16th July 2000
By Ayesha R. Rafiq
The contempt of court case against Minister S.B. Dissanayake will resume tomorrow before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath Silva and Justices Priyantha Perera and Ameer Ismail will be considering whether the Minister should be dealt with for contempt of court regarding statements he had made about the judiciary.
Mr. Dissanayake is facing contempt charges related to a February speech where he reportedly said parliament and the courts would be closed down if proposed constitutional reforms were not passed with a two-thirds majority.
Clarifying media reports about the minister issuing an apology to the Supreme Court, his lawyer Gaston Jayakody told The Sunday Times that Mr. Dissanayake had mentioned in his affidavit that the media release he issued soon after The Sunday Times first reported the story contained an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is also to intervene in the proceedings on a decision taken at the Executive Committee meeting on Friday. BASL President Upali Gooneratne said he would be carrying out the decisions of the Exco but refused to elaborate.
Four Ministers were sent as government emissaries to thank countries that came to Sri Lanka's assistance during the recent battles with the LTTE to defend the Jaffna peninsula.
Minister Lakshman Jayakody visited India and Pakistan, Minister Mangala Samaraweera the Czech Republic and Hungary while Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake is in China and Minister M.H.M. Ashraff is in Iran.
In the wake of Friday's historic verdict by a Florida court awarding a breathtaking 145 billion US dollars, civic groups which took action against tobacco companies, analysts predict the verdict will spur further class-action lawsuits against the tobacco industry.
Among the pending cases againt the tobacco companies are cases filed under the foreign action category. Lawyers have filed lawsuits against the industry on behalf of citizens in Argentina, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey. Tobacco industry sources said yesterday they would appeal against the Florida court ruling and the cases could drag on for years before any damages are paid.
A new political alliance — the Left and Democratic Alliance — will be launched on July 27, national organizer Vasudeva Nanayakkara said.
Addressing a news conference, Mr Nanayakkara said the alliance would organise progressive and democratic forces under one umbrella for upcoming elections. He claimed there was growing disenchantment among the progressives in the Peoples Alliance and the new Alliance would bring them within its fold.
On the national question, Mr Nanayakkara said he did not oppose asymmetrical devolution for the North and the East.
The inaugural pubic meeting of the new alliance, will take place at the Shalika Hall in Colombo on July 27.
A delegation from the European Parliament was due to arrive in Sri Lanka yesterday to assess the political situation in the country.
The British members of the European Parliament, Richard Hewitt and Robert Evans, say they'll be examining the plight of displaced people in the Northern Jaffna peninsula and assessing the prospects for peace in the Sri Lankan civil war.
Their arrival follows the departure of a senior British diplomat, Peter Westmacott, who held talks with senior members of the government and opposition on Thursday and Friday.
The BBC correspondent in Colombo says an increased number of overseas visitors in the coming weeks will be closely watching the efforts by the President Kumaratunga to end the Sri Lankan civil war. - BBC
Swiss seek evidence
Sri Lanka has asked the Swiss authorities to investigate LTTE fund-raising activities in Switzerland.
It is concerned at the growth of LTTE support groups in Switzerland, where 30,000 Tamil refugees live.
But the Swiss say, without firm evidence, they cannot prosecute the groups or freeze their funds.
The Sri Lankan Government in the aftermath of recent military setbacks has intensified its campaign to prevent the Tamil community abroad from funding the conflict.
The Sri Lankans suspect that Tamil support groups are raising money from the Tamil community in Switzerland to buy arms.
They say there is evidence that large sums of money, up to $1.2m, are collected every month.
But the Swiss want definite proof from the Sri Lankan government.
The Swiss police estimate two-thirds of the 30,000 Tamils living in Switzerland support the movement for independence.
They say they have strong suspicions that the support groups, acting under the cover of cultural associations, are raising money to fund the 17-year-old war, but they have no evidence.
Neutral Switzerland is seen as an attractive base for groups such as the LTTE, because it is not subject to UN or European Union efforts to ban fund-raising activities. - BBC
By Kevin Platt
BEIJING: Like survivors picking through rubble for reusable bricks, the US Secretary of Defense and China's top leaders are searching for ways to rebuild military ties 14 months after NATO jets bombed Beijing's embassy in Belgrade.
There have been some signs of progress during Secretary William Cohen's talks here this week, but defense experts say that the US and China are much more likely to become rivals than allies in the coming years.
The US sees itself as "the indispensable nation" as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it recently, guardian of stability in the Asia-Pacific region. But as Beijing begins transforming its remarkable economic growth into military might, the potential rises for clashes between the two on issues ranging from US alliances in Asia to global weapons sales. Chinese officials, for example, were indignant yesterday when Israel, prompted by the US, scrapped a $250 million radar sale to China.
Cohen's talks in Beijing with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the People's Liberation Army's top brass were aimed at forging stronger defense ties for the future, but were often marred in disputes of the present: US military support for democratic Taiwan, the American proposal to build a defense shield against missile attacks, and suspicions that China is transferring missile or nuclear technology to Pakistan, Iran, and Libya.
"The rivalry between the two is already emerging," says Peter Rodman, a defense analyst at the Washington-based Nixon Center.
With a defense budget one-fifth the size of Washington's, China's army is still decades behind US forces, but it is already taking sniper shots at the American security presence in Asia, he adds. Mr. Rodman cites China's stepped-up threats this year to use military means to reunify with Taiwan. Washington says it does not support Taiwan's independence, but provides the island with arms to ward off an invasion from the mainland.
When US arms negotiator John Holum said last week that Washington had not ruled out including the island in an American missile defe–nse umbrella, the comment triggered a tirade of Chinese commentaries against the plan.
The state-run China Daily said yesterday that the US thirsted for "global hegemony," and added that "what is most devastating to global disarmament and arms control is the US attempt to deploy its national missile defense (NMD) system and theater missile defense system."
In response, Cohen told students at the Chinese National Defense University that "very often what you hear about the United States in your media does not fairly represent our plans or our purposes. To watch Chinese newscasts ... is to see a picture of the US as a hegemonistic nation, engaged in a campaign against other nations, including China."
Cohen added, "These misperceptions are not only unhelpful - they are untrue."
Chinese arms control and defense officials often say that US proposals to build an anti-nuclear shield could spark a arms race, and that a smaller shield for Taiwan would force the mainland to increase its missile forces.
But analyst Rodman says "there already is an arms race, and it started with China's missile build-up opposite Taiwan."
Other defense experts say that China's threat to boost its nuclear stockpile in response to NMD might also be a smoke screen.
"China is already expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal," says June Dreyer, an expert on the Chinese military at the University of Miami. "China wants to use the threat of a nuclear strike against San Francisco or Los Angeles as a deterrent to the US helping Taiwan," she adds.
China hopes to reclaim Taiwan as part of its reemergence as a great power, and knows that only the US stands in the way of that goal, say many experts. Although China is still outgu–nned in conventional forces, it hoped that the veiled threat of a nuclear response could ward off American intervention, but a US missile shield would negate that threat.
The Pentagon said in a recent report that "Since the early 1990s, the focus of Chinese military strategy has been on preparing for potential military contingencies along China's southeastern flank, especially in the Taiwan Strait."
– Christian Science Monitor
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