Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ceylinco Chairman Lalith Kothalawala Remanded For Financial Mismanagement

Sri Lanka’s well known businessman Mr. Lalith Kothalawala has been remanded by the Mt.Lavinia magistrate this afternoon. Mr. Kothalawala is a top businessman in Sri Lankan who has more than 250 businesses where most of them are financial institutions such as banks, finance companies and real estate companies.

The controversial Golden Key credit card company which was owned by him crashed off recently due to the financial mismanagement. It is believed that the billions of customer deposits have been swallowed by the company. Recently Mr. Kothalawala announced that he will sell his stake in Saylan bank to repay the customer deposits of Golden Key company and after that feared customers of the bank started withdrawing money.

A warrent has issued to remand his wife Cecile Kothalawala also and magistrate has also ordered to repay the customer deposits within 10 days.         

Friday, February 20, 2009

LTTE Aircraft Shot Down at Katuayake

A returning LTTE aircraft after dropping a bomb to Colombo, has been shot down by SLAF in Katunayake. According to the available information a body of the pilot has been found so far and search operations are continuing.
Around 35 people have injured by the bomb blast. LTTE crafts have dropped the bomb to the inlend revenue department building but most probably their actual target might be some other place.

Colombo Air Defense System Activated

Air defense systems of Colombo city has activated as a security measure. Most of the areas are experiencing an intentional power cut also.
Await more information.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sri Lankan Mobile Telephony Market Heats Up Again – Cheapest Prepaid Package From Mobitel

The highly aggressive Sri Lankan mobile market has shaken once again with the introduction of a new tariff plan by Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel. India’s Airtel started operation in Sri Lanka from the January this year and almost all the existing operators started slashing mobile charges aggressively. However Airtel came up with a “Very Simple Plan” of Rs 2/min outgoing to any network with incoming totally free without a daily rental.  

With the new Mobitel SMART tariff plan outgoing local calls will be Rs 2.50 and incoming is totally free without any conditions. If the customer is using Mobitel network for more than a year 10% of a discount will be offered and if the time he spent on the network is more than 2 years a discount of 20% will be offered. Therefore a customer who has been using Mobitel for 2 years can expect outgoing calls to any network at Rs 2.00 per minute.

At present Dialog has the largest market share which is they are loosing rapidly and Mobitel , Tigo and Hutch shares the rest more or less. Dialog has been able to minimize the number of customers who are abandoning the network with the introduction of Dialog Blaster package. But most popular Upahara post paid package from Mobitel is still on top and still manages to grab customers in thousands. Probably we can expect some kind of a tariff revision for Upahara also in the near future. 

Mobitel Smart New Tariff Details 

VAS1st YearAfter 
1st Year
2nd Year
SMS to M Best Friend Mobitel Number **50 cents
SMS to Mobitel Numbers75 Cents68 Cents60 Cents
SMS to any other Local NumberRs. 190 cents80 Cents
SMS to Overseas Numbers per messageRs. 5
MMS to Mobitel NumbersRs. 2Rs. 1.80Rs. 1.60
MMS to Email or any other Local NumberRs. 5Rs. 4.50Rs. 4
MMS to Overseas NumbersRs. 10
(Uplink and Downlink Speeds upto 1Mbps)
1 cent per kB

Dial  #111# to activate new Mobitel Smart package.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monitors say polls relatively violence-free but not free and fair

Pix by Gemunu Wellage, J. Weerasekera, Shane Seneviratne, Hiran Priyankara Jayasinghe, Kanchana Kumara Ariyadass, Pushpakumara Jayaratne, Augustine Fernando and Hilton Berenger

Given Sri Lankas violence-ridden elections in its recent history, the run-up to yesterday's polls in the Central and North Western Provinces was surprisingly calm and peaceful, according to police and polls monitors.There was violence, but it was few and far between. But this did not mean that the playfield was level.

Opposition parties and polls monitors charged that state resources were at the disposal of UPFA candidates who were seen making use of state vehicles and buildings. The role the state media played in bolstering the UPFA was no less, they said.

Polls monitors said the run-up to the polls was comparatively less violent, though they began to receive more complaints of assault and intimidation as election day approached.

Voting at a polling booth in Kandy

The People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said it had received 64 complaints of violent incidents from the two provinces during the six weeks of campaigning which ended on Thursday. But eight incidents were reported to them after the campaign ended on Thursday.

"When compared to the 191 incidents reported from the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces during the elections held there in August, the pre election period in the Central and North Western Provinces was relatively calm," PAFFREL's Deputy Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.
According to PAFFREL figures, the 64 complaints also included 21 cases of assault and 12 instances of causing damage to party offices. In the Central Province, 25 incidents were reported from Kandy, 12 from Matale and five from Nuwara Eliya, while in the North Western province, 17 cases were from Puttalam and five from Kurunegela.

In one of the serious incidents after the campaigning ended, a vehicle of a UNP candidate was attacked on Thursday at Anamaduwa in the Puttalam district, Mr. Hettiarachchi said.

He said informal meetings and campaigning activities continued in Kandy and Puttalam areas even after Thursday's deadline with several of these meetings taking the form of religious ceremonies. 
He said PAFFREL welcomed the Elections Commissioner's move to appoint special officers to check identity cards or other valid documents of the voters at every polling booth.

Keerthi Tennakoon, media spokesman for the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), said he would not label the elections as free and fair. He said his group had received 103 complaints regarding election violence in the run-up to the polls.

