Jungle Telegraph

4th February 2001

By Alia

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No clear-cut ruling

The absence of a clear , cut ruling from the Ministry of Defence over who should not be invited for official functions of the three services appears to be causing a great deal of confusion.

Two weeks ago, a top Navy officer who retired prematurely, was invited for the annual get together of the volunteer officers. That appeared to be the first invitation he had received since he quit.

Officials responsible for extending invitations had been ordered to delete his name. The reason ? The officer concerned filed legal action against the Navy leadership. The new Commander, Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri, directed that the order be rescinded.

If that was the case in the Navy, in the Sri Lanka Army, a top officer charged with criminal misappropriation is not only in the invitation list but has been seen in the past weeks at many official functions. The charge revolves around the alleged misappropriation of items that were for use or were used by soldiers.

One is not guilty until the charge is proved, one may argue. But what most senior officials say is that there should be a standard rule laid down by the Ministry of Defence.


Major General Janaka Perera, the Army's Chief of Staff, who retired last Wednesday, is to get a Government appointment.

The offer was made to him by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, when he called on her last Monday. The meeting was at Maj. Gen. Perera's request.

The veteran soldier turned down offers from his superiors for a farewell dinner. Instead, he chose to take part in a stag farewell lunch at the Station Officers mess where the menu included mutton buriyani, plain Basmati rice, chicken curry, cuttlefish, cadju curry and salad.

In his farewell speech, Maj. Gen. Perera, made it a point to refer to allegations from his adversaries who said he was very ambitious. He said one should have ambitions in their lives. Otherwise, they would be like birds without feathers.

The moral seems to be clear. One needs ambition to fly.

His parent unit comprising field engineers at Panagoda and commandos at Ganemulla, felicitated him last Tuesday.

Casualty of war

Veteran infantryman and now Military Spokesman, Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne, appears to be a casualty in his new job of keeping the media informed.

It transpired at a seminar arranged for state media by the Department of Information last week that Brigadier Karunaratne had to personally fork out a good part of his cellular phone bill. That is for calls the media made to check on new developments.

He is perhaps the only one who is spending his own money to keep the nation and the world informed about the ongoing separatist war.

Quite a change from others whose travel and other claims include GST and National Security Levy, among others, although they are not collected by the State.

A case that warrants the Army Commander's immediate attention.

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