The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 3

3
Sunday, March 22, 2015
news
Continued from page 1
By Sandun Jayawardana
The controversial ‘floating armory’
maintained by Avant Garde Maritime Ser-
vices (Pvt) Ltd at the Galle Harbor is still
operational,
The Nation
learns.
Acompanyofficial, who spoke ongrounds
of anonymity, said the armory, located on
the vessel ‘MV Mahanuwara’ was function-
ing as usual as they were in possession of
a ‘valid permit’. The official also said all
weapons stored at the armory belonged
to international Private Maritime Secu-
rity Companies (PMSCs). The official also
claimed there was an inventory for each
item and as such, all weapons, ammunition
and other equipment were accounted for.
When contacted, Police Spokesman ASP
Ruwan Gunasekara confirmed the floating
armory was operational. “The CID is cur-
rently conducting an investigation to deter-
mine if the company’s permit (to maintain
a floating armory) was obtained legally.
However, since a permit does exist, there is
nothing to stop the company from continu-
ing to conduct operations at the site,” the
police spokesman observed.
Meanwhile, in an interview with a pri-
vate television channel last week, former
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
claimed the weapons that were found by po-
lice from the floating armory at Galle har-
bor in January were not owned by the State.
He further stated the firearms found in the
floating armory are owned by PMSCs that
were engaged in anti-piracy operations.
The website of Avant Garde Maritime
Services also states that one of the services
the company provides at the floating ar-
mory is the storage of weapons and asso-
ciated equipment belonging to PMSCs for
“safe custody and storage until required
by that PMSC again, especially when those
weapons are not permitted by host nations
to be taken ashore.”
The issue has also caused frictions with-
in the government, with some ministers
claiming the armory was legitimate whilst
others have hotly disputed this.
‘Floating armory’
still operational
By Ashani Jayasundara
Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine,
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne will have discussions
with the Minister of Finance and Planning, Ravi
Karunanayake today (March 22), regarding
the allowance increment of the doctors and the
nurses.
Due to the delay in the allowance increment
that Government Medical Officers’ Association
(GMOA) has been demanding, the GMOA is
due to launch an island-wide strike on Tuesday
(March 24) excluding the hospitals; Sirimavo
Bandaranaike Children’s Hospital, Lady Ridge-
way Hospital, De Soysa Hospital and Cancer
Hospital.
The Government Medical Officers’ Asso-
ciation (GMOA) spokesman, Dr. Naveen De
Soysa said that though the approval has been
given for the allowance increment of the doc-
tors, still there is no response from the Minister
of Finance and Planning, Ravi Karunanayake.
He added, “Basic salary revision according
to the 2015 Budget approved in 2014 October
has been demanded by the GMOA. The cir-
cular should be issued by the Secretary to the
Ministry of Health under the guidance of the
Treasury.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Govern-
ment Nursing Officers Association (GNOA),
Saman Rathnapriya said that the nurses
would launch a 24- hour token strike starting
on March 26 from 7.00 am to 7.00 am, since
the government has still failed to implement the
demands.
Public Service United Nurses’ Union
(PSUNU) spokesman, R.K. Batuwita said that
they would resort to a two-day sick note cam-
paign on April 2 and 3 until the demands that
they have been raising are met. R. K. Batu-
wita added, “A two-day sick note campaign will
be launched in all hospitals. If there is no re-
sponse, we would resort to a continuous strike
after April 3”
According to him, on February 6 the PSUNU
had held discussions with the Health Minister,
Rajitha Senaratne regarding the issues that the
nurses have been encountering. Implementa-
tion of nurses’ promotions after 12 years of ser-
vice, establishing the nurses’ degree awarding
institution, paying Rs.25,000 as a professional
allowance to nurses, the payment of 1/20 of the
salary for working on Saturdays, implementa-
tion of the allowance increment from January 1
this year are among the demands that PSUNU
has been raising.
Rajitha –Ravi to
discuss allowance
issue as strikes loom
By Kishani Samaraweera
Former State Minister of
Higher Education, Professor
Rajiva Wijesinha, claimed that
his Liberal Party is the only par-
ty which was not given a copy
of the draft 19th Amendment
to the Constitution when all the
other parties were given a copy
and were consulted regarding
the issues afterwards. Prof.
