3rd June 2001
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It was smiles all around when President 
Chandrika Kumaratunga visited Ambuluwawa 
in Gampola recently on an invitation by 
Minister D. M.Jayaratne with no signs 
of the much speculated political tensions 
showing between them. Here Mr. Jayaratne
is pointing out to the President the plan for 
the development project which would 
include the Ambuluwawa bio-diversity 
complex, a stupa named Govijana Chaitya
and an international conference hall. 
Pix by Kamal Jayamanna. 

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Mirrror Magazine

Bail Act amendment coming

By Laila Nasry
As a step towards curbing the escalating violence arising out of organised crime and other serious offences, an amendment to the Bail Act is to be presented in Parliament shortly, a spokesperson at the Justice Ministry said. 

The Act is being amended taking into consideration the current trends in criminal activity in the country and in response to the need to provide an environment which will be conducive to the better administration of justice. 

Under the proposed amendment, bail would be denied to any person brought before court for a scheduled offence, until the conclusion of the trial.

However, if no proceedings have been instituted against the person within three months, the Magistrate can release such person in the absence of any reason to remand him further. 

With regard to non-scheduled offences if the Magistrate deems it expedient to detain the person he can do so for a period of 15 days. 

At the conclusion of fifteen days the Magistrate shall release the person subject to Section 13 which, inter alia, deals with offences punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Further, in order to facilitate investigation and aid the efficient detection of crime the provision authorizing anticipatory is to be repealed.

Proposed legislation to deal with organised crime will be drafted in conformity with the amendments proposed in the Bail Act. 

Ombudsman post filled 

By Tania Fernando
The post of Ombudsman which has been vacant for more than nine months was filled on Friday evening with the swearing in of former Appeal Court judge Dr. R B Ranaraja at President's House. 

This post which has to be filled by the President has been vacant since the retirement of the last Ombudsman, Prof. Bertram Bastiampillai.

The Sunday Times learns that more than thousand complaints are presently stagnating at the office as none of the queries could be answered without a head of department.

The Ombudsman's office receives more than 100 complaints for a week and all have to be personally replied by the Ombudsman.

The appointment is made under the Parliament Act No. 17 of 1978 to look into all service problems, promotions, violation of human rights disciplinary action against public servants, etc. However he has no authority to hold inquiries into complaints against politicians.

Investment declines 

By M.Ismeth
Despite intensive promotional campaigns undertaken by the Board of Investment, (BOI) foreign investment inflows to Sri Lanka declined in the year 2000.

According to BOI sources the realized investment in BOI approved industries in 2000 declined by 35 percent, from Rs. 28,814 million in 1999 to Rs 18,709 in the year 2000.

The main reason for the decline in investment was due to deteriorating investor confidence owing to several war related incidents in 2000.With the declaration of a 'war footing', investors may have adopted a 'wait and see' approach by withholding investment projects.

The uncertainty created by the general election also contributed to the lower investment flows in 2000. The BOI which functions as the main government agency for the promotion of foreign investments made substantial efforts to attract investment.

It organized several investment promotion missions to USA, India, UK, Sweden, Norway and France in 2000. Several foreign delegations also visited Sri Lanka in 2000 in search of new investment opportunities.

Expensive machines gather dust as staff sign on attendance sheets 

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Despite Parliament having purchased four card swiping machines at the cost of Rs. 8.5 million two years back to record the attendance of Parliamentary staff, the machines are yet to be installed. 

Authoritative sources said the machines are kept in a cubicle. Workers claim the purchase of the machines has been a waste of money as there is no effort taken to install them even two years after their purchase.

Parliament has over 800 employees who are issued with identity cards bearing the Parliament logo. As we reported last week, the IDs still bear former Secretary General Bertram Tittawella's signature and are in a worn out state.

Sources said that despite the costly purchase, the recording of attendance is still by signing on attendance sheets while almost all other public institutions have by now adopted the card swiping machines. 

Routine transfer, says Wildlife Dept. chief

The transfer, on a Presidential directive, of Wild Life Director A P A Gunasekera to the Cultural Ministry on Friday gave rise to speculation that it was made over the recent incidents at Udawalawe National Park.

Mr. Gunasekera was transferred as the Senior Assistant Secretary to the Cultural Ministry.

Senior Assistant Secretary to the President Janath Gunaratne has been appointed Acting Director Wildlife.

Mr. Gunasekera was under pressure following an incident at Udawalawe where a tracker was attacked by an elephant which resulted in the closure of the park. However Mr. Gunasekera denied he was transferred due to the recent incident and added that it was a routine transfer.

Brief respite for demolition squad

By Nilika de Silva 
The Urban Development Authority (UDA) will now require a court order to demolish unauthorized structures within the Colombo city limits, The Sunday Times learns. 

While more than 2000 quit notices await the signature of the Colombo Mayor, the people living in unauthorized buildings have gained a brief respite. The powers are vested in the Municipal Council to remove obstructions to streets. However, the UDA is planning to get more legal powers to go ahead with its plans.

On June 1, the UDA acquired the power to issue planning permits to the people of Colombo and the CMC was informed on May 28 that water supply would also be taken over from June 15.

Main opposition UNP spokesman Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku said the move was a ruse to privatize the distribution of water. He said the UDA was established under the UNP regime to approve plans but the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) continued to handle the water supply, The new move would render 300 CMC workers jobless.

Meanwhile, the CMC is to challenge the UDA for the alleged violation of the 13th amendment of the Constitution. The CMC's case against the UDA for acquiring the Vihara Maha Devi Park is pending before the courts. 

The UDA on Friday opened the City Points at Maligawatte and Narahenpita, which would handle building applications, giving approval for land subdivisions, sewerage connections and preliminary plans.

