female LTTE cadre approached a group of journalists visiting Wanni
at the LTTE heroes cemetery at Visuvamadu to find out more about a
professional TV camera. She knew the basics of the operations and
took running lessons from the cameraman. She is part of a 150
member LTTE media unit — mostly female cadres — that film
everything from official meetings to bloody battles. Photo
by Amantha Perera
Force Chief asked to quit
government has requested Air force Commander Air Marshal Jayalath
Weerakkody to step down or face an inquiry into the incident
involving the motor accident opposite the D. S. Senanayake College
on June 15.
Minister Tilak Marapone told The Sunday Leader that he has
asked the air force commander to step down or face an inquiry.
The minister had also told him if an inquiry is to be held
it would have to be a credible inquiry and the government would
have to act on the findings of the investigation.
contacted by The Sunday Leader confirmed that he had
discussed this matter with the air force commander and stated he (Weerakkody)
would have to step down or face an inquiry.
Jayalath Weerakkody a little before 4 a.m. on Saturday, June 15,
after attending an SLAF party at the ‘Officers Mess’ Friday
night was travelling towards Welikada, Rajagiriya.
the colour lights near D. S. Senanayake College at Borella,
Kanatte, Weerakkody tried to jump a red light and crashed into a
lorry travelling from Kanatte towards Borella. Senior cops
confided that even if the traffic lights had not been working
(which they were) it was the lorry’s right of way and the air
force chief should have stopped.
car, a Peugeot 406, bearing registration number GL1233 hit the
front of the lorry (bearing registration number 43-5738).
This car is also officially registered with the SLAF
bearing number AF 3493.
The force of
the impact injured the air force chief, while the cleaner of the
lorry was hurled out of the vehicle due to the massive blow.
The cleaner suffered serious wounds as a result of the
one eyebrow, the air force chief identified himself to the
inquiring police officer from the Borella police as the commander
of the SLAF.
however was allowed to walk away from the accident without making
a statement to police after Colombo DIG Bodhi Liyanage ordered the
cops on duty to let him go.
hours later, at around 8.30 a.m. the same day, June 15, W. Upali
Jayakody presented himself to OIC Bandara of the Borella police
and claimed that it was he and not the Commander of the SLAF who
had been driving the car. Making
an official statement Jayakody claimed that he is a driver of the
SLAF, and insisted that he alone had been involved in the
The attempt by
the air force commander to implicate a fellow officer and absolve
himself from all blame prompted the premier to insist on
accountability and call for a full scale inquiry into the
Minister Tilak Marapone spoke to the air force commander after
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe discussed the issue with the
defence minister and requested him to inquire into
the allegation and take appropriate action.
Leader learns the air force commander has requested a weeks
time to consider his response to the defence minister.
SLAF officer Upali Jayakody’s official statement made to the
Borella police, he claimed that he had been the sole occupant in
the car at the time of the accident. Jayakody has further stated that he had been on his way to
Battaramulla, “on official work,” at the time the accident
Yet when The
Sunday Leader spoke to Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody he
maintained that he had indeed been present at the scene of the
accident. He said, “it
was my driver who was driving the vehicle. We were at a cross
section of the traffic lights, he did not see the oncoming lorry
and crashed into it.” The
air force commander also admitted that he had suffered minor
injuries as a result of the accident.
Liyanage however last week categorically told The Sunday
Leader, that while an air force officer had telephoned him at
around 4 a.m. on June 15, “it was not the commander of the SLAF
—Weerakkody was never at the scene of the accident,” he said.
call for PB’s ouster
large number of ministers last week called for the removal
of former Finance Secretary P.B. Jayasundera as chairman of the
Public Enterprises Re-form Commission (PERC) at a pre cabinet
The call of
the ministers came on Wednesday, June 26 at a Temple Trees meeting
of ministers presided by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
call was made by Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi
Karunanayake who said it was difficult for the government to blame
the current economic crisis on the Peoples’ Alliance when the
Treasury Secretary, P.B. Jayasundera, who was a principal cause
behind the economic mismanagement, was still holding high office
in the UNF government.
Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda under whose purview PERC falls
however defended the retention of Jayasundera stating no public
official should be victimised on political grounds.
if there were charges of corruption, abuse of power or impropriety
on the part of Jayasundera he was prepared to look into them and
take action, provided there was tangible proof but will not
victimise him for political reasons.
subsequently pointed out by Karunanayake that Jayasundera was
implicated in the multi million dollar vehicle purchases by
President Chandrika Kumaratunga without cabinet approval, in
addition to the sale of SriLankan shares to Emirates and the
purchase of Airbuses among several other issues.
