26th July 1998
The arrival and departure timings of flights from the Bandaranaike International Airport may be changed in view of the SAARC Summit in Colombo, AirLanka said yesterday.
Airline passengers have been requested to contact the relevant airlines for information on revised flight times during July 27 to August 1 owing to the arrival and departure of the SAARC Heads of State and delegates.
Delays and advances in arrival and departure times may be expected and therefore passengers are advised to check in early during this period, AirLanka said in a media release.
Residents of Anderson Flats, Narahenpita, have been complaining about severe flooding due to drainage problems.
Residents said that authorities have failed to take action despite a number of complaints to them.
Deputy General Manager, Operations of the Common Amenities Board, D.N. Seneviratne said that this situation occurs due to misuse by the tenants and that it is nothing unusual as it happens almost once a week.
From the Green Corner
By Viruddha Paakshikaya
Once upon a time, my good friend, Paakshikaya, the standard bearer of the government in these pages boasted he would "expose" the "Top Ten" business associates of our leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.
That was once upon a time, now it appears that Paakshikaya's empty threats and boasts are as hollow as his government's performance has been since August 1994.
Of course, Paakshikaya didn't live happily ever after because some of the business friends that he wanted "exposed" were also on my list as his government's top ten cronies.
As I told you, my friend, the Business of Business is Business and I'm not horrified that the UNP could not find anyone other than Gamini Atukorale to attack Harry Stassen Jayawardena-your Top of the Pops - an issue which Paakshikaya raises repeatedly with much innuendo
Harry Stassen Jayawardena has many friends on our side indeed. And, if you take a closer look at who these friends are Paakshikaya, you would realise they were actually on your side some time ago.
That was when he made friends with them!
You say the UNP made him a multimillionaire. That only proves how the UNP did not indulge in crony capitalism as your partymen otherwise allege. Stassen never knew J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa or D.B. Wijetunga. But he made his millions under the UNP and gave some of it to your leaders. So, thank you, Paakshikaya, for this certificate of honour you have obviously inadvertently given to the UNP!
We unlike you, treat all alike.
Now then, Paakshikaya, enough of this so called "Top Ten Businessmen" business. If you can't come up with ten names, why don't you, just to save your soul give'Top Three" names and be done with it. Maybe three that are already on my list as the PA's Top Ten!
Then, let's get down to more important business at hand. Some issues that have been brewing for a while and are almost close to boiling point - the severe infighting in your some People's Alliance, the "united" Front with a Divided Back!
Sometime ago, I referred to these divisions-how G.L. Peiris doesn't even look at Lakshman Kadirgamar leave alone talk to him; how Fowzi and Ashraff have declared Jihad (Holy war) on each other; how Mangala Samaraweera and S.B. Dissanayake are not the best of pals after the former called Susanthika Jayasinghe a 'Black American male" although many thought he had said "South African male! Then, earlier on there was the first casualty, Srimani Athulathmudali (probably because the Cabinet couldn't afford to have two men in it!) and everybody hates S. Thondaman because after all he is in fact a UNP MP in the Cabinet!
But all these are trivial matters and pale into insignificance when compared to the biggest split-between your President Kumaratunga and her Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, which is now surfacing more and more into the open! Transparency at last!
For quite some time now, President Kumaratunga has been getting annoyed with her uncle from the maternal Ratwatte clan. In the early months it was the power cuts of 1996, that first caused friction between the two, only a few months after the "Sapumal Kumaraya" was promoted to General for "liberating" Jaffna. That was when the entire nation plunged into darkness and cursed the government and the Ceylon Electricity Board while General Ratwatte was spending his power and energy, elsewhere.
The CEB boss of that time was a powerful man, what with the complete backing of his Minister as his back-up generator. On one occasion, the CEB man attended a Sri Lanka investment mission in Kuala Lumpur, when Secretary to the President Kusumsiri Balapatabendi had refused permission for him to attend. Such was the "power" he had; he could ignore those instructions.
Around this time in the absence of President Kumaratunga (who was abroad) the Cabinet approved a power project of a British firm which had to be cancelled thereafter because no proper tenders were called.
What ought to have been done was to either get PERC to do the deal (like Emirates) or have the Cabinet Tender Board summoned (like in the French Locomotives deal!) Surely, the modus operandi is that.
But, Paakshikaya, pardon me, I digress. Now, power cuts are a thing of the past. There is rain aplenty and thanks to the Mahaveli scheme's hydro power projects which the UNP regimes completed -there will be enough energy pounded to our nation.
