17th August 1997


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Mirror Magazine


Tough action to be taken on cough blunder

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

High level officials of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation are likely to face charges of endangering the lives of children through the import of a sub-standard vaccine for whooping cough.

Health Ministry media spokesman Viraj Abeysinghe told The Sunday Times a full report on the scandal, which is believed to cause a resurgence of this child ailment, has been submitted to President Kumaratunga by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva for action.

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and the College of Paediatricians and other prominent medical personnel said a grave situation has arisen for the children and those responsible for this negligence, whatever high position they would be holding, should be severely dealt with. The GMOA in a letter to the Health Minister said SPC and Ministry officials on the tender board had violated WHO regulations and had jeopardised the national immunization campaign.

The GMOA said the tender board had allegedly removed clause 'WHO approved standard' between the calling of the tender and the awarding of it.

It charged that the tender board had favoured a particular company at the cost of possible danger to innocent children. The GMOA pointed out that the price difference between the WHO approved and non-approved was a mere Rs. 65,000 for the whole stock and it would have been prudent to buy the WHO approved stock to avert risks.

Miss World here today

Reigning Miss World Irene Skliva arrives in Sri Lanka this morning on the invitation of the Rotary Club of Colombo East.

She is here to attend the installation ceremony of the twelfth president of Rotary East Dharshan John, this evening at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi, at which Minister Dharmasiri Senana-yake will be the chief guest.

An international model, the 18 year old Greek beauty won the coveted Miss World crown at the pageant held in Bangalore, India last year. The brown haired, hazel-eyed teenager's ambition is to follow a career in journalism and public relations. Her visit is the third successive one by a reigning Miss World to Sri Lanka.

On Monday, Miss World is scheduled to visit the Sahanaya Day Care Centre for mentally retarded children at Narahenpita. Ms Skliva at her crowning expressed a wish to help this cause and her visit to Sahanaya will focus attention on the acute problem of mental health in the country, Sri Lanka having the highest suicide rate in the world.

Speaking at a press conference at the Lanka Oberoi last week, Rotary East's incoming president Dharshan John said that Miss World's visit will provide the ideal opportunity for the club to raise funds for their various community service projects. We plan to use the funds generated from this visit towards providing sanitation facilities to rural areas, developing vocational skills and and carrying out the activities of our Polio Plus programme for the third and final year.

Main sponsor of Miss World's visit is Sifani Jewellers. AirLanka the National carrier is the official Airline and she will be hosted by Hotel LAnka Oberoi.

Other sponsors include the Monaro group, the official security provider and United Motors will provide her transport.

The official TV will be Rupavahini. The Sunday Times is the official newspaper for the third consecutive year.

Beliatta killing: Police promise fair inquiry

By Christopher Kamalendran

A special police team has been assigned to investigate the assassination of the Beliatta Pradeshi-ya Sabha Opposition Leader (UNP), A.M.K. Gunaratne amidst reports that the killing was politically motivated with the backing of a government politician.

A senior police officer in the division told 'The Sunday Times' that a number of people are reported to have seen the shooting incident which took place opposite the Beliatta Bazaar, but none of them were coming forward to give evidence.

Gunaratne, a former SLFP member who crossed over to the UNP in 1991, was re-elected as a member of the Beliatta Pradeshiya Sabha and appointed as the opposition leader of the council.

The killing came exactly a month after a person identified as Lalith Weerasinghe was gunned down in the Beliatta area in another politically motivated killing.

Weerasinghe, who escaped a gun attack on the day of the local elections, was killed by an unidentified group while he was returning home in his vehicle on July 12.

His sister, Kanthi Weerasinghe had told 'The Sunday Times' that the investigations regarding the assassination of her brother had been hushed up due to an influential political figure in the area.

However, Superintendent of Police Tangalle, Upali Ranasinghe when contacted said that an impartial inquiry would be held into the killings.

But, United National Party General Secretary, Gamini Atukorale in a hard-hitting statement expressed doubts about a free and fair investigation into this killing which has rocked the Beliatta area.

Mr. Atukorale called on the PA government to keep its promise protecting human rights at a time when it is completing three years in office.

Pensioners say they're spurned

By H.P.P.Perera

Kalutara District pensioners are angry over a reply they received from the Minister of Public Administration to a letter seeking an appointment to discuss their problems, an official said.

He said Minister Ratnasiri Wickreme-nayake had rejected the request of the Pensioners Association of the Kalutara District.

In a letter to the Pensioners Association, Mr.Wickremenayake had said that ministers had been informed not to forward any proposals pertaining to financial matters outside the budget.

The fine print of SLT accord

The much talked of agreement between Sri Lanka Telecom and NTT of Japan which was signed recently, has some interesting clauses which would be of interest not only to those using telephones but the people at large as well.

Under Clause 18 Monopoly and Tariff Rebalancing it states that, "In 1998 and 1999, the increase in domestic call charges will be effected by a reduction in the number of seconds per unit.

"SLT shall have a monoploy on international services for five years."

The agreement also states that "after five years, the Government of Sri Lanka may sell its shares without restriction unless the Management Agreement is in effect in which case, the investor shall have first option on the shares.

A most interesting Clause under sub-title Waiver of sovereign immunity it states "The government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) agrees that should the investor institute proceedings against it, GOSL shall not claim immunity by or on behalf or any its assets."

Foreign medical degrees: parents seek justice

By M.Ismeth

Parents of medical students studying abroad have appealed to President Chandrika Kumaratunga to review regulations that prevent or delay the admission of foreign degree holders to the medical profession.

They say the new regulation were not applicable at the time they sent their children abroad for medical studies.

"We are not against the Medical Council. Nor do we challenge their authority to impose rules and regulations. But we only request them to allow graduates who are eligible to sit an oral/clinical examination under Act 16 of 1965 before, during or after their internship," Nimal de Britto, President of the Foreign Medical Students' Parents Association, said.

Guidelines issued on April 11 by the Medical Council to foreign medical graduates state "they could sit this examination, before, during or after internship''. But new guidelines issued on April 20 show the words "during and after" have been deleted, making it compulsory to sit the exam before the internship.

''Our grievance is that these new rules and regulations have been imposed with retrospective effect on our children who opted for foreign medical education due to uncertainties and their problems in the university campuses during the 1989-90 period,'' Mr. Britto said.

Coroner cleared

Colombo Chief Magistrate Munidasa Nanyakkara on Thursday informed Colombo's Additional coroner Edward Ahangama, who had earlier been ordered by the Marawila Magistrate to show cause for having held an inquest referred to Mr. Nanayakkara, that he was not barred from inquiring into a death if the police in the area has invoked his jurisdiction.

The Chief Magistrate has further observed that as Mr. Ahangama was also an unofficial Magistrate in addition to being coroner, there seemed no reason for the latter to show cause.

On a revision application filed by the coroner, the Chilaw Magistrate Mahanama Tillekeratna last week issued an order staying all proceedings relating to the show cause letter.

The coroner said that the written order of the Marawila Magistrate directing the Colombo Chief Magistrate to inquire into the death of Warnakulasooriya Joseph Nelson Fernando (32) of Marawila was not produced before him by the police who invoked his jurisdiction in this connection.

Lucky you

Questions are being asked how a top post in a UNDP funded nature department carrying a five-figure salary has gone to a fortunate one while others who are more qualified have not had that luck.

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