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Police chasing some vital leads into Dutch monk’s death to ‘clear some doubts’



by Suresh Perera

Police investigators are pursuing some important leads to figure out the circumstances which led to the death of the Dutch monk at the Dodanduwa Polgasduwa forest monastery, a high-ranking police official in the region said on Friday.

“Though preliminary investigations suggest the possibility of suicide, we are working on some vital clues to clear some doubts that have emerged”, says Senior DIG Rohan Silva in charge of the Southern province.

“We are probing the case with an open mind”, he noted, while declining to divulge more information on the leads police sleuths are chasing as it will hamper ongoing investigations.

The body of Ven. Olande Jinawansa thera was found floating in the Ratgama lagoon on December 8. At the time the body was fished out, two stones were found tied to the 59-year-old monk’s legs.

The police and the STF searched the island, where the monastery is situated, plus an adjoining island, but nothing suspicious was found, the senior police official said.

Asked about social media reports that the monk had opposed the construction of a hotel in a near-by island as it disturbed the serenity of the monastery, and this may have led to his untimely death, he explained that there was no such hotel being built in the locality.

The Dutch monk was, however, not in favor of a Dharma Salawa that was being built within the precincts of the monastery as he believed there was no need for such a facility as devotees in large numbers did not visit the Aramaya, the senior DIG Silva said.

“He had protested that the din caused by the construction disturbed the meditating monks. Apart from that, there was no hotel being built in the vicinity for the bhikku to have opposed it”, he added.

Earlier, there was a move to build a bridge to link the island but the idea was dropped as it didn’t find favor with the monks at the monastery, he further said.

“We also inspected the monk’s kutiya (small hut), where he meditated, but there was nothing amiss”, he continued.

The Government Analyst visited the scene and also examined the knots on the rope with which the stones were found tied to the monk’s legs.

The autopsy revealed that there was no water or sand in the prelate’s lungs, which indicated that he had been alive at the time he was in the lagoon. This raised the possibility of the monk taking his own life, he said.

An open verdict was returned at the magisterial inquiry into his death.

Senior DIG Silva said that body parts have been sent to the Government Analyst for examination to ascertain, amongst other factors, whether the monk was poisoned.

He said the Dutch monk, who settled in Sri Lanka 12 years ago, was basically a loner. He kept to himself and went on pindapatha alone. As a lover of animals, he set aside a part of the alms he received to feed them. He even reared a young injured animal in his Kutiya.

Asked whether any arrests have been made or are imminent, the senior police official replied, “it depends on the outcome of the continuing investigations. We need to clear some existing doubts surrounding the prelate’s death”.

Meanwhile, a close associate, who now lives in New Zealand, said the Dutch monk was residing in northern Thailand and left for Sri Lanka in 2008.

“I was very close to Ven. Tone Jinawamso thera, as he was known there”, he said.

Requesting anonymity, he told The Sunday Island from Auckland that as a well established monk, who had even translated a Thai Buddhist publication into English, he didn’t see any reason why the prelate should commit suicide.

“As a bhikku very close to me, I can assure you that he was content with the simple, uncomplicated life he led and would have never contemplated suicide”, he asserted.

The Dutch monk’s death is suspicious, he claimed. “The police should get to the bottom of it”.

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LIOC seeks to expand operations



by Ifham Nizam

Power and Energey Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday revealed that Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) had asked for permission to set up 50 new filling stations in the country and take over a certain number of petrol sheds currenlty under the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). The government had asked the LIOC to increases the supply of fuel, in case Sri Lanka agreed to the Indian proposal,Wijesekera added.

Sri Lanka was facing daunting challenges as regards fuel distribution and it might not be able to get rid of fuel queues anytime soon, Minister Wijesekera said.Speaking to journalists yesterday, in Colombo, Wijesekera said that plans were underway to introduce a token system for fuel dispensation.He said the new scheme could come into effect from today (27) and the Police, and the armed forces will help implement it.

He also said that four separate groups from the Ministry were working on petrol, diesel, crude / furnace oil, and jet fuel imports. “We asked Lanka IOC to increase fuel supply and CEYPETCO to purchase diesel from them. But they asked for a price revision before that according to the pricing formula. That’s why we revised the price in a situation where there was no fuel in the country.”

The moves came as the government increased fuel prices with effect from the wee hours of Sunday wee hours. Petrol (Octane 92) now sells at Rs 470 per litre and Octane 95 at Rs. 550 per litre. Auto Diesel sells at Rs 460 per litre and Super Diesel at Rs 520 per litre.The Minister said they were working on 130-plus proposals for fuel delivery to Sri Lanka.

“USD 500 million is something that Sri Lanka cannot afford at this juncture. Therefore, consumption will have to be slashed, and fuel for public transport prioritized. Two ministers will fly to Russia today for discussions on fuel and related matters,” he said.The Minister said that bunker suppliers had been granted permission to deliver fuel for industries that deal in US currency.

