The Lanka Academic

JUNE 9, 2001 EST, USA
VOL. 2, NO. 64

Headline Summary
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T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Lanka heading for constitutional crisis
gulf-news, June 8. Sri Lanka was heading for a constitutional crisis over the supremacy of Parliament after the Supreme Court yesterday issued an order blocking the Speaker from immediately considering an opposition initiated impeachment motion to remove the Chief Justice of the country over a series of allegations including misconduct.Among the series of allegations calling for the removal of the Chief Justice is committing adultery and that he interfered in the legal process connected with his own divorce case. He is also accused of dismissing and transferring some of the judges who failed to give orders supporting the ruling PA or their party supporters. The ruling came after courts considered three separate Fundamental Rights petitions filed by three lawyers who have been supportive of the government. More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 17:54:38 EDT 2001

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!

ValuComOnline: Call Sri Lanka
Send in a question to the veteran Sri Lankan politician, Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara and receive his answer! We are pleased to announce the fifth guest at our online Q&A sessions at The Lanka Academic.

Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara began his political career as a student activist in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party in 1958. He was elected to then National Assembly in 1970 as a member of Parliament from Kiriella in the United Front government of the SLFP, LSSP and the Ceylon Communist Party. In 1975 he split from the LSSP of Dr. N.M.Perera, Dr. Colvin R. De Silva et al. to launch the Nava Lanka Sama Samaja Party along with Dr. Vickramabhahu Karunaratne. Although defeated in the general election of 1977 Mr. Nanayakkara was back in parliament in 1989 as a member of the United Socialist Alliance(USA). He rejoined the LSSP and the PA in 1994 and was elected as an MP. in 199, he crossed over to the opposition. In 1982 and 1999, he also contested as a Presidential candidate. To ask a question, click here.

Do you have a recommendation for a future guest at our Q&A sessions AND you know how to put us in contact with him/her? If yes, email us.

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Solheim Rejects "sideline" allegations
Saroj Pathirana in London. Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim strongly rejected allegations by Sri Lankan and foreign media that he has been sidelined by a high-level delegation as facilitators for peace talks between Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil Tigers. " I can only say that everything is exaggerated in the media" Mr. Solheim told The Lanka Academic.

" I can confirm you that while the Foreign Minister and the deputy Minister will be involved in high- level, myself and Sri Lanka’s Norway envoy Mr. Westborg will continue to act as the facilitating team" he said.

Referring to the political differences mentioned in the media with the Norway government, Mr. Solheim, who serves as an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that though it is true that he is a member of the opposition, he has served for two consecutive governments and his political opinions have never effected his role as a facilitator.
Published: Sat Jun 9 14:02:33 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Oslo peace envoy dropped from key Sri Lanka talks  -

JVP's support base growing at the expense of PA and UNP: survey
Roy Mendis in Colombo. The latest opinion poll conducted by Colombo University in collaboration with Germany's Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has found that since September 2000, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna's (JVP's) stock has risen significantly while those of the ruling Peoples' Alliance (PA) and the opposition United National Party (UNP) have fallen marginally.

In an earlier survey conducted in September 2000, 47% of the respondents had said that the PA was capable of solving the country's critical problems.But by April 2001, this had fallen to 46%.The percentage of people prefering the UNP had declined from 34 to 33.But the percentage of those opting for the JVP had gone up from 12 to 17.

The sample size was 4174 drawn from 15 disitricts of Sri Lanka other than those in the war-torn North and East.

Commenting on the JVP's growing presence in peoples' minds,Prof.S.T.Hettige, Colombo University sociologist and the Director of the survey, said: "This is an important development which deserves careful analysis."

The survey,however, has its drawbacks.It was not conducted in the war torn North and East.This means that the views of a very large section of the Tamil community have not been accounted for.To this Prof.Hettige adds some other words of caution:On the perceived growth in the preference for the JVP he says that the rise may not get translated into votes during elections because voting behaviour is often influenced by diverse considerations and circumstances.Then there are a large number of undecided and uncommitted voters (34%) who introduce a significant element of uncertainty about the electoral strength of any given political party.

The survey has some interesting findings about the character of the support base of the various political formations in Sri Lanka.

If one takes the youngest age group (18-24), JVP bags the single largest share of 40%.A youthful outfit essentially,it has the support of only 4% of the 60 plus age group.In the case of the PA and the UNP, the bulk of the supporters belong to the middle and older age groups.More females (53%) than males (40%) had opted for PA.Only 12% of the female respondents as against 20% of the male respondents had cited the JVP as the prefered party.In the case of the UNP,the gender difference was not so marked.

