly Sri Lanka can be self sufficient in sugar and many other imported commodities,” he said.

He also said the telecommunication industry had revenue in the excess of Rs. 8 billion and appealed for the companies to reduce tariff. He appealed from the users to use a handset for a longer period to cut foreign exchange flowing to foreign manufacturers. He appealed from the public to buy Sri Lankan products thus saving foreign exchange, encouraging entrepreneurs and strengthening Sri Lankan economy.

The Minister Kumara Welgama addressing the ceremony said that the Government was implementing a major programme for the well being of the local industrialists. This he said had been consolidated through the Budget.

It was also mentioned that President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the last budget travelling in a locally assembled Micro car powered by locally made Ethanol.

Monk Parliamentarian the Ven. Athureliya Ratana thera on behalf of the Hela Urumaya, Parliamentarian Gayantha Karunatilake on behalf of the UNP and Parliamentarian Nandana Gunatilake representing the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna also expressed their views.

Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Parliamentarian Jayalath Jayawardena, Chairman of the Strategic Enterprise Management Agency Willie Gamage, Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Development R.V.D. Jayatillake, Chairman of Mawbima Lanka Foundation Ariyasheela Wickramanayake and Dr. Wasantha Bandara were present.

SAARC leaders should act quickly to regain the region for the People

SPUR (Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka Inc)
Reg: A003 0777 M
P.O. Box 4066, Mulgrave VIC 3170, Australia
Phone: (03) 9795 7143 Fax: (03) 9795 7142

18 December 2008


SAARC leaders should act quickly to regain the region for the People

The terrorist attack in Mumbai, Islamabad and the war in Sri Lanka should be a clarion call for the leaders and the people in SAARC countries to resolve that urgent attention is required to crucially important security issues.

We are happy to endorse the timely proposal of the Editorial Board of the Asian Tribune made on17 December 2008, requesting the SAARC leaders to urgently convene a summit meeting.

Compared to other international regional organizations SAARC has been rather slow to realize the importance of working as a team in spite of pressing bilateral and multilateral issues, especially the burgeoning economic problems consequent on the world economic meltdown, directly affecting the billions of people making up the population of SAARC countries.

Suspicion of each other among some of the countries and the “beggar my neighbour” policy followed by some factions within countries in the region have made it very easy for outside forces, including groups who depend on armed violence, to destabilize the region. Some international powers are fishing in the troubled waters in the region using foreign funding to leverage global political objectives.

SAARC countries have a combined population of 1,397,007,904, which provides a strong regional market as well as a possible source of unrest, if the socio-economic issues are not managed effectively. The SAARC region is strategically located in proximity to sea routes connecting the oil fields in the Middle East to the East Asian markets and abutting geopolitically important Russia and China. The agricultural resources in the region, if managed properly and tackled to encourage intra-regional economic relationship can boost the economy of the member countries while promoting regional identity.

The leaders in the SAARC region should send a message of hope to their citizens rather than score points at each other’s expense. With the whole of India almost going into a state of shock when a few terrorists held Bombay to ransom, the Indian leaders and her people should consider that the time is ripe to build a strong chain of regional friendship. The political custodians of SAARC member countries should think of creating opportunities to bestow the region’s potential to its millions of people.

We request the President of Sri Lanka to take the initiative and confer with the other leaders at a summit meeting to take crucial decisions effectively by recognising the critical message relayed by terrorism, armed violence ignited by cross-border gangs aided by international players.

We trust that the SAARC leaders will grasp the complexities of the urgent issues facing the region and move ahead as a formidable team

Yours truly

Ranjith Soysa

Mohan Pieris sworn in as new Attorney General

President's Counsel Mohan Pieris was sworn in as Attorney General before President Mahinda Rajapaksa at President's House today (18).

He filled the vacancy created by the retirement of Mr. C.R. de Silva and will serve as the 25th Attorney General of Sri Lanka.

Until his appointment today, Mr. Pieris was an Attorney at Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka practicing as a counsel in the original and appellate courts in the areas of inter alia, administrative law, commercial law, fundamental rights, industrial law, injunctions and criminal law, Counsel in arbitrations and as Arbitrator.

He holds a Diploma in Trial Advocacy Skills conferred by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy at its Teacher Training Trial Advocacy workshop at Harvard Law School, Cambridge ,Massachusetts 1988.

