life National Anthem facing the music
A well-meaning effort to give 'new life' to the National
Anthem has run into an unexpected storm for the men behind the move
- protests have come from all quarters, including the President's
A CD prepared
by the Government-controlled Lake House Group's 'Silumina' newspaper
due to have been released to co-incide with the 55th anniversary
of Independence next month, has given rise to charges ranging from
playing up to the Eelamists to corrupting the original to commercialism.
The nationalist Sihala Urumaya, the Marxist-nationalist JVP and
the President's Office have protested demanding that no variations
be made in the National Anthem.
leader Tilak Karunaratne has said, "this is an initial step
towards catering to Eelamist requirements" and in a letter
to the Minister of Cultural Affairs, he has said that the next step
would be to have a rendering of the National Anthem in rap or baila.
The JVP has
said the National Anthem cannot be altered according to the whims
of NGOs, and the President's Office has called for a copy of the
CD while ordering that this rendering not be used during any State-sponsored
Independence Day celebrations.
officials insist that the new CD was sung according to the words
and music notes enshrined in the Constitution.
Times was given a copy of the CD and found no deviation from the
words and the general tune of the National Anthem, but the tempo
had no doubt been somewhat upbeat with some extra oriental drum
and some additional symbols in the rendition which indeed gave a
tasteful 'pep' to the Anthem.
a 'pep' was a good thing or bad would be a matter of opinion, some
would even appreciate it. But whether this is permissible is an
No two renditions
of any National Anthem, though, are likely to be identical. The
CD's Music Director, Rohana Weerasinghe, told The Sunday Times that
some of the country's best-known musicians - Amaradeva and Nanda
Malini - together with a 25 piece orchestra took part in cutting
said the words are the original words and the tune the same, only
that the music has been "enriched" by the use of high-quality
Minister Karunasena Kodituwakku has somewhat distanced himself from
the exercise by passing the ball to his cabinet-collegue, Home Affairs
Minister Alick Aluvihare, the subject coming under the latter ministry.
But, Mr Aluvihare
last night told The Sunday Times that he was not sure whether the
issue should be taken up by his Ministry as only National Celebrations
are organized by the Home Affairs Ministry. On listening to the
CD, how the argument that the CD is the " initial step towards
catering to the Eelamist requirements " is baffling to say
the least, but there appears to some argument, even if this particular
CD is not so, whether giving 'new life' to the National Anthem might
end up one daywith a rendition bordering on baila music.
that any steps, however well-meaning, towards giving the National
Anthem 'new life' must embrace a wider committee of persons and
have the formal blessings of the State, while protagonists argue
that as long as they have abided by the notes enshrined in the Constitution,
they have not erred.
the playing of the new CD during Independence celebrations is currently
on-hold and sales of the new CD similarly held back until the controversy
is settled one-way or the other.
Department, Pramuka deals to be investigated
more go to court
Kirinde and Shanika Udawatte
an initial petition by six depositors, about 200 more depositors
of the now defunct Pramuka Bank will petition the Court of
Appeal this week asking for an order quashing Central Bank's
decision to liquidate Pramuka.
who met on Friday finalized the petition in which they accused
the Central Bank of failing to take the interest of the depositors
have formed a union and a spokesman said they were ready to
keep their money in Pramuka at a minimal interest if steps
were taken to salvage the bank.
charged that Central Bank officials had decided to liquidate
Pramuka to cover up lapses on their part.
a senior Central Bank official said yesterday they were going
ahead with the liquidation process and people who had deposited
less than Rs. 5,000 would be the first to get their money
others would be paid later depending on the assets of the
An audit inspection that was carried out by the Central Bank
with regard to Pramuka Bank has revealed that there have been irregular
transactions by government departments.
states that that gold certificates allegedly issued to government
officials tantamount to violation of the Bribery and Corruption
As such with
the Bribery and Corruption Commission's ongoing investigations,
the CID too, in consultation with the Attorney General's Department,
is carrying out its own investigations to look into the possibility
of criminal charges .
of the Criminal Investigation Department said there have been fraudulent
transfers of properties and the granting of loans.
have been irregularities in pledge loans granted and no proper procedures
have been followed with regard to EPF funds of the bank," the
CID official said.
