interference in graphite sale
government minister appears to be interfering with national
assets, wheeler-dealing with a government agency to sell a
strategic mineral at a rock bottom price. Industries Minister
is alleged to have directly interfered with the sale of 60 tonnes
of graphite from Sri Lanka to a Japanese buyer - defiantly
ignoring specific instructions to the contrary, issued by the Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and
Promotion Ministry under whose purview this subject is addressed.
Prof. G. L.
Peiris presides as minister at this ministry and is Bogollagama's
superior. Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited, has sold 60 tonnes of Sri
Lankan graphite to a Japanese company named, Kato & Company for a
price of US $ 650 per metric ton.
This is despite
the fact that Bogala Graphite Lanka Limited offered to buy this graphite
at the rate of US $ 850 per ton. In fact as recently as
April this year, Kato
itself purchased 20 tons of graphite from Kahatagaha at a price of US $
1,080 per ton and in November last year another 20 tonnes of the same
grade of graphite was purchased by Kato for US $ 1200 per ton.
the official government agency to mine Sri Lanka graphite and market it
for export. The Kahatagaha graphite mines are situated at Maduragoda,
Dodangaslanda in the Kurunegala District.
Gamaarachchi was appointed as the new chairman for Kahatagaha Graphite
Lanka Limited on March 15, this year, on the recommendation of Minister
Bogollagama. The controversy surrounding the graphite in question
revolves around what is known as KC 97-99 for which usually the export
market price is US $ 1,200 per ton.
As pointed out,
as recently as November last year and April this year, Kato purchased 40
tonnes of KC 9799 Sri Lanka graphite for a price of US $ 1200 and US $
1,080 per ton. The issue
here is why Gamaarachchi, as chairman, Kahatagaha Graphite decided when
there were higher offers, to sell this particular grade of graphite for
only US $ 650 per ton to the same Japanese firm that had previously paid
over US $ 1000 for the identical grade.
Gamaarachchi together with Rohitha Bogollagama chose to bypass specific
instructions issued by the Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and
Investment Promotion Ministry when
finalising this sale is cause for concern.
has in fact directly snubbed and ignored an order by the Ministry
Secretary, Ranjith Fernando, who on August 21, this year wrote a
strongly worded letter to the Kahatagaha chairman reprimanding him for
not carrying out the instructions of the ministry under whose purview
such sales are authorised. Fernando on August 21 ordered Gamaarachchi to
immediately stop all exports at the price of US $ 650 per ton to the
Japanese buyer and instead sell the graphite for a price of US$ 1200 per
ton, which Executive Director, Kahatagaha, J. Kaviratne had secured.
This letter too Gamaarachchi ignored and in fact sold another shipment
of KC 97-99 graphite at the rate of US$ 650 to Kato on September 5,
secured an order on August 14, 2002, from the UK based firm, Branwell
Graphite Ltd., who wished to buy 20 tonnes of KC 97-99 graphite at a
purchase price of US$ 1200 per ton. Gamaarachchi however refused to deal
with Branwell Graphite Limited. Together with Minister Rohitha
Bogollagama, the Kahatagaha chairman was determined to sell only to Kato
- who were buying the same grade of graphite at a price that is US $ 550
less on every ton, than that offered by Branwell which is the market
price of the mineral. Ranjith Fernando meanwhile trying desperately to
remedy the situation wrote to Vice
Chairman/CEO, Bogala Graphite Lanka Limited, Sydney Jayasinghe, on
September 4, 2002 and confirmed that Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited
will not be selling 97-99 grade graphite at a price below US $ 850 per
ton, which was the price offered by Bogala Graphite as opposed to the US
$ 650 offer of Kato.
told Jayasinghe in this letter that the ministry is interested in
pursuing the proposal he has made to act as the company's agent for the
selling of its product. He said however that such a decision would have
to be taken at ministerial level.
Even after this
letter, Kahatagaha on the instructions of Gamaarachchi sent another 60
tonnes of 97-99 grade graphite to Kato at a price of US$ 650 per ton.
The tonnage was exported a day later on September 5, on which day
another letter was sent by Fernando to Gamaarachchi ordering him to stop
selling the graphite at this ridiculously low price.
had meanwhile made an offer to purchase KC 97-99 at the rate of US $ 850
per ton. Sydney Jayasinghe said their offer was to purchase 40 tonnes of
KC 97-99 Sri Lanka graphite at a price of US $ 850 per ton, and purchase
another 1,080 tonnes of the same grade, over a period of three months
also for US $ 850 per metric ton. A purchase order to this effect in
fact was made out on September 4, 2002 and addressed to Kaviratne in his
capacity as executive director, Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited.
Jayasinghe said that their proposal however was subject to a conditional
clause that Bogala Graphite Lanka Limited be appointed the sole agent
for Kahatagaha in Sri Lanka. It was this clause that Ranjith Fernando
said the ministry of Prof. G. L. Peiris was interested in, but would
have to be discussed in the minister's presence. Meanwhile, Rohitha
Bogollagama got wind of this offer the same day and summoned Sydney
Jayasinghe on September 4, to his residence at Colombo 7, and had a
discussion with him on this issue. This was the same day that Jayasinghe
had submitted to Kahatagaha a purchase order for 40 tonnes of graphite
at the rate of US $ 850 per ton. Jayasinghe said that Bogollagama in
fact had two discussions with him on this matter. When asked why
Bogollagama had done so, Jayasinghe said, "I don't know." He
denied that Bogollagama had influenced him to withdraw his offer which
was US $ 200 more on each ton than the Japanese buyer Kato.
Whatever it was
that transpired between Bogollagama and Sydney Jayasinghe, finally
resulted in Jayasinghe withdrawing his proposal to Kahatagaha Graphite
Two weeks after
Jayasinghe met with Bogollagama, on September 16, 2002, Jayasinghe wrote
to Kaviratne informing him that they are compelled to cancel the
purchase order dated September 4, for 40 metric tonnes of KC 97-99
graphite. When asked why he cancelled his offer despite the Ministry
Secretary, Ranjith Fernando informing him that this grade of graphite
would not be sold for less than US $ 850 per ton, Jayasinghe said, there
was no point in discussing the proposal any further as Kahatagaha
continued to export the graphite in question for a price of US$ 650 per
ton to Japan.
informed that Kahatagaha via its Chairman, Gamaarachchi was continuing
to sell to Kato for US $ 650 per ton and there was no point - as
Kahatagaha was continuing to act in this manner despite the ministry's
instructions to the contrary," Jayasinghe said.
