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Sunday December 23rd, 2007

Moves to scuttle APRC with foreign jaunt?
Steps are underway to send the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to Northern... (See Inside)

Ministers bask in luxury while masses burn
A large number of ministers appear to be celebrating the season in grand style, with many... (See Inside)

East turns into a hell hole as Pillaiyan runs amok
TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) Deputy Leader Pillaiyan and his cadres are running riot in the Eastern Province,... (See Inside)


           Barmy Army in full swing           

The Barmy Army seems to be in full swing at the Galle International Cricket Stadium during the third and final Test match between Sri Lanka and England, the first cricket match to be played in the scenic stadium after the 2004 tsunami completely destroyed its grounds
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



Hill on the decline
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s move to get rid of SriLankan Airlines CEO Peter Hill is riddled with controversy and speculation.
Sources... (See Inside)

Army overruns Uylankulam
Security Forces overran the Uylankulam, LTTE entry-exit point in Mannar last morning following a fierce battle with the LTTE,...(See Inside)




Thousands of refugees to get Lankan citizenship
The Select Committee for Granting Citizenship to Refugees has decided to grant Sri Lankan citizenship to nearly 28,000 Sri Lankan Tamils who are currently in welfare centres in Tamil Nadu, India.
Committee Chairman, JVP MP Ramalingam Chandrasekaran speaking to The Nation said that most of the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu are willing to return to their motherland but they are unable to return as they have no way of proving their identity upon their arrival in Sri Lanka.
Chandrasekaran further said that most of the refugees fled to India owing to the ethnic conflict and at the time of fleeing, they had not taken any of their legal papers or any other documents necessary to prove their identity upon their return to the country. (See Inside)

Teachers to go hungry?
The All Sri Lanka Graduate Teachers’ Union will launch a hunger strike on December 31 if their grievances are not addressed by the authorities, before the end of this year.
Union’s Secretary E.M.J.S. de Seram told The Nation that successive governments from 1994 have failed to present a solution for their problems.
“We have been demanding the prevailing governments from 1994 to eradicate the anomalies in the salary scale of graduate teachers. We have listened to many empty promises, but if no constructive action is taken, we will take union action. The saddest part is that even the Ceylon Teachers’ Union has tried to stab us in the back,” de Seram said.
He opined that, in the previous years, several unions have tried to prevent the graduate teachers from receiving the salary... (See Inside)

SC directs evaluation of A-12 upgrading bids
The Supreme Court has directed the Road Development Authority (RDA) and the cabinet of ministers to evaluate the bid submitted by Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. and China Dalian International Cooperation (Group) Holding Ltd., with the other qualified bids for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the A-12 Road.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Nimal E. Dissanayake and A.M. Somawansa.
The Court gave this direction after considering the submissions of Sanjeewa Jayawardana, instructed by Sudath Perera Associates on behalf of the petitioner companies.
In its fundamental right application, petitioner companies stated that although they owned more than 70% of the major equipment to satisfy the minimum qualification criteria, the respondents had rejected the bid submitted by the two companies. (See Inside)

“Govt. pushing us towards an alternative state”
Colombo District Parliamentarian Mano Ganesan, in a hard-hitting letter addressed to the members of the international community, warned that the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government was pushing him and others towards an alternative state by restricting state protections and privileges only to partners of the government and people of a privileged community.
Ganesan in his letter, sent out on Friday to high commissioners, ambassadors, representatives and members of the international community and United Nations in Sri Lanka, claimed that his security was withdrawn under the instructions of the Defence Ministry.
“We may not be part of the government but we are definitely part of the state. This government does not understand and recognise... (See Inside)

ACHSU to go to court over new circular
The All Ceylon Health Service Union (ACHSU) has decided to initiate legal action against the newly-issued circular by the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry.
The Ministry recently imposed a new set of regulations against all trade unions and its supporters who take part in strikes and other trade union action in hospitals around the country.
Accordingly, the Ministry has ordered all hospital authorities to cut the daily pay of any hospital worker who takes part in trade union action on any particular day.
The new circular issued by Ministry Secretary H.A.P. Kahandaliyanage also emphasises that those who participate in strikes would not be paid their daily wages.
It specifies that the probation period of hospital workers who go on strike will be extended, and indicate that participation in trade... (See Inside)

