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