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Tussle over bank ownership hots up
HNB Deputy GM manhandled at Sampath Bank

A senior Deputy General Manager (DGM) of the Hatton National Bank, who, with prior appointment went to Sampath Bank office to meet the company secretary was allegedly manhandled yesterday by a group of persons believed to be employees of Sampath.

Managing Director and Chief Executive of HNB Rienzie Wijetilaka told ‘The Island’ this was unacceptable since shareholders had to lodge proxies at the Bank this morning.

Mr. Wijetilaka said he had apprised the Mahanayaka Theros of the situation, and that the shares of Sampath were owned by mostly foreigners and not Sri Lankans.

In the meantime, he had written to the Chairman, Sampath Bank, Edgar Gunatunga and General Manager CEO protesting over the manhandling of Mr. Duleep Daluwatte, the HNB DGM. The letter sent to Sampath by the MD, HNB says:

We are addressing this communication to you as a shareholder of your Bank.

Our representative, Mr. Duleep Daluwatte, called at your Secretary’s Office today by prior appointment to examine the Share Register.

When he had reported at the entrance, he had been manhandled by some unruly elements who were gathered inside your premises. After he went to your Secretary’s Office the vehicle that was parked inside your premises had been scraped and damaged and also the tyres had been deflated. We had to summon the Emergency Police to ensure the safety of Mr. Daluwatte and to enable him to leave your premises safely.

You will appreciate that it is your paramount duty to look after the interest of the shareholders of your bank. As you are aware, the proxies for the AGM scheduled for the 30th of this month have to be filed at your Secretary’s Office before 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. You have to ensure that the shareholders or their representatives who come to the Secretary’s Office in connection with any business on their shareholding or to file the proxies are permitted to carry out their work without interference and without bodily harm.

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.


Midweek Politics
All parties in NE interim Council?

by Prasad Gunewardene
The government softened its stand towards the LTTE on Monday when it agreed with the United National Party to bring ‘all parties to the conflict’ to the proposed Interim Council for the North East. Both sides were careful not to mention the letters, "LTTE" when they reached a consensus on the participatory bodies to that council. During the past two weeks, President Chandrika Kumaratunga dismissed media reports that the government was prepared to bring the LTTE to that Council. She reiterated that the LTTE should eschew violence if it wanted to participate in the proposed interim council.

Things were different on Monday when the two sides met. The UNP and the SLMC both stressed that without the participation of all Tamil parties it would not be possible for the council to function. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told the government that if all parties were involved, the council could function smoothly. SLMC leader Ashraff pointed out that the Tamil parties like the TULF were concerned about the LTTE participation and added that if the LTTE was included, the other Tamil parties would be happy. Ashraff and Wickremesinghe were well supported by some government ministers at the table. President Kumaratunga looked unhappy but had no alternative but to listen to the views expressed in favour of the LTTE.

The two sides then discussed the issue for nearly half an hour and it was finally agreed to use the term, ’all parties to the conflict’ which makes room for LTTE participation in the council. If the LTTE is to be brought in, the question that remain for answer is whether the Tigers would stop the war to join the council. President Kumaratunga has categorically stated that the LTTE must stop the war if it wanted to enter the democratic political stream. Though there was agreement on Monday by those at the table to bring ‘all parties to the conflict’ into the interim council, the majority MPs on both sides are not happy on the attempt to bring the LTTE which is bent on war.

The two sides discussed far reaching proposals on Monday and the UNP expressed satisfaction when President Kumaratunga welcomed the establishment of three of the four independent commissions, the UNP had been campaigning for sometime. The government agreed to set up the elections, judiciary and the public service commissions but had reservations on the Police Commission. The President did not elaborate on the Police Commission but summed up the issue saying that had to be discussed after a decision on devolving power to the periphery. The UNP did not object to that position.

Minister Batty Weerakoon held a different view on the issue of the Public Service Commission that should come into effect with a new constitution. Weerakoon said it should be finalised only after a final decision was taken on the nature of the state. Both sides agreed to his view and President Kumaratunga entrusted Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and UNP’s former Minister of Constitutional Affairs, K. N. Choksy to prepare a Working Paper on the subject to be discussed today.

