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21th August, 2005  Volume 12, Issue  6

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

Kadi - A man destined to achieve glory

By D. B. S. Jeyaraj

Independence dawned for Sri Lanka then Ceylon on February 4, 1948. The union jack was lowered and the national flag raised at the stroke.......

More...


 Top Issues Stories

  > The cost of folly

  > Secret pact with the JVP (....Pot Shots)

  > TIGERS ADMIT INABILITY TO COUNTER KARUNA THREAT


Kadi - A man destined to achieve glory

Late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar

By D. B. S. Jeyaraj

Independence dawned for Sri Lanka then Ceylon on February 4, 1948. The union jack was lowered and the national flag raised at the stroke of midnight. Even as the flag fluttered proudly four young atheletes carrying flaming torches entered the square and ran up the steps of Independence Hall. Together they lit the lamp of freedom. The quartet comprised members of the four major communities of the island. The 16-year old youth representing the Tamils was Lakshman Kadirgamar.

That instance may not have been the proudest moment in Lakshman's life as he was destined to achieve glory in many spheres of life. But on that day as a new nation made its tryst with destiny, Kadirgamar played a role that he never ever played again.

He was a Tamil

The Tamils perceived themselves jubilantly then as an integral part of the country. Lakshman Kadirgamar personified the Tamil people in that ceremony. He was a Tamil and he was Ceylonese (Sri Lankan). There was no conflict here. In later years this harmony was ruined as the serpent of racism entered the garden of Eden. Kadirgamar himself was to be caught up later in this dilemma of ethnicity and nationality and pay the supreme price.

The man who carried the torch of independence as a representative of the Tamils is a man whom the self-imposed sole representatives of the Tamil people and their minions love to hate. So intense is their hatred that the name Kadirgamar itself is featured in Tiger and pro-Tiger discourse as a word for traitor. Ettappan who betrayed Kattabhomman to the British, Kakkai Vanniyan who betrayed Sankiliyan to the Portuguese were words used to depict traitors earlier. In recent times the assassinated Jaffna Mayor Duraiappa's name was used. Nowadays they use Kadirgamar. Now that they have killed him another thurogi has to be discovered and vilified.

The name Kadirgamar is unique to Sri Lankan Tamils. Lord Muruga or Skanda in Kathirgamam or Kataragama is the most sacred place of Hindu worship in Sri Lanka. Names such as Kadirgamar, Kathirga- manathan, Kathirgamathamby, Kathirgamasegaram etc., are derived from the deity of Kathirgamam. Names like these are seldom found in Tamil Nadu. It is indeed interesting that a name like Kadirgamar should be borne by some members of the Christian faith in Sri Lanka. This is because some Tamils continued to retain their Tamil 'Hinduistic' names even after conversion. Others took on English and American names as surnames.

Protestant Christian

Lakshman Kadirgamar belonged to a Protestant Christian family of Jaffna Tamil Vellala origin. The founder of this Christianised Kadirgamar family was a native of Puloly West called Karthigeyan Kadirgamar. His staunch Hindu family renovated and was involved in managing the Point Pedro Sivan temple at one time. Karthigeyan's first cousin Eliyathamby during colonial times was an Adhigar in Batticaloa. It is said that Adhigar Road in Batticaloa was named after him.

Karthigeyan took on the name Christian after baptism but retained the Kadirgamar name. He served as the first Ceylonese Registrar - General of the Supreme Court. His wife was the daughter of Rev. Francis Ashbury of Vaddukkoddai. The Ashbury family was one of the earliest converts to Protestant Christianity in Jaffna. The Kadirgamar family through the Ashbury connection, as once asserted by Bishop Kulendran of the CSI Church can claim unbroken continuity from the first Protestant converts with the founding of the American Mission in the early decades of the 19th century.

Karthigeyan's eldest son Samuel Jebaratnam Christian (SJC) Kadirgamar was the man who established the Kadirgamar family in Colombo. He studied at S. Thomas' College travelling to Mutwal from Jaffna by boat. One of his dormitory mates was a lad called Wilson. Both found themselves quarrelling eternally. The STC warden at the time resolved it in typical English public school fashion. Both were asked to don boxing gloves and slog it out in the ring with the warden as referee. At the end of it both became firm friends for life. Both became proctors and set up the law firm Kadirgamar and Wilson in Colombo.

Christian heritage

S. J. C.  Kadirgamar married Edith Rosemand Parimalam Mather, the daughter of Edward Mather of Manipay. The Mathers were engaged in commerce and traded in imported products. Two of Lakshman's uncles were Christian ministers. The Rev.  J. W. A.  Kadirgamar on his paternal side and Rev. B. C. D.  Mather on his maternal side were pastors. This Christian heritage is something which cannot be obliterated despite Lakshman's latter day Theosophy of the Olcott variety.