Mr. Pieris represented Sri Lanka at 10th International Symposium on Economic Crime conducted by the Centre for Police and Criminal Justice Studies. University of Exeter at Jesus College, Cambridge 1992.

He participated in a Technical Cooperation Programme on New Approaches in Foreign Investment Analysis and Negotiations conducted by the Agency for International Development of the United States of America 1992 and was the Sri Lanka delegate at the 50th Anniversary of the Wars Convention at the International Civil Aviation Organization, Moneral Canada - 1992.

(Government of Sri Lanka)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Response to Tamilnet by Ambassador Blake

I was disappointed to read on Tamilnet criticism of the US Government’s programs to help stabilize and develop Eastern Sri Lanka. Since there is no mechanism to respond to Tamilnet, I thought I would use the Embassy’s blog to respond to some of the incorrect assertions in the Tamilnet article.

First, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP asserts in the Tamilnet article that Washington’s purpose in our programs for the east is to, “help Colombo make majoritarian inroads into the east.” This is incorrect. We have specifically established the goal of fostering economic development, good governance and stability while preserving the existing ethnic balance in the east. It is well known that the east is one of Sri Lanka’s poorest provinces and that poverty and lack of adequate economic opportunity are principal drivers of conflict. One of the best ways to address such poverty is to establish programs that will link new businesses in the East with the country’s principal markets in the western and other parts of the country. Indeed, USAID’s Connecting Regional Economies program in the East has five goals:

- First, support livelihood development for vulnerable populations;
- Second, promote the development of agriculture-based value chains;
- Third, ensure that groups in conflict-affected areas benefit from participation in these value chains and our other efforts;
- Fourth, implement a workforce development strategy;
- and finally promote a business enabling environment. (click here for more info)

The Member of Parliament also alleges that that U.S. development initiatives “ take place through direct collaboration between the American agency and the ministries of Sri Lanka, sidelining the provincial council.” This also is incorrect. While we of course coordinate with the central government as we would in any country, none of our money goes through the central government. Rather, it goes directly to U.S. and/or Sri Lankan organizations working in the east to implement our programs. Furthermore, one of the goals of our “Supporting Regional Governance” program in the East is to improve the capacity and governance of the Eastern Provincial Council and local government authorities. Specifically, this program aims to support and facilitate increased citizen engagement in regional and local government, strengthen inter-community reconciliation, and promote social equality by, for example, promoting citizen interaction with government institutions, and strengthening the capacity of journalists and media outlets in the East.

Lastly, the MP alleges that America’s program in the east will only “add to the ethnic conflict in the island.” He says “meaningful development of the east can take place only after a substantial political solution to the Tamil national question.” We agree that a political solution is necessary (click here for my recent speech to the American Chamber of Commerce), but we do not agree that meaningful development can take place only after a political solution is agreed upon. It is important to give the people of the east the opportunity now to obtain vocational training and sustainable private sector jobs. Such sustainable livelihood opportunities are an essential part of ensuring stability and development so that the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities in the East can rebuild their lives and cooperate with each other to help the East realize its potential.

(US Embassy Colombo)

Paranthan earth bund captured and fighting goes on amid heavy rains - Wanni Operation - 17 Dec 2008

Heavy fighting erupts at outskirts of Kilinochchi - Wanni Operation - 16 Dec 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reporters Without Borders - exposing their Borders: What price “Freedom of the Press”?

World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka
PO Box 4066, Mulgrave VIC 3170, Australia
Phone: +61 3 9548 0276 Fax: +61 3 9584 0276


Reporters Without Borders - exposing their Borders: What price “Freedom of the Press”?

Reporters Without Borders have taken umbrage at the Sri Lanka government’s action in blocking out the BBC Sinhala service “Sandeshaya” programme rebroadcast by SLBC.

The Sri Lankan Diaspora welcomes this move by the Sri Lanka Government and the SLBC. This has been a long time coming.

The BBC Sinhala service, on many an occasion gave the impression that it was no more than another propaganda arm of the LTTE from the time Vasantha Rajah hijacked the programme. Subsequently, more inexperienced journalists involved in this programme worked towards the very same objectives.

