22 September, 2018

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WikiLeaks: Senior Editors At The Upali Group Are Crusty Survivors

By Colombo Telegraph

“Meanwhile,Sri Lanka’s independent media houses have assumed an unruffled wait-and-see mode. Senior editors at the Upali Group (which publishes independent dailies and weekenders in English and Sinhala) are crusty survivors who tell us that they’ve ‘seen it all before.’ And the owner of the Wijeya Group (which, like Upali, publishes independent dailies and weekenders in English and Sinhala) said that he had not been particularly comfortable under the UNP government and anticipated ‘nothing unusual’ now. On a more pragmatic level, contacts at both Upali and Wijeya predicted that the President’s move would simultaneously increase readership (by piquing interest in the story) and lead to a further loss of credibility for the Lake House Press.”the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Ranjith had not been particularly comfortable under the UNP

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database dated November 6, 2003. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written by Charge’d’ Affaires James F. Entwistle. The cable details the political situation just after then President Chandrika Kumaratunge.

Under the subheading “Impact on the press” James F. Entwistle wrote “These developments have already affected Sri- Lanka’s government-owned media houses, where new, pro-PA leadership has been hastily installed (see Ref B.) What impact these new players will have on the government- owned media remains to be seen. However, some observers have already noted changes — perhaps coincidental, probably not — in the above-the-fold front page of the government-controlled Lake House’s flagship daily, the English-language DAILY NEWS:

— 11/5: a headshot of the PM and headlines that call the President’s actions ‘a deliberate and opportunistic act’ and quote the PM as saying: ‘I will ensure people’s mandate is implemented.’

— 11/6: (the first day of the new PA-installed publishing leadership): ‘Ceasefire agreement will stand – Kadirgamar’ and “President supreme in Lanka’s defence – Supreme Court.”

Under the subheading “Situation in Colombo Calm” James wrote “The situation in Colombo remains quiet, with people moving about the city as usual. Adding to the calm atmosphere, the Norwegian Ambassador told Charge’ that he had received assurances from the chiefs of the Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Air Force that they would continue to abide by the rulings of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. SLMM spokesperson Agnes Bragadottir characterized SLMM operations island-wide to poloff as ‘business as usual.’

Related news to the cable; 

WikiLeaks: Opposition Leader Rajapakse Was Extremely Upset Over CBK’s Actions

Read the cable below for further details;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001926 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR D, SA, SA/INS, SA/PD, S/CT; DS/DSS/ITA; DS/IP/NEA/SA
DEPARTMENT ALSO PLEASE PASS TOPEC
NSC FOR E. MILLARD 

E.O. 12958:  DECL:  11-06-13
TAGS: PGOV PINS PTER ASEC KPAO ECON CASC CE NO LTTE
SUBJECT:  Sri Lanka Update:  MPs reportedly rally to
PM's side; Tamils worried; Situation in Colombo quiet 

Refs:  (A) Colombo-Ops Center 11/06/2003 telecon 

-      (B) Colombo 1918, and previous
-      (C) Oslo 2293 

(U) Classified by Charge' d' Affaires James F.
Entwistle.  Reasons 1.5 (b, d). 

1.  (C) SUMMARY:  In reaction to the President's
dramatic actions of November 4-5, MPs from the governing
coalition and Tamil parties have reportedly rallied in
support of the Prime Minister.  There are still
indications, however, that the President may be trying
to tempt possible defectors.  After his visit to
Washington and his Oval Office meeting, the PM is due
back in Colombo early November 7. In other developments,
the President's party has reiterated its support for the
peace process and the Supreme Court has ruled in favor
of the President in regard to defense matters.  Tamil
reaction to the President's moves has been one of deep
concern.  As of yet, there has been no further reaction
from the Tigers.  Despite recent losses, the Colombo
stock market closed marginally up.  There are some
indications that the government-controlled press, which
has been taken over by the President, may be hewing more
to her line.  The situation in Colombo remains calm.
Septel provides analysis on the President's motives in
taking her recent steps and reviews tentative
indications that she may have miscalculated.  END
SUMMARY. 

