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New weapons bolster Army fire-power


New weapons bolster Army fire-power

by Shamindra Ferdinando
The military yesterday said that acquisition of two powerful weapons systems have considerably improved army’s fire power.

These system were among other arms, ammunition, equipment and various other "items" ordered to strengthen the security forces tasked with countering the LTTE offensive in the peninsula. However, the military believes that the two systems that had sharply increased army’s firepower would pave the way for massive assaults on the enemy.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga earlier assured that her government would provide powerful armaments and urged the security forces to repulse the LTTE.

A senior officer yesterday said that one system acquired from a friendly country that has been helping Sri Lanka’s war effort against separatist LTTE has already become operational in the peninsula.

He said that the forces had used this particular system with success against terrorist targets in the past two weeks.

(CENSORED)

The sources said that another system, in use with the former Warsaw Pact armies too, had been acquired and already reached Sri Lanka. The military said that the second system acquired from a friendly East European country will become operational in the Jaffna peninsula shortly. A Brigadier was sent there to ensure the speedy airlift of the system widely deployed in the former East Germany and other countries where former Warsaw Pact armies were deployed.

The sources said that small groups of Sri Lankan officers had been already trained as part of the deal to acquire and deploy these two systems.

The East European country from where Sri Lanka acquired armoured fighting vehicles [APVs] some time ago has offered to sell more weapons systems, the sources said adding that the acquired system was airlifted in giant F1 76 aircraft.

The sources said that the ongoing acquisition would bolster the artillery regiment. Before the government ordered the ongoing acquisitions, the regiment deployed 152 mm, 130 mm and 122 mm artillery and various types of mortars.

The sources said that apart from the Major General and the Brigadier sent to acquire the two weapons systems to enhance the artillery regiment, another officer had visited another country to explore the possibility of acquiring some other items including body armour [flack jackets]


20% water tariff hike in the offing?

by Chittaranjan de Silva
A 20% increase in water rates is in the offing, official sources indicated.

A revised tariff structure will be introduced in the future, but there will be no immediate increase despite a bigger financial commitment to meet climbing electricity costs, a National Water Supplies and Drainage Board (NWSDB) official said.

The proposed water rates hike comes in the wake of the recent electricity, telecom and LPG gas price increases which have sent shockwaves among the consumers and pushed up the cost of living.

NWSDB’s acting General Manager, S. Weeraratne however said that the board "had not yet decided on a rate hike".

"We will have to wait for the government to give a directive before any rate increase is considered for implementation", he said.

When asked whether the increase in electricity charges had added to the water board’s expenditure, Weeraratne said that 45% of the revenue is at present channelled to meet electricity charges.

"Our expenditure has certainly increased," he said indicating that a tariff revision would be inevitable in the future.


Cold comfort from Lords

With just one week to go for the Cricket Board elections, there have been a desperate exchange of faxes between interested parties here and the International Cricket Council in London about the ICC Executive Board decision banning anyone ``associated with the gambling or betting industry in any form’’ being appointed to any member country or ICC Board or Committee.

But they have received cold comfort from Lords. Mr. Dammika Ranatunga, the BCCSL chief executive was told by the ICC’s General Manager R.M.G. Hill: ``The Board resolution is in force and is valid and binding......Its effect is to render ineligible for membership of ICC any member country.


2000 families reject LTTE call to leave

by Shamindra Ferdinando
Thousands of people appeared to have rejected an LTTE call to keep out of their homes in (CENSORED) officials and civilians based in Batticaloa said yesterday.

The LTTE’s so called Ampara-Batticaloa Political Wing had distributed leaflets two weeks ago requesting people to co-operate with their plans (CENSORED)

The warning prompted over 2000 families to flee villages in Vavunathivu beginning May 22. However, they started to return to their villages five days later, a parliamentarian based in the east said adding that the people appeared to have ignored the LTTE warning.

Terrorist mounted several unsuccessful mortar attacks on security forces positions at Vavunathivu and Kallady areas. A mortar fired by terrorists hit a house situated near Kallady army detachment killing seven civilians and wounding at least three on May 24 night. The victims included children.

Despite the deadly attack, people started to return to their villages, Parathicherai, Kanankudah, Karayankanthivu, Kuruncha-munai, Manigikaddu, Mandapathadi and Karaveddi (CENSORED)

The attack on civilians at Kallady came just four days after terrorists killed at least 15 civilians and wounded two dozen when they fired artillery at the Kaithady elders home in the Jaffna peninsula.