Thalayasingham's residence

Incidentally the assassin or assassins using the Thalayasingham residence to snipe at Kadirgamar had carried a cricket bag with the name of Sri Lankan cricketer Russel Arnold written on it. Russel Arnold himself is a nephew of Lakshman, being the grandson of B. C. D. Mather. While talking of cricketers it may be recalled that the Thalayasinghams too were excellent cricketers at Royal. Lakshman called Thalaya captained the team in 1966 when the unbeaten Thomian team was led by Anura Tennekoon nicknamed Ataya. Lakshman's brothers Sahadevan opened batting for Royal in 1968 and Jayantha opened bowling in 1969-70.

Lakshman Kadirgamar born on April 12, 1932 the youngest of six children. The eldest S. J. C.  (Jnr.) or Sam Kadirgamar was the well known Queen's Counsel. Selvanathan or Bhai Kadirgamar, a major in the army later emigrated to the USA.

Rajan was the former Sri Lanka Navy commander. Thirumalan or Mana Kadirgamar was a planter who died early meeting with a motor accident in Dickoya. With Lakshman's death none of the brothers are now among the living. The only sibling alive is his eldest sister Eeswari who married Dr. A. M. D.  Richards.

While all his brothers were educated at Royal only Lakshman went to Trinity presumably due to the war where he studied from 1942 to 1950.

He won many awards while at Trinity including the Dr. Andreas Nell Memorial Prize for Ceylon History, Napier Clavering Prize for English and the Ryde Gold Medal for the best all round student in 1950.

In sports he got cricket colours, was cricket captain - 1950. Rugby colours - 1949. Athletics colours -1949 and Trinity Lion 1950. He came first at Public Schools, and broke the record in the 110 m hurdles (15.7 seconds) in 1949. He won the Duncan White Challenge Cup - 1949, De Soysa Challenge Cup -1949, and was senior prefect in 1949.

Excelled in sports

He entered the Peradeniya University and read for an LLB degree. While an undergrad he won the All Ceylon 110 m hurdles title in 1951 and 1952. All India Inter University 110 m hurdles title and set records at Ahamedabad in 1951 and Allahabad in 1952. He was also member of the cricket teams of the University of Ceylon and later Balliol College, University of Oxford becoming an Oxford Blue in cricket.

After getting his Bachelors Degree in law Kadirgamar passed the Advocates' final, first in order of merit. He then served as secretary to Justice E. N. A.  Gratiaen.

He later went to England becoming a Barrister of the Inner Temple and entering Balliol College Oxford.

He made history in Oxford getting elected as president of the Oxford Union. Four Sri Lankans have been presidents. They are Kadirgamar (Trinity) Athulathmudali (Royal) Noordeen (STC) and Jeyasundharie Wilson (Methodist). Jeya Wilson the only woman president from Sri Lanka is a niece of the late Prof. A. J. Wilson.

In 1958 during the communal violence Lakshman Kadirgamar when interviewed by the media said that S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was only a 'politician' and not a 'statesman' because of the violence. The next year Lakshman was instrumental in getting a portrait of S. W. R. D. hung up. The tradition is that any Union president who becomes head of state gets a bust. Since S. W. R. D.  was only treasurer of the union he got a portrait. SWRD however was assassinated a few weeks before he was to visit Oxford for the ceremony. In his absence it was left to Lakshman to do the honours.

Marriage

Many years later Lakshman Kadirgamar's portrait was unveiled at the Oxford Union on March 18, 2005 by Rt. Hon. Lord Chris Patten of Barnes CH, Chancellor of the University of Oxford. In the 183-year history of the Oxford Union he is the 15th office-bearer whose bust or portrait is displayed in the Union building. Kadirgamar was also made Hon. Master of the Inner Temple-1995 - the second Asian to be made so after former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

While at Balliol Kadirgamar married an artist, Angela Malik of French-Pakistani descent. He has two children. The daughter is Ajitha Perera now resident in Boston. She was a well-known media personality in Sri Lanka during the '80s and '90s.  Her son Keira Perera is Kadirgamar's only grandson. His son, an architect is in Sri Lanka. He was named Sriraghavan Jebaratnam Christian but is generally known as Ragee.

In later years Kadirgamar divorced his first wife. He married again in 1996. He married Suganthi Wijeysuriya, a lawyer and senior partner at the law firm FJ and G de Saram. Their wedding was a private one with Chandrika Kumaratunga and Gamani Corea being the attesting witnesses.

