Daily Archives: February 11, 2007

Crisis in government would lead to collapse says Tissa Attanayaka

By Walter Jayawardhana


Partly infuriated by the exit of 18 parliamentarians from his party and partly elated by the fact that the entry of the those parliamentarians in to the government has caused the events of things that led to the sacking of three Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers the General Secretary of the United National Party (UNP) Tissa Attanayaka said the government has been hoisted by its own petard.

He said today the government has been injured by its own trick intended for the UNP and predicted that the crisis started by the sacking of the ministers would spread and finally lead to the collapse of this government.

He said the image of the Bandaranaike name and hard work of Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi certainly helped Mahinda Rajapaksa to win the Presidential election with a razor thin margin and accused the President of betraying them for the sake of getting some UNPers in to the government.

He said the government rebels are not restricted to only three and according to his information there are some more people to rise against the President in the government and the rebellion would spread. He said the President sacked the three from their ministerial positions just to stop the spread of the rebellion.

Condemned as the protégé of the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe by the UNP reformists who have joined the government and who have not joined the government but still remain in the party like S. B. Dissanayaka, Tissa Attanayaka also praised some of his bitter political enemies of yesterday, namely Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and said if not for the JVP President would never have won the last election. He said the President is trying to work beyond the mandate he received to implement a personal political agenda. He said the President by taking the UNP rebels has reneged the MOU signed between the two parties. Tissa Attanayaka was being interviewed by the Sinhala service of the BBC, the Sandeshaya.

Meanwhile the General Secretary of the SLFP, Maithripala Sirisena in a statement to the Independent Television Network said though the UNP leaders tore the MOU because the government gave portfolios to some UNP members of parliament he never tore the MOU signed with the LTTE when the LTTE reneged the agreement more than 6000 times.

In another statement issued to the same TV network Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said the decision to accept the UNP reformists have been approved by the party central committee, government parliamentary group and the cabinet and it was no personal decision of the President.

In a letter addressed to Tissa Attanayaka, the Minister for Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake said the UNP today is run by political novices although the leader of the party is Ranil Wickremesinghe. He said "today it has become under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, a party without hope, belief or any progress of action to bring the party to power.

"Although, Wickremesinghe is the leader, the party is controlled and manipulated by political novices such as Malik Samarawickrema and Lasantha Wickrematunga. Until this situation is changed the United National Party will not have any future with the present group of individuals who are shamelessly hanging on high position in the party".

Sources close to the Presidential Secretariat said another batch of UNP Members of Parliament would join the government and they have already started negotiations with the President.


Mahinda Rajapaksa’s realism in dealing with Tamil Tigers is working

Walter Jayawardhana


A leading Middle Eastern newspaper Khaleej Times said in its editorial that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is showing a sense of realism in dealing with the Tamil Tigers.

The issue of February 11 of the Khaleej Times said Rajapaksa’s “carrot and stick” policy seems to be working and the recent re-taking of an Eastern province from the clutches of the rebels, breaking a decade long impasse is indication the Sri Lankan military finally means business.

The newspaper said the reason for Rajapaksa’s realism is because he is a leader who has risen from the ranks. The following is the full text of the editorial:

“IT’S appreciable that Sri Lankan President Rajapakse is showing a sense of realism in dealing with the Tamil Tigers. There, hence, is a semblance of hope that Sri Lanka’s present line of action vis-à-vis the LTTE will bear fruit in the long run, if not in the immediate future.

Simply put, the president’s is a “carrot and stick” policy, that is making a positive difference to the situation. His government is seeking to endear the Tamils alienated by decades of rebel brainwashing and military onslaughts, by extending them material and medical aid and seeking to engage them in a political dialogue. At the same time, it is giving the rebels back in their own coin; through aggressive retaliatory attacks. The recent retaking of an eastern province from the clutches of the rebels, breaking a decade-long impasse, is indication the Sri Lankan military finally means business.

