LTTE delegation led by its Political Wing Leader, S. P. Tamilselvan
arrived in Sri Lanka following the Tigers' Paris confab last week. The
Tiger team was then airlifted to Kilinochchi by SLAF helicopter
- the contractor?
underworld gang leader has in a sensational confession stated that
Chairman, Sri Lanka Telecom and President, Board of Control for Cricket
in Sri Lanka, Thilanga Sumathipala planned and financed certain contract
killings, including three assassination attempts on the Editor of The
Sunday Leader newspaper.
Godage alias Bada Mahinda has in a signed confession stated that
Sumathipala planned and financed certain contract killings through
underworld kingpin Dhammika Amarasinghe alias Dhammika Perera.
was a classmate of Dhammika Amarasinghe and worked alongside the feared
gangster for a number of years until his own arrest eight months ago.
Dhammika too surrendered to police early this year and is at present in
remand custody wanted for nearly 50 murders.
his confession, Mahinda alleges that Sumathipala planned and financed
three assassination attempts on Editor-in-Chief
of The Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickrematunge which included a
shooting incident on Wickrematunge's home at Nugegoda in 1998.
addition, according to Mahinda, Sumathipala planned and paid for the
notorious underworld figure Baddegana Sanjeewa, formerly a member of the
Presidential Security Division (PSD), to also be murdered.
Sanjeewa was killed on November 2, 2001, preceding the December 2001
general election. Mahinda has confessed that the killing was carried out
by Dhammika Perera and another underworld figure known as Gala alias
Udaya Kumara. He claims that Sumathipala paid Dhammika Rs. 90 lakhs for
executing this murder.
when questioned denied any involvement with Dhammika or any other
underworld figure, categorically denying his involvement in the
assassination attempts on Lasantha Wickrematunge.
high level police investigation presently being carried out by senior
sleuths attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) however
has found evidence that Sumathipala had repeatedly telephoned Dhammika
Perera while the latter was in remand prison on his mobile telephone. A
breakdown of the gangster's mobile phone bill is evidence of this
allegation. (See pages 12, 13 for full story)
Mahinda meanwhile is expected to make a full confession in open court on
double deals media again
Chandrika Kumaratunga has locked horns with the media once more
backtracking on an assurance to allocate a government owned building to
house the Press Complaints Commission and a media training institute for
to establish a television, radio, cinema and media training institute
that would include a Press Complaints Commission was first mooted in
1998 by the Free Media Movement, the Editors' Guild and the Publishers
discussions were carried out by the tripartite group with the then
People's Alliance government and foreign donor agencies.
structural plan of action indicated that the Press Complaints Commission
and the media training institute would be funded by Norwegian and
Swedish donor agencies for an initial period of three years. Thereafter
the Publishers Association decided it would absorb the full cost of the
no sooner an action plan had been finalised, former Minister Mangala
Samaraweera told donors the government was not willing to support the
programme. Since approval was required from the External Resources
Department in view of foreign funding, the entire programme had to be
shelved following Samaraweera's refusal.
the change of government in December 2001, the proposal was once more
reintroduced and senior journalists met with Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe who indicated he was fully supportive of the initiative.
Premier however maintained the government was not in a position to
financially sponsor the programme but agreed to allocate a government
owned building for the training institute and Press Complaints
Commission to be established. Following further discussions, the PM
agreed to allocate the building which presently houses the Sri Lanka
Television Training Institute (SLTTI).
SLTTI has reportedly been running at a huge loss and has been
these discussions were taking place, the Sri Lanka Press Institute which
was established serves as the umbrella organisation which will manage
the Press Complaints Commission and the training institute.
discussions were completed one year ago and the Mass Communications
Ministry made arrangements to take over SLTTI in May this year in order
to establish the media training institute.
Mass Communications Ministry, Kumar Abeysinghe on March 10 wrote to the
Director, SLTTI indicating the government's decision to allocate the
building for the proposed media training institute and Press Complaints
Commission and set out a proposed plan of action which included a
voluntary severance scheme for the existing employees as well as
absorbing some of the staff to the Media Ministry.
is under the purview of President Kumaratunga but following an appeal
make via Presidential Advisor, Lakshman Kadirgamar, President
Kumaratunga had verbally agreed to transfer SLTTI to come under the
purview of the Mass Communications Ministry.
Kumaratunga, for reasons best known to herself, last week wrote a letter
to the Media Ministry stating she is not agreeable to the transfer or
SLTTI building being utilised for the purposes of a Press Complaints
Commission and media training institute.
is believed that one of the reasons behind the President's decision is
the fact that Dushani Peiris, director, SLTTI is the daughter-in-law of
media secretary attached to the Presidential Secretariat, Janadasa
Peiris nee Bulumulla has no qualifications for the post of director,
SLTTI, but was appointed due to her family connections with Janadasa
Peiris who remains a loyalist of President Kumaratunga.
