|UNP writes to Speaker against select
The United National Party (UNP) yesterday said that
they handed over a letter to the Speaker, W.J.M. Lokubandara,
against a decision to appoint ministers as chairmen to handle
the parliament select committees, which will probe the
controversial MiG deal and the alleged financial transaction
with the LTTE in 2005.
Chief opposition whip Joseph Michael Perera yesterday told The
Nation that he had handed a letter to the speaker and informed
him personally of their disapproval against these appointments.
“These appointments are against the parliamentary traditions and
standing orders. Usually it is the person who asked for a
parliament select committee who will be appointed as the
chairman of the committee, or someone else he or she nominates.
But here, it is not so,” said Perera.
Further speaking Perera said that this action is in a way an
attempt by the government to protect the accused, and said that
the UNP will make a decision to take action against this, if the
Speaker continues to uphold this decision.
Meanwhile Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, the Coordinating Secretary
of Sri Lanka Freedom Party – Mahajana Wing (SLFP-M) told The
Nation that his party is scheduled to hand over a letter to the
Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara on Tuesday, opposing the unethical
appointments of chairmen to the Parliamentary...(See
RDA in questionable road deal to benefit
LTTE controlled Killinochchi?
Road Development Authority (RDA) has paid a sum of Rs.
25 million to one Sudar Constructions (Pvt) Ltd, going against
regular procedure, for the construction of four roads in LTTE
controlled areas in Killinochchi.
“Normally, the RDA pays its contractors after its engineers have
checked whether the construction has met the required standards.
But since the roads are built in the LTTE controlled areas, it
is impossible to do so, nevertheless, the RDA has paid this
amount,” a highly placed source told The Nation yesterday.
He revealed that the RDA had paid this money to the company
through an individual called S. Yogarajah (522370452V) who lives
in a LTTE controlled area and that has raised suspicions on
whether the money has been transferred to the LTTE.
“Sudar Constructions has written a letter to the Director
Finance of the RDA and asked him to pay this individual. The
strange thing is that the Provincial Director of the North East
has added a footnote to the letter asking the Director Finance
to pay this individual this said amount,” the source alleged.
Asian Development Bank approves Keangnam
bid for A’pura road project
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has recommended the awarding
of the contract for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the A –
12 Puttalam to Anuradhapura Road to Keangnam Enterprises Ltd.
The recommendation has been made despite a case pending on the
matter before the Supreme Court.
The ADB in a message dated October 5, to Ministry of Highways
and Road Development Secretary S. Amarasekara, informed him that
the ADB has no objection to the project of upgrading a road
stretch of 70 km from Puttalam to Anuradhapura, and a town
section of 13 km in Anuradhapura town being awarded to the
lowest evaluated responsive bidder Keangnam Enterprises Ltd
which quoted a price of approximately Rs. 3.7 billion without
The Supreme Court in late September issued an Interim Order on
the Cabinet of Ministers restraining them from making any final
decision to award or approve the tender for the rehabilitation
and upgrading of the A- 12 Puttalam-Trincomalee Road, from
Puttalam to Anuradhapura, to M/s Keangnam...(See
Norway, SLMM fear backlash following
Norway and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM)
yesterday stated their concern over the death of the LTTE
political wing leader S.P Thamilselvan as an attempt which will
only lead to the escalation of war, unless the parties involved
cease the hostilities and return to peace negotiations.
Erik Solheim, the Norwegian International Development Minister
and facilitator for the peace process in Sri Lanka expressed his
concern during an interview with a Norwegian news agency. He
also expressed his fears on the consequences of the growing
conflict in Sri Lanka.
Characterising the death as a huge loss, Solheim further stated
that Thamilselvan was an important contact point between the
LTTE and Norway in the facilitation of the peace...
Engineers cry ‘foul’ over proposed grid
substation of the CEB
Members of the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU)
have decided to withdraw from all committees handling the
Norwegian funded Galle grid substation project as a mark of
protest against the alleged ad hoc style in selecting the
company to handle the project.
The approximately Rs. 2 billion project, financed by Norway,
aimed at enhancing capacity has however been overshadowed by
several alleged unethical decisions taken by the Ministry of
Power and Energy with regard to transparency and open bidding.
The Nation reliably learns that Norway had requested the Sri
Lanka Power and Energy Ministry to consider Norwegian based ABB
group, an engineering and energy company, when evaluating tender
Unemployed graduates to file petition
with HR Commission
Unemployed graduates will lodge a complaint with the
Human Rights Commission tomorrow against authorities who
brutally attacked them last Thursday during a protest march.
Police on Thursday used tear gas, water cannons and baton charge
to disperse the protesting unemployed graduates who were on a
march towards the Finance Ministry to hand over a petition
urging the government to guarantee employment in the forthcoming
budget, which will be presented next week in Parliament.
