The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

14th July 1996




Probe on Israeli vessel

Queries have been raised at the parliamentary consultative committee on foreign affairs about an Israeli ship which entered Colombo Port with a consignment of lethal weapons without declaring that the vessel carried dangerous cargo.

SLMC's M.M. Zuhair said the vessel MV. Alexandra had violated Customs regulations by entering the Port without declaring the cargo.

He said there was suspicion whether the cargo would go to the legitimate hands as described by the authorities of the vessel in view of previous incidents where Israelis supplied weapons to the LTTE.

He called upon the government to confiscate both the vessel and the cargo and use them in the Northern war effort. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said the government would take appropriate steps at the end of investigations now being conducted.

Death of Senior journalist

Senior journalist Aloy Perera who worked on several national newspapers died suddenly on Friday. He was 49.

During his 22 years in journalism, Ranjith Aloysious Perera worked first on the Daily News, then at The Island and at The Sunday Times before finally going back to the Island.

He was regarded as one of Lanka's top investigative sports reporters and colleagues remember especially his scoop on M.J.M. Lafir's emergence as world billiards Champion at the Bombay tournament in the '70s.

Aloy, as he was widely known, in the newspaper world also took and interest in foreign affairs and magic. He was always full of confidence and boundless energy, sometimes trekking miles to get a job done. The funeral took place at Kanatte yesterday morning. May he rest in peace.

Bombers targeted Twin-Towers

By Shyamal Collure and Ratnapala Gamage

The Twin Towers in Fort which house the Board of Investment, was believed to be the target of the LTTE suicide bomber who has been arrested along with 100 kilograms of explosives.

The modus operandi of the Tigers had been to plant the explosives in a van and drive it close to the target as lorries and heavy vehicles are not allowed into the Fort area, following the Central Bank explosion on January 31, according to a senior police spokesman.

The explosives packed into eight small metal containers were to be placed on the side panels of the van. The Tigers used a similar device in their abortive attempt to carry out an explosion at the Bandaranaike International Airport last year.

Eight suspects, including the suicide bomber who was arrested at a police road block at Bambalapitiya were, being interrogated yesterday for further information about LTTE activities and their plans.

The police also recovered from the house at Wellawatta a T-56 automatic rifle, a pistol, 50 rounds of ammunition and a detonator.

A senior police officer, who did not want to be named, said that by attacking the twin towers which houses the BOI, they planned to scare away foreign investors.

The discovery of arms, was a major breakthrough into the LTTE activities in the Colombo city.

Doctor's recipe spells misery

"The team which you coordinated will be responsible for new loads of misery on our people and for the comeback of the JVP", states Fr. Paul Caspersz in a letter to Dr. Lal Jayawardena, in reference to the recommendations made to the government by a team of local and World Bank economic experts.

'The Sunday Times' of July 7 carried in its lead story titled 'Report proposes tough economic measures' - recommendations by experts coordinated by Dr. Jayawardena.

Fr. Caspercz in his letter of July 7 states, "I can hardly believe the first page report in today's 'Times' about economic reforms. What an ignominious and pernicious surrender to the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and, in your case, despite WIDER's criticism of the policies. I expect you have also seen Hans Singer's criticism, also criticism of Charles Abeysekera et al.

If what 'Times' report is correct, the team which you are said to have coordinated will be responsible for new loads of misery on our people and for the comeback of the JVP!

Police in glove with criminals

An alleged link between Police and criminal elements in the kasippu trade has been exposed with the arrest of three policemen on bribery charges at Yakkalamulla in the Galle District, bribery detectives said.

They said one of the policemen arrested, had tried to swallow two Rs. 1,000 notes allegedly offered to him by the kasippu dealer. But the bribery men warned him, he would be taken for a medical scan and the policeman spat out the notes.

In a serious follow-up incident, it is alleged that the informants who gave the tip-off regarding bribe-taking have received death threats.

JR says no regrets

Former President J. R. Jayewardene, creator of the executive presidency, and holder of that powerful office for 10 years, has defended the system and said much of the criticism is through ignorance.

Interviewed by The Sunday Times, Mr. Jayewardene gave short but strong answers. Excerpts:

Q: There is much criticism about the Executive Presidential system of Government. What are your comments ?

A: The criticism is through ignorance.

Q: What made you think of the executive presidential system of Government for this country? In which countries has it worked?

A: In the US and France.

Q: Don't you even now feel that the presidential system gives unlimited power to an individual.

A: No.

Q: Isn't it a monster you created?


A double for Kadi

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who has won the hearts of all he met has this time scored a double by winning the hearts of the Indian journalists after a press conference held in New Delhi recently. The Minister had a cuppa with the journalists after the conference.

This is how an Indian journalist reported in the Indian Sunday Times:

I would require some effort to recall the last time a visiting foreign dignitary stayed on for a relaxed cup of tea with journalists after a press conference. But Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar proved a remarkable exception. He stayed on for his cuppa chatting with the media for quite a while.

Before leaving he shook hands with every news person present, taking care to thank the ones who had asked him questions. And then he moved to the Indian officials and finally, even the catering staff at Vigyan Bhavan. "That is how Sri Lankans are", remarked a senior diplomatic correspondent.

Lankan surgeon invents low cost safety lamp

With millions of homes even in urban areas now using kerosene lamps because of the power cuts at night, a leading consultant surgeon in Colombo has devised a low cost safety lamp to minimise burn accidents.

Even before the power crisis, some one million homes in Sri Lanka especially in village areas were known to be using kerosene lamps. Many poor families use home-made Iamps - just a tin with a wick. When toppled or pulled by a child or an elderly person, the kerosene fire has caused severe burn injuries.

The new safety lamp has been devised by Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura, Consultant Surgeon at the Sri Lanka National Hospital. It is a short, heavy and hard bottle with flat sides which will not roll even if toppled. The screw-on matal lid prevents the oil from spilling.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association is marketing this safety lamp at a reasonable price of Rs. 10/-. It could be bought by the public at the SLMA office, No. 6, Wijerama Mawatha, off Ward Place, Colombo 7.

Coincidentally a small report regarding Dr. Godakumbura's invention appeared in the Reader's Digest last month.

Dirty crisis deepens

Businessmen in Urugodawatte who complained that the Kolonnawa Urban Council was not providing them with the basic amenities will meet later this month to decide on the course of action they will take to solve their problems.

Six companies in Urugodawatte complained that they were working under trying conditions. They said that due to water stagnation the drains were blocked in the entire complex and garbage not collected. The main access road was in disrepair. They also complained that there was an illegal slaughter house in the area, and the burning of hide gave out an unbearable stench.

Meanwhile, Kolonnawa UC Chairman C. Dias maintained that garbage was collected on a regular basis and denied that there was an illegal slaughter house in the area. "There may be the slaughter of animals, but this is a matter that must dealt with by the police", he said.

He also added that the access road came under the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and therefore the UC cannot take any action until it is handed over to them.

Mr. Dias also said that he was meeting the valuer, together with the businessmen on Monday.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - Sirima caught in package trap, State media in the dock, UNP tells President to quit on broken promise

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