9th December 2001

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What's in a name? Ask an MP

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Family ties, more than the candidates' credentials, proved to be a deciding factor in the recent polls.

Father and son combinations have worked for two families, with Alick Aluvihare and Ranjith qualifying from Matale. Reggie and Arjuna Ranatunge also made it, the former representing Gampaha and the latter from Colombo. But outgoing Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake's son Vidura failed to make the mark though his father was returned with over 100,000 preferential votes.

UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya will enter the legislature from Gampaha while his son-in-law Naveen Dissanayake has gained entry from Nuwara Eliya.

One of the chief contenders at Wednesday's polls who emerged successful with over 250,000 preferences was Anura Bandaranaike, President Kumaratunga's brother. Two brothers from a political family in Giruwapattuwa- Mahinda and Chamal Rajapakse- have secured victory. Yasaratne Tennakoon's brother Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Vasudeva Nanayakkara's brother Hemakumara Nanayakkara have also entered parliament.

Meanwhile, the wives of two senior politicians have made successful debuts. Ronnie de Mel's wife Mallika has joined the political galaxy representing Matara while UNP strongman Festus Perera's wife Mary Larine Perera secured victory in Puttalam.

Similarly, three widows- Sumedha Gunawathie Jayasena, Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake and Ferial Ashraff- have made it to the corridors of power representing Moneragala, Kurunegala and Digamadulla respectively.

Three daughters of former legislators have re-entered the legislature. They are Dharmadasa Wanniarachchi's daughter Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Somakumari Tennakoon and Chandra Bandara's daughter Chandrani Bandara.

In keeping with tradition 12 sons of popular politicians of the two main parties have successfully contested the elections. They include Philip Gunawardane's son Dinesh Gunawardane, C. P. J. Seneviratne's son Lakshman Seneviratne, Bakeer Markar's son Imtiaz Bakeer Markar, Mahanama Samaraweera's son Mangala Samaraweera, G. V. Punchinilame's son Susantha Punchinilame, R. Premadasa's son Sajith Premadasa, Gamini Dissanyake's son Naveen Dissanayake, Christie B. Perera's son Lilantha Perera, Berty Premalal Dissanayake's son Duminda Dissanayake, R. Siyambalapitiya's son Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Lionel Gunawardane's son Sarana Gunawardane.

Nephews of some well-known legislators have re-entered the legislature. They include D. S. Senanayake's grandson and Dudley Senanayaka's nephew Rukman Senanayake, Dharmadasa Banda's nephew Ranjith Maddumabandara, A. C. S. Hameed's nephew A. H. M. Haleem, Maithripala Senanayake's nephew Tissa Karalliyadda, Vijaya Kumaratunga's nephew Jeevan Kumaratunga, Rupa Karunathilake's nephew Gayantha Karunathilake, Victor Ratnayaka's nephew Sagala Ratnayaka, Paris Perera's nephew Neomal Perera and Percy Samaraweera's nephews Ravindra and Upali Samaraweera. Cousins Mahinda and Lakshman Yapa will represent Matara, the former from the PA and the latter from the UNP.

CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman who emerged victorious is the grandson of Saumyamoorthy Thondaman known for his role as king maker.

Rauff identifies new government's priorities

By Nilika de Silva

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem yesterday pledged "to pursue peace relentlessly" while working in the UNF government.

"The people's mandate given in the face of mass scale violence, rigging and intimidation is to reject war mongering," Mr. Hakeem said identifying peace, the economy and the introduction of a new political culture as the top priorities for the new government.

In an interview with The Sunday Times he said working towards establishing a new political culture whereby the mundane politics of the past in which people were discriminated on party basis should be done away with.

Applauding the courage and commitment shown by the common man at the elections Mr. Hakeem said, "In most polling booths virtually all the votes had been cast by noon. This is something that took the ruling party by surprise."

Analysing the outcome of the elections the SLMC leader said the results would have been much better for the UNF if not for the state-sponsored harassment and outright thuggery.

