Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 18 May 2014





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

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 winning.

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 Foundation.

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 AIADMK.

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 saying.

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 LTTE.

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 said.

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 said.

“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 said.

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 Lanka.

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 matches.

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 mind.”

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.

Donate Now |
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lank
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | Montage | Impact | World | Obituaries | Junior | Youth |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2014 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor