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The Maha Sanga invoked blessings on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during his visit to Japan. Also in the picture are Maithree Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister's Secretary, Bradman Weerakoon


Rs. 40m fraud charge against Pramuka directors

By Frederica Jansz  

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Thursday (5) filed a 'B' report at the Maligakanda Courts following an investigation into malpractices and fraud allegedly committed by the chairman and Directors of Pramuka Savings and Development Bank.

The complainant in this case is the Central Bank. The report was filed on the advice of Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabeyson. Pramuka Bank Chairman and President, Rohan Perera, together with Directors Udaya Nanayakkara, Camillus Perera, Lasanga Jinadasa, J. A. D. Lanerolle, Dr. C. W. P. Canagaratna, A. H. A. Mendis and Lucien Fernando have been served notice to appear in court on December 11.

The CID began investigations on certain banking operations of Pramuka Bank following a complaint made by the Central Bank.

Director, CID, Lionel Goonetilleke said the 'B' report was submitted to court after an investigation by the CID found that the Pramuka Bank directors have engaged in a fraudulent transaction involving a property at Gregory's Road, Colombo 7 for a sum of Rs. 40 million. Goonetilleke added that the CID probe also found evidence that the president and directors of Pramuka Bank have acted in violation of Central Bank regulations as well as committed criminal offences in contravention of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, Rohan Perera last week nominated businessman Udaya Nanayakkara to the post of chairman, Pramuka Bank. Perera, however remains as chief executive officer and president of the bank. The Sunday Leader last week highlighted how Rohan Perera returned approximately Rs. 37.9 million to Chairman, Golden Mile Hotel, Vasantha Jayasuriya for 3.6 million shares which had been issued to Jayasuriya in exchange for land. A property at Gregory's Road, which belonged to Pramuka Merchant Corporation, Rohan Perera ordered Pramuka Bank to "purchase" for a sum of Rs. 41 million.

Declaring a profit out of this 'sale,' Perera used a sum in excess of Rs. 15 million to pay part of the monies he owed Vasantha Jayasuriya for his 3.6 million shares through Pramuka Merchant Corporation. The monies for this 'sale' was taken out of the capital funds of Pramuka Bank and projected to the Central Bank as an investment on property at Gregory's Road, Colombo 7.

A statutory examination report by the Central Bank states that this transaction was enacted despite Pramuka Bank having been barred in 1999 from purchasing any more property.


Doubts over Dr. J.J.'s spending

Amidst speculation that Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena is using Ministry funds to sponsor a live Christmas programme from Rome at a cost of Rs. 1.8 million, the Minister claims the monies are to be paid out of his own personal savings. 

Jayawardena will pay for a special TV crew with a producer from Swarnavahini to fly to Rome and televise the special seasonal event.

Jayawardena has previously requested Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to appoint him as Christian affairs minister.  The Premier however, handed over the portfolio to Interior Minister John Amaratunga.


Some things remain the same

PUBLIC transport in the once war torn north is still a rickety affair, despite the resounding strides made in making peace among the warring parties.

Old British cars navigate the pot-hole ridden highways and the bicycle is the dominant mode of transport even in government controlled Jaffna. Early morning, swarms of bicycles inundate the Jaffna streets. Those riding them care next to nothing about traffic regulations much to the annoyance of drivers from outside. In LTTE controlled regions, it is far worse. A public transport system is more or less non existent and civilians hitch a ride on whatever that is going their way.

The railway line all of a sudden disappears into an army camp just out of Vavuniya town and those who have the luxury of drivable vehicles are those who come to the region from outside. They are mostly those attached to the NGOs working in the region.

The NGOs have some nice four wheel machinery and so do the officials attached to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). But circumstances can be demanding and sometimes they too have to bite the dust. Like what happened to the two SLMC officials who had to circumvent the 7 km long Delft island on push cycles in the hot sun.

The two former warring factions however are well off - pretty well off compared to the lot of civilians around them.

Most of the senior LTTE cadres have motorcycles at their disposal and those at leadership level use luxury four wheel drive vehicles at times. Same goes for the army and both parties have access to the sea and one party namely the government side has an airforce at its disposal.

Despite a year of peace, some things still remain the same.


Water resources development project initiated

By Risidra Mendis  

YOU can live without food for a few days, but survival without a drop of water for just 24 hours can be fatal. A country with a rapidly growing population, it is only a matter of time before Sri Lanka's supply of water for domestic purposes runs out.

