9th July 2000
Business| Sports| Sports Plus|
By Chris Kamalendran
The crisis ridden powerful trade union CWC is heading towards a possible break up with divisions surfacing in Parliament during the emergency debate.
On Thursday, during the emergency debate the two groups had a heated argument over time allocation.
The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) which holds the key by determining the power balance in the upcountry for both the ruling PA and the main opposition UNP was also showing strong signs that the two factions will remain divided at the forthcoming general elections.
The CWC now led by Arumugam Thondaman (36) was engaged in running battles over the past few weeks with clashes being reported in the upcountry between two factions.
Thondaman Jnr. after his grandfather Saumiamoorthy Thondaman's death in November last year, was accepted as leader by the senior members during the initial stages.
Within a month troubles started brewing with strong divisions in the group backed by Thondaman Jnr. who was named as the Livestock Development and Estate Infrastructure Development Minister.
The main allegations around the Thondaman Jnr. group centres around financial irregularities and extravagant expenditure, but the group backing Arumugam Thondaman strongly denied the claims.
"This is not a problem about financial mismanagement, but a problem of one section trying to gain the leadership," says Mr. Sivalingam who is backing the Thondaman camp.
The 'rebel group' of the CWC led by P.P. Devaraj who has been spearheading the campaign against the junior believes that the senior members of the party have not been given their rightful place.
The group consists of five Vice-Presidents of the CWC which has allegedly not been consulted for major party decisions and other campaigns in the hill country.
"This is not a power crisis. Our group does not want the leadership of the party. There is definitely a series of financial irregularities and corruption. The CWC accounts have not been submitted to members since 1994," Nuwara Eliya District MP S. Sathasivam said.
According to their estimates the CWC has a monthly income of Rs. 3.3 million from membership fees, he claimed.
For the past six months the CWC has not held a group meeting making it difficult for party members to bring up their problems.
The internal clashes were already evident in the upcountry with CWC members backing the two divisions openly attacking each other leaving the ordinary party workers in disarray.
Reports from the upcountry said that the infighting has seriously affected the organisation with some of the members already joining other parties or leaving the group.
The CWC with a history of divisions was apparently heading for another breakup with the internal clashes.
The pro-Thondaman and the rival group have dismissed claims of the party breaking up, but senior party members believe that the split would be inevitable.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga's support had been sought by the 'rebel group' to avoid a split and as a result the President had met both groups, but neither side has agreed on a settlement.
The crisis within the party was becoming more prominent with the Parliamentary elections coming up and it is likely that the 'rebel group' may not get nominations at the next elections on the CWC ticket. Mr. Sellasamay apparently backing the group led by Mr. Devaraj said his opinion was that the 'rebel' group should be handed over powers to run the party as they were senior members in politics.
"All these problems have started after the senior members began inquiring about the financial position of the organisation. Why can't the leadership clear doubts about the accounts," he said.
Attempts in May by Thondaman Jnr. to patch up differences with Sellasamy by offering him the post of General Secretary and ousting the other senior members had also failed.
Sellasamy believes the serious differences could lead to the breaking up a key organisation which has been looking after the interests of poor plantation estate workers.
The volatile situation in the upcountry was also leading to other complications with the youth turning away from the CWC enabling other groups interested in creating a base in the upcountry to capitalise.
Meanwhile, Mr. Thondaman has reportedly invited the rebel group to come
and check the accounts, but the 'rebel group' say they do not want to accept
The compensation has been approved by the cabinet and be paid shortly. Each of the Gooneratne children would receive Rs. 1,545,000 as compensation from the state.
The Minister and his wife were killed along with more than 20 others when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked a war- heroes' day procession near Soysapura. Upto now the compensation paid to families of civilian victims has been a maximum of Rs. 150,000.
While one of them volunteered to settle Sarath Upali's outstanding loan of Rs. 10,980, others wanted to help him in any way possible.
Mr. Upali who had taken a loan of Rs. 15,000 from the Nawala Rural Bank had been taken to courts by the bank, which was demanding full repayment with interest though he has been crippled after being hit in a terrorist bomb blast five years ago.
By Ayesha R. RafiqThe increasing number of parents who leave the country for foreign jobs, leaving behind children in the guardianship of relatives, is directly linked to the rise in child abuse cases in Sri Lanka, National Child Protection Authority Chairman Harendra de Silva said.
He said it was a disturbing trend that in a significant number of child abuse cases either one or both parents were abroad.
He attributed the trend to factors such as the male guardian in the family taking advantage of the children's vulnerability and economic conditions which compelled men and children to sleep in one room, leaving room for temptation.
Describing the cases reported to the authority as a tip of the iceberg, Prof. de Silva said a large number of cases went unreported.
He said that due to increased awareness the number of cases of child abuse by foreign paedophiles was dropping. He said an increasing number of cases against foreign paedophiles had sent a warning signal to touts, paedophiles and foreign tour operators and they were now turning their attention to other countries such as Burma.
Meanwhile, a suspect was produced before the Negombo Magistrate on charges of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl.
The girl, who is now pregnant, was allegedly raped by her grandmother's lover, a man much younger to her. Both her parents were working in West Asia and the girl had been entrusted to her grandmother.
The money, handed over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sri Lanka for activities this year, would address domestic needs, household support, water and sanitation facilities, health and nutrition, the Netherlands Embassy said in a statement.
It said the Netherlands' involvement was to provide protectionfor the internally displaced and to take measures such as relocation and resettlement.
UNHCR implements its programmes in the Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Vavuniya districts.
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