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News

November 18, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 22


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Arts

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Editorial

Issues

           

The President's choice of advisors and the govt.'s dance with Karuna


Pillayan, Rajasingham, Karuna, Mahinda Rajapakse and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle

K.T. Rajasingham dismisses Douglas as an opportunist not interested in projects put forward by him

Asian Tribune admits telephone conversation with Pillayan which included instructions to kill

Minister Fernandopulle's Coordinating Secretary complaints to CID and TID against Asian Tribune Editor Rajasingham

Dr. Rajaratnam says danger lurks around him after Rajasingham sent him several emails

Minister's Coordinating Secretary accuses Rajasingham of being a close associate of well-known terrorist Pillayan Minister's Coordinating Secretary accuses Rajasingham of being a close associate of well-known terrorist Pillayan

Rajasingham implies at Geneva meeting with MR that Rohitha unsuitable for job and his duties be taken over by Basil

Asian Tribune angry with female Heads of Mission Kshenuka Seneviratne and Wagiswara and wants them removed

Coordinating Secretary expresses shock at contents of phone call and asks Rajasingham not to drag him to a web of killings and murders

Minister's Secretary makes complaint to Police Rajasingham gave instructions to Pillayan to assassinate Krishnan

By Sonali Samarasinghe

In another twist to the Karuna drama already replete with plots and subplots of human smuggling, forgery and assassination orders, Dr. TC Rajaratnam co-ordinating secretary to Senior Cabinet Minister and Chief Government whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, has made a complaint to the police post in Parliament against K.T.Rajasingham the editor of the website operating from Sweden calling itself Asian Tribune.

Calling the entire saga a conspiracy, and stating Rajasingham has been sending him emails and communicating with him on the subject with insidious motives, Rajaratnam states in his complaint that given the calibre of Rajasingham, he now fears for his safety as danger lurks around him. He has also informed Minister Fernandopulle of the entire issue and sent copies of documentation and tape recordings to family members as security.

Drama

The co-ordinating Secretary was unwittingly drawn into this drama after he was requested to take steps to register a political party for Pillayan to outsmart Karuna as reflected in the documentation.

The complaint made last Friday ( (November 9) is against K.T. Rajasingham of Karl Wahrens Vag 22 B, 73 34 Hallstavik, Sweden, Editor, Asian Tribune and his close associate Pillayan.

Rajaratnam has urged the Criminal Investigations Department, the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and the Ministerial Security Division to take appropriate action against the Asian Tribune editor whom he says has claimed Pillayan will act according to his instructions.

Pillayan is the de facto head of the LTTE breakaway Karuna group. The Karuna faction stand accused of a spate of killings, abductions for extortion and kidnapping. It has also been accused of gross human rights violations and child recruitment by rights bodies with the apex world body the UN filing a report which stated the group was engaged in child recruitment with the help of some elements of the armed forces.

Terminate

What is deadly in the boast of Rajasingham is that in Dr. Rajaratnam's complaint he states that a taped conference call had revealed that K.T. Rajasingham had given instructions to terminate Krishnan, a deputy of Karuna's scheduled to arrive from London.

The complaint now reveals that K.T. Rajasingham of the Asian Tribune published from Sweden had allegedly committed a serious criminal offence and/or a terrorist act on Swedish soil no less by ordering and or initiating the assassination of one Krishnan or at least have him illegally incarcerated.

The Sunday Leader last week revealed in an extensive expose details of plans to get rid of Karuna and replace him with Pillayan, a plot hatched as far back as June, 2007 in Geneva at a meeting between President Mahinda Rajapakse and K.T.Rajasingham which included Minister Douglas Devananda as well.

Karuna was subsequently illegally smuggled out of Sri Lanka on a forged diplomatic passport bearing number D 1944260 and landed in London on September 18. On a tip- off widely thought to have been made by his rival Pillayan, Karuna was later arrested by British authorities and detained at an immigration centre. This attracts added credence considering Rajasingham's order to have Krishnan disposed of or incarcerated on arrival in Sri Lanka.

More compassion  

The Sunday Leader last week published an English translation of a transcript  of a taped conversation between Pillayan and K.T.Rajasingham where Rajasingham clearly tells Pillayan to get rid of Krishnan, a deputy of Karuna's. Pillayan however being the known terrorist in Sri Lanka has more compassion than the so-called editor of the website Asian Tribune. Pillayan therefore says, 'Sin.I feel sorry' but Rajasingham insists that Krishnan is dangerous and something must be done about him.

From all the evidence in our possession it is obvious that Karuna's deputy Krishnan, becomes dangerous only as he would hinder the plans which had its beginnings in Geneva in June 2007.

Rajasingham as we revealed last Sunday was instrumental in trying to get Pillayan's faction registered as a political party in Sri Lanka. However Pillayan  according to taped phone conversations, had revealed to him that it was Krishnan who was making arrangements to have Karuna's political party registered with the elections commissioner.

No comment

Be that as it may, confirming in writing that the taped conference calls and conversation between Pillayan and himself as published in full in The Sunday Leader last week, Rajasingham of the Asian Tribune emailed Minister Fernandopulle's Coordinating Secretary Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam last Friday November  9, immediately following an email he received from The Sunday Leader asking for his comments within an hour. To that email he replied he had no comment to make.

