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Sunday April 06th, 2008

Exit Wimal
As confusion reigned over the fate of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) strongman Wimal Weerawansa, Party Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe yesterday... (See Inside)

GL battles Ranil on GSP+
The cabinet on Wednesday dwelled into the intricacies of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) after International Trade... (See Inside)

US to cold-shoulder Colombo response
The US State Department is likely to snub Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s recent... (See Inside)


                       Jaffna today                  

With the Sinhala and Hindu New Year around the corner, Jaffna appeared to be limping back to normalcy amidst a heavy presence of armoured vehicles and armed personnel
                                   (Pic by Ishara S. kodikara)



India angry as Lanka turns to Pakistan again
New Delhi has once again expressed serious concern over Sri Lanka’s continued reliance on Pakistan for arms.
The Indian ... (See Inside)

UNP loses to TMVP antics
Several prominent Tamil politicians from the Eastern Province who were set to contest the May 10 elections under the United National Party banner backed out at the... (See Inside)




JHU, MEP snub APRC jaunt
The majority of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) members left for the United Kingdom yesterday on a week-long tour, bringing the committee proceedings to a temporary halt.
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) APRC representative Nizam Kariapper told The Nation that they were undertaking the study tour to Northern Ireland and Wales following an invitation extended to the committee by the British Government.
The committee is expected to return to the island on April 12, just before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
However, The Nation reliably learns that the representatives of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) who are currently not taking part in APRC meetings have decided to cold shoulder the tour, during which the APRC is expected to study the system of governance adopted in both Northern Ireland and Wales.  (See Inside)

Chennai refuses ‘Prabhakaran’s release
Owners of Gemini Studio, Chennai, refused to release the negatives and sound track of the controversy ridden film, ‘Prabhakaran’, Director, Thushara Peries disclosed at a press conference held after the screening of “Prabhakaran” to journalists at New Olympia Theater.
“I want Gemini Studio to return my film and the negative without damaging them. Despite, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s intervention, they have refused to release it,” Peris said.
“While I was attending to laboratory work on the film at the Gemini Studio, LTTE supporters, including an Indian film Director, came into the studio and assaulted me. Police intervened and escorted me out of Gemini and to the airport. I came to Colombo leaving the negatives and sound track behind,” he recalled.
Executive Producer of the film, Saman Tantrige, explained that the Sri Lankan Embassy in India, has retained a lawyer to appear in a court case regarding the film. LTTE supporters have requested to ban the film. (See Inside)

President defers new Parliamentary act on Grade 1 admissions
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday deferred a move by the Education Ministry to introduce a new Parliamentary act on admissions to Grade 1 in government schools.
When the matter came up before the cabinet for discussion, it was stated that this act was drafted in compliance with an order made by the Supreme Court.
However, the President said that it was not necessary to rush into bringing legislation on the matter, since schools admission was purely an administrative matter.
Thereafter the cabinet agreed to defer the piece of legislation, which had apparently been presented by Education Minister Susil Premajayantha. (See Inside)

Rupavahini producer flees country
Adding to the controversy surrounding the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), a producer, who is also a top member of the Corporation’s Programme Producers Union has fled the country owing to continuous intimidation he had to face ever since the Mervyn Silva saga.
SLRC producer Waruna Lelwala, who is also the organizer of the Programme Producers Union, fled the country last week apparently due to the threats he and his family had to face from various groups allegedly close to Minister Mervyn Silva.
Chairman of the SLRC Programme Producers Association, Kanchane Marasinghe told The Nation that Lelwala was facing continuous threats, and as a result had... (See Inside)

Apparent Presidential bid to stall top Neurosurgeon’s exit
President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed world renowned Neurosurgeon Dr. Sunil Perera as a Presidential Advisor, apparently to stall his departure from the country.
A highly placed source said that although President Rajapaksa had appointed Dr Perera as a presidential advisor, it was still doubtful whether the Neurosurgeon would go ahead with his plans to leave the country.
The president’s move came after several top consultants decided to stop practising and leave the country, owing to the continuous political interference within the medical sector, allegedly by Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.
The sources also said that all issues concerning Dr .Perera will be addressed through the President’s House directly, instead of the Ministry of Health.
“One of the major issues the doctors face is applying for leave. Health Ministry officials, intentionally, cancel their leave, although... (See Inside)

