ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 4, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 23

Sound of silence rebounds on officer

The head of the audio visual section of the Cultural Department has been interdicted allegedly because he failed to provide a public address system to announce the President’s condolence message at the funeral of Kokila Devi Weeratunga, a relative of the President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga.

But the officer who is now facing a disciplinary inquiry is claiming that he was informed about the requirement of the public address system (PAS) only after the coffin was brought to Kanatte and when he rushed to the cemetery with the sound set up the funeral ceremony was over.

The PAS and other equipment requested from the Cultural Department had been sent as ordered to the Art Gallery where the body was kept. However, the PAS had not been sent to the cemetery as the funeral organisers had not ordered beforehand to send it to the cemetery.

The Sunday Times learns that the Director of the Cultural Department had got a call on his mobile phone asking for the PAS as the Secretary of the Department had to read out the speech of the President. The Director had sent the vehicle to the now interdicted officer, asking him to send the PAS. At that time the officer had been providing facilities for practices of a musical programme at the John de Silva Theatre as scheduled.

As the officer had no authority to send a PAS without an officer in charge, he had waited to get the Director’s permission to cancel the programme he was supervising and transport the PAS to the cemetery.

However, by the time the officer had got permission, cancelled the scheduled events and reached the cemetery, the function had been over and on the next day he had been interdicted without even a preliminary inquiry, on the grounds that he refused to follow orders to supply the PAS to the funeral. An inquiry had been held a month after the interdiction on the intervention of a lawyer retained by the officer.

According to the Code of Cemeteries, loud speakers or music bands are prohibited inside the cemetery unless the permission of the municipality was obtained. Moreover, the officer had suffered a total pay cut though in normal circumstances, an interdicted officer gets half his salary if he is not interdicted on a financial issue.

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