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Ex-CNI says he grappled with inadequate funding

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Office of the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) had not been able to maintain contacts with informants due to inadequate fund allocations, former CNI Sisira Mendis yesterday told  the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Asked by Commissioner whether the CNI’s office had maintained contacts on the field, Mendis said that funds were required for that purpose.

“We didn’t even have good vehicles. We needed money and other facilities to maintain a network of informants.

But funds were always in short supply.”

Mendis said that when he assumed duties on July 28, 2015, there had been about 22 army officers in the CNI’s office including a Lieutenant Colonel, but he was arrested by the CID. He was replaced. Then there were two majors. All of them were good officers.”

It was also revealed at the commission that although Mendis assumed duties on July 28, 2015, his appointment letter said that he had taken over as the CNI on April 10, 2015.

The Attorney General’s Department (ADG) Official, who led evidence, asked the witness whether that undermined his office from the very beginning. “You might be held responsible for something that happened when you were not in charge at all,” she said.

Mendis also said that he had been paid a salary of Rs. 42,000, a fuel allowance of Rs. 20,000 and a phone allowance of Rs. 8,000.

Mendis, 69, retired from the police in 2011 as a DIG.

The Rs. 42,000 is the pension he received.

The former CNI said he had found employment in the private sector after retiring in 2011. In April 2015, B. M. U. D. Basnayake called Mendis and asked if he was interested in becoming CNI, as the post had fallen vacant after Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Kapila Hendawitharana left on January 09, 2015. He had been hesitant initially, but he had been assured that he would receive the kind of support Hendawitharana had from former Defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and other senior officers, Mendis said.

“Two persons called and assured me of this,” Mendis said. The names of the two officials were not revealed to the media.

“I had seen how Hendawitharana operated when I was the Director and DIG of the CID. I saw him coordinate with all intelligence agencies. How everyone cooperated with him and the support the current President gave when he was the Defence secretary and I felt confident that I too could do so.”

 

 



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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