Billions for SAARC tamasha
While the masses tighten their belts, staggering in the face of
the skyrocketing cost of living, the forthcoming SAARC summit is
set to cost Sri Lanka at least a whopping Rs. 3 billion, The
According to the initial estimates drawn up on Friday,...
Baiz at it again, threatens CEB workers
A Deputy Minister is alleged to have threatened Ceylon
Electricity Board (CEB) workers attached to the Puttalam office
yesterday over the telephone, using abusive...
Umma to do a wettu?
After severing her connections with the Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna (JVP) last Tuesday (17), Gampaha District
Parliamentarian Anjan Umma is very likely to join the Wimal
What does his future hold?
As the world
remembered millions of refugees around the world on Friday,
World Refugee Day, this image of a little boy living in a
temporary shelter in Maligawatte reminds us of how close the
problem is to home
(Pic by Nissanka Wijeratne)
GSP+: EU Ambassadors warn
of dire consequences
European Union (EU) Human Rights Ambassadors have warned of dire
consequences in the event Sri Lanka fails to comply with
international human rights conventions and improves its human
rights record in...
Sell diesel cheap or leave
Petroleum Minister A.HM. Fowzie yesterday warned that he would
be compelled to order Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) to wind up
operations if it refused to sell diesel at a cheaper price.
The Minister, who threatened to take drastic action...
|SL an illegal firearm haven
Nearly 35,000 illegal firearms are in circulation in Sri Lanka,
disclosed South Asian Small Arms Network (Sri Lanka) (SASA Net)
Chairman Kingsley Rodrigo, recently said.
The situation, Rodrigo pointed out, was exacerbating the
prevailing insecurity in the country. He added that majority of
those who hold the illegal firearms were the youth.
“Around 15,000 weapons had been given to politicians and their
supporters during election time by the then government in 1989
to overcome threats by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). But
records show that, since 1989, those who were given weapons are
yet to return them to the respective authorities,” Rodrigo said.
He said there were some 70,000 Army deserters in the country who
had left their weapons in their camps at Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi
and Elephant Pass, paving the way not only for civilians, but
even the LTTE, to easily...
New lease of life for CSC
Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC) has acquired a 165,000 MT oil
tanker through its joint venture with a member of the global
shipping dynasty family, Pyrros Vardinoyannis.
The joint venture was signed recently in Tangalle, Sri Lanka,
between Vardinoyannis and CSC, a wholly government-owned entity.
The joint venture company, CSC Kandia, is expected to put value
back into the CSC as a ship owner and operator, thereby
enhancing its ability to aggressively pursue various types of
In the past, the CSC owned and operated 17 vessels but
now operates a substantially reduced fleet of two small
LTTE meeting place destroyed
A meeting place of the LTTE
situated two kilometres north of Aandankulam Junction in Mannar
was attacked by the Air Force yesterday, around 12:30 p.m.
Air Force Spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara told The
Nation that Air Force MI 24 helicopters were engaged in the
The Air Force pilots had observed that the targets were taken
accurately and confirmed that the place was under fire following
Meanwhile, four LTTE cadres were killed due to fire launched by
the Army at Puwarasankulam, in Vavuniya, yesterday, at around 6
Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the
Army used Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Multi Purpose
Machine Guns (MPMGs) on an LTTE bunker and a hut, having
observed four LTTEers, including two females.
War toll in Sri Lanka jumps to 215,000 –
New estimates of war deaths in 13 countries, including Sri
Lanka, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, show that previous
counts have vastly understated the lives lost to war in the past
half century, a British study published in the British Medical
Journal said last week.
The new estimates relied on data from nationally representative
population surveys done by the UN World Health Organisation in
these countries earlier this decade to calculate death tolls in
wars waged from 1955 to 2002.
In most of the countries, this method pointed to much higher
loss of life than broadly cited media estimates of the various
war death counts had shown, the researchers said.
For example, the method indicated 3.8 million Vietnamese
died in the protracted fighting in Vietnam, mostly from
1955 to 1975, compared to previous estimates cited by...
