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So-called patriots sold most state assets while claiming to protect them – SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya yesterday alleged that the governments of the so-called progressive political forces had been responsible for the biggest sale of national assets to foreigners and local companies. SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Maddumabadara addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo on Tuesday (2) said that governments of SLFP, PA, UPFA and SLPP had sold off the highest number of public enterprises to the private sector or to foreign investors.  “Among them are Colombo Gas Company, Orient Lanka, Rajarata Agro Chemicals, Lanka Salt, Puttalam Salt, Sri Lanka Telecom, SriLankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Insurance, Overseas Realty, Kelanitissa. In most of those governments Mahinda Rajapaksa was in the Cabinet. They sold the Colombo International Container Terminals to China and South Asia Gateway Terminals to a local company. In both cases the government stake was a mere 15 percent while the buyer got 85 percent of shares. They handed over 600,000 acres of land belonging to the state sector plantation corporations to private companies and foreigners. They are the very ones who came to power, promising to save national assets.

Madduma Bandara alleged that those involved in the East Container Terminal deal were notorious for commissions. They took commissions from the Southern Expressway project, the extension of Railway to Beliatta, purchase of MiG aircraft, etc. We are planning to expose these deals to people in the coming days. They sold the land belonging to the Army Headquarters. Soon after coming to power this time they sold three acres in the land near Galle Face. We have information that some areas in Colombo are being surveyed to be sold to foreign companies. That land includes the Bank of Ceylon Headquarters’ land and Police Headquarters’ lands.”

Maddumabandara said that one of the main accusations against the UNP and the SJB was that they would sell national assets. “They with the support of the media and their propagandists succeeded in having the public believe that UNP was the party that privatised and sold national assets. What we did actually was enabling employees of the corporations to buy 10 percent of shares. But statistics show that it was the so-called progressive camp that sold off the highest number of public enterprises.”

Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella 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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