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Only two female MPs out of 12 invited turn up at International Women’s Day celebrations

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Text and pix BY PRIYAN DE SILVA 

Speaking at the International Women’s Day Celebrations, organised by the female councillors of the Matale District Local Government institutions, SJB MP and member of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Rohini Kavirathne, said that one of her male counterparts in Parliament had called for a boycott of the ceremony held at Pallepola in Matale on Sunday (07). 

Out of 12 members of the Women Parliamentarians Caucus invited to the event only Manjula Dissanayaka MP and Rohini Kavirathne MP attended the event. Sita Arambepola MP and Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle Chairperson of the Caucus addressed the event via zoom.  

The theme for Sunday’s event was ‘Campaign to eliminate sexual harassment in the world of work ‘and was held in commemoration of national heroine Ehelepola Kumarihamy. It was recalled that throughout the country’s history from the times of Princess Kuveni to Ehelepola Kumarihamy  and even to the present day females had not been treated equally.

 MP Manjula Dissanayaka said that even though 52% of Sri Lanka’s population was women there were only 12 female MPs among the 225 Members of Parliament. She added that proportionately the figure should be at least 112 female MPs and hoped that the number would increase at future elections.

 Chief Incumbent of the Ehelepola Purana Viharaya Ven Palawahthay Sonuththara Thera said that it might have been more beneficial to the country if all 225 members of Parliament had been females.

 Delivering the keynote speech at the event which was slotted before the vote of thanks, National Coordinator of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence Manjula Gajanayaka said that although there were 1,926 female councillors in local government bodies due to the 25% quota granted to females, females were underrepresented in Parliament.

Out of the 2,899 MPs elected between 1947 and 2021, only 133 were females , he said, noting that only a handful of females had been appointed to decision-making positions in Parliament as well as other political institutions. Citing the Election Commission of Sri Lanka as an example, the Election Monitor said that no females had been appointed as members of the Election Commission ever.

Gajanayake pointed out that there were no allegations of corruption levelled against females appointed as MPs and councillors of LG institutions but added that those females had no opportunity to stand against corruption that took place in their institutions.

 Irrespective of the call for a boycott, a considerable number of female representatives of local government bodies in the Matale District together with the Mayor of Dambulla and Chairman of the Pallepola Pradeshiya Sabha attended the event.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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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.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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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.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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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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