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Deletion of NMRA data: SLPP MPs accused of protecting culprits



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balaveya (SJB) lawmaker Manusha Nanayakkara says a section of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) parliamentary group is trying to save those responsible for deleting NMRA (National Medicines Regulatory Authority) data.

Galle District MP Nanayakkara questioned the rationale behind SLPP MPs highly publicized visit to NMRA at a time the institution was under fire over deleted cloud data. The former UNPer accused the SLPP of working overtime to protect crooks, instead of having the institution investigated.

The NMRA regulates the issuance of licenses to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and pharmacies in the country.

SLPP MPs met top NMRA representatives in the wake of Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s assurance that the CID would inquire into the issue at hand and submit a report in this regard. The assurance was given on August 30 at a meeting with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka. Among those participants were State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana, the Number two at the German embassy Oliver Malchow, section head of the German Delegation Andreas Hergenroether, Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, DGHS, Dr Asela Gunawardena and NMRA Chief Dr. Rasitha Wijewantha.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara emphasized that the government shouldn’t try to absolve itself of the responsibility by diverting public attention.  The SJB spokesman maintained that the SLPP was engaged in an effort to suppress the controversy through propaganda means. According to him, only four persons had the required pass word to access to the erased data.

Therefore, at least one of them had to be involved in the deletion of data, MP Nanayakkara, said, urging the government to name those responsible for it.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara compared SLPP MPs’ visit to NMRA with their earlier similar high-profile performances to hoodwink the public like the demand that the Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila should resign over fuel price increase, over 100 SLPP MPs writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the releasing of Riyaj Bathiudeen, a section of the government calling for a three-week lockdown and sharp split over the East Container Terminal.

MP Nanayakkara alleged that the SLPP was pursuing a political strategy to deceive the people.

MP Nanayakkara said that it wouldn’t be difficult to establish the identity of the person behind the clandestine operation. But the issue at hand was whether the government had the political will to go the whole hog, the MP said, vowing to raise the issue both in and outside parliament.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara asked who would benefit from deleting NMRA data. According to him, those who sought to cripple it wouldn’t have proceeded unless they were sure of political backing.

The group of SLPP MPs who visited NMRA addressed the media outside the authority and subsequently at the Government Information Department. The ruling party basically blamed the previous government for the current situation on the basis the system was established during that period. The group insisted all data pertaining to Sri Lanka’s covid-19 response was intact as such information had been manually recorded.

MP Nanayakkara said that the SLPP had proved over and over again the new administration couldn’t be trusted. The handling of investigations into 2019 Easter Sunday carnage showed the government’s response to such a sensitive issue, the MP said, urging the public not to be deceived by the present lot ruling the country.


Third DNA test on Sarah: SJB questions veracity of police claim, asks Prez to dig deep



Easter Sunday carnage

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday (30) questioned the veracity of a police headquarters declaration that one of the Easter Sunday bombers Achchi Muhammadu Mohamed Hasthun’s wife Pulasthini Mahendran alias Sarah Jasmin had been killed on the night of April 26, 2019 at Sainthamaruthu.

The media was told at the Opposition Leader’s Office at No 30 Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha that the SJB was quite disturbed and surprised by the police headquarters statement issued on the basis of the Government Analyst’s findings.

Top SJB Spokesperson Mujibur Rahuman said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government owed an explanation as to how a third DNA test proved Sarah Jasmin’s death when the two previous DNA tests failed. The former MP said that the two previous tests had been conducted during the tenures of President Maithripala Sirisena and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sarah Jasmin’s husband Hasthun is believed to be one of the bomb makers of the now proscribed National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) blamed for the series of near simultaneous blasts. Explosions caused by suicide bombers claimed the lives of about 270 persons including dozens of foreigners.