Director, Kaviratne and Chairman Gamaarachchi meanwhile locked horns
over this issue. Kaviratne insisted the graphite should be sold for US$
1200 per ton on short-term contracts and for US$ 850 per ton on long
term contracts. Gamaarachchi refused to agree and insisted he had the
backing of Rohitha Bogollagama to continue in this manner. When we spoke
to Gamaarachchi he maintained the same stance. He reiterated that he is
answerable only to Bogollagama who he insists is his immediate boss. If
the ministry of Prof. G. L. Peiris has a problem over this matter
"they should then sort it out with Bogollagama and not me," he
maintains that he agreed to sell this grade of graphite to the Japanese
company Kato for US $ 650 per ton, "because it is to be a long term
contract and they will purchase 600 tonnes from us." When pointed
out that Bogala graphite had offered to purchase 1,080 tonnes for US $
850 per ton, Gamaraachchi claimed that he had not seen any such proposal
or form submitted by Bogala Graphite to this effect. Quizzed on why he
is selling at US $ 650 per ton when Kato had as recently as April this
year and November last year bought this same grade of graphite for US$
1080 and US $ 1200 per ton respectively, Gamaarachchi said, Kato had
only purchased 20 tonnes at a time - and this was why the price was
high. In this instance however, he asserted, the contract is for 600
He claimed that
Kato may also continue to purchase 100 tonnes of KC 97-99 graphite every
month "which is almost our entire produce," Gama- arachchi
said. "Isn't this a huge achievement?" he asked.
He argued that
China is selling the same grade of graphite to Japan for a maximum price
of US $ 800 per ton and Sri Lanka has to compete with China. "This
is why I sold the graphite for US $ 650 per ton," he said
defensively. He added that Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited was in a
critical financial position when he took over as chairman this year and
this was why he was forced to take this decision in order to pay
salaries and ensure the company stays afloat. "We require Rs. 7.5
million a month in order to survive," he said. Meanwhile,
Ministry Secretary, Ranjith Fernando has once more written to
Gamaarachchi on September 19, alleging that he is misappropriating
public assets by his determination to sell this grade of graphite at a
rock bottom price. In response to this missive, Gamaarachchi said,
"I am answerable to the cabinet. My point is this. I acted with
good intentions under these circumstances with the approval of Rohitha
Bogolla- gama - if I have done anything wrong, Ranjith Fernando should
verify as much from Rohitha Bogollagama and not me."
Bogollagama and Ranjith Fernando could not be contacted for comment as
they are both
in bitter tussle
As the battle
over the sale of KC 9799 Sri Lanka graphite continues, the two
heavyweights at Kahatagaha Graphite, Dhammikka Gamaarachchi and J.
Kaviratne are bitterly tussling over the issue.
charges that his executive director has "vested interests in
the sale of this graphite," and in fact owns a mine at
Payagala. On September 17, Gamaarachchi ordered that no more cash
or cheques should be released by Kahatagaha for fuel against the
vehicle being used by Kaviratne. Gamaarachchi charged that
Kaviratne also does not report any more for work. Kaviratne for
his part argued that he does not see eye-to-eye with Gamaarachchi
on this issue and is extremely disturbed that Sri Lanka graphite
is being sold at such rock bottom prices to the Japanese.
He denied that
he owns a mine of his own at Payagala, adding that he is being
victimised as a result of his contrary stance on this matter, to
that of his chairman.
Paradisians with murder talk . . .
When I was told
of your recent appearance on the telly, I justifiably thought you were
merely memorising your daily irrational panic drill in front of a
camera. But what got my shapely ear lobe really flapping was your
grandiose estimate of the blue performances when in government.
Borrowing some of the juicier phrases off your daddy's widely acclaimed
pamphlet - 'How to talk baloney and get away with it,' you claimed that
it was your government that fed the hungry. You sound a lot like another
girl I know intimately. I mean of course that largely proportioned
female of liberty who is yearning desperately for the huddled masses, as
long as they don't wear beards and funny round cloth hats.
You reckon and
who can fault you, that the masses of Sri Lanka were fed in your
backyard and supped merrily each day on string hopper buriyani and
chicken curry, made no doubt by your many domestic menikas. That you
have been having hallucinations, a comfort zone Thellie herself has
often been accused of orbiting
into, is obvious.
curiosity is tickled dear. I ignore the nasty experience of the cat in
the clich‚, as I am not a cat, and tell you again that I am curious.
If you and your blue chaps did everything for the 'nethi beri aya' as
you claim then why didn't they vote for you? Unless by nethi beri you
mean your poor uncle Hotgarden. He certainly had millions of rupees
worth of CDs in his many bank vaults. I can imagine why you would feel a
tug at your heartstrings when you see your uncle. Have you seen his nose
lately? Besides, those
cousins of yours would need a lot of money to maintain the guns they
seem to always fire in the air. Shooting clay pigeons no doubt. If the
milk of human kindness has not been sloshing inside you, wanting to help
the Bandas in their plight, I don't know what has
been sloshing (except a few stiffish Martinis). I bleed darling simply
bleed for your nethi beri relatives, and pray each day that you were
able when you were in power to help them.
though no doubt falling trippingly off your tongue, if I were to
misquote the bard, closely resembled the words of
Walter Mitty when he was relating one of his riper tales. Both
you and James, and I mean
Thurber not Bond, might have chatted over a limp biscuit and a saucer of
tea writing a tall story together. But indulgent and extravagant in your
day dreams of your own triumphs, as you are, to me it seems, that if
anything is sloshing inside you it is a bucket full of green envy.
dear is you have no real vision. Even your speeches are old and hacked.
No creativity, just the same old gag. With your lack of artistic vision
it's a good thing you weren't around when Ramses II was building his
pyramids. They may have turned out square.
I refer dear
lady to your speech in Kandy last week to commemorate Hector Kobbekaduwa.
Breathing fire through flared nostrils and stamping your foot, you
wiggled a long claw at the audience and made. well.threats. That's the
only word for it. Threats. I tell you sweetie if the Grimm brothers had
caught your act they would have immediately included
you in their dramatis personae as the large greedy dragon that
devoured the beautiful girl. And let's not even begin to speculate who
the beautiful girl is.
The greens you
accuse are getting ready to clip your wings. I mean to say dear, that is
only metaphorically speaking. Legally, through a parliamentary bill. You
don't quite expect Ranil to be flitting around
with a pair of gold scissors trying to get
samples off your sari pota now do you?
sake darling, get real. You will fight it tooth and nail you say. Hmm.
