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Chamal promises to ascertain how radar equipment went missing

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By Saman Indrajith

The government would be able to finish within the next six months the investigations into a missing radar receiver and an antenna scanner belonging to the Air Force after a private company undertook to transport them to China for repair, and find out who was responsible, Minister of Irrigation and the Minister of Internal Defense, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday.

Those items had been handed over to the Care Logistics Pvt Ltd to be transported to China in April, 2014 and they had gone missing, the minister said in response to a question raised by SJB Ratnapura District MP Hesha Withanage.

Asked to mention the names of the directors of the company that undertook the transporting of the items, the Minister responded that the following were the directors of the Care Logistics Pvt Ltd: Ramesh Gihan Oliver Wijesinghe, Nihal Wijeweera, Krishan Priyankara Ramesh and Nalin Prithiraj Wickrama. The value of the items had been originally estimated at Rs 74 million but at the time of handing them over to the company they were in damaged condition and the value had been estimated at Rs 29 million, the Minister said.

Asked to inform the House whether the aforesaid company still provided services to any state institution in Sri Lanka, the Minister said that question could not be answered by his ministry.

MP Withanage said that the problem was whether the same company continued to provide services even after the grave misplacement of radar and antenna scanner. “This company has been allowed to work with the government. No action has been taken against this company. This had been swept under the carpet. During the times of our government too it had not been investigated. Is this government headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has an understanding of this issue owing to his military background too hiding this fraud,” the MP queried.

Minister Rajapaksa: “Several investigations had been done. Some investigations are still in progress. How could our government within one year find it when your government failed to do so for five years? But I can assure you that within the next six months the investigations would be over and we would be able to identify who is responsible. In that sense our government succeeded where your government failed.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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