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Tigers reject devolution proposals

The LTTE has said that the devolution proposals now under consideration were "no basis for a solution" of the Sri Lanka’s national question.

This viewpoint has been expressed by Mr. Anton Balasingham in an interview with the London based Tamil Guardian according to a June 30 TamilNet report.

Balasingham has said that the proposals had "failed to address the national aspirations of the Tamil people" and were intended to promote Sinhala interests.

He had said that the government’s devolution package "fails to address the key demands or the national aspirations of the Tamil people as articulated in the cardinal principles of the Thimpu declarations."

"The LTTE will not accept this package because it has nothing substantial to form the foundation for a permanent solution to the Tamil national question," he told the paper.

‘These proposals for constitutional reforms are not specifically addressed to resolve the national question of the Tamils but rather seeks to promote the majoritarian interests,’’ he said further.

"The LTTE will not study or comment on any package or proposals that tends to ignore the key issues of self-determination and nationhood of the Tamil people," he told the Tamil Guardian.


New laws on Press censorship

The government has finalised a new set of regulations, including guidelines and criteria, in respect of Press censorship, official sources said yesterday.

The new laws will replace the existing Regulation 14 of the Emergency Regulations, they said.

In a landmark judgement the Supreme Court last Friday held that the appointment of a Competent Authority to censor news was illegal. (FRS)


Editor’s Guild hails verdict on censorship

The Editors’ GuiLd of Sri Lanka hailed the Supreme Court verdict declaring the actions of the Competent Authority on censorship illegal, and thereby lifting the ban on Leader Publications Ltd., and effectively, Uthayan Publications Ltd.

In a statement the Editors’ Guild said the judgement vindicates the confidence placed by the citizenry in the independence of the jdiciary of our country.

The Editors Guild has consistently urged the government to refrain from violating enets of freedom of expression and freedom of the press enshrined in our constitution and accepted under international protocols and convenants, most recently, the Warsaw Declaration on democracy to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

The Guild maintains that the imposition of Section 14 of the Emergency Regulations of 3 May 2000 elating to newspaper censorship was arbitrary, discriminatory, unfair, contrary to law, was politically motivated and counter to national interests.

‘The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka reiterates its around position that the government take the media into confidence especially when dealing with the subject of war-related news as is done in liberal democracies, rather than go on a vindictive persecution of the free press of Sri Lanka merely because it does not conform to the Government’s dictates; the statement signed by Upali Tennekoone, Secretary, said.


Island Caper
Guess who?

Guess who is due to ask the prime minister the following two questions listed on the parliamentary order paper for July 4:

(1)

(a) Is she aware that a pledge was given to the people in this country through the People’s Alliance manifesto of 1994 that the facility of travelling in luxury vehicles enjoyed by ministers and members of parliament will not be available to them anymore and that they will be provided vehicles that are not massive in size and are not luxurious?

(b) Will she disclose to this House whether such pledges made have been fulfilled?

(c) If not, why?

and (2)

(a) Is she aware that the manifesto of the People’s Alliance Government in 1994, assured that powers will be vested with the Commissioner of Elections for conducting free and fair elections, specially for issuing orders to the police regarding polling activities?

(b) Does she admit that although the People’s Alliance government has been in office for 5 years, the said promise has not been fulfilled?

(c) Will she disclose to this House, when action be taken to strengthen the powers of the Commissioner of Elections according to the said manifesto?

(c) If not, why?

Believe it or not, it is Mr. Ariyapala Walpitagama, the latest recruit to Dr. Sarath Amunugama’s UNP alternative group. The questions, presumably, were handed some time ago.

Politics can be a fickle business!


For forthcoming general elections
PA plans advertising onslaught over TV

by Shamindra Ferdinando
The PA is expected to use both the state and the private television networks to mount a massive advertisement campaign ahead of the forthcoming general election scheduled for October or November, political sources said. The PA did the same in late last year after failing to block political advertisements in the private electronic media in the run up to December 21 presidential election.

The sources said that the PA’s campaign strategists were likely to recommend the use of electronic media in a big way to overcome the problems caused by the LTTE threat. "Politicians have been forced to keep their distance from crowds," one source said pointing out that advertisements in the electronic media would help as key politicians seek to distance themselves from political gatherings.

A number of top politicians including President Ranasinghe Premadasa and two presidential election candidates were killed at meetings while the incumbent president survived a suicide attempt on her life in December last year.

