The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

9th February 1997




Navy gets young Chief of Staff

Former Commander of the Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral D.K. Dassanayake has taken up duties as Chief of Staff of the Navy. He becomes one of the youngest to rise to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Born on April 14,1950 at Horana he had his primary education at the Government Boys School Kumboke, Horana and at St. John's College, Nugegoda. He completed his studies at Dharmapala Vidyalaya Pannipitiya, where he excelled as an all-rounder.

In July 1969, be was enlisted to the then Royal Ceylon Navy as an Officer Cadet and followed basic training at the Naval Maritime Academy, Trincomalee. On successful completion of his initial training he was sent to India for a Sub Lieutenant Technical Course in 1971. Four years later he became a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation in London.

He was promoted to the rank of Commander in January 1985 and to the rank of Captain in July 1988. In November 1992 and April 1994 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and Rear Admiral respectively.

Practical shake-up for education

GCE O/L, A/L to be job oriented By Chamintha Tilakaratna

Major changes are to be made in the G.C.E. O/L and A/L syllabuses to make them more job-oriented, under a new national education policy, an official said.

"The new system will help students to select and qualify in a particular area of their choice," National Education Commission Chairman Lakshman Jayathilaka said.

According to the new policy, the O/L syllabus will include technical and technological studies, while there will be three mathematics papers of different standards; practical, ordinary, and higher mathematics.

Ordinary mathematics will be for those who require some amount of pure mathematics for further education while higher mathematics will be for those who intend to study technology, physics or mathematics upto a degree level. It will include both pure and applied mathematics. Practical mathematics would be for those who need just a pass in it to qualify for further studies in another field.

The two science papers will be basic and advanced science. Basic science for general awareness and higher science for further education.

The English paper too will be held at three levels since English has become one of the necessary qualifications today for employment. Students will be allowed to choose the paper they wish to sit for depending on their proficiency.

The technical and technological studies will cater to the current industrial and service needs of the country. The A/L courses will include commerce, a technical stream in addition to commerce, arts and science, Prof. Jayathilaka said.

He said that the main problem facing the education system was that after the A/L and O/L or even after a university education students found it difficult to get suitable jobs. The new system would help students to select a particular area, in which they could excel, while gaining practical experience as well.

The Colombo Law Society election results

The Colombo Law Society election was held yesterday to elect 35 members, of whom 12 officials will be selected at a meeting scheduled for Friday.

The 10 members who polled the highest are as follows;

Nalinda Indratissa 407, G.E.D. Gooneratne 406, Anoma Goonetilleke 379, Janaprith Fernando 325, Ajantha Athukorale 318, K. Ranawel 312, Mahinda Lokuge 299, Haritha Adhikari 281, Ranjith de Silva 279 Colombo District Judge Chandra Ekanayake functioned as the Presiding Officer at yesterday's election which is considered to be a forerunner for the Sri Lanka Bar Association election scheduled to be held on February 19.

'I gained life, my son gave life'

Lanka's heart transplant man tells story of mixed blessing

By A. Jayatunga

Businessman and accountant Lucky Piyadasa is a walking miracle with a true life story that would touch any heart.

The 57-year-old Mr. Piyadasa who emigrated to Britain in 1961, married a Sri Lankan there and then went to Australia in 1983 is the first Sri Lankan with a transplanted heart.

In 1991 he suffered his first heart attack, a severe one and doctors at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne told him that half his heart had been damaged. After two weeks of treatment in the hospital, Piyadasa was sent back home but life was never the same again with the heart ailment preventing him from doing what he had done earlier.

Life limped on like that for several months, Mr. Piyadasa said, and having been a very active man all his life it was depressing to be so restricted.

Sometimes he thought such a life was not worth living and even took flight to Britain to see whether heart specialists there could do something better. But disappointed he went back to Australia and in October 1992, near disaster struck. Mr. Piyadasa while at home suffered a second major heart attack and this time it was nearly fatal. He fell unconscious and his wife Chitra, a nurse gave him the kiss of life while his son Deshan called in two fire brigade officers who gave oxygen till the ambulance came.

