Question Keheliya , demands wife of slain editor
By Nirmala Kannangara
wife of slain Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader,
Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge in a letter to
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jayantha
Wickremaratna last week, has asked that he record a
statement from Defence Spokesman Minister Keheliya
Rambukwella to ascertain the identity of her husband
Lasantha Wickrematunge's assassins.
Wickrematunge in a letter dated March 15, has requested
the IGP to record a statement from Rambukwella for a
breakthrough into the murder of her husband as the
Minister at a press briefing held on January 28 had
stated that he and President Rajapakse "were aware of
the identity of the murderers and that the President
would make the facts known on February 15."
Wickrematunge states, "However, despite over six weeks
having passed since Mr. Rambukwella's statement, no
announcement has been made; neither have any suspects
been named or apprehended."
has further stated that although it has been over two
months since her husband was killed there has been no
credible breakthrough up to date; no announcement has
been made; no murder weapon, neither have suspects been
named or apprehended and no post mortem report has still
been made public.
police on Friday (20) told The Sunday Leader that there
is no necessity to record a statement or to question
Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over a statement made by
him in connection with the assassination of the
Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader Lasantha
Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera when asked as to
what action the police would take based on Ms.
Wickrematunge's request to the IGP, told The Sunday
Leader that the police do not have a right to question a
minister over a public statement made by him.
is just a statement made by a minister at a press
briefing. Although Wickrematunge's wife has made a
request to the IGP to record a statement from Minister
Rambukwella there is no necessity to do so as it was a
simple statement made by him. It was the responsibility
of the journalists to question the Minister over that
issue but not the duty of the police to do so," he said.
Ameen PC appearing for the late Editor's wife Sonali
Wickrematunge has made an application to the Mt. Lavinia
Magistrate's Court to hand over the investigations
either to the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) or to the
Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
was disheartening to note as to how a police constable
from the Mirihana Police informed the court that they
are capable of conducting special investigations and to
retain them to carry out the investigation into
Wickrematunge's assassination," Attorney-at-law Mizbath
Sathar told The Sunday Leader.
Mirihana Police have been ordered by courts to produce a
progress report into the investigation at the next
case last called on Thursday, March 19, was further
postponed to April 2.
The Sunday Leader short-listed for
prestigious int'l award
Sunday Leader newspaper has been short-listed for the
Freedom of Expression Awards by the Index on Censorship.
The Sunday Leader has been chosen on the basis of being
a platform for some of Sri Lanka's most outspoken
journalism despite its editor's assassination.
Index on Censorship announced the shortlist for the
awards last week.
prizes are awarded to honour those who have furthered
the cause of freedom of expression and battled
censorship around the world. The prizes are awarded in
five categories: books, film, journalism, law and
year's shortlist includes Sri Lanka's The Sunday Leader
newspaper, Ma Jian's novel Beijing Coma, and Steve
McQueen's film, Hunger.
awards will be presented on April 21, at Kings Place,
London. The ceremony will be hosted by Index on
Censorship Chair Jonathan Dimbleby, with a keynote
speech by Sir David Hare.
Freedom of Expression Awards focus attention on
activists, writers and film makers around the world who
actively promote free expression, often in the most
difficult circumstances. Index on Censorship is
delighted to recognise their efforts at this
increasingly high-profile annual event," Chief
Executive, Index on Censorship, John Kampfner has said.
awards are presented in association with The Economist,
The Guardian, Bindmans and The Robert Gavron Trust.
Piti Makuna wreaking havoc on trees
and plants in the country
By Risidra Mendis
small fly believed to have entered the country through
imported plants has caused the destruction of hundreds
of fruit, vegetable and flowering plants.
fly is believed to have entered the country in mid 2007.
While the fly continues to rapidly multiply and destroy
the remaining fruit, vegetable and flower trees, the
Agriculture Department is yet to come up with a solution
to the problem.
fly identified by the Department of Agriculture as the
Piti Makuna is known to produce a large number of eggs
at a time. Agriculture Department officials are now
looking at the option of bringing in another insect to
control the rapid spread of the Piti Makuna.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Agriculture Instructor,
Agriculture Department, Rasika Kumarasiri said according
to research carried out by the Agriculture Department
the fly is known to mainly attack plants and trees that
"Breadfruit, jack, papaw, manioc, mango, vegetable
plants such as chillies, brinjals and varieties of
citrus such as lime have been badly affected by the Piti
Makuna. However the worst affected out of the lot are
the papaw trees," Kumarasiri said.
