Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Timeline: S'pore FM visit to Sri Lanka

S’pore FM in town next week with top biz team

 Published : 12:27 am  May 18, 2012 
The Foreign Minister of Singapore will be visiting Sri Lanka from 26 May to 2 June 2012 accompanied by a high-powered delegation from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).
One of the key expectations of the delegation is to establish mutually-beneficial relationships with key Government officials as well as the Sri Lankan business community during this visit.

Trade between Sri Lanka and Singapore is expected to be projected to a new level and significantly enhanced with the visit to Sri Lanka of K. Shanmugam, Foreign Minister of Singapore, accompanied by a high profile business delegation.
A Singapore Business Forum is being organised in Sri Lanka to coincide with the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.
A highly-successful pre-mission business seminar titled ‘Business Opportunities in Sri Lanka’ organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and supported by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the trade facilitation arm of the Ministry of Trade of Singapore and the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore, was held last month at which Shamil Mendis, President of the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Council, H.Z. Cassim, Deputy Chairman of Overseas Realty, owners of the World Trade Centre, Colombo 1 and Havelock City, a major Singaporean investor in Sri Lanka and D.G.A.P. Dharmapriya, Minister (Commercial) of the High Commission of Sri Lanka, among others, made presentations.
The Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will be organising the ‘Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum’ on Wednesday, 30 May 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom, Galadari Hotel, Colombo.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Board of Investment Executive Director (Investment) Y.G. Rajapakse are expected to speak at the forum. Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen will attend the event.
The forum is expected to provide an opportunity for the local business community to interact with the members of this delegation.
The business delegation will  comprise of representatives from various sectors such as construction, infrastructure, PPPs, urban development, transportation, energy sector, legal services, hotels and resorts, supplies and freight, software,  education services, retail sector, property development, consumer electronics, marine services, financial services, integrated city development, furniture, etc. The business forum will be followed by one-to-one business meetings and a networking lunch with the delegation.
The Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum is expected to be well attended by chief executives and officers of organisations in the private sector as it would not only enhance business links with Singapore but also provide insights and information on incentives for foreign investment as well as Government policy and plans to develop the economy.


Singapore Foreign Minister visiting next week

Sunday May 20, 2012, Sunday Times
Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam is visiting Sri Lanka from May 26-June 2, leading a powerful business delegation, officials said on Wednesday. The businessmen are from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). “One of the key expectations of the delegation is to establish mutually beneficial relationships with key government officials as well as the Sri Lankan business community during this visit,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said in a statement. The Sri Lanka – Singapore Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will be organizing the “Sri Lanka- Singapore Business Forum on Wednesday, May 30 to coincide with the visit.
Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism and Ms. Y. G. Rajapakse, Executive Director (Investment), Board of Investment are expected to speak at the Forum.
The delegation comprises representatives from various sectors such as Construction, Infrastructure, PPPs, Urban Development, Transportation, Energy , Legal Services, Hotels and Resorts, Supplies and Freight, Software, Education services, Retail, Property Development, Consumer Electronics, Marine Services, Financial services, Integrated city development, Furniture etc.

Details Published on Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:49

The Foreign Minister of Singapore K. Shanmugam will arrive on a five-day official visit this morning.  He will be in Sri Lanka until 2nd June.  The visit has been undertaken on an invitation extended by the Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L Peiris. He is expected to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and will hold bilateral discussions with the Minister of External Affairs during his visit.

Bilateral interactions between the two countries have been intensified since the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Singapore and it was agreed with the Singaporean leaders during that visit to enhance cooperation in a number of sectors, including trade, investment and education.

A Singaporean business delegation also accompanied the Singaporean Minister. The visiting minister is scheduled to address a business forum tomorrow where a large number of Singaporean and Sri Lankan business personnel are expected to attend. The Ministry of External Affairs said that the main focus of the Business Forum is to encourage interactions between small and medium scale entrepreneurs of both countries.

