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Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce inaugurated in Las Vegas with Congress blessings

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Board of Directors: Seated (from left) Arushan Yogalingam, Shashinie Perera, Sujanie Abayakoon Dr. Yoojin Lee-Sedera, Dr. Ruchika Ranasinghe and Daya Gamage Standing (from left) Lalaindra Wickremaratne, Piyal Jayasankha, Sanje Sedera (President), Aruna Abayakoon, Douglas Perera and Pradeep Perera

The Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce, in American was inaugurated and established on Dec 9 by a group of professional Sri Lankan expatriates centering the City of Las Vegas with the blessings of the United States Congressional leaders.

The Sri Lankan expatriates selected the City of Las Vegas to make it the Chamber’s headquarters because of the global attraction it has for international conventions that brings trade and commerce activist leaders and influential economic peddlers to the city.

Sensing the importance of a twin-nation commerce, trade and investment arrangement of this nature that could bring more meaningful economic engagement between the United States and Sri Lanka, five Members of U.S. Congress – both House and Senate – apart from sending their immediate staff to the event, communicated through video messages, commending the initiators of the Chamber project, some of whom they knew, and aired congratulatory messages. They expressed confidence that the Chamber could bring conducive atmosphere for American entrepreneurs to search avenues for investments and economic enhancement in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s new Ambassador to Washington, Mahinda Samarasinghe, delivered a congratulatory message on a video clip.

The Sri Lanka Consul-General for the Western States of the United States Dr. Lalith Chandradasa, and Minister-Counsellor of Commerce of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington, Charitha Yattogoda, represented the Government of Sri Lanka.

The nine-member Board of Directors of the Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce is led, as President, by Sanje Sedera, who maintains close rapport and discourses with lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate, and being a leading entrepreneur himself, is destined to work with another accredited 12 directors who have higher academic achievements in business management, investment, public affairs and public diplomacy, and broad knowledge of the manner in which global trade and commerce work, as well as the deep understanding of the manner in which the American system functions, including the agencies and departments in Washington, the Chamber intents to work with.

State of Nevada Judge Kalani Hoo administered the oath of office of the Board of Directors and the key-note address was delivered by States of California and Nevada leading entrepreneur and Taiwanese-American professional Teddy Liaw.

The Chamber proposes developing an action plan to set up economic ties at Macro and Micro levels. At the micro-level, Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce will be targeting small and medium entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka to provide a firm launching platform to their products and services to global markets. The Chamber has currently established an e-commerce platform to fulfill this task, and it was announced at the December 9 inaugural session.

At the macro level the Chamber intends of exploring “Sister City” concept to tie up with the newly developed Port City Colombo, in Sri Lanka, with a major metropolitan city in the United States, to promote trade and commerce, and discussions were initiated by President Sanje Sedera and President-Elect for the Years 2023-2025 Aruna Abayakoon with Sri Lanka Consul-General for Western United States Dr. Lalith Chandradasa and Washington Sri Lanka Embassy Minister-Counsellor Charitha Yattogoda during their visit to Las Vegas to attend the Chamber’s inauguration.

To strengthen the nonprofit groups who are dedicated to alleviate people out of poverty in Sri Lanka and to strengthen the micro entrepreneurs, the Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce has developed a comprehensive plan to allocate resources. Just recently the Chamber was able  to finalise an MOU with the “Mother Sri Lanka”, one of  the largest nonprofit groups in Sri Lanka, headed  by Dr. Janaki Kuruppu.



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Wimal asks for PSC probe into top officials’ complicity in violence

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Colombo HC lawyers concerned over shocking developments

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, says a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should be appointed to investigate the role played by IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Alwis in the recent SLPP hothead attack on those demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa yesterday (18) told The Island that Parliament should inquire into the unprovoked attack that triggered an extremely violent response by the public as well as those awaiting an opportunity to unleash violence on selected group of lawmakers on 09 May.

The former Industries Minister said he was confident that Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, would look into the issues at hand.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that Senior DIG Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon’s claim that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary had interfered with his (Tennakoon’s) plan to disperse the SLPP mobs couldn’t be easily dismissed.

MP Weerawansa declared, in Parliament on Tuesday (17), that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry dissuaded the Senior DIG from performing his duties although he had received specific instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the march on Galle Face. The former JVPer questioned whether those conspirators wanted to show the world the failure on the part of the police and the armed forces to maintain law and order.

Asked whether police headquarters and the Public Security Ministry had responded to his accusations, Weerawansa said he hadn’t been contacted by them so far.

