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Sajith’s leave application for Ranjan rejected by Speaker



By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena turned down an attempt by Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa to move a motion seeking parliamentary approval for leave of absence for Ratnapura District SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake serving a prison sentence after being convicted by the Supreme Court.

 Opposition Leader Premadasa accused the Speaker of being biased and said that the latter had rejected the orders of the authorities to bring Ranjan Ramanayake to Parliament.

He said that it was not clear why the Speaker had not allowed Ramanayake to attend Parliament.

Opposition Leader Premadasa said the Speaker’s actions were against Parliament traditions and accused him of turning a blind eye to the issue, despite the Court instructing Parliament to refrain from taking any action with regard to MP Ramanayake’s Parliament seat.

Premadasa said that according to the court order, the Speaker had to allow MP Ramanayake to attend Parliament.

The Opposition leader said the Speaker had obstructed the party from submitting the motion which was consistent with Standing Orders.

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Opposition leader’s questions could not be raised during yesterday’s session as it had not been included in the Parliament Order Paper.

Minister Gunawardena pointed out that MP Premadasa was raising questions on other matters, at a time when the debate on the report on the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks was about to commence.

Minister Gunawardena said that it might be an attempt by the Opposition to sabotage the debate on the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.

Speaker Abeywardena said the matter raised by the MP was currently before courts.

He said it was believed that the Supreme Court would issue its verdict on MP Ramanayake’s Parliament seat and requested the Opposition leader to wait until that time. He added that there was time to resolve the issue as the time frame to decide on MP Ramanayake’s Parliament seat was expected to fall vacant in April.

He said that as the Speaker he was unable to make a decision in that regard, as MP Ramanayake had been convicted by the Supreme Court and sentenced to jail without bail.

Speaker Abeywardena said there was a legal issue as regards allowing an imprisoned MP without clearance for bail to attend Parliament proceedings. MP Premalal Jayasekara, convicted of murder, had been allowed to attend Parliament. MP Jayasekera was a remand prisoner, while MP Ramanayake was a convict serving a jail term, he said.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



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



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



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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