Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nearly US$ 79 million earned from Duty Free Shops at KIA

By Lal Gunesekera

The Bonds Division of the Customs Department had a revenue collection of Rs. 7.3 billion in 2009. A sum of US$ 56,978,451 was earned from the duty free shops at the arrivals lounge of the Katunayake International Airport (KIA) and US$ 22,570,509 from the departure lounge with total revenue earned being US$ 78,548,960. The Bonds Investigation Unit (BIU) recovered a total of Rs. 54,534,000 last year.

The Investor Facilitation Centre (INFAC) earned revenue of Rs. 10,664,211,070 from Board of Investment (BOI) enterprises with duty recovered from cancellation of agreements being Rs. 12,766,307.

The Customs at the KIA had a revenue collection of Rs. 452,853,349 last year, while Rs. 84,316,750 was collected mostly from currency cases (Rs. 30,315,241) and gold jewellery cases which was Rs. 28,795,405.


Also during the year (2009), the Customs Narcotics Control Unit (NCU) made two noteworthy detections resulting in the seizure of 2kg 798 grams of heroin concealed in potatoes and continued to maintain its surveillance on all flights arriving from source countries and suspected airports. The NCU conducted joint operations with the Police Narcotics Bureau at KIA, Air Cargo, LCL Warehouses and Container yards.

Since 1984, the NCU has seized 385.723 kg of heroin with the largest seizure of 62.607 kg being in 1990. Among the other narcotics that have been seized since 1984 was hashish (88.904 kg), opium (95.98 kg), cannabis 2.45 kg), cocaine (9.018 kg) and hashish oil (0.0028) in 1994.

The Excise (Special Provisions) division collected Rs. 47,996.88 million during last year (2009) mainly from cigarettes (Rs. 37,670.16 million) and petroleum (Rs. 7,854.18) and also recovering Rs. 600,000 from 20 Court cases.
>> Full Story

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Steep Upsurge in Business for Commercial Banks

Commercial Banks in Sri Lanka have registered an upsurge in business in the recent months. In the month of October alone these banks have provided new loans amounting to Rs. 50 Billion, which registers a 20% increase over the same period last year.
Loans from foreign exchange banking units have increased by Rs. 5.2 billion to Rs. 156.3 billion.

However, loans to the government from the banking system, including the central bank, have fallen steeply by Rs. 36.6 billion to Rs. 565.5 billion as the government repaid credit following a billion dollar sovereign debt sale.

Credit from the Central Bank to government has also fallen by Rs. 15 billion to Rs. 85 billion.

Last year, loans to private business contracted as the government ran a deficit of around 10% of gross domestic product and banks bought risk free Treasury bills instead of lending to risky private business. Financial sources said that following a balance of payments crisis in 2008 and 2009, banks curtailed credit and were facing rising bad loans. Central bank data indicates that bad loans were now falling appreciably.

With many incentives and concessions given to the private sector in the new budget potential for banks to increase businesses, especially their lending portfolios have increased and business analysts comment that banks have every possibility of getting further strengthened in the future months.(niz).

>> Full Story

UN SG Panel – LLRC will adhere to Warrant

In the event of the government facilitating UN Secretary General's Panel to visit Sri Lanka, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings, the LLRC said in a statement.

Following is the statement:

UN SG's Panel

There have been some inquiries from the national media regarding a visit to Sri Lanka by the UN Secretary General's Panel. Any decision to facilitate the UN SG's Panel to visit Sri Lanka lies entirely with the Government of Sri Lanka. If a decision is made to permit such a visit the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will hear such representations on the basis of its Warrant and the usual procedures followed for such hearings
>> Full Story

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cargo Trends

Sri Lanka port handles record four million containers
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) - Colombo port volumes hit a new record of four million containers Tuesday supported by strong growth in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said in a statement.

The number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 percent so far this year from a year ago.
It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs done in 2008, the highest-ever performance by the port before recession hit global trade.

SLPA managing director Nihal Keppetipola said efficiency improvements and removal of security restrictions with the end of a war had helped increase cargo volumes and reinforce Colombo's status as south Asia's hub port.

The number of import-export containers handed by Colombo is up 25 percent this year compared with last year while transshipment cargo has increased by 18 percent, the SLPA said.

The state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year.

Keppetipola said a new computerised terminal operating system at the JCT costing 800 million rupees helped integrate all terminal operation and plan and optimize rapid movement of containers between the gate and the quay.

This reduced dwell times for containers and turnaround times for vessels, Keppetipola said.

A satellite-based communication system was also added to monitor container stacking

“Last year we reopened the northern entrance, which had been closed for ten years due to security reasons, to facilitate smoother maritime transportation and to increase productivity in the port,: he said.

"This move put an end to the navigation restrictions that have caused congestion at the port causing delays in cargo handling and turn-around times of vessels."


Sri Lanka's 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009, resulting in the withdrawal of war risk insurance surcharges and accelerating economic growth.
The JCT has handled 2.1 million TEUs this year with the remaining 1.9 million TEUs handled by the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals in which Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a 42 percent stake.

Keppetipola said the combined effort of the state-run and privately-owned terminals was critical to Sri Lanka's drive to become a major centre of shipping, trade and logistics in the region.

He said it was "an ideal test case of public-private partnership arrangements in the port management area."
>> Full Story

Battle against LTTE elements abroad will continue – President

'We have already commenced the battle against them in the international sphere and are committed to continue it'. President Rajapaksa said so at the ceremonial passing out parade of Cadet officers at the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) in Diyatalawa
today (21 Dec).

We are now at a significant phase in the humanitarian operation. Our endeavour is to win hearts and minds after freeing the people and lands from terrorism. The humanitarian operation includes de-mining, resettlement and providing basic requirements among other tasks. All development programmes carried out in the North and East are part of the humanitarian operation, the President stated.

He stressed that this humanitarian operation will not stop until the painful memories of terrorism and all thoughts of separatism are
removed from people's hearts.

'You pass out today to contribute to this noble humanitarian operation', the President told the Cadet officers.

A person does not excel through talent and knowledge alone. Instead, the most important element is the love for one's country, he pointed out.
'The government not only lined up the security forces for the humanitarian operation but also organized the people against terrorism.

The government received tremendous support from the people in eliminating terrorism', he said.
'The highest tribute to these people is to ensure that terrorism does not raise its ugly head', he emphasized.>> Full Story

Onion Pickle

By Jayantha Kovilagodage
Sri Lanka onion prices to rise after Indian export ban
Dec 21, 2010 (LBO) - Prices of onions and leeks in Sri Lanka could rise after India's decision to suspend exports of onions, a trade official said.

Pettah Wholesale Traders' Association vice chairman Nihal Seneviratne said 90 percent of Sri Lanka's onion requirement is imported from India and imports from other origins would be more costly.
India on Monday suspended exports of onions, a key food staple, after prices of the vegetable soared, adding to the government's inflation woes.

Sri Lanka might be forced to import from sources like Pakistan, China, Egypt and the Netherlands, Seneviratne told Vimasuma.com, our sister news website. "Pakistani onions are not as good as Indian onions and they spoil quickly," he said.

"To ship onions from China takes about a month and requires use of a refrigerated container. Therefore, onion imports from these countries will invariably be more expensive than from India."

Even if the government reduces a 10-rupee a kilo import tax on onions retail prices cannot be reduced under present conditions, Seneviratne said.

Stocks of onions in the Pettah wholesale market were running low and Indian exporters had even taken back cargoes of onion already loaded on ships, he said.

Prices of onions grown in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula as well as leeks are likely to rise.

Sri Lanka imports 4,000-5,000 tonnes of onions a week from India which supplies about 60 percent of the world requirements of onions.>> Full Story

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dawood aide probed for LTTE links

Mirza Mohiddin Baig was arrested in Colombo last year
Mumbai's Anti Terrorism Squad is questioning a key member of Dawood Ibrahim gang for alleged links with the banned outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to supply arms for terror activities in India.

ATS has sought a fresh remand for D-Company top lieutenant Mirza Mohiddin Baig, currently under Crime Branch's custody, to question him in connection with terror links in the country.

Additional Director General of Police, Rakesh Maria, has confirmed to MiD DAY that Baig is being interrogated for terror links in India. He refused to give further details.

Baig, who was on the Interpol's wanted list, had been arrested in Colombo on May 8, 2009, after a long stint in Sri Lanka, and deported to India. The police had recovered three pistols and 18 live rounds from him.

Since then, the gangster had been in judicial custody until last week when the Crime Branch took over, after his name cropped up again after intelligence reports indicate that D-Company is procuring arms and ammunition from the remaining members of LTTE for operations in the country.

Investigations by ATS and the Crime Branch provide evidence that D-gang members have allied with the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba for spreading terror in the country. Reports indicate that under the 'Karachi Project', terrorist organisations have been using Dawood's network in India for logistic support.

A few hundred of the LTTE core cadre have gone underground with huge quantities of arms and deadly explosive RDX after the Sri Lankan army stormed their bastion killing their leader V Prabhakaran last year.

Baig was arrested soon after the operations.

Sources informed that Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence operatives have covertly trained and armed members of LTTE to carry out attacks in India. Even more so after the Indian Peace Keeping Force was deployed in the Island since late 1980s.

Reports indicate that LTTE have also been selling sophisticated arms and explosives to the Maoist factions across the country.

Baig's questioning assumes significance in light of reports that LTTE is planning to target the country's Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Police sources said that Baig could also be questioned for the alleged involvement of D-Company, directly or indirectly, in the Varanasi bomb blast earlier this month.

