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Sunday July 20th, 2008

SL to counter US Resolutions
Sri Lanka is planning to launch a counterattack against the recent United States Resolution 1338, which calls for an international Human Rights (HR) monitoring mission to help maintain law and order in the embattled island. This is apart from several other demands, which include an end to the ongoing military onslaught and the culture of impunity in the face... (See Inside)

5,000 security personnel deployed for SAARC
A massive security cordon of around 5,000 security personnel, including the three armed forces and Police will be deployed for the forthcoming SAARC Summit, scheduled commence on July 27 at the BMICH in Colombo, Police Spokesman... (See Inside)

CEPA delayed
The Government last week announced a delay in the signing of the much anticipated Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Sri Lanka. (See Inside)


                          Raw deal                     

A terrified little boy clings onto a bag of precious belongings as his family, along with hundreds of other affected residents, fearlessly fight against officers of the Urban Development Authority, Police and the military when they attempted to tear down the houses at Slave Island, on grounds of national security last Friday
                                   (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)


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Popular items face Duty Free clampdown
A range of popular electrical items including, TVs, refrigerators, deep freezers, air conditioners, washing machines and other large electrical appliances available at the Duty Free at the country’s only international airport in Katunayake, will no longer enjoy ‘duty free’ status... (See Inside)

Rains wreak havoc around the country
Torrential rainfall since late last week, has affected at least 10,000 and killed two persons, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday.
The two deaths were reported from Kegalle and Matale as a result of heavy overnight... (See Inside)

East facing financial crisis
Eastern Province Governor Vice Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa has requested for more funds to develop the province. (See Inside)



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Rathnapriya calls on Unions to be stronger, better organised
The trade union movement of Sri Lanka should unite to launch a successful general strike against the government and make it adhere to its promises regarding the salary increments, and reducing the bus and train fares. So said the Convenor of August 4 Trade Union Movement (A4TUM), Saman Rathnapriya.
Speaking at the meeting yesterday, he said that all the trade union should be very well organised and efficient if they want to make an impact on the government.
“We can’t say whether the July 10 strike was a success or not. But we could have been stronger, if we had been properly organised,”... (See Inside)

CEB Trade Unions give ultimatum to Ministry
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions are threatening strong union action if the Ministry of Power and Energy fails to withdraw an initial decision of letting the Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) manage the Moragolla hydropower project.
According to CEB sources, the Ministry had not yet withdrawn its requests to grant LECO to manage the Moragolla hydropower project, which violates the Electricity Act of 1969 that specifically states that only the CEB could produce major hydropower while mini hydropower projects, which only produce lower than 10 megawatts, could be initiated by private companies.
“The Ministry had not yet withdrawn the requests and if they do continue to act hastily all the trade unions would be forced to... (See Inside)

EU delegation arrives today
A Parliamentary delegation of the European Union will arrive here today to assess the situation in the eastern parts of the country, especially after the recent Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) election.
The delegation includes a cross-section of political groups and EU member-states.
The delegation’s six-day visit would include meetings with key members of the cabinet, political parties and the media.
The visit assumes importance as the issue of extension of GSP plus concession to Sri Lanka’s textile sector is coming... (See Inside)

Extinction of jellyfish likely
The illegal jellyfish exporting racket discovered several months ago has once again raised its head in the suburbs of the Eastern Province.
An environmental expert told The Nation that this trade is mostly being conducted in the lagoons of Okanda and Komariya in the Eastern Province and also in areas such as Godawana and Kirinda. “As we warned when this was conducted last time, the poachers have moved down to the southern coastal areas too,” environmental expert, Jagath Gunawardena pointed out.
“About 2,000 kg of jellyfish are being brought from the sea twice a day and this is once again causing severe damage to the coastal areas of the Eastern Province,”... (See Inside)

Seminar on ‘Discussion of Laws relating to Bail’
Excessive bail beyond the means of suspects or accused and the unjustified denial of bail would worst affect the poor, said President’s Counsel R.I. Obeysekera.
He was delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) at a seminar held at Hotel Galadari. The seminar was organised by BASL in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Department, Police and the Prisons Department who were also represented at the seminar on ‘Discussion of Laws relating to Bail.’
More than 500 lawyers practicing in various courts all over the country participated in this seminar and expressed their views.
President of BASL W. D. Dayaratna who presided over the seminar with the speakers,... (See Inside)

Mass grave victims off for forensic testing
The human skeletons and bones found from a suspected mass grave in Batticaloa will be sent to the Colombo University’s Forensic Medicine department tomorrow for forensic tests to identify the victims, Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunesekera told The Nation yesterday.
The Batticaloa Magistrate has directed the Batticaloa police to send the remains to the Colombo University and to the Government Analyst in order to have scientific evidence which would be helpful to identify their gender, age and the time period they were killed.
According to SSP Gunesekera the Judicial Medical Officers report said that it was confirmed that the bones of around 16 found were human skeletons nearly... (See Inside)



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Black July 25 years later
On Wednesday, July 23, exactly twenty five years ago, thirteen soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army were ambushed on the outskirts of Jaffna. A day later, as the bodies of the dead servicemen were being prepared for a discreet burial at the general cemetery in Colombo, violence directed at the Tamil community erupted.
That violence was to spread countrywide and end in a pogrom of the Tamil community and gave impetus to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to wage war with the Sri Lankan state—a war which continues to this date, and the loss of a conservatively estimated 60,000 lives.
Twenty five years is an opportune moment for introspection: it is a period of time sufficient for an entire generation of Sinhalese and Tamils to emerge; it is also adequate enough to examine whether Sri Lanka as a nation has made headway in its attempts to address the country’s most vexed question.
Both positives and negatives have emerged in the quarter of a century since ‘Black July’. On the plus side, the country’s majority community has learnt the lessons of July 1983 well. Apparently they now realise that any indiscriminate retaliation against the Tamil community—distinct from the LTTE—would not only be irrational but also... (See Inside)



