Commander Jayalath Weerakkody
leaves the Coronerís Court after the inquest in to the death of
Rathnasena Silva, the cleaner of the lorry that collided with the
vehicle driven by the commander, in the early hours of June 15.
The Maligakanda magistrate on Friday, July 5, refused to grant
permission to arrest Weerakkody. However, he was asked to appear
before the court on Tuesday, July 9 Photo
by Nishantha Weerasinghe
President, CJ to
The government last week decided to impeach President
Chandrika Kumar- atunga on a wide range of issues from corruption
to the abuse of power whilst also deciding to impeach Chief
Justice Sarath Silva.
The decision was taken by the government's political
affairs committee at a Temple Trees meeting with Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday, July 4. Among those present at
the meeting were Power Minister Karu Jayasuriya, Defence Minister
Tilak Marapone, Constitutional Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris, Port
Development Minister Rauf Hakeem and UNP Chairman Malik
It was decided at this meeting that the main focus of the
impeachment motion would be the Rs. 2.3 billion luxury vehicle
scandal and the multi million dollar fraud involving the Sri Lanka
Rubber Manufacturing and Export Corporation Limited.
In both cases monies had been released by the Treasury on
President Kumaratunga's instructions.
Following the decision to impeach the president being
taken by the political affairs committee, Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe instructed his ministers to start drafting the
impeachment resolution with immediate effect.
However, Defence Minister Marapone had pointed out that
if the government was to proceed with the impeachment meaningfully
and obtain a fair hearing in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice
Sarath Silva would have to be impeached first.
Minister Karu Jayasuriya too called for the immediate
impeachment of the chief justice stating representations were made
to him by several judicial officers calling for the ouster of the
It was thereafter agreed to impeach Chief Justice Sarath
Silva first since the motion was already prepared, while
proceeding to draft the impeachment resolution against the
Meanwhile the political affairs committee also decided to
introduce the 18th Amendment to the constitution by end July.
The decision of the committee was to include only the
conscience vote in the amendment whereby a member will not lose
his parliamentary seat for voting against the party whip.
With the presentation of an impeachment resolution
against the president by half the MPs in parliament, Kumaratunga
will be precluded from dissolving parliament in December.
The government though having the numbers is also expected
to ask the JVP to be a party to the impeachment resolution given
the allegations of corruption that are to be levelled.
Rajitha calls for CID
probe on Bribery Comm.
Lands Minister Rajitha Senaratne has called upon Interior
Minister John Amara- tunga to initiate a CID investigation into
the workings of the Permanent Commission Investigating Allegations
of Bribery and Corruption.
Senaratne's appeal followed reports that there was an
attempted cover up of former Minister Mangala Samaraweera's credit
card case by the commission.
Former Director General Rienzie Arseculratne had
forwarded a report to the commission stating there was a prima
facie case of corruption against the minister, but attempts are
now underway in the commission to discredit that report in a bid
to dismiss the complaint against Samraweera which was made by
Minister Senaratne while an opposition MP.
All three commissioners and the Director General of the
Commission, P. Ranas- inghe were hand-picked by President
Chandrika Kumara- tunga during the PA regime.
Minister Senaratne also wrote to the commission last week
drawing attention to reports of an attempted cover-up following
moves by the legal department in the commission and Commissioner
Kingsley Wickramasuriya to force affidavits from staffers at the
commission discrediting the Arsecularatne report.
The Sunday Leader learns that at least one investigating
officer had made notes of the attempt to get an affidavit from him
with regard to this issue.
Senaratne as the complainant is also expected to write to
the CID this week calling for a probe on the workings of the
scandal rocks CBK
A special management audit has revealed misappropriation
of funds running into millions of rupees at the Sri Lanka Rubber
Manufacturing and Export Corporation Ltd.
The details in the audit carried out by Ernst & Young
reveal that cheques were drawn contravening official procedure and
were drawn by employees of the corporation. In some instances
payments have been made by cheque while additional payments came
through petty cash. The audit was handed over to the present
chairman on June 13.
Commenting on a crash programme initiated by the PA
government to establish rubber finished products factories, the
audit says that then Chairman Sarath Wickrem- asinghe sought and
received permission from the directors to appoint contractors
without going through proper tender procedure. He sought the green
light with the objective of expediting the setting up of the
The audit has also revealed manipulation of tender
procedure and withholding of information. Wickremasinghe
functioned directly under President Chandrika Kumara- tunga and
did not even report to the then minister of plantations. It was
President Kumaratunga who had authorised the release of funds to
the corporation through a cabinet paper.
'However, it is beyond doubt that this was done with the
intention of misappropriation,' states Ernst &Young. Rs 1,058,
291,969 was drawn from two banks for the project.
The Sunday Leader learns that in fact even board approval
as stated by the auditors had not been obtained by the former
The audit also found out that vouchers had been drawn
without the knowledge of officers in charge and worse, some
vouchers have been drawn falsely. Some officers whose initials
were on vouchers denied that they were theirs when questioned by
officers from Ernst & Young.
The audit has also revealed that cheques drawn on behalf
of contractors have been en-cashed by employees of the
corporation. 'When cheque realisation details were checked with
banks it was found that some cheques have been en-cashed by
employees of the corporation,' the audit says in a section titled
mode of manipulation.
