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Public Security Minister: Some Opposition politicians bent of scuttling Easter Sunday carnage probe

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by Saman
Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena might permit MP Rishad Bathiudeen to attend Parliament; the latter and several others are being held on a 90-day detention order in connection with the Easter Sunday terror attacks investigations, but that might have serious repercussions for the country’s security, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Sarath Weerasekera warns.

In an interview with The Island, the retired top Navy officer said that the previous week, he, in his capacity as Minister of Public Security, had requested the Speaker not to override the detention order made under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. “I have nothing personal in this matter. It’s my duty to warn of any impediment to the ongoing investigations. He is being held on detention orders under the PTA. If he makes any statements, it may have an impact on the investigations. Such statements can harm the investigation and may allow other persons under investigation to evade arrests. Therefore, I am requesting the Speaker not to allow anyone held under the PTA to be allowed into Parliament until the investigations are concluded. However, I came to know from the media that the Speaker has decided to allow Bathiudeen to attend Parliament. The Speaker is doing so, making use of provisions of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act. There is another argument that Bathiudeen is only a suspect until proven guilty, he has a right to attend Parliament. However, overruling a PTA detention order amounts to the legislature undermining the Executive. The arrest and detention order are executive actions.”

“Allowing Bathiudeen to attend Parliament at this juncture will seriously jeopardise the ongoing investigations. The law can permit it but that does not mean that there wouldn’t be unlawful repercussions resulting from  such action.

 “There are some elements in the Opposition bent on sabotaging the investigations so that they can get away with their crimes. I issued a warning to this effect in Parliament.”

 

Fight against crime

Minister Weerasekera said that the government had launched a campaign to rid the country of fear of criminals. “There is no place in a civilized society for murderers, rapists, extortionists, paedophiles and other such characters. Our duty is to protect the law-abiding citizens. We have defeated the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world. So, we consider ourself equal to the task of combating crime. It is now up to the under underworld figures to surrender to the police or face the consequences. In addition to other measures, we are also in the process of amending the laws to make child abuse and harassment against women grave crimes. We are preventing narcotics coming into this country. They are coming via sea mainly from Pakistan and Iran. We are an island nation so it is easy for anyone to get into a fishing craft and reach some big ships nearby and get the drugs unloaded to their vessels to bring them ashore. That disadvantage is there but even at this moment we are speaking, special operations are underway against drug smugglers. We are also planning to rehabilitate addicts instead of jailing. We have found that 40 percent of criminals are drug addicts. Addicts should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. They must not be kept with other prisoners.”

 

Memories of war

Rear Admiral Weerasekera recalled how he volunteered to lead a rescue mission to land Army commandos in LTTE controlled Pooneryin in broad daylight with minimum casualties and to rescue some 400 soldiers surrounded by the LTTE – a mission that earned him the Rana Sura medal.

“I also recall my removal from the Eastern Command and being brought to Colombo for defying the LTTE in Trincomalee after they bombed a Buddha statue,” he said.

Following the UNF government’s signing of the peace accord with the LTTE, the terrorists were given full freedom to enter any Army and Navy camp, but Admiral Weerasekera never allowed LTTE to enter Mandativu Island when he was the Northern Commander. He also never allowed LTTE cadres to come in, wearing the cyanide capsule. Soon, he was branded an “anti-peace element. “In 2003, I was the Commander Eastern Naval Area and the peace process was in progress in favour of the LTTE. The Sinhalese in Trinco wanted to replace a small Buddha statue in the town with a large one to mark the Vesak Day, but the LTTE protested and called a hartal. All shops and fuel stations were closed and public transport was stopped. They hurled grenades at the Buddha statue. I was in charge of the sea. The army and the police could not act because they had been ordered not to confront the LTTE. I waited for three days to see whether the ground forces would do something. On the third day I, on my own initiative, took charge of the situation and deployed Navy personnel in the town placed guards around the statue challenging the LTTE to come out. None came and owners opened their shops and buses started to operate and people plied their trades. The following day, at the demand of the LTTE, the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga removed me from the Eastern Naval Commander post, and brought me to Colombo.”

 

ISIS threat

Rear Admiral said the public should remain vigilant as the ISIS threat was still there. “This is the biggest threat against national security at the moment. The fight with the LTTE was easy for it was not hard to identify the enemy. Here in this case, we are fighting with an ideology.



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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