His email to the coordinating secretary says, "I give you below the email I received from Ms. Sonali Samarasinghe..I never believed when Pillayan alleged that you recorded the two telephone calls he made to you."  

Not only that, Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam was to write another email to Rajasingham of the Asian Tribune where he also confirms that due to security threats all telephone calls made to him are being recorded for more than a year. It is these copies he has kept in the custody of his family members for his security.

The Coordinating Secretary Rajaratnam says, "I was indeed shocked by the voicemail message which had recorded your conversation with Pillayan who too had blood on his hands. Why did you choose me as a scapegoat?" Rajaratnam also warns the Asian Tribune Editor that he has handed all these recordings to the proper authorities. "All these recorded conversations are not only with the CID, TID but also in possession of my two sisters in the UK both of whom are naturally concerned of my life. Hon. Douglas Devananda too is aware as I have discussed this matter with him and also forwarded these to Hon. Jeyaraj Ferandopulle my two sister (sic) in the UK and my cousins."

Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam further states "I am particularly shocked by your conversation with Pillayan where you are giving instructions to get rid of Krishnan. I do not want to get involved in killings and murders...I was shocked by the contents of your conversation with Pillayan."

Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam also says, "If as indeed Pillayan did allege that the conversation were recorded, then you failed to inform me in time. As such you have placed my life in danger."

"I was indeed disturbed by your emails which was suggesting to me to contest as I am not interested. I am a sick person. I have been in and out of hospital."  

Responsible

In an earlier email to Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam, Rajasingham had claimed he was behind Karuna's breakaway from the LTTE and had promoted him to spike the Tigers. He also claims he was responsible in a way for Karuna to be sent out of Sri Lanka and that he promoted Pillayan to get rid of Karuna.

Further cementing the close links between Pillayan and the Asian Tribune, Rajasingham also claims in an email to Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam thus."Pillayan listens to me. He has a problem and he has to outsmart Karuna by registering the political party very, very secretly and consolidate his hold..Presently he cannot trust everyone in his outfit. He is based in Batticaloa. He has to pick and choose his confidential people."     

Be that as it may, Dr. Rajaratnam in his complaint (Please see box for copy of full complaint) to the police also states that Asian Tribune editor has made several claims that he is powerful with certain VVIPs. 

These claims Rajasingham makes even in emails to Dr. Rajaratnam where he urges the ministerial coordinating secretary to contest on the SLFP ticket.

To this end he says he has had a discussion with Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in Israel where he discussed about Dr. Rajaratnam.

Reality?

Whether such claims are founded in reality or merely hallucinatory is another matter. Rajasingham however assured Dr. Rajaratnam that he has taken up his case with Rajaratnam's own Minister. He writes in an email,

"I told him that I have told you to contest for Parliamentin the next election from the Electoral District of Colombo on the SLFP ticket. Also Iasked him whether it is possible? He said that it is possible and told me that you have to nurse the electorate for the Tamil votes.

"I think we have initially got the 'Green Light' and I am confident that I can take up your matter with Minister Maithripala Sirisena, SLFP General Secretary,and alsowith Governor Alavi Moulana - both of them are my friendsand ultimately with President Mahinda Rajapakse... I think you may also try to meet Governor Alavi Moulana. If you want I will talk to him before you go to meet him."

However his claims of being able to manipulate Sri Lanka's political high and mighty to do his bidding came to naught at least with regard to Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam who writes back stating he has no desire to join politics as he is not in the best of health.

Meeting

In an official report of the meeting Rajasingham had with President Rajapakse in June and sent on October 24 under confidential cover to Presidential Advisor Sunimal Fernando, significantly Rajasingham says that Pillayan is planning the arrest of Karuna.

But he says, they are hesitating as the higher ups in the defence ministry would not entertain such a step. He also suggests according to him that the government get rid of Karuna, a liability and work with Pillayan and his men who are more popular in the East than Karuna.

Lethal weapons

Rajasingham further says in his report that if there is to be an election in the east and the Karuna group is pitted against the LTTE proxy party the TNA or any independent groups led by leading personalities, the group would not even be able to retain their deposits. But he then goes on to say, thy can use their lethal weapons and through threat and intimidation rig the election and stuff ballot boxes. 

President Rajapakse had said at the meeting according to the, minutes that he would take up this matter with his defence people and 'do the needful'.

What is also vital and incriminating of the highest in the land is this paragraph written in bold and in parenthesis obviously as subsequent comments to the minutes of the meeting.

Help

"Now Mr. Rajasingham understands that with the help of Sri Lanka's intelligence service Karuna has managed to reach UK to join his wife and three children. We also learnt that he managed to spirit away from Sri Lanka nearly SL 50 crores to London. (One crore is 10 million) These were the monies he collected through abduction and from the money given by the government for the support of his cadres)"

Evident

The dubiety and calibre of Rajasingham is evident again by his own report as sent to Presidential advisor Sunimal Fernando. As per the report cum minutes of the Geneva meeting in June, Rajasingham of the Tribune while making overtures to Minister Douglas Devananda in his presence, by suggesting that President Rajapakse should nominate him as Minister in Charge of Overseas Sri Lankans in addition to his own portfolios is not above letting Devananda down badly in other quarters.

