caught - State property was abused with impunity at Prime
Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's inaugural rally at the Town Hall
last week. Resources of the Road Development Authority (RDA)
were used liberally to facilitate the meeting. Picture shows
RDA workers unloading chairs from the truck bearing number
41-0180 for the rally. Circled is the government emblem on the
-- Photo by Lalith Perera
Minister says JVP, JHU agreements to bring in the votes
committed to federalism
Minister John Seneviratne revealed that Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse was committed to the SLFP policies and federalism
notwithstanding his agreements with.......
SLMC to back Rani
to release SLFP manifesto next week
hanging on to buses donated to tsunami hit areas
Hambantota' Magistrate transferred
Chief not happy with 17th Amendment
vows to proceed with P-TOMS, ISGA
Minister says JVP, JHU agreements to bring in the votes
committed to federalism
Minister John Seneviratne revealed that Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse was committed to the SLFP policies and federalism
notwithstanding his agreements with the JVP and the JHU.
said the SLFP has always been committed to the devolution of power
and that a proper devolution of power was possible only through a
Minister also told The Sunday Leader the agreements the Prime
Minister entered into with the JVP and JHU will not result in him
rejecting the SLFP policies on federalism.
pointed out the agreements with the JVP and JHU should be viewed
from the standpoint of trying to get their votes, but that in
arriving at a solution after the elections, a practical approach
would have to be taken.
strongly believe Mahinda would honour the SLFP conventions and
policies. Just because he has signed these documents with the JVP
and the JHU, it does not mean that the Mahinda that this country has
known for several decades would sacrifice his party for the sake of
honouring the already signed agreements," Seneviratne said.
also said President Chandrika Kumaratunga was undoubtedly concerned
about the present situation but would sort out the issues without
causing an upheaval in the party.
Minister was also confident that the Prime Minister would win the
SLMC to back Rani
CWC and SLMC
will endorse the candidature of UNP Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe next week for the upcoming presidential elections.
Leader Arumugam Thondaman is expected to announce his decision on
Wednesday, September 29 while SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem will make his
announcement in the days leading up to the nominations.
Sunday Leader learns both the CWC and SLMC have had intense
discussions with both Wickremesinghe and Premier Rajapaske and
decided to support the UNP candidate.
sources said what tilted the balance in favour of Wickremesinghe
were the hard-line conditions the Premier
had agreed to with the JVP and JHU.
the SLMC and the CWC supported President Chandrika Kumaratunga at
the 1999 presidential elections.
to release SLFP manifesto next week
Chandrika Kumara-tunga will finalise the SLFP's manifesto for the
presidential election next week, informed sources said.
UNP is to launch its manifesto on Tuesday, September 27.
President, who is expected in the country Tuesday night, is to place
the manifesto before the SLFP central committee for approval, party
manifesto will spell out the SLFP's commitment to the concept of
federalism and the P-TOMS agreement.
Kumaratunga is expected to leave for Paris shortly after the central
committee meeting, it is learnt.
sources said the strategy of the Prime Minister's campaign team is
to ignore the contradictions between the SLFP manifesto and the
agreements with the JHU and JVP and run a nationalist campaign.
is too late now for the SLFP, JVP and the JHU to pull out and go
their separate ways so let all agreements remain on the table,"
a source close to the Prime Minister said.
hanging on to buses donated to tsunami hit areas
donated to Sri Lanka to be used in tsunami hit areas are in the
custody of Consumer Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
Sunday Leader learns a private company from the United Kingdom
donated 34 buses including 17 double-decker buses to Sri Lanka with
specific instructions that they were to be used in tsunami affected
buses in the custody of the Minister have still not been handed over
to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB).
Chairman, Tudor Dayaratne confirmed the buses have arrived in Sri
Lanka but not yet reached him for operation.
further said repeated appeals to the Minister to hand over the buses
to the SLTB have fallen on deaf ears and added the SLTB has not
given up making further appeals.
Minister Fernandopulle when contacted admitted the buses were in his
buses were donated by Airbus Response, a private British company, on
my personal request and they are with me at present," he said.
Minister said the buses would be used especially in the coastal
areas. "The buses will be given to places like Colombo, Negombo
and Matara," he said.
also said he would be able to hand over the buses to the SLTB only
after discussions with the company. "Representatives will be in
Sri Lanka soon and the buses will be given to the board after
discussions," he said.
meetings with CWC and SLMC
vows to proceed with P-TOMS, ISGA
Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse has agreed to proceed with the P-TOMS, negotiate the ISGA
and a federal state in discussions with the Ceylon Workers Congress
The Prime Minister has also in
a separate discussion with the SLMC agreed to introduce a federal
system for the northeast with special provision for a Muslim
The Premier made these pledges
separate discussions he had with Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC)
and CWC to solicit their support and told the two parties that his
agreements with the JVP and JHU were not binding and were entered
into with the intention of obtaining the Sinhala Buddisht vote.
