Going into cyberspace
Eelam 2.0 the transnational government
By R. Wijewardene
With the fall of the final pocket of land under LTTE
control and the death of the organisation’s founder and
leader, the LTTE’s visions of a separate state seem to
have been consigned firmly to history.
Sri Lanka’s separatists have proved themselves time
and time again to be eternal optimists predicting a
sudden resurgence of the LTTE just days before
Pirapaharan’s body was pulled out from the Nandikadal
Lagoon. Now the remnants of the LTTE — its head of
international affairs Selvarasa Pathmanathan, and
intelligence head Arivazakal appear to have taken their
dreams for an independent Tamil homeland to a different
plane altogether and have declared that the LTTE will
establish a transnational government in exile for Sri
Lanka’s Tamil people, as the next stage of their
In a statement Pathmanathan claimed that "Only the
diaspora and the transnational government (can) uphold
the freedom of aspiration and freedom of expression of
(Sri Lankan) Tamils."
But what does this mean in practice — what is a
transnational government and how will it benefit the
lives of the island’s Tamil community?
Statements from the LTTEs main propaganda outlet —
Tamilnet have recently identified the Tamil community
as a transnational population no longer confined to a
single nation — a community that as such needs a
transnational government to meet its needs.
The logic there seems sound enough like the Kurds,
Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils in particular are without a
nation of their own and are now dispersed across
However the practicalities of a transnational
government in exile remain unclear. Who will constitute
this government and who or what will this government
As yet the transnational government possesses no
office, no address and no contact details but perhaps
such conventional requirements as an office or a
telephone are outdated?
Certainly the transitional government’s backers
don’t seem to see the lack of such conventional facets
of a state as territory, or a population as an
But for the conventionally minded it is hard to see
how a government without a country — will benefit the
Tamil people thousands of whom remain confined in IDP
It remains unclear how the representatives of this
government will be chosen — the LTTE hasn’t previously
demonstrated any great fondness for democracy. So its
likely that the members of a proposed government in
exile will be appointed; but that begs the question by
whom? And on what authority.
Ultimately the idea of a transitional government
appears to be a cynical ploy to keep up the
moral of the Tamil diaspora. A gimmick to prevent the
LTTE’s real hinterland — not the Wanni but the diaspora
from falling into apathy.
But with their talismanic leader dead — the movement
now seems to have been largely discredited as a
government without a nation and with no clear plan to
take the separatist struggle forward. It is unlikely to
stop even the more extreme elements of the Tamil
diaspora falling first into apathy and then … finally,
into some sort of reconciliation with the modern Sri
Lankan state. After all Eelam is now nothing more
than an online fantasy while Sri Lanka for all its
faults really exists.
Companies that don’t
re-register to be struck off
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Thousands of companies face the risk of losing their
registration if they do not re-register under the new
legislation governing companies implemented in 2007.
Registrar of Companies, D.K. Hettiarachchi told
The Sunday Leader that while there were about
60,000-70,000 companies registered under the old
Companies Act of 1982 and the 1938 Ordinance, only about
25,000 companies had re-registered under the new
Companies Act of 2007.
About 30,000 companies in the country run the risk of
being struck off the roll if they fail to re-register
under the new Companies Law.
According to Hettiarachchi, the Department of
Registrar of Companies is currently in the process of
striking off the companies that have not re-registered
under the new legislation.
He explained that companies had to re-register within
a period of one year after the new legislation was
implemented in 2007.
The Department is currently in the process of
publishing notices with the lists of company names that
are yet to re-register. The names of the companies will
however be published in batches.
"If the respective companies do not re-register
within six months after the notice, they will lose their
licence. After publishing their names, six months is the
stipulated period for them to respond," he said.
Hettiarachchi observed that there are several other
objectives behind the re-registration of companies. "One
objective is for us to know the exact number of active
companies and the next is to facilitate the
computerisation of the data," he said.
