J. S. Tissainayagam in Batticaloa
The media did not highlight it sufficiently. The
commissioner of elections mentioned it only in passing. None but the residents and the
candidates of Batticaloa know how they were denied a free poll by the outrageous conduct
of the Sri Lanka Army, STF and police.
"I was walking with two friends to the polling booth
when the policemen told us we could not go. They did not grab our polling cards or
anything, but just told us we could not proceed to the polling station. So we turned and
came back," said K. Saminathan, a resident of Kirankulam, south of Batticaloa.
Saminathan said the police were patrolling on foot and
guarding the centres, generally making their presence felt by stopping voters from going
to the polling booths. And the residents who shy away from the military and the police at
the best of times, either went later, or did not go at all.
"Peaceful voting was not allowed in the Paddiruppu
electorate," said P. Selvarasa, a defeated candidate of the TNA, who is a senior
member of the TULF, "In fact I was ordered to remove my vehicle and be gone from a
polling station in Padiruppu by the police. I was visiting a polling booth, to which I am
entitled as a candidate."
While the rights of Saminathan and his friends as voters,
and Selvarasa as a candidate, were violated with impunity, what occurred at the entry
points from the 'uncleared' areas to the cluster polling booths in the 'cleared' areas was
denial of the sovereignty of the people. Sovereignty of the people entitles them to
determine their political future, which in a democracy is exercised through the franchise,
but that right was not afforded to almost 45,000 people in Batticaloa on election day.
There were entry points from the LTTE-controlled areas at
Chenkaladi, Vavunathivu, Kiran, Vakarai, Padiruppu bridge and Ambalanthurai ferry-point.
What is significant is that Padiruppu and Ambalanthurai were kept open from morning and
closed only around 2 p.m. The other points, which had to be kept open from 6.00 a.m. on
election day, were shut completely. Not a single voter from the LTTE-controlled areas was
to come through those entry-points that day.
Hearing that barriers at Padiruppu bridge had been lowered
by afternoon, Selvarasa and the other candidates called the Government Agent S. Shanmugam.
Shanmugam contacted the brigade office in Batticloa where
an officer (he was not sure who) told him that he had received orders from the 23 Division
headquarters at Minneriya that all entry points had to be closed. "He told me this
was because intelligence reports had been received that the LTTE was planning to
infiltrate the area and disrupt polling," Shanmugam said.
After he was faxed a copy of the order, Shanmugam intimated
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake of the matter.
What is important to note is that the officer at the
brigade headquarters, Batticaloa, acknowledged that he was acting on behalf of a higher
authority. Therefore the order given to disenfranchise the Tamils living in Paduvankarai,
by blocking the entry-points into the 'cleared' areas, was deliberately done.
What is more, the excuse about intelligence reports on the
LTTE infiltration into the 'cleared' areas rings patently false. If that was true, the
Tigers could have come via Padiruppu and Ambalanthurai to disrupt polling, which did not
Chaos reigned at the checkpoint at Padiruppu bridge with
the volume of people surging over it resembling the waters of the lagoon when swollen by
the monsoon rain. Realising that crowd control was becoming difficult, the STF began
assaulting the public and firing in the air to prevent them from coming across. But the
people, undaunted, regrouped and started across the bridge again.
Unable to cope with the surge, the STF charged a grenade towards the Paduwankarai coast
from Kaluwanchikudy. It was only this act, which is a naked violation of election law that
finally prevented people from coming to vote.
Hearing of the closure of the Padiruppu bridge, Gnanmuttu Krishnapillai (Vellimalai),
of the ACTC and a TNA candidate organising the Padiruppu electoral division, went to the
assistant returning officer, who is the divisional secretary of the area, to lodge a
complaint. He was accosted by the STF, who tore his shirt, assaulted him, and allegedly
threatened him with death.
Vellimalai's supporters managed to hide the candidate from the wrath of the STF. It was
only a journalist who was known to Vellimalai who finally rescued the hapless man. The
journalist, after informing the appropriate authorities, put Vellimalai in a vehicle and
undertook to escort him to safety.
At Mandoor in Kalkudah, a more sinister and frightening form of intimidation was
practised. A masked 'spotter' (muhammoodi) was brought in, ostensibly to 'spot' LTTEers
and those sympathetic to them. This form of counter-insurgency by the Sri Lankan state has
been in existence for over a decade and known to terrify the population who is paraded
before this masked and hooded ogre. If the faceless one nodded his head it meant the
individual brought before him was to be detained, otherwise he went free.
On election day a masked 'spotter' was introduced at Mandoor where cluster polling
booths for areas such as Sinnawattai, Kakkachiwattai, Palayadiwattai, Vellaveli and
Vivekanandapuram had been established, while the voters of Mandoor, which is in the
'cleared' area, were to vote there too. Panicking at having to submit to the 'spotter,'
the public, especially the youngsters, refused to go to the booths. A few boys who were
detained by the 'spotter' that day were released later. With the job of blocking voters
accomplished, which was the actual objective of the exercise, there was no need to detain
But while all the TNA candidates are united in condemning the government for this
outrage, there are other events that transpired on election day has led to fissures
developing between the TNA candidates themselves.
There is however a basic point that has to be clarified before proceeding any further.
When the TNA was conceived, the idea behind its formation was that candidates do not
contest each other for preferences, but allow the voter to pick his/her choice unaided by
canvassing. This principle however fell by the wayside and TNA candidates in all districts
campaigned for preferences. They argue that it is unrealistic to expect them not to
canvass for preferences when they fund their campaigns.
The major focus of controversy in Batticaloa is Counting Centre No. 1 in the Kalkudah
electoral division. What initially puzzled many candidates was the delay in the results
from votes counted at the centre being released. Though there number of votes counted was
only 6000, the results were released on Thursday at around 5.30 p.m., whereas centres
where 10,000 - 14,000 votes were counted, had completed their job much earlier.
Candidates said they watched election officers going in and out of that centre, which
added to the mystery and suspicion. At this point, the candidates made a verbal complaint
to the returning officer (R. O), who is the government agent, Shanmugam. He with the
additional G. A and other officers visited the centre to check for himself.
The G. A and the officers who went with him checked the summary sheets where the
sub-totals are recorded. The officers discovered mistakes. These mistakes were basically
in addition. The G. A rectified them and declared it to be a clerical error. "The
sub-totals, which go to make the grand total had been added wrong. It was a clerical error
that I rectified," said Shanmugam, who accepts that errors had been made.
"I do not understand how this could be a clerical error, when at least three
responsible officers authorise the count," counters Selvarasa.
But the exercise only checked the additions. It did not compare the tallies with the
ballot papers. This was not possible because the ballot papers were sealed. They will be
authorised to be opened only if a petition challenging the election is filed.