Of the 70 complaints recorded in the Central Province, 32 cases were from Kandy, 20 from Nuwara Eliya and 18 from Matale. In the North Western province, 15 incidents were from Puttalam and 18 from Kurunegela.

"Although the number of election-related violent incidents has declined, state property was misused on a large scale. Election law violations occurred in every district, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. We can only say that there was less violence, when compared with some of the elections held in the recent past," he said.

Mr. Tennakoon said there was little voter enthusiasm and as a result voter education programmes, especially on the need to produce an identity document at the polling booth, were at their minimal. 
Backing up his allegation of misuse of state property by UPFA candidates, the CaFFE spokesman said a vehicle belonging to the Tea Research Institute (TRI) of Thalawakele was seen being used by UPFA activists in the Nuwara Eliya district with the state emblem on the vehicle being covered by party stickers. 
The National Polls Observation Center (NPOC) said it received 66 complaints of election violence. Its spokesman Sagara Kariyawasam said only one incident reported from Puttalam was of serious nature where firearms were brandished by a group.

He said his group was happy that election violence was low during the run-up to yesterday's elections to the two provincial councils but it would be happier if the polls were conducted in a free and fair manner.

Local politico's brother behind attack: UNP

UPFA supporters attacked the UNP main election office in Nawalapitiya town last evening causing injuries to nine party supporters and extensive damage to the glass panes and furniture of the office, a UNP spokesman charged.

He alleged that a brother of a local politician had led the gang soon after polling closed and the attack took place in spite of police presence some 500 metres away from the scene.

Polls calm and dull except for Baiz antics
Sunday - Columbo,Sri Lanka
As in other districts, Puttalam saw a relatively low voter turnout for ... In certain rural areas of Puttalam, the voter turnout was less than 40 percent. ...


Repeat performance at polls, says report

Repeat performance at polls, says report

Several election-related incidents, including attacks on vehicles, canvassing and chasing away voters, were reported from the North Western and Central Provinces yesterday.

People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) charged that election propaganda was carried out by two UPFA candidates on the day of polling through a radio channel in Puttalam.

Postal vote results:

Nuwara Eliya District                    Matale District

UPFA 3685                     UPFA 6756

UNP 1203                       UNP 1501

JVP 99                                 JVP 209

PAFFREL also received reports of voters being chased away from polling stations in Kandy, PAFFREL deputy executive director Rohana Hettiarachchi said. The vehicle of a UNP supporter was attacked by a man on a motorcycle bearing the number plate CPUC 2839 near the polling booth in Ratmalgahaela primary school.

The vehicle of a UNP candidate also came under attack by two UPFA supporters in Dambulla town at about 11 am yesterday. In Pahalawewa, a group had driven away UNP people who had come to cast their votes and proceeded to paste stickers of the UPFA candidate on vehicles.

The Sunday Times learns that the presence of armed gangs in jeeps outside polling booths in Ehelepola and Dimbulagamuwa had led voters to turn away without casting their votes.

The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) received incidents of polling agents being threatened in areas in Kandy, Pathadumbara, Nawalapitiya and Kundasale, its media spokesman Keerthi Tennakoon said.

He added that canvassing was also carried out in Matale, Kandy, Pilimathalawa and Hunnasgiriya during elections with several candidates urging voters to cast their votes for them.


Repeat performance at polls, says report
Sunday - Columbo,Sri Lanka
... Elections (PAFFREL) charged that election propaganda was carried out by two UPFA candidates on the day of polling through a radio channel in Puttalam. ...


Polls calm and dull except for Baiz antics

North Western Province

Asif Fuard reporting from Puttalam

As in other districts, Puttalam saw a relatively low voter turnout for yesterday's provincial elections with most people apparently more interested in their daily chores than in voting.

Many polling stations reported a shocking turnout of less than 20 voters upto noon. Some of them were empty with only the Presiding Officers, independent elections monitors and police officers being present when The Sunday Times team visited the polling stations.

This situation had never prevailed before in this part of the region which often had a voter turnout of more than 50 percent. In certain rural areas of Puttalam, the voter turnout was less than 40 percent. 
"I have been a presiding officer for many elections but I have not seen such a low voter turnout. It seems as if there is no election happening. Many people are continuing with their day-to-day activities and it seems they believe they have more important things to do rather than casting their vote," a presiding officer said.

People were seen walking on the streets of Puttalam like on any other day with shops playing loud music and vendors trying to sell their goods. There was little or no election fever accept for the candidates and their supporters who roamed the streets of Puttalam with UPFA stickers of the candidates pasted on their vehicles.

Salim Farook who runs a bakery on the Kurunagela-Puttalam road said he did not want to cast his vote because he thought that the two main parties had not fielded a candidate who deserved his vote.
"I think this election is a waste of time. People are not in the mood for elections. We have to finish the war and then develop the economy. Over here people are fed up with politicians who give false promises," he said.

Truck driver Hussain Abdullah said he had no confidence in any candidate. Three-wheeler driver Rameez Abdeen said that he did not wish to waste his time on voting as he had to do more important things such as earning for the upkeep of his family.

"In the past, elections were like carnivals. But people have appeared to have lost interest and hope. There are no proper provincial leaders who are genuinely committed to fulfil the people's needs. So I decided not to vote," hardware businessman Mohamed Nusky said.

In contrast, school teacher Sithy Fathima said she and her family woke up early in the morning to cast their votes. "I only pray and hope whichever party or candidate that comes into power doesn't let the people of Puttalam and the Wayamba down," she said.

