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SJB lawmaker claims 19 A architects sought political asylum

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… Jayampathy denies having fled

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former lawmaker and constitutional affairs expert Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne yesterday (28) denied having fled the country following the change of government. Wickramaratne said that he had not received any threats from anyone over his involvement in the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

 One-time LSSP stalwart said so when The Island sought his response to a recent claim by Samagi Jana Balavegaya lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne that he had fled the country and was granted political asylum in Switzerland.

Dr. Wickramaratne said he was abroad over some consultancy work.

“Then, I got an opportunity to conduct research on a comparative basis which I am using to work on the third edition of my PhD thesis ‘Fundamental Rights in Sri Lanka’.  Over the past few years, I was asked by judges, lawyers and academics to revise it. The second edition was in 2006 and a revised edition has been long overdue.”

 Dr. Wickramaratne said that he would definitely be back once he finished the assignment.

The LSSPer turned UNP MP in the last parliament functioned as the constitutional affairs advisor to then President Maithripala Sirisena before being accommodated on the UNP National List following the 2015 general election in terms of the agreement between the LSSP and the ruling party.

 Dr. Wickramaratne quit his seat in January 2020 to take up an overseas assignment.

Addressing a public gathering at Wilgamuwa on Tuesday (25), Kaviratne alleged that architects of the 19th Amendment, Dr. Wickramaratne and J.C. Weliamuna, PC, who had been Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner at the time of the change of government had become political refugees in Switzerland and Australia, respectively.

As Weliamuna is yet to return in spite of being recalled, The Island raised the issue with the Foreign Ministry whether the government took it up with Australia and whether the envoy and his family had sought political asylum there. The Foreign Ministry has sent us the following response: “The Foreign Ministry is presently unaware whether the former High Commissioner and his family have received political asylum in Australia. He was a non-career diplomat and his services were terminated on 31.12.2019. His stay in Australia after termination of service, is not facilitated by the Government of Sri Lanka and once the diplomatic passport is surrendered the Ministry had no reason to take up the matter with the Australian authorities.”

 Lawmaker Kaviratne alleged that if the new government succeeded in abolishing the 19th Amendment, the entire country would achieve refugee status overnight.

 Kaviratne, who had been in the previous parliament that overwhelmingly voted for the 19th Amendment said that the abolition of the people-friendly law would fast-track intended authoritarian administration. She explained how the enactment of the 19th Amendment at the onset of the yahapalana administration transformed the country. Declaring that those who fought for democratic rights of the people couldn’t be deprived of their freedom, the lawmaker empahsised the responsibility on the part of the Opposition to oppose government project.

 At the onset of her hard hitting speech, Kaviratne vowed that progressive of lawmakers wouldn’t give dictatorial powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the expense of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa by doing away with the 19th Amendment. The lawmaker explained how the 19th Amendment ended dictatorial power to dissolve parliament within one year after the first sitting. Now Justice Minister Ali Sabry was on record as having said that the law would be amended to enable the President to dissolve parliament when he wanted to so, Kaviratne said.

 Kaviratne, who switched allegiance to Sajith Premadasa having represented the UNP in the parliament, said that the SJB would fight both in and outside parliament to protect the 19th Amendment.

 She emphasized that contrary to reports, the SLPP never secured a two-thirds majority at the recently concluded general election and they wouldn’t allow reversing democratic gains made during the previous administration.

 The lawmaker alleged that the government was seeking to deprive the public of basic rights. The abolition of the 19th Amendment would be the beginning of that despicable operation.

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Udaya questions why CPC prevented from entering LPG market

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Minister Gammanpila at the abandoned Sapugaskanda facility

…reveals Rs 37 mn loss suffered during Asantha’s tenure as Chairman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila recently alleged that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had suffered Rs 37 mn loss due to an abortive bid made by the state enterprise to enter the LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in 2008.

Lawmaker Gammanpila, who is also the leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, said that the CPC had made the attempt in violation of an agreement with Shell and Laugfs Gas to supply its entire output of LPG from the Sapugaskanda refinery to the above mentioned companies.

The Minister said so after inspecting an abandoned gas filling facility at the CPC facility at Sapugaskanda. The visit took place, on Thursday (24), after a three-member committee headed by the Energy Ministry’s head of Internal Audit D. P. S. J. Kumara inquired into the failed operation.

