Pillayan faces defeat at first council
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, and
With the UPFA reduced to a minority in
the Eastern Provincial Council following the
resignation of three Muslim members headed
by M.L.A.M. Hizbullah, the opposition was
considering the possibility of defeating the
administration at the first council meeting.
The UNP, SLMC and the three member group
led by Hizbullah charged that Friday’s
appointment of Pillayan as chief minister
for the Eastern Province was
unconstitutional since he did not command a
majority in the council and that the
possibility of defeating the UPFA at the
first council meeting was under active
The crisis in the UPFA exploded on Friday
when Hizbullah wrote to the Eastern Province
Governor, Mohan Wijewickrema stating he
along with two other members would function
as a separate group in the council under
In the letter to Wijewickrema, Hizbullah
has stated that the trio had not given their
consent to the UPFA to appoint any nominee
other than Hizbullah as chief minister and
has also drawn attention to the fact that
the UPFA did not command the majority in the
council without the support of the three
President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday
morning had met Hizbullah to discuss the
crisis on the appointment of the chief
Rajapakse had informed Hizbullah that
Pillayan had to be appointed as the chief
minister. Hizbullah after refusing to accept
the President’s decision had also turned
down Rajapakse’s offer to appoint Pillayan
as chief minister for a period of two and a
half years and Hizbullah for the remaining
two and a half years.
Hizbullah told The Sunday Leader
that at the meeting with the President he
had requested Rajapakse to honour his
pre-election pledge of appointing a nominee
from the group that returned the highest
number of members to the council.
"We asked him to give the post to us and
said it was not right to appoint Pillayan.
But the President said he had to appoint
Pillayan," he said.
Hizbullah said Pillayan’s appointment was
unconstitutional, as the UPFA has now been
reduced to a minority in the Eastern
Provincial Council. "The majority is now
with the opposition," he said.
Hizbullah also said that they were now
discussing the next course of action and
said defeating the government at the first
council sitting was a possibility.
Meanwhile, UNP General Secretary, Tissa
Attanayake told The Sunday Leader
that the appointment of the chief minister
to the Eastern Provincial Council was
Attanayake said that Pillayan’s
appointment, as the chief minister was
unconstitutional since the opposition held
the majority in the council.
"As usual, the Mahinda Rajapakse
administration has failed to abide by the
law and the appointment of the chief
minister has been done against the
Provincial Councils Act. The UPFA won only
18 seats and since M.L.A.M. Hizbullah has
now withdrawn his support to the UPFA with
two other members they are not entitled to
the two bonus seats. In this backdrop how
could the President appoint a minority
member as the Chief Minister," Attanayake
When queried whether there were plans to
hold negotiations with Hizbullah, Attanayake
said that the party has so far not decided
Prabath wins CKE deal
By Arthur Wamanan
The government last week signed a US$ 310
million agreement with a Chinese company to
construct the Colombo-Katunayake expressway.
The agreement to construct the 25.6 km
expressway funded by China was signed
between the Road Development Authority and
the Metallurgical Construction Company (MCC)
of China on May 14.
In terms of the agreement, construction
is to begin within 60 days and the project
completed by 2012.
The four-lane expressway between Colombo
and Katunayake will have two interchanges at
Kerawalapitiya and Peliyagoda, which is
expected to reduce the travel time from
Colombo to the airport to 20 minutes.
Prior to the signing of this agreement,
there were many false starts to the
construction of the Colombo-Katunayake
The Sunday Leader learns the Sri
Lankan man behind MCC of China is Prabath
Nanayakkara who earlier had a bruising
battle with Senior Presidential Advisor,
Basil Rajapakse for the Hambantota Port
project and emerged victorious.
Earlier, a businessman of Sri Lankan
origin based in China, Bandula Weerawardhana
lobbied for the Colombo-Katunayake
expressway project through another Chinese
Contacted by The Sunday Leader,
Weerawardhana said, though he is involved
with MCC in China he was not involved in the
Sri Lankan project.
