The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

10th November 1996




Lankan scientist in Nobel class academy

A 32-year-old Sri Lankan has been appointed to the New York Academy of Sciences, a highly prestigious body of professionals in the world.

Sri Lankan born Niranjana Mapitigama, a Computer Scientist by profession became the newest member of this highly acclaimed group in New York recently.

Head Quartered in New York, USA the New York Academy of Sciences which has an extremely limited membership of Nobel Class Scientists, hand picks its members around the world.

Mr. Mapitigama is widely known in professional circles as one of the world's top computer professionals in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and Relational Database Management System.

Mr. Mapitigama who had a research partnership with Chris Date and Edgar Codd, the pioneers of the world famous "Relational Data Model" is presently working towards an automated version control system in Relational Databases, utilizing Artificial Intelligence.

He is currently a Senior Consultant, Department of Information Technology at National Decision Systems in New Jersey, U.S.A.

Chairman in hiding: PS defunct

The administration of Eravurpattu Pradeshiya Sabha in the Batticaloa District is defunct as its Chairman and Vice Chairman have gone into hiding after an alleged threat on their lives, government has been informed. The Secretary of the Sabha has sent a report to the Commissioner of Local Government in this regard.

CMC settles Rs. 300m bank overdraft

By Kumaradasa Wagista

The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has got rid of an outstanding financial problem by settling a Rs. 300 million bank overdraft which existed for the last ten years. CMC paid a little over Rs. 50,000/- a month as interest on the overdraft.

Settling of the overdraft was possible in response to a decision made by Mayor K. Ganeshalingam to collect arrears of rates and taxes from rate payers before estimates for the forthcoming budget are prepared.

Opposition Leader Ananda Premasinghe congratulated the Mayor for taking steps to redeem the overdraft. He expected increased welfare facilities from the Mayor through the budget proposals.

Mr. Ganeshalingam said he was hoping to open a commercial bank run by CMC to serve rate payer banking needs.

Meanwhile UNP's Omar Z. Kamil successfully moved a resolution requesting the Mayor to screen the base of assessing property, as more than 30,000 rate payers had objected to the recent revision of annual values by the CMC. Also there was much heartburn among rate payers as there was no panel for them to appeal. Most rate payers were not in a position to go for litigation as it was costly.

A resolution requesting the CMC to allocate funds in the forthcoming budget for the construction of a storage tank to distribute water to rate payers in Wanathamulla, Dematagoda and Borella North wards was also accepted. It was moved by UNP's Siripala Gintota Kapuge.

A vote of condolence on the demise of a former Councillor and Deputy Minister Vivienne Gunawardena was also unanimously passed when the council met on Wednesday.

Child rape

North East High Court Judge U. L. A. Majeed imposed a death sentence on a youth for rape and murder of a six-year-old girl.

Visvam Arulnesan, 20, was indicted with rape and murder of Shiromi of Thalai-mannar. The victim was raped and subsequently strangled.

Repeal of Janasaviya Act postponed

The Cabinet has deferred indefinitely a move to repeal the Janasaviya Act after a Minister objected saying that the repeal would raise protests from the poor masses, sources said.

The government was to repeal the Janasaviya Act and introduce the Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill. The Bill was to be presented in parliament on Thursday but now it has been postponed indefinitely, the sources said.

Ten killed

Six policemen and four homeguards were killed in a terrorist attack around 8 a.m. yesterday at Aranaganwila in the Polonnaruwa area.

The farmers of Nidanwala village had asked for police protection to reap their paddy on Saturday morning. As the home guards and police were taking up positions, terrorists struck.

Even civilians were casualties, as the terrorists fired indiscriminately. Those injured were dispatched to the Polonnaruwa hospital.

Tourist arrivals down by 30pc.

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka fell 30 percent in the first nine months of 1996 from a year earlier, the Ceylon Tourist Board said on Tuesday.

The tropical island recorded 218,004 arrivals in January-September, down from 312,132 in the same 1995 period, a report published by the board said.

Industry sources say tourist arrivals plummeted soon after separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas blew up Colombo's Central Bank in January, killing more than 80 people and destroying part of the city's financial district.

Sri Lanka, which relies on tourism as a major source of foreign exchange income and employment, recorded 403,101 tourist arrivals last year.

The Sri Lankan government has said it planned to launch a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in its major tourist markets in Europe and in the Far East to stress the 13-year ethnic war is largely limited to the country's north and east.

A treat for nature lovers

A project to develop "Wewakele", a stretch of natural forest bordering the Kotahera village close to Avissawella town, will be launched by the Seethawakapura Urban Council shortly.

The project aims at giving an opportunity to nature enthusiasts to conduct research in forest vegetation and wildlife. The program also hopes to ensure an emergency supply of drinkable water

The Sunday Times investigation

Bribe wave rocks the port boat

By Chamila Jayaweera

Bribery in the Colombo port, centerpiece of the country's economy is reaching scandalous proportions with illegal transactions taking place everywhere and openly, a Sunday Times investigation reveals.

Customers and others say it is becoming virtually impossible to clear goods without giving a bribe for someone and the amount being demanded has almost trebled in recent years.

With the Port known to be a principle target for terrorists, security has been intensified and there is now only one entry point, compared to three earlier. This has brought about heavy congestion and customers are therefore forced to pay bigger bribes if they want to clear goods.

"Most people who refuse payments, hardly ever manage to collect their packages. The security can hold them back from clearance or claim it is overweight or even simply say it was lost. The smart thing to do is pay the money and get out safely", an official told us.

Retired officials of the Ports Authority and many affected parties including wharf clerks, clearing agents readily provided information on the spate of bribes but officials within the service were tightlipped.

An official who retired from the Port after 35 years of service, revealed that the problem of taking bribes has now risen to alarming heights, within the Port, as has the fee that is to be paid. What is more shocking is that this crime, is committed quite openly, as an unwritten rule, between both the officials and customers.

The procedure takes place in a very organized manner. A customer who enters the Port, needs to be prepared with ready cash in his pockets to appease the greedy demands of a long list of people who attend to various different tasks.

We spoke to trade union men, including officials of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya regarding the bribe wave in the Port. An official said, the security network introduced by the PA govt. was one of the main reasons for the alarming trend.

An attempt by the Bribery Commission to investigate the goings on was opposed by some Ports Authority officials who manipulated various moves to block any probe, The Sunday Times learnt.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - * Detainees threaten to go on death fast, * Call for low key Deepavali , * LTTE men held, contraband seized , * Pension scheme for self-employed , * Govt. Returns the Vada Bhoomi , * Consumer watchdog gets new teeth , * Protest in Denmark over Chitra's arrest

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