For farmers and cultivators, their harvest depends on the uninterrupted supply of water. But water that is needed for basic living could one day become a costly affair if proper management programmes are not implemented soon.

According to officials from the Irrigation Ministry, the largest portion of water amounting to 85% is utilised for irrigation purposes, with 6% used for domestic purposes and 9% for other needs.

 But water needs to be conserved, since it needs to be provided for such resources and to the increasing numbers who demand it. "However, despite the importance of water, it was only recently that a ministry was established for water management," an Irrigation Ministry official said.

With the intention of drawing up an organised plan in preparation for future disasters, the Water Management Ministry has come-up with new concepts of water resource development and management. The programmes for 2003 among others include the issue of sand and clay mining in rivers, especially in the badly affected Deduru Oya and Maha Oya areas.

The new water resources development projects that will be designed are formulated to address the growing demand in agriculture and urban development, domestic, industry, recreation and environment areas. The Menik Ganga basin development project, the Moragahakanda reservoir project, Deduru Oya reservoir project, Yan Oya project, Rambukkana reservoir project, Ratnapura reservoir project, Ridi Maliyadde poverty alleviation project in Mahaweli system 'C' and the Mahaweli system 'B' right bank integrated project among others are being formulated.

After the establishment of the National Water Heritage Foundation (NWHF), Irrigation and Water Management Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera has initiated programmes to co-ordinate matters pertaining to the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, Agriculture and Livestock Development Ministry, Power and Energy Ministry, Education and Culture Ministry and the Industrial Development Ministry among others.

According to Irrigation Department officials, the purpose of establishing the NWHF is to build and reinforce a social mechanism for researching, conserving and sharing information and experience of the ancient water heritage, including the conservation of water and soil, ecological systems and the agricultural heritage that has passed through generations.

 "We intend promoting the development and management of the conservation of water and soil, the agricultural heritage and ecological systems on a community based participatory approach involving user, planner and policy maker at all levels," the irrigation officials said.

As a part of the programme, water from the Mahaweli river has been diverted to Kala Oya, Malwathu Oya (rivers that flow westwards into the Indian Ocean) and to the Maduru Oya and Yan Oya (rivers that flow eastwards to the Bay of Bengal).

 "A series of planning and management activities have already been initiated for a Southern Sri Lanka River Basin Zone in association with Kumbukkan Oya, Menik Ganga, Uma Oya, and Kalu Ganga as well," officials from the Irrigation Ministry said.

It is interesting to note that Sri Lanka exhibits extensive areas of water deficit, with a greater part of the island liable to dry spells that last several months. Areas of water surplus along the coastal belt of flood plains, villus and mangrove swamps are also visible.

Of the 103 water sheds in the country, the Mahaweli basin covers about 16% of the island's land area. It also carries the largest volume of discharge amounting to a seventh of the island's run off, with the 325 km Mahaweli river being the only perennial river traversing the northern dry zone.

Unlike in the past when the water was clean, today, the waste products from factories are diverted to lakes and streams thereby causing damage. "Due to the emptying of pollutants to the Kelani river, the second largest river in the country, the threat of the Ambatale reservoir getting polluted is a possibility," an official of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said.

Known as the 'Pavithra Ganga Programme,' this plan by the Environment Ministry aims at educating school children on the value of water, while obtaining the support of the public to keep the water in their areas free from pollutants and wastage.

In keeping with the newly introduced programmes for water conservation in the country, the co-ordination of many ministries will hopefully find a solution to the growing threat of water pollution and scarcity.


Parents of injured students demand justice

By Shezna Shums

HARINDA Indika Attanayake, the second Sri Jayewardenepura University student who was critically injured during the clashes between pro-raggers and anti-raggers at the university, still cannot remember the entire attack or even the day of the incident. Whatever he knows about the attack is what he heard from his friends, family or read in the newspapers. Speaking to The Sunday Leader Indika said that not even animals are beaten this way.

"From my very first year at university, I was against ragging. The pro-raggers knew this and they were angry with me about my views. This is the sole reason for the attack," states Indika.

"My friends and I didn't take part in any of the university's protests and picketing campaigns. We didn't even take part in the protests against the privatisation of universities."

This is another reason why they were angry with Indika and this attack was well planned. They had made wooden poles and hammered nails into them to attack. According to what he has gathered from his friends, they had hit him on the head till he bled, almost to death.