After this error was detected, the summary sheets from the other counting centres were
also checked but no mistakes were discovered. Despite this, there is widespread belief the
elections have been rigged not at the polling booths, but by government officers at the
"We requested the G. A. to order a recount, but it was not allowed. He told us to
file a case if we wanted to reopen the matter," said Selvarasa.
Selvarasa feels the alleged malpractice has affected his rank. He was placed fourth,
but the difference between him and the third candidate, Joseph Pararajasingham (who was
elected MP), are a mere 173 votes.
Selvarasa also spoke of 750 votes cast in his favour being spoilt. These voters had
marked the ballot for the rising sun, which is the party's symbol, but, without marking
his preference (number six) in the cage allocated for preferences, had marked the cage of
the Independent Candidate No. 6, thereby automatically invalidating the vote. If these 750
votes had been cast correctly Selvarasa is convinced he would have been elected MP.
Be that as it may, Selvarasa had also not placed his counting agents in the
controversial Centre No. 1. Each candidate was allowed only 12 agents and there were 20
centres in the electoral district of Batticaloa. He had to choose the centres he wished to
place agents, and the omission of detailing one in Centre No. 1, was costly to Selvarasa.
Only the agents of candidates A. Sathyanathan, S. Kumaraguru and Joseph Pararajasingham
were present at Centre No. 1. The counting was topsy-turvy and suspect. Gajendran,
counting agent of Kumaraguru, alleged he saw counting officers destroy ballot papers with
impunity and said he was debarred from going certain sections of the hall where the
ballots were being counted. It is believed that Gajendran will give an affidavit to this
effect if an election petition is filed.
Parajasingham however is not protesting. "I think the counting officers did a
perfect job. I do not believe counting officers would be deliberately partial to any
candidate," he said.
He said that the adjustment of the clerical error in Counting Centre No 1 had cost him
1,500 votes. Whereas his preferences were computed 3068 from that centre, the recount
showed it was only 1,501, which he accepted as a genuine error.
Despite this the recount brought about a significant change in rank. Before the
recount, the standing was: T. Thangavadivel, Pararajasingham, Selvarasa and Vellimalai.
The recount however shuffled the rank which stands as: Thangavadivel, Vellimalai and
"The recount rendered me in third place, yet I am not contesting the result,"
Shanmugam said the reordering of the rank had ruffled a few feathers. He said though he
had not announced the earlier result officially, the polling agents of the respective
candidates had let the word out of the original standings. When the rank was amended it
was not to the liking of certain candidates.
Selvarasa believes the margin of 173 votes between him and Parajasingham entitles him
to justly feel he might become MP if there is a recount of preferences.
"I do not want to file a case, because I feel it will break the unity of the TNA.
But my supporters insist," said Selvarasa, but a gleam of anger in his eye is
His team said that this was not the first time such fraud had taken place using
government officers, which had to be stopped if the system is to continue. They feel that
only if errant and partial government officers are punished that fraud of this nature will
There was no official complaint by the candidates to the election observers, either
local or those from the European Commission, on the matter of the preferences. Selvarasa
said the observers had not been present at the counting centres, and generally seemed
disinclined to draw them in. Parajasingham however complained the election monitors about
what happened at Padiruppu bridge.
Shanmugam has reported the matter of the 'clerical error' over preferences to the
Commissioner of Elections as part of the official procedure. "Depending on what the
Commissioner says, appropriate action will be taken on the officers involved,"
Selvarasa said he, with A. Selvendran (TULF) and Nithiyandan Indrakumar (Prasanna)
(TELO) - all three defeated candidates - want to move the Supreme Court requesting a
recount of the ballots and a re-poll. "When we complained to the G A he told us to
file action," said Selvarasa. Shanmugam confirmed this.
But Pararjasingham remains sceptical. "If the candidates had grievances they
should have settled it then and there by depositing Rs. 50,000. Reopening the matter will
be a long drawn process," he said.
The more important matter of depriving Tamils in the LTTE-controlled areas from voting
seems to have lapsed however. The TNA, which would have been the principal beneficiary had
the polling taken place, is not interested in pursuing it. And the Commissioner of
Elections expressed scepticism when he said the military officers could only allow 300
persons through each point even if a re-poll is ordered, making the exercise unwieldy and
impractical. So there the matter rests for now, awaiting new developments.
Tigers ransack armoury
The LTTE bade adieu to Chandrika Kumaratunga, who
quit her post as minister of defence on Tuesday, with an attack on the Sri Lanka Telecom
office, the police station and the assistant superintendent of police (ASP) office in
Valaichenai, north of Batticaloa.
The Telecom office is in the centre of a high security zone. Not only is there the
heavily-fortified police station and ASP office within 300 meters, but the Kumburumoolai
army camp and the Jetty camp are within one kilometre on either side of the Telecom
Though the media said the principal target was the Telecom office, it does not appear
so. It was the armoury in the police station that was ransacked. Though some of the
telecommunication equipment was damaged, the system was back to normal by 4 p.m. the next
The attack was in remembrance of Lieutenant Colonel Jeevan, the deputy leader of the
military wing of the LTTE in Batticaloa and Amparai area, who was killed recently in
Meeyankulam by the security forces.
The attack was mounted at 11.30 p.m. The raiding party could have come from a number of
routes including the lagoon. The strength of station and ASP's office is believed to be
around 100 personnel including WPCs.
The Tigers held the Telecom sub-exchange and the two police offices till around 2:30
p.m. There were six policemen killed and 11 injured, including three WPCs. The others
bolted towards Ottamavadi, which accounts for the minimal number of casualties. One is
believed killed from the LTTE.
Roadblocks were set up to prevent the army of 232 brigade in Valaichenai from advancing
from the Kumburumoolai and Jetty camps.
The night was filled with the sound of muted explosions and dogs barking, compelling
residents to remain in the fastness of their homes. Gradually the sounds ceased,
indicating the attackers had withdrawn.
When the army was able to clear the road block it was morning. The policemen and women
who retreated returned after sun-up after firing into the air near the Ottamavadi
junction, probably to see whether the intruders had actually gone.
What is significant is that the civilian casualty figure is zero. This was despite the
district hospital and the CTB office and civilian residencies nearby.
* * * * * * *
Shops gutted in Valaichenai
Post election violence flared up in Valaichenai, a township
north of Batticaloa on Monday night. Three shops belonging to supporters of Mohamed Abdul
Cader, MP, (SLMC - Batticaloa district) were set on fire by thugs and looted. The building
too belongs to Abdul Cader. The shops, one selling groceries and the other a communication
centre, were gutted.