Backgrounder

Baig climbed up the mafia ranks after he was running illegal ISD facilities. Dawood's second-in-command, Chhota Shakeel, soon made him the nodal person in Mumbai.
The gangster from Kortula in Karim Nagar district in Andhra Pradesh was assigned the task to deliver arms to D-Company shooters in Mumbai, before he was arrested by the Crime Branch's Criminal Intelligence Unit.

An AK-47 rifle and four imported revolvers were recovered from Baig during the raid on his hideout in 2000.

The gangster had then confessed of having links with gun suppliers in Bangkok, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a former Crime Branch officer said. Baig soon jumped bail and escaped to Dubai and later surfaced in Colombo.

Rashid Malbari, another ace shooter in Dawood's gang, was carrying out underworld operations from Sri Lanka.
>> Full Story

Sri Lanka extend support to legal affairs in Fiji island

(SLBC) Sri Lanka is to provide support to enhance legal section in Fiji Island. Visiting Fijian Chief Justice Anthony Harold met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees this morning. At the discussion he pointed out that many Sri Lankan legal experts are engaged in state and private legal activities in the Fiji Island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that service of the Sri Lankan legal experts should be obtained in more efficient manner and pledged necessary support and advice to streamline legal activities in the Fiji island.
>> Full Story

Saturday, December 18, 2010

World Bank MD calls on President: Acknowledges Lanka's improved economy

Surpassing the USD 2000 per capita income, Sri Lanka is no longer an underdeveloped country and as a result not qualified for International Development Association (IDA) loans that provide interest free financial assistance to underdeveloped countries, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank Group stated.

She made this statement when she called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today (17).

Instead, the World Bank will consider providing a commercial loan of USD 265 million from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, she said.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an arm of the World Bank aims to reduce poverty in middle-income and creditworthy countries by promoting sustainable development through loans, guarantees, risk management products, and analytical and advisory services.

'The World Bank has been an active partner in supporting Sri Lanka in its transition from a low income country in conflict to a middle income country in peace', said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.

The post-conflict environment provides an opportunity to build on our relationship to support the government's vision to firmly establish the country's place in the ranks of fast growing middle income countries, she said.

In addition to funding, she said the World Bank is willing to share knowledge and expertise with Sri Lanka regarding urban development.

Foreign Direct Investment is vital for any middle income country to achieve its economic targets, she added.

She also emphasized the importance of seeking alternative energy sources as the world is on the brink of an energy crisis.
Deputy Minister of External Affairs Geethanjana Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Novard Cabrall were also present at the dicussion.

'Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's trip coincides with a new era of development in Sri Lanka as it embarks on an ambitious new course towards a middle income country in lasting peace,' a World Bank said in a recent statement.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, a national of Nigeria, was formerly the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the first female Minister of Finance and Economy for Nigeria.

>> Full Story

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sri Lanka ready to assist India in combating LTTE

(Colombo Lankapuvath) Sri Lanka is to consider assisting India in combating the threat posed by LTTE elements said Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella.

Answering a query of a journalist at the Cabinet media briefing held in Colombo a short while ago (16), he said that Sri Lanka will consider on the issue if such a request is made and the country will share all its experiences in combating terrorism.

India is the neigbhouring country of Sri Lanka who has had strong ties for centuries mentioned the Minister.

The Minister mentioned this commenting on the very recent reports on LTTE attempts to take the lives of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and TamilNadu Chief Minister M Karunanidi. These details were revealed by the intelligence units of the country.

>> Full Story

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Healthcare delivery: Lanka on top

Sri Lanka has once again emerged as the most successful country in South Asia in healthcare delivery, recording low indicators in Maternal Mortality and a high rate of Life Expectancy , ‘The State of World Population 2010’ (Report) issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said today.

According to the Report all other countries in South Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives lag much behind Sri Lanka in respect of these important health and social indicators.

The Infant Mortality Rate per thousand births in India in 2010 was 52, Pakistan 61, Bhutan 41, Nepal 38 and Maldives 20 while Sri Lanka had only15 deaths which was highly satisfactory.

The Maternal Mortality rate per 100,000 births stood at a high 830 in Nepal while in India it was 450, Bangladesh 570, Pakistan 320, Maldives 120 with Sri Lanka only 58 mother deaths.

The life expectancy in India respectively for male and female was 62 / 66 years, Bangladesh 68 years for both, Pakistan 66 / 67, Nepal 66 / 68, Maldives 70 / 74 and Sri Lanka was 71 and 74 years.

The country with most dismal indicators in the world, Afghanistan records 152 infant deaths per 1,000 births and 1,800 maternal deaths per 100,000. The life expectancy in Afghanistan is only 44 for both sexes.

Some of the best countries to live in, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland, the Infant Mortality rate, Maternal Morality rate and Life Expectancy stood respective at 3, 3 and 79 / 83, 4, 4 and 79 / 84 and 4, 5, and 79 / 84.

Mrs. Lene K. Christiansen, UNFPA country director Sri Lanka, addressing the gathering at the ceremony held to mark the release of the Report said the Report makes the case for replacing the vicious cycle of crisis and underdevelopment with virtuous cycle of peace and stability.

“It is time to tear down the false barriers between crisis, recovery and development. Investing in the development soften the impact of crisis and natural disaster and whatever is invested during humanitarian response can become a solid foundation for development and rebuilding a society,” Mrs. Cristiansen stressed. Mr. Reza Hassaini and Mrs. Sunila Abesekara also addressed the ceremony. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)
>> Full Story

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TOURISM ARRIVAL FIGURE PASSES 600,000 MARK

December 14, 2010: A landmark in the island's tourism will be recorded today with the arrival of a group from London that will see tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka surpassing the 600,000 mark.

“This is a very significant event for tourism in Sri Lanka,” said Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, speaking to Newsfirst.

“By end November last year, only 447,890 had arrived as tourists, but this year, it rose to 569,849. Going by the month of November, the increase in arrivals was 63 per cent, and today, with the arrival of the flight from London around 4pm, the arrival figure for this year will surpass the 600,000 mark,” said Minister Yapa.

He observed that in the month of November alone, 71,151 tourists had arrived in Sri Lanka and the percentages of the increase by regions were: Europe – 50.5; Middle East - 60; India – 51 and North America – 19.5.

>> Full Story

Thai Hotel Chains eye Sri Lanka’s tourist industry

The rapidly growing Sri Lankan tourist industry has become a focal point for foreign hoteliers to invest in Sri Lanka. Thailand’s two main hotel chains are the new prospective investors to invest in the Sri Lankan hotel industry.

These Thai hotel chains include Minor International, popularly known as MINT and Centara Hotels and Resorts.

MINT is to invest Thai Bhat 10 billion to open 42 hotels and food outlets in domestic and internationals including Sri Lanka, while Centara Hotels and Resorts, plan to form a joint venture with one of the biggest European tour and airline operators in a strategic move to expand the group's mid-range hotels in Asia.

Other countries that include in MINT chain, Anantara Sanya Resort and Spa’s expansions plan are China, India and U.A.E.

The Centara Hotels and Resort’s expansion plan, other than Sri Lanka, include establishments of hotels and resorts in Maldives, Egypt, India, the Philippines Vietnam., Bahrain, Malaysia and Indonesia. (niz).

>> Full Story

Monday, December 13, 2010

Partnership Model

Sri Lanka said keen on public-private partnerships
Dec 13, 2010 (LBO) - Sri Lanka is keen on partnerships between the public and private sectors in developing its economy, the International Finance Corporation, which is supporting the initiative, said in a statement.

“Sri Lanka is actively considering options to increase private participation in development," it quoted Sarath Amunugama, Sri Lanka’s Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation as telling a forum.
"A sustainable public-private partnership model is an important part of our framework for economic growth and infrastructure development.”

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said it is working with policymakers and private sector players to help meet Sri Lanka’s ongoing development agenda through public-private partnerships.

The forum held in Sri Lanka Monday was part of a series of IFC-led events in South Asia to identify and address concerns and challenges related to public-private partnerships among stakeholders, it said.

The event brought together specialists and expert speakers from around the world and was attended by officials of ministries and public sector departments of health, transportation, and municipal infrastructure and other multilateral partners.

"Improving quality of services in Sri Lanka, gaining efficiencies, and boosting economic growth through private participation in social and physical infrastructure were part of the discussions," the IFC said.

“Long lasting public-private arrangements receive public ownership while generating interest among local private sector players and other development partners with shared goals,” said Vipul Bhagat, Manager of IFC Advisory Services for Public-Private Partnerships in South Asia.

The Sri Lankan government is committed to facilitating the transition necessary to boost the country’s economic growth and build on development fundamentals, the IFC statement said.

"Public-private partnership activity can make an important contribution to help address the country’s immediate infrastructure needs and garner needed funding for the purpose."
>> Full Story

Friday, December 10, 2010

Investment Option

Sri Lanka new gilt-edged fund eyes small investors

Nov 30, 2010 (LBO) - Ceybank Asset Management (CAM), Sri Lanka's largest unit trust fund manager, has launched an open ended gilt-edged fund aiming to attract small investors especially in rural areas, officials said.

The 'Ceybank Surakum' fund will invest in government Treasury bills and bonds and other government-backed securities but not in equities and aim to give a return higher than interest rates on bank deposits which have been falling.
Chitra Sathkumara, chief executive of CAM, said their initial target is to raise at least two billion rupees

"This will give small investors a better choice," he told a news conference.

"In Sri Lanka most people invest a part of their money in savings accounts and fixed deposits but interest rates on savings accounts are falling while the cost of living is increasing, and people get poorer."

This had prompted some investors to search for high interest yielding but risky products and lose money in financial scams, he said.

"Many investors lost their life saving trying to get super returns. The Surakum fund aims to earn returns above savings accounts while ensuring safety. We aim to bridge the gap between savers and investors through this fund."

