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Sunday July 29th, 2007

Karuna’s party debarred from contesting polls

In an obvious blow to LTTE renegade leader Karuna Amman’s much hyped political future, his political arm Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) will not be allowed to contest the forthcoming Eastern Province election scheduled to be held before the end of this year, The Nation learns.
The TMVP which has some 20 political offices in the Eastern Province and one in Polhengoda, Colombo has not been recognised or even been registered as a political party by the Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake as of July 10, 2007.
The TMVP (also known in English as Tamileela People’s Liberation Tigers) initially submitted their application to the Department of Elections....

CJ quips about BOI chief
Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva on Friday quipped that Board of Investment (BOI) Chief Dhammika Perera would not be able to protect other companies and attract investment into the country, when the company in which he is a partner, Royal Ceramics Lanka Ltd.itself has been threatened.


Who will have the last laugh?

None of them have much reason to laugh these days. Ranil Wickremesinghe after losing 14 elections, ought to exercise caution in hoping to win the next. Mangala Samaraweera, King Maker of the current administration faces an uncertain political future, his estranged ally, S.B Dissanayake is yet to regain his civic rights, while their common adversary, at least momentarily, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has even fewer reasons to laugh, facing growing dissent within his own ranks. Yet the main actors in the Sri Lankan political theatre found reasons to smile last week, the first three at the rally marking the new political alliance between UNP and the SLFP(M) and the latter at the wedding of veteran film star Ravindra Randeniya’s son (Pix by Nissanka Wijerathne and Ishara S. Kodikara)


Blair turns down Lankan offer to focus on Middle East
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had turned down an offer to be actively involved in Sri Lanka’s peace process, as he found the role of being a Middle East envoy more politically significant, a highly placed source told The Nation.
“Although Prime Minister Blair always took a special interest in Sri Lanka’s situation, he has already taken over the post as Middle East Envoy. As such, he would not be actively engaged in UK’s efforts,” the source said.
The revelation came just days after British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott disclosed that his country was hoping to take on a more ‘active’ role in an attempt to realise.




Govt. issues ultimatum to Japan over controversial power plant
Controversy surrounding the second power plant to be built in Kerawalapitiya appears to have reached new heights with the Sri Lankan Government issuing an ultimatum to Japan informing them that they will not permit the construction of the plant unless the Japanese agree to convert the plant from the proposed thermal based generation to Liquefied Natural Gas.
Work has already commenced on the original 300 MW combine cycle power plant in Kerawalapitiya by Lanka Transformers Limited who won the tender to construct it. The original plant is mentioned in the Ceylon Electricity Board long term generation plan. However, the plan has, at no instance mentioned about a second plant in the same vicinity, and is a proposal purely mooted by Japan’s Mitsubishi Company.
Deputy Minister of Power and Energy Mahindananda Aluthgamage confirmed that a proposal spelling the demands by Sri Lanka have already been submitted to the Japanese authorities over the construction of the power plant.
“We have pointed out that it is not viable to generate electricity from this proposed plant using thermal (diesel) due to the high costs and so asked them to covert the project to LNG instead. It will cost approximately Rs. 18 to 19 to generate a single unit of electricity from this plant if it generates from thermal. However if it converts to LNG it will cost approximately only Rs. 7,” the Deputy Minister told The Nation yesterday. At present, it costs the Ceylon Electricity Board Rs. 12.80 to generate a single unit of electricity on an average.

Govt., Opposition snub USAID anti-corruption action plan launch
The government, opposition and members of the judiciary appeared to have snubbed the launch of the USAID Anti-Corruption Action Plan held last morning at the BMICH.
Although the USAID had sent out invitations to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and members of the legislature, not a single of these invitees attended the event.
U.S. Embassy’s Charge’ d’Affaires, James R. Moore making a statement at the event noted that, “Corruption is a worldwide phenomenal that affects all of us, United States of America has experienced its share of corruption and continues to be vigilant against corruption and work to prevent and to prosecute it.”
He emphasised that whenever corruption occurs it slows the economic development, weakens institutions and the rule of law and gives the economically privileged an unfair advantage over the vulnerable and less fortunate members of our society. “The fight against corruption is a vast undertaking that requires committed involvement by all members of the government, civil society and the privet sector,” he said.

Stormy session ahead for Ranil
The Working Committee meeting of the United National Party (UNP) scheduled for next week is expected to be stormy with several committee members waiting to question the UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe over his sole decision to sign the agreement with former Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
The agreement signed by both Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe and Samaraweera, it is learnt, has caused splits within the party as many of the senior members indirectly opposed to the agreement saying they were not consulted.
Some of the working committee members were of the opinion that Wickremesinghe should have obtained party’s working committee consent to sign the agreement with Samaraweera.
The Nation learns some of the members of the committee were planning to question Wickremesinghe on this issue at the next Working Committee Meeting scheduled for August 5.
They said one of the clauses in the agreement which recommended Samaraweera to be the deputy Prime Minister will also be taken up for discussion at the committee meeting.

End of the road for Rizana?
Shattering all hopes, an Arabic newspaper has reported that the family of the four month old infant, who was allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, has refused to show any mercy on the Lankan teenager.
The family reportedly refused to give any pardon to the housemaid when they had met Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hussain Bhaila late last week. A Foreign Ministry spokesman and a source from Saudi Arabia both confirmed that an article claiming this latest development appeared in a newspaper in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Rizana’s parents have already returned to the island, and the deputy minister was due today.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman was unable to give more details on the latest developments citing that they too were in the process of obtaining it, but said that confirmed details could be obtained once Bhaila returns to Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, sources from Saudi Arabia told The Nation yesterday that the government’s decision to recall the present Ambassador in Saudi A.M.J. Sadiq will further hamper hopes of seeking clemency from the infant’s parents.

JHU demands Rs. 2.5 billion from Ranil
The five letters of demand addressed to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) will be sent this week. The letters will demand Wickremesinghe to pay up to Rs. 2.5 billion for publicly defaming JHU members after he accused them of selling their luxury vehicle permits.
JHU Legal Adviser, Udaya Gammanpila told The Nation that, “Separate letters from Ellawela Medhananda Thera, Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Omalpe Sobitha Thera, Kotapola Amarakiththi and Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka will be sent to Wickremesinghe with each member claiming Rs. 500 million in damages.”
He noted that the letters have already been drafted, but the JHU was awaiting the arrival...

Tamils facing deportation launch hunger strike
Thirty-five Sri Lankan Tamils who are to be deported from the United Kingdom have launched a hunger strike.
The 35 Lankans are currently detained at Harmondsworth, Oakington and Tinslely detention centres where they are carrying out their strike, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Nation yesterday
“This is a protest against their asylum applications being rejected by UK authorities,” the ministry official said.
The detainees have claimed to have sought asylum in the UK on grounds that they face continuous human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, the Ministry sources revealed the detainees have exaggerated the situation. “Even the LTTE lobby groups are dramatising the incident. They will have to come back to Sri Lanka.”
It is learnt that the immigration authorities are treating them well. A government spokeswoman in the UK had said that the staff cannot force the detainees to eat as it would be seen as an assault. She had also said that the situation remains calm at all three centres and the Border and Immigration Agency is actively engaging with detainees to discuss their concerns. They have also ensured that the detainees receive medical treatment as and when necessary.





Living on small mercies
Last week saw the government celebrating the ‘liberation’ of Thoppigala and supposedly, the Eastern Province from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Marking the event was a National Day style celebration at Independence Square-a ceremony which assumed significance for many reasons.
First, there was President Mahinda Rajapaksa at his rhetorical best-or worst, depending on the perspective. Then, there was the virtual boycott of the occasion by the major opposition parties and the diplomatic community and then, there was the lukewarm response from a much burdened general public.
Perhaps President Rajapaksa’s pronouncements were the most enlightening. There were reports that the President’s emotional address was possible only because a teleprompter was aiding him. Prompted or not, the President made it abundantly clear that he would not mollycoddle the LTTE, come what may. If the Tigers wanted war, that is what they would get, the President seemed to suggest.

The rally that turned a political tide
All eyes were on UNP National Organiser S.B. Dissanayake when he took the stage at last Thursday’s (26) Jana Raliya organised by the UNP and the SLFP splinter group, the Mahajana Wing, to protest the sins of the Rajapaksa administration.
Dissanayake – always a firebrand and ready to speak his mind, with his own healthy share of ambition, had been making a significant amount of noise over the past week, ever since the MoU had been signed on July 19. Dissanayake and several senior UNPers had taken serious issue with the fact that the UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had not consulted any of the party members when drafting the MoU he entered into with Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi.
A day or two prior to the rally, Dissanayake who was especially irked at the manner in which affairs with regard to the MoU had been conducted, told close friends and associates that all he would have to talk about at the rally on Thursday would be ‘the weather’. Dissanayake was alluding to the fact that he had been in the dark about the agreements...


