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Prez draws fire over Archaeology Chief’s shock resignation




President’s Office denies accusations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dissident SLPP MP Gevindu Cumaratunga yesterday (13) said President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Wickeremesinhe-Rajapaksa government owed an explanation regarding the resignation of Director General of the Department of Archeology Prof. Anura Manatunga under controversial circumstances.

The SLPP National List MP and leader of the Yuthukama civil society organisation insisted that the government had pressured Prof. Manatunga to quit as his stand on matters pertaining to archaeology quite clearly clashed with that of President Wickremesinghe.

The rebel SLPP MP said so when The Island sought his response to the sudden resignation of Prof. Manatunga who received the appointment as DG, Archeology, on 01 January, 2021, following the retirement of Dr. Senarath Dissanayake.

The Island raised the abrupt resignation with the Presidential Media Division (PMD) in the wake of MP Cumaratunga, and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-Law Udaya Gammanpila, pointing the finger at President Wickremesinghe. A senior spokesperson for PMD emphasized that the President’s Office didn’t demand Prof.

Manatunga’s resignation. “There is absolutely no basis for such accusations,” the official said.

Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayake Monday (12) night said Prof. Manatunga tendered his letter of resignation to the Ministry last Friday, 09 June.

Cumaratunga said that a letter written by Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the President to Prof. Manatunga, in January this year, is in the public domain. That letter revealed how President Wickremesinghe interfered in the Archeology Department, MP Cumaratunga said, while comparing the government’s response to the exposure of gold smuggling MP Ali Sabri Raheem and DG, Archaeology taking a stand in spite of heavy political pressure. “Why should DG, Archeology, consult the Cabinet of Ministers in performing his legitimate responsibilities,” MP Cumaratunga asked.

The MP found fault with President Wickremesinghe for giving into demands of Tamil members of Parliament representing the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Responding to another query, the MP said that the government obviously felt uncomfortable with Prof. Manatunga adhering to Archaeology acts and Ordinances in dealing with developments.

The nationalist MP said that MPs representing one community shouldn’t have been called for a meeting to discuss land-related issues and DG, Archeology, had been placed in a difficult situation. The President in his capacity as the leader of the UNP could consult TNA or any other political party but a national issue couldn’t be discussed with a select group of MPs, he said.

Cumaratunga said that the TNA wields immense power regardless of sharp drop in its parliamentary representation and splits within the grouping.

President Wickremesinghe could be in a mood to be generous to the TNA in view of the presidential election next year, MP Cumaratunga said, urging political party leaders not to seek electoral advantages at the expense of genuine post-war national reconciliation.


“Sri Lankan unity paves the way for rapid national development” – President




Sri Lanka’s Chief Scout, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his address at the 10th National Scout Jamboree held at the Koneswara Hindu Vidyalaya Stadium in Trincomalee this morning (21), underscored the potential of Sri Lankans to steer the nation towards rapid development and fortify its security for future generations through unified efforts.

The President highlighted that participation in the National Scout Jamboree transcends divisions of caste and religion. He articulated that unity among Sri Lankans, spanning from the North to the South and from Colombo to Trincomalee, is pivotal in accomplishing shared objectives.

President Wickremesinghe pledged his support for the expansion of the Scout Association, noting its role in nurturing responsible citizens essential for the country. Furthermore, he announced the plans to facilitate collaboration between the Scout Association and the Ministry of Technology, underscoring the importance of leveraging interactions across sectors for national development.



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SC: Anti-Terrorism Bill needs approval at referendum and 2/3 majority to become law



Certain sections inconsistent with Constitution

By Saman Indrajith

Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa informed Parliament yesterday that the Supreme Court (SC) has determined that some sections of the Anti-Terrorism Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution and, therefore, the Bill had to be passed by Parliament with a two-thirds majority and approved by the people at a referendum.

Rajapaksa said that the Supreme Court had determined that the Sections 3, 4, 40, 53, 70, 72 (1), 72 (2), 75 (3) and 83 (7) of the draft Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution.

The SC has determined that sections 3, 40, 53, 70, 72 (1), 75 (3) should be passed by Parliament with a two-thirds majority and approved by the people at a referendum if they are to become law.

Sections 4 and 72 (2) of the Bill have to be amended as per the SC determination.

Section 83 (7) requires passage by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

However, the SC had stated that it could be passed by a simple majority if the recommended amendments are accommodated, Rajapaksa said.

Opposition MPs say the Anti-Terrorism Bill is being introduced in an election year to repress Opposition parties.They said the proposed law is a threat to democracy itself.

“This Bill is being presented not at a time of terrorism prevailing in the country but during an election period. The Bill has not defined nor analysed what a terrorist is. Anyone can be arrested,” SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said.

The MP said both the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the controversial Online Safety law were meant to quell democracy.

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Harin’s claim that SL is part of India: Govt. says it is his personal opinion



Manusha accuses Wimal of having taken parts of Fernando’s speech out of context

By Saman Indrajith

Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara told NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament to refrain from taking chunks of others’ speeches out of context and misinterpreting them for political mileage.

The Minister said so following concerns raised by Weerawansa over a recent statement by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando on India-Sri Lanka relationships.

Weerawansa said that Minister Fernando had recently stated that Sri Lanka was a part of India. “Was it Minister Fernando’s personal opinion or the government’s official standpoint? Was it the opinion of the Cabinet?”

Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said what Minister Fernando had stated was the latter’s personal opinion.

Minister Nanayakkara: “If anyone has read the entire statement made by Minister Fernando this type of question would not have arisen. The Tourism Minister was referring to historical relationships between India and Sri Lanka to ask Indians to visit Sri Lanka.

A distorted version of the speech by Minister Fernando is being circulated on social media. Certain parts have been removed while some words have been introduced to this edited version. Ones should read the statement in its entirety to understand it. We have not discussed this in the Cabinet meeting” Minister Nanayakkara said.

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