Prior to the current award a close
relative of the first family was involved in
the project through a French company, but it
failed due to lack of finances.
The foundation stone for the Colombo-Katunayake
expressway was first laid in 1967.
opposes UNHRC seat for Lanka
Nobel peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu
of South Africa has said that Sri Lanka does
not deserve a seat in the UN Human Rights
Council due to its worsening human rights
"In the entire world, Sri Lanka stands
out as the most clearly unqualified state
seeking election to the council this year,
and the place where things are getting
unambiguously worse," he wrote in a opinion
column that appeared on the web site of the
Guardian Newspaper in UK on May 15.
Sri Lanka is heavily canvassing to retain
its seat in the 47 member council with Human
Rights and Disaster Management Minister
Mahinda Samarasinghe leading a high ranking
delegation to Geneva recently to lobby other
Before Bishop’s Tutu’s opinion piece
international human rights groups like Human
Rights Watch and Amnesty International too
had said that Sri Lanka should not get a
seat in the council. The re-election vote
will be held on May 21.
"Defeating the Sri Lankan candidacy would
be a comfort to the people of Sri Lanka. It
would place international pressure on the
government to respect human rights, and to
accept a UN human rights monitoring mission,
which it has stubbornly refused.
"It would help make the council a place
where true human rights leaders in all
regions can help lead the world towards
greater respect for human life and human
dignity. An outcome, in short, that would
benefit those who care about human rights in
the world. Any other result would be a
travesty," Bishop Tutu wrote.
He said that the country’s human rights
record had worsened after joining the
council two years back. "Sri Lanka has
failed to honour its pledges of upholding
human rights standards and cooperating with
the UN since joining the council two years
ago. Indeed, its human rights record has
worsened during that time. The Sri Lankan
idea of cooperation with the UN, meanwhile,
has been to condemn senior UN officials
(including the high commissioner for human
rights, Louise Arbour, and the under
secretary general for humanitarian affairs,
John Holmes) as "terrorists" or "terrorist
He also blamed the government as well as
the Tigers for abuses — "The systematic
abuses by Sri Lankan government forces are
among the most serious imaginable.
Government security forces summarily remove
their own citizens from their homes and
families in the middle of the night, never
to be heard from again. Torture and extra
judicial killings are widespread. When the
Human Rights Council was established, UN
members required that states elected must
themselves "uphold the highest standards" of
human rights. On that count, Sri Lanka is
The separatist Tamil Tigers have used
despicable tactics in their war against the
government, including frequent suicide
bombings. But that can in no way excuse the
scale of government abuses, the Bishop has
restrictions back in Muttur
Fishing restrictions in Muttur that were
relaxed just before the provincial council
elections have been re-imposed soon after
the results were announced.
Fishermen in the area said they had not
gone fishing since May 11.
Fishermen in Muttur told The Sunday
Leader that the naval authorities at the
jetty had informed them that they could not
allow them to fish due to ‘orders from
The fishermen said that they were not
even allowed to step into the beach.
Government lost the Muttur electorate by
a large margin at the eastern provincial
poll and the fishermen were harassed as a
result Muslim Congress Leader Rauf Hakeem
told The Sunday Leader.
The fishermen stated that around 2,000
families have been affected due to the
restrictions being re-imposed.
The restrictions were relaxed 10 to 15
days before the provincial council elections
that was held on May 10, according to the
fishermen in the area.
Officials at the Muttur Divisional
Secretary, who did not wish to be quoted,
said that the fishermen were not allowed
into the waters despite the restrictions
being relaxed just before the polls.
The officials also said the restrictions
had affected fishing in the whole of
Trincomalee. Military Spokesperson Brigadier
Udaya Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader
that there were no restrictions in
Muttur, but the fishermen were not allowed
into the harbour area.
