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The government last week evicted Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga from her official Independence Avenue residence and transferred her staff to the public service pool. The office equipment and furniture were also removed with Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga renting a separate house to store the items. Picture shows the Former President watching the furniture being taken away  ---  Photo by Lalith Perera

 

Presidential Advisor on cricket asks Rs 300,000 monthly pay packet

 

Arjuna to be IC chairman

 

Mihin runs into more 
money trouble 

 

Pervasive fear among IDPs - UN 

 

Lack of handcuffs affecting Prisons Department 

 

 

 

 

 

CBK queries fate of Rs. 2,500 mn tsunami funds left in Central Bank

Money left in presidential account for housing

Questions over where the money was spent

Shocked over non completion of houses

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has called on the government to explain the fate that befell a sum of Rs. 2,500 million received by the country as tsunami aid that was in an account at the Central Bank under a presidential account.

Kumaratunga's query came in the backdrop of a statement made by the World Bank that about 15,000 families are still without permanent houses, three years after the tsunami.

The tsunami waves hit the island in December 2004 during Kumaratunga's tenure in office. In the aftermath of the tsunami, a special presidential fund was established for the smooth channeling of funds received by the country for the rebuilding process.

When asked by The Sunday Leader about the funds left over by the tsunami, Kumaratunga said that there was a sum of Rs. 2,500 million in the account when she left office in end 2005 and said she would like to know what happened to those monies which were to be used for housing.

"I used to present a full statement of accounts and the amount of income every month for the 11 months I was in office after the tsunami and when I left there was over Rs. 2,500 million in the account," she said.

Kumaratunga expressed surprise at the non-completion of houses in the aftermath of the tsunami as the necessary arrangements were already in place to meet the entire housing needs in the areas affected.

"I'm surprised that they have still not completed the houses because I certainly supervised the entire reconstruction process at the beginning every day and there after twice a week. And at the time I left 11 months after the tsunami, the total number of houses that were totally or partially destroyed was about 72,000 and we had made arrangements through TAFREN to already provide them more than two thirds of the houses, meaning that construction had either begun or it was about to begin," she said.

According to Kumaratunga lands were released, money was available and other arrangements were made with the contractors or with the owners in relation to the owner driven programme by the end of 2005.

The government according to Kumaratunga had then received a huge grant from the World Bank and secondly quite a lot of countries undertook the reconstruction.

"Even Turkey and other countries like China gave us money. In addition to that what was not undertaken by foreign agencies was picked up by Sri Lankan benefactors very generously.  We were going to build the rest of the houses not picked up by anybody with money from the special presidential fund, which was in the bank," she said.

The money that came into the fund, Kumaratunga said, was from Sri Lankans all over the world who sent individual donations and the cabinet was presented a report on it once a month.

"I used to present a full statement of accounts  and when I left there was over Rs. 2,500 million in the account. The lands and projects were all identified," she said.

Kumaratunga also said that apart from the reconstruction of houses, the only other project that was left undone was the reconstruction of the one and only heritage city in Sri Lanka, Galle, to bring it back to it's past glory. "We had begun the work and as far as I understand the people are saying houses are still not built and I am surprised that the Galle project is completely stopped," she said.

" I wonder where this money is and what this money has been used for. I'd really like to know as a person who spent a lot of energy and love on this project, I'd like to know what this money is now being used for," Kumaratunga said.


Official vehicle with unlimited fuel also urged

Presidential Advisor on cricket asks Rs 300,000 monthly pay packet

The newly appointed Presidential Advisor on Cricket, D.S. de Silva has requested for a huge financial package from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), The Sunday Leader learns.

In a written communication to the Chief Executive Officer of SLC, De Silva had reportedly asked for a monthly payment of Rs. 300,000 and a car befitting a director with an unlimited fuel allowance, informed sources said.

According to SLC sources the financial package has been sought via e-mail communication from CEO Duleep Mendis.

At least three top officials confirmed the SLC receiving the communication in the name of De Silva but the Presidential Advisor was not available for comment.

The SLC sources said in addition to the financial package, which also included an unlimited mobile phone facility; De Silva had wanted office space with a separate staff under him at the Cricket Board.

It is learned De Silva had further called for voting rights at board meetings.

A top SLC source said the request for the financial package would be submitted to Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge for approval.


Arjuna to be IC chairman

Government parliamentarian and former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga will be the new chairman of the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket.

The Sunday Leader learns Ranatunga will receive his letter of appointment next week from the Sports Ministry.

