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Sunday December 02nd, 2007

Over 800 Tamils arrested
More than 800 Tamils were arrested in Colombo since Friday during combined search operations launched by the security forces and Police, following Wednesday’s bomb...  (See Inside)

Anura blasts ‘despicable’ foreign policy
National Heritage Minister Anura Bandaranaike launched a scathing attack on Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, calling it as one... (See Inside)

Buses run dry
Private bus owners appear to be bearing the brunt of the back-to-back bomb blasts fallout, with the Private Bus Owners’ Association (PBOA) claiming that profits have... (See Inside)


                   Childhood stolen                

Five-year-old Upamali was one of the many innocent victims during Wednesday’s deadly bomb attack at Nugegoda. She lies at the Kalubowila Hospital playing with her doll, which will probably bring her only limited solace, once she realises her real loss – her father who died during the bomb blast and her mother who continues to remain in a serious condition following the deadly attack
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



Inland Revenue Chief to go before Public Services Commission
The government is very likely to refer the interim report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to the Public Services Commission... (See Inside)

Rs. 150 billion scam at Nation Building Ministry
The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has received reports of 40 state institutions with discrepancies amounting to a whopping Rs. 150 billion.
The sum ... (See Inside)




FORUT ceases humanitarian work
FORUT Sri Lanka, an International Non-Governmental Organisation, has ceased its humanitarian efforts in the Wanni as of last Wednesday. The INGO’s office in Kilinochchi was damaged in an aerial attack by the Sri Lanka Air Force this week.
FORUT Resident Representative Terje Heggenernes said, “We stopped our work in the Wanni area simply because we were affected by the bombing last week. The security in the area is very unstable.”
FORUT had been working with the war affected Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as persons affected by the tsunami.
The Norwegian organisation, which has been working in Sri Lanka since 1981, focuses on community development and rehabilitation and has projects and operations in Hambantota, Matale, Kilinochchi, (See Inside)

CID carries out search at UNICEF stores
The CID is suspected to have carried out a search operation at one of the United Nations Children’s Funds’ (UNICEF) stores at Seeduwa on Friday which had contained hundreds of Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE).
UNICEF spokesperson, Gordan Weiss told The Nation that they were only informed by government authorities that the MRE stores would be checked on Friday, but had not been informed the norm of the search nor who was carrying it out.
“We have absolutely no idea about the investigation or developments of the investigation. (See Inside)

 Former COPE Chairman now UNP’s broker
COPE Chairman, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who crossed over to the opposition on the eve of the second reading of the budget last month, has now assumed the role of MP broker for the main opposition UNP, it is learnt.
Rajapakshe recently brokered Hussein Bhaila, leaving it up to former UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema to seal the deal. A journalist telephoned Samarawickrema to inform him that Bhaila would meet him at a residence near Alfred House Gardens at an appointed hour.
While waiting for the Muslim MP to show, Samarawickrema engaged in some idle chit chat with the chief occupant of the house, and finally when Bhaila was more than 15 minutes late, the former UNP Chairman called the MP’s mobile telephone. (See Inside)

Arbour, Samarasinghe lock horns over HR office
Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe has expressed his surprise over a recent statement made by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who had claimed that she had made a public request to open an office in Sri Lanka.
In a letter addressed to Arbour on November 27th, the Minister referring to a statement by the High Commissioner on November 21, 2007, stated that he was puzzled at her comments in the article, particularly at the present juncture, when they were attempting to discuss and forge a consensus on an, “appropriate arrangement” for Sri Lanka, as suggested by Arbour in her letter of October 24, following... (See Inside)

APRC has failed to deliver – Hakeem
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem has declared that the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), established by the government to seek a solution to the ethnic conflict, has failed to deliver a conclusive set of proposals.
Hakeem, who is also the Posts and Telecommunication Minister, was speaking at the 23rd anniversary of the National Posts and Telecommunication Union at Gunasinghapura.
“The government’s APRC has been unable to come up with proposals to solve the problem in the country. The national problem should be overcome through a political solution as the country has stepped into a decisive situation at present,” he asserted.
Minister Hakeem reiterated that the SLMC strongly believes that the problem can only be solved through a political solution and war is only a temporary victory. (See Inside)