The search for culprits is on. With the perennial antagonism between the Tamils and
Muslims in Valaichenai and Ottamavadi, accusing fingers were pointed at the LTTE. The
Tamil residents feel however the LTTE does not need groceries or communication equipment.
Nor has it any grievances to settle with the shop-owner
Though nobody is certain, it is believed that M. L. A. M. Hisbullah's goons were at the
bottom of the act of arson. Hisbullah, candidate of the PA at this election was originally
a stalwart of the SLMC. He was elected MP after a long and bitter contest involving him,
Abdul Cader and Ali Zaheer Moulana (UNP), all three who depend primarily on a Muslim
By Frederica Jansz
President Chandrika Kumaratunga's anger against members of the independent media
manifested itself last Sunday, when she banned journalists from The Sunday Leader, Ravaya
and TNL Television from entering President's House and covering the swearing-in ceremony
of the new Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Kumaratunga has never been blessed with forethought. Many of her ludicrous and inane
statements have been uttered by her with nary a thought of the consequences. Her
shortsighted policies only proved just that. Having lost all rationale and ignoring saner
counsel, a mere seven years after having swept through to an unprecedented victory
securing a 62% majority in 1994, Kumaratunga failed miserably on December 5, 2001 to
ensure her party stayed in power.
It seems that as Head of State, Kumaratunga is still unaware of how to play her cards
right. If only she has the foresight to see that this is her moment to change public
opinion in her favour. Isolated as president, forced to work with a cabinet consisting
entirely of members from a rival party, Kumaratunga if she has the foresight to act like a
stateswoman will have the sympathy of many and in particular the women of this country who
certainly do not envy her present position.
Yet, Kumaratunga's petty minded ways, her lack of perception and above all else her
complete lack of understanding of the ground situation, propels her each time to make a
wrong judgement and act in a manner that is lowly - disgracing the high office she holds
in this land.
Barring certain members of the press last Sunday from covering the swearing-in ceremony
of the new premier only served to ridicule Kumaratunga's status as President of this
country. Her action only further espouses the defiant stand these journalists have taken
against some of her more corrupt and fraudulent political and national decisions.
Whether Kumaratunga is of the belief that these journalists are pro Ranil and pro UNP
was not the issue last Sunday. Last week, it was a mere formality - an occasion - that
every accredited journalist in this country had the right to attend and report on.
All Kumaratunga's righteous proclamations that after the People's Alliance were voted
into power in 1994, she has personally ensured a democratic and free press falls by the
wayside. Her action last Sunday only proved that this is just one more lie uttered by a
woman who is so distanced from the sad reality of the situation in Sri Lanka, that she
refused to read the writing on the wall and counter the fall of her government this
It is no small wonder that nobody (except the sycophants who surround her) believed her
- when she declared that she told her former cabinet Minister S. B. Dissanayake that he
would be sent to the gallows if he carried out a plan to murder two editors from two
Given the fact that Kumaratunga did nothing to prevent the murder of Rohana Kumara,
Editor of the Satana newspaper, the killing of the Jaffna based Tamil journalist
Nimalarajan or the two attacks on the editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge
and his wife Raine, and the attack on Iqbal Athas and his wife and child, is proof that
Kumaratunga has abused her power as executive president of this country to sanction murder
and intimidation of journalists independent of the state media.
Not only did Kumaratunga fail to prevent these diabolical incidents, she has also not
lifted a single one of her presidential fingers or used the vast powers at her disposal to
bring the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes to book. Iqbal Athas' case has dragged on
for so long that the entire drama itself is now a mere blur and a farcical attempt at
bringing about justice. There has been no attempt made on her part or by her government to
investigate the murders of Rohana Kumara and Nimalarajan or the attacks on Lasantha and
The bottom line is this. So far, the political leaders of Sri Lanka have failed
miserably to respect the freedom of the press and recognise independent journalists as
being those who will not kow-tow to politicians - be they the head of state or otherwise.
This is why Sri Lanka still lacks television programmes or acclaimed talk shows like Hard
Talk and CNN's Q&A where world leaders and politicians are treated on an equal par and
not allowed to get away by uttering false and ridiculous statements.
Local newspaper journalists too are known to be soft when interviewing politicians -
many afraid of dire consequences if the politicos are pushed to a limit. For her part,
Chandrika Kumaratunga has never been able to rise to the challenge and permit herself to
be interviewed by a local journalist independent of the state owned media.
So blithely does Kumaratunga utter her lies, that she cannot trust herself to be honest
with members of the independent media who will counter her wild and baseless statements
with hard facts and documentary evidence.
After all, if as Kumaratunga has repeatedly claimed on state television that reporters
attached to The Sunday Leader and the Ravaya newspaper are those indulging in gutter
journalism, why pray, has she not brought legal action against the revealing exposs
these newspapers have carried ad nauseam over the last six years writing in detail some of
the more corrupt 'deals' initiated by Kumaratunga and her government.
If, as she says, journalists at these two newspapers write articles that are fabricated
- surely legal action would then ensure the ultimate closure of these two papers. The fact
of the matter is that Kumaratunga cannot sue these newspapers. Our investigative reports
are backed with documentary evidence that can stand the test of time in any court of law
and Kumaratunga is not blind to this fact.
So instead, like a spoilt child denied toys of her choice - Kumaratunga chooses to
throw a public tantrum. Abusing her presidential immunity to cast wild and untrue
aspersions against these journalists, she believes she has scored over these men and women
when she closed the doors of her presidential abode to journalists who continue to tower
over her theatrics as she flounces into a corner and sulks.
Kumaratunga, unlike these journalists - has no documentary evidence against any of them
that will prove they are members of a gutter press who have indulged in an unfair smear
campaign against her and her government. Instead, her actions, further strengthen the
independent caliber of these local journalists who remain unimpressed with a presidential
Kumaratunga not only barred certain members of the press from being present at the
swearing-in ceremony of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe - her petty and small minded ways
also stopped the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and other independent television
stations from televising the event 'live' from the presidential abode.
Kumaratunga is a bad loser and she lacks the grace and high principled ethics of the
former Head of State D. B. Wijetunge who retreated as a statesman should in the first
flush of Kumaratunga's impressive entry into politics in 1994 and 1995.
Neither Wijetunge nor the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resorted to being
vindictive toward Kumaratunga, her new government or any member of the press, even those
who worked openly to help bring Kumaratunga into power in 1994.
Kumaratunga only brings shame to the women of this country when she continues to behave
in a manner that is nothing short of - disgraceful.
Globalisation and women's work
The global employment market has split into different segments in the past few decades.
