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Mihin again losing millions per day

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Chamal Rajapakse

By Ranjith Jayasundera

Mihin Lanka is crashing once again with regular empty or barely half full flights causing the airline to run at a loss of over Rs 1 million per day. Several flights have flown empty with zero passengers leaving the airline far short of the three million rupees in revenue required per day in order for it to just break even.

Two flights had actually flown with zero passengers, and only three out of the 38 flights flown thus far by Mihin Lanka’s new aircraft have had a load factor of over 50%. One of these flights was the airline’s inaugural flight to Dubai, which carried 141 passengers.

The other two flights that were over half full were also flights to Dubai, carrying just 98 and 101 passengers respectively, out of the aircraft’s 186 seat capacity.

The Sunday Leader was able to acquire data from within Mihin Lanka detailing the number of passengers on every single flight flown by Mihin up until last Friday, January 16. As a bonus, if you are reading this article early on Sunday morning, the information presented here is up to the minute, since Mihin Lanka does not fly on Saturdays, allegedly due to astrological superstitions.

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January 18, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | 3 Comments

Historical Editorial by a killed man: Sunday Leader Lasantha

this editorial published by the Sunday Leader today 11/01/2009 ,written by the killed editor lasantha.He is the journalist of the century. Such a great lost for foolish Sri Lankans.

Editorial


And Then They Came For Me

No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader’s 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you’d best stop buying this paper.

The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let’s face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example,  we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka’s ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that – pray excuse cricketing argot – there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos‚s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

What is more, a military occupation of the country’s north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering “development” and “reconstruction” on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen – and all of the government – cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President’s House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I – and my family – have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am – and have always been – ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be – and will be – killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

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January 11, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | Leave a comment

Sundays without Suranimala : in the memory of Lasantha

By Dharisha Bastians
As we waited, breath bated for three hours while doctors attempted to revive Lasantha Wickrematunga from fatal injury he had received last Thursday, there was communal anguish. We wept at the confirmation that he had succumbed to his injuries later that afternoon and as we marched in protest at his brutal murder, the anger and bitterness within the media community was tangible.
The cold blooded killing of The Sunday Leader Editor in Chief, Lasantha Wickrematunga has unleashed a wave of emotions in the Sri Lankan media fraternity over the last 72 hours. Yet, none of the shock nor grief seemed to hit quite so hard as the tragic sense of loss I was to feel at the grim realisation that ‘Suranimala’ would write no more. For those of us who live by what we write, there is no greater loss.

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January 11, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | Leave a comment

Another Cold blood killing : Lasantha Wicrama by Kotabaya

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We feel really sorry for Lasantha Wicramathunga ,the brave editor and founder of Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka  and his newly married wife. It is a  tragedy  and painful news but it is not surprised at all. As Sri Lanka is being the hell on earth for any brave journalist. The arm squared lead by Mahinda and Co did this task next to MTV issue. No point in writing a lot about this as already all the media reported a lot.

Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramathunga was shot and Killed

Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramathunga was shot on  morning 08/01/2009  at Bakery Junction. Aththidiya. Police Media spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara said the media that assassination was conducted by two gunmen riding a motorcycle.

Wickramathunga was rushed in to Kalubowila hospital for immediate treatment.  Later the same day evening 4 pm he died due to severer head injury .

Managala Says :

Lasantha had the files regarding the deals of Gotabhaya Rajapakse in his possession and he was to submit them to the courts. Lasantha was to expose a massive transaction of the Ministry of Defense and a decision taken at Wednesday (07) cabinet in his newspaper. Therefore, the decision to assassinate him was hurriedly implemented,” says Sri Lanka Freedom Party People’s Wing leader Mangala Samaraweera.

He made these observations at a special press briefing held last evening (0 8/01/2009 ) in the official residence of the Opposition Leader.

Samaraweera said that a killer squad led by the Rajapakse regime conducted the killings of MP Pararajasingham on December 25, 2006 inside a cathedral, assassinations of MPs Maheswaran and Raviraj, brutally assaulted Keith Noyer who criticized the Army Commander and prompted him to leave the country and attacked freelance journalist Namal Perera and Mahendra Rathnaweera, an employee of British High Commission.

MP Mangala Samaraweera directly accused that the executioners of Rajapakse regime had conducted the killing of journalist Lasantha Wickramathunga.

