War will end in a matter of hours
Is Pirapaharan gone?
By Risidra Mendis
The military yesterday said that it is concentrating on rescuing thousands of
civilians held hostage by the LTTE.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader that a time
frame cannot be given in this context, on when the war would come to an end.
There were speculations that LTTE Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan had blown himself up
along with other Tiger leaders.
The military however was not in a position to confirm whether Pirapaharan had killed
himself, as it had not yet reached the area.
"There were explosions in the remaining LTTE area. However, we cannot confirm
whether Pirapaharan and the LTTE leaders had blown themselves up," Nanayakkara
However, the military confirmed that a victory is now down to a matter of hours.
World opinion has described this war as being the bloodiest on the planet. The last
24 hours have had international television stations beaming heartbreaking pictures
of civilian casualties, which however failed to cease a massive military onslaught
against Tamil Tigers, forcing the once feared rebel organisation to a bloody end.
The military said that it was not sure of the whereabouts of Pirapaharan. Brigade
Commander of the 58 Division, Brigadier Shavendra Silva was quoted as saying that
the military was not in a position to confirm whether Pirapaharan was in the newly
demarcated safe zone.
e had said that only the voices of Pottu Amman, Soosai and Swarnam were heard in the
communication systems, but not Pirapaharan. Nanayakkara however said Pirapaharan
generally does not come on radio.
Friday May 15, the military said they expected Pirapaharan to either surrender or be
killed over the weekend. "We do not know what he would do. But we are prepared for
anything," Nanayakkara said.
The UN also on Friday appealed to the Government to end the conflict and allow
thousands of civilians still trapped in a tiny coastal strip of land to escape.
UN figures show that some 7000 Tamils have been killed between January 20 and May 7
But despite grave concern being shown by the UN on the number of
civilian casualties and the international community calling on the government for a
ceasefire President Mahinda Rajapakse refused to be cowed by international criticism
insisting the war must go on and that a military victory is imminent.
The military said civilians were continuing to crossover to government held areas
and a specific number of the remaining civilians could not be given.
He said some 20,000 civilians in a do or die attempt on Friday escaped from the 'new safe zone'
during the last three days, even as rebels fired at the fleeing group of hostages as
they desperately ran for their lives.
At least four doctors who were working in the hospitals in the 'safe zone' who had
left with the civilians Friday are believed to be held for questioning by the
military on the basis that they released information to the media on government
shelling of the safe zone which killed hundreds of civilians last Sunday May 10.
Nanayakkara however denied these reports stating that no doctors had reached the
Two days later on May 12, Sri Lanka's Defence Ministry vehemently denied the news
item carried on some international media and pro-LTTE websites alleging the security
forces shelled at a hospital inside the "Civilian Safe Zone" (CSZ), killing at least
45 civilians, according to LTTE and alleged hospital sources.
"This is another deliberate attempt made by the LTTE terrorists and its propaganda
machinery to tarnish the image of the security forces" military spokesperson
Brigadier Nanayakkara said.
On May 14, the defence ministry charged that the LTTE were using white phosphorous
bombs as a weapon against advancing forces in a bid to halt the final attack.
The military said the bombs had been deployed by the rebels, as landmines along their
defence lines to halt advancing troops.
The government's decision to bar journalists form the war zone has prevented any
independent verification of claims made by the conflicting parties.
IMF funding delayed
Desperate govt. turns to ADB
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
delay in securing the US$ 1.9 billion standby facility
from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pushed
the government to look at enhanced funding from the
Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ease the country's
foreign reserves crisis.
government is currently holding discussions with the ADB
to obtain enhanced funding for this year and 2010 to
solve the balance of payment crisis.
However the ADB has clearly stated that it does not
provide balance of payments support.
Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Richard Vokes
said, while the bank has set aside additional funds and
mechanisms to help developing member countries, which
also includes the possibility of some front loading of
ADB's proposed support in 2011 to 2009 and 2010,
discussions on extending the initiative to Sri Lanka is
Responding to questions posed by The Sunday Leader via
e-mail Vokes said, "In view of the serious financial and
global economic crisis affecting the region, ADB has set
aside some additional funds and mechanisms to assist its
Developing Member Countries to weather the current
also includes the possibility of some front-loading of
our proposed support in 2011 to 2009 and 2010. In line
with these initiatives, ADB has had and is having
discussions with the Government of Sri Lanka but these
are still on going. These could result in a limited
enhancement of lending levels in 2009 and 2010."
asked if the ADB would release additional funds for Sri
Lanka given the delay in the release of the first
tranche of the US$ 1.9 IMF billion bail out package to
Sri Lanka due to various issues, Vokes said that ADB
funding is primarily for projects and thus depends
mainly on the needs of the projects and project
readiness."We believe that it is important to try and
keep capital expenditure up as much as possible during
this time of crisis so that the country is well placed
to benefit from the global recovery when it comes," he
Meanwhile, an IMF spokesperson in
told The Sunday Leader that discussions with the
authorities on an IMF-supported programme for Sri Lanka
are still ongoing.
Central Bank of
meantime is also holding discussions with the Malaysian
Central Bank to obtain a US$ 200 million loan.
Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Finance and
State Revenue Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya were not
available for comment.
Investigations into both
Golden Key and Gold Quest quashed by Nivard Cabraal
Central Bank report now in the possession of The Sunday
Leader reveals that Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal
used his authority to dismiss the findings of a high
level investigation into the Gold Quest pyramid scheme.
2005 Central Bank special investigation unit progress
report details the findings of the SIUs investigation
into Golden Key and Gold Quest.
report reveals that a special team hadinfiltrated the
Gold Quest scheme and having recorded promotional
speeches made by Gold Quest members the SIU informed the
Securities and Exchange Commission, which moved to
arrestWeeraman, Manager of the Rhythm Collection shop in
Premier Pacific.Rhythm Collection owned by a friend of
Nivard Cabraal's - Anura Fernando distributed the gold
sovereigns that were at the centre of the Gold Quest
scam. The SIU simultaneously took action against Fern
Tea - another company headed by Anura Fernando in which
a Gold Quest front company, based in Hong Kong, held a
SIU discovered that Fern Tea was being used by Gold
Quest to import gold into the country.
action was taken to stop Fern Tea importing further
consignments of gold as of 2005 further investigations
into the company were pending.
However the company Suntex International which owned a
controlling stake in Fern Tea also owned a majority
stake in Nivard Cabraal's own business- Capital Reach
the prospect of having his own business investigated for
their relationship with Gold Quest, after his
appointment as governor in mid 2006, Cabraal- actively
disbanded the team that had compiled the initial reports
on Gold Quest. Investigation into both Golden Key and
Gold Quest werereported in the 2005 SIU progress report
but by 2006 these investigations had been swept under
marked the transition from the governorship of Sunil
Mendis to the incumbent Cabraal and its clear the
responsibility for terminating both reports rests
entirely with Nivard Cabraal.
Restraining order on Leader
order restraining Leader Publications preventing the
publication of articles defamatory of Defence Secretary
Gotabaya Rajapakse was vacated by Additional District
Judge Mohamed Mackie on Thursday (14).
order was granted on the basis that the defending
company, Leader Publications undertook to refrain from
publishing articles defamatory of or injurious to the
defending company will be held liable for legal action
for a future breach of the court's directive.
the case was called before Additional District Judge
Macki Mohamed, M. U. M. Ali Sabry, Senior Counsel for
the Defence Secretary submitted to court that Leader
Publications should avoid publishing any articles or
statements defamatory to the Defence Secretary.
Counsel Sabry told court that any violation of the said
undertaking would result in the filing of action against
the defending company.