‘Computer crime’ certified
LL.M (Lond.)

The Computer Crimes Bill was recently enacted by Parliament and certified by the Speaker as the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007. This legislation is the result of numerous contributions from sources such as CINTEC Law Committee, a Sub-Committee of the Law Commission and the Ministry of Justice. It is being enacted at a time when advancements are being made in the field of Information Communication and Technology in Sri Lanka, through several technology development initiatives such as the e-Sri Lanka Development Project.
Nature of computer crime
Apart from providing a better way of life for society the rapid growth of Information Technology raise fundamental questions regarding storage of confidential information, privacy, data protection and crime. Computers are not only targeted for crime but are also important instruments used in the commission of other offences such as theft, fraud, forgery, damage, deletion of business information and sabotage of computer facilities etc.
The term ‘computer crime’ is a generic term used to identify all crimes or frauds that are connected with or related to computers and information technology. The term ‘computer crime’ is also synonymous with ‘cyber crime’ although the latter tends to be focussed towards criminal activity resulting from the use of the internet.

“IPKF should have been allowed to finish the job” – Gen. Ranatunga
Following are excerpts:
Q: As JOC Chief, you had advised President J.R. Jayewardene to stand by his commitment on the Draft Agreement of the Indo Lanka Accord. Minister Lalith Athulathmudali did not budge from his position. Do you think your advice was prudent?
In the first place, the Accord was not a thing that the President wanted at that stage. But, because of the pressures that were brought on him by the big neighbour, he had to give in. It all started with Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, not seeing eye to eye with President Jayewardene. As a result, this unpleasant feeling prevailed between the two leaders and India was not giving in. That was how it all started.
Q: The military operation at that time had to be called off. Could you tell us the exact military situation at the time the operation was called off?
It was the Thennamarachchi Operation that was called off. I had successfully finished the Vadamarachchi Operation. We were very careful to protect the innocent people there. The whole of Vadamarachchi consists of the principal towns Thondamanarachchi, Velvettiturai (VVT) and Point Pedro. It was a densely populated area. We dropped leaflets and told the people to go into school buildings, churches, kovils, temples and other such places to secure themselves.

Peace accord did not fail : Gen. Kalkat
Q: General Amarjit Kalkat, what were the principal reasons for the peace keeping operation to turn into a military operation?
The IPKF was, initially, deployed to prevent clashes between the militant Tamil groups and the Sri Lankan Forces and to provide security to the Tamil population in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. They were also required to collect arms which the Tamil parties at the Thimpu Meeting had agreed to surrender. The LTTE did not hand over their weapons and thereafter, attacked the IPKF on October 7, 1987, inflicting casualties, which led to operations against them.
Q: Under your command, you forced the LTTE out of the Jaffna peninsula, the Tigers’ heartland. Where were the other sectors from which the Tigers were defeated by the IPKF?
The LTTE was not only forced out of the Jaffna peninsula, they were systematically cleared out of all the habited areas of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Clearing them from the Jaffna, Vadamarachchi, Kilinochchi, Mulativu and Vavuniya Districts was the difficult task, comparatively less difficult in the Mannar District and much easier in the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai Districts. They were ultimately marginalized, militarily, in the entire Northern and Eastern Provinces, culminating in their final defeat in August 1988, in the Battle of Nitikai Kulam (Operation Checkmate I), after which, they dispersed into the Wanni jungles in small groups and ceased to be an effective fighting force. We were, thereafter, able to successfully hold the Provincial elections in Oct 1988, without the LTTE being able to interfere (Operation Checkmate II), resulting in the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which marginalized the LTTE politically. This was followed by the Presidential and Parliamentary elections and soon thereafter, the LTTE started making secret overtures to the new Sri Lankan Government.



