London police appeal to Tamils

  • 7 Jan 2007 06:27:49 GMT

    This is the long term consequences of giving refugee states to Tamil racists and Terrorists, a part of the big picture of discriminating the majority over the minority during British colonialism of Sri Lanka.

  • 7 Jan 2007 06:34:58 GMT

    [Columns - Political Column

    Year of crisis for Rajapaksa

    * International pressure as President prosecutes war

    * Lanka faces deep trouble at the UN, the EU and from India

    * JVP pulls away further as MoU with UNP flounders

    By Our Political Editor

    The dawn of the seventh year in the new millennium, paradoxical enough, seems more significant for what did not happen than what did.

    For five successive years since February 2002, with a ceasefire in place, Sri Lankans as well as the world outside, had prayed in one chorus for peace to dawn. That was not only from their lips, but through greetings they sent each other as one year ended giving way to the other. Instead, an escalating undeclared Eelam War IV has made peace an increasingly distant dream year after year. So much so, in the years to come, questions fearfully linger whether prayers would shift from peace to wishing one another purely for their safety and well being.

    Mahinda Rajapaksa

    The formidable challenge of averting that disastrous decline in the course of events still lay in the hands of President Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was he who vowed 13 months ago, not to let that happen. That was during the 17 November, 2005 Presidential elections where a slender majority enthroned him to the country`s top most post. Yet, events moved in a different direction from what he promised. Sri Lankans were assured of `peace with honour` in his election pledges. But they have war now.

    Having worn the mantle of the presidency, Rajapaksa was unassailable. He faced little or no threat from his political foes. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) was there in the political firmament only by name and hardly identified itself forcefully with any national issue. That is of course with the exception of periodic media releases that were akin to voices in the wilderness. No issues, be it corruption, crime, cost of living, human rights, to name a few, were raised eloquently in Parliament or outside. No battles were fought on these issues and hence none was won. Thus, no impact was made in the public mind. Not even in the name of democracy where a vibrant Opposition, its life blood, leads to checks and balances in governance.

    These turned out to be the biggest asset for the Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration. Yet, absence of an active Opposition did not mean a prolonged honeymoon. The conduct of defence and security affairs, or the lack of it, formed the nucleus or the mother of all ills. That appears to have taken away the soothing and smoothing effect caused by the absence of political Opposition. Despite a five-year long ceasefire, Security Forces and Tiger guerrillas are at war.

    Manmohan Singh

    And the future course of events to come was foretold in the recent weeks. This time the forecast did not come from the media. They could have been hauled over the coals if they did so, and qualified to become the accused for `passing information to the enemy.` That is the new stick to beat the media over any ill-forebodings or `bad news.` It came from the Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. He vowed to re-capture the east and drive the LTTE out. Thereafter, he assured, his men would go for the North to defeat the LTTE there. Saying this is by no means to fault the powerful military strongman. As the top-most military official spearheading the military campaign against guerrillas, he knows what is in store.

    The fact that he has said it publicly leaves no room for any ambiguity. It is now clear, very clear, that the military offensives will continue until the Tiger guerrillas are subdued, if not defeated. That would naturally draw counter attacks. The previous phases of Eelam Wars have seen how such bloody events have unfolded. There would naturally be a strong need for civilians on both sides of the battle lines to brace themselves for more shocks and sacrifices.

    It is in this backdrop that President Rajapaksa faces new challenges in the New Year. They come from two broad fronts - internationally and domestically. In the international arena, a number of critical issues are in store. First, to a sampling of some international issues among many:

    Allan Rock

    UN Special Envoy Alan Rock`s controversial report on the Sri Lanka Army helping the breakaway Karuna faction of the LTTE to recruit child soldiers will go before the United Nations Security Council. The Council is to discuss the issue this month. Would that lead to strictures on Sri Lanka by the world body? Besides media statements in Colombo and painting Mr. Rock`s character black, has anything more been done to counter his assertions? The thrust of some Government spokespersons has been to dismiss the charges. Officials of the Presidential Secretariat, Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General`s Department were busy in the past week formulating counter measures. In a bid to thwart a possible UN call to conduct a probe, a suggestion to appoint a Commission of Inquiry was also discussed.