The PA seems to be a predominantly Sinhala party.Only 31% of the Sinhalese had opted for the UNP.The survey found that educational attainment was related to the choice of political parties.While the PA drew support from the entire range of educational attainments,surprisingly,the UNP's support base shrank with increasing education.On the other hand,the JVP's support base increased rapidly with increasing educational attainment.

Are people wanting a change in government? The survey found that only 35% of the respondents felt that a change of government was called for.About 25.5% felt that no party was capable of addressing the critical issues of the day. Change was sought more by the younger age groups than the older ones.While the young were equally divided,only 23% of the 60 plus felt that a change of regime was desirable.

As on date,therefore,Sri Lankans seem to be for stabilty and no change.Indeed, the pro-change JVP is a growing phenomenon,but it will be a while before it can be deemed to be a serious contender for the top slot.
Published: Sat Jun 9 04:09:50 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Mahanama to launch autobiography in Dubai
gulf-news, june 9. To a query as to why he named the book "Retired Hurt", he said: ""Retired Hurt" was coined by my father. It was selected out of over 15 suggested titles. It was most appropriate as it represents the way in which a batsman can terminate his innings. I had retired prematurely, as a direct consequence of the selectors' decision to drop me from both Test and One-day squads, despite being the second highest scorer and four runs less than the leader in the last World Cup. I thought it was appropriate to place my cricket life story on record, along with my experiences. The only other Test cricketer from Sri Lanka who has done so is Aravinda De Silva." More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 18:01:15 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Concerns over increased drug trafficking to Lanka
The Economic Times, june 1. INDIAN anti-narcotics officials are concerned over a sharp increase in sea borne smuggling of narcotics from India to Sri Lanka, with trafficking of heroin along the coasts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states registering a six-fold increase in recent years. More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 22:11:25 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka's constitutional crisis deepens, Jun 09 2001 11:29 IST. Sri Lanka's parliamentary Speaker Anura Bandaranaike has put off a foreign tour amid a deepening constitutional crisis after the Supreme Court issued a ban on him, officials said Saturday. Bandaranaike who was due to leave for London later Saturday delayed his travel plans amid fears that the ruling party may pull off a surprise in his absence, parliamentary sources said. He said under the circumstances, Bandaranaike feared that his absence would leave room for the ruling party to manoeuvre and even reject the impeachment resolution against the chief justice. More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 02:46:43 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Jagland: Stronger political engagement needed in Sri Lanka
Norway Post , June 9. Returning from talks with Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunga, Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland says it is now time for stronger political engagement by Norway, in order to make headway in the stalled peace negotiations. Jagland said his talks with Kumaratunga reviewed the status of the peace efforts, in order to decide how to move forward.Norway's Foreign Minister said he would now schedule meetings with the LTTE guerillas, but that no venue or dates had been set. More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 14:43:02 EDT 2001 Back to the top

8 former captains to guide cricket in Sri Lanka
Times of India (Breaking News), june 9. The interim cricket authority has set up a committee of eight former captains to run the most popular game in the island nation, a cricket official said on Saturday.The committee of eight former cricket captains will have full authority to make decisions concerning its performance, Malalasekera said."I admit our country is getting a bad name outside. This is the reason we have appointed the cricket committee to look after the actual game," he said. More...
Published: Sat Jun 9 14:23:00 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Solheim superceded: Norwegian govt.will take lead role in peace process
Roy Mendis in Colombo. The Norwegian Special Envoy and Facilitator Mr.Erik Solheim has been superceded and from now on, the lead role in the peace process from the Norwegian side will be played by the Norwegian government,or more specifically,the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

A press release issued by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs here today said that at the meeting between the Sri Lankan President Mrs.Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr.Thorbjoern Jagland on thursday "it was decided that the Government of Norway will henceforth participate at a high level to advance the peace process involving the LTTE."

Though Mr.Solheim was part of Mr.Jagland's entourage,and he was the hands on man in the peace process, he was not invited to participate in the Chandrika-Jagland talks.

The Sri Lankan government has for some time been wanting to have the Norwegian government as such on board for a variety of reasons.The most important of which was to give the Norwegian role greater power and legitimacy and the peace process greater credibility and continuity.Though Mr.Solheim is an accredited representative of the Oslo regime,he is an opposition politician.The Sri Lankan foreign ministry would rather relate to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, sources close to the government said.

