The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 317

T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Tamil parties struggle to maintain a common front
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.25 p.m. SLT Saturday February 17. Representatives from Tamil political parties in the South who recently stepped up a campaign to lobby support for a peace process are split over issues in the north east and are finding it hard to maintain a common front.

The fragile alliance between the Tamil parties struggling to unite at least on the ethnic issue are fraught with dissension and dispute. Recent revelations that the EPDP, PLOTE and TELO are extorting money, from the people in the north, has resulted in the TULF pulling out of the uneasy partnership.

"Under this situation how can we all get together," V. Anandasangaree lamented. He referred to the fact that the EPDP, PLOTE and TELO are not only collecting a salary from the Defence Ministry for helping Lankan troops fight the LTTE, but in addition are burdening the Tamil people of the North by extorting funds for various reasons.

The parties decided to unite on this issue to bring pressure on the government to observe the unilateral ceasefire declared by the LTTE and to stop calling for the UK to brand the Tigers as a terrorist organization.
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:03:54 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.
No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
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Sri Lankans glued to British anti-terrorism law
Yahoo India, February 17. A new British anti-terrorism law which could outlaw Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels riveted the attention of the war-torn island on Saturday as lobbying by its two major ethnic groups neared fever pitch just before it took effect.The British High Commission in Colombo has been swamped by letters and petitions from the majority Sinhalese, most of whom support the ban, and minority Tamils who largely oppose it."If necessary we will go to court in Britain to force the Home Secretary's hand," said Tilak Karunaratne, lawmaker of the hardline Sihala Urumaya (SU) party.But Tamil groups are urging Britain to spare the rod in the name of peace. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 14:37:47 EST 2001

Lost Sri Lankans return home
BBC South Asia, Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 17:56 GMT . A group of Sri Lankan migrants who at one stage thought that they had reached Germany are on their way home after spending a month and a half in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan.The 24 Sri Lankans were found in freezing conditions on the Kazakh steppes at the end of last year.Most were suffering from exposure, and one had frozen to death, his body carried by a member of the group. They say a businessman had promised to help them emigrate to western Europe via Dubai and Russia. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:35:50 EST 2001
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24 Sri Lankans head for home after failed bid to reach Germany  -

Govt not keeping us informed of peace process: UNP
SouthernNexus, february 16. Feb 16: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party accused the Government of keeping it in the dark on the ongoing indirect preliminary peace talks with the LTTE, in violation of an earlier agreement to do so. UNP's Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya and Assistant Leader Gamini Athukorale said that under a 1997 pact, facilitated by then British Deputy Foreign Minister Liam Fox, the two parties had agreed that if there were such developments, the opposition party would be kept informed. "Only the Norwegians are keeping us informed, not the Government," Jayasuriya told reporters on Thursday while replying to a question on why the UNP was yet to take a position on the Government's demand that Britain outlaw the LTTE. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 23:03:24 EST 2001

Sri Lankan plantation workers seek higher wages
The Hindu NUS, 20.00 hrs (IST) on February 17, 2001. Reeling under the inflationary effect of the prolonged ethnic war, the predominantly Tamil plantation workers in Sri Lanka are demanding hike in wages and restoration of peace to stabilise the economy. The Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC), the main voice of the one- million labourers, is organising a `Satyagraha' from Monday demanding a wage raise of Rs 400 per month. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 16:18:54 EST 2001

Minister for Trade to have sweeping powers on price control
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.15 p.m. SLT Saturday February 17. In another political development, the cabinet of ministers has passed a new consumer protection authority act which lends sweeping powers to the minister of Trade, Rauf Hakeem and the Minister for Finance, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, to decide on price controls of all essential items.

Not only is this provision dictatorial, but it will probably have a serious effect on the private sector. In an open market economy the Minister for Trade will now have the leverage to insist on price controls, as he deems fit. Though the provision is aimed at proving to the nation that the government is now committed to reducing price hikes and controlling the market, in reality, full powers are being bestowed on the Minister and the President in her capacity as Minister for Finance.

The new Act was merged after a Task Force appointed in 1995 studied the two existing Acts, which were the Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Trading Act. The report submitted by this Task Force has been changed over the years. The draft legislation was also at the time discussed with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber however had voiced a few reservations over certain provisions in the proposed merger of the two acts.

A glaring problem in the New Act, now titled the Consumer Protection Authority, is Section 17, which lends provision for the minister to prescribe articles as essential to the life of the people. This provision was in fact removed in 1993 from the existing Fair Trading Act because in a free market economy there is no need for price controls. Strictures were maintained only with pharmaceutical products.

