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JJB MP questions voters’ responsibility in deterioration of parliamentary system



…the Executive bane of the country

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Jathika Jana Balavegaya (JJB) lawmaker Dr. Harini Amarasuriya says the Parliament has to be reformed. The Parliament is necessary and the urgent need is to make it stronger, the civil society activist asserts.

Dr. Amarasuriya said so in response to The Island query how she felt about the failure on the part of the Parliament to guarantee financial discipline, as a first time entrant into parliamentary politics and a member of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA).

Dr. Amarasuriya recently chaired COPA proceedings temporarily in the absence of its Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitharana.

Whatever the inadequacies, the country couldn’t do away with the Parliamentary system, Dr. Amarasuriya said, underscoring the need to reform the Parliament with a view to meeting the aspirations of the people.

The JVP contested the last general election in August 2000 under JJB symbol. The JJB secured three seats, including one National List seat. The JVP deviated from the controversial practice of appointing wholesale its defeated candidates through the National List, by accommodating Dr. Amarasuriya on the single NL seat it won.

When The Island sought Dr. Amarasuriya views on the bleak picture depicted by statements issued as regards proceedings of three watchdog committees, namely COPA, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and PFC (Public Finance Committee), the academic said the electorate couldn’t under any circumstance absolve themselves of the responsibility for the current turmoil caused by those who exercised political power.

Was it fair to parliament when the electorate repeatedly elected the same lot? Dr. Amarasuriya asked. Those who exercised their franchise to elect questionable members should accept the consequences, too, the lawmaker said, pointing out the responsibility on the part of the print and electronic media to educate the public.

When The Island pointed out that the electorate first picked a political party before choosing candidates, Dr. Amarasuriya reiterated the fact that voters should accept the responsibility for their choices.

Of the 225-member Parliament, 196 are elected whereas 29 entered on the National Lists of various parties. Of the 29 NL members in the current parliament, the ruling SLPP  and the SJB won 17 and 07, respectively, and the remaining six were shared one each by the ITAK, JJB, AITC (Ahila Illankai Thamil Congress), UNP and OPPP( Our Power of People Party).

Dr. Amarasuriya pointed out the absurdity in those complaining about successive governments they themselves voted in. She emphasized that her stand as regards the issue at hand applied for those who raised the issue on behalf of the media. The JJB lawmaker asserted that the Parliament would have been in a much better position to address the grievances of the public if the electorate voted prudently.

MP Amarasuriya warned of dire consequences in depicting the Parliament as a useless and failed institution at a time when efforts were being made to weaken the parliamentary democracy.

In addition to the electorate irresponsibly voting for the same lot over and over again, the weakening of the Parliament by way of such despicable Amendments as the 20th, too, contributed to the overall deterioration of the systems in place.

The SLPP enacted the 20th Amendment last October at the expense of the 19th brought in early 2015 with over 200 lawmakers voting for it, MP Amarasuriya said. The 20th received a two-thirds majority with over a half a dozen Opposition MPs voting with the SLPP. All JJB lawmakers voted against the 20th Amendment which JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake called a dictatorial project.

MP Amarasuriya said that the electorate should take their responsibilities seriously. They should recognize the danger in repeatedly empowering the same political parties and their representatives. The Island pointed out the people today blamed the executive, legislature and the judiciary for the current state of affairs. The Island also raised the confusion caused by those who represented the parliament as accusations and counter-accusations as regards negligence and the responsibility pertaining to the Easter Sunday attacks and the father of two Easter Sunday suicide cadres ending up in the JVP National List for the 2015 general elections. And after having got elected many more members, the JVP shamelessly cavorted with the UNP in abusing political opponents using the law enforcers and particularly the police for the purpose even after two bond robberies staged in broad daylight by the yahapalana government.

 Dr. Amarasuriya emphasized the need to strengthen the parliament and stop efforts to dilute the parliamentary powers for the benefit of the executive. The MP claimed that the executive presidency was the bane of the democracy. Reforming the parliament would be the remedial measure, the country needed now, the MP said.

