The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

18h February 1996




Alliance Against Devolution

Representatives of several organisations which are opposed to the devolution package met recently to map out plans to work as a single body and proposed an alternative to the government's package. Broad principles that should guide their thinking in the formulation of such policies leading up to the drafting of a new constitution were discussed and adopted at this meeting.

This meeting at Dharmawijaya Foundation was convened by Neville Ladduwahetty, P. K. Dissanayake and Gunadasa Amarasekera. The meeting was presided by Gamini Perera and associated with him was Prof. S.B.H. Hettiarchchi, former vice-chancellor of the Jayewardenepura University. Introducing the paper dealing with the principles, Mr. Ladduwahetty, the protagonist of this campaign, emphasised the need to crush the present terrorism as a prelude to all these constitutional exercises.

Sevenagala Sugar Goes to Great Industries

By M. Ismeth

The management of Sevanagala Sugar Industries was recently taken over by Great Industries Ltd., Hong Kong, a company with only three years experience Great Industries has been incorporated under the Companies Ordinance in Hong Kong only in July 1993.

According to industry sources this company is a subsidiary of Guandong International which now manages Pelwatte, and already had made Pelwatte lose around Rs. 76.3 million by way of having introduced untreated variety of sugar cane planting material which destroyed more than 1600 hectares of sugarcane plantation. (This was reported in The Sunday Times of January 7 and 14 respectively).

The sources ask what would be the result of Sevanagala if a subsidiary of Guandong which had mad a mess of Pelwatte, once they take over the management.

It is also learnt that Great Industries has not forwarded a development plan for the future expansion and to increase the tonnage of the daily production. Whereas another bidder has not only forwarded a development plan but also was prepared to invest Rs. 750 million on development alone apart from the bid price. This company has 100 percent local expertise and only the investment was from Japan, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the four directors of Great Industry have in their business registration stated their designation as merchants.

Big trade deal with Iran

Sri Lanka and Iran have signed a new trade agreement to expand the volume of trade between the two countries five-fold.

ran agreed to import an increased volume of tea in bulk to be packed and re-exported to CIS countries. Possibilities for joint ventures in both countries were also discussed and decided upon at a meeting in Tehran. Iran also offered an investment package to the tune of Rs 3,858 million and several infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.

Picture shows Trade Minister, Kingsley Wickremaratne and Iranian Finance Minister, Morteza Mohammed Khan at the signing of the agreement. Also present was Sri Lanka's Ambassador, Y.L.M. Zawahir.

Liberals Deplore Book Ban

The Liberal Party has strongly protested against the banning of Professor Stanley Thambiah's book 'Buddhism Betrayed.'

The ban by the government is a violation of the freedom of expression, it said.

Many Claim They Caught The Bombers

The man who claims to have risked his life to arrest two of the LTTE suspects involved in the Central Bank bomb attack is in a quandary as several others are reported to be claiming the reward offered by the Police.

K.P.S. de Silva who was one of the two persons who felt suspicious about the movements of the two LTTE suspects and nabbed them with the support of the public told 'The Sunday Times' that he had received information a couple of others were also claiming the reward.

Initially when Mr. Silva had sought the support of several bystanders to follow the two Tiger suspects, nobody had come forward.

A Deputy Inspector General a Police had told Mr. Silva and L.S. Peiris, the other person who helped to follow the two suspects would be rewarded.

But last week Mr. Silva told 'The Sunday Times' several others in the Pettah, Rohini Lane area, where the suspects were nabbed were reported to be claiming the reward money.

However police sources said they had not decided on the reward as yet.

Mr. Silva earlier said that soon after the sound of the explosion on January 31 he had seen the two suspects, later identified as Ragu and Kittu and followed them. They had entered a bakery, changed their clothing, left four hand grenades, two bombs, a suicide kit containing explosives and a high powered radio set and were trying to flee the area.

It was due to the vigilance of Mr. Silva and Mr. Peiris who helped him, that the two suspects were nabbed leading to the arrest of several others.

Curtain Call for Cinemas?

By Kumaradasa Wagista

The Film Exhibitors' Association (FEA) has decided to call on cinema operators to bring down the curtains in all their cinemas if film distribution is not privatised, an FEA official said. Free market policies of the government introduced in 1977 have not benefited the cinema industry, he said.

The National Film Corporation (NFC) continues to control the import and distribution of films, he said. "We will await the findings of the Presidential Committee appointed to study and report on the film industry for another two weeks. If the imports and distribution of films are not liberalised, the FEA will recommend to its members to close down their cinemas" the FEA official said. He said there was a dearth of films for screening at cinemas at present since suppliers of foreign films were not prepared to subsidise the prohibitive levies imposed by the NFC. Box office failures of local films have also resulted in several cinemas having to close down as they were unable to pay up the NFC their dues, he said.

He attributed the losses suffered by cinema operators to low attendance. The attendance declined from 79 million a year 10 years ago to 30 million at present while the number of cinema halls dwindled from 365 to 265 over the same period. One other reason for the decline in attendance was Sri Lanka's television networks, which show Sinhala, Hindi and Tamil films, keeping regular cinemagoers at home, he added. Twice before the FEA had threatened to call on its members to close down their cinemas. "But this time we are positively taking action if our grievances are not redressed," the FEA official said.

