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Archive for March 22nd, 2008

Sri Lanka Army Special Infantrymen yesterday (March 20) ambushed a tractor transporting LTTE terrorists in the Konthakarankulma area, in the West of Omantahi. According to the reports received from Wanni defence, the soldiers had penetrated the LTTE defence line at the Vavuniya battlefront and launched the surprise attack around 2.25, last afternoon.

Ground troops have confirmed that all 5 terrorists travelling on the tractor were killed in the ambush. While on their withdrawal, the soldiers have destroyed two LTTE bunkers killing 3 more LTTE cadres, the reports further said.

No casualties reported to own troops in this incident, the reports added.

Defence observers say that Sri Lanka Army special operations conducted in areas immediately ahead of the LTTE defences have been making a huge contribution in clearing the terrorists’ barriers into Wanni region. Increasing number of civilians arriving at security forces camps daily have confirmed the same that they would never be able to escape the terror clutches unless for the dwindling power of the terrorists along the defence lines.

“The walls of the LTTE run mono ethnic hellhole of Wanni is falling down on by one and the much awaited freedom for civilians is getting nearer”, said our special correspondent from the Vavuniya battlefront.

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A Sri Lanka Navy Fast Attack Craft (FAC) has been caught in a possible underwater blast this morning (March 22). According to the defence sources, the locally built P438 deployed in northeastern coastal waters off Nayaru has sunk due the blast that occurred around 2.30.a.m.

Upon the receipt of the SOS message from the sinking craft other sea units have immediately launched a search and rescue mission in the area. According to the naval sources, 6 crewmembers, including the Officer in Charge of the craft have been rescued so far.

The survivors have reported an underwater blast that damaged the boat’s hull and caused it to be sunk in a short time. According to the survivors there has been no sea confrontation nor any LTTE craft were present in the area. Navy suspects the blast has caused by a possible sea mine or due to some underwater weapon developed by the terrorists.

Search and rescue mission continues.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorists outfit that has pioneered many new terrorist tactics such as female suicide bombers, vehicle bombs, boat bombs, etc. All such tactics have been transferred to the international terrorist organization, making the Sri Lanka’s menace a global one. Unfortunately, through its effective propaganda mechanism and its emissaries in many NGOs, LTTE has been an able raise fund in many western nations for its terrorist activities under the facade of a rebel organization fighting for the rights of Tamil people.

(more…)

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The position of the western governments on Sri Lanka’s conflict is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Their global campaign against terrorism has seen hell being unleashed on foreign countries, where tens of thousands of civilians have so far perished besides millions displaced.

They have banned foreign terrorist groups operating on their soil and it was only recently that the FBI posted a warning on its website for the American public to beware of the LTTE. The outfit also stands proscribed in the EU. But, ironically, those crusaders against terrorism don’t recognise Sri Lanka’s right to deal with the LTTE the way the US and the UK are tackling Al Qaeda terrorism.

Whenever the LTTE fights its way into a military cul-de-sac with an ignominious defeat staring it in the face, we have foreign ‘dignitaries’ rushing here in their droves on flimsy pretexts to throw a lifeline to the sinking outfit. In 1987, the LTTE would have been crushed once and for all if India had wisely desisted from putting the brakes on Operation Liberation through gunboat diplomacy and the attendant violation of Sri Lanka’s airspace. India’s bˆtise gave a new lease of life to Prabhakaran and his boys who in turn killed their one time mentor Rajiv Gandhi and over one thousand Jawans. Having learnt her bitter lessons, India is wary of repeating that costly blunder.

But, today, at a time when the LTTE is on the verge of collapse, some western governments are essaying a rescue operation. Their modi operandi are, however, different. Instead of direct action, they are using more sophisticated methods. India forced parippu (lentils) down Sri Lanka’s throat from the air but the ‘enlightened’ liberal nations of the Occident are using human rights to strangle her. Their methods may differ but the end remains the same-perpetuation of the conflict at a manageable level in keeping with their hidden agenda.

