The Attorney General’s Department yesterday made frantic efforts at pulling down a controversial plaque that was erected when the outgoing Attorney general Dappula de Livera and Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong declared open a ‘Smart Library’ on Wednesday within the Department – funded by the Chinese Government. That the plaque was opened in front of the [...]


A not so smart incident at smart library opening at AG’s Dept.


The Attorney General’s Department yesterday made frantic efforts at pulling down a controversial plaque that was erected when the outgoing Attorney general Dappula de Livera and Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong declared open a ‘Smart Library’ on Wednesday within the Department – funded by the Chinese Government.

That the plaque was opened in front of the very eyes of the outgoing Attorney General on Wednesday and it took three days and tsunami-like backlash from several quarters to remove the plaque was the talking point yesterday, even within the Department.

The bone of contention was that it appeared that Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic of China had crept into official language status in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Compounding the faux pas was the fact that while the plaque contained Mandarin, it had omitted the other official language of the country — Tamil. And in a Government Department given the responsibility to interpret the country’s Constitution, no less.

The explanation given by the Department’s spokesperson, who said that they were not sure who was responsible for making the plaque, further aggravated the issue.

She said that “once we were alerted” to the fact, they decided to remove the plaque and replace it with a new one containing the Tamil language as well. But the plaque was opened in front of all the senior officials of the Department. Even at the function some senior officials had been murmuring if Mandarin had already been made an official language, or if it was only replacing Tamil.

In the process, Mandarin has not become the fourth official language of the country, but there still remains three because Tamil has seemingly been dropped off the cliff to make way.

But the case was not just an isolated incident. Earlier in the week, MP Chanakiyan Rasamanikkam raised issue in a Twitter message that a name board had sprung up in the Port city in only Sinhala, English and Mandarin.

There was a similar board at the BMICH.

While Sri Lankan authorities kept silent on the matter, the proactive Chinese embassy quickly reacted saying the BMICH name board was temporary and will be rectified to adhere to the official languages of the Republic of Sri Lanka. MP M. Sumanthiran was soon to follow on this by saying in Parliament that while the Government opposes a (Tamil) ‘Eelam’, it is allowing a “Chi-lam” to
be created.

Already, Mandarin name boards have sprung up in small shops and even night clubs catering to the growing Chinese population in the country, but what took the cake, or shall we say, the nian gao is when right in the midst of the controversial Port City Commission debate in Parliament, the country’s outgoing Attorney General and the Chinese Ambassador opened the ‘Smart Library’ financed and supported by the Chinese Government in the premises of the Attorney General’s Department – in Sinhala, English and Mandarin – with Tamil dropped.

Again, there was a deafening silence by the Government of Sri Lanka but this time round, there were no apologies from the Chinese embassy. Hopefully, all’s well that ends well.


Delivery to your doorstep, even illegal items

The razzmatazz by a newly emerged mail order firm, selling a variety of illegal items through their website, has raised eyebrows.

Walkie talkies, radio communication sets for vehicles, swords of different varieties, machines to counterfeit currency, and sex toys are among those advertised on their website. One must either pay through a credit card or cash on delivery and the items are delivered to the doorstep of the customer.

Though the operators of the website have an address, their phone numbers and names of managerial staff are kept a secret. Attempts to reach one of them to seek their response on how they blatantly violate the country’s laws was not successful.

“We have a (HS) code for knives under which certain long knives too are allowed as they are needed for certain trades such as the butchery industry. However we do not allow the import of swords. The customs can take legal action if swords are brought into the country, though there are knives of different sizes imported,” said the official spokesperson for Customs.

Added a senior Police officer in the Western Province who did not wish to be identified, “Possession of swords is prohibited. Therefore, the police can take action on persons who possess swords. The Offensive Weapons Act will be made use by the Police to file such action”.

Port City Bill: Dispute over missing two votes

The voting in Parliament for the third reading for the  Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill  has now run into problems with claims that two votes had not been taken into count, thereby depriving the government to maintain its prestige that it still has the support of a two thirds majority in parliament.

The vote is now subject of an inquiry which Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has decided to hold,  according to Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dassanayake.

According to a  communique from Parliament, the number of votes received in in favour of the Third Reading of the Bill was 149 and the number of votes against was 58.

But, Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella is already protesting that he has never heard of a vote being recounted in Parliament. His party members are already holding news conferences to say the government has lost the  two thirds majority it managed to gain when the 20th Amendment was passed.

But Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) General Secreary Sagara Kariywasam is insisting that two votes had not been taken into count. They are those of Justice Minister Ali Sabry and National List MP Jayaratne Herath.

Meanwhile, two members of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) led by  Rishard Bathiudeen have been suspended from the party for violating a party decision and voting in support of the Port Commission Bill.

The two members are Ishak Rahaman and Ali Sabri Raheem. They were served the letters of suspension yesterday.

They voted for the Bill while their party leader Bathiudeen who is currently in custody voted against the Bill.

Nasheed gets taste of Lankan hospitality

It was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Germany, Manori Unamboowe, who sent a meal to the Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament (Majlis), Mohamed Nasheed, who is now recuperating in a hospital in that country.

It was made up of string hoppers, fish curry, pol mallung and cadju curry. Here, Nasheed, a former President of Maldives, enjoys his meals whilst reading a note from Ms Unamboowe.

He later tweeted thanking the envoy, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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