President has cited various other reasons for her sudden decision which
is completely contrary to her original position and promise to ensure
the building is allocated for the purpose of a media training institute.
Annan arrives in October
Nations General Secretary Kofi
Annan will arrive in Sri Lanka on a two day official visit in October.
is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on October 10 and will also be
UN General Secretary is also scheduled to address parliament either on
Friday, October 10 or Saturday, October 11.
is also learnt that Annan will have separate meetings with President
Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will be the minister in attendance during
the UN General Secretary's Sri Lankan leg of the tour.
pile up at Bribery commission
estimated 1000 complaints from the public on bribery or corruption have
not been attended to by the commission to Investigate Allegations of
Bribery or Corruption following the void created by the demise of one of
to director general of the Commission, Piya- sena Ranasinghe nearly 35
indictments that also include charge sheets have also not been filed in
courts due to this lacuna.
commission became a 'white elephant' after justice T.N.Abeweera passed
away in February this year. Since then the vacancy has not been filled.
says the failure to file action in courts against those who have already
been interdicted from their places of employment is unfair by them and
added that the government should take serious note of this.
also said on a daily basis the commission receives five to six
complaints from various places but added that the commission is unable
to take any serious action against the offenders.
are still carrying out the old cases. New cases are untouched. We get a
lot of complaints about the accumulation of wealth and other acts of
corruption involving public figures. But we cannot do anything about
it," he told The Sunday Leader.
said public officials take advantage of this lacuna in the commission
and continue to engage in bribery. "This is bad for the country.
This paves the way for more and more corruption," he pointed out.
to visit Malaysia on study tour
members of parliament have been selected to participate in a study tour
to Malaysia from September 13 to 20.
extensive programme is aimed at giving the touring MPs an insight into
the Malaysian agricultural sector and rural development.
entire tour is organised utilising private funds, according to Labour
Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe who is organising the tour.
resigned on my own' - Castelino
President, Colombo Swimming Club (CSC), Victor Castelino last week said
that he tendered his resignation to the Colombo Swimming Club (CSC) on
his own volition on March 29.
also told The Sunday Leader that he was elected unanimously for the post
of president, CSC.
tendered my resignation together with my committee of my own accord, the
purpose being to provide an opportunity for a new team to experience
managing a social club" Castelino said.
to Castelino the committee and general membership had not quantified the
cost of the projects at the meeting. However the total cost of the
projects did not exceed Rs. 13 million. Furthermore he has said the
projects were approved by the membership unanimously at the previous AGM
held in March 2002.
contractor who undertook the kitchen project in 2000/2001 delayed in
submitting the final bills by over six months. On submission of the bill
amounting to Rs. 3.2 million, Rs. 1 million was deducted towards
contractual obligations. As such the amount to be provided for is
understated by 2.2 million and was not provided in the previous year due
to the delay in submission of the final bills" Castelino said.
to Castelino there is no report or reference made for Rs 400,000 either
in the audit report or in the sub committee report.
went on to say that during his period at the CSC the membership rose
from 800 to 1425 and profitability from under Rs.3 million to Rs.13
million among others.
on his tenure at the buying office, Castelino said his office is not
responsible for invoicing and as such him having overinvoiced is
payments for purchases and receipts for export proceeds are the direct
responsibility of Sri Lankan manufacturers and as such I have not caused
a loss of foreign exchange to the country" Castelino said.
also said the decision of this commercial practice was the
responsibility of his associate and therefore as the head of the team
his conscience forced him to resign from his post at the buying office
as regional vice president.
refute CBK's claim
senior cabinet ministers refuted President Chandrika Kumaratunga's
charge that foul language was used on her during cabinet meetings.
Kumaratunga told a large gathering last week during the 52nd Sri Lanka
Freedom Party (SLFP) convention that three ministers use foul language
during cabinet meetings and that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
only 'laughs' at them without taking any action against those who abuse
Minister, Dr.Kar- unasena Kodituwakku said that no cabinet minister has
ever spoken to the President in language uncommon to
society. He said he has missed only a few meetings and in all the
meetings he had participated, in cabinet ministers had used proper
language to express themselves.
he agreed that there had been heated arguments during cabinet meetings
but denied any claim by the President that cabinet ministers used 'foul'
language on her at any given time.
have no doubt about it. I think only President Kum- aratunga could
answer to her own charges and not any cabinet minister," he said.