The PA and the UNP have now agreed on extensive devolution of power to the periphery. This time both major parties appear to have gone much beyond the Thirteenth Amendment which some Tamil parties said if fully implemented to the letter would satisfy their aspirations. It is claimed that even the proposed Interim Council to the North East have been designed to meet the aspirations of all communities living in the two provinces. The life of that Council which was earlier planned for two years is now extended to five years and it may yield desired results provided all Tamil parties support it.

The government now has no time to engage itself on another assignment to unite the Tamil parties. It is a fact that there is division amongst some Tamil parties. All these years they have demanded ‘something more’ whenever concessions were granted. Political Analysts express fear that now the Tamil parties themselves might ask for ‘something more’ when it comes to sharing power among themselves in the Council.


Erik Solheim here again

Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim arrived in Colombo yesterday to continue discussions Norway is having with the government and the LTTE to help resolve the North-East conflict.

Solheim who is on a three day visit will also hold talks with the UNP and other political parties as part of the exercise to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table.

The last time Solheim visited Sri Lanka in May the battle between the security forces and the LTTE in the Jaffna peninsula was at its peak.


AG advises CID to continue probe into identity of Town Hall bomber

by Himangi Jayasundere
The Attorney General’s Department is to advise the CID on further investigations involving the identification of the suicide bomber in the Town Hall bomb blast following a summary report sent by the Wetherby laboratory in Yorkshire, Britain, where blood samples of the suicide bomber’s head and those believed to be her family members underwent DNA testing.

Senior State Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda told the Chief Magistrates Court yesterday that further investigations will have to be conducted to verify if the head found at the blast site belonged to the suspected suicide bomber Manikkam Leela or some other person.

The summary results sent by the UK laboratory exclude the possibility that Kandappam Marimuththu, believed to be the bomber’s mother is the biological mother nor Manikkam Nallaiya, Manikkam Krishnamoorthi and Manikkam Thenganathan the full syblings of the person believed to be the suicide bomber. They have made these conclusions based on the samples taken from the head found at the site of the blast which is believed to belong to the suicide bomber, Manikkam Leela.

The state counsel told court that this further reveals that the results of the DNA test conducted earlier by Prof. Nalin Gunesekera and Dr. Maya Gunasekera of the Colombo University mutually collaborate with that of the British laboratory.

He said that further investigation were required to ascertain the identity of the suicide bomber and that the Attorney-General’s Department would advise the CID to conduct investigations on certain stipulated lines in order to ascertain the bomber’s identity.

Meanwhile Chief Magistrate and Additional District Judge, G. D. Kulatileke who is conducting the judicial inquiry observed yesterday that although 6 months have elapsed since the commencement of the inquiry, the identity of the suicide bomber has not been verified, he added that this issue should be brought to the notice of the relevant officials of the CID.

On being inquired by the Chief Magistrate, if other investigations with regard to this case will have to be suspended until the identification of the suicide bomber is verified, Mr. Kodagoda said that some investigations could be continued but the case could not be concluded without verifying the identity of the suicide bomber.

Further hearing was fixed for July 25.


‘Who is the Media Minister?’

By Kesara Abeywardena
Lake House employees staged a demonstration in Fort yesterday demanding the government to stop restructuring the institution, grant them an immediate salary increase and resume publication of the temporarily stopped Daily Observer, Janatha, Kreeda and Madura publications.

Employees belonging to the Lake House Employees Union, the Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya and the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya staged a walkout at noon and protested in front of the Lake House building for an hour.

The demonstrators carried placards and shouted slogans specially aimed at the Media Minister that read "Who is the Media Minister? Mangala, Sripathi or Ferdinandes".

General Secretary of the Lake House Employees Union, Dharmasiri Lankaperli said that the management had signed a collective agreement with the employees six months ago that promised a salary increase which had not materialised yet. He said the employees were demanding an immediate increase due to the rising cost of living.

Speaking about the restructuring of ANCL he said that it would lead to a retrenchment of the staff while paving way for a gradual privatisation to which they were against. He also said that the unions were asking the management to resume publication of the temporarily stopped two evening dailies the Observer and the Jantha and the two weeklies Kreeda and Madura.


Trial in absentia

GALLE: The Morawaka Magistrate and Additional District Judge C. Rajapakse ordered a case to be heard in the absence of the accused as he was evading police arrest. In this case an attendant of the Morawaka district hospital was charged with giving an injection of poisonous matter to a nurse causing her death. The victim was also serving in the same hospital. The suspect is reported to have gone abroad.

