exposed through Jeyadevan affair
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
detention, interrogation, duress, coercion, mental torture and
criminal misappropriation of property suffered by a......
and the "unofficial state"
humbled by donor agencies
slowing relief work
strategy to sideline Mahinda
the god that failed
exposed through Jeyadevan affair
Amman and Batticaloa-Amparai Political wing Leader, Kuveni
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
detention, interrogation, duress, coercion, mental torture and
criminal misappropriation of property suffered by a London based Sri
Lankan Tamil, Rajasingham Jeyadevan at the hands of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has exposed several fault lines of an
organisation claiming to fight for Tamil liberation. The pain and
agony undergone by this British resident in the Wanni is all the
more pathetic because Jeyadevan was a man who supported the LTTE
wholeheartedly in the past and was never found wanting in espousing
the Tamil cause. The Rajasingham Jeyadevan affair with its
ramifications is indicative of the once proud Tamil liberation
struggle deteriorating into opportunistic mafia like gangsterism.
you come into my parlour," said the spider to the fly in the
nursery rhyme. Grown up, mature, man of the world types are enticed
into the Tiger lair in the Wanni through attractive incentives. Once
in Tiger clutches they are helpless victims as the felines 'play'
around with them as cats do to mice in their paws. Jeyadevan was
incarcerated and held incommunicado by the Tigers from January 8
till March 9. While suffering mental torture he was not allowed to
communicate with his family in London. His father in law passed away
in London from a massive heart attack after hearing about the
shocking plight of his son in law. The LTTE did not release
Jeyadevan even then. Finally appropriate pressure exerted by British
authorities on the LTTE succeeded in getting the man released last
Wednesday at 2.30 p.m.
nine year old Jeyadevan is an accountant by profession. Though a
staunch supporter of the Tigers in Britain, the independent
firebrand had fallen foul of LTTE bigwigs in Britain and had been
sidelined during recent times from the organisation's activities in
London. This had not dampened his spirits and Jeyadevan continued in
his own way to serve the Tamil cause and community in Britain.
had pioneered many Tamil oriented projects in the past. Among these
was the Eelap Patheeswarar Sivan temple of which he was the managing
trustee. Another of his projects was the Tamil Community Housing
Association. Jeyadevan was working full time as its director until
recently. Though a diehard LTTE supporter Jeyadevan was viewed by
the Tiger leadership in Britain as an 'enemy.'
The LTTE infiltrated the Housing Association board and got
Jeyadevan's services terminated. He has filed legal action in this
Tigers were also keen on getting Jeyadevan out of the temple
management. The LTTE has been eying hindu temples in north - east
Sri Lanka and abroad for quite some time now as a perennial cash
cow. Almost all temples earning reasonable revenue through devotee
donations are now paying a regular levy to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
The amount differs according to the revenue generating capacity of
Sri Lankan Tamil managed Hindu temples abroad are paying a levy too.
In some cases Tiger stooges have taken over the temple management
through fair and foul means. There has been resistance to these
moves in the case of some temples, resulting in even overt violence
and covert intimidation. Ironically, some temple managements
resisting Tiger machinations are LTTE supporters too. They object to
the LTTE interfering in religion and also to their being ousted from
temple control. On the other hand some of the outwardly pro-Tiger
people trying to wrest control of temples in the name of the LTTE
are neither 'true' Tigers nor 'pious' Hindus. It is very often a
tussle for power, position, prestige and of course profit.
was the pivotal force in establishing the Eelap Patheeswarar Sivan
temple in 2000 at Ealing Road in Wembley, Middlesex. It was he
whohad insisted on the "Eela" to be included in the
official name as a sign of Eelam patriotism. The temple had become
quite popular over the years in spite of 17 Sri Lankan Tamil owned
Hindu places of worship existing in Britain. By this time Jeyadevan
was out of the LTTE loop in London due to various reasons. He put
all his input into developing this temple while claiming to be a
Tiger supporter despite the London LTTE hierarchy being estranged
the Eelap Patheeswarar temple becoming a successful temple the LTTE
tried hard to gain control but Jeyadevan with his purported
authentic Tiger credentials stood firm. Usually the Tigers brand
anyone they don't like or who holds a different opinion or displays
some independence as "traitor" and vilify him. They could
not do that in the case of Jeyadevan because of his track record.
Many people recognised that the attempts to infiltrate the temple
and oust Jeyadevan was nothing but a profit motivated exercise for
power that had nothing to do with Tamil liberation.
LTTE did manage to get hold of at least one temple trustee named
Sivarajah but found others backing Jeyadevan up solidly. Most of
them were ardent Tiger supporters but were opposed to these
insidious moves. Finding that this kind of "paruppu"
(lentil) will not boil in this type of "thanneer" (water)
the London Tigers changed tactics. Instead of blowing hot they
started blowing cool. Two persons "Bala" Master and "Paambu"
Ajith started cultivating Jeyadevan.
Master was a German citizen involved in Tiger fund raising there. He
had got into some difficulty and was asked to come over to the Wanni.
It is said that after some punishment he was rehabilitated. Bala
Master then moved to London and began collecting money for the LTTE.
"Paambu" (snake) Ajith was a former bodyguard of Tiger
Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan who came over to Britain with
Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias Kittu in 1989. It was suspected
then that he had been sent to monitor the erstwhile Jaffna LTTE
Ajith and Bala Master convinced Jeyadevan that the problems
Jeyadevan had with the London LTTE was basically "local"
and had nothing to do with the LTTE hierarchy in the Wanni. The
Tiger leadership there was very much appreciative of Jeyadevan's
patriotism and service to the community. The LTTE supremo himself
wanted to meet Jeyadevan personally and iron out differences. If
Jeyadevan met the Suryadevan personally all his London centered
problems would vanish like the morning dew in sunshine they
promised. He could return to London restored to former glory and put
all his opponents in their places they suggested. Jeyadevan did not
merely nibble the bait but swallowed it fully, hook, line and
made arrangements to go to the Wanni in late December. Jeyadevan was
to take with him about 8,500 sterling pounds to be donated on behalf
of the temple to the Navam Arivukkoodam. This is a rehabilitation
project for maimed Tigers run in the name of Lt. Col. Navam who
sacrificed his life voluntarily to save Pirapaharan during the IPKF
days in the Wanni. Navam, a youth of up country Tamil origin was
himself without a whole arm, but managed very efficiently and
effectively. Jeyadevan was scheduled to reach Colombo on December
tsunami on December 26 did not change his plans but Jeyadevan made a
special arrangement on behalf of the temple for tsunami relief. It
was announced that the temple collection on January 1 would be
donated in full to tsunami relief. Jeyadevan proceeded as planned to
Colombo on December 27 and stayed withhis sister in law. The Ealing
Road temple collected over 15, 000 sterling pounds on new year day.
Another trustee and secretary to the temple board, Vivekanandan took
this money and reached Colombo on January 3 of this year.
