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Sunday April 13th, 2008

JVP crash lands
The crisis within the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) appears to have reached boiling point, with the party showing signs of more splits, breaking it into three factions.
While JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe was seen leading the main faction of the JVP, former Propaganda Secretary and Parliamentary Group Leader... (See Inside)

COPE defunct
In a shocking disclosure on Thursday, COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe revealed that the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) is partially defunct at present.
He attributed the sorry state of affairs to the non-cooperation of the majority of members. (See Inside)

Govt. moots plans to block Hakeem
In a bid to nullify the UNP’s list of candidates who will contest from the Trincomalee District at the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council election, government Parliamentarians are mooting to take former Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem’s... (See Inside)


                 New Year greetings!            

It might not be the most prosperous New Year that many Sri Lankans wished for, given the spiralling cost of living and the deterioration of the country’s security situation. Yet, it is an auspicious season, a time to rekindle many a traditional custom; more importantly, it is a time to renew family bonds and forgive one’s foes. The Nation wishes all Sri Lankans a happy Sinhala and Tamil New Year, and hope it ushers in the long-awaited peace and the much needed prosperity in this island
                                 (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)



Sri Lanka gets 10,000 missiles from Slovakia
An arms trade monitoring group has criticised the sale of 10,000 military missiles by Slovakia to Sri Lanka.
The missiles are designed to be dispatched from multiple rocket launchers.
There are concerns that the sale could constitute a violation of the spirit of the European Union (EU) Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. (See Inside)

Shady pill deal puts heart patients at grave risk
The Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry has allegedly imported substandard medication used for the treatment of heart patients.
The All Ceylon Health Service Union (ACHSU) claimed that the Ministry had imported poor quality drugs worth US$ 52,250 from a South Asian pharmaceutical company in September 2007. (See Inside)




Over 2,500 LTTE cadres killed in three months
Security forces have been successful in eliminating about 2,517 LTTE cadres within the last three months, Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Nation.
It is estimated that, there were around 5,000 fighting cadres in the LTTE at the beginning of this year. According to Brigadier Nanayakkara, the security forces had killed 834 LTTE fighting cadres in January and another 874 cadres were killed during February, while 678 LTTE cadres were killed last month. Another 131 LTTE cadres were killed by troops by April 4.
Brigadier Nanayakkara however claimed that although they had been successful in eliminating a large number of cadres, it did not mean that they had only a few more cadres to finish off, as there was a huge possibility that the LTTE may have commenced enlisting new recruits to its cadre base. (See Inside)

Brigadier cautions media
Stating his extreme displeasure over a news-feature, that appeared in our sister paper The Bottom Line, Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara has cautioned the writer of the said copy.
In a telephone conversation the Brigadier said that in future the military would not consider inviting journalists from the The Bottom Line paper, for government sponsored tours.
The news-feature titled ‘An uneasy normalcy,’ which appeared in April 9, 2008 issue of The Bottom Line, is a report on the impressions of the writer, during a recent tour of the Jaffna Peninsula, organised by the Media Centre for National... (See Inside)

Pro-LTTE movie screened in US
Sri Lankan Ambassador in the United States Bernard Goonetilleke has lodged a strong protest over the screening of the film My Daughter The Terrorist at a premier US film festival recently.
The film, a documentary on the lives and faiths of two female Black Tigers produced by Norwegian filmmaker Beate Arnestad, was featured in a documentary film festival in Durham, North Carolina on April 4.
Over 100 documentaries were screened during the four day film festival held from April 3 to 6. (See Inside)

Ex-Air Force Chief Harry Goonetileke passes away
Air Vice Marshal Harry Goonetileke who served as the fifth Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force passed away on Friday at the age of 79.
The funeral, with military honours, was scheduled to be held on Saturday at the General Cemetery, Borella (1:30 p.m. from Jayaratne’s Funeral Parlour).
Goonetileke served as the Commander of the Air Force from November 1, 1976 to April 30, 1981.
Educated at Royal College Colombo, young Goonetileke joined the Air Force as a Flight Cadet in 1951 in the first batch of locally trained recruits. Goonetileke was awarded his Wings in 1954. Four years later, he was promoted Squadron Leader.
He was a versatile fixed wing pilot, who was part of the team that flew to the UK and back, ferrying the RCyAF’s new Heron aircraft to Ceylon. He had a stint as Commanding Officer of China Bay, being responsibility for the Cadet training there. (See Inside)

