The Lanka Academic

MARCH 22, 2001 EST, USA
VOL. 1, NO. 350

F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Controversy over presidential palace in Kotte
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5.10 p.m. SLT Thursday March 22 . A massive controversy is evolving over the construction of a new presidential palace in Madiwela, Kotte. The palace estimated to cost some Rs. 2.5 billion has raised a storm of protest. Residents in area complain that the construction of the palace will seriously hinder their movements as already roads in and around the area are closed by 9 p.m. everyday. Access to the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital is also barred after 9 p.m. and patients are forced to used a longer route to get to the hospital.

Recently, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne of the UNP challenged Urban Development Minister Mangala Samaraweera, to a 'live' television debate on the costing and construction details of the palace. The minister has responded by requesting the opposition leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe to take part in the debate. The UNP have refused saying they will nominate a suitable MP to challenge the minister and that Wickremasinghe will debate only with the president herself.

Meanwhile fresh details released on the palace reveal that it will cost 17 times more than the White House did when it was built. One square foot at the presidential palace in Kotte is estimated to cost a stunning Rs. 46,587/- (USD 533). A super luxury house in Sri Lanka is usually priced at Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 2,500/- per square foot.

Samaraweera has revealed that the new home for the president would consist of 12,879 square feet and will cost approximately Rs. 600 million. The private dwellings for the president will have five bedrooms, two living rooms, a dining room, a library a kitchen, a banquet hall and conference rooms including a swimming pool.

Samaraweera claims that reports that imported luxury items were being ordered for the palace are completely false. His statement is somewhat negated by the fact that a palace costing over Rs. 46,000/- per square foot must indeed possess luxurious fittings imported or otherwise.

A leading architect who asked to remain anonymous said he doubts very much that a house estimated to cost Rs. 46,587 per square foot could be built using local fittings. Even a house estimated at Rs. 10 million he pointed out would not opt for Lanka ceramic fittings and wall tiles. The more obvious choice he said would be to buy Italian fittings.

The Presidential Secretariat also to be located in a separate building on the same site according to Minister Samaraweera will cost Rs. 875 million for 170,000 square feet. This indicates that the secretariat has been estimated at a rate of Rs. 5,147/- per square foot despite it being much larger in extent than the proposed private residence of the president.

The building to accommodate members from the presidential security division will cost Rs. 325 million for 75,000 square feet. In stark contrast to the costing per square foot for the president's private dwelling and the presidential secretariat this area will cost only Rs. 4,333/- per square foot.

The President's henchmen have been told not to divulge to the nation the true details of the palatial complex spread on 13 acres of land that will cost the country the princely sum of Rs. 2.5 billion upon completion.

'Mum' is the key word as a 13-foot high fence runs about three miles around the complex, forbidding trespassers to enter or even onlookers to peek. The PSD are so diligent in keeping the ongoing work a secret that a 17 year old youth was on one instance arrested and hauled to the Mirihana police station where he was kept locked in a cell for two days. His crime being that he entered the future presidential complex to retrieve a kite that had blown into the high security den.

Children who live in the area and are spotted peeking into the complex are chased by beefy looking security personnel.
Published: Thu Mar 22 07:34:43 EST 2001

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
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Lanka steps up air strikes after sea battle
India Abroad, 22 March. AIR force jets pounded suspected Tamil Tiger positions in eastern Sri Lanka Thursday even as search operations continued for seven sailors missing after a major sea battle with the rebels Wednesday. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 19:12:31 EST 2001 Back to the top

Mir Splashdown
CNN, March 22, 2001. MOSCOW, Russia -- After serving more than 15 years of orbiting the heavens, Mir made its last laps around the Earth on Thursday as Russian mission controllers took steps to ditch the defunct space station in the Pacific Ocean. Splashdown should take place approximately 9:45 a.m. Moscow time (March 23, 1:45 a.m. EST/12:45pm SLT), according to Mission Control. More... [Live Webcast] To see the location of Mir, click on the "Where is Mir today?" under "Weather Central" on the left column. After nearly 1 year, we will remove this link after the demise of Mir.
Published: Thu Mar 22 20:37:46 EST 2001 Back to the top

LTTE extends ceasefire
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5 p.m. SLT Thursday March 22. The LTTE today extended its three month ceasefire to April 24, 2001. The LTTE however have warned that it will resume military operations if the government continues with its military offensives in the countries north and east. The Tigers maintain that they have not launched any attacks on the military during the truce period.

