The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

15th September 1996




Air Force case before mediation board

The three security men 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 and the victim himself have been ordered to appear before the Mediation Board on 28th this month.

In this plaint, Mr. Senanayake alleged that his car which was going down Green Path on March 27 was blocked and he was assaulted by one of the suspects for having overtaken their bike.

The suspects were produced in the Chief Magistrate's Court, Colombo four days after the alleged incident and the Chief Magistrate ordered the matter be referred to the Mediation Board as required by law. Later, Mr. Senanayake filed a motion praying his case be called as he was not summoned before the Mediation Board.

When the case was taken up before the Colombo Chief Magistrate, Mr. Munidasa Nanayakkara on September 6, he ordered both parties to be noticed to appear before the Mediation Board on September 28. The Magistrate told the Cinnamon Gardens police that they would be responsible for seeing that both parties were properly noticed. The case will be called again on November 15.

Mr. R.I. Obeysekera, P.C. appeared for the Air Force men. President's Counsel Daya Perera along with Joseph Charles and Angelo Benedict watched Mr. Senanayake's interests.

Two sailors killed: Tiger boat damaged

Two sailors were killed and five others injured on Friday night, off the coast of Trincomalee, when Sea Tigers in two boats were confronted by a Naval patrol craft.

In the attack one Sea Tiger boat was damaged, but casualty figures are not known.

Meanwhile, according to a Defense Ministry release, a terrorist was killed in the Ampara district at Vinayagapuram on Friday morning, after a brief gun battle between security forces and the terrorists.

In another incident also on Friday, three civilians were injured in the west of Jaffna town when terrorists carried out a grenade attack on the defense lines. On Thursday night security forces ambushed and killed one terrorist at Chavakachcheri in the Jaffna district

AirLanka on the web

AirLanka will go on Internet from today (15).

Some 50 million people around the world now have access to AirLanka's flight schedules, ticketing, ground service and various other service related information.

AirLanka's Internet address on the World Wide Web is The local site for surfers would be The e-mail address is

Air Force rescues three fishermen at Jaela

Three fishermen were rescued by the Sri Lankan Air Force when their boat capsized off Pamunugama, Jaela yesterday morning, an Air Force spokesman said.

One fisherman was believed to have been picked up by another boat. Still another was washed ashore.

An Air Force 'copter sent from the Katunayake base around 1.35 a.m. did the rescues.

Protect Sri Maha Bodhi from LTTE attacks

Security around the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is woefully inadequate and the government should take steps to protect the sacred precints from threatened LTTE attacks, Maha Bodhi Society leader Gamani Jayasuriya has said in a statement.

The text of the statement is as follows:

'The news that the LTTE had planned to destroy the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura by ramming an explosives laden truck manned by a Black Tiger suicide squad has shocked not only the entire Buddhist world, but even others who value the world's heritage. For the Sri Maha Bodhi is not only sacred to all Buddhists as the only living link with the Buddha's enlightenment, but it is a part of the world's heritage as the oldest tree that has been revered for over 2000 years."

"Some time ago I wrote to the Deputy Minister of Defense about the necessity for taking special measures for the protection of the Sri Maha Bodhi. Apart from receiving an acknowledgment of my letter, I do not know what special steps, if any, were taken.

"The recent incident where a security guard received a gun-shot injury while in close proximity to the Sri Maha Bodhi - a mystery still unexplained - shows that security leaves much to be desired. The security services need to be commended for their vigilance that resulted in the timely detection of this dastardly attempt.

The Buddhist public however call upon the government to take immediate steps to see that the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi is adequately protected.

Education on the decline

Ministry study reveals shocking details, urges reforms

By Kshalini Nonis

An Education Ministry study has revealed some shocking details, one of them being that students' performance at G. C. E. O/L and A/L was on the decline.

The study which included research carried out by social scientists and the National Institute of Education also points out discriminatory distribution of Ministry resources to schools in disadvantaged areas and quality education is denied to the poorest of the poor in these areas.

Poor infrastructure, lack of basic facilities and equipment, an above all less than the required number of teachers are some of the main factors that deny quality education to students in the disadvantaged areas.

Poverty has been identified as the main factor that affects education, according to the study.

