Arresting moral decay with temporary ordination
By Nilika Kasturisinghe
A program to temporarily ordain men between the ages of 18 and 40 for a period of two weeks will commence on January 15.

The president of the Buddhist Cultural Centre at Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Ven. Kirima Wimalajothi Thera said this program was being launched with a view to combating the degradation of society mainly due to the conflict between political parties.

"We do not intend to take in children as they are already under the guidance of their teachers, nor persons above the age of 40 as we consider them to be mature," he said.

At the initial stages the program is only for males who will shave their heads and be clad in saffron robes. At a secondary stage there is an intention of taking in females as well.

They, however, will be clad in white and observe the status of dasa sil mathas.

"While those ordained are to continue as bhikkus, those with wives and children will not be asked to stay on," he said.

We intend to teach through this temporary ordination program the importance of living according to the dhamma, the practice of meditation and the importance of human life, he said.

Twenty-five to forty men will be enrolled for the program, while a team comprising about 10 monks will provide guidance to them. The public are welcome to donate alms of vegetarian food and robes for the monks.

Salaries of any public servants who join this program should continue to be paid for the duration, the thera said.

"We will also be happy to encourage and support any other institutions which engage in similar programs," he said.

Countries in which Theravada Buddhism is practiced such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar have similar programs of temporary ordination.

The program would take place under the patronage of Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda at 9.30 a.m. on January 15 at the Buddhist Cultural Centre and at the Meditation Centre in Rananwila, Kahatapitiya, Horana.

SLMC rebellion persists
By Nilika Kasturisinghe
The internal crisis in the SLMC is persisting with the rebel faction at a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe demanding that party leader Rauff Hakeem be stripped of his portfolios.

Parliamentarian Noordeen Mashoor, spokesman for the rebel Athaullah faction, said they had put forward their demand at a three-hour meeting with the premier and he had promised a response within days.

He said they were asking that members of the Athaullah faction be given the portfolios being held by Mr. Hakeem and his supporters.

The rebel spokesman also scoffed at a deadline set by Mr. Hakeem for the rebels to return to the party.

He vowed they would not accept Mr. Hakeem's leadership.
Meanwhile Mr. Hakeem has given the rebels the time till December 31 to return to the party.

Minister Hakeem in an apparent bid to boost his support among eastern Muslims also visited flood-hit Ampara and Batticaloa districts to work out immediate relief measures.

Lanka reacts cautiously to US suggestion
By Shanika Udawatte
Sri Lanka yesterday reacted cautiously to suggestions by the United States that refuelling facilities may be required here if the US declared a war against Iraq.

The suggestion was made on Friday by US ambassador Ashley Wills who said his country might seek facilities here in the event of a war with Iraq.

Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando said yesterday said no formal request had been made yet. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it," he said.

Speaking for the main opposition People's Alliance, former Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said he hoped there would be no war. He said that if the United States went to war outside the UN resolution, then Sri Lanka should not provide any facilities.

Japan to invest more if peace moves succeed
By Shamillia Sivathambu
Japan plans to invest US$100 million next year following Sri Lanka's optimistic peace proceedings, according to the Sri Lanka Board of Investment (BOI).

"Japan's financial investment in Sri Lanka for the next financial year is in the area of US$ 100 million and is expected to rise to US$ 500 million by 2006," said Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, chairman of BOI.

The only thing that stands in the way of this US$ 500 million projection is the potential failing of the peace process.

Mr. Mahendran said: "Japan is keen to be involved in Sri Lanka's reconstruction process but they have a commercial justification for being here."

Japan's pledge to earmark US$2.86 million in Emergency Grant Aid at last month's Oslo Donor's Meeting for Sri Lanka's Peace Process Support, might have more to do with safeguarding future interests and facilitating confidence among smaller Japanese businesses than with philanthropy.

There is currently an excess of 68 Japanese companies operating in Sri Lanka but this year we have witnessed an increase in Japanese commercial interest starting with the large number of Japanese delegates visiting Sri Lanka to explore investment options to Mitsui's recent revelation of a seven-year expansion plan.

These initiatives have helped pave the way for future Japanese investment in the country.

PA cracking up on peace process
By Harinda Vidanage
The main opposition People's Alliance appears to be coming apart on the policy towards the peace process and related issues.

The differences emerged publicly when LSSP leader Batty Weerakoon said recent statements released in the name of the PA were really SLFP statements and not PA statements because they did not reflect the views of the LSSP.

Mr. Weerakoon, a senior minister in the former PA administration, said the LSSP welcomed the LTTE's recent statement that it was ready to drop the Eelam demand and work towards a solution based on federal status.

The LSSP view contrasted sharply with recent statements made by PA spokesman Sarath Amunugama and other PA frontliners taking a hardline on the peace process.
The Communist Party, another constituent member of the PA, also said it did not agree with the statements being issued by Dr. Amunugama and others in the SLFP.
A spokesman said the CP was particularly concerned about moves by certain PA members to align with the JVP which has expressed total and outright opposition to the peace process.

At the other extreme, MEP leader Dinesh Gunewardene, another ally of the PA, has said his party has its own views on the peace process.

In this scenario, the policy-making executive committee of the PA has not met for two months, Mr. Weerakoon complained.

But Dr. Amunugama brushed aside the LSSP-CP complaints, saying that the SLFP constituted 95 percent of the PA and had the right to issue statements in the name of the PA.
(See political column on page 10)

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