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Sunday December 30th, 2007

Emirates insists reinstate Hill
The air battle rages on with Emirates last week sending letters to Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera and BOI Chairman Dhammika Perera demanding that SriLankan... (See Inside)

Grave concerns over proposed loan for CEB
Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne has solicited a US$500 million loan from an unknown entity, claiming to salvage the CEB from its present impasse. This move could push the country down a precipice... (See Inside)

Minister blocks implementation of 13th Amendment
A top government minister appears to be blocking government moves to implement the 13th Amendment, (See Inside)


                 Law on whose side?              

Government strongman Mervyn Silva in desperation shields himself with a police cap while being escorted out of the Rupavahini Corporation by Police last Thursday amidst scenes of angry employees demanding an apology after the self claimed King Dutugamunu assaulted the Corporation’s News Director. Journalists now claim that the CID has confiscated video footage of the incident and the employees are being pursued by Police while the controversial Minister and his thugs roam free
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



US Tamil group to take Gota, Basil and Fonseka to courts
A United States based organisation called ‘Tamils for Justice’ has launched a massive fundraising project to de-proscribe the LTTE and to bring to justice the three US citizens holding power in Sri Lanka for allegedly committing gross violations of humanitarian laws, and crimes against Tamils. (See Inside)

Silva’s ‘matinee show’ infuriates Mahinda
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been enraged over Rupavahini telecasting the Mervyn Silva... (See Inside)




Ban Ki-moon slams LTTE, TMVP in new report
The separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and a breakaway group known as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)/Karuna faction continue to abduct children to fight as soldiers in the bloody conflict in Sri Lanka, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report released yesterday.
Covering the period from November 1, 2006 to September 14, 2007, the 20-page report noted, “Both parties have failed to cease the abduction, recruitment and use of children.”
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the TMVP/Karuna faction – which split from the Tamil Tigers and now supports government troops – have also failed to “release all children associated with their forces and engage in transparent procedures for release and verification,” which includes allowing the UN Task Force on monitoring and reporting or full access to military locations under their... (See Inside)

Sack Mervyn
Leading political parties have demanded the immediate sacking of controversial non cabinet Labour Minister Mervyn Silva, after, what they described as, very disgraceful behaviour last Thursday at the Rupavahini Corporation.
United National Party (UNP) spokesman Gayantha Karunatilake yesterday demanded the government to sack Minister Mervyn Silva from his ministerial post after Thursday’s incident, where the Minister was booed and stoned for assaulting the News Director at the State owned TV station.
“The whole country is watching to see whether the President is going to pass it on as another one of Mervyn’s crazy actions or he is going to take action against the Minister. Mervyn assaulted a government official, during office hours, at a government institution in the high security zone. This is not a simple matter,” he said... (See Inside)

Mano flees for safety
Parliamentarian Mano Ganesan has decided to leave the country fearing for his life after the government drastically pruned down his security mid this month.
Ganesan told The Nation that he had decided to ‘temporarily’ leave Sri Lanka within the next few days because he feared that he may be dealt with the same fate that befell TNA MP N. Raviraj.
“I am convinced by these actions, that the stage is set for my assassination,” he charged.
The MP, who is also the convener of the Civil Monitoring Mission, had in a letter, also appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is Minister of Defence, to take steps to re-instate his security. Although the letter was sent mid last week, Ganesan had yet to receive a response to it at the time this edition went to press. (See Inside)

Over 50 billion in tsunami aid missing
A staggering over Rs. 50 billion given as tsunami aid to Sri Lanka has gone ‘missing’, a leading anti-corruption organisation has charged.
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) in a statement issued to commemorate the third anniversary of the tsunami disaster disclosed that a financial analysis carried out by the organisation, revealed a gap between the amounts disbursed by foreign aid agencies and what has been spent on relief and recovery projects since the 2004 tsunami.
“The difference between the disbursed and the expended has been a controversial issue that does not have a credible explanation. While some officials were reluctant to divulge the information, there were some responsible bodies which implied that the funds have been utilized by the government for ‘other’ purposes. There is no precise evidence to explain... (See Inside)

