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‘Save national assets from very same politicians who came to power promising to protect them’

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By Sirimantha Ratnasekera

It was so unfortunate that people had to take to the street to save the national assets from the very same politicians who came to power promising to protect them, Convener  of the National Movement to protect state assets Ven, Ulapane Sumangala Thera said yesterday.

 Addressing the media at the Dharmayathanaya in Narahenpita, Ven Sumangala said that during the Yahapalana regime there had been many patriotic forces including leading bhikkhus, protesting against the sale of national assets to foreign companies. “We call on the very same forces to come out again because the threat persists. The incumbent government is selling off national assets to foreign companies.”

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour pledged that national assets would not be sold off by a government under his presidency. But now that promise has been reneged on. The incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, while campaigning for the general election, vowed that under an SLPP government action would be taken to acquire all national assets that had been sold off by the yahapalana regime. Now, that promise has also been broken.

“The East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port is being sold to an Indian company by the name of Adani. This sale is taking place in the guise of promoting investments. Ports employees staged an protest campaign prior to the general election. PM Rajapaksa summoned the union leaders to Medamulana and promised them that the terminal would not be sold if an SLPP government was formed.”

The Thera said that the SLPP after forming the government had said that it was the Sinhala Buddhists who had voted for it. “Such a government should have upheld Buddhist values, but instead it has turned the country into the butchery of Asia. A meat processing factory is being set up in the Katunayake free trade zone to supply 10 percent of meat in the world market. Prisoners are massacred inside jails. Government leaders and ministers who were sworn in near the Ruwanweliseya and the Dalada Maligawa have no regard for the tenets of Buddhism. One of the ministers has visited Ruwanweliseya under the influence of liquor. This shows their true nature and people should realise that their patriotism is only a façade.”

The Thera said that a foreign bhikku had died here recently and his death was suspicious. “It is sad that none of the bhikkhus come forward asking for an investigation into that death. Many bhikkhus who give voice cuts calling for the release of VIP prisoners are silent when there is a danger to the sasana.”

 Lawyers Maithri Gunaratne, PC and Gunaratne Wanninayake also addressed the media.



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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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