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Anti-Corruption Bill



According to reports, several amendments are to be suggested and made at the Committee stage in Parliament on the 19th July, 2023. We are unaware of these amendments.

Under the Right to Information Act, I asked for information of all cases filed by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) against all Parliamentarians from 1994 to date, i. e. 4th May 2023. In its reply dated 12th June 2023, it discloses that there have been 19 cases filed in the Magistrate’s Court and 12 in the High Court. Of these, 14 cases have been withdrawn as a result of Supreme Court Case No. Writ 01/2011, where it was found that there was no valid directive from the Commissioners to the Director General to institute action. The reasons attributed by the CIABOC in its reply to me are; (1) Technical errors (2) Absence of written consent of the 3 Commissioners for (a) prosecution and (b) an investigation. In one case under the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act, the Accused who pleaded guilty has been fined Rs. 1000/- and in 2 other cases the Accused have been acquitted, no reasons given.

Further, in paragraph “C” of the reply sent to me, it gives the number of cases withdrawn since 2013 as follows (See table):

The CIABOC states that it has refiled 60 cases in compliance of the above mentioned Supreme Court case.

We earnestly hope these technicalities arising from shortcomings in procedure have been adequately addressed in the new Bill

There are three very important matters that have not been addressed in the Bill.

The Commission mainly relies on (a) Police Personnel, either seconded or loaned to it to make its investigations, and (b) engages State Counsel of the Attorney General`s department to prosecute its cases in Court. Both these State departments are subject to political influence and pressure, thereby compromising their independence. We have heard of an Investigation Officer who when at the brink of concluding his investigation was transferred out of the Commission, resulting in no prosecution.

Ideally, the Commission should have its own Investigating Officers and its own Prosecutors.

The allocation of funds to the Commissions are woefully inadequate which makes it prohibitive for it to hire its full complement of approved staff and to recruit new Officers. If the above suggestion is accepted, a much bigger allocation would have to be made annually by Parliament. If not done, it will be a matter of history repeating itself and the Commission continuing to be a dead duck.

There appears to be no provision for the recovery of looted and pilfered public funds, stacked away here and abroad.

A salutary provision in the draft Bill is that it has done away with the 2 Supreme Court Judges and a retired Police Official being members of the Commission. The statistics speak for themselves and prove its failure and its dismal record. I do not understand why an age limit of 62 years has been introduced for the Commissioners. Their term of office is from 3 – 5 years and are ineligible for re appointment.

What it means is that they shall be looking for future appointments and employment through patronage, which will compromise their “independence”. It is much like the case of our superior Court Judges who are required to retire at age 63 and 65.

A few suggestions that may be considered by Parliament on the 19th July.

Section 4 (2) (b) An upper age limit of 70 for the Commissioners would allow a wider field of competent and independent persons from which the Constitutional Council could make its pick.

Sections 41 &42 –Investigations. It refers to the power of the Commission to investigate any matter disclosed as provided in section 42. However, section 4(3) of the present CIABOC Act 19 of 1994 gives the Commission the power to investigate any matter “whether or not such matter relates to a period prior to the appointed date and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law” This retrospective provision is missing in the new draft Bill. The clarion call of the country was and is “catch the rogues and make them accountable”. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that the present provision be retained and we go back to, say 1994 when the CIABOC Act became law.

Section 65 – Prosecutions – The Commission is required to direct the Director-General to initiate prosecutions in its name. As mentioned above, cases were withdrawn upon objections raised by the accused. It has happened too often to dismiss it as mere mistake or oversight. I hope this lacuna in the present law has been addressed adequately.

Sections 67 & 68 – conduct of cases. Reliance on the Attorney General`s department – referred to above

Section 71 – punishment. Why allow the wrong doers to “express remorse” and be let off. They will all do so without the slightest qualm.!!

Section 93 – (paying a bribe) The proviso in this section provides for a Trade Union or “other organisation” to pay an allowance to a Member of Parliament, and such payment will not be a “bribe”. What are these “other organizations”, and why, this provision? Is it to legalise bribes to M.PP.?

Section 111 (Corruption) – section 70 of the Bribery Act has been copied verbatim except for an enhancement of the punishment. It is important to include the “abuse or misuse of power of office’ as an act of corruption, and not leave it for the Courts to interpret it as an act of corruption. Abuse or Misuse of power has plagued our insanely politicised society.

The title of the new law will be “Anti-Corruption Act”, but the word corruption has not been defined.

