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Sunday November 11th, 2007

Three donor countries – Canada, Netherlands and Germany – have decided to freeze all development aid to Sri Lanka with effect from January next year, highly placed sources said.
These countries have informed some of the local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that they would not be diverting their monetary allocation to Sri Lanka as there was a severe lack of development projects aimed at building peace and harmony... (See Inside)

Energy Minister takes on BOI Chief
Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne on Wednesday chided Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Dhammika Perera saying that he was interfering with the affairs of the Power and Energy Ministry.
He made these observations when he presented a Cabinet paper seeking approval to set up a 200MW power plant on heavy fuel. Minister Seneviratne said that...(See Inside)

Fireworks at COPE
Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) sessions on Tuesday turned stormy once more, leading to a serious exchange of words between Minister Dilan Perera who was chairing the meeting and Development Lotteries Board Chairman, Sarana Gunawardene, The Nation learns.
 (See Inside)


                 Poppy Day                

They died for something that may be trivial to many. A piece of high ground on a salty sand dune, or a landing area in a landmine filled beach, or simply protecting a cadjan bunker in some remote corner of the island. But when dusk settles on this protracted war, every sacrifice these thousands made will have a reason and purpose. On this Remembrance Week, marked with a simple poppy flower, The Nation pays tribute to all our fallen heroes who gave their today for our tomorrow
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)

Mahindapuram to be Douglaspuram?
The controversy over the naming of a housing scheme in Jaffna after President Mahinda Rajapaksa came up before the Cabinet on Wednesday.
The housing scheme had been built in Jaffna, under the auspices of Minister Douglas Devananda. Minister Devananda told the Cabinet that it gives him pleasure to call the housing scheme ‘Mahindapuram.’
The President, who smilingly looked at Devananda, said that he didn’t want anything named after him and suggested that the housing scheme should instead be named... (See Inside)

Senior defence position for Shantha Kottegoda
Former Army Commander and Ambassador for Brazil, General Shantha Kottegoda is tipped to take up a senior defence position in Colombo, according to informed sources.
It is very likely that Gen. Kottegoda would be appointed Chief of Defence Staff, in place of Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera.
Perera will most likely take up a diplomatic position as the Sri ...




Kohona tipped to be next envoy to US
Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona is likely to take up a senior diplomatic position as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States shortly.
The appointment is following a misunderstanding between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, which has been prevailing in the Ministry for some time.
It is said that Minister Bogollagama had said that he wouldn’t be able to work with Dr. Kohona and requested that he be moved out of the Ministry.
Since the Sri Lankan Ambassador to US, Bernard Gunatilleke will be relinquishing his duties in the early part of next year, it is likely that Kohona will be taking up this position. (See Inside)

Mosques call for urgent meeting
Muslim religious and civil organisations are contemplating their next step, following last week’s Supreme Court order which banned the usage of loudspeakers from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., which has also enraged the community.
The Nation reliably learns that representatives from some 35 mosques in the Eastern Province will congregate at the Sammanthurai Grand Mosque to discuss necessary legal measures to be taken against this ruling.
Mosques in Colombo are also expected to meet in the coming days to discuss the issue.
Colombo Grand Mosque General Secretary Nazushan Hassen told The Nation that following the Supreme Court ruling, Muslims have been deprived of their early morning call for prayer, an age old tradition dating back to thousands of years.
Following the court ruling, the prayer during sunrise has been the worst affected as this is usually called at around 5 a.m.
Federation of All Mosques and Organisations in Eastern Province Secretary S.H. Abdul Razik told The Nation that mosques in the east will be holding a special meeting today to discuss their next step, such as whether they could seek legal redress or make an appeal to the authorities urging them to relax the banning for mosques as the sunrise call for prayer does not take more than three minutes.
Senior Government Minister A.H.M. Fowzie was of the view that the court ruling not only affected Muslims but also other religions as well.
Meanwhile, UNP MP Kabir Hashim emphasised that in the event the community was looking at taking steps against this new regulation, it should be a “collective effort” rather than an individual effort to find a solution to the problem.
“Not only Muslims but people of other religions too have been effected by the decision made by the SC. Therefore, we have to see it as a problem for all rather than dividing it among the religions,” Hashim told The Nation.
He pointed out that sound pollution is not an issue which is limited to Sri Lanka only, but other countries as well. However, he added there are many more important measures that needed to be taken to curb sound pollution and the mere banning of prayer calls would not solve the problem. (See Inside)