“Twelve were injured following the actions by the law
enforcement authorities. We were charged as if we were
terrorists or thieves. The complaint will be lodged against
those who assaulted us and those who gave the orders to assault
us,” Unemployed Graduates’ Union Convenor, Sujith Kuruwita
End ‘kussiye yuddaya:’ UNP urges govt.Going against the world order
everyone-even those in government- agrees that the cost of living has
risen to unmanageable levels, and is still rising with no respite in
sight. The government has not been adept at sound economic management
nor has it appeared prudent in its own expenses, sustaining a jumbo
cabinet with all its trimmings.
As a result, public resentment against the government is rising amidst a
plethora of price hikes and strikes demanding better wages. The war,
more war and nothing but the war was the government’s mantra to keep
critics at bay. But the recent air-cum-land attack at Anuradhapura
dented the government’s boast.
Friday’s killing of S.P. Thamilselvan, Head of the political wing of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) might offer some succour to the
President, but the economic hardships faced by the average citizen are
of such intensity that much more needs to be done about what the UNP
calls the ‘kussiye yuddaya’ (the war in the kitchen).Come Wednesday and the Mahinda Rajapaksa government will be called
upon to deliver its budget proposals in parliament, an event eagerly
awaited probably more for its political consequences than for its
Some months ago, there was wild speculation that the government would be
forced to surrender its parliamentary majority and resign on the vote on
the budget. That speculation only gathered momentum with the formation
of the National Congress between the United National Party (UNP) and the
breakaway faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by former
Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
That pre-budget hype appears to have died a natural death now. No one in
the corridors of power realistically expects the government to collapse
on the vote on the budget now. With some clever political manoeuvring,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ensured that he has the numbers to see
the budget through, if only by a slim margin.
Yet, the budget will be of some political interest, mostly with regard
to what stance would be taken by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). It
is no secret that the JVP worked harder than most sections of the SLFP
to bring Mahinda Rajapaksa into power. But now for a variety of reasons,
that relationship has soured and Rajapaksa bashing has become a popular
pastime among JVPers.
But the JVP itself is on the horns of a dilemma. While it has been
harshly critical of the government, especially its handling of the
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s planned visit to Iran at a time when the
United States and the Western world is frowning at Iran may not
augur well for Sri Lanka.
The truth is that Sri Lanka too is facing many a problem with
the international community relating to human rights issues.
In the circumstances, the President’s impending visit to Iran is
likely to cause more heartburn for Sri Lanka rather than bring
According to reports, the President is likely to undertake his
visit either from November 9 to 11 or November 19 to 21 and all
ground work has been finalised in this regard. The Iranian
Ambassador in Sri Lanka is already in Teheran for this purpose.
It appears that the President has either been ill-advised by
Foreign Ministry officials or is adamant to visit Iran to show
solidarity with the Muslim world.
Showing solidarity with the Muslim world is one thing that no
one would grudge, but the Sri Lankan Government should have
looked at the greater international picture and taken a decision
which would benefit the country at large.
Thamilselvan: Memories of a negotiator
Following the death of Anton Balasingham, S.P.
Thamilselvan, who has participated in all rounds of peace talks
since 1994, assumed the role of ‘Chief Negotiator’ at the only
subsequent round of talks in Geneva, last November.
While the LTTE Political Wing leader who was killed in a Sri
Lanka Air Force air raid in the early hours of Friday (01)
morning, might not have left the legacy ‘Bala’ did at Sri Lankan
peace talks, he is however remembered – and not too fondly – by
several members of successive government delegations.
“I will not be on record, since it is unfair to say bad things
about a person in his death. But he was not a good man and was a
poor negotiator, simply for the fact that he was inflexible and
therefore, a compromise with him was virtually impossible,” said
a member of a previous UNF government delegation who wished to
Thamilselvan’s smile belied his personality, the delegation
member said, adding that the late ‘Brigadier’ was a man who was
firmly on the side of war and had no real aspirations for peace
and an end to the Sri Lankan conflict.
JR’s Kandy March and the tale of...
month saw the golden jubilee of a shameful event in the
political annals of this country. October 3, 1957 was the day on
which the United National Party (UNP) organised a protest march
to Kandy from Colombo under the leadership of Junius Richard
Jayewardene. JR’s ‘Kandy March,’ as it was known, played a very
negative role in souring ethnic relations in the island.
The agreement, signed by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and S.J.V.
Chelvanayagam in 1957, was a significant event in the political
history of post-independence Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister of
the day and the leader of the biggest Tamil political party had
come to an understanding, which if implemented may have helped
contain the ethnic conflict at its nascent stages.
