The Sunday Leader topped the Excellence
in Journalism Awards once again for the year 2004 with the
newspaper's Editor (Investigations), Frederica Jansz being
selected the Journalist of The Year. Frederica also won the
award for Best English Journalist. Photo shows Frederica
receiving the top award from Chief Guest Cushrow Irani -- Photo by Asoka Fernando
to personally present her case to the House
to Parliament only after signing
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has
decided to send the joint mechanism proposal to Parliament
only after signing it, informed........
next flashpoint over king's statue
doles out jobs before quitting ministries
plans to counter JVP
takes a tumble
to personally present her case to the House
to Parliament only after signing
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has
decided to send the joint mechanism proposal to Parliament only
after signing it, informed sources said.
The President is expected to sign the
joint mechanism proposal this week and personally present her case
to parliament on Wednesday, June 22 and meet the JVP and JHU
challenge head on from the floor of the House.
Norwegian deputy foreign minister Vidar
Helgessen is also expected in the island this week to be at hand for
the signing ceremony.
The President's decision to send the
joint mechanism proposal to Parliament after signing it follows
objections by the UNP and TNA they would oppose any move to subject
the proposal for ratification by Parliament before the government
signs the agreement.
The TNA, diplomatic sources said, had
informed the international community they would oppose any attempt
to subject the joint mechanism proposal for ratification by
Parliament. The LTTE had also expressed the same view.
The UNP on Wednesday, June 15, went
public with their opposition to a government proposal to present the
joint mechanism proposal as a draft bill to Parliament stating the
party will boycott the sessions in such eventuality.
The government move was aimed at
providing the JVP a way out of opposing the proposal in Parliament
and still staying in government by agreeing to abide by the peoples'
verdict as reflected in Parliament.
However, JVP parliamentary group leader
Wimal Weerawansa informed chief government whip Jeyaraj
Fernandopulle last week his party could accept the verdict of the
people as reflected in Parliament only if it is approved by 113 MPs
voting for it.
next flashpoint over king's statue
By Sonali Samarasinghe
Kanthalai is set to become the next
flashpoint in a protracted debate over unauthorised structures when
a statue said to be of Agrabodhi, King of Anuradhapura believed to
have built the Kanthalai tank is due to be unveiled with pomp and
ceremony on Poson Day next week. JVP MP for Trincomalee Jayantha
Wijesekera who commissioned the erection of the statue on the
Kanthalai tank bund, The Sunday Leader learns has done so without
the prior approval of the Irrigation Department under whose purview
the historic Kanthalai tank said to be the second largest in the
Three months earlier at a discussion
held at the Trincomalee Kachcheri, which included Government Agent
Gamini Rodrigo, TNA MPs R. Sampanthan and K. Thurairatnasingham, and
UPFA MP Majeed Najeeb, the JVP parliamentarian was requested to halt
the project. He refused. Approval for the erection of a structure on
land coming under the control of the Irrigation Department must be
obtained in writing following procedures in place.
The irrigation engineer will inspect
the site and make his recommendations to the range director for
irrigation who in turn must send a report together with his
recommendations to the department for final approval.
Sources at the department say the
report did not contain any recommendations. However, The Sunday
Leader reliably learns that covering approval for the statue was
being rushed through last Thursday to beat the deadlines of both the
unveiling ceremony on Poson Day and the resignation of the JVP
A director at the Irrigation Department
in Colombo confirmed to The Sunday Leader that the statue was
erected without prior approval. The director also said that
approval, if given, would be given on a technical nature on the
basis that the structure will not have any adverse effect on the
dam. The department which comes under the Agriculture, Livestock,
Lands and Irrigation Ministry was until last Thursday under JVP
control. Minister Anura Kumara Dissanayake resigned on Thursday.
Kanthalai has been a sore point for both communities.
A 'University Teachers for Human Rights
(Jaffna) 2001' report states that while the building of the tank is
attributed to the King of Anuradhapura, in recent times Kanthalai
was a Tamil speaking village until colonisation began around 1952
when Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese were given land.
JVP MP Wijesekera was not available for
The Prime Minister's office has
incurred a bill of over Rs. 175,000 to repair the air conditioner in
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's BMW.
