Thursday, October 30, 2008


We feel belittled: Hakeem

SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem is speaking of a grand alliance between the minority parties to meet the concerns of the minority communities. Blaming the govt. for ignoring these issues, he is also critical of some inhibitions on the part of the main opposition in not taking a definite stand on the futility of the war. “The UNP is inhibited by the propaganda machinery of the government. There’s a feeling that the UNP shouldn’t be seen criticizing the war. This kind of confusing mindset can’t solve the burning issues facing the country,” he adds.

There is a fear psychosis growing among the minorities.
I am critical of Ranil for not using Parliament to address these issues.
UNP is not taking a definite stand on the futility of the war.
UNP’s confusing mindset can’t solve the burning issues facing the country.
Certainly the LTTE can’t be trusted.
Q: What is the necessity for the grand alliance you speak of ?

The main opposition UNP has mooted the idea of a grand alliance and it has been discussed for some time. But some of the basic issues don’t seem to get addressed properly like electoral reforms or devolution. Though there are occasional statements coming out of the government leadership on the rights of the minorities they hardly suffice when there is a need for a clear cut policy on this. We also find the APRC not going anywhere since it is only a devise to hoodwink the international community. We have no hope of achieving anything from that. We should form ourselves in to a pressure group on issues needing urgent attention and exposing the duplicity of key players. It doesn’t in anyway hamper the efforts of the UNP if they want to link up with us. As usual the UNP has to talk about economic issues. There are also some inhibitions on the part of the main opposition in not taking a definite stand on the futility of the war. The UNP is inhibited by the propaganda machinery of the government. There’s a feeling that UNP shouldn’t be seen criticizing the war. This kind of confusing mindset can’t solve the burning issues facing the country.

Q: You were always seen as a UNP ally even though you joined this government for a little while. Are you mooting a separate alliance to avoid being seen as fulfilling a UNP agenda rather than the needs of the Muslim community ?

The problem with the UNP is that it’s saddled with its own internal strife and is confused about talking on vital minority issues. There is no use in asking UNP Members of the minority communities in speaking for minority rights when it must come from the UNP leadership. I am critical of Ranil for not using Parliament to address these issues. He had since the Presidential elections ceded leadership in the Parliament to others and merely operated backstage. First he got Mr. Karu Jayasuriya but after he moved he is now using Sajith Premadasa, who doesn’t seem interested in using Parliament for this end. The leadership seems to be otherwise preoccupied. He must use the Chambers to address the issues. This state of affairs isn’t at all satisfactory. As the main Opposition UNP must play its role with more commitment and zeal.

Q: Are these concerns having greater impact to you given that during the UNP regime your presence at the peace talks was rejected? Are you concerned that there is no room for minority rights within the UNP ?

They are certainly not ignorant of minority issues. But they seem very confused as to what their policy line should be on this, in the midst of the hype of war propaganda created war hysteria in the country. The main opposition can’t be seen to be aping the government as far as the nationalist stand. We need to see leadership coming to the forefront. We need for the leadership to be a little more open in attitude. Otherwise they should go to the grassroots and work from there.

Q: The government looks like it is poised to win this war. What are your concerns with regard to the on-going military exercises ?

When you see those in the military leadership making sentiments on minority communities, we feel we don’t belong here. Then there are government Ministers praising these officials, and not one Minister has to date disassociated themselves from these statements. These comments raise a variety of concerns where the community is concerned.

Those in the defence establishment were saying that there have been only six air attacks by the LTTE as opposed to 6000 sorties carried out by the Air Force. If the Air Force does tat against its own civilians what about their concerns, what is the impression we get? In their enthusiasm their real agenda is seen. They want to talk tough and be popular, but they really need to be tempered down. We wish the security forces well, but the minorities are made to feel as if their contributions are not appreciated. We feel belittled. It is as if it’s a Sinhala army- look at the way they have named the regiments. This is all a mono-culturist attitude to the war. This is a very objectionable stand. They have to go through some change. They can call me a traitor but as a Sri Lankan we must feel wanted. There is a fear psychosis growing among the minorities. But it’s a bigger joke when the LTTE aircraft can come and bomb Kelanitisaa and leave like they did last night. Any other self respecting Air Force Commander would resign. What is their excuse today? At this rate they can come and bomb the Parliament in broad day light! Where is all the military expenditure going?

Q: You have expressed concerns with regard to the Muslims in the East. Are you of the view that things have not become better for the Muslims after liberation in the East ?

The whole strategy of the government on the conflict appears to be in what they are doing in the East. They feel that there is no need for devolution of power. They may go to New Delhi and say that they want to devolve power but on the ground it is a different situation. We are sick of hearing this all the time. We can see where this strategy is going. The govt. uses others as cat’s paws to demonstrate against devolution. This is a joke. We see how these demonstrations are organized for the government’s agenda of a militarist approach, which will not solve the conflict.

Q: But how would you compare their position today with that of when you had signed an MoU with the LTTE when the LTTE harassed or killed Muslim people in Valachchanai or Muttur ?

It’s only that the players have changed. The LTTE has been taken over by the TMVP. There is no change in attitude towards the Muslims. At the recent Akkaraipattu incident all fingers were turned towards the TMVP, with various others incidents when Muslims were killed. There’s a tight leash on the media so that no one knows what is happening there. Minorities are totally neglected. All types of statements to the contrary are mere symbolic gestures.

Q: How do you view the developments in Tamil Nadu, where New Delhi seems to have acted in favour of the Sri Lankan government ?

We have to go back to the Non-aligned summit in Havana when as assurance was made to the Indian PM that the North East will not be merged. Subsequently when the President visited New Delhi not even a photo opportunity was offered. India is clear about their concerns about other players in their backyard. Of course the failed agitation cost Karunanidhi his credibility with all his theatrics. All was turned upside down. He was made to eat humble pie. But in my opinion India is also losing credibility in the midst of all these fire fighting exercises they carry out. Certainly the LTTE can’t be trusted. India has learnt bitter lessons. And with the Congress at the centre their reluctance to deal with Prabakaran is apparent. The government campaign in hoodwinking India seems to have worked out, but we will not sit silently and watch all these theatrics. We are going to find alternative ways to win our rights.

Q: The SLMC and the JHU seemed to get on very well during your stint in the government. But now there is a serious war of words in between. Where did things go wrong ?

When the JHU says that the country only belongs to the Sinhalese we can’t sit back and do nothing. They can’t say it doesn’t belong to us as well. This is as much our country as it is theirs. These theories about who came first can’t hold now. They must learn to respect other communities and the sacrifices made by them on nation building. This is not a god given right to the Sinhalese. Co-existence is a virtue we all want to proudly proclaim. But we are not going to sit and watch this.

Q: You left the government during the 3rd reading of the last budget. With another budget around the corner, are we going to see another change ?

We will look at issues on their merits and follow on. That is a decision we will take depending on the issues facing us. There is heavy borrowing and our external resources are depleting heavily. There will be a serious impact on the economy. These expenditures can’t be sustained beyond this year. This budget surely won’t bring this country any closer to a solution. This government is only going on the military agenda and on a euphoria which will soon evaporate. Their mishandling of GSP+ show that we have no consideration for the human rights concerns of the world and proof of the government’s dismal human rights record.

Q: There is a call for international intervention against the military operations in the Wanni. How do you think the international community should respond ?

We are not rooting for intervention as such but these concerns can’t be brushed aside. As countries concerned with human rights they would want certain norms to be addressed. They are bound to insist on certain standards. Aid doesn’t come without strings attached. We can’t be a banana republic not concerned with international concerns. Innocent people are being targeted and democracy breached. This must change. That must come with a struggle and we will carry out that struggle till the people’s needs are met.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


யார் பூனைக்கு மணி கட்டுவது? 10/27/2008

சுமார் 210 வருடங்கள் பழைமைவாய்ந்த அதாவது டச்சுகாரர் இலங்கையை ஆண்ட சமயம் 1798ம் ஆண்டு ஆரம்பிக்கப்பட்ட இலங்கை தபால் சேவை அப்போது கிழக்கிந்திய கம்பனியின் கட்டுப்பாட்டில் டச்சு காரர்களின் அலுவலக கடிதங்களை விநியோகம் செய்வதையே தலையாய கடமையாக கொண்டு செயல்பட்டது. 1815ல் ஆங்கிலேயர் இலங்கை முழுவதையும் தனது கட்டுப்பாட்டின் கீழ் கொண்டுவந்த பின் அத் தபால் சேவையை முழு இலங்கை மக்களுக்கும் வழங்க வேண்டிய வழிவகைகளை மேற்கொண்டனர்.

ஆசியாவிலேயே முதன் முதல் தபால் வண்டிச் சேவையை 1832ல் கொழும்பிலிருந்து போhதனை வரையும் பின் 1838ல் கொழும்பிலிருந்து காலி வரையும் ஆரம்பித் ஆங்கிலேயர் இத்தபால் சேவையின் வினைத்திறனைக் கூட்டுவதற்காகவும் விரைவான தபால் சேவையை வழங்கவும் 1882ல் கொழும்பில் முதன் முதலில் தபால் காரியாலயத்தையும் அமைத்தனர். பின் 1892ல் கொழும்பு பேராதனை நடமாடும் தபால் சேவையை ஆரம்பித்தனர்;

சுதந்திரம் அடையும் வரை பல்வேறு மாற்றங்களுக்குட்பட்டு இன்று இத்தபால் சேவை இலங்கையர் அனைவருக்கும் சேவையை வழங்கும் பொருட்டு தபால் தந்தி தொiலைத் தொடர்புகள் அமைச்சின் கீழ் இலங்கை முழுவதும் சுமார் 19000 ஊழியர்களையும், பிரதான தபாலகம், உப தபாலகம், முகவர் தபாலகம் என 4712 தபாலகங்களையும் கொண்டு பொதுமக்களுக்கு தபால், பொதிகள், பணம் உட்பட பல பொருட்களையும் சேவைகளையும் பெற்றுக் கொள்ளுதல், களஞ்சியப்படுத்தல், விநியோகித்தல் என்ற முக்கிய செயற்பாடுகளை விணைத்திறன் மிக்க சேவையாக வழுங்குவதனை முக்கிய இலக்காகவும் கொண்டு செயல்படுகின்றது.

இத்தபால் திணைக்களத்தின் பிரதான குறிக்கோள்களில் நாட்டின் எப்பகுதியிலும் வெளிநாடுகளில் எப்பகுதியிலும் உள்ள மக்கள் கடிதம்;, பார்சல்கள், அல்லது எந்த பொருட்களையும் விணைத்திறன் மிக்க முறையில் விரைவாகவும் பாதுகாப்பாகவும் பெற்றுக் கொள்ளுதல், விநியோகித்தல்.