Six Lankan cricketers next on ICL radar
With every passing day the Indian Cricket League (ICL) launched by Zee Sports owner Subash Chandra is slowly gathering momentum.
According to sources former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, former Sri Lanka cricketer turned commentator Russel Arnold, leg-spinner Upul Chandana, fast bowlers Nuwan Zoysa and Ruchira Perera and Moors SC all-rounder Anil Rideegammanagedera are spoken highly of joining the league for its inaugural multi-million dollar Twenty20 tournament scheduled to take place in India in October-November.
These players according to sources have been approached by former England captain and popular cricket commentator Tony Greig to sign up with other top celebrities of the game. Indications are that most of them will.
Greig who was in Sri Lanka to commentate in the recently concluded Sri Lanka-Bangladesh cricket series is one of the executive directors of the ICL board where former Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev is the CEO. Dean Jones and Kiran More, two former cricketers from Australia and India are the other members of the board.
Apart from Atapattu and Chandana who are contracted to Sri Lanka Cricket the others are not binded by any contract and are free to sign with whom they wish.
Arnold retired from cricket at the end of the 2007 World Cup while Chandana, Zoysa and Perera have not held onto a regular place in the national side.

Point Blank
Wholly disappointing
The one-day series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh proved to be another disaster with the hosts running away with a 3-0 whitewash to follow their similar triumph in the Tests.
Much was expected of Bangladesh at least in the shorter version of the game because they had their full contingent of players who represented them in the 2007 World Cup where they excelled to the point of qualifying for the Super Eight and beating such big names in the game like India and South Africa.
It is in the overs limit game that Bangladesh is most suited for because their domestic cricket is structured in that manner. But the manner in which Sri Lankan bowlers exploited the weakness of their batsmen against the short pitched delivery even without their two experienced bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan painted a poor picture of the opposition.
One of the few momentous occasions to arise from the totally one-sided series was the milestone achieved by the country’s elder statesman Sanath Jayasuriya who added another feather to his cap by capturing his 300th wicket in one-day internationals at the age of 38. These figures added to the 12,000 runs he has accumulated for his country as a destructive opener makes him the leading all-rounder in the one-day game.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene summed Jayasuriya’s illustrious career up beautifully when he said: “Batting wise a lot of people have recognized him but not many have recognized his capabilities with the ball. He’s made a huge difference to our team over the last 10-12 years with his bowling. That’s why we’ve got a very good balance in our team. Sanath has done it in a very quite manner. He hasn’t taken a lot of credit for the work...


“Mangala and I will clash over Chandrika”
Q: Did you have any initial hesitation with regard to the MoU signed between the UNP and the SLFP (M)?
Yes I did. The biggest problem was not the fault of the leader or the party. It just so happened that I was completely out of the political loop, I had taken a break from party activity because my eldest son was getting married and all my attention was focused on the preparations for that wedding. The homecoming was at my home in Hanguranketha and I needed to attend to some things in the house and garden so I spent a lot of time there. So I was not really aware of what was going on in terms of this new alliance with the SLFP Mahajana Wing. So yes, I did have some reluctance at the outset.
Q: Did you see a draft of the MoU before it was signed on July 19?
No I did not. I think that was the biggest mistake that was made. It was a serious oversight by the Party Leader that the MoU was not openly discussed by the political affairs committee and the working committee of the party. If the issue had been discussed with the party as a whole, the problems that have arisen today would simply not have come into play. It is not just me, but everybody in the party had a degree of hesitation and concern when the MoU was first revealed to us.
Q: Who drafted it, according to your information?
I am unaware of who drafted it.
Q: Do any of the party members know who drafted the agreement?
As far as I can see, the Party Chairman (Rukman Senanayake) appeared to have some knowledge of the drafting process. But it has to be said that this is not a huge problem. In the coming days, the party’s working committee and the political affairs committee will discuss the matter at length. And in fact, as soon as my son’s homecoming was over, the Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe came to meet me and spoke to me of this matter. He explained a lot of things to me that day. You see, as he pointed out to me, Mangala and Sripathi are fairly confident of being able to woo large numbers of SLFPers away from the government.

JVP won’t join new alliance
Following are excerpts:
Q: The Trade Union Centre, of which you are the President, was planning a massive strike against the government, with the plan being to conduct a general strike in the public, private and estate sectors. What happened with regard to this strike?
When the country was honouring our armed forces for the victory at Thoppigala by defeating the LTTE in the Eastern Province, we felt that it was not the time to launch a general strike. It was done to show our gratitude to the armed forces. However, the government should not take cover under that victory and deny the rights of the working population, which is undergoing great hardship due to the high cost of living and maladministration of the government. The government should at least honour the agreements reached on these demands.
Q: If the JVP welcomed the Thoppigala victory, why didn’t it attend the national celebration organised by the government to mark the victory?
We consider the Thoppigala victory as an event which did not warrant an Independence Day-styled celebration. Such a celebration would have been justified if the entire north and east had been completely liberated from the LTTE.





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