11th April 1999
By Shelani de Silva
The SLMC is threatening to take legal action if the government does not give the go ahead for local election to be held soon in the eastern province. The warning came after the government appointed special commissioners to run the three districts in the province after the terms of office of the local councils ended last week.
In Batticaloa, residents claim for ten years from 1983 to 1993 Batticaloa had no council. They say under special commissioners, little or no development work had taken place in the area. It is after the Local Government elections in 1993 that the MC was formed.
Appointment of the commissioner was opposed by several local bodies which requested the government to hold the local elections in the district.
Last year, the government postponed provincial elections, but the Free Media Movement went to the Supreme Court and got an order directing the commissioner of elections to hold the elections within a specified period.
A council member told The Sunday Times that they had made representations to the Government stating that the atmosphere was conducive for elections. 'We feel that the government is willing but several Tamil parties are not willing,' he said.
Meanwhile A G Rajamanthan, Administration Officer of the Batticaloa Divisional Secretariat, told The Sunday Times that despite the dissolution of the Council work was not hampered.
Commenting on the appointment of the commissioner he said that generally this is done only in cases of mismanagement, but in this instance the President took the initiative.
In a related development the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is threatening to file action if elections are not held shortly in the Eastern Province.
With the TULF objecting to an election on the grounds of inadequate security, the government has found itself caught up between contrary interests among parties.
Other parties which argue that if it was possible to hold elections in Jaffna why not in the East, feel that the election is being purposely delayed to obtain some advantage for certain groups.
But, the SLMC among others is not willing to wait any longer. It says that either the Elections Commissioner calls for nominations for an election or they take up the matter to court.
The party says it is illegal to postpone the election and it objects
to a further extension under any circumstance.
By Shelani de Silva.
The LSSP is likely to take disciplinary action against MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara who has decided to sit with the Opposition in Parliament from next week.
Mr. Nanayakkara told The Sunday Times he received an official letter from the party stating disciplinary action resulting in even removal from the party is in store for him if he decides to sit with the Opposition. The letter is in response to his letter informing the party of his decision last week. "Even if I am removed from the party, I will not take any legal action against the decision except to appeal to members to intervene in the matter," he said.
He also said that he would inform the Speaker officially of his decision next week.
Asked whether sitting with the UNP would mean that he would be joining the party in the future, Mr. Nanayakkara said, 'Not in my wildest dream. I must admit there will be a conflict of interest this way, but it is my choice."
He added that if he was removed from the LSSP he would carry out political activities on his own.
Meanwhile LSSP Leader Batty Weerakoon told The Sunday Times that it
was an 'internal matter' and refused to comment.
Bank employees say that this year's 'ganu-denu' will not be possible if managements are not willing for a compromise with their demands.
"The traditional custom of 'ganu-denu' is not likely to be followed this year in both private and state sector banks with employees refusing to work overtime as a part of the trade union action in demand of the 8% salary increase among others," said general Secretary of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union, M.R.Shah.
The banks are usually filled with businessmen and the public at the auspicious time for the traditional occasion.
Mr. Shah said that from the 19th they are not restricted by any court order or agreement as the notice they have given for the cancellation of the agreement expires from this date.
"We would be free to take any trade union action and we won't hesitate to do so," Mr. Shah added.
All state banks will curtail working hours from tomorrow owing to the go slow campaign by employees.
Deputy General Manager, Operations Range - I at the Bank of Ceylon A. Sarath de Silva told The Sunday Times that the non-computerised branches of the bank will be closing at 1 pm while the computerised branches will be open to the public until 1.30 pm.
A senior official of the People's Bank said that the bank will be open
to the public from 9 am. to 1 pm. He added that the National Savings Bank
and the State Mortgage Bank will function similarly. Some of the private
banks are also likely to have reduced working hours due to the go slow.
A complaint has been lodged at the Panwila police in Matale against Deputy Defence Minister Anruddhas Ratwatte's sons, Lohan Ratwatte and his brother, for allegedly attacking a group of UNP supporters on the day of the Provincial Council elections in Wattegama.
The clash between PA and UNP supporters allegedly occurred on the evening of April 6, in the Panwila police area.
A convoy of 17 vehicles and a mob of about 150 PA supporters had allegedly
attacked the group of UNPers. The attackers had allegedly opened fire into
the group, resulting in two people being injured and hospitalised at the
The Golden Peacock Award won by 'Gamperaliya' at the International Film Festival in Delhi in 1965 and the Golden Head of Palenque won in Mexico are said to be missing.
Speaking of the 22 carat pure gold 'Ran Monara' trophy was in the possession of Anton Wickremasinghe, the producer of the film. "In his will he had said he would leave it to us, but that finally it should go to a museum," Lester James Peiris said.
The award won in Mexico, the Golden Head of Palenque, was made of crude
gold, explained Dr. Peiris, while the Golden Peacock was a three dimensional
award, and this was the first time ever India gave this award.
By M. Ismeth and Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Will heads roll in the PA after the party, though winning by a small margin in all five provinces, lost no less than nine electorates represented by ministers.
Gone were Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake's Horana electroate, Nimal Siripala de Silva's Borella, Indika Gunewardene's Avissawella, Alavi Moulana's Colombo Central, A.H.M. Fowzie's Colombo North, G.L. Peiris's Colombo East, Dharmasiri Senanayake's Dedigama, Hema Ratnayake's Haputale and Nadimithra Ekanayake's Matale.
In addition, the party lost Deputy Speaker Anil Moonesinghe's Matugama elelctorate, Deputy Minister Sumitha Priyangani Abeyweera's Kalutara and Deputy minister Jeevan Kumaratunge's Moratuwa.
In the UNP camp one of the key electorates lost was General Secretary Gamini Atukorale's Nivitigala.
In the run up to the polls, PA and UNP frontliners were warned their positions would be reviewed if the party did not fare well in their electorates.
The performance of the PA bigwigs is seen in a comparison of the votes received in the 1994 general elections the April 6 provincial polls.
The Minister of Health has ordered an immediate probe on the alleged irregular and discriminatory practices in the import of medical laboratory equipment by state agencies.
One supplier had petitioned the minister alleging corrupt practices and discrimination by the Medical Supplies Division of the Health Ministry and the SPC over the past five years in the purchase of laboratory equipment.
Abdul Hathy Sulaiman writes:
Your news item under the heading "Great Power Robbery" published in the Sunday Times of 14th February, 1999, referring to me, I wish to submit that the following are the facts relating to the incident.
Firstly my name has been incorrectly stated. Perhaps this too has been done wilfully by the reporter who had been prejudiced.
It has been mentioned that Rs. 300,000/ was imposed as fine, which is incorrect. The fine was Rs. 5000/ only, the balance was loss of revenue estimate which was not only excessive but also computed in a hurry on a wrong and unrealistic basis. This is now the subject matter of an action pending against the Ceylon Electricity Board. This action has also been combined with another serious matter of misuse of authority, abuse of power and intrusion into the privacy of the home by the said CEB officer. A credit of Rs. 27,000/ due to me from the CEB from November 1996 onwards has still not settled, in spite of numerous requests.
It was also stated that during the incident a big crowd had gathered outside my residence which is totally false. I as the landlord of commercial properties in Colombo have to contend with over 20 electricity metres in all these premises and have to take vicarious liability for any worngful action of my tenants.
While the meters are used by the tenants and thus become my responsibility many tenants in the meantime have come and gone and since vacated some of the premises long time back and their whereabouts cannot be traced now. In these circumstances the landlord becomes responsible and liable for any arrears payable on these meters, fines and face prosecution etc. Therefore in the event of any tenant meddling with the metre, the landlord becomes liable automatically under the draconian law . In 95% of all cases there is no alternative but to voluntarily admit liability on legal advice because of the necessity and convenience demanded by the unfortunate circumstances, even though the real culprit was the tenant. It is important to mention at this stage I was not found guilty in a court of law, but voluntarily pleaded guilty, as the circumstances demanded it.
This is a similar situation to the landlord and his property becoming liable to be seized if the tenant defaults payment of local rates. Often if the tenant does not keep dustbin or pay for sign boards displayed by them (lit or otherwise) in such a situation too the landlord faces prosecution by the authorities. There is also a case where the water board has neglected by a dereliction of their duties and failed to collect their dues from an earlier tenant. Subsequently to cover up their negligence they have billed the landlord and the present tenant of the same premises by using their one sided steam roller authority (As the laws are always favourable to them) and forcibly seek to collect such past arrears rightly or wrongly. It must be remembered that the present occupier is not the same person who used the said water facilities during the said period. This was used by the previous tenant who had vacated the said premises long time back. In certain cases the same authority have issued bills on non- existent water metres also.
In such situations it is not possible for the landlord to be constantly checking the various metres and their proper functioning and on many occasions such metres have also been changed due to malfunctioning and not recording consumption properly.
Further in the loss revenue estimate which was hastily computed no consideration was given at all to the fact that many air conditioners and electrical gadgets mentioned arbitrarily in the summerised news item ( in the inset) were under repairs and not functioning. Hence the estimate was arbitrary and blindly assessed on a blanked basis for two years while some of these gadgets were only fixed 1 or 2 months prior to the incident.
