The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

26th May 1996




350 police Pajeros 'Kota uda'

Some 350 Pajeros and 300 other jeeps purchased for the Police at a cost of around Rs. 720 million are now 'Kota-uda' with serious engine defects and other malfunctions, an investigation has revealed.

Excessive burning or leakage of oil and the lack of spare parts compounded with the defective engines have brought about a situation where the vehicles imported in 1994 are now totally immobile, Police sources said.

Mechanical experts have said the manufacturing company should take responsibility for this terrible loss. They say the engines would have to be replaced at a heavy cost if these vehicles are ever to be used again.

Most of these vehicles were ordered for use in the Matale District. It was Deputy Minister Nandamitra Ekanayake, an MP for the district, who initiated the investigation after he was informed of the scandalous waste of public funds. Mr. Ekanayake has brought this matter to the notice of Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte and asked hm to take action.

Minor incidents in the North, East

One soldier and a terrorist were killed in separate incidents in the recently captured Jaffna peninsula, a statement from the Defence Ministry said yesterday.

The soldier was killed and three others injured when a group of terrorists fired at the soldiers during a search operation in the Vadamarachchi area.

On Friday troops engaged in Operation Riviresa III conducted a search and clear operation in areas in the Vadamarachchi division where they found a large Tiger base with a network of underground tunnels. Another LTTE training camp situated within the base was found with underground bunkers.

A small group of terrorists fired at the troops killing one soldier and wounding three. The troops could not return fire as they were fired at from a direction where civilians were present, a military statement said.

Troops recovered the dead bodies of two civilians in Thenamarachchi division on Friday. The bodies were identified as those of a man and his wife who were reported missing from May 17. The deceased Arumugam Sukumaran and his wife are believed to have been killed by the LTTE as they did not support their terrorist activities, the statement said.

Also in the Thenamarachchi division at Sarasalai on Friday troops fired at a small group of terrorists killing an LTTE cadre. During a subsequent search troops recovered a body with a T-56 rifle and an identification tag.

Meanwhile a letter bomb sent by the LTTE addressed to the Batticaloa UNP organizer exploded causing minor injuries to the addressee on Friday. Batticaloa Police are conducting investigations.

In the forefront to save the country from division

Statement by Gamini Jayasuriya- President Sinhala Arakshika Sanvidhanaya

From its inception in December 1991, the Sinhala Arakshaka Sanvidhanaya has been in the forefront of the struggle to save the country from division. It was formed when Mr. Thondaman had put forward his very dangerous proposals for the solution of the so-called ethnic problem. It may possibly be a coincidence but we find that some of the most extreme elements in the Thondaman proposals - e.g. the creation of an independent police force in the Regions and the power to obtain direct aid from abroad - figure prominently in the government package.

The Sinhala Arakshaka Sanvidhanaya made a detailed analysis of the Thondaman proposals and this was published in the "Island" of 19.01.1992. We have also made analysis of the government's August '95 proposals as well as the legal draft and these have been published in the newspapers from time to time. In these analyses we pointed out the grave dangers to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and the legitimate rights of the Sinhala people. We have made every endeavour both by issuing these documents and by my speeches at public meetings in various parts of the country to bring to the notice of the people the dangers in these proposals since it is the people themselves who will have to decide finally the fate of the country.

One of the main argument put forward by advocates of the devolution proposals is that it is only by implementing them that peace can be restored. We have always maintained that peace can be restored only by defeating the LTTE and the success of the Riviresa operations has fully justified our view. The devolution package is therefore not necessary for the restoration of peace. On the contrary, as we have shown, the implementation of these proposals will certainly lead to communal disharmony which may affect the whole country, apart from resulting in the eventual break-up of the country.

It is for these reasons that we have maintained that these proposals should be withdrawn and other means sought for redressing any genuine grievances of the Tamils that still remain. The relief and joy expressed by the people of Jaffna on being rescued from the clutches of the LTTE show clearly that the ordinary Tamil people are not interested in an Eelam which is the creation of the Tamil politicians. All they ask is that they be allowed to conduct their day-to-day lives and bring up their children without being made the cat's paw of politicians. I also believe that the people of Jaffna who I am sure are a grateful people, will never forget the fact that it was the Sri Lanka Armed Forces that liberated them from the LTTE including an army that Tamil politicians and propagandists are never tired of portraying to the world as a "Sinhala" Army intent only on the "genocide" of the Tamil people.

May I also add that owing to the success of Riviresa I, II and III the Sinhalese people are happy and grateful to the Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives and limbs and shed their precious blood to safeguard their country and look up with pride at the Armed Forces. Her Excellency the President too can claim the credit for this achievement for it could not have been achieved without her full support, as we understand that for the first time our armed forces were given the finances necessary to acquire all their military requirements in contrast to the previous regime where the stock response by the Treasury Chief was that there were no funds and the armed forces should manage with what they had.

However, if Her Excellency persists in going ahead with the devolution proposals which, though supported by certain foreign powers, are strongly opposed by the vast majority of the people of this country whose opinion is what really matters, all the goodwill that she has generated in the country for herself by the Riviresa operations will be dissipated. In all humility, therefore, I urge that those proposals be abandoned. While there is no objection to certain powers being devolved to subordinate units to enable the local people to manage their affairs, these should not include powers over subjects such as police, state land, foreign aid, etc., which should be retained by the government. Nor should there be any re-demarcation of provincial boundaries or creation of units on an ethnic basis, as this will only result in emphasizing ethnic differences and be detrimental to ethnic harmony. Above all the unitary character of the state should be preserved.

All these proposals, as well as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution have been put forward as a solution to a so-called "ethnic question". But the fact is that the real reason for the present trauma our country is undergoing is not the suppression or marginalisation of the Tamil community which enjoys equal rights along with all the other communities under the Constitution, but the refusal of the Tamil politicians to come to terms with the statistical fact that the Sinhalese comprise 74% of the population of this country while the Tamils comprise only 12.6%.

The favoured position the Tamils occupied under the British colonial regime made them, as has been aptly remarked, into a "minority with a majority complex." The 50 - 50 proposal of G.G. Ponnambalam is the best index of this cast of mind. After this unfair and unjust proposals was rejected, Tamil politicians put forward another proposal that would enable them to obtain exclusive possession of nearly one-third of the country. This was based on the myth that the Northern and Eastern Provinces comprised the "traditional homeland" of the Tamils.

Today nearly fifty years after independence, Tamil politicians continue to remain prisoners of this myth. However, I have been heartened by reading certain recent contributions to the newspapers which show that among ordinary Tamil citizens, as against the politicians, there is a more realistic appreciation of the history and culture of our country. I hope that more such ordinary Tamil citizens will make their views known and especially impress on their political leaders that fostering divisiveness and separatism by harping continuously on imagined grievances and shrill cries of "genocide" are not the way forward for the Tamil community or even for our country when we are within sight of the 21st century and vast global changes are taking place, the full benefits of which we can utilise only if we face the future as one nation and one people where all communities live together in peace and harmony.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - 2,000,000 coils burn every night, Jaffna medical courses begin this week, Trams on road soon, MEP calls for ex-co system

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