"There is a Ragging Act, but it is not practiced and no one even knows what it states, he said, adding that even lecturers are scared of the pro-raggers  I can't talk a lot now. I get weak and I cannot remember that whole day and a few instances of the previous day," he said.

Afraid to go back

"We don't mind having unions at the university if they are good ones," said Indika. After what happened, Indika is afraid to go back to the university.  I am a little scared to go back to university to finish my final year," he said.

Indika's final marketing management exam will be in June next year and he doesn't know if he will be able to sit for it.

Karuna Attanayake, Indika's mother was sobbing when she spoke to The Sunday Leader about this whole incident and especially the attack on her son.

"We never thought anything like this will ever happen to our son when he started university," she said. 

"We knew that he was against ragging when he first joined and he didn't get ragged because he and some of his friends were strong in their views, many of the pro-raggers didn't like them for this reason."

"He cannot remember what happened that day. When he was in hospital, he heard of Samantha's death and the funeral from the radio," she said.

However, the next day, he had forgotten about Samantha's death and asked whose funeral it was his friends went to.

In the hospital when he regained consciousness, he recognised his parents, but didn't know what happened to him and why he was in hospital.

His parents, Karuna and Athula Attanayake along with his elder brother Dimuthu came to the Colombo National Hospital from their home in Kandy.

Indika's friends were with him when he was in hospital and brought his parents to him.

During the first few days Indika was in hospital, he was in a serious condition. His head was swollen and suffered from internal bleeding. Doctors had to operate on him immediately to save his life.

His parents said that they were lucky to get a lot of assistance and support from the people they work with and while they were in Colombo they stayed at a relatives's place. "He was red all over the body and now he has blue and black patches in his body," said his mother.

However, day-by-day he became better. "It was because of all the doctors and our prayers that Indika became better and recovered gradually," said his mother.

For the next two years, Indika has to undergo medication apart from the vitamins he has to take.

At the moment, his parents buy the medicine from a private pharmacy, as there is a strike by government hospital paramedics. Otherwise, his parents will have to travel to Colombo every month to get Indika's medicine from the Colombo National Hospital.  

"I am scared for my son, this is his final year and his final exam is in June. We don't know if he will be able to sit for it and we really don't know what the future holds for our son," she lamented. 

"Since we are in Kandy, it will be worse for us when he goes back to university. If something happens, it is not like we can be there soon," she said. 

"The students who were involved in this attack should be punished," both Indika and his mother said, adding, "previously no one has ever been punished, this is why attacks like this keep happening. The pro-raggers are not scared."

Not for revenge  

"We want punishment for the wrongdoers, not for revenge, but the victims are our children and we want them to be safe. Things like this will keep happening if they are not punished for the crimes they have committed. Otherwise these same students will not be afraid to carry out another attack like this," Indika's mother warned.

Indika's elder sister Thushani, studied at Peradeniya University and his elder brother Dimuthu at Moratuwa University. Indika is the third in his family and he is not a Mahapola scholarship holder. Therefore, his parents have to pay for his education and he doesn't deserve to get beaten like this. Indika has two younger siblings - Sampath studying for his A/Ls and Sandhika in grade nine.

Indika's mother is a primary school teacher, but is a graduate from the Peradeniya University and Indika's father is a clerk, but a graduate from the Kelaniya University His mother stated, 

"Our children are brought up well and they went to good schools. They are studying to come up in life - this is what any parent would want for their children. Whatever we do, we do for our children. We go to work and earn money and every thing we do is for them. Our lives are our children and how can another student do this to a fellow student? I am scared for my younger children, especially when it is time for them to go to university," she said.

Indika's mother couldn't stop stressing the importance of punishing the wrongdoers.

"Only then will parents feel that it is safe to send their children to Sri Lankan universities and t will also make these wrongdoers realise that they cannot get away from what they have done or will do," she said.

So far, out of the 44 suspects in police custody, 16 persons have been identified as being involved in the attacks at the Sri Jayewardenepura University.


PM outlines plans to strengthen legislature

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed the Speaker of the Japanese Parliament, Tamisuke Watanuki that he is negotiating with Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse and other political parties in order to strengthen the country's  legislature.

The Prime Minister said he wants to reactivate and strengthen the system of committees and provide an opportunity for all members of parliament to contribute actively to those committees.

Discussions between the Prime Minister and Watanuki were held at the official residence of the Speaker on December 4 morning.

