The Sunday TimesFront Page

24th November 1996




With security being intensified all over the country in view of fears over the so-called LTTE's hero's week, even school bags of little children are checked by senior students as this scene at the Janadhipathi Vidyala, Rajagiriya shows. Pic. by Gemunu Wellage.

Red alert in Colombo city

Colombo has been placed under the tightest security with special security arrangements for schools, public places, buses and trains as the LTTE ‘s . so called heroes week reaches its end.

Colombo’s Deputy Inspector General D.M.T.B. Dissanayake told “The Sunday Times” special security measures had been taken in the city especially in schools.

Transport Minister Srimani Athulathmudali told “The Sunday Times” that many outstation train services would remain suspended as police had not given security clearance. Deputy Education Minister, John Seneviratne told “The Sunday Times” the govt. was closely watching the security situation in schools, but there were no immediate plans for a closure.

Among the special security measures in the city is a close tab on the lodges where people arriving mainly from the north are accommodated. DIG Dissanayake said measures restricting lodging for civilians coming from the north would continue.

Security in main towns around the island also has been beefed up.

The LTTE has carried out sporadic attacks during the past few days apparently to mark its “Heroes week”.

Lalith’s University site turned to dairy farm

By Shelani de Silva

Transport Minister Srimani Athulathmudali has protested to President Chandrika Kumaratunga against a move by Trade Minister Kingsley Wickremaratne to set up a dairy project on a 25-acre land earmarked by the Mahapola Trust Fund, to build a “Post-graduate International University”.

The land was acquired by the Mahapola Fund in 1988 in the Malabe area.

The Lalith Athulathmudali Foundation has stressed that money has already been allocated to set up the university and that the board of trustees is against any move to transfer the land.

Lalith Athulathmudali Foundation secretary Shyamila Perera told The Sunday Times it was highly improper to crave for the land allocated for a university.

“How can a dairy project be set up in a residential area such as Malabe. We were informed that the Trade Minister has claimed that the land is idling, but a university cannot be set up overnight,” she said.

Ms. Athulathmudali in a letter to President Kumaratunga has requested her to intervene and enable her to set up the university, and thereby realise the dream of her late husband whose birth anniversary falls on November 26.

Trade Ministry Secretary N.V.K.K. Weragoda has written to the foundation claiming that the dairy development project has been approved by the government as a joint venture between the National Development Board of India and the Sri Lanka Government, and all preliminaries have been finalised.

The ministry has requested the Mahapola Trust Fund to transfer the land for the proposed project on the basis that the government will pay the value of the land to the fund.

The Secretary has told the Mahapola Fund that technical officers after inspecting the land had stated that it was ideally suited for the project. “The minister in consultation with President Kumaratunga identified this land for the project. The factory is planned to produce 300,000 litres of milk a day, and employment opportunities will be found. Since the university project is not coming through, the land should be allocated for an important national project,” he said.

World milk prices falls but not here

Despite a sharp drop in the international milk powder prices, local importers rejected the idea of bringing down the prices of milk powder.

Importers said that they had purchased large quantities of milk powder some months ago and consequently the local prices are not going to drop.

A spokesman for New Zealand Milk Products, producers of Anchor milk, said that it is not possible to cut down the price of milk powder as the parity rate of the dollar is on a constant increase.

“Only, if the ten per cent duty charged on importers is relaxed that the benefit could be passed onto the consumers,” he said.

However Trade Minister Kingsley Wickramaratne is unlikely to waive the ten per cent duty on milk food importers.

Best stenos for CBK’s case

Four of the best stenographers have been transferred with immediate effect from other Courts for services in Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s criminal defamation case now proceeding in the Colombo High Court.

Judicial Services Commission’s Secretary S. Withanachchi confirmed last Friday’s move saying that these were the best English stenographers in the service.

Mr. Withanachchi also said that the stenographers were assigned for the case following the comment by the Judge on Thursday.

He said that although the cadre was full they did not have competent stenographers and were forced to pull out from other Courts. Other stenos were “inexperienced” to cover proceedings of this case, he added.

Among those transferred is the only English stenographer assigned to the newly established Commercial High Court to which all the big commercial cases have been referred.

The stenographers of the Kobbekaduwa Commission and the No. 1 District Court are among those transferred to Ms. kumaratunga’s case with immediate effect.

Meanwhile evidence was led in the criminal defamation action filed by the Attorney-General on behalf of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga against the Editor The Sunday Times before the Colombo High Court Judge during the week.

Rohan Edrisinha, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law University of Colombo, Desmond Fernando PC, President of the International Bar Association and retired Senior Superintendent of Police D.S.L. Vitharana who was formerly of the Presidential Security Division (PSD) gave evidence for the defence.

Mr. Edrisinha and Mr. Fernando said they did not find the article complained of, published in the Gossip column of “The Sunday Times” of 19 February 1995 defamatory.

Mr. Fernando will continue his evidence on December 19. Mr. Vitharana, a Scotland and SAS trained officer gave evidence on VVIP security.

Tilak Marapana, PC with S.L. Gunasekera, Kumar Ponnambalam, Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, Upul Jayasuriya, Ronald Perera, Maitri Gunaratne, among others instructed by M/s Asoka Samararatne Associates appeared for the Editor.

1997 calendar chaos

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Hard on the heels of the government’s time change comes a last-minute move to redesign the calendar from 1997.

The short notice for the change has caused confusion among the public and is likely to result in heavy financial losses to printers who have already printed next year’s calendar, industry sources said.

The changes proposed by the Sri Lanka Standards Institute have been opposed by the calendar industry and Government Printer Neville Nanayakkara. However, the SLSI insists that all calendars from next year should conform to its requirement.

The SLSI has re-structured the 1997 calendar with Monday as the first day of the week, instead of Sunday.

SLSI Director General R. A. Jayawardene told “The Sunday Times” “We are implementing these changes in the calendar, keeping in line with international standards, and expect everyone to fall in line.”

Printing circles unhappy over the short notice for the change slammed the SLSI and compared this to the government’s previous bungled effort to change the standard time.

Printers who have already published the 1997 calendar said they would lose millions of rupees if they were forced to redo calendars.

A printer who did not wish to be named said they would not make the change unless the government made good their losses.

Mr. Jayawardene said the weeks have to be numbered according to the standards published by the SLSI. If January 1, of a year falls on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday that week will be considered as week No. 1 of the year.

If January 1 falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday the week following this would be considered as week No. l. According to SLSI Monday is day one of a week, and Sunday, the day seven. “So the new calendars will have to indicate the week number and place Monday on top of the week,” said Mr.Jayawardene.

He said this change is based on the standards published by the International Standards Organisation (ISO). “The SLSI has issued a communiqué to all publishers of calendars, requiring them to abide by the new system.”

Sri Lanka Association of Printers President S. Mahesa told The Sunday Times the government should think in terms of the inconveniences the public would undergo. “We strongly oppose it, as sufficient time was not given to us.”

There appeared to be confusion in the government itself with Government Printer Neville Nanayakkara saying that his department was the official body to make any changes in the calendar and that he could not accept the SLSI proposal at this late stage.

Printers of calendars and diaries said the bulk of the printing had been done and they were surprised over the government decision.

President off to Paris

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumara-tunga is due to leave for France today on an official visit, government sources said.

Justice Minister, G. L. Peiris said President would make use of her visit to strengthen ties with France.

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