Some Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MPs were in Polonnaruwa this week for the first phase of their ‘Jana Rala’ programme. The group also met some of the party’s provincial leaders to discuss reorganisation efforts. Talk during the tea break turned to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s trip to India. Parliamentarian Namal [...]


SLPP MPs wonder whether JVP leader will drop talk on Indian expansionism


Some Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MPs were in Polonnaruwa this week for the first phase of their ‘Jana Rala’ programme.

The group also met some of the party’s provincial leaders to discuss reorganisation efforts.

Talk during the tea break turned to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s trip to India. Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa reminded those present that one of the JVP’s ‘five classes’ used to be on ‘Indian Expansionism’ in the run-up to the 1971 insurgency.

“I don’t believe we’ll have the JVP conducting that class again,” Mr. Rajapaksa quipped. One MP joked that he had heard India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, had conducted his own class on Indian expansionism for the JVP leader, prompting laughter from all around.

Mr. Rajapaksa told those gathered that the country lost out on a lot of Indian investments over the years due to opposition from the JVP. State Minister D.V. Chanaka, who was present, said it was the JVP which led opposition to the Sampur coal power plant, while SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam noted that the JVP led many “Anti-Adhani” protests over the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port. “I suppose Anura will have nothing but praise for comrade Adhani now,” he added.

Mr. Rajapaksa said he hoped the JVP would no longer come out against Indian investments, adding that it was India that stood with Sri Lanka during the country’s most difficult time. He was talking about Sri Lanka’s most difficult time, economically.


Beaten up for and by the president

Taking part in the adjournment debate on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Policy Statement, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara on Friday blasted the government for what he said were its heavy-handed tactics regarding protests.

He pointed to the SJB’s recent protest in Colombo, where police fired tear gas and water cannon. “Never before has an opposition leader been attacked in this manner,” he said, referring to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa being tear-gassed during the incident. He said tear gas had been fired at least 10 times towards the area where the opposition leader was, and he added that at least 10 SJB supporters were injured. He called on the president to ensure people’s right to protest.

Mr. Madduma Bandara signed off his speech by saying that he had only one thing more to say to the president. “We got beaten up for 25 years because of you,” he said, referring to Mr. Wickremesinghe’s time as the opposition leader. “Now we are being beaten up by you as well,” he added.


Presidential Secretary Saman Ekanayake explaining the importance of the deeds to a farmer

Presidential Secretary wins hearts of farmers at free land deed presentation

President Ranil Wickremesinghe presented 10,000 freehold land deeds to farmers as part of the first phase of the “Urumaya” programme at a ceremony held at the Rangiri Dambulu Stadium this week.

After the ceremony, Presidential Secretary Saman Ekanayake walked around the function venue, speaking to farmers to ensure that all who came got their title deeds. He asked them to check if they had got their plan for their land certified by the Surveyor General.

The President’s Secretary explained to farmers the importance of keeping those documents safely with them.

Those who were present had a good word for the effort made by the country’s topmost public official to take the time to go the extra mile to ensure that their title deeds were in order and briefed them about the importance of keeping them safe.

JVP’s paradox of milk and honey in Amul deal

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who just concluded an official tour of India at the invitation of the Indian Government, visited the factory of Indian dairy giant Amul in the state of Gujarat this week.

Incidentally, the visit took place against the backdrop of reports that Amul is looking to enter into a joint venture with Sri Lanka’s state-owned Milco dairy company under the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB) and obtain the farms coming under the Board on lease. The JVP itself has alleged that there are plans to sell Milco and state-owned dairy farms to Amul.

Even as Mr. Dissanayake visited the Amul factory, former JVP MP and All Island Farmers’ Federation National Organiser Namal Karunaratne was busy conducting the signing of a public petition in Kandy against alleged plans to sell the country’s fertile farmlands to foreign investors.

Mr. Karunaratne told the media that the government had plans to sell 32 NLDB-run farms totalling more than 28,000 acres, Milco Company, 97 milk collection centres, and five dairy factories to Amul for a fraction of their real value. When journalists pointed out that his own leader was in India currently with a party delegation, Mr. Karunaratne said the visit had been undertaken following an official invitation extended by the Indian Government. “That invitation itself is a signal to the world that this country’s next government will be led by the ‘Maalimawa’ (compass),” said Mr Karunaratne, in reference to the symbol of the JVP-led alliance, National People’s Power.

Not surprisingly, the JVP’s political opponents have seized on the matter, accusing the party of hypocrisy and playing a double game to hoodwink
the people.

Dissident leader’s slip of the tongue

During Friday’s adjournment debate, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) dissident MP and Freedom People’s Congress leader Dullas Alahapperuma mistakenly referred to National People’s Power (NPP) MP Prof. Harini Amarasuriya, who was in the Chair, as “Honourable President” instead of “Honourable Chairperson.” He quickly corrected himself.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times. The presidential election is scheduled for later this year. Ironically, Mr. Alahapperuma contested Mr. Wickremesinghe for the presidential election in Parliament in 2022 and lost. The NPP, meanwhile, is confident that it will emerge victorious in the upcoming election. Prof. Amarasuriya being the ‘Honurable President’, however, is somewhat unlikely.

Illegal boat journey to Australia: The story behind free stickers on buses, trains

Banners warning Sri Lankans that travelling to Australia by boat will lead to death have been distributed in the Northern and Eastern provinces for years. However, in recent times, such warnings appear to be endorsed by Sri Lanka’s transport systems too. They are appearing on train carriages, buses, ticket counters and bus halts with the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) logo attached.

SLTB officials confirmed that this year they received 24,000 free stickers from Tequila Advertising for its campaign against sexual harassment in public transport. The price of such free stickers, however, was providing free advertising to Tequila Advertising’s client, the Australian government, with slogans such as “The journey on bus is safe but the journey to Australia via boat will lead to destruction.”

For train carriages, Tequila Advertising paid for the cleaning and painting of unused train carriages in return for the advertising space on trains to Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

Australia has a policy of turning back asylum seekers who attempt to enter Australia by boat.

A bus halt in Mannar displaying an advertisement warning against illegal boat trips to Australia


Chaos at Jaffna concert by maestro Hariharan

Chaos erupted in Jaffna on Friday night during a concert conducted by veteran Indian singer and composer Hariharan at the Muttraveli stadium after a massive crowd surged through the barricades at the venue.

At least five people were injured in the melee as police struggled to control the crowd that showed up at the concert venue. Some of the injured were reported to have fainted after being crushed during the crowd surge.

Police also arrested six people who had behaved in an unruly manner. The situation forced organisers to briefly delay the concert, and it continued without further interruption once police, assisted by Special Task Force personnel, managed to restore order.

Several South Indian actors and actresses also took part in the concert, which attracted large crowds from all over the country.

Hariharan's musical show attracted a huge crowd, though it was marred by chaos due to the crowd surge


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