The LTTE statement belies the fact that the military claim two Dvora style naval gunboats were attacked by the LTTE off the coast of Mullaitivu yesterday killing at least eleven sailors while another seven are still missing.

The Tigers meanwhile say that 133 of its cadres have been killed during the three month ceasefire by government troops.

"The LTTE leadership has decided to extend its self-imposed truce for another month to help generate a congenial atmosphere of peace and to provide further time and space for the Norwegian facilitatory efforts to bring the parties in conflict to the negotiating table. Our decision to cease all armed hostilities for a further period of time was taken in recognition of the collective aspirations of our people for peace, normalisation of civilian life and negotiations on the basis of self-determination", the LTTE's statement declared.

The LTTE has also expressed serious reservations over the foreign policy determinations of the international community particularly the United States, Britain, European nations and India towards the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. "By supporting Sri Lanka with financial and military assistance and by condemning and criminalising the Tamil struggle as a phenomenon of 'international terrorism' these international governments are not in any way contributing to the promotion of peace and enthnic reconciliation in the island but rather encourage the hardline militaristic approach of a repressive racist regime against the aggrieved and oppressed Tamil nation," the statement concluded.
Published: Thu Mar 22 07:34:43 EST 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Tigers extend truce with warning to Sri Lanka  -

Taliban blames the West for Bamian destruction
San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, March 22, 2001. WASHINGTON -- Stung by international criticism of its destruction of ancient statues of Buddha, Afghanistan's Taliban government sent a special envoy to Washington on Wednesday to negotiate with the Bush administration about ending the country's economic isolation. In an interview with the Mercury News Washington Bureau, Taliban envoy Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi said the Taliban is willing to discuss the fate of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian millionaire who is living in Afghanistan and who U.S. officials say is a leading sponsor of terrorism. Hashimi accused the United States and other Western countries of creating the situation that led to the statues' destruction. He said the Taliban had protected them, as well as many other Hindu and Buddhist treasures, until a Western delegation visited the site this year, proposing repairs. The Islamic authorities ``asked them to provide food instead for the children in the area who are dying of malnutrition. They refused,'' Hashimi said. ``They said the money was for the statues alone, not for children.'' The response so angered the authorities that they ordered the statues destroyed, he said. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 12:32:46 EST 2001 Back to the top

Three top LTTE cadres killed yesterday in sea battle
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 8 a.m. SLT Thursday March 22. Defence ministry sources said that three top rung LTTE cadres were killed in yesterday's sea battle with the Navy off the coast of Mullaitivu. The Defence ministry also claims that in addition, another 15 rebels were killed in ensuing gun battles at Mullaitivu and another 15 injured. The military base their claims on intercepted Tiger radio transmissions.

The attack was initiated by the LTTE, who sank a naval gun boat killing at least eleven sailors at around 6 a.m. last morning. Twelve sailors were later rescued, while another seven remain missing in action.

The LTTE are reported to have its strongest Sea Tiger base at Mullaitivu.

The government has pointed out that the LTTE attack was made on the Navy while the Tigers claim to be observing a unilateral ceasefire which has not been reciprocated by State troops.
Published: Thu Mar 22 07:34:42 EST 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
5 LTTE rebels killed in fighting  - The Times of India
15 LTTE cadres killed  -

DMK demo is a poll-eve stunt, says Jayalalitha
The Hindu (Southern States), Friday, March 23, 2001. The AIADMK general secretary, Ms. Jayalalitha, today blamed the indifference on the part of Coast Guard personnel and the Karunanidhi Government for the firing on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy. In a statement, she said the Sri Lankan Navy had indiscriminately fired at AIADMK fishermen cadres in Nagoor. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 16:14:43 EST 2001 Back to the top

Government negotiating more jobs in Saudi Arabia
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1627 SLT 22.03.2001. The government is negotiating with Saudi Arabia to open more employment opportunities for Sri Lankans. Labour Minister Alavi Maulana told parliament that his ministry has held a series of discussions with Saudi officials in this regard. He said a recent survey has revealed that there were plenty of vacancies in Saudi Arabia in the fields of construction,civil engineering and health. end
Published: Thu Mar 22 05:52:07 EST 2001 Back to the top