Counsel for the Leader Publications D. W. Johnthasan who
deputised for Senior Counsel Ronald Perera undertook to
instruct his clients to refrain form publishing articles
or statements defamatory to Defence Secretary Gotabaya
Publications was not required to tender any apology in
court or to make any admission of guilt in this
regard.Under the Civil Procedure Code, defamation is an
offence punishable by law. The country's penal
legislation relating to defamation was repealed in 2002.
Perera with D. W. Johnthasan instructed by Reshan Gamage
appeared for the Leader Publications. Senior Counsel M.
U. M. Ali Sabry with Erasha Kalidasa instructed by
Sanath Wijewardena appeared for the Defence Secretary.
The case will be called again on July 9, 2009.
will not smell of roses soon!
The sewers of Colombo: an epidemic in the wings
By Faraz Shauketally
1900s is famous for many things: Joseph Conrad wrote the
Heart of Darkness, mass production of cars began, the
was built and in Ceylon, the sewer pumping stations of
Colombo, too, were built. An immensely helpful part of
the infrastructure build undertaken by the British
colonial rulers: the fact that it has lasted this long
is testimony to their engineering capabilities and
indeed the robustness of the system. It has hardly
needed ongoing maintenance which probably was just as
well - given the typical Sri Lankan penchant for
carrying out little maintenance as possible.
good things must come to an end and that is exactly what
has happened to the pumping stations and much of
Colombo's sewerage system. It is over 100 years old, and
is under performing, leaking and threatening the
sanitary levels in Colombo.The development of Colombo
city over the years - the hotels, the houses, the high
rise buildings with their growing number of apartments,
schools and the increase in the population has had a
heavy burden on the sewerage system.
antiquated equipment and the aged pipes are taking their
toll and it shows. Pumps are partially working or not at
all. The collateral damage is very much in evidence:
wastage, incorrect meter readings (when air gets into
the system as pipes leak) and most frightening of all,
the potential for an epidemic of gigantic proportions:
the repercussions will be felt everywhere.
tourism industry will shudder at the thought of an
outbreak of any disease. The industry is susceptible to
even minor threats as it is. It is still struggling from
the impact of the tsunami, low occupancy levels due to
the global economic crisis and the perceived terror
threats - especially the LTTE attacks in areas that were
never a part of the terror threat like Galle for
instance. It certainly can do without another potential
much anticipated war effort has finally shown results.
The stock market is expected to once again display its
traditional (and now well known) buoyancy. Anticipation
of a boom - despite the global crisis - in the economic
fortunes of this country is at an all time high. The
fall in the housing sector is expected to rise sharply
on the back of the permanent lull in the northern parts
of the island as the war comes to an end.
sewerage system is quite literally breaking - bursting
even - at the seams. Pipes are bursting, the leakages
seep into water lines in parts of Colombo like
Maligakanda and Wellawatta. The leaks underground cause
further damage too: roads are collapsing adding to the
chaos on the roads in the city. As the leaking sewers
slowly but surely seeps into the water lines as well as
wells, the potential for a disaster of immense
proportions is a real possibility.
Colombo Municipal Council is presently being run by an
unelected administrative official acting as Competent
Authority. Such a move whilst being prudent and
necessary to take care of the day to day administering
of the CMC functions - is inadequate to forge
development policies, which are usually politically
the recent convincing election victory by the UFPA and
the appointment of a new Chief Minister, the immediate
future of the CMC looks set to be better.
Notwithstanding this, the Competent Authority has made
moves to obtain support and funding from the Department
of National Planning.
However, with the enormous additional drain on the
Treasury in terms of spend relating to the Internally
Displaced, for instance, funding for projects such as
these - however critical and essential it may be - will
be at a premium.
Sources close to the CMC say that this project will need
to be escalated as a priority project and foreign
funding agencies and donors will need to be approached.
is certain however is that Colombo has a grave and
imminent risk on its hands - its citizenry expects that
their elected legislators will be responsible enough to
recognise the urgency and the reality of the problem
well before it is too late and that all party support
will bring about a solution sooner than later.
