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                    Left to rot away

The Colombo Commercial Company sits in an area of four
acres situated in Slave Island. The company was founded
in Ceylon in 1876 by John Burn, a British Engineer. 
The 133-year old building is today a mere shell of its
former self.  It lies neglected and unoccupied while
ministries pay multi million rupee rentals to private
individuals for office space in congested areas.
Picture by Asoka Fernando


US war crimes report on Sri Lanka deferred  

By Munza Mushtaq  

A crucial report on Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes, which was to be released on September 21, by the US Department of State, has been deferred owing to the non-finalisation of the document and is now likely to be released next month, it is learnt. 

Meanwhile US Embassy Spokesman in Colombo Jeff Anderson told The Sunday Leader that the State Department was still working on the document and the US Congress has extended the submission date.

He however noted that no particular date has been decided to release the report, “but the State Department expects it would be ready by mid October,” Anderson said.

Stephen Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, in an interview with Time magazine mid this month disclosed that his office was primarily focusing on Sri Lanka and a report from the Department of State on the war in Sri Lanka was due in Congress on September 21. 

“The Office of War Crimes Issues, together with the Secretary for Global Affairs and the Secretary of State, has the responsibility to collect information on ongoing atrocities, and it is then the responsibility of the President (Barack Obama) to determine what steps might be taken towards justice. Like the canary in the coal mine, we give the signal that something very serious is occurring,” Rapp said.  

Meanwhile, as Sri Lanka continues to be hounded by the international community over alleged war crimes, President Mahinda Rajapakse has vowed to take on full responsibility and go before any judiciary if the need for such a situation arose in order to protect his troops.

At a meeting held at Temple Trees last week, he declared that the military had nothing to worry about the allegations made by the international community that the country’s military had committed war crimes as he will never let the sacrifices made by the country go in vain over such accusations.

The President was addressing state bank officials and representatives from the Galle District.

“Freedom won by sacrificing 26,000 youth lives will never be betrayed to anybody,” he said.

As the Commander-In-Chief, the President noted he would take full responsibility.

“Soldiers fought bravely by taking orders from me and I would go to any judiciary on behalf of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rajapakse this year stayed away from attending the United Nations General Assembly and delegated Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake to lead Sri Lanka’s delegation, which included Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

Opposition parties have alleged that the President has shied away from attending the General Assembly in New York because he cannot face the international community who have been accusing Sri Lanka of committing war crimes against mainly Tamil civilians and have so far refused to carry out any independent investigation on these allegations.

Sri Lanka’s ruling on Channel 4 video not independent - UN envoy

By Munza Mushtaq   

UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Execution, Philip Alston has expressed his doubts over the independence of the Sri Lankan Government’s ruling, which declared that the controversial Channel 4 video footage was a fake and doctored video clip.

In an interview with Radio Australia last week, Alston said he was unconvinced over the government’s findings even though the Sri Lankan government claimed to have carried four independent investigations into the video clip, which showed men in Sri Lanka military uniform executing civilians who had been stripped.

He criticised the President Mahinda Rajapakse led government for hiring four personnel who were ‘close’ to the administration to carry out the investigation on the controversial footage.

“The Sri Lankan Government has recently produced a statement by four experts.

The requirement under international law when there is an ostensibly a valid allegation that a serious human rights violation has been committed is to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation of the allegations. What the government has done, is to produce analysis by two of the members of its own army — in other words, the very body that is accused of carrying out the crime and perhaps unsurprisingly, these two army officials say that they don’t think the video is convincing,” Alston said.

He also expressed his doubts over the independence of the academic, who according to Alston has worked in the past for the government.

“I have no quibble with his qualifications or with what he said, but it’s still a very unsatisfactory approach when it comes to showing real independence and impartiality,” he said.

“And finally, they have used the analysis of another gentleman who is apparently based in Australia, but of Sri Lankan origin, who claims to have and appears to have a significant technical credentials in this area. He first wrote an opinion piece in one of the Sri Lankan daily newspapers asserting that this (video) was a fake, based on his own examinations. The government then took him up, employed him as an expert to provide a more detailed report,” he said.

The UN envoy disclosed that apart from a brief summary, the Sri Lankan Government has not submitted any detailed reports on the findings.

“The bottom line is that you have got very serious allegations and you have got a handful of experts who are extremely close to the government who provide no sense of an impartial investigation of the type required,” he added.

