With Independence Day approaching flag
sellers are having a roaring business
even though most of the flags do not
meet the accepted specifications of
size, colour etc. Nevertheless the
flags are being snapped up by people who
display them quite oblivious to the
Photo by Lalith Mendis
Police arrest a suspect in murder probe
The police have finally made a
breakthrough into the assassination of
The Sunday Leader Editor-in-Chief
Lasantha Wickrematunge, Police Spokesperson
SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said.
The Mt. Lavinia Police last week took
into custody a suspect believed to have had
a link to Wickrematunge’s assassination
along with the late Editor’s mobile phone,
which went missing from the Colombo South
Witnesses who rushed Wickrematunge to
hospital had told The Sunday Leader
earlier that his mobile phone was handed
over to a lady at the Colombo South Teaching
"The four police investigating teams were
finally able to make a breakthrough to the
killing and the police believe that more
information could be obtained from the
suspect in the days to come. Although it
took time for a breakthrough we were able to
carry the investigations surreptitiously as
we did not reveal the details of the
investigation process. Had we publicised the
details of the investigation, the suspect
would have fled the country before being
taken into custody," Gunasekera said.
According to Gunasekera, the plastic
casing of Wickrematunge’s mobile phone was
also found with the suspect.
"This arrest could certainly lead us in a
certain direction where we could receive
more details into the assassination.
The investigating teams are looking out
for another suspect who was a murderer, but
he has been taken into custody for a heroin
case a few days before but hope to get more
information on Wickrematunge’s killing," the
Meanwhile, Gunasekera further said that
the suspect who was taken into custody for
the assassination had a list of names of
VVIPs with their telephone numbers and added
that investigations would also be carried
out as to why he possessed the list of names
and the telephone numbers of the VVIPs.
However, Executive Director, Centre for
Policy Alternatives (CPA), P. Saravanamuttu
told The Sunday Leader that the
failure of the police to apprehend the ‘real
murderers’ effectively shows the lack of
credibility in the Police Department.
"This is a clear indication as to how the
credibility of the Police Department has
lessened and also the government’s. If the
government was genuine and had a
responsibility by the people they would have
ordered an accurate and impartial
investigation into the killing of
Wickrematunge. That alone shows that both
the government and the Police Department
lack credibility," Saravanamuttu said.
Meanwhile, media activist Sita Ranjani
told The Sunday Leader that a
breakthrough into the murder could not be
expected as none of the culprits connected
to the killing and abduction of media
personnel in general have been brought to
"If the killers could come in four motor
bicycles and smash the car windows and kill
Wickrematunge instantly in broad day light
amidst onlookers in a high security zone and
escape easily that alone speaks volumes
about the people behind it. There is no
point waiting for a breakthrough, it is a
complete waste of time," Ranjani added.
Govt. undecided on future
course of action
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The government is yet to decide on the
course of action to be taken with regard to
the oil hedging deal following the Supreme
Court’s decision last week to terminate all
interim orders issued on the fuel hedging
case due to the failure of the government to
comply with the earlier court directives.
The government on Friday said that
payments due to the foreign and local banks
in the hedging deal have not been made since
December last year and that a decision on
the payments would be taken once the Central
Bank investigation concludes.
Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M.
Fowzie told The Sunday Leader that he
was yet to receive the written order by the
Supreme Court, adding that the Central Bank
investigation into the hedging deal was also
still in progress.
Fowzie said that the government would
arrive at a decision on the hedging deal
after studying further the court order and
the progress of the Central Bank
Meanwhile, Trade and Consumer Affairs
Minister Bandula Gunawardena told The
Sunday Leader that even before the
Supreme Court issued an interim order
halting payments to the banks on the hedging
deal, the government had already stopped the
payments based on an order by the Central
"Although there was much controversy
regarding payments being made on the hedging
deal, it has not happened since last
December. The Central Bank ordered that no
payments be made to the banks for the
hedging deal, even before the Supreme Court
issued the interim order," he said.