Jeyadevan and Vivekanandan are close friends and firm supporters of
the LTTE. While Jeyadevan is a British permanent resident but
holding a Sri Lankan passport Vivekanandan is a British citizen. He
works as a sales assistant. Jeyadevan and Vivekanandan reached
Kilinochchi on January 8 morning and met the LTTE official in charge
of overseas Tiger branches, Veerakathi Manivannan alias Castro. He
is a native of Poligandy and an old student of Hartley College,
in the Elephant Pass battle of 1991 Castro is paralysed and confined
to a wheel chair. His role has increased in scope and power after
the 2002 ceasefire. The supervisory role of chief procurer KP has
been done away with and Castro is now in sole charge. He exercises
control over overseas branches directly through phone, fax, e-mail
and personal courier. Castro has removed many old hands and packed
the Tiger offices with his own lackeys.
typical LTTE duplicity, Jeyadevan and Vivekanandan were welcomed
profusely. The money they took was handed over officially to the
LTTE in two ceremonies where former LTTE international spokesperson
and current Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) Planning
Director, Lawrence Christie (Thilagar) was present. After a
sumptuous lunch both were told that Pirapaharan is awaiting them and
led them to a vehicle. They were blindfolded for security purposes-
they were told - as the LTTE Leader's whereabouts were top secret.
Thrilled at the prospect of seeing their "Sun God" face to
face and being blinded by his dazzle the unsuspecting men sped along
blindfolded into the trap.
of the Supremo's abode they were taken to what seemed an old,
virtually deserted house. They were locked up in fortified, darkened
rooms. They were kept in solitary confinement. They were
periodically taken out for "interrogation," and made to
sleep on the bare floor plagued by rodents and insects - rats,
cockroaches, red ants, white ants, lizards, centipedes and scorpions
were abundant in the darkened room. Vivekanandan, a vegetarian from
childhood was horrified when he saw two dead mice floating in the
earthen jar from which he was drinking water. Later a nephew of
Vivekanandan working in the LTTE medical unit stood guarantee for
his uncle and got Vivekanandan out. He had to present himself
regularly for interrogation, but Jeyadevan the chief target,
languished in the 'prison.'
interrogation was spearheaded by Castro himself. Jeyadevan was shown
a "petition" signed by three people. One was Sivarajah
from the temple trust. The other two were Navanayagam and Ramaraj
from the housing association. Castro told him that the petition was
handed over to him personally by a London based businessman,
Mathanarajan. It soon became obvious that the LTTE's objective was
to pressurise Jeyadevan into transferring control of his money
spinning temple to other Tiger agents in London. The gentle
Vivekanandan cracked soon and was willing to relinquish control, but
Jeyadevan was made of sterner stuff. After weeks he too gave in.
Vivekanandan was given power of attorney through a document
purportedly drafted by a London solicitor. Another deed also drafted
in London transferred ownership and control of the Eeelap
Patheeswarar temple to the Sivayogam trust in Tooting, London. This
trust originally set up in the name of Sri Lankan Tamil sage Yogar
Swamigal was now controlled by Nagendran Seevaratnam on behalf of
another bizarre twist Seevaratnam happened to be married to
Jeyadevan's younger sister. Since that marriage itself was amid
controversial circumstances both Seevaratnam and Jeyadevan were
estranged and were not on speaking terms. Vivekanandan returned to
London with necessary documentation to transfer temple control to
fall and rise of Seevaratnam in LTTE circles makes an interesting
study. This native of Myliddy is an accountant too. While working in
Nigeria he accompanied Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP of the LTTE on
a fund raising campaign in Africa. KP too is from Myliddy. Later
Seevaratnam went on a fund raising campaign to the States for the
specific purpose of buying anti-aircraft missiles. While
Seevaratnam's family was in India the man moved to London. He
started the English fortnightly Tamil Voice International (TVI) in
London to compete with the independent Tamil Times.
was during the IPKF period. Anton Balasingham, the LTTE political
advisor also returned to London during this period. Soon there was
an undeclared battle between Balasingham and Seevaratnam to be
numero uno Tiger in the UK. The famous intra-Tiger London battle
between "Sinna" Kugan and "Periya" Kugan in
those days was actually a proxy war between Bala and Seeva. This was
resolved when Pirapaharan removed both the Kugans and appointed
Segar as London chief. Segar is the brother of "ideas"
Vasu, James and Sundari all of them LTTE leaders who died in the
also organised two international conferences in London during 1988
and 1989. This writer too presented a paper at the 1989 Conference.
Some of the attendees were A. P. Venkateshwaran, P. Upendra, S.
Unnikrishnan, N. V. N. Somu, A. Aladi Aruna, Prof. A. J. Wilson,
Samantha Datta Ray, Viduthalai Veeramani, etc.When Kittu took over
in London he found the TVI magazine a heavy drain on the Tiger
purse. He also found Seevaratnam's accounts flawed. Moreover,
Seevaratnam was involved romantically with a TVI employee who was
half his age while his wife and family remained in Chennai.
puritanical Pirapa wanted Seevaratnam out because of this. While
Kittu was planning to get Seeva out the TVI made a great blunder.
Jeya Wilson, the former Oxford Union President and Prof. A. J.
Wilson's niece was then writing an "Ask Rani" column for
the TVI. Instigated by Seevaratnam a question was posed whether
Balasingham had a PhD. She answered with substantiated facts that he
did not have one. Until that time everyone was addressing Bala as
"Dr Bala." The myth was blown ironically enough in a Tiger
journal. This was enough pretext for Kittu. The TVI was stopped and
Seevaratnam put in cold storage.
Seevaratnam obtained a divorce and married the girl with whom he had
a liaison. She was none other than Jeyadevan's sister. There was no
love lost between the brothers in law. While Seevaratnam went off
the Tiger radar in London the stock of Jeyadevan was rising high in
British Tamil circles. Apart from the Wembley temple, Jeyadevan was
also a founding member of the International Federation of Tamils,
The Confederation of Tamils, Tamil Refugee Action Council, Tamil
Community Housing Association, Kingsbury Tamil School, etc. He was
also the administrator of the LTTE English journal The Tamil
Guardian. Jeyadevan was then the virtual head of the LTTE supporters
was also active in Labour Party politics. Till he moved recently to
Millhill he was an active member of the party in Brent North.
Jeyadevan was closely associated with the sitting MP, Barry
Gardiner. It was Jeyadevan who was responsible for getting Gardiner
involved in Sri Lankan Tamil affairs. Jeyadevan has also contested
local authority elections on the Labour Party ticket and lost.
family members of Jeyadevan were Tamil nationalists in Jaffna
itself. His father Rajasingham was a well-known writer. Their house
in Temple Road, Nallur - "Kanthan Karunai" - was a Tiger
base in the '80s. The family moved to Navatkuli where Jeyadevan's
mother and a younger brother were shot by the Indian Army. His elder
brother Dr. Narendran went public with what happened and in an open
letter provided full details of that atrocity. It is said that
Jeyadevan became a full fledged Tiger supporter after that tragedy.
was of great service to Anton and Adele Balasingham when the couple
left Sri Lanka in 1999 and were stranded in South East Asia without
passports or visas. It was Jeyadevan who used his 'pull' with the
British establishment and got new passports and other documents for
both. They were able to relocate to London and obtain medical
treatment mainly due to Jeyadevan's efforts. Relations between
Balasingham and Jeyadevan soured as the latter being a "Vanangaamudi"
(unbowed head) refused to be sycophant of Bala "Annai."