The visit comes as a follow up to the Memorandum of Understanding signed during President’s visit to Singapore, for Promoting Investment Co-operation between the two countries. The MOU was signed between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Singapore Business Federation.

The visiting Minister is scheduled to visit the Northern and the Eastern Provinces and have discussions with the respective Governors and other senior government officials of the two provinces. During this visit he will be able to view the socio-economic development taking place in the regions.(niz)

Singaporean foreign minister to tour Sri Lanka's former war zones

English.news.cn   2012-05-29 18:12:37

COLOMBO, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The Singaporean foreign minister kicked off a five day visit to Sri Lanka here on Tuesday that will see him promote trade ties and monitor events in the former war zones, a statement from the External Affairs Ministry said here on Tuesday.
Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam will have discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Sri Lankan counterpart G. L Peiris during his visit, the statement said.
The statement said a Singaporean business delegation will also accompany Shanmugam who is due to address a business forum on 30 May where a large number of Singaporean and Sri Lankan business personnel will participate.
"Minister Shanmugam is also scheduled to visit the Northern and the Eastern Provinces and have discussions with the respective governors and other senior government officials. This visit will also provide him an opportunity to witness firsthand the socio- economic development taking place in the regions," the statement said.
This will be the first such tour undertaken by a senior Singaporean official. 

Sri Lanka, Singapore to ink first-ever B2B MoU in Colombo today

Published : 12:52 am  May 30, 2012 
As Sri Lankan and Singapore business chambers ink a landmark MoU in Colombo today,  Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen has hailed it saying that it is more than a bilateral trade event.
“The 30 May MoU is not only a milestone in our bilateral trade, but also a historic B2B linkage between two promising business hubs in Asia and as a result, it’s a momentous trade event for the overall region,” Minister Bathiudeen told his officials yesterday.

On 30 May, the first-ever signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Council will be signed followed by the first ever Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum at Galadari Hotel, ushering in a new era in historic bilateral relations between both countries.
 “As for the business forum, it’s the first of this nature in our bilateral trade history but more importantly, it is a milestone in our trade since it shows that our business to business level linkages too have grown considerably, thereby showing the importance of our fourth largest international trade partner,” said Bathiudeen.
Welcoming K Shanmugam, the Foreign Minister and the Law Minister of Singapore, the Sri Lankan Minister said: “The fact that K. Shanmugam being accompanied by a strong business delegation involving small, medium and large scales alone holds promise for our bilateral trade with Singapore which is now at $ 1.85 b.
Such forward looking initiatives will strongly stimulate any unrealised trade potential between the two economies and will also help us to advance towards $ 20 Bn export target by 2020”.
The event is organised by the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to coincide the visit of Foreign Minister of Singapore K.Shanmugam from 26 May to 2 June. Shanmugam will accompany a high-powered delegation from the Singapore Business Federation.
“We have closed registrations for the ‘Sri Lanka – Singapore Business Forum’ much earlier than we originally expected due to the huge demand for participation from the Sri Lankan private sector” revealed  Shamil Mendis, President of the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Council. “The Forum will be followed by a B2B meeting session based on one-to-one interactions taking place between the Sri Lankan and Singaporean representatives” said Mendis who led a 14 member Sri Lankan business delegation to Singapore in 2010 June, successfully linking them up with no less than 160 Singapore firms of all three scales.
Singapore’s total trade with Sri Lanka in 2011 amounted to $1.94 Bn, of which $ 1.53 Bn were imports to Sri Lanka. From Singapore’s end, Sri Lanka is the 37th ranked global trading partner. Singapore firms in Sri Lanka are active in property development (Overseas Realty (Ceylon) Ltd), food and beverage processing (Prima Ceylon, Asia Pacific Breweries), logistics (Keppel Logistics), telecommunications (LankaCom, subsidiary of Singapore Telecom), apparel (Ghim Li Group) and conventions and conferences (Pico Global Services). In February this year, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening cooperation and promoting business and investment relations between the two countries, paving way for deeper collaboration between businesses of both countries.