However both CWC and SLMC have
informed the Prime Minister that they want his assurances included
in his manifesto before they could make a commitment of support.
Prime Minister had earlier
declined to accept the conditions put forward by the CWC but had
later informed the party he was agreeable to them after it was
brought to his notice that the CWC was pledging its support to the
UNP Presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Hambantota' Magistrate transferred
surrounds the transfer of Fort Magistrate and Additional District
Judge, Sarath Karunaratne who last week issued order to inspect the
bank accounts related to the 'Helping Hambantota' case.
transfer order comes four days before the Criminal Investigations
Department (CID) was to report to Magistrate Karunaratne their
findings on the investigation into the bank accounts including the
private bank account maintained by Premier Mahinda Rajapakse at the
Standard Chartered Bank Rajagiriya Branch.
case is to be called in the Fort Magistrate's Court on September 28.
Magistrate's order to the CID to inspect the bank accounts last week
itself was shrouded in controversy after the CID, on the
instructions of the Attorney General, moved to have the order
the CID, on the instructions of the Attorney General, had the order
restored the following day before an acting magistrate.
Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Chandra Jayatilleka told The
Sunday Leader the transfer was not coloured. He said Magistrate
Karunaratne was transferred as additional district judge, Colombo
after a preliminary inquiry on a complaint against the Magistrate
received by the Commission last month. The JSC had taken the
decision Thursday evening.
why he was not interdicted or suspended pending inquiry if that was
the case, Jayatilleka said a judge of the Court of Appeal has been
appointed to go into the complaint made against him and if the JSC
decided to charge sheet him then suspension or interdiction may
Jayatilleka also told The Sunday Leader Karunaratne was promoted as
a special class district judge a year ago and transferred routinely
to the Homagama District Court. However, since controversy was
generated regarding the transfer in connection with the hearing of
the Ravi Karunanayake anticipatory bail application, the transfer
also explained that Magistrate Karunaratne was later transferred to
the Matugama District Court, but the transfer was cancelled due to
personal grounds on an application made by the Magistrate.
Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) Anoma Goonetilleke told The
Sunday Leader the BASL has no right to interfere in a decision made
by the JSC. Asked why the BASL then took up the matter of the
suspension and subsequent interdiction of Wellawaya Magistrate
Bandara, Goonetilleke drew a distinction stating the Wellawaya issue
involved the JSC interfering in a magisterial order.
proper legal forum to review a magisterial order would be in an
appeal to a higher court.
BASL held its monthly Bar Council meeting yesterday. Senior Bar
Council members told The Sunday Leader they would have to first look
into the circumstances of the transfer and decide on a course of
action thereafter, if necessary.
civil rights groups are concerned the transfer, which comes in the
wake of Magistrate Karunaratne ordering the investigation into the
bank accounts, may be perceived as colourable. The head of the JSC
is Chief Justice Sarath Silva.
is reliably learnt a lawyer made the complaint against the
Magistrate to the JSC on an order made by the Magistrate in a case
involving the lawyer's client.
senior lawyers told The Sunday Leader that if the complaint against
Magistrate Karunaratne was one of misconduct then he should have
been suspended or interdicted pending inquiry.
if it were a complaint on an order made in a case then the proper
legal procedure would have been to appeal to a higher court. The JSC
in such an event will not be the proper forum, they added.
is widely thought that Magistrate Champa Janaki Rajaratne will
replace Magistrate Karunaratne as the Fort Magistrate.
Chief not happy with 17th Amendment
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake on Friday said that he could
appoint a competent authority only to govern the state media.
said that although he has been asked to appoint a competent
authority by various people, he couldn't do so until the laws
clearly stipulate the duties of such an authority.
ask me to appoint a competent authority, but I can't do such a
thing. I can only do what the law enables me to do," he said.
to Dissa-nayake, the 17th amendment has resulted in creating a lot
of controversy with regard to the functions of the Elections
down hard on the amendment, Dissanayake charged that those who
passed the piece of legislation in haste have obviously not properly
studied it before passing it.
also highlighted the delay insetting up
the Independent Elections Commission.
not personally satisfied with the 17th amendment," he said.
