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Ramanathan denies Devananda’s accusations, warns infighting within govt. may be exploited by enemies

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Jaffna District Development Council co-chairperson Angajan Ramanathan yesterday (10) denied accusations regarding his coordinating officers threatening the Jaffna-based public servants. Northern Province Governor Sarojini Manmatharajah Charles is the other co-chairperson of the Jaffna DDC.

SLFP MP Ramanathan, who is also the Deputy Chairman of Committees, emphasised that he had never resorted to threats.

SLFP MP Ramanathan said so when The Island sought an explanation regarding fellow Jaffna District lawmaker and Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda accusations directed at his coordinating officers.

Nelson Edirisinghe, Media Secretary to Minister Devananda in a statement issued on Tuesday (9) quoted EPDP leader Devananda as having said that public servants should properly discharge their responsibilities. Public servants shouldn’t give into dictates of politicians’ associates, Minister Devananda said, adding that public servants appreciated the stand taken by him.

Alleging that Jaffna District Development Council co-chairperson’s coordinating officers had threatened public servants on several occasions, Minister Devananda said that such conduct wouldn’t be tolerated. Demanding an immediate end to such practices, Minister Devananda assured those who took correct decisions would be protected.

The Fisheries Ministry statement also claimed that several Tamil lawmakers representing the Northern Province, including M.A. Sumanthiran, called for Devananda’s participation in Jaffna DDC proceedings.

Minister Devananda is the co-chairperson of the Kilinochchi DDC with Charles being the other, in her capacity as the Northern Province Governor.

Pointing out that EPDP leader Devananda had accused him of routinely bullying public servants; The Island asked lawmaker Ramanathan whether he accepted responsibility for the conduct of his coordinating officers. The Deputy Chairman of Committees said that the issue at hand was political. “Both of us represent the government though we entered Parliament from two different parties. We represent the Jaffna electoral district in spite of being co-chairpersons of Jaffna and Kilinochchi DDCs because the Jaffna electoral district consists of two administrative districts,” MP Ramanathan said.

Ramanathan first entered Parliament in 2015 when the UPFA accommodated him on its National List. Ramanathan successfully contested the Jaffna district on the SLFP ticket at the last general election in August 2020. He is the only SLFP MP in Parliament whereas the SLFP contested on the SLPP ticket and won 13 other seats.

The EPDP won two seats at the last general election.

Responding to another query, MP Ramanathan said that recently Minister Devananda wanted to organize an event for Samurdhi recipients in the Jaffna district. As Minister Devananda represented Kilinochchi DDC, he sought Jaffna DDC approval to conduct a programme in the Jaffna district, MP Ramanathan said.

Subsequently, Minister Devananda held his event at Nallur, the SLFPer said, alleging when he sought Kilinochchi DDC’s permission to conduct a similar event there he wasn’t permitted to do so.

Lawmaker Ramanathan said that a dispute between government members would be exploited by rival political parties. The last general election changed the political environment in the northern and eastern provinces, MP Ramanathan said, underscoring the pivotal importance in the government taking advantage of the ground situation to improve living standards of the people. “Unfortunately, various interested parties are causing unnecessary issues,” MP Ramanathan said.

The SLFP MP said that the country would have to do away with destructive communal politics. The significant national level victories achieved by the SLPP at the 2019 and 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections, respectively, should be strong platform for the government to go ahead with a countrywide development drive. Although the second Covid-19 eruption caused quite a disruption, the government could achieve a lot if petty party politics were discarded.

If those who had secured power at the 2013 Northern Provincial Council polls pursued a result-oriented strategy instead of playing politics, the Northern Province could have gained a lot, MP Ramanathan said. They squandered an opportunity to develop the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the wake of the end of the war in 2009, the MP said, urging all political parties to review their strategies.



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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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