The minimum investment in the fund is 10,000 rupees and each unit 10 rupees.

The Ceybank Surakum fund will pay two dividends a year in January and July, with the first dividend being paid in July 2011.

Dividends from investments are tax free, the investments can be encashed at the prevailing market price and investors can switching their money among other funds managed by CAM.

The fund will be marketed with the help of the branch network of the state-owned Bank of Ceylon, which has a 43.4 percent stake in CAM.

Other shareholders are state-owned Sri Lanka Insurance, Carson Cumberbatch & Co. and Unit Trust of India, said K Hewage, chairman of Ceybank Asset Management.

Proposals in the government's 2011 budget announced last week exempting unit trusts from certain taxes and relaxing foreign exchange controls to allow foreigners to invest in the funds will help promote the industry, he said.
The budget also made income earned by unit trusts from listed stocks and bonds free from income tax.

>> Full Story

Wikileaks: SL denies NK arms charge

A senior military official said there had been no transactions with North Korea
By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka says the country never purchased any arms, ammunition and equipment from North Korea during the war against the LTTE.

A senior official involved in procurement of arms on Thursday (Dec. 9) told The Island that there hadn’t been any transactions with NK for a long time.

He was responding to information in diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks of US diplomatic protests about North Korea’s alleged sale of rocket-propelled launchers to Sri Lanka in early 2009.

The official pointed out that the international media may have wrongly reported that Sri Lanka was acquiring arms from NK, whereas the actual beneficiary of such arms sales could have been the LTTE.

Alleging possible NK support for the JVP-led 1971 insurgency, Sri Lanka broke-off diplomatic ties with that country.

Military sources say that Sri Lanka hadn’t purchased any major items even from South Korea except some Fast Attack Craft (FACs) acquired in the 80s during the JRJ administration.

Authoritative sources told The Island that the leaked US cables, which had been the basis for media speculation on Sri Lanka receiving NK arms, could have dealt with the LTTE procuring arms from China and transferring them overland through NK to be loaded into LTTE ships.

The Sri Lanka Navy destroyed eight LTTE ships (one in Sept. 2006 and seven in 2007). Of the eight ships, destruction of four, including the largest ‘floating arsenal’ was made possible by the US intelligence.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government went to the extent of raising the issue with China, which led to tighter monitoring of armaments sales. Sources said that it had a disastrous impact on Sri Lanka’s legitimate purchases from China.
>> Full Story

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Extreme world: Is Sweden as clean as it seems?

The world is considered a more corrupt place now than it was three years ago, a poll suggests.Some 56% of people interviewed by Transparency International said their country had become more corrupt.

The organisation put Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India in the most corrupt category, followed by China, Russia and much of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests that corruption is the world's most talked about problem.

About one in five of those polled by the BBC said they had discussed issues relating to corruption with others in the last month, making it the most talked about concern ahead of climate change, poverty, unemployment and rising food and energy costs.
>> Full Story

