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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2340

Monthly archive

‘Hastening Slowly’ : Perspectives on Politics and Prabhakaran in Sri Lanka

By Col R Hariharan (Retd.)

The recent success of President Rajapaksa in cruising his budget proposals with a combination of carrot, stick, muscle power, rhetoric and backroom deals (ultimately they always come to light in Sri Lanka) through a divided house has underlined his strategy of 'hastening slowly.' This phrase, an oxymoron (a rhetorical figure of speech in which contradictory terms are used together), aptly describes not only the budget process but also the happenings in Sri Lanka, whether it is the Security Forces operations, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's leader Prabhakaran's Heroes' Day response, the elusive an all party formulation for devolution, or the government's handling international outcry on human rights violations in the country.

Indian Air Force to Set Up base Near Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon have a full-fledged fighter base near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. It will be utilized to keep an eye on the major sea-lanes of communication which carry over 60 per cent of the world trade, including oil, to energy starved countries in East Asia and India, said a senior official here. The new air force base is also expected to be useful in combating threats of terrorism from the sea. However, the official discounted the notion that it was being set up to take on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He said the IAF concurred with the observation of Chief of the Naval Staff Sureesh Mehta that the LTTE was an irritant and not a threat.

Confusing Times

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

For the JVP this is the ‘best of times and the worst of times’, a time of unprecedented opportunity and of insurmountable dilemma. A future full of promise and of danger beckons to the JVP as it stands at a crucial crossroad. The way the JVP turns, the choices it opts for and the ones it rejects will have a bearing not only on its own fate and the fates of the regime and the UNP but also on the future trajectory of Sri Lanka. Running with the hare and hunting with the hound is a practice that is in no way alien to the JVP. For almost a year no party has been more critical of the Rajapakse administration than the JVP. In parliament and outside, it thrashed the regime mercilessly.

“UNESCO does not have either the competence or the mandate to express views,” Sri Lanka Ambassador

The Director General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, has been told politely not to express views on the subject on which UNESCO does not have either the competence or the mandate to express views. Sri Lanka Government has categorically emphasized to Koichiro Matsuura, that the conflict in Sri Lanka Lanka is a complex political issue on which UNESCO does not have either the competence or the mandate to comment. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Paris Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara has rightly pointed out that though UNESCO represented in the Counter Terrorism Implementational Task Force and has made a contribution in inter-sectoral activities in the various domains of the United Nations aimed at fostering the dialogue among peoples and countering terrorism, this does not give a carte blanch to the Director General to comment on specific situations of Member States.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, JVP Style: They Engaged the SLFP and UNP and then enraged them

Sunday Discourse by Philip Fernando in Los Angeles

JVP has the unenviable task of increasing its voter pool over three hundred percent in three years—prior to the next election in order to cause their support climb from the current 12 to at least 40 percent, and the strength in Parliament from 38 to 113 MPs. So their every action is under the microscope: everyone is trying to dissect the inner workings of the JVP. The conclusions are as follows: JVP is on a path towards winning friends and influencing people at an unprecedented scale. Their short-term tactics are increasingly short-term said one critic and hence, they are viewed suspiciously. Surrender is not an option for them, but it happens occasionally. Their long-term goals are straight forward enough, that is to reject both SLFP and UNP political philosophies as totally unacceptable to Sri Lanka. Parliamentary Leader Wimal Weerawansa made that clear during his hour long speech ending the Budget debate.

U.S. Government-funded Vocational Training Center Opens in Ambalangoda

Minister for Vocational and Technical Training Piyasena Gamage and U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission James R. Moore together opened a newly rebuilt vocational training center (VTC) in Ambalangoda on December 18, 2007. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the opening, Mr. Moore said, “The U.S. Government is honored to support the construction of a facility that will provide greater opportunities for local youth – for the next generation in your great country.” In his speech, Minister Gamage emphasized the importance of vocational training to economic growth at the local level, and he thanked the U.S. Government for its extensive cooperation with his ministry on other projects throughout Sri Lanka.

Indian knife disemboweling Prabhakaran

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Amidst all the fireworks and the drama of the unfolding events one factor surfaces with sharp clarity: President Mahinda Rajapakse is on a winning streak both nationally and internationally. Col. R. Hariharan, former head of the IPKF intelligence in Jaffna, confirmed this when he told me at the Madras Club in Chennai last week: "I back Mahinda Rajapaksa fully. He has a clear cut programme. He must pursue it to the end." In case I didn't get it right or misheard it I went through with it all over again. The previous day N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious Hindu, told me categorically that Velupillai Prabhakaran must be removed from the political equation for peace to dawn in Sri Lanka. His wish nearly came true when the Sri Lankan Air Force missed a direct hit. However, the debris of the bomb that hit his hideout in Jeyanthy Nagar on November 28 injured Prabhakaran.

Dhaka Diary: Dhaka passing Holidays- Eid-ul Azha celebrated,

Rajen Thakur- Diplomatic Correspondent

Bangladesh celebrated Eid-ul Azha , the second largest religious festival of Muslims, across the country amidst due religious fervour and spirit of sacrifice. However, the usual enthusiasm for the festival will be missing among the Cyclone Sidr hit people of southern part of Bangladesh. Thousands of people left Dhaka for their rural homes to celebrate the festival after going through the hurdles of managing tickets for buses, trains and launches. Three day long government holiday started since 21 December, Newspapers offices also remained closed. However, the government offices will not be illuminated this year due to cyclone tragedy. It appears from reports in the dailies that Bangladesh may take its turn to politics violating the emergency rule in the January 2008.

Not many tears shed, no lessons learnt

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan - Syndicate Features

December 16 this year as usual passed with not many tears shed with no lessons learnt. And much like the previous Praetorian adventurers who germinated Pakistan’s break up by denying its people genuine democracy based on the sure foundations of true federalism, those in power today are behaving no better. December 16 has come to be the darkest day in Pakistan’s history. On this day the coterie of generals under Yahya Khan surrendered half of the country to the Indian army. And despite the best efforts of their wired propagandists to forget it many amongst us continue to feel the pain and trauma that led to an otherwise avoidable break up.

Sri Lanka under flood: Major roads inundated, houses destroyed, thousands of acres of paddy field under water

The local meteorologist say rainy weather will continue over the next few days. They forecast rain in the Northern, North-central, Eastern, Uva, Southern and Central provinces. The public is cautioned regarding landslides that could occur in several areas of the Galle district. The number of displaced due to heavy showers experienced over several days is around ten thousand families. Director of the National Disaster Management Centre M.D. Hettiarachchi says fifty houses have been completely destroyed. He said around 500 other are partially damaged by rain related incidents. Assistance continues to be provided to those affected by rain. Mr. Hettiarachchi said a new government circular has increased financial allocations for disasters such as the present condition.


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