As you are rather long in the tooth already, all you have to do
is grow your nails and apply Lakme nail hardener for that final surge of
against all advice, you keep trying to arouse the Paradisians with talk
of murder. Was it Friday the 13th? Was it Halloween? Did we ask for you
to tell us ghost stories? No. And I say again no. You missed your
vocation dear. You should have been one of those wrestlers in the WWF.
You could have called yourself 'Flaming Filly.'
You certainly talk the talk.
But I shivered
like an unset jelly, when I
heard you'd threatened to attack if attacked and not shy away like a
scalded kitten. You will face your Nemesis, you said. Look death in the
eye and take out 500 of your enemies
before you succumb.
Are you cracked
dear? Really. You should have been in the movies. Possibly a bit part in
Come Or Go Chicago.
I'll let you
into a secret. No one is trying to bump you off. On the contrary
the whole country is trying
to talk peace. So stop baring your claws. I say old girl even the Tigers
are behaving like kittens why can't you?
I'm also aware
you requested the media minister to air your full speech on Rupavahini
with strict instructions not to make any
mathematical additions or subtractions or technological
distortions. Far cry from what your media minister did when the greens
were in opposition and Ranil's
speeches were distorted, eh what? Seriously darling. After the negative
responses to your speech aired in full as requested, methinks you would
have been better off with the distortions. A final bit of advice.
Kittens are cute. Maybe if you behave like one you could gain a little
much needed popularity.
strategy for peace says G.L.
negotiations cannot be pursued on the basis that gain accruing to one
party, involves reciprocal loss to the other. We emphatically reject
that premise. We acknowledge that we both have a problem, destructive of
the pulsating heart of our nation, which it is in our mutual interest to
resolve together. This is very much the spirit in which we conceive of,
and will carry through, our role in the ensuing discussions."
- Prof. G. L
. Peiris (inaugural address at Thailand talks)
By D. B.
Lankan government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) led by Velupillai Prabhakaran
have virtually formed a partnership to consolidate and further the on
going peace process. The talks in Thailand will not be a zero sum
exercise where the winner takes everything. There are no victors or
vanquished here. The Sattahip proceedings were not adversarial or
confrontational. We approached issues with sincerity, openness and
candour. It was a joint exercise in peace-building. Both sides know that
it is in their mutual interest to resolve the problem and both sides
realise that prolonged war is not the answer."
Gamini Lakshman Peiris summed up the preliminary phase of the Sattahip
summit in this manner last week. The constitutional affairs minister who
led the government delegation to the Thailand talks candidly disclosed
the government perspective on the peace process and current talks in a
lengthy conversation with this correspondent in Canada. Peiris took
flight to the USA immediately after the first round of talks concluded
on September 18. Thereafter he undertook a whirlwind two day visit to
Ottawa during which he took time off from his tight schedule to explain
the current situation in a direct conversation.
Prof. G. L.
Peiris met Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham and Secretary
of State (Asia-Pacific), David Kilgour in Ottawa in September 23.
The event was
widely publicised by the Canadian media. Incidently Graham and Kilgour
met Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe in New York on September 17. He also
met the Canadian Minister for International Cooperation Susan Whelan and
the Inter-Governmental Affairs Minister Stephane Dion in separate
meetings. In addition there was also a roundtable discussion attended by
Canadian governmental and non-governmental officials where Peiris
explained in detail the ramifications
of the peace process with emphasis on the Thailand talks.
negotiator on the government side also met the outgoing Canadian High
Commissioner to Colombo, Ruth Archibald and the designated new envoy
Valerie Raymond at a dinner meeting on September 21. A dinner in his
honour was hosted by the Sri Lankan envoy in Ottawa Geetha de Silva on
minister also met members of the Canada based think tank Forum of
Federations. The organisation sent a team of experts led by former
Ontario Provincial Premier Bob Rae to conduct workshops and seminars in
Sri Lanka in early September. Overseas Development Minister Whelan
announced the grant of CDN $300, 000 to the forum for assisting the
peace negotiations in Sri Lanka after her meeting with Peiris. Prof.
Peiris also met several members of the Canadian mainstream media
including representatives of the CBC, Globe, Mail and Toronto Star.
programme in Canada was organised by Glen Hodgins of the South Asia
division in association with High Commissioner Geetha de Silva who in
turn was assisted by First Secretary Wimal Hemachandra and Third
Secretary Chamari Rodrigo.
seemed extremely satisfied about his Canadian visit. He said that Sri
Lanka was expecting assistance of two types from Canada. The first was
aid and assistance for rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic development. "Both Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and I
are emphasising to the international community that the peace process
must pay immediate dividends if it is to succeed. The people affected by
the war must see their situation improve as quickly as possible. For
this we need external resources because the past war has virtually
crippled our economy," he said.
a school of thought within the international community that massive
development aid should be given to Sri Lanka only after the negotiations
reach a conclusive stage. Such an approach though well intentioned could
be counterproductive because a sense of disillusionment may set in if
the peace process fails to deliver on matters connected with the
upliftment of people's lives.
We are telling the world that they could provide aid for large-scale or
gigantic projects later on but that immediate assistance is needed for
moderate or medium and low-scale projects," Peiris said. Canada had
a track record of aiding humanitarian projects in Sri Lanka.
request from Canada is aid to commence projects that would better the
lot of the people. Basic amenities and infrastructure like water,
electricity, schools, hospitals, roads and transport vehicles have to be
restored and developed. We would appreciate Canada identifying such
needs and fulfilling them by initiating related projects," Peiris
said. "I also pointed out that the West need not have apprehensions
about the process collapsing and pinpointed the continuing success of
the eight month long ceasefire as proof of this."
was optimistic about Ottawa's help in this respect in due course. The
second type of help required was Canadian expertise to assist in the
negotiating process. While Norway was doing an excellent job in
facilitating the peace process, serious negotiations on constitutional
reform or constitution making will have to take place in the future.
"We are envisaging the setting up of a resource panel of experts to
assist and advise both parties on constitutional technicalities and
offer expertise on related issues including power sharing. We think that
Canadian experts could be of yeoman service in that respect. Already two
NGOs funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the
Ottawa based Forum of Federations and the Colombo based Centre for
Policy Alternatives are engaged in pioneering work in this regard."
pointed out that both sides could learn many things from the Canadian
experience. He said that inspiration could be drawn from several
Canadian successes and failures like bi-lingualism, the various
arrangements accommodating aspirations of the Canadian first nation
communities (aboriginals), the Meech lake accord, Charlottetown summit,
the Quebec referendum etc. "The recent Clarity Act presented by
Inter-Governmental Affairs Minister Dion could be a model in several
aspects" Peiris said.
that the process had not reached the stage of crucial constitutional
reform yet, Peiris stressed that the Canadian experience as well as
expertise provided by Canada could be invaluable at the appropriate
Asked about the
preliminary round of talks in Thailand the government's chief negotiator
was quite buoyant. "It went off very cordially and constructively.
