|Only fools will complain to
CB — Sripathi
Complaining to the Central Bank’s Financial Unit tasked
with probing issues related to financing terrorism would
only serve to ensure that the government has ways and
means to drag the investigation into President Mahinda
Rajapaksa’s alleged pre-election pact with the LTTE,
former Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi told The Nation
The Central Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, a
special office set up to counter terrorist finance and
money laundering, is reported to have said on Friday
that neither of the two sacked ministers making the
allegation about the secret pact with the Tigers had
made an official complaint to the unit, which would
allow them to commence investigations.
However, Sooriyarachchi who is also the Chief Co-ordinator
of the SLFP breakaway faction, known as the Mahajana
Wing, scoffed at the claims saying that it would be
fruitless to make a complaint to a unit attached to the
Central Bank, which is being run according to the whims
and fancies of the government in power.
“We know what the Central Bank would do with such a
complaint. They would just want to drag it on. We’re not
fools,” Sooriyarachchi said adding that in any event,
the Central Bank unit could only investigate
transactions that have taken place between banks and
“There was no bank involved in this deal. An individual
closely connected to the SLFP only carried bags and bags
of money to be handed over to the LTTE,” the firebrand
Govt. to stop
military offensives in the north?
The government has decided
to stop all offensives in the north in order to facilitate peace
The government will only engage in military exercises if there
is an attack by the LTTE.
Highly placed government sources said that the government is in
touch with the Norwegian facilitators to kick start the stalled
The government top brass is now in the process of meeting with
constituent parties individually in a bid to surmount the
Senior officials attached to the Presidential Secretariat have
recently met All Party Representative Committee Chairman Tissa
Vitarana to explore possibilities of making way for peace.
So far, the government has met with small time Muslim parties
and was scheduled to meet with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
They have also spoken to the Ceylon Workers Congress in
unofficial terms and would meet with them next week to elaborate
discussions on how to get about the peace process.
MR feels political pulse in Matara
President Rajapaksa yesterday met with members of the
Matara Municipal Council (MC) and members of the Matara
Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) to get a first hand feel about the
pulse of the people in the district.
The President wanted to check the political situation in
Matara after the SLFP Matara District Leader Mangala
Samaraweera ditched the party and formed the SLFP (Mahajana
Wing) alleging that the government was corrupt.
Reports reaching Colombo said that a majority of the
Matara MC and PS members attended the meeting.
No breakthrough over Chief Secy.
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and Police
have so far failed to make any headway despite it being
nearly a week since the Chief Secretary of the Eastern
Provincial Council and senior government servant H.B.
Herath Abeyweera was gunned down by an unidentified
gunman in Trincomalee last Monday.
“We handed over the case to the CID yesterday. Earlier
we arrested ten suspects on suspicion and questioned
them in this regard”, Trincomalee Division SSP Kithsiri
Dayananda told The Nation yesterday.
He however refused to elaborate, but sources claimed
that despite the initial arrests the police have drawn a
However police have not ruled out an LTTE hand in the
Abeyweera was the first Sinhalese officer who was
appointed to the post so far while all the other Chief
Secretaries have been Tamils in the past.
Finger pointed at military over
Batticaloa gruesome killing
The Honk Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
yesterday alleged that a group dressed in military
uniform had stabbed a 27-year old woman to death in
Paduwankarai, Batticaloa early this month.
“The AHRC has received information about the gruesome
stabbing of a 27-year-old woman allegedly by army
personnel or members of the Special Task Force (STF) in
Paduwankarai, Batticaloa. Accordingly, on July 7,
several personnel in military uniform had come to the
house she was staying and shouted her name. When she
failed to respond they stormed inside, and escorted her
out. There, they had brutally stabbed her about 12 times
in the presence of her mother. The victim succumbed to
her injuries shortly,” the commission said in a release.
On July 7, Balasuntharam Thavamani, her mother and about
20 other persons displaced by the ongoing armed conflict
were seeking refuge in a single house at Paduwankarai,
Batticaloa. This area has been a stronghold of the LTTE
until last week when state security forces wrested the
area from the rebels.