A government official in Batticaloa said that (CENSORED) However, security forces have been able to contain terrorist activity, the security forces said adding that last week’s two-hour battle outside the Badulla junction police commando detachment had given a lot of confidence to the security forces. At least 1east 17 terrorists, mostly female cadres died and about 50 wounded in action. Police did not suffer losses.


Annual Poson Pinkama of Situlpauwa Raja Maha Viharaya

The Annual Poson Pinkama of the historic Situlpauwa Raja Maha Viharaya will be held on 16th, 17th & 18th June 2000 as usual.

The series of these poson pinkamas are held under the guidance and patronage of Ven Keerthi Sri Gunaratana Watt-ahene Ratanasara Nayake Thera and Unawattuna Ratanajothi Thera. The Incumbent at these pinkamas pride of place will be given to Seela, Bhavana, Bana Sermons, Dhamma discussion, Buddha Phoojas, Bodhi Phoojas and other religious rituals.

On the Poson Full Moon Day there will be an all night pirith chanting to make blessings to the country.

The sacred historic Situlpauwa premises will be illuminated.

As in the past, the illumination of Situlpauwa will be done by Upali Group of Companies on 16th June 2000. The lights will be switched on by Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Health & Indigenous Medicine, Sri Rohana Janaranjana Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development. Priyankara Jayaratne, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Fisheries NWP and Chamal Rajapakse, Deputy Minister Agriculture will also grace the occasion.

There will be a live programme on ITN, Lakhanda & Hiru FM on days proceeding from Situlpauwa.

It is expected that as usual over 10,000 devotees will observe Sil and an equal number will visit the Viharaya for the observance religious rites.

Necessary steps have been taken to provide basic facilities to devotees who will participate at these Pinkamas.

The Peoplised Bus Service has taken action to provide special bus services from Tissa town to Situlpauwa Raja Maha Viharaya for the duration of the Poson Pinkamas.

Necessary steps have been taken to provide health, water and sanitary facilities to the pilgrims.

Various NGOs and voluntary Organisations have organised Dan Selas and will provide alms to the devotees who will observe Sill.

Organisers have arranged dansaias to provide food day and night.


Thailand becomes hub of Tiger gun running

BANGKOK, June 3 (AFP) — Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have made Thailand a hub of their Southeast Asian gun-running and fund-raising activities, sources close to Thai military intelligence said.

The source told AFP the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers, had been operating a sizeable base on a Thailand 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the southwest coast tourist resort of Phuket.

Following Thai newspaper reports relating to the existence of the base in mid-May, Thai police engaged in a cover-up to prevent details of the Tigers’ presence being revealed, the source said.

Thai government officials have denied the existence of the base, although army chief General Surayud Chulanont has told reporters the militry has known of Tiger operations in southern Thailand for sometime.

The Bangkok Post reported that an army intelligence unit had photographed Tamil rebels transferring weapons to the island on May 25.

In response to the Post report, Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai told reporters that the Phuket area "may be the smuggling route... but there is no Tamil base in Thailand".

Phuket governor Charnchai Sunthornmat had previously dismissed reports of the Tigers presence near Phuket as being the "suspicions of a foreign news agency".

Sources told AFP the alleged base near Phuket was just the tip of the Tiger Iceberg in Thailand, with LTTE funding activities and arms smuggling also taking place in Bangkok and in waters just off the Thai coast.

Earlier this year, shipping news publication Lloyd’s List reported the Tigers had shifted Southeast Asia operations from Myanmar to Thailand after diplomatic pressure on the Yangon Junta in 1996 had enforced the move.

The Nation daily reported on Saturday that Thai police suspected a shipyard near Phuket of producing speedboats for the Tigers.

Local newspapers had previously reported that Thai authorities had found a half-built submarine, believed to belong to the LTTE, on a southern Thai island.

The craft, bearing similarities to a vessel seized by Sri Lankan government forces in an area off northern Sri Lanka, was possibly for laying mines or conducting surprise raids, the Bangkok Post said.

The shipyard was "partly owned by a Tamil separatist sympathizer", it said, quoting government sources.

The boat parts were believed to have been imported by a Tamil holding a Norwegian passport, who had been arrested in Thailand on April 10 for smuggling, sources said.