WFP urgently seeks US$ 12 million for IDP operations
The World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently seeking US$ 12 million to carry out operations for the next six months in the North and East Provinces.
According to WFP Deputy Country Director Jean Yves, the organisation is in need of funds for its operations in the north and the east, especially for the Jaffna peninsula, for the upkeep of a large number of displaced persons.
He noted said that due to the price hike in essential commodities in the world, the organisation was finding difficulty in purchasing such commodities.
“World prices of essential commodities have increased and fuel prices in Sri Lanka are causing another problem as it adds up to the overall cost. We are running out of funds and we have the responsibility of taking care of more than 155,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),” he said. (See Inside)

Hassan Ali demands more security
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has charged that if the government could provide Special Task Force (STF) protection to SLMC dissident M.L.M. Hisbullah, then the security provided for SLMC candidates too should be enhanced forthwith.
SLMC General Secretary and chief candidate in the Ampara District Hassan Ali told The Nation that the government was yet to provide him adequate security.
He said that when he lodged his complaint with the Elections Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the matter, the IGP promised to send him three Police officers without vehicles.
Ali was of the opinion that, with this action, the IGP intended to further insult the SLMC candidates, in particular.
Ali pointed out that providing food and hiring vehicles for these three officers would cost him heavily and added that it was not...(See Inside)




JVP faces battle of ‘Wansas’
The once impregnable red fortress, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) suffered a shock setback last week with its parliamentary group leader and propaganda secretary, the colourful and often controversial Wimal Weerawansa declaring in a special statement in Parliament that there were moves afoot to strip him of his responsibilities.
The extent of the damage to the JVP after this disclosure remains to be seen, but it will be significant, judging from the reaction of party leader Somawansa Amerasinghe at his last press briefing. Snapped Amerasinghe, “So, you have come to report that the JVP has split into two?” at the assembled scribes before any question could be put to him. Clearly, the incident had riled the usually unflappable veteran.
There was news filtering in from the political grapevine for some weeks, of dissent and discontent within the main left oriented party in the country. But given its past record of strict discipline in its ranks, there was much hope that the issues would be resolved, before it became a public slanging match. (See Inside)

Resilient rebel leaves irreplaceable void
The assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle no doubt creates a vacuum in the government benches in Parliament. He held the opposition at bay at all times.
It is a personal loss for President Mahinda Rajapaksa since he took forefront in all important debates in Parliament to defend the government. At times he bulldozed the opposition and made pre-emptive attacks on the opposition, in defence of the government in Parliament
An erudite opposition Parliamentarian told this column, it would be rather difficult for the UPFA government to fill the void created by the demise of Minister Fernandopulle, who held fort for the government at all important debates. The government and the opposition both grieved over the death of Minister Fernandopulle who was considered an asset to the... (See Inside)


Displaced Our Lady of Madhu statue in danger of disappearance
Orders going out to the 57 Division in late March directed that the area in and around our Lady of the Rosary Church in Marudhamadhu (Madhu) be taken by the traditional April New Year.
There is optimism in military circles that the security forces may accomplish the mission as directed by the fixed deadline of Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The ongoing fighting to seize Madhu has seen the 57 Division, under Major General Jagath Dias, being engaged on three fronts. The triumphal entry into Madhu is likely to be made by the 57-2 Brigade.
At present the 57-2 is entrenched in two fighting formations at Sinnapandivirichaan, about two miles from Madhu Church junction and Periyapandivirichaan, about three miles from Madhu Church.