As the committee system plays an active and strong role in the  Japanese parliament, Premier Wickremesinghe said the Lankan government wishes to send a delegation of MPs to study the Japanese system.

Watanuki said that not only economic co-operation between the two countries, but also relations between members of the two parliaments should be strengthened.

He said although Sri Lanka, a country rich with a beautiful cultural heritage was in gloom with perils of war in the recent past, the country has re-entered the path of peace under the leadership of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. Watanuki expressed satisfaction at this new development.

"Although the journey towards peace is an arduous one, may Sri Lanka have the strength and courage to complete the journey successfully and bring peace and reconstruct the devastated country into its previous glory," Watanuki said.

Watanuki pledged the fullest support of the Japanese parliament to Sri Lanka's peace process.

Prime Minister's Secretary, Bradman Weerakoon, Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Japan, Karunatilake Amunugama and Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister, Saman Athaudahetti were also present.


PA to pressurise govt.

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti   

The  People's Alliance (PA) intends pressuring the government to urge the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to disband their suicide cadres as a demonstration of its commitment to a negotiated peace.

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse said that despite the PA's  stance on the ongoing peace process and the possible outcome of it, the government has demonstrated good will and shown its commitment to the peace process.

"In fact it has sometimes subjugated itself to LTTE pressure. In the name of democracy, it is timely that the LTTE also demonstrated their faith and commitment to the process by disbanding their suicide cadres."

The matter will be pursued when the Defence Ministry votes are taken up for debate in parliament tomorrow.

The PA that has been critical of the ongoing peace process and piled criticism on alleged continuation of violence by the LTTE, is of the view that the LTTE is reluctant to commence decommissioning and says that at least it should make some symbolic gesture by disbanding the hooded suicide cadres.

"If they are no longer going to wage war, then they do not need the suicide cadres," said Rajapakse.

In the recent past, JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa and MEP Leader Dinensh Gunawardena have been urging parliament that there should be some symbolic commitment demonstrated by the laying down of arms by the LTTE.


CBK's funds not disclosed

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

The public accounts of the President's Fund have not been disclosed to parliament from 1994 to 1999, government sources said.

As the institution charged with the total control of public finance, financial regulations require that institutions dealing with public funds present a report at the end of a financial year to parliament through the relevant minister or the minister of finance.

The last financial report on the President's Fund has been presented in 1993.

The President's Fund generally allocates funds for contingencies, charitable causes and for reasons that the President may deem fit. 

The failure to present the reports for many years was raised in parliament recently with government legislators demanding to know why the information has not been made available and that they wished to know how the President has utilised public funds over the past six years.

Authoritative sources said that six auditor general's reports will be presented tomorrow in parliament by the minister of finance.

However, the source said that the reports lacked compressive details as to how the money has been spent and is expected to give broad headings under which the money has been utilised.


Mahinda directs commissioner to probe Sanken Lanka issue

by Wilson Gnanadass

Labour Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe last week directed Labour Commissioner Mahinda Madihewe to probe into the removal of nearly 64 workers by the management of Sanken Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.

Some of these workers have served the company for over 14 years and have been working in the supply division of the company.

Employees of the company told The Sunday Leader that all 64 of them had been asked to leave without the company giving them any compensation or prior notice. These workers also charged they were not granted ETF and EPF facilities.

Meanwhile the minister said any company violating the law of the land would be dealt with severely and added whether the employees were permanent or temporary, they should have been paid EPF and ETF.

The problem at Sanken Lanka was sparked off when two employees reported about the non payment of EPF and ETF by the management to the Labour Commissioner. Once the management learnt about this, it sacked both employees.

This followed the rest of the workforce walking out demanding that the two employees be taken back. Angered by this action, the management had told the entire workforce attached to the supply division that they are interdicted.

The employees who are on strike told The Sunday Leader that repeated appeals made to the labour commissioner have gone unheeded.

When The Sunday Leader contacted the Sanken Lanka Chief Administrative Officer, Lal Tennakoon he said "These 64 workers are not in the company cadre and if they have any problems they should go to their employer."

These workers are supplied to the company by contractors and also said that there is no truth in the claim by the workers that the company is going to close down saying "definitely the company is not going to close down.

Meanwhile the labour commissioner said this is a rift between the sub contractors and the main contractors and steps are being taken to get these workers to start work in another work site.

"We are also holding discussions with both contractors and trying to come up with a solution for this problem," the commissioner said.


