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Sunday June 24th, 2007

AG slams IIGEP chief
Attorney General C. R. de Silva in a hard hitting letter to the Chairman of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), Justice P.N Bhagwati has accused the group of over stepping their mandate to monitor the progress of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) appointed by the President.
The AG has particularly taken offence at the two public statements issued by the IIGEP, which have been very critical of the progress made by the CoI and the role of the AG’s department in the whole exercise.
The IIGEP was established by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in February..

President to launch islandwide political campaign on July 26
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government will launch the development of the Sun Rise region encompassing 43 AGA divisions in the East on July 26.
July 26 marks the anniversary of the commencement of the Mavil Aru Operation.
Highly placed government sources said that President Rajapaksa would also launch a countrywide political campaign to coincide with the Sun Rise region development plan.
He said that there would be 43 major development programmes launched on that day.


Please forgive me

Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera begged the country for forgiveness for having backed the wrong candidate at the 2005 presidential poll at the inauguration of the SLFP Mahajana Wing at Attanagalla on Friday. Samaraweera dropped a bombshell in Parliament when he joined the opposition to protest the extremist policies of the Rajapaksa administration. Samaraweera was at one time one of Rajapaksa’s closest allies and is largely credited with having brought the President into power.  (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)

JB new Ambassador to Thailand
Professor of Sinhala at the University of Colombo, eminent linguist and historian J.B Dissanayake has been named the ambassador designate to Thailand by President Mahinda Rajapaksa
The Nation learns.
Professor Dissanayake, a product of Ananda College Colombo, graduated from the University of Peradeniya in 1961. He later went on a Fulbright scholarship to the University of California, Berkley to read for a Masters in linguistics and obtained a PhD from the University of Colombo.
President Chandrika Kumaratunge bestowed the honourary title of Deshamanya to Professor Dissanayake for his scholarly services to the nation. The author of numerous books on linguistics, culture and history Professor Dissanayake was awarded...




CBK back on June 29?
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga is expected to return to the Island on June 29, according to informed sources.
She traveled to London to attend her daughter Yashodara’s wedding that took place according to Sinhala tradition.
Reports also said among other invitees were several heads of state, who were in power during President Kumaratunga`s regime and relatives of Yashodara`s husband Dr. Roger Walker.

Kuwaiti Ambassador hosts President
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was hosted to dinner last week by Kuwaiti Ambassador for Sri Lanka where he was seen with most of the Arab ambassadors.
Informed sources said President Rajapaksa contravening protocol arrived at around 8.30 pm and spent more than three hours chatting with all the ambassadors of Arab countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has discussed with the ambassadors present regarding an oil exploration project in Mannar and the current political situation in the country.
It appeared that the ambassadors were pleased to be associated with the President.

Jeyaraj drops bombshell, rejects District Councils
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) firebrand and Trade Minister Jeyeraj Fernandopulle, in a startling revelation yesterday said that the District Council proposal put forward by the SLFP was inadequate to meet the aspirations of the Tamils.
Addressing a large gathering in Colombo at the annual general meeting of the Muslim Media Forum the minister raised concerns about offering the district as a unit of devolution when the Tamils have been historically clamouring for a separate state.
He pointed out that offering a small district to a minority group that has been demanding for a separate state was not in any manner going to solve the ethnic conflict.
Instead he suggested that the Indian model of federalism should be introduced with wide ranging powers to the peripheries.

Co-chairs to discuss HR abuse
The fast deteriorating law and order situation in Sri Lanka and the prolonging violation of human rights are expected to take the centre stage at the forthcoming meeting of the Co-chairs, to be held in Norway on Tuesday June 26.
A spokesman for the Co-chairs told The Nation peace initiatives this time has gone third in the list of priority while human rights violations and especially the declining law and order situation in Sri Lanka has come on top of the list for discussion by the members of the Co-chairs.
Norway will host a meeting of the Sri Lanka Co-chairs, which will bring together representatives from the EU, Japan, the US and Norway.
The US will be represented by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher. Special Representative Yasushi Akashi will represent Japan. Director-General Andreas Michaelis will represent the EU Presidency ...

SL endorses Indian candidate for C’wealth top slot
Sri Lanka has endorsed Kamalesh Sharma, the Indian candidate for the Commonwealth Secretary General post.
The new Commonwealth secretary general, who will succeed the present incumbent Don McKinnon of New Zealand, will be elected at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala in November.
Sharma is currently India’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom and has also served as India’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations in Geneva. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama officially informed his Indian counterpart...

