23rd November 1997


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This elephant was gunned down recently in the Ambalanoya area of Ampara.Pic by Saman Priyantha Dissanayaka


Colombo on cholera alert

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Colombo has been put on a health alert amidst fears that a cholera epidemic now raging in Chilaw, Negombo and surrounding areas has hit the city.

At least eight cases have been reported in the city and suburbs some at the Lady Ridgeway children's hospital and others at Wellampitiya, Kiribathgoda and Kotahena.

Doctors and health officials said all preventive steps were being taken and the people could co-operate in tackling the epidemic by admitting suspected patients to hospital immediately and preventing them from coming into contact with the public till they fully recover.

Since October more than 600 suspected victims of cholera have been reported from Chilaw, Arachchikattuwa, Marawila, Bingiriya, Polpithigama, Rideegama, Kurunegala, Negombo, Wattala, Biyagama and Mahara areas.

Some 200 of those cases were confirmed as positive.

Medical research officers said unhygienic living conditions and toilet facilities were among the reasons for the outbreak of cholera and related ailments such as dysentery.

They said the recent heavy rains which flooded even the Chilaw hospital had made matters worse.

Dos and don'ts

The Health Education Bureau has given a set of dos and don'ts to prevent the spread of cholera.

To prevent cholera:

o Drink only water from a safe source or water that has been disinfected (chlorinated), preferably boiled cool water.

o Cook food or reheat it thoroughly and eat while it is still hot.

o Avoid uncooked food unless it can be peeled like bananas.

o Wash your hands after any contact with excreta and before preparing or eating food.

o Dispose of human excreta (including children's stools) promptly and safely.

Cholera need not spoil your trip abroad. If you are going abroad, observe these rules.

o Drink only water that has been boiled or disinfected with chlorine.

o Avoid ice, unless you are sure that it is made from safe water.

o Eat food that has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot when served.

o Avoid raw sea food and other raw foods

o Boil unpasteurized milk before drinking it.

o Ice cream from unreliable sources is frequently contaminated and can cause illness. If in doubt avoid it.

o Be sure that meals bought from street vendors are thoroughly cooked in your presence and do not contain any uncooked foods.

Tips to remember

o With proper treatment cholera is not fatal.

o To take patients with suspected cholera immediately to the nearest health institution for treatment.

o To give increased quantities of fluids (if available, oral rehydration salts solution) as soon as diarrhoea starts.

o Vaccination is not recommended.

o To avoid partaking of meals whenever possible if you visit an affected area.

CMU protests put off on request

By Chamintha Thilakarathna.

Trade union action scheduled at the Colombo Port for this week by the CMU has been postponed to December 1 and 5 due to a request made by the authorities not to go ahead with the plans which coincides with the LTTE Heroes Week, according to Bala Tampoe, General Secretary of the CMU.

"Our action week opposing the SLPA activities have been postponed since the authorities made a request not to. Besides, we do not wish our actions and our campaigns to be misinterpreted" he said.

The picketing campaign will be supported by International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). Already action has been taken by the Dockers and the Seafarers Federation, Mr.Tampoe said. "They have already influenced and are delaying ships coming to Sri Lanka at their respective ports, unofficially. At the same time, a list of ships that will be delayed has also been submitted by the local CMU branch which is under consideration abroad," he added.

"The Dockers and the Seafarers section of the ITF have notified the CMU that they have commenced a worldwide campaign in support of the CMU in the Port of Colombo by appropriate solidarity actions against the ships calling at this Port," he stated.

CMU members in Colombo will picket close to their work place or at selected points in Colombo and other towns where CMU has branches, from December 1 to 4.

General stoppage of work and picketing by CMU branches on December 5, followed by a joint trade union rally in the afternoon at the CMU hall, have been proposed.

This will be supported by Ceylon Bank Employees Union, Union of Posts and Telecommunications, Ceylon Federation of Trade Unions, Ceylon Federation of Labour, United Federation of Labour and the Central Council of Ceylon Trade Unions.

