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Prez-PM battle no excuse for intelligence failure – GL

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… ex-spy chief cited to prove futility of political partnerships

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Chief Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena’s testimony before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Easter Sunday carnage had shown why the President and the Prime Minister should not be elected from two different parties, SLPP Chairman, Prof. G.L. Peiris, told The Island.

 Prof. Peiris, who heads the SLPP National List said that former spy chief Jayawardena hadn’t shied away from pointing out how a dispute between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had placed the SIS in an extremely difficult situation at the onset of yahapalana administration in January 2015.

 The former External Affairs Minister was commenting on Jayawardena’s testimony on Monday (27).

Jayawardena, who had been in the staff of Director General, Intelligence the late Cyril Herath succeeded Senior DIG C.N. Wakista.

 Jayawardena, faulted for failure to thwart the Easter Sunday carnage by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) in Oct 2019 explained to PCoI how his outfit struggled to cope with UNP-SLFP coalition in the run-up to a spate of near simultaneous suicide bombings.

Prof. Peiris said that the breakaway UNP faction, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) readiness to serve a government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be examined against the backdrop of Jayawardena’s assertion.

 Having repeatedly warned of a dictatorship in case Gotabaya Rajapaksa won 2019 presidential election, its leader Sajith Premadasa on several occasions declared his readiness to serve as the Premier under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prof. Peiris said.

 The UNP couldn’t work with Maithripala Sirisena, in spite of him being installed in the Office of the President by the UNP. A devastating political crisis destabilised the much touted yahapalana administration within weeks after 2015 presidential poll. It would be silly even to think about President Gotabaya Rajapaksa having to invite the SJB leader to form the next government, Prof. Peiris said, warning the UNP and SJB to expect debilitating defeat at the Aug 5 presidential poll.

 Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris emphasized that whatever the political complications caused by what he called a disastrous arrangement at that time, the then SIS Chief couldn’t justify their failure to thwart the murderous Thowheed Jamaat project. There was no doubt the political leadership failed, the former minister said, adding that those who allowed the terror project to go ahead by negligence couldn’t solely blame it on the President-Premier battle.

 Describing the beleaguered ex-spy chief as a yahapalana insider, Prof. Peiris alleged that those who had served the previous government sought to side step the key issue.

 The issue at hand is why law enforcement authorities refrained from taking tangible measures in spite of having actionable intelligence from a friendly country, Prof. Peiris said.

 At the time Thowheed Jamaat struck Commander-in-Chief President Sirisena, in addition to defence he also held the law and order portfolio.

 Prof. Peiris said that political rifts couldn’t be allowed to jeopardize national security. Former SIS head’s testimony coupled with that of former presidential secretary P.B. Abeykoon’s exposure showed how the previous administration handled post-war national security, Prof. Peiris said.

 Terrorists could have achieved their objectives without much difficulty due to ‘security services’ playing politics, he said.

 Nilantha Jayawardena received appointment as SIS Chief in March 2015. At that time he was called by the then IGP N.K. Illankagoon to take over SIS, he was in charge of the Kankesanthurai Division in the Jaffna peninsula.

 Prof. Peiris said that the disastrous handling of security/intelligence apparatus leading to the Easter Sunday carnage exposed those who were at the helm of defence apparatus.

 Jayawardena received promotion to the rank of Senior DIG with effect from Feb 28, 2019, with the approval of the National Police Commission (NPC).

 In the wake of the 2019 presidential election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the first time in our history brought the SIS under a military officer. One-time Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) Brigadier Suresh Sallay was named new SIS Chief. Subsequently, he was promoted to the rank of Major General

 President Rajapaksa also named retired Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis as the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) in place of retired DIG Sisira Mendis.

 Intelligence veteran Maj. Gen. Kapila Hendavitharana served the CNI at the time of the 2015 government change. On the UNP’s request, President Sirisena appointed retired DIG Sisira Mendis as the CNI and Mendis was replaced soon after the Easter attacks.

 Maj. Gen. Hendavitharana told The Island that national intelligence services should present the correct ‘intelligence picture’ to relevant political and military authorities. The assertion that political crisis caused difficulties to the SIS in sharing available information with government partners could not be acceptable. Hendavitharana played a crucial role in the overall intelligence effort against the LTTE during the war before being named the first CNI.

 Hendavitharana said that the country paid a very heavy price for not taking threats posed by extremists/terrorists seriously.

 Nearly 275 persons perished in multiple blasts, over 400 suffered injuries.

 



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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