The final chapter to what India complained was an article derogatory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jeyaram Jeyalalithaa on the Defence Ministry’s website came this week.Soon after the matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj invited the new Sri Lanka High Commissioner to the [...]


MoD blunder: Tamil Nadu billboard shows President pleading


The final chapter to what India complained was an article derogatory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jeyaram Jeyalalithaa on the Defence Ministry’s website came this week.Soon after the matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj invited the new Sri Lanka High Commissioner to the External Affairs Ministry. It was done and India’s protest was once again re-ierated.

Reacting to it immediately was Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L.Peiris. He repeated what the MoD website said after pulling out the article in question — an unqualified apology — in a telephone call to his Indian counterpart. Well, well, for the first time the Government of Sri Lanka had extended an apology formally. Earlier retractions were from a Ministry.

That is not to say the issue is now a forgotten chapter. In the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu where emotions run high usually, protests still continue. In Chennai and suburbs, billboards and cut outs have sprung up depicting President Mahinda Rajapaksa extending an apology to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. One of them which appeared in the Mettupalayam area showed Rajapaksa with clasped hands looking at her. The Tamil words below seemed to reflect what he seemed to be saying:
“Amma; I have committed a big mistake; Forgive me; Give me life.”

The message was signed by City MGR Youth Front, City Students Front, City Anna Trade Union, District Agriculture Division, City Unity Welfare Division, Youth and Young Women Group and City Mothers Front.None other than the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI), retired Major General Kapila Hendavitharana turned up at Temple Trees last Tuesday to tell the media that an inquiry was under way over this matter. The occasion was the regular breakfast meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with heads of print and electronic media institutions.

Ranil says even Buddhists are under attack
The occasion was the release of a CD on “alleged harassment” members of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) faced. It was released at Siri Kotha at a ceremony attended by party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. He told those present: “When Ven. Dr. Girambe Ananda Thera, a patron of the UNP, wanted to have a meeting at Shri Bodhirukkaramaya at Diyasenapura in Polonnaruwa last Sunday, he was warned by some UPFA Pradeshiya Sabha members.

“However, the monk went ahead with the meeting and the temple was attacked the following day. The international community believes that non-Buddhist communities face a serious threat, but when various persons inquire from me I tell them that even Buddhist temples are attacked,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.

He added: “The External Affairs Ministry is trying to respond to the allegations. But it is the police which should respond to them. When mobs entered the Fatima Church premises in Maradana, the police did not explain why they failed to turn up when mischief makers tried to interrupt a meeting. It is the External Affairs Ministry which responded. A group of persons whose family members had disappeared were trying to explain their cases to some representatives of foreign diplomatic missions. The External Affairs Ministry says this cannot be done.”

Security forces to repair museum
The Government wants either the Sri Lanka Navy or the Civil Security Department to undertake conservation work on the roof and walls of the Colombo National Museum.
The move came after National Heritage Minister Jagath M. Balasuriya made a request for assistance to carry out the work.

His Ministry Secretary has been told to contact his counterpart in the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development and determine whether the Navy or the Civil Security Department could undertake the task.

No pension hike for retired Army chiefs
The Government has dropped a proposal to increase the pensions of retired Commanders of the Army. The proposal had been made to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Defence.

Government sources said that at present pension payments to public servants including Army officers are based on the last salary they drew at the time of retirement.
They point out that grave injustice would be caused to pensioners who held posts on par with retired Commanders of the Army. Moreover, these sources also pointed out that there would be other anomalies caused.

Extension for JR’s grandson
A one-year extension has been granted to Pradip Jayewardene, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Frankfurt, Germany.
The move follows a recommendation made by External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris.
Mr. Jayewardene, the grandson of former President J.R. Jayewardene, will now continue in the post till July 22 next year.

Over 6,000 dengue breeding sites in WP
A Presidential Emergency Task Force formed to combat the menace of dengue has conducted checks on 105,879 households recently and detected 6,347 potential breeding sites. The task force included security forces personnel and officials from the Department of Health.The checks were carried out in the Districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha.

The task force issued notices on 3,796 households. Some took remedial action whilst court action was initiated against 1,787 households.
Earlier, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga directed secretaries to ministries and Chief Secretaries of Provinces to extend their fullest co-operation to combat dengue.

Bill delayed on Deva’s protest
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem’s efforts to move amendments to the archaic Prescription Ordinance have been put on hold for a week.
Though it is before Parliament, President Mahinda Rajapaksa at this week’s ministerial meeting directed Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena to delay it by a week.
The move followed issues raised by Minister Douglas Devananda, who is also leader of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party.

Legislative process being revised
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has launched a project to revise Sri Lanka’s legislative enactments.
For this purpose, the services of retired Legal Draftswoman P.I.S. Samarasinghe have been obtained.
She will receive the same perks offered to her in her previous post. An officer from the Public Management Service is to be appointed as secretary to the project.

Hi-tech security at Census Dept.
The newly constructed building of the Census Department will have state-of-the-art surveillance systems.
President Rajapaksa, who is in charge of this Department, has approved the installation for reasons of security.

Port gets big tax concessions
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Minister of Highways, Ports and Shipping, has won approval of his Cabinet of Ministers for the import of equipment tax free if they are for use in the country’s ports.
Such exemptions will include import duty, ports and airports development levy, cess, VAT and Nation Building Tax.

Police block expressway
Many motorists complain that the Southern Expressway would soon have to be re-named just a motorway.
The reason: No sooner a motorist enters past the toll booth, police officers on duty direct the motorists to pull over. The vehicle is then checked and the driver is questioned about the journey he is to undertake.

Some motorists say the questioning process is also conducted when a motorist stops just outside the toll booth. This forces others to wait in the queue till the process is over. Helpless motorists say Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon should look into why such carte blanche checks are being carried out. “If they have positive information, they can then stop a suspect vehicle instead of subjecting all motorists to time-consuming questioning,” a motorist said.

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