The Lanka Academic

 
JANUARY 29, 2001 EST, USA
 
A NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY LACNET
 
VOL. 1, NO. 298
 

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Sri Lanka president calls for date for peace talks
Yahoo India, January 28. COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's president called on Sunday for a definite date to begin peace talks with Tamil separatist rebels but said there would be no ceasefire until the two sides reached a lasting agreement on ending the ethnic war. "The (government) offensives will continue through the talks and will stop only if a solution is reached that is acceptable to everyone. There will be no ceasefire," President Chandrika Kumaratunga sai in a television interview. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 16:15:39 EST 2001

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
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Tigers refuse to sign Norwegian peace deal
IT, january 28. Norway's bid to broker peace in Sri Lanka suffered a setback with the separatists refusing to accept a pre-talks deal citing Colombo's indifference to opening negotiations.The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has told Norwegian special envoy Erik Solheim that it cannot sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was to have paved the way for negotiations, the Sunday Leader newspaper reported. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 20:03:28 EST 2001
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'No way for MOU now,' Tigers tell Norway  - Sunday Leader

Chandrika condoles
The Hindu (International), Monday, January 29, 2001. COLOMBO, JAN. 28. The Sri Lankan President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, has offered her condolences at the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake that hit Gujarat last week. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the President said she was ``deeply saddened and profoundly shocked'' to learn of the heavy death toll and destruction. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 16:10:52 EST 2001

Inside story of attempted "weapons blockade"
Island, 29 January 2001. The Sri Lankan military and the Prague headquartered armaments firm MPi that promptly responded to Lanka’s call for emergency weapons supplies last year, believe that a certain interested party made a determined bid to block the supplies. "If they succeeded, the LTTE would have captured the entire Jaffna peninsula," an authoritative official said last week stressing that LTTE sympathisers did their best to prevent the army from deploying these weapons in the Jaffna theatre in time to prevent the LTTE advance on the town.These attempts came to light during last week’s visits to Colombo by two top level Czechoslovakian defence delegations that explored ways and means of further improving relations between the two countries.When the peninsula was about to fall to the LTTE in April-May, MPi has offered to help the Sri Lankan forces. The MPi promptly offered a certain number of powerful GRAD RM 70 Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher [MBRL] vehicles free if Sri Lanka purchased expensive rockets for these mobile "weapons systems" from them. But trouble erupted after they made arrangements to airlift these MBRLs in chartered aircraft. The first aircraft that left a Czech airport carrying two MBRLs disappeared for several days. It was later observed at an airport in a former Soviet republic. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 23:22:18 EST 2001

Tamil gang target Canadian cop
Bandula Jayasekara in Colombo, Vancouver Time 4.30 p.m Saturday 27. by Bandula Jayasekara in Vancouver: A Toronto police detective is under protection after his life has was threatned by a suspected Tamil gang, Toronto Sun reported recently. It said that the name of the officer was spraypainted on a wall of his Finch Ave, E, station with the number 187 beside it. 187 is the California penal code number for death.

The officer's new Nissan truck which was stolen from a parking lot last Saturday night had been found gutted and torched in Scarborough lot. The report also said in November a, Tamil gang member was caught videotaping the license plates of officers' personal cars and another was found tailing an officer driving home.

Meanwhile a group of Sri Lankans living in Toronto has commended the Toronto Star for the news story and warned that the Canadian government must take immediate action to prevent events of this nature.
Published: Sat Jan 27 19:29:22 EST 2001


Rupee to stabilise this week
Sunday observer, Sunday, 28 january. The Central Bank is closely monitoring the country's foreign exchange markets in the wake of the Rupee float last week and will use all its considerable powers to ensure market stability at reasonable levels, Bank Governor A.S. Jayawardena told the Sunday Observer. The US Dollar-Rupee exchange rate, which declined in value to Rs. 99 per dollar at one point on Thursday last, will stabilise this week at below the Rs. 90 level, the Governor predicted. The Central Bank Governor was commenting on the week's currency market performance following the devaluation of the Rupee and the action by the bank on Tuesday to float the national currency in the exchange markets. After the announcement of the float last Tuesday, the Rupee dipped in value from about Rs. 85 per US Dollar (telegraphic transfer selling rate) at the beginning of the week to Rs. 86 on Tuesday, and Rs. 90 on Wednesday, before sliding to Rs. 97 on Thursday. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 13:30:21 EST 2001
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Sri Lanka in a daze as rupee slides  - The Hindu NUS