Apart from the formal discussions we interacted informally too. Anton (Balasingham)
and I had several frank exchanges over coffee. Both sides were able to
see and understand each other's points of view and perspectives. We
could understand Tamil grievances and aspirations; they could appreciate
Sinhalese' anxieties and fears. Both sides realised the constraints and
compulsions on each other. I think the groundwork for profitable
discussions in the future has been laid in Sattahip."
pointed out in my inaugural address the talks went off well in a
non-confrontational, non-adversarial atmosphere. The Norwegians with
their wealth of experience in peacemaking were struck by the absence of
rancour and hostility in the discussions. There were no heated
exchanges, no harsh words, even our voices were not raised. Both sides
conducted themselves with responsibility and dignity. I am personally
delighted with the outcome and hopeful that a similar environment will
prevail in the future also."
whether the first round went off well because contentious issues were
deliberately avoided, Peiris responded thus. "There is no question
of avoiding contentious or prickly issues. All relevant issues were
taken note of in our preliminary round. What we have done is to sequence
them appropriately. No negotiating process can succeed if the most
difficult and intractable issues are tackled first. What we are doing is
to identify the problems and take up each specifically in a well planned
sequence. We can build up mutual trust and confidence by resolving the
easier problems first and then proceed to the difficult ones. I am
confident that if we proceed on this basis even the most fundamental
areas of disagreement could be discussed
clearly that the so called core issues too will be taken up at the
appropriate time. "There is no question of skirting around them or
shirking. But we are not going in right now. If we adopt that course as
some persons want us to, the talks will be disastrous. What we are doing
is to go in one issue at a time . We will identify, discuss, resolve,
implement and review them one by one. Past experience has demonstrated
that a multi-level approach is unrealistic. It is the piecemeal approach
that could work better."
further, Peiris said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had given
much thought to the matter before deciding upon this "incremental
strategy" as the way to achieve a positive and constructive peace.
"The step by step incremental approach is a reflection of his
mindset and attitude. Illustrating this very clearly was his speech
recently in Colombo at a function concerning the retirement of Catholic
Archbishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando. Quoting the hymn Lead Kindly Light
Ranil emphasised the line "one step enough for me." That was
significantly illuminating," Peiris pointed out. "Fortunately
the LTTE also subscribes to this incremental strategy for peace
talks," he said.
the future course of the talks Peiris said that the Sattahip Summit had
firmly forged the foundation for a partnership of peace between the
government and the LTTE. He drew attention to his inaugural address in
Thailand in which he emphasised that the talks were not a zero sum game
where the winner takes all. "These negotiations cannot be pursued
on the basis that gain accruing to one party, involves reciprocal loss
to the other. We emphatically reject that premise. We acknowledge that
we both have a problem, destructive of the pulsating heart of our
nation, which it is in our mutual interest to resolve together. This is
very much the spirit in which we conceive of, and will carry through,
our role in the ensuing discussions," he said.
that peacemaking was a bilateral effort, Peiris said that the government
and LTTE were now partners with an equal stake in the success of the
peace process. A convergence of opinion had emerged at Thailand about
the immediate priorities. It was mutually agreed that immediate efforts
should be undertaken to restore normalcy to the war affected areas and
improve the lot of the people living in the north-east whether they be
Tamil, Muslim or Sinhala. It
is imperative that
the suffering people should feel optimistic about the peace talks by
seeing tangible benefits. It is only then that a proper environment for
the talks to progress could evolve.
signing of the ceasefire and its implementation is one important phase
of this process of normalisation. Both sides concurred at Sattahip that
this process should be assessed, encouraged and promoted. A very
important feature of this process would be the resettlement and
rehabilitation of displaced people in their former habitation.
Thereafter those affected areas have to be reconstructed and developed.
Obstacles have to be rectified in this regard."
methodology Peiris said that the implementation process of the ceasefire
accord will be reviewed continuously and bottlenecks removed and defects
remedied. A major problem was the presence of landmines numbering
several lakhs being sown in various parts of the north and east. These
had to be cleared. Work was already in progress but it had to be
amplified and expedited. Canada was quite keen on this and had already
allocated CDN $ 120, 000 to the Mine Action Resources Centre in Colombo.
Peiris also said that Sri Lanka had not signed the Ottawa Treaty on
landmine abolition yet. There was every prospect of Colombo signing it
in the near future with the possibility of Prime Minister Wickrem-
esinghe himself visiting Canada to do so.
Apart from the
landmines, the LTTE had pinpointed another factor preventing the speedy
return of displaced people to their former homes. This was the
promulgation of security and high security zones by the armed forces in
certain areas. A joint committee will be appointed to review issues
concerning these zones. Apart from government and LTTE nominees there
would be representatives from the armed forces in this committee too.
Decisions arrived at would be implemented.
the approach of ensuring normalcy was the decision to appoint a joint
task force. According to Peiris this was the most commendable
achievement at Thailand so far. This task force would coordinate and
supervise all activity pertaining to resettlement, rehabilitation and
reconstruction. Problems would be identified and rectified. Projects
would be formulated. External assistance would be sought and obtained.
Such projects would be closely monitored by the task force. It was
possible that government and LTTE representatives may interact with
donor agencies jointly to garner financial aid.
force will be a novel mechanism that will expedite matters. We will do
away with cumbersome bureaucratic red tape procedures delaying
matters," Peiris said. The task force would have six members with
government and LTTE having three each. The government trio would have a
Muslim representative. The LTTE leader was likely to appoint three from
the LTTE's political wing to this task force. Asked as to whether the
joint task force would be an "unacknowledged substitute" for
the controversial interim administration, the minister dismissed it.
"Mr. Balasingham was specifically concerned about this. He did not
want this task force to delay the interim council in any way,"
further he pointed out that despite efforts to create a bogey out of the
proposed interim administrative council for the north-east the
government will go firmly ahead with it at the correct time. He said
that Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government were firm about the peace
"Be it the
ceasefire agreement or the de-proscription issue we took calculated
decisions and implemented them boldly at the right time. Likewise, the
interim administrative council will be constituted when the time is
opportune. It is ironic that devolution is available in the southern
provinces whereas the north-east which needs it most is deprived. The
interim administration proposal has already been stated in the UNF
manifesto. The people have endorsed it. The people are firmly behind us.