“Rajapakse is a leader who has risen from the ranks; a reason why a sense of realism guides his initiatives. That he has a vision for the future is very clear. A part of that vision is reflected in his decision to strengthen the military. Hence the 30 per cent hike in the defence budget this year. Any close observer of the Sri Lankan scene would admit this is the way forward, rather than Colombo depending on other nations for military support.

“At the same time, it is important that Sri Lanka makes every effort to buy peace through a negotiated political settlement with the rebels, so as to hasten its development process. The nation won independence from its colonial masters a year after India did, but, by comparison, there has been very little of progress in the island. The rebel menace has taken its toll on development.

“Under the circumstances, however, any solution to the LTTE problem is impossible without India being made to play a positive role. It is here that the political maturity of the Sri Lankan leadership will be tested. It can neither afford to ignore India nor engage it in the peace efforts beyond a point. Rajapakse’s sense of realism will hopefully guide Sri Lanka in this respect.”


Eagerly awaiting his fifth World Cup

by Rex Clementine

Only a handful of players have had the privilege of playing in five World Cups. Aravinda de Silva was the first Sri Lankan to play in five World Cup tournaments and Sanath Jayasuriya will become the second when he plays in the up coming World Cup. The two players have been the greatest batsmen the country has produced since gaining Test status and consistency has been the secret of their longevity. Although you have a few players who have had the opportunity of playing in five World Cups, those who have gone onto win the championship are few and both Aravinda and Sanath have had the fortune to be vital members of Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning side in 1996.

They captained the country in the greatest competition in the sport as well with Aravinda leading the side in the 1992 edition of the tournament, which was Jayasuriya’s first and 11 years later Aravinda played his last CWC under Jayasuriya in Southern Africa in 2003.

Jayasuriya looked back at the five editions of the competition with fond memories.

“I have been fortunate to be around for so long,” he started off.

“I remember playing my first World Cup in New Zealand-Australia and I never thought that I would go onto play five World Cups. I have had some sweet memories in World Cup as we went onto win in 1996. There were some good sides in that competition and the way we did it was pleasing,” Jayasuriya told ‘Sportstar’

“It was a fantastic team effort in 1996. I had a role to play and I did that to the best of my ability. We had a strong batting line up and our bowling was ideal for those conditions. We were brilliant in field too and pulled off some great catches and run outs and when you perform as good as that you can win consistently.” Jayasuriya said.

While a lot of people talk of Jayasuriya’s sensational batting in 1996, they forget the fact that his left arm spin played a crucial role as well, especially in the semi-final and the final.

It’s often forgotten the way Jayasuriya captained the side in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

He was appointed in 1999 after a dismal show in England and was put in charge to build up a team towards the next edition of the tournament and players like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Russel Arnold had cemented their places by the time the 2003 World Cup came.

He started off the campaign in fine fashion thrashing a hundred in Sri Lanka’s first game against New Zealand in Bloemfontein and had a successful competition along with deputy Marvan Atapattu. Despite Sri Lanka qualifying to the semi-finals in 2003, some gloss was taken out as they had been beaten by Kenya in Nairobi in a group game.

During that competition three batsmen were going through bad trots and if not for that the team could have done better and gone even further.

While the 1992 World Cup was the start for Jayasuriya, where he played as an all-rounder who batted in the middle order and bowled a lot, but he was known for a couple of breathtaking catches that he took. The 1996 edition of the competition was ‘Jayasuriya’s tournament’ as he changed the way teams approached the first 15 overs. He had a tough series in 1999 but bounced back in 2003 with some match winning efforts. What awaits Jayasuriya in 2007?

“We did well in one-day cricket last year winning away from home, which was something that we wanted to do consistently. If we continue in that form, we should do well. My form has been good too as I scored five hundreds out of Sri Lanka and we won all those matches. So hopefully, I’ll be able take that form into the World Cup and help the team to come up with a good show,” Jayasuriya said.

Sri Lanka are one of the frontrunners to go all the way in the upcoming World Cup in the Caribbean and Jayasuriya’s form will be vital in the West Indies. via … The Sunday Island



Senake promotes Lankan identity

With Zanita Careem

Sri lankan designer choreographer, Senake de Silva’s creations have already graced the catwalks in Oman, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Brussels and Amsterdam. His creations give a glimpse of Sri lanka’s multi, ethnic culture through colour, texture and design.