Lankan asylum seekers second in UK queue
Sunday observer, Sunday, 28 january. Sri Lankans were only second to Iraqis in the asylum seeking queues in the UK, British media said yesterday. Britain has recorded the highest number of asylum seekers last year with a seven percent increase compared to figures of 1999. An unprecedented number of 76,040 asylum seekers had been recorded last year in the UK of which 6,040 were Sri Lankans. The London Times and several other leading newspapers and Channel 4 TV news highlighted the huge influx of asylum seekers into the country which led Immigration Minister Barbara Roche to disclose official figures elaborating the current status of the issue. Iran, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan followed Sri Lanka, among the top five. Even the number of Sri Lankan asylum seekers has gone up by 18 per cent. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 13:31:55 EST 2001

Troops on the road to elephant pass
The Sunday Times , sunday 28, 2001 8:27 am pst . The ground on the out skirts of Chavakachcheri, now a ghost town, shook every few seconds as the burst of artillery shells at forenoon, last Tuesday, continued. Just a couple of kilometres away, security forces were directing artillery fire at Tiger guerrilla positions. In return, they were also drawing counter fire. It came from areas north of Pallai, an area with lush coconut plantations, located on the isthmus that links Jaffna peninsula with the mainland. It lies further north of Elephant Pass More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 11:36:00 EST 2001

Lanka bank on Murali magic against Poms
Yahoo India, 29 January 2001. Sri Lanka are hoping master off-spinner Mutiah Muralitharan, who has tormented England in the past, will be able to showcase his talents during the visitors eagerly anticipated tour which begins Wednesday.``He has done them in their own backyard. I'm sure Murali will be quietly confident,'' said Chandrishan Perera, spokesman for the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, referring to Muralitharan's 16-wicket haul at the Oval in 1998.Sri Lanka, expected to return from a One-Day series in New Zealand on February 12 to prepare for the three-Test series against England, will look to take advantage of the comforts of home after being mauled on a South African tour late last year. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 17:59:47 EST 2001
Related News Stories
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Photo: Cricket-Sri Lanka hope Muralitharan can put England in a spin  - Yahoo India
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Cricket-Sri Lanka hope Muralitharan can put England in a spin  - Yahoo India

Peace bid suffers blows in Sri Lanka
The Hindu NUS, 20.00 hrs (IST) on January 28, 2001. Colombo, Jan. 28. (Reuters): Norway's attempts to broker peace in Sri Lanka has suffered another setback with the two antagonists rejecting a preliminary deal ahead of peace talks, a press report here said today. The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) refused to sign a Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) on a ``staggered and a reciprocal de-escalation'' proposed by Norway, the privately-run Sunday Leader said. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 10:29:10 EST 2001
Related News Stories
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Sri Lankan president raises peace hopes with Norway bid  - 123India.com
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Oslo peace bid suffers more blows in Sri Lanka  - 123India.com

Successful Offensive Leaves Sri Lanka Military Optimistic
Yahoo India, Sunday January 28, 9:43 AM. At the capital's only military airport, soldiers bound for the Tamil city of Jaffna, the center of Sri Lanka's war zone, are singing again.Many are telling jokes, sharing coconut candy and happily talking about surfing the Internet during their overnight stay at a military transit camp. In short, the gloom of the past is gone, at least for now.Better weapons, including advanced bombers such as MiG-27s, and the realization that the Tamil separatists aren't invincible after all, have led this small tropical island's 120,000 soldiers to fight the rebels like never before.About 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from Colombo's Ratmalana military airport, sitting in his mahogany-paneled room decorated with casings of spent bombs and bullets, Sri Lanka's top three-star general conducts the military operation. "Our firepower and air raids are telling on them, and this is one of the reasons that they are trying to behave like good boys and offering a cease-fire," Gen. Lionel Balagalle said. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 01:32:09 EST 2001

Rs. 12 b. Japanese loan to upgrade Colombo airport
The Sunday Times , sunday 28, 2001 8:27 am pst . The Bandaranaike International Airport will soon get a face lift to the tune of Rs. 12 billion, of which 90% will be provided by the Japanese Government as a soft loan, said Minister of Aviation and Airports Development, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. He said that the project will be in two parts, of which the first is the construction of a 300 metre pier with eight bridges to facilitate the movement of passengers and the second the expansion of the terminal gallery. Both will commence simultaneously. In addition to this major revamping the Minister said it is planned to introduce information centres for Middle East returnees, free telephone calls within city limits and announcements in Japanese, German and French to cater to the large number of tourists arriving from those countries. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 11:31:30 EST 2001

