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SJB accused of playing race card for cheap political mileage



By Saman Indrajith

The SJB was accused of playing the race card for narrow political gains, in Parliament, yesterday.

 Justice Minister Ali Sabry said that SJB Badulla District MP Chaminda Wijesiri had attempted to make use of sub judice issue of Dr Safi Sahabdeen of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital allegedly performing sterilisation surgeries on Sinhala women to score political points at the cost of raising racism in Parliament.

A question by MP Wijesiri had been listed in yesterday’s Order Paper. He has demanded to know from the government the names and addresses of the lawyers who appeared in courts on behalf of Dr Safi and the courses of action taken against that doctor so far and the course of action that would be taken to ensure the aggrieved mothers would get justice.

Asked whether the Minister was aware of the allegations against Dr Safi, Minister Sabry said that he had come to know of the issue from the media.

Asked to inform the House of the names and addresses of the lawyers appearing for Doctor Safi, Minister Sabry said that the matter was beyond his ministry’s purview. It was a matter up to the accused doctor to decide on the lawyers to represent him. There were 795,000 cases pending before the courts and the Justice Ministry did not maintain records of the names of counsel appearing in each of those cases. The Ministry was supporting only the judicial system and providing infrastructural support for the maintenance of the system. Neither the Justice Minister nor the ministry had powers to intervene in affairs of cases being heard in the courts, the minister said.

MP Wijesiri: I did not ask about the case and its proceedings. I just asked for the names and addresses of the lawyers appearing for Dr Safi. I’ve been in Parliament for long enough to understand what sub judice is. If not from the Ministry of Justice from whom we could get the answer. On the other hand, the issue related to Dr Safi that created a public outcry, which was one of the main reasons why the SLPP won the last general election.

 Minister Sabry: If the MP needs to find out such details he could get them by asking for a certified copy from the particular court after paying the due amount for that. We do not get involved in cases as the way the former government did. We do not give calls to judges the way it did. We also do not create courts targeting specific persons.

MP Wijesiri: Now, you talk big. Let’s see where you would be once the 20th Amendment is passed.

Minister Sabry: You are asking about a case pending before a court. How could I give a response to you?

 MP Wijesiri: Let’s see what will be the future of suit-wearing President’s Counsel when the 20th Amendment becomes the law.

 Minister Sabry: Do I need to dress like you. I dress the way I like. My dress has nothing to do with this. Do not play the race card. You are instigating racism. See the content of your question. This is motivated by racism. Your party talks of co-existence while promoting racism here.

 SJB MP Thushara Indunil: The way the minister responded is not acceptable. He acts like a thug.

 SLPP MP Mohamed Muzammil: As per the Standing Orders a question could not be raised on the matter pertaining to a case pending before the court. That is against Standing Orders. How this question entered into the order paper is questionable.

 Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: Justice Minister has come in a proper dress. It is wrong to denigrate him because he is wearing a tie and coat. What is wrong with dressing like that?

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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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