Restraining order extended

By Shyamal A. Collure

The Court of Appeal taking up the revision application filed by a parent in a case against the Board of Governors of S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia, last week extended the restraining order issued early this month till December 3, further holding the appointment of a warden-designate in check.

The plaintiff-petitioner, S. A. Manawadu earlier filed action in the District Court of Colombo contesting the appointment of Eksith Fernando as warden or warden-designate of S. Thomas' College alleging that the latter was not properly qualified to be appointed as such.

On November 4, the court restrained the Board of Governors from permitting Mr. Fernando to function as warden or warden-designate and also restrained Mr. Fernando from assuming office or holding office in either capacity.

Meanwhile, Colombo District Judge L.A.T. Ekanayake in a connected case, filed against the Board of Governors by five members of the S. Thomas' College Old Boys' Association (OBA), has dismissed a plea for an interim injunction to prevent the appointment of Mr. Fernando with costs.

Bank men lose rights case

A bench of three judges of the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously dismissed a Fundamental Rights application filed against the People's Bank by two bank employees, who alleged that the scheme for promotion to the grade of Deputy General Manager of the institution was flawed and as a result they were not selected for that post in violation of their rights.

The petitioners, K. Hewamallikage of Borella and B. Bulathsinghala of Kiribathgoda, both of whom had been amongst 14 candidates who had applied for the posts of DGM of the bank, charged that their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 12 ( 1 ) of the Constitution had been infringed. They cited the People's Bank, its Chairman, Board of Directors, General Manager and the Attorney General as respondents.

The court observed that the scheme for promotion itself was devised as a consequence of a judgement given by the same court in a Fundamental Rights application filed in 1994 where the previous appointments to the grade of DGM were successfully challenged by the petitioners. It observed moreover that one of the defects in the previous scheme was that the criteria for selection had not been disclosed in advance.

It was held that the petitioners had not succeeded in establishing that the scheme and the interview were fatally flawed or arbitrarily implemented and further that the allegation of bias also failed as it was not supported by credible evidence.

The bench constituted Justices Dr. A.R.B. Amerasinghe, S.W.B. Wadugodapitiya and A. De Z. Gunawardana.

CMC mulls move to up Library hall rates

By Kumaradasa Wagista

The demand for Colombo Public Library lobby, auditorium and the exhibition hall had been so great that chief librarian recently forwarded a report to the CMC's Standing Committee on Finance to revise their rates with effect from next year.

However a recommendation made by the finance committee to increase rates in the auditorium, exhibition hall and lobby was referred to the finance committee recently, as several Councillors opposed the increase.

Councillor Geethanjana Gunawardena suggested that "higher rates for sales of commercial ware may be increased but not in the auditorium."

The new rates recommended by the Finance Committee are: film shows and other recreational activities from Rs. 150 to Rs.200 per hour; meetings etc. Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per hour or Rs. 1000 per day. Sale of articles from Rs. 600 to Rs. 2000 per day or Rs. 400 per hour for a minimum of four hours.

The auditorium lobby charges for exhibitions, lectures, or meetings from Rs. 75 to Rs. 300 or Rs. 1200 per day. The exhibition hall rates have gone up from Rs. 150 to Rs. 600.

Further, an additional 50% of the normal charges will be levied if lights are used for the whole day or Rs. 200 per hour. The security deposit has been increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000.

MC status only in name

By Annesley Fernando

More than six months after Moratuwa was raised to municipal status, residents are wondering what's in a name because the town is still down in the dumps.

During the past few weeks of heavy rain, several roads in Moratuwa were water-logged, mainly because drains are broken or blocked and the roads were never properly repaired.

Wags in town have summed up this situation by putting up boards saying, "Space available for fish breeding - apply to Moratuwa MC."