    Moves by the European Union to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka for violation of human rights and humanitarian laws come up for review in March, this year. This is under the aegis of Germany which has already assumed the leadership of EU. Germany has already suspended aid commitments to Sri Lanka.

    The Donor Co-chairs of the peace process - the United States, Japan, the European Union and Norway - are also to begin a review of the Sri Lanka situation this month. It was only last month that top officials in the capitals of these countries held an international conference call to share the views on the situation prevailing then. There is greater significance now, particularly in the light of the decision by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to withdraw all its ceasefire observers in the North and East to Colombo. If that underscored its inability to play a role in the light of escalating violence, it also made clear that like the peace process, the SLMM`s role has also been reduced to paper. The Co-chairs will not only take cognizance of this fact but also the reality that the resumption of peace talks had become a virtual impossibility as the violence escalates. That the withdrawal of the monitors to Colombo received the concurrence of Norway, the peace facilitators, is no secret.

    Many foreign governments have issued travel advisories discouraging their nationals from visiting Sri Lanka. For the first time during the five-year long ceasefire hotels and tourist resorts have been virtually empty. Some small time resort operators have stopped paying their employees and are providing them only meals. Five star hotels in the City faced one of their worst experiences on New Year `s Eve. Some even cancelled the revelries planned.

    Contributing to the international dimension is a regional factor, the role of Sri Lanka`s powerful neighbour India. More details of New Delhi`s displeasure over the Rajapaksa Government are now emerging. During his visit to New Delhi in November, last year, officials bluntly shut out a photo opportunity during a meeting between Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. A distraught Sri Lankan official pleaded with their Indian counterparts to get the latter`s side to get video and still camera operators to take photos and make it available. It did not meet with success.

    Diplomatic sources say tensions increased further during the talks. When the Indian Premier`s national security advisor R.K. Narayanan raised the issues of the Supreme Court ruling on the de-merger of North and East, a response by President Rajapaksa was viewed as a slight on Mr. Narayanan. Rajapaksa is learnt to have remarked that officials did not understand the gravity of the issue as much as political leaders.

    This is reported to have had its sequel. The next day was the wedding of the daughter of Indian Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer. Premier Manmohan Singh and Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi were to attend. Rajapaksa who was also taking part would have had a photo opportunity with the two Indian leaders. Cameramen in his official entourage could have utilized this occasion to make up for the missed photo opportunity. Alas, the timings had been changed. When Rajapaksa arrived at the wedding, both Singh and Gandhi had left. Were the timings changed by angry Indian officials?

    Making things worse was another development. After many previous requests were turned down, Premier Manmohan Singh met a delegation of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in New Delhi in November, last year. Both video and still photo camera operators were allowed to cover the event. Indian media, both print and electronic, were full of reportage on what the TNA delegation leader and Trincomalee district Parliamentarian, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan told Premier Singh. Even for a Congress Party dominated Government in New Delhi, that was bitterly opposed to the LTTE following the assassination of their leader and one time Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, things appear to have changed. What were the major causes for such an imbroglio? Were these the result of foreign policy reversals and the local Brahmins of the Foreign Service, who spoke of lofty ideals, failing to do their job?

    That no doubt has become an issue between President Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. It began with a ding-dong battle over who would be the next Foreign Secretary. To his credit, Samaraweera is insistent in following time-honoured traditions by naming a senior career officer. But Rajapaksa wants retired UN diplomat Palitha Kohona, now head of the Government Peace Secretariat.