The Tamil leadership solely responsible for what happened to the Tamil people

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Commission,
I am honoured and privileged to be invited to give evidence before this Commission on the historic and epic events of our time and I thank the Commission for giving me this opportunity.
Before I go any further I must congratulate the Commission for the progress made so far, particularly in giving the lie to its critics who dismissed it as not being credible as that of an international inquiry. The impressive and credible proceedings of this commission have once again debunked the cynical attitude common to some Sri Lankans who believe that the local products are never so good as the imported goods and services. I cannot see how three foreign gentlemen, sitting in far away New York, with a pre-determined attitude towards Sri Lanka, can investigate and report on the conditions in Sri Lanka based on accounts presented by questionable sources which have a notorious record of reporting adversely and negatively on Sri Lanka. It is predictable that the UN Panel appointed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, -- knowing particularly the attitude problem of the UN panellists – will merely rubber stamp the prevailing judgment of the West denigrating the greatest historical movement in the living memory of Sri Lankans.
I wish to state categorically that the World alliance for Peace, which I represent, has implicit trust and faith in the integrity and the capabilities of the distinguished Commissioners to fulfil their mandate with honour. May I, therefore, begin by congratulating the Commission for its outstanding performance as yet another successful endeavour in telling the critics and the doubting Thomases that we can – yes, we can – handle our problems on our own, in our own way, without meddlesome foreigners trying to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs. The irony in all this is that these foreigners are preaching and imposing universal moral standards on us on the dubious principle that we must do what they say and not what they do.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Panel we value and appreciate the advances you have made so far and we trust and hope that you will continue to do so to serve the nation which is in need of guidance to achieve the laudable and ultimate goal of reconciliation.
I am here today as the representative of the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka (WAPS). It is a global net work, spread from Toronto to Melbourne, dedicated to combat the formidable anti-Sri Lankan forces damaging the image of Sri Lanka abroad. It consists of committed volunteers who are in the forefront of an international movement to protect, preserve and promote the good name of Sri Lanka. WAPS is an independent organisation which does not dependent for funds, or directions from of any government, either in Sri Lanka or elsewhere. WAPS operates on self-raised funds collected from patriotic Sri Lankans in the diaspora and I am proud to represent WAPS which is perhaps the only NGO consisting of Sri Lankans without any links to any government either in Sri Lanka or abroad or foreign funding agencies. It is does not pretend to be an non-governmental organisation like the NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR PEACE , OR THE CENTRE FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVE which are, in fact, linked either directly or indirectly to Western governments or their funding agencies.
Western governments and private funding agencies work hand in hand to finance local NGOs which are the hired agents to do their dirty work in crisis-torn or less developed countries like Sri Lanka. To the West it is cheaper to outsource their foreign policy agenda to hired hands in local NGOs because they have proved to be highly sophisticated agents who can push the Western political agenda on a cheaper rate than their costly career diplomats posted in Addis Ababa, Islamabad or Colombo. Western governments have openly admitted that NGOs are their “soft power” used effectively to promote their political agenda. It is, therefore, a misnomer to consider National Council for Peace or Centre for Policy Alternative or International Centre for Ethnic Studies , to mention only a few, as NGOs because they are, directly or indirectly, indebted to governments abroad. These NGOs also work closely with the diplomatic missions of the West which are the local arms of the Western governments. So if these NGOs are funded by Western sources, directly or indirectly linked to Western governments, and if they also work closely with diplomats of foreign governments, how can they be called non-governmental organisations? They act as the local arm of foreign governments. They dance to their tune because that is the only means by which they can keep their funds flowing from Western sources. If the local NGOs fail to promote a political agenda that is useful to Western sources then they go out of business.
One of the main aims of WAPS is to take on these NGOs both in Sri Lanka and abroad which are, by and large, anti-Sri Lankan political fronts of the West. Distinguished members of the Commission, it is my intention to focus exclusively on reconciliation for several reasons. 1) Reconciliation has been on the national agenda from colonial times where competing communities were vying with each other for power and territory and it continues to be on the national agenda to this day almost in the same format. 2) It is prioritized as the prime necessity of the day for us to move forward. 3) International and national pressures are mounted on this issue of reconciliation. 4) I believe reconciliation is also the primary objective of this Commission.
When we talk of reconciliation we mean essentially the reconciliation of the Sinhalese with the Tamil-speaking community that took up arms demanding a separate state. A notable – but mostly ignored – political fact is that the relations with the other two Tamil-speaking communities, the Muslims and the Indian Tamils, remained undisturbed at normal levels without either of them going to the extreme of demanding a separate state or taking up arms against the majority Sinhalese. This single political statistic is revealing because the Sinhalese who have been denigrated as extremists, chauvinists, anti-Tamil racists could never have succeeded in co-existing peacefully with two other Tamil-speaking communities if they are bad as they are painted to be.
This single political statistic also goes against the general accusation that the Sinhala majority has been the oppressor of the Tamil-speaking communities. This makes it abundantly clear that, despite differences and tensions, the Sinhala majority has been successful in maintaining harmonious and peaceful relations with two of the Tamil-speaking communities and had problems with only one Tamil-speaking community. This single political fact should speak more about the peninsular political culture with its mono-ethnic extremism than about the Sinhalese who had down the ages co-existed as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic entity.
The myths that dominate the political landscape have turned reality on its head. For instance, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic Sinhala society is denigrated as racist or chauvinistic while the mono-culture of Jaffna which fought strenuously to preserve its mono-ethnic hegemony is projected as an exclusive haven of cultural superiority. The anti-Sinhala lobby manufactured an ideology to paint the Sinhalese as extremists and paint the mono-ethnic extremism of the Jaffna Tamils as the victims of Sinhala oppression. If, as they say, the Sinhala majority was oppressing the Tamil-speaking minority on the scale described by NGOs and allied propagandists of the Jaffna Tamil separatist lobby, wouldn’t all other Tamil-speaking communities have common cause to gang up against the Sinhalese? Besides, why did the Jaffna Tamil leadership fail to mobilize the other two Tamil-speaking communities in their political and military campaigns against their so-called “Sinhala oppressors”? Serious attempts were made by S. J. V. Chelvanayakam to form a pan-Tamil-speaking peoples’ front against the Sinhalese but he failed to get them into a common front against the Sinhalese.
If on the convincing mathematics visible to rational political analysts, the Sinhala majority had maintained harmonious relations with two of the Tamil-speaking communities, resolving differences without violence, why did the Jaffna Tamil leadership alone fail to maintain non-violent, harmonious relations with the other communities? Why did they drag their own people through a futile war into the abysmal depths of Nandikadal? What did they achieve? They went to destroy the Sinhalese whom they had demonized globally and in the end it boomeranged on them. Their violence turned inwards and they lost their entire leadership, they lost their kith and kin, and they lost their self-respect and dignity when they were forced to surrender to the fascist terror of a pathological serial killer. Now that we have gone through the worst phase the time has come for the Jaffna Tamil leadership to consider how the other two-Tamil speaking community leaders have succeeded in guiding their communities to constructive and promising ends and why only the Jaffna Tamil leadership failed? Why is it that reconciliation was possible with the other two-Tamil speaking communities and not with only one community in Jaffna?
The answer can be found in the intricacies and the complexities of peculiar peninsular political culture which dragged the Jaffna people from colonial times to mono-ethnic extremism. In summary it can be demonstrated that reconciliation with the northern leadership was doomed to fail because of their intransigence and extremist mono-ethnic ideology that refused to compromise anything short of their fancy state of Eelam.
Jaffna jingoism was the most destructive and counter-productive of all the political cultures of the Tamil-speaking communities. Their ideologues and intellectuals who rationalized the mono-ethnic extremism of Jaffna demanded that reconciliation should be based only on the terms dictated by the extremist agenda of the Jaffna-centric politics. This intransigence was one of the primary causes that led to the failures of any moves towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation has been viewed, argued and projected as a one-way process – i.e., the government of day should give in to the demands of only one Tamil-speaking community disregarding or marginalizing the aspirations, the historical grievances, and the needs of the other minority and majority communities whose main objective has been to co-exist in harmony with each other, sharing the land in common with all those who consider the entire 25,000 square miles, from Point Pedro to Dondra, to be their homeland without any divisions.
Successive governments have gone down this one-way track without any success. Every national, regional and international endeavour to bring about reconciliation failed because each move was aimed at appeasing the intransigent leadership of Jaffna. The Indian move to bring about reconciliation ended in assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. The Premadasa moves to reconcile ended in assassinating Premadasa. The Chandrika-Neelan move to produce a charter for reconciliation ended in assassinating Neelan and nearly getting Chandrika. The last major one-way attempt at reconciliation was when Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the CFA with Prabhakaran conceding almost the next best thing to Eelam. It failed because the Jaffna Tamil leadership, as usual, refused to accept it as the route to reconciliation.
Besides, the undeniable fact is that these reconciliatory moves, signed by the Tamil leadership, were approved by the Tamil people and their fellow-travellers in the NGO circuit. So what is the logic in saying that the Sinhala leadership had not made genuine moves at reconciliation? The Sinhala leadership had even gone as far as dismissing or marginalizing the aspirations and needs of other Tamil-speaking and Sinhala communities. Ranil Wickremesinghe, for instance, committed crimes against the nation when he authorized the supply of arms and ammunition, duty free, to the Tamil Tigers. He even put the Navy Commander, Wasantha Karannagoda, on the mat for sinking a Tamil Tiger boat smuggling arms and ammunition. He should go into the records of the Guinness Book for being the first prime minister in any part of the world who had pulled up his Navy Commander for defending the territorial integrity and security of the nation. It is the innocent youth in the Security Forces who had to pay with their lives to repair the damage done in the CFA.
However misguided he was Wickremesinghe’s actions prove that he was bending over backwards to appease the Tamil leadership – a task that was doomed to fail. Successive Sri Lankan leaders have gone out of their way – sometimes under international pressure – to reconcile with the Tamil separatists. But they never succeeded. Though the evidence is loaded against the Jaffna Tamil leadership for deliberately pursuing a military solution, refusing a negotiated settlement, it is the “Sinhala state” that is blamed for each failure to reconcile with the Jaffna Tamil leadership.
The Nordic peace-makers are on record saying that 95% of the terms and conditions of the CFA were violated by the LTTE. So who should take the responsibility for the failure to bring about reconciliation?
It was the Tamil leadership that decided to seek a military solution when they passed the Vadukoddai Resolution on May 14, 1976. It is this notorious Resolution that endorsed unanimously the decision to wage a war against the rest of the nation. Prof. A. J. Wilson, son-in- law of Chelvanayakam , the father of separatism and the man who posed as Gandhi, states in his biography that Chelvanayakam went through every word of the Vadukoddai Resolution. It specifically urged the Tamil youth to take up arms and never rest until they achieve their goal of Eelam.
So it is not the “Sinhala state” that adopted the military solution. Historical documents record that it was the Tamil leadership that deliberately and consciously decided to go down the path of violence. It was the Tamil leadership that provided the ideology to instigate the Tamil youth to take up arms. It was the Tamil leadership that financed the bullets, the guns, landmines, hand grenades, the boats and all the other firearms when the doors were open to them to negotiate like the other two Tamil-speaking communities. It was the Tamil leadership that gave the silent assent to the killings of Tamil leaders.
Having reneged on national, regional and international agreements, having rejected all reasonable offers for reconciliation, even those offers that came with international guarantees, the Tamil leadership and their fellow-travellers in academia, media, NGOs etc refuse to accept responsibility for the horrendous political crimes committed in the name of the Tamil people. Not surprisingly, the intellectuals, academics, NGO pundits produced volumes rationalizing their divisive politics and justifying Tamil violence by blaming the Sinhalese.
Blaming the Sinhalese is the most common feature of the Jaffna Tamil political culture. Jaffna-centric politics thrived on targeting the Sinhalese. It eventually turned into a cult of hate. The ultimate expression of this anti-Sinhala politics was encapsulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution. It is the most decisive document to come out of Jaffna defining their political goals, violent strategies and the cult of hate. It produced an ideology based primarily on the fictitious history and the concocted geography.
A whole new ideological industry grew round the Vadukoddai Resolution. The pro-separatist seminars, lectures, researches, publications were aimed at blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhists. The Vadukoddai ideology was designed to exonerate the Jaffna Tamil leadership from all blame and any analysis of subsequent studies will reveal that academics and public intellectuals never deviated one inch from the fictions and concoctions laid down in the Vadukoddai Resolution. In the end they blamed Prabhakaran also as a creation of the Sinhalese. If Prabhakaran was a creation of the Sinhalese his bullets should have been directed only at the Sinhalese. But why did he turn his guns first on the fathers of Vadukoddai Resolution which endorsed Tamil violence? Did the Sinhalese instruct him to target the entire Tamil leadership? If, as claimed, he came out of Sinhala violence, why did he target the innocent Muslims? What had they done to him? Why did he pluck Tamil children from the breasts of Tamil mothers? Was it the Sinhalese who prompted him to commit these crimes against humanity?
Demonizing the Sinhala-Buddhists was a necessary strategy to justify Tamil violence and extremist demands. At the root of Tamil violence and extremist demands was this Vadukoddai ideology which defined and laid down the road map to Eelam which, contrary to their expectations, ended in Nandikadal.
The Vadukoddai Resolution produced the Vadukoddai War which lasted 33 years and four days. It had a definite beginning (MAY 14, 1976) and it had a definite ending on May 18, 2009. I consider this as one continuous War and not as four Eelam Wars. The fact that Vadukoddai War see-sawed between low-intensity and high-intensity phases does not add up to four wars. It was just one continuous war led by the Jaffna war-mongers who deliberately declared war on the rest of the nation in the Vadukoddai Resolution.
This Commission and the nation at large are now engaged in working out modalities for reconciliation. There are many roads to reconciliation, ranging from state initiatives to organised activities at the grass root levels. Reconciliation is also not one-way traffic. It takes two to arrive at reconciliation. Reconciliation, it should be noted, is a process that begins in the minds. Breaking down the mental barriers, misperceptions, prejudices and fear-mongering are some of the essentials needed to bring about reconciliation. Above all, no reconciliation is possible if the ideology that led to the Vadukoddai War is left unchallenged.
Vadukoddai Resolution was not meant for reconciliation. It was meant to demonize the Sinhalese, rewrite their history to suit the agenda of Jaffna-centric politics and whip up anti-Sinhala sentiments to keep Vadukoddai violence at boiling point. In fact, when the Tamil separatist decided to go down the path laid out in the Vadukoddai Resolution they opened up two fronts: 1. The military front on the ground where the Tamil youth took up arms as stipulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution and 2. the ideological front which justified and fuelled the Vadukoddai War for 33 years. We have won the war on the ground. But we have yet to win on the second front -- the ideological front which is as formidable as the defeated military front.
The Vadukoddai ideology hangs like a Damocles sword over the head of the nation. The Tamil diaspora is driven primarily by the Vadukoddai ideology. That is their one and only reference point. The Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam is designed to achieve the goals of the Vadukoddai Resolution. Though the Tamil Tigers – the misled children of the Vadukoddai Resolution -- are dead the ideology is still alive.
Combating this ideology is a sine qua non for the nation to advance toward reconciliation. The primary task of the second front, which the government has not yet opened in any effective way, is to demolish the political myths and fictions woven round the Vadukoddai Resolution. No amount of legislation can win this ideological battle. It is going to be a battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Reconciliation is possible only when the minds are liberated from myths of divisive and violent politics embedded in the Vadukoddai Resolution. The removal of the Tamil Tiger terrorists from the political equation helps. But the ideology that fired them up continues to linger on in various shades and manifestations.
This is why the ideological battle has to be taken seriously and fought relentlessly like the recently concluded war on the ground. The common thrust of the anti-Sinhala ideology is based on the allegation of discrimination against the Tamils. Apart from the concocted historical and geographical fictions, Jaffna-centric politics has consistently accused what they called the ”Sinhala state” on grounds of discrimination. It is the rationale on which Jaffna-centric politics took to violence. This accusation has been accepted uncritically by the assorted pundits who found it very lucrative to toe this line.
It has become an integral part of conventional wisdom that hardly anyone dares to challenge it. I have no time to cover all the issues of discrimination raised by the Jaffna Tamil lobby. But let me deal with the main accusation based on the Sinhala Only Act. As a result of the massive propaganda the world has come to know this as the symbol of discrimination against the Tamil-speaking people. But the two other Tamil-speaking communities – the Muslims and the Indians – did not consider this as an issue on which they could take up arms or demand a separate state. What should be noted is that all the issues of discrimination were raised and pursued relentlessly, ending up in the Vadukoddai War, only by the Jaffna Tamils. Practically every one of the issues of discrimination raised by the Jaffna Tamil political caste/class – except the citizenship issue of the Indians – were irrelevant to the other two Tamil-speaking communities. This is one of the reasons why the issue of discrimination sounds so hollow. If two out of three Tamil-speaking communities pursued consistently a political programme of peaceful co-existence whilst gaining their rights by non-violent politics what was the justification of the Jaffna political caste/class to go all the way from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal?
Take the example of the Sinhala Only Act which is cited as the mother of all evil in Sri Lankan politics. It was not just the Jaffna Tamils but the entire Westernized, English- educated ruling class of all communities, including the Sinhalese, that rebelled against it. Even among the Tamils the language issue was confined essentially to the English-educated professionals, particularly those in the public service. The vast majority of the Tamils who lived among the Sinhalese had no problem with Sinhala as the language of commerce. When I grew up my barber, my corner store grocer, my thosai boutique man, my rickshaw man who took me to school, the botal karaya, -- you name it – were all
Tamils and they had no problem with Sinhalese. My mother who shopped for her jewellery at Sea Street had no problem in bargaining with the Tamil jewellers in Sinhalese. In fact, it was a problem confined only to the 6% of the English educated elite who resented and resisted their power and privileges being taken away by enthroning the language of the majority of the people. They were bent on retaining the colonial privileges which would deprive the 94% of the people to communicate with the language of their elected government in the mother tongue. Which democratic, or for that even a dictatorship, would continue in the unfair practice of running a government in an alien language? Is France run in English? Is England administered in Welsh? Is China run in Japanese? Why is it right for all other nations to run their governments in the language of the majority but not Sri Lanka?
But let me hasten to add that the Tamils also had the right communicate with their elected government in their mother tongue. And provision was made for it by S.W. R. D. Bandaranaike, the greatest Sinhala liberal leader who was demonized by the Tamil lobby as the sole author who deprived them of their rights. Bandaranaike did not overthrow the Tamil language. He only dethroned the English language. His mission was to redress the imbalances left behind by centuries of colonialism. The pendulum that swung to the West under colonialism was swinging to the East in all ex-colonies. One of the first rights of the people was to be governed in their own language.
When Sinhala Only act was passed Chelvanayakam went from kachcheri kachcheri urging the Tamil public servants not to learn Sinhala. This is typical of the narrow-minded, divisive politics of Jaffna-centric politics that took them eventually to Nandikadal. It is the duty of all public servants to serve the public and it was duty of all public servants to serve 75% of population in Sinhala. Chelvanayakam and the English-educated ruling class did not want to change the colonial practices. They were for retaining the status quo. In other words, Chelvanayakam wanted the public to learn the language of public servants instead of the public servants learning the language of the public. How fair is this by the public? In fairness to Bandaranaike, it must be stated that he made it compulsory for Sinhala and Burgher public servants to learn Tamil and even provided free classes in the departments for public servants to learn the languages of the public. It was this policy of democratizing the administration and making the administration accessible to the public without any language barriers that was vilified as a racist act by the “Sinhala state” against the Tamils.
Let us also not forget that it was the Sinhala youth that took up arms first on the cry of discrimination. They too raised the language issue but on a class basis. They said that English was the language of the ruling class that denied opportunities to the lower classes. The Jaffna Tamils took up the same issue on an ethnic basis and accused the Sinhalese of pursuing racist politics. Even the Marxist leaders eventually came to the conclusion that it was a class issue and not an ethnic issue. And despite all these allegations of discrimination on a language basis the nation is still run in English. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature are ruled by and large in English. Even the bulk of the evidence recorded in this commission is in English. So where is the discrimination if all three languages are used in running the administration to this day?
Let me highlight some key aspects which debunk this myth of discrimination. Distinguished members there are 192 flags flying at the UN. Of all these flags it is only the Sri Lankan flag that has given the Tamils a place of respect, dignity and honour. A flag is the highest symbol of any nation. When the President salutes the national flag he salutes the Tamils and Muslims also. So has “the Sinhala state” excluded the Tamils and given them a lesser status nationally or internationally? Take the case of currency – another symbol of national recognition. Every currency note gives Tamil it due recognition as an equal partner. So where is this discrimination? This place of honour is not there for the Tamils even in India – the ONLY homeland of the Tamils.
In what way have these unique symbols denied the Tamils of their rights, their culture, their identity? On the contrary, in building this nation have not the “successive “Sinhala governments” placed the minorities on equal footing at every critical level? This is confirmed by the fact that two Tamil-speaking communities have refused to join the Jaffna Tamils in their violent campaign against Sri Lanka. They had no reason to join hands because the issues of discrimination and other allegations were not valid. If the allegations of discrimination and oppression of the minorities were valid it would have been felt right across the board among the minorities. But it didn’t. They all spoke the Tamil language, they all faced the identical Sinhala majority and they lived in the same political space. Their refusal to join hands with the Jaffna Tamils on allegations of discrimination and oppression refutes conclusively the concocted allegations of the Jaffna Tamils.
As a result of the distorted ideologies of the peninsular political culture the nation was put through the most traumatic period in its history. The Jaffna Tamil political parties have survived in the past on this culture of blaming the Sinhalese. If they are to learn from history the one outstanding lesson they must accept is that there is no future in the ideologically misguided past. They have pushed their mono-ethnic politics to the extreme and they have lost. Their task now is to re-imagine their place in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious state.
But to sum up, their politics of mono-ethnic extremism will not end as long as their second front – the ideological front -- is left wide open. Reconciliation can be built only by abandoning the Vadukoddai ideology which has no future. Those who are still committed to this ideology have not grasped the geo-political realities that went against the Vadukoddai ideology. The Tamil leaders knew that the international community was against a separate state but they never told that to the Tamil people. They kept the illusion of Eelam alive for their own self-interest without any regard for the suffering of the Tamil people.
Let us not forget that in all this it is the Jaffna Tamil people who suffered most. The Jaffna Tamil leadership must apologise on their knees to the Jaffna people for leading them to Nandikadal. Jaffna deserves a more enlightened leadership that can save them from going down the same old route from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal. Blaming the Sinhalese is not going to pay them any dividends any more. They must take responsibility for manufacturing the Vadukoddai ideology that took them nowhere. No one asked them to pass the Vadukoddai Resolution. They did it on their own. No one asked them to drag the Tamil people, using them as a human shield, to Nandikadal. They alone must take full responsibility for what happened to the Tamil people. They must not only apologise but also promise their people never to take them down the path to another Nandikadal.>> Full Story