Mr.Solheim would still be the facilitator,but the Norwegian Foreign Office would be playing a more active role in the peace process than hitherto.
Published: Fri Jun 8 10:47:14 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Solheim sidelined in peace process?  - The Hindu (International)
Envoy dropped as Norway tries to revive Sri Lanka peace bid  -

Lanka seeks quid pro quo to lift ban on LTTE
Roy Mendis in Colombo, 1.04 PM SLT Friday,June 8, 2001. Sri Lanka has apparently told Norway that it could lift the ban on the LTTE if the LTTE were to give some concrete and acceptable proof that it is genuinely interested in finding a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the ethnic question.

Only a select few are privy to what President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr.Thorbjoern Jagland when he met her here late thursday evening.And these are sworn to secrecy.But given the domestic and international pulls and pressures to which it is now subject, the government is apparently open to the idea of lifting the ban on the LTTE provided the latter gives ample proof of its peaceful intentions.

A source close to the government said that the least that the LTTE could do was to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which it had agreed to do.The government had also agreed to sign it,but the LTTE suddenly came up with the demand for de-proscription ahead of talks and scuttled the move.The government could also insist that the LTTE make a public,international declaration that it was giving up violence and terrorism.In fact on thursday,President Kumaratunga asked the LTTE to "stop playing the fool" and come for talks.

Said Justice Minister Mr.Batty Weerakoon: "The government has to be sure that the LTTE is not using the issue of the ban as a ploy to delay or scuttle the peace process.The LTTE should show very positive signs of commitment to finding a solution through peace negotiations.Why can't it reopen the Vavuniya-Jaffna road for civilian traffic to prove its commitment to peace ?"

The LTTE is talking about the need to restore normalcy in the war torn areas to create a conducive atmosphere for peace talks.But both Mr.Weerakoon and his cabinet colleague Mr.Douglas Devananda of the EPDP, feel that as a quid pro quo for the lifting the restrictions on the flow of goods and people in and out of the Wanni, the LTTE should also lift the curbs imposed by it.An obvious expectation is the opening of the Jaffna -Vavuniya Main Supply Route (A9 highway).
Published: Fri Jun 8 03:00:08 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Asian Human Rights Commission Hails the Impeachment against CJ
Saroj Pathirana in London. Saturday 09/06/01 1715 GMT

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) praised the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva saying that the motion was an opportunity to address the crisis in the Justice system in Sri Lanka. It said that residing the power in the Parliament to probe the allegations against the chief justice was essential tool for the effective intervention of the legislature to ensure that the basic constitutional principles were safeguarded. According to the AHRC, "it is not just a matter of privilege of the Parliament but the very principles of a liberal democracy."

The AHRC, based in Hong Kong, recalled their repeated attempts to draw the attention that the SL justice system is facing a huge crisis. "This crisis contributes to the large volume of human rights violations that have occurred in the country. In addition, the crisis in the justice system also contributes to the protracted civil conflict related to the ethnic issue. This loss of faith in the justice system has created doubts about the enforcement of any of the agreements that may be reached to resolve this conflict. This lack of faith is thus a contributory factor that retards the negotiating process of the conflict", the statement signed by AHRCís Bruce Van Voorhis stated.

The senior members of the judiciary have also publicly warned of the crisis, the statement said. Remarks by the president of the Court of Appeal in a recent speech "I decided it opportune to draw your mind to a burning issue in the current legal and social scene: the emergence of the ominous sign of a breakdown in effective law enforcement and the rule of law", was an example, according to the HR watchdog.

But the decision by a panel of three Supreme Court judges, appointed by the CJ himself, that the speaker of the Parliament does not have the authority or the power to appoint a parliamentary select committee to probe into the impeachment motion came as a surprise, it said. "This judgement has been heavily criticised for its potential to trigger an unprecedented conflict between Parliament and the Judiciary and thus the possibility of creating a constitutional crisis. A former Supreme Court justice, K. M. M. B. Kulathunga, in an interview with the BBC Sinhala service stated that "this sort of thing only happens in Sri Lanka. The Constitution clearly states that no other institution can question the procedures of Parliament, which is the sovereign legislative body"." AHRC statement stated.