Bogollagama continues globetrotting marathon
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is due to take wing to Japan and Nepal today.
The trip comes in the wake of his recent visit to South Korea and Singapore earlier this month. During the four day visit Bogollagama is expected to meet the Japanase Prime Minister and several other Cabinet Ministers.
He is due to hold bilateral discussions with his counterpart in Japan H E.Taro Aso. During his stay in Japan the Foreign Minister will address the Sri Lanka Business Forum organized by the Sri Lanka Embassy in Japan and the Sri Lanka Business Council of Japan.
The Minister will deliver a lecture at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and meet the network of Japanese NGO’S working on reconstruction and development of Sri Lanka.

“Divulge names of missing persons” challenges Mano
Colombo District MP and convenor Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) Mano Ganesan has called on the government to immediately publish the names of those missing persons that the government claims had sought asylum.
He further charged that if the government also claimed that 90 percent of the abductees have been released, the government should forthwith publish those names in the media.
He also called on the government to produce before the public the passport numbers of those who have migrated, as claimed by the government.
“It is rubbish. The government is only trying to hoodwink the public. I challenge the government to produce the names and other details of abductees the government claims had either sought asylum or been released,” he said.

Disciplinary action against Sripathi
The SLFP will commence its disciplinary inquiry against former minister Sripathi Sooriarachchi shortly.
SLFP sources said that Sooriarachchi would be given a fair hearing and the inquiry would be conducted according to the party constitution and principles of natural justice.
However sources said that no dates have been fixed for the inquiry against Mangala Samaraweera but added there would be one definitely against him too.





Mangala’s phenomenal rise leaves Govt. in awe
Two weeks ago we said through these columns that politics is the art of the possible. In politics they say anything is fair, whether it be here or elsewhere in the world.
It has now been proven beyond doubt that politics is the art of the possible. There are no permanent friends or enemies. Yesterday’s enemy could become a close political ally today and vice-versa – this is the political reality world over, where political opportunism has taken precedence over everything else.
There is no such thing as ‘clean’ politics and politics is all about ‘opportunity’ – best used at the appropriate time to further your cause. In today’s political context, we see changes taking place at a rapid rate and what is perceived as wrong one day could be interpreted in another form the next. That is what is happening today.
Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a one time sworn political enemy of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, has started singing praises about Wickremesinghe’s efforts to introduce...


“CJ Bhagwati’s allegations are unfounded” – AG

Commissioners have been insulted’
Q: The international Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) made two public statements saying it had no faith in the Attorney General’s Department when assisting the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. What is your response?
A: Justice Bhagwati issued two statements on behalf of the IIGEP appointed by the President to observe the investigations and inquiries conducted by the Commission of Inquiry. He has misunderstood the role of the Attorney General and his officers. He has made unfounded and unwarranted allegations against the AG and his officers. I did, in writing, express my objections on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka to the contents of the first and second public statements.

Vakarai accelerated resettlement
Hiccups despite Govt efforts
Since the recapture of Vakarai from the clutches of the LTTE on January 19, this year, the government has been concentrating on an accelerated resettlement programme,
The ongoing resettlement in Vakarai is certain to give the Tamil refugees a chance at a durable solution for the first time.
The government’s plan to rebuild Vakarai is, undoubtedly, attractive. Plans are afoot to transform Vakarai into an urban town.
The government has already spent a sum of Rs. 16 million to provide electricity in the area for the first time. Schools would soon be provided with computers that would enable Vakarai students to access the rest of the world.
A decision has been taken to reconstruct the A15 – the highway between Batticaloa and Trincomalee. The setting up of new fish markets, cool rooms, store houses, supermarkets, tap water facilities, circuit bungalows, private and state banks and better fishing facilities are some of the plans the Nation Building Ministry intends to implement shortly.

Mangala ‘walks’ the talk in parliament
Crossovers have coloured Sri Lankan politics ever since Independence. Adding another scene to the continuing drama, last week Parliament saw the dramatic crossover of two government parliamentarians to the opposition.
When Parliament sat on Tuesday (19), to debate the issue of supplementary estimates of six new ministries, in a not so unexpected turn of events, the SLFP rebel duo Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi stood up from the government back benches and crossed over to the opposition, amidst cheers from the UNP and JVP members.
Rebels cross sides
While the supplementary debate was brewing hotly in the House, former Ports and Civil Aviation Minister Samaraweera intervened. He said, as a politician who appreciated the middle path of politics, he could not tolerate SLFP’s path of extremism. With these words, Samaraweera crossed the well and took up an opposition front bench seat.

Govt faces HR battle

The interlude between peace and war saw many unpredictable events. One such was the breakaway of LTTE’s No. 2 and military commander Vinyagamoorthy Muralitheran alias Col. Karuna from the monolithic organisation, after nearly 25 years. That Karuna was going to join hands with the very security forces he once fought against, to fight the LTTE and drive it away from the east, was a dream.
Similarly, that commissioned military officers would be bought over by the LTTE to kill their own men for 30 pieces of silver, playing the role of Judas, was also unthinkable. But, the interim between peace and war did spring surprises.
Major E.M. Dassanayake was attached to the 52 Division in Vavuniya. It was there that the LTTE had allegedly cultivated links with him. Major Dassanayake was later transferred to the Overall Operations Command in Colombo from where his activities were closely monitored.
The inquiry against Major Dassanayake, who was arrested by the Terrorist Investigations Department more than six months ago, is almost complete and would soon be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Department for indictment.
The inquiry against Major Dassanayake, implicated in the assassination...