explained that the Constitutional Council, which is represented by
politicians, would appoint the five members of the proposed
five members who have been so far named for the commission all
represent one discipline and none who have excelled in the field of
elections," he said. He pointed out that in the case of the
Public Service Commission and the Judicial Services Commission,
members include those who have excelled in the relevant discipline.
to Dissa-nayake, the best model to follow is the Indian model of the
in case of disruption
Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake on Friday said that the counting
and announcing of election results would depend on the peaceful
conclusion of the polls on November 17.
said that he would not hesitate to annul the votes of a polling
station that reports
any sort of violence or mischief.
the election results have to be announced one month before the term
of the existing president comes to an end, Dissanayake said that
re-polling would be held on November 19.
on your post tsunami pledges - President
Chandrika Kumaratunga on Thursday told the international community
the government received minimum opposition from some extremist
parties to implement the P-TOMS agreements and expressed regrets
this process had however been stalled due to a court order.
said she feared that ‘Sri Lanka may lose the momentum, when the
country had the best opportunity of moving forward towards
said that the LTTE had shown a willingness to work with the
government with regard to tsunami reconstruction within the
framework of the ceasefire agreement.
also urged the international community and the UN to continue to
keep the focus on the reconstruction and recovery effort in the
tsunami affected countries and to ensure that pledges made are
President noted that NGOs that came in large numbers to the tsunami
affected countries received vast amounts of funds for reconstruction
from concerned citizens throughout the world.
she regretted that the procurement procedures in place among some of
the donor agencies and NGOs were delaying the reconstruction
process, while others are yet to channel funds to Sri Lanka.
appealed to these organizations to complete the projects they have
undertaken without further delay as the people of Sri Lanka were
questioning what had happened to the contributions made by the
caring people of the world, who channeled large quantities of money
to help the tsunami victims.
President Kumaratunga made these observations when she addressed a
meeting of the Global Consortium on Tsunami Recovery, chaired by the
UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery former
President Bill Clinton, and held at the World Bank in Washington
the participants at this meeting were World Bank President Paul
Wolfowitz, heads of UN agencies, the International Federation of the
Red Cross (IFRC), members of the NGO community, and delegations from
the affected countries and donor countries.
Earlier in her statement the President expressed appreciation for
the generosity of Governments, international agencies, NGOs and
citizens of all countries, who came to Sri Lanka’s assistance
following the December 26 tsunami, and described it as a
“magnificent demonstration of human solidarity.” She
particularly thanked President Clinton for the interest taken in Sri
Lanka’s recovery process and said “Sri Lanka will do our maximum
to utilize your support (President Clinton’s) effectively and
The President noted that Sri Lanka’s reconstruction work required
over US$2 billion and involved the entire spectrum of infrastructure
development- education, health service, roads, railways, bridges,
sewage systems, water and sanitation projects etc. A bulk of the
resources for this effort is derived from foreign aid and most of it
is grant money.
was only playing a supervisory role and it was the donor agencies
that coordinate the entire process of project management until
completion. She noted that all tsunami destroyed houses will be
built on State owned land or on land bought by the Government for
the tsunami affected households.
Government plans to gift land and houses to the beneficiaries after
they settle in. With regard to housing, nearly 70% of house
construction had begun. Half of this was built by the owners
themselves, with the help of grants provided by the Government. A
large number of owner built houses are under construction. She added
that most issues concerning the buffer zone have been resolved. 60%
of the houses that were within the buffer zone are being built
elsewhere, with full agreement from the beneficiaries.
the opportunity for working together in the post-tsunami recovery
had on nation building, President Kumaratunga said “the mighty
forces of nature have humbled us all” and “caused a new
realization of the realities facing us and has persuaded us to try
to participate in a united manner towards rethinking our problems
and seeking to resolve them”.
said she is happy that the long standing problem in Banda Aceh is
resolved and that agreements have been signed.
In comments at the commencement of the meeting, President Clinton
said the Tsunami had provided affected governments with the chance
to “build back better”, and through the Global Consortium, many
donors have agreed to define broadly the category of eligible
beneficiaries, so that assistance to the affected populations does
not exacerbate inequalities.
President Clinton emphasized that such a broader vision of recovery
in Sri Lanka and Aceh must take account of the needs of persons
displaced by the conflict. Referring to the P-TOMS Agreement
President Clinton said he “appreciated” President
Kumaratunga’s “courageous attempt to work through this
process.” He noted that while much of the attention of the world
is focused elsewhere, the affected Asian governments are really only
beginning a long and complex reconstruction process and said, “We
will continue to stand by them. We must tackle the tough issues with
the same determination and drive that characterized the immediate
aftermath to the crisis”. President Clinton said the Global
Consortium endorsed a range of measures to sustain momentum in the
longer term recovery effort including an international effort to
assist national governments in promoting livelihoods through
entrepreneurship, skills training and promoting local government
capacity, as well as in encouraging a broader vision of recovery.