The audit reveals evidence on three instances when
cheques drawn on behalf of contractors were en-cashed by
employees. Three cheques numbering 715751, 715752 (both drawn on
cheques for Bank of Ceylon Dematagoda and on behalf of S Premasiri
for wiring of a factory at Kuruwita) and another bearing number
054123 (drawn on a cheque issued by Hatton National Bank, T B
Jayah Mawatha and on behalf of M H N Perera) were en-cashed by
The first two by Mahendra Perera who admitted that the
money was withdrawn and handed over to Mrs W G N Delduwa, the
chief accountant at the corporation. However, no documentary
evidence was available, leaving the auditors to state, 'we have a
serious doubt about the genuinty of the payments,' which amounted
to Rs 1 million.
The third cheque was en-cashed by Gamini Perera, who at
that time was the head of the project division and is now the
manger of the corporation's factory at Munagama. The cheque was
for the amount of Rs 659,630.78. The recipient in the voucher
Perera has not acknowledged the receipt of the amount. The audit
has raised serious doubt about the genuineness of the payment.
rates to be slashed this week
Finance Minister K. N. Choksy will today announce over
national television a package of economic relief to ease the cost
of living burden on the people.
Minister Choksy's announcement is a sequel to Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's address to the nation on Thursday
(4) where he spelt out the economic crisis facing the country and
steps proposed to be taken by the government to overcome it.
The Sunday Leader learns Minister Choksy will announce
cuts in petrol, diesel and electricity rates as immediate relief
for the public.
The prices of petrol, diesel and electricity rocketed
after the government was committed through agreements entered with
donor agencies by the previous regime to recover the debts of the
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the Ceylon Electricity Board from
the people by increasing prices over and above world market rates.
The government, it is learnt, will remove this additional
burden imposed on the public by the CPC and CEB for debt recovery
and move towards privatisation.
The Sunday Leader learns the price reductions will be
substantial to the extent that it will have a trickle down effect
on transport fares and on essential food items.
AB likely to step down
Presidential Advisor on National Integration, Anura
Bandaranaike is expected to resign from parliament shortly to take
up office in the presidential secretariat.
Bandaranaike who was elected to parliament on the PA
ticket from the Gampaha district was last week appointed as a
presidential advisor, which post has to now be approved by cabinet
after which he ceases to be a member of parliament.
Article 41(1) of the constitution states, 'the president
shall have the power to appoint such secretaries, and, in
consultation with the cabinet of ministers, such other officers
and staff as are in his opinion necessary to assist him in the
exercise, performance and discharge of the powers, duties and
functions of his office, and to determine their terms and
conditions of service.' The reference to 'terms and conditions,'
legal sources said would apply to a person performing even in an
The president, it is learnt will accordingly have to now
submit Bandaranaike's appointment for cabinet approval prior to
which any action Bandaranaike performs as a presidential advisor
would tantamount to cheating by personation in terms of Section
399 of the penal code.
Further in terms of Article 41(3) of the constitution,
presidential advisors fall into the category of 'public officers -
and Article 170 of the constitution dealing with 'interpretation'
states a public officer does not include a member of parliament.
PA sources said subsequent to the president obtaining
cabinet approval for Bandaranaike's appointment, he will abide by
the constitution and quit parliament unless he opts to continue as
a MP and decline the advisor post.
Remote control by CBK
Having lost control of the media, President Chandrika
Kumaratunga on Friday appealed to Defence Minister Tilak Marapone
to use his influence with the electronic media to keep Air Force
Commander Jayalath Weerakkody's appearance in court out of
Air Vice Marshal Weerakkody was one of President
Kumaratunga's favourite commanders and hence the request to keep
the story off the electronic media.
It is learnt, the President had subsequently called back
Minister Marapone to ascertain whether he had succeeded in
speaking to the media but the Defence Minister has said he was not
in a position to do so.
Bishop cries foul over
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Bishop of Mannar, Rev. Rayappu Joseph has objected to the
LTTE levying taxes on businesses and certain items during the
recently concluded Madhu feast. However, the Bishop's concern has
been met with silence by the LTTE.
is now planning to meet with the LTTE hierarchy including its
leader Velupillai Prabakharan and political wing chief
Thamilchelvam to resolve the matter.
When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Rev. Joseph stated
that the LTTE taxed the devotees for certain items at the
checkpoint and also the businessmen running the stalls in the
area. OI objected when they imposed a tax on the stalls. We (the
church) built them and we don't charge anything from them. They
can give any amount they wish if they want to,' Rev. Joseph said.
The LTTE had collected money from some of the stall operators and
the bishop has objected to it stating that the LTTE's rule does
not apply to Madhu. 'I asked them to return the money, but, I
still don't know whether the money has been returned to the
people,' the bishop said.
The bishop explained that the LTTE has a rule to tax
business organisations and certain items in the areas controlled
by the group. These funds are for the LTTE. 'I explained to the
LTTE officials present in the area that this rule cannot apply
here. When the stall owners are charged a tax, the food items
available in the stalls go up in price and the poor man cannot
afford it,' he said.
The bishop further stated that he has already asked for
an appointment with the LTTE leaders to discuss the matter and he
felt that they would oblige his request. 'This kind of taxing will
not happen again as it is a place of worship and people should be
free,' the bishop said.
