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Yugadanavi dispute: Govt. ready for dialogue with dissidents

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JVP frowns on CEB Chairman’s role

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has said that the government is prepared to consider dissenting views expressed by various parties critical of the agreement on the Yugadanavi Power Plant situated at Kerawalapitiya.

The Gampaha District SLPP heavyweight said that the government would take, what he called, a comparatively good decision after examining concerns expressed as regards the agreement.

Minister Ranatunga said so yesterday (15) after opening the newly constructed Samurdhi Bank at Kerawalapitiya.

In addition to the JVP and the SJB, a section, within the SLPP parliamentary group, as well as Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera of Ape Janabala Pakshaya have launched a high profile campaign against the energy deal. All of them have moved court against the agreement with an American company.

A nationalist civil society group, led by Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, too, has resorted to legal action.

Declaring the government’s readiness to reach a consensus with the dissident group, Minister Ranatunga said that the copies of the agreement had been made available to the leaders of the constituent parties of the government to facilitate a dialogue.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake tabled the secret Yugadanavi agreement in Parliament on Dec 10. The government on Sept 17, 2021 finalised the agreement though in spite of repeated requests refrained from tabling it in Parliament.

Minister Ranatunga said that party leaders could express their views on the issue at hand. If the Yugadanavi deal could provide relief to the people, the government should go ahead with it, lawmaker Ranatunga said, underscoring the importance of the relevant ministries briefing the pubic of the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.

Minister Ranatunga said that the continuing accidental explosions caused by domestic gas cylinders, too, was a major problem. Once the investigations into the incidents were brought to a successful conclusion, the Attorney General could initiate legal proceedings, the minister said.

The Minister alleged that the Opposition was trying to exploit current developments to its advantage.

Former JVP MP Sunil Handunetti yesterday (15) told The Island that consultations among political parties represented in the government parliamentary group as well as others in Parliament should have taken place ahead of the signing of the agreement.

Alleging that Yugadanavi deal was nothing but a clandestine operation, one-time Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Handunetti asked the rationale of the CEB Chairman M.C. Ferdinando signed as a witness in his other capacity as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

Pointing out that Ferdinando had declared at a media conference arranged by the Presidential Media Division (PMD) that the signing of the agreement was delayed as they awaited the Attorney General’s approval, Handunetti urged the government to explain the developments in the wake of cabinet granting approval to Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle to sign what was called a framework agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka.

The role of the AG as well as the Chief Government Valuer in the Yugadanavi project should be examined, the ex-MP said.

Handunetti said that the government had been in an indecent hurry to finalize the agreement. Referring to a Finance Ministry Cabinet Memorandum dated Sept.06, Handunetti said that the cabinet has authorized Attygalle on July 5, 2021 and the framework agreement signed on July 7, 2021. The share sales/ purchase agreement has been signed over a week after the relevant cabinet memorandum, the former lawmaker said, adding that the government swiftly and decisively moved this matter after the change at the Finance Ministry in July this year.

Responding to another query, Handunetti emphasized that until JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake presented a certified copy of the agreement to the Parliament on Dec 10, the government made a desperate attempt to suppress it.

Before the signing of the Yugadanavi deal, the government brought M. C. Ferdinando as the Chairman of the CEB and engaged in a clandestine operation for over five months until the exposure of the deal. Handunetti said that the Yugadanavi deal was as bad as the treasury bond scams if not far worse as those responsible manipulated the whole political and administrative setup to achieve their sinister goal.

The former MP said that the SLPP couldn’t suppress the ugly truth by proroguing the Parliament. The Yugadanavi fiasco should be examined taking into consideration other major issues, including the decision to pay the Chinese USD 6.7 mn having rejected consignment of carbonic fertiliser and the import of liquid fertiliser from India under controversial circumstances.

The JVPer said that the government on its own had caused so much turmoil at a time the country was struggling to meet its financial obligations, both here and abroad.



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Bipartisan US Congress legislation calls for self-determination for Eelam Tamils

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Wiley

…proposes South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo style solution

A controversial resolution has been introduced to the US Congress calling on the United States to work towards an independence referendum for Eelam Tamils and recognize the genocide committed against them by the Sri Lankan state.

The resolution, introduced by Wiley Nickel, is the first of its kind to be brought to the US Congress. It comes as Tamils marked the LTTE’s defeat 15 years ago, with May 18 commemorated as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, worldwide.

The resolution calls for the “no recurrence of past violence, including the ‘Tamil Genocide’, by supporting the right to self-determination of Eelam Tamil people and their call for an independence referendum for a lasting peaceful resolution”.

It goes on to detail historic Tamil support for independence and how “similar conflicts have successfully been democratically, peacefully, and legally resolved by exercising the right to self-determination by the people in countries such as South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo via independence referendums with support from the United States and other countries”.

It resolves that the House of Representatives:

(1) urges the United States to strengthen diplomatic channels with the Eelam Tamils and collaborate toward peace and stability in the South Asian region of the Indo-Pacific;

(2) urges the United States and the international community to advocate for and protect the political rights of the Eelam Tamil people and work toward a permanent political solution based on their right to self-determination that is democratically and peacefully approved by them through a universally accepted process of independence referendum; and

(3) recognizes the genocide against the Eelam Tamil people by Sri Lanka.

The resolution has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Susan Wild, Danny K. Davis, Nicole Malliotakis, Mike Carey, Donald G. Davis, Summer L. Lee, and Jeff Jackson.