தபால் சேவை வலையமைப்பை விருத்தி செய்தலும் வாடிக்கையாளருக்கு (பொதுமக்களுக்கு) அதிஉச்ச பாதுகாப்பானதும் பொருத்தமானதுமான விணைத்திறன் மிக்க சேவையை வழங்குதல் என்பன மிக முக்கியமானவை பொதுமக்களின் மிக அத்ததியாவசிமான இத்தபால் சேவையின் முக்கியத்துவம், அதன் பயன்கள், விணைத்திறன் மிக்க சேவை என்பன எல்லா மக்களுக்கும் சரியான முறையில் கிடைப்பதை உறுதிப்படுத்வும் அதனை மேலும் பிரபல்யப்படுத்துவதற்கும், அதன் சேவைகளை மேலும் மக்களுக்கு இலகுவாக கிடைக்க புதிய புதிய முறைகளை ஊக்குவிக்கவும் வருடா வருடம் அக்டோபர் 09ம் திகதி உலக தபால் தினமாக கொண்டாடப்படுகின்றது நாமும் கடந்த வாரம் உலக தபால் தினத்தினை வெகு விமர்சியான கொண்டடினோம்.

இச் சேவை இலங்கையர் அனைவருக்கும் கிடைக்க வேண்டும் என்ற நோக்கிலும் “நாட்டின் எப்பகுதியிலும் வெளிநாடுகளில் எப்பகுதியிலும் உள்ள மக்கள் கடிதம்;, பார்சல்கள், அல்லது எந்த பொருட்களையும் விணைத்திறன் மிக்க முறையில் விரைவாகவும் பாதுகாப்பாகவும் பெற்றுக் கொள்ளுதல், விநியோகித்தல். என்ற குறிக்கோளில் செயற்பட்டாலும் ஏதோ மலையக மக்களுக்கு மட்டும் இச்சேவை இன்னும் எட்டாக்கனியாகவே உள்ளது.

இதனால் இம்மக்கள் சொல்லொன்னா துன்பங்களை அனுபவித்தாலும் அதிலிருந்து மீள என்ன செய்வதென்றறியாமல் நமது “ தலைவிதி என நினைத்து யாராவது, எப்போதாவது செய்து தருவார்கள் என்ற நினைப்பில் “ சும்மா இருந்து விடுகின்றனர். இவர்கள் சார்பாக பிரதேச சபை, மாகான சபை, பாராளுமன்றம் சென்றவர்கள் இருந்தும் ஏன் தபால் தொலைத் தொடர்புகள் பிரதி அமைச்சராக மலையகத்தவர் இருந்தும் இன்று வரை அதே நிலைதான் இந்நிலையில் கடந்த வாரம் தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகைகளில் காணப்பட்ட “ உரிய நேரத்தில் தபால் கிடைக்காமையினால் பல்கழைக்கழக வாய்ப்பை இழந்த மாணவன் என்ற தலைப்பு அநேக புத்திஐPவிpகளையும், ஏன் அரசியல்வாதிகளையும் கவர்ந்த விடயமாகியது. அதன் பின்னர் ஆணைக்குழுவிற்கு கடிதம், ஐனாதிபதிக்கு கடிதம், தொழிற்சங்க காரியாலயத்திற்கு கடிதம், வேண்டுகோள் என பத்திரிகைத் தலைப்புகள் நாளுக்கு நாள் தொடர்ந்த வண்ணம் உள்ளன.

மலையக மக்கள் தபால் முறையாக அல்லது முற்றாக கிடைக்காததால்; எதிர்நோக்கும் பிரச்சினை இம்மாணவன் பல்கழைக்கழக வாய்ப்பை இழந்தது மட்டுமா?

1. பிறந்தவுடன் வைக்கும் பெயரில் ஏதாவது மாற்றம் செய்ய வேண்டி ஏற்பட்டால் மூன்று மாதத்திற்குள் பிறப்பு அத்தாட்சிப்பத்திரத்தில் பெயரை மாற்ற வேண்டும். ஆனால் இத்தபால் உரிய நேரத்தில் கிடைக்காததினால் பிள்ளையின் பெயரை மாற்றிக் கொள்ள முடியாமல் தவிக்கும் எத்தனையோ பெற்றோரின் பிள்ளைகளின் பிறப்பு அத்தாட்சிப் பத்திரமின்மை;

2. இப் பிறப்பு அத்தாட்சிப் பத்திரமின்மையால் பாடசாலை செல்ல முடியாமை, விளையாடடுபட போட்டிகளில் பங்குபற்ற முடியாமை, அடையாள அட்டையைப் பெற்றுக் கொள்ள முடியாமை சாரதி அனுமதிப்பத்திரம், கடவுச்சீட்டு பெற்றுக் கொள்ள முடியாமை.

3. தொழிலுக்கான நேர்முகப் பரீட்சை கடிதங்கள் உரிய நேரத்தில் கிடைக்காததால் தொழல் வாய்ப்பிழந்த இளைஞர் யுவதிகளின் பிரச்சினை,

மற்றும் வங்கியில் அவசரத் தேவைகளுக்காக அடகு வைத்த தங்க நகைகள் மீட்டுக் கொள்ள வேண்டிய கடிதம் உரிய நேரத்தில் கிடைக்காமையால் அவை மூழ்கிப் போன சம்பவங்கள், திருமண அழைப்பிதல் அத் தம்பதியினருக்கு குழைந்தை பிறந்தவுடனேயே கிடைக்கும் அவலம், வெளி நாடுகளில் பல்வேறு துன்பங்களையும் அனுபவித்து உழைத்து அனுப்பும் காசோலைகள் தொலைந்து போதல், பதிவுத் தபால்களை ஒருநாள் சம்பளத்தையும் இழந்து நேரடியாக தபால் நிலையம் சென்று பெற வேண்டிய நிலை, மரண செய்திகள் போன்ற அவசரத் தந்திகள் பிந்தி அல்லது கிடைக்காததால் ஏற்படும் குடும்ப பிரச்சினைகள், நீதிமன்ற ஆணைகள் பிந்தி கிடைப்பதனால் மேலதிக சட்ட சிக்கல்கள்;, அரச சலுகைகளுக்கான தபால் கிடைக்காததால் கிடைக்கும் சொற்ப சலுகைகளும் பெற்றுக் கொள்ள முடியாமை, போன்ற இன்னும் பல இன்னோரன்ன பிரச்சினைகளுக்கு இன்றுவரை முகம்nhடுத்து கொண்டிருக்கின்றனர்;

இப்பிரச்சினைகளுக்கு தீர்வுகான்பதற்கான தீpர்க்கமான நடவடிக்கைகள் எதுவுமன்றி தோட்டத்தில் நடைபெறும் தொழில் பிரச்சினைகளுக்கு தீர்வு கான்பதற்கு எனக் கூறும் தோட்ட காரியாலயத்தில் துரை மற்றும் தலைவர்களுக்கிடையே நடைபெறும் “லேப டே வில் சில தோட்டஙகளில் சில நேரங்களில் கதைப்தோடு நின்றுவிடுகின்றனர். அதற்கு சரியான தீர்வு கான முயற்கிக்காமையினால் சூரியகுமார் போன்ற பலர் இதன் விளைவுகளை அனுபவித்து வருகின்றனர், அனுபவிக்கப் போகின்றனர.;

நோய்க்கான காரனத்திற்கு மருந்து கொடுக்காமல் நோய் அறிகுரிகளுக்கு மருந்து கொடுத்துக் கொண்டே இருந்தால் இதே நிலைமைதான் நீடிக்கும். எனவே இலங்கை மக்களின் அடிப்படை உரிமைகளில் ஒன்றான இத்தபால் சேவையை மலையக மக்களுக்கும் நேரடியாக கிடைக்க வேண்டுமாயின் வேண்டுகோள் விடுப்பதிலும்;, கடிதம் எழுதுவதிலும் வெறுமனே காலத்தை கடத்தி விட்ட மலையக சமூகம் ஆழமாக சிந்திக்க வேண்டிய காலம் இது. இதற்கு விடை கான நம்மை நாமே சில கேள்விகள் கேட்டுக் கொள்ள வேண்டியுள்ளது.

1. நாமும் செல்லுபடியான முத்;திரை ஒட்டினாலும் எமக்கு மட்டும் தபால் திணைக்களம் மூலம் நேரடியாக ஏன் வழங்க முடியாது?

2. எமக்கும் தபால் திணைக்களம் மூலம் நேரடியாக கடிதத்தைப் பெற உரிமை இல்லையா?

3. தபால் திணைக்களம் மூலம் நேரடியாக தபாலை முறையாக விநியோகிக்க மற்றவர்களுக்கு உள்ளது போல் எமக்கு சொந்த முகவரி உள்ளதா?

4. தோட்ட காரியாலயத்திடாக வழங்கும் முறையை மாற்ற முடியாதா?

5. நாம் இம்மாற்த்திற்கு தயாரா, யார் இம்மாற்றத்தை ஆரம்பிப்பது?

மேற்குறிப்பிட்ட கேள்விகளுக்கு நாம் சரியான, நடைமுறையில் சாத்தியமான விடையளிக்க விளைந்தோமெனில் இன்று சூரியகுமாருக்கு நிகழ்ந்த சம்பவங்கள் எதிர்காலத்தில் இன்னும் பல சூரியகுமார்களுக்கும் நடக்க போகும் பல்வேறு துரதி~;டமான சம்பவங்களைத் தடுத்துக் கொள்ளலாம். எனவே "நன்றே செய் அதனை இன்றே செய் என்ற பொன் மொழிக்கேற்ப இன்றே ஆரம்பிக்க வேண்டிய கட்டாயத்தில் உள்ளோம். அதற்கான சாதகமான சூழ்நிலை (மனித வளமும், அரசியல் பலமும்,) மிகவும் பிரகாசமான முறையில் மலையகத்தில் காணப்படுகின்றது. விசேடமாக பிரதி தபால் தந்தி தொலைத் தொடர்புகள் அமைச்சர் மலையகத் தமிழராக கானப்படுவது மிகச சாதகமானது.

