|Heavy lobbying for aid freeze
The Sri Lankan government is engaged in heavy lobbying for
the easing of the aid freeze imposed by several countries, The
Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Karu
Jayasuriya is currently negotiating with Germany’s Foreign
Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for a lifting of the aid
freeze, while Professor G.L. Peiris is currently in Washington
DC, meeting with US State Department officials.
Professor Peiris has told the Washington Times newspaper that an
aid freeze should not be used against a democratic government
grappling with terrorism. He told the American newspaper that
none of these restraints were being used against the terrorist
group. Sri Lanka has already seen a loss of assistance from the
US and a dip in its Millenium Challenge Cooperation.
As an immediate step towards releasing aid to Sri Lanka, the
French government has decided to reactivate a highway project in
the east covering 141 km of the A15 road connecting the
Batticaloa and Trincomalee Districts. The government will also
launch three new projects to construct bridges across Verugal,
Puppu Aru and Gange, The Nation learns.
Forces on the lookout for more
explosive laden lorries
The security forces were on high alert after the
discovery of another explosive laden lorry in
Trincomalee on Friday. This was the second such lorry
detected by the security forces within the month of
June. The Navy acting on a tip off apprehended a freezer
truck which was transporting fish from Trincomalee to
The lorry was laden with C-4 high explosives weighing
over 1,000 kilograms. The driver of the vehicle, a
resident of Point Pedro, Jaffna was apprehended and
handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department
for further interrogation while the owner of the lorry
is believed to have fled to India according to police
A similar detention was made by Police at Kotavehera in
Kurunegala on June 1. The lorry detained in Kurunagala
was also packed with over 1000 kilograms of C-4
The quantity of explosives packed into each of these two
lorries were nearly as double as to the amount used by
the LTTE in the Central Bank bombing in 1996, which
devastated the commercial hub of Colombo.
Bus owners threaten strike
over one rupee
Private bus owners have warned of a possible trade union
action if the government objects to their request to
increase bus fares by one rupee.
“We want to increase the shortest distance bus fare
(first stage) from Rs. 5 to Rs. 6, as around 50%
passengers in and around Colombo travel under this
category, which is called the ‘stepping fare, and a
profit can be gained only by increasing the ‘stepping
fare.’ But the government is refusing to grant us this
request. Though the second and the third stages will be
increased by Rs. 2 following government approval, we
cannot cover the cost with that,” President, Lanka
Private Bus Owners Association, Gamini Wijeratne told
The trade union board will be meeting today to discuss
the issue further. “We would take necessary action if
the government fails to consider this favourably,” he
Commission commences probe
into Muttur slaying
Judge sidelines request of
The Presidential Commission of inquiry to investigate
and inquire into serious violations of human rights has
commenced investigations into the slaying of the 17 aid
workers in Muttur, who were attached to the Action
All police officers including the Magistrate who
conducted the Magisterial inquiry into the deaths of the
persons were summoned by the commission and recorded
Chairman of the commission, Justice N. K. Udalagama told
The Nation that the commission has established a witness
protection unit and all the witnesses have made their
appearance through this unit to give evidence.
The case against Sudath Rohana Wettasinghe, an Army
Major of the volunteer force attached to the Ariyalai
camp in Jaffna, commenced before the Mount Lavinia
additional district judge Mrs. Chrisanthi A. Dodangoda.
The Army Major is charged with criminal intimidation for
giving threatening calls to a lawyer on his mobile
phone. At the trial it was revealed that the lawyer
filed a land case against the mother-in-law of the
accused on behalf his client who is a senior judicial
When summons were served against the mother-in-law over
the land case, the accused had given a telephone call to
the lawyer’s mobile phone threatening to harm him and
his client, the judicial officer.
According to evidence given by the lawyer at the trial,
the accused had come to know of the lawyer’s mobile
telephone number from the letter of demand sent to the
The lawyer made complaints to the Mount Lavinia Police,
Bar Association, and to the military police that the
accused had threatened to harm him and his client. On
June 14 when the case came up lawyers appearing for the
accused made an application and requested the court to
postpone the case on grounds that the accused wanted to
retain President’s Counsel Daya Perera.
