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Govt. MP moves SC to cancel SLIIT deal, action against ex-Minister et al



“CIABOC slept on my complaint regarding loss of Rs 23 bn’

SLPP Colombo District lawmaker Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, has moved the Supreme Court in terms of the Article 126 and Article 17 of the Constitution requesting the cancellation of agreements between the Mahapola Higher Education Scholarship Trust Fund and Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT).

Former Justice Minister and also the former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), having named Cabinet of ministers, including the PM, Members of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, IGP, Attorney General, members of the SLIIT and the Mahapola Higher Education Scholarship Trust Fund as respondents, asked for issuing of notices to them and most importantly an order directing Attorney-General to charge and indict Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya (deceased), Anil Rajakaruna, Prof. Lalith R. Gamage, Prof. Luxman Rathnayaka and Manjula Sagara Ellepola in line with the recommendations made by a Presidential Commission that inquired into the matter.

MP Rajapakshe has also requested the SC to direct the CIABOC to initiate legal action and indict Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya (deceased), Anil Rajakaruna, Prof. Lalith R. Gamage, Prof. Luxman Rathnayaka and Manjula Sagara Ellepola

The President’s Counsel in his petition said that those responsible should be charged and prosecuted under Sections 452, 454, 388 and 389 of the Penal Code and also prosecuted for the offence punishable under section 70 of the Bribery Commission Act.

Appearing before the SC in person, MP Rajapakshe said that the Attorney-General had been made a party to represent the President in terms of Article 35(1) of the Constitution.

MP Rajapakshe moved SC in the wake of parliamentary watchdog committee COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) calling for government intervention to take back SLIIT.

The petitioner stated that on examination of relevant documents it was revealed that Prof. Laxman Ratnayake (34th Respondent) and Prof. Lalith R. Gamage (35thRespondent) received appointment as directors of said company in their capacity as employees of the Moratuwa University, and the 35th Respondent has been appointed in view of the fact that he is the son-in-law of late Kingsly Wickremaratne, who was the Minister in Charge of the Mahapola Trust Fund at that time.

The petitioner stated that he found that the Prof. Laxman

Ratnayake and Prof. Lalith R. Gamage had surreptitiously, gradually and fraudulently got the non-State actors appointed as directors whenever vacancies occurred due to retirement of the ex-officio directors and finally it was ended up with all the directors being non-State actors who were not holding any public office.

The petitioner alleged Prof. Laxman Ratnayake and Prof. Lalith R. Gamage (had acted in collusion with late Dr. Wickrama Weerasuriya, who was a newly appointed member of the Mahapola Trust Fund, and upon being questioned and convinced about the fraud committed the petitioner, in his capacity as the Higher Education Minister ordered him to resign from the trusteeship of the Mahapola Trust Fund and also from the membership of the University Grant Commission forthwith and accordingly he resigned.

The Petitioner stated that the Auditor General’s Department after having a special investigation into the issue at hand in a report dated 07.09.2018 asserted that the trustees of the Mahapola Trust Fund were responsible for causing a loss to the fund amounting to over Rs. 1,645,494,237 by handing over ownership to another party.

The petitioner alleged that though he made a complaint to the CIABOC on 25 February 2019 that the loss caused to Sliit as a result of the corrupt transaction at that time was about Rs. 23,000,000,000. (Rs. 23 billion), the outfit did nothing except for recording statements from him twice. (SF)

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Scotland Police to stop training Lankan cops



Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

Concerns over the human rights record in Sri Lanka has led to the halt of the police training contract between the Sri Lanka and Scottish Police, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone of the Scotland Police confirmed.

He said they have written to the British High Commission in Colombo to inform the Sri Lanka government that they are no longer planning to renew the training contract with Sri Lanka’s police force due to end in March next year.

The British Foreign Office reported last week that Sri Lanka’s human rights situation deteriorated during the first half of 2021.

The report said: “Security forces increased their surveillance and intimidation of human rights activists and their use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, with a number of arbitrary arrests.

The government proposed new regulations with powers to arrest and send individuals to rehabilitation centres to be ‘de-radicalised’ with no judicial oversight or requirement for further process.”

News of Scotland’s Police not renewing the contract was welcomed by critics of Sri Lanka including Mercedes Villalba who is a Scottish Labour politician who has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for North East Scotland since May 2021.

British MPs and MSPs jointly sent a letter to the Scotland Police and the British High Commission in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago requesting them to stop the training programme.

