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Sunday March 16th, 2008

UNP-SLMC marriage for PC polls in east
The country’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) is expected to make a final decision on Tuesday as to whether it will contest the forthcoming Eastern... (See Inside)

Doomsday on Wednesday
In a move that could cripple the economy and bring the country to a virtual standstill, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers... (See Inside)

Hakeem rushes to east as govt. begins poaching
With the impending provincial council election in the east, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa has begun to woo possible high-flying provincial council candidates from both the Sri Lanka Muslim... (See Inside)

Scribes gang up on Dr. Mervyn
Five leading media organisations in the country are planning to file a case against controversial Non Cabinet Minister Dr. Mervyn Silva. (See Inside)


                   A right Royal tune             

A chirpy Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe took on a different role yesterday at the 129th Battle of the Blues between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College, when he was seen singing “hippy hippy hai” in front of hundreds of cricket fans, old boys and even diplomats, at the SSC Grounds
                                   (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



APRC to be sent on foreign jaunt
The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is expected to undertake a study tour to Europe later this month, amidst speculation that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is looking at temporarily suspending the committee. (See Inside)

SL nears MiG-29 purchase
Sri Lanka is in advanced talks with Russia over the procurement of five MiG-29 fighter aircraft, the head of the country’s state-owned procurement agency has said, Jane’s Defence News announced on Friday. (See Inside)

Angry Liyanage to take Mowlana to courts
Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Commissioner Dr. Jayantha Liyanage has decided to take legal action against Western... (See Inside)




CPC strikes!
In a move that could cripple the economy and bring the country to a virtual standstill, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers will launch a general strike on Wednesday, stopping distribution to depots all over the country. CPC Common Service Union General Secretary D.J. Rajakaruna said that the strike would bring the country to a standstill since the discontinuation of fuel would affect transport and electricity production.
“More than 6,000 CPC workers will go on strike on March 19. We will only supply fuel for military purposes. We will stop supplying to sheds and that would mean that transport will come to a halt. It would also severely affect the production of electricity. The whole country will come to a standstill if the Minister does not address our issues swiftly,” Rajakuruna warned.
He added that it was the irresponsible actions of the Minister that had created the problem. The unions have repeatedly asked...  (See Inside)

Planned murder by STF, says victim’s father
When the public inquiry into the killing of five youth in Trincomalee in 2006 commenced before the Special Presidential Commission Investigating Serious Violations of Human Rights on March 13 and 14, Dr. Kasipillai Manoharan gave evidence and appealed to commission to deliver a reasonable judgment on the death of his son, Manoharan Ragihar.
Giving evidence via video conference from abroad at the public inquiry, Dr. Manoharan said that he had no confidence and trust that the Government of Sri Lanka would do justice about the killing.
“Now my son is no more, no one can give me my son. All I want is to have a proper inquiry. Do justice to me,” he pleaded.
Dr. Manoharan, examined by President’s Counsel Ranjith Abeysuriya, charged that the grave crime was committed by the Special Task Force (STF) and that he and his... (See Inside)

Govt. is not rejecting political process: GL
Export Development and International Trade Minister Prof. G L Peiris has assured top European officials that the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) did not imply that the government was rejecting a political process and adopting a military option.
During a meeting in Brussels with European External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and European Commission Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Minister Peiris claimed that the CFA had broken down a long time ago and that the government, in a spirit of candour, was embarking on a realistic strategy.
“One of the main elements of this strategy is to make available to the people of the east immediately, and the north very soon, the benefits of devolution already available in other parts of the country,” he said. (See Inside)

Engineers want CEB Chairman sent home
The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) has requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa to remove CEB Chairman Udaya Kariyawasam immediately.
CEBEU President J. Meegoda told that the request was made via a letter to the President after some 25 top engineers left the CEB and the country as they were unable to work with the Chairman.
“None of the proposals submitted by the engineers had been approved by the Chairman and they were also not allowed to make any decisions to generate electricity. We have so many new proposals but they are left idling on the Chairman’s table without being implemented,” Meegoda said.
The engineers had left the country during the last six months while a few more are also...  (See Inside)