The HR commission expressed hope that the critical situation faced by the democratic institutions in Sri Lanka since the introduction of the 1978 Constitution will be examined by the highest legislative body in the country and create the opportunity for the Sri Lankan society as a whole to participate in this much-needed process of examining the crisis in its justice system.
Published: Sat Jun 9 13:17:57 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Eleven acquitted of Tamil attack
BBC South Asia, Friday, 8 June, 2001, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK . The Attorney General in Sri Lanka has ordered the acquittal of 11 people accused of killing Tamil detainees. Human rights activists say no reason was given for the acquittal of the suspects, who include three policemen and two security officers. The killings occurred at a rehabilitation camp Bindunuwewe set up to give vocational training to former Tamil rebels.The BBC Colombo correspondent says there's growing concern that the perpetrators of one of Sri Lanka's worst acts of ethnic violence in recent years may never be brought to justice. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 09:33:45 EDT 2001 Back to the top

No confidence motion against government
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 6.10 p.m. SLT Friday June 8. The United National Party today collected nearly 60 signatures from its members for a no confidence motion against the government. The UNP says the Peoples Alliance government led by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge has no moral authority to rule. The motion will be presented next week to parliament.

The UNP says it is confident the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, the Tamil United Liberation Front, the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress will support the motion.

The party is certain the motion of no confidence will gather momentum once the parliamentary debate on the issue begins and that members from the coalition Peoples Alliance will also lend support.

Meanwhile, both the opposition and members of the ruling party will challenge a Supreme Court ruling which issued a Stay Order on Speaker Anura Bandaranaike from appointing a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to probe allegations of mis-conduct and adultery against the Chief Justice.

Deputy Speaker Sarath Munasinghe today told Bandaranaike that the Speaker should not entertain the Stay Order as it violates the supremacy of Parliament and its legislators.

Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and D. M. Jayaratne were today given a copy of the letter initiated by the opposition parties to gather signatures calling upon the Speaker to ignore the court ruling and appoint a PSC to study the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva.

Speaker Anura Bandaranaike is scheduled to travel abroad tomorrow Saturday June 9 and will take a decision on the matter after his return on June 15.
Published: Fri Jun 8 08:23:37 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lanka goes beyond Solheim to seek Norway govt's official involvement
Roy Mendis in Colombo, 1.17 PM SLT Friday June 8,2001. In a series of recent actions, the Sri Lankan government has indicated that it is keen on enlarging,deepening and officialising Norways' involvement in the peace process, going beyond its current semi-official and somewhat indirect involvement through an opposition politician, Mr.Erik Solheim.

Political circles in Colombo see significance in two recent happenings.The first is President Chandrika Kumaratunga's sudden invitation to the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr.Thorbjoern Jagland for talks on the peace process,even as the Norwegian government had designated Mr. Solheim as its Special Envoy and Facilitator.The second is the absence of Mr.Solheim from the Chandrika-Jagland talks on thursday even though he was in town as part of Mr.Jagland's entourage.

An agency report said that the Norwegian Embassy spokesman Mr.Tomas Stangeland explained Mr.Solheim's absence by pointing out that the President's invitation was for Foreign Minister Jagland only.But grapevine has it that the government of Sri Lanka wants to strike a relationship with Norwegian government directly and bring it on board the peace process.

Apparently, there are reasons for Colombo's wanting the Norwegian government's direct involvement.Firstly,Mr.Solheim is not part of the Norwegian government.Secondly,there is a theoretical possibility of his wanting to bow out of the peace process at some point.If he did,the peace process could either stop in its tracks or even get derailed.On the other hand, if the Norwegian government were to get involved in the peace process directly and officially,any such breach would be filled quickly.Thirdly, an official and more direct involvement of Oslo in the process would give Norway's facilitatory role greater credibility,legitimacy and muscle.

Mr.Solheim's conduct as a facilitator has been a bit controversial.Only recently,Prime Minister Mr.Ratnasiri Wickramanayake had told a meeting in Horana that Mr.Solheim was crossing limits,going beyond his role as Facilitator.Any pro-activism on his part tends to be interpreted in South Sri Lanka as a pro-LTTE stance,because the LTTE has been wanting Mr.Solheim and Norway to go beyond mere facilitation to mediation.

According to sources close to the government, Mr.Solheim's strong public condemnation of the role of Operation Agni Kheila in disrupting the peace process and his willingness to express his views in websites have made Colombo uneasy.Colombo has in the past been very sensitive to foreign envoys' public remarks on the domestic situation in Sri Lanka.Not so long ago,Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had ticked off the UN system's envoy in Colombo for his comments on the ethnic situation.
Published: Fri Jun 8 04:07:44 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Norway foreign minister leaves Sri Lanka  - India Abroad
Norway foreign minister meets Kumaratunga  - Times of India (Breaking News)

CWE hits rock bottom
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 6.25 p.m. SLT Friday June 8. The Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) is in debt to no less than eight banks for a sum of over rupees nine billion. The CWEs position of liability to the banks as at May 31, 2001 is for Rs. 9, 580,104/-

The State Enterprise is also in debt to private companies for millions of rupees, so much so, the firms have stopped supplying goods to CWE food outlets.