Rahuman told The Island that he would like to remind President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also the Defence Minister that Easter Sunday carnage was meant to undermine the yahapalana government in which Wickremesinghe served as the Prime Minister. “We expect the President to look into this matter. The possibility of a conspiracy cannot be ruled out,” the former lawmaker said.

Authoritative sources said that the likes of ex-MP Rahuman was seeking political advantage from the Easter Sunday fallout. The Colombo District politician repeatedly questioned the investigation for reasons best known to him, sources said, alleging interested parties were working overtime to substantiate conspiracy theories.

Rahuman challenged the government to reveal the status of the investigation into the arrest of a police officer under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for helping Sarah Jasmin to flee Sri Lanka. The former UNPer said that the police officer’s role in Sarah Jasmin’s escape transpired in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into the Easter Sunday carnage.

The Batticaloa High Court granted bail to Chief Inspector Nagoor Thambi Aboobucker who had been arrested on July 13, 2020, a few weeks before the last general election, after he filed a fundamental rights application. The law enforcement officer had been held in custody for a period of 32 months.

Rahuman noted that Abdul Cader Fathima Saadiah, the wife of 2019 Easter Sunday attacks mastermind Zahran Hashim, too, had been granted bail. She had been held under the PTA for almost four years.The SJB official emphasized that regardless of repeated assurances given by successive governments, the Easter Sunday massacre remained a mystery. Rahuman said that SJB MPs Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara, who had been severely critical of the Easter Sunday investigations and repeatedly alleging a conspiracy, switched allegiance to the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government in last May. However, the SJB wouldn’t allow the incumbent government to suppress the truth, he said.

The former lawmaker asked whether the new partners had reached a consensus on the matter, therefore interested parties were busy covering up tracks.Rahuman said that those at the helm should be ashamed that the P CoI recommendations were never implemented. Demanding punishment to those who neglected their responsibilities, Rahuman said the current dispensation should know the conspirators, too, should be dealt with.

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CBK: Proposed anti-corruption bill inadequate to end widespread problem



“75 percent in parliament are crooks.”

There is nothing in the proposed anti-corruption bill to prevent people from engaging in corrupt activities, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike said yesterday in Colombo.She said that she had accessed the draft of the bill, formulated at the behest of the IMF.

“The bill focuses on what to do when someone is identified as a crook. But there is nothing to prevent people from engaging in such acts.”

Corruption had become a key feature in Sri Lanka since 1977 despite some efforts by political leaders. However, there were strong anti-corruption sentiments in the country and they had to be harnessed, she said.

“75 percent in parliament are crooks,” she said.

The former President was also critical of the proposed new anti-terror laws. She said they were very dangerous laws and anyone could be detained for having dissenting views.

“These are scary laws. Everyone must unite to fight such laws,” she said.

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SJB MP throws party union under the bus



By Akitha Perera

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP S.M. Marikkar on Thursday said that he supported the government’s decision to liberalise the petroleum sector and that the state should not be involved in business. Marikkar added that most Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers were idling and that they got paid for not doing any work.

“If you ask me, I say that we must liberalise the CPC. We must open the market. We can’t have this island mentality and it is our parochial thinking that got us into this mess. We can’t live in isolation. The world is open and an increase in competition leads to better outcomes for the consumer.

We believe that the state should not be involved in business. The Lanka IOC is in Sri Lanka. When three other companies come in, there will be greater competition. Most CPC employees are idling. They draw fat salaries at the end of the month for doing nothing,” he said.Marikkar said that while the average CPC employee wasted public funds, those who headed it were involved in corruption. Both waste and corruption had to be stopped, he said.

“I am not sucking up to the President. We have principles and we stand by them,” he said.

However, the SJB’s trade union arm led by Ananda Palitha is playing leading role in CPC trade union struggle against the Cabinet decision to award licenses to more foreign companies that intend to enter the fuel retail market in the country.

In a Twitter message, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said China’s Sinopec, United Petroleum of Australia and RM Parks of USA in a collaboration with Shell Plc would enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

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