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Sunday March 02nd, 2008

FM silences diplomats
The Foreign Ministry has issued a stern warning to all its foreign missions abroad ordering them to obtain prior permission from Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona before issuing public statements.
The circular, issued late February under Kohona’s signature, banned all Sri Lankan missions... (See Inside)

Anura rushed to ICU
Former Speaker and Minister Anura Bandaranaike was rushed to the Nawaloka... (See Inside)

New bullet-proof BMW for Ranil
The personal security officer of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was in for an unpleasant surprise when he received... (See Inside)


              KEEPING THE FAITH          

In the face of adversity, a mother places holy ash on her daughter’s forehead just minutes after the top portion of their house was blown away on Friday morning in Modera
(Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



Hush-hush Moon letter to Mahinda
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was visibly surprised to receive a sealed letter from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon from a top UN official who was visiting... (See Inside)

India gets tough
India has insisted that there should be meaningful devolution under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
According to informed sources, it has been noted that the concurrent list should be amended... (See Inside)




Attanayake snubs Ahungalla rendezvous
Amidst reports of an internal conflict brewing within the United National Party (UNP), Party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake was a notable absentee during the two-day rendezvous at a five star resort in Ahungalla.
The two-day exercise at the Heritance, Ahungalla, dubbed as an endeavour to discuss strategy on the party’s future course, kicked off on Wednesday and came to a close on Thursday evening, well attended by almost all UNP MPs.
However, the General Secretary had not been in attendance at the sessions, which were chaired by Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. (See Inside)

Top military official takes on defence establishment
The policy of the Defence Ministry has been to get the bulk of the work done by one party and celebrate the victory with others, counsel for Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya told Supreme Court last week.
Counsel Manohara De Silva made these submissions when the court took up the fundamental rights case filed by the Major General. The case came up before Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Nimal Gamini Amaratunga and Jagath Balapatabendi.
Counsel De Silva further submitted that just after the conclusion of the operation, the respondents had transferred his client to Panagoda and requested him to vacate his official quarters at the Summit Flats.
Major General Pannipitiya has cited Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. General G.S.C. Fonseka, Military Secretary Brigadier D.M.D. Alwis, Quarter Master General Major General W.G.M.U.R. Perera, Overall Operational Commander Major General C.M.P. Samarasinghe, Assets Management Director Brigadier R.U. Udawatta, Quartering Director Brigadier K. Fernando and the Attorney General... (See Inside)

Prabha will commit suicide soon, predicts JVP Leader
LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran will soon commit suicide by swallowing the cyanide capsule tied around his neck, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe predicted.
Amarasinghe made the prediction when he met members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.
“LTTE Leader Prabhakaran will soon have to commit suicide by swallowing the cyanide capsule tied around his neck while the LTTE will come to an end without a leader. The people imprisoned in the areas held by the LTTE will soon revolt against him and destroy him. He will have no choice other than to die by swallowing cyanide,” Amarasinghe told the foreign... (See Inside)

CPC to give domestic gas at Rs. 100 less
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), which recently announced plans of re-entering the domestic gas industry, hopes to sell a domestic gas cylinder at Rs. 109 less than the price of a LAUGFS gas cylinder, CPC Finance Manager Lalith Karunaratne said.
The announcement comes in the wake of Shell gas increasing the price of a 12.5 kg domestic cylinder by Rs. 261 and 2.3 kg cylinder by Rs. 48.
“LAUGFS gas procures gas from the CPC at Rs. 134 less than the market price. But their gas cylinder is only Rs. 25 cheaper than Shell. So we have decided to give that profit to the final consumer by giving a gas cylinder at a much lower price,” he said. (See Inside)

LTTE issues warning to NGOs in east
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the Eastern Province have been ordered to suspend all development projects on March 10, the same day on which the Batticaloa local government polls are scheduled to be held.
The warning letter, issued under a LTTE letterhead signed by Keerthi, who identifies himself as the ‘Intelligence Leader of the East,’ has however not spelled out any repercussions in the event the warning is ignored.
The letter also gives a telephone number (SLT CDMA), which has been switched off since Thursday evening.
The warning letter noted that the NGOs, both local and international, have been instrumental in conveying false propaganda in the Eastern Province.
It also accused the NGOs of using thousands of innocent civilians, now living in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), for various clinical trials on drugs.
The letter also accused the organisations of controlling and crippling the funds for ‘Tamil Eelam.’ (See Inside)