அத்துடன் பல தசாப்த காலங்களாக மலையக மக்களை முன்னேற்ற அர்ப்பணிப்புடன் செயற்படும் உள்நாட்டு மற்றும் சர்வதேச அரச சார்பற்ற நிறுவனங்;கள், சிவில் அமைப்புகள், புத்திஜீவிகள், ஆசிரியர்கள், அரசியல்வாதிகள், பல்கலைக்கழக சமூகத்தினர், மேலும் மேலும் கருத்தரங்குகள், ஊர்வரலங்கள், மாநாடுகள், மலசலக்கூடங்கள் கட்டுதல், நடமாடும் சேவைகள், விழாக்கள் மட்டும் நடத்தாமல் மலையக மக்களும் இலங்கையர் என்ற எண்ணம் வரத் தடையாக இருக்கும் இத் தபால் சேவை போன்ற அமைப்பு ரீதியான மற்றும் கொள்கை ரீதியான வேறுபாடுகளில் மாற்றம் கொண்டுவர தமது காலத்தையும், வளங்களையும், நிபுணத்துவத்தையும் முறையாக பயன்படுத்தினால் இந்நிலமை மாற்றமடையும் காலம் வெகு தூரம் இல்லை.

இத்தபால் சேவையில் மாற்றத்தை கொண்டுவரவேண்டும் என்பதில் யாருக்கும் மாற்று கருத்து இல்லை ஆனால் வரும் சவால்களுக்கு முகம் கொடுத்து யார் இதனை ஆரம்பிப்பது? என்ற கேள்வியையே எல்லோரும் கேட்டுக்கொண்டிருக்கின்றனர் எவ்வாரெனில் பூனைக்கு மணி கட்டுவது யார் என்பது போல,

POSTED BY : Weerasingham (Sri Lanka) email - weerasingham@car


No let-off till zero Sunita Narain

Bandi River of Pali

A few years ago I wrote about a textile town called Pali, in Rajasthan, which had completely toxified its seasonal river Bandi with industrial discharge. Then, I said the real story was not about pollution but the anger of farmers whose agricultural lands were destroyed because of effluents, whose well water had turned poisonous, and whose fight led the town to set up the country’s first common effluent treatment plant. The question I raised was: did we know how to clean chemical pollution in water-scarce areas?

The answer still is: no. But the persistence of pollution-affected farmers is ensuring the search is on for ways out.

In 2006, with three common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in place and a city-wide system to charge cess on every bale of cloth to pay for treatment, the river Bandi was still contaminated. That year, my colleagues at the Centre for Science and Environment went to Pali, travelled downstream of the dry river and collected water samples. They tested the samples at our pollution monitoring laboratory in Delhi and found high levels of toxins, even in the water of wells 50 km downstream of the town. Their analysis also showed the common effluent treatment plants were not meeting stipulated standards; there was a high concentration of heavy metals in the wastewater. My colleagues also found there existed ingenious ways to ‘beat’ the system—the treatment plants had bypass channels, allowing effluents to flow without check.

Unacceptable, said the farmers for whom we prepared the report. So government agreed the ETPs would be upgraded, at a cost of Rs 19 crore. Partly, the problem was not the doing of industry, but changing market preferences. When the plants were set up, cottons were in demand. Then synthetic cloth came into demand and the dying units shifted from alkaline to acidic processes. The treatment could not keep pace. The investment would now improve treatment, by changing the retention time, chemical dosing and aeration of effluents.

But the pollution did not go away. Farmers reported the water was as bad as ever. In 2007, at their request, my colleagues returned. More samples were collected; checked and analysed. The pollutants remained, as did the ‘bypass’ system. Worse, since the town’s drainage had not kept up with its industrial growth, much of the waste did not make it to the plants for treatment.

The furious farmers took the matter to court. In April 2008, the high court ruled in their favour. It asked government to set up water flow meters in every industry to measure discharge; to shut down ‘illegal’ units not connected to the effluent plants; to set up another common effluent plant for the waste for the new industries and, in all, to ensure all waste was treated completely. It was no small victory.

But pollution continues. The problem is more complex than current pollution text-books can fathom or explain. This is a region where the river has no water for most of the year. Even partially treated effluents (assuming the upgraded treatment plants meet discharge standards and no waste is bypassed) lead to pollution, because there is no water to flush it with or to clean it. The farmer association called us again. This time, my colleagues used a testing kit in the presence of farmers and industry representatives. The bypass was found. The samples showed toxins. All hell broke loose. At a public meeting, held in Pali town hall, politicians, administrators, industry and affected farmers came together to say, "industry is important but not at the cost of the pollution of our river and the suffering of farmers. Enough is enough. The answers will have to be found differently".

The farmers do not want industry to discharge effluents into the river. They want them to treat, reuse and recycle the effluents. The court has upheld this plea, directing "the treated water may not flow into the Bandi river". This is not an isolated instance. We have found at least three more court decisions insisting on "zero discharge or complete recovery and reuse of water discharged from factories". One is in a town neighbouring Pali itself, called Balotra, where a similar case was fought and won. The second is in the famous textile town of Tiruppur, in Tamil Nadu, where affected farmers took the issue to court which directed, in no uncertain terms, that no treated water would be discharged into the river. The third is in the industrial town of Ludhiana, in Punjab, where the court has issued notices that "all electroplating, textile dying and bleaching units have to set up individual or collective treatment plants to achieve zero-discharge".

The question now is to determine the next step in this pollution ladder, and if that, at all, leads to results. The fact is re-use technologies like reverse osmosis are expensive, they need high quality water as their input and, most importantly, leave behind a high amount of ‘reject’, which then has to be disposed off, somehow. In Tiruppur, the government is currently coming up with bizarre proposals to deal with the tedious reject problem. But the quest continues.

The fact is that, today, public pressure is driving industry and government to innovate, faster than they would like, to find solutions. Also, we have not even scratched the surface in finding appropriate and cost-effective technology solutions that will fit our size.

But let me not rush that way. The search is on. The farmers of Pali, Balotra, Tiruppur, and other pollution warriors, will ensure we get answers.

— Down to Earth features


Moving pictures: Harrowing tales of housemaids (
Lebanese filmmaker Dima Al-Joundi’s documentary, “Bonne … Vendre/Maid for Sale,” about the plight of Sri Lankan domestic workers in Lebanon, will be screened by Courrier International in Paris next month.

Lebanese filmmaker Dima Al-Joundi never did care much for the stereotypes about her country: “The Paris of the Middle East,” “The Riviera of the Arab World,” “The Swiss-like Arab country...”


So when she set out to make a film about the plight of Sri Lankan domestic workers in Lebanon, she had no qualms about exposing some of the less rosy aspects of her motherland.

Al-Joundi’s cleverly named documentary, “Bonne … Vendre/Maid for Sale”, couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

A string of reports have come out in the last year, both in newspapers and from human rights organizations, highlighting the abuses and exploitation of African and Asian domestic workers face, especially Sri Lankan maids.

Human rights groups contend existing laws don’t protect foreign domestic workers in Lebanon, and the country does not have a clear national policy to fight abuses against workers.

Human Rights Watch in Lebanon released a report in August that said that 95 migrant domestic workers had died in Lebanon since January 2008. About 40 of the cases were suicides, while 24 were described as workers falling from high-rise buildings, often in an attempt to escape their employers, the report concluded.

A classic documentary filmmaker, Al-Joundi told MENASSAT that “Bonne … Vendre” was her attempt at shining a light on the situation, “and to give voice to these silent women” who have been suffering within a system that Al-Joundi doesn’t hesitate to characterize as “modern day slavery.”

In a way, the subject chose her.

Al-Joundi was living and working in Sri Lanka in the nineties, just when Lebanon, which was starting to recover from the 1975-1990 civil war, was becoming a destination of choice for the Sri Lankan recruitment agencies. She remembers the scene vividly.

“It was dawn and I was on a bus with these Sri Lankan women - there must have been 60 of them, and they were all going to Lebanon to work as maids. The women were squeezing me against the window as they rushed to say a last goodbye to their families,” Al-Joundi recalls.

“They were crying and I found myself crying with them. I said to myself, ‘There is something wrong with this situation. These women are leaving their own babies behind!’ So I decided to begin researching the subject, which is when I discovered that there was this major business in domestic workers between Sri Lanka and the Middle East.”

Back in Lebanon, Al-Joundi embarked on a one-and-a-half-year cinematic project to highlight the life of the Asians in Beirut’s streets, the markets, the beach and in the Lebanese homes where they worked.

To set the stage, the film introduces Janika, a domestic worker from Sri Lanka, in her traditional pink maid’s uniform, cleaning vegetables, preparing dinner and washing the dishes in the home of her Lebanese employer.

“While working I think always about my country,” says Janika. “My heart is with my husband and my children. Although I am here, for more than three years I have cried for my daughter.”

Soon, Al-Joundi decided she had to go back to Sri Lanka to find the other side of the story. As a Lebanese woman in Sri Lanka, it wasn’t hard to find.

“Every time I would take a ‘tuk-tuk’ or the bus, men would ask me, ‘Madame, can you please take my wife to Lebanon?’ It got so bad that after a while I started telling everyone that I was French.”

The maids and their employers are only part of the story; the recruitment agencies are another.

A lucrative business

In her film, Al-Joundi highlights the role of the Sri Lankan recruitment agencies that target the poor, the uneducated and the desperate.

In one scene, a woman doesn’t have the money to pay for the burial of a loved one. So in a matter of minutes, a recruiting agent is able to convince her to sign a contract.

As part of their recruitment campaign, Sri Lankan agents often lure these women by presenting Lebanon as a land of plenty and a place where one can earn high salaries.

Many women go into debt in order to pay the fees for training, visa, travel expenses and guaranteed work abroad.

At the same time, the Lebanese employer typically pay up to $3,000 in fees to the recruitment agencies. The agency collects on both ends.

Once they arrive in Lebanon, the maids discover the reality of being a domestic worker in the Arab world.

“For the Lebanese, maids are like having a DSL connection where you pay a monthly fee and you have 24 hour access, and when you leave the house you leave it connected because anyway it won’t affect your bill,” Al-Joundi said.

There is little the maid can do once she is in the country.

Her legal status in Lebanon depends on the “kafalat,” or guarantee, that the employer has obtained on her behalf for the duration of her contract. To protect their ‘investment,’ recruitment agencies encourage the employer to confiscate the maid’s passport and other identity papers.

“I put it to the Sri Lankan recruiter I interviewed for my film like this: ‘What if I take you out of your country, take away your passport, make you work more than 20 hours a day for only $100 per month as well as lock you in the house? What would you call this? It’s not only racism, it’s slavery.”

Training schools in Sri Lanka offer newly exported domestic workers a 10-day Arabic course, household appliance training and how to please their new employer.

“I was the first in 1996 to visit these training schools, which no one from the outside had ever seen before,” says Al-Joundi.

“This is where the women learn how to tend to their household duties because the Arab woman is very picky about hygiene.”

According to the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, there are now over 86,000 Sri Lankan women employed as domestic workers in Lebanon.

They constitute the largest population of female migrant workers in the country. (Women from the Philippines, another big category, are more often employed as nannies.)

The economic impact of the domestic workers trade in Sri Lanka is huge.

In 2006, Sri Lanka received $3.4 billion in remittances from migrant workers abroad, making it the second-highest form of foreign exchange, and twice the amount the country receives in foreign aid and direct foreign investment. In fact, domestic workers now surpass tea as a Sri Lankan export product.

Recently, Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), was quoted as saying that Sri Lanka is planning to cut the number of women migrants exported to the Middle East due to the growing number of complaints of ill-treatment, breach of contract, sexual and physical abuse and unpaid wages. Menassat


DM voted Best English Newspaper in Sri Lanka(

The Daily Mirror was voted the Best English Newspaper in Sri Lanka at the Media Foundation Award ceremony held at the BMICH today. Daily Mirror beat Sunday Times and Nation newspapers to win the award.
Comments (32) | Article Viewers (589)

Posted By: Sriranjan

Congratulations to those Directors,Editors,Journalist,Photographers and other employees for their sinciere Services to maintain the Unbiased News .Daily Mirror is the Only English Daily deserved this Award.
Everyday when I come to office first thing I do is going to dailymirror news site. Your news are very fast, unbiased , impartial and accurate. Daily mirror doesnt just publish the content. They take the full credibility. I think You are Best. Congrats!!!

Posted By: Jude
We (readers) appreciate your marvelous services to the nation at a time when journalists and their family are put to risk; on-the-job, off-the job (while returning home), to face threats & false accusations. Our brothers & sisters of DM, our prayers are with you. Allah kareem.

Posted BY:Zahir-Xavier
Posted By: Nihal

Congratulations both Staff and the Management! Now, please resist the temptation of sitting on your laurels. You need to live up to this highly coveted recognition, and earn it the next time also. If you wish to be spot on with the unbiased breaking news, you will want to enhance your online operations. Why dont you consider operating a night shift, with a view to publish news as it happens. I note that your interactive comments sections are receiving commendable response. Hence, you could consider augmenting this section in terms of speed. At present, on more occasions than not, you take a lot of time to publish feedback. Needless to say, if you could overcome this hurdle, you will attract more visitors for sure. A word of caution though. Please dont carry too many Flash software related ads. At times loading of DM becomes painfully slow. Remember, all the Sri Lankans dont have latest computers, even in the West. When they do, many do not have faster internet connections. Thanks for remaining neutral, and being kind to the government at this critical hour!

Any people from any country or from any language or religious background love and show great respect when a govt or media or bureaucrats or NGOs or troops or politicians show real respect towards truth,justice,equality,freedom,HR,safety,unity and progress! DM/ST deserve all awards from anywhere in this world!WELL DONE!!!PLEASE CONTINUE YOUR GREAT SERVICE!



HR situation deteriorating - UTHR(J)

The human rights situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating, the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) Jaffna said in its latest report released yesterday.
The award winning human rights organization, whose writers are in hiding overseas owing to threats, also said that the President’s pledge of a political solution once the war was won was disingenuous if one looked at the East where he claims he has restored democracy by instituting a “toothless provincial council.”

“A responsible government must think and do the political work it is there to do, in winning over the Tamils and to persuade the world that it has a viable plan to minimize the damage and loss of life, before sending in the armed forces. To conduct a war with the present chauvinistic outlook is utterly irresponsible by the Sinhalese youth being sacrificed, even if the State has no empathy for the Tamil victims,” UTHR said in its report.

The general mood among the people of the Wanni was strongly anti-LTTE four months ago, and resistance continues, UTHR said.

UTHR said, however, that resistance to the LTTE was either passive or tragically fatalistic. With increased aerial bombing and shelling and stories of increasingly repressive treatment of minorities coming from other parts of the country, the mood was changing, it said. Despite this, the LTTE, by October 2008, had once again become very aggressive in conscription.

It further adds that the current political and human rights situation in East Lanka portends a dismal future for democracy and security in Lanka as a whole.

The LTTE has regrouped and is carrying out regular attacks. And there is a reported upsurge in incidents of abduction, searches and abuse of women by government security forces and allied paramilitaries.

In the East, where the Government’s public relations men boast of development and the restoration of democracy, there is greater fear, uncertainty and a deliberate cultivation of communal tensions, UTHR said.

Monday, October 27, 2008


People forcibly taken in buses for rally

By Yohan Perera

People in Batticaloa and Ampara were tensed and confused as they were forced into buses early morning yesterday by armed cadres to take part in a protest rally, opposition politicians in the District charged.

People from Kolavil, Panankadu, Thambattai, Komari, were force-loaded to buses according to reports coming from the area.

TNA Batticaloa District MP K. Thangeshwari who confirmed the situation said she was not exactly aware of as to who was behind this move. “It is the TMVP which is more active in the area but I don’t know whether they are actually behind this ,”she pointed out.

UNP member of the Eastern Provincial Council T. A. Masilamani said the people were in a confused mood as one faction of the TMVP were forcing them to go for the rally while another faction was forcing them not to.

He said people were taken away for some function in buses but they have not been told where they were taken for. Mr. Masilamani said there was a hurried preparation in Batticaloa town for some event with police requesting the people not to park their vehicles such as bicycles on the roadside in Batticaloa town.

Meanwhile, Batticaloa police also said they had received information about forcing the people inside buses and they said they had stepped up security in the area. The police also said all shops were closed in the area yesterday.

The Batticaloa town was in tension after the hand grenade attack in Kattankudi where five people were injured.


SL heading for bleak and dismal Future?

The Institute of management(IMSL) said tha the current scenario in Sri Lanka is bleak and dismal. During the past two to three decades, ethical standards, integrity and transparency, both in the public and some quarters of the private sector, and more so among parliamentarians and ministers, has rapidly deteriorated

President of the IMSL Anvor Dole made remarks to media at the launch of the IMSL membership benefits scheme “Some have even commented adversely on the judiciary. Bribery and corruption is rampant and has seeped into the very fabric of Sri Lankan society. However distasteful and unpalatable it may be, it must be admitted that bribery and corruption is the order of the day! But I believe that it takes two to tango. For every bribe-taker there has to be a giver, and in this light the private sector must take part of the blame. I may be saying something very controversial, but what has to be said must be said. It is bad and disheartening to note that little or no noise has been made by the different Chambers with regard to bribery and corruption. So much so that corrupt officials openly solicit a bribe.”” He said.

Mr. Dole further said that the recent landmark judgements by the Supreme Court on the ‘LMS-JKH’ affair, and the ruling against the former President in the ‘Waters Edge’ case, have done much to restore confidence in the ‘system’. It has demonstrated that at the end of the day, even the highest in the land, are finally accountable. It has certainly sent a powerful signal to all citizens of our country. Currently, good governance is conspicuous by its absence.

“We therefore as managers have a major role to play. The IMSL will strive to mould and fashion the thinking of managers, especially the younger generation, to maintain ethical standards, replicate ‘best practices’ and work towards a better corporate Sri Lanka.” President said

IMSL launched a new membership benefits scheme to its members. Under this programme its members will get access to a host of benefits and privileges with their IMSL membership card from many business establishments. The first card was presented to a distinguished and respected management personality in Sri Lanka - the Immediate Past President of Lions Clubs International and a former president of IMSL, Mr. Mahendra Amrasuriya. Mr. Malraj B. Kiriella, Honorary Secretary IMSL, who spearheaded this scheme, said “Our initiatives will raise the profile and image of IMSL members. Further, we are focusing on a concerted membership drive. We welcome new thinking. For the year 2008/09, we plan to spearhead initiatives that benefit our members who have reached the pinnacle of professional recognition in management. We are planning to offer further more benefits to our members”.

Mr. Kiriella who heads the IMSL committee on Image Building and Networking, further said that the IMSL had recently ‘re-branded’ itself, and launched a new logo and new corporate communication material . Talking on future plans he mentioned that IMSL is going to add new features to its premier communication tool, the website, focusing on many including IMSL members, academicians, professionals, businessmen, researchers, trainers, students and also the general public, in order to give them a broad understanding of “management”, which is identified as being important to the country . These new features will include an online discussion forum, focusing on a monthly live discussion on contemporary management issues, which will be conducted by a management expert, who would be giving the summing up and expert advice at the end of the session. Other new features include, an on-line course on basic management principles, which can be accessed by all and an Online Management Puzzle – an interactive monthly competition to make the subject of ‘management’ more interesting.

IMSL is currently a council member of the Asian Association of Management Organizations(AAMO), which is a partnership of National Management Organizations(NMO) in the Asian Region. IMSL, as the only recognized national Management body from Sri Lanka, hopes to be of more use to the AAMO membership in order to add to its stature and image.

The IMSL biennial National Management Conference (NMC) will also be held in the first quarter of 2009.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Tamil Tigers face defeat, but peace remains elusive
SRI LANKA: Battle ahead to bring lasting ethnic harmony to island
By Anuj Chopra in Jaffna/ courtesy:

SUITCASES IN hand, heaving and sweating for hours under the blistering sun, passengers endure a gauntlet of checkpoints. They are repeatedly stopped, questioned, frisked and hassled. Those without the required paperwork are turned back.

From Colombo's Ratmalana Airport, it is only an hour's flight to Jaffna, a battle-scarred peninsula in the north of Sri Lanka. But getting there is a miserable ordeal that can kill nearly half a day.

Most of the travellers are ethnic Tamils, a minority group in this tear-shaped island; but the overwhelming majority in Jaffna. No-one dares to protest. The slightest disruption can halt the air service at any time. After five sweltering hours of queuing, one passenger sighs, and mutters: "This is how you're treated when you're taken to a prison camp."

For two years, Jaffna has been cut off from overland access to the rest of Sri Lanka by a war zone in the swampy jungles of the Wanni region just south of the peninsula. The A9 highway, once a lifeline connecting the Tamil heartland to the Sinhala-speaking south, runs right through the middle of Wanni, where the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have dug in as they continue to wage one of the world's oldest-running insurgencies. Now, however, the Sri Lankan army has advanced along the A9 to within a mile of the insurgents' capital, Kilinochchi.

For Jaffna's Tamils, the army's imminent victory offers some hope the A9 will reopen, freeing the peninsula from years of repressive isolation and economic stagnation. Jaffna would no longer be plagued by shortages of fuel, food and electricity. The price of essential goods, all soaring because of the high cost of air and sea transport, might fall. Restrictions on fishing, the traditional occupation, will be lifted.