Senake’s collection is purely Sri lankan because he uses only local fabrics such as batiks, handlooms crochet and beeralu lace, hand painted fabrics and traditional embroidery.

His main aim is to promote local handloom fabrics and create designs to make them highly fashionable garments. We should have our own identity without aping the West, said Senake.

He has succeeded in accentuating designs inspired by old traditional dance costumes, colours of the earth, and wild prints.

These creations were showcased at the Colombo fashion weekend.

via … The Sunday Island


Fear of assassination bid prompts sacking of ministers

Air Force to take over Colombo Airport on the eve of president’s departure abroad

At around 7.30pm on Friday evening, The Island editorial office received word that Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike and Sripathy Sooriyaarchchi had been removed from their ministerial portfolios. Half an hour later the state owned Rupavahini channel broadcast the announcement. People were not really surprised.

Some time ago, When Mangala Samaraweera and Tiran Alles, the chairman of the Airports and Aviation Authority began to publish ‘Maubima’ and direct scathing criticisms against the government, everyone knew where it was all going to end up. Matters came to a head last week with several disgruntled Sri Lanka Freedom Party ministers gathering at a certain location where a certain non-cabinet minister close to Mangala Samaraweera had boasted that they would within the next three weeks strike at the ‘head’ (oluwa).

A Chandrika loyalist who had been invited to the meeting had then started on a diatribe against the Sirasa TV channel (Oluwa can also mean Sirasa in Sinhala) But then this minister had been told that it was not the TV channel that they were talking about but the head of government.

The CBK loyalist had then walked out of the meeting saying that this was not going to succeed because the president’s stock was high within the country and that he was fully with the president. It is widely believed that it was this deputy minister who told the president about the conspiracy.

A few days ago, the president began his counter move by summoning key supporters to Temple Trees and telling them about Mangala’s conspiracy. By evening on Friday, the decision to remove Mangala had been taken, but the president was in two minds whether to act now or whether to postpone the move until after his state visit to China.

Something happened between 6.00pm and 7.30pm which made the president immediately issue an order removing Mangala, Anura and Sripathy from their ministerial portfolios. That was when the letters removing them from office had been prepared. They were ready by 7 p.m. for hand delivery. This columnist learns that some close friends of the president had warned him about a possible assassination bid at the Colombo Airport which was under Tiran Alles, a staunch supporter of Mangala Samaraweera.

The president probably thinking that caution was the better part of valour, decided to sack the ministers before his departure to China. On advice given by some close friends, the Colombo Airport would be taken over by the Air Force and personnel handpicked by the Air Force Chief himself would give the airport a thorough security check.

There is a strong belief among Mahinda Rajapakse’s supporters that The Maubima’ newspaper is funded by the LTTE. They have adduced various arguments to justify this claim. Since these accusations have to be verified with the Maubima management, we will not go into this at this moment. Be that as it may, suffice it to say that it is this belief coupled with the boast that they would strike at the ‘head’ in three weeks which hastened the sacking of the three ministers.

Another reason for the sacking was the statement made by both Anura Bandaranaike and Mangala Samaraweera to the effect that some anonymous caller had threatened to kill them and hang their bodies on lamp-posts. Rajapakse loyalists interpreted even this as advance ground preparation for an LTTE attempt on the president’s life with inside connivance. They hold that this was just to show the public that they too were under death threats. Read the rest of this entry

Nipping dissent in the bud

In a sharp swift move that left his opponents breathless, President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday night turfed out three ministers, two of them senior heavy weights, giving an unmistakable message to would-be dissidents that short shrift is what he has for them if they step out of line. The day before he wielded the powers bequeathed to him by J.R. Jayewardene, he said in a speech that he was not S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Neither was he Chandrika Kumaratunga. But he was Medamulane Rajapakse.

