The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 125

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The Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka
(The proposed new constitution)
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Malaysian News. LABUNORUWA, Sri Lanka, Aug 1 (Bernama) - The dusty track in this village is like another village path in Sri Lanka's harsh dry zone except that the nameboard has some unique features unlike normal nameboards and bears some unusual names. "Our young are just dying away in the war," laments rice farmer Heen Appuhamy, who himself lost a son in the war. If losing their sons or husbands is enough grief to the village, it is worst when government compensation schemes don't reach them. More...
US State Department. Colombo, 4 August 2000 - The U.S. State Department announced on July 31 that the mail-in period for the next U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program (DV-2002) will run from noon, October 2, through noon, November 1, 2000. There is no application fee and no special application form is required. The application with the necessary information can simply be typed on a blank sheet of paper. More...
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T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Bill will be back, says govt.
NDTV/MSNBC, Tuesday, August 8 (Colombo). The Sri Lankan government had planned to pass a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament tomorrow. But the attempt to give the Tamil regions in the country more autonomy has failed, at least for now. Tomorrow's vote has been postponed because according to the government, 10 members of the opposition in Parliament had been kidnapped and taken out of country just to stop them from backing the government. But the government made it clear this evening that the Constitution Reform Bill would be brought back to Parliament for a vote during this session. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 20:30:12 EDT 2000
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Sri Lanka government performs about face  - Virtual New York

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
O  T  H  E  R      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E  S
UNP threatens mass agitation
The Hindu (International), August 8. The UNP leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, today threatened to join hands with other opponents of the proposed new Constitution and launch a mass agitation if the Government persisted in its attempts to push it through in the Parliament. ``If they think they can do so by taking away members from us or any other opposition party, then I would tell them, you will not get 150 members. If they want to continue on this course of confrontation, then the UNP will resort to a mass agitation in the coming weeks together with all and any organisation that is opposed to this piece of legislation,'' Mr. Wickremesinghe told reporters. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 18:39:13 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka's Main Opposition Against Draft Constitution  - XINHUA
Sri Lanka government asked to resign over vote debacle  -

Lanka's ruling party embarrassed
Times of India, August 8. Sri Lanka's ruling party suffered a humiliating setback in Parliament on Tuesday when it was forced to put off voting on a controversial plan to devolve power to minority Tamils, but analysts say the move may have helped salvage the proposals.A leading minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, who represents the Sinhala-dominated southern province, joined hundreds of Buddhist monks in a vociferous demonstration on the road to Parliament on Tuesday. His presence there indicated that the cracks in the government are becoming wider, as political sources said more key government members were increasingly angered by Kumaratunga's going ahead with the reforms. "Not only has the constitution bill split the party, it has brought the wrath of the (Buddhist) monks down on the government's head," said the analyst. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 18:36:44 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Vote on Sri Lankan statute put off  - Hindu
Sri Lankan Govt. defers vote on reform Bill  - Hindu
Setback for Sri Lanka peace hopes  - BBC
Bribes, pleas and uproar as Sri Lankan parliament debates new constitution  - WSWS
Sri Lankan President tries to push through anti-democratic constitution  - WSWS
Sri Lanka President suffers setback ahead of polls  - AsiaGateway

Electoral Reforms Bill withdrawn
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.55 p.m. SLT Tuesday August 8. Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe told Lacnet today that the Government has decided to withdraw the new Electoral Reforms Bill.

The Bill was approved by Cabinet on Thursday August 3 and approved the introduction of a new electoral system replacing the present proportional representation system.

The Cabinet last week decided to present this new electoral reform proposal as the 17th Amendment to the present constitution and to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court for its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile as speculation was rife that more Members of Parliament from both the PA and UNP would cross over to either side, Ven. Hendigalle Wimalasara Thero began a fast unto death in Pettah yesterday.

