bluff and criminal defamation
The media has often
highlighted instances where President
Mahinda Rajapakse is said to have made
false statements. Recently however,
the matter was made public by none
other than Minister Dilan Perera.
Perera and Rauf Hakeem
A few weeks ago, an urgent
cabinet paper calling for the
implementation of the Criminal
Defamation Law was presented to the
cabinet. This paper which was
presented in a very confidential
manner, was handed over to Perera by
the President to be read out to the
rest of the ministers.
Perera read the contents of
the cabinet paper without any prior
knowledge of it.
As soon as the cabinet paper
was read, the cabinet of ministers
started to debate the reintroduction
of the Criminal Defamation Law.
Ministers Rauf Hakeem, Dinesh
Gunewardena and Sarath Amunugama were
against the implementation of the
draconian law while the President and
Ministers Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and
Nimal Siripala de Silva called for its
Forced to withdraw
Amidst much opposition, the
President was forced to withdraw the
cabinet paper. However, at the end of
the meeting he said the law would be
Handing the paper to the
cabinet secretary, Rajapakse wanted it
to be forwarded to the AG's Department
for further study.
The news of the President's
intention to re-implement the Criminal
Defamation Law made headlines the
following day. Media organisation
vehemently opposed the move.
The controversy surrounding
the cabinet paper intensified with the
statement made by Perera to the media.
In a letter to the Justice
Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath,
Perera inquired as to why he was not
informed of such a cabinet paper.
Perera stated that he faced great
difficulty as he was unaware of the
contents of the cabinet paper.
Finally, in the letter, Perera
has stated that when inquired from the
President, he was informed that the
Ministry Secretary was asked to brief
him on the cabinet paper before it was
presented. Perera then called for an
explanation from Gamlath.
Perera who realised that the
reintroduction of the law was opposed
by the media, ensured that copies of
his letter to the Ministry Secretary
were sent to the media institutions.
He expected to clear his name through
Although not a senior minister
in the government, Perera has much
experience in the
local political scene. Perera,
who hails from a political family
began his career through leftist
politics and has from then been
reputed as being a man of principles.
Perera's letter showed to the
country that it was Rajapakse, more
than anyone else, who wanted the
reintroduction of the law.
Soon after receiving Perera's
letter, Gamlath immediately responded
The letter sent by Gamlath to
Perera also made its way to the media.
At the beginning of the letter,
Gamlath stated that he was never at
any point informed by the President to
brief Perera on the preparation of the
Gamlath's letter proved that
the President had lied to Perera at
the end of the cabinet meeting.
It was then evident that the
President who tried to sneak in the
cabinet paper was forced to withdraw
it and create a rift between the
Minister and the Ministry official as
many objections were raised against
Fortunately however, Perera's
decision to openly inquire into the
truth behind the cabinet paper from
his Secretary brought to the open the
President's double game.
Although many ministers know
the President's bluff, they
prefer to keep silent, fearing the
loss of their perks.
Perera also made statements to
the media that he was against the
reintroduction of the Criminal
The President finally had to
cave in, fearing its defeat in
media plan to protect govt.
The government is today in the
midst of many controversies. Key among
them is the economic crisis faced by
the country due to the decision to
resume the war in the north and east.
Many countries including
Britain, Netherlands, EU, US and
Germany have decided to freeze aid due
to Sri Lanka following the gross human
rights violations taking place in the
Although Japan has not
officially held back any aid, it has
outlined strict guidelines for the
government to follow.
With the corrupt deals of the
'Rajapakse Company' coming out in the
open, the talk everywhere is about the
corruption taking place within
Plan in the making
President Mahinda Rajapakse's
brother and advisor, Basil Rajapakse
who has realised this situation spent
most of his time during the last two
weeks in his office at the
Presidential Secretariat trying to
draw up a plan to counter the evolving
Basil understood that the
government was losing its popularity
among the people and decided that
there was only one topic left to woo
the masses - Thoppigala.
The main aim of the government
now is to strengthen the government by
projecting the situation in Thoppigala.