It is learnt
Moragoda had asked the ministers to furnish whatever material they
had on the understanding he will conduct the necessary inquiries.
Leader learns, Ministers G.L. Pieris, S.B. Dissanayake, Tissa
Attanayake, W.J.M. Loku-bandara, John Amaratunga, Rajitha
Senaratne, M.H. Mohamed and A.R.M. Cader have all at the meeting
called for Jayasundera’s ouster.
Richard to be charge sheeted
prominent ministers of the previous Peoples’ Alliance
(PA) regime, former Education Minister Richard Pathirana and
former Transport Minister A. H. M. Fowzie are to be served
with “show cause letters” by President Chandrika Kumaratunga
this week, Peoples’ Alliance (PA) senior members said.
Committee member of the PA confirmed to The Sunday Leader
that President Kumaratunga had already prepared the letters. The
member said the letters were to be issued to Pathirana and Fowzie
last week but the president held them back due to pressure put on
her. “But the president is likely to hand them the letters this
week,” he said.
by The Sunday Leader, Fowzie said he has so far not
received any letters from the president, adding that he was aware
of such a rumour. He said he was not perturbed over the
development. “I expected this,” he said.
said nobody could be sacked from the party and that only a
“show cause letter” could be served. He said once the
letter is served, he would give his reasons for supporting the
government in principle.
PA senior members said that the president was unhappy with both
Fowzie and Pathirana after they made statements to the press
expressing their support to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
and also propagating the concept of a national government.
though both Fowzie and Pathirana made statements to the press,
they however did not violate party norms and regulations.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse told The Sunday Leader he
was not aware of such a development. “I have also heard about
this story, but I am not sure whether President Kumaratunga is
going to issue them these notices,” he added.
Fowzie told The Sunday Leader that a coup was being
engineered by the PA led by a former minister from the south to
“push” him out of the party and also to divide the party.
Fowzie also said all those who spoke of a national government and
also those who supported the policies of Opposition Leader Mahinda
Rajapakse, were “targeted” and “cornered.”
propagating the concept of a national government.
said, though both Fowzie and Pathirana made statements to the
press, they did not violate party norms and regulations.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse told The Sunday Leader he was
not aware of such happenings. "I have also heard about this
story, but I am not sure whether President Kumaratunga is going to
issue them with these notices," he added.
week, Fowzie told The Sunday Leader that a coup was being
engineered by the PA led by a former minister from the south to
'push' him out of the party and also to divide the party. Fowzie
also said all those who spoke of a national government and also
those who supported the policies of Opposition Leader Mahinda
Rajapakse were being 'targeted' and 'cornered'.
on Agrekko International
Avissawella Magistrate Court has issued summons to the Resident
Manager of Agrekko International Projects Limited, John Judge to
appear before court on July 5.
follows a petition by residents of the area and the Environmental
Foundation Limited (EFL) alleging that the emergency power
generating plant is violating environmental laws.
Avissawella Magistrate's Court has in the meantime ordered that
Agrekko shut down its operations at Kosgama until the court case
G. Punchihewa, Magistrate for Avissawella in a strongly worded
order has warned that if Agrekko flouts the law and continues to
conduct its operations out of Kosgama, the company will be
punished for contempt of court under section 185 of the Penal
has also said that the judiciary will take action and even sell
the machinery at the Kosgama plant if Agrekko does not comply with
generates 45 megawatts of power from the Kosgama plant.
The private power generating firm's battle with local
residents and the EFL began last year when court determined that
Agrekko is flouting maximum noise decimal stipulations, making it
unbearable for residents to continue living in the area.
closing the plant down last year following a court order, Agrekko
however did not comply fully with the law and shift its machinery
out of the site. The
plant was reactivated this year after the United National Front
government signed fresh contracts with Agrekko to buy 200
megawatts of emergency power.
