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Letters


How the manipulators within the UNP, engineered the exodus of the reformists

Since the takeover of the Party Leadership by Ranil Wickremesinghe in 1995, he changed the Party Constitution to make him leader for Life. Then changes were made, to make the Party’s Working Committee a tool of the Leader. Unfortunately, the Party has been taken over by a group of Manipulators, whose sole objective is to ensure their continued grip on the Party. The welfare of the Party and the country are of no consequence. Thus, with the connivance of the Manipulators, they set about appointing Ranil’s cronies to key positions within the Party, such as District Leaders, Electoral Organizers, Youth League officers, Trade Union officers and so on,.

Senior UNP Politicians, with long loyal service to the Party, were removed countrywide- -if they did not become “yes” men. Thus, a mafia style plan to take over the Party was conceived by these Manipulators. As part of this plan, senior politicians were undermined at every opportunity, they were kept away from public platforms, and not given time to speak in Parliament. During the short-lived 2002-4 UNP Government, Ministries headed by experienced senior Cabinet members were undermined at every opportunity. An example is the Power and Energy Ministry, where the Minister’s plans for Power Generation Plants such as Norochchalai, Upper Kotmale, Kerawalapitiya etc. were stalled and blocked by the Manipulators. Other Ministries headed by seniors had similar experiences. Unelected Manipulators were appointed to the most powerful Cabinet Sub Committees such as the Economic Policy Committee. Corruption was rampant and condoned by Ranil Wickremesinghe. These unelected individuals even interfered with the smooth functioning of these ministries.

The Manipulators are in control of large amounts of money, collected for General and Presidential Elections from private and corporate donors. Sums collected, reportedly running into billions, have not gone through the Party Treasurer. The cronies were given unlimited resources, while those given to committed, hard working senior politicians were limited, so that the performance of the seniors could be faulted.

The conspiracy was to remove the remaining Reformists from all Party positions at the 2006 Party Convention.
Realizing that the Party had no chance of an electoral victory with these Manipulators, committed, dedicated UNPers called for Party Reforms, as far back as 2001. With the electoral defeats of 2004 and 2005, the call for Party Reforms became even stronger. After the electoral defeat of 2004, a Committee chaired by a former party chairman N.G.P. Panditharatne, was set up by the Party Working Committee, to inquire into the defeats and suggest reforms. The comprehensive and far-reaching recommendations of this Committee, were never acted upon. This Report was not even tabled at the Working Committee. Proposals for Reforms were made by many sections of the Party, including UNP Professionals. As calls for Reforms became more vocal, a Reform Group was formed. It was probably then that the Manipulators decided to activate their most devious plan, to engineer the exodus of the Reformists. The Manipulators believed that with the exodus of the Reformists, they can take full control of the Party, and pack all the key positions with their cronies.

Hence, part of the plan was to appoint Committee upon Committee to discuss Reforms and delay decisions as much as possible. Also, to offer some cosmetic Reforms which, they were confident, would not be accepted by the Reformists. They planted concocted stories in the Media, through their paid journalists, to discredit the Reformists. Every effort was made to weaken the determination and unity of the reformists, with the offer of Party positions and money.

Meanwhile an alarming development for the Manipulators was the consensus reached between Party Representatives, comprising mainly of Reformists, and the Government for a common stand on key issues. This had to be sabotaged. Ranil Wickremesinghe, on the advice of the Manipulators, hijacked the talks and agreed to an ineffective MoU with the Government, leaving out many key issues:-The MoU was trumpeted among the international community as a great achievement, whereas, it was not worth the paper it was written on.
This left the Reformists with no choice but to join the Government. They could have resigned from the Party and Parliament. But then, the Manipulators would have achieved their objectives.

It is sad that a great Party such as the UNP, which was headed by giants such as D.S. Senanayake, Sir John Kotalawela, Dudley Senanayake, J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa, is today, controlled by a group of Manipulators. Appointments are based on cronyism and other considerations. Not on suitability or merit.
It is now up to the UNP Parliamentary Group to insist that meaningful reforms are carried out, ensure the expulsion of the Manipulators from the Party, help arrest corruption, so that the Party could be rebuilt with the return of the Reformists, its credibility restored, and the Party made electable once again.
UNP Constitution
Chapter 7, Article 7.1
Composition 7.1
The Party Working Committee shall comprise of the Leader of the Party and all the Office Bearers of the Party, and any other members annually nominated by the Party Leader from amongst the members of the National Executive Committee, with the total not exceeding 50.
Chapter 8, Article 8. I
Elections 8. I
The National Executive Committee shall elect the Leader of the Party when there is a vacancy. Such power may be delegated by a resolution of the National Executive Committee to the Party Working Committee.
Cuda Ellepola
Kandy

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Was Saddam’s assassination a device to keep Muslims divided?

There is nothing the US wouldn’t do to ensure its interests are not jeopardized by anybody. Mass killings of civilians, and even livestock, in Afghanistan and Iraq, only demonstrates the mass plunder and looting it has carried out in other countries, in the name of protecting its interests. The Empire, it seems, has gone mad.