The bill for Rs. 175,421 was forwarded
to the Prime Minister's office on May 26, by Prestige Automobile
The bill states the customer's
complaint was that the air conditioner was not cooling.
The vehicle, a 5 Series BMW was sent
for service on May 17 and returned on May 26.
The invoice submitted by the company
gives the model number of the vehicle as 750 IL A RL S. The number
of kilometers clocked at the time of service was 36,367.
doles out jobs before quitting ministries
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP,
Vijitha Herath minutes before he resigned as cultural affairs
minister provided employments to 36 party supporters.
All the appointments were made to the
According to highly placed sources, the
interviews to recruit all 36 employees were done in haste on
Thursday, June 16, barely 12 hours after they pledged to the country
they would quit the government.
Sources said though they pledged to
quit the government and the UPFA on June 15 midnight, they left
their ministries only the following day.
Sources said Herath left his Ministry
only after 2 p.m., after making all 36 appointments.
According to Ministry sources,
assistant managers, watchers and peons have been recruited minutes
prior to Herath's resignation.
Meanwhile, Cultural Affairs Ministry
Secretary, A. P. A. Gunesekara told The Sunday Leader that the
appointment of persons were in the pipeline and recruiting these
persons was a coincidence with the former minister's resignation.
He denied allegations that the
appointments were made to fulfill the political aspirations of the
"This was entirely the decision of
the Ministry. The minister had nothing to do with this. In fact we
had to give the appointments the day the minister resigned because
the Director General Management Services gave us the approval only a
few days ago," he said.
He also said the Cultural Center had
properties and there were complaints from the divisional secretaries
that there must be watchers recruited to look after these
He also said that the appointments were
temporary and once permanent members were recruited, these persons
who were recruited would be removed.
plans to counter JVP
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has
unleashed a vicious propaganda blitzkrieg against the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with a view to defeating it at the
provincial, district, pradeshiya sabha and local council levels.
The aggressive campaign spearheaded by
the President herself is also aimed at attacking the JVP's record in
the four ministries and informing the SLFP supporters there is no
truth to what the JVP claims about the joint mechanism.
SLFP members have been strictly told by
President Kumaratunga to throw a challenge at the Marxists at every
layer of the administration in a bid to win the confidence of their
Senior party members told The Sunday
Leader that they have been warned to ensure that the SLFP vote bank
was well intact. "We are also making sure that there is no
erosion of the SLFP vote bank at all levels," a senior cabinet
While the SLFP members of parliament
are expected to get themselves engaged in educating the masses on
the joint mechanism, they are also expected to carry out a campaign
against the Marxists at the grassroot level.
The President has also told the members
that they must deny all statements and reports made in public by the
JVP about the joint mechanism and the President.
They have also been told to inform the
SLFP supporters that the joint mechanism is not intended to bring
about a separation of the country and that it would not in any event
affect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka as widely speculated by the
Marxists and other radical elements.
Meanwhile, the JVP too has vowed to
defeat the SLFP in all seven provincial councils at the next
provincial council elections.
takes a tumble
The economy tottered on the brink of a
free fall following the pull out of the JVP from the UPFA alliance
The rupee slid past the Rs. 100 mark
against the dollar last week and the fall would have been steeper if
not for state intervention on Thursday and Friday. A state bank sold
dollars in the market on behalf of the Central Bank and halted the
fall. By Friday, the rupee was trading at Rs. 100.10 due to the
state bank's intervention. The rupee closed at Rs. 99.99 against the
dollar on Monday.
Traders said that the rupee was around
4 to 5% overvalued and the fall might help exports. The rupee had
been boosted by the inflow of donor funds following the tsunami.
The Colombo stock market too reacted
negatively to the JVP pull out. The all share price lost about 0.2%
on Thursday. However, it regained on Friday to be up 14%.
On Thursday, the stock market recorded
the lowest turn over for the year at Rs. 71 million.
The Dialog IPO is expected to infuse Rs.
8.45 billion to the market during the first week of July.
There was no clear signal on how the
overall economy would react in the long term following last week's
political upheavals. The Central Bank had predicted a GDP growth of
5.3% to 6% while private analysts had downgraded it to 4.9%.
