Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa went to the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Parliamentary complex last week for a brief chat. It soon sparked speculation that Rajapaksa held the meeting to appeal to Premier Wickremesinghe for help in the event any member of his family was implicated in the alleged murder of Sri [...]


Ranil says no Thajudeen talk with Rajapaksa


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa went to the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Parliamentary complex last week for a brief chat.
It soon sparked speculation that Rajapaksa held the meeting to appeal to Premier Wickremesinghe for help in the event any member of his family was implicated in the alleged murder of Sri Lankan ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen.

However, Premier Wickremesinghe told the Sunday Times there was no such discussion. Mr. Rajapaksa, he said, had complained that adequate time was not being given to parliamentarians (supporting him) to speak during the ongoing budget debate. He had wanted a scheme where backbenchers had the opportunity to make their contributions. Mr. Rajapaksa also discussed the proposed constitutional changes and electoral reforms, the Premier said.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said the meeting lasted 15 to 20 minutes. He said he had to leave his office room and rush to the well of the House since President Maithripala Sirisena was on his feet inside the chamber.


Warning to globe-trotting big wig
The big boss sounded a strong note of caution to a big wig known for making too many foreign trips.
He was summoned to the official abode to be given the message.
The move came after he had learnt that the big wig was in the habit of leaving Sri Lanka almost every month, sometimes twice.
The wheels of justice were turning too slow as a result.


Pole vaulter gets top DPL job again
The talk in the corridors of the Foreign Ministry in Colombo is how a man who is well past the age of retirement, a political appointee, has ousted a career diplomat, to become head of mission in Europe.

The story has become all the more intriguing because the man who served as Consul General in a well-known city in a well-known country during the previous regime, was said to have been looking after the interests of the powers that be at that time.  Thereafter, the former administration, grateful for the services rendered, posted him to an Asian capital in the Far East as the head of mission. Then it was time to say goodbye.

Insiders say at over 65 years, well past the age of retirement, he lobbied the high and mighty in the new dispensation. Hey presto!! He has now been named head of mission in a country where communism once thrived, but is doing well despite the recession in Europe.  The Ministry boss tried to persuade the higher up not to make the change and keep to the career diplomat’s appointment. However, that was of no avail. No wonder the Foreign Service is once again slipping to the bad old days of not so long ago. To hell with good governance.


Heavy fire over anti-Lanka film in Malaysia
Nearly 100 film-makers, writers, artistes and lawyers from around the world have signed an open letter calling on the Malaysian government to drop charges against a human rights activist who is due to go on trial tomorrow and could face up to three years in jail.

Lena Hendry, of the Malaysian human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS, has been charged under Malaysia’s censorship laws for screening the documentary ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ – a film about human rights abuses at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war – to an invited audience in July 2013. The screening was raided by 30 officials from the Malaysian Home Ministry, the Police and Immigration officials.

Ms. Hendry, who is also Manager of Kuala Lumpur’s Freedom Film Festival, is charged under Malaysia’s 2002 Film Censorship law which states that it is illegal for anyone to possess, distribute or show a film which has not been approved by the country’s censorship board.
The letter’s signatories include rapper M.I.A, Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo and leading film directors from the United States, India, Malaysia and Britain, and the ‘No Fire Zone’ director Callum Macrae. Also on the list are journalist and author Naomi Klein, Indian poet Meena Kandasamy and actor Greg Wise. They accuse the Malaysian authorities of using the law as an act of political censorship.


Minister’s India rail deal stopped on track
President Maithripala Sirisena has put on hold a proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers by Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to buy rail carriages, bus engines and gear boxes from India. The proposal came up for discussion at a ministerial meeting the previous week.
Minister de Silva recommended the purchase of diesel multiple units, carriages, locomotives and wagons, the rehabilitation of various railway lines with funds remaining from an Indian line of credit.

He also recommended the import of 500 new bus engines and 500 gear boxes from TATA and Leyland bus manufacturers in India.
Already, there is a furore over faulty locomotives bought through the Indian line of credit. This saw a sharp slanging match between the incumbent Minister de Silva and his predecessor Kumar Welgama, once Cabinet colleagues.


Flooded with calls, but Chennai help desk not helpful
During the worst floods in Chennai in a hundred years, the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office set up a 24 hour help desk.
This was to deal with inquiries from next of kin of the stranded Sri Lankans. Alas, a lone official posted to this help desk was only able to speak in Tamil. Most queries from Colombo were left unanswered.

However, the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi made up for the shortcoming. It monitored the movements of some 400 pilgrims who were later brought to Colombo in special flights operated by SriLankan Airlines. Its partner Mihin Lanka also operated flights from Trivandrum and Buddha Gaya.

FCID probes Lycamobile transactions
The Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) has begun an investigation into Lycamobile, a British company operated by Sri Lankans.
The probe centres on the leasing of a Wimax broadband line from the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) with the help of another company, Skynetwork.

Earlier, the Sri Lanka Telecom is reported to have applied unsuccessfully to obtain a similar lease. It is alleged that the companies in question have together offered the line on lease to SLT which has not availed itself of the deal.How funds were obtained for the deal is one of the aspects now being probed. A ‘B’ report has been filed before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court to obtain an order to conduct the probe.

The Lycamobile folks are in town looking to cut a deal with the Hong Kong based Hutchison Telcom company while reports from Britain say that they are under a cloud for improper campaign funding of the ruling Conservative Party.
Funding politicians is not an issue for them, it seems.


FM complains against IMF Colombo office
The Government is to raise with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington DC what it calls public criticism of its policies by the IMF’s Colombo office. Government sources said that while the 2016 Budget debate was under way in Parliament, an official statement had criticised the economic policies.

Responding to a query from Bandula Gunawardena MP, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Parliament on Friday that all other international institutions including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank did not engage in such practice.

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