Basil drew the plan two weeks
ago. The first to be summoned were the
state media heads. At the meeting,
Basil informed them that the only
straw left for the government to
redeem itself was the battle in
Thoppigala. He said that highlighting
details of Thoppigala would take away
attention from the corruption, fuel
and bus fare hikes.
Basil asked all state media
heads to give priority to highlighting
The state media heads also
noted that under the present
situation, it was important for the
government to receive the help of
private media institutions like Sirasa
as well as print media institutions.
Basil assured the state media heads
that he would personally discuss the
matter with several heads of private
Basil next met with provincial
councilors and several
parliamentarians. They discussed that
Thoppigala should be highlighted as a
great victory around the island.
The politicians observed that
it should be celebrated by organising
various events around the island.
Basil told them that the state media
would give full publicity to such
events. Basil made it a point to call
only a few SLFPers who were supportive
of the President.
"During these two weeks
we have to work on Thoppigala in a
manner in which the people would
forget about everything else. It would
be a great help for the President as
it would help the government function
without any problem for a month or
two," Basil said.
Basil also said that funds
needed to carry out the work would be
provided for the provincial councilors
as well as the parliamentarians.
At the outset of the
Thoppigala battle, the government
decided on several steps. One was to
block the pro-LTTE TamilNet website
when the battle was raging. Bandula
Padmakumara, who hosts the Mul Pituwa
programme was asked not to read any
news out of the TamilNet website as
So far, the only news
published in the media of the
Thoppigala battle is what the military
and defence spokesmen have said.
Private television stations were
warned not to put any statements made
by LTTE spokespersons and to confine
their reportage to the government's
Basil's next plan is to woo
the private media to join his plan to
further strengthen the government.-
locks horns with the TID
The government has now adopted
various methods to redeem its image.
One such method is to arrest
or interrogate any one who opposes the
government or its leaders.
After Dushyantha Basnayake,
Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi and Tiran
Alles, the government has now focused
its attention on UNP Parliamentarian
Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena.
Jayawardena had to appear
before the TID on July 2 to make a
He was initially summoned to
appear before the TID on June 22, but
he had to attend parliament on that
day. Dr. Jayawardena inquired from
Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as
to what he should do.
Wickremesinghe advised him to
raise the matter in parliament. Dr.
Jayawardena raised a privileges issue
Told to make statement
The TID then requested Dr.
Jayawardena to make a statement at the
TID office on July 2 at 2 p.m. The
police unit did not inform Dr.
Jayawardena of the issue he was
expected to make a statement on.
Dr. Jayawardena agreed and
informed SSP TID, C. N. Wakishta that
he would appear with his lawyer Nalin
Ladduwahetty. Wakishta did not object
On the given day, Dr.
Jayawardena met several of his
colleagues before making his way to
the TID. The meeting was organised by
one of Dr. Jayawardena's friends,
Tissa Attanayake, Johnston
Fernando, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Mahinda
Rathnathileka, Indika Bandaranaike,
Mano Ganesan, Dhanasiri Amaratunga and
several Western Provincial Councilors
were present at Abeyratne's residence.
Abeyratne had organised lunch
for all of them and Dr. Jayawardena
made his way to the TID after having
lunch with his friends and colleagues.
When Dr. Jayawardena arrived
at the TID office with lawyers
Ladduwahetty and Sujeewa Senasinghe,
Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake was
Cop put in his place
After making a statement to
the media, Dr. Jayawardena made his
way to the TID office with his lawyer.
A police officer who was not
properly attired had spoken to Dr.
Jayawardena in a 'loud tone' calling
him by his first name. Dr. Jayawardena
had then informed the police officer
as well as DIG Wakishta that he was a
doctor by profession.
Wakishta who took Jayawardena
to a room to record the statement
informed lawyer Ladduwahetty that he
could not be in the room.
"Why? I informed you of
this earlier. Then you did not object
to it. You even asked me to bring him
along. Now how can you say this?"
Dr. Jayawardena demanded.
Wakishta said he could not
allow Ladduwahetty to be present when
the statement was being recorded as he
was also representing several other
suspects in the case as well.
Ladduwahetty then explained to
Wakishta the nature of his job. He
explained that he was there for his
client, Dr. Jayawardena and also told
the DIG that as a lawyer, he was
entitled to do so.
