1st October 2000
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Still a Minister- in-waiting

NUA Secretary General and SLMC co-leader Rauf Hakeem is still awaiting an invitation from the President to take oaths as a minister in place of the late M. H. M. Ashraff.

"So far we have had no intimation, although I have made myself available. But I have also to go to the east for the polls campaign," said Mr. Hakeem who returned from Mecca on Tuesday.

Mr. Hakeem is reported to be conducting an intensive campaign in the east accompanied by Mr. Ashraff's son Aman who is representing his mother till the period of mourning ends. 

Beware of those garlands, parcels

General Election candidates have been warned to be alert to parcel and letter bombs from the LTTE, detectives said.

They said intelligence reports indicated the LTTE was making such bombs at a Kokkadicholai factory to kill various candidates. 

The Police have also warned candidates against accepting garlands or other gifts unless they are fully checked by security officers.

No inquiry into Kandy shooting

By Shane Seneviratne
Last week's shooting incident in Kandy where Deputy Defence Minister General Anuruddha Ratwatte's son was allegedly involved has gone uninvestigated for the past week, UNP candidate Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday.

Mr. Rambukwella told The Sunday Times that so far no further inquiries have been made and no statements have been recorded from the persons who were allegedly involved in the shooting incident.

He said in his complaint he had named Gen. Ratwatte's son as one of those who fired at his vehicle at Getambe. He said three names were given to the Police.

He claimed that the Police were trying to hush up the inquiry.

Mr. Rambukwella said he had a video recording of the complaint being made at the Police station adding that the recording was made as he feared that the complaint would be distorted or even could be removed under influence.

HQI of the Kandy Police Chief Inspector Saliya Silva when contacted by The Sunday Times regarding the inquiry declined to comment about the inquiry.

The day after the incident DIG Central Province Sirisena Herath told state television that the police had commenced inquiries 30 minutes after the shooting incident took place.

The DIG denied the report that there was a delay in recording the statement.

Gen. Ratwatte denied that his son was involved in the shooting incident.

More than 500 UNP supporters demonstrated outside the Kandy Police station claiming that for more than three hours a complaint was not recorded.

The PA Media Watch also called for an inquiry into the incident.

The European Union election monitors currently in Sri Lanka also expressed concern about the incident. An EU polls monitoring team later visited Kandy.

Row over Amdan

TNL television is to take legal action against an advertising firm for using the popular muppet 'Amdan' in the PA election campaign.

TNL chief Shan Wickremesinghe said the Muppet 'Amdan'- portraying UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in The Always Breakdown show was being illegally used for the PA campaign without obtaining copyright clearance. 

No politics for Samurdhi officers on duty

By Shelani de Silva
The Samurdhi Authority has sent letters of warning to all Samurdhi officers warning them to refrain from election work during duty hours.

The letters of warning were sent out following a Court of Appeal order that Samurdhi workers cannot engage in political activities during their duty hours.

Director General of Samurdhi Dr. R M K Ratnayake told The Sunday Times that the letter had been sent to Samurdhi managers and Samurdhi niyamakas also to act impartially when carrying out their duties and not to act in favour of any candidate or political party.

"We told court that a warning letter will be sent out," he said.

Dr. Ratnayake said disciplinary action would be taken against those violating the instructions.

" The officers are field officers. They are appointed by MPs so most often they are obliged to work for their parties," he said.

UNP Chairman Karu Jayasuriya, Party Secretary Gamini Atukorale and former MP Ravi Karunanayake had complained to the Court of Appeal by way of writ application that Samurdhi officers were being deployed during office hours in the political campaign of the PA.

Two months leave for polls work?

By Tania Fernando and Faraza Farook
Gearing up for the polls, at least one minister is alleged to be taking advantage of state sector employees to help with the campaigning.

Civil Aviation Minister Reggie Ranatunga who was till recently deputy minister in charge of ports has requested the Ports Authority to pay salaries to workers who won't report to work at the port, but will be attending to the minister's work.

The Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary in a letter to the Ports Ministry said salaries of 26 workers should be paid by the Port for September and October, but once details were forwarded to the Civil Aviation Ministry, the money would be re-imbursed. 

