29th October 2000
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14 secretary posts draw SLAS fire 

By Shelani de Silva
The appointment of 14 new ministry secretaries chosen from outside the Sri Lanka Administrative Service has sparked protests from senior officers. 

S. Ranugge, president of the Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association said 14 of the 45 secretaries to the new ministries were not from the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. 

He said the trend of appointing non-SLAS officers as secretaries should be checked in the larger interest of developing the administrative system.

He said the SLAS had efficient and capable officers who should be appointed as secretaries.

"These officers never go behind politicians. They do their job," he said.

Mr. Ranugge said the association would send a protest letter to the Ministry of public administration. 

"There are several standards which go into the appointment. The secretary must have the experience in the public sector, and also the required educational qualifications. They should have a diploma or Ph.D. in Public Management to get the appointment," he said.

With the appointment of the new cabinet, Foreign Secretary Lionel Fernando, Defence Secretary Chandrananda de Silva, Power and Energy Secretary Jaliya Madagama and Cabinet Secretary D. Wijesinghe retained their posts. 

V. K. Nanayakkara has been appointed as secretary to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayke, a post earlier held by Hemasiri Fernando. 

The 14 non-SLAS secretaries have been assigned to the following ministries. 

D B Jayasundara, secretary to the Finance and Planning. He replaces Dixon Nilaweera. Dr. Jayasundara was earlier the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury. 

S Amarasekera - Secretary to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry. This post was earlier held by Neville Piyad-igama. 

S S Ediriweera, Post and Telecommunications.

Sunil Jayantha Navarathne, Samurdhi, Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs. 

R P Gunewardene, Higher Education and Information Technology. 

S L Senevirathne, Highways. 

M Susiriwardhane, Transport. 

W D Dheerasekera, Constitutional Affairs and Industry Development.

Dr. P Ramanujam, Livestock Development and Estate Infrastructure. 

C Maliaddha, Plan Implementation. 

J B Kirielle, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration. 

R M K Ratnayake, Land Development and Agriculture Export. 

Janadasa Peries, Media. 

Tara de Mel, Education. 

Doctors worry over headless bodies

The Government Medical Officers Association has called for the immediate appointment of administrators in many health institutions.

GMOA Secretary Anuruddha Padeniya said that failure to fill in the administrative posts which remained vacant for more than one year could lead to the collapse of the health system. 

He said that in the Western province, several base hospitals functioned without a director while provincial health departments neither had directors nor deputy directors.

Dr. Padeniya said more than 50% of provincial director posts had fallen vacant and called for urgent steps to fill these posts because their services were necessary to control the spread of diseases and epidemics.

According to the GMOA, there are no provincial health directors in the Western, Central, Wayamba and Uva provinces while Provincial Deputy Director posts are vacant in Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Kalmunai, Killinochchi and Trincomalee.

The Homagama, Avissawela, Gampaha, Negombo, Horana and Hambantota Base Hospitals were functioning without a permanent director while the Colombo Accident Service and Lady Ridgeway Hospital did not have deputy directors, according to the GMOA. 

courses for UNP's new MPs

The main opposition UNP recently conducted an orientation course for 'effective legislative conduct' for the party's new MPs.

At a three-day seminar at Hotel Eden, 45 new MPs were educated on many aspects of parliamentary practices, powers and privileges and the responsibilities of legislators.

Course coordinator and Colombo district parliamentarian Karunasena Kodituwaku said the course included such as an MP's responsibilities, national and communication and the role of Mps in strengthening democracy through a new political culture.

Former parliamentary Secretary General Nihal Seneviratne conducted lectures on standing orders, code of conduct, powers and privileges. 

Treasury in quandary

Despite the Cabinet approving the presentation of a vote on account to facilitate the running of the government for three months till a full budget is tabled, the delay in appointing deputy finance minister has caused problems for Treasury officials.

Political sources said it was unlikely the President would come to parliament to present a mere vote on account unlike a budget proper.

According to Treasury sources, the President had held extensive discussions with Finance Ministry officials about the preparation of budgetary estimates, but without the appointment of deputies, it has become a problem in preparing the estimates for ministries. The Treasury sources said they are going ahead with the budgetary estimates for 2001. 