As for the tight security by the LTTEers in and around
the Madhu shrine, the bishop said that there were officers from
the LTTE run police department to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
The bishop explained that during the feast anyone could
have entered the area and the lives of the LTTE leaders would have
been in danger and as a precaution the LTTErs adhered to strict
Speaking to The Sunday Leader some of the devotees who
attended the Madhu feast sounded disappointed of what they
received at the much hyped-up Madhu feast.
One devotee stated that the army did not check much and
stayed aside and when they reached the LTTE checkpoint, they were
thoroughly checked and bottles of arrack were confiscated by the
LTTE and extra money was also taken by them.
were then told that if they wanted to, they could buy arrack in
the LTTE controlled area with the LTTE symbol. Finally, when the
devotees reached Madhu all the shops were closed till 1 p.m.
(after the service). As a result, most of the devotees had to stay
hungry while some had no option but to travel all the way back
about 12 km to the main road to find something to eat. The
devotees added that the LTTE too had kept a till next to the till
kept by the church next to the statue when it paraded the roads.
When the devotees reached the LTTE checkpoint on their
way back to their respective hometowns from Madhu, the Tigers had
then handed back everything they earlier confiscated. The army was
helpless and when the devotees asked them what to do, the army had
said that they could do nothing.
Another devotee from Chilaw said that the LTTE officers
were in uniforms similar to those of scouts and it was by the LTTE
badge that one could differentiate the two. 'They were everywhere.
Even where we light candles,' she said. 'Unlike earlier all the
stalls were run by Tamils and we could not undersatnd what they
were telling and vice versa and even the hymn books were in
Tamil,' she said. When buying fish and meat one had to stand in a
queue for hours and 1 kg of beef was sold at Rs. 70. 'We felt so
uneasy. Unlike earlier there was no freedom at all. At night they
even came with torches to inspect the tents,' she said.
bathing was only provided from 7 a.m. - 12 p.m. and water for
drinking too was given at particular times and people had to store
water to use when they wanted, the devotee added with much dismay.
She then said that there was a rumour that the LTTE had
stated so that people can only stay for four days as they were
planning on closing the road to Madhu afterwards. 'It was funny to
hear the LTTE asking us to come for the next feast. I guess it is
a profitable venture for them,' the devotee said.
A catholic priest who attended the feast from Chilaw
stated that priests together with scouts confiscated bottles of
arrack which was never done earlier. LTTE police was everywhere,
he said. The stall area was controlled by the LTTE and a stall
owner had to pay Rs. 100 per squarefoot, he said. This he added
was ironic as the church only asks the stall owners to give what
they can if they wanted to.
Security was tight and the reason was that the LTTE
feared an attack by an anti-peace force, the priest said. An
attack by fanatics would have put the lives of LTTE leaders in
danger, was the thinking behind the tight security dragnet.
Ironically, crowds of devotees converged on Madhu last
week making use of the MoU - more than 100,000 pilgrims and over
100 priests - representing Colombo, Chilaw, Anuradhapura, Jaffna,
Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mannar and Kandy attended the feast. The
more significant Madhu feast will be held on August 15.
Elephants turn garbage junkies
By Risidra Mendis
For want of finding a place to dump garbage, several
pradeshiya sabhas continue to pile tons of waste in a land
bordering the Flood Plains National Park in Manampitiya in the
For many years the excuse given by the pradeshiya sabhas
is that there is no suitable place to dump garbage within the
area. As a result of the stench of the garbage that attracts
cattle and other animals, wild elephants in the National Park have
been frequenting the spot for easy meals.
Garbage that includes dahaiya and drainage waste is
brought from as far as Hingurakgoda and dumped at Manampitiya
where wild animals have easy access to the dump and have got
hooked on to the waste.
The fast dwindling elephant population in Sri Lanka has
been a growing concern for some time among wildlife experts,
environmentalists and even tourists who visit the country.
However, despite at least one elephant dying every other day, due
to negligence and encroaching on their natural habitats by
farmers, poachers and the general public, necessary action is yet
to be taken by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWC).
The Flood Plains National Park, well known for its
elephant population, has been an attraction for locals and
tourists who can at least spot one elephant at any given time.
However, due to the dumping of garbage, the threat of elephants
dying from the consumption of polythene has raised serious
concerns among wildlife experts and environmentalists in the
With the threat of the elephant population being wiped
out hanging in the air, careless traps are still being laid by
humans who get away with the easy excuse of not having sufficient
land to dump garbage when ample bare land can be seen all over the
However, no one seems to have noticed the issue which has
been highlighted in the media continuously.
According to wildlife officials the Flood Plains National
Park belongs to the DWC. However, despite numerous discussions for
many years between the DWC and the pradeshiya sabhas a solution to
the garbage problem is yet to be solved.
Even though the DWC has the right to prosecute the
pradeshiya sabhas for dumping garbage in a national park, they
feel this would not solve the problem for the future. 'If we took
the pradeshiya sabha members to courts, they would be prosecuted
and the case finished. But if the pradeshiya sabha genuinely has a
problem of finding a suitable place to dump garbage, the court
case will not solve the pending problems for both parties,' DWC
But despite the fact, environmentalists feel the threat
to the elephant population will increase by the dumping of garbage
in the Flood Plains National Park some wildlife experts however
According to wildlife experts from the DWC there hasn't
been an incident reported so far of an elephant dying of polythene
'There have been incidents of deer dying from the
consumption of polythene but not elephants. The reason is the
elephant is a big animal and if it swallows polythene while
consuming food the polythene will pass out eventually from its
body,' DWC officials said.