Around 9:30 p.m. that night, several men in military
uniform suddenly stormed into the house and shouted for
the victim by her name. As the victim failed to respond
due to intense fear, the personnel entered the house and
forcibly escorted her out.
When the victim’s mother followed them wailing and
shouting, they stabbed the young woman in the presence
of her mother—a distance of about 100 metres from the
house. She succumbed to her death on the spot after
being stabbed about 12 times.
Subsequent to this killing about 35 families in the
village, fearing for their lives, fled the village and
went to a nearby area. Thereafter they related the
ordeal to Batticaloa MP P. Ariyanenthran. They are
reluctant to report the incident to the authorities due
to fear of reprisals.
LTTE regional leader dies in
confrontation with STF
Five LTTE cadres including a regional leader were killed
yesterday morning in a confrontation with the police
Special Task Force. Fighting broke out between the STF
personnel and the LTTE at Neriyakanatte in
Kanchikudichiaru, west of Batticaloa. STF personnel on a
clearing operation were confronted by a group of Tiger
cadres lying in ambush. According to STF sources a LTTE
regional leader identified as Ravindran was killed in
the fighting along with five others.
A haul of weapons including four anti personnel mines,
five T-56 assault rifles and 56 Magazines were
discovered by the STF personnel. “The STF did not suffer
any casualties in the confrontation,” stated a news
release by the police elite commandos.
Meanwhile, an army foot patrol was caught up in a
claymore mine explosion yesterday morning at 11 along
the Mannar-Vavuniya main road. Two soldiers injured in
the incident were later..
Ranil marks 30 years in
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will attend a ceremony
to mark 30 years in politics in Kahawatte today.
The celebrations have been organised by the UNP
organiser for Nivitigala Talatha Athukorala.
Wickremesinghe entered Parliament in 1977 as the member
for Biyagama under the leadership of J. R. Jayewardene.
Sripathi appeals for more
Deposed Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi has again
appealed for more protection on grounds that his life
continued to be under threat by ‘powerful elements’.
The ex-Minister who now represents the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party (Mahajana Wing) levelled allegations of a
conspiracy against him by President Mahinda Rajapaksa
and his brothers including Defence Secretary Gotabhaya
“Ever since I was sacked, there were many attempts on my
life. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the President removed all
my security. I narrowly escaped a claymore mine
explosion in the Kadawatha area and there were times
when two or three white vans trailed my vehicle. Some
even tried to kill me when I was in the prison. They are
after my life,” he alleged.
He went on to add that since he is provided with minimal
security it might be only a matter of time that an
attempt on his life would succeed. “I only have limited
security. I’m not sure what will happen. But I’m not
going to stop my struggle.”
Sooriyarachchi said that although the state was doing
nothing to protect him, the people will. “People know if
I am killed President Rajapaksa is responsible. And the
President knows that the public is aware that the
Rajapaksa family wants me dead. So he won’t attack me
directly,” he claimed.
“What I want is proper security. Not only for me but for
others whose lives are in danger” he said. “It is the
responsibility of the state to protect its citizens but
this government is doing a pretty bad job of it,”
Ranil-Mangala alliance on a
long trek to stardom
MR goes into Premadasa mode as UNP
readies for battle
coming weeks will see a realignment of political forces in the country
as the United National Party (UNP), arguably the party with the largest
support base, aligns with the self-proclaimed ‘Mahajana’ faction of its’
arch rival, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Proponents of the move claim this will lead to the dawn of a new era in
Sri Lankan politics but is this alliance worth the posters and slogans
it is spouting? More importantly, will it mean better governance to the
average Sri Lankan?
A few issues, we daresay, must be noted at the outset. Ex-Minister
Mangala Samaraweera is doing what he is doing only because he was
sidelined by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who gave him the ‘karapincha’
treatment after utilising him to the utmost during the last presidential
poll. Had Samaraweera been given a better deal, one could bet one’s last
two thousand rupee note that we would be seeing none of this.
On the other hand, make no mistake, the UNP is also playing
opportunistic politics here. If its’ leader Ranil Wickremesinghe does
not suffer from amnesia of spectacular proportions, he will know that it
was Mangala Samaraweera who was former President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s
Man Friday in all her attempts to vilify and ridicule Wickremesinghe in
the eyes of the Sri Lankan electorate. To Kumaratunge, Samaraweera was
what Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike was to her mother, Sirima Bandaranaike.
