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EC suggests minor amendment to pave the way for PC polls

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Sri Lanka’s Amb. in Myanmar calls for scrapping of PCs

SLPP reiterated its commitment to fresh elections

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Election Commission Chief attorney-at-law Nimal Punchihewa yesterday (16) said that the government could easily pave the way for Provincial Council polls by effecting a simple amendment to the Provincial Councils Act.

Punchihewa said so in response to The Island query whether the EC was making preparations for PC polls in the wake of its five members meeting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Punchihewa said that as a new Act in respect of PCs had been endorsed in Parliament during the previous administration, polls couldn’t be held in the absence of a delimitation process.

Therefore, the polls couldn’t be conducted in terms of the new Act in the foreseeable future, the EC Chairman said. The only feasible strategy was to introduce an amendment to suspend the new Act pending the conclusion of polls in terms of the previous Act, the lawyer said.

Asked how fast the EC could move in case they secured the parliamentary approval as suggested by him, a confident Punchihewa said that arrangements could be finalized within 10 to 12 weeks.

Punchihewa said that the required amendment could be approved with a simple majority.

The top official explained that the PC system had been fully functional though elections weren’t held for any of the nine councils.

“In spite of the absence of elected representatives, respective Governors and relevant officials operate the system,” Punchihewa said. The EC Chief dismissed the much-touted claim that the PC system had collapsed for want of elections.

Punchihewa emphasized that the decision on PC polls rested with the government. The official expressed the view that the continuation of the Governors reflected the actual situation.

However, some of those who backed the SLPP at the 2019 presidential and 2020 general elections were strongly opposed to PC polls.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva has called for scrapping of what he called an utterly wasteful system. Ambassador de Silva declared that in the absence of elected PCs, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution had been automatically abolished. Therefore, the much controversial 13th plus proposal, too, had been done away, Ambassador de Silva said, declaring there was no basis for assertion that democracy could be achieved by way of implementation of the PCs system.

Ambassador de Silva also questioned the proposed PC polls against the backdrop of the government undertaking a high profile project to introduce a new Constitution.

The retired Professor said that Sri Lanka shouldn’t bend backwards to appease India hell-bent on pursuing its despicable strategy here though it failed to implement the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.

 Against the backdrop of India’s failure to disarm the LTTE within the stipulated time, there was no point in talking about the so called Indo-Lanka Accord, the academic said.

Declaring that the PCs didn’t serve any purpose, Ambassador de Silva pointed out that the PC system accommodated hundreds of politicians and paved the way for some to enter Parliament.

Referring to Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kutani leader C.W. Wigneswaran’s entry into parliamentary politics, Ambassador de Silva pointed out how the former Supreme Court judge exploited his position as the Northern province Chief Minister to launch a political party.

The Ambassador urged the government not to succumb to Indian pressure as the 13th Amendment lacked any legal status in the absence of functioning PCs.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, explained that as long as the 13th Amendment remained part of the Constitution, elections would have to be conducted and PCs empowered fully to serve the people. National List MP Kariyawasam pointed out that the government allocated a significant amount of funds for the PCs through the annual budget. Pointing out that funds had been allocated through the 2021 budget to PCs, too, lawmaker Kariyawasam emphasized that functioning PCs couldn’t be indefinitely run by Governors and officials, therefore polls would have to be held.

MP Kariyawasam stressed that the SLPP’s position on PCs was clear. There was absolutely no ambiguity in respect of the SLPP’s desire to conduct PC polls as quickly as possible to ensure proper public participation in the process.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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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

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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

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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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