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  Politics  


LTTE’s arms procurer KP in limelight again
  • Government pursuing action to confiscate LTTE assets
  • Ranil follows ‘hate politics
  • Opposition mounts smear campaign
  • General Fonseka makes a hasty flight to India
Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan who is also known as KP who had been in charge of arms procurement and foreign enterprises of the vanquished LTTE has again become a main moot point in political circles these days.

KP who was arrested in Malaysia about three months ago is now being held by security authorities under tight security. Vital information relating to the LTTE’s international links, its business ventures and foreign assets is being ferreted out of him by CID sleuths who are interrogating him.
Security authorities were able to arrest a former Eastern province military leader Ram and several other hardcore terrorists thanks to information obtained during the interrogations.

KP was out of limelight for sometime and as a result nothing was reported about him in the Press either. However, KP came back into public focus when Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe made a serious allegation against President Mahinda Rajapaksa while making a reference to KP during his speech at the `Nidahase Vedikawa’ (‘Freedom’s Forum’) held in Matara recently. This was a personal attack which went beyond the political dimensions.

Following is an excerpt from the speech made by Ranil Wickremesinghe as reported by The Daily Lankadeepa on December 3, Thursday.
“President Mahinda Rajapaksa should take immediate action to transfer to the public ownership of all foreign enterprises and monies lying to the credit of the LTTE in foregn bank accounts uncovered so far.
“I challenge President Rajapaksa to disclose to the public, information relating to all foreign monies and assets of the LTTE recovered by the government

“People question as to what has become of the monies and the enterprises held by the LTTE. Despite KP being in the custody of the authorities for about three months, nobody seems to know what has become of his foreign assets and monies. What happened to the massive amount of money recovered from the possession of the LTTE? Why cannot these monies be repatriated? These monies belong to the people.
“Why doesn’t the government take legal action against KP? KP is being held in a posh residence under security providing him with super foods and drinks. The government has provided opportunities for him to freely meet his friends, girl friends in particular.

“Now that KP is in the custody of security authorities, who is now collecting the turnovers from the LTTE’s foreign business establishments such as fuel filling stations? Have the massive proceeds from all these business ventures been transferred to some bank account held by KP? If so, what is the bank that holds this account? Is this massive amount of money going into the hands of a third party through KP?
“In Los Angeles itself there are three fuel filling stations belonging to the LTTE. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa knows that. All are silent about the LTTE’s foreign businesses, monies and other assets which have already been bared. (Meanwhile) KP ‘lives’ in royal comfort!

“What would a genuine a Central Bank Governor or a Secretary to the General Secretary do in a situation like this is to request for the immediate release of the massive amount of monies recovered from the LTTE to meet the financial commitments of the country. But these two are doing nothing.”
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe making serious allegations against the government. According to The Lankadeepa report also had said: “This government which calls itself `patriotic’ has filled the family coffers with the massive amount of money which once belonged to the LTTE, without handing it over to the general treasury to utilise it to provide some relief to the people.”

He had added: “ I am making the charge that they had finally split up in equal portions the booty seized from the LTTE with KP (Kumaran Pathmanathan) whom they called the biggest traitor.”
Incidentally, on the day Ranil Wickremesinghe made these serious statements, national English daily had reported that three ships belonging to the LTTE, registered under KP’s name which had been confiscated by the government, were being brought to the country. The same news story said that the AG was taking action to confiscate deposits in 600 bank accounts held by the LTTE under KP’s name.

Government spokesman for National Defence Keheliya Rambukwella disclosed at a media briefing held last Wednesday that the government is pursuing action to confiscate all LTTE assets held in foreign countries following information revealed by KP now held in government custody. Minister Rambukwella explained that it is no easy task to confiscate the LTTE funds held in bank deposits abroad as most banks are not willing to divulge information about the bank accounts of their customers. “However, the AG is pursuing action in this regard. Government has succeeded in getting repatriated three of the 10 ships owned by the LTTE,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj had stated in his website that the Sri Lankan government is trying to obtain KP’s signature under duress to secure the transfer of the LTTE assets to itself, but the surviving LTTE leaders such as Rudrakumaran and Thethiwan as well as the Tamil diaspora are keeping quiet.

Kumaran Pathmanathan widely known as KP is the only LTTE leader privy to assets and business ventures of the international LTTE network. It has transpired that the LTTE has been maintaining over 1,500 accounts in banks in various countries and 600 of them are registered under KP’s name.
KP was arrested only about three months ago. Even a person with a little bit of knowledge about the law would understand that investigations into LTTE assets scattered over far-flung parts of the world cannot be wrapped up in such a brief period.

Ranil’s insinuations only for Sinhala readers?
One cannot expect Ranil Wickremesinghe to be blind to the truth, when he makes his allegations against the government and the President. His statements only show that he is pursuing `hate’ politics. He is obviously slinging mud at the government, possibly because he has got no ammunition to use against the government from a policy platform.