Never come forward

In fact in his own minutes as a subsequent addition in bold and parenthesis he states (At present Mr. Rajasingham is of the view that Hon. Douglas Devananda has never come forward to promote the government other than promoting his EPDP politics. Therefore Mr. Rajasingham suggest (sic) that best person to take up portfolio as Minister in charge of overseas Sri Lankans is no other than Mr. Basil Rajapakse).

In an email to Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam on November 1, he says "Douglas Devananda is known to me very well. I can't call him as my friend. But known to me. He is an opportunist. But I have to write about him because he is minister, Leader of a political party and on top of all these he remains to be a Tamil."

What is even more ironic in this whole conversation is that the minister in charge of overseas Sri Lankans is in fact Rohitha Bogollagama the Minister of Foreign Affairs through the Foreign Ministry and its various missions overseas.  

Sensitive issues 

Rajasingham is therefore not only casting aspersions on the entire network of diplomatic missions on the basis that officials in the missions take little notice of him when he calls them for information on sensitive issues, but is also making it clear to President Rajapakse that the present Minister of  Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama is a failure. Not only that he runs down in particular, female diplomatic officers as incompetent and uncooperative.        

As published last week in The Sunday Leader Rajasingham at his discussion in Geneva with President Rajapakse had berated the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London specifically the lady High Commissioner Kshenuka Seneviratne and First Secretary Maxwell Keegel and said the whole mission should be revamped with new officers.

Run down

Obviously a misogynist, he continues to run down other lady High commissioners as well.

Rajasingham through his contact with the Government has also launched on a book writing exercise. The subject of the book would be none other than President Mahinda Rajapakse whose biography is to be called 'Power of Southern Grassroots - Journey of Mahinda Rajapakse,' to which Rajapakse has consented according to Rajasingham.  

Rajasingham is however far more keen to have his funding proposals for The Asian Tribune implemented. To this end he sends his lengthy proposals which contains glaring falsehoods to Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and the President having discussed it in Geneva.

Applying for a loan

According to this proposal the World Institute of Asian Studies which publishes the Asian Tribune is applying for a loan on the basis that it is an online daily that has established its reputation for objective reports and analysis also as the alternate voice of humanity and as the guarantor of freedom and freedom of expression of the people of Asia.

Mind you even as Rajasingham calls himself the voice of humanity there is already a complaint in the Parliament police post that he gave instructions to assassinate another human being or have him illegally incarcerated.

Whether the countenance and objective of the Asian Tribune is that of independence and freedom of expression, as per Rajasingham's own minutes of a meeting he had with President Rajapakse in Geneva, is a matter readers can judge for themselves.

However, while applying for funding on these bloated objectives stating it had taken a stand against undemocratic regimes it states in its constitution that it intends to apply to the commissioner for the Swedish revenue service for exemption from all taxes and other levies.

Different book  

Whether Rajasingham finds that instructions to assassinate is part and parcel of taking a stand against undemocratic regimes one does not know, but the last time we checked that was a criminal offence. Perhaps the World Institute of Asian studies reads from a different book.

In several subsequent emails to Dr. Rajaratnam he continues to urge him to take action on the funding proposals. However while angling for money on the one hand Rajasingham also sends to Jeyaraj Fernandopulle the constitution of the so called World Institute of Asian Studies which stated it intends to apply to the commissioner for the Swedish Revenue Service for exemption from all taxes and levies.

But Rajasingham's subterfuge is endless. In the official proposal for funding prepared by K.T.Rajasinghamand sent toSenior Cabinet Minister and Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, he makes deliberate false statements to cheat the government of Sri Lanka into funding him. Perhaps to make himself and his website look more attractive Rajasinghamassertsfor instance that Mr. Neville De Silva is the Asian Tribune's Diplomatic Editor. Here is what Rajasingham claims.

"Neville de Silva - Diplomatic Editor, Asian Tribune, former Centre Page Editor for South China Morning Post, Hong Kong. He is the Founder and President of the Editors Guild in Sri Lanka. Also visiting lecturer in Journalism in various Universities and College of Journalism in the many Commonwealth country Universities and Schools of Journalism"

Facts

Au contraire. Neville De Silva is not even a member of the Editors' Guild in Sri Lanka. He could not have been founding editor in any event as Mr. De Silva was in Hong Kong when it was formed. Neither was Neville ever the centre page editor of South China Morning Post. He was an assistant editor, diplomatic editor and political columnist for the Hong Kong Standard and for a short time free lanced for the South China Morning Post Sunday as a diplomatic correspondent and a feature writer for its diplomatic supplements.

Mr. Neville De Silva never lectured at various Commonwealth universities as claimed by Rajasingham but only at Baptist College (later University) in Hong Kong. Mr. Neville De Silva also edited the Commonwealth Feature Service in London.

With such deliberate falsehoods for monetary gain written under Rajasingham'sown hand in an official document to get funding, little wonder Rajasingham now finds himself well and truly in the soup.

Next week: Rajasingham's minutes of meeting with President.