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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Lanka rules out defence agreement with Pakistan - Gota explains why Defence allocation was raised by 6 per cent

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says Sri Lanka will not enter into a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with Pakistan. In a brief interview with The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa on Tuesday (Dec.7) said that the government hadn’t even discussed the possibility of a DCA with Pakistan during the recently concluded visit to Colombo by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa hadn’t discussed any defence related proposal with his Pakistani counterpart, the Defence Secretary said, while dismissing what he called unsubstantiated media reports on a post-war DCA. The Defence Secretary said that President Rajapaksa’s government hadn’t entered into any DCA during the three-year war, though the country acquired arms, ammunition and equipment from several countries, including Pakistan.

"In the aftermath of our victory over the LTTE in May last year, we’ll have to review our defence needs and equipment. For over 30 years, we have been buying armaments from different sources depending on our requirement, financial terms and the availability," Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said.

Sri Lanka bought weapons and defence equipment from several countries, including China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Israel, Ukraine and US, while some of the Fast Attack Craft (FACs) had been built by the Japanese-run Colombo Dockyard Limited.

Commenting on Opposition allegations of increased defence spending in spite of conclusion of the war in May last year, the Defence Secretary said that those critics had conveniently forgotten the armed forces couldn’t be disbanded or drastically reduced, though the LTTE posed no conventional military threat now.

The government allocated 215 billion rupees (1.92 billion dollars) for defence for 2011, according to official figures tabled in parliament and that amounts to about one fifth of the national budget.

The Defence Secretary said that country had to no option but to keep defence spending high because of hefty installment payments on military hardware bought over the years. According to him payments would have to be made for some time to suppliers.

Thethe 200,000 member strong army would take the lion’s share of the defence budget, he said.

The army will absorb just over half of the entire defence spending to maintain its personnel.

He said that re-positioning of security forces in a post-war era was a costly business as new bases and cantonments were needed to accommodate troops in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. "This is a very high priority. Unlike during the war, troops cannot be given makeshift shelter," he said.

Responding to another query, the Defence Secretary said that several institutions, including the UDA had been bought under his purview, and that factor too had led to an increase in the Defence allocation.

>> Full Story

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

British Defence Secretary to visit Sri Lanka

Colombo,Dec 7,(PTI) British Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox is to visit Sri Lanka later this month to deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture, a local media report has said.
The widow of the late foreign minister has confirmed to one of the local TV channels, that Dr Fox will deliver the memorial lecture in Colombo on December 18 .
Kadirgamar was assassinated in 2005 despite the government and the LTTE then observing the Norway brokered ceasefire.
Fox''s government colleague, Alistair Burt, Secretary of State of Foreign and Commonwealth office for South Asia postponed his visit to the country this week amidst protests against UK in Sri Lanka following cancellation of President Mahinda Rajapksha''s speech at Oxford University.
However the British High Commission in Colombo said "the postponement came due to parliamentary pressures in the UK and the visit would be re-arranged as soon as possible".
>> Full Story

Sri Lanka Navy: Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Committed to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Motherland, preserving the strength it gained by its pivotal contribution to the eradication of the 30-year long brutal terrorism off the Lankan soils intact, utilizing the same efforts used for the destruction of the supply and escape routes of the terrorists through its continuous surveillance along our coastal belt and territorial waters and thwarting the re-emergence of terrorism in the country, Sri Lanka Navy is fortifying itself into a more formidable force today.