SLIC Judgement reserved
Supreme Court last week resumed the judgment in the case against the privatisation of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, and required parties to tender written submission by August 1, 2008.
M.A. Sumanthiran, Attorney-at-Law, Counsel for Petitioner, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Advisor to H.E. the President, contended that the Cabinet Appointed Tender Board (CATB) had been constituted by the Secretary to the Treasury, in violation of a cabinet decision, which had expressly reserved the right for the cabinet to appoint the CATB, thereby rendering the entire SLIC transaction ab-initio null and void. He further submitted that the minutes of the TEC meeting held at 9.30 a.m. on March 25, 2003 at the PERC... (See Inside)

An unresolved bloody issue
Despite allegations made by the health unions for using expired blood plasma at the National Hospital, Colombo, the Blood Bank and the Ministry of Healthcare strongly deny such allegations stating that it was a false propoganda created by minor health workers who have been facing disciplinary action for certain acts of indiscipline.
Washing their hands off
Contrary to denials by the higher authorities of the health sector, the Chairman of the All Ceylon Health Service Union (ACHSU,) Gamini Kumarasinghe firmly said that the higher authorities are trying to paint a different picture to wash their hands off the situation and find scapegoats.
He added that the authorities have removed the barcode on each packet which carries all the details about the packet. (See Inside)

The darker side
Imagine the plight of underage children, whose job contracts are terminated overnight, for no fault of their own.
Imagine the social stigma that they might have to bear as a result of the ignorance of the society.
The children, who offer their skills without any clue about laws that prevent them from engaging in employment when they are still minor, are exposed to severe threats when this happens.
Besides, if they are the sole breadwinners, then the entire family suffers, as a result of quick action taken on children by the authorities concerned.
One obtrusive case in point was the exposure of Sri Lankan underage children after they were employed by the Indian clothes manufacturers to produce garments. (See Inside)


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Susanthika leads Lankan challenge at Olympics
Sri Lankan Olympic bronze medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe will lead the eight member team to the Beijing Olympics which is scheduled to commence from August 8 in China.
National Olympic Committee (NOC) chairman Hemasiri Fernando said the committee unanimously decided to give the leadership of the contingent to Susanthika who is the only athlete with previous Olympic experience.
She also led the Sri Lanka team to the last Olympics in Athens 2004 as well as the Sydney Olympics in 2000 which was historic when she won a bronze medal in the women’s 200 metres. She was also captain of the Sri Lankan team for the last Asian Games which was held in Qatar in 2006.
With this new appointment Susanthika will get a chance to carry the national flag at... (See Inside)

Point Blank
From the frying pan to the fire

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is heading for a bigger financial crisis than they would imagine unless they sort out the television contract with Taj Television (Ten Sports) amicably. The unlawful termination of the TV contract with Ten Sports by SLC on the orders of the Sports Minister who took this decision based on the report on the 3-member probe committee is bound to have a bigger financial impact on SLC’s dwindling finances if the matter ends up in court. It could lead to implications where SLC could find itself in another legal tangle having to cope up with something much bigger than what they bargained for.
SLC has just come out of a big financial crisis where they had to pay another TV company (Nimbus) as much as Rs. 550 million as damages for unlawful termination of the contract and on top of it a further Rs. 90 million as legal fees. Surely they don’t want another similar case on their hands again which would certainly impede the development... (See Inside)



I won’t return to Parliament, there is much to be done in a Province - Mahipala Herath
Mahipala Herath is the chief ministerial candidate for the Sabragamuwa Province from the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA). A veteran politician, Herath entered Parliament in 1994. In 1999, he was appointed Deputy Minister, Housing and Urban Development. In 2000, he became Minister, Industrial Development. He quit Parliament in 2004, to contest the Provincial Council (PC) election and subsequently, elected as the Sabragamuwa Chief Minister (CM). For Herath, this is his second attempt for the post of CM, Sabragamuwa Province. A confident Herath says he will ‘thrash’ his opponents on August 23. (See Inside)

“If UNP loses, it is the people who will lose”
The entire country was witness to the UPFA government’s victory at the May 10 Eastern Provincial Council election. The state machinery was put to maximum use, which resulted in the UPFA’s win. Government ministers went on record saying that they would pass the exam without sitting for it. The stage is set for a repeat performance even at the August 23 election in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.
United National Party (UNP) firebrand Ravi Karunanayake has already predicted that the government would use its entire machinery to win the August 23... (See Inside)

Politicians promoting wrong development approach- JHU
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) entered mainstream politics riding on the sympathy vote created by the death of late Gangodawila Soma Thera and the growing tide of nationalism. Although they generated a lot of media hype at the beginning, in the recent past they have been strangely silent.
The Nation met Athuraliye Rathana Thera to learn more about this unusual silence on the part of the JHU…
 If they were able to carry out their plans, this country would have lost all its natural resources. Despite all their faults it is Rohana Wijeweera and Prabhakaran that prevented them from carrying out their disastrous policies. They prevented our politicians from destroying all our forests and replacing them with.. (See Inside)

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