The Sunday Leader learns that the Fiat Avio gas turbine plant at
Kelanitissa is still producing high vibrations, even after Italian
engineers were brought down by the government for the second time
in two months to 'balance' the troublesome machine.
guaranteed to produce 115 megawatts of power, the gas turbine
plant even after being repaired by the Italians cannot be run at
more than 25 megawatts as the vibration it generates is "very
high," senior engineers said.The plant is still being test
run as local engineers are trying valiantly to balance the
workings of the machine and stop the heavy vibration. "We
definitely cannot run it at maximum speed and generate 115
megawatts of power given the poor manner in which the plant is
performing right now," they said.
on the right track
persistent woes, the Sri Lankan economy is on the right track,
says Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, an economist attached to the
International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
a historically pro-business political party in power and the peace
process on track, there is a tremendous 'feel good factor' among
the masses," Sarvananthan observed in a review of first
quarter economic performance for the year.
however warned that the recovery has a long way to go and would be
painful. The GDP growth rate that fell to minus 3.4% in the last
quarter of 2001 would only begin to recover substantially by
mid-2002 according to the review.
up and down trend witnessed in most of the sectors during the
first three months of 2002 was an indication of an economy trying
to come to terms with the dire circumstances. "The industrial
sector experienced ups and downs during the first quarter of this
year, reflecting the economic problems facing the country,"
states Sarvananthan. The same was true with the stock market and
inflation rate that dipped in February to 8.5% only to record a 3%
increase by March. Interest fortunately remained stable and below
2001 figures. " Interest rates are almost 40% lower, compared
to the corresponding period last year," the review observed.
inflation is expected to rise during the second quarter when
cost-push factors introduced by the budget take effect.
tourism industry also suffered an off-season during peak arrival
months. In March arrivals were down by 31% compared with last
year. A drop which Sarvananthan attributed to a depressed global
market and a worldwide fear of air travel.
war economy seems to have turned for the better with the
withdrawal of economic sanctions on LTTE held areas in the North
East Province. However, despite the positive measures, there is a
long way to go for the realisation of the peace dividend in Sri
Lanka," was Sarvananthan's overall assessment of the economy.
police post set up in Muttur
in the east under control
Minister John Amaratunga on Friday (28) said the situation in
Muttur and in other parts of the Eastern Province was under
minister returned to Colombo after visiting the trouble torn areas
on Friday. He visited these areas along with Ports and Shipping
Minister Rauf Hakeem and Batticaloa Bishop Rt.Rev.Dr.Kingsly
minister said though the area is under tension, the government has
been able to bring the previously volatile situation to normal.
said he has given instructions to the IGP to set up police posts
wherever necessary and in places where the civilians feel
insecure. "We should not take this as a clash between two
ethnic groups. The incident may have sparked off due to some
misunderstanding," the minister told The Sunday Leader.
also said that minister Hakeem who was present with him had
appointed a committee to observe incidents and to report back to
him with details.
Amaratunga said clear instructions have been given to the police
to take strict action against anyone violating laws of the land.
He also said that the damaged places of religious worship would be
repaired with government funds.
sources from Batticaloa said that even yesterday some of the shops
belonging to Tamils in Valaichenai were set on fire. Batticaloa
District TULF MP, Joseph Pararajasingham, Batticaloa Government
Agent and several other high-ranking officials visited Valaichenai
on Friday to contain the incidents and the violence.
12 people were injured and six shops were set on fire in
Valaichenai in the clashes between rival groups. Eyewitnesses told
The Sunday Leader that even hand grenades were used by the angry
mobs. An indefinite police curfew was also imposed in Valaichenai
following the clashes
workers for 8000 students.
Minister Dr.Karunasena Kodituwakku last week said he was surprised
to find out that a leading school in Colombo with nearly 8000
students had only nine sanitary workers.
minister told The Sunday Leader that he has begun visiting schools
to examine the hygienic conditions and the environment of the
schools, especially because the outbreak of dengue has affected
most schools in Colombo.
minister said he was instructed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga
to take action against a particular school principal, after the
media highlighted that most students were suffering from dengue.
The minister said that following the president's instructions he
visited this particular school and found out that there were only
nine sanitary workers. "I was surprised to see this. The
school is also set up in a 40 acre land. How could nine workers
keep the place clean?" the minister questioned.
said he has plans to increase the provisions to schools that lack
such provisions. He said it is up to the Education Department to
provide necessary funds and human resources to keep schools clean.