May be he will be next in the hit list. !

………continue soon.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | , , , | Leave a comment

LTTE entered colombo in White Van ,30 of them attacked Defence office and returned safe.

Sorry for mis leading the readers with such titles, but if you all know about the attack took place in MTV office located in Colombo on )6/01/2009 you can believe it.

In a higher security zone ,in a white van around 20 goons came with guns and entered MTV attacked ,fired, bombed every think they see and return back safely.on 06/01/2009

Same think happened to Sunday leader publication last year. That also located in Ratmalana High Security Zone.

If all this possible ,why LTTE also cannot enter like this and attack and return safe. There for people who with little brain also can understand this attack planned and carry out by whom.

As long as any one can enter and attack , return safely in security zones, I just like to warn our president, LTTE can enter your palace also ,take care about your children,if you have any females beware as LTTE can do any damage to them in any form. Take care of your wife ,dont surprise if she is missing in the early morning as LTTE can enter and kidnap people from any security zone.

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Police refused to act on time.

“Since there was a petrol bomb attack on Friday we were on alert and around 2 a.m. last morning I was informed by a security guard that there were three suspect vehicles without number plates parked near the public playground close to the MBC/ MTV office. I immediately sent our mobile security unit to the scene and within a few seconds they rushed back and wanted me to inform the police immediately. I acted promptly although the police failed to come to the scene until the gang had left after destroying the station,” Duty Officer, MTV, Supun Ratnayake told to media today.

According to Ratnayake the gang had arrived around 2.15 a.m and has taken only 20 minutes to accomplish their mission.

“Without any hesitation I would say that those who came for the attack was a group of well trained military personnel. This is very clear because they destroyed the entire station within a few minutes causing the maximum damage.

We could come to a conclusion that they were trained personnel not only from their behaviour, but also from how they planned to get away in case of an emergency. They had drawn a huge cable along their pathway to enable them to come out of the building in case of a power disconnection. They had threatened one of our employees and had obtained his assistance to locate the main control rooms and the other important sections,” added Ratnayake.****

All this attack done with the blessing of Gotabaya and Mahinda.The main supportive force behind this is Kudu Mervin.

Gotabaya ordered the security check points to allow the particular White van ,that travels after  another numbered VAN,so that is the indication for the security personal to identify the Blessed White van with number plate to allow.

As they well planned ,as they did once to Sunday Leader Last year,did the nasty attack to MTV. Really they are not claver enough ,fools as this is going to give MTV a great and Big exposure to the world and it will grow more stronger.

(Exclusive from Colombo)

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | , , , | Leave a comment

MTV attacked by Mahinda and goons !

MTV Office attacked on 06/12/2009 by Pro Government elements on and had a great damage for it’s transmission equipments ,Office and minor injuries for the staff .Attacks on media is not new to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans unde Mahinda’s Rule. This is the editorial from Morning Leader mentioning all the government’s attacks on media in Sri Lanka.

Goons can wreck peace

Editorial : Morning Leader

While troops of the Sri Lanka Army having valiantly fought and captured the LTTE de facto capital of Killinochchi were inching their way towards Elephant Pass and Mullaithivu to deliver what is believed to be the penultimate blow to LTTE terrorism, a cowardly and senseless attack was made by a group of armed thugs on MTV’s main transmission station at Depanama in Pannipitiya in the early morning hours of yesterday. This group of thugs, armed with automatic weapons, grenades and bombs assaulted employees of MTV, forced them under death threats to take them to the central transmission room where electronic equipment critical for TV transmission was housed, fired their automatic weapons  and threw grenades  wrecking the sensitive equipment. They rampaged through the building, setting booby traps to certain locations and departed after the mayhem. Last Friday a petrol bomb had been hurled at the premises by unidentified persons and on Monday an unmarked white van was seen moving up and down the road observing the institution. And finally in the early hours of Tuesday it was in a notorious and dreaded white van that the goons arrived and set about their mayhem and vanished into thin air despite all the security checkpoints leading up to the station.

