31st December 2000

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UNP, JVP seek special session of Parliament in New Year

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

The UNP and the JVP are to call for a special session of parliament and launch massive campaigns in the new year to protest against the escalating cost of living as public anger rose in the aftermath of last Wednesday's hikes in gas and diesel prices.

UNP Assistant Leader Gamini Atukorale told The Sunday times the party would call for a special session of parliament in view of what it saw as utter mismanagement which was leading to an economic nose-dive.

He said the people had a right to know why prices were sky-rocketing and what really happened at the recent Sri Lanka Development Forum meeting in Paris.

He said that if the government sincerely sought cooperation from the opposition they could together draw up plans to provide urgent relief to the people.

"It has been a series of burdensome price revisions, gas monopolies and plundering of this country's wealth. The UNP has a proven track record as good managers of the economy. Hence the decision to take this matter to the people" he said.

JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa said his party's politburo was also meeting urgently to plan protest demonstrations against what the JVP saw as unchecked plunder of the people and blunders in economic management.

While the UNP demanded pay hikes for public servants, the position in the private sector was outlined by business leader Mano Selvanathan.

"The employers will have to confront the pressure on wages and salaries due to the inevitable price hikes. The cost of living has shot through the roof. Public servants will get an increment, but the question is, whether the private sector can bear this?" he asked.

Traders said the fuel price hikes coupled with the devaluation of the rupee would send prices soaring and they would be forced to pass it on to the consumer on items ranging from vegetables to building materials.

T. S. Arulanandam who heads the Hardware Merchants Association said they would be forced to increase prices by 10-15 % but they also feared a downturn in business for Spotlighting the plight of hardpressed workers, Ceylon Trade Unions Federation spokesman H. A. Wilbert Perera said plantation workers specially would be badly affected as nearly 40 percent of them had no electricity and depended on kerosene for basic home needs.

As an immediate result, bus fares will be increased from this week.

Private Bus Association Treasurer Gemunu Wijeratne said Transport Minister Dinesh Goonewardene had agreed to allow the increase though a decision on the exact amount would be taken on Wednesday.

Night of merriment ends in terror

By Chris Kamalendran

The southern beaches in Sri Lanka attracted Ulich Haupt, 38 from Hannover, Germany and he became a partner of a small tourist resort off Tangalle which catered mainly to German tourists.

Haupt, known also as Oli Awuwat lived with his wife and managed the tourist resort which included cabanas.

He had a good rapport with the locals in the area and six of them worked in the location known as Darwin Holiday Tourist Beach Resort.

Haupt was one of the four partners of the resort.

Last Wednesday night more than 30 tourists, mainly Germans had been at the resort wining and dining when a gang of masked men, one of them armed with a T-56 stormed in and threatened the gate keeper demanding that they meet the manager.

The gatekeeper initially refused to comply but at gun point he was forced to take them to Haupt's room.

An argument soon broke out between Haupt and the men when they demanded money and other valuables from him.

An enraged Haput is reported to have hit one of the men on the head with a torch.

Suddenly the armed man had opened fire hitting Haupt on the thigh, who collapsed on to the floor.

The seven member gang thereafter raided the hotel getting away with cash, cameras and other valuables.

The gang had also allegedly raped a Sri Lankan born girl living in Germany who had come here on a holiday.

The girl had undergone medical tests at the Tangalle hospital, but the reports were not available immediately.

As the gang went about their task of removing valuables from the guests, some of them were tied up with ropes and wires causing injury to them.

With the gang remaining in the resort for quite a long time, the employees were unable to get out to alert the nearby Police guard post. Once the gang left the police were informed of the shooting but ironically their only vehicle had gone out patrolling, thus delaying the removal of the victim to hospital.

"The incident took place at 1.00. a.m. and the victim was brought to hospital at only 3.30. a.m. He died of haemorrhage," Tangalle hospital District Medical Officer Dr,. M.D. Milton told The Sunday Times.

"When he was brought to hospital he was gasping for breath.

It was unfortunate that he was not brought in earlier," Dr. Milton said.

The victim succumbed to his injuries 15 minutes after he was brought to hospital, he said.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the German Embassy said they had sent a representative to the resort to look into the interest of the victim's family and other tourists who were there.

Southern range DIG M.Sivaratnam said there was suspicion that army deserters were involved in the incident and a search operation has been launched.

He said police believe the motive would have been robbery.

Meanwhile the body of the victim was brought to Colombo and would be flown back to Germany.

It is believed that the incident which was given wide publicity in Germany, would be a major set back to the tourist industry which has suffered a six per cent drop in tourist arrivals this year mainly due to terrorist activities.

Germany accounts for almost 50 per cent of the estimated annual tourist arrivals which range from 350,000 to 400,000.

A spokesperson for the Ceylon Tourist Board said they were concerned about the matter and the board would be releasing an official statement emphasizing that the incident was not an attack on tourists but one of robbery.

PS chairman under a cloud

By Hemachandra Nanayakkara

imageEight members of the Thihagoda Pradeshiya Sabha in the Matara district have filed a petition against its chairman who is alleged to have misappropriated funds amounting to Rs. 1,100,588 last week.

The petitioners including seven PA members and the opposition leader of the PS have submitted their petition to Southern Province Chief Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeyawardene alleging its chairman of embezzling funds for personal benefit. A copy of the petition has also been sent to Deputy Minister of Religious and Cultural Affairs and MP for Matara district Dallas Alaha-pperuma calling for an investigation.

They alleged that the PS chairman had been involved in many illegal activities and embezzled public funds to his advantage. The petition was signed by P. H. R. Harischandra (vice chairman), K. D. Pathiraja (Leader of Opposition of the Thiha-goda PS), Sunny Dharmasiri Gamage, Nimal Samarasinghe, Gamini Ranatunga, Nilantha Kithulgoda, S. L. M. Anura and J. Liyanaman.

SL to form new group

By Shelani de Silva

The breakaway group of the Sihala Urumaya led by S. L. Gunasekera is to form a new organisation next week to carry out the objectives which they wanted to achieve while in the party.

The organisation which will hold its inaugural meeting on January 7 will be called the "Sinhala Jathika Sangamaya".

The new organisation which will be led by S. L. Gunasekera has decided not to get involved in politics. However, Mr. Guna-sekera told The Sunday Times it would have political objectives.

"Our first goal will be to carry out a campaign against the new constitution. This will be done through seminars. We will send out groups to villages to educate the people,' he said.

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