Residents say the garbage problem is particularly bad. Roads, pavements and drains are filled with garbage, well patronised by dogs, cats and cattle.

The Municipal Council has spent a vast sum in buying garbage collecting vans and bins but the dirty story continues in this area.

Watch out: these maids won't stay

By M. Ismeth

Bogus job agencies operating in Colombo are carrying out a racket in supplying maids to houses in Sri Lanka, the Labour Ministry has warned.

A Labour Ministry official told The Sunday Times the bogus agencies were providing maids to Sri Lankan homes, the fee being Rs. 3,000 for the agency and Rs. 3,000 a month for the house maid.

The agencies give only a three month guarantee. What is happening is that within a short period the maid leaves the home for some reason and is sent to another with the agency getting another Rs. 3,000 as fees.

The racket came to light when a woman lawyer who recruited some of these maids from an agency found that the whole scheme was being manipulated with most of her maids leaving within a short time for some frivolous reason.

The Labour Ministry official said no licence had been issued for any such agency.

Another blow for displaced residents

By Shelani de Silva

After waiting for more than 10 years, some 150 displaced families in Batticaloa have been hit again with the compensation given to them being slashed by about Rs, 20,000 an affected resident said.

The lands of some 300 families had been taken over in 1985 for expansion of the Batticaloa airport. Bureaucratc red tape and indifference blocked the compensation despite repeated appeals made to government leaders and local officials.

An affected resident Geroge Pillai told The Sunday Times the Batticaloa Divisional Secretariat had without explanation reduced a large amount from the compensation payed to them.

The displaced families had been given 20 perches of land each outside Batticaloa town and it appears that Rs. 1000 has been reduced for each perch when the compensation was paid.

Mr Pillai and other residents feel this is unfair. An official of the Land Commission in Colombo said they were unaware of such a reduction but would look into the matter.

LTTE frees abducted Muslims and Sinhalese

Twenty Muslims and Sinhalese who were abducted by the LTTE in the Erakkandy area of the Trincomalee district three months ago were released yesterday to a representative of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).

An ICRC spokesmen said detainees were released at a location in the Wanni region.

The LTTE abducted 39 Muslims and Sinhala fishermen on July 2, after some of the villagers reportedly rescued two LTTE cadres who were drifting in the sea following an attack on a boat by the Navy and thereafter handed them over to the security forces.

Nineteen of them were released on two different occasions on 'humanitarian' grounds.

The ICRC spokesman said the captives released were being brought to Anuradhapura and are due to be taken to Trincomalee today.

Await the Pageant

The Annual Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera will be held on January 9,10, and11.

The Historic Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera had its origins in 1927 due largely to the efforts of the Philanthropist Don Walter Wijewardene.

The Dayaka Sabha has made elaborate arrangements to ensure the success of this historic religious pageant, much revered by all Sri Lankans.

Meticulous attention has been paid to all details with the objective of perpetuating the traditional rites, ritual and customs long associated with this magnificent pageant including the participation of traditional dancers, many caparisoned elephants and colourful parades, which have always made this event a night of all nights.

The Annual Pageant begins with the Udamaluwe Perahera on January 9. It will conclude with the Maha Perahera on January 11.

This Pageant has evolved over the years to a permanent position as the country's most elaborate and low country pageant.

CBK wants P & O deal to be hurried

By Chamintha Thilakarathna

The President wants an agreement on the privatization of the QEQ, by December 15. SLPA discussions with P & O will come to a close on that day followed by the signing of the agreement in March, according to SLPA officials.

President of the JSS (Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya), Mahilal Silva said that the P & O are in no position to pay the initial sum by the 15th, which is why the agreement is signed in March and not in December when the actual agreement is made. The QEQ is being sold for US $30 million per year.

Over a thousand workers will lose their jobs once the agreement is signed while the SLPA will lose millions in profit. The agreement is to BOOT (build, own, operate, and transfer) agreement where the P & O company will enjoy majority of the profits while the SLPA will be in possession of only 7% of the shares for thirty years.