The problem now is in the management of the war and in the Prime Ministerial stakes, because, as we all know, -and D.B. Wijetunga will tell you too-that the Prime Minister is only one little step away from the Presidency. And, it is here that General Ratwatte is pushing his luck and the President is not amused, Paakshikaya, specially by the conduct and the public utterances of the General.
Now it is very interesting to note the different ways General Ratwatte's recent speech at Mahiyan-gana was reported. For instance, the Lankadeepa referred to the General saying "whatever the Government party thinks, I personally am against elections to Provincial Councils. What use has Provincial Councils been". In the state run Daily News, that reference to whatever the Government thinks was absent. It only refers to Provincial Councils not being effective and how the elections must be postponed because of the on-going war.
The question is whether Ratwatte's remarks are a show of defiance against the government leadership (according to the Lankadeepa report) or supplementary to the government's move to postpone PC elections. Perhaps you can shed some light on that, Paakshikaya.
Then there was the General's meeting with the Mahanayakes in Kandy followed by the anti-package campaigner the Ven. Sobitha Thera delivering the sermon on his birthday. The Buddhist clergy was clearly of the view that it was Gen. Ratwatte who was the best qualified to prosecute the war.
But whatever the moves Gen. Ratwatte made on the political chess board, your President has already publicly referred to persons who have got big commissions from arms deals "Komis Kaakkas'. She has moved to check-mate the General by creating a joint chief of staffs command that will take orders from her-and only her? - by implication not from General Ratwatte. Also, all arms purchases will now come under this command.
She was moved to politically emasculate the general who was getting too big for his jackboots.
But, Paakshikaya, President Kumaratunga knows nothing of military affairs and I shudder to think whether this is a case of getting rid of the woman with a cough for a woman with a cold-as the pithy Sinhala idiom has it!. Or as the English Language has it; changing pillows to get rid of a headache The President is the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Defence-both subjects she knows nothing of.
She has "subcontracted" the tasks to her deputies - G.L. Peiris and Anuruddha Ratwatte and both the economy and the security of the state are in shambles!
In this context, it was with some amusement that I read the state-run Sunday Observer's rejoinder to a column on the Presidency which appeared in the Sunday Times a fortnight ago.
It was most appropriate that this rejoinder appeared as if to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of the take-over of Lake House by the then Sirima Bandaranaike government. This "rejoinder" spoke for itself about what Lake House journalism is all about.
I know the THE SUNDAY TIMES will not condescend to respond to such pedestrian stuff. But I feel, I as a student of politics could give my own views about what is basically a propagandist piece by an apologist of the Faith.
Firstly, the Sunday Observer says The Sunday Times has not signed the 'Presidency' column. And who says this? Someone who signs off as 'Andare! I checked from my Lake House friends (we still have a few in there) whether there is someone called Andare at the Sunday Observer. There was none.
I asked them whether it was an outside contributor. They were not sure. They asked me whether Andare was his (or her) first name or surname. I said I didn't know. All I know is, here is the Sunday Observer pontificating about The Sunday Times not signing off it's column and they themselves sign off as 'Andare!'
But then again, how appropriate too. Andare, in old folklore is the court jester of Lanka. The man who kept the Royal Court in fits with his wit. He like our man, was no nit-wit though. He knew exactly how to keep his paymasters happy and contented.
I was equally appalled to see this son-of-the-soil born again Andare saying that during D.B. Wijetunga's rule, there was 'beeshanaya' because he got no testimonials from foreigners that there was no 'beeshanaya. This he compares with the Kumaratunga government's human rights record which he says has won praise from foreigners. Now, Paakshikaya why does he ignore what foreigners have said about the graves in Jaffna? He says there was 'beeshanaya' during JRJ's time and cites the instances of cycle-chain wielding JSS thugs; the assault on Prof. Sarachchandra and the demonstration in front of the Supreme Court judges houses as examples.
Then what do we have today in the form of the assault on a newspaper editor and his wife on the main road and later the spraying of his house with T-56 bullets; the spraying of our MP Sarath Kongahage's restaurant with T-56 bullets, the shootings at Negombo on our Party supporters returning from courts with T-56 bullets; the attacks on our supporters at Eppawela-Anamaduwa recently and during the Local Government elections?
Then, Andare must surely have taken leave of his senses when he says his government has considerably weakened the LTTE. So much so that the minister in charge of the war says he cannot hold a Provincial Council election because all his men are wanted at the battlefront.
Surely, either Mr. Ratwatte... (deleted on legal advice). But the service commanders.. (deleted on legal advice)..but Andare might be doing more damage to his own party!