Missing Foam With SLAF

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has denied reports that balance stocks of aquafoam given by India recently are missing.

In the aftermath of the oil fire four months ago, India rushed 44,000 litres of aquafoam of which more than 42,000 litres were used. The balance of about 1,500 litres have been given to the Air Force, CPS's deputy fire chief, K.P. Mahindasoma said.

New Blood Bank for the Forces

A blood bank capable of storing 48 halflitre bags of blood was handed over by the Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Maha Nayake Thero, Patron of Dharmavijaya Foundation to the Army. Major General Rohan Daluwatte accepted the gift on behalf of the Army at the Army Hospital in Colombo. The gift was in response to a request for assistance to increase the blood storage facilities at Palaly during the height of the military operations in Jaffna in November 1995. The unit was supplied by Boro Labs. Ltd., of Berks U.K. and the price paid for delivery at London Air Cargo terminal was £3,440.

The unit was air freighted from London to Colombo free of charge by AirLanka. It conforms to the relevant British standards and has been upgraded to work in ambient temperatures upto 43 Centigrade. The entire cost was met by the Victoria and Queensland branches of the Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (SPUR) in Australia which supports the programmes of the Dharmavijaya Foundation.

This is the second unit gifted by the Foundation to Palaly. The first was in June 1987 for a unit of similar size from the USA which cost US $ 3,443 and was funded by well-wishers of the Foundation through the Washington Vihare.

Spy Sivakumar in Double Jeopardy

From Lakshmi Pieris in Los Angeles.

Thalayasingham Sivakumar who passed information on the LTTE to a Canadian spy agency says the deportation order issued on him by the Canadian immigration authorities places him in double jeopardy because he fears retaliation both by the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers.

The cloak-and-dagger tale of secret meetings between Sivakumar and Canadian intelligence agents has captured the attention of the media and placed the Canadian government which has until recently been supportive of the Eelamists in an embarrassing situation.

Sivakumar (39) had entered Canada illegally using a false Malaysian passport in 1989 and has been working as a supervisor in the Metro.

His refugee claim was rejected in 1991 after the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board decided that even though he feared persecution he should be excluded from refugee status because of his involvement with the Tigers as this made him a person who could be guilty of "Crimes against humanity". He appealed against the Board's decision all the way to the Supreme Court and failed. However the case made headlines in the Canadian press when Sivakumar claimed that he had been promised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that he would never be deported if he agreed to spy on the activities of the LTTE in Canada.

In an affidavit filed with the Federal Court, CSIS officer John Patrick O, Grady said that from September 13, 1989 to November 29, 1994, Sivakumar offered information "of interest to representatives of CSIS". But the affidavit denied that the CSIS gave Sivakumar any promises about immigration. Federal Court Justice J.E. Dube ruled that the CSIS had no authority to promise to intervene in immigration matters, Sivakumar has said that he joined the Tigers in 1978 and became a top leader. He was placed in charge of a military training camp for the Tigers in Madras and he held this position until he was reportedly expelled from the LTTE in 1988 following a disagreement with Prabhakaran. Sivakumar told the Court that shortly after he arrived in Canada he received a call from CSIS officer Al Treddenick requesting a meeting. He went with a lawyer and was asked questions about LTTE activities which he answered. He had many more meetings over the next six months. On one occasion he went alone and he was recruited as a CSIS informer. The CSIS paid him about $3000 a year for several years for information he provided on LTTE activities. He claims that he met with CSIS officers at hotels and restaurants and was often asked questions about specific events or people. The CSIS wanted information about Tiger operations in Sri Lanka and also sought his help in identifying LTTE members in Canada and about the LTTE's fund raising and arms purchases.

Canada now considers the LTTE to be a terrorist group and tries to deport those found to have links to the organization.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) a government appointed body that oversees the activities of the CSIS and which by law has access to CSIS records has launched an investigation into the allegations.

Meanwhile a study published by Mackenzie Institute of Toronto has warned Western countries to brace themselves for an upsurge in illegal activists operating on their soil "Their extortion rackets, narcotics trafficking and forgeries are international in scope. It may be that their gunmen and suicide bombers are not far behind", the paper released to the Canadian government warned. Describing the LTTE as one of the world's most feared terrorist organizations the report says, "Canada hosts extortionists who draw funds for the Tigers. Fear of the Tigers is clearly evident in parts of the Tamil community."

It goes on to say that the LTTE has a global network of Tamil drug runners and that heroin trafficking is a major source of funds for the LTTE.

ETV To Comply and Complain

ETV has obtained an enjoining order from the District Court of Colombo permitting it to telecast the World Cup matches. The Enjoining Order is effective till next Tuesday. But ETV which was to telecast the World Cup matches has decided not to in difference to the Media Minister.

ETV Chairman Nahil Wijesuriya told The Sunday Times: "Since the Media Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake has sent us a letter saying he would cancel the telecasting rights of ETV if it telecast the World Cup matches, we have decided to adopt a policy of comply and complain."

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