New faces in SLFP press circles
The SLFP media structure has been subjected to an internal mutiny with the appointment of Hudson Samarasinghe as the new SLFP media advisor and managing director of Dinakara, the official paper of the party.

The new appointment has been made by President Chandrika Kumaratunga but even many SLFP members are not aware of this fact. Earlier she appointed Mangala Samaraweera as the head of the fully equipped new media and propaganda unit based at the party head office.

This new appointment has caused great confusion as the co-ordination between the two groups has run into a problem. After the appointment of Mr. Samarasinghe the old media guard comprising of Malalgoda Banduthilake, Newton Gunaratne and Nimal Ekanayake has refrained from media activities of the party.

The functions of Dinakara have been put into turmoil as Hudson Samarasinghe has established a command and control of his own. He is having the political backing of Mervyn Silva and has brought in many former UNP members to the Dinakara administrative section.

This has created a situation where many former administrative officials have been sidelined from decision making. The new UNP members include former Ratgama parliamentarian Asoka Somaratne.

A senior journalist from Dinakara told The Sunday Times that Somaratne was attacked by the Dinakara itself when he was a parliamentarian and chairman of the Cement Corporation and most corruption was unveiled by the paper at that time.

Thus this intrusion of former UNPers into the heart of SLFP media operations has created this new internal crisis within the party with Hudson Samarasinghe proclaiming himself the next chairman of Lake House.

This situation is said to have contributed to Malalgoda Banduthilake, a very senior media man of the SLFP, falling ill and being hospitalised. He had been the former director of Shakthi enterprises which managed Dinakara.

However, sources from the party told The Sunday Times that he will be compensated with an appointment as chief librarian of the new SLFP library which is being set up now.

Controversial film again in spotlight
From Neville de Silva in London
Sri Lanka has again raised with British authorities the issue of the controversial Tamil film, "In the name of Buddha" now due for public screening in London this month.
High Commissioner Faiz Mustapha wrote last week to the director of the British Board of Film Classifications, asking how the film, considered by many who have seen it to be a distortion of the truth and highly offensive to Buddhists the world over, is going to be screened publicly at a West End cinema.

In his letter to director Robin Duval, the Sri Lanka High Commissioner says: "You may recall that in my communication to you, I expressed grave concern about the release of this film in the United Kingdom and you were kind enough to inform me inter alia that the said film had been submitted for video classification only and did not appear to be intended for cinema exhibition".

Mr Mustapha points out that he was surprised to learn that the film is now to be released for cinema exhibition. The High Commissioner says that in view of the representations he had made earlier, he would have expected the director to have informed him had the film been submitted for public screening.

In the circumstances, Mr Mustapha wants to know from the British Board of Film Classifications, how this film has been advertised for public screening. In January this year Sri Lanka officially protested to the British government against the intended public screening of this pro-LTTE film which denigrates the Buddha and offends the sensibilities of Buddhists.

Mr. Mustapha met the British minister for culture Kim Howell and also briefed the London envoys of several predominantly Buddhist countries. The film produced by two British residents-one a Tamil of Sri Lankan origin and the other a Keralite from India- falsifies the underlying causes of the Sri Lankan conflict and portrays it as a war launched by Buddhism against Tamils who are adherents of other religions.

The High Commission has also written to the editor of a magazine titled "Developments" and produced for the British Government's department for international development correcting errors contained in an article headlined "In the name of Buddha".

The article which refers to the film by the same name claims that 60,000 Tamils lost their lives in the conflict and quotes the UNHCR in support of its contention.
The magazine, which is an official publication of the British government also claims that "shortly after the release of the film, a donor's one-day conference was held in Oslo at which international countries pledged $70 million in immediate aid to Sri Lanka to end the 19-year conflict between the government and rebel Tamil Tigers".

The High Commission has told the editor that the attempt to convey the impression that the showing of the film resulted in the summoning of the conference is false. Moreover the official magazine calls the Tamil Tigers "rebels" whereas the British government has banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation under its Terrorism Act 2000.

"Here is another example of the British government's left hand not knowing what its right hand has done," remarked one frustrated Sri Lankan professional. "Instead of bombing innocent people in Iraq, Prime Minister Blair should tell his officials who are terrorists and who are not".

Battle likely in Parliament
By Chandani Kirinde
Parliament resumes sittings on Tuesday after a five-week New Year holiday and is likely to be a stormy new session with the opposition demanding an early debate on the security situation.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to make a special statement on Tuesday regarding the peace talks while the main focus on Tuesday and Wednesday would be on new bills relating to mediation and agriculture.

When party leaders meet the Speaker tomorrow, the opposition is to push for an early debate, probably on Thursday, regarding the suspension of the peace talks and the security threat to the country.

MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardene said when parliament went into holidays on April 1, the government had assured that a special session would be called if any emergency situation arose. Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapakse and others reacting to the LTTE's withdrawal from the peace talks had urged the government to call a special session of parliament but no such move was made.

Bala here for crucial decision
By Chris Kamalendran
LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham is due in Sri Lanka today ahead of tomorrow's LTTE's central committee meeting where a decision is likely to be taken regarding the resumption of peace talks.

The Sunday Times learns that Dr. Balasingham will be in Sri Lanka for about two weeks for talks with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and several peace envoys.
Japan's special peace envoy Yashushi Akashi and Norwegian facilitators Vidar Helgessen and Erik Solheim are due to meet government leaders in Colombo and then go to Kilinochchi for talks with LTTE leaders.

Diplomatic sources said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen was also scheduled to fly here on May 15 for talks with government and LTTE leaders.

After tomorrow's meeting of the LTTE central committee, the Tigers are likely to draft a formal response to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's five-page letter in which he urged them to return to the peace talks.

PM urged to re-start talks
The Association of Disabled Ex-service Personnel has urged Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to resume the dialogue with the LTTE, which has pulled out from the talks.

The group in a statement said it was heartening that the LTTE had stated that it was not going to break away from the peace process permanently. It warned that extremist parties were trying to gain undue advantage at this decisive hour.

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