the noose or hang the man?
Presidential spokesman Harim Pieris told The Sunday
Times that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had
always opposed the death penalty as she felt life imprisonment
was an adequate deterrent. He said although the pros and
cons of the re-implementation of the death penalty was being
debated in Parliament the President's stand would not change.
It was nearly
four years ago that former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP),
T. Manoharan's daughter-in-law, Rita John was murdered off Crow
Island in Colombo.
Mr. Manoharan's son, Sudanthiran had married Rita in India few weeks
earlier and they were making their first trip to Colombo as a couple.
family had been seeking justice and eventually the suspects involved
in the case were arrested and charged for rape and murder of Rita.
They were found guilty by a trial at bar and all four suspects involved
in the case were sentenced to death.
have appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr. Manoharan during his 36
years’ service in the Police Department was also involved
in dealing with the subject of crime and is one of those who strongly
believes that the death penalty should be re-implemented to reduce
the country's increasing crime rate.
should at least think of re-implementing the death penalty for at
least two years to bring down the crime rate," he says. He
says that in some of the cases the culprits are not prosecuted resulting
in the crime rate increasing further.
is one of many who believes that political leaders should agree
on the implementation of the death penalty to curb crime. But another
group strongly believes that the death penalty should not be re-imposed.
This is the
dilemma politicians and authorities have been facing regarding the
death penalty amidst the increasing crime rate in the country. The
government is prepared to go for a referendum to obtain public opinion
on whether it should push for the re-implementation of the death
penalty which was halted 27 years ago after the notorious criminal
'Maru Sira' was sentenced to death at Bogambara prisons in Kandy.
More than 500
people are currently in death row, but most of their sentences have
been converted into a life sentence by the President or after appeals
to the Supreme Court.
At the already
overcrowded prisons those sentenced to death are held in a special
section with families being given permission to visit them with
meals. This is in contrast to other prisoners where visits are restricted.
itself is divided over the issue of re-implementing the death penalty,
but some opposition members favour the idea as they believe it would
help bring down the increasing crime rate.
John Amaratunga who is among those pushing for the imposition of
the death penalty believes it would help to keep the crime rate
low while other measures to curb crime continues.
had consultations with the Prime Minister and the party and decided
that we should have an open debate on the issue allowing members
to express their opinion in Parliament. We are prepared to go for
a referendum," Mr. Amaratunga said.
debate to seek opinions of the MPs this week ended inconclusively
with the debate spilling over to another date. Government members
were permitted to speak according to their conscience and accordingly
some of them supported the idea, while others opposed it.
One of the issues
raised by those pushing for the death penalty has been that some
of those sentenced to death have had their sentences turned to life
imprisonment which is of a maximum of 20 years, and it does not
have an impact on those who continue to commit crimes.
Perera, a Sociologist told The Sunday Times, there was an urgent
need to enforce the death penalty as civil society has been made
vulnerable due to the failure of law enforcement authorities and
the judicial system.
the government should try this out for a short period and more importantly
politicians should be an example to society. What is happening today
is that most of the crime is committed by politicians and the culprits
get away easily," he said.
inquiry against councillors yet to begin
By Nalaka Nonis
Nearly two months after 12 UNP provincial councillors from the Southern
Province defied a directive from the Prime Minister and took wings
to India and Thailand on a study tour, the much-talked-about disciplinary
probe is yet to begin.
Secretary Senarath Kapukotuwa told The Sunday Times that the formal
inquiry would begin after the party's disciplinary committee received
the letters of explanations sought from all 12 councillors. He said
that all but two had sent in their letters of explanation.
The tour, which
was described as a study tour, was originally proposed by the UNP,
but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe shot down the proposal,
suggesting that the money allocated from the decentralized fund
for the visit should be used for development purposes.
