August 27, 2007


By Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne

The rain drummed on the roof at Martin’s as I awoke to a Spot-winged Thrush singing sweetly. I had arrived in Sinharaja the previous day for a public relations cum field visit to meet Hugues, a Belgian birder who runs his own company specialising in bird watching tours. Wicky who was taking Hugues and Veronique on a tour had greeted me on arrival with good news. A Ceylon Frogmouth had been found roosting on some ferns just a few feet away from the main road. What good luck. We feasted our eyes on this nocturnal bird with a strange troll-like appearance because of its wide ‘frog mouth’. The bird opened its eyes once to take a look at me and then went back to sleep. I could think of no better proof than this that wildlife is not disturbed by heavy visitation. On the contrary if they are not harassed, they become habituated to people.

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By Sumanasiri Liyanage 

In his Mahaweera Day speech in 2005, Vellupillai Pirapaharan, the LTTE leader,
depicted Ranil Wickremesinghe as a calculating fox who tried to deceive everyone by
entering into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE. Ranil Wickremesinghe has once
again shown his foxy behaviour in his comments on the capture of Thoppigala by the
security forces of the Government of Sri Lanka. His initial position was that capturing
Thoppigala would be a useless exercise as it is worthy only for collectors of fire-wood.
However, at the signing of a MoU with the SLFP (M), Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed that
under the Wijetunga-Wickremesinghe regime, Thoppigala was captured by the security
forces. Did he mean that Thoppigala was strategically important then but not now? As I
have no knowledge in military strategy and I have no idea to get an access to that
sphere of knowledge, I do not wish to comment on his current position on the strategic
importance of Thoppigala.

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Voldemort Rising

August 25, 2007


By Sanjana Hattotuwa 

“If humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”

                                          – Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

At the time of writing, news of the liberation of the East and the resulting celebrations have captured headlines and the public imagination in Sri Lanka. Not much analysis though as to what it all means and answers to questions such as what now, and whether the fall of Thoppigala is any guarantee of animating a hitherto non-existent capacity of this government to articulate an enlightened approach to the ethnic question. Careful to not arouse the wrath of those who in power volubly state that to call to question the liberation of the East is to defile those who died for the protection of national sovereignty and undermine the morale of the troops, many analysts tread a cautious line.

Recognizing on the one hand the valour of troops, they have maintained that military victories are no measure or any guarantee of a lasting solution to a significant ethnic divide that unfortunately continues to widen. Many have also pointed out that there is a clear incompatibility between the government’s avowed interest in economic development in the East and the draconian regime of oversight, directly under the gaze of the President, of all actors so involved in the East. With the depletion of State coffers and the Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism that informs the Mahinda Chintanaya’s approach to and understanding of conflict and peace, it is fairly clear that liberation of the East is essentially the imprimatur of a single community over and above the aspirations, identity and history of others and replacing the violent hegemonic control of the LTTE with that of the State and its allied paramilitaries.

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Real broadband

August 22, 2007

By Rohan Samarajiva

Why broadband?

Just a few years ago, we were trying to figure out what the Internet was. Those days, pretty much everyone was using the Internet from their workplaces: using dial-up.

Now, life doesn’t feel complete without broadband. Some have always-on connections even from their homes, and their concern is that it takes ages to download a video clip, or that on most days, it’s impossible.

Is this some kind of upper-middle class fad, here today, gone tomorrow?

Doesn’t seem to be. Sri Lanka’s first mesh network popped up in Mahavilachchiya, within hoo distance of Wilpattu. They’ve got broadband; they’ve got blogs; they’ve even got a BPO. A BPO is a place that takes a part of a firm’s operations and does it for them. Not for charity, but for real money.

People are making money in the middle of the jungle using computers and telecom. Without broadband, they could not.

Broadband is not only about work and making money. It’s fun. One of the key drivers of broadband in the most advanced broadband country in Asia (and indeed the whole world, for a few years until little Iceland overtook it) is gaming.