Was Ranil Wickremesinghe not insinuating by the statements he made during his recent speech in Matara that KP has been induced by providing him with every imaginable comfort to share with the Rajapaksa family the LTTE assets and their monies held in foreign bank accounts?
Ranil Wickremesinghe is trying to put across the message that the Rajapaksa family is amassing wealth through illegal means and family bandysm is gaining ground. Ordinary people may believe his allegations as they are coming from the leader of the opposition, assuming, of course, that he has got his facts right. However, Ranil Wickremesinghe does not make this type of accusations at gatherings of the upper middle class which mostly consists of English-educated people. The UNP Media Unit also makes it a point to send his speeches containing this type of accusations only to the Sinhala Press. Because they think that Sinhala-reading public would believe these accusations highlighted in full page coverage. They know there is no purpose in getting their allegations published in English newspapers because they know that the English readers would take such allegations with a pinch of salt.

Ranil’s previous allegations
Readers may recall that Ranil Wickremesinghe on a previous occasion made a big noise saying that the Central Bank was planning to sell part of its gold reserve to a company in Dubai. But such a transaction never took place. However, neither the UNP nor any pro-UNP economist cared to make any comment when the government recently purchased 10 tons of gold from the IMF.

Who purchased the previous premises of the Australian High Commission?
Addressing the recent Sirikotha ceremony held to mark the presentation of UNP membership to Wijedasa Rajapaksha, Ranil Wickremesinghe paid a backhanded compliment to the newcomer to the party fold, saying that the latter is not the type who would purchase a prime land in the city like the premises where the Australian High Commission was earlier located. Was he not saying by innuendo that this property was purchased by the Rajapaksa family? The fact that certain businessman had purchased this property is no secret to the entire country, because this transaction received wide publicity in the Press. However, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s attempt was to foist this transaction too on President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Transfer of Apollo hospital ownership
Another rumour making rounds in the country these days is that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had purchased the Apollo Hospital in Colombo. SMS messages and websites had added wings to this rumour.
The Apollo Hospital once belonged to Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation owned by Harry Jayawardena. However, the government took over the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation along with its Apollo Hospital following a court decision. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is the Chairman of the new Board of Directors appointed following the take over. The UNP has distorted this reality to sling mud at the government.

Meanwhile, the UNP propaganda machine has churned out another rumour that the Rajapaksa family has purchased a certain motor car manufacturing company
The objective of the UNP is obviously to create a public opinion that the government is fostering family bandysm while resorting to exploiting the state property to amass wealth.
They are taking the advantage of the gullibility of some people.

Flashback to UNP’s 1977 campaign
The UNP carried out a similar smear campaign in 1977. They distributed a booklet of cartoons called `Family Tree’ to show that Prime Minister Sirimavo Banadaranaike had appointed persons from her family circle to high positions under her government. The UNP also had mobilised rumour mongers too throughout the country to slander that government.
The UNP had mobilised such rumour mongering teams in the recent past too. It is making use of SMS messages and several websites as well to slander the government. These websites for example, carry stories to say that there are clashes between the government and security forces commanders, some Minister have turned against the President and they are waiting for the opportune moment to cross over to the opposition. These websites have been attacking even anti-Ranil UNP rebels like S.B.Dissanayake, Lakshman Seneviratne, Johnston Fernando, Sajith Premadasa and Ms. Talatha Atukorale.

President alive to slander campaign
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is quite alive to the slander campaign being carried out by the UNP-led opposition and the media sympathetic to them. Last week the President hosted a party to heads of media institutions and war correspondents at Colombo Hilton. Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga too participated. During the cordial chat he had with the journalists, the President referred to the smear campaign being mounted by the Opposition against him. He said: “Whenever they happen to see a large coconut plantation, they would say, Rajapaksas have bought this now.” They have been saying Gotabhaya bought the Apollo Hospital and Chamal had bought the Intercontinental. They would say we have bought the Hotel Ranmal, Matara Lalitha Hotel, Chandrika’s Colombo bungalow and half what Kotelawala had inherited. They set the rumors afloat in buses and trains. They are also using SMS messages and e-mail to spread their vicious rumours. These are well-planned activity.”

The two main candidates kick off their campaigns
Nominations for Presidential election are due to close on December 17. Meanwhile, the two main candidates, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the common opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka have already unofficially kicked off their election propaganda campaigns.
President Rajapaksa last Monday paid homage to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and obtained the blessings of the Maha Sangha.
Common opposition candidate General Fonseka too launched his campaign after paying homage to Sri Dalada and calling on the Mahanayake Theras of Asgiriya and Malwatte chapters.
The election campaign of President Rajapaksa got underway on November 24 with the UPFA activists distributing propaganda leaflets in all cities and main towns in the country. The propaganda leaflets are still being distributed to people at district and village levels.

JVP takes over flank of General’s propaganda campaign
The JVP has already come to the forefront of the propaganda campaign of General Fonseka putting up all over the country a large poster which reads: `Rata Rekumata SF Meheyuma Sudanam’ ( SF operation to protect the country is ready). They also held a public rally in support of General Fonseka at Hyde Park on November 30.