Informed sources said, on a presidential directive Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge signed Ranatunga's letter of appointment before leaving for the United States last week. Ranatunga will succeed outgoing Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa.

It is learned Ranatunga will most likely assume office from January 7, 2008. With the appointment of Ranatunga, other changes in the Interim Committee are also expected to follow, the sources said. Contacted by The Sunday Leader, Ranatunga said he had heard his appointment letter was signed by the Minister but had not received confirmation on when it would be delivered.


Mihin runs into more money trouble

Mihin Air has been compelled to ground its A320 aircraft plying to Indian destinations due to non payment of dues.

The Bulgarian company that leased out the A320 aircraft to Mihin on a wet lease has instructed its pilots not to fly the aircraft as Mihin had not settled its dues under the lease.

Mihin has two long haul aircraft, an A320 leased from a Bulgarian company and an A321 leased from a Turkish company. The controversial budget airline pays Rs. 90,802,000.00 as leasing charges on a wet lease that includes cabin crew and pilots.

As at 31.03.2007 Mihin's operational costs stood at Rs. 195,410,886.41 and records reveal the budget airline is making a loss of about Rs. 8-9 million a day.

Though a budget airline Mihin, incurs a huge sun of Rs. 25,249,614.13 for advertising and promotions and Rs. 16,129,577.06 for staff salaries and allowances.

Mihin currently flies to seven destinations. They are Dubai, Male, Bangkok, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandram, Buddha Gaya and Singapore. The debt ridden Mihin currently owes a sum of Rs. 300 million to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) for fuel purchases and over USD one million to SriLankan Airlines for ground handling and other services.  


Pervasive fear among IDPs - UN

By Amantha Perera

There is a sense of pervasive fear among the internally displaced in the country, the top UN official on IDPs warned last week as UN agencies reported that they were unable to move any food supplies to IDPs in Mulaithivu and parts of Kilinochchi District.

"The representative was struck by a pervasive sense of fear and uncertainty among those he spoke. Sources of insecurity are varied, but include the following: continued incursions and attacks by the LTTE; disappearances, abductions and looting; threats and attacks upon individuals by irregular and armed groups such as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP)," the UN said of the visit by Walter K„lin, the representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

Kalin was in the country between December 14 and 21 and visited Puttalam, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts but was not given clearance to visit Kilinochchi by the government.

Ironically during the time of his visit the World Food Programme said it was unable to move food supplies to Mulaithivu and parts of Kilinochchi. "Due to restrictions on movements to Mulaithivu District, WFP was unable to transport food supplies for 8,997 displaced families (32,096 persons). Food was also not transported for WFP, FFE, FFW, FFT and MCN programmes over the past three weeks. In Kilinochchi, Kandawalai AGA located along A-35 road on Paranthan-Mulaithivu road restricted, affecting WFP programmes in the area," the Inter Agency Standing Committee (ISAC) said.

ISAC did not specify what the restrictions were, but aid agencies working in Wanni have complained of increasing restrictions, some imposed by the Tigers, others due to security fears due to the prevalent security situation.

Kalin meanwhile praised the government efforts to resettle the 200,000 IDPs in the east, the mass resettlement had drawn criticism from UN and other agencies at the on set in March 2007.

"Indeed, the majority of the more than 220,000 persons who had to flee their homes in the Eastern Province between April 2006 and March 2007 have returned, been provided with transitional shelter, and are beginning to regain their former lives. While I appreciate what has been achieved, targeted measures in line with international human rights standards and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in the areas of security, livelihoods, and humanitarian access are essential if these returns are to be sustainable in both the near and long-term," he said.

He also requested the government to allow increased access to agencies working on protection relayed issues.

"Better access for agencies and NGOs working on protection would improve confidence among IDP populations because these agencies can identify and promptly facilitate the local resolution of individual concerns," he said.


Lack of handcuffs affecting Prisons Department

By Nirmala Kannangara

The lack of handcuffs in the Prisons Department has made it impossible for authorities to produce prisoners before courts, Prisons Department sources said.

Prisons Department sources told The Sunday Leader that the department has run short of handcuffs, which has resulted in difficulty in producing prisoners to courts.

"There were instances where we had to take the prisoners without handcuffs. Luckily we managed to guard them but we cannot expect the prisoners to obey the prison guards every day. Anything could happen if the required handcuffs are not supplied," the sources said.  