The latest rescue effort comes from the EU, which has sent some functionaries here. They are putting on airs and graces and making pronouncements on the human rights situation in this country. They also want to visit the Wanni to meet the LTTE! Sadly, they are still cherishing the delusion that there is a peace process. It is intriguing why the EU shut out the electronic media from its press briefing where its visiting representatives waxed eloquent. Isn’t it the EU that pontificates to the developing world about transparency? How come TV stations were debarred from covering an event that was open to the print media? (We thought the local TV stations would stage a huge protest at the Lipton Circus against discrimination and humiliation they suffered at the hands of the EU.)

What has the EU got to discuss with the LTTE so urgently at this particular juncture? It had time from 2002 until the government officially withdrew from a moribund ceasefire, to discuss anything with the outfit and prevent it from plunging the country back into war. It was in 2006 that the EU and other Co-Chairs should have intervened to prevent the LTTE from scuttling the fragile truce by capturing the Mavil Aru reservoir.

In trying to revive ‘the peace process’, the EU is only flogging a dead horse. Before making such a vain attempt, the EU ought to have a look at the past peace processes to see what the LTTE has done to them. It torpedoed the peace process that President J. R. Jayewardene entered into in 1987 at the behest of India even after the implementation of the Indian remedy. The LTTE not only defied India but also took on the mighty Indian army, as was said earlier.

Then, it pulled the wool over President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s eyes. He naively sought to make peace with Prabhakaran. The LTTE, true to form, derailed the peace process in 1990 and killed him in 1993, having obtained money, arms and ammunition and building material from him to fight the IPKF.

President D. B. Wijetunga (1993-94) avoided peace traps but his successor President Chandrika Kumaratunga blundered by walking into one. She embarked on an ambitious peace project in 1994, having offered the entire Northern Province to Prabhakaran for ten years without elections, but in vain. She realised Prabhakaran had taken her for a right royal ride only when he blew two gunboats sky high in the Trincomalee harbour in April 1995. Then, she had to launch her ‘war for peace’ campaign. Unlike all other Presidents, she was a firm believer in devolution by way of a solution. But, she also failed to make peace with Prabhakaran.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (2001-2004) thought in terms of an international safety net when he plunged feet first into a peace process with the LTTE. It took him less than one year to be disillusioned. The LTTE walked away from talks by demanding an ISGA in 2003 dashing his hopes of a solution. Ranil bent over backwards, as they say, to salvage the peace process to the point of being accused of appeasing the LTTE. After his government was sacked, President Kumaratunga continued with the peace process sans talks.

By the time the present President was elected, Prabhakaran had already decided to bury the peace process, which was dead in all but name. He promised war in his 2005 heroes’ day speech a few days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election and resumed hostilities by going on a claymore mine spree against the police and the armed forces shortly afterwards. President Rajapaksa despite being branded a hawk took it all lying down until the capture of the Mavil Aru reservoir, which he couldn’t ignore, as he knew the LTTE wouldn’t stop at that.

So, we are where we are, thanks to the LTTE. It will certainly grab any opportunity today to get a breather, regroup and rearm so that it will be in a position to resume war later on when conditions improve for it locally and internationally. The EU should remember that Prabhakaran has promised its proxy alliance a Kosovo-type solution with the help of the international community. Is the EU trying to prepare the grounds for his Kosovo?

As far as we can remember, the EU has categorically stated that the LTTE has spurned all proposed solutions from Provincial Councils to federalism. In a joint a resolution on Sri Lanka this was what the European Parliament said on Sept. 6, 2006.

“[European Parliament] Condemns the intransigence of the LTTE leadership over the years, which has successively rejected so many possible ways forward, including devolution at the provincial level or Provincial Councils; devolution at the regional level or Regional Councils; as well as the concept of a federation with devolution at the national level.”

So, the question that the EU and its representatives here should answer is what they want the government to negotiate with the LTTE. Is it secession?