Mano Tittawella, Chairman TAFREN, who presented an overview of the
activities undertaken in Sri Lanka said, the reconstruction effort
was being carried out with wide consultation at all levels with
donors as well as all tsunami affected communities. The government
was acutely aware of the macro economic imbalances that can occur in
the areas of inflation and unemployment, and was sensitive to gender
and equity issues that could result in the present phase of
reconstruction. TAFREN had also launched a web based DAD system with
the assistance of the UNDP, where over 1.3 billion US $ worth of
donor funded tsunami projects listed. This was not only intended to
ensure transparency, but is also a means of ensuring benefactors the
world over that the assistance they gave Sri Lanka was being spent
effectively. Mr. Tittawella said Sri Lanka remained frustrated that
the proposed Regional Early Warning System that was mooted many
months ago, is still not a reality.
Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Foreign Secretary H.M.G.S.
Palihakkara, Ambassador Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke, TAFREN Chairman
Mano Tittawella and CEO Rohini Nanayakkara were associated with the
President at the meeting. The World Bank’s Resident Representative
in Sri Lanka Peter Harold also attended the session.
law to make compulsory the presentation of the national ID when
exercising one's franchise would not be enforced during the
forthcoming presidential polls.
bill presented to parliament last year, was passed on November 18,
2004 and the date of implementation was announced as one year from
the passing of the bill.
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake observed that although
the presidential election is held one year after the passing of the
bill, the law couldn't be implemented due to one governing clause.
to the governing clause, the law shall come into effect in one year,
if and when the commissioner in-charge of the registration of
persons informs the elections commissioner that every citizen in the
country has been provided with a national ID card.
am not satisfied with the number of people who have been issued with
NICs. Statistics show that 70% of the citizens have ID cards,
but I believe that about 80% of the citizens have ID cards. If the
law is implemented now,
some citizens would be denied
their right to exercise their franchise," he said.
committee to study dredging of Palk Strait
government has set up a special committee to assess India's plan to
deepen the Palk Strait separating the two countries, as it was felt
the project could harm marine life.
has begun dredging the waterway, where a reef known as Adam's Bridge
makes the waterway too shallow for ships traveling between east and
west India, forcing them to take a longer and costlier route around
critics in Sri Lanka, say that dredging the seabed may affect water
currents and temperatures, as well as marine life and the livelihood
Lanka is indeed concerned," Cabinet spokesman
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told reporters after the
Cabinet set up a panel of experts to study the project's impact on
marine life near Sri Lanka's coast.
recently began work on the US$550 million (euro 450 million) project
to deepen the 167 kilometer (104 mile) long channel. It is expected
to open to ships in 2008, reducing transit time between India's east
and west coasts while cutting shipping and fuel costs.
Lanka hasn't formally objected to the project and De Silva did not
say what prompted the government to set up the experts' group after
India had already begun work on the project originally planned more
than 140 years ago.
idea for a canal at India's southern tip originated during British
colonial rule in 1860. Over the past 145 years, 14 committees, nine
of which were set up by the British, examined and shelved the plan.
Bank pays higher rates of interest
Lanka's Tamil Tigers have no security cameras or guards protecting
their bank. Yet they say it is the safest place for customers to
deposit cash and gold both in times of war and peace.
The Bank of Tamileelam (BOT) is not recognised by Sri Lanka's
Central Bank, but the rebel financial institution in Kilinochchi,
330 kilometres (203 miles) north of Colombo, has full management of
monetary policy in Tiger territory.
The Tamil Tigers set up the bank in May 1994, after first
establishing their own police force three years earlier. Since then,
they have adopted their own administration and legal system to
strengthen claims for a separate state called Eelam.
The rebel bank uses Sri Lankan currency but offers rates
higher than any commercial bank in the island - paying8.5 percent on
fixed deposits compared to the national average interest rate of 5.7
Lending rates, too, are marginally lower than commercial bank
rates elsewhere in the country - between 9.0 percent and 18 percent
compared to 11.42 and 33.6 percent.
Managing director Mahalingam Veerathevan said war had been
good for securing deposits, but a truce since February 2002 was
proving even better for business.
"During war people want to deposit money and gold,"
Veerathevan told AFP in an interview here. "But during peace
people are borrowing more and we have just launched a campaign to
mobilise savings from among children."