Villalba was one of the signatories and after this announcement, she said “I have been pleased to support the campaigners and thank them for their tireless efforts in securing the commitment from the chief constable. I also want to thank Police Scotland for being responsive to the real concerns which were expressed about Sri Lanka’s record of human rights violations.”

Talking about the decision to stop training, Chief Constable Livingstone said that a review must be done to accurately reflect the current security and human rights issues in the region, which have changed since the initial deployment after the end of the Civil War in 2010.

“We remain of course committed to supporting the international development of policing services right across the world so that we can enhance and enable human rights and we can underline the values that we hold dear in Police Scotland of integrity, fairness and respect. Those values will always be at the heart of the work we deliver in Scotland and at the heart of everything we do internationally”, he added.

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Interfaith Week celebrated in London



Sujeeva Nivunhella reporting from London

A Pooja to celebrate Interfaith Week was organized here last week with the advice and guidance of Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayake Thera, head of the London Buddhist Vihara and the Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain.

This annual event begins on Remembrance Sunday, a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of the World War I to remember armed forces personnel who died in the line of duty. This tradition was inaugurated by King George V in 1919.

Adhering to the country’s Covid guidelines, this year’s celebration was held using Zoom technology on the theme “Altruism in each religion”.

Ven. Seelawimala welcomed everyone who joined the session. Notable participants of the event were Ven. Thawalama Bandula Thera, Ven. Kalugamuwe Kassapa Thera from London Buddhist Vihara, Dr Harriet Crabtree – Director of Interfaith Network, UK, Ranjish Kashyap, General Secretary/Director Hindu Council,UK, Dr. Pujya Samaniji Pratibha Pragya, who is a Jain nun from Harrow, Rev Gyoro Nagase, Japanese monk, London Peace Pagoda, Battersea, Dr Desmond Bidulph – Chairman of Buddhist Society and Charanjith and Ajith Singh MBE, Hounslow Friends of Faith, who represented the Sikhs.

All present chanted prayers according to their own faiths to eradicate human suffering, to have peace and especially to see an end to the pandemic situation in the world.

A pre-recorded video of Devotional Songs by London Buddhist Vihara Dhamma School Children was played at the event.

Interfaith Network – UK was founded in 1987 with representatives from the Buddhist, Bahai, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Islam, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities,

National and local interfaith bodies, academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter-religious issues are affiliated to the organization. Then head of the London Buddhist Vihara late, Ven. Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera was actively involved in forming the Network and was a founding member.

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Frankfurt Consulate massive white elephant, alleges Lankan living there



Foreign office looking at closing some overseas mission due to financial constraints

by Harischandra Gunaratna

Sri Lanka’s Consulate in Frankfurt has turned out to be a white elephant although the Sri Lankan government spends a whopping Rs. 200 million per year for its operations, Azad Shaukatally, a businessman and a Sri Lankan expatriate in Frankfurt told the Sunday Island.

“Over the years, this consulate has not contributed anything tangible to the country. All that has happened is successive governments appointing political loyalists to head the Mission. None of them have done anything concrete to promote business between the two countries,” he said.

According to him, the Mission could have contributed a great deal by promoting Sri Lankan exports and tourism as Frankfurt is the business hub of Germany.

“What actually happens is, the Consulate in Frankfurt simply replicates several tasks performed by the Embassy in Berlin and that’s it. But it cost the country exorbitantly without the knowledge of the authorities. This is sheer waste of national resources and it needs to be brought to an end,” Shaukatally said.

When the Sunday Island contacted the Foreign Ministry on the matter, its Acting Director General Sugeeshwara Gunaratna said: “The Foreign Ministry regularly evaluates individual performance of each Sri Lankan mission abroad, and constructively engages with them from time to time on specific issues or matters which are mutually beneficial in promotion of Sri Lanka’s bilateral and multilateral relations with the host country and various international organizations while ensuring best interests of the people of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan citizens living abroad.”

He said that any decisions related to opening of new missions or closure of particular Missions/Posts abroad including the Consulate General in Frankfurt would be taken after wider consultation with relevant stakeholders based on the relevance of each Mission/Post in promotion of Sri Lanka’s relations abroad.

“Under the current financial constraints, the Foreign Ministry is in the process of closing down some of the Sri Lankan Missions/Posts abroad after obtaining the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers. However, no final decision, has so far, been taken with regard to the Missions/Posts which would be closed down in the near future,” Gunaratna said.

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