Matter is now before our lawyers

The Sunday Leader and its Consultant Editor Sonali Samarasinghe on November 12 sent Letters of Demand through her lawyers in Sri Lanka to K.T.Rajasingham, admittedly a close associate of terrorist Pillayan for defamatory statements made against her by Rajasingham as editor of the Asian Tribune. She has claimed damages in the sum of Rs. 500 million.

Excerpts of the Letters of Demand sent To the Editor and Publisher of Asian Tribune from Sri Lanka by G.G.Arulpragasam Attorney-at Law. .     

I write on the instructions of my client Ms. Sonali Samarasinghe.. I have been instructed by my client to state that my client is a Lawyer by profession and practised law for several years before taking up full time journalism. My client has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from the Australian National University and a LLB Degree from the University of London My client is also a trained journalist holding diplomas in journalism from Australia and Sri Lanka.  My client during her career has been posted in Sri Lanka's Diplomatic Mission in Australia as an Information Counsellor.  She is a multiple award winning journalist having received the top journalistic award in Sri Lanka, the Editors Guild Journalist of the Year award four times in the year 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2006.  My client was also awarded several other prestigious awards including "Scoop of the Year", "Columnist of the Year" and "Best English Journalist" on several occasions since 1998. Last year my client received the "Zonta Woman of Achievement Award for 2006"..and is currently the Editor of The Morning Leader and the Consultant Editor of The Sunday Leader.

I have been instructed by my client to state that you are the Editor of Website "Asian Tribune" and on the 12th of November 2007, and in the said Asian Tribune website you had carried a report under the headline "Sri Lanka Media in Crisis. The most corrupt in Asia" under the pen name media watchman....

I have been instructed by my client to state that the said statement is per se defamatory of my client and also defamatory by innuendo.

I have been instructed by my client to state that by the said statement published in your website you did convey to the reading public that my client did gain the diplomatic post by insidious and immoral means and that my client did gain the said diplomatic post not by her own merits and she is not worthy of getting such diplomatic post.

I have been instructed by my client to state that my client was appointed to the said diplomatic posts purely on merit and not in the manner that your website has alleged.  I am further instructed by my client to state that from the professional qualifications and achievements in her career as aforesaid you will no doubt concede that my client is more than qualified to get a diplomatic posting.

I have been instructed by my client to state that you have wilfully and deliberately made the said false, malicious, defamatory statement against my client.

I have been instructed by my client to state that you carried the said false and defamatory statement in the said website due to the fact that my client wrote an article in The Sunday Leader of 11th November 2007 exposing Asian Tribune Editor under the headline "Plot to get rid of Karuna was hatched at a presidential suite in Geneva" and under the sub-heading "Asian Tribune chief spills the beans in letter to Presidential Advisor".

I have been instructed by my client to state you did carry the said statement in the said website with animus injuriandi and further with express malice and mala fide.

I have been further instructed by my client to state that the said statement in your website was carried not only to insult and humiliate my client but also to discredit the newspaper 'The Sunday Leader".

I have been instructed by my client to state that the said statement carried in your website is absolutely false and false to your knowledge and same has been wilfully and deliberately published with the intention to defame my client and to ruin, ridicule and humiliate the unblemished character of my client as a person, as a professional and as a journalist.

I have been further instructed by my client to state that you as well as your Asian Tribune website cannot face the exposure made by my client under the heading of "Plot to get rid of Karuna was hatched at a presidential suite in Geneva" and under the sub-heading "Asian Tribune chief spills the beans in letter to Presidential Advisor" and therefore your website has now chosen to sling mud at my client to keep my client gagged and to not expose the hideous corruption and plot in the Karuna episode.

I have been instructed by my client to state that notwithstanding your cheap and degrading media conduct my client will continue to fight for justice and to expose the real countenance of you and of the Asian Tribune.   

I have been instructed by my client to state that due to the aforesaid defamatory statement, my client suffered loss and damage which my client estimates at Rs.500 million.

In the circumstances, I am instructed by my client to and do hereby demand of you the said sum of Rs.500 million within 14 days from the date hereof. 

In the event of your failure to pay the said sum of Rs.500 million within 14 days from the date hereof, I have further instructions from my client to institute legal proceedings against you, for the recovery of the said sum together with interest and costs of suit.

Yours faithfully,

G.G.Arulpragasam

_____________

Box 2

T.C.Rajaratnam unavailable for comment

Coordinating Secretary to Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam suffered a mild heart attack last Monday (12) and was admitted to hospital following an exchange of emails with Asian Tribune editor K.T.Rajasingham and which Dr. Rajaratnam had described in his complaint to the Parliament police post , CID and TID as putting him under 'suspicious circumstances' given the Asian Tribune editor's terrorist links. 

Dr. Rajaratnam on entering hospital and fearing for his safety, had forwarded his email address and password to his sister in London. When The Sunday Leader contacted his family members to reach Dr. Rajaratnam, they said he was not available for comment.

________________

Box 3

Not deterred by false references

This columnist wishes to state that she will not be fazed by the defamatory and false references made against her personally and professionally and will continue to expose the issue surrounding Karuna's flight from Sri Lanka on a forged diplomatic passport based on verifiable documentation and tape recordings. It is obvious this barrage is to deflect attention from the real and serious issue of human smuggling, forgery and attempt to assassinate as revealed in last week's The Sunday Leader, where even the highest in the land was implicated in Rajasingham's own words. In the meantime all documentation and other evidence are with The Sunday Leader lawyers for appropriate action..

