|Major union showdown against
The date for the impending country-wide general strike will
be taken on Wednesday, trade union leader and parliamentarian
K.D. Lalkantha told The Nation.
The JVP sponsored National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) led by
Lalkantha summoned a meeting of representatives of a wide
spectrum of trade unions in the private, estate and public
sectors last Wednesday to discuss the major problems faced by
“Some 254 unions affiliated to the NTUC as well as 110 unions
affiliated to the UNP, SLFP and independent unions attended the
meeting. They unanimously decided to launch a general strike in
the private, state and estate sectors in view of the failure by
the government to meet the demands put forward by the unions in
the respective sectors,” Lalkantha noted.
He added that during last week’s meeting, the action committee
appointed by these unions had taken a decision to meet this
Wednesday to decide on a date to launch the general strike.
“The trade unions had earlier planned to launch a major strike
but decided to suspend it in view of the assurance made by
President Rajapaksa and the Government that the grievances and
problems they have spotlighted would be attended to. But now the
workers have lost patience over the Government’s failure to honour the pledges given to the working population,” he said.
The JVP MP alleged that the government continues to heap great
burdens on the people but continues to waste public money by
maintaining over 100 Ministers, providing perks and privileges
to high-ups and condoning corruption and fraud plundering the
The trade union demands include the implementation of the 2005
Budget proposal for the grant of Rs. 2.50 for every point of
increase in the cost of living index. Though a total of Rs. 1250
had to be paid per month only two installments of Rs. 375 was
paid. The unions demand that the full cost of living be paid
along with the arrears due for the past years.
East election on the cards
Plans are afoot to hold elections in the eastern
province, reliable government sources said.
According to the sources the Elections Department would
be soon directed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to call
for fresh nominations.
The nominations previously sent would be cancelled by
the elections commissioner, the sources said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to inform the
public on the government’s position regarding the
impending election in the east during the SLFP annual
convention scheduled for July 22, sources said.
The government has held a series of discussions on
holding elections in the east, sources confirmed.
However, according to the sources the military has still
not given the green light to hold an election in the
The military have advised that it would not be possible
to hold an election immediately, given the present
ground situation, sources further said
They have also informed the government that they could
not guarantee the security of the candidates if an
election was to be held at present.
JVP rejects Mangala’s
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) had flatly refused
an invitation extended to them by the Mangala
Samaraweera led Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Mahajana Wing)
to participate at the forthcoming rally on July 26
against the government saying that such a move would
only benefit the main opposition United National Party (UNP).
“The UNP is very much responsible for the state that the
country is in today. The government’s behaviour should
change and a correct leadership should be provided. But
the UNP cannot provide that leadership,” JVP general
secretary Tilvin Silva told former Ministers Samaraweera
and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi during a meeting on
Wednesday at the JVP head office.
He further said that the decision by the two
ex-ministers to leave the government was the correct
move, but now by uniting with the UNP, their decision
has been undermined.
“In our view supporting and working together with the
UNP is not the best possible way to solve problems,” Mr.
Silva had further added.
The Mahajana Wing was also represented by former Airport
and Aviation Chief Tiran Alles while JVP leader
Somawansa Amarasinghe, propaganda secretary Wimal
Weerawansa and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake also
participated at the discussion.
Police blind to illicit trade
Angoda police has been accused of turning a blind eye
against a group which has openly flaunted laws by
selling illicit liquor and marijuana throughout the year
even on poya days.
A group of youth who had organized a manioc dansela on
Poson poya day down Pethiyagoda Road, Angoda was
allegedly attacked by the group carrying out the illegal
trade after the youths had gone to the police and
complained about the illegal trade which was being
carried out on Poya day.
Sanjeewa Kannangara, an organizer of the Ranamayura
Tharuna Samithiya which organized the dansela told The
Nation that, “We have been doing this manioc dansela
with the help of young men in the area during every
Poson poya for the last 38 years. We provide 1200 kg of
manioc for the dansela. This other group is carrying out
their illicit trade just 100m away from our dansela. The
authorities are silent. I personally know that Angoda
police is supporting these sellers. One youth from our
group was hospitalized after he was attacked by those
carrying out the illegal trade. Another culprit tried to
stab one of us but fortunately he missed the target,” he
said. Police even take money from these illicit traders
it was alleged
Kannangara also claimed that despite continuous
complains against the culprits following the incident
the police have so far failed to take any action against
the group carrying out the illegal operation.