In keeping with the Vasantha Rajah practice, the present BBC Sinhala service journalist, of questionable ethnic background whose past work experience in a notorious pro-separatist publishing house in Sri Lanka offers no credibility, has been fabricating news to help the Tamil Tiger terrorist cause.

His latest tactic of comparing Sri Lanka to Somalia using a WFP (World Food Programme) representative boomeranged on the BBC, when the WFP apologized to Sri Lanka denying the story. Unfortunately, by that time the Tamil Net and other NGO websites had already used the BBC’s white lie. This blunder has brought even more disrepute to the already questionable standards of the BBC ‘s SINHALA programme.

Further, your unfounded concerns about the judgement handed down by the Courts against the Editor of The Leader newspaper in Sri Lanka places a question mark about your impartiality. Whilst exposing your duplicitous actions, this has served to confirm your inability to sift right from wrong. Your recent statement has indicated scant regard for the Democratically elected multiethnic Government of Sri Lanka, which is indeed unbecoming of a supposedly well recognized organization of journalists. This manner of behaviour is totally inappropriate and unacceptable in this day and age.

If your organization,” Reporters Without Borders” are champions of truly democratic, ethical journalism, perhaps you might like to consider writing a factual article on the heinous barbaric terrorist acts perpetrated by the Tamil Tiger terrorists in Sri Lanka and how they suppress public opinion. Then perhaps we may be able to accept you as a vibrant body.

The LTTE has given a new meaning to the word ‘Infantry– by making pawns of children as young as eight years, abducted by them mostly at gunpoint from schools and homes, to fight as foot soldiers in their despicable terrorist war that mainly targets civilians: women, men, children, old people. religious dignitaries and democratic opinion makers.

Did your organisation take action when the LTTE supporters in Canada targeted Stewart Bell of the National Post when he published revealing investigative reports on their activities undermining the peaceful and democratic way of life in Canada and exposed the true nature of their so-called charities that raised millions of dollars for the LTTE terrorist coffers?

How about Paul Harris another well-known investigative reporter? Did your organisation come to his defence when he became a target of the LTTE’s ire at his revealing reports on their terrorist activities?

What were Reporters Without Borders doing when Tamil writers such as Rajini Thiranagama were murdered by the LTTE and many a Tamil journal was forced to stop publication, including Tamil journals published in foreign countries?

One-sided championing of “Press Freedom” with a bias seemingly favouring the Tamil terrorist cause only exposes the true nature of Reporters Without Borders. In contradistinction to their name, they appear to carry on a surreptitious sweeping campaign to safeguard the interests of Tamil Tiger terrorists of the LTTE and their fronts at the expense of Democratically elected Government. This manner of action is certainly not geared to preserve Press Freedom in its true sense and it will be helpful if the above facts were given consideration by your organization.

Jeanne Jayasinghe
Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Surrendered LTTE cadres speak - Wanni Operation - 15 Dec 2008

'Rakna Arakshaka' launches new web site

( Adding more value to the services offered, the government owned commercial security service' 'Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd', launched a new web site '' today (Dec 15).

The Secretary Ministry of Defence, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, launched the web site ceremonially at the MOD premises this afternoon. The new web site will provide latest information related to the services rendered, important contacts and a window for feedbacks.

Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited is a government, owned commercial Security Venture functioning directly under the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order. This was established under the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, with the prime objective of providing a commercial security service for the protection of public and private institutions.

Major General (Retired) Palitha Fernando USP, psc, and CEO 'Rakna Arakshaka', Major General (Retired) K. B. Egodawala, were also present at the event.

Human Rights Watch: Tamil Tigers Abuse Civilians in Stronghold

Forced Recruitment, Restrictions on Movement Put Lives at Risk

December 15, 2008

The LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil people, but it is responsible for much of the suffering of civilians in the Vanni. As the LTTE loses ground to advancing government forces, their treatment of the very people they say they are fighting for is getting worse
Brad Adams, Asia director

(New York) Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers are subjecting ethnic Tamils in their northern stronghold, the Vanni, to forced recruitment, abusive forced labor, and restrictions on movement that place their lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 17-page report, "Trapped and Mistreated: LTTE Abuses against Civilians in the Vanni," details how the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which have been fighting for an independent Tamil state for 25 years, are brutally abusing the Tamil population in areas under their control.