So it will come into operation in due course," he said.
declined to reveal details about the interim administrative council
proposal because it had not been discussed yet. He envisaged concrete
discussions on it taking place in the forthcoming rounds of talks. He
was reluctant to put a time frame on it but only said it would be
operational "as soon as possible." The interim council will allow the people of
the north-east to run their own affairs in defined spheres until an
overall constitutional settlement is evolved. He also refused to
speculate on the ultimate settlement saying it required much joint
effort and had a long long way to go.
further on the concept of devolution Peiris disclosed that the United
National Front government was contemplating asymmetrical devolution on a
needs based criteria. "If for example the Sabaragamuwa Province
with its gems and rubber based economy requires special devolution not
required by other parts of the country, then Sabaragamuwa will get
special powers amounting to asymmetrical devolution for those specific
purposes. Likewise the north-east with its peculiar socio-cultural and
economic requirements may get asymmetrical powers not required for other
parts of the country. The idea that all parts of the country require
identical powers of devolution is no longer valid," said Peiris.
"The whole island will be demarcated into five zones on the basis
of economic development and integrated projects for economic generation
will be underway," he added.
constitutional affairs minister was also confident that President
Chandrika Kumaratunga would not be able to undermine or sabotage the
peace process. The forthcoming 19th constitutional amendment next month
will curb her powers. Moreover, the power configuration in parliament
would be transformed. Kumaratunga will realise that an impeachment
motion could be a grim reality. This would be a restraining influence on
her and it was very likely that she would in practice become a
'constitutional' president instead of being an 'executive' president as
she is now.
was also jubilant about the preponderant international support for the
peace process. While international pressure on both sides was a good
thing it should not be blatant or exhibitionistic because no party would
like to be seen as susceptible to external pressure. The positive aspect
about this process was that both parties were seeking peace genuinely
and voluntarily and not through external compulsions.
He was also
confident that India too was firmly supportive of the peace process in
Lanka. New Delhi had assured Colombo that it was firmly behind it.
"Norway and we keep India briefed regularly and we see no problems
emerging in that direction," he said. The views expressed by
sections of the Indian media should not be perceived as being indicative
of the official Indian line.
Asked about a
hypothetical worst case scenario where the talks collapse and war erupts
again, Peiris replied that in such a situation the peace process may be
irretrievably doomed. It was highly unlikely that peace talks could be
revived again in that context. Prof. Peiris however was strongly
optimistic about the current talks. "It is my fervent belief that
the talks won't collapse if we proceed cautiously and systematically.
Both sides are genuinely desirous of ending war and achieving a
peaceful settlement. It is my hope that the valid aspirations of all our
people could be accommodated in a united
Sri Lanka if a satisfactory power sharing structure is evolved."
Man with a
Peiris also spoke 'off the record' about several matters including the
reasons for his entering politics, his disappointment about conflict
resolution during his stint as a PA cabinet minister, the
disillusionment over Chandrika, the continuous war and the antics of
certain former ministers, his crossover, Ranil's personality and
professionalism, the government perceptions about the peace process and
the chances for its success.
One thing that
came through in the conversation was that the brilliant academic turned
politico is a man with a missionary zeal. The mission is to end the war
and usher in a just and honourable negotiated peace. Fortunately for the
country this mission conforms to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's vision.
Hopefully this happy union will succeed in cementing a firm partnership
for peace with the LTTE.
some cricketers play
Amantha Perera, Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, Marianne David
through Makhaya Ntini's mind when two sexily clad women kept giving him
the looks while he sat with his teammates at the team hotel in Colombo,
only he could describe. Whatever that was, his reaction was "oh
preparing for the following day's semi final against India but that did
not deter him from approaching the two women. How Ntini, whose cricket
career was almost finished till he was acquitted of rape charges back in
South Africa approached the women is related elsewhere on this page.
African tear-way fast bowler should have thought twice before
approaching the women, who were doing their job. That of a journalist,
undercover, trying to get first hand evidence that cricketers at the
leading sea front hotel were on the lookout for easy sex.
By the time
Ntini made his move, stories had already appeared of cricketers and
women. On September 17, the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) wrote to
the Chief Executive, ICC, Malcolm Speed through the local cricket board
bringing to his notice the detection of three women inside rooms of two
officials of the West Indies team.
The letter said
that the local women were in the rooms of team Manager Ricky Skerritt
and Garfield Smith, the computer operator, on two days - September 14
and 15. Police sources told The Sunday Leader that there was no evidence
to suggest that the women had spent the night in the rooms. The letter
said that the police was checking into whether the women had prior
criminal records. By end last week police were still unable to tell for
sure whether the women were professional call girls.
denied that the women were professional hookers and said that all
visitors to his room during his stay were of impeccable character. He
however did not deny the details in the MSD letter regarding the visit.
Skerritt said that the MSD had acted in a high handed manner and soon
after the story broke, the West Indies requested that MSD cover be
removed for them. In fact, the team stayed as normal guests during the
last six days of their stay in Colombo.
The MSD was
never on the hunt to prevent the cricketers from having a good time.
"Oh, they can have sex, we have no problem with that," a very
senior MSD officer said. However, it had received instructions from the
ICC through the local board to carry out stringent access control to
players and officials at both the hotel and the match venues. To do that
the MSD deployed 300 officers.
It was while
carrying out this part of the job that they ran into trouble with
cricketers and officials. While the MSD took down names of all visitors
to the rooms, at times it prevented visits. As was the case when a
player tried to take three women to his room.
When entry was
refused, he argued and took his 'friends' to another hotel.
instructions on access control was put in place to make sure that match
fixers did not have any access to players.
It is the
possible axis between prostitutes and bookies that has sent shivers down
the cricket regulatory bodies. "In bed so much of information could
be got," the MSD officer said.
investigations into match fixing has revealed that bookies are
interested in everything from weather conditions to team strategy and
compositions. MSD sources revealed that they had not monitored phone
calls to and from rooms or in fact launched any other operation to check
into details of possible match fixing. The MSD, according to officers,
was just sticking to the mandate received from the ICC.
has been no evidence to prove or connect that women found in the rooms
and loitering in the lobby were prostitutes or connected with crime
not come across any evidence. But bell boys and others at the hotel told
our officers that some of the women were regulars and were call
girls," the officer who wished to remain anonymous said.
