Daily Archives: July 17, 2006
Issuing a statement, the Jathika Hela Urumaya has alleged that the government has been trapped in a highly advanced military – political and psychological operation launched by the LTTE through the concocted heart ailment of Daya Master.
The statement issued by JHU General Secretary Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha thera stated that the image built by the President in the southern society had been shattered by this psychological operation. It brought to an end the credibility, the people of the South had in the President along with the Mahinda Chintanaya’s dominating authority.
A new Sri Lanka proposed by Mahinda Chintanaya’s was brought back to old Sri Lanka. The Daya Master episode proved that Mahinda Rajapaksa too is following the same path taken by Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Tiger operation was able to heap public abomination on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and he lost his standing among the public.
The comic act has now come to an end. Doctors at Apollo hospital have confirmed that Daya Master did not suffer from any heart condition. The JHU claimed that the government was taken for a ride by the doctor of the Kilinochchi hospital, the Tiger Peace Secretariat, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and the Norwegian embassy.
Meanwhile Daya Master who was admitted to Apollo hospital was discharged on the 15th and left for kilinochchi on the same day. He was given tight military security even on the return journey. Source: Global Order
The government is going to start a project on rehabilitation of economic, physical and social infrastructure with the aim of promoting the living standards of people in Tsunami affected areas, primarily in the north and east. The plan includes reconstruction of the access road to schools and the development of infrastructure facilities.
This project would be implemented in the districts of Jaffna, Mullaitiva, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Hambanthota with German assistance.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Nation Building and Development, the agreement for this project would be signed on July 18, 2006. This agreement would be between the Ministry of Nation Building and Development and the Ministry of Economical Development and the German Technical Cooperation on behalf of the German government.
The German government has promised to invest a sum of Rs.1.25 billion (Euro 10 million) for this project. This will amount to a total of Euro 13,277 million with the private contribution together with the donation by the Non Governmental Oraganisation such as German World Vision of Germany. -Department of Government Information
New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Former Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is arriving here Wednesday with a deep grudge against President Mahinda Rajapakse. And India is expected to give him a patient hearing.
Other leaders in the United National Party (UNP) that Wickremesinghe leads say he is expected to complain to New Delhi against Rajapakse’s poaching of his MPs when India wants him to team up with the president to weave a consensus on the ethnic conflict.
Speaking to IANS on telephone from Sri Lanka, Wickremesinghe, who is facing a virtual rebellion in his party against his leadership, hinted that his country’s internal political dynamics would come up for discussion in New Delhi.
"Some of the people will surely want to know what is going on," said the opposition leader, when asked if he would discuss the political turmoil in Sri Lanka with Indian leaders.
The UNP chief, who said he planned to spend "two to three days" in New Delhi meeting a variety of people, added that the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict would be a natural topic of discussion.
Wickremesinghe is a frequent visitor to India. He was in New Delhi a couple of months ago, and again recently flew to southern India to meet two spiritual leaders as well as the Karnataka chief minister.
And only a fortnight ago, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran called on Wickremesinghe and Rajapakse in Colombo and urged the two leaders to bury their differences for the larger good of Sri Lanka.
But within days, some senior leaders of the UNP switched allegiance to Rajapakse’s ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). More are reportedly trying to follow suit. This has angered Wickremesinghe.
At a UNP leadership meet last week, some party leaders argued that the party should hit back by not collaborating with Rajapakse on the ethnic question. But others pleaded against it, calling it a dangerous play.
"After all the president is not kidnapping people from UNP," a senior UNP functionary told IANS from Colombo. "A leader has to manage his people. The fact is our people are going away on their own."
Wickremesinghe supporters argue that whatever the case, it is unfair for the international community to advocate collaboration between the SLFP and UNP when the actions of the president go against building a healthy consensus.
India, which more than any other country keeps a close eye on Sri Lanka’s fractious politics, is in a quandary over the bitterness caused by the defection of UNP leaders to the treasury benches.
Indian officials will certainly give a patient hearing to Wickremesinghe, but it is doubtful if they can do more, at least on the UNP-SLFP war.