Minister’s call to boycott Budget vote irks government members
Non Cabinet Minister Cegu Isadean’s call to all Muslim parliamentarians to boycott the third reading of the Budget scheduled for December 14 has ticked off many sections of the government, including top ministers, The Nation learns.
Several ministers had taken serious note of Isadean’s appeal, which was unprecedented, coming from a government member who was also a minister. Isadean had made the call last Friday during a protest launched after Jumma prayers, against the recent Supreme Court ruling which banned the use of loudspeakers from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The matter was taken up by government members during several informal meetings they had with National Unity Alliance (NUA) Leader Ferial Ashraff, where they had expressed their displeasure over Isadean’s... (See Inside)





Bomb blasts ‘winning war’ boast
When last week began, the focus was on what LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran would say next, anticipating a policy statement from the terrorist supremo. When the week ended however, all eyes were still on Prabhakaran, but mostly concerned with what he would do next.
The reason was simple. Two deadly blasts, in Colombo and Nugegoda, and within a few hours of each other, had brought the brutal reality of the Tiger campaign home: the terrorists needed to succeed only once to create mayhem, while the government needed to succeed always to prevent it.
If one expected an indication of the Tigers’ thinking from Prabhakaran in his Great Heroes’ Day speech, that was not to be. Quite in contrast to preceding years, this year the Tiger Leader was less boastful of the successes of his organisation, and at times, almost apologetic. There was more lamenting than lambasting, and the general theme apparently was one of criticising the international community.
Even Colombo was pleasantly surprised. JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa noted that Prabhakaran was now pleading for sustenance, and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was not shy to proclaim that this would probably be the LTTE Leader’s last birthday. But that was the calm before the storm.
Less than 24 hours later, the Tigers struck back, preferring deeds rather than words to do so. Even if the assassination attempt on Eelam... (See Inside)

Twin blasts stir mixed reactions
With war clouds overshadowing the festive mood, one wonders whether the UPFA government has any clue as to how civilian deaths should be managed due to war operations.
The twin bomb blasts that took place in the heart of the city rocking the entire nation have definitely caused more civilian deaths. In the case of the second bomb blast in Nugegoda, it was evident that even the police officers were unaware of certain procedures in handling something suspicious, like a parcel bomb.
Last week’s blasts, despite tight security, that sent shock waves throughout the country, have led to more chaos and tension in the city of Colombo. But one thing was certain – LTTE penetration.
Speculations were also rife that this could change the fate of the government after the third reading of the budget scheduled for December 14.
Though most of the political parties that voted with the government during the first budget had second thoughts about the third reading, they did not wish to make any commitment right now.
Some of the minority parties pointed out that it would not be possible to overthrow the government until the JVP was in power. (See Inside)


Eviction mess-up by KMC
The law states that if your landlord wants to evict you from your home, he or she must follow the correct legal procedure.
Unless a tenant wishes to surrender a tenancy voluntarily, most tenants in rented accommodation have the right not to be evicted from their accommodation until the landlord has first obtained a possession order from the court and had that order enforced by a court of law.
The Kandy Municipal Council (KMC) is at present embroiled in a crisis over unauthorised structures and a subsequent order to demolish them.
The controversy looms over an order to put up shops by the Mayor and a few other councillors, while the order to demolish the structure and evict all the shop owners has come from the council itself.
The present problem, which is bound to transform into a major crisis, is purely due to lack... (See Inside)