Most were however waiting to see if the
joint mechanism would be signed, as it would be a boost to the
However, speculation of snap elections
is not helping the situation.
According to Research Manager, HNB
Stock Brokers, Hasitha Premaratne, the country being ruled by a
minority government would not have an adverse impact on the economy
as long as the President holds executive powers and the government
could garner the support of the main opposition, the UNP, to sign
the joint mechanism and to pass its restructuring programmes for the
frustrated over delay in JM
By Easwaran Rutnam
The LTTE has expressed frustration at
the delay in implementing the joint mechanism and has urged the
government not to delay the process any further.
LTTE Peace Secretariat Head, S.
Puleethevan says its leadership together with the Norwegian
facilitators are frustrated at the continuous amendments made to the
proposed joint mechanism and hope more changes will not be done.
Puleethevan told The Sunday Leader, the
mechanism needs to be signed and implemented soon without further
He was responding to reports emanating
from Colombo quoting President Chandrika Kumaratunga as saying she
will not sign the mechanism without the consent of the maha sanga
LTTE Political Wing Head, S. P
Tamilselvan says it was disappointing to note although Tamil areas
in the north and east were among the worst hit in the December
tragedy, the government was still dragging its feet in implementing
the joint mechanism.
The mechanism, which will not be signed
at leadership level by either the government or the LTTE, is to be
presented to parliament for approval after which it is to be placed
before the maha sanga for their consent before it is signed.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Deputy Foreign
Minister, Vidar Helgessen is due in the country today and is
expected to facilitate the implementation of the joint mechanism.
to go against P-TOMS
A group of SLFP ministers are
conspiring to defeat the draft of the P-TOMS agreement if it is
presented to parliament in order to make things difficult for the
President, The Sunday Leader learns.
According to reports, the ministers'
plan is to defeat the agreement in the House and thereby applying
pressure on President Chandrika Kumaratunga to step down from the
presidency and the SLFP leadership. As part of the plan, two thirds
of the cabinet of ministers will play no part in the propaganda
campaign to promote the P-TOMS among the people.
A Gampaha District Parliamentarian who
has of late been on bad terms with President Kumaratunga is said to
be spearheading the conspiracy. Having encouraged the President to
bring the draft to parliament, he is also said to have discussed
ways and means of defeating the P-TOMS draft with the JVP which quit
the ruling alliance last week. The draft is to be presented to the
House either by the President herself or through the Relief,
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Ministry of which she is the
minister, according to the plan hatched by the group of SLFP
ministers. The TNA and the UNP have already clearly stated that if
the P-TOMS comes to parliament before it is signed, they would work
to defeat the agreement.
The Sunday Leader reliably learns the
JVP has already signalled its agreement to sit silently in the
opposition and work with the conspirators to oust the President from
invited to commission
The Norwegian government has invited
United National Party (UNP) MP, Milinda Moragoda to be part of an
international high level commission to develop an agenda that
secures the legal empowerment of the poor.
Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne
Bondevic in a letter to Moragoda states that the legal rights of the
poor need to be secured to promote economic and social development
and requires strong political commitment to be executed in a
systematic and transparent manner.
The first task of the new commission
will be to develop an action oriented agenda which includes key
principles and a tool kit of policy and strategy options.
The duration of the independent
commission will be for a period of two and a half years.
scheme to generate income for Transport Board
By Prasad Gunewardene
As the re-establishment of the Ceylon
Transport Board (CTB) looks an impossible task for the UPFA
government, Transport Minister Felix Perera has introduced a new
scheme to generate income with drivers and conductors invited to
make payments on a kilometre basis and operate bus services.
This measure follows the unsatisfactory
response to the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) introduced to the
42,000 strong work force in the decentralised passenger transport
Transport Minister Felix Perera told
The Sunday Leader only 8,000 employees have responded to the VRS so
far and that too mostly comprised of drivers and conductors.
Elaborating further on the new scheme
already launched in the Colombo District where drivers and
conductors purchase operations on payment, Minister Perera said the
depot charged the bus crew Rs. 40 per kilometre and they should
cover 200 kilometres a day.
