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12th July 1998

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Lankans in fright over cancelled flight

By Shelani de Silva

Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia have expressed concern over AirLanka's decision to cancel the direct Colombo-Jeddah flights from October.

Reports said some 50,000 Sri Lankans, working in Saudi Arabia would be affected by the cancellation which is part of the cost-cutting measures taken by the national carrier after it entered into a controversial management partnership with Emirates airlines in April.

An AirLanka official said they had to pay a Royalty of 40 dollars per passenger to Jeddah, and this was found to be uneconomical.

The Sunday Times learns that AirLanka is likely to pull out from several other destinations including Amsterdam and Fukuoka in Japan, Bombay and Karachi.

AirLanka would co-ordinate with other airlines in operating flights to these destinations at economical rates.

But the airline was increasing the number of flights to other destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Riyadh, Kuwait, Dubai and Muscat.


He was a journalist and a designer

Yrol Jayewardena, talented journalist and designer, took leave of us last Friday at a quiet funeral ceremony.

Yrol was a popular journalist because he wrote about society. He worked in the Observer and then in The Sunday Leader. As a designer Erol's work was mostly in embroidery.

A gifted craftsman, he worked free-hand not even seeking refuge in a tracing. He worked with beautiful threads brought down from France. It was really exquisite work.


Death of Wijeya staffer's father

M.W.G. Hinni Mahathaya Marapana, father of Wijeye Newspapers employee Nihal Marapana passed away.

He leaves behind his wife Premawathi Withanage and eight children. The funeral will take place on Monday 13 at Palle Aladeniya, 88, Palle Aladeniya, Gili Oya.


JVP plans the third come-back

The JVP which twice before tried to come to power through armed rebellion is now making a third come-back bid through democratic politics, and is promising ''Positive Dynamic Results'' if the people give the party a chance to rule the country for a six-year term. Propaganda Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa in an interview with The Sunday Times said that after two decades of misrule both by the UNP and the PA, he felt the people should now give a chance to an alternative or third party such as the JVP.

Though the JVP has in the past been accused of terrorising those who do not accept their views, Mr. Weerawansa vowed the party would never, never impose media censorship, as it now believed in the freedom of expression and information.

In the interview at the Athidiya headquarters of the JVP, Mr. Weerawansa also outlined party policy on major issues in what is seen as the third come-back bid after its rebellions in 1971 and 1988 were crushed.

Excerpts:


By Roshan Peiris

Q: Have you given up the policy of your former leader Rohana Wijeweera to topple the government by armed rebellion?

JVP plans the third come-back

A: People misunderstood our leader. He was against the UNP government and then the SLFP. Both those parties harassed the JVP and began oppressive actions such as state-sponsored killings and disappearances.

Thus we resisted. So it is wrong to interpret this as wanting to topple governments by extra-constitutional means.

Anyway I can assure the people that the JVP respects true democracy with elections so that the people can express their preference.

Q: Is the JVP hoping to link up with any anti-government force for the Provincial or Presidential elections?

A: Yes, we will link up with socialist parties such as the Nava Samasamaja Party, the Eksath Samajavadi Pakshaya and the Praja Tanthra Vadaya - the Democratic Public Movement of which Vasudeva Nanayakkara is the co-ordinator.

Q: So now that the JVP is pledged to democracy are you for or against Provincial Elections at this stage?

A: We are against the postponement of PC elections. The lack of security is a ''boru'' excuse. A postponement will be a violation of democratic principles.

Of course we also believe that the PC system is not suitable for the country. This government claims security is insufficient for PC elections. How will it be possible to hold Presidential elections?

The argument is baseless and absurd. In 1982 the UNP postponed elections and as trouble arose after that our party was banned.

We were compelled to take up arms against the government.

Q: From where does the JVP get funds? You have now rented a big house at Athidiya. From where does the money come?

A: We have loyal members who give a big slice of their income to the party. I am a CMC member and give my entire allowance to the party.

We also have comrades abroad, highly educated Sri Lankans who went away because they were oppressed or jobless here.

They send us lots of funds. We also get money from some East European countries, though not on a regular basis.

Q: What will be the features of your manifesto for the elections?

A: Priority will be given to solving the problems of unemployment and the rising cost of living. This government is selling some of the most valuable assets of this country to foreigners. We will review all that.

We will tap the full potential in our own people and give them every opportunity to play their proper role. We have a lot more lined up in agriculture and industry, both in urban and rural areas.

Q: What is your view on the Devolution Package?

A: We feel this package will only further divide the people. After the package we might see one region fighting another.

Q: So does it mean that you are not for the North-East merger?

A: Why should we divide by merger? All communities must learn to live together and not have these separate entities. We want all communities to live together wherever they want.

Q: Is there any likelihood of the JVP joining the UNP or the PA for the Provincial elections.

A: No, the JVP is fully committed to socialism and those two parties are capitalist.

Q: I presume you are opposed to the Executive Presidency also?

A: Of course. So much power must not go to a single person. This system violates and destroys the democratic rights of the people.

The JVP feels the UNP and the PA are like minded. The UNP postponed elections and so now the PA tries to do it. They are also harassing or threatening journalists.

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