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Politics

 


The Executive Committee of the Council for Sri Lanka-Palestine Solidarity met at Temple Trees last Tuesday. The President who hosted the Committee members to dinner discussed the topical political issues with them for more than one hour. During this discussion, the President explained to them the harm caused to polity in general, as a result of the failure on the part of the main stream political parties to provide opportunities for the youth to get a suitable grounding for leadership. LSSP and CP failed to provide space for youth to come up the ladder. Their myopic attitude contributed towards the advent of the JVP. The same situation prevailed in our party for a long time. Some Ministers tried to suppress the budding youth leaders in their areas, said President Rajapaksa. He vowed to put an end to this trend

The government coalition UPFA has, as it did in Uva, picked a host of new faces including educated youth, artistes and young professionals to contest the upcoming elections to the Southern Provincial Council, nominations for which closed last Friday.

It had been a long standing practice for the SLFP, UNP, LSSP and CP to field the same teams of candidates over and over again at successive elections. Despite these candidates being party seniors, they have been too conventional in their outlook and had therefore failed to keep abreast with the advancing world. They were not innovative in their approach to issues. Furthermore, most of them had outlived their acceptance among the people as well.

However, the government’s decision to enlist the participation of youth in development and political activity in keeping with `Mahinda Chintana’, paved the way for a large number of youth to come forward to contest the recent Local government and PC elections.

At the time President Mahinda Rajapaksa took over the reins of government, he had only a few experienced and efficient Cabinet Ministers to work with. Many of them were party seniors, but they fell short of standards required to espouse the country’s cause in regard to economic and management matters at an international level. UNP dissidents who turned ministers, such as Dr Sarath Amunugama, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Milinda Moragoda, G.L. Peiris, Keheliya Rambukwella, and Rajitha Senaratne, have become prominent figures in the government thanks to skills and capabilities they have demonstrated.
President Mahinda Rapapaksa has taken steps to train the party youth for the second rung leadership of the SLFP, to prevent a possible shortfall in leadership talent in the future.

Ex-Co of Council for Sri Lanka- Palestine Solidarity

The Executive Committee of the Council for Sri Lanka- Palestine Solidarity met at Temple Trees last Tuesday. The President who hosted the Committee members to dinner discussed the topical political issues with them for more than one hour.
During this discussion, the President explained to them the harm caused to polity in general, as a result of the failure on the part of the main stream political parties to provide opportunities for the youth to get a suitable grounding for leadership. LSSP and CP failed to provide space for youth to come up the ladder. Their myopic attitude contributed towards the advent of the JVP. The same situation prevailed in our party for a long time. Some Ministers tried to suppress the budding youth leaders in their areas, said President Rajapaksa. He vowed to put an end to this trend.

“I have already taken the initiative to halt this trend,” the President continued. “I offered the chairmanships and vice chairmanships of Pradeshiya Sabhas to party’s youth leaders who topped the preference votes lists. Some Ministers wanted to make their friends low down on the lists, chairmen of some Pradeshiya Sabhas. I didn’t allow room for their attempts to succeed. About 70 youth leaders have now become heads of Pradeshiya Sabhas thanks to my intervention.”

The President also said that he gave an opportunity to educated youth, artistes and war heroes at the PC elections, and they could now vie for Parliament by demonstrating their capabilities.

Labour Minister Athauda Seneviratne and former UNP Minister and UNP Executive Committee member Imitiaz Bakeer Markar, are the co-chairmen of the Council for Sri Lanka–Palestine Solidarity. However, Imitiaz was conspicuous by his absence at this meeting.

Cabinet paper on EPF loans

Minister Seneviratne has submitted a Cabinet paper seeking approval for granting to EPF contributors a loan not exceeding 30 percent of the monies lying to their credit. The Minister had given wide publicity to this proposal through media. The President at the Temple Trees meeting questioned the Minister about the properness of publicizing the contents of a Cabinet paper. “Very often the EPF happens to be the only asset the private sector employees can fall back upon on retirement. Do you think they would ever repay this loan before they retire? This means the refund they would receive on retirement would be 30 percent less!” the President pointed out. “On the other hand,” he continued, “we often borrow money from the EPF to meet government expenditure. I prosecuted the war on borrowings. We have to pay for military hardware we purchased. Meanwhile, we have to raise funds to carry out development. We need money to construct harbours, power plants, roads, schools, bridges etc. What would become of the EPF if this 30 percent loan scheme is allowed to get going? There are millions of EPF members. What would be the fate of the EPF if all members sought this loan at the same time? Wouldn’t there be a run on the EPF? In such an eventuality would the government be able to borrow money from it?

“If you present this type of Cabinet papers and give them wide media publicity, what would be the outcome when the proposals are not implemented? You would say that the proposals could not be implemented because the President was in the way! So I would become the villain! This type of proposals should be presented only after carefully weighing pros and cons,” President Rajapaksa told Minister Seneviratne.

