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SJB plans major campaign over dismissal of cases by AG and CIABOC



MP Rahuman addressing the media outside the CIABOC on Monday (8)

Rahuman alleges manipulation at the highest levels

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) would respond to the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) request for information pertaining to the withdrawal indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the outfit or filed for/and on behalf of it since the last presidential election in Nov 2019, a senior official said.

In terms of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in Oct 2020, the appointments to the CIABOC are made by the President.

Secretary to the CIABOC Apsara Caldera said so when The Island asked her whether the commission would reveal information sought by the SJB in terms of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Commissioners would decide on the SJB’s request, Caldera said, adding that an application was received on Monday (8).

The CIABOC comprises retired Supreme Court justice Eva Wanasundera (Chairperson), retired Court of Appeal justice Deepali Wijesundera and one-time head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) DIG Chandra Nimal Wakista.

Colombo District lawmaker Mujibur Rahuman who made the application on behalf of the SJB told The Island that according to the available information the CIABOC alone had

terminated about 45 cases on so called technical grounds. Addressing the media outside the CIABOC, Rahuman questioned the rationale in the CIABOC actions at a time the government was propagating ‘One Country, One Law’ concept. MP Rahuman was flanked by colleagues, J.C. Alawathuwala and Harshana Rajakaruna.

The SJB last week, also in terms of the RTI law sought similar information from the Attorney General. The SJB has submitted the following questions to the CIABOC:

1. How many indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or filed for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption have been withdrawn after the 19th of November 2019?

2. What are the names of the accused parties in the indictments and/or court proceedings that have been withdrawn by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or withdrawn for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019?

3. What are the case numbers of the cases that have been withdrawn by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or withdrawn for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019?

4. On what dates have the indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption or filed for/and on behalf of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption after the 19th of November 2019 been withdrawn?

Lawmaker Rahuman said that once they obtained required information from the AG and the CIABOC a detailed study would be done. “We intend to give widest possible coverage to the AG and the CIABOC actions. Altogether over 50 cases have been dismissed on technical grounds. Interestingly all of them happened to be either members of the incumbent administration or those close to the powers that be,” MP Rahuman said.

Responding to another query, MP Rahuman said that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should state its stand on the dismissal of high profile cases on unexplained technical grounds. Political interference in the judiciary would erode public confidence in the system, the former UNP lawmaker said, underscoring the importance of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary working in unison to ensure public confidence in the legal system. MP Rahuman said that right thinking people couldn’t remain silent over the matter. The whole law enforcement process would be a joke if political parties were allowed to manipulate legal procedures at will, MP Rahuman said, the country never experienced a similar situation before. “We expect the BASL to reveal its stand on this matter,” the MP said.


Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials



Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely



By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted



Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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