The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

27th, October 1996



Center vs CP clash over secretary

By J.A.L. Jayasinghe

A major row is brewing over the appointment of a district secretary to the Central Provincial Council with the government refusing to accept the names put forward by the chief minister of the province.

'The Sunday Times' learns that the UNP-controlled Central Provincial Council Chief Minister W.P.B. Dissanayake, has refused to accept the names proposed by the government for the post leading to difficulties in filling the post.

The chief minister has proposed four names for the post but none has been accepted so far, according to Mr. Dissanayake.

The secretary of the ministry of industries of the province, S. B. Rajapakse, health secretary Ananda Weeraratne, education secretary Palitha Elkaduwa, sports ministry secretary A. V. Weerakoon are the nominees of the chief minister. The post fell vacant early this month.

The chief minister told 'The Sunday Times' that though the President has the power to appoint the chief secretary, the post should be filled with the concurrence of the chief minister.

"It is true that there is controversy surrounding the issue, which has resulted in the delay, as everyone knows. I was asked about the appointment of a particular person, to which I did not agree. All these officers are qualified and experienced, he said.

He said that, when the provincial council system commenced way back in 1988, nobody knew exactly the terms and had no idea about its workings. They had no confidence in this system, specially because of the terror that prevailed at that time. But there are officers who now know the workings of the provincial council set up.

"I wrote to the President recommending four names of experienced officers. She could choose the best from the four taking into consideration, their experience and seniority. All these four officers are in Grade I and possess 8 years' experience.

It is only the President who is vested with the power of nominating a chief secretary. We cannot inconvenience the people due to delay in this appointment," the Chief Minister said.

PA plans stern action against DUNLF

By Kusumsiri Hettige

The PA is contemplating action against its coalition partner - Democratic United National Lalith Front - for putting the government into a difficult position during the recent parliamentary sessions, political sources said last night.

The PA hierarchy has decided that the DUNLF should be given a final warning about recent events in Parliament, among which is their absence at the voting on the Public Enterprises Rehabilitation Bill last Tuesday.

PA leaders are likely to meet this week again to take a final decision on the matter.

PA's General Secretary D. M. Jayaratne has sent two letters to Srimani Athulathmudali, calling on the DUNLF not to act against the concept of collective responsibility of the party or undermine the stability of the government.

The DUNLF also has been exchanging letters with the PA on various issues, the most recent being a protest against the Public Enterprises Rehabilitation Bill. Mr. Jayaratne had replied that they did not have time to make any amendments.

A senior member of the DUNLF said that they were unhappy about the reply and would be responding to it soon.

Meanwhile, possible disciplinary action against Deputy Minister Monty Gopallawa, will be considered by the DUNLF politburo when it meets soon, a party spokesman said.

Last Tuesday Mr. Gopallawa defied a party decision and voted with the government on the controversial Public Enterprises Rehabilitation Bill. The DUNLF had decided to abstain from voting describing the Bill as a disincentive to foreign investors and a violation of open market principles.

Court rejects mayor's appeal

A legal move by Kandy Mayor D. E. Pathirana to prevent Chief Minister W. P. B. Dissanayake from taking action against him, has been rejected by court. Mr. Pathirana had sought an interim injunction to restrain Mr. Dissanayake from implementing a probe commission recommendation that the Mayor be stripped of his office.

The Commission headed by retired judge H. M. S. B. Madawala reported that most of the allegations against Mr. Pathirana had been proved and said action should be taken against him. High Court judge Nissanka Udalagama who heard Mr. Pathirana's plea for an injunction rejected it and said he would consider the petition by Kandy Rate Payers' Association to be made a party in the case against the Mayor.

Thanksgiving for Bradby

A thanksgiving service for former Principal of Royal College E.L. Bradby will be held at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Savior at Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo on Tuesday at 6.30 p.m.

The service organized by the Royal College Union is being held in remembrance of Mr. Bradby who donated the Bradby Shield for the annual Royal-Trinity Rugby encounter. Both old Royalists and Trinitians are expected to take part in the service.

Refugees pour into Vavuniya

BY S.S.Selvanayagam

Thousands of Tamil refugees are arriving in Vavuniya town from the LTTE controlled areas after travel restrictions to Vavuniya were relaxed this week.

According to reports from Vavuniya, civilians are accommodated in transit camps and are brought back to Thandikulam in batches of 15 to 20 persons in buses to be screened.

The government reports claimed that more than 7,200 civilians have already crossed over by Thursday, but sources in Vavuniya said that about 4,300 civilians had been accommodated in three transit camps in Vavuniya. Poonthoddam camp has 1,000 civilians and Veppan Kulam and Nelukulam Kalaimakal Vidyalaya there are 2,000 and 1,000 respectively.

The civilians in the Veppan Kulam are reportedly being taken back to Thandikulam in batches for screening and brought back to a separated premises in the same camp, according to the reports.

The sources in Vavuniya said that the civilians are being provided with food parcels but they are not permitted to leave the camps. They also stated that steps were being taken to issue every inmate with a ration card to the value of Rs 50 per day instead of providing food parcels enabling them to get whatsoever provisions they want.

Meanwhile NSSP Politburo member V.Thirunavukkarasu in a letter to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has stated that there is a very acute shortage of medicine coupled with a total non-availability on anti-rabies vaccine, antivenom serum in the uncleared areas of the Vanni Districts.