The Buddhist priest, a supporter of the 'Sihala Urumaya' and an Executive member of the National Sangha Council said he would "sacrifice himself to save the unitary charachter of Sri Lanka."
Published: Tue Aug 8 03:10:25 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
Sri Lanka rolls back reform bill amid opposition  -
Sri Lanka parties in court to stop "gerrymandering" bill  -
Lankan SC hears objections over Electoral Reforms Bill  - PTI

Lankan MPs for sale?
Times of India, august 8. "What is the going rate for an MP?" That, rather than the provisions of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's sweeping reforms proposals, has been the question exercising the minds of the Sri Lankans in the past few days.Political sources confirmed that Rs 20 million was the offer for any opposition lawmaker, who was willing to cross over and vote with the government for the new constitution.Countering the charges of bribery against the government, the state owned Daily News said in a front-page story on Tuesday that the LTTE had sent emissaries to Colombo to offer "large sums of monies amounting to fat fortunes" to any government member who was willing to vote against the bill. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 18:44:53 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Opposition MP cross over to the Government  - Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo
Lanka government tries to buy Opposition MPs  - AsianAge
A constitution via bribes  - SundayLeader

Lanka postpones crucial vote on Constitution Bill
HindustanTimes, AUgust 8. The ruling Peoples' Alliance (PA) itself seemed to have weakened because it was rumoured that popular minister Mahinda Rajapakse was going to vote against the Bill along with seven others. Of the seven recent defectors from the Opposition United National Party (UNP), three had indicated that they would not support the Bill. As for the UNP itself, it had announced its decision to vote against the Bill as the Government had not implemented what it had agreed to in the bi-partisan constitutional talks. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 19:42:28 EDT 2000

Conspiracy theory as vote adjourned
TamilNet, August 8. Two Ministers Sarath Amunugama and Mahinda Wijesekara raising a point of order told Parliament today that there was a conspiracy to prevent Parliamentarians from voting for the Draft Constitution Bill. They informed the Speaker K.B.Ratnayake that some parliamentarians were sent abroad. According to reports, Mr.Dixon Perera who resigned from the Peoples Alliance on Monday, was sent to England Tuesday. Parliamentarians Upali Amarasiri, V.Puthirasignamany, V.G.Gunadasa, Ali Zahir Moulana, U.L.Mohamed, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Ms Rajamanohary Pulendran have been sent to Singapore. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 20:18:10 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka Min: Deputies' Abduction Forced Vote Suspension  - Yahoo

Vote on Constitution Bill delayed
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.20 a.m. SLT Tuesday August 8. The vote on the government's new constitutional reforms will not take place tomorrow Wednesday August 9. Instead, the Government took a decision today to adjourn the parliamentary debate on the new constitutional reforms at the end of the day. Sittings will be adjourned indefinitely. Leader of the House Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe this morning that a vote on the new draft constitution will not take place tomorrow Wednesday, August 9.

Instead, further debate on the issue will be suspended at the end of today's parliamentary debate. The Opposition meanwhile assert that it has been more or less confirmed the government will withdraw the contentious new Bill. As fierce arguments erupted again in Parliament this morning, the government took this decision a day before it expected to pass new reforms on devolution and other constitutional amendements. Ravi Karunanayake UNP MP, told Lacnet that the Government had taken this decision in view of the fact that it lacks adequate numbers to pass the bill tomorrow Wednesday August 9. The government last week was short of 19 votes to pass the new draft when President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge presented the new constitution to Parliament on August 3.

Fierce debates in Parliament which began yesterday erupted into a fight this morning between Opposition and Government benches. Speaker K. B. Ratnayake at around 11.15 a.m. this morning suspended parliamentary sittings as both sides became unruly, during the speech of Mervyn De Silva, PA MP. Sittings were resumed at around 11.45 a.m. when further brick bats were hurled, as members ignored appeals by both Speaker K. B. Ratnayake and Deputy Chairman of Committees Rauf Hakeem to maintain order.
Published: Tue Aug 8 02:40:34 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
Kadirgamar appeals for consensus  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo
Sri Lanka freezes constitutional reforms  - AltaVista
Sri Lanka Constitution Vote Delayed  - AP
Protests mount against new constitution in Sri Lanka  - Virtual New York
Sri Lanka government defers constitutional reforms  - Virtual New York
Crucial measures abandoned in Sri Lanka  - BBC South Asia
Sri Lanka tension mounts as reform vote delayed  -
Sri Lanka tension mounts as reform vote heads for key test  -
Sri Lanka govt postpones crucial reform vote  -
Lanka Parliament debates new Constitution  - Times of India
Sri Lanka debates key reforms  - BBC