The necessity to re-establish a Naval Force was felt during World War I in the island of Sri Lanka, which had once made admirable victories in Naval battles having sailed into foreign countries during the reigns of its great kings such as Parakramabhahu and Vijayabhahu.

Sri Lanka Navy came into being 60 years ago on December 9, 1950 as the Royal Ceylon Navy with the integration of the Royal Ceylon Volunteer Navy and the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (CRNVR) which expanded from the Ceylon Naval Volunteer Force (CNVF) formed as a fulfillment of that necessity.

During the period Captain Banks became the Commander of the Navy. In the 1950s, Royal Ceylon Navy received the ship ‘Vijaya’ from Britain as a gift. The commissioning ceremony of this ship was presided over by the late Prime Minister D S Senanayake.

Queen Elizabeth
It was onboard the ship ‘Nonik’ that Queen Elizabeth arrived in Ceylon in 1954 as the Head of the Commonwealth. It was the Royal Ceylon Navy which accorded the Guard of Honour to her. In 1954 Drum Major Cruse made a creative contribution by training a music band for the Royal Ceylon Navy.

0n September 19, 1955, the helm of the Navy was transferred from white hands to black hands with the handing over of the post of Commander of the Royal Ceylon Navy to Captain Royce de Mel by the last European Captain Chavasse.

During this decade the challenging task entrusted to the Royal Ceylon Navy was the tackling of illegal immigrants and smugglers arriving from South India. The Karainagar Naval Base was established to prevent this menace. The small vessels ‘Hansaya’ and ‘Lihiniya’ were acquired as a solution to this preventive policy.
>> Full Story

Monday, December 6, 2010

‘German Bakery blast accused was trained to assemble explosives in Colombo’

The alleged mastermind of the February 13 German Bakery attack, Himayat Baig, was trained to assemble explosives in Colombo by two of the co-accused in the case when they visited the Sri Lankan capital in March 2008, the Maharashtra ATS has contended in the chargesheet submitted to the Judicial Magistrate in Pune.

A copy of the 2500-page chargesheet, which was filed by the ATS in the court of Judicial Magistrate S. Bose on Saturday, was handed over to Baig who was produced in the court on Monday.

According to certain details of the document shared by Defence Counsel A. Rahman with the press, Baig is charged with designing the German Bakery terror attack along with Faiyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Ansari, two of the six co-accused named in the case, who are absconding.

Baig, who ran a cyber cafe in Udgir, later finalised the plan to attack the eatery in the last week of January 2010 and went to Mumbai along with two other accused — Mohasin Choudhary and Bhatkal — to purchase a sack to keep the bomb and a Nokia mobile, the prosecution has alleged as quoted by Mr. Rahman.

The bomb that was planted in the Pune eatery at 17:00 hours went off killing 17 persons including some foreigners and injuring over 60.

The six other co-accused charged along with Baig are — Yasim Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Faiyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Ansari——— all stated to be absconding.

Mr. Rahman took instructions from Baig, who was brought to the court without a shroud.

ATS officer Vinod Satav told the Magistrate that names of some witnesses had been deleted from the chargesheet to protect their identity.

Baig is charged under various sections of IPC, Explosives Substances Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Defence Counsel said he would contest the omission of witnesses’ names in higher court. The Counsel also said that Baig had denied all charges mentioned by the ATS.

The Magistrate committed the case to the Sessions Court where a special judge will hear it.

The massive chargesheet is kept in custody of the judge and its details were not made public.
>> Full Story

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Domestic bank loans to private sector up 17.4%

Total credit to the private sector increased by 15.5 percent to Rs. 1.36 trillion year-on-year in September with domestic banks increasing their lending by 17.4 percent to Rs.1.21 trillion and foreign banking units increasing their lending 1.8 percent to Rs.150.1 billion.
A year ago, total credit to the private sector had declined 5.3 percent amounting to Rs. 1.17 trillion, with domestic banking sector loans decreasing by 4.4 percent to Rs. 1.03 trillion.

Net credit to the government increased by 6.8 percent to Rs.693.1 billion. Credit from monetary authorities increased 43.1 percent to Rs. 100 billion, increased by 9.4 percent to Rs.495.4 billion from the domestic banking sector and increased 9.4 percent to Rs. 97.7 percent from foreign banking units.

Total credit to public corporations increased by 48.6 percent to Rs.104.6 billion with the credit from the domestic banking sector increasing by 14.4 percent to Rs. 80.5 billion.

The average weighted prime lending rate, applicable to high net-worth individuals and corporations, was 9.43 percent as at November 26, 194 basis points lower than 11.37 percent a year ago.

The average weighted deposit rate of the banking sector was 6.43 percent, 333 basis points lower than 9.76 percent a year ago.

The average weighted fixed deposit rate was 8.48 percent, 457 basis points lower than 13.05 percent a year ago.

The total number of active credit cards amounted to 816,521 as at end September down 2.85 percent from 840,509 a year ago. Outstanding balances amounted to Rs. 29.12 billion down 7.16 percent from Rs. 31.3 billion a year ago.

Excess liquidity in the banking system averaged Rs.126.33 billion each day during the week ended November 26.
>> Full Story

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spanish-Thai forgery probe reveals new links to LTTE

Spanish and Thai police investigating a gang that supplied forged passports to al-Qaeda linked groups have found new evidence of links to Sri Lanka's defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, Spanish authorities said today.

Spanish and Thai police are analysing material seized late on Tuesday in a joint operation in which 10 people -eight Pakistanis, a Nigerian and a Thai national - were arrested in the two countries, Spain's interior ministry said in a statement.

The 10 are suspected of providing forged passports to organisations linked to Al-Qaeda, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused of plotting the attacks in Mumbai that killed at least 166 people in November 2008, as well as to the Tamil Tigers.

Police seized forged passports, immigration documents, faked rubber stamps, computers, mobile phones, passport photos, British driving licences and sophisticated counterfeiting equipment in the swoop named Operation Kampai.

Spanish police experts "have travelled to Thailand and are working with Thailand's department of special investigations to analyse the numerous documents seized from the cell," the interior ministry said Friday.

"An initial examination of photographs seized has turned up evidence of the membership of some members of the terrorist organisation the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam."

The LTTE "has perpetrated bloody attacks, many of them by suicides, such as that which killed the former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

"Many of its members were based in Western countries, where they obtained financial assistance for the organisation through extortion and drug trafficking," it said.

The LTTE fought a violent 37-year campaign for an independent Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka before being crushed by government forces last year.

Thai police said yesterday that the three arrested in Thailand - two Pakistani men and a Thai woman - were part of criminal networks tied to "many terrorist attacks".

These included the 2004 Madrid bombings, when blasts on packed commuter trains in a city suburb killed 191 people and wounded 1,841 others. However, Spanish authorities have not confirmed any such link to those arrested.

Spanish police detained seven suspects - six Pakistanis and a Nigerian - in the northeastern city of Barcelona during the operation.
>> Full Story

Uttama Pooja - 8th medal awarding ceremony at Hingurakgoda

The fallen war heroes of Army, Navy, Air Force and Police, who sacrificed their noble lives to save their motherland from the ruthless LTTE terrorists for the past 3 decades were commemorated by presenting the "Uththama Pooja Prenama medal" to their beloved parents and wives was held at the Air Force base premises-Hingurakgoda today (03rd Dec). Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa participated to the event as the Chief Guest.

The welcome speech was presented by the president of Ranviru Seva Authority Mrs. Padma Wettawa. The gazette extra ordinary published by HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16th July 2010 was read out by the Director of Ranaviru Seva Authority Mr. Shirya Danansooriya which include the style and designation, description, ribbon, eligibility, awarding of the medal, forfeiture and restoration of the medal.

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking at the occasion stated that the medal is righteously presented to the kit and kin of those brave men and women of the armed services as tribute to their noble sacrifices made. Though there are a number of welfare schemes and projects underway for war heroes and their families the 'Uttana Pooja' medal was decided as an honour and appreciation of the direct contribution of the 'ranaviru families' in the humanitarian bid for permanent peace, he said.

Overall this is an opportunity to show our gratitude as a nation that never forgets its brave men and women. An example well set for our future generations to follow, Secretary Defence further asserted. 1736 family members of fallen war heroes received medals at the ceremony including 1170, 397, 169 respectively from Polonnaruwa, Trincomalle and Batticaloa districts.

Chairperson of the Ranaviru Seva Authority Mrs. Padma Wetthewa, Director Ranaviru Seva Authority Mr. Shriya Dananasooriya, Additional Secretary Ministry of Defence Mr. RMS Rathnayake, GA Polonnaruwa district Nimal Abesiri, Director Welfare Sri Lanka Air Force Air Vice Marshal Anura Silva, Commanding Officer SLAF Hingurakgoda Group Captain H.M.S.K.B Kotakadeniya were also present at the occasion.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

David Miliband called for Sri Lanka aid 'to win votes'

The former Foreign Secretary David Miliband's campaign to champion international aid and human rights during last year's humanitarian rights crisis in Sri Lanka was driven largely by the need to win the votes of the UK's large Sri Lankan Tamil population, according to the latest Wikileaks releases.


Richard Mills, a political officer at the US embassy, reported: "He said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka."

