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Sunday December 09th, 2007

Police powers for NE interim councils
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is likely to announce the full implementation of the provisions on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution shortly. (See Inside)

Will Chilcott talk on Karuna?
British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott will deliver the 10th Dudley Senanayake memorial lecture... (See Inside)

Prasad to be appointed Foreign Secretary
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United... (See Inside)


     Even the ‘Barmy Army’ was  not spared!     

A ‘Barmy Army’ supporter being checked by Police outside the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy last week. Security for the English tour has been strengthened in the wake of terrorist attacks in Colombo and Anuradhapura
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara



Who authorised FM’s son to issue official statements?
Controversial Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama made yet another bureaucratic blunder by permitting his son Dhakshitha... (See Inside)

Mahinda scores on Murali gift
Controversy surrounds the gifting of a luxury car to champion bowler Muttiah Muralitharan by President Mahinda Rajapaksa,... (See Inside)




Quick action by forces saves the day
A filling station and its stores in the Kamburupitiya town and another 15 shops were destroyed following a sudden fire that engulfed the area yesterday afternoon around 12:45 p.m.
According to Minister Lakshaman Yapa Abeywardena, the fire caused severe damage to eight shops in Kamburupitiya, situated a few kilometres from the Matara town.
“We were able to completely extinguish the fire within two hours with the help of the Fire Brigade, Air Force, Army and Navy. No civilians were injured in the fire and no damage was caused to any vehicles. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa took quick measures to order the three forces to extinguish the fire before it spread,” the Minister added.
Despite the allegation that the damage could have been minimised if the Fire Brigade reached Matara from Galle on time, Minister Abeywardena explained that the Fire Brigade reached the scene in a reasonable amount of time given the distance it... (See Inside)

Over 90% eateries in Colombo prepare unhygienic food
In a shocking discovery by the Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), only a mere 80 out of a staggering 1,000-odd eating houses prepare food that is acceptable by health and hygienic standards.
The discovery was made following a newly launched grading programme by the department.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam told The Nation that the eating houses in the city of Colombo, ranging from ordinary food kiosks to star rated hotels, were inspected and graded by the...  (See Inside)

Galle Face goes ‘nuts’
The Galle Face Green, which is in the process of being given a facelift, is to receive 47 high-breed coconut plants.
A function to mark the tree planting ceremony will take place at the Galle Face Green next Saturday.
Coconut Cultivation Board Chairman Dr. Jayantha Gunatilleke told The Nation that the main intention of planting coconut trees is to improve knowledge about cultivating a coconut trees among Colombo residents.
“It was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s idea,” he said. (See Inside)

Sri Lanka Navy celebrates 58th anniversary
The Sri Lanka Navy will commemorate its 58th anniversary today. The event will be marked with several religious ceremonies to invoke blessings on deceased Naval personnel, those wounded during the ongoing conflict, and the rank and file currently serving.
The Ceylon Navy was established on December 9, 1949 with the passing of the Navy Act. The event also coincided with the commissioning of HMS Flying Fish as Her Majesty’s Ceylon Ship Vijaya, which remained the Navy’s sole vessel for many years. The Navy has come a long way from its humble beginnings to become a formidable first line of defence for the country.
Since 1983, the Navy faced many a challenge from the LTTE’s Sea Tiger Wing, with many Navel vessels being destroyed in attacks. The Navy has seen several successes in the past year, with it being able to destroy many LTTE cargo ships. (See Inside)

SC calls for explanation from Gota, IGP
The Supreme Court has ordered the Defence Secretary, IGP and three service commanders to explain the reasons for the arrest and detention of four Tamil civilians.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Gamini Amaratunga and Jagath Balapatabendi made this order sequel to a Fundamental Rights Application filed by the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC). The court gave respondents time until December 14 to submit their explanations and also ordered them to produce a list of persons who are still being detained.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) also filed a similar application on behalf of those arrested by Maradana, Pettah, Grandpass, Kotahena, Dehiwala, Pelawatta, Mirihana and Mount Lavinia Police Stations. (See Inside)

No change in Budget position – JVP
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday claimed that there has been no change in its decision to vote against the Budget at its third reading, scheduled for December 14.
JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka told The Nation yesterday that his party has not seen any positive developments from the government for the JVP to reconsider its decision.
“It is not a new and improved Budget. It is still the same thing. So we will definitely vote against it. There is no need to reconsider our decision as nothing political has changed in favour of the government.”
Meanwhile, CWC Vice President, Parliamentarian R. Yogarajan told The Nation yesterday that his party also intends to retain its decision to vote in favour... (See Inside)





Move over Prabha. Take a bow Murali
The incidental fact that champion spinner and new world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan is a Tamil, is not the only thing in common he has with the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). If Prabhakaran evokes emotions of hatred with some intensity, Murali has succeeded in inducing sentiments of unity and national pride with the same passion.
The off-spinner’s road to stardom was littered with trials and tribulations. At first, his bowling action was queried, and thereafter he was called for chucking by umpires during a tour to Australia. It took a lot of courage and determination from Muralitharan, and a lot of legal work and lobbying from the Sri Lankan cricket authorities to overcome these hiccups.
Last week, all these efforts came into fruition with Muralitharan creating cricketing history, eclipsing Australian leg spinner Shane Warne’s short lived record for the most number of test wickets. And through it all, while Muralitharan smiled his trademark infectious grin, the whole of Sri Lanka rallied around him. And that is where the reference to Prabhakaran becomes relevant. (See Inside)