In view of the precarious situation of many employment relationships, one can no longer
speak of the employment market. The first employment market with (relatively) secure
employment relationships in terms of wages is followed by a second employment market with
payment below the wage scale. This is followed by a third with jobs that are subsidised by
the state, and a fourth with work requirements for welfare recipients and the long-term
unemployed. In respect to women's work, this process of splitting up still needs to be
There is a fifth employment market with illegal work in which one predominantly finds
migrant workers. Available positions are found in the sixth employment market; on a world
wide basis, the market of voluntary work possibilities in the areas of social services and
health care is apparently without pay, and the seventh employment market is available
through the marriage market.
According to the desires of modern policy makers, all employment markets are supposed
to have a considerable distance from one another and from state assistance which is
becoming more and more restricted on a world wide basis. Access to the first employment
market is becoming ever more problematic - without a quota system - for women. However,
independent job security is to be found almost exclusively there. The precarious situation
- primarily for women - is again intensified by three trends: the international division
of labour, new management concepts, the further advancement of mechanisation.
With the help of lean production and lean administration, companies, offices and
organisations are attempting to reduce the core workers as much as possible and in the
process to minimise costs in order to shift individual employment to 'contract work' in
the informal sector or to cheap wage countries.
Trimming is the ideal of every organisation. Discussions about sensible products and
labour organisations that are fair to human beings give way to the apparently single goal
of companies which is 'to save.' If lean production was originally supposed to mean
keeping the equipment, administration and staff of a company as small as possible so that
workers would become motivated and push the company ahead in a creative, innovative and
effective way; it seems to have resulted in the fact that many employees and workers are
exhausted and fulfill their duties with difficulty. Men are preferred as core workers.
Women work on the fringe in precarious working conditions with limited employment, in
part time jobs without security. In general in so called 'bad jobs' in the informal sector
or as the recently 'self-employed.' Especially, unskilled and semi-skilled women disappear
sooner than men from the production of goods, while men break into women's domains in the
service industry. But also for some workers not everything is so rosy: growing alienation
from work through more and more high-tech, an increase in the intensity of work, mobbing,
getting burned out, mounting stress, slight pressure, and subtle intimidation. Often
enough we get a taste of very tough competition and the global loss of solidarity.
The effects of globalization on women's work
Transnational groups of affiliated companies claim to have created approximately 120
million new jobs for women directly through domestic companies or indirectly through
subcontractors because of export strategies. In this sense, women were the winners of
globalisation. If one looks at the quality of the jobs, one can say that they were at best
the quantitative winners.
Cheap female employment is regarded as the 'diving board in the world market.'
Orientation towards exports means in the south as well as in the east orientation towards
women. This is true for lighter manufacturing, the service industry sector and also for
agriculture, forestry and fishing. 80% of agricultural and other subsistent work that
serves self sufficiency directly is being carried out by women in Africa, while men are
preferred as workers in export and market related areas. Also in Asia and Latin America,
the involvement of women's work in the direct production of food is high.
It is not only a question of low wages, or the 'nimble fingers' or the lack of trade
union organisation. It is everything together and even more, which makes women's labour so
popular. It is also the fact that one can reckon with discontinued employment for most
women due to time off for giving birth, taking care of and raising small children, and
caring for parents, in-laws, and other persons. This flexibility corresponds with the
needs of businesses and the desire to stabilise the division of labour in the nuclear
The worldwide conceptualisation of women as temporary or part time housewives, as
'additional earners,' or as 'co-earners' justifies the reduction of educational spending
at the cost of women. It justifies their low wages, their uncertain working conditions,
and the continued refusal of men to look after the house and the children in their place.
Furthermore, women who are regarded as additional earners can be laid off with much less
problem because of the poor work situation or production relocation. Men are after all the
'bread winners' and carry the economic responsibility of the family.
The immense disadvantage for women, which arises through the label 'additional
earners,' begins before pregnancy, extends far beyond this, and affects women who were
never mothers and never wanted to be.
In conjunction with the fourth World Women's Conference, the ambivalence of including
women in the low esteemed wage sector was heatedly discussed. On the one hand, the
quantitative gain of employment cannot be ignored and it brings along with it a certain
economic independence for women. On the other hand, it also has a price. The world wide
liberalisation of trade takes place at the expense of financial sources that were
originally opened up by women. Handmade goods and products by domestic industries are no
longer competitive in respect to cheap imports.
The culture of local trades and craftsmanship has become lost. Products that are
exported on a large scale become hard to find, and are more expensive on local markets
because the production costs for domestic manufacturers have increased enormously. On the
other hand, even the so called 'developing countries' are being flooded with cheap
products from abroad. This means that the subsidised planning and development measurers to
increase income through the help of developmental aid and the marketing of domestic
products is being strongly hindered.
Nevertheless, the working conditions and the earnings in the export industry are better
for the most part than the occupational alternatives that women face as maids, in the
informal sector, as self employed workers, as family workers, or as prostitutes.
Developmental experts report that women often seize new social areas beyond the nuclear
family and beyond patriarchal control; and that they form new kinds of solidarity and a
new work culture among themselves.
Admittedly, paid employment under capitalistic patriarchal conditions is not
automatically a vehicle for more rights or for more economic independence either in the
countries in the south or anywhere else. Moreover, the difference between male and female
wages have increased in most export oriented countries. Even across Europe, women earn
approximately 30% less than men on the average where they receive their pay and income.
They even earn less when they have the same working hours and job positions and are
employed in the same sector.
In addition, this tendency always starts to emerge when labour-intensive industries
become rationalised and mechanised, and men take over areas previously held by women.
Segmentation according to gender is increasing globally. Men operate the machines and
women sew on the sewing machines. Men do the programming work and women process the data.
Women's jobs are also the first to be eliminated because of automation. This will also be
the case with the enormous wave of modernisation that is coming to the service industry
Female developmental experts fear that the quantitative progress for women in the
entire employment spectrum will become lost in the transition to capital intensive
production. The conclusions that were drawn for industrial nations on the occasion of the
World Women's Conference were that there is certainly no occasion for optimism.
Women remain the 'sediment of the economy.' Even if they have good grades in school and
educational degrees, or if they have even gained qualifications in some other way, they
remain on the lowest level for the most part. Male society is resistant, and there are
'glass ceilings' to keep women in certain positions and to keep them away from the
influence and high standings of these positions.
Gender politics in the future cannot be carried out alone on the basis of the
quantitative participation of women. It means sensible, socially useful work that provides
personal security and not just any kind of paid work. It is not enough that women demand
half of the moldy cake, or even half of the window seats on the Titanic.
Globalisation is not an ideology that developed in the heads of economists or
sociologists, and it is also no natural disaster. It has been created by people, and
people have been called upon to set 'limits to globalisation,' if it contributes to a
worsening of working and living conditions. Working and living conditions always mean paid
and unpaid work. The limits of globalisation also mean limits to exploiting women.