However Commissioner of Prisons, Major General (Rtd) Vajira Wijegunawardena told The Sunday Leader that although there was a shortage of handcuffs still the department could manage its work without any hindrance, as there are enough wrist cuffs and gang chains available in all prisons in the country.

"At present there is a 50% shortage of handcuffs in the Prisons Department but we would be receiving the necessary stocks by January 10," Wijegunawardena said.

According to Wijegunawardena handcuffs, wrist cuffs and gang chains are mostly used for major convicted prisoners and those who are serving minor sentences were not handcuffed regularly.

"Out of the total number of prisoners only 8.8% are serving jail terms for major offences. We use  hand and wrist cuffs only on these prisoners but not very often on minor offenders," Wijegunawardena further stated.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Supplies, Venura Gunawardena told The Sunday Leader that although some prison guards claim that there is a shortage of handcuffs in the department it has not caused a major threat to prison work.

"In two or three weeks we will be receiving the Chicago made handcuffs from the Police Department as we have already ordered 400 handcuffs to overcome the shortage," Gunawardena said.


Batticaloa prison inmates clash injuring two

Two persons were injured following a clash between the inmates of the Batticaloa prison on Friday, Batticaloa police said.

The attack was carried out on a group of 15 inmates who were on their way to the temple for their morning prayers.

The police stated that  the two inmates of the prison, Tharmaguhan and Ravich- andran who were injured due to the clash were receiving treatment.

It was reported that both these persons were critically injured as they were attacked with sharp weapons on their heads.

It was reported that members of paramilitary groups who were remanded in the prison had attacked the other inmates on Friday morning.

However, the Batticaloa police said that it could not be confirmed whether members of paramilitary groups had carried out this attack.

The police also stated that investigations were being carried out into the incident.

Meanwhile the TNA said that it had requested details about what had happened at the prison premises on Friday.

TNA Batticaloa Parliamentarian S. Jeyananthamoorthy told The Sunday Leader that his party had not taken any stance on this issue, as it was not aware of the actual reason for the clash.

"There are several stories. However, our stance will be revealed once we get to know the incident in detail," he said.


Duty waiver out from last week

Prices of essential items to skyrocket

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

Prices of several essential items are to increase with immediate effect as the seven-month duty concessions granted for 10 selected commodities by the government expired on December 25.

The government in March identified 10 consumer items and exempted them from tax for a period of seven months, which expired last week. However, the government has so far not decided to extend the duty waiver for a further period.

The government's decision not to continue with the duty waiver programme was informed to the commodity traders by Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunewardena who held meetings with them on Friday (28) and Saturday (29).

The Sunday Leader learns that Gunewardena at the meeting on Friday had requested the traders to clear their imported goods at the new prices (with duty), and to sell the goods at the old price.

The traders have however opposed it saying they would incur heavy losses if they were to sell the goods at a lower price after clearing them with the additional duty payments that have come into effect since the 25th.

Gunewardena had then told the traders that they should ask the opposition to stop protesting about the rising cost of consumer goods if the prices are to be increased.

However, Gunewardena had also said that he would see if any arrangement could be made and had asked the traders to meet him again yesterday.

When the traders met the Minister on Saturday, they were informed that nothing could be done till the government formulated a new programme, and that it would only be ready by mid next month.

The traders had then informed Gunewardena that they would have no option but to increase the prices of consumer goods as well.

When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Gunewardena agreed that the prices of essential items, which were earlier exempted from duty, would see an increase.

He said that the prices would have already increased as the duty waiver programme ended on the 25th.

Gunewardena said that politicians as well as the people who agitated that there was no reduction in essential items would now know the real prices and realise that the government had indeed reduced prices to an extent.

The government according to Gunewardena, had incurred a loss of Rs. 10 to 15 billion due to the duty waiver on selected consumer goods.

"The government incurred a loss of billions of rupees, which was even more than the amount that was allocated for Samurdhi. All this was done to provide some relief for the people. Prices of essential items were controlled to an extent as a result, but there was no positive response from anyone. Everyone criticized the move, the opposition even voted against the bill in parliament. So I guess now everyone can be happy because the "bad move" we took has been stopped. No one can find fault with me as I did my best and no one agreed with it. If I'm accused of anything I can always reason things out as the government did look at providing relief for the people," he said.

According to Gunewardena, prices of essential items would increase and the government would now have to look at a new programme as the seven-month programme has come to an end.

The Minister however could not give a time frame as to when the new programme would be put in place.


