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

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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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Hemasiri’s counsel complains to PCoI against ex-President Sirisena’s media statement

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… says it has placed the life of his client at risk

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was “malicious and fictitious”, Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for Fernando said yesterday.

Jayasuriya told the PCoI that by issuing that statement Sirisena had also undermined the PCoI.

Sirisena, on Sunday, issued a press release claiming that the testimony given by Fernando at the PCoI about his behavior was completely false.

“I vehemently deny what was said at the Commission by Fernando. These are malicious and fictitious statements and I wish to reiterate to the public that Fernando’s statements are false,” Sirisena said.

Counsel Jayasuriya pointed out that by disseminating such an idea, the former President was trying to intimidate the former Defence Secretary who was still testifying before the PCoI. Sirisena, who was a former President, a current Parliamentarian and a party leader, was powerful and thus, there were now concerns about the security of his client, Jayasuriya said.

The counsel said that it was up to the Commission to decide whether Fernando’s evidence was true or false.

Issuing of a statement undermining Fernando by Sirisena, who was the Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of Defence and the Minister in charge of law and order at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, was a very bad precedent, the counsel for the ex-Defence Secretary said.

“The former President has been given the opportunity to crossexamine Fernando. However, he has issued press releases. People will be afraid to tell the truth openly if powerful people start issuing press releases on judicial matters,” counsel Jayasuriya added.

Jayasuriya requested the Commission that Sirisena’s Personal Secretary, Sameera de Silva, who issued this media statement, be summoned before the Commission. Silva should explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court. He also requested the Commission to take measures to ensure the safety of his client.

When the Commission asked the counsel appearing for the former President if he had anything to say in that regard, he said that he had not received any advice from his client. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Commission ordered that if there was anything to be said by Sirisena in that regard, it be presented before the Commission today through his legal representatives.

The Additional Solicitor General, who is leading Fernando’s evidence, also informed the Commission that she hoped to comment on the matter once the explanations were made by the former President.

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Kandy tragedy:

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What remains of the building that collapsed

Ill-fated building constructed on loose soil

By Ifham Nizam

Structural engineers’ approval was essential for the construction of building in hilly areas, a senior scientist said.

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) Director (Landslide Research and Risk Management Division) R.M.S. Bandara told The Island to ascertain the real cause of the building collapse in Kandy on Sunday, an investigation would be conducted within the course of this week. “Initially we thought that could be done in two days or so,” he said

Bandara said that they would work with the Kandy Municipal Council Building Department to find out whether the original plan of the structure had been changed.

According to Senior Chartered Geologist Laksiri Indritilake, who was at the site, the NBRO team was carrying out the technical inquiry into the incident. He said as per their observations the collapsed building was an ad-hoc construction which had been erected blocking a valley path.

“Water flows from above grounds via a valley path. From our preliminary observations, it was evident that this building has been constructed blocking such a valley path. No safety precautions had been taken.”

“The multi-storyed building has been constructed on loose layers of soil in the respective valley region, and the building had caved-in, as the soil layers could not bear the weight of the construction,” said Samantha Bogahapitiya – NBRO’s Geologist in-charge of the Kandy district.

According to him, four families in the area have been were temporarily relocated as a precaution measure.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Geological and Mines Bureau, Anura Walpola said that the collapse had not been caused by a tremor.

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SJB MPs decide unanimously to oppose 20A

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by Akitha Perera

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) would oppose the 20th amendment to the constitution to be presented to Parliament, today, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

The SJB had studied all the proposed amendment in detail and they couldn’t agree with any of them, he said. Therefore, the SJB had no choice but to work with like-minded forces inside and outside parliament to prevent the bill from becoming law, the MP said.

Kiriella said that SJB MPs HAS met yesterday in Parliament to discuss the matter and they unanimously agreed to oppose the amendment given the weakening of checks and balances imposed by the 19th amendment to the Constitution.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that the replacement of the constitutional council with a parliamentary council, the weakening of the independent commissions, increasing the powers of the executive presidency and removing a number of key institutions from the purview of the auditor general were proposals that would not be accepted by any democratic minded person.

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