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.
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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.
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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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SM Krishna cancels meet with Sri Lanka's main Tamil party

External affairs minister SM Krishna today concluded his four-day visit to Sri Lanka without meeting the country's main Tamil political party, TNA, once considered as a proxy of the LTTE.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said Krishna was to hold talks with them today morning, but the meeting was put off till noon giving him time to return to Colombo from the southern town of Hambantota where he opened a consulate.

"Later we were told that the minister is flying straight from Hambantota to the (international) airport and there is no possibility to have the scheduled meeting," TNA legislator Suresh Premachandra said.

Tamil parties were disappointed over the failure to meet Krishna who had been pushing Sri Lanka to press ahead with devolution of power after the end of hostilities last year.

The TNA which was once seen as a proxy of Tamil Tigers has distanced itself from the guerrillas after their defeat in a no-holds-barred military campaign that ended in May last year with the killing of the top Tiger leadership.

Krishna's visit to the island coincided with what the Tigers used to mark as their heroes' week. It was on November 27 that the late Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran used to deliver his annual policy statement.
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