Pointing out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), inquiring into 09 May turmoil had recorded Senior DIG’s statement, Weerawansa said that the outfit could issue an interim statement on the matter.

The Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association said that the shocking revelation, made in Parliament, should be expeditiously inquired into.

The Association’s President Attorney-at-Law Lakshman Perera said that the ongoing investigations had taken an unexpected turn in the wake of high profile specific allegations pertaining to the conduct of the IGP, as well as the Public Security Ministry Secretary. Pointing out that the HRCSL and the CID had already recorded DIG Tennakoon’s statement, pertaining to the incidents, and the officer was among a group of 22 persons slapped with a travel ban by the Fort Magistrate, lawyer Perera said that the CID couldn’t turn a blind eye to accusations directed at the head of the department as well as Secretary to the relevant ministry.

Lawyer Perera said that investigations couldn’t be completed without verifying accusations made in Parliament.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said that the question was on whose behalf the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary intervened at a time the country was under emergency and after the Senior DIG in charge of Colombo received specific instructions from the President himself.

Although the SLPP goons did not shed any blood or cause any serious injuries, unlike the well-organized mobs that caused havoc across the country thereafter, MP Weerawansa said that he couldn’t comprehend why the police and the armed forces allowed the situation to develop to an extremely dangerous level.

The HRCSL in its initial reaction to the unprovoked attacks on those who had been demanding the resignation of the government condemned the violence caused by a group of people who made it very clear that violence was their intention.

HRCSL Chairperson retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe said: “The failure of the police to prepare for this eventuality and prevent and manage the violence and destruction is a gross failure of public order. There must be an immediate inquiry into this matter. The inaction of the police to prevent the clash is condemned.”

The Island brought the latest developments to the notice of the HRCSL yesterday as MP Weerawansa said that those who conspired and planned the project that involved those at the helm of Temple Trees then and the SLPP should be arrested. The conspirators shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice while the CID arrested those who carried out the actual attacks.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the department couldn’t respond to what transpired in Parliament. Acknowledging that he was aware of the allegations made in Parliament, Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa said in case their response was sought through proper channels, whatever the queries would be answered.

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Dr. Pathirana says IGP, Public Security Ministry Secy. allowed goon attacks

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Galle District parliamentarian Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has reiterated that IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Secretary to the Public Security Ministry, Maj. General (retd) Jagath Alwis had facilitated the 09 May unprovoked attack on anti-government protesters.

The former Minister Pathirana declared in Parliament yesterday (18) that National Freedom Front (NFF) leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s allegation, pertaining to the origins of the violence, was true.

Dr. Pathirana said that he was among those who had brought supporters to attend a meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast majority of those who attended the Temple Trees meet on May 09 wanted to thank the war-winning President as he gave up active politics, the MP said. However, some unscrupulous members had instigated the participants there.

Dr. Pathirana said he had been at Temple Trees at that time and as he feared violence could erupt due inflammatory speeches, contact was made with Senior DIG in charge of Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon. Dr. Pathirana said that the senior police officer had assured him that the police were ready to face the situation and confident of preventing those who attended the Temple Trees function from reaching Galle Face.

“Thereafter, I left Temple Trees for a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There were several other members. When trouble erupted, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with Senior DIG Tennakoon, who revealed he had been asked not to use force by the IGP himself.”

Dr. Pathirana said the President had asked the senior law enforcement officer why he didn’t carry out instructions issued by him (the President).

The Galle District MP emphasised that the IGP and the Secretary to the Public Security Ministry were responsible for the violence at Kollupitiya and Fort police areas which triggered violence in many parts of the country. (SF)

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New Deputy Speaker not from Rajapaksa political dynasty

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Newly-elected Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa said that he was not a member of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s clan.

The Hambantota District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmaker said so when The Island asked him whether he, too, was a member of the Rajapaksa family now under fire over the continuing political-economic-social turmoil.

Rajapaksa polled 109 votes at a secret vote held in Parliament on Tuesday (17) to secure the Deputy Speaker’s post. MP Rajapaksa defeated Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Kaviratne, who polled 78 votes.

The SLPP rebel group members refrained from voting for Rajapaksa after the top SLPP leadership ignored their appeal to fill the vacancy through consultations with the SJB.

Rajapaksa succeeded SLFP’s Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who quit the post twice, the second occasion after beating SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at a secret vote.

Deputy Speaker Rajapaksha said that he had served as the Chairman of the Ambalanthota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1997. Subsequently, he became a member of the Southern Provincial Council.

Asked whether he was a resident of the Rajapaksas’ home base, Deputy Speaker said that he was from Pallerotta, Ambalantota. (SF)

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