The budget is likely to be presented in March 2001. The Budget 2000 was also presented in March after a vote on account was approved before the Presidential elections in December 1999. 

Concern over recruits

Education Ministry trade unions are to make a formal complain to the new minister over what they called haphazard recruitment the day before the new cabinet was sworn in. 

Trade union sources said scores of watchers, labourers and office assistants were recruited after parliament was dissolved and the day before the new cabinet was appointed. 

They said they had sought a meeting with the new Education Minister, Susil Premajayanth, to express their discontent. 

New MP for K'gala

T. B. Ekanayake will take oaths on November 9 as a member of parliament for the Kurunegala district, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of S. B. Nawinna who is reverting to his former post as Wayamba Chief Minister.

Mr. Ekanayake has been in national politics since the 1970s, contesting the Yapahuwa seat, first as a member of the LSSP and later as a member of the SLFP. 

Keells chief to head BoC?

John Keells Holding Chairman Ken Balendra is tipped to take over the Chairmanship of the Bank of Ceylon, The Sunday Times learns.

Mr. Balendra has already announced his retirement from the chairmanship of the conglomerate that was recently selected among 300 world's best small companies by the prestigious Forbes Global magazine.

Incumbent chairperson the bank, Dayani de Silva, is expected to be appointed the new Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

Give and take back 

By Hiranthi Fernando
Controversy surrounds the sudden cancellation of Defence Ministry permission given for four journalists to travel to Jaffna over the last weekend to attend the funeral of the slain journalist Mylvahanam Nima-larajan.

The permission was withdrawn within an hour by the Defence Ministry, which gave no reason for the cancellation.

Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan said they spoke to the Media Minister and the Army Spokesman, requesting permission to travel to Jaffna for the funeral. 

"We received a letter, signed by M. M. Gunasekera, Assistant Secretary to the Defence Ministry, granting approval to four journalists, Jayasiri Jayasekera, Waruna Karunatilaka, Anurudha Lokuhapuarachchi and Sunil Jayasekera to attend the funeral. 

However, one hour later, there was a telephone call, followed by a fax message, cancelling the approval," Mr. Ivan said.

Mr. Gunasekera said he was first instructed by Additional Secretary W.A.S. Perera to issue the letter of approval but a half an hour later he was given written instructions to cancel the permission. 

Defence Secretary Chandananda de Silva and Mr. Perera were not available for comments.

Information Director Ariya Rubesinghe said he recommended the application for a travel permit to Jaffna after consulting Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. However, he said the approval of the letter or its withdrawal was not within his authority. 

Army Spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said that when Mr. Ivan spoke to him about the permit, he explained to him the usual procedure, which was to apply to the Defence Ministry for the permit. After the permit was given, Brigadier Karuna-ratne said he offered to give them any assistance needed in getting the air tickets and making arrangements in Jaffna. 

He said he was not aware that the permit was withdrawn until he was informed by the journalists concerned. 

Protest against top-heavy Cabinet

The main opposition UNP would launch a one million signature campaign against the top-heavy Cabinet of 44 Ministers, said Badulla district parliamentarian R. M. Ratnayake. The campaign would be launched in Badulla next week, he said.

"The government has more ministers than parliamentarians. When the deputies are appointed, there won't be any backbenchers left," he claimed.

Mr. Ratnayake said people were disgusted about the manner in which the government burdened the people with a top- heavy Cabinet. 

The UNP would collect one million signatures within one month and present them to the Speaker.

Meanwhile, many are vying for the UNP's top slots vacated by Karu Jayasuriya and Gamini Atukorale. Former Janasaviya chief Charitha Ratwatte is tipped to be appointed as party chairman, UNP spokesman Dr. Karunasena Koditu-wakku told The Sunday Times. He said a full-time secretary and a chairman was a long -felt need which would enable them to devote time for the party's programmes. 

The UNP has also appointed three deputy UNP whips to assist chief whip Tyronne Fernando. A. H. M. Azwer, P. P. Devaraj (CWC) and Mahinda Samarasinghe have been appointed as deputies representing the three main communities, while Mr. Samarasinghe has also been made a working committee member.

Meanwhile The JVP will table a parliamentary motion calling for a drastic reduction in the number of ministers in the Cabinet, the party's group leader Wimal Weerawansa said. He said that in a country burdened with a protracted war, inflation and high cost of living, it was unthinkable for a government with a wafer thin majority to excessively spend on ministers.

