They may have saved the
government from falling at the
budget by abstaining from voting and
the people seem to be returning the
favour to the JVP. When the party
launched a public collection
campaign last week, there was more
abstaining than participation with
the people battling for survival
rising cost of living. They
were in no mood to contribute to a
party that found the budget
under unofficial house arrest
JVP Colombo District Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti is
under unofficial house arrest, it is
Handunnetti was put under unofficial house arrest soon
after he informed of his decision to leave
the country with his family to the JVP
Before informing the politburo, Handunnetti had made
arrangements to leave the country with his
family first to Singapore and then to a
However, given the developments which followed his
announcement to leave the country,
Handunnetti has decided to leave his wife
and child in a safe location.
The Sunday Leader learns the JVP has split into two
factions following the decision to abstain
from voting on the third reading of the
One faction is being headed by the party's Propaganda
Secretary Wimal Weerawansa. It was earlier
reported in The Sunday Leader and its sister
paper Irudina that Weerawansa was being
supported by six other JVP members and
Handunnetti was identified as a Weerawansa
Upon hearing Handunnetti's decision to leave the country,
the JVP's politburo has held a special
meeting and it was decided at this meeting
to somehow prevent the member from going
According to sources from Handunnetti's family, the
hardliners in the JVP had asked the MP not
to leave the country under any circumstance
and has also warned him of the possible
repercussions he would have to face if he
decided to leave the country casting aside
the party order.
It is also learnt that Handunnetti attended parliamentary
sittings this month along with several
so-called hardliners of the party.
Handunnetti, a member of the Weerawansa faction has on
several occasions called on the party to
join the government by accepting ministerial
portfolios and working to strengthen the
It is reliably learnt that Weerawansa has sought the help
of the government to help him and the
members of his faction by initiating some
action against the JVP hardliners.
Weerwansa had also informed several members of the
government that Handunnetti was included in
the party delegation that met with Japanese
special envoy Yasushi Akashi last week in
order to cover up the issue from the media.
The JVP, which had received information that
Handunnetti's plight would be highlighted in
the media, has arranged for him to appear in
the Jana Handa programme telecast on TNL TV
tomorrow to cover up the controversy brewing
within the party.
Informed sources said the party hardliners feared
Handunnetti was going to be used from
overseas by Weerawansa and his loyalists to
implicate anti government members in the
party on various issues which would lead to
their arrest and the decision to prevent him
from going overseas was to overcome such an
delays appointing CC
President Mahinda Rajapakse is delaying the appointment
of the Constitutional Council despite a
written request made by Speaker W. J. M.
Lokubandara has informed Rajapakse that the minority
parties comprising the JVP, TNA and the
Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC) have
nominated former auditor general S. C.
Mayadunne as a member of the Constitutional
Council and that the composition was now
President Rajapakse had earlier made appointments to the
independent commissions bypassing the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution claiming the
Constitutional Council was not constituted
due to internal party conflicts within
The Speaker in a letter dated January 10 to Rajapakse has
further stated that the JHU did not agree to
the nomination of Mayadunne but that
according to Clause 41 A(E) in the 17th
Amendment if the majority of all minority
parties were agreeable, it was not necessary
to get the approval of the JHU.
The President however has not yet made the appointments
as required by law.
JHU MP Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thero in a letter to
Lokubandara has said that their party was
not informed of the nomination of Mayadunne
as a member to the Constitutional Council.
"It is the JHU, the TNA and the SLMC
that are known as the minority parties. Even
though the JVP is presently in the
opposition they contested the elections
under the UPFA," Ven. Ratana Thero
According to Ratana Thero the JHU has nominated
President's Counsel Douglas Wickramaratne as
a member of the Constitutional Council.
"We have no objection to the appointing
of Mayadunne as a member of the
However since the JHU was not informed of the appointing
of Mayadunne we have nominated Wickramaratne,"
Ratana Thero said.