Section 150 – Sentencing guidelines. Here too upon conviction an “expression of remorse” would entitle the convict to a lenient sentence!!

I hope this piece of legislation will meet the aspirations of the public who yearn for honesty and accountability from our elected representatives and public servants.

Harindra Dunuwille

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Speculations about origin of placename, ‘Negombo’ (Meegamuwa)



By Chandre Dharmawardana,

A writer using the pseudonym GADS, replying to a previous article regarding Negombo, states (The Island 17 Sept. 2023), “It is also historically recorded that the name Negombo is the Portuguese corruption of its Tamil name Neerakolombu and the Sinhala name Meegamuwa which means and comes from old Tamil Naval terminology Meegamam Pattnam. Meegamam denotes a naval captain”.

Unfortunately, the author does not give the reference to this “historical record” or elaborate on the details available from any early sources, Portuguese and Dutch maps etc. Furthermore, he asserts that “Meegamam” denotes a naval captain. Here again, this is certainly not so in any of the Dravidian languages, or Indic languages. No such usage exists even in Arabic and other languages of the Hebrew family, as far as we can ascertain.

A “naval captain” in Arabic would be Kabtin Bahriun, while the Tamil usage would be Katarpatai Kaptain in modern usage. In old Tamil words like Nakutawere used [1]. However, “gama, gamuwa, gammam, kamam, etc., are all refer “village”.

I have collected what is known about the place name Negombo in the website listed at the end of this note [2]. I quote from it below:

The name Meegamuva is believed to refer to a village (gamuwa) which was reputed for its honey (mee). Thus, the Mahavamsa-based tradition has it that honey was procured from this region for Queen Vihara Maha Devi, (2 century BCE)[3], initially from a honeycomb found in a boat turned upside down. It could also refer to a forest of Mee trees, Madhuca Longifolia (Koenig). It is well known that placenames have been based on vegetation and prominent land marks; in our view, this is the most likely source of the name.

Another interesting legend is that the name is related to “Nihumbala, the nephew of the Yakka king Raavana. The Tamil form, Neerkozimpu may mean water, and ‘kozimpu’ is sometimes claimed to mean ‘village’, but such a meaning is not recognised in standard Tamil Lexicons. Also, the Tamil name originally applied only to the lagoon-like area and not to the whole of Meegamuwa. Given the ancient histoofthe village, kozimpu may have comefrom the sinhala kalapuva adorned with the Tamil “nir”.

Maya Oya flows north of Negombo and falls into the ocean near Kochchikade. This was an early center of the cinnamon trade, set up by the Moors in medieval times. The Portuguese ousted them in the 16th century and built a fort, and established a strong Catholic religious centre here. The Dutch ousted the Portuguese in the 1644 CE. The ruins of the fort, with its fine archway marked ‘1672’ can still be seen. In 1796 the British took over Negombo, by which time the cinnamon trade had declined. The town has remained strongly Roman catholic to this day.

Frivolous folk-lore etymology attriutes the name ‘Negambo’ to nikam biruva. That is, a dog ‘just barked’ is said to be the response given by a non-comprehending bystander to a colonial who asked ‘what is the name of this town? While GADS recognizes such frivolities for what they are, the claim that Meegamuwa or Neer-kozimpu comes from the Tamil words for “sea captain” can be very intriguing if anyone takes it seriously; one cannot find a source for substantiating such a claim in any reputed Tamil lexicon or Tamil literary source.

[1]Madras Tamil Lexicon.

[2] index.html

[3] Mahawamsa, XXII, verse 48.

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How to conserve electricity at home and workplace



Going through my old paper clippings, I came across the following news item which is more applicable today when the country is facing a severe energy crisis on how to conserve or restrict the use of electricity at Offices and other working places.

There are several ways of conserving electricity at home, offices and other workplaces. It is absolutely necessary to do so because electricity is harmful for our environment and the planet we live in.

Here is how

(a)  Unplug all electrical appliances in the kitchen when not in use, except the refrigerator. This includes coffee pots, sandwich toasters, blenders and ovens. These appliances use small amounts of electricity when they are left in standby mode.

(b)  When it comes to washing, soap them first and then open the tap halfway to wash them.

(c)   Use the washing machine once a week. Try washing some of your lighter clothes by hand and save jeans and other heavy clothing for the washing machine

(d)  When drying your clothes, do not use the dryer unless very necessary. Hang wet clothes on a line in the backyard which is an easy way of drying them and clothes dry so easily during the day in this intensely hot weather.

