The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

04th August 1996




Bomb victims collect belongings

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

For the first time after a bomb attack in Colombo, the police moved into collect the belongings of the victims of the Dehiwala bomb blast and hand them over to their kith and kin.

A police officer in-charge of the large collection of items ranging from groceries to passports and shoes to pay packets said that nearly 200 persons had claimed nearly 60 per cent of goods over the past one week

Many people who had come to collect their belongings or that of their dead ones, had commended this service of the police. In most of the previous incidents a high rate of 'scavenging' was reported.

Kudu buns for breakfast

We have heard of all sorts of buns including the kimbula variety - but now comes the story of kudu buns.

A woman who allegedly brought a heroin bun to a suspect in a Police cell at Moratuwa has been

remanded by a Magistrate. The 45-year-old woman had brought a bun and a cup of tea claiming it was the breakfast for the suspect in the cell. But an alert Police officer noticed something fishy. He checked the bun and found three packets of heroin concealed in it.

Chanaka's last lines: 'Something dreadful is working ..... will I be spared?'

By Kshalini Nonis

Liberal Party Leader Chanaka Amaratunga who was killed in a motor accident on Thursday morning, had till midnight on Wednesday taken part in the final rehearsal for the play "The Dowry Hunter", producer/director Jith Peiris said.

Recalling the last moments Dr. Amaratunga spent with the cast, Mr. Peiris said the evening began at 4.00 p.m. on Wednesday when he accompanied Dr. Amaratunga to a Kollupitiya tailor for a fit on for his all white suit which he was to wear for his role as a State Councilor of the 1930s'.

"Thereafter we proceeded to the Lionel Wendt for the rehearsal. Dr. Amaratunga was his usual flamboyant self and very popular among the cast. Just before the rehearsal started, he spent some moments with Arun Dias Bandaranayake and me, discussing Sri Lankan eccentricities. It was hilarious and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly", Mr. Peiris said.

They then rehearsed the first act of the play till about 5.30 p.m. Dr. Amaratunga said he was not pleased with the pace of the play as it was slow, and during the power cut and there was a discussion about it. Thereafter they took a short break, and Dr. Amaratunga upon tasting the steak and kidney pie commented that had there been more of those the pace of the first act would have been quicker.

Thereafter they proceeded with the second act of the play and Indu Dharmasena, Arun Dias Bandaranayake and Dr. Amaratunga, in particular, excelled in their roles. It was also the first time that the back-stage crew was in the audience and they were in fits of laughter.

According to Mr. Peiris Dr. Amaratunga realized the lines he was delivering, and ironically one of his lines was "How did it happen"? To which another cast member replied, "In a motor accident". Dr. Amaratunga's lines also read, "When did it happen? Where did it happen?" In addition at the end of a long speech, he had to say, "Something dreadful is working inside me and if I'm spared.... But, will I be spared?

The play which was to be staged from yesterday, has been canceled as a mark of respect to Dr. Amaratunga. Mr. Peiris said the tragedy was a shocking blow to all of them.

Chanaka Amaratunga, born in 1958 was educated at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, University College Oxford and the London School of Economics. He was founder of the Council for Liberal Democracy and was its Secretary General until March 1989. Since 1987 he was the Leader of the Liberal Party and since 1988 he was a Vice President of the Liberal International.

Abuse of power by the CEB

By Shyamal Collure

Small and medium-scale industries have accused the Ceylon Electricity Board of throwing them from the frying pan into the fire.

Rohan Fernando, President of the small and medium-scale Industrialists Association told The Sunday Times the CEB issued disconnection warnings to several industries for non payment of bills. He said the delay in payment was due to heavy losses they have suffered due to the power cuts and the very institution which caused all the losses was now trying to penalise them.

Mr. Fernando said they were badly affected by the power crisis as many of the small and medium-scale industries did not have generators to cope with the situation. "Certain concessions were given to the large scale industries, thereby enabling them to import generators. These were not given to us. As a result we were in no way ready to tackle the problem", he pointed out.

He added that the member industries producing ice-cream, yogurt and the like had to remove all their products and thus were facing a financial crisis. The CEB is trying to throw them from the frying pan to fire, he charged.

A Cabinet Sub-committee appointed to look into the problems caused to industrialists by the power crisis recently approved a package of assistance to them. It was proposed to help these industries to obtain working capital loans particularly from State Banks and to reschedule loans taken from financial institutions. According to Mr. Fernando, even some statutory requirements have been relaxed with a view to assisting the affected industries.

"The methodology adopted by the CEB to issue Disconnection Notices without any pre-warning or red notice has prevented any form of representation being made", he said.

The Association has requested Power and Energy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte to intervene in the matter and cancel all the Disconnection Notices served indiscriminately. The Minister has been also asked to make provision to refund the surcharge and the processing charge to such customers who have already paid up under the CEB's threat.

Hard-ball politics puzzles marketing man

By M. Ismeth

"Hard-ball politics (post-election violence) which happens in Sri Lanka after an election is very rarely heard of in the US nor does it happen", said Mr. Craig Tufty.

Mr. Tufty is the head of Services for Marketing and Survey Research, Virginia, now in Sri Lanka. In a meet-the-press, discussion held on Friday at the Leader of Opposition's office he said, its rather strange to see that in Sri Lanka, with such a high rate of literacy, this hard-ball politics taking place.

The discussion was mostly to find how effective opinion polls in Sri Lanka are and whether we conduct opinion polls on marketing various products. Opinion polls are taken daily in the US and President Bill Clinton scans every morning the pollster to gauge his popularity even before he sees his wife Hillary, said Tufty.