At the Alfred hospital doctors said Mr. Piyadasa was virtually dead. His heart was completely damaged they said after emergency tests. The only hope was a transplant but the chance of getting a new heart in a foreign country where so many needed such a transplant was one in a million.

Till a new heart was found doctors decided on some artificial methods to re-stimulate the dead heart. With a balloon like contraption wired to the thigh they re-stimulated the heart. Within hours he was able to walk some distance but three days later something went wrong with the contraption and Mr. Piyadasa went into a coma. During the next 40 minutes doctors told him later he had virtually died thrice. For the next three days Mr. Piyadasa did not know what happened but doctors during an eight and a half hour operation had installed a pacemaker to revive his heart. With this Mr. Piyadasa lived on for another month. The pacemaker worked on direct current (DC) or batteries and he could walk about again with aid. But soon other complications arose. Two tubes from the pacemaker, X-Rays showed had begun to prick the wall of the heart. Mr. Piyadasa told the doctors he was not afraid and appealed that they tell him what his real condition was. So they told him the truth - he would die in two weeks.

He waited for the inevitable. On January 22 of 1993 - which was to be the D-day of his life Mr. Piyadasa was not given meals in the morning or noon and by 4.00 pm he began to wonder whether they were starving him to death. But soon, his fears and tears disappeared when the nurse assured him that the meals were only stopped in preparation for what one of the greatest wonders of medical science today - a heart transplant.

Again for 72 hours he was totally unconscious under anaesthesia. Dr. Don Esonore, a world renowned heart specialist performed the transplant. When Lucky Piyadasa woke up, he was one of the luckiest people in the world with a new life and a new heart full of gratitude. There were the general after effects, with the body on five occasions showing signs of rejecting the new heart but with modern treatment those were overcome.

Mr. Piyadasa had got a heart from an Australian who was declared brain-dead and the whole medical bill at Australian state expense of course was around Rs. 1.1 million in Sri Lankan terms.

Today, four years after the transplant Mr. Piyadasa lives a virtually normal life - working, driving his car he said during a visit to Sri Lanka recently.

Speaking to journalists at the Wijeya Newspaper office Mr. Piyadasa also revealed another chapter of this true-life drama that again was a matter of mixed blessings. Let him tell it in his own words."Having virtually died so many times and come alive again, I guess I was quite used to tragedies, when one day around 3.00 in the morning I heard a knock at the door and got some dreadful news. It was the police. They asked me whether Deshan Piyadasa was my son and where he was. Then they told me that my son's car had been smashed up in an accident. I knew what would follow but perhaps the new heart did not react as emotionally as the other might have. We went to the hospital. Our son was not dead but was undergoing surgery on the brain that had evidently been smashed. I knew my son was brain- dead and there would be little purpose in trying to keep him alive.

I felt the doctors might be thinking that my son's heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and eyes could be donated to other patients. "They did not ask for anything, but from the bottom of my heart I felt I should make the offer. So it was done. My son died but today five people in Australia are living with his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and eyes," he concluded.

A curse on it, say unions

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Port trade union leaders are lobbying opposition and government MPs to support their intensified campaign against plans to privatise the QE Quay, an official said.

The official of the UNP controlled Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya said they were expecting the support of about 50 MPs for their campaign against what they see as a sellout of a national asset. He said the unions would also put out 10,000 copies of a five page book replying to the claims made by Ports and Shipping Minister M. H. M. Ashraff regarding the proposed deal with the P&O company.

A religious protest would also be held by protesting port workers who would march from St. Anthony's Church, Kochchikade to a Mutwal temple. "We will invoke curses upon any one who tries to privatise the port or its assets," a union official said

Meanwhile the fate of 70 port workers who were interdicted after the recent labour unrest still remains uncertain.

Do not vote for corrupt if on PA list: President

By Ratnapala Gamage

President Chandrika Kumaratunga launching the People's Alliance (PA) election campaign from Anuradhapura assured that the Alliance list of candidates would not include corrupt politicians and in case anybody has been included, the public should not vote for them.

President addressing a rally at the public grounds last night said that all measures are being taken to hold clean elections. 'Accidently if we have included any such persons, please do not hesitate to refrain from voting for them,' the President said.