Another problem was that the scrupulously honest Jeyadevan was
having friction with A. C. Shanthan, the LTTE man in charge of
finances in London. Balasingham and Shanthan got on famously.
this time occurred another incident that shocked Tamil circles in
London. The British government was about to pass the Anti-Terrorism
Act. Jeyadevan and another lawyer, Neminathan wanted to challenge
that law and ban on LTTE legally. But unknown to them Balasingham
had made a clandestine deal with the British authorities. There
would be no crackdown on the LTTE in Britain if the Tigers closed
down their offices including the international secretariat formally
and adopted a low key presence. The Tigers should not contest the
anti-terrorism law or ban. Balasingham fearful of being targeted
first if London did come down hard on the Tigers agreed to play
and others went ahead with their plans. This put Balasingham in a
fix. He intervened and asked Jeyadevan to stop the legal challenge
plan without divulging the real reasons. This resulted in an intense
argument. Balasingham began scolding Jeyadevan in filth. Shocked
beyond belief Jeyadevan responded by drafting a letter outlining
what had happened including Balasingham's recourse to profanity. He
circulated it among Tamil circles in Britain, Europe and also sent
it to the Wanni. No action was taken against Balasingham, but LTTE
circles abroad particularly the educated professionals were shocked.
Balasingham was furious and began blacklisting Jeyadevan from LTTE
activity . He was aided by Shanthan in this.
next turn in this sordid game of byzantine intrigue was Seevaratnam
coming out of the woodwork to patch up with Balasingham. Both forgot
their old enmity and closed ranks against their common foe Jeyadevan
in true "Panchathanthra" style. Balasi- ngham needed a
counterfoil to Jeyadevan. Seevaratnam wanted rehabilitation and also
an opportunity to avenge himself against his brother in law who had
hurt him immeasurably in personal relations. Seevaratnam also had a
close relationship with Castro who was at one time tipped to be his
future son in law. With Castro gaining greater power over overseas
branches after the ceasefire and mending fences with Balasingham,
Seevaratnam was now getting ready to take on Jeyadevan. This led to
the next round of intra-Tiger strife in London.
be continued next week)
and the "unofficial state"
heat has been generated over the statement made by World Bank
Country Director, Peter Harrold, to a Sunday newspaper last week.
was quoted in the interview as saying that the LTTE has an
"unofficial state." Subsequently in a statement Harrold
claimed he was quoted out of context. The journalist who did the
interview with Harrold from The Sunday Times, Tyronne Devota, when
contacted by The Sunday Leader to ascertain if he stands by the
story said "no comment."
the original report, the JVP called for the ouster of Harrold from
Sri Lanka while Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, who just the
previous week invited India to get involved in Sri Lanka also
condemned Peter Harrold's statement.
Friday (11), The Sunday Times announced it would carry Harrold's
interview in full in its Sunday issue prompting the World Bank in
Colombo to post the controversial parts of the interview on the
bank's website in a bid to substantiate Harrold's claim that he
never used the words "unofficial state" together with a
produce below in full Peter Harrold's statement and a transcript of
the disputed part of the interview as posted on the World Bank
Bank does not recognise "unofficial state" in LTTE
deeply regret any offense or misunderstanding caused by the
published version of the interview I gave to the Sunday Times which
appeared on March 6, 2005. The Sunday Times reported that I used the
phrase "a kind of unofficial state." Regarding World Bank
policy toward the LTTE, I stand by my previous statement that I
never used the phrase "unofficial state." Rather, what I
said was ".an official statement" while discussing the
government's LTTE policy.
do not regard the LTTE-controlled areas as an unofficial state, nor
does the World Bank.
further review of our recording of the interview, it is clear that a
reasonable person could have misunderstood me. I am sorry I did not
speak more clearly, but I am sure about what I said, and I think
that when it is heard in its context, it becomes clear that I have
not said anything that is out of line with current government
the interest of full disclosure I have asked our staff to place an
unedited excerpt of the interview on our website so that people may
judge for themselves. The interview can be played by clicking on the
following link: http://www.worldbank.org/lk.
World Bank works directly with sovereign governments. We have a
long-held partnership with the government of Sri Lanka, and we act
in accordance with their policies.
sincerely hope that we can put this situation behind us so that we
can focus on the urgent tasks of rebuilding the nation after the
tsunami disaster, and fighting poverty in Sri Lanka, for all Sri
Country Director for Sri Lanka
of the interview on the World Bank website
say that the bank will be participating with other development
partners including the LTTE. What does that mean?
have always regarded the LTTE as a key stakeholder. I've often
been roasted by various members of the press - and no doubt
will again - after you print this interview. But there are
various members of the press and, for example, of the
Patriotic National Movement who have regarded the fact that we
have - wish - to have conversations with - and consultations
with the LTTE as inappropriate. We have, regarded - given that
there is such a thing as the LTTE-controlled area - that's an
official statement - you know, an officially recognised part
of this country is the LTTE-controlled area; given that they
are a party to a Cease-Fire Agreement with the government of
Sri Lanka, which confers on them a certain status as a
legitimate stakeholder; and given that many of the poorest
people in Sri Lanka happen to reside within the Wanni area,
the area controlled or influenced by the LTTE, we've always
regarded them as a group who were a legitimate stakeholder,
with whom it was not only appropriate but actually critical
that we had a dialogue as we designed programmes of activity
that would actually physically take place within the area
under their influence.
anybody that thinks - anybody that anybody including the
government itself can successfully carry out activities in the
north east without having a dialogue with the LTTE and without
bringing them in as a stakeholder, a stakeholder, that's just
naivet‚. The government agents carry out activity all the
time and of course have a constant dialogue with the LTTE. How
on earth is the GA for Mullaithivu or for Kilinochchi to
exist: it can't be done, they're surrounded. And they can
simply be prevented from effectiveness if they don't have a
dialogue with the LTTE.
what this statement does not imply is that we have changed the
way that we transfer financial resources. It does not mean we
are embarking on a programme of transferring financial
resources to the LTTE, because we have not been asked to do
that by the government of Sri Lanka, nor would I expect them
to ask us to do that. The question, the more, shall we say,
difficult, challenging question will be what happens if there
is a joint financing mechanism approved and what will be the
nature of that joint financing mechanism. That remains to be
seen whether the government and the LTTE will come to an
agreement on that.
then you're working through the GA
then we work through the GA and the North-East Provincial
Council, as we always have.
for the transfer of funds. But there's some much in this
document, like income support - you know - when you say that
you are including them also as a key stakeholder in this whole
tsunami relief operation would it mean you would go by their
they don't really have statistics, because the LTTE tends to
go by government statistics. I mean we don't go by anyone's
statistics without verifying them. But do we ask them for
their estimates? Absolutely. Did we ask the LTTE for their
estimates of the damage? Absolutely we did and that's fine.
said there was a figure of would be around what is it - $60
housing. $65 million.
much of that will go into the north and east?
close to three-quarters - something over 70%.
percent is going to north and east.
you see because (laughs).
provision of support has to be driven by needs not by
politics. This is a human disaster and a capital disaster.
Bandaranaike and Udaya Nanayakkara
behind the scenes drama unfolded in the making of a television
documentary titled Beyond Beaches, an initiative of the Sri Lanka
Tourist Board to promote alternative tourism after the tsunami.
one hour television documentary produced on the instructions of the
Tourist Board to woo foreign tourists has been documented with
images of minority communities and practices given the chop in order
to favour a majoritarian image, portraying the island as a Sinhala
is not that the documentary does not feature other ethnic minority
communities. It does. The issue is how and in what context. Muslims
have been depicted only in visiting a mosque and Tamils in
traditional dance form at Kataragama and the Vel festival.
very senior official from the Tourism Ministry speaking on grounds
of anonymity said the one hour video does nothing to promote ethnic
harmony or depict Sri Lanka as being multi ethnic with a harmonious
mingling of cultures. Instead, the emphasis is on a Sinhala Buddhist
state with Sinhala Buddhist traditions and practices taking
Tourism Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board have long been at
loggerheads over the marketing of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination
ever since the two institutions came under ex brothers-in-law Anura
Bandaranaike who is Tourism Minister and Udaya Nanayakkara, Chief of
the Tourist Board.
officials confided that the video was edited by Wrap Factory, a
privately owned television production company, but, was compiled by
a three member team comprising of Marketing Director, Tourist Board,
Malraj Kiriella, President, Eco Tourism Foundation, Palitha
Gurusinghe, and Vilja from the international non governmental
organisation GTZ. This group directed and decided on the contents of
the documentary. GTZ funded the multi million rupee documentary.