New series - "Meet The Minister"

The Sunday Leader will commence a new series where the public will be called upon to direct issues concerning them to the relevant ministers through the columns of this newspaper.

Given the public focus on issues linked to defence and transport at this time, we have decided to submit your queries to Defence and Transport Minister, Tilak Marapone  for his responses.

The Sunday Leader invites all your queries to be forwarded to Minister  Marapone to reach us by December 15, 2002.

Queries should be directed to;

Meet The Minister,

C/O The Sunday Leader, First Floor,  Colombo Commercial

Company Building, 121, Sir James Peiris Mawatha, Colombo 2.


190 years

The Ceylon Bible Society (CBS) celebrates 190 years of ministry in Sri Lanka. The society was established in 1812. The CBS is an inter denominational organisation involved in the translation, publication and distribution of scriptures islandwide.


Hakeem to educate supporters of his position

Ports Minister and Leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Rauf Hakeem has undertaken an extensive tour of the east to educate the Muslims regarding his position, after his own party men attempted to oust him in a coup attempt.

The Minister left for Mutur Friday morning and initially participated in the Ramazan celebrations with the Muslims of the area. He also visited Thopur later in the afternoon.

He is expected to visit Trincomalee, Ampara, Digamadulla and Jaffna in order to personally present himself before the Muslims and clear his position.

PSD protection for dissidents

The Sri Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) dissidents, The Sunday Leader learns are being given Presidential Security Division (PSD) protection.

Highly placed government sources said that since the coup attempt was made on SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem, the dissidents have been afforded this facility.


SriLankan launches email booking facility

SriLankan Airlines has launched an email booking facility for its customers in Hong Kong and Singapore and enhanced these facilities for customers in Sri Lanka.

A few months ago SriLankan Airlines launched its email booking facility in Sri Lanka where customers in any part of the world could request flight bookings through the internet at any time of the day or night for any flight on SriLankan Airlines out of Colombo except to India. New customers can even book flights to India from Colombo.

The email booking section can be accessed from the home page or directly from the travel planner section of the airline's website; www.srilankan.lk., a release from SriLankan said.


Sale to raise funds

A sale to raise funds towards enhancing the Denipitiya Medical Mission will be held at the Jubilee Hall (YWCA) at Union Place Colombo 2 on December 11 and 12.The Denipitiya Medical Mission was established in 1918 and is the only Anglican medical mission in Sri Lanka.


Unfair demand for a room at CMC  

by Wilson Gnanadass

The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is facing a crisis with the Opposition Leader, Milton Liyanage demanding a room for himself, which senior councilors say has never been done in the 135 year  history of the CMC.

The claim for a separate room for the the opposition leader  in the CMC was made by former opposition leader K. Ganeshalingam. Though he made this request, then mayor Karu Jayasuriya refused to adhere to this demand on the basis it was not in keeping with the traditions of the council.

Meanwhile The Sunday Leader reliably learns that CMC Commissioner, Dr. Jayantha Liyanage is planning to offer the opposition leader a  room that is now vacant following the retirement of the deputy commissioner.

Senior councilors charged that the appointment of Dr. Liyanage to the post of commissioner was also unfair, as he was not the most senior officer to deserve this position. According to informed sources the former mayor Omar Kameel had suggested in writing that the post of commissioner be given to either Fowmy Ismail or Vass Gunewardene. "But Dr. Liyanage was appointed after the council was pressured to do so by some ministers," he claimed.


Nearly 200,000 vacancies available
Malaysian jobs for Lankans

Sri Lanka has been chosen as  one of the few countries within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to enter into an agreement with Malaysia for Sri Lankans to find jobs, Labour Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

According to the Minister this rare opportunity is granted only to Sri Lankans to be employed in the industrial zones in Malaysia.

The Minister  had discussions recently with his Malaysian counterpart over job opportunities for Sri Lankans there.

He said there are nearly 200,000 vacancies in Malaysia as a result of Indonesians and Philippinos overstaying their visas and them being deported by the Malaysian government. Such migrant workers according to the Minister have also engaged themselves in anti- social activities thereby forcing the government of Malaysia to deport  them. "This has created a huge void in their man power resources and we have got a chance to fill it," Samarasinghe told The Sunday Leader.

"So these vacancies are now open for the chosen seven  countries and one of those countries Malaysia has signed an agreement with is Sri Lanka.  Now we are going into a lot of new job markets," the Minister said. He further said that he is confident of the possibility of  attracting offers from European job markets as well.

