It's a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime, it is the worst of all" seems to be what's in the mind of the uncontrollable sobbing mother of late Tushara Kelum Wijetunge who became a victim of savage ragging. Pic by Lakshman Gunatillake.
In the aftermath of the second ragging death within three months, the government has decided to impose a total ban on ragging and urgent legislation is to be rushed through within two weeks, Higher Education Minister Richard Pathirana announced yesterday.
The minister apparently angry and disturbed over the death last Monday of a Hardy Institute student, said the tough laws would impose punishment not only on offenders but even on those who witness the ragging and refused to give evidence.
University authorities who failed to take action against ragging would also face penalties, Mr. Pathirana said indicating that the legislation would be the most sweeping provisions introduced to ensure discipline in Sri Lanka's institutions of higher education.
The Minister said the Cabinet had last Wednesday decided on this tough action and directed him to move fast in drafting and presenting the legislation within a fortnight.
Responding to criticism that government had dragged its feet on this issue after Peradeniya University fresher Selvam Varapragash was ragged to death three months ago, Mr. Pathirana said there had been what he described as some 'technical problems' but now they would be pushing ahead full steam.
An outraged Mr. Pathirana hit out hard at officials at the Hardy Technical Institute at Ampara for allowing an all night drinking party that had led to the death of fresher Kelum Thushara Wijetunge
The student from Kegalle died at the Kandy General hospital last Monday of kidney failure after he was forced to do some tough exercises and drink excessive quantities of the liquor that the raggers had bought with Rs.400 which they had forcibly taken from Thushara himself.
The minister said a committee had been appointed to probe the tragedy at the Hardy Institute and he would take stern action against officials who were found to be responsible for this scandalous neglect and misconduct.
Mr. Pathirana told The Sunday Times the crackdown on the University ragging would be based largely on laws prevailing in the neighbouring Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with penalties being imposed on a range of areas including damage to public property.
Kamal Addaraarachchi's bail application inquiry was fixed for February 5 by Colombo High Court Judge Shirani Tilakawardene on Friday.
On Dec.22 the same judge convicted Kamal Addaraarachchi on two charges of abduction and rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in 1993 at Kotte and ordered 10 years jail term and one million fine on him.
Next day his lawyers filed an appeal against the judgement and a bail application was filed.
When this bail application called before the same judge on Friday (2nd) State Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda appearing for the AG objected to the granting of bail.
High Court judge ordered him to lodge his objection on or before 15/1/98 and fixed inquiry for 5/2/98.
Nalin Ladduwahetti supported the bail application. Mrs Tilakawardene also directed the registrar to send Kamal Addaraaachchi's case proceedings to the Court of Appeal and to notice the commissioner of prisons in case Addaraarachchi filed an appeal petition.
Dial hotline 699122 in Colombo if you have any problem with transport and your grouse will be attended to immediately, assures Transport Minister A. H. M. Fowzie.
Complaints of irregular bus services, breakdowns, train delays, issuing of licences, transfer of vehicles - all will be attended to promptly.
Among the minister's bag of new year goodies is the promise of electrification of the railway by March, giving commuters a speedy and efficient service.
According to Mr. Fowzie, the railway has imported a new machine which could chip out the wheels of locomotives and bogies, to one size thus preventing derailments.
Last year over 600 derailments were recorded while in the previous year it topped 900. "We hope to bring this figure down to nil this year, with the aid of the new machine," he said.
Also in the new year the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway will get the push when a Malaysian construction team would be here to blow life to the project, he said.
The multi-million rupee project was abandoned many times in the past, under several transport ministers.
The funeral of Ven. Aggamaha Panditha Pottewela Pannasara Mahanayaka Thera was held at the Uyanwatta Stadium, Matara yesterday in the presence of a large gathering.
Earlier the remains were placed at the Polwatta temple, Kollupitiya before the journey to the Pottewela Pirivena in Hakmana, Matara. Large crowds paid their last respects to the Mahanayaka Thera.
Ven Weweldeniya Medalankara Thera administered Pansil. Ven Madhie Pannasiha Mahanayaka Thera, delivering an Anusasana said that the Ven Pottewela Pannasara Thera had rendered yoeman service to the nation and Buddhism. Ven Yatagala Dhammapala Thera said Ven Pannasara Thera had dedicated his life for the propagation of Buddhism. Ven. Kamburugamuwe Vajira Thera also delivered an Anusasana.