Tigers, TMVP recruiting children - UN

By Amantha Perera

The Tigers and the breakaway Tamil Makkal Viduthali Pulikal (TMVP) continued to recruit underage children for armed combat during 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council.

"While there has been limited progress in the release of children associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Tamil Makkal Viduthali Pulikal (TMVP)/Karuna faction as previously called for, both groups continue to abduct children, direct attacks against civilians and impede the access of humanitarian actors," the report submitted to the Security Council's Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict that was made public on December 28 said.

The report said that both parties failed to allow UN officials access to verify reports of underage recruits and engage in a transparent process to release them.

"From 1 November 2006 to 31 August 2007, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) received reports of 262 children recruited by LTTE, including 32 who were re-recruited. This represents a significant reduction in the rate of reported recruitment of children by LTTE, as compared to the previous reporting period," the Ki-Moon report said.

In the previous 12 month reporting period 756 children had been recruited including 97 re-recruits. December 2006 recorded the highest monthly recruitment by the Tigers at 62.

"From 1 November 2006 to 31 August 2007, 41 per cent of the children reported to have been recruited or re-recruited (109 children) were from Batticaloa district, followed by Kilinochchi, with 27 per cent of reports received of children recruited from the district (71 children). Jaffna experienced the lowest reports of child recruitment among the north and east districts, with one child recruited, one child re-recruited and one child released during the period, which reflects a substantial reduction," the report said adding that the average age of the children recruited by the Tigers was 15 years while 169 were boys and 61 girls.

"From 1 November 2006 to 31 August 2007, UNICEF received reports of 207 children recruited by the TMVP/Karuna faction, including 45 who were re-recruited. This represents an increase in the rate of reported recruitment by the TMVP/Karuna faction, as compared to the previous 12-month reporting period. The majority of children were abducted and recruited by the TMVP/faction in Batticaloa, followed by Ampara, Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa districts," the report said of the TMVP.

During the same period, 71 children were released from the group while 65 reportedly escaped.

"Reports have been received that families or recruits are receiving a monthly allowance ranging from SL Rs 6,000 to SL Rs 12,000 (approximately $60 to $120). UNICEF has recorded 36 cases of recruited children who are receiving payments in Batticaloa district alone."

"Abduction and recruitment of children by the TMVP/Karuna faction continued to take place from the streets, temples, homes and internally displaced persons camps in the east, mainly in Government-controlled areas. Reports were also received that children were recruited and abducted in areas in close proximity to Sri Lankan security forces offices and checkpoints," the report added.


Foreign lobbyists also to help improve Lanka's global image

Worried about Sri Lanka's international image, the Foreign Ministry has proposed ways of improving it including the viability of hiring foreign lobbyists for the job.

In a circular to nearly 20 of Sri Lanka's diplomatic missions, especially those in the west, the Foreign Ministry has also invited ideas from our diplomats and said any proposal to hire lobbyists would also be considered and funds allocated if the idea is accepted.

Titled the "Sri Lanka Political Image Building Campaign," the Ministry's Director General of Public Communication, Ravinatha Aryasinha has listed several ideas that appear to have emanated from an advisory group appointed by the Ministry's Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona.

Among the proposals put forward by the Kohona 'think tank' are for our diplomatic missions to get together friends of Sri Lanka; form a network of committed political lobby groups; encourage the Sri Lankan diaspora in the respective countries to help; reach out to Tamil groups including Indian Tamil groups and organise road shows involving "goodwill ambassadors" from Sri Lanka.

Among the proposals is that diplomatic missions should look at the need to fund lobby groups to undertake the task of improving Sri Lanka's image.

Aryasinha in his circular says in regard to foreign lobbyists, that Baroness Greengross of Notting Hill has already made a proposal in this connection but gives our diplomatic missions no information at all on what it is.

Baroness Greengross, formerly Sally Greengross, was elevated to the House of Lords in 2000 and was for several years connected with "Age Concern" an organisation concerned with elderly persons in the UK.

In a recent interview Dr. Kohona had mentioned meeting her during a brief stopover in London.

Asked by The Sunday Leader about the Foreign Ministry's image building exercise, former senior Sri Lankan diplomats and prominent business personalities scoffed at the idea.

"It seems that after almost one year in office secretary Kohona is trying to justify his existence with having a think tank that is trying to reinvent the wheel. He must be thinking that these are all new ideas, which have just been discovered. If he had served in some of our missions abroad he would have known that we had been doing much of this all along. We did not hire foreign lobbyists because we didn't have the money. We did not have road shows either because at that time there was no need to improve our international image. It was already good until the politicians created the mess," said one former diplomat who had served in several capitals.