The UNP leader may, however, be told in polite terms that building a national consensus aimed at genuinely resolving the ethnic conflict on the basis of a sincere give-and-take is more important than anything else.
UNP leaders admit that irrespective of the political frictions, there is a realisation in both the UNP and the SLFP that the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cannot be won militarily and that a political resolution of the two-decades-long conflict was the only way out.
However, the lure of votes of the majority Sinhalese community, so vital to secure power, comes in the way of accommodating the interests of the minorities. In the process, the conflict drags on and on, bleeding the island nation.
Another UNP leader, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, confessed there was tremendous bitterness between his party and the SLFP.
"India is conscious of all this," he told IANS. "India strongly supports devolution of power within a united Sri Lanka. But for this to succeed, our main parties need to come together. But there is too much acrimony.
"And frankly," the UNP leader added, "our party is a house divided. There are competing points of view. Our leader (Wickremesinghe) might be going to India to score a few points."
–By M.R. Narayan Swamy
Source: Global Order
There were many allegations leading up to the cricket elections from offering massive bribes to death threats and the country’s former players showed their concern by taking the matter up with country’s President. Subsequent to the discussion, the election was cancelled and the former players were invited to take a leading role in the administration of the sport.
(Pic by Sudath Silva)
Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, two of the world’s greatest statesmen, had their lives traumatised by the prejudice of colonial and apartheid dogma. Yet both looked beyond the indignities of the politics that turned them into dignified influential and international figures and leaders of justified revolutions.
Both drew motivation from acts of crass xenophobia and injustice of a white (Raj) South African system to become inspirational mentors. The Mahatma when thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg, Mandela when leading the cause for upliftment of a black nation ruled by inhuman race laws; a hangover of an unjust war to control South Africa’s gold and diamond wealth.
The point here, Yahaluweni, is how they viewed cricket’s impact on their separate lives and what the game meant to them as a unifying factor in nation building. Looking at today’s scenario, their words are more meaningful and offer a warning to those with egos who would run the sport as their own domain.
Ghandi, ever the pacifist, said that ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.’ He was referring to cricket’s growing role in India pre-independence with the first Test series against England.
Mandela, more than sixty years later, on the eve of the first Test between South Africa and India at Kingsmead, in Durban, in 1992 offered this impressive insight, ‘Sport has the power to change the world. This first (Indian) tour is a first step in our sport rehabilitation’.
While good administrators in their own field, they did on occasion express views that when it came to experience, there were many who could play a better role. This, it was said should be left to those who had faced the trial, error of climbing the rockface in an international world to achieve success.
Last week, when sense prevailed and a decision to scrap the board elections were made, it was for the long-term benefit of the game. There are those of course who disagree with the decision. ‘Shocked’ was the barb in Mohan de Silva’s missive to the media. Well, too bad.
He does, though have the opportunity, with Interim Committee president Jayantha Dhamadasa to run jointly an operation in need of serious international transparency and for the long-term benefit of the game in this troubled, if lovely island.
This became more evident last Friday night for those who sat, listen and watched the views of four former Test players on a popular TV programme; it is hoped that you learnt something of value. They certainly spelt out not only how past players can play a meaningful role, but added significance to a debate that required, for some of us, a little translation as well. But the message was there.
Of course, there have been accusations that former Arjuna Ranatunga, and other players, are attempting to hijack the system. Well, naturally that was going to emerge amid the obfuscation surrounding a heated issue as this.
World cricket knows and has a deep respect for Ranatunga as a player. He is a tough man with a tough image. So what is wrong with that? How Sri Lanka loved it when he often got up the noses of the Australians and others, and how didn’t you all enjoy the show he provided at Adelaide back in 1998/99? They know him well enough and not to mess with him.
His high profile image is certainly respected in International Cricket Council circles and they know who they are dealing with. This is a lot more than can be said for some of those seeking elections on Saturday.