Satellites to bridge digital divide in developing nations
123India.com, Jan 28 2001 10:57 IST. KOTHMALE, Sri Lanka, Jan 28 (AFP) - Broadcasters from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean ended a seminar on bridging the digital divide by winning technical support for their community efforts, organisers said Sunday. A US non-governmental agency, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), agreed to allocate ground stations on a priority basis to UNESCO-supported networks of community radios, the seminar organisers said.They said VITA will provide these community radio stations with earth stations to exchange up to 50 pages of information a day via low-orbiting satellites. The cost of the project was not immediately known. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 01:24:04 EST 2001

Pakistan's army chief to visit Sri Lanka
123India.com, Jan 28 2001 09:46 IST. COLOMBO, Jan 28 (AFP) - Pakistan's army chief of staff, Muhammad Yusuf Khan, is due to arrive here Monday on an official visit, the defence ministry here said Sunday. The visiting military chief is expected to be accorded a guard of honour by the Sri Lankan army on Monday, the ministry said. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 01:25:06 EST 2001

Lanka slams censorship of military news
Times of India (Breaking News), 27 January 2001 . A state-appointed commission has slammed the ongoing censorship of military news in this war-torn country, saying that the law should not block the media from raising issues of public accountability in the name of national security, an official said on Saturday.The Human Rights Commission also criticized the screening of military news by an individual picked by the government, but has not called for abolishing censorship, Chairman Faiz Mustapha told The Associated Press.In a report presented to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the HRC recommended replacing the current screening authority with a censorship panel that includes a senior journalist as well as a person with military experience. More...
Published: Sat Jan 27 06:25:28 EST 2001

Economy in a crisis due to massive military expenditure
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.50 a.m. SLT Saturday January 27. The National Peace Council in a media statement issued today says that this weekšs devaluation and free float of the rupee is a symptom of the grave economic crisis that the country faces, largely due to the huge military expenditures. The history of the military conflict between the government and LTTE has been a cyclical one of ups and downs in the fortunes of the two sides. This pattern is likely to reassert itself unless decisive action is taken to break the cycle. In this context, the LTTEšs extension of its unilateral one month ceasefire by another month has come as a welcome surprise. This renewed ceasefire offers a significant opportunity to break out of the vicious cycle of protracted war.

Even in the absence of a positive response from the government, the month-long period of ceasefire permitted general conditions of peace and tranquility to exist outside of the Jaffna peninsula. Further, in different parts of the north-east, there were large gatherings of people in favour of the ceasefire. Such a political mobilisation of people can become a substitute for militant violence.

The National Peace Council believes that the LTTEšs unilateral ceasefire, no matter what its motivation, offers an opportunity to channel the ethnic conflict into the political arena and away from the military one. In the absence of a positive reciprocal move by the government, it is likely that the confidence of the people and the international community in a negotiated solution will be seriously eroded. This will have adverse consequences to the country and the people, including accentuating the economic downturn. We call on the government to positively reciprocate the LTTEšs ceasefire extension and to create the climate in which a peoplešs movement for ceasefire and a political solution will grow.
Published: Sat Jan 27 13:25:26 EST 2001


Student alleges discrimination
Sunday Leader, 28 January 2001. S.Arunprasath, from the Kotagala Tamil Maha Vidyalayam has written to the ministry of education stating her displeasure at the selections made of children visiting Japan on the invitation of that government." I am a student of the Kotagala TMV. On obtaining 184 marks at the grade five scholarship examination, I was placed second in the Tamil medium. Had I got one additional mark I would come first."I have been made to understand that there is an opportunity to give the top eight students to tour Japan. With this desire I studied hard. I must mention that I have obtained the highest marks from the Indian Tamil community. I sincerely believed that I would be given the opportunity of visiting Japan. But I learned that a girl from my neighborhood school was selected, but she has obtained 13 marks less than me."This has caused me much sadness and pain. I find it very difficult to accept this decision. I beg of you to intervene on my behalf and see that this matter is sorted out justifiably." More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 01:54:54 EST 2001

Lankan Police seek the help of Interpol to track down criminals
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.10 a.m. SLT Saturday January 27. Local police are to seek the assistance of Interpol to track down some 150 underworld thugs who have fled the country after having committed acts of murder, arson, gun smuggling and illegal drugs deals.