After returning to Sri Lanka in the '60s from Oxford, Lakshman Kadirgamar went about building a lucratic law practice. At the same time he began exploring prospects of a political career too. It is interesting to note that Kadirgamar at that time was contemplating a political future as an elected MP from the north. He was ardently wooed by both the Federal Party and Tamil Congress. Though he never joined those parties or participated in actively in politics Kadirgamar interacted closely with Tamil politicians like S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, G. G. Ponnambalam, M. Tiruchelvam, E. M. V. Naganathan, M. Balasundaram etc.

Visits to Jaffna

He also made several visits to Jaffna during this time. One objective was to rediscover his roots. Another was to scout around for a prospective electorate. Though his own family was now Colombo based there were several others of the extended Kadirgamar family in Jaffna. He was also a keen student of history and very much interested in the Jaffna kingdom. Though his pro-Tiger critics chide him as an ignoramus in the history and traditions of Jaffna, people who have heard him speak on the subject are amazed at his knowledge and insight. There are few with Kadirgamar's knowledge of Jaffna history in the Tiger camp.

During one of his Jaffna trips in the '60s Kadirgamar addressed the Jaffna YMCA on an interesting theme. His lecture was titled 'From Plato to Sirimavo'. When excerpts of that lecture were carried in newspapers Mrs. Bandaranaike was reportedly annoyed. Years later she herself telephoned Lakshman inviting him to join her daughter, President Chandrika Kumaratunga's cabinet of which the grand old lady was Prime Minister.

She added her voice then to numerous others urging Kadirgamar to enter active politics.

What led Kadirgamar to give up ideas of entering politics in the'60s and then do so 30 years later in the '90s?

To be continued


The cost of folly

By Frederica Jansz

If ever there is cause for official resignations it is now. And that resignation should come from none other than the Inspector General of Police, Chandra Fernando, as well as Lt. Col. Sarath Jayawardena, security advisor to the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

After all, it is most certainly as a result of these two men having failed miserably in their duty that Kadirgamar is today no more. Lt. Col. Sarath Jayawardena (Rtd.) is a brother to Defence Secretary, Major General Asoka Jayawardena and brother-in-law of  Suganthi Kadirgamar .

Jayawardena, the adviser

Police Chief, IGP Chandra Fernando

Jayawardena maintains his job as the late Minister's security advisor was honorary and he drew no salary at all, neither did he enjoy any perks. Lt. Col. Jayawardena is also employed by the Upali Group of Newspapers as director personnel.

There were an estimated 96 security personnel guarding Kadirgamar at any given time. Forty, from Sri Lanka's Light Infantry on a monthly basic salary of Rs. 10,000 each which would mean Rs. 400,000 a month.

In addition, there were 42 army commandos who were on a payroll of Rs. 15,000 each every month. This is apart from 'Commando Allowances' also to which these men are entitled whereby their salaries each month can range from between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000. This indicates the State paid a minimum of Rs. 630,000 for this security contingent guarding the foreign minister. 

Separately another Rs. 20,000 basic salary, a month was paid to Captain Manatunge who was in charge of the 42 army commandos.  Ten thousand rupees a month was paid also for each of the 12  personnel from the Ministerial Security Division requiring a total of Rs. 120,000 every month for these men.

So in total the government was paying a minimum of Rs. 1.2 million to security personnel every month to guard Kadirgamar. This is also apart from monies allocated for three drivers for three of the security back-up vehicles that accompanied Kadirgamar almost everywhere together with three motorcycles. There was no fuel limitation for these vehicles. Certainly one cannot discount that all these men were necessary in view of the fact that Kadirgamar was indeed a top target for the Tigers.

The issue however is this. None of these men, all supposedly trained to guard a high security target were able to prevent the assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar from a vantage point that clearly was a risk.

What retired Lt. Col Sarath Jayawardena was thinking of we don't know. These days in the aftermath of the murder he keeps his thoughts to himself. No wonder then the likes of Minister Mangala Samaraweera wants to blame the security lapse on the media.

One can only surmise that Lt. Col. Sarath Jayawardena and the men he controlled were expecting a suicide bomber to come sailing in through the front gate which they guarded so assiduously or throw him or herself at Kadirgamar's vehicle whenever he chose to speed through Sri Lanka's streets with back-up vehicles and all.

A sniper was never in the bargain of security concerns - not for the IGP nor for Lt. Col. Sarath Jayawardena. For where in the world would you get a Police Chief trying to clear himself of blame by saying that he had warned Kadirgamar a few days prior to his killing not to use his private residence and sought his 'permission' to investigate his neighbours?  Permission which the IGP claims Kadirgamar refused.