"The crew gets funds from trade
unions and other
lending institutions to buy the day's operation. It is
profitable for them and the depot too, as indicated in the
operations of the first three days," the Minister said.
He further said that Japan has agreed
to provide 178 new buses with another 21 coming from Austria to
supplement the current strength.
Another 2000 buses from Japan
are now being negotiated on a long term repayment scheme,
Minister Perera noted.
The Ministry plans to extend the
purchase operational scheme by bus crews on a district basis.
The passenger transport depots are
burdened with a staff of 42,000 dependent on the income of 3500
buses of which 30% are regular breakdowns.
geared to face any eventuality
The military last week announced they
were prepared to face any eventuality following the signing of the
Joint Mechanism (JM).
Military Spokesman, Brig. Daya
Ratnayake told The Sunday Leader that in the event such a thing were
to happen the military was geared.
There was apprehension in the east last
week that the Karuna faction would up the ante by escalating its
attacks on the LTTE if the JM comes into effect.
On the night of June 13, the Batticaloa
office of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) was attacked
by suspected Karuna loyalists.
TRO is the main relief organisation
working in LTTE-held areas and has been accused of being a Tiger
front. One person was injured and the office, located just outside
Batticaloa town, was damaged in the attack.
Meanwhile, the pro - JVP newspaper,
Lanka, said that the Karuna faction had expressed its support to the
JVP opposition to the JM and the party's pullout from the
It said the group had said that the JVP
move was an incentive to its operations against the Tigers in the
east, quoting anonymous Karuna sources.
Military sources in the east said
though the possibility of an escalation was there, the forces were
in a position to thwart moves by the Karuna faction.
By Risidra Mendis
With a heavy demand for timber due to
reconstruction efforts in the tsunami affected areas, government
officials believe the country could face a temporary shortage.
The State Timber Corporation (STC)
claims that although it has sufficient supplies for the moment, the
country could face a shortage in the coming months due to many Non
Governmental Organisations (NGOs) purchasing timber from private
Speaking to The Sunday Leader,
Chairman, STC, F. Ghany said the NGOs are offering higher prices to
private timber companies in order to get their supplies.
"We don't want to give the wrong
message to the public. However, there are many NGOs offering higher
payments for wood obtained from private plantations. If the present
situation continues a temporary shortage cannot be ruled out,"
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesighe
has appointed UNP Member, Karunasena Kodituwakku as the new chief
organiser for the Kolonnawa electorate.
Kodituwakku joined the UNP as a
university student and continued as a UNP member, playing an active
role in the party over the years.
The former education minister under the
UNP regime participated in a number of professional workshops and
conferences in the USA, UK, Germany and Japan and represented Sri
Lanka in the general assembly as well as UN organisations.
beefed up in Colombo
Security has been beefed up in the city
following the tense political situation that has arisen with the
defection of the JVP from the government.
Inspector General of Police (IGP),
Chandra Fernando told The Sunday Leader the police were geared to
face any eventuality that may arise from agitational campaigns and
warned hooliganism will not be tolerated.
Military Spokesman, Brigadier Daya
Ratnayake told The Sunday Leader the army is assisting the police in
maintaining tight security to ensure possible street protests do not
get out of hand.
Meanwhile, the IGP said that a new
system has been adopted to warn the public of possible traffic
congestion in the city resulting from mass protests.
"The police will erect warning
boards at all the entry points to the city to inform the public the
roads to avoid and alternate routes that could be taken," the
He called on the public to support the
police by providing information of possible protests and crime via
the 119 emergency number.
against illegal gem mining
By Shezna Shums
Advanced Technology and Enterprise
Development Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama has directed the Gem and
Jewellery Authority to take stern action against illegal gem mining
in the country.
Following the directive, special
attention is to be given to key cities including Ratnapura and
Matale where gem mining is rampant.
"In Ratnapura alone the
authorities have detected 57 instances of illegal gem mining in five
major rivers. An estimated Rs. 548,000 has been charged as
fines," Senior Operations Manager, National Enforcement and
Planning, D.K.P.S.Daham Sandage said.
