• Truth About the Salawa Ammunition Storage Facility

    Following the fire and explosions at the Salawa Army Camp in Kosgama, a lot of questions are being asked about why such an armoury has been located in a residential area, putting the lives of thousands of residents at risk.

    The decision to establish the armoury at that location was taken by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga during her time in office in her capacity as the Defence Minister. The decision was taken against the advