Ranil returns from the US, meets President at Vesak Zone
The main Opposition - the UNP, has been sailing like a ship without a
captain for over one month, with party activities at a low ebb. However,
the UNP and the Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe return to the
island after a month-long study stint in the United States. Days after
Ranil returned to Sri Lanka, UNP’s leadership council chairman Karu
Jayasuriya had left for an overseas holiday.
Various reasons were given on Ranil's long stay in the US. Some said
it was a study tour and that the UNP leader would master the art of
The others said it was a rare opportunity for Ranil to deliver a few
lectures at the University of Massachusetts. But it was later found that
he was in the US on a scholarship offered by the Robert E. Wilhelm
Ranil was not hosted by the University of Massachusetts directly but
by a separate entity located within the same premises - The Centre for
International Studies (CIS). All what Sri Lankans came to know was that
his much publicised lecture at Massachusetts had attracted an audience
of only five persons.
The UNP leader returned to the country on Thursday morning after his
stint in the US, keeping the senior UNP leaders in suspense. The most
notable event he took part since his arrival was Thursday's opening of
the Bhudda Rashmi Vesak Zone by Hunupitiya Gangaramaya, along with
President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
When the President met Ranil he asked about the progress about the
Opposition leader’s tour to the US. “There was so much publicity to that
here” the President said. “Yes, I heard that,” Ranil replied. The
President thanked Ranil for not attacking the Government or criticising
the country during his speech at Massachusetts. Ranil said he only
answered the questioned posed.
The President was then scheduled to open the rice dansala at the
Temple Trees and invited the Opposition leader too. But Ranil appeared
to be in two minds. Though he was willing to go along with the President
to the Temple Trees, he feared that his opponents would use the incident
to challenge his leadership at the UNP. Hence, Ranil politely turned
down the offer, adding that he must rush to the opening of the pandal
erected by UNP’s Ampara District parliamentarian Daya Gamage.
Ranil then headed opening of the pandal erected by the courtesy of
UNP National Organiser at Pepiliyana while the President, joined by the
Mayor of Colombo A.J.M. Muzzamil, headed to the Temple Trees.
The President shared the joys of the people by opening the Vesak
Pandal at Manning Market.
The President shared pleasantries with the large crowds that thronged
the area. The President also opened the Danselas at Bauddhaloka Mawatha
and at the Diyawanna Oya.
Record numbers of people flooded the streets of Colombo for Vesak
sightseeing. The Vesak zones at Bauddhaloka Mawatha, and other places in
the city were a sea of heads as the large number of Danselas offered
food, soft drinks and ice cream for every visitor who came to the city.
Whither common candidate
With the Opposition political parties, a section of the clergy and
civil society leaders making various comments on a so-called common
Opposition candidate for the next Presidential election, Ranil made an
early move while he was in the US, announcing that he would contest the
next President election as the UNP candidate. Having made the
announcement early to avoid any claims by his challengers within the
party such as Sajith Premadasa, Ranil got his confidants to give
adequate publicity to his candidature and start early preparations for
his election campaign.
While in India, Ranil telephoned his former school mate and ex-UNP
chairman Malik Samarawickrema and briefed him on the groundwork for the
campaign. Former UNP deputy leader Sajith who had previously claimed
that it will be he who would contest from the UNP, appears to have given
up the idea as he does not want to end up in the losing camp.
Sources close to Sajith said that the Hambantota District
parliamentarian does not want to grab the opportunity from Ranil at a
time the UNP could not challenge the popularity of the President.
Knowing too well that President Rajapaksa would end up as the easy
winner at the next Presidential election, Sajith does not want to become
a loser by taking an unnecessary challenge.
Instead, he would let Ranil contest on the UNP ticket so that the
Reformists could take control of the party after an obvious defeat.
Landslide victory for Modi
The Indian politics has always been a decisive and important factor
in Sri Lanka politics as the two countries have maintained close
diplomatic ties for centuries. Though the sentiments of most Sri Lankans
were hurt after India voted against Sri Lanka at two successive US-led
Resolutions at the UNHRC, India did not support the third such
Resolution to the UN human rights body last March.
India abstained from voting to the third UNHRC Resolution against Sri
Lanka this year, much to the disappointment to the US. The Indian
government also extended its ban on the LTTE by another five years,
further strengthening the tied between the two neighbouring countries.
