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Victory in a war is determined by the political leadership – Minister Sarath Weerasekera



by Saman Indrajith

The then corporal of the school cadet platoon is today a cabinet minister, while the sergeant of the same platoon now is an opposition MP, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera told Parliament on Thursday.

Participating in the budget debate under the expenditure heads of the Ministries of Defence and Public Security, the Minister said that Gampaha District SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, in his speech said that he (Fonseka) gave leadership to the army to win the war and the corporal, while he was the sergeant of the school cadet platoon has now become a cabinet minister.

“It is true. I was the corporal in the cadet platoon when Fonseka was the sergeant. Today I am a cabinet minister,” Weerasekera said.

Field Marshal Fonseka: I said so without any ill-will. I wish you all the luck with your appointment. I am only asking you to take care and be vigilant of those on your side today.

Minister Weerasekera: I don’t think that our past would hinder any of us doing our duties and our present positions will harm our friendship.

Minister Weerasekara however said that he disagreed with Field Marshal Fonseka’s view that political leadership should be deprived of the credit of victory for the war. “I was one of the five top military personnel honoured at the end of the war. I admit that the army went from strength to strength under Field Marshal Fonseka, but I have to say that the victory of a war is determined by the political leadership. War is an extension of politics. There can be politics without war but there cannot be war without politics”.

He said that World War II was won by Winston Churchill. It was lost by Adolph Hitler. The names of generals and admirals come only after those names. Today, thousands of people in Vietnam are walking thousands of miles braving the sun and rain to come and respect Ho Chi Min, the political leader of the Vietnam war. They don’t come to respect the war winning general Vo Nguyen Giap.

There is a museum in honour of Ho Chi Min and no museum in the name of General Giap. Similarly, when General MacArthur tried to extend the Korean war up to China, the then US President Harry Truman removed him and appointed General Matthew Ridgeway in his place. That is how the politicians decide the outcome of a war. So it is always the political leadership that determines the victory of war, the Minister further said.

“We know that in 1987, we were very close to ending the war with the Vadamarachchi operation. The then political leadership got cold feet when India dropped lentils from the air and stopped the operation. We still remember the tears in the eyes of General Denzil Kobbekaduwa for depriving him of victory. Similarly, on May 19, 2009, we saw the end of Prabhakaran. Several days prior to that David Miliband from England and Bernard Kuchner from France came to pressure the then president and defence secretary to stop the war. If the then political leadership decided to stop the war, you would not become a hero today”, he added.

Field Marshal Fonseka: I spoke about soldiers. You speak about politicians. 

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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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