    Tensions over the key appointment have reached a peak. Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told close confidants that President Rajapaksa had offered him the foreign affairs portfolio but he had declined. He had said he would be happy to continue with the Health Ministry. If that claim is correct, angered by his inability so far to have his nominee appointed, Rajapaksa wants Samaraweera replaced. The President`s first effort came when he sent his Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga, to Samaraweera`s Paget Road residence to talk things over. Samaraweera stuck to his guns. Now, he has written a lengthy letter to his President setting out the issues and his own position vis-à-vis them. Samaraweera is also angered by the conduct of Rajapaksa`s brother, the very powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

    It is coming in the backdrop of complaints that Samaraweera was continuing a close dialogue with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Rumours that Samaraweera held a secret meeting with Kumaratunga on New Year`s day at Kataragama had upset those in the dovecotes of power.

    So much so, reports said, parliamentarian Mervyn de Silva was tasked to check on its veracity. He was to later report that it was only Samaraweera and his mother who had travelled to Kataragama whilst Kumaratunga had been in Matara.

    Some confidantes of Samaraweera say he has been disappointed that Rajapaksa did not think it fit to invite him to meetings of the National Security Council. During the tenure of former President Kumaratunga, one of the notable participants at NSC meetings had been then Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. Instead, Rajapaksa had only invited the Foreign Secretary to take part. They say this was unfair, and that Rajapaksa should know how it feels as he was not invited to the National Security Council by Kumaratunga, even when he was Prime Minister.

    [On the domestic front, main among the issues that Rajapaksa faces is the deteriorating economic conditions. According to highly-placed Government sources, a confidential Central Bank report to Rajapaksa had warned of the dangers that lay ahead and fears of a possible collapse of the economy. The answer, it is said to point out, does not lay in the privatization of state ventures. Instead, it had suggested that future mega projects should be undertaken by the state in collaboration with the private sector. Whilst the rupee is depreciating vis-à-vis the dollar, in the recent weeks the Government has obtained a US $ 100 million loan from a Singapore bank to bankroll the economy.]

    The fall of the rupee against the US dollar has already led to a fuel price increase. A further increase in the near future will only skyrocket further the cost of living. This is at a time when the Government has to spend vast amounts of money on the war effort. An indication of its enormity can be seen from the cost of each 250 kilogramme bomb used by the Air Force to attack Tiger guerrilla targets. It costs US $ 2,000 or more than Rs 200,000.

    Another domestic issue facing Rajapaksa is his Government`s relationship with other political parties. The JVP is distancing itself increasingly and one of its leader, K.D. Lalkantha, has already declared that the Year 2007 would be one of protests or in other words strikes. Rajapaksa last week sought a meeting with the JVP. Their leaders view the request as another move at rapproachment but are not encouraged. They have, as one source said, given dates which are not in the immediate future. They see this again as a courtesy.

    The Memorandum of Understanding between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) is also in the balance. More so after Rajapaksa`s declaration that at least 20 UNP parliamentarians want to join the Government. That leaves only one ally for the Government - the Jathika Hela Urumaya. Issue or no issue, they are sticking by the Rajapaksa Administration. This week a JHU MP was granted a plot of prime land in Kotte for a religious venture.

    There were persistent reports that a section of the UNP was determined to cross-over and join the Rajapaksa Government. UNP MP Milinda Moragoda was one of those who went alone (accompanied only by a business magnate) to meet Rajapaksa at the end of last year.

    On New Year day, reports reaching Colombo stated that UNP`s erstwhile Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has a tête-à-tête with Rajapaksa at the Kirivehera at Kataragama, and the topics discussed included a cross-over. On the record, Jayasuriya says that only `general issues` were discussed, while partaking in milk-rice, and he does not elaborate.

    The next day, however, Rajapaksa told a meeting in Colombo where he was conferring permanent employment to casual cadres of the Road Development Authority (who are working night and day re-shaping the Colombo roads for new security related traffic arrangements) that ` Ali pattau - ranchu pita ` - or small elephants by the herd - are waiting to join him, so why should he have a snap election.