The ICC had not
replied the MSD letter and had not even reacted officially. And the
players were devising new methods
to get around the MSD as the days passed. While some were taking
the visitors to other more accommodative environments without the MSD,
others were asking the women to take rooms in the same hotel. As in the
case of Ntini. Though there was restrictions on visits to rooms of
players and officials there was no prohibition of them visiting other
match fixing were hovering at the edges of the tournament that will
Pakistan's loss to Sri Lanka came under ICC scrutiny and the ICC had
given a special number where the public could report any suspicions.
Some teams were
under very strict control. The Pakistanis themselves were barricaded in
the rooms soon after the defeat.
the last two hours
I dressed to
attract attention - a skirt that was slit quite high on both
sides, a short, strappy, shimmery top, high heels, dark lipstick -
applied twice over - blue eyeliner and blue eye shadow and on top
of it all, reeking of perfume applied very generously.
I dressed like
this for a reason - to attract attention from a particular kind of
creature - international cricketers alleged to be on the prowl for
abound that large amounts of money were being offered just for a
one-night stand, I was to be part of The Sunday Leader's first
hand evidence. Would they react true to form or would it turn out
to be a waste of time?
Once I got
there, I was nervous; would they fall for it or would I slip up
and blow the cover? But no. That did not happen, for attract
attention I did. Not only from the players, but even from the
the lobby was okay - I was with a colleague. From there on,
strolling around the hotel, near the pool and along the corridors,
trying to catch their attention and make their heads turn seemed
at first daunting.
But only until
they started reacting 'positively.' The show is on the road, I
thought, here goes nothing. We laughed together saying, well at
least they don't know us... Needles to say, the locals hanging
around sure responded, even though that was not what we wanted.
member of the South African team was the first to fall. He started
responding to our smiles and stares, and then said "Hi"
and waved. However, he didn't come over fast enough so we walked
back to the lobby where Emmerson Trotman, the coach of the Holland
team spoke to us.
We asked him
where the cricketers were and he lamented, "Why do all the
girls ask for the cricketers, why isn't anyone interested in the
We teased him
in return and this banter went on for a while. Taking out a phone
card and chip he said, "They gave this to me to use but I
never did and I want to give it to somebody..."
"Maybe I will give it to a beautiful girl," he suddenly
handed it to me. I was surprised but still unsure of where this
was leading. The mobile number pasted on the card was 077-107040
and SIM number 9402970 211511040
Then he started
talking about how much he spent here and said he must have been
played out. "I spent 28,000 rupees here. If I had met you
before, I could have spent it on you."
The team was
scheduled to leave that night at 12 he said, adding that he could
stay back. "Would you?" I asked. He said "Yes I
could..." and asked for my number saying he would call.
Trotman encounter, I was skilled enough to handle advances by
officials looking after the teams.
Just the week
before a Sri Lankan working as a liaison officer for a top team
wanted to 'sponsor' me among other things.
meantime, Makhaya Ntini was right there next to him chatting up my
colleague and asked us whether we could go for a walk. Saying
okay, we followed.
He asked us
what we would like to drink, but politely, we refused. After
talking for a while about everyday things, life in South Africa
and his cricketing career, he said we should take a room at the
same hotel and that "I am all yours for anything... You can
do what you want."
This went on
for a while after which we said we had plans for the night at
another hotel where some of our friends were waiting for us and
said we would call him tomorrow.
When I got up
saying I needed to go to the lobby to speak to somebody, he asked
my colleague to stay for a while more and she said she would, but
only for 10 minutes.
the lobby again, I met Emerson Trotman for the second time. We
started talking and I said, "You guys are here for about two
more hours and supposed to leave the hotel at 12 right?" He
said yes and we kept talking.
asked, "Why don't you spend my last two hours in Sri Lanka
with me?" I gave him a 'maybe' smile, but he was too caught
up with the departure of the team.
depends on manager"
Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to clinch the World Cup in 1996
thinks that cricketers can be controlled by the right people. He
is of the opinion that team discipline depends on the manager. A
manager more interested in preserving his job and getting on more
tours, would not want to antagonise the players, leading to gaps
He recounted an
incident in Sharjah when an international team had gone out
partying with their coach till 2 a.m. in the morning, just before
On the issue of cricket and bookmakers, Ranatunga was of
the opinion that the local boards in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan
were soft pedaling the issue. He said that the ICC anti-corruption
unit spends almost two million pounds to get rid of gamblers from
cricket and they came out with an idea not to have any person
involved in gambling to be involved in cricket. Ranatunga said
that according to information received by him, the cricket boards
of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka did not support this amendment.
Ranatunga, the blame therefore, should be taken by the boards and
not by the cricketers as they do not support changes which would
clean up the game. The cricket boards should also get together
with senior cricketers, managers, coaches and cricketers to come
to an understanding, he said.
In case the
cricketers adopt an attitude that they are only 'official' for the
time that they play, then the board should tell them that they
would be paid only for the hours they play, which according
Ranatunga is difficult to do.
suggested that boards can look at the possibility of employing
military officers, especially on overseas tours to keep an eye on
the tour party.
said that women approaching crickters was common all over the
world and the first impression would not suggest whether they were
connected to crime rings.
going to be good now"
undercover as a call girl? Well, that doesn't fall in the agenda
of a journalist that often I presume. Anyway, Tuesday (24), was
one heck of a day, or in this case night.
A short black
skirt with two side slits, make-up and perfume to match, my
colleague and I were waiting to prove a point. The point being
that 'babe hitting' among cricketers does happen.
At first, it
was rather annoying to feel that it was the locals who were
responding and not the international cricketers. We were quite
frustrated, when Makhaya Ntini showed some interest - he smiled
and we smiled. He then waved and I waved back. It was then that he
made a suggestive gesture with his hands, which I couldn't quite
make out. The smile I gave Ntini made him go wild.
He saw me smiling; he said "Yeah man!"
Since he did
not make any move we turned away and it was only when the Holland
coach Trotman started to direct his attention towards my
colleague, that Ntini walked that way and picked up a conversation
turned towards me and introduced himself saying that he was a
South African cricketer and asked me to call him Mack. Since he
was on his second visit here, I asked what he thought of Sri
Lanka. His quick response was "It's going to be good now that
I found you."
went on to say that I was the first Sri Lankan girl he has
approached and said that he should have met me earlier, adding
that he had actually not seen any girl making a pass at him. I
said that he should look around a bit more and he would have found
someone, and his response was that he looked around and found me.
suggested that we take a walk. We walked towards the poolside and
proceeded to the terrace upstairs where Three Coins were having a
promotion. We sat there and he asked us whether we would like to
have a drink, which we refused politely saying that we had some
drinks earlier with some of our friends.
