self immolation to the murder of innocence
was to be the final hurrah in the Temptation show. The mood was
upbeat, Priyanka Chopra was on stage for the song Le Ja Le Ja (Kabhi
Khushi Kabhi Gham) with star attraction Shah Rukh......
and her Kommis Kaakka
Chandrika Kumara-tunga who has been accusing all and sundry
including the judiciary of corruption has well and......
and corruption reign supreme at BOC
self immolation to the murder of innocence
was to be the final hurrah in the Temptation show. The mood
was upbeat, Priyanka Chopra was on stage for the song Le Ja Le
Ja (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham) with star attraction Shah Rukh
Kahn later recalled.
was to be joined by the two other star performers for the
finale, when an explosion was heard from the open area
separating the stage from the crowd. By then the area about
five meters in length was occupied by eager Khan fans who
wanted a closer look.
after the explosion, some of the performers and most in the
audience thought that the sound was from the fireworks going
off at regular intervals. The performance continued for
several minutes after the blast, but Chopra later said that
she knew something was wrong when she saw fallen bodies near
all of a sudden the lights on the stage and the billboards
were turned off and it was complete darkness. Those in the
back of the audience were left clueless, while some in the
front lay writhing in pain due to injuries. Khan, Chopra and
co. had by then been bundled into vehicles and were speeding
towards the airport. The large screens at the Race Course
grounds started playing pre-recorded videos of the Indian
stars practising, then the public address system said
"show over." The show heralded as the biggest blast
in Sri Lanka came to an abrupt end leaving two youth dead on
the grass and another unborn killed in the mother's womb.
ground was cleared soon afterwards and police, STF and
forensics arrived at the site to commence investigations into
the attack. Eye witnesses said soon after the blast
the location where the grenade had exploded was
cordoned off, but people were still walking all over it.
investigations showed that the grenade had been thrown over
the Rs. 10,000 ticket area and was one used by the military.
Investigators soon recovered the pin, but progress has been
painfully slow ever since.
the outset investigators were working with their backs to the
wall. Head, Colombo Crimes Division (CCD), SSP Sarath Lugoda
who was at the site within minutes of the blast was baffled as
to how a grenade could be smuggled in when 1,500 police and
military police were on duty.
the main stars had been evacuated to the airport, a rattled
dance troupe was still behind the stage when the first
forensic experts commenced examining the crater left by the
explosion was a tragic end to two campaigns that ran parallel.
One to let Khan rock the local crowds, the other to rock the
Khan concert out of its planned date, December 11, the first
death anniversary of Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero.
days before the concert, monk followers of Ven. Soma Thero
converged near the Race Course. They erected a stage of their
own just outside the Race Course and started a protest
campaign urging the organisers to shift the concert date.
initial threat from the monks was that if Khan and co., got on
to the stage on December 11, they would set themselves on
Rukh Khan in all his glory
with a fellow artiste
on the wall - "We will
kill you Shah Rukh"
cannon tries to disperse protestors
protestors break barricades as they march towards the Race
protestor being manhandled
by the police
police barricaded the access roads to the protest and even prevented
journalists from reaching it.
Saturday, December 11 morning, the road barriers had intensified as
had supporters of the protestors who could be seen near the
barriers. They had been set up in a perimeter on the access roads.
was erected near St. Bridget's Convent, others were near Colombo
University and along Bauddhaloka Mawatha. By 10 a.m., 10 hours
before Khan was to set foot on the stage traffic was a nightmare
around the Race Course. Bumper to bumper traffic was clogging the
roads. Inside the vehicles in the sweltering heat, curses were
directed at both the performers as well as the protestors.
mid day, JHU spokesman Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thero arrived at the
protest site. By then the JHU had decided that the party would get
directly involved with the protests. "The protests were started
by some monks who have worked with us in the past. We decided that
we had to get involved since the protests lacked leadership,"
Ven. Ratana Thero said later in the day.
Ratana Thero held discussions with the organisers of the concert who
applogised for holding the concert on that day and confirmed that
Khan would observe two minutes silence before the show.
that assurance the protesting monks stepped down from the stage, and
in double quick time the police dismantled it. The monks and their
supporters thereafter moved towards the Alexandra Place junction
near St. Bridget's. It is here that trouble began.
protestors claim the police attacked them unprovoked, while the
officers of the law said that they tried to breakthrough barriers
and run towards the concert venue. Police used tear gas and water
protestors now separated into two groups were on either side of the
Viharamahadevi Park with police in riot gear staring at them.