He also said that his ministry will in the future hold meetings
with the students, parents and the past pupils on a regular basis,
to discuss only about the environment and cleanliness.
have decided to do a survey to see how many schools are neglecting
the environment in which they are situated," the minister
confesses his fault
member of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) who circulated a
malicious letter written against the Tea Small Holdings
Development Authority (TSHDA) Chairman Ratna Gamage, last week
confessed that he was forced into writing such letters by
an inquiry that was held last week, M.Somasiripala, acting
assistant internal auditor of the JSS attached to the TSHDA,
pledged to withdraw the statement he made earlier. He also said
that he was asked to write this letter under duress, but refused
to divulge the name of the politicians.
letter had been addressed to the cabinet of ministers. In this
letter he has mentioned that the cabinet sub committee to appoint
chairmen of corporations, which also appointed Gamage as the
chairman of TSHDA, should remove Gamage with immediate effect.
has further stated that Gamage had abused the workers and indulged
in corruption, resulting in the TSHDA facing a crisis situation.On
June 1, Gamage's house was partly bombed after he initiated
inquiries into the misappropriation of TSHDA and Tea Shakthi
funds. Since then, Gamage has been faced with death threats.
and thousands of refugees who fled the country after the war broke
out between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the
government, are not being encouraged to return as a conducive
environment has not yet been created, Rehabilitation and
Resettlement Ministry officials said last week.
attached to the ministry said they were not promoting any large
scale repatriation as the situation here in the country is still
time is not right for large scale, organised return of
refugees" United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
Information Officer Micheal Di Sisti told The Sunday Leader.
are more than 100,000 refugees in India, of this 66,000 live in
government camps and 35,000 live outside these camps.
of the refugees living in these camps have approached the UNHCR
for them to come back to Sri Lanka but so far the organisation has
agreed to help only 85 of them. Out of this, three people have
already come down, and another 13 will be coming within two or
three weeks which consist of three families,"Di Sisti said.
UNHCR says at the moment it is involved in a small scale way to
bring down refugees.
UNHCR officials said that there are a lot of problems that the
repatriates had to face if they were to be returned to the island.
He said the principal one is the landmines which are yet to be
cleared from the peninsula.
further said other issues such as health and education should be
available to the people once they come back. Besides, he said
clean water should be available and jobs should be available for
these people. "Otherwise, they would suffer after coming back
to Sri Lanka," he added.
further said that the main problem that they may have to face is
regarding the properties they had left behind. He said most of the
properties left behind by those that fled the country, may not be
able to be traced due to the war. He also said some others who
have been living here may have occupied the places of those who
fled the country.
returnees are bound to face these problems on their return. This
is why we do not want to promote their return,"
movements of the returnees should not be controlled. If they were
to come back, they should know the situation that they face once
they come back," he told The Sunday Leader.
further said that the organisation and the government of Sri Lanka
may have to face a huge problem with the internally displaced
people as the government may not know where to settle them. He
said the displaced people themselves might not know where they
want to settle down.
said it is difficult to predict a time frame for both the refugees
and the internally displaced people to return to their native
estimated 16,000 children have been born in the refugee camps in South
of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene who is
currently on a visit to Tamil Nadu is holding discussions with Tamil
Nadu Chief Minister Jeyaram Jayalalitha to finalise the birth
certificates of the newly born.
minister according to Rehabilitation Ministry officials is to also hold
discussions with the Indian education minister to find out how these
children could be enrolled in to the schools in India, at least to get
their basic education, until they return to the island.
minister, the officials said would also discuss how the refugees who
have lost their passports could be helped and also how they could be
transported to their destinations in Sri Lankaonce they arrive at the
DWC join hands
political wings of the Democratic Workers Congress (DWC) and the
Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) are to form an alliance in order to
look into the welfare of the Tamils living outside the north and
east, party sources said.
said discussions aimed at coalescing with each other even to
contest future elections are at present taking place in Colombo.
four-member committee has also been appointed to hold talks. The
committee comprises two representatives from the DWC and two from
CWC. Vadivel Suresh and V.Sathithiyanathan have been nominated
from the CWC while T. Jayaratnarajah and Braba Ganason have been
nominated by the DWC to hold discussions.
the leaders of CWC and DWC, Arumugam Thondaman and Mano Ganeson
agreed that there are moves to form a grand alliance to safeguard
the welfare of the Tamils living outside the north and east.
sources told The Sunday Leader that the Tamils out side the north
and east have not had any proper representation in the past and
hence, these parties have now come forward to give voice to the
people who are non-residents of both the north-east and the hill
officials also said that this would not lead the merger of both
parties but however they will continue to work in alliance with
each other, maintaining their own political and social identity.