Commission of inquiry to
grill Colombo Mayor
Colombo Mayor Mohamed Imthiaz will face the commission
of inquiry headed by retired judge Dr. Chandradasa
Nanayakkara on Tuesday July 10.
The inquiry will take place at the chief minister’s
office at 10. 00 a.m.
For the first time the Mayor would be forced to face
retired judge of the court of appeal Dr. Chandradasa
Nanayakkara who has been called upon to inquire into ten
charges leveled against the Mayor.
Though the Mayor sent his reply in April itself, the
commission was not satisfied with the answers, hence the
inquiry on Tuesday.
The Commission was appointed under Section 2 (2) of the
statute of the authority of supervision of
administration of local bodies number 4 of 91 of the
western provincial council by the chief minister.
One of the principal charges against the Mayor is the
financial violation in regard to the extension of
contract on solid waste for a period of two years
without the sanction of the finance committee.
Among the other charges is the supply of food parcels
during the recent floods in May.
Accordingly the council has paid a sum of rupees eight
million for 102, 174 food parcels also without the
approval of the council.
The Nation reliably learns that though the money was
paid to the council members, not all of them had
actually distributed food parcels to the flood victims.
This payment was done pending council approval. But when
it came before the council the council rejected this.
Brattskar to bid adieu soon
Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Hans Brattskar is
completing his term in August this year and will return
The outgoing Ambassador is scheduled to visit Hambantota,
Sigiriya and Kilinochchi before his departure from
Diplomatic sources told The Nation that he wants to
inspect projects undertaken by Norway and Norwegian
Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in these
areas before he bids adieu.
Brattskar who met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa
recently had dismissed media reports that Norwegian
special peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer is planning to
visit Sri Lanka.
Man who injected poison
Nawagamuwa police on Friday arrested a suspect believed
to be involved in killing a man after injecting him with
The suspect H. Manjula Priyankara was produced before
Kaduwela Magistrate Lakmal Wickramasuriya who ordered
the suspect to be remanded.
According to police, the victim, L. A. D. Amarasena from
Hewagama, Kaduwela was killed after injecting him with
The suspect had been arrested by the police following a
statement given by the victim before he died.
Earlier when the case was taken up at the Colombo Chief
Magistrate Court, Nawagamuwa police informed the Court
that they are conducting investigations to apprehend the
other suspects who were involved in killing.
Additional Magistrate Manjula Thilakaratne directed the
Colombo Chief Judicial Medical Officer to conduct a
special post mortem over the death of the victim.
Nawagamuwa police appearing for the complainant told the
Court that they were able to take the syringe into
custody which was allegedly used for the killing. The
police informed the Court that they have forwarded the
syringe to the Government Analyst for a comprehensive
When the tough gets going
ex-Minister Mangala Samaraweera called on the leaders of the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) this week to explain his new political agenda,
his delegation was apparently kept waiting. And indeed, the JVP as a
party now seems to keep the major parties waiting with bated breath for
their next political move. It has, in a sense, come of age and is now
the ‘third force’ in the country.
Amidst the general political mayhem that surrounds us with crossovers
and counter crossovers, the leftist-oriented JVP has been walking warily
both within Parliament and without and this is an opportune moment as
any to examine their current strategies in the context of unfolding
Since entering the democratic mainstream after the ill-fated
insurrection of the late eighties, the JVP has adopted a clever strategy
to remain a potent political force, a philosophy captured in a nutshell
by its firebrand orator Wimal Weerawansa who said they hoped to be the
‘remote control’ in governance.
At the general elections held in 2000, the JVP secured 10 seats in
Parliament with a 6.1% slice of the overall vote. A year later at the
general elections that followed when the United National Front (UNF) won
the poll, the JVP increased its share to 9.1% and 16 seats in
These results would have awakened the JVP hierarchy to the obvious:
although JVP could muster around 10% of the vote, that would never be
enough to call the shots in government because they would always be a
party with less than 20 seats in Parliament. So, when the next
opportunity presented itself, they did something different-with
At the general elections in 2004, they joined the United People’s
Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led
Govt feels heat after attempts to
muzzle media backfire
Mahinda Rajapaksa, understandably, has his own grievances
against the Sri Lankan media, like any other leader in the past.
