|Security checks cheese off
International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs),
including the United Nations (UN), are reportedly
irritated about the security checks which their vehicles
in the north and east are constantly subjected to,
sources told The Nation yesterday.
An official from a leading NGO said that that owing to
the checking, the activities of these organisations have
been hampered in both the north and east.
However, an official attached to the UN office in
Colombo pointed out that the security forces were very
particular about carrying out checking when there were
local aid workers travelling in the vehicles, and that
they rarely stopped vehicles transporting foreign aid
“Local aid workers are the victims of these thorough
checks. However this has not affected foreign aid
workers much, probably owing to the certain amount of
immunity enjoyed by foreign aid workers in Sri Lanka,”
the official noted.
Meanwhile, development work continued to be hampered in
the north, following restrictions imposed by the
government on transporting certain goods to Vavuniya and
An official from a leading aid agency said that it was
very difficult to work in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi, as
they did not have fuel for their vehicles and as a
result, they were unable to transport necessary goods.
He also said that the area did not have electricity
Paper marking to
start on Sept. 4
The crisis with regard to the evaluation of G.C.E A/L
answer scripts is likely to be settled by Monday and
evaluation will begin on September 4, the Education
Ministry told The Nation yesterday.
Calling the crisis an attempt at sabotage, Examinations
Commissioner Anura Edirisinghe said that at the meetings
held in three evaluation centres in Colombo on Friday,
the attended evaluators complained of being harassed by
the teachers’ unions via telephone and requested a
solution to the problem as early as possible.
Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said, “Their
salaries can be increased only when the Review Committee
recommends it. The teachers’ trade unions want a
confirmation of this through a circular. This can be
done only after the budget allocations are made. It is
pointless asking for this now. However, the decision is
in the hands of the Review Commission.”
Secretary, Educational Professionals Association,
Wasantha Dharmasiri said that the strike had been a
success since the unions managed to totally stop all
teachers attending evaluation.
COPE to be opened for journalists?
The United National Party (UNP) is continuing to urge
the government to permit journalists to cover
proceedings of the Committee on Public Enterprises
During a private member’s motion in Parliament recently,
UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake emphasised upon the need to
permit journalists to cover COPE sittings on grounds
that the Committee dealt with public institutions and
therefore the public has a right to know what takes
place during such sittings.
“However, it is no secret that this government is averse
to the media, and they are continuing to oppose our
proposal,” Karunanayake told The Nation recently.
HRC launches spot checks on police
he Human Rights Commission (HRC) has launched spot
checks on police stations around the country to find out
whether law-enforcement officers are engaging in any
“The move is to check whether police stations are
illegally arresting persons, unlawfully detaining them
and or whether anyone in custody is being subject to
torture or other forms of harassment,” Commissioner,
Justice D. Jayawickrama told The Nation.
The aim of this programme, according to the HRC
Commissioner, is to ascertain whether police officers
are observing and respecting the human rights of all
those under their custody.
Jaffna civilians hampered by
Essential items in Jaffna continue to be sold at
appalling prices, despite attempts by authorities to
control prices in the peninsula.
“Despite a decision taken by the Jaffna Government Agent
to impose a price controlling formula in the peninsula,
the businessmen are paying scant regard to the price
controlling formula and are jacking up prices in an ad
hoc manner, according to their whims and fancies,”
sources told The Nation.
As a result, most of the shops sell both essential and
non essential products keeping a flat profit of 100%, if
“The public is helpless against these racketeers, as
they have only two options, either pay exorbitant prices
and survive or starve to death,” sources pointed out.
Honey crisis solved by Champika
Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka has intervened to
bring about a settlement to the honey crisis after four
Veddas (indigenous persons) were arrested by Wildlife
Department Authorities when they attempted to collect
bees honey from the Maduru Oya Forest Reserve.