Locals hope peace will return to a land that was once a cradle of Tamil culture but has become a battlefield of bullet-pocked homes and shrapnel-scarred temples. Its people have endured massacres and forced displacement.

The fanatically cultist Tigers, the first to use suicide bomb vests, established a de facto separatist state in Jaffna in the early 1990s. Government forces recaptured the city 13 years ago and have held an iron grip on it ever since. Today, 40,000 government soldiers guard over the peninsula's 600,000 Tamils. Crowds in the markets pay little attention to the occasional thud of artillery fire in the distance. Troops wielding Chinese-made T-56 assault rifles man checkpoints at almost every street corner.

Nights in Jaffna are surreal. The streets empty at sundown, and a curfew is strictly enforced during the night. In the last two years, a wave of night-time civilian disappearances and killings has gripped the city. Corpses sometimes turn up on the streets in the mornings, but most victims are never seen again. Townspeople say most of the killings and disappearances happen during the curfew hours, cautiously referring to the perpetrators as "armed groups".

People who fear for their lives can seek aid from the Human Rights Commission, but according to the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based think-tank, "surrendees" are sent to Jaffna's squalid prison to be placed in protective custody, sometimes alongside convicted criminals because it is so overcrowded.

Flyers regularly appear on the Jaffna University campus, says a 20-year-old student, too scared to give his name - hit lists of supposed LTTE sympathisers. Most are young people, between 18 and 35, he says, adding that he has known several people who have vanished. "If you are Tamil, you are always under pressure to prove you are not LTTE," he says. "We live in an open prison."

Human rights groups say that, in 2007, Jaffna accounted for half of Sri Lanka's disappearances and more than a quarter of its extra-judicial killings.

Jaffna's Army commander, Major General GA Chandrasiri, blames LTTE infiltrators for the killings, but doesn't deny the possibility some of his soldiers might also be involved. Anyway, buoyed by the recent victories in the Wanni, Chandrasiri is confident the killings in Jaffna will stop once the war is over.

"We are determined to eradicate terrorists," he says. "There will be no mercy for the LTTE."

Sri Lanka's government has promised to transform the country into a peaceful land of ethnic harmony after the military crushes the LTTE and gains control of all rebel-controlled areas. But after 13 years of government control in Jaffna, peace is still an elusive dream.

For decades the Tigers have fought ruthlessly to become the sole representatives of the Tamils, and for many Tamils in Jaffna, their imminent defeat brings not relief, but foreboding. Many fear that, without the Tigers, Sinhalese hegemony will become more entrenched.

An elderly Tamil man from Jaffna negotiates a labyrinth of checkpoints on his drive to work every day. A soldier sticks his gun through the car window and barks at him in the Sinhala language, demanding a response, not seeming to care that Jaffna's inhabitants are Tamil speakers. "Will this attitude change, once the fighting ends?" the old man asks.

Posted by: shan nalliah ganghiyist, norway on 9:03am today
Thank you all for focusing the truth to the world!


India, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and the Rajan Philips

The situation in Sri Lanka calls for a more nuanced understanding of the different issues, parties and interests at play than the simplistic view of it as a straightforward military operation by a sovereign and democratic government to defeat and disarm an abominable terrorist organization. New Delhi’s expressions of concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the neglect of the political process in Sri Lanka indicate such a realization on India’s part, and could lead to some desirable changes in Colombo.

Encouraged by its military success in the Eastern Province, the Sri Lankan government mobilized its resources for a swift military victory in the North. The government obviously calculated that all the other tasks - mitigating humanitarian impacts, resettling displaced people, installing an interim administration and eventually holding elections for a new Provincial Council in the North – could come later, just as it was done in the East. Given the LTTE’s intransigence and its singular contribution to breaking the ceasefire and restarting the war, the Sri Lankan government seemed to have sensed a convenient indifference, if not a tacit go ahead, on the part India and other concerned Western governments, to its all-out military offensive against the LTTE in the Wanni.

As deadlines for capturing Kilinochchi come and go, and despite the unprecedented military advantage it now claims to have secured over the LTTE, the government’s exclusive military plan has run into significant non-military difficulties. The biggest of them is the growing humanitarian crisis in the embattled northern districts. The rather facile, if not cynical, description of the war by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, as a "humanitarian operation to free our people from the fascist and dictatorial control of the LTTE terrorists", flies in the face of ground realities and political credibility. There are nearly half a million (according to relief agencies and British government sources) displaced people in the North. Over 200,000 of them are ‘repeat IDPs (Internally Displaced People)’, repeatedly displaced over two decades owing to intermittent fighting and the tsunami disaster of 2004. About 30,000 have been displaced ten times or more. Providing relief to the displaced in the war zone is already a difficult task, and it will become even more daunting with the onset of the northeast monsoons.

The government did itself no favour in ordering international relief agencies out of the conflict areas. The LTTE’s bungling bomb-dropping in Vavuniya (its seventh overall) apparently gave the government the excuse that it could not take responsibility for NGO staffers. Even though sent out of sight, international agencies and foreign governments have remained concerned, and as conditions kept worsening they waited for a cue from New Delhi.

The Tamil Nadu whiplash

If Delhi needed a straw to break its silence, it got a whiplash from Tamil Nadu. The humanitarian situation in Northern Sri Lanka, more than anything else, galvanized seldom seen solidarity spanning the entire Tamilian political spectrum to demand in unison action by New Delhi. It was not the usual pro-LTTE suspects who facilitated the mobilization – but the Tamil Nadu branch of the Communist Party of India. All the other major parties of Tamil Nadu – the ruling DMK, the ADMK and the Congress joined, with the ADMK carefully making it clear that its sympathies were with the "common people and not the LTTE." Chief Minister Karunanidhi was forced by the political groundswell of concern to break coalition protocol (DMK is also a member of the Congress-led ruling coalition at the centre) and publicly call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "intervene immediately and stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka." New Delhi could no longer sit on the fence.

After a few high-profile diplomatic exchanges, the Sri Lankan President telephoned the Indian Prime Minister on 18 October. According to the press statement issued by Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "expressed his deep concern on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the North of Sri Lanka, especially on the plight of the civilians caught in the hostilities … (and) emphasized that the safety and the security of these civilians must be safeguarded at all costs." The Prime Minister "further mentioned that the rights and welfare of the Tamil community of Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the ongoing hostilities against the LTTE … (and) reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict and urged the President to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka."

Interestingly, the statement issued in Colombo spoke of the briefing given by President Mahinda Rajapakse to the Indian leader on "the current situation in the North, where the security forces are engaged in an operation to disarm the LTTE and restore democracy, peace and stability to the region." The Sri Lankan President also "reiterated that the security forces are under strict instructions to avoid causing any civilian casualties, during this operation." But the Colombo statement is silent on whatever the two leaders talked about the "political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement."

Although not contradictory, the different emphases in the two statements are indicative of the dilemmas faced by the two governments. The Sri Lankan government is clearly determined not to give up the military advantage it now has over the LTTE by being pressured to declare a ceasefire by India or anyone else. For its part, India has not asked for a ceasefire, but only that the government of Sri Lanka must give the highest priority to addressing the humanitarian situation, and clearly differentiate between the military offensive against the LTTE and resolving the Tamil political question. It has urged Sri Lanka to restart the political process.

Extremist and ultra-nationalist forces

Some of us have been questioning the government’s sincerity and seriousness about a political solution from the time President Rajapakse rolled up and cast aside all the progress that had been achieved in the search for a political solution and necessary constitutional changes during the twelve-year tenure of his predecessor, President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The great achievement of that period was the sea change in the values and attitudes of Sri Lanka’s two main political parties – the UNP and the SLFP. After decades of marginalizing and alienating the minorities, the two parties acknowledged that the state of Sri Lanka was in dire need of being restructured to reflect and enable the equality of citizenship of all ethnic groups, and not just the Sinhalese.

One of the really worrisome developments of the last few months has been the tendency to rollback this attitudinal change and to revert to the chauvinistic language and the values of the 1950s. The popular Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka started the slide saying that the Sinhalese accounted for 75% of the population and the minorities should realize this and desist making undue demands. The Minister of the Environment, Champika Ranawaka, who belongs to the extremist Jathika Hela Urumaya group, went further and opined that "the Sinhalese are the only organic race of Sri Lanka. Other communities are all visitors to the country, whose arrival was never challenged out of the compassion of Buddhists … What is happening today is pure ingratitude on the part of these visitors."

The National Freedom Front, the breakaway JVP faction supporting the President, summed up that President Rajapakse has no mandate to seek a political solution and that military solution is the political solution. Even a usually progressive and minority-friendly activist and commentator like Victor Ivan patronizingly advised the Tamils, while defending "Mahinda’s anti-LTTE war", that the Tamils should welcome just the elimination of the LTTE even if nothing else changes politically and constitutionally after the war. While these reactionary views have been roundly condemned by quite a few Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim Sri Lankans, they did raise the menacing prospect of the government being totally hijacked by Sinhalese extremists and ultra-nationalists.

The hand of extremism and ultra-nationalism is also evident in the Eastern Province where the new Provincial Council is having more than teething problems. The new Council represents an irreversible modification to the original intent of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and the Thirteenth Amendment. From hereon, President Rajapakse and his government could lay the foundation for the multi-ethnic Eastern Province to become the microcosm of a new, plural and power sharing Sri Lanka by vigorously honouring the rest of the Thirteenth Amendment - in regard to language, land settlement, security, social and physical infrastructure and economic development. Or, they could simply and easily turn the East into a permanent reflection of Sri Lanka’s troubled past.

Indeed the East appears to being pushed back to the past rather than ushered into a new future. Eastern Province Tamils and Muslims are alarmed at the signs of ‘Sinhalisation’ of the new Provincial Council administration that is being set up. They also fear future changes in the ethnic composition of the Province through encouragement to new Sinhalese settlers. All three communities feel insecure amidst the continuing violent interactions between the security forces, the LTTE and the TMVP factions. New High-Security Zones are being established displacing people out of their homes and they will become permanent landmarks on the liberated lands of the ‘rising East’, just as they are in Jaffna already.

The performances of the former militant and the former LTTE Tamil groups and the government’s patronization of them are also hardly encouraging. These groups are yet to become a blessing and not a curse in disguise or otherwise. They have liberated themselves from the LTTE only in name but not in undemocratic spirit or method. They are too subservient to the government politically, while the government in return turns a blind eye to their rampant acts of kidnapping and killing of Tamils and Muslims that have been going on for two years and more. Rather than checking the activities of these groups, the state security forces add to the misery of the already traumatized Tamils who trek to Colombo by subjecting them to periodical security sweeps and mass registrations. This is hardly the way "to free our people from the fascist and dictatorial control of the LTTE terrorists", that Foreign Minister Bogollagama is claiming that the government is doing.

