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10th January 1999
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When will 21st century begin?

By Ayesha R. Rafiq
With year 2000 almost upon us, the debate is now on between science authorities and astrologers as to whether the new millennium will actually begin in the year 2000 or 2001.

Science fiction whiz, Sir Arthur C. Clarke has explained the new millennium will actually begin on January 1, 2001 and not 2000 as is popularly believed.

He explains that the Western calendar actually starts with Year 1, and not Year 0. By January 1, 2000, we would only have had 99 years of this century. 

"If the scale on your grocer's weighing machine began at 1 instead of 0, would you be happy when he claims he has sold you 10kg of tea? This same principle applies to the calculation of when the new millennium begins," Prof. Clarke says.

Local astrologers are however divided on the issue.

"The 21st century and the third millennium begins when year 2000 ends astrologer H.G. Atukorale says. However it has been calculated,that it won't have any impact on future events," he said. 

He said that forecasts and horoscopes will not be affected whichever way the new millennium is calculated. 

Astrologer H.J. Jayatissa of the Hewa Astrological Bureau however says many of the local astrologers will take year 2000 as the beginning of new millennium.

"It won't however have any impact on horoscopes because whether the 21st century begins in 2000 or 2001, the planetary positions will remain the same," he said.

2000 or 2001?

Prominent scientist and professionals have accepted Dr. Arthur C Clarke's observations on when the new century begins.

According to Dr. Clarke the Western Calendar starts with Year 1 and not year 0, therefore the 21st century and the third Millennium does not begin until January 1, 2001.

Supporting this observation Director, Institute of Computer Technology, Professor V K Samaranayake said he accepts the theory, but added nothing will be affected. "It all depends on the public, how they will react in terms of celebrating the event. However the Millennium Bug will be affecting us from next year," he said.

On a lighter note Prof. Samaranayake said that we should celebrate throughout year 2000. Director, Fundamental Studies Professor Tennakoon pointed out that it is a matter of convention. Basically there is not much value in the issue since it does not affect humanity, he said. 

Remember those who suffer

The All Ceylon Hindu Congress (ACHC) has appealed to Hindus in Sri Lanka to refrain from celebrations on Thai Pongal Day and to make offerings to those suffering due to deprivation of their peace, freedom and right to equality. 

"Hindus in Sri Lanka are still in the unfortunate situation of having to live for more than 15 years as refugees in their own country with their fundamental right to live as citizens with freedom and equality being deprived, ACHC President V. Kailasapillai said.

The ACHC has also asked the public to help them to extend its social welfare activities, especially in sponsoring a students hostel for needy children, which it has been doing for the past 10 months.

Thai Pongal which falls on January 15, is a day in the Hindu calendar devoted to prayers and thanksgiving. Hindus offer 'Pongal' to God for the benefits they receive from the sun and particularly from their harvests in the fields.

Crocodile in fishing net

By Faraza Farook
A 12 ft, male crocodile was captured on Friday at Angulana by fishermen in the area, Dr Nandana Atapattu from the Wild Life Department said.

The captured crocodile."This is the first time in Sri Lanka that a crocodile has been captured from the sea," Dr. Atapattu said. He explained that only two types of crocodiles existed in Sri Lanka-the Estuarine Crocodile and the Marsh Crocodile. Both species survive in brackish water (lagoons) and cannot survive in the sea.

Dr Atapattu said, the crocodile weighing 60 to 70 kg is presently at the Dehiwela Zoological Gardens and will be transferred to the Bundala National Park within the next week.

Describing the capture he said: "The creature who had got entangled in a fishing net was brought to shore with the assistance of the fisherman and Wild Life Department officials. Thereafter the crocodile's forelegs, hind legs and mouth were tied. He was then tied on to a plank to prevent him from using his tail. He was them transferred to the Dehiwela Zoo".

He also said that the crocodile's base was the Wellawatte canal. The reptile had been sighted two months ago near the Kinross Swimming Club, 50 metres away from the shore. The rising water level in the canal after the heavy rains had enabled the crocodile to enter the sea. 

The crocodile had thereafter been sighted in Kollupitiya, Moratuwa and other areas. The creature usually returns to his original habitat after a while.

"Although attempts were made to capture the crocodile, whenever any officials arrived, the creature was gone", Dr.Atapattu said.