REPORTED LETTER OF CONFIDENCE IN PM
----------------------------------- 

2.  (SBU) In an apparent show of support for Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, 130 MPs from several
parties, including his United National Party (UNP), the
Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and Sri Lanka Muslim
Congress (SLMC), have signed a letter expressing their
full confidence in his government.  In a list that is
being kept close hold, there are also reportedly
signatures of several members of the President's
People's Alliance party (PA), but that is not confirmed.
If 130 MPs have signed on, the figure is significantly
above the 113 MPs needed to form a majority in the 225-
seat Parliament. 

3.  (C) In the meantime, party supporters are planning
an expansive welcome for the Prime Minister on his
return from his Washington visit early November 7.  UNP
MPs are reportedly arranging to meet the PM at the
airport and accompany him in a motorcade to "Temple
Trees," his official residence in downtown Colombo.  The
rally may spark some tension in light of the state of
emergency declared by the President on November 5.
(Note:  We have advised Embassy employees and the
American community to exercise caution as they move
around town on November 7.)  There is uncertainty over
whether the emergency regulations in place will be
imposed to prevent the UNP MPs from rallying behind the
PM.  (Note:  FYI:  The state of emergency is set to
expire 10 days from November 5 and would need the re-
authorization of Parliament to remain in effect.  One
presidential advisor told us that the President most
likely will let the state of emergency lapse in 10 days,
as she only enacted it to address immediate "security
concerns" arising from her November 4-5 actions.  End
Note.) 

PRESIDENT TRYING TO GATHER SUPPORT
---------------------------------- 

4.  (C) There are continuing indications that President
Kumaratunga and her party are trying to induce members
of the UNP governing coalition to cross over to her PA
party.  If roughly 15-20 or so MPs do so, the PA would
likely attain a majority in Parliament without the
President having to call elections, as some observers
believe she may be inclined to do if all else fails.
Supporting the theory that the President is trying to
woo MPs to her side, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, a senior PA
MP, suggested to poloff on November 6 that some Muslim
MPs might be tempted to defect from the governing
coalition.  In a possible sign of trouble for the PA,
Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar told the Charge'
that he had recently met Opposition Leader Mahinda
Rajapakse.  Rajapakse said he was extremely upset over
the President's actions, adding that the chance of the
PA winning an election against the UNP was extremely
slim. 

PRESIDENT'S PARTY UNDERSCORES SUPPORT FOR CEASEFIRE
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

5.  (C) As the President did in her nationally televised
speech on November 4 (see Ref B), presidential advisor
Lakshman Kadirgamar told a news conference late November
5 that the ceasefire agreement would be respected and
that the President had no intention of resuming
hostilities.  Kadirgamar further noted that the
President was committed to a political solution and was
ready to negotiate with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE).  The President's office also issued a
press release November 6 assuring the people of Sri
Lanka that there was "no cause for alarm or panic," and
stating that the President was "committed to the
continuity of the ceasefire agreement." 

CHIEF JUSTICE RULES IN FAVOR OF PRESIDENT
----------------------------------------- 

6.  (SBU) In a development favorable to the President,
the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Sarath Silva,
has ruled that executive power relating to defense
issues was vested in the President by the Constitution.
The ruling was made public on November 5.  President
Kumaratunga had asked for the determination several
weeks ago in response to amendments made to military
regulations by then-Minister of Defense Marapana, who
was removed from office by the President on November 4.
As previously reported, an impeachment motion citing
alleged abuse of power charges was entered by UNP MPs
against Chief Justice Silva on November 4.  Silva is
widely seen as a crony of the President's by the UNP and
neutral observers, but it is unclear whether the charges
have any merit.  Because of Parliament's suspension, no
further action has been taken on the impeachment matter
as of yet. 

