The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

25th August 1996




Anandatissa: 50 years of dedicated service

The remains of Dr. Anandatissa de Alwis, former Speaker and Minister of State, will be taken to Siri Kotha at 9.30 am tomorrow from his Kotte residence, for party members to pay their last respects.

From Siri Kotha the remains will be taken to Independence Square at 2.30 PM and at 4.30 PM the funeral procession will leave for Kanatte under state patronage for burial at the Roman Catholic section at 5.30 p.m.

The cremation will take place on the same day at 5 p.m. at Kanatte.

The UNP in a condolence message states that Dr. de Alwis contested and won the Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte seat in Parliament in 1977 and was elected Speaker of the House. He contributed in a large measure in shifting the Parliamentary Complex and Administrative capital to Sri Jayawardanepura Kotte. He was a pioneer member of the UNP and later as the Secretary-General of the party he rendered invaluable service. As a veteran politician he won the hearts of both his friends and opponents.

Dr. de Alwis rendered great service to the UNP from its inception. After the party's defeat in 1956 and 1970 he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring victory to the party. It was he who gave leadership to the project in bringing the UNP headquarters to the present site at Pitakotte.

He was the first editor of the UNP journal "Siyarata" and the first president of the All Ceylon UNP Youth Front. He was also youth leader who represented the All Ceylon UNP Youth League in the party working committee.

The designing of the new capital at Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte outshines all other activities that Dr. de Alwis had done for Kotte to make his name immortal. It was he who introduced television to Sri Lanka and thereby brought about a revolution in the media in the country. Lastly, President D. B.. Wijetunga appointed him as the Governor of North Western Province and during his short tenure as the Governor he maintained the high standard of decorum expected of one in this post.

The message also states that it is sad that Dr. de Alwis had left us on the verge of the golden jubilee celebrating his 50 years of dedicated service to the country.

Brokers going broke

By Chandimal Mendis

A number of stock-brokers have been given the golden hand-shake paid one-and-a half years salary as compensation and made redundant. It has all to do with the decline of the stock market, business sources said.

A director of a stock-broking firm who did not wish to be named told "The Sunday Times" the stock- broking business is running into bad times.

"It is sad to see a growing sector now in decline. Stock-broking is an index of privatisation and a way of boosting the confidence of foreign investors willing to invest here",, he said.

Trade Minister Kingsley Wickramaratne told "The Sunday Times" recently the stock market was not an adequate criterion to gauge the stability of the country's economy.

"There are only 210 companies listed in the stock exchange out of 22,000 companies in the country. It will be unfair to say the economy is weak citing the stock market",, he said.

Market capitalization as a percentage of GDP stands at 13.75 percent is Sri Lanka, other sources said.

However, Anura Wickramasinghe, Chairman of the Stock Broker's Association, said the share market although it was not too significant for the country's economy at this stage is generally perceived, not only as a barometer of confidence but also a place where companies could raise capital for giving a boost to the economy. It is also internationally acknowledged that there is an active stock exchange foreign investment on the increase. We need to make the stock exchange a significant part of the economy if it is not so at the moment".

Counsel withdraws from Commission

President's Counsel Daya Perera, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of the University of Colombo, and Mr. Ravindra Fernando have pulled out of the Special Presidential Commission inquiring into the assassination of Lalith Athulathmudali, following accusations levelled against them by an officer of the commission.

A person identified as Suriyakumaran, who is assisting the police before the commission is reported to have confronted Prof. Fernando while he was leaving a private hospital in Colombo and allegedly said, " Bloody Daya Perera, and you have accused me of being an LTTE supporter."

Mr. Daya Perera who is watching the interests of Mr. Dayantha Athulathmudali (brother of late Lalith Athulathmudali) in this commission said he would no longer assist the commission by appearing for any party.

Mr. Perera and Mr. Fernando in two separate letters to the Chairman of the Athulathmudali Commission, Justice Tissa Bandaranayake said they were pulling out as a person identified as "Suriyakumaran" who is assisting the police team of the commission has threatened them.

"Suriyakumaran" though not a policeman has been assisting the commission.

Mr. Daya Perera has said in his letter "when a member assisting the commission (Suriyakumaran) chooses to describe me in this derogatory manner" he finds it difficult to assist the commission.

Professor Fernando, in his letter to Mr. Bandaranayake, said he would be grateful if he could be relieved of any future duties in relation to the commission as Suriyakumaran is an officer assisting the commission

Mr. Perera in his letter had recalled that Suriyakumaran was in M.C. Mt. Lavinia Case No. 2976, the virtual complainant in a case of theft which he alleged had been committed by his erstwhile landlady. Daya Perera appeared, along with Desmond Fernando P. C. Mrs. Suriya Wickremasinghe and Ravi Matugama for the accused in this case.

