Opposition party shaken by President’s move to allocate funds for some of its MPs

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The move to allocate more than Rs. 300 million from the decentralised budget funds to a group of MPs from an opposition party on the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe has set off alarm bells within that party’s hierarchy.

The funds had been allocated following “special instructions” from the President and given to several of this party’s MPs who have good relations with him, sources said. The funds are to be used by them to carry out development work in their respective districts in accordance with the proposals they have submitted. 

The move has led some in the party to speculate that the funds are being used as a tactic to create division and lure MPs over to the government side.

This matter has been discussed at length among that party’s hierarchy, and the party’s top man has told his aides that if the President is so keen on allocating funds for certain MPs from his party, he should have no objection to allocating funds for him as well to carry out development projects in his own district. All eyes are now on the leader to see if he will also be submitting his own set of funding proposals to the President.

Palitha’s death: Those who work for the people will be respected by the people

The sudden death of former Deputy Minister and onetime United National Party Kalutara District Parliamentarian, Palitha Thewarapperuma, resulted in a wave of public support and sympathy.

Mr. Thewarapperuma was known for his short temper, which often got him in trouble. However, he was popular in his Matugama electorate and the wider Kalutara District as a person who helped those in need. The large crowd that descended on his residence following his untimely demise was a testament to this popularity. He was also widely praised on social media, even by those who held political views that differed widely from the late MP.

Many former and current MPs from different political parties visited his home to pay their final respects and heaped praise on the late MP. Even those who had clashed repeatedly with Mr. Thewarapperuma inside and outside Parliament were quick to note that they admired him for his tenacity and the uncompromising approach he took when representing the people of his electorate. One person in attendance remarked that half of Parliament seemed to be there to pay their respects. Several MPs who spoke to the media acknowledged that at a time when the respect for politicians in general was at an all-time low, the people who were coming to show their respects to Mr. Thewarapperuma showed he was truly a “man of the people.”

Unconventional to the last, Mr. Thewarapperuma was laid to rest on Friday at the “Nisala Niwahana” (Silent Abode), a tomb he had constructed for himself in preparation for his death.

Mr. Scanlon driving a three-wheeler: Moves are underway to issue driving licences to tourists at the airport

Tourists take to tuk-tuk to beat transport travails

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka have been looking for cheaper travel options within the country.

Many tourists are opting for public transportation. But few others, despite the risks, have chosen to drive around in three-wheelers. Some of them have been driving across the country.

British tourist Henry Scanlon had hired a three-wheeler from Ella and was driving all the way to Matara.

Mr. Scanlon, an accountant by profession, stopped over at Wellawaya and said that although he was not familiar with driving a three-wheeler, he had opted to drive around.

There were other reasons for tourists to select their own mode of transport.

One of them faced a bad experience while travelling around.

“There are instances where tourists trying to board buses from Wellawaya to Arugam Bay via Monaragala are told that there are no buses and directed to a three-wheeler,” a resident in the area said.

However, it is not all tourists who fall prey to those trying to exploit them.

With the Tourism Ministry planning to issue driving licences to tourists at the airport, there may be more tourists driving around.

Much ado about nothing, though Canada is complicit in Gaza genocide

It may sound like the Shakespearean play ‘Much Ado about Nothing’, but the Foreign Ministry has thought it fit to convey its “strongest concern” over a decision taken by a little city council in Canada that passed a resolution recently to erect a monument commemorating ‘genocide’  that purportedly took place in Sri Lanka not so long ago. Foreign Minister Ali Sabry not only wrote to his counterpart in the Canadian Federal Government challenging the false narrative and distortion of events in Sri Lanka when it had to deal with a terrorist group that launched an armed insurrection to split Sri Lanka into two, but also summoned the hapless Canadian envoy in Colombo to convey Sri Lanka’s “serious concern”.

The Canadian government itself is in a twist on these matters. Though it has not officially acknowledged that ‘genocide’ occurred in Sri Lanka, its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fighting for his political life at home, has said it did.