    The JVP strongly believes that President Rajapaksa, contrary to all his denials, is setting the stage for a snap parliamentary election. Among other reasons, they believe the recent meeting of provincial councilors, addressed by the President, SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena and Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, was part of this move.

    Protagonists of the Government argue that many development projects launched by the Government have been shrouded by other developments. Hence, a larger segment of the public was unaware. They say an international conference hall much larger than the BMICH was now being constructed in Hambantota. It was a gift from the South Korean Government. New power projects have been launched. A large number of bridges were being constructed.

    All these developments make 2007 a decisive year, one that is going to pose a formidable challenge to President Rajapaksa. Losing old friends and making new, waging war to win peace amidst a deteriorating economy are just a handful of issues.

    - Sunday Times]

  • 7 Jan 2007 06:41:26 GMT

    [Govt. faces international pressure over HR issues

    The government is heading towards a major crisis as far as the human rights situation in the country is concerned. The offensive in the East to capture Vakarai and the Air Force bombing in Mannar have come into focus, where it is alleged that civilians are targeted and the security forces are accused of violating human rights.

    Thousands of civilians have fled the Vakarai area where security forces are steadily progressing. There were several accusations that civilians had suffered badly in the confrontations between the security forces and the LTTE. In Mannar, Air Force aerial bombardment of a Sea Tiger base had also caused damage to the nearby fishing village of Padahathurai. These human rights concerns drew strong reactions from the international community and particularly from the United Nations, with UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Margareta Wahlstrom issuing a strong statement urging both parties to resume peace negotiations.

    The European Union and the World Community is apparently exerting pressure on the government to put the record straight regarding the human rights situation and India too is stealthily supporting the stand of the international community.

    Germany taking over the Chairmanship of the European Union would not augur well for Sri Lanka. It was Germany?s Minister for Overseas Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul who moved to freeze aid to Sri Lanka while urging other European countries to do the same. It is also expected that Germany would make matters worse for the government as they take over the Chairmanship of the European Union.

    [Economic sanctions against Sri Lanka are on the cards and the European Union is likely to push this measure with the support of India and Norway. It is no doubt India is angry with the Sri Lankan government over its attitude regarding the delay in presenting a document that would enable negations to commence with the LTTE.

    What India feels is that Sri Lanka should not engage in actions that would create problems for the central government in New Delhi. When the situation deteriorates in the North and the East of Sri Lanka and refugees start fleeing to South India, it sets off a chain reaction that reaches the upper echelons of power in New Delhi.

    US diplomats based in Colombo have told most of their local contacts that if the government continues with its present policy, the co-chairs are seriously considering pulling out of the peace process. Most Western diplomats have expressed concern over the statement by Army Commander Sarath Fonseka that they would clear the Jaffna peninsula, after clearing the entirety of the East.]

    The India factor

    When things go badly for Sri Lankan Tamils, the Tamil Nadu state government raises severe objections and starts exerting pressure on the Central Government to take action and raise concern with the government of Sri Lanka. The Central Government is further pressurised by the fact that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister?s party, the DMK is an important partner in the present coalition government led by the Congress Party of India.

    To keep things quiet in the South and maintain the equilibrium in the centre, the Sri Lanka factor is important for India. Unsettled conditions in the North and East of Sri Lanka would certainly hamper the progress in Tamil Nadu which is competing heavily with Bangalore and Hyderabad to become the Information Technology hub of India. When reports of civilian deaths and casualties due to the conflict in Sri Lanka reach Tamil Nadu, it is strong enough to create ripples within the central government which would react against the Sri Lankan government to maintain its power base.

    It appears that what India wants is a federal solution to the North-East problem and they have placed faith in the Oslo Declaration agreed upon during the UNP regime where the LTTE agreed to a federal solution under a united Sri Lanka.

