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Hemasiri blames tale carriers for souring of relations with Sirisena

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had issued confusing instructions to officials following the Easter Sunday attacks, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando yesterday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Fernando said that following the attacks, Sirisena had instructed him not to impose a curfew, but he had instructed the then IGP Pujith Jayasundara to do so.

“Immediately after the attacks, I contacted the President, who was out of the country. I wanted his permission to impose a curfew but he didn’t want that. But, later from news alerts I learnt that police curfew had been imposed throughout the country.”

Fernando said that he had had a cordial relationship with Sirisena until about January 2019, but it had turned sour gradually due to the actions of some individuals who gave wrong information about him to President Sirisena. That was deliberately done to create a rift between him and the president, he said.

The witness said that following the attack, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene had called for a special security meeting and they had asked him and the Secretary to the President Udaya R. Seneviratne to take part.

However, after about half an hour from receiving the message, President Sirisena instructed both of them not to attend that meeting convened by the Premier.

Fernando also informed the commission that he had been the former Defence Secretary and not the Secretary appointed to handle the intelligence services in the country.

He made this statement responding to a question posed by the representative from the Attorney General’s (AG) department who led the evidence. The AG’s representative drew the witness’ attention to Article 52 (2) of the Constitution, which mentioned his duties as a Secretary.

The witness said that he had taken over as the Defence Secretary in November 2018 and the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had given him reports regarding Zahran Hashim and his extremist activities.

However, those reports had not mentioned that there was an immediate threat to the country, he said. They lacked analysis and never comprised recommendations. Fernando said that he expected analysis and recommendations in the reports from the country’s top intelligence agency.

“When I look at a report about a possible issue, I would want to know what we could do about them. But SIS reports always were vague. Even on April 20, the SIS Director only forwarded a WhatsApp message he had received from an Indian source. That’s the job for a postmaster. I lived two kilometres away from him; he could have sent a rider. Also he knew that I didn’t check WhatsApp messages often.”

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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