The investigations were carried out by international expert and former head of Cisco’s global broadcast and digital video practice Siri Hewawitharana, Senior Lecturer on Computer Science and Director of the Centre for Instructional Technology Dr. Chatura Ranjan de Silva, Chief Signal Officer of the Sri Lanka Army Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe and Major P.A Bandara attached to the Media Centre for National Security.

Suicides galore in Sri Lanka

By Raisa Wickrematunge 

An average of 12 people commit suicide a day in Sri Lanka, and there are 10 times more attempted suicides, according to Director of Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, Surangi Gunawardena.

However Gunawardena said that the suicide rate has actually declined since 1995.

In 1995 Sri Lanka had one of the highest suicide rates, with around 47 suicides per 100,000 persons. Now, Gunawardena estimated the rate at about 20 suicides per 100,000 persons.

“The rate has declined, but it is still too high.” Gunawardena said.

Gunawardena said the highest suicide rates were among the younger age groups, particularly tho

se between the ages of 18 and 30. The rate also increased after the age of 60, according to the Director.

Gunawardena added that it was usually a combination of psychological and social reasons, which lead to a suicidal situation. The three main factors, she noted were “inability to cope with difficult situations, mental health problems, and drug or alcohol abuse.”

It was noted that social and peer pressures were leading factors for teen suicides. However, even children as young as seven or eight have been known to attempt suicide.

There are also differences according to gender. More women than men say they have contemplated suicide, although more men have taken their own lives.

Gunawardena noted that media reports, which sensationalised suicide and gave details about the methods used often lead to “copycat suicides.”

Gunawardena noted that the current rate of 120 attempted suicides a day was worrying.

Meanwhile, Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, in a press release recently said that as attempted suicide was no longer considered a criminal offence, the majority of attempts were unrecorded. Gunawardena attributed the rising number of attempts to a lack of knowledge about resources available to the depressed.

Sumithrayo Sri Lanka has been operating for around 35 years, as a suicide prevention organisation. Their services are offered free of charge. They claim to “provide emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that may lead to suicide.”

Globally, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds, while there is an attempted suicide every three seconds.

Foreign nationals trapped in IDP camps 

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema 

Government statistics have revealed that 12 foreign nationals are still trapped amongst thousands of war displaced in IDP camps in Vavuniya.

These foreign nationals of Tamil origin have been trapped in the IDP camps since the end of the war in May this year.

A senior government official told The Sunday Leader that the foreign nationals included one British citizen, three Australians, one German, three Dutch, two Indians, one Canadian and one Norwegian.

The official also said that representatives from the respective foreign missions in Colombo are in discussion with the Foreign Ministry officials, who in turn would take the matter up with the Defence Ministry, to secure the release of these foreign nationals.

“These foreign nationals will be released when the Defence Ministry approves it after the screening process is concluded,” the official said.

The issue of foreign nationals trapped in IDP camps in Vavuniya came to light in June this year and the government at the time said that the judicial process was on track with regard to these foreign nationals and that they would be released after being screened for links with the LTTE.

Spokesperson for the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, Rannveig Skoftland told The Sunday Leader that the embassy was trying to secure the release of the Norwegian national in the IDP camp acording to the laws of the Vienna Convention.

She added that the embassy has been denied access to meet with the individual by the government.

“We have requested the government of Sri Lanka to grant us access to meet the Norwegian nationals,” Skoftland said.

Meanwhile, British citizen Damilvany Gnanakumar, who was recently released from the IDP camps in Vavuniya, released damning details about the plight of the IDPs and the camps to the media back in the UK.

When asked if the government was apprehensive about releasing the other foreign nationals in the IDP camps following Gnanakumar’s actions, the official said Gnanakumar’s case was a unique one and that the others in the camps were not of that calibre.

Jayalalithaa threatens massive agitation

India’s AIADMK has threatened to launch a mass agitation along with like-minded parties if the Union government failed to press the international community to force the Sri Lankan Government to put an end to the rights violations against Tamils on its land.

In a statement, Party General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa said that the AIADMK and people of Tamil Nadu expect the Centre to raise its voice against the human rights violations in the refugee camps in Sri Lanka.

If the Centre does not act immediately, “the AIADMK, along with like-minded political parties, will be forced to launch a mass agitation to focus world vision on the brutal civil liberties violations in Sri Lanka.”