APRC now meeting on Sundays too
The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is scheduled to meet today despite it being a Sunday, amidst reports that the group is hoping to wrap up its meetings, reach a consensus and hand over a report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, before end next month.
Today’s meeting is the sixth for the month, and according to sources, the committee is holding marathon sessions despite it even being the season and meetings were initially temporarily halted due to the third Budget vote mid December and also during the Christmas holidays.
“The chairman of the APRC Prof. Tissa Vitarana, is very adamant that the committee comes out with something positive within the next few weeks,” sources said.
Meanwhile, many of the APRC members have termed plans to send the committee to Northern Ireland and Spain as simply ‘absurd.’ (See Inside)

FM’s Consular Division shift - a public hassle
A fresh controversy has arisen with regard to the shifting of the Consular Division of the Foreign Ministry to a high security zone, The Nation learns.
The Division, located on Galle Road, will be shifted to the BOI building in Fort, with effect from January 2008, Ministry sources said.
“Top officials have failed to consider the public’s side in this matter, and they would definitely have to undergo harassment, when they visit the division in the future, as the BOI building is located in a high security zone,” a Foreign Ministry official told The Nation.
“The decision is impractical. Public places are, usually, not located in high security zones,” the official added.
It is leant that the Ministry’s move was its failure to find any other place to locate the Division. (See Inside)





 An ungainly blob in lawless landscape
When dog bites man, it is not news but when man bites dog it is news, they say. If so, why did Employment Minister Dr. Hewakoparage Mervyn Silva make news last week?
The maverick politician stormed the offices of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation on Thursday and allegedly assaulted the Director of News after which he was virtually held hostage by angry staff of the Corporation before he was compelled to make a delayed retreat under police protection.
But what is new in all this? Nothing, because this is the norm and not the exception for Mervyn Silva. This is the umpteenth time he-or a member of his family-has taken the law into their hands and we daresay this will not be the last.
The difference though on Thursday was two-fold. Firstly, the media institution concerned was state owned and the circumstances were such that it was possible to offer a live telecast of events, leaving no one in doubt as to what transpired. Secondly, Silva was at the receiving end of the wrath of Rupavahini employees, his intended victims, whereas usually it is vice versa.
But now, we have reached the next and most decisive phase and the collective public conscience goes through a now familiar routine: everyone condemns the incident, reams and reams of statements are issued against Silva and newspaper columns... (See Inside)

A controversy has arisen with regard to the short-sighted decision by Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne to obtain a loan of US$ 500 million from an unknown entity, in a bid to relieve the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) from its current financial crisis.
He had stressed that in order to overcome the present financial crisis of the CEB, backup finances were mandatory, especially, to settle short-term debts to the People’s Bank, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and other independent power producers.
However, it is apparent that, in his urgency to settle CEB debts, the Minister had not even weighed up the credibility of the lender of such a colossal amount of money, which could, ultimately, cause the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to fall into a money laundering trap.
The Central Bank, on request by the cabinet, had conducted a thorough investigation into the loan proposal and realised that the Minister, by even considering... (See Inside)


Day of reckoning for Mervyn
Thursday, 27, was an eventful day both locally and internationally. The world was shocked by the death of Benazir Bhutto, but the attention of many Sri Lankans was elsewhere. They were glued to their TVs to see a government minister being booed and stoned in public, at a government institution.
Mervyn Silva, the non cabinet Minister is famous for taking on various media institutions and personnel and coming out on top. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that public humiliation was the last thing on his mind, when he barged into the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and allegedly assaulted the News Director, T.M.G Chandrasekara.
But, before he could whip out his ‘licensed’ pistol, he found himself and his henchman cornered in the Chairman’s room (without AC.). It took all the “king’s men” to take him out of the chamber but, they were not able to save the Minister from the wrath of the SLRC employees, who doused him in paint and pelted him and his vehicle with stones. While most Sri Lankans were unanimous that “Finally, Mervyn got what he deserved,” The Nation went to the SLRC to delve into the matter. (See Inside)

