With people being rounded up
willy-nilly following the recent
bomb blasts in the city there has
been a rush to obtain ID cards. As a
result these students sitting the
G.C.E. (O/L) examination this year
are having an anxious time wondering
if the Department of Registration of
Persons will be able to issue their
national identity cards on time for
the exam starting next week. --Photo
by Thusitha Kumara
Budget heading for photo finish
The final vote on the budget scheduled for
December 14 is expected to be a photo finish
with both the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and
the Ceylon Workers' Congress expected to
decide how they would vote early this week.
The government won the second reading
registering 118 votes while the opposition
registered 102 votes. The UNP, JVP and the
TNA have already announced they will vote
against the budget on December 14.
The Sunday Leader learns all 22 TNA MPs will
be present for the vote on December 14
including the two MPs who were absent during
the last vote with SLFP dissident Wijedasa
Rajapakse also expected to vote with the
government giving the combined opposition
It is also learned the JVP dissident MP
Nandana Gunatilleke who abstained during the
vote on the second reading will vote with
the government on December 14.
However the SLMC which has six MPs and the
CWC which also counts for six MPs are to
review their decisions based on the
government's response to a number of
proposals they have submitted and announce
how they will vote early this week. Both the
CWC and the SLMC gave their 12 votes in
favour of the budget on the November 19
second reading vote.
The SLMC Working Committee, which met on
Sunday, December 2 overwhelmingly, called on
the party MPs to vote against the budget due
to the government's failure to address
grievances of the Muslim community.
SLMC General Secretary, Hasan Ali confirmed
to The Sunday Leader that the working
committee decided that the party should vote
against the budget but said a final decision
will be taken early this week.
Meanwhile the CWC too has decided to review
its position in view of the harassment meted
out to upcountry Tamils following the
arbitrary arrest and detention of several
Following decisions reached at a high level
meeting of the CWC, Minister Arumugam
Thondaman boycotted Wednesday's cabinet
meeting with the entire CWC parliamentary
group boycotting parliament during the
emergency debate vote.
A top CWC source said the party would take a
final decision on how they will vote on the
budget before December 12.
Meanwhile the government is independently
attempting to lure several opposition MPs to
crossover before December 14 while the
opposition is in discussion with six MPs of
the ruling UPFA.
Informed sources said Chief Government Whip
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle last week told
President Rajapakse to postpone his visits
to Japan and England in view of the delicate
balance of power leading up to the December
14 vote. Sources close to the President said
the President had refused to do so informing
Fernandopulle that the government
parliamentary group should know to secure
The President is expected to leave for Tokyo
early this morning.
Service Chief submits
to jurisdiction of foreign court
Navy Chief grilled on torture by Aussie
Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha
Karannagoda last week denied to an
Australian Court under cross examination
that Sri Lanka used torture to extract
Karannagoda who was a key prosecution
witness made the denial under cross
examination in a Melbourne Magistrates Court
in a terrorism case against three Tamils
accused of raising funds for the LTTE.
The Navy Commander appeared by video link in
the Melbourne Court on December 4.
The three Tamils, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy,
33, Sivarajah Yathavan, 36 and Arumugam
Rajeevan 41 are facing a committal hearing
and are charged with being members of a
terrorist organisation, making funds
available to a terrorist organisation and
channelling funds to a proscribed entity.
While Vinayagamoorthy and Yadavan are also
charged with intentionally providing
resources or support to a terrorist
organisation the prosecution alleges the
three men funneled AUD 1.9 million in
donations from Australian Tamils to their
homeland to support a terrorist campaign.
Questioned by Defence lawyer Phillip Boulten
SC, Karannagoda denied ever hearing of
widely reported allegations that Sri Lankan
authorities had tortured former members of
the LTTE during interrogations.
Karannagoda also said in evidence that much
of the sworn material evinced in court by
him were as a result of interviews conducted
with Tamil Tiger cadres who had fled the
LTTE's command and sought assistance from
the Sri Lankan government.
The Navy Commander's statement contained
details of LTTE leadership and recruitment
and detailed a large number of atrocities.
Meanwhile the appearance of Sri Lanka's Navy
Commander in an Australian court of law has
raised eyebrows in diplomatic circles as
such an appearance, they say, tantamounts to
Sri Lanka subjecting itself to the domestic
laws of another sovereign state.
Legal experts speaking to The Sunday Leader
said this may amount to Sri Lanka waiving
its sovereign immunity to be a witness in a
foreign court and may tantamount to a
violation of Sri Lanka's sovereignty.
