Soon BIA to be open at night
The government has decided
to reopen the Bandaranaike International Airport at
night, after the delivery of sophisticated defence
equipment to prevent LTTE air strikes in the future.
The defence establishment will soon take delivery of 3D
radars which will be able to detect low-flying Tiger
craft, The Nation learns.
The radars are to arrive in Sri Lanka shortly, after
which the international airport will be open for air
traffic at night.
BIA was closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. following an
LTTE air strike on Colombo on April 28 this year.
clips veteran pilot’s wings
The Presidential Security
Division (PSD) yesterday prevented an experienced
SriLankan Airlines pilot from flying President Mahinda
Rajapaksa back to Colombo after his visit to Geneva, The
The PSD insisted that Head of SriLankan’s Ground and Air
Safety Unit and pilot with 14 years experience, Sri
Segaram, could not fly President Rajapaksa because he
did not have ‘security clearance’.
Sri Segaram, a former air force pilot with clearance to
fly VVIP passengers, has flown both Presidents J.R.
Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa during their stints
The President who went to Geneva to address an ILO
summit returned to Colombo yesterday, via London.
to take COPE culprits to courts
The Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna (JVP) is set to take legal action against the
alleged fraudsters including present government
ministers and public officials who were named in the
Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report which
revealed misappropriation of public funds amounting to a
whopping Rs. 150 billion in 26 state institutions.
A JVP spokesman told The Nation that his party will
shortly file a court case in the hope of bringing the
perpetrators to book.
“Despite the COPE report disclosing that Ministers and
other officials in state institutions were part of a
massive fraud, the government has failed to take any
punitive action against these ministers and other
officials. Rs. 150 billion is a big amount, not even the
Samurdhi or the health sector has such an amount of
money to spend. So we asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa
to take action against the culprits, but the government
is doing nothing. So we are going to the courts,” he
said. Adding that legal action will be filed by his
party against whom the JVP has sufficient evidence to
prove them guilty.
Red Cross wants foreign investigators over killings
The Sri Lanka Red Cross (SLRC)
is likely to request President Mahinda Rajapaksa to
bring in foreign investigators to inquire into the
killing of their two workers whose bodies were found in
Tomorrow (18) would mark two weeks since officials from
the Sri Lankan Red Cross (SRC) met with the President
who gave his assurance in finding the culprits behind
“Two weeks are officially going to be over as of Monday
and we are concerned. If the police have made no
breakthrough, we would like to have foreign
investigators involved to bring justice to the case,”
Neville Nanayakkara, Director General of the SLRC told
The Nation yesterday.
“We are currently waiting the President’s return from
Geneva and would like to meet with him again soon to
discuss this matter,” he added.
Suspects in fake gold coin scam
Three suspects of an organized gang who were involved in
a massive fraud in collecting money by pawning fake gold
chains to state banks and other private pawning centers
were remanded till June 25 by the Colombo Chief
Magistrate and Additional District Judge Namal Bandara
The Slave Island police producing the suspects before
court said that they were able to bust the fraud by
questioning one suspect who was arrested while he was
trying to pawn a gold plated chain at a state bank in
The fraud has been planned and operated by a couple
Shivathambi Raj and Sathasivam Manjula who were lodging
at Kotahena and they were supported by another person
called Shivalingam Maheshwaran who was also lodging at
the same place though he is from Pussellawa area.
Who threatened whom?
Details of a mobile phone that has been used to threaten
Gampola district UNP MP, A. R. M. Cadar mysteriously
bears the name and address of the MP himself, according
to the police.
The Kollupitiya police along with the Gampola police
commenced investigation into the alleged threats to the
Member of Parliament after Cadar told Parliament last
week that his life was under threat.
The latest investigations have revealed that the details
of the phone that has been used by the anonymous caller
to threaten the MP, bore the name, address and including
the number of the MP himself.
According to Cadar, he has received two death threats,
on April 16 and May 22 respectively.
The callers he said have threatened to kill him. He
further said he strongly suspected Muslims to be behind
“From the voice I knew that Muslims were behind this,”
he told The Nation yesterday.
He said however he was shocked to see the police
producing to him details of his own number and address
in the activity report gathered from the telephone
company after the initial investigation conducted by
He said he has never used phones with Hutch connection
but added strangely what the police have discovered had
his number registered with the phone that had Hutch
Commission suspends inquiries into vital killings
Inquiries in to 16 incidents including the assassination
of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the
slaying of 17 aid workers in Muttur, the killing of 68
persons at Kebethigollawa and the assassination of TNA
MP N. Raviraj will be suspended temporarily for want of
a system to provide assistance and protection to victims
and witnesses wishing to provide relevant information.
Chairman of the Legal Aid Commission, S. Wijeratna who
is also a member of the Presidential Commission of
Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious
Violations of Human Rights disclosed this during a
recent discussion with Non Governmental Orgnizations at
Mrs. Manori Muthtetuwegama, Mrs. Jazeema Ismail, Dr. D.