That Wickremesinghe is able to forget, if not forgive, all that is
because he senses opportunity here-an opportunity that might not come
his way again for the next ten years, if Mahinda Rajapaksa strengthens
his stranglehold on the Presidency.
Spare a thought for Wickremesinghe: his tenure as Leader of the
Opposition has been a crown of thorns. He has been Prime Minister
twice-first by default when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was
assassinated; then under a Kumaratunge Presidency where the lady was
behaving like a woman scorned.
July 19 marks a day of dual importance for Sri Lankans,
especially those who yearn for a better Sri Lanka.
This is mainly because the government celebrated the capture of
the entire east from the clutches of the LTTE, and secondly
because the UNP signed an agreement with the rebel SLFPers in a
bid to get rid of the present government, which it claims is
corrupt and moving on a fast track towards anarchy.
The government celebrated the capture of the east with much
fanfare where the service chiefs handed over a parchment to
President Mahinda Rajapaksa proclaiming that the Eastern
Province was fully under the writ of the Sri Lankan Government.
However, the response from the general public to the call by the
government to hoist Lion flags as a mark of respect for the
security forces was poor since most people in Colombo and
elsewhere chose to ignore it.
For many people, the capture of Thoppigala was not a matter of
high significance in the backdrop of the economic hardships they
are going through. The cost of living has gone through the roof
and what the people earn through their respective vocations is
hardly enough to eke out a living.
Be that as it may, the government did not adopt a low-key stance
in celebrating the victory and chose to go all out with the
celebrations. The grand celebrations at Independence Square
brought city life to a stand still, with fighter jets booming
over the skies intermittently.
What was more significant was the speech made by President
Rajapaksa at the occasion, where he articulated his point of
view with finesse. It went down very well with the people when
he said he and his family could bear up all kinds of insults
hurled at them by the opposition but pleaded with the opposition
not to vilify the security forces at a time when they have
achieved something significant.
He also pleaded with the opposition not to betray the country at
international fora by portraying it as a country of barbarians
Under normal circumstances, the President is not an impressive
platform speaker but on Thursday he turned the tables on this
belief and made a significant impact on the masses with his
speech. His words flowed tirelessly, and evocated memories of
late President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
Some were of the opinion that Rajapaksa had gone into the mode
of Premadasa, who made a similar plea to the people soon after
the death of DUNF Leader Lalith Athulathmudali.
Mediation the civilised option
Following are excerpts of the interview
Q: Could you explain the method of settling disputes by mediation?
A: The method for the settlement of disputes cordially could be
called mediation. The settlement of disputes in a cordial manner in Sri
Lanka, has a very long history. Earlier, there were Consolation Boards
whose members were selected on the recommendation of members of
parliament in the area.
Due to this reason, the concept of conciliation did not succeed and it
was abolished. Thereafter, in 1988, the Mediation Board Act No 72 was
enacted, and the Mediation Boards Commission (MBC) comprising of five
members, was appointed. Three members are retired judges of the Supreme
Court or Court of Appeal, while the other two are respected
educationists or retired public servants.
Q:Who are the present members and who appoints them?
A:The President appoints them. The chairman is retired judge of the
Court of Appeal, Justice D. Jayawickrama. The other two members are also
retired judges of the Court of Appeal, Justice P.H.K. Kulatilaka and
Justice ……… Edirisooriya., retired Director of Education Dr. K.A.
Lankachandra and retired Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon, Ranjani
Manualpillai are the other two members. The first schedule of the MBC
Act states that panels of Mediation Boards should be appointed after
calling for nominations of persons, bodies, organizations or
institutions, not of a political nature. Nominations could be sent to
the Government Agent of the area. The MBC publishes a Gazette notice
calling for nominations from recognized voluntary organizations in the
relevant Divisional Secretariat and from the village chiefs. Of the
nominations received, 12 to 30 persons are selected and referred for
training by trainers attached to the Ministry of Justice.