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“Nation, is the geo-social entity
providing maximum security for the survival of a community,
Nationalism, is that fundamental desire
For the assurance of a Nation
Nations uniting and dividing
Of their own volition, is the
Expression of their urge for that assurance
Alas, as usual, this time too
Our Nation lost the basis of its existence”


V I.S Jeyapalan


By Shanthi Sachithanandam

Bathed in the glare of the media and a high-pitched war rhetoric, the military operations in the East were the visible war efforts to most of us in this country and abroad during the past few months. But simultaneously, elsewhere in the East, the government had stealthily opened up another war front away from all the publicity and fanfare. This particular battle was part of a longer term strategy than anything that had been envisaged by the security forces in the North-East. Extraordinary gazette notification was its hardware that carried ammunition in the form of legality, which was deadlier than the biggest multi barrel rocket launcher. Once ground control is consolidated, it is going to use the so called agents of development as its forces of occupation.

It is none other than the declaration of the Muttur East/ Sampur area within the Trincomalee district as a high security zone, and also as a special development zone.

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By Air Vice Marshal Harry Gunetilleke (Rtd)

Come around mid-July this year, there were victory celebrations with much euphoria, if not in the North and North East of Sri Lanka, with some enthusiasm certainly in the rest of the country, at the behest of the State which gave the lead with a colourful military parade at Independence Square, reminiscent of the yearly Independence day celebrations, on the occasion of the conquest of Thoppigala, even before the powder ran dry.

Here, it must be noted that the military hierarchy desired another week or two for mopping up operations but the power that be would have none of it perhaps, wanting to put up a great show before the other big event of the opposition planned for 26th July through a mass rally where crowds in six figures were expected for the event.

I leave it to the readers to judge the reaction of the masses and other organizations as to who outdid the other and at what expense to the nation. As an ex-military chief, I am pleased at the exploits of our soldiers, sailors and airmen in the battle-field which commenced with the Jaffna Peninsula being brought under the writ of authority of the Government in 1995, followed eleven years later with the reacquisition of a large land area in the Trincomalee district comprising Muttur, Sampur, Thopur, Mavil Aru and Kattaiparichan in July/August last year, ending up, to this point of time, at Thoppigala in the Batticaloa district after securing the seaward defences in Verugal, Mankeshi, Panichchankerni and Vakarai areas.

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By Lieutenant General J.E. Denis Perera

There are various interpretations given on “Terrorism” by the media and by some individuals. However, Sri Lanka has not given an official interpretation of “Terrorism” even in the “Prevention of Terrorism” Act. The U.S. Department of Defence and the FBI, for instance define terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The U.S. State Department, on the other hand  uses the definition contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, viz:-“The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. The term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country. The term “terrorist group” means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice international terrorism.” It is not difficult to see from the above set of definitions that the state is responding to a precise version of terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

August Editorial

August 11, 2007

Sri Lanka is worse off than when Mahinda Rajapaksa entered power. Poorer, deader and more isolated from the world and each other. In Colombo you can perceive it in the ubiquitous police presence, abductions in our midst, and disruptive VIP convoys. In the North and East it is obvious in that over 600,000 are displaced, living cheek to jowl in IDP camps, having their women changing in front of strangers and their children using overcrowded latrines. Sri Lankans also have less money in their pockets than when Mahinda entered office. The Colombo Consumer Price Index (inflationary measure) is up by 25%, meaning that the same wages buy you less food. The war that demands this sacrifice has limited support with those supporting a military solution declining from 35.1% to 27.9% among the Sinhala population (CPA Peace Confidence Index). Finally, the Rajapaksa corruption ranges even to deal with the LTTE, offensive to everyone. In the face of all this bad news, how does this government stand?

One can point to the ineptitude of the Opposition, or the moral bankruptcy of crossover MPs like Milinda Moragoda or G.L. Peiris. However, the answer is more obvious. Sri Lanka is a democracy with a constitution. No matter how many people assemble in Hyde Park, the next presidential election is in 2011 and the next parliamentary election is in 2010 – unless Mahinda snaps his fingers on the latter. Read the rest of this entry »