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Daya quite surprised by sudden removal



SLPA imbroglio:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired General Daya Ratnayake says his unceremonious removal as Chairman, SLPA, took place at a time the state enterprise was undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

 Ratnayake insisted that he hadn’t been specifically told why he had been suddenly replaced over a week before.

Asked whether disciplinary action taken in respect of a female doctor recently, attached to the SLPA, had caused his transfer, General Ratnayake answered in the negative.

Gen. Ratnayake said that during his tenure as the Chairman, SLPA, he had never hesitated to take decisions for the betterment of the vital state enterprise, the SLPA.

Declaring that no one could find fault with him for trying to take the SLPA to the next level, Gen. Ratnayake said, underscoring the importance of a disciplined enterprise.

There was no point in denying the fact that the SLPA had been the grips of corrupt elements at various levels over a long period of time and his appointment sort of disturbed them, Gen. Ratnayake said.

Social media alleged that the lady doctor concerned caused major hiccups by inoculating 12 workers with a single phial of covid vaccine in spite of recommended stipulation that it be limited to just ten.

Gen. Ratnayake declined to comment on speculation in social media posts.

Daya Ratnayake served as the Commander of the Army during the 2013-2015 period. The wartime Eastern Commander served as the Army Chief at the time the change of government took place in January 2015.

Gen. Ratanayake said that he opted to serve as SLPA Chairman instead of Secretary to a ministry as he didn’t want restrictions on work he was engaged in, both here and abroad at the time 2019 change of government took place. Gen. Ratnayake received the SLPA chairmanship in late Dec 2019 with the blessings of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Commenting on the situation at the time he received the appointment as SLPA Chairman, Gen. Ratnayake told The Island that the enterprise had been in a structurally broken status and administration at every level in turmoil.

One time harbour Master and Managing Director, SLPA Captain Nihal Keppetipola has succeeded Gen. Ratnayake whereas Upul Jayatissa received appointment as the Managing Director. New appointments were made on June 21.

Gen. Ratnayake explained the difficulties experienced by him in introducing changes. It hadn’t been an easy task to change the mindset of the management as well as workers as years of politicization, waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence had caused irreparable damage to the state enterprise. The decision making process had been chaotic and those responsible routinely engaged in malpractices and the operation was run in a shoddy manner, the former Army Commander said.

However, the management as well as the workers largely accepted and appreciated the changes introduced in the wake of 2019 change of administration, Gen Ratnayake said, adding that some of those who had been languishing in same positions for over 10, 20 years received new appointments.

Responding to another query, Gen. Ratnayake said that the introduction of what he called a board system to ensure transparency in appointments received the appreciation of the vast majority though far reaching changes irked some.

Gen. Ratnayake didn’t repudiate the possibility of those who had been irked by the transformation attempted at the SLPA seeking his ouster. Whatever the circumstances, the General emphasized that his duty and responsibility were to run the enterprise without interruption especially during the current crisis.

The former Army Commander paid a glowing tribute to SLPA workers who ensure uninterrupted services during unprecedented crisis caused by the rampaging Covid-19 epidemic. Gen. Ratnayake said that 30 odd trade unions active in the port backed efforts to improve and expand the Colombo harbour. Without their support, the SLPA couldn’t have sustained port operations without major delays, Gen. Ratnayake said.

Whatever the circumstances under which he had to leave the institution, the vast majority of workers appreciated his efforts, he said.

The retired Army Chief didn’t find fault with trade unions for the problems caused over the recent abortive bid to bring in Indian investment to the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo harbour.

Gen. Ratnayake alleged that some sections strongly opposed introduction of technology as it impeded their activities. Declaring that the Colombo port cleared approximately 1,500 containers on a daily basis, Gen. Ratnayake alleged that unscrupulous elements received about Rs 7,000 from every container carrier leaving the port.

 Referring to the heavy burden of running the costly Colombo port kitchen, Gen. Ratnayake said that the SLPA spent as much as R 120 mn annually and he made successful effort to bring the expenditure down. Alleging that sections of workers opposed changes for obvious reasons, Gen. Ratnayake revealed the difficulty in introducing state of the art systems when project to build 100,000 square feet warehouse got underway.

Gen. Ratnayake said that influential sections opposed new systems, improvements and introduction of technology as they feared that would deprive them of an opportunity to pack the SLPA with their supporters.

Of course jobs had to be provided though such endeavors shouldn’t be at the expense of national assets, the former Army Chief said.

Gen. Ratnayake said that he accepted the appointment as Secretary to the Industries Ministry, a post previously held by Anusha Palpita. Palpita received appointment as Chairman of the Development Lotteries Board. Interestingly, Gen. Ratnayake has been brought in as the Secretary, Industries Ministry in the wake of Lanka Phosphate Ltd, a highly lucrative state enterprise that had been under the Industries Ministry being shifted to the Agriculture Ministry.

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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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