UNA still uncertain and Raj’s arrest agitations

  • MoU on UNA to be signed on Nov. 3?
  • Spite of state media towards Gen. Fonseka
  • Tiger leaders panic after Raj’s arrest
  • Rudra gone into hiding?


Full text of speech of General Fonseka in Washington DC
The following is the text of the speech of Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka made at Washington Vihara on October.25.
“This is the first speech of mine in a Temple. If I have made any mistake, please pardon me. I made it abundantly clear to Ven. Dharmasiri Nayake Thero on what happened in the past, and what ought to happen in the future.

When I came to America last time, some of you here must have been there on that occasion too. We gave a solemn promise last year that by 2009 we will finish the war. We are happy that we are here on this occasion after finishing the war. We gave the promise that we will eradicate the terrorists and liberate the country to give the citizens a life of security.

We toiled and sacrificed a lot for this victory. This was not a victory won simply and easily. We sweated a lot. We made a lot of valorous efforts for this. As the Ven. Thero says, some are trying to show that this victory was easily got and share its credit. Those who know how the victory was secured, I think, are only those who participated in the action, as we suffered to earn that victory, specially the Army.

Though I am serving all three Forces now, I will be failing in my duty, if I don’t speak of the supreme sacrifices made by the Army in this victory. 5200 died from the Army and 28,000 were maimed in the course to victory. As a commanding Officer of the Army, we owe a debt to these soldiers. But for their sacrifices, this war would not have been won. During that period about one lakh of recruits joined the Army. If they had not joined, perhaps we would still be in Vavuniya. We couldn’t have progressed further. The people’s support and their blessings were with us. This is why so many joined the Army. Of those recruits, there are 80,000 of them still with us. 20,000 would have gone away without leave. But for such co-operation, however skilful we may be as Army Generals or politicians, this victory could not have been achieved. Even before, we had a need to recruit soldiers, yet not even 3000 soldiers could not be recruited for an year. However, at the right circumstances, 40,000 soldiers joined. I think that was also a great victory.

By this victory, we do not expect to jubilate and celebrate for ever because Prabhakaran died. There was no Prabhakaran earlier. Prabhakaran emerged only 30 years ago. Those Sri Lankans who have forgotten their origins, may forget the amount of toil, sufferings and sacrifices we made during these 30 years. The future generations, I am sure will meet Prabhakarans.

“Hence, I accept what the Nayake Thero said, all must stand united. Building unity is important. If everyone of us contribute to this in their own way honestly from wherever they are, this unity can be achieved and carried forward. If that happens this country can be saved.
“But we can see for ourselves in some instances, some of those in Colombo, have already started speaking as though this victory was won like in a sweep draw. They are also people with responsibilities in the country. If they also understand in the future the difficulties and hardships through which this war was won, it will do a great deal of good.

We will perform our tasks duly in respect of our future duties. Uniformed generals will not always be in uniform. I have been in the Army four years beyond my pension age. But I don’t think everything has been fulfilled. Just because Prabhakaran died, that does not mean there is 100% security in the country.

“The IDPs should be re-settled with the assistance of the Forces making sure that this scourge does not become contagious again. In the people’s refugee camps, there are thousands of terrorists. If only these terrorists are identified and arrested, and the civilians are isolated and re-settled, there can be a certainty and contentment that the war is over.

We must somehow accomplish this. Sometimes, specially people like us may have to remove our uniforms. We cannot wear uniforms forever. However, if there arises a need to come forward to protect the national security, I will not hesitate to give my might.

If there are steps to be taken for the country’s progress and security, as citizens of the country, it is our duty to contribute to them. Instead of talking of the war victory all the time and jubilating, what is important is to think of the country and see what other measures must be taken. Having this in mind, I hope all of you too will continue showing the same concern you displayed during the time of the war. Keep your vigilance and see whether the country is in the right direction, or should it be changed in the right direction. If there is a time of need for security, provide that and be of service to the country.”

The importance of student’s scholarships must be made special mention. I am encouraged by the support and service rendered by you towards this. My appreciation for it. I thank you for providing me this opportunity.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the much publicised United National Alliance of the UNP, SLFP(M), SLMC and the Democratic People’s Front will be held at the Parliamentary complex on November 3, says UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.

The UNP had at the outset announced, that the event was to take place shortly after the Southern PC elections. After several postponements the UNP leadership had announced October 29 as the D-day. According to the latest announcement, the long-looked for day is to dawn on November 3.

According to party insiders, the main reason for the event getting postponed is the mounting opposition to the proposed combine from a large section in both UNP and SLMC. UNP front liners Rukman Senanayake, S.B.Dissanayake, Johnston Fernando and Lakshman Seneviratne have from the very inception taken up the position that that there is no point in forming a political alignment with the People’s Democratic Front which had always been with the UNP, fast declining SLMC and a `three-wheeler party’ like the SLFP (M) of Mangala Samaraweera.