Bomb blast will affect
tourism say city hoteliers
By Nirmala Kannangara
Friday’s suicide bomb attack on a police
bus in the neighbourhood of the Hilton and
Galadari Hotels in Colombo will affect the
leisure industry further, city hoteliers
Hoteliers expressed mixed reactions as to
the effect of Friday’s bomb blast on the
tourism industry which killed more than 10
persons. Meanwhile some in the industry
expressed doubts as to whether such acts
could cause any further negative effects on
the industry since the city hotels were
already suffering due to low occupancy
President, City Hotels Association and
Director Operations, Holiday Inn Hotel, M.
Shanthikumar is of the view that since no
foreign tourists were injured in the blast
there would not be any severe repercussions
on the industry. "This was targeted at the
security personnel and not the civilians
although they too were injured,"
Shanthikumar told The Sunday Leader.
Meanwhile, General Manager, Galadari
Hotel, Sampath Siriwardena told The
Sunday Leader that although the
explosion took place in the neighbourhood
there was no panic among the hotel guests.
"This has become a familiar occurrence
now and hence this did not affect the local
guests. Luckily, even the foreign guests too
did not panic. However if this blast catches
the headlines of foreign newspapers then it
would no doubt affect the industry,"
According to Siriwardena, the hotel had
not received any cancellations or inquiries
from tour operators abroad up to Friday
"It is too early to say whether there
would be any cancellations, but definitely
the industry would further suffer as the
occupancy rates in city hotels have declined
considerably in comparison to the previous
years," said Siriwardena.
However, General Manager Marketing, Ocean
View Resorts, Ranjaka de Mel told The
Sunday Leader that it was high time
the relevant authorities sent messages to
their counterparts in tourism generating
markets that this attack was targeted on the
"The BBC reported the venue as opposite
Hilton Hotel which would create a fear
psychosis among travellers. We have
undergone worse situations earlier but have
been able to bounce back. Likewise although
this would have a bad impact on the industry
we can overcome the situation if no more
incidents of such nature occur in the
commercial hub," De Mel said.
According to De Mel although the country
was able to attract more tour operators at
the recent Travel Mart in Dubai still there
were many inquiries about the ground
"That was at a time when the Colombo
situation was peaceful. But with these
latest incidents we would receive more
inquiries from the tour operators before
forward bookings are made," De Mel further
All attempts by The Sunday Leader
to contact the Hilton and Continental Hotels
for a comment on the incident failed.
Owner of Fort suicide
bike from TMVP
The police on Friday arrested the owner
of the motorbike suspected to have been used
in the suicide bomb attack in Fort.
The motorbike registered in the eastern
province bearing number EP MX 3875 was
reported to be owned by a man identified as
It is reported that Jana, a Tamil
resident from Trincomalee is a member of the
Pillayan-led TMVP. Contacted by The Sunday
Leader, the Trincomalee police declined to
give details of the arrest of the owner of
the motorbike. However, an official at
Senior DIG N.K. Illangakoon’s office told
The Sunday Leader though one suspect had
been arrested in Trincomalee, the police was
not in a position to give his party
affiliation. The Sinhala daily Lankadeepa on
Saturday quoting the police said the owner
of the motorbike was a TMVP cadre.
Tension gripped the eastern province
yesterday with Muslims in Kathankudi staging
a harthal against the appointment of TMVP
leader Pillayan as the Chief Minister.
Reports from the east said that Muslims
had put up shutters and called for a harthal
in Kathankudi, Eravur and Vaalaichenai.
Tension mounted after police directed the
shops to reopen with at least one incident
of an attack on a bus reported from the
area. Black flags had also come up in the
The Sunday Leader learns the Muslim
religious leaders in the area were meeting
in the mosque yesterday afternoon to diffuse
the tension and ensure the dispute will not
snowball into communal clashes.
Meanwhile the government was also holding
negotiations with the Hizbullah group and
Ministers Reshard Bathiudeen and Ameer Ali
to resolve the crisis over Pillayan’s
appointment as the Chief Minister.
Issuing tickets in
buses compulsory from August 1
By Risidra Mendis
The National Transport Commission (NTC)
will strictly enforce the issuing of tickets
in long distance buses from August 1.