Diplomats however point out that Sri Lanka's
Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona being a
citizen of Australia may have been a
persuading factor. The Prosecution was led
by Mark Dean SC and the committal hearing
before Magistrate Peter Reardon is
Basil promotes new
Nandana to form JVP breakaway party
A new JVP faction is currently in the making
under the leadership of former JVP
presidential candidate and senior party
member Nandana Gunathilleke.
It is now learnt that this new JVP faction
would be formed under Gunathilleke after the
vote on the third reading of the budget on
December 14. Formation of the new party is
expected to take place as soon as December
Gunathilleke was removed from the party
several months ago due to an internal
conflict. However, he remained as a
parliamentarian without resigning due to
requests made by President Mahinda Rajapakse
and brother Basil Rajapakse.
The Rajapakse brothers after recognising
Gunathilleke's potential to form a new
political front, an alternative to the JVP,
requested him to remain in politics in order
to give the necessary leadership to the new
The decision to promote another party from
within the JVP follows the party's decision
to vote against the budget.
Informed sources said the controversy
surrounding the JVP's decision to vote
against the budget pushed Basil Rajapakse to
call Gunathilleke for several discussions,
where it was finally decided to launch a new
JVP under Gunathilleke's leadership
following the budget vote on December 14.
The first step in the campaign is for
Gunathilleke to vote in favour of the budget
on December 14.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Gunathilleke
has already held secret discussions with
several provincial leaders of the JVP to
muster their support for the new political
Rajapakse has also agreed to provide several
breakaway members of the JVP with top jobs
in the state sector and create employment
opportunities for at least 1,000 of their
ASC tops tender for
Colombo South Harbour Terminal project
The Aitken Spence led consortium comprising
the Port of Singapore has been selected as
the most eligible bidder that should be
called for negotiations for the Colombo
South Harbour Terminal operation, The Sunday
Informed sources said the project committee
report submitted to the Cabinet Appointed
Negotiating Committee (CANC) stated that
based on the tender document issued, Aitken
Spence consortium was the most eligible
bidder that should be called for
It is learned the CANC which met on November
19 had also unanimously agreed with the
recommendations of the project committee.
However, it is learned the Chairman of the
Ports Authority Saliya Wickramasuriya who is
a member of the CANC later raised issue with
the recommendations with President's
Secretary Lalith Weeratunga resulting in the
CANC calling on the project committee to
make further clarifications on their
The Sunday Leader learns Hutchison of Hong
Kong is also making a strong bid for the
project having being invited to tender by
the Ports Authority Chairman.
However, an informed source said the project
committee on Friday responded to the
clarifications sought by the CANC and
maintained that the Aitken Spence consortium
should be the party that should be invited
Be ready for elections
President Mahinda Rajapakse last week called
on government members to be prepared to face
an early general election.
The President informed the ruling party MPs
to be ready for early elections at the
parliamentary group meeting on Monday,
He has said that although there was no doubt
of a government victory at the third reading
vote on the budget on December 14, the
government members should be prepared to
face an election in the event the budget was
This was the first occasion the President
has requested the government members to be
prepared for an early election.
"We will win on December 14. Our votes will
be higher than what we received on November
19. The problem is that there is talk in the
country that we are afraid to face an
election. If we by chance lose on the 14th,
we may have to go for an election. In case
that happens, everyone has to be prepared to
face an election. We would not have a
problem even if we go for an election. The
present situation would help us win. Don't
think that there would not be an election.
Therefore, work with the intention of
winning," the President has said.
Calls for UN HR mission
as civilian death toll mounts
By Amantha Perera
Two prominent international human rights
watch dogs, Amnesty International (AI) and
Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week once
again called for the setting up of a field
presence of the off ice of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights as violence
claimed over 50 civilian lives in the
"AI and HRW ask the Human Rights Council to
urge the Sri Lankan Government to agree
without delay to the establishment of a
United Nations field operation with a strong
monitoring mandate, and further urge all
parties to the conflict to comply with their
obligations under international law to
protect civilians and allow access by
humanitarian aid agencies to populations in
need," they said in a letter addressed to UN
Human Rights Commissioner Louis Arbour on
The UN Human Right Council will be in
session in the coming week from December 10
to 14. In September heavy lobbying by the
government was able to prevent any
resolution critical of Sri Lanka being
tabled at the sessions.