______________

Box 4

Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam's complaint to the Parliament police post

"I am making this statement in furtherance to the suspicious circumstances that surround me. In particular aganist Mr. K.T.Rajasingham of Karl Wahrens Vag 22 B, 73 34 Hallstsavik, Sweden and his associate Mr. Pillayan. Mr. Rajasingham is the editor of Asian Tribune. I was requested by Hon. Jeyaraj Ferandopulle, the Chief government Whip of Parliament to contribute an article and that Mr. Rajasingham would speak to me. I was asked to contribute a series of articles to the Asian Tribune.

Mr. Rajasingham has been sending me emails and I have been responding to them in regard to articles. Mr. Rajasingham has displayed a lot of cliam that he is powerful with certain VVIPs. He is a close associate of Pillayan and claims that Pillayan will act according to his instructions. On  one occasion he has made a conference call to me with Pillayan (the famous terrorist who has taken over from Karuna). It was recorded by my voicemail. This conversation reveals assassination instructions to terminate one Mr. Krishnan(an associate of Karuna) scheduled to arrive from London. The serried of emails and voice recordings of conference calls made by them and the conference calls between both Rajasingham  and Pillayan have been handed over to appropriate authorities. the emails and recorded conversations are shocking and a threat to democracy.

Since my discovery of the conspiracy of their motives I have notified Hon. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle about the danger that lurks around me and my fear.

I am making this statement for my own personal security. I would appreciate the CID, the TID and the MSD to take appropriate action.

I am making this statement for personal security.

Dr. T.C.Rajaratnam

Coordinating Secretary to the

Chief Government  Whip of Parliament

Parliament, Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte, Sri Lanka.

 


Tiger bogey that was hatched to save budget

Heads of all state media institutions meet every Wednesday with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapakse.

The meeting is also attended by Defence Spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Head of the MCNS, Lakshman Hulugalle and Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena.

The meeting was held last Wednesday at 5.30 p.m. and the media heads in attendance were SLRC Chairman Ariyaratne Athugala, ITN Chairman Anura Siriwardena, Lake House Chairman, Bandula Padmakumara and SLBC Chairman Sunil Sarath Perera. President's Media Secretary Chandrapala Liyanage and Newton Guneratne were also present at the meeting.

At the outset of the meeting, Basil inquired into the functions of each institution. Gotabhaya inquired if there were any changes that have taken place due to Wijedasa Rajapaksa's cross over.

All the media heads looked shocked and uncertain and it was Padmakumara who first spoke. "All is over. The Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya and Mangala's team in Lake House behaved as if the UNP has come to power," he said. Other media heads agreed and said that the cross over of UNP provincial council members to the government was overshadowed by Rajapaksa's cross over.

"This is a game played by Mangala. We have kept a close watch on Sripathi's movements. We will tell you how we plan to counter it as well. There is a Tamil man at the Taj called Shanmugam. It can be said that there is a connection between him and Sripathi. Chandrapala Liyanage has evidence to show that Sripathi has connections with a man called Mahesh, who is one of Shanmugam's friends. We have videoed the house. Take those clips from Chandrapala and start giving publicity to them from tomorrow. Say that it is a conspiracy," Basil said.

Basil spoke of the political game although there was a lot going on behind the scenes.

That was of Mahesh, who was said to be Shanmugam's friend.

Mahesh and Sripathi know each other and it was Mahesh who was in touch with Sripathi.

Sripathi had met Mahesh at several functions and Mahesh is also well-known by many politicians. The government needed to show a connection between Shanmugam who was staying at Taj Samudra Hotel and Sripathi and therefore, the CID as well as the President's media unit kept a close watch on Mahesh.

The police finally said that they needed a statement from Mahesh, which was known by both Basil and Gotabhaya.

Basil who did not give background details to the media heads said that since Mahesh was going to be arrested at night, wide publicity should be given to it.

Mahesh's friends in the government did not know about the conspiracy that was being carried out against him. Mahesh decided to inform his friends of the sudden turn of events.

He immediately informed two of his friends, Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Mervyn Silva. Silva who was unaware of Basil and Gotabhaya's plan with regard to Mahesh and Shanmugam immediately called the CID chief. Silva told the CID chief to release Mahesh as he was one of his good friends.

The CID chief responded by saying that he was unable to do anything about it as it was an order from the higher authorities. He also said that it was only Gotabhaya or the President who could order his release.

Senaratne also came forward to help his friend. He decided to take the matter to the President. He told the President that Mahesh was one of his friends and was not involved in any suspicious activities. He also said that Mahesh had met Sripathi while he was en route to some place.

Basil and Gotabhaya who were unaware of any of these dialogues told the state media heads to give publicity to the story that was woven around Sripathi, Shanmugam and Mahesh. However, that night, the state media institutions also received orders not to give too much prominence to the story.

The Dinamina newspaper last Thursday published an article stating that a millionaire Tiger was in Colombo to buy government MPs. However, the newspaper made it a point not mention Mahesh's name anywhere in the article.

