Hospitals put on anthrax alert
By Tania Fernando
Amidst an international scare over anthrax and biological warfare linked
to the war on terrorism, hospitals in Sri Lanka have been given guidelines
on how to diagnose, treat or control any suspected cases here.
Dr. S D Athukorala who coordinates a Health Ministry task force on this
crisis said two main types of anthrax, infecting people through the skin
or the nose, could be treated with anti-biotics and nasal spray.
He said hospital authorities were warned that anyone treating anthrax
cases should wear masks.
"If you receive a suspicious envelope you should hold it against the
light and try to identify what is in it and in the event of spillage you
should bag it in another and re-bag it and seal it. If you spill it on
yourself then you should have a shower and bag the clothes till you get
a confirmation. In the event of a confirmation, then the clothes should
be destroyed. If you open the envelope you should not sniff it with gusto.
The danger lies in sniffing it and inhaling it," Dr. Athukorala said.
The hospital alert came after reports that the US embassy and the Australian
High Commission in Colombo had received envelopes containing suspicious
material. These were sent to the Medical Research Institute here and though
the tests were negative, the samples were sent to the US and Australia
for further testing.
US embassy media spokesman Stephen Holgate said they were taking all
precautions but added he could not give more details as it was a security
An official of the Australian High Commission said they too had taken
precautions but business was going on as usual. A British High Commission
official said they too had taken precautions but gave no details.
Presidential type campaign by PA
By Shelani de Silva
The People's Alliance will follow a Presidential type campaign banking
on votes for President Chandrika Kumarataunga and the party.
Colombo District organiser Kingsley Wickramaratne told The Sunday Times
the President had directed party organisers to campaign for the party symbol
and its leadership instead of the individual candidates.
Mr. Wickramaratne said the campaign for this election would be to vote
for the PA and the president as the leader of the PA.
He said that through this strategy the PA also hoped to play down the
preferential voting process so that there would be less infighting among
candidates and more discipline.
Mr. Wickremaratne said the PA list would have several new and exciting
faces, including Sri Lanka's World Cup winning cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga.
According to other PA sources another new face would be Lohan Ratwatte,
son of the controversial minister. Significantly he is to be fielded in
the stronghold of PA rebel group leader S.B. Dissanayake.
Another major surprise could be former UNP strongman and breakaway group
leader Sirisena Cooray coming on the PA list for the Colombo district.
Protest over poll jobs
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti and M.Ismeth
Several government departments are alleged to be carrying on recruitment
and offering promotions in the run-up to the elections, UNP sources said.
They said recruitment was continuing for the Ceylon Electricity Board,
especially in the Kandy district, the Water Board and other institutions.
They said the Establishment Code prohibited recruitment of employees after
dissolution of Parliament. The UNP has protested to the Commissioner of
Elections and the Ministry of Public Administration against these moves.
Meanwhile, the UNP-led United National Front has decided to appeal to
Samurdhi animators not to get involved in campaign related work for any
party, S. B. Dissanayake, one-time Samurdhi Minister of the PA administration,
Mr. Dissanayake told The Sunday Times a letter signed by him and UNP
leader Ranil Wickremesinghe would be sent to all Samurdhi animators, urging
them not to get involved in political work of any party.
The UNP in the past had accused Samurdhi officers of carrying out political
work for the PA.
The PA dissident also said the government was determined to win the
election by hook or by crook and he believed that as part of the PA plan,
he might even be arrested on false charges or planted evidence.
Tell police if outsiders come
Political party branches and the people have been requested to alert the
police if outside groups come into those areas during the election campaign,
police elections chief Gamini Navaratne said.
DIG Navaratne told The Sunday Times that this plan to prevent 'outsiders'
from creating trouble was one of the key security measures being worked
out by the police for the current polls campaign.
According to election observers, most of the violence and other incidents
during previous polls had been carried out by goon squads or thugs brought
from outside the areas. He said all police stations were being ordered
to take immediate action on polls related complaints and disciplinary steps
would be taken against any officers who failed to do so.
It is likely that about 40,000 police officers would be deployed for
election security work, but DIG Navaratne said no further details could
be given for security reasons.
S.B. claims Rs. 2 b.
Former Minister S.B. Dissanayake yesterday sent four letters of demand
to Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the state run Rupavahini Corporation and
the Lake House claiming Rs. 2000 million as damages for allegedly defaming
Only two early birds
The handing over of nominations for elections 2001 got off to a slow start
yesterday, with only two parties handing over their lists in Colombo and
The Ruhuna Janatha party handed over its nomination list for Colombo
district while the New Left Front headed by Dr.Wickramebahu Karunaratne
handed over its list for Polonnaruwa district.
Nominations will be accepted again from tomorrow till Saturday.
Won't compromise party policy: SU
By Nilika de Silva
Sihala Urumaya leader Tilak Karuna-ratne said his party would go it alone
at the upcoming general election which he said is likely to be disrupted
by the LTTE.
He claimed certain disgruntled politicians in both the PA and the UNP
were tapping on the doors of the Sihala Urumaya but the party would only
take in those who were committed to its ideology.
Mr. Karunaratne said the SU would contest the elections in all districts
on its own and stressed the SU would not join either the PA or the UNP
as their policies were contrary to that of the SU.
Commenting on the UNP-led alliance, Mr. Karunaratne said it was a rainbow
coalition put together by a series of MoUs and therefore it could not be
stable. "Each party can leave the alliance at any time. Once the results
are out, a new game of horse trading will begin all over again," he said.
Mr. Karunaratne said his party saw terrorism and the economic crisis
as the two most important issues, which should be addressed without compromising
the national interest. Besides these two issues, the party would also take
up environmental issues and the privatisation programme on its election
platforms, he said.
Bhoomiputhra says tactics changed
Sinhale Maha Sammatha Bhoomiputhra Party leader Harischandra Wijetunga
said yesterday that inefficiency and bankruptcy on the part of the Chandrika
Kumaratunga administration had compelled them to back the UNP-led alliance.
"We haven't changed our goals, we have only changed our tactics," Dr.
Wijetunga said in an interview with The Sunday Times.
He said people who backed the government had been let down by the PA
administration which had only added more difficulties on the people.
Asked why his party had joined the UNP, which the pro-Sinhala elements
had accused of maintaining relations with the LTTE, Dr. Wijetunga said
"If this allegation is true, this is the very reason why the Bhoomiputhra
party must be in the UNP so that we could rectify the situation."
Listing terrorism and the economic crisis as the main issues facing
the country, Dr. Wijetunga said terrorism should be eliminated.
Canada cracks down on Tamil gangs
In a major crack down on Tamil gangs operating in Canada, law enforcement
authorities there have arrested more than 40 gangsters in a series of major
pre-dawn raids, reports said.
They said that among those arrested were leaders of the VVT and AK Kannan
Around 400 police officers were employed in the headlong raids, conducted
in Toronto, Ottawa and Guelph. The raiding police parties descended on
the houses of the suspected gang members with search warrants.
Tamil sources in Canada said the raids had lifted the veil of fear hung
among the Tamil communities.
Some of the suspects arrested are reportedly involved in various crimes
such as robberies, extortion, drugs and weapon pedalling.
They are to be charged with criminal offences and immigration violations.
The crackdown follows several shooting incidents involving the two gangs.
Two men who are loosely connected with two rival gangs AK Kannan and VVT
had been killed in these incidents.