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Maithripala issues ominous warning to govt.‘2/3 majority won’t guarantee stability’

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLFP leader and former President Maithripala Sirisena, MP, has warned the SLPP-led government that the support of coalition members shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Sirisena has warned of consequences of the SLPP’s current attitude towards its constituent partners, which he said, could even break it up.

The former President issued the warning less than a week after the presentation of Budget 2022.

The SLPP parliamentary group comprises 145 members with the SLFP accounting for 14 members. The SLPP has 117 members.

The SLPP has reached an understanding with several MPs elected on the Samagi Jana Balavegaya ticket.

In an interview with ‘Siyatha’ telecast live on 17 Nov. on the eve of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa completing two years in office, Sirisena said the fate of the previous governments which suffered defeat in spite of having 2/3 majority, could befall the incumbent administration, too, unless it coexisted with other parties in the ruling coalition. The SLFP leader said that the parliamentary strength was no guarantee stability.

The former President said the SLPP’s knee-jerk response to controversial issues and strained relations among partners was not acceptable.

‘Siyatha’ anchor Udeshan Idemegedara discussed a range of issues including the strained relations between the SLPP and its constituents, ongoing farmers’ protests, an unprecedented dispute with China over the rejection of a consignment of carbonic fertiliser, Treasury bond scams as well as sabotaging of the China-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital in Polonnaruwa, built with a Chinese grant of $ 60 million.

Lawmaker Sirisena called the failure on the part of the current dispensation to fully operationalize the Chinese gift despicable.

The hospital specialises in treating kidney ailments, a widely prevalent and recurring concern in the region, especially among farmers. MP Sirisena questioned the rationale in depriving those diagnosed with a kidney disorder medical experts have identified as Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu), a condition for which causal factors remain unknown.

However, the much debated Easter Sunday carnage was not discussed at all in spite of the then President being named by a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) appointed by himself in late 2019. The National Thowheed Jamaat (BTJ) carried out multiple suicide attacks on April 21, 2019.

The SLPP’s stand that those who were uncomfortable with its policies could walk out of the government was nothing but a recipe for disaster, MP Sirisena said.

The SLFP has thrown its weight behind some SLPP constituents including the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) campaigning against a controversial energy deal with the US-based New Fortress Energy.

The ex-President indicated that the SLFP wouldn’t be hasty in response to the developing situation though there were calls for the party to quit the government and go it alone at whatever the next election. The long delayed Provincial Council polls are on the cards though no date has been fixed yet in the absence of consensus on how the polling should take place. The parliamentary and presidential elections are three years away.

Some of those who had adopted a tough posture towards smaller parties obviously didn’t realize ground realities, MP Sirisena said, pointing out President Mahinda Rajapaksa led administration collapsed in 2015 though it obtained a 2/3 majority at 2010 parliamentary election. The 2/3 majority enjoyed by the incumbent government had given the incumbent government a false sense of security, MP Sirisena warned. The SLFP leader attributed the current turmoil to the pathetic failure on the part of SLPP leadership to examine debilitating setbacks suffered by previous governments.

Responding to another query, a smiling former President acknowledged that the SLPP was not different from the SLFP at that time he quit the then Mahinda Rajapaksa led government in late 2014. “Twenty nine MPs followed me,” lawmaker Sirisena declared, asserting that the SLPP leadership seemed to be either reluctant or averse to required changes in political strategy.

The former President blamed the UNP for doing away with Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s economic as well as foreign policies. “If successive governments followed the Bandaranaike policies, the country wouldn’t have been in current predicament today.”

MP Sirisena said that since President JRJ opened up the national economy following the 1977 general election, successive governments badly mismanaged the economy and squandered foreign exchange.

Declaring that during his tenure as the President, Sri Lanka earned the respect and admiration of the international community for pursuing policies acceptable to them, lawmaker Sirisena warned that the country couldn’t overcome current challenges without the backing of the international community.

MP Sirisena declared that not even China and the United States could overcome present-day challenges without international support. However, the current dispensation seemed to be blind to external challenges and what needed to be done.

Responding to another probing query, the former President stressed that the international community wouldn’t help a country without taking into consideration major issues such as fundamental rights, corruption and media freedom. Referring to recent talks between Chinese and US leaders in the wake of an extremely dicey situation over possible Chinese military threat directed at Taiwan, the MP said that the international reaction to a particular situation would depend on the concerned country’s leaders.

The SLFP leader strongly criticized the top SLPP leadership for causing an utterly chaotic situation and an unprecedented tragedy by banning agro-chemicals overnight. Having realized the government lacked proper strategy to implement the transfer from agro-chemicals to carbonic fertilizer, MP Sirisena had offered to share his experience with those in charge of the project. The former President said that he called his successor and offered help and soon received a call from Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage requesting his involvement. The MP said that he never received an invitation.

He urged the government to explain the situation at least before the next Yala season as now Maha season was underway. The SLFP leader pointed out that the resignation of the Agriculture Secretary as well as some other senior officials in that sector underscored the simmering crisis.



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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