Monthly Archives: June 2006
UNP urges govt. to unite on middle path
The government should cast aside the JVP and the JHU and join hands with the UNP if it was serious about solving the national question, the UNP said.
Party frontliner and parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne told a news conference the present security crisis in the country was the result of the government’s ‘congenital disease’ contracted after it joined these two extremist parties.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was finding it difficult to find solutions to this vital question due to these ‘war mongers’ and urged the government to get rid of them as soon as possible.
"The government has produced a physically-handicapped baby by marrying the JVP and the JHU. If it is to produce a healthy baby, they should divorce this unholy alliance and marry the UNP," he said.
He said the UNP’s presence in the proposed All Party Advisory Council would not serve the intended purpose as the government did not have a clear-cut policy on the issue.
He said the slain Lieut. General Parami Kulatunga was virtually acting as the Army Commander in the absence of Army Chief Sarath Fonseka who is undergoing medical treatment.
Dr. Senaratne said Wimal Weerawansa wages only a verbal war and the government could not tackle a real war through such verbal attacks.
He said the JVP insurrections in 1971 and 1989 ended its utter failures and therefore its military advice would further endanger the country should war breaks out.
"The President has unwittingly admitted the government’s association with the Karuna faction, by claiming to disarm the group if the LTTE agrees for direct negotiations. He has revealed it to the entire world now," he said. -Daily Mirror By Kelum Bandara
Partymen surround President Mahinda Rajapakse after his appointment as the SLFP leader. Pic by Sudath Silva
President Mahinda Rajapakse Wednesday emphasised that the decision to amend the SLFP Constitution, thereby paving the way for him to take over the leadership, was not a decision against his predecessor Chandrika Kumaratunga. He declared that this was the second mandate he received to defeat terrorism.
The change of SLFP leadership takes place in the backdrop of the LTTE stepping up attacks, resulting in considerable losses of men and material on both sides.
The Amendments would automatically make the President the leader of the party. The party also created posts for four senior Vice Presidents, 10 Vice Presidents, General Secretary, National organizer, eight deputy Secretaries and Treasurer
Addressing the SLFP executive committee, at the auditorium of the Petroleum Corporation, adjoining Temple Trees, after the executive committee ratified a Central Committee decision, taken on the previous day, Rajapakse acknowledged that the change of leadership coincided with Kumaratunga’s birthday. "We never planned to effect the leadership change on her birthday," he said. The President expressed the belief that the executive committee members would not believe that the party arranged the take-over process to coincide Kumaratunga’s birthday. He urged party seniors not to believe in UNP propaganda. He cautioned the party against what he termed as political dead ropes given by the UNP.
Ministers Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Anura Bandaranaike and SLFP Treasurer Mangala Samaraweera were notable absentees.
Recalling the then party leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike giving him the responsibility of the Beliatta electorate, Rajapakse reiterated his commitment to party and the Bandaranaikes. He claimed that he hesitated to take over the leadership due to his loyalty to the Bandaranaikes. "We will not forget their sacrifices. Prime Minister Bandaranaike, Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga courageously led the party," he said. He emphasized Chandrika Kumaratunga’s role in reviving the party ultimately leading to their return to power in August 1994. "Had it not been for the perseverance of Kumaratunga in 1994, the party could not have been extricated out of the quagmire it was in, since 1977."
Rajapakse said that the Amendment was meant to strengthen the party thereby paving the way for a 50-year coalition rule. The President pointed out the absurdity in not having the party under his control even after securing the presidency. "There were practical difficulties," he said, adding, "you would face the same problem if I held on to the post after the end of my tenure as the President. Think about that." Rajapakse assured that he would quit the leadership of the party simultaneously with leaving the presidency. He also assured that the competent and honest people would always be able to secure any post in the party.
Claiming that he was troubled by the new responsibility, Rajapakse acknowledged that the change would have troubled Messrs Anura Bandaranaike, Maithripala Sirisena and Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.
Island by Shamindra Ferdinando and Franklin R. Satyapalan
Rise in per-capita income will have no impact on
soft financing as long as poverty stays same
Despite the growth of its per capita income to US $ 1,100/- (plus) the World Bank yesterday assured that Sri Lanka will continue to have access to soft funding for the next 4 -5 years.
The World Bank’s outgoing Country Director Peter Harrold yesterday introducing the new Country Director Ms. Naoko Ishii to the media said that the sudden increase in per capita income will not prevent Sri Lanka receiving financial facilities in the future.