DWC officials said that they agreed to enter into this alliance
with the CWC with a condition that the leadership of the DWC in
the Western Province must be honoured.
Lankan in Queen's honours list
Pearl Hettiaratchy made an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire for her services to old age psychiatry, by Queen Elizebeth
in her Jubilee Birthday honours.
announcement regarding this was made on June 15.
Pearl Hettiaratchy qualified in Sri Lanka in 1965 and went to the
UK in 1968. She was appointed a consultant in psychiatry in
Portsmouth in 1975. Following her appointment she set up
innovative services in Portsmouth and Winchester developing a
model of service focussing on the concept of the "Travelling
day hospital". This concept has been adopted by other parts
of the UK and internationally.
Hettiaratchy was the first Sri Lankan to be elected to the General
Medical Council, the Regulatory Body governing the registration of
doctors. She has served on the council since 1994. She has served
on many committees and was the first overseas-qualified doctor to
act as a screener for complaints. As a member of GMC, she serves
on the Review Board for Overseas Qualified Doctors, Race Equality
and Diversity Committee and Committee of Professional Performance.
was asked to serve as the vice president of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists in 1995. This was a unique honour as she was the
first Asian to hold this office. Her work with the college has
spanned 20 years covering the care of the elderly, nursing issues,
psychiatric practice in a British multi ethnic society and the
Committee on Unethical Psychiatrist Practice.
served as a commissioner with the Mental Health Act commission
from 1989 to 1998. She works as a member of the Mental Health
Tribunal Services since 1994.
is married to Dr. Sidney Hettiaratchy, consultant psychiatrist.
They have three children and five grand children.
Hettiaratchy is the daughter of the late Soloman and Manonmanie
Muttiah. She was educated at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya.
She qualified from the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo.
comes from a long line of medical practitioners that included her
brother Dr. Clarence Muttiah and sister the late Dr.Sugi
Canagaretna. The other members of her family include Sister Ranee
Savundranayagam and brothers the late Tyrell Muttiah and Sam
has recently retired from the NHS and will continue to work to
influence health care policy at a national level. She hopes to
participate actively in the work of Sri Lankan organisations in
their work in a similar capacity on an advisory basis.
INGRIN Institute of Printing and Graphics Sri Lanka Ltd, (IIPGSL)
has introduced new study programmes to be commenced in mid July in
addition to its existing study programmes in printing and
career development path introduced by INGRIN Sri Lanka will help
the industry personnel and the new comers to obtain
internationally recognised qualifications for employment in Sri
Lanka and abroad.
study programmes at INGRIN are based on more practical sessions to
train and educate the participants to anticipate effective and
efficient results, a press release from the IIPGSL said.
IIPGSL has also organised a seminar in printing and technology in
Kandy from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. at Riveradale Hotel, Aniwatte,
Kandy on Sunday, July 7.
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
was not so long ago that many looking at Sri Lanka's snail pace
development said that the country would have done much better if
it remained a British
colony. Ironically, Sri Lankan representatives abroad it seems,
share the same view and put it to action as well.
Sunday Leader recently received a copy of a visit visa to Sri
Lanka issued by an honorary consular in Hong Kong appointed by the
government of Sri Lanka to represent it in that
country - under a Ceylon stamp.
decades ago in 1972, the name Sri Lanka replaced Ceylon. Not so,
by the look of things at the consulate.
source from the Foreign Ministry when questioned about this stated
that the country is known as Sri Lanka and not Ceylon in other
countries. Even the European countries recognise the country as
Sri Lanka and not as Ceylon, he said.
the issue of the Ceylon stamp was raised he stated that it could
be an old Ceylon stamp. When questioned as to the validity of the
visa issued under an 'old Ceylon' stamp, the Foreign Ministry
source merely stated that he was not sure.
could a Sri Lankan consulate in a foreign country use a Ceylon
stamp when they are not even used in Sri Lanka? Here again, the
Foreign Ministry source could not give a definite answer and said
that there is a problem there and that he had to look into the
matter. The visa was not questioned at the airport, meaning that
the immigration officers were quite used to the stamp.
the Immigration and Emigration office confirmed that they are
using old Ceylon stamps in foreign consulates and that they are
planning to change the stamp in the future, the Foreign Ministry
source added. He further said that the issue of the usage of old
Ceylon stamps does not come under the purview of the Foreign
Ministry but the Immigration and Emigration Department.
a code of conduct for private buses
the sudden increase in the number of road deaths owing to reckless
bus drivers, the Ministry of Public and State Transportation has
finally decided that there should be a code of conduct for
private bus drivers.
road deaths reported almost daily from many parts of the island,
the Minister of Public Transportation, Upali Piyasoma held a
meeting last Thursday (27), with Transport Ministry officials and
provincial authorities to discuss issues that will help curb the
driving, by the drivers is the main cause of these road
accidents" said Piyasoma, in the wake of these accidents.