Referring to the north east war the President said that three fourth of the war was already over and the government will soon begin the final phase of the conflict.

President Kumaratunga also said government hopes to bring in laws soon to recover massive loans obtained by businessmen from state banks.

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Housing Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and Media Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake were among others present.

Eggs fly high in Jaffna

The war in Jaffna has had a foul effect on poultry farming sending the price of an egg soaring to Rs.18.

As a measure to revive the industry, thousands of day-old chicks have been flown to the North, including some 5000 last month.

Ex-envoy to woo minority for UNP

By M. Ismeth

Sri Lanka's ex-ambassador to Japan, Charlie Mahendran has been nominated by the UNP to woo the minority votes and to fill the vacuum created by former mayor K. Ganeshalingam. UNP Chairman Karu Jayasuriya will head the Colombo list, sources said.

Meanwhile, the UNP will file nominations for the Colombo Municipal Council on Wednesday. Among others who are to get nominations on the UNP ticket are three from the DUNF (Gamini Peiris group), two from the SLMP and two nominees of S. Sellasamy.

The Dehiwela/Mount Lavinia UNP list will be headed by old Thomian and businessman Merril Aluvihare. Former Minister Sunethra Ranasinghe is running for the mayoral post of Dehiwala - Mt. Lavinia, party sources said. Two former mayors, Srinath Kumarasinghe and Jude Senivaratne are also on the list and also an AirLanka stewardess.

The Galle list is headed by Hemakumara Nanayakkara and Kandy by Harindranath Dunuwille. Among others who are in the UNP list for Colombo Municipal Council area are: former chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation, Lakshman Ranasinghe, Attorney at Law, Joseph Charles, dramatist, Cecil Gunasekara and Premasiri Perera, a former Mahajana Party Secretary.

In Kandy the former Mayor, D.E. Pathirana will not receive nominations.

The Kurunegala former Mayor, Nimal Chandrasiri de Silva and the Badulla Ex-Mayor M.D.A. Hemachandra have been re-nominated to contest the top post. UNPs candidate for the Ratnapura Municipal Council will be Mr. Mahinda Ratnatilaka, who was formerly in the PA and then crossed over to the UNP.

Meanwhile the UNP has sorted a dispute with former deputy mayor M. M. Mahroof over nominations for the Colombo municipal elections, party sources said.

They said Mr. Mahroof, after lengthy talks with party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday and Friday had agreed to cooperate with the UNP after he was appointed as a secretary of the Colombo Organising Committee. Mr. Mahroof himself will not contest the polls but five of Mr. Mahroof's nominees would be on the UNP list of candidates, they said.

The dispute with Mr. Mahroof arose after mayor K. Ganeshalingam defected from the UNP and the party decided to field its chairman and business magnate Karu Jayasuriya as its mayoral candidate for Colombo. Mr. Mahroof had felt he was next in line for this job after Mr. Ganeshalingam quit.

IGP gives JVP a clean sheet

Police Chief W. B. Rajaguru has denied the receipt of any information about the JVP taking to arms, having death-squads or its members involving in robberies, a party spokesman said.

Wimal Weerawansa, a senior JVP official, said the Inspector General of Police told them about this at a meeting with partymen at the IGP's office on Friday. The JVP was represented by its General Secretary Tilvin Silva, Wimal Weerawansa and politburo member M. D. N. Gunatilake.

Mr. Weerawansa said the IGP had agreed to appoint a police team headed by DIG B. P. Ekanayake to promptly inquire into complaints that may be lodged by the JVP in the run up to the local government polls.

The representatives reiterated that the JVP would not deviate from main-stream politics in future.

Fowzie calls for peace in Id-ul fitr message

Health Minister A.H.M. Fowzie in his Id-ul Fitr message has urged Muslims to pray for peace and spare a thought for the brethren who have been displaced due to the war in the north and east.

The message said:

"During this period of fasting in the holy month of Ramazan, Muslims also pay Zakath. This is another important principle of Islam. Zakath is the payment of a tax by the 'haves' to the 'have-nots'.