The 36-year-old Veerathevan, a business administration
graduate from the university of Jaffna, the former stronghold of the
Tigers, says he is now managing a deposit base of 15 million
The Tiger bank does not publish profit and loss accounts and
instead reports only to a board of seven members who are direct
appointees of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Supremo
United Nations, European Commission,
Commonwealth and the Asian Elections Agency (AEA) have been
invited by Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake to send
monitoring teams for the forthcoming presidential election.
far the European Union and the AEA have informed that they would
teams, while the UN has declined the invitation.
Commonwealth however is yet to respond to the invitation.
than 60 teachers of music and dance in the Jaffna District struck
work for the second day, Friday, forcing the closure of regional
teachers have demanded an explanation from the North East Education
Ministry for not providing permanent positions to them even after
passing the selection examinations and attending interviews a,
spokesperson for the striking teachers said.
to address women's issues
Working Committee member and former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to
Senanayake says the manifesto of the UNP presidential candidate
would address issues regarding women in Sri Lanka.
said the UNP will include in its manifesto burning issues like the
tsunami affected families and the economy which is weighing hard on
"25 per cent of the households in Sri Lanka are headed
by women and the UNP will address their issues," she said.
UNP has strategies to stabilise the rupee and bring down the price
of fuel and the cost of living," she said.
scoffed at the statements made by Prime Minister and SLFP
presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse concerning women's issues
and dismissed his promises as a political gimmick.
was in government for 11 years and has been the Prime Minister for
the last 17 months. Why did he take so long to realise that women
have issues?" she
said the UNP in its election manifesto of 2001 had already included
all the issues now mentioned by Prime Minister Rajapakse. She said
Wickremesinghe had even promised greater female representation in
is President Chandrika Kumaratunga who was blocking all his efforts.
If Ranil Wickremesinghe was allowed to run his full term he
would have addressed these issues," she said.
said even within the two years in governance the UNP under the
Vanitha Diri Maga opened nine centres to address issues of women.
"These centres have
a police station,
doctors, counsellors and lawyers to address the problems concerning
women," she added.
says that this government's negligence has cost the women gravely.
"Domestic violence against women,
malnutrition during pregnancies, abortion and low birth rates
are issues that have been neglected. In fact, 20 per cent of our
women are mentally ill today unable to cope with the existing
problems," she added.
parties agree to shun polythene
major political parties have vowed to refrain from using polythene
in their political campaigns for the forthcoming presidential
UNP and SLFP general secretaries have taken the decision to refrain
from using polythene in their political campaigns on a request made
by Environment and Natural Resources Minister A. H. M. Fowzie a few
to The Sunday Leader UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said he
welcomed the request made by Fowzie to refrain from using polythene
in their political campaign. "We have taken a decision to stop
using polythene in our political campaigns as we all know that
polythene causes great harm to the environment. However it is
Fowzie's party that uses a large amount of polythene in their
political campaigns," Attanayake said.
to Attanayake Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Mahinda
Rajapakse should make a public appeal to all political parties to
refrain from using polythene in their political campaigns.
"Rajapakse should set an example to other political parties
contesting elections by not using polythene in his political
campaigns. If the Prime Minister makes a special request to the
public to avoid using polythene in their political campaigns I think
all political parties will follow his request" Attanayake said.
SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena said he has instructed
his party members to refrain from using polythene in their campaigns
prior to the presidential election.
received cabinet approval on September 22 for the manufacturing of
bio degradable polythene in the country. The AG's Department is
currently considering this issue, and once it is
I hope to bring in
regulations to facilitate the manufacturing of bio degradable
polythene," Fowzie said.
to Fowzie any manufacturer who does not comply with these rules and
regulations will be charged or his licence will be cancelled.
of former SLMM Chief - government cautious
government has urged the Norwegian Embassy to release details on the
visit of former
SLMM Chief, Trond Furhovde who is expected to arrive in the island
at the cabinet
media briefing on Friday, General Secretary of the UPFA, Minister
Nimal Siripala De Silva said that although the government had been
informed of the former SLMM Chief's visit, details regarding his
visit were yet to be revealed.
from the Peace Secretariat met with the Norwegian Embassy last week
and asked them to provide
the details and they have agreed," Minister De Silva
parties fume at PM's partying
United National Party (UNP) will lodge a complaint with Elections
Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake against Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse using state money to enhance his vote bank.
