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...
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
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
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
(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...
Senior defence position for Shantha
Former Army Commander and
Ambassador for Brazil, General Shantha Kottegoda is tipped to
take up a senior defence position in Colombo, according to
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.
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.
JHU calls for Karuna’s protection in
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
“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.
Eastern Tamils were happier under LTTE:
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
Peace dove’s family barred from
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
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
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...
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
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
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
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
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.
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...
Sceptres of LTTE backlash and Budget
defeat looming large
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,...
|Marvan lashes out at
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
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
“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.
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
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...
LTTE claims death does not divide but
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?
A: 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?
A: 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