Six News Items of (Factual) Interest

US firm in 1968 recommended construction of 6 dams to prevent floods and landslides 

by Ajith Alahakoon and Kushan Subasinghe (Island)

A US engineering company had warned 49 years ago that Sri Lanka would continue to suffer from floods and landslides till it constructed six dams across three main rivers, Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said yesterday.

He told The Island that he had requested the government to implement the proposal by the US company to erect six dams at several places of the rivers Kalu, Gin and Nilvala, so that the country would be free from floods threat.

The Colorado based ECI Engineering Consultants Company in a feasibility study done for the Agriculture, Irrigation, Lands and Power Ministry warned that there could be landslides and floods. The report had called for timely action to control the three rivers and otherwise predicted floods and landslides, the minister said.

CCTV Footage: Another Muslim-Owned Shop Torched In Maharagama

Colombo Telegraph

Another Muslim owned shop “Just for you”, a shoe store has been set ablaze just a kilometre away from the leather shop that came under petrol bomb attack in Wijerama junction less than twenty four hours before. CCTV footage obtained by Colombo Telegraph shows a lone man in a bicycle throwing a petrol bomb and running away. A strategy to drive the Muslims away from this Government is in full swing. Who is the architect of this strategy?

A shop in Maharagama came under a firebomb attack at around 2:20 am on 7th of June. None of the local media has reported this incident. There is strong suspicion that local media have been advised by the security forces not to highlight these attacks as the European Union and other diplomats have expressed their concern over the Government’s indifference, inability or lack of resolve to address the growing intolerance of minority communities by some Buddhist racist elements, including a few from the Buddhist clergy.

The Muslims who observe fast during this sacred month of Ramadan have been severely constrained in observing their religious rituals. The mosques all over the country have called upon Muslims to show total restraint as they believe that some forces are working to destabilize the country and force a regime change through cross overs in Parliament. The Muslim politicians have been advised by the Muslim religious and civil leadership to ensure that they stand united in defending the rights of Muslims to practice their religion without fear.

A Muslim youth who spoke to Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity expressed his disgust at the way the Government is continuing to ignore the numerous demands of the Muslim community to arrest the perpetrators of these crimes.

“we need to deal with our wheeler-dealing politicians and bring back a political culture which would ensure that our parliamentary representatives will first and foremost fight for the rights of the Muslims to live as equal citizens in this country while practicing our religion. Failure may drive our youth to extremism which would be disastrous to the country,”he further said,.

Another civil society activist from the evangelical Christian community said “Yahapalanaya did not stop the assault on the Christians even though there was a lull in the attacks against the Muslims. Now, the forces of evil have started their violent campaign once again targeting the Muslims, and there is strong suspicion that elements within the Government and the Joint Opposition have teamed up to cause this new wave of violence.” He further stated that “it is time the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner and the International Community took strong measures to stem this violence”. (Kamani Senanayake)

Vaiko denied entry into Malaysia
Daily News

MDMK Chief Vaiko was stopped from entering Malaysia on Friday morning as his name is on the list of people who are against Malaysia. Vaiko went to Malaysia to attend the marriage of Penang Deputy Chief Minister Prof. Ramasamy that is to be held on June 10.

Vaiko was stopped at the Kuala Lumpur airport at 6.30 a.m. and the officials there told him that he could not be allowed to enter the country due to his LTTE connections.

Vaiko will be sent back to India in a flight that reaches Chennai at 10.45 pm on Friday. “Vaiko received the visa to visit Penang along with his PA Arunagiri nearly one week ago. Times of India

Cops to get tough on child begging
Daily News

In the wake of a sudden rise in child begging in the recent past, especially in the city of Colombo and its suburbs, the police have decided to initiate special raids to arrest those who forced children into begging, the Police Headquarters announced yesterday .

Police Media Spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody said during 14 raids conducted during the last three months, 18 children were taken into custody and produced in courts.

“Eleven boys, seven girls who were engaged in begging were arrested during the raids. Four of them were sent to children’s probation homes. The remaining 14 were handed over to their parents on a Court bond,” he said.

Therefore police said special operations will be carried out in Colombo and the suburban to arrest the child beggars by the Police Children and Women’s Bureau Head office and 42 other divisional offices. (Thilanka Kanakarathna)

Gota denies connection to BBS and recent attacks
Daily Mirror

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa today denied allegations of any connection with the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or the recent attacks aimed at Muslim owned shops.

In a facebook post, Rajapakse strongly condemned the false rumours linking his name with the BBS and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in connection with the atrocious burning of Muslim owned shops in the recent past.

“I strongly deny such allegations and decry the attempt to tarnish my reputation once again. We need to have the wisdom to understand the political agenda behind such conspiracies and rise as one nation against such despicable acts aimed at inciting racial disharmony,” he said.

John Amaratunga threatens journalists
Daily Mirror

Furious over the questions asked by some journalists regarding garbage disposal at Bopitiya in Wattala, Minister John Amaratunga is is reported to have threatened them with death while leaving the party office in Kandana today.

Cartoon from Ceylon Today

According to some journalists who had videoed the entire episode, the minister had turned furious asked the journalists to leave the vicinity when they told the minister that the people were blaming him for the garbage crisis at Bopitya.

“I am the person who shifted it here from there. Do not report false news. Otherwise, I will beat you all to death,” he told the journalists.

Despite the journalists attempting to explain the matter to the Minister, he repeatedly accused them of reporting false news and forced them to leave.

“Get lost,” he said using unprintable words.”Just see the questions they are asking. If you do not know the facts it is better not to ask. We are the ones who have stopped it,” he said.

When the journalists said they were only conveying what the people were saying, the minister said these journalists need not teach him about people’s views.

“You don’t try to teach me. I know it. Do not come through this gate hereafter. Please… It is enough now. Leave… you just leave!” he threatened.

The minister who was approaching the journalists in a threatening manner was calmed down by those near him.

“Do not make me a bad person by publishing false news,” the angry minister said.

John regrets losing temper with media
Daily Mirror

Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga regretted last Thursday’s incident where he was compelled to ask journalists to leave his residence.

He said the new found press freedom is being abused by a section of the media to bring the government into disrepute.

He said some journalists have no respect for the truth nor the basic decency to report on facts, the Minister’s media secretary and former Western Provincial Minister Lawrence Madiwela said in a statement clarifying the circumstances that led the minister to respond to the journalists at the time.

Madiwela said a meeting was held at his residence at Kandana to discuss waste disposal at Muthurajawela premises and its impact on the environment with the residents in the area.

“No journalist was invited to cover this meeting and it was open only for members of the organization protecting the Muthurajawela wetlands”, Madiwela in his statement said.

He said that Minister Amaratunga was compelled to ask the journalists to leave his residence as they were posing the same issue repeatedly with a hidden agenda in mind.