According to him the ministry is planning to hold programmes in
every province, specially for the bus drivers to be taught how to
drive safely and the rules and regulations of driving.
police has been ordered to be
extra careful and stern with regard to road offences committed by
all drivers. With many of the drivers taking a 'don't care'
attitude to road rules they seem to have forgotten what they have
learnt, in the rush to reach the next bus stop before anyone else.
All they concentrate on is getting as many passengers aboard as
minister says that these bus drivers have only the 'highway code'
as their guideline with no special training or regulations on road
and passenger safety.
with the knowledge of how bad these drivers are, many people in
the country still use this service as they are totally dependant
on public transportation. With buses packed to the limit with
people and many barely able to hold on, some standing on the edge
of the foot-boards,
the bus drivers however still stop, to take on more passengers not
realising the dangers of an over crowded bus toppling or the
consequences if an accident were to take place.
of Police, City Traffic, K. L. S. Thilakaratne observed that most
of the drivers are not qualified as it is the conductors, who
sometimes, become drivers with hardly any training in driving the
vehicle. Or else temporary drivers are employed who have not been
taught to drive with caution. Sometimes they don't even have a
licence as the private bus owners are only interested in short
term benefit and may not want to waste time training their staff,
according to the senior cop.
majority of them don't even know the basic rules such as
signalling before stopping the vehicle
or stopping properly at bus stops. And also they have no
regard when talking to passengers" said Inspector
the police do take
action and have sent some drivers to courts for road offences. The
important point is that they be taught to be more careful when
driving and the people who employ them should train them and check
their licences properly to see if they are qualified to drive a
bus. I believe the main problem lies in employing under qualified
drivers who have had little training and hardly any
experience" Thilakaratne pointed out.
the sudden leap in the number of road accidents Thilakaratne said
the police is now more vigilant. During the past fortnight there
has been 15 deaths caused by driver carelessness. The most
unfortunate was when
two children were knocked down by a speeding private bus in
also mentioned that the public should be more patient and stop
damaging vehicles when an accident take place, which often makes
the situation worse.
Private Bus Owners Association, Gemunu Wijeratne said, "Out
of more than the 17000
bus drivers in the country, there are around 4000 drivers who are
not properly trained to drive a bus. This makes out to almost 25%
of buses being driven by unqualified drivers".
further said that private bus owners plan to start a training
programm for these new drivers who have not had any training. The
training program will be conducted by qualified driving
the issue of speeding
bus drivers, Wijeratne said that
when the speed limit is 45 k / hrs, some of the new drivers
drive above 60 k/hrs.
"The new drivers don't have any speed control".
opined that private bus owners have very little choice when it
comes to employing bus drivers, because at the moment there is a
severe shortage of good drivers.
of the qualified drivers are leaving the country for greener
pastures, and when the local employees want drivers, there are
hardly any experienced and qualified drivers, making the employees
take in either unqualified or new drivers. Wijeratne met with the
Transport Minister Tilak Marapone last Friday to
discuss issues faced by the private bus owners.
of the issues brought up were the implementation of the 15% bus
fare hike, which will now be effective from tomorrow, and the
issue of having special training for the drivers. The other
important issue is to change the times buses are in operation to
stop stagnation and the overcrowding of buses.
buses were operating from only eight in the morning to four or
five in the evening that would help reduce the traffic jams. The
private bus drivers association discussed with the transport
minister, ways they can change this so that drivers can work from
8 am to 4 pm and others can take over, and start at 10 am and
finish at 6 pm and so on to help reduce the congestion.
the threshold of history
Nichol A. Hanson
Irish American family uses their knowledge of land and farming to
provide for their own family while struggling to keep up with
their Italian American neighbours and their way of life.
