The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 309

T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
UNP march a huge success
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.30 p.m. SLT Friday February 9. 'Jana Bala Meheyuma' launched by the United National Party a week ago in Kandy reached Colombo today drawing unprecedented crowds. The walk which was organized to protest against the rising cost of living, the floating of the rupee and bad governance drew a crowd of over 100,000 people when it ended in Colombo this evening.

Led by opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, the walk ended with a meeting at the Town Hall where Ranil and other party stalwarts including some new faces addressed the large gathering.

The walk in fact has rejuvenated the flagging spirit of the UNP, so much so that Ranil today announced the UNP would now work towards organizing and island wide 'Hartal' to protest againt price hikes of essential commodities. The 'Hartal' will take place in March this year to coincide with the presentation of the PA budget 2001.

The PA meanwhile are beset with problems not just with the success of the UNP walk but also the fact that the Central Bank has predicted that Sri Lanka's GDP will reach 8.5% this year. The country's defence expenditure has also risen to some 63 billion rupees.

Meanwhile the 'Sihala Urumaya' also began a campaign today to collect one millioin signatures calling for Britain to ban the LTTE. Thilak Karunaratne, leader of the party says that the letter once signed will be handed over to the British High Commissioner in Colombo.
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:15:16 EST 2001

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is a semi-autonomous body at the apex of the financial sector in Sri Lanka today. The objectives of the Central Bank include the stabilization of domestic monetary values and the preservation of the external stability of the Sri Lankan Rupee. It is the advisor to the Government of Sri Lanka on economic affairs and it is responsible for the implementation of Exchange Control Regulations. On January 23rd, 2001, the Central Bank permitted flee float rates for the Sri Lanka Rupee, leading to a massive 6.62% overnight depreciation of its value. The UNP is seeking the mediation of the Court of Appeal to quash this controversial decision. With this backdrop, we invited the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. A. S. Jayawardene to be the guest at our current Question and Answer session. Submit your questions for Mr. Jayawardene between February 5-19, 2001, and check answers here.
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Sri Lanka price protest
BBC South Asia, Friday, 9 February, 2001, 13:01 GMT . More than 10,000 people have marched through the Sri Lankan capital in protest at rising prices. The rally wound up a five-day march from the hill town of Kandy, organised by the opposition United National Party (UNP).The UNP has demanded the resignation of President Chandrika Kumuratunga since the Central Bank effectively devalued the rupee last month, causing dramatic rises in the price of basic necessities. UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe led the peaceful march through Colombo's streets, lined by hundreds of troops and police. Four elephants - the UNP's election symbol - led Friday's march on Colombo's town hall, followed by brightly coloured floats depicting the economic suffering of farmers. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 09:18:33 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Huge opposition march enters Sri Lankan capital  - Yahoo India
Sri Lanka opposition stage protest march to capital  -

Opposition demands Chandrika's resignation
The Hindu NUS, 22.30 hrs (IST) on February 9, 2001. An estimated 1,00,000 people took to the streets in Colombo today for a rally denouncing the Government and demanding President Chandrika Kumaratunga's resignation. The Opposition United National Party (UNP) organised the rally, one of the largest crowds seen in Colombo in recent years, to protest the high cost of living as a result of last month's ``free float'' of the rupee against the US dollar.Opposition activists carried coffins to symbolise the funeral of the rupee and later ``cremated'' the remains outside the town hall here praying that the rupee should be `born again' under a UNP administration. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 12:57:31 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka opposition holds big protest on economy  - MSNBC

Sri Lanka to pray for peace
BBC South Asia, Friday, 9 February, 2001, 17:26 GMT . Sri Lanka's Catholic Church is organising an unprecedented month of prayer for peace on the war-torn island. Church bells across the country - including rebel-held areas - will call the faithful to prayer from the evening of 17 February. The Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, said the church would distribute posters and banners calling for devolution of power and communal harmony. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 16:33:02 EST 2001

Sri Lanka Swears In First Female Muslim Cabinet Minister
Yahoo India, February 9. The first Muslim woman to become a Sri Lankan Cabinet minister took her oath of office in Parliament Friday, extending a tradition of female political leaders in South Asia. Ferial Ashraff entered politics after her husband, Mohammed Ashraff, also a Cabinet minister, was killed in a helicopter crash in September. She won a seat in parliamentary elections and was nominated by her party to join the coalition government.Ashraff follows in the footsteps of several South Asian female political leaders, including Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her mother, Sirimavo Bandaranaike. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:23:03 EST 2001

Hakeem elected as leader of the SLMC
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.05 a.m. SLT Tuesday February 6. Editors Note: Due to a technical problem we were not able to post the following story which was dated the 6th of February. We regret the inconvinience

Rauf Hakeem was last evening unanimously elected as leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at a polit bureau meeting. The battle between Hakeem and Ferial Ashraff finally concluded with the election of Hakeem as leader. Ferial Ashraff later told reporters that she still believed that for the SLMC to move forward and develop the party needed co-leaders. Hakeem however asserted that the party constitution allowed for the election of a single leader. Ferial Ashraff meanwhile has been appointed as leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) a party that her late husband founded months before his death.