The new Act now allows for the government to bring back this power to the Minister for Trade. Hakeem can now decide in consultation with Kumaratunge on controlling prices of all essential items. Section 18 thereafter reiterates that the Director General of the Consumer Protection Authority can also decide that prices are going higher and recommend to the Council to look into the matter and establish control. The difference in this instance is that the public will have a right to appeal against the decision of the Council. This right to the public does not however come into play where Hakeem and Kumaratunge are concerned. Their word will be law.

Section 51 of the new legislation has provision for Government Corporations solely selling or manufacturing goods or any person dealing with the government to be exempt from competition law. The Government has further secured itself the right to lend a three-year monopoly to foreign investors. Sadly, the government appears to be under the notion that no foreign multi national firms will invest in the island unless a monopoly is handed out.

Multi national firms in Sri Lanka have been known to take full advantage of this aspect and after reaping massive profits, have moved the revenue out of the country.

The new Act meanwhile has already been handed over to government printers and will soon be presented to Parliament as a priority bill.

The government maintains that the UNP in 1993, removed the Trade Minister's right to control prices and that this is the reason why prices continue to sky-rocket minus any checks and balances. Dissatisfied sources within the Trade Ministry alleged that the entire bill is politically oriented and will only lend sweeping executive powers to both Hakeem and Kumaratunge in deciding on price controls for the nation.
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:03:53 EST 2001

Security drill in Sri Lanka triggers panic, Feb 17 2001 14:28 IST. Sri Lanka police and security forces Saturday carried out an emergency drill to handle terrorist attacks in the capital, but the unannounced exercise caused panic, officials said. Some 2,000 police and troops were deployed for the sudden operation in central Colombo, officials said adding no vehicles were allowed in or out of the city during a half hour period, leading to massive traffic snarls.Callers jammed telephone lines of local police and newspaper offices, fearing a real bomb attack was underway. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 04:41:13 EST 2001

Thieves steal gold at holiest Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, Feb 16 2001 14:45 IST. COLOMBO, Feb 16 (AFP) - Gold jewellery offered by worshippers has been stolen from one of Buddhism's holiest shrines near the Sri Lankan capital, police said Friday. Police were investigating the theft at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara which is believed to be one of three places visited by the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 09:48:49 EST 2001

CM opens Tamil virtual varsity
Yahoo India, 18 February 2001. The Tamil Nadu Government's ambitious project to spread Tamil language and its culture through the Internet achieved fruition today, with the Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, inaugurating the Tamil Virtual University (TVU).Mr. I. Gunawardane, Sri Lanka's Minister for Higher Education and I.T., Mr. S. Sivathasan, Chairman, Official Languages Commission of Sri Lanka, spoke on the ties between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka over the ages and the steps now being taken there for Tamil development. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:50:47 EST 2001

English only!
Yahoo India, 18 February 2001. In 1956, it promoted the Sinhala Only language policy. Now Sri Lanka is beginning to feel the short-sightedness of it. NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN reports.IT IS after school hours, but in a make-shift classroom in a quiet corner of a Buddhist temple in Colombo, away from the busy traffic on the arterial road outside, a group of teenagers are toiling away. They are learning English, a language officially neglected by Sri Lankan policy-makers in state education for over 40 years, but one that now even children realise they cannot do without anymore. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:44:50 EST 2001

Chandrika visit from Feb. 22
The Hindu NUS, 22.30 hrs (IST) on February 16, 2001. New Delhi, Feb. 16 (PTI): Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga will undertake a three-day official visit to India from February 22 to further consolidate bilateral ties in diverse areas, it was officially announced today. The visit, the first to India by Kumaratunga after the recent general elections in Sri Lanka, is part of regular exchanges at the highest level, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman told reporters. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 23:37:08 EST 2001
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Sri Lankan president to visit India, Europe  -

Inter-faith team to meet LTTE leaders
yahoo, february 17. A THIRTY-MEMBER inter-faith group comprising Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic priests, is leaving for Wanni on Sunday to meet LTTE leaders Thamilchelvan and Karikalan, the state-owned Tamil daily Dinakaran has said. The visit, which has been permitted by both the LTTE and Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence, will be taking place at a critical juncture in the ethnic conflict, when the Norwegian peace initiative is beginning to show signs of progress. Earlier, the Catholic Bishops of Jaffna and Mannar, Rev Thomas Savundarnayagam and Rev Rayappu Joseph, had gone to Wanni and met Thamilchelvan to get the inter-faith visit cleared. A section of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church and a section of the Buddhist clergy have been trying hard for sometime to get the government and the LTTE to talk about cessation of hostilities and a constitutional settlement to the ethnic question. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 16:15:47 EST 2001