LTTE invests in films as new propaganda tool to justify cause
The LTTE has invested massive funds in the film industry in order to use feature films as a propaganda tool to justify its cause.
The latest film, according to informed sources, is titled ‘The Daughter of a Terrorist’, portraying the role of a Black Tiger woman cadre in the battlefield of Sri Lanka.
The LTTE, through this medium, is trying to portray its outfit as a liberation movement and is expecting to gain much publicity in the West.
It is said that ‘The Daughter of a Terrorist’ is the production of a Norwegian filmmaker. (See Inside)




A stirring contest
The die is cast. Provincial elections in the eastern province will be held on May 10 and a stirring contest is on the cards following a series of political events that transpired this week at breakneck speed.
Over 1300 candidates are vying for a mere 44 seats in the council which encompasses the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Digamadulla (Ampara) districts indicating that no matter what critics say, democracy and the spirit of healthy political competition is very much alive in the region.
Yet, what captured the headlines this week was the posturing of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in the run up to the election. It was no secret that the Congress, with its power base in the eastern province was assiduously wooed both by the government and the opposition United National Party (UNP).
While the government and President Rajapaksa were keen to have the SLMC on board for the election, there were many hindrances to such an alliance and in retrospect these hurdles put paid to any chances of an electoral agreement, despite the best efforts of the President’s power brokers. (See Inside)

Elephants do topple trees for fodder
The UNP-SLMC marriage of political convenience is at the inconvenience of the rank and file, with the best-man a ‘no show’ at the wedding
Political horse deals was the order of the day, during the early part of last week, since the deadline for nominations for the Eastern polls, was Thursday.
There were negotiations at every nook and corner in Colombo, as the two main parties solicited the support of peripheral political entities and smaller parties to strengthen their presence in the East.
The ruling UPFA, however, failed to obtain the support of the major Muslim political entity in the East, the SLMC, but manoeuvred a split within the ranks of the party, when they clinched a deal with M.L.M. Hisbullah, capable of giving the SLMC... (See Inside)


Our Lady of Madhu joins fellowship of internally displaced
The Marian Church dedicated to our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Marudhamadhu – commonly known as Madhu – in the North Western District of Mannar has provided safety and refuge at different times to thousands of people fleeing the violence of war.
The benign presence of ‘Madhu Maadhaa’ (Our Lady of Madhu) or ‘Sebamaalai Maadhaa’ (Our Lady of the Rosary) had made Church precincts and environs an oasis of refuge and haven of peace in the past.
Statue displaced

Yet, in what was perhaps an illustrative indictment of the escalating war, the sacred statue of Our Lady of Madhu and Baby Jesus joined the ranks of those internally displaced by the war in Sri Lanka.
Four Catholic Priests – Fr. S. Emilianuspillai, Fr. A. Gnanapragasam, Fr. E. Sebamalai and Fr. T. Sahayanathan – arrived in a white motor-vehicle at the premises of St. Xavier’s Church in Thevanpitty on Thursday, April 3.
They brought with them the sacred statue from the Church in Madhu. It is unclear at present whether the statue will be kept indefinitely at St. Xavier’s Church or taken to another safer place in the near future.
As for now the internally displaced ‘Maadhaa’ statue will remain at the Church in Thevanpitty. Thevanpitty adjoins Mulangaavil... (See Inside)

Opposition tasks govt. over new appointment

The much vexatious issue of the appointment of the new Secretary General of Parliament took a disastrous turn when President Mahinda Rajapakse went ahead and appointed Dhammika Kitulgoda, the new acting Secretary General, on March 31, despite strong opposition from all law abiding persons and organisations in the country.
While the bona fide of the President and the government was seriously questioned by the majority of the civil society and the opposition political circles following this appointment, the government ministers and officials strongly defended the President, claiming that the President’s action was not ‘unconstitutional’. (See Inside)



