The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

01st June 1997



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Worry over quarry in Ratgama

Some 200 houses and a Buddhist temple in Ratgama affected by the dynamiting of a quarry under a Korean project have not been paid the compensation of Rs 400,000, though the project has been abandoned for some time now.

The project, launched in 1992, was abandoned in 1995.

A group of residents led by the Venarable Somapura Deepananda Thera, head of the Galagoda temple are seen holding a demonstration demanding the payment of compensation.

What is done is done: Ratnasiri

By Shelani de Silva

Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has vowed he will not budge on his decision to shut down the Ahungalla private zoo - despite appeals or pressure from powerful individuals and groups.

"No matter who appeals, I will not change my decision. I can't do things according to the likes or dislikes of different parties but must act in the public interest," the Minister said.

He was speaking after the Elpitiya Pradeshiya chairman, in whose area the zoo was sited, appealed for a review of the decision to close the zoo.

Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Samarajeeva de Silva said hundreds of jobs had been lost by the closure of the zoo and the Council was losing up to Rs. 50,000 a month by way of tax revenue which could have been used to develop the area. The Charman said he was hopeful the Minister would grant them an apponintment to meet him and show the other side of the story.

The private zoo, widely criticised by nature lovers was shut down after a Polonnoruwa school boy was killed when he tried to pet a lion.

It is alleged that some of the animals were drugged or tranquilised to perform a circus for visitors.

Doctor loses first round

By Shyamal A. Collure

The application of President's Counsel Tilak Marapana requesting that photocopies of documents listed in the indictment be made available to the accused in the criminal misappropriation case filed against UNP parliamentarian Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena had to be withdrawn in the light of objections put forward by the prosecution, last Friday.

Dr. Jayawardena is indicted under the Public Property Act with having misappropriated government funds. It alleged that he unlawfully received salary payments for performing the duties of a state appointed medical officer during 1991 to 1993 when no such duties were in fact performed by him during this period.

When the case came up before the Colombo High Court Justice D. Jayawickrema on Friday, the prosecuting counsel Navaratne Banda objected to the application stating that the prosecution was not obliged under the law to provide copies of documents.

Mr.Marapana thereupon informed the court that he was well aware that the prosecution was under no obligation to provide copies of listed documents but was only appealing to the judge in the interest of justice to make them available to the accused enabling him to prepare for his defence.

Defence counsel further told court that if this was the way the prosecution planned to prove the case, namely, by depriving the accused of copies of documents, the state could keep the documents for itself and withdraw his application. The case will be heard again on July 30.

S. S. Kumar killing: three suspects allowed bail

The three suspects remanded in connection with the killing of multi-millionaire businessman, S. Shanthi Kumar have been allowed bail by Colombo High Court judge, Shirani Thilakawardene on Friday.

Former Welikada Police inspecter and ruggerite Palitha Rohana Siriwardene, Mr.Kumar's alleged mistress, Shriyani Wijeratne Rambukwella and an Army deserter, Wickrema Indika Dinesh de Silva were released on cash bail of Rs. 10,000 each and a surety bail of Rs. 1 million.

The suspects were ordered to report to the police once a week, not to threaten the witnesses or hinder investigations and to surrender their passports to the court.

Mr. Kumar was gunned down at the Colombo Golf Club on December 07 last year.

Hail good Samaritan of Dewale Road

A Sunday Times Staffer encountered a rare calibre, of person.... a resident of Dewale Road, Nugegoda who returned the staffer's lost wallet last week after retreiving it from the roadside.

The greatness of the gesture was that the finder - let's call him Mr Perera - was so worried about the owner's "peace of mind", that he made it a point to call the owner (after identifying him from documents in the wallet) as soon as possible.

A person who not only returns a wallet with many important documents and considrable amount of money is rare these days.

But a person who also worries about the owner's ''pain of mind'' is a unique good samaritan.

'The Sunday Times" on behalf of their staffer salutes Mr. Perera for this example of rare public spiritedness. We raise our hats to him.

S. Asian YWCAs meet for Girl Child

The Colombo Young Women's Christian Association's Girl-Child wing will coordinate a workshop of the YWCAs of the SAARC region this month.

This workshop to co-orinate action on issues pertaning to the girl-child (child abuse etc.) will be inaugurated by Minister Srimani Athulathmudali and it will be held at the YWCA Jubilee Hall from 10th to 13th.

CBK to meet parents of missing Jaffna youth

By M. Ismeth

President Chandrika Kumaratunga will soon meet parents of missing youth from Jaffna to personally hear their case and see what could be done, the EPDP said yesterday after its leader and others met the President for wide-ranging discussions on Thursday.

The party said its delegation led by leader Douglas Devananda had discussed with the President various problems facing the people of the north-east, including the need to immediately fill some 6,000 vacancies for Tamil medium teachers in a fresh effort to upgrade educational standards.

The EPDP also called on the President to take immediate steps to set up an interim north-east administrative council comprising MPs and others from the areas. Mr. Devananda told The Sunday Times the President was not opposing his controversial idea for the full implementation of the 13th amendment instead of waiting for the devolution package.