JHU calls for Karuna’s protection in London
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday called on the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry to intervene and facilitate the necessary security arrangements for the deported leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), Karuna Amman, since the British government was conspiring to murder the renegade LTTE commander, in order to help the LTTE’s cause.
The JHU Media Spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe told The Nation that the British government was refusing to provide security to Karuna Amman, who is against the LTTE, even though it readily provided security to the late LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham.
“It is the responsibility of the British government to provide security to Karuna Amman, when he is taken a prisoner in their state. Whether Karuna Amman is a criminal or not, is another story. He is a citizen of this country and the Foreign Ministry should intervene and make arrangements for his security. The UK government provided security to Anton Balasingham, who was a LTTE leader. Then why are they refusing to provide security to Karuna?” Warnasinghe questioned.
He added that the British government was playing a dual role with regard to Karuna in a bid to protect the LTTE, and accused international rights watchdogs, Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International of being in cahoots with the LTTE. (See Inside)

Eastern Tamils were happier under LTTE: TNA MP
Tamil people in the East were happier under LTTE rule, according to Tamil National Alliance MP, T. Kathiraman.
Speaking at the debate to extend the emergency regulations yesterday, the MP said that the situation has deteriorated rapidly following the army’s clearing of the area.
“There were no crimes in the cities of the Eastern Province when the LTTE was in control. Things like rape, theft and human rights violations were unheard of back then,” she said, adding, “but now the civilians of the area are afraid and worried because government troops raid their houses for no reason and the police turn a blind eye when paramilitary organisations recruit their children.”
The TNA MP asked how Tamil civilians could be happy when the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) was violating their fundamental rights and added that the military has tried to prevent Tamil people from mourning the death of LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan; who was killed in a Sri Lanka Air Force air raid last week. (See Inside)

Peace dove’s family barred from attending funeral
LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan’s immediate family, domiciled in Canada, was refused permission to travel to Sri Lanka for the funeral, The Nation reliably learns.
Highly placed sources said that Thamilselvan’s mother, two brothers and sister who reside in Toronto were unable to return to their motherland after the Sri Lankan government allegedly blocked their trip to Sri Lanka.
“However, a religious ceremony was held in Toronto, Canada attended by friends and relatives of Thamilselvan,” the source noted.
Meanwhile, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), identified as the political proxy of the LTTE, announced that following the most recent attack on the LTTE by the government, all hopes for peace have diminished.
Jaffna District MP Suresh Premachandran, noted that the action by the government and the security forces was not only targeted against Thamilselvan and the LTTE but against all Tamils who longed for peace in the country.
“Peace is now only an illusion. The government appears to have completely closed... (See Inside)

Health unions to testify against bosses on 500m fraud
The All Ceylon Health Services Union will be giving evidence against the Health Ministry, to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, on Tuesday (13) over the alleged fraud amounting to a whopping Rs. 500 million.
The Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Union, Gamini Kumarasinghe, has cited Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition, Nimal Siripala De Silva and the officials in charge as responsible for this alleged fraud.
Kumarasinghe said that when the Auditor General’s Report was released, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee told the Union that the responsible officials should settle the massive amount, if the money has been misappropriated for personal gain.
“The Health Ministry tends to take rigorous action against hospital employees on trivial matters, such as giving only a half day payment to an employee who reports to work 30 minutes late. Additionally, employees are also made to pay unlimited sums for mistakes and damages caused during working hours,” Kumarasinghe told The Nation, adding that the same rules should apply to ministers and (See Inside)