Pull up your socks  Singaporean FM tells Lanka
May 30, 2012, 12:00 pm

By Mario Andree, The Island
Visiting Singaporean Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said Sri Lanka has to put its act together if the country was to capitalise on several comparative advantages to develop its economy.
A new Memorandum of Understanding inked yesterday (see page 3)with Singapore would enable the two countries build a deeper relationship, he said.
The Minister is here with a 21-strong business delegation from Singapore in search of potential opportunities for investment and networking. He said the two countries were already enjoying beneficial arrangements.
He said Sri Lanka has much potential to develop its economy, however giving several examples of Singapore, the country needs to get everything in place.
"Sri Lanka is well placed to capitalize on the benefits and opportunities offered both by Singapore and globally, the potential in the country is unlimited compared to Singapore, however the country needs to get everything in the right place to go forward."
As an example, he said Sri Lanka tourism which attracted more than 850,000 tourists last year has major potential. But this arrival figure was poor. Singapore attracts more than 12 million visitors annually, but had little to offer compared to Sri Lanka.
"Singapore has nothing compared to Sri Lanka to offer to tourists, Sri Lanka’s potential is large with much more to offer. If the government capitalises on the benefits the country had to offer the country could easily attract 20 million leisure travelers," Shanmugam said.
He pointed out that the country enjoyed comparative advantages from its beaches, wild life, and scenic beauty.
Further he added that the country had a strong educated human capital base with more than 90 percent literacy rate which could be utilized for economic development.
Speaking at the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Acting Director General Vipula Wanigasekara urged Singaporeans to invest in the hospitality sector.
He said that the country was witnessing a major influx of tourists and the advantages were high for new investors. Highlighting several available tourism zones for development, he urged the delegation to consider investing in the sector.
Singaporean investment to the country last year amounted to US$ 53 million, increasing the total investment to US$ 428 million with 108 companies registered in Sri Lanka.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen highlighted several more opportunities available for Singapore businesses, given the advantage of two neighbouring giants Sri Lanka has agreements with.
He said discussions were ongoing to revive the Sri Lanka-Singapore Comprehensive Partnership, which would mutually benefit both countries.
He pointed out that several opportunities in the agricultural sector, especially in the dairy industry and industrial sectors, business processing outsourcing, telecommunication and infrastructure development.

Posted on 30 May 2012. ITN

Sri Lanka and Singapore have signed two agreements related to investments.
A delegation headed by the Foreign Minister of Singapore K. Shanmugam arrived in the island last night. Deputy Minister Neomal Perera welcomed the delegation on their arrival for a five-day visit to Sri Lanka. The delegation intends to enter into several agreements with Sri Lanka. Accordingly the first agreement was inked in Colombo today. It is expected to further enhance trade between the two countries. The signing of the agreement took place under the supervision of the Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugham and Minister Risath Bathiyuideen.
Expressing views on this occasion, the Singaporean Minister referred to how they witnessed all communities reaping the benefits of peace after terrorism being uprooted from the country. Last year’s economic growth clearly indicates the extent of Sri Lanka’s success in economic development. Sri Lanka’s economic stability and the confidence place in investments in the island has also directly contributed to this success. Taking these facts into consideration, it should be mentioned that Sri Lanka is a country more conducive for investments sans obstacles. As such the Foreign Minister of Singapore said he was inviting other countries to undertake investments in the island nation.
Meanwhile the Singaporean Foreign Minister met his Sri Lankan counterpart Prof. G.L. Peiris today. The meeting took place at the External Affairs Ministry.

Singaporean foreign minister in discussion with Professor G.L. Peiris.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 01:13 PM
A meeting is currently being held between visiting Singaporean foreign minister M. Ganeshalingam & his Sri Lankan counter part Professor G.L. Peiris.
According to informed sources from the ministry of External Affairs, talks are said to focus on issues common to both countries.
The visit by Singaporean Foreign Minister M. Ganeshalingam comes in the wake of an invitation extended to him by President Mahinda Rajapaksas visit to the country.
Ganeshalingam is due in the country for a 4 day visit while he is also scheduled to meet with Sri Lankan Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem.