Basil also told the media heads that Arjuna Ranatunge would also join the opposition. He also said that mud-slinging posters on them have already been printed and that Wickrema from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and another director, Prasanna would help in carrying out the work.

Basil then asked the state media heads if they had any proposals.

"What is the course of action we plan to take as things are not going well? There is a big game going on. There should be a massive media campaign for this. If not the tables will turn," Newton Guneratne said. Others agreed and said that Rajapaksa's cross over was the beginning of a massive game plan.

They also said that apart from Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, former President Chandrika Kumaratunge also played a key role in formulating the game.

Basil said that a meeting would be called with all party organizers and if the situation turns for the worse, then parliament would be dissolved. Rambukwella also agreed with the idea.

"We have won the war, the best is to dissolve Parliament and go for an election," he said.

Lakshman Hukugalle however gave a different opinion. "No we have to somehow win the budget. We have to get the JVP. Then we can prorogue Parliament and go for an election," he said.

Padmakumara did not agree. "No, that is not wise. The situation today is not good. The battle for survival from hunger is the key issue. Even our correspondents say it. If this problem continues then what happened in 1977 will happen again. The main problem now is the cost of living and therefore an election is not suitable now," he said.

"Yes, that is true. The President wants get the JVP's support," Basil said.

Then everyone agreed that things would be a little different if an election was called after winning the budget.

"Yes, we are trying to accept the JVP's proposals. The problem is their condition to dissolve the APRC. That was a committee formulated by the President and it is not easy to dissolve. Also, if it is done so, then the minority parties would have a problem with it. Let's try to settle it. Also, remember that we are dealing only with Wimal. But he does not have the power in the party. The power is with Anura Kumara and Tilvin. Luckily for us Somawansa Amerasinghe is with Wimal. Wimal has Kularatne, Chandrasena Wijesinghe, Lalkantha and a few others. Anura Kumara and Tilvin have the support of _ members of the politburo. Do not attack the JVP at this moment. If that happens then we will not be able to get what we want. I have details of all Anura Kumara's deals. I will give them at the appropriate time. For now, let's not attack the JVP," Basil said.

The next to be discussed was the JHU and its support to the government. The media heads asked if the JHU would support the government at the budget.

"There is a problem. There is a problem with four of their members. Jeyaraj has been appointed to look into it. Sripathi has also dealt with them. Although Champika is with us, there are several problems with it as well. Even Thondaman has had discussions with Mangala. Although Baiz is with us, Hakeem has spoken to Mangala. Therefore we have to somehow get the JVP's support," Basil said. It was further told by Basil that any one suspected of crossing over will be promised what they want and then sidelined after the victory.

The next person to be discussed was Nandana Gunathileka.

Basil said that although the government was in a position to get his support, it would then lose the support of the JVP. Therefore, they decided to consider Gunathileka as a bonus.

Battle in COPE to protect a Lanka Puthra

The hidden animosity between the government and the JVP came out in the open in Parliament last week at the meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).

The COPE meeting that day was chaired by Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa in the absence of the Committee Chairman Parliamentarian Wijedasa Rajapaksa.

It was the Lankaputhra Bank that was to be taken up for discussion by the committee. The members of the committee started to question the bank officials on the workings of the bank.

JVP MP and COPE member Piyasiri Wijenayake asked the officials if they had brought with them a report, which is learnt to have included a statement by the Central Bank critical of Lankaputhra Bank Head, Vass Gunewardena.

Initially, the officials maintained that they did not have any such report with them. With continued questioning on the matter by Wijenayake, the officials slowly changed their stance.

When Wijenayake asked the officials if they had received such a letter from the Central Bank, the officials said that they did not have it with them at that time as the bank had received it only a few days ago.

Wijenayake then said that the officials had to table the report at the next COPE meeting.

As soon as Wijenayake said this the whole meeting turned out to be a heated debate. It was Minister Mervyn Silva who first stood and protested against Wijenayake's comment.

"This is funny. Is the COPE, the CID or the government? They cannot be allowed to hold inquiries as they please. You do not have to give the letter that has been requested and you do not need to bring any such thing to this," he said.

Wijenayake ignored Silva's comments and continued to tell the bank officials to bring with them the report to the next COPE meeting.

The next to interfere was Presidential Advisor and newly appointed Parliamentarian Basil Rajapakse.

"The COPE is not a place to bring down every report in the government. This is funny. Why should confidential reports be brought to this meeting? Is there anything confidential in it then? That is not there as everything that happens here goes to the papers. Besides the COPE does not have the power to bring any one it pleases before it and call for any report. I agree with Mervyn," Rajapakse said.

After listening to Rajapakse, Wijenayake responded. "You have entered Parliament recently. Therefore, when you are being appointed to these kinds of places, please learn the rules and privileges of these committees before you come. Also, if you do not know the functions of a committee like the COPE, then you must ask some one who knows about it and learn. Do not behave in this manner just because you are the President's brother," Wijenayake said.

Rajapakse said that he was well aware of the standing orders.

"I know what the standing orders are. The COPE does not have such a power as being stated. Does the Finance Ministry Secretary function according to the needs of COPE? Public servants are not bound by it," he said.

Silva then spoke in support of Rajapakse and said, "I do not know about it, but I do know that when the President's brother comes here and makes a statement, we are bound to adhere to it."

