CID awaits warrant
By Tania Fernando
The CID is awaiting the open warrant issued on Thursday by a High Court Judge for the arrest of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, for his involvement in the Central Bank bomb blast.

A CID officer said they were yet to receive the warrant for the arrest.
He said the normal practice was to send the warrant to the closest police station and in this instance the warrant would be sent to the Vavuniya station.

Athas case: Bail appeal hearing re-fixed
The two revision applications filed against the Colombo High Court order refusing bail pending appeal, to the two convicted former Air Force officers in the Iqbal Athas case, came up before the Court of Appeal last Friday and was re-fixed for inquiry on November 8.

The Bench comprising Justices Raja Fernando and G.W. Edirisuriya re-fixed the matter for inquiry as the affidavit filed by the CID officer M.L. Wijesekera stating that the witnesses have been threatened and the two statements made by Mr. Iqbal Athas and his attorney T.G. Gunasekera had not been furnished to court by either of the petitioners.

Senior State Counsel P.P. Surasena brought this to the notice of court by filing the documents on Thursday. However the documents had not been annexed to the record.

Thus in view of the absence of material court directed a postponement.

SLMC dissidents to meet PM again
Another meeting between the SLMC rebel group and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to take place before the budget is presented on Wednesday, rebel parliamentarian Noordeen Mashoor said

Rebel group leader A L M Athaullah had warned the dissidents would boycott the budget also if a firm assurance was not given regarding the security and rights of the Muslims.

Mr. Athaullah told The Sunday Times he had learnt from the Prime Minister's office that a letter from Mr. Wickremesinghe was ready and would be sent shortly.

At a stormy high command meeting on Tuesday night the Athaullah faction had told the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem to stay away from the Thailand talks till the Premier gave a response. Mr. Hakeem delayed his departure for Bangkok but eventually left on Thursday morning just before the talks began.

Mr. Athaullah said later he hoped Mr. Hakeem would speak out for Muslim rights at the talks in Thailand.

Opposition against silencing of quorum bell
The Opposition has rejected a proposal by the Government to do away with the quorum bell during the budget debates stating that it is against Parliamentary procedure.

The Opposition claims that Standing Orders state at least twenty one members including the person presiding must be present and that it objects to the proposal since it is against Standing Orders.

Clause 10 of the Standing Orders reads "The quorum of the Parliament required by Article 73 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is twenty including the person presiding.

If at any time the attention of Mr. Speaker or other person is directed to the fact that a quorum is not present he shall order the division bells to be rung and if at the expiration of five minutes a quorum not be present he shall adjourn Parliament without questions".

Speaker Joseph Michael Perera said the quorum is not a serious issue at the committee stages unless a person raises the question but during the Budget proceedings the quorum is vital.

Unions seek meeting with CBK over bus co. sale
By Nilika de Silva
Following this week's sale of six cluster bus company shares to IBIS consortium, the Joint Council of Trade Unions has written to President Chandrika Kumaratunga raising concern and requesting an urgent meeting. The letter faxed on Thursday, the very day the transaction took place on the Colombo Stock Exchange, was signed by representatives of 12 trade unions, and urged the President to intervene in the matter.

"The bus system which was peoplised by the government of Prime Minister Bandaranaike in 1956, was sold today on the stock market by the UNF government," the letter stated.

"We worked hard to prevent this happening. However from now onwards we seek your intervention, and have come to a decision to discuss this matter with you," it said.

On Thursday, IBIS, a British company paid Rs. 1450 million and bought 39 percent of the shares of six cluster bus companies. Britain's Trans Bus Company and Mayflower Company of which former British PM John Major is a Director are also members of this consortium. A local partner in this venture is LATEC Engineering and Management Services Company.

The six bus companies concerned are Colombo Metropolitan, Kalutara, Gampaha, Rajarata, Sabaragamuwa and Mahanuwara.

Short-listed tenderers not qualified, says rejected firm
By Tania Fernando
A company which failed to win an Immigration Department tender, alleges that the two companies short-listed by the Tender Board for the printing of two million passports do not meet the required tender specifications.

The company which had submitted a tender for the printing of passports on behalf of a Singapore company was one of the 11 firms which had tendered.

Although the tender was called in October last year, none of the applicants have been informed of the result.

This company alleges that of the two companies short-listed, the Malaysian company has not printed passports for two countries, which was one of the specifications required in the tender documents.

It also alleges that the other company is the present printer, which it alleges has made many security breaches in the printing.

"The former Controller of Immigration had a file on this particular company due to the security breaches in the printing", an official of the eliminated company said.

He said after almost a year, his company had still not been informed that it had been eliminated and that the names of the short-listed ones have been forwarded to the Finance Ministry.

Meanwhile, Secretary to the Interior Ministry M.N. Junaid said the decision on the tender had been made by the Cabinet Appointed Tender Board.

"We have sent the sub-Cabinet Paper to the Finance Ministry for its observations", he said.

Insects and worms in rice given to refugees
By Sinniah Gurunathan
Some two thousand bags or 100 metric tonnes of rice sent by the Rehabilitation Ministry, to the Trincomalee Cooperative Society for distribution among refugees have been found unfit for human consumption.

The rice had been sent from the Kelaniya warehouse under the World Food Programme project.

The Trincomalee medical officer who inspected the rice on Friday said it was infected with worms and insects.

An angry Trincomalee parliamentarian R Sampanthan later carried a bag of this bad rice to the Government Agent, complaining that despite repeated complaints about poor quality rice the authorities were continuing to send bad stuff.

Deputy Planning Director. N. Puhendran said, later a Rehabilitation Ministry official had informed him that ten lorry loads of quality Australian rice would be sent to Trincomalee replacing the spoilt stock.

Rain-damaged roads affect traffic flow
By Nilika de Silva
Heavy rains have resulted in damaged roads leading to traffic congestion in certain parts of Colombo city and its suburbs, Colombo Traffic Police said.

DIG Traffic Daya Jayasundera told The Sunday Times he had instructed the Division Traffic OICs to meet Road Development Authority officials and get the roads done up.
The damage to road surface and traffic lights has been extensive, he said.

SSP Traffic Alfred Wijewardena said his officers had collected data regarding potholes and other damages on the roads and had informed the CMC and RDA works division to take steps regarding them.

The worst affected areas are Prince of Wales Avenue, Cotta Road and Mattakkuliya where the new bridge connects Hendala, SSP Wijewardena said.

In Pettah, Baseline Road, Dematagoda and surrounding areas repairing of traffic lights has not been effected despite the CMC and RDA having been informed, he said.

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