Chief Government Whip and Labour Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe said he
was certain that no cabinet minister ever spoke to President Kumaratunga
using foul language as stated by the President. "She can point her
finger at those who have used such language," he challenged her.
said the President made this remark at the SLFP convention to create a
wrong impression of the UNP government and there was "no truth
whatsoever" in what the President uttered.
also said that the first person who would have stopped the ministers
from using such 'foul' language against the head of state would have
been the Prime Minister
himself. "The Prime Minister is not going to tolerate such
nonsense. He will be the first person to take action against anybody
behaving in such a manner," he asserted.
also said there was also no truth in the President's claim that the
Prime Minister was laughing while cabinet ministers used 'foul language'
on the President.
and Consumer Affairs Minister, Ravi Karunanayake said "it is an
absolute lie. There is no truth to it at all. To my knowledge no cabinet
minister had ever spoken to President Kumaratunga in 'foul language' as
stated by her," he said.
to resummon parliament
main opposition has decided to demand Speaker Joseph Michael Perera
resummon parliament immediately to discuss the situation in Trincomalee,
where it is said the LTTE is making elaborate plans to encircle the
a press conference in Colombo, PA Parliamentarian Mangala Samar- aweera
said there is a serious security threat in Trincomalee and that
parliament should be recommenced to discuss this issue.
said that the army and the navy had seen around 150 LTTE cadres clearing
the jungle area in Anandhapura that is situated on the Trinc- omalee -Habarana
opposition has also charged that the LTTE constructed 13 camps since the
signing of the ceasefire agreement with the government. According to the
opposition the LTTE has established camps at Illankandai, Sambur,
Kattaiparichan, Koonithivu, Navalady, Sinnakinya, Kan- dalkadu and
Urumaya chief Tilak Karunaratne blamed President Chandrika Kuma- ratunga
for not taking any action on this matter. "She is the head of
defence. Why cannot she use her powers and do something? She is also
conniving with the government and trying to ignore this grave
matter," he charged.
said if this issue is ignored, the LTTE would not only encircle
Trincomalee town but also take control of vital installations like the
China Bay Naval Base.
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Spokesperson, Agnes Braga- dottir
said the Mission has no information to the effect that the LTTE has put
up new camps.
continue to be killed despite appeals
repeated appeals to the residents not to harm elephants in national
parks, they continue to kill them. The latest figures show that four
elephants have been killed within just two weeks.
according to local and foreign visitors visiting the Yala National park
two weeks ago, three dead elephants were spotted at Nimalawewa Aramaya
Senasana, Mahaseela and the Ondatjee areas within the park.
to The Sunday Leader, Director, Environmental Ministry, Ranjith
Eriyagama said the death of a male elephant was due to a viral
infection. The other two animals, a male and a female had died due to
trap gun injuries on their legs.
is the autopsy report given by the park veterinary surgeon. However we
have sent samples to the Peradeniya University to confirm this
report" Eriyagama said.
to Eriyagama there is a severe drought and shortage of food within the
Yala park. As a result the elephants come out of the jungle and go into
the chena cultivations nearby in search of food and water.
went on to say that as a precautionary measure
Environment Minister Rukman Senanayake has ordered the immediate
building of an electric fence along the Nimalawa Sanctuary to prevent
the animals from wandering to human populated areas. Work on the
electric fence is expected to be completed by September 15.
present the park officials are using bowsers to fill up the waterholes
within the park. The park will be closed from September 15 to
October15" Eriyagama said.
urges action against unlicenced
foreign doctors practicing in SL
significant number of foreign medical doctors practicing in various
private medical institutions in Sri Lankan without the authorisation of
the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has irked the council.
Sunday Leader reliably learns a couple of hundreds of foreign medical
doctors are currently engaged in practicing in Sri Lanka. It is also
learnt that despite repeated appeals made to the Health Ministry by the
SLMC no action in this regard has yet been taken.
SLMC on the other hand which has no legal powers to prevent these
doctors from practicing in Sri Lanka without its license is 'helpless.'
President, SLMC, Dr. Ananda
Samarasekara says the SLMC has requested the government to amend the
medical ordinance in order for the council to get more powers so that it
could call for the names of such medical doctors practicing illegally in
Sri Lanka and take appropriate action against them.
says the powers to arrest such doctors are vested with the police upon
receiving complaints. "But unfortunately no one makes any
complaints against these doctors," he told The Sunday Leader.
says the medical ordinance should be amended to take action against
medical doctors who are working in Sri Lanka illegally and to take legal
action against those who employ them in the country.
also suggested that the proposed Nursing Home Act should be taken up in
parliament and be made a law so that the government will have a grip
over illegal medical practitioners.
