A controversial figure in Sri Lankan politics and one-time Minister S.B. Dissanayake, was literally ‘roasted’ by his parliamentary colleagues at their meeting last Tuesday. In what seemed an orchestrated onslaught, Parliamentarians accused him of violating party discipline and practices, by criticising a minister in an outside forum. Mr Dissanayake once brokered a deal between then [...]


Government group blasts S. B. for his comments in interview


A controversial figure in Sri Lankan politics and one-time Minister S.B. Dissanayake, was literally ‘roasted’ by his parliamentary colleagues at their meeting last Tuesday.

In what seemed an orchestrated onslaught, Parliamentarians accused him of violating party discipline and practices, by criticising a minister in an outside forum.

Mr Dissanayake once brokered a deal between then President Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa paving the way for Mr Rajapaksa to become Prime Minister for 52 days. Mr Dissanayake apparently knew what was in store and kept away from the meeting.

One of the critics, Anuradhapura District parliamentarian and Lands Minister S. M. Chandrasena alleged that Mr Dissanayake had criticised Education Minister G. L. Peiris in a disgraceful way. National List Parliamentarian Jayantha Ketagoda said if there was any criticism against Prof. Peiris, that should have been raised at the group meeting. Many others followed.

The issue centred on a ‘Good Samaritan’ role Mr Dissanayake had played on Tuesday, April 6 on behalf of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. That is by carrying two separate messages to the Chief Incumbent of the Getambe Rajapawanna Vihara, Ven. Kappitiyagoda Siri Vimala Thera conveying best wishes on his 90th birthday.

For Mr Dissanayake’s misfortune, he was videoed together with his conversation that did not go well with the ruling alliance leaders.

Trouble broke out after a leading television channel telecast the meeting and the exchange of words between the two. Here are excerpts:

Mr Dissanayake: “Ven Thera, your face looks good; you look good and healthy (for your age).”

Ven Thera: Our looks do not matter when the country does not look good. We are really upset over the current situation. We feel that we do not need any of this.

Mr Dissanayake: “All the monks are not that……….”

Ven. Thera: “I do not do politics here. We do not want to engage in politics either, do you understand? Don’t you see what happened as a result when some engaged in it?

Mr Dissanayake: “On a previous day the President said that the American President was popular, but his popularity has dropped. He asked me why that had happened to him. When the President asked me all the secretaries were there before him. I replied that everything that the President ordered had not been implemented. The President then asked me why I said such a thing. Then I replied that there is the Education Ministry Secretary. Ask him how many national schools have been built and completed. You ordered that about thousand national schools be built. Not a single school has been built. The Secretary says they are still preparing the list.

“Then I mentioned about the Secretary of the Ministry of Lands. The President had asked to provide people deeds for their lands before anything else. He asked the Lands Ministry Secretary how many deeds have been given to people. That too had not been done. Lot of things are like that.

Ven. Thera: “However their matters get done somehow.”

Mr Dissanayake: “The Education Minister G. L. Peiris, is not doing anything. This is at a time where we work fast….”

Ven. Thera: “I don’t think that they would do these things, now that the time had expired.”

Mr Dissanayake: “There is an issue, our main sources of income have collapsed.”

Ven. Thera: “That is something that has affected the whole world.”

Mr Dissanayake: “Yes, that affected the whole world. However, China has told us to take any amount of money and pay it back any time that we can afford it. China has given the message to the Government that we could take any amount we want and pay it back in a time when we are able to do so.

Regarding the Easter Sunday attack, actually all the information regarding that had been received by the Government at that time. That information was there with the Prime Minister (Ranil Wickremesinghe). In charge of the Police at that time was Minister Sagala Ratnayake. He too had information. A lot of information was also received by the Defence Secretary and the President at that time. However all of them only were thinking of the upcoming presidential election.”

Ven. Thera: “Why are those positions given to military personnel. Military persons are persons who are supposed to engage in war. Can such people rule a country. Some are engaging in crazy activities in some ministries. Even this is there in the Buddha Sasana Ministry.”

Mr Dissanayake: “What had happened is that officials are afraid to take decisions as their superior officials do not take responsibility over their actions and motivate them to carry out decisions.”

Ven. Thera: “However, an unfortunate time has dawned on our country.”

Mr Dissanayake: “It will get better in future. Let us see.”