According to the NTC, issuing of tickets
in long distant buses will be made
compulsory from August 1, and action will be
taken against those who do not comply with
Speaking to The Sunday Leader
Chairman, NTC, Prof. Amal Kumarage said
private bus owners will have to purchase
special electronic ticket machines from
which tickets could be issued to commuters.
"Private bus owners can purchase these
electronic ticket machines from registered
suppliers. Special financing facilities can
be obtained by bus owners from these
registered suppliers," Prof. Kumarage said.
Kumarage added that there are many
advantages when using the electronic ticket
machines. "The time when the passenger got
into the bus, the number of the bus, the bus
route and other important information will
be printed on the ticket," Prof. Kumarage
According to Prof. Kumarage the NTC
flying squad will be deployed to catch bus
drivers and conductors who don’t issue
tickets to commuters.
Liquor shops to
close for Vesak
By Shezna Shums
The Excise Department has stated that all
liquor shops would be closed from May 18 -
20 for Vesak.
Commissioner General of Excise,
W.Hapuarachchi told The Sunday Leader
that all shops selling, manufacturing and
serving liquor have to close during the
three day period.
Special raids will be conducted
islandwide by the Excise Department from May
15 -22 targeting illicit manufactures and
The last time the Excise Department
carried out a special raid was during the
Sinhala New Year festival period.
During this special raid the Excise
Department confiscated items to the value of
Rs. 30 to 40 million.
Both alcohol as well as illicit brews
were confiscated by the department during
Teachers to stop A/L
By Nirmala kannangara
Government A/L teachers are to abstain
from applying for exam paper evaluation in
2008, Ceylon Teacher Services Union (CTSU)
Government’s failure to rectify the
longstanding salary anomalies in the
principal and teacher services created by
Salary Circular No.2006/06 has compelled the
A/L teachers to abstain from applying for
paper evaluation, General Secretary CTSU
Mahinda Jayasinghe told The Sunday
"We have been requesting the government
and the Education Ministry to rectify the
salary anomalies of the principal and
teacher services since August 2007. Although
many promises were made by the government
our demand has still not been met," added
Jayasinghe. The government teachers would
take a decision on its future course of
action at the joint trade union meeting
scheduled for this week, according to
"Even last August we boycotted the A/L
paper evaluation but had to call it off due
to a court ruling. Once we abstain from
submitting our applications for the paper
evaluation the Education Ministry would not
be able to take any legal action against the
teachers," Jayasinghe stated.
"In order to obtain a favourable solution
we wrote to President Mahinda Rajapakse on
April 22, but to date we have neither
received an acknowledgment nor a reply. If
the Head of State is not ready to find a
solution to the problems faced by the
teacher/principal service we have no
alternative but launch trade union action to
cripple work in government schools," added
All attempts by The Sunday Leader
to contact Education Minister Susil
Premajayanth and Commissioner General of
Examinations Anura Edirisinghe for a
clarification on this matter failed.
CEB resources misused for eastern election
By Nirmala Kannangara
The misuse of Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)
property for the government’s Eastern
Provincial Council election campaign has
caused heavy losses to the Board, alleges
the JVP affiliated Lanka Viduli Sevaka
Among the allegations levelled against
the government regarding the misuse of state
property is the release of the Ampara
circuit bungalow to the Defence Ministry for
a period of one month, the deployment of
Ampara CEB employees for election work and
the release of CEB vehicles for the election
campaign The Sunday Leader learns.
Convener, LVSS, Ranjan Jayalal told
The Sunday Leader that the board has
incurred losses amounting to several lakhs
of rupees for the past one-month due to the
misuse of CEB property for the election
campaign in the Eastern Province, which
would ultimately burden the electricity
consumers in the days to come.
"Knowing that staggering losses have
already affected the CEB it is a pity that
the government is still misusing CEB
property for its benefit. By releasing the
Ampara circuit bungalow to the Defence
Ministry the Board has incurred a loss of
Rs.159,000 while the overtime payments and
fuel too have added to this colossal loss.