Police chief lacks spine

We have these last few weeks continued to reiterate that the Police Chief lacks spine as well as integrity and a commitment to duty - the case of Mervyn Silva and his spoilt brat being a classic example - but this last statement of the IGP indeed takes the cake. And that, is putting it mildly.

But this as the saying goes is Sri Lanka.  And while Kadirgamar's security bungled big time at great cost to this country, this will not be the last we hear of these men. They will move on. In all probability to another cock-up.

Consider.  If the government and the JVP, which is beating the war drums, with all the security at the disposal of Minister Kadirgamar could not protect him, could they possibly provide security to the average person on the streets if the ceasefire is no longer in force?

But in a country that has produced a government minister, in the guise of Mangala Samaraweera who accuses sections of the media as being responsible for Kadirgamar's killing - there is indeed but little hope for this nation.

Even as we pen these few lines the Police Department is shifting police personnel around like figures on a chess board in a vain attempt to fill two vacancies in Jaffna. One, for a Deputy Inspector General of Police and the other to sit in the seat of the murdered SSP Charles Wijeywardena.

Police officers, The Sunday Leader learns, are terrified to report for duty in the north, afraid of falling victim to a similar fate as did Charles Wijeywardena. All DIGs nominated have refused thus far, submitting varied excuses.

And now a cop who had previously served his tour of duty in a high risk area is being forced to report once more to a posting in Jaffna. SP Chandra Wakista attached to the Traffic Police is the man nominated to take over the vacancy created as a result of SSP Charles Wijeywardena being killed. Wakista had not only served previously in a conflict area in the north and east but also has a security threat on his life.

Destiny of DIG Wakista

Wakista, we learn, is planning to seek legal redress in an attempt to appeal against his proposed new posting. 

IGP Chandra Fernando said there is no necessity to appoint a DIG for Jaffna as the district currently comes under the purview of DIG Baddewela who is in charge of the entire Northern Range. The Police Chief asserted a DIG for Jaffna alone would be necessary only 'if the situation becomes serious.'

Commenting on Wakista's reluctance to begin duties in Jaffna as a replacement to the murdered SSP Charles Wijeywardena the IGP said, "If his appointment is approved by the National Police Commission there is no question about it.  He will simply have to go."


TIGERS ADMIT INABILITY TO COUNTER KARUNA THREAT

By D. B. S. JEYARAJ

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organization led by Velupillai Pirapakaran is finding it increasingly difficult to counter the politico - military threat posed by its erstwhile Eastern regional commander Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan alias "Col" Karuna. 

Despite the tough talk over  a  potential  threat to the ceasefire being imminent and the double - speak  about the activities of "para - militaries" hindering the LTTE political cadres from doing political work the reality is that the powerful tigers are feeling insecure and beleagured in the face of  increasing  risk from the Karuna factor. 

The tigers who threatened to arrange for their own security and escort in transporting political cadres from the North to East and vice versa swallowed their pride and obtained a major concession from the Government. The Government has agreed to provide security for the tigers when travelling to and from the East. Moreover the Government has also agreed to the tiger plea that security forces should  travel along with them in the vehicles in addition to providing armed escort. 

This is virtually an insurance policy to safeguard the tigers from landmines planted by the Karuna faction officially known as the "Thamil Theseeyap Padai" or Tamil National Force.  The LTTE fears being landmined even when escorted by the security forces and SLMM. So it wants security personnel to be with them in their vehicles to prevent being targeted. The security forces have been magnanimous to their pre - ceasefire foes by agreeing to provide a "human shield". 

The Tamil National Force comprises Eastern tiger cadres loyal to Karuna, ENDLF cadres led by Santhiveli Mama, PLOTE "Mohan" Group cadres, TELO "Varathan" group cadres and EPRLF "Razeek" Group cadres. They are being reorganized and retrained in the Minneriya region of Polonnaruwa district. At least 35 batches have been trained. They are formed into seven different units so far. 

As stated in these columns "Col" Karuna whose wife and children are living in a South - East Asian Country travels to  that Country and back from Sri Lanka. While staying in the South Karuna also goes up to Polonnaruwa occasionally according to informed sources. Karuna also made a trip recently to Kiran his village in Batticaloa district to pay his respects and attend the funeral of his father Vinayagamoorthy. He was given security escort.The LTTE organ "Tamil Guardian" acknowledged this in an editorial last week. 

The Tamil National Force led by Karuna is not ready to take on the LTTE in direct combat but it is capable of and has been inflicting great damage through hit and run tactics and ambushes. The LTTE as announced by  Thamilselvan, Ilanthiraiyan, Elilan, Anton Balasingham and its various media organs has "officially" withdrawn its political cadres from the littoral areas controlled by the Government troops. This move according to the "Tamil Guardian" was aimed at reducing the bloodshed. 