The visiting Singapore Foreign Minister conducts talks with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 12:49, SLBC
The visiting Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam has  conducted talks with  Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Professor G.L. Peiris. Special attention has been focused on issues of bilateral importance. Mr. Shanmugam will remain in Sri Lanka till the 2nd of next month.   He is scheduled to meet local businessmen with the objective of enhancing trade and investment opportunities.  The Sri Lanka Board of Investments has signed an agreement of understanding on cooperation in the investment sector with the Singapore Businessmen’s’ Association.

The Singapore Foreign Minister is also scheduled to engage in a tour in the northern and eastern provinces.

Sri Lanka and Singapore have expressed willingness to expand relations following a visit of the Sri Lankan President to Singapore in February this year. Accordingly, priority has been given to the enhancement of cooperation in the trade, investment and education sectors.

Wednesday , 30 May 2012

The Singaporean Foreign Minister K. Shanmugan arrived in the country yesterday for a three-day official visit.

The Foreign Minister and his delegation arrived at the Katunayake airport 11.45 Tuesday night.

The delegation was welcomed by Deputy Minster of External Affairs Nieomal Perera.

The Ministry of External Affairs noted that, the visiting Foreign Minister will meet with his Sri Lankan counterpart Prof. G.L. Peiris and minister of justice Rauff Hakeem and several other high-ranking state officials.

In addition,the Singaporean Foreign Minister will also attend the summit in Colombo organised by the Singapore Business Forum.

The Ministry of External Affair noted that the Singaporean Foreign Minister will visit Trincomalee and Jaffna during his stay and hold discussions with the governors of the north and east.

Sri Lanka, Singapore sign MoU to expand trade and investments

Sri Lanka & Singapore sign bilateral agreement aimed at increasing trade among the two nations
Reposted from Colombo Page
May 30, Colombo: Sri Lanka and Singapore Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand trade economic relationship between the two countries.
Bilateral discussions held today at the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo between Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and the vising Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore K. Shanmugam focused on expanding trade and promoting economic cooperation between the two countries.
The two ministers have discussed a range of measures which will be helpful in implementing the MoU on promoting investment co-operation, signed between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Singapore Business Federation in February.
According to a statement released by the Sri Lankan external Affairs Ministry, the Visiting Foreign Minister has noted that circumstances in Sri Lanka at this time are conducive to a significant expansion of trade and investment, especially in such areas as tourism infrastructure and services.
He has assured his government’s support in strengthening relations between the business communities in the two countries.
Information communication technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals were identified as priority fields for collaboration.
The two ministers have agreed to strengthen continuing programs between the two countries including the ongoing program by Singapore providing training opportunities for Sri Lankan public officials.
Prior to meeting with Minister Peiris, Minister Shunmugam has inaugurated the Singapore Business Forum at Hotel Galadari where the Singapore Business Federation and the Sri Lanka Singapore Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo signed an agreement to improve cooperation between the two organizations.
In a statement, SBF said the MoU will pave the way for greater scope for collaboration.
“This includes the promoting a favourable business climate, increasing investment flows, improving information exchange, and protecting the intellectual property of members,” the SBF said.
“it (the MoU) is a milestone in our bilateral trade relations since it shows that our business-to-business level linkages have grown considerably,” Teo Siong Seng, who signed the MoU in his capacity as SBF vice-chairman has said.
The MoU was signed in the presence of Sri Lanka’s Industry & Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen and the Singapore Foreign Minister.