South Africa take slender lead
BBC, August 8. South Africa hold a 48-run advantage over Sri Lanka at the end of a rain-affected third day in Colombo. The hosts were finally bowled out for 258, 21 runs short of South Africa's first innings total, before Gary Kirsten and Neil McKenzie increased the tourists' lead without further loss in the eight overs possible in their second innings. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 10:02:06 EDT 2000
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Boje baffles Sri Lanka  - BBC South Asia

Computer Associates Has New CEO
Yahoo-AP, August 8. Computer Associates, based in Islandia, N.Y., has 20,000 employees and more than $6 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31, placing it behind Microsoft and Oracle in the independent software business. Charles Wang, the country's highest-paid executive last year, stepped down Monday as chief executive of Computer Associates International Inc. (NYSE:CA - news), the world's third-largest software company.Wang, who will remain chairman, wants to focus on improving the company's pummeled share price, said chief operating officer Sanjay Kumar, a software developer by education, immigrated from Sri Lanka in 1976. He has been at Computer Associates since 1987. Kumar, who took over as CEO. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 10:50:00 EDT 2000

Army deserters _ Sri Lankan army's big problem
AsiaGateway, Tuesday Aug 8, 08:18:10. PIMBURA, Sri Lanka, Aug 08, 2000 (AP WorldStream via COMTEX) -- Fighting Tamil Tiger rebels isn't the Sri Lankan army's only problem. The 100,000-strong military is struggling to stop its soldiers from deserting the ranks. It's gotten to the point that police have been ordered to search homes for deserters working as domestic help. Security agencies have been told that their licenses will be suspended if they employ deserters. More...
Published: Tue Aug 8 08:15:55 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka Army Deals With Desertion  - AP

Monks vow to keep up death fast in Sri Lanka, August 7. Buddhist monks prayed outside a sacred tree in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo as a young saffron-robed colleague began a death fast forcing the government to withdraw a radical constitution. Monk Hadigalle Wimalasara, 30, lounged on a mattress kept on a make-shift stage on a highway between the main railway and bus stations in the busy commercial area of Pettah. More...
Published: Mon Aug 7 18:55:50 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Monk begins death fast amid Sri Lanka political turmoil  -

Douglas Peiris in remand
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.30 a.m. SLT Tuesday August 8. Former SSP Douglas Peiris, a key figure in the Batalanda torture allegations, after being arrested on arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport last Friday, was produced on Monday August 7, before the Fort Magistrate and remanded for a further five days. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is handling the investigations. Peiris is reported to be wanted by the Batalanda Commission for testimony on incidents of torture. It has been speculated that Peiris was brought back into the country to give evidence against Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe in the now infamous Batalanda case.
Published: Tue Aug 8 02:40:34 EDT 2000

Indians push Tamils to support Chandrika
IndiaAbroad, August 7. Indian diplomats were trying to persuade reluctant Tamil parliamentarians to back President Chandrika Kumaratunga's new constitution, which devolved power to the minorities, reports said on Sunday. "The Indian high commission in Colombo is lobbying with Members of Parliament (MPs) of Tamil parties to vote for the draft constitution," the pro-opposition Sunday Leader newspaper reported. Indian diplomats were not immediately available for comment. More...
Published: Mon Aug 7 12:21:53 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Indian diplomats back Chandrika  - The Asian Age

Blast and defections mark Lanka constitution making
HT, august 8. A GRENADE attack against a prominent anti-devolution Buddhist monk and defections from both the government and the opposition side marked the controversy over the making of a new quasi-federal constitution for Sri Lanka in the last two days. On Sunday, a gang of three Sinhala men tried to set off a blast at a meeting of the Jathika Sangha Sabhawa (National Sangha Council) in Narahenpita, in south Colombo. More...
Published: Mon Aug 7 19:53:24 EDT 2000