    India?s position is that the LTTE will have to respect the Oslo Declaration because it was witnessed by the international community and facilitated by Norway who is accepted by both parties. But now, India feels that the Sri Lankan government is deliberately delaying presenting such a solution, since President Mahinda Rajapaksa is strongly aligned with the Marxist JVP and the chauvinist JHU, who are vehemently opposing a solution to the ethnic crisis based on extensive devolution of power. The two ultra nationalist parties are pushing the government towards a military solution that would create more problems for the Rajapaksa administration, as far as the North-East problem is concerned.

    The immediate problem faced by the Rajapaksa administration is whether they would be able to clear the entirety of the East and flush out the remaining LTTE pockets or whether India would intervene stealthily and halt military offensives in the East to appease the Tamil Nadu administration. The suspicion in Colombo is that India might open a line to the LTTE via the TNA, since the Indian leaders met a TNA delegation two weeks ago.

    Whither MoU?

    The UNP seems to be silent in the face of all these problems after having signed the MoU with the government to co-operate on several crucial areas and especially to bring about a solution to the North-East problem. The UNP-SLFP MoU has failed to take off the ground, even after several one-to-one meetings between UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Although there have been many discussions between the two parties, the country has not gained anything so far from the MoU which was signed on October 23.

    Although the people had not achieved anything in general through the MoU, the two leaders had benefited to quite an extent from it. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been able to keep the main opposition without allowing them to capitalise on the present situation in the face of the sky rocketing cost of living and negative social conditions that have engulfed the country over the past few months. The downturn in the economy, the rampant spread of disease and the unsettled conditions in the country could have been used by the opposition to go back to the people and arouse them to protest. But it did not happen.

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also able to push his budget through parliament without any opposition from Wickremesinghe?s UNP. The UNP without even knowing the contents of the budget, decided to vote for it in parliament.

    At the same time, Ranil Wickremesinghe was able to temporarily stop the erosion in his party ranks by assuring the government his party?s support. Wickremesinghe moved strategically to stop the UNPers from crossing over to the government due to his dwindling popularity among the party rank and file. Although the two leaders have been able to strengthen their positions through the MoU, the country is yet to see the benefits.

    Problems regarding the Human Rights condition in the country are likely to give more headaches to the government with international attention being drawn to the report by the Special Advisor to the UN Rappateur on Children and Conflict, Allan Rock that the military was supporting the Karuna faction to recruit children to their cadre. The problems that have arisen with the Allan Rock report were discussed in the high echelons of the government where several legal experts were also present. Apparently one expert had advised the government to initiate an inquiry into the Allan Rock report before the international community takes the initiative. But this advice was opposed by many and there had been an exchange of words as well.

    New FM?

    In this backdrop, the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration has given serious thought to whether Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera would be able to mitigate the damage caused to the Sri Lankan government based on what is emanating from the Western world. The government believes that it is only through diplomacy that they can douse the fury of the West regarding the Human Rights violations in Sri Lanka.

    A UNP heavyweight such as Milinda Moragoda was the government?s first choice to take over the reigns of the Foreign Ministry. But Moragoda would not comply unless the UNP comes to a power sharing arrangement with the government as discussed during the initial stages of the discussions between the two parties. But now the government is not concerned with the SLFP-UNP MoU anymore and indications are that the government would even break away from the MoU to safeguard its own interests.

    After having failed to get Moragoda to handle the Foreign Ministry which is crucial in the present context, President Mahinda Rajapaksa offered the job to the head of the Sri Lanka delegation at the Geneva peace talks, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva.

    Minister De Silva had mentioned this to several of his close friends, but had turned down the President?s offer. However he had expressed his willingness to take over the Ministry of Ports and Aviation instead. The President has very few options when it comes to appointing a new Foreign Minister. They had also discussed on a compromise nominee for the post of the now vacant Foreign Ministry Secretary. Although government Peace Secretariat Chief Dr. Palith Kohona and the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to New Delhi, Romesh Jayasinghe were in the running for the hotly contested post, now it might transpire that Sri Lankan envoy in Israel Tissa Wijeratne will appointed as the next secretary to the Foreign Ministry. Former Secretary Siri Palihakkara resigned at the end of December. At the moment, Geetha De Silva is co-coordinating the business between the government and the Foreign Ministry. In the meantime, problems within the UNP too have reached boiling point and it is likely that a considerable number of influential UNPers would walk across the floor of the House and support the government shortly.