Wijesinha also pointed out that
the gazetted draft bill is not the
draft they agreed upon at the
Party Leaders’ meeting.
“It is totally not what we
agreed upon. It was completely
a different version. I personally
found it very outrageous be-
cause at the committee meet-
ing the changes proposed by
other parties were made crys-
tal clear to the Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe and he
agreed to change the draft ac-
cordingly,” he said.
He expressed the fact that
he will continue to support the
government despite his defec-
tion and he is only against the
way the Prime Minister is trying
to take control of everything.
“The PM is the worst authori-
tarian ever. I am totally against
this type of arbitrary control and
he was not even elected by the
public. The only issue the PM
and Dr. Jayampathy Wickra-
maratne is concerned and ob-
sessed about is transferring the
powers of the Executive Presi-
dent to an Executive Prime
Minister,” said Prof. Wijesinha.
He also proposed sev-
eral amendments to the 19th
Amendment and justified those
with reasons. The President
should not be allowed to ad-
vance the Presidential election
to a date he wants, he should
not be allowed to dissolve Par-
liament, nor should Parliament
be dissolved before the end of
its five year term, there should
be fixed terms for elections and
the Prime Minister should have
nothing to do with the appoint-
ments which should be done
by the office of the President
are few of his proposals to be
amended.
PM the worst authoritarian
ever - Prof. Rajiva
No shortage of
tamed elephants
By Sandun Jayawardana
There is no shortage of tamed elephants in the country
to take part in cultural pageants such as
Peraheras
, Deputy
Minister of Tourism and Sports Vasantha Senanayake as-
sured.
Speaking to
The Nation
, the deputy minister stated there
were about 160 tamed elephants currently estimated to be
at temples and with various private individuals. The Crimi-
nal Investigation Department (CID) is currently conducting
investigations to trace elephants being held illegally using
forged registration papers or without any documents what-
soever.
Senanayake said authorities estimated that some 30 of
these 160 elephants were being kept illegally. “Even if this is
the case, it would still mean that there were 130 elephants
that were being kept legally. If this was still not enough, we
might be able to explore the possibility of perhaps obtaining
a few elephants on loan from somewhere like the Pinnawa-
la Elephant Orphanage to take part in cultural pageants,”
he observed. He said ideally, they would have to enact new
legislation regarding the keeping of tamed elephants.
However, Convener of the Ravana Balaya Organization,
Ven. Iththekande Saddhatissa Thera, who was among a
group that took part at a protest in Colombo last week in
support of tamed elephant owners, stated authorities were
also going after people who had kept tamed elephants for
generations and were also targeting temples.
“We don’t object to them going after elephant racketeers.
However, we are concerned about the way temples are
being raided in search of elephants, where chances of el-
ephants being mistreated are less. There are also concerns
regarding people who have been doing this as a profession
from the time of kings”.
A meeting is due to take place between representatives
of tamed elephant owners, officials from the Department of
Wildlife Conservation (DWC) andDeputyMinister Vasantha
Senanayake on Monday (March 23) evening.
A protest was organized by the National Movement to Protect Tamed Elephants on Thursday (March 19) to focus
attention on the plight of elephant owners. The organization, led by a group of Buddhist monks, tried tomake its way
to Parliament in the company of dozens of elephants to hand over a document containing its proposals to resolve the
issue. However, the ‘elephant procession’ was halted after police obtained a court order preventing it.
Pic by Chandana Wijesinghe
Cops stop jumbo protest
‘However, while some of the amend-
ments have been included, others
have been ignored. Anyone with any
knowledge of political science or the
law would immediately see that the
gazetted version includes serious con-
tradictions. In one place it states that
the President is head of Government
and in another it is the Prime Minsiter
who is referred to as the head.’
The JHU will oppose the passage
of the 19th Amendment in Parliament
for these reasons, Ranawaka said,
warning that Ranil Wickremesinghe
risks losing his premiership if he tries
to subvert the agreement reached at
the party leaders’ meeting.
