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Sunday March 09th, 2008

SAARC Summit shifted
In an outright embarrassing move, the Sri Lankan Government has decided to shift the forthcoming SAARC Summit to Colombo from the historic city of Kandy, mainly owing to security concerns and lack of infrastructure... (See Inside)

SLMC cries foul over MR’s election tactics
Nearly 8,000 Police personnel have been deployed for tomorrow’s local government polls in Batticaloa.
Batticaloa Elections DIG H.M.D Nawarathne told The Nation that 6,000 Police... (See Inside)

Moves to oust Attanayake
Trouble is brewing within the main opposition United National Party (UNP) following attempts by several individuals to oust UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.
According to informed party sources, Party... (See Inside)


          From the mouths of babes...       

JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe appears to be intently listening to a little girl, probably a future leader, at yesterday’s JVP-led ceremony held to mark International Women’s Day at the Town Hall. The little girl capturing his attention is Parliamentarian Bimal Ratnayake’s daughter
(Pic by Nissanka Wijerathne)



Iranian President here in April
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected in Sri Lanka next month.
It is, however, likely to be marred by controversy with senior Foreign Ministry officials anxious over Ahmadinejad’s proposed... (See Inside)

Top medical consultants to leave country
World-renowned Neuro Surgeon Sunil Perera and five other well-known specialists are likely to leave Sri Lanka owing to alleged harassment they have to endure... (See Inside)

Mahinda defends Lanka
Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister ... (See Inside)




Sampath Bank employees report suspicious transaction
Sampath Bank Employees’ Association in a letter signed by its President Sujith Abeyratne has recently brought to the notice of the Central Bank, an outward remittance amounting to US$ 7 million made by the Bank’s Foreign Currency Banking Unit, as a suspicious transaction.
In the letter addressed to the Central Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit Director, the Association has pointed out that the remittance has been hurriedly done by overdrawing a foreign currency account, which has been opened only a few days earlier, even without an initial deposit.
They allege that the account has been opened against photocopies of essential documents, without even verifying these documents against the originals, contrary to the normal banking practice, and the funds have been sent to a Swiss bank account. (See Inside)

‘Sick’ principals to be transferred
Several principals in the North Western Province are to be transferred as punishment for participating in the teachers’ sick leave strike on March 4, in protest against the government’s failure to settle their salary anomalies.
“North Western Province Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe has ordered the provincial education director to transfer the principals of the schools where the strike was 100% successful,” Ceylon Teachers’ Services Union General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Nation.
“This particularly applies to several principals in the Kurunegala District who were political appointees. Keeping them was perceived as being useless since they failed to make at least one teacher report to work on Tuesday,” Jayasinghe added.
Many incidents... (See Inside)

‘Best Traffic OIC’ abruptly transferred to Matale
The winner of last year’s ‘Best Traffic OIC’ Award, Kandy Traffic OIC Inspector Ananda Dharmapala, has been transferred to Matale Police Station, without any valid reason.
“With effect from January 15, I was transferred to Kegalle Police along with my Deputy, SI Herath. Then from January 20, I was transferred to Matale Police,” Dharmapala explained.
He suspected malicious intent behind his transfer out of Kandy, where he was involved in further strengthening the city traffic plan.
“I was not even transferred to the Traffic Division. Now I’m with the Special Crimes Investigation Bureau (SCIB). When I was first transferred to Kegalle they informed me that it was by mistake and then the transfer to Matale was given,” the Inspector added.
Dharmapala won the coveted award as a result... (See Inside)

Ranil offers help to implement ICCPR
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has offered to help the government to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) fully within Sri Lanka.
According to informed sources the ICCPR had not been fully implemented in Sri Lanka and the opposition UNP had offered to help the government in effecting necessary Constitutional amendments.
The opposition UNP is of the view that the implementation of the ICCPR needs a Constitutional amendment and it is prepared to help the government to achieve this in a bid to save the GSP+.
It has been reported that the European Union (EU) had insisted that Sri Lanka conforms to 25 protocols it has signed if the EU were to extend the GSP+, which lapses... (See Inside)