    The crossover talk got credence after President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing a function last week, said there was no need to go for an election immediately since there are a large number of baby elephants waiting to join the government. However after the President?s remark, former UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema had inquired from Ranil Wickremesinghe who was abroad, whether to respond. Wickremesinghe had asked him to remain quiet over it and hold back whoever was trying to cross over.

    The President is most unlikely to go for an election at the moment since a recent survey had indicated that the maximum number of seats an SLFP alliance can secure is 107. The same survey revealed that the JVP would get 18 seats.

    The likely crossovers are a result of the crisis simmering within the UNP since its defeat at the last Presidential election. It is pertinent to question at this moment as to who is responsible for this crisis within the single largest political party in the country. Most would answer that the situation has become irreversible due to Party Leader Wickremesinghe failing to implement the crucial reforms needed to rejuvenate the party at grassroots level.

    It is likely that the reformists who are crossing over would join as a group from the UNP and would support the government as members of the UNP. The reformists are of the view that there is no point in joining as individuals and if they decide to support the government, it would be as an alternate group of the UNP parliamentary group. However, what many feel is that Karu Jayasuriya should not go if he is not offered the Premiership, since a recent survey conducted by the government had indicated that Karu Jayasuriya is the alternate leader to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Therefore, taking Jayasuriya into its ranks is advantageous to the government, since in any case, the government wants Wickremesinghe to remain as Opposition Leader. If Jayasuriya joins the government, the threat of an alternate leader gets diminished and by nature, Jayasuriya is not arrogant or bashful. He is also not an aggressive campaigner and would not go against anyone in a harsh manner.

    If Jaysuriya accepts the premiership what should his role be? The main objective should be to instill discipline and some sanity into government quarters which are currently in disarray. Also he should give priority to improving the government?s Human Rights record and the law and order situation, instilling confidence in the people that they are living in a reasonable country where law and order is maintained and not in an autocracy.

    Kirivehera meeting

    An informal meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Karu Jayasuriya took place at Kataragama with the dawn of the New Year. As a practice, Jayasuriya spends New Year?s eve at the grounds of the Kataragama holy site. On January 1, he offered a pooja to the Kirivehara Dagoba. President Mahinda Rajapaksa also visited Kataragama accompanied by wife Shiranthi. The chief incumbent of the Kirivehara Temple, Venerable Aluthwewa Soratha Thera had organised a New Year table with kiribath and sweet meats at the temple for the President and invited Jayasuriya also to join in. It is here that the duo met and had an informal chat that had also led to much speculation in UNP circles.

    All this depends on the seriousness of the thought given by the reformists to join the government. However nothing has been finalised yet and the Wickremesinghe loyalists in the party are doing their utmost to get rid of the reformers and drive them towards joining the government. It is said that the UNP leadership does not mind 10-12 people crossing over, but the number could even be more. The government too is keen on forming a government of national consensus which might materialise in the near future.

    With the UNP crossovers on the cards, President Mahinda Rajapksa is also contemplating a cabinet reshuffle within the next two weeks. The most likely changes that could happen are in the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Tourism. Both Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Anura Bandaranaike, who had not been in the good books of the President of late, would probably get reassigned.

    New nexus?

    While undercurrents are moving from the UNP towards the government for key reformers to join government ranks, new political alliances are also emerging of a different nature. Political circles are buzzing on a nexus emerging between UNP Leader Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Several events that took place recently indicate such an alliance and the relationship between President Rajapaksa and Minister Samaraweera is also at an all time low, with the latter complaining to the President on the interference by the President?s brother and Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the affairs of the Foreign Ministry.