Mr. Weerawansa said he would not be surprised if the number of ministers in the cabinet reached 50 soon.

He said the JVP would launch a public protest campaign and collect signatures for a mammoth petition against the biggest cabinet in Sri lankan history.

PM getting Temple Trees

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is to move into Temple Trees, the official Residence of the Premier after President Kumaratunga takes up residence at President's House next week, government sources said.

Mr. Wickremanayake moved into a state residence in Stanmore Crescent after he was appointed Prime Minister in September.

Temple Trees had been the official residence of the prime minister but President Kumaratunga who occupied it in 1994 after being appointed the Prime Minister did not move in to the President's House, the official residence of the President, after she was elected as President the same year.

PC members demand ministerial posts

By Shelani de Silva
Provincial Council members of the ruling People's Alliance who have been elected to Parliament are reported to be demanding ministerial posts.

In the Western Provincial Council alone two councillors are awaiting deputy ministerial posts after being elected to Parliament. 

The post of Chief Minister also fell vacant when he was appointed a Cabinet Minister. 

Western Provincial Council Chairman S. Sakalasuriya told The Sunday Times that the members had to be appointed before November 6 when the council budget would be debated.

The Central Provincial Council too is facing the same problem with the PA and Congress members asking for ministerial posts.

Unseen hand in MSD bodyguard's killing

By Chris Kamalendran
Controversy surrounds the death of Speaker Anura Bandaranaike's bodyguard Ajith Jayasinghe who was killed in a skirmish last Thursday night near his residence at Ragama. He was a Sub Inspector in the Ministerial Security Division (MSD). 

An argument between Mr. Jayasinghe and a group of police officers at the police quarters at Ragama on the previous day followed by an assault on a PA supporter in the area is believed to have led to the shooting.

Acting Police Chief T.Anandarajh told The Sunday Times that shortly before the shooting incident, Inspector Jayasinghe had an argument with a police team which was on its way to investigate into another matter. But with the intervention of OIC Ragama, the dispute was settled.

A homeguard is alleged to have shot the bodyguard while suspicions have also been raised about the involvement of the police. 

Forty -one -year-old Jayasinghe had been shot in front of his residence at Kendaliyaddapaluwa, Ragama around 9.30 p.m.

According to Ragama Police, Mr. Jayasinghe had tried to remove a vehicle without a number plate which had been parked at the entrance to his house. 

An argument had sparked off which eventually led to the shooting.

The suspects had left in their vehicle when police officers from Ragama arrived on the scene after receiving a call from Mr. Jayasinghe's brother. OIC Ragama police had been questioning Mr. Jayasinghe when the vehicle without a number plate returned. Thereafter someone shot at Mr. Jayasinghe. 

Though Mr. Jayasinghe was rushed to hospital, he died on his way having sustained serious gun shot injuries on his chest.

A policeman in civvies, a homeguard and two civilians are alleged to have been in the vehicle without a number plate parked at the entrance to the house. 

A homeguard who is alleged to have been involved in the incident has been taken into custody. Ragama Police are conducting further investigations. 

Fowzie to make more fly-overs at junctions

By Nilika de Silva
Sri Lanka's highway landscape would undergo major changes with several fly-overs being built at many intersections commencing January, 2001, Highways Minister A. H. M. Fowzie said.

Two fly- overs are being designed for the Rajagiriya and Nawala junctions, while the work is scheduled to start at Pannipitiya and Orugodawatte. 

Meanwhile, plans are afoot to remove the roundabout at Dehiwela junction and advance the traffic lights in the first phase. This would be followed by a two lane fly- over. 

Meanwhile, the road from Devi Balika Vidyalaya to Battaramulla will soon be replaced by a six -lane straight drive.

Lacklustre Film Awards ceremony

Leading film personalities were left out at last week's Presidential Film Awards ceremony held at Temple Trees.

Traditionally the annual event is held at the BMICH where award winners, nominees , non-winners together with their families are invited. 

However, this year the ceremony was held at Temple Trees On October 21 under tight security.

While the invitees consisted of mainly award winners, actors and actresses who played leading roles were omitted from the list. Yashodha Wimaladharma who played the leading role in 'Thirtha Yathra' ', adjudged the Best Film, had not been invited.