Samarasekara explained that the country might have to face serious
consequences as a result of letting foreign doctors practice in Sri
Lanka without proper authority. Firstly he said it is illegal to
practice in another foreign country without a proper licence. Secondly
he pointed out this method prevents the SLMC from ensuring
that those doctors who are practicing in Sri Lanka have adequate
skills and knowledge to treat the Sri Lankan patients. Finally he said
this prevents holding
anybody responsible if there was a mishap in the process of carrying out
treatment. "For instance if somebody is killed or dies due
to negligence of such foreign doctors practicing without proper licence,
nobody will be held responsible," he said.
emphasised that the government should take adequate measures to take
note of this 'dangerous' trend in the country and enact proper
legislation to curb the problem.
says every Sri Lankan citizen who qualifies as a medical doctor abroad
is expected to sit for Act 16 (of 1965) examination in the country to be
eligible to practice in Sri Lanka.
a foreign medical doctor who is willing to practice in Sri Lanka he says
is not required to sit for this examination but instead is compelled to
obtain licence from the SLMC on the recommendation of the director
general of health, the health secretary or from a dean of a medical
is of the view that this at present is not taking place in Sri Lanka.
"We Sri Lankans are faced with more danger by not acting
responsibly. It is the fault of the Ministry and the government,"
asked to consult SLMC
Samarasekara says the government should compel the Board of
Investment (BOI) to consult the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)
prior to giving approval for health clinics that function today as
says it is a pity that health care in Sri Lanka is not cared for
by the government and other relevant authorities.
Health Ministry must
have control over such activities in Sri Lanka. This is why we
want the government to amend the Medical Ordinance and give the
council more powers," he said.
tenure to be extended
General of Police T.E. Anandarajah's tenure is to be extended by an
year, according to Presidential Secretariat sources.
completes 60 years on October 14.
it is learned that the Police Commission
is looking into the potential suitability and seniority of four
Senior DIGs. They are
Gamini Randeniya, Indra de Silva, Jayatissa Herath and Chandra Fernando.
sources told The Sunday Leader the
IGP 's services would be extended following a Presidential
recommendation which is to be forwarded to the
the commission claims that it has no responsibility in granting service
extensions to police officers.
claim that the President is keen to extend Anandarajah's tenure. A
member of the Constitutional Council said that the President should take
a decision in consultation with the Constitutional Council and not
for salary anomalies
Minister Dr.Karunasena Kodituwakku last week said the arbitration
committee that would be appointed by the Labour Commissioner is expected
to permanently put an end to the problems faced by the non-academic
staff of the universities.
week the Labour Commissioner was directed to appoint this committee to
find a solution to the conflict that existed between the technical and
non-technical staff of the universities.
Minister said that the arbitration committee that is to be appointed is
expected to submit a detailed report of the problems and recommended
solutions to the government within two months. He also pointed out that
the conflict between these two categories arose after a misunderstanding
that was caused by the University Grants Commission (UGC) regarding the
salary revision of the non-technical staff of the universities.
MPs awaiting Tamilselvan's invitation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Political Wing Leader, S.P.Tamilselvan will
meet members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) after meeting with
LTTE Leader V.Pirapaharan.
has indicated to some Tamil politicians that after his arrival from
Paris, he prefers to meet Tamil MPs after consultation with the LTTE
Leader to share what was discussed in Paris.
of the TNA said that they requested from Tamilselvan an appointment to
discuss the interim administration proposals prepared by him during his
visit to Paris.
would be in a position to comment about the interim administration
proposals only after meeting him," they said.
sand mining continues despite ban
a ban on sand mining in the Vadamarachchi coastal area, it is learnt
several persons are engaged in removing sand violating the temporary ban
Point Pedro Magistrate K.Ariyanayagam last week ordered the confiscation
of two vehicles with sand excavated from the Vadamaradchi coastal area
violating the temporary ban, legal sources said.
to sources the Magistrate made the order when the Point Pedro police
produced the vehicles without registration documents sources said.
removal of coastal sand is allowed only with permission from the local
authority concerned and environmental officials.
of the temporary ban, the price of a lorry load of sand has gone up to
Rs. 12,000. As such several influential persons are engaged in removing
sand," sources said
to court sources the illegal transportation of sand came to light when
two vehicles of a convoy transporting sand broke down midway last
Tuesday. The police took into custody the broken down vehicles along
with the sand and produced in courts.
English teachers protest
English teachers in Trincomalee are up in arms against the government's
stand not to make them permanent.
week the activities of the North East Provincial Ministry of Education
and the Provincial Department of Education located at Orr's Hill in
Trincomalee, came to a standstill after hundreds of part time English
teachers launched a fasting campaign.
National Alliance Parliamentarians Selvam Adaikalanathan,
G.Krishnapillai and M.K.Sivajilingam participated at the picketing along
with the part time English teachers.
blocked all the entrances to the Education Department and the Education
Parliamentarian Adaikalanathan addressing the gathering said that this
matter would be taken up for discussion at the proposed meeting with the
Prime Minister scheduled
for tomorrow, September 8.