Nesiah, Javeed Yousuf and Douglas Premaratna also...
Rajapaksa Govt. loses credibility
the government losing credibility? This is the pertinent
question being asked in every nook and corner of the country
Everybody seems to be concerned about the developing trend that
the government, which was elected by the popular vote of the
people, is fast losing credibility due to the short-sightedness
of its leaders.
The interview given by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to
the BBC and Reuters is a pathetic disposition of his ability to
grasp things in the right spirit. In fact, the background to the
interview granted to Reuters and the BBC was nothing if not pure
coincidence, pointing to a significant lack of foresight on the
part of the Defence Secretary.
On Monday, Reuters Bureau Chief Simon Gardner and BBC
Correspondent Roland Buerk went to the Defence Ministry to
obtain permission to travel to the LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi.
Unable to meet Secretary Rajapaksa, the two journalists went
back the next day.
The meeting got off to a bad start with Rajapaksa claiming that
the international media was behind the negative propaganda Sri
Lanka was getting overseas. Rajapaksa had charged that the
government was not given a voice in international media reports.
It was then that Gardner and Buerk offered to give him an
opportunity to grant an interview. The rest of course is now
theatrics; the rage
Political theatrics are in fashion these days. In
the immediate aftermath of the lodge controversy,
there has been no shortage of regrets followed by
regrets over the expression of regrets, leaving
everyone in doubt as to what the real government
thinking was behind the incident where Tamil
civilians were evicted from lodges in the city and
forcibly transported to Vavuniya 10 days ago.
Last Monday, no less than Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickremanayake, the government’s chief
representative in parliament and the man who is
supposed to command the confidence of the House,
called the event a “mistake” and unequivocally
expressed his regrets. It would not happen again, he
Just when the numerous opposition parties, human
rights organisations and media were about to heave a
collective sigh of relief, believing all’s well that
ends well, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
sprang into the limelight, justifying what was done
Deduru Oya: Diversion to disaster
Sunil is not a happy man. He wished his parents had sent him to school, even
though they were very poor. His wife Kusumawathie asks him not to curse his dead
parents. Sunil looks desperate.
“In a few days, we will have to leave this village. How will we survive? We know
nothing about farming,” he says.
Sunil is a brick builder. He fears for his livelihood and his family, when they
are evicted from the area, because the land in which they are to be resettled,
is not suited for brick building – the only way Sunil knows to eke out a living
to feed his wife and two daughters.
It is not only Sunil’s family of four but, 700 families in the Kurunegala
District would have to suffer the same plight, because of the Deduru Oya
Irrigation Project. It is not only the farmers but, all those whose livelihoods
depend wholly on their traditional lands that will be severely affected by the
displacement. This was why the villagers directed their wrath on Chamal
Rajapaksa when he visited the area.
These families of about 3500 people in all, are being forced to vacate their
land in Walpaluwa, Pothuwewa, Thambarawa, Kithulwehera and Malangane areas
within the Wariyapola Divisional Secretariat, as a result of the project.
In bygone times this project area was a strict nature reserve called the
“Queen’s Forest”, where elephants roamed quite freely, according to an elder
personage in the village. With the government acquiring lands, vis-a-vis the
1972 Constitution, these villagers settled here, making agriculture their
livelihood. Even today, the village is still very verdant and rustic.
In the 1970s they started cultivating paddy, vegetable and coconut.
The Bench, Bar and You
General is not partial’
Q: The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP)
has issued their first public statement. What are your reactions
to the observations on the lack of independence of the
commission and inadequate witness protection in keeping with
A: We have finances to hire private counsel. State counsels from
the Attorney General’s Department are also paid some percentage
of their salary for work done for the commission. That is the
tradition in the country and there is legal provision for it.
Our commission consists of seven members. They are very
qualified and possess experience. For example, one of the
commissioners, Mr. Douglas Premaratna has more than 25 years of
experience and has served as Solicitor General. I have over 35
years experience in judicial service. Mr. S.S. Wijeratna, a
lawyer served in the United Nations for about 20 years in
various capacities. He is at present the Chairman of the Legal
Aid Commission. Mr. Javed Yousuf a former state counsel and
diplomat, Mrs. Manori Muththettuwegama very experienced lawyer
and human rights activist, Mrs. Jeezima Ismail, well known...
Military dictates theatre of battle
Following a stormy week at the hands of the international
community following the eviction of Tamil lodgers, and in view
of the Commander in Chief, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, taking
wing to Geneva, the National Security Council did not meet this
Instead, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who ran into a
storm over the eviction of lodgers and a hard hitting interview
with an international news agency, met some of the commanders on
On Friday, the Defence Secretary met IGP Victor Perera who had
offered to resign but later, reversed his decision. It was
President Rajapaksa who ordered...
devalue Test cricket” - Madugalle
International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle
called upon the cricket nations not to devalue the standard of Test cricket.
