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Sunday February 10th, 2008

‘Sri’ no more
Exactly one year to the day he was sacked from his ministerial portfolio by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, SLFP dissident... (See Inside)

Tender muddle in south harbour
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) is determined to award the Colombo South Port... (See Inside)

Child soldiers off to UN
The United Nations Security Council is scheduled... (See Inside)



The jeep in which Sooriyaarachchi was travelling skidded off on the Kurunegala-Anuradhapura Road and crashed headlong into a tree


Handunnetti saga ‘leak’ to flee
In a new twist to the saga surrounding Janatha... (See Inside)

Clinton campaign drops pro-LTTE contributors
Last week US presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham... (See Inside)




Unions request President to save CPC
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s Joint Union Alliance has sent a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, making an appeal to him to save the institution from near shutdown.
In the letter addressed to the President, the union had requested the President not to extend the leasing period of the Lubricant Refinery, which is under Caltex Lanka Ltd.
According to Common Service Union Secretary D.J. Rajakaruna, if the CPC is given back the refinery once the lease period ends, it would enable the corporation to improve its gross revenue.
“We also have requested the government not to extend the lease period to Caltex, which is scheduled to end this year. Instead, the government should re-possess the refinery, which would enable CPC... (See Inside)

Heerimutugoda resigns following Presidential order
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has demanded the immediate resignation of Land Reform Commission Chairman Lakshman Heerimutugoda.
A highly-placed official attached to the Land and Land Development Ministry, who spoke to The Nation on grounds of anonymity, said that Heerimutugoda had tendered his resignation last Tuesday following the Presidential order.
Meanwhile, State Timber Corporation Chairman S.A. Premaratne too has resigned from his position last week.
Chandana Haputhanthri has been appointed as the new chairman of the State... (See Inside)

Over 200 LTTE bunkers in north
While the military has destroyed a considerable number of LTTE bunkers in the north to date, there are nearly 200 LTTE bunkers in all in the northern districts at present.
Speaking to The Nation, Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the LTTE has bunkers situated every 10 metres or so in the north and that it changes bunker positions from time to time.
“So far no bunker has been captured by the security forces, although the forces have destroyed many of them. At the moment we are in the LTTE Forward Defence Line (FDL), which we captured in 2006. Since then the military has not gone any further. The LTTE has the ability to reconstruct the bunkers even when the forces destroy them,” Brigadier Nanayakkara... (See Inside)

Fast-track Rs. 500 mn. fraud inquiry
The All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU) wants the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) to fast-track the investigation into the alleged Rs. 500 million fraud by high-ranking officials of the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry.
ACHSU Deputy Secretary Gamini Kumarasinghe told The Nation that it has already been three months since the day when union members were questioned but Health and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Ministry Secretary Dr. H.A.P. Kahandaliyanage and other concerned officials are yet to be questioned by the commission.
Meanwhile, the CIABOC Investigation Director Neville Guruge told The Nation that they had to go through the complaints since they were serious issues. He said the commission would not be able to settle... (See Inside)

Sri Lankan Army team on secret mission in India
PUNE: A high-level team of officers from the Sri Lanka Military Intelligence Corps (MIC) and Army were brought stealthily into Pune five days ago for advanced intelligence training at Indian Army’s various high-security institutions here.
The initial phase of the training at the National Defence Academy (NDA) got over on Friday. The team is expected to be briefed on advanced electronic warfare, command, control, communications and computer intelligence at the Military Intelligence Training School and Depot (MITSD), the only institution of the Indian Army which imparts training in all aspects of intelligence.
The secret visit comes as a precursor to the setting up of an intelligence training school in Sri Lanka, which has been battling the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels for 25 years.
The visit assumes added significance in the backdrop of recent statements by Chief... (See Inside)

Weerawila Airport project hits environmental snag
The construction of the Weerawila International Airport suffered yet another setback when the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) appointed by the Central Environment Authority (CEA) requested the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to conduct further research and include additional information to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
“The TEC met on February 7 to evaluate the EIA, especially the public comments, and the members thought that the EIA was grossly inadequate. Therefore they asked the CAA to conduct further research,” CEA Chairman Udaya Gammanpila said.
He added that the CEA would reconsider the matter... (See Inside)




Loosening the claws of the Tiger!
There was a sense of déjà vu when Sri Lanka celebrated its diamond jubilee of independence last week: the threat of attacks from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was looming large. It was so ten years ago when the country celebrated its golden jubilee of independence as well, with the Tiger terrorists having bombed the Dalada Maligawa a few days earlier.
The Tigers and the government may still be at war but with several regime changes in Colombo, a ceasefire and a decade later the odds are stacked differently. This is no war of attrition where the LTTE is content to stage an attack and then lie low; Eelam War IV is embarking on a relentless course.
The days before and after the celebrations were marred by a string of attacks - bus bombs at Dambulla and Weli Oya and the bomb attack at the Fort Railway station, all ‘soft’ targets of relatively unprotected civilians. (See Inside)

Indiscriminate violence, constitutional process stifled, ICES Rama removed!
As Sri Lanka celebrated its diamond jubilee of independence last week the separatist LTTE unleashed a cycle of violence in which at least fifty people were killed and an equal number maimed.
The ruthless LTTE also killed seven school children in their terror campaign perpetrated against the civilian population in the South, aimed at diverting the government’s attention from the Northern war theatre.
Violence coupled with terrorism knew no boundaries as to where they should strike and when, it has no discrimination whatsoever but the senseless killer machines - ruthless terrorists take a toll every day regardless of whom they are attacking.
Whether it happens in the South or in the North, there should be a strong public outcry against targeting civilians who, at most of the time, have no connection or nothing to do with the on going war in the North. (See Inside)


