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Sunday November 18th, 2007

President rules out dissolution
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ruled out the possibility of dissolving Parliament in the face of threats posed by the opposition to defeat him at tomorrow’s crucial budget voting... (See Inside)

MR woos Rajapakshe
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday met with dissident MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who crossed the floor on Wednesday,... (See Inside)

Mission in Eritrea to isolate LTTE
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on Wednesday moved the Cabinet to approve a Sri Lanka mission in Eritrea, as a precaution against the LTTE claiming Unilateral... (See Inside)


        Who will have the last laugh?      

Despite locking horns in the political arena, especially with the impending budget vote, neither President Mahinda Rajapaksa nor Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe showed any animosity towards each other when they met yesterday, at the funeral house of Elina Jayewardene, wife of former President J.R Jayewardene. A beaming President Rajapaksa is seen chatting away with Wickremesinghe, watched by Ravi Jayewardene (Pic by Chandana Perera)


Randima bags top Health prize
The Nation journalist Randima Attygalle was awarded “Excellence in Health Journalism 2007” presented by the Sri Lanka Medical Association at a ceremony held on Friday,... (See Inside)

Et tu Dilan?
Justice Minister Dilan Perera who defended COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe at last week’s SLFP Central Committee... (See Inside)




Former First Lady passes away
Eleina Bandara Rupasinghe Jayewardene, wife of Sri Lanka’s first Executive President, J.R. Jayewardene, passed away yesterday at the age of 93, after a brief illness.
Eleina Bandara Rupasinghe, the only child of Gilbert Leonard Rupasinghe, planter, businessman and a notary public and Nancy Margaret Sooriyabandara, was born on December 15, 1913.
She leaves behind her son, Ravindra Wimal Jayewardene and three grandsons, Pradeep, Rukshan and Amrik.
Her remains will be laid to rest today at 6:00p.m. at... (See Inside)

Karuna is one of the worst human rights abusers- HRW
The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday reiterated their request demanding that British authorities open a criminal investigation into Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, known as Colonel Karuna Amman, a former Tamil Tiger leader in immigration detention.
In a statement issued late Friday, HRW noted that British law permits the prosecution of individuals for serious violations of international law, including torture and war crimes, committed abroad. For example, in 2005, UK courts convicted a former Afghan warlord, Faryadi Sarwar Zardad, for acts of torture and hostage-taking in Afghanistan.
“The British government has shown that it can successfully prosecute those who have committed serious abuses abroad,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, in his statement. “Karuna is... (See Inside)

JVP scoffs at President’s offer
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday scoffed and rejected President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s invitation for talks declaring that the party has had enough with negotiations, and was only waiting for some meaningful action by the government.
JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe addressing a media briefing yesterday morning, described a letter sent by President Rajapaksa as being, ‘irresponsible and foolish’, and blamed the government for not fully comprehending the JVP demands, by only calling for talks as usual.
“The president has only been reading what the media has been reporting. He has called us for talks on the four demands we supposedly put forward. We did make demands, but they were not conditions given to support the budget. It is also foolish and very irresponsible... (See Inside)

Pre-budget wheeler dealing
Felix meets Mangala
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera on Wednesday met with SLFP (M) Convenor Mangala Samaraweera and attempted to persuade the latter to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In response, Samaraweera told Perera that it was pointless to meet with President Rajapaksa since the two of them were obviously of two diametrically opposing mindsets.
Refusing to give up with that, Perera then urged Samaraweera to meet with Basil Rajapaksa at least. Samaraweera agreed, saying that if Basil were to talk to him in parliament one day, they could hold the discussion there.
UNP’s budget dinner
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will host all UNP... (See Inside)

LTTE can’t continue their violent struggle for long – US
United States (US) has again urged both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to resume peace negotiations and emphasised that the LTTE would not find it easy to continue their violent struggle if the present trend continued.
The request was made by the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Robert Blake while addressing reporters in Colombo on Friday.
Blake said that the United States believed that a solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka and added that the respect for the rights of the Tamil people could only be found through peaceful negotiations. He also emphasized that the U.S. strongly supported a negotiated settlement and not a military based solution. (See Inside)

Rajapakshe awaits Rajapaksa’s response
Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Chairman Wijayadasa Rajapakshe PC, who held talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa last morning said, voting for the budget depended on favourable answers given to him by the President for his demands.
His demands are to prune the giant Cabinet to 30 and remove UNP dissident Ministers in government, against whom COPE has levelled corruption charges.
Shortly after his meeting with the President, Rajapakshe told The Nation that he only agreed to the meeting because the President pleaded for a meeting. (See Inside)





Budget shenanigans
The week beginning tomorrow will be politically decisive in more ways than one as President Mahinda Rajapaksa is embroiled in a bitter battle to see the Budget through Parliament and ensure the survival of his government.
Last week, power brokers were working overtime, with many events crowded into the last seven days: the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) issuing four demands to the government, so it could support the Budget, three provincial councillors from the United National Party (UNP) proclaiming their support to the President, the respected ruling party MP, Wijeyadasa Rajapakse announcing he would not vote for the Budget and then, UNP MP Mahinda Ratnatilleke crossing over to the government, only to find Minister Dilan Perera resign from the central committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in protest. (See Inside)

Political horse deals rule the day
If the crossover of Wijayadasa Rajapakshe boosted the image of the opposition, then Mahinda Ratnatilleke reversed that euphoria to a certain extent by joining the government.
Though the magnitude and the importance was not the same as Wijayadasa Rajapakshe crossing the floor; the crossover of Mahinda Ratnatilleke coming out of the blue, has taken the entire House and the UNP by surprise.
Some UNP politicians think that it was a master stroke by Basil Rajapaksa who is fighting tooth and nail to keep the Rajapaksa administration afloat.
During the past few days, the political machinery in the country was plunged into total chaos, owing to political horse deals that had been hatched in high political echelons of Colombo.
In the run up to the vote on the second reading of the Budget, both the government and the opposition UNP were making a valiant effort to emerge above each other politically... (See Inside)