Posted on 01 June 2012. ,ITN

The Singaporean Foreign Minister has said that he is astounded over the development taking place in Sri Lanka.
The Singaporean Minister K. Shanmugam expressed this surprise when he met President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this morning. The development that has taken place within a short period of three years in areas in the North and East which was embroiled in a conflict for 30 years is enormous. The Sri Lankan Government has launched many programmes to resettle the displaced families and improve the infrastructure in these areas.
The Singaporean Foreign Minister emphasized that when considering this development, Sri Lanka can be considered as a country not second to other developed countries and under these circumstances it had the ability to sort out any problem. The Singaporean Minister visited many parts of the island during the last few days and had the opportunity of exchanging views with the civilians. At these discussions, he was able to find that the civilians had full trust in the present Government’s programmes.
The visiting Minister agreed to provide training to state officials, provide technical and consultative support in Commonwealth sports activities and entice investments based at the Magampura Harbour.
The President referred to the Singaporean Minister the conducive environment created within the country as a result of infrastructure development and economic stability. Deputy Minister Neomal Perera and President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunge were among those present at this meeting.

Singaporean FM praises Lanka's development

Saturday, 2 June 2012 , Daily News
The massive strides in development made by Sri Lanka amidst various difficulties is most amazing, Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said when he called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa for discussions at Temple Trees yesterday.
He said looking at the progress achieved by Sri Lanka within a short period of three years to resettle displaced persons in the North and rebuild those areas subjected to a 30 year conflict the country can be considered as second to none in the developed world.
This proved that Sri Lankans had the ability to resolve and overcome any problem.
The Singaporean Foreign Minister who said that he had visited several parts of the country during the last few days added that he was able to witness the infrastructure development work undertaken in the North and the steps taken for the welfare of its people. He said he also interacted with people in the North and they all expressed confidence in the policy and program of work adopted by the government in their areas.
He said Singapore was prepared to assist Sri Lanka in providing training to its State officials and lend technology and training as regards Commonwealth Games activities.
A press release by the Presidents Media Division said at this meeting special attention was drawn towards improving the production capacity of the Prima Company and obtaining the support of Singaporean investors towards providing facilities for ships at the Magampura Port.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out that Sri Lanka possessed developed infrastructure facilities and the economic stability conducive for investment.
External Affairs Deputy Minister Neomal Perera, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge and other officials were also present at the discussion.

Singapore reiterates commitment to assist SL's reconstruction process
 Sunday, June 03 , 2012 - 11.15 GMT
Singapore reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen bilateral ties with Sri Lanka and assist the country's reconstruction process to achieve genuine national reconciliation.
Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam who concluded his four-day visit to Sri Lanka from 29 May - 1 June has said that Singapore was happy to see that peace had returned to Sri Lanka, and that during his visit to the war-battered Trincomalee in the East and Jaffna in the North, he saw the significant progress in physical reconstruction in the areas that he visited.
Minister Shanmugam, who returned to Singapore Saturday, has also said that while reconciliation cannot be imposed from the outside, well-wishers of Sri Lanka, such as Singapore is looking forward to an "inclusive process that would include addressing the emotive sentiments of people affected by the decades-long conflict."
The Minister during his meeting with President MahindaRajapaksa reiterated his government's offer of technical assistance which Prime Minister Lee HsienLoong had made during President Rajapaksa's State Visit to Singapore in February this year.
Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Singapore was prepared to enhance the existing technical cooperation programme for Sri Lanka under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
The enhancement would focus on the areas of human resource development and economic development, which were Sri Lanka's current priorities.
During the meeting with Minister Shanmugam, President Rajapaksa has expressed his appreciation for Singapore's offer to assist Sri Lanka in its development and apprised the Minister of the central and provincial governments' efforts towards post-conflict development and reconstruction.
Minister Shanmugam also met the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Dr. ShiraniBandaranayake, who has expressed her interest in cooperating with Singapore in areas of legal training and the Minister has assured her that Singapore would assist as best as it could.