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The notable feature of the Batticaloa district election was that it was held in an atmosphere of least trouble. At many polling areas the voting in Batticaloa was slow due mainly to the hesitation caused through fear of sudden emergence of subversive activity. As the situation improved and with voter-confidence momentum restored, they ventured forth to vote. Some of course were apparently not sure of what to do as their political parties kept out of the Batticaloa contest.

At Valachchenai (Korelepattu Pradesiya Saba) an unknown person bent on using violence for political purposes hurled a hand grenade at an SLMC candidate’s residence injuring a police constable on guard. Mother of the SLMC candidate was physically attacked by an extremist political element in the open but none came forward to identify the person who made his escape soon after the skirmish.

Generally people in the East turn up to vote in much higher numbers when terrorism is not intense. Under the circumstance the 67% (votes declared) was much less on March 10th . In our calculations at least 18% percent of registered voters have absented from voting or not used their franchise at the elections. The rejected votes at 12.22% too are exceptionally high. In the circumstances and under the above revelations, it is inappropriate to state that the election is free and fair.

The many people in the District need peace, houses, schools and teachers to educate their children, well macadamized roads and bus services and also essential commodities at reasonable prices. Their representatives voiced grief that they were denied these minimum rights during the 21 years of war.Attendance of election staff and police personnel at polling duties was good and creditable. The courtesy extended to the monitors by them took an exemplary standard. Grama Niladharis were also present to help voters without identity cards.

The absolute decline of terrorist attempts and subversions in the once war ravaged areas of the Batticaloa District is positively due to the strategic deployment of Police and Armed Services personnel in and around the district. All ranks of Police, Army, Navy and Air Force did their duty by the nation in a grand manner without having to use arms and ammunition.

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“The kind of people who would get into politics would be those who had an axe to grind, those who had dissatisfaction or those who were not successful in their own professions and wanted to try their hand at politics.” That meant, he added: “We would find ourselves ruled by people who could ruin the country” – S. Dhanabalan, ex Minister of Singapore, on his refusal to invitation to politics in 1976.

First of all, it is good to know the Malaysian political composition and the issues. The government is an alliance of 14 parties chiefly of United Malay National Organiztation UMNO, Malaysian Chinese Association MCA, and the Malaysian Indian Congress MIC. All these parties commanded the largest support of their respective communities until recently. This combination is called National Front or Barisan Nasional [BN] in Malay. The opposition parties, for the first time contested under a pact as one unit. The party formed by Anwar Ibrahim, deposed deputy prime minister who was imprisoned under various fabricated charges by PM Mahathir Mohamed, is called National Justice Party or the People’s Justice Party, or Parti Keadilan PKR which is a united party comprising all ethnic groups.For the  first time in Malaysia a political party led by a Bumiputra has been broad based. Democratic Action Party DAP is a left leaning labour oriented Chinese party. PAS is a Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party that demanded an Islamic Sharia state and got rejected by Muslim Malays, now having shifted away from its rhetoric and even reaching out to Chinese and Indian minorities, was well rewarded in the election with a big win. The Indian contribution was through ‘Makkal Katchi’ People’s Party initiated by the Hindraf that staged street protests in November.

The biggest loser in the election is the Malaysian Indian Congress headed by Minister Dato Seri Samy Vellu.

Indian voters form significant numbers in at least 67 parliamentary and 141 state assembly seats where they comprise between 9 per cent and 46 per cent of the electorate. The results across the country indicate they helped change the direction of politics. They were the deciding factors in constituencies where Malay and Chinese votes divided. Indians who traditionally backed the Government made their small numbers count. 22 Indians contested in 18 parliamentary seats, and 53 Indians contested in 40 State seats. They comprised about 8 per cent of contestants. MIC fielded nine for Parliament and 19 for the state assemblies. The DAP had seven Indians for Parliament and 17 for state while PKR fielded 19 Indians. In Parliament and the state assemblies, there will be about 20 Indians from the DAP and PKR and all will be sitting on the opposition bench. The ethnic Indians were angry with Abdullah over the jailing of five Indian activists and followed by the arrest of small children after street protests. M. Manoharan, who was being held without trial under a colonial-era security law, was elected to a state legislature in a clear sign of defiance toward Abdullah and the government. It is unclear how Manoharan, whose wife has appealed for release, will carry out his duties if he remains incarcerated.