these two families come from two very different places and have
very different cultures and traditions, they are alike in more
ways than they themselves even realise. Both families hold strong
values and have a growing desire to not only provide for their own
family, but to contribute to a society growing and changing all
around them. This is a scene from a typical American community
around the year 1950.
in Sri Lanka the cultural climate may be similar in the way that a
diverse population is attempting to work together in order to
build a stronger more unified nation.
race of people yearns to hold on to their cultural identity and
the threat of losing that sense of identity is much like the
threat many American immigrants felt as a democratic dynamo was
other nations in the South Asian region, Sri Lanka has a diverse
population. Various communities profess four of the world's major
religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The major
ethnic groups include not only the Sinhalese and the Tamils, but
also Moors, Muslims, Burghers and other people of mixed European
and Sri Lankan descent, Malays, and tiny percentages of others
including the aboriginal Veddhas, who are considered to be the
island's original inhabitants. As signs of peace are near for Sri
Lankan people, more opportunities to pursue higher standards of
living are on the horizon.
the United States began a period of rebuilding, restructuring, and
advancement of urban development in the 1950's, Sri Lanka was
beginning their tug-of-war over a pro national society. In order
to provide work for lower income citizens, projects to build
better roads, bridges, and dams were underway in the States,
creating pride among citizens for their beloved nation.
competence began to make way for new ideas on tougher air, water,
and even noise pollution policies. A nation of people from all
over the world were finally starting to recognise the negative
effects of racial, religious, and sexual discrimination.
Development of rights for women and minorities were creating a new
feeling of liberation. With a lack of a caste system, people from
all backgrounds were able to pursue leadership roles, and they
did. The lack of religion in politics created a new perspective on
economics and geopolitics. President Chandrika Kuma-ratunga said
in her 1998 Independence Day speech, "We have meandered and
faltered along the path, whilst our neighbours in Asia and many
other countries have forged strong and united nations in which
peoples of various communities of race, religion, and language
live in harmony."
is an exciting time in Sri Lankan history, with all types of ideas
and perspectives on the direction that Sri Lanka should take as it
enters a globalised world.
a society as diverse as Sri Lanka's, social divisions have had a
direct and weighty impact on politics. In the late 1980's, the
ethnically, linguistically, and religiously based antagonism of
the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils overs- hadowed all other
social divisions: the civil war that resulted, especially since
mid-1983, seemed to bode a permanent division of the country.
past 50 years have brought access to new international markets.
With these integrated markets, each individual has different
access to new markets, which creates a defining economic tool that
allows everyone to either be directly or indirectly affected by
them. While people in developing countries may still be ploughing
barefoot behind a wild buffalo, living on a dollar a day, and
carrying timber to their homes on their heads, another individual
in that same country may be working at a high tech company and
taking part in the global communication that we call the year
is exposing every corner of the globe and there is no room or
tolerance for discrimination or separation of people's ideas. As
Sri Lankan people look back over the way that other countries have
developed over the past 50 years they will come face to face with
atrocities as well as bold revelations. A minute in 2002 is
equivalent to a decade in the year 1950. If there was ever a time
that opportunity and change could happen at a cyclone speed, this
period in history is it.
2km from the entry point to Jaffna at Muhamalai, a slightly built
man sells his wares under a tree on the roadside.
Toddy' the hastily put up sign advertises. Anton Charles, hailing
from LTTE controlled Kilinochchi is cashing in on the MoU. He is
selling toddy on the roadside.
do good business, at least 60 bottles go a day," he said
adding that the figure breached the 100 bottle mark when there was
a deluge of visitors. Business is brisk enough -
even on ordinary days he was willing to give me a discount
on the usual Rs 14 price per bottle. The simmering mid-day heat
persuaded me otherwise.
visiting Jaffna from the south are the best customers according to
Charles who bicycles to Muhamalai from Kilinochchi every day
carrying his brew in big cans. "They drink a lot," he
observed scanning the road for prosp- ective customers.
seeking the brew made from Palmyrah have to navigate a footpath,
criss-crossing mine infested terrain before they can enjoy the A9
the area where the brew is sold witnessed some of the fiercest
fighting in the ethnic war in 2000 when the LTTE over ran the
Elephant Pass defence complex. The army units that were falling
back, retreated through the area now being used as an open-air
tavern by their southern brethren.
over gallantry medals
army officers are crying foul over the awarding of gallantry
medals to soldiers and junior officers.
is being voiced after the army finalised a list of selected
officers and soldiers to be the recipients of gallantry medals for
having purportedly performed acts of extreme bravery in the face
of the enemy.
field commanders and brigadiers are accusing the special 'Medals
Board' which sat to evaluate the nominations, of favouring some
and ousting others who deserve
medals for bravery. These officers have also expressed
anger that fellow colleagues, who died in the face of battle at
Elephant Pass in April 2000, are not to be posthumously honoured.