Sadly, despite his former role as captain and what he did for the game and the country, accusations of a so-called ‘take over’ smacks of jealousy on the part of others. He wants to get involved because he knows that whatever role he and the named former players can offer can benefit the game. But they deserve a chance to show what they can do. And your memories are short Yahaluweni. Sidath Wettimuny was part of the 1999 Interim Committee.
When Ali Bacher entered the South African administrative arena in a troubled isolation era, he was welcomed as a man with ideas, vision and drive. There was none of this pathetic political backbiting that has greeted Ranatunga’s decision.
Anyway, placing on hold elections until after next year’s World Cup in the Caribbean will take pressure off any number of crucial areas: the players and coaching structures for one. It has also rid the damaging image Sri Lanka Cricket was receiving abroad, and at a time a Test and triangular series was looming. It is the sort of breathing space needed to cool temperatures.
One of the more important points, and this comes down to selection policy, is the need for a national policy. Lalith Kapuperuma when interviewed about long-term plans highlighted this more than a year ago. Now Ashantha de Mel, a man who has more than once come in for criticism in these notes, expresses a view how selection policy needs continuity. Too right it does.
This is also where De Mel can play an important and leading role. Instead of swapping selection panels at the whim of some outdated policy, give him the job for the next five years as part of a plan towards the 2011 World Cup. He is not frightened to have his say, make his barbed points and ask questions. But here is where he should, as they do in several of the other Test countries, be given a bigger role.
Peter Pollock (another fast bowler), Trevor Hohns, David Graveney and Kiran More, have held or were allowed to develop sides and work with the coach, captain and players to preserve this continuity. As Wettimuny expressed in the same programme, the need is for a national policy to develop the game.
Ranjit Fernando thoughtfully highlighted this point and suggested as a remedy a league for those school-leavers and those below the age of 23. His argument here was that not enough was being done for this age group. The administration in charge at the time shot this down as cluttering up a league system with low-grade players.
Little wonder the former players ask questions of those who make claims that past players don’t have a role. They have one all right.
It is not by chance that Hohns selection policy pattern has seen Australia headed both International Cricket Council’s Test and limited overs logs for more than five years. They have a vibrant provincial system and a national programme. So do New Zealand and India. Kepler Wessels and Graham Ford have highlighted England’s improvement to better coaching structures when Rod Marsh was put in charge.
Unfortunately, Pollock’s departure as South Africa’s selection convener after CWC99 in England has seen the programme fluctuate as any number of quality players take up the Kolpak option. The latest recruit is the lanky Paul Harris, a left-arm spinner who picked up 49 wickets last first-class season, yet cannot even make the emerging squad now in Australia.
With nine capped Test and limited overs players already playing county cricket, South Africa’s resources are being denuded.
In a sense, the team is running on empty and is possibly the weakest South Africa has fielded since the early 1930s. It would be a fair assessment to suggest that last year’s West Indies squad was better equipped, despite the player contracts row that seriously disrupted that their tour prospects. But South African selection policy has become seriously diluted.
In a pre-tour email interview, Herschelle Gibbs has expressed the desire to regain his place as opening batsman. He feels, with Graeme Smith out of the tour, he has this opportunity. A natural free-flowing strokeplayer, he has found Chaminda Vaas a problem and this could lead to his undoing. But opening the batting is a role he has missed and the selectors will now have the chance to restore him to this position with Jacques Rudolph at four.
Hopefully too, spectators will get the chance to watch the highly-gifted Braam (AB) de Villiers display his quality. Here is a young man with class, style and ability to put runs together, rarely seen since the days of Barry Richards.
It is going to be a tough tour for South Africa and stand-in skipper Ashwell Prince will learn soon enough that there is a lot more to captaining a side than giving vague instructions and semaphore signals. He will have to abandon his role as well in the point region where he has fielded as well as Jonty Rhodes.
Not surprising because of last week’s column, there were more text mobile messages suggesting any variety of threats. But that is the petty minded. Amazing how the numbers are ‘not in service’ or ‘this service has been disconnected’.