The former chief minister said “The gruesome footage, reportedly filmed by a soldier on a mobile phone camera, reinforces my earlier claim that civil liberties are non-existent in Sri Lanka and that the Tamil population there is subject to barbaric atrocities at the hands of the Sri Lankan Army.”

“Sri Lanka claims to be a democratic country, where the rule of law prevails. No democracy sanctions this sort of summary mass execution, where human dignity is wantonly trampled upon,” she added.

Jayalalithaa said the AIADMK has never been a votary of terrorism or terrorist outfits. “I have personally been a very vocal critic of the LTTE, ever since that outfit degenerated from being valiant fighters for the liberation of Tamils into a terrorist organisation that annihilated political opponents, murdered anyone who did not toe their line and heaped suffering on the Tamil people whose cause they were claiming to espouse.”

“Even assuming that the persons being shot dead in the footage telecast were LTTE activists, executing them summarily without a trial is barbaric, inhuman and contrary to civilised norms. It also violates international law relating to treatment of prisoners of war.”

Slamming the DMK government, she said “As such, the AIADMK does not expect the DMK government to even make a whimper of protest against the atrocities being perpetrated upon the Tamil people.”

— Express News Service

Hilary, Krishna wants IDPs resettled fast

The United States and India on Friday agreed on the importance of resettling Sri Lanka’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told journalists that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India’s External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna during a bilateral meeting in New York touched on the IDP situation in Sri Lanka.

“They touched on the situation in Sri Lanka, where I think we have very similar views. The US, particularly I think both of us agree on the importance of Sri Lanka resettling almost 300,000 internally displaced people who remain in the camps,” Blake said.

Meanwhile, during meeting with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama late last week, Krishna had emphasized the need to speed up the Sri Lankan government’s resettlement programme.

Government sneers at grand alliance 

The government has sneered at the much-hyped opposition grand alliance saying the forthcoming alliance has absolutely no capacity to overthrow the reigning administration.

Addressing the weekly cabinet news briefing, Cabinet spokesman Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa laughed off the opposition alliance, which is expected to combine some seven parties.

“They have no power. Why should we be scared of them? We have defeated them handsomely in every election.  These people who accuse us of not looking after the IDPs have not even gone to see them or help them,” Yapa claimed.

Bar Association says…

The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is of the unanimous view that  several criticisms made regarding the judgment in the Tissainayagam case are unwarranted. Such criticisms are from sections of the local and foreign public.

Tissainayagam was convicted by a court of law and has a right of appeal. The Superior Courts can and will reverse the verdict/sentence in the event of an error in law.

Whilst persons have rights to constructively analyse judgments, the comments made do not amount to this. Thus such comments are unjustified and would prejudice the proper administration of law.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka is strongly committed to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and condemns statements which tend to undermine either of the aforesaid.

W. Dayaratne

The Bar Association of
Sri Lanka

Editor’s Note: The Sunday Leader has at all times CONSTRUCTIVELY analysed and discussed judgments including the sentence given in the Tissainayagam case.  Our comments do not under these circumstances prejudice the proper administration of the law. If criticisms have been made they have been fully justifiable and at no time undermined the judiciary.

Colombo delays responding to India over KP  

Colombo has delayed responding to India’s request to send a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team to carry out its own interrogation on LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP over the murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The Indian High Commission in Colombo last week said it requested the government on the visit of the CBI team but had not received any response from the government so far.

Spokesperson for the High Commission, Dinkar Asthana told The Sunday Leader that a request had been sent to the Foreign Ministry.

However, Foreign Ministry officials said that they are yet to receive an official request with regard to the matter.

India had earlier said that it planned to send a special CBI team to Sri Lanka to question KP on the murder of Rajiv Gandhi.

KP took over the LTTE leadership after the death of Velupillai Pirapaharan in May. KP was accused of several crimes including drug and human trafficking and was wanted by Interpol for arms procurement for the LTTE. KP was arrested in August and was brought to Sri Lanka for interrogation.

Hoteliers unhappy over new room rates  

By Nirmala Kannangara

Colombo hoteliers have warned that the Tourism Ministry’s new minimum room rates, which will come into effect from November 1, will prove to be more detrimental to the industry than beneficial.