An Executive President for 6 months
Meanwhile, UNP’s Tissa Attanayake told a media briefing last Wednesday that they were engaged in negotiations with 12 other political parties and groupings which are keen on joining the Alliance. He had said that there are several civil organisations including a professional body willing to throw in their lot with the Alliance. However, he had not identified any of these parties or organisations.
The latest coming down the grapevine is that two loyalists have now gone to South India with the horoscopes of Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mangala Samaraweera, to consult a leading astrologer regarding an auspicious time for the signing ceremony.

In terms of the UNA’s Dasa Raja Pratipattiya, the main obligation on the part of the Joint Opposition Presidential candidate in the event of his victory at the poll is to abolish the Executive Presidency within 180 days of his election to make way for an Executive Prime Minister. He is also required to repeal within 30 days Constitutional provisions relating to the immunity from prosecution that the President now enjoys. Ranil Wickremesinghe is to become the Executive Prime Minister after the abolition of the Executive Presidency and the UNA’s successful Presidential candidate would continue as a nominal President.

Media reports on a Ranil –Sarath powwow
It is doubtful whether a person of a national stature would come forward as a Presidential candidate if his high office is to become powerless in six months reducing him to a mere figurehead. Tissa Attanayake has said that the name of the Joint Opposition Presidential candidate would be kept a secret until the Presidential election is officially announced.
Amidst mounting speculation over the possible joint opposition Presidential candidate, Ranil Wickremesinghe left the island last week.
Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Sarath Fonseka left for Washington on October 23.
Meanwhile, a pro-UNO website reported that General Sarath Fonseka had a lengthy discussion with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe when they met in Singapore recently.
However, the UNP Media Unit giving a different version said that Ranil Wickremesinghe in Bangkok had a lengthy chat with General Fonseka in Washington over a satellite phone.
When media personnel questioned Ranil Wickremesinghe about the two contradictory versions at a media briefing last Tuesday, the latter evaded making a clarification.

General Fonseka’s speech
Meanwhile, a pro-UNP website had reported a speech supposed to have been made by General Sarath Fonseka at the Washington Viharaya. The report quoted the General as having said that he was prepared to give up his uniform and rescue the country if he felt it was heading for disaster. The Washington Viharadhipati had lost no time sending a statement to the website refuting the remark attributed to General Fonseka. The website later carried the full text of General Fonseka’s speech, but it did not contain the controversial remark attributed to General Fonseka. The Youtube website is now carrying the video tape containing General Fonseka’s speech.

Spite of state media
It is no secret that a section of state media has been spiteful towards General Fonseka through certain acts of commission and omission. Some events he had participated in as well as his speeches have been blacked out. Pressures have been brought on newspaper managements to remove journalists who had been in close contact with General Fonseka. Certain stupid self-appointed advisors ( Kevattayas) in places like the Media Centre for National Security are responsible for this type of acts of indiscretion, say informed government sources. They say that the Opposition has got an opportunity to champion General Fonseka thanks to the stupidity of these Kavattayas.

Secret behind promoting Gen. Fonseka
UNP seniors like Rukman Senanayake and Sajith Premadasa publicly say that the UNP should field Ranil Wickremesinghe as the party’s Presidential candidate. Ranil Wickremesinghe himself has not so far said that he is not coming forward as the party’s Presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Tissa Attanayake and Mangala Samaraweera are trying to keep the talk about a Joint Opposition Presidential candidate alive in the public domain. The strategy that seems to have been planned by Mangala and Ranil is to introduce into the Presidential race a popular person like General Fonseka capable of eroding the Sinhala vote base of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, while Ranil Wickremesinghe himself is in the fray. According to their calculation, Ranil can romp home when there is a split in the Sinhala majority vote, say political analysts.

S.B. a Presidential hopeful
Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganesan making a strong objection to fielding General Sarath Fonseka as the Joint Opposition Presidential candidate, has threatened to quit the alliance on this issue. UNP National Organiser ever hopeful S.B. Dissanayake is aspiring to be the UNP Presidential candidate if Ranil decides to step down. He says that he is confident of mustering the majority of the Sinhala and minority vote to win the election.

Maitripala expresses his viewpoint
“The Common Opposition candidate should mean a candidate representing all opposition parties. Have they picked such a candidate?” asks SLFP General Secretary Maitripala Sirisena. He adds:” People like Vasudeva and Wickramabahu Karunaratne too may come forward. At a time when the SLFP was very weak - during the regimes of J.R. Jayewardena and Ranasinghe Premadasa, we also held negotiations to field a Common Opposition candidate. But our attempt failed. We at that time, thought of fielding a common candidate because it was quite apparent that we could not win. The UNP is also planning to field a common candidate because they are certain that they would not win.”

Tamil- Muslim alliance in the making
The initiative taken by the SLMC and the People’s Democratic Front to forge a political combine of Tamil-speaking Tamil and Muslim parties, while being the virtual constituents of the UNP-led United National Alliance (UNA,) has become a moot point in political circles.
A round of discussion on the formation of the proposed Tamil-Muslim alliance was held at the Renuka hotel, Colombo last Wednesday.

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem, TNA leader R. Sampanthan, TULF leader V. Anandasangaree, PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Siddharthan, Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganesan and a leader from the Sritharan wing of the EPRLF had participated in the talks.
Resettling of displaced Tamils and Muslims in the North, issues relating to the land alienation in the East, and a roadmap for Tamil and Muslim political parties, are among the eight topics that had figured in the talks at this meeting.

