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China rejects claims of bacteria in fertiliser, asks for intervention of world’s No 1 testing organisation

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Lanka obtains second ruling against supplier, its local agent and state bank

In the wake of Commercial High Court of Colombo judge Priyantha Fernando halting the unloading of a shipload of organic fertiliser at the Colombo harbour and stopping payments to Chinese supplier, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd and its local agent Chelinaa Capital Corporation (Pvt) Limited, the supplier has challenged the Sri Lanka government to entrust Swiss SGS Group the world’s most authoritative and the top third-party testing organisation to re-sample the consignment rejected on grounds of being contaminated with ‘Erwinia.’

The Attorney General last Friday (22) sought the judicial intervention following growing protests against the Chinese products, spearheaded by the Opposition lawmakers. The Presidential Media Division (PMD) yesterday (26) said that Pradeep Hettiarachchi of Commercial High Court of Colombo (No2) prohibited payments to the Chinese company in response to an appeal by the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser. Yesterday’s court ruling has been issued in respect of the Chinese supplier, its local agent and the People’s Bank.

In a statement issued through the Chinese Embassy in Colombo yesterday (26), Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group asked the Sri Lankan government to accept re-sampling by the Swiss SGS group to see whether the samples had been contaminated by Erwinia. The Chinese said that both parties should unconditionally accept the test results of the third party. “If Erwinia contamination is confirmed, the supplier shall unconditionally transport the goods back to China. If there is no Erwinia contamination, the buyer shall unconditionally accept the goods and arrange payment.

The statement further said that the supplier reserved the right to investigate the legal responsibility of relevant parties for the

“untrue” or even “slanderous” reports and comments made by a section of the media.

The Chinese group emphasized that the shipping arrangement has been requested by Sri Lanka and it would be the responsibility of the buyer (Ministry of Agriculture) to obtain the Import Permit for 99,000 metric tons of organic fertilizer. The Chinese stressed that they were not responsible for securing the Import Permit. The company stated: “*The product samples have passed the test of Schutter group, a third-party international testing organization designated by the buyer and passed the export plant quarantine of China Customs before shipment.

* The detection method and conclusion of NPQS (National Plant Quarantine Service) in Sri Lanka do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention.

* Some officials from NPQS and the buyer, together with some local media are irresponsible when commenting on the issue with baseless derogatory words that seriously slander the image of Chinese enterprise.

* The Seller requests both parties to entrust the world’s most authoritative and the No.1 third-party testing organization (Swiss SGS group) to re-sampling as soon as possible to test whether the samples are contaminated by Erwinia. Both parties should unconditionally accept the test results and fulfill its responsibilities accordingly.”

The Chinese company has questioned the quality as well as the acceptability of NPQS’s findings in respect of the organic fertiliser consignment. The Chinese company asked how NPQS reached the conclusion that the samples contained Erwinia within three days when it would take more than six days to identify Erwinia according to International Plant Protection Convention). “The unscientific detection method and conclusion of NPQS in Sri Lanka obviously do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention,” the company stated.

The Chinese company stressed that the failure to obtain the import permit was caused by the buyer’s mistakes and negative inaction.

Declaring that the Chinese Customs, too, cleared the consignment following tests proved that product hadn’t been contaminated by Erwinia, the company accused Sri Lanka of resorting to unilateral measures in violation of contract agreement, international trade rules and the test result of their-own designated third-party Schutter group.

The Chinese supplier said that a section of the media questioned the quality of Chinese products, and even used “Toxic, garbage, pollution” and other derogatory words that seriously slander the image of Chinese enterprise and the Chinese government. “Such unilateral, untrue, and irresponsible remarks mislead the public and undermine the credibility of the media. The above “deliberately creating difficulties”, “unreasonable” and even “malicious” acts of NPQS, the buyer as well as some media give people reason to suspect that the buyer was creating various obstacles to obstruct the implementation of the contract, and even has bad commercial intentions.



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Wimal asks for PSC probe into top officials’ complicity in violence

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Colombo HC lawyers concerned over shocking developments

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, says a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should be appointed to investigate the role played by IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Alwis in the recent SLPP hothead attack on those demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa yesterday (18) told The Island that Parliament should inquire into the unprovoked attack that triggered an extremely violent response by the public as well as those awaiting an opportunity to unleash violence on selected group of lawmakers on 09 May.

The former Industries Minister said he was confident that Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, would look into the issues at hand.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that Senior DIG Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon’s claim that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary had interfered with his (Tennakoon’s) plan to disperse the SLPP mobs couldn’t be easily dismissed.

MP Weerawansa declared, in Parliament on Tuesday (17), that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry dissuaded the Senior DIG from performing his duties although he had received specific instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the march on Galle Face. The former JVPer questioned whether those conspirators wanted to show the world the failure on the part of the police and the armed forces to maintain law and order.