MP, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told The Sunday Leader that the Premier
was entertaining people from all walks of life, including the rich
by throwing parties at Temple Trees using tax payers' money, for his
alleged that out of the Rs.22 million allocated by the Treasury to
distribute to the poor, Rs. 2.5 million has been spent to purchase
liquor to serve the invitees. "Many millions more are spent on
food," Dr. Senaratne alleged.
added the Premier's organisers had also been issued instructions to
gather minority groups and the working class, such as bus drivers
and three wheel drivers in order to entertain them at Temple Trees
to gain their support at the presidential election. "If he was
so concerned about the plight of these people, why did he wait till
the elections? He could have entertained them before," Dr.
the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has also condemned Premier
Rajapakse's party spree
at Temple Trees, stating that this was a clear violation of
Secretary, SLMC, T. Hasan Ali told The Sunday Leader that in
addition to misusing state money, the Prime Minister was also
misusing state transport in the process. "When a section of the
Muslim community was invited to Temple Trees
a few days ago, some of them were transported in state
vehicles. This is a flagrant violation of the election law,"
Hasan Ali said.
added that while a large section of the public was unaware of such
events being conducted at Temple Trees, it was the responsibility of
the UNP to oppose and expose such events. "This has to be
exposed and it is time the opposition raised its voice," Hasan
not interested in CC nominee
selection of a
Muslim member for the Constitutional Council was again postponed on
Friday (23) due to lack of
a quorum .
eight of the 24 Muslim members in parliament were present at the
is learnt that repeated efforts by Environment Minister A.H.M.
Fowzie to bring the Muslim members together in order to choose a
Muslim nominee to the Constitutional Council have failed.
Muslim parties cannot agree on a
nominee and are dragging their feet on the appointment. Many
organisations have expressed concern regarding the absence of an
Elections Commission in the forthcoming presidential election. The
tenures of the National
and the Public Service Commission will expire this year, and a
functioning Constitutional Council
is important to make appointments and extend the terms of of
office of commissions.
Fowzie has again scheduled a meeting for October
there is no quorum again we will make representations to the Prime
Minister and the Leader of the Opposition" he said.
officials in trains running through jumbo terrain
have been issued by Environment and Natural Resources Minister, A.
H. M. Fowzie, that two officials from the Department of Wildlife
Conservation (DWLC) will accompany night train drivers in order to
prevent the deaths of elephants crossing the rail tracks.
six to eight elephants have so far died due to rail track accidents
in the Habarana area this year.
to The Sunday Leader, Fowzie said the safety of elephants was of
great importance as their numbers were fast dwindling. " It is
a big problem," he
DWLC has six to eight officials working on a roster basis to travel
on the night trains.
Director, DWLC, Dayananda Kariyawasam said at present they have
managed to prevent elephants being knocked down by trains. "The
department officials are doing their best to prevent the killing of
jumbos. This is why they undertake night travel on trains which run
through jumbo terrain. Two officials travel on the train route of
Habarana, Kantale and Gal Oya while another two officials accompany
the driver on the Habarana to Minneriya route.
drivers have been instructed to reduce speed when passing areas
where elephants are likely to cross the track," Kariyawasam
further added that in Habarana due to jeep drivers taking tourists
to see elephants resulted in elephants crossing the rail track
unexpectedly. "When new grass grows in the Habarana and Kantale
forest areas elephants come to eat the grass. Jeep drivers make use
of this opportunity to take tourists to see elephants at such times,
even though they are not supposed to take tourists to these
areas," explained Kariyawasam.
in transporting prisoners to courts
authorities want more Black Marias
is a shortage of 'Black Marias,'
the nickname used for prison buses to transport prisoners to
courthouses. Prison authorities have urged the government to
increase the number of buses to avoid mishaps and killings amongst
more than 200 prisoners are transported to courthouses islandwide
each day, 'The Black Maria' has now become the center of much
controversy with the latest killing of underworld member 'Rizwan' on
September 2 which police claim was due to two rival gangs being
forced into one vehicle. "The Black Maria could transport only
60 prisoners but today due to the lack of buses, more than 80
prisoners are forced into one bus.
leads to rival prisoners travelling in one bus which leads to fights
or killings inside the Black Maria," Director, Training,
Prisons, M. P. Sarath Chandra said.
further added that due to an increase in such crimes, separate vans
are now being used to transport the prisoners.
authorities claim that while 'Black Maria' has attracted much fame
worldwide, in Sri Lanka however, the name was fast fading due to a
'correctional' pattern being introduced. "We avoid terming the
buses 'The Black Maria' as it was a term used for buses which had
separate cells built within. It was a large bus, black in colour,
said Sarath Chandra .
the earlier days when The Black Maria travelled on the roads, a
fearful image was created in the minds of the public as it was a
black bus with chains and cells transporting criminals. However, we
want to change that image as prisoners are humans too," he
'Black Maria' was the nickname for secure police vans with separate
locked cubicles used for the transportation of prisoners. The name
is said to have come from a large and powerful black lodging house
keeper named Maria Lee, who helped constables of Boston,
Massachusettes in the 1830s when they needed to escort criminals to
to history, Maria Lee kept a boarding house in the 1820s with such
severity that she became more feared than the police who called on
her to help them catch and restrain criminals.
