Click image for a larger view


CBK: JVP killed Vijaya, I got no compensation
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has told the cabinet that though husband Vijaya Kumaratunga was assassinated by the JVP, she had not received any compensation.
"My father was assassinated and my husband was killed by the JVP, but I did not get any compensation," the President said.

The comments came a day after the President met JVP leaders in a bid to reach a common understanding on major national issues.

The President made the comment when two ministers raised the issue that the UNPers were not being paid compensation though they were affected in election violence. The questions had been raised by Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Ravi Karunanayake. They had raised the issue about some of the UNP members not getting compensation though the Presidential Secretariat.

The ministers had raised the issue whether families of those affected by the Udathalawinna violence were paid compensation and the President said yes. Thereafter Ministers Karunanayake and Senaratne had said that their party offices were also damaged, but compensation had not been paid.

Unhealthy questions
A recent presentation at the Health Ministry has raised questions relating to ethics and product promotion.

The presentation by a German company based in India showed the latest technology in tele pathology, provoking questions by concerned parties as to whether the Health Ministry was getting involved in product promotion.

The private firm involved is an equipment supplier, and is said to be a bidder for some of the equipment for which tenders are called for by the Ministry.

The Health Ministry's Lab services Director Dr. Jayasundara Bandara said he saw no ethical problem.

He claimed the presentation was aimed at increasing awareness of tele pathology technology and was not a product promotion.

"It was not a propaganda sponsorship, but an educational presentation for health administrators regarding the introduction of the newest technology to the field," he said.

Y-8 crash: Test run to doom
By Tania Fernando
It was just another day at Kadjuduwa Watta in Dodangoda with people working in the paddy fields and children playing alongside.

Around 12.40 p.m. on Thursday, the drone of an air-craft drew little attention as it was a frequent occurrence.

But little did the villagers below realise, that the aircraft was facing engine trouble and would soon crash into the paddy fields in a ball of fire.

Witnesses say it appeared that the pilot was looking for a safe place to land to avoid injuring any civilians.

An eye witness, 13-year-old Kasun Chamara said he was out playing with his friends when he heard the aircraft.

"When I looked up I saw the bottom part of the aircraft was on fire. Then I saw something flying out of it and there was a loud noise. I asked everyone to run," Chamara said.

Another witness M. Kusumalatha, said that she was in the paddy field with her husband and grandchild. They were about to tie their cattle, when they heard a loud bang.

"I looked up and saw to my horror an aircraft on fire, hovering above our house. It was coming down and pieces of the aircraft were falling on the roof of a house close by.

"Within seconds the aircraft crashed into the paddy field," Kusumalatha said, adding there was so much of smoke that she was unable to see what had happened. She fell on the ground as she was hit by a piece which had exploded from the aircraft.

She said she found that her husband was bleeding and had also been burned. He was rushed to Hospital.

Soon shocked villagers flocked to the burning site. Air force personnel were trying hard to keep the people away while fire fighters battled to control the flames.

S. A. Piyaratne, one among the crowd said he had seen the aircraft and heard noises like crackers. "When I rushed outside, it had already crashed and the whole area was covered in thick smoke," he said.

When we went there only one body had been recovered. An Air Force officer said they were able to identify the victim by his wedding band. The other four bodies were recovered during the course of the day.

The Pilot of the aircraft was 36-year old Squadron Leader Thusith De Silva, and his co-pilot was 34-year old Squadron Leader Marlon Thomas. They both had approximately 6000 hours of flying experience. The others in the ill fated aircraft were Flight Lieutenant S. N. R. Rajapakse, the Navigator, Sergeant D. A. Jayasiri, flight engineer and Sergeant Gunaratne, Communicator.

An Air force official who was at the crash site said the Y8 Chinese built aircraft had taken off from Ratmalana Airport, around 12.20 p.m. on a test run. 15 minutes after take-off they had radioed claiming to have engine trouble and was asked to return back to Ratmalana.

This aircraft is normally used to transport cargo to Jaffna and was supposed to go on a flight on Friday with cargo, prior to the test run.

Wing Commander Ajith Wijesundera, spokesman for the Air force said although it was engine No. 2, that was replaced two weeks ago, the fire occurred in engine No. 4. He also said this aircraft has an automatic fire extinguisher which should put out the fire off. This aircraft was purchased by the Air Force in 1993.

Meanwhile, Air force Commander Donald Perera has appointed a four member team headed by Air Commodore L. Salgado, Director Operations to probe the crash.

Why is Otunnu not coming?
By Faraza Farook
UN Special Representative Olara Otunnu has indefinitely put off his visit to Sri Lanka amidst a controversy over why it was postponed and whether the LTTE persuaded the government to put it off.