Abductors wanted to silence me politically...
Former Deputy Minister and Member of Parliament Jayasundara Wijekoon, who appeared after being abducted on March 4, from his Buttala residence, said that the motive of his abduction was to politically silence him.
He had been released on Friday night at Arawwala, Maharagama by his abductors. He had then lodged a complaint at the Maharagama Police following his release. Later he was admitted to the Kalubowila Hospital and was discharged yesterday morning.
Wijekoon told The Nation that he was abducted by three armed persons who wore black.
Recalling his abduction, the former minister said that on March 4 some person, pretending to be his brother, had knocked on the door. Wijekoon had opened the door without any suspicions. The abductors had then entered into his house forcefully. (See Inside)

President finds flaws in CMC commission report
Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray has appointed yet another commission to probe allegations against the officials of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) arising from the report submitted by the Chandradasa Nanayakkkara Commission.
Cooray had appointed a second commission without making a mandatory ruling on the first report as to whether he was accepting it or not.
According to government sources, if the report is accepted, Cooray has no option but to dissolve the council.
The Chandradasa Nanayakkara Commission, which probed the allegations against the CMC, had found that nine out of the 11 allegations levelled against it had been proved beyond reasonable... (See Inside)




A gamble MR can’t afford to lose
Tomorrow will see local government elections in Batticaloa, in what has become a controversial move by the government to re-assert its authority in the Eastern Province. The Mahinda Rajapaksa regime claims it is a watershed in the struggle against separatism and terrorism-and its detractors say it is a sham poll designed to hoodwink both the people of the Eastern Province and the international community.
The President, it will be recalled, rode to power in late 2005 on a nationalist platform. His allies were the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), who were more vocal than his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in their cry for a unitary state, as opposed to the united Sri Lanka proposed by the United National Party (UNP).
Rajapaksa won due to a curious combination of reasons: the JVP and JHU sold the story that the UNP would hand a separate state to Velupillai Prabhakaran on a platter: Ranil Wickremasinghe was a poor campaigner, his united Sri Lanka concept was not marketed properly: and last but not the least, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil... (See Inside)

A tale of two wars
Sri Lankan politics has been in turmoil for some time now, especially, after Mahinda Rajapaksa ascended the highest pedestal of his political career, the Presidency.
This is because the Rajapaksa regime decided to pursue a military strategy instead of a political solution to deal with the LTTE.
Earlier too, personalities who ascended the Presidency, tried the military option, but, later, realised that the country’s economy couldn’t sustain such an option, because crushing LTTE terrorism could be a long drawn exercise.
All out war
Nevertheless, the Rajapaksa regime decided to take on the LTTE, in a bid to crush terrorist activities that plagued the country for nearly two-and-a-half decades. The first leg of the anti LTTE campaign was successfully completed, after government troops captured the east, including the Thoppigala jungles, from where the LTTE operated in the east for a long period.
The UNP too, cleared the east, and held local government elections under President D.B. Wijetunge, but the UNP’s propaganda... (See Inside)


Muslim militancy rears its head in the east
In a worrisome development, amid violence and threats in the east, there are confirmed reports that say Muslim extremists are abandoning their previously quiet lifestyle for armed resistance.
Several attempts by a few Muslim leaders in the east to conceal this fact has failed as the extremists, mostly youth, who have been ignored by society, are insistent on carrying arms and fighting for their lost rights.
It is known that the creation of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) itself was in order to prevent Muslim youth from embracing arms. This is a clear indication that the Muslim youth have been longing to embrace militancy, similar to Tamil militancy, with a view to protecting their interests.
The majority of Sri Lanka’s 1.3 million Muslims live in the east and a section of the community has been overtly exerting pressure on Muslim politicians and leaders to deal... (See Inside)