Usually politicians become media friendly when they are in the
opposition, waiting in the wings and aspiring for high office.
Once gaining power they tend to dictate terms to the media and
scribes who do not fall in line with their thinking. They then
label these scribes villains in the media and accuse them of
being part of a media mafia that is affiliated to the
For any government the honeymoon with the press does not last
long. It happens within the political landscape of any
democratic form of government. This is a phenomenon that will
continue to happen in the future too, as long as the norms of
good governance are adhered to. It is a common phenomenon all
over the world, where democratic principles are part and parcel
President Rajapaksa is no exception to the rule. He has
encountered problems with scribes and is facing an onslaught
from the media over his government’s short-sighted policies over
military excesses, human rights abuses and corruption which are
among a host of other issues.
Instead of taking corrective action, it is natural that any
government would react in a startling manner, find fault with
the media and tighten the screws so as to muffle the media as
much as possible.
However, the media lobby in Sri Lanka, unlike in the past, is
quite powerful with international support forthcoming. Thus they
have withstood government pressure that came from various
quarters during recent times. Action by the media against the
government has always been with good reason and with
corroborative evidence as back-up.
However, there have been isolated instances where sections of
the media too have gone to extreme measures when furthering
their cause – due to political agendas and various political
In this backdrop, the question arises as to whether President
Rajapaksa is a victim of media excesses.
The Bench, Bar & You
Making law better: A comparative
If we reflect a moment on the basics, we see that lawmaking
is indeed the collective responsibility of the people. New laws
should be passed when necessary to deal with problems
confronting society, with the broad agreement of the people. The
only reason that Parliament is chosen to be the body enacting
law is that it is supposed to represent the will of the people.
Last year in Sri Lanka 54 statutes were enacted. Of those 23
were amendments to existing laws. Several of these laws were of
narrow interest, dealing with particular institutions such as
trusts. But the others covered such diverse areas as money
laundering, banking, VAT, human trafficking and employment of
children. Do people know that these laws were passed? Are they
aware of the impact these changes could have on their lives? Who
was consulted in the preparation of these pieces of legislation,
and was the consultation wide-ranging or selective? These are
questions which must concern us all as members of the public who
entrusted the lawmakers with this momentous power to make law.
This article will highlight some aspects of the lawmaking
process in Sri Lanka which perhaps need revisiting. It will also
look at the practices adopted by the UK to make lawmaking more
transparent and efficient, and which may usefully be applied in
the Sri Lankan context.
Laws in Sri Lanka, as in many countries, emanate from a number
of sources. They include election manifesto commitments of a
government, the need to respond to sudden events or an emerging
social problem (such as financing for terrorism), law reform
initiatives which government departments have been working on,
and recommendations of the Law Commission.
Govt made to eat ‘parippu’/ Open season
for Govt bashing
Lakshman firing on all fronts
Directing another barrage at the government, Badulla District
UNP MP Lakshman Seneviratne rocked Parliament last week, when
the House took up the emergency debate on Thursday.
Using colourful remarks, Seneviratne did not spare even the
Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) members, when he accused government
ministers and all those who are party to the government, for
letting the country slide further into the dregs of
Govt meandering along
The recurrent question he posted to the government benches
was “where is the country heading to?”
He entered into the debate, reminding the House of his previous
fusillade, when he divulged three names linked to the spate of
abductions and killings taking place in the country last month.
“Honourable Speaker, I remember when the Emergency was taken up
for debate last month, I divulged certain information before
this honourable House. That was on June 6,” he said, warming up
for the attack.
Choosing his words with care, Seneviratne then said that a
certain minister in the government made a joke out of Prime
Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake. “By June 9, the honourable
Prime Minister agreed with what I had divulged before this
House. He also expressed regret over the Tamils’ eviction from
Colombo lodges and sent back to the North-East. That was a very
indecent act. Hardly 24-hours lapsed, before a minister made a
Mahendra, the Lion King
The newly elected International President of the Lions Club,
Mahendra Amarasuriya said in Chicago that he was prepared to
eradicate preventable eye diseases from the Indian subcontinent,
his native Sri Lanka and Africa as a priority project through an
internally changed Lions organization that would be made “a
dynamic vibrant 21st century organization.”
