10th March 2002

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More political pressure for fitness centre

By Harinda Vidanage

President Kumaratunga's personal Physiologist Mike Chomley operating a fitness center in Colombo has allegedly constructed a building for his fitness center without paying a fine imposed on him for 'uauthorised construction', investigations have revealed.

Mr. Chomley, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of "Life Style Fitness Lanka(Pvt)Ltd" constructed the center in the highly residential Colombo seven area without approval for it and thereafter a service charge imposed as a fine had been evaded.

In the process a senior UDA official who detected that the building had been constructed illegally and imposed the fine has been taken in by the CID for questioning due to apparent political pressure, The Sunday Times learns.

Mr. Chomley had put up the building at No 45 Marcus Fernando Mawatha while his application for construction was pending a direct violation of the UDA laws.

The backdrop to this uncovering was the requisition of a land on lease from the Sri Lanka Tennis Association by Mr. Chomley. His plan application was put to the Colombo Municipal Council for inspection, But with the former Urban Development Authority and Housing Minister Mangala Samaraweera taking reins some of the functions of the CMC were taken over by the UDA in July 2001.

The officer handling the file was under pressure to expedite the approval of the plan. Mr. Chomley's application was among some 800 other applications pending.

Accordingly a UDA official was assigned the duty of inspecting the land prior to the approval. The officer who visited the place found Mr Chomley had already finished work on a building on the land.

The UDA official keeping with regulations had imposed a Service Charge of Rs 485, 200 on the land taking into consideration the illegal construction in it. The UDA planning committee had also approved the imposing of the service charge.

However the service charge had not been paid.

The case of the non-payment of the fine imposed by the UDA comes in the wake of a similar case in which Mr. Chomely has not paid a Rs. six million advance due to the state for a land leased two years ago, but last week agreed to pay up following media exposure that the President's Physio was facing forfeiture of his lease unless he paid up.

Mr. Chomley who had received BOI approval at the time to build a health service had not paid the advance on the lease claiming that he had not been provided access to his property.

Last week Mr. Chomley had assured the Divisional Secretary George Kulatunga the money he owed the state would be paid before March 31.

The 188 perch property situated behind the Royal Colombo Golf Course is valued at Rs. 50 mn and had been obtained during the tenure of the previous government.

The value of the land has also been augmented by the construction of a bridge costing Rs. 12 mn since Mr. Chomley obtained the lease.

Dose of human rights for doctors

Amidst an intensified campaign for the welfare and empowerment of patients to be the centre piece of health services, Sri Lanka's premier medical body is taking a step in this direction.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association, celebrating its 115th Anniversary this year is focusing attention on human rights in the medical profession and the role of doctors in it.

The need for a greater input on human rights in medical education will also be taken up at a special symposium to be held on March 20, at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi. Apart from the panelists, Dr. Rohan Edrisinha, Ms Sunila Abeysekera, Dr. Nalin Suwaris, Dr. Ronald Higgins, Dr. Chris Nonis and Dr. Kamalini Silva have been invited to make presentations on how doctors could become more committed to their vocation as care givers.

Meanwhile Consumer Affairs minister Ravi Karunanayake has assured that the new consumer protection authority would take every step to provide safe, effective and good quality drugs to patients at the lowest possible cost under generic or low cost brand names.

Responding to an appeal by the Action Committee on Justice for Patients a ministry spokesperson said they would also be reviewing the full Senaka Bibile report with a view to renewing its main principles.

Prof. Bibile, hailed over the world as a prophet of people centered health care, had recommended that about 500 essential drugs under low cost generic names would be sufficient to meet Sri Lanka's needs. But his policy for the welfare of patients has now been discarded and profit making drug companies are known to be dominating the medical scene by importing up to some 10000 different brand names and virtually forcing patients to buy those expensive drugs..

PA candidate says he was brutally beaten and stripped

A PA candidate for Akurana has charged that he was beaten, kicked and stripped by a mob including a UNP parliamentarian.

Candidate M.R.R.M Farook said he and his supporters were returning after an election meeting when their vehicles were stopped in front of the politician's residence.

He said a mob armed with mammoties and clubs had forced them to get off the vehicles. Most of his supporters managed to escape but he was beaten, stripped and beaten again for about half an hour. Mr. Farook alleged that besides the parliamentarian he also identified a UNP provincial councillor and a pradeshiya sabha member in the mob.

He charged that the parliamentarian shouted at him in filth and kicked him on the head. He was then put into a police vehicle and was driven around for some time before being taken to hospital.

Even in hospital, things did not get better but worse. Mr. Farook said that when he regained consciousness and wanted to make a complaint he was informed that a counter complaint had been made against him and that he was under arrest.

CID gets tough over typo error

The UDA officer responsible for imposing a Service Charge has been hauled by the CID for what appears to be a typographical error and has been charged for an 'attempt to extort money from Mr. Chomley.

The UDA had sent the letter requesting immediate payment of the service charge of Rs. 485,200 to Mr. Chomley. After a month from the first letter the UDA had sent a second reminder. The second letter contained a typographical error.

The original charge of Rs 485,200 was typed as Rs 485,2000. (See montage) .

The error was corrected on the same day by sending an amended letter delivered by hand.

The Typist had accepted the error made by her in writing.

Soon after, the CID had detained the UDA officer who visited the land and was later charged in courts for an attempt to forge documents to extort money.

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