2089sirasa_attacked_jWith the country placed on high security alert against terrorist attacks, the police and other establishments dealing with security seemed to have been blissfully unaware that this institution was a potential target and would be vulnerable to attacks. Of course condemnation of the dastardly attack would, as usual, be made stemming from the highest in the land going down  to the political riff-raff. Some of them would no doubt be delighted at what happened. Those in the security establishment starting from the IGP would as usual declare that ‘security would be tightened’ and ‘miscreants brought to book.’ As usual, going by history, nothing will take place. Media institutions that are not supportive of government policies one hundred per cent are fair game for pro government goons. We of The Leader know this only too well, having had our printing presses located in a high security zone attacked and set on fire last year by a group of armed goons who came over the wall but are still at large.

The commando style attack on the MTV establishment apparently had been the work of ‘patriots’ who did not agree with the presentation of news and views on the conflict between the government forces and the LTTE. Earlier, some self proclaimed ‘patriots’ launched vehement attacks on MTV and attached the tag of ‘LTTE’ and ‘traitors’ on it. The goons would have expected the gratitude of the nation conferred on them for this attack made under the cover of darkness. But now it could be expected that global condemnations would follow as it usually happens when free and independent media establishments are attacked in this manner and President Rajapakse and the government would have to make amends.

Sri Lanka has had the disastrous experience of vigilante groups assuming the role of the guardians of the moral conscience of the nation and attempting to enforce their views through violence. What we are witnessing today is not only an attempt to silence the media but under the cover of patriotism and the sacrifices made by the security forces stifle all dissenting view points and firmly establish a one party state so that the assets of the nation can be plundered at will.

The obvious objective of any war is peace and President Mahinda Rajapakse in his Killinochchi ‘victory speech’ spoke of national reconciliation, peace and democracy. While literature on the Art of War abound in libraries, not so much about the Art of Peace. We are not referring to the tomes of gibberish written about conflict resolution by our Colombo peace makers. How do we make two long estranged communities come together and pick up the threads of friendship left behind, even before most of them were born? It is much harder than the unilateral declarations of instantaneous establishment of peace and democracy in the east through military action and rigged elections by politicians in power.

We can only suggest ways and means of not creating conditions that generate antagonisms that take minds to painful times. Our warnings are about the ‘victory celebrations’ throughout towns and villages that have been aired on radio, TV and the press after Killinochchi. Certainly the people who have been suffering for long because of this ‘war’ have a right and natural tendency to celebrate the victory over fascism attempted by one man.

But state media pundits who are crying out for national reconciliation should also consider the effects of these juvenile displays — baila dancing with sarongs tucked up, beating of drums and lighting of crackers in bazaars and raban playing — on Tamils who do not see much to celebrate in the events. The political bosses should confer with their media pundits whether these gaudy displays reminiscent of schoolboys celebrating big match victories could help national reconciliation or exacerbate old wounds.

Of course provincial council elections are round the corner and these ‘victory celebrations’ are a prelude to PC elections. There was the happy coincidence of the fall of Killinochchi within a month of elections to the North Western and Central Provincial Councils — elections which need not have been called so soon. Perhaps the fall of Elephant Pass and Mullaithivu would come on the eve of the elections in February and there could be more ‘victory dancing’ in the bazaars. Goons smashing up anti-government media organisations in order to cripple them could also help in winning elections.

President Rajapakse spoke in very solemn terms about national reconciliation in his ‘victory speech’ and he should not permit parochial issues such as provincial council elections to come in between his higher objectives. Rajapakse had announced to the world that his solution to the ethnic problems would be through the APRC but now once again the APRC is being threatened. The Patriotic National Centre affiliated to the JVP is threatening to leave the APRC because of its intentions of devolving power while the SLMC has said it wants to leave the APRC because there was no sign of a devolutionary political package being proposed. We have commented earlier that the APRC was a dead duck because the major parties — UNP, TNA and JVP were keeping out of it.

Rajapakse can no longer be in the pavilion watching others bat for him. He should get into the playing field. Meanwhile, he should crack down on goons who had unleashed violence against the MTV because the irresistible inference is that the dastardly attack was carried out by a group linked to the state. Given the fact the whole country was placed on high security alert following the liberation of Killinochchi, there is no way the government can exonerate itself from this dastardly attack especially considering the provocative statements made through the state media against the MTV/MBC in the very recent past.

Therefore the burden is now on President Rajapakse to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book and prove not by mere words but deeds that the government had no hand in the attack. Till then the Rajapakse Administration will remain the principal suspect.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | , | Leave a comment