We then began a
conversation about South Africa and cricket in general. It was
then that we asked whether his friends (other South African
cricketers) would be interested in joining us as well. Not that
pleased he looked at them and said that they were still having
dinner. I then asked about his team mates and asked whether they
had any lady friends. He said that he can only speak for himself
and not about them.
I then asked
about his lady friends and he said that we were his first in Sri
Lanka. He explained that it is the girls who make the first move
in South Africa most of the time.
asked what our plans were for the night. We said that we had to go
back to meet our friends as they were waiting for us. He said that
he cannot go anywhere as he had a match the day after (25). The
match was the semi-final with India. But, he quickly added that
after the match he is ours for the taking.
I asked how we
could go about it as the MSD doesn't allow any females to enter
the cricketers' rooms. Looking a little serious he asked us to
take a room at the hotel and said, "It would be good."
We then said
that we had to leave and it was when we got up that Ntini asked my
colleague to go on while asking me to stay. Hesitantly, I said
that I will wait for 10 minutes before joining my colleague.
colleague was out of sight, he wondered whether it was OK asking
me to stay. I said that it wasn't a problem and remained silent.
He asked me what I was going to do and asked me whether I will
call him. He repeated that I should get a room at the hotel and
asked me to call him after he comes back from the day - night
asked for a time and he said that I could call him at 11 p.m. and
he gave me the room number, which he gave me earlier. I just
looked at him and he told me that after the match he'll be all
mine. "Give me a call and meet me up. After the match I'll be
all your's," he said. He went on to say that I could pick him
up and go out. I said OK. He then told me that I could also call
and then book a room in the hotel as "things would be much
easier." I said OK and got up to leave.
tried to hold my hand and I walked away. He then said "Let's
have a small hug," and I said that we should save the best
for last. He went on insisting and said that it was no big deal
adding that first impressions count a lot. I said that there are
always first times for anything and this time we should save the
best for last.
He still went
on insisting and I said that someone would see. He looked around
and said that there's no one around and asked whether he could hug
me... I refused and reminded him that we are in Sri Lanka. With an
understanding nod he walked with me. He tried to take the longest
possible route to meet my friend while I took the shortest
possible way there.
to my colleague, I said that it was time to leave. Ntini who was
speaking to some locals asked me to wait saying that he will join
me. When I said that I had to leave at that very moment, he asked
me to go out and said that he would meet me outside. I said that
there was no need for that saying that I will call him the next
day. He said that he would be leaving the hotel at 12.30 p.m. for
the match and asked me to call him before.
On the 25th, I
called Nitini in his room at the hotel and he was happy to hear my
voice. He asked me what I did the night before and when I said
that I partied till 3 a.m. he said "Yeah" and asked me
the night's plan. I said it is too early to think of it. He asked
whether he'll be seeing me at night. I said "maybe." He
asked whether I'll be getting a room at the hotel and I said I
haven't decided on it as yet. He asked me to call him around 11
p.m. to inform him of the plan.
I then said
that some of my friends too are interested and asked whether they
will receive a payment for being in the room at that time. He
asked me what they would be doing, and when I said "Let's
leave it to the imagination," he paused a while and indicated
that he might not pay. I asked whether he would make a payment to
me, he said that he doesn't think so. He quickly asked whether
he'll still be seeing me at night. I said that I'll call him at
night with the plan. Then I wished him good luck for his game and
stability on the horizon
By Amantha Perera
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to the US is anticipated by many
to be the catalyst for investment in Sri Lanka.
the trip, Investment Promotion Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said the
government felt that the time had come for a two tier approach — one
of peace and stability and the other on economic development. He
observed that it was with this strategy in mind that while he and other
government members were discussing peace in Thailand, Wickremesinghe was
leading the drive on the investment front in the US.
in the US, signified a policy shift on the part of the government on
foreign investments. In the past, attention was more on attracting
foreign investment into light industries, like textiles. In the US, the
government delegation elaborated plans to attract foreign investment
into bigger projects, like infrastructure development, IT, railways etc.
a presentation, Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Arjunna Mahendran
said the government was planing to introduce legislation that would
allow oil exploration off Sri Lanka.
the aftermath of the trip, there is renewed interest, according to BOI
Media Director, Dilip Samarasinghe, with potential investors not only
from the US, but other destinations like Europe, the Far East and the
visit was part of a much bigger event; in the sense the return of
stability,” Samarasinghe observed. The BOI sent an investment
promotion team to Japan on Friday (27). The visit is part of an on-going
promotion effort. In Japan, the emphasis once again will shift to
infrastructure development while also concentrating on traditional
Japanese investments in ceramics, porcelain, IT, and software
despite the publicity, the trip has so far generated very little by way
of real investments. The reactions have been limited to telephone calls
and so far, no follow-up meetings have been scheduled. But, the BOI is
expecting big things to happen, of that there is no doubt.
BOI has set itself an investment figure of US $ 3 billion for this year
— how far this would materialise is not clear. So far, the BOI is
uncertain how much real investment has reached the shores of the country
any event, 2002 is not going to be as good as predicted. GDP growth that
was expected to reach 3.5% or
above was lowered to 3% earlier this week. A rational decision, with
some pessimistic analysts still predicting that it would not be
the predictions were made of 3.5%, the argument was that at best the
country would just about get out of the
negative growth rate and that concentration should be focused on laying
a solid foundation.
looks like the government too has shifted attention to 2003. Defence
expenditure is targeted to come down like never in history in 2003. The
defence budget is expected to fall to Rs. 36 billion next year from Rs.
51 billion — a mega fall.
budget deficit is expected to fall to 7.5% as well. How true these
figures would be, only time will tell. But, some sort of stability has
returned to the economy. The manner in which the stock market reacted
last week was proof of it.
the market went on a bull run the week before on sentiment,
brokers expected it to correct itself this week. It reached dizzy
heights with a turnover of Rs. 700 million, the third largest in history
and the fall was expected to be in tune with the yo-yo syndrome that has
plagued the bourse — one day up next down.
despite the correction, the anticipated fall was never that steep in
reality. The market stabilised with the All Share Price Index remaining
above the 800 mark. “It will, maybe edge down a little bit because
there was some junk that went up during the bull run, but would settle
in the region of 800-840,” a broker said.
month back, he put the figure around 700 or even below. His assessment
is that some stability of sorts had returned to the economy. Not one set
in iron-cast but the economic prospects look much better than six months
foreign investors have not begun to return to the market. And would not
do so in substantial numbers unless clear signals go out that both
warring parties — the government and the LTTE are dead set on peace
and stability. A lot would depend on what comes out of the next round of
announcement by the international community that funds would be
allocated to the reconstruction of the war ravaged areas following the
first round of talks also augurs well. Once again, the prediction has
come right that the peace divined would take time to materialise and by
the looks of it, the economic fruits of the peace process would be
tasted only in 2003.