Education Minister says no more International Schools
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1530 SLT 22.03.2001. Education Minister Susil Premajayantha told parliament today that his ministry will not permit new International Schools to be set up in the country. In a stunning turn around in the Government's recently announced education policy the Minister said students attending such schools would not be eligible to enter Sri Lankan universities. Earlier the Secretary to the Ministry Dr.Tara De Mel had announced that it would encourage private education institutions and the cabinet approved legislation to this effect. Dr.De Mel, a close friend of President Kumaratunga has been promoting the establishment of private schools and her appointment as Education Secretary after last year's General Elections was seen as a ploy by the President to push through the project despite widespread opposition within and outside government. end
Published: Thu Mar 22 04:53:33 EST 2001 Back to the top

LTTE Confirms Shifting Headquarters to Vanni
Saroj Pathirana in London, Wednesday 21/03/01 1205 GMT. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) has confirmed that their headquarters has been moved to Vanni, in Northern Sri Lanka. The Lanka Academic learns that a journalist who contacted LTTE International Secretariat in London has been requested to contact their Vanni office as Tamil Tigers are now banned in Britain.
Published: Wed Mar 21 07:06:57 EST 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Tigers show shift from London after British ban  -

Missing croc, dead elephant spark mystery at Sri Lanka zoo, Mar 22 2001 15:52 IST. COLOMBO, March 22 (AFP) - Sri Lankan authorities are investigating how an elephant hide ended up hidden in a zoo cupboard, and why a crocodile carcass has gone missing, officials said Thursday. The chance discovery of the elephant hide at the National Zoological Gardens was made as police were investigating the alleged disappearance of a crocodile carcass from a freezer, a zoo official told AFP. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 08:41:00 EST 2001 Back to the top

Tamil rebel base 'bombed'
BBC South Asia, Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 10:38 GMT . The Sri Lankan Government says its air force has attacked a Tamil Tiger base, inflicting heavy damage.A military spokesman said jets scored direct hits on the base in jungles near Batticaloa.The air raid came a day after a sea battle in which the Tigers sank a navy gunboat leaving five sailors missing feared dead. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 09:28:35 EST 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka says jets attack Tamil Tiger base  - The Hindustan Times
Sea and land battles shatter truce in Sri Lanka  - Times of India (Breaking News)
Sri Lankan warplanes pound LTTE bases in Eastern Batticaloa  -
Sri Lanka jets bomb Tiger targets as sea battle kills 20  -

Lankan customs to bust smuggling of indigenous birds
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 8.10 p.m. SLT Wednesday March 21. Sri Lanka Customs has set up a special biodiversity unit to bust the smuggling of Sri Lanka's indigenous birds, plants and other wildlife. The customs say that in contrast to the usual smuggling of ivory and elephant tusks by foreigners, the country's indeginous birds, insects and plants are also now being smuggled out by foreign nationals. A leaflet stipulating that taking such species out of the country is now forbidden is handed to all tourists when they enter. The country's national bird, the jungle fowl, is also included in this list. The bird is almost extinct in Sri Lanka and customs officials say that the species has been previously smuggle out of the country.
Published: Wed Mar 21 19:24:27 EST 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka battles wildlife take-away  -

Tea pluckers demand more wages to pluck more tea
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.10 p.m. SLT Wednesday March 21. Estate workers in the country's Uva Province have demanded an additional Rs. 6/- for every extra kilo of tea they pluck. The workers usual quota is to pluck 18 kilos of tea a day. The workers made this demand after estate management said yesterday that the tea pluckers would need to work harder and pluck more tea in addition to the regular 18 kilograms. The Planters claim that this is necessary in order to bridge a shortfall which occured when thousands of estate workers took part in a go-slow campaign which lasted three weeks before their demands for higher wages was met.

The labourers present demand for an additional Rs. 6/- for every extra kilo is being backed by the Ceylon Workers Congress which led the recently concluded satyagraha campaign. The protest campaign was spurred by cabinet minister Arumugam Thondaman who has vowed to resign his portfolio if Tamil estate workers of Indian origin are discriminated against.
Published: Wed Mar 21 19:19:00 EST 2001 Back to the top

LTTE attacks two Naval gun boats.
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.25 p.m. SLT Wednesday March 21. A suicide attack by the LTTE on two Dvora style gunboats belonging to the Sri Lanka Navy took place at around 6 a.m. this morning. The attack sank one boat while 12 sailors on the other were later rescued. Search operations have continued throughout this morning for possible survivors. The defence ministry in Colombo confirmed that the attack took place off the coast of Mullaitivu.