The Sunday Leader learns that several leading hotels have opposed the new pricing formula and in protest even boycotted Wednesday’s meeting convened to announce the new room rates organised by the Tourism Promotions Ministry.

Ceylon Continental Hotel Chairman Nahil Wijesuriya pointed out that although the Ministry was trying to boost the industry by introducing the minimum rates, it would result in negative consequences.

“How could the Ministry say that by introducing the minimum rates for rooms not only the city hotels but even the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) would benefit and the employees would receive a good service charge? With the increase in room rates, it is certain that occupancy will decline resulting in employees getting far less in service charges than at present,” Wijesuriya told The Sunday Leader.

He queried as to how the Ministry asks foreign tourists to visit Sri Lanka, a supposedly peaceful country when there are roadblocks all over the city.

He suggested that unless Sri Lanka works on getting more charter flights to the country, the number of tourist arrivals will not increase and the new price structure would severely affect the hotel industry.

Several other hoteliers who wished to remain anonymous echoed similar sentiments.

However Mount Lavinia Hotel General Manager Anura Devapura told The Sunday Leader that the re-introduction of the minimum room rates would help boost the industry and added that it would get rid of the ‘cheap destination’ tag labeled to the country.

In order to safeguard the hotels that comes under the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) in the country, the Tourism Ministry in consultation with the 28 member City Hotels Association decided to re-introduce the minimum room rates in accordance with the Tourism Act of 2005.

Tourism Promotions Minister Faizer Mustapha said unless the minimum rates are introduced, the reputation of Sri Lanka’s leisure industry would decline and will also affect the SME sector hotels in the country that have already suffered due to low room rates in all star class hotels in the country.

“Despite the Tourism Ministry imposing the minimum room rates earlier the star class hotels blatantly violated the directives and as a result the SME sector hotels could not sell their products since the five star hotels were going cheap. This badly affected the resorts and SME hotels but by re-introducing the minimum rate to all hotels including five star hotels and SME hotels in Colombo and Mount Lavinia municipal areas, will not only protect all hotels but will also help employees to receive an attractive service remuneration,” Mustapha told The Sunday Leader.

Muslims accuse the govt. of “stealing” dates

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema 

Thousands of irate Muslims have accused government ministers of “stealing” a couple of hundred tonnes of dates which were imported to the country during the Ramadhan season.

They complain that many mosques and other Muslim institutions have not received dates during the month of fasting this year.

Angry Muslims told The Sunday Leader that thousands of dates “had gone missing” which should have by right been handed out to devotees at mosques. They accused government officials of having stolen dates by the crate load.

However, the government says the reason for the non receipt of dates by certain sections of Muslims in the country has been due to a decline in the quota of dates received by the country this year.

Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M. Fowzie told The Sunday Leader that the country usually received 300 metric tonnes of dates to be distributed among the Muslims during the fasting period.

He said the government received only 150 metric tonnes of dates from the Saudi Arabian government three months prior to Ramazan for general use. These dates had been distributed mainly among the displaced persons.

“After giving 50% of the consignment to the displaced, the balance was given to mosques to be distributed among devotees,” he said.

Fowzie added that the government had also received 20 tonnes of dates from Bahrain following a request made by him, 15 tonnes from the UAE and 15 tonnes from Iran, which were distributed among orphanages.

“These dates were distributed among mosques to be given to devotees who break fast in the mosques,” he said.

When asked for the reason for the decline in the dates received by the country, Fowzie said the government requested for an additional 75 metric tonnes of dates from the Saudi Arabian government, which was not received.

“Also, the 150 metric tonnes given by the Saudi government was not given only for Ramazan, it was given for general use. All these resulted in a shortfall,” he said.

Fowzie said if the government received its usual 300 metric tonnes of dates, they would have been distributed among the Muslim households as well.

Police turning blind eye to election law violations in the south 

Misuse of state property and other election related incidents are on the rise with the impending Southern Provincial Council elections.

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) Media Spokesman Keerthi Tennekone said the Southern Provincial Council election was “not peaceful at all.” Tennekone referring specifically to Hambantota and Galle alleged that from nomination day onwards, there were many incidents reported of systematic acts of violence committed against opposition parties.

Tennekone noted that no proper measures had been taken to remove the ruling party’s banners and cutouts, although those of opposition parties had been removed. Tennekone alleged that certain UPFA members were given preferential treatment, and were allowed to violate election laws with impunity.

