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8th August 1999

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While most city girls are cncerned about the lipstick and other make-up
on their faces, these brave girls from village get mud or greasa on their
faces as they prepare for combat and other security jobs hitherto
reserved for the males. They are part of a batch of hundred Air Force women
being specially trained in jungle combat defending united Sri Lanka.
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Reforms package delayed again

by: Shelani de Silva

The Government is likely to further delay the tabling of the Constitutional proposals despite a promise given to PA parties and wide publicity that the long awaited Bill would be introduced in Parliament this month.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told The Sunday Times the Government had not yet fixes a date to present the reforms while UNP leaders also expressed doubts whether the Bill would come this month.

Mr. Fernandopulle said his personal view was that the government would first need to have talks with the LTTE before presenting the proposals which were intended to provide a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

He said even if the UNP supported the proposals and they got two thirds majority implementation would be difficult without some agreement with the LTTE.

The decision to introduce the Constitutional reforms in Parliament this month was taken on July 23 at a late night meeting of the PA executive committee presided over by President Kumaratunga.

This came after the two of the constituent parties, the LSSP and the CP warned they would have to reconsider their positions in the alliance, if the constitutional reforms and the devolution proposals were not presented this month.

Minister Fernandopulle said that contrary to media reports earlier the government had not decided on a date to present the reforms in Parliament. He said the slaying of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam recently might lead to a further delay in finalising and presenting the proposals. With indications of further delay in presenting the proposals, the LSSP and the CP leaders said that were watching the situation and would decide on what to do if the promise given by the President was not kept.

An LSSP spokesman told The Sunday Times the Central Committee would meet to take a decision if there was further delay while CP leader Raja Collure said he still hoped the proposals would come after the anniversary celebrations on August 21. But id nothing happened the CP would have to reconsider the position.

LSSP rebel Vasudeva Nanayakara said he believed the party should pull out of the alliance if the government further delayed the reforms and devolution package.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe told a news conference on Friday that he believed the government was bluffing or dilly-dallying because the order paper in Parliament for the next few weeks had no time allocation for the presentation of any reforms or devolution proposals.

London gift in QEQ deal?

By Dilrukshi Handunhetti

In the latest corruption scandal rocking the PA administration, the UNP is firing charges over the alleged gifting of two London mansions to two VIPs after the signing of the controversial multi-billion rupee deal for the development of the Colombo port's Queen Elizabeth Quay.

UNP sources said that mansions each valued at US $ 500,00 had been gifted for the assistance rendered by the VIPs in completing the transaction with the multi-national consortium.

The UNP is also likely to move for a debate on the QEQ deal and a host of other allegations including the possibility of cheap labour from the Philippines being brought in at the expense of Sri Lankan port workers

Mahanama T reinstated

A presidential directive has been issued to Chief Justice G.P.S. de Silva who is also the Chairman of the Judicial Services Commission, to immediately reinstate High Court Judge Mahanama Tillekeratne in his previous capacity.

The memorandum was issued by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge on August 3 in the wake of Mr. Thillekeratne's acquittal of charges of attempted murder and causing grievous hurt to his neighbour G.H. Somachandra.

In mid June following contradictory evidence by an eye witness, Attorney General Sarath N. De Silva called for Mr. Thillekeratne's case record on the attempted murder for careful examination of material to ascertain whether charges should be brought against him for a lesser offence. Subsequently the case was dropped due to glaringly contradictory evidence by the witness.

It was alleged that Mr. Thillekeratne along with three others including his son attempted to kill his neighbour Somachandra.

Mr. Thillekeratne also succeeded in his petition to the Supreme Court claiming the violation of his fundamental rights for which he was awarded compensation. Judge Thillekeratne has also requested his reinstatement as a High Court Judge in the aftermath of successful legal battles.

In this backdrop comes the presidential directive for the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Thillekeratne subject to a disciplinary inquiry by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) headed by the Chief Justice himself.

Maharajahs refute Mangala

Maharajah Organization Chairman R. Rajamahendran has dismissed Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera's repeated public pronouncement about an MTV programme critical of the UNP leader not being telecast.

Multi-millionaire Rajamahendran, whose business conglomerate recently entered the media field, has in a note of appreciation to staff, specifically issued following the Minister's pronouncement, said that the programme Mr. Samaraweera was talking about 'was never scheduled in the first place'.

He has even suggested that 'outside influence' may have come to play in motivating this programme.

" I am aware that the said programme was never taken off the schedule as it was never scheduled in the first place, but kept on file due to the availability of only three hours for English programming on this channel, to be released when a slot become available' he has said in his internal memo.

Minister Samaraweera has said "The leader of the UNP can show his genuine commitment to the concept of freedom of information by requesting MTV to broadcast the 'In Focus' programme with Nevil Jayaweera and Stanly Kalpage which was taken off the air at the request of the Leader of the Opposition because it was critical of his leadership (or the lack of it)."

Mr. Rajamahendran has said that he is 'more than aware that many, of various political colours, have tried to infiltrate and influence our Media' and adds that 'an instrument like our media should never be used to wash dirty linen'.

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