Even if the LTTE withdrew its "visible" political cadres its "invisible" killer squads and intelligence operatives remain striking whenever possible. Their victims are usually people suspected of helping or being members of the  Karuna group  or members of the EPDP or those who belonged to non - tiger groups earlier. This assassination spree is much less when compared to the earlier days. But this killing spree has saddened and angered the Eastern Tamil people considerably as they perceive the whole exercise not as "intra -tiger warfare" but as "fratricidal bloodshed among Eastern Tamils".Most northern cadres are withdrawn and do not get victimised. This violence is a major reason alienating the tigers from the people. Conscription of children also goes on. 

Military observers have seen a distinct difference in the operations conducted by the Karuna led Tamil National Force. It too has withdrawn many of its operatives from the town areas to the Jungles and jungle adjacent villages. But in a change of strategy the Karuna cadres have now focussed attacks on known LTTE cadres in their home territory. There have been several attacks in recent times like Aayithiyamalai, Verugal, Pendugalsenai, Karadiyanaaru, Kanchirankudah, Vavunatheevu, Kannankudah etc. Furthermore another 40 TNA men have moved into Trincomalee district and are holed up in the Eechilampathai division. 

So immense is the Karuna threat that the LTTE travels around even in areas under their control in large contingents. The big shots in the military wing  like Ram, Janarthan, Ramanan, etc are not easily accessible. Even the political wing cadres keep a low profile. There is a joke going around in Batticaloa about LTTE offices. There are three guys in each office during day. The No One will be a tiger without a limb. No Two will be a boy in late teens who will make tea and keep the office tidy. No Three will be a boy in late teens who will buy provisions and meals and run errands. No other tigers will be visible. At nighttime the office will be deserted. 

A clear example of the prevailing state of affairs in Batticaloa was seen in the "Thesiya Eluchchi" or National upsurge conference held in the town last week.It was organized by defeated Batticaloa district TNA candidate Joseph Pararajasingham who was made national list MP later.All four Batticaloa district TNA Parliamentarians attended in addition to LTTE political commissar Ilanthiraiyan.No MPs from other districts were there. Over a thousand invitations were sent to all important government servants. Since the LTTE was backing the conclave a crowd of over 5, 000 was expected. 

The Karuna faction issued a leaflet warning the people not to attend the meeting. These leaflets were openly distributed by the security forces. The conference was poorly attended. Very few Government servants were present.The crowd was estimated to be only between 1200 to 1300. It consisted of some supporters of the MP's and those brought from tiger controlled areas of the Eastern hinterland . The crowd seemed markedly apolitical and incapable of comprehending the verbose political lectures. Furthermore 350 Policemen and 90 STF men were stationed in and around the venue for protection on an explicit request by the LTTE. Around 1000 security men were detailed in and around Batticaloa town that day to protect the LTTE from Karuna. 

August 11th was the birthday of slain journalist DP Sivaram. The LTTE tried to organize a commemorative meeting for him in Batticaloa his hometown. But the move simply did not take off for fear of Karuna among Batticaloa residents. Attempts to stage a hartal for Lt. Col Tikkan some weeks ago also did not succeed. Of course the LTTE could argue that Batticaloa civilans do not support Karuna but are only terrified of possible violence. But then the same argument could be applicable to the LTTE and its methods of terror too. Gander or Goose sauce is sauce! 

If matters in the East were not very rosy for the tigers the Karuna threat has begun looming on the Northern horizon too.The Tamil National Force is setting up shop slowly in Vavuniya and Mannar districts too. Some infiltration into the tiger controlled Wanni is taking place. Three Suspected Karuna cadres were apprehended in Kilinochchi recently. Security measures within the Wanni have been strengthened. One aspect of the new changes is the deployment of "loyal" Batticaloa cadres and civilian supporters at checkposts, , sentry points and in  search parties and border patrol along with Northern cadres to help identify eastern infiltrators. A mild flutter was caused two weeks ago by the desertion of twelve Batticaloa cadres of the Jeyanthan Brigade from the Wanni. 

In this situation the LTTE realises that it is up against the wall. In a desperate gamble it is now indirectly threatening war. It is projecting an image that the Tamil people want war. It is advertising the fact that it is training civilians and making war preparations. It is conveying a not so subtle message to Colombo that one way Colombo could avert war is to hand over Karuna and his cadres to the tigers. The so called "paramilitaries" should be disarmed so that LTTE political cadres could do political work is the message. Hagrup Haukland echoes this better than any canine on an HMV lrecord could have done. 