According to Gunawardena, the Central
Bank, which is an independent body, is
conducting an investigation into the hedging
deal and the government would have to wait
till it concludes.
He also said that since the deal is a
legal agreement, the government would have
to look at how best to act accordingly.
Economist Dr. Harsha de Silva meanwhile
said that the government could either make
the payment to the banks now or not pay it
citing the Central Bank investigation or
re-negotiate the terms with the relevant
However, Dr. de Silva said that the best
course of action the government could take
is to look at how best to re-negotiate the
terms in the agreement without letting any
one take advantage of the situation.
"The government can’t afford to not make
the payment as the government would need to
continue to borrow in the foreign market and
need to maintain the confidence levels ," he
The Supreme Court on November 28 issued a
stay order suspending the oil hedging deal
and also suspended CPC Chairman Asantha De
Mel and CPC Deputy General Manager, Finance
The court on December 17 ordered the
government to immediately stop further
payments to the banks. The second interim
order was with regard to the reduction of
petrol prices to Rs. 100.
Legal sources last week said that the
hedging agreement had been made valid due to
the termination of the cases.
misuse of public property
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Complaints on the misuse of public
property by members of the governing party
in the North Western and Central Provincial
Council election campaigns have been made to
the Elections Commissioner.
Employees attached to a state institution
have in writing informed the Elections
Commissioner of the misuse of public
property by a government minister for
election work in his brother’s campaign in
the Central Province.
The Sunday Leader is in possession of
a copy of the letter sent by several
employees attached to the Milco Company that
is under the purview of the Livestock
Development Ministry, where they have
alleged that Minister C.B. Ratnayake was
using the services of Milco employees
including high-ranking officials for the
government’s election campaign in the North
Western and Central Provinces. They have
also alleged that orders have been issued
for the company to release several vehicles
that are currently being used for campaign
Milco workers have alleged that Minister
Ratnayake was using the services of company
employees for his brother, S.B. Ratnayake’s
campaign for the Central Provincial Council.
According to the workers, some of the
Milco employees have been granted leave from
January 20 till February 12 under the guise
of conducting a survey on a proposed UHT
milk manufacturing factory.
Meanwhile, employees attached to the
state owned Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
have also complained of institutional
facilities being used for government
election campaign work.
The Sunday Leader has received a copy
of a letter issued by the Coordinator,
Alliance Polls Campaigning Centre, Karu
Paranavithana faxed allegedly on a fax
machine belonging to the Rupavahini DS
UNP Puttalam District Parliamentarian
Palitha Ranga Bandara has complained of the
use of vehicles without number plates for
election campaign work by the governing
party in the North Western Province.
Range Bandara has alleged that the
vehicles belonging to the Fisheries Ministry
are being used for campaign work of several
UPFA candidates in the Puttalam District.
The National Polls Observation Center
states that there have so far been 41 cases
of violation of election laws from the two
The North Western and Central Provincial
Council elections are scheduled to be held
on February 14.
Over 175 civilians
cross over within 48hrs
More than 175 civilians fled LTTE areas
in Mullaithivu yesterday and Friday, defence
President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday
promised safe passage to civilians and
called upon the LTTE to allow them to move
out of the areas under their control, within
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader
yesterday that 181 civilians from
Mullaithivu had crossed over to government
controlled areas following President
"Sixty five civilians crossed over on
Friday and 116 crossed over on Saturday.
They arrived in Pulmoddai and Visvamadu
areas. They will be brought to Vavuniya
subsequently," Nanayakkara said.
Meanwhile, more than 3150 civilians have
crossed over to government controlled areas
during January, defence officials said.
Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader
that nearly 5,000 have fled the LTTE
controlled areas since November last year.
Civilians began to move out of LTTE areas in
the Wanni due to intense fighting following
the capture of several LTTE strongholds
including Kilinochchi and the Mullaithivu
town this year. "So far 3,150 civilians have
crossed over to government controlled areas
since January 1. There are many coming out."