Kumarasiri added that the Agriculture Department has
reason to believe that the fly has come from either
Russia or an Asian country as plants and trees in these
countries have been identified with the same disease.
Piti Makuna lays around 500 to 600 eggs at a time. The
female fly stays on the underside of the leaf with the
cocoon that contains the eggs. The cocoon is like a
bundle of cotton wool. The male fly flies away and
infects other trees while the female injects these trees
and plants and extracts the milk or juices. The infected
trees gradually grow weak and die within two to three
months. This disease can also be spread by the wind,"
Agriculture Instructress, Dehiwela-Ratmalana Agriculture
Department Chithrani Menikge said.
According to Kumarasiri Galle, Matara, Polonnaruwa and
Anuradhapura are some of the badly affected areas in the
However according to some residents Araliya trees and a
large number of big trees have been affected in Colombo.
my vegetable plants and banana trees were destroyed due
to the Piti Makuna. The Piti Makuna destroys mainly
vegetable and flower plants. But I have managed to save
most of my plants and trees by cutting down affected
trees or by spraying them with a mixture of soap and
kerosene," says former President, Dehiwela- Mount
Lavinia Horticultural Society Sunila Rajawasan.
the trees are badly affected we advice people to cut
them down and burn them. Don't leave infected leaves on
the ground as these can spread to other trees. All
infected leaves should be burned. The other option is to
hold a strong flow of water under the leaves of the big
trees. If there is a heavy shower the spreading of this
fly can be reduced. The other option is to mix two
teaspoons of soap powder with two teaspoons of kerosene
into one litre of water and spray the flowering plants.
However for the fruit and vegetable plants only the soap
solution with water should be used," Kumarasiri said.
added that people should refrain from taking infected
plants to other areas.
options as suggested by the Agriculture Department is to
spray Thayomethocksam, Kohinor 200 SL (imidacloprid
200gm), Asitamfrid, Mackdhoate or a solution of dog
shampoo mixed with water.
Agriculture Department, Ratmalana, has conducted many
awareness programmes on the disease for school children
and the public. Agriculture Department offices in
different parts of the country are conducting awareness
programmes for the public," Menikge said.
NSB recruiting staff circumventing
By Nirmala Kannangara
order to strengthen the party vote base in the backdrop
of the ongoing provincial council elections and a
possible general election, the government has initiated
a recruitment drive to the National Savings Bank (NSB)
alleged the All Ceylon Bank Employees' Union (ACBEU).
Bypassing the bank recruitment procedures, more than 150
Savings Promotion Officers (SPO) have been recruited to
the NSB and plans are afoot to increase this number
gradually according to the ACEBU sources.
order to offer jobs to party supporters, the UPFA
government has started giving job opportunities to their
supporters and up to now more than 150 SPOs have been
recruited to the NSB," the sources claimed.
According to the ACBEU source, since there is an
injunction order on the NSB preventing the recruitment
of employees to the clerical grade for the past two
years, the government has introduced a new post - SPO
allowing the bank to recruit employees to the new post
circumventing the injunction order.
list of names have been sent on the recommendation of
the President, Ministers Dulles Alahapperuma and Ranjith
Siyambalapitiya and also former Chairman NSB, Upali
Gunaratne. We understand that all those to be recruited
were either close associates of the governing
politicians or their family members," alleged the
However refuting the allegations, Acting Chairman NSB,
S.R. Attygalle told The Sunday Leader that the bank has
followed recruitment procedures when recruiting the SPOs.
interviews were held and only qualified applicants were
selected for the posts of SPOs. So how could anyone
claim that the bank has bypassed the recruitment
procedure?" asked Attygalle.
persons nominated to form the Constitutional Council has
once again reached a dead end following a petition
received by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
against the nomination of Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda.
petition has said that Dr. Uyangoda was not a fit and
proper person to be appointed to the Constitutional
Council, as he had undergone a prison sentence for 12
years during the JVP uprising in the 1970s.
Uyangoda was nominated to the Constitutional Council by
the minority parties and the nomination was also
accepted by the Supreme Court. The petition against Dr.
Uyangoda's nomination has now been handed over to
President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Uyangoda who is the Head of the Department of Political
Science and Public Policy at the University of Colombo
and Founder-Director of the Centre for Policy Research
and Analysis, was arrested and imprisoned for his
involvement in the JVP uprising. He was later released
in November 1977 following a presidential pardon granted
by the late President J. R. Jayewardene.
Uyangoda was released along with JVP members following
the abolishment of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC)
on November 2, 1977. Dr. Uyangoda together with a large
number of other JVPers including Rohana Wijeyweera
received a presidential pardon.