Once again it is amazing to see how the pigs are flying in Batticaloa! The LTTE that told the Government and Norway to keep away while they go in and wipe out the "renegades" in a swift. sharp strike are now begging Oslo and Colombo to resolve the Karuna problem in their favour. The tigers who described Karuna as a single individual and madman are now depicting him as a formidable force. Of course the tigers say that Karuna would be less formidable if he was not backed by the security forces and there is much truth in that. But then this is the current situation. 

Chandrika Kumaratunga told the four co - chairs that the LTTE should give them details of where the Karuna cadres are located for them to take action. The LTTE continues to make accusations that Karuna cadres are housed in military camps but will not reveal details. Even their much flaunted intelligence wing has no information to divulge. One reason could be that there are no cadres in the camps.The tigers even want security forces to go after Karuna or help the LTTE go after him. 

It cannot ever be forgotten that the first Tamil militant group to align itself with the Sri Lankan armed forces and ruthlessly massacre members of other Tamil groups was the LTTE. This they did during the Indian Army period. Thousands of Tamil youths were killed and camps destroyed in the North - East in 1989 - 90.

Jayantha Dhanapala however has ruled out any question of the security forces going after Karuna. Moreover the government is not obliged to go after Karuna because his force did not exist at the time of the ceasefire. All paramilitaries in existence at the time of the CFA were disbanded. The tigers then went on murdering them and other unarmed political operatives. It appears that the Government will keep aloof from the intra - tiger strife. After all the LTTE wanted no interference in what was termed as its internal matter earlier. It is best that Colombo follow that wisdom. 

But for the LTTE it is indeed a comedown to accept the Karuna factor as formidable reality and solicit Colombo's aid to contain that threat. The  threat of going to war to curb Karuna will not wash. If it is open war then Karuna will be legitimised and engaged in combat. The balance of forces will be against the LTTE and the final outcome dicey.This may not be a good risk to take.The LTTE that did not want to even refer to Karuna by name at one stage has now reached a level of limited acceptance. It is now admitting its inability to counter the Karuna threat under prevailing circumstances. 

When Karuna rebelled those having the long term interests of the Tamil people at heart advised the LTTE to resolve the problem witout bloodshed and even tried to help make peace. The cocksure tigers rejected it and unleashed violence. They thought they were on top but a resilient Karuna is now hitting back with "help". The LTTE will only plunge itself into further crisis if it continues to solve this issue through violence. In the long run the Tamils will be undermined in the East. The North - East linkage will be no more.The Jffna - Batticaloa divide will be cemented. 

The only way out for the LTTE is for the tigers to swallow their arrogance and accept the reality of Karuna. He should be recognized as a separate entity by Colombo and Kilinochchi. Karuna and his followers should be brought in to a separate tripartite ceasefire facilitated by Oslo. Thereafter Karuna should be brought into the mainstream as a politico - military force and encouraged on the path of democratic politics.The tactic of using Karuna as the "running dogs of war" must cease. 

Given the experience of all other disarmed Tamil groups at tiger hands after the ceasefire it would be naive to expect Karuna to lay down arms. Karuna can lay down arms only when Pirapakaran lays down arms. But a non - confrontational mode of co - existence could be realised in the interim. For this the LTTE must accept reality and mend fences with Karuna. If the tigers are unwilling as they are most likely to be the Eastern fratricide will continue.Whether the LTTE or Karuna gains the upper hand does not matter because the ultimate sufferer will be the "Kilakkuth Thamilar" in particular and the "Thamilinam" in general. 


Secret pact with the JVP

The top secret closed-door meeting at Minister Mangala Samara-weera's residence between the Premier and the JVP, which even the President was not privy to, remained so only for a few hours after it ended.

A powerful deputy minister close to the President received a call about the secret meeting just hours after its conclusion.

During the telephone conversation it was revealed that the President has been informed of the meeting and she needed more information on the JVPers who attended it and the times the SLFP MPs left parliament to attend the meeting.

The directions from President's House to the deputy minister was for him to find the time the SLFP MPs left the parliamentary complex.

Accordingly, the deputy minister walked to the MPs entrance with the list of names of SLFP ministers and MPs given to him by the President's House and recorded the times each SLFPer left parliament that day. He then forwarded the list with the times to the President.

President irked

Although the President was not privy to the goings on at the meeting, she was informed that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Deputy Minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundera and several representatives of the JVP took part at a meeting at Minister Mangala Samaraweera's residence.

The President was irked by the fact that she was not informed of the meeting and she was also informed by Ministers Maithripala Sirisena and Anura Bandaranaike that they too were in the dark about the meeting at Samaraweera's residence.

However, that night, a powerful minister close to the President was informed by a businessman in Singapore that the Premier and the JVP had come to an agreement at the secret meeting held in the morning.

