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Sunday August 19th, 2007

Jeyaraj slams Ban Ki-moon
Senior government Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle yesterday launched a scathing attack against United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, declaring that he did not give a ‘damn’ about whatever that ‘foreigner’ (Ki-moon) had to say.
In yet another of his regular verbal harangues, Fernandopulle, who is also the Chief Government Whip, told The Nation, “I don’t give a damn about what this UN boss has to tell me or Sri Lanka. He can say whatever he wants, but I will still go by what I said and that is, John Homes is a terrorist who takes bribes from the LTTE.”
Fernandopulle also said that he had a busy schedule, and had better things to do than waste his time listening to what the UN boss and the likes had to say.

Tigers fortifying for an imminent onslaught?
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was seen fortifying its outfit in Madhu during the temporary ceasefire period, with the expectation of an apparent onslaught by the security forces. When The Nation visited Madhu last week, no LTTE cadres clad in uniform were visible, as they were busily strengthening their bunkers and digging large trenches to stop heavy military machines from entering...

 

‘Old rugged cross’

Madhu – a place caught between hope and conflict, faith and fear. An unthinkable journey for some and yet an essential pilgrimage for others. Thousands of the faithful, like this woman and her child, braved war, hunger and unforgiving conditions to make the long journey to LTTE-held Madhu last week, for the feast of Our Lady of Madhu. Their prayers, uttered within the only no-war zone in the region, are common to us all: Peace, hope and an end to hunger.  Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara

 


President to market devolution package at UN
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is planning to market his devolution package when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly next month.
Ministerial sources told The Nation that he would make it an opportunity to ask the international community....

Three Tamils in CID custody in danger - AI
Amnesty International (AI) yesterday voiced concern over the fate of the three Tamils currently held incommunicado by the Criminal Investigations ....

Suspected killer a member of Karuna faction
Charan alias Sivakanthan Vivekananthan, who is wanted for the murder of two Red Cross workers, is a member of the breakaway group....

 

 

NEWS

Ministers unhappy over salary hike for Ind. Commission heads
Controversy surrounds over the implementation of a Cabinet decision taken last December to increase the allowances paid to chairmen and members of Independent Commissions, under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Cabinet decided last December (2006), to increase the allowances of the chairmen of these Commissions from Rs. 25,000 per month to Rs. 65,000 and the members from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month.
Under the regulations of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, for the implementation of this Cabinet decision, Parliamentary approval has to be obtained. Although the recommendation has already been sent to Parliament in January this year, for approval, it is yet to be tabled in for approval.
The delay, according to informed sources, is due to an issue raised by certain Ministers to the effect that the salary recommended to chairmen is higher than that of Ministers’.

CBK here for her Vims, not her fancies
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga is unlikely to join a UNP mass rally scheduled to be held in Nittambuwa on August 24, political sources said.
The rally to be presided by Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former minister Mangala Samaraweera, is expected to draw a large crowd.
Contrary to speculation that Kumaratunga too, would join Wickremesinghe and Samaraweera on the same platform, sources from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party-(M) said she has not confirmed her participation to date.
Sources pointed out that the former head of State would neither hold any posts nor participate in any outside meetings but added, would give only her support and her expertise for the growth of the party.
The Nation reliably learns she is in contact with some of the senior and junior loyalists from the SLFP, and would be canvassing their support for the SLFP(M), at the appropriate time.
Sources said that even some of the senior Cabinet ministers had, unofficially, extended their support to the party, indicating that they would cross over at the correct time.

FM administration disrespects Kadirgamar
- Mrs. Kadirgamar

Sugandhi Kadirgamar, the wife of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has charged that the present foreign ministry administration is disrespecting her late husband.
Speaking to The Nation, Mrs. Kadirgamar pointed out, “He was such a respected individual, but the only place they were able to find to erect his statue was behind some huge commercial billboards, next to a statue of some boy scout at Colombo 7, close to the Public Library.”
Mrs. Kadirgamar stated that her wish was to see the statue erected in the gardens of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute at Horton Place by demolishing the side wall, so that it would be visible to the public. However, authorities had not acceded to her plea and instead had chosen a place which was not at all suitable to have such a statue, especially as it was surrounded by several huge billboards.

JHU takes on Gayantha on false allegations
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) is to pursue legal action against United National Party (UNP) Spokesman and Parliamentarian Gayantha Karunatileka for allegedly making baseless accusations to the effect that the JHU had sold its TV and Radio Licences to a businessman for Rs. 110 million.
JHU Spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe told The Nation that the allegations levelled against his party was utterly baseless and completely false. “They are making unsubstantial accusations simply to tarnish the party’s image. We will be taking legal action against Karunatileka for making such degrading statements against our party,” he said.
“First, the UNP tried to insult our monks by accusing us of selling a vehicle permit. Now everyone knows what has happened to that story. And now they are making up another story through Gayantha Karunatileka.

Budget on November 7
Budget for the year 2007 has been scheduled to be presented to Parliament on November 7.
Government sources said that arrangements were being made to formulate the 2008 Budget, to achieve the targets in line with Mahinda Chinthana: Vision for Sri Lanka - a 10 Year Development Framework 2006-2016.

 

 


 



POLITICS

A terrible story
The recent news reports about the much maligned Mercedes Benz belonging to Ven. Ellawela Medhananda Thero have fuelled controversy not only about the games that politicians play but also about the concept of justice and fair play in this country.
Does the rule of law operate in Sri Lanka anymore? Maybe it does, but then, does that apply to everyone or is it implemented selectively for the benefit of some and to the detriment of others?
The issue about the vehicle permit being sold was brought to light by United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who has that terrible knack of opening his mouth and putting both his feet firmly in.
Wickremesinghe’s allegations were well-meant and should have been an eye-opener to all. Instead the UNP leader’s sentiments were given a twist by the spin doctors of the government. And, lo and behold, days later, Wickremesinghe was charged with some grand conspiracy to destroy the Buddha Sasana by denigrating the Buddhist clergy!
Credence and some publicity were also given to the fact the Wickremesinghe was not a Buddhist by birth.

