the needy or making hay?
By Frederica Jansz
Granted, the United Nations (UN) and
its partner organisations rose to the occasion and moved
personnel out to tsunami affected areas in double quick time
to assist in every possible way, the affected. They pulled out
the dead, consoled the weeping and.....
Heroic saga of an eastern warrior
moves to restructure state banks
Patriotic son of the eastern soil
ambushed in east by Tamil National Force
you America, says JVP Leader
the needy or making hay?
off the tsunami?
By Frederica Jansz
Granted, the United Nations (UN) and
its partner organisations rose to the occasion and moved
personnel out to tsunami affected areas in double quick time
to assist in every possible way, the affected. They pulled out
the dead, consoled the weeping and fed and clothed the needy.
All this while the government task forces bumbled and botched
even a lame attempt at providing relief, failing to step foot
into a fisherman's devastated abode and gather first hand,
information on what was needed where.
But what has to be probed at this
juncture is this. Are UN officials, aid workers, experts,
whatever the official terminology is, in reality profiteering
off the tsunami? Our investigation today highlights, that
indeed this is the case.
Making a profit
The two decade long war in Sri Lanka
provided fertile ground for individuals donning the mantle of
the UN to come reside in Sri Lanka and make good, profiting in
no small way as a result of this country's blood and tears.
The tsunami is one more example of having provided another
Sri Lanka is woefully reluctant to
reign in members of the UN. Struggling as she does, gagged at an
economic level, she continues to bow and scrape to the UN and its
partner organisations grateful for the tit bits that are thrown her
And this attitude of servility has been
more than enhanced in the aftermath of the tsunami. The UN, at least
those based in Sri Lanka, since the tsunami, have grown in stature,
in the backdrop of a battered nation, slapping the hand of
government, if ever perceived to cross their path of might.
But it is time Sri Lanka insists that
the UN and its partner organisations stand accountable in the
backdrop of having lobbied for a massive US$ 166.9 million or Rs. 16
billion as a summary requirement for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of
the 2004 tsunami.
The question that arises is how much of
this aid will effectively reach the tsunami affected areas and
victims. A question that four UN officials could not answer when
contacted by us. Even more intriguing was their fear of being named.
These senior officials claimed they are
unaware of the percentages involved when funds are sought and
distributed by the UN and its partner organisations. A simple
question of what guidelines are followed when distributing funds
could not be answered without them stumbling and cloaking their
replies with a load of technical jargon that is not worth printing.
The issue is this. Rs. 16 billion hangs
in the balance. Surely how these monies are to be distributed to the
affected must be of prime concern to all members of the UN?
Amazingly though, we found, the matter is not top priority.
Disgusted insiders within the UN
system, tell us that on an average the UN will channel only an
estimated 30% of the total amount towards field assistance for the
affected. A massive 70% of the total is fed back into the various
organisational bodies to pay for "expatriate, technical and
This would then mean that at a rough
calculation out of a total of US$ 167 million, or Rs. 16 billion
which the UN has pledged for Sri Lanka after the tsunami, a massive
US$ 116.9 million will be used for remuneration packages including
allowances to feed and house expatriate aid workers arriving in the
country to "assist" tsunami victims and tsunami affected
areas. Only a paltry US$ 50 million of this total amount will in
reality be channeled towards aid assistance.
We make this presumption since nobody
within the UN appeared to be in a position to clearly state
otherwise when questioned. What they did say was looking at it
optimistically at the most, 50% of the aid pledged would reach the
affected. But they could not clarify or confirm if indeed this would
be the case.
The UN in its flash appeal soon after
the tsunami requested US$ 166,936,146 to provide urgent assistance
to the Sri Lankan people for a period of six months in order they
stated, to "save lives, alleviate suffering and begin the
process of restoring livelihoods."
What has to be assessed in the backdrop
of this appeal and its stated requirements is a breakdown of the
different sections for which the UN has sought and been pledged a
massive US$ 166.9 million dollars.
For instance, a senior human rights
activist who requested anonymity asked, why the UN and its partner
organisations require US$ 21,159,491 for "coordination and
support services?" What exactly this entails is a mystery as
the document outlining the needs for Sri Lanka submitted by the UN
bodies does not specify to what purpose this huge amount of monies
will be utilised in the tsunami affected areas.
And when we spoke to officials at the
UNDP they claimed they did not have a clue what exactly this meant.
This would then mean that a massive Rs. 2,000 million (US$
21,159,491) pledged as aid to Sri Lanka is to be distributed for
support and coordination services, which would constitute of
reimbursement packages and other allowances for a couple hundred or
more expatriate workers attached to the UN. How much of these funds
will in reality reach tsunami affected areas is a question that
nobody within the UN system was able to answer despite our repeated
Even Head, UNDP, Miguel Bermeo said he
did not know. Of course, Bermeo is a busy man and obviously the
subject has been delegated elsewhere. But, given that in total the
UN and its partner organisations have been pledged Rs. 16 billion as
aid for the tsunami affected in Sri Lanka it begs the question how
much of this money is to be distributed in a transparent manner and
how much will in reality reach the affected.
Bermeo, suggested we speak with
Valentine Gatzinski, after our numerous attempts at seeking a
clarification from other UN officials failed. Gatzinski is head,
Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sri Lanka. But even
he, we were told required time, saying he would need to consult with
others before being in a position to explain.
The UN document which lobbied for these
monies states among its many objectives under a particular sub title
"capacity building" that there is an urgent need to
rapidly restore the capacities of local NGOs, community based
organisations and local governments whose facilities and operations
have been adversely impacted by the tsunami. That a total exceeding
Rs. 2,000 million is required to do this is absolutely ludicrous to
say the least. And this opinion was expressed by a leading rights
activist who asked he not be named as it would complicate his work
in the country.
His comments were somewhat corroborated
also by Secretary, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
Ministry, M. S. Jayasinghe, when we asked him if he had any idea how
US$ 21.1 million or Rs. 2,000 million would be used to capacity
network at a local government level. He replied, "I don't have
a clue as to what this means - we were never consulted and I have
yet to even see a proposal from any UN agency to this effect."
This same UN flash appeal all in the
name of the tsunami, has also sought and been promised another US$
4,232,000 for "Mine Action."
The UN has asked for as part of tsunami
financial assistance US$ 4.2 million for mine action. They maintain
that this money is needed to reduce the risk posed by landmines and
unexploded ordnance in the affected areas as a result of the
disaster. That these monies are also required to enable safe relief,
rehabilitation and resettlement of affected areas.
Further, to raise awareness of how to
cope with changes in the threat of landmines and "to clear as
many high and medium priority mine fields as possible in coastal
areas and those prone to flooding before the next seasonal
The point is this. The tsunami hardly
affected the mine fields. The Relief, Rehabilitation and
Reconstruction Ministry in fact said as much in a press release in
the weeks following the tsunami.
Senior Advisor and Secretary, National
Steering Committee, Mine Action, Dr. A. S. Kunasingham also
reiterated, "The tsunami did not dislodge many mines. An issue
in this context does not even arise. The fact is the tsunami
disaster does not in anyway pose a mine threat to rescue workers and
Contrary to the stated UN objectives,
Dr. Kunasingham maintains that finances are needed for clearing
purposes and for de-mining teams to be expanded so as to keep to the
target date of a mine free Sri Lanka by the year 2006. The UN, Dr.
Kunasingham asserted is seeking monies in the aftermath of the
tsunami for mine coordination work which he asserted are not needed.
The flash appeal also asks for US$
4,942,000 for "Multi-Sector." And another massive US$
5,634,000 for protection/human rights/rule of law. Nobody at the
UNDP including Bermeo, could explain what exactly Multi Sector
meant. Or, how exactly US$ 5.6 million would be used for
'protection, human rights and the rule of law.'
It is indeed curious as to why the UN
has specified the sector 'rule of law' as requiring money in the
aftermath of the tsunami as funds for a project titled "Access
to Justice" has already been allocated to the UN and is to be
utilised to help propagate the rule of law.
The document states in relation to
'protection' for which that the UN intends, "to provide
protection to vulnerable individuals who have been displaced; to
provide psychosocial support to affected women and children; to
assist in the reunification of unaccompanied children who have been
separated from their families due to the tsunami and to provide
information and services to women and girls on sexual and gender
based violence." All this, according to the document for a
period, spanning six months.