CWC MP and General Secretary Arumugam Thondaman, JVP MP
Wimal Weerawansa and TNA MP R. Sampanthan in
letters to Lokubandara have stated that
their parties endorse the name of Mayadunne
as a member to the Constitutional Council.
Sampanthan in his letter to Lokubandara has
said that despite the advice of the Attorney
General, Mayadunne is yet to be appointed as
a member in Constitutional Council.
The members appointed to the Constitutional Council
Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara, Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake,
Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe, Former Supreme Court Judge
C. V. Wigneswaran, President's Counsel
Ranjit Abeysuriya, Kumar Nadesan, Javid
Yusuf and S. C. Mayadunne.
to go along with 13th
reveals secret deal with Wimal
A government minister has informed President Mahinda
Rajapakse that JVP Propaganda Secretary
Wimal Weerawansa had informed him that the
Marxists would agree to resolve the ethnic
conflict on the basis of the 13th Amendment
to the Constitution within a period of two
weeks after its presentation by President
Building Construction Minister Rajitha Senaratne had
informed the President that Weerawansa had
privately told him that he would get the JVP
to agree to the final proposals of the APRC
provided it was based on the 13th Amendment
within a period of two weeks.
Senaratne had told the President that although he had
clashes with Weerawansa while in the UNP,
since crossing over and assuming duties as a
government minister, he has built a good
rapport with the Marxists.
Senaratne had also said that he has been discussing
issues related to the APRC with Weerawansa
and that the latter has asked him not to
worry too much about the APRC proposals and
the JVP's stance on it.
According to Senaratne, Weerawansa had given the
assurance that like the party's change of
stance during the last stage of the budget
vote, the JVP would adopt a similar stance
with regard to the APRC proposals and that
the party would finally agree to it.
It is also learnt that Senaratne had also informed senior
presidential advisor Basil Rajapakse of the
failure to intervene
has pushed up fuel prices'
By Nirmala Kannangara
President Mahinda Rajapakse's failure to intervene
with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation's
(CPC) revenue losses has led to the fuel
price hikes , Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya
Petroleum Branch (JSSPB) sources told The
Mihin Lanka, SriLankan Airlines, Ceylon
Electricity Board (CEB), Lanka Electricity
Company, Sri Lanka Railways, Sri Lanka
Transport Board, Police and the three armed
and all the government ministries'
failure to pay for the fuel purchased from
the CPC has led the corporation into a
financial crisis, Secretary, JSSPB Ananda
According to Ananda the government now owes more
than Rs.33,000 million for fuel that has
been purchased by these government
"The CEB alone, owes Rs. 21, 000 million out
of the said Rs.33, 000 million. So in such a
scenario how could the CPC survive without
revising fuel prices?"
"It was President Mahinda Rajapakse as the
Finance Minister who ordered the CPC to
release fuel to these government
institutions on credit but his failure to
instruct them to pay the money, has led the
CPC to increase the fuel prices to cover up
its losses," added Ananda.
"When UNP handed over the government in 2004
it owed the CPC Rs.6000 million but it had
now shot up to Rs.33,000 which is unbearable
to the corporation," added Ananda.
"Now the government claims that the world
fuel price hike has led the CPC to increase
fuel prices which is completely untrue. If
the President could order the CPC to release
fuel on credit he himself should intervene
to get the money paid to avert any financial
crisis at CPC.
"All the ministers and their ministry
officials too get their fuel on credit,
which too have not been settled so far. If
all this money was paid back on time CPC
could have easily sold fuel at a much lower
price than the prevailing prices,"
Meanwhile Ananda further stated that the
President's failure to intervene with the
CPC crisis is a clear indication of
government's incapability of managing the
country's economy and the Finance Minister's
and killings continue in Batti
Abductions, killings and harassments continue in
the Batticaloa District on a daily basis and
the security situation remains tense with
the presence of non-state armed persons,
Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) made
up of the UN and other humanitarian agencies
last week said.