Since the implementation of the new legislation,
8,000 new companies have also been registered,
Hedging troubles: Huge costs
for Sri Lanka
By Faraz Shauketaly
In the most worrying of developments for the
Treasury, the Government of Sri Lanka is facing the
prospect of funding astronomical legal fees in the
United States and the United Kingdom.
Arbitration proceedings are set both in the United
States and in the United Kingdom. There is a separate
legal action in London’s High Court. The arbitration
proceedings have been brought about by Deutsche Bank and
Citibank whilst the High Court action has been initiated
by Standard Chartered Bank.
The Arbitration in London has not quite started yet.
Despite that, the government has already incurred a sum
of Rs. 25 million. In the latest development the
Arbitration Court has asked Sri Lanka to deposit a sum
of GBP 100,000 ( Rs. 19 million ) prior to the start of
Sri Lanka will face a huge bill by the time these
legal remedies reach a climax. A senior counsel in the
UK commands as much as GBP 1,750 per hour and a junior
counsel GBP 700. A hedging expert costs GBP 2,500 per
day. These costs give us a strong indication of what
level of funding the Treasury can expect to budget for
these expenses. One senior legal figure in the United
Kingdom expected that Sri Lanka will face a final tally
of "at least" US$ 3 million by the time all cases are
It is all the more galling for the people of Sri
Lanka, as the foreign exchange reserves for Sri Lanka
currently stands at approx US$ 1,271 million. That
compares with the total liability facing the republic on
the hedging fiasco of some US$ 800 million. That figure
may well rise as oil prices tumble and as the banks add
their interest component to the claims. In what is
certain to add incredulity to insult and injury, we
understand that the interest is calculated on a daily
In a document, one of the local banks has stated that
they viewed the risk factor for the CPC (and therefore
the country) to be low in terms of taking out "Hedging"
contracts. One is not entirely sure if there was any
intended humour but the fact is that faced with losses
that may approach US$ 900 million including at least Rs
300 million for legal and associated expenses, this must
quite easily qualify for the most flawed statement to
emerge from this imbroglio that the country finds itself
President’s comment on
tourism draws mixed reaction from stakeholders
By Nirmala Kannangara
Questions have been raised as to whether the country
has the necessary infrastructure facilities to cater to
2.5 million tourists in 2016 as proposed by President
Mahinda Rajapakse at the official launch of the new
brand for Sri Lanka Tourism.
President Rajapakse in his message said that Sri
Lanka Tourism expects 2.5 million tourists to the
country in 2016 to which there is a mixed reaction from
"Yes this is a very good target and I don’t see why
we can’t achieve this as now the country’s ground
situation is good and we have the potential to do it,"
Secretary Tourism Ministry George Michael told The
However when asked whether there are enough hotel
rooms to cater to 2.5 million tourists Michael said that
there is no need for many more hotel rooms as all
tourists do not visit together but at different times.
"We would expect these tourists throughout the year.
So if we could increase the existing number of hotel
rooms by a smaller percentage that would be more than
enough to achieve our target," Michael added.
Meanwhile President, Tourist Hotels Association of
Sri Lanka (THASL) Srilal Miththapala told The Sunday
Leader that the target would be achievable if
infrastructure facilities are improved with good
incentive support and tax concessions given.
"This would be a challenging goal but will take a lot
of effort. This target is achievable provided that
investment relief is given on various goods and tax
concessions," added Miththapala.
"The industry needs quick relief that could be
obtained without any hassle. If all these facilities are
provided then six years would be more than enough to
achieve our target," stressed Miththapala.
Chairman Jetwing Hotels, Hiran Cooray meanwhile
claimed that unless the number of hotel rooms are
increased up to 50,000 it would be difficult to achieve
Managing Director Amaya Resorts and Spas, Lalin
Samarawickrema told The Sunday Leader that the
industry should refrain from aiming at a certain target
but should concentrate on getting quality tourists to
the country to generate revenue.