But the ten-year rule of the Indian Congress government came to an
end as the main Opposition - Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) registered a
landslide victory. While Jayalalitha’s AIDMK is leading the polls in
Tamil Nadu with 35 seats of the total 37 due to the strong show of the
Alliance led by BJP, political analysts’ state that Jayalalitha will
have marginal bargaining power with the Central Government under the
Premiership of Narendra Modi.
The BJP has won enough parliamentary seats to establish an
independent government without forming a coalition with smaller parties.
This has significantly reduced the bargaining power Tamil Nadu has had
over the Indian Central Government in the last decade. This has been a
positive move towards Sri Lanka.
Jayalalitha loses bargaining power
Reports said that a rift emerged between Modi and Jayalalitha during
the run up to the polls with them criticising each other publicly. The
sparring between Jayalalitha and Modi has taken centre stage which makes
it highly unlikely that a coalition would form between the BJP and
Jayalalitha of the AIADMK, is the present Chief Minister of Tamil
Nadu and was a popular actress in the film industry, before she stepped
into politics. “I wish the new Government and the new PM well, hope the
new Government will be friendly towards Tamil Nadu,” she was quoted as
The BJP led National Democratic Alliance headed for a landslide
victory at the Indian General Elections. Narendra Modi, the
controversial Hindu nationalist leader, was due be sworn in as India’s
new Prime Minister later yesterday. Modi took part in a victory parade
in Delhi last morning after he flew to the capital from his home state
of Gujarat to get blessings from his mother after the stunning victory
of the BJP.
Modi, a Hindu nationalist and chief minister of Gujarat, campaigned
on promises to revive the economy. After being in power for ten years,
the Congress Party was routed with its leader Rahul Gandhi taking
responsibility for the defeat.
The leaders of India's defeated Congress party, Sonia and Rahul
Gandhi, admitted personal responsibility on Friday for the disastrous
election results which came after 10 years in power. “We understand that
victory and loss is part of democracy,” party president Sonia told
reporters in New Delhi.
Modi wants strong ties with Lanka
India's Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi said he looks forward
to a strong relationship between Sri Lanka and India.
After speaking to President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the phone soon
after the release of Indian General Election results, Modi tweeted ‘…It
was wonderful speaking to you earlier today. I look forward to strong
relations between Sri Lanka & India.”
President Rajapaksa was among the first to greet the new Indian
leader on Friday and invited Modi to tour Sri Lanka.
No international probe, President insists
President Rajapaksa said last week that Sri Lanka is in the process
of implementing all demands made by the sponsors of the UNHRC resolution
against it, except for permitting an international probe into alleged
human rights violations during the last phase of the battle against the
This was disclosed when Japan's Parliamentary Vice Minister for
Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara met the President last week. Kihara has
said that his country abstained from voting on the US-backed resolution
at the UNHRC, having considered the proposal and deciding that it would
not help Sri Lanka.
“We considered whether the Resolution against Sri Lanka moved in the
UN Human Rights Council in Geneva would help Sri Lanka. We decided it
will not. That is why we abstained when the vote was taken,” the
Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister said.
“Please tell this truth to rest of the world. Except for an
international inquiry we are in the process of implementing all other
demands made by sponsors of the Resolution,” the President replied.
Japan along with India was one of the 12 countries which abstained in
the UNHRC vote in Geneva in March.
Refuges warned against commemorating Tigers
The Coastal Security Group (CSG) personnel conducted a programme on
Wednesday in the Keezhputhupattu Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camp in Tamil
Nadu to sensitise the residents to security perception.
Inspector (CSG) R. Sekar told media that inmates of the camp were
advised not to organise any function to commemorate the death
anniversary of Prabhakaran which falls today. The camp residents told
him that they would not conduct such events as it might affect the
harmonious relations among themselves.
Sekar told them that they should immediately alert the police and the
CSG personnel if they came across unknown persons in their area. A total
of 454 families are living in the old and new refugee camps at
Keezhputhupattu. They were eking out their living by doing odd jobs,
including loading and unloading the consignments at the fish landing
yards and taking up construction jobs.