Special Task Force (STF) was also inducted as a buffer between the
angry protestors and police. On the Town Hall side of the park the
protestors argued with the STF officers saying that the very people
they had donated blood to had aimed tear gas and water cannons at
them. JHU MP Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thero was hospitalised soon after
the police charge due to tear gas inhalation.
was into this melee that Ven. Ratana Thero drove in. Addressing
protestors near the Town Hall he said that disruptive elements had
infiltrated the protestors. It was clear however that the JHU monks
were finding it difficult to control some of the younger protestors.
"I know that we are being criticised by some of you who are
young. But you have let us take the leadership," Ven. Ratana
Thero appealed to the crowd.
Ratana Thero used to come in the bus and now he comes in a car. He
cannot control us," a feisty monk among the protestors later
told a police officer trying to keep the calm.
the clashes with the police 12 protestors were arrested and the JHU
monk said that their first task was to get them released. The JHU
then held discussions with DIG Sirisena Herath and SSP Premalal
Ranagala from the Colombo Central Police regarding their release.
Ratana Thero also told the crowds to move to the Viharamahadevi Park
premises where a separate programme had been planned to commemorate
Ven. Soma Thero's death. His efforts however did not have the
intended effect with the crowd remaining on the road. He left soon
afterwards promising the protestors that he will back with the 12.
was in his absence that the crowds again became restless. They this
time aimed their wrath at public and private property. Even earlier
while retreating from Alexandara Place they had tried to set fire to
a petrol bowser and attacked a vehicle showroom.
protestors who had spilled over to Dharmapala Mawatha from the
adjoining Sir Marcus Fernando Road by now had stopped a bus
travelling to Kesbewa and attacked it. A passenger in the bus was
injured and hospitalised while the others were saved by the
intervention of the STF.
riot squad which was stationed did not fire this time even after
several rocks were thrown at them. Some among the crowd were hell
bent on getting the police to fire back but fortunately till the
return of Ven. Ratana Thero police held back.
Ratana Thero told the crowd that the JHU had decided to call off the
original protest following the apology and the two minute silence.
However, the party would not disperse the crowds until the 12 in
custody were released.
told the crowds that the JHU would be launching a fresh death fast
campaign in Nugegoda the following day based on four demands, namely
a proper commission to investigate the death of Ven. Soma Thero,
suspending the new online lottery, implementation of the
anti-conversion bill and banning the sale of alcohol at
Ratana Thero however told The Sunday Leader at the site of the
protests that there would be no change in the conditional support
extended by the JHU to the UPFA government. However, Saturday
night's tragedy totally took the focus off the JHU's new protest and
the party was left defending its position in the wake of a public
release of the 12 youth held in the Cinnamon Gardens Police saw the
angry protestors "happily" dispersing, but not before one
supporter ran to the midst of the crowd with his prized possession -
a ticket for the concert. It was just one ticket and the rest of the
crowd while saying it could only permit one person inside, also
maintained that they would have to choose one person to go in.
the protestors went their separate ways with several agitated
bhikkus returning to their scheduled bana sermons, which were
delayed due to the protest.
thought that things were now back on track was not to be.
precisely 11.20 p.m. the news of the grenade attack on the concert
that took the lives of two innocent fans including a two month
pregnant woman, took centre stage.
hell broke lose with the news. The majority of the injured admitted
to hospital were police and other security personnel.
the stars were being escorted to the airport amidst heavy security,
forensics experts, CID and other police personnel kept arriving at
the scene of the crime, baffled as to how anyone could have managed
to carry in a grenade with thousands of security personnel deployed.
police marked the scene of the blast with a yellow tape, but people
had to walk to and from the scene to carry the injured to hospital.
investigations conducted at the site did not provide the police with
any leads to go by, except for the pin of the grenade, which was
taken by the Government Analysts Department to conduct several
CCD, which began the inquiry on the attack and the assailant is yet
to make a breakthrough.
the CCD is continuing with its investigations, the CID too has been
assigned to investigate the attack or rather the external factors
that led to the attack.
the only piece of evidence - the grenade pin - still with the
Government Analyst, according to the police it has left them with
nothing to go on.
CID in a bid to determine the outside elements that lead the attack
began questioning the 12 protestors arrested on the day of the show.
Thursday, the CID had questioned four protestors and planned to
question the others in the coming days.
CID maintains that considering the fact that their investigations
began early last week, they would need more time to comment on the
real progress on the inquiry. Even the state of security on the day
of the concert was an issue and everyone preferred to remain
videotapes from electronic media institutions, the CID began to
watch the video footage of Saturday's protests and the concert to
see if there were any familiar faces at both locations.
have interviewed so many people, but we still do not have any solid
evidence to make any arrests," SSP Lugoda said.
for the security personnel deployed at the venue of the concert last
Saturday, Lugoda observed that he cannot comment on that as his
investigations would only revolve around the attack and the actual
to The Sunday Leader, Deputy Government Analyst Gunatilleke said
that after conducting the preliminary tests, the evidence collected
at the scene of the blast was handed over to the CCD
and it is now up to the CCD to present them to courts.
was two months pregnant"
the post mortem of 25 year old telephone operator from the Taj
Samudra Hotel, Dilani Maheshika Edirisinghe, her grieving
family has confirmed
that she was two months pregnant.
who was recently married had been an ardent fan of Shah Rukh
was determined to go for the show and was so happy when she
received a complimentary ticket at the last moment," said
who is a resident of Ganemulla had been worried
the whole day because she did not have the tickets.