However the argument that he is not fit to be appointed
to the council seems absurd given the fact that several
leaders in the past have gone on to rule the country
country's first Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake was
imprisoned in 1915 following the Sinhala-Muslim riots.
He was imprisoned along with his brother F.R. Senanayake.
TMVP leader and National Integration and Reconciliation
Minister, Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan was appointed a
member of parliament and is now a Minister, having been
accused and pleading guilty to having travelled to
Britain on false documents.
are many more examples where those who were imprisoned
have been appointed to high positions. The names have
now been given to the President and it is up to him to
take the decision.
Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has also expressed his
concerns over the delay in the appointment of the
whole country is awaiting the appointment of the
Constitutional Council. The names have been given to the
President and it is now up to him to decide as to who
should be appointed," Jayasuriya told The Sunday Leader.
Jayasuriya has been continuously advocating the
implementation of the 17th Amendment by the forming of
the council. He said that the delay in constituting the
Constitutional Council has resulted in the independent
bodies being unable to make new appointments.
are issues such as the arbitrary transfers and
appointments of OICs on the recommendation of local
political organisers. This is due to the delay in
implementing the 17th Amendment," he said.
couple of years ago, the names of Uyangoda and Rohan
Edrisinha were nominated by the minority parties.
Confusion arose when the JVP objected to the
appointments, saying that it too was a minority party.
issue was later cleared when it was decided that the JVP
was not a minority party and that it was part of the
TNA, JHU and SLMC met to name a nominee. The TNA and
SLMC decided on Dr. Uyangoda. The JHU however opposed
the nomination. With the backing of 23 MPs from the SLMC
and the TNA, the Supreme Court was informed of the
nomination by the Speaker.
Hoteliers express concern over
increased water rates
city hotels have expressed concern over the increase in
water tariffs by the government since last month.
The government recently decided to increase water tariff
President, City Hotels Association, M. Shanthikumar told
The Sunday Leader that the increase in water
tariffs would definitely affect the city hotels that are
already facing problems due to high cost of operation
and lack of business and said it was the wrong time for
such an increase.
“The increase in water tariff will definitely have an
impact the city hotels. The hotels are already facing
problems due to high cost of operation and lack of
business,” he said.
Shanthikumar added that the concerns will be made known
to the government during the course of this week.
“We are making arrangements to convey our concerns to
the government and it will be done so during the course
of this week,” Shanthikumar added.
Meanwhile, President, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri
Lanka (THASL), Srilal Miththapala said that the increase
in water tariffs would not have a huge impact on the
resorts as most of them are equipped with tube wells.
“I don’t think that the increase of water tariff would
make a huge impact on the resorts. Most of these resorts
have tube wells and are not dependant on the water
supply by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB).
The expenditure will definitely increase, but I think
that it will not be a huge impact,” Miththapala said.
According to the new tariff system, a service charge
ranging from Rs.50 to Rs.1,600 had replaced the fixed
charge earlier levied on consumers.
JVP parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake has said according
to the new rates, a household that earlier paid Rs.131
for 20 units of water per month would now have to pay Rs.
379.60 - almost a 300% increase.
He said the water bill of a household that used 15 units
would soar from Rs.84 to Rs.218.40 while most
households, which use about 40 units a month, would now
have to pay a staggering monthly charge of Rs. 2,464.
Citing an example, he said that an ordinary tea boutique
uses at least 50 units of water a month and will have to
pay a service charge of Rs.1,000 instead of Rs.70 they
would have had to pay if based on the fixed charge.
The issue was also raised in Parliament last week by JVP
parliamentarian Lakshman Nipunarachchi who said that
118,000 persons in the country do not have a 24-hour
water supply and added that they too are forced to pay
the new tariff.
Water Supply Minister Mahinda Amaraweera responding to
Nipunarachchi said a single family could consume less
than 20 units of water during a month.
The Minister had pointed out that 52 per cent of people
in a particular district consumed less than 15 units of
water a month. The Minister said that a unit of water
consists of 1,000 litres. He said that the Water Supply
and Drainage Board spends around Rs. 35 per litre.
further said that there were 398,384 water supply
connections in Colombo by August 31, last year out of
which 280,366 were provided with a supply 24 hours a
day. He also said that there were 33,576 connections
that provided water less than 16 hours a day while
18,326 less than eight hours. Trade unions attached to
the NWSDB however say that extensive bribery and
corruption within the Water Board has brought the NWSDB
into a situation where the tariff had to be increased
urgently to overcome the situation.