The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

13th, October 1996




Driving discipline into drivers

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

A new set of traffic rules, designed to make a better man at the wheel, will come into force in January next year.

A Transport Ministry spokesman said the rules were in keeping with the code systems of advanced countries. A panel of experts has advocated a points system by which a driver breaking the rules will have his license suspended.

A driver breaking a rule will get a 'de-merit' point and 24 such points qualifies him for suspension.

The points scheme: failure to obey traffic lights - 4; driving under the influence of liquor - 12; failing to keep left - 4; accidents 4. Once a driver accumulates 24 points his license will be suspended. However a warning will be issued when a driver hits 20 points.

SSP Camillus Abeygoonewardene, Director of Traffic Administration and Road Safety pointed out that in August, police detected about 1800 speeding offenses along Galle road, Kandy road and Negombo road. Around 112 cases of driving after alcohol were also detected.

The new system, also has its share of incentives, which offers drivers the chance to redeem their suspended license, by proving a good track record over 6 months. If a driver continues like this for 24 months, all his past offenses are wiped out.

Meanwhile the CMT will conduct special training programs for drivers who, repeatedly get their licenses suspended. The new rules will mould a highly disciplined driver who will not be a terror on the highways of Sri Lanka. The rules are for the driver's benefit, the spokesman said.

Anura talks to Amnesty on Lanka violence

UNP MP Anura Bandaranaike presently on an European tour discussed political violence in Sri Lanka with particular reference to the recent killings in Negombo with human rights officials..

UNP party Chairman Karu Jayasuriya who was with Mr. Bandaranaike, called at the Amnesty International Secretariat in London on Monday (October 7), and were met by Amnesty's Asia and Pacific Director Rory Mungoven and Sri Lanka Desk Officer Ingrid Massage.

It was revealed at the meeting that the number of disappearances in Sri Lanka was second only to similar cases in Sudan and ahead of those in Burma which is under a military dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankans in Frankfurt heard Mr. Bandaranaike in a lecture titled 'Whither Sri Lanka?' last week.

Greasing the poll

By Percy Lionel Jayawickrema

The Election Commissioners Department has taken steps to call for suggestions from the public to rectify the errors that are generally being caused during the preparation of the voters lists.

According to Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, although vast expenses are incurred by the government annually in the preparation of new voters lists, public complaints are pouring in to the department regarding the errors and lapses that are observed in them.

As part of a survey now conducted in this connection, a batch of selected voters are expected to answer 10 questions submitted to them by the department. The printed questionnaire has already been posted to the chief occupant of five households affiliated to each polling station island wide.

In the questionnaire special preference has been given to those areas that deal with such aspects as ascertaining the confidentiality of the personal information supplied by the voter; whether the functions allotted to the Grama Niladharis are performed accordingly or whether the representatives of the politicians are having any undue influence over these matters.

By way of elaboration Deputy Commissioner A.D. de Silva told "The Sunday Times" that the results of the present survey should help remove the existing lapses and avoid errors that might come up in the preparation of the next voters list.

While an opportunity has been afforded for the voters to answer the questions independently and without hesitation, the department would not expect to verify the identity of the persons who answered them, he said.

Incentive for public servants

The Minister of Public Administration has decided to get Cabinet approval to obtain a supplementary vote from the treasury to pay an incentive allowance to the public servants in the North-East Province.

Public servants now engaged in the civil administration in the Jaffna district are also eligible for this allowance, from July to December this year.

The North-East Provincial Council now requires around Rs. 500 million to pay this allowance.

The Public Administration Ministry has now prepared a memorandum to this effect and forwarded to the Cabinet for approval.

Medical experts seek crackdown on bad food

A powerful government agency to scientifically check and take stern action against hotels or others selling unhygienic or contaminated food, has been proposed by medical experts.

Addressing journalists at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo Medical Faculty chief Nandadasa Kodagoda said the proposed agency should have the power to shut down five-star hotels or small tea boutiques that do not maintain the specified hygienic standards for food.

He said anybody should have access to this central agency and prompt action taken on complaints with experts carrying out chemical tests if necessary.

He also warned that some Chinese food had in recent times been found to contain a bacteria named Bacillus Cereus and precautions needed to be taken.

Dr. Kodagoda said chemicals, including preservatives, additives or coloring material could turn out to be poisonous in foods. Sometimes food was transported or stored along with chemicals, at other times chemicals in cooking utensils could contaminate the food.

Dr. Shyam Fernando, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine said a stomach infection might show symptoms 12 to 14 hours after a meal but chemical poisons could cause problems within two hours.

Students stall technical move

Students at a Technical College in Kandy have protested against the removal of nearly two million rupees worth of equipment from the College to a Technical Training Center in Colombo.

The items donated by the World Bank to the Arupola Technical College include refrigerators, sewing and washing machines.

The students stuck posters all over the parapet wall around the Training Institute bearing slogans protesting the removal of the expensive equipment to Colombo.

Officials have temporarily suspended the move to transfer the equipment, an official of the Training Institute said.

Top award for ST artist

Mohan Samaranayake a 'Sunday Times' artist has won the first prize in a computer graphic poster competition conducted by the C.T.C. Eagle Insurance Company. The competition was held as part of a campaign to take the message of safety from home to home and village to village.

Twenty-year-old Mohan from Moratuwa, who has been working in the 'Sunday Times' for more than two years, received his first prize from Media Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake at a ceremony held at the Russian Cultural Center, Colombo yesterday.

Mohan's computer poster and the winning entries are on show at an exhibition at the National Art Gallery from Thursday till today.

Tamil-Sinhala teachers losing their jobs

Teachers who teach Sinhala language to Tamil students in north-eastern schools are to be discontinued from the end of this year as the Ministry of Education has not approved these appointments.

These teachers were appointed three years ago.

Meanwhile Provincial Education Ministry Secretary Sundaram Divakalala has instructed Directors of Education in the province to have correspondence with Tamil and Muslim teachers in the Tamil language and in Sinhala with Sinhala teachers.

He has brought to the notice of his officials that most of the Directors of Education are having correspondence with teachers in the English language. In the NE-Provincial Council Tamil and Sinhala are considered official languages and all Directors of Education should ensure the usage of Tamil and Sinhala in their official work, he has said.

Union queries

A probe on an alleged irregularity in the payment of a pension to the Vice Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board is being demanded by the powerful engineer's union.

An official of the union said the Vice Chairman had retired before the specified date and was not entitled to a pension. But some influence appears to have been used to get it for him.

Women back peace in black again

A second Black Protest organized by the Women for Peace will be held on Friday at the Lipton Circus from 5 to 6 p.m.

This is part of a series of protests, launched island wide to unite ethnic communities and bring the main parties in the country to return to the peace process.

Women for Peace reiterate the need for collective conscious responsibility on the part of both the PA and the UNP and urge them to work towards the resolution of National uses politically in a truly non-partisan spirit.

The group extends its invitation to women of all ethnic and social classes to join them in their quest.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - CRM dismayed by alleged speech of President condemning violence, Company shows its gas say dealers Kandy MC disrupts sale of newspapers, Lightning strikes MP, Refugee status: Lanka warns world community, Service medals: Navy seniors left out, Tiger buses to boost revenue, IPU assures to look into Jayalath's case, Discussion, 'Firewood ban will make tasteless tea'

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