Rehabilitation Centre for the Communication Impaired organized an exhibition titled, 'Talking about talking' at the Lionel Wendt recently. Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who was the Chief Guest is seen testing out the audiology equipment
The ruling SLFP's plans to resume some political activity in war-torn Jaffna suffered a body blow yesterday's when the party's chief organiser was shot dead by a suspected LTTE gunman, military sources said.
They said the SLFP's chief organiser S. T. Dharmalingam was shot dead at point blank range at his residence in Ariyalai near Jaffna town of Friday night.
Sri Lanka has ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights consequent to Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar depositing the instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of the United Nations on Friday.
"At the risk of exposing itself to tendentious propaganda by terrorist groups, the Govt. has taken a number of measures on a broad front to pursue an open policy on human rights," Mr. Kadirgamar told the UN General Assembly, citing the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in the country.
While Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera was insisting that the Sinhala Commission interim report would end up in history's dustbin, another Minister yesterday demanded that the Parliamentary Select Committee should hear and consider the views of the commission.
Agriculture Minister and PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratne who is openly opposing vital aspects of the devolution proposals told The Sunday Times the Sinhala Commission and other religious or civic groups had the democratic right to be heard before the constitutional reforms were finalised.
The growing difference of opinion between these two senior Ministers and others emerged amidst indications that the package and the constitutional reforms might be further delayed and would come up in parliament only after February next year.
Government leaders, including Constitutional Affairs Minister G. L.Peiris who is spearheading talks on the package, have repeatedly said the package would be presented some time this month.
But with intense all-party talks still going on and wide differences of opinion existing, the possibility of finalising the package and presenting it to parliament this month is remote. With November and December being reserved for the budget debate the earliest for the package would be January or even after the golden jubilee independence celebrations in February next year, political sources said.
Mr. Jayaratne told The Sunday Times the Cabinet, the PA parliamentary group and executive committee would need to hold several more meetings to review and reconsider various aspects of the constitutional reforms before finality is reached.
Meanwhile religious leaders and trade unions yesterday expressed concern over the growing religious disharmony over the devolution proposals and Minister Samaraweera's attack on the Sinhala Commission report.
Two and a half years after the Permanent Commission on Bribery and Corruption was appointed following election pledges made by the PA Government, The Sunday Times learns that the first corruption case has been filed by the Commission against a school principal .
She is alleged to have solicited and accepted cups and saucers and a table cloth amounting to Rs 900. The case was filed in the Magistrates Court recently.
The principal has been charge-sheeted for corruption in the alternative to charges of bribery filed against her. It has been alleged that she had demanded and received the bribe from a student to certify educational certificates which she is by law, mandated to do.
The charge of corruption has been filed under Section 70 of the Bribery Act of 1994, which created a new offence of corruption making it an offence for any public servant to refrain from doing any official act with intent to confer an unlawful benefit upon herself/himself.
At the time of enactment of the law, it was pointed out that creating a new offence of corruption which has a significantly wider ambit than the old law of bribery would lead to an increased accountability in public office.
Justice Minister G.L.Peiris speaking of 'undreamt of' instances of corruption that was surfacing daily in ministries and public departments spearheaded the passing of the law in Parliament amidst expectations that the law would speed up prosecution of 'the corrupt sharks and not only the minnows' in state bodies.
Nelum Gamage, Director General of the Permanent Commission to inquire into Bribery and Corruption, has been prohibited from talking to the media regarding certain developments concerning the Commission.
When The Sunday Times contacted Ms. Gamage, she refused to comment on the basis that action might be taken against her for speaking to the media.
Under the Secrecy Clause of the law establishing the Commission, officers of the body cannot comment on information coming to his or her knowledge in the exercise of his or her official duties. There is no provision for a blanket prohibition to be issued on any officer.
The Commission's chairman retired Supreme Court judge T.A.D.S Wijesundera when contacted by The Sunday Times to confirm whether the Director General had been stopped from talking to the media refused to comment at all, saying "I do not want to know what the matter is about even."
Customs chief S.M.J. Senaratne insisted this week he was continuing to probe the Sept. 3 raid by his men on Stassen House and he would not bow to political pressure.
Mr Senaratne told The Sunday Times they were processing the 41 files in their custody on alleged grounds of under-invoicing to the tune of several millions of rupeesby the major import-export firm.
He confirmed his own men were under investigation after Stassen House raid. Both the CID and the Customs are probing alleged irregularities in the Customs banking branch and its import division, and the Finance Ministry has questioned officials from the Preventive Division who took part in the Stassens raid following a complaint by the Managing Director of the company.
On Tuesday, the Customs Chief told a news conference he had explained to the President that he had prima facie evidence to press charges in the Stassen's case. Using a Sinhala idiom 'Puhul Hora Karen Dene' he said this was not a case of shooting a rabbit- but a case of shooting a wild elephant.
A Minister told The Sunday Times the Customs Chief could not have given such a news conference without the approval of the President.
Refuting allegations of a cover-up by the government on this allegedly massive defrauding of the Customs, the Minister said, "this government will not cover-up such cases."
At the weekly Cabinet media briefing on Thursday Minister G.L.Peiris who is Deputy Minister of Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said they were not fully aware of developments in the case, but Mr. Samaraweera insisted that no one had ordered that the investigations be ended. Meanwhile UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale accused the govt. of trying to cover-up Stassen's investigations by the Customs because big businessmen who financed the PA were involved. He told a party meeting in Balapitiya the UNP would expose all those who were plundering the people's money, if it came to office.
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