Kalkudah distillery: Company puts  jobless graduates in high spirits Protests are growing over plans by a private company to set up a distillery at Kalkudah in the Batticaloa district, but this week the company gave what is seen as a double-distilled twist to defend this controversial distillery. It started a campaign to claim that the [...]


Kalkudah distillery: Company puts jobless graduates in high spirits


Kalkudah distillery: Company puts  jobless graduates in high spirits
Protests are growing over plans by a private company to set up a distillery at Kalkudah in the Batticaloa district, but this week the company gave what is seen as a double-distilled twist to defend this controversial distillery.
It started a campaign to claim that the distillery would provide jobs to unemployed graduates who have been protesting over the past month in the eastern province seeking good jobs.
The company made public announcements that as many as 3,500 jobs would be offered and the unemployed graduates would be among them.

The company said that, among the other benefits, the farmers would be able to sell their paddy stocks for a better price. The company was contradicting its own advertisements that it would not use rice for its distillery.
The company has also called in lecturers, doctors and civil society leaders to convince the protesters that the project would be beneficial to the district.


Parliament’s plastic plight: Eco crisis because of fights
As Parliament debated the Meethotamulla garbage issue on Friday, a valuable suggestion was made by Deputy Minister Eran Wickrmaratne. He suggested that MPs should lead by example and stop using plastic bottles of water inside the chamber.

The provision of water in plastic bottles began in parliament a few years ago after violent altercations saw MPs hurling things across the floor of the House at each other.
After this, the glass tumblers placed on each MP’s table were quietly replaced with plastic bottles, apparently because they would cause less damage even if hurled across the floor.
However this has led to a bigger problem ‚Äď the use of more plastic. The disposal of so many plastic bottles has become a big problem not only to Parliament but to the whole country.


Widely expected programme ends on dumb note
The Rupavahini‚Äôs Thursday night ‘Yatharupa‚Äô programme was much looked forward to because it features a contest between rationalists and those who believe in or practise occult, mystical, supernatural, or magical powers.
Last Thursday, the occult practitioner using his skills performed the first act. The stem of a banana leaf was split into two. The two parts were held parallel by two persons at hip level and were brought together within two minutes after the practioner held a talisman under them.

The rationalist making a counter challenge did the same, but offered a scientific explanation to it. He said the stem which contains water, when split, loses its strength and caves in.
In a second instance the occult practitioner got a person to stand holding two spears in both hands. A mythologist claimed that tip of the spearheaded pole held parallel would be brought together and, true to his word, the two heads were brought together.

But, the rationalist took up the challenge again and a female member of the audience held the two spears in her hands and the two heads came close to each other again. The explanation given was that after a few seconds, the muscles in the hands weaken and the hands turn inwards. This is a natural movement. As a result, the object held parallel could come into contact.
But, it was the third performance which the audience were looking forward to. It was to make the rationalist dumb.

However, the mythologist for unknown reasons refused to perform this act.
The programme’s conductor did his best to persuade him to perform this act, but his attempts failed and the programme was brought to an end, to the disappointment of the audience.

Wild scenes at Hakeem’s meeting
There was an unexpected turn at a meeting summoned by Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem at Moosali in Mannar to discuss the latest gazette notification about the declaration of conservation areas around the Wilpattu wildlife reserve.

It was announced that officials from the Presidential Secretariat, the Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Department would also be present to discuss the issue.
All Wanni district MPs and provincial council members too were supposed to be there.
The participants were taken by surprise when they found only Minister Hakeem turned up.

The Wanni district’s All Ceylon Muslim Congress Parliamentarian M.H.M. Nawavi visited the meeting venue and found that none of the officials, MPs or provincial council members was present.
Mr Nawavi said he found that Mr Hakeem was explaining about his party and political issues while ignoring the controversy over the gazette notification.
A heated argument followed and the meeting abruptly ended, with the bodyguards intervening to disperse the agitated crowd.

Where have  all the political youth gone?
With the economy still in bad shape and thousands of graduates unemployed, questions are being asked whether our youth are losing interest in political issues.
The questions arose because of the poor turnout at the memorial lecture held this week in Colombo to mark the death anniversary of the Federal Party’s founder leader S.J.V. Chelvanayakam.
The event attracted only around 50 persons including the organisers.  Some of them were representatives of foreign embassies and some senior citizens from Wellawatta area. There were few or no young people in the audience, except the media personnel and the security staff provided for Opposition leader R. Sampanthan.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne delivered the lecture. He said federalism, a policy late Chelvanayakam advocated as a solution to the ethnic conflict, was equally needed for the South too at this juncture for parallel development in the remote areas because almost all development initiatives were hitherto concentrated in the Western Province.
Dr. Senaratne said he always voiced the concerns of the Tamil people and he was honoured  to carry shrapnel in his body for his political stand that there should be adequate power devolution to the provinces.

Controversy over new defence post offered to Field Marshal Fonseka
A dilemma has risen over reports that Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is to be given additional duties of controlling strikes and trade union activities.  Questions are being raised as to whether these reports had substance or should be taken in the lighter vein?

The questions were raised after comments made by some of his own cabinet colleagues.
The latest came from Labour Minister John Senevirate. He said he had clarified with President Maithripala Sirisena who had told him that he was not serious regarding the offer.
‚ÄúI was not present at the cabinet meeting in which the President reportedly made the offer. But after the reports appeared in the media, I met the President and clarified this. He told me it was a statement he made in lighter vein and he was not serious about it,‚ÄĚ Mr. Seneviratne told a news conference.

The minister, howerver, said some were trying to capitalise on it by trying to attract crowds for the May Day rallies.
Mr. Seneviratne was not the only Minister to say the offer was not serious. Minister S.B. Dissanayake also said he believed that the offer made by the President was not serious.

‚ÄúThe President asked what our response was and we laughed,‚ÄĚ he said.
But, there were others who took a serious note of the proposal. Minister Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa said it was a ‚Äėcabinet decision‚Äô and that a special unit was needed to control those who were trying to destabilse the country.
Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne elaborated on the proposal saying the President was willing to offer the Chief of Defence Staff post to the Field Marshal.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the cabinet has not taken such a decision though serious concerns were expressed over the inconvenience caused to the people through regular wild cat demonstrations or strikes.
Field Marshal Fonseka himself has taken a serious note about the offer saying he was willing to accept responsibility of maintaining essential services in the event of a breakdown. But he says he does not wish to crack down on trade unions.
Whether the proposal would become a reality is closely being watched by trade unions.

Woman minister blasts CM and protesters
The Trincomalee district’s unemployed graduates have been protesting over the past month, demanding jobs.
This week they stormed the Provincial Council office, demanding that Chief Minister Nazeer Ahmed should come out of his office to meet them. But the chief minister refused and instead invited the protesters for a meeting at his office.
The Chief Minister accompanied by the Education Minister and a council member listened to the grievances of the unemployed graduates.
In came Provincial Minister Ariyawathi Galappaththi who is also the council’s chairman.

She was furious as she had not been invited for the meeting and went on to lambast both the Chief Minister and the protesters for keeping her out of the meeting.
She is also alleged to have abused some of the protesters when they left the meeting.
The protesters then turned their ire on Ms. Galappaththi and burned her effigy.

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