CPC workers to strike against latest Indian oil...
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employees have threatened to cripple fuel distribution around the country next month to protest against government moves to sell more than 100 filling stations and section of the Kolonnawa oil installation to India’s Bharat Petroleum.
CPC Joint Trade Union Convenor, Ananda Lakshman, told The Nation that the employees will go on a massive strike in early January against the sell-out.
“More than 6000 workers of the CPC will protest against the moves. We are demanding the government to scrap any plans of selling 107 filling stations and section of the Kolonnawa oil installation immediately... (See Inside)





JVP’s double cross games only to help themselves
What do the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have in common? Nothing at all, one might say. But events last week proved that they both hate and fear Ranil Wickremesinghe’s possible advent to power with equal intensity.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected as the fifth Executive President of Sri Lanka on November 17, 2005, Rajapaksa himself is reported to have acknowledged that it was the boycott of the poll in the Northern and Eastern provinces, engineered by the LTTE that helped him to a victory with a wafer thin majority.
Two years later on December 14, 2007, it was the JVP who played a game of political double cross to perfection, preventing Rajapaksa’s parliamentary majority from evaporating, by abstaining at the vote on the third reading of the Budget, where many dissident government members, were waiting to crossover and one-Anura... (See Inside)

Govt. faces new challenges after Budget battle
There is always a Dissanayake that opens his mouth at the eleventh hour and deprives Ranil Wickremesinghe of victory, or so the Green Leader feels.
On the eve of the presidential polls, Navin Dissanayake made a famous statement giving credit for the Karuna defection during the UNF administration. To add salt to the LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s wounds, days before the polls, Government Negotiator Minister Milinda Moragoda apportioned credit to his government for the Karuna defection.
Some UNPers felt these statements angered the LTTE which blocked Tamils from voting and deprived Wickremesinghe of the Presidency.
Wickremesinghe mistakenly believed the LTTE would lift the ban on Tamils in uncleared areas and that they would vote for him at the November 17, 2005 presidential polls.
To truth is the LTTE had wanted to prevent Wickremesinghe winning and perhaps usher in a hawkish President in Mahinda Rajapaksa. That the LTTE calculation backfired is a separate subject for discussion. (See Inside)


Rhetoric and reality – Part II
True to form, LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is harshly critical of the Indian role in Sri Lankan Tamil affairs. He is, however, extremely economical with the truth while criticising India.
Apart from being unwilling or unable to understand India’s compulsions, the Tiger Supremo also omits the negative contribution of the LTTE towards this sad state of affairs.
As stated before in the previous instalment of this article, there is no denying that Indian involvement in Sri Lanka was motivated by its own enlightened self-interest. Though the nature of its role in Sri Lanka has changed over the years, the elementary compulsion of enlightened self-interest still remains.
Indian policy
Indian policy towards Sri Lanka then was based on the twin principles of safeguarding the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka on the one hand and ensuring the rights of the Tamils on the other. Nowadays, it still emphasises the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. There is, however, a sharp change in the other. India is for a just solution acceptable to all sections of the people and not merely the Tamils. (See Inside)

Panjandrums, Paparazzi and Prabhakaran
The talk of the town last week was about Tiger Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran getting whacked by the Air Force in some Kilinochchi suburb!
Escaped death by a hair’s breadth.
Only minor injuries. Disappointing to many.
Tiger – two legs, like the cat with four legs, has nine lives (or more)
Nationally and internationally it was sensational news.
In newspaper jargon, it was one hell of a scoop
All kudos to The Nation for breaking it.
Many people, excited by posters on the walls, went in search of the paper. But The Nation was sold out, they were told.
Some were intrigued about how the scribe in Toronto got all this info. But many had come to accept it anyway.
Two questions
Two questions lingered.
How come the other papers missed it?
Why did the government not announce it?
Lurking at the back of many minds was the perishing thought: ‘‘Is it true?”
“Too good to be true,” said some.
Vishwagupta will first briefly relate developments in sequence.
Tiger mouthpiece TamilNet had reported in... (See Inside)