According to Nanayakkara, the civilians
are kept in four camps in Vavuniya and one
each in Mannar and Jaffna. "They are kept in
six camps altogether. Four in Vavuniya and
one each in Mannar and Jaffna. All steps to
provide them with basic needs are being
taken," Nanayakkara said. A total of 226
patients were brought to Vavuniya from
Puthukudiyiruppu last Thursday.
The Defence Ministry said that the
patients were brought with 139 relatives and
others, by UN and ICRC officials. "There are
at least 40 children in the group of
civilians," the Ministry said.
Troops on Friday located a high profile
LTTE hideout including an underground bunker
during operations in Visvamadu jungle.
The Defence Ministry said that the
hideout was well fortified and concealed
from air detection.
"According to available information the
site was frequented by the LTTE chief
Prabakaran and senior cadres."
The Ministry said that the underground
bunker was air conditioned and constructed
beneath a luxury compartment with bullet
proof doors. "A soundproof generator was
used for electric power supply for the
compartment and the underground bunker."
Troops had also located an elevator used
between the bunker and the overhead
Meanwhile the navy on Friday destroyed a
LTTE suicide boat in the Mullaithivu seas.
The Ministry said the navy had attacked the
LTTE boat at around 3 a.m.
"According to navy sources, navy boats
deployed in the sea blockade along the
northeastern coast have intercepted the
explosive laden boat launched from
Mullaithivu coast and destroyed it by
directing heavy gunfire at the incoming
terrorist boat," the Ministry said.
The Ministry also added that troops of
the 58 Division are continuing to make rapid
progresses attacking the LTTE hideouts from
the south of Kilaly lagoon to the A-35
Paranthan- Mullaithivu road.
"Battlefield reports indicate that
intense fighting had been taken place in
Visuamadu and Piliyampokkanal areas
yesterday (Jan 29)."
"Troops had daylong confrontations in the
Visuamadu area and found 4 bodies of LTTE
cadres and one T-56 riffle during search
operations. Both ground sources and radio
monitoring reports indicated heavy damages
to the terrorist," the Ministry said.
disrupting schools — Teachers Union
By Nirmala Kannangara
The closure of 13 government schools for
the Deyata Kirula exhibition has come
under severe criticism by parents and
officials in the education sector, The
Sunday Leader learns.
The Deyata Kirula exhibition is to
be held from February 4 - 10.
"Thirteen schools in and around Colombo
have been closed for the Deyata Kirula
exhibition. Parents and teachers have
complained that the closure of these schools
would hinder schoolwork, President, Ceylon
Teachers’ Union (CTU) Joseph Stalin told
The Sunday Leader.
"The Education Ministry in a recent
circular stated that all government schools
should function at least 210 days for the
year 2009. However concern has been raised
over the inability to complete the number of
days as stated in the circular due to the
number of public holidays falling on
According to the Education Ministry
circular there are only 202 school days
during this year, and the teachers have been
requested to cover the school syllabus at
the earliest, enabling the students to
prepare themselves for the term tests.
If the Education Ministry was so
concerned about the inability to hold school
sessions for 210 days, how is it that
Education Ministry officials didn’t realise
that the school closure for the Deyata
Kirula exhibition would further impact
on school work?" asked Stalin.
According to Stalin the provincial
council elections will further hinder work
in government schools. He also said that it
would be a tough task for teachers to cover
the syllabus with the schools not
functioning for so many days.
"With the provincial council elections to
be held, government schools need to close
for a few more days and this will hinder the
school work further. Now the Education
Ministry claims that they have instructed
the school authorities to hold extra
sessions on Saturdays. This is impractical.
If the government needs to hold exhibitions
then they should hold them at places where
there are no schools in the vicinity,"
Meanwhile Additional Secretary Education
Ministry, W. Dharmadasa told The Sunday
Leader that closure of schools for the
Deyata Kirula exhibition would not
affect school work as the Ministry has
instructed the heads of all 13 schools to
hold extra sessions on Saturdays. "Since the
schools are prepared to hold extra.