"This is one way for some so-called lobbyists to make a lot of money. That includes Sri Lankans who pretend to lobby important politicians and media. Let the ministry say who the people in this advisory group are for the information of the public. Then we will know how competent they are. As for road shows, the tourism industry and the investment promoters are already doing do.

"What do they want more road shows for? To get politicians and their families and friends to do some free travelling I suppose," said a senior tourism and business personality.

Besides our diplomatic missions in the west, the circular is also said to have been sent to those in Malaysia, Australia and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region.


Teachers to strike during first school week

The government's failure to rectify the salary anomalies of government teachers by December 31 would bring school activities in the island to a complete standstill during the first week of January, the Ceylon Teachers Service Union (CTSU) said.

Although Education Minister Susil Premjayanth on October 28 assured the trade unions to address the grievances faced by the teachers before December 31, neither the minister nor the government has so far honoured the pledge, claimed the CTSU sources.

General Secretary, CTSU, Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Sunday Leader that unless the government honoured the promises given to them on October 28, all government teachers would launch a crippling strike to obstruct school activities in the first week of the new school term.

According to Jayasinghe, the CTSU has sent a reminder to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on December 20, of the cabinet assurance given to the trade unions on October 28 but the Premier has so far failed to acknowledge receipt of the letter and whether the promises would be honoured. (NK)


Sripathi asks Speaker to appoint SC to probe Tiger deal

Member of parliament and SLFP (M) coordinator Sripathi Sooriyarachchi has in writing requested Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara to appoint the parliamentary select committee to probe the secret deal between the LTTE and President Mahinda Rajapakse as approved by parliament.

Sooriyarachchi has said since parliament has already approved the proposal to appoint a select committee, the Speaker should without further delay appoint the committee.

Sooriyarachchi earlier in a motion called for the appointment of a select committee to probe allegations that the Mahinda Rajapakse campaign had entered into a secret agreement with the LTTE prior to the presidential election.

It has been alleged that the LTTE enforced a boycott of the election in the north and east following the agreement and that a large sum of money was given to the LTTE.

Contacted by The Sunday Leader, Sooriyarachchi confirmed he had written to the Speaker and said that there was already an inordinate delay in appointing the committee.

"All that has to be done now is for the committee to be appointed and the proceedings to commence. Why is there a delay? The President also cannot prorogue parliament because the government has only 111 MPs now and if parliament is prorogued, the opposition will have a majority in all the select committees to be appointed as well as the COPE and PAC. Therefore, without proroguing they are also delaying the appointment of the select committee," Sooriyarachchi said. 


Tourist arrivals show signs of picking up

By Nirmala Kannangara

Tourist arrivals in the country have significantly gone up during the last two months, President, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and Managing Director, Jetwing Hotels, Hiran Cooray said.

According to Cooray although the leisure industry suffered immensely during the first 10 months of the year it was able to bounce back on a positive note during November and December.

"Since November the industry is fairing significantly well but still we could not achieve what we accomplished in 2002-2004 during the cessation of hostilities. The industry flourished really well during that period but still, we are happy over the present situation and also in regard to the forward bookings till February," claimed Cooray.

Meanwhile, Director/ CEO Serendib Leisure Management, Srilal Miththapala told The Sunday Leader that other than in the Cultural Triangle areas all hotels in the other parts of the country had faired well during the last two months.

"In the Cultural Triangle areas the hotels got a beating as a result of terrorist activities but the other hotels in the country have faired well during the first two months of the winter season," claimed Miththapala.

"From December 29 we were receiving 5-6 Russian charter flights which looks good for the industry. If this trend continues it could boost the country's tourism industry despite the conflict which is confined to the north and the east," Miththapala added.

Meanwhile, Immediate Past President, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Vasantha Leelananda told The Sunday Leader that he is optimistic that the present positive trend in tourist arrivals would further improve in 2008.

"Although there were set backs during the first few months in 2007 once the year progressed tourist arrivals increased steadily. It is mainly due to the relaxation of the French travel advisory and the softening of the strict travel advisories of the other tourism generating markets. As long as the war is confined to the war torn areas the industry will fair well," Leelananda claimed.