"The LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil people, but it is responsible for much of the suffering of civilians in the Vanni," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "As the LTTE loses ground to advancing government forces, their treatment of the very people they say they are fighting for is getting worse."

In the face of an ongoing government military offensive, the LTTE has increased the pressure on the civilian population under its control. Having long used a coercive pass system to prevent civilians from leaving areas it controls, the LTTE has now completely prohibited movement out of the Vanni, except for some medical emergencies. By refusing to allow displaced persons to leave for government-held territory, the group has severely restricted their access to essential humanitarian relief. Only about a thousand people have managed to flee the conflict zone since March 2008.

"By refusing to allow people their basic rights to freedom of movement, the LTTE has trapped hundreds of thousands of civilians in a dangerous war zone," said Adams.

The LTTE has a long history of forced recruitment. There has been a dramatic increase in the practice of compelling young men and women, including children, to join their forces. The group has recently gone beyond its long-standing "one person per family" forced recruitment policy in the territory it controls and now sometimes requires two or more family members to join its ranks.

"Trapped in the LTTE's iron fist, ordinary Tamils are forcibly recruited as fighters and forced to engage in dangerous labor near the front lines," said Adams.

While increased international pressure and other factors had led to a decrease in its recruitment of children, recent reports indicate that the group has stepped up child recruitment in the Vanni. LTTE cadres have urged 14- to 18-year-olds at schools to join. The group often sends 17-year-olds for military training, apparently calculating that by the time such cases are reported to protection agencies, the youths will have turned 18 and no longer be considered child soldiers.

"Last year they were taking the people born in 1990 - now those born in 1991," a humanitarian official from the Vanni told Human Rights Watch. "They look at the family identity cards and take the young ones. If people of military age go into hiding, they will take younger children or the father, until they get the boys or girls they want."

During the past 25 years, the LTTE has killed large numbers of civilians, committed political assassinations in Sri Lanka and abroad, and carried out suicide bombings. It has systematically eliminated most political opposition within the minority Tamil community and is responsible for killing many journalists and members of rival organizations. In the areas under its control, the LTTE has ruled through fear, denying basic freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and movement.

In "Trapped and Mistreated," Human Rights Watch calls upon the LTTE to:

  • Stop preventing civilians from leaving areas under its control; respect the right to freedom of movement of civilians, including the right of civilians to move to government-controlled territory for safety;

  • Stop all forced recruitment into the LTTE; end all abductions and coercion;

  • End all recruitment of children under the age of 18; cease the use of children in military operations; release all child combatants currently in its ranks, as well as all persons who were recruited when children but are now over the age of 18;

  • Stop all abusive or unpaid forced labor, including labor it characterizes as "voluntary"; cease demanding that all families provide labor to the LTTE; stop forcing civilians to engage in labor directly related to the conduct of military operations, such as constructing trenches and bunkers;

  • Provide humanitarian agencies and UN agencies safe and unhindered access to areas under the LTTE's control, and guarantee the security of all humanitarian and UN workers, including Vanni residents working as humanitarian or UN staff.

Full Report Here

Monday, December 15, 2008

kilinochchi within eyesight - Wanni Operation - 14 Dec 2008

A Humble Appeal to our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh

by Front Against Terrorism, Mumbai

There are many instances in the World history where well educated and matured Prime Ministers and Presidents of various countries have made wrong decisions and serious blunders, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or by an oversight, causing significant downfall and irreversible damages to those countries. India has now reached a similar critical stage.

The Sri Lankan Government is in the process of systematically and successfully eliminating the terrorism from their soil and liberating the innocent Tamil civilians being held by the LTTE (better known as Tamil Tigers) as a human shield against their wish. We regret that the pro-LTTE politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu are pressurizing our Prime Minister Shri Dr Manmohan Singh to pressurize the Sri Lanka Government to enter into a ceasefire agreement (CFA) with the world's deadliest terrorist organization, the LTTE.

