Acrimony at inaugural JMC meeting

[TamilNet, Friday, 24 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Today's inaugural meeting of the newly elected Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC), which began with solemn requests for a non-partisan approach to resolve the problems of the people and for Jaffna's long term economic development, soon slipped into an acrimonious trading of words between the party holding office, and the principal party in opposition, said sources in Jaffna.

The JMC's Mayor, Sarojini Yogeswaran (Tamil United Liberation Front) requested Members to give their cooperation to alleviate the problems of the people and to tackle issues of development in a non-partisan manner.

She said that the Ministry of Local Government had given the JMC three million rupees, while an additional 12.5 million rupees has been allocated for the reconstruction of bridges, roads, culverts and canals by the Relief and Rehabilitation Authority of the North (RRAN).

All the Mayor's exhortations however could not suppress S Kirubarajah (Democratic People's Liberation Front - DPLF) and leader of the opposition in the JMC, when he got on his feet.

While conceding that development issues had to be tackled from a non-partisan point of view, he said that all the Members who were elected were politicians and looked at issues from a political angle.

He demonstrated his convictions by attacking the TULF and accusing certain members of that party of using foul language at a senior official of the JMC.

The next contentious issue taken up for debate was the re-naming of the Alfred Duraiappah Memorial Stadium in memory of S JV Chelvanayakam. Alfred Duriappah was a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Mayor of Jaffna when he was assassinated in 1976.

The widely respected S J V Chelvanakam was leader of the Federal Party which was later transformed into the Tamil United Liberation Front.

The renaming of the Stadium was also proposed by the DPLF, but the TULF members took up the position that to rename something constructed in memory of the dead would be in bad taste.

They also said it would be offensive to the memory of Mr.Chelvanayakam.

The debate only ended when the Mayor intervened to state that today's was only the inaugural meeting and this matter would be taken up later at the appropriate time.

There was also an exchange of words between Mr. Kirubarajah and Mr. Mangalanesan (Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front - EPRLF) when the former proposed that the portrait of SJV Chelvanakam should be hung in the JMC and garlanded.

Mr. Mangalaneasan made a counter proposal that the portrait of Mr. Alfred Duraiappah should also be accorded similar honours. This prompted JMC Members present to whisper among themselves whether Mr. Mangalanesan was a member of the SLFP - of which Mr. Duriappah was a member - or of the EPRLF, said sources.

Mr. Mangalanesan who contested the JMC elections under the symbol of the EPRLF, was originally to be in the list of the Sudu Nelum Movement which is the propaganda arm of the SLFP. However the Sudu Nelum Movement withdrew from contesting the local government elections.

Others who spoke at the meeting were the Deputy Mayor T. Thirunavukarasu (TULF) and S. Subathran (EPRLF).


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