3rd May 1998
By Chamintha Thilakaratna
The results of the G.C.E. O/Level examination held last December will be released within two weeks but doubts still remain regarding the August A/Level exam in view of the postal crisis, an official said.
Deputy Commissioner A. M. B. R. Amarakoon told The Sunday Times all marking had been completed and only the computer processing needed to be done regarding the O/Level exam. He assured some 150,000 students who sat the exam they would have the results by the middle of this month.
Referring to the A/Level exam scheduled for August he said that if postal services return to normal soon as assured by the authorities, then the exam could be held as planned. But if the postal delays persisted, they would have to consider a postponement in the best interest of students.
The Sinhala Arakshaka Sanvidhanaya has expressed its profound grief over the death of its President Gamani Jayasuriya, at a time when his services were most needed not only by the movement, but by the entire Sinhala nation.
His death has created such an enormous leadership vacuum in a number of patriotic organizations, our own being the most affected, for he was not just our president, but initiator, promoter, prime mover and livewire as well, the group said in a statement.
The statement also said:
"It is with a deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness that we recall how Mr. Jayasuriya at a critical juncture of our history, rallied the nation under the auspices of the newly formed SAS against the Uni-lateral decision by Mr. S. Thondaman in 1991 to visit Jaffna in order to discuss a power sharing formula.
"Mr. Jayasuriya succeeded in convincing the nation that by trying to approach a ruthless organization like the LTTE with an olive branch would serve no purpose because here was an organization which was ever ready to unleash terror never ready to compromise but relentless by trying to carve out a separate state thereby violating Sri Lanka's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"It was solely due to the pressure exerted by the campaign spearheaded by Mr. Jayasuriya that Mr. Thondaman's attempt was aborted.
Again in 1996, it was Mr. Jayasuriya who fearlessly championed the opposition to the draft proposals for the devolution of power (The Package) put up by the government. When the National Joint Committee was formed in 1997 with the sole objective of opposing and defeating the Package, the unaminous choice for the post of President was Mr. Jayasuriya.
"Failing health compelled him to leave that position about a year later, yet he continued to be actively involved as before in all NJC activities including the historic conference of the Maha Sangha. Mr. Jayasuriya's contribution has in no small way made the NJC a voice to be heard and the Sinhala Commission a reality.
"Involvement of Mr. Jayasuriya in the two instances mentioned above is fully consistent with the historic decision he made in 1987 to renounce and sacrifice his Cabinet portfolio in strong protest against the Indo-Sri Lanka accord signed by the late J. R. Jayewardene and late Rajiv Gandhi. "He sincerely believed that the accord was a threat to our sovereignty and territorial integrity when 10 years later, in 1987, when strangely the government whose main constituent is the SLFP which vehemently opposed the 2nd Sri Lanka accord and the Provincial Council Bill, introduced reforms that were far more conducive for eventual separation. Mr. Jayasuriya naturally was in the forefront of protest. If the gerat nationalist and Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala wanted to awaken the Sinhala Buddhists, spiritually, socially and economically there was this grand nephew of his to continue that tradition in his own style; amiable, non aggressive and non violent.
"Mr. Jayasuriya cherished the advice of the Maha Sangha and always consulted the Ven. Maha Nayake Theros on critical issues of the Nation and the Sasana. He very often declared that the Maha Sangha should lead the nation. As President of the SAS as well as the Sri Lanka Maha Bodhi Society he widely travelled the length and breadth of the country attending Temple and Daham School functions and delivering very moving speeches in spite of medical advice calling him to restrain himself.
"The passing away of Mr. Jayasuriya poses an immense challenge to the SAS, NJC and the entire Sinhala Community. We have lost our revered leader and Patriot. The best tribute we can pay him is to dedicate ourselves to the vision and mission he cherished, a unitary Sri Lanka where all communities live in peace, harmony, amity and brotherhood.
"May Mr. Jayasuriya attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana."
By Arshad M. Hadjirin
The crisis at the Postal Department is continuing and mail is still piled up with the trade unions demanding the removal of Post Mistress General Soma Kotakadeniya.
But the tough postal chief is insisting she won't budge.
As the crisis which has created the worst-ever chaos in the postal service nears its second month, a union in forefront of the campaign is seeking intervention by President Kumaratunga to settle the dispute.
"We believe that a 15 minute meeting with the President will help to settle the 50 day crisis," said N. P. Hettiarachchi, Secretary of the Union of Post and Telegraph Officers (UPTO).
The go-slow began in March and talks were deadlocked mainly on overtime payments for staff officers but the UPTO is now demanding the removal of Ms. Kotakadeniya and the re-transfer of nine union members who had been moved out of the Central Mail Exchange.