He went on to say that while the Road Development Authority was taking legal action against the JVP for painting their party logo on the roads, no action had been taken against UPFA and UNP nominees who were doing the same thing. “There is widespread misuse of state property and resources used by candidates to campaign for votes,” Tennekone charged.

The CAFFE spokesman further said that state media was destroying the credibility of some opposition candidates by making baseless allegations. Tennekone also said the Election Commissioner was out of the country, and the Election Commissioner’s Department was not accepting any complaints. Tennekone added that there had been instances when the police had not allowed opposition party members to lodge complaints at the police station.

He went on to predict that there would probably be many more incidents on election day.

However, Executive Director, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Rohana Hettiarachchi was more cautious, saying that there had been no major incidents reported.

Hettiarachchi said that PAFFREL had received 20 complaints from Hambantota, 13 of which were serious. In Galle, 7 of the 11 reported complaints were grave. Matara however was calm and quiet, according to the Executive Director.

Hettiarachchi charged that the party members in Galle were indulging in illegal propaganda activity. He said that the national level leaders should take action against their own party members. There were many allegations of misuse of state property made against the government, but none of them could be proved, Hettiarachchi observed. He went on to say that if the police continued to ignore complaints of election related incidents, PAFFREL would take legal action against the perpetrators.

JVP Chief Ministerial candidate Sisira Kumara said that the police were “biased.” He charged that former DIG Prathapasinghe, contesting in Matara, was committing all sorts of election violations, while the police turned a blind eye.

Kumara also spoke of Dulles Alahapperuma, campaigning on behalf of Chandima Rasaputhra, who had made use of 100 buses from the Matara, Akuressa and Hakmana depots and had still not paid for them. Kumara alleged that UPFA candidates had displayed cutouts at the Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha premises.

Kumara alleged that Chairman, Kotakola Cooperative Society, contesting under the UPFA ticket, was using Cooperative Society vehicles for his campaign. Kumara further spoke of an incident involving Hemal Gunasekara, former Minister of Agriculture, whose wife had addressed a meeting of Samurdhi beneficiaries in Devinuwara, campaigning on behalf of her spouse. When one listener had protested, he had been detained for over five hours. Kumara said that in his opinion the government was planning further acts of “thuggery” on election day.

Meanwhile Matara UNP District Leader Gajendra Ratnayake said that although thankfully there had not been much violence, misuse of state property was rife. He spoke of a lunch given at Temple Trees for 3500 supporters from the Matara District, and said that to his knowledge the CTB buses and the lunch had never been paid for.

 “The police are turning a blind eye to election decorations and cutouts,” Ratnayake added. He went on to say that according to election law there could only be one party office per electoral booth, yet many UPFA members had 8 or 9. He said some members even resorted to handouts in temples, and said that was unconscionable. In addition he charged that there was a lot of “shuttered” threats discouraging opposition supporters from voting.

At the time of going to press, the UPFA district elections representatives were unavailable for comment.

Although there has been little bloodshed, it appears that corruption is widespread in the run up to the Southern Provincial Council elections, with most of the blame squarely laid on the UPFA candidates.

Was Ratnasiri’s Asia Society address stage-managed?

By Munza Mushtaq

Eyebrows have been raised over Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake’s Thursday night address at the Asia Society headquarters in New York with observers questioning the ‘independence’ of the much-acclaimed event.  

The event held during the UN General Assembly week, usually encourages hardcore questions during the question and answer session following the lecture, but this time around saw a change of stance with Wickremanayake being served with ‘dainty’ questions in what some claimed had already been pre-screened during the 56 minute long event.

Foreign journalists who had been present at the event and had put forward questions to Wickremanayake were in for a surprise when the moderator of the session, Asia Society’s Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl appeared to have overlooked almost all hardcore questions and had instead posed very light softball questions to the Sri Lankan Premier. 

Much to the surprise of everyone, several of the questions posed to the Prime Minister were from ‘anonymous individuals’ while more serious and topical questions posed by foreign journalists with their names provided had been ignored.

According to Inner City Press correspondent Matthew Russell Lee, Metzl had very gently raised the issue of the IDP situation in Sri Lanka to which. Wickremanayake very briefly said that the only problem was demining.