Wijenayake responded to Silva's comments in a humorous manner.

"We are members of the JVP and we do not do dirty work for others. We learnt about parliamentary traditions before coming here. We know exactly what the standing orders are. That is why we requested the report to continue with the inquiry," he said.

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake then intervened.

"Basil, please read carefully about the standing orders. It clearly states that the COPE has the right to request for any report or letter from any state institution. Therefore it is better if you could study it well before speaking," Karunanayake said.

Rajapakse did not agree with Karunanayake and said, "I do not agree with it. There is a chairman, please make your observation on this."

Wijenayake responded before Yapa could say a word and said, "Please do not speak in a manner to protect your portfolio just because you are now in front of the President's brother. If there is any greed for the portfolio, then you should leave that seat. All this time everyone who sat on that seat protected its dignity. Therefore, please keep that in mind when you respond. Besides, if someone is trying to control the COPE like this, then we would leave this meeting. We will complain about this to the Speaker as well as Wijedasa Rajapaksa."

Soon after Wijenayake made this stern statement, Rajapakse changed his stance and agreed with him and even agreed that the report should be tabled before the committee.

Budget blues and crossovers

It would be proper to say that it was the government that felt a greater heat of the budget last week.

The reason was the decisions arrived at by the JVP central committee and the possibility of the government being defeated at the budget vote.

Presidential advisor and MP Basil Rajapakse received information that many government MPs were planning to cross over to the opposition and that even unwillingly, the JVP was being pushed to vote against the government in the budget.

When discussing this issue, Basil said that before a government member sits in the opposition, measures should be taken to get an UNPer to cross over to government ranks. They decided on several UNP MPs to approach on the matter and they were approached with the intention of getting them to sit in Government benches by either Tuesday or Wednesday last week.

However, when all their attempts failed, it was Minister S. M. Chandrasena who brought in the best news that Basil could have heard at the time. The news was that UNP Western Provincial Councilor Duminda Silva, whose brother Raynor Silva's radio license for ABC Radio Networks was withdrawn by the government, was interested in joining the government.

"These fellows are trying to join to get back their license," Basil said. Later Basil realized Duminda Silva's importance as he realized that he could not find any other UNPer to join the government.

Basil summoned Chandrasena and asked him to bring Silva for a meeting. After a lengthy discussion, Basil sent out word that Silva was to join the government and the news was given wide publicity.

Basil, Chandrasena and Silva then met with the President.

The President also agreed and after making a huge hue and cry, Silva was accepted in to the government.

The euphoria however died soon after Basil heard that a government MP was planning  to crossover to the opposition. He also heard from a reliable source that the UNP was in the process of securing the necessary numbers to defeat the budget.

Basil immediately informed of it to the President and discussed the next course of action.

They believed that if the JVP does not announce by the 19th of its decision to abstain from voting, it would be a risk for the government to go for the budget vote.

It was discussed that going for a general election after being defeated at the budget would be a negative factor for the government. They believed that if there was no clear indication of the government being able to pass the budget, Parliament should be dissolved the day before, 18th.

Basil also said that in the meantime, it would be wise for the government do everything in its power for its members to prevent them from joining the opposition.

"Minister and MPs who show doubt and fear have to be looked after well, but after the budget, I will take care of it," the President said.

Wijedasa takes on Rajitha

COPE Chairman and MP Wijedasa Rajapakse sat in the opposition last week.

Rajapaksa crossed the floor and made a hard hitting statement much to the amazement of every government parliamentarian present at the time. What was even more surprising were the reasons adduced for his cross over.

Rajapaksa's decision shocked even President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers' company.

After crossing over, Rajapaksa went to the MP's cafeteria to have lunch. A large number of people gathered around him at the time. Many were the government members who surrounded him.

After explaining reasons for his decision, Rajapaksa told the government MPs that he was never to leave the government, but was compelled to do so. He also explained the difficulties he had to face in his own government and with his own President.

Minister Dilan Perera is one of Rajapaksa's close friends and he too was there at the time.

"I would not find fault with Wijedasa's decision. It is true that it would have been better if he did not cross over to the opposition, but he was compelled to do so. I have questions about how Wijedasa was treated," Perera said.

Rajapaksa met Minister Rajitha Senaratne in the parliament lobby on his way out from the cafeteria not long after.

Senaratne has had his differences with Rajapaksa for a long time. The reason was the fact that it was Rajapaksa who took Senaratne to courts over the sale of expired pharmaceuticals, which resulted in the latter losing his place in parliament.

"You are trying to show that you have a clean character? The Inland Revenue Department has asked you to pay taxes since you have evaded it in 1999," Senaratne said.

"Do not  speak like a child. That is the way. Everyone cannot pay taxes as soon as they are asked to do so. Taxpayers have their own issues as well. When taxes are not paid, they are asked to pay and it is paid in due course," Rajapaksa responded.

Rajapaksa however could not continue the discussion as the SLFP members around him decided to speak on behalf of him. "Don't speak like that. He crossed over to the opposition because he had issues with the government. We won't abandon him because of that. We will solve the problems and get him back to us. You are trying to make things worse by interfering like this. You saw Mahinda Rajapakse's greatness only recently. Please leave we are in the process of discussing the problems," they told Senaratne.