However, the chance of an elephant dying of polythene
consumption hasn't being ruled out entirely. Also the fact remains
that the dump not only pollutes the environment but the elephants
are virtual garbage junkies.
The attraction to the elephants is so much, that as much
as four large adults were seen at the spot last week. One of the
animals never leaves the dump at all, according to people in the
area. Meaning it has become the first garbage junkie elephant in
Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, if any one wants to locate a wild
elephant without much sweat, Manampitiya is the place. It is easy,
all you need is a good nose, just take the straight road and
follow the stench.
Army falls short in
By Marianne David
The army has been able to recruit less than 10% of the
required number of cadres in its recently concluded recruitment
The recruitment drive which was extended due to the poor
response, was concluded on June 30. The army hoped to recruit 500
cadres from this drive.
The army is now short of 4528 cadres. Having recruited
over 500 people, the actual enlistment was only 472 cadres after
basic requirements were checked and medical tests were carried
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Military Spokesman,
Brigadier Sarath Karunaratne stated this lack of motivation to
join the army and not having the required numbers in the army is a
'The actual number of enlistment is 472 and the army
should not have to handle this crisis alone. There is no national
He added that the country should have a sizeable armed
force and the government should also get involved and take steps
to solve this problem.
Ironically, the recent recruitment drive did not get the
same level of publicity in the state media as was the case when
similar drives were launched during the PA regime.
According to Karunaratne, the general public should also
be aware of this situation because it is becoming a serious
Said a military official, 'People look at the army and
think that it is full of womanisers, drunkards and commission
takers, so they don't want their children to join.'
'The facilities and pay a soldier gets is very low and
given the hardships people are going through, people would not
want to join the army when they could get a better salary
elsewhere,' he added.
Kudu Noor shot dead
near police station
By Frederica Jansz
As the crime wave in Sri Lanka hits an all time high,
another underworld gangster was shot dead last Tuesday, July 2, at
Aluthkade, in the Keselwatte police division. This time it was
Mohammed Haniffa Mohammed Noor, alias 'Kudu Noor.'
Noor operated at Maligawatte and was wanted in connection
for at least two murders and a number of attempted murders. Noor,
though arrested by police some time ago was soon released on bail.
The police say they have no idea who his killers could be.
'I have no clues yet,' SSP, Keselwatte Police, D. P. L.
Dissanayake said. Dissanayake said that Kudu Noor earned his name
after being caught with a load of heroin some years back.
'I do not know what has happened to that case,' he
claimed, adding that investigations into the matter had been
handled by the former Terrorist Investigations Department (TID)
but said that Kudu Noor soon walked free after receiving bail.
was shot dead at point blank range while seated in a children's
park at Aluthkade. The killing took place in broad daylight at
around 2 p.m. about 100 yards away from the police post at
Aluthkade. The cops however had not seen anything.
At a high
powered meeting the same day, July 2, a decision was taken to
amend the existing Bail Act which will hence enable police and the
judiciary to hold criminal suspects in remand for a period longer
than two years.
The present Bail Act allows the judiciary to keep in
custody suspected criminal elements for a period not exceeding two
years while the case is pending before courts.
At Tuesday's meeting, the justice minister, chief
justice, attorney general, the solicitor general and the Judicial
Services Commission secretary together with senior police officers
discussed issues relating to the inadequacy of substantive laws
and the effectiveness of the role played by the members of the
institutions comprising of justice and law enforcement.
Why the police have failed in law enforcement and the
standard of investigations displayed by police officers was also a
subject of discussion at this meeting.
Senior DIG Crimes, H. M. G. B. Kotakadeniya had pointed
out that there is a public perception that the police are allowing
criminals to run riot in society without apprehending them.
The top cop had argued that the reality of the matter is
most criminals have been arrested by police but walk free soon
after receiving bail.
A case in point was that of Kaduwela Wasantha, recently
murdered together with five others at Kaduwela on Vesak Poya Day
in May this year. Kaduwela Wasantha, Kotakadeniya said was a
wanted man, had been arrested by the cops but had been walking
around a free man after being allowed bail by the judiciary.
Another high profile case that has remained in limbo
since the initial hype is the murder of former PSD officer cum
underworld figure Baddegana Sanjeewa. According to associates of
Sanjeewa the murder was committed by one 'Galaya' while his
accomplice was Dammika.
Galaya is reportedly in custody now. But no breakthrough
has been made on the Sanjeewa murder as yet. While Sanjeewa was
alive, he was 'the boss.' Everything from ransom demands to the
election of chief incumbent of temples was settled through the
intervention of Sanjeewa.
One of the very last deals he was involved in was the
election of the chief incumbent at a temple near his house. His
payment for the deal was rupees three lakhs.
Kottakadeniya said that a unanimous decision was reached
at this meeting to amend the Bail Act making it possible to hold
criminal suspects in remand until the conclusion of a court case.
However, Kotakadeniya himself came under attack by his
fellow officers led by none other than IGP Luky Kodithuwakku. The
IGP on Thursday called a press conference specifically to inform
the media that the entire Police Department had complained to him
regarding comments made by Kotakadeniya to the press. The IGP
claimed that the comments had brought disrepute to the force.