Executive Director, Consortium of
Humanitarian Agencies, Jeevan Thiyagarajah was careful in his
comments on the UN appeal, but nevertheless made the point saying,
"The request of the UN should be taken in the larger context of
relief and rehabilitation and that should be viewed in the context
of all the resources earmarked by all the international agencies. So
I think the request of the UN as well as the plans of the
international aid agencies should be harmonised. It should be
matched against the needs and looked at in the context of the
totality of all these activities."
Meaning, organisations should not be
allowed to raise funds independent of each other but coordinate
financial resources. This perhaps would help maintain a more
transparent degree of accountability while limiting to a great
degree an overlap of services.
It is vitally important that Sri Lanka
restrains herself from being overwhelmed by the number of expatriate
aid workers in the country. None of them, at least none of those
attached to any single UN agency are here offering their services
free of charge, or for that matter for a nominal fee.
Apart from drawing a monthly
remuneration package to the tune of US$ 8,000 to US$ 10,000, UN aid
workers are also paid what is called a daily subsistence allowance (DSA)
which is Rs. 7,000 if outstation and Rs. 12,000 if in Colombo. The
DSA is separate to rental and hotel accommodation bills.
Expatriate workers are entitled to a
DSA depending on where their base station is. We reliably learn that
some of these "UN expatriate experts" draw a DSA even when
not entitled to nominate their base station out of Colombo. Or, they
deliberately change their base stations in order to draw a higher
DSA by being stationed in Colombo. There have been instances where
DSAs were drawn by some UN aid workers despite having no fixed based
Sources at the External Resources
Department said that even Director T. H. Sugathadasa has been
informed of this scam.
A senior official placed the whole UN
flash appeal in a nutshell. "Miguel Bermeo is genuine enough
and very sincere - but the rest of his team is a runaway
And that is the ground situation in a
nutshell where the UN and its partner organisations in Sri Lanka are
aid for Sri Lanka
The UN flash appeal for aid to Sri
Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami.
Coordination and Support Services
Economic Recovery and Infra-structure
Family Shelter and Non-Food Items
Protection/Human Rights/Rule of Law
Water and Sanitation
More evidence has surfaced implicating
Minister Rohitha Bogollagama as having been responsible for the loss
of Rs. 65 million at Kahatagaha Graphite Mines during his tenure as
Last week we spotlighted how an
investigation carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department
(CID) has concluded that the Minister and former Chairman,
Kahatagaha, Dhammika Gamarachchi also stand accountable for a
criminal breach of trust.
Interestingly, Bogollagama crossed from
the United National Front (UNF) to the ranks of the present
government no sooner the CID had handed over its file to the
(AG's) Department for advice on how the suspects should be
We now learn that even while
Bogollagama was still a minister with the former UNF government a
CID inquiry was launched following a verbal complaint made to then
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by former Executive Director,
Kahatagaha Graphite, J. Kaviratne.
Wickremesinghe spoke with then Interior
Minister, John Amaratunga who initiated an inquiry by writing to DIG
CID, Lionel Gunatilleke on March 4, 2003.
The CID probe included investigating a
letter written by the former Chairman Dhammika Gamarachchi and dated
July 10, 2002 where he sought approval to sell 600 metric tonnes of
graphite at US$ 650 per metric tonne. This letter was addressed to
Industries Ministry Secretary Dr. U. Vidanapathirana. In this letter
Gamarachchi claims that he is forced to consider selling the
graphite at prices below market rates due to Kahatagaha facing
"a critical financial situation."
But the issue is that Gamarachchi in
this instance sought approval from the wrong ministry. His letter
should have been addressed not to Dr. Vidanapathirana but to
Secretary, Enterprise Development and Industrial Policy Ministry,
Ranjith Fernando. The Industries Ministry was only a line ministry
to that of the Enterprise Development and Industrial Policy Ministry
of which Prof. G. L. Peiris was minister.
Gamarachchi's request was swiftly
approved by the Industries Ministry and confirmed by letter dated
July 19, 2002. This letter was signed by Additional Secretary,
Industries Ministry, W. A. Karunasena. Karunasena states in this
letter that considering the facts given in Gamarachchi's letter,
"approval has been given by the Hon. Minister of Industries to
sell 600 MT of 97/99 grade at a price of US$ 650 per MT."
Interestingly, even before Karunasena's
letter lending formal approval was written on July 19, 2002, three
days prior on July 16, 2002, a purchase order bearing number 7515
was received from the Japanese firm S. Kato & Co., for 600
tonnes of graphite at a buying price of US$ 650 per metric tonne.
The shipment instructions indicate that
payment would be made in 11 monthly installments. The question then
is how could an installment payment over a period of 11 months have
mitigated or eased the financial pressure Gamarachchi
and Bogallagama insist Kahatagaha Graphite was facing which
compelled him to sell a valuable resource at a rock bottom price?
He did so despite Bogala Graphite Lanka
Limited in September 2002 seeking to purchase 40 metric tonnes of
97/99 graphite from Kahatagaha for US$ 850 per metric tonne. They
issued a purchase order to this effect on September 4, 2002.
But we reliably learn that Chief
Executive Officer, Bogala Graphite, Sydney Jayasinghe was summoned
by Rohitha Bogollagama and asked not to buy the graphite at US$ 850
per tonne. Kahatagaha if it sold to Bogala at this rate would have
collected a total of US$ 34,000.00 for this sale only.
Order to stop
On September 16, 2002, Jayasinghe wrote
to Kaviratne the executive director, Kahatagaha Graphite saying he
regrets having to inform him, "we are compelled to cancel the
purchase order No. 471/HO dated 4th September 2002, issued to you
for the above material."
He adds that they have explained their
reasons for their action to Secretary, Enterprise Development,
Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion and Constitutional
Affairs Ministry, Ranjith Fernando.
Matters at Kahatagaha in the meantime
got more mysterious and muddled. For thereafter, on March 11, 2003,
Economic and Commercial Officer, American Embassy in Colombo, Teresa
Manlowe wrote to Ranjith Fernando attaching an email the embassy had
received from a US company Asbury Graphite Mills Inc.
This email from the Company President,
Stephen A. Riddle stated that Riddle was being contacted "by
other local Sri Lankan companies who are trying to sell me
Kahatagaha graphite, which confuses me." He adds "why are
so many companies trying to get involved in the sale of Kahatagaha
Graphite when the worldwide market is so small?" He asks if he
should purchase from Kahatagaha directly but that the issue
"does create lots of problems."
But Kahatagaha for some reason was not
interested in selling graphite directly to Asbury who was willing to
buy at market rates. After, Kahatagaha had sold 600 tonnes of
graphite to Kato for only US$ 650 per tonne, Bogala Graphite in
September that year 2002, sold the same grade of graphite for US$
1,500 per tonne to Asbury Graphite Mills. An invoice dated September
5, 2002 confirms the sale and shipment to New York.
And it was not only the Americans who
were paying market rates for Sri Lankan graphite. The Japanese firm
SKW on February 14, 2003 also purchased 40 metric tonnes of 97/99
grade Sri Lankan graphite from Bogala Graphite for US$ 1,520 per
Having got wind of the scam, Secretary,
Enterprise Development Ministry, Ranjith Fernando meanwhile had
written a strongly worded letter to Gamarachchi demanding he stop
the order to Kato.
In this letter dated August 21, 2002
Fernando severely chided Gamarachchi asserting, "I regret very
much that the instructions of the Ministry had not been carried out
by you in that exports still continue." He ordered Gamarachchi
to immediately "stop all exports at the price of US$ 650 per
tonne to the Japanese buyer." Fernando further indicates that
Kaviratne as the executive director of Kahatagaha had secured an
order for the price of US$ 1,200 per tonne of graphite. Gamarachchi
was ordered to honour this offer and expedite a sale.
But Gamarachchi shielded by his
immediate Minister Rohitha Bogollagama was under orders to ignore
Ranjith Fernando and Minister G. L. Peiris. He had by the time
Fernando wrote this letter, sold more than 600 tonnes of graphite to
Kato for the ridiculous price of only US$ 650 per tonne. Another
invoice dated July 16, 2002 indicates that an additional 60 metric
tonnes of Sri Lanka graphite, 97/99 grade, was also sold to Kato for
only US$ 650 per tonne.