Meanwhile Assistant Secretary of
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party MP Di-
lan Perera told The Nation that his
party will not support the 19th amend-
ment parliamentary bill if amendments
suggested by the SLFP are not ac-
cepted. “Some amendments suggest-
ed by us have not been included,’ he
said adding that SLFP will continue to
push for the suggested changes to the
draft. The MP also alleged the draft
has been compiled according to the
whims and fancies of Prime Minister
Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Sri LankaMuslimCongress (SLMC)
Media Spokesman, Nizam Kariyappa
talking to the Nation said that their par-
ty is happy with the present situation
and that they are enthusiastic about
the changes happening in the country
at the moment.
“However it is very disappointing to
see people trying to bring the issue
of electoral reform in to the picture
when the 19th amendment is being
discussed and debated. What they
are trying to do is to sabotage the 19th
amendment. Those two are complete-
ly different issues,” said Kariyappa.
Leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja
Party, Tissa Vitharana on the other
hand stated that the 19th Amendment
has not been given due importance
and that it is a topic which should be
widely discussed.
“Our party is of the opinion that ex-
ecutive presidency should be done
away with. However I personally feel
that the procedure adopted to gazette
the 19thamendment was not methodi-
cal and was done in a hurry,” he said.
He also said that the gazetted ver-
sion only caters to the current political
situation whereas it should take into
consideration possible future scenar-
ios.
Media Spokesperson for the Jathi-
ka Nidahas Peramuna Mohamed Mu-
zammil lamented that his party was
neither invited nor consulted in the
initial stages of the 19th amendment
like other parties.
“We were never invited nor were we
asked about as to what our party feels
about the 19th Amendment. However
our party thinks that this bill will make
the country unstable since there will
be two competing power blocs which
according to our knowledge will creat-
ed unwanted issues,” Muzammil said.
UNP-SLFP marriage...
“Colombo Port City is a 100% pri-
vately funded Foreign Direct Invest-
ment of US Dollars 1.4 billion by the
Company and is not a grant or loan to
the Sri Lankan Government. The proj-
ect is fully funded by CCCC’s internal
financial resources. CCCC will provide
30% equity while 70% will be financed
with the land.”
“The loss of USD 380,000 per day,
incurred due to the on-going suspen-
sion on the project is therefore initially
borne solely by CHEC Port City Colom-
bo (Pvt) Ltd. However, the contractual
obligation to obtain all key applicable
permits for project commencement
lies with the Government of Sri Lanka
(GoSL) and Sri Lanka Ports Authority
(SLPA). CCCC commenced reclama-
tion work after being informed that
the contractual obligation on the part
of GoSL and SLPA had been fulfilled.
The Project Company has a legal right
for compensation by the Government
for losses suffered due to the suspen-
sion,” the company told The Nation in
an email response.
Meanwhile, CCCC said that CHEC
Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd has written
to the Secretary of Ministry of Ports,
Shipping & Aviation seeking permis-
sion to carry out vital protective work
to the existing site, as over 200 meters
of the breakwater constructed thus far
has been damaged or is likely to be
damaged due to the suspension.
“The Secretary has also directed
CCCC to submit valid permits and ap-
provals issued by the relevant govern-
ment authorities and have responded
to this request by submitting the re-
quested documents to abide by the
notifications received, without preju-
dice to the legal rights of the Company.
Further, in its communication to the
Secretary of Ministry of Ports, Shipping
& Aviation and in subsequent com-
munications sent to the Honourable
Prime Minister, CCCC has volunteered
to share any additional information re-
quired by the Government to reach a
final decision concerning the project,”
the CCCC statement said.
Govt. to suffer...
He also further said that when
Wele Suda was made to give a state-
ment about Duminda Silva regard-
ing the allegations of drugs case the
former drug baron had also listed 12
other names. Among these names
were two or three MPs who belonged
to the UNP. But no action was taken
against them. The MP further alleged
that they should challenge this by try-
ing to prove the ethanol cases.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunayake
had spoken on Thursday regarding
the case, saying the four MPs had
brought ethanol into the country with-
out paying taxes and going against
tender procedure.
According to reports in the year
2014, up to 13.6 million liters of etha-
nol was imported in to the country.
(SI)
SLFP challenges...