Their leader Uruwarige Wannila Aththo told The Nation
that they received a permission letter from the Minister
to enter the jungle without any obstacles to collect
honey for their annual bees honey pooja.
“The Minister has also assured us that he will take
steps to withdraw the case filed by the Wildlife
Department against the four Veddas....
system in crisisUncertainty prevails as protagonists enter the fray
Sri Lanka in its post-independent era has for long
taken pride in the social luxuries it provides for
its people; most notably, free healthcare and free
education that it offers, no matter what financial
constraints successive governments have been faced
with. Of these two services, it is education that
has been hogging the headlines in recent weeks – and
for all the wrong reasons too.
The education system appears to be in crisis with no
ready solution in sight: university students are
more on the streets than in their campuses with
their capital expenses slashed in half; teachers are
on strike refusing to mark advanced level answer
scripts; and most infamously, new admissions to
national schools are bogged down in a protracted
legal wrangle that is rapidly snowballing into a
showdown between the legislature and the judiciary.
Seemingly Sri Lanka should be a country cited as a
role model in education: there is universal access
to free education right through to the university
level, and at primary and secondary levels, not only
is education free, students are provided uniforms
and text books free of charge as well. What more
could one ask from the state?
Yet, the recent unrest in the education sector
suggests otherwise. That there is this much
discontent indicates that while education is free in
principle, the planning and resources that have been
afforded to this vital sector have been inadequate.
And make no mistake; mishaps in educational policy
can have far reaching and devastating consequences.
A period of conjecture is presently prevailing for many in the government as
well as the opposition. The main reason for this is because nobody seems to be
certain about what is taking place within their own confines. There is suspicion
all over and the true state of affairs is yet to be revealed.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is definitely a worried man since the opposition is
exerting pressure on the government from various fronts. Be it in Parliament or
otherwise, it appears that the government is facing a Herculean task to forge
The arrival of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga has made things worse for
him politically, since the SLFP-Mahajana wing would receive an additional boost
given her presence in the country.
While some may argue that she no longer has any political clout, given that she
has seemingly retired from politics, it appears that she is trying to make her
presence felt by participating in many social events. By the looks of it, the
independent media is betting on the former President and giving her prominence,
due to the perilous situation in the country.
Soon after her arrival, Kumaratunga was seen at social gatherings, chatting to
people about the political climate and the present administration. Many members
of the SLFP had already telephoned her and many had welcomed her back to the Sri
Lankan political arena.
The main opposition has not shown any interest in meeting Kumaratunga and
soliciting her support. However, there is a section in the UNP which is of the
opinion that her assistance would provide a great boost to the opposition
campaign against the government.
RETURN OF THE ‘QUEEN’
The speculation about Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s
return to active politics has been rampant since November 2005.
Her exit from the political scene was anything but graceful, she
retired young and some might even say she was unceremoniously
kicked out of the SLFP presidency soon afterwards, although she
refrained from making too much noise about it then.
But as last week unfolded, it became increasingly apparent that
Kumaratunga had returned to the island this time with a clear
resolution that she would assume a more public role. Her visits
to Sri Lanka since she left office have been largely personal
ones and she steered clear of the limelight on all those
occasions. On this trip however, the former President has thrown
herself back into the public eye, posing with politicians and
diplomats and generally making her presence felt.
Ranathunga makes headlines again
Arjuna Ranathunga entered politics riding on the hype of being
the captain of the team that won the 1996 Cricket World Cup.
Almost 10 years later he’s making headlines again. Last Friday
he quit as the party organiser for the Kotte electorate and
handed over his letter of resignation to the President.
Ranathunga revealed that his decision to resign was based on
differences he had with Kotte Mayor. “This wasn’t a sudden
decision. From some time I found it increasingly difficult to
execute my duties in Kotte. Finally it came to a point when I
felt it was pointless remaining as the party organizer” he said.
