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14th June 1998

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The write attitudes of creative recruits: these are some of the
resourceful young men who will become lawenforcement officers
in the months to come. After the physical checks and other
formalities at the Police grounds at Bambalapitiya,these
would-be officers were asked to fill up some forms. It was a
case of one's back becoming another's desk.
Pic by Sajeewa Chinthaka
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All reports relating to military operations (including the ongoing Operation Jaya Sikurui) are subject to Military Censorship.

SAARC: Colombo Summit on July 20?

By our Diplomatic Correspondent.

While the outgoing Chairman of SAARC President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Maldives has yet to wind up his farewell calls on SAARC leaders, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has already begun his rounds visiting SAARC capitals inviting Heads of Government for the Colombo Summit.

Though the exact date for the summit have not been finalised, The Sunday Times learns it is likely to be July 20.

So far Mr. Kadirgamar has visited Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Premier Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and Premier Atal Behari Vajpayee of India confirmed their participation.

According to the SAARC Charter the Summit must be attended by Heads of Govt., but Sri Lanka created a precedence at the Male Summit when the then Premier D.B. Wijetunge who was not the head of Govt. represented President Premadasa. Mr. Kadirgamar is due to visit Pakistan to invite Prime Minister Nawaz Sheriff.

Mr. Kadirgamar's first visit was scheduled for the Maldive Republic to invite President Gayoom to Colombo. The Maldivian government had however postponed a prior appointment and later not given Mr. Kadirgamar a date. Maldivian High Commissioner Abdul Aziz Yusuf yesterday confirmed that President Gayoom had not fixed dates to visit India and Pakistan for his farewell calls. He said that paying farewell calls was not a tradition by SAARC leaders and that President Gayoom would hand over the Chairmanship to Sri Lanka at the Summit.

Bribery Judges snub President

Won't go under pressure

Sri Lanka's top most bribery and corruption investigators have rejected President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's call for them to resign.

They have declared it may create a public perception that they were pressurised since investigations were pending against higher ups in her Government.

This is what T. A. de S. Wijesundera, a retired Supreme Court Judge and Rudra Rajasingham, a former Inspector General of Police, have told President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in a six page letter sent on Friday, as the year-long battle over the permanent commission intensified during the week.

Mr. Wijesundera is the Chairman and Mr. Rajasingham, a member of the Commission that was set up more than two years ago to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption.

A third member, Siva Selliah died in 1997 and no replacement has been named.

The hard hitting Wijesundera - Rajasingham letter came as 80 Government MPs signed a Notice of Resolution to Speaker K.B. Ratnayake calling for the appointment of a Select Committee to probe allegations against the Commissioners. This was in accordance with Standing Orders (78A) which provided for such a Committee to probe allegations against commissioners and thereafter place the findings before Parliament. If the Select Committee finds that the allegations against the Commissioners are valid, Parliament is empowered through a simple majority of 113 votes to recommend to President the removal of the commissioners.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris has said the Notice of the Resolution is the first step towards removing the two Commissioners.

The opposition United National Party's position will be determined tomorrow its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told The Sunday Times. Our Political Correspondent reports that the UNP is likely to oppose the government's move. (See page 8)

The allegations centre on what President Kumaratunga has called the Commissioner's "bleak record." Among the charges she listed in a letter was that only five cases against five individuals had been completed in two years and eight months.

Another was that over 100 Police officers attached to the Commission have committed to trial a total of 442 cases of bribery and one assets case - a case of one case per officer per year.

The Wijesundera-Rajasingham letter has charged that Senior Superintendents of Police investigating 'sensitive cases against VVIPs were moved out from time to time, and finally all ranks of Police Officers attached to the Commission were transferred."

Full text of the letter

Ja-ela exchange goes boom

Chris Kamalendran

In the latest of a series of yet mysterious explosions a telecommunication exchange of a private phone company in Ja-ela was damaged by an explosion yesterday morning, Police said.

The bomb had been placed on a window of the telecom sub-station at the Weligampitiya junction and it had gone off around 4.30 a.m. Damage was caused to vital telecommunication equipment, Police said. The explosion also caused damage to an adjoining house.