An open warrant was issued for the arrest of the suspect. The incident occurred in October 1998. Eight persons have already given evidence with one more witness to be cross-examined. The case will be resumed on June 30.


Grenade thrown at SCF building

A hand grenade has been hurled at the building housing the "Save the Children’s Fund" organisation at Barnes Place, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo yesterday (27) morning causing damage to a vehicle parked in the premises, Cinnamon Gardens police said.

According to police the persons who had hurled the bomb had arrived at the scene on a motor cycle.

Cinnamon Gardens police are conducting further investigations. (NP)


PA, UNP agree on modalities of Interim Council composition

by Prasad Gunewardene
President Chandrika Kumaratunga will appoint the Chief Minister, Ministers and members to the proposed North East Interim Council once the parties that wish to be represented in the council forward their list of names on a district basis in the two provinces, official sources said yesterday.

The sources said the President disclosed this decision when her government delegation met the UNP delegation led by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for talks on the constitutional process on Monday at Temple Trees.

However, it is learnt that the UNP would today propose to the President when they meet again that the President should also consult the Opposition Leader when appointments are made to the Interim Council.

On Monday the two sides decided to open the membership of the proposed council to all parties to the conflict who were willing to join that administration.

The sources said the total number that would represent the Council will be the same as that of the former North East Provincial Council.

The statute of the Council shall require the assent of the Governor and the Governor shall reserve any statute for reference to the Supreme Court through the President.

The sources said the Sinhala and Muslim communities living in the East would be guaranteed a minimum number of ministerial portfolios in the Council to ensure equality in the administration of the two provinces.

A referendum to be held after five years in the East will decide on the merger or whether it should remain as two separate regions.

According to these sources if the ground situation is not conducive for a referendum to be held, the matter would be referred to the Constitutional Council which will decide on the issue.

At Monday’s talks on land matters, it was agreed by both sides that national forests, tea, rubber, coconut plantations and the shore line will be under the Central Government. Land distribution and settlement schemes within the regions and under the regions would be done according to a National Policy laid down by a Land Council that would be set up.

The two parties also discussed the question where the Centre or the Region require land under the control of the other and agreed to refer such disputes to the Land Council.

UNP’s K. N. Choksy moved that the decision of the Land Council should be final and not subject to be tried before court.

The two delegations will meet again this morning to discuss the nature of the state and the setting up of the three independent commissions on Elections, Judiciary and the Public Service.

Minister G. L. Peiris and UNP Constitutional Expert K. N. Choksy are expected to present a working paper on the nature of the state for discussion today after which the modalities of setting up an independent Public Service Commission would be discussed.


Pensioners cry for more allowances

Gokarella Corr.
Pensioners in the Hiriyala area complain that they are in a sorry plight.

According to them, anomalies in their salaries have not been rectified. They request the responsible authorities either to adjust them or to grant an interim allowance.

"A person who went on pension in 1972 gets Rs. 3,200, those who retired in 1984 gets Rs. 6,000 and while in 1999 a pensioner gets Rs. 9,000. We spent our whole life for the state service. We were unable to save anything for our children. Now we are not in a position to make both ends meet with the meagre pension we get. We kindly request the government to look into our plight and take action to grant us some sort of relief," some pensioners in Gokarella told "The Island".


Foreign exchange reserves sufficient to cover 20 weeks of imports – CB

The Special Media Information Centre SMIC yesterday stated that the lead story of yesterday’s ‘The Island’ titled," Foreign exchange reserves only for 10 weeks" was incorrect.

Following is the full text of the SMIC release:

The news item under the caption "Foreign exchange reserves for only 10 weeks" published on the front page of "The Island" paper on Monday 26 June 2000 is incorrect. It says that foreign exchange reserves, which include reserve, held by the Central Bank, the Government and the Commercial Banks, as at April were estimated at US Dollars 2,537 Million. The value of food imports for this year would be around US Dollars 7,000 million. The weekly average value of food import is around US Dollars 13.5 Million. Therefore the level of reserves is sufficient to cover food imports for 188 weeks. The gross official reserves, which include the reserves held by the Central Bank and the Government, currently stand at US Dollars 1,383 Million, are sufficient to cover 102 weeks of food imports.