The UNP launched a major advertisement campaign in the MTV Channel [Private] Limited to promote the party leader’s election manifesto known as the "My Pact With the People," in the runup to the last presidential election. The PA followed immediately with their own campaign which focused on the bloody anti-insurgency campaign during the UNP rule among other issues.

The sources said the two parties will use electronic media heavily this time.

Both the MTV and the Telshan carry paid advertisements. Private stations say that paid advertisements are not illegal.

The PA launched their own advertisement campaign before the last presidential election soon after the then Special Assignment Minister Sarath Amunugama vowed to block political advertisements in the private electronic media.

The sources said that both the PA and the UNP have the capability to engage in a costly multi-million rupee advertisement campaigns. The same could not be said about other political parties expected to contest the election.

Security chiefs especially those responsible for VIP security back campaigns over electronic media especially in view of the threat posed by the LTTE. They were keen to keep politicians away from big crowds and political meetings, one officer said pointing out that there was no alternative but for politicians to distance themselves from large crowds to avoid the possibility of being blasted by a suicide bomber.

The recently assassination of lightly guarded Minister C. V. Gooneratne showed the possibility of the LTTE expanding their hit list.

A senior police official said that they have to provide security to election meetings. "They’ll have to have some meetings," he said adding that the VIPs privately admit the danger in holding major rallies. Since the December 18 night, last year suicide attempt on President Kumaratunga’s life, she has restricted public appearances.

The sources said that she will have to continue avoid public rallies. Since then, the president increasingly spreads her message with video conferences via a satellite link-up that allows interactive sessions with people. The same technology had been used to talk with police and security forces based in the North and the East.

The sources said that she could do the same in the run-up to the general election.

Ranil Wickremesinghe last year criticised the government last year for not allowing him to use the same technology to reach the armed forces bases in the north. He toured the east.


‘Outside influence’ prohibited after Lake House-Rupavahini tiff

The recent tiff between Rupavahini and Lake House has resulted in both senior and junior journalistic staff of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (ANCL) getting instructions aimed at preventing "outsiders" from influencing what ANCL publishes.

But one exception has been made - a Mr. Ruwan Ferdinadez (sic), Coordinating Secretary to Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera is authorised to give directives to any editor/reporter in terms of an ANCL circular.

"No outside person except for the Coordinating Secretary of the Media Ministry, Mr. Ruwan Ferdinadez (sic) is authorised to give directives to any editor/reporter," Mr. C. N. Ratnaike, Group Head Editorial (GHE), has said.

Conveying these directions from ANCL’s Director Editorial and Marketing to "all managing editors, editors, sub-editors and reporters," Ratnaike has said that no "negative report" or "adverse stories" about any minister or ministry or their "institutes," or private companies should be run without prior discussion.

"A report of this nature which ‘may’ be part of good journalism should be discussed with ME (managing editor?) or GHE," he has said.

A lead story on an alleged racket at Rupavahini splashed on the front page of the June 20 Daily News infuriated Rupavahini Chairman Dew Gunasekera who angrily condemned some "invisible political scavengers" who had supplied the paper with a report which he said was "totally incorrect, baseless and misleading."

Ratnaike has warned Lake House journalists that "unauthorised persons" should not have access to the company’s editorial staff or their reports. He has said that violation of the specified "code of conduct" would lead to disciplinary action. Also, the company would not take legal responsibility for such incidents.

ANCL employees who demonstrated outside the company last week carried a placard reading: "Who is the Media Minister - Mangala, Sripathi or Ferdinandez."


Chandrika-Ranil fail to meet ‘reform’ deadline

by Amal Jayasinghe
COLOMBO, June 30 (AFP) — Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her main opposition failed to meet a deadline to conclude talks on controversial reforms aimed at ending the country’s ethnic bloodshed.

Kumaratunga had earlier said she wanted to complete talks with the main opposition United National Party (UNP) by Friday, but as both sides had several outsanding issues unresolved, they agreed to meet again next week.

A legislator who was at the meeting here said sub-committees appointed by the two sides on the creation of independent election and public service commissions will meet Wednesday.

Kumaratunga and Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe are to hold the next round of talks on July 7, an opposition politician said, adding they were making progress during the talks.

"We are moving slowly, we nevertheless we are moving forward," the politician said adding they took up the issues relating to the judiciary at Friday’s talks here at Kumaratunga’s Temple Trees residence.