Ranathunga said that he did not want to get entangled in the
corruption prevalent in the Kotte MC.
|England fail despite Mascarenhas
(AFP) - Sachin Tendulkar’s 99 set up India’s nine-run victory against
England at Nevil Road here Friday which saw them level the seven-match one-day
international series at 1-1.
Tendulkar’s 80th ODI fifty was the centrepiece of India’s record 329 for seven
In reply, the hosts got close with 320 for eight - England’s highest total
batting second in a one-day international.
Ian Bell top-scored with 64 and all-rounder Dimtri Mascarenhas, whose
previous-best score was five, later kept England in the hunt when it seemed they
were out of the game with a 36-ball fifty featuring five sixes and a four before
he holed out for 52.
Mascarenhas hit the spinners for three sixes to reduce the requirement to 65
from the final six overs and added two more, sending one shot into the guttering
of the stand, before mis-cueing to mid-wicket in the penultimate over.
Those were the days
Wednesday August 29 will be an auspicious day when the Gamini Dissanayake
Foundation holds a grand charity banquet to honour the late Minister who played
a significant role in helping the country achieve full membership of the
International Cricket Council (ICC) which eventually led to Sri Lanka playing
It is now 26 years ago since Dissanayake changed the destiny of Sri Lanka
cricket with his forceful and forthright speech which had the lords at Lord’s
astounded and ashamed why they had constantly in the past pushed back Sri
Lanka’s case for full membership.
The historic day dawned on July 21, 1981 less than a month after Dissanayake had
been elected president of Sri Lanka Cricket, with Pakistan proposing and India
seconding Sri Lanka’s admission.
From their onwards it was a case of improving the
infrastructure of Sri Lanka cricket and making available
to the players the best facilities for them...
Corrupt Officials, Politicians Exposed
SLFP backbencher and Chairman, Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Wijedasa
Rajapakse has the nerve to call a spade a spade. A member of the UPFA, he has
opted to take on all the corrupt State institutions and individuals by their
horns. As a result, he has become a hero in the eyes of the public, who are
witness to widespread corruption initiated by the politicians themselves. Though
humble, he is fearless. He says that, when 30% to 40% of Sri Lanka’s student
population suffer from malnutrition, he simply could not stand by and watch
politicians and their henchmen swindle money from the State, to fatten their
purses. “I am not there for the luxury of my colleagues. I am there to serve the
nation. I have no obligation towards any of my colleagues. My obligation is
towards the general public” he told The Nation in an interview
Following are excerpts:
Q: Much light has been shed on the COPE investigations, and you,
in particular, have come under flak for exposing corruption
within State institutions. How do you face such criticism?
A: I am glad there is no criticism from the public. The
media and the public appreciate what I’m doing, except for a few
politicians charged with allegations of corruption. So far,
nobody from the public, has challenged me directly. However, I
have problems with my parliament colleagues. I am not there for
the luxury of my colleagues. I am there to serve the nation. I
have no obligation to any of my colleagues. My obligation is
towards the general public.
Q: The COPE, to date, is not empowered to take action or recommend action
pertaining to corruption within a particular agency. Then, what
is the use of these exposures?
“Mangala is now a political refugee” –
acknowledging that there is a need to defeat the present
government, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will have
nothing to do with achieving the political agendas of the United
National Party due to that fact that its economic, social and
cultural policies are detrimental to the development of the
country, stated JVP Parliamentarian and Trade Union Front Leader
In an interview with The Nation, commenting on the latest
invitation extended SLFP(M) Leader Mangala Samaraweera, who
called on the JVP to join the new National Congress to defeat
the government, Lalkantha asserted that the need of the hour was
to build up a truly national front, uniting all progressive and
patriotic forces to pull the country out of present mess.
Samaraweera at a press conference held on Wednesday made a
passionate plea to members of the JVP, whom he referred to as
“my erstwhile friends whom I respect,” to join hands with the
National Congress that has been formed with the UNP in order to
topple the incumbent government.