11th February 2001

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Move to spread strike

By S.S.Selvanayagam

Assistant and Registered Medical Officers serving in the war-torn North-East are set to extend trade union action to the other parts of the island too.

K. M. Zuhair, President of the Society of Registered and Assistant Medical Officers (SRAMO) said yesterday a decision in this regard would be taken at a meeting today.

AMOs and RMOs have been on strike since Monday, protesting against alleged discriminatory treatment meted out to them.

The AMOs and RMOs are demanding that they too be given risk allowances and other facilities that doctors are given.


Tongue in cheek talk

At the press conference held at the BMICH, Salaries Commission Chairman Tissa Devendra told journalists to be patient for a few minutes until some others came and added," don't worry we have arranged everything for you".

After the conference was over Mr. Devendra told the journalists "now come and have some tea, otherwise you will go back and write that you were not given anything." Come, come Mr. Devendra, that is not expected from a senior civil servant.

You will fall into the category of the politician who said any journalsit canbe bought over by a bottle of arrack and lives to regret that comment.

Some have all the luck

The pot bellied lover has had many a fling at different times. Some of the fair ones have been provided with a vehicle to attend English classes, one working in the Gulf was given a flat and a faithful driver was given a flat in Borella, closer home for his services rendered such as picking up and dropping off the love birds.

Not like the grandpa

Arumugam Thondaman, has yet to learn how his grandfather dealt with the media, being always accessible and having a word of praise for journalists. His grandson, however, does not appear to be a patch on the grand old man. Recently at a conference held in Badulla by him he got his security men to throw out the journalists who were present.

The grand old man would have given his grandson an earwarmer.

Shaven head an added strength

The one from down South who visited Tirupathi recently to fulfill a vow, as published in The Sunday Times last week has now returned with a shaven head.

With added strength, he did perform his best in Parliament as requested by the high ups keeping on disturbing the JVP speaker.

He did so for a full 45 minutes, compelling the young speaker to complain to the Speaker, in the end.

Lions and garandiyas

With the battle between Ministers Anuruddha Ratwatte and D. M. Jayaratne hotting up over the allegations of election violence during the last general election, Minister Jayaratne was heard telling his loyalists that President Kumaratunga will not harm any 'garandiya', instead she will be hunting for the lion (referring to Minister Ratwatte) who is in hiding.

Ironically, at a press conference following the election last year, Minister Ratwatte, answering a question as to whether he will harm Minister Jayaratne said, ' Why should I harm any sleeping garandiyas ' !!!

No room for the lady

The problem of the lack of space to accommodate the jumbo Cabinet seems to be still unsolved as the Government is unable to provide all its ministers even with a chamber in Parliament. Four months after the appointment of the Cabinet, the Government has failed to find room to accommodate its members. Minister of Development and Reconstruction of the East and Rural Housing Mrs. Ferial Ashraff, who went to Parliament for the first time last Friday after the four months and ten days mourning period, was left without a chamber/office room. When inquiries were made, Parliamentary officials said that no arrangement had been made as yet to accommodate the minister.

Battle of blues

Ratwatte-Jayaratne clash hots up

By Shelani de Silva

People's Alliance General Secretary D M Jayaratne has called on the President to first hold an inquiry into the complaint he lodged against Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte about malpractices during the general election.

Minister Jayaratne's request comes less than a week after Minister Ratwatte called for a disciplinary inquiry against Mr. Jayaratne for comments made by him during and after the general election.

Mr. Jayaratne told The Sunday Times it was he who first made a complaint, thus an investigation should be first carried out on his complaint.

"I am ready to face any inquiry but first my complaint should be investigated. I acted according to party principles and to safeguard the dignity of the President. I stand by my statements," he said.

Last week Gen. Ratwatte in a letter to President Kumaratunga said the allegations levelled against him were damaging to the Government and requested that Mr. Jayaratne be summoned to give evidence at the disciplinary inquiry.

However Mr. Jayaratne said he had ample evidence to prove his allegations.

"When the need arises I will speak out. I have vital information about all the violence that took place. The President and the people of Kandy know what took place. What took place did not ruin my political career or harm me in any way but only brought bloodshed to the district," he said.