Despite the low voter turnout, the silver lining in yesterday's elections was that it was one of the calmest or the most non-violent in recent times. A few isolated incidents took place but nothing like the notorious Wayamba polls of 1999.

In one of the serious incidents at the Fathima Centre polling booth in the heart of Puttalam town, Deputy Minister K.A Baiz is reported to have almost clashed with police officers.

Mr. Baiz had come with several of his supporters to the booth and attempted to forcibly enter. When he was questioned by two police officers, he told them that he had brought food for one of his polling agents.

As words were exchanged between the deputy minister and the two police officers, Mr. Baiz's supporters had reportedly tried to assault the officers, who in turn had pointed their T-56 assault rifles at the politician and his supporters.

Finally, Mr. Baiz is reported to have telephoned a senior police officer and got the two police officers moved elsewhere, while he had his way. A CID officer stationed at the Zahira National College polling booth faced a similar situation.

The CID officer, who was sent from Colombo for election duty, said some UPFA supporters had been canvassing and handing out leaflets outside the polling station.

"When I tried to stop them handing over leaflets making announcements on loudspeakers, they ignored me. They were even bringing in vehicles full of people to vote. It was obvious this was orchestrated by a particular politician. I didn't allow them to go in and told Puttalam police officers to take action. I was shocked to hear the police officers take the politician's side and say that one of the individuals was a candidate and I had to let them in," he said.

Previously Deputy Minister Baiz using a provincial radio channel called "Puttalam FM" asked the people to vote for the betel leaf. Election monitors of PAFFREL called this action a violation of the election laws.



Polls calm and dull except for Baiz antics
Sunday - Columbo,Sri Lanka
As in other districts, Puttalam saw a relatively low voter turnout for ... In certain rural areas of Puttalam, the voter turnout was less than 40 percent. ...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SEP campaigns in a Sri Lankan fishing village

By our correspondents      10 February 2009

As part of its campaign for the February 14 provincial elections in Sri Lanka, a Socialist Equality Party (SEP) team visited Udappu, an isolated fishing village in the Puttalam district of Northwestern province. The SEP is standing two lists, each of 19 candidates, one for Puttalam district and the other for Nuwara Eliya district in Central Province.

The party is well known in Udappu as a result of its principled opposition to the government's war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the SEP's campaigns against the victimisation of the island's Tamil minority. The population of the village is about 15,000—most are Tamils descended from poor immigrants from India.

To reach Udappu, one has to take a disintegrating 4-kilometre road from the Colombo-Puttalam main road at Battuluoya, north of Chilaw. On both sides of the road are deserted fields and prawn farms where village women can be seen working. The only transport is a private passenger bus service that runs between Chilaw and Udappu every two hours.

Women carting waterWomen carting water

Udappu is a compact village with eight sections, including Andimunai, Selvapuram and six wards. Most fishermen are very poor. Their homes are huts with wooden walls and thatched roofs. During our visit, several huts were leaning badly and about to collapse. They have no sanitary facilities or water supply. Villagers have to buy drinking water brought by a tractor for five rupees per 15 litres. Some people walk long distances to collect water from a well in buckets or pots. But the available well water is salty.

While Udappu is nowhere near the frontlines of the civil war, the conflict nevertheless reaches into every aspect of life. As Tamils, the fishermen are automatically treated by the security forces as supporters of the LTTE and suspected of smuggling. Heavy restrictions have been placed on their fishing activities, leading to a loss of income. Locals are subject to constant harassment by police and military personnel who conduct frequent sweeps through the village. Over the past year, several people have been murdered or abducted—in all likelihood by military-sponsored death squads that have killed or "disappeared" hundreds throughout the island.

Fisherman preparing to go to seaFisherman preparing to go to sea

Some 4,000 families depend on fishing for their income. The poorer fishermen use rafts, known as teppam made from wooden logs or fibreglass. A small navy camp has been established in Udappu as a base for patrolling. Fishermen are banned from coming close to navy vessels and must return from sea by 9 p.m. A pass system has been recently imposed on boat owners. They have to obtain their passes from a navy camp at Kalpitiya, about 70 kilometres further north. If they go to sea without a pass, they face physical abuse.

Selva 53, a fisherman, said: "The president says war is over. How can it come to an end as long as the cause of the war is there, as it is? I don't think that peace will prevail in this country. The situation may become worse. After this victory, the communally-minded elements have taken the upper hand. Only the unity of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people can get rid of the present political parties and bring prosperity and peace."

Selva's son-in-law was abducted last March by an armed group in a white van—the trademark of the death squads—but somehow managed to escape. Fearing for his life, he fled to India. Selva continued: "Recently some fishermen who came near the navy camp in their boats were detained, ordered to kneel for hours and all of them were soaked in water a number of times. Limitations have been imposed on the fishing areas. We can't carry out our fishing activities as normal."

Letchumanan Letchumanan

Letchumanan, another fisherman, compared the situation in the war-torn North and East with Udappu. "What a lot of trouble we face with the presence of a small number of navy personnel in a normal area like this. What must it be like for those people, who live in a war zone with a large number of armed troops waging a war?"

One woman was feeding her one-year-old son inside her thatched hut when we spoke to her. She began crying as she explained: "Last September two persons came, knocked on our door and called for my husband. They were in trousers and jackets and asked about someone else's house. I was also standing there with my husband. They asked me for matches. As I went inside, they started shooting. I turned round and saw my husband lying dead on the ground. They rushed off toward a checkpoint on their motorbike.