Mr. Devananda said she had also agreed to consider the setting up of an interim administration similar to a district co-ordinating committee.

Last week, the EPDP leader caused a stir among Tamil parties when he appeared to suggest that the devolution package be shelved and the Tamils would be satisfied with full implementation of the 13th Amendment which provides for regional autonomy through provincial councils.

Tamil parties, including the TULF, slammed Mr. Devananda's proposals and accused him of breaking ranks or selling out. The govt. also was reported to be disturbed by Mr. Devananda's proposals which it felt would undermine the efforts to implement the devolution package. Mr. Devananda said he and the President had also discussed the various problems facing the people of the north and east and ways of providing relief to them

The EPDP also told the President that some 300, youth recruited to the Citizens Volunteer Force in 1990 were now languishing without jobs and appealed that they be recruited to the police service.

The party also discussed with the President matters relating to more vehicles for the Jaffna district, telecom and housing facilities, insurance and Samurdhi Schemes

Police probe underworld gang link with EPDP

A major police investigation has been launched to probe links between an underworld gang and the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) following information that the gang was allegedly involved in a series of murders and crimes in the past years and continuing their activities with political backing, Headquarters Inspector for Chilaw, Chief Inspector, Wilmon Perera said.

Following a tip-off, two suspects were arrested in the Chilaw area. One sub machine gun, 85 rounds of ammunition and two hand grenades were also seized.

Investigations revealed that the persons arrested were members of the independent civil organisation which is affiliated to the EPDP.

However the persons arrested are reportedly linked to an underworld gang which had carried out a series of killings during the previous regime. Chief Inspector, Perera, said that a special police team led by him which arrived in Colombo to arrest the leader of the gang who was reportedly taking shelter in the EPDP office had been refused entry into the building. The police team had returned.

Maligawatte flats now Premadasapura

By Kumaradasa Wagista

The Maligawatte Housing Scheme is to be renamed Premadasapura in honour of the late President who reclaimed the neglected stinking mosquito infested mar-shy land of Maligawatte and built it into a popular housing scheme, the Colombo Municipal Council has decided.

A resolution to this effect was moved at a recent meeting of the CMC and passed with the ruling UNP and two independents voting for, the MEP, the NSSP and the JVP against while the PA-backed independent group abstained.

The NSSP's Wickramabahu Karunaratne said it was Communist Party leader Pieter Keuneman who should be given the credit for the Maligawatte housing Scheme

'STF men forced four women to drink kassipu'

By S. S. Selvanayagam

A Batticaloa District TULF parliamentarian yesterday complained to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga that Special Task Force (STF) personnel have forced four women to drink illicit brew (kasippu) resulting in three were being admitted to hospital.

The Parliamentarian P. Selvarasa has appealed to the President to order an inquiry into these actions of the STF personnel posted to the Ampara district.

In his appeal, the parliamentarian has stated that the STF personnel raided and recovered illicit brew in Unit 15 last Wednesday and they named the suspects and required them to report to the STF.

Miss V. Bhavani (14), Miss T. Suseela (18), Mrs T. Luxmi (27) and Mrs. Wijeya (28) in compliance of the order reported at the camp where they were allegedly beaten up and forced to drink the illicit brew resulting in Bhavani being admitted to Batticaloa hospital and Suseela as well as Luxmi to the Kalmunai hospital, he added.

The STF should have handed over the suspects to the police to be dealt with according to the law of the country and not take the law into their own hands and mete out punishment in this most cruel and inhuman manner, he protested.

Women recruits free policemen for war

Police are recruiting more women to the force, freeing the men to serve in the island's war-ravaged north and east, police said."Frankly, there are not enough men today," Senior Superintendent Lalith Gunasekera of the Police Training School said.

"More and more women, meanwhile, are willing to come forward and take on the responsibility of being policewomen." The training school at Kalutara, had so far this year graduated 456 women, while another 535 are waiting in the wings to be inducted as sub-inspectors and constables, he said."This is the highest number of women to have been trained by us in one year in the history of the force," said a senior official attached to the police recruitment and training division. Part of the fallout from this development is that the police can now release more men to serve in the north and the east in a supportive role to the army," said the official, who declined to be identified.

Clinic aborted

In a raid on a clinic suspected of being an abortion centre, Police arrested an assistant medical practitioner, an ayurvedic physician and three female attendants along with four women who had come for abortions.

They will be produced in court soon.

Interpol steps into child abuse case

The CID has sought assistance from Interpol regarding certain Germans linked to the alleged child sex abuse case involving the Vijitha Children's Home at Kalutara.

When the case came up before the Kalutara Magistrate on Wednesday C.I.D. Inspector R.K. Waidyasekera said the prosecution needed more time to present the case in which two ex-matrons and several others are charged with sex abuse of children. The case was fixed for June 25.

Army Chief opens door to refugees

People who have been displaced owing to the current military operation in the Wanni region will be accommodated in refugee camps in the liberated areas of the Wanni district, the Army Commander has decided.

Lt. Gen. Rohan Daluwatte made the decision after talks with PLOTE representative, N. Manickathasan and Vavuniya UC Chairman, G.T. Linganathan who briefed him on the crisis facing the diplaced people.