The criminals had fled to Europe and the Middle East when warrants were issued for their arrest. The police say they are also looking for a leading gangster by the pseudo name of 'Malu Nihal' who is wanted in Sri Lanka for leading a Mafia style ring of underworld criminals. 'Malu Nihal' recently gave an interview to a newspaper from a hidden abode in Europe, boasting of his exploits in Sri Lanka.

The police maintain that corrupt politicians in Sri Lanka have helped the gangsters to escape local police and have faciliated their trips abroad.
Published: Sat Jan 27 13:25:27 EST 2001


CEB in the red
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.55 a.m. SLT Saturday January 27. A Herculean crisis is brewing at the Ceylon Electricity Board as its faces bankruptcy carrying an overdraft at the Peoples Bank of rupees three thousand eight hundred and fifty million. A recent budgetary report by the Finance Manager of the CEB points out that by the end of this year the CEB will be in debt for the colossal sum of Rs. 18 billion.

The reasons for the near crash of the CEB are varied. Disgusted employees who are forced to remain anonymous as they may suffer harassment if identified say that a terrific lack of commitment by top managers, huge misappropriation of funds and mismanagement of the entire CEB has resulted in this sorry situation.

A tender valued at over 9 billion rupees and awarded to a Japanese firm by the CEB, received 20 percent to begin construction instead of the stipulated 10% in the contractual agreement approved by a Cabinet Appointed Tender Board. The twenty percent draw-down payment was made by the CEB to begin work on the gas turbine project at Kelanitissa. The Ministry of Power & Energy has already lodged a complaint with the government Treasury, stating that tender stipulations have been violated and a fraud committed. A top man at the CEB pointed out that it is this kind of fraudulent deal, that has sunk the CEB into depths in which it cannot swim let alone float.

For the last one year the CEB has been paying a Dutch owned firm 'Aggriekko' 95,000/-(ninety five thousand) sterling pounds per week (over eleven million rupees per week) as rental for the use of emergency generators. This payment is made after the CEB has supplied the fuel, and other lubricants for the running of these machines.

The CEB is also paying 'Aggriekko' Rs. 12.50 per unit of electricity generated from the emergency generators. The CEB in turn is forced to sell electricity to the consumers at Rs. 4.60 per unit. The domestic sector is even less and sold at Rs. 3 per unit. The domestic sector accounts for one third of the CEB consumer sector.

In this context, taking into account the millions of units bought by the CEB and the payments made to most of these private generators they are in the red for approximately over rupees one thousand two hundred million every month and the figures are growing. This does not include the 40 additional megawatts negotiated by the CEB last week which they are buying to meet the present power crisis.

Poor public relations and a massive lack of commitment both political and managerial has resulted in the CEB not being successful in pushing forward a coal power plant project which is deemed absolutely essential for the country. In fact the former Chief Engineer Planning for the CEB, Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya pointed out that if a coal power plant is not in place by the year 2005, the CEB will crash.

Needless to say, if the CEB does crash, it will bring down with it not only the government, but, the entire nation not to mention an already staggering economy. The stark and frightening reality right now is that the CEB is teetering dangerously on a red line that cannot be brushed aside or ignored.

If coal is not used an alternative to fuel electricity plants, Dr. Siyambalapitiya has predicted that the price of electricity per unit will cost Rs. 9/- three years from now, plus with the depreciation of the rupee double the cost per unit, to the consumer.

Dr. Susantha Perera, President of the CEB Engineers Union, said that a lack of direction and planning both political and managerial, to ensure the coal power plant was built has resulted in this present crisis.

The powerful Bishop of Chilaw, Dr. Frank Marcus Fernando was instrumental in influencing President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge to stop the construction of a coal power plant at Norochcholai in the Chilaw district. He lobbied the President hard weeks before the presidential election in 1999, and she bowed to the wishes of the angry Bishop who maintains that a coal power plant at Norochcholai will casue a serious security threat to the area and endanger the freedom of pilgrims visiting the centuries old St. Anne's shrine at Thalawila, situated 9 kilometeres away from the chosen site for the plant.

The Bishop's position caused an almighty row with officials at the CEB including the top management. The Chairman of the CEB, Arjun Deraniyagala now maintains that it is up to the President to take a decision and decide if indeed the present crisis situation in the country is worthy of the coal power plant being built at Norochcholai.