On the effectiveness of opinion polls in the US Tufty and his associate Frederick J. Lawrence said that in the States they mostly conduct the opinion polls on the phone. It's called Tele-Marketing. Though it is a new concept it is a bit of an annoyance to whom we speak, they said. Tufty said that if people are at dinner or lunch they would cut short the conversation and tell us they are not interested in politics. We have to convince them that it's not on politics but that we want to find out how they like the new model car or the newly marketed food items.

Coming to the question of conducting an opinion poll during the time of an election, Lawrence said that the preparation of a questionnaire is very important.

The question arises whom you are going to question and what's more important the interpretation of what the person said.

With the invention of the internet and other sophisticated ways and means of communication, the world is shrinking day by day. With internet one could know what's happening in the US within minutes and vise versa though there is a time difference of about ten and half hours, said Tufty.

Killer vehicle set on fire

An eight-year-old student in Katugastota was killed when he was knocked down by a vehicle when going home after classes, police said.

Angry onlookers set the vehicle on fire after the tragedy.

The victim was identified as Mohamad Hassan of Uguressapitiya Muslim School. Another student who was walking with him, nine-year-old Fishan was also hit by the vehicle and injured. He is warded at the Kandy hospital.

Where does the waste paper go?

Government departments and other state institutions are collecting and giving all their waste paper to a businessman for export, despite a Presidential directive that all such waste paper be given to the National Paper Company for use as raw material, NPC officials said.

It is alleged that the businessman based in Maharagama is giving handsome inducements to public officials who channel the waste paper to him rather than to the NPC.

In a circular to secretaries of Ministries, heads of government departments and other state institutions, the Treasury pointed out that the NPC, the only manufacturer of paper in the public sector, had set up 20 collecting centers in and around Colombo to collect waste paper for recycling.

"However, there appears to be no system adopted by government departments and institutions to dispose of their waste paper and to channel it to the NPC for recycling. In the context of the present-day shortage of raw materials for the production of paper, it is imperative that waste paper be collected and recycled.

"The President has therefore directed me to inform you to instruct all agencies under your purview to make arrangements to collect waste paper to be handed over to the NPC from May 1, 1995 onwards," Treasury's Deputy Secretary, D.Y. Liyanage said in the circular.

But NPC officials say that for the past year, little or no waste paper has been given to the NPC and it seemed that most of the stocks were going elsewhere.

Surveyors warn Govt.

Striking surveyors have charged that the government is distributing lands without proper plans in view of the ongoing strike and warned that it could have serious repercussions.

The Association of Government Surveyors said the strike which entered its second consecutive month also had led to the delay of the construction of roads and railway lines.

The Association's Assistant Secretary K. Shanmugalingam said as it was a technical service, the effects of the strike would not be felt immediately, but in the long run.

Some 675 Government Surveyors are on strike in support of four demands, regarding salaries, a change in the field structure and other matters.

According to Mr. Shanmugalingam talks with the authorities have proved to be futile and they are hoping to meet the Prime Minister soon.

Clash in Batticaloa

STF troops on patrol at Kurukkalmadam, about 15 kms. south-east of Batticaloa, were confronted by a group of terrorists around 7.30 a.m. last Friday.

Troops retaliated forcing the terrorists to flee the area. Two STF personnel who were wounded in the confrontation were taken to the Batticaloa Hospital along with a civilian injured in the crossfire.

In a separate incident on the same day at Nelumwewa, about 6 kms south-west of Welikanda in the Polonnaruwa District, three civilians going to their paddy fields were shot dead by terrorists around 9.30 a.m.

No casualties among the forces were reported from the ongoing Operation "Sath Jaya" on Friday.

Four die: 24 down with dengue

With the outbreak of dengue fever, 24 children under twelve years are in a serious condition at the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital, according to Deputy Director of the Hospital, Dr. Harsha de Silva. Four have died earlier.

According to Dr. de Silva most of these children were from the urban areas as the dengue mosquito tends to breed mostly in these areas.

Dr. de Silva added that symptoms of the disease were high fever, headaches, vomiting and the reddish coloring of the skin. "Parents should watch the children for two to three days, and if these symptoms continue they should rush the children to the nearest hospital. However, if they are vomiting blood they should be rushed to hospital immediately", he added.

Internet:a threat say scientists

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

The Internet has become an enormous threat to community life as information on making DIY bombs to creation of high-tech explosives can be accessed easily, renowned scientist Arthur C. Clarke said last week.

Dr. Clarke added that scientists world over are trying to bring about a restriction on such information.

A web site at the Internet once created is irrevocable and there cannot be any censoring of such information passed onto these sites.

Scientists at the Colombo University say censoring portions of what is fed into the Internet is not possible and any such attempt would spell the end of Internet in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Clarke further told "The Sunday Times" that access to manuals on making explosives and pornography, may lead to the making of a new sub-culture in the near future. "Though Internet has countless advantages it is a pity that so many horrible things too are fed into Internet," he said.

Several concerned government officials warn the LTTE's powerful campaign on the Internet should be countered.

The Foreign Ministry which was highly concerned about the LTTE's web sites pledged to counter them, and two months ago the Information Department created its own website.

However, the government does not have an official web-site to counter LTTE propaganda.

A Foreign Ministry official said there were several anti-LTTE web sites but said that the government was not directly involved in it.

The official added that his Ministry thinks that open criticism of the LTTE, by the government , on Internet will only result in creating more popularity of the LTTE and therefore had decided to use different tactics.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - Another medical crisis brewing, Cell lunch for Satana editor, Devolution talks with UNP, An inimitable innings, Fowzie furious over saline fiasco, Supreme Court rules for Cornel, Manik heads Editors' Guild, Stay on plea to Anura, Open University honours two educationists, MIRJE condemns train blast

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