The presence of armed persons other than the
security forces has created a tense
situation with the local government election
scheduled to be conducted in the east
The military stated that no other armed persons or
groups were allowed to be present in the
east except the security personnel.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara
last week said that armed persons have been
arrested by the security forces.
On January 17, a hartal was organised by a
political group in Batticaloa against an
incident said to have occurred at the
Arayampathi Hindu temple last week.
The IASC report also quoted the WFP of a possible
gap (90-95%) in complimentary food items by
the end of this month due to the agencies
pulling out from their role of providing
programme for Gr.I
admissions next year
By Warren Balthazaar
The government has initiated a new programme to
conduct Grade 1 Admissions for the year 2009
as the process in 2008 has caused much
The Ministry of Education said that the new system
would enable admittance of students faster
and that all matters would be met by the new
committee that was appointed by the MoE.
Minister of Education Susil Premjayanth told The
Sunday Leader that the new policy would
become effective before the next year.
The new criteria will be issued to Parliament as a
Bill and thereafter initiatives will be
taken to start the procedure.
The new programme will be different from the one
followed for 2008 in that there will be no
entrance exam for admission of students.
"The children seeking admission will be just
five years old and there will be no need for
exam. They will be found schsools purely on
the basis of interviews," Premajayanth
He further said that there could be practical
problems but the new programme will
definitely be accurate and faster next year.
Premjayanth said that the Grade 1 Admissions for
2008 was almost complete, as 325,000
students have been admitted to schools
across the country.
He added that only a few more students are to be
admitted into leading schools as appeals
made by parents for their children are yet
to be scrutinised.
Premajayanth claimed that these students will be
found schools before the end of this week
and the controversy surrounding admissions
will come to an end soon.
There are 9200 schools islandwide that take in new
students each year.
fighting in the northern frontline
Heavy fighting was reported from the northern front lines
in the last two days with both sides
claiming the upper hand.
The government said that at least 27 Tigers had been
killed and scores more injured in clashes in
Mannar, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Welioya.
The Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said that
12 Tigers had been killed in fighting at
Palakuli on January 18 afternoon.
On the same afternoon seven Tigers and one soldier were
killed in fighting at Janakapura, in Welioya
and Vellathaikulam in Vavuniya.
"Eight LTTE terrorists were killed including a
female terrorist in the Muhamalai area,
Jaffna during three confrontations,"
the MCNS said.
The Tigers meanwhile said that they had beaten back an
attack at Palakuli on January 18 afternoon.
They added that a deep penetration unit of
the security forces was also detected near
the Madhu Church area and beaten back.
Meanwhile, schools in Kilinochchi have been closed by the
Tigers over fears of air attacks.
Last week the Tigers said that over 700 students at a
school Jayapuram in Kilinochchi fled in fear
when Airforce bombed a location nearby.
The Airforce said that the bombing was on a meeting point
used by Tiger seniors and that anti-aircraft
fire had been directed at the jets.
for persons of Indian origin
The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to look
into granting citizenship to persons of
Indian origin who are presently in India,
will meet on February 5, PSC Chairman, JVP
Parliamentarian Ramalingam Chandrasekaran
told The Sunday Leader.
The meeting is to discuss on the procedures to be
followed on granting residency to the
persons of Indian origin.
This will be the second meeting of the com mittee.
The first was held on January 9.
in Uva Province closed due to the bomb blast
will reopen tomorrow
By Warren Balthazaar
Schools in the Uva Province that were closed due
to the bomb blast in Buttala last week will
re open for normal school activities
Eight schools in the area close to where the
attack took place were closed as the public
was in a state of shock.
Minister of Education Susil Premajayanth told The
Sunday Leader that the initiative to close
schools was taken by the provincial council
and the Badulla Government Agent considering
the safety of the children.