"We don’t graduate countries immediately for such credit worthiness. The present situation here is not stable. Sri Lanka will continue to have soft access for the next few years. However, if per capita income increases, we will slowly reduce the support. It is a well-known fact that despite the growing per capita income the number of poor doesn’t reduce. Per capita income has increased by 40 per cent although the number of poor fell by 3 per cent only," he said.
The World Bank also warned that Sri Lanka would soon experience financial difficulties commonly seen in other war-torn nations unless a fast and effective solution is found. "We hope that the ongoing deterioration in all aspects stops immediately, unless the consequences will be really bad and would be what you see in other war zones. When it comes to Sri Lanka and its development the World Bank whould be careful about what it should do and what it should not," he added.
Ceylinco Stock Brokers (Pvt.) Ltd. Head of Research and Economist Inti Mohammed told The Island Financial Review that stringent measures should be taken to check negative impact in the future. "Despite of Sri Lanka’s commendable growth rates in terms of GDP and GDP per capita, which now stands above 1100 in US dollar terms, there are still compounding macro economic issues that the policy makers need to address. The skewed distribution of wealth, continuing current account deficit despite the remittances of Sri Lankans working overseas mostly in the Middle East, lack of reserves to stabilize the Rupee Vs. US $ on a long-term basis thrusts negative impact on the GDP growth rate. These issues need to be addressed if Sri Lanka is to make any momentous gains in GDP growth rate in the future," he said.
Outgoing Country Director Peter Harrold also stated that the JVP and JHU have misunderstandings with regards to World Bank and its operations in Sri Lanka which could have been ironed-out if a discussion was carried out. "JVP and JHU have imagined views on World Bank and its operations which are not correct and accurate. We are heading the opposite direction. They don’t know the reality. If they know the ongoing programmes we are sure that they will like it too. We would like them to highlight reasons why they oppose World Bank projects in Sri Lanka, which would help us to rectify any mistakes or loopholes, if there are any," Harrold said. Text and pix by Ashwin Hemmathagama – Island
Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike skipped Thursday’s meeting after explaining his decision to President Mahinda Rajapakse. They met at Temple Trees Tuesday evening in the backdrop of Bandaranaike writing a confidential letter to Rajapakse, in which he excused himself from the meeting. The following is the full text of the letter:
"I am writing this letter to you in confidence, hence it will be only seen by you. I have not sent any letter to a single member of the CC as I do not seek publicity for this letter.
I have received a letter from the general secretary of the SLFP suggesting amendments to the existing constitution. This amendment clearly kicks you upstairs, leaving her with no powers.
You will agree that I have to make the most difficult decision out of all the members of the CC. On the one hand, it is my sister and on the other it is one of my oldest friends. This is not an act against you, as some will tell you.
A friendship of 36 years cannot be erased easily. Our friendship has continued without any major problem and continues to be so. Our association of 36 years has taken us around the world from London, Moscow, Baghdad to cricket in Male. Pada Yatras to Ratha Yatras.
When your dear mother expired, you were in remand. The Govt. refused to let you attend the funeral. I spoke to Ex — President J. R. Jayawardena. And on my appeal he permitted you, as a special favour, to go to Medamulana for the funeral.
Both of Basil’s children were put to school by me. I am mentioning all this, not to show what I have done for you but to show you the depth of our friendship, not for anything else.On the other hand, the Ex — President is my sister. She is a remarkable Politician, who after 17 years brought the SLFP back to power, kept it together for 11 years, winning 11 of 13 elections including two presidentials comfortably. She has sacrificed a lot personally. She lost her father when she was 14, lost her husband who was butchered before her very eyes and lost her eye to a LTTE bomb. If that bullet proof car was not there, she would have been blown to pieces.
With one eye, she ruled this country for 5 years more. With her two children away in England it was a lonely existence. No one in the SLFP has suffered like her.
For me to choose is a Herculean task. Whatever side I take, they will say that I betrayed my sister or one of his oldest friends, who was his best man.
No other person has this most difficult choice to make. My deep friendship for you has not lessened in any way, neither has my affection for my sister.
If this matter was amicably solved without bitterness and animosity, how strong would we be. We would have been the strongest political force in Sri Lanka for a long time.
I kindly request you to excuse me from these meetings for the reasons given above.
For the next 5 years. I shall continue, to support the SLFP, the millions that voted for us and you." -Island