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30th August 1998

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Mandira Bedi - Shanthi
Indian TV star Mandira Bedi was in tears
as she drove out of the JAIC Hilton Towers
after a dream visit to Sri Lanka during which
thousands of fans gave her a reception normally
given only to a popular dignitary or a world super
star. The economics graduate and journalist who
plays the role of a reporter in the popular TV
drama Shanthi was here to mark the screening
of the 500th episode of the series.
Pic by - Lakshman Gunatileka.
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UNP going ahead

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

The main Opposition UNP is going ahead with a series of meetings in protest against the postponement of provincial polls, despite contradictory orders by the police, General Secretary Gamini Atukorale said.

He said that obstructions by certain sections of the police and politicians would not disrupt the UNP's campaign in support of the peoples right to vote. Three protest campaigns in the Kegalle District ran into trouble when the permit issued for the Galigamuwa meeting was withdrawn at the last moment without reason, an MP said. Kegalle District Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim said he had demanded that the police should give reasons so that he could file a fundamental rights petition in Court. The police then reissued the permit.

There was no problem about the meetings in Mawanella and Dehiowita. UNP sources said they had learnt that the police were reluctant to allow the meeting in Galigamuwa on the basis that the Presidential Mobile Secretariat was being held in the area and security could not be provided for both.

The UNP's first protest rally at Hyde Park in Colombo on August 14 drew a crowd much less than expected and the party leader had probed whether some district organisers did not fully co-operate. Despite this the party is going ahead with the series of meetings.

Minister threatens to tell all

By H.P.P. Perera

Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake has threatened to disclose the contents of a secret agreement between Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government before the postponement of Provincial Council Elections.

"If they agitate for an election I would not hesitate to reveal the talk held with the Leader of the Opposition" said Home Affairs, Public Administration and Plantation Industries Minister Wickramanayake addressing the crowd at the handing over of deeds of ownership to 400 families at the Kalutara divisional secretariat . PC elections were postponed indefinitely under emergency regulations reportedly due to the government not wishing to release security personnel at the elections.

Spokesman for the UNP, Dr Kodituwakku told The Sunday Times "As far as we are concerned there is nothing to hide."

Rajitha defends speech

The latest political bomb- shell over an allegedly vulgar speech made by UNP Parliamentarian Rajitha Seneratne has taken a new turn with the MP appealing to religious prelates and the justice minister to protect the country's children from high ranking homosexuals.The first salvo was fired by state television Rupavahini last Monday when it telecast excerpts from Dr. Seneratne's Matara speech in which he made allegedly obscene remarks about a government minister.

But in a statement issued on Thursday Dr. Senaratne said the theme and thrust of his speech was the decline in moral values and child abuse.

Pardon glittered more than the gold

By Mohammed Qassim in Saudi Arabia

A Sri Lankan maid has been nabbed with half a million rupees worth of gold jewellery which she had allegedly stolen from her workplace in Riyadh - but she was spared the strict punishment of amputation of hand by her Saudi employer.

The 40-year-old housemaid from Beruwela had been working with a Saudi family for the past 10 months before she suddenly disappeared. Her Saudi employer sought the help of Sri Lankan embassy in Riyadh to trace the missing maid.

Labour Counsellor Daya Senaratne said he was clueless because no person by that name had sought refuge in the embassy, but he agreed to show runaway housemaids being sheltered at the embassy.

The sponsor identified his maid and also found the stolen jewellery.

Mr. Senaratne told The Sunday Times the maid had given a fake name on her admission to the embassy camp.

He said, the Saudi employer graciously pardoned her and also offered her a return air ticket to Colombo. The stolen gold jewellery included four necklaces, three bracelets, three chains, nine bangles and a belt normally worn by Saudi women at weddings.

Case against Ravaya amicably settled

A case filed by Upali Group Chairman Sivali Ratwatte against the Ravaya Newspaper for publishing a report headlined "Divaina Mudalalis Arms Business exposed" was amicably settled.

The Ravaya agreed that the news item was based on some misinformation and said it would carry a retraction and apology.

'No to emergency, no to postponement of polls'

A group of intellectuals, journalists, trade unionists and artists have expressed concern over the extension of the state of emergency islandwide and the postponement of Provincial elections.

The group in a statement said:

"We as a group of concerned citizens are perturbed at the imposition of all-island Emergency to postpone provincial council elections, and the grave consequences for democratic governance resulting from this action! We note that elections in Sri Lanka have been postponed before with disastrous consequences for democracy, peace and stability. We also note that in the past, elections have been held in Sri Lanka when the security situation was worse and the threat to democracy graver. The logic of the Government's decision is, therefore, that the exercise of the fundamental right to the franchise is to be conditioned by the uncertain fortunes of a military offensive.

"Our concern is centred on the corrosive effects of this decision for democracy. The exercise of the franchise is a fundamental right of the citizenry and the responsibility for holding elections is a basic duty of the Government of the day in a functioning democracy.

"Furthermore, emergency powers - with the suspension of democratic rights they entail - should not be resorted to lightly. They are to be availed of only in extraordinary circumstances.

"We are of the firm belief that the imposition of all-island Emergency to postpone elections on the grounds of security is, in this instance, unwarranted, and has clearly been taken for partisan political reasons. "Instead of seriouly considering options like the staggering of elections which would manifestly signal the Government' commitment to uphold democratic norms and practices, the Government has resorted to declaring an Emergency as a temporary expedient for political reasons. This decision has blatantly negated the Government's commitment to democratic governance boldly stated in its 1994 election manifesto with regard to the use of the emergency to postpone elections. The 1994 People's Alliance Manifesto reiterates, "The State's powers to change laws governing any aspect of the conduct of elections, by having recourse to Emergency Regulations promulgated under the Public Security Ordinance, will be removed."