Price hike generates
By Shezna Shums
Last week's upward price revision has resulted in
authorities coming down harder on private bus operators. Instances
of traffic police prosecuting bus drivers violating regulations
have gone up with the revisions that took effect on July 1.
On a daily average, the Police Department said that they
had taken over more than 300 licences from errant drivers from the
beginning of last week. This figure is more than what it was two
'During last week there has been an increase in the
number of private bus drivers being stopped by the police than
before,' said President, Private Bus Operators' Association,
Gemunu Wijeratne. Wijeratne played a pivotal role to negotiate the
Wijeratne pointed out that there has been a lot of
complaints from bus drivers and bus owners since last week, about
the stern action taken by the police which creates a lot of
inconvenience to the drivers. Wijeratne speaking to The Sunday
Leader warned that the buses would have to stop running if the
police go on being this strict.
Inspector of Police, City Traffic K. L. S. Thilakaratne
noted that there is an increase in the number of detections by the
city traffic police especially in the main roads. For offences
such as overloading, not stopping at a pedestrian crossing and
dangerous driving, the driver's licence is taken by police and
some put to courts.
The city traffic police started a 'civil bus operation,'
where police will get into a bus in civil clothes from main
junctions. They will thereafter travel in the bus till they reach
Colombo. If during this journey the bus driver breaks any laws or
drive dangerously, the policeman in the bus will inform the
traffic police on the road that this particular bus should be
stopped and given a warning or his license should be taken. So
far, only less than 10 drivers have been charged this way and this
operation is carried out only on a few major routes.
Secretary, Private Bus Operators' Association, Rohan de
Silva admitted, that now the police is more vigilant and do take
stern action for offences committed by drivers. However, he
observed that if the police look into every error the drivers
make, it would be impossible for the service to continue. OEvery
thing should be perfect on the road, including the people, other
vehicles and the roads if these drivers are to be as good as every
one wants them to be.'
There has been an increase in the number of complaints
made by the drivers and owners of buses, where at times, they say
that they will not be able to run any more because of the
harassment they face. OPeople are not forced to enter an
overcrowded bus and it is not always the fault of the bus drivers
when they have so many people,' de Silva said. 'Some things are
not in the driver's control, like when they have too many
passengers. At times it is difficult to control the number,
especially at rush hour times. The passengers are at fault as
well, when they get into an over crowded bus anyway.'
There are 17,000 buses with around 14,000 owners, mainly
individuals, and for them to make a profit there cannot be any
De Silva emphasised that the police should not be too
strict; as too many arrests will be very problematic to the owners
as well as the people.
Meanwhile, in a move to bring about a better service, the
private bus operators have organised their own programme to teach
bus drivers to drive carefully. Last week around 800 drivers were
given instructions on safe driving at Town Hall.
The latest twist in the private bus operators' lives has
been mainly attributed to 'the attitude' bus drivers and
conductors have towards passengers and other road users.
NPC heading towards
By Wilson Gnanadass
The National Paper Corporation (NPC), with its production
of less than 25 percent of the country's requirements, also
considered non-viable, is heading towards
virtual closure, The Sunday Leader learns.
The corporation that owns two factories, one in
Valaichenai and the other in Embilipitiya, according to
well-informed sources run at huge losses and the government is now
intervening to find out ways and means to revive the industry,
fearing that the factories might have to be closed down.
According to NPC sources there are nearly 2000 workers in
both factories and the corporation is not even in a position to
The Sunday Leader learns that the corporation had sought
financial assistance of Rs. 250 million from the Treasury to
retrench most of the employees, but the government, it is learnt,
is planning to introduce some changes in order to revive the
Meanwhile the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE)
chaired by People's Alliance (PA) Member of Parliament Jeyaraj
Fernandopulle has summoned Mass Media Minister Imtiaz Bakeer
Markar and Industries Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to inquire
about the continuous losses these two factories had made during
the past four years.
While the factories come under the industries minister,
the NPC comes under the mass media minister and therefore The
Sunday Leader learns both ministers would be questioned. They will
meet the COPE in parliament on July 19.
The COPE chairman told The Sunday Leader that they would
ask the ministers as to what they could do to resolve the crisis
faced by the NPC.
Fernandopulle said he was surprised to observe that the
NPC had not been summoned by COPE in the past and added, he was
equally shocked to find out that the two factories at Valaichenai
and Embilipitiya could produce only 9,500 tons of paper a year as
against the national requirement of 30,000 tons of paper a year.
He said the fact that these two factories could not
produce at least half of the national requirement was something
that should be seriously looked into.
He further said that these two factories have the
capacity to manufacture 35,000 tons of paper annually and added if
100% work is applied in a proper manner, the country would have in
excess 5,000 tons of paper out of the total production.
The NPC is a hundred percent government owned private
company. Therefore, the Auditor General's Department was prevented
from undertaking proper auditing.
"But now, the AG's Department is doing its job
through COPE. Though the department cannot directly audit the NPC,
it could do so, through COPE. And that is what is happening
now," Fernandopulle said.
Fernandopulle said until 1995 the government sector has
been purchasing paper from the NPC, but after 1995, on a Treasury
directive issued to all government sectors, such purchases were
He said even Lake House and the State Printing
Corporation (SPC) imported newsprint and papers for various
publications while not attempting to purchase from the NPC. He
said Lake House
imports 9,000 tons of newsprint a year. "But sadly the NPC is
not considered," he said. He said the SPC calls for tenders
from outside the country to buy paper even to print school books.