(e)  Change the traditional light bulbs for energy saving bulbs. The garden lights can be replaced with solar powered lights. In the kitchen, the refrigerator is out of direct sunlight and not next to the oven. Avoid putting hot dishes in the refrigerator as it will have to work harder to cool the dish, therefore wait for a while for the dish to cool and then put it in the refrigerator.

(f)    Unplug any phone or laptop chargers when they are not in use.

(g)  Unplug the computer when it is not in use. This is very important because it can get very badly damaged if it is plugged in during a thunderstorm. You may not even be at home during the storm, so it is advisable to unplug the computer when it is not being used. Do not leave the computer switched on for long hours.

(h)  Unplug the television set and gaming consoles too, as they can get damaged if they are on standby mode during a thunderstorm.

(i)    Keep DVD players, TVs and other audio and stereo equipment plugged into a multi-port which can be turned off with one switch. This saves electricity.

(j)    Turn off the lights, fans and air-conditioner when you leave the room. Remember that you do not need the lights switched on during the day.

(k)  Do not use electric appliances such as vacuum cleaners and use the broom instead.


Via e-mail

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Some lesser known historical facts



The Greek women in ancient Greece realised to their utter dismay that their husbands were always fighting wars overseas. One brave Greek woman, Lysistrata, organised a women’s front with the sole purpose of denying their husbands the marital pleasures unless they remained at home to fulfill their marital duties

Socrates, known for his wisdom, was invited by the King of Sparta, which had waged war against Greece, to be an honorary citizen of Sparta. He gracefully turned down the offer as he valued the democratic way of life in Athens. As he was always arguing with fellow Athenians neglecting household work his wife used abusive language on him in the presence of his companions. Socrates continued with his arguments when his wife in utter exasperation treated him with a plate full of dish water. Socrates merely said to his companions that after thunder comes the rain.

In the Olympic games held during the peaceful times the athletes ran the races naked. Women were not permitted to attend them. The penalty was death if a woman was discovered breaking the law. On one occasion a middle-aged woman was caught breaking the law. As she happened to be the mother of a celebrated athlete she was forgiven.

Julius Caesar was caught dressed as a woman in a women only club in Rome. He was not punished since he had gone there only to meet his lover who saved him. On another occasion he had to offer a bribe to the ship’s captain, a pirate, who threatened to throw him overboard into the Mediterranean Sea.

Isaac Newton was accused by Robert Hooke for plagiarizing when the former introduced the gravitational constant in his book Principia Mathematica. Hooke was the Secretary of the Royal Society of which Newton was the President. Hooke was the person who encouraged Robert Knox to write the book “Historical Relations…” Newton was accused by the German philosopher Leibniz of plagiarism as the latter had published the calculations of infinitesimal calculus before Newton. There was a rule in the Universities that dons should take holy orders. The king exempted Newton from this obligation. Newton’s denial of the divinity of Jesus and the trinity did not earn any punishment from the ecclesiastical authorities. The complementary part of calculus, integral calculus, had been discovered by Archimedes in the second century BC. After the conquest of Greece by Rome the intellectual supremacy and the culture of Greece saw a gradual decline. It was known that the burial place of Archimedes was a much-venerated place visited by Greeks. The Romans did not show such veneration and the burial place got neglected. However, when Cicero, a Roman intellectual, lawyer and writer became the governor of Athens in the second half of the first century BC, he visited the burial site and had the monument restored to its former state. He noticed the epitaph wherein the symbol of a sphere within a cylinder had been inscribed.

A century later Rome conquered England, killing the English queen Boudica. There stands the figure of this queen on a horse (close to the underground tube station Westminster) with words emblazoned on the flanks in poetic language indicating that while England was colonised by Rome, England had conquered half of the world.

Guy Fawkes was the man who made an attempt to set fire to the Parliament building. This incident is known as the “Gunpowder plot”. He failed in his attempt and was executed. This incident may be compared to the attempt by a JVP member who threw a hand grenade when a Cabinet meeting was taking place in the Parliament building with the President JRJ presiding. The culprit got away.

When a German prince from Hanover became George the First of England, he found life in England very dull as he could not speak English. So, he invited his old German friend Handel, the musician, to be his companion. It was during this time that Handel composed his famous “Water music” and many operas.

Dr. Leo Fernando

Talahena, Negombo

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