US concerned over SL ground
The US has expressed great concern over the
ground situation in Sri Lanka.
Acting Spokesperson of the US State
Department, Robert Wood made this comment
reacting to a question during the daily
press briefing held last Friday has said
that the situation in the country was very
sad, especially the recent attacks on media
persons and organisations..
"It's a very, very sad situation, especially
some of the attacks against the media," Wood
had said during the press briefing.
He said that the
was working through organisations like the
UN in providing assistance to the affected
"You know, of course, we are very concerned
about the situation on the ground in Sri
Lanka, and we're working through UN
organizations to try to provide whatever
help that we can."
"We've been very concerned about that. And
it's a longstanding conflict, you know,
going on over 25 years," he said.
He added that he hoped that the war would
come to an end in the country for the people
to think about a better life.
"You know, we'd like to see just a better
outcome. And hopefully, at some point, you
know, this war will come to an end and, you
know, the Sri Lankan people can, you know,
begin to think about a better life for
themselves and their children."
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
called upon the LTTE, to allow civilians in
the conflict zone to move to secure places.
Ina statement, the Secretary General had
welcomed President Rajapaksa's announcement
of safe passage for civilians trapped in the
area of intense fighting.
"However, he (Moon) continues to be
concerned by the threat to the estimated
250,000 civilians caught in the area, who
are in close proximity to the fighting," the
statement said. "He urges the Government of
Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) to do all in their power to
make this safe passage a reality, and to
ensure the protection of civilians in
accordance with international humanitarian
Moon also called upon the Government to
ensure that the civilians arriving from the
conflict areas are treated "in accordance
with international standards."
"Such standards include guaranteeing their
freedom of movement, providing basic
services and allowing full access by
humanitarian agencies. For its part, the
United Nations stands ready to provide the
necessary humanitarian assistance."
Police file 'charges'
against journalist Jayanetti
Activists have expressed concern over the
'charges' made by police on the New Left
Front Coordinating Secretary and journalist
Chamil Jayanetti, following his
participation at the protest against the
killing of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha
Wickrematunge on January 9.
Jayanetti has been charged by police for
'obstructing duty and breeching national
security laws' during the protest.
Five media organisations said the charges
levelled by the police against Jayanetti
were against the law.
The statement said that the protest saw the
participation of many media organisations
and activists, but only Jayanetti had been
Jayanetti told The Sunday Leader that he got
to know of the charges only when he received
summons from court. He said that no
statements had been recorded by the police
with regard to the protest. "No complaint
was filed against me by the police and my
statement was not recorded. I got summons 20
days after the protest," Jayanetti said.
The New Left Front said the killers of
Wickrematunge were still at large nearly one
month after the incident.
LTTE forms Department of International
The LTTE has named a high profile
representative as its new contact with the
The Tigers had named Selvarasa
Pathmanathan, as head of its newly
established Department of International
Relations and represent the Tigers in any
future peace initiatives, the Pro-LTTE
website Tamilnet has said. The new
representative would be based outside Sri
LTTE’s Political Head B Nadesan has told
the TamilNet that Pathmanathan had been
engaged in correspondence with the
international actors and will be working
abroad with required mandate from the LTTE
It was reported that a letter was sent to
various international actors by the LTTE
saying Pathmanathan will be the main contact
to deal with the international community.
LTTE has been proscribed by leading
nations, including US, UK, Australia and
India, for the past many years.
BoC office in Chennai stoned
The Bank of Ceylon (BoC) office in Chennai
came under attack by a group of lawyers last
The lawyers of the Madras High Court had
staged a protest opposite the bank on the
Poonamallee High Road in Chennai against the
killing of Sri Lankan Tamils.
According to reports, the police said that a
group of lawyers had gathered in front of
the bank and pelted stones during their
The Chennai police had increased security at
the bank premises and the Sri Lankan Deputy
High Commission office at Alwarpet following
BoC officials in
said that the bank resumed operations last
Friday and that none of its staff was
injured due to the attack.