Major funding blow for LTTE
Canada, which has increasingly become a fertile ground
for supplying funds for the LTTE has announced new laws
to combat money laundering and financing terrorist
“Canada’s government will be relentless in its efforts
to prevent money laundering and terrorist” funding, said
Jim Flaherty, the country’s Finance Minister announcing
the new regulations to fight terrorism.
The LTTE, an organization that flourished under the
former Liberal government of Canada is a proscribed
terrorist organization under the new conservative
government but the LTTE is allegedly funding and
engaging in money laundering for Sri Lanka‘s terrorism,
operating under varied front organizations. The new
regulations are expected to combat, the LTTE, Al-Queda
and other terrorist organizations banned under Canadian
“We are taking an international leadership role to
combat money laundering and terrorist financing by
devoting substantial new funding to bolster our
analytic, investigative and prosecution resources,” the
Finance Minister further added.
Mangala, Sripathi will be lost in
political wilderness– JVP
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Somawansa
Amarasinghe has declared that one time Sri Lanka Freedom
Party (SLFP) frontliners and former Ministers Mangala
Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi will have
absolutely no political future if they align with the
country’s main opposition United National Party (UNP)
led by Ranil Wickremesinghe. These sentiments were
expressed at the party’s polit bureau meeting on
The JVP is meanwhile expected to meet the two former
Ministers this week in what appeared to be a move to
persuade them to join the proposed JVP led alliance and
disregard any possible working relationship with the UNP.
“The country will not have a future under the UNP, and
the SLFP-Mahajana Wing formed by Samaraweera and
Sooriyarachchi must not be duped by the assurances given
to them by the UNP leadership,” the JVP leader had said.
Shifting loyalties to suit agendas
Lightning within the
political scene but no thunder
Lanka, the resplendent isle that it is, and now fighting a decline in
tourism must surely advertise its latest attraction-the never ending
political circus that continues to perform to the amusement of the
country’s long suffering millions who must be weary after decades of war
and years of economic downturn.
This week saw another act in this never ending show-the meeting between
ex-minister Mangala Samaraweera and Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe at the latter’s office, under the full glare of the
television cameras. Obviously, both parties were keen to publicise the
event to the maximum.
All that was said at the conclusion of the meeting was that both parties
would explore the possibilities of working together with Samaraweera
saying rather optimistically that there was more to agree with the
United National Party (UNP) than to disagree, a statement which he
cannot make about his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) right now.
It is in many ways ironical that Samaraweera has to go knocking on
Wickremesinghe’s door for political support. Even Sri Lankans who are
renowned for their short memories are likely to remember Samaraweera as
the man who as Media Minister- in the Chandrika Kumaratunga era- painted
Wickremesinghe as the villain of local politics, at great cost to the
Many questions are now being raised on the new political
alliance envisaged by former Minister Mangala Samaraweera to
sustain his political viability in the Sri Lankan political
The first question so asked is as to whether UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe could work with Samaraweera. Samaraweera being
one of the most bitter political enemies of the UNP leader some
UNP insiders entertain doubts about an alliance between the two.
But others say this is quite possible citing the example of UNP
National Organiser S.B.Dissanayake.
S.B, as he is known among the political circles, was also an
arch political rival of Wickremesinghe. S.B finally fell in line
with the Wickremesinghe thinking, after he fell out with
President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
He led a team along with Professor G.L.Peiris and others to push
the Kumaratunga government in to the opposition in the year
2001, while accepting the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe in
the newly formed United National Front (UNF).
Wickremesinghe sorted out all his differences with SB. The two
joined hands in a common front to defeat Kumaratunga’s SLFP in
the Parliamentary General Elections that followed.
Wickremesinghe knew where to draw the line with SB. He did not
bother too much when SB was jailed by the Supreme Court on a
matter of contempt of court over some utterance made by him (SB)
at a function held in Habaraduwa.
The Bench, Bar and You (Legal)
Eelam War IV: Act Two
This month, the undeclared Eelam War IV will enter its second
year. In the first year, the military approached it, from both
offensive and defensive stances.
