28th May 2000

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NJC says 'no' to package at present

By Shelani de Silva

The National Joint Committee comprising of more than 40 Sinhala organisations is calling on the Government not to present the political package but instead continue to suppress the LTTE militarily.

The call follows President Chandrika Kumaratunga's decision to present the devolution package before August amidst intense fighting in the North. The President stated last week that the Government will present the package in Parliament even if it fails to receive the required vote.

The National Joint Committee in a letter to President Kumaratunga states that presenting the package in Parliament will definitely affect the morale of the soldiers.

Secretary of the NJC Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake told The Sunday Times that the political package will have a tremendous impact on the soldiers.

'While our soldiers are sacrificing their lives to retain control of the North, the Government is planning to present the package. The devolution package will never help end the war. The country at present is facing a decisive period and we have to act accordingly' said Dr. Dissanayake.

The National Joint Committee has called on the Government to continue suppressing the LTTE militarily, which it believes is the only way to end the conflict.

'The political package should be presented but the time is not correct. The package is not acceptable to the LTTE. When it is presented discussions with other Tamil parties should be conducted' said Dr. Dissanayake.

The National Joint Council which formulated a set of proposals to be incorporated in the new constitution sent them to President Chandrika Kumaratunga a few weeks back.

The proposals which called for the abolition of the executive presidency strongly protested against the division of the country.

'There should be no division of the country for political or administrative purposes on the basis of ethnicity. The need of hour is to foster and strengthen ethnic harmony that now exists in the country and not to disrupt this harmony by creating ethnically based units' said Dr. Dissanayake.

The NJC has stated that the whole of Sri Lanka should be regarded as the homeland of all people and no recognition be given to a claim that any part of the country is the 'traditional homeland' of any particular community.

Sore eyes epidemic sweeping the country

The country is experiencing a widespread epidemic of 'sore eyes' spread by a virus, Consultant Opthalmologist Dr. C.R. Seimon said.

The infection is highly contagious and spreads quickly in public places such as schools, hospitals, prisons, school hostels and vehicles.

The outbreak is common during the hot season, says Eye Hospital Director Dr. Sarath Abeysinghe adding that the disease called Viral Conjunctivitis can affect one eye or both eyes.

The initial symptom is a gritty feeling under the upper lid of the eye (as if there are little grains of sand), followed by a profuse watery discharge. The lids tend to paste together after sleep. The affected eye turns red and the lids swell. The infection spreads to the other eye in about 50% of patients.

There is no curative treatment for Conjunctivitis. The infection lasts for seven days and sometimes more and then the patient recovers. However antibiotics are used fearing bacterial infection.

Yet, if the symptoms lasts for a longer period or is intense in nature it is advised to consult a doctor. If the patient develops white spots on the cornea or a dry eye following 'sore eyes', it is advised that the patient consults a doctor.

"The doctor may or may not give eye drops depending on the severity of the infection. Some eye drops are given to prevent swelling of the eyelids and excessive pain and redness or bacterial infection," Dr. Abeysinghe said. He advised patients to refrain from using traditional ways of treating the infection such as washing the eye with king coconut water, jasmine water etc. as they may give rise to complicated secondary infection.

Another factor that both Dr. Seimon and Dr. Abeysinghe stressed was that sore eyes had not caused blindness to date.

Patients are advised to stay at home, avoid contact with other family members as much as possible, avoid the use of towels etc. used by others and to wash their faces with warm water as often as possible.

Prayer power to win demands

Despite differences, the three major trade unions representing the tea, rubber and coconut plantations have decided to hold a prayer campaign on June 11 in pursuance of the demand for a revised wage structure for the plantation workers.

The decision to launch a prayer campaign was taken by representatives of the three trade unions-the Ceylon Workers Congress, (CWC) The Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union (LJEWU) and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) at a meeting in Colombo on May 23.

The prayer campaign was an idea of the late CWC leader S. Thondaman as a means of demonstrating the solidarity of the plantation workers to win their demands.

The last Collective Agreement between the unions and the Employers' Federation of Ceylon representing the 22 Plantation Company Managements expired on December 31, 1999.

Ship to Jaffna at last

The City of Trinco passenger vessel made its long-delayed maiden voyage from Trincomalee last evening to the Kakesanthurai harbour, carrying 365 passengers, officials said yesterday.

The ship was carrying people who were stranded in Trincomalee for the past two months without means of transport to Jaffna. Officials said about 3700 others were awaiting transport.

Judge Kalawila passes away

Commercial High Court Judge of Colombo K. Kalawila died suddenly early Friday at a Private hospital in Colombo. He was 60.

Mr. Kalawila was taken ill on his way to Courts and rushed to hospital.

His funeral takes place at his native place in Kalawila, off Beruwala this evening.

No change in PA campaign

The People's Alliance has decided to carry out for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, an election campaign similar to what it carried out for the Presidential poll, PA General Secretary D.M.Jayaratna said.

'We will not change our election campaign strategy owing to the time constraint for the elections', Mr Jayaratna said.

Daya fights back in Blue Diamond case

By Ayesha R. Rafiq

The District Court of Colombo has issued notice in a case where former Blue Diamond Deputy Chairman Daya Senanayake is seeking an interim injunction on Ceylinco Chief Lalith Kotelawela.

Mr. Senanayake is suing Mr. Kotelawela and other Ceylinco Group companies for Rs. 36 billion for wrongfully removing him.

Mr. Senanayake said a life-long friendship was disrupted by matters pertaining to a power-generating company established by the Ceylinco group, namely Energen International Ltd. Sri Lanka.

Blue Diamonds had negotiated to sell its technical know-how to Energen Holdings Ltd. Mauritius, and the total sharholdings of Blue Diamonds in the company, negotiated as payment for the sale would be US$ 7,000,000. Mr. Senanayake said Mr. Kotelawela was aware of all negotaition pertaining to this deal.

Mr. Senanayake said that last year he advised Blue Diamonds auditors that the company was to be allotted shares in Energen Mauritius for US$ 7,000,000 and told them to finalise the audited accounts draft for a final discussion with Mr. Kotelawela. He said Mr. Kotelawela has later written to the Blue Diamonds Finance Director giving orders not to proceed with Mr. Senanayake's directions.

Mr. Senanayake said that in December last year he had received a letter making false allegations against him and appointing the Finanace Manager as the Joint Managing Director of Blue Diamonds.

Mr. Senanayake said that at the extraordinary genral meeting wrongful and illegal proxies had been used to remove him.

He asked court for a declaration that the proxy used to vote against him was illegal. He also sought an interim injunction restraining Mr. Kotelawela from functioning as the Chairman and Managing Director of Blue Diamonds and several companies of the Ceylinco group.

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