Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 24 May 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Political Week

* A-G blocks Alles' arrest
* Super-rich young officer
* Smuggled Cabinet paper

President rebukes UPFA Secy Premajayantha

Controversial UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha's double role as a proxy for sidelined former President Mahinda Rajapaksa came into question last week with President Maithripala Sirisena firmly stepping in to respond to Premajayantha's manoeuvres. Last week Premajayantha remarked that the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division would be dissolved under a future UPFA government. This statement gave rise to the impression that the UPFA was against the investigations into bribery and corruption allegations levelled against the top echelons of the previous government.

This statement was contradicted by President Sirisena when he met news media heads for a breakfast meeting last week. The President, who is also the Chairman of the UPFA, said the Police FCID would not be disbanded under his government.

"I am in talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to change the last paragraph of the gazette notification with regard to the Financial Crimes Division. That was the same message I conveyed to the seniors of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. I never promised to disband the FCID,"President Sirisena said during the meeting with media heads. The President's remark came as an embarrassment for Premajayantha.

Ministry Secy removed for 'smuggling in' MR's cabinet paper

Udaya Seneviratne, Secretary to the Ministry of Highways and Investment Promotions, was removed from his position last week by Minister Kabir Hashim when it was revealed that the Secretary was responsible for some serious blunders which, some suspect, may have been deliberate.

It all began when Deputy Minister EranWickramaratne found that that the Secretary had seemingly inserted a Cabinet paper in to Ministry dossier to be presented at the weekly Cabinet meeting without the knowledge of the Minister or the Deputy Minister. The mystery Cabinet paper was about an elevated monorail project for the city of Colombo and it was an "unsolicited" proposal. Interestingly, the Cabinet paper had been prepared when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power. While serving as President, Rajapaksa also held the post of Minister of Highways.

During a meeting of the Economic Affairs Committee at the Temple Trees, Deputy Minister Wickramaratne noticed that there was a "strange" Cabinet paper from his ministry. He immediately contacted his minister, Kabir Hashim, over the phone to ascertain whether he was aware of the Paper. Puzzled by his Deputy Minister's question, Hashim said he had no knowledge of the document. Later they found out that the Secretary of the Minister was responsible for this seeming 'blunder'.

In addition to that, there were several other allegations leveled against the Ministry secretary. Ministry insiders claim that this Ministry Secretary had disregarded instructions of the Minister and Deputy Minister in relation to financial transactions. The Minister and the Deputy Minister then had serious suspicions whether the official was trying to 'undermine' the work of the Ministry which was previously held by the former President.

Super-rich young military officer probed

A privileged member of the Security Forces is now under investigation by anti-corruption bodies over shares purchases worth Rs. 50 million. The young officer, who belongs to a high profile family, had allegedly bought shares when his family was at the helm of the country's politics. Investigators received information last week that the young officer had surreptitiously transferred his shares after his family lost its political clout.

The question is: how did this young officer, whose annual salary amounts to a fraction of that amount, manage to invest Rs. 50 million in the Colombo Stock Exchange?

This comes against the backdrop in which the law enforcement bodies are investigating the ownership of a certain TV channel which was set up as a sports network. The actual ownership of the channel is yet to be revealed.

However, investigations are underway to find out whether a young military officer who had immense political clout was also involved in the ownership of the sports channel. Questions remain as to how the young military officer had great avenues of income over the past five years.

AG's position on Tiran Alles' arrest stuns lawyers

Parliamentarian of the Democratic National Alliance Tiran Alles found himself in hot waters last week in connection with investigations into RADA, an institution he headed under the blessings of the previous regime. It was in the grapevine that the Parliamentarian would be arrested over charges that have been leveled against him. The investigation was handled by the Police Special Investigation Unit and it had already taken steps to arrest Saliya Wickramasuriya, who was the Chief Operating Officer of RADA.

Ahead of a possible arrest, the Parliamentarian filed a Fundamental Rights petition before the Supreme Court seeking to prevent his arrest stating that the government was on a "witch-hunt" against its political opponents. Interesting developments took place at the Police Department and the Attorney General's Department after the Parliamentarian filed his FR petition. In his petition, the Parliamentarian, who "officially" represents the opposition, said there was a move to arrest him as he had close relations with the former President.

After the FR petition was filed, the Police Special Investigations Unit sought IGP N.K. Illangakoon's directions to arrest Tiran Alles as part of the ongoing inquiry into the conduct of the Parliamentarian. However, the IGP was in two minds about the arrest due to the FR petition filed by the Parliament over the same matter. Therefore, the IGP had said that he wanted a clarification from the Attorney General with regard to the arrest the wake of the petition.

The Attorney General's Department prepared its opinion stating that there was no legal impediment to arrest the DNA Parliamentarian despite the petition.

The Supreme Court which took up Alles' case had issued notice on all the respondents, unlike in the matter relating to former Defence Secretary GotabhayaRajapaksa where the court issued an ex parte interim order preventing the arrest of Rajapaksa. The Supreme Court listed Alles' case be heard during the course of next week.

As the Attorney General's Department prepared its opinion the Police Department received notice from the Supreme Court with regard to the Parliamentarian's FR petition.

At this point, the officers representing the Attorney General withdrew their opinion and immediately instructed the Police not to arrest Alles as the Supreme Court had issued notice.

The Attorney General's Department's instruction to the IGP raised the eyebrows of lawyers who were working on the case and as the Attorney General conceded that the 'notice' was powerful enough to prevent the arrest of Tiran Alles.


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