The CPC undertook the project during former national cricketer Ashantha de Mel’s tenure as the CPC Chairman. A. H. M. Fowzie had been the minister in charge of the subject.

The Minister called for a report when the media revealed that the facility had been abandoned a decade back.

Gammanpila vowed to reveal the person who had caused losses to the CPC, having misled its Board of Directors as regards the viability of the project.

The PHU leader requested state enterprise Litro Gas to explore the possibility of accommodating the facility in its current production setup. The minister described the facility installed at Sapugaskanda as technologically outdated even at the time 2008 administration acquired it.

When the CPC made an attempt to enter the LPG market, Laugfs successfully moved the Supreme Court against it. The CPC abandoned the facility following the Supreme Court directive.

The Energy Minister questioned how the CPC had been prevented from entering the gas market. Underscoring the importance of market competition, the lawmaker said that the Energy Ministry intended to inquire into how the CPC reached an understanding with competitors that prevented the state enterprise from entering the LPG market. The minister said that he would examine the obstacles placed before the CPC in entering the market without undermining Litro.

Declaring that Sri Lanka had substantial natural gas deposits in the Mannar basin, the Energy Minister said that the government intended to enter the gas market. Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that a new enterprise would be established under the CPC to provide healthy competition.

Addressing the post-Cabinet media briefing on Sept. 10, co-Cabinet spokesperson Gammanpila said that Surath Ovitigama had been named the Director-General of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat and Saliya Wickramasuriya had been appointed advisor.

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Saumya Liyanage removed from posts of Dean and Professor 

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From M.A. Kaleel, Kalmunai Corr. 

Professor Saumya Liyanage of the University of Visual and Performing Arts has been summarily removed from the posts of Professor and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies he was holding at the university. 

 The decision was taken by the University Council chaired by the Competent Authority of the University Professor Abayaratne Bandara. 

 According to the Council, the decision for his removal is that he had not obtained a postgraduate degree by research (Master or PhD) within the probationary period of eight years. When a lecturer is appointed on probationary basis, he is given eight years to complete postgraduate degree––a master’s or a PhD.  

Liyanage holds a PhD from La Trobe University, Australia and he claims he submitted his PhD thesis within the stipulated period of 8 years, and the university has recommended him for the award of PhD with minor corrections. The effective date of PhD could be the date of submission of corrected thesis or the date of annual convocation. It differs from university to university. 

Liyanage, who joined the university in 2007, was supposed to obtain his PhD before 2015, but the university has taken 5 years to detect that he has not completed his PhD within the probationary period. He was promoted as a Professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies.  

 Professor Abayaratne Bandara also served as the Director General of National Institute of Education.  When Bandula Gunawardena became the Education Minister, he removed Dr. Upali S. Sedera from the post of DG only a few months after his appointment and appointed Professor Abayaratne Bandara to the post.

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SF under delusion that he is still Army Chief – SLPP MP

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‘Even Vasu is capable of flooring him’

By Saman Indrajith

Badulla District SLPP MP Chamara Sampath Dassanayake told Parliament, yesterday, that the SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was under the delusion that he was still commanding the army.

“He should realise that he is in Parliament. Yesterday, he threatened to take on the entire front row of government ranks single-handedly. We do not need an entire row of members to match him. We could send a single person that is our minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

MP Fonseka thinks all those here have passed only Grade Eight. What is wrong with a person with that kind of educational qualification becoming an MP? What about the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake? He was the first prime minister of the country.  He had passed only the fifth standard. We have had leaders who had not studied beyond Grade Eight. Didn’t they govern this country well? On the contrary, where is UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was considered educated and intelligent? What has he done? He is not even in this Parliament today. Was he able to govern this country successfully?”

“We know a lot about him and his ways of conduct. When he was the commander of the Army he sent a helicopter to Colombo to fetch two loaves of bread, while denying so many wounded soldiers the chance to be flown to Colombo. He also brought water from the Iyakkachi well in Vettailaikerni to Colombo because that was his favourite drinking water. We know all this”.

MP Dassanayake said that they had come to Parliament with great trust in it. Yet, he said that there were no thugs in the parliament and no room would be spared to turn the Ninth parliament into the same situation as the Eighth parliament.

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