Sandage emphasised that gem mining was
illegal as it causes extensive damage to the environment and added
the Gem and Jewellery Authority leases selected rivers for mining
provided it is done in accordance with the regulations set by the
iron sold for scrap
By Priyangika Wickremasinghe
Two days after the tsunami tragedy, the
Sathosa Galle branch had sold items belonging to the institution
valued at Rs. 5 million for a mere Rs. 265,000, violating company
A stock of iron goods that was
remaining at the Sathosa branch in Galle, which was damaged in the
tsunami, was allegedly sold to an individual without following
proper tender procedures or obtaining the approval of the Galle
According to Sathosa staff, the items
sold amount to well over Rs. 5 million. The money received for the
sale has been credited by cheque to a Sathosa account.
Sources say an inquiry is to be held
shortly into the sale of goods and action will be taken against the
officer responsible for the irregular deal.
to be reconstructed
The Premadasa Center has undertaken the
reconstruction of Piyagama, a tsunami affected model village in
Balapitiya. The reconstruction is part of the projects undertaken by
the Premadasa Center to commemorate the 81st
birth anniversary of late President Ranasingha Premadasa.
The funds required for the
reconstruction are to be distributed to the affected families in two
installments and work is to be undertaken by the beneficiaries
The first phase of the reconstruction
programme commenced on June 12 and 50% of the funds were handed over
to the families for reconstruction purposes.
Sunday Leader tops Excellence in
Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony was held last Tuesday (14)
at the Mount Lavinia Hotel where The Sunday Leader was the top
winner. Photos show Dilrukshi Handunnetti of The Sunday Leader
receiving the merit award for Best English Journalist, Mandana
Ismail Abeywickrema receiving the merit award for Best Business
Journalist, Chatura Vidyaratne of The Sunday Leader's sister paper
Irudina receiving the award for Best Sinhala Columnist and Ajith
Ravindra for the best designed newspaper, Irudina.
Editor of The Sunday Leader, T.M.K. Samat who won the merit award
for Best Sports Journalist did not attend the awards ceremony. The
Sunday LeaderFeatures Editor, Ranee Mohamed was also given a special
award by the panel of judges for her human interest reporting.
However, some members of the organising committee, including Editor,
Lankadeepa, Siri Ranasinghe, Editor, The Sunday Times, Sinha
Ratnatunga and Managing Director, Veerakesari, Kumar Nadesan decided
to withhold that award for reasons best known to themselves
Photos by Padmasiri Gamage
under fire for releasing land
By Risidra Mendis
Environmentalists are up in arms
against a decision by Environment Minister A.H.M. Fowzie to approve
cultivation within the Buddhangala sanctuary, in contravention of
the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO).
Minister Fowzie it is learnt
has released over 200 acres of land within the Buddhangala
A letter issued by Wildlife director
Dayananda Kariyawasam on June 11, 2004 on the instructions of Fowzie
has given permission to 57 farmers to start cultivating within the
But according to Section 7 of the FFPO,
it is an offence to clear vegetation, break the soil and plant crops
in any extent of state land inside a sanctuary.
The violation of the FFPO due to
political influence has come under severe criticism by
environmentalists who say not only the animals but also the
Buddhangala hermitage (Buddhangala Aranaya Senasanaya) within the
sanctuary will be affected.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader
environment lawyer Jagath Gunewardene said according to the FFPO,
neither the minister nor the wildlife director could alienate land
within sanctuaries in this manner. "This is an illegal act by
the director on an illegal order from the minister" Gunewardene
Commenting on the violation of the FFPO,
Fowzie denied giving permission to farmers to cultivate in the
sanctuary. "I have to find alternate land for villagers who
have been cultivating within or on the borders of sanctuaries for 10
to 15 years before asking them to go. The government has no land to
give these people. I have not approved any land for cultivation for
newcomers," Fowzie said.