The name 'Black Maria' almost certainly became attached to
she was well-known, black, and was named Maria.
first reference to such a vehicle was in New York in 1835.
New York Transcript of December 24, 1835 said "A man named
Henry Stage ... contrived to make his escape on Saturday last while
on his way from Bellevue prison to the city in the carriage
generally known as 'Black Maria'.
dream yet to come true
the death of yet another dance maestro, Panibharatha, Sri Lankans
are reminded sharply that the rich legacy of dance in the country
must be preserved, and that we are all responsible for it.
of the key steps to this end is the finalising of the Chitrasena
Dance School, one of maestro Chitrasena's lifelong dreams and
something the master and his family have been striving to achieve
land for the project was donated by the government in '98 and is at
Narahenpita. However beyond one fund-raiser at Barefoot that barely
raised a million rupees, despite prominent artistes donating a
painting each for sale, no other funds were received.
have currently built a temporary structure and plan to move our
school there in January, but the floor is yet to be completed due to
shortage of funds," Upekha, Chitrasena's daughter and a
prominent dancer said.
to Upekha the proposal was drawn in 2001 and needs to be changed
because prices have sky rocketed since then.
granddaughter, Heshma Wignarajah, a dancer herself, is currently
handling most of the project matters including fund-raising.
"We are looking at a project of between Rs. 70-100
million," Wignarajah said.
fund-raiser would be held next January 26 to mark Chitrasena's
birthday. Wignarajah said they were looking mainly at local
corporates for help.
not for my grandfather there wouldn't be a stage component to dance
in this country."
Everyone who has excelled afterwards has done so because of
him," she said, adding that dance lovers and artistes could
also join the effort.
grandfather wanted it to be a school for the people. He even didn't
want to charge a fee, so we're also hoping for public
participation," she said. However, paradoxically, Heshma said
Chitrasena later discovered that people only attended classes if a
fee was charged. "They don't seem to value things when given
free, therefore a nominal fee was charged," she said.
school which is currently at the Girl's Friendly Society would be
shifted to the new - though a temporary, structure in Narahenpita -
early January next year.
dumps garbage power plan
Municipal Council's ambitious plans to generate power using solid
waste are not materialising due to the court battle between the CMC
and Burns Environmental Pvt. Ltd., says Deputy Mayor, Azath Sally.
said while the local body had to institute action against the
company for its failure to fulfil contractual obligations, it was
equally necessary for the CMC to generate either power or money by
using the mounds of garbage which gets piled up at the Bloemendhal
have put our plans on hold until the court gives a ruling," he
told The Sunday Leader.
said that tonnes of solid waste were being daily dumped in an open
place. "All the accumulated garbage is collected from the city
and dumped at Bloemendhal Road. It is not the best picture for us to
paint," he said.
CMC is reconsidering the
location and would like to move, but before that they want to
have the green light to award the contract to a company which could
recycle garbage for the CMC.
are serious about generating power from the waste," he said,
adding that the amount of waste produced in Colombo on a daily basis
was sufficient to provide power to about 20% of the city population.
"We haven't started on any proposals yet. All we know is it
would be both technically and financially viable if we come up with
a proper plan," he added.
enthused that investors would support such a project, as it would be
one of the most useful methods of benefiting from the city waste.
to view Forsaken Land
Forsaken Land, the movie that won the Camera d'Or Award at the 58th
Cannes Film Festival was screened in Sri Lanka from September
film created a furore in the country due to some sex related scenes.
National Film Corporation has now suspended the screening of
the film from September 22.
to The Sunday Leader, producer of the movie, Upul Shantha Sannasgala
said the Film Corporation has suspended the screening of the movie
without giving any clear reasons for their decision. He explained
that according to the corporation's circular OD/PEN 187, a film
could be screened if the hall is filled to at least 25% of the
seating capacity and The Forsaken Land number of viewers exceeded
observed that even if the corporation were to stop screening
it has to be conveyed in writing at least a month earlier.
this case, the corporation had faxed a letter to Sannasgala on
September 21 stating that the film would not be screened from the
following day, September 22.
to Sannasagala, if the movie was unfit for public viewing, then such
scenes should have been edited by the Censor Board.
