The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

7th April 1996




Question mark over polls but parties ready

Despite speculation that the government might postpone Local Government elections due in the middle of this year, several political parties have begun preparing the groundwork to run for the mini poll.

UNP General Secretary Gamini Athukorale said the party was ready not only for local government elections but also for any elections. He said UNP leaders were meeting district organisers in this connection to work out lists of candidates.

Asked whether the UNP had any idea of forming an alliance with anti-P.A. groups to contest the election, Mr. Athukorale said the UNP had maintained its identity right throughout.

LSSP General Secretary Batty Weerakoon told The Sunday Times that constituent parties of the ruling People's Alliance had held several rounds of discussions and they would contest the elections as an alliance.

SLMC leader, M.H.M. Ashraff, an ally of the Government said "Though on the last occasion we contested under our own party symbol, this time we would go for local government elections along with the P.A. as we have formed ourselves into an alliance." However he said a formal decision would be taken once the elections were announced.

NDUNLF spokesman, Ravi Karunanayake said his party had not taken any decision in this regard as no gazette notification had been issued yet. "We have not decided whether to contest the elections on our own or along with the rest of the members of the P.A. or not to contest at all", Mr. Karunanayake added.

MEP leader, Dinesh Gunawardena said his party would field candidates in most of the districts in the seven provinces. "We have been preparing for this election and we will contest it separately. Though many expected the notification to be published in March or April, it has not been gazetted yet. The present government seems to be following in the footsteps of its predecessor in denying democracy to the people. There is no need to postpone the grassroots representations. Therefore, we call upon the government to keep to the regulations and announce the date of the elections without delay", Mr. Gunawardena said.

C.W.C. leader S. Thondaman said the party had made no final decision in this connection and therefore it was too early to comment on the matter. However, he added that discussions were going on within the party and they were in the process of identifying areas of interest.

SLPF General Secretary, Ariya Bulegoda said both the J.V.P. and SLPF would contest the elections together under the banner of the National Salvation Front (NSF). He said certain SLFP members too had expressed their willingness to contest the elections on the N.S.F. ticket.

EPRLF General Secretary, Suresh Premachandran said there were rumours that the government might postpone the election. "Our base is mainly in the North and East. The term of office of the bodies in these areas is not yet over. Up to now, we have not decided whether to support any other party outside the North-East. We will take a decision after the formal announcement is made."

ACTC leader Kumar Ponnambalam said the time was not opportune to contest elections. "Undivided attention should be paid to the larger issues of the Tamil community. This is no time for elections. Therefore, the ACTC is not contesting the forthcoming local government elections."

Penniless cat has love

Pensioner Norman Nihal Gunawardena (63) of Narahenpita ended his life by suffocation with a polythene bag, an inquest was told.

Police found a letter written by him and a parcel containing Rs. 50,000 to be given to a trader at Thimbirigasyaya market with whom the pensioner had lived twenty four years.

At the inquest, it was revealed that Mr. Gunawardena had married in 1964 but divorced his wife two years later. In 1970 he married a German woman who left him six years later. From the second marriage they had a son who lives in Australia.

He had ended the letter with a PS stating, "Please look after the cat".

Emirates selects Forbes

Emirates, the international airline of the UAE appointed Forbes Air Services Ltd., as its General Sales Agency (GSA) in Sri Lanka last week, from among 60 other organisations which also competed for this status, an official said.

Among the other competitors were Stassens, John Keels, Richard Pieris, Delmege Forsyth, George Steuarts and Ceylon Carriers.

Out of the 60 competitors the panel had short listed it to nine companies, before selecting Forbes Air Services as their agents.

Forbes Air Services Ltd., a subsidiary of Forbes Ceylon, which is a long standing business house in Sri Lanka was given the appointment with effect from 1st of April, after an airline panel evaluated the competitors following presentations made by them.

Mr. Ravi Karunaratne, Director of Forbes Ceylon and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Air Services Ltd., said that they hope to become the best GSA in the island within the next two years and to match the other Emirates GSA's world over.

Tigers to counter offensive in North

By Our Military Analyst

The LTTE has activated its world network to lobby the international community to thwart a second major military strike into LTTE dominated territory in northern Sri Lanka.

The LTTE is projecting its call through the Jaffna Citizens' Committee as the recent bomb blast in Colombo has tarnished the international image of the LTTE.

