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Chamal says no need to deploy more cops to guard MPs

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‘Police short of manpower’

By Saman Indrajith

Irrigation Minister and Internal security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management State Minister Chamal Rajapaksa told parliament yesterday that policemen were there for the protection of the people and not to carry the files and bags of MPs.

Minister Rajapaksa said: Policemen are there to carry out police duties. There are about 85,000 policemen. Of them, 38,000 have been assigned for close protection duties of MPs and others. But if the MPs have no confidence to go among people without the police protection that is something the MPs should be ashamed of. We are not increasing the number of policemen assigned to MPs so that the MPs could make use of them for other purposes such as carrying their bags and files. Do not worry about security. We give security not only to the MPs but also to the people. Providing policemen to MPs started in 1989. The MPs were allowed to recruit five persons of their choice to the Reserve Police Service of the police so that they would be detailed for the security of those MPs after training. After that owing to LTTE threats two or three more policemen from the regular force were assigned to each MP. As per the most recent arrangement, each MP has been given four policemen for their protection by the Ministerial Security Division. But now there is a shortage of policemen in other divisions so a decision has been taken to decrease the number of policemen assigned to an MP to two. “What does an MP want – more policemen around them or police having enough policemen to attend to the problems of the people in their electorates?”

The Minister said so when Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana asked for increasing the number of policemen assigned to the MPs. MP Pathirana said that some MPs had raised their voice against drug kingpins and other criminals who could target those MPs. “It was recently reported that a drug baron in prison issued death threats to the Defence Secretary and the President. Such is the power of the drug lords. So the policemen assigned to the MPs should be increased, MP Pathirana said.

SJB MPs S. M. Marikkar and Thushara Indunil endorsed MP Pathirana’s request.

 Minister Rajapaksa said that the MPs did not have to worry about their security because the government was strong enough to ensure that all people including the MPs would be safe. “If we accede to the demand to increase the numbers of policemen given to the MPs, then we have to increase the recruitment.”



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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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