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sri Lankan Accountants Lure Global Outsourcers

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Southern China has its assembly plants. India has customer support centers, research laboratories and low-cost lawyers.

And Sri Lanka’s contribution to global outsourcing? Accountants — thousands of them, standing ready to crunch the world’s numbers.

As this tiny island nation staggers back from a bloody, decades-long civil war, one of its brightest business prospects was born from a surprising side effect of that conflict. Many Sri Lankans, for various reasons, studied accounting in such numbers during the war that this nation of about 20 million people now has an estimated 10,000 certified accountants.

An additional 30,000 students are currently enrolled in accounting programs, according to the Sri Lankan Institute of Chartered Accountants. While that ratio is lower than in developed economies like the United States, it is much greater than in Sri Lanka’s neighboring outsourcing giant, India.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Response to Dr. Rajasingham Jayadevan’s letter in the Sri Lanka Guardian

By Jagathvijaya Lekam

It is unfortunate that Dr. Jayadevan, under a facile facade of impartiality and objectivity, has sought to continue a debate that can only keep the wounds of racial acrimony festering well into the future in Sri Lanka . In addition, there is a not so subtle effort to somehow whitewash the LTTE and portray the security forces in the worst light. This of course will not contribute in any form to heal the wounds or move forward. Dr. Kohona’s defence of major General Shavendra Silva was based on published facts while Dr. Jayadevan relies on figments of his imagination, emotional outbursts, allegations traceable to the Tamil Net and innuendoes.

Dr. Jayadevan says that Shavendra Silva will remain accused until evidence backed by a transparent judicial inquiry discharges him. It is a strangely contorted view of the legal framework familiar to us all in the common law system to suggest that anyone remains guilty until he proves his innocence. Sheer convenience and a hypocritical mental agility readily contorts hollowed legal principles to advantage. Dr. Jayadevan suggests that the manifestations of the so called barbaric LTTE is the product of the uncivilized conduct of the Government forces against the Tamil civilian population. Of course, he forgets that this is the same Government that fed the civilian population of the Vanni for twenty seven years while the LTTE held it under its jackboot and diverted government supplied food for its own use, even using bags of rice to strengthen bunkers (photos available); it is the same Government that funded all the schools and teachers, the hospitals, the doctors and nurses and government servants in the Vanni for 27 long years while the LTTE, which Dr. Jayadevan now tries to whitewash, held the population of the Vanni in the grip of fascist terror, recruited thousands of children to be sacrificed in battle to attain the ambitions of a blood thirsty megalomaniac (UNICEF has recorded over 5,700 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE while Human Rights Watch records suggest over 20,000), forced parents, first to handover one child and then two for the same purpose, high-jacked oceangoing vessels in blatant acts of piracy and looted them (Farah II was the latest victim), held 300,000 civilians as hostages and bargaining chips as its scampered for cover escaping from the security forces, placed heavy weapons in the midst of the same civilians in order to deliberately attract retaliatory fire from government forces, killed almost all moderate Tamil leaders, starting with Jaffna Mayor Duraiappa, and including Thiruchelvem and Loganathan, at one point, refused the ICRC permission to evacuate the injured from Pudumatalan, invented the suicide jacket which is now widely used in the Middle-East and deployed women suicide bombers, etc. I am sure that Dr. Jayadevan is aware all of these but is cynical enough not to worry about them.

Today, the civilians in the North have not been heard to complain about the military presence in the North, particularly since the military is helping with demining and reconstruction. In a land where the youth had been sacrificed in poorly defended trenches, the military is building the schools, the clinics, the roads, the irrigation canals, etc. Where thousands of civilians, including children, had been trained to carry weapons and engage in acts of violence, security needs demand the presence of the security forces in the North. Buried weapons and explosives are still being uncovered on a regular basis in large quantities. A country that suffered daily LTTE’s bombings, drive-by shootings for 27 years, etc. is not going to easily forgive a Government that will relax security simply to satisfy the contorted manipulations of the likes of Dr. Jayadevan and his fickle minded Western friends.

Despite Dr. Jayadevan’s claim, the Government for its part has not prevented the facts from coming to light. In fact, if one took the trouble to examine the evidence provided before the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) by individuals in Colombo , in Kilinochchi, in Vavuniya and in Jaffna , it will become obvious that it has been very liberal in the way it has entertained evidence. The LLRC has made a number of interim recommendations which are now being implemented. The pathetic efforts of the people like Dr. Jayadevan to stir up doubts and suspicions does not appear to be shared even by the Western diplomatic representatives who are almost always present at the hearings of the Commission.

Dr. Jayadevan refers to the substantive evidence of killings of thousands of civilians in the war. As to where this evidence comes from will remain a mystery to individual observers. (He is free to provide this evidence to the LLRC.) Sadly, it may not be a mystery to those who are hell bent on besmirching the reputation of the one security establishment in the world that has succeeded in defeating a terrorist group long believed to be invincible, especially by Western analysts. Again Dr. Jayadevan wants Sri Lanka to be “guilty of an allegation” until it proves itself innocent of 7,000 civilians allegedly killed. The UN, at the level of an Under Secretary-General, dismissed this figure as unverified on the ground. It is a fact though, that the ICRC evacuated approximately 7,000 injured and their carers by sea from Pudumatalan. The fact that many of the dead were in sarongs, jeans and shorts does not mean that they were civilians. There is adequate evidence, in published material showing LTTE cadres manning gun positions, firing guns, carrying supplies etc., while attired in sarongs, jeans and shorts. In fact, I am certain that Dr. Jayadevan would have seen the LTTE’s own propaganda material shot in training camps where this is clearly evident. As to the allegation that white flag carrying LTTE leaders and their family members were killed is nothing but a figment of a wild imagination. As to why these leaders did not come out with white flags in time, like Daya master and George, until the final hours of the bloody shootout in the middle of the night is a mystery and as to why they decided to come out while simultaneously a group of LTTE fighters were desperately trying to shoot their way out from their encircled position is even a bigger mystery. To imagine that any sensible person would want to walk out through that hail of lead during the final clash defies logic.

Dr. Jayadevan is obviously a clever propagandist pathetically seeking to keep the LTTE dream alive. The LTTE accumulated enough weapons not only to realize its goal of a mythical Tamil homeland in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, approximately 1/3 of the country and 2/3 of its coastline, but to pose a threat across the border as well. Perhaps the dream was to resuscitate the Chola Tamil empire of the 12th century (refer to continuous propaganda pieces by the LTTE hailing this glorious Tamil past). Unfortunately, like in the 12th century when a prince from Polonnaruwa repeatedly assailed the Chola heartland causing the empire to collapse (see, Majumdar, Dutt and Chaudhury), again a leader from the South of Sri Lanka crushed the egg shells of Prabhakaran’s chauvinist dream. You may now be reassured that this dream, nay the delusion, is well and truly buried.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Zardari, MR agree to enhance economic, defence cooperation

Regional peace, money laundering, fight against militancy also discussed
by Zacki Jabbar

Pakistan and Sri Lanka yesterday agreed to work towards enhancing economic and defence cooperation.

Diplomatic and government sources told The Island, that the decision had been taken during one-to one talks between the visiting Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Colombo.

They said that Zardari’s four-day state visit, which commenced on Saturday, was aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries which dated back to Buddhist civilisation.

Sources said that regional peace, stability, money laundering and the fight against militancy had also figured in the discussions between the two leaders.

"The other areas agreed on were connectivity and cultural exchanges. Tourist,educational, technology and media sector exchanges were also discussed. The Pakistan Presidents visit is part of a long tradition of high-level contacts between the two countries," sources said.

Pakistani diplomatic sources said that Pakistan had stood by Sri Lanka in good and bad times and expected the same solidarity with Pakistan now.

"The security situation in Sri Lanka was never an issue for us to do business or visit there. We expect the same solidarity now. The situation in Pakistan is not so bad as it is made out to be by some media groups with vested interests," they said.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L.Peiris, asked to comment on his discussions with Zardari on the question of regional peace stability and the fight against militancy, told The Island that no country could act in isolation and that SAARC had to adopt a joint approach on the issue.

Money laundering, he said, was an equally serious problem that had to be tackled together as it was fast spreading its tentacles.

Prof. Peiris said: "The important thing is that violence is behind us and there is a huge scope for economic and social development. We discussed political, economic, social and cultural cooperation. Broad agreement was reached on enhanced bilateral trade in tea, sugar, betel leaves, edible oils etc. President Zadari will have a meeting the Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce tomorrow, where the specifics will be gone into."

Sri Lanka-Pakistan bilateral trade has increased from US$ 150 million to around US$ 350 million since the Free Trade Agreement signed in 2002 became operational in 2005. The two countries are also exploring the possibility of establishing an Investment Bank.

President Zardari, who is being accompanied by a forty member delegation that includes Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukthar and Board of Investment Chairman Saleem Mandaviwallais scheduled to visit Parliament this morning in connection with the revival of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association (SLPPFA.)

Sources said that the SLPPFA would function as a bipartisan grouping aimed at enhancing inter Parliamentary coordination and mutual support.



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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sri Lanka - the "beach-head" for a Tamil Homeland Ven. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sangha Nayake of America

Given below is the full text of the written submission made to the Lessons Learned & Reconciliation Commission in Colombo on 22 November, by Ven. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sangha Nayake of America and Abbot, Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, Los Angeles, California: "I would like to introduce myself. I am the Chief Sangha Nayake of America, President of the Sri Lankan Sangha Council of America and Canada, and Abbot of Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles.

I have been living in the United States for over thirty-four years. I am a dual citizen of both the United States and Sri Lanka. I have traveled annually back and forth between the two countries. I have remained in constant communication with friends and associates throughout the period of the LTTE War.