Test nicely poised
West Indies, replying to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 278, reached 268 for seven when bad light stopped play on the second day of the second Test on Friday.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers exploited the lively Queen’s Park Oval pitch and heavy conditions to keep scoring at a premium, but several West Indians got starts.
Vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan led the way with 57, left-handed opener Sewnarine Chattergoon scored 46, Devon Smith laboured for 47, captain Chris Gayle made 45, and Dwayne Bravo got 26.
Off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan captured three wickets for 64 runs off 23 overs and Thilan Thushara took two for 72 from 12 overs.
Gaining bounce and movement from the pitch, the Sri Lanka bowlers worked over the top-order batsmen of the West Indies.
In the 40 minutes available to them before lunch, much of the attraction was the long-running battle between Sri Lanka new-ball bowler Chaminda Vaas and Gayle. (See Inside)

Point Blank
Is Lorgat the right man?
So the International Cricket Council (ICC) finally has a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to succeed Malcolm Speed. The appointment of South African Haroon Lorgat to Speed’s position from June 29, the first day of the annual ICC conference, was announced at Dubai on Friday.
In the ICC’s 99-year-old history, Lorgat becomes only the third CEO. The first to occupy the role was David Richards from 1993-2001 after which Speed took over. Just who is Haroon Lorgat?
Lorgat is a businessman by profession and played first-class cricket for Eastern Province as an all-rounder and since retiring has served on the board of Western Province Cricket Association and also on the finance committees of the United Cricket Board of South Africa and ICC World Cup 2003 held in South Africa.
But it is during his term as a national cricket selector that Lorgat will be infamously remembered. Having been a member... (See Inside)


“Hisbullah is known for his long record of treachery”
SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem is confident of an SLMC-UNP victory in the Eastern Province – on the condition the elections are free and fair. However, he opined that the government, assisting armed groups within its fold to terrorise Tamil voters, has already resulted in prevention of the free will of the Tamil voters being exercised.
In an interview with The Nation, he emphasised that the combined strength of the SLMC and the UNP vote banks would garner the necessary votes to get past the UPFA in both Trincomalee and Ampara Districts, although government machinery would be “in full swing to engage in maximum rigging.”
Speaking of the defection by his erstwhile lieutenant Hisbullah, Hakeem asserted that the people would teach Hisbullah “the lesson of his life” this time. He also spoke of the party decision to contest under the ‘Elephant’ symbol, asserting that “a symbol is only a means to an end.”
Following are excerpts:
Q: Why didn’t you agree to a Muslim alliance to contest the Eastern Province elections?
The SLMC is the predominant political force among the Muslims and we were quite willing to accommodate all dissident factions to appease and accommodate the request from the variety of religious and community-based, as well as regional mosque federations. (See Inside)

 Muslims can claim east as their ‘homeland’— Ferial Ashraff
Politics is a man’s world, no argument there. The ability to hold one’s own, being a woman in such a set up, especially after having been thrust into the political firmament following the death of a husband, is certainly no easy feat. But Ferial Ashraff makes it look that way. Her gentleness and constant smile belies the fact that she is a lady with nerves of steel, as she stoically holds her political ground in the restive Eastern Province no less. The Nation caught up with Mrs. Ashraff this week to discuss the eastern provincial polls that look to be heating up so early in the game. The NUA Leader talked of how she and several others attempted to reach consensus with the fissured Muslim parties to try and ensure a Muslim Chief Minister for the east in the run up to the election, and why the SLMC Leader has disappointed her by betraying those efforts. Ever the pragmatist, Mrs. Ashraff says she finds it encouraging that formerly violent figures such as Pillaiyan have chosen to enter the democratic fray
Following are excerpts:
Q: How significant would you say the upcoming Provincial Council Poll in the east is for the Muslims of that region?
I think it is very significant in that the people of the Eastern Province have not had the right to rule themselves for quite some time now. (See Inside)




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