Presidential Secretary K. Balapatabendi read out the message of President Chandrika Bandaranaike while the Secretary to the Prime Minister Hemasiri Fernando read out her message.
UNP MP, W.J.M. Lokubandara, representing the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered an oration.
The much publicised southern miracle through the development of the Galle Port has turned out to be a southern mirage, according to Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku, UNP MP and media spokesman.
He told The Sunday Times that the tragedy is that the President and the PA government had realised only after three and a half years that the offer given by the British-China Consortium for the development of the Galle harbour is now a dead letter.
When this tender was leaked by the courageous private media, the UNP took this matter in Parliament and proposed a vote of no-confidence against the minister concerned. The government defended the minister saying that the UNP was jealous as the Galle harbour project was the second single largest project after the Accelerated Mahaweli project which then cost Rs. 49 billion.
The Galle project was estimated to cost around US dollars 750 million (Rs. 45 billion) three years ago. He added that if any other developer would come forward in the future, which is most unlikely due to recent developments in the shipping arena both in Sri Lanka and in South Asia, it will need 60 percent more due to inflation which prevailed during the past three years and the present rate of inflation. This means that this project as it was designed three years ago would now cost US dollars 1200m (Rs. 72 billion) he explained.
However, Dr. Kodituwakku was pessimistic that no private investor or business consortium would invest this large sum in this competitive industry while there are proposals to build another two ports, one in Hambantota and the other in Oluwil in addition to the sale of the Queen Elizabeth Quay to P&O.
Further the implementation of "Sethu Samudra" project in Palk Straits by India which would open a new shipping route to ships serving South Asian countries, he said, would obviate the need of ships coming to Sri Lanka.
"The PA government denied the people of the south the fruits of a better tomorrow with the Galle Port project becoming a cropper. Those in the south trusted what the PA leaders said at that time but have now realised that it has come to nothing," he added.
"All that the PA promised then is now beginning to boomerang on them as they cannot fulfil them. If there is any self-respect or respect for democratic traditions they must resign or sack all those responsible for taking the people and the government for a ride," he said.
The government must apologise to the people of the south for this fiasco. The President has admitted that 80 percent of the public servants are allegedly corrupt and public servants in turn are complaining that PA politicians are interfering and preventing them from doing their legitimate duties. He cited the awarding of the locomotive tender as an example.
The enjoining order issued against ' Studio 9 ' in connection with the Teen International Sri Lanka contest 1997 has been vacated by the District Judge of Colombo W.L. Ranjith Silva.
Fashion designer Christine Kiel earlier filed an application for the issue of an enjoining order on behalf of her teenaged daughter, Karen Kiel who had been selected to participate in the final competition , alleging that certain conditions embodied in an agreement asked to be signed at the eleventh hour between the contestants , their parents or lawful guardians and organisers of the contest , Studio 9 were , inter alia , detrimental to the interests of the contestants.
The plaintiff also prayed for a declaration to the effect that the defendants had no right to disqualify her daughter on account of her refusal to sign that agreement.
Co-partners of Studio 9 , Prasantha Dias and Christina Subhashini Dias Abeywardene had been cited as respondents in this case.
Dismissing the plaintiff's application , the district judge has held that the case had been defective from its very beginning and therefore it was not maintainable as the teenaged contestant's mother had failed to take proper steps to represent her minor daughter in court as provided for in the Civil Procedure Code. It was held that the error affected the entire case.
However , the court observed that the agreement in question had not only violated the rights of the plaintiff's daughter but had also attempted to restrict her human rights and particularly the condition requiring those minors to go to a far away country for the final contest without the protection of any guardian whatsoever was inhuman.
It was further observed that the inclusion of new conditions prior to the final competition was unlawful and violative of the agreement.
The district judge moreover observed that the action would have been successful and the enjoining order and interim injuction prayed for had to be definitely granted if the proper legal procedure had been adopted by the minor or her mother to be designated as ' next friend ' of the minor in terms of Section 476 of the Civil Procedure Code.
