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Thico scam: Udaya alleges minister behind mudslinging campaign against rivals

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… denies allegation against him

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila yesterday (09) accused a minister of launching a social media campaign to discredit some Opposition MPs over the recent arrest of the owner of Thico Group of Companies Pvt Ltd., Thilini Priyamali, in connection with misappropriation of massive amounts of funds.MP Gammanpila has been named as one of those cheated by the woman.

Addressing the media outside the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the afternoon, Attorney-at-Law Gammanpila alleged that the minister had engaged a prominent social media activist to divert public attention away from a range of corruption charges against the government.Claiming her enterprise has been engaged in construction, real estate, gems, trading, and films, the businesswoman collected millions of Rupees from various persons, including politicians, businessmen and Buddhist monks, sources said.

The suspect who operated a luxurious office on the 34th floor of the World Trade Center in Colombo at the monthly rental of Rs 1.4 mn has been remanded till Oct. 19 by the Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage pending further investigations.he police produced the suspect before the Magistrate after having arrested her on a complaint received from a businessman pertaining to misappropriation of well over Rs 200 mn.

Lawmaker Gammanpila said that at the behest of the minister, social media activist had named him and several others, including MPs Dayasiri Jayasekera (SLPP Kurunegala district), Hesha Vithanage (SJB Ratnapura District) and Chaminda Wijesiri (SJB Badulla) as those near and dear to the suspect.

Declaring that he sought the CID’s intervention, MP Gammanpila urged the police to release the entire list of Priyamali’s contacts obtained during the investigations to prevent interested parties from slinging mud at opponents. Responding to another query, Gammanpila said that he raised the issue at hand with Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and was confident law enforcement authorities could quickly identify the persons responsible for the fabricated list.

“Of course, there is a list. She had cheated businessmen, politicians, monks and artistes. But, I’m not among them,” lawmaker Gammanpila said, urging social media users to be cautious when sharing posts. The police should reveal the identities of those who had been cheated by the suspect as well as her accomplices.

Lawmaker Gammanpila alleged that he suspected the minister whose shady deals and other controversial transactions were now in the public domain was behind this operation.Reiterating his commitment for media freedom, MP Gammanpila said that regulation of social media was necessary to prevent various interested parties from blatantly exploiting social media platforms.

The fake list included former MP Karunaratne Paranavithana, Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, Yeheli Sangakkara, Ravi Kumudesh, MP Kabir Hashim, former MP Wasantha Samarasinghe, MP Dr Nalaka Godahewa, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha thero, Ven. Madille Panghaloka thero, ex-MP Ranjan Ramanayake, Damitha Abeyratne and ex-MP Jeevan Kumaratunga.

Ravi Kumudesh said that it was part of an overall propaganda project meant to undermine a selected group of people.Investigations have revealed that the suspect employed some actresses and models to lure targeted ‘investors.’ Those who had subsequently demanded their funds were threatened with exposure, sources said, adding that more arrests were likely.

The group posted the following on its website: “Thico Group Pvt. Ltd. is the brainchild of Ms. Thilini Priyamali is a duly registered company which is well diversified in nature. Catering to a range of industries including construction, entertainment, gem and jewellery, real estate and trading, the Company aims to attract a diverse clientele. Operating from the 34th floor, World Trade Centre, each avenue falls under respective companies managed by industry experts who ensure efficiency and growth. The ultimate expectation is to help our customers to fulfill their dreams.”



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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