The full text of the resolution: “This conflict shattered families and communities, leaving deep scars that are still felt to this day,” said Nickel as he addressed the United States Congress today (May 15).

“My resolution recognizes the genocide in Sri Lanka and affirms the right of Tamils to self-determination through a democratic process.” Nickel stated that the resolution “emphasises the need for a peaceful and democratic solution to ongoing tensions in Sri Lanka”.

“It advocates an independence referendum, a process that has been used successfully to resolve similar conflicts in other parts of the world. This echoes our commitment to democratic principles and underscores our support for human rights globally.”

“The resolution is a significant step forward in our struggle for self-determination,” said an Eelam Tamil activist who worked closely with US representatives, from Washington DC. They were present alongside dozens of others, as Nickel spoke.

“This is the first time that support for an independent Tamil Eelam has been publicly and explicitly advocated for at the United States Congress. Fifteen years since the end of the Mullivaikkal genocide, our struggle is continuing and support for it has only grown. We are not a defeated people.”

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Refugee from Sri Lankan now Labour Party Mayor of UK town

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A smiling Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan (left) at a ceremony where he was accepted as the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

…worked in India, Uganda and Ruwanda before arriving in the UK

A Sri Lankan Tamil, who fled the country during the conflict, has been appointed the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

According to the British media, Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan is the first Hindu to hold that position. Members of Ipswich’s Hindu community attended Wednesday (15) evening’s ceremony, with celebrations at the nearby temple planned for later in the week.

Having fled Sri Lanka, Elavalakan lived and worked in India, Uganda and Rwanda before moving to the UK, the media reported. He initially moved to Ilford, in east London, before moving to Ipswich in 2006.

Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan has taken over the ceremonial role after a unanimous vote at Ipswich Borough Council’s annual meeting.

“I’m so happy today, and very proud to be Mayor of this great town,” the media quoted Elavalakan as having said.

Council leader Neil MacDonald, who proposed the nomination, said Elavalakan would get to read out a general election result during his year in office.

“The announcement by a refugee who fled war and persecution, and who has made a new life and contributed to society here, will send a message,” MacDonald said.

Dr. Sachin Karale, Chair of Ipswich Hindu Samaj, said: “It shows the great diversity and multiculturalism of Ipswich town that a Hindu man is becoming Mayor. I’m really proud.”Elavalakan’s wife, Manchula Elavalakan, will be his consort.

The Mayor’s theme for the year will be “support and wellbeing” with his two chosen charities Genesis Orwell Mencap and Cancer Support Suffolk. ‘Ipswich is my home town’

“When I came for one project here, in Ipswich, I felt the people were very friendly,” he said. “So I decided, Ipswich is my home town.” He became a Labour councillor for St John’s ward in 2014.

“Having lived in many different countries and experienced many different lifestyles, I have always been interested in helping those that need it,” he said. “I am passionate about empowering communities and representing those in need.” Elavalakan is not the first Ipswich Mayor from the Indian sub-continent, however.

Kavas Jamas Bashah was born in Mumbai and was a senior officer of the Indian Civil Service.

He retired to Ipswich and became Mayor in 1925.

The town elected its first Mayor, Benjamin Brame, in 1836, following the Municipal Corporations Act the previous year which reformed local government and made Ipswich a municipal borough. Its first female mayor was Mary Whitmore, in 1946.

She was a suffragette and member of Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and was made MBE in 1951 for her contribution to public services.

Albert Grant became Ipswich’s first black councillor and mayor of Ipswich in 1995.

He moved to the UK in 1955 at the age of 21 and has dedicated his life to tackling racism and fighting to secure equality and justice.

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Govt. asked how it intends to counter US-Eelam lobby

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Dr. Wasantha Bandara

‘Far worse than Canadian declaration of Tamil genocide’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Top Patriotic National Movement (PNM) spokesperson Dr. Wasantha Bandara said that the government should explain how it intended to counter the powerful Eelamist lobby seeking to divide the country on ethnic lines with the help of the US, a self-appointed world policeman.

Dr. Bandara said so commenting on a resolution that had been introduced to the US Congress calling on the government to work towards an independence referendum in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and recognise the genocide committed.

Dr. Bandara pointed out that the US move should be examined also taking into consideration the continuing Western support extended to the Khalistan movement seeking an independent state in India’s Punjab region.

The civil society activist said that the so-called bipartisan resolution had been timed for the 15th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s triumph over the separatist terrorist agenda.

Responding to another query, Dr. Bandara said that the US resolution meant that though the LTTE’s conventional military/terrorist power had been eradicated in the battlefield, the Eelamist lobby was busy in Western capitals.

According to him, the US-British led grouping pushed Sri Lanka over the accountability issue as part of their overall strategy to pressure the government on a solution that would end the country’s unitary status.

Dr. Bandara asked how could the government and the Opposition remain silent when the US-backed Eelamists’ push for a solution similar to self-determination granted to South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo through ‘independence referendums’ with support from the United States and other powerful countries.

The heightened threat to our unitary status should be one of the major issues at the forthcoming presidential poll, Dr. Bandara said, demanding that all political parties state their positions on the US moves.

Dr. Bandara said that the government should set the record straight in Washington and Geneva where agendas inimical to post-war Sri Lanka were being hatched.

Dr. Bandara said that successive governments, including the current dispensation, should be ashamed of their failure to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.

The US move, unless countered, could be far worse than the Canadian declaration of Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on May 18 and sanctions on former Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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