Two weeks ago, a  delegation from the Norwegian Chambers of Industry and Commerce  met the Minister in parliament with the acting ambassador of Norway and discussed the possibility of sending Sri Lankans as industrial trainees based on the demand of the Norwegian industries  outside their labour force.

The delegation that met the Minister had also agreed to offer this opportunity to Sri Lankans who are currently unemployed.

Sri Lankans if selected to work in Norway would also be given the opportunity to live with Norwegians under a programme called "Home Stay." Such Sri Lankans  would be given the chance to live with a selected group of Norwegians and work.

"And they get paid. So lot of countries such as the  Philippines  is taking advantage of this system. It is another area we are looking at. So I am hopeful that we could send people to Norway legally," the Minister said.

"I also suggested to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is  in Japan to find out whether the Japanese government could give us a quota in industrial training. We have been sending Sri Lankans to Japan but only in  small numbers  and we want to increase it if possible," he said.

The Minister who said that finding foreign job markets for  Sri Lanka's unemployed would help  lessen the unemployment problem,  further said that South Korea has increased its quota by two fold. "This is very important because when one goes as an industrial trainee he is given  on-the-job training. When Sri Lankans are provided with basic training in these countries, they would be able to come back and contribute to the Sri Lankan economy," he said.

He said the government has also plans to talk to the Shengan countries to find more opportunities. He said, as Italy is part of the Shengan Treaty it would be possible for Sri Lanka to send Lankans legally to these countries. " I think we can make a breakthrough into job markets in other Shengan countries in Europe," he said.

"We are also sending a delegation to certain Central Asian countries to explore the possibility of finding job markets there. Lot of these countries are on an accelerated economic growth. Lot of them have discovered oil and natural gas and they are rich in their resources. So there are a lot of openings for jobs. The population there is small and not skilled in certain areas and these are areas where Sri Lankans could capitalise on," the Labour Minister said.


Govt. seeks private sector participation following para-medics strike

The government is seeking private sector cooperation to fulfil the services hitherto rendered by the para medics who are at present on strike.

An estimated 2000 paramedics islandwide are on strike demanding  a salary hike. Their demand is for a similar salary increase as that of the nurses.

The Sunday Leader learns that the government nurses received three increments while the paramedics got only one, which they say is unfair.

Para medics are involved in carrying out certain activities of the hospitals like blood tests, urine tests, x-rays, CT scanning, ECG tests, physiotherapy activities and a host of other related activities.

Hospital  sources said  that  a  para- medic could easily earn more than Rs. 40,000  monthly with  overtime work as they are paid a big sum of money specially for night shifts. "So we don't consider their demand to be reasonable.  Also nurses are trained for three years while paramedics are trained only for a year," hospital sources said.

Meanwhile  Director, Private Health Sector Development, Health  Ministry, Dr. Harsha de Silva told The Sunday Leader he is already negotiating with some private sector institutions to take over the jobs that the paramedics have been carrying out all these years. "It is certainly cost effective and we could expect a speedy and an efficient service through  the private sector," he pointed out.

He said already the state health sector has obtained from the private sector the security services and also  cleaning services and added, the governemnt could easily hire the services of private sector paramedics.

However the ongoing strike by paramedic staff has affected all government hospitals around the country.

According to the Assistant Director - Trade Union Coordination, Health Ministry, Priyantha Kumara the paramedic staff are still continuing their strike against the Junaid Commission, which has recommended  that they should not be paid more than the nurses.

Kumara says this Commission has only made its submissions to the cabinet but has not received cabinet ratification  and  added though  the para medics were going on strike they did not have any knowledge as to what was contained in the commission report.

When The Sunday leader spoke to the Director, National Hospital Colombo , Dr.  Hector Weerasinghe he said that the strike is still continuing and that the hospital has made arrangements for the patients, who  need blood tests, x rays and other tests to have them done at private clinics and that the hospital will pay for these tests.

Admissions to the hospital have not been stopped and the hospital is doing all it could to ease the suffering of the patients, he added.

"We do encounter a lot of problems but we are still running the hospital to ensure patients are not put into inconvenience," Dr. Weerasinghe told The Sunday Leader.

"Medicines  are given to the people through the Osu Sala branch  near the hospital and the bills will be paid by the hospital.

There is nothing the hospital can do about this problem because this is between the paramedic staff and the Ministry officials," he added.