Haris no more

Haris Hulugalle, former chairman of Times of Ceylon, State Development and Construction Corporation, and former Director of Multi Packs (Ceylon) Ltd and Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd expired on December 22 after a brief illness. His funeral was held privately on December 23.

Haris opting for early retirement resigned from Leader Publications and Multi Packs in 1996. Haris Hulugalle was a very lively and exuberant personality in town and lived life to its fullest.

He was immensely helpful at the commencement of The Sunday Leader and encouraged the management during the formative years. Never one to hog the limelight, Hulugalle was happiest amongst his close friends. He had an in built talent for creativity. Having opted for early retirement he pursued his passions amongst which riding horses took pride of place.

He leaves behind his devoted wife Neela and daughters, Shaniya, Ameena and Aini.

May the turf lie softly on him. 


Meeting place of LTTE high rankers destroyed - Govt.

The military last week said it had destroyed a meeting place of the LTTE high rankers in Mulaithivu.

Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader that the meeting place, situated in Puthukudiyiruppu was destroyed by the air force based on information received that a meeting was being held in the area.

He stated that the military was unaware of the casualties or damage caused following the attack.

"The attack was carried out at around 12 noon on Friday. The attack was carried out based on information we had received that a meeting was being held in the area. However, we do not know the casualty details of the LTTE," Brig. Nanayakkara said.

The LTTE could not be contacted for a comment on the attack.


SLRC News Director leaves hospital fearing for his life

By Nirmala Kannangara

The staff of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) has requested the Inspector General of Police to provide security to its News Director following last Thursday's assault on him by Labour Minister  Mervyn Silva.

News Director, SLRC, T.M.G. Chandrasekara confirmed this to The Sunday Leader and said that Chairman SLRC has requested the IGP and the DIG Nugegoda to provide adequate security to him as his life was under threat following Thursday's assault on him.

According to Chandrasekara, following his complaint to the Cinnamon Gardens Police the police got him admitted to the accident service for observation but had to get discharged  fearing for his life.

"I was taken to the accident service by the Cinnamon Gardens police following my complaint but I had to get my self discharged on my own in fear for my life," Chandrasekara said.

Condemning the Labour Minister's ugly behaviour the JVP affiliated Rupavahini Corporation Employees' Union sources told The Sunday Leader that the alleged assault on the News Director would not be the last of its kind in media suppression.

"How many media personalities have been subjected to harassment by Mervyn Silva? All this time the government took every step to cover up the dirty work of Mervyn Silva and his son Malaka. Silva may have thought that since SLRC is a government institution he could act according to his whims and fancies. Despite he being a minister we taught him a good lesson that will not be erased from his memory for ever," the sources said.

Meanwhile, sources further stated that if the government calls for the explanation of the employees who assaulted the Minister and his thugs, the SLRC employees were ready to take stern trade union action against the government.

"If by any chance the government asks the SLRC to call for the explanations of the employees for their counter attack on Mervyn Silva  and his thugs we do not have any other option but to launch trade union action to teach the administration a lesson for its failure to uphold justice irrespective of the status of the persons involved," the sources said.


Keheliya to lead delegation to Abu Dhabi

By Kshanika Argent

A Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Keheliya Rambukwella is to head to Abu Dhabi early next year for a seminar and conference which is being held for ministers from labour receiving  and labour sending countries in the Asian region.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Deputy General Manager,  Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) L.K. Ruhunuge stated that the conference is expected to cover a wide range of issues including that of the welfare of Sri Lankan migrant workers.

Ruhunuge said that the conference is scheduled to be held for the fourth consecutive time in Abu Dhabi on January 21 to January 24.

According to Ruhunuge, this is the first time a labour receiving country is hosting the seminar. The first was held in Colombo in 2003 and the last one held in Indonesia.


Mano Ganesan to sue Dhinakara newspaper

Convener, Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) and Western People's Front (WPF) Leader Mano Ganesan, intends to take legal action against the SLFP affiliated Dhinakara newspaper for statements allegedly published in that paper which he claimed were defamatory.

Ganesan speaking to The Sunday Leader on the issue said that a letter of demand would be sent to the newspaper for statements allegedly published  on December 16.

He said the letter of demand would be sent tomorrow.

The newspaper had referred to Ganesan as one who represents the LTTE and who supports its activities.

In a letter to the SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, Ganesan has questioned as to why the government had not taken steps to arrest him if it considered him a representative of the LTTE as stated in Dhinakara.

Ganesan was first runner-up at the annual US Freedom Defender's Award early this month for his work against abductions in the country. 


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