The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

15th September 1996



ARA condemns church attack

Condemning the attack on a Negombo Church recently as "degrading and disgraceful" the All Religions Solidarity Alliance yesterday called on the government to stop just talking about justice and take action against all who were responsible for those ugly incidents.

In a strongly worded statement, the Religious Alliance said it had carried out its own investigations on the attack in and around St. Mary's Church Negombo on August 30 and 31 during a prayer service to celebrate the golden jubilee of the UNP. The Alliance said the killer squads had disregarded all norms of decent behavior when they attacked priests, nuns and lay people in the church. It demanded that the government should act fast to bring to justice not only those who had carried out the attack but also those who were behind it.

Analyzing the current situation in the aftermath of the Negombo attack, the Religious Alliance said the people in 1994 had elected the PA to office with the hope that the reign of terror would be ended, but the PA appeared to be doing little, besides talking to fulfill those hopes and most law-abiding people were thoroughly and bitterly disappointed with what was happening. The Religious Alliance called on all people who love Sri Lanka to think seriously about the need to have an alternative third political force in our country, as the two main political parties appear to have failed miserably to fulfill national aspirations. The third force must comprise men and women who will put national interest above party or personal interest and come forward to give something to the country rather than to get something.

Div. Sec's decision not final, says court

The Kuliyapitiya Additional District Judge Mohamad Laffar Thahir observed recently that the final decision of a Divisional Secretary, under Section 15 (II) of the Electricity Act, was not conclusive as it was ultra vires and therefore could be questioned by the court.

The plaintiff, Ranjith Lakshman Attanayake of Yakwila, Werahera, in his plaint prayed for an injunction order on the Pannala Divisional Secretary, the Ceylon Electricity Bord (CEB) and Sansu Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., a Korean company exporting albums and stationery.

He alleged the defendants were unlawfully purporting to lay a high tension power line over his land for the benefit of the Korean factory, when an electricity line already existed along the Yakwila-Makandura main road.

It was further alleged that the Korean company had been located and put up contrary to the law.

The Divisional Secretary and the officials of the CEB in their defense contended as they had acted in terms of the Electricity Act No. 19 of 1950 (as amended) and according to Section 22 of the Interpretation Ordinance, the decision of the DS. in this regard was final and therefore could not be called into question.

The Additional District Judge in rejecting the question of the courts jurisdiction, observed the decision concerned could not be considered as 'final' for it was ultra vires the Electricity Act and was in breach of the natural justice principle of audi alteram partem (hear the other side).

The court entered an interim injunction in favor of the plaintiff until the case was heard and disposed of.

Attorney-at-law, M.I.M. Abdulla appeared for the plaintiff while Sumathi Dharmawardene instructed by Mrs. Chinthamani Balalle and Miss Mallika Willaddara instructed by H.S.A. Perera represented the Divisional Secretary and the CEB officials respectively. Attorney Jayasena Rajakaruna watched the interests of Sansu Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.

Draft delay prolongs surveyors' strike

Delays in drafting a circular to end the surveyor's strike are taking the strike to its third month, Government Surveyors Association (GSA) members say.

GSA Secretary E.M.D.B. Ekanayake said a committee comprising the Surveyor General, M.P. Salgado, Secretary to the Ministry of Lands, D.M. Ariyaratne, President of the GSA, R.M. Chandrapala, Additional Secretary of the GSA C. Shanmugalingam and himself decided on Monday to draft a circular to end the strike.

The GSA says that at a meeting with President Chandrika Kumaratunga recently, it was agreed in principle to retain the old field structure, which was association's main demand.

Call for allowance

Batticaloa District MP Joseph Pararajasingham has written to Public Administration Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake seeking an incentive allowance for public servants and corporation employees in the liberated areas of the North and East.

Ex-service officers offer helping hand

The newly formed Sri Lanka Ex-Service Officers Association aims to harness the goodwill, varied expertise and contacts available among ex-service officers, to make a positive contribution to the efforts of the services.

The Association plans to contribute the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled servicemen and provide technical expertise and support when requested by the services.

The Association also hopes to train disabled soldiers to make a useful contribution to the services or place them in civilian establishments where they would be gainfully employed and earn a livelihood with respect and dignity.

JR at 90: no party without my wife

By Roshan Peiris

Sri Lanka's first Executive President and one of South Asia's elder statesmen J.R. Jayewardene celebrates his 90th birthday on Tuesday.