Anti-Sri Lanka propaganda by Western media

When the humanitarian operations in the North were underway, the Western Media had mounted a vicious propaganda blitz on a global scale to tarnish the image of the government. Their main allegation was that the government was violating human rights. Three months have passed since the ending of the war, but the Western Media has not stopped their vilifying campaign.

BBC’s Channel 4 recently televised a video footage showing what was described as a soldier aiming at a person blind-folded and stripped naked during the war in the North. This footage included certain scenes that appeared on the pro-LTTE Tamilnet as well. Channel 4 had described the scenes it had aired as those captured by a soldier on his mobile phone camera, and the entire footage was supplied by a media organisation called: `Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka’.

However, none can say for certain that the `soldier’ shown is one belonging to the Sri Lanka Army. The soldier in the offending scene is shown with his back turned to the camera. So it could be a picture taken in an African or Latin American country.
A section of Western media like London Times and The Guardian gave wide publicity to this video footage, which was held out as evidence that the Sri Lankan Army had violated the UN Charter on Human Rights in respect of prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation into human rights violations based on the video footage. Pro-LTTE Tamil Nadu politician Vaiko too is using this video footage as a weapon to attack the government of Sri Lanka.

However, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London, Nihal Jayasinghe has lost no time in taking action to refute this allegation. In an interview given to BBC, he had described the footage as a frame-up meant to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka. He had asked whether any one could prove that the scenes were those taken in Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka also issued a strong statement refuting the atrocity attributed to the Sri Lankan Army by Channel 4.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Cabinet spokesman Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, also strongly condemned the misinformation campaign being carried out by Western media to destroy the image of Sri Lanka abroad.
Why Channel 4 has turned hostile
It is well known that Channel 4 TV is out to denigrate the Sri Lanka Army and the government at every turn, ever since a team of their media personnel was deported from the country.

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka which is said to have supplied the fake video tape to Channel 4, is known to be an organisation formed by a group of self-styled journalists from Sri Lanka who had skipped the country for various reasons. The former convener of the Free Media Movement (FMM) Sunanda Deshapriya who held a brief for the LTTE, while charging that Sri Lankan security forces were violating the human rights of Tamil people in the North at the UN Human Rights Council session held in Geneva.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan organisation based in Paris, has informed the local media that the leaders of this organisation at a rendezvous held in France, had decided to give worldwide publicity to the offending video tape and to carry out with new vigour their propaganda campaign to sully the reputation of the Government of Sri Lanka by accusing it of violating human rights and suppressing human rights.

The Sri Lankan organisation in Paris has also said that these so called journalists have formed `Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka’ to secure funds from countries in the West sympathetic to the LTTE.
The EU member countries are due to meet shortly to re-consider extending the GSP + facility for Sri Lankan garments exports. The EU had deferred granting this concession because of LTTE propaganda that Sri Lanka was violating the human rights of Tamil people. Later the EU extended this facility on a temporary basis. These countries are to meet again to consider the extension of the concession for a further period. It is the view of political analysts, that the Western media including Channel 4 has started slinging mud at the government of Sri Lanka with the objective of preventing the extension of the GSP + concession to Sri Lanka.

We may recall here that a number of pro-LTTE countries, when negotiations were underway in respect of Sri Lanka’ s application for the US $ 2.5 billion stand- by loan facility, were taking up cudgels against Sri Lanka over the issue of human rights.

UPFA looks to 65 % vote in South

Receiving of nominations for the Southern PC polls closed last Friday. The UPFA is confident of registering an excellent showing at these elections as well.
According to UPFA leaders, the military victory in the North, and the South being the political base of the Rajapaksa family, as well as the Southern expressway and Hambantota harbour now under construction, and the proposed international airport in Hambantota, are the major factors that would contribute towards a resounding victory for the government coalition. Despite being in the fray, the main government rival UNP has not so far claimed that they could emerge victorious in the South. UNP national organiser S.B.Dissanayake in an interview with a National English Daily, had in a candid admission conceded his party’s defeat in the South. Tissa Attanayake and Sajith Premadasa too had indirectly conceded defeat saying that they would win if a free and fair election were held.

President Rajapaksa hopes to record the biggest ever PC poll victory at the Southern PC poll so that it would serve as the auspicious precursor to the Presidential poll expected to be held in January next year. A highlight of the Southern PC election is the absence of a duly designated Chief Ministerial candidate from both the UPFA and the UNP. Both parties have, however, appointed district leaders to head their respective teams.

The JVP too is fielding candidates in all the three districts. Meanwhile, they have set their hopes of a win in the Hambantota district. They believe that the people of Hambantota would support them for two reasons: Tissamahara Pradeshiya Sabha is held by them and the party’s founder leader the late Rohana Wijeweera’s birthplace is Tanagalle in Hambantota district. The two main parties each have entrusted the operation of electioneering machinery to a committee comprising party seniors.
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is heading the UPFA’s electioneering committee and Karu Jayasuriya the UNP’s.

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