I have been witness to a number of events and privy to a great deal of information during this time that I feel would be relevant to your Commission’s proceedings. I have also written a number of articles supporting the Government, almost all of which were published in the Sri Lankan and international media.

I think the information I share with your commission worthwhile; it has to do with the reasons the war was prolonged for 35 years. I submit below the following list of categories is for your consideration:

1. During the late 1970’s Sri Lanka’s relations with India, its most powerful neighbor was not very good. The rift between the two countries, though not made public, provided Indian authorities sympathetic to the Sri Lankan pro-separatist Tamils to secretly allow them to train on India’s soil, providing them with weapons and other forms of assistance. This greatly impaired Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and put it at risk for civil war.

2. There are over 100 million ethnic Tamils scattered throughout the world without a "motherland" they can call their own. This has instilled in the Tamil consciousness an unfounded sense of low self-esteem. Tamil academics decided the way to remedy this situation was to establish a "beach-head" for a national ethnic identity; their own country.

Even though the Indian state of Tamil Nadu’s population is nearly 100% ethnic Tamils, and it is their ancient cultural homeland, they did not see the possibility of persuading that state to secede from the Indian Union. In the early 1990’s, a group of Tamil intellectuals meeting in Sacramento, California decided that Sri Lanka was the easiest target for achieving their goal and they began to actively support it.

3. During periods of war, the weapons dealers are the ones who really profit – supplying both sides of the conflict. Such was the case when the Israeli Navy trained Sri Lankan Navy personnel while in the same building they trained LTTE cadres to blow up ships.

Another example is the island of Phuket in southern Thailand where arms dealers and smugglers were based for years aiding the LTTE in the procurement of arms.

Meanwhile the Government of Thailand, a Buddhist country Government remained silent doing nothing, even though such activities are against their law.

4. Arms dealers were not only overseas nationals operating from other countries, there were isolated incidences of high-ranking Sri Lankans – both civilian and military used the conflict for personal gain.

Incidents have been recorded about Sri Lankan army officers selling bullets and petrol to the LTTE; some of which made millions, setting themselves up with comfortable lives in other countries.

Even in Sri Lanka it was not un-heard-of during the war for some Sri Lankan military families to enjoy certain perquisites, such as drivers, servants, and other amenities, which they would certainly have to give up if there was peace. For these two reasons those people had very little incentive to end the war for to do so would end their profits and benefits.

5. A major problem during the conflict with the LTTE was the NGO’s. These ostensibly humanitarian organizations from various countries descended on Sri Lanka in droves under the guise of helping the country end the conflict in positive and peaceful ways.

However they actually prolonged the war in a number of ways: (1) they raised funds abroad that would "dry up" if there was peace;

(2) their administrators lived lives of luxury in Sri Lanka which would certainly change if there was peace;

(3) whenever there was a minor incident (e.g. traffic accident or minor infraction by a member of the armed forces), instead of reporting the matter to the local police, they used it as propaganda running to the nearest embassy or diplomatic mission;

(4) generating propaganda leading to negatively biased media reports about the Government.

There are a host of reasons why the NGO’s did more harm in Sri Lanka than good. Let’s not forget Amnesty International and Alert, both of which were infiltrated by members of the Tamil diaspora; these Tamil infiltrators subsequently became the very individuals who created the agendas for these agencies operating in Sri Lanka.

6. The Tamil diaspora did an excellent job raising funds – not only for the LTTE’s armed conflict, but for financing very sophisticated public relations campaigns against the Government of Sri Lanka.

A perfect example is the hiring of Bruce Fein, a former US Deputy Attorney based in Washington DC. Various LTTE front organizations in the US and Canada used him (in fact, they are still using him, paying him large monthly retainers) in the following ways:

(1) to write and publish articles against the GOSL;

(2) to file lawsuits (for genocide) against key members of the GOSL’s leadership;

(3) to lobby influential members of the US Congress (e.g. Sen. Patrick Leahey, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee) to formulate and implement US policy that was detrimental to the wellbeing of Sri Lanka and its Government.

Members of the diaspora whose sons and daughters have been educated in US universities obtain degrees in international affairs and political science manage to get jobs as interns or other staff positions with members of the US Congress. These "interns" were actually the very individuals who often wrote the policy-changing memos that condemned the GOSL to the US Government.

Another example is the way the Tamil diaspora managed to get the attention of the BBC bringing them over to their side in regards to swaying public opinion in their favor.

7. The Sri Lankan Government basically was not effective in defending itself in the crucial world media arena.

Neglecting to hire professional media strategists and experts to manage their "spin," they instead relied on Sri Lankan embassy staffs around the world who had little, if any, experience or expertise to be able to generate positive counter-messages.

When the embassies did hire "media professionals" these were usually Sri Lankan expatriates who lived in that country. These individuals did not have the experience, credentials, or contacts with the media companies of those countries that shaped world opinion – even though they may be highly-qualified in Sri Lanka.

The results were completely ineffective. The Government of Sri Lanka was advised repeatedly that needed help in this critical area or there could be dire consequences (which is what we are dealing now).

8. There have been a few cases of high-ranking Sri Lankan politicians from opposition parties who travel to various countries spreading negative or false information – rumors – about Sri Lanka.

Their motivations seem to have been either to win the Nobel peace prize, to line their pockets, to foment dissent in the "motherland," or to increase their power base back home.

The information disseminated against Sri Lanka by these self-serving individuals has severely hurt Sri Lanka’s image overseas. Our country will perhaps pay dearly for years to come for this dissemination of misinformation by those individuals.

9. There have been numerous cases of Sri Lankan Tamils – as well Sri Lankan Sinhalese seeking political asylum in foreign countries who claim persecution and brutality by the Government.

In order to obtain asylum and permanent refugee resident status in these countries, many of them told false, greatly exaggerated negative stories about their treatment back home. These horror stories have influenced the official policy of these countries in regards to Sri Lanka – as well as public opinion and the media – in a variety of deleterious ways.

10. Fundamental and evangelical Christian groups using the turmoil created by the LTTE’s terrorism which was a drain on the countries’ resources as an opportunity to proselytize for their faiths.

They have been very successful in their efforts, causing a tremendous weakening of traditional culture: Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim. These fundamentalist Christians having significant connections in the world’s media, have managed to publish false and damaging stories, such as "Buddhist killing Christians and Hindus," etc. Almost without exception these Christian sects were wholeheartedly in support of the LTTE agemda throughout the entire conflict.

11. The majority of foreign embassy staff personnel in Colombo are people of ethnic Tamil descent. Most of these Tamil embassy employees were affiliated with the LTTE, and gave biased information to their superiors, which ultimately added to the negative opinion the world has of Sri Lanka.

12. Perhaps an important item for consideration is the fact that although the Buddhist and Hindu cultures have been living together on the island of Sri Lanka for two thousand years there are only a single handful of Tamil Buddhist monks.

The Sangha members – including myself – are the only ones to blame for this total lack of understanding between the cultures.

While Buddhist monks never bothered to learn the Tamil language and culture, members of the various Christian sects, including the Roman Catholics, not only learned the language and culture, they ordained Tamil clergymen as well. There are currently thousands of ethnic-Tamil clergymen living and working in Christian churches throughout Sri Lanka.

Resolutions and Recommendations

Based on the twelve observations above, I would like to offer the following resolutions and recommendations for implementation (not listed in any particular order of priority or importance):

1.) The citizens of our country should identify themselves as "Sri Lankans" and not by their ethnicity.

2.) Develop a standardized non-religious program for all public schools, in which loving-kindness is practiced as a group at the beginning of each day.

3.) Expand the educational system to include private universities, vocational courses, entrepreneurial programs, and other catchment devices for young people who cannot gain Government university entrance.

4.) Pirivena education for young monks should include the following languages as compulsory subjects: Sinhalese, Tamil, English, and Pali.

5.) Develop an exchange student program between the North and South during the school holidays in order to promote better understanding between ethnic groups.

6.In Sri Lanka, all important documents, i.e., Birth Certificates, etc. must be in three languages: Sinhalese, Tamil, and English, so that no one feels left out. This should be implemented immediately.

7.) The Sangha must give any interested Tamil person the opportunity to become a Buddhist monk and nun if they so wish.

8.) A translation program must be initiated that makes the literature of the Sinhalese and Tamils available to both populations, encouraging an appreciation for both cultures. Multicultural programs of music, drama, and arts should be developed.

9.) Sports programs (e.g. cricket, football, etc.) must be developed to accept any participant, regardless of ethnicity. Team participation always develops closer understanding.

10. In order to improve the Government of Sri Lanka’s world image professional media and image-building public relations experts experienced in the area of international relations should be utilized.

This includes the overseas diplomatic missions. Expertise should not only be drawn from within the Sri Lankan community.

11. In order to avoid future terrorist attacks, cooperation from Sri Lanka’s neighbors must be secured. It should be pointed out to them that they are making themselves vulnerable to this type of terrorism by allowing weapons dealers to operate in their countries.

Tighter laws must be put in place against illegal weapons dealers, and there must be a tightening on international laws in regards to same. Regional associations of countries (e.g. S.A.A.R.C. and A.S.E.A.N.) need to develop strong policies against such dealings through cooperative government-to-government discussions.

12.) NGO’s that wish to function in Sri Lanka must apply and be vetted for any ulterior motives. NGO’s should be licensed and regulated, and adhere to a strict policy of non-interference in internal affairs of the State.

13.) Employment opportunities should be open to all and based on qualifications not political influence. There must be equal opportunities for all Sri Lankans.

14.) Initiate friendly discussions with the diplomatic missions in Colombo to insure fair hiring practices of locals for their staff. The goal would be to seek the end of employing exclusively one race over another.
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