Pakistan’s most potent force for democracy
Watching a hundred thousand people packed into a town square in Lahore shouting, “Jiye Bhutto” is an unforgettable experience.
Only one person in recent times could evoke that kind of mass public emotion in Pakistan, and that was Benazir Bhutto.
Her assassination, probably by an extremist suicide bomber removes that country’s most potent force for democracy, and will have far reaching consequences for Pakistan and the region.
To understand why Benazir was so important we need to try to understand Pakistan, which is a complex country with equally complex politics.
There are four distinct nations in Pakistan; the Punjabis, the Sindhis, the Pashtuns and the Baloch. They are very diverse and live in a vast country that is mostly landlocked. But two important things unite them; Islam and their official language Urdu.
The mere fact that Benazir was able to win elections across this vast and diverse country being a woman in a male-dominated culture, was a near miracle.
There are also different political forces at work in Pakistan which have held power alternately. (See Inside)



Aravinda to assist under 19 World Cup cricketers
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has sought the services of former Sri Lanka ‘great’ Aravinda de Silva to help their batsmen prepare for next year’s under 19 cricket World Cup in Malaysia.
De Silva, 42, told ‘The Nation’ yesterday that SLC had approached him and that he had agreed to help.
“I am prepared to assist any cricketer who needs my help. When Sri Lanka Cricket sought my services I was glad to oblige them,” said De Silva who played for his country for nearly two decades from 1984.
De Silva said he will start with the under 19 squad on January 2 to get an insight into what sort of expertise was needed from him to help the boys.
“I have not seen any of them but when I meet them I will have a fair idea,” he said.
De Silva said that approaches had been made for him to accompany the team to Malaysia but due to private commitments he was unable to do so. He will however assist the team till February 9 before they depart for Malaysia.
De Silva was arguably the greatest batsman produced by Sri Lanka in the post-Test era and was the holder of many batting records till recently when it was surpassed by the present generation of cricketers. His crowning moment was scoring an unbeaten century against Australia at Lahore to steer his team to win the... (See Inside)

There’s no stopping them
All the pre-Test hype of being on par with Australia and even beating them in their own grounds by India fizzled to nothing as they were subjected to a 4-day humiliation at Melbourne where they lost the first Test by a massive margin of 337 runs. The fact that India failed to top 200 in any of their two innings speaks of the dominance Australia had over their opponents.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene whose team preceded the Indians and lost 2-0 to Australia foresaw what his subcontinent rivals will be up against. When he was asked for his views on Australia’s domination of world cricket at the end of the England series he said: “At home they are a formidable attack mainly they got their top seven batsmen averaging over 50 runs and they are pretty solid up there. To get them all out is going to be tough especially in Australia. They are playing some really good cricket. For the rest of the teams it is about trying to be consistent as much as possible and improving as a group of players. You can definitely catch up with them. With the inexperience of their new bowling attack probably teams can catch up Australia away from home.”
The win in Melbourne was Australia’s 15th straight victory in Test matches and Ponting’s men seem unstoppable as they roller-coast their way towards Steve Waugh’s world record of 16 consecutive Test victories.
Why Australia has been such a dominant force in world cricket since 1996 was described by veteran cricket writer and commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins... (See Inside)


Vijitha Herath claims JVP ideology cannot be destroyed
Following are excerpts:
Q: The Indian Prime Minister has said that he will attend the 2008 Independence Day celebrations only if a proposal to solve the ethnic conflict is presented to the President, by the APRC. What do you feel about that demand?
India or any other country does not have the right to tell us how we should settle our internal affairs. No one can tell us how and when we should do this and under what conditions. India or any other country cannot give us deadlines and say we should settle the ethnic conflict before this day. We should not give into such demands. It’s ironical that a foreign Prime Minister is trying to intimidate us on our Independence Day.
Then again, what can you expect from the APRC? It is dead. It is not an All Party Conference anymore, but a collective of the parties supporting the government. Also, the previous reports put forward by the APRC, directly violates the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya.’ That means that these proposals are against the wishes of the people. The President came in to power vouching a unitary state and people did not give power to dissolve power. So we are not impressed with the APRC’s path. It should be dissolved.
Q: Wouldn’t the participation of the Indian premier at our Independence Day celebrations be beneficial to the country?
We have no problems with his arrival. But, his visit is linked to unreasonable demands that are not permissible. What he should do is to strengthen the fight against terrorism and force the LTTE to accept a reasonable solution.
Q: You have continually opposed the proposals put forward by the APRC as a solution to the conflict in the North and East. What is your solution?
The JVP has a clear solution. We have always stood for democracy and equal distribution of economic resources. According to the JVP, the main cause for this... (See Inside)




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