When she received the tickets she had asked her husband Dilan
to join her. But he had been on duty and had told her to go
because she was such a great fan of Shah Rukh Khan.
was an efficient employee and had a smile for everybody. She
did not imagine even in her wildest dreams that the Saturday
night she saw Shah Rukh Khan was going to be her last
night," said a friend in tears.
had been a very creative person, excelling in creative writing
and poetry in her spare time.
husband had promised to come and pick her up after the show,
but just as the show drew to a close, Dilani Maheshika
Edirisinghe was gone forever.
Rukh's SMS to Arjuna
arriving at the Mumbai Airport at 3 a.m., Shah Rukh Khan sent
a text message to Arjuna Ranatunga, which read: "Thanks
for everything.Don't take this personally..We share in this
grief..and the Lankan hospitality is etched in our
hearts..Sorry had to leave like this. But give my love to all.
camera was blocked
camera belonging to Lanka Jayasundera had been 'blocked' and
he did not have a camera to take for the show.
only the camera, he was not even assigned to cover the show,
but he badly wanted to go," said a superior. But Lanka
Jayasundera had no camera and no ticket. Somehow fate pushed
him to acquire both. "We do not know how he got into the
place," said a colleague.
he told me that he wanted to go for the show, I warned him to
be careful and not to go near the stage. He was such a keen
learner. He always wanted to know how to take some picture or
the day of the show, Lanka had been with other photographers
and had told them "Mama poddak issarahata yanawa" (I
will move forward a little bit) and then gone towards the
Jayasundera from Hakmana was 21 years of age. He had been a
keen photo journalist who had a determination to reach greater
his home in Hakmana his mother and sisters waited for him to
come home for the weekend as he usually did. But this weekend
Lanka Jayasundera went home in a coffin.
smoke on a colourful night
11 was a date to remember; for it was a day when fans saw
their hero Shah Rukh Khan in flesh and blood. But the
unexpected happened and they got to see blood during a
man whom Time magazine claims is popular enough to 'start a
religion' was shocked beyond belief here in Sri Lanka when his
show became the stage for an angry outburst by an unknown
before Shah Rukh Khan appeared on the gigantic open air stage
on November 11, fans began to chant "Shah Rukh! Shah Rukh!
Shah Rukh!" in a frenzy. The show, which was scheduled to
commence at 7 p.m. was taking too long. It was 8 p.m. and the
stage was empty. Fans read Shah Rukh Khan into everything -
the helicopter flying over, they imagined, carried Shah Rukh
Khan, the shadows on the dark stage they imagined were Shah
Rukh Khan, but in reality, they were only the cleaning men
preparing for the show.
fans had to go through two check points, one at the main
entrance, and the other at the entrance to the grounds.
Military men in camouflaged gear added a sense of importance
to the event and the security men clad in black uniforms were
easily mistaken for some special task force.
did not search the VIPs and the Rs. 10,000 patrons but some
others were frisked and searched.
delay in commencing the show sent fans to the soft drinks
stands. Some anxious fans in the absence of Shah Rukh Khan
resorted to comfort eating.
was a sudden silence as Shah Rukh Khan's voice lulled the
restless audience. His words were apologetic, he spoke of the
revered Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero and requested the audience
to pay respect to him by observing a few minutes of silence.
It brought about
a sense of goodwill and respect in the minds of the
audience about the
when the show began it was not Shah Rukh Khan who came on
themes had lust and love among them and the scantily dressed
women dancing to the sounds emanating from the massive
speakers took the audience to a world beyond.
Zinta and starry eyed Priyanka Chopra coupled with the sexy
Saif Ali Khan gave life to the theme titled lust.
show raged on, with glitter and glamour. But there was no
applause like that for Shah Rukh Khan. His appearance, clad in
white, initially facing back stage, sent the audience into
raptures - the girls were crying, some of them holding their
Shah Rukh Khan was seen driven around in an open vehicle and
fans screamed at the mere shadow of him falling over them. In
his white open sleeved T-shirt, it was not so much Shah Rukh's
glistening muscles that the audience was interested in, but a
glimpse of him.