But a defiant Ms. Kotakadeniya is not prepared to compromise on either issue. She told The Sunday Times she had been appointed by the Cabinet and she was not ready to take orders from a union.
Regarding the transfer of nine employees from the central office she said they were moved out because of a fear they might disrupt work.
She said that under the essential services order enforced by the government last week, strikes or any form of disruption of work had been banned and workers violating the regulations would be dealt with sternly.
She was apparently referring to the picketing campaign conducted last Thursday by the UPTO and other unions in protest against what they see as the suppression of workers and trade union rights.
The PMG said postal services were gradually being restored and some 300 minor staff were being brought into streamline the work.
But union leader Hettiarachchy scoffed at these claims, saying the work to rule was continuing and nothing was normal. He said the presence of security forces in post offices was both intimidating and discouraging for the workers.
The UPTO and other unions are accusing the government and the PMG of acting arrogantly while Post Minister Mangala Samaraweera has branded the UPTO as a political mafia of the UNP and the JVP.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reiterated his support to the policies followed by the government to bring about a political settlement and expressed his abhorrence once again over continuing acts of terrorism in the country.
Mr. Annan expressed his feelings to John de Saram, Sri Lanka's new permanent representative to the UN after the latter presented his credentials to Mr. Annan at UN headquarters. At an informal discussion Mr. De Saram also briefed the Secretary General on the current situation relating to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
Mr. de Saram succeeds H. L. de Silva, PC who returned to Sri Lanka in February this year after completing his assignment.
By Arshad M. Hadjirin and S. S. Selvanayagam
"Remove PMG, Soma Kotakadeniya; and we are prepared to work for three days without pay and clear the massive backlog of mail at the CME," thundered UPTO General Secretary N. P. Hettiarachchi at the joint May Day Rally of the trade unions, held at Hyde Park.
Addressing a large gathering of Unionists belonging to the Ceylon Mercantile Union, the Ceylon Bank Employees Union and the Union of Posts and Telecom Officers, Hettiarachchi said that the government was never genuine from the day it came to power in resolving their problems.
"We were accused of belonging to the JVP, and supporting the UNP. These are false charges," said Hettiarachchi.
"We supported the PA coalition at the general election in 1994, in order to bring about a transparent government which would look into the problems of trade unions. But to our horror we found that they are no better than the UNP," he said.
P. Bandara, Chairman , CBEU, in a strong speech supporting the postal workers said that they will get Kotakadeniya removed very shortly. "We see that the government has not kept any of its promises so far, and it is a great setback to the democratic process," he said.
"We see that the Executive Presidency is still continuing, and we are in no position to support the UNP to once again see the system they advocated prospering," Bandara said.
Leader of the CMU, Bala Thampoe speaking in similar tones said that it is a mockery to find the PA holding their May Day Rally, and speaking for the rights of the workers, when they are seriously repressing trade union activity.
Meanwhile The Confederation of Public Service Independent Trade Unions (COPSITU), comprising 52 public sector trade unions have appealed to President Kumaratunga to withdraw the essential services order and negotiate with the postal unions to find an alternative remedy.
COPSITU General Secretary Adhikari Jayaratne said the essential services order was a violation of the pledges given by the PA government at elections in 1994.
"The workers believed and trusted that this worker-friendly PA government would never trespass on the freedom of association of workers, but this brings back the black era of the trade union movement in the 1980's when the entire movement was suppressed by a draconian law," he said.
A group of trade unions consisting of hundreds of members, on May Day resolved to mobilise a general strike in the country, if the Workers' Charter is not presented to Parliament within two months.
Members of Ceylon Mercantile Union, Union of Posts and Telegraph Officers and the Ceylon Bank Employees Union, who rallied at Hyde Park from opposite Galle Face on May Day accused the government of not being capable enough to introduce the Workers' Charter after being in power for nearly four years.
The Unions also resolved to oppose any kind of privatisation. Many other resolutions urged the government to establish a viable peace through negotiations with the LTTE, and the abolition of the Executive Presidency.
Bala Thampoe extended May Day greetings and saluted all working class and people's organisations which fight repression and exploitation by the anti-working classes.
A two-year-old who swallowed latex collected in a coconut shell died on admission to hospital.
The grandmother told the Panadura Coroner that on this day the child's parents had gone out leaving the child in her care.
In the afternoon she went to the kitchen leaving the child in the verandah and when she returned the child was missing. Looking for him in the garden she saw the child coming towards her with a coconut shell in his hand.
She rushed to him and found it was a shell fixed to a nearby rubber tree to gather latex. She noticed the child had consumed its contents and took him to the Bandaragama hospital from where he was transferred to the Panadura base hospital where he died.
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