"If at least Lake House and the SPC had purchased from the
NPC, this problem would not have arisen," he added.
According to him last year alone the Treasury had passed
Rs. 60 million to pay for the 2000 workers in both factories. He
said the Treasury couldn't afford to continue to inject money to
keep the factories alive.
Fernandopulle also said that COPE has already suggested
to the government to bring Lake House, State Printing Corporation
and National Paper Corporation under one ministry. He said the
development of these three institutions would be seriously
hampered if different ministers were going to handle these three
institutions that are interconnected, differently.
The former minister also said that he has already
requested for the quarterly report of the NPC from the relevant
officials for further study.
Severe overcrowding of
prisons cause for unrest
By Shezna Shums
The Prisoners' Welfare Association (PWA) last week
attributed the current unrest that prevails in the prisons to
The PWA said prisons in Sri Lanka are overcrowded by an
estimated 400% or even more.
According to the PWA, there are an estimated 18,000
prisoners in the country, and more than half this number of
prisoners are serving short term imprisonment for minor crimes.
Many of the prisons accommodate far and above the number
of prisoners who should be housed in each prison. Where there is
supposed to be only 1,000 prisoners per prison, at present, there
are more than 3,000 prisoners occupying them, a senior member of
the PWA, Sumith Abeywickrema told The Sunday Leader.
He said more than half of them are serving sentences
because of non-payment of fines given to them, while the others
for short term imprisonment offences such as drugs or minor theft.
Meanwhile, former president of the PWA and a former
judge, Walter Ladduwahetty said that the prisons have been in the
same condition since the time they were built by the British and
that they are not in a suitable condition for the inmates to live
in even temporarily.
Prison cells meant for two or three persons are now being
used by more than seven to eight prisoners because of the growing
number of prisoners in the country, he said.
"Here prisoners have to be locked up in a six by
five foot cell from six in the evening till six the next morning.
Many of them find it difficult even to sleep. There are times when
a prisoner has to stand, till he gets his turn to sleep," he
Owing to this situation, there is a problem of a severe
shortage of water for the prisoners since the facilities were made
for only a certain number of them. Thus, at times there is just a
trickle of water causing severe hardship for them, he added.
Both members of the PWA said that there is also a lack of
toilet facilities due to this congestion and prisoners have to
wait for a long time to use the toilets. "This has resulted
in the deterioration of the sewage system," they said.
They said the prisoners also lack fresh water for bathing
and washing, because there is no proper pipe line for water supply
to these prisoners.
Abeywickrema said overcrowding has also resulted in the
prisons not receiving a breath of fresh air. He said only a small
window is available in each cell for ventilation, adding that this
is not sufficient for the large number of inmates.
All prisoners are also entitled to two sets of clothes
but they are only provided with one set, he said. He said there
are instances where a prisoner has to wash his clothes and wait
till his clothes dry, to wear them again.
Another shortage Abeywickrema pointed out was the absence
of counsellors for the prisoners to be rehabilitated. He asserted
that there is also a lack of religious leaders to talk and help
these prisoners, at a time when they are also depressed.
"More than half these prisoners are serving short
sentences. This is one of the main reasons there is congestion in
the prisons. There is no proper order. Most of the time the
prisoners serving petty crimes are kept with the inmates serving
criminal offences," he said.
Both Abeywickrema and Ladduwahetty said the welfare of
these inmates has been on a decline since 1995 after the cabinet
approved the termination of the welfare services on a
recommendation of the Cyril Gamage Committee Report.
The PWA has been functioning since 1957.
The PWA members said their hands are tied and the
association lacked cooperation from the prison management.
"Many of them can and should be rehabilitated.
Otherwise, it would result in them returning to prison again for
the same offence. However, if they were trained in vocational
activities it is unlikely that they would come back," they
Rehabilitation is carried out in prisons, but not all
inmates are given the opportunities to be trained, as their stay
sometimes is considered too short to give adequate training in any
field, they added.
Text books worth
millions of rupees found rotting in warehouses in Colombo
The Education Ministry last week raided two warehouses in
Colombo and snatched textbooks and other publications worth nearly
Rs. 100 million and school furniture worth Rs. 30 million.
Text books and school furniture worth nearly Rs. 100
million, printed and ordered last year are now rotting in two
different warehouses in Colombo.
Education Minister Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku on a tip
off paid a sudden visit to both warehouses, situated at Deans Road
and Olcot Mawatha along with his media unit and found out that
these text books were being destroyed.
Ministry officials said there were tens and thousands of
books and furniture stocked there without being used.
According to ministry officials, the warehouses at Olcot
Mawatha had four million worth of books and 30 million worth of
furniture that were virtually going into ruin.
It is alleged that Dr. Sarath Amunugama who was in charge
of this ministry under the previous government at the latter part
of the PA regime, had printed four million hand bills with the
photos of himself, President Kumaratunga and former Minister Anura
Priyadharshana Yapa in full colour, utilising Education Ministry
Education Ministry officials told The Sunday Leader that
more than the required number of text books have been printed and
added that this may have been done in order to give the printer a
According to the officials, the excess of around 600,000
books are worth over Rs. 100 million.