Unregistered drugs available in Sri Lanka

By Risidra Mendis

Wide circulation of unregistered drugs in the local market has now become a cause for concern, and the National Drugs  Authority says it plans to get tough on errant sellers.

Drugs such as Risperidone, Clomid and Bivalak spray, among others are prescribed by doctors even though they haven't got the required registration. While pharmacies and other drug selling outlets continue to import such drugs and sell them in the open market the relevant authorities are yet to file action against the culprits.

According to prominent pharmacists these drugs are prescribed by doctors as they are cheaper than some of the currently registered ones in the market. With the opening of a new Indian hospital in Colombo the prescribing of unregistered drugs has increased further," these pharmacists claimed.

Even though these drugs are equivalent to the original brand, these pharmacists feel that such drugs should not be prescribed under unregistered names.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader a top official from the State Pharmaceutical Corporation said he is aware of such drugs being sold in the market. However he said the reason for them to be sold,  is due to the lack of proper  organisation in the drugs registration office, where approval of a type of drug for registration takes one to two years.

"When a patient needs a drug he or she cannot wait for a year to be treated. Therefore the only solution is to purchase unregistered drugs prescribed by doctors.

"Even though prescribing unregistered drugs and the purchase of such drugs is an offence punishable with  a jail sentence, many patients continue to use them as they have no other alternative," the official said.

Meanwhile a senior medical officer said that he was aware of unregistered drugs being sold in the market. However he said continuous monitoring needs to be done as even small shops tend to sell these drugs.

"I have sent food inspectors to each province and region and found that unregistered drugs are sold regularly. We have to educate the public on the dangerous usage of such drugs and in return get public support to make sure these drugs are not sold in the market," the medical officer said.


Sharp rise in human smuggling

By Shezna Shums

A new latest study conducted by marine police reveal a sharp increase in human smuggling from Sri Lanka.

Marine Police OIC, M.  Angunawala says that  most of the local human smuggling rings - some of them underworld figures- are heavily linked with international underworld activists as well.

The most popular place these people go to is the Mediterranean region where they can cross borders and seas to European countries, he pointed out.

"The route is a popular one among Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Indians. They cross the Red Sea to get to other foreign destinations,"  marine police sources said.

However of the numbers that try to resort to entering another country by illegal means, many of them die on their way, either owing to starvation or hypothermia,  Angunawala said.

"What many of these human smugglers  do is to buy a boat for about Rs. 400, 000.  If  they have around 150 people they will charge each of them about Rs. 550, 000 for the journey. The trip would take around 22 days  after  leaving Sri Lanka. The food is usually stored in the upper decks of these boats.  According to our findings  most of the time these illegal immigrants are only given one meal a  day or  just biscuits to eat and many people have died owing to starvation. When the trawler reaches its destination, the crew in charge then instruct  the passengers  to jump from the ship and swim  to the closest shore,  for survival," he said.

He said the crew then destroys the ship by damaging the bottom part of it  and they either swim to the nearest port to get a flight back to the island or they get into another ship and return to the country.

In the recent detection of illegal immigrants trying to enter Italy, 41 of them had died.  Angunawala says that the SPs for Gampaha and Negombo and the marine police are together carrying out detection of illegal immigrants.

According to the Immigration and  Emigration Department another  popular place these illegal immigrants go to is Australia.

"Every country that detects illegal immigrants faces a major problem of how to deal with them   as there are no laws laid down.

"In Sri Lanka the punishment is maybe one year's imprisonment or a suitable punishment decided by the magistrate concerned," the police officer explained.


A grand-stand pavillion for Moratuwa Stadium

A special project to construct a modern grand-stand pavilion at the Moratuwa International Cricket Stadium to mark the completion of 25 uninterrupted  years as a parliamentarian by Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando will be launched in Moratuwa next Saturday (14).

As part of the celebration, a grand musical fiesta titled 'Tyronne Prashasthi - 25,' will be held at Prince of Wales College Grounds,  Moratuwa  from  6.30   p. m.  to 11.30 p.m. on December 14. The show will see the participation of leading music artistes  in Sri Lanka backed by the band Sakura and the army band.

The project is estimated to cost Rs. 10 million. The major part of the funding is from overseas well-wishers,  Lankan expatriate workers, and from the local private sector, consequent to an appeal made by Minister  Fernando.

Minister Fernando is one of the few politicians who has the rare distinction of organising, representing and holding an electorate continuously for  25  years.