Are President’s decisions being implemented?

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has named a 15-member committee of ruling alliance MPs to probe whether decisions taken during his “Dialogue with the Villagers” have been implemented.

The Committee is headed by Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Namal Rajapaksa.

Rs 12.5m backhoe ‘exhibition object’ in Valikamam PS premises

Local government bodies are formed to serve the people without delay, but in most cases their efficiency is questionable. One such incident at Valikamam South-West Pradeshiya Sabha was brought to the attention of the people. It related to the purchase of a backhoe.

The area’s people alleged that a brand new backhoe worth Rs 12.5 million was purchased by the local body for the clearing of lands, canals and cemeteries. For months it has been an ‘exhibition object’ in the council premises without a driver.

The decision to purchase a new backhoe was made after the Sabha had to hire third-party machinery annually to carry out cleaning work in the area. The council says it had to spend millions of rupees as expenses for this.

Responding to allegations, a senior Pradeshiya Sabha official said there had been a delay in hiring a permanent driver to operate the backhoe since applicants were not willing to take up the job at the salary scale published by the council.

As an interim relief, the official noted they are planning to deploy a driver from another department to operate the backhoe.

Much speculation over arrest of Jaffna’s Mayor

In the North the talk of the town is Friday’s arrest of Jaffna Mayor V. Manivannan over establishing a municipal ‘security unit’ to keep the city clean. He was taken into custody early Friday after several hours of questioning by the Police. By midnight, he was granted bail by the Jaffna High Court. He was charged under provisions of the penal code, not under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

By late Friday evening, Mayor Manivannan was brought by the TID and the Police from Vavuniya. When the local journalists got to know this, they gathered at the High Court premises. One of the senior Northern police officers who got into a controversy over his ‘pittu and vadai’ remark in recent times was also in the Court waiting for the team.

During a casual talk with local media personnel, he declared “you guys made him a hero now” referring to extensive local media coverage on the fiasco. The ambitious mayor is apparently clearing the route to contest as Chief Minister, at the upcoming Provincial Council polls.

The senior police officer also lamented on the way he was treated in the local media over his controversial remark for which he had to apologise later.

Amidst this, the Jaffna MC’s members were speculating whether the Council would be dissolved and brought under Governor if the Mayor was to be charged under PTA and put in remand custody. Some were openly discussing alternative routes to carry out their politics of ‘serving people.’ They were much relieved when they heard that the Mayor was granted bail.



These trees had stood there even when the land was a rubber plantation run by the British Army.

Alas, the axe falls on trees of the Kissing Bend

The bend in the road popularly known as the “Kissing Bend” situated within the Peradeniya University will no longer be the same as authorities have chopped down the massive trees, some of which are believed to have stood for more than hundred years at the bend.

These trees had stood there even when the land was a rubber plantation run by the British Army.

Even after the setting up of the university, the trees had remained as lone sentinels. The bend with the large trees, which offered plenty of shade, was a popular spot for generations of student couples at the university in the evenings as they left for the nearby hostels.

Alas, the axe fell on all these trees recently and the bend is now bare land, disfigured by the stumps and branches of the trees that stood there for so long.

Peradeniya University Vice Chancellor Upul B. Dissanayake told the Sunday Times that the trees had been felled by the Road Development Authority (RDA) to widen the bend and lay a new pipeline. He also claimed that the aging trees had posed a safety risk, with a large branch once falling on a vehicle travelling on the road.

Uproar in Parliament; Speaker loses his cool

Being the Speaker of Parliament has never been an easy task. The responsibility that 224 MPs always uphold the dignity and decorum of the House can at times tax the nerves of anyone holding the Speaker’s post.

So it was with Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Wednesday as Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarians vehemently protested his announcement that the Parliament’s Secretary General had written to the Election Commission informing that Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake’s seat had fallen vacant.

As the House erupted in uproar, with various Parliamentarians raising Points of Order and trying to make themselves heard, the Speaker clearly became more irritated.

At one stage, SJB Parliamentarian Dilip Wedaarachchi kept demanding he be given the mic to raise a Point of Order. The constant interruption clearly got on the nerves of Speaker Abeywardena who blurted out “thamuse” instead of the more formal “thamunnanse” when addressing the Parliamentarian, though he quickly corrected it in his stride, telling the Parliamentarian that the mic was his to speak.

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