Govt. moves to destabilise CEB, charge
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions charge that the
government has violated the Electricity Act of 1969 by letting
the Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) manage the Broadlands
CEB Joint Trade Union Front Convenor Ananda Nimalaratne told The
Nation that the government, through the Sustainable Energy
Authority (SEA), had given LECO permission to manage the
Broadlands Hydropower Project, thus violating the Act.
“The Electricity Act of 1969 says that only CEB can produce
hydropower while mini hydropower projects, which only produce
lower than 10 megawatts, could be initiated by private
companies,” he said.
Nimalaratna added that LECO had submitted the application to
start the Broadlands Hydropower Project two weeks...
CEB wants Defence Ministry to pay up
The Defence Ministry owes Rs. 159,000 to the Ceylon
Electricity Board (CEB) for utilising the Ampara circuit
bungalow from April 10 to May 11.
Officials attached to the CEB told The Nation that the Defence
Ministry had booked the bungalow from April 10 for election
purposes and had not yet paid the due amounts.
“The Ministry booked the bungalow during election time but they
did not make any prior payments. Usually an employee of the
Board is required to pay the amount once they book the
bungalow,” he said.
He added that bookings were usually only made by the employees
of the Board and that outsiders were not allowed to use the
“The Welfare Department does not permit any outsiders to
book the circuit bungalow...
The country’s major opposition party, the United National Party (UNP)
is at it again. After yet another election defeat-at the Eastern
Provincial Council polls-there are calls for its leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe to step down.
It is a now familiar scenario with a predictable outcome: Wickremesinghe
wriggles out of a tight corner, appoints a committee to tide over the
issue and lives to fight another day-until he loses the next election!
Those who are now agitating in the UNP would want to believe that this
time around, the results would be different. More relevant to the issue
however would be to examine whether showing Wickremesinghe the door,
would solve the party’s growing problems.
In his second tenure, his signal achievement was the Ceasefire with the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Unfortunately, that is what has
now come to haunt him because his political opponents have conveniently
branded him as the man who tried to hand over the country to the LTTE,
at least in the eyes of the southern electorate. It is a label that
Wickremesinghe is finding it difficult to get rid of.
Oh, what a tangled web we have woven!
Three top Indian bureaucrats were in Colombo on
Friday to discuss crucial issues pertaining to the
Sri Lankan peace process and the war against the
LTTE. It was a sequel to Foreign Minister Rohitha
Bogollagama’s recent visit to India to extend an
invitation to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh to attend the SAARC summit in Colombo. But
observers noted that the delegation’s visit was more
like three people from India who met with three Sri
Lankans and it is believed that a special message
had been delivered to the Sri Lankan government over
the present situation in the country. Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to visit SL for
at least two and a half days during the SAARC summit
and will also meet with all political parties in the
country including the main opposition UNP and
minority political parties. It was unknown what the
Indian Delegation had exactly told the Sri Lankan
authorities although Sri Lankan officials described
it as a routine visit by the Indians. To
substantiate this, they also said that Presidential
Secretary Lalith Weeratunge, Defence Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Senior Presidential Advisor
Basil Rajapaksa visited Delhi in November last year
The problems in the education sector at present have become one
of the most discussed topics. Long standing disputes between the
Education Ministry officials and teachers have finally resulted
in principals and the teachers deciding to boycott A/L and O/L
paper marking. Although union action is nothing new to us, this
action which would have serious consequences has shaken the
As always, when the teachers go on strike the group that
ultimately suffers is the students. Although the grievances of
the teachers might be legitimate, the children aren’t answerable
for any of these issues. And the students who are sitting for
their A/L and O/L exams and their families wonder whether the
continuous union action would destroy their most cherished
New e-NIC really tamperproof?
A Rs. 5 billion tender has been doctored by the Internal
Administration Ministry, of which Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickremanayake is Minister. Our repeated attempts to contact the
Prime Minister failed as Wickremanayake remained unavailable for
However, we did speak with Internal Administration Ministry
Secretary, Dr. Upananda Vidanapathirana, who refuted charges
that the government has compromised on security specifications
for the new Identification (ID) Card.
