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Worst hit: Dementia during coronavirus



COVID 19 continues its unrelenting march. With more than 40 million confirmed cases and more than a million deaths world-wide, the devastation in the wake of the virus is inexorable.

While no one is spared, its effect on those with dementia is unparalleled as highlighted in the Alzheimer’s Society Report – Worst hit: dementia during coronavirus.

LAF no doubt is challenged in the circumstances. Having reopened the activity centre for our dear clients in September after nearly six months, we are compelled to have frequent closures as the virus rears its ugly head from time to time. Uncertainty is ubiquitous. We are saddened that many of our clients have deteriorated over the past six months and unable to continue at the activity centre. Some have even passed away. Perhaps, social isolation too was a factor in hastening these outcomes.

We continue, nevertheless, with our implacable mission. We had a successful virtual walk – ‘Memorable Steps 2020’ which culminated with a group of us scaling the historical Sigiriya rock on September 21 to mark World Alzheimer’s day. We thank all those who supported the virtual walk by their participation. provided the online platform gratis and worked tirelessly to enable its success. We were able to raise awareness related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias thanks to our media sponsors, Wijeya Newspapers and the Capital Maharaja group.

Our special thanks go to Rishini Weeraratne and her team at the Daily Mirror online for their brilliant effort round the clock with interviews, videos, write ups and social media publicity. They were ably supported by an accomplished team from Dentsu Grant who came up with the logos, graphics and branding strategy.

All these efforts were free of charge. Generous sponsorships from Lassana Flora, Quantum Fitness, Cinnamon, Jetwing, Hilton, Galadari, Shangri-la, Serendib Hotels, Bolt Gear, Celcius, Sanoki, Eyecare and Cutting Station enabled us to give exciting gifts to our winners.

We congratulate the 67 participants who received these gifts. We are also appreciative of the magnanimous sponsorships by Maliban, Janashakthi life, First Capital and Just kids.

Finally, I end this message with special thanks to Yasmin Cader, who managed this event for us. Her vivacious and dynamic personality has been a key factor in the success of all the events that LAF has been conducting over the years. She has decided to step down from the Board of Directors.

Her public relations leadership and publicity efforts from LAFs inception will be sorely missed. We hope however that she will remain in the shadows supporting the board with her expertise and raising sponsorships as before, in the years to come.

– Prof Shehan Williams,


Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation.

(Shehan Williams works as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Kelaniya).

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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