Former SLFP loser named as UNP’s Jaffna organiser

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Ahead of

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to the North this week, United National Party senior leader Ravi Karunanayake was in Jaffna earlier in the week to monitor the preparations and engage in reviving the party
work in the province.

Addressing a UNP meeting at a city hotel on Thursday, the former Finance Minister announced that one time Sri Lanka Freedom Party member Arun Siddarth would be the district organiser of the party in Jaffna.  Earlier, the post was held by Vijayakala Maheswaran.

The new district organiser was no stranger to
controversies. He contested the last elections on the
SLFP ticket and lost.

One political analyst based in the North said the move by the UNP to appoint such a person is suicidal but added that politics is a strange game.

SLPP Gen. Sec sees ex-president Premadasa as good performer

Controversy rages over the appointment of SLPP parliamentarian Rohitha Abeygunawardena
as chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).

A string of resignations has followed with questions over Mr. Abeygunawardena’s continuation in the post or
if he would step down to
end the dispute.

But it seems the SLPP wants him to remain.

SLPP Secretary Sagara Kariyawsam defended Mr. Abeygunawardena, saying, “You need not have paper qualifications to perform,” and pointed out that former President Ranasinghe Premadasa was one of the best examples. Was he then, inadvertently, praising President Premadasa as
a good performer?


New wine in old bottles: The excise version

A businessman who was in possession of 50 bottles of wine had allegedly been taken for a ride by excise officials so that they could make use of the wine for their personal use.

The businessman, a resident of Hokandara, was arrested and told that he had kept 50 bottles of wine without a licence. He was advised to admit the offence and that they would be producing only one bottle in court.

When the suspect was produced before the Kaduwela magistrate’s court, he admitted the offence, believing that the excise officers would be lenient on him.

The fine that he had to pay was Rs 7,500, so the businessman was relieved, but when queried about the rest of the bottles of wine, the excise officers who apprehended him claimed they had auctioned the wine bottles.

It was then that he made inquiries from a lawyer and found that the quantity in possession was below the amount that he could keep legally.

Unfortunately, it was too late for him.

Heavy Navy and Police guard at CBSL, but only four protesters

Four protesters draw a massive security presence

Four people were seen holding placards outside
the Central Bank of Sri Lanka this week.

They demanded that salaries for other state employees, too, be increased.

But it was not the protest itself that drew the attention of those passing by. It was the presence of more than 100 naval personnel and police teams deployed at the location.

The Navy personnel were placed on guard duty opposite the Central Bank, while the police were trying to push the protestors away.

The heavy presence of naval and police officers seemed to have been deployed after learning a lesson from another protest held opposite the railway station a few days ago.

Those involved in the protest led by the Frontline Socialist Party had taken the police by surprise and were able to push their way through, thereby making it difficult to control the protestors.

This time, the security forces were not taking chances.



Intruders disrupt SLAS media conference; who sent whom and for what

SLAS officers trying to control one of the intruders

The Sri Lanka Administration Service Association organised a news conference at the Colombo Public Library on Friday to raise issues related to their salaries.

They complained that the government neglected issues over their salary anomalies and that the decision by the Central Bank to increase its staff’s salaries would aggravate the situation.

The briefing was in progress, with the Administrative Service officers defending their right to demand better wages. Just then, an unknown group stormed into the news conference, and a heated argument broke out after it was discovered that those who barged in were not from
the media but sent by some others.

One of the questions posed was how come public officers were conducting media conferences during working hours.

The four intruders tried to escape when the officials confronted them. Police officers who were present arrested two of the four and detained them. It was drama with some of the senior public officials running around the library to get hold of the men.

The police were
trying to determine who had sent them to the location.


Clash of the professors at Peradeniya

A dispute over the granting of approval for a senior archaeology professor to travel to India has ended with the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka.

The petition was filed by the senior professor, and in turn, the HRCSL has now recommended that disciplinary action be initiated against another professor who prevented the senior professor from attending the event at an Indian university.

The senior professor alleged that the approval was deliberately delayed, and thereby he could not take part in the event held last month.