The quota of drugs for the third quarter of this year has been reportedly slashed by Colombo authorities to a fourth and this at a time when even the full quota is hardly sufficient given the wide spread prevalence of diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea, dengue, urinary infections, malaria and cerebral malaria. The request made by the Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) to the Medical Board for the approval for the third quarter medical supplies order for Madhu and Mallavi has once again been rejected in Colombo, MSF said.

MSF in its request for approval to the Director General Health Services has stated: "Madhu team is conducting more than 5000 medical consultations and the MSF expatriate is the only doctor in this health unit. Meanwhile our Mallavi team is performing surgery for life threatening cases and caesarean sections. Mallavi is the only health facility providing surgical care in the region."

"The denial to provide medicine and medical supplies to these health units, not only jeopardizes the continuation of our projects in this region but further compromises the already fragile health status of the civilian population in the region," MSF has stated in its request.

Beware of 'tender' traps

By Chamila Jayaweera

The government has begun an awareness campaign, in war-ridden areas in the North and East, warning soldiers against forming liaisons with women from these areas, military sources said.

Officials pointed out that liaisons with LTTE female cadres would not only lead to a breach in security, but might also pave the way for soldiers to get infected with various diseases, including AIDS.

Ronnie back on Wednesday

Former Finance Minister Ronnie de Mel who has been out of the country for nearly six weeks, is due on Wednesday.

There was speculation in political circles, that Mr. de Mel was to join the government party. But in a statement issued from abroad, Mr. de Mel said they were mere speculation and had no truth in them.

His first engagement on returning to the country will be to take part at a meeting of the UNP's executive committee, due to be held on November 2 and 3 in Kalutara.

JVP fights to protect its good image

The Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) has claimed that a rival group is aiming to disrupt its political work and tarnish the party's image by carrying out country-wide campaigns.

The allegations are that in a power struggle a member of the JVP had been killed; the JVP has no leader; and the party had armed terrorist organizations.

JVP Secretary Tilvin Silva told 'The Sunday Times' that all these allegations against the party are baseless and that they have appealed to the Human Rights Organisation on the issue.

" These allegations are aimed at creating disharmony among the JVP. They want the people to get the impression that we are an illegal group involved in subversive activities. However, these allegations will not deter our party. We are a strong political party with a clear program for the future, '' he said.

According to Mr. Silva they have appealed to the Human Rights Organizations. " Other than this we have also started to distribute leaflets to the public asking them not to believe these allegations. This is not the first time that the party has been accused. When our leader Rohana Wijeweera was killed they accused the JVP of doing it'', he said.

Mr. Silva added that people would know to whose party the armed groups belong, specially after the incidents in Negombo and the East. He accused the Tamil parties of having these groups and claimed that it is an open secret.

" The JVP is a group which believes in democracy and we are willing to face every problem democratically,'' he said.

Local films to go into English cinemas

By Kumaradasa Wagista

Quality local films will be screened in cinemas which hitherto exhibited English films, the National Film Corporation (NFC) has decided.

Owners of these theaters have already been informed that each cinema hall in this category should allocate at least 12 weeks screen time a year to show local movies, NFC Acting Chairman Cyril Gunapala said.

NFC has also recommended to the People's Bank to up the loan limit to Rs. 2 million to help film producers to release films which are now queued up.

Producers of 17 films rated for screening in the fifth circuit will be given the option of releasing them outside the fifth circuit comprising 20 cinema halls spread all over the country.

This circuit has a few new and many renovated cinema halls. " Five producers whose films are selected for the fifth circuit have agreed to release their films in this circuit,'' he added.

NFC recently graded 61 of the 94 local films awaiting release. He said that our diplomatic missions are making arrangements to screen at least one local film a month in those countries.

Producers will be encouraged to produce quality films for foreign markets. NFC will guarantee the bank to lend Rs. 2.5 million for such producers.

Former President toppled

The statue of Ex-President Premadasa located at the Hasalake bus stand has been toppled down by some unidentified men around dawn on the 25th. Even the concrete post on which the statue stood has been toppled.

Police said, although some tire pyres were seen burning in this area for the past few days, the situation is now back to normal

Secret route in expressway causes row

By Kshalini Nonis

The controversial Colombo Katunayake expressway project has taken a new turn, with environmentalists alleging that the Road Development Authority (RDA) had secretly changed the course of the original route. While public anger over the project is boilong environ-mentalists have threatened legal action if the RDA goes ahead with the new route, which they say will destroy conservation areas.

Environmental foundation Chief Lalantha de Silva said. "The original route had been in the "Muthurajawela Master Plan." a couple of years ago.

Several NGO'S and environmentalists who had studied the plan agreed that one third of the area be used for filling up and the balance be kept for conservation purposes.

"This master plan was approved by the government and the donor country Japan and all future development should be in accordance with it However, the consulting group of the RDA has now changed the original route. The expressway will now run through the conservation area, destroying part of the sanctuary," said Mr. de Silva.

He also alleged, the route had been changed merely to avoid a certain yard built by national company, long after the "Muthurajawela Master Plan" had been drawn up.

"The whole process is being carried out as secretively as possible. It is useless drawing up these plans if they are not going to be implemented with some force of authority. "We will fight this case and even take it to the Supreme Court if necessary," he vowed.

Meanwhile, residents of the affected areas, have also voiced their anger. They said many of them would lose their properties. When they questioned the RDA about certain important buildings that will be affected due to this highway, the RDA had given vague answers saying, the highway would be narrow in those areas.

The residents said, if the authorities are adamant in going ahead with this highway, it will have to be prepared to face the wrath of the people.

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - * Meeting the challenge, * AG's Department mum on vital questions

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