Thamilselvan’s killing:
more than just a landmark victory

Coming as it did in the aftermath of the Tigers’ successful ground and air attack on the Anuradhapura Air Force base, Thamilselvan’s death did at least serve an important purpose: it proved in no uncertain terms, that the Air Force was not a spent force with regard to its attacking capabilities.
Moreover, it raised the morale of the armed forces which was coming to terms with the losses at Anuradhapura. It also offered the military hierarchy some breathing space in the midst of calls for resignations, and probing inquiries about their competence.
What was more revealing though was the media war that invariably ensues when incidents of this nature occur.
This war had two frontlines: the LTTE propaganda machine and the state media which echoed the sentiments of the defence establishment.
The LTTE was quick to acknowledge the killing; it did not attempt at any point to camouflage it or attribute it to an accident. Instead, it focussed on portraying Thamilselvan as an individual who worked for a political solution to the war, thereby implying that the government was actively undermining efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
Interestingly, the Tigers did not go through the usual routine of accusing the Sri Lankan government of committing atrocities against civilians or indulging in indiscriminate aerial bombing. Instead, a terse statement merely announced the death, listing the names of the others who were killed in the attack.
The LTTE also responded by saying it would reply with deeds, not words, to the incident. This has yet to materialise, but the Tigers also promptly appointed P. Nadesan as the organisation’s new political head.
State media 
The state media on the other hand hailed the incident as a major victory for the armed forces. Thamilselvan in fact was the public face of the Tigers. Some rated him as No. 2 in the LTTE hierarchy, and there was no denying that eliminating him was a major... (See Inside)

Sceptres of LTTE backlash and Budget defeat looming large
President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the annual Budget on the seventh, amidst a tight security cordon in the city and elsewhere to ensure that nothing untoward took place during the Budget speech. When he presented the Budget, some members began to chant, “Jaya Sri, Jaya Sri.”
The whole city was in chaos with long rows of vehicles moving at snail’s pace. Frustrated motorists and bus commuters blamed the entire system for the traffic snarls and didn’t spare a single politician from top to bottom.
The people’s wrath was obviously directed towards the government and the Police. However, it was a silent protest confined to what was happening in the city and the immediate suburbs. Some roads were closed, without prior notice to facilitate the President and the VIPs, who were travelling in convoys to Parliament, putting the city in to chaos and bringing traffic to a grinding halt.
The number of man hours and fuel wasted had a spiralling effect on individual budgets, although the government was not at all concerned about the travails of the people.
Be that as it may, coming back to the budget proceedings and the events of the day, it was obvious that the government entertained a certain fear that the LTTE would launch an attack in Colombo on the day of the Budget or before. In fact, Minister Tissa Karalyadde warned Parliament of a possible LTTE attack on the Parliamentary Complex.
Taking part in the Emergency debate on Tuesday, he said that there was a possibility of an explosive laden aircraft crashing on to the Parliamentary complex at the crucial hour, when the Budget speech was being presented.
Knowing the LTTE tactics, that they would attack at the most unexpected moment, the Minister cautioned the authorities of the imminent danger Parliament was exposed to.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the President at Sunday’s government Parliamentary group meeting, where the President said that the LTTE would either target him or his brothers Basil or Gotabaya after the bombing of S.P.Thamilselvan and several others by the Sri Lanka Air Force in the wee hours of November 2. The President also called upon the other VIP’s too to exercise caution when they set out.
In the circumstances, all government politicians are taking additional measures to step up their security, thus compelling the entire ordinary population with the dire need to look after their own security. At times, people think that the Police are out on the roads not to protect them but to harass them and protect some individuals, mostly politicians or bureaucrats, with political leanings. (See Inside)


