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DEW endorses dissident ministers’ stand on secret Yugadanavi deal

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‘It cannot be defended in terms of collective responsibility of Cabinet of Ministers’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera says dissident ministers, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila, are right in having thrown their weight behind those who petitioned the Supreme Court against the signing of the sale and purchase agreement for the purchase of 40% of the issued share capital of West Coast Power (Pvt.) Ltd.

Seller Sri Lanka and buyer New Fortress Energy Sri Lanka Power Holding LLC signed the agreement on Sept. 17, 2021 in Colombo.

Gunasekera, who served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party from 2004 till late August 2020, has, in an article published in the party organ, Aththa, in its 02 Jan. edition, emphasised that in spite of being a member of the SLPP Cabinet, the three ministers obviously didn’t want to be respondents in the high profile case. Instead, they have taken a principled stand on the agreement, which was not subjected to proper Cabinet procedure.

Dr. G. Weerasinghe succeeded Gunasekera as the General Secretary of the CP but was denied an SLPP National List slot regardless of an understanding among constituents. First time entrant to parliamentary politics Weerasumana Weerasinghe, longstanding CP member represents Matara District. The CP backs the stand taken by the three ministers, both in and outside Parliament.

Declaring that the ministers opposed the agreement as it had been signed without following proper procedures against their conscience, Gunasekera said that their actions couldn’t be considered a violation of the collective Cabinet responsibility.

The Supreme Court will resume hearing on the case on 10 Jan. The SC bench consists of Supreme Court five-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya.

The case was heard on Dec 16 and 17. The five-judge-bench put off the case to January 10 after Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, appearing on behalf of the respondents requested that the proceedings not be resumed on Dec 21. The judges wanted to hear the case on Dec 21 and 22.

Gunasekera emphasised that against the backdrop of three Ministers decrying the agreement, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should have given an opportunity for the cabinet of ministers to discuss the issue at hand. Had remedial measures been taken promptly, the SLPP government could have prevented the problem being exploded into a major political crisis, the former lawmaker said. Gunasekera asserted that the government blundered seriously by its failure to address concerns expressed by a section of the ministers. The former minister declared: “It is the first mistake and the first sin.”

Gunasekera explained how the absence of transparency in the sale of 40 % shares owned by the Treasury to New Fortress Energy, hasty approval of the agreement at the Cabinet level without following due procedure, bringing the power ministry under a new Minister Gamini Lokuge at the expense of Dullas Alahapperuma ahead of the finalization of the agreement, the project being a threat to the country’s sovereignty and inimical to national aspirations and finally the impact on current Geo-political situation undermined stability.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) former Parliamentarians Sunil Hadunneththi and Wasantha Samarasinghe, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa thera and Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya have challenged the deal in the Supreme Court.

The former minister also examined the SLPP’s continuing failure to grasp the current crisis. Instead of realizing that their economic strategy had failed to meet the desired objectives or challenges, influential sections of the SLPP quite conveniently blamed the crisis on the Covid-19 epidemic, the ex-MP said.

Gunasekera questioned whether the government was considering a taking a turn to the right seeking a new alternative.

The outspoken politician emphasized that the SJB, the UNP and the JVP (JVP contested last general election on the Jathika Jana Balavegaya ticket) hadn’t been able to correctly ascertain the current situation, particularly against the backdrop of the crisis caused by Yugadanavi fiasco. The SJB and the UNP essentially blamed the current situation on incompetence and mismanagement whereas the JVP believed waste, corruption and misappropriation of public funds caused the deterioration of the national economy.

The former minister also drew public attention to the government altogether doing away with price controls. The runaway cost of living should be examined taking into consideration the government ending state intervention in price controls, the ex-lawmaker said, adding that those who asserted that eradication of bribery, corruption and misappropriation of public funds would be the panacea for Sri Lanka’s ills should realize how government strategy and policies contributed to the deterioration.

Gunasekera also questioned the suitability of the majority of those who had received appointments from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Categorizing them as believers of disastrous neo liberal policies, Gunasekera said that the current dispensation was in fact a UPFA style administration. They had proved their belief in neo liberalism through their actions, the former MP said.

The former minister declared that the vast majority of lawmakers in the Parliament couldn’t even understand the developments that had taken place since 1956 hence the deterioration of overall parliamentary standards and way of thinking. Taking a genuine anti-imperialistic patriotic stand was no longer attractive to the majority of lawmakers, Gunasekera said, adding that the current lot basically followed the policies of those elected to the Parliament in 1977.

Gunasekera also examined the differences between the current dispensation and the 2005-2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa administration that quite convincingly managed political upheavals both in and out of Parliament. The former minister said that the same couldn’t be said about the current dispensation.



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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage

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‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics

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SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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