The talks are crucial because the main opposition UNP holds the balance of power in parliament to make or break any reforms the governnment wants to implement to end the conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

Last week, the two sides agreed on an interim council to administer Sri Lanka’s embattled northeast which is claimed as an independent homeland by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas.

While the composition and the exact role of the interim body is yet to be announced, it is seen as a stop-gap measure until political reforms are in place to grant greater autonomy to the island’s ethnic Tamil minority.

"The agreement is to have an interim council for a period of five years for the northern and eastern provinces, considering them as one region," a source close to the talks said.

He said "all political parties" could be included in the interim administrative council, but there was no specific reference to the LTTE.

The proposed council was expected to have a greater degree of autonomy, including the right to negotiate direct foreign loans and to administer land and have its own police force.

Authorities believe that could see an end to Tamil demands for outright separation.

Foreign policy and defence will remain with the central government as part of a reform package unveiled by Kumaratunga in August 3, 1995.

The ruling and opposition parties have been meeting since March in a bid to hammer out a consensus on a settlement, as together they represent the majority Sinhalese community.


SLMC will run on its own, says Ashraff

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) will not contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections under the PA umbrella but will run candidates in the Kandy, Colombo, Puttalam and North Eastern districts on its own steam, SLMC leader M. H. M. Ashraff said yesterday.

 Ashraff’s statement contradicts an earlier claim by PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratne that all the Alliance parties will run under the PA umbrella.

SLMC sources said that there is no arrangement for them to run under the PA ticket in other districts and they will be fielding candidates only in the specified areas.

The general secretaries of the PA constituents met Jayaratne at the Lands and Agricultural Ministry on June 24 to submit candidates lists from their respective parties. The SLMC did not attend this meeting and submit its list indicating its decision to go it alone. (FRS)


President to mediate in the battle of the Ministers’ spouses

by Shamindra Ferdinando
The ongoing battle between Mrs. Kusum Wickramanayaka and Mrs. Pamitha Jayakody appeared to have divided parliamentarians and their spouses while President Chandrika Kumaratunga sought an immediate end to the Seva Vanitha tussle.

Both sides claimed that they have the backing of President Kumaratunga and senior members of the Seva Vanitha.

The President, informed sources said, has expressed grave concern over the charges and counter-charges hurled against each other by wives of Public Administration, Home Affairs and Plantation Industries Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka and Cultural Affairs minister Lakshman Jayakody in the past few weeks.

Mrs. Jayakody fired the first salvo when she personally handed over a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga at Temple Trees, accusing Mrs. Wickramanayake of using her position as the Secretary to the Seva Vanitha to engage in corrupt activities and urged the president to take action against Mrs. Wickramanayaka. Parts of the letter were released to some newspapers prompting Mrs. Wickramanayaka to come out with her side of the "story"

Although, there have been many cases of tussles between wives of VIPs, the ongoing confrontation has captured the attention of national newspapers with both sides hurling accusations against each other over corruption, jealousy and hatred.

President Kumaratunga was expected to meet the warring parties at Temple Trees on Friday night. They were among PA parliamentarians and their spouses invited for dinner, the day after the President celebrated her 55th birthday.

"The Seva Vanitha tussle would dominate the conversation," a source said Friday afternoon.

Political sources said that Ministers Wickramanayaka and Jayakody have been upset over the battle. Both appeared to have refrained from coming out openly in support of their spouses, the sources said adding that they feel Mrs. Jayakody should not have made wild allegations against the wife of one of her husband’s cabinet colleagues.

But, Mrs. Jayakody stressed that she was compelled to seek presidential intervention and come out openly to put an end to what she called Mrs. Wickramanayaka’s corrupt activities

Mrs. Jayakody recently resigned from the post of Secretary of the organisation saying that she could no longer tolerate corrupt activities.

However, both President Kumaratunga and Women’s Affairs Minister and President of the Seva Vanitha Hema Ratnayake appeared to have ignored the allegations against Mrs. Wickramanayaka, the sources said. So far there had been no attempt to initiate an inquiry into these allegations.

Minister Hema Ratnayake was not available for comment. She had been away at Bogahakumbura in the past couple of days. She was expected in Colombo yesterday to attend Mrs. Kumaratunga’s dinner, the sources said.

Mrs. Kusum Wickramanayaka said that there was no inquiry because there was nothing to inquire into. "I have done no wrong," she said. In a six-paged letter dated June 26 sent to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mrs. Wickramanayaka denied a series of allegations of corrupt practices levelled against her by Mrs. Jayakody.