With assistance of the international arm of the LTTE, the Citizens Committee of Jaffna has gained access to the World Wide Web, a sophisticated network with images and information that could be accessed through a computer.

The Swedish pro-LTTE professor Peter Schalk in his introduction to the World Wide Web page of the Citizens Committee states, "We have seen several times in the last months references to the Citizens Committee in Yalpanam (Yal). Its reports from the destruction of Yalpanam by the present Lankan Government have been very detailed and accurate. The reports consists of letters to state leaders. The letters are quoted in many places. The Citizens Committee of Yal is a district Citizens Committee comprising members of different city Citizens Committee. Sometimes it is called Federation of Citizens Committees."

Schalk, is also the author of Hoping Against Hope, appeals for help to the President of Sri Lanka and other dignitaries by the Citizens Committee, Yalpanam, Sri Lanka, 1990 -1992. With a preface, an introduction, and index by Peter Schalk, this 181 paged book covers the period of Eelam War II.

The western academic community treats Schalk as a part of the LTTE as he is emotionally submerged in LTTE propaganda.

Schalk interprets the meaning of Jaffna Citizens Committee. "The English words, 'Citizens Committee' translate Tamil piracaikal kulu. A kulu (Sanskrit kula) is besides a 'society' also a 'band', or 'swarm'. A piracai (sing., Sanskrit praja) is besides a 'citizen', a 'child' or 'progeny' . The English modern and bureaucratic translation "Citizens Committee" does not, like the word kulu, convey the sense of being close to each other and united to proceed for a common task.

The Citizens Committee of Jaffna comprises Professor K. Kunaratnam, Vice-Chancellor of Yalpanapalkalaikkalakum (Jaffna) Universities and R. Mahendran, Principal Kokuvil Hindu College. Both are quite well known for their pro-LTTE positions.

Staging a virulent attack on the Sri Lankan government, Schalk introduces the former spokesperson of the Committee - Bishop Theogupillai. He states that not only the Bishop's residence was "blessed by the honourable Buddhist-Sinhala Air force by dropping bombs, but also barrels with human faces to demonstrate its appreciation of the Bishop's selfless and heroic work." He adds, "The Bishop was grateful, indeed, for these gracious gifts of respect from heaven. Let us be alert and immediately contact Amnesty International when anything happens to any of all the brave members of the Citizens Committee of Yal who are prepared to remain in Tamil lands and to sacrifice their lives for a coming generation of now young Tamiler at home or in exile, in Oslo, Stockholm, Toronto, Paris, London, etc.

Claiming that the former Jaffna University Vice-Chancellor Professor A. Thurairajah, was a very intensive and regular worker for the Citizens' Committee during Eelam War II, Schalk states that he cannot "for security reasons mention the names of the Citizens' Committee members." Schalk fails in his valiant attempt to project the Citizens' Committee as independent from the LTTE. Schalk states that both groups have a "common interest in the resistance against Lankan destruction of Yalpanam. All who have any empathy for Yalpanam as a civil society, should stand behind the Citizens' Committee." The LTTE has respected the integrity of the Citizens' Committee.

The World Wide Web carries two letters sent by the Citizens' Committee of Jaffna to the United Nations' Secretary General Boutros Ghali urging UN to pressurize Colombo to stop the offensive to take Jaffna and in the aftermath of the fall of Jaffna to negotiate with the LTTE. The letters are dated October 5, 1995 and March 30, 1996.

Tamil Congress wants LTTE in peace settlement

The All-Ceylon Tamil Congress has said the LTTE should be approached on the devolution package if it is to bring about a solution.

The ACTC, making representations to the parliamentary Select Committee has stressed that the LTTE must come into the picture.

"No reasonable human being can expect the LTTE to cooperate to implement a solution into which it has no input. Therefore when the Sinhala side of the equation is ready with its proposals, it would be incumbent on them to discuss those proposals with the LTTE, in the first instance before anybody else", the ACTC has said.

The ACTC, led by Kumar Ponnambalam has also said that the Tamils living in the North are not in a position to consider the proposals because of the state of war.

"Compounded by an unprecedented refugee problem forcing the Tamils to have other concerns and priorities on their minds, the situation does not give any proper opportunity for the Tamils to consider proposals that would affect them vitally. Therefore the proposals will have no validity", it states.

The ACTC also states that since the ethnic problem is between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, the proposals will be valid only if they are put forward to all political parties representing the Sinhala nation.

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