'City of Trinco' leaves for Jaffna
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.25 p.m. SLT Monday August 7. The passenger ferry 'MV City of Trinco' sailed from Trincomalee today at around 5 p.m. under the protection of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) transporting civilians to the Jaffna peninsula. A press release from the ICRC said this evening that, in response to a request of the Government of Sri Lanka for the ICRC to protect a vessel for the transportation of civilians to the North of the country, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development of the Northern Region and the ICRC was signed on July 26, 2000 in Colombo.

The vessel clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem and flag, is exclusively meant for the transportation of civilians between Trincomalee and Jaffna. At present, the ports of departure and arrival will be Trincomalee and Point Pedro as agreed upon by the Naval authorities and the ICRC. An ICRC convoyer will always be on board during the voyages and will have overall responsibility on all matters directly related to the protection of the ship.

The ICRC maintains that it has received written security assurances both from the LTTE and the Government for safe passage during the voyages. According to the MOU, military personnel (either in uniform or civvies) are not permitted to travel on the ship. Arms and ammunition on board or escorts by security personnel on board are strictly prohibited and there will be no military escort by the security forces for the ship.

The ICRC states that, the Government through the Ministry of Defence, is fully responsible for providing the necessary clearance to the passengers to travel to and from Jaffna. The Sri Lanka Navy will carry out the relevant security checks of passengers luggage as well as of the ship prior to embarking and disembarking. Since 1989, on invitation by the Government, the ICRC has been active in Sri Lanka in conflict areas, carrying out its traditional humanitarian activities such as the protection of detainees, re-establishing of family ties, providing assistance to the civilian population, dissemination of rules of behaviour in combat and by acting as a neutral intermediary whenever required.
Published: Mon Aug 7 09:59:46 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
Sri Lanka ferry to Jaffna resumed  - BBC South Asia
Red Cross begins mercy ferry service in Sri Lanka  -

Ruling party MP defects to Opposition
Buddhist monk begin a hunger strike to protest against the plan to modify the Constitution.(Reuters)
The Asian Age, August 7. he Sri Lankan Parliament resumed debate on the controversial constitutional bill on Monday amid a surprise defection of a ruling party’s legislator to the Opposition. As the house began discussions on the bill which seeks to turn the country into a de facto federal state, legislator Dixon J. Perera of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party from Colombo, switched sides and sat with the Opposition United National Party. He ironically sat in the same chair earlier occupied by senior UNP leader, Ronnie De Mel, who had crossed over to the government side on August 3, the day the bill was tabled in the House by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. So far, about seven UNP MPs have defected the ruling Peoples Alliance since November last year. More...
Published: Mon Aug 7 17:39:32 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
MPs cross over as Lankan Parliament debates Constitution bil  - PTI
Sri Lanka monks begin indefinite fast, reform bill suffers defection  - 123India
Sri Lanka's ruling party suffers first defection ahead of key vote  -
Ruling Party MP defects ahead of key Sri Lanka vote  -
PA politico crosses over to UNP  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo

Sri Lanka opposition seeks talks with monks, Tigers, Monday, 7 August. Sri Lanka's main opposition Monday called for talks with influential Buddhist monks and Tamil separatists before voting on a bill to turn the country into a federal state. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament his bipartisan talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance could be improved by taking the monks and the rebels onboard.Wickremesinghe said his United National Party (UNP) which holds the balance of power in parliament to make or break reforms will not vote for Kumaratunga's draft bill that is to be put to a vote Wednesday."If the people are kept in the dark about constitutional changes, if their basic rights are curtailed, for whose benefit are we passing this constitution," Wickremesinghe asked. He said agreements reached during talks between his party and Kumaratunga's PA between March 9 and July 7 had not been fully incorporated the draft bill presented in the assembly last week.The former premier Wickremesinghe called for a broader consensus involving the country's influential Buddhist clergy and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).Both the Tigers and the monks have rejected the peace plan, but for different reasons.The monks say too much is offered in the political package that seeks to grant greater autonomy to minority Tamils in exchange for ethnic peace, while the Tigers say too little is being given. More...
Published: Mon Aug 7 06:32:57 EDT 2000