However, it should be mentioned that the country imports not only food, but many other items as well. The value of total imports this year, including airplanes for Sri Lanka Air lines for which financing has been arranged is projected at US Dollars 6,600 Million. The value of one week’s imports is, therefore US Dollars 127 million. Accordingly, the country’s total foreign reserves are sufficient to finance about 20 weeks in imports, not 10 weeks as incorrectly highlighted in "The Island" newspapers. The official foreign reserves are sufficient to cover 11 weeks of total imports.

The news item also indicate that dollar value of export has declined. It should be pointed out that although there was a decline in the US dollar value of export in 1999, exports have recovered and registered a growth of 21 per cent during the first four months of this year compared with first four months of 1999.

There is no truth whatsoever in the report that the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, A. S. Jayawardena, has tendered his resignation as reported in the same newspaper.


Compensation still not paid to ‘83 victims

Deraniyagala Corr.
Tamils in and around Deraniyagala are disappointed over the failure of the government to pay them compensation for loss of property during the racial riots of 1983.

The Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction called for applications from the victims several years ago which was complied with, they say including the Police report. Although the attention of the Ministry was drawn by these victims, on several occasions, there was no response, it is alleged.

Since of late Additional Private Secretary to Minister Ashraff has written to one of the victims to forward a police report to which the victim had answered that the Report was forwarded with the application and it is not possible to obtain an additional copy after a lapse of seventeen years. The victim has also pointed out that the police destroy all documents every five years and if necessary a fresh complaint could be made provided the Ministry entertains it. But to his surprise, he had not received a reply todate although the reply was sent by him about six months ago.

In the meantime, the Bank of Ceylon which loaned funds to reconstruct the damaged property has threatened to take legal action if the loan is not repaid.

Victims insist that the Government either to pay compensation early of waive off the loan against compensation payable.


Sunday Leader ban reduced by four months

President Chandrika Kumaratunga has yesterday issued directives to the Competent Authority that the six month ban imposed on M/s Leader Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. be reduced by four months. Accordingly the ban originally imposed on 22nd May 2000 for violating the Emergency Regulation No. 1 of 2000 will expire 31st July 2000, a release from the Special Media Information Centre said.

The release further stated: The Competent Authority Ariya Rubesinghe acting under the powers vested in him under Section 14 had made the order for the closure of the printing press of the M/s Leader Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. at No. 24, Katukurunduwatta Rd, Ratmalana for the period of six months from 22nd May to 21st November 2000 for publication made in contravention of the directives given under the Regulation 14 of the Emergency Regulation No. 1 of 2000.

The proprietor of the said publication had made an appeal to the Advisory Committee appointed by President under the said regulation seeking the revocation of the prohibition order.

The Advisory Committee on hearing the submission made by the owners of the Leader Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. had recommended to the President that the six months ban be reduced to three months.

President Kumaratunga in considering the recommendation of the Advisory Committee further acting has issued directives to the Competent Authority that ban on M/s Leader Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. be lifted with effective from 31st July 2000 after a period of two months and 10 days.


Temples of Devinuwara show Buddhist-Hindu connections

Colombo East-West Group Corr.

Prof. C. Pathmanathan of Peradeniya University in his lecture on ‘Temples of Devinuvara’ at the Ramakrishna Mission Hall, Wellawatte Saturday said that king Dappula I built the Upulvan Devala and the Buddhist shrine Kehireli Vihara. Parakramabahu II became the leading patron of both shrines the Upulvan Devala and the Kehireli Vihara. During his reign Devinuvara was a flourishing port and a trade centre, with the port being administered by Maha Pandita, the Chief Customs Official. Parakramabahu I, Nissankamalla and the several kings that followed and other royal personages patronised both Hindu and Buddhist shrines there.

In addition to the Upulvan Devala which was said to be the abode of a Buddhist god there were the Hindu Kovils like Ganesha Kovila, Nagarisa Kovila and later the Kataragama Kovila and Pattini Kovila. The kings treated the Buddhist and Hindu shrines with parity.

Inscriptions set up at Naimana and in the city of Devinuvara by Prakramabahu VI indicate the Buddhist and Hindu connections. So was the inscription by Vijayabahu VI. There was always religious amity attached to Devinuvara. Devinuvara was responsible for setting up the Aluthnuvara Devala in the Kegalle District in the reign of Parakramabahu IV.

Even trade in the city of Devinuvara and its port was carried out by the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Arabs and other communities.