The Buddhangala sanctuary was declared
under the FFPO by gazette extraordinary No. 136 of November 1, 1974
and covers an extent of 1841.4 hectares. The area includes wetlands,
grasslands and provides a habitat for over 100 species of birds and
other animals including elephants.
farmers are not residents from the area. Our investigations have
revealed them to be from Sammanturai. If farmers start cultivating
this will result in a human- elephant conflict within the sanctuary
and in adjoining areas in Ampara and Malwatta. The serene
surroundings vital for meditating monks will also be
destroyed," says Gunewardene.
of cultivator triggers villagers to vandalism
By Risidra Mendis
The killing of a chena cultivator in
the Yodakande area close to the Yala National Park has caused angry
villagers to take the law into their own hands and attack Wildlife
Protesting villagers, angered by the
killing took on the unsuspecting wildlife officers at the park's
main office. Over 200 villagers surrounded the park office on
Wednesday morning (15) causing injuries to three wildlife officers.
Armed with poles, sticks, clubs, stones
and knives, the villagers had first attacked the Dabawa wildlife
office which was two kilometres away from the Yala Park main office.
The three wildlife officers at Dabawa escaped.
However, villagers set fire to a
motorcycle and damaged the office premises. Subsequently, the
villagers had surrounded the park's main office and smashed windows
and set a vehicle on fire.
Eyewitnesses said that the commotion
made wildlife officials to open fire in self-defence.
Environment Minister, A.H.M. Fowzie
told The Sunday Leader that the government was looking into the
human-elephant conflict that has intensified over the years.
"These villagers have engaged in chena cultivation for over 10
to 15 years. We cannot evict them without giving alternate land. At
present, the government has no land to offer these people,"
The man killed on Tuesday (14) was an
Meanwhile, angry environmentalists and
nature lovers reacting to Fowzie's comment claim that if the
Minister cannot find alternate land for villagers engaged in illegal
chena cultivation, he should kill the animals in the national parks
and provide cultivators with land.
is the Minister's responsibility to take necessary action to solve
these problems. If the Minister cannot resolve the man-beast
conflict, he should resign," the environmentalists said.
A knife with a deer horn-made handle
has been left by the villagers following their protest, a clue taken
up by authorities as clear evidence of protestors being also
The Assistant Government Agent,
Tissamaharama, D. S. Padmakulasuriya said numerous appeals made by
the Department of Wildlife and Conservation urging villagers to
refrain from cultivating in the buffer zone area have fallen on deaf
According to the Fauna and Flora
Protection Ordinance (FFPO) cultivation in
DWC land or
Forest Department land without approval is an illegal act.
"The villagers know that elephants
come to cultivated areas looking for fodder. There is a farming
community of about 1,200 in the Tissamaharama area. They are
"It is their only livelihood and
unless alternate land is offered, the incidents would
continue," Padmakulasuriya said.
in the city
While the crowds sway on the dance
floor to the funky tunes played by the DJ, the nightclub is alive
with teenagers and adults alike.
While some are lost in a world of
booze, some others mingle around leisurely to make the most of the
The time is 2 a.m. and the crowds pour
in - some with friends while others with partners. While the tables
are soon occupied with the newcomers, it is a perfect Saturday night
in the heart of Colombo city.
As the nightclub is now packed to the
maximum, in a far, dark corner eight couples gather. After the usual
greetings are exchanged, a waiter delivers an array of drinks.
While the couples are engaged in deep
conversation, a newcomer delivers a set of keys to the group. While
the keys are laid out on a nearby table, the females from the group,
each select a key.
"They are playing a game. It takes
place almost every Friday and Saturday and it is the biggest
attraction of the evening," an onlooker tells us.
By now, the keys have been chosen and
the couples prepare to leave - only this time with different
Swapping partners is the latest game at
Sri Lanka's popular nightclubs with local revellers calling it a
'new form of entertainment' and the 'height' of enjoyment.
Some couples complain against such
games, while some
feel that swapping is fun and 'played' all over the world,
especially in France,
US and Germany.
The game generally starts after 2 a.m.
with a friendly 'chat' amongst partners which then takes a different
turn with male partners being 'advised' to pull out their house and
car keys while the female partners are asked to select a key.
According to onlookers, females are
swapped with the males whose keys have been selected. "Some
nightclubs have reservations at hotels. Once the swapping is over,
the 'new' couples
spend the night in these rooms," an onlooker tells us. The
onlooker is right because as soon as the swapping is over, the
couples leave the nightclub - some head for rooms within the hotels
while some head towards their vehicles.