UNP says it cannot support constitutional reforms and walk out of Parliament
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1505 07 August 2000. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe told parliament today that the government has gone back on agreements reached at three months of talks and the UNP therefore would not support the Constitutional reforms. He however appealed to the government to continue to discussions to arrive at a consensus on a political solution to the ethnic problem. After his brief address UNP parliamentarians walked out of parliament saying they would not take part in the debate. The UNP is also expected to abstain from voting
Published: Mon Aug 7 05:14:54 EDT 2000

Inductions and Sri Lankan military transfers.
Roy Denish in Colombo, SLT. 13: 17 Monday.. When the stranger arrived at George R de Silva mawatha, a tree-lined highway in the highly-guarded Kotahena famous for toddy taverns, the authorities paid scant attention to him or his beedi.

The middle aged moustached 25-year-old checked into a rundown lodge in the guise of a businessman. He was small, bald and a chain smoker. At the lodge he mingled frequently with others, gossiping about the killings and other atrocities carried out by government troops.

He was convincing and his speech convinced. But in the evenings he disappeared and often arrived at the lodge late at nights in a three-wheeler. One day he appeared drunk and the lodge owner fearing trouble that his lucrative trade might suffer threatened to have him thrown out. He apologised but his curious routine never stopped.

His disappearances gave rise to the impression that he was meeting old friends at the tavern. But little did the owner know that his enigmatic tenant was holding discussions with his comrades in Colombo and was in the midst of drawing up a blue-print to mount assaults on Colombo harbour.

But the man however had a weakness. After his midnight rendezvous he was seeing a cheap, drunken hooker. She was faithful since he poured in a lot of money for her benefit. The man never did dream that the relationship with the hooker would be his undoing.

The police were sweeping the north Colombo range for hookers on July 25. One of them netted were the mistress of the man. For police nothing appeared unusual in the woman except the jewellery that was wearing. Suspicious, police begun to grill (the grill was not with sweet sauce!). The woman squealed. She admitted to having a midnight rendezvous with a man living in a lodge and he always spoke in support of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

But the police did not proceed to arrest the man on the confession. They only detailed someone to shadow him. On July 14 the man gave the police the slip amidst the shoppers at Pettah. But at dawn on July 15 he appeared from somewhere at gates of the lodge. Policemen lying in ambush pounced and handcuffed him and took him to an undisclosed destination after blindfolding him.

At the undisclosed destination surrounded by plain-clothed policemen and some military officers, he appeared serene and calm. Policemen and military men carefully scrutinized the man's identification papers, but his face and the photograph on the national identity card did not match.

The policemen with the assistance of the terrorist investigations department and national intelligence bureau sleuths begun the rigorous grilling sessions. The man began to spill the beans. The Sunday Leader in the national interest will identify the man only Kugadas, a native of eastern Batticaloa.

Kugadas is a member of the LTTE's spy wing, that comes under the direct purview of Pottu Amman -- the most wanted terrorist by the Indian and Sri Lankan governments for engineering the assassination of former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Kugadas joined the LTTE in 1995. He participated in the attacks of Mankulam, Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass and counter-operations against troops who were involved in operation Rivi Rasa (Sun Rays).

Kugadas had arrived in Colombo on his final mission on July 13 after tampering with someone's identity card. He was dispatched to Colombo by a person named Kroner (Kroner's actual name has been withheld by The Sunday Leader in the national interest). Kugadas said his mission was to observe the security arrangements at the oil-refinery at Modera. But that is not all: He had also been detailed to carryout a thorough observation of the Colombo harbour.

His mission was to observe the security arrangements at both these strategic points and report his observation to the LTTE ring leaders in Colombo. He had been asked to write his observations in small piece of paper and drop off them near shops to be picked by the them. To identify the notes, a piece of brick to be kept of them.