The tariff rate applied by the CEB in their loss calculations was the business rate. Whereas the domestic rate should have been applied to my residence instead of being confused with the hotel adjoining my residence. The said hotel is a business establishment with separate metre, paying a business tariff and this is completely separate and nothing to do with my residence at all.
During the days of the power cut and black out imposed by the CEB with in the said period in question a generator was used by me and no concessions were made or given for this in the loss of revenue estimate.
The arrogant and high handed behaviour of the CEB officer amounted to an abuse of power, authority and intrusion into the privacy of the home which can be classed as trespass unaccompanied by a legal officer, for which damages have also been claimed and a departmental disciplinary inquiry is pending.
Such CEB officers are generally induced by rewards or promotions, prospects and thus involving innocent consumers.
Sometimes, in certain series such as murder there is bail but the law is draconian in this case and 95 out of 100 cases liability is admitted even though one has not committed the offence. The CEB is also guilty of giving undue publicity to this matter not only on this but even on earlier occasions purely out of personal prejudices, seeking to create sensation and to cover up their misdoings and abuse of authority.
Kindly publish the above facts in your esteemed journal in the public interest and on a prominent page with similarly prominent headline to undo the damage so caused to my reputation.
Frederica Jansz replies: The Sunday Times account in fact included Mr. Abdul Hathy Sulaiman's own response. Hence his claim of prejudice has no foundation.
Mr. Sulaiman did not deny that he had in fact paid the sum of Rs. 3 lakhs against loss of revenue to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
The newspaper did not say this sum of money was a fine imposed by the CEB. This is what he said, "When contacted by The Sunday Times Mr. Abdul Sulaiman, All Island Justice of the Peace (JP) and President of the All Sri Lanka Justice of Peace Association, claims he was harassed by the CEB flying squad.
He said that while the raid was conducted, due to the ensuing commotion a large crowd had gathered on the road outside his residence at Kollupitiya.
Mr. Sulaiman however admitted paying the sum of Rs. 3 lakhs against loss of revenue to the CEB for the piracy of power from his residence.
Mr. Sulaiman maintains that the piracy had been done by a previous tenant
who had occupied the house. "I did not know the meter had been tampered
with," he said. Many of the other allegations in Mr. Sulaiman's letter
do not refer to The Sunday Times report and should be addressed to the
By Udena .R .Attygalle and Sunny Samarasinghe
WildLife officials and the Army are at loggerheads over an incident where a group of soldiers allegedly shot a rogue elephant which claimed the life of five civilians in the Anuradhapura district, and was eventually captured and released into the Yala wild life sanctuary.
Officials of the Wild Life Department and the Army traded allegations against each other as wild life conservationists strongly accused both parties for allegedly mishandling the situation.
The rogue elephant, radio collared by the Global Environment Fund project one and a half years ago, had killed four members of the same family including a pregnant woman on March 21 at Nachchaduwa and three days later killed a farmer in the nearby Thirappane area.
Following appeals from the villagers the elephant was captured on April 1, by a team of 20 volunteers headed by Dr Tharaka Prasad, Wild Life Asst Director (veterinary).The beast was transported the following day and released at Block 2 of the Yala park.
"On the night after it was released the jumbo had attacked the Mahaseelawa circuit bungalow and destroyed part of the caretaker's quarters.
Following this Wild Life authorities in the area had managed to scare away the elephant using firecrackers. But the animal had returned once again to attack the bungalow," Brig H.A.N.T. Perera who is in charge of the Yala area said.
"Even chairs inside the quarters had been destroyed this time round. Luckily there had been no residents at that time.The next morning the beast had broken into the Patanangala Army camp .It had proceeded to attack a bunker. After shooting into the air a few times the soldiers had shot at the elephant," he said.
He said the shooting had been done as a last resort when the elephant was about to trample a soldier.
The army charged that they were given no prior notice of the transporting of the elephant to the park.
Wildlife enthusiasts too ask why a known killer elephant was released into a park thousands of people visit daily.
But according to Dr Attapattu, almost 40 such elephants had been transferred to Yala during the past 10 years." Usually aggressive behaviour is displayed by the animal during the first few days .With its wounds healing the animal gradually becomes even tempered. Unfortunately here he didn't get a chance to do so," he added.
Three soldiers had been remanded as killing animals within the park is prohibited and subsequently granted bail (Rs 25,000 ) by the Tissamaharama Acting Magistrate.
A team headed by Dr. Atapattu has been appointed to investigate the
By Our Legal Correspondent
The post of Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has remained vacant for more than two months since the last incumbent Dhammika Kitulgoda was appointed Secretary-General of Parliament, raising concern in judicial quarters, The Sunday Times learns.