The study says that despite massive expansion in education since independence, the quality of education has suffered. Dropout rates are high and the results of the GCE O/L and GCE A/L exams remain consistently low.

A research on some of the aspects of education of the girl child by social scientist, Prof. Swarna Jayaweera, has shown certain area-wise disparities in the provision of education and participation.

While in the middle class areas in Colombo, around 90% of the boys and girls in the age group of 15-17 were in school, in remote dry zone areas in the Moneragala District, the disadvantaged villages in the Kalutara District and in the Plantations areas in Talawakele, access to education is confined to town areas, and relatively developed areas in the rural sector.

In these areas the researchers found that the overall performance was low than the expected level and this is attributed to the socio-economic environment which has been a strong determinant of performance.

The main reason for non-attendance is attributed to poverty. The National Institute of Education (NlE), research says ill-health and formal teaching approaches in the school system are some of the other reasons for non-attendance. Other reasons are social deprivation, emotional disturbances and learning problems.

Poor teacher performance and inappropriate teaching methods can also be considered as factors that affect school attendance. Especially in the disadvantaged districts, the situation is very serious.

Unlike in other South Asian countries, in Sri Lanka socio-cultural reasons play only a minor role in non-attendance.

The study also says non-school going children are the most vulnerable to abuse. They are excluded not only from the educational system but also from social integration. The study also calls for setting up of more schools for students with physical and mental disabilities. The lack of learning materials affects poor children especially, creating a wide gap between the rich and the poor.

Thus although high levels of literacy are evident in Sri Lanka the rate of school drop-outs is high, the study reveals. The study adds that according to the Census and Statistics Department non-schooling rates varies in the different ethnic groups. According to 1994 figures, the highest rate of non-schooling is seen among the Indian Tamils which is 21.3%. The rates for Sinhalese, Sri Lanka Tamils and Sri Lankan Moors are 4.2%, 7.5% and 3.6% respectively. Between 1990 and 1991, about 4.5% of the children between year 1 and 9, numbering 127,000 dropped out of the school system. However, the rate is lower among girls than boys which is 4.9%. The drop-out rates vary according to districts. The highest drop-out rate of 10.59% is in the Northern Province, and this may be due to the prevailing war situation there.

The highest drop-out rates are seen in Mannar - 37.15% and Vavuniya - 34.22%. The drop-out rates up to year 9 in Government schools in 1990-1991 was 4.37%.

According to the study, Sri Lanka is now in the process of evolving a national policy on education leading to reforms in all levels and areas in the education system to suit the emerging needs of the 21st century. lmproving the quality and relevance of basic education will be carefully pursued.

Editor wants fresh probe

Nation Today editor Azath Salley has appealed to the police chief to have his assault case investigated by another team of officers.

Mr. Salley in a letter to IGP W. B. Rajaguru said he felt the Maligawatte Police would have misdirected the court to appoint another team of officers to investigate the August 5 assault on him. Outlining the case from August 5 he said he had suffered multiple injuries in the head, thighs and arm that it was a clear attempt on his life and that a full inquiry be held.

Return of PL 480 agent

A shipping agent whose right to handle the PL 480 wheat shipment was withdrawn last year after a Sunday Times expos, has been appointed again for the same purpose by the Trade Ministry, sources said.

Last year after The Sunday Times exposed that Star Trading of Washington was continuously awarded the tender of handling the documentation and shipment of PL 480 to Sri Lanka, the government decided to do away with the tender system.

Thereafter, the embassy handled the documentation etc., thereby saving considerable foreign exchange.

Trade Minister Kingsley Wickremaratne told The Sunday Times that for the past ten years there had been just one company which had acted as the agent and the ministry revised this practice in 1995. "However, since the staff at the embassy is inadequate we have decided to appoint an agent," the Minister said. Trade sources said they believed that the approval was given because appointing an agent through tender procedures would cost a great deal in foreign exchange and the government would have no option but to increase the prices of flour and bread.

SLIC Chief: Rs. 10 million

Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Chairman Jagath Wickramasinghe has sent two letters of demand to the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., seeking compensation amounting to Rs 10 million in connection with what he claims as a defamatory news item in the 'Silumina'.