The businessman had further observed that the SLFP delegation led by the Premier had even agreed to abort the P-TOMS on the request made by the JVP.

At the end of the conversation, the minister informed the President of the details. He also asked the President whether she was aware that such a discussion had taken place in the morning, to which the President responded in the affirmative.

The minister told the President the name of the businessman in Singapore who had divulged the information to him and on hearing the news, the President said those involved in the meeting were trying to play games with her.

Not stopping at that, the President started to dig for more information on the matter.

The divisions within the SLFP with regard to the impending alliance came to light in all its intensity at the parliamentary debate on the P-TOMS. The debate itself was requested by the JVP.

Ploy

The day prior to the debate, the President informed the Deputy Ministers Forum to support her stance and attack the JVP. It was also a ploy to see who in the party would be disturbed by such an attack.

The President needed to know who would stop the JVP from being attacked.

As the President planned, following the age old adage of the cat jumping out of the bag, when Deputy Ministers Dilan Perera and Mahindananda Aluthgamage began their verbal attack on the JVP, it was the Prime Minister and the latest kapuwa in trying to form an alliance between the JVP and the SLFP, Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, who looked most disturbed.

They were so disturbed that they quickly took Aluthgamage to the government lobby.

"The President risked her life to sign this agreement, but today Wimal Weerawansa is going all over the country criticising her. We are protecting our party policies. I'm not interested in protecting individuals and what is the problem if I attack the JVP anyway?" questioned Aluthgamage.

"I'm going to tell you a secret. We have already come to a secret agreement with the JVP. We want Mahinda to win and if you attack the JVP at this debate, it will be detrimental to our alliance," Sooriyaarachchi said.

Sooriyaarachchi's 'secret' increased Aluthgamage's anger and he responded harshly, saying, "How can you people form an alliance on your own? We are also members of the same party. Do the President and Anura Bandaranaike know about this? Why are you people involved in such dirty politics? The President has chosen Rajapakse even above her own brother. How dare you people do something like this?"

Secret revealed

Hearing Aluthgamage's voice raised in anger, several deputy ministers made their way towards the duo. They too were informed of Sooriyaarachchi's 'secret.'

However, Aluthgamage said that he would not stop attacking the JVP, adding he would ask the Premier about the so-called pact the SLFP has made with the JVP.

Sooriyaraachchi at this point requested Aluthgamage to lower his voice, which was not heeded by the shouting Deputy Minister, who after informing several other deputy ministers of the latest finding marched to the Prime Minister's office in parliament and asked him whether he was holding secret meetings with the JVP without informing the President and Anura Bandaranaike.

The Premier, who was visibly shaken, realised there was a large crack appearing within the SLFP, and said he had not formed any pact with the JVP.

Aluthgamage, who calmed down after hearing the Premier's words, informed him that if such an alliance is to be formed, it should be done with the approval of the party.

By this time, the President was informed of the latest happenings in parliament.

Since their plan of finding the JVP supporters was successful, the deputy ministers walked back to the chamber and took their seats in the government benches.

News of the exchange of words had reached the rest of the government representatives, opposition MPs and even parliamentarians not present at the chamber at the time.

A little while later, Mervyn Silva walked in to the chamber to hear a JVP MP speaking at the debate, who unleashed a scathing attack on the President. Silva, who heard this, started to throw his arms and shout at the JVP.

Witnessing this scenario, Sooriyaarachchi quickly sat behind Silva and began saying something to him.

"What are you saying?" Silva questioned and Sooriyaarachchi's response was for him to stop attacking the JVP.

Sripathi helpless

Silva, visibly angered by the statement said, "Are you asking me not to defend the President? If someone is attacking my leader, I would not shut up and sit down."

Sooriyaarachchi continued pleading with Silva to stop the attack.

"Come on Mervyn," cheered the opposition MPs at this point.

Sooriyaarachchi helplessly walked out of the chamber to the opposition lobby and remained in the lobby until Silva walked out and went up to him and held his hands.

"What have you done? I told you for your own good," Sooriyaa-rachchi said.

However, Silva, who was still annoyed shook his hands and continued to shout.

"I don't approve of this conspiracy to tarnish the President. You people should know to stand by her," Silva said.

The parliamentary proceedings that day brought to light the divisions with the SLFP and at the end of the day, a sulking Sooriyaara-chchi was seen going back to his ministry.

 

Divisions within the SLFP

With temperatures rising as the presidential election draws near, divisions within the SLFP too have begun to appear and ironically it was the state media that showed the first signs of the divisions.

It all happened in the wake of the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

The day after the assassination, Saturday, Independent Television Network (ITN), a state institution functioning under President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Deputy Media Minister Dilan Perera began to function from directly under the Prime Minister's office.