It is a well known open secret that it is India who created the LTTE for reasons known only to late Prime Minster of India Mrs Indira Gandhi and her close associates. It is a fact and not a fiction. It is a shame for India to commit such a crime against our own neighbor, people of Sri Lanka. In fact, India should be held directly responsible and accountable for the enormous damages done to property, infrastructure facilities and loss of human lives (grandparents, pregnant women, toddlers etc) during the past three decades. Frankly speaking, India should have compensated them. Sri Lankans are too polite. Otherwise, they would have gone to the international courts seeking compensation from India. India has done enough damages to our neighboring country Sri Lanka unnecessarily. Now, it is the time to STOP it.

During the past three decades, the people of Sri Lanka, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have suffered enough from the terrorist activities of the LTTE. Only a person who has seen the horrible scenes following either a bomb blast or a suicide attack could comprehend it. I have witnessed the consequences of terrorism three weeks ago when terrorists attacked my home city, Mumbai. I have seen innocent people screaming, unconscious, dead and blown to pieces. Hon Prime Minister; You may have not seen those suffering from your own eyes. That should not have happened anywhere in the world, even to an animal. At a time when Sri Lanka is about to eliminate LTTE terrorists following a prolonged period of suffering, it is unfortunate to see that few selfish politicians in South India, once again, are stepping out to drag Sri Lanka back to suffering by taking unnecessary actions, which will definitely help the LTTE and also the separatist movements in India.

Hon Prime Minister; you may recall that V. Gopalsamy (better known as VaiKo), glorified the terror act of LTTE when they attacked the Colombo International Airport in Sri Lanka. It is on record; while addressing the public at a meeting, Vaiko declared, 'the boys were all less than 20 years old, entered the airport with ease, devastated many air-crafts, and caused extensive damage to the air-port. I am proud of the boys, since after causing huge loss all the boys returned safely without any loss of life'. Hon Prime Minister; Do you approve this criminal statement?

Soon after the failed assassination bid of former President of Sri Lanka, Mrs Chandrika Kumarathunga, the racist pro-LTTE politician Vaiko publically said "She needs to be lucky every time, but we need to be lucky only once". Do you understand the hidden meaning of this criminal statement? Hon Prime Minister; Do you approve this criminal statement?

These two criminal statements should be more than enough to refresh your memory if you have forgotten the true colors of Vaiko. Now, it is the same Vaiko and the gang who are demanding you to pressurize the Sri Lankan Government. Has Sri Lankan Government ever pressurized Indian Government on our internal affairs? No. So, if that is the case, why should the Indian Government pressurize the Sri Lankan Government on their internal affairs? Is it fair? Let them handle their own business, internal affairs etc. In this particular case, the Sri Lankan Government has proven without any doubt that they can successfully resolve this issue by themselves provided that other countries do not interfere. The leader of the LTTE, mass murderer, Velupillai Pirapaharan is wanted by INTERPOL. Are you aware Pirapaharan is wanted by India too for the assassination of our former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi ? Under these circumstances, I cannot understand how a person like you, the Prime Minister of India, has not rejected the demands by Vaiko and the gang? In fact, you should have immediately ordered Indian law enforcement authorities to arrest Vaiko and the gang under the prevailing laws in India.

We are proud of your recent statement made at the Lok Sabha, "There are no good terrorists and bad terrorists." Yes, terrorism any where is terrorism everywhere. Nothing could justify the killing of innocent civilians and the wanton destruction of property including national assets. We expect you to implement your statement, not only to India, but also to other countries including Sri Lanka.

Hon Prime Minister; In the name of humanity, our humble appeal to you is:

  • India has produced her greatest sons such as Mahathma Gandhi and Jawarlahal Nehru. Follow their foot-steps;

  • Our former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did the worst crime in the contemporary history to our friendly neighboring country Sri Lanka by breeding, nurturing and training the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Indian soil perhaps to destabilize the economically emerging Sri Lanka; Do not repeat the same crime again; Now you have the opportunity to undo it;

  • Leave party politics aside, do not surrender to the racist and unfair demands by pro-LTTE Tamil politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu;

  • People of Sri Lanka too are innocent human beings; Sri Lanka and India are blood relatives. We share common values and culture. Do not show the strength of your mussels to them; Practice the teachings of India's icon, her greatest son, Mahatma Gandhi;

  • Sri Lanka is systematically and successfully eliminating the terrorism from her soil. Please leave them alone; do not interfere with their internal matters; Help them, if our assistance is sought by the Sri Lankan Authorities.