Monday, June 4, 2012

‘Tamil Tiger terrorism’ - A reply to M.A. Sumanthiran, MP

  • Written by  Gamini Gunawardane 
  • Sunday, 03 June 2012 00:00 
 In his recent speech in Parliament reported in ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorism’ in Sri Lanka ‘The Island’ of  March 15, Mr. Sumanthiran had stated among other things referring to the publication of a book titled ‘Gota’s War,’ as follows: “ Sir, the subtitle says ‘the crushing of  Tamil Tiger Terrorism in Sri Lanka’. It says’ Tamil Tiger Terrorism in Sri Lanka’. Tamil equals Tiger equals terrorist………………. I am talking about the language used. You say ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorist’ (he repeats). Tamil equals Tiger equals terrorist”. And then he goes on to say, “That kind of mindset will never advance any kind of reconciliation in this country,” etc.Now it appears to me that this interpretation is skewed to say the least if not communally motivated. I am reminded here what a former IGP asserted in answer to a question at a press conference: “Indeed all Tamils are not ‘Tiger Terrorists’, but it so happens that all Tiger Terrorists are Tamils.” Here lies the subtle difference. To take the matter further, during the JVP insurrections of 1971 and later in 88/89, the participants were described as JVP terrorists. They were not referred to as ‘Sinhala JVP Terrorists’ because unlike the ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorists’ they were not fighting for a separate state for the Sinhalese or any other communal cause.In fact they were referred to as ‘Che Guevara Kalliya’ by the villagers because they were supposed to have been rebelling to usher a radical socialist state. To explain the matter still further, I recall that during the ’71 Insurgency when a Police or Army mobile patrol stopped people on the road on suspicion in places like Vavunia, all that the Tamil youngsters did was, throw up their arms and declare: “Ayya, Nan Thamil aal”. That was all the password required and off they went. Besides, what control does a government or any other agency have in determining what terms a free writer should use in describing the title of his book?
“Rata watakara weta bendath Kata watakara weta bandinta behe” meaning “even if you could fence the whole country you cannot fence round the mouth!” That is how the Sinhala society recognized the Freedom of Speech before the concept was developed by the civilized West as a Fundamental Right. On the other hand, many publications in the media and in the internet refer to Sri Lankan government as a ”Sinhala (chauvinist) government” and security forces of the state as the ‘Sinhala Army’ when in fact there are so many Muslims, Malays Burghers and an occasional Tamil serving in these forces. Did anybody or Mr. Sumanthiran object to it  in Parliament saying this is hardly the way to talk about these things if one was keen promote reconciliation? Can reconciliation be advanced only form oneside?
It will be interesting to know what the TNA has so far done to promote reconciliation during the last three years. Is picking up and blowing such a non-issue to mountainous proportions in a place like the Parliament the way to clear the obstructions to reconciliation? In a way it is a good thing that he expressed this view. Now we know the kind of mindset that obstructs reconciliation who needs help.
The next issue he has raised is the “Removal of Tamil officers from Tamil areas and appointing persons who have no proficiency in Tamil will not advance as has happened yesterday to the GA Vavunia. This follows, (from) some time ago the appointment of the GA of Mannar. We protested.”

Why? Are these places not parts of Sri Lanka? All Sinhala SLAS officers are required to pass a test in Tamil conversation and reading as far as I know (subject to correction) and vice versa for Tamil and Muslim officers, before their confirmation. So what is their problem in serving the people in these areas? We know several non-Tamil GAs who have excelled in Jaffna such as Somapala Gunadheera who even in his retirement writes so much with great understanding of the local problems of Tamil people. Then we had Lionel Fernando who endeared himself so much to the Jaffna people that when his mother died there, they insisted that her funeral be held there and it was done.

We also have the case of Neville Jayaweera. who excelled as GA both in Jaffna and later in Vavunia in difficult times. Also comes to mind the name of  Wimal Amarasekera who was extremely popular. Kingsley Wickramesuriya, one time DIG Northern Province, has many Tamil friends who visit him yet in Colombo. So what is the big deal here?  There was Mr. Senadheera of Sri Lanka Customs mostly posted in the North who was fluent in Tamil. Why cannot we resume the same relationships that were there, at least now? Then we recall having Tamil SAS officers as GA Galle and Hambantota.
No one even realized they were Tamils! They got on famously with the people there. There are very senior Tamil Public Servants holding important positions in Colombo. Until recently Mr. Logesvaran held the important position of Secretary to the National Police Commission. Nobody had any problem of dealing with him just because he was a Tamil. So where is the problem? Who is trying to keep the two communities apart deliberately but the politicians? They will have no platform to stand on if these relationships with the common people are restored.

