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Defence Secretary warns of stern action against corrupt officials in state institutions



Cautioning government officers resorting to corrupt practices, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said the good work done by many dedicated officers in state institutions was obliterated due to a few bad eggs among them.

“Their hard work and dedication are lost,” he said, and added that organized crimes, drug smuggling and extortion had to be curbed while stamping out corruption in state institutions to make the government sector efficient.

The Defence Secretary was addressing a forum of police officers of the Southern province at a session to evaluate the progress in respective police divisions, held at the Hotel-De-Galle in Galle last week.

Necessary measures will be taken to address the grievances faced by police officers, he assured.

The Sri Lanka Police has made tremendous sacrifices and won many commendations for their service but they need to re-think their present status and people’s expectations with regard to the police service in the country, he said.

“People feel safe and protected because of the police service of a country, without which lives, liberty and freedom will be lost. Therefore, the police need to be a corruption-free service to ensure a just and peaceful society,” Gunaratne said.

The Defence Secretary lauded the Police Department for its recent contribution towards conducting a free, fair and peaceful election.

He said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected by the people with the hope of assuring and reinstating the safety and security of Sri Lanka.

“When we mean security, it has many facets and all those put together, it is called national security. The first obligation in ensuring national security is towards providing security from terrorist acts, secondly the possible external aggression and thirdly the security  to keep people safe from natural disasters and calamities, pandemics etc, he explained

Creating a safe and secure society for the people is also a part of national security, he stressed.

He said the public expected police officers to perform their duties free from political interferences.

The Defence Secretary was critical of certain Police Divisions and stations in the Southern province against which allegations have been leveled. “We need to adopt measures and make some adjustments in performing duties and responsibilities by the police to maintain law and order to deliver fair service to the public”.

A new mechanism will be introduced within a few weeks to address and follow-up progress made on public complaints and petitions received against Police Divisions or stations in the respective areas, Gunaratne further said.

“Separate files will be opened for complaints against the respective police divisions or stations and they will be reviewed monthly to evaluate the progress made to investigate them. We will take firm action against OICs of police stations who fail to take measures to resolve the complaints,” he said.

The Southern Expressway has become the main transition route for drug dealings, and it surprising that only traffic police officers could be seen on duties at the entry-exit points, the Defence Secretary noted.

Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) C. D. Wickremaratne, Commandant of the Police Special Task Force (STF) DIG Waruna Jayasundara, Senior DIG Southern Province, Rohan J. Silva were also present at the event.

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



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



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



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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