General Secretary and Trincomalee District MP, R.Sampanthan said he will
submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister and education minister during
next week's talks with valid reasons that they should be granted
the fasting teachers announced at the end of the meeting that they were
calling off the one day picketing but would continue their fasting on a
rotational basis until their demands were met.
laws to ban religious propagation ?
in Sri Lanka are expected to consider legislation to make it illegal for
non-Buddhists to spread their faith, according to an international
recent years, decisions by the country's Supreme Court have undermined
the freedom to promote one's religion, according to the Evangelical
Alliance of Sri Lanka.
August, the court ruled against the incorporation of a Roman Catholic
ministry, saying that while the country's constitution allows citizens
to practice their religion, it does not guarantee the right to propagate
religion. Similar decisions refusing incorporation were made against
other ministries in Sri Lanka.
Lanka's constitution guarantees Buddhism supremacy.
Buddha Sasana and Justice Minister W. J. M. Lokubandara has said
he will introduce an anti-conversion bill in parliament. Christian
organisations in Sri Lanka are concerned the recent court decisions will
set a precedent for enforcing the proposed anti-conversion bill, the
Oklahoma-based watchdog group said.
steady increase of shanty dwellers in Colombo city has become a matter
of concern for the government.
to Colombo District Parliamentarian Mano Ganeshan currently an estimated
60,000 families are
illegally living in Colombo, whose future he says is bleak.
says while the increasing number of shanty dwellers is becoming an ugly
sight it also poses danger to society. "Most of these people are
used by the underworld thugs to carry out their nefarious activities.
Also they are used for drug trafficking," Ganeshan said.
to him most of them have migrated to Colombo from the hill country as
the new estate management companies managing the estates have failed to
grant them jobs. He also says he foresees more unemployed people from
the plantations coming to Colombo in future.
to the city is a common phenomenon in any developing country. But the
government should address its mind to this issue and try to find a way
tried to raise funds to construct a fully fledged Tamil technical
college for the school drop-outs in
the plantation sector so that they could obtain knowledge to be
employed, but the government failed to help me," he said.
said the shanty dwellers could turn out to be more dangerous if the
government fails to take necessary action forthwith.
Day of Journalists Solidarity
Sri Lanka Press Club has organised a seminar to mark
International Journalists Solidarity Day to commemorate the 60th
death anniversary of journalist Julius Puchik.
commemorative day falls tomorrow, September 8.
Puchik was assassinated on September 8, 1943. The theme of the
seminar will be Peace and Media Freedom.
Press Club states in a statement; "Every year September 8 is the
International Day of Journalists Solidarity. This day is being observed
in the memory of a great victory over German Nazi fascism in the battle
of Kursk. It is observed as the sad demise of a courageous journalist
who was sentenced to death and after killing him
his head was hanged. The Prague born Czechoslovak journalist died
for the rights of the people."
approved navy's cannon purchase
Minister Tilak Marapone has said that purchase of weapons for the Naval
Fast Attack Craft was
subjected to his examination and was followed by presenting a cabinet
paper in this regard.
a statement he has said that this was approved by the Cabinet Sub
Committee on Budget and Tenders and finally by
proposal was not the purchase of a complete weapon system but the
upgrading of the existing 15 Israeli manufactured Fire Control Systems
already fitted on 15 of our Fast Attack Crafts, by replacing the
existing 23 mm cannons with 30 mm cannons and modifying the rest of the
system to accommodate this change of cannon," he has stated.
has said that his attention has been drawn to a controversy given
publicity in the media, surrounding the purchase of weapons for the
Naval Fast Attack Craft. The main allegation he says seems to be that
whilst a weapon called Bushmaster is available to be purchased at a much
cheaper rate, the navy is about to purchase instead a weapon at
approximately three times this price.
is absolutely incorrect. The prices compared are the cost of a
Bushmaster cannon with the cost of a cannon including the cost of
integration of the cannon to an existing Israeli Fire Control System.
(Weapon system consisting of an electro optical device, the mount
containing the gyro and computer system and the cannon)," he has
has stated that in the first place, this upgrade can only be attended to
by the Israeli government owned company who are the manufacturers of
this Fire Control System adding that the cannon could be of any make,
but the installation of the cannon and the upgrade of the Fire Control
System consequent to a change of the cannon can only be done by this
technical know how and the accessories necessary for this exercise is
available only with this Israeli company (being the manufacturers of
this system) and the government of Sri Lanka, at the time of the
purchase of these systems, has signed an agreement with this company
preventing any other party modifying or upgrading the systems.
when the navy wished to have the systems upgraded by replacing the
existing 23 mm cannon with a 30mm cannon (to get a better range), the
Israeli government was requested to submit offers for this purpose. They
submitted three offers using three different makes of 30 mm cannon
including the Bushmaster cannon," he has stated.