Apart from adding credence to the Ghandi quote earlier in the column, it suggests there are those who don’t enjoy a differing view. -Island
Minister of Constitutional Reform and Ethnic Integration, D.E.W. Gunasekera was on the panel of constitutional
experts which drew up the Constitutional package offered to the LTTE in 2000, under the Chandrika Kumaratunga Presidency. Agreeing that that package delivered maximum devolution, the Minister speaks to Hard Talk about the fresh initiative of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to come out with a new set of devolution proposals.
HARD TALK By Shakuntala Perera
Q: Rudrakumaran, legal advisor to the LTTE, recently claimed that the "United Sri Lanka" concept cannot be accepted as a pre-negotiation parameter and that it runs contrary to the current international practice, and to the law of self-determination.
A: He is a spokesman for the LTTE. You can’t expect any different from him.
Q:The question is on what basis future government negotiations with the LTTE would move?
A:We need to keep all doors open for negotiations. We simply need to do more to satisfy the Tamil people. We must not wait till peace is achieved for that process to begin. There are so many other ways to start on meeting the needs of the people. We should accelerate the development work in the North and the East. We have completely neglected the needs in these areas. Growth has suffered greatly due to this.
Q: Wasn’t it the continuing war situation that hampered development in those areas?
A: Even with the war development can continue. The LTTE is only exploiting our failure to meet the needs of the people there. This is where the LTTE has scored. One main solution is bringing back two languages into implementation. We will start that in all government offices immediately. This was the root cause of the problem. After 19 years we will implement this to facilitate ease of operation.
Q:Aren’t the Sinhalese people in the East also suffering due to the language problem and in every other province due to slow development processes?
A: Yes. Sinhalese people in areas like Trincomalee and Ampara suffer because everything in the North and East is done in Tamil language. We need to remedy this process. Development in predominantly Sinhala areas is also affected. It’s true that not only the North and the East is affected.
Q: You continue to be optimistic about the LTTE’s commitment to peace. How would you describe their continued violation of the ceasefire agreement?
A:I am optimistic simply because there is no way out. As the President said the only alternative to peace is peace and not war. From experience of the problem we know that the only final solution is ion meeting the grievances of the Tamil people. I’m not saying that the LTTE are the sole representative of the Tamil people, but they are the warring party, so there is a need to negotiate with them.
Q: But in a scenario where the LTTE refuses to negotiate what do you do? At the last meeting planned in Oslo they did not even sit for talks.
A: If the LTTE is not ready for talks the government has the responsibility to find a solution. This is why the government decided to appoint an expert committee under the All Party Conference to look at a political solution that we can offer to the Tamil people. If we can get consensus from within the Southern political parties and bring a political formula that meets the needs of these people we can go ahead and solve this problem.
Q:Given that they have rejected every approach by successive Sri Lankan governments towards such an approach, and has thus led to the breakdown of those processes, how can you be sure that this time will be different?
A: What is necessary at this point is that we understand what the needs of the Tamil people are and not what the LTTE demands. Our foremost focus should be that. If we can come to an agreement on that, we can build from there and achieve peace. The only difference with the LTTE is that they want separatism, which is out of the question! But even the LTTE says that they can’t look at agreeing to anything when there is no consensus in the Southern political parties. This is true. This is why we are trying to get consensus through the APC.
Q:But the UNP is having they’re own reservations about offering support to the APC initiative. How confident are you in meeting that obstacle?
A: I can’t say I am confident of UNP support. But the fact remains that a majority of the people want a solution and not war. And it is the People’s Alliance and the UNP that account for 90% of the votes. If the UNP plays truant we can’t maintain the momentum.
The expert committee is formed of experts and politicians. It is what the experts draw up that will be forwarded to the politicians for agreement. The main criteria for the framework, is maximum devolution outside of division. Sovereignty will be maintained. I believe resolution can be achieved within that framework.
Q:Don’t you feel that the UNP is a crucial element to pushing any political proposal through?