A shramadana campaign was held recently to clean up the Iraqi Embassy compound with the active participation of two Cabinet ministers, a deputy minister, deputy mayor and some MMCs and well wishers.
The Shramadana was organised by the Sri Lanka-Iraq Friendship Association. Ever since the imposition of economic sanctions on Iraq, a friend of Sri Lanka, that country had to undergo immense difficulties. This was reflected on the embassy. Hence, the association decided to organise a shramadana to give the embassy environs a clean-up.
The ministers who participated in the campaign were Mahinda Rajapakse and Alavi Moulana, Deputy Minister Athauda Seneviratne, Deputy Mayor Omar Kamil. Iraq Ambassador Ahamed Naji, who also participated, was full of praise for the association and Sri Lanka's concern of Iraq's present situation.
The number of fire cracker casualties trebled this year, according to officials at the National Hospital as the seasonal celebrations came to an end.
Hospital authorities said the main reason for the increase in accidents was probably the lack of awareness campaigns this year on danger of crackers.
Although casualties increased cracker manufacturers grumble that their sales were lower this year than the previous year.
"This year(1997) , the number of casualties shot up threefold from last year's 13 brought into hospital while three admissions have been made", said Ms. Pushpa Soyza, Training Officer who is conducting the survey on seasonal casualties.
According to Ms. Soyza, this is because the public was not instructed on the danger of crackers and of how to be careful when lighting them.
"We have noticed in our surveys that during years when people were advised the number of casualties reduced and vice versa," she said.
The Defence Ministry officials who usually conduct these campaigns, had their hands full this year with the new traffic plans, that they were unable to hold them as usual.
Director of Sunrise Trading Co. Ltd., M. M. M. Ameen, manufacturers, said that after having cut down their seasonal production by 50% this year, 10% of the production has been returned.
Kalam Industries official Mohammed Kalam said that their sales have dropped by 45% this year, and that they sold at the same price as the previous year.
But according to Pradeep Pieris, Managing Director of Hanuma Cracker Manufacturers, they are not expecting returns this year. However, he said that this year's production cost has increased from about 15% and that they were only able to increase prices by 10%.
The high cost of manufacturing and the rise of prices of essential goods such as food were cited by the cracker manufacturers as reasons for the low sales.
For the 1500 villagers of 'Maha Ara' 'Demaliya' 'Vissayaya' and 'Neralugas- handiya' of the Wellawaya Divisional Secretariat, the 'local cable car' made by the youth of 'Neralugashandiya' is the mode of transport over an 'Oya'.
The one month old 'cable car' over the Kirindi oya,saves the villagers from having to travel nearly five miles to get to the other side. Now, all they have to worry about is getting into the 'cable car' and of having some people around to pull it to the other side.
"Although they had made several requests to the authorities to get them better transport facilities, nothing was done," said the youth. With that, they decided to provide for themselves in their own way and the result was the 'cable car.'
With the support of W.M. Ananda the youth set to work, and today they have proved their unity and their independence.
The 'car' which can transport three people at a time, will hopefully be replaced by a suspension bridge. The people have collected Rs 3000. But all their efforts will be in vain if they cannot collect the Rs.25,000 that they need to begin building the bridge.
If man is to survive he must be fed first of all before anything else isa provided to them, Glen Kinross, President of Rotary International said.
Mr. Kinross who was addressing a gathering of rotarians, rotaractors, and interactors, at the BMICH, said that the world should get together to sustain human life, as nearly one billion people go to bed in hunger each day.
Criticising several countries in Europe and the USA . for limiting their food production Mr. Kinross recalled how a child was given polio vaccine when it looked it wouldn't survive a week because of malnutrition.
He said that yet another one billion people could not read or write. "Literacy and numeracy are the key to survival, along with food; therefore it is the duty of every citizen to devote his or her life toward providing these factors," Mr. Kinross said.
This is where the Rotary comes in. It does things which government or municipal authorities cannot do for the people, Mr. Kinross who is the third Australian to visit Sri Lanka said.
Rotary Club which started way back in 1905 by Paul Harris now has a membership of over a million, in over a hundred countries.
Mr. Kinross who is visiting Sri Lanka with his wife Heather, said that Rotary International, for the first time, has included, in this year's schedule, a literacy and numeracy programme, to help uplift the humankind.
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