Political wake-up call

In sum, while the military plans of the government have run into non-military difficulties, the political process relating to the Tamil question has suffered a serious setback. A few steps forward militarily but many steps backward politically – is not an inapt description of Lanka’s predicament. Let us not bring the economic dimension into the picture.

New Delhi’s intercession was a much needed wake-up call to arrest this political recession. The early signs are that the hardliners in the government may be forced to go silent, making space for moderate views to have some influence on President Rajapakse and his government’s decisions. India’s non-insistence on a ceasefire but insistence on restarting the political process has found resonance among influential voices in the government circles and outside. In fact, Dayan Jayatilleke, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Geneva, K. Godage, retired diplomat and formerly Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi, and the ‘Sunday Island’ editorial of 19 October, all in different ways, have gone further than asking for a restart of the political process. They are urging the government to proceed with finalizing a political solution independent of the military operations against the LTTE and not wait till the military operations are over.

Much good work has been done in this regard by members of the Left Parties, Tissa Vitarana and D. E. W. Gunasekera, who are also Government Ministers. The two have been sidelined by the rush of military blood and visions of military glory within the government. India’s sober counseling should help bring back the two Ministers and other likeminded government members to the President’s inner circle in a fruitful and purposive way. Tissa Vitarana is also the Chairman of the beleaguered All Party Representatives Committee, the work of which has so far been used primarily as a diversion against criticisms of the government’s failure to work towards a political solution. It is time that the Committee is expanded to include all the political parties, and not just the government parties, and its work used as the basis for new policies and constitutional changes.

None of this will happen unless President Rajapakse puts his mind to it and commits himself to finalizing a political solution. The broad parameters and even the details of a political solution – some of them to painstaking degrees – have been identified through the hard work of the Experts Committee and the All Party Representatives Committee. President Rajapakse created these bodies and then chose to ignore their work and recommendations because they were unacceptable to the JVP and JHU, both extremist and occasional fellow travelers of the governing coalition. New Delhi should encourage the Sri Lankan President to ignore the extremists and work with the more rational and principled Ministers and advisers of his own government.

By raising its concerns the way it did, the Government of India has addressed for the time being the legitimate sympathies in Tamil Nadu for the physical and political plights of the Sri Lankan Tamils without confusing them with whatever emotional empathy there might be in Tamil Nadu for the LTTE. The significance of the stand taken on the Sri Lankan situation by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and other political leaders should not be dismissed as Tamil chauvinism and electoral opportunism, although there are strands of both in Tamil Nadu’s whiplash at Delhi. Instead, it would be more productive to see if Tamil Nadu’s concerns could be used to achieve something practical and beneficial for Sri Lanka in general and for Sri Lankan Tamils in particular.

The LTTE’s involvement although ideal is not a pre-requisite for the finalization of a political solution, just as the military defeat of the LTTE should not be a precondition to it. Implementing the solution in the Northern Province, on the other hand, will require some involvement of the LTTE, or elements of it, since the LTTE, according to General Fonseka himself, is likely to survive a conventional military defeat on the battlefield and return to its guerilla roots. For this reason, the possibility of using the intercession of Tamil Nadu leaders to involve the LTTE in implementing the political solution should be explored by New Delhi and Colombo.

courtesy: www


by Dhammica Lankatilleke

CBK has been accused of gross malpractice and of cheating the people of this country; she has shown utter contempt by not issuing any statement on the allegations. Perhaps she has nothing to say for they are true.

We, the people, waited for the president to appoint a Commission to inquire into the charges listed against her by CIMOGG (Citizens Movement for Good Governance) but for reasons best known to him he did not do so. It was left to a civic minded citizen to go the court on behalf of the people at least in one case. We are grateful to the Supreme Court for its ruling which is a warning to all presidents that they are not above the LAW If a former Indian prime minister could have been taken into custody, surely we can do one better and let the rule of law prevail. There are nine other allegations against the former president which needs to be inquired into in her own interest.

The Organization of Professional Associations and CIMOGG initiated the demand and listed the instances of alleged misdemeanors; many citizens have written to the newspapers supporting the demand but the President has till now done nothing about it.

The CCMOGG and its mercurial Dr Visvalingam stated that they wished to see the doubts regarding the following matters cleared up;

1) Tawakkal take over of Puttalam cement

2) Air Lanka take over by Emirates

3) Shell gas monopoly

4) Waters Edge transaction

5) Rubber Block factory affair

6) Alleged purchase of second hand vehicles at new car prices

7) Giving Admiral Sandagiri an unprecedented three year extension after the age of retirement, considering that there had been serious allegations being made against him in respect of improper arms purchases.

8) The French locomotive tender – when we purchased ships engines for locomotives

9) Irregularities in the administration of the President’s Fund.

A few more misdemeanors have been revealed recently by Victor Ivan in his book the Bandit Queen. The fact that he has not been sued speaks for itself.

We the people are sick and tired of the corruption that has assumed the proportions of a virulent corrosive cancer and is destroying this country.

President Rajapakse had promised to wipe out corruption in his ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’, we do not think corruption can be wholly wiped out but he should deal with the problem in a meaningful manner; we now expect him to live up to his promise and deliver. Whether they be Presidents, Ministers or Admirals it does not matter. The bigger the fish the better; the President would not only earn the admiration of the entire country but also of the world community for cracking down on corruption. The President would no doubt be accused tolerating corruption and protecting the corrupt by default if he does not act.

The President by not appointing a Commission is now causing us the citizens to go to the Supreme Court to secure the Public Interest. The President must act or he would lose the trust of the people. It would indeed be a shame if their confidence in him is eroded as a result of protecting the corrupt.

After Waters Edge, What Next? Harindra Dunuwille

The landmark decision of the Supreme Court in the Fundamental Rights case filed by two concerned and public spirited citizens has stirred a nation that has almost resigned to its fate of seeing successive governments and its leaders govern her with scant regard for accountability and transparency.

This judgement is one of a series of decisions handed down by the Supreme Court since 1993 in the domain of the Doctrine of Public Trust and the Rule of Law.

The ancient Roman Empire developed a legal theory known as the "Doctrine of the Public Trust". This Doctrine primarily rests on the principle that certain resources like air, sea, waters and the forests have such a great importance to the people as a whole that it would be wholly unjustified to make them a subject of private ownership. The said resources being a gift of nature, they should be made freely available to everyone irrespective of the status in life. Under the Roman Law these resources were either owned by no one or by every one in common. This principle became the law in England and later a part of the common law of the United States of America in the late 19th centuary.

It's a timely reminder that the doctrine enjoins the Government to protect the resources for the enjoyment of the general public rather than to permit their use for private ownership or commercial purposes. Three types of restrictions on governmental authority are imposed by the public trust: first, the property subject to the trust must not on used for a public purpose but it must be held available for use by the general public; second, the property may not be sold, even for a fair price; and third, the property must be maintained for particular types of uses.

To protect, preserve and improve environment for the benefit of the community is a directive Principle of State policy and a Fundamental Duty according to Article 27 (14) in our Constitution. Thus, the State is not the owner of the natural resources in the country but a trustee who holds a fiduciary relationship with the people.

Through similar landmark judgments, the Indian Courts too have adopted the Doctrine of Public Trust as part of the law of that land. Our Superior Court have undoubdetly been encouraged by judgements in Public Interest actions that have have come out of neighbouring India. In recent times the scope for Public Interest actions has been greatly encouraged by our Supreme Court and in doing so it has afforded an opportunity for civic minded citizens to challenge the . infringement or imminent infringement of Executive and Administrative actions. I dare say the this judgment had expanded and advanced the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to enforce fundamental rights as the most important remedy against injustice in the discretionary power of the state sector.

There is much to be taken out of this Water's Edge judgment, where the Supreme Court held, inter alia, that:

1. The immunity conferred by Article 35 upon the President is neither absolute nor perpetual but only prohibits the institution or continuance of legal proceedings while he/she is in office.

2. No single position or office created by the Constitution has unlimited power and the Constitution itself circumscribes the scope and ambit of such power which would even include the power vested with the President who sits as the Head of the country.

3. The principle that those charged with upholding the Constitution are to to do so in a way that does not violate the Doctrine of Public Trust by state action/inaction is a basic tennant of the Constitution which upholds the legitimacy of the Government and the Sovereignty of the People.

4 Power held by organs of Government are in fact, powers that originate with the People and are entrusted to the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.

5 Powers exercised contrary to the Public Trust DocIdne would be an abuse of such power and in contravention of the Rule of Law.

6 Any one of the people of Sri Lanka may seek redress in instances where violation is believed to have occurred.

7 Persons without Executive status guilty of opriety or connivance with the Executive in a wrongful act of a violation Of a fundamental right are liable to be punished.

The former President and her crony Ronnie Peiris have been asked to make "a token payment of the real loss to the state of several hundreds Of millions (so that it) will serve to remind present and future state actors and agencies (i) of their paramount duty to further the Public Trust and (ii) that their actions are subject to the Rule of Law". The judgenent direects the Conunission to Investigate Allegations of Bribary or Corruption to conduct an immediate inquiry of the entire transaction with particular scrutin the actions of, among others, the Urban Development Authority and the Board of Investment.

From a reading of the judgement it very clear that both these public authorities have failed to act and discharge their duties and obligations have and have allowed themselves to be manupilated to the extent of completely abdicating their responsibilities as set out in the respective Acts of Parlament establishing those institutions. It must therefore follow that the Heads of these authorities and the Principal officers who were remiss in their duty would be investigated and prosecuted under the Bribery Aci, which new includes the offence of corruption as well.

The judgement observes that 'a notion that they were compelled to cooperate and facilitate the project.......... by other individuals and .entities', cannot absolve the two authorities from responsibility for the recommendations and decisions they have made.

This brings up the question of who these "other individuals and entities" are?

In a highly politicised state such as ours. Public Officials have been redued to mere passangers or 'on lookers' whilst the majority and the more ambitious types have become sycophants of their political masters. They together with political appointees do the bidding of these masters without question, be it right or wrong. Rules and Regulations are clay in their hands. The backbone of the public service has been broken. It is sad to see what was once a proud, dignified, independent and respected service, being dragged down to the pathetic state it is in today.

Whilst the politician is lagely to blame for this state of affairs, the members of Sri Lanka Administrative Service have over the years allowed themselves to he pushed into a corner. Let's hope that with this judegment at least, they will feel the heat of what might be coming and make an united stand to re assert themselves. The Association of Sri Laka Administrative Service Officers would do well to take a leaf from some of the other similar professional unions and act and stand together in the best interest of all.