Beaches was planned to project Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the
tsunami as possessing a variety of alternative tourist attractions.
The video is being launched at the International Tourism Exchange
festival in Berlin which is being held from March 11 to 15.
objective of the documentary is to depict Sri Lanka's cultural
triangle, ancient cities, wildlife parks, adventure sports and
ayurvedic practices with a focus on eco tourism as all being viable
and lucrative tourist destinations. In short, alternative tourist
attractions to Sri Lanka's sun kissed beaches which image in the
aftermath of the tsunami has taken a severe beating failing to lure
or convince tourists in large numbers that the beaches are indeed
safe to visit.
images worldwide showing images of utter devastation on a third of
Sri Lanka's coastline since December 26 has largely contributed to
this dilemma. A dilemma for both the Tourism Ministry and the Sri
Lanka Tourist Board.
the issue for officials at the Tourism Ministry is that the
television documentary while focusing on heritage and culture has a
very significant thrust towards portraying the island as a Sinhala
Buddhist country with a definite attempt to eclipse scenes of the
Tamil and Muslim culture.
angry Tourist Board official commented, "its worse than the
tsunami - talk about a tectonic shot." He added that at a
glance if one were not aware of what took place before the
documentary was finalised the insidious attempt to project Sri Lanka
as a Sinhala Buddhist country would not perhaps figure.
revealed how the steering committee chaired by Malraj Kiriella
ordered that certain "scenes" be chopped and changed to
ones that did not lay emphasis on Tamil and Muslim culture.
example of the hatchet job began with a scene depicting a Sri Lankan
woman clad in cloth and jacket with a "pottu" on her
forehead descending Sri Pada. This clip was removed. Sri Pada is now
depicted minus the woman with the offending pottu.
shot of kottu roti being made next to rasa kavili was also removed
after the Tourist Board protested that it gives the wrong impression
of the country as kottu roti is a "Muslim food," and rasa
kavili "a sacred food item" associated with Sinhala
Buddhist cultural values. But the documentary does carry an image of
kottu roti being made, but not immediately after images of rasa
kavili are shown. Food, in this documentary has now assumed an ethic
clip depicting a Tamil man dressed in saffron robes with a pottu on
his head praying inside a Catholic Church was also removed. The
church is shown but the Tamil man, saffron robes, pottu and all was
banished from the scene.
Tourist Board had further insisted that a Buddhist temple precede
the segment on religions in Sri Lanka before that of any other
religious practices. Thus, a Buddhist temple precedes this segment
which is followed by images of a kovil, mosque and church. Minus,
images of any harmonious blending of ethnic groups in places of
Tourist Board had also insisted that the Sinhala New Year take
centre stage in the video with Sinhala Buddhist children portrayed
worshipping their parents and having oil put on their heads. When
pointed out that the Sinhala New Year includes New Year festivities
for the Tamil population too and should be featured thus, the
Tourist Board had discarded such suggestions as not being necessary
to portray. Not a single Burgher or Malay custom or persons have
production house may not have had visuals of Burghers and Malays.
When we contacted Wrap Factory for verification and comment they
refused asserting that they could not jeopardise professional ethics
or contractual obligations.
the fact remains as pointed out by officials at the Tourism Ministry
that the Tourist Board never even attempted to portray these two
communities. The existence of a Burgher and a Malay community in Sri
Lanka did not even figure at a single meeting the steering committee
we contacted Director Marketing, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, Malraj
Kiriella, he aggressively insisted we name our source who had
revealed details of this documentary while it had been in the
making. When we refused to do so he said, "I totally deny it.
This video gives an alternative product beyond beaches which
includes heritage, culture, nature, eco tourism, ayurveda to modern
health facilities, lifestyle and numerous sports activities
including adventure sports." Kiriella added all segments in the
documentary have been well portrayed as multi ethnic and multi
documentary we reliably learn is now complete and already in Berlin
to be screened at the ITB festival this weekend.
The Sunday Leader requested to view the
documentary the newspaper was told by wrap Factory there was
an embargo on the film and the newspaper could not be allowed to
humbled by donor agencies
Head, World bank, Peter harrold
all its loud rhetoric on national policy based on a nationalistic
approach toward rebuilding Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the
tsunami, the UPFA government has dismayingly bowed hook, line and
sinker to the dictates of foreign donor agencies.
agents in tsunami affected districts as well as in other districts
in the north and east in an operation called phase two to rebuild
devastated areas as well as promulgate human rights, governance,
economic infrastructure, conflict and gender sensitivity issues,
have to tow the line and report not to the government-led TAFREN but
to foreign lending agencies and their representatives. TAFREN too,
according to a document clearly outlining the work details and
composition of teams, has to fall in line.
document clearly identifies specific donor agencies for each sector
of TAFREN activity, which the public have been made to believe would
be government-controlled. But the ground reality is to be anything
but, as international lending agencies are to effectively control
and manage key state sector areas.
sectors are disaster response, education, environment, finance,
fisheries, health, housing, livelihoods, power, railways, roads,
tourism, water and sanitation.
each and every one of these areas, a foreign donor agency has been
appointed as head of numerous teams with whom government agents will
have to work and follow instructions. This includes TAFREN
instance, the railways sector where the government will have to
report to the ADB. In relation to tourism the state has to report
and discuss all matters in relation to tourism with USAID. Water and
sanitation is to be completely managed and controlled by JBIC.
will be overlooked and supervised by the Netherlands, finance by GTZ
and the ADB, health by JICA and the World Health Organisation,
housing by the World Bank, roads will come under the ADB and
livelihoods are to be handled and controlled by the ILO and the
World Bank. Education is to come under UNICEF, disaster response
under the UNDP and capacity building also under the UNDP.
has absolutely no lead role to play.
Neither does any other government agency or state official.
agencies are funding the rebuilding and rehabilitation of these
stake-holders, they will by no stretch of imagination function as
silent partners. In fact a note addressed to other foreign donor
partners by Country Head, World Bank, Peter Harrold, clearly
indicates the allocation of responsibilities to varying sections of
the international lending community and their very defining role as
support and advisory team who will function out of Colombo
overseeing the other teams functioning at district level is to be
led by Brian Smith at the Asian Development Bank. The government, in
this 14 member key core group, is represented by just one member
-Rachel Perera from TAFREN.
group identified as 'Team 1' to coordinate policy and rehabilitation
work in Jaffna is to be led by Joe Williams of Canadian CIDA. Jaffna
Government Agent, K. Ganesh as well as Monty Ranatunge from the
Ministry of Triple R and other officials from state departments will
all have to report to William.
2' for Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu is being led by Abhiyan Jung Rana
of UNICEF. Here too, Mullaitivu Additional GA, Shanmugalingam,
Jayamohanandan from the Ministry of Triple R, Jayantha W. Ratnayake
from the Ministry of Fisheries and Kilinochchi Project Director
Sriskandavel have to all report to UNICEF.
3' is to cover all state activities in Trincomalee. The chief of
this team to whom the government must report and follow is to be
Martin Stuerzinger from the Swiss Embassy. Trincomalee Additional GA
Singarajah, Jayawickrema from the Fisheries Ministry, Dr. Ibrahim
from the Health Services Ministry and Gamage from Samurdhi are some
of the government officials who must coordinate all work under the
supervision of the Swiss Embassy.
4' is to oversee all government activity in Batticaloa. This team is
to be led by Manjula Amerasinghe at the ADB. Director, TAFREN,
Kaushal Rajapaksha, Assistant Commissioner, Local Government,
Dayabaran Jeyanathan from the National Housing Development Authority
and Municipal Commissioner, Navaneethan are to all report to
Amerasinghe at the Asian Development Bank.
5' will cover Ampara and is to be led by Ramraj Narasimhan of the
UNDP. Naufer from the Pottuvil Divisional Secretariat, Najeeb from
the District Land Use Planner, Director Planning, Bawa and Lalantha
Seneviratne from the NWSDB are the government officials who will
come under the supervision and instructions of the UNDP and its
partner organisations in this district, which include JBIC, JICA,
and the Foundation for Co-Existence.
6' will cover Hambantota with USAID, UNDP and UNICEF functioning as
the "external stakeholders" to whom the varying government
departments will report and under whom they will function.
7' has been composed to oversee all government functions in Matara.
This team is led by Agnes Mendis of CIDA and will function in
partnership with Sumith Pilapitiya at the World Bank. Here too, all
government officials including Yudish Omprasadam from TAFREN will
report and follow instruction given by CIDA and the World Bank.
is to be covered by 'Team 8' led by Princess Ventura at the World
Bank, Dr. Ahaya Tissera at World Health Organisation and Hideaki
Matsuoka at UNICEF.
9' will cover Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha and Puttalam, and is led by
Tom Beloe at DFID. The
other external stakeholders are the UNDP and WHO. All divisional
secretariats including government agents and
government appointed project directors working in the four
identified districts will have to report to and work under the
supervision of these three foreign donor agencies.
slowing relief work
Thangamani's memories of the tsunami are similar to those of
countless others all over Sri Lanka. The suddenly crashing waves and
obliteration of life as it was ten minutes before.
it's all gone, the waves came and I ran, and now nothing is
here," the 43-year old told The Sunday Leader squatting on what
was left of her house on the beach in Panichchankerni, Batticaloa.
it is any consolation, hers was but one of 75,300 houses that were
smashed by the waves, according to the Department of Census and
Statistics. The chances of the figure reaching 100,000 are a very
real possibility given that the department's figure does not
tabulate the destruction in the Wanni under the control of the LTTE.
LTTE said that a sum of US $ 336 million would be needed to repair
the damages in the north east inclusive of the districts of Jaffna,
Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee. A report by the LTTE Planning
and Development Secretariat,
titled 'Post Tsunami Reconstruction - North East Needs Assessment'
said that in Mullaitivu, 5433 houses were fully or partially
destroyed and in Kilinochchi the figure was 246.
the 75,300 houses that were damaged by the waves, 42,308 can not be
repaired. Two weeks back the government announced that it would pay
a total package of Rs. 750,000 per house, inclusive of loans to
rebuild houses. If the calculation is right, then the government
would have to be ready to accommodate an expenditure of Rs 31.5
billion for housing costs alone. The advertisement said that the
government would provide Rs. 100,000 per partially damaged house and
Rs. 250,000 per fully damaged house.
government advertisement said that "'the proposed houses will
be located in urban and rural settlements which will be provided
with infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation,
recreation facilities and road systems." The government also
said that it will build houses to the extent of 500 square feet free
of charge. All these would be added expenditure on top of what was
is a massive undertaking
and it is just part of the deal. There are 33,330 houses that were
damaged but which have been declared repairable, the costs for the
repairs would have to be borne or at least facilitated by the
government if they go above the Rs. 100,000 mark.
longer the displaced remain in temporary camps, higher the costs for
their upkeep. According to relief workers, most cannot think of
regaining any employment till the housing issue is taken care of.
Those like Pradeep Thilan of Tangalle say that they can only think
of work on the beach where they worked as fishermen. But the
government ruling on the 100 metre buffer zone has meant that his
future remains in limbo.
survey carried out by the World Food Programme and the International
Labour Organisation in January found that only 1% of the households
in the tsunami affected areas were now depending on fisheries for
income. Before December 26, 2004 it was 37%.
on health and sanitation
the camps, the health and sanitary situation needs constant
attention, according to the latest assessment reports compiled by UN
agencies. The findings of a joint survey conducted by UNICEF, WFP
and the Medical Research Institute show that despite the lack of
disease, alarm bells are ringing in the camps.
survey found -
than two-thirds of under five year olds were suffering from acute
respiratory infections and nearly one in five children had
latrines were generally available in the camps, they were used by
only 25% of the population which is made up of displaced from
fishing communities with a low tradition of latrine use;
the general food distribution for adults is adequate, children do
not get appropriate supplementary food;
- a blended food rich in micronutrients is only available to 14% of
children under five years old. Corn Soya Blend although available
with WFP in adequate quantities at the national level, has not yet
been distributed due to logistical delays and the need for WFP to
train health workers in distribution and monitoring;
Vitamin A capsules are readily available in the country, only 23% of
children received Vitamin A supplements.
also said that 16% of the children in camps suffered from
malnutrition, up from a national figure of 14%. "The prevalence
of acute malnutrition in the east (19.8%) and west (18.1%) were
higher compared to the north (12.7%) and south (12.8%)."
WFO said that it would be adding a further 120,000 children to the
school nutrition programme. Children receive a snack while at school
under the programme, which covered
160,000 children before the tsunami. "WFP will begin
distributing corn-soya blended food to 200,000 "vulnerable
group" members and to 112,000 mothers and infants. In May or
June, WFP will assist 277,000 people to rebuild roads and other
local infrastructure in the affected areas, the WFP said last week.
also said that there was a need to look at the supply of drinking
water and latrine facilities in the Districts of Ampara, Batticaloa,
Trincomalee and Galle on the basis of 100 litres per day for a
family and one latrine per 20 persons. In Batticaloa, Ampara and
Trincomalee the supply was below 50 litres per family while in Galle
it was 65 litres.
the agency reported that there has been a proliferation of latrines
in camps in Jaffna, Trincomalee, and Mullaitivu (one per every two
families) leading to fears of ground water pollution.
seven health facilities were either fully or partially damaged in
the tsunami. Of that 42 were completely damaged and 45 partially
damaged. According to statistics maintained by the Health Ministry
the preliminary assessments, a total of Rs. 67 billion would be
needed to restore the damaged health facilities. The health sector
also suffered loss of medicine and equipment. "The total loss
of consumables and non-consumables can be estimated as Rs.
172,939,407 or US $ 1.73 million. Damages to the consumables and the
non-consumables in the affected government health institutions need
to be rectified," a report titled Restoration Of Health
Facilities Destroyed by Tsunami 9.0, released by the Ministry said.