Lawyer refuses to leave
Ladduwahetty said he was not
ready to walk out without performing
his professional duties to his client.
Wakishta said that he would
then have to record a statement from
Ladduwahetty as well.
Ladduwahetty refused and
Wakishta had no option but to keep
The police then started to
interrogate Dr. Jayawardena. Chief
Police Inspector Prasanna de Alwis
inquired from Dr. Jayawardena if he
knew Emil Kanthan of the LTTE
Intelligence Unit. "I was then
the minister in-charge of the north
and I was also there when the
Ceasefire Agreement was signed. Once
the peace talks started, not only me,
but G. L. Peiris and Milinda Moragoda
also spoke to Emil Kanthan. In those
days I used to travel to Kilinochchi.
I have then spoken to Emil Kanthan. I
speak to him even now. There are many
ministers in the government. If you
want to know my connection with Emil
Kanthan, then speak to Milinda
Moragoda," Dr. Jayawardena said.
The next question was on the
pilgrimage organised from Kataragama
to the north. De Alwis asked Dr.
Jayawardena if the organisation work
in Mullaitivu was done by Emil Kanthan.
'Question the others'
"We went from Kataragama
to Jaffna. It was a religious affair.
We had to travel on the A9. So can we
overlook the north? If you need more
information on this, you can speak to
a close friend of the President, the
chief incumbent of the Sri Naga Vihara
in Jaffna, Ven. Meegahavandure
Gnanarathana Thero," Dr.
Dr. Jayawardena was questioned
till 8.30 p.m. that day. The TID
officers finally asked if Dr.
Jayawardena had anything he wished to
state. "Yes, by now the DIGs of
the CID and the intelligence unit have
said there were death threats on me.
Now this is being done to label me as
a LTTE supporter. Therefore, if there
is any threat to my life, the TID
would be held responsible. It is Ok to
question me, but when Sripathi
Sooriyaarachchi named people who have
paid millions to the LTTE, why were
questioned? The names of Basil
Rajapakse, P. B. Jayasundera and
Lalith Weeratunga have already been
revealed. Why have you not questioned
them?" Dr. Jayawardena asked.
"Do you have evidence to
say such a thing?" the police
"That does not make
sense. Looking for evidence is not my
job. It is up to the police. Looking
for evidence is your job," Dr.
Naga Vihare takes TID to task
An English paper the following
day published an article quoting a TID
officer who had said the whole
interrogation process was converted by
Dr. Jayawardena to gain media
After reading the news item,
Dr. Jayawardena called SSP Wakishta
and said, "I have to tell the
public what happened to me. I can do
it only through the media. I did that.
Please hold an inquiry into your
The media reported Dr.
Jayawardena's story and he also
received a letter from the development
committee of the Sri Naga Vihara in
Jaffna, the head priest of which
vihara is closely associated with
Below is an English
translation of the letter sent in
Hon. Dr. Jayalath
Member of Parliament,
No. 555, Weligampitiya,
Our Dear Member of Parliament,
We were disturbed to read
in the media that you were
interrogated by the TID for over six
We were even more disturbed
to hear that you were also questioned
on the religious march organised from
Kirivehera in Kataragama to the
Nagavihara in Jaffna by you under our
The peace march that took
place was the first of its kind and a
historic one where a religious march
took place from the south to the north
on the A9. It is important to note
that everyone, Sinhalese Buddhists,
non Buddhists, Tamil people, forces
personnel and the police have highly
commended this act which was organised
by you, under our guidance, as well as
with the blessings of the mahanayakes
of the three nikayas.
As you may be well aware,
we are not affiliated to any political
party, but have never failed to speak
the truth and stand by what is right.
We know very well of your
dedicated service to solve the ethnic
conflict in the country amidst much
threats to your life as well as much
criticism leveled against you. Many
members of the clergy is also aware of
It is with great
appreciation that we reminisce your
efforts to rehabilitate the Buddhist
temples in the north and east. The Sri
Naga Vihara in Jaffna, the
Kadurugoda Rajamahavihara in Jaffna
were several temples you took the
initiative to rehabilitate.