Tamils campaign against UK Tiger ban
BBC South Asia, Friday, 16 February, 2001, 19:20 GMT . Students in northern Jaffna have collected more than 50,000 signatures on a petition asking Britain not to ban the rebels, whose international secretariat is in London. There have also been demonstrations against a ban in rebel-controlled areas in eastern Batticaloa district.Sinhalese nationalists in Colombo say they plan to hand over their own petition with a million signatures to the British High Commission on Monday urging London to enforce the ban. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 18:08:16 EST 2001

Indonesian hajj flight makes emergency landing in Sri Lanka, Feb 16 2001 12:30 IST. COLOMBO, Feb 16 (AFP) - An Indonesian Airbus A-330 carrying pilgrims to the hajj made an emergency landing at Sri Lanka's only international airport after reporting engine trouble, local officials said Friday. The aircraft carrying some 310 people on the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca landed safely at Bandaranaike International Airport late Thursday after the pilots shut down an engine, officials said. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 03:37:34 EST 2001
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Indonesian airliner makes emergency landing in Sri Lanka  -

Pak.-Sri Lanka talks on reviving SAARC
Yahoo India, 17 February 2001. The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, called on his Pakistani counterpart, Mr. Abdul Sattar, here today and held talks on matters of interest between the two countries. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:48:21 EST 2001

Lanka renews call to Britain to ban LTTE
Times of India (Breaking News), 16 February. COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has renewed its demand to Britain on banning the LTTE, saying the rebel outfit will not cease to be a terrorist organisation even if it commenced peace negotiations with the government. "It's Britain's moral responsibility to act by the provisions of its own anti-terrorist law and there is no reason for the decision to be linked to the peace process," president Chandrika Kumaratunga said on television on Friday night. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 08:10:50 EST 2001
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Kumaratunga asks Britain to ban LTTE  - NDTV/MSNBC
Lankan President asks Britain to ban Tigers  - Times of India

Sri Lanka seeks closer cooperation with Czech republic, Feb 16 2001 18:40 IST. Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga held talks with visiting Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy and both called for greater military and trade cooperation, the government here said Friday. The Czech minister arrived here on Wednesday and held the meeting with Kumaratunga on Thursday, her office said in a statement. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 09:48:30 EST 2001
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Lanka will get Czech military aid  -
Czech Republic offers to train Lankan soldiers  - Times of India (Breaking News)

Spinner Muralitharan undergoes tests
Independent, UK, Friday, 16 February. Sri Lanka's top off–spinner Muthiah Muralitharan, who hurt himself in New Zealand, went for a thorough medical check today hours after the team returned to Colombo from its tour of South Africa and New Zealand. "We can't say anything at the moment if he will be fit to play against England. He is going through lots of medical checks and specialist care," Sri Lankan cricket board spokesman Chandrishan Perera said. "The doctors are doing their best, but as you know, an injury in the groin means more rest. The more you rest, the better you get," Perera said when asked if the off–spinner will be fit to play in the first test against England starting February 22. Muralitharan was, however, greeted by news that he leads the list for CEAT international cricketer of the year 2000–01. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 03:56:46 EST 2001

Pakistan, Sri Lanka discuss SAARC, Feb 16 2001 19:25 IST. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar met Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf here Friday to discuss efforts to revive the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), officials said. SAARC, formed in 1985, failed to hold a summit in November 1999 amid worsening relations between key members India and Pakistan in the wake of their tit-for-tat nuclear tests and the military takeover here. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 09:53:07 EST 2001

Cricket-England 342-6 at tea against President's XI
Yahoo India, 18 february 2001. England, in reply to the home side's 253, have moved steadily to 342 for six at tea on the third day of the four-day match against the Sri Lanka Board President's XI on Saturday. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:56:49 EST 2001
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Cricket-Atherton anchors England against Lanka Board President's XI  - Yahoo India

Main spinners may miss first Test
Yahoo India, 18 February 2001. It is already clear, five days ahead of the first Test between Sri Lanka and England at Galle, that the main spinners of both teams may miss the match through injury.Muttiah Muralitharan, whose 75 wickets in 10 Tests in 2000 make him the most dangerous bowler of this era, is at home in Colombo nursing a groin injury. You can take you pick of the bulletins emerging from the Sri Lanka propaganda machine: from the coach Dav Whatmore's optimistic ``I'm sure he will be all right'' to skipper Sanath Jayasuriya's clear worries and the suggestion that he will bowl in the nets on Monday; but there is a widespread belief that we will not see those sparkling eyes and that cheeky grin until the end of the series. More...
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:46:42 EST 2001

