The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

01st, September 1996



Local Govt. polls postponed again

By Kumarasiri Hettige

Local Government elections which were expected to be held shortly is now likely to be postponed for next year, political sources said.

People's Alliance General Secretary and Agriculture Minister, D.M. Jayaratne when contacted said it is a strong possibility that the polls would be delayed due to the security situation.

'The Sunday Times' learns that one of the main reasons for the delay in polls is that the Government would need some 55,000 police and security personnel for the conduct of elections, due to be held for all areas, except north and east.

Mr. Jayaratna said that PA district organizers had wanted the local elections before the end of the year, but security has been the problem.

The term of local government bodies which ended earlier has already been extended until December 31. Under emergency regulations these polls could be further postponed by the President.

Earlier, President Chandrika Kumaratunga told her party organizers to be prepared for local polls and they were likely to be held next month.

Both the PA and UNP unofficially launched their campaigns by addressing public rallies in various parts of the country.

However most other parties were awaiting a government announcement on the polls.

The polls would be the acid test for the PA after it came to power in 1994. This was the first election they were to face since coming to power.

Kandy election list doctored charges officer

By Shane Seneviratne

A UNP organizer in Kandy has charged that pro-government Gramasevaka officers are doctoring election lists to keep the names of UNP supporters out.

Kesara Senanayake, UNP chief organizer for the Kandy District said they were closely watching the situation and would take suitable action.

He said UNP was organizing all its fronts in preparation for upcoming elections to local bodies or even a general election.

He said that instead of fulfilling promises and showing results the PA was taking cover under commissions of inquiry.

DUN(L)F reviews its position

The DUN(L)F has so far not decided whether it would contest the proposed local elections as a coalition partner of the PA or as a separate party.

Party leader Srimani Athulathmudali said a decision would be taken after the elections are announced.

Differences between the DUN(L)F and the government have surfaced during the past few months over a number of issues ranging from transport ministry problems to telephone tapping.

Meanwhile, Ms. Athulathmudali said her party would continue to stand by the call for a National Government.

"As there are various minority groups in Sri Lanka all getting together to participate in governance would be appropriate," she said.

"After we deal with the terrorist problem we can go back to the party system where there will be a good opposition and a government," Ms. Athulathmudali said.

Torture victim dies after 7 years

A youth who had been brutally assaulted, allegedly by security personnel in 1989, suffered for seven years in hospital and died recently, an inquest was told.

The youth U. G. Chandraratne (35) of Imaduwa had been brutally assaulted by some military men during the reign of terror in 1989, his mother Gunawathie said.

She told at the inquest her son had been warded in various sections of the Karapitiya Hospital and had suffered severely till he died.

Farmers protest against Nestle Lanka

By Asantha Sirimanne

Farmers in the Matale and Madulkelle areas are protesting against a move to halt milk collection by Nestle Lanka.

Farmers traveled to the Nestle factory in Pannala to register their protest.

These two areas have been providing around 90,000 liters of milk monthly and over 2000 farmers are registered to supply milk to the company.

The chilling center where milk is stored before transport to the factory, located in Matale town, has been asked to close down by the Environmental Authority.

Officials of Nestle Lanka say it is not economical to continue milk collection in these areas because of law milk yield. The company also faces competition from MILCO, which collects milk in Matale.

Meanwhile, Nestle Lanka may be forced to cut production and phase out milk collection in other areas where low milk yields make collection uneconomical.

Liquor dealers want govt. Surveyor to verify distances

The All Island Licensed Liquor Dealers' Association prefers government or court surveyor to determine the distances when issuing liquor licenses. They should indicate that the distances from places of worship and schools are 100 meters and 500 meters in locating liquor outlets.

The association is not satisfied with certificates which have been submitted and they should be scrutinized by a government or court surveyor, the association said in a statement.

Complaints have been received by the association from its members regarding this matter and have alleged that the Excise Commissioner has issued liquor licenses violating the distance rules in August, allegedly on political interference.

"There is neither competency nor maturity of understanding in the drawing of guidelines and conditions. There are certain type of liquor licenses where guidelines and conditions are not applicable. For instance, Tourist Board approved restaurants and hotels can be sited anywhere even close to places of worship and educational institutions. It states that any tourist or local could enjoy a drink close to places of worship and schools," the Association said.

The association has called upon the government to replace certain obnoxious guidelines with a more rational and practical set of rules.

Woman with many names

A 40 year old Tamil woman, alleged to have giving several Muslim and Sinhala names when confronted by officers manning a road block at Madolkele, on the Kabaragala road in the Panwila police area, was taken into custody on August 16.

The woman working in an estate later identified herself as a Muslim, by the name Nisham Siththi and again had given several Sinhala names, on which she had operated on different occasions.

She had a Muslim woman's passport when she came to Sri Lanka after a foreign trip.

Police found that she has come here from Tamilnadu on a passport calling herself as Muslim refugee. She had spent 6 years in Tamilnadu. Police believe that she is from Akkaraipattu area, and a Tamil resident.

She was produced before Panwila Magistrate D. M. Siriwardena on August 17 who ordered that she be remanded till Aug. 29 but when she was again produced before the Magistrate, police said that they had not completed investigations. The Magistrate ordered that she be further remanded till September 12.

Woman with mines jailed

A woman who was arrested with five powerful pressure mines while awaiting to board a train from Vavuniya to Colombo, was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment after she pleaded guilty in Colombo High Court.

The woman, Selvaratnam Selvarani was arrested at the Vavuniya railway station by a woman soldier who had felt suspicious about her movements.

She was arrested on June 2, 1995.

The soldier, Nilmini Hettige, had checked the bag of the woman and detected the mines.

The accused had been in remand for more than one year.

Watch out for buffalo meat

Large stocks of illicitly slaughtered buffalo meat are brought into the Kandy market and sold as beef, consumers alleged. This beef is sold to unsuspecting consumers, leading tourist hotels and grocery shops. The Kandy M.O.H. and the Municipal veterinary surgeon should get their officers to round up the miscreants, consumers say.

Shady land deals

Moves by the Kandy Municipality to distribute 10 perches each of land to 29 members of the council, are likely to cause a rumpus. Arrangements to grant the land, have been finalized, council sources said. Municipal rules prohibit the granting of any land without the express sanction of the mayor. But it is alleged that two high officials of the council have already been granted land without such a sanction.


Late as usual

Hundreds of Air Lanka passengers were let down again by the airline when they were kept for hours at airports before boarding the flights.

The Air Lanka flight UL161 due to leave Colombo at 9.30 a.m. for Trivandrum yesterday had been rescheduled for 7 a.m. today. When angry passengers made inquiries they were told that they were forced to wait for some transit passengers coming from Bahrain, Doha on Air Lanka flight.

The flight from Bahrain, Doha, UL 202 was originally due in Colombo at 7.30 a.m. yesterday, but had been delayed until 1.40 a.m. today. As a result of the 16 hour delay many persons who called over at the airport to accompany their friends or relations were also stranded.

An AirLanka official in Colombo last night confirmed these delays and said that the flight from Bahrain was held up due to a technical problem and the Trivandrum flight was held up as they had to carry some of the transit passengers from Bahrain.

President's fund foots the bill

The statue of Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne at Kadawatha Junction, pulled down by an unidentified group, is to be renovated with money allocated from the President's Fund.

The reconstruction work on the statue will begin tomorrow morning

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - 'Work for a just political solution', "Pandora's Package"

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