This deal, causing such huge losses to
Kahatagaha was made in the backdrop of Kato having previously
purchased graphite from Kahatagaha for US$ 1,200 per tonne in
November 2001 and for US$ 1,080 per tonne in April 2002. The last
purchase by the Japanese was made a mere two months before Rohitha
Bogollagama and Gamarachchi negotiated a "deal" with Kato
to sell Sri Lankan graphite at the shockingly low rate of US$ 650
Rohitha Bogollagama meantime on
September 19, 2002, arrogantly states in writing that "the
export of the said quantity of graphite has been effected with the
sanction of this Ministry and the Chairman of Kahatagaha Graphite
Ltd., does not owe any explanation in this regard to the Ministry of
Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion,
which Ministry has no supervisory powers vested over the said
establishment." Bogollagama's letter is addressed to Secretary,
Industries Ministry, Dr. U. Vidanapathirana requesting him to take
action to inform the Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and
Investment Promotion Ministry not to interfere with the affairs of
corporations listed under his Ministry. But Bogollagama was only the
line minister and Kahatagaha Graphite was indeed answerable for all
policy decisions to Prof. G. L. Peiris who was the cabinet minister.
Holding on to portfolio
The issue now is how Bogollagama in the
light of these revelations continues as he does holding ministerial
office no less, after having purged Kahatagaha of Rs. 65 million
which company according to Gamarachchi was already bankrupt.
If indeed President Chandrika
Kumaratunga practices what she preaches then she should be the first
to crack the whip and call a spade a spade
- if the President believes that a deliberate loss of Rs. 65
million to a state owned entity is indeed nothing short of - blatant
Over to you Mr. Attorney General.
Heroic saga of an eastern warrior
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
It was the third day of March last
year. Around 125 to 150 senior stalwarts of the Batticaloa - Amparai
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were gathered at "Thenagam"
conference hall at Karadiyanaaru in Batticaloa District. Former
Eastern commander of the LTTE Vinayagamurthy Muraleetharan alias
"Colonel" Karuna was holding the floor. The man who had
led the Tigers in the east from 1987 wasrevolting against his leader
Many of those present could not believe
their ears. Karuna "Amman" was related a litany of
complaints against the LTTE hierarchy. His chief targets were
Intelligence Head Pottu Amman, Financial Controller Thamilendhi and
Police Chief Nadesan. What Karuna wanted was for the eastern LTTE
component to have autonomous authority. He advocated that the
eastern Tigers should be free of central control by the LTTE
hierarchy. "We will throw off the northern yoke and create an
eastern renaissance," Karuna said.
Many were flabbergasted. Some who know
about Karuna's mindset were not surprised, but did not expect such
open defiance. Whatever their inner thoughts or misgivings almost
everyone seemed to agree. Some kept silent, but many articulated
their willingness to go along with Karuna openly. Ironically some of
the wildly enthusiastic lieutenants were Ramesh, Karikalan, Ram,
Ramanan, Kuyilinban, Bawa, etc. All of them later went over to
Pirapaharan and turned vehemently against Karuna.
There was only one open dissenter. This
courageous Akela who dared to defy the eastern supremo was none
other than Kausalyan who was gunned down brutally at Namalgama last
week. Kausalyan was then as he was now the Political Wing Chief of
the Batticaloa - Amparai LTTE. Kausalyan respectfully told Karuna
that the destiny of the eastern and northern Tamil was inextricably
inter-twined. The Tamil people had to be united. Disunity meant the
end of the armed struggle, he pointed out. All problems with the
leadership should be resolved through discussion. Kausalyan urged
Karuna to refrain from this course of action and go to the Wanni and
meet leader Pirapaharan directly.
Karuna argued back and did his best to
change Kausalyan's stance. At one point he asked Kausalyan himself
to write the amount of income earned by the LTTE in the east and
remitted to Wanni. With trembling fingers Kausalyan did so.
"With all that money we can make our 'Batticaloa motherland' a
golden Eastern Eelam," said Karuna. Kausalyan stood his ground.
He could have been executed by the impulsive Karuna. Yet Kausalyan
did not relent. Finally, Karuna lost his temper. He scolded
Kausalyan in filth and asked him to get out. "Go to Wanni
immediately. Take your Manisi (woman) with you. I don't want to set
sight on you. If I see you again I will finish you."
First to go
While a dumbstruck audience watched,
Kausalyan left the place. Losing no time he went to Ambilanthurai
and picked up his fiancee Pushpa then a final year undergraduate at
the Eastern Campus. He made his way quickly to the Wanni even as
news of the revolt reached Pirapaharan. There was no doubt that the
LTTE leader was happy to see Kausalyan. They were immersed in
discussions for a long time. Thereafter people like Ramesh, Ramanan,
Ram, Praba, Karikalan, etc., deserted Karuna and came over. But the
man who fearlessly defied Karuna's divisive revolt was Kausalyan
alone. The Tiger leader was greatly appreciative of Kausalyan's
loyalty and in a few weeks time witnessed his marriage to Pushpa.
Quiet and contemplative,the soft-spoken
Kausalyan was not an extrovert. Gentle and mild-mannered he wasby
nature shy. Yet the docile exterior belied an inwardly strong
character with nerves of steel. He was firmly stubborn in
negotiations. He did not argue boisterously, but never relented from
his position. He would seem charmingly agreeable, but would remain
firmly inflexible. Though an introvert Kausalyan got along well in
interacting with the people. His trouble-shooting skills were
legendary. With his demise the LTTE has lost someone who in the
future could have become a great leader and possibly second in
Eliyathamby Nagenthiran Lingarasa alias
Kausalyan was born on October 16, 1972 in Pandariyaweli. This was on
the west coast of the Batticaloa lagoon. The littoral to the east of
the lagoon was known as "Eluvaankarai" or shore of the
rising sun while the western hinterland was "Paduvaankarai"
or shore of the setting sun. He came from peasant farmer stock, but
his lineage was that of a warrior clan.
Kausalyan belonged to the dominant
social group in Batticaloa - Amparai known as "Mutkuhar"
but known colloquially as "Mukkuwa." His sub-sect or
matrilineal clan was "Kaalinga Kudi." The Paduvaankarai
region including villages like Pandariaveli, Padaikathaveli,
Arasaditheevu, etc., were populated to a great extent by people of
this clan or kudi. The Kalinga kudi derives its name from Kalinga
and claim to be descendants of warriors of Kalinga kings from Deccan
India. As time went on they turned to agriculture, but were
generally impoverished as agrarian workers.
Kausalyan like Ramesh, Thurai and
Nagesh, etc., of the LTTE belonged to this clan. A whole bunch of
this clan joined up with the LTTE during the Indian Army period.
Earlier the bulk of LTTE recruits came from other caste groups.
Kausalyan then 16 plus joined in early 1989 and received training in
the Kanchikudicharu jungle. He was later stationed in the Vadamunai
When war broke out with Colombo after
the IPKF left, Kausalyan again fought in the Kumburumoolai region.
He also fought in the Vaaharai - Kadiraveli region. Possessing
leadership potential he went up the ladder quickly and by 1993 was
in charge of district finances. He was in Jaffna in 1994 and worked
under finance controller Ranjith Appa who later took the "Pure
Tamil" nom de guerre Thamilendhi. He returned to the east in
1995after the ceasefire and continued to be in charge of finance and
In 1995 Kausalyan went up to the Wanni
where the LTTE had re-grouped after withdrawing from Jaffna. He
fought in the Mullaithivu battle of July 18, 1996. He was also
involved in logistics during the Wanni fighting of 1996-1997/8. He
returned to the east again in 1998 and was again in charge of
finance for both Amparai and Batticaloa.
Kausalyan dealt with millions of rupees
but was scrupulously honest. His integrity was above reproach. No
one including Karuna can point a finger at him for financial
impropriety or embezzlement. Despite this squeaky clean record,
Karuna removed him in 2001 and made him deputy political commissar
to Karikalan. Seemingly a promotion, the move was calculated to get
Kausalyan out of Nidhipporuppu or financial control. With Kausalyan
out, the way was cleared for Karuna and his coterie to
'misappropriate' money under the new finance chief Reginald (not
Karuna's brother Reggie). This was the beginning of Karuna's
After Karikalan fell out of favour with
Pirapaharan over the Muslim question and was removed, Kausalyan
succeeded him as political commissar of Batticaloa - Amparai. He
remained so till his death. One of his greatest achievements was
mending fences to a great extent with the estranged Muslim
community. He took exceptional care to prevent Tamil - Muslim enmity
erupting. His death is a great loss to Tamil - Muslim brotherhood.
