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17th May 1998

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Development aid for CMC

By Kumaradasa Wagista

Colombo, from among many other cities in the region, has been selected for assistance on projects that would benefit the ratepayer.

This was revealed at a media conference held at the Town Hall recently presided over by Deputy Mayor Omar Kamil.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) and the British government are the principal sponsors of this project. This decision has been taken by the Institution of Municipal Management. A major portion of US $ million, aid reservation will be spent on Colombo.

The lending agencies have agreed to help the Colombo Municipal Council on four important programmes on 'continuous improvement, team work', 'benchmaking' and 'poverty audit'. "It has been found out that Councils or Governments in developing countries alone cannot provide development projects to people. Therefore private sector assistance and participation is necessary," Mr. Beattie, one of the consultants in the project said.

The spirits were too high that fatal day

By H.P.P. Perera

After a hard day's work in husking coconuts in a Kalutara estate two workmen went in search of some arrack.

As all the bars and liquor shops were closed they settled for some spirits of wine.

The next day both of them started vomitting and later died of blood poisoning, an inquest was told. In village areas, especially many people take spirits of wine as liquor because it is cheap. But these spirits, generally used for petromax lamps are generally diluted with lots of water - one bottle of water to a teaspoonful of spirit. But the two victims identified as Wijeratne and Wijesena apparently used less water and paid a fatal price.

FEB chief points finger at Qatar employers

By Anton Gunasekera

Sri Lanka is to repatriate 125 Sri Lankans employees who have been served with quit notices by the Qatar government on charges made by Arab employers that they had violated terms of employment. But a Sri Lankan official has refuted those charges.

The Qatar government's primary contention is that these employees had found more lucrative forms of employment without prior notice.

Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Doha have liaised to ensure that the Lankans are brought back home before the May 20 deadline.

Bureau Chairman Kapila Abeyratne told "The Sunday Times" they had allocated Rs. 1.5 million as part expenses of the cost of repatriation.

Mr. Abeyratne said that, according to his understanding, the Arab employers had recruited these innocent village youth through illicitly-operated job "Agencies" in Colombo suburbs and provincial capitals.

Once the victims have boarded their flights, these "Agencies" vanish from the temporarily-rented premises, leaving no trace of their whereabouts for Police or Bureau action.

Following reports reaching the Bureau from affected employees and a fax message to the Foreign Ministry by our Embassy in Doha that the employees have been provided with every possible facility, including accommodation until repatriation, the Bureau has asked the Embassy to register them, prior to sending them back.

Mr. Abeyratne contended that the employees concerned had not been paid their promised wages for months and were eking out an existence by borrowing from other sympathetic Sri Lankans there.

Hours of work extended beyond the terms of the agreement, no overtime had been added and more importantly, they were subjected to mental and physical harassment, if they refused to work at the sites.

Mr. Abeyratne said: "In several such similar incidents, our Foreign Ministry and Labour Ministry had risen to the occasion promptly and proved to offending governments that their employers were the very ones who signed deceitful agreements and were responsible for violations, including delay or non-payment of due wages."

First conscript PA MPs' sons-Ranil

By Dilrukshi Handunneththi

UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe has called on PA MPs to set an example by first enlisting their children, if the government intends mass conscription of rural youth.

UNP leader who conducted an evaluation programme of cluster

organizations at the Badulla Town Hall on Friday, said that people at the highest level should set an example at this crucial hour.

Mr. Wickremasinghe gave many examples where national leadership all over the world made similar sacrifices.

'During the First World War, the King of England's two sons were in the army. President Roosevelt's nephew Elieu Roosevelt, was enlisted when the nation was at war. The Duke of Kent, brother of King George VI, served the Royal Air Force. Churchill's son was an army officer and sons of many ministers of his government joined the forces.

Mr. Wickremasinghe noted that one shining example in this regard was Stalin, whose son was a Russian soldier, when he was captured by German troops, the General offered to exchange Stalin's son for a German Field Marshall in Russian captivity.

But Stalin's response was that of amusement. He asked whether the Germans were crazy to exchange a common soldier for a Field Marshall and his son was secretly killed.

The army Commander has recently stated that if the war could be won, there was no need for a political package. If 90% of the war was won, as claimed by the government, there was no need to recall deserters and to launch a massive recruitment drive, Mr. Wickremasinghe concluded.

Paralysed maid back next week

From our Dubai correspondent

Harassed Sri Lankan housemaid, Mallika Perera, is to return home next week, three months after leaping out of a first floor flat to escape from 'cruel employers', as she calls them.

She is, however, partially paralysed and the Sri Lankan Embassy said that they have ordered a special stretcher at a cost of Dh 9,000 for Ms. Perera.

According to a Gulf News report Ms. Perera said that she had been beaten with all sorts of objects by her employers in the state of Fujairah.

"I would be beaten if one of the children was naughty or crying," said Ms. Perera, who was alleged that she was only permitted to eat the left overs, if any. On many occasions, she said, she went to bed hungry.

She had hardly worked two months for her sponsors who had recruited her through an agency, who she claims, did not take her complaints seriously. After being returned to the agency within a week by her unsatisfied employer, Ms. Perera was again forced by her agents to return to the sponsor, it is alleged.

After enduring the reported beating and harassment, she decided that the only way out was to jump through the kitchen window and escape in the wee hours of the morning and was injured. She fell and was injured despite shouting non stop for over three hours, the neighbours only heard her after the morning prayers, at 5 am.

She was rushed by police to the nearby Kalba Hospital but since it was not equipped with the proper facilities, they warded her at the Fujairah Hospital where doctors warned her she might not walk again after finding that her spinal cord had been broken.

Doctors even told the distraught mother of a seven-year-old daughter, that she may live only two more years as she did not have any bowel or bladder movements.

However, this week, the doctors at the hospital told 'Gulf News' that "they were satisfied with the outcome of the surgery and that the patient was getting back some feelings to her lower back."

President's guards in Nugegoda shooting frenzy?

Some lower rung men in the Presidential security devision who travelled in vehicles without number plates are alleged to have bashed up the brother of the PA Kotte Deputy Mayor in a pre dawn shooting frenzy apparently involving some underworld figures .

According to Deputy Mayor Mahesh Palitha Perera, his brother Rohana Perera and three others were not only beaten up but one was shot on the knee allegedly by a lower rung member of the Presidential security division outside a restaurant on Pagoda Road, Nugegoda, on May Day.

Though a complaint was made by Mr. Perera and subsequently by those who were injured, to the Mirihana Police, no action has been taken so far, the deputy mayor charged.

But the police denied the charge and said arrests would be made soon, Headquarters Inspector, W.A. B.S.T. Kasturiratne, told The Sunday Times.

Rohana Perera, a businessman involved in the import and export trade was thoroughly shaken up by the attack. He told The Sunday Times, that on May 1 around 2.30 a.m. he and six others were returning from his workplace in three vehicles when they stopped outside the restaurant to buy cigarettes. One of his employees, Douglas, and he went into the restaurant but no cigarettes were available and they got back to the car.Just then they saw around 10 to 15 men running out of the restaurant, brandishing weapons and firing in the air .They had apparently being having a drinking session.

Mr. Perera said he jumped into the car and made way for Douglas to get in. But the armed gang removed the ignition keys from the three vehicles and Mr. Perera was hit on the head with a weapon. He fell unconscious inside the car.It is alleged that one of the security men then smashed the windscreen and shot at Douglas., with the bullet going through his knee.

Douglas speaking from his hospital bed told The Sunday Times he could identify the person who shot at him. He said he knew the attacker to be a member of the Presidential Security Division. He said that this particular person was from Beddegana and was known to many people in the area.

The suspect is also alleged to have links with underworld gangs. Deputy Mayor Mahesh Perera also confirmed this.

While Rohana Perera and others were beaten up on one side, two others, S. Seniviratne and K. Prabhat were bashed by other gangsters.

Mr. Seneviratne was hit on the forehead by a pistol and Mr. Prabhat was first hit on the head with a weapon ,then beaten and pushed into a drain, until he fell unconscious.Mr. Prabhat was found bleeding profusely from the head.

Three others who were with Rohana Perera fled the area. It is alleged that the gang also took away Rs. 17,000 from Mr. Seniviratne's pocket ,two gold chains and a bracelet belonging to Mr.Prabhat.

The victims said they had no idea why they were shot at and beaten up. They said they saw the attackers get away in three vehicles, two Fargo and one Pajero, all without number plates.

The attackers were known to regularly visit this restaurant where they often meet with underworld elements. Meanwhile, the Deputy Mayor has sent a petition to the President, and the police chief giving the whole story and appealing for action.

The injured were first treated at the Kalubowila Hospital and later transferred to the General Hospital. Rohana Perera had been unconscious for three days. Douglas is still in hospital while the other two have recovered.

"Where is this going to end?" asked Mr. Mahesh Perera, himself a PA member.On the one hand the President wants a clamp down on underworld gangs - but see what is happening?

One .45 spent cartridge was found inside the car by the Police who went to the scene around 8 a.m. on May 1.

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