Islam is a religion which promotes equality among everybody.

Joy and sorrow should be shared with our brothers and sisters.

We could do so by celebrating Id-Ul-Fitr without much extravagance and avoiding unnecessary expenditure.

While we celebrate this festival here in Colombo, we should spare a thought for our brothers and sisters who have been displaced due to the ongoing war in the North and East of our country.

"We could only hope and pray on this special day that Almighty Allah will grant us the peace that prevailed in this beautiful island Inshallah."

German aid for Jaffna water supply

The German government on Friday donated equipment worth nearly Rs. 10.5 million to the Minister of Housing and Construction, Nimal Siripala de Silva to be used to improve the water supply in Jaffna.

The equipment was handed over at the Mahaweli Centre by the German Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Michael Schmidt.

The consignment consisted of two pick-up jeeps, four tractors, six water bowsers, three motor-bikes, two trailers for tractors, one computer, twenty fibreglass water tanks, two generators, three submersible pumps, office furniture, one photocopy-machine, six air-conditioners, one cooker, one refrigerator, numerous tools and repair kits.

''The goods represent the first part of a grant of articles needed to reconstruct the wells of Thinnaveli and Kondavil'' said Mr. E Halbach the team leader of the project.

He said that this is only the first step in a series of projects that the German government is planning to help improve conditions in Jaffna.

After research in the region, the German Technical Cooperation society, which was entrusted to implement German assistance, have found water supply in Jaffna needs their urgent attention and decided to start with the immediate need of providing pure water to the civilians of Jaffna.

The next is to improve and construct schools in Jaffna. They hope to begin the rehabilitation of schools as soon as possible.

The equipment to Jaffna will be sent on February 15 and the Minister of Reconstruction and Rehabilitation said that he will extend his fullest support in their work.. He has offered to provide with 600 workers.

The project will function with local labour and local material and shipping. ''It is for the benefit of the people of Jaffna, therefore, it is just to provide them with employment and satisfaction of being a part of the project'' Mr.Halbach said.

Govt. doctors to protest against salary slash

Government doctors have warned of trade union action to protest against a recent circular reducing their take-away salary by Rs. 3,000, sources said.

A spokesman for the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said if the pay was less than what they drew last month, they would resort to stern trade union action. Doctors are paid on the 20th of every month.

An average government doctor is paid a basic of Rs. 5,500 and other allowances such as transport availability, and disturbance amounting to another Rs. 5,000. According to the GMOA, some allowances are to be scrapped and the basic is to be increased.

"This would resulting a net reduction of Rs. 3,000 in the take-away salary of a doctor," the spokesman said, exonerating Health Minister A.H.M. Fowzie who they said had nothing to do with the circular.

It is the Treasury which has to be blamed, the spokesman said in an apparent reference to a salary evaluation committee headed by Treasury Secretary B.C. Perera.

The spokesman said that on average a government doctor sees about 3,000 patients a month and this works out to be less than a five rupees per each consultation, given the salary paid to them.

Jailed Swiss to be deported: 'surprise move'

Swiss national Armin Pfaffhaufer, who was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment recently for child abuse, is to be deported to Switzerland much to the surprise of even the officials in the Swiss embassy in Colombo.

Kesbewa Chief Magistrate and Additional District Judge Tudor M. Abeyratne on February 6 sentenced Mr. Pfaffhaufer to two years RI after a year-and-half of his being on bail.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer confirmed that they had sought the deportation of the Swiss national. Sources said that under the immigration law they wanted him to be deported after being declared persona non grata.

However, activists say that if he is deported on arrival he would be a free man once again.

The Police had appealed to court that a translation of the court verdict be sent to the public prosecutor in Switzerland by courier without delay.

"The Sunday Times learns that the appeal was made so that accused could be arrested and prosecuted at that end.

However, Prison officials said they had not received orders until Friday evening. He is being held at the Welikada Prison.

The case has been filed by the Police under Section 365A and Section 362 of the Penal Code. The accused was found guilty on two counts. The first count amounts to "gross indecency" and the second count amounts to the accused transmitting the sexual disease, VD.