Shah Rukh sprung back to stage again. The beautiful fireworks
continued to light the skies and the sparks came from Shah
Rukh Khan on stage. As he broke into a popular song from the
film Khabi Kushi Khabi Gham, there came another sound, nobody
cared. Everybody mistook it for a fireworks display or part of
the sounds of the show.
the sound came from near the corner of the stage where Shah
Rukh was performing and just then members of the audience saw
other fans fallen down. Some felt a wetness in their limbs,
and in the darkness of the night, from the glittering lights
on stage they discovered that it was their own blood, the
horror was confirmed as the ecstasy was overtaken with hurt
children who were standing on chairs to reach out to the
height of the adults to view Shah Rukh Khan were badly hit.
Pieces of shrapnel pieced through them and real Sri Lankan
sounds as "Budu Nangiye, Budu Puthe," began to
pierce the skies. It was then that the lights were turned off
and a shocked Shah Rukh Khan taken away from the stage.
fans tried to push barriers and get away from the scene, while
the plastic chairs were overturned in the stampede that ensued
to get out of the race course grounds. In a bid to get out of
the grounds, people forgot to help those who had fallen down.
It was the security men who went up to the fallen fans and
discovered that they were dead.
JHU says sorry
mega show Temptations 2004 concluded with a tragic end and
trading of insults - with the government accusing the JHU of
instigating mob attacks during the show and the JHU in return
alleging the state of attempts to discredit the all-bhikku
party and its failure to provide adequate security to the
the grenade attack, the state media reported ad nauseam about
the presence of two leading JHU monks near the Race Course
grounds where the Chinthana Foundation - a pro-Ven.
Gangodawila Soma Thero organisation held a fast unto death.
to the state media broadcast allegations that Vice President,
JHU, Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thero and Spokesman, JHU, Ven.
Athuraliye Ratana Thero were instigating people to attack the
evening show, Ven. Sobitha Thero said that it was the worst
possible excuse that a government which dismally failed to
maintain law and order could come up with to cover up its own
any attempts to provoke people "who were already
enraged" due to the bad date chosen for the show, the
Thero also disassociated the JHU with the monk group involved
in the fast unto death.
Thero told The Sunday Leader that the JHU members were
instrumental only in attempting to amicably settle the issue
and prevent bloodshed which sadly could not be prevented due
to police action.
is due to our appeal that the fast was called off. That is
something the law enforcement authorities together with the
government should have done but failed to do. For doing what
they should have done, eventually we were labelled the
spoilers of the show," the Thero added.
the scholastic monk who originally denounced the show for the
promotion of "ragaya, kamaya and surawa" on the day
Ven. Soma Thero passed away, said that the protesting that
claimed two lives and injured 16 people was not geared towards
insulting the artistes or to spoil Indo-Lanka relations.
a letter extending JHU's apologies to India's High
Commissioner in Colombo, Nirupama Rao on December 16 for the
ugly incidents, the Thero has stated that the arrival of
Indian artistes was viewed by his party as a visit by an
Indian cultural group in furtherance of cultural ties
established centuries ago and this certainly was not the
welcome Sri Lanka intended to extend to some of India's finest
felt ashamed to call myself a Sri Lankan"
a significant role in assisting the injured to be taken to
hospitals and getting the Indian artistes out of the venue on
the fateful night was Deputy Industries, Tourism and
Investment Promotion Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, a personal
friend of Shah Rukh Khan. In fact, he believes that fate was
kind and saved him from the grenade attack, as Ritu Shastri an
Indian organiser of the show who walked a few paces ahead of
him was injured in the grenade attack.
went to speak to her and we were walking back to our seats. I
slowed down to answer a telephone call. Ritu walked ahead and
there she was, terrified and injured before my eyes," he
felt so ashamed to be a Sri Lankan that night. The insult to
the artistes and the destruction to life appeared so
calculated to bring this country to disrepute.
used to be a peaceful nation, but we have hit an all time low
in human quality. Shah Rukh and others are simply artistes who
arrived here to entertain. They are not violent people or
politicians," he said, sounding shocked.
also showed a saved text message from Khan to him and said the
investigations should be facilitated to the maximum to prevent
explained that the Tourist Board did not spend money on the
show but the publicity the show generated was worth over Rs.
would love to extend an invitation for a second show - a
different show sans bloodletting to show what Sri Lankan
hospitality is all about," he added.
for the perpetrators themselves, Ranatunga feels that the
parties could range from unhappy politicians to disgruntled
organisers of previous shows who failed to get Khan
emphasising that whoever who did it, certainly had no love for
rotten egg won't change our plans for Sri Lanka"
Sri Lanka face a barren period of international entertainment
with foreign artistes boycotting the island following the
grenade attack at the Shah Rukh Khan concert? Well the
organisers of Temptations 2004 that featured Shah Rukh Khan
President, Showdiff Worldwide, Jayvear Panvar Singh, the
Indian entertainment company that organised the concert say
the "unfortunate" ending of the musical concert was
an "isolated incident."
rotten egg cannot spoil our plans for Sri Lanka," said
Singh to The Sunday Leader. "We love Sri Lanka and will
continue to bring down international acts in the future as
well," Singh added. He also said that even Shah Rukh Khan
and the rest of the Bollywood stars who accompanied him to Sri
Lanka would come back if the opportunity arises.
was also responsible for bringing down Bryan Adams and Micheal
Learns To Rock to Sri Lanka this year. The entertainment
company is headed by former Indian cricketer Ravi Shastri
who's wife was among those injured in the attack at the Race
Course grounds in Colombo.