A: The UNP is absolutely necessary. That is both my personal as well as our Party’s conviction. We must draw the UNP in to this process. Otherwise there can’t be a solution. We need the UNP as much as the Tamil people. This is a national question which should be placed over all other issues. The life of the country is at stake. President can’t solve it alone. If the UNP agrees that there is a problem then they must join in finding a solution.
Q: Then how healthy is it to buy off its members and antagonize the main opposition?
A: These are petty issues. Fourteen members crossed over from our government and led to the fall of the Chandrika Kumaratunga government. Who was behind it? Ranil Wickremesinghe. There are concerns within the UNP that it is because they can’t protect their own members that they are crossing over. One member had said that if they are unable to contain it more members will cross over. It may not be morally correct. But the main question is that the two parties can and must try to find a solution.
Q: Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga offered one of the widest forms of devolution through her constitutional package of 2000. The LTTE still rejected it, so how can you ensure acceptance this time around?
A: What happened was that the UNP blocked it. That is why that initiative went back. All parties in the House, including the Left parties agreed except for the UNP. We had the highest acceptance for that proposal except from the UNP. That is precisely why there needs to be consensus within the Southern polity to any political solution of the government.
Q:But the fact remains that even if the South comes together the LTTE will still reject the proposal.
A: Let the LTTE reject it. We don’t have to worry about them. The responsibility is with the government to meet the needs of the people through a political solution.
Q:Yet earlier you spoke of the need to negotiate with the LTTE as they were the warring party. Even with a peace process on and a Ceasefire in operation the LTTE refuses to negotiate. Is the government confused about what to do?
A: The LTTE wants a separate state. But does it mean we agree to that? No. Fifty three percent of the Tamil people live with the Sinhalese people outside of the control of the LTTE. Sixty three percent of the Tamil speaking people also live outside. They have chosen to live under President Rajapaksa and not Prabakaran. There is more happening in that community that there is to see. These people want a solution not separatism. Let us move maximum devolution which will bring a qualitative change in their lives.
When that happens it’s not necessary to address the LTTE. They are warring yes, but we can win over the Tamil people. There are already contradictions within the LTTE and even some elements against the movement. The LTTE’s role is declining all over the world. They are losing with the International community, India and they’re own people abroad. They have reached the maximum they could and now there is nowhere else to go. They can’t go further. This is the best time to bring the Tamil people in to the equation with a solution.
Q:Are you saying that the government is ready to ignore the LTTE factor to the problem?
A: I don’t believe that they are the sole representative of the Tamil people. I reject that notion. If there was a proper election the Tamil United Liberation Front would win the Tamil votes. They are just silently watching.
This is why we must approach the people. We are unable to bring the LTTE to a political equation not the people. Such a solution will completely paralyze the LTTE and sharpen the contradictions within.
Even Tamil National Alliance members ask us for a solution. They can’t talk because if they do they will be killed. This is a fascist movement. The LTTE are quite different to the Irish Republican Army or any such movement.
Q: Then what was the rationale behind the government’s decision to facilitate the visit of IRA Deputy Leader Martin Mc Guinness last week to negotiate with the LTTE?
A: I don’t know the rationale behind that move.
Q:You were part of the group that engineered the Chandrika Kumaratunga political package. Do you feel that President Rajapaksa should build on that or go for a completely fresh approach?
A: That proposal will certainly be taken into account by the expert panel. It will be studies in depth. Like that devolution and power sharing in the centre will be the basis for the political solution. UNP senior Ministers like K.N. Choksy joined and we added their concerns.
But later the UNP rejected it. We will look at maximum devolution outside of separation. There are different degrees of federalism. When we put the word ‘united’ in the 1972 Constitution the country became divided! Mere words won’t make them one or the other. It is application that is important. Let political scientists call it what they want. But what is necessary is that it meets the people’s aspirations. If the words are an obstacle let’s drop them.
Q:There is criticism against the Indian model of federalism which the government is keen on taking on.
A: We need not go after any model. Even the Indian model has its negative as well as positive aspects. Their Constitution has also gone through much change. We can draw from particular features of that Constitution. But we need to build our own system. -Daily Mirror