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13th February, 2005  Volume 11, Issue 31

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Issues

Assisting 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.....

More...


 Top Issues Stories

> Bogollagama's nightmare

> Kausalyan: Heroic saga of an eastern warrior

> Govt. moves to restructure state banks

> Chandranehru: Patriotic son of the eastern soil

> Tigers ambushed in east by Tamil National Force

> Thank you America, says JVP Leader (....Pot Shots)


Assisting the needy or making hay?

Profiteering 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 golden opportunity.

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 way.

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 other assistance."

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 attempts.

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.

No answers

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 rains."

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 survivors."

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.

Transparent accountability

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.

Runaway crowd

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 station. 

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 crowd."

And that is the ground situation in a nutshell where the UN and its partner organisations in Sri Lanka are concerned.

UN aid for Sri Lanka

The UN flash appeal for aid to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami.

Sector 

Agriculture 

Coordination and Support Services 

Economic Recovery and Infra-structure

Education

Family Shelter and Non-Food Items

Food  

Health

Mine Action

Multi-Sector

Protection/Human Rights/Rule of Law

Security  

Water and Sanitation

Total  

Sri Lanka

 

21,159,491

48,960,475

5,525,340

23,160,000

 

28,600,000

4,232,000

4,942,000

 5,634,000

 

24,722,840

166,936,14


Bogollagama's nightmare

By Frederica Jansz 

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 industries minister.

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.

Inquiry

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 Attorney General's  (AG's) Department for advice on how the suspects should be prosecuted.

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."

No pressure

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 metric tonne.

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.

Ignoring orders

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.

Answerable

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 per tonne.

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 robbery.

Over to you Mr. Attorney General.


Kausalyan: Heroic saga of an eastern warrior

By 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 Velupillai Pirapaharan.

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 command.

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 jungle areas.

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 taxation.

Honest man

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 downfall.

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 Muslims.

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.


Govt. moves to restructure state banks

By Amantha Perera 

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.

No privatisation

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 donations."

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 remittances."

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."

Recapitalising

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.

Performance targets

"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 development strategy.

"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 billion.

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.

Union agreement

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%."

Redevelopment

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 non-performing loans.

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 said.

Implementation

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. 

Unions not aware

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.


Tigers ambushed in east by Tamil National Force

Former 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 motor running.

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 forward.

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 trace.

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.

Danger

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 their mission.

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".

Risks

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 Thooyaseelan.

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 face severely.

Hasty operation

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 participation.

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, Omadhiyamadhu,  Mankerni, 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.

Denial

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 position.

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 ceasefire offence.

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 the cards.


Thank 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 protests.

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. 

Dinesh Vs. Tara

Following 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 entry zone.

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 recommendations.

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 President herself.

"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 continued.

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 them!"

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.

Sri Lanka Cricket's hour of shame

Petty 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 Muralitheran.

"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.


Chandranehru: Patriotic son of the eastern soil

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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" SJV Chelvanayagam.

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 married .

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. Karunairatnam.

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.


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