Singh says the company is sad and concerned for those affected
by the grenade attack and that nobody expected the unfortunate
incident to take place within the grounds.
a classic case of passing the buck
Tourism Ministry steadfastly maintained it had no involvement
with the show naming the Tourist Board - an institution
nevertheless coming under its purview as the key player. The
Ministry officially declined any responsibility in putting the
show together despite Deputy Minister, Arjuna Ranatunga - a
friend of Shah Rukh Khan gracing the occasion and being
instrumental in handing out many official invitations.
"key player," the Ceylon Tourist Board (CTB) too has
declined responsibility for organising the show, confining its
role to "facilitation."
word 'facilitation' has been given new meaning by the board
which, according to inside sources was instrumental in getting
"all matters" organised to welcome the stars ranging
from making hotel reservations, flight arrangements to co-ordinating
publicity campaigns etc., despite shying away from being
labelled as key organiser.
Chairman, Udaya Nanayakkara on Thursday morning said that he
had spoken to the Editor of The Sunday Leader and explained
his involvement with the show and had no wish to explain
matters any further.
invitation to Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage, according to
highly placed sources was extended in May.
has gone on record that the board would always facilitate
entertainment programmes of this nature as it helps boost the
however added that facilitation did not mean that the board
played the role of organiser.
let the grenade in?
there enough security for the Shah Rukh Khan concert? Were all
the fans checked? How was a grenade slipped in to the grounds?
These are some of the questions the general public are asking
after the grenade attack at the Colombo Race Course grounds
concert on the 11th.
Public Security, Law and Order Ministry, Thilak Ranaviraja
says there was a serious lapse in security at the concert
specially when taking into consideration the incidents that
led up to the concert. Vice President, Showdiff Worldwide,
Jayvear Panvar Singh speaking to The Sunday Leader said that a
private security firm was entrusted with the security within
the grounds while the police was handling security on the
outer perimeter of the ground.
most people were checked before they entered the grounds there
were many who were not. One female fan who went around 6 p.m.
to the Rs. 5,000 section said that she was body checked by a
female officer. However, a male fan who went around 8.15 p.m.
to the Rs. 2,500 section with a few friends said he was not
checked except for his ticket.
could easily have taken in a bomb if I wanted to," he
said. So who's responsibility was it to check everyone
entering the ground? The chairman of the private security
Guard handling security within the grounds said it was not
their responsibility. Nishantha Senathipathi said that the
organisers had asked him to check the tickets of the fans
entering the ground, ensure they do not jump from section to
section and prevent them from embarking on the stage.
had around 100 security personnel in place inside the ground
and we had no authority to body check anyone. We stuck to the
duty entrusted to us," he said. Senathipathi said that
there were a number of police and STF officers within and
outside the ground to handle the body checks.
Range DIG H. M. S. Herath said that approximately 3,000 police
and MSD personnel were on duty within and outside the Race
Course ground on that eventful day. He said that there was no
way anyone could have slipped inside the premises through the
fence prior to the start or during the concert as there was
tight security in place around the perimeter of the ground.
the security lapse seemed to have been at the gates. DIG
Special Protection Range S. A. D. B. R Solangarachi told The
Sunday Leader that although the private security firm had no
right to body check anyone they were requested by the
organisers to assist the police to check everyone entering the
ground. But he shied away from taking the responsibility for a
grenade entering the premises saying his main duty was the
personal security of the Indian artistes which he noted was
he did say as there was a delay to open the gates following
the clashes that took place at Town Hall that evening there
was a tight rush when the gates were eventually opened.
"Nearly 20,000 fans were rushing in and the officers at
the just could not check everyone," said Solangarachi.
"During the rush it was possible for someone to slip in a
grenade," he noted.
if he was happy with the security arrangements and how he
thought the grenade may have been slipped in Showdiff Vice
President Jayvear Panvar said that he did not wish to comment
on that as an investigation was underway.
wait till the investigations are over before we point
fingers," he concluded.
