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Wiggy says he never asked Sinhalese, Muslims not to come back to Jaffna

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By Saman Indrajith

The Tamil People’s National Alliance or the Thamizh Makkal Tesiya Kootani (TMTK) MP C.V. Wingeswaran, on Friday, said that Sri Lankans irrespective of their racial differences were fortunate that Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had obtained a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Participating in the debate on vote on account, MP Wigneswaran said Prime Minister Rajapaksa had been given a golden opportunity to usher in a peaceful and prosperous country. “By granting what I call eksathism as opposed to ekiyaism this country could be transformed into a veritable heaven on earth despite its ten trillion international debt. A form of unionism which in fact is federalism is the panacea for our national question – unity in diversity.

“It would be stupid to run away from problems by saying such problems do not exist akin to the Ostrich which lowers its head in sand hoping to find a safe haven. Let us face the national question together. Let us not hand it over to the next generation. To win a war is easy. But to bring about Peace is extremely difficult. But it is peace that could usher in permanent victory. It is this realization that made King Asoka embrace Buddhism.”

“I hate none. But I love the truth. I have come to conclusions about our past after studying certain historical facts. If my conclusions are wrong others must point out the shortcomings in my conclusions instead of getting upset and abusing me. They can invite me to public debate. If need be, let a Commission be appointed consisting of top Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and international historians well versed in South East Asian history to report on our heritage and history. The historians must be internationally recognized.”

He said that he had been wrongly accused by a fellow MP of discriminating against Sinhalese and Muslims. “He said that I had forbidden Sinhalese and Muslims from entering the North when I was the Chief Minister. Truly, I must be a demon to have said so when my children have both married Sinhalese. I do not indulge in such vituperative, racial exercises.

“He asked if I had given blood to patients and went on to say only the military members give blood to blood banks in Jaffna. He asked if the Vellala community would accept blood from other castes. That MP should realise the people of the North had given blood to blood banks prior to the army coming to the North as well as afterwards. They are aware that all blood fall within four categories. They do not believe as some do that some are born with blue blood!

“As a representative of the Tamils I find nothing significant to comment about on this mid-term vote on account. No government has so far rendered any significant help to pull out our war affected people from their penury stricken indigent circumstances. They are also not interested in granting economic powers to the periphery to enable them to look after themselves. You would remember the Chief Minister’s Fund was refused to our Province during the time of both Governments. Hence I deem it necessary to stress on this occasion the urgent need to solve the political question of the Tamils first which is basic to the amelioration of the conditions of our affected People.”

“I like to ask a question – why did we fight for independence from the British? We were peaceful and prosperous. In fact Lee Kwan Yew swore that he would make Singapore another Ceylon. Such was the peace and prosperity of our Country under the British. But we still wanted Independence. Why? It was our desire to resurrect our identity by language; heritage and culture that made us want ourselves to be freed from the domination by the British.”

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Hemasiri’s counsel complains to PCoI against ex-President Sirisena’s media statement

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… says it has placed the life of his client at risk

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was “malicious and fictitious”, Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for Fernando said yesterday.

Jayasuriya told the PCoI that by issuing that statement Sirisena had also undermined the PCoI.

Sirisena, on Sunday, issued a press release claiming that the testimony given by Fernando at the PCoI about his behavior was completely false.

“I vehemently deny what was said at the Commission by Fernando. These are malicious and fictitious statements and I wish to reiterate to the public that Fernando’s statements are false,” Sirisena said.

Counsel Jayasuriya pointed out that by disseminating such an idea, the former President was trying to intimidate the former Defence Secretary who was still testifying before the PCoI. Sirisena, who was a former President, a current Parliamentarian and a party leader, was powerful and thus, there were now concerns about the security of his client, Jayasuriya said.

The counsel said that it was up to the Commission to decide whether Fernando’s evidence was true or false.

Issuing of a statement undermining Fernando by Sirisena, who was the Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of Defence and the Minister in charge of law and order at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, was a very bad precedent, the counsel for the ex-Defence Secretary said.

“The former President has been given the opportunity to crossexamine Fernando. However, he has issued press releases. People will be afraid to tell the truth openly if powerful people start issuing press releases on judicial matters,” counsel Jayasuriya added.

Jayasuriya requested the Commission that Sirisena’s Personal Secretary, Sameera de Silva, who issued this media statement, be summoned before the Commission. Silva should explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court. He also requested the Commission to take measures to ensure the safety of his client.

When the Commission asked the counsel appearing for the former President if he had anything to say in that regard, he said that he had not received any advice from his client. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Commission ordered that if there was anything to be said by Sirisena in that regard, it be presented before the Commission today through his legal representatives.

The Additional Solicitor General, who is leading Fernando’s evidence, also informed the Commission that she hoped to comment on the matter once the explanations were made by the former President.

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Kandy tragedy:

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What remains of the building that collapsed

Ill-fated building constructed on loose soil

By Ifham Nizam

Structural engineers’ approval was essential for the construction of building in hilly areas, a senior scientist said.

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) Director (Landslide Research and Risk Management Division) R.M.S. Bandara told The Island to ascertain the real cause of the building collapse in Kandy on Sunday, an investigation would be conducted within the course of this week. “Initially we thought that could be done in two days or so,” he said

Bandara said that they would work with the Kandy Municipal Council Building Department to find out whether the original plan of the structure had been changed.

According to Senior Chartered Geologist Laksiri Indritilake, who was at the site, the NBRO team was carrying out the technical inquiry into the incident. He said as per their observations the collapsed building was an ad-hoc construction which had been erected blocking a valley path.

“Water flows from above grounds via a valley path. From our preliminary observations, it was evident that this building has been constructed blocking such a valley path. No safety precautions had been taken.”

“The multi-storyed building has been constructed on loose layers of soil in the respective valley region, and the building had caved-in, as the soil layers could not bear the weight of the construction,” said Samantha Bogahapitiya – NBRO’s Geologist in-charge of the Kandy district.

According to him, four families in the area have been were temporarily relocated as a precaution measure.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Geological and Mines Bureau, Anura Walpola said that the collapse had not been caused by a tremor.

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SJB MPs decide unanimously to oppose 20A

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by Akitha Perera

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) would oppose the 20th amendment to the constitution to be presented to Parliament, today, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

The SJB had studied all the proposed amendment in detail and they couldn’t agree with any of them, he said. Therefore, the SJB had no choice but to work with like-minded forces inside and outside parliament to prevent the bill from becoming law, the MP said.

Kiriella said that SJB MPs HAS met yesterday in Parliament to discuss the matter and they unanimously agreed to oppose the amendment given the weakening of checks and balances imposed by the 19th amendment to the Constitution.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that the replacement of the constitutional council with a parliamentary council, the weakening of the independent commissions, increasing the powers of the executive presidency and removing a number of key institutions from the purview of the auditor general were proposals that would not be accepted by any democratic minded person.

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