Three Ministers have been named in the judgement, all of whom along with the former President in her capacity of Minister of Finance have submitted Cabinet Memoranda in this so did transaction. It is important to ask why at least two of these Ministers unquestioningly did the bidding of the former President whose personal interest has been dealt with comprehensively in the judgement; Why no other Minister questioned these papers in Cabinet. Very obviously, it is because they and all the Ministers just want to keep their jobs and all the power, perks and previlages that go with that office. Thus, we have a situation where the Executive comprising the public servants are rendered blind, deaf and dumb and the Ministers are silenced by profit and vanity on the one hand and an authoritarian Party leadership which shakles its members in and out of Parliament. Sadly, there is no one in Government to raise above self gain and self preservation to apply the brakes in instances such as in Water's Edge..

The record of the Bribery Commission in going after heavyweights specially political biguigs, is very poor. The mishandled assets cases of two former Ministers comes to mind. Two Officers of the Commission investigating the assets of a present Minister, have been suddenly transferred, one to a bunker in Mannar and the other into cold storage at Police HQ allegedly at the instance of one of the Commissioners. These are matters stated by the two Officers concerned in their applications now before the Supreme Court. The Commission has not taken any initiatives, despite a formal complaint made to it, on the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises but left it to interestd citizens to take up one or two of the twenty odd instances highlighted in the COPE report.

It also true that the state has not given the Commission the required man power and resources.. In addition its Director General was suddenly transferred out by a Presidential directive early this year. There is a serious a lack of political will to support and encourage its work. All of this casts doubts on the independence and effectiveness of this Commission.

It is therefore left to public spirited ordinary citizens to "blow the whistle" and take instances of abuse and misuse of power and the plunder of public assets to the last repository of confidence the Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


A clean, efficient and public-oriented Police force my aim - IGP


Hapuarachchige Jayantha Shantha Kumara Wickremaratne hailing from Wigoda, in Gampaha in the Minuwangoda Police division started his career as Police officer as an Assistant Superintendent of Police on August 01, 1974 after his graduation from the Sri Jayawardhanapura University.

An old boy of Thurstan College, Colombo he rose to the top most position of the Police Department assuming duties as the Inspector General of Police on July 01, 2008.

He is a 58 years old father of two children. He assumed duties as the IGP at a time the Police Department is faced with many challenges.

An experienced Police officer who had observed the way the role of the Police officer transformed from a peace officer at the time of its inception in 1865 under British rule to a Police officer who carries arms and ammunition all the time as a paramilitary officer facing various challenges with the increase of terror activities.

The Police who first confronted the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in 1971 in an armed struggle, are now sharing the responsibilities with the Armed Forces to provide security for the vital installations and VVIPs at a time LTTE is above to face crucial defeat in the Wanni following the liberation of the Eastern province.

IGP Wickremeratne is highly impressed about the performances of the Police officers who are conducting investigations into the recent bombing incidents.

When you are with the people the public will furnish not only the information pertaining to the crimes, they will provide information about corrupt Police officers. To win the confidence of the public we have to act in a transparent manner and the public has to be requested that you are contactable always and you are acting on their behalf. It is a very vital requirement in the Police service.
"In order to motivate the Police officers who are conducting investigations in an impressive manner I gave them scholarships - specially the people who have contributed to control the LTTE activities, recovery of explosives and arms and ammunition," the IGP says in an exclusive interview with the Daily News.

He is also worried about the bad image the people are having about the Police Department and vowed to take action to rectify this situation.

He also solicited public assistance to furnish information with regard to the LTTE activities not only through 118 and 119 but personally to him through his fax number 2446174.

Following is the full interview the Daily News had with the IGP at the Police Headquarters.

Q:In your opinion what is the primary role of the Police in the current context of the security situation in which the Security Forces have defeated the LTTE in the East and pushed them into a weakest position in Wanni with the liberation of many areas ?

A: The Army has captured the Eastern province with the assistance of the STF, Navy and the Air Force. Our priority is to give all assistance and fullest cooperation to maintain law and order in those areas. In short, it is our baby now. They have captured and handed over the area to us.

We established 12 Police stations in the Eastern sector and we enlisted Tamil and Muslim Police officers from the area to be deployed for the Police stations in the Eastern Province which was one of the impressive records in the entire Police service.

For the first time in the Police history we created a Police Training School for Tamil Police officers in Kalladi, Batticaloa. A decision was taken to post these Police officers to the Eastern province to avoid language problems to look after their own problems which had helped us to avoid the language barrier. For the Sinhalese Police officers we had to give Tamil language training courses. That was the most impressive step taken by this Government.

The other challenge for me is, the establishment of the new Police stations, Police posts with the new victory in Wanni and Mannar areas. We have started establishing new Police stations in Madhu and Viddathalthivu areas. My other challenge is to provide required personnel and logistical requirement to the 32 proposed Police stations in these newly captured areas.

We have already identified the priority areas such as creating a DIG range in Mullaitivu, posting of SSPs in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Mankulam and establishments of Police Posts, Police stations and ASP offices. As a top priority we have decided to enlist Police personnel from all parts of the island, irrespective of their ethnic group to cater to this requirement.

Weekly enlistment programmes had provided ample enlistment from all parts of the country and our training schools are full of trainees. In the year 2002 to 2005 there was no enlistment to the Police due to the policy decision taken by the then Government.

I have to give top priority to fill the vacuum during that period also in addition to the new requirement. Thanks to the intervention of the President and the Secretary Defence since 2005 up to date the Police Department has enlisted more than 16,000 personnel - men and women to the Department.

Q: Transparency International has branded the Police Department as one of the most corrupt institution in Sri Lanka. That is not a good image to the Police Service. What are the steps you can take to rectify this situation ?

A: Another priority for me is to clear the wrong impression among the public about police officers. As mentioned by you Transparency International has branded the Police Department as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. In order to beat this challenge I have already decided to create a special vision among Police officers. That is Dignified Police Service Through Enhancement of Police Public Relationship. When you are away from the public, they will not provide information to you with regard to crimes and other suspicious activities. When you are with the people the public will furnish not only the information pertaining to the crimes, they will provide information about corrupt Police officers. To win the confidence of the public we have to act in a transparent manner and the public has to be requested that you are contactable always and you are acting on their behalf. It is a very vital requirement in the Police service. Our top priority is to establish an honest Police service. Honesty is the most important thing in the Police career and honesty will help you to build a name in the society. I am highly advocating this principle.

Q:What are the progressive steps you have taken to stop these corrupt practices among Police officers ?

A: In order to avoid corrupt practices I have introduced an impressive reward system. Reward is the money they earned through contributions. Whenever, they detect a case the Court will fine the suspect. The Court will impose a fine and the half of the fine will go to the Police Rewards Fund. This reward money is contributed by the all ranks of Police officers from lowest to the highest. It is my duty to give a very impressive share of this money to the Police officers who detect most noteworthy cases. The most recent example is the Horton Place bomb blast. For the two Policemen who directed the bus towards an isolated area before the explosion I donated Rs.100,000 each in order to enlighten the other persons. Whenever they detect a good case we paid them money from the Reward Fund lavishly.

People who detected 320 Kg of TNT explosives from Nuwara Eliya were given rewards. Money as well as promotions, special increments and also scholarships. Our top priority is to tackle these LTTE activities. Because when you have sufficient manpower, when you have sufficient requirement it is up to you to encourage your Police officers to conduct more operations against the LTTE. I am happy during this year from January 01 to September 15 2008 we detected 4,070 Kg TNT and C4 deadly explosives from all parts of the island. This is due to the encouragement and the brave performances of our men against the LTTE threat to them and their families. We managed to conduct the SAARC conference without a single incident.

Q:But there had been instances Police officers had engaged in fraudulent acts to get rewards and promotions. How do you tackle this situation ?

A:It is true that several corrupt practices have taken place and inquiries are being conducted. But these inquiries are not yet completed and we have not yet identified the culprits. In order to avoid such allegations and charges we have streamlined the system and I am personally monitoring the granting of rewards. I have introduced a rapid rewards system to reward them speedily.

Q: The Police Department has also been branded as one of the highly politicised institutions in the country. There had been instances where Police had suspended investigations into some cases due to pressure from politicians. How are you going to manage this situation ?

A: Political interference has to be ignored hundred per cent by the Police officers as this will result in impartial investigations turning into partial investigations. I have already introduced a system under the able guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to advise politicians who engage in various acts of corruption. And also Police officers who had backbones and the Police officers who had acted efficiently were given full backing not to cater to such politicians. And the National Police Commission has helped me to ignore the political influence by introducing a selection criteria to face this situation. Under that selection criteria prepared by the National Police Commission people who are qualified to hold Police posts will be posted. Not henchmen nominated by the politicians.

Q: There is criticism towards the Police for ignoring complaints on minor offenses without investigating them. This situation has led to a situation for offenders to of minor crimes to commit major crimes. What is your observation on this ?

A: I can agree with your observation. What I am targeting is minor crimes have to be tackled promptly to avoid major crimes. For example the Police failed to detect the Sakvithi scam at the initial stages. Even some Police officers worked hand in hand with the criminals. I immediately took action to transfer the corrupt Police officers who were engaged in this. We arrested Inspector Pushpakumara who was evading arrest after being involved with Sakvithi Ranasinghe, due to my personal intervention. Another Police officer was handling crimes committed by the Security Guard attached to Minister Jeewan Kumaratungas's Ministerial Security Division. He will be arrested very soon and warrants have already been obtained. And also the officer who handled this investigation and done several lapses and acted to favour this Sub Inspector was transferred on an order given by me. The Public informed me about these investigations.

In addition to that major investigations such as investigations into Major General (Rtd) Janaka Perera's killing, the Sakvithi case were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department to conduct the investigations impartially, efficiently and methodically.

Q: Statistics indicate that the Police has been unable to prove the cases before courts though they arrest offenders in large numbers.

According to reports only four per cent of offenders are being convicted in the Courts due to the failure of the Police to handle these cases in Courts. What is the reason for this situation ?

A: I agree. Less attention was given to the prosecution part and the same had led to the cases filed in Courts. We have started conducting special training programmes in all the In-service Training Centres to train men for this purpose on a priority basis. Action has been taken to solicit the assistance of the Attorney General's Department to obtain the services of judicial officers to conduct such programmes.

Q:The Police carried out a census on the North and East civilians who have been temporarily living in Colombo. There was criticism that this was the first step towards removing them from Colombo. What was the outcome of the census ?