Default of EPF, ETF

The Janatha Estates Development Board (JEDB) and the Sri Lanka State Plantations  Corporation (SLSPC) has defaulted in paying ETF and EPF to its employees. According to officials from the Labour Ministry the amount runs into several millions.

The Sunday Leader learns that the National Labour Advisory Council had informed the labour minister  who in turn has  directed the commissioner of labour to go ahead with prosecution. Labour Ministry officials said this is a violation of the country's law. "We will not allow any company to get away by not paying EPF,  ETF to employees," they said.

MPGA picket

A picketing by the members of the Missing Persons' Guardian Association (MPGA) crippled work  at the Jaffna District Secretariat, the main administrative centre in the Northern Province for the fourth consecutive day, Wednesday.

The MPGA members are demanding  the government expedite the investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of youths after being arrested by the Sri Lankan government troops in Jaffna peninsula in 1996 and 1997.

Secretariat sources said the Government Agent S.Pathmanathan is scheduled to meet the members of the MPGA  to  discuss matters related to the continuance of the picketing. However, the management  of the MGPA said it would continue the picketing campaign until a satisfactory reply is received from the authorities concerned regarding their demand. Amnesty International said in 1997 that as many as 600 people who "disappeared" in the Jaffna peninsula after the Sri Lanka Army moved into the area in 1996, "have died under torture or been deliberately killed."

Anti EPDP campaign continues

The protest campaign by the villagers against the presence of para military members of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) in Nedunthivu (Delft Island) in Jaffna continues. The protesters demand immediate withdrawal of armed EPDP members from their village, sources said.

Delegation off to Vavuniya

The Transport Ministry along with the Private Bus Owners Association will be visiting Vavuniya over the weekend.

The visit, The Sunday Leader learns is a sequel to a number of complaints received from the public and other bus operators based in Vavuniya that the LTTE is trying to introduce a tax system.

The government delegation it is learnt will attempt to sort out this issue by holding discussions with the relevant authorities and the public. The delegation is also expected to meet LTTE officials, The Sunday Leader learns.

Funny treatment

A 30 year old man who was knocked down by a vehicle was given unusual  treatment by a leading private hospital in Colombo.

The victim was initially taken to the Negombo Hospital but owing to the strike carried out by the hospital staff, the patient had to be admitted to a leading private hospital in Colombo.  The patient  was taken into the operating theatre by the surgeons who recommended an immediate operation. He was then anasthasised for the surgery.  But after having sedated the patient the doctors had directed that he be taken back to the ward.

The following day, he was once again taken to the operating theatre and then this time to his utter dismay he was told his leg had to be amputated. The relatives of the victim say the doctors did not tell them about the amputation after careful checking  for almost three days.

The patient whose leg is now amputated is still warded  at a great cost in the hospital.


CBK asked to put her money where her mouth is

Kirthi Sigera Esqr.,

Attorney-at-Law & Notary Public,

No. 34/14, St. Sebastian Hill,

Colombo 12.

Dear Sir,

Your letter dated 11th November 2002 written on the instructions of your client Her Excellency The President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga to my client Mr. Lasantha Wickremathunga has been referred to me with instructions to reply.

Your letter has been written on the basis that the statement referred to therein reproduced hereinafter has been stated by my client is false and defamatory of your client, you further state that it is defamatory by innuendo in that it means and was understood from that your client being the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka has abused SSP Jayantha Jayasinghe in filth and threatened him with death.

The statement read as follows:-

My instructions are that my client did make the said statement and without hesitation accepts it.

I am further instructed by my client to state that the said statement is true and correct and has been made for the public benefit.

I am further instructed that my client had qualified privilege when making the said statement.

In any event and without prejudice to the aforesaid I have been instructed by my client to state that your client is not entitled to any sum of money whatever as the said statement is true and correct and as the same has been made for the public benefit.

In the aforesaid circumstances your demand on behalf of your client is rejected. Upon the expiry of the fourteen days period set out in your letter, my client expects your client to institute legal action against my client. Thus my client welcomes your clientOs instructions to you to institute legal proceedings against my client.

My client looks forward to such action before the end of this month as indicated in your letter.

My client will not seek any time but will file answer on the earliest possible date.

In addition my client will counter sue your client for a sum of Rs. 1,000 million being the damage suffered by my client consequent to the several defamatory statements made by your client Her Excellency The President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga and in particular the following:-

 

 Yours faithfully,

G.G. Arulpragasm

 

 

 

 

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