“We should concentrate on improving the quality of cricket rather than the
quantity of cricket. We must also ensure that Test cricket which is your icon
product should not be compromised in terms of standards. Test cricket is really
the jewel in your crown,” said Madugalle.
“Whatever we do we must ensure that every Test match that one plays is competed
by the best and you see the high standards of cricket being played. That is
something as a cricketer and as an administrator and a love of the game I’d like
to see,” Madugalle told The Nation when asked for his views on the present state
trio at FIFA Congress
Sri Lanka Football represented by Hurley Silvera, president, Hafiz Marikar,
secretary and Lakshman Hewapana, treasurer attended the 57th FIFA Congress in
At this conference 207 countries represented by nearly 1500 delegates elected
Sepp Blatter president uncontested for another four-year term.
Soon after the Confederation the Sri Lanka delegation met several football
promoters from other countries and discussed ways and means to promote Sri Lanka
They met the Crown Prince of Saudi and also had a discussion with the AFC
President Bin Hamam.
From there they visited London, on an invitation and met several football
lovers, who have given their willingness to help Sri Lanka football.
will be the key to Bangladesh’s success
Bangladesh considered the minnows of Test cricket will be with us today when
they arrive for a series of three Tests and three One-day Internationals. This
will be Bangladesh’s third Test tour of Sri Lanka having previously come in 2002
and again in 2005-6. What has been Bangladesh’s greatest downfall is there
batting which has failed on both occasions and let them down so badly that they
have lost both series by 0-2 margins.
Their Test record since being admitted a full member of the ICC in 2000 does not
make good reading – 46 Tests producing just a solitary win and 40 losses with
five draws. Their last Test series against India at home last month saw them
crushed by an innings and 239 runs in the second Test at Dhaka after the first
had been drawn at Chittagong largely due to rain.
On this occasion Bangladesh has been given an additional Test and unless they
show some improvement in their batting to counter the Sri Lankan bowling
spearheaded by the indomitable Muttiah Muralitharan the series is in great
danger of following its predecessors.
Tournament or friendlies?
Is it high time to bring the curtain down on the schools rugby league
tournament? With the unpleasant episodes that have occurred mid-way in the
season no one will be surprised if the majority stands in the affirmative.
Several issues have risen over the disciplinary levels of players with the old
boys playing a big role in schools rugby more than the players.
With the above plights most of the rugby officials in the local schools have
started to give hints of their interest for friendly fixtures. Perhaps it may be
ironical because it was really the schools that backed up this tournament during
the inception. Most of the masters in charge at leading rugby playing schools
when contacted stated that they want to see a change in the manner the
tournament is held.
committed no crime”
Q: How would you distinguish
between the military campaign being conducted now and that of
previous Eelam wars?
A: The biggest difference I see here is that the President is
handing down the security strategy to his officials, but the
military strategy is a matter for the armed forces. I have given
this freedom to the forces. Working out the military strategy is
completely dependent on the chief of defence staff and the
commanders of the three forces.
Immediately after the President was elected, we did a complete
study of the situation and worked out a strategy. I can assure
you, there are no politics involved in the military strategy. We
have given the military complete independence. Handling of the
forces is done by the tri-force commanders and we have achieved
good results. For the first time we have three commanders who as
junior officers were involved in almost all the previous
Take for instance the Army Commander. Even as a senior captain,
he was commanding a company and was involved in major
operations. From the very junior level he was involved in
military strategy, whereas most previous commanders got involved
in operations at a very late stage, when they reached a senior
level in the military structure.
For instance, the present Army Commander has commandeered a
company, battalions, brigades, and a division and was in charge
of security forces in the north.
The commanders are well versed in the operational side, they
know the enemy point of view, they know their men very well and
have worked with them and they read the battles well because of
their previous experience.
government is a set of jokers!”
Q: You filed action in court against the sale of NTT shares to a
Malaysian company and there are allegations that a member of the
government stood to earn a massive commission from this deal.
Could you name this government member?
A: The Public Enterprise Reforms Commission came under me when I
was Skills and Enterprise Development Minister. At the time
there were about seven interested parties. After I was removed
from the cabinet Mr. Basil Rajapaksa went to Japan with Mr.
Ralph Marshall from this Malaysian company. Therefore this
allegation – especially made by Mr. Wimal Weerawansa in
parliament – you can guess who he was referring to. At the same
time though it is called a US $ 10 million deal, my assessment
is that the total deal amounts to about Rs $ 280 million. At the
same time NTT share values have gone up over the last few weeks
because they have obtained TV Radio 3G and other licenses and
duty free concessions for five years – Telecom has got all this,..