Minister dismisses CBK’s criticism as her political opinion
By Nilika Kasturisinghe
Interior Minister John Amaratunga has brushed aside President Chandrika
Kumaratunga's order that action be taken against UNP parliamentarians
who were allegedly involved in violent acts. Minister Amaratunga
told The Sunday Times that it was based on the President's political
In a letter
to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week the President called
for immediate action against the parliamentarians. The President's
missive has particularly criticised the inactivity of Minister Amaratunga
and his Ministry.
letter was addressed to the Prime Minister any questions concerning
it should be posed to the Prime Minister", Mr. Amaratunga said.
Commenting on the recent violence involving parliamentarians Mr.
Amaratunga said "every case is before the eye of the law. Regarding
disciplinary inquiries against the police officers on duty at the
time the storming of the Seeduwa Police Station by Gampaha MP Olitha
Premathiratne allegedly took place, that is one side of the story.
Now it is under investigation and has been referred to the Attorney
General for clarification."
incidents of violence allegedly indulged in by government parliamentarians,
their supporters and a Pradeshiya Sabha member include incidents
in Nuwara Eliya, Kahawatta, Galgamuwa, Wennappuwa and Puttalam.
In her letter
of April 30 the President has warned that she will be obliged to
intervene to contain the increasing trend of unjust and uncalled
for political pressure being exerted on the police, taking into
consideration the appeals made by the public.
has emphasized in her letter that against such a background the
attempt by the Minister in charge of the Police to bring in a Bill
on Organised Crime is a move to prepare the ground for a police
state. "Neither the Minister nor the Ministry has taken any
steps to contain these incidents," the President has stated.
She has instructed
the Prime Minister to focus on this problem immediately and provide
a report to her within two weeks stating what steps will be taken
to restore the police service to its due state.
The IGP considering
commencement of an investigation against the police officers who
were apparently discharging their duty when a parliamentarian allegedly
stormed the Seeduwa Police Station last month to secure the release
of a suspect, shows that discipline in the Police Department is
in a poor state.
the plight of the public appears to be grave with both the government
and the law enforcement officers ignoring the violence rampant in
society. With the crime rate at an all time high and the murder
statistics registering an average of three per day, The Sunday Times
contacted several senior officials of the Police department to no
registered on a daily basis throughout the country appears to be
remarkably high. OIC Statistics Division of the Police Department,
IP Prematilleke said this year's statistics for the first quarter
are still not available adding that the figure would probably not
exceed 400 for this period.
He said 1347
homicides had been registered in 2002, an average of over three
per day. In 2001 there had been 1576 homicides recorded with 304
recorded during the first three months of the year. In 2000, 362
homicides had been recorded during the first three months.
the Police Commission appointed with a view to improving the prevalent
conditions does not appear to have made its mark yet. The office
located at the BMICH is in the process of recruiting staffers.
sales dip as stocks dwindle
By Chandani Kirinde
The CWE is facing a shortage of many essential items including lentils,
potatoes and onions in all its retail shops countrywide with its
income plummeting during the past few weeks as a result.
The daily sales
in the CWE outlets that were around Rs. 30 million have plummeted
to around Rs. 10 million as a result of these shortages, The Sunday
Many customers at CWE retail shops in the big cities have complained
that items such as milk powder, soap and canned fish were also missing
from the shelves.
one of the CWE's biggest stores complex has informed the authorities
concerned that there were no stocks of at least 20 items including
lentils, red chillies, big onions, potatoes, Basmati rice, garlic,
pepper, canned fish and tamarind.
Some of the
retail shops in the outstations have also reported a shortage of
sugar but as there are inadequate stocks in the stores, these items
cannot be sent to the shops, reliable sources told The Sunday Times.
CWE Chairman Lal Wickrematunga told The Sunday Times that one reason
for the shortage of some of the items was the recent holiday season.
He said that shortages would ease within two or three days adding
that onions and potatoes had already been made available to the
shops. The CWE has around 150 shops across the country, which are
now open 24 hours a day.
aid for R&R in N-E
The Asian Development Bank is to provide a loan of US $ 40 million
as a contribution to the government's relief and rehabilitation
programme in the North and East.
The project is to be implemented in two components - large scale
anchor sub projects and small scale community level projects.
sub project is said to benefit a broad section of people in a district
while the community level projects are investment for individuals
or for local organizations/communities as implementing partners.
Farmers meet in uncleared area
The National Farmers Alliance held its fourth annual conference
in LTTE controlled Kokkadicholai last week despite uncertainty in
peace talks between the Government and the LTTE.
comprising of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim farmers held the conference
last Sunday. The meeting was held at Ramakrishna Mission College
with the participation of 60 regional leaders in farming. The leaders
of the Alliance including its Muslim leaders and the LTTE leadership
of Batticaloa participated.
to the UNP, the National Farmers Alliance (NFA) is now acting independently
following the government's move to slash the fertilizer subsidy.
Participants at the summit commemorated the deaths of farmers who
had committed suicide due to unbearable losses in farming. A fortnight
ago D.M. Samarakoon Banda, a farmer at Dehiattakandiya having sustained
heavy losses during the Maha season committed suicide on New Year's
to the National Farmers Alliance and President of the Association
to protect the Eppawela phosphate sites, Ven. Mahamankadawala Piyaratana
Nayake Thera delivered a special sermon.
of books and pens to school children in Kokkadicholai took place
while 700 farmer families were issued with jak, coconut and arecanut
Alliance President Ratna Gamage told The Sunday Times that irrespective
of ethnicity we came together to solve the problems common to farmers."