He said he was not aware of the Kandy SLFP organisers' meeting, after which the letter was sent to the President calling for a disciplinary inquiry against him.

"The meeting is not valid, they have already done many such things which are irregular. I am the only SLFP member who was in the group which formed the Kandy SLFP organisation in 1951. Minister Ratwatte was in the UNP. It was I and a few other SLFPers who called on him to join the party because we had 25 members and the UNP had 13. I promised Mr. Ratwatte the mayorship if he joined us.

To obtain the post Mr. Ratwatte joined us, but later one of our members crossed over claiming that he had done more for the party and he deserved the post. Eventually, we did not get the mayorship.

That was his beginning," Mr. Jayaratne said.

UNP will press Govt to clean up its act or resign

The UNP will keep up the pressure on the Government calling for its resignation or urging it to take remedial steps to minimize corruption and malpractices and bring down the rising cost of living.

As part of its programme the party has called for a national day of public agitation in March to pressurize the PA government to step down.

UNP Chairman Karu Jayasuriya describing this week's six day long protest campaign by the party as a success said that 'people's power' was displayed during the campaign and added that people will join in more protests if the government fails to take remedial steps.

'We used a very peaceful means to show the protest of the people against an illegally elected government. The public servants are being harassed. There is so much of corruption and unnecessary expenditure by the government, including the import of duty free vehicles', he said.

Winding up the protest compaign which started from Kandy, opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told the protesters that he intended giving notice to the Government by marching from Kandy to Colombo with 100,000 followers and claimed that next time he would march with 500, 000 which would effectively mark the end of the PA administration.

'They have mounted water cannon fearing that we would march to her residence. You can sleep, rest assured, for a little while, because this is only a serving notice. Next time, the President must depart' he said.

Mr. Wickremesinghe warned that the country had only seven weeks of foreign exchange remaining and called upon the government to take immediate action to ensure more economic stability in the country. The UNP leader censured the PA leader for constructing a multi-billion rupee palace for herself when the country was in peril and called upon the people to forcibly prevent further work squandering public money at a crucial time.

He contended that if not for the democratic transition of power in 1994 and the UNP's willingness to bow down to the public verdict and return to the opposition benches, there couldn't have been a PA government.

'When several political parties urged me to set up a coalition government, I refused because the public did not want a UNP government at that time, so I opted to hand over the reins of power to the PA. And today, the people want us to send the same government home for damning this nation, and this is what we shall do with a series of protests' he said.

A public petition bearing approximately 500,000 signatures was presented to the UNP leader by the Jathika Yovun Peramuna leaders at the rally.

UNP MP A.R.M. Cadar who was one of the main organisers of the march told The Sunday Times that the party would plan more campaigns in the coming few months and members have pledged to back the party.

Troubled journey for Dharma Yathra

The Veera Rohana Dharma Yathra which set forth to invoke blessings on soldiers fighting to save Sri Lanka from LTTE terrorism, faced problems when it ran aground wedged between rocks off Ranwala Meekirigama on Thursday.

When repeated attempts at dislodging the vessel failed, frantic officials had to think of other methods to overcome the problem.

Finally the organisers were forced to dismantle the structures on board the raft and transfer them on to rafts used for transporting river sand to pass this point.

Villagers of Ranwala Meekirigama say the raft had run aground due to the anger of the "Ranwala Deviyo", who had not been prayed to. They hurriedly organised a gihi pirith (lay pirith chanting) on Friday night on the banks of the Kelani Ganga, close to a hundred year old kumbuk tree where offerings to the Ranwala god were made.

Villagers also said the people were disappointed that repeated requests from governments to build a bridge at Ranwala had fallen on deaf ears. Former Prime Minister late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, late Mr. Felix Dias Banadaranaike and now President Kumaratunga had ignored the request.

Yesterday the raft was to set off from Hanwella at 11.30 a.m. making its way to Nawagamuwa, Kaduwela where a pirith chanting ceremony was to be held.

Yogarajan new CWC MP

CWC member Y. Yogarajan will replace National List member K. Marimuttu in parliament, party sources said yesterday.

Mr. Marimuttu is quitting his seat to take up a diplomatic posting in Jordan. 

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