26th January 1997

The Jungle Telegraph

By Alia

Help to fight terrorism

United States assistance to Sri Lanka to combat terrorism (take note - not to fight the LTTE lest I be contradicted) continues.

Another team of us Commandos trained our boys in the southern jungles, this time without the glare of colour photographs and reams of reportage. This was last month.

Just as they left our shores, yet another team has arrived. This time to help our flyers by teaching them how to look after their birds. They are busy at a suburban installation.

Every time the word gets around, poor Mike is upset. His repeated plea to local bosses in uniform is "be like me - keep the bloody media guys at a distance. Don't tell them anything."

He's perhaps right. There is no first amendment in the Sri Lanka Constitution.

Joker's web

Details of this multimillion rupee defence deal are a tangled web.

Last week, the powers that be gave the green light to this deal involving Rs. 45 million.

Some say that in doing so, they may not have had access to the background documents, the ones formulated by the boys who evaluated it.

The man who chaired it, though known well for his comical actions, recommended the highest bidder. And believe it or not, they got it.

The million dollar question now is why the "joker" did this serious thing. Even the boss is puzzled.

VIP security

They are the new VIPs Ñ a new breed wanting to become Very Important Politicians in the liberated northern Jaffna peninsula.

That is why leaders of other moderate Tamil political parties are now following the footsteps of EPDP leader Douglas Devananda, to open offices in Jaffna and embark on political activity.

In a bid to encourage them, the government allowed these leaders to be accompanied by their own armed escorts.

At least in one aspect, the plain clothed bodyguards did not follow the bearded EPDP leader and ask his escorts to carry concealed side arms.

The leader of one group went to Jaffna last week with plain clothesman carrying T-56 assault rifles.

A military official was quick to point out the potential danger.

It's not the Tigers who will get your men. Our guys may take them on first, thinking they are Tigers, he said.

They have now armed themselves with revolvers and pistols. They have covered them with their shirts too!

Hardware battle

A multimillion dollar load of military hardware has arrived at the Colombo Port.

The service organisation to which it was originally ordered says it doesn't need it. Another was asked to take over. They too say they don't need them.

The ship remains anchored whilst the ding dong battle goes on.

Whoever gets it or not, the demurrage would have to be paid. The ship has weighed anchor until they decide.

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