MR takes stock as JVP imposes conditions
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, faced with domestic problems in politics, is now in the process of testing the waters to ascertain whether he could carry out the rest of his term without the help of the JVP.
With the exit of the CWC two weeks ago, Rajapaksa inevitably fell into the lap of the JVP for his political survival and to maintain balance in Parliament. Although the CWC is back in the fold, there are residual problems to be addressed and the wounds have not been fully healed for the President to be able to bank on the CWC.
Taking stock
The President, as a matter of practice, is taking stock of the situation and last week met with the entire Politburo of the SLMC over dinner.
The President was one hour late, and as he entered the sitting room where SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem and others were seated he quipped, “I thought that you all had left in a huff.” He was referring to his delay and taking a swipe...

NEWS FEATURES

Legal
Parliament’s famous mock session
It would be interesting to reflect on what later came to be known as a mock session of Parliament. Here, two MPs were charged before the Supreme Court for Breach of Privilege of Parliament. The case is reported in 57 National Law Review on page 412.
Parliament, at the time, met in that majestic building by the side of the Beira Lake, facing the Indian Ocean. Parliament was also then known as the House of Representatives, comprising of just 101 members.
It was April 6, 1955, and Parliament was in session. Then Minister of Home Affairs, A. Ratnayaka rose to reply at the conclusion of the debate on a Supplementary Estimate. MP for Moratuwa, Somaweera Chandrasiri, also rose to speak and insisted on his right to do so.
However, the Speaker, Sir Albert Peiris, ordered Mr. Chandrasiri to resume his seat, since the Estimate had by then been fully discussed.

NEWS MAKERS
CBK—Will she or won’t she?

Chandrika Bandaranayke Kumaranatunga (CBK) seems to have nine political lives. In November 2005 everyone thought they had seen the last of CBK when Mahinda Rajapaksa became president with the aid of her own right-hand man Mangala Samaraweera.
After several instances of public embarrassment, getting kicked out of UNESCO, and the court ordering her to vacate the official residence she had secured as head of cabinet ministers, CBK left the island stating that she had being wronged.
But she is back. A few weeks after writing a well-publicized letter in which she gave her blessing to the alliance between the UNP and the SLFP Mahajana wing, CBK returned to Sri Lanka claiming she had no intention of engaging in active politics.

 

SPORTS

Asif offered 100 million by ICL
LAHORE: Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif has been offered a whopping sum of 100 million rupees to play in the Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed that the ICL has offered Asif Rs 100 million for a three-year contract, and the pacer is carefully assessing the various aspects of the offer before taking a final decision next week.
It was reported earlier that both Asif and Shoaib Akhtar had refused the ICL offers last month, the Dawn reported.
Meanwhile, sources said that the PCB was getting concerned about the congregation of several Pakistan players in London, and are wary of their intentions to join the ICL.
They said Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed and Shahid Afridi are all in England these days where a former Test captain and wicketkeeper are intensely lobbying for the ICL.

Point Blank
Sour grapes
The count down has begun to undermine Sri Lanka’s famed spinner Muttiah Muralitharan as he stands on the portals of cricket history to become the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket.
As everyone knows Muralitharan is only nine wickets shy of breaking another famed spinner Australian Shane Warne’s world record of 708 Test wickets and rewrite his name in the record books as the most prolific wicket-taker in Test history.
With that historic moment looming large when Sri Lanka tour Australia for two Tests in November, Muralitharan’s critics have started to sharpen their knives once again to deprive the spinner of his rightful place in cricket history.
One of his most vociferous critics has been Bishen Bedi, the former Indian left-arm spinner and captain who has time and again come...

INTERVIEWS

“Government does not know what diplomacy is”
Q: How does the UNP view the Holmes controversy?
A:
This is another classic example of very amateurish diplomacy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. Well, Holmes asked for the disarming of Karuna group, as I recall, amongst other issues he raised. It is surprising that the government has forgotten that in 2006 April in Geneva, the government gave us a solid undertaking to disarm the Karuna group to the international community. Now it appears that the government has changed its mind on this issue.
That is why we have repeatedly said that the government says one thing abroad and another thing here. When they go abroad, they bend in two and accept everything without a murmur. However, here they disclaim it. We have been repeatedly saying that the government has been unable to handle the international community. That is why our aid programme is cut and that is why we have to depend on commercial borrowing at seven percent which, in my view, is a real burden on the masses.

“Govt. has to say things to avoid political fallout”
Q: Can you explain what really happened in relation to Dr. Holmes? Why did the government react so angrily?
A:
I am not keen to continue the controversy any further, especially since Sir John Holmes has faxed a letter to me yesterday putting in context what he said – about how he saw the visit and how he appreciated the meeting with the President and how he is looking forward to working with us and assisting us. So I think enough has been said about what he did and what we said – I think the Prime Minister made a statement in parliament on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka. I don’t think anything said after that should be taken into consideration above that. That was the Sri Lankan Premier where he made the government’s position clear. And now Sir Holmes’ letter to me is a very positive one in my opinion and really looks towards the future. So I think we should also move on from this now and find ways in which to obtain the assistance of our international partners to help the people in conflict areas. I have forwarded this letter to the President’s Secretary and Mr. Basil Rajapaksa and several other key people.



 

Colombo

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 
       
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