After five days of training, the selected persons have to sit for an
exam. Mediators with the highest marks, are appointed chairmen of the
mediation panel of each Division.
Each panel for a Division area comprises of 12 to 30 members. Presently
there are 286 Panels in the country, including in Jaffna.
There are 7000 mediators appointed to these 286 Panels. In making
appointments, the Commission tries to strike a balance between women,
young persons and races.
Voice of the people
“I think the signing of the MOU is crazy. What is the point of
signing an MOU? I see it as clutching at straws when you’re
drowning. J.R. Jayewardene appointed three people. The two
seniors are both dead now, Athulathmudli and Gamini. Only the
least experienced and the youngest, Ranil, remains, and he is
creating a carnival.
“What the government is doing is right. When those soldiers left
they left everything, families, homes and everything that
belonged to them. They were ready to give their lives for the
county. When they march to the battle field, they are ready to
face death. Will any of us do that? You and I for that matter?
Can we do it? No. So, they should be given strength and
motivation, which is what the government is doing.
I cannot agree with the ceremony. This is not the right time to
celebrate. If we have won everything, then it is something that
we should celebrate. But today, everything is being done for
political advantages. The government is trying to cover their
weaknesses by having such tamashas, it is a trick played by the
MOU’s are being signed regularly in this country. Let’s see how
things turn out. We hope that something better will come out of
this MOU. But we do not have such faith in it, because we have
seen many MOU’s getting signed but ending up with nothing.
I see the ceremony as something the government did to earn
publicity. If the whole country was freed of terrorism, then we
can celebrate. But it is not so.
|DON’T TAUNT MURALI - Symonds
SYDNEY, (AFP) Andrew Symonds on Saturday urged Australian
cricket fans not to taunt Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan if he passes
Shane Warne’s Test wicket world record while touring Down Under this year.
Australian crowds have regularly abused “Murali” since he was twice called for
throwing, with even Prime Minister John Howard labelling him a chucker.
There are fears the harrassment, which led to the spinner boycotting a tour Down
Under in 2004, will intensify if he eclipses Shane Warne’s 708 Test wicket haul
on Australian soil later this year.
Australian all-rounder Symonds, Muralitharan’s former teammate at English county
side Lancashire, said he would be embarassed if the Australian crowds failed to
acknowledge his achievement.
“I just hope the beer drinkers in the sun don’t give him a hard time and late
one afternoon if he breaks the record they start on him,” Symonds told
Australian Associated Press.
“I hope that doesn’t happen, I hope people can stand up and actually applaud him
for what he is -- a legend.”
Muralitharan has 700 Test wickets and is likely to overtake Warne’s 708 in one
of the two Tests between Sri Lanka and home side Australia in November.
Symonds said if Murali snared the record, he did not want the Australian crowd
to sour the moment.
“Definitely it would be embarrassing for us as a team if they didn’t (applaud
him),” Symonds told AAP.
“We respect him for his skills and for what he has done and I think it would be
rude, straight out rude, if they didn’t sort of respect him and give him the pat
on the back he deserves.”
Controversy over the bowler’s action exploded publicly on Boxing Day 1995 when
Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Murali seven times for throwing, creating
He was subsequently called during a one-day series in Australia, which almost
prompted Sri Lanka to walk off midway through a one-day match in Adelaide four
Murali refused to tour Australia in 2004 because of his treatment by
Australians, including Prime Minister and cricket fan John Howard.
Giving the devil its due
You’ve got to give the devil its due. The sight that greeted both local and
foreign journos when they turned up at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium on Friday to
cover the first one-day international between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was
something to behold.
It was in stark contrast to what they experienced a fortnight back when they
arrived to cover the second Test between the two countries. A complete
transformation had taken place to the media centre housing the print journos
from what it was for the past six years.
The entire area had been overhauled and replaced by permanent tiers, efficient
workstations comprising permanent tables equipped with individual telephone and
power points with enough space to comfortably accommodate at least 75 journos.
It had glass paneling, was fully lit and air-conditioned making it state of the
art. Where this new media centre scored over the rest of the cricket stadiums in
the country was that it was the first to install Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)
facilities. The media box bore comparison with some of the best in England,
Australia and South Africa.