Asked whether police headquarters and the Public Security Ministry had responded to his accusations, Weerawansa said he hadn’t been contacted by them so far.

Pointing out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), inquiring into 09 May turmoil had recorded Senior DIG’s statement, Weerawansa said that the outfit could issue an interim statement on the matter.

The Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association said that the shocking revelation, made in Parliament, should be expeditiously inquired into.

The Association’s President Attorney-at-Law Lakshman Perera said that the ongoing investigations had taken an unexpected turn in the wake of high profile specific allegations pertaining to the conduct of the IGP, as well as the Public Security Ministry Secretary. Pointing out that the HRCSL and the CID had already recorded DIG Tennakoon’s statement, pertaining to the incidents, and the officer was among a group of 22 persons slapped with a travel ban by the Fort Magistrate, lawyer Perera said that the CID couldn’t turn a blind eye to accusations directed at the head of the department as well as Secretary to the relevant ministry.

Lawyer Perera said that investigations couldn’t be completed without verifying accusations made in Parliament.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said that the question was on whose behalf the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary intervened at a time the country was under emergency and after the Senior DIG in charge of Colombo received specific instructions from the President himself.

Although the SLPP goons did not shed any blood or cause any serious injuries, unlike the well-organized mobs that caused havoc across the country thereafter, MP Weerawansa said that he couldn’t comprehend why the police and the armed forces allowed the situation to develop to an extremely dangerous level.

The HRCSL in its initial reaction to the unprovoked attacks on those who had been demanding the resignation of the government condemned the violence caused by a group of people who made it very clear that violence was their intention.

HRCSL Chairperson retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe said: “The failure of the police to prepare for this eventuality and prevent and manage the violence and destruction is a gross failure of public order. There must be an immediate inquiry into this matter. The inaction of the police to prevent the clash is condemned.”

The Island brought the latest developments to the notice of the HRCSL yesterday as MP Weerawansa said that those who conspired and planned the project that involved those at the helm of Temple Trees then and the SLPP should be arrested. The conspirators shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice while the CID arrested those who carried out the actual attacks.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the department couldn’t respond to what transpired in Parliament. Acknowledging that he was aware of the allegations made in Parliament, Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa said in case their response was sought through proper channels, whatever the queries would be answered.

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Dr. Pathirana says IGP, Public Security Ministry Secy. allowed goon attacks

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Galle District parliamentarian Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has reiterated that IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Secretary to the Public Security Ministry, Maj. General (retd) Jagath Alwis had facilitated the 09 May unprovoked attack on anti-government protesters.

The former Minister Pathirana declared in Parliament yesterday (18) that National Freedom Front (NFF) leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s allegation, pertaining to the origins of the violence, was true.

Dr. Pathirana said that he was among those who had brought supporters to attend a meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast majority of those who attended the Temple Trees meet on May 09 wanted to thank the war-winning President as he gave up active politics, the MP said. However, some unscrupulous members had instigated the participants there.

Dr. Pathirana said he had been at Temple Trees at that time and as he feared violence could erupt due inflammatory speeches, contact was made with Senior DIG in charge of Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon. Dr. Pathirana said that the senior police officer had assured him that the police were ready to face the situation and confident of preventing those who attended the Temple Trees function from reaching Galle Face.

“Thereafter, I left Temple Trees for a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There were several other members. When trouble erupted, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with Senior DIG Tennakoon, who revealed he had been asked not to use force by the IGP himself.”

Dr. Pathirana said the President had asked the senior law enforcement officer why he didn’t carry out instructions issued by him (the President).

The Galle District MP emphasised that the IGP and the Secretary to the Public Security Ministry were responsible for the violence at Kollupitiya and Fort police areas which triggered violence in many parts of the country. (SF)

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New Deputy Speaker not from Rajapaksa political dynasty

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Newly-elected Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa said that he was not a member of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s clan.

The Hambantota District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmaker said so when The Island asked him whether he, too, was a member of the Rajapaksa family now under fire over the continuing political-economic-social turmoil.

Rajapaksa polled 109 votes at a secret vote held in Parliament on Tuesday (17) to secure the Deputy Speaker’s post. MP Rajapaksa defeated Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Kaviratne, who polled 78 votes.

The SLPP rebel group members refrained from voting for Rajapaksa after the top SLPP leadership ignored their appeal to fill the vacancy through consultations with the SJB.

Rajapaksa succeeded SLFP’s Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who quit the post twice, the second occasion after beating SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at a secret vote.

Deputy Speaker Rajapaksha said that he had served as the Chairman of the Ambalanthota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1997. Subsequently, he became a member of the Southern Provincial Council.

Asked whether he was a resident of the Rajapaksas’ home base, Deputy Speaker said that he was from Pallerotta, Ambalantota. (SF)

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