Meanwhile, the CID has decided to question more than 30 government
officials for allegedly accepting commissions from Pramuka bank
for transacting business with the bank.
government officials including the Public Trustee are due to be
questioned with regard to some 40 million rupees paid as commission
to officials from more than 70 billion rupees in State funds deposited
with the bank between 1997 to 2002.
Some of the
other high officials down for questioning include the chiefs of
the Road Development Authority, Jayewardene Cultural Centre, Jayawardenapura
General Hospital, Samurdhi Maha Sangamaya, Attanagalla, Agalawatte
Rubber Research Institute, Sri Lanka Telecom Provident Fund, and
Surgeon Officers Benevolent Fund of the Sri Lanka Navy, District
Co-operative Rural Bank, Galle.
The CID is
to question the Public Trustee this week after he requested for
time to study available documents prior to continuing his statement
with regard to gold certificates issued to government officials.
He was questioned
for more than five hours last week.
Meanwhile, the CID is still awaiting details from Interpol with
regard to the whereabouts of Pramuka boss Rohan Perera.
off Muslim affairs, Hakeem tells LTTE
Brushing aside LTTE chief negotiator Anton Blasingham's
comments regarding the legitimacy of the SLMC leadership, Minister
Rauff Hakeem yesterday called on the LTTE to desist from "interfering
unduly in civil administrative matters in Muslim areas".
interest of the need for an inevitable rapprochement between the
SLMC and the LTTE which is crucial for sustaining the peace process,
I would like to forget about this episode altogether,."Mr.
Hakeem said referring to the statement made by Mr. Balasingham.
The LTTE chief
negotiator said that he did not believe the present SLMC leadership
represented the Muslim community while pointing out the crisis within
Mr. Hakeem said
that at a subsequent informal meeting in Thailand with Mr. Balasingham,
and other LTTE delegates, they were able to clarify matters in its
say I perfectly understand the context in which Mr. Balasingham
had to comment. His contention is that the LTTE wishes to meet a
unified Muslim team rather than to deal with different factions.
should also be alive to the fact that this is being taken as an
affront to the Muslim community, and more importantly seen as a
very opportunistic and diabolic attitude. Another key factor which
will assist in winning the confidence of the Muslims is for the
LTTE to desist from any attempts to interfere unduly in civil administrative
matters in Muslim areas," he said.
clearing needs hurrying up
With the return and repatriation of refugees, mine clearing
groups working in the North have begun to concentrate on clearing
high priority areas in order to create an environment both conducive
and safe for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons.
of the activity still concentrates around landmine clearing with
surveys being conducted to determine the extent of the problem,
identifying where land mines and Unidentified Ordnances (UXOs) are,
steps are also being taken as an emergency measure to clear areas
where there has been a voluntary return of IDPs. Location of mine
fields are being demarcated and defined on a priority basis with
special emphasis on areas with more accidents or voluntary resettlement
is taking place.
UNDP Chief Technical
Advisor (Mine Action) Alex van Roy said they were in a preparatory
phase formulating the data needed for a fully-fledged project. "A
consolidated, logical project needs data and we're working towards
that," he said, adding that the rainy season had slowed down
the work in the last month.
has been identified as a 'difficult' area with thick vegetation
and gravel under which several mines are buried. It is estimated
that about 20 sq.km in the Jaffna district contains well over 500,000
which is working in Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Trincomalee
will concentrate on clearing landmines and UXOs in high priority
areas from next month, desk officer for South and South East Asia
Simon Comway said. So far 2500 mines have been cleared by HALO Trust
as an emergency measure.