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Editorial

July 8, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 3


Focus

Arts

Letters

Spotlight

Review

Fashion

Issues

News

 

         


Friends forever: Convener of the SLFP (M) Group, former Minister Mangala Samarawera last week met CWC Leader Arumugam Thondaman at the CWC headquarters to discuss the set of proposals, Dare To Dream, formulated by the SLFP (M) Group. CWC Member, Minister Muttu Sivalingam and former Airport and Aviation Authority Chairman, Tiran Alles also attended the discussion

Controversy over US$3 billion offer to govt.

Controversy surrounds President Mahinda Rajapakse's decision to consider a dubious proposal for a US$ 3 billion capital infusion to the country by a broker from Australia, which could fall into the category of money laundering under the Prevention of Money .......

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Seven soldiers killed in Thoppigala

  > PERC disputes govt.'s reasons for its closure

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ICJ calls for probe on missing bullet

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MR commutes death sentence of spy soldier

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15 LTTE cadres killed in Thoppigala

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TNA coaxed to join government

Controversy over US$3 billion offer to govt.

Rajitha gets broker to meet President

US$ 3bn offered at 2% interest

Finance Secretary confirms meeting at TT

Is Lanka targeted for money laundering?

Controversy surrounds President Mahinda Rajapakse's decision to consider a dubious proposal for a US$ 3 billion capital infusion to the country by a broker from Australia, which could fall into the category of money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2006.

The President had met  the 'broker' identified as Jacob Cheong at Temple Trees late June following an introduction by Constructions Minister Rajitha Senaratne. Cheong who is of Malaysian descent has said he represents a company called Haike Group Limited based in Australia.

Cheong had told the President at the meeting he could invest the money at 2 per cent interest, which is well below the going international borrowing rates if the necessary logistical arrangements could be made. The current borrowing rate for the government is over 6%. Associated with the President at the discussion were Minister Senaratne, President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera and BOI Chairman Dammika Perera.

The Sunday Leader learns the Treasury Secretary had been tight lipped at the meeting with the President directing the BOI Chairman to study the proposal made by Cheong.

Informed sources said Cheong had been reluctant to disclose the sources of his funds but had on being asked for details said some funds would be channelled through a Japanese Retirement Fund with further sums channelled through four other funds he had not named.

It is learned he had also proposed financing the Hambantota Port in exchange for shares with an assurance the shares will be transferred back to the government once the monies are repaid. No details of the brokerage fee was available at the time of writing.

Finance Secretary P.B. Jayasundera confirmed the meeting with Cheong but denied there were plans to accept the proposals made by the investor.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act states inter alia that any person who receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of or brings into Sri Lanka, transfers out of Sri Lanka, or invests in Sri Lanka, any property which is derived or realised, directly or indirectly, from any unlawful activity or from proceeds of any unlawful activity knowing or having reason to believe that such property is derived or realised from any unlawful activity or from the proceeds of any unlawful activity shall be guilty of an offence which is punishable with a term of rigorous imprisonment ranging from five to 20 years.

It is also an offence to abet the offence of money laundering.

Controversy surrounds President Mahinda Rajapakse's decision to consider a dubious proposal for a US$ 3 billion capital infusion to the country by a broker from Australia, which could fall into the category of money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2006.

The President had met  the 'broker' identified as Jacob Cheong at Temple Trees late June following an introduction by Constructions Minister Rajitha Senaratne. Cheong who is of Malaysian descent has said he represents a company called Haike Group Limited based in Australia.

Cheong had told the President at the meeting he could invest the money at 2 per cent interest, which is well below the going international borrowing rates if the necessary logistical arrangements could be made. The current borrowing rate for the government is over 6%. Associated with the President at the discussion were Minister Senaratne, President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera and BOI Chairman Dammika Perera.

The Sunday Leader learns the Treasury Secretary had been tight lipped at the meeting with the President directing the BOI Chairman to study the proposal made by Cheong.

Informed sources said Cheong had been reluctant to disclose the sources of his funds but had on being asked for details said some funds would be channelled through a Japanese Retirement Fund with further sums channelled through four other funds he had not named.