In the letter in Sinhalese, Mrs. Wickramanayaka has strongly denied allegations, claiming that these allegations have been prompted by jealousy and hatred. She insisted that the whole problem had been caused by Mrs. Jayakody’s desire to replace Mrs. Kamala Wickremesinghe as the Secretary to the Seva Vanitha.

Mrs. Kamala Wickremesinghe, the Secretary to the Women’s Affairs Ministry had been the Secretary of the Seva Vanitha. But when she retired recently, Mrs. Wickramanayaka had been elected to the post while Mrs. Jayakody had been elected Treasurer, a post held by Mrs. Wickremenayake since May 14, 1996.

At that time, Mrs. Srimani Atrhulathmudali had been the President of the Seva Vanitha and when Mrs. Hema Ratnayake replaced Mrs. Atrhulathmudali on September 11, 1997, Mrs. Wickremenayake was re-elected unanimously to the same post while there were changes in all other posts.

Mrs. Jayakody was proposed to the post of treasurer of Seva Vanitha by Mrs. Wickramanayaka when she moved up. In the letter, Mrs. Wickremenayake has quoted Mrs. Jayakody as saying that President Kumaratunga had asked her to act "like a cop".

Some of these allegations have been regarding the alleged misuse of vehicles belonging to Seva Vanitha and the purchase of a table and a bookcase.

Mrs. Wickramanayaka said that Mrs. Jayakody had phoned wives of all ministers and threatened to harm her.

"Pamitha’s allegations shocked me," she said pointing out that the whole crisis may have been caused by Mrs. Jayakody’s ambitions of moving up the Seva Vanitha hierarchy. "That lady has been trying to be the Secretary," Mrs. Wickremenayake said adding that the wives of other politicians have taken her side as they know she had done nothing wrong.

Mrs. Wickramanayaka said that many parliamentarians and their wives phoned her and expressed their support for her. They reminded me of their support to me, she said yesterday.

However, Mrs. Jayakody continued to stress that she was not after any position and her interest was to ensure a corruption free Seva Vanitha.


Police now seek three-wheeler driver in ‘Satana’ editor killing

by Kalinga Weerakkody
The Crime Detective Bureau (CDB) probing the killing of the ‘Satana’ editor Rohana Kumara has sought public co-operation to trace the three-wheeler driver who took the two assailants from Nugegoda to the victim’s house at Pangiriwatte.

In an interview with the ‘Sunday Island’, CDB Director, SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe said that the police will be releasing a sketch of Prasanna Jayawardena who, according to the two men now in custody, had given the ‘contract’ to kill Kumara. He is still evading arrest.

SSP Wickremasinghe dismissed CDB allegations that the two underworld elements now being held by the CDB were not the actual killers. ‘I don’t want to shield anybody’, he said.

He said that the two suspects, Thara Ajith and Thatta Asoka were arrested from Baddegana, Kotte, on a tip off received by the DIG Colombo, Bodhi Liyanage.

He denied reports that the two men were arrested from the Baddegana residence of a policeman attached to the Presidential Security Division (PSD).

The CDB has also sought information on the whereabouts of Prasanna Jayawardena who had identified himself to the two suspects as a top businessman. But after the killing of the editor, he had melted away.

Thara Ajith and Thatta Asoka have told investigators that Prasanna promised to send them abroad after the ‘job’ was done.

Thara Ajith, it’s alleged, had been involved in seven murders since 1997 and had been on the run until the killing of the editor.

Rohana Kumara was gunned down at Pangiriwatte on September 7, 1999 when he was on his way home in a three wheeler.

SSP Wickremasinghe said that through one of his informants he received a tip off that if the police was able to net in Tharawatte Ajith alias as Ajith Kulatunga, a break through into Kumara’s slaying was possible. The CDB was on the alert for this dreaded underworld gangster who was living in the shanties of Maitland Crescent.

In the meantime, DIG Colombo, Bodhi Liyanage had received information about another gangster identified as Thatta Asoka who was wanted in the killings of ‘Kalu Ajith’ and three of his associates at Ratmalana some time back. The suspect was an associate of the underworld leader ‘Fiat’ who is currently in police custody.