Of course the Tissara, Mayura, Parevi and Kokila Sandesas treat Upulvan as a Buddhist god. Perakumbasiritha too gives the same impression. After the Portuguese devastation the new shrine that had come up was the abode of the Hindu god Vishnu. However there is a debate about the meaning of Upulvan or Utpalavarna.

Even in Polonnaruwa and other capitals there were Buddhist shrines side by side with Hindu shrines. Hence it is clear that the kings did not discriminate against the Hindu religion. What has to be learnt from the Devinuvara experience is that there had been religious tolerance and amity in the royalty and the people as well. Mr. P. P. Devaraja MP for Colombo presided.


Over 2000 teachers await appointments

KALUTARA: The teachers who have completed their intern-ships in December 1999 at the colleges of education have not been given appointments by the Department of Education.

At present there are more than two thousand teachers who have completed two years training as residential trainee teachers plus one year internship by December 1999 and are still awaiting permanent appointments in schools.

Several trainee teachers who had completed the three year training course at the colleges of education said that already six months have elapsed but they have not been given appointments. As a result they are frustrated and they requested the Minister of Education and Higher Education to look into the delay in making appointments. According to the Zonal Director of Education Kalutara there are many vacancies for English teachers specially in rural areas.


New road constructed at a cost of rupees 40 lakhs

Kataragama Vedihitikanda Viharadhipathi Rev. Ratmalane Siddhartha Thero observed that construction works of the new motorable road to Vedihitikanda is nearing completion.

After completing the construction of this new road the pilgrims would be able to travel to the summit of the Vedihitikanda by vehicles without any obstruction, Siddhartha Thero said.

A sum of Rs. 40 lakhs has been spent for the construction of this new motorable road.


Students stage march for environmental protection

Matara Corr. :Recently the students of Dharmaraja Vidyalaya, Hittatiya, Matara marched along the Akuressa road carrying posters displaying slogans to promote environmental protection to commemorate the World Environmental Week.

The march culminated in a demonstration in front of a large building next to their school which is used as a store house for stocking cement. The school children accompanied by their Principal and teachers were chanting slogans for about an hour. According to people who live in the vicinity the cement store has become a health problem to the school children.

The Principal K. H. Bandulasoma said that the demonstration is not aimed at any person or persons but to make the authorities aware of air polution conditions that the children have to undergo each day that the store functions.

On some days thousands of bags of cement are unloaded. This produces a thick dust which floats in air and gets into class rooms of the school making it impossible to conduct classes.

By this protest demonstration the children and the school staff earnestly hope that the authorities responsible would make some alternative arrangement to save the school children from this sad plight, the Principal said.


PS member deplores actions of PA government

RATNAPURA: Sextus Arsakularatna J.P member of the Dehiowita Pradeshiya Sabha and the chief organiser of the U.N.P. in the area, on behalf of the Dehiowita Balamandalaya has sent a letter to UNP leader and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe assuring him of his solidarity with the party in its forward march.

The letter dated 15th June states that the PA government which captured power with false promises and vote rigging at the general election has lost the confidence of the people. Today the PA government has resorted to suppressing the people and pushing them to an economic ruin by raising the price of fuel and other essential goods. These measures were not adopted even during the World War II.

When the price of oil dropped sharply at the world market the PA government instead of reducing the price enjoyed the benefits of the profits in millions. Today when the price of oil in the world market is reduced the oil price has been raised plundering the public.

The PA which is an achcharu government has failed to deliver the goods. In its five year rule it has spent billions of rupees which amount was not spent under the UNP’s 17 year rule. Also the PA government has paved way to the LTTE to capture and confiscate millions of rupees worth heavy arms from our forces. We lost not only ships and helicopters but invaluable lives in thousands.

Today the people are turning to you for redress. It is only you as a responsible leader who can save this country.

We should submit to the people our future plans to end the war, develop the economy under a strong government with a clear-cut policy. To do this we should have dedicated party men to spread your policy decisions at the grassroot level. It is imperative to get rid of those UNPers who are conniving with the ruling party members to remain in power and instead appoint energetic and dedicated youths. We will always support your leadership.


New eight storied hospital under construction

A new 425-bed eight storied hospital with an intensive care unit, blood bank, dispensary and accident ward is under construction in the Gampaha electorate. The cost is approximately 10 million rupees. It is scheduled to be opened in September this year. It is a brainchild of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

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