Last week both Ferial and Hakeem appeared on a joint platform at Kalmunai but Ferial was booed when she addressed the largely Muslim crowd while Hakeem was received with favour and said on stage that he had the backing of the SLMC to lead it.

The recent battle for power between Hakeem and Ferial effectively divided the SLMC into two camps and intrigue and wheeler-dealing as supporters of both sides tried to secure power became a daily ritual both for Hakeem and Ferial Ashraff.

Ferial however lacked the backing of key members in the SLMC who were of the view that the very fact by her being a Muslim woman, she could not lead a Muslim male dominated party. Ferial unfortunately was also backed by men who had previously aided and abetted with her late husband in various extra curricular activities and underhand dealings.

Hakeem in contrast had a greater hands on experience with politics and is > known for his political stance including being articulate on many issues. Hakeem was the obvious choice as far as the SLMC were concerned, him being male only further substantiating his claim to the leadership.
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:33:12 EST 2001

India expresses concern at shooting of fishermen
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 8.05 a.m. SLT Tuesday February 6. Editors Note: Due to a technical problem we were not able to post the following story which was dated the 6th of February. We regret the inconvinience

India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopalkrishna Gandhi has met with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and expressed concern over the shooting of two Indian fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy. Gandhi has reiterated that while the straying of fishermen from both Sri Lanka and India into each other's territorial waters is a problem shooting should not be resorted to.

The two fishermen were shot by the Navy off the southern coast of Tamil Nadu while fishing in Lankan waters.
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:33:11 EST 2001

President raps cops about escalating crime rate
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.25 a.m. SLT Tuesday February 6. Editors Note: Due to a technical problem we were not able to post the following story which was dated the 6th of February. We regret the inconvinience

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge yesterday held a meeting with the Inspector General of Police and other top cops to seek a solution to the present escalating crime rate in the country. Amidst allegations that underworld gangsters are backed by politicians, the President asserted to the cops that they must not bow down to the pressures of corrupt politicos but must instead attempt a clean up of the city, her suburbs and the rest of the country.

Over 25,000 cases of rape, murder including contract killings and drug smuggling has been reported since January this year. The police complain that constant interference and threats to the cops by government politicos prevent the sleuths from carrying out their duties. In addition the cops say that powerful politicians used thugs and underworld Mafia style gangs to bulldoze their way through the last general election in October 2000. The president despite giving an assurance last year that such politicos would be dealt with failed to do so. A large number of army deserters are believed to be the culprits behind the staggering crime rate.

Kumaratunge yesterday insisted that the cops must act with more diligence and help prevent the incidents of crime from rising further. She has asked the IGP and the top cops to report to her every two weeks on the progress against the rise of crime.
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:33:12 EST 2001

Dilshan knocks on selectors? door
Yahoo India, February 10. Tilekeratne Dilshan announced to the national selectors that he was ready for a recall to the Sri Lanka Test team when he stroked an attractive century for the Board President?s XI against the touring England side here on Thursday. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 16:31:34 EST 2001

Sri Lanka rupee steady as exporters sell dollars
Yahoo India, February 9. COLOMBO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan rupee was steady on Friday as exporters sold their dollar earnings, dealers said. They said the rupee was trading at around 87 to the dollar, its Thursday's closing level. The rupee has recovered after a rapid slide from being floated on January 23 due to central bank stipulations introduced simultaneously. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 08:44:14 EST 2001

Undergrad stripped, assaulted for anti-govt. protests
Island, Friday, 9 February. The Students Union of University of Ruhuna yesterday claimed that a gang of persons believed to be supporters of a powerful minister on Tuesday night stripped a member of the union and then assaulted him at Matara. The victim identified as Dissanayake was among a large number of students assaulted by the gang that carried out a series of brutal attacks on the students. A senior union spokesman said that goons used several vehicles belonging to the minister. However, police had failed to take action against the group, he said claiming that police acting on orders of their political masters were trying to put the blame on the students. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 04:05:20 EST 2001