The information received by the DIG had revealed that Thatta Asoka was loitering in the Kotte area with a gang. He had informed OIC Sarath I. Gunawardena, OIC of the Special Team to Crack Down on Organised Crime (STCDOC) to arrest them. They were not only able to arrest Thatta Asoka, but Tharawatte Ajith as well, which was a major break through, SSP Wickremasinghe said.

At the time of the arrest, police recovered a grenade from Thatta Asoka and a pistol from Tharawatte Ajith, who had allegedly confessed to 8 killings including that of the ‘Satana’ editor.

One mysterious Prasanna Jayawardena who is believed to have given the contract had claimed that his wife was being blackmailed by Rohana Kumara. It was over some nude photographs of his (Prasanna’s) wife which were in the possession of Kumara. He had threatened to make them public if the money demanded was not paid, the CDB Director said.

As several lakhs of rupees was being demanded, Prasanna had given the contract to these two underworld gangsters to kill Kumara and put an end to the problem, he said.

Prasanna is reported to be a nattily dressed man. He had been clad in a pair of trousers, long sleeve shirt and a tie. He had a cell phone in his possession. When they had asked for his name, he had showed them a business card with the name Prasanna Jayawardana, the SSP said.

He had taken the two men to a hotel in Mt. Lavinia in a 300-dash car. They had met at the same location on several occasions afterwards to plan the killing, he said.

The businessman had asked the suspects to carry out the killing while they were travelling in his car. But this was refused by the suspects who had said the car would be noted. While at Delkanda junction on their mission, the businessman had received a call saying that the editor was on his way to home in a three wheeler. Afterwards, the two underworld elements had got into a three wheeler while the businessman had followed them in his car to the residence of the editor, he said.

When they saw of Rohana Kumara inside the three wheeler, they had intercepted it, jumped out and opened fire at blank point. They had escaped in Prasanna’s car, SSP Wickremasinghe said.

Prassana had told the suspects that he will be returning in half an hour time after changing the vehicle, but he had failed to turn up.

Later they realised that he had deceived them, he said.


In remembrance of Dr. N. M. Perera

In commemoration of the 95th birth anniversary of the late Dr. N. M. Perera, the N. M. Perera Centre has brought out the following publications for the benefit of he public:

• A reprint of the Case for Free Education’written by Dr. N. M. Perera whilst in detention at the Bogambara prison in 1944. (This is a probing analysis of the report of the Special Committee on Education released in the early forties).

• Dr. N. M. Perera’s statement from the dock after jail break and re-arrest: Imperialism on Trial; letters from prison addressed to Ven. Rahula Thero. Also included is the statement of Philip Gunawardene to court.

These pubications are available at the Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, No. 106, Dr. N. M. Perera Mawatha (Cotta Road) Colombo 8.


Jothipala Trust Fund

A Trust Fund will be established next week to mark the 13th death anniversary of the ever-green vocalist H. R. Jothipala.

A simple ceremony in this connection will be held on July 7 at 10.30 a.m. at the People’s Bank branch, Sangaraja Mawatha, Colombo 10. It will be followed by a special bodhi pooja at the Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya at 7 pm.

Mrs. Blossom Jothipala, the wife of the late singer and Mr. Roy Mellonius, President of the H. R. Jothipala Fan Club will be the principal trustees of this Fund.

The primary objective of launching this Trust is to help needy artistes and contribute towards worthy causes, Mellonius explained.

The Fan Club invited artistes, fans of Jothipala and the public to participate in the forthcoming activities in memory of the late singer, whose contribution to music, cinema and the arts remain unparalleled.


Musical Potpourri

The Russian Centre in Colombo will present an entertaining evening of light classical songs, music and Latin American dance concluding with a session of "Sing-a-long" of Golden Oldies at their Auditorium at No. 10, Independence Avenue, Colombo 07 on Saturday 15th July at 6.30 p.m.

The programme will be a presentation by the "Interlude Singers" and students of Mrs. Iranganie Wickremasinghe with guest instrumental performers, students of Mr. Lakshman Joseph de Saram, Mrs. Menaka de Fonseka-Sahabandu, Mrs. Vilma Varnakulasinghe, Mr. Ananda Dabare, Mrs. Sita Joseph-de Saram and Mr. Ananda Premasiri. The finale will be a short session of "Golden Oldies" led by Mr. Nimal Lekamge with Mrs. Indrani Wijesundera at the piano, where the audience can "let themselves go" by joining in the singing and be participants as well as listeners!