The UDA's deputy director general K. V. Dharmasiri said applications would be processed on the Internet to help those living abroad. He also said the UDA had taken over certain functions from the local authorities in Nuwara Eliya, Kataragama and Anuradhapura.

Meanwhile, former Mayor M. H. Mohammed said the water supply, sewerage and garbage clearance were matters for the CMC and not the government. He expressed fears that the current trend might extend to cover even Urban Councils.

Meanwhile, the CMC will formally inform the UDA not to go ahead with its demolition programme, as it would adversely affect the livelihood of the people. 

SC upholds right to equality

By Laila Nasry
Upholding the right to equality once again the Supreme Court has awarded Rs. 50,000 as compensation to a police inspector who did not get his promotions due to political victimisation.

The Bench comprising Justices Mark Fernando, C. Wigneswaran and P. Edussuuriya. ordered the Defence Secretary, Inspector General of Police and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to grant the petitioner H. L. Jamaldeen his promotion to the rank of Inspector of Police with effect from December 24, 1980 and to the post of Chief Inspector of Police with effect from April 12, 1986.

The court further directed that he be promoted to the rank of ASP on a supernumerary basis within three months. 

Mr. Jamaldeen citing Defence Secretary Chandr-ananda de Silva, former IGP W. B. Rajaguru, PSC chairman Tissa Devendra and ten others stated in his petition that he failed to get his promotion as ASP due to political pressure. He said he had all the academic and professional qualifications for the promotion.

He said in 1983 he had a misunderstanding with the then Minister of Trade A. R. Mansoor. While serving at Moneragala as assistant O.I.C. (crimes) attempts were made to obstruct him from performing his official duties during the referendum by the then Member of Parliament Dharmadasa Banda. Mr. Jamaldeen also said though such attempts had been unsuccessful the MP bore considerable animosity towards him. 

He had been branded as an SLFP supporter as he gave evidence for former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike against President J. R. Jayewardene in an election petition. 

He said as a result he was transferred to operational areas and denied due promotions for the past 17 years.


No meals with dirty crooks 
A farewell lunch to be hosted by the CEB Chairman in honour of retiring Director General K Gnanalingam became a non-event, after the DG backed off apparently in protest against the presence of ten senior officials allegedly involved in corruption. The DG told the chairman that he would not have a meal with "dirty crooks". He had initially thought the lunch to be hosted at TransAsia Hotel on Thursday was only between the two of them. CEB sources say another reason that made the DG to back off was that one of the senior officials had earlier in the day allegedly tried to hide facts at a COPE inquiry when he was grilled about tender procedures. 
PM's aim won't hit 1000
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake's ambitious aim of getting one thousand Buddhists ordained as monks on the Poson day has reached only the half way mark in spite of newspaper adverts. So instead of a grand ceremony, a simple ceremony is now being organised. 
Which woman?
A senior PA politician's estranged wife in a newspaper interview tried to give the impression of a woman behind the success of her man, but it back fired. She had stated that it was she who looked into all his needs and kept a tidy house since the VIP being a simple man was very particular about a clean house. The article, which appeared in a full page did not go down well with those who are close to the VIP. The newspaper received several calls from the VIP's friends who pointed out who was actually living with the VIP. Unfortunately, the newspaper cannot carry a correction. 
Promise and practice
Do we have men like those who sat around King Arthur's Round Table, who had souls of honour and tongues of truth? May be, may be not. But one Minister, when he took over his new posting after the last general elections, said, "I don't want to continue the corrupt practices that had been committed before." Lo and behold, the country is agog with the news that quotas are for the blue-eyed ones only, or for a few dollars more? Not Clint Eastwood's movie. 
Commissions galore
Sri Lanka might get a place in the Guinness book of world records for having the highest number of committees and commissions to probe anything and everything at the mere drop of a hat. The endless number of committees and commissions is so much that no one knows the exact number of these commissions and committees. The latest but not the last was a committee appointed to look into the soaring cost of living. By the time the committee sits to evaluate the reason for the soaring cost of living, those who are tottering under the burden may be talking about cost of dying. 

Laj receives threats

Former Private Secretary to the Speaker Laj Wickremasinghe has reported receiving threatening messages in recent days. According to family members Mr. Wickremasinghe has been at the receiving end of telephone calls demanding that he refrain from speaking to the Press. These sources said that they were unaware as to who was behind the campaign, but pointed out that they had their suspicions. A close associate of Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, Mr. Wickremasinghe was his private secretary till last month. 

Editors call for dialogue, not censorship

The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka this week said it welcomed the long overdue withdrawal of the Emergency Regulations relating to the prohibition on publication of sensitive military information, commonly referred to as the censorship.

Members of the Editors Guild challenged the censorship on military news before the Supreme Court last year, as being futile, arbitrary and unfair.

It was argued that it served no purpose other than to deprive citizens of their rightful access to news on the most crucial issue in the country, a statement from the Guild said.

The Supreme Court directed the Competent Authority to meet the editors and formulate guidelines on the implementation of the censorship, but no such meeting was held and consequently no guidelines were formulated, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Editors Guild has called on the authorities to establish a continuing dialogue between the government, the military and the media in the reporting of war-related news. The parameters for such a dialogue had been spelt out in a working paper that had already been submitted to the Government Information chief and the Army Commander by the Guild some time ago, it said.

"The parameters have been formulated based on concerns expressed by the military and the requirements of the media in executing their responsibilities", the statement said.

The Editors Guild has also called upon the government to withdraw yet another impediment, that of access to operational areas by the accredited media which together with the censorship has remained an obstacle to the fair reporting of the northern insurgency.


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