Clergyman confesses to transporting weapons
A senior DIG has been dispatched to the Medawachchiya checkpoint to assess the situation and report to the Defence Secretary, after a clergyman confessed to have transported explosives.
A Mannar clergyman confessed recently to have transported explosives and suicide jackets four times through the checkpoint, offering lifts to clergymen and Army personnel in order to avoid suspicion.
Although thorough checks had been carried out nevertheless, detection had failed.
The explosives and suicide jackets had been concealed inside the seats of the vehicle, The Nation learns.
The decision to dispatch the senior DIG was taken at the meeting of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Agencies (CCHA) on February 25 at the Defence, Public Security, Law and Order Ministry,... (See Inside)




UNP-SLFP meeting: No tangible outcome
President Rajapaksa’s position at last week’s meeting was no different: the President observed that a Parliamentary Select Committee was studying matters pertaining to the Constitutional Council, and any action regarding the Council would have to await the Select Committee Report.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe must have had a sense of déjà vu as he went along to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday. It was a similar meeting which resulted in the memorandum of understanding between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which eventually cost Wickremesinghe seventeen members of Parliament.
This time around though, there were only a few pretences. The media were suddenly informed of the meeting, without the customary hype leading to the event. When the cameras rolled before the actual discussion, both sides found it difficult to relax-with the exception of President Rajapaksa who flashed his trademark ear to ear smile. (See Inside)

Playing one against the other
The longstanding dispute between the government and the UNP appears to have ended on a very positive note, after the President and the UNP Leader had a fruitful discussion on Tuesday evening.
The two leaders had, reportedly, discussed matters pertaining to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) meeting and the 13th Amendment.
At least, they appear to have made up for the time being, for a common cause, in order to explore ways and means to implement the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which hitherto, had been in cold storage, due to the short sightedness and lack of will on the part of the politicians.
UNP’s ‘No Show’ at APRC
The discussion between the leaders centred mainly on the main opposition UNP’s re-entry into the APRC.
The UNP, after a few sittings at the commencement of the APRC, withdrew from the APRC on the grounds that the government and its constituent parties should first let the country know their stand on the ethnic question and how they propose... (See Inside)


Mercury rising in the UN glasshouse
Is Angela Kane bringing a cane to Sri Lanka?” was how a website speculated on the eve of the visit by the UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs to Sri Lanka last week.
The senior UN official was in Sri Lanka on a six-day visit from February 20 to 26. The German national joined the UN in 1977 during the time Kurt Waldheim of Austria was Secretary General.
Angela Kane was only the latest in a long line of high-ranking UN officials to visit sunny Sri Lanka in recent times.
Usually, there has been a visible and predictable pattern in the responses from Sri Lankan power corridors to these visits.
Barrage of criticism
While extending all possible assistance and courtesies to facilitate these visits, a barrage of criticism is levelled at these officials over their findings at the end of their trips.
If the visiting personalities are critical of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), it is a case of hurrahs and hosannas.
But if they are even mildly critical of the state or its agencies over particular issues, then woe unto all those dignitaries. From Parliament to sections of the paparazzi, these men and women are condemned and attacked,... (See Inside)

Lies, deceit and scams: The Sajin Vaas story
Every politician in the world needs and has assistants. Their role is simply that: to assist their principal to accomplish various goals – be it political or personal.
But the story of Sajin De Vaas Gunawardena is a phenomenally rare one. For, he has taken the friendship and gratitude of one man and abused that generosity to an extent that the political hierarchy of Sri Lanka is at grave risk.
Sajin Vaas Gunawardena’s story has brought new meaning to the words “embarrassment” and “fraud”.
Sajin Vaas has proved himself to be a habitual phony. His capabilities had much in store for him. Yet, inherently, his nature is that of a confidence trickster. He plans, from the outset, what his goal would be – that, in itself, is no bad thing. However, most successful people plan on their goal being achieved via the opportunities presented to them, opportunities they have created for themselves, in order to achieve the goals they... (See Inside)