The ruling has been given by HRCSL Chairman L.T.B. Dehideniya, a former Supreme Court judge, and Commission member Nimal G. Punchihewa.

Peradeniya University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor W.M.T. Madhujith said the matter had now been referred to the university’s governing council for a directive when it meets on March 30.

Conspiracy theorists throw the book to clear their names ahead of elections

The recent trend among controversial politicians seems to be to write a book of ‘revelations’ to clear up the allegations or criticism against them and use the opportunity to grab some media attention.

It started with parliamentarian and National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa’s claim. In his book, he spoke about a regime change through the so-called Aragalaya protests in 2022. He pointed fingers at foreign diplomats. In former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s recently launched book “The Conspiracy,” the underlying theme is that there has been an international conspiracy to oust him from office.

The latest to join the writers is parliamentarian Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, whose book titled ‘Easter Sunday Attacks: Understating Ethnic-Religious Reconciliation’ was launched in Batticaloa yesterday.

The one-time militant turned politician was the focus of the controversy following the recent British Channel 4 TV documentary where one whistleblower who was close to him alleged Pillayan worked closely with senior security officials to orchestrate the deadly terror attacks to pave the way for a ‘regime change’ in 2019.

At the Batticaloa event, a civil society activist was heard saying that politicians have resorted to writing books now to clear their name ahead of the elections while pointing out Pillayan’s divisive tactics in the recent past at the expense of ethnic harmony in the region.

SLPP leaders ban guesswork on candidate

With lots of guesswork regarding the SLPP presidential candidate and various names being mentioned, the party has decided to put a stop to speculation.

At a meeting presided over by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and party strategist Basil Rajapaksa, a decision was made that there would be no more guesswork until a final decision was taken regarding the matter.

SLPP parliamentarian Ranjith Bandara was questioned this week about the candidate. A few months ago, it was Prof. Bandara who said the candidate’s first name has three letters (in Sinhala).

But this time his response was,
‘Sorry, we have been told not to speak about the candidate.”

Namal sideshow in no-faith motion on Speaker

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa
was among the 31 members who were absent when the voting on the no-confidence motion against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena took place on Thursday evening.

The absence of Namal Rajapaksa was a talking point among the SLPP members as well.

Parliamentarian Jhonston Fernando had called Namal Rajapaksa to find out the reasons for his absence. He switched the phone to speaker mode so that others could listen to the response.

“I have come to Dubai for a meeting with SLPP members. There was also a business community meeting which had been postponed several times,” Mr Rajapaksa responded.

One of the MPs with Mr. Fernando asked, “What happens if we lose the vote?” The response was, “I was sure we could win it.”

Confirming his visit, he went on to post a message on his X: “Engaged in constructive dialogues with professionals, businessmen, and fellow Sri Lankans during my visit to Dubai, UAE. Valuable insights exchanged on diverse topics. Grateful for the warm hospitality extended during my visit.”

Lanka-friendly envoy Sandhu to contest polls on BJP ticket

New Delhi’s elite diplomatic corps seems to have taken a liking to politics after their retirement, all with the ruling Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP).

India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri were former diplomats before joining active politics.

The latest to join the club is no stranger to Sri Lanka—former High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who joined the BJP. After his assignment in Colombo, he was posted to Washington, DC, as India’s ambassador, and he was credited with improving Indo-US ties during his tenure.

As a career diplomat, Ambassador Sandhu served in the US on three occasions and established a wide network across party lines. He used this influence to facilitate the state visits of Indian Premier Narendra Modi to the US in 2014 and 2016. He retired from diplomatic service on February 1.

“In the last 10 years, I have worked closely with PM Modi’s leadership, especially in the relationship with the United States and Sri Lanka. PM Modi is development-focused. Development is very much needed today, and this development should reach Amritsar too. So, I thank the party president, the Prime Minister, and the Home Minister who encouraged me for the new path of service to the nation that I am entering,” he said at the joining ceremony, while stressing that development should reach his hometown of Amritsar as well.

The ongoing speculation in Delhi is that the BJP might field him at the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from his hometown. He was a good friend of Sri Lanka.