The spontaneous hartal observed in Muslim areas to protest his
killing and the remarkably large Muslim attendance at Kausalyan's
funeral at Thandiaddy is illustrative of his relationship with the
Kausalyan had left leaning tendencies.
Coming from an agricultural worker background he was interested in
land reform. Kausalyan spearheaded the acquisition of land from rich
Tamil and Muslim landowners and distributing it in small allotments
to landless peasants. Unfortunately for Kausalyan his attempts to
transform the semi-feudal "Podiar" (landowner) agro-system
in the east did not succeed. It ended in abysmal failure as the new
owners did not have the capacity to work the land consistently and
continuously amid adverse circumstances. Given the LTTE
preoccupation with war it was unable to provide the support systems
necessary to small landowners. As a result of this 'land reform' and
the escalating war the entire agricultural output of what was once
the paddy bowl of Lanka decreased drastically.
Apart from formulating and enforcing a
tax scheme that rapidly pauperised the middle classes, Kausalyan
also pioneered income-generating projects for the LTTE in the east.
Stone quarrying, construction contracts, sand business, bakeries,
hiring vehicles, setting up bakeries, financing small boutiques,
textile retail, etc., were some of these projects. Not all of these
were successes, but they were run honestly. After his removal most
of these projects became hotbeds of corruption.
The overall LTTE Political Commissar
Tamilselvan came over to Batticaloa to preside over Kausalyan's
funeral. He along with Bhanu, Thamilendhi, Balakumar and Nagesh came
by air force helicopter after charging the security forces of
complicity in Kausalyan's death. Thirty five others including Ramesh,
Karikalan, Para and Nadesan came by road with the SLMM. Tamilselvan
lambasted the forces in his funeral oration. After doing so he will
travel back in a Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter again.
Despite this posturing, the same
Tamilselvan gave Kausalyan a lot of harassment when he was eastern
political chief. He was cold shouldered in many respects. When
Tamilselvan led a political delegation to Europe after Karuna's
rebellion he kept Kausalyan out. When pro-Karuna websites raised the
issue of discrimination against eastern Tigers the team was hastily
revised and Kausalyan included. Kausalyan with his modest, pleasing
manner was a great hit abroad. He met a lot of Batticaloa Tamil
expatriates and convinced many of Karuna's folly.
Kausalyan enjoyed great popularity in
the east. The upper and upper-middle classes may not have liked his
social reform and taxation but the lower-middle and pooer classes
loved him. In spite of 57 years of independence and 30 years of
liberation struggle it is people of that strata who make up the
majority of the
eastern population. The people who paid their respects and attended
his funeral did so out of genuine sorrow.
Whatever his critics may say about him
none can fault him for dishonesty in monetary mattersor insincerity
towards the cause. The death of this eastern warrior is truly a
great loss to the LTTE.
moves to restructure state banks
The government has taken a decision to
reform and restructure the four state banks within the next three
years, according to a cabinet memorandum submitted by President
Chandrika Kumaratunga and Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama on
November 16 last year.
"We will be reforming and
restructuring Bank of Ceylon (BoC), People's Bank, National Savings
Bank (NSB) and the State Mortgage and Investment Bank (SMIB). It
will be carried out by the Strategic Enterprise Management Agency (SEMA),"
Amunugama told The Sunday Leader last week.
He however was emphatic that the
restructuring did not constitute
privatisation of the banks. "It is in no way a
privatisation." The plan according to the Finance Minister is
to relaunch an effort to make the banks financially viable entities
by bringing them under SEMA.
The cabinet memorandum sought the
approval of cabinet to adopt a code of corporate governance for the
banks, "for each bank to have the authority for the recruitment
of permanent and contract employees in line with the development
plans and approved cadre.
"For the banks to develop and
implement policies and procedures in relation to operations
including the human resources (such as retirement and promotions),
credit and recovery and procurement of goods, services and
The BOC is the largest bank in Sri
Lanka, with a customer base of 6.6 million serviced by 299 branches
and assets to the value of Rs. 240 billion, "having a market
share of 23% of the banking system," according to the
memorandum and "handles the largest share of inward
The restructuring plan aims to improve
productivity, expand loan growth and enhance the ability to tap
international markets. The aim is to increase profit after tax from
Rs. 1,632 million in 2003 to a forecasted Rs. 2,364 million by 2007.
Along the same lines, the asset base is expected to rise to Rs. 285
billion from Rs. 240.3 billion.
In order to achieve the targets, the
Kumaratunga-Amunugama memorandum sought approval for the BoC to
negotiate government guarantees with the government on outstanding
borrowings of the state owned enterprises, while the Treasury is to
issue Rs. 2.2 billion in bonds of two to five years duration to the
BoC in settlement of the outstanding borrowings and part of a
dividend paid by the BoC to the government is to be used to settle
the overdue borrowings due from state owned enterprises.
"In the event that the government
requires the BoC to lend to state owned enterprises for the BoC to
negotiate with the Treasury to obtain appropriate government
guarantees," it said.
Managing the affairs of the BoC would
be easy compared to the ailments of the People's Bank which is
saddled with bad loans despite an asset base of Rs. 225 billion and
a network of nine million customers serviced by 614 branches.
"Due to poor governance, lack of
accountability and politicisation, People's Bank has experienced
exceptional extents of bad loans with resultant loss in
profitability. In order to enable the bank to conform to regulatory
requirements set out by the Central Bank based on the need to ensure
a financially sound banking sector and to be financially viable, the
government has had to inject additional capital into the bank to
compensate for these losses."
Within the last 12 years, two such
infusions of funds by the government took place. By the time the
last bail out took place in 1996, the government had spent Rs.
20.556 billion by way of government restructuring bonds. And the
restructure plan recommends the same formula as the way out for the
People's Bank from the non-performing loans.
The first recapitalisation took place
in 1993 by way of 30 year bonds amounting to Rs. 10.5 billion. The
bonds will mature in 2023.
In 1996 due to mounting bad loans, once
again bonds to the value of Rs. 10.056 billion were offered maturing
however in 2006.
"These bonds mature during the
period of the current development plan resulting in the need for the
government to pay to People's Bank, the face value of Rs. 10.056
billion in 2006. Immediately the government meets the payment due to
People's Bank on maturity of the bonds, it is proposed to request
the People's Bank to invest an equal amount in tradable government
securities," the proposed restructuring plan said.
In 1999, the government once again
intervened and issued a letter of comfort to People's Bank to
recover from capital shortfalls. The memorandum notes that in 1999
the government took the decision to change the management of the
People's Bank. The move has resulted in a significant improvement in
the bank's profitability, it said.
"It is proposed to recapitalise
People's Bank to an extent of Rs. 8.5 billion in a phased manner to
(i) improve the financial viability and meet the minimum regulatory
capital requirements set out by the Central Bank (ii) strengthen the
country's financial system by having People's Bank becoming a
strong, competitive and profitable bank that will contribute to the
national budget and become a source of capital formation, and (iii)
continue to permit People's Bank to serve its existing business
customers including credit to small and medium enterprises in the
rural areas of the country, thereby supporting the government's
"As a pre-requisite for the
government to recapitalise People's Bank, it is recognised that an
appropriate governance framework needs to be in place to ensure
financial accountability and performance. For this purpose it is
proposed that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) be entered into
between the government, SEMA, and People's Bank, whereby management
and the board of directors of People's Bank agree to implement the
development plan according to the agreed schedule and meet the
outlined performance target."
The government, according to the
memorandum, will recapitalise the bank in accordance with the phased
in recapitalisation plan if the performance targets are met.
A further proposal is the setting up of
an asset management company to take over the non-performing loans of
People's Bank. The recapitalisation schedule is Rs. 2 billion in
2005, Rs. 1 in 2006, again Rs. 2 billion in 2007, Rs. 1.5 billion in
2008 and finally Rs. 2 billion in 2009 making out the total Rs. 8.5
Ironically, the last UNF government too
envisaged a similar plan for People's Bank. "Special measures
will be taken in the case of the People's Bank. It will be converted
to a public company and its assets and liabilities will be valued.