The CWE has used a total of over rupees four billion for short term loans, import loans, the encashment of O/D facilities and for utilization of funds for loan settlements.

The wholesale enterprise for food has been rolling funds from the eight different banks finally leaving the one time lucrative establishment bankrupt. Some of the banks the CWE is in debt to are the Bank of Ceylon, the Peoples Bank, Hatton National Bank, Citi Bank, Commercial Bank, Sampath Bank, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and the Central Bank.

The CWE is not only in deep financial constraints with the banks but also owes leading commercial & trading establishment's massive sums of money. Unilever Ceylon Limited, Stassens, Nestles and Anchor Milk Foods this week stopped supplying the full quantity of items to the CWE, until outstanding payments with the companies are settled.

Owing Unilever Ceylon Limited over Rs. 30 million, the company has decided it would supply CWE outlets with beggar rations and that too only if the State Enterprise paid at least some of the monies due.

The companies maintain that the CWE does not honour its commitment to the private firms on time and ignore credit deadlines not even establishing any guarantees to meet their debt.

The CWE in addition owes Rs. 56 million to Nestles, and an additional Rs. 45 million to Anchor Milk Foods. A top official at Anchor Milk Foods said the company has stopped supplying all CWE outlets completely until at least Rs. 15 million of the outstanding debt with the firm is paid.

The food establishment is in debt to the Bank of Ceylon for a total of Rs. 5,774,628/- while it owes Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Rs. 1,290,328/-. The CWE debt at the Peoples Bank amounts to Rs. 94,405/- to the Hatton National Bank it owes a sum of Rs. 402,091/-. The deficit at Citi Bank is for Rs. 350,000/-, at Commercial Bank the debt is for Rs. 868,378/- at Sampath Bank for Rs. 120,800/- while its shortfall to the Central Bank is for Rs. 679,474/-.
Published: Fri Jun 8 08:23:38 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lankan cricket board employees being probed: Report
Times of India (Breaking News), Friday . 8 June 2001

Several employees of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka are under investigation for financial irregularities during the previous regime, a press report said. "Several paid employees are under scrutiny," the Daily Mirror said on Friday, quoting sources in the interim committee. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 09:46:37 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka fighting claims seven Tigers, three soldiers, Jun 08 2001 15:32 IST. COLOMBO, June 8 (AFP) - Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed three members of security forces in ambushes in northern Sri Lanka Friday, while soldiers killed seven of the Tiger rebels, the defence ministry said. Gunmen of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked soldiers transporting food for their colleagues in the northern district of Vavuniya, killing two of them, officials said. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 06:47:18 EDT 2001 Back to the top

German remanded over Sri Lanka court contempt, Jun 08 2001 17:55 IST. A German national working in Sri Lanka has been remanded by the Colombo High Court on a contempt charge, police said Friday. The man was remanded until Tuesday for showing disrespect to the court on Thursday. Police said the man had been in court in response to a complaint he had filed against another. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 09:35:53 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Norway FM leaves Sri Lanka after 12-hour visit, Jun 08 2001 09:15 IST. Norway's Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland left here Friday after talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Oslo's stalled peace bid in the island, officials said. Jagland, who was accompanied by Oslo's special peace envoy to Sri Lanka Erik Solheim, left early Friday ending a 12-hour visit, officials said. He held talks with Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, but details of the discussions were not immediately available. However, the Norwegian embassy said Solheim was not invited to the talks with President Kumaratunga. "It was an invitation to the (Norwegian) Foreign Minister and not for Mr. Solheim," embassy spokesman Tomas Stangeland said. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 00:28:33 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lankan remanded for breeding mosquitoes, Jun 08 2001 10:43 IST. COLOMBO, June 8 (AFP) - A magistrate in central Sri Lanka has remanded a bus company manager for ignoring public health warnings and breeding mosquitoes in his yard, a press report said Friday .The Matale bus depot manager was remanded till Monday for haphazardly dumping old tyres in which rain water got collected and provided rich breeding ground for mosquitoes, the Daily Mirror said. More...
Published: Fri Jun 8 03:56:54 EDT 2001 Back to the top

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