Cabinet fiddles while headless IRS burns
The central nervous system of the country’s economy, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), is in crisis, for want of a Commissioner General (CG).
With the retirement of former CG A.A. Wijepala, last Friday, the Dept. is now headless, and its activities at a standstill, in consequence.
“According to the Inland Revenue Act, the Dept. cannot function under an acting CG. There has to be a permanent CG, at all times,” IRD, Staff Officers’ Association President M.P.S. Abeyratne said.
The senior assessor further pointed out that, although the CG has the authority to delegate powers to officers under him, it does not warrant the delay in appointing a permanent CG.
“Ideally, since the retirement date of an incumbent CG is clearly set – upon reaching the 60th birthday – his successor should be nominated at least a month prior to retirement,”... (See Inside)



Joes annihilate Petes
In the 74th ‘Battle of the Saints’ St. Joseph’s cricketers produced a superb team effort to beat their arch-rivals St. Peter’s by an innings and 42 runs at the P. Sara Stadium yesterday. The Josephians managed to break the hoodoo to take the Rev. Maurice Legoc Trophy after 35 long years. St. Joseph’s last won under Rohan Fernando in 1972. Before the stalemate St. Peter’s registered their last win under Suraj Abeysekara in 1978.
Put in to bat first the Peterites were driven to the depths of despair by Thisara Perera’s terrifying pace on the opening day of the annual encounter. Perera took the scalps of five St. Peter’s top and middle-order batsmen conceding only 39 runs. Skipper Anuk Silva, who looked dangerous, was bowled and sent back to the pavilion by Perera after having stroked 40 which was the top score for the Peterites. Eventually they were bowled out for a paltry 137 inside 46 overs. St. Joseph’s batting in their first essay made things even worse as they frustrated the Peterite bowlers who were hunting for wickets. Roshen Silva stroked a brilliant 66 while Shameera Weerasinghe composed a solid 55. Dimuth Karunaratne (48) and Hareen Silva (32) added the extra topping to enable the Joes to be in a commanding position with a total of 255 at end of the first day’s play. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Getting down to brass tacks
The time is right to get down to brass tacks and review what sort of composition Sri Lanka would require for the 2011 World Cup. Instead of dilly-dallying with team selections and wasting precious time the national selectors need to sit down with the captain and decide the composition of players who will be best suited to serve them for the future because there are a few question marks hanging over the careers of a few senior players.
Whether these players will be available to represent their country and play their best cricket at the World Cup is a question the national selectors will have to decide right now and take appropriate steps. We don’t want a situation where senior cricketers decide to quit the game closer to the World Cup which would be unfair on the players replacing them. That is why it is imperative that the national selectors have a one-to-one chat with some of the senior players and get an idea of what their future plans are rather than leave it... (See Inside)


“India helps us contain terrorism” – Basil
Presidential sibling cum Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa, in an interview with The Nation, defended the government’s stand on India, a matter which has come to the fore, with the decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in full. Whereas, the government’s former ally, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), has initiated a diatribe against India, Rajapaksa believes that India has a right to take an interest in Sri Lankan affairs. He also defended the allegations against the government’s human rights record, saying abductions are a universal phenomenon
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has labelled Sri Lanka as one of the countries in the world, with the worst record of forced disappearances. This is likely to come up in international forums such as the EU and the UN Human Rights Council. How does the government intend to face this situation?
A: I don’t think the government should respond to all these things that appear on the internet. Most of these organisations have not even visited this country. They don’t talk about violations in their own countries. If you go to a website and see how many people are lost in New York City on a day, I think it is more than the population of Sri Lanka. Recently, a child... (See Inside)

Muslims have never clamoured for regional power – Naushad
Only a few are chosen as power players to mould and make political parties from behind the screen in politics. They may not be popular in politics but certainly make others popular through their skills and expertise. One such person who has been active in the Sri Lankan politics is A. M. M. Naushad, son of former Member of Parliament (MP) for Ninthavur M. I. M. Majeed and son - in - law of also former MP for Ampara M. A. Abdul Majeed. He is today the UNP’s convener for Eastern Province and Chairman of the Eastern province Political Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the UNP’s working committee.
Naushad who was one time a High Command member of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) says if the TMVP was not armed today, the UNP would have participated at tomorrow’s election in Batticaloa. Accusing the TMVP’s alliance with the government, Naushad told The Nation that the non participation of the UNP at tomorrow’s election... (See Inside)




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