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Yusuf says his stand on 19 A never an issue for CC ire

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‘All CC members enjoy equal rights’ 

By Shamindra Ferdinando 

Constitutional Council member Javid Yusuf said yesterday that the Constitutional Council (CC) had not made an issue of his call for taking a stand on the much-debated 19th Amendment to the Constitution on a civil society platform in the run-up to the Aug.5 general election.

Attorney-at-law Yusuf said so in response to a query raised by The Island.

Outgoing Chairman of the CC and former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya chaired its final meeting on August 3 – two days before the election, at the Speaker’s official residence.

Asked whether the CC had taken up for discussion his declaration against the moves to do away with the 19th Amendment at its last meeting or the outgoing Chairman raised it with him on some other occasion, Yusuf said: “The answer to both questions is in the negative.”

Addressing a civil society gathering at the New Town Hall, on July 8, Yusuf declared his strong opposition to the high-profile campaign by the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to abolish the 19th Amendment enacted at the onset of the yahapalana administration.

Yusuf was among three civil society members of the 10-member CC. Of the seven other members, the Speaker, Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader held ex-officio positions.

A member of the now defunct CC told The Island that Yusuf, in his capacity as a member of the apex body couldn’t be faulted for taking a stand on the 19th issue as Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, in spite of him being  a CC member, did the same.

The former pointed out that except for the then Chairman Jayasuriya, six of his parliamentary colleagues represented in the CC either backed moves to abolish the 19th Amendment or opposed the SLPP project.

In spite of the SLPP making unprecedented electoral gains at the commencement of the releasing 2020 general election results, civil society grouping, ‘Freedom: People’s Collective’ that campaigned for the continuance of the 19th Amendment still believed the required two-thirds majority couldn’t be achieved by the ruling coalition.

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, while acknowledging a comfortable victory for the ruling party at the 2020 General Election said that two-thirds was impossible under the Proportional Representation system. The academic who appeared on the platform of ‘Freedom: People’s Collective’ with Yusuf told The Island that a two-thirds was beyond the SLPP’s capability.

Meanwhile, UNP Colombo District candidate Oshala Herath yesterday told The Island that he was quite disappointed by the failure on the part of the CC at least to make a reference to serious allegation he made to the then Chairman himself as regards the irregularities in the registration of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB). The CC couldn’t under any circumstance absolve itself of the responsibility for the conduct of the Election Commission.

Herath pointed out that the CC and the former Speaker commended the EC without taking into consideration serious accusations directed at the latter over its conduct. Herath said that he moved the Supreme Court against the SJB registration as the EC in no uncertain terms confirmed irregularities taking place in the process. The civil society activist vowed to go ahead with his campaign regardless of the heavy defeat suffered by the UNP.

Herath lambasted the poll monitors for remaining silent on what was going on. They complained, he said about the display of propaganda and campaign advertisement on social media whereas far bigger irregularities took place at the very place responsible for managing the parliamentary election, Herath said.

The CC will meet again after the new parliament begins sittings on Aug 20.

Herath alleged that all political parties to varying degrees cooperated with the EC.

 

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Udaya questions why CPC prevented from entering LPG market

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Minister Gammanpila at the abandoned Sapugaskanda facility

…reveals Rs 37 mn loss suffered during Asantha’s tenure as Chairman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila recently alleged that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had suffered Rs 37 mn loss due to an abortive bid made by the state enterprise to enter the LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in 2008.

Lawmaker Gammanpila, who is also the leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, said that the CPC had made the attempt in violation of an agreement with Shell and Laugfs Gas to supply its entire output of LPG from the Sapugaskanda refinery to the above mentioned companies.

The Minister said so after inspecting an abandoned gas filling facility at the CPC facility at Sapugaskanda. The visit took place, on Thursday (24), after a three-member committee headed by the Energy Ministry’s head of Internal Audit D. P. S. J. Kumara inquired into the failed operation.

The CPC undertook the project during former national cricketer Ashantha de Mel’s tenure as the CPC Chairman. A. H. M. Fowzie had been the minister in charge of the subject.