Interestingly the day of election, Saturday 8th was Minister Samy Vellu’s 72nd birthday. ‘Tamil Nesan’ newspaper owned by his second wife Indirani, had a massive pullout for birthday boy with back-to-back coverage and full-page live-size photographs of him taken out by all 28 Malaysian Indian Congress candidates, hailing their chief as the greatest man ever born. When the Indian community considered Vellu a Villain he thought of himself a hero. Alas! What a disappointing birthday gift he got on that night. In the last parliament MIC had 9 representatives. Now six are gone including the sole Indian minister for 29 years, and all the Vice Presidents. The party today is like a headless chicken.

On the other hand 11 Indian Tamils are elected to the parliament from the opposition group. Even after such a beating Samy Vellu is not prepared to give up the leadership. Sadly, he does not have a winner in a number two or three to hand over the party as credible soldiers left him.

It was 1970’s Bumiputra privilege to Malays known as ‘New Economic Policy’ NEP that caused heartburn to the present day youths of Chinese and Indians. But at the same time the Malays also had valid reason to introduce that policy. Commerce in Malaysia was in the control of Chinese and it was natural Malay leaders felt uneasy and wanted to share the plum pushing their own community up, of which they are enormously successful today. But the irony is, poor Malays felt those who had links only prospered under NEP and ‘Poor Ramli’ remained poor only. In addition high cost of living, crime rate, nepotism, and VIP sex scandals made culture conscious poor Malays to turn against the government.

Further, today’s Singapore is considered a Chinese city. In reality it is not. The British in the 19th century took away the Lion City from the Sultan of Johore mainly to have a naval base and extend shipping trade.

In the meantime, Chinese from the mainland migrated in herds to escape feminine and seek new life. Englishmen welcomed them as they needed labourers. When the British left introducing ‘one man one vote’ democracy – by ballot, the city state was taken over by Chinese,  who were a majority in number where most of them were not born in Singapore. Even Lee Kwan Yew was said to be born in Indonesia but he has a Singapore birth certificate. Within the Malaysian federation including Singapore,a similar threat was perceived and as a result Singapore was separated. Even today if Singapore’s 82 ruling PAP MPs are added to Malaysia’s opposition 82 MPs, (it looks as if some ruling party MPs would cross) a Chinese could emerge a Prime Minister. But is Singapore ready to accept a non Chinese PM now?

Mentor Lee in 1988 said Dhanabalan could have been considered for the prime minister’s job if he were not Indian. Dhanabalan also said, in Singapore if a good Indian candidate is pitted against an articulate Chinese candidate in a single constituency where 75 per cent of the people are Chinese, ‘I think it will be very difficult for the Indian or Malay candidate to win’. But a recent survey by two academics at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies on race and religion, found that at least 92 per cent of all races polled said they would vote an MP or a Singapore president of a different race. Among the Chinese, 94 per cent did not mind if the PM was an Indian, and 91 per cent, if he was Malay. The defeat of predominant Chinese state of Penang’s Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon by a dissident university professor, P. Ramasamy proves this thinking. As time changes, generations change, and attitudes change. It is a worldwide phenomenon, whether in Europe, USA or Asia, the minority or immigrant youths claim home whereever they were raised and demand equal rights regardless of past history. That is what democracy stands for.