Following the arrest of the Tamil Norwegian, Thai marine police found 5,000 litres (1,300 gallons) of fuel, LTTE propaganda, sophisticated communications equipment and military uniforms on board his boat.

Army chief Surayud had previously told reporters the Tamil Tigers were setting up companies in Thailand to act as smokescreens for arms purchases.

Sri Lanka has repeatedly urged Southeast Asian nations to block gun-running and fund raising operations by the rebels.

The Thai foreign ministry has said that Thailand and Sri Lanka exchange regular intelligence information on Tiger activities here.

Thai officials have said that they still lack solid evidence to convict the smugglers and that caution must be used when dealing with the Tigers, who have a worldwide network.


4000 more troops for Jaffna

By Amal Jayasinghe
Colombo: June 3 (AFP) — Sri Lanka has deployed another 4,000 soldiers to defend the northern peninsula of Jaffna where some 30,000 troops are resisting a major Tamil rebel offensive, a senior minister said over state radio Saturday.

Energy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte said the military situation in Jaffna was still critical, but with an improvement in troop morale, reinforcements and new weapons, they were able to defend Jaffna.

The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) mounted a ferocious offensive and captured three key army bases at the entrance to the Jaffna peninsula in April.

With the spectacular military gains, the Tigers began pushing towards Jaffna, raising concern for the safety of 30,000 government soldiers and half a million civilians in the region.

However, Ratwatte, who is also the junior defence minister, said the military had stopped retreating and had begun a counter-offensive against the LTTE, as the political leadership was determined to defend Jaffna.

"This is a very critical period, a very decisive moment," Ratwatte said in a phone-in program over state radio. He said a large number of deserters were rejoining as the military was gaining the upper hand.

Some 4,000 troops were already on their way to Jaffna via the north-eastern port of Trincomalee, the minister said.

He said several organisations, some with government backing, had led an anti-war campaign in recent years and that had helped to demoralise soldiers as well as discourage youngsters from joining the military.

"They keep saying that the war is cruel, war is bad. Perhaps they were not aware that this war is an extension of a political strategy to bring peace to the country," Ratwatte said.

He urged legislators in the 225-member national parliament to send at least 100 young men and women from each constituency to join the army to boost the battle against the Tigers.

He said the defence budget had been drastically increased following the upsurge in fighting since April and appealed to the public to bear higher living costs triggered by the additional war spending.

Two days ago, the minister said a shake-up of Sri Lanka’s field commanders and new weapons boosted morale and reversed the "withdrawal syndrome" of troops defending Jaffna.

The government announced on Tuesday that troops equipped with new weapons had been able to stop the "rolling onslaught" by the LTTE, who are attempting to retake the town of Jaffna.

Ratwatte said LTTE rebels were shelling the peninsula’s main harbour and the air base — the only lifeline to the troops — causing a "dangerous situation" when he visited two weeks ago.

"When I went to Palaly (air base) on May 18, my helicopter could not touch down because hundreds of artillery shells were falling all round us," said Ratwatte, who holds the rank of an army general "I had to jump out."

He said the troops in Jaffna had suffered low morale since November, when the LTTE captured 10 key army bases in the northern mainland in a matter of just five days.

"I noticed that the morale was low and they were also suffering from a withdrawal syndrome," he said.

"They were drawing lines behind the frontline so that they could withdraw," Ratwatte said.

"I told them, in future there will be no drawing lines behind you. You only go forward."


Inter-Parliamentary Union to take up rights violation case

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which is the World Organisation of Parliaments based in Geneva, has decided to refer to its council a complaint made by UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena regarding the violation of his rights.

Dr. Jayawardena said in a statement that the IPU had taken this decision on May 6 after confidentially studying the complaint.

According to him, a five-member committee of the IPU examines complaints regarding ‘Human Rights’ of parliamentarians in order to settle issues through dialogue with the authorities in countries concerned.

Dr. Jayawardena said that this committee had decided to go public with his case since a satisfactory settlement was not possible, which meant that it would receive publicity in Parliaments around the world.

He further said the committee would take up his case at its next meeting to be held in Geneva in July this year.

The committee, in January this year, had written to President Chandrika Kumaratunga regarding the complaint, Dr. Jayawardena said.


