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Chamuditha complains his life is in danger, but won’t give up ‘Salakuna’

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‘No point in seeking police protection, have written a letter to be released if I’m harmed’ 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Popular Hiru TV anchor Chamuditha Samarawickrema says there are threats to his life, but he will continue to host the weekly live ‘Salakuna’ programme.

“I am determined to go ahead with it whatever the obstacles are,” Samarawickrema told The Island yesterday (6) identifying some specific threats.

Asked whether he would lodge a complaint with the police, Samarawickrema said obviously there was no point in doing so.  Acknowledging there were honest officers and men,

Samarawickrema said that those at the helm of law enforcement ruined the once proud service.

The way law enforcement authorities had handled the Shangri-La case following the exposure of influential makeup artist Chandimal Jayasinghe’s birthday party therein on the night of May 30 in violation of Covid-19 health guidelines demonstrated their partiality, the Hiru journalist said.

Instead of going to police, he had decided to pen a detailed letter in case those angered and affected by the Hiru exposure on May 31 night and the subsequent developments resorted to violence. Answering another question, Samarawickrema said that ‘Salakuna’ would conduct a live interview with Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella tonight (7). “If I’m harmed, the letter will be in the public domain. The public will know the identities of those responsible,” Samarawickrema said, adding that as part of precautions he had given Harendra Jayalal’s YouTube channel an interview, which was released online on Saturday night.

Asked to name those threatening him, Samarwickrema said that there were four specific threats from a notorious businessman, two persons from the Polonnaruwa District and another whose henchmen had threatened to sever an arm and a leg of his. All of them had been mentioned in the letter, he said.

The popular TV anchor emphasised that he didn’t have any issue with Chandimal Jayasinghe, model Piyumi Hansamali or Shangri-la hotel. The contentious issues raised during two-hour ‘Salakuna ’programme  on the night of 31 May, with Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, who is also the senior officer in charge of the Police Legal Division and Public Health Inspector Union President Upul Rohana participated as participants, had caused quite a stir, Samarawickrama said.

The ‘Hiru’ team comprised Samarawickrema, Chapa Bandara and Kalindu Widanage.

Samarawickrema said that the media couldn’t be faulted for reporting the Shangri-La party.

Public Security Minister  Rear Admiral (retd) Sarath Weerasekera’s intervention in the Shangri-La affair, too, should be probed, Samarawickrema said, pointing out that in a statement issued on the night of 04 June, the Public Security Ministry had acknowledged he received calls from both Hansamali through her lawyer Manju Sri and Chandimal claiming they were being moved to a quarantine centre in Passara without basic essential items such as clothes.

 

Samarawickrema said that he worked as a freelancer in addition to running two social media channels-Truth with Chamuditha and cnb (Chamuditha News Brief).

Samarawickrema emphasised that at a time the entire country was struggling to tackle the pandemic, the government couldn’t under any circumstances allow ministers, regardless of their portfolios and seniority, pursue personal agendas.

Samarawickrema recalled how transport minister SLPP heavyweight Gamini Lokuge had caused a serious setback to the government’s battle against Covid-19 by doing away with travel restrictions imposed in Piliyandala area recently. The government had done nothing about it, Samarawickrema alleged, saying that the SLPP’s much touted ‘One Country, One Law’ slogan had apparently become a joke.

When Moratuwa Mayor Saman Lal Fernando meddled with the vaccination programme recently, he had been arrested by the police, produced in court and remanded till 11 June but those who allowed a party to be held at Shangri-La had gone scot-free, Samarawickrama said, adding that some people taken into custody in Jaffna for partying had been remanded.

Samarawickrema also acknowledged that Opposition political parties, too, had refrained from commenting on the issue at hand. However, former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, Roshan Ranasinghe, MP and Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage over the phone inquired about the incident.  Yes, perhaps, Opposition lawmakers, too, may be wary of attracting the wrath of those who launched what Samarawickrema called a social media tirade against him and ‘Hiru.’



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Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers

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Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb

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One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention

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Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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