"LTTE attacks will not make the schools to
close in the future. Closure of schools will
be considered only if there is a direct
threat to the schools," Premjayanth
to Minister Premjayanth the Poya holiday on
Tuesday 22 will not be a holiday for schools
throughout the country.
bus organisations to strike if PTA decision
is not reversed
By Risidra Mendis
Private bus owners will meet officials of the
Provincial Transport Authority (PTA) to
reverse a decision taken by the PTA to
cancel the route permits of private buses
sold to another party.
The Sunday Leader learns that the PTA has informed
all bus owners in writing that their
decision to cancel route permits would be
effective from January 2008.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Co Chairman and
Media officer All Ceylon Private Omnibus
Owners Federation (ACPOOF) Anjana Priyanjith
said all private bus organisations were
planning to go on strike if there is no
response from the PTA within the next two to
This decision taken by the PTA was criticised by
private bus owners who say that a bus cannot
be sold to another party without the route
"Most private bus operators feel that the PTA
is only interested in making money by
reselling the old route permits to a new bus
owner. There are 9000 private bus route
permits in the Western Province. A route
permit is sold at Rs 10 to 15 lakhs by the
PTA. What is the point of selling a bus
without a route permit," Priyanjith
to act as Chairman Seylan Bank
Dr. Sicille P.C. Kotelawala has been appointed to
act as Chairman of
Seylan Bank from January 20.
She will act for Chairman Seylan BankDeshamanya
Dr.Lalith Kotelawala whohas gone overseason
Kotelawala is the current Deputy Chairman of
Ceylinco Consolidatedand has been
instrumental in making key decisions that
have contributed to the progress of the
Together with her husband Lalith Kotelawalashe has
uplifted over 350,000 families in Sri Lanka
from poverty, with the Ceylinco Grameen, a
concept of Nobel Laureate ProfessorMohammed
Yoonus, but with their own added features as
housing and health.
Methodist Church celebrates 125th
The Dehiwela Methodist Church will commemorate its
125th anniversary this year.
The church was built in 1883.
Rev. B. Anthony Mendis assumed office as Minister
of the Methodist Church in 1878.
He invited the few Christians of the place and
told them of the need to build the city of
God in Dehiwela. After earnest prayer for
God's guidance, help came from different
sources, and on October 23, 1880 the land
adjoining Galle Road in Dehiwela was
purchased for Rs. 550, and the foundation
stone for the Church was laid on December
In December 1882 the Church was fully furnished. A
and two school rooms were also built, and a 23 perch land was set
aside for a graveyard. The House of Prayer
as it was aptly called was dedicated on
January 20, 1883.
Rev. B Anthony Mendis, in a booklet published by
him on the "Dehiwela Chapel and how it
was built", says "looking back all
things clearly show that the Dehiwela Chapel
was built by God himself" 'Except the
Lord build the house they labour in vain
that build it.'
attacks likely to affect tourism
By Nirmala Kannangara
Despite attempts to promote tourism in the country, the
present spate of bomb attacks are likely to
bring severe repercussions to the leisure
industry leading hoteliers said.
With the end of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) which
attracted many leisure seekers to the
country, the bomb explosions since then,
have caused a slight decrease in forward
bookings and a few cancellations so far
leisure industry sources.
Vice President Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL)
and Chief Executive Officer / Director
Serendib Leisure Management, Srilal
Miththapala told The Sunday Leader that
although there have been some cancellations
of forward bookings with the spate of bomb
attacks, the industry should
"Apart from the few cancellations there is nothing
about, as we have gone through
worse periods earlier. At present the
occupancy rate is very good but last week's
incident could slow down new bookings,"
However according to Miththapala, the Sri Lanka Tourist
Board (SLTB) should send a strong message to
all tourism generating markets that the
tourist destinations in the country are
safe, since the abrogation of the CFA would
convey a wrong image of the country to the
Meanwhile Director Operations, Amaya Resorts and Spas,
Lalin Samarawickrama told The Sunday Leader
that wrong interpretation of the
bomb explosions have led to the
cancellation of bookings.
