The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

18th May 1997




Colombo highest on drug list

More than 65% of the hard drug dependants who sought treatment last year were from Colombo district while Kandy, Galle and Gampaha were next highest on the list, officials said.

Officials of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) said some 1850 drug dependants had sought treatment-from state and non-governmental centres with some 95% of them being males.

Another significant factor in last year's figures was the ethnic ratio of drug dependants - with a massive 86% of them being from the Sinhala community while Moors accounted for only 6.3%, Tamils 3.4%, Malays 1.1% and Burghers 1.0%.

They said a majority of the drug users were taking western treatment while a significant number also went for Ayurveda or Homoeopathy.

The level of education was also significant in that 29.9% of the drug users had attended school upto year 10, 23% between year five and year eight and 32% had completed the GCE O/L Examination. Some 9.1% had dropped out of school before year five while 6.4% had completed the GCE A/L examination. Some 1.7% of the drug users reported had not attended school. The average age of first use was 18 last year.

Crumbling paper history

By Gamini Mahadura

The 1860 printing machine at the Galle temple
The machines used to print the first registered Sinhala newspaper - 'Lanka Lokaya' are rusting in a store room of the Ranwella temple in Kathaluwa, Galle.

The machinery was brought from London in 1860 by King Chulalankara on the advice of Ven. Bulathgama Dhammalankara Siri Sumanatissa Thera, chief incumbent at the Paramananda temple in Minuwangoda, Galle who felt the need for a Sinhala paper.

The paper was first published in June 1860.

After the newspaper was closed down the machinery had been dumped in the temple and the present chief priest had tried to get the Archaeological Department to purchase it for Rs. 25,000 but little interest was shown.

Mihikatha to hold competitions

on protection of environment

The Mihikatha Institute, a non Governmental organisation for the protection of environment has organized an art and painting competition among school children under the theme "Industrialism and Environment", a photographic exhibition open to all age groups under the title "The Environment through the Lens" and a drama festival to mark World Environmental Day which falls on June 5.

The photographic competition will be held from June 5 to 8 at the Public Library, Colombo.

All entries (10 x 12 inches in size) should be sent to Mihikatha Institute, 11, Sri Saranankara Road, Dehiwala before 27, May 1997.

For further information contact Mihikatha Institute or refer Lankadipa Newspaper.

Vesak art display at Gangaramaya

Gangaramaya Vihara of Colombo Hunupitiya will celebrate the Vesak Festival with the usual observance of 'Sil' while the students of the Sri Jinartana Technical Training Centre will exhibit a massive Vesak Lantern with more than two hundred small lamps.

More than 150 drawings on copper and brass sheet, 180 brass Buddha statues brought down from Thailand , statues of gods, large collection of elephant tusks, 'Gaja Muthu', more than two hundred pictures depicting the history of Sri Lanka done out of lime mixture will be on display as part of the Vesak festival.

Buddha statues and stupas of different countries, Buddha relics, Arahath and Seevali relics, deposited in a chamber made of gold, silver and copper will also be on display.

The display will be at the Gangaramaya Lake and Singithi Uyana from May 21 to 28 commencing at 7 pm and closing at 2 a.m.

The Pandal depicting the Noble Eight Fold Path, is sponsored by Milina Sumathipala, J.P. and her family, in memory of the late U.W. Sumathipala.

Woman snatches chain in bus

A woman rogue threw chilli powder on the face of a woman in a bus plying from Kandy to Waturekumbura and snatched her gold chain, and jumped off the bus, Peradeniya police said.

The rogue had closed the eyes of the victim with her palm which was soaked in chilli powder and while the victim had her smarting eyes closed, she had snapped up her chain from her neck, and jumped off the bus.

Police have not yet found the woman and Chief Inspector M.A.R. Bandara of the Peradeniya police is making investigations with his men.

The twenty six-year-old victim Harankaha Arachchi has lodged a complaint, valuing the chain at 10,000 rupees, police said.

Two promoted as Rear Admiral

Two senior Navy officers were yesterday promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Commander-in-Chief.

They are Commodore A.H.M. Razeek, Commander, Eastern Naval Area headquartered in Trincomalee and H.R. Amaraweera, Commander Western Naval Area headquartered in Colombo.

The promotions are with immediate effect, a Defence Ministry official said yesterday.

Puppets on TV play ‘Pandu’

A prominent supporter of the slain President Premadasa has accused UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of irresponsibility in failing to take action regarding a recent TV puppet show which many saw as being derogatory of the late leader.

Kalinga Obeywansa, a national list MP in the Premadasa era has said Mr. Wickremesinghe should at least now protest to the private TV station for ridiculing Mr. Premadasa. UNP spokesman Karunasena Kodithuwakku said the allegations were baseless.

Faith renewed or forced?

By Shelani de Silva

The government decision to declare a Vesak week with strict orders for the closure of liquor shops and beef stalls for seven days has been widely welcomed by Buddhist groups though some have expressed reservations as to the validity of enforcing religious value.

The Buddha Sasana Ministry said police had been directed to take stern action against anyone violating the week-long liquor and beef ban while other steps were also being taken to make Vesak more meaningful by reducing the commercial or celebrative aspects of it.

Deputy Minister Sumedha Jayasena said the tradition of sending Vesak cards had over the years been commercialised by project seeking vendors, who printed cards that had little to do with the deep meaning of Vesak.

As part of the cleanup this year the Ministry had printed some meaningful cards this year as a guideline and was insisting and all cards should be on those lines.

She said Provincial Councils and District Authorities had been instructed to conduct ‘bakthi gee’ and similar ceremonies to renew the religious fervour of Vesak.

YMBA General Secretary Noel Wijenayake welcomed a week-long ban on liquor sales and said he hoped it would be effective. He said those who followed the dhamma by conviction would observe the religious values of Vesak without any compulsion.

ACBC President S. Devapura said people had strayed away from Buddhist values in recent years, with dire repercussions for the country.

Thus he welcomed the new moves to put Vesak on the religious foundation.

Maha Bodhi Society leader Gamani Jayasuriya said Vesak traditionally had its dimenisions of contemplation and celebration both of which were meaningful.

He said people could be advised to act according to the Dhamma, but they must not be forced.

An official of the Federation for Buddhist Organisations saw a hidden motive in the government’s special measures for Vesak. He alleged it might be a subtle attempt to win Sinhala Buddhist support for the Devolution Package.

Union will join strike if it is not settled

University Administrative Union has threatened to join the non- academic staff in their strike if the demands of the strikers are not met in two week’s time and the situation brought back to normal.

This decision was taken at the Colombo University where they met, taking into consideration the plight of the students. They further stated that they will not engage themselves in any of the non- academic staffers’ work, which they have been compelled to do as a result of the strike.

Prof. S. Thilakaratna, Chairman of the University Grants Commission said that the matter is no longer in their hands but in the hands of the Finance Ministry and the Anomalies Committee.

He added that the delay in reaching a compromise is because of the delay of the Finance Ministry and the Anomalies Committee in forwarding their recommendations and approvals. However, Prof. Thilakaratna assured that all those who reported to work will receive their due pay. Mr. Weerasuriya, Secretary of the Anomalies Committee told ‘The Sunday Times’ that he does not know anything about the situation and that he does not wish to express his views.

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