The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

8th December 1996




Bogus kachcheri had it all

A 'mini kachcheri' functioning in Kandy's old Torrington Square has been busted by Kandy Police and four suspects have been taken into custody, police said.

Of the four men nabbed by the counter subversive unit of the Kandy Police, two are Sinhalese, one Tamil and a Muslim.

The raid was carried out at 2 p.m. on Friday and police said it was a hive of activity issuing birth, death and even marriage certificates, including certificates issued at various exams. Even Muslim marriage certificates are said to have been issued by this bogus Kachcheri.

Drug shock: 50,000 addicts

Police have urgently appealed for public support to combat the growing drug menace, with latest report showing there are a staggering 50,000 drug addicts in Sri Lanka.

Heroin detected this year amounted to a shocking Rs. 55 million while some 7650 drug traffickers were rounded up, Narcotics Bureau Chief C.L Ratnayake said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Ratnayake told 'The Sunday Times' with the increased vigilance at the Airport, identified coastal areas and other locations, the Bureau had detected about 37.5 kilograms of heroin in the past eleven months.

''The drug ring is being operated by top businessmen in Colombo city and suburbs and they are connected to the international underworld'', he said.

SSP Ratnayake said this year's biggest single drug detection was made when they arrested a businessman with 13 kilograms of heroin while it was being smuggled in from India by boat. The businessman was on bail for a similar offense when he was re-arrested in August.

Dulanjali hammers auction as cheap publicity stunt

Gold bed my foot! He hardly slept

By Shelani de Silva

The widely publicized auction of exquisite furniture imported during the Premadasa era takes place today - with the auctioneer confident of a big sale but the former President's daughter accusing them of unethical practices and cheap publicity to tarnish her father's image.

The exclusive high class furniture worth millions, believed to have been imported for the 1993 Gam Udawa in Mihintale will come under the hammer today, with many bidders coming in secretly.

The controversial twenty four carat gold plated bed is among the large collection. The furniture was never used after the death of President Premadasa, and was placed in the BOI warehouse for the past three years. The government last week decided to auction the entire collection.

Auctioneer Dunstan Kelaart told The Sunday Times that the furniture had not been used and was of high quality and good taste.

Mr. Kelaart could not give a specific value for the items but estimated the whole collection at around ten million.

The auctioneer is confident he could sell the whole lot. "We received several calls even from the outstations. Most were inquiring about the famous king-size gold plated bed. They wanted to place their bids prior to the auction but remain anonymous. We obliged. Most of them were people who were close to the late president and also who feel that possessing such a valuable bed specially imported by a VIP is a privilege," he said.

Mr. Kelaart said the furniture was definitely imported by a VIP but whether it was for this personal use or official use was not known. "No other person will order such valuable and tasteful furniture. We examined the bed and it is 24 carat gold and worth over a million", he said.

In a sharp reaction Dulanjali Jayakody, daughter of the late President told The Sunday Times the furniture including the gold plated bed was brought down through the BOI for the guest house built in Mihintale for the Gam Udawa "The president of India was to be the chief guest, and he was to stay at the guest house. Later it was to be handed over to the BOI, to accommodate visitors and investors. It is wrong to claim that my father got furniture for his personal use," she said.

Mrs. Jayakody scoffed at the allegations about the gold plated bed, saying her father had little time to sleep even on the simple bed he used. "Personally I don't think it is a gold plated bed anyway. It was common knowledge that he lived a simple life. He never needed a gold plated bed. He was very happy with the bed he used at Sucharitha. It was an antique bed which came down through generations. Anyone is welcome to see it at Sucharitha," she said.

Ms. Jayakody said the manner in which the auctioneer had advertised the furniture, specially emphasizing on the 'gold plated bed' was very unethical. "Advertising products to be auctioned should be done in a correct way without trying to get cheap publicity by attempting to tarnish the image of a leader who sacrificed his life for the country" she said.

Apart from the gold plated bed there are a large number of Beverely designed two seater and three seater sitting room suites, exquisite tables, chairs dining tables, flower pot stands, bedroom suites, wardrobes, tapestry and lace curtains, 17 large rolls of carpeting and lamp fittings.

Envoy asked to probe South African murders

By. M. Ismeth

The Foreign Ministry has instructed Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Kenya J.D.A. Wijewardena, who is also accredited to South Africa, to investigate the killing of two Sri Lankans in Johannesburg, South Africa on September 20 and report back to the Ministry.

According to sources since the killing of the two Lankans under mysterious circumstances, there had been no further action taken at that except arrest of three suspects.

The Ministry's attempt to contact the South African Mission in New Delhi requesting them to pursue the matter and report back met with no success. Hence they had requested the Sri Lankan Ambassador to take up the matter with the South African authorities, sources said.

R.M. Senadiraja, a Sri Lankan businessman, went to South Africa to meet his business principles to explore the possibility of expanding his export of food and fruits.

He was met by a Sri Lankan who had been living there for the past six years. The two were murdered when they were in the company of some South Africans, and were dumped into a garbage dump.

Minister's claim false, say trade unions

The Ceylon Steel Corporation facing a fiery controversy over the upcoming sale to a Korean firm has run into a fresh row over a statement made by Trade Minister Kingsley Wickremaratne.

The minister, in an apparent effort to justify the sale of CSC to a Korean firm told a news conference the corporation was going bankrupt and it had no funds to buy even much needed generators.

But corporation and trade union officials rejected the minister's claim, saying the generators had already been ordered and would be installed within months.

They said the minister's charge of possible bankruptcy was also false, as latest audit reports show the CSC had a solid working capital.

CSC trade unions have launched a protest campaign after the government recently finalized a deal with a Korean firm to sell the CSC at a price which is said to be up to Rs. 600 million less than the real value.

Vaccine tender under microscope

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Amidst allegations that tender procedures in the health service are favoring one Indian manufacturer, relaxation of certain tender procedures in importing the triple vaccine has been questioned by a UNP MP who claims such a move could lead to low quality vaccine being bought.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena told The Sunday Times until this year, the triple vaccine has been imported to Sri Lanka from manufacturers approved by the WHO. However, when tenders were called for the supply of this vaccine for 1997, this condition had been deleted.

State pharmacists told The Sunday Times tenders should conform at least to the minimum requirements stipulated by the pharmacopoeia - an encyclopedia of drugs manufactured in a particular country.

SPC Chairman Colvin Goonaratne dismissed allegations that the government was favoring a particular Indian company which had been supplying the triple vaccine over the past ten years.

However, he said the vaccine would be bought from this company as the SPC had imported more than 400,000 doses of the same brand and they were not found to be allergic or ineffective.

He said conforming to WHO requirements was not necessary to go ahead with a tender procedure.

Dr. Jayawardena pointed out that the triple vaccine was used to immunize children against three fatal diseases, and if the quality assurance was not taken into consideration, it could have dangerous repercussions.

The certification of the WHO guarantees that the manufacturers of a vaccine has maintained the highest standards in keeping with international specifications, Dr. Jayawardena said.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - * CBK is talking rubbish, says angry UNP, * Defamatory leaflets: Alles gets Rs. 250,000

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