Shortage of drugs at Cancer
lack of Chemotherapy drugs
and vials at the Cancer Institute (CI)
Maharagama have driven
innocent patients into untold suffering, a Medical
Specialist attached to the CI told The Sunday Leader.
According to the sources Boxorubicin, Cisplatin,
Carboplatin, Ifphosphamide, Vinblastin and Gemcitabine
drugs that are widely used for patients are not
available at the
for the past few weeks.
is a special way of drug administration for
cancer patients. These
drugs and vials are very expensive and cannot be
afforded by poor patients that visit the hospital.
Knowing their mental agonies we still have to request
them to bring these medicines from private pharmacies.
Bad administration policies are the main reason for the
drug shortage at this most important hospital in the
country,” added the sources.
sources further said that although the Health Ministry
has allocated necessary funds for local purchase the
funds are rarely used to buy Chemotherapy drugs that are
the sole responsibility of the
hospital management to find out the drugs that
are being widely used and to order them on time to avoid
any shortage. When we speak to our patients they tell us
their agony but how can we help them rather than
prescribing them to buy the medicine from outside,”
claimed the sources.
However refuting allegations Deputy Director CI
Maharagama, Dr.Vasantha Dissanayake told The Sunday
Leader that there is no such drug shortage in the
hospital as claimed by certain doctors. “There was such
an issue for a few days but when we informed the Health
Ministry they immediately allocated special funds to the
hospital enabling us to purchase the necessary drugs
locally. Earlier it was the
Medical Supplies Department that supplied the
medicine to the hospital but since last week we have
been purchasing the necessary medicine locally. As a
result there is no such shortage in the hospital,” Dr.
TNA urges the Tamil Representation
the Northern Dev. Task Force
Tamil National Alliance has expressed its disappointment
on the lack of Tamil representation in the newly
appointed Task Force for the Northern Development.
Parliamentarian Mavai Senadhiraja told The Sunday
Leader that the representatives of the Tamil people
should have been included in the Task Force.
Cabinet has approved this week the appointment of the 19
member Task Force for Resettlement, Development and
Security in the Northern Province headed by
parliamentarian and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa.
Senadhiraja pointed out that the Task Force represents
only the Sinhalese army officials and the Ministry
Secretaries. He also said that they have to wait and see
the outcome of the Northern Development Task Force.
Meanwhile, TULF Leader V. Anandasangaree told The
Sunday Leader that the Government feels that there
is no one to advice them from the Tamil Community.
failed to contact Ministers Douglas Devananda and
Vinayagamoothi Muralidharan on the Northern Development
ICRC suspends operations
By Arthur Wamanan
only available lifeline for thousands of civilians and
the sick and the wounded in the combat zone was shut
down last week when the ICRC suspended its operations
after three failed attempts.
ICRC has decided to stop its medical evacuation
operations due to the intense and uninterrupted fighting
in the area, which means that transportation of food
items will also not be taking place,” ICRC Spokesperson
Sarasi Wijeratne told The Sunday Leader last Friday.
Thousands of civilians are reported to be trapped in the
shrinking coastal strip off Mullaithivu. The UN says
that at least 50,000 civilians are still trapped in the
ICRC had attempted to transport 25 metric tonnes of food
and essential items on May 12, 13 and 14 but was not
able to do so due to uninterrupted fighting.
and medical supplies have been transported to the combat
area at least twice a week, according to Wijeratne. “The
amount of food transported varies,” she said.
food has reached the conflict zone since May 9.
addition to the ferry, a cargo ship, the Oriental
Princess, carrying another 500MT of food from the WFP,
also could not reach the combat zone due to clashes. The
ship too was waiting off the coast north of Mullaithivu,
ready to deliver the food to civilians, the UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said
in its situation report last Thursday. The ICRC had
evacuated 516 persons the last time it reached the
14,000 patients and their accompanying relatives have
been evacuated by the ICRC and 2350 metric tonnes of
food have been transported to the region since mid
ICRC began its medical evacuation process on February 10
and had so far carried out 31 such operations.