- Ms. is indebted to Dr. Gisela Notz's article Gender In Trade Union Work - The
Globalisation or Feminisation of Work.
Up-Country Tamils: Unrealised potential
By D. B. S. Jeyaraj
"The hills are alive with the Sound of Music ...."
- Oscar Hammerstein
Sri Lanka's 12th parliamentary elections have produced a mixed bag of results among the
Tamils of Indian descent also known as Up-Country, Highland or Plantation Tamils. Five
persons were directly elected from three districts while another five were nominated to
parliament through the national lists of three different parties. The overall tally of ten
MPs therefore was one more than the combined total of nine reached after last year's
The community has also got a cabinet minister, project minister and deputy minister
under Ranil Wickremesinghe as compared to a solitary ministry in the previous regime.
While this may provide partial satisfaction there is no denying that representation levels
gained leave much to be desired the 'other' Tamils require at least 16 seats in proportion
to their population. What the results have demonstrated is that despite the minor progress
achieved, the people and their leaders have miles to go before the unrealised potential of
the community can be tapped fully.
Writing in The Sunday Leader of November 4, 2001 this writer noted as follows.
"There have been in recent times two significant developments, positive and negative,
in the realm of Up-Country Tamil politics. The positive aspect has been the push towards
greater political unity among the Tamils of Indian descent. The negative feature has been
the phenomenon of unprincipled change of political camps motivated by power hunger.
"What is of interest however is that the fate of these two trends are very likely
to be decided effectively at the forthcoming elections. Given the pro-UNP wave in the
highlands and Colombo and the positive response in the community towards the CWC-UCPF
alliance a preponderance of votes are likely to be for the UNP led front."
Expressing anxiety about divisive trends and the danger of representation levels being
reduced due to vote fragmentation the article noted thus:
"The important question however is whether Up-Country Tamil representation would
at least be on the same level it was last year or in 1994. This situation may be partially
resolved if the people vote in a principled manner. The positive aspect of consolidation
should be encouraged and the negative feature of fragmentation be discouraged. The hands
that pluck two leaves and a bud should use their votes wisely and well." The Tamil
voters have responded to these challenges well and through an impressive show of unity
voted 'wisely and well' to a reasonable extent.
The heartland of the plantation Tamils is the Nuwara Eliya district in general and the
Maskeliya - Nuwara Eliya electoral division in particular. Five Tamils were directly
elected from the district last year. They were Arumugam Thondaman, Muttu Sivalingam and P.
Jegatheeswaran from the Ceylon Worker's Congress who contested on the People's Alliance
ticket. In addition, S. Sathasivam of the CWC breakaway faction and leader of the
Up-Country People's Front, Periyasamy Chandrasekeran were elected on the UNP symbol. V.
Puthirasigamany a UNP stalwart from the area failed narrowly to get elected.
This year's poll saw a realignment of forces in the district. The CWC crossed over and
contested on the UNP ticket along with the UCPF. This resulted in the CWC breakaway
faction known as Ceylon Worker's Democratic Front switching allegiance to the PA. The
UNP's Puthirasigamany also crossed over to the PA in a shocking surprise. K. Kanagaraj a
national list MP of the UCPF also changed sides. While Arumugam Thondaman was compelled to
let go of his Estate Infrastructure portfolio because of his crossover, the ministry's
resources became available to the opposing side because Sathasivan was appointed
consultant and wielded immense power in the ministry. Under this equation the intra-Tamil
contest in Nuwara Eliya was regarded as a Titanic clash.
This was not to be and the credit for this goes to the ordinary voter. They voted
overwhelmingly for the UNP. Maskeliya - Nuwara Eliya electorate (79% Tamil) saw 130,633
voting for the UNP and only 28,734 for the PA. Likewise Kotmale (47% Tamil) had 29,549
voting for the UNP and 14, 421 for the PA. With Navin Dissanayake's overall popularity
among Sinhala voters and the 'clout' wielded by S. B. Dissanayake in Hanguranketa, the UNP
polled 215,157 as opposed to 77,733 for the PA in the district. The preference votes also
proved that the bulk of Tamil voters opted for the UNP.
Arumugam Thondaman (121,542). P. Chandrasekeran (121,421) and Muttu Sivalingam
(107,338) were the first three on the UNP list while the two winning candidates from the
PA were Sinhala and not Tamil persons. This proved that the bulk of Tamil votes were cast
for the aanai (elephant) this time. Although Nuwara Eliya district elected three Tamils
with massive mandates the overall number of Tamil MPs returned from the district was
In 2000 there were three elected on the PA and two on the UNP tickets. In 1994 there
were three from the CWC on the UNP ticket and one from the Up-Country People's Front.
The Badulla district has 65,610 Tamil voters mainly concentrated in the electoral
divisions of Badulla, Bandarawela, Hali Ela, Haputale and Passara. Along with around
30,000 plus Muslim votes in the district the minority communities are entitled to at least
two seats from the district. In practice it has not been that simple.
T. V. Sennan of the CWC contesting on the UNP ticket in 1989 found himself representing
Badulla in parliament after Lakshman Seneviratne was disqualified after the Premadasa
impeachment affair. In 1994, Sennan was directly elected from CWC on the UNP ticket. 2000
saw no Tamil being elected chiefly because of vote fragmentation.
This year's hustings saw trepidations rising over Tamil representation mainly because
of fragmentation. T. V. Sennan who broke away from the CWC was leading an independent
list. The CWC's chief candidate was former Provincial Council Minister M. Sathithanandam
contesting on the UNP ticket with that party's long standing veteran V. Velayutham.
Incidentally, Velayutham though a UNP'er was strongly backed by the CWC also. The PA also
fielded Kumarakurubaran. The final results showed that once again the people had voted
unitedly and taught a lesson to their disunited leaders.
V. Velayutam known for his community service and personal integrity was elected as the
fifth MP on the UNP list with 40,752 preferences. Satchithanandam with 39,749 votes missed
being elected by just 1,003. The PA's Kumarakurubaran got only 5,072 votes.
In an unexpected development Sennan the former 'uncrowned King of Badulla Tamils' was
delivered a telling blow. His independent list got only 5065 votes of which Sennan got
only an unbelievably low 138 preferences. The same man got 38,049 preferences last year
when contesting on the UNP ticket. If the votes of the independents and PA had gone the
other way two Tamils may have been elected as the UNP needed another 5,000 more for
another MP to win. Mathar Saibu the Muslim Congress candidate on the UNP list polled
In Colombo, former state minister and Colombo district parliamentarian M. S. Sellasamy
now back in CWC folds contested along with another former MP R. Yogarajan on the CWC
ticket. The former CWC General Secretary who dissented with the elder Thondaman and went
on to form the Ceylon Worker's National Congress has now reconciled with the younger
Thondaman. Sellasamy and Yogarajan were both national list MPs in the previous parliament
but appointed by the UNP and PA respectively.