"The police came and took my husband to the hospital for a post-mortem. The police took no action. Nothing happened after that. Now my son and I have to go house-to-house to find something to eat. There is no one to help us. It was with the knowledge of the police and security forces that my husband was killed," she said.

The villagers were generally scornful and angry about the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the main opposition party, the United National Party (UNP), whose candidates and supporters have again appeared in the village making a new round of empty promises to get votes.

A UPFA candidate, Riyas, issued a leaflet claiming that President Mahinda Rajapakse was carrying out "development programs" while waging the "war against terrorism." L.M. Aupkhan, the main UNP candidate for Puttalam, claimed as a council member to have brought education, transport, electricity, health and self employment facilities to the area.

But the villagers said they had received nothing. They explained that they were seeing these politicians for the first time since local government elections three years ago. Their living standards had deteriorated since Rajapakse restarted the communal war in 2006.

SEP member Karunanithi addressing villagersSEP member Karunanithi addressing villagers

V. Karunanithi, a local fisherman and SEP candidate, explained what day-to-day life was like for Udappu's fishing families. "Because of lack of time and economic burdens our families cook only one meal—rice and one or two curries—per day [that serves] for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We rarely have different meals. We don't cook the expensive fish we catch. We sell those and buy cheap fish for our own use. Usually we eat fish with one or two cheap vegetables.

"We go fishing in the very early hours—at about 3 or 4 a.m. When we reach the shore at about 9 a.m., our wives are there to help us. They help in removing the fish and rubbish from the net. And again we have to disentangle the net. Some days we earn some money and some days nothing. Only on Friday do we have a day off.

"Many people from this village, mostly the women, never travel to other areas. Sometimes they travel to the East with their husbands when they go to fish there. As they sacrifice their whole life to the sea, they never enjoy a family trip or a picnic."

Another fisherman said: "I don't have a boat, so I work for a number of boat owners. Normally during the fishing season I used to get 250 to 500 rupees [$US2.15-$4.38] per day. You just imagine how little you can do with this money when you compare it with the price of basic food items. Even when we go to sea we have to carry our national identity cards, in addition to the fishing pass. But to get a pass, we have to spend days without earning any money."

Women drying fishWomen drying fish

Referring to the present humanitarian crisis produced by the war, he said: "Tamil people in the Wanni have fallen into the fire from the pan. Earlier the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremasinghe spoke about peace. But now they are clearly supporting the war."

During the south-western monsoon period, Udappu fishermen used to cross the island to the east coast, especially to Trincomalee, to fish. They would stay there for about six months in temporary thatched huts. As the war intensified, they faced growing restrictions and difficulties in the East. Now they are not allowed to sail more than five miles off shore. If they pass that limit, they could be shot at by the navy.

A young fisherman explained the problems. "To go to Trincomalee we need 30,000 or 40,000 rupees [$US263-$350]. We have to load all the fishing gear and goods for meals on the lorry. If we work for a boat owner, we have to pay him an advance of 20,000 rupees. After paying the loans we give our family the balance before leaving again. They have to manage on that money for six months."

Education and health facilities in Udappu are limited—three schools and a hospital developed by NGOs. Many students drop out of school after, or even before, completing their ordinary levels due to lack of money.

One father explained: "Students have to bring water from home as the school has no water supply. We pay 450 rupees per year for school fees. As the government doesn't pay for volunteer teachers, the parents have to collect the money and pay them. The hospital has only one doctor. We took a person who had an accident while fishing to the hospital. The doctor was not there. The fisherman died on the way to Chilaw hospital."

Villagers at an outdoor SEP meetingVillagers at an outdoor SEP meeting

The SEP team campaigned in Udappu for two days then held an outdoor meeting on February 6. About 50 people gathered around the speakers while several hundred more stood listening at a distance, concerned about being too closely identified with the SEP's meeting. W.A. Sunil, V. Karunanithi, Kapila Fernando, A. Shantha Kumar—all SEP candidates—addressed the crowd. Sinhala speakers were translated into Tamil.

As Karunanithi was speaking, one man called out in support for having the courage to mention the large number of killings and abductions that had taken place over the past year. The speeches provoked considerable discussion, with a number of people commenting that this was the only party that told the truth about the war and the conditions they faced.


SEP campaigns in a Sri Lankan fishing village
World Socialist Web Site - Oak Park,MI,USA
The SEP is standing two lists, each of 19 candidates, one for Puttalam district and the other for Nuwara Eliya district in Central Province. ...


Polls violence on the rise: CMEV

The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) yesterday said the total number of election related incidents of violence in both the Central and North Western Provinces had reached 80 by 12 noon yesterday.

CMEV Co Convener Dr. P. Sarawanamuttu said in a statement yesterday that there have been a total of 48 major incidents and 32 minor incidents reported. There had been three incidents of the use of firearms reported. Over 49 incidents have been reported from Central province while 31were from the North Western Province. The Central Province saw the most violence with 19 incidents reported while the highest number of incidents in the North Western Province was seen in Puttalam with 16 incidents.

Over 56 complaints were received against the UPFA while four were against the UNP. Only one complaint was received against the JVP. Over 19 complaints had also been received against unidentified parties.


Polls violence on the rise: CMEV
Daily Mirror - Colombo,Western,Sri Lanka
... the most violence with 19 incidents reported while the highest number of incidents in the North Western Province was seen in Puttalam with 16 incidents. ...

Zwischen den Fronten verzweifeln die gepeinigten Menschen
Main Post - Germany
Die meisten von ihnen leben immer noch in Auffanglagern im Puttalam Distrikt im Westen Sri Lankas. Eine massive Zuspitzung des Konflikts zeichnete sich seit ...