The first round of discussion on the proposed Tamil-Muslim alliance was held at the Kollupitiya residence of SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem on October 3. The participants at this meeting decided to invite the absentee-Tamil parties to the next meeting. “Six parties were represented at the second round of discussions. It was a great success,” an SLMC spokesman said. “We are meeting again on November 3. We hope to arrive at a consensus on all basic matters on this occasion and forge our alliance. We hope to announce policies and the plan of action at a media briefing to be held soon after,” the spokesman added.

Tiger leaders, activists agitated
The arrest of Galleon Hedge Fund manager Sri Lankan born- billionaire Raja Rajaratnam by FBI investigators over the massive insider trading scam, has thrown LTTE leaders and activists in the US and other countries into a spin.
Rajaratnam has not only heavily funded the LTTE, but also played a lead role in securing international recognition for the terrorist outfit. It was V.Rudrakumaran, an attorney at law now domiciled in the US who took the initiative to establish the so called Transnational Tamil State of Eelam – a Tiger government in exile, soon after decimation of the LTTE with their leadership. The chief legal advisor of the LTTE Rudrakumaran had been a member of Tiger delegations that talked peace with the Sri Lankan government on a number of occasions. After the death of Prabhakaran and other Tiger leaders, Rudrakumaran set up the Transnational State of Tamil Eelam as the rallying point for Tiger activists scattered the world over. He has openly represented the LTTE internationally. It was Rudrakumaran who led a delegation of representatives from 16 pro-LTTE organisations in the States that met US Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs Robert O Blake to complain that Sri Lankan government was violating human rights.

Rudrakumaran gone into hiding?
Rudrakumaran who was so much in the public eye has allegedly gone underground since the arrest of Raj Rajaratnam by the FBI investigators. The reason is obvious. He had been a close associate of Rajaratnam.The other Tiger leaders and activists in the States too are maintaining a low profile. A number of Tiger websites too are closed.
Being the LTTE’s chief legal advisor, he represented the interests of Tiger activists in court cases in the States on numerous occasions. However, interestingly, Rudrakumaran has not appeared for Raj Rajaratnam in the bourse scam case. Surprisingly, the Tiger website, Tamil Net has failed so far to report anything about the arrest of Raj Rajaratnam.

Funding LTTE an offence in US
It is an offence to aid and abet on the American soil any terrorist outfit proscribed in the US. It has transpired during investigations that Rajaratnam had donated US $ 5 million to the Tiger front TRO. Therefore, he is also facing prosecution for indirectly funding the LTTE.
Meanwhile, a group of Sri Lankans in the US has filed 30 cases against Rajaratnam in a law court in New Jersey citing him as an accessory to the killing of their family members and relations In Sri Lanka by the LTTE. They have in their plaints pointed out Rajaratnam should be held partly responsible for the killings as a person who had aided and abetted the LTTE. A statement made by LTTE’s International Coordinator Kumaran Padmanathan alias KP, to the effect that Rajaratnam had funded the LTTE would no doubt, serve as strong evidence in support of the charge against Rajaratnam in the cases filed by Sri Lankans in the New Jersey court.
Investments in the bourse
Legal experts point out that the Sri Lankan government will be able under the Terrorism Prevention Act to confiscate a record Rs.13 billion invested by Rajaratnam here in the event of New Jersey court finding him guilty of funding the LTTE.

Court restricts Raj’s mobility
Rajaratnam now enlarged on a bail bond of US $ 100 million is prohibited from travelling a distance exceeding 170 kilo meters from New York. Besides, FBI investigators can monitor his movements from signals coming from an electronic ring put on his leg.
Meanwhile, Rajaratnam’s Counsel has made an appeal that the value of the security bond imposed on him be reduced to US $ 25 million from US $ 100 million. There is anticipation that the names of some businessmen and politicians who had had dealings with Rajaratnam would transpire in the course of the proceedings of the scam case against him.

SLFP’s National Convention
Arrangements are now underway to hold the SLFP National Convention at the Khettarama stadium on November 15.
Two hundred and fifty delegates from each electoral division in the country are expected to participate in the convention. “This means that the total number of delegates would be something between 50,000 and 55, 000,” SLFP General Secretary Minister Maitripala Sirisena said.
Minister Sirisena said that at this convention where a series of far reaching decisions are to be taken, President Rajapaksa will announce which of the two impending national elections is to come first.
According to Temple Trees sources, President Rajapaksa is now meeting representatives from SLFP and UPFA organisations to seek their view as to which national election should come first. Most of them have told him to hold the Presidential election first.

Common candidate talk, a ploy?
Meanwhile, some government strongmen feel that the propaganda now being carried out by the UNP and the JVP saying that plans are underway to field a Common Opposition Presidential candidate, is nothing but a ploy to induce the government to hold the General Parliamentary elections first.
“We are not at all concerned about the opposition gimmicks. We are prepared to face any national election at any time. In fact, we are planning to launch our election campaign soon after the November 15 national convention,” said Minister Maitripala Sirisena.