Mr. Otunnu Special UN Representative for Children in Armed Conflict was scheduled to arrive today for a five day visit but a Foreign Ministry official said it had been put off because Mr. Otunnu had another urgent assignment in Africa.

When Mr. Otunnu came here four years ago the LTTE gave an assurance it would stop child recruitment. But the practice is widely believed to be continuing with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission reporting last month there were 55 confirmed cases and 125 unconfirmed cases of child recruitment since the ceasefire agreement in February.

Some reports said LTTE's Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham may have requested a postponement of Mr. Otunnu's visit to which the Sri Lankan government acceded to avoid jeopardizing the talks to be held next month.

Mr. Balasingham is reported to have promised in Oslo during the recent talks that the LTTE would look into the findings of the SLMM with regard to child recruitment and other rights violations and take remedial measures.

Cabinet spokesman G.L. Peiris said on Thursday that Mr. Otunnu was expected shortly and would be welcomed by both the government and the LTTE.

Despite warnings and concerns raised by several international child rights organisations such as UNICEF and Amnesty International, the LTTE reportedly continues to recruit as young as 10.

According to reports and information from the North and East children are brainwashed by showing LTTE propaganda, successful missions etc. in schools and refugee camps.

In June this year Amnesty International suggested monitoring of child recruitment and other alleged violations of human rights by the LTTE in the North and East. The organisation said it had information on 26 specific cases of child recruitment between the ages 13-16 years.

Amnesty too was assured by the LTTE that its current policy was not to recruit persons under 18. "We have a very clear statement that this will not continue, but we continue to get cases of that nature" AI said.

The SLMM in its report last month said the practice of child recruitment was not only a violation of the ceasefire agreement and international law, but it was also hindering the restoration of normalcy in Sri Lanka.

Controversy over new arthritis drug
New evidence published in world medical journals has raised questions about two new arthritis drugs that are being widely prescribed in Sri Lanka.

The drugs, Celecoxib and Rofecoxib, are two of the newer drugs for arthritis sold under brand names in Sri Lanka. Doctors here have begun to prescribe these medicines in a big way.

The chief claim has been that these drugs are safer than the older group of drugs like ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium.

However disclosures in the Washington Post, subsequent letters in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Journal indicate that the results of the studies which were funded by Pharmacia, the company that manufactured celocoxib, may have been misrepresented to show that this drug is safer than the older drugs.

The full results of the studies have shown that the older medicines like ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium are actually safer than celecoxib, the journals said.

The widely respected BMJ in a recent editorial has expressed serious concern that the flawed findings which were published in the original JAMA 2000 (Vol 324) article may have contributed to an increase in sales of celecoxib from 2623 million dollars to 3114 million dollars in 2001, alone! Letters in JAMA that followed this article in subsequent issues highlighted the flaws.

The manner in which the study involving Rofecoxib was conducted too, has prompted the BMJ to call for an "industry independent" analysis of studies invloving selective Cox2 inhibitors (e.g. Celecoxib and Rofecoxib).

So if you are a patient who has been prescribed one of these drugs by your doctor it might be safer to get back to the older drugs till things are sorted out.

SL born N.Yorker throws big chips into Lanka
A Sri Lankan-born New York fund manager, who has been buying into blue chips on the Colombo bourse in recent weeks, says he believes the peace dividend would boost the bottom lines of companies as consumer demand revives in the north and east.

"I believe there is a genuine desire on both sides to achieve peace," 45-year-old Raj Rajaratnam, told The Sunday Times before flying back.

He said his latest investments in the Colombo stock market were made with his own, personal funds and not those of Galleon Group, one of the largest hedge funds in the United States.

The technology-intensive Galleon Fund has over five billion dollars in assets, according to Mr. Rajaratnam who is the founder and owner of the group.

Mr. Rajaratnam bought Rs 200 million worth of Commercial Bank shares last Wednesday. Asked why he was taking the risk of putting in so much money here, when the war was not over yet and many other investors were still watching the situation, Rajaratnam said, "Being a native Sri Lankan I have a better understanding of the process here than other foreign investors. My business is taking calculated risks and I think the risk-reward ratio is pretty attractive."

Mr. Rajaratnam said he returned to the island not to make investments but to take a holiday with his family and began buying shares when the market fell sharply on fears of a snap general election.

"It gave me the chance to buy some very attractive shares at attractive prices," he said.

He said he was a "passive and long term" investor and was keen to give something back to the country of his birth. He gave three reasons for investing here: the low price-earnings ratios, well-managed blue chip firms, and the prospect of more tourists visiting the island and an overall improvement in the economy if the truce holds.

"If the status quo stays, there'll be not only a tourism boom but a huge consumer dividend as people in the north and east start buying consumer durables," Mr. Rajaratnam said.

The blue chip conglomerates stand to benefit because of the diversified nature of their businesses he said.

Back to Top
 Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.