UNP opposition leader, P.M.B Cyril, said that immediate action would
be taken against those who violated the Prime Minister's directive.
first wreath of wrath
group of PA MPs brought a floral wreath into the Chambers of the
House on Tuesday, they weren't the first to have done so. In November
1976, veteran leftist politician Vasudeva Nanayakkara enacted a
similar drama in the old Parliament at Galle Face. The incident
took place soon after the killing of a student leader of the Peradeniya
University Weerasuriya that had given rise to much unrest in the
It was also
the last days of the United Front coalition led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike
and the LSSP that had been part of the government had left and joined
the opposition ranks.
who represented the Kiriella electorate for the LSSP brought the
wreath and placed it in front of the Prime Minister as a mark of
protest against the killing of the student. The debate on the second
reading of the budget had been under way with the then Finance Minister
Felix Dias Bandaranaike on his feet.
In the commotion
that followed the wreath incident, former President J.R.Jayewardene
who was then the leader of the opposition had attempted to make
a statement and could not do so due to interruptions from the government
side. Soon after, the opposition had walked out in protest.
next day Mr. Jayewardene defended the action saying that Mr. Nanayakkara
had only brought in flowers. Speaker Stanley Tillekerate who was
presiding at that time had said he must put on record that the conduct
of the MP was not in keeping with the decorum of the House.
orders inquiry into wreath mystery
Joseph Michael Perera has ordered an inquiry to ascertain how a
wreath was smuggled into Parliament chambers by a group of PA MPs,
official sources said.
investigations have revealed that parts of the wooden stand for
the wreath had been concealed in the attire of some PA MPs who had
entered the chambers that day. The flowers had purportedly been
brought into Parliament by PA MPs for presentation to the newly-appointed
Secretary General of Parliament, Ms. Priyanee Wijesekera, the sources
who had been on duty in Parliament has been transferred as they
had failed in their duty to search all Members of Parliament properly
before they enter the chambers, the sources said.
described the security lapse as very serious and ordered the viewing
of the closed circuit TV footage of parliament chambers to ascertain
how the security lapse had occurred, the sources said.
kuch’ in a big soup
'Kuch, kuch hota hai' in Hindi means 'something is happening', and
something wrong is clearly happening, when scantily clad young school
girls dance to the music of a Hindi song at the opening ceremony
of an international sports event in Colombo.
broken out in many quarters following the live telecast of last
Sunday's opening ceremony of the Asian Grand Prix which included
a dance item of the popular Hindi hit by two leading schools in
Colombo with young girls being paraded in short skirts and blouses.
Johnston Fernando and Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Karunasena
Kodituwakku are now reportedly facing a different kind of music,
with questions being asked whether Sri Lanka is culturally bankrupt
that it has to choose a Hindi song item for an international sports
event that was being hosted by Sri Lanka. Questions about inappropriate
clothing for school children have also come up with educational
authorities being asked to come up with new guidelines to prevent
But nobody seems
to be taking responsibility for the cultural fiasco. The two schools
involved in the item are pleading innocent saying they were only
carrying out ministerial orders and had nothing to do with the creation
of the controversial dance sequence.
for Visakha Vidyalaya, said they had nothing to do with the designing
of the clothes or the creation of the dance while a spokesperson
for Sirimavo Bandaranaike Balika Vidyalaya said all they did was
to release the students.
an order from the Education Ministry and we are bound to obey orders,"
she said. Meanwhile Education Ministry additional secretary, Mrs.
I. Kariyawasam said, "The Ministry of Youth Affairs and the
Sports Secretary wrote to our Ministry Secretary asking for school
children for the display, and I gave the relevant authorisation."
Sports Minister Johnston Fernando however, defended the action saying
if Hindi films could be shown freely in Sri Lanka without any protests,
what was wrong in depicting a sequence of a Hindi film.
He said since
many Asian countries were taking part in the event the organisers
had to cater to all participants. “Besides we also had events
that reflected our culture,” he said.
He said the
dance item comprised students from a private gymnastic school and
students from the two schools who were invited to participate Meanwhile
Minister Kodituwakku said he has asked the Additional Secretary
of Education, Ms. Kariyawasam that in the future when authorization
is given for such an event special attention be paid to the clothing
and nature of the dance performed by school children.