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UNP, AJP won’t be present

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Two come from Welikada and B’caloa prisons to take oaths tomorrow

… Chandrakanthan second ex-LTTE cadre to become lawmaker

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Among those scheduled to take oaths as lawmakers tomorrow (20) are Premalal Jayasekera and Sivenesathurai Chandrakanthan a.k.a. Pillayan currently held in the Welikada and Batticaloa prisons, respectively.

The UNP and Ape Janabala Pakshaya wouldn’t attend the inaugural session as both parties couldn’t resolve simmering disputes over the appointment of National List members. Both parties won one NL slot each.

Jayasekera a.k.a. Choka Malli contested Ratnapura district on the SLPP ticket whereas Chandrakanthan a.k.a. Pillayan contested from the Batticaloa District while being in remand custody.

Chandrakanthan backed the SLPP at both presidential and parliamentary elections in Nov 2019 and August 2020. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself visited Chandrakanthan in Oct 2019 to finalise electoral agreement in this regard.

Chandrakanthan, who leads the breakaway LTTE faction TMVP (Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal) was taken into custody in Oct 2015 over his alleged involvement in the assassination of Batticaloa District TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham inside a church during Christmas mass in 2014.

Chandrakanthan succeeded Karuna Amman as the TMVP leader in 2007.

A senior parliamentary official told The Island that Premalal though being convicted by the Ratnapura High Court over a killing in Kahawatte in January 2015 had appealed against that decision and, therefore, he could be sworn in as an MP. The former UPFA Deputy Minister polled over 140,000 preferential votes and was placed second in the Ratnapura district.

Pillayan, who fought for the LTTE under Karuna, is the second ex-LTTE cadre to enter parliament. The first was Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman, who was accommodated in Parliament on the UPFA ticket during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first tenure as the President. The UPFA again appointed Karuna to Parliament in 2010 on the National List.

Chandrakanthan also served as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.

Karuna was unsuccessful in his attempt to enter parliament from Digamadulla district at the recently concluded general election.

 



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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