By Saman Indrajith
People now have make a vital decision about their future at the Aug 5 election, says NPP Kalutara District candidate Dr Nalinda Jayatissa in a brief interview with The Island. “If they want their new parliament to be something akin to what they had earlier, they have several parties to vote for, but if they are desirous of a radical change, then they have to vote for the NPP. We hear that the public servants have wisely cast their postal votes. I think people will do so at the upcoming election.”
“The last parliament was like a prison. It was full of those who should have been serving jail terms. There was the biggest narcotic dealer as an MP. Another MP was the biggest illegal sand and miner. We had the biggest bookie owner.
“There were members involved in timber rackets that destroyed our forests. There were also many who should have been behind bars for the biggest financial scam ever in the known history of this country – the Central Bank Treasury Bond scams. There were MPs with links to the beedi industry. Many of them should have been in prison. If people want such a parliament then there are many to be chosen.”
Asked how the NPP would expect to better its electoral performance at the past few elections, Dr Jayatissa said: “The situation is changing and it is changing faster. In response to that change, political consciousness of the people change. There is nothing static in politics, which is a process. I think people now know that candidates of two main parties promise everything and anything to them to get their votes. The ruling party won the presidential polls promising to punish the wrongdoers including those who misappropriated public funds. They also promised one law for the country. They promised to jail the corrupt and thieves especially those who robbed the Central Bank. They did nothing of the sort. The UNP and the SJB would not change this political culture. The votes cast for these two parties would finally help Mahinda Mahaththaya (Mahinda Rajapaksa), who is planning to effect crossovers. People thought Sajith Premadasa had a political future when they saw media reports of him distributing houses and many other things among the Hambantota people. He has got exposed. People who watched him on TV thought that he had actually done something. The real story is known to only people in Hambantota. They gave loans to people to build houses and with the amount they spent on one house, eight houses could have been constructed. He has no vision and he would say anything that comes to his mouth. I think by this time entire country knows that SJB would do no better than the SLPP or UNP in power. So now it’s up to the people to decide what is good for them.
“See for an example in the recent issue of destruction to archaeologically important site at Kurnegala. It is said by experts that the building at the site was built by King Buvenekabahu II. There are reports that it has been demolished. This is a national crime.
The demolition occurred at Kurnegala and the site belongs to the Department of Archaeology that comes under the purview of the Prime Minister, who is contesting from the same district. In such a situation, they seem hell bent on re-writing the history to save their man responsible for this crime. They have vowed in public to ensure that not even a hair of the criminal would be harmed. There is a criminal act and the culprit is known and can easily be identified but no action has been taken. This administration shields its men at any cost. It is to change that political culture, the people should vote for the JVP led NPP.”
Asked to explain his party’s promise to develop the national economy which according to him is in tatters, Dr Jayatissa said that only the NPP had a plan to do so. “We have put forward a sound economic plan and people would see that it is the only plan which could help build a national economy. The country’s economy should be replaced with a new national economy to do away with disparities. We do not think it is practical to envision that an economy of a country alone would revive all by itself while all other sectors are in a mess. An economy does not exist in a vacuum. It is on the basis of those realities that we have formulated NPP’s economic policy plan.
“We propose the revival of three main areas to improve the economy. They will act like pillars bearing an economy. The first of these pillars signify the changes that we intend to introduce to change the existing political culture. Today, politics has become a business. It should be transformed into a public service. The second stands for our drive to restore and strengthen democracy and rule of law. Third pillar is the commitment to achieving national reconciliation by promoting the idea of a pan-Sri Lankan national identity. We do not think that a sound economy would exist in this country without improving the imperatives from those three main areas.
“In developing the Sri Lankan economy, we should take into consideration the country’s geo-strategic location, its resources and its human resource. We plan to formulate policies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of resources in a manner that would ensure national interests.
Our plan envisions that economic policies for this country should focus on four main ills our national economy is suffering from. The first is the debt crisis. The revenue received by the Treasury is not sufficient to pay loan installments. The second is the mismatch between the country’s imports and exports. We spend around 20 billion US dollars on imports while our exports amount to only to 10 billion US dollars. The third problem is the collapse of our industrial sector. The fourth factor to be taken into consideration in formulating economic policies is the inequitable distribution of the national wealth. If you read it you would understand that we have covered all angles to develop this country’s economy – things that could be done.”
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AG not bound by its recommendations, yet to receive report
PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks:
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC is not bound by recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, or presidential directives in that regard, according to authoritative sources.
They said that the AG couldn’t under any circumstances initiate legal proceedings until he had received the full PCoI report.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the PCoI report on Feb 1. The President’s Office delivered a set of PCoI reports to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Feb 23, a day after the report was presented to the cabinet of ministers. The Island raised the matter with relevant authorities in the wake of a section of the media reporting the PCoI recommending punitive measures against former President Maithripala Sirisena, Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujitha Jayasundera, Chief of State Intelligence Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, Chief of National Intelligence retired DIG Sisira Mendis and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rishad Bathiudeen et al over the Easter Sunday carnage.
Sources pointed out that due to the inordinate delay in sharing the PCoI report with the AG, the department hadn’t been able to take preliminary measures required to initiate the proceedings. Sources said that a team of officers would take at least six weeks or more to examine the report before tangible measures could be taken.
With the AG scheduled to retire on May 24, 2021, even if the AG Department received the P CoI it would be quite a tough task to initiate proceedings ahead of retirement, sources said. However, in terms of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in last October, both the AG and the IGP could receive extensions beyond 60 at the President’s discretion.
Dappula de Livera received an Acting appointment as the AG a week after the Easter Sunday carnage whereas his predecessor Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, was elevated to Chief Justice.