The aftermath of the APRC debacle
Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was unseated as MP for the Lok Sabha constituency of Rae Bareilly in 1975, when courts ruled in favour of an election petition filed by her chief opponent, Raj Narain. In a controversial move, she declared Emergency rule and jailed her political rivals in the opposition.
Censorship was imposed. But to the eternal shame of India’s fourth estate, the media fell in line meekly. Only a few honourable exceptions like press baron Ramnath Goenga and “Cho” Ramaswamy – maverick Editor of Thuglak – displayed some resistance to the clamping down of media censorship.
The Indian media’s servility during Emergency came in for severe criticism later. One comment that aptly summed up the surrender was, “The Indian media was only required to stoop, but instead they chose to grovel.” This pithy comment was applicable to a pathetic event in Sri Lanka on January 23. (See Inside)

When life freezes as threats loom
When the new year dawned on January 1, it did not bring blessings for a joyous year. Instead, it marked an ominous beginning to an already volatile situation. The bloodbath that the country was drowned in that day has not yet subsided, and the threat of an imminent suicide attack seems to be the most important factor controlling civilian life.
One of the main causes of fear among the people today, is the unpredictability and random nature of the attacks by suicide bombers.
What are the long term repercussions on the public as a whole, of this pervasive condition of insecurity? Will it lead to a total breakdown of social order? Can we ever recover from the sense of continuing volatility in the society?
The Nation sought experts’ opinion…
Insecurity seems to be the most pervasive feeling in the mindset of the Sri Lankan public in general at present. As the imminent threat of a bomb attack has incapacitated a great number of people, especially within the Colombo city, the routine life of the citizens has been suspended. (See Inside)



Lankans ponder Aussie dominance
Sri Lanka were the second best side at last year’s World Cup but captain Mahela Jayawardene has admitted that a continuing inability to beat Australia is becoming a major concern.
On Friday, in the first one-day clash between the sides since Australia won the World Cup final last April, the home side once again proved too good, winning their tri-series match by 128 runs after bowling the Sri Lankans out for a paltry 125 in just 31.3 overs.
The Aussies have now won their last five one-day matches against Sri Lanka, and seven of their last eight clashes.
Star wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara raised his game, averaging 10 more with the bat against the world champions in one-day cricket than his career average, and did so again with a sparkling 42 on Friday.
But it was a solo effort. Sangakkara’s teammates couldn’t handle relentless Australian pressure, losing their last eight wickets for just 68 runs in a spectacular collapse. (See Inside)

Point Blank
ICC under pressure from advanced technology
Day by day cricket’s world governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) is coming under the microscope and put under severe pressure by the incidents that are taking place on the cricket field.
The latest incident to catch world focus is the 10 percent fine slapped on Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe for showing dissent when he was ruled out caught behind by South African umpire Rudi Koertzen when his bat had not even touched the ball. Sharma’s offence in the Commonwealth Bank Series match against Sri Lanka at Brisbane was that he stood his ground without walking away when the umpire gave the decision.
To slap a fine on the batsmen for a wrong decision given by the umpire is simply just not cricket. Sharma could have been stunned by the decision which made him pause for more than the time the match referee thought he should have and decided to rule it as dissent. Whichever way one looks at it, the decision to fine him was a harsh one - first to be ruled out caught when he had not nicked the ball and secondly, to be fined... (See Inside)


583 mn. per day for war – Ravi KK UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake has taken the UPFA government led by President Mahinda Rajapakse, by its horns. He reveals that the government spends Rs. 583 million every day on the war. This works out to Rs.25 million every hour and Rs. 420,000 every minute. He argues that there has not been a return for the expenses that have been incurred to wage the present war. In an interview with The Nation he lambasted the JVP and JHU which promised to ‘check and balance’ the government, adding that these two parties were today only singing the same chorus, joining the UPFA.
“We are going through bad times. But the UNP will do what is possible. We can’t do everything but can do something. Because we can’t do everything we will not refuse to do something we can do. What we can do we should do and what we should do, by the grace of God we will do,” the Parliamentarian added.
Following are excerpts.
Q: What is your assessment of the present situation?
I would say it is pathetic. In the spheres... (See Inside)

“War + 13th Amendment = LTTE’s demise”
SLFP stalwart, Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne says that, though the SLFP was opposed to the 13th Amendment at that time, it had later changed its mind to embrace it. He says the SLFP that found the 13th Amendment to be effective, contested the provincial council (PC) elections and made use of the machinery to provide infrastructure and social benefits to the respective areas and the people within them.
“From about 1993, the SLFP has been wedded to the PCs and has been promoting this system, in spite of certain monitory and administrative shortcomings that the system has proved,” he told The Nation in an interview. The Minister said that it was an appropriate time to implement the 13th Amendment, while at the same time to prosecute the war, thereby, crushing the LTTE. He also said that though the expenditure to fight the war was too big, there was no other option but to go ahead.
Following are excerpts;
Q: How do you assess the present situation?
The present situation is crucial because there is a war, scheduled to be completed... (See Inside)




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