"When the world headlines says that a Sri Lankan
minister was killed on the airport road and
also about the blast opposite Nippon Hotel
those who plan to visit here would certainly
chose another destination. That is obvious.
Nobody wants to visit a country where
there are explosions occurring especially
along the airport road and also near a hotel
in the heart of Colombo," added
According to Samara-wickrama although Germany has not updated its travel advisories the authorities
there are not encouraging their citizens to
travel to Sri Lanka due to the many bomb
explosions occurring in many parts of the
"With all these explosions taking place will we get
a good response at the ITB in Germany this
We have to see what the Scandinavians
who monitored the CFA have to say. Depending
on their report the Scandinavian countries
would decide whether Sri Lanka is a safe
destination for their citizens,"
Samarawickrama also said that if the tourist arrivals
start to decline the industry cannot depend
on the locals as the present high cost of
living and fuel price hikes have already hit
the people very badly.
"Whenever the industry was down it was the local
travellers who helped us. But with the price
hikes we cannot expect
local visitors to help us out this
time," Samarawickrama added.
arrangements for IDPs to vote at local polls
in the east
Special arrangements are to be taken for the IDPs to
exercise their franchise at the local
government elections in the east.
Additional Commissioner of elections told The Sunday
Leader that the arrangements were being
planned at the moment and that the
department would come up with the
arrangements in the near future.
"We are still planning. Nominations are being
accepted at the moment. It will go on till
the 25th of this month. The election date
will be decided after the nominations,"
He said special arrangements will be made for the IDPs in
the east after the election date is decided.
"We don't know whether there would be cluster booths
or another setup. We are still
planning," he added.
The police have also taken measures to increase security
in the region during the election period.
The IDPs are from Kiran and the surrounding areas.
Officials said that these IDPs are not in a position to
return to their homes due to the de-mining
Parties contesting local government elections including
the EPDP and the TMVP said the presence of
IDPs would not affect the election as long
as the Elections Commissioner comes up with
a solution for them to cast their votes.
threatens to launch trade union action
By Nirmala Kannangara
Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) is to
take trade union action if the Health
Ministry fails to provide adequate security
and transport facilities to the doctors
serving in the north and the east.
Transport facilities provided for Mannar based doctors by
the Regional Director of Health Services
have been reduced from last week and the
doctors who visit their families in the
south have been badly affected
GMOA sources told The Sunday Leader.
GMOA committee member Dr. Chandika Epitakaduwa said that
unless adequate security and transport
facilities are provided for the doctors
serving in the war torn areas all doctors in
the north and east would launch a strike at
According to Dr. Epitakaduwa following last week's
alleged poisoning of a doctor attached to
the Trincomalee hospital the GMOA has
requested for adequate security from the Red
Cross but the Health Ministry has so far
failed to respond positively.
"It is the government's responsibility to provide
security to the doctors working in the north
and east, but if they cannot secure their
lives doctors would withdraw their
services," added Dr. Epitakaduwa.
However according to Dr. Epitakaduwa government's failure
to allocate enough funds to the Regional
Director of Health Services (RDHS) Mannar
has led to the reduction of transport
facilities from Mannar to Anuradhapura.
"Doctors travelling from Colombo to
Mannar travel via Anuradhapura in RDHS
vehicles with adequate security and vice
versa. But now the transport facilities have
been reduced to once a week as the Health
Ministry has curtailed the
fuel allowance to the RDHS. This has
affected the doctors going on vacation from
Mannar and the doctors reporting to Mannar
after vacation," Dr. Epitakaduwa said.
It is learnt the GMOA is waiting for a favourable
response from the Health Ministry failing
which; the doctors serving in north and east
trade union action in the weeks to come.