By Saman Indrajith
SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka on Wednesday questioned the feasibility of Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera’s plan to deploy the Civil Defence Force personnel to protect VIPs and to give compulsory military training to all above the age of 18 years.
Fonseka, participating in the adjournment debate in Parliament said: “We hear the Public Security Minister uttering various things these days. These are nothing but fairy tales. For example, he is proposing to give a six-month compulsory military training to all above the age of 18 years. That is not something possible because the government has no funds for that. Suppose we put this into practice. Then you have to give training to persons between 18 and 26 years. It is difficult for a person above the age of 26 years to undergo military training. There are around four million persons in that age group. The cost of giving military training to a single person for six months is Rs 750,000. Suppose we train 100,000 persons then the cost would be 75 billion rupees. Do you have funds for such an exercise? Are you talking of things that can be done?”
The Field Marshal said: “The Minister says that CSD personnel would be deployed for the close protection of the ministers and MPs. He proposes that the Ministerial Security Division personnel would be withdrawn from the VIP security details and the CSD personnel be deployed in their place. Around 98 percent of CSD personnel are those from the villages who had been serving as home guards. The home guards were given shotguns. They were mostly farmers. They were also allowed to keep those guns at their homes during the war. They were Sirisenas and Gnanapalas from the villages. Even grandmothers in some villages had shotguns. It was Kamalas and Nandawathies who were given the shotguns in that manner to protect villages. I like to ask my fellow MPs whether you would face the risk of handing over the protection of your lives to people of such calibre. It is not easy to train a person as a soldier. It is a very complex and difficult task. You cannot train every person to become a soldier. You have to select persons with special qualifications and physical abilities to become a soldier.”
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.
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.”
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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