“There is absolutely no compromise. The Prime Minister will not
tolerate any compromise on this project and neither will I,” Dr.
He added that the revised specifications were based on
recommendations made by the Tender Board and a Technical
Evaluation Committee (TEC).
“They addressed all these issues. Prospective bidders were
informed of all the issues. On my part, I have conformed very
strictly to procedure – I go by the TEC report and my decision
is based on this report, which is in black and white. Thus,...
|Vettori tries to calm Champions Trophy
New Zealand captain
Daniel Vettori did his best Friday to allay growing security
concerns about staging the International Cricket Council (ICC)
Champions Trophy in Pakistan this year.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said he doesn’t yet know if
his side will travel to Pakistan for the September 11-28 event
and raised the prospect of individual withdrawals even if the
title-holders do decide to send a team.
“We don’t know if we’re going. And if we do go, we don’t know if
individuals are going to pull out,” Ponting was quoted as saying
in Australian newspapers.
“It just won’t be Australian players. There will be a few other
teams who will be thinking long and hard if the tour does go
“I’m sure a lot of the New Zealand players who have been
confronted with this stuff before, in Sri Lanka and Pakistan,
will have some pretty serious concerns.”
Australia put off a March-April tour of Pakistan after several
of their players hesitated after a series of suicide bombings in
the run-up to Pakistan’s national elections.
International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to put on trial
the challenge system where players will have the right to
contest umpiring decisions during the upcoming Test and ODI
series between Sri Lanka and India once again brings to the
forefront the individual who initially suggested such a move 11
Senaka Weeraratne, a lawyer by profession and a keen follower of
cricket wrote a letter under the heading ‘Allow Appeals to the
Third Umpire’ in early 1997 which was published widely in Sri
Lankan newspapers as well as ‘The Australian’, ‘The Sunday Age’,
‘NT News’, ‘The London Times’, Pakistan’s leading paper ‘Dawn’
and even the prestigious ‘Time’ magazine.
Weeraratne’s proposal letter was submitted to the then president
of Sri Lanka Cricket Upali Dharmadasa who knowing the importance
of the concept had acknowledged the contents of it and forwarded
it to his secretary Tryphon Mirando for further action. It was
only through the controlling body for cricket in the country
that Weeraratne could put forward his suggestion to the ICC.
Whether successive administrators had followed Weeraratne’s...
NFF will govern nation by 2018-Wimal
The National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader MP Wimal
Weerawansa recently came up with a plan to set up an All Party
Defense Committee to ensure public safety. In an already highly
militarised environment, many aspects of the programme including
strengthening the existing civil defense committee and the
establishment of a civil intelligence wing have sparked off
Q: You have proposed to set up an All Party Defence Committee
to ensure public safety which the Government has decided to take
up. But already there is a civil Defense Committee. What is the
difference between the two?
A: First of all I have to explain why the National Freedom
Front (NFF) came up with these proposals. It is evident that
there is a major threat to civilian security. The battle worn
Tigers who are on the brink of collapse are now resorting to
attacking soft targets like public transport; they are doing
this to divert attention from the battle front where they are
suffering increasing defeats.
We have identified several reasons behind the LTTE’s series of
attacks on civilian targets.
First of all they want to create a climate of fear among the
public, and they hope that the growing...
RANIL and the enemy within
The United National Party (UNP) still the country’s single
largest political party, is in the midst of a political crisis.
The UNP, led by veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe, is in
the throes of a leadership battle which, some say, is the
party’s worst crisis ever.
The internal conflict and squabble among some, over the
leadership, is certainly blocking the party’s forward march.
Some feel that, at the end of the day, the political crisis
brewing within the UNP could upset everything, if corrective
measures are not taken forthwith.
UNP members, by and large, paint a rosy picture to the outside
world, while, at the same time, wrestle within to maintain the
sanity of the party.
The same reason that prompted 17 UNP stalwarts to quit the
party, including political giants such as Karu Jayasuriya and
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, are, today, seen as the same cause for
many more to rise against the present leadership, thus demanding
a change of the leadership of the party or, play the game
according to the rules, which some perceive, Wickremesinghe has
failed to do in the past.