It is learned he had also proposed financing the Hambantota Port in exchange for shares with an assurance the shares will be transferred back to the government once the monies are repaid. No details of the brokerage fee was available at the time of writing.

Finance Secretary P.B. Jayasundera confirmed the meeting with Cheong but denied there were plans to accept the proposals made by the investor.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act states inter alia that any person who receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of or brings into Sri Lanka, transfers out of Sri Lanka, or invests in Sri Lanka, any property which is derived or realised, directly or indirectly, from any unlawful activity or from proceeds of any unlawful activity knowing or having reason to believe that such property is derived or realised from any unlawful activity or from the proceeds of any unlawful activity shall be guilty of an offence which is punishable with a term of rigorous imprisonment ranging from five to 20 years.

It is also an offence to abet the offence of money laundering.


Seven soldiers killed in Thoppigala

By Warren Balthazaar

Seven military forces personnel including a senior officer were killed near Thoppigala when  Tigers fired 80 mm mortars at them Friday morning, the military said.

Military Spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said that the LTTE fired long distance mortars at soldiers killing seven and wounding five on Friday (6) north of Warakamulla, south of Thoppigala.

He further said that the military at the time was conducting a de-mining session, clearing out and defusing mines.

The military rushed the wounded soldiers to a military hospital.

Brigadier Samarasinghe said that this was a deliberate attack on the military to prevent the de-mining programme.

Meanwhile on July 5 morning 10 LTTE cadres and two soldiers had been killed in areas west of Madhu, the military said. The confrontation had taken place when a group of Tigers had tried to infiltrate the forward defence lines. The Tigers however said that only one cadre had been injured and that it was government forces that had tried to infiltrate.


 No privatisations earmarked says Chairman

PERC disputes govt.'s reasons for its closure

Chairman of the Public Enterprise Reform Commission (PERC) has in writing informed the government that PERC had not earmarked 198 public institutions to be privatised as claimed by the state to justify its closure.

PERC Chairman, W. A. S. Perera in a letter written to President's Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga and Treasury Secretary, P. B. Jayasundera has stated the institution worked strictly in accordance with the Mahinda Chinthana and since the government policy at present was not to privatise state enterprises, no institution was earmarked for privatisation.

Perera has said that PERC is presently focusing on restructuring 20 public enterprises, which have become a burden to the Treasury.

"As recommended by the cabinet sub- committee chaired by the Prime Minister, cabinet at its meeting held on 15.11.2006, instructed PERC to assist in restructuring the above mentioned enterprises," Perera has stated in his letter.

He has further observed that about 60%-70% of this work has been completed and a progress report had also been submitted to the Treasury on June 13.

Speaking of the legal cases involved with past privatisations, Perera has said that there were currently 17 cases against the government, which are consequences of past privatisations.

"In the event of losing these litigations, the total loss to the government would be in the range of Rs. 5 to 6 billion," he has stated in the letter.

PERC according to the Chairman is also handling approximately 25 major issues relating to 15 divested public enterprises and if they were not resolved, it would end in litigation.

Finally, Perera in his letter has also highlighted that the government has saved Rs. 2,280 million in 2006 due to a High Court decision relating to Pussellawa Plantations Limited. An arbitration decision relating to Lanka Marine Services Limited has also saved funds for the government.


Murder of 17 aid workers 
ICJ calls for probe on missing bullet

By Amantha Perera

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) last week called for an investigation into the missing bullet in the Muttur murder investigation.

"There is an urgent need to investigate and clarify if a 5.56 mm bullet was recovered from the skull of one of the victims.

"Dr. (Malcolm) Dodd, an independent, Australian pathologist who was invited by the government to observe a re-examination of the bodies in October 2006, concluded that one 5.56 mm  projectile was removed from the skull of one of the victims. The Government Analyst was provided with the ballistics exhibits removed from the bodies during the re-examination and prepared his report dated  February 19, 2007 which was submitted to the Kantale Court on March 7, 2007.  In his report he identifies only 7.62 mm bullets or parts of bullets," the ICJ said last week.

A week earlier it had said that it feared that the bullet had been switched.

