Worried Speaker issues a warning to Maithri and Ranil

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2018-02-04

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON

With President Maithripala Sirisena continuing to openly criticize the acts of his main coalition partner United National Party (UNP) - which many believe as an act designed to save his face and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in the run-up to the Local Government Elections - Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who met the former at his official residence at the Paget Road, Colombo 7 has requested the President to mind his tongue as his utterance could bring serious blows to the economy in the long run.

Jayasuriya in his diplomatic way has pointed it to the President that more he engage in attacking his government ally more damage he brings it upon himself.

"Several parties, especially the business community, the investors and foreign delegates have voiced their concerns about the verbal battle between the UNP and the President. This is not good for the country. Risk of losing faith in the Government will increase amongst the foreign investors and the international community, as long as two sides engage in attacking each other," Speaker Jayasuriya has pointed out.

political hostility

He has told President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that political hostility would be detrimental to achieve the Good Governance objectives of the Government.

"Hon. President, Hon. Prime Minister, I am making a request. There is no politics here. As the Speaker, I am independent. I notice the orators from both parties relentlessly expressing their views on political platforms. We have a plan of work to be achieved. We have to fulfil the objectives of late Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera. The economy has become unstable due to certain political speeches. There is fear in the minds of investors. The Stock Exchange can collapse. Investors think the country will turn unstable after the election. The international community that got close to us recently is facing a problem over this. Such problems will not be good for the country. I am humbly making a request for both of you to limit your hostility on the political stage. It is the need of the moment," the Speaker said.

According to sources, both leaders have agreed to enter into a truce by cordially agreeing to the Speaker.

However, President Sirisena was quoted as saying that the one-day Parliamentary debate on the Bond Commission's report and the PRECIFAC report scheduled for 6 February, is simply a 'gimmick' instead of a fruitful one.

In an interview with media personnel at his official residence, the President has said this was a debate which should have taken place days ago and continued for days without a disruption.He also said the United National Party (UNP) should take the responsibility of failure to take action against the Rajapaksas over the charges levelled against them.

"When ministerial portfolios were allocated in the Unity Government, the portfolios which have an impact on taking legal action against wrongdoers were given to UNP Ministers. Therefore, the ministers who are in charge of the Law and Order, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Attorney General's Department should take the responsibility," he said.

propaganda activities

"I'm the one who told to hold the debate prior to 10 February. My request grew into a public opinion. Therefore, they had to take this up for a debate before the 10th. However, I'm not certain to which extent this debate will be successful. It is impossible to debate the contents of two reports within a mere few hours. On the other hand, I don't believe at least 90 per cent of MPs will show up for the debate. The debate should have been held earlier. Election propaganda activities will come to an end on 7 February. All ministers and MPs will be engaged in propaganda activities in their respective wards on 6 and 7 February. From that number, how many will turn up for the debate? Even if they turned up, how many will engage in the debate productively? For how long will one person speak? This is not a debate which can be done in 5 to 10 minutes. This is more complicated than that. The debate had been arranged in a hurried manner as a mere show to the country only because I made a challenge. The complete responsibility of not taking legal action against the Rajapaksas, should be taken by the Ministers who are having the Police, the CID, the AG's Department under their purview. I have told this before as well. Then, one may ask whether the same thing will happen to these Commissions. It won't be, because I'm the one who appointed Presidential Commissions. All the other things happened from 2015 were done by the respective ministries. The Anti-Corruption Secretariat office was at Temple Trees," he noted.

In response to this, Speaker's office in what appeared like a clarification to the President's statement said the proposed 6 February debate on the Bond Commission and PRECIFAC reports could be extended to 7 February as well.

Speaker Jayasuriya said that the debate wouldn't be restricted to 6 February.

The Speaker emphasized that party leaders decided on 30 January to have the debate on 6 February after the National Election Commission (NEC) pointed out the impracticability of having the debate on 8 February as suggested by PM Wickremesinghe as the day falls within the 'silent period'.

Another Commission

A presidential commission to inquire into allegations of large scale frauds and malpractices in SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering Ltd and Mihin Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd, during the period of 1 January 2006 to 31 January 2018 has been appointed.

President Maithripala Sirisena signed the Gazette Notification appointing this Presidential Commission.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Anil Gunaratne, Court of Appeal Judge Gamini Rohan Amarasekara, Retired High Court Judge Piyasena Ranasinghe, Retired Deputy Auditor General Mallawa Arachchige Don Anthony Harold, the Director General of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board Mrs. Wasantha Jayaseeli Kapugama have been appointed as the members of the Commission.

Accordingly, the new Commission will look into the following irregularities in the relevant companies.

1. Monetary allocations, loans, shares, investments and other finances from the Treasury, Central Bank, People's Bank, Bank of Ceylon or any other financial institution,

2. The establishment, operation and cessation of Mihin Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd,

3. The reasons for the termination of the agreement entered between the SriLankan Airlines and Emirates Airlines, which is the international Airlines Company of the UAE and its complex results,

4. Entering, extending and termination of agreements to purchase of aircraft and other assets, selling, leasing, selling and re- renting, conveyance, exchange, releasing and disposal,

5. Purchase, hire, lease, charter, sale, and transfer of aircraft or any assets valued more than Rs 50 million,

6. Consigning and appointing of sub agents, brokers and consultants, companies, individuals or entity to supply goods, services or any other function,

7. Opening, maintenance and suspension of networks and offices in other countries,

8. Interactions between SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka,

9. Human Resource Management including selection, appointment, remuneration, promotions, transfers, employee restructuring and retirement of the Board of Directors, CEOs, Chairman and other senior management.

10.Financial reporting, compliance with relevant accounting and auditing standards, and financial and operational performance and standards,

Rajitha predicts Gota's arrest

The Colombo High Court on Friday (2) turned down a request made by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and seven others that they be released from a corruption case filed by the Bribery Commission over the Avant-Garde incident.

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and seven others had filed a revision petition in the Colombo High Court challenging Colombo Chief Magistrate's decision to refuse preliminary objections raised by them regarding the Avant-Garde corruption case.

The Bribery Commission had filed a corruption case against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and seven others for allegedly causing a Rs.11.4 billion unlawful loss to the Government when permitting Avant-Garde Maritime Services to operate a floating armoury.

High Court Judge Sampath Wijeratne decided to dismiss the revision petition in limine citing that the Director General of Bribery Commission is vested with power to file cases in the Magistrate's Court in accordance with the Bribery Commission Act. The Bribery Commission alleged that the accused had given permission to Avant-Garde Maritime Services to operate a floating armoury.

The decision comes in the wake of Minister Rajitha Senaratne who is known to be one of the close confidantes of President Sirisena addressing a public rally on Wednesday (31) stating that all arrangements have been made to arrest Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Surveys on LG Polls

Results of several surveys conducted by various independent groups and political parties on the forthcoming LG Elections are now being circulated amongst the public.

While all these surveys points at the overall victory of the UNP, many have suggested a very poor performance by the Maithri-faction of the SLFP suggesting that both UNP and SLFP will have to work together in local governing bodies as well.

According to intelligence reports, UNP under the leadership of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to win over 225 councils out of 341 while, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna led by MP Mahinda Rajapaksa is predicted to bag over 40 councils. The Tamil and Muslim parties will win the majority of North and East LG bodies which is estimated to be over 50.

Reports also suggest that Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna will not be able to win a single council while the SLFP will only be able to take charge of less than 7 councils.

The intelligence reports also suggest that of the postal votes cast by the tri-forces, the majority is for the SLPP while the majorly of police votes have gone to the UNP.

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