In the actual theatre of war, the military has virtually
uprooted the LTTE in the east, with the last battle at the
The military has strategically been taking on the Tigers, sector
by sector, flushing them out. Depending on the operations, the
air force and the navy have been put to good use. The modus
operandi has been a judicious mix of jungle warfare coupled with
set pieces of conventional war. As we said before, the military
comprising the army, navy and air force have been able to
dictate the location of the battle on most occasions during this
year of war. The navy has been able to largely cut off Tiger
supplies and reinforcements from the Mullaitivu to the east,
along the coast, as well as curb arms and ammunition supplies
across the high seas.
But, the military operations conducted so far did displace and
unsettle civilians. This column deals with the four sectors of
resettlement of civilians displaced by these military operations
in the east in a separate box story. This is also a part of the
larger strategy to keep the civilians with the military, rather
than losing them and losing the war.
On the defensive stance of the government, it must be said that
it was carried out at the forward defence lines (FDLs) along the
Kilali-Muhamalai-Nagarkovil axis in the north and also in the
Wanni, along the FDLs right up to Weli Oya, where a new division
was created last week.
There has been a lull in operations in the Wanni, after a
temporary setback, towards west of Omanthai three weeks back.
powers of President
In no other democratic country in the world, perhaps have so
much of powers been concentrated on one individual, as in the
case of the President of Sri Lanka. When our President expelled
three Ministers with just one stroke of the pen recently, this
theme once again became the talk of the town and the dust has
However, ever since the powers of the President was provided for
in the 1978 Constitution, there have been quite a few judgments
delivered by our Supreme Court indicating restrictions and
limitations on presidential powers. The case of M.N.D. Perera
vs. Balapatabendi, Secretary to the President, reported in 1 SLR
(2005) is just one of them.
One will recall that at the December 05, 2001 general election,
the country witnessed a situation which we had never experienced
before. There was an unprecedented case of the President
belonging to one political party, while the Premier came from
another political party.
The President at the time, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,
appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as Premier as she was mandated to
do under Article 43 (3). She further fixed his swearing in for
December 9, 2001 to be conducted at the President’s House.
Port project makes waves before setting sail
The largest infrastructure
development project in Sri Lanka, since the conclusion of the
Mahaweli scheme, has got off to a stormy start, even before the
commencement of work.
The expansion of the Colombo Port has been cited by the
Government and the private sector, as the flagship development
venture for the next decade, to give Colombo a competitive edge
over other regional ports.
The project is now at a crucial stage. Two contractors, each
tasked to build a 5-km breakwater and the first of four
container terminals, is to be selected in the near future.
However, The Nation reliably learns of irregularities within the
Tender evaluation process, raising questions regarding the
transparency and the credibility of the whole project. It is
learnt that influential and interested parties are manipulating
the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) tasked with assessing
the bidders of the first phase of this mammoth venture.
favourites, but Kandy SC has the fire power
A thrilling game of rugby is in store for rugby fans in Colombo when the
defending league champions Kandy Sports Club meet CR & FC in their first round
inter-club Caltex trophy rugby game which will kick off at 4.45 pm today.
Both teams are unbeaten, and have an equal number of points, but Kandy SC is
heading the table on their overall scores.
This season’s achievements of both teams go to make this grand game an
attractive one with both teams packed with the country’s top players. The big
question now is will Kandy SC repeat their last year’s performance?
The outcome of this encounter should be anyone’s guess but before that there’s
much more to relish from a rugby fanatic’s belief. But then again who would
know even pundits could be proved wrong. Going by the capabilities of both
sides almost anything can happen. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on past
results when assessing the game between these two sides or for that matter any
two sides as any team can be a different entity when they play against their
arch rivals. It is hoped that conditions will permit the two teams to indulge
in the brand of fast open rugby for which they are well-known.
going great guns for Wesley
Raninda Sooriyakumara, a 14-year-old cricketer from Wesley College rewrote his
school record books with a blistering innings against Lumbini last Tuesday in an
Astra Trophy under 15 tournament match when he blasted 204 not out off just 192
balls. His marathon innings included 23 fours and seven sixes which made the
Lumbini bowling attack helpless. It is said to be the first double century in
junior cricket by a Wesleyite and also the first score over 200 by a Wesley
cricketer after Farveez Maharoof’s 243 against Richmond in 2002.