No medals are to be given to honour dead heros who died trying to
save embattled troops at Elephant Pass when the army camp came
under siege from the LTTE on April 21 and 22, 2000.
Percy Fernando, Colonel Bhathiya Jayatilleke and Colonel Neil
Akmeemana who were among those who laid down their lives that
fateful month will not be awarded any gallantry medals
officers angrily allege that these men have been forgotten when
the army decided to award medals as a token of appreciation and
recognition to officers and soldiers who have surpassed military
expectations when serving during battle.
Spokesman, Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne reiterated however that
"death is not a qualification to get a gallantry award unless
the officer died fighting. In this instance both Colonel Neil
Akmeemana and Colonel Bhathiya Jayatilleke died of dehydration -
that is not a prerequisite or qualification to get a gallantry
award," Karunaratne said.
Percy Fernando, he pointed out, was killed by sniper fire and did
not exactly die fighting. Army officers allege that Major General
Anton Wijendra, who presided over the 'Army Medals Board' and Army
Commander, Lt. General Lionel Balagalle have both acted in a
biased manner when making the final choices. Citations written by
field commanders and brigadiers they assert, have been ignored.
names of the winners are sent to a Tri Service Board for final
recommendation. However no changes are made at this juncture as
this board merely authorises the selection made by the army, navy
and airforce medal boards. The Tri Service Board comprises of the
army's chief of staff (on this occasion it was Major General Lohan
Gunewardena), the navy chief of staff, and the director operations
Sri Lanka Air Force. The army officers who say they cannot be
named as they are still serving, allege that both Wijendra and
Balagalle have handed out most of the medals to soldiers and
officers who served under their command during 'Operation
Rivikirana.' One medal in particular, the second highest in the
army for bravery, the Weera Wickrema Vibushanaya (WWV) has been
given to Colonel Daya Ratnayake against whom, officers say there
are various allegations made with regard to his lack of bravery.
Ratnayake is being awarded the WWV medal for the capture of
Kaiththady Island in Jaffna. Commanding officers who fought for
this territory say that Ratnayake only entered the islands two
days after it was captured as he had allegedly been too afraid of
the barrage of mortar fire by the LTTE. The Sunday Leader learns
that late last week Ratnayake's name was deleted from the medal
winners' list following the allegations levelled by fellow
claim that both Anton Wijendra and Army Chief, Lionel Balagalle
are merely trying to boost their own image by handing out the
majority of the medals to officers and soldiers who served under
them during 'Operation Rivikirana.'
both Major General Janaka Perera and Major General Sarath Fonseka
have not been selected for a medal for the role they played in
defending Jaffna following the fall of Elephant Pass to the LTTE.
Sanath Karuna- ratne, speaking on behalf of the army refuted some
of these claims explaining that if the citation had not been
written properly or projected adequately by a commanding officer
the nominee "would get knocked off."
said that once this obstacle is cleared the citation is sent to
the Tri Service Board. When told that some senior commanding
officers are unhappy and angry with this year's selection he said,
"it is true - sometimes people who do not deserve a gallantry
medal get it - while others who do, don't get it. This is human
nature anywhere in the world and is not unique to the Sri Lanka
asserted that he doubted senior officers of the calibre of Major
General Anton Wijendra would favour any individual in the army to
hand out these medals. Brigadier Karunaratne however admitted that
there have been occasions when such favouritism or bias appears to
have prevailed with regard to awarding these medals. "I do
not rule that out," he said honestly.
pointed out that the bottom line is, at the end of the day the
winner "must be proud of wearing his medal and when
questioned be able to say exactly for what deed of bravery he was
awarded the gallantry medal.
a soldier stumbles in his explanation you will be able to judge if
he has been awarded the medal for a meritorious deed or is merely
faking an act of bravery," the brigadier further said.
why Major General Janaka Perera and Major General Sarath Fonseka
have been side-lined for a gallantry medal given the role they
both played to prevent the fall of Jaffna to the LTTE in the year
2000, Brigadier Karunaratne replied, "I do not know."