By Amantha Perera, Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Easwaran Rutnam, Mandana
Ismail Abeywickrema And Ranee Mohamed
and her Kommis Kaakka
Peiris and Document incriminating Ronnie Peiris in the golf
Chandrika Kumara-tunga who has been accusing all and sundry
including the judiciary of corruption has well and truly blotted her
own copybook having backed to the hilt one of her cronies to pick up
big bucks in a billion rupee project. If ever there was a case book
study of the pot calling the kettle black this is it.
investigation found documents belonging to the Urban Development
Authority (UDA) which clearly reveal Ronnie Peiris's involvement in
the golf course project at Battaramulla. This is despite the fact
the Ronnie Peiris never at any stage was a director or shareholder
of the investor company.
August 2001, deeds of rectification signed between the UDA and Asia
Pacific Golf Course (APGC) state in black and white that APGC's
representatives/coordinators who were present at this signing
ceremony included Shantha Wijeysinghe, Siva Selvaratnam and Ronnie
Peiris. Wijeysinghe and Selvaratnam at the time were shareholders
and directors of APGC but not Peiris.
signing of the Deed of Rectification at which Ronnie Peiris was also
present took place on August 9, 2001. Deed of Rectification No. 821
attested by S. Jayamaha, Notary Public on this occasion released to
APGC Lots one, two, three, four and six in Plan No. 1456 dated
12.03.1999 made by Licenced Surveyor, Tudor Siriwardena. All the 'licenced
property' was to be used for flood detention arrangements with
compatible uses including a public playground, nature parks, access
roads and food centre.
this signing ceremony the UDA handed over vacant physical possession
of the land to APGC in August 22, 2001. The UDA Chairman at the time
was Dr. C. K. M. Deheragoda.
have consistently maintained that Ronnie Peiris, a close friend and
confidant of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, has been involved in
this project from its very inception. And that in fact it is due to
this involvement that Kumaratunga has now called a halt on this
project after APGC changed hands and Chief, Access Holdings, Sumal
Perera took control. A dispute over an additional commission to
Peiris is what has led to Kumaratunga cancelling this deal.
Peiris figured prominently during the entire period that this
project was being mooted and sealed when the directors and
shareholders of APGC were Shantha and Susan Wijeysinghe, Siva and
Suwaneetha Selvaratnam. At the time Peiris picked up a multi million
rupee commission to the tune of Rs. 30 million for having served as
broker securing necessary approvals from the President to release
136 acres of state land to APGC. This was later increased to a total
of 225 acres.
prove that in January 2002 as well, Peiris was present together with
the UDA and other representatives including Shantha Wijeysinghe and
Siva Selvaratnam when the final drainage plan and project approval
were obtained from the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development
Corporation (SLLR and DC).
Sumal Perera entered the scene paying a massive Rs. 143 million to
Wijeysinghe and Selvaratnam for their total share in the company.
They have reportedly paid Peiris 40% of the Rs. 143 million received
from Access by cheque in installment.
Selvaratnam and Wijeysinghe are expected to soon go on record
detailing Ronnie Peiris's involvement in this deal and the
commissions he picked up as a result.
Access Holdings took over the project, Sumal Perera has invested an
estimated Rs. 1 billion to develop and construct an 18 hole-golf
course plus high rise apartments, clubs, public theme park and
invested in this project in January 2002, Access Holdings took on
the responsibility of meeting the BOI target investment of Rs. 1.5
billion within five years. As to date the total project cost is
close to Rs. 1.8 billion.
the time Kumaratunga stepped in and abruptly ordered the project be
halted, Access Holdings had completed 85% of canal excavation, 50%
of lake and upstream pond excavation, 75% of overall improvement of
water retention areas, 60% of the establishment of an 18 hole golf
course and 65% building a perimeter fence demarcating UDA land.
work had commenced in August this year to construct a public theme
park as well as cricket and football grounds. The opening of the
club and nine hole golf course was completed by end November, this
year. Approximately 78 agreements have already been signed by the
UDA to transfer freehold titles to buyers of land and villas.
report by the UDA on the current status of the project maintains
that the current construction work complies fully with the main EIA
report as only buildings approved in the EIA have been constructed.
The UDA asserted there is no violation of the permitted fill area
and that SLLR and DC approval was obtained to fill the land for the
villas by reducing an equal volume of fill. The UDA is still the
project proponent although the project approving agency which was
originally the Housing, Construction and Public Utilities Ministry
and its successors has now changed to the Central Environmental
two public figures involved in this deal from its inception in 1997
have been President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mangala Samaraweera.
Behind the scenes, Ronnie Peiris has played a pivotal role. A fact,
for which there is now documentary evidence.
we have no objection to state land being alienated in a transparent
manner to genuine investors, it is needless to say, a totally
unacceptable and corrupt practice to alienate land to personal
friends so that they could in turn sell it to genuine investors at a
huge premium. As has been so is this case.