Censor Board should not have approved the film, if it was bad for
charged that the corporation's decision has violated his rights as
well as that of the Director, Vimukthi Jayasundera.
investment is at stake and Vimukthi's future in the film industry is
also at stake," he said.
on Thursday resorted to take legal action to find a settlement to
HC refuses transit visas
Lankans who have found employment in Bermuda and granted visas are
unable to travel as the British High Commission is refusing to issue
an airside transit visa to Britain.
20 carpenters and masons who have received letters of appointment
from a company in Bermuda are still awaiting airside visas from the
British High Commission to travel.
is a British colony and one can travel to the country only via the
London Gatwick Airport. The British High Commission has already
served them with a three-month employment visa to Bermuda but is
refusing to issue an airside visa through the United Kingdom.
the transit time is around three hours and the persons are not
allowed to leave the airport.
persons have repeatedly applied for visas and have been turned down
by VFS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., the agent appointed by the High Commission
to issue British visas.
Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.
in its letter of refusal and only says that they are not satisfied
that the applicants qualify for the visa.
British High Commission when contacted said that the refusal is the
decision of the High Commission and "cannot comment on
heart clinic in Colombo
in an age when four persons out of 10 are prone to heart disease or
high levels of stress causing heart disease, there is little wonder
as to why the world considered it important to devote a day to
discuss concerns of the heart.
any other country, Sri Lanka too would celebrate World Heart Day
commemorate this day, the Sri Lanka Heart Association and the Sri
Lanka Heart Federation are having a one-day heart clinic at
Wanathamulla, Baseline Avenue, Dematagoda today.
to The Sunday Leader Coordinator for this project, Dr. Ranjan
Fernando explained that there would be five cardiologists from the
Colombo National Hospital and doctors from the Municipal Medical
Division (MMD) would be working together to create more awareness
with regard to heart disease and on how to maintain good health to
avoid heart problems.
short, to keep one's heart devoid of heartaches that has a terrible
impact on health.
laboratory facilities for the programme would be provided by the
Asha Central Hospital and Asiri Hospital.
Fernando said they would have the clinic open today from around 8
a.m. till afternoon and hope to take in about 200 persons.
more people arrive, they too would be assisted and told what further
action should be take to rectify their heart problems, if diagnosed.
persons can vote, if registered
grama seva niladharis will have the ultimate say in the voting
rights of the tsunami displaced people, according to election
monitoring body People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL).
Chief Kingsley Rodrigo says that following representations made to
the Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake it has been decided
that all tsunami affected people who have been displaced will have
to register themselves direct with the Elections Department.
the case of missing or dead people the polling cards would be marked
as dead. However if a person receives his polling card marked as
dead and is still alive and wants to vote he could present his
polling card to the grama seva niladhari of his area to certify his
people do not have their identity cards or birth certificates and
only a grama seva niladhari can attest their identity," Rodrigo
said many Muslims displaced from the
Mannar and Jaffna districts due to the war and now living in
the Puttalam District, have no voting rights and added that it has
for these people to vote in their respective district, if
the new voters among the displaced Muslims will be registered in
to register new voters will have to be made by October 25, he said.
also said independent election monitors were concerned that there
will be no Police Commission to control the violence that may erupt
following the presidential election.
said the issue was taken up with the Elections Commissioner and
IGP Chandra Fernando, last Wednesday.
to the PAFFREL Chief the term of the National Police Commission
expires on November 25, and if its term is not extended there will
be no police authority to contain the violence.
for mid-day meal to school children under utilised
funds allocated to the Education Ministry for the distribution of
free mid day meal to school children and not used for that purpose
would be returned to the Treasury, highly placed sources said.
Treasury has allocated a sum of Rs. 200 million for the year 2005,
but sources say, as the government could not utilise this allocation
specially meant for the distribution of the free mid day
meal, a portion of this amount would be taken back by the Treasury.
2003, the then UNF government launched a scheme to provide free a
mid-day meal to school children and the Treasury allocated a sum of
Rs. 50 million. However only Rs. 43 million was used.
then government also invited the World Food Programme (WFP) to
donate free meals to school children and the WFP in turn donated
rice and curry to the children.
Treasury allocated Rs. 200 million for this year but sources say the
present government could not expand this programme
to utilise the allocated funds.
1994, the distribution of free meals took place and after the
People's Alliance (PA) government came to power, this programme was
abolished. Once again the UNF government re-launched it in 2003. But
after the UPFA came to power, this programme could not be
enhanced by the government," sources from the Education
to official figures, there are four million upper school children
and two million primary school children in Sri Lanka.