 As the MPs came to Wijedasa's defence the COPE Chairman gave a parting shot claiming that people who have not paid any taxes were raising queries about him.

Majority in JVP opt to defeat budget

The budget heat has now reached its peak with the vote on the second reading scheduled for tomorrow,  November 19.

The main opposition, UNP, has already said that it would vote against the budget. However, the JVP has become the deciding factor.

In a show of power, the JVP said that it would only announce its decision on the 19th, the day of the vote. Be that as it may, the JVP too had to last week face an eventuality that they never anticipated they would have to face.

With the government trying its best to get the budget passed while the UNP is working towards its defeat in Parliament, the battle heat has now encroached the JVP as well. The JVP was initially under the impression that arriving at a decision with regard to the budget would be a cakewalk. Realising that it was not the case, the JVP summoned its central committee and the politburo several times last week to discuss the budget.

The central committee, which is the main decision making body of the party, discussed at length the impact of the budget. In the meeting, a majority, about 26 members, argued that the only option left with the JVP was to vote against the budget.

It was Wimal Weerawansa, K. D. Lalkantha and two other members who argued that voting against the budget and defeating the government would imply that the JVP was indirectly supportive of the UNP. Therefore, it was their opinion that the JVP should not get involved in the vote and allow the government and the UNP to battle it out.

Although Weerawansa and several others believed the JVP should not vote against the budget, majority of the members did not agree with it.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Vijitha Herath said that the party's tactic of remaining silent about its decision with the intention of preventing the UNP from getting its numbers organized has failed. They said that discussions with several UNP members as well those from the SLFP (M) group showed that they had already secured more than the number initially anticipated. Therefore, they believed that the UNP would be in a position to defeat the budget.

The members then discussed that given such a backdrop, the JVP abstaining from voting would be a futile act and at such a time the JVP would have to bear a huge responsibility even more than President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Dissanayake also said that the UNP was planning to increase its numbers by reducing the numbers with the government and hence making it up to the JVP to carry the burden of helping the government sustain itself. He therefore said that the JVP should vote against the budget and face the consequences later.

The central committee then started to discuss the pros and cons of facing another election if the budget was defeated.

After a lengthy discussion, the committee decided that even if the budget was passed, the JVP would have to launch a massive campaign to defeat the government by June next year.

However, several decisions were also taken at the meeting on how the party should act in case the budget was defeated and a general election was called. The party decided to postpone arriving at a final decision on the budget till the last minute as they said it was important to study the situation closely till the last date.

Although a decision was yet to be made, the central committee members were divided as 24 for voting against the budget as opposed to four who felt it was the wrong move.

The decisions arrived at the JVP central committee was unofficially discussed in the opposition lobby in Parliament. The response from the JVP MPs when asked as to what they had decided on with regard to a budget vote, they said they were not prepared to face an election.

Astrology holds sway on budget vote

Today marks the second anniversary of President Mahinda Rajapakse assuming office as the President of Sri Lanka.

Two year ago, on November 18, 2005, an astrologer called this newspaper office and said he had details that no other media institution was willing to listen to.

He said that since he was in possession of the birth times of all the leading politicians in the country, he had studied their charts. He also said that he had studied details about Rajapakse's victory and found exactly how long the government would last.

The astrologer then visited our newspaper office and said that two years in to office, the President would face a great crisis. He said that the crisis would be caused by people from his family and their actions.

Today, the astrologer's prediction seems to be true.

The greatest crisis faced by the Rajapakse administration so far began last week. That was with the presentation of the government's budget proposals for 2008.

Rajapakse made it a point to inquire into the pros and cons of the budget presentation from astrologers and was asked to hold both the votes with regard to the budget before November 30. They have said that the government would be faced with a difficult period after November 30 and therefore the votes on the second and the third reading of the budget should be held before November 30.

Although, the vote on the second reading was scheduled for November 19, the third reading vote was scheduled for December 14.

However, the astrologers advised the President to hold the vote on the second reading on November 19, as it was the best day for it. The problem however was on the vote on the third reading.

That was the issue taken up for discussion between officials at the Presidential Secretariat and Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. After the discussion, Fernandopulle informed the Speaker and other party leaders that due to the security threat on the VIPs following the killing of LTTE's S.P. Tamilselvan, the budget debate should be ended before November 30.

The JVP and the UNP denied Fernandopulle's request and said the debate should continue till December.

Therefore, even unwillingly, the government had to schedule the vote of the third reading for December 14.

The next issue to be discussed was the direction the President had to face while presenting the budget. He was advised by the astrologers that presenting the budget facing either the Speaker or the opposition benches would be unlucky. According to astrological predictions, the President had to present the budget looking at the backbenches of the government side.

Since it was a difficult task, the astrologers said that the President had to at least start present the budget looking at the government backbenches. The plan therefore was for someone in the backbenches to say something to the President when he prepares himself to present the budget and the President would then look in the direction as if to respond to him and then present the budget.

The task then was handed over to Deputy Aviation Minister Sarath Guneratne. Just as the President was to present the budget Guneratne hailed the President and Rajapakse turned to him with a smile before presenting the budget.

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