Besides I may say Malaysian media is more tightly controlled than in SL. Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Malaysia 124 out of 169 on its worldwide press freedom index. But they do not manhandle journalists, a practice that has no limit in Lanka. All independent websites were crashed on the election night. Operators were unsure whether it was a systematic attack or high demand had triggered a shutdown. But the government was hostile to independent news blogs and websites, and had threatened them with action under draconian internal security laws. Malaysiakini’s CEO Premesh Chandran, said it was drawing a million viewers an hour before it crashed. “Maybe some people wanted the results to be delayed,” said an operation manager. Operators reacted by creating alternative links to their domain through blogspots and back-up servers. This is where political authorities go wrong. Today’s world is a global village without borders. To block or black out news is nearly impossible as the market is flooded with lots of scientific inventions which were not available to the said authorities in school. Regimes that threatened what Napoleon Bonaparte feared would crash in due course. Malaysian election proved propaganda news has no credibility and only truth will trump.

Malaysia’s government-friendly mainstream newspapers and television networks, many of them partly government-owned, were awash with flattering coverage of the ruling coalition ahead of polls. Media was often compelled to ignore or to play down the many events organised by the opposition. It changed its tone immediately, aiming to win back supporters alienated by biased coverage. Opposition figures that had been ignored or vilified are now being splashed on front pages. The government-linked New Straits Times, which used to attack Anwar Ibrahim, ran a front-page report detailing the opposition’s agenda when it assumed power in Penang state.

Azman Ujang, general manager of the state news agency Bernama said, “It is a wake up call for us. The mainstream media now has a ‘higher responsibility’ to report news fairly or face being abandoned by its audience. The people have spoken loud and clear, not only what kind of government they want but also the kind of media they prefer, the media should revisit and review our policies,” he told reporters. Gayathry Venkiteswaran from Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism said there had been some ‘positive changes’ in media which likely felt they now had no choice but to report fairly on the opposition. ‘Editors and journalists here have to do a lot of soul-searching. It is very hard to dismantle practices which have been in place for such a long time.’

Media consultant G. Manimaran said the media had the chance to reverse dwindling readership/ viewership among urban, educated Malaysians who have been moving to alternative online sources of information. ‘This is the first time in 20 years of journalism that I am seeing people queuing up to buy newspapers,’ he said.

‘With so many states under the opposition you have to be fair in reporting or the paper is going to lose a lot of money,’ said a journalist.  ‘Mainstream newspapers were obviously one-sided before but now at least they are giving much better coverage. We see more opposition faces, this is certainly fairer,’ said Alex Matthews, a doctor. ‘Although I don’t usually read papers, I thought it was better coverage.’ ‘The papers were snapped up so fast,’ said lawyer Audrey Pillai.

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The military claimed that the Army Special Infantry unit had on Thursday ambushed a tractor transporting LTTE cadres in the Konthakarankulam area, West of Omanthai killing at least five. The Defence Ministry said that according to the reports received from the Wanni defence, the soldiers had penetrated the LTTE defence line at the Vavuniya battlefront and launched the surprise attack.“Ground troops have confirmed that all five terrorists travelling in the tractor were killed in the ambush. While on their withdrawal, the soldiers have destroyed two LTTE bunkers killing three more LTTE cadres, the reports further said.  No casualties were reported to the troops in this incident,” the Defence Ministry said.

However there was no confirmation of the incident from the LTTE.

The Defence Ministry further claimed that army special operations conducted in areas immediately ahead of the LTTE defences have been making a huge contribution in clearing the LTTE barriers into the Wanni region.

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A North and East Sinhala Organization yesterday slammed the government for removing 10 STF camps from the East stating that it was the first step towards handing over the East to the TMVP.

While charging that there is a move to remove a total of 40 military camps from the East, the North East Sinhala Organization Secretary Sunil Aluthgamage told Daily Mirror the government’s move was despicable.

“The government has betrayed the gallant efforts of the security forces and the police who sacrificed their lives and

limbs to liberate the East from the clutches of the LTTE,” he said.

The organization charged the Government had already conceded the Eastern Province to the TMVP even before the Provincial Council election.

Mr. Aluthgamage said at the moment there were no plans for the Organization’s representatives intend to discuss this matter with the government but said was government allies such as the JHU which should not remain silent but take the matter up with the government.

Mr. Aluthgamage said the Organization would soon make a political decision to fight against this move by the government.

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