Police said the place was not manned at the time of the explosion. The identity of the group or groups responsible for the series of attacks on the electricity transformers and telephone exchanges in various parts of the country has not yet been established, the Police said. As a precautionary measure Police are carrying out awareness campaigns among the people living in the vicinity of transformers and telecom exchanges. People were being told to be alert and form their own vigilance committees to prevent sabotage.

Telephone companies expressed concern about the attacks and pointed out that they were compelled to take their own precautionary measures to protect the telephone equipment. While many are wondering whether the explosions costing millions in damage, is the work of the LTTE or the JVP, some sources in the government are pointing the finger at the UNP while some in the UNP are pointing a finger at the government.

Empty classrooms for the Education Ministry

By Chamintha Thilakaratne

An Education Ministry move to have Saturday classes in school virtually fell apart yesterday when hundreds of teachers and children kept away.

But the Education Ministry insisted it would not go back on the decision and accused teachers of staying away because they were more interested in private tuition.

More than 6000 Teachers and Principals belonging to the UNP backed Sri Lanka Nidhas Trade Union did not turn up in schools as requested by the Education Ministry to make up for the Vesak holidays and complete the required number of school days for the year.

Many teachers took medical leave while others did it the French way-they simply did not turn up.

As the turn out of students was poor little or no work could be done though classes were held.

Mahanama College Principal K.K.R Attanayake said the attendance yesterday was very low and they were forced to combine classes to get some work done.

"We had very poor attendance of about one fifth of the total," he said.

The Principal of a well known girls' school said the attendance there was only one third but they were looking at the issue in a positive manner.

"Although the student attendance is very poor we have to think of the objective and our obligation. Even with greatest difficulty we tried to conduct classes till 2p.m," she said.

Some Colombo school Principals who are known to have been pulled up earlier for complaining to the media of the poor attendance refused to be quoted although they admitted the response was negative.

Not only teachers and Principals even some parents supported the boycott of Saturday classes. They said it was the children's due weekly holiday for a family outing and for rest. The same view was echoed by some Principals and teachers.

"Saturday is our family day and the only holiday that we get to relax after five long days. Therefore, it is unfair to demand that we come for Saturday classes. At the same time, no other government official who was given that extra Vesak holiday has been asked to work on Saturday to make up," one teacher said.

However Education Ministry Secretary Andrew de Silva was also taking a tough stand. He said the Education Ministry was determined to complete the allocated annual school days.

"We have to complete 208 days of classes, without which a school year cannot be officially accepted. Although teachers refused to attend school yesterday, they agreed to it when the holiday was declared for schools at Vesak. We feel they are doing this because they cannot go ahead with their private tution classes," he said

Censorship relaxed on foreign media

The Government was to exempt the foreign media from censorship –the result of some senior Government leaders realising that the LTTE has had a free run in its international propaganda campaign since the media clamp down.

A gazette notification granting the exemption was to be issued last night.

Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, on Friday met Editors of national newspapers or their representatives to explain why the censorship was introduced.

A similar meeting with foreign media representatives was planned for Friday evening but was called off at the eleventh hour. Instead he met selected officials of the Foreign Correspondents Association.

Sri Lankan organisations abroad complained that the censorship on the foreign media not only helped the LTTE to flood its web sites on the Internet but also bombarded the Singapore and New Delhi offices of news agencies with rebel news releases.

These releases were moved out on the news wire and received great play in the print and electronic media world-wide with only an accompanying paragraph or two saying there was total censorship in Sri Lanka and the Government's own version was not available. Hence the outside world did not know Sri Lanka's and the Government's own story on the 16 year long separatist war.

In a strange turn of events, technology appeared to have devised its own means of defeating the local censorship. The BBC's London based news programme and its Tamil equivalent were aired live by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) after their night news bulletins.

The BBC and the SLBC have entered into a written agreement for this live relay where the latter cannot edit, insert or delete any material.

On June 5, the date on which censorship was enforced, material rejected by the Military Censor were broadcast on BBC Sandeshaya and the corresponding Tamil programme. They went live on the SLBC.

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