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Sunday March 23rd, 2008

Lankan HR Action Plan before UN
Sri Lanka has formulated a National Action Plan on human rights to be presented to the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday (25).
The OHCHR is scheduled to publish the Action... (See Inside)

JVP to introduce new Bill
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is planning to introduce a new Bill to Parliament to counter irregularities when recruiting personnel into government service. (See Inside)

US concerned over Lanka’s ‘anti US axis’
The United States has clearly indicated that it has serious concerns over Sri Lankan Government’s growing ties and diplomatic relations with anti-US axis, with countries like China, Iran and Russia.
It is learnt that the US State Department has already... (See Inside)


 We wish our readers a Happy Easter!

Christians world over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ today. The picture shows children at the feet of Jesus’ statue at All Saint’s Church, Borella

                                (Pic by Ishara S Kodikara)



AG’s Dept. official posted to Washington
The government is likely to attach a senior officer from the Attorney General’s Department to Sri Lankan mission in Washington shortly, to be in charge of political affairs.
Informed sources told The Nation that the officer will be of the level of Minister Counsellor. (See Inside)

SLMC to go it alone
The majority of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) district organisers have expressed their disapproval against the Congress joining the government to contest the forthcoming provincial council election, The Nation learns.
The SLMC leadership met with all the district... (See Inside)




LTTE sinks Navy boat
The locally built Fast Attack Craft (FAC), P438 of the Navy was damaged and sunk due to suspected sea mine explosion yesterday at around 2:25 a.m., while it was patrolling the northeast coastal waters of Nayaru, off Mullativu.
Navy Spokesman D.K.P Dassanayake confirmed that two locally built FACs of the Navy had been patrolling the particular sea area and one had been sunk due to an explosion.Commander Dassanayake suspected that the mine had been set under water or the blast was caused due to some underwater device fixed by the LTTE, since there was no presence of LTTE boats in the vicinity at the time of the incident. It is reported that the boat’s hull had been damaged due to the blast and had sunk immediately.
According to Navy sources, six out of the total 16 crew members who were on the craft have been rescued, including the officer in charge. (See Inside)

GL meets Lord Malloch-Brown
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, welcomed the initiatives taken by the Sri Lankan Government to hold polls in the east, and said he looked forward to a continuing engagement with Sri Lanka on the political process and matters connected with the GSP+ arrangements.
Lord Malloch-Brown made this observation when he met Prof. G.L. Peiris Export Development and International Trade Minister, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Thursday,.
Prof. Peiris, met with Lord Malloch-Brown, for a wide-ranging discussion about trade issues and political developments in Sri Lanka.
Minister Peiris briefed Lord Malloch-Brown about the completion of local government elections in the Eastern Province, and the implications of this development, from the standpoint of the revival... (See Inside)

Foreign Ministry takes on ICRC
The Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry has stated that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is helping forces that wish to tarnish the country’s image internationally.
A press release issued by the Foreign Ministry referred to the recent ICRC statement that condemned the government for disclosing confidential information as “unfortunate.”
“It is extremely unfortunate that wittingly or unwittingly the ICRC, through its statement, lends credence to those who seek to give Sri Lanka a bad name in public and thereby sustain the agendas of the detractors of Sri Lanka’s good name,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The Ministry added that it stands by the statement that there has been a “marked improvement” in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka... (See Inside)

Unions oppose moves to privatise CEB
The Trade Union Alliance (TUA) attached to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has alleged that the government, in a subtle way, was trying to privatise the board thus ending the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the CEB.
Condemning the proposed Electricity Draft Bill, the TUA has said that the regulation to transmit, generate and to distribute electricity with the sanction/licence from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) was a move to end the CEB monopoly.
TUA Convenor Ananda Nimalaratne told The Nation that they oppose the proposed Bill as it would end the monopoly of the CEB and would enable private competitors to enter the electricity sector. (See Inside)

 ‘Trials and tribulations within the UNP’
The General Secretary of the UNP has sent The Nation a letter clarifying his position, while referring to two articles published in The Nation of Sunday March 2 and Sunday March 9.
In a bid to avoid any embarrassment to the General Secretary, The Nation sought clarification from him, before publishing his letter, as he has indicated that The Nation should carry his letter in full. The newspaper appends his letter, and the letter written by the Editor of this newspaper,... (See Inside)

Journalist’s wife threatened
After the arrest of journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, it is now learnt that his wife has received several threats. The sources close to the family suspected that the threats emanated from government agencies.
“A fundamental rights (FR) case has been filed at the Supreme Court against the arrests of Tissainayagam and three other journalists. Three other journalists, who were arrested with him were released, but Tissainayagam is yet to be released. We believe this is intimidation. They have even tried to intimidate the wife of Tissainayagam by making several phone calls and threatening her,” sources revealed.
Meanwhile, The Free Media Movement (FMM) also said that it is planning to launch a protest campaign demanding the release...  (See Inside)




Anura: A caricature of greatness
Last week saw the passing away of two distinguished citizens of Sri Lanka: one a visionary who made the country his home and achieved more than most men, and the other, a man expected to achieve more than he ever did.
If Arthur C. Clarke bid adieu in the fullness of time, Anura Bandaranaike’s farewell was, despite his prolonged illness, rather catastrophic. It is on the latter that we wish to dwell.
Appreciations and evaluations about Anura Bandaranaike’s contribution to contemporary politics in Sri Lanka will flow freely. That befits a man who could have been a colossus in the political arena yet remained only a caricature of greatness. Instead, we aim to explore that unasked question, after Anura, what next?
Anura Bandaranaike was, at the time of his death, just a Member of Parliament and no one – probably including he himself – was quite sure whether he was a government MP or an... (See Inside)

