- 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.......
cost of folly
pact with the JVP
ADMIT INABILITY TO COUNTER KARUNA THREAT
- A man destined to achieve glory
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
To be continued
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
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
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.
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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.
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
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.
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?"
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
"What are you saying?" Silva
questioned and Sooriyaarachchi's response was for him to stop
attacking the JVP.
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
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.
within the SLFP
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.
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
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
"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
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
"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,"
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
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.
important events took place behind the scenes since the Lakshman
Kadirgamar murder and the funeral. Many were not reported in the
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
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
Meanwhile, the JVP was later trying to
get Suganthi Kadirgamar to make a statement critical of the LTTE.