Self-determination will lead to separate state

Usually it is only drowning men who clutch at straws. The straw in the Prabhakaran news conference clutched by our Premier was the passing phrase, "internal self-determination" within a string of other dictionary definitions of self-determination that the Prabhakaran-Balasingham duo spat out in their interview.


Bus operators to hold talks with LTTE
By Sunil Jayatillake
Representatives of private bus operators' association are scheduled to visit Kilinochchi on Wednesday for talks with LTTE leaders on resolving the prolonged dispute in running the Colombo-Jaffna bus service. According to the latest proposal from the LTTE, civilians will have to make use of the bus services operated by the LTTE in areas controlled by it.

Thus buses on the Colombo-Jaffna route will have to run empty in the areas controlled by the LTTE and pick the passengers at the entrance to the army check point. The Sunday Times learns that the proposal has been made as the LTTE wants to make sure that it does not lose on the revenue collected from the passengers travelling in the areas controlled by it. However, the proposal would mean that the passengers would have to pay more for their trip.

The LTTE on Friday turned away two buses which had started off from Jaffna and were planning to come to Colombo directly. The buses were turned away at the Eluthumaduwal check point. There was an immediate reaction from the Private Bus Operators' Association in Colombo about the LTTE proposal. The association's president, Gemunu Wijeratne said that instead of forcing the passengers to get off and board another bus, they would agree to pay the LTTE the fare which the LTTE would be losing as a result of buses directly operating between Colombo and Jaffna. Mr. Wijeratne will be leading a three-member delegation for a meeting with the LTTE in Kilinochchi on Wednesday to discuss the bus service.

The state transport board has kept 10 buses ready to resume the Colombo-Jaffna service, but has not got the government clearance so far. Meanwhile, the LTTE has begun allowing civilians to travel along the A9 road between Omanthai in Vavuniya and Muhamalai in Jaffna. More than 5,000 civilians among them Sinhalese and Muslims, had travelled along the A9 road during the New Year season. Some of them were visiting the Nagadeepa in Jaffna.

An average of 1000 people was making use of the facility and they had to undergo the normal security checks made by the troops and the LTTE at Omanthai. At the army check point private vehicles have to submit photo copies of their licences and insurance certificates of the vehicles while at the LTTE check point too they are subjected to checks.

Hospital hawkers in peace bid
Hawkers in the vicinity of the National Hospital have started talks with doctors to reach a settlement over the incident which took place early this week leading to a four-day strike by doctors and prompting them to call for the demolition of the unauthorised structures. A group of pavement hawkers had appealed to the doctors not to call for the removal of the unauthorised structures within the hosptal square in Colombo.

The Colombo Municipal Council has already set April 30 as the deadline to evict the pavement hawkers. Dr. Jayantha Liyanage, Chief Executive Officer and the Municipal Commissioner told The Sunday Times that the pavement hawkers had met him on Friday and informed him about the talks with the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA).

"I have told them that if they reach any settlement I would need the details of the settlement in writing from the GMOA," he said. Dr. Liyanage said he was looking forward to make alternative arrangements for the pavement hawkers who have been operating in the hospital square. He said there were 26 such persons.

Doctors spread their strike from the National Hospital to other hospitals in Colombo on Wednesday bringing all admissions and OPD treatment to a standstill. The prevailing atmosphere in the hospital square has posed a threat to employees of hospital too.
On Wednesday, one of the employees of Ward 72 of the Accident Service was hit in the head when he went to one of the shops to make a purchase.

Deputy Director, Accident and Orthapaedic Service, Dr. Anil Jayasinghe said the Health Department was looking into measures to improve the security of the hospital. "The hospital security service is very weak and we need to improve on it. We have now strengthened the hospital police post". H. M. Chandrika, a fruit vendor said she would lose her only livelihood if she was evacuated from the Hospital Square. For nearly 25 years, Ms. Chandrika and her parents have had their business on that same spot. "I have to pay a loan taken to carry out my business and today (Wednesday) I haven't been able to pay, because I have had no cutomers. If I don't pay the money due daily, the money lender would send me to jail," she cried.

Avurudda at global village for VIPs!
By Shelani Perera and Harinda Vidanage
Though the hallowed customs is for people to go to their villages to celebrate the National New Year, a large number of cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and MPs thought otherwise and went out of the country for the New Year.