If it's possible to divest it as a single unit, that will be done.
If not, the bank will split into a commercial bank, a savings bank
and an asset management unit which will work out the bank's
non-performing assets," the UNF's Regaining Sri Lanka document
released in December 2002 said.
Along with approval for the
recapitalisation to the tune of Rs. 8.5 billion over a five year
period and the signing of the MOU, the memorandum sought cabinet
approval for the bank to purchase tradable government securities
amounting to Rs. 10.0556 billion from the proceeds from the maturity
of the bonds issued in 1996, "for public circulars issued by
the Treasury to apply in the event it is specifically stated that as
applicable to People's Bank." The bank like its cousin BOC
would have to negotiate with the Treasury the appropriate government
guarantees if it is lending to state owned enterprises.
Business with state owned enterprises
has been one of the biggest impediments limiting the scope of the
two state banks reinventing themselves as sound financial regimes.
Studies in 2002 showed that two thirds of all transactions by the
BoC and People's Bank related to dealings with public enterprises.
Breaking that trend would not be easy as it appears on paper.
The government also plans to enter in
to an agreement with unions at People's Bank in an effort to cement
employee commitment to the development plan. If everything works
according to plan, People's Bank's profit after tax will increase
from Rs. 1.556 billion last year to Rs. 3.481 billion by 2008.
Given the state of affairs at the two
commercial banks and their significance, the two other banks listed
in the memorandum, NSB and the SMIB pale in comparison.
NSB has an asset base of Rs. 177.8
billion, however the memorandum identifies that it too is heavily
into business with public enterprises. "Around 80% of its asset
base comprises lending to the government to fund the budget deficit.
Wholesale lending accounts for 7% of the assets, retail lending 4%
and other assets 6%."
The redevelopment plan aims to reorient
the NSB into a savings and investment bank, expand the corporate
portfolio and "doubling the retail portfolio consisting of
housing loans, pawning, personal lending and other retail products
within the next three years."
The memorandum sought approval for NSB
"to increase the present authority limits of the board of
directors on the procurement of goods and services from Rs. 25
million to Rs. 100 million.
"For public administration
circulars issued by the Treasury to apply only in the event it is
specifically stated as applicable to the NSB," as is the case
with all the other three banks.
SMIB is the smallest of the four with
an asset base of a mere Rs. 9.8 billion. Around 80% of its business
is generated in three districts - Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara.
"Since 1990 the main source of funding for the operations of
SMIB has been wholesale deposits and equity funds complemented by
long term loans from multilateral lending agencies. Going forward,
the key challenge is to meet the competition from financial
institutions with larger fund bases and branch networks such as NSB
and the licenced commercial banks," the memoranda said.
SMIB is to undergo restructuring of its
organisational structure according to the plan which will allow
increased productivity. SMIB's lending to the housing market is to
be increased and there will be capital investment in IT.
The limits of minor tender boards at
the SMIB will be increased from Rs. 5 million to Rs. 15 million
while limits of the departmental tender boards will go up from Rs.
25 million to Rs. 35 million.
This is not the first time that a
government has tried to restructure and re-energise the state banks.
The turnaround would depend mainly on two issues, staff support and
Most of outstanding borrowings have
been to public enterprises some financially unsound and others lent
at below market rates. In 1992, the Treasury's circular on
'Restructuring of Bank of Ceylon and People's Bank' said that if
such loans are to be granted by the banks the government would have
to guarantee or subsidise the loans. At the BoC alone the
outstanding amount is Rs. 2.2 billion.
"In order that the operations of
these institutions be carried out on a commercial basis and for
regularisation of actions taken in the past, it is proposed that (i)
GOSL considers providing to the BoC and the People's Bank,
government guarantees on account of outstanding borrowings of state
owned enterprises in terms of Treasury Circular dated 20th April
1992 (ii) That an amount of Rs. 2.2 billion in marketable treasury
bonds of two to five years duration be issued to the BOC in
settlement of the outstanding borrowings of state owned enterprises.
"The BoC has outstanding in its
books several large loans to state owned enterprises which these
organisations are not in a position to pay. In terms of the
development plan of the BoC, it is proposed that a dividend
amounting to 15% of the profit after tax be paid by the BoC to the
government on an annual basis. It is proposed that a part of the
dividends paid to the GOSL by the BoC be used to settle the overdue
borrowings of the state owned enterprises," the memorandum
While such balancing of books might
settle ledgers dealing with staff would not be that easy. The
proposals say that the directors of the banks will be granted
autonomy to operate in the competitive environment.
"It is proposed that the following
aspects be within the purview of the board of directors of the
banks, (i) authority for the recruitment of permanent and contract
employees in line with the development plan and approved cadre, (ii)
development of policies and procedures in relation to operations of
the bank including human resources (such as retirement and
promotions), credit and recovery, and the procurement of goods
services and donations, (iii) for public administration circulars
issued by the Treasury to apply only in the event it is specifically
stated as applicable," the proposals say.
Implementing them would be the hardest
job, many have tried in the past and failed.
Bank unions were unaware of the details
of the restructuring plan proposed in the cabinet memorandum,
though it is three months since it was presented to cabinet.
The Bank of Ceylon Union said that no
discussions have taken place at committee level or at member
level. Officials said that they were aware the memorandum was
presented but said they did not have a copy of the document
and as such no discussions had taken place.
However, they warned that if
restructuring were to take place without consultation with the
unions, there would be trouble. "They usually talk with
us before they activate plans. When they don't we resort to
trade union action and ultimately they talk to us," union
officials at the BoC headquarters in Colombo said last week.
When union officials made preliminary
inquiries from the human resources department they had
informed that none of the proposed redevelopment plans would
be carried out immediately.
The unions at the People's Bank said
that they too were only aware that a memorandum was presented,
but nothing of the details. Officials said they suspected that
the government had presented the memorandum under pressure
from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). They said all the
unions at the four banks including ones affiliated to the SLFP
and the JVP were aware of the memorandum, but so far no
discussions had taken place.
ambushed in east by Tamil National Force
political Wing head, Batticaloa and Amparai Districts, Kausalyan
By D. B. S. Jeyaraj
The time was around 7.45 p.m. on
Monday, February 7. The Toyota Hiace van,
numbered 57 - 1020 going along the Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa
road or A-11 highway slowed down as a vehicle with blinking lights
was parked ahead on the right side of the road. With the lights
signalling to go ahead, the van driven by Vinayagamoorthy slowly
passed the white coloured van parked alongside the road with its
There were nine people inside the Hiace
van. In front, seated next to driver Vinayagamoorthy was
former Amparai District Parliamentarian, Ariyanayagam Chandra
Nehru. Sitting next to him was a policeman from Thirukkovil,
Chandrasekeran. In the middlewas the Tiger Political Commissar for
Batticaloa and Amparai, Kausalyan, his comrade at arms Pugalan and
another constable Nagarajah. Three other LTTE cadres Senthamilan,
Nithimaran and Vinothan were seated at the rear.
All hell breaks loose
Even as they passed the parked vehicle
the front seat occupants saw two or three men in uniform standing
ahead in front of the white van. One of them raised a hand as if
hailing them or asking them to stop. The van that was already moving
at snail's pace now slowed down further. Suddenly all hell was let
loose. Rapid gunfire from behind and to one side of the Toyota
ensued. Vinothan seated behind saw the driver and Kausalyan slumping
The two policemen inside the vehicle
were boduguards assigned to protect Chandra Nehru. They had a T-56
each. Furthermore, Chandra Nehru had a 9mm pistol in his possession
for his personal protection. There was no time for any counter fire.
Even as the vehicle and occupants were hit in a hail of gunfire,
atleast one of the cops jumped out but fell down as gunfire hit him.
The five LTTE men were unarmed. Without any retaliation the attack
was simply a cold blooded massacre. Within two minutes it was all
over and the assassins fled away in their vehicle.
Five of the men inside - Kausalyan,
Pugalan, Nithimaran and Senthamilan and the driver Vinayagamoorthy
were dead. The two policemen, Chandra Nehru and LTTE cadre Vinothan
were injured. However,
Chandrasekeran and Vinothan though bleeding were conscious. Chandra
Nehru, Kausalyan and another LTTE cadre had a cellular phone each.