Recently, news of doctors starting to kill patients in Sri Lanka, has caught the spotlight. Contrary to the general notion of doctors giving people a new lease of life, an incident at the Negombo General Hospital, sent shockwaves around Sri Lanka.
A Dr Sudarshana Jayasinghe was arrested for the alleged murder of a female patient, Chamila Dissanayake (22) working at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, after sexually harassing her. Many news items covered the incident. The Nation went in search of more details of the tragedy that befell this young girl.
Chamila Dissanayake was suspected of being murdered on Monday, while Dr Jayasinghe (32), a trainee provided with hostel facilities at the Negombo Hospital, was arrested the following morning, Tuesday, November 13, by the police, on a statement made by an eyewitness, a cleaning maid, M. Beatrice. She had seen the doctor forcibly dragging the patient towards a window on the 6th floor of the Negombo Hospital, after which the woman’s body was found on the ground. The victim had reportedly been pushed from... (See Inside)

Mahinda Rajapaksa celebrates his birthday today (November 18). Two years ago the people of this country gave him a magnificent birthday present by making him victor in the presidential poll of November 17. This time, Parliament is poised to present him another birthday gift by way of majority support when the vote is taken tomorrow (November 19).
The past week has seen much excitement. The numbers game is being played by political parties of all hues. The target from the Opposition Leader’s point of view is to cobble together a majority that would vote against and defeat the government in the Budget voting. The goal from the Head of the Government’s viewpoint is to prevent that situation by retaining the numerical majority and demonstrating that on the floor of the House.
Conscience attacks
The name of the game is numbers! While the great game to acquire the magic figure goes on, a number of other little ‘games’ are being played. Some get sudden ‘conscience’ attacks and want to cross over. Swift medical attention is shown by the powers that be. Portfolios, posts, perks and payments are pledged. This happens on either side... (See Inside)



Aussies dominate Lankans
HOBART: Australia once again batted to go into a dominant position posting their second total in excess of 500 in successive Test matches against Sri Lanka in the second Test played at the Bellerive Oval here Saturday.
When bad light eventually ended play on a rather overcast day disrupted many times by rain, Sri Lanka openers Marvan Atapattu and Michael Vandort had survived 12 testing overs from Brett Lee and Michel Johnson to be 30 without loss in reply to Australia’s first innings of 542-6 declared. They trail Australia by 512 runs and require scoring 343 to avoid the follow-on.
The day didn’t begin well for Sri Lanka who suffered a setback when one of their front-line bowlers Farveez Maharoof was ruled out from bowling with an ankle injury. It was later confirmed that he had a suspected hairline fracture.
Maharoof’s unexpected injury reduced the bowling options left to skipper Mahela Jayawardene to just three – Malinga, Fernando and Muralitharan. The state of the Australian innings demanded more firepower from Sri Lanka. The one they had put out for the Test proved to be insufficient to dislodge the Australian batting line up as they were able capture only three wickets on the first day. With Maharoof’s loss the task of making early inroads into the Australian batting became a difficult one as Hussey and Clarke built on Australia’s overnight total of 329 carrying it to 410 before being separated. (See Inside)

Point Blank
‘Marv the Mouth’ fishing in troubled waters
The composition of the Sri Lanka team is gradually going through a changing phase with all that’s happening around it.
Marvan Atapattu’s international cricket career seems to be in troubled waters after his surprising outburst against the national selectors and his name once again surfacing with the Indian rebel league – ICL. Atapattu confirmed that he had been approached by ICL and the way things are going it won’t be a surprise if he ends signing up with them. Atapattu faces a disciplinary inquiry when he returns home from the Australian tour on his utterances against the national selectors.
Another long-serving servant of the game Chaminda Vaas found himself left out of the on-going second Test against Australia at Hobart that deprived him of making his 100th Test appearance for his country. Vaas was lucky to have played at Brisbane ahead of Lasith Malinga, a move which was criticised by the media, but would have been justified had the catches been taken.
With age (he is 33) Vaas has lost his pace and although he still makes the ball swing and move off the seam he is unable to beat the bat as before. The writing it seems is on the wall for this brilliant cricketer at least on the Test front.
Another cricketer who must be nearing the end of his Test career is Sanath Jayasuriya (38) who was demoted from the opener’s berth to the middle-order at Hobart.
Atapattu’s late inclusion for the tour of Australia on the instructions of the Sports... (See Inside)


‘Stand with him while he is right’
It is that time of the year, when the focus of the country is aimed at the House for a particular reason: the national budget debate. This year’s debate too presented many debacles in terms of allocating funds to various nefarious acts of the government, where the usual mudslinging across the well continued, while the disinterested – and disappointed – general public gazed upon the drama nonchalantly. Burdened by the unbearable cost of living, and not receiving much relief in terms of salary increments or price reductions, the public view was affixed on a more favourable front: the war, perhaps to the delight of those in governance.
Yet, mid last week presented a phenomenon that drew public attention to the otherwise stalemate budget debate: crossovers.
Change of hearts and party colours are no strange occurrences in Sri Lankan politics. From the earliest post-independent days, parliamentarians crossed the well for various reasons.
However, when National List Sri Lanka Freedom Party Parliamentarian and Committee on Public Enterprises Chairman Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, whose damning report earned him much praise from the public, crossed over to the opposition, it presented a rather volatile situation for both government and opposition. (See Inside)




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