Govt. fast-tracks to appease JVP ahead of crucial Budget vote
Sri Lanka is heading for yet another week of political turmoil, with the government and the opposition braving for the third reading of the Budget scheduled for Friday, December 14.
At this juncture, the point to ponder is how some of the political parties manoeuvered to vote for the Defence Budget last week.
The JVP, which opposed the second reading of the third Budget of the Rajapaksa administration, however, voted with the government in this instance, drawing the attention of the entire country.
The more plausible reason for this is that the JVP is more or less obsessed with the security situation in the country and are seasoned campaigners against the terror tactics of the LTTE against the state. If the JVP decided otherwise, it would have had a negative impact on them, politically, hence, the “aye.”
However, it may not have a bearing on the third reading of the Budget, and the JVP is very likely to revert to its earlier stance and vote against the government, as they did during the second reading on November 19. (See Inside)


Rhetoric and reality – Part I
Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess was a poem I read decades ago as a schoolboy. In the self-righteous narrative about his wife’s beautiful portrait, the Duke recites a litany of woes against her. Complaining loudly, he paints himself as the aggrieved party and places his dead wife in the dock.
At one point we realise that he had ordered her execution. Though the Duke tries to justify his action, it is he who stands condemned as the guilty one in the eyes of the reader.
The memory of My Last Duchess came back to me after I saw on TV, heard on radio and read in print the Great Heroes Day (GHD) address by Velupillai Prabakharan this year.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Leader, in his speech, was sharply critical of the Sinhala nation, state, political parties, India, the international community, etc., for the present predicament of the Sri Lankan Tamil people. The only unsullied entity in all this – according to Prabhakaran – is the LTTE.
Dead wrong
In this ‘us against the world’ kind of speech delivered in ‘a holier than thou’ style, Prabhakaran depicted the Tamil people as suffering underdogs. In that, he was spot on. But Prabhakaran was dead wrong ... (See Inside)

Last week’s Supreme Court judgment on checkpoints came as an eye-opener in the backdrop of the escalating war and heightened threat to the lives of civilians, especially in the city of Colombo.
While the landmark judgment, which was delivered on Monday – in the aftermath of two terrorist attacks in the city – was hailed by some as a step that would put a halt to the harassment the public was subject to at police checkpoints and elsewhere on the road, others expressed fears that it would compromise national security.
SC judgment
The judgment was delivered following a fundamental rights petition filed by W.I.S. Rodrigo from Panadura. It stated that if security measures are to be taken to safeguard any person who is specially threatened,... (See Inside)



Jayawardene expects England to come back hard
Sri Lanka has the rare honour of going into a Test match with the world’s best batsman and best bowler in their ranks as they take on England in the second cricket Test at the SSC grounds today.
With Kumar Sangakkara going to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings to join Muttiah Muralitharan who is similarly placed in the Test bowling rankings, Sri Lanka has everything going before them to seal the three-Test series at Sri Lanka Cricket’s headquarters over the next five days.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene said: “It’s to do with the brand of cricket that we play. We are not afraid to express ourselves out there whether it is in a Test or ODI. We just go out there and enjoy ourselves and play the brand of cricket we are quite used to playing. That has helped us to be the best that we can be.” (See Inside)

The waiting is over
So finally the waiting is over. Muttiah Muralitharan known to the cricket world, amongst many other references as the ‘Smiling Assassin’ has conquered cricket’s highest peak for a Test bowler by becoming the leading wicket-taker surpassing legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne’s tally of 708 wickets from 145 Tests. To what further heights Murali will scale only time will tell. Warne in congratulating Murali predicts that he would finish with 1000 Test wickets. But Murali who has also been predicting that figure in the not too recent past has somewhat slightly changed his stance after his record breaking effort.
“I also think that sometimes I can get 1000 Test wickets but it’s very hard. I am 35 and bowling a lot of overs for my country and playing a lot of cricket around the year. I want to play both forms of the game till I retire because we only play about 7-8 Test matches a year. If you don’t continue to play you will lose interest. I thought I will take it season by season. You also have to enjoy the game and your body should also be fit... (See Inside)


UNHR office not welcome: Mahinda
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Louise Arbour and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe are at loggerheads. While Arbour insists that the government should allocate space for a UN office to monitor human rights (HR) violations in Sri Lanka, the latter is adamant – not to allow Arbour dictate terms to Sri Lanka. Besides, both of them are also contradicting each other. While Arbour says she made a public request regarding her proposal, during her brief stay in Sri Lanka, the Minister totally denies it. Samarasinghe who does not mince words, says in no uncertain terms that Sri Lanka will never let outsiders dictate terms. “We are a sovereign nation. We are not a nation that has just been freed from a superpower, nor just discovered democracy. Our consolidated position is that there is no room for a UNHCHR monitoring office in Sri Lanka,” the Minister told The Nation in an interview.
Following are excerpts:
Q: The government, in general, and you, in particular, have come under flak over growing HR violations. How do you view this?
Of course, there is a lot being said about the general HR climate. But there is a problem of terrorism. And given the LTTE’s stated objective of dividing the country, the government and its agencies have had to take whatever steps required to ensure... (See Inside)

Sri Lanka on the path to financial ruin—UNP MP
UNP MP for the Kurunegala district Dayasiri Jayasekara has been one of the most vocal PAC committee members. In an interview with The Nation he talks about the controversial findings of the report, parliamentary rights and why he believes that the PAC report will make an impact albeit the failure of the COPE report
Q: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended firing A.A.Wijepala, Commissioner General, Inland Revenue. What are the reasons behind that recommendation?
The Auditor General’s report on the income tax department caught the attention of the PAC early, because we saw a lot of irregulaties in the payments of GST and VAT. We discovered that between 2002 and 2005 there had been around Rs 3.8 billion fraudulent VAT refunds. Out of this Rs 3.89 billion fraud, Rs 3.03 billion worth of transactions occurred when A. A Wijepala was the commissioner of the VAT division. Before his time as the commissioner, several officers were handling the VAT refunds ... (See Inside)




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