Three doyens of journalism honoured with excellence awards

The Journalism Awards of Excellence Committee of The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka has decided to honour three senior journalists with Special Awards for their outstanding contribution to Sri Lankan journalism for over 40 years and in appreciation of their commitment to professional values.

The journalists so honoured are Mr. S. Subasinghe, Mr. S. Gurunathan and Mr. Clarence Fernando.

They will be honoured at The Guild’s Annual Journalism Awards of Excellence presentations at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel this 4 evening.

Twelve other Awards of Excellence and Eighteen Honourable Mentions for 1999 will also be made at the ceremony.

Hailing from Weveldeniya, Siriw-ardene Subasinghe was among the pioneering team that launched the Lake House Sinhala evening"

Sinniah Gurun-athan entered the field of journalism in December 1959.

Born August 1966 till June 1985 he worked as the Trincomalee Corres-pondent for Dinapathi/Chinthamani and Sun/Weekend published by the Independent Newsp-apers Ltd.

Clarence Fernando was one of the more vibrant newsmen recruited by D. R. Wijewardena of Lake House in the second half of the 1940s. The six long years of World War II had had a somewhat permanent dampening effect on the front pages of both its dailies - the ‘Ceylon Daily News’ and the ‘Ceylon Observer’. News coverage was dominated by Reuter for the daily lead and a long winded local report - usually about ‘gluts’ of onion supplies and the like - of doubtful interest to readers, took up what was referred to in newsroom jargon as the ‘right hand lead story’. All, very dull and uninspiring.

The dapper young man, just demobilised from the cypher rooms of the Royal Ceylon Navy turned out to be just what the ‘Ceylon Observer’ wanted. He seemed to have been born with ink in his veins. The little feature he wrote about Mutwal where he lived, at the request of his interviewer, ECB Wijeyesinghe the News Editor of the ‘Ceylon Observer’ left no doubt about that.

"Clarence Fern-ando rose from the ranks to be News Editor of the ‘Observer’ and later Editor of the ‘Daily News’. He succeeded ECB Wijeyesinghe as Chief of PTC Reuter, and as Bureau Chief of Reuters in Sri Lanka after the Press Trust Ceylon was terminated.


UNP and PA can’t bluff and betray the Sinhalese any more — Sihala Urumaya

The Sihala Urumaya held its inaugural meeting in the Southern Province in Handunugoda Estate, Ahangama. The meeting was presided over by Malinga Gunaratna — the Southern Province Co-ordinator for the party.

Tilak Karunaratna MP said "I will be leaving parliament and the UNP on the 6th. I have been given only 10 minutes to make my last speech. Even those accused of taking bribes were readily given more time. Today the Sihala Urumaya has posed a challenge to both the UNP and the P.A. They now know they cannot bluff and betray the Sinhalese anymore. We of the Sihala Urumaya cannot be bought up with offers of positions and power. We are leaving positions and power to serve the cause of the Sinhala people. I have received several telephone calls from supporters opposing my statement that we are aspiring for 15-20 seats for the first time. They say "no the Sinhala people are fed up with these weak, lying treacherous political parties. The people are with you — you are going to be surprised by the result. We know we can form a government within the next 10 years. We are the voice of the people. If they give us the support on the first occasion, then a better future will dawn for the Sinhala people. We are just, we are fair — but we will not betray".

S. L. Gunasekera, the President of the party said "we have the most learned and committed men in our party. We will not only unite the Sinhalese but we will soon present a comprehensive manifesto to the people. We do what we say — and say only when we can do. We make no childish promises like chewing gum and bracelets. We are here to give the Sinhala people their lost soul.

"We will not go on bended knees to the LTTE like the PA and the UNP. We will crush the LTTE. Our security forces can do it — but they have got to be given the proper motivation. We may be the smaller race in this region — but let us try to be the best. "What matters is not the size of the dog — but the size of the fight in the dog".

Malinga Gunaratna, The southern co-ordinator stated that "the response to the Sihala Urumaya has been overwhelming. Some of the leading personalities in ten district are seeking nominations. We are in the process of formulating our list. We will give the people, not professional politicians — who make politics their job — we will give you professional men, who are of independent means and who can therefore serve you without fear or favour.

"We are not like the MEP or the Bhoomiputhra Party, we are not confined to Colombo. We will take the Sihala Urumaya — from the hut on top of the mountain to the fishing wadiya on the beach. This is where our strength lies.