Andare then talks of a 'putsch' in the SLFP and that a leftist will say it is something that fails. He forgets then that the SLFP leader is still Ms. Sirima Bandaranaike. So, Chandrika Kumaratunga didn't really succeed, did she?
Andare says his government's economic management helped Sri Lanka to escape the ravages inflicted on the Asian 'Tiger' nations. That is like telling a man on 'Samurdhi' food-stamps that due to wise economic planning he escaped the Colombo Stock Market crash!
And then, Andare ends his lacklustre 'piece' in dramatic fashion-in mid-sentence! Had he run out of excuses? or did he adjourn for 'refreshments' and forgot to return to his copy? Anyway, for some time to come my Lake House friends will be talking of "Andare column liyuwa vagei" and not "Andare Seeni Keva Vagei!"
But, as I said earlier, Paakshikaya, pardon me for I digress, I keep doing so. I shall sign off this unusually lengthy piece however wishing the PA a happy Beggars' Banquet with our SAARC neighbours-but just watch out for the LTTE. And I wish Paakshikaya well in his efforts to find a bigger magnifying glass to choose Ranil Wickremasinghe's Top Ten at least next week!
By John Chalmers
NEW DELHI, Saturday (Reuters) - Ashraf Jehangir Qazi has an Indian map of India hanging beside his desk. A 12LABEL has been pasted over the Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir which reads, in bold letters: "DISPUTED TERRITORY".
For Pakistan's high commissioner to India, the Kashmir dispute — a running sore in relations between the two neighbours since their birth and violent separation 50 years ago — is the biggest threat to peace and prosperity on the subcontinent.
And so, the Pakistani ambassador and leaders of his country will push hard at next week's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit for formal discussion of the issue.
In an interview with Reuters late on Friday, Qazi said the tit-for-tat nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May had made open debate on this "root cause" of tension all the more urgent.
"The most important thing that will be there is that this is the first SAARC summit since the nuclearisation of the region," he said. "It would look rather incongruous, to say the least, if SAARC can't at least take these matters up..."
"This is a matter which affects the security and strategic perceptions of the whole region," he added.
Sri Lanka, which is hosting the July 29-31 summit, has said that the nuclear tests will not be on the agenda of the seven-nation meeting, but they could be discussed informally.
Diplomats expect Pakistan's efforts to raise the nuclear and Kashmir issues to be opposed by India, which maintains that SAARC is essentially an economic grouping and not a forum for thrashing out bilateral disputes.
But Qazi said SAARC — which groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — could not address regional security without taking account of recent developments and what Pakistan believes was the trigger, Kashmir.
"Without wishing to make SAARC into a slanging match between India and Pakistan, the fact of the matter is that the whole context has been changed, the whole region is now faced with the implications and consequences," he said.
He said the meeting which Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, have agreed to hold on the sidelines of the SAARC meeting must breathe life into dialogue between the arch-rival countries.
"We are looking forward to more than a photo opportunity, we're looking forward to something that can allow the dialogue to go forward on the basis of the understandings we reached last year," he said.
Foreign ministry secretaries from both countries met three times after peace talks resumed in March last year.
In the second meeting, officials agreed to set up a mechanism to tackle differences, including the Kashmir dispute, the cause of two of three wars between India and Pakistan since 1947.
But the third meeting, in September, ended in stalemate, with the two sides failing to agree on whether Kashmir should be dealt with in a separate working group or as part of a wide-ranging dialogue, a course ardently backed by New Delhi.
Qazi said no one was suggesting that the two nations would declare war on each other soon, but there was an urgent need for talks because of the "inherent probabilities".
"To eliminate the risk of any accident, certain things have to happen. And if they don't happen because we don't talk with each other as effectively as we should then the probabilities of an unpleasant scenario are increased by that fact alone," he said.
He said there was a misconception, propagated by India, that the 1972 Shimla peace agreement between India and Pakistan bound them "to talk eternally, futilely, forever and ever...in a bilateral mode — and should nothing ever happen, so be it".
"If we can do it bilaterally, wonderful. If we can't do that, we would like it to be possible through the active assistance of mutual friends," he said.
India, which is fighting a separatist revolt in the two-thirds of Kashmir it rules, opposes any role for the United Nations or any other third party in the dispute. Pakistan, which controls the remaining third, wants India to allow the people of Kashmir to decide their own future in a U.N.-mandated plebiscite.
More News/Comments * No tension with Pakistan says India * The facts are... * SAARC: road to success is thru' Kashmir * The border flashpoint
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