LTTE report said that US $ 55 million was needed for the repair and
reconstruction of health facilities in the north east.
hundred and eighty schools were damaged by the waves, according to
UNICEF which has undertaken the repair of 17 such schools.
second batch of school supplies has been ordered and will be
delivered in the coming weeks. Orders have been made for an
additional 3,000 desks and 7,000 chairs. An order has also been made
for 175,000 metres of white school uniform material. This material
together with the blue material already in stock (used for boys'
shorts and trousers) will be enough to stitch uniforms for
approximately 100,000 additional children. UNICEF has already
provided uniform material for an estimated 107,000 children,"
UNICEF situation report for February 28 said.
however assessed that school attendance in the affected areas were
satisfactory other than in Jaffna. "In the UNICEF report of
February 21, attendance was estimated at 70% in Batticaloa, 80% in
Hambantota, 80% in Matara, and 90% in the non-affected schools and
55% in the relocation sites of Jaffna. This week, UNICEF reports
school attendance at around 80% for Akkaraipattu and Kalmunai zones
in the Ampara District. In Galle, attendance has increased to
government three weeks back started
strictly monitoring the work of NGOs and applying customs
duty on supplies. The latest United Nations Joint Logistics
Centre Bulletin said that bureaucracy was slowing down relief work.
"All humanitarian agencies continue to experience delays in
clearing relief commodities through customs at Bandaranaike
International Airport and Colombo Port. According to government
sources it has been forced to impose the usual duties on commodities
consigned to NGOs to prevent misuse of aid flowing into the country
by local businesses, trying to bring in goods for commercial use
disguised as tsunami aid. The UNHCR, together with other UN
agencies, has approached the government to push for a swift
resolution of the matter," the bulletin said.
the government has moved to monitor the NGOs and other agencies
which appear to be carrying out the bulk of the relief and
reconstruction work, it is yet to tabulate the nationwide figures of
the tsunami damage.
WFO has had to readjust its operation schedule due to slack work
carried out by the government. "The government is still in the
process of registering tsunami affected people and has issued more
cash/food coupons to the affected population (bringing the total
issued so far to about 950,000). Discussions with the government
have been initiated to resolve the situation, as WFP is concerned
that not all registered people are in need of food aid.
the government is unlikely to be able to resolve the situation in
the immediate term, WFP will most likely not be able to shift to
targeted recovery activities before May 2005," the WFP's latest
fisherfolk take matters into their own hands
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
reigns supreme in Kalmunai, the worst affected from the
December 26, 2004 tsunami, over the 200-metre buffer zone.
of Kalmunai last week staged a protest on the delay in setting
up temporary shelters - which did not include tents - and the
building of houses 200 metres from the coastline.
group of displaced persons blocked roads and cooked on the
main highway as a mark of protest against the government's
lethargy in delivering aid to the worst affected areas.
fisherfolk in the area, which forms a majority of the eastern
coastal population have expressed their concern over being
relocated, due to the impact it would have on their
last week's protest, the people in Kalmunai handed several
proposals to the Ampara government agent (GA) in a bid to find
solutions to some of their grievances.
Ampara, H. M. Herath Abeyweera observed that most of the
proposals forwarded by the protesting villagers were
reasonable and acceptable.
told The Sunday Leader that the main proposal handed over to
him by the protesters was to locate the houses of the
fishermen immediately after the 200-metre boundary.
explained that the fishermen have accepted the buffer zone,
but have requested for priority when allocating the newly
constructed houses on the buffer boundary.
to the GA, the others will be housed in a nearby marshland.
he noted that according to regulations, temporary buildings
like tents and shacks are permitted to be put up on the
coastline within the buffer zone.
regulation has further compounded matters for the fishermen as
they do not know the government's definition of a temporary
said that fishermen could put up huts for their ice storage
rooms. According to Mohideen Ajmal who owns a fish stall in
Kalmunai right by the beach, he is yet to be informed as to
whether his stall is considered a temporary shelter or a
from the buffer zone and the temporary structures, his
grievances also included the delay in receiving aid promised
by the government.
in Kalmunai are yet to receive aid from the government,"
he said. Ajmal pointed out that most of the fishermen in the
area have returned to their livelihoods by obtaining personal
waited for more than two months and since they did not get any
help from the government, they have taken loans to get back on
their feet," he said.
reiterating that the grievances of the fishermen were
reasonable, said that he had requested the villagers to form a
forum with a leader in order to streamline communication with
number of affected people:
number of houses completely destroyed:
27,870 (excluding the Wanni)
number of houses damaged and can not be repaired:
14,438 (excluding the Wanni)
number of houses where damages can be repaired:
33,330 (excluding the Wanni)
number of houses damaged or destroyed in Kilinochchi and
Mullaitivu Districts (Wanni):
number of schools in need of repair : 187
number of health facilities completely destroyed:
number of health facilities partially destroyed:
: UN/government agencies, LTTE
strategy to sideline Mahinda
could be said that events that unfolded on the political stage last
week will decide the fate of things to come in the next few months.
Much of what took place had little to do with any of the opposition
parties and was confined to the already fiery conflict within the
column last week revealed how the battle between the two UPFA
presidential aspirants was hotting up, with Tourism Minister and
First Brother Anura Bandaranaike calling together SLFP organisers
and members of the Gampaha District and having them demand that a
Bandaranaike be named the SLFP's presidential candidate. Since then,
the conflict between Bandaranaike and Premier Mahinda Rajapakse has
only been getting worse.
SLFP's youth convention was held on March 2. It was one of the most
successful in the party's history, and the Maharagama Youth Council
auditorium was filled to capacity with young men and women. As soon
as Prime Minister Rajapakse entered the premises, the entire
gathering exploded with applause for the popular politician, who was
also to be presented with an award for his service to the SLFP.
Chandrika Kumaratunga arrived much later. As soon as the Premier's
name was announced on the public address system as the recipient of
this special award, the meeting erupted again with applause, cheers
and whistles for Rajapakse. As Rajapakse came up to accept his award
from President Kumaratunga, she leaned over and said - "Now
they are whistling at you also." The Premier just smiled and
kept mum. No doubt the weight of her words were not lost on
Rajapakse, given the conflict within the SLFP about who was to be
nominated the party's next presidential candidate.
two days later (March 4), President Kumaratunga summoned all SLFP
district leaders to President's House. The first issue to be
discussed at the meeting was the restructuring of the SLFP. As if
planned beforehand, Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera brought an
urgent motion before those gathered, as a result of which the entire
tone of the meeting changed.
Samaraweera's point was that it was useless restructuring the party
or holding conventions unless the most pressing decisions facing the
party were made. After those decisions are made, how to restructure
the party can be discussed, he said. "There are two huge issues
the party is facing today. That is whether or not we are going to
field a candidate for the next presidential poll and whether we are
going to change the constitution. If we are going to change the
constitution, how is that going to be done and when? If we are
nominating a candidate on the other hand, it has to be done
immediately. There is no point talking about anything else without
sorting these two matters out first," the Minister said.
eyes had by now turned on Prime Minister Rajapakse. Unable to fully
grasp what was about to happen, Rajapakse too began to look around
helplessly. Even the President, perhaps unaware that such a topic
was to be raised at this forum, said nothing.
only ones to raise their voices at all were Colombo District
Organiser Mervyn Silva and Samurdhi Minister Pavithra Wanniaarachi.
"The President has to stay in power! She must also be the
leader of the party! We don't want a presidential election! Let's
change the constitution and make her prime minister," they
yelled almost in tandem. Samaraweera joined in to say that whatever
was going to be done had to be done soon and therefore plans had to
be made. He said that during the SLFP executive committee meeting on
March 11, decisions had to be taken on the matter and put into
action as soon as possible.
Anura Bandaranaike who has made no bones about his presidential
aspirations called for the abolition of the executive presidency at
the meeting. Interrupting all these tirades were the Premier.
"I am in no way opposed to the abolition of the presidency. But
it has to be done in a way that is acceptable to the people.