Having absorbed the wonderful atmosphere that was laid out to them the question
on virtually every journos lips was why hadn’t Tamil Union to whom the stadium
belonged not thought of upgrading the media centre before. Why wait until they
got enough flak from the local and foreign media to move into action?
Did they feel that no one would bother to complain about the working conditions
in the media box just because Sri Lanka was playing Bangladesh and not England?
Bangladesh maybe the lowest ranked Test team in the world but that does not mean
that the working conditions of the journalist should also measure according to
their country’s cricketing status. Would Tamil Union have provided the same
appalling facilities if they were hosting a Test match against England?
The Tamil Union authorities no doubt were caught napping and the local and
international exposure they got for being rather laid-back had certainly shaken
the very foundations of their hierarchy who moved into action swiftly to rectify
“I am not bound to represent Tamil
Q: You are the first among the minority groups in Sri Lanka to
hold the post of SLFP Treasurer and also second from Katana. How
do you feel about this acheivement?
A: I feel very proud. This is a clear indication that the
SLFP is democratic and non-partisan. I think this the maximum
that a minority member could achieve in the party.
Q: Isn’t there provision for a minority member to be the leader
of the party?
A: Well, I don’t think a minority member could expect to
become a leader because the party consists of a majority of
Sinhalese. Of the three most important posts, those of
president, secretary and treasurer, I have got one.
Q: Who helped you to climb the political ladder?
A: One time SLFP Treasurer H. Don David, popularly known as
Konde David because he had a pony tail, President Mahinda
Rajapaksa and Anura Bandaranaike.
Q: When did you get into active politics and how did the three
people you mentioned help you?
A: I entered politics in 1974. I contested the Cooperative
Society Welihena branch election. I won and became the
secretary. Then, in 1971, I was expelled from Maris Stella
College. So I sat for the A/Ls as a private candidate. After I
got through my A/Ls, I applied for a teaching post and received
an appointment at Welihena Government School as a mathematics
and science teacher. I was only 19.
While teaching, I was organising the SLFP branch and I became
the secretary of the branch. In 1974 I joined Law College. In
October, the sitting MP of the Katana electorate passed away and
it was after this that my active role in politics commenced. At
that time I was only a law student but I addressed about 100
meetings. Anura Bandaranaike was organising my election
campaign. People such as Dr. N.M. Perera and Colvin R. de Silva
used to come for my meetings.
In December 1974 there was a lunch at our party treasurer’s
house. The treasurer was H. Don David, known as Konde David. He
was a rich man with no children. When the Bandaranaikes came to
Negombo, he entertained them. In December 1974 when David
invited the Bandaranaikes, I was also...
Buddha approved of tit for tat: JHU
Q: Several members of your party have been accused of selling
their vehicle permits, given to them as parliamentarians. What
is your response please?
A: We have never done any devious act of this nature. I have
worked in the Education Department for 35 years, from teacher to
deputy director. As deputy director, I was entitled to a vehicle
permit but, I didn’t have money buy a vehicle, hence, I never
accepted the permit. All the officers there took their permits.
I have no savings to show. Everything I have earned, I’ve
dedicated to the betterment of the general public. I don’t have
When we were given vehicle permits, it was I who proposed that
we should not accept them. However, since it was necessary to
improve the party, we have agreed to take the permits and use it
for the betterment of the party. We have never sold our permits
to anyone. Our legal advisor, Udaya Gammanpila, is handling
everything with regard to this matter.
However, I must add that we don’t know what some of the other MP
monks did with their permits. There are permits that were not
given to the use of the party, especially, by Theras Udawatte
Nanda, Nandaloka, Aparekke Punnananda, Uduwe Dhammaloka. We
don’t know what happened to them.
The permits given to me, along with Theras Kotapola Amarakeerthi,
Athuraliye Rathana and Omalpe Sobhitha, were taken as sangika
If they say that we have sold our permits, we would like to ask
which parliamentarian has not sold his permits. We haven’t, for
sure. All the UNP MPs took their permits and are driving super
luxury vehicles but, what have they done for the country?