UNP, government look for allies as east is gripped with election fever
The focus today is on the imminent Provincial Council (PC) elections for the de-merged east.
The east was de-merged from the north after the JVP petitioned the Supreme Court to look into the legality of the merged north and east, which was done under Emergency by former President J.R. Jayewardene in 1987.
The Supreme Court, which went into the issue, found that the linking of the north and east was technically flawed.
De-linking the north east
After the 1987 July Indo-Lanka Accord, President Jayewardene merged the north and the east temporarily for one year and included a provision in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that a referendum should be held in the east after one year, where the people of the east would be given an opportunity to decide whether they should remain as one province or separate. (See Inside)


The ‘illegitimate’ appointment of the north east governor
Provincial Council (PC) elections for the Eastern Province are scheduled for May 10 this year.
According to the Gazette notification on March 13, nominations for eastern PC polls will be accepted from March 23 to April 3. It appears that the eastern PC stakes would attract more political parties than the recently concluded local authority polls for Batticaloa District.
With the spotlight focused solely on the east, the north is being neglected in the current scheme of things.
Fernando’s ‘spoiler’
When the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) changed direction by shamelessly surrendering to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s diktat and presented the President’s directives as APRC recommendations, some mention was also made of the north.
It was said then that the north too would get its own elected PC when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation was dislodged from its present position and the whole province came under government writ. Until that distant date, an Interim Advisory Council (IAC) would be set up,... (See Inside)

Battle of hearts and minds
The medical profession in Sri Lanka, which has existed as one of the most sacred of services in the country, has now come under public scrutiny and criticism, for several different reasons. Of all the allegations levelled at the medical doctors, the lack of ethics in carrying out their sacred duty towards patients has come under the most severe censure from various quarters of society.
In such a context, the battle between generic and brand names of medicines, which has come to the fore since of late, presents ample opportunity – especially for doctors themselves – to examine their scruples with regard to carrying out their services to the public.
“We must see this generics vs. brand name issue as a battle for the soul of the medical profession. As a battle for how they see themselves. (See Inside)



Short-sightedness puts Indian tour in jeopardy
India’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka in July hangs in the balance after Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials had expressed displeasure to the remarks made by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) interim committee chairman Arjuna Ranatunga about their IPL tournament and for agreeing to a five-match one-day series in Pakistan which would directly clash with the IPL matches.
Ranatunga who was on a private visit to Canada recently was quoted in one of their local newspapers condemning the BCCI’s IPL tournament saying that it was not a place for cricketing greats and describing their Twenty20 matches as “three-minute Maggie noodles”. “For me it is not cricket it is raw power. How can any great players fit in it,” he was quoted. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Recipe for disaster
If what is appearing in the media these days and the stories that are floating around have an element of truth attached to it, then the interim committee headed by former Sri Lanka captain turned politician Arjuna Ranatunga is heading for disaster.
When he was appointed by the President at the beginning of the year, Ranatunga at his inaugural media conference stated: “I have come here not to point fingers at anyone but to improve the standard of our cricket. I didn’t come here to contest in an election but to improve the cricket. Please don’t misunderstand me. I will do my best for cricket to the best of my ability. The day I am asked to go, I will step down.”
But it seems otherwise for elected officials of districts like Puttalam, Matale, Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya have been unconstitutionally replaced giving hint of going for a possible election. (See Inside)


Winning Eastern PC elections a must – Hisbullah
Although several parties boycotted the Batticaloa local council elections it seems that all political parties are keen to enter the fray and fight to wrest the power in the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is one of them. Although they did not do too well in Batticaloa senior SLMC politician M L A M Hisbullah says winning in the East is a must for the SLMC.
The Nation spoke to Hisbullah on the SLMC stance on the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections.
Following are excerpts:
Q: Is the SLMC going to contest in the Eastern Provincial council elections separately or with the support of another party?
I do not think that we will compete on our own. We might contest with the United National Party (UNP), United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA.) Both parties have invited us to form an alliance but we are still trying to decide what option is the best. Currently we are talking with our organisers, councillors and other local authority members in the East. Hakeem and I are both in Trincomalee and we will decide whether we should compete with the UNP or the UPFA.
Q: What is the main objective of the SLMC?
SLMC must capture this province. There is a Muslim majority in the East and we believe that we should and can capture the power and the appoint a member of the SLMC to the post of Chief Minister. (See Inside)

Banks charging legal fees from customers come under scrutiny
Nine legal officers including Chief Legal Officer Mrs. Thulasi Samarasinghe of the National Savings Bank have petitioned the Court of Appeal charging that the National Savings Bank is collecting legal fees which should be paid only to lawyers or a legal institution.
The bank in question along with other commercial banks and financial institutions collects an estimated Rs. 2 billion per annum from legal fees charged to customers.
While the merits and demerits of this case will be left to the Judiciary to decide, what is at issue here is not just the NSB but all banking corporations in this country who charge legal fees from customers, violating professional ethics and statutory rules.
Legal fees can be charged only by an accredited notary or legal institution. For banks to carry on with the practice to levy legal fees charged on various instruments such as Bonds, Transfer Deeds etc., is illegal and ultravires of the statutory powers vested in the bank.
For the last seven years, the NSB had authorised its legal department to attest transfer deeds and mortgage bonds during office hours. It was agreed that 60% of fees paid by customers would be given... (See Inside)




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