Tamil, Muslim parties to decide on their role
The SLMC held a special convention of the party at Samanthurai last Sunday to decide on their stand in regard to the Presidential election. A proposal that came up at the convention to support the candidature of the common opposition candidate General Fonseka triggered a heated discussion with many taking the floor to argue for and against it. The members later decided to leave the party’s decision to the discretion of the party leader. Rauff Hakeem.has accordingly, decided to back the common opposition candidate General Fonseka.
However, the Tamil parties in the North are still in a state of indecision over their role at the Presidential election. PLOTE leader D. Sitharthan has reportedly decided to throw in their lot with President Rajapaksa.

The TNA which is still mulling over their stand is reportedly vacillating between three main options which have emerged from protracted discussions. One of them is a proposal to field a common Tamil candidate. Another group opposed to this proposal, according to informed sources, argues that the General and the President are really the two sides of the same coin and they should be looked on as enemies of the Tamil people. The best option according to this group is boycotting the election without backing either candidate. There is still another group within the TNA which says that they should join forces with President Rajapaksa at this election. Suresh Premachandran is the protagonist of the proposal that the TNA field a candidate of their own. “We hope to arrive at a hard decision by next Tuesday,” a TNA Parliamentarian said.
Meanwhile, both the UPFA and the UNF are due to hold talks with the TNA next week to woo their support.
The Democratic People’s Front has decided to extend conditional support to the common opposition candidate, says its leader Mano Ganesan

Controversial statements by the General
Certain statements General Fonseka made while fielding questions by journalists at his last Sunday’s maiden Press briefing have become hotly debated talking points in political circles now.
For example, his statement that terrorism could not be successfully combated despite the commitment of successive Heads of State due to shortcomings in the armed forces at particular times has created a stir both in military and political circles. Those taking exception to this statement point out that it was former President J.R.Jayewardene who ordered a halt to the decisive Wadamaratchi operation, giving in to pressures from India and the armed forces should not be faulted for this setback. They also remind General Fonseka that when he was the Jaffna commander in 2000 he had to confine the troops to camps on orders from former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Replying to a question by a journalist, General Fonseka told the Sunday’ s briefing that he proposed to implement the economic policies of the UNF. And now National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa asks the JVP leaders to tell the country their reaction to this statement given the JVP’s lead role in the General’s election campaign. The JVP leaders, however, had studiously avoided making any reference to General Fonseka’s statement at their propaganda rally last Monday and at the media briefings held later.
Both the UNF and the JVP are reportedly not happy with General Fonseka’s showing at his maiden Press briefing held at Hotel Jaic Hilton last Sunday.

Last Saturday, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tissa Attanayake, Rauff Hakeem and Mangala Samaraweera who called on General Fonseka at his office, had briefed him on what he should tell the media and how he should field questions by journalists. Being aware of the General’s temper, his political mentors had advised him to keep his cool under all circumstances. Though the General had faithfully followed most instructions, they are not satisfied with the way he had answered certain questions. Therefore, the UNF and JVP leaders Ranil, Anura Kumara, Mangala and Hakeem have decided to restrict the General’s media briefings to 45 minutes and his public speeches to 10 minutes.

Joint UNP-JVP propaganda rallies
According to UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, the UNF and the JVP have decided to hold 15 joint propaganda rallies in support of General Fonseka. In addition, the UNF and the JVP will hold a series of separate propaganda rallies. The UNF and the JVP also have decided to coordinate their propaganda activity.
However, JVP Parliamentarian Lal Kantha said last week, “We have no truck with the UNP.

All our dealings are with General Fonseka.”
India’s apprehensions
It is no secret that India is anxiously monitoring the political developments here ever since General Fonseka’s entry into the fray, given the possibility of political changes taking place here making a ripple effect on that country. According to diplomatic sources, India is closely studying the political developments taking place here in the wake of two political parties poles apart ideologically coming together to sponsor a newcomer like General Sarath Fonseka, say diplomatic sources.

Meanwhile, General Fonseka on a request by the Indian government left for New Delhi last Wednesday night. India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Ashok Kanth who conveyed the message of the Indian government flew to New Delhi the following day. General Fonseka was due to meet several top Indian officials like India’s National Defence Advisor M.K.Narayanan during his visit. He was to visit Buddha Gaya as well. The General was due back home yesterday. Details relating to his sudden visit to New Delhi were not available at the time of writing this column.

Ranil having second thoughts about premiership?
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake now says that his party leader Ranil Wickrtemesinghe will not accept the Premiership of a caretaker government to be formed in the event of General Fonseka winning the Presidential election. Ranil had said earlier that he would be the Prime Minister in the caretaker government to be formed after General Fonseka’s victory. He has had second thoughts following strong objections made by several JVP leaders including Lal Kantha to the UNP leader’s publicly announced intention.

According to Tissa Attanayake, Ranil Wickremesinghe will automatically become the Prime Minister following a general Parliamentary election. as he will certainly command the majority in Parliament. Meanwhile, Anura Kumara Dissanayake had told media that his party would have no objection to appointing the leader of the party with a majority of seats in Parliament as the Prime Minister. General Fonseka had announced that he would offer Ministerial portfolios to both JVP and the TNA in a government he would form after being elected President.