In the two letters of demand one to the ANCL Chairman and the other to the Editor of Silumina Dr. Wickramasinghe through Julius & Creasy, has stated that on July 14, this year Silumina carried an article under the headline Rs. 700 million of the Insurance Corporation gone waste.

"The said article inter alia, read: It is learnt that in view of the prohibition of depositing amounts of money exceeding Rs. 500,000 in current accounts in terms of the financial regulations of the Corporation , a highly placed official of the Corporation having suppressed matters relating to this irregular transaction, has left for Japan secretly."

Dr. Wickramasinghe has added that he went to Japan to attend the 15th Oriental Life Insurance seminar for experts with the approval of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and as no other official of the Insurance Corporation had gone to Japan during the relevant period, that the "highly placed official" was necessarily a reference to him.

More old people

Every two out of ten Sri Lankans would be in the over 60 age group in another 30 years with the increase of the country's elderly population, a survey carried out by Helpage Sri Lanka has revealed.

At present, of Sri Lanka's 18.2 million population, nine per cent (1.6 million) account for those over 60 years of age. The reason for this, according to the survey, is that traditionally our elders were respected for their wealth of knowledge and wise counsel and were held in high esteem. Therefore they were cared for and such care was available within the family, the study says.

However with the socio-economic transformation, the elders have become that most vulnerable group. The far-reaching results of the ongoing change has already seen the need for every adult in a family to be employed and contribute to the per capita income of each family, the study says.

Housemaids pay for sins of job agents

By Mohammed Qassim in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi sponsor brought his housemaid "Nuwaiza" to the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh. She was only 15 years old but her passport stated she was 32.

The Saudi employer who had spent Rs 90,000 to get this maid from the island told the mission she was not mature enough to handle the household work. The sponsor who sympathized with the maid, bought an air ticket for her.

Underage Sri Lankan housemaids, brought into the Kingdom with forged travel documents, is a major problem not only to Sri Lanka but also to Saudi employers who spend a lot of money to bring them here.

The sponsors who only see the maids on arrival, realizing they are underage then make arrangements to send them back.

Saudi regulations specifically state, housemaids employed here should be a minimum age of 30 years.

The Saudi Embassy in Colombo ensures all travel documents submitted to the mission comply with the labor laws of the host country. In spite of this unscrupulous job agents in Sri Lanka forge the documents.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, "Nuwaiza" whose name was changed in the passport from Fathima Rezana, said, was born on July 7, 1981 in Eravur, 300 kilometers from Colombo.

The sub-agent who visits her village to get girls for employment abroad had convinced her parents their 15 year old daughter could earn more than Rs. 10,000 per month from West Asia.

According to the maid, the sub agent handed her over to an agent in Colombo who pasted her photograph on a passport belonging to 32 year old "Nuwaiza". The agent had coached her into telling her name was Nuwaiza.

Another girl, Sithi Ramziya only 16 now under the care of the embassy, said Rs. 6000/- was extracted from her parents by the agent to forge her passport.

In this case, her passport bears her actual name, with the age being altered to 32. Sithi who has been in the Kingdom for only a few months told The Sunday Times, her first overseas trip was to Kuwait when she was just 13. She held a different passport then.

The Charge d'Affaires of the Saudi embassy in Colombo Abdullah Al Zahrani who was holidaying in the Kingdom told The Sunday Times, the unscrupulous job agents present genuine passports to the Saudi Consular Section in Colombo to get the entry visas stamped. The mutilation of the passports begin after the agent gets the visa stamped from the mission.

The Charge d'Affaires of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, Tikiri Bandara Maduwagedera blamed job agents and immigration officials in Colombo, for the entry of underage maids into the Kingdom. Mr. Maduwagedera said anybody could easily see the maids were not of the age mentioned in the passports.

"There is a girl Rahuma who is only 21 years and her passport shows she is 34 years. She is housed at the embassy. The immature girls cannot fit into the Saudi homes. It is generous on the part of the Saudi sponsors when they send them back at their own expense," he said.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - ARA condemns church attack, Div. Sec's decision not final, says court, Draft delay prolongs surveyors' strike, Call for allowance, Ex-service officers offer helping hand, JR at 90: no party without my wife

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