With the closing of the Budget debate on April 11, several ministers took wing on official or private visits and some will be out for upto three weeks. Still more are due to fly out. Minister Arumugam Thondaman who met LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on April 14 returned from Kilinochchi on the same day and within hours left for Britain.
Ministers G.L. Peiris, K.N. Choksy and Ravi Karunanayake are on a four-nation tour of Britain, the United States, Japan and India.

Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe is on a five nation official tour of the Netherlands, ermany, Italy, Britain and the UAE; Minister S. B. Dissanayake is visiting Australia and New Zealand and Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is in China Ministers Mahinda Wijesekera, A.H.M. Azwer and Earl Gunesekera are in Dubai, as was Minister Bandula Gunewardene who took the opportunity to watch the disastrous Sharjah Cup before he returned on Thursday. Minister Tissa Attanayake flew to India and Minister Karunasena Kodituwakku to Vietnam while Minister John Amaratunga went to the US on a personal visit.

Doctors' strike raises queries on violation of human rights?
In the aftermath of the four day doctors' strike which left thousands of patients in agony, civic action groups are raising questions whether regular crippling of public hospitals amounts to a violation of human rights of patients.

While some patients' rights groups were considering the possibility of petitioning the Human Rights Commission, eminent medical personalities were contacted by the Sunday Times for their views. Prof. Lalitha Mendis, Dean of the Colombo University's Faculty of Medicine said she believed dialogue was preferable to strike action but she also understood the conflict of doctors who sometimes had no alternative.

Prof. Mendis said it was clearly not correct to make innocent patients suffer. But in the latest case of assault on a doctor at the National Hospital, Prof. Mendis said if strike action had not been taken the case would probably have dragged on with justice being denied to a doctor who had been allegedly mauled by some drunken visitors. She said more police security should be provided especially at the accident ward of the National Hospital while the authorities should also create confidence among doctors and provide an effective mechanism whereby grievances and problems could be resolved without delay.

The dean of the medical faculty stressed that however high the calling of doctors might be they should not be expected to submit meekly when they were assaulted as in last Sunday's incident. She said doctors and others had a human right to work without the threat of being assaulted while the trend of hitting first and settling matters later could not be condoned in any way

Patients' rights campaigner Dr. Joel Fernando, a former president of the Organisation of Professionals Associations said strike action raised clear ethical questions for doctors. But he said the primary cause of such incidents was the state of political thuggery and virtual lawlessness that prevailed inside and around the country's two main hospitals- the National Hospital and the Lady Ridgeway.

Dr. Fernando said a spate of political appointments mainly to minor staff positions in recent years had created a serious security problem in and around the two main hospitals making it difficult if not impossible for doctors and nurses to work with dedication and commitment.b He said the state of political lawlessness and thuggery needed to be addressed because the thugs in and around hospitals were violating the basic rights of the patients and medical staff.

Dr. Eugene Corea a member of the ethics committee of the Sri Lanka Medical Association said he believed the doctors needed to act with a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the human rights of the patients. Dr. Corea said an effective mechanism was needed to sort out matters relating to security, political thuggery and other grievances of doctors. But he believed the GMOA needed to reflect deeply before precipitating a situation that caused agony to thousands of patients who could not afford private treatment.

Mass demo against govt.-LTTE hegemony
By Shelani Perera
A mass demonstration and a picketing by opposition parties are scheduled to be held in Colombo on Tuesday to protest against the government - LTTE agreement and the proposed talks between the two sides. The protest rally which will be at Hyde Park Corner at 4.00 p.m will be addressed by former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena, NUA leader Mrs. Feriel Ashraff and JVP MP Wimal Weerawansa. A large number of Buddhist monks are due to take part in the protest campaign MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena told The Sunday Times that the protest rally is not limited to the government- LTTE agreement, but also about implications of the agreement.

" The rally is to show that the government is working towards the division of the country and the handing over of the North and East to the LTTE. It is a very serious problem and we have to take immediate steps to stop this, we will also create awareness among the people" Mr. Gunawa-rdena said. The protest rally is organised by a movement identifying itself as the "Movement against the division of the country and for honourable peace" .

The protest comes in the wake of a group of Opposition MPs forming a front to fight for the rights of the Sinhala people. MPs are scheduled to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to explain the implications of the agreement with the LTTE. Meanwhile, the JVP would hold a picketing at the Lipton Circus immediately prior to the protest rally with the participation of people from Ampara,Trincomalee and Vavuniya. People from the North and East would come to Colombo in a motorcade to Colombo, sources said. They will also hand over a petition at the Prime Minister's office.

Back to Top
 Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.