"We demand that the Government and all political parties restore public confidence in the institutions and practices of democratic governance. As the first and crucial step in this direction we demand that the Government revoke the all-island Emergency with immediate effect and proceed with the provincial council elections.

"We call upon all citizens to write to the President saying " NO! to the all-island Emergency and NO! to the postponement of elections", and to demand that democratic rights and freedoms be upheld and that accordingly the elections be held without delay.

The signatories are

Prof. Vijay Kumar, Prof. P. V. J. Jayasekara, Dr. (Ms) Moira Tampoe Dr. Lilamani de Silva, Dr. Nawaratna Banda, Dr. Michael Fernando , Attanayaka M. Herath, Dr. Sisira Pinnawala, Jayaratna Maliyagoda, S. Balakrishnan, Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardene, Jayatilleke Kammallaweera, Gunadasa Kapuge, Kapila Kumara Kalinga, Suranjith Hewamanna, Kelly Senanayake, Jiffry Yoonoos, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, Victor Ivan, Nayanananda Wijekulathileka Air Vice Marshal Harry Gunatilleke, Dr. Arjuna Parakrama, Tissa Abeysekera, Waruna Karunatilleke, Rohan Edrisinha, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Sunila Abeysekera, Kumudhini Samuel, Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Qadri Ismail, Arittha Wikremanayake, Austin Fernando, Prof. A.J. Goonewardena, Janaka Biyanwela, Dr. Kumari Jayawardena and, Susantha Hiththatiyage.

Sellamuttu killing

Where's the one million rupee missing watch?

By Chris Kamalendran

A desire for rare wrist watches led to a date with a bloody destiny for a young businessman- while the million rupee watch is still missing.

An islandwide police alert enabled them to make a major breakthrough in the probe of the killing of young businessman Sudarshan Sellamuttu at Kotahena last Sunday.

Hours after the killing all police stations in the country were alerted to look for a suspect who was believed to have been injured during the attack on young Mr. Sellamuttu.

"Detectives who visited the scene of the crime felt there were other persons involved in the incident. All hospitals were alerted and we were tipped off from the Ragama hospital about an injured person who they felt suspicious of, " Colombo Detective Bureau Chief, Superintendent Upali Hewage said.

Sudarshan SellamuttuHe said one of the persons allegedly involved in the crime had got himself admitted to the hospital on the pretext of being injured in a fall from a three wheeler. But a CDB team which visited the suspect took him to custody and interrogation revealed he was directly involved in the crime.

The Sunday drama began when Mr.Sellamuttu who was known for his interest in expensive wrist watches was told about the availibility of a valuable Swiss Rolex watch .

The tip came from a business contact. He had visited the place earlier on August 18 but was told the watch was not available and he could call over again but unaccomapnied, police said.

Around 9.30 p.m. Mr. Sellamuttu left his plush Flower Rd. home without saying exactly where he was going.

He was accompanied by none other than the alleged master-mind of the plot to kill him. Mr. Sellamuttu drove in his own Pajero.

At Grandpass two other accomplices were picked up while another trishaw driver was told to follow, according to details being pieced together by detectives.

As they reached Kotahena and started walking down Green Lane one of the three who were accompanying him pelted a brick at Mr. Sellamuttu's head.

The burly young businessman reacted by grabbing one of them, but another accomplice stabbed him mercilesly .

In the process one of the gang members was also injured.

Mr. Sellamuttu was left behind to die while the other seriously injured accomplice was admitted to the National Hospital. Mr. Sellamuttu was later taken to hospital by the Police but was found dead on admission. The alleged accomplice of the killer also died in hospital.

The third injured person had got himself admitted to the Ragama hospital.

Police on Friday said they had not recovered the wristwatch yet while the suspects claim they did not have it.

JVP calls for old and the new

By Roshan Peiris

The JVP is calling on former members to rejoin the party as it launches a full scale campaign for the abolition of the Executive Presidency and an end to emergency rule.

Spokesman Vimal Weerawansa said JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe had signed letters inviting former members to rejoin while the recruitment of new members is also in full swing.

He said the JVP was appealing to other socialist parties and the MEP to join in ending the executive presidency and emergency rule while demanding that provincial elections be held immediately.

The JVP spokesman slammed the ruling SLFP as a capitalist party but also stressed that the JVP would have nothing to do with the UNP.

Inspector gets leave to proceed

By K.M. Weeraratne

The Supreme Court granted leave to proceed in the fundamental Rights petition filed against the order of compulsory leave for Inspector Sudath Rohana Kumara Chandrasekara, the opposition leader's chief security officer for the last 15 years.

Justices Mark Fernando, Ranjith Dheeraratne and Laksman Weerasekara formed the Bench.

The petition will be supported by Tilak Marapana PC with Nalim Ladduwahetti on September 14.

Hearing will begin on November 14.

Ministry bungalows pose threat

Residents of the Manning Town housing complex have complained to the Public Service Commission, accusing two top ranking officials of the Education Ministry of renting out official bungalows to strangers for a fee.

"They are committing an offence under section 19 of the Apartment ownership law of 1973 and the public nuisance laws by turning an apartment into a circuit bungalow. At the same time, several strangers stay inthe bungalow, claiming to be education ministry officials," said a resident of the D3 block.

The residents say that one get a birds' eye view of the Military Police headquarters from the said apartment. The dissatisfied residents said they also made police complaints, warning that the premises could be used for anti-state activities. But no action has been taken. Education Ministry officials were not available for comment immediately.

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