The two dvora gunboats had been moving from Trincomalee to Kankasanthurai when they were attacked by the LTTE's Sea Tigers. The suicide cadres had struck the Naval boats at a location, approximately 8 nautical miles East of Mullaitivu at dawn this morning. The defence ministry said that while one boat sank, reinforcements were rushed from both Kankasanthurai and Trincomalee. The Sri Lanka Air Force had also provided close air support. Search and rescue operations are continuing.
Published: Wed Mar 21 02:53:26 EST 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
One Dvora captured, weapons stripped - VOT  - TamilNet
Sea battle kills 11 as Tigers sink Sri Lanka navy gunboat  -
Sea battle grips Sri Lanka as Tigers sink navy gunboat  -
Sri Lanka says 7 missing in Tamil Tiger sea raid  - MSNBC
Tamils sink gunboat  - BBC South Asia
Seven Lankan sailors killed in LTTE suicide attack  -
Tigers sink navy gunboat in major sea battle, truce in tatters  -

Speaker bans state TV from parliament for 5 days
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.35 p.m. SLT Wednesday March 21. Speaker Anura Bandaranaike today banned state television from covering parliamentary proceedings with effect from today. The Speakers decision was made after two MP's had brought to his notice that ITN and Rupavahini had televised parliamentary proceedings with a running commentary on the entire process. The broadcasted commentary is seen to be in breach of parliamentary prvileges. Hence, Bandaranaike maintaines that the state sponsored TV will not be allowed to cover proceedings with effect from today for five days of parliamentary sittings.
Published: Wed Mar 21 02:53:26 EST 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka state television banned from parliament  -

Legalize Rights of Our Ancestral Land - Veddha Chief
Saroj Pathirana in London, Wednesday 21/03/01 1745 GMT. The proposed Sri Lankan constitutional amendment should clearly define the rights of the indigenous people of Sri Lanka says the leader of Veddhas. The Veddah chieftain Uruwarige Vanniya in an interview with the BBC Sandeshaya said that their ancestral homeland that has now been turned into the Maduruoya National Park should be given back to them. This has been brought to the notice of the Junior Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte when he visited the Veddhas said Chief Vannia. He further said that the Minister?s promise to get an appointment with the President to discuss this matter is yet to be fulfilled.

The Veddhas have been living in Sri Lanka for many years. They were gradually displaced from their ancestral homelands. Most recently, under the previous UNP regime, many Veddhas were forced to leave their homeland to live with the Sinhala settlers under the Mahaveli development program. The Veddhas point out that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge prior to been elected in 1994, had given a written promise that their ancestral homeland will be returned.
Published: Wed Mar 21 12:44:32 EST 2001 Back to the top

Dutch social worker found dead in Colombo
Times of India, 22 March 2001 . COLOMBO: A Dutch social worker was found slain in his home Wednesday, the second Dutch citizen killed here in two months, police said. The body of Cornelius Offergelt, 58, was found in his home in Colombo's Moratuwa suburb, near where Dutch restaurant operator Rudolf Adrianus, 72, was strangled on Feb. 21, police said. Offergelt, who had been living here since 1984, was involved in "social work" but was not working for any institution or organization, police Inspector H. T. Chandrasiri said. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 17:46:32 EST 2001 Back to the top

Lankans find coconut debate a tough nut to crack
India Abroad, Mar 21, 2001 10:45 Hrs (IST) . MEDITERRANEAN cuisine is redolent with the flavor of olive oil and no Chinese chef will stir or fry without lashings of sesame oil, but in Sri Lanka where coconut oil is king, the greasy staple is at the heart of a heated controversy. Doctors, nutritionists and industry lobbyists are bandying arguments for and against cooking with coconut, the large, husk-covered fruit of the palm that grows in thick profusion along the island's coastal belt.Health statistics show 333 men and 188 women per 100,000 Sri Lankans die of coronary disease and healthcare personnel have long advised reducing the use of coconut to cut the risk of cholesterol-clogged arteries. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 09:05:56 EST 2001 Back to the top

Hollywood producer asks Asian directors to think beyond their countries.
Bandula Jayasekara in LA, By Bandula Jayasekara in Los Angeles: LA Time. Hollywood production executive Paul Mason requested Asian filmmakers to look beyond and bridge the gap between Asia and America. He said, "Asian film makers could do it. All they got to do is produce films to bridge the gap between Asia and America." Mason brought the example of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' directed by Ang Lee, nominated for 10 Academy Awards including the best director, best picture, best foreign language film, best original song, best film editing. Ang Lee also won the award for the best director from the prestigious Directors Guild of America this month. Academy awards will be held on Sunday the 25th in Los Angeles.