At this critical juncture, the whole civilized world is watching your actions. India's future and credibility are in your hands. Please do not let down India, the people of India and Indians successfully living in other parts of the world, in front of the civilized world community.

Thank you.

Dr. Ravi Malhotra
President, Front Against Terrorism (FAT)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The LTTE and Higher Studies in kilinochchi - Wanni Operation - 13 Dec 2008

Sri Lanka Allows Rupee Drop to Boost Exports, Central Bank Says

Dec. 11 -- Sri Lanka is allowing the rupee to decline at a faster pace, responding to exporters’ demand for a weaker currency to help weather the global economic slump, the central bank said.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka this week scaled back intervention aimed at stemming the rupee’s decline, Nandalal Weerasinghe, the chief economist based in Colombo, said in an interview. Foreign-exchange reserves are being exhausted and now may be enough to pay for less than three months of imports, according to Asian Development Bank estimates. Exports fell by the most in two years in September, partly as the island’s currency gained against that of India.

“There’s a huge demand from exporters to allow depreciation because our exports of tea, rubber and coconuts have been affected” by the global slowdown, Weerasinghe said yesterday. “We also took into consideration the fact that our currency appreciated against our competitors.”

Sri Lanka’s rupee has weakened 1 percent since Dec. 5 to 111.25 per dollar, heading for the second-biggest weekly loss this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The central bank kept its currency stable in the first 10 months of this year before a devaluation of 1.8 percent on Oct. 30.

The local currency climbed 21.2 percent this year against the Indian rupee and 6.4 percent against the ringgit.

Sri Lanka competes with India in overseas sales of tea, the island-nation’s second-biggest export earner after apparels. Overseas sales, which account for a quarter of the economy, fell 9.4 percent in September.

Weerasinghe didn’t say how long the central bank will allow the currency to slide.

Slowing exports and inflation that has exceeded 20 percent have forced Sri Lankan companies, including tea producers, to cut production. The central bank expects the $32 billion economy will expand at the slowest pace in four years in 2008.

‘Managed Floating’

Sri Lanka’s central bank will continue to intervene to limit volatility in the local currency, Weerasinghe said. Monetary authorities intervene in currency markets by arranging sales or purchases of foreign exchange.

“We’ve been having this managed floating system since 2001” in the currency market, he said. “Although we have maintained a floating currency, the central bank always intervenes if there’s excess volatility. If there’s large fluctuation or volatility, we will still intervene.”

The bank has already spent a “large part” of its foreign currency reserves to keep the currency stable in the past two months as the global credit crisis stoked financial market volatility worldwide, Weerasinghe said.

The country’s foreign currency reserves were at $3.19 billion at the end of September, according to government data. Pakistan’s foreign reserves dropped to less than $5 billion before it sought a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund in October.


Karunanidhi not a Tamilian, says Swamy

CHENNAI: Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy on Thursday remarked that Chief Minister Karunanidhi made the “ridiculous comments on AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa to hide the fact that he himself is not a Tamil at all and, in fact, had migrated from Andhra Pradesh.’’

In a statement, he said Karunanidhi had made himself look ridiculous by criticizing the AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa for not condemning the Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka for calling Tamil Nadu political leaders Vaiko and P Nedumaran as ``jokers’’.

He said the ``Chief Minister has made the outrageous comment that Jaylalithaa’s silence is due to her being not a Tamil, as otherwise she would have reacted to a foreigner (Fonseka) defaming Tamil leaders.”

Dr Swamy asked Karunanidhi ``to explain whether the same remark would apply to TNCC president Thankgabalu, who has been silent on this matter.’’ He said the ``the problem is that Karunanidhi is in the habit of making wild statements which contradict what he practices.”

Swamy pointed out that ``Karunanidhi also appeared to have forgotten that in 1987, when the Swedish radio broadcast a statement that the then PM Rajiv Gandhi had taken a bribe in the Bofors arms deal, he took that as a truth and demanded the resignation of Rajiv Gandhi.

``Was it right for an Indian to demand the prosecution of a Prime Minister of India merely on the word of a foreigner? If so, he should have also demanded the prosecution of Vaiko and Nedumaran for receiving funds from the LTTE since this has been authoritatively stated by an important spokesman of Sri Lankan government.’’

(Express News Service)