the international front, one significant development can turn all the
gains domestically back by a mile. The continuing tension in the Middle
East, with both the US and the UK beating harder on the war drums saw
oil prices taking an agonisingly painful rise last week and Brent quoted
prices as high as US $ 30 per barrel. They however, eased off by the end
of the week.
the fact remains that the US and the UK are interested in kicking
Saddam’s butt. The butt kicking would have some serious repercussions
on the Sri Lankan economy.
fuel prices rising, costs would escalate across the board putting
pressure both on consumers as well as industries.
in the gulf would set back foreign investments as well as tourism. The
UNF has been on a campaign to promote tourism with very limited success
and missiles slamming down and GI’s running all over the Gulf would
certainly keep the holiday makers closer to home.
out of the rut
improvement is made, Sri Lanka is by no means out of the rut. The budget
to be presented on November 6 would show how far the government plans to
go. In its latest assessment of Sri Lanka, the IMF said recently that
though the government is on the right track, more decisive reforms have
to be put in place.
budget would be the signal whether the government is willing to Tango
with the devil that is reforms. By year end, the government might also
face revenue problems as the new tax reforms would take some time to
top of all that hangs the possibility of elections, that can cost the
country Rs. 600 million and literally take it back one year.
Minister Wickremesinghe has indicated that if the 19th Amendment fails,
then it would be elections that would turn the country into a virtual
last three months of this year would more or less be like the rest. A
wide-eyed public would be waiting in anticipation to figure out when the
fighting finishes and rebuilding begins, politically and economically.
Talks in Thailand:
Partnership not antagonism
sentiments expressed by the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE at the
inaugural session and at the press conference at the conclusion of the
Sattahip talks, constitute a promising start for the official peace
process. The emphasis is
very clearly on partnership, not antagonism, to use Prof G. L.
Peiris’s words, and the modalities preferred are the step by step,
problem solving one. This is attested to in the agreement to set up a
joint committee to deal with issues relating to the high security zones
and a joint task force for humanitarian and recons-truction activities.
joint committee is aimed at facilitating the return of internally
displaced persons (IDPS) and the return to normalcy.
It will consist of senior representatives of both sides including
issue of high security zones and their connection to the return to
normalcy has been one on the forefront of the agenda of people of the
north and east and inextricably linked for them with normalcy. At the
same time, the issue is important in security terms for the government,
since it deals with the presence and location of the security forces in
the north and east and accordingly sends messages regarding the
government’s perception of the future of the peace process and its
prospects for success. The government also has to deal with the
constituency in the south that is eager to pounce on any information
that could support its argument that the government is intent on
“handing over” the north and east to the LTTE. That the two sides
have agreed to a joint committee to handle this issue indicates that the
emphasis is on partnership, empathy and understanding. There is no
attempt to treat this issue as a self contained test case of sincerity
and commitment, as far as the process is concerned.
joint task force is in effect an ‘interim, interim’ arrangement, in
advance of an interim arrangement which the two parties and the
Norwegian facilitator now refer to as a “provisional administrative
structure for the north and east.” The task force will comprise of
representatives of all comm-unities.
is very clear that there is a consensus on relief, recon-struction and
development in the north and east as a matter of priority and with the
LTTE as a partner. Dr. Balasingham stressed this in his opening
statement. Furthermore, the consensus also prioritises assistance from
the international community as a confidence building measure and
reinforcement of the peace process. The issue confronting the
international community can be couched in terms of moving away from the
position of ‘doing no harm’ to one of ‘doing good.’ In other
words, a proactive involvement in reinforcing the peace process and in
ensuring its success, rather than one of waiting until the peace process
succeeds before moving to strengthen it.
The Norwegians have been making this point in international fora
and reiterated it at the opening ceremony as well as at the press
the international community has concerns in respect of transparency and
accountability in the disbur-sement of funds and these cannot be
dismissed. Yet, the process in terms of delivery on the basic essentials
and infrastructure for a normal civilian life crucially needs the
assistance of the international community and without it, there is the
risk of the process being retarded through loss of public support and
the same time, there needs to be proper coordination between the various
official government ministries and agencies involved in this process. An
initial question that springs to mind is as to whether the relief,
rehabilitation and reconciliation process comm-enced by the last
government and continued by this one, popularly referred to as the ‘3R
framework’ process, will be abandoned, absorbed or superceded by the
joint task force. There has been TRO representation at 3R meetings, so
joint task force too, will be in the nature of a confidence building
measure and an important indication of the structure and design of the
provisional administrative structure.
What is of special significance is the ‘joint’ nature of it
— it will tie the two protagonists together as partners together with
representatives of other communities and not be the springboard for
especial significance in the overall context of peace building in Sri
Lanka were the remarks made by the LTTE chief negotiator Anton
Balasingham on whether the LTTE’s objective was a separate state and
as to whether interim arrangements would be used by them as a stepping
stone to secession. Critics of the peace process cannot dismiss these
remarks lightly and have to address the new and positive realities.
Whilst they were a reiteration of the LTTE position, what is significant
is the context in which they were made and the occasion on which they
Dr. Balasingham pointed out that the LTTE did not deal in categories and
concepts of secession, but in categories and concepts of homeland and
he acknowledged, had many dimensions including the ultimate right to
secession. He reiterated the LTTE position that secession was a last
resort, in the event oppression continued and there was no settlement
which met the aspirations of the Tamil people including their right to
self-determination and a homeland.
spoke about regional self government and autonomy and in effect was
declaring the LTTE willingness to explore a solution within the
framework of a united Sri Lanka that met the aspirations of the Tamil
people. He repeatedly stressed that the LTTE saw interim arrangements
as part of an organic process of negotiations and not as self contained
arrangements or as the final settlement.
He also pointed out that issues of decomm-issioning and
disarmament would be looked at, once a final agreement was reached.
indicators of commit-ment and seriousness of purpose, his answers were
very positive and should be welcomed and acknowledged as such. Whilst it
cannot be assumed that agreements will come quickly and easily — all
sides have clearly indicated this — the process will not be nurtured
by the persistence of entrenched stereotypes, negativity and suspicion.
At the same time, what happens on the ground, the difference these
deliberations make to the daily lives of the civilians who have suffered
so much, is the ultimate test of the success of the peace process.
It is about words and deeds, and we have made a very positive start.
There is much to build and much to build upon.