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Govt. heeds religious leaders’ advice – Johnston

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The Opposition seems to be rejoicing when religious leaders, led by Maha Sangha, become critical of some decisions and actions of the government, but the fact remains that the incumbent government will not always respect the advice of religious leaders, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando says.

Following an inspection tour to review the progress of the construction of the Marine Drive’s section from Dehiwala Bridge to Hill Street, Minister Fernando said that the government would never forget the fact that it had been voted in by the majority of Sinhala Buddhist and Catholic electors and the government was dedicated to safeguarding their inspirations.

“We are in the process of preparing a new Constitution. It is our policy to hold the elections without delay. That is why we have started the process of holding elections for the Provincial Councils. Some members of the Maha Sangha have expressed their opinion that elections should not be held at this time. When that difference of opinions came up the Opposition seemed to have rejuvenated as if they got a boost.

“We respect the religious leaders’ opinion and advice which we never challenge. We work in a democratic framework. We also have a policy and practice of giving priority to the advice of religious leaders when making decisions. I assure you that there would be no clash between their wishes and our actions. So the Opposition’s delight would be proven to be very-short-lived sinister joy.”

Minister Fernando said that those who were in the Opposition today used to deploy water cannon and police anti-riot squads to smash the heads of bhikkhus who took to the roads against social injustices prevailing then.  “The bhikkhus have stated their opinion with regard to the cremation of bodies of COVID-19 victims and I, as the Chief Government Whip, am happy that their standpoint is in accordance with the government policy.”

Minister Fernando said that during the five-year period of the yahapalana government there had been no development of the Marine Drive extension project, which had been launched to ease congestion on the Galle Road. “We have expedited its extension. It is our intention to finish the 1.2 km long section from the Dehiwala Bridge to Hill Street within 70 days. This would solve the traffic congestion near the Ramakrishna Road, Dehiwala. We intend to develop the two-lane Dehiwala Bridge into a four-lane bridge.”



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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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