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Karu Jayasuriya’s take on some vital issues facing the nation



(Edited excerpts of remarks made by Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice at the media conference in Colombo on Thursday. )

The National Movement for Social Justice has always been driven by a sense of duty to the country for the good of the country and its people. We have stood for these at all times and presented our ideas and suggestions publicly in good faith. All members of our organization are very interested in these matters and most concerned about the interventions that are necessary for the good of the country.

As suggested by our members, we will forward our views directly to the president . I hope that the president will pay his attention to them. We are not referring to gossip picked up from the street. These are facts verified by us.

We would also like to draw attention to a valuable comment made by the Ven. Medagoda Abhayatissa Nayaka Thero in the media recently. He said that this is the best time for the president to display that he is principled and upstanding leader, pointing out that the people of this country elected him to the presidency to build a law abiding society. The Maha Sangha made an unparalleled contribution to bring him to power and we sincerely hope that the president will take future decisions with the blessings of the Maha Sangha.

We would first like to focus on the 20th Amendment. The intelligent people of this country do not approve of 20A which deprives our country of democracy, freedom and human rights. We saw that the president himself had stated that he had not received the blessings of the Maha Sangha for this Amendment and had not met with the Buddhist Advisory Council before presenting the Amendment to Parliament.

Several leading monks have informed us that any knowledgeable Maha Thera will not bless 20A. We learned from survey reports that more than 80% of the Sri Lankan population has rejected it. It has caused much chaos in the country creating issues like giving dual citizens the opportunity to participate in governing the country. We feel that the President should reconsider the 20A which deprives the country of democracy and freedom.

It was the president who promised to introduce a new Constitution to the country before the first anniversary of his inauguration. It is our national responsibility to call for a new Constitution that will strengthen the country’s democracy, protect the freedoms and rights of the people, and ensure the sovereignty of the country. This is an important effort we must make for the future generations of this country.

The new Constitution should create an environment in which all communities of the country can live in unity, peace, coexistence and self-esteem. Accordingly, the dictatorial powers created by 20A must be removed when drafting the new Constitution or it would be a curse upon us enabling the establishing of a dictatorial presidency. The president should take action to prevent such a situation.

We believe there are two essentials that need to be completed before a provincial or any other election. The first is to establish an appropriate mechanism for holding free, peaceful and fair elections. The independence of the Election Commission must be ensured. This cannot be expected from the commission now in place.

A fair election can never be expected from a commission consisting of persons who have direct links with the political machinery of government. It is not the people who will win their allegiance at a crucial moment but their political masters. Therefore, the independence of the Election Commission must be ensured before any election is declared. It is also reported that the government has an intention to hold sporadic elections to gain more benefits for itself as has been done in the past. That should never happen.

The report of the Presidential Commission on Political Victimization must be trashed. However weak a government, it should not become a joke to the people. The president should explain his position on this report as soon as possible. Immediate intervention is also needed to eradicate corruption and fraud taking place in broad daylight. It is the responsibility of the president to take the lead in punishing the perpetrators. Without this the confidence of the people in him will be irreparably damaged.

The government cannot deny the people an explanation about the daylight robbery that took place while importing sugar. The COPE, the Finance Committee and the Treasury have admitted fraud and investigations by the Auditor General have begun.We call on the President to immediately launch an impartial inquiry into this matter.

Many involved in this racket hold various positions in the government. If a proper investigation is conducted, several heads will roll. Some may even be allies of the powerful but they cannot be allowed. to bring disrepute to the Head of State.

In the first decade of 1980/90 I was the Chairman of the Sugar Importers Association and former Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri represented the manufacturers (Pelwatta, Kantale, Sevanagala). Working together with the Ministry of Trade and the General Treasury, we launched a monthly reduction of import duties to develop and protect the local sugar industry to make it viable. There

seems to be a major irregularity in the questionable transaction now in the public domain.

Today an unprecedented environmental catastrophe is taking place in this country and it is impossible to even imagine the possible consequences. Leading government officials such as Government Agents and Divisional Secretaries have told us there is significant political meddling behind these disasters and the officials are powerless and helpless to the point of not being able to do duty. The situation can become worse if the president does not intervene personally.

The government must pay special attention to the human-elephant conflict and an immediate action plan formulated to protect the elephant and compensate farmers for crop damage. A dedicated Presidential Task Force for this purpose is appropriate.

The entire public service seems to be manipulated by politicians, destroying the prestige and dignity of the public service in this country. An attempt is being made to remove competitive examinations for the recruitment of public servants by the Examinations Department and hand this task to Ministry of Public Administration.

Unfortunately, public servants are harassed and embarrassed and top officials in the public service have been affected. The minister in charge of the subject is not aware of the removal of Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva from his post in the Ministry of Health. The removal of Dr. Palitha Abeykoon from the post of Director of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka is similar. He has earned the country an international reputation as one of the six chief advisers to the WHO. He was on line for a top position in the World Health Organization but due to the weak policies of the then government the post went elsewhere. In such a situation, will there be talented people left in the public service? We believe that the attention of the president should be drawn to this as well.

Finally, I would like to draw attention to another incident where the police have reportedly questioned a girl who participated in the Lakshapathi program aired on Sirasa TV recently for mentioning environmental destruction in the area she lives. This is like Hitler’s Gestapo in the 1940s and is a stern warning to the people of this country. The ultimate responsibility for this rests with the president.

What has happened should be severely condemned. In fact, the police or wildlife officers or the grama niladhari should have listened to what she had to say and taken necessary action without harassing her. The IGP must act immediately to protect the dignity and honor of the police.

I once again stress that the NMSJ makes these points in good faith. All these issues are being raised by educated members of our organization and they are being referred to H.E. the President with the utmost responsibility. He can look into these matters or trash them. But I would like to say these are opinions of a majority of our people.



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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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IGP tells CID not to brook any interference from any quarter while they probe ’Harak Kata’ and ‘Kudu Salindu’



By Norman Palihawadane

IGP CD Wickramaratne has directed the CID to maintain a special log of names and details of any attempts by external parties to influene the ongoing investigations on notorious drug traffickers Nandun Chinthaka Wickramaratne aka Harak Kata and Salindu Malshika aka Kudu Salindu.

The suspects are currently under the custody of the CID.

The IGP issued the orders to the DIG CID and its director during a meeting of senior police officers on Monday, police headquarters said.

Sources said that the IGP has further instructed not to allow statements from the detainees to be taken by any police team other than the team currently investigating the suspects.

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