"Mr. Suriyakumaran gave evidence and in my cross-examination I suggested, inter alia, that he was a liar and at the conclusion of his testimony, the Judge acquitted the accused stating that he was not prepared to act on Mr. Suriyakumaran's testimony. Perhaps, this is the reason why he describes me as "bloody", Daya Perera told Justice Bandaranayake.

Fleeing for life

Rameshwaram - The flow of refugees from across the Palk Strait to the Rameswaram coast is triggered by the fear of the bullet and starvation. The arrival of 724 Sri Lankan Tamils from Talaimannar district till Sunday is a fallout of harassment by militants and the Government forces.

Though there is credence to the theory that the LTTE is encouraging the people to flee the nation, in an attempt to portray the Sri Lankan Government as an 'aggressor', many factors point out that the hapless Tamils are actually fleeing for life.

A majority of the refugees are in the age group 12-35. M. Susaiappu (28) of Mulikulam, who has been staying in the Pesalai camp for the last two years.

People from outside the Pesalai camp fear the LTTE more as the militant group takes away the youth from their houses for forcible recruitment.

The refugees reaching the Rameswaram coast can be divided into two groups - those fleeing the UNHCR-controlled refugee camp and those from the civilian areas around Pesalai in Mannar district.

The exodus from the Pesalai camp started only after the UNHCR officials pleaded their inability to safeguard the lives of the inmates, albeit assuring them food, shelter and clothing,

The current influx is from a restricted area and confined to a specific age group. There is only a handful of persons above 45 years in the arrivals and children are in the majority. These refugees seem determined not to go back unless a permanent solution is found to the ethnic crisis. People like Edward (42) of Mullikulam who is coming to India for the third time, are frustrated with the happenings in their homeland. The situation, they say, has not shown any improvement after they were transhipped to Sri Lanka a couple of years ago.

- The Hindu

Girl thrown out for Minister

An angry Sri Lankan girl has accused AirLanka of virtually throwing her out of a flight to Tokyo last Sunday because a Minister was on board.

The girl who had a re-confirmed ticket to Canada via Tokyo told The Sunday Times she had been kept waiting at the BIA for several hours with AirLanka staff giving her various excuses. It was only later that she learnt she was intentionally kept out of the flight because the Minister's security division men thought she might be a security threat.

When she learnt of this on Monday the girl and her travel agent threatened to sue AirLanka for violating international travel regulations. The national carrier then quickly arranged for her to fly on Monday night on a foreign airline, said the distressed girl who is a university student in Canada.

Govt. relaxes NGO ban

By Arshad M. Hadjirin.

The government this week relaxed the month long restriction on NGOs, from operating on the borders of the Kilinochchi district, since operation Sathjaya commenced.

Resident representative, United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), Peter Meiojer, told The Sunday Times that they have been given the green light to set up their offices in areas where thousands of civilians are arriving everyday.

Thousands of internally displaced persons reached the borders of Kilinochchi as Operation Sathjaya intensified and now most of them live in jungle.

"The Sunday Times" learns that the NGOs were earlier denied permission, as there was heavy shelling in places where the civilians took refuge. According to a displaced civilian from the Kilinochchi district, there had been shelling at Mankulam, Akkaraiyan, Mallawi, Wattakatchy and Muruhandi.

Other NGOs who earlier sought permission to set up their offices in these areas are now in the process of assessing the situation. Mr. Meijer said that his officials are now in Mallawi and will start working soon.

However the government has so far not sought the assistance of these NGOs in handling an expected exodus of refugees who are to be housed in Vavuniya.

Journalists to get a new lease

By Kishali Adhikari

If moves by the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights go ahead as planned, possibilities exist for journalists convicted of criminal defamation in the country to appeal to the Geneva-based Human Rights Committee.

This is however only if the conviction is upheld by the superior court on appeal. According to procedure specified under the Optional Protocol, an aggrieved litigant can go before the Human Rights Committee only if all available domestic remedies are exhausted.

The Optional Protocol gives individuals the right to press their case before the Geneva-based Human Rights Committee if the rights allegedly violated by the state, is protected by the Covenant. Among the rights protected in this manner is the right to freedom of expression and opinion, the right to life, the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right to freedom from torture, the right to privacy and the right to freedom of association.See full story

Shell employees say it's hell

Employees of Shell Gas Company are up in arms alleging that it is acting like an octopus and trying to swallow up the whole petroleum trade in Sri Lanka.

Union sources said about 30 employees had already been retrenched, though, Shell Gas Co. had assured the Government there would be no retrenchment.

Union sources also allege that the value of the shares given to employees had been subtly reduced from Rs. 105 to Rs. 25. The employees have now started a poster campaign.

Meanwhile the direct transfer of LP gas from vessels to bowsers by Shell Gas Co. could pose a threat, port sources said. In most countries pipelines are used for this purpose.

The Sunday Times learns that the CPC oil jetty now being constructed by the Ports Authority, will be available to Shell Gas only if CPC vessels are not berthed.