International tenders to be called for Kalpitiya tourism project

Lumbini Edirisinghe

International tenders will be called in two months from foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the proposed Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Development Project (KITRDP) in the Puttalam district, along the north western coast of the country.

The total cost of investment will be Rs. 400 billion. The proposed Kalpitiya Tourism Zone is an eight-mile long strip of land in the Kalpitiya peninsula. "There are eight islands ranging from one acre with the total land extent being over 3,000 square miles.

Kalpitiya was a dream of the tourism industry and it would take a further two years for the first hotel to be opened

The Ministry of Tourism hopes to convert the area to an up market destination with golf courses, cable cars, amusement parks and night entertainment facilities," said Director General Sri Lanka Tourism, S. Kalaiselvam. He said that the Authority has already released 14 islands for the project.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is hoping to create 15,000 direct employment opportunities and 50,000 indirect employment opportunities under the the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Development Project.

The chain of hotels with a total capacity of 400 rooms will be developed by the Authority.

The Government hopes to expand infrastructure facilities such as road development, electricity, hospitals and condominiums similar to a mini city concept.

He also said that Kalpitiya was a dream of the tourism industry and it would take a further two years for the first hotel to be opened. "We expect this would attract high spending clients and the minimum room rate per night would be over US $ 400 per day," he said. The current average spending of a tourist is less than US $ 70.

The Wilpattu National Park is expected to be opened this year and this unspoilt wildlife national park would add value to Kalpitiya as a destination due to its close proximity location.

The total revenue generated from the industry last year was around US $ 380 million. This was from 438,000 arrivals with India bringing in the highest number. This year with peace on the horizon revenue is expected to top the US $ 400 million mark.

"Six-hundred new rooms were added last year despite a lean patch the country went through," he said.

Despite the global downturn the Board of Investment (BOI) had signed new agreements to build star-class hotels this year. "This also includes investments in the North East as well," he said.

"Some local investors too have shown an interest in investing in the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Development Project," said an official of Sri Lanka Tourism.

The Tourism Authority is also looking at a similar project at Dedduwa in Bentota. In addition the Trincomalee area will also be developed as an up market tourist destination.




International tenders to be called for Kalpitiya tourism project
Ceylon Daily News - Ceylon,Sri Lanka
International tenders will be called in two months from foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the proposed Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Resort Development ...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sangakkara - Hutch or Airtel?

Sangakkara - Hutch or Airtel?

By Hilal - Posted on 30 January 2009

I stumbled on a story in the Island publication the other day titled:

'I changed from cricket to marketing. That's a very easy way out – A mock hero' .

Revata S. Silva puts a nonsensical spin to Kumar Sangakkara switching over as brand ambassador of Hutch to Airtel.

"Ten days ago, when Sangakkara appeared in a TV advertisement promoting a new mobile phone service saying "I changed to … (the new mobile phone service name). This is a very easy plan." The rational viewers would have felt sick of the man. It was only the other day that the posh Kandyan sportsman, Sri Lanka's probable future captain, had promoted another mobile phone service in a series of ads. Money talks. The habit of selling knows no ethics," writes Revata.  I consider my self to be a 'rational viewer'? How come I did not 'feel sick in the stomach'? I wonder what code of ethics were broken when a sportsman chose to take on a new commercial endorsement?

Revata wasn't done there,  "From a corporate angle too, Sangakkara has created enemies by betraying ethically a customer base by stepping into the shoes of a rival party overnight.".

Somehow I don't think the author of the story knows enough of the situation to write such an insulting piece. Not only is he oblivious to fact, he does not give enough credit to the consumer. Somehow in his own warped view of reality he seems to forget that the consumer already knows the endorsement is of commercial nature. How many of us signed up to Hutch because Sanga said so? Now how many switched over form Hutch to Airtel because Sanga said so? When you paint the public as impressionable kids then the above argument may hold some ground. I wonder how Kumar Sangakkara managed to 'betray ethically'  Hutch's customer base.

The realities are that after a 3 year contract with Hutch, it was Hutch who decided not to pursue an extension of the contract. It was not a case of Sangakkara switching sides overnight. Revata may have seen Hutch running ads of late, the contract however expired in august of 2008. Five months had passed prior to the signing of the new endorsement.

In a statement today to Island Cricket this is what Sanga had to say.

"Between July 2005 and August 2008 I had a contract with Hutch only. I enjoyed my three years working with Hutch and the relationship was mutually beneficial. When the contract expired, in August of last year, Hutch informed me that they would not be renewing the contract as they sought a fresh marketing direction. We parted on good terms and I wish them all the best for the future." - Kumar Sangakkara.

There is nothing unethical about making money through hard work and years of dedication. An International sportsman or athlete must perform consistently for years before even being considered for a commercial endorsement by a large corporate entity. It is only just that after many a sacrifice the player gets to benefit from the fame and reputation that he strove to achieve.

We have no ambition to please foreign powers and protect our positions - President Mahinda Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that his government had no intention of privatizing any public enterprises.

"My government had not resorted to privatizing any government ventures in the past, and there are no plans of doing so even in the future", the President told a well attended meeting of teachers, bank employees and lawyers from Wayamba (North Western Province) at the Kandy Janadhipathi Mandhiraya on Friday afternoon.

He allayed fears of privatization of state-owned enterprises and blamed the previous UNP administration for not recruiting personnel to the public service.