The LTTE's Batticaloa-Ampara leader Karunamman co-ordinated with
the NFA representatives to organize the summit which was held in
LTTE controlled areas.
against Vedda youth: AG upholds Vedda culture
By Palitha Ariyawansha from Badulla,
Upholding the Vedda traditions, the Attorney General has withdrawn
an indictment on a Vedda youth accused of having raped an underage
Vedda girl on grounds of "customary marriage".
The case had
been filed by the Attorney General against Uruwarige Loku Banda
(20) for having raped a Vedda girl aged 15 between April 5, 1999
and August 30, 1999 in Dambana, Mahiyanga.
claimed that he was married to the girl, and according to the Vedda
tradition marriages were not registered and that a Vedda lad was
allowed to take as his mate a Vedda girl. The accused was released
taking into consideration these traditions. The Uva Province High
Court this week ordered the release of the youth following the withdrawal
of the indictment.
Uva High Court
Judge W.A.T. Ratnayake ordered that the Vedda youth be released
after State Counsel Harshana Nanayakara told court that the Attorney
General had consented to withdraw the indictment.
Pradeepa Jayasinghe and Saman Perera argued that when similar cases
were taken up, the Vedda culture had been pointed out. The lawyers
also showed that this right of taking one's partner was practised
following the engaging in hunting, farming, defence, worshipping
of devils, and obtaining foodstuffs from the forests. On Thursday
a group of Veddas comprising Vedda Chief Wannila Aththo, and Gunawardena
of Dambana were present in courts.
releasing of the suspect, the Vedda Chief told the media that he
appreciated the decision taken by the Attorney General at a time
when legal obstructions were hampering the traditional life styles
of his people.
day deadline for SLFP-JVP Pact
Somawansa criticises President’s peace attitude
By Harinda Vidanage
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has instructed the
SLFP delegation preparing the JVP-SLFP MoU to finalise the agreement
by May 15 so that its draft can be presented at the SLFP general
convention to be held on May 25 in Colombo.
by the JVP that the SLFP delegation was showing a lacklustre attitude
towards the agreement President Kumaratunga took a firm decision
when both parties met last Wednesday.
has told the delegation to finalise the symbol and the name to be
adopted by the alliance. A marathon four rounds of talks are expected
to commence on Wednesday.
were expecting to end the round on policy agreement by the end of
April but according to Nimal Siripala de Silva, a member of the
SLFP delegation, the talks were delayed due to the withdrawal of
the LTTE from the peace talks.
within the JVP said that the party was not happy at the progress
blaming the SLFP delegation for being inefficient. The JVP in particular
had said that the inefficiency of SLFP General Secretary and the
constant delays made due to overseas visits of Nimal Siripala de
Silva has contributed to the lethargic proceedings.
The JVP's frustration
over the delay was evident in JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe's
May Day message which was read at the rally by a party member. He
had criticised the President's attitude and approach to the ongoing
peace process though supporting her on any action she will take
to prevent the separation of the state.
He had also
indicated that the President has accepted, in her recent visit to
India, the fact that she is aware of a de facto Tamil Eelam being
formed with the progress of the peace process but that she insists
she supports the peace process. This according to Somawansa is a
very contradictory stance by the President of the country.
The JVP leader
had also said that the President is the only person who has constitutional
powers to prevent the division of the country but up to now she
has used her powers verbally and has not taken any clear action.
He had warned
and reminded the President she no longer has executive power over
the North and East and said that if she does not take timely action
she will lose it altogether. He had also warned the President to
be straightforward and not to heed or bow to anyone, even the international
The JVP has
already handed over a five-year work plan which includes governance
matters, after the formation of the alliance between the two parties
and in the event of a possible takeover of the government.
The SLFP is
likely to replace the current negotiation team after the end of
first round of discussions which is to form a policy consensus between
the parties, with only Maithripala Sirisena being included in the
new team as he is the SLFP General Secretary.
The new negotiation
team which will discuss with the JVP a work plan or plan of action
in the event of a takeover will be headed by President Chandrika
Kumaratunga, Maithripala Sirisena, Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike
and Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapakse.
squabble has been finally settled and both are looking for top posts
in the possible formation of a new government, a source close to
the former Speaker told The Sunday Times.
SLFP has appointed three main committees to scrutinize the five
year plan of the JVP and bring it on par with SLFP policies. They
are the economic committee, the security committee and the administrative
committee is headed by P.B. Jayasundara who is likely to become
the next Presidential secretary. This committee is facing a Herculean
task as the JVP plan encompasses a wide range of subsidies including
the fertilizer and Samurdhi subsidies. The JVP plan also includes
the immediate implementation of the wage reforms proposed by the
Tissa Devendra wage commission and the cut down on ministerial perks
and privileges especially in use of vehicles.
committee is headed by a former CID Chief who retired with the election
of the new UNP government and would include former military top
brass. The administrative committee is in the process of planning
out the new administrative appointments after the possible take
over of the government.
This has been
an area where the JVP has stressed that retaining of political enemies
within the permanent administrative structure will be a problem
to the new alliance government.