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13th September 1998

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PCI begins probe on disappearances

By S.S.Selvanayagam

The probe into the disappearances in and around Rambewa in the Medawachchiya district has been initiated by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry(PCI) headed by Ms Manouri Muttetuwegama, from September 11.

The Commission comprising retired High Court judge P.Balavadivel and retired Commissioner General of Prisons H.G.Dharmadasa will probe into about 232 complaints on disappearances of persons and evidence in this connection too would be recorded.

The administrative arrangements for these inquiries have been made by the Commission's Secretary M.C.M.Iqbal.

The Commission has received complaints from Anuradhapura, Megodawewa, Sivalakulama, Medawachchiya, Kekirawa, Mihintale, Kebitigollewa, Saliyapura, Horowpotana, Galenbindunuwewa, Talawa, Angamuwa and other places.

A complaint of the removal of seven persons from the same village in Poonewa and abduction of six persons from the same family in Medawachchiya and their disappearances are also to be inquired into.

Apollo information in Sri Lanka

Patients who wished to go to the famous Apollo Hospital in Chennai for specialized treatment can now obtain any information in Sri Lanka free of charge.

No fees are charged or commissions received from the hospital for this service which is provided purely on humanitarian grounds.

Those who need information could contact J Weerarathna, C/o Four Winds Travel, 542, R. A. de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3.

PHIs refuse to supervise

By H. P. P. Perera

There were heated arguments and an exchange of words among public health inspectors, the Chairman and members of the Urban Council when public health inspectors refused to supervise the spraying of malathion in the Kalutara UC area, by labourers.

UC Chairman Nalin Mahes Perera said that although P.H.I, W. M. Gunapala stated at the last meeting that the P.H.Is, would contact him and the head of the Department of Health Services, they had not done so even at the committee meeting. The services of public health inspectors are essential as sanitary conditions in the Kalutara UC area are degenerating, he said.

UC member, Dharmasena Fernando said that immediate action should be taken to obtain the services of three more PHIs.

The chairman stated it was impossible to obtain approval for three additional PHIs from the Commissioner of Local government, but it would be possible to obtain approval to obtain the service of one PHI to supervise the spraying of malathion and for the filaria prevention campaign.

The chairman instructed the PHIs to inspect hotels and eating-houses regularly and submit reports at the health committee meeting.

Maldives Presidential nomination begins

The Maldives' elections commissioner, Abdulla Rasheed, today invited nominations for the post of president in this Indian Ocean archipelago.

Nomination papers will be received till September 19 .

According to the revised electoral procedures, the elections commissioner will ascertain whether the individuals who file their nomination papers by the deadline meet the criteria stipulated in the Constitution to become president, and forward a list of eligible candidates to the peoples' Majlis (Parliament). The Majlis will, by secret ballot, select a candidate who will be put to a nation-wide public vote for election as president for a five-year term beginning on November 11, this year. Every Maldivian over the age of 21 will be eligible to vote.

According to previous procedures, the Majlis selected, without nominations, a candidate who was then put to a public vote.

Since winning his first election in 1978, Mr.Gayoom has been re-elected president, on the merit of his performance and without nomination, at three successive elections, each time with outstanding public support.

"The people have set the pace, and the Government has followed," said President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom addressing a special meeting which was the centrepiece of a week of festivities to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the second republic anniversary.

Througout the country, people have decorated streets with carnival lights, national colours, handsomely constructed street arches, and colourful banners in a striking display of community and national spirit. Entertainers and other artistes responded to the festive spirit by staging live music shows, dances and plays in many parts of Male the captial, drawing large audiences of all ages.

"This is a happy nation. We are in festive mood", said Ali Ibrahim, a young resident of Male who was active in organising his neighbours in decorating their street.

Mohamed Ismail, 32, a community organiser of one of the four wards of Male said that he was delighted by the huge and enthusiastic response of the people. "The people are leading the way, showing the depth of the community spirit and their faith in the political system that the nation had adopted 30 years ago," he said.

The Maldives had previously been a Sultanate for all its recorded history except for a few brief periods, including that of the first republic for one and a half years in 1953-54.

Call for commissioner to protect Indian Tamils

The Indian Tamil Network, a newly formed organisation, has appealed to President Kumaratunga to appoint a commissioner for their community after the attack on three estates in the Ratnapura district on Thursday.

The organisation condemned the attack on Indian-Tamil plantation workers in Alupola Estate, Agarsland Estate and Rasagalle Estate, a statement from the Indian Tamil Network said.

The group wanted to appoint a commissioner for Indian Tamil affairs with sufficient powers to look after the interests of the Indian Tamil community. The organisation also requested a committee be appointed to probe the Ratnapura incident. It said the body should comprise MPs, members of the Indian Tamil community, human rights activists in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu and a representative of the Indian High Commission, the statement said.

The Indian Tamil Network wants the report to include the recommendation of compensation for the affected and provision for their rehabilitation, a suitable conflict resolution mechanism to manage relations between Indian Tamils and Sinhalese, safety of estate employees and legislation to be formulated to define ethnic violence and protect civic rights.

The statement stressed that Indian Tamils have been repeatedly subjected to anti-Tamil violence and those responsible for such violence have not been convicted or punished.

Meeting on 'free and fair elections'

The United National Party has convened a meeting to spotlight the need for free and fair elections and the depoliticisation of key institutions by establishing an independent Elections Commission, an Independent Public Service Commission and an independent Police Commission. The meeting will take place at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Independence Square, tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.

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