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BASL calls for independent and impartial probe into killing of ’Uru Juwa’ & ’Kosgoda Tharaka’



‘Such deaths are an affront to the Rule of Law’

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) condemned the killing of Melon Mabula alias ‘Uru Juwa’ and Tharaka Perera Wijesekera alias ‘Kosgoda Tharaka’, who were taken into police custody.

The State and the Police should have a duty to ensure the safety and security of persons in their custody, irrespective of the character of such persons and the seriousness of the nature of the allegations against such person, the BASL said in a statement.

“These deaths have all the hallmarks of extra-judicial killings and we call upon the State to ensure the safety and security persons in their custody, it said.

The statement further said: “On May 12, 2021, an Attorney-at-Law representing Tharaka Perera Wijesekera informed the BASL by e-mail that his client had been suddenly transferred from the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to a special police Unit at Peliyagoda and that he fears that his client will be killed in custody.

“Acting on the complaint of the Attorney-at-Law, between 2000 and 2100 hours, the President of the BASL informed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickremeratne via email to and also by text message and WhatsApp the apprehensions of the said Attorney-at-Law and reminded the IGP that the Police and the State have a duty to protect persons in their custody.

“The IGP was reminded that the Supreme Court in many decisions has re-iterated the duty and responsibility cast on the State to ensure the safety and security of persons in its custody.

“The Attorney-at-Law concerned had also informed the IGP, the Director CID and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka of his concerns.

“Despite the said notifications by the BASL on behalf of an Attorney-at-Law representing his client, the news media reported that Tharaka Wijesekera has been killed while being detained by the Peliyagoda Special Crimes Division, allegedly “when he tried to attack police while recovering some weapons”. This happened at a time when the Police including the IGP had been notified of the same.

“On May 11, 2021 another suspect named Melon Mabula alias ‘Uru Juwa’ had met his death in a similar manner. We are informed that representations were made to the police as regards his safety, prior to his death.

“The State and the Police have a duty to ensure the safety and security of persons in their custody, irrespective of the character of such persons and the seriousness of the nature of the allegations against such persons.

“Such deaths are an affront to the Rule of Law and will tarnish the image of Sri Lanka. It is an imperative requirement of criminal justice that persons accused of serious crimes including murder are tried by a Court of law and punished for their crimes and that the networks that aided and abetted such activities are prosecuted and dismantled. This requirement is defeated by the failure of police officers to control the unarmed suspect purportedly accompanied by them without the use of lethal force.

“It is incomprehensible how on several occasions the Police have been unable to protect unarmed suspects in their custody.

“The Executive Committee of the BASL expresses its grave and serious concern and condemns the failure of the Police including the IGP to protect persons in their custody.

“The BASL calls upon His Excellency the President and the Government to take serious note of these incidents and to take action to prevent such occurrences.

“The BASL also requests the authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these incidents. As far back as 2013 the BASL highlighted the issue of the killing of suspects in the custody of Police and will use all means at its disposal to prevent similar acts of omission and commission on the part of the State authorities in the future.

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Korean Ambassador meets with WFP Representative and Country Director



Korean Ambassador Santhush Woonjin JEONG met with Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, the newly-appointed United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Sri Lanka Country Director and Representative, at the Korean Embassy last week.

They had a productive discussion about the progress of the ongoing projects on the resilience building and strengthening sustainable livelihoods of communities in Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador said he is pleased about the recent project initiated in March 2021, by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to support the Government of Sri Lanka with funding worth USD 600,000 (LKR 117 million) to procure maize for the production of Thriposha amid COVID-19.

The Ambassador extended his warm congratulations to Siddiqui for his latest appointment and took the opportunity to renew the partnership between the Republic of Korea and the World Food Program (WFP) in Sri Lanka.

