The local councils are meant to be the ‘miniature legislatures’ of the country and the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is showing the way how true that is. Already, the CMC is imitating the national Parliament with a heated contest for the post of Leader of the Opposition. Again, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) with [...]


Battle after battle in CMC


The local councils are meant to be the ‘miniature legislatures’ of the country and the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is showing the way how true that is.
Already, the CMC is imitating the national Parliament with a heated contest for the post of Leader of the Opposition. Again, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) with 23 seats is the second largest party after the UNP in the CMC and is demanding the post – which is not a post prescribed by law, but one held by tradition.

In this case there is no TNA with fewer seats than the Joint Opposition, but there is the UPFA led by Azath Sally making a pitch for the post. The SLPP has written to Mayoress Rosy Senanayake stating that they have nominated Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam, a former Chief Medical Officer of the CMC to the post of Leader of the Opposition. Here is a case of the UPFA-SLPP battling it out with the UNP to decide on the winner. Sally’s UPFA has only 12 seats in the CMC.

The battle for the Leader of the Opposition post is not the only battle to have got the CMC going. At its first meeting, all manner of games went on in the appointment to the various Standing Committees of the CMC. For instance, Dr. Kariyawasam himself was shunted out of the Health and Sanitation Committee, where he would have been a useful and logical contributor given his previous role as an official of the council, but found himself in the Building Planning and Development Committee of which he probably knows little.

He has now sent a request letter for a “mutual transfer” and a separate letter to the Municipal Commissioner calling for an investigation into the use of expired chemicals in the anti-dengue programme in and around the shanty dwellers homes. He was clearly a victim of lobbyists who found him a threat in the Health and Sanitation Committee.

Then there is the case of the SLPP’s Sharmila Gonawela, who once found corrupt activities in the Solid Waste Committee. She was placed in the Library Committee. After her vehement protests, she has now been put in the Women and Children’s Committee – but not in the Solid Waste Committee.
Another councillor, Kahandagama was to be in the Marketing Committee, but found himself left out, and after shouting and screaming found himself included. So, the CMC starts off with some square pegs in round holes, so to say. Not an auspicious start, what.


MiG deal: Slain editor’s name misused for political ends
The talk in the Mess Hall of a service arm early this week was about the 2006 MiG-27 deal. One senior officer sipping a local gin and tonic asked a colleague nursing a keg of beer, “What is the latest in the investigation?”

He responded by asking “which investigation, one by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) or the one by Health Minister and official Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne?”

What’s the difference asked the questioner. The other replied; “according to the FCID investigation lasting some three years, it has found that the agreement for the deal signed in Colombo and Moscow in July 2006 was fraudulent.” He said just weeks earlier, FCID took possession of certified copies of the correct agreement. They were not known until then.

However, according to Minister Senaratne, the real agreements have been in circulation even in 2009. He claimed this was why journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga was killed. He had planned to publish them.

Mr. Wickremetunga would be turning in his grave to know that his name is being used for political ends. This is notwithstanding a string of ‘B’ reports the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has filed in courts about the alleged murder. None of them speaks of the motive being the MiG-27 procurements or of him being in possession of any agreements.

That is not all. According to Minister Senaratne, the procurement agreements for MiG-27s have been signed by the two Defence Ministers, one from Sri Lanka and the other from Ukraine. If he is correct, it would have been then President Mahinda Rajapaksa who signed for Sri Lanka as he was the Minister of Defence.
In reality, there was no purchase directly from Ukraine of any MiG 27s. It has now transpired during the FCID inquiry that the purchase was made from Ukraine by Bellimissa Holdings Ltd., a British Virgin Islands registered offshore company and sold to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF). A director of this company had also been a key player of D.S. Alliance, a Singapore registered company which supplied MiG 27 aircraft on two previous occasions. They have all been listed as key suspects in reports filed before Courts by the FCID.

Meanwhile, the extradition of Udayanga Weeratunga, a prime suspect and former Sri Lanka Ambassador to Russia now in custody in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) awaits the completion of legal formalities. A Sri Lanka team is expected to leave for Abu Dhabi for this purpose anytime now.

No escorts, but lady companion for outspoken politico
He arrived at the five-star hotel sans his escorts and thus caught the attention of a security sleuth serving there.
Recognising the man, he followed him covertly to the adjoining apartment complex. The purpose, of course, was to ensure the politico, who recently shot into fame, had no hassle.

It is only when he walked to the door of a closed apartment did he realise that he may be intruding into the newly anointed powerful man’s privacy. He opened the door, a lady companion followed and the door slammed shut.

It is only then that the sleuth realised that going beyond the call of duty was out of bounds for him. He would be intruding into the government politico’s privacy. So he kept himself out of range. He walked back and related the story to a senior.

Defence deals with Russia
A top level Sri Lanka delegation has just returned from Russia after high level talks on military procurements but it is not immediately clear how many deals were concluded.

The delegation was led by Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne and included Navy Commander Vice Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe, the Defence Ministry’s Additional Secretary Sarath Kumara and the MoD’s Air Defence Advisor Air Commodore Dilshan Wasage.


Intelligence chiefs deny release of top Tiger Morris
Senior intelligence officials have flatly denied reports that a high ranking former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) operative who went by the nom de guerre Morris has been released.
He is one among a number of Tiger guerrilla cadres now awaiting trial. Morris, a close associate of then LTTE Intelligence Wing leader, Pottu Amman, has been responsible for some high profile attacks in Colombo. He is now being held in custody.
Morris was also one time leader for Point Pedro and was involved in attacks then on personnel of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

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