LTTE robs goods worth over Rs. 550,500 from Trinco Technical College
Island, Friday, 9 February. A group of LTTE terrorists entered the Uppuveli Technical College, Trincomalee North, around 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday and robbed 1 computer with its accessories, 4 typewriters, 1 photocopy machine, 1 electrical charger and some carpentry equipment worth over Rs. 550,500. Terrorists have taken the stolen property in a lorry hijacked from K. K. Sundaram a resident of Uppuveli. Later, the lorry was returned to the owner. Uppuveli police is conducting further inquiries, army headquarters said.Terrorists on 30th September last year broken into Muttur Central College in Trincomalee South and forcibly removed 9 computers with accessories, 1 typewriter and one speaker with microphone.Meanwhile terrorists fired mortars at troops manning defences in Muhamalai, Kilaly and Nagarkovil areas on Tuesday night and in the early hours the next day. No casualties to own troops. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 04:06:36 EST 2001

University students begin protest against private universities
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1954SLT 08.02.01. University students today launched a protest campaign against the introduction of private universities and plans to levy fees for higher education. Students took to the streets in 13 districts of the Island to distribute leaflets explaining their opposition to the move. The introduction of private universities and levying a fee for higher education from a section of the student population were one of the demands by Foreign funders at the recent Paris aid group meeting. Student leaders say they would not allow the government to end free education in the country first introduced in 1936
Published: Thu Feb 8 09:04:58 EST 2001

Sri Lanka Allocates $720 Mln To Fight Tamil Rebels In '01
Yahoo India, February 8. The Sri Lankan government Thursday said it would allocate $720 million for defense to fight the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2001.Sri Lanka's fiscal year runs from January to December. Junior Finance Minister Gamini Peiris presented the appropriation bill in parliament Thursday. The annual budget is expected to be presented early March. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 09:15:14 EST 2001
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Unprecedented increase in Lankan defence budget  -
Sri Lanka defense spending up  - Virtual New York
Sri Lanka unveils major war budget  -

Sri Lanka says Norway envoy met rebels in London
MSNBC, february 8. Sri Lanka said on Thursday Norwegian envoy Erik Solheim held talks in London with a Tamil rebel negotiator soon after his visit to the war-torn island last week.''Norway's special envoy Erik Solheim has conducted discussions with the LTTE's Anton Balasingham in London on Tuesday,'' state radio said, referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 10:57:41 EST 2001

Price of essential items continue to rise
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1958 SLT 08.02.01. The CWE today raised the price of dhal by Rs 3.50 to Rs 53.50 per kilo as the recent trend of increasing prices of essential goods continued. The price rise comes on top of a two rupee price increase for sugar last Friday by the CWE. The government owned CWE prices are used as gage by the private sector for setting prices. end
Published: Thu Feb 8 09:04:58 EST 2001

Huge outlay for defence in Sri Lankan budget
The Hindu (International), Friday, February 09, 2001. COLOMBO, FEB. 8. Sri Lanka will spend Rs. 63.38 billions or roughly $720 millions on defence this year, Parliament was told today. In rupee terms, it is an increase of 20 per cent over last year's allocation of Rs.52.4 billions, but about 25 per cent less than the Rs.83 billions that the government finally ended up spending due to the sudden escalation of the war in mid-2000. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 08:37:39 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Government to spend 365 Billion rupees this year  - Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo

UNP prepares for massive anti government demonstration in Colombo on Friday
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1731SLT 08.02.01. The UNP is preparing a massive anti government demonstration on Friday after arriving on the outskirts of the capital today from Kandy. The protest march from Kandy to Colombo began on Sunday, the anniversary of independence. Large crowds were reported on the five days as the protestors marched through the Kandy road and cut across to Gampaha, the stronghold of President Kumaratunga. A dozen elephants are expected to lead the protestors to the city which will end with a rally in Town Hall in the afternoon
Published: Thu Feb 8 06:43:21 EST 2001

Sri Lankan national missing
Yahoo India, 9 February 2001. A Sri Lankan national staying in a hotel at Egmore has been reported missing since January 23.Ganapathi Pillai Thulasingam of Jaffna in Sri Lanka, who settled down in London some years ago, used to visit Chennai regularly and stay in a hotel.Hotel workers reported that he was carrying Rs 50,000 and some US dollars when he went out. He was wearing a diamond ring. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 07:38:26 EST 2001