Santush Woonjin JEONG also expressed his confidence that Siddiqui will lead the World Food Program in Sri Lanka to greater heights with his previous experience of over 30 years in the field of nutrition and food security. The government of the Republic of Korea would like to restate its commitment to the global efforts to achieve WFP priorities at all levels. The Republic of Korea and WFP will work together to promote better outcomes in Sri Lanka and globally in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Siddiqui commended the staunch efforts by the government of Korea for the agricultural and economic development in Sri Lanka especially with reference to the continued investment of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in building resilience and ensuring food security in Sri Lanka under the ongoing projects.

The Country Director appreciated the Korean government for its projects in Sri Lanka; funding worth $ 600,000 (Rs. 117 million) to procure maize for the production of “Thriposha” and for continuing the existing partnership to build resilience against recurrent natural shocks by rehabilitation of irrigation schemes in Moneragala, Matale, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa districts.

Ambassador Santhush said the Republic of Korea is committed to jointly work with international organisations to achieve the sustainable development goals. The Korean government is working closely with the government of Sri Lanka to achieve our common goals in line with the national objectives through Korean government institutes such as Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA), Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) and Saemaul Globalization Foundation in Sri Lanka.

Siddiqui further assured that the World Food Program (WFP) is geared to achieve the targets set for 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the country director appreciated the concessional loan of USD 500 million provided by the Korean government under the Framework Arrangement of Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) which is timely as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all countries including Sri Lanka.

The World Food Program will stand in solidarity with the “Stay Strong Campaign”, the anti-COVID19 initiative launched by the Korean Embassy in Sri Lanka.

The Ambassador further expressed his admiration towards the invaluable role The United Nations World Food Program plays in providing global food security and building resilience among vulnerable communities which contributed to the great achievement of becoming the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

The Ambassador also invited the Country Director to join the “#Live Together Campaign” which was launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea with UNESCO, to raise awareness of and to end discrimination experienced globally during the pandemic.

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18 jumbos felled in Assam’s Nagaon district probably due to lightning



By Utpal Parashar

Eighteen wild elephants have been killed, most probably due to lightning, in Assam’s Nagaon district, officials informed on Thursday.

“The incident took place at Bamuni area of Barhampur on Wednesday. Our officials got to know about it on Thursday. Teams of forest and veterinary officials are at the spot to take stock of the tragedy,” Nagaon, deputy commissioner Kavitha Padmanabham said.

The deaths took place in an area with small hillocks and forests. Officials suspect the elephants, which were part of a herd, were staying close to each other when lightning struck. While four bodies were found at the bottom of a hillock, 14 others were found at the top.

“Preliminary investigation of the spot suggests lightning could be the reason for the deaths. All the elephants killed were adults and sub-adults,” Vasanthan, divisional forest officer (Nagaon), said.

“We are trying to recover all the bodies and conduct post-mortems. The exact cause of the deaths would be known only after the results are out, most likely by Friday,” he added.

Wildlife experts confirmed that the incident was the single largest instance of deaths of wild elephants in one go. They also suspected that there could be other reasons as well for the deaths.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has expressed shock and anguish at the deaths of the elephants and directed forest and environment minister Parimal Suklabaidya to visit the spot immediately.

“A tragedy of such scale is unheard of in Assam. It is a big loss. While lightning has been suspected to be the cause, mass poisoning of the pachyderms shouldn’t be ruled out,” said Bibhab Talukdar, noted elephant expert and CEO of Aaranyak, a Guwahati-based wildlife NGO.

“Assam has witnessed poisonings of wild elephants in the past, though not on such a large scale. I hope a thorough probe is done to know the exact cause behind the deaths,” he added.

According to a 2017 census, Assam (5719) has the second highest number of elephants in India after Karnataka (6049). Every year, several elephants are killed in man-animal conflict due to electrocution, poisonings etc. In 2019, the number of such deaths was nearly 80.

(Hindustan Times)

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