But neither of the conscious persons thought of using them. In about
10 minutes after the shooting soldiers from the Welikanda camp,
about five km away came to the scene.
The dead and injured persons were taken
to Welikanda and then transferred to the Polonnaruwa Hospital. The
injured persons were later airlifted to Colombo and admitted to the
National Hospital. Emergency surgery was performed on Chandra Nehru
who was later placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Initially,
Nehru showed signs of recovery but started sinking later and died.
Thus the death toll in the massacre became six. The condition of
both Chandrasekeran and Vinothan improved to an extent where they
were able to testify at the inquest and also be interviewed by
sections of the media.
The ambush took place on the deserted
stretch of road between the 104th and 105th mileposts. It was in the
vicinity of a comparatively new Sinhala settlement known as
Namalgama. It is suspected that the parked white van was the same
vehicle that had been following the ill fated Toyota Hiace after
they had passed the 23rd brigade headquarters at Welikanda. It had
overtaken them at Pillaiyarady between the 103rd and 104th milepost
when the driver Vinayagamoorthy and the two policemen had alighted
to worship at the shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesh and also put money
into the till.
The incident had occurred near the
Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa District border. The two nearest military
camps on the A-11 highway at Welikanda and Punanai were about 14 km
apart. The attack happened at a spot five km from Welikanda.
Furthermore, there were three other army camps in proximate region.
Navaladdy and Valaichchenai in Batticaloa District and Minneriya in
Polonnaruwa. Yet the assailants seem to have vanished without a
Security forces complicity
The LTTE and their propaganda organs
have levelled overt and covert charges of security forces complicity
in themassacre. It is not known whether the suspected white van
travelled along the A-11 highway after the massacre or not. If so
the Punanai and Welikanda army camps must be having some knowledge.
There are also other routes through which the vehicle could have
reached Minneriya or Thoppigala. Moreover, the areas around the
place where the incident occurred are now Sinhala or Muslim
inhabited. Twenty five years ago the area was predominantly Tamil.
This column still remembers the delicious milk sold by Tamil vendors
at Welikanda when the buses stopped there.
Lt. Col. Kausalyan, Major Pugalan,
Major Senthamilan and 2nd Lt. Nidhimaran were all promoted
posthumously. Nidhimaran from Mandoor was only 16 years old. He had
been conscripted three years ago just as he entered his teens.
Chandra Nehru was given the "Naatuppatraalar" (patriotic
citizen) award by the LTTE. This is the second highest civilian
award of the LTTE . The greatest loss to the LTTE was of course its
Political Wing Head for Batticaloa and Amparai, Kausalyan.
Despite his seniority and experience,
32 year old Kausalyan seems to have acted with rash carelessness.The
ceasefire regulations permit security to be provided to senior
Tigers when passing through government controlled territory.
Kausalyan's boss, the overall LTTE Political Wing Chief, Tamilselvan
for example always demands and gets helicopter transport. In
Kausalyan's case he seems to have gone to Kilinochchi with recently
appointed Eastern Commander, Bhanu.
After some discussions there regarding
the post-tsunami rehabilitation work, Kausalyan had returned by
road. He and the accompanying cadres were unarmed. They were
travelling in a double cab - NP 6886. The LTTE Head of Finance
Division, Thamilendhi (nee Ranjith Appa) accompanied him from
Puthukudiyiruppu upto Puliyankulam. Thereafter, Thamilendhi turned
back. This, however led to a rumour initially that Thamilendhi too
was killed in the attack. The LTTE issued a denial and also sent
Thamilendhi to the funeral ceremony in Batticaloa to prove that
their 'chancellor of the exchequer' was still alive.
After reaching Polonnaruwa, Kausalyan
had changed vehicles. Former Amparai District MP, Chandra Nehru who
is now the district representative of the LTTE human rights outfit,
North-Eastern Center for Human Rights, had gone in the Toyota Hiace
van,57-1020 to Polonnaruwa. They had according to the LTTE website,
Nidharsanam, met at a side road in Polonnaruwa. According to the
policeman who survived, Nehru and Kausalyan had been communicating
via cellular phone. After switching vehicles Kausalyan had sent the
double cab back to the Wanni.
Kausalyan had checked in with the
security forces at the entry and exit point at Omanthai at about 3
pm. He had not requested any security escort and opted to travel
alone and unarmed in government controlled territory. Contrary to
some reports, Chandra Nehru had not been travelling with Kausalyan
from Kilinochchi. So there was absolutely no security cover as the
two injured policemen, 35 year old Chandrasekeran and 36 year old
Nagarajah were assigned to Nehru because as a former Eastern Tamil
MP, he was in potential danger.
The Tigers had broken journey in
Vavuniya, Habarana and Polonnaruwa for refreshments. Chandra Nehru's
vehicle had initially passed Kaushalyan at Polonnaruwa. Later
Kausalyan had phoned him and the van turned back. Interestingly
Chandra Nehru had not told the two policemen of the purpose for
travelling. They were told that Chandra Nehru was going to Colombo.
It was only after Kausalyan and the comrades entered the vehicle
which turned back towards Batticaloa that the cops became aware of
Likewise, the driver Vinayagamoorthy
too was unaware of his destination. He had told his wife that he was
going with Nehru to Vavuniya. Incidently the van was not owned by
Chandra Nehru or Vinayagamoorthy. It was a hired vehicle.
Vinayagamoorthy had worked for a long time in Saudi Arabia. After
returning to the island he had bought his own van and drove it for
hire. Recently he had sold it and worked as a freelance driver. He
was a close associate of Nehru and worked diligently for him during
the election campaign.
It appears therefore that Kausalyan and
Chandra Nehru had a pre-arranged plan to switch vehicles at
Polonnaruwa. If Kausalyan had thought this "switch" and
the two armed cops were enough security, he had been sadly mistaken.
Another cardinal error had been delaying the Wanni departure till
afternoon because by the time he passed Polonnaruwa it was dusk
rendering him more vulnerable.The switch would have become known
when the passenger identity was checked at Welikanda. Moreover, a
Tiger website says that switching vehicles at Polonnaruwa was
observed by the "enemy".
Being an active Political Commissar,
Kausalyan had often been compelled to work in government controlled
areas without security. He had been warned by security personnel not
to take such risks. Yet Kausalyan persisted, perhaps because he did
not want the security forces to keep track of his movements under
the pretext of protection. Batticaloa and Amparai LTTE
Administrative Head, Dayamohan has explained the reluctance to seek
security as being due to delays and red tape by the security forces.
Whenever such requests were made there was always inordinate delay
in accommodating them, he alleges.
When news of the ambush became known
the immediate suspects were the Karuna cadres. If there was any
doubt it was dispelled the following day when some of Karuna's
operatives began telephoning people in Batticaloa and abroad that
the military wing of the newly formed Tamil Eelam Ikkiya Viduthalai
Munnani (Tamil Eelam United Liberation Front) was responsible. This
was a union between Karuna's party the Tamil Eelam Makkal Viduthalai
Puligal and the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF),
led by Paranthan Rajan.
The military wing of the new outfit is
known as the 'Tamil Thesiya Padai' or Tamil National Force (TNF). On
Thursday, February 10, a statement was issued in Europe by a person
called Cheran. It was openly claimed that the TNF was responsible.
By this time the Batticaloa grapevine was humming with the news that
five people comprising both ex LTTE and ENDLF cadres were
responsible. The actual firing was done by Mangalam Master and
Both were Karuna loyalists.
Thooyaseelan had earlier been LTTE chief of the Kaluwankerny area.
Mangalam Master was an aide de camp to the former Vinothan Regiment
Commander, Bharathidasan who was killed at Vaaharai in the LTTE
internecine warfare last April. An AK 47 assault rifle and an HK 33
sub machine gun had been used. The assassins apparently had made
their escape along the Maradanwela road.
Curiously the grapevine also had it
that the assassins had no knowledge of the victims' identities. It
seemed that Mangalam Master had been elated afterwards that they had
taken out Kausalyan and rushed to claim credit. The killers had not
deliberately disfigured Kausalyan as alleged in some quarters.
Though Kausalyan's face was severely damaged it was not due to his
being shot at close quarters. It was because he had received bullets
which entered the back and exited from the face thereby damaging the
The assassins had also not taken away
the baggage in the van. Kausalyan's briefcase with important
documents was not taken. So too were the two T-56s , Nehru's
revolver and the three cell phones. The operation smacked of being
in haste. The assassins knew there were Tigers inside and finished
them off as quickly as possible. They had then sped away presumably
because the security forces would have been at the scene soon.