Entrance will be by programme — for details please contact the Music Co-ordinator or Secretary on Nos. 685429/685440/686684 preferably between 9.00 a.m./1.00 p.m. weekdays.


Trinity College Committee

Trinity College Old Boys Association (Colombo Branch) new office bearers:

Patron: The Principal, Trinity College

Vice Patrons: Barnes Ratwatte, Y. C. Chang, Kavan Rambukwella, Sriyantha Senaratne, L. U. B. Dissanayake, Jim Bandaranayake, Gilbert Paranagama, James Mather, Dr. Neville Karunatilake, Robin Talwatte, Chulika de Silva.

President: Jayantissa Kehekpannala

Vice Presidents: Wilhelm Balthazaar, Gotabaya Dassanayake, Andrews Thevathason, Upali Ratnayake, Milroy Bulathsinhalage, Mahinda Warakaulle, Jayantissa Ratwatte, Sharm De Alwis, Jeremy David, Naren Dambawinne.

Secretary: Sanjeeva Jayewardene.

Treasurer: Anil Goonethilake.

Asst. Secretary/Treasurer: Kumar Swaminathan.

Trustees: James Mather, Sriyantha Senaratne, Robin Talwatte.

Committee: Prabath Harshakumar, Romesh Jayewardene, Asanka Ranhotty, Suchitra Aluwihare, Duminda Hulangamuwa, Anura Ratnawardena, Horace Jacob, Tyronne Samuel, Muttiah Chandrasekeran, Sunil Wickremasinghe, Nath Wijesundera.

Auditor: Upatissa Hulugalle.


Hotline for human rights violation complaints

by Franklin R. Satyapalan
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has opened a 24-hour hotline - 689064 - to report on any violations by the police and the armed forces during any arrest or detention, a spokesman for the commission said yesterday.

Though in terms of section 28 (1) of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act No. 21 of 1996, when a person is arrested or detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act or regulations made under the Public Security Ordinance where the Human Rights Commission should be informed of the arrest and place of detention, such information should be furnished to the commission forthwith and in any case within a period of 48 hours, he said.

As there had been numerous violations by the police and the armed forces, the new chairman, President’s Counsel Faiz Mustapha has initiated his program where any member of the public may report on any violations of the act, the spokesman said.

The commission has drawn the attention of the police and the armed forces to the imperative provisions and the directives of President Kumaratunga which mandate, inter alia, that a receipt be issued in respect of any person so detained or arrested, he said.

And that any person who has a legitimate interest in being informed of the arrest or detention and the place of detention of a person so arrested or detained may if such information is not provided by the relevant authorities, communicate with the commission by telephone at any time of the day or night, whereas the commission will thereupon endeavour to obtain and furnish such information.

The members of the public may also communicate with the Human Rights Commission during office hours on the following numbers 696610, 696470, 694924, 694925, the spokesman said. The HRC is situated at No. 50, Dr. N. M. Perera Mawatha, Colombo 8.

Members of the Commission include Prof. Selvakumaran, Mr. Godfrey Goonetilleke, Mrs. Manori Muttetuwegama and Mr. Sarath Cooray.


Constitutional reforms bill
Govt. consults all, but not the Sangha -
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhita Thera

by a Special Correspondent

The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhita thera, President of the Jatika Sangha Sabha (National Sangha Council) made a vehement appeal to all Members of Parliament, the majority of whom have been elected by a pre-dominantly Sinhala electorate to refrain from voting for the Constitutional Reform Bill. He said so at a press conference held last week at the Dharma Vijaya Foundation, Colombo. The conference was presided over by the Most Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayake thero.

The press conference was called to express the total opposition of several organisations to the proposed Constitutional reforms and the Interim Council for the north and the east.

The Ven. Sobhita thera said that it was a matter for deep sorrow that the government has consulted the Tamil and Muslim parties, the UNP and the Norwegians, but not the organisations which represent more than 78 percent of the Sinhalese. Not even has the Sangha been consulted. Besides, the thera said, the Norwegians met Anton Balasingham in London, and presented the demands of the LTTE as their own to the government.

The government’s memory is short, he added. Before the presidential elections the president soundly castigated Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Opposition for suggesting the setting up of an Interim Council for the North and East. Now they have joined hands and they are working out the modalities secretly. No one knows for certain what their conclusions are, on this so called ethnic problem. This is not an ethnic problem, but terrorism, the thera said.