A: We conducted this census on arrivals from North-East giving wide publicity. We never mentioned about any particular ethnic group. We gave wide publicity to general public who came from Northern and Eastern provinces. We never categorise them as Tamils or Muslims.

respect of North and East even some ousted Sinhalese people came as well as Muslims. I personally handled this operation as Secretary Defence was very keen to have an effective census. We identified nearby schools to hold the census. We had a cordial atmosphere with the Tamil community who were the majority and the public were very happy about the way we conducted the census. None of the newspapers or media complained or mentioned about the any harassment of civilians. We are hoping to conduct one more census in the Western province for the public who had come to this area from upcountry. And also people who came to Puttalam district from North and East.

Q: There were a number of Supreme Court judgments ordering the Police to remove road blocks and barriers. What are the implications on the security situation after these judgments ?

A: With these judgments the security situation has changed. Suicide bombings took place in Boralesgamuwa Police area, Colombo city and places like Anuradhapura. We have to consider these situations and also bring it to the notice of the Supreme Court as it is our duty to present these new developments.

Also, as experienced Police officers we have to anticipate the coming period as the Army is about to capture Kilinochchi area. With that victory there can be serious incidents such as bombings by disgruntled LTTE elements. In most instances they were targeting innocent civilians such as people who travel in public transport, people living in threatened villages and also people in public offices. In such instances the primary task of the Police is to take possible action to provide maximum security to the innocent public as well as Army personnel and Police personnel targeted by the LTTE. Since they have failed to target them in the war front they are targeting the innocent Forces personnel who are moving to their places like Vavuniya and Colombo near Sambudhdhaloka Vihara. So we have to introduce new measures. We have to take all possible actions to prevent such occurrences. We have planned to inform the Supreme Court about these new developments and introduce new security measures.

Q: There is criticism that the Police officers were facing a disadvantageous situation following the absorption of the Police Reserve Force to the Police Service. What steps have you taken to rectify the grievances of these Police officers ?

A: In general it was a blessing in disguise. The majority of Police officers had completed long years of service but were not given any chance to have their promotions. My hats off to the President for introducing that scheme.

It helped a lot of Police officers nearly 20,000 to get their long overdue promotions. That system under the Mahinda Chinthana programme provides an opportunity to get their promotions from completion of their long service. It is true that there had been errors and lapses in this entire process. However, most of these problems were sorted out in consultation with the affected parties.

Q: There is another complaint that there are delays in conducting disciplinary inquiries in the Police Department. This has led to unrest among the Police officers. What are the steps you have taken to remedy this situation ?

A: There had been instances where disciplinary inquires were dragging for years and years due to the lapses in the administrative system. It is being rectified as most of these delays were due to the administrative problems. Top priority has been given to complete these long overdue disciplinary inquires.

Q: Very recently a large number of Fundamental Rights cases were filed against the Police officers when conducting investigations into incidents. How do you face this situation ?

A: At the inception a lot of fundamental rights cases were filed against Police officers. However, thanks to the intervention of the President to brief the Police officers to respect human rights Police officers were briefed at Police station level and also several Human Rights training courses were conducted at the Police In-service Training Centres. And also action has been taken on serious violations on a very effective basis by prosecuting those officers. Also Police officers were charged under the Cruelty Act for torture to minimise the number of such incidents. Due to these actions since 2005 the number of complaints has reduced. Also Tamil language training classes were started with the assistance of SLIDA, BMICH Education Centre NGOs.

Q:What is the progress of the investigations into the suicide bombing incident especially the incident involving in Major General Janaka Perera in Anuradhapura, and the one targeting Minister Maitripala Sirisena ?

A: Major General Janaka Perera's case is being conducted by the most qualified institution the CID. They were asked to take over the investigations and they are conducting investigations from last Friday. In respect of other investigations we managed to solve the cases, evidences was readily available by detecting the sim card of the mobile phone used by the suicide cadre.

In respect of the Boralesgamuwa incident and in respect of the Sambuddhaloka Vihara incident we conducted investigations in an impressive way and recovered nearly 4000 Kgs of explosive by questioning suspects and also detected suicide kits, side charges, claymore mines, micro pistols and unearthed a lot of networks operating in the area.

I wish to pay my gratitude to the Police officers who acted bravely to unearth these crimes and also I would like to pay my gratitude to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for giving personal guidance and assistance on daily to conduct investigations in coordination with the intelligence officers of the Armed Services.

This coordination has helped us to work in an very effective manner under his supervision. That was the success of the ending of SAARC duties in an impressive manner without an incident.

Q: Following the illicit liquor incident in Weliveriya, there were allegations that it was Police inaction that led to this situation. What are your comments on this ?

A:Allow me to explain this situation. There are separate Departments to handle various tasks to entrusted to Police Department.

Number one the Excise Department is there to handle illicit liquor and violations of the Excise Act. The Forest Department is there to detect the violations of Forest Ordnance.

Price Control Officers are there to enforce the Price Control Act. Abuse of children and women is a matter for the Social Services Department as well as the Child Protection Authority.

In spite of all these agencies we are also conducting raids. The General Public are under the impression that all these incidents are a result of police inaction. None of them is talking about the inaction of these respective institutions. I want to bring it to the notice that in addition to maintaining law and order, prosecuting offenders before the Court, taking action against crimes, handling traffic, deploying men for road blocks and bunker duties the Police is the only institution to tackle these things.

Q: What are your plans to expand the Police service ?

A:Our Police stations are having a depleted strength. The population is getting increased day by day in all Police divisions. But the manpower is not increasing on par with the increasing population. Their commitments are increasing. Take places like Nugegoda, Horana, Athurugiriya. With the establishment of Millennium City housing scheme the total population has increased rapidly but the Police station strength has not increased rapidly. Because we were focusing mainly on the providing strength to the Eastern Police stations. Now we are identifying the requirements in other areas. End of this month I am posting men to Badulla, Matale, Kegalle and Anuradhapura areas to provide additional manpower for their day today duties.

Because day today activities cannot be performed without a sufficient strength. We have to guard the road blocks, we have to guard the bunkers, provide security to the VVIPs.

Then we do not have strength to do the normal duties. Whenever, complaints are there it is our duty to send the people the same day. Otherwise major crimes will take place. I am giving top priority to 2650 who are undergoing training - they will be deployed in identified areas where there is a shortage of strength.


LSSP demands 13th Amendment be implemented

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party yesterday demanded that meaningful steps be taken immediately to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and has forwarded seven steps to be followed.

A statement issued by the party said:

The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) recommended to the President in January 2008 that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution be fully implemented pending agreement in the All Party Conference (APC) on the contours of a political solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic crisis. A Cabinet committee was subsequently appointed to oversee the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. Significantly, Mr. Tissa Vitarana, Chairman of the APRC and Mr. D.E.W. Gunasekera, Minister of Constitutional Affairs were not members of that committee. The committee does not function anymore and no meaningful steps have been taken to implement the 13th Amendment much to the disappointment of those who believe in a political solution.

In the circumstances, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party demands that meaningful steps be taken to fully implement the 13th Amendment and that the following steps be taken immediately:

1. Extend the Provincial Councils (Consequential Provisions) Act No. 12 of 1989 to the Concurrent List

Under Article 154C of the Constitution, the executive power of a Provincial Council extends to the matters in respect of which they have the power to make statutes, namely matters set out in the Provincial List as well as the Concurrent List.

When the Provincial Councils were set up, it was found that provincial authorities could not exercise executive powers under existing law as they referred to Ministers and public officers of the Centre. For provincial authorities to exercise such powers, statutes corresponding to more than 300 existing laws had to be made. The Councils were not geared to do so, and on a proposal initiated by Mr. Bernard Soysa who was a member of the Western Provincial Council, the Councils requested the Centre to pass a law which would provide that any such reference would be deemed to be references to the relevant provincial authorities. The Provincial Councils (Consequential Provisions) Act No. 12 of 1989 was accordingly enacted but the Act applies only to matters set out in the Provincial List. Provincial Councils are thus unable to exercise powers in relation to matters set out in the Concurrent List without enacting statutes. Very few statutes have been made by Provincial Councils to enable them to exercise such powers.

The LSSP proposes that the scope of the Provincial Councils (Consequential Provisions) be extended to matters set out in the Concurrent List. Such an amendment requires only a simple majority in Parliament.

2. Government should stop exercising executive power in relation to devolved subjects

Even in respect of subjects and functions under the Provincial Council List, the Central Government has also been exercising executive powers. The takeover of provincial hospitals is an example. Most Provincial Councils have not made their own statutes on all such subjects and functions and have been exercising executive powers relating to them using the powers given to them by the Provincial Councils (Consequential Provisions) Act. Under the 13th Amendment, the Central Government would be totally excluded from exercising executive powers in respect of a provincial subject, only if a provincial statute is enacted. The Central Government has been making use of the difficulties faced by Provincial Councils in making their own statutes to encroach on areas devolved on Provinces.

The LSSP proposes that the Central Government take a policy decision not to exercise executive power in relation to any devolved subjects.

3. The Central Government should hand over subjects such as agrarian services which were illegally taken over, back to Provincial Councils

The Central Government has taken over many subjects and functions that properly belong to Provincial Councils. A good example is agrarian services. In 1991, the UNP Government took over the provincial departments of agrarian services misinterpreting a judgement of the Supreme Court. In 2003, the Supreme Court clarified that the subject of agrarian services is a matter for Provincial Councils. Notwithstanding that clarification, the Central Government still hangs onto agrarian services. The LSSP demands that such subjects and functions be immediately handed back to Provincial Councils.

4. Appropriate action should be taken to ensure that police powers are devolved to Provinces in terms of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the Police Commissions Act No. 1 of 1990 and the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

5. Powers relating to land should be devolved in terms of the 13th Amendment and a national land policy should be formulated through a participatory process involving Provincial Councils.

6. The exercise of powers by the Provinces has been seriously limited due to the inadequacy of funds. This situation must be remedied. The Provincial Councils Act empowers a Province to raise loans on guarantees granted by the Central Minister of Finance. The Centre should facilitate action in this regard. Section 22 of the Act also stipulates that foreign aid negotiated for a project or scheme in a Province shall be allocated by the Sri Lanka Government for such project or scheme. The Centre should hereinafter route all finances in respect of special projects undertaken by the Centre in the Provinces, if they are on subjects under the purview of the Provinces, through the respective Provincial Administrations.

7. The provincial public service which supports the activities of the Provincial administration is weak and needs to be immediately strengthened. There should also be a clear demarcation of duties between those serving the Province and the Centre, but with effective coordination. This should also be done without increase in available staff, but through proper redistribution of human resources.

courtesy: www