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9th November 1997


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The once peaceful farmlands in the north east are now trapped between war and peace. The lands have to be tilled for a living. And now that requires the safety of a gun. Whilst the father prepares his field, the daughter holds a shot gun to defend him in a village near Kebettigollawa.


Battle rocks corruption commission

Moves and counter-moves in Gamage cases

Whilst Sri Lanka's topmost bribery investigator Nelum Gamage continues to remain on leave, the Permanent Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption has called for a replacement to officiate in her place.

The move is on the grounds that Ms. Gamage who is Director General of the Commission has taken "excessive leave". The Commission's recommendation has been made in writing to the Presidential Secretariat.

Ms. Gamage has been on medical leave from November 3 to 15.

Her leave of absence comes amidst reports that a charge sheet is being prepared by Commission officials against the Director General's husband Lal Gamage for alleged corruption.

Ms. Gamage has been asked by the Chairman of the Permanent Commission of Bribery and Corruption, former Supreme Court Judge, T.A.D.S. Wijesundera, whether she would sign the indictment against her husband on grounds of alleged corruption. This is in view of the legal requirement such indictments are signed by the Director General.

The Sunday Times learns that the situation has been compounded by Mr. Wijesundera's view that Ms. Gamage too had to be questioned on several matters including her assets and various claims.

Reports to this effect arose following comments made in the Colombo High Court last Friday during an application filed by Mr Gamage to set aside a warrant issued for his arrest by Colombo Chief Magistrate Chandradasa Nanayakkara early this week. The Magistrate had issued the warrant following complaint made by officials of the Permanent Commission that Mr Gamage who is under investigation by the Commission is evading a direction to present himself before the Commission for fingerprinting and for obtaining a specimen of his handwriting.

Setting aside the warrant against Mr Gamage, Colombo High Court Judge Titus Cooray subjected procedures adopted by Commission officials in the instant case to harsh criticism, saying elementary justice demanded that Mr Gamage should have been officially notified to appear before the Commission for this purpose before a request was made for a warrant to arrest him.

Mr Gamage's appeal before the High Court was on the basis that when the first order was verbally made to him to appear before the Commission, he had requested further time to seek legal counsel, a right that he argued he was entitled to. On no occasion had he refused to appear before the Commission for this purpose, he said.

The arrest warrant was issued a day before Director General Nelum Gamage's writ petition against the Permanent Commission accusing Commissioners T.A.D.S. Wijesundera and Rudra Rajasingham of acting with mala fide against her was due to be heard in the Supreme Court.

The Director General had alleged that the Commission had initiated an investigation against her on vague allegations and in a manner not authorized by the Act.

Hearing of the writ petition filed by the Director General last week was postponed as Supreme Court justices A.R.B. Amarasinghe and D.P.S. Gunesekera declined to hear the petition on the grounds that both the petitioner and the first respondent, retired Supreme Court justice T.A.D.S. Wijesundera, were known to them. The petition had been fixed for further hearing on Wednesday before a Special Bench.

Strangers in MPs' housing complex

Speaker K.B. Ratnayake has initiated action against 20 MPs after several members complained that some outsiders are residing in the MPs' housing complex in Madiwela, Kotte, political sources said.

They said some 20 government MPs had allowed their relatives and friends to reside in the complex raising security concerns and causing inconvenience to resident MPs and their families.

Security officers at the complex also had complained to officials in Parliament saying they had little control over unauthorised vehicles entering the premises, the sources said.

LTTE hits from the rear

Five policemen were killed when LTTE rebels attacked the defence lines protecting the main Vavuniya-Mannar Road yesterday.

The incident occurred between Parayanakulam and Kurukkal Puthu Kulam. Military officials said the rebels who had entered through the Wilpattu jungles attacked the police defence positions from the rear.

Rumpus over UNP focus

By Dilrukshi Handunetti

Four opposition MPs have accused a minister of threatening and using foul language on a TV cameraman on budget day in Parliament, but the minister has denied the allegation.

Parliamentarians Imtiaz Bakeer Markar, Gamini Lokuge, A.H. M. Azwar and R.A.D Sirisena in a statement charged that the minister had abused and warned Rupavahini cameraman Janaka Jayasekera after he focused the camera on opposition members including the controversial Mervyn Silva.

They said the minister had accused the cameraman of having a "contract with the UNP" and warned him against giving TV coverage to the antics of Jokers."

The minister concerned has refuted the charges, saying he only made some inquiries from the cameraman.

Ranil outlines alternative

Devolution Proposals: referendum likely in March

For the first time since the Govt. outlined its devolution package, UNP's detailed response has been spelt out by its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

In an extensive interview with The Sunday Times he has called for a needs-based devolution drawn from the provisions of the 13th amendment.

He says "do we have to devolve such extensive powers to other provinces." The question arises whether people in other provinces want such extensive powers devolved to their Provincial Councils. This is why I spoke of a needs based devolution."

Mr. Wickremesinghe's remarks came as the PA Government contemplated holding a non-binding referendum if the devolution proposals do not receive a two thirds majority.

Government sources said they were examining the possibility of a referendum in March next year, but added that no decision has yet been taken.

Commenting on his call for a revival of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord during his recent visit to India, Mr. Wickremesinghe says this accord and the 13th amendment settled the question of the unit of devolution.

The existing provinces were accepted as Units of devolution. The right of the provinces to merge, provided the people of each province agreed, was also incorporated. Futhermore, provision was made for the temporary merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces.

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