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AGM of SUCCESS Sri Lanka with a Naval Hero as Chief Guest



The annual General Meeting of the Society for the Upliftment of Conservation of Cultural, Economic and Social Standards (SUCCESS) was held at the International Buddhist Centre, Wellawatte, on April 5, 2021. The highlight of the event was the person selected to grace the occasion as Chief Guest: Navy Commando Chathura Gamage.

Immense help given

SUCCESS was inaugurated by Prof M B Ariyapala and others in 1995 and has continued doing much to promote the aim and vision of the organization. They work mostly in hamlets marked as threatened villagers during the civil war and these lie principally in Vavuniya, Ampara, Trincomalee and Welioya. The temples in the area are the centres for SUCCESS activities and thus, the villagers being too disadvantaged to do much for the temples, the Organization has helped greatly in reconstruction, expansion and installation of facilities. The village people are helped with frequent medical clinics, which Dr Anula Wijesundere, President of SUCCESS for 22 of its 27-year existence, leads. We know full well how selflessly and diligently she conducted health clinics in the poorest of poor villages, doubly suffering due to proximity to LTTE held areas; with like-minded medical and nursing volunteers.

Additionally, the supply of clean water for drinking and water for households and cultivated fields is a special concern of SUCCESS. Water pumps, containers, pipes and taps are supplied; also tube wells sunk. Children are supplied with school necessities and bicycles so they can attend school notwithstanding very poor bus services in most areas.

Choice of Chief Guest of 2021 AGM

Anula spoke on her choice of invitee to be chief guest which was unanimously approved by the Committee. “l first came to know of Chathura’s bravery when I read an article by Admiral Ravindran Wijegunaratne in the Sunday Island of May 26, 2020.” We all agree he is undoubtedly an admirable man, intrepid and loyal to this fellow sailors, and the country.

Just as Dr Wijesundere is well known due to her social service, her commitment to the country and support given to the armed forces, and being an excellent specialist physician; so also well known is Navy Hero Chathura Gamage.

On joining the Navy when the civil war was raging, he was selected with a few others for special training to man small boats that were seen to be more capable than larger vessels of hitting enemy craft the LTTE had successfully built. The trainees were selected for their stature, demonstrated fearlessness and determination. Thus the trained Commandos of the Special Boat Squadron did deadly damage to the LTTE at sea, moving silently into enemy territory at night. Excellent night vision was a requirement. They dealt severe blows to LTTE ships, particularly those smuggling in arms and ammunition. To cap it all, they were almost invisible and escaped detection, capture or being blown up at sea. Victories were many – in the Jaffna Lagoon, Pooneryn and Karainagar.

Unfortunately during a battle between Tamil Tiger ships and the Special Boat Squadron, , Chathura was injured and his boat began drifting to enemy territory. Some of his mates escaped and swam to safety; a few died; and Chathura decided to escape capture by risking his life attempting to swim with a grievous injury. He had been shot in the abdomen. Holding his protruding intestines, he swam two and a half hours until picked-up by a government boat. He spent nine months in hospitals in Trincomalee, Colombo and the Army Hospital. He was first operated on by surgeon Dr Thavendran in Trincomalee. Thereafter he had to undergo several surgeries by Dr S S Jayaratne and Dr Indrani Amarasinghe who performed specialized bowel surgery so he could take solid food after five years of being solely on liquid nourishment. These two doctors were at the SUCCESS AGM.

Another even harder blow was losing his best friend, Sudesh  Dalugama, in a sea battle. This was one reason why, when only partly recovered, he returned to the North and the Navy and worked administratively and as advisor. In his address at the AGM he thanked the doctors who saved his life and got him back to near normalcy, especially the skilled surgeons, both Tamil and Sinhalese.

Chathura harboured this one ambition from a very tender age to join the Armed Forces. Even now, though retired and living in Ratnapura, he gives of his know-how and experience as a Motivator to the SL Navy

Dr Anula Wijesundere presented the year’s work done by SUCCESS followed by a video on the assistance given to the S L Army. She delivered a citation on the Chief Guest which visibly moved him to tears. He then addressed those present, often turning emotional. After tumultuous applause for Chathura, the Ranaviru song. ‘Muhuda de be Karana’ was sung by all present. Chathura was almost mobbed with everyone, young and old, wanting to speak with him. Anula says: “No other chief Guest at our AGMs for the past 27 years received such warmth, affection and adulation.”

N P Wanasundera

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Police failure to contain May 2022 violence explained



Police inaction to prevent arson attacks against SLPP politicians in the Western province on May 9 may have been due to orders not to carry weapons to deal with protesters, a new investigation has revealed.A review of the role of the police at the time showed Senior Deputy Inspector General Deshabandu Tennakoon had ordered all officers under him to ensure that no personnel were issued with arms and ammunition in the run up to the May 9 violence.

In his two-page instructions to DIGs, SSPs, SPs, ASPs and officers in charge of all stations in the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha, Tennakoon had said no weapons or ammunition should be issued under any circumstances to officers deployed to deal with the protesters.

This order dated May 5 had not come to the attention of a three-member investigation panel headed by former navy chief Wasantha Karannagoda appointed to look into the security lapses. However, the panel had uncovered an order similar to that of Tennakoon issued by the then army chief Shavendra Silva.

Deploying police without even their own personal protection is seen as a violation of departmental orders and an internal investigation had begun, a top official source said.Meanwhile, the private residence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe was torched despite 400 air force men being deployed to protect it. The airmen did not open fire to deter a handful of attackers who scaled walls to enter the premises and set it on fire.