Shell Gas officials claim they are not being allowed to use the CPC oil jetty since they did not purchase the gas produced by the Colombo Gas Company at the price quoted earlier.

Surveyors' pooja

The government surveyor's strike enters its 90th day on August 30 with Minister of agriculture, D.M. Jayaratne, refusing to give the Government Surveyors Association (GSA) an interview to discuss their grievances, according to members of the association.

Additional secretary of the Association, K. Shammugalingam said they had met last week several Ministers - Minister of Public Administration, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Media Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake, Fisheries Minister Indika Gunawardena, Minister of Cooperative Development Amarasiri Dodangoda - most of whom had accepted their demands on principle.

Shammugalimgam said that the association will be having a "Peace March" on August 31 starting from their headquarters in Bambalapitiya to Kataragama, and upon reaching Kataragama on September 30, they will be offering a puja, to mark the100th day of the strike.

He also said that negotiations with the Minister and GSA were last held in June and that there had been no response since then.

Devinda case: bodyguards in court on Sept. 6

The two bodyguards of the Air Force Commander's escort who are alleged to have assaulted the Chairman of Freudenburg & Co. Ltd., Devinda Senanayake on Green Path, Colombo, last March, have been ordered to appear in court on September 6.

Mr. SenanayakeÕs car which was going down Green Path on March 27 was obstructed by two motor- cyclists in civvies who blocked and assaulted the former for having overtaken their bike, it is alleged.

Police officers on duty in the vicinity rushed to the scene and stopped the assault. Mr. Senanayake suffered an eye-injury and a cut on his nose as a result.

The assailants were later found to be bodyguards of the Air Force Commander. They were produced in the Chief Magistrate's Court, Colombo four days later and the Chief Magistrate ordered the matter be referred to the Mediation Board. However Mr. Senanayake has not received any letter from the Board up to now asking him to come before it. Inquiries reveal that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has ordered the police not to send the issue to the Mediation Board.

Consequently, Mr. Senanayake filed a motion praying his case be called and when it was taken up on Thursday, the Acting Chief Magistrate, Nissanka B. Karunaratne ordered the Cinnamon Gardens police and the accused to appear in court on September 6.

Daya Perera P.C. along with Angelo Benedict and Joseph Charles watched Mr. SenanayakeÕs interests.

CPC report ready

A committee to recommend proposals for the effective management and restructuring of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation appointed by Energy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte will hand over its report today.

The committee was headed by Dr. R. Cabrall and Mr. Cyril Fonseka, Chairman CPC Anil Obeysekera had earlier instructed all heads of Departments to extend the fullest assistance and co-operation to the Committee.

However Petroleum Corporation sources claim that no committee could submit a report in 11 days.

These sources claim that investigating a corporation which was mismanaged for two years would take more time, if it is to present a comprehensive report.

WFP aid to Lanka

Asia has the largest number of people who go hungry. According to the World Food Programme (WFP) report for 1995 millions of people in remote and low-potential areas, disadvantaged tribal groups and poor women in rural areas continue to need food assistance.

Over 500 million people, 18% of the population do not get a minimum diet in Southern and Eastern Asia.

According to the report in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, people are still suffering from the consequences of man-made disasters.

The report says that the WFP helped over 19 million people in Asia, but this represented only about four percent of the hungry population.

WFP food aid to Asia amounted to over 900,000 tons in 1995.

Food-for-work projects, which continued to be dominated by land development and forestry activities, account for 74% of WFP's food assistance for development, well beyond the share recorded on other regions.

According to the report, aid given for development to Sri Lanka decreased from US $ 3.2 million in 1994 to US $ 1.2 million in 1995, while aid given by the WFP for relief in Sri Lanka increased from US $ 2.3 million in 1994 to US $ 3.5 million in 1995.

World child sex wave hits Lanka also

The shock waves from the horrifying child sex scandal in Belgium have caused concern in several countries, including Sri Lanka, with reports on Thursday that two Swedish paedophiles may be operating here.

Some 100,000 people attended a virtual state funeral in Belgium on Thursday for two girls aged two and six who had been starved to death in a cellar after being sexually assaulted by members of an international child sex gang.

The discovery led to reports that hundreds of other children, especially little girls who had disappeared in recent years from several countries in Europe and Asia, might have been kidnapped by the paedophile gang for sex or pornographic purposes.

In the aftermath of this revelation, seen by analysts as the most shattering indictment on worldwide degradation of human values, state radio in Sri Lanka said on Thursday Swedish police had alerted Colombo to the presence of two Swedish paedophiles who have been operating here for several years.

According to figures available with the Save the Children Fund which is closely monitoring the child sex wave, some one million children worldwide are believed to have been caught up by this crime ring.

It was revealed recently that high-tech methods like the computer and the Internet are being widely used to promote the most unimaginable forms of child pornography.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - Lanka moves in the 'Right' direction * Anandatissa: The man who gave UNP green

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