The Japanese government has already spent 800 million rupees which was released as a soft loan to the government of Sri Lanka to conduct a feasibility study at Norochcholai.
Published: Sat Jan 27 13:25:27 EST 2001


Sri Lankan doctor wins research award in USA
The Island , Saturday 27, 2001 7:16 pm pst. Sri Lankan doctor wins research award in USA Dr. Tarique Perera, a resident at Columbia Hospital, New York has received the American Psychiatric Association Award for research. This prestigious award is presented each year by the American Psychiatric Association to only one researcher and was awarded to Dr. Perera for his research on changes in brain neurons which occur during depression and stress. more... If his ideas are successful doctors will be better able to study the tangible changes that occur during emotions and feelings which is an appropriate milestone to have achieved during this decade of the mind. Brain research today is, one could say, at the same point at which Einstein’s nuclear physics was during the beginning of the last century. This is the second prestigious award won by Columbia University Hospital recently where they also claimed a Nobel Prize for work that showed how the mind forms memories. More...
Published: Sat Jan 27 22:12:40 EST 2001

Quake toll 'now 15,000'
BBC, Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 19:28 GMT . The extent of the damage to those areas of western India that were near the epicentre of Friday's huge earthquake is now becoming clear.The BBC's South Asia correspondent, Mike Wooldridge, says the old centre of the city of Bhuj, which housed 60,000 people, is now a ghost town of collapsed buildings and rubble.Indian officials say that across western and central Gujarat, up to 15,000 people are feared to have died - 5,000 of them in the old centre of Bhuj. More...
Published: Sat Jan 27 16:13:37 EST 2001
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India's rare but deadly quake may yield clues for United States  - San Jose Mercury News
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5000 die in Indian earthquake  - Age

Sri Lanka v North Island Selection scoreboard
Yahoo India, 29 January 2001. Scoreboard for the one-day match between a North Island Selection and the touring Sri Lankans in New Plymouth on Sunday.North Island Selection XI : for eight wickets, 50 overs 276:Sri Lanka:nine wickets, 46.4 overs 248 More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 18:05:59 EST 2001

ILO concern over `digital divide' in employment
Yahoo India, Saturday January 27, 12:00 AM. THE information and communications technology (ICT) revolution is widening the global ``digital divide'' between those with access and those without, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).The importance of helping developing countries to bridge the digital divide has long been stressed by the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, who has launched a number of initiatives to reach this goal. In a message to a seminar in Sri Lanka sponsored by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Mr Annan emphasised that ``information technologies can give developing countries the chance to leapfrog some of the long and painful stages of development that other countries have had to go through. More...
Published: Sat Jan 27 06:30:10 EST 2001

Pitched battle
Yahoo India, Sunday January 28, . By Dilip Vengsarkar:THE Board officials either do not want to learn from their past mistakes or they care two hoots for the game.The reason why one feels so is because despite appointing a pitch improvement committee a couple of seasons ago, the wickets on which the country’s premier tournament was played were flat, devoid of any bounce and definitely detrimental to the improvement of the game. The international series between Sri Lanka and South Africa turned out to be a one-sided affair. I had expected a better fight from the Lankans but their main batsmen failed to deliver against some top class fast bowling by the Proteas.Though the Lankan bowlers bowled with tenacity, their batsmen didn’t have it in them to put up a fight. Poor Aravinda de Silva was dragged from home after he was dropped at the beginning of the tour. When the tour selection committee found itself short of experience, he was sent in and that too without practice.At Aravinda’s age, either he plays regularly or he doesn’t. He cannot afford to take time off or be dropped from the team. Because it becomes physically difficult to get going straightaway. The mind and body co-ordination takes time to get into a groove and, in addition, dwindling eyesight makes it difficult for a batsman to set the stands on fire from the first innings itself. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 01:40:45 EST 2001

Money makes the Pak cricketers crib
Yahoo India, 29 January 2001. Islamabad: A fresh row over distribution of money between coach Javed Miandad and rest of the players of Pakistan team has erupted over a reported payment of Rs. 1.7 million to Miandad in a Pepsi logo deal. While the players earned an average of Rs. 1.5 million each from the logo money, Miandad who wore the logo only in the dressing room took more money than the players, the Dawn reported here today citing allegations by some disgruntled cricketres. Miandad, however, claims he received only Rs. 1.2 million. An ugly row over prize money came to fore during the team’s Kenya tour last year when Miandad was paid from ICC knock-out tournament. More...
Published: Sun Jan 28 18:02:06 EST 2001

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