Diyawanna Oya golf course deal brokered by Ronnie Peiris revealed
that the promoters sold their Rs. 15 million share for Rs. 143
million giving them an 853% return on their original investment.
is the President and Mangala Samaraweera who pushed for and secured
all necessary approvals in order to ensure this project was handed
over to Asia Pacific Golf Course Limited, of which the Selvaratnams
and Wijesinghes were directors and shareholders until January this
year. Ronnie Peiris has openly spoken of his involvement in
spearheading this initiative. Not only had Peiris spoken of his
involvement but recently complained bitterly that Access Holdings
had cheated him.
is in this backdrop that despite having officially mooted this
project in 1998, and consistently defended its cause, President
Chandrika Kumaratunga suddenly in July this year attempted to cancel
agreements with Asia Pacific Golf Course Limited.
the available documentation it is clear that President Kumaratunga
by her cabinet paper of July 28, this year, not only lied and misled
cabinet, but has succeeded in getting the entire cabinet of
ministers including the JVP, to take responsibility for an act which
is illegal. Kumaratunga's attempt to cease all activities in
connection with this project is against legal advice from none other
than the Attorney General himself. In addition, Presidents Counsel,
H. L. De Silva has also given an expert opinion expressing detailed
observations on the illegality of the President's attempt.
the truth will out on the reasons as to why Kumaratunga has now
decided to cancel agreements with APGCL it is indeed a sad
indictment on Sri Lanka that a head of state for her own selfish and
corrupt reasons is not only capable of distorting the truth but we
also have a cabinet of ministers including the JVP who will
willingly rubber stamp such illegal and unlawful actions for the
sole reason of assisting a Presidential crony - Ronnie Peiris.
and corruption reign supreme at BOC
scale fraud and corruption within the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) has
forced the bank to shoulder multi million rupee losses. An
amazing lack of foresight by senior bank managers approving
multi million rupee overdrafts with little or no security has
resulted in massive financial losses to the bank.
find that senior managers employed at the BOC have been
dispensing funds as loans to private companies in the most
lenient terms allowing cunning borrowers to escape having
defrauded the bank for millions of rupees.
this while the Credit Information Bureau (CRIB) does
absolutely nothing to blacklist borrowers of this nature.
Instead, they continue to function as company directors and
chief executive officers.
classic example is where the BOC is currently being forced to
shoulder a massive debt amounting to Rs. 247 million after its
Metro Branch granted an overdraft of Rs. 240 million to Page
Electronics (Pvt) Ltd., and it's Chief Executive Officer,
Christopher Frances Peries.
has been found that the monies were approved to help
part-finance a government project but have been used instead
to secure a huge life insurance policy for Peries.
- A tower of corruption
overdraft was approved by the bank after Peries had met with the
Assistant General Manager, BOC Metro Branch, P. S. Kulatunga and
informed him that the company had recently been awarded a tender on
electrical work for low cost houses to re-settle displaced families
in the north. Peries had produced a letter to this effect from the
Rehabilitation and Re-settlement Ministry. Even the authenticity of
this letter is now under question.
August 29, 2003, Peries faxed a letter to the bank requesting an
overdraft of Rs. 240 million for which he attached a letter of
guarantee issued by the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) for
Rs. 250 million. He stated the facility would be used for financing
electrical installation on low cost houses in the Northern Province.
a result, on September 9, 2003, Kulatunga presented a memorandum to
the general manager seeking approval for granting a facility of Rs.
240 million to Page Electronics.
September 17, 2003, the bank's credit committee approved the
facility asserting that the letter of guarantee issued by the SLIC
on receiving oral instructions from the bank's former Deputy General
Manager, Corporate and Offshore Banking, N. V. Moorthy, the Metro
Branch issued cheques to Page Electronics amounting to Rs. 4.9
million. This was done before security documentation for the loan
facility had even been completed. Moorthy has since been promoted
and is presently DGM, Finance and Planning at the BOC.
September 15, 2003, Kulatunga, once again acting on Moorthy's
instructions told credit officers to feed into the computer and
overdraft limit up to Rs. 240 million to the current account of Page
Electronics bearing number 0618-02-0002981-3.
on September 24, 2003, four cheques were presented for payment
through the clearing system. They amounted to a total of Rs.