The Bridge no one wants to cross!
Remember the interstate 35W bridge that plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi river on August 3?
If this incidence did not send shock waves throughout the globe and especially to all governments and respective local authorities, then more bridges are going to face similar problems.
Back in Sri Lanka too, more bridges are neglected and are on the brink of collapse.
In the interest of the public, The Nation picked just one bridge at Alwis Town in Wattala, that is partially collapsing and causing immense inconvenience to the public.
The bridge connects Hendala from the main Negombo road and is in close proximity to one of the leading International schools – the Lyceum International School.
Several complaints have been lodged with the police, the local authority and the government, to no avail.
Thousands of vehicles continue to zip through the bridge despite restrictions imposed by the state and this has put almost all the pedestrians at high risk. The Alwis Town Bridge is cranky, its parts worn after thousands of vehicles passing through on a daily basis.
During an investigation, The Nation learnt that this bridge stands alone with no local or state authority willing to undertake responsibility to maintain or repair the bridge. (See Inside)

Expectations projections and realisations of Budget 2008
On the surface, the Budget presented last Wednesday had some good principles of financial management. The government reduced the Budget deficit to around 7 percent with projected government revenue expected to cover most of current expenditure. The large investment component, most of it for infrastructure, could also be commended. Yet, there is scepticism that the final out turn would be very different. Besides, several of the proposals to alleviate the people’s condition of struggling to make ends meet would hardly provide them relief as they are rhetorical and inadequate gestures and other proposals in the Budget would increase their costs of living. The Budget Speech did speak of the difficulties that people must bear for the greater good of the country and yet, like a magician, MR displayed his skills of not heaping any burdens on the poor. After all there could hardly be any new burdens that could be placed on them in this Budget.
The Budget attempted to reduce the burdens that were already being borne by the people. Government servants were given an inflation allowance of Rs 2500 that is to be raised to Rs. 2750 next June. Samurdhi benefits were increased and there was promise of a reduction in petrol prices, with the intention of keeping petroleum prices stable for some time. If the Budget seemed to be good news for the people,... (See Inside)



Marvan lashes out at selectors
BRISBANE: Veteran Test opener Marvan Atapattu lashed out at the national selectors calling them a set of muppets headed by a joker as Sri Lanka strived hard to stave off defeat in the first cricket Test against Australia at the Brisbane ‘Gabba’ yesterday.
Atapattu returning to Test cricket after nearly two years and international cricket after a traumatic six months top scored for Sri Lanka with a patient 51 in the first innings, and, after his team had been forced to follow-on 340 runs behind, helped Sanath Jayasuriya in an opening partnership of 53 with 16 in the second innings.
By stumps on the third day Sri Lanka who was dismissed for 211 in their first innings were fighting with their backs to the wall finishing at 80-2, still wanting 260 to avoid an innings defeat.
“Sri Lanka cricket at this moment of time is not going in the direction it should be going especially with a set of muppets headed by a joker. I don’t give credit to the way they have handled selections,” Atapattu told at a press conference held at the end of the day.
“If they had handled selections properly we should have a good back-up team. For some reason we don’t have, and at the age of 37-38 people have to come and play for Sri Lanka when it comes to tough tours like this. If selectors are there only for going on tours and getting perks it is a waste of time,” he said.
The national selection committee comprises Ashantha de Mel (chairman), Don Anurasiri, Ranjith Madurasinghe and Jayantha Seneviratne.
Atapattu accused a certain section of people for trying to create the impression that there was disunity within the team.
“We are a happy dressing room at the moment. There have been a section of people who have been trying to say that it is divided, but it is not so. We don’t have problems inside the dressing room but people from outside are trying to create unpleasantness through the media and by statements made by non-playing ex-cricketers to displease us. I don’t think they have succeeded,” said Atapattu who turns 37 on November 20. (See Inside)