Responding to another query, sources said that the Attorney General two weeks ago requested Secretary to the President for a copy of the P CoI. However, the AG was yet to receive one, sources said. In spite of the AG not receiving a P CoI copy, the AG had instructed the IGP to obtain a copy of the report when he requested the police to complete investigations into the Easter Sunday carnage. The AG issued specific instructions after having examined police files pertaining to the investigations.
The IGP, too, hadn’t received a copy so far though some sections of the report were in the public domain.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage displayed at a live political programme on Derana a copy of the P CoI report he received at the cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
Sources said that the Attorney General’s Department couldn’t decide on a course of action in respect of the Easter carnage on the basis of a section of the report. In terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act (Section 24), the AG enjoyed significant powers/authority in respect of investigations; sources said adding that the Department urgently required both the P CoI report and police investigations report. The Attorney General’s Department has raised the delay in receiving a P CoI report amidst the Catholic Church attacking the government over the same issue.
Sources said that ministerial committee appointed to study the P CoI report couldn’t decide on how to proceed with the recommendations and the matter was entirely in the hands of the AG. Sources pointed out that the delay on the part of the government to release the report had received the attention of sections of the international media, including the New York Times. Public Security Minister retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera having met Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith at the Bishop’s House on Dec 8, 2020 said that the AG would get a copy of the P CoI report once the President received it. Minister Weerasekera said that the CID had handed over the relevant files after having completed investigations into eight blasts. Referring to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report on the Easter Sunday carnage, the former Navy Chief of Staff said that all such documents would have to be brought to one place and considered before initiating legal proceedings. Acknowledging that there could be delays, lawmaker Weerasekera said that on the instructions of the Attorney General a 12-member team of lawyers was working on the case. The minister vowed to expose the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks. Investigations continued while some of those wanted were overseas, the minister said.
The minister acknowledged that the Attorney General couldn’t proceed without the P CoI report. Minister Weerasekera reiterated that once the President received the P CoI report, it would be sent to the Attorney General. The minister said that there were documents two to three feet high that needed scrutiny. The minister assured comprehensive investigation. The minister said that investigations pertaining to eight blasts had been completed and the reports handed over to the AG. However, the Attorney General had found shortcomings in those investigations.
JVP picks holes in PCoI report
By Saman Indrajith
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday bombings had failed to identify the mastermind of , the JVP said yesterday.
Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said that the PCoI report had levelled accusations against former President Maithripala Sirisena, former IGP and head of intelligence for their dereliction of duty, shirking of responsibilities and not taking action to prevent the attacks and negligence. There were reference to the causes of the terror attacks and actions to be taken to avoid such attacks and the influence of extremist organisations. “However, there is no mention of the mastermind of the attacks, the handlers of the attackers and those whose interests the carnage served. It is also not mentioned whether there has been any foreign or local organisation behind those attacks. As per the PCoI report the attack took place as a result of culmination of extremism.
“According to the PCoI the extremist activities were a result of the prevailing political situation then. The entire nation was waiting to see who was responsible and who masterminded those attacks. The PCoI has failed to identify the true culprits responsible for the terror attacks. The report says that the leader of the suicide cadres killed himself in the attacks and it was a puzzle. That means those who are actually responsible for the attacks are still at large. The report does not provide exact details of the sources of the attacks. The PCoI had sittings for one year and five months. It summoned various persons and got their statements but it has failed to shed any light on the terror attacks. Everybody knows that the top leaders of the government and heads of security and intelligence establishments failed in their duties. Ranil Wickremesinghe was the second in command and he too is bound by the responsibility but the PCoI report fails to identify him as one of the persons against whom legal action should be instituted. The PCoI has treated Wickremesinghe and former President Maithripala Sirisena differently. We are not telling that this report is a total failure but we cannot accept this as a complete report. The PCoI handed over its report to the President on Feb 1. After 23 days it was sent to Parliament. Now, a copy of the report is there in the parliamentary library for the perusal of MPs.”
Herath said that the PCoI did not have powers to take punitive action. “It only has powers to name those responsible and recommend action to be taken against those named.
TNA MP faults govt. for delay in answering questions, gets under Johnston’s skin
By Saman Indrajith
It did not matter whether the MPs were wearing pressed clothes or had travelled long distances when their questions were answered, Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando told Parliament yesterday.
The Minister said so in response to a complaint by Batticaloa District TNA MP Shanikyan Rasamanikkam, who expressed his dismay for government taking time to answer a question raised by him.
MP Rasamanikkam has raised a question whether the Minister of Health is aware that the Dikkodai ospital, located in the Batticaloa district is not used for public purposes and the patients who visit the hospital for receiving services, face inconveniences, owing to that. On behalf of the Minister of Health, the Chief Government Whip and Minister asked for additional two weeks time.
MP Rasamanikkam: I come to parliament from Batticaloa, which is 422 km away. To attend Parliament we take great care including pressing our clothes. After taking so much trouble to come there braving the pandemic threat we do not get answers. There is a Health Minister and Acting Health Minister and neither of them is here. I saw Minister Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle in the House this morning. She too has gone out. I travel more than 800 km. We could attend to many other problems. It is because the government does not give answers we are conducting protest marches, but when we do so we are hauled up before courts.
Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: Every MP comes here wearing pressed clothes. But that has nothing to do with questions and answers here. I have been requested by the subject minister to ask for two weeks’ time. The MPs have a right to ask questions and in the same way the ministers have the right to ask for time. On the other hand, whether you cover 400 km to reach parliament does not matter. The majority of MPs travel 200 to 250 kilometers to come to Parliament. It is for that purpose they contest elections and get elected. Once elected the distance is not an issue you have to come to Parliament. The government has answered all your questions. This is the first time the Minister has asked for additional time. It is unfair for you to level charges. A more responsible conduct is expected of you as an upcoming political leader.