Several actors and actresses also kept away from the awards ceremony.

Prassanna Vithanage's film 'Pauru Walalu' which earned the Best Actress Award for Nita Fernando boycotted the awards ceremony as the National Film Corporation had not released his film 'Purahanda Kaluwara'

Mr. Vithanage told The Sunday Times that he decided to boycott the awards ceremony because his conscience did not permit it.

'As one of my films was not released, I was not in a position to attend the awards ceremony,' he said. 

"Silver Hands" shelter millennium triplets

By Faraza Farook
The millennium triplets who went through an anti -climax after the ha ho made when they were born, have been promised a future by eight retired women engaged in charity work and the Hatton National Bank (HNB). 

The group of eight branding themselves as 'Silver Hands' held an eco-friendly sale as a fund raiser for the millennium triplets in August and were able to collect Rs. 7,900. They supplemented the proceeds with an additional Rs. 1,100 and deposited in the bank equally among the three little babies.

Hoping to do more, Silver Hands extended their invitation to all banks through which they were able to get HNB involved to finance for self employment for the triplet's father Manupri Alwis who is presently unemployed.

The HNB's (Bambalapitiya branch) Project Finance Division Projectors Club and the Sports Club of the Kalutara branch have offered to help the family by buying a cement block-making machine. Micro Finance Manager, HNB, Gamini Yapa said they were helping through the self employment scheme through which they had been able to launch other projects in Kalutara.

The bank was hoping to donate the cement block-making machine that would cost Rs. 37,500, in mid- November and also would buy the raw materials during the initial stage. "We shall give him the necessary training and assist him in marketing as well," Mr. Yapa said.

He said the bank's field officers based at the Kalutara branch would monitor the recipient's progress regularly. The bank would help the family in other ways too due to their poor living conditions. 

Meanwhile, Silver Hands was offering Rs. 500 every month to the family in addition to visiting them at least once a month and taking goods with them. One of the members of Silver Hands Ms. Sujatha Samarajeewa assured of their continuos support to the family in every possible way for a period of five years.

They were also planning on a birthday bash for the triplets on January 1, 2001. The three little babies have also received 'Panchayudha' from the 'Ira Handa' astrological tabloid.

Donations to the triplets may be made to the Savings Account at the HNB (Bambalapitiya branch).The Account numbers are:

Rashmi Sahasrika - A/c No: 0390206895, Eranga Sahasmy - A/c No: 0390206887 and Pabasiri Sahanika A/c No: 0390206879. 

Recruitment drive targets 10,000 youth 

By Hiranthi Fernando
The Sri Lanka Army's island wide recruitment drive launched on October 25 will continue till November 30. Through the recruitment drive the Army hopes to swell its ranks by 10,000 additional men to be deployed in the operational areas.

Recruitment director Brigadier Upali Edirisinghe said the drive would be carried out simultaneously in all the districts. Publicity had been given in the newspapers.

Every district would have a minimum of seven interview boards, set up in Army camps or Divisional Secretariats. It was the responsibility of the respective regiments to go out to the villages and draw in the youth by awareness campaigns. This would be done initially through the Grama Sevaka officers and Samurdhi Animators. Thereafter, officers from the regiments would go out to the villages to talk to the youth. This process had already started, he said.

Brigadier Edirisinghe also said each district would have two to three mobile interview boards. They would be set up in locations such as temples. Announcements would be made in the neighbouring villages. The next day the interview board would move to another location, he said.

He explained that the island wide recruitment process would facilitate the procedure for prospective candidates. They would not have to travel far from their homes to enlist nor would they have to wait long hours in a queue. 

According to him, the candidates should be Sri Lankan citizens who are between 18 -28. The minimum height is 5', 2" . They should have studied up to Year 9. Together with various allowances, a new recruit deployed in operational areas will earn about Rs.15,000 a month.

At the Recruitment Centre in Colombo 2, about 40 young men were awaiting their turn to be measured and interviewed. After the interview, those found to be suitable would be enlisted right away. They would be accommodated at the Recruitment Centre for a day or two until they were sent to various training centres. The majority of the youth were between the ages of 18 and 24. Many of them had come from distant places.