The PA and the UNP are trying to find a solution to a non-existent problem, he commented.

After the fall of Elephant Pass the President made a clear call for a military solution. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Foreign Minister said: "If the LTTE wants war, it can have war". But now the previous contradictory stance has re-emerged and the peace mongers, including the state media are on the march, Sobhita thera said.

The Ven. Pandit Ittapana Dhammalankara, Anunayake thero, Secretary of the Jatika Sangha Sabha asked: For whose benefit are these constitutional reforms being introduced in this almighty hurry? A Constitution should fulfill the rights and aspirations of the majority community as well, but it is designed to meet the demands of the LTTE, which has the backing of Norway.

The devolution package is now almost dead. What they are trying to do is ingratiate the package stealthily into the constitutional reforms, the Ven. Ittapana Dhammalankara said.

The Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayake thero urged all patriots to defeat the adoption of the Constitutional reforms. If the Bill is passed, he said, it would pave the way for Eelam.

Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake, Secretary of the National Joint Committee said: Can we allow politicians who are temporarily in power and at the tail end of their tenure to make such far-reaching and fundamental changes of the law, which will have awesome long term effects on the future of this country?

The danger is all too near. The Tamil and Muslim parties and the UNP have been consulted. The Sinhalese, not even the Maha Sangha have been consulted, he said. We presented the President with the seven non-negotiable principles which should guide Constitution making and requested an appointment. We did not receive an acknowledgement. We are totally ignored, he said.

Mr. S. W. Walpita, Chairman of the Sinhala Commission and former Judge of the Supreme Court said: Parliament is at its last gasp. What is the need for adopting a Constitution so hastily at this point of time? Parliament’s mandate is over. It has passed back to the people and they must be consulted, he said.

Retired Major General Ananda Weerasekera said that the fall of Elephant Pass and other bases was due to the consistent demoralisation of the soldiers. The government continues to do so after putting the country on a so-called ‘war footing’, he added.

Colonel Anil Amarasekera referred to the happenings at Gomarankada about which nothing whatsoever has been said. Just ten terrorists and a crowd of Tamils descended on these villages on April 10th. They didn’t kill anybody but they destroyed the Maha Vidyalaya, cleaned out the homes of the villagers of all their belongings, destroyed the Pradeshiya Sabha buildings and burnt all the birth certificates in the school.

At Kalyanapura, the Colonel said, the Tamil marauders burnt fields, threatened the villagers and drove them out. In all ninety families fled to Anuradhapura.

Representatives of the Jatika Sangha Sabha, the NJC, the Sinhala Veera Vidhana, the Dharma Vijaya Foundation, Success, Buddhist Doctors Association. Lak Vesi Peramuna and the Sinhala Commission were present at the press conference.


New technology to determine examination results

By Irosha Weththasingha
Tec Sri Lanka has introduced its latest Information Techno logy Service called "Tec System Bureau Service" which will help both private and public sectors, Managing Director of Tec Sri Lanka, Niranjan Nanay akkara told a press conference last week.

The new service would enable them to evaluate the progress of their work by research, written examinations and censuses, he said.

Tec Sri Lanka has launched this service with the collaboration of DRS (Data and Research Services) in Great Britain.

The new service will also help institutions with Data Capturing Services, Data Mining Services and Data Ware Housing Services, Nanay akkara explained.

"Optical Mark Reader" is the latest high tech facility provided by Tec Sri Lanka. It is a unique and efficient way of issuing results of examinations, elections and surveys, Nanayakkara said.

Explaining the new device, Business Executive of the DRS (International Division) Mike Smethurst said that the optical mark reader has proved its efficiency in elections in many countries. This technology has been used in the elections of England, Norway and many other countries. The letters in the paper are all invisible to the machine so that only the vote or the answer which have to be marked using a special pencil would be recognized by the machine. "It is very fast and easy. You can release the results in a matter of hours," Smethurst said. The machine can read about 7,500 papers per hour.

Tec Sri Lanka has already used this machine in their examinations to select students for computer courses. "Results were out in just one day and that’s one reason why we decided to introduce this fast and efficient technology to other institutions as well", Nanayakkara said.

The cost of an optical mark reader is about Rs. 18 lakhs. As the cost is rather high, Tec Sri Lanka has decided to give machines to institutions on a rental basis. "So that when a certain institution require the services of the optical reader they can hire a machine from us," he said.