The Canadian local council in Brampton is full of new immigrants, and vote bank politics is crucial for its politicians. The council has two elected Sikh members, and accusations that Canada is a state sponsoring terrorism are already a major issue with India as well.

While it is good in a way that the Foreign Ministry is not ignoring these irritants around the world and not allowing countries like Canada to get away so lightly with such unfriendly acts towards Sri Lanka, others see this as comedy playing out just like the Shakespearean play full of bad communication and deception.

They suggest the best way to answer the Canadian councillors of Brampton is to erect a monument somewhere in Bintenna, maybe, commemorating the ongoing real genocide unfolding in Gaza, and name those countries, which include Canada, that are aiding and abetting such crimes against humanity.

Canada, with its terrible history of genocidal annihilation of its indigenous people and its present-day double standards on events in Palestine, ought to know by now the definition of genocide.


Surprise birthday party for Namal in Ampara

Ampara District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Parliamentarian D. Weerasinghe’s residence was among those that had been burnt to the ground during the 2022 ‘Aragalaya’ unrest.

The house was finally rebuilt recently, and a small ceremony took place this week to celebrate the occasion. Several ministers, MPs, and district leaders attended the event. The chief guests were former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and SLPP National Organiser Namal Rajapaksa.

Among those who spoke at the event were Mr. Weerasinghe, Namal Rajapaksa, Wimalaweera Dissanayake, and Johnston Fernando.

The two Rajapaksas also spoke to the SLPP’s Ampara district leaders to discuss the party’s strategies for the upcoming elections. Namal Rajapaksa’s birthday fell on the day they were in Ampara. Unknown to him, Mr. Weerasinghe had organised a surprise birthday celebration for the younger Rajapaksa. He seemed genuinely surprised when the SLPP MPs and local area politicians brought a birthday cake for him to cut. Those present were given a treat at the surprise birthday party.


Even in death, Moneragala people are inconvenienced

Moneragala residents say the authorities have made life difficult for those trying to obtain the services of the inquirer into sudden deaths.

The Moneragala District Hospital has appointed a person as an inquirer into sudden deaths, but he lives nearly 60 km away from the hospital. The earlier inquirer lived in the vicinity of the hospital.

Accordingly, those seeking the services of the new inquirer into sudden deaths are forced to pay for his transport to be picked up from home and dropped back. A three-wheel fair for both ways is Rs 11,000. In addition, they are also forced to provide meals.

Religious leaders in the areas have appealed to the Justice Minister to appoint a person who lives in a closer location so that the people are not inconvenienced.


Dayasiri fears row at SLFP May Day rally

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s former General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekara, was asked by a journalist about the party’s plans for May Day celebrations.

He promptly responded, “I am not sure whether we could get them together and prevent the party members from fighting each other, going by the recent events.”

He was referring to recent incidents where the SLFP members have been critical of each other at public events.

The SLFP Darley Road headquarters remain guarded by armed policemen, while several court cases are pending.


Wijeyadasa rejects allegations about JP politics for polls

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has hit back at sections of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) over allegations that he is awarding Justice of Peace (JP) positions to party organisers and members with a view to winning their support to contest the upcoming presidential elections from the party.

It is no secret that an SLFP faction has approached Mr. Rajapakshe to contest the upcoming presidential election as a common candidate from the party. This has been vehemently opposed by another section, which is now accusing the Justice Minister of using the JP posts to lure those from the party to his side.

Speaking to the Sunday Times on the allegations, Mr. Rajapakshe denied that the JP posts were being used as a tool to win over supporters. “Many ministers and MPs have approached me with lists of people they want to be appointed as JPs. I go through them and appoint those who have the necessary qualifications,” he said.

“We generally accommodate between 25 and 30 candidates submitted by a minister and about 10 submitted by an MP. I recently approved more than 100 candidates submitted to me by the opposition leader. In fact, most of the JP posts that we have awarded in recent times have been from lists submitted by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya,” the minister claimed, adding that if one took such allegations seriously, he could also be accused of trying to win over support to contest the election as the SJB’s candidate.

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