On Saturday, August 13, Chairman, ITN, Newton Gunaratne and News Manager Sudharman Radaliyagoda visited Temple Trees for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Important matter

At the meeting with Premier Mahinda Rajapakse, Guna-ratne and Radaliyagoda informed the PM their visit was to discuss an important matter.

Gunaratne told the Prime Minister it was time he worked on a personal agenda to gain victory at the presidential election and not for the benefit of others. He went on to ask Rajapakse for advise on the necessary steps to be taken on the matter.

Radaliyagoda also rose to the occasion saying he too could look into the news angle and steer the political talk show, Thulawa, hosted by him for the benefit of the Premier and asked Rajapakse to advise him on the course of action to be adopted.

The Premier was also asked by Radaliyagoda to decide on the guests to be invited for the Thulawa show.

"It would be helpful if you could send politicians who would speak good of you and are supportive of you. It would be helpful for a presidential election," Radaliyagoda told Rajapakse.

It was Gunaratne who spoke next, asking the Premier if the President or Deputy Minister Perera were in anyway influencing him and questioned as to what action Rajapakse would take if he is being influenced by either of them.

"You said that you had started 'your show' now and we are going to join that show even if it means I have to lose my job," Gunaratne said.

Alliance with the JVP

The Premier's response to Gunaratne was that he would soon form an alliance with the JVP and for that purpose, ITN would have to stop inviting people like Dilan Perera and Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who would make adverse remarks about the JVP.

Gunaratne nodding his assent then asked the PM about the programmes to be scheduled on ITN until Minister Kadirgamar's funeral was over.

Rajapakse asked Gunaratne to do a programme with Wimal Weerawansa and Anura Dissanayake.

The Premier also advised Gunaratne to conduct the programme separately from the programme schedule of the committee appointed by the President to plan the Minister's funeral.

Gunaratne said the programmes would be produced under the guidelines set by the committee operating from Temple Trees.

"My News Secretary, Chandrap-ala Liyanage has been tasked with looking into propaganda work carried out from Temple Trees, so coordinate your work with him," Rajapakse said.

With that, ITN moved out from the clutches of the President and Dilan Perera, to operate under Temple Trees. However, a few days later, another problem started to brew.

Dilan Perera, who was informed of Gunaratne's and Radaliyagoda's actions and their meeting at Temple Trees, decided to temporarily hold the matter until the funeral of the late Minister came to an end, on a Presidential directive.

Two days after the funeral, on Wednesday, Dilan Perera met with the directors and staff of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).

"I have been closely watching the goings-on in state media institutions. The President and I will not tolerate any propaganda work carried out on personal agendas without the party policies being highlighted," he said.

Perera, who continued to challenge the news bulletins aired on SLBC, asked SLBC Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe for a copy of a news report aired that morning and the relevant cassette.

The news copy in question carried a statement issued by the so-called SLFP Media Secretary, Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi. The statement had been critical of the peace process and the joint mechanism.

"There is no such designation in the SLFP. If state institutions carry news bulletins on such issues sent by various people, it is bad. This statement has not even reached any other media institution. That is why I need a copy of it. The President is waiting for a copy of the news item. Even ITN has carried a similar news item from a Sri Lankan society in New Zealand. I have already called for a copy of that bulletin as well," he said.

He went on to say that once he gets both copies, the people responsible for the news items would be taken to task.

Just as Perera was leaving the SLBC after the meeting, details of what happened at the meeting were conveyed to Gunaratne.

As a result, both news items requested by Perera suddenly 'vanished' from the two newsrooms.

In the evening, Perera was informed the news item had been accidentally deleted from the ITN cassettes and the SLBC news report was misplaced.

A fuming Perera then vowed to inform the President of this latest development.

 

Criticising Kumaratunga

Several important events took place behind the scenes since the Lakshman Kadirgamar murder and the funeral. Many were not reported in the press.

One such was when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister Mangala Samaraweera and JVPers Wimal Weerawansa and Anura Dissanayake came to the late Minister's residence on Saturday, August 13 night to meet his widow, Suganthi Kadirgamar.

They discussed funeral arrangements and then Rajapakse and Suganthi Kadirgamar spoke of  the address made by President Chandrika Kumaratunga over national television. Even before they left the residence, a caller from the house informed the President of the visit and the contents of the discussion. The caller said the visitors had criticised Kumaratunga for not being critical of the LTTE in her address.

"Even Mangala Samaraweera was there but no one defended you," the caller told the President when she inquired further details of the conversation. A disappointed President later related the incident to several confidants.

Meanwhile, the JVP was later trying to get Suganthi Kadirgamar to make a statement critical of the LTTE.


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