By Saman Indrajith
Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday that the government had published more gazettes than the number of cassettes released by popular singer HR Jothipala.
Opening the third reading debate on the budget 2021 form the opposition, MP Kiriella said: “Although the government printed gazettes on price control, there is no price control in the market. During the time of our government we had a rice company, called Ape Shakthi, to control the rice market. This government dissolved it after coming to power. Now, the rice mafia of Polonnaruwa determines rice prices arbitrarily.”
MP Kiriella said that the government was undoing democracy by implementing the provisions of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. “Today, the separation of powers is not to be seen especially with regard to the list of institutions whose budgetary allocations are being debated today. The Supreme Court, the Appeal Court, the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commission, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and the Finance Commission were independent under the 19th Amendment. The Constitutional Council had the power to reject even a nomination by the President. Its successor the Parliament Council does not have that power. It has just to endorse the nominations made by the President. The President can make appointments to 75 top posts in key institutions. Even in the US, the Senate has the power to reject persons nominated by the President. Those nominated to top posts have to come before the Senate and respond to thousands of questions and those sessions are aired live on TV. Imagine what will happen under the present system here now. Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake gave a ruling on Divi Neguma Bill against the government wish, she was summoned to parliament and removed.
Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando: We do not see anything wrong in that process. We stand by what we did because whatever we did we did so in accordance with the constitutional provisions. We followed the process outlined in the Constitution to remove her. But what you did when your government removed Shirani Bandaranayake’s successor Mohan Peiris. Soon after you formed the government Azath Sally went to his house and told him to resign within one hour and threatened to throw him out otherwise. That was the procedure you followed.
MP Kiriella: I am not aware of such a thing. There are many instances that could be taken from the Indian Supreme Court rulings. Now, laws could be passed to change the status quo of separation of powers. Today, there is no separation of powers here.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that military men are not suitable to rule a country. It is there on the web. You can show a mountain to the military and order them to capture it. They would duly follow the order and capture it but they cannot rule. Because they do not know how to maintain a dialogue and discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. Unfortunately, today there is no dialogue. We are sliding towards the abyss of authoritarianism.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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