Otherwise we won't be able to walk on the roads in peace. We
gathered the civil society organisations together and called for the
abolition of the presidency. Having done that, we forgot about all
those who had rallied around us when we made this call and went on a
political journey all our own. So if we're going to do this now, it
must be made very clear to the people that we are not doing it for
some petty political gain," Rajapakse pointed out.
added that if the executive presidency was to be abolished at all,
it should be done only in the interest and at the behest of the
people of this country. "It can't be done just because someone
is in a hurry," the Premier said.
President Kumaratunga agreed with Rajapakse. "The Prime
Minister is right. Proposals should not be made and approved in a
hurry," the President said, adding that if the presidency was
to be abolished, discussions with civil society organisations
beforehand were imperative. Despite the somewhat anti-climactic
ending to the discussions that day, the events at President's House
that day only further fuelled the existing controversy regarding the
forthcoming presidential poll and the SLFP's candidate for that
to the constitution of the SLFP, before the party convention is
held, its executive committee has to meet and confirm proposals and
recommendations to be presented at the convention. Therefore it was
decided that the proposals to be presented at the SLFP convention on
Friday, March 11 be confirmed at the ex-co meeting to be held
usual, President Chandrika Kumaratunga held several rounds of
discussions prior to the convention. The aim of these discussions
was to ensure that proposals about abolishing the executive
presidency and changing the constitution would be approved by the
party at large at the convention. The proposals were to be presented
in order to avoid the issue of naming a presidential candidate at
many of the ministers close to the President told her that if she
stuck with tradition and called an ex-co meeting, there was a good
chance that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's name would be
nominated and confirmed as the SLFP's next presidential candidate.
They told the President that if such a nomination took place, it
would be difficult to control the situation or avoid it in any way.
And so President Kumaratunga decided on Monday (7) to break with
tradition and hold the convention without having an ex-co meeting
beforehand and informed SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena
of her decision.
move for a referendum
seems that everytime the President addresses a public gathering
these days, the political arena is shaken to its core. Last week was
no different. Speaking at the SLFP's Women's Day meeting on Tuesday
(8), President Chandrika Kumaratunga informed the gathering that a
referendum was on the cards.
President said at the meeting that the referendum should be held in
order to ascertain the peoples' views on a federal solution to the
ethnic conflict. But it had several people questioning the hidden
motives of holding such a referendum for various lesser known
analysts and observers are beginning to venture various opinions as
to why the President wants to call a referendum at this juncture.
Political insiders say that the referendum is part of a far more
elaborate political plan.
few days before she made the speech, President Kumaratunga summoned
several ministers and legal experts to President's House. She
inquired from them how they should go about changing the
constitution. They responded that while the executive presidency
should be abolished, a referendum at this point would be
detrimental, since it would give the people the impression that the
President and her government were merely power-hungry. The best
method, the legal experts advised, was to subtly get the UNP also to
support moves to abolish the presidency.
legal experts were of the opinion that the referendum if held,
should be based on the question of whether a federal system was an
acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict, while the issue of the
abolition of the presidency should be weaved in as a secondary
issue. They said that after this was done and the Supreme Court
consulted, the constitution could be appropriately changed.
was based on this advice that the President fired her first
referendum salvo on March 8, causing heated debate and controversy
in various political circles. Now the issue on everybody's mind is
what the President's next move is going to be. Several political
parties began discussions on her statement. The UNP decided that if
the issue of abolishing the presidency was woven into the federal
system issue at a referendum, the people should be mobilised against
this move. The JVP meanwhile, which has remained stoically against a
federal solution, decided that if a referendum was called seeking
the approval of the people, the party should defeat the motion from
within the government and then oust President Kumaratunga from the
pledge to sideline Norway
even the UNP met to discuss the President's latest statement about a
referendum, the decisions reached at the JVP's politburo meeting
proved the most crucial. JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe chaired
the meeting held on Wednesday (9) which included members of the
JVP's central committee as well.
the meeting, Amarasinghe made a special announcement about the state
of the conflict between the JVP and President Kumaratunga. "We
have not got an appointment to meet the President at all. So we
decided to deal with Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who helped us so
much to form the alliance," Amarasinghe said, introducing the
Foreign Minister as the JVP's champion from now on. He said that
although the President was on a different tack, Kadirgamar was doing
a great job as foreign minister. Amarasinghe added that the results
dealing with Kadirgamar was yielding were also good.
Kadirgamar and I met and had long discussions. He gave us a
guarantee that Norway would not be allowed to continue in its role
in the peace process. That's not all, he said that he would in no
way allow for the peace process to proceed in a manner that goes
against the UPFA's original policies."
continued to detail Kadirgamar's virtues. "If Kadirgamar says
something he keeps his word. Today the President is like an outdated
coin. Remember that her term is ending soon too. Whatever statements
she makes, if we make sure that the mechanisms required to implement
those policies are defunct, her hands will be tied. If we do this
right, her big plans will be merely confined to words,"
Amarasinghe explained. The JVP Leader added that the JVP had no
cause to fear losing control of governance right now. The only
foreseeable problem, he said was if the President dissolved
parliament in April or holds a referendum. "There is nothing
else the President can do," Amarasinghe added saying further
that since the JVP had begun restructuring in anticipation of her
attacks on them, there was nothing to fear from her.
JVP Leader went on to say that the coming months will prove crucial
for the country and the JVP. He advised his party cadres to act with
responsibility at this time. Amarasinghe said that without taking
any notice of the President as either the Head of State or the
leader of the UPFA, the JVP should work as a party, he suggested, a
recommendation that was immediately ratified by the politburo. But
on Thursday, March 10, the President having got wind of the
developments, instructed Kadirgamar not to have any more official
meetings with the JVP.
- Dilan battle hots up
battle between Media Minister Mangala Samaraw- eera and Deputy
Minister Dilan Perera has been a peripheral conflict in the overall
UPFA crisis. Last week, this column highlighted the beginnings of
this cold war between Samaraweera and Perera, once staunch allies.
Sinhala weekly in an article published last weekend criticised
Deputy Minister Perera so severely that the Deputy Ministers' Forum
decided to hold an inquiry into the matter. Having seen the article,
Perera called up the President immediately. He informed Kumaratunga
that since the article was highly suspicious, he would be looking
Deputy Ministers' Forum soon found out details about the publication
of the derogatory article. The forum submitted a comprehensive
report to Perera, including from where the article was supplied to
the newspaper and the journalist involved.