He said a brief analysis of initial results indicated that 95% of the Sinhala people had rejected communalism and communal politics.

Mr. Hakeem claimed people rejected the PA's oft-repeated "Ali-Koti pact" and proved once again that they could not be fooled by scheming politicians.

Stressing on the SLMC's role as a party that had always been committed to principled politics rather than convenient politics, Mr. Hakeem said he was more interested in nation building than parochial agendas.

He said the UNP leadership was dependable in nation-building.

Monk sets political record

By Gamini Mahadura

Ven. Dr. Baddegama Samitha Thera who successfully contested the hustings on the PA ticket will go down the annals of political history as the first Buddhist monk to be elected to the legislature.

Being an LSSP member he secured the third highest in the preferential list in the Galle District with 42,120 votes to his credit. He said he entered politics to serve the suffering masses. Educated at the Baddegama Rathanasara Maha Vidyalaya and the Baddegama Rathanasara Pirivena he graduated from the Kelaniya University. He obtained his PhD in Comparative Religions and Political Science from the Lancaster University.

In 1991 he contested the Baddegama Pradeshiya Sabha on the PA ticket and was later elected a member of the Southern Provincial Council becoming the first and the only monk to have been elected to a Provincial Council.

Sri Lanka beckons tourists

Sri Lanka's tourist chiefs wasted no time yesterday in asking visitors to return to the island following a violent general election which left 46 people dead.

Wednesday's parliamentary polls resulted in a win for the former opposition UNP which will form a new government within the next few days.

But the five-week campaign and polling day were marred by killings, intimidation and ballot-rigging. The country was under an almost constant curfew for two days following the election to prevent clashes between rival political parties.

But in a statement the Sri Lanka Tourist Board said President Chandrika Kumaratunga, former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is to be the new premier, had all called for an end to violence. "All this augurs well for tourism which is a movement for peace," the statement said.

"With the election behind us and a new government elected, Sri Lanka tourism is once again geared to receiving our visiting guests without any constraints," it added.

"Tourism is an industry that brings fast returns on investment and offers an excellent opportunity for revival of economic prosperity for Sri Lanka."

The tourism industry in Sri Lanka has been in dire straits since a Tamil Tiger suicide bomb attack on the country's international airport on July 24 which left 21 people dead and destroyed 12 military and civilian planes.

That was followed by the September 11 attacks on the US, which left tourism worldwide reeling.

Latest figures show that tourist numbers to the island fell by 62 percent in September, with just 11,700 visitors compared to 31,000 last September. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs and many hotels are barely making enough money to survive. -AFP

House with 10 women

Only ten women have managed to enter the 12th parliament including three former PA ministers and one UNP deputy minister.

The three former ministers are Sumedha Jayasena, Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Ferial Ashraff. Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake was a former UNP deputy minister.

Somakumari Tennakoon and Chandrani Bandara who emerged victorious in the Wednesday's hustings were members of the 11th parliament. Chitra Manthilake, Mallika de Mel, Mary Larine Perera and Anjan Umma will enter the august assembly for the first time.

Leave houses within 2 months

The official residences of defeated MPs and ministers in the recently concluded general elections will have to be returned within two months.

A senior official of the Public Utilities Ministry said when a letter is submitted they would decide on a time frame depending on the merits of each case.

She said the ministry would take legal action against those who would not comply. However, they would be given two months' notice.

The official also said there were 200 houses in Madiwela for the MPs and if they were not sufficient action would be taken to provide accommodation at the Summit Flats.

Meanwhile, former Minister Mangala Samaraweera has written to the Public Utilities Ministry requesting time till next month, as he had no private residence.

Ducks have a field day

Six independent groups and one recognised political party are in the running for the dubious honour of obtaining the lowest number of votes in Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections.

Final results show that the unlucky seven obtained zero votes, indicating that even their own candidates did not vote for themselves at Wednesday's elections which were won by the UNP.

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