GMOA asks medical consultants to reconsider decision
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has requested Neurosurgeon Dr. Sunil Perera and other consultants to reconsider their decision to leave the country.
GMOA Secretary Anuruddha Padeniya told The Nation that the GMAO made this request considering the plight of the poor patients of the country who cannot go abroad for treatment.
“The loss of consultants like Sunil Perera will be irreplaceable. We have very few consultants in Sri Lanka who are internationally recognised. If they leave, one would have to go abroad for treatment. Many people in the country cannot afford to do so. That’s why we have asked these consultants to reconsider... (See Inside)

Kidnapping is a “normal phenomenon” — FM
Foreign Affairs Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama has said that kidnappings are normal in society and no one should make an undue fuss about such incidents.
He made this statement in reply to a question posed by a journalist at a news conference on Wednesday, when the journalist asked for the Foreign Minister’s comments on the kidnapping of two women, one Sinhala and one Tamil, in Batticaloa on March 10.
Stating that investigations are underway, the Minister said it was unlikely that there would be a link between the kidnapping and the Batticaloa local council elections.
“Kidnapping is something very common and therefore there is no need to fuss about it,” he... (See Inside)




Batticaloa polls — dress rehearsal for real drama
A cartoonist in a national newspaper, reflecting on last week’s local government polls in the Eastern Province, depicted the Thamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) as a trained dog jumping through three rings of fire held by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The dog was through the first ring of local government elections and running towards the second ring, the Provincial Council polls while Rajapaksa had another ring, the General Elections, concealed in his hand.
Indeed, the cartoon captured in essence the government’s strategy in the Eastern Province. Hardly had the ink dried on the election results in the Batticaloa district, Provincial Council polls were announced for the East and scheduled for May 10, less than two months hence. Significantly, it will be the first instance Provincial polls will be held in the region since it was de-merged from the North by a Supreme Court decision. (See Inside)

Eastern elections,UNP and the Attanayake fiasco
The people of Batticaloa braved the polls held for nine local bodies in the area on the 10th of March which marked a departure from gun culture to civilian rule.
It was a rather difficult time for the people. Nevertheless, they braved the stormy period to embrace something better than, the rule of the gun.
The main opposition United National Party called the elections, a manipulation of the government; to hand it over to one terror group after securing it from another. At present, the UNP is embroiled in a controversy over the Eastern elections with the government; they went before the Election Commissioner’s office at Rajagiriya to express their views, regarding the manner, in which the elections were held, in the East. Soon after the protest campaign, a UNP delegation led by General Secretary Tissa Attanayake met the Elections Commissioner, to register their protest. (See Inside)


Assassinating Tamil Parliamentarians:
The unceasing waves

Fifty-one-year-old Kiddinan Sivanesan was the latest in the long line of Tamil Parliamentarians and ex-Parliamentarians to suffer death through assassination.
Sivanesan, a former Cooperative Society Store Manager and trade unionist, was returning home to Mallavi after attending Parliament when a claymore mine exploded. Both the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP and his driver were killed.
It is widely believed that Sivanesan was killed by an assassination squad of the armed forces known as the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP). Defenders of the state have stoutly denied the charge.
The funeral, held in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-controlled region of the northern mainland known as Wanni, was attended by 15 TNA Parliamentarians. A grand funeral ceremony was held.
Paying homage
LTTE Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, who sustained minor injuries in a bombing incident in the Kilinochchi suburb of Jeyanthinagar on November 28, 2007, made a rare appearance and paid his respects. (See Inside)

Pillaiyan, kingmaker in east
The recently concluded local poll in the Batticaloa District has received mixed reactions from various people, organisations and political parties.
For President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government, it was a great triumph when the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) swept through the majority of the local councils at the March 10 local government election.
Reasons for jubilation

