LSSP pulls out of joint opposition statement
By Harinda Vidanage
A fresh crisis emerged in the PA yesterday when one of the senior constituent parties announced it was dissociating itself from the joint opposition statement on the peace talks and the LTTE's temporary pullout. LSSP leader Batty Weerakoon said his party had not been given sufficient time to read the statement and therefore did not sign it.

He said the statement had been hurriedly drafted and he believed the opposition should have waited till the government officially responded to the LTTE's letter.
Mr. Weerakoon said his party believed that instead of commenting on a whole lot of matters and confusing the situation, the PA could have addressed key issues such as the activity in Sri Lanka's territorial waters, the government's inability to deal with the LTTE in negotiations, and its failure to maintain proper relations with the President. The joint statement was signed by the SLFP, the JVP, the MEP, the NUA, the EPDP and the PLOTE among others.

Former service chiefs hit out at SLMM
By Chris Kamalendran
Former service chiefs have reacted angrily to Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission chief Tryggve Teleffsen's proposal that the government "recognise the LTTE Sea Tigers as a de facto naval unit and demarcate areas at sea for live firing exercise by them.
Former Navy Comm-ander Cecil Tissera said the country could not have more than one Navy.

"There are no two states in Sri Lanka. Therefore this question does not arise. We should not even consider such a proposal. Nowhere in the world have we seen one country having two navies." Vice Admiral Tissera said the SLMM had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

Former Air force Chief Harry Gunethilake said the Delft and Mullaitivu incidents had apparently prompted the SLMM to make this proposal but there was only one Navy and the sea could not be demarcated.

He said the Tamils had a right to monitor the Indian fishing boats in Mannar and Thalimanar but it had to be done jointly with the navy. Former Army Comm-ander Hamilton Wanasinghe accused the SLMM of playing a double role.

"They came as observers but now they are acting as agents. It is the Navy which has to control the Sri Lanka territorial waters. If we accept the proposal, it will be a violation not only of our constitution but also of international laws.

"It is not the SLMM's duty to advise us to accept the Sea Tiger as a legal force. The navy has the freedom to operate whereever it wants. If we recognise the Sea Tigers as a de facto naval unit, it will be like having two countries and two navies," he said.
Retired DIG H.M.G.B. Kotakedeniya said that the Sri Lanka Army has already gone to the level of the LTTE by shaking hands with uniformed LTTE cadres.

"If we accept the Sea Tigers as a de facto naval unit, the Navy would be brought to the level of the Tigers." He said he was totally opposed to the proposals of the SLMM which came as a monitor and was now trying to be a mediator.

Casino King returns with theme park plan
Controversial casino king Joe Sim who was asked to leave the country made a comeback last week, promising huge investments in Sri Lanka. Mr. Sim who left Sri Lanka in 1991 on a removal order of the Premadasa government, now says he wants to build a theme park, a Disneyland of sorts, in Sri Lanka. Ironically the man who was asked to leave by a UNP government, claims that he returned on the invitation of the present UNF Government to boost the tourism industry.

The theme park which is to be on a 350 acre land has been chosen close to the airport and the new highway. Promising 10,000 jobs for the rural people, Mr. Sim claims that the theme park will be like the parks in Los Angeles, France and Japan. The theme park with a swimming pool, shopping complex, restaurants and mini cinema will also include a casino.

Mr. Sim who came to Sri Lanka as a gem merchant in the late '70s, emerged as one of the top foreign business magnates in Sri Lanka with the backing of politicians of the 1988 UNP government. Commenting on his comeback, Mr. Sim said that he was never deported in 1991 but was only asked to leave.

"If I was deported how can I return to the country?" he asked. Meanwhile Tourism Minister Gamini Lokuge told The Sunday Times that although Mr. Sim was asked to leave the country during the UNP regime, he was welcome again as an investor. "We will not permit any person with ulterior motives to invest in the country. We have identified three sites in Balapitya, Beruwela and Marawila for tourism purposes," Minister Lokuge said.

Women's groups want peace
A group of women's organisations have appealed to the Government and the LTTE to resume peace talks in order to arrive at a peaceful political solution putting an end to the 20-year-long conflict.

The appeal came from fifteen women's organisations following the LTTE's decision to temporarily withdraw from the negotiating table last Monday. The organisations drew attention to the sufferings experienced by the people, particularly in the North and the East due to the protracted war.The organisations also called upon other individuals and institutions in support of peace to join hands in raising their voices to coax the Government and the LTTE to resume suspended talks. While progress made thus far has been commendable, the organisations urged that continuing to seek a peaceful solution was imperative.

Bradman going to north
The Prime Minister's secretary, Bradman Weerakoon, is to meet Jaffna Government Agent S Pathmanathan and other officials today to expedite resettlement programmes and rehabilitation of people in the North.

This comes a few days after the LTTE pulled out of the peace talks and the rehabilitation sub committee, complaining that the government was not implementing relief measures.

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