Instead of dealing with the arsonists, a police Special Task Force (STF) unit outside the Fifth Lane residence of Wickremesinghe attacked a television crew angering the protesters and encouraging more people to congregate there.

Several people identified through CCTV footage have already been arrested in connection with the arson at Wickremesinghe’s residence.However, action is yet to be taken against police and security personnel who failed to ensure law and order.

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SL will engage major T-bond holders for voluntary optimization: Governor



ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka will not re-structure Treasury bills outside of central bank holdings and will engage with major T-bond holders for voluntary ‘optimization’ Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“There will be some treatment on central bank held Treasury bills,” Governor Nandal Weeasinghe told a creditor presentation Thursday.

“Other Treasury bill holdings will not be treated. Treasury bonds we envisage voluntary optimization.”

Sri Lanka has to at least extend the maturities of bonds to reach a gross financing need target averaging 13 percent of GDP in 2027-2032 based on projections in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. Of that foreign debt service has be below 4.5 percent of GDP on average.

“Local currency creditors participation in a debt optimization will help reaching the DSA targets,” Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena said.

“Authorities are exploring options for domestic debt operations aimed at liquidity relief while preserving financial stability to avoid further eroding Sri Lanka’s repayment capacity.”

The government and advisors will “invite consultations with major T-bond holders to gauge options and constraints”, he said.Governor Weerasinghe and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardene said Sri Lanka is likely to outperform the growth targets in the IMF debt sustainability analysis given past history. The IMF DSA is projecting 3.1 percent growth in the next few years.

Sri Lanka grew at rates around 4 to 5 percent during a 30 year war, but growth started to fall after serial currency crises hit the country under flexible inflation targeting with output gap targeting (monetary stimulus) during peacetime. In 2020 taxes were also cut for stimulus, going beyond open market operations and outright purchases of bonds seen earlier.

Meanwhile state spending went up from 17 to 20 percent of GDP under state expansionist revenue based fiscal consolation after spending based consolidation (cost cutting) was thrown out of the window from 2015 to 2019, critics say.

Sri Lanka is now trying to cut spending and excessive growth of the public sector, based on normal economic principles, to limit the burden of the unaffordable state on productive sectors and the poor, while preserving essential spending.According to the latest IMF program, fiscal consolidation will be “primarily” revenue based.

Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill and bond yields were higher than required due to uncertainty over whether they will be re-structured and the so-called ‘gilt’ status will no longer apply.

The lack of an early cut off date for domestic debt is a key problem in the IMF’s current debt resolution framework as domestic bond buyers are the last resort lenders after most foreign creditors stop lending, when the IMF says a country’s debt is no longer sustainable.

Download presentation from here.

Sri Lanka and debt advisors will engage with major Treasury bond holders, Weerasinghe said.

Key T-bond holders are Employment Provident Fund, Employment Trust Fund, insurance companies and banks.

Sri Lanka is also conducting an asset quality of review of banks.

Based on its results a debt optimization options will be offered paying attention to asset liability mis-matches, Weerasinghe said.

By preserving banking sector stability foreign investors are more likely to get repaid.

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BASL slams attempts to hinder Saliya Pieris, PC, appearing for a client



The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has issued a statement on the recent string of protests launched against former BASL President Saliya Pieris’s decision to represent a client who had retained him. In the statement signed by BASL President Kaushalya Nawaratne and Secretary Isuru Balapatabendi, the BASL noted that the protests in question not only hinders the senior lawyer’s right to represent a client, but also acts as an attack on the profession at large.

Further, they noted that Article 13(3) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka specifically guarantees every person the right to a fair trial and the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice.

The BASL also cited the 2019 Supreme Court judgment delivered in a landmark case together with the Judicature Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Civil Procedure Code in favour of their argument. The Bar Association strongly demanded that the relevant authorities ensure that Pieris’s professional duties and safety remain unhindered.

Excerpts from text of the statement:

“The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) observes that there has been a series of organized protests in Colombo, in relation to Mr. Saliya Pieris PC, the Former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, conducting his professional duties with regard to a particular client.

“We are of the view that the said protest, not only seriously hinders his right to represent a client, a professional right which has been safeguarded by law, but also an attack on the profession at large.

“In the case of Wijesundara Mudiyanselage Naveen Nayantha Bandara Wijesundara v Sirwardena and Others (SCFR 13/2019), the Supreme Court observed that: ‘The first piece of legislation passed by the Parliament soon after the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution was the Judicature Act No. 02 of 1978.

‘As the administration of justice in any civilized society cannot be effectively implemented without lawyers, the legislature in its wisdom, through the Judicature Act, established the legal profession. Thus, there is no dispute that the legal profession is a sine qua non for the due administration of justice in this country and for that matter in any civilized society. The said profession is essential for the maintenance of the Rule of Law and maintenance of law and order and its due existence is of paramount importance to the organized functioning of the society which is primarily the basis for the smooth functioning of the country as a whole.’

“Our constitution specifically guarantees the right to legal representation in Article 13(3) and

the Civil Procedure Code also provides for the right to legal representation in civil cases. Specifically, Section 24 of the Code allows parties to be represented by lawyers or other authorized representatives in court.

“Overall, Sri Lankan law recognizes and protects the right to legal representation, both in criminal as well as civil cases.

“Therefore, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka strongly demands that the authorities ensure that Mr. Peiris’s professional duties as an Attorney-at-law, are not hindered and, ensure his safety.”

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