WB funds Rs. 4 b to increase efficiency of Colombo port
CDN, Thursday, 8 February. The Government will revive a US$ 45 million (over Rs. 4 billion) World Bank funded programme for the improvement of efficiency in the Colombo port, Minister of Port Development and Southern Development Ronnie de Mel told a news conference yesterday. The project also revolves round the infusion of state-of the-art equipment, automation of the Colombo port and also work methods which are aimed at increasing the efficiency of the port. The total cost of the project is around US $ 60 million and the counterpart funds will come from the Government of Sri Lanka, he said. This World Bank loan has been approved in 1998 and was not implemented by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for what ever reason and the funds were withheld, he said. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 03:58:44 EST 2001

Cashew girls give UNP marchers a rousing welcome
Island, Thursday, 8 February. Responding to a warm welcome by the cashew girls of Bataleeya to the UNP march, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday declared that the second phase of the "Jana Bala Meheyuma" would start tomorrow at Town Hall in Colombo. Cashew girls received the "Jana Bala Meheyuma" by playing "Raban" and by adorning Mr. Wickremesinghe with cashew necklaces. An elated Wickremesinghe responded that the UNP was moving towards making a change to restore the bankrupt economy of the country and usher in a prosperous time again. "In 1994 you were dressed in gold necklaces, but today all those gold chains are with the pawn brokers and iron chains have been put around your necks," he hit out to the ovation of the massive crowd. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 03:48:47 EST 2001

Another ?bizarre? ending for the Kiwis
Yahoo India, February 9. Calculators at the ready, Sri Lanka won the fourth One-Day International against New Zealand in a bizarre ending on Thursday as bad light stopped play with the visitors on 155 for five.The Duckworth-Lewis system was in force and Sri Lanka, originally chasing 183, were declared winners by three runs after passing the required mark in the 31st over at the end of which umpires finally stopped play because of the light. The Sri Lankans now lead 4-0 in the five-match series. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 15:30:29 EST 2001
Related News Stories
Rain helps Sri Lanka to win  - BBC South Asia
Sri Lanka make it 4-0 against New Zealand  - The Hindu NUS
Cricket: Duckworth-Lewis rule applies in Lankan win over New Zealand  - NDTV/MSNBC

Red Hat plans 100 channel partners in India
Yahoo India, February 8. Red Hat India Pvt Ltd, a 60:40 joint venture between Red Hat and Mumbai-based Clover Technologies, is planning to appoint 100 channel partners this year (2001-02) as a part of its strategy to penetrate the Indian market in a big way with its Linux distribution. The Indian operations of Red Hat started in December and it will concentrate on Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan apart from India. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 14:57:18 EST 2001

Thomas Cook: The Lankan connection
Yahoo India, February 8. THE acquisition of the operations of Thomas Cook Overseas Ltd, UK in Sri Lanka by Thomas Cook (India) may augur well from a long-term perspective. The acquisition could open up new revenue streams from the company and also enable it to leverage its network in the region better. More...
Published: Thu Feb 8 09:43:13 EST 2001

S.Lanka Eagle to offer dividend debentures
Yahoo India, February 9. Sri Lanka's Eagle Insurance Co Ltd plans to pay a 4.50 rupee per share first and final cash dividend for the last calendar year by issuing debentures, the Colombo Stock Exchange said on Friday. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 09:30:08 EST 2001

Left parties see no hurdle
The Hindu (Southern States), Saturday, February 10, 2001. CHENNAI, FEB. 9. Quick to dispel impressions of deep discomfort in the AIADMK-led secular front in Tamil Nadu following the PMK's entry, the Left parties today maintained that they did not see either the PMK's `casteist trappings' or its pro-LTTE stance as hurdles to continuing their alliance for the coming Assembly elections. ``The objective is to weaken the NDA in Tamil Nadu and defeat the BJP-DMK combine, while expanding the secular front is the discretion of the AIADMK leader, Ms. Jayalalitha, leading the alliance,'' sources in both the Left parties said today. More...
Published: Fri Feb 9 16:38:27 EST 2001

Peace not necessary for negotiations to begin
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.10 p.m. SLT Tuesday February 6. Editors Note: Due to a technical problem we were not able to post the following story which was dated the 6th of February. We regret the inconvinience

Sources said today that peace may not be a priority in order to bring the government and the LTTE to the negotiating table. As the government's troubles shifted from the battle front to the country's cash straddled economy, the rebels are also concerned about new British anti terrorism laws which if implemented will severely affect the Tigers operating out of London.

Norway's peace broker, Eric Solheim, meanwhile left the country this week after having met with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. Solheim is reported to have said that the first phase of the Norwegians peace plan is now drawing to a close.
Published: Fri Feb 9 11:33:12 EST 2001

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