They said the Army Chief had assured that food supplies to refugees would be stepped up.

Srimani for fare hike to revamp transport services

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

A fifteen per cent increase in bus and train fares this year is imperative to build up the crumbling transport service, Transport Minister Srimani Athulathmudali said.

Ms. Athulathmudali told the press on Friday that she was in a helpless situation as minister of transport as the Treasury had failed to provide any funds towards the transport sector."The people will have to bear the additional costs, she complained.

She said the fare increase was just an extension of last year's recommendations which called for a thirty per cent increase. "It is only by increasing the fares that an efficient service could be provided," she said.

Minister Athulathmudali pointed out that when her government took over, 13,000 private buses were operating but today only a mere 8,000 were remaining.

According to Minister Athulathmudali, both the peoplised bus and rail transport services suffered losses of more than Rs. 1000 million in 1994, and this trend still continues.

"In addition, more than 2000 buses were given to the peoplised bus service, which is poorly run by an apparently weak authority," she said adding that they were not even in a position to remove or transfer such officials.

She said the Treasury had rejected her request of Rs. 600 million for the rehabilitation of the transport sector, but agreed to pay Rs. 300 million, and then only Rs. 150 million. However nothing was paid in the end, she said.

Ms. Athulathmudali also complained of political interference in many peoplised transport boards, which had been the root cause for poor services.

She said that very soon 11 clusters of bus companies will be formed out of the present 93 companies. "Except for a solitary trade union everyone has agreed to this," she added.

"As for the railway a similar situation prevails. We need 133 locomotives to run a service according to the time table, but only 86 locomotives are functioning at the moment," she said adding that during the forthcoming years only a further 18 locomotives are to be received from India and Korea, to supplement the current service.

She said that a range of other expensive railway spares need to be imported,, in addition to a requirement of 60,000 timber sleepers a year.

Save women plea to the President

Some 40 women's groups have urged President Kumaratunga to take immediate and effective action against increasing incidents of criminal rape of women in the Eastern Province allegedly involving members of the security forces.

In a joint appeal they say some of the incidents are reported in the media while some remain just shut up for fear of further reprisals. They have appealed to the President to give orders to members of the security forces to respect the personal integrity of women.

Among the groups that have written to the President are the Women and media collective Suriya Women's development centre, Batticaloa, Eastern Women's forum, The Sri Lanka Womens NGO forum, Inform, Hindu women's society, Trincomalee, Women's education and research centre, Social scientists association-gender unit, Women's development centre, Kandy, Sri Lanka Muslim women's congress and the National Christian council women's commission.

Kalpitiya threats: Speaker writes to IGP

Speaker K.B. Ratnayake is to write to the Police and Army chief regarding alleged threats by members of the security forces to shoot MPs who visit Nuraicholai in Kalpitiya where villagers are continuing to protest against the setting up of a massive coal power project there.

This decision was made by the Speaker after the UNPs A.H.M. Azwer discussed with him and raised in Parliament the alleged threat to the lives of seven MPs including himself, Vasudewa Nanayakkara and Mohamed Ilyas.

"In the exercise of our legitimate rights as MPs we visited Nuraicholai and we were asked by the Police, the defence forces, not to come and that they will shoot us down. It is a breach of privilege, Mr. Azwar said.

Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said MPs from both sides of the House had visited Nuraicholai and the reaction of the security forces could not be condoned. He said the Opposition would provide all information to the Speaker to write to the Police and Army chiefs regarding this matter. He said MPs would be visiting Nuraicholai again and the Speaker must clearly tell the security Chiefs to ensure the protection of the MPs rights to visit constituents anywhere.

The UNP leader said if the letter did not have positive results, the officers concerned should be summoned .The Speaker assured that he would do everything to protect the rights and interests of MPs.

Mr. Nanayakkara also tabled in the House a copy of a report published on page-1 of "The Sunday Times" of May 25, titled 'Tough cop threatens to shoot again'. The report quoted participants at a meeting as saying that a top police officer in Puttalam had threatened he would order police to open fire on anyone who demonstrated against the coal power project. The officer had admitted it was he who ordered the April shooting in which two demonstrators were killed.

The dispute in Kalpitiya has been raging for months, after the Ceylon Electricity Board went ahead with a coal power project on a 300-acre site.

Energy experts say alternative sources are necessary to prevent power cuts in the future, but residents complain the takeover of their land in and around the project area would threaten their livelihood while also causing serious environmental damage.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - * Plunder from the poorest, * Chilli farmers' hunger strikes and protests pay off, * Sunethra mum on resignation, * Donations for displaced Muslims, * JVSP to introduce itself, * 'Exciting challenge', * Dead beetle found in a soft drink: case filed, * Weli Oya in whirlpool, * Telecasting tests too much for Rupavahini Corporation, * Non academic staff set July 1 deadline, * More power from private sector, * Fisticuffs at ACBC meeting over child sex scandal, * Minister quells fears of Beruwela Muslims, * Rs 600,000 heist from Lanka's Saudi school, * Uncleared Wanni gets its food, * CMC Pola to help sell NCP farmers' chilli

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