He also said that overseas fuel companies based in countries that produce fuel, would be invited to set up business in Sri Lanka, as the CPC alone could not import fuel.

He said the CPC would become a more service-provider-based institution to facilitate fuel imports, and it had 9000 MT of diesel and the IOC 10,000 MT while the CPC had about 6000 MT of Petrol and the IOC about 8000 MT, of petrol.He said the IOC was issuing about 300 MT a day and their next shipment was due only after 10 July.

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Economic crisis: Govt. MPs slam Cabinet, Finance Ministry



‘How come SLPA paid to Treasury just a faction of massive revenue earned in six years?’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

T wo SLPP MPs, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Madura Vithanage have, at different forums, lashed out at the government for the rapidly deteriorating status of the public sector finance. Godahewa has warned that economic recovery will not be possible unless the government restructured nearly 400 loss making public sector enterprises or at least take tangible measures to cut down on recurring losses.The former Media Minister, who represents the Gampaha District, said so addressing a group of Gampaha-based professionals and entrepreneurs recently.

Alleging that the failure, on the part of the government to establish an all-party government, contributed to the further deterioration of the situation, Dr. Godahewa emphasized the urgent need to curb, what he called, unbridled corruption as part of the efforts to revive the economy.The Gampaha District MP asked whether the current dispensation has addressed the issues at hand with a sense of responsibility.The MP questioned the composition of the Cabinet-of-Ministers, especially the appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Premier, in spite of his party having just one seat in Parliament, against the backdrop of even the government parliamentary group not being properly represented.

Dr. Godahewa warned that SriLankan Airlines, the Ceylon Electricity Board, and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) would deny the country an opportunity to recover as they remained a massive burden on taxpayers. The One-time top level private sector executive said that the Cabinet-of-Ministers lacked the strength to take crucial decisions. But, the situation would have been different if the Cabinet-of-Ministers included representatives of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and other political parties. Dr. Godahewa declared that the government couldn’t take decisions on sensitive matters as long as it didn’t command political power.

Meanwhile, Colombo District MP Vithanage has questioned the responsibility, on the part of the Finance Ministry, in the overall deterioration of public sector finance with the focus on the handling of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) at a recent meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). The lawmaker alleged that the Finance Ministry had conveniently failed to make required intervention on behalf of the government, thereby deprived the opportunity to utilize SLPA profits.

Prof. Charitha Herath chaired the meeting. Auditor General W.P.C. Wickramaratne attended the meeting whereas Ports and Shipping Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra led the SLPA team.Both MP Vithanage and Prof. Herath asserted that the Finance Ministry should have intervened on behalf of the people. The COPE examined how the SLPA continuously refrained from paying the Treasury at least the minimum amounts in spite of receiving massive profits over the years.  The Director General Public Enterprises, who has received that position recently, struggled to explain their failure to take up the non-transfer of SLPA profits to the Treasury. The COPE was told of Rs 69,686 mn revenue earned from 2016 to 2021, only 600 mn had been transferred to the Treasury.

Lawmaker Vithanage yesterday told The Island that the recent examinations of various enterprises and the Central Bank, by the COPE, as well as other watchdog committees, disclosed how the Finance Ministry, Central Bank and the Monetary Board contributed to the developing crisis. MP Vithanage pointed out even after the Covid-19 eruption devastated the economy, the SLPA had been able to withhold funds required by the Treasury for want of Finance Ministry intervention.Responding to queries, MP Vithanage said that the Parliament should act without further delay to ensure the Finance Ministry and the Monetary Board acted responsibly.

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Ceylon Chamber distributes dry rations



The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Diwiyata Diriyak’ social initiative provided emergency relief, in the form of 10,000 essential dry ration packs, to vulnerable families in the Kegalle and Colombo districts.

A press release from the Chamber said: Mobilising the Chamber’s Membership to assist low-income families that are struggling to survive the current crisis, the initial distribution, which took place at the Kegalle District Secretariat, was the first phase of Diwiyata Diriyak, which aims to provide 5,000 relief packs.

Containing essential items such as rice, lentils, sugar, wheat flour, canned fish, etc., costing Rs. 5,000 each, vulnerable families, identified by the respective District Secretaries in the Warakapola, Galigamuwa, Mawanella and Rambukkana DS divisions, were among the initial beneficiaries.

CEO and Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber Manjula de Silva said that the Chamber was committed to supporting the public during this immensely challenging time, and would always strive to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.

Home Garden Starter Packs, sponsored by the CIC Group, were also distributed among the families, in order to assist and encourage home garden cultivation as a viable option to address the rapidly rising costs and predicted shortage of food items, the release said.

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