The President said that not a single person was recruited to the public service during the UNP regime. "We have found employment for several thousands and increased the number of public sector cadres to approximately 1.2 million".

"We have not ignored the public service. Nor have we neglected it. Public servants must be given due regard and recognition and their services must be appreciated", he noted.

"We have placed an abundance of confidence on public servants that they will dedicate towards the protection and development of our country. We invite the public sector to contribute their might to the progress and protection of the country and assure our responsibility to safeguard their interests. We are all committed to ensure a bright and prosperous future for our children", President Rajapaksa said.

Those in the public service being educated and intelligent have already understood the importance of all barriers blocking the path to development and also the importance of the integrity of our motherland and the impediments to the unity of the nation, he said.

The President told the meeting that the very same factors that betrayed democracy in the country are now crying for democracy.

He said the Muslims in their thousands were driven from the North and the East by the terrorists. Those in the camps of Puttalam are the victims forced out from the North. The agreement entered into with the LTTE by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe betrayed not only democracy but also the rights of the people who lived in the region for generations.

While the Sinhala and Muslim communities lost their traditional abodes, the people who laid claim for their motherland were compelled to pay a tax to the terrorists to move about. The people who have suffered enough under the terror rule of the LTTE are desperately pleading to be rescued from the clutches of the terrorists. The people say they are even ready to go hungry if their freedom to live safely is restored, the President noted.

"The expectations of the innocent people are now realizing. We have been able to cage the terrorists to a very limited area. With the sacrifice of our heroic security forces, we will be able to witness the end of terrorism before long".

Some political leaders did not take the threat of terrorism so seriously. They were not keen to rid the country of terrorism. Such leaders did not give priority to their motherland. They could not even think that they should have a country first to do politics. Those leaders were concerned about safeguarding their positions. Their ambition was to protect their positions by pleasing foreign powers, he asserted.

"To us it is different. Our primary concern is the motherland. In our politics our No. 1 priority is the country. Second and third interests are also the country. Every decision is taken for the sake of the country and the people. We have no ambition to please the foreign powers and protect our positions. There is no ulterior motive of clinging to power. We do not want to go abroad leaving our motherland. We want to go back to the village and share the rural life with our villagers", the President stressed.

"Therefore, we must develop the country and allow our future generations to live a safe and contended life", the President noted.

The President referred to some of the development projects already completed and some which are in progress.

He said a financial allocation was granted by the World Bank towards the development of roads in Kegalle district, which he had observed during a recent visit to the area.

Many concrete roadways have been completed in rural Sri Lanka. Some are completed while some others are nearing completion without any foreign assistance, the President said.

He said the victory for UPFA at the Central and North Western Provincial election will be a support to the development process and the eradication of terrorism.

Ministers S. B. Nawinna, Nimal Siripala de Silva and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Prof. G. L. Peiris also addressed the meeting. Minister Athauda Seneviratne, Governor (NWP) Tissa R. Balalle and Chief Minister (NCP) Bertie Premalal Dissanayake were also present.

Source :The Island



We have no ambition to please foreign powers and protect our ...
Lanka Times - Colombo,Sri Lanka
Those in the camps of Puttalam are the victims forced out from the North. The agreement entered into with the LTTE by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe ...



Cutting the ground under the Opposition's feet (Part II)
The Island (subscription) - Columbo,Sri Lanka
But nothing could have been more ridiculous as bringing Puttalam District UNP MP Range Bandara's ex-wife on to the government's stage. ...


Wayamba Election..---..Muslims prefer to stay put in Puttalam

Flashback to Wayamba 1999

The North Western Province or Wayamba has recorded the worst election marred by violence and mayhem in post-independence Sri Lanka.

The infamous Wayamba 1999 election is still considered to be the biggest black mark in Sri Lanka's violence riddled election history.

Among the many incidents of violence and mayhem reported at the 1999 Wayamba elections was when in Puttalam a UNP polling agent who refused to budge from his desk was mercilessly assaulted allegedly by PA supporters and a politico from Colombo who reportedly went there to stuff the ballot boxes.

In another incident, armed gangs kidnapped a younger brother of a female JVP polling agent on the day of the elections. More than four JVPers were abducted. Almost all the JVP polling agents were sent to Kurunegala leaving the party's then chief ministerial candidate Bimal Ratnayake in a helpless position.

According to reports following the election, it was revealed that out of a total of 830 polling stations in the Kurunegala District, 141 had been attacked during polling hours. In the Puttalam District, out of 300 polling stations, 71 had been attacked, making the total 212.

Also from three other polling stations, nine ballot boxes had been hijacked while being transported to the counting centres, and some were found burnt.

Following reports submitted by senior presiding officers, the Elections Commissioner had said he intended making an order canceling the polling at three polling stations of which the ballot boxes did not reach the counting centre and that he intended rejecting 47,000 votes that were suspected of having been stuffed into ballot boxes.

However, the Elections Commissioner later changed his stance and said he did not intend annulling the polling of the centres that had been raided by armed gangs.

UNP's K.N. Choksy at the time had pointed out that 212 out of a total of 1130 polling stations constitutes 18.5 per cent of the total poll and argued that it was adequate enough to cancel the entire election. He had said the officers of the Elections Commissioner's Department had detected 48,000 votes in stuffed ballot boxes, but there could have been much more.

Choksy had reportedly demanded that the entire election be declared null and void and that results must not be announced. The JVP had also supported this view.

The Elections Commissioner however went ahead and announced the election results.