"Since it is the practice of the
government to pass the CEB losses to its
consumers, very soon there will be yet
another electricity tariff revision to cover
up the government’s sins," claimed Jayalal.
According to Jayalal the circuit bungalow
was given for a month from April 10 to May
11, while all the furniture and computers at
the Ampara CEB office too had been shifted
to the circuit bungalow.
"We have evidence to prove that some of
the computers that were used for election
work had been sent for repairs and it is the
same with the furniture. We wish to know
whether the Treasury would pay the repair
bills or whether it is the CEB that has to
bear the losses," queried Jayalal.
Accusing the CEB management of failing to
put a halt to the wastage, Jayalal further
said that the red-coloured Mitsubishi van
bearing registration No.51-2728 that was
taken by the Presidential Security Division
from the CEB head office for election
campaigning on May 3 too has not been
returned up to date.
However Acting General Manager CEB, K.S.P.
Jayawardena when contacted by The
Sunday Leader to ascertain why the CEB
failed to request the Defence Ministry to
settle the bill told this paper to contact
the GM for comments on the issue.
"I took over the post on May 5 and since
all these have happened prior to my
appointment please call the GM on Monday to
get the necessary information," Jayawardena
LTTE grenade attack in Vavuniya injures 17
Seventeen civilians including two
children were injured due to a grenade
attack in Vavuniya yesterday.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara told The Sunday Leader that the
attack was carried out by the LTTE at 11.10
The attack had taken place at Bazaar
Street within the Vavuniya town according to
WFP suspends food relief over theft
The World Food Programme (WFP) recently
suspended distribution of food relief in the
Echchilampaththu area in the Trincomalee
District after wheat flour stocks were
Initial investigations by the WFP had
indicated that the stocks went missing at
the Multi-purpose Co-operative Society (MPCS)
The WFP food relief is aimed at IDPs and
other affected communities and the agency
has already appealed for US$ 36 million to
gap a budgetary shortfall it is currently
The suspension was intimated by the WFP
to other relief agencies earlier this month
at the food and livelihoods security
coordination meeting held at the UN compound
in Colombo on May 2.
"WFP informed participants that 7.015 mt.
of WFP wheat flour was missing /stolen in
Eachchilampattai," the minutes of the
"WFP’s initial investigation showed
culpability rested with the MPCS. The GA’s
office was asked to investigate the matter
with the help of relevant line departments
and the police. Until the investigation
report is finalised or the missing wheat
flour is reimbursed by the relevant
authorities, WFP food distribution in
Eachchilampattai will remain suspended," the
By Shezna Shums
The local garment manufacturing industry
is losing out to more competitive
manufacturers in India, China, Bangladesh
and other apparel manufacturing countries in
The local garment industry is suffering
from the consequences of ever increasing
production costs making Sri Lankan goods
uncompetitive in the world market.
Chairman, Joint Apparel Association
Forum, Ajith Dias, told The Sunday Leader
that the recession in the United States of
America is causing a negative impact on our
"There is a reduction in our exports," he
Since Europe is Sri Lanka’s biggest
importer overall, the garment industry at
the moment is not severely affected. "We are
concentrating on the European markets," he
Nevertheless the Chairman stressed that
the main factor causing problems to the
garment industry was the increasing
inflation and the rising cost of production.
"At the moment the situation is
manageable, but we are still losing out when
it comes to competitive goods manufactured
by other countries," explained Dias.
The other factor affecting Sri Lankan
made goods is the depreciating value of the
Sri Lanka over the recent months has seen
rising electricity and fuel prices as well
as rising inflation.
The increasing cost of production is
making Sri Lankan goods less appealing when
compared to goods manufactured elsewhere in
The slump in the USA is not the main
factor causing problems to Sri Lankan
exports. The most threatening factor is the
rising cost of production which is making
local goods expensive in the world market.