Moves are afoot now to appoint a sitting High Court Judge for the first time. The post has traditionally been held by a District Judge.
The Sunday Times learns that the Justice Ministry has virtually given up nominating someone due to pressure from the Presidential Secretariat to appoint its own nominee.
The post is one where the President makes the nomination in consultation with the Cabinet of Ministers. No Cabinet Paper has yet been placed before the Minister.
Earlier moves to appoint a relatively junior District Judge has been reportedly shelved following exposure in the media.
The present contender is also reportedly running into stormy weather
following an explanation been called from him by the Chief Justice for
his conduct during a period he held office in an association of judges.
By Chris Kamalendran
Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph has requested pilgrims from other areas not to immediately visit the hallowed Madhu shrine as it would be risky until the army moves out from the immediate vicinity.
The Bishop's call came as more than 2000 civilians and catholic priests joint a five hour long prayer campaign around one of the holiest Catholic shrines calling for its protection.
The Bishop told The Sunday Times that they had made a direct appeal to President Chandrika Kumaratunga calling for the removal of the army from the vicinity of the shrine as they felt it could provoke clashes with the LTTE and disturb the devotees. He said that they had not received a response from the Government and Ratnapura's Bishop Malcom Ranjith who joined Friday's prayer would take up the matter with the Government again when he visits Colombo.
The Bishop said he had appealed to pilgrims from other areas to stay away for the present because he felt that any trouble in Madhu might lead to more disharmony between Sinhala and Tamil people.
He said that he had also told authorities to withdraw the electricity generator which was installed early this month as the electricity supply was also going to the security forces and it could be a target of the LTTE.
Meanwhile the civil affairs office of the army opened in Madhu to issue passes for civilians has been shifted two kilometres away from the shrine to Pandivirichchan village.
The Army moved into Madhu area last month in a sudden three-day operation with government sources describing it as a 'liberation' for the shrine but Church leaders expressing fears of clashes around the area.
Several leading politicians including a Cabinet Minister have reportedly made a request to the government to reduce or remove the army presence from the cleared Madhu area to allow devotees to freely go on pilgrimages to the revered Madhu Church, authoritative political sources said.
Political sources said that visiting Madhu was such an 'emotive and
religiously significant thing for Catholics that nothing should be allowed
to get in their way." Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopule
has also requested the withdrawal of the forces from the liberated area
but has reportedly met with a negative response as the area could still
come under sporadic attack.
The excavation of a suspected second mass grave began in Jaffna around the Duraiappa stadium and as many as 23 skeletal remains of those said to have disappeared in the north had been found by yesterday.
The second suspected mass grave, which was accidentally discovered by a group of labourers a week ago, was excavated under the supervision of a magistrate and a judicial medical officer last Wednesday.
A Jaffna human rights activist said the skeletal remains unearthed on Wednesday included the remains believed to be of a woman and also several pieces of broken bangles.
The possibility that there could be more bodies, has not been ruled out.
The remains already unearthed are due to be sent to Colombo for further
examination by forensic experts.
By Ayesha R. Rafiq
Losing UNP Chief Ministerial candidate for the Western Province Karu Jayasuriya while resigning his post as Mayor of Colombo, is to continue in municipal politics as an MMC and chairman of the Colombo Municipality's Advisory Committee.
Mr. Jayasuriya resigned his post as mayor in keeping with a promise he made during the Western Province election campaign.
He said his decision to resign as mayor came as a personal and not a party policy decision, in his attempt to set the stage for a new political culture in the country. 'What this country needs right now is gentlemanly politics, and in my own humble way that is what I am trying to give them', he said.
Mr. Jayasuriya said he would not oppose the PA taking over the government of the Western Provincial Council.
Regarding his plans, he said that for the time being, he would begin his duties as leader of the opposition in the Western Provincial Council.
Thanking the public for their support during his two years as mayor of Colombo he asked that they continue to show the same support to the mayor-designate, Omar Kamil, and anyone who would take office thereafter.
'I am proud to say that I depoliticised the Municipal Council and did my political work at Sirikotha, not at the Mayor's chair, and showed the country that you can have an administration without corruption', he said.
'What is good for the people is good for me, and I will do no destructive politics. What the country needs today is good management' he said.
Mayor designate Omar Kamil said he will continue the development plan envisaged till the year 2002 by Mr. Jayasuriya and ensure that Colombo is kept a clean and beautiful city.
Following Omar Kamil's appointment as Mayor of Colombo, Titus Silva has been appointed as the Deputy Mayor of Colombo.
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