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Harin claims govt using fight against coronavirus to suppress political opponents, break laws to help cronies

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harin Fenanrdo told Parliament yesterday that other countries were acting with single-minded pursuit of the goal of beating coronavirus, the Sri Lankan government was advancing a hidden agenda as for its anti-COVID-19 campaign.

Fernando, participating in a debate at the time of the adjournment of the House, said that all other governments in the world were focussed on how to tackle the pandemic and save lives. “In Sri Lanka, the COVID-19 campaign is used to suppress the government’s political enemies and help its cronies. The people in the Maligawatte flats were demanding food. People are dying on streets not in Wuhan but in Panadura, in Udugampola and in Gampaha. The government does not give two hoots about people’s plight. It is worried only about how it could help its friends make money by supplying rapid antigen test kits to the Health Ministry.

What is this antigen test issue? I table a copy of a letter by MP Dr Channa Jayasumana. This letter is addressed to Chairman National Medicines Regulatory Authority Prof Asitha de Silva. It is dated as Oct 20, 2020. I will read some sections of the letter. It says: ‘The nature of the complaints mostly received are in the delay of the following process. Prices of drugs, license to sell therapeutic goods retail and wholesale.’

Now, the MP himself says something untoward is happening in the NMRA. He says, “I would like to remind you at our meeting one week after assuming duties as State Minister NMRA provided timelines to complete the regulatory process pertaining to local manufacturing and importing pharmaceuticals.”

State Minister Jayasumana raising a point of order:

My name is mentioned. I want to say that I had received many complaints of an undue delay in NMRA from various parties. So I sent a letter to the head of the NMRA to get the matter clarified. There is no connection between the letter and the antigen tests.

 MP Harin Fernando

: Not only antigen tests. I table a document on a massive fraud in importing sugar. A businessman with close links to the government is hoarding 50,000 metric tonnes of sugar. I will reveal the name in the coming days.

“Within a month the number of COVID-19 cases increased by 11,000.

MP Fernando reminded the House of the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. “The same is happening here now too. Today, people are dying on the streets but the leaders are duped into thinking that the situation is rosy.”

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”

 

 

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Bathiudeen granted bail

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Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions

 

 

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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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