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5th April 1998

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VIP Complex problem gets complicated

By Chamintha Thilakarathna.

Residents living around the proposed Presidential secretariat site in Kotte have reportedly received threats from a group who claimed to be involved with security as opposition grew against the new plan.

Despite assurances from the Housing and Urban Development minister Indika Gunawardena that there will be no acquisition of land or harassment of residents to build the presidential complex, moves were underway to go ahead with the project which would force the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

Residents told 'The Sunday Times' that persons claiming to be from the CID had questioned them as to who they were and why they were holding meetings against the project.

"We told them we are simply trying to safeguard our property," a resident said. Meanwhile several environmental groups also have joined the protest campaign, warning that the proposed project would severely affect the bird sanctuary in the area. Some officials say that to avoid demolition of houses, some 200 acres of marshy land would be filled to build the new complex. But this could cause other problems including a flood threat to the city.

An official of the Land Reclamation board warned that if 200 acres around the parliamentary complex were filled and developed, even Parliament could go under water during heavy rain.

UNP spokesman Karunasena Kodituwakku also warned that Rajagiriya, Lake Drive and many other areas will be flooded with the next showers if the government went ahead with the new project.

New phone for global access

By Arshad M.Hadjirin

Sri Lanka is considering setting up a wireless global satellite telephone, in September this year, simultaneously with the launch of this new system all over the world.

Telecommunications Minister Mangala Samaraweera told 'The Sunday times' the US telephone giant Motorola had selected Sri Lanka, among other countries for the launch of this latest invention - the satellite telephone.

The new system is described as the one number telephone, - a mobile telephone operating from satellite signals reaching out to any part of the world.

"Whether you are on top of the Himalayas or seated on your armchair in Colombo, you will have the same number, and could be reached wherever you are, in the world," the minister said explaining the technology of the new telephone

Minister Samaraweera said initially the cost of the telephone could be quite high, but it might come down as sales increased.

Kalutara MP acquitted

By H.P.P. Perera

An opposition MP and four Kalutara politicians have been acquitted by a Kalutara Magistrate as the police have not followed the proper procedure in filing the case.

ilak Karunaratne, MP for the Kalutara district, Dr. W. T .P. Ariyaratne, Kalutara Urban Council opposition leader, and M.R.M. Illias, Q.U.C member, Bandula Gunawardhane, a counsellor of the Western Provincial Council and Lambert Janage were released after their lawyer Bandula Weerasinghe told the magistratethat they had been charged with an offence alleged to have been committed two and a half years ago. Thus the police had violated Clause 88 of the Police Ordinance. The five politicians were charged with holding a procession in Kalutara without obtaining a police permit.

Cornels wins enjoining order

The Colombo District Court has granted an enjoining order restraing the Government including the Secretary to the Treasury and Hotel Developers (Lanka) Ltd from implementing and or giving effect to the four settlement agreements reached earlier.

In the case Cornel & Co filed action against Mitsui & Company Ltd, Taisei Corporation, the Attorney General, Nihal Ameresekere, Hotel Developers (Lanka) Ltd., seeking a declaration that Agreements entered into by the Government with the Defendants are null and void, for permanent injunction restraing the Government from implementing and giving effect to the said agreement and for a judgement in the sum of Rs. three million.

The Cornel Company alleged that the act of entering into the said agreements was fraudulent, malicious and with a view to give an undue advantage and benefit to Nihal Siri Amarasekere without any right to entitlement and to satisfy the desires on the part of Mr. Amarasekere maliciously to take revenge and cause loss and damage to the plaintiff company to take away the rights of the plaintiff and its Managing Director Cornel Perera.

The Court directed the plaintiff Cornel & Company to enter into a bond of Rs. two million as a condition for giving effect to the enjoining order.

Poverty comes to doorstep of the rich

NEW DELHI, Friday(Reuters) - South Asia's new megacities have brought poverty to the doorstep of the rich, the author of a U.N.-aided report on human development said on Friday. South Asia's urban population has more than doubled since 1970 and by 2025, nearly half would live in cities such as Karachi and Bombay that are already coming apart.

"Poverty is increasingly an urban phenomena," said Mahbub-ul Haq, author of a report on Human Development in South Asia.

"This can explode in our faces," he told Reuters in an interview. One-third of Bangladesh's urban population lives in the capital Dhaka, and in Pakistan another one-third are crowded into Karachi and Lahore. One-fifth of India's urban population lives in the five large cities of Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Madras and Hyderabad.

Together these eight cities would house 133 million people by 2015. "Unless policy-makers deal with this issue on a top priority basis, these megacities of the poor can explode through sheer despair," said Haq, a former Pakistani finance minister said.

The disparities are showing up. "Everybody in posh localities in Karachi gets water to saturate the lawns and the slums ... 37 percent of the people live there ... buy water from water tankers," said Haq who heads the Islamabad-based Human Development Centre, a U.N.-aided think tank. Only 20 percent of Karachi's 12 million people have access to a sewerage system. In Delhi 70 percent of the people have no such access.

"They (the poor) can't bear that ... the injustice of it that the rich get the water free from the government and the poor have to pay for it and they go and kill," he said.

