Basil expected to enter Parliament soon - SB | Sunday Observer

Basil expected to enter Parliament soon - SB

29 November, 2020

SLPP parliamentarian S.B. Dissanayake said that the golden era of rapid development of the economy took place during the tenure of Basil Rajapaksa as the Minister of Economic Development and he should return to Parliament and lead economic development activities on behalf of the poor people of this country.

He told the media at the SLPP Headquarters on Thursday, November 26 that the cases filed against Basil Rajapaksa on charges of distributing GI pipes, almanacs and roofing sheets were merely filed for political revenge. He said that all these activities have been carried out completely legally through State machinery and that he personally knows about it as he was also involved in it. Government lawmaker Dissanayake hinted that SLPP founder Basil Rajapaksa is likely to enter Parliament during the next Cabinet reshuffle.

Monetary relief

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa called upon the Government to increase the monetary relief provided for the people in ‘locked down’ areas in Colombo. Raising a question under Standing Order 27/2 in Parliament, Premadasa said the Rs. 5,000 relief allowance was not sufficient for a family to survive for a month adding that there are delays in distributing the Rs. 5,000 to the low income families in locked down and isolated areas in Colombo. It is said that the Government will provide a package of essential goods worth Rs. 10,000 to these people as well.

But people in some areas allege that they are yet to receive that package. That is why the people in several areas staged protests on the roads in the past few days,” Premadasa said. He said that the current monetary relief of Rs. 5,000 is not at all sufficient and therefore, it should be increased. He queried whether the Government plans to increase the monetary relief.

Responding to the Opposition Leader, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said, “Our Government will never let the people down. Until the answers are provided to this question, I request Premadasa not to instigate the people. You were speaking about giving Rs. 20,000 for a family even during the election time. But people rejected you.”

Premadasa in reply said, “I am glad that Semasinghe accepted that the Government has no intention to increase monetary relief. Thank you for that.”

State Minister Semasinghe said, “Now, you are twisting what I said to mislead the people. I did not say that we would not increase relief payments. Our Government is a responsible Government. People voted for us because they believe we can protect them. We will not let them down.”

UNP seniors meet

During a recent discussion at the UNP party headquarters, Sirikotha, party seniors had discussed as to how the party reorganisation process should be carried out at rural level next year. When the discussion was going on, a letter signed by party seniors had been handed over to Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe requesting him to accept the UNP National List MP slot.

The meeting chaired by Party Leader Wickremesinghe was attended by Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Ruwan Wijewardene, Vajira Abeywardena, Tilak Marapana, Sagala Ratnayake, Arjuna Ranatunga, John Amaratunga, Anoma Gamage, Daya Pelpola and Sandith Samarasinghe.

During the meeting, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had informed of his decision to quit the party General Secretary post. He had told the party hierarchy that he resigned from the post to give an opportunity to newcomers to hold the mantle.

During the discussion, Kariyawasam had also said that suitable candidates should be appointed to fill the vacancies in the party and that he had resigned to pave the way to appoint a new person to the post of General Secretary.

However, as a senior member of the party, he had said that he would do his utmost to make the party reorganisation program a success. It is reported that the appointments to the new posts of the party will be made in January next year. However, the UNP’s leadership issue remains unresolved, with Ruwan Wijewardene appointed as Deputy Leader and embattled long-time Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe still holding on to his position, in spite of losing his electoral seat and many requests from within the party to step down.

New Cabinet appointment

Rear Admiral (Rtd) Sarath Weerasekara was sworn in as the Cabinet Minister of Public Security while Chamal Rajapaksa was sworn in as the State Minister of State Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management before President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday, November 26.

In accordance with the revision of subjects under Ministries on November 20, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Technology have been bought under the purview of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. A media release issued by the President’s Media Division stated, “The 21st century is considered as the knowledge-centric century.

To make this a reality Saubhagya Dekma Policy Statement envisages to build a technology-based society. All economic sectors including agriculture, industry and services will become technology dependent in the future.

The Government seeks to integrate investment in education with economic sectors to create a society armed with new technology in the 21st century. The President hopes to build a culture of technological innovation that will enhance the living standards of the people.”


Former President Maithripala Sirisena told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks that a powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) Leader Zaharan Hashim.