His eyes misted as he said, "I am not having any kind of celebration nor am I inviting anybody. My wife is injured and in hospital after a fall in the garden, laid up with a hip injury. She will be back by my birthday but sadly she will be seated probably in a wheel chair.

"Yes there will not be the usual sing song sessions. What sing song when my wife after sixty one years of marriage is unwell? It is a long time we have been married, for sixty one years and my son Ravi is now sixty. During these long years we have been very close. As husband and wife we have lived together and worked together.

"My study of Buddhism-lobha, dhosa, moha - I have studied carefully and this has sustained me through my long life.

What are your golden memories? I asked.

"I have many that keep coming and going. Of them the most outstanding is when I entered the country's legislature in the 1940s and of course my wedding day and the birth of my son."

Following are excerpts from the interview with The Sunday Times.

Q: You are I believe the oldest living politician in the UNP. Now in retrospect how do you assess the UNP?

A: My view is that the UNP has done well as circumstances permitted. All human endeavours are like that. There has been both victory and defeat. It is all a part of the democratic process to which the UNP is dedicated.

Q: Did not the 1956 elections when the UNP was routed disconcert you?

A: It was not a major calamity. To me it was just like tossing a coin. You throw it, you do not know how it will fall. This is all part of the democratic system and for our part we fared quite well even in the Opposition.

Q: You have held the important posts of Finance Minister and President during the 31 years the UNP has been in office. How do you assess the country's economic progress under the UNP?

A: We have to assess it in conjunction with how the people voted. The people seem to be satisfied. If we consider the voting trend my position is that no other Party given the circumstances could have done better than the UNP. Do you think anyone else would have done better? Also, remember that the Party and its leader can only show the way, the country must follow. Progress or decline depends on that. A lot depends on the country's capacity also.

Q: Don't you feel in retrospect that after Dudley Senanayake's death, the green revolution he began should have been continued?

A: Actually the green revolution in a sense is only two words. Whatever came under those words was never discontinued. It was continued not only under the UNP but by other Parties also. It meant giving emphasis to agriculture.

Q: You have been Sri Lanka's first Executive President. What is your assessment of the role of the Executive President after fifty years of active political life?

A: Whatever has been said, my belief is that the Executive Presidential system is useful and practical to secure political stability during the Government's term in office. Before 1978 there had been several General Elections at short intervals. This leads to instability and no country can then plan out proper policies, specially economic.

Q: But don't you agree that it is too powerful, making one person all powerful and almost above the law?

A: That can apply to any system. Say if the government has a large majority in Parliament it can do anything. The President is not above the law. Parliament can indict him or her as it was attempted in Mr. Premadasa's time. Remember it is Parliament that is supreme. The President is responsible to Parliament. That is how I see it.

Q: Could not there be abuse of power?

A: Any system can lead to abuse. Even a large Parliamentary majority can lead to abuse of power.

Q: Would you agree that some of the UNP policies, while it was in office did contribute to the instigation and manifestation of violence in the body politics?

A: There was violence but the UNP did not willingly indulge in violence. I have no time to elaborate on your question. I also want to wait until the report of the Batalanda Commission is out. Batalanda is a part of my former electorate Kelaniya. Some might try to insinuate that I knew something. With so many jabbering fools about the place, one never knows what accusations will be made. I feel though that such people are frightened to mention my name, because I will go to Courts. I have nothing to hide. I have gone to Courts before and those people have been forced to apologize to me before the case. So far I think that is why my name has not been brought up. I am never afraid to sue for libel.

My opinion is that in a democratic government we should not have violence. But during my time too there was violence, so much so that I had to postpone a trip to Britain. I had to suppress the violence. That is a long story. One needs a strong government in cases like that or else how can we run a country?

Q: Would you agree that some of the UNP policies did contribute to the aggravation of the ethnic problem?

A: Allegations such as this are rubbish. We never practiced discrimination of any sort.

Q: What do you think about journalists?

A: I have been happy with them. A journalist is also a human being doing his or her work. They ask questions not for their benefit or the one questioned but to sell their paper. I usually have nothing to hide from them and if I cannot speak on a subject I just won't. I don't get angry. But in the recent past, I wanted to sue a journalist.

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - Saddam: wanted dead or alive

Return to the News/Comment contents page

Go to the News/Comment Archive


Home Page Front Page OP/ED Plus Sports

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to or to