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Field Marshal warns govt members of his physical prowess

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka says that he has enough strength to take on all government members in the front row numbering 25 together single handedly in case they try to surround the Opposition MPs.

 Participating in a debate at the time of adjournment of the House on the progress report of the Election Commission on Wednesday (23), Field Marshal Fonseka said so referring to a statement made on Tuesday by Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage that the government had a two-thirds majority in the House and the government MPs could outnumber their Opposition counterparts three to one.

 Field Marshal Fonseka said: “His figures are wrong. To have that ratio you need a three-fourths of majority not two-third. This shows that there are MPs who could not receive education beyond the Grade Eight. I would like to tell the government members not to dare think of surrounding us just because you have more numbers. I single handedly can take all of those in your front row. To take on your second row, we’ll send someone of the calibre of our fellow MP Chaminda Wijesiri. We know that there are some among you who have the experience of tasting the power of his blows. For your second row, which has Dayasiri Jayasekera, who knows Karate, we can send someone such as MP Diana Gamage, because she is a black-belt holder in Karate. So do not speak of taking us on that easily. Remember we are not afraid of threats just because you have a two-thirds majority.”

 MP Fonseka said that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution had progressive provisions and the attempt to undo them by the incumbent government was a threat to democracy. “I have very little experience in politics but even before entering politics the election culture in this country was not something we could be proud of. The elections after 1994 were marred by thuggery, attacks on counting centres, vote rigging, intimidation and undue influence on voters in mega scales. The Election Department was helpless. But after 2015, the Elections Commission came into being and that independent commission was given powers under the 19th Amendment to the constitution. We hope that the government rank members understand the need to safeguard those democratic mechanisms. If they are going to vote blindly and pass the 20th Amendment as it is, then they should remember they are playing the role of king Sirisangabo, who offered his head. The 20th Amendment has a provision enabling the Elections Commission to issue regulations on private media. That is not democratic. Media should be free from such regulations.” 

The front row on each side of the Well in the Chamber has seats for 25 MPs. 

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released

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… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine

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Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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