“At the end of my term as the International President I am
determined to raise 200 million US dollars for these projects
and prevent blindness and bring light to thousands,” said
Amarasuriya in an interview with The Nation.
The Colombo’s Commercial Bank and Pelawatte and Sevanagala
Plantations Chairman who had been the first Vice President of
the international service club for the last one year was
formally elected to the prestigious position of President on
July 6 during the 90th Annual sessions of the Lions at the
McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois. This city is
on the edge of the great Lake Michigan where cold winds cause
havoc but had unusually fair weather during the day of the
sessions. Representatives from all world capitals of 203 nations
converged on Chicago for the election and discussed about other
business matters of the club. The 1.3 million members strong
service club is the world’s largest such organization and is
enjoying a consultative status with the United Nations. There
are 45,000 branches of the club all over the world.
Speaking of his native Sri Lanka Amarasuriya, a philanthropist
for the Buddhist education in Sri Lanka, said that there were
3000 patients who needed to be operated on for cataract and part
of the money would go for that. As President, Amarasuriya would
direct the organization’s leading project, ‘The Sight First
program’ that aims to rid the world of preventable and
Venus eyes fourth title
Three-time champion Venus Williams will take on outsider Marion Bartoli in
the Wimbledon final.
The pair will meet for the first time after France’s Bartoli caused a huge upset
by beating top seed Justine Henin in the semi-finals on Friday.
Williams, seeded 23rd, will try to add to her titles of 2000, 2001 and 2005 in
her sixth Wimbledon final.
The match is scheduled for 1400 BST, although it could be delayed as it follows
a men’s semi-final.
With five years’ more experience, 31 more career titles and five more Wimbledon
finals under her belt, Williams is the strongest of favourites.
One or both of Venus or her sister Serena appeared in every Wimbledon final for
six years in a row until last year, when Henin lost to Amelie Mauresmo.
Venus has won three times and finished runner-up twice to her sister, meaning
she is preparing for a sixth final.
“It’s so exciting,” said the 27-year-old. “I’ve had so many great times here.
It’s really an amazing stat.
“I guess I’m feeling proud of myself for that stat, but I don’t want to take
anything for granted going into the final.
“I’ve been counted out so many times and it’s OK with me. I’ve been unlucky with
injuries - that happens - but I think that I’ve had a little spell now where I
“I’ve had a chance to get ready. It’s all coming together.”
And Williams paid tribute to her large following of family and friends that has
supported her in a year interrupted by injuries.
SL Cricket Academy champs in India
Sri Lankan Cricket Academy emerged champions of the Maharashtra challenge trophy
cricket tournament which was conducted in Chennai, India from the June 25 to
July 1 with an unbeaten record.
Three teams participated in this tournament, Maharashtra President’s X1, Tamil
Nadu and SL Academy. Each team played two matches which were played over two
The SL Academy remained unbeaten on tour. They first beat Tamil Nadu on first
innings and then convincingly beat Maharashtra President’s X1 outright inside
two days and were declared champions.
The weather was not hot in Madras, but the skies were overcast and play was
possible with a few interruptions. The pitches took turn and helped the spinners
from day one. The SL Academy had a few noteworthy performances during these two
Tharanga Paranavithana scored two half centuries in the two games, while Angelo
Mathew and Chanaka Wijesinghe were amongst the runs. Left-arm spinner Chanaka
Komasaru bowled well to pick up 11 wickets in the two games while the pitches
was conducive to spin bowling.
Fast bowler Shaminda Eranga was most impressive with his pace on slow pitches
and was a handfull to the Indian batsman.
Power of the press
Seldom do cricket journos in this country make a loud noise or for that
matter take issues to the highest level. Whatever issues there had been in the
past have been sorted out amicably without much fuss.
What greeted them at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium on the opening day of the
second cricket Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand was a sight to
behold. The media box was in shambles. Nothing was in place - the tables, the
chairs, the power points, fans etc. you could go on and on. Even the wooden
boards that were hired to give those sitting at the back row were at fault
because it did not provide the proper elevation. Journos sitting at this row
complained they could see only half the playing field.
With less than an hour for the start of the Test match things were not properly
in place and in the rush to put things in order power lines and telephone lines
were quickly assembled but at the grave risk of someone getting electrocuted or
entangling their legs in some of the wires and bringing forth verbal abuse from
journos who would find that their telephone connection or power lines have been
disconnected in the midst of sending a copy or typing out one.