As the 45-day fishing ban period was now in force, many of them were
jobless. Sekar told the inmates not to fall prey to unscrupulous
elements who might exploit their gullibility by promising lucrative jobs
abroad, and set out on clandestine sea voyage in search of greener
pastures. They should give no room for activities that would be suspect
in the eyes of the security personnel.
Cameron’s Vesak message
The UK has shown an extraordinary interest on Sri Lanka and even on
its domestic matters with British Prime Minister David Cameron always
going that extra mile in the guise of helping Sri Lanka.
He and his colleagues often discuss matters pertaining to Sri Lanka
in the British Parliament almost on a regular basis as if Sri Lanka is
another country of theirs.
Since of late, Britain has made it a habit of issuing a message to
mark Vesak. But Cameron was smart enough not to mention Sri Lanka’s name
in his Vesak message. Instead, he talked about the “Buddhists in Britain
and around the world”.
The British premier, issuing a Vesak message sent his best wishes to
Buddhists in Britain and around the world celebrating Vesak, the sacred
festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment and the passing away (Parinirvana)
of the Buddha.
“For millions of people it is a time to reflect on the Buddhist
teachings of tolerance and compassion, and to make offerings to those in
need. It is a special occasion that reminds us of the sincere and
enduring principles espoused by Buddhists throughout the world”, he
Camaron had said that he especially wished to praise Britain’s
Buddhist communities for the outstanding contribution they make to the
Britain. “To Buddhists in the UK and the world, I wish you a happy and
peaceful Vesak”, he said.
Britain, a safe haven for crimes against humanity
The British government by allowing the ‘Say No To Sri Lanka’
conference to take place in London this weekend, condones those who
committed serious crimes against humanity. “They are encouraged to carry
out their activities,” SLFP Batticaloa chief organiser Arun Thambimuttu
“The UK should not condone such activities on their soil. This shows
the duplicity of the British government,” he added.
He said the British government should not encourage the resurgence of
the LTTE in Sri Lanka by allowing the LTTE to function on its soil.
Thambimuttu’s comments came in the wake of reports that the Transitional
Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) is preparing to host a conference ‘Say
No To Sri Lanka’ on May 17 in London despite Sri Lanka proscribing LTTE
front organisations, under the UN Security Council resolution, including
the TGTE. “These actions will back fire on the sponsoring country,” he
He said the British government has allowed T. Rudrakumaran to conduct
what is called a conference targetting sanctions against Sri Lanka and
its leaders while asking for human rights and reconciliation in Sri
Thambimuttu said Rudrakumaran is among the high level leaders of the
LTTE terrorist organisation and he is an active member of LTTE proxies
aiming at carving out a separate state in Sri Lanka. Thambimuttu whose
parents were killed by the LTTE terrorists opposite the Canadian High
Commission said the British government should take serious note of the
recent report issued by the United States.
“This report clearly states that efforts are being made to
resuscitate the LTTE terrorist organisation,” he said. He said that
British Government has failed to take any action against Adela
Balasingham who was responsible for conscripting thousands of under aged
girls and boys to the terrorist organisation.
Sanga on politics
Former Sri Lanka cricket captain and celebrated batsman Kumar
Sangakkara has hit headlines each time he makes a speech outside
cricketing fielding. Sanga who made a dream debut for English county
Durham with a majestic knock of 159, had commented on a UK-based Tiger
sympathisers who had previously attempted to disrupt Sri Lanka’s
Commenting on last year’s protest by British-based Tamil groups
during Sri Lanka's Champions Trophy matches at Cardiff and the Oval,
Sanga had said politics played a large part in a lot of things “on a
tour, sometimes you can't escape from that. Nothing was aimed directly
at the players. No individual player was targeted” he was quoted as
saying to The Independent.
Sangakkara admits that he has not always batted well in England, but
gives himself some slack because going in at No 3 and keeping wicket, as
he did in 2002 and 2006, is a challenge. He does not want to make
excuses, though. “You know what you're up against,” he said.
“Wickets are at their freshest in England this time of year. That's
the whole point of the challenge. I could get a couple of good scores,
or I could get a good ball early on. You have to go in with an open
Over the last few years, Sangakkara has been working with a charity
organisation, helping disadvantaged people in North and East.
“So many people went through years of hell, but with all that going
on around them, they still carried on with their way of life,” he says.