Cook and rain thwart Sri Lanka
Alastair Cook and the unpredictable Galle weather provided England with a lifeline to escape with a draw in the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.
The first Test played here after the 2004 tsunami had enough drama on the fifth and final day to keep the spectators on edge anticipating a Sri Lankan victory. But Cook, making full use of a dropped catch behind the wicket as early as the second over of the morning at 54, thwarted Sri Lankan hopes of winning the series 2-0 and lifting themselves from fifth place to second in the ICC Test rankings. Sri Lanka eventually had to settle for a 1-0 win in the three-Test series (2 drawn) and be content with third place behind Australia and South Africa. Sri Lanka’s margin of victory in the series did not truly reflect the strength of the two sides.
Cook, who scored England’s solitary century... (See Inside)

A laudable move
Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) plan to commence a five-team provincial tournament is a laudable move in the context that it would make the domestic cricket more competitive and bridge the wide gap that exists between playing for the national team and domestic cricket.
It has been the crying need over the years for a domestic competition of some standard to replace the existing club competition which had served as a basis for selection for many years, but presently has become ineffective in providing a proper guideline for national selection. As a result, players picked to play in the national team have found it hard to establish themselves in it and eventually ended up on the sidelines. Very few have managed to fight back and regain their places, the rest have simply disappeared, either confining themselves to domestic cricket or have been lost to the game.
Gayan Wijekoon, Piyal Wijetunga, Roshan Jurangpathy, Jayantha Silva, Indika de Saram, Lanka de Silva, Chamara Dunusinghe, Indika Gallage, Dinuk Hettiarachchi, Shantha Kalavitigoda, Tharanga Lakshitha, Thilan Thushara, Naveed Nawaz, Sanjeeva Weerasinghe, Gamini Wickremasinghe and Kapila Wijegunawardene are some of the cricketers... (See Inside)


“People will be forced to make more sacrifices”
Constitutional Affairs Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera is perhaps the only southern minister who has strived to implement the official language policy. His dedication to find a solution to the ethnic conflict has propelled the introduction of a bilingual system to the public service. His proposal was accepted by the cabinet in June 2006.
The determined minister has vowed to correct what has gone wrong in the past, especially with regard to the language policy. Today, under his direction, some 7,000 Sinhalese are learning Tamil and more Tamils are beginning to learn Sinhala. “With this, I hope the government will simply implement the 13th Amendment fully. Then we do not need to find any other solutions,” the Minister told The Nation in an interview
Following are excerpts:
Q: Now that the 2008 Budget has been passed, what is the government’s next priority?
In my view, it goes without saying – a political solution to the ethnic conflict. I feel it is the best time to offer a political solution. (See Inside)

“The JVP is carrying two dead bodies”
After failing to defeat the 2008 Budget, the UNP has been quick to point its fingers at the JVP and call its actions “treacherous”. The UNP national organiser S. B Dissanayake has been amongst the most vocal. The Nation met Dissanayake to talk about the future plans of the UNP, his continuous criticism on the JVP and why Mangala and Sripathi were a “let down”
Q: The UNP had high hopes of defeating the Budget and toppling the government. But that didn’t happen. What are the future plans of the UNP?
The UNP has decided that people deserve an election and in order to do that the present government needs to be toppled. But the party as a whole did not come to the conclusion that “We should defeat the Budget and then remove the government from being in power.” But I am not denying that some people have thoughts that we couldn’t defeat the government even if we intended to do so.
Several options are available for the UNP to achieve the aforesaid objective. One is to educate the people about the misdeeds of the government and organise protests like “Janarala”. By doing that, we can influence the parties that support the government and the MPs in the government to listen to the people. The UNP... (See Inside)




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