The AI and HRW said that over 50 civilians
had been killed in attacks in government
controlled areas and the Wanni after
"The failure of the Government of Sri Lanka
and the LTTE to abide by their obligations
under international humanitarian law,
including customary law relating to the
methods and means of warfare, and to take
all feasible measures to protect civilians
from harm, has encouraged a cycle of abuses
against civilians with impunity," they said
in the letter.
The letter focused on the attacks in the
Wanni of November 27 that left 11 civilians
dead and 20 others in Nugegoda and the
latest in Kabethigollawa.
It also said that large number of
disappearances had been reported from Jaffna
- "Reports indicate that unlawful killings
and enforced disappearances continue at very
high levels. According to official sources,
over 200 civilians were reported missing in
Jaffna District since January 2007."
The government however is unlikely to yield
to international pressure to establish a UN
field presence here to monitors abuse.
Last week Disaster Management and Human
Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe had
repeated the government's stand at a
briefing in Geneva attended by Arbour.
"Human Rights Minister, Samarasinghe,
briefing regional groups and the UN High
Commissioner Louise Arbour in Geneva, ruled
out a fully fledged OHCHR field presence in
Sri Lanka," the Information Department said.
Samarasinghe told the meeting attended by
the ambassadors of Asia, Africa, Eastern
Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the
Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of the
Islamic Conference and others that the
government was not restricting UN officials
from visiting the country and was engaged in
a constructive dialogue.
"He emphasized the need for a practicable
home-grown model which is acceptable to the
elected Government and the people of Sri
Lanka. Ruling out a 'super-national' body,
the minister stated that Sri Lanka has been
an independent state for almost 60 years and
a functioning democracy that has enjoyed
universal adult franchise since 1931. He
further explained that the country was
facing a serious threat to its security from
one of the most ruthless terrorist outfits
in the world," the Department said.
Heavy fighting along northern FDL
By Amantha Perera
Heavy fighting erupted along the volatile
Vavuniya-Mannar forward defence lines right
through last week and continued into the
weekend, the military and the Tigers said.
Six hours of fighting was reported in the
Admapan area, about seven km from the Mannar
coast. The Tigers said that a large number
of government troops broke out of the line
at Manthai, west of Adampan on Friday,
December 7 morning around 9 am. They were
backed by artillery, multi-barrel, mortar
fire and helicopter gun ships, Tamilnet
said. It said that the fighting had lasted
six hours but the government advance had
been stopped. No details of causalities were
available in the report.
Meanwhile the Army claimed that 17 Tigers,
including six female cadres had been killed
in fighting in the Mannar District on
December 7. "Seventeen LTTE cadres were
killed and over 18 injured in pre-emptive
strikes launched by the Army in the
Narrikulam general area," the Army said.
It said troops had not suffered any
casualties. The Defence Ministry also
reported fighting in the Palamootai area and
Periyatamapani on the same day. It said four
Tigers and a soldier were killed.
In an operation on December 1 and 2, the
military said that it had captured the first
bunker line along the Tiger defences at
Adampan. Heavy fighting during the operation
and an ensuing attempt by the Tigers to
recapture the line left over 40 Tigers dead.
The Tigers denied the Military claims and
said the troops withdrew after suffering
LTTE Military spokesperson Rasaiyah Marshall
told The Sunday Leader the army tried to
infiltrate at Kurisuddakulam and was forced
to retreat after suffering heavy casualties.
He said at least 10 soldiers were killed and
a large number injured.
Marshall further claimed bodies of soldiers
were handed over to their families through
the International Red Cross. He also said
the LTTE suffered no casualties in the
offensive but recovered a large haul of
small arms and ammunition.
Marshall also claimed the LTTE thwarted an
army attack in Karukkalum with the security
forces retreating after suffering heavy
casualties. He said one Tiger was killed in
The Tigers have also deployed cadres in
large numbers and bolstered the defences
along the FDL north of Vavuniya following
sustained government offensives and
skirmishes. The line of control is usually
manned by three bunker lines on either side.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said that the
Tigers had moved Vidusha the military head
of the female Tigers into the Vavuniya -Mannar
front line area to bolster the moral of
female cadres stationed in the area. She is
the head of the Malathi brigade, named after
the first female Tiger to die in battle. The
Charles Anthony Brigade too has been active
behind the Tiger forward line.
Fire in Kamburupitiya
Several shops were destroyed
by a fire in the Kamburupitiya town in
The police stated that about
eight shops were destroyed in the
Kamburupitiya town due to a fire that broke
out in a petrol shed.
The fire was said to have
been caused due to a technical defect that
had occurred when pumping fuel to a vehicle