There were many reasons for jubilation.
Firstly, the election, contrary to the expectations of many, was conducted in a peaceful manner, except for a few hiccups.
Secondly, law and order was maintained by the Sri Lanka Police.
Thirdly, there were no major reports of rigging, except for a few cases of impersonation in some areas.
Furthermore, the LTTE too did not launch any attacks aimed at disrupting the election.
Visitors from Colombo, including a team of journalists that visited Batticaloa on the invitation of the National Peace Council (NPC), did not spot unruly behaviour by supporters of political parties in any part of the district.
The atmosphere was completely conducive for an election with the TMVP cadres behaving like democrats. It was incredible but that was the ground situation.
However, while the even the TMVP’s conduct was considered exemplary, the behaviour of some of government ministers was deplorable and deserved condemnation. (See Inside)



Schools rugby kicks off
The schools rugby season 2008 will kick off on April 21 with the commencement of the league tournament. It will run till June 22 where nine teams will lock horns for this year’s segment ‘A’ championship. The main sponsor will be Singer Sri Lanka for this season also.
Each segment will comprise nine teams and the tournament will run for ten weeks. According to the secretary of the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Association, Indunil Rohitha, the schedule was made without clashing with the rest of the traditional fixtures that are being played amongst the colleges.
The Sevens tournament will get under way on the first weekend of next month. Though the venues haven’t been fixed yet, Rohitha said that the Royal Complex will be their first choice for the tournament. The knockout tournament will be worked off from June 29 to July 12.
The secretary also said that they have made arrangements to hold the presentation ceremony for last year’s tournamment on March 28.
Following last season’s performance Wesley, Ananda and Thurstan have been demoted to Segment two while Vidyartha... (See Inside)

Point Blank
Country before self
It was only last weekend, in this column we called for the national cricket selectors to get down to brass tacks and review what sort of composition Sri Lanka would need for the 2011 World Cup which will be held in the subcontinent.
To quote we said: “Bold decisions need to be made if the national selectors have the country’s cricket future at heart. However reputed a cricketer maybe if the selectors feel that he has become a spent force he must be replaced with youth so that by the time the World Cup comes the replacements will have got the much needed experience and the mental toughness to tackle any situation.”
It seems the message had finally got through to the selection committee that for the three ODIs against West Indies in the Caribbean they have taken some tough decisions for which they should be commended.
The omission of opener Sanath Jayasuriya was the major change the selectors brought about despite the fact that they also rested champion bowler Muthiah Muralitharan and gave his place to an uncapped young spinner Ajantha Mendis. Although for some it came as a bitter pill to swallow, the writing had been on the wall for the master blaster who’s batting, with age, had been on the wane since that great series he... (See Inside)


“Batti polls were held to bestow political legitimacy on TMVP”
TNA Parliamentarian and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) Leader N. Srikantha is of the opinion that the killing of TNA MPs was a strong message sent to the party by the government. He asserted that it was a strategy to suppress the party in its fight for self - determination.
Speaking to The Nation, he affirmed that the TNA would continue to function in the future even if members were killed. He further said that though the TNA abstained from contesting the local polls in Batticaloa on March 10, the party would however seriously consider contesting the proposed provincial council election and prove its strength.
Following are excerpts:
Q: As violence in the country continues to escalate, TNA MPs are also being assassinated. What does this indicate?
Our perception that the TNA is under continuous attack by the security apparatus of the government and by extension the government itself has again been reinforced by the latest killing of another Member of Parliament of the TNA. (See Inside)

“There is no move to take defectors back”  – Rukman
Internal affairs of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) have come to the fore since of late, especially, with allegations of moves to oust the Party’s General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake. Party Chairman, Rukman Senanayake, the lone representative of the Senanayake dynasty, within the hierarchy of the UNP, refuted such allegations, claiming it as pure imaginings. In an interview with The Nation, he spoke of the role of the Chairman and the plans to revamp the party, while adding that the party has to work towards attracting people with diverse views, in order to expand the voter base of the party. He also denied charges that, at least a couple of times, he made moves to leave the party, along with the other defectors.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: After the death of Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake in 1973, you were brought in to fill the void in the Senanayake dynasty, by President J.R. Jayewardene (JR) getting you to contest the famous Dedigama seat and, having won that election, you entered Parliament. After your rebellion against JR, you were sacked from the UNP, and had to form your own party. If not for this incident, don’t you think you would be leading the UNP from long time ago? (See Inside)




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