The message he was giving was that he too had his own identity and perhaps he was not obliged to protect a Bandaranaike as the parents and sister would. He was not saying he was a tough in the way somebody might say they are from Walasmulla, Waskaduwa or Kosgoda. Beliatta people are also known to be quick to anger. But Rajapakse is not from Beliatta although he represented that seat in parliament. His friendly nature and live and let live philosophy may have made some believe that he will not be hard when the chips are down. But now that he is president of the republic, skillfully moving pawns on the political chessboard, he would not wish the kind of dissent apparent in the wake of the UNP defectors being accommodated in his government, and the resulting cabinet reshuffle, to gather steam. That is why he chose to nip it in the bud regardless of whose neck on which the guillotine fell.

Remembering the good that has been done to you is a Sinhala virtue ingrained in people hailing from the rural countryside. Mahinda Rajapakse is one of those and he would not have been unmindful of the role that Mangala Samaraweera played as campaign manager in the presidential election of 2005. He was also a prime architect of the arrangements between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the JVP prior to the election. Despite his closeness to Chandrika Kumaratunga, he chose to give Rajapakse unstinted support in the presidential race notwithstanding the attempts of the Bandaranaikes, brother and sister, to play a spoiler role. Samaraweera was picked to be SLFP treasurer when Rajapakse assumed leadership of that party ending the role of the Bandaranaike dynasty in a party founded by the father and led by the mother and the daughter. Perhaps Mangala would have liked to have been prime minister although he has denied such ambition when Ratnasiri Wickramanayake was re-anointed.

Yet Samaraweera got the foreign ministry he aspired to while retaining ports and aviation. It is well known that when the pressure of numbers dictated that it was not possible to let ministers (excluding the president) to hold more than one ministry, Samaraweera had the option of choosing what he wanted to keep. He opted out of foreign affairs, a portfolio important to an ambitious, upwardly mobile politician, though not happily so by all accounts. At a time he had his differences with President Premadasa, the later Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali used a cricketing idiom to describe his situation. “What’s important is to be out there in the middle, not to score runs. But you must not get out. That fellow (meaning Premadasa), can kick me out of the cabinet but he cannot sack me from the party.” When the impeachment happened, “that fellow” did just that. Athulathmudali was out of the party but he had the grit, determination and the work ethic to remain in politics, mend his fences with Gamini Dissanayake and together with other anti-Premadasa dissidents, found the Democratic United National Front to mount a credible challenge to the Premadasa presidency.

Bandaranaike is, of course, another cup of tea. Though talented, having inherited his father’s oratorical ability, hard work and Anura Bandaranaike have been poles apart. He never hid his affinity for the good life and wisely did not jib when named tourism minister in Rajapakse’s first cabinet. Although anointed by his party as the presidential candidate’s running mate and prime minister-designate should the election be won, he did little or nothing to help Rajapakse to become president although he has claimed that he too helped in putting together the arrangement with the JVP. Nobody was surprised when the new president did not make Bandaranaike the prime minister and Bandaranaike himself signaled no public protest. But he didn’t hide his anger at been relegated to the national heritage ministry, asking whether he was to sit on Sigiriya rock and gaze at the frescoes. While he absolved the president in a parliamentary speech of any hand in the phoned death threats he had received, he spoke darkly about people around Rajapakse with US citizenship who would vanish if things went wrong. The allusions were obvious and as Friday’s events have shown, the die appears to have been then cast.

The shadow of Chandrika Kumaratunga looms large over the current excitement in the political field with the former president regarded as the likely focal point around which SLFP dissidents could launch a challenge to Mahinda Rajapakse. With his street sense and political savvy Rajapakse obviously would not permit such attempts to gather steam. He has therefore done what he has but those who know him say that he is quite capable of playing the magnanimous and forgiving leader if those who attempted to cross him and have paid the price crawl back. He knows very well that the message he has delivered would be received loud and clear by others who are flirting with the thought.

-The Sunday Island Editorial

Related News Articles:

Anura Mangala and Sripathi stripped off portfolios

Love Hate relationship of two former political colleagues coming to an end?


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