This group consists of 13 security guards, eight drivers, three labourers, a health worker and an office assistant are allegedly involved in election work in the Gampaha District.

Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary W.P.S. Jayewardene declined to comment on the letter signed by him.

Meanwhile, some Health Ministry employees from Colombo were seen in the Badulla party office of the Health Minister. When our reporters spoke to them they said they were on election work. Ministry vehicles were also seen in the premises.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence has also expressed concern over alleged misuse of state resources by PA candidates, citing instances in Colombo, Matale, Kaduwela, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. 

It alleged that the PA's main candidate for Matale district Nandamithra Ekanayake had misused 14 vehicles belonging to the Central Province Education Ministry.

Opposition party sources also alleged misuse of state buses and school authorities for election work. 

Monitors' violence figures at variance

By Faraza Farook and Nilika de Silva
With nine days to go for elections, the sharp contrast in polls violence figures has left the public questioning the accuracy of the contradictory reports released by the monitoring bodies in the country. 

While each monitoring body attempts to justify the discrepancy by giving reasons as to how they confirm incidents, the disparity being as large as 500 is the main cause for the skepticism voiced by the people.

"We do not take telephone complaints," Director of the PA for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Kingsley Rodrigo said. 

He explained that incidents are confirmed with their co-ordinating officers based in the districts, before recording them.

Head of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said his organisation gets its information when people phone in or when their monitors on the ground report incidents.

If there has been an incident, the monitors follow it up and gain as much details as possible. "They obtain comments from the hospital, if there has been hospitalisation and from the police," Dr. Saravanamuttu said. 

Another reason for the disparity is the criteria used by the monitors to record the incidents. The incidents are classified under different headings such as 'general/serious incidents' and 'minor incidents'. Often, the minor incidents go unreported by some monitors. The criteria used to differentiate between serious and not so serious incidents is, however, not clear. 

Figures released up to last Wednesday by the monitors, namely, PAFFREL, CMEV, PA Polls Watch and the Police Elections Secretariat,, show a discrepancy between the figures of the first when compared with the other three. 

The total figures recorded by PAFFREL since the handing over of nominations on August 28 is 167. The figure recorded by the CMEV was a total of 742 incidents while the Police Elections Secretariat and the PA Polls Watch gave an identical number of incidents amounting to 622.

Murders recorded by the Police Elections Secretariat and PA Polls Watch was three, PAFFREL 6 and CMEV 12.

When questioned why the CMEV had included bomb victims along with the victims of election related violence, Dr. Saravanamuttu said that bomb explosions had a direct impact on the campaigns.

PAFFREL defended its minimal figure saying that they were more interested in carrying out awareness programmes for the public and political affiliates about refraining from violence rather than in recording incidents. 

Free legal body for upright public servants

By Nilika de Silva
A voluntary body of lawyers including 15 President's Counsel have come forward to protect the rights of public servants who face the threat of being politically victimised for performing their duties in the run- up to the elections and after that.

These lawyers who will appear free of charge will be working in conjunction with the Institute of Human Rights (IHR) and act in the interest of their clients throughout the entire period in which litigation takes place.

"We guarantee that public servants would not have to pay a cent. 

Everything including costs for documentation will be paid by us," J.C. Weliamuna, Project Director said. 

The period to apply for this service which began on September 28 will continue till October 28. The plaints will be screened to ensure there was no political motive ..

The persons who will qualify for legal assistance through this program are public servants victimized for resisting improper usage of state and corporation resources directly or indirectly for the benefit of one or more political parties or groups, those victimized for not permitting any political party or group violate laws pertaining to elections, those victimized for acting impartially in preventing violence including political crimes, and those faced with any threat/risk to their occupational safety or employment for acting independently, in the discharge of their duties. 

Complaints should be forwarded to the Institute of Human Rights, No.10, Purana Vihara Road, Colombo 6. Telephone No. 817692 and Fax: 820467. 

Persons who have been victimised due to carrying out their duties in a rightful manner are those the Institute of Human Rights seeks to champion, 

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