The swapping game is also fast becoming
popular with teenagers who look for new avenues of excitement. Just
a few felt that it promoted unsafe sex. "This isn't our
culture. A's husband sleeping with B's wife for the night is not
what we believe in. In the morning, they return to their respective
homes as if nothing had happened. This is promoting adulterous
living," one club manager claimed, who added that he was sad
about the policy of his own employers.
Club owners, when spoken to, refused to
make comments but defended that there was no threat of spreading
sexually transmitted diseases as the game was played in 'good
faith' with no risks involved. "It's just a game. There is
nothing wrong in adults having some fun," a participant of the
swapping game confirmed.
inefficiency costs SLPA Rs. 9.6m
By Priyangika Wickremasinghe
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority has
incurred a loss of Rs. 9.6 million after the Cooperative Wholesale
Establishment (CWE) imported10,000 metric tonnes
of rice as an emergency measure from India.
The rice was imported by the CWE as
part of the tsunami relief supplies but is now considered unfit for
human consumption. Since Sathosa is incurring huge losses, the
institution is finding it difficult to meet the cost to clear the
Already, Trade and Consumer Affairs
Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle has requested the Ports Ministry to
waive the Rs. 9.6 million charge by the harbour as demurrage or late
The Trade Minister in a letter to the
of Ports and Civil Aviation cites four reasons for the CWE's delay
in clearing the items from the harbour. "The CWE could not cope
with the volume of work involved to clear the rice imports which
consisted of more than 300 containers and a bulk cargo of 2895 MT of
rice due to the customs entries. A lack of staff contributed to
delays in clearing the cargoes of rice," Fernandopulle's letter
The Minister says that there is a
shortage of transport facilities at CWE, and has added that CWE
staff have also been engaged in tsunami relief work all over the
country and the delay was due to this.
balance of power in parliament
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
While a prorogation of the House
appears imminent with the JVP quitting the UPFA coalition, President
Chandrika Kumaratunga is now set to head a minority government. With
the JVPís withdrawal of support on Thursday, June 16, the
government lost 39
vital seats. At the time of winning the poll in April last
year, the UPFA commanded a wafer thin majority with the total number
of seats at their command being 106. The composition of the rainbow
coalition is such that it would prove very difficult to continue,
unless a political lifeline is
extended. The main constituent partner of the Alliance, the
SLFP has only 59 seats.
The JVP has 39 seats, NUA 03, MEP 02,
CP 01,and LSSP 01 each totalling to 105. With the JVPís departure,
the original coalition has merely 67 seats, even less than the main
opposition UNF that has 68 seats excluding dissident Rohitha
Bogollagamaís seat. However, the UPFA has during one year won the
support of several parliamentarians representing different political
parties, that has strengthened its parliamentary clout.
The single seat that provided the UPFA
the governing position was that of the EPDP which increased the
government numbers to a 106 at the very outset. The next were the
four SLMC rebels that increased the numbers to a strong 110.
Following the CWCís decision to back the government, another eight
seats were added.
The last addition was UNP rebel Rohitha
Bogollagama who extended his support to the government shooting the
numbers to a strong 119. With the departure of the JVP, the 119 has
reduced to 80 seats, making the UPFA to desperately canvass support
from other political parties. Meanwhile attempts are being made to
win the support of the ITAK (TNA), which has 22 seats in hand and is
the fourth largest political group in the present parliament. Group
Leader, R. Sampanthan told The Sunday Leader that it was too early
to make decisions about alliances but did not rule out new alliances
in the present backdrop. ďIt is necessary that some courageous
steps be taken. We will take the best possible political decision
for the welfare of all communitiesĒ he said. Strangely, the
desperation for numbers is making the UPFA reach out to the most
radical opposition political groups such as the JHU. With the bulk
of the group not willing to support Kumaratunga on the joint
mechanism issue, the two dissident monks are likely to work with the
ruling party. Given the difficulty in mustering sufficient numbers,
government MPs are making desperate bids to win a couple of UNP
members to the government.
However short of the JVP rejoining the
government, the ruling coalition will be hard put to pass any
significant legislation in parliament, making it a lame duck