 "In a nutshell it is my view that the Malcolm Dodd report, coupled with matters to which I drew attention in my earlier report, give rise to a serious concern that a 5.56 bullet recovered from the body of one of the victims on   October 2, 2006 has been removed from the exhibits and that another bullet of a different calibre has been substituted. It is known that 5.56 cartridges are used by the Special Task Force and by some Special Forces within the army and navy. It is also understood that those who had official access to the exhibits include: CID, the JMO and the Government Analyst's Department," ICJ observer to the investigation British QC Michael Brinbaum said in a report.

The government immediately rejected the charges and had in fact called on the ICJ to withdraw the statements. Instead the ICJ has repeated earlier concerns on the impartiality of the investigation.

"There are serious concerns about significant flaws in the police investigation, reflecting a lack of impartiality, transparency and effectiveness, as well as about the ballistics evidence," it said.


MR commutes death sentence of spy soldier

President Mahnida Rajapakse has commuted a death sentence to life imprisonment handed over to an Army major by a military Court Martial for spying for the LTTE, high ranking military officials said.

However, Defence Spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said that he was not aware of the decision of the Court Martial. "One Court Martial concluded recently, but we are not aware of the decision. In any case it has to be conveyed to the President who is also the Commander in Chief and he has to authorise it," he told The Sunday Leader.

Several military personnel including two majors are facing court martials for providing information to the Tigers. One such procedure had concluded last week and the President's decision is to be conveyed to the army.

The major had been charged under five counts including providing information to the Tigers.

The death sentence is the first time such a sentence has been passed on a Sri Lankan military officer by a military Court Martial since the ethnic war broke out. (AP)


15 LTTE cadres killed in Thoppigala

By Warren Balthazaar

The military yesterday killed 15 LTTE cadres in Thoppigala, the military said.

The terrorists were fleeing in two tractors on Friday around 5.30 p.m. when they were attacked by army Commandos.

Seven military forces personnel including a senior officer were killed near Thoppigala when  Tigers fired 80 mm mortars at them Friday morning.

Military Spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said that the LTTE fired long distance mortars at soldiers killing seven and wounding five on Friday (6) north of Warakamulla, south of Thoppigala.

He further said that the military at the time was conducting a de-mining session. The military rushed the wounded soldiers to a military hospital.


TNA coaxed to join government

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) accused the government of threatening its members with difficult consequences if they did not join the ruling party.

TNA Batticaloa MP Chandrakanth Chandranehru told The Sunday Leader that the TNA was being forced to support the government.

He however added that none of the TNA MPs would cross over to the government and support it. "We will always be in the opposition," he said.

Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle last week stated that the Eastern TNA MPs would have to face difficulties in going to the government-controlled areas in the east if the parliamentarians refused to join them. "We are not working in these areas anyway due to various threats," Chandranehru said.

He added that he had written to the President on these issues "The Presidential Secretariat had responded to my letter stating that the President would look into the matter. However, no action has been taken so far," he added.

He also stated that the TNA would insult its slain members if it opted to support the government. " None of our members will cross over till our people gain freedom," he said.

Speaking on the threats the TNA MPs were facing, Chadranehru said he continued to receive threats. "The Chairman of Thirukkovil Pradeshiya Sabha, Thillainathan Uthayakumar, who was one of my coordinators was killed, as they could not get at me," he said. 


Govt. silent on SLMM findings

By Amantha Perera

The government is yet to reject SLMM findings on the Muttur aid worker murders in writing, despite public protestations, the SLMM said.

The SLMM pinned the blame on the execution like murders of 17 aid workers attached to the French charity Action Contre la Faim in Muttur on August 4, 2006 on government troops.

In a report titled Assassination of 17 Civilian Aid Workers in Muttur on  August 4,  and sent to the respective peace secretariats of the government and the Tigers on August 29, 2006, the SLMM had said that government troops were in control of the town on August 4. The government has steadfastly denied the charge in public and at meetings with the SLMM.

"But we have not received anything in writing," SLMM Spokesperson Thoffinur Omarsson said.

"Taking into consideration the fact that the security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the incident it appears highly unreasonable to blame other groups for the killing. Provided that was the case it would in particular be illogical for the security forces to prevent the SLMM from entering the area and making proper inquiries in order to find the perpetrator," the SLMM said in its report.

 

 


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