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Sunday, 14 June 2015

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Behind Closed Doors:

Strange figures at rallies in Colombo, Matara ...

1990 Police massacre commemorated?

It was on June 12, 1990, that over 600 police officers were massacred in the Eastern Province following a horrific turn of events. The incident was widely dubbed by many analysts as one of the gravest crimes during the 30-year-long war in Sri Lanka. Fingers were pointed at the then LTTE military leader in the North for this cold-blooded massacre.

In an interesting turn of events, on the day of the 25th commemoration of this massacre, a rally was held in Matara by a group of die-hard patriots who happened to be Rajapaksa supporters. The speeches at the rally were characterised with patriotic rhetoric and the speakers stressed the importance of defeating the present Government which, according to them, was gravitating towards the pro-LTTE diaspora jeopardising the hard-earned war victory. At the forefront of the rally was Karuna Amman who was no stranger to people in the Eastern province at the height of the Eelam war.

Probably, that's why ex-'terrorist' Karuna opted to take part in the 25th commemoration of the massacre of 600 policemen.

Family orientations

There was a Minister from the hill country who headed a ministry near Battaramulla, in the vicinity of the Diyawanna complex. Since 'serving the family' became the hallmark of the country's administration over the past 10 years, the minister too appointed one of his sisters to a top post in his ministry. At the same time, the Minister also secured a diplomatic posting for his sister as he thought she was too competent to stick to one position. So, this strange sister handled two important positions simultaneously, switching roles quite effectively.

Apart from this family-serving tradition, the minister also learnt another important lesson from the top echelons of the regime of that time. Just before the last Presidential election, his ministry had purchased stationery worth Rs. 9 million for the ministry. It was later revealed that the actual value of the stationery stood at Rs. 4 million and the rest of the money disappeared into thin air!

And today, this politico is at the forefront of the "Bring Back Mahinda" campaign - where else?

FCID homeless?

The much-talked-about Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) is on the verge of becoming homeless.

The FCID, which is now at the centre of a controversy over its legality, occupies a building at Carlwill place, Colombo 3. The spacious building, which was previously the office of senior ministers, is owned by a businessman in Colombo.Despite the agreement between the two parties, the businessman has now asked for the building, plunging the Police FCID into a difficult situation. Although the circumstances leading to the businessman's request are not clear, the development had taken place against a backdrop where the FCID expedited investigations on several top figures of the previous regime.Of course there are dots and they can be connected.

Strangers in the Park

A few hours before the special Cabinet meeting last Monday, President Maithripala Sirisena chaired a public meeting at the Vihara Maha Devi Park to draw public support for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. It looked as if the meeting was organised by the United People's Freedom Alliance of which President Sirisena is the Chairman.

Some interesting figures took part in this meeting much to the surprise of the crowd gathered at the park. Among them was MP Duminda Silva who, at one point, was the Monitoring MP of the Defence Ministry under its all-powerful Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Silva was under scrutiny in the recent past due to various allegations and it appeared as if he had suddenly become a staunch supporter of electoral reforms and democratic governance. It was clear that some UPFA seniors were not pleased with Silva's presence at the meeting and they did not give him any attention at all.

Another interesting person who was seen hovering at the Vihara Maha Devi Park was businessman A.S.P. Liyanage, the man who offered his mansion to the former President out of sheer compassion. He changed his mind after he was questioned by the CID and today he has turned himself into a die-hard campaigner for the 20th Amendment.

Udaya Seneviratne, former Secretary of Highways and Investment Promotions Ministry who was removed from office over a controversial Cabinet paper and other alleged shortcomings on his part, had written a letter to the Secretary to the President, explaining his side of the story. The former Secretary had told the Secretary to the President it was through the Sunday Observer that he got to know the alleged "offences"? he had 'committed'. Seneviratne, in his letter, had said he was not even aware of the allegations levelled against him and he did not have any connection with the controversial Cabinet paper about a monorail project? in Colombo.

That mono-rail project

A monorail, as the name itself indicates, is a mode of transport that should come under the purview of the Ministry of Transport. It never was a subject that came under the purview of the Ministry of Highways and Investment Promotions. If it was in a dossier the Ministers received, they should have had the wisdom to properly investigate how, from where and by whom it was originated rather than making the Ministry Secretary responsible for the same, as the Secretary's letter says. Seneviratne also charges that an attempt had been made to portray him as a Rajapaksa loyalist although he has no special allegiance to the former President.

"What is important here is that the Secretary can never submit a Cabinet paper on his own if it is not signed by the Minister. It is regretted that both the Minister and his deputy had not given due consideration to these facts when blaming their Secretary,"?Seneviratne argues.

While categorically denying claims of not following financial instructions issued by the Minister, the former Secretary said he followed proper financial procedures in the disbursement of funds.The former Secretary's letter to the President has also been copied to the Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion and his deputy. Informed sources at the Ministry told the Sunday Observer on Friday that the Ministry was formulating a response to the former Secretary's letter.

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