The belief that the Army would enter Madhu before mid-April is predicated on the basis that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would withdraw completely... (See Inside)

Jeyaraj larger than life, in death
“My father always wanted to die a hero. He never wanted to suffer, and prayed that he will not die an old man on a sickbed. This was what he wished for in life. He always said that I will die when my time comes, and that no one can stop death. I’m very proud of my father and I always will be… ”
These are the words of 16-year-old Samurdhi Fernandopulle, daughter of the late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who was brutally assassinated by the LTTE last Sunday at 7.40 am, from a bomb blast at Weliweriya, and the daughter fought back tears as she said these words to The Nation, when we attended the funeral ceremony of the late Minister at his residence in Katana.
The Minister was killed during a Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebration at Weliweriya, where he participated as the chief guest.
The final act
Along with Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, 14 other civilians were killed while 83 were injured. The Minister’s wife, Sudarshini, explained how Jeyaraj started that fateful day which... (See Inside)



Chanderpaul’s perfect 10 stuns Sri Lanka
Chaminda Vaas lost his nerves, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul kept his, and struck a four and a six off the last two balls to hand West Indies a sensational one-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the first One-day International here Thursday.
Chasing 236 for victory from their allocation of 50 overs, West Indies entered the final overat Queen’s Park Oval needing 13 runs to win.
Sri Lanka turned to Vaas, their most experienced bowler, to deliver the last over, and he restricted the West Indies last wicket pair of Chanderpaul and batting bunny Fidel Edwards to three runs from the first four balls of the over.
But Vaas, whose line and length had been unerring throughout the match, delivered a full length delivery and Chanderpaul drove him through mid-off for four.
Sri Lanka would still have favoured their chances with West Indies needing a six off the last ball when Vaas ran up and delivered a full toss which Chanderpaul duly dispatched over the wide long-on boundary to spark massive celebrations in the stands.
Chanderpaul was undefeated on 62 from 63 balls which included five fours and one six. (See Inside)

Not a good advertisement for sport
Till that black Sunday of April 6, sport it seemed was free of being affected by terrorist activities. But the killing of a high-ranking cabinet minister who was their target at the start of an athletics marathon at Weliweriya took along with it the lives of several innocent people including that of national athletics coach Lakshman de Alwis and former Olympic marathon runner KA Karunaratne.
To stoop to the level of eliminating a minister at a sports event shows that the Tamil Tigers are adopting desperate measures in desperate situations. The way they are being confronted and beaten back by the government security forces in their own territory has led to the Tigers adopting such measures of elimination regardless of the lives they put at risk or the event. The clear message the suicide bombing at Weliweriya brings is that the war is far from over and this is not the last time we will hear of such kinds of incidents.
What took place at Weliweriya is a dangerous precedent for sport in this country. Even when sportsmen and sports officials were not the target international sports teams have shown reservation of... (See Inside)


Govt. has 80% support of SLMC – Basil
Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa in an interview with The Nation recently, said that the SLMC-UNP alliance is no threat to the government, when contesting the Provincial Council (PC) elections in the east.
“They have always been together. Even at the last Presidential election and the Parliamentary election, they contested together. This is not the SLMC, it is Rauff Hakeem who is doing this,” he pointed out. Rajapaksa also said that 80% of the SLMC’s representation in Parliament is with the government
Q: The main demand of the opposition political parties is to disarm the TMVP, to ensure a free and fair election. It appears that the government has not heeded to that call. Could you explain?
There are numerous needs of the people of the Eastern Province, such as development, than this issue. So, as an opposition, they should demand to resolve more and more of these issues. Disarming the TMVP is not an issue for the people of the east. They have been under severe LTTE control. Now the east is liberated. So, they are ready for a fair election.
Q: Don’t you think that the TMVP carrying arms is going to have a bearing on the election? (See Inside)

“UNP-SLMC victory a foregone conclusion”
The decision taken by the United National Party (UNP) to contest the eastern polls along with the all-powerful Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has sent shock waves through the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UPFA today stands in isolation, with its alliance partners like the JVP, CP and LSSP opting to stay away without contesting the election together. For the UNP, it is a good opportunity to display the party’s power and might while at the same time exhibit the party’s policies and agendas. The marriage with the SLMC has given the party a boost and party strongman and front-liner Ravi Karunanayake believes victory in the eastern province is a foregone conclusion.
Speaking to The Nation, Karunanayake, a vociferous critic of the UPFA government, said that the eastern election... (See Inside)




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