All three persons in the panel appointed by
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who
was responsible for the appointment of one of
the persons under a cloud in this matter, Cen-
tral Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, are as-
sociated with his party. Wickremesinghe in a
lengthy representation to Parliament about the
issue did not refute allegations that these indi-
viduals were ‘Sirikotha Lawyers’.
Earlier, TISL, while expressing the view that
‘there is a clear case of insider dealing which
is a form of corruption, which can only be un-
earthedwith a credible investigation,’welcomed
the appointment of a panel to investigate the
matter. TISL Director Shan Wijetunga reiter-
ated this position when speaking to The Nation
and was quick to qualify the uncritical approval
previously offered by the organization regard-
ing the appointment of an investigating panel.
Wijetunga said that he hadn’t known of the po-
litical background of the panelists.
TISL in a media statement had earlier ‘wel-
comed the decision of appointing two commit-
tees to probe into the allegations.’
The committee members appointed on
February 27 were Gamini Pitipana, Mahesha
Kalugampitiya and Chandimal Mendis. Sri
Lanka Freedom party and several other politi-
cal personnel including the Opposition Leader
Nimal Siripala de Silva charged that all three
lawyers were in and out of UNP Headquarters
‘Sirikotha,’ consulting the party leadership and
therefore the country could not expect a fair and
balanced inquiry from them.
TISL concerned...
Dr. Ganesanandan Senthuran said
that the authorities needed to find the
cause of contamination. The prime
reason, according to Dr. Senthuran, is
believed to be the activities of Northern
Power Company Pvt. Ltd whose op-
erations have been temporarily halted
through a court notice.
However, he stated that a proper in-
vestigation was necessary to confirm the
actual reason behind the contamination
if a suitable solution was to be given. It
is alleged that the oil contamination was
also caused by an oil lake which is adja-
cent to the area. “There are speculations,
but we cannot come to a conclusion with-
out an investigation,” he said.
The issue has prompted authorities
to provide drinking water to residents
through bowsers. However, that too had
now become a problem as water for this
purpose too was collected from nearby
areas, and was also contaminated. Ac-
cording to residents, contamination has
spread to surrounding villages including
Thellipalai, Uduvil, Sandilippai, Chanka-
nai, Koppai, and Kokkuvil.
Dr Senthuran stated that after several
attempts a committee of officials consist-
ing of local government and the Northern
Provincial Council was formed in order
to study the situation. Accordingly, the
committee had requested the affected
residents to formally register their com-
plaints. Approximately 1800 persons
have registered complaints so far. Dr.
Senthuran believes that at least 20,000
residents are affected.
When contacted, Government Ana-
lyst, Sakunthala Tennakoon confirmed
that tests were carried out on soil sam-
ples collected from Chunnakam and that
results were sent back to the officials
in the area last month. According to Dr.
Senthuran, the Government Analyst’s
Department had collected 25 samples
and the results proved that the soil was
contaminated by oil deposits. “The next
step is to find out the cause, and also at
the same time come up with a suitable
solution for the people,” he said.
An awareness campaign had been
organized by the Youth United for Social
Good on February 15 in Colombo to bring
the issue to the fore. It was alleged that
there was political backing behind the
program, which the organizers denied.
Attempts to contact Jaffna District
Government Agent, Sundaram Arumain-
ayagam proved futile. In addition, The
Nation also contacted Northern Province
Environment Minister Ponnthurai Aing-
karanesan who refused to comment.
Chunnakam another...
Two questions are being asked. First,
what has Sarath Fonseka done since be-
ing made General to deserve a further pro-
motion? Secondly, did Fonseka defeat the
LTTE all by himself, i.e. without the support
of the Navy and the Air Force?
When Fonseka was stripped of his
title, all promotions were immediately put
on hold. If that freeze is being removed
to benefit Fonseka, it is argued in certain
quarters, then the promotion of others in
the Navy and Air Force also should be
considered.
Those well versed in military affairs ob-
serve that rewarding a military person for
services rendered in the political arena
would set a very bad precedent and further
exacerbate the already serious problem of
politicizing the military. It would devalue the
title of ‘Field Marshall,’ they add.
Devaluing the...
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