“We were doing it manually,” he said, “until quite recently.” He said now some machines have arrived. “It would have taken years,” he said.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has vowed to resettle at least 80 percent of the nearly 300,000 IDPs before end of this year.

When the issue of press freedom in Sri Lanka came up, the Sri Lankan Premier had claimed there were no problems of freedom of the press back home, to which an audience member shouted out, “20 years of hard labour” when he was quickly hushed down by another audience member in the front row.

A Sri Lankan court recently sentenced journalist J. S. Tissainayagam to 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment over two articles he had written several years back.

When the moderator asked whether Sri Lanka was guilty of committing human rights violations, Wickremanayake bluntly said “No crimes were committed by the army.”

The Premier’s answers apparently did not seem to impress the audience, with only a certain section of the observers heard applauding during the less than one hour long event.

Lee in his article published in the Inner City Press website said the entire exercise was wastage of his 20 dollars, which he had paid to attend the event due to the weaknesses of the questions, and so a refund would have been in order.

President Mahinda Rajapakse who usually attends the UN General Assembly delegated his Premier to attend the annual event, amidst allegations from the opposition who claimed that the President shied away from New York, as he could not face growing allegations of war crimes, which has been highlighted by the international community.

Former CJ challenged to a live debate 

Former District Judge, C.D. Kulathileka has challenged former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva to a live debate to discuss Silva’s contribution to the country’s judiciary during his term in office.

Kulathileka told The Sunday Leader that Silva had ignored a challenge made by him on an earlier occasion for a debate on Silva’s role as the Chief Justice.

He alleged that Silva was responsible for the deterioration of the country’s judicial system and violating the proper legal process with regard to cases heard by him.

Water crisis looms as employees threaten to agitate  

By Nirmala Kannangara  

Employees at the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) have threatened to cripple the water supply within the next few weeks, over the government’s failure to grant them their due salary increase for this year.

Water Supply and Drainage Employees’ Union (WSDEU) General Secretary Upali Rathnayake told The Sunday Leader that President Mahinda Rajapakse’s directive to stop salary increments to public servants for 2009 has resulted in the Water Board employees having to initiate trade union action early next month.

“Unlike other public institutions the CEB, CPC, Ports Authority and the NWSDB get their salary increments once in three years. It was in 2006 that we got the last salary increment and it is unfair by the government to cancel our increments at a time when the cost of living has gone beyond our reach,” Rathnayake said.

According to him, all requests made to Water Supply and Drainage Minister A.L.M. Athaullah for a meeting to discuss the matter have fallen on deaf ears and since the Ministry has failed to address the grievances, the Water Board employees have decided to initiate trade union action. 

“Overtime given to employees has been reduced and even other basic facilities provided to employees have decreased considerably. Since 2006, the cost of living (CoL) has gone up by more than 50% but the salary we receive is still the same as in 2006,”  Rathnayake said.

 According to Rathnayake, Minister Athaullah has said that this was not the right time for employees to talk about salary increments as the government is spending more money to develop the north and the east and also to look after the IDPs.

“True it is the responsibility of a government to look after its own people and to carry out development activities but at the same time, the workers rights have to be safeguarded,” Rathnayake noted.

Minister Athaullah was not available for comment.

UNP baffled 

By Raisa Wickrematunge  

The United National Party (UNP) said yesterday that it was ‘baffled’ as to why President Mahinda Rajapakse had refrained from attending the 64th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York this year.

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake told The Sunday Leader that the General Assembly would have been the best platform for the President to air his views and respond to concerns put forward by the international community.

“I am surprised that the President did not make use of this opportunity, it would have done good to the country,” Karunanayake said.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake led Sri Lanka’s delegation to New York..




More News....


Sri Lanka’s ruling on Channel 4 video
not independent - UN envoy


Suicides galore in Sri Lanka

Foreign nationals trapped in IDP camps



Jayalalithaa threatens massive agitation


Hilary, Krishna wants IDPs resettled fast


Government sneers at grand alliance 


Bar Association says…


Colombo delays responding to India over KP


Hoteliers unhappy over new room rates 


Muslims accuse the govt. of “stealing” dates


Police turning blind eye to election
law violations in the south


Was Ratnasiri’s Asia Society address


Former CJ challenged to a live debate


Water crisis looms as employees
threaten to agitate


UNP baffled

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