Arumugam Thondaman's insistence that no other Tamils should be accommodated on the UNP
list saw Mano Ganeshan of the Democratic Worker's Congress initially toying with the idea
of contesting in the list floated by the Tamil National Alliance. Ganeshan contested on
the UNP ticket in 2000 and failed to win by a margin of only about 600 votes. This issue
was resolved cleverly by Karu Jayasuriya who apparently included Mano Ganeshan at the last
moment in the UNP list. Although vexed Thondaman had little choice at that late moment.
It was feared that the inclusion of three powerful candidates on the UNP ticket while
garnering more Tamil votes for the UNP could not ensure Tamil representation because of
the high amount of preferences needed in Colombo. The Sri Lankan Tamil parties like the
Tamil Alliance led by K. Pathmanathan and EPDP led by K. Vikneswaran contesting Colombo
was also seen as preventing more Tamil votes from getting into the UNP kitty thereby
reducing chances of Tamil MPs getting elected.
The PA experimenting with the idea of fielding Lakshman Kadirgamar as the Tamil
candidate in Colombo revised its stance after realising perhaps that it would be a
tremendous political disaster. The Tamil candidate on the PA list in Colombo was former
DDC Councillor, Noble Vethanayagam a businessman and artiste.
It appears now that Karu Jayasuriya's move in getting Mano Ganeshan on the UNP list at
the last minute was a shrewd manoeuvre. It was Mano, son of former DWC union leader and
Tamil film star V. P. Ganeshan who proved to be the most popular Tamil on the UNP list. He
polled 54,942 preferences and came ninth on the list of twelve MPs elected from the UNP in
Colombo. Both Sellasamy and Yogarajan failed to be elected.
Ganeshan's victory though laudable is not adequate as far as the Tamils in the district
are concerned. They are entitled to at least two. Most Tamils voted for the UNP but not
necessarily for Tamil candidates. It is also obvious that greater unity between Tamils of
Sri Lankan and Indian origin are necessary for more Tamil representation in Colombo.
Up-Country Tamil votes were cast in a big way for the UNP in the south and the Tamil
Alliance in the Wanni and Eastern province. The community may have obtained only five
seats through direct elections but helped the UNP win handsomely in several districts.
Apart from Nuwara Eliya and Badulla the electoral verdicts of Kandy, Matale and Ratnapura
bear ample testimony to this effect. Mathiyoogarajah in Kandy and Ramachandran in
Ratnapura fared reasonably but not well enough to gain representation. Yet, the community
has not been rewarded proportionately as far as representation is concerned.
In 1994, the Up-Country Tamils had two national list MPs both from the CWC on the UNP
list. Last year, the community had four national list MPs from four different political
groupings. Marimuttu was appointed from the CWC on the PA list. Later he resigned to take
up a diplomatic assignment and was replaced by R. Yogarajan. Three others were appointed
by Ranil Wickremesinghe from the UNP list. One was M. S. Sellasamy then heading the CWNC.
The next was former minister P. P. Devarajan representing the CWUF. The third was K.
Kanagaraj of the UCPF. Thus, there were four national list MPs supplementing five elected
MPs last year.
This year saw five MPs from the national list in addition to the elected five. R.
Yogarajan though defeated in Colombo was appointed on behalf of the CWC on the UNP list.
Former Provincial Council Minister from the Central Province P. Radhakrishnan was also
appointed as a CWC nominee on the UNP list. The PA had defectors. S. Sathasivam and
defeated candidate V. Puthirasigamani appointed as national list MPs.
The fifth national list MP came from an unexpected source. The Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna appointed Ramalingam Chandrash- ekhar its Tamil spokesperson as one of its three
national list MPs. Chandrashekhar is a 'dark horse' as far as politics is concerned and is
yet to prove his mettle.
The third force
The representation gained through direct elections and national list nominations from
the premier national parties have ensured the community of nine seats as in the case of
last year. The extra seat this year came from the rising third force. The UNP has failed
to compensate the Up-Country Tamils on the same level that the Muslim community was given
representation on the national list.
Unlike the Sri Lankan Tamils who chartered a different political course, the Tamils of
Indian descent voted resoundingly for the UNP and both ensured and enhanced its victory in
several districts and are therefore entitled to more representation.
There was also an expectation within the community that at least two ministerial and
two deputy ministerial portfolios would be given to the CWC - UCPF in a UNP led
government. Wickremesinghe has given the posts of Housing and Plantation Infrastructure to
Arumugam Thondaman, Estate Infrastructure to P. Chandrasekheran and Agriculture and
livestock to Muttu Sivalingam. These are of cabinet minister, project minister and deputy
minister ranks respectively. While this allocation is an improvement on the past it may
not satisfy the community particularly the Up-Country People's Front.
It was Chandrasekheran of the UCPF who crossed over from the PA to UNP ranks before the
CWC. The UCPF did so in 1999, before the presidential elections. Thondaman did so only in
October this year. Also Chandrasekharan is senior to Arumugam and was a deputy minister in
1994 itself. As such the UCPF deprived of a national list nomination may rightfully demand
at least full cabinet status for its leader. Perhaps these shortcomings may be addressed
when Wickremesinghe reprganises his government in the next month or so.
The question of representation and participation in government for the Up-Country
Tamils has also to take into account another factor. There is a growing consciousness
among Plantation Tamils that their political hierarchy is not fully representative. More
than 75 % of the plantation Tamils are from the backward and socially inferior castes but
the bulk of political and trade union leadership is from socio-culturally superior castes.
The effective leadership of the community is monopolised basically by two caste
formations of the three 'Mukkulathor' caste groups and the six major 'Vellala'
sub-divisions. There is also resentment among the Up-Country intelligentsia and educated
youth that they are not represented commensurately in the political leadership. It is
suspected that the trade union oriented leaderships try to keep out these 'educated'
elements deliberately. The position of Up-Country women in politics is also inadequate.
Although a semblance of unity was achieved through the CWC - UCPF tie-up in this
election, the community at large is naturally not very satisfied. The popular feeling
before elections was that the community should unite under one banner and contest alone
without alignment with any Sinhala dominated party. The appeal by the academic elite of
the community also emphasised independent unity. Unfortunately, all inclusive unity was
Unity which moves in one direction were paralleled by defections in other directions.
The community was once again divided in two broad camps led by the UNP and PA. Other
parties and independent groups are also in the picture. The Up-Country people wanted the
goal of monolithic unity. That has been unattainable because of divisive tendencies among
leaders. The people however have voted decisively in favour of greater unity.