Champika Ranawaka — National Organizer speaking in length said "funds are pouring into the Sihala Urumaya from overseas. The Sinhala community overseas have realized that at last there is a powerful party to fight for the Sinhalese".

Major General Tilak Paranagama paid a glowing tribute to General Janaka Perera for the work being done in Jaffna.

Dr. Neville Karunatilleke, the former Governor of the Central Bank, now treasurer of the party also spoke. Chandana Uluwitiya, a leading lawyers from Galle posed many questions.


Tribute to Prof. A. J. Wilson
He fought relentlessly to end civil strife

From Kirthie Abeysekera in Toronto
A. J. Wilson (professor, political scientist, author) passed away peacefully at his home in Toronto on Wednesday, May 31, 2000. He was 71. Dr. Wilson was the son of the late K. R. Wilson and Elizabeth Dutton.

One of the world’s leading experts on Sri Lankan politics and Tamil nationalism, Dr. Wilson studied at the University of Ceylon and the London School of Economics. Returning to Sri Lanka he began teaching at the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya where he held the founding chair in Political Science.

In 1972 he accepted the position of Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of New Brunswick. During this period he was awarded fellowships at universities around the world including Oxford. He also served as a constitutional adviser to the President of Sri Lanka and acted as an intermediary between the President and the Tamil United Liberation Front.

After his retirement from the University of New Brunswick in 1994, Dr. Wilson was appointed Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Wilson was the author and editor of ten major works on Asian politics including: "The Break-up of Sri Lanka" and "An Introduction to Civics and Government" which influenced several generations of Sri Lankan students.

Throughout his life Dr. Wilson fought passionately for an end to the civil strife in Sri Lanka. He was guided by the same principles as his late father-in-law S. J. V. Chelvanayakam Q.C., founder and leader of Sri Lanka’s Federal Party: that to achieve a lasting peace, the Tamil people of Sri Lanka must have the right of self-determination.

Dr. Wilson is survived by his wife, Susili, daughter Malliha Wilson and her husband Helder Travassos (Toronto); daughter Maithili Wilson (Toronto); son Kumanan (Ottawa); two sisters, Archa Thurairatnam (Colombo) and Mahes Ambalavaner and brother Rajah (both of Melbourne, Australia).

Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday June 3, 2000.


Sir Arthur C Clarke receives Knighthood

Colombo — Sir Arthur Clarke was presented with the award of Knight Bachelor by Her Excellency Linda Duffield, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, at a private ceremony and reception at her Colombo residence, Westminster House, on Friday May 26.

The High Commissioner presented the insignia and the citation on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, amidst a small but distinguished gathering of Sir Arthur’s friends, a few officials and diplomats. The presentation was organised in Colombo as Sir Arthur was unable to travel to the UK due to Post-polio Syndrome.

In a brief speech, the High Commissioner referred to Sir Arthur’s wide range of achievements, and said that the knighthood was the latest of a long series of honours which pay tribute to his talent and vision. "This is the man who envisioned satellite communication in 1945, and whom some have described as one of the greatest scientific seers of our time," she added.

The High Commissioner also referred to Sir Arthur’s early career at H. M. Exchequer and Audit Department, and said that it was appropriate for a former Crown Servant to be honoured by the Queen. "Who can imagine what dizzy heights he might have reached, had he continued in the civil service!" she said.

In accepting the award, Sir Arthur thanked Her Majesty and the government for this gesture, and said: "I am indeed very, very happy - I feel I have achieved ‘the best of both worlds’ by having the presentation in Colombo. If I had been fit enough to go to Buckingham Palace, I could only have taken two guests with me. So I am delighted to have so many of my local friends present here."

Sir Arthur was knighted in recognition of his services to literature in the Queen’s New Year Honours List of 1998. It was to have been presented to him by HRH Prince Charles during his visit to Sri Lanka in February 1998, but Sir Arthur requested that the event be postponed when a British tabloid made allegations against him, in an apparent attempt to embarrass the Prince. Police inquiries in Sri Lanka quickly proved them to be total fabrications, and Sir Arthur’s name was completely cleared.

Sir Arthur had earlier been honoured by Her Majesty with a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) which he accepted in person at Buckingham Palace in 1989.
(News release from Sir Arthur’s office)


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