"Even if we get the calculated number of tourists and
if they do not spend then what is the purpose of
building more and more hotel rooms? In comparison to the
Indian market they do not spend much here. They bring
their food and spend only for the most important things.
So what is the purpose of attracting tourists who spend
less? Instead we have to target the quality travellers
if we do really want to improve the revenue,"
Forest hermitages to register
with Environment Ministry
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Forest hermitages that have received land from the
Forest Conservation Department and have failed to
register under the Wana Sensun programme launched
by the Environment Ministry in 2007 will have to pay
commercial rates for the land.
The hermitages would then have to pay the rates
levied according to the land area in its possession.
It was last week reported that an assessment tax of
Rs. 250 is now levied on a hermitage possessing land
less than two acres. A sum of Rs.300 per acre is to be
levied on hermitages possessing between three to five
acres, and Rs.500 for every acre if the hermitage
possessed land in excess of five acres.
According to the new tax scheme a forest hermitage
should be less than five acres.
Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka told The
Sunday Leader that the Ministry together with the
Forest Conservation Department was in the process of
identifying the real forest hermitages in the country,
as some of the lands initially acquired for forest
hermitages have been used for commercial purposes.
He explained that land for hermitages were initially
allocated under different purposes, which also included
land given out for agriculture and commercial purposes.
Under the Wana Sensun programme launched in
2007, the Environment Ministry had requested all forest
hermitages that have received land from the Forest
Conservation Department to register themselves with the
"The hermitages that have registered with Wana
Senasun are recognised as forest hermitages and are
required to pay only Rs. 20 per acre annually. Under the
programme only two acres are allocated for a forest
hermitage. Therefore, they would have to pay Rs. 40 per
year. If they still inform us that they find it
difficult to make the payment, we pay it for them," he
While there are close upon 200 forest hermitages
located island wide on lands belonging to the Forest
Department, a few have registered themselves under
"The target of the programme was to get at least 100
hermitages to register," Ranawaka said. However,
hermitages that have failed to register under Wana
Sensun and possessing over two acres would have to
pay commercial rates for the land.
He alleged that politicians during previous
governments had allocated land to their associates for
commercial purposes claiming to be for forest
"During the UNP regime a lot of land was allocated to
various persons claiming to be for hermitages," he
Ranawaka said the Ministry was in the process of
streamlining the system and identifying the lands being
used for commercial purposes from that being used for
The Forest Conversation Department it is learnt has
requested all District Forest Officers to send
assessment reports according to the new tax scheme of
all hermitages in their respective areas.
Union threatens legal action
State Combined Services General Workers Union (SCSGWU)
last week warned that it would take legal action if the
government failed to annul two question papers of the
Lanka Administrative Services Examinations held in May.
SCSGWU President, U. Palihawadana told The Sunday
Leader that three question papers, namely, a case
study, General Administration and Financial Regulations,
were included in the examinations. The examinations were
held on May 30 and 31.
Palihawadana said the case study was leaked two days
before the examination. He said that the relevant
authorities had been informed of the issue.
Palihawadana also said the candidates had come to
know the the person who set the General Administration
"The candidates had got to know the person who was
preparing the paper. He has also written some books on
this subject. Therefore, the candidates had bought the
books and had prepared for the examination. The book had
some of the questions that were in the question paper,"
"We will take legal action if the authorities do not
cancel both question papers," Palihawadana said.
Examinations Commissioner, Anura Edirisinghe however
told The Sunday Leader that he was not aware of
such a case. "I’m not aware of this problem. The people
who complain of the matter should report it to the
Commission to Investigate allegations into Bribery and
Corruption," he said.