The Minister called for a report when the media revealed that the facility had been abandoned a decade back.

Gammanpila vowed to reveal the person who had caused losses to the CPC, having misled its Board of Directors as regards the viability of the project.

The PHU leader requested state enterprise Litro Gas to explore the possibility of accommodating the facility in its current production setup. The minister described the facility installed at Sapugaskanda as technologically outdated even at the time 2008 administration acquired it.

When the CPC made an attempt to enter the LPG market, Laugfs successfully moved the Supreme Court against it. The CPC abandoned the facility following the Supreme Court directive.

The Energy Minister questioned how the CPC had been prevented from entering the gas market. Underscoring the importance of market competition, the lawmaker said that the Energy Ministry intended to inquire into how the CPC reached an understanding with competitors that prevented the state enterprise from entering the LPG market. The minister said that he would examine the obstacles placed before the CPC in entering the market without undermining Litro.

Declaring that Sri Lanka had substantial natural gas deposits in the Mannar basin, the Energy Minister said that the government intended to enter the gas market. Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that a new enterprise would be established under the CPC to provide healthy competition.

Addressing the post-Cabinet media briefing on Sept. 10, co-Cabinet spokesperson Gammanpila said that Surath Ovitigama had been named the Director-General of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat and Saliya Wickramasuriya had been appointed advisor.

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Saumya Liyanage removed from posts of Dean and Professor 

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From M.A. Kaleel, Kalmunai Corr. 

Professor Saumya Liyanage of the University of Visual and Performing Arts has been summarily removed from the posts of Professor and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies he was holding at the university. 

 The decision was taken by the University Council chaired by the Competent Authority of the University Professor Abayaratne Bandara. 

 According to the Council, the decision for his removal is that he had not obtained a postgraduate degree by research (Master or PhD) within the probationary period of eight years. When a lecturer is appointed on probationary basis, he is given eight years to complete postgraduate degree––a master’s or a PhD.  

Liyanage holds a PhD from La Trobe University, Australia and he claims he submitted his PhD thesis within the stipulated period of 8 years, and the university has recommended him for the award of PhD with minor corrections. The effective date of PhD could be the date of submission of corrected thesis or the date of annual convocation. It differs from university to university. 

Liyanage, who joined the university in 2007, was supposed to obtain his PhD before 2015, but the university has taken 5 years to detect that he has not completed his PhD within the probationary period. He was promoted as a Professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies.  

 Professor Abayaratne Bandara also served as the Director General of National Institute of Education.  When Bandula Gunawardena became the Education Minister, he removed Dr. Upali S. Sedera from the post of DG only a few months after his appointment and appointed Professor Abayaratne Bandara to the post.

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SF under delusion that he is still Army Chief – SLPP MP

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‘Even Vasu is capable of flooring him’

By Saman Indrajith

Badulla District SLPP MP Chamara Sampath Dassanayake told Parliament, yesterday, that the SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was under the delusion that he was still commanding the army.

“He should realise that he is in Parliament. Yesterday, he threatened to take on the entire front row of government ranks single-handedly. We do not need an entire row of members to match him. We could send a single person that is our minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

MP Fonseka thinks all those here have passed only Grade Eight. What is wrong with a person with that kind of educational qualification becoming an MP? What about the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake? He was the first prime minister of the country.  He had passed only the fifth standard. We have had leaders who had not studied beyond Grade Eight. Didn’t they govern this country well? On the contrary, where is UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was considered educated and intelligent? What has he done? He is not even in this Parliament today. Was he able to govern this country successfully?”

“We know a lot about him and his ways of conduct. When he was the commander of the Army he sent a helicopter to Colombo to fetch two loaves of bread, while denying so many wounded soldiers the chance to be flown to Colombo. He also brought water from the Iyakkachi well in Vettailaikerni to Colombo because that was his favourite drinking water. We know all this”.

MP Dassanayake said that they had come to Parliament with great trust in it. Yet, he said that there were no thugs in the parliament and no room would be spared to turn the Ninth parliament into the same situation as the Eighth parliament.

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