At the same time a UNP supporter from the Kurunegala District had filed a fundamental rights application requesting the Supreme Court to grant an interim order directing the Elections Commissioner not to gazette the results and also to make a final order after the hearing, declaring the elections null and void and directing that fresh elections be held.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Ranjith Deeraratne, S. W. B. Wadugodapitiya and Asoka Gunawardene granted leave to proceed but did not grant the interim order directing the Elections Commissioner not to gazette the election results.


Muslims prefer to stay put in Puttalam

A large number of Muslims evicted from Mannar and Jaffna by the LTTE during the height of the ethnic conflict have settled down in the Puttalam District. They too will be casting their votes at the provincial election.

These Muslims after having lived in temporary shelters for a long time are now in the process of rebuilding their lives in land plots allocated to them in Puttalam.

Although the war is now nearing an end, these people say that they do not wish to return to their homes in the north, as they had little or no faith on the permanency of the military victories achieved.

"What's the point in going back? If it happens again we will have to return and then we won't even have this piece of land," they say.

Naleem who was evicted from Mannar 19 years ago says that he arrived in Puttalam after the army had brought him and his family to Kalpitiya.

Naleem works at the saltern for a daily wage ranging between Rs. 250-300.

"We prefer to stay. We have now built a house and our children are schooling here," he said. He expresses doubts on the ability of the forces to hold on to the land that has been captured by the government.

"Without a permanent solution, we do not have confidence to leave," Naleem said.

Hameed, who has also lived in Puttalam since 1997 said he preferred to stay here.

"Even if we go, we will have to come back. We are not sure of the situation there," he said.

According to him, almost every Muslim who was evicted from the North, preferred to stay back in Puttalam.

Flashback to Wayamba 1999
Sunday Leader (subscription) - Columbo,Sri Lanka
Among the many incidents of violence and mayhem reported at the 1999 Wayamba elections was when in Puttalam a UNP polling agent who refused to budge from ...


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wayamba : UPFA rides the wave

War victories become deciding factor though people face economic hardship

By Kelum Bandara and Padma Kumari

From the sun-soaked fishing villages of Puttalam to lush coconut groves in Kurunegala, each political party involved in the Wayamba Provincial Council election is  taking time to reflect on the long campaign as the February 14th election date now draws closer .

In the furthest corner of the Puttalam district, the weather remains sunny as in other parts of Wayamba, and posters of the candidates of all hues have sprung up on the trees, walls and poles. Yet, people living in the coastal villages are not in a sunny mood at all since they have to grapple with a myriad of problems pertaining to their livelihood, especially in the fisheries industry. For the marginalized  fishermen, their earning is sufficient only for their daily survival.It was D. Lakshman of Kappaladi, Kalpitiya who shared these  sentiments  to  Daily Mirror. Lakshman, a father of one child was preparing his fishing nets to be laid in the deep sea later in the evening.

"We have no sophisticated fishing vessels, and are dependent on big businessmen for them.  So, we are compelled to sell our fish harvest to them, not at a price determined by the market conditions but by them. We are always poor as a result," he said.

Like most other rural villages, his village is also to be provided with electricity facilities. The access roads are to be repaired. The politicians have made promises at numerous occasions to address these issues, but the problems still remain unnoticed

Suddenly, a toothy, triumphant smile appeared on his face when we directed a question at him on the   war situation. Lakshman who introduced himself as a floating voter became exuberant when commenting on the war.

"As far as what we see and hear through the media, the war is being brought to a successful completion by the government. We salute them for it," he said while his fellow villagers approved his words in unison.

The military gains are obviously the foremost element in determining how voters will cast their ballot at the upcoming election. Capitalizing on the situation for electoral gains, the ruling UPFA candidates straddle the fence on this issue in Wayamba while the opposition-the UNP and the JVP have sought to appeal to voters on economic and special issues. Yet, the two parties do not forget to give the credit of the military victories to the security forces. 

The SLFP-led coalition has ruled the Wayamba Provincial Council for the last two terms, and the people have reservations about its competence in tackling general issues, confronting the province, ranging from education to road development. This time,such issues have taken a back seat of their  campaign trail with the war victories being the most politically advantageous thing in their stock.

The wide media coverage given to the successful war on terror seems to have drilled national feelings into the heads of the people of all sectors. The campaigning, as a result, has become a cakewalk for the UPFA, and the UNP and JVP is seen finding it extremely difficult to the counter the government's propaganda machinery driven by political orators such as MPs Wimal Weerawansa and Ministers Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also addressed a few election rallies adding extra vigour to the campaign.

The impact seems to have shaken even the permanent vote bank of the UNP which is generally considered inflexible come what may.

Another fisherman B. Teepan Perera of Kappaladi is one such person who said that he is eagerly waiting to vote for the betel symbol on February 14, for the first time in his over fifty-year old life. The reason is the government successfully cornering the LTTE to a small territory in the North. He is optimistic that  terrorism will be eradicated very soon making room for the posterity to live in peace and harmony. 

Puttalam is an agriculturally productive area with paddy and vegetable   being cultivated lushly on its fertile soil.  It is so fertile that farmers grow vegetable varieties such as cabbage, beetroots and onions, which are usually cultivated in the cooler climes of Nuwara-Eliya.  Using the drip irrigation system to water the tender vegetable plants, farmers of Kalpitiya and Norohcholai in the district are hard at work as usual nowadays. This election has little bearing for these hardworking people depending on noone for theri livilihood.

But, they have a message to convey to the policy makers at this election. It is the high fertilizer prices. Unlike paddy farmers, vegetable growers are not entitled to any fertilizer subsidy.