He said, “I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of the NTJ as a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave.”

Former President Sirisena said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians. He said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the Yahapalana administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans.

The former President said, “However, this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand.”

He said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years and they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Former President Sirisena said although he had taken the Ministry of Law and Order in the last stages of the Yahapalana Government, he had been unable to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years.

Trilateral maritime dialogue

On Friday, November 27, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and also met Defence Secretary Major Gen (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne to further advance bilateral cooperation which contributes to peace and security in the region.

Doval said strategies to boost the economy and move towards development with other countries in the region should be identified. Recalling that housing schemes have been implemented in the North, the East, and the Central Hills with the assistance of the Government of India, the Prime Minister requested assistance to initiate such housing projects centered in the South.

Doval said the Indian Government will provide support for this effort as well. At the meeting, it was agreed to launch a state-of-the-art drinking water supply project in Sri Lanka, a project which was first initiated in India as per the vision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Doval arrived on Friday for the trilateral maritime dialogue among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Sri Lanka held the fourth national security advisor trilateral meeting on maritime security cooperation with India and the Maldives on November 27 and 28.

The meeting took place after six years – the last meeting was held in New Delhi in 2014. Doval also met Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne and they agreed on several measures to further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries which also contributes to peace and security in the region.

Budget debate

Joining the Budget debate in Parliament, SJB Parliamentarian Manusha Nanayakkara accused the Government of cracking the whip on media outlets that are critical of their administration. He said, “Journalists have been barred from covering parliamentary sittings from the legislature.”

Nanayakkara accused the Government of attempting to indirectly threaten media institutions, citing a circular issued by the President’s Secretary on preventing state advertisements from being given to private media. “We wish to clearly state that the Government is trying to implement these laws as part of a witch-hunt against media institutions that they don’t like.”

However, Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella denied the MP’s claims and said that the Government will work to protect and uplift media outlets.

He said, “We hope to set up 25 media schools in the country. We embarked on this initiative in the North and will implement the project in other parts of the country during the coming years.”

Minister Rambukwella said that it was during Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration which presented laptops to journalists and financial grants for higher education purposes from 2010 to 2015. SLPP parliamentarian Prof. Charitha Herath accused the former Yahapalana Government for neglecting State media institutions to the extent up to which they had incurred massive losses. Prof. Herath said, “We must admit that all Governments have acted in a favourable and unfavourable manner towards the media.”

Minister Wimal Weerawansa said it was ironic that the Digital Infrastructure Minister of the former Yahapalana who failed during his tenure to provide internet facilities through a Google balloon, is now criticising President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government’s digitisation program. Joining the Third Reading of the Budget, he said that Cabinet has already approved many proposals to assist the government’s program to digitise the country.

Missing tabs

He said those papers were presented to Cabinet to create an environment to enable the implementation of the budget proposals next year.

Weerawansa said that Harin Fernando, throughout his speech, hinted that former President Maithripala Sirisena and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam during their tenure were behind his failure as the Digital Infrastructure Minister.

“However, it would be great if he could explain about the tabs that were stolen during his tenure.”

The Minister said, however, Fernando’s suggestion to set up a task force to implement the Government’s digitisation program was constructive and welcomed it.

He said that although the Opposition has complained that the allocations to the Defence Ministry are higher for the next year, they have deliberately forgotten the fact that many additional heads have been assigned to the Defence Ministry as well.

Hostile forces

He said that the public brought the President and Prime Minister to power because it was they who defeated the LTTE in 2009. Many hostile forces were active during the previous Government; the Easter Sunday attacks were testament to that. The former Government attempted to ink the MCC agreement as well. However, this Government precluded them.

SJB parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake in a hard-hitting speech denounced politicians who loot State coffers. “A hero never pillages the people,” the SJB frontliner said, joining the debate on the 2021 budget in Parliament. Ramanayake queried on the progress of the investigations on claims by Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage on the “top-ten” frauds involving the former Yahapalana Government.

He said, “I am on the side of those involved in catching culprits. But what has happened to the people involved in the so-called top-ten crimes?” the parliamentarian asked. He said that the Government has set up a Presidential Commission to probe incidents of political victimisation to favour their supporters.