Minister has further stated that according to the Israeli offer, the
total cost of the upgrade using the Bushmaster
cannon was around US $ 824,000.00, using a Swiss made Oerlikon
cannon was US $ 724,000.00 and with a Russian cannon US $ 553,000.00 per
Fire Control System. "The upgrade using the Russian cannon was
rejected by the evaluation committee as it involved a deck modification
(at a further cost to be borne by the navy) and the Oerilikon was chosen
being the cheaper," he has explained.
it is absolutely incorrect to state that the cheaper
Bushmaster was rejected in favour of a more expensive cannon. The
did later make an offer to supply the cannon at US $ 228,472.00 per
cannon, but this was the price for the cannon alone and does not include
the cost of the upgrade to the system which, as I said earlier, could be
executed only by the Israeli company which manufactured the Fire Control
System to which this cannon is to be fitted. The Israeli company had
already quoted US $ 824,000.00 if it is to upgrade this system using a
he has added.
made easy for asthmatics
relief to an estimated one million asthma sufferers in Sri Lanka,
Consultant Physician Dr. Anil Goonetilleke has come up with an
alternative to the practice of popping pills.
As a doctor desperately seeking his own cure from bronchial
asthma, Dr. Goonetilleke has invented an alternative for the current
practice of taking pills which he claims is totally ineffective in
treating the disease.
seven years of research, he came up with an inhaler capsule which won
him the coveted Presidential Award for Inventors in 2001. He believes
this was the first time that a pharmaceutical product has won this
to research findings by the UK Thoracic Society, all asthma sufferers
should be given inhaler treatment. "Inhaler treatment is the gold
standard for acute asthma attack sufferers," says Dr. Goonetilleke.
Unfortunately for many local patients the illness is treated orally with
medicines like Prednisolone as inhaler treatment is not available in
government sector hospitals.
inhaler treatment which poses no
risk of side effects, the prevalent method of treatment subjects
patients to a number of complications.
Having been through the difficulties himself, Dr. Goonetilleke
says: "I was seriously bent upon finding an effective solution and
making inhalers affordable."
an asthmatic myself, I have seen what asthma sufferers go through and I
didn't want to stop until a solution was found," he says.
to Dr. Goonetilleke the illness is a serious cause for concern.
However, not much attention has been paid to making inhaler
treatment accessible to all sufferers. He says that the illness is
multi-factorial. Increased air pollution and other factors associated
with urbanised 21 Century lifestyles have resulted in an alarming
escalation of asthma and related illnesses.
study by Sri Lanka Chest Physicians, ISSAC Phase III Study,
the very first of its kind and an ongoing study - has revealed
asthma to be increasingly
prevalent amongst children. "It is as high as 15% to 20%,"
says Dr. Goonetilleke.
has also been found as the number one cause for hospital admissions in
the country with 1999-2000 Health Bulletin statistics indicating as much
as 375, 000 people admitted. "Given the enormity of the problem it
is very unfortunate that sufferers are not given proper treatment. Only
tablets are given to patients where inhaler treatment is known to be the
most effective," he observes.
other side of the coin is an estimated US$ 4 million per year in foreign
exchange is spent on inhaler treatment by those who can afford it.
"These are private sector patients. Even for them the inhaler
treatment is a costly affair," says Dr. Goonetilleke.
Inhalers could cost up to Rs. 1,600 per dose. Once the new
inhaler capsule is released to the market Dr. Goonetilleke believes that
some of this money could be saved. "The raw material would be
imported for the manufacture but the value addition done here is so big
that it could be made available at an affordable price for the masses.
With hope for local asthma sufferers on the horizon perhaps people with
this chronic illness can soon start breathing easily.
- the sanctuary by the city
Kurulu-kele area of the Kegalle Sanctuary is a small area in Kegalle,
which despite its size, is home to a large variety of flora and fauna.
The rare plant species Entada Pusaetha or pus-wela also grows in this
forest area, one of which has reached the girth of 72 inches and has now
walking, crouching and stumbling through the forest in the continuous
rain for a while, we were met with an amazing sight - the fallen pus-wela,
which is huge and looks like the trunk of a tree. The pus-wela however
is still living and the fallen section has been fenced in and supports
have been erected.
its relatively small size, Kurulu-kele seems an ideal habitat for
several endemic species. Fifty one nationally and four globally
threatened species of flora and fauna have been recorded in the area.
in close proximity to the Kegalle town, the Kurulu-kele area started off
as a 280 acre block of land designated as the Kegalle Sanctuary, but has
now dwindled down to a mere 10% of its previous size. A Buddhist
mediation centre is also situated within its confines.
to globally threatened species
contains 190 species of flora, 34 of which are endemic and 249 species
of fauna, some of which are rare, endangered and even globally
threatened states the report titled Biological Diversity And
Conservation Strategy - Kurulu-kele Area Of The Kegalle Sanctuary
published by the Sri Lanka Environment Exploration Society (SLEES) after
a study conducted from 1995 to 1997.
faunae population ranges from microscopic insects to mammalian species.