The chanting of pirith in
Kilinochchi by 50 Buddhist monks under
the Buddhist flag after over 20 years
is a historical event that could not
be forgotten by anyone. It is a great
If the TID wishes to know
the truth and details of the religious
march organised from Kataragama to
Jaffna, we would gladly make a
statement on it. We cannot imagine why
the TID wishes to raise questions on
this great historic and religious
After the A9 was opened
following your intervention, thousands
of Sinhalese Buddhists made there way
to the Sri Naga Vihara in Jaffna on
pilgrimage. But after the closure of
the A9, pilgrims from the south lost
the chance of worshiping in the north.
Therefore we are now faced with a
great problem when it comes to
maintaining the Sri Naga Vihara and
the other temples that come under it
in the Jaffna peninsula.
It is sad that the
attention of officials have not been
directed towards it. However, amidst
much pressure we take great effort in
continuing with the Buddhist temples
in the Jaffna peninsula. But we do not
know if we could do it for long.
We would like to reiterate
once more that we would bless you as
well as support you in all your
endeavours to establish peace and
religious harmony in the country. We
would also like to speak of your
effort to secure the land that
belonged to the Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya
for the future generation and to
reopen the school in that land as
Finally, we would like to
say that irrespective of the charges
leveled against you, the truth will
someday be revealed.
We firmly believe that you
and other Sri Lankans would continue
to help maintain the Buddhist temples
in the Jaffna peninsula.
Yours in Metta,
Chief Sanganayaka of North
Chief Incumbent, Sri
Kadurugoda Rajamaha Vihara,
Cc: Most Venerable
Mahanayakes of the three nikayas.
eats humble pie as Basil calls Solheim
The role of peace facilitators
of the Sri Lankan peace process,
Norway, has been criticised by many
extremists since the inception of the
peace process brokered by the Nordic
JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal
Weerawansa and JHU Member Champika
Ranawaka and its members of the clergy
have been at the forefront in
criticising Norway's role and even
called the Norwegians "White
President Mahinda Rajapakse
responded to all this criticism by
stating that Sri Lanka would not bow
to the whims and fancies of any other
country. "Unlike Ranil, I am not
ready to do peace the way Norway wants
it," the President said.
Rajapakse did not stop at
that, he even expressed these
sentiments to Norway's International
Development Minister Erik Solheim and
Special Peace Envoy, John Hanssen-Bauer
when he met them in Geneva.
The Norwegians at the meeting
requested the President to restart the
peace process, to create the
environment to implement the Ceasefire
Agreement and to send a Norwegian
envoy to Kilinochchi to meet the LTTE
The President however objected
to it saying it would demoralise the
security forces who were engaged in a
successful war against the LTTE in the
north and east. Rajapakse then
proposed that the Norwegians, if they
needed to communicate with the LTTE
should give them a call from Oslo to
The Norwegians returned to
Oslo silently without responding to
the ridiculing remarks made by the
A few weeks later, at a
meeting of the Co-Chairs - Norway, US,
EU and Japan, the first issue to be
taken up was the President's statement
to Solheim in Geneva.
The Co-Chairs after discussing
the issue, decided to send a stern
message to the President. In the
message, the Co-Chairs stated that
arrangements should be made for the
Norwegian peace envoy to visit
Kilinochchi without laying any
They also stated that if the
President and the government did not
accept the Co-Chairs' decision, the
international community would be
forced to take action against Sri
Lanka. The President who boasted he
can do without the international
community was helpless once he
received the message from the
Call from Basil
Last Friday, Basil Rajapakse
called Oslo and told Solheim to ignore
what the President said in Geneva and
arrangements would be made for the
Norwegian envoy to travel to
The Co-Chairs also sent
another message to the government -
that Norway had the fullest support of
the Co-Chairs to carry out its role as
facilitator in the Sri Lankan peace
process and that the Sri Lankan
government should not pose any
obstacles to the process.
Basil, who understood the
message, told Solheim that the
President and the government had no
intention of replacing Norway with any
other country or organisation.
Interestingly however, the
extremists who shouted hoarse calling
the Norwegians 'White Tigers' have
gone silent today. The President had
to eat humble pie and agree to the
Co-Chairs' requests and the JVP and
the JHU are silent.