It is now left to the leaders to build on this foundation and achieve greater unity.
The political strength gained has to be utilised to gain greater benefits for the people.
New strategies have to be devised to ensure maximised political representation. The
full potential of the community has to be realised and tapped. The plantation Tamils are
the wretched of the Up-Country earth. Upliftment is possible only through education,
employment, economic opportunities etc. made possible through greater empowerment via
Presidents, Priests and Perfidy
The years 1994 to 2001 were the only ones of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's
23-year parliamentary career that were spent in opposition. Those 24 years have seen the
evolution of a very different Sri Lanka to the one in whose leadership he so hesitatingly
participated in J. R. Jayewardene's first administration of 1977-1982.
Those were the glory days. With Sirimavo Bandaranaike's near-communist dictatorship
swept aside through a landslide election victory, and the economy liberalised (though
nowhere near as much as it is now) by the youthful and energetic Ronnie de Mel, the
country developed as never before. The government led an enchanted existence, with no real
opposition and absolutely no warning of the trials that would befall it through festering
Tamil dissent and an impatient and frustrated Sinhala youth.
Older and wiser
Today, thanks to the experiences of the past, and especially the lessons learnt for the
first time in opposition these past seven years, Wickremesinghe is an older and wiser man.
If his manner of governance owes anything to the rather dictatorial styles of J. R.
Jayewardene or Ranasinghe Premadasa, he is careful not to show it. Although he may not
readily admit it, it would seem that Wickremesinghe's unwitting mentor has been Chandrika
Kumarat- unga, as much as anyone else.
During the past seven years, Kumaratunga has established for herself a reputation for
being a bitter, acrimonious, confrontational, arrogant and quarrelsome leader. Always
ready with some sour or cynical remark to describe both friend and foe, the president has
not been above even making disparaging remarks to bewildered visitors about the caste of
various officials in her staff. Her speeches are often embellished with words of malice
and hate, and for the entirety of her seven years in office, she has chosen to look back
into the wrongs she perceives the UNP visited on her, rather than forward to what she
could do for her country. All the while, it seems, Ranil Wickremesinghe watched, listened
Wickremesinghe has crafted his style to be the complete antithesis of Kumaratunga.
Listening more than he talks, he has adopted as his credo the maxim advocated but rarely
practised by Ranasinghe Premadasa, of governing through consultation, consensus and
compromise. With the UNF-SLMC coalition bagging a working majority in parliament, and with
the People's Alliance reduced to a mere 77 seats, Wickremesinghe's first act after being
swor- in as prime minister last Sunday was to offer an olive branch to Kumaratunga and
invite her party to join him in a national government. Up to the time of going to press,
despite considerable pressure from within the PA hierarchy to respond favourably to this
unprecedented offer, Kumaratunga has put it on the backburner. So much for her enthusiasm
to join Wickremesinghe to craft a negotiated solution to the ethnic problem.
Given Kumaratunga's empty rhetoric about abolishing the executive presidency these past
seven years, now, in the most unexpected manner, her dream has come true. She is executive
president only in name, having been reduced to a mere figurehead, with no role to play in
the running of government. The country has an executive (not a figurehead) prime minister
in effect holding no portfolios whatever, answerable to parliament. In one fell swoop,
with no amendment whatever to the constitution, the executive presidency has in effect
But has it? The only potential fly in the ointment is Kumaratunga. Will she graciously
bow to the will of the people, recognise their stinging indictment of her and her party,
and abide quietly in the spacious surroundings of President's House? Or will she do all
she can to sabotage Wickreme- singhe's administration through word and deed? Given her
character, few objective observers have any doubt that she will choose the latter course.
Kumaratunga has learned nothing from her defeat. To her, the PA's loss is a consequence of
the foolishness of the Sri Lankan people who, offered a Bandaranaike of noble blood on the
one hand and a mere Wickremesinghe on the other, thoughtlessly chose the latter.
Spite and malice
Addressing the nation after Wickremesinghe's swearing-in last Sunday, she had no words
of congratulation for the prime minister and his party. She had no words of remorse to
offer the electorate. She had only words of spite and malice for the UNP, which she
claimed, was on a killing spree against her supporters. For his part, rather than engage
in political point-scoring, Wickremesinghe spoke personally to the police and armed forces
chiefs and ordered them to take stern action against law breakers, whatever their party
affiliations. What is more, despite considerable pressure from the UNF hierarchy, he
declined to order the police to arrest specific PA MPs who have become notorious for
violence, including Anuruddha Ratwatte and D. M. Dassanayake. This, Wickremesinghe
maintained, was a matter for the police.
Wickremesinghe has also seen to it that due respect has been shown to the president by
his MPs. When she walked in to the swearing-in ceremony last Wednesday, the UNP
ministers-in-waiting spontaneously rose to their feet; they could just as well have
snubbed her and remained seated. In the reception that followed, Wickremesinghe engaged
the president in friendly banter and saw to it that the media were not allowed to question
her. What is more, he himself declined to speak to the media, which may well have asked
questions embarrassing to Kumaratunga. But these courtesies were lost on Kumaratunga and
her staff, who saw to it that the formal photograph of the new cabinet was deprived of all
dignity by the president's officials standing idly around, chatting with one another. What
is more, Kumaratunga disallowed a live broadcast of the proceedings (just as she had done
previously for Wickremesinghe's swearing-in). Stark contrast this to the courtesy afforded
her by President D. B. Wijetunga in 1994, who himself ordered a live telecast of the
swearing-in of Kumaratunga and her cabinet.
It seems then that it is yet to dawn on Kumaratunga that she is trying the new
government's patience. There is an impeachment motion drafted and ready, cataloguing
Kumaratunga's misdeeds since she ascended to the presidency. The impeachment of the
president and the chief justice could be achieved almost routinely in the first session of
the new parliament.
What is more, given the demand for crossovers from among the PA's ranks, the two-thirds
majority needed to remove her from office is unlikely to pose any problem whatever. For
the present, the UNF is willing to have Kumaratunga continue in office, so long as she
conducts herself in a statesman-like way. This is a major challenge for her, given her
acerbic manner, arrogance and pigheadedness. However, if she does yield to her baser
nature, she must know that she will face not only the wrath of the government, but a
disgraceful exit from office.
Clearly, Wickremesinghe's conciliatory style is lost on the president. But it would be
a mistake for her to confuse this for weakness on his part. After decades of strife and
infighting, the need of the hour is for all leaders, whether political, religious or
social, to unite to lead this country forward. Anyone attempting to overturn that ideal
should be dealt with swiftly and severely.
