Counting the costs after the polls
By Faraza Farook
State institutions which released vehicles for election work on the instructions
of politicians have begun the task of assessing the damage caused to them
and tracing lost vehicles.
Damage caused to vehicles released for election work is now being assessed
by the institutions concerned, with some having already been sent for repairs
while some others have still to be returned or traced.
The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation which released 32 vehicles for election
work, got back six of them in a damaged condition while two others had
been detained by the Police and two more had been reported missing.
CPC Chairman Daham Wimalasena said two vehicles had been detained by
the Teldeniya Police, the damaged vehicles were being repaired while the
two missing vehicles were being looked for.
The vehicles released by the CPC are said to be 13 Land Rover Defender
vehicles, ten double cabs, three vans, two jeeps, two Mercedes Benz cars
and two Tata cars.
The Education Ministry had also released vehicles of which a few had
still to be returned. Additional Secretary Mrs. Hema Jayaweera said the
Police have been informed to recover vehicles that have not been returned.
She also said Police Headquarters will be informed of the missing vehicles.
Secretary of the Fisheries Ministry S. Amarasekera said the release of
vehicles for election work had been reported to the relevant authorities.
He said the vehicles were taken by the Minister's personal staff and
he had no authority to stop them. Mr. Amarasekera denied being aware that
these vehicles were being misused except in one case, which was reported
to the Elections Commissioner.
Though there were reports of misuse of Health Ministry vehicles, Senior
Assistant Secretary Mrs. Seetha Vithanarachchi said vehicles were released
only for 'Suwa Udana' programmes and they were returned promptly.
Damaged vehicles were found in many police stations with no one coming
to claim them.
Two vehicles in the custody of the Wattegama police had no claimants
while two other vehicles were seized from the premises of a prominent politician
in the district.
The Institute of Human Rights (IHR) which investigated the misuse of
public property said in its final report that vehicles belonging to state
institutions were the most misused of the public resources.
The IHR had received information relating to 433 state vehicles used
by the PA for election activities. Though information was available only
in respect of 433 vehicles the number was much higher, the IHR reported.
The key institutions named by the IHR whose vehicles had been misused
were the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Lotteries Board, Police, Agriculture
Department, SLPA, CWE, Samurdhi, Mahaweli Authority and the Ministries
of Co-operative Development, Labour, Health, Education, Post, Youth Affairs,
Justice, Finance, Irrigation, Fisheries and Transport.
The IHR said the misuse of vehicles brought to the notice of the IGP
had been to no avail. The report said a large number of vehicles had been
seen without number plates while some carried false number plates and still
others had garage numbers.
It also pointed out that the State emblem on some vehicles had been
covered by posters. The IHR said false entries had been made in releasing
some of the vehicles.
The IHR reported that 16 vehicles belonging to the Mahaweli Authority
had carried persons with weapons intimidating political opponents in the
The name of the game: foul says PA, walkover says
By Chris Kamalendran
The stadium in Moratuwa was plunged into a major battle yesterday — not
over a cricket match but over a political match amidst charges of coups
and crossover politics.
The Moratuwa Municipal council at a controversial meeting on Friday
to a quickfire decision to rename the De Soysa Stadium as Tyronne Fernando
Stadium — but PA members who still form a majority in the council said
some one had played foul.
The name game began when Municipal Councillor Anthony Fernando who recently
crossed over to the UNP from the PA moved a resolution to change the name
of 'De Soysa Stadium to Tyronne Fernando Stadium after the new foreign
But PA member Milton de Mel told The Sunday Times last night the opposition
members had suddenly moved this resolution which were not included in the
He said 11 UNP members and two PA members including Moratuwa's Mayor
Ananda Kusumsiri who has pledged his support to the UNP were present when
the resolution was passed, but none of the PA members was there.
The composition of the council is 15 PA members, two MEP members and
one JVP member on the ruling side while the UNP has 11 members. However
with the two members including the mayor supporting the UNP, the opposition
strength has gone up to 13.
Mr. De Mel said the PA still had a majority in the council and would
complain to the Municipal Commissioner and Local Government Commissioner
about the sudden passing of the resolution. He said they also planned to
take legal action.
But, Municipal Commissioner A.J. Karunaratne rejected Mr. de Mel's claim,
saying it was the fault of the PA members that the resolution was passed
in their absence.
He said there was no need to list the item on the agenda as there was
provision allowing members to move a resolution with the consent of the
Mr. Karunaratne, however, said he would also be seeking the Local Government
commissioner's advice on the matter.
The stadium built in mid-1980's in the precincts of the De Soysa park
was re-named as Tyronne Fernando stadium, after current Foreign Minister
who held the post of President of the Board of Control of Cricket in Sri
Lanka (BCCSL). But in 1997 the name was re-named as De Soysa Stadium.
Mr. Fernando was responsible for upgrading the stadium as an international
venue for cricket matches.
Tax to enter Colombo city
By M. Ismeth
About 250,000 vehicles enter Colombo city daily and the Municipal Council
is drawing up plans to raise Rs. 150 million annually by levying a road
tax on all those vehicles, Mayor Omar Kamil said.
Presenting his budget, he said the money raised from the road tax could
be used to build multi-storeyed vehicle parks thus easing parking problems
and traffic congestion.
Vehicle owners say they pay licence and insurance fees, but the CMC
says it gets nothing from that for maintenance and repair of roads.
Misuse of public property not corruption, says Bribery
Reports of misuse of public property during the recently concluded Parliamentary
elections compiled by an organisation committed to protecting public resources,
which had been sent to the Bribery Commission to investigate have been
The Programme for the Protection of Public Property of the Institution
of Human Rights (PPP/IHR) said the Commission had refused to investigate
its reports citing that it does not come under corruption. In a letter
to PPP/IHR the Commission had stated, "the material submitted in your reports
do not come within the purview of the Act on Bribery or Corruption".
Project Director for PPP/IHR J.C. Weliamuna rejected the Commission's
claim and said the matter will be taken to courts.
"The Act clearly defines what corruption is and if the abuse of public
property does not amount to corruption, then what is corruption?" he asked.
The PPP/IHR called for independent investigations into all allegations
in its reports.