About a hundred people have died in Karachi's political, sectarian and ethnic violence so far after last year's toll of 400. About 500 people were killed in 1996 and more than 2,000 in 1995.

"Poverty is no longer quietly hidden in far-flung rural areas ... its bleeding wounds are visible for everyone to see in the megacities of South Asia," the report said. Haq also said South Asian governments should release more resources for education.

"The silent victims of South Asia's educational holocaust include not just the 50 million children out of school, but the 150 million children who are enrolled in primary schools that generally neglect to teach them anything useful," the report said.

'Deshamanya' for leading lawyers

Four leading lawyers are to be given the title of 'Deshamanya' in this year's National Honours List. They are: E.D.Wikramanayake, H.L. De Silva, P.C., R.K.W.Goonasekera, P.C., and Ranjit Abeysuriya, P.C.

E.D. WikramanayakeE.D. Wikramanayake began his illustrious career in the Attorney General's Department after joining as a Crown Counsel in 1958. Having served in many sections in the Department including as the first head of its Corporation Division, he rose to become Solicitor General in 1977.

He appeared as counsel in many landmark cases and before the Contracts Commission and the Exchange Control Commission. He also appeared before the Special Presidential Commission which resulted in the imposition of civic disabilities on Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the late Felix Dias Bandaranaike.

Mr. Wikramanayake appeared for Industries Minister C.V. Goonaratne in a defamation case against the late Lalith Athulathmudali.

An LLB (Ceylon) and LLM (Stanford), Mr. Wikramanayake is a Director of the Private Sector Infra Development Company.

He is the son of the late Eric Bird Wikramanayake QC and former Minister of Justice during Sir John Kotelawala's government.

Herman Leonard de SilvaHerman Leonard de Silva who was born on January 28, 1928, had his early education in Newstead, Negombo and St. Peter's College, Colombo and graduated in law from the University of Ceylon in 1951.

He was admitted to the Bar as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1953 and joined the Department of the Attorney General in 1955 as a Crown Counsel. After serving for fifteen years he reverted to the unofficial bar in 1970.

During his tenure in the AG's Department, he appeared in several cases of constitutional importance, specializing in public law while at Stanford University in California. He was associated with E.F.N. Gratiaen Q.C. and Desmond Ackner Q.C. (later Lord Ackner) in litigation for the Government of Ceylon when appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

After reverting to the unofficial bar he practised for a brief period in the trial courts and later confined his practice to the civil side of the Appellate Courts while appearing in Election Petitions and before Commissions of Inquiry as well.

Some of the well-known public personalities for whom he appeared were Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, S. Nadesan Q.C. and Sarath Muttetuwegama among others.

He was appointed President's Counsel in 1981. He was a member of the Drafting Committee headed by Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, for the first Republican Constitution promulgated in 1972. He was a member of the Government delegation, headed by H.W. Jayewardene Q.C. in talks held on the ethnic problem with the Government of India in Delhi and in Timpu with the Tamil groups in 1985-86.

He was elected President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in 1986-87 and was a member of the Sri Lanka Law Commission. He was also elected Vice-President of the Methodist Conference of Sri Lanka in 1978 and has been a Director of several commercial companies.

Mr. de Silva served as Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative and Ambassdor to the United Nations in New York from February 1995 to February 1998. During this time he was accredited as Ambassador to Columbia and also functioned as Chairman of the U.N. Special Committee to inquire into Israeli practices affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples in the occupied Territories.

He has contributed widely through published articles on questions of constitutional and political interest. He was awarded the title of Vishhva Prasadini for distinguished service in the field of law by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1997. Mr. de Silva is married and has two married daughters and two grandchildren living in Australia.

R. K. W. GoonesekeraR. K. W. Goonesekera was born on May 8, 1928.

Educated at Royal College, Colombo, he obtained an LL.B (Cey) in 1950 before becoming an Advocate of the Supreme Court in1954.

He also obtained a B. C. L. (Oxon) in 1956

Mr. Goonesekera was also senior lecturer of Law at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya.

From 1966 to 74 he served as principal of Sri Lanka Law College.

He was also a professor in Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

A founder member of the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. Goonesekera also headed the Nadesan Centre for Human Rights through Law. He also became the Deputy President of the Bar Council in 1993

Mr. Goonesekera who specialises in Public Law, Constitutional Law and Fundamental Rights was also a member of the Legal Aid Commission and the Law Commission.

Ranjit AbeysuriyaRanjit Abeysuriya actively practised at the Bar on the Criminal side in the Appellate and Original courts.

He served as prosecuting counsel in the Attorney General's Department for 20 years.

After functioning as Director of Public Prosecutions for two years, he returned to the unofficial bar.

He was admitted to the Bar as an Advocate in 1955. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree from the University of Ceylon and a Masters degree of Law (LL.M) from Stanford University, U.S.A.

He was the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka from March, 1991 to March, 1993 and President of SAARCLAW (The Association of the Legal Communities of the seven SAARC countries) from October 1991 to September 1993. He is the Chairman of LAWASIA Criminal Law Standing Committee and a member of International Bar Association Trial Observer Corps.

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