"We have to pay Rs. 5000 for a bag of fertilizer which is issued at a subsidised price of Rs.350 for paddy farmers. It is very expensive for us.  There should be fair play in this case," said C.P. Earvin Michael   who grows guava as a commercial crop in his home garden.

Philip Edward is also a fisherman from the same area having different political views under the present circumstances. In addition to fishing, he runs a dry fish stall.

"This country has been governed by both the SLFP-led alliances and the UNP. But, no progressive economic policies have been implemented ensuring social equity. So, I chose to vote for the JVP," he said wiping  the  perspiration on his forehead.

Among the outgoing members of the Wayamba Provincial Council, some have earned a reputation for the efficient delivery of public work in the electorates. People, at the same time strike a note of criticism    on the others for breaching promises.

A UNP MP who crossed over to the government and became a deputy minister has also become unpopular among the fisherfolk. Fishermen allege that this deputy minister sold the fishing vessels for them at Rs. 50,000 despite them being a donation from a certain NGO to be distributed among tsunami victims in the south. According to people, it is alleged that he has pocketed some money through this fraudulent exercise.

Apart from basking in the glory of military victories, people say, the politicians are expected to resolve the most grievous issues confronting them. People noted that a few wealthy fishermen use certain fishing nets called 'Surukku' in their own jargon to get big catches resulting in  a drop in the marine fish population available for small fishermen to harvest.

They demand a ban on these fishing methods.    They also ask for a subsidy from the government for fuel and other fishing equipment so that they would not depend on businessmen.

In the meantime, people in Kurunegala are busily gathering their paddy harvest. Some farmers have already finished the task and issued their produce to the market.  The political parties generally try to   score brownie points on the issues such as the low prices of the agricultural prices. But, for the opposition, there seems to be no such issue prevailing currently in Kurunegala, one of the largest paddy cultivating districts in the country.

A paddy kilo of the Nadu variety fetches Rs. 36 in the market today, and the samba variety Rs.40 in the area today.

"It is a satisfactory price for the farmers under the present circumstances. So, farmers have not been affected by the present high cost of living. Even a casual labourer can get Rs. 600 for a day now," said S. Mahinda, a paddy trader from Nikaweratiya.

His views were asserted by A.P.S. Aloka Bandara, a housewife of a farmer family of Kirindigolla, Nikaweratiya. She said that her family did not have any hardship in their simple lifestyle due to earning money from the reasonable paddy prices.

"We earn a quite a lot of money by  paddy farming. We supplement our income by growing corn, chilli and vegetables as well," she said.

The fertilizer subsidy and the high paddy prices in recent years seem to have boosted the farmers' economy in Wayamba. People belonging to all the communities have started cultivating paddy lands which had remained barren for a number of years in areas like Wariyapola.

Along the Wariyapola- Chilaw road, there lies one such stretch of paddy land close to the Hettipola town in the Panduwasnuwara electorate. S.L.M. Deen is a Muslim farmer who has cultivated  paddy in his field after five years this time, reaping the harvest proudly."Because of the fertilizer subsidy, we   are able to grow paddy today. We cultivated this land after five years," he said  pointing to the labourers working on his field.

While the labourers  harvest the paddy , he was squatting on the trailer of a lorry along with a few of his friends.   They were gossiping on the elections to the Wayamba Provincial Council when we suddenly dropped in from our vehicle to ask for their views.

It was obvious that the extreme rhetoric of the ruling party   politicians had gone well with the masses during the end of the campaign trail. Deen is in a triumphant mood over the military victories and vowed to vote for the betel symbol.

Even for those who do not own paddy lands, the cost of living is not a critical issue. Most people in the electorates such as Kuliyapitiya, Panduwasnuwara and Wariyapola own at least one acre of coconut land. A coconut cultivation of one acre provides at least 700-800 nuts for a month. The wholesale coconut price is Rs. 15 -15.50 a nut today and people can easily get a satisfactory amount to make ends meet in a village where necessities are limited  compared to urban life.

The war is the main election plank of the UPFA which is an amalgam of various political parties, and it is slated to get votes in abundance. The party has launched its campaign according to a well-strategic plan, and its orators have struck the emotive chord of voters capitalizing on the fame of the military achievements.A vote for the betel symbol is a vote for the liberation of the country from the terrorism is the slogan forced down the throat of the ordinary voters in Wayamba. After a long trek down the camping, the UPFA has made headway, and is likely to return to the council with a thumping majority since the government is at the peak of its popularity today.

Yet, there is tough competition among the the UPFA candidates for the highest number of preferential votes in both Kurunegala and Puttalam. This time, there is no official announcement on the chief ministerial candidate. Late Minister D.M. Dissanayake's wife Indrani Dasanayake is telling the voters in the Puttalam district that she will be made the chief minister in case she gets the highest number of votes. Former Wayamba opposition leader Asoka Wadigamangawa who crossed over to the UPFA and is contesting the election on its ticket is also drawing the similar line.

Former Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe carries out his campaign saying he will be the chief minister for the next time as well. The campaign is hotting up in this manner with several candidates vying for the chief minister's post. The tussle among the UPFA candidates for preferential votes is also strong because several ministers have put forward their kith and kin for the election.

Pics by Samantha Perera


Wayamba : UPFA rides the wave
Daily Mirror - Colombo,Western,Sri Lanka
It was D. Lakshman of Kappaladi, Kalpitiya who shared these sentiments to Daily Mirror. Lakshman, a father of one child was preparing his fishing nets to be ...


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