Mr. S further goes on to state, “We have consistently protested about the fact the Government agent of Trincomalee is also a person, who has no proficiency in Tamil, and worse he is a retired Military man.” Is a retired military man disqualified to be GA Jaffna or in any other place? To my recollection, during the UNP times the GA of Gampaha was also retired Military man. There were no protests. He did not do any injustice to anyone. Trinco is a special case. The present GA’s predecessor, a civilian, was killed in his office one evening. So may be one needs a military man to hold the place for some time. For, it was only a few weeks ago that it was reported that an EPDP man was killed by three LTTE Terrorists who had crept into the area from Tamil Nadu. The intelligence services had been reporting that there were many Terrorists who had not surrendered, hiding in Trincomalee District.

So these may be some of the considerations to have a military man as GA Trinco for the moment. As regards his alleged lack of proficiency in Tamil, I believe the population in Trinco District consists of almost equal proportions of Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim people. I am sure the GA may be having the services of Tamil interpreters to help him. After all, the British who manned these positions for over a century knew neither Tamil nor Sinhala. They still did well. There administrative reports demonstrate that they had enormous concern for the people and their problems.

Mr. S goes on to say: “Only two provinces in this country have as their governors retired military personnel – that’s the North and the East. Why is that?” Let me give the probable reason. Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee are places where the GAs were murdered by LTTE Terrorists. It may be that the government feels it prudent to have retired military men instead of military men in active service, to have a supervisory cover for some more time. The government, with their Intelligence Services, are the best judges to decide on this. For unlike the politicians, they are institutionally responsible to hold the hard won peace in this country. Perhaps if there was a re-emergence of violence, the TNA could take cover behind the Terrorists like they did the last time. But a government cannot afford to do that.

Now that we are on this subject we may also deal with the agitation by TNA and interested parties including those abroad, to have the Military Camps removed particularly from the Northern Province. Why is this? Is the NP not a part of this country? It is left to the military to decide in what parts of the country they could set up camps according to the strategic security needs of the country. Accordingly they locate their camps in different parts of the country. There are Tamils living in some of these areas too. But nobody protests. The protest comes only form the Northern  Province. What is special about Northern Province?

Of course from time to time Military personnel have gone on a spree of violence owing to local reasons even in the Southern Province – that too on a reduced scale now. But that is not a reason to ask closing down a military camp and go berserk in the internet news channels? The US  could least afford to ask Sri Lanka  where to locate her military camps when according to today’s (22/5) Island, they have 176 military bases, not even in their own country, but all over the world, ostensibly to protect themselves against Terrorists! Besides does it happen in any part of the world, including Tamil Nadu where a section of the people object to the presence of the bases of their national army in their midst?

Mr. S then refers to the violation of the constitution by the government. This is not any way to defend or otherwise the games that the government plays with the constitution. But here too there are some reservations. Mr. S remonstrates the government on their failure to fully implement the 13th Amendment. Many people have written that the 13th Amendment is a flawed piece of legislation and a standing insult to the honor of an independent country. I do not wish to expand on it as much has been said in this subject. Most people feel that the government should not proceed any further on this matter without formally consulting the people, at least at this late stage. In regard to violation of the constitution, my point is that the TNA can least afford to talk on this subject.

Article 157A (2) [in Chapter 20] of the Sri Lanka Constitution, states: “No political party or other association or organization shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.” I believe at least a few of the parties that constitute the TNA still have the idea of seeking a separate state as their objective. The TNA itself until May 19, 2009 accepted the fact that the LTTE who was engaged in an armed struggle against the lawfully elected government, as the sole representative of the Tamil people for that purpose. Therefore I believe the very presence of the TNA and Mr. Sumanthiran is ultra vires the constitution.