Following the detection and during a high level security council meeting at the Colombo army and navy headquarters, a decision was made to intensify the security at the Colombo port and Modera oil-refinery and also post armed policemen on the "edges" of Galle face. The primary duty of the policemen and women is to observe for any suspicious movements of motor boats attempting to beach in the area.

With threats looming the Sri Lankan navy refused permission for fisher folk of Wattala to fish at Galle Face. The highly agitated fishermen protesting over the red tape demonstrated one day and demanding the navy to allow them to fish at Galle face. But when the stern navy officers refused, the furious fishermen took their tale of woe to John Amaratunge, an opposition party parliamentarian. But discussions on the matter were put-off to find an alternative area for Wattala fisher folk to fish.

The issue of the fisher folk's grievances was not the topic echoing in the corridors of the Sri Lankan navy headquarters at fort, but the recent changes and scrapping of the post of Senior Naval Officer Commanding Northern Area (SNOCNOR). The post was held by Rear admiral L.R.Amraweera. The post was created by the navy commander Vice Admiral Cecil Tissera after the country suffered the worst ever reversal in the hands of the LTTE, when the cadres of the movement walked into the country's highly guarded Elephant Pass complex on April 26 this year signalling the Tigers were gearing to knockout the 40,000 odd troops stationed in northern Jaffna peninsula.

Amraweera, a sailor par excellence was sent to the north after Tissera created the post especially to match the overall commander's post (OOC) created by the Sri Lankan army. The post was handed over to Major General Janka Perera, after government removed Major General Sarath Fonseka as the northern Security Forces Commander (SFC). (see below for the inside story of transfers. Last week, when this newspaper requested permission from the information ministry to spell out the reasons for their transfer, this newspaper was told not to carry it, since it would create divisions within the army. However the public was made aware of the details of this matter in another newspaper).

For Tissera, dispatching a rear admiral was the only solution to north to match Janaka Perera. But for Amraweera's bad luck two Super Dvoras gunboats went down while attempting to cross the northeastern seas. One was sunk by a LTTE missile and the other one was sunk by the Sri lankan air force accidentally. The navy ship was attacked by a SLAF ground attack aircraft was, apparently, piloted by a "westerner". The air force apologized to the SLN for the mishap, but the kith and kin of those officers who perished with the ship are demanding compensation from the defence ministry.

Tissera, after scrapping the post of SNOCNOR, detailed Rear Admiral Amraweera to take up the post as the director, naval administration and to fill the vacuum created by the departing Amaraweera detailed Rear Admiral D.N.Karanagoda to north. But the post was not as SNOCNOR, but as naval Commander-North (Com-North).

Karanagaoda had returned to country after undergoing an year's training at the National Defence College (NDC) in India. Commodore S.P Weerasekera who acted as Amaraweera's deputy during his tenure in north, was transferred to a "desk job" at the navy headquarters at Flag Post avenue as director, naval welfare (DNW). Ttransfer 'demotion' of both these officers has caused a minor earthquake in the navy and it yet to be seen what else Cecil Tissera has up his sleeve to "satisfy" the navy other than posting Karanagoda as Com-North.

Amidst these developments, the navy has also come under severe criticism for acquiring the services of three retired air force pilots to fly two helicopters. A former SLAF wing commander, Sunil Cabral has been brought back as the squadron leader to command the navy's dust-off wing and he will be assisted by Romesh Mendis (a former pilot attached to Sri Lankan airlines formerly known as Air Lanka) and Ranjith Yapa, a former flying officer of the SLAF MI-24 helicopter squadron.

Military observers say that the helicopters based on board ships are specially inducted to carry out quick destroy missions on LTTE targets in the Mullaitivu area and protect the naval and other commercial ships plying between Trincomalee and northern Jaffna port, Kankesanthurai.