The agreement, known generally as the ‘Banda-Chelva pact,’ was
never allowed to work because of political opposition in the
south. The opposition came from hardliners among the Sinhala
Buddhist clergy and laity as well as hawkish elements among both
the government and opposition.
|Aussie-Lanka Test series for
SYDNEY, (AFP) - Australia and Sri Lanka will play for the Warne-Muralitharan
Trophy this month in honour of the two leading wicket-takers in Test history,
Cricket Australia and Sri Lanka Cricket announced Saturday.
Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, who have taken more than 1400 Test wickets
between them, have lent their names to the trophy, which will be up for grabs
each time the two nations do battle in future series.
They will first compete for the trophy during a two-Test series which gets
underway in Brisbane next Thursday.
The announcement celebrates the 25th anniversary of Australia-Sri Lanka Test
cricket, with the trophy featuring casts of Warne and Muralitharan’s right hands
and match-used cricket balls bowled by both players during their careers.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the trophy was a fitting
tribute to two players who have left an indelible mark on world cricket.
“Both Shane and Muttiah have broken the 700-wicket barrier and inspired young
cricketers around the world to try their hands at spin bowling,” Sutherland said
in a statement.
Rugby blues or smiles
For the next
two weeks the focus of Sri Lankan sports fans will be in Colombo and in
Australia where rugby and cricket, two sports which are popular with spectators
will take precedence over everything. These are two sports which Sri Lanka is
going out with great hopes of achieving success.
That the Singer Rugby Asiad the 20th in the series since 1969 is finally taking
place in Colombo is itself a great relief to the host nation. The tournament is
already delayed by a year (it is held every two years and the last one took
place in 2004) because of the reluctance of countries like Japan, Korea, and
Hong Kong to come to Sri Lanka citing security concerns. A year was wasted
trying to woo these countries to come, but eventually the show must go on and
the tournament is taking place sans the big guns. Their absence from the line-up
will give the lesser fancied countries the chance to stake a claim for Asia’s
top rugby nation title. The victory though will be a hollow one because whoever
emerges champion will know that they had not played against the best in Asia to
win the crown.
More UNPers will join govt. if budget is
Following are excerpts:
Q: There was euphoria among the voters, shortly after the
defection in the UNP, who assumed that at least this group would
bring about a change in the government. But sadly, the 17 member
dissident group has not so far achieved anything by way of
shaping the destiny of the present government. Why is this?
A: Really speaking we had two objectives in mind before
joining the government. Firstly, to bring about some reforms
within the UNP, and then of course to stabilise the present
government in resolving the ethnic crisis. The thought of
reforming the UNP was because we felt that the reform process
was marginalised by a certain group.
Although we have 17 in the government, there are 20 to 25 who
supported us. Still there are some people in the UNP to support
us. So we thought, if there was an election, certain members in
this group will not be given nominations, and we thought the
strength of our team would have been diluted. We wanted to
retain our group. This is why, while staying in the government,
we wanted to ensure necessary changes are done in the UNP. Then,
we felt as far as the ethnic issue is concerned, that there must
be stability in the government. While the war is continuing we
have given our proposal to the APRC.
It is partly true that the overall economic picture has not been
to the expectation of the general people. People did expect us
also to bring some changes in the government which we could not.
But the expectation was that we could manage finance and economy
and that has not happened. This I feel is because the key
institutions of finance have not been devolved. I feel that if
one of our members got that portfolio, the financial situation
could have been better managed.
Q: The present government appears to be much worse than the
previous ones in the spheres of economic growth, human rights
record, cost of living and so on. How do you like being partners
of such a government?
A: I don’t agree with that assessment. Let us take...
Vasu upholds citizens’ rights
Q: You told the newspapers that you have information on
billions of dollars Sri Lanka lost due to defaults on
international transactions. Could you explain what you meant?
A: The transactions relate to exports, when exports are
made, the money should come back to the country within six
months. That was the practice. However, according to a
presidential directive during President D.B. Wijethunge’s
tenure, these requirements were dispensed with.
Consequently, only those who voluntarily brought back the
proceeds did so. If one does not want to bring back those
proceeds, one could either deposit or spend the money outside
the country. So, when this came to the knowledge of certain
concerned persons, they wanted this to be surveyed. Exporters
who answered the questionnaire, declared that they had deposited
certain amounts in the banks, while the balance was used for
business promotions and other This was computerized and found
that about 19% of the proceeds forthat period, had not been
repatriated. For the period 1993-2000, US$ 13,000 million were
not brought back into the country. This was revealed in the
Auditor General’s report, where it refers to the mismanagement
of the foreign exchange by the Central Bank (CB). This also came
up before the COPE committee as well.
So, I have proposed to the President that we could place before
the country, a proper picture of the situation by giving a
Foreign Exchange Budget like what N.M. Perera used to do. Then
the country knows exactly how its foreign exchange had been
expended. Generally speaking, about 20% is not repatriated out
of the export proceeds but, the CB Governor, summoned by the
President, when I raised this matter with him, said “No, this...(See