Violence rampant says JVP

By Roshan Peiris
The JVP who has put forward Bimal Ratnayake as their Chief Ministerial candidate at the NWP elections slammed both the UNP and the PA for neglecting the people of the area. 

JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa told The Sunday Times that violence is rampant. A three wheeler carrying H.G.Dilip Kumar and I.J.Keerathi for a propaganda meeting on January 6 at Kurunegala was stopped near Unaleeya junction by two men who emerged from a house and assaulted them and tore up the election slogans on the vehicle, he said. 

The same three wheeler with two JVP members were attacked at the Kitalawa Yakarawatte junction by some PA supporters, he alleged. 

The spokesman said that the Sudu Nelum centre seems to be the base from which terror activities in the Kuliyapitiya area emanate. 

The police have no explanation and all complaints to them are ignored, Mr.Weerawansa complained. 

Tragedy hits bullock cart with patient in Batti

By S.S. Selvanayagam
Police at security checkpoints are firing indiscriminately at civilians, an MP has charged. 

TULF Batticaloa District Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham in a letter to President Kumaratunga has appealed to her to intervene and stop this disturbing trend. 

According to him the latest incident took place at Eravur Pattu where the police allegedly fired at a group taking a patient to hospital in a bullock cart. One person Nallathamby Sabanayagam (50) was killed while another was injured. 

The MP says the bullock cart involved in this night time shooting had carried a hurricane lamp according to regulations and the police had no reason to open fire.

The police claim a constable had opened fire because he had been fired upon from the direction of the bullock cart. But the MP says there is no basis for this claim. 

Mr. Pararajasingham says several such incidents had taken place and the President must act to stop them. 

Tiger RPG kills three farmers

Three farmers were killed and five others wounded when LTTE cadres fired a rocket- propelled grenade at a tractor yesterday.

The incident occurred at Mahakachchi, Kunchchikulam near Manamaduwa on the Vavuniya- Horowpathana road last afternoon.

Military officials said the farmers were returning from a visit to their paddy fields when the incident occurred.

Security forces have launched a search operation in the area.

Editors contradict Daily News

The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka states in a press release: 

The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka is concerned, though not particularly surprised, at the distorted news item appearing on the front page of the Daily News of January 4 under the heading "Editors Guild allegedly uses UNP Leader."

"The story says The Guild "almost wholly comprises anti-government Editors" and that although there are several Editors in the Guild most of them do not participate in the proceedings and that a decision by them (presumably the "anti-government" Editors) is considered by the others as an arbitrary move.

"False. A majority of members attend the meetings of the Guild and all decisions have been unanimously carried.

"The other part of the story is that the Guild has prevailed upon the UNP Leader to move a motion in Parliament to prevent journalists from being charged with criminal defamation.

"True, but not the whole truth. The Guild decided, to meet party leaders and canvass their support, inter alia, for the abolition of the draconian and archaic laws of criminal defamation, the introduction of a Freedom on Information Act and the creation of a Media Council with a majority of non-government members to replace the Press Council.

"This was the same argument put forward by a delegation of the Guild before the all party Parliamentary Select Committee on Media Laws Reforms. The Editors Guild salutes those, from whichever political party, that support the Guild's endeavours to liberalise the laws that inhibit a free media, and in its efforts to introduce a modern liberal democracy."

GMOA flexes its muscle

The Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) is once again threatening to take trade union action.

This time, it is over a new set of demands to the Health Ministry. If the Ministry fails to respond positively, the GMOA says it would resort to trade union action.

GMOA President Ananda Samarasekera said yesterday the GMOA had held talks with health Minstry officials over 15 demands but nothing had been done despite assurances that matters would be resolved.

Among the 15 demands put to the ministry were; the appointment, transfer and disciplinary control of medical officers belonging to an all island service be vested with the Cabinet of Ministers or Public Service Commission in terms of the Establishment Code as in the past; stop interference by Dr. (Mrs.) Tara de Mel in the Health Ministry administration, and regularise private practice.

Ex-Governor says he left to let new blood in

Former North Western Province Governor Hector Arawwawala is claiming that he did not resign from his post due to any unusual circumstances but merely because he wanted to give way to new blood.

"I can't go on until I'm a hundred years old. I must give way to new blood and give the young people a chance," he said.

Mr. Arawwawala's statement comes after the UNP implied that Mr. Arawwawala had been asked to resign by the Government to turn the election results to its advantage.

UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale asked the Government to make a statement on the matter.

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