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Now, SJB MP says she renounced British citizenship in 2015

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…received official SL passport as Ranminithenna Chairperson

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Dissident Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Dayana Gamage yesterday said that she had renounced her British citizenship in 2015 to launch her full time political career here. She insisted that she had obtained an official Sri Lankan passport in her capacity as the Chairperson of Ranminithenna Tele-Cinema village in 2017 during the UNP-led yahapalana administration.

The SJB National List MP said so when she was repeatedly accused of having entered parliament despite being a British national. Chamuditha Samarawickrema yesterday raised, during Salakuna programme on Hiru TV, the contentious issue of a British passport holder being in Parliament.

MP Gamage was among seven NL members appointed on the SJB list. The UNPer is the only newcomer to parliamentary politics.

Repeatedly asked whether she carried two passports, the MP said that she had received a British passport as her mother was British by birth. Responding to another query, Gamage said that as a British passport holder she had obtained a resident visa during 2005-2015 period. According to Gamage, the relinquishment of her British citizenship had enabled her to engage in Sri Lankan politics full-time.

Asked whether she had ever served as private secretary to one-time LTTE Eastern commander Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan aka Karuna Amman, a smiling Gamage told the interviewer he was referring to another woman. “I have nothing to do with Karuna,” Gamage said, strongly denying the accusation that she deliberately refrained from informing relevant authorities here regarding her decision to give up British citizenship.

The interviewer sought an explanation regarding her conduct on the basis of a complaint made by civil society activist Oshala Herath over the alleged use of passports issued by the UK and her gaining entry into parliament in violation of the Constitution, Gamage said that Herath had nothing better to do.

Denying all accusations, the MP recalled how Herath, a candidate at the 2020 general election had made an abortive bid to sabotage the SJB nominations by moving the Supreme Court.

Herath, who served as a member of President Maithripala Sirisena’s media team recently wrote to Director, CID regarding MP Gamage’s citizenship. Herath made available a copy of his complaints to Secretary to the President, AG and Director CID, in addition to the Chairman of the Election Commission.

Herath unsuccessfully contested the last general election on the UNP ticket from the Colombo District.

Asked why she had not obtained dual citizenship, MP Gamage said that she had felt no need to do so. She compared the high profile campaign carried out against her alleging that she was holding British citizenship, as well as her alleged involvement in the project to efforts to deprive SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa of the opportunity to contest 2019 presidential election.

Gamage said that she served as a Provincial Council member in 2014. Responding to questions as regards the documents required to prove her nationality, MP Gamage said that she was in possession of all such documents including the National Identity Card.

MP Gamage strongly defended her right to have voted for the 20th Amendment regardless of a decision taken by the SJB to oppose the new law. “My husband Senaka de Silva informed Mr Premadasa of my decision. I took this decision in consultation with my husband.” The MP dismissed SJB threat to deprive her of NL seat.

MP Gamage said that her husband had made it possible for the rebel UNP group led by the Deputy UNP leader Premadasa to contest the election by handing over his Ape Jathika Peramuna (AJP). The SJB secured 54 seats, including seven on the NL. Pointing out that many political parties had been sold for big amounts over the years, Samarawickrema asked the MP how much her husband had received and whether the NL slot, too, was part of the deal. Denying having received funds for the transferring of the ownership of the party, Gamage claimed that unlike others they had not benefited from that initiative.

“In fact, the NL slot was offered by Mr. Premadasa to my husband, one time Secretary to General Sarath Fonseka when the latter contested the 2010 presidential election as the common candidate.

Responding to another query, MP Gamage revealed that AJP had been registered by Mangala Samaraweera after he was sacked by the UPFA. Declaring that AJP no longer existed, MP Gamage said that both she and her husband handed over their resignation letters as Secretary and Deputy Chairman, respectively, to SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara about a week after she voted for the 20th Amendment.

In a wide ranging interview, MP Gamage revealed that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had planned to introduce a new piece of legislation similar to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in case General Sarath Fonseka won the 2010 presidential election. MP Gamage claimed that her husband as the Secretary to the war-winning Army Chief had advised him not to do so as whoever functioned as the President needed necessary executive powers.



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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials

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‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini

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By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289

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ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & G.de Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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