200,000,000. The BOC Union branch collected all these cheques on
behalf of the SLIC to their account number 430002003029.
has now transpired is that Page Electronics and Christopher Peries
while maintaining Rs. 240 million was required to finance the
setting up of electrical installations for low cost houses in the
north, in fact used the monies to pay a lump sum life insurance
premium to the SLIC.
cheques amounting to Rs. 200,000,000 were paid to the SLIC having
been issued by the bank. On September 15, 2003, three cheques were
issued bearing numbers, 999052, 999053 and 999054. The cheques were
written for Rs. 125,000,000, Rs. 25,000,000 and Rs. 38,000,000
respectively. On September 29, 2003, a fourth cheque for Rs. 12
million was written bearing no. 999058.
this time, on September 23, 2003 the SLIC had issued a life policy
bearing no. 1253249 to the tune of Rs. 304 million on maturity with
an immediate surrender value of Rs. 50 million instantly to
Christopher Peries. No further payment was required and the policy
carried up to maturity with an accrued interest on the lump sum of
Rs. 200 million.
bank possesses only the surrender value of an assigned portion of
this life insurance policy of Rs. 304 million as security.
the BOC in December last year issued an International Credit Card
(Master Card No. 517661200000-2989) to Christopher Peries to the
tune of Rs. 1 million.
present position is this. Peries owes the BOC a total of Rs. 331
million. The SLIC meantime has disclaimed all responsibility on the
letter of guarantee claiming they never issued such a letter in the
when contacted would only say, "We are not supposed to divulge
information regarding our clients."
can now well take cover for his actions behind a confidentiality
clause. But the fact of the matter is this. Insiders who requested
anonymity maintain the BOC will be forced to write-off this debt.
Christopher Peries was unavailable for comment. The Sunday Leader
was told he is presently overseas.
if this is not bad enough there is worse. Unable to muzzle corrupt
individuals within the bank, the bank also has to bear other massive
losses amounting to millions of rupees. During the year 1989 senior
managers at the bank's Metro Branch granted with little or no
security loans to Black Tea Ltd., to the tune of Rs. 84 million, to
Endev Apparels Ltd., Rs. 93 million and to Mahinda Offset Printers
Ltd., Rs. 125 million. To date these loans have not been recovered
and it is alleged that steps are currently underway to write these
off as bad debts from the books of the bank.
the BOC has had to also bear a loss amounting to 2.2 million
Auditor General's Department in August this year finalised a damning
report on the disposal of the BOC building in London in September
2003, which has resulted in a multi million pound loss.
report observes that "the persons who were involved in this
transaction have cheated the bank on a large scale." The
transaction took place during the tenure of former Chairperson, BOC,
Sumi Moonesinghe and the current General Manager S. N. P. Palihena.
the Auditor General's report the Parliamentary Committee on Public
Enterprises (COPE) summoned the present management of the BOC on
November 30, 2004. COPE questioned the management in detail about
the leasehold rights of the BOC premises of No. 22-24 City Road,
London obtained in September 2003 under dubious circumstances.
Sunday Leader has previously carried in detail the purchase and sale
of this property having conducted a full investigation. Our report
has been confirmed by that of the Auditor General who has only
further validated our findings.
BOC purchased this property in November 1986 for a remaining lease
period of 235 years. Its purchase price has been shown in the
accounts at Rs. 79,150,225 (E 1,945,703). However, a telex message
from the then chief manager of the London branch sent to the General
Manager, BOC states that the actual purchase price amounted to Rs.
89,494,900. Accordingly, the value of the property had been
understated in the accounts by Rs. 10,344,675.
to data of the BOC, London Branch, losses had been incurred relating
to the transactions of the above lease property in every year up to
2002 except the years 1997 and 1998. As a result, the bank branch
had been shifted in 1996 to the premises purchased for the bank to
No. 1 at Devonshire. Even though the lease property had resulted in
losses continuously, the decision for its sale had been taken only
an agreement had been entered into with a company for this purpose
only in June 2001. The space utilised by the bank branch had not
been used for the purpose of earning an income from the date of
shifting up to the date of sale of the property.
report by the Auditor General states that the bank had failed to
submit evidence to prove that they had taken an initiative to sell
the property through other avenues such as the national press,
auctions and home estate agents. Instead, they had entrusted it to a
private company called G. V. A. Grimly International.
property was sold for 200,000 sterling pounds less than the market
value of 600,000 sterling pounds. Thus resulting in a loss to the
BOC of Rs. 65.3 million which has been written off by the bank to
its profit and loss account for 2003.
was subsequently revealed that the company which purchased this
property for 200,000 sterling pounds in a matter of one and a half
months sold it for its true market value for 615,000 sterling
pounds. Thus the company made an instant profit of 415,000 sterling
Auditor General in his report has noted that the operation of the
sale activity of this property had been entrusted to a non-national
employee recruited on a contract basis as chief financial officer.
The board of directors at the bank he asserts had granted approval
for such an officer serving on a temporary basis to deal with this
transaction which "can have a large impact on the finances of
a non national chief financial Officer he does not appear to have
considered the other options which were available to the bank such
as redeeming the lease to the owner, or sale of the freehold of the
building with the consent of the freeholder which would have been
beneficial to the bank.