Officials also said that computers worth nearly Rs. 4
million have also been purchased but now they are not being used.
They also said there are no documents or inventory regarding the
purchase of these computers
Meanwhile, Education Minister Kodituwakku vowed to take
action against the persons responsible for this scandal.
The minister said the ministry pays nearly a million as
rent to three warehouses and added when money is wasted on
printing as well, it becomes a national crime.
He said some of the books found in the warehouses could
be used while others cannot be. He said most of the books have
gone waste because of the leaking roofs in the warehouses.
"The leaks in the roof has destroyed most of the books,"
The minister has called for an immediate investigation in
125,000 Muslims in the
north forcibly evicted - FNM
The Forum for Northern Muslims (FNM) has said that at
least 125,000 Muslims have been forcibly evicted from their homes
from the north since 1990.
The FNM in a letter addressed to Western Province
Development Minister, M. H. Mohomed has said though the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has extended an invitation for the
Muslims to return, only a small number of Muslim refugees have
The FNM General Secretary M. Jamaludeen says that after
the LTTE and the government signed the ceasefire agreement only a
few Muslims have returned. These Muslims he said are from Jaffna,
Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi.
He said the estimated value of their property and other
valuables they had to leave behind amounts to more than Rs. 10
In his letter, he has stated that these refugees have
been living in refugee camps situated in areas stretching from
Panadura to Puttalam for the past 12 years, adding that they are
now under sub-humane conditions in abject poverty and misery.
"They hope to return to their homes in the north
with the help of the government and NGOs. However, they also want
to be given the assurance that they will be compensated for the
property, machinery and land they had to give up when they were
forced to leave their homes," Jamaludeen has said in his
In his statement he further states, "since the
Muslim refugees are a very small minority, their aspirations are
likely to be dismissed or denied in constitutional re-arrangements
soon to be enacted to comply with the aspirations of the majority
community in the Northern Province."
Some Muslim refugees he said have already returned to
their homeland, adding that in Mannar more than 20% have returned,
and in Vavuniya more than 30% have returned. He added that in
other places, there had been no significant number returning.
"However it is estimated that more than 90% want to
return to their homes in the north. Their main concern is getting
compensation for all what they have lost during the war,"
Jamaludeen has stated in his letter to the minister.
COPE calls for more
details of Japanese company
The Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) which is not
satisfied with the Auditor General's Department's report regarding
a Japanese company contracted to do the Matara-Colombo highway,
has requested the Japanese government for more details regarding
Earlier, the Japanese company Kumagai Gumi was considered
financially unfit to undertake the project. Subsequently, the
Auditor General's Department was requested to send a report to
COPE regarding this.
Last week, when COPE received the report from the Auditor
General's Department, the committee decided that the report
submitted by the department was not satisfactory and therefore it
was decided that direct
information regarding the company be sought from the Japanese
government, before giving the green light to the contract to go
ahead with the highway project, highly placed sources said.
programme for private bus drivers and conductors on behaviour
The Private Bus Operators' Association (PBOA) is
conducting an extensive training programme to educate all drivers
and conductors on their behaviour and conduct during their journey
with passengers, President, PBOA, Gemunu Wijeratne said.
He said the training is a sequel to a series of bus
accidents that have been reported in the media during the recent
He told The Sunday Leader that his association is
seriously concerned about the pain caused to the civilians.
He also said that he had received numerous complaints
about the conduct of both the bus drivers and the conductors from
many travellers and added that proper training will be given to
them in order to ensure that there would be no recurrence of this
"We have plans to upgrade our drivers and conductors
to the level of international standards. We admit that our drivers
and conductors are not properly trained to handle the public. This
is why we decided to do this," he said.
WB to fund project to
rehabilitate schools in the north-east
The Education Ministry is to utilise unused World Bank
(WB) funds to rehabilitate schools in the north-east and schools
in the south that need assistance, Education Minister, Dr.
Karunasena Kodituwakku said.
The minister who undertook a visit to the north with WB
officials recently told The Sunday Leader that the WB officials
were deeply concerned about the conditions in which the students
of the north were carrying out their studies.
The minister said his ministry plans to utilise the
left-over monies from the WB projects that could be used to uplift
the standards of these schools. He said the left-over money from
the WB projects that is available at present is around 15 million
He said the WB officials who accompanied him were
convinced that the students of Jaffna and especially
Chavakachcheri were in dire need. He also said the officials were
shocked to see how the students, though with less facilities were
eager to continue their studies.
"The officials and even we were touched when we saw
classes being conducted under trees. This was a pathetic scene.
This is why I took the officials and went to Jaffna so that we
could get first hand information rather than getting information
from the second or third person," he said.
He also said during his visit he witnessed the suffering
of the students. "These students had to walk miles to attend
schools. Earlier, they could not find time to do even their
homework due to the war. But we were delighted to see their desire
to learn in order to come up in society. In fact the WB officials
were surprised," he said.
He also said that he has identified four priority areas
to develop schools in the island. First he said would be to
accelerate English education. Increasing the knowledge of
information technology, to create institutes to promote talented
students and also to rehabilitate schools are also on the agenda,
building purchased by former VC
By Risidra Mendis
Mystery surrounds the purchase of a building by the
former vice chancellor of Sri Jayewardenepura University, who
claims that nearly 700 students from the university could be
While the former VC, Professor Jagath Wickremasinghe
claims that there are 250 students living in this building that
was purchased at a cost of Rs. 50 million, the present Vice
Chancellor Professor Tissa Kariyawasam says the building is a
ghost building without anyone.