No action against offending
chairperson of Maharagama UC
By Nirmala Kannangara
Commissioner of Local Government (Western Province)
H. Sumanapala is yet to investigate
the alleged corrupt activities carried out by the
Chairperson, Maharagama Urban Council (MUC), Kanthi
Chairperson Kodikara has allegedly issued council
attendance recording cards intended strictly for public
officers to her personnel staff since June 1, but
Commissioner Sumanapala has so far failed to take action
against her, claimed Deputy Chairman MUC, Senaka
"A fortnight ago we made a complaint to Commissioner
Sumanapala to take action against Kodikara for violating
government regulations but so far nothing has been done
to prevent such illegal affairs in the council,"
According to Kalubowila the council also wants to
know how the chairperson gets the funds to pay her seven
party supporters, each of whom receive a salary of
"Kodikara says that she pays their salaries but we
want to find out from where she gets the money to pay
salaries for the seven employees," Kalubowila claimed.
Refuting allegations levelled against him
Commissioner Sumanapala told The Sunday Leader
that he has already appointed the Assistant Commissioner
Local Government (Western Province) to investigate as to
why Kodikara instructed the establishment unit of the
MUC to issue attendance-recording cards to her party
supporters, which is against government regulations.
"Once I get the detailed report I would conduct a
special investigation on my own," Sumanapala said.
Meanwhile the MUC opposition members have made a
request to the Auditor General to investigate into
Chairperson Kodikara’s misuse of MUC funds. .
UN unaware of employees’ arrest
By Arthur Wamanan
The UN on Friday said it was yet to be informed of
the charges against two of its local staff members who
were arrested this month in Vavuniya.
The two local staff members, Kandasamy Saundrarajan
of UNOPS and N. Charles Raveendran of UNHCR were
reported missing on June 12 and later reported as
The UN released a statement last Saturday, stating
two of their national staff members had been arrested
and it was not aware of any charges against the two
UN Spokesperson Gordon Weiss told The Sunday
Leader that the UN was officially informed of the
arrest last week. The two staff members are reportedly
now in custody at the Borella Police Station.
"We have now been notified that a formal arrest of
the two staff members has taken place. We are yet to be
notified of the specific charges," he said.
Weiss added that they were kept in good condition
adding that the UN had provided the two staff members
with food and clothing. The authorities are facilitating
their family members to meet the two members," Weiss
The UN also said that it had been constantly taking
action during the eight days they were reported missing.
"On the same day the families of the staff members
reported them as missing, Friday, June 12, the UN sent
official notifications to the DIG of Police and the HQ’s
Chief Inspector in the Vavuniya District on the incident
and informally learnt of the arrest," Weiss added.
Weiss further stated that the UN has been making
constant demarches with government at central level with
regards to the issue, "including the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, the Attorney General and subsequently the
Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. The UN
has also kept its Headquarters in New York informed of
Police again fail to submit
The police have so far failed to submit the
investigation report into the murder of the Editor in
Chief of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.
When Wickrematunge’s murder trial was taken up on
Thursday, June 25 at the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate’s Court,
the Mirihana Police failed to turn up in courts although
they had been ordered to submit the investigation
Police Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera told
The Sunday Leader that the investigation teams have
not updated him on the present investigation progress
and added that the investigation teams do not want to
reveal the details to the media as it could hamper the
ongoing investigation process.
The murder trial of Wickrematunge will be taken up
again on July 9.
Meanwhile , the Freedom of the Press Committee in a
letter last week to President Mahinda Rajapakse has said
that they hoped the end of the civil war would be
accompanied by a relaxation of the government’s harsh
and myopic treatment of Sri Lankan journalists.
The letter said, "U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
has called on your government to ensure the prosecution
of those responsible for the murder of Lasantha
Wickrematunge on January 8. He was editor-in-chief of
the independent newspaper, The Sunday Leader, and
had been outspokenly critical of government attacks on
the press. In his last editorial, he foresaw his own
death at the hands of the government."
Copies of the letter were also forwarded to Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake Mass Media Minister
Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Human Rights Minister Mahinda
Samarasinghe and Inspector General of Police Victor
Perera among others.