Army training for Pakistan cricketers
ABBOTTABAD, (AFP) - They were scared at first, but Pakistan’s cricketers have emerged from 15 gruelling days of army training in peak condition, instructors say.
The 20-member squad has been confined to a spartan military base in the northwestern city of Abbottabad in a bid to improve fitness and discipline.
Shoaib Malik’s men will need to be in good shape for the coming season, which starts next week with a trip to Scotland to play one-day internationals against the hosts and bitter rivals India.
Pakistan -- still reeling from the death of their coach Bob Woolmer the day after their World Cup exit in March -- are also due to host world number two South Africa and number one side Australia.
Fitness has been Pakistan’s weakness in recent years, with Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razzaq’s absence from the World Cup considered the main reason for a humiliating first-round exit.
It prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to ask the army for help. And it just so happens that the PCB’s patron is none other than the country’s military ruler, President General Pervez Musharraf.
“The players were initially frightened about the concept but once they started enjoying exercises they did extra work,” instructor Major Mohammad Arif told AFP after a trekking session this week.
“They are now demanding similar camps in future,” he added.
Arif said the course, which ends Friday, would leave them ready to face Australia.

SLRFU’s integrity on trial
Sri Lanka is a nation where its citizens are quite prompt in coming to the rescue of sportsmen and women who err. Countless are the number of occasions when sports officials have earned the wrath of supporters, close associates and some sections of the media for slapping bans on sports personalities who breach the laws that govern sport. This time it’s rugby player Chamara Vithanage who has come under the hammer of a disciplinary committee appointed by the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU). According to informed rugby sources the disciplinary committee has probed an incident in which Vithanage is alleged to have assaulted a rugby referee and found him guilty. The sources confirmed that the committee had recommended that the player be banned for a period of three years.
All attention is now focused on the SLRFU to ratify the ban recommended by the disciplinary committee. But then again this is Sri Lanka and anything can happen. This is the time, before the verdict, when the unthinkable can happen. This is when third parties with ulterior motives spring into action. For those to whom justice and fair play don’t matter a thing this is yet another occasion where they will go to any extent to ‘bail out’ the culprit. In the books of those who respect the game’s laws Vithanage’s rugby career is as good as over. Assaulting a referee is a crime that can make the offender, if an active player, serve anything between three years to a life ban from the sport, in keeping with International Rugby Board (IRB) laws. However, it was reported in an mid-week paper that Vithanage had denied being involved in the incident.
Vithanage represents the most powerful rugby club in the country - Kandy Sports Club.

Cricket without Moody
For the Sri Lanka cricket team having to live with international coaches for a short life span seems an endless task. Tom Moody, their fourth and last coach in the past 12 years has quit and Sri Lanka will have a new coach from September. But for the present Moody’s assistant Trevor Penney has taken over as stand-in coach for the series against Bangladesh which opens with the first of three Tests starting at the SSC grounds on Monday.
“Whether Tom is here or not we have to continue to do the hard work. Tom’s been great for us for the last two years. He’s made a decision and we have to move on. We know the brand of cricket that we’ve been playing and the commitment and the hard work that we’ve done,” said Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene looking ahead at his team’s future as they commence a series without Moody for the first time.
“Trevor is here to continue Tom’s legacy and make sure we do the same stuff. Everyone knows their roles, physically everyone is pretty fit. We will work with the new coach and try and improve ourselves to the next level. That’s our challenge and how we should look at improving ourselves,” Jayawardene told The Nation.


Mahinda is the best thing that happened to
Q: Why did you choose to cross over, while still remaining a member of the UPFA?
A: Well, the rationale is that I have been a member of the SLFP for 19-years. As a matter of fact, it was exactly 19-years-ago, this week, I was appointed Organiser for Matara, by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and I have always been in love, so to speak, with my party, because, I sincerely and passionately believed in the socio-democratic principles on which it was founded. It was a centrist party, with a very liberal outlook. It was against dictatorships of any kind, it was against any form of racism. This was nurtured by various SLFP Leaders. However, in the last 18 months, since the present leader took over, I saw the basic values of our party erode. Most of the decisions taken in the recent past, I see as a violation of our founding principles, which I found disturbing. Finally, I decided that it wouldn’t suffice, just to complain or talk about it. Something constructive needs to be done, to reverse this trend of the SLFP being led towards a very extremist position. I realised that, I would have to, at least temporarily, distance myself from the present ...





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