LTTE and pro-Tiger elements however
allege that it was a deliberate operation clearly aimed at Kausalyan.
The notion that the security forces were involved to some extent is
believed widely. The statement issued by the Tamil National Alliance
(TNA) insinuates this clearly. It also makes a valid point that the
government cannot disclaim responsibility. The Monitoring Mission
however opines that the ambush was not a ceasefire violation. This
means that the SLMM feels that it was purely an
"intra-Tamil" killing without security force
Given the propaganda barrage unleashed
by the pro-Tiger sections, few Tamils will believe that the security
forces had no role. There is also suspicion that the assassins could
have simply taken refuge at a military installation. After the
Karuna revolt, the LTTE maintains a stance that it was only a one
man show and that there are no Karuna cadres in the east. This is
simply not true. Cadres loyal to Karuna are living in areasnorth of
Batticaloa town from Arumugathankudiyiruppu onwards.
The areas between Chenkalladdy and
Valaichenai along with areas like Vaaharai, Kirimichai,
Panichankerny, Kalkudah etc., are Karuna strongholds. The jungle
areas around Kudumbimalai, Tharavai, Kattumurivu. Vaganeri and
Vadamunai are also no go areas to the mainstream LTTE because of a
strong pro-Karuna cadre presence. The border areas along Batticaloa
and Polonnaruwa too are infested with Karuna's cadres
The mainstream LTTE will simply not
acknowledge this. They take up the position that Karuna is no more a
factor to reckon with. The charge is that some pro-Karuna remnants
along with Tamil para military groups allied to the security forces
are engaging in hit and run tactics with the security forces aiding
and abetting. The LTTE says that these elements are either staying
in close proximity to military camps or within the camps itself. In
any case the LTTE feels that the anti-Tiger violence in the east is
not possible without some military connivance. This accusation is
not entirely without foundation.
When the LTTE conveyed these sentiments
to President Kumaratunga through the Norwegians she denied any state
complicity. She however admitted that some elements in the security
forces could be aiding the pro Karuna elements in an unofficial
capacity. Cadres fleeing the wrath of Pirapaharan who seek refuge at
military camps will be granted sanctuary. Whatever the truth, it has
not been the practice for states in any part of the world to admit
to such activity. Covert operations are usually "officially
sanctioned unofficial action".
The LTTE in its official statements
does not refer to Karuna or the existence of his outfit. The
reference is to paramilitary forces. The interference is that these
are linked to the security forces and enjoy their support. This is
due to two reasons. One is that the LTTE considers it infra-dig to
admit that Karuna is still a problem and that his cadres can inflict
damage to the supposedly "invincible" LTTE. Any damage is
possible only because of security force involvement is the LTTE
Secondly admitting to an internal
squabble will take the offence out of the Monitoring Mission's
purview. Who can forget or forgive the Norwegians for washing their
hands off the whole Karuna revolt and remaining all off, while a
massacre of innocents was perpetrated by Piraba loyalists?
Emphasising "paramilitary" involvement makes it a
Whatever the outcome of these charges
and counter charges, there is no doubt that the Karuna and Paranthan
Rajan combine has made a significant hit. Further attacks of this
nature are on the cards. It is reported that Karuna is back with a
vengeance. The anniversary of his inglorious exit from Batticaloa on
April 12 is drawing near. The renegade Colonel has sworn that the
Batticaloa situation will be transformed by the April New Year. The
LTTE will certainly resist. This means that terrible bloodshed is on
you America, says JVP Leader
Since its inception, the JVP has always
maintained anti-imperialist positions. Their favourite battle cry
was that imperialists needed to be kicked out of the country. Rising
against the capitalist class was how the JVP attained popularity
with the masses. They were able to form an alliance and topple a
government because they were able to abuse countries like the USA
and Norway in profane language before the people. But apparently, it
was all talk.
Shortly before he left for England, JVP
Leader, Somawansa Amarasinghe had a meeting with US Ambassador,
Jeffery Lunstead. During his hour long discussion with the
Ambassador, Amarasinghe also handed him a letter from the JVP,
thanking him for bringing the US Marines to Sri Lanka to assist with
the post-tsunami scenario.
The JVP Leader had requested that the
meeting with Lunstead be confidential so the media would not get
wind of it. During the meeting, Amarasinghe has expressed to
Lunstead the JVP's regrets for harsh words against the USA, adding
it was because of wrong views held by the party's second tier of
leadership that the party was involved in anti-American rallies and
Many of these leaders know nothing
apart from local politics, Amarasinghe told Lunstead. Amarasinghe
also assured Lunstead he was in the process of modernising the JVP
and the party's policies will also be altered accordingly.
Amarasinghe also promised the US Ambassador he would ensure the
party's anti-American stance would be completely done away with in
the new JVP agenda.
Lunstead commented the JVP's stance on
the peace process was of concern, but Amarasinghe said that in time,
this too shall pass, adding that his party was already setting the
wheels in motion to set the issue right.
the crisis regarding Year 1 admissions, Secretary, Education
Ministry, Dr. Tara De Mel had ordered the Education Ministry housed
at Isurupaya a no entry zone. But when parliament met last Thursday
(10), JVP MP, Wimal Weerawansa, meeting Tertiary Education Minister
and Acting Education Minister, Dinesh Gunewardena in the lobby,
asked him whether it was true that Isurupaya had been declared a no
Minister Gunewardena responded he was
totally against the idea and added it was all the doing of Dr. De
Mel. Weerawansa asked the Minister with whose authority Dr. De Mel
was making these decisions. During the discussion between these two,
UPFA National List MP, Mervyn Silva sauntered up and began to
criticise Dr. De Mel as well. His grouse was that Dr. De Mel had
refused to admit several children who had applied on his
Listening to all this criticism,
Weerawansa suggested to his fellow MPs that they gather a group of
parliamentarians and storm Isurupaya, with Gunewardena leading the
way. Agreeable to this idea, Gunewardena said he would take the lead
if Weerawansa and Silva took on the task of gathering the MPs.
It was decided later on that a media
team should also be present at the scene. But while plans were still
being laid out, Minister Gunewardena received a call on his mobile
phone. On the other end of the line was none other than the
"What is this you're trying to do?
What is your problem with the Education Ministry all of a sudden?
Don't talk nonsense, tell me what your problem is. Don't try to play
games with me," an irate President threatened from Pakistan.
"I heard that, that stupid idiot Wimal is behind this plan.
Mervyn also poked his nose in, apparently," the President
Going up to Weerawansa and Silva, a
completely flabbergasted Gunewardena said, "This is the
strangest thing. The President has found out about this before we
had been discussing it for even five minutes."
Angered by the news, Silva began
yelling at everyone around him - "Bastards, they're sneaking to
lokki. If I knew who was telling tales I'd know what to do with
Coming up to Silva, another MP calmly
informed him it was Deputy Minister of Power and Energy,
Mahindananda Aluthgamage who had spilt the beans. "He was
standing behind you. He heard everything and used his mobile phone
to tell the President," the MP said. Further angered, Silva
launched into an even more profane tirade about sneaks.
Addressing Weerawansa a few minutes
later Gunewardena said, "I of course can't go. You people go if
you like." But Weerawansa was unwilling to take the fall alone.
"Oh my goodness, if she told you all that, I am not going
either," the chief rebel said.
And so the rebellion was thwarted and
media personnel who had gathered in front of Isurupaya as instructed
were forced to go back empty handed.
Lanka Cricket's hour of shame
politics had a field day at the charity event organised to mark
celebrity Australian cricketer, Shane Warne's visit to Sri Lanka
when the Sri Lanka Cricket Board boycotted the event, making Muttiah
Muralitheran the only playing cricketer standing beside Shane Warne
to represent the country.
Warne's visit was to help Sri Lanka and
its people recover from the devastating tsunami experience, but on
February 10, Muralitheran was the only Sri Lankan cricketer present
at the exclusive Waters Edge Country Club, with none of the other
cricketers turning up for the gala event.
Chaminda Vaas, whose name was also
involved in the organising of the event as the
Muralitharan-Vaas-Gunasekera Foundation was a striking absentee.