TAMILS WORRIED; TIGERS QUIET
---------------------------- 

7.  (C) Reaction among Tamils has been one of deep
concern, particularly in light of the President's
declaration of a state of emergency on November 5.
Joseph Pararajasingham, a TNA MP for the eastern town of
Batticaloa, told poloff on November 6 that the state of
emergency had caused "fear and uncertainty" in the Tamil
community.  Pararajasingham added that the President's
moves had caused a feeling among Tamils that the peace
process was in real jeopardy.  Gajen Ponnambalam,
another TNA MP, said there was a general skepticism
among the LTTE regarding the President's actions, adding
that Tamils were very concerned over the current
situation.  As of yet, there has been no further
reaction from the Tigers beyond the group's vague
expression of "concern" on November 4. 

ECONOMIC UPDATE
--------------- 

8.  (SBU) Despite recent losses (see Ref B), Sri Lanka's
stock market closed marginally up on November 6, though
the frenzied trading pace of November 5 was not evident.
Business groups continued to call for the various
parties to the dispute to work together and not further
damage the country's international reputation.
Presidential Secretariat Director General Mano
Tittawella advised the private sector to view the
President's moves "in their proper context" and noted
they were not undertaken to "promote chaos or anarchy."
The Sri Lankan rupee depreciated further against the
dollar.  Citibank CEO Kapila Jayawardene told Econ FSN
that he expected the next three weeks to be turbulent,
and that banks were currently not quoting exchange
prices given the volatility in the market. 

IMPACT ON THE PRESS
------------------- 

9.  (C) These developments have already affected Sri-
Lanka's government-owned media houses, where new, pro-PA
leadership has been hastily installed (see Ref B.)  What
impact these new players will have on the government-
owned media remains to be seen.  However, some observers
have already noted changes -- perhaps coincidental,
probably not -- in the above-the-fold front page of the
government-controlled Lake House's flagship daily, the
English-language DAILY NEWS: 

-- 11/5:  a headshot of the PM and headlines that call
the President's actions "a deliberate and opportunistic
act" and quote the PM as saying:  "I will ensure
people's mandate is implemented." 

-- 11/6:  (the first day of the new PA-installed
publishing leadership):  "Ceasefire agreement will stand
- Kadirgamar" and "President supreme in Lanka's defence
- Supreme Court." 

10.  (C) Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's independent media houses
have assumed an unruffled wait-and-see mode.  Senior
editors at the Upali Group (which publishes independent
dailies and weekenders in English and Sinhala) are
crusty survivors who tell us that they've "seen it all
before."  And the owner of the Wijeya Group (which, like
Upali, publishes independent dailies and weekenders in
English and Sinhala) said that he had not been
particularly comfortable under the UNP government and
anticipated "nothing unusual" now.  On a more pragmatic
level, contacts at both Upali and Wijeya predicted that
the President's move would simultaneously increase
readership (by piquing interest in the story) and lead
to a further loss of credibility for the Lake House
Press. 

SITUATION IN COLOMBO CALM
------------------------- 

11.  (C) The situation in Colombo remains quiet, with
people moving about the city as usual.  Adding to the
calm atmosphere, the Norwegian Ambassador told Charge'
that he had received assurances from the chiefs of the
Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Air Force that they would
continue to abide by the rulings of the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission.  SLMM spokesperson Agnes Bragadottir
characterized SLMM operations island-wide to poloff as
"business as usual." 

12.  (U) Minimize considered. 

ENTWISTLE
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    “Crusty Survivors” :) :) :)

  • 0
    0

    Number one racist editors in the world are Upali Group people. They are responsible for this war. And Their Upali group was selling arms to GOSL. That’s why the management has employed these racist editors.

  • 0
    0

    These Rajthith Wijewardena and Upali Wijewardena cousins had/have no policy at all. They are for business and making money, like vultures . see what he said about CBKs dishonesty, he want only selling his daily lying news papers.

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