There are five species of land snails and two aquatic snails (five
endemic), 81 butterfly species (five endemic), 11 amphibian species
(four endemic), 11 tetrapod reptile species (four endemic) and 21
serpantoid reptile species (four endemic) of which seven are nationally
threatened and one, the rock python, is globally threatened.
are 92 bird species out of which 10 are endemic to Sri Lanka and five
are nationally threatened. The three-toed kingfisher, described as a
rare, beautiful and nationally threatened species, is also found here,
states the SLEES report.
two species of mammals have been recorded in Kurulu-kele. The small
flying squirrel, otter, slender loris, mouse deer, Indian fishing cat
and otter (lutra lutra) are nationally threatened. The Indian fishing
cat and otter (lutra lutra) are globally threatened as well.
are no permanent streams in Kurulu-kele, with small temporary streams
flowing through during the rainy season.
SLEES study identified threats to the sanctuary due to the
over-exploitation of resources. These include extraction of medicinal
plants, felling of trees for fuel wood, encroachment, illegal trapping
of animals and chena cultivation.
the villagers, the forest is mainly seen as a source of firewood and
medicinal plants, states the SLEES report. There are 31 plants species
of medicinal value in the forest of which 25 are important.
collection of firewood has decreased after the construction of a fence
by the Forest Conservation Department, which is responsible for the
management of the sanctuary. Encroachment on the Kurulu-kele area was
also halted after the construction of the fence.
1993, the department proposed that the area be maintained as a 'man and
biosphere' reserve. Along with SLEES, the department also undertook
studies to collect information on the area.
sometimes hunt for porcupine and hare in the forest and also collect
firewood," said Wipula Chandrasekara, a member of SLEES, who showed
us our way around the forest.
SLEES conducted a campaign to rid the area of polythene left behind by
visitors on August 11 and an NGO named SARDA is now involved in the
protection of the Kurulu-kele area," said Chandrasekara.
has also taken several steps to prevent further degradation of the
forest by the distribution of energy efficient wood burning ovens to
people who depend on the forest for firewood requirements and educating
school children and the public on the importance of the Kegalle
in biodiversity, the Kurulu-kele area is also unique due to its
closeness to a major town. The SLEES survey revealed that of the
residents in the area, 77.5% feel it is important to protect the forest
and the sanctuary.
the respondents have also stated that they feel the conservation
programmes launched so far have failed to make a visible impact and the
conservation of the area should receive high government priority.
turtle conservationists be charged?
of the fittest is the name of the game. But for the turtle, an
endangered species, humans - but not all - may threaten its survival.
to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, the rearing, keeping or
breeding of turtles is illegal. But there are the lawbreakers like Kamal
Edirisinghe and Dilshan Weerapperuma who break the law in the interest
of the turtle, to ensure their conservation.
and Kamal, two self-confessed nature lovers are breaking the law to do
what they think is best for the conservation of turtles. And from what
could be seen, it has turned out to be a successful venture.
Edirisinghe was once walking on the Mt. Lavinia beach when he came
across the nesting place of an Olive Ridley turtle. Disregarding the law
that prevented him taking the turtle home, Edirisinghe and Weerapperuma
thereafter took it upon themselves to protect the eggs the turtle laid
until the hatchings were born.
Olive Ridley is considered the smallest of the turtle family. It also
turned out to be one of the rare species, out the five species found in
Sri Lanka," says Edirisinghe.
sadly adds that the human greed to consume turtle eggs and meat had
added to the drastically declining turtle population in the country.
the young men successfully managed to protect 109 eggs from potential
danger. Out of these eggs, 100 hatchings were born and the duo, so proud
of their achievement, released them to the sea about a month ago.
second batch had 137 eggs out of which 107 hatchlings were born. Some of
the baby turtles were released again in the night" says Edirisinghe.
Tharaka Pradad, a veterinary surgeon attached to the Department of
Wildlife speaking to The Sunday Leader denied any knowledge about an
instance where anyone has been prosecuted for violating the law with
regard to turtle breeding.
far as the authorities are concerned, if hatchlings are released to the
sea within three days of their birth, there should be no cause for
prosecution, says Dr. Prasad. The problem arises only if hatchlings are
kept for more than three days, as there could be a possible loss of
their natural instinct of swimming in the sea.
law does not come into effect with regard to one or two people
protecting the species and releasing them to their natural
habitat", he noted.
turn to faith as police draw a blank
was the dead of night as the shadows of the surrounding trees fell on
the chaitya. Feeling bold,
one robber climbed on the back of his accomplice and reached for the
precious pinnacle gem. The marks he left on one side of the chaitya were
still visible when we visited the Getambe Rajopavanaramaya in Peradeniya.
pinnacle gem has been missing since late August and todate, it is an
mystery where the authorities have failed to find any lead.
to The Sunday Leader Ven. Kappetiyagoda Siri Wimala Thero said:
"The pinnacle stone was a precious gem worth well over Rs.