Wijeratne however stated that the medical evacuations
and transportation of food and essential supplies would
commence once the ground situation becomes conducive for
the organisation to go into the area.
is suspension is temporary. We will recommence the
operations once the ground situation returns to normal.
We will continue to keep in touch with both, the
government and the LTTE on this regard,” Wijeratne
Call to transfer murder investigation
By Nirmala Kannangara
police yet again failed to submit the investigation
report into the assassination of The Sunday Leader
Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge to the Mt.
Lavinia Magistrate when the murder trial was taken up on
Thursday, May 14.
Attorney at Law Athula R. Ranagala who appeared on
behalf of the slain editor’s wife Sonali Samarasinghe
Wickrematunge requested the Acting Magistrate to hand
over the investigation to the CID since the police had
failed to make any breakthrough for the past four
police neither submitted the investigation report
nor disclosed any investigation details. I had to
request the court to hand over the investigation to the
CID. The Acting Magistrate said that it could be
considered at the next hearing date on June 11,”
Ranagala told The Sunday Leader.
queried as to why the police failed to submit the
investigation report for the third consecutive date,
Police Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said the
delay in submitting the report was that there were more
details to be uncovered but declined to give details
into the investigation process.
police could not divulge the details as it could derail
the investigation process,” claimed SSP Gunasekera.
Gunasekera further said that the police are conducting
special investigations based on Wickrematunge’s
telephone details and the Government Analyst’s report.
Meanwhile Attorney Ranagala said that he could not see
any genuine effort by the police to make any
breakthrough and added that unless it is handed over to
the CID this investigation too will come to an abrupt
end. Wickrematunge’s murder trial will be taken up again
on June 11.
PHIs to issue notice on offenders as
dengue statistics swell
By Ranee Mohamed
coming weeks will see PHIs armed with the powers of a
new law - the Prevention of Mosquito Breeding Act -
issuing notices on offenders who do not comply with this
Meanwhile dengue statistics are continuing to swell,
with 4605 cases being reported countrywide as of
Wednesday. These statistics however do not include the
63 deaths that have occurred among patients who have
battled long and hard with this disease caused by a
Hasitha Tissera, Consultant, Epidemiology Unit when
contacted by The Sunday Leader said that there is a
clear increase in the reported cases of dengue in the
first few months of this year as compared to 2008.
were 948 cases reported in February this year and 868
cases reported in March and 1045 cases reported in
April. Statistics for the first weeks of May alone show
497 cases being reported," pointed out Dr. Tissera.
Statistics are expected to distend as the month
progresses and a red alert is being issued to all
citizens to be aware of dengue and more particularly to
be aware of potential breeding grounds for this
mosquito in and around their neighbourhood.
Nimalka Pannilahetty, Community Physician, National
Dengue Control Unit, speaking to The Sunday Leader said
that the rising trend calls for immediate and harsh
measures to arrest the situation.
have taken steps as early as in the first week of April
which was declared Dengue Week. The National Dengue
Control Unit urged people by mobilising health care
officials, to clean their environment before the rains.
But this has not happened satisfactorily and after the
sudden bouts of rains, the mosquito population seems to
have increased," observed Dr. Pannilahetty.
have begun at the MOH level for a 'forced reduction.' We
have urged the elimination of breeding places,
requested for stakeholder meetings, to mobilise
resources and more importantly to gain the support of
the people," said the doctor.
National Dengue Control Unit is at present concentrating
on prevention and elimination by instilling awareness at
school level, divisional secretary level and grassroots
management is also a significant feature of this
multi-pronged approach in dealing with the dreaded
dengue that threatens us all.
infected female Aedes aegypti - a mosquito - is
responsible for the transmission of the deadly dengue
virus. Medical sources say that there is no vaccine or
cure for the disease as it is caused by a virus.
Supportive treatment is the only available medical
Children and infants are advised to be extra careful as
they have weaker immune responses compared to adults.