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19th April 1998

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Buddhists question Canada's silence

Sri Lankans and friends of Sri Lanka took their fight against the supporters of Eelam to the Canadian Parliament, when they staged a demonstration in Ottawa to highlight atrocities committed by the LTTE.

More then 115 people including Canadians, monks and laymen from several Buddhist countries, along with women and children, took part in the demonstration, which was held on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital. The demonstration, the first public outcry against LTTE terrorism ever to be staged in Ottawa, was jointly organised by Friends of Sri Lanka and the Ottawa Chapter of the World Buddhist Forum.

Amongst the demonstrators were Buddhist monks and laymen representing Buddhist temples in the Ottawa area, who gathered to protest the January 25 bombing of the Sri Dalada Maligawa by the LTTE and Canada's silence over the bombing. They were from Cambodia, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

"Buddhists from many other countries have gathered here to show Canada that when the LTTE bombed the Dalada Maligawa, they also attacked the sentiments of Buddhists all over the world," Venerable Ambalangoda Suddhamma Thero, President of the Ottawa Chapter of the World Buddhist Forum, said.

"The Buddhist community was dismayed when Canada officially did not condemn this barbaric attack on the Dalada Maligawa, while many countries and many world leaders did. We urge Canada to openly condemn this type of attack, which will help Sri Lanka safeguard its places of religious worship from attackers," he said.

At the end of the demonstration, the thero handed over a letter to an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urging Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy to condemn attacks on places of religious worship. The letter pointed out that the attack on the Dalada Maligawa was a deliberate and well-planned move to spark communal violence throughout Sri Lanka. The letter mentioned it was only through sheer will and faith that the people of Sri Lanka avoided another bloodbath, Suddhamma Thero said.

Meanwhile the rest of the demonstrators focused on other recent bombings on civilians by the LTTE and on how Canadian supporters of the terrorist organization helped raise funds for these bombings.

Liquor plays havoc during New Year

By Christopher Kamalendran

Liquor consumption during the festive season increased this year resulting in a large number of road accidents and violent incidents.

The Excise Department in a bid to keep down the sale of unauthorised liquor and illicitly brewed liquor launched a series of raids countrywide seizing nearly rupees one million worth of liquor.

Hospital sources from various parts of the country said that most of the accidents and incidents reported during the New Year day were caused under the influence of liquor. They were expecting more as most of the Avurudhu celebrations were due to take place over the weekend.

The Colombo National Hospital alone had more then 600 casualties in three days.

Director of the Accident Service at the National Hospital Dr. Hector Weerasinghe confirmed that the number of persons admitted to hospital following accidents or incidents were caused by drink.

"Even people bringing in the casualties are drunk. This causes several problems as they enter into arguments with the hospital staff. It is very difficult to convince them that the best possible attention is being given to their patient", he said.

He added that on an average, the hospital receives a patient every 15 minutes.

Excise Department officials said they conducted a series of raids in Kandy, Gampaha and Matale and arrested 32 persons for selling liquor without a license or for the sale of illicit liquor.

One of the biggest raids was carried out during the festive season in the Kiribathgoda area where Rs. 700,000 worth of illicit liquor was seized.

According to the Department within the past three months they had brought in revenue of Rs 1.1 million from raids.

Meanwhile liquor dealers said that sales were up during this season compared to the previous year.

Commonwealth Chief begins Lanka visit

Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku arrived here on Friday on a three-day visit during which he will meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga and other government officials.

Chief Anyaoku will call on Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Gamini Peiris to discuss Commonwealth-related matters.

The secretary-general, whose visit coincides with that of U.S. representative to the United Nations Bill Richardson, is scheduled to address a news conference tomorrow.

Chief Anyaoku's visit follows a recent appeal to Britain by Mr. Kadirgamar to crack down on LTTE guerrillas who he said were organising and funding their campaign of violence from London.

Snail mail may derail economy

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

As the postal go slow moved into its second month a business Chief has warned of crippling economic effects on the country.

Patrick Amarasinghe, President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told The Sunday Times that hundreds of business establishments were facing severe problems as millions of letters including registered cheques remained piled up at mail sorting offices.

He said repots reaching the Federation indicated that the situation was reaching crisis proportions and the overall economic damage to the country could be severe.

Meanwhile, the Union of Post and Telegraph Officers (UPTO) which launched the strike on an overtime dispute is now demanding that Postal Chief Soma Kotakadeniya be removed.

UPTO secretary N. P. Hettiarachchi told The Sunday Times the union would not resume normal work until the government agreed to sack Ms. Kotakadeniya whom the union accuses of acting arrogantly and arbitrarily.

Meanwhile, the Union of Posts and Telecom Officers (UPTO) yesterday accused Minister Mangala Samaraweera of trying to double cross by not inviting them for talks but some unionists who are not involved.

Mr. Hettiarachchi told The Sunday Times if the minister intended to solve the trade union problem he should have invited them.

He described the meeting Mr. Samaraweera had with some postal trade unions as fake.

Mr. Hettiarachchi said his union had decided to sue the minister for comments such as 'fascists' and 'Mafia' he is alleged to have been made on several occasions against the UPTO.

He said the minister would not be able to restore the postal services as claimed by the state-run television. "Without our support how can the minister restore the services?" he asked.

In the meantime, Minister Alive Moulana is taking steps to settle the labour unrest by talking to 21 trade unions at a special meeting on Monday .

However, the UPTO will not attend this meeting as it does not belong to the JCTU.

Jaffna youth to get a taste of south

By Akmeemana Jayawardene

Building a bridge between the north and the south, some 50 boys and girls from northern districts will stay for five days with Sinhala families of two southern villages.

This new year mission of ethnic unity will begin tomorrow when 45 boys and five girls from Jaffna and other northern districts move into the Yakkamulla and Habaraduwa A.G.A divisions. During this programme organised by the National Youth Services Council, the northern youth will stage cultural shows and other items depicting Hindu Tamil traditions.

They will stay with some 20 Sinhala families and visit several work sites to understand deeper relationships with people.

In return the people of the south will stage Sinhala Buddhist, cultural and religious events to highlight the ties that bind the two communities together.

Keells and Central Finance to set up bank?

By Asantha Sirimanne

John Keells Holdings and Central Finance are to set up a new commercial bank in the country if the Central Bank grants them a licence.

"We are having preliminary discussions with Central Finance and the authorities to explore the feasibility of setting up a commercial bank," a top JKH official said.

The Kandy based Central Finance is one of the country's oldest finance companies. As a deposit taking institution it is already regulated by the Central Bank.

Financial analysts believe JKH and Central Finance may even take over the operations of a foreign bank that is planning to pull out of the country instead of starting a bank from scratch.

Central Finance Group Chairman Chandra Wijenaike who was a director of Hatton National Bank recently resigned. Central Bank regulations prohibit individuals from being directors in two banks.

John Keells Holdings and Central Finance had previously set up a unit trust management company as a joint venture.

Central Finance also has other financial services companies engaged in portfolio investment and venture capital. JKH also has an investment bank, Waldock MacKenzie Ltd.

More News/Comment * BJP top defence adviser here * AirLanka-Emirates deal: summary of transactions * Police await "damning dossier" on Clarke * Strike victims on May Day fast * Lanka's 'dole' bill tops Rs. 21 billion * Madiwela project in legal muddle

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