    Also Minister Samaraweera, Deputy Minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi and Minister Samaraweera?s close confidante and Chairman of the Airport and Aviation Authority Tiran Alles paid a visit to the Dalada Maligawa with the dawn of the New Year, and paid call to the Mahanayaka Theras of the Malwatte and the Asgiriya Chapters. Most people who know Minister Samaraweera are of the view that this sort of visit is rather unusual for him to undertake. At the same time, an unusual appointment had been made to a media venture financed by Tiran Alles. A close confidante of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former Chairman of Lake House during the UNP regime, Attorney-at-Law, Nalin Ladduwahetty has been appointed as the Managing Director of Standard Newspapers, the publishers of the Sunday Standard and Maubima newspapers, which is partly owned by Tiran Alles. It was no secret that the Standard Newspapers were launched just before the Presidential election to prop up the image of Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the new appointment, with the shifting of the editorial policy of the newspapers published by the company, has raised many an eyebrow. Soon after the appointment of Ladduwahetty, Editor of the Sunday Standard Rohan Abeywardane submitted his resignation over differences of opinion with the new Managing Director.

    In a separate development, Deputy Education Minister Nirmala Kotalawala had written to President Mahinda Rajapksa requesting him to appoint a special Presidential committee of inquiry into the allegations levelled against former President Chandrika Kumaratunga by various parties on what had happened during her tenure in office. Deputy Minister Kotalawala had handed over the letter to the President on January 2. He had also mentioned the allegations levelled against Kumaratunga in the book published by Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan. Kotalawala had requested the President to clear former President Kumaratunga?s name by appointing this commission of inquiry, since he says that the country?s reputation too had suffered after the UNESCO suspended her posting with them.

    However many suspect whether this letter is a ploy to further humiliate former President Kumaratunga by appointing a committee of inquiry. The theory being floated is that the letter would have originated from the Rajapaksa camp itself, and is not a spontaneous action on the part of Kotalawala. Deputy Minister Kotalawala on a previous occasion during the last Presidential Election, fired a letter to Minister Anura Bandaranaike questioning him as to why he was not actively supporting the candidature of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    - The Nation

    ]

  • 7 Jan 2007 06:43:37 GMT

    Hello Mr

    Did you get up from your COMMA

    I am sure there is LTTE connections..........Bust them for GOOD ...........B4 they bust you

  • 7 Jan 2007 06:46:56 GMT

    This is very sad. All my Tamil friends are decent,educated

    and law abinding citizens. unfortunately this is the harsh reality of having a criminal gangster as the sole leader of their community. Hope one day majority of Tamils would have the guts to rise up against those criminals who continue to benifit with racial hatred that forced upon the Tamil community by this Tamil criminal gang for their own personal benifits.That is the only way that Tamil community can re-claim their rightful place in this global village.

  • 7 Jan 2007 07:38:53 GMT

    These type of Tamil criminals in England are an extension of the type of people involved with the LTTE criminals. Now this garbage has been exported to England. Shame both to the Tamils that are law-abiding and want nothing to do with this war.

  • 7 Jan 2007 07:58:59 GMT

    This is nothing new nor limited to the Tamil community. eg.Vancouver, BC, police always appeal to the Sikh community for help and at times appealed to the Filipino community, Calgary, AB have appealed to the Vietnamese Community and in Toronto Tamil community. One of reason is that they do not yet have the resources that understands the communities and are still alien.

    So don`t get your nickers in a knot there is nothing unusual.

  • 7 Jan 2007 08:04:50 GMT

    We are appealing to tamil comunity for last 30 years. They dont listen.

  • 7 Jan 2007 08:11:05 GMT

    If they listened even the few that is left behind wont be alive today.

    So you can call Tamils many things but not stupid.

  • 7 Jan 2007 08:53:11 GMT

    London gonna become CMB now????