For his part, Wickremesinghe was clearly embarrassed when, after his swearing-in as
prime minister last Sunday, he visited the Gangarama Temple at Hunupitiya to receive the
Sangha's blessings. The prime minister also happens to be the temple's principal devotee,
his family having a long history of association with this place of worship. The chief
incumbent, the Ven. Galaboda Gnanissara, is still referred to by many as 'Podi Hamuduruwo'
by virtue of having become so well known for his social service activities from the time
he was just a junior priest at this temple.
Welcoming the newly appointed Prime Minister, the Ven. Galaboda- who represents a
religion, the bedrock of which is non-hatred and maithree towards even one's enemies-made
a speech that embarrassed not just Wickremesinghe but also shocked the nation. Repeatedly
addressing Wickremesinghe has 'hamu mahattaya' (an expression of servility more at home in
Kumaratunga's Horagolla Walawwa than at a temple), the Ven. Galaboda embarked on a
shameless tirade against Kuma- ratunga and the PA Government. Converting the event into a
pantomime, he went on to accept donations from several business people anxious to identify
once more with the UNP, not least a handful who were among the more despised during the
In his subsequent speech, Wickremesinghe made no reference whatever to the chief
priest's address, as potent a snub as he could deliver given that Sri Lankan custom
precludes him from chastising a clergyman.
Many of the senior rankers of the UNF present on the occasion could be seen holding
their heads in shame and bewilderment as the priest savaged President Kumaratunga by name.
One was overheard asking another, "How is it that he is full of gas now, after we
won? Where was he all this time, when we were fighting it out with the PA?" The
sentiment is all the more poignant given that in the run-up to the election, several
eminent clerics including the Asgiriya and Malwatta Mahanayakes and the Archbishop of
Colombo came out publicly against the violence sponsored by the PA Government. The Ven.
Galaboda was conspicuously silent then. Just hours after the victory, there he was
slandering Kumaratunga and her government, completely unaware that what Wickremesinghe
wanted most was to put the past behind him and guide the country into a new future.
No partisan politics
Clearly, there are lessons to be learned both by Kumaratunga on the one hand, and the
likes of the Ven. Galaboda on the other. Wickre- mesinghe intends to avoid partisan
politics as best he can and provide a good government for all the people of Sri Lanka, not
just UNP supporters. Anyone not playing along with that ideal should be shown the door
right quickly, regardless of how high and mighty they are. The people of Sri Lanka are
sick and tired of cheap, divisive politics. This nation has slipped too far into the abyss
to fall yet again prey to the bigoted and partisan schemes of wily leaders, whatever their
field of leadership. The task before the government is to get on with the furtherance of
peace, prosperity and social welfare. Nothing and no one should be allowed to stand in the
way of this. Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Ven. Galaboda please note.
President may have overlooked
my name - Mowlana
By Wilson Gnanadass
While former ministers continue to languish in their official residences in Colombo
even after they were routed after the December 5, general election, one member who left
the official house and took shelter at his daughter's house immediately after the election
results were announced was none other than former Labour and Media Minister Alavi Mowlana.
A Bandaranaike loyalist.
He returned his vehicles and other belongings of the state and proceeded to his
daughter's house, as he does not own a house.
The ex-minister started packing his things last Thursday evening, once all the results
Currently he resides at his daughter's house at Dehiwela. He returned his Pajero that
was given to him and a Volvo, that was once used by former information minister
The Sunday Leader learns other ministers have asked that they be allowed to stay a
little longer in their official residences.
Though it is a sad end for Alavi Mowlana with shabby treatment meted out to him by the
Peoples' Alliance (PA) leadership, Mowlana says he has no regrets at all.
Mowlana who commenced his political life with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) way
back in 1952, when the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike formed the party, was not
even considered fit to be nominated into the national list of the PA this time by the
founder's daughter President Kumaratunga.
Mowlana was summoned by PA General Secretary D.M.Jayaratne and President's Secretary
Kusumsiri Balapetabendi, last Friday December 7, and was told to take up the position of
the governor Western Province which Mowlana declined saying he is a trade unionist and he
would like to be with the people.
One finds it difficult to understand as to how Mowlana could have been overlooked since
he is also a senior member of the executive committee of the PA.
Mowlana has been imprisoned several times, beaten by the police and further been
persecuted during his tenure as a member of the SLFP. Mowlana says he had to undergo such
agony because he was a supporter of the SLFP. He lost two brothers in law, who functioned
as his private secretaries in 1990 and 1991. He also lost his wife subsequently. He says
he could not even give proper attention to his wife prior to her death because of his
Relaxing at his daughter's residence, Mowlana says he has no regrets and adds he has no
anger towards President Kumaratunga either, who he feels may have overlooked his name as
she was preoccupied with her election work.
How Foreign Ministry down-played
Ranil's visit to India
by Amantha Perera
The first overseas trip Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be undertaking would
be to India starting next week.
In fact, Wickremesinghe held one of his first discussions since winning the election
with outgoing Indian High Commissioner Gopal Gandhi. Wickremesinghe is taking wing to
India to consult his Indian couterparts on recommencing the peace process. The importance
Wickremesinghe has attached to the Indian factor, only goes to reinforce India's
importance in finding any sort of solution to the burning ethnic conflict.
Wickremesinghe has indicated to partymen as well as the diplomatic community that he
was thinking of restarting the Norwegian facilitated peace process, which has been defunct
since the departure of Erik Solhiem from the negotiating core-group.
Wickremesinghe took wing to India six months ago as well in his capacity as opposition
leader. When the trip was arranged, the opposition leader's office wrote to G. Wijesiri,
Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting the assistance of the Sri Lankan
missions in New Delhi and Madras for the official trip.
The letter was promptly forwarded to the missions and a senior assistant secretary of
administrations at the ministry followed the government criteria under which the
opposition leader is elevated to cabinet rank.
However, within 24 hrs of the first dispatch, Wijesiri sent a second fax under
confidential cover. Referring to the fax sent a day before, Wijesiri re-instructed the two
missions, "please be advised that you are only expected to extend customary
facilities and courtesies particularly on arrival and departure during the visit of the
Hon. Leader of the Opposition".
In effect, what Wijesiri said was to look after Wickremesinghe at check-in and
check-out and stop at that. During the trip Wickremesinghe met with the Indian Prime
Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee along with a host of other powerful personalities. And
Wijesiri instructed the two missions not to assist in the trip and arranging the meetings.
Wickremesinghe however was able to meet with the Indians but the appointments were set
through his own network. The foreign ministry, then under Lakshman Kadirgamar, was only
acting petty and on a political level, not as the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka but as the
foreign ministry of the PA government.
Ironically, the same secretary who was limiting Wickremesinghe's access, and another
Kadirgamar favourite Nawarathnaraja were last week cosying up to the new UNF
administration under Wickremesinghe in the hope that he could continue holding the