UNP Alternative Group to contest on PA list
by Shan Wijetunga
The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna [MEP] and the UNPs
Alternative Group on Wednesday decided to contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections
with the Peoples Alliance, senior party officials said yesterday.
The MEP and the Alternative Group backed President Chandrika Kumaratunga at the last
Senior representatives of the constituent parties of the PA were informed of the
decision at a special meeting chaired by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. They said that
discussions were taking place in a bid to include the MEP and the Alternative Group
candidates in the PAs nomination lists.
During the meeting, the President has said that the election would take place as
scheduled and directed the PA officials to get on with their work.
They said that the constituent parties of the PA were expected to discuss the inclusion
of the MEP and the Alternative Group candidates in the PAs nomination lists before
the PAs Executive Committee takes a final decision.
Informed sources said that the top SLFP leadership fully supports the inclusion of
these candidates in the PAs nomination lists.
However, some senior PA officials have expressed concern over the SLMCs decision
to contest the general election on its own, the sources said adding that the PA would urge
the SLMC to change its decision when its leader Minister M. H. M. Ashraff returns from
Tehran on Tuesday.
The SLMC decision taken on the previous day, just hours before President Kumaratunga
sent Minister Ashraff as a special envoy to Tehran angered some senior PA officials.
However, they were confident that President Kumaratunga could persuade the SLMC to revert
to the August 1994 arrangement.
The SLMC which contested Colombo, Kandy and Puttalam districts in the August 16, 1994
parliamentary election under the PA and five of the six districts in the North and the
East region on its own wanted to contest the scheduled parliamentary election separately.
Asked to comment, the General Secretary and the Deputy Chairman of Committees Rauff
Hakeem yesterday told The Island that they decided to contest on their own
with a view to securing some additional seats in the parliament. He believes that the
party stood a better chance of winning more seats if it contested under its own symbol.
The SLMCs decision has fuelled speculation that the party had major differences
with the PA. Hakeem scotched reports, speculation and rumours of the PA-SLMC trouble.
"Well continue to support the PA," he said yesterday .
Tehran as special envoy
President thanks Iran for help
by Shamindra Ferdinando
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has sent Minister M. H. M. Ashraff as a special envoy
in Tehran to thank the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami for crucial support Iran
extended to Sri Lanka during the recent crisis in the Jaffna peninsula, highly placed
officials said yesterday.
They said Iran was among countries which promptly responded to Sri Lankas call
for support when separatist LTTE terrorists threatened to regain Jaffna soon after the
fall of the strategic Elephant Pass base in the third week of April. However, timely
acquisition of new arms, ammunition and equipment helped Sri Lankan forces to check the
enemy advance and mount a series of counter- attacks causing losses among the LTTE.
Minister Ashraff left Colombo in the early hours of Wednesday, the sources said adding
that during the week-long visit, the Minister was scheduled to meet several senior Iranian
leaders and officials. He was expected to return on Tuesday.
President Kumaratunga has sent Minister Lakshman Jayakody to thank the Pakistani ruler
while Minister Mangala Samaraweera a week ago visited Prague where he thanked the Czech
president for helping Sri Lanka during the Jaffna crisis. An aide to Minister Jayakody
said that the Minister was scheduled to visit to more countries after meeting with the
Pensioners agitate for
Sri Lanka Pensioners Agitation Front yesterday held a meeting at Sugathadasa
Indoor Stadium to discuss ways and means of forcing the government to increase their
pensions. Fronts Secretary T. D. Fernando urged the members to meet with MPs in
their respective areas and stress the need to remove pension anomalies by extending the
privileges the MPs are now enjoying to the pensioners.
He said that the allocation for pensioners in the 1998 budget is less than 4.57% of the
total expenditure. He also said that they have a voting strength of about two million
persons including family members while stressing the need to fight for their rights.
Sworn-in as Acting Minister
Deputy Minister of Port Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Reggie Ranatunga
took his oaths as Acting Minister of Port Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction,
before President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at Temple Trees yesterday morning.
Under Secretary here to discuss ethnic conflict
by Franklin R. Satyapalan
The new British Under Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mr. Peter
Westmacott was due to arrive in Sri Lanka yesterday evening for a two day visit during
which he was scheduled to hold discussions on a wide range of subjects including the
ethnic conflict with government and opposition leaders, a spokesman for the British High
Commission said yesterday.
Deputy British High Commissioner Mr. Martin Hill said that Mr. Peter Westmacott is on
an informal familiarisation visit.
Mr. Peter Westmacott was to meet with President Chandrika Kumaratunga last night.
He is scheduled to meet Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and Foreign
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar today.
The visiting British Under Secretary was to meet a cross section of Government,
Opposition, political parties, Tamil political parties and business leaders before his
departure on Saturday, Mr. Hill said.