Mason is the Vice President of Viacom, owners of Paramount Pictures. He is responsible for $ 300 million dollars in annual production. He advised Asian directors to make movies for variety of cultures. Mason appealed " Think beyond your countries, there is a wide audience out there in the world" He described 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' as a beautiful and a classic movie produced by an Asian filmmaker which has won the hearts of America and the world. Mason has visited Sri Lanka several times.
Published: Wed Mar 21 12:14:56 EST 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lankan president in Britain
BBC South Asia, Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 13:56 GMT . The Sri Lankan president, Chandrika Kumaratunge, is in London for talks with the British prime minister 1530 GMT, Tony Blair. No details of their agenda have been released, but it's expected that the Sri Lankan civil war and Britain's decision to include the Tamil Tigers on a list of organisations that the government proposes to ban under anti-terrorist legislation, are expected to be the main points. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 09:14:12 EST 2001 Back to the top

Netherlands Supreme Court dismisses case against President
CDN, 22 March 2001. A case filed in the Supreme Court of the Netherlands against President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga demanding that she be arrested and produced before the Court was dismissed, according to reliable information received from The Hague. Attorney of the Supreme Court, Netherlands Mr. Schoorl had filed this case on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees there. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 21:32:42 EST 2001 Back to the top

Norway's Foreign Minister to meet Sri Lanka's President
NorwayPost, march 20. Norway's Foreign Minister to meet Sri Lanka's President Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland will on Tuesday meet Sri Lanka's President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, in Brussels. The two will discuss the ongoing peace process in the Asian nation. Norway's special envoy to Sri Lanka, Erik Solheim, will also take part in the meeting. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 09:15:43 EST 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka recall World Cup hero
BBC Sport Online, Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 07:11 GMT . Sri Lanka have recalled their 1996 World Cup wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana for the three-match one-day series against England. Kaluwitharana replaces Kumar Sangakkara, who kept wicket in the recently concluded Test series that England won 2-1. Though Sangakkara batted well, averaging 43 with a highest score of 95, his keeping was untidy. Kaluwitharana, who opened the innings with Sanath Jayasuriya in the 1996 World Cup tournament that Sri Lanka won, was sidelined after Sri Lanka's disastrous tour of South Africa last year. The Sri Lanka selectors have not yet announced the rest of the team. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 07:54:53 EST 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka axe World Cup hero  - BBC South Asia

Tigers stage suicide blast to sink navy gunboat, Mar 21 2001 10:22 IST. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels staged a suicide attack against two navy gunboats, sinking one of them, the defence ministry here said. Rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched the attack against the Israeli-built Dvora gunboats off the coast of Mullaitivu in northeastern Sri Lanka, ministry spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 00:51:12 EST 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka housing project model for capital market development
Northernlight, march 19. The Asian Development Bank has approved an equity investment of up to $360,000 in the proposed NDB Housing Bank, a new market-based financial institution in Sri Lanka. The institution will provide housing finance and help alleviate housing shortages. The institution is an example of the types of projects supported by the Capital Markets team of ADB's Private Sector Group (PSG). More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 00:44:18 EST 2001 Back to the top

EU, Sri Lanka Sign Accord on Opening Textiles Markets
northernlight, march 16. The European Union (EU) and Sri Lanka signed on Friday an agreement on the liberalization of textiles markets between the two sides. The agreement lifts all textiles quotas set by the EU with Sri Lanka in exchange for tariff reductions by the South Asian nation, said the European Commission, the EU's executive body. More...
Published: Wed Mar 21 00:46:00 EST 2001 Back to the top

Lankan housemaids seek fortunes in Singapore
India Abroad, 22 March. SRI Lankan women have set their sights on finding their pot of gold in Singapore as employment agents from the island state began recruiting hundreds of housemaids Thursday. More...
Published: Thu Mar 22 19:14:55 EST 2001 Back to the top

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