As Warne spoke of how touched he had
been during his visits to the tsunami affected regions, of little
children affected by the tsunami and rebuilding Sri Lanka, tension
seemed to be building up at the Sri Lanka Cricket Board as SMSes
were reportedly sent to all the cricketers not to attend the event.
Those in Sri Lanka Cricket, who were attempting to salvage their
ruined reputations, it transpired had urged the cricketers not to
attend the ceremony since the funds raised were not coming to the
Sri Lanka Cricket fund for tsunami relief.
For them it was a case of rupees and
cents, basking in glory and rebuilding reputations over the misery
of the tsunami victims.
Meanwhile, Warne - who was visiting Sri
Lanka solely to help the country - had indeed sensed something was
amiss and had reportedly said he knows something is wrong, but did
not know what it was. "How can you rebuild your own country if
you do not get together yourself?" he is reported to have told
"I want to raise all the aid I can
through the city of Melbourne, working on this project. Millions
have been promised through Cricket Aid," Warne said.
Muralitheran when asked how many
cricketers are here, said very candidly: "Apart from me, there
is no one. I think that is enough."
Manager of the Sri Lankan team, Brendon
Kurruppu when asked why the Sri Lankan cricketers were not at this
charity event said, "I am not aware of this. As far as I know
no one was invited. It is an individual thing."
When asked specifically whether there
had been a boycott of the event, Kuruppu went on to say, "No
one was invited."
It was ironic that while Warne flies
all the way from Australia to help Sri Lanka in her hour of need,
the Sri Lankan cricketers did not have the backbone to defy the
dictates of the behind the scenes bullies at the Cricket Board and
show solidarity with their cricketing colleagues Muralitheran and
Warne and lend a helping hand to the needy, most of whom no doubt
were their ardent fans.
As the charity-minded guests nibbled at
their pink salmon starter, they did begin to sense there was
something much fishier going on in the affairs of Sri Lanka Cricket
long before the first course.
Patriotic son of the eastern soil
Ariyanayagam Chandranehru was the latest unfortunate casualty
caught in the crossfire of a dirty war between the LTTE and its
former Eastern commander. The former MP from Amparai district who
was gunned down along with the LTTE's Kausalyan and others on the
Batticaloa - Polonnaruwa road on Feb 7th happened to be in the wrong
place at the wrong time.
Nehru or Chandra as he was generally known was a colourful character
with a flamboyant personality. He was an old "sea dog"
with about 30 years service as a mariner. Of these at least 20 were
as captain of a mercantile vessel.Years of sea going however did not
diminish the patriotism of this Eastern son of the soil whose family
was steeped in Tamil nationalist politics. He returned home a few
years ago to put down roots in his motherland and took to politics
in a big way.
Hailing from Thirukkovil in the south of Amparai district
Chandranehru was the son of a well - known pedagogue KAW
Ariyanayagam who made a name for himself in the Gandhiyan way of
Tamil national struggle some decades ago. Ariyanayagam was a founder
member of the Federal Party led by the "Gandhi of Eelam"
Like Chelva he too was a protestant christian. If the North was a
preserve of the American Missionaries the East has been a Methodist
stronghold from the time of William Ault who came along with the
original seven methodist missionaries led by Thomas Coke. Thirkkovil
was one place that tok to Methodism in large numbers. This
Christianisation however did not prevent Tamil nationalism
entrenching itself there.
Ariyanayagam senior participated in all the non - violent struggles
of the fifties and sixties that the Tamils engaged in to win back
their lost rights. He was the uncrowned king of the Amparai district
Tamils and fostered principles of non - violence in them. As a
result he was called "Arappor" (Ahimsa struggle)
Ariyanayagam. He also wrote the Tamil national anthem of yesteryear
"Engal Eelath Thamil Thiru Naadu" modelled on Tamil Nadu
poet Bharatidasan's "Thiraavida Ponnadu".
Young Chandranehru also participated in many such demonstrations
during his student and early youth including the 1956 and 1961
Satyagrahas. LIke many Tamils he became disillusioned with non -
violent struggle and in later years an ardent devotee of the armed
struggle and the LTTE.
Entering government service first as a fisheries
department employee he worked in Kalpitiya. The lure of the ocean
was irresistible and he quit government service and joined a
Maldivian ship as second officer. In six years he was captain of his
own ship. He worked for many years in Maldivian ships. He also got
If life on the high seas took Chandranehrus mind off Tamil politics
a nasty edperience in the mid - eighties brought him back to
reality. Coming home on a vacation he was arrested under the
draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and incarcerated in Boosa for
more than a year. The experience made him a determined Tamil
nationalist espousing separation through armed struggle.
He bade adueu to shipping at the end of the last century and
returned home to Thirikkovil. He bought a complex of shpos and
became a businessman. Poitics was in his blood. Soon came the 2001
elections. Nehru contested on the TULF ticket in Amparai district
where Tamils were only 19%. Though a newcomer and being away from
the Country for decades He won a seat.
One thing that helped him was the family background. His father
Ariyanayagam would have been an MP in 1960 when Amparai district was
carved out of Batticaloa but for the fact that the Tamils willingly
"sacrificed" the seat due to them to let the Muslims get
additional representation during electoral demarcation. Such was the
amity that prevailed between both communities them. In 1977 when
Pottuvil was made a multi - member constituency Ariyanayagam would
have been the first choice had he been living. He passed away in
1972 and so entered M. Canagaretnam.
Apart from this one of Nehrus brothers Ruban was a popular methodist
pastor. The Christian community rallied strongly behind Nehru
because of this. Another factor that helped him was the fact that
the Thambiluvil - Thirukkovil people mobilised strongly in his
favour because Nehru was a man from that area.
Nehru's Parliamentary baptism was funny. He came wearing a batik
bush shirt and the speaker refused to let him take his seat as he
was improperly attired. So Nehru had to borrow the shirt of a
Parliamentary staffer and take his seat. He was a firebrand and
often made controversial pronouncements. He took no effort to
disguise his unbridled admiration of the LTTE.
When the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution calling for
Pirapakarans arrest and deportation to India Nehru lost his temper.
He described India not as "Thainadu"(Mother Country) of
the Tamils but a "Pei Nadu" (Devilish Country). He also
threatened to bring Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha Jayaram to
trial under the Tamil Eelam penal code.
The irony in all this was that his father Ariyanayagam was a great
admirer of India. He himself was named after two great sons of
India. The Chandra was for Subash Chandrabose and the Nehru
obviously for Jawarhalal Nehru.
When the Karuna revolt occurred Chandranehru was in a quandary. He
took no sides initially and urged unity saying Praba and Karuna were
the right and left eye of the Tamils. Later he was compelled to
throw in his lot with Karuna and spoke at a rally where Prabakarans
picture was burnt publicly.
Despite this Nehru was not trusted by Karuna who had brought in
Pathmanathan to contest on the TNA ticket along with Nehru.
Pathmanathan was from Karaitheevu and married in Thambiluvil. Thus
he dented Nehru's Thirukkovil 0 Thambiluvil vote bank while
garnering Karaitheevu votes.
Another factor was the "religious" card being
raised. The support of all Hindu temple trustees was obtained to
mobilise Hindu votes and keep the "Vedakkaran" (Bibleperson)
out. Despite this Nehru lost only by a narrow margin to
Pathmanathan.The Eastern situation changed within a week of the 2004
election. Karuna left Batticaloa and Praba gained the upper hand.
Nehru appealed that he should be given a national list nomination
but did not succeed.
As time progressed Nehru reestablished better relations with the
tigers in the East as well as Wanni. He was made Amparai district
representative of the North - Eastern Centre for Human Rights.
Regarded as an LTTE affiliate the center is headed by Rev.
There was a lot of tradedy in the family as Nehru lost two brothers
in the past two years. Both died due to illness. The recent Tsunami
disaster hit Thirukkovil hard and according to a close relative 26
of Chandranehrus relations were killed.
Now Chandranehru himself is no more. He got caught up in the
internecine intra - LTTE strife by going to help Kausalyan of the
LTTE. The LTTE has conferred the posthumous honour "Naatruppatraalar"
or "Patriotic citizen" om him. Even without that title
Chandranehru Ariyanayagam was certainly a Tamil nationalist patriot.
He leaves behind his wife, son, elderly mother and seven siblings.