Senseless carnage!
It was devastating to see so many lives brutally shattered in the bomb that went off in Nugegoda. Many, who were unaware of the untimely brutality of their death, went into the Nolimit store situated in the densely populated Nugegoda town to buy clothes.
Some were buying clothes for pleasure, some to mollify their desires, some just because their mom or dad told them but none knew their fate – fate decided by a bomb! Time passed unconsciously, the pendulum suddenly stopped swinging when a parcel was discovered that altered the fate of many.
The first person to enter the scene, jeopardising his own life was a man named Chandrasena, from the nearby three-wheeler park. When the situation was left unattended, the man took a brave decision to bring a police officer doing his job at the junction. The usually reliable electricity was down... (See Inside)



Sanga, a cut above the rest
Kumar Sangakkara distinguished himself as a batsman of class way above the rest of his colleagues when he again ended up as his team’s top scorer on the opening day of the first cricket Test against England at the Asgiriya International Stadium here yesterday.
As he had done against Australia in the second innings at Hobart 11 days ago when he hit a magnificent 192, Sangakkara stood tall as his colleagues succumbed to the pace of Matthew Hoggard and later the spin of Monty Panesar. The classy left-hander carved out a superb 92 in 252 minutes using up 159 balls (13 fours) as Sri Lanka tumbled to 188 all out after deciding to bat first on a flat track.
The difference between Sangakkara and the rest of the batting is that he has the intuition and the patience to decide which balls he wants to play and the ones to leave out. His form since forging that world record partnership of 628 with Mahela Jayawardene in April 2006 has been awesome. (See Inside)

Point Blank
One-day cricket overdose
With the amount of cricket that is being played today it came as no surprise from Australia’s Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist that the one-day tri-series which culminates the cricket season in Australia had gone stale and needs revamping. The 2007-08 series will feature host Australia and two of Asia’s top one-day sides – India and Sri Lanka, neither of whom has won this series. The staleness could be originating from the fact that the host country Australia has proved to be unbeatable in the tournament. Their dominance has been such that they have won all but nine of the 26 finals played so far since 1979-80. The only exceptions are West Indies who won it six times, and England, Pakistan and South Africa, one apiece.
The great danger is that Australia’s total dominance of cricket in both forms (Tests and ODI) is having adverse effects on the game itself. The Aussies are now complaining that there isn’t enough opposition to challenge them. Like one-day cricket at times the results against Australia have become very predictable.
Gilchrist is no ordinary cricketer and what he says has to be taken pretty seriously. After all wasn’t he recently voted as Australia’s greatest one-day cricketer?
From its inception in the eighties it was difficult to fathom why three teams had to play ten matches each it was later reduced to eight) to decide on who should play in the best of three finals. No doubt the volume of matches would have been drawn up in a manner to please the television audience and the sponsors... (See Inside)


Kumar Rupesinghe challenges electoral...
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Foundation for Co-Existence Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe, says the masses have lost faith in the political system of this country which he says is corrupt to the core and adds that this does not inspire confidence amongst the people. He says the Cabinet system has become a joke with the presence of 107 Ministers and Deputy Ministers. He explains that the cost incurred to maintain the members of the Cabinet is awesome and wasteful. “The electoral system is the prime example of the corruption in this country. To become a member in Parliament, one requires a minimum of 10 million rupees which an ordinary person cannot afford,” he told The Nation in an interview. In an attempt to bring these issues to the public, Dr. Rupesinghe, who also heads The National Anti War Front (NAWF), recently organised a convention titled ‘Prayathneya’ which drew tens of thousands of people from all 22 districts. The objective of the convention was to seek a mandate from the people to put pressure on the government to be more accountable.
Following are excerpts:
Q: What was the purpose of the People’s Convention which was held on November 10?
This was to seek a manifesto from the masses to pressurize the government. Over a hundred people in each district took part in these consultations. The consultations were held with young people, trade unionists, women, inter-religious leaders and ordinary citizens. Further, a series of meetings were also held with experts in various subjects making speeches. This was to create an awareness about citizen’s rights and give them knowledge on governance. Finally, the draft of the people’s appeal was given to the representatives of all nine provinces.
The people’s appeal was presented for ratification at the People’s Convention which was held on November 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium with the participation of over 7000 Sri Lankans. The convention is a culmination of five years... (See Inside)




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