The Managing Director said that they plan to expand this service to rural areas as well using the NET point centres which will be launched soon.


Priority for the housing needs of service personnel

The entire nation is rallying round to support and participate in the most important endeavour of the Rana Viru Seva Authority (RVSA) to fulfil the urgent housing needs of service personnel engaged in defending the unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

Mr Armyne Wirasinha, Chairman of the Private Sector led Special Committee, appointed by the President is working together with RVSA to mobilize resources and formulate strategies to implement a fast track plan for the speedy realization of this housing development project. Mr Wirasinha said that there has been a positive response from the business community, and a wide spectrum of Sri Lankans across the country, and also abroad, who have expressed willingness to contribute generously and also to participate in other ways towards this noble and worthy cause. Already a sum of about Rs. 5 million has been chanelled to this special housing fund.

Unique features of this project are that it provides an opportunity for all Sri Lankans who are anxious to support and assist service personnel to participate in this project by either contributing funds or through community based help in its implementation. The construction of houses will be undertaken by the families of the service personnel on self-help basis or with help and co-operation from the community in the areas where the houses are to be built. It is also an exercise in which representatives of all major political parties will work together in close cooperation assisted by Divisional Secretaries and representatives of other relevant sectors of the communities in which the houses are to be built.

The RVSA will issue a recommended building plan (2-roomed approx, 500 sq. ft. basic structure and facilities) and BOQ costed at Rs. 100,000/- per unit as a guidance to families of service personnel who will be paid Rs. 100,000/- each, in 02 instalments to construct the house. The progress will be closely supervised and monitored by project coordinators of the RVSA and the Special Presidential Committee.

The first phase of this project will be inaugurated by the President towards the middle of this month with the commencement of construction work on 50 houses in 02 electorates i.e. 25 houses in Nikaweratiya and 25 in Anamaduwa, which are the areas having the largest numbers of service personnel serving in the North and East who already possess a plot of land to build a house in their home areas and will be extended to other electorates prioritized according to the number of service personnel from each electorate serving in the North and East.

Contributions should be made to the Rana Viru Seva Authority-Housing Development, Account No. 0747-08-0000436-8 (Bank of Ceylon, Taprobane Branch). Contributions made to the RVSA qualify for tax exemptions in terms of the Inland Revenue Act No. 28 of 1979.

All contributions made to the Rana Viru Seva Authority Housing Development Fund will be acknowledged on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka by the Chairperson Rana Viru Seva Authority and Advisor to the President, Dr. Tara de Mel.

Any organization or individual willing to both fund and take responsibility of constructing house/houses in any electorate can do so by making a specific proposal to the RVSA indicating the electorate/s of their choice addressed to Dr. Tara de Mel, Chairperson Rana Viru Seva Authority, Fax No. 94-1-321408.


Statue to be unveiled in remembrance of Maithripala Senanayeke

The second death anniversary of Maith ripala Senanayeke, one of the senior most and veteran political leaders of Sri Lanka, falls on the 12th of July 2000. Various religious activities, Shramadana Camps and Blood Donation Campaigns have been organised in the Anuradhapura Region, specially in the Medavachchiya electorate throughout a week, starting on Monday, (10) in this connection.

A bronze statue of Maithripala Senana yeke will be unveiled by Sri Rohana Jana Ranjana Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the President of the Maithripala Sena nayeke Comemo ration committee, at the Surapura Cultural Centre at Haris chandra Mawatha, Anurad hapura at 3 p.m. on Tuesday (11) at a ceremony, presided over by Berty Premalal Dissanayake, the Chief Minister of the Provincial Council of the North Central Province.

The unveiling of the statue will be followed by a commemoration meeting, participated by several Ministers, Members of Parliament and other distinguished guests.

There will be a sermon at 7.30 p m. on 11th July 2000, by the Ven. Nugatenne Pangnananda Nayake Thera, the chief incumbent of the Anuradh apura Buddha Jayanthi Vihara and the chief Sanga Nayake of the North Central Province at the Haris chandra Mawatha residence of thelate Maithri pala Senanayeke, followed by a "Sangika Dana" on the following day.

On the 17th on which his 84th Birth anniversary falls, a commemoration meeting will be held at the "Mahaweli Kendra" in Colombo pressided over by Maith ripala Sirisena, Mini ster of Mahaweli development. Amarasiri Dodan goda, Minister of Voca tional Training and Rural Industrial Develo pment will deliver the keynote address.


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