Israel, its proxy in the Middle East, undertook a campaign to wipe out the Hezbullah, to pave the way to attack Iran. But the unexpected happened. The Hezbullah gave Israel a sound thrashing. The streets in Arab countries, as well as in other Muslim countries, came alive in support of the Hezbullah. There were cheers from other countries such as Venezuela too. Gone was the Sunni-Shia divide. Hezbullah’s leader, Nasrallah became an overnight hero in ‘Sunni’ countries worldwide. Street demonstrations in Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain indicated the divide no longer existed among ordinary citizens. Maybe the ruling elites would have wanted to keep things on the boil. But then, even they did U-turns, when they found things could get out of hand. The Sunni-Shia divide was going out of fashion, as polls in Baghdad indicated. More than 52% of Iraqi’s questioned in Baghdad said they were Muslims not Sunni or Shia. Something had gone wrong and for sure, something had to be done pronto, to resurrect the age-old passions that divided Sunnis and Shias.

So, they decided to kill Saddam Hussein. The strategy was two pronged. One, to convey to the American people their president -the retired drunkard - George Bush, had got rid of a tyrant, and hence, vote for his party at the elections next day. But they didn’t. Instead, they gave him a routing he least expected. After all, hadn’t they voted for him, four years after he rigged the elections to become president? Bush has a lot of head scratching to do - Dick Cheney would do the thinking.

The other, to divide the Muslims on sectarian lines. Saddam’s killing was to be portrayed as Shias killing a Sunni. And to a certain extent, it did succeed. Arabs streets came alive again with a different message. This time, in support of Saddam Hussein, whom they saw as a Sunni killed by Shias. Or, that was what the corporate media portrayed. But they missed a point. The world does not see the current ruling elites in Iraq as Sunnis or Shias or, even Muslims for that matter. Maliki and his coterie of henchmen are seen for what they are - American puppets - the same way the British see Tony Blair. The pro Saddam demonstrations were actually anti-American and not ant-Shia. The ‘intelligence’ guys at the Pentagon wouldn’t have dreamed things would turn out this way.

To make matters worse for Bush, Saddam Hussein was seen as a martyr. He went to his death bravely.... like a man. Pictures of his hanging, spread around the world, had many people admiring him. George Bush and his neo-cons and ‘conners’ had made him a hero.
Still the Empire’s game of divide and destroy, continues unabated. News has it that a busload of Iranian soldiers were bombed in a ‘Sunni’ area in Iran, killing more than a dozen.

Hameed Abdul Karim
Wellawatte

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Discipline in schools and public places

In our good old days, there was respect for elders, our teachers, our superiors and other fellow beings, while there was strict discipline at places of worship, schools, and other public places. Having inherited from our colonial rulers, a splendid and efficient administrative setup, an untainted judicial system, a disciplined and commendable Armed Services and an efficient Police Service, with little grave crime, islandwide, and a very laudable education system from dedicated missionaries of all major religions. The Public servants performed their duties in a fair and just manner, courteous and efficient, in accordance with the rules and regulations, considering their duty as a service to the public.

The teachers themselves then, lived up to the ideals of their calling. At: that time, discipline, in and out of school, a moral code of conduct, sportsmanship and excellence at public examinations were the hallmarks of prestigious schools.
I know of then students, who, at home, just because their unmindful elders sat nearby on the floor, out of respect for them, wrote their school lessons standing aside their table and chair. This is just one solitary instance of the many, how we of the old school respected our elders then, the ancient traditional custom in Buddhist homes, of the young prostrating at the feet of their elders; the Islamic custom of greeting with “Salaams”, when they meet other Muslims and offering such “Salaams” on other prescribed occasions. The Catholics and Hindus greet each other according to their customs, when they meet at their respective places of worship, still prevalent in some homes and other places. Some of these worthy customs are now forgotten.

Then, sadly and sharply, came the harmful TV and movies, video cassettes, jackpot etc., in and around Colombo and other areas. Now, there is no discipline and order among students, both in and out of school. For various reasons, students challenge each other for fights, often culminating in serious consequences, with some parties setting up some questionable characters using dangerous weapons. Some students even smoke cigarettes, consume alcoholic drinks, and drugs. Some students get involved in serious ‘crimes such as rape, burglaries and even murder.
Some parents or guardians involve teachers in wanton arguments, to the embarrassment of their own children’s teachers. Some students, regardless of other classes, talk aloud, compelling their own teachers to speak louder. There are inter-factional clashes at our universities too, with ragging, injury to persons and damage to public property, providing there was no proper discipline even in the portals of higher learning. This is just a drop in the ocean, when compared with the many instances we often hear of now.

Parents, as lawful custodians of the children, should be vigilant and aware of their children’s conduct during and after school, especially when they go to tuition classes, ensuring they don’t get involved in nefarious activities.
So, in the larger interest of our society and the fair name of our motherland, it is about time the authorities concerned, took cognizance of school children’s indiscipline, and adopted timely and effective remedial measures to curb this trend, before things get out of hand.
Al-Haj M.S.A. Rahim
Chief Inspector of Police (Retd)

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