According to the report, the instructions to draft the
article had come straight out of JVP Parliamentary Group Leader
Wimal Weerawansa's official MP's residence in Madiwela. Weerawansa
had been supplied various details by Minister Samaraweera's office
at the Ports Ministry according to the report. The report included
details about how the journalist to write the article was hand
picked, the instructions he was given, the journalist's background
and everything he had been upto in the recent past. According to the
report, the same journalist had written a derogatory article about
the President and her involvement in a Ports Ministry transaction,
apparently at the behest of another businessman with vested
interests. Perera also had in his possession details of the alleged
rewards the journalist was getting in return for writing the story.
getting hold of the report, Perera's first move was to hand it over
to the President. He has also decided to file legal action against
up a Rupavahini news division head the same day, Perera informed him
that he was sending the station a letter responding to the article
that had appeared and asked that it be broadcast on the 8 p.m. news
bulletin that evening.
the battle between Samaraweera and Perera, Weerawansa is obviously
on Samaraweera's side. Perhaps
this is because of the JVP MP's close ties to Samaraweera's advisor,
Ruwan Ferdinandes. Either way, the Deputy Ministers' Forum has
decided to go in-depth into the conspiracy to defame Perera and take
appropriate action against these moves.
roll at Rupavahini
tussle over the Media Ministry and the battle of wits between
President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Media Minister Mangala
Samaraweera was sizzling last week and could not be kept under wraps
any longer. Samaraweera has been a long-time ally of President
Kumaratunga and one of her chief political protectors. As a result
of this co-dependence, both their political futures received a
boost. But with the recent estrangement between them, largely owing
to the JVP factor, what twists and turns their political careers
will take remain uncertain.
week, both Director General, Rupavahini and Deputy Minister Dilan
Perera met President Kumaratunga and informed her that the Media
Ministry was being manipulated totally according to the whims of the
JVP. The accusing fingers were all cast at Samaraweera-confidant,
Ruwan Ferdinandes, whose links to the JVP are strong. Both Perera
and Ranatunga alleged that through Ferdinandes, JVP Propaganda
Secretary Wimal Weerawansa had practically taken over the operation
of state media.
result of this was that within hours, Ranatunga and Ferdinandes
received instructions from the Presidential Secretariat to remove
Acting News Director, Kulasiri Kariyawasam from his post.
is the brother of the Editor of the JVP newspaper Lanka, Dharmasri
Kariyawasam. Dharmasri Kariyawasam too has been lately involved in
coordinating several programmes on Rupavahini. But the Presidential
instructions were firm. Both Kariyawasams were to have no further
hand in manipulating Rupavahini according to the wishes of the JVP.
Ranatunga proceeded to remove the Samaraweera allies from Rupavahini,
the Minister was laying down plans of his own. Samaraweera informed
the President that former Coordinating Secretary to Professor G.L.
Peiris, Janaka Ranatunga had been given a high position at
Rupavahini. Again the Presidential hand was quick. Janaka Ranatunga
was to be removed from his position forthwith, the President's
office ordered. The order was given this time to Secretary, Media
Ministry W.B. Ganegala. However, since Ganegala is currently on an
overseas visit, it will remain to be seen how he puts the
Presidential order into action upon his return.
the god that failed
leaders think they know what the people think and want. If not they
wouldn't be political leaders. President Chandrika Kumaratunga knows
it all, as is evident from her perorations delivered ever so often
to the masses.
Monday, addressing the SLFP Women's League on International Women's
Day, she was at her rhetorical best. The former revolutionary girl
from the Paris barricades of the 1960s struck a Joan D'Arc posture.
She was prepared to sacrifice her life for the cause of federalism
etc, she proclaimed. This was sterling stuff for the true blue
Attanagalla womens' brigades and the like.
for those not among the convinced and certainly the sceptics and
unbelievers, it is not the singer but the song that matters. And the
theme song was that 90 per cent of the people would support
have nothing against federalism. Some of the greatest nations - big
and small- have federal forms of government such as the United
States, Russia, Germany, Switzerland etc. But whether federalism is
applicable to this country in the peculiar circumstances we are
placed in is another matter. Post-independence history has shown
that since the proposal of federalism was mooted, it has been
treated as an F - letter word by a great majority of the people in
this country. It is still considered by many as the panacea for all
our political ills but it has been opposed strongly by the people.
It has been a god that failed.
Kumaratunga did not, as usual, adduce reasons for her conclusion
that federalism was the panacea to all ills or as we Sri Lankans say
the 'kokatath thailaya.' Perhaps her reasoning was that since she
supported federalism, her arch rival Ranil Wickremesinghe too was
for federalism, the old leftist parties too were for federalism and
certainly the Tamil parties are for it, there was 90 per cent
support for this form of government. Only her revolutionary
colleagues from the JVP and the Buddhist monks' party, the JHU,
would object, she may have surmised.
the flaw in this line of thinking is that in this country, on racial
and religious issues, supporters by and large do not follow their
leaders. This is evident from history. Federalism has been
considered a stepping stone for the establishment of a separate
Tamil state and Tamil leaders who formed the Federal Party have been
quite open about it.
Bandaranaike, the Oxford liberal who swept to power in 1956 on a
communal cry of 'Sinhala-only' on assuming power tried to make
amends one year later with the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact,
which provided for autonomous regional councils in Tamil areas. He
was compelled to tear up this agreement under mounting public
protests by the Sinhalese.
continued to repeat itself down the years. There was the Dudley -
Chelvanayakam Pact that met a similar fate and since then the 13th
Amendment under the J.R. Jayewardene government for the
establishment of provincial councils under the Indo-Sri Lanka
Agreement. Despite this legislation having the backing of the
regional power, India, as well as most of the world powers, it
failed to reach fruition and only part of its facets have been
recent times there was President Chandrika Kumar- atunga attempting
to implement her 'devolution package' but failing to do so. She was
later forced to dissolve parliament and go to the polls. Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with his ceasefire agreement was able
to halt the 20-year old conflict, but he was defeated at the April
2, 2004 parliamentary elections because of allegations that he had
conceded too much to the LTTE.
Kumaratunga addressing her women's brigades at the Vihara Maha Devi
Park had vowed that she would not turn back from her decision to go
ahead with federalism even at the risk of her life. She said she was
prepared to hold an election or referendum on a federal solution and
that she was confident of victory because many other parties would
proposal of holding a referendum is indeed welcome because this
question of a federal solution has been subject to long debate but
never put to the people. Such a referendum is of necessity
particularly with regard to the Eastern Province where Sinhalese,
Tamils and Muslims are in near-equal numbers. The grave problem is
to hold a free and fair election with the LTTE, which governs by the
bullet and not the ballot. Even international monitors may not be
able to ensure free and fair polling as was evident in recently held
the international community, the Sri Lanka government, NGOs etc. are
all ga- ga about a federal solution, the vital question is whether
Velupillai Pirapaharan wants such a solution. His ISGA proposals
drawn in Dublin with the assistance of his 'constitutional experts'
make no reference at all to a federal solution - short term or long
term. The ISGA as we have said before is a blue-print for a separate
state. An analysis of LTTE moves and counter moves during the past
two decades indicate that what they need is not a federal state, but
a separate state.
the past few years, well meaning and not so well meaning foreign
powers and NGOs sent Sri Lankans to various parts of the globe to
observe federal governments in operation. Amongst those given free
jaunts there were many LTTE cadres who for the first time came out
of the Wanni jungles, discarded their jungle fatigues and put on
lounge suits. All that is well and good. But on their return do we
hear of them waxing eloquent of democratic federal governments at
work in the West?
be fair by LTTE cadres, even those from the democratic stream of
politics, some of them Colombo 7, did go on study tours. But they do
not seem to have been impressed too much about federalist forms of
government and have remained dumb. In this blessed isle, who can
resist the temptation of a free ticket to go abroad with board and
thinking is that federalism is the sure cure for the political ills
of this small country. There are a few constitutional lawyers and
intellectuals who think otherwise. The Sinhalese masses have opposed
a federal state for the north and east for the simple reason that
they consider it the first step towards the formation of a
separate Tamil State, and uniting with Tamil Nadu - that has now a
60 million populace - in the near future.
Chandrika Kumaratunga wants to hold a referendum, she should be
encouraged to do so. But this referendum should be on an all-island
basis because more Tamils live outside the north and east today. The
federal solution could then be decided on once and for all time.
the federal solution is rejected by the people, will Chandrika
Kumaratunga bow out of politics?