P. J. Thushara, 22, said he came to Colombo from Kuruvita before recruitment started there. D. G. Dharmadasa, 20, who was from Moneragala, was staying with his sister in Piliyandala. Mahesh Ratnayake also had come from Piliyandala. Eighteen -year -old K. B. Chaminda who came from Weeraketiya had resigned his job in a security firm to join the Army. Rohana Kumara too had given up a job as a private bus conductor to enlist in the Army. All of them expressed their desire to serve their motherland in her hour of need. 

"We are ready to go to the North and fight because as young people our help is needed. If we don't do this, there is no future for our country", Rohana Kumara said.

EU report next week

The European Union election observers who monitored the October 10 polls would release their report early next week in Brussels, political sources said.

They said the report would be presented to the European Union Commissioner Chris Pattern in Brussels.

The EU report is also expected to be presented to the Paris Aid Group meeting which has been scheduled for November after several postponements. The EU in its preliminary report said that despite malpractices in some areas the poll was relatively fair. They said the final results reasonably reflected the political intention of the voters notwithstanding the incidents that occurred. Based on the findings and recommendations of the report, a resolution is to be passed at the European parliament, sources said. The report, though not binding on Sri Lanka, could be used by donor countries to exert pressure on Sri Lanka in areas such as human rights, economic and political reforms, sources said. 

Political barbarism rocks Morathiha 

By Nilika de Silva
In a post- election related incident, the alleged brutal gang rape of a woman has shocked residents of Morathiha in Kurunegala.

Thirty one year old Kusumawathie, her husband Piyasena, and four young children live in a hut close to the road.

As the young family sat watching their battery operated television, on October 11, the night following election day, at about 9.30 p.m. a gang of alleged PA supporters attacked the hut.

Relating the incidents of that fateful day Kusumaw–athie said a large group of men had surrounded the house, banging on the door calling for Piyasena who had worked for the UNP in the run- up to the elections. 

Afraid for the life of her husband, whom the gang was after Kusumawathie, pleaded with her husband to leave the house through the roof, and hide himself in the surrounding jungle.

She stayed on in the two-roomed hut hugging her four children to her. The banging continued. They were about to break down the door, so she opened it slightly. The gang then pushed open the door and entered. 

It was then that the men grabbed Kusumawathie, as her children cried in fear begging them not to hurt their mother. They shoved the children into the other room, at the same time pushing Kusumawathie to the floor.

Both lamps in the house were switched off, as the men used the darkness to shield their identities. 

Kusumawathie said she recognised one of the men as a youth from the same village, when his mask slipped off. Six men had allegedly raped Kusumawathie, and then the gang left, taking with them a torch, an axe and two treacle bottles belonging to the family. 

Kusumawathie was too weak to move she said but she forced herself to stand up lest her children should come to find her in this condition. 

When the noise of the intruders died down she came out of the house to ensure that they had left and would not return. Her husband then joined her, and asked her what had happened. "I told him everything that could have happened to me has happened," Kusumawathi said her eyes brimming with tears. 

"My husband wanted to go to the police station the same night, but I refused. I was too weak to walk down the hill," she said. 

Their small hut was located on a steep hill and there was not even a foot path they could use. Cut off from the rest of the village the family had no help in their hour of need. 

"We went to the Police Station at 7 in the morning, but our complaint was not recorded until 11.45 a.m. that day. They kept saying 'wait a little, wait a little'," Piyasena said. 

"Then close to noon the police officer asked me whether the Provincial Council minister had not met me. "Oya hambavenna manthri thuma ave nedda kiyala, Police niladariya magen ahavua." I said no. Ten minutes later the former People's Alliance PC Minister's vehicle drove up to the police station. This was a coincidence.

"He came up to me and offered me Rs. 25,000 saying, "let us sort this out peacefully". My two elder children were witnesses to the incident,"Piyasena said. 

He said he feared for his two children as threats of kidnap had already been communicated to him. The victim of this alleged political barbarism Kusumawathie is now ashamed to come down from her hut and face the villagers while her children have not been to school since the incident.

Piyasena and his family live on the meagre income earned from selling breadfruit and other vegetables that are grown on the hillside.

Meanwhile Rambodagalla Police officer Sugath Kumara told The Sunday Times that all six people had been arrested and that an identification parade was scheduled for November 8.

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