At the same time, budget proposals have been made to upgrade and develop the QEQ as well. According to Mr. Mahilal, the P & O company has requested the government to develop the quay and then be sold to the company.

"They have complete authority once this is done. They can also direct all ships coming to the Colombo harbour to the QEQ which has the highest revenue," said Mr. Silva.

Susantha Ratnayaka, official of P & O said he did not wish to comment on the matter.

Himal Jayawardana Vs. Harry Jayawardana and another

Off–loaded AirLanka steward back on flights

By Frederica Jansz

The Supreme Court has granted leave to proceed in a fundamental rights petition filed against Chairman AirLanka, Harry Stassen Jayawardana and AirLanka Acting Manager Human Resource Management, M. Dias Amaratunga by flight steward Himal Jayawardana.

The Supreme Court also varied an interdiction order placed on Mr Jayawardana by AirLanka, according to which he would get his full pay and all other allowances other than the allowances payable when he is restored on flights, until the determination of the petition.

The court ruling on November 13 was in consequence to a dispute arising between top AirLanka officials and flight steward Jayawardana over a Sunday Times article on September 14 where Chairman AirLanka had spoken about the loss of bar sales money from a leading steward and had, it is alleged, called him a crook.

Mr Jayawardana was apparently interdicted after writing to Chairman Harry Jayawardana maintaining he has been publicly embarrassed and humiliated by the Chairman of AirLanka.

Mr Jayawardana in a letter to Harry Jayawardana had requested permission to write to The Sunday Times and clarify an alleged defamatory statement made against him. This permission had not been granted, instead Jayawardana was served an interdiction order.

Mr Jayawardana had in Tokyo on March 31 lost all duty free sales money and some personal cash, his passport, crew member certificate and AirLanka identity card.

The bar sales money amounting to some US$ 1963.23 was later claimed by Air Lanka from the Insurance Corporation of Ceylon after having accepted full payment from the steward for the said money.

After The Sunday Times article on September 14, the sum of US$ 1963.23. was reimbursed to Himal Jayawardana serving him with an interdiction order as well.

Faiz Mustapha P. C. appeared for the petitioner while Gomin Dayasiri appeared for the respondents, D. Harry Stassen Jayawardana, Chairman AirLanka and Dias Amaratunga, Acting Manager Human Resources Development, AirLanka Ltd.

Anura to talk on Lalith

Parliamentarian and UNP stalwart Anura Bandaranaike, will deliver the 4th Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Lecture on Wednesday at 5.30 p.m. at the BMICH.

The Function is organized by the Lalith Athulathmudali Foundation to Commemorate his 61st Birth Anniversary.

Foreign medical graduates sue Health Minister

By Shyamal A. Collure

The Supreme Court has granted leave to proceed in respect of 29 fundamental rights petitions filed by foreign qualified medical graduates, who are claiming a total of Rs. 58 million as compensation for alleged losses suffered by them as a result of changes in the qualifying examinations.

The students said the earlier guidelines of the Sri Lanka Medical Council allowed foreign qualified medical graduates to sit the Act 16 examination either before, during or after the internship. But this had been changed from April 11, this year and as a result now they had to sit this exam. before they began their internship.

"The internship is not only a continuation of the medical education of a practitioner, but also marks the start of the medical service of the intern. It is from the date of the start of the internship that the seniority of an intern is determined and also in the granting of pension," the student said. A delay in this would cause great hardships and disadvantages to them, they said.

They said they had a legitimate expectation that the earlier rules would apply to them on their return to Sri Lanka. Therefore they had incurred heavy expenses in pursuit of their studies. They felt the new guidelines were arbitrary, capricious, mala fide and had been formulated with the ulterior motive of favouring the locally qualified medical graduates. The students are claiming Rs 2 million each as compensation from the Health Minister, the Secretary to the Ministry, the SLMC and other respondents.

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