Prosecuting Officer DIG M.S.M. Nizam said that this was the first instance of a foreign national being accused and sentenced to imprisonment for child abuse.

Attorney at Law G. Hewage appeared for the defence.

Armin Pfaffhaufer, 57, was residing at Deltara, Piliyandala.

JVP candidates finalised

By Shyamal Collure

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will contest the forthcoming local government polls in all districts and about 90% of its lists of candidates have already been finalised, General Secretary Tilvin Silva said yesterday.

Mr. Silva added a nomination board appointed by the party's central committee was revising the remainder and the lists would be completed within the next two days.

The JVP's Colombo list will be headed by its Secretary - Publicity, Wimal Weerawansha, while politburo member Ajith Kumara will lead the party candidates of the Gampaha district. The national organisers of the Socialist Labour Organisation and Socialist Students' Organisation, Senaratne Silva and Aravinda Dissanayake, will lead the JVP in Negombo and Anuradhapura respectively.

The focus of the JVP's election campaign would mainly be centred on the undesirability of the government's political package; privatisation; deterioration of democracy and suppression of students, farmers, workers and media personnel, Colombo district organiser Weerawansha said. Meanwhile, he also alleged that a gang from the PA had snatched their candidate lists and tore them in a high-handed manner in the Uva-Pranagama Pradeshiya Sabha area around 2 pm on Friday.

Mercantile Leasing awarded Rs. 200 mn in shares case

The Colombo District Court has awarded Rs. 200 mn to Mercantile Leasing Ltd., (MLL) against Capital Development and Investment Company (CDIC).

CDIC had instituted action against MLL seeking damages in Rs. 140 mn.

CDIC held convertible debentures in Mercantile Leasing Ltd.

In November 1993, the board of directors of MLL had decided to issue one million bonus shares at the rate of one share for every four existing shares and five million bonuses debentures in the proportion of 5 to 4.

CDIC has informed MLL that it was exercising its option to convert the MLL debentures it held into shares. CDIC also wrote to the Colombo Stock Exchange objecting to the issue of bonus shares (prior to the conversion of debentures) to existing shareholders on the basis that its interest as a significant prospective shareholder could be adversely affected.

The plaintiff had submitted that an Extra general meeting called for April 11, 1994, to consider a resolution that bonus shares and bonus debentures be issued to all shareholders of the company as at 22nd March 1994, and as the plaintiff has exercised its option to convert the debentures on 8.3.93. On March 22 the plaintiff was also entitled to bonus shares and debentures.

Court said holders of convertible debentures are not members until they are duly registered as shareholders. "The bonus issue is addressed only to existing shareholders," the court said.

"I am also of the view that the shareholders who would be entitled to bonus shares would be those shareholders holding shares with their distinctive number.

"The debenture holders who are not shareholders and who hold no shares as at 15.11.1993 will not be entitled to the bonus shares no matter at what time the Extraordinary general meeting is held for seeking approval of the shareholders by appropriate resolution," the court said.

Big mess in Muslim schools

Chaotic conditions are prevailing in most Government Muslim schools, including national ones as a result of vacancies in the posts of principals, and teachers of important subjects, an education group has said.

The All Ceylon Muslim Educational. Conference has also called for urgent structural changes in the Senior Secondary Education programme relating to O/L and the A/L stages to ensure smooth transition from one to the other

Paddy disaster in East

Over seventy five percent of the paddy crops in the Eastern province has been severely affected due to the drought, officials said.

The failure of the north-east monsoon has aggravated the situation and farmers fear they may lose everything.

In the meantime, farmers cultivating paddy under the Allai tank scheme have expressed their dissatisfaction to the authorities over the failure of diverting sufficient water to their crops from the Mahaweli river.

Peace campaign in Hatton

Women for Peace along with several women's groups in Hatton have jointly organised a peace campaign for the sixth time to be held in Hatton on Sunday opposite the Telecom in Hatton Town.

This silent peace campaign will be held from 11.00 p.m. to noon.

The campaign is aimed at rebuilding the peace process to create conditions for the political resolution of the conflict, and to work towards the cessation of the war in the country, the organisation said.

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