While the navy inducted its newest 'toy', the SLAF took possession of the Mig-27 fighter jets from the Ukraine last week. The single seater jets twice as fast as sound are piloted by four 'foreigners' (The Sunday Leader withholds the origin of the foreign pilots due to the censorship). The pilots are paid according to their number of flying hours and the missions carried out on LTTE targets will be on "sortie" basis. The Floggers-J type fitted with 23mm guns and a sophisticated missile delivery system has the capabilities of reaching northern Jaffna peninsula within seven minutes of take-off.

Addition to the induction of the Floggers-J the SLAF is also expected to get another four ground attack aircraft and ten Mike Alphas (Mi-24) helicopter gun ships. These purchases are being made following a advise received a from foreign military experts who had claimed that only way of eradicating the terrorist menace is by "smoking out" the Tango-Four base of Parbhakarn in the Mullaitivu jungles with American built Apache type helicopters. Apaches were used by American forces during the Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf. However the Sri Lanka government did not go in for Apaches, because they were too expensive.

Against the back drop of the new equipment received by the armed forces, the failure of two senior officers to see eye-to-eye during their tenure as Overall Operations Commander (OOC) and security forces commander north respectively, has been reverberating along the corridors of the army headquarters and insiders say the issue will continue even after the incumbent army commander Lieutenant General Sri Lal Weerassoriya steps down from his post. There are signals that Weerassoriya will be asked to retire before December 31 and posted as High Commissioner in Pakistan.

Majors General Janaka Perera and Sarath Fonskea were transferred from their posts also due to an unauthorized operation ordered to be carried out by Sarath Fonseka against Tiger rebels in Thanankillapu, an area located on the axis of A9 highway, a highway dubbed as "highway of hell".

Soon after the operation carried by troops loyal to Fonseka, strong protests were lodged to the army commander. Weerassoriya, astonished, requested Perera to ask for an explanation from Fonseka in writing, but Fonseka refused. As tensions grew between both of them, army commander during a meeting with president Chandrika Kumaratunga briefed her on the issue. Kumaratunga ordered Weerasooriya to summon both officers to the army headquarters on July 13 to patch-up the matters.

Weerasooriya held discussions with both officers for two hours and urged them to "forget their differences" and work together. But both battle-hardened men refused and admancy of both men prompted president to send two letters demanding them to relinquish their duties.

Now, with these developments within the army and present political crisis in the country, the next few weeks or months will be very crucial for the country especially when intelligence wings have warned that large scale offensives are expected from the LTTE.

If the present political climate prolongs, it is definite the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran will use the situation for his advantage to mount attacks on the government forces. And the government will not be left with any option but of fighting the war to a finish if the proposed constitutional reforms are rejected by the people.

Box Story.

Navy's chief of-staff Daya Sandagiri and Eastern naval commander T.G.Sundaram, both had been served with a letter of termination. Both had been asked to terminate their services on December 31 this year. The letters have been sent through commander Cecil Tissera and copies to the ministry of defence.

Off the Lines.

An Investigation had been launched at the school of artillery after media reports said that two Tiger rebels have had lunched in the officers' mess with the connivance of foot soldiers guarding the third perimeter defence lines.

Preparations are being made at an army cantonment in the outskirts of Colombo to intensify the security, after intelligence warned of the possible presence of some LTTE suicide cadres in the area. The reason is not that the cantonment would be attacked, but because newly purchased military armament supposed to be strewn in the front yard of the cantonment in full view of the public.
Published: Mon Aug 7 03:28:41 EDT 2000

Parliament begin debate on new constitutional reform amidst growing protests.
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1115 SLT 07 August 2000. The Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress A.H.M. Ashraff open the debate in parliament this morning on the new constitutional reforms. The debate is been covered live on national television.The Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe is scheduled to make a statement to parliament and then the party would stage a walk out. The three days debate began amidst growing opposition to the reforms. Thousands of buddhist monks are due hold a sathyagrha opposite the Dalada Maligawa this afternoon and another demonstrations is due to be held in Colombo tuesday morning. The JVP which held a demonstration outside Supreme Court this mon ring to protest against the new electoral reforms is scheduled to hold another demonstration in Fort this afternoon. end
Published: Mon Aug 7 01:26:51 EDT 2000
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