Mr. Peter Westmacotts visit to Sri Lanka follows earlier visits by US Under
Secretary for Political Affairs Mr. Thomas Pickering, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswanth
Singh and Norwegian Foreign Ministers special Envoy Mr. Erik Solheim in attempts to
help resolve the countrys ethnic problem peacefully.
British High Commissioner Ms. Linda Duffield and the Deputy Mr. Martin Hill will also
be associated in the discussions.
Mr. Peter Westmacott was scheduled to meet with delegations from the TULF, PLOTE and
Lanka Telecom to provide 100,000 more telephone connections by year end
Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is planning to install another 100,000 telephones by the end of
this year, it said in a press release yesterday. SLT had installed an underground fibre
optic cable connecting the exchanges of 15 major cities in four provinces at a total cost
of Rs. 1.5 billion covering about 700 km to achieve faster and better transmission.
SLT plans to lay four more fibre optic rings in the Colombo Metro area and in the
suburbs connecting 27 exchanges at a total cost of Rs. 400 million it said.
During the last four years SLT has provided 350,000 new telephones. At present Sri
Lanka Telecom has 283 exchanges and it operates 186 transmission towers islandwide.
According to the press release about 600,000 sites can now access the Internet and use the
network to pursue e-commerce.
To ensure high quality international voice calls SLT has invested in an under sea cable
which connects 30 countries. In the past 3 years SLT has invested Rs. 35 billion in
developing the infrastructure, it said.
Major part of the funds for these development work comes from the revenue that SLT
receives as the only authorized licensed operator to provide international voice telephone
to and from Sri Lanka till August 2002, the press release further said.
EFC CMU Collective Agreement
Salary increase of 15% and further 5% next year
The Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial
and General Workers Union (CMU) yesterday signed the revised Collective Agreement
which will be effective for a minimum period of 3 years from June 1, 2000.
Under the revised agreement employees in the supervisory, clerical and minor grades
attached to the offices of the subscribing companies will receive a salary increase of 15%
and a further 5% in June 2001. These employees also receive a Non Recurring Cost of Living
Gratuity at Rs. 2 per point, E. F. G. Amarasinghe, Director General of the Federation
The first Collec-tive Agreement between the EFC and CMU was signed in 1961 and was
preceded by an Award of an Industrial Court. The Industrial Court Award, which is
popularly called the Canakaratne Award, was the result of the first reference to an
Industrial Court under the Industrial Disputes Act of 1950. Since 1961 without a break
there have been Collective Agree-ments which gives this particular agreement historical
importance and value.
The agreement will cover twenty eight companies who have voluntarily subscribed to the
terms and conditions contained therein. However, this agreement is also used as a standard
setter by many companies in the private sector in Sri Lanka.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the CMU by its General Secretary, Mr. P. B.
Tampoe and Mr. Costa of its Executive Com-mittee. On behalf of the EFC, the Agreement was
signed by the Director General of the EFC.
St. Patricks College celebrates 150 years of service to youth
St. Patricks College, Jaffna, a leading educational institution in the country,
celebrates its 150th anniversary in this millennium year. It was established in 1850, as
"Jaffna Catholic English Boys School", and up-graded as "St.
Patricks College" in 1881.
St. Patricks pioneered many educational reforms and developments from its
inception. Vocational subjects were introduced in 1889; and technical subjects in 1901.
The College Library, as old as the College itself, was always maintained well, with up to
date collection of books and periodicals. A well-equipped science laboratory was set up in
The efforts of its Rectors and Staff bore rich harvest from early times. At the
Matriculation Examination of the University of London, the College produced the best
results among all schools in the then vast British Empire, in the years 1922; 1932 to
1935; and again in 1937. Character formation in students was of utmost concern, and the
loftiest ideals in life were implanted in their young minds. Sports and other
extra-curricular activities were encouraged.
In the past, when conditions in the island permitted, St. Patricks had within its
portals, students of all races and religions, from all parts of the country. Though
managed by the Catholic Church, students of other religions were equally well cared for.
The College was so popular with all that there was a special hostel for Non-Catholic
students. Ample opportunities were given to the poorer children in the neighbourhood. The
government of the country acknowledged the services of the College to the nation, when it
issued a stamp in 1990, commemorating its famous Rector- Rev. Fr. Long O.M.I. - as a
Though the current troubled times present a formidable challenge for the College, it
still continues to serve, with admirable success, in spite of such great impediments. With
full hope in a better future, the College has drawn up plans to re-construct and
re-vitalize itself, for its continuing mission, to serve the nations youth.
"Fide Et Labore" - faith in God, and sincere work by all Patricians, will see
St. Patricks taking its stride, against all odds, to serve the future youngsters of
the nation, as she had done during her glorious past.