500,000." All he wants is the gem to be returned to the temple.
the history of the temple, Ven. Siri Wimala Thero said that the temple
was first built in 1958. In 1962, a precious stone was gifted to be used
as the pinnacle stone.
any one day the temple will be visited by at least 300 pilgrims. People
believe in this place and we have a chaitya without a pinnacle stone
now" he said, sounding sad.
to the priest what was stolen was not the gem, but the cultural value
attached to the temple.
Can you imagine a chaitya sans its pinnacle gem?" he questioned.
speaking to The Sunday Leader, Upali Attapatu, a temple worker said that
part of the problem was that the temple was not properly lit up in the
night. Yet the temple gates are kept open for the pilgrims to come.
"When the robbery took place, it was dark and as shadows too fall
on one side of the chaitya, the thieves found it easy to achieve their
all pious villagers do, Atapattu is convinced that the stone would soon
be returned. " Nobody can keep a temple stone," he said, with
the beliefs may be high, the authorities have come up with nothing.
When asked, the Peradeniya police said that nothing has emerged
from their inquiry.
sathyakriya has been held at the temple premises last week, praying for
the return of the gem. And the morale seems to be if authorities fail,
at least faith might deliver.
crisis remains unresolved
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
the crisis situation affecting a leading girls' school in Colombo
continues to affect the school's administration, the Education Ministry
is yet to take action against the principal despite parents and teachers
collectively protesting against what is considered as her 'unprincipled
parents and teachers earlier took the battle to the streets protesting
against the principal. Adding to the woes, the present situation at St.
Paul's Girls' School, Milagiriya (SPM) has split the teachers and
students into anti and pro fractions.
to The Sunday Leader, Dr. M. G. M. Rizvie stated that the Education
Ministry has yet not taken any firm action against the school principal.
Dr. Rizvie asserts that the Education Minister, Karunasena Kodituwakku
has so far refused to meet him alleging that Dr. Rizvie has made some
'unwanted' comments to the media.
a delegation wanted to meet the Minister, he accused me of making
unwanted comments to the media and refused to meet me," he said.
Dr. Rizvie added that the Minister has yet not called for a proper
inquiry to be held saying that he has not received any of the letters
sent by protesters requesting for a proper inquiry. "We have sent
about five letters to the Minister and he says he has not received any
such letter," Dr. Rizvie said.
weeks back when several parents sought to make representations to the
Education Minister, a personal assistant to the minister has directed
them to the National Schools Director, P.T. H. P. Geeganage as the
Minister was unavailable at that moment. According to Dr. Rizvie, only
three parents were sent in and the director has ordered them out rudely.
The director had even questioned the personal assistant as to why they
were sent in.
officers at the Ministry have not allowed the parents to leave the
Ministry premises. Following this,
the parents have then made an entry at the Thalangama police station.
Subsequently Ministry officials have alleged the delegation
threatened the National Schools Director.
Rizvie further explained that while no action has yet been taken against
the principal, teachers who are against the principal have been
recipients of various pamphlets defaming them. He added that although
the principal has been summoned by the police in connection with several
complaints lodged against her she has not gone for any inquiry.
an active old girl of SPM said that the Education Ministry has not taken
any proper action and has not given a proper hearing to their
grievances. "Delegations keep trying to make the ministry listen to
what they have to say, but so far it has been a case of knocking their
heads against a wall," she said. According to the old girl, all
they need is a fair hearing as the inquiry held earlier was one-sided
and in favour of the principal. "It is one sided and the
other side is missing," she alleged.
complaint so far
to her, a delegation had sought to make representations to the Minister
on Wednesday (3). The appointment had been at 2.30 p.m. and the Minister
had walked out without
meeting them, despite their waiting. However, Education Minister
Karunasena Kodithuwakku stated that the Ministry has
so far received only one complaint, which concerns the school
to Kodithuwakku, the inquiry held subsequent to this complaint found
everything to be in order and upheld that the principal has done the
right thing. The canteen was earlier run by the OGA. As for letters sent
by protesters, the Minister said that he has received many such letters,
which were vague allegations,
adding that there was no direct reference to corruption within.
Kodithuwakku further said that some parents and teachers were for the
principal, while some were against, and the lack of evidence merited no
principal is appointed by the Public Services Commission (PSC) and not
by us. It is only when we have an inquiry and find fault could the
PSC take up the matter. Right now we have no proper
complaint," the Minister said.
for the principal using 'bad language' on students and teachers, the
Minister said that he has not received any personal complaints on the