Divisional Secretary’s Facebook post stirs bribery battle in Presidential Secretariat

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The Presidential Secretariat has written to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) requesting that an inquiry be conducted into a Facebook post by a Divisional Secretary in the Puttalam District, levelling bribery allegations against a Media Director of the Presidential Secretariat.

In his Facebook post, the Divisional Secretary claimed he had received a call from a person claiming to be a media director at the president’s office asking for the number of a person who resided within his DS area. The person had recently been awarded Rs. 5 million in compensation after the government acquired his land. The media director, though, had informed the Divisional Secretary that they had received a petition against the awarding of the compensation and asked that they withhold the compensation until an inquiry was completed.

The matter had troubled the Divisional Secretary, who had asked the caller to send him a copy of the petition. Though he had the contact details of the person to whom compensation had been awarded, he had not given them to the official from the president’s office. However, he soon called the person who had been awarded compensation for his land and made inquiries. He was told that the person had visited the Presidential Secretariat regarding the compensation for his land and had met with the said official. The Divisional Secretary then gave the person the number of the media director and asked him to call the man to find out what he wanted.

The person who had been awarded the compensation called back after some time and told the Divisional Secretary that “He (media director) is asking me for a cut of the compensation money.” The Divisional Secretary had told the person that the government had awarded him compensation for his land based on a thorough assessment and that he should not give a cent of that money to anyone. The Divisional Secretary concluded his post by saying, “The President’s Media Directors have developed to the level of using Divisional Secretaries as pawns to ask for bribes.”

While the Presidential Secretariat wants an inquiry into the media director who is accused of asking for a bribe, the Divisional Secretary, who made the Facebook post too, is likely to be in hot water for sharing the matter publicly on social media instead of lodging an official complaint with the relevant authorities, a senior official said. “This is not how things are done. There is a process to follow, and putting this on social media is petty and immature,” he said.

SLPP’s presidential candidate: Questions lead to more questions

The most frequently asked question by journalists from the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) over the past few months is: “Who is your presidential candidate?”

Senior SLPP members have been trying to avoid the question, but sometimes are forced to respond after being cross-questioned by journalists.

At the opening of the party’s election centre in Battaramulla, the SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa told waiting journalists that the candidate the party would back would be known by June 18.

On Friday, after the opening of the party’s Elections Operation Centre at Battaramulla, the same question was again raised by journalists.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam responded, saying the party would be fielding the right candidate who would be eventually sworn in as the 9th Executive President, but again refrained from naming the candidate.

Former Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena then responded, saying the best actor would come out at the right time, and it was the jokers and supporting actors who appeared first in teledramas.

State Minister Sashindra Rajapaksa was asked the same question. He said, “We will be fielding the best candidate.”

Responding to the question, Minister Pavithra Wanniaarachchi said the candidate they would be backing would end up being the winner.

Businessman Dhammika Perera, who has been a regular visitor to the SLPP headquarters and is often touted as a possible SLPP presidential candidate too, was asked the question, and he said, “The party will be deciding on the matter.”.

It was the party’s former national organiser, Basil Rajapaksa, who was able to hint, at least, when the candidate would be known. He said the announcement may be “around June 18.”

Until then, it would probably be a guessing game, even for the SLPP members.

Former mayor outgunned by man who sought Rs. 1000

Ratnapura’s former mayor, Tyronne Attanayake, reached out on Friday to help a person known to him but soon found that the man had disappeared with his revolver.

The man who turned up at the mayor’s residence to borrow Rs 1,000 was told to stay on and that the money would be provided when he visited the temple later in the night.

However, the man had turned up for the second time and was seen seated on a bench. But a few minutes later, he had left.

The former mayor checked his vehicle later for his personal revolver that was inside and found it missing.

Police are now searching for the man, with the ex-mayor regretting that he asked him to come to his house with an offer of help.

Women Parliamentarians Caucus wanted a woman to replace Diana

This week’s Supreme Court decision unseating former State Minister Diana Gamage from Parliament has now left only 11 female MPs in the Ninth Parliament.

The Women Parliamentarians Caucus Chair, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, wrote to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Secretary General Ranjith Madduma Bandara, urging him to consider appointing a female member to fill Ms. Gamage’s vacancy so as to minimise the negative impact Ms. Gamage’s removal can have on female representation in Parliament. Appointing a female MP to fill Ms. Gamage’s seat would send a strong message of commitment to help resolve the problem of a lack of female representation in Parliament and to promote gender equality and strengthen female leadership, Dr. Fernandopulle said.

Unfortunately for the Women Parliamentarians Caucus, the SJB had declared almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruling that former MP Mujibur Rahman would be nominated to fill Ms. Gamage’s vacancy. Mr. Rahman had resigned from Parliament in January last year to run as the SJB’s mayoral candidate for Colombo before the local government polls were indefinitely postponed. Mr. Rahman took his oaths as an MP on Friday.

Teachers’ union leader calls for probe on corruption in WPC

The Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) has written to the Presidential Secretariat, calling for an inquiry into serious allegations of corruption involving officials of the Western Provincial Council (WPC).

Citing a damning report from the National Audit Office, the CTU states that housing rent allowances amounting to more than Rs. 20 million had been paid for five years from November 2017 to October 2022 to 11 senior officials of the WPC in complete violation of existing laws and regulations. The letter points out that one of the officials identified in the report now holds a senior post connected to public administration and that he has been obtaining a monthly housing allowance of Rs. 50,000 despite having been allocated an official residence.

The letter also points out that, according to the report, bottles of water for the WPC had been bought in 2024 at Rs. 360 a bottle when the actual cost of a bottle was Rs. 224.

The CTU has also asked the President’s Office to investigate the conduct of the Western Province Governor, whom they claim is allowing corrupt officials at the WPC to do as they please.


High Commissioner Bogollagama and Mrs. Bogallagama at the London function

Ceylon tea and sympathy for King Charles

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Rohitha Bogollagama and Mrs. Bogollagama met King Charles III at a function in London this week.

During a brief conversation with the High Commissioner and his wife, the King recalled his visit to Nuwara Eliya and Macwoods Tea Estate. He also mentioned that he was getting a regular supply of tea from Sri Lanka. Mr. Bogollagama had stressed that, on the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, he had arranged for the supply to continue.

Queen Camilla, who was in attendance, had mentioned her fondness for Galle.

Mr. Bogollagama also passed on the President’s good wishes to the King and explained how he had managed to turn around the situation in Sri Lanka. King Charles had told the High Commissioner that he was aware of the situation and that he wished the country every success. The King had also asked the High Commissioner to pass on his fond regards to President Wickremesinghe.

The High Commissioner, who has been unable to present his credentials yet after arriving in Britain due to the King suddenly falling ill, is expected to do so later this month at Buckingham Palace.

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