South Asian economic talks
BBC South Asia, Friday, 16 February, 2001, 12:41 GMT . rade and economic ministers from Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand have stressed the importance of co-operation in the face of globalisation at the first meeting of their group, BIMST-EC, in Rangoon. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 09:50:27 EST 2001

Lanka gives $ 100,000 to quake victims, Thursday, February 15, 2001. COLOMBO: President Chandrika Kumaratunga today gifted 100,000 US dollars and a large consignment of garments and milk powder to the earth-quake victims in Gujrat. President Kumaratunga made the donation to Indian high commissioner here, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, at the President's official residence, a statement by her office said. More...
Published: Fri Feb 16 03:40:58 EST 2001

UNP to seek support to blacklist government policies
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.10 p.m. SLT Saturday February 17. The United National Party is to seek the support of social, economic and religious groups to help the party in its campaign to blacklist the government on its economic policies. The UNP maintains that the people are struggling today as price hikes on all essential items has placed immense pressures and burdens on the nation.

Following the massive crowd support the 'Janabala Meheyuma' drew, the party asserts that the success of the walk will be carried forward into bringing more pressure on the government to implement policies that will ease the burden of the people. At the UNP group meeting last Monday it was decided to approach the Chambers and all other social, economic and religious groups and probe the possibility of joining forces in order to take on the government's economic policies which the UNP insists has placed immense hardship on the nation. The main opposition party also intends pushing for the resignation of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. The party is also continuing to lobby support to impeach Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva. The legalities involved for this purpose are already being addressed.
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:03:53 EST 2001

Emirates refuses to divulge financial details with GOSL
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.50 a.m. SLT Saturday February 17. Emirates Airlines last week refused to divulge to the Court of Appeal if a balance payment of USD 25 million (2.3 billion Sri Lankan rupees) has indeed been paid to the government of Sri Lanka. A petition filed by Ravi Karunanayake and the UNP demanding that Emirates Airlines prove that the balance payment has been paid as stipulated in the contractual agreement with the government to Sri Lankan Airlines, were told to back-off.

Lawyers representing the Airline told Colombo's High Court last week that since Emirates is a private company it does not need to answer questions on its financial dealings to the UNP or any other interested party. The airline further maintained that a court-house was not the forum in which such questions should be answered.

The Emirates case came up to be mentioned in the court of appeal on Tuesday February 13, before Justice Askoa De Silva. Counsel who appeared on behalf of the first respondent Dr. P. B. Jayasundera who is the Secretary to the Treasury stated that he is raising a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction to the court to grant the petitioner the right that such financial information be released. Dr. Jayasundera's counsel further stated that he was challenging the standing of the petitioners to come to court. He moved that the petitioners application be dismissed immediately as of Tuesday February 13th.

In reply to the said preliminary objection raised, Counsel for the petitioners, Sanjeewa Jayawardena submitted to court that there was no provision to challenge the issue of jurisdiction and standing of the petitioners to be decided at this stage without a full argument.

He also submitted that all that the Petitioners wished to ascertain in the public and national interest was whether the sum of USD 25 million due, has in fact been paid by Emirates to the Government of Sri Lanka, as had been claimed by the Deputy Minister of Finance Prof. G. L. Peiris, in Parliament. He also pointed out to court that the various technical objections raised by the respondent was being done in a bid to frustrate the petitioners case.

Last month, on January 17, Dr. P. B. Jayasundera wrote to Ravi Karunanayake and stated that according to his knowledge up to January 8, 2001, the balance payment due to the government from Emirates Airlines had not yet been remitted.

Karunanayake meanwhile has continued to argue that since the transaction is with the government, an elected body of the people, the State is accountable to the nation and as such the country has a right to know if and when this money was credited to Sri Lanka. After having reached this deadlock, the next hearing was re-scheduled for March 20, 2001.

A further 25 percent share issue of Sri Lankan Airlines will be handed over to Emirates Airlines once the balance payment is made.

Romesh de Silva PC, appeared on behalf of Emirates Airlines, K. Kanageeswaran PC appeared for the 1st Respondent Dr. P. B. Jayasundera and State Counsel Uditha Igalahewa appeared for the Attorney General. Sanjeewa Jayawardena assisted by Priyanthi Gunaratne and instructed by G. G. Arul Pragasam appeared for the petitioners.
Published: Sat Feb 17 15:03:53 EST 2001

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