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Sirisena, who claimed he was very sick on day of attack managed to return home same night

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena had contacted the Personal Security Officer (PSO) of former President Maithripala Sirisena three times on the day of the Easter Sunday attacks, it was revealed, on Thursday night, at the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.

A Warrant Officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Anura Nishantha, who had manned the phone exchange at Sirisena’s official residence at Paget Road on April 21, 2019 revealed this at the PCoI.

Responding to the question raised by the Commissioners, Nishantha said that Sirisena and Jayawardena had regular telephone conversations. The witness added that the former President had never used an official personal mobile phone and if someone wanted to contact him they had to contact Sirisena’s PSO.

Sirisena had two PSOs and when he traveled overseas one of the PSOs would always accompanied him, Nishantha said. The witness said that PSOs had roaming facility on their mobile phones and those at the exchange unit at the Paget Road residence would contact the PSO with Sirisena.

Earlier it was revealed that a 159 second telephone conversation took place between Jayawardena and Sirisena or Sirisena’s PSO at 7.59 a.m. It was also revealed that around 20 telephone conversations took place between Sirisena and Jayawardena from April 4 to 21, 2019. April 04, 2019 was when Jayawardena had received a warning, from a foreign counterpart, of a possible terror attack. It was also revealed that a total of 221 telephone calls had taken place between Sirisena and Jayawardena from January to April 2019. Sirisena told the PCoI that he probably had not received all those phone calls.

The details of the calls were revealed when the former President was cross examined by President’s Counsel Shamil Perera, appearing for the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Perera asked Sirisena whether Jayewardena had given him a call at around 6.16 p.m. on 20 April. Sirisena said he was receiving treatment in a Singaporean hospital at that time and not even his personal security officers were able to approach him that day.

Perera then said that the telephone records clearly state that Sirisena had called the former SIS Director at around 7.59 am on April 21, 2019. This was before the Easter Sunday attacks. Sirisena said that he had first contacted Jayewardena only after the bombings.

The President’s Counsel told the Commission that despite Sirisena’s statement the phone records showed that Sirisena had made a large number of telephone calls on April 21 morning.

“I don’t know what is mentioned in this report but I was in the hospital on April 21morning. It was not possible for me to make phone calls while undergoing treatment. I came back to the hotel and then heard about the attacks,” Sirisena said.

Perera also said about seven telephone calls were exchanged between Sirisena and the SIS Director after the bombings. The attorney said that a 133 second telephone call had taken place between the former President and Jayawardena on 21 April at 8.58 am, a 184- second telephone call at 9.13 am, and a 688 second telephone call at 1.10 pm.

Perera also asked Sirisena how he made these calls if he was feeling extremely sick.

“I was still weak but this was a serious development. I made a series of calls and advised all, including the Prime Minister, the Inspector General of Police and the Tri- forces Commanders to take necessary action,” Sirisena said.

Perera also questioned how Sirisena returned to Sri Lanka on the same night if his medical condition was so grave. In response, the former President said that the relevant medical reports could be submitted to the Commission in secret.

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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