There was chaos everywhere and when one of the Bangladeshi journalists confided
that the worst media box in Bangladesh was better than the one at the
Saravanamuttu Stadium he could not have been far from the truth.
The journos time on the first day was spent more on trying to sort out their
power and telephone supply lines than concentrate on the cricket in the middle.
Then to add more fuel to the already existing fire there was a constant break in
power due to overloads, bringing forth further curses under their breath.
At the butt end of all the verbal abuse was Sri Lanka Cricket’s amiable media
manager Samantha Algama. He was apologetic and was able to pacify the journos
that it was not his fault for this sad state of affairs
but the Tamil Union club authorities who had been
notified a month ahead of time what the requirements for
the media were. At the end of the day however his
designation as media manager had been somewhat altered
to that of ‘media damager’ ...
Mervyn S. incapable of wrongdoing. Those
slinging mud at him, do so out of envy
Labour Minister (non Cabinet) Mervyn Silva is a unique
character. He has carved out a niche for himself in today’s
politics, through his utterances in public and his choice of
words when doing so. The unparliamentary language he enjoys
using within Parliament, has given him an inimitable place
within society. He is tough to those who are tough. His
association with political leaders on the one hand and with
underworld elements on the other hand, has made Silva infamous.
He is fearless. He takes on his opponents with facts concerning
their private lives. Claiming to be a descendant of King
Dutugemunu, he says he could prove his lineage. In a wide
ranging and exclusive interview with The Nation, the minister
said that it was none of anybody’s business to know how many
cars he owned or, how he managed to purchase them. He accused
the JVP of trying to obtain details of his vehicles, to inform
the LTTE. A vociferous minister, who also said that he would
shoot and kill anyone with his own pistol, if they support the
Following are excerpts:
Q: There is so much uncertainty in today’s politics with
crossovers by MPs, according to their whims and fancies. How do
you see the cross over of former ministers Mangala Samaraweera
and Sripathi Sooriarachchi?
A: When an affluent person imports a vehicle, a pickpocket
takes his purse, in search of valuables. Finds nothing. Purse is
empty. That is what has happened to the UNP today. The UNP
thought these two members could bring riches with them. They
found none. Talking of the UNPers who crossed over to the
government, they are the cream of the UNP. So I think this is a
huge loss to the UNP. We have not lost anything. All who came to
our party are giants, while the two who went to the other side
were just two pebbles. UNP is no more a United National Party.
Q: JVP’s Anura Kumara Dissanayake has accused you of
concealing details of your vehicles. Why are you keeping them
A: During the height of the JVP insurrection in 1989, three
members of my family were killed. My younger brother who was in
the Navy, my pregnant younger sister and her husband, were all
killed by the JVP, leaving her two children orphaned. Even
today, I look after them. During this time, the UNP MP for
Dehiwela was also killed. I was also shot on my foot.
Fortunately, my son was in the St. Thomas’ College hostel. If
not, he too, would have lost his head. This is what the JVP was
up to at that time. Today, these fellows are asking me how many
vehicles I have and how much rent I pay. Was it fair to ask?
These people have an agenda and I say this without fear. These
people are exposing vehicle numbers and names of our bodyguards
and especially of politicians whom they dislike, to the LTTE. I
tell this with responsibility. When there are so many problems
in the country, why are they asking for these details? Whom are
they targeting? It is the President, Basil Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa and me as well. I came from the village. I was not
born in a Walauwa. My father was a merchant in the village. I
may not be important to the JVP. But, I am important to myself
and to my family. This is why I refused to give details. I won’t
reveal further details. But, if anybody proves that I have paid
a rental in excess of Rs. 39,000, I will resign from Parliament.
Q: Certain remarks you made in Parliament against Anura
Kumara Dissanayake were expunged from the Hansard. What were
A: I never said anything indecent. I only said certain
things that the respective member was not supposed to do in
society. I cannot say this in public. It is unfair. In society
there are things that are taboo. It is an accepted norm that one
does not marry the relatives of one’s father. But, in today’s
newspapers, we read of fathers sleeping with their daughters. I
am not like this. My record is straight. Although society tried
to sling mud at me, the same society will know who I am, in time