Point Blank
A dangerous precedent
Cricket Australia’s attempt to make money from cricket by charging outlets to cover it and putting a ceiling on how much material can be shown on websites is certainly a dangerous precedent which, if left unchecked, could spread and be adopted by other Cricket Boards around the world as well.
This latest tactic by CA was met head on by the three leading news agencies Reuters, AFP and AP who decided to boycott the first Test of the 2007-08 Australian summer between Sri Lanka and Australia. A few more Australian newspapers also joined the boycott.
The conditions imposed on photographers and journalists applying for credentials to cover cricket left the agencies unable to cover the cricket. CA demands included one that they hand over rights to all photos taken at matches.
Cricket Australia’s argument is that it owns the intellectual property rights to the game of cricket and it says those rights extend to everything that happens on the ground. As a result, Cricket Australia expects agencies and websites to pay a fee for taking and selling pictures of the on-field action.
The losers in this battle were the cricket followers who were being deprived of their right to see images of their favourite sport and read progressive reports about major international events over the world.
One of the worries with this dispute is that it will impede overseas coverage of sports. A similar stance was adopted by the international agencies when the International Rugby Board (IRB) tried the same tactic before the World Cup, but failed.
The issue was resolved somewhat to the extent that the Australian newspapers that boycotted the first day were allowed in and coverage of the Test resumed, but the boycott by the agencies... (See Inside)


LTTE claims death does not divide but stabilise!
It was not a surprise for former IGP of the LTTE P. Nadeson, when he was elevated as head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), barely 24 hours after the assassination of Tamilselvan last Friday 2. He was close to the LTTE chief Velupillai Pirabhakaran and was also a native of Valvettiturai, where even Pirabhakaran was born. Being a Police constable attached to the Sri Lanka Police, Nadeson opted to join hands with the LTTE after the 1983 ethnic riots. During this time, he was serving as a police officer at the Jaffna police station, where his wife was also employed as an official at the station. It was at this time that the Jaffna police station was attacked by the Sri Lankan armed forces and for Nadeson, this experience must have been the driving force that changed his mind; to abandon his duties with the Sri Lanka Police and join the Tiger force. He subsequently married the woman he fell in love with, when he was serving in the Jaffna police station even though she was a Sinhalese from Matale. Since then, both of them have been strongly wedded not only to each other, but to the LTTE as well. Because of his skills and knowledge, Nadeson was sent to India to head the political wing under the LTTE from 1985 to 1987. On his return, he was made the first Inspector General of Police of the LTTE police force. He later participated at the peace talks in Geneva and also visited a number of European countries. He is the father of three children and widely known as a ‘humble man.’ In an exclusive interview, he told The Nation that the people based struggle cannot be defeated by military strength and added: “We are ready to make any form of sacrifice to protect our land and our people if the government tries to resolve the Tamil national question by military means.”
Following are excerpts:
Q: How do you view your elevation to the post as head of the political wing from the earlier post as IGP?
We are freedom fighters belonging to a liberation movement. All our members are trained to function skilfully in many fields. Only by such a multi faceted training of the freedom fighters can the struggle be taken forward successfully. If a leader of a section dies, it should be possible to continue the work of that section without any waning of its activities. It is through such resource development, that our organisation is moving forward in our liberation struggle.
There is no status attached to the responsibilities within our movement. Political work is not new to me. I was responsible for the political division during the 85-87 periods when the LTTE was operating from Tamil Nadu in India. I gained much experience then. I can definitely perform in this new role to match the expectations of our organisation and our people.
Q: You have undertaken the leadership of the political wing of the LTTE, especially during turmoil with the Sri Lankan government on the one hand continuing its military strategies and on the other hand not showing any sign for resumption of talks. How do you feel?
The government of Sri Lanka is hoping to suppress the freedom struggle of the Tamil people from a position of military strength. This will never happen. Our struggle is a people’s struggle that has now evolved to embrace an entire nation. The history of the world amply demonstrates that such a people based struggle cannot be defeated by military strength. The government of Sri Lanka is unable to understand this truth. That is why they  (See Inside)




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