The controversial building was allegedly purchased during
the time of the former vice chancellor for Rs. 50 million but The
Sunday Leader now learns that the present administration is
planning to disown the building, saying a sum of Rs. 70 million is
needed to renovate the building.
The building in question is situated at Kohuwela and was
declared open by the former vice chancellor last March. The Sunday
Leader learns that the former VC got cabinet approval to purchase
Meanwhile the university registrar, D.P.Athulathmudali
told The Sunday Leader that at present no student is living in
this building but added the administration might house some
students within three months after renovating the building.
Certificates to the
doorstep of refugees
By Shezna Shums
Plans are afoot to deliver certificates of births, deaths
and marriages to the door step of the Sri Lankan
refugees now languishing in camps in South India,
Rehabilitation Minister Dr Jayalath Jayawardena said.
The minister who returned from a recent visit to India
last week, told The Sunday leader he plans to make a booklet with
detailed instructions on how these people have to go about in
getting their documents from the central government of India.
The minster had talks with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Jayalalitha Jeyaram, requesting her to look into the matter and
make recommendations on how this process can be expedited.
The minister was accompanied by two officials from the
Immigration and Emigration department and the Registrar General's
Department, to see for themselves what the Sri Lankan refugees go
through to get their documents.
The minister has also requested them to make periodic
visits in order to make improvements.
Dr. Jayawardena visited two camps in the Vellur District
which held more than 500 families.
He noted that almost all of them had the desire to return
to Sri Lanka.
The minister told them they will be brought down as
respectable people, adding that
they should wait till the time is right and not to take any
illegal ways of coming down as it is too risky.
There are 111 camps with more than 66,000 refugees living
in these camps in India alone. The minister said he was satisfied
to see the conditions in which the Sri Lankan refugees were living
in the two camps and said the Indian officials were very helpful,
offering free education to the children in these camps.
He also said many of them were studying in the English
medium and some also received university education.
He said 10 Sri Lankans there received places in the
medical faculty and in the engineering faculty while more than 100
of them have entered other faculties. The minister also noted that
he had spoken to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister regarding the huge
fine the Sri Lankans might have to pay if they had overstayed. He
said he had personally requested the chief minister to reduce the
amount that they had to pay.
"These refugees also have to go through a lot of red
tape if they were to get travel documents from the central
government. I made a request to the central government to look
into this matter and as soon as possible make recommendations to
help these people get their documents without delay," he
said. This was the first time a minister had visited refugee camps
in India after they were set up in 1983.
No privatisation - UGC chairman
By Shezna Shums
University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Professor
B.R.N Mendis Friday (5) scotched rumours that the government has
plans to privatise national universities in Sri Lanka.
He also said there was no truth in what the university
students were saying regarding privatisation, which he said, is
not even in the agenda of the government.
He ruled out that no university in Sri Lanka would be
subject to privatisation even in the future.
Referring to the vociferous protest the students of
universities made last Thursday in Colombo, Prof. Mendis told The
Sunday Leader that the protest was politically motivated and that
the students had a different political agenda.
He said when the president of the Inter University
Students Federation spoke to Higher Education Minister Kabir
Hashim over the telephone on Thursday morning, the minister
responded well with all relevant information. And therefore Prof.
Mendis was of the view that the protest held by the students was
He told The Sunday Leader that though the students took
to the streets protesting against the lack of funds, the
university administration never found this a problem.
Prof. Mendis said he was satisfied in the manner in which
the universities have been running despite various financial and
He said when the students, the academics and the non
academics met on Thursday morning to discuss the doubts raised by
the students, a memorandum of understanding was also signed. He
added that having signed this memorandum, he could not find a
reason as to why the students undertook the protest.
The Finance Ministry last week agreed to provide an
additional allocation of Rs.217 million identified as the
shortfall for urgent requirements for 13 universities in Sri
Treasury Secretary Charitha Ratwatte and Director
General, Department of National Budget, S.A.Abeysinghe in a letter
jointly addressed to the Secretary, Ministry of Tertiary Education
and Training have said that action has been taken to release
adequate funds this month to clear all outstanding liabilities as
The UGC chairman reiterated that even with the shortage,
the universities could manage the day to day affairs without a
Paul Harris Award to
Rotary Club of Colombo South presented the Paul Harris
Awards to the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka John Westborg,
Economic Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda and Treasury Secretary
Charitha Ratwatte, at a ceremony that took place to install the
25th president of the club, P.Thayaparan.
At this event the club member Pathmanathan also took
office as the District Governor for Sri Lanka. The senior-most
past district governor in Sri Lanka Muni Kundanmal presented the
Paul Harris Award is given by Rotary International
through its foundation in the name of the founder of Rotary, Paul
The Norwegian Ambassador was awarded in recognition of
the untiring efforts made by him and his country in initiating a
process aimed at bringing a solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka.
Minister Milinda Moragoda was awarded for his efforts to
bring about a change in the culture of politics in Sri Lanka
through conducting an election campaign completely in accord with
the laws of Sri Lanka, while Ratwatte was awarded for his services
to the youth of Sri Lanka.