Expect potentially explosive finals
Mike Hussey has appealed to his Australian teammates to keep their emotions in check in the potentially explosive opening finals match against India at the SCG on Sunday.
The two sides have been at each other all summer, the bad blood re-surfacing this week in a war of words between Australia’s Matthew Hayden and Indian combatant Harbhajan Singh.
Hayden was reprimanded for calling the spinner an “obnoxious little weed” and the on-going niggle has set the stage for an intriguing clash.
“I think it is important that we don’t let all of the distractions play any part in our mind, if we play on emotion sometimes those distractions can have a detrimental effect on your performance,” Hussey said.
“So it is important that we just concentrate on our plans, our goals and execute our skills as well as possible.
“If we do that, if we can take the emotion out of it, I think we can play our best cricket and it would be great to go 1-0 up in the (best-of-three) series.”
The Australians have become renowned for stepping up when the stakes have been raised in the past decade. They have won the last three World Cups and shown a propensity to psyche out and intimidate opposition teams in the big games. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Double tragedy
Sri Lanka cricket at the moment is going through a rather bad patch with the senior and junior teams failing to qualify for the finals in Australia and Malaysia.
Much was expected of Mahela Jayawardene’s boys in Australia where they were in with a chance of qualifying for the Commonwealth Bank one-day tri-series along with either Australia or India. But a series of inconsistent batting performances put paid to their chances of entering the final. What Jayawardene’s team had to show at the end of eight matches were solitary victories over India and Australia, wins which would have hardly inspired the side because the first was achieved under a reduced number of overs and the second as we already knew before the toss it was a dead rubber because Australia had already qualified for the finals with India. The fact that Sri Lanka failed to last the distance in the majority of their matches getting bowled out for well under fifty overs, is an area where they will have to do a lot of homework on. (See Inside)


Betrayal of Muslims’ right to self-determination – SLMC Leader
The government’s sudden decision to implement the 13th Amendment has definitely irked the Muslim community which opposed the Amendment when it was introduced way back in 1987, as part of the Indo-Lanka Agreement. The Muslims even at that time, said that the Amendment was a ‘betrayal’ of their right to self-determination, and even today they continue to maintain the same stand.
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader and Parliamentarian Rauf Hakeem describing the government’s efforts as a ‘farce,’ further says it is an exercise to hoodwink the international community. Speaking to The Nation, one time cabinet minister Hakeem said the UPFA government was buying time by trying to implement a constitutional provision that was introduced some 20 years ago, to fulfill its disastrous war agenda.
Following are excerpts:
Q: What is the SLMC’s position with regard to the government’s efforts to implement the 13th Amendment in full?
As far as we are concerned we have notified the government that whatever they wish to do here, could only be an interim measure pending a far more progressive and objective scheme of devolution,... (See Inside)

“India introduced separatism to Sri Lanka”- JVP
With the government’s decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in full, as a solution to the ethnic conflict, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has suddenly resumed their raucous criticism of India – bringing to the mind of many, of their anti-India campaign during the late 1980s. Vociferous JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake speaking to The Nation in an interview said it was India that introduced the concept of separatism to Sri Lanka, inciting various segments to resort to separatism. He said, “When the armed forces succeeded with the Vadamarachchi Mission in 1987, India invaded our territories and managed to bring President J.R. Jayewardene to his knees. Then they introduced separatism to the country in terms of the Indo-Lanka Accord.” He also said India does not desire an end to the conflict, won military by Sri Lanka alone, as it might cause the dominance that India holds over us to weaken. And that, he said, is the main reason why India is forcing the government to implement the 13th Amendment at the present juncture. Dissanayake also highlighted the failure of the government to implement an effective economic policy and the lethargy shown with regard to curbing corruption... (See Inside)




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