Having started his cricket at 11 years, Sooriyakumara is a capable all-rounder.
With his stroke-making ability he is a dependable right-hand opening batsman for
his team and when it comes to bowling his off-spin is an asset to them.
Sooriyakumara had many things to say of that memorable innings. “To be honest I
never thought that I could reach a double century. I’m really happy with my
performance,” he said.
rugby kicks off again
After almost two months of enforced hibernation the Isipathana first XV rugby
team is entitled to participate in the schools tournament again. No doubt the
set-back they faced will motivate them to prove their class and regain their
rightful place in the schools rugby arena.
Isipathana, who emerged as a real power in schools rugby during the late
eighties has established their own distinctive brand of the game. In 1997 they
bagged the league championship, President’s trophy, the Sevens and the Western
Province 10’s. They repeated the feat in 1999. This is a feat that no other
school has achieved to-date.
During their heyday in rugby this high profile school had many renowned captains
like Selwyn Sallay, who is also their Rugby Committee Chairman this year. He
captained the side...
and killings are taking place” – Rambukwella
Q: The law and order situation in the country has, by all
appearances, gone completely out of control. What is preventing
the government from arresting this situation?
A: We cannot say the law and order situation has completely
gone out of control. To a certain degree, yes. However, the
government, I must say, has not turned a blind eye to this and
is well aware of this phenomenon. What is happening here is that
everybody is trying to take advantage of this situation.
A couple of days ago rumours spread like wildfire that rich
Muslims were being abducted for ransom. Some big names were
dropped. In fact, some people did not even go to mosques due to
There is an email and SMS campaign going on, trying to tarnish
the image of the government. Whoever is behind this is trying to
unleash a fear psychosis among the people. All this could be
traced back to people who are politically disgruntled and are
trying to find their way to power through this kind of
Of course, by saying this, the government cannot shirk its
responsibility and say nothing can be done about it. The
President has given the IGP and the defence authorities clear
instructions to crack down on this. I must confess, the fact
that abductions and killings are taking place is not false. But
the government is aware of this and is acting positively to
avert this situation. For instance, even an airman has been
taken into custody in this regard.
Q: The culture of impunity will continue if no action is
taken to establish independent commissions. Even some foreign
countries have raised concerns about this new trend. Why can’t
the government establish independent commissions fast?
A: Well, when the President was the Prime Minister, he sent
his nominee without any delay. But the Opposition Leader did not
send his nominee. Therefore it got delayed.
CJ vs. AG
battle over language
Bhagwati insists on
Independent Counsel and not State Counsel for Commission
Q: Attorney General C.R. de Silva says you have misunderstood
the role of the AG and his officers and that you have made
unfounded and unwarranted allegations against himself and his
officers. Your response, please.
A: I always welcome dissent. I welcome criticism. But, the
language used is not proper and does not befit the office of
Attorney General. If I am wrong, the Attorney General could very
well point it out and I am willing to accept it. But it should
be done in courteous language.
Q: The AG (on behalf of the Government) expressed his
objections to the contents of the first and second public
statements, claiming it would prejudice the ongoing and
scheduled investigations. What is your response? Have you
responded in writing?
A: That is his right to clarify matters. I am not against
the contents but that has to be done in respectful language. I
may not agree with his observations and he may not agree with
mine. But, such correspondence has to be couched in decent
language. I will be writing to the Attorney General and the
President of Sri Lanka shortly.
Q: Mr. De Silva rejects as totally unfounded the objection
raised by you that the AG’s department has been involved in
investigations and hence it was undesirable to function as
counsel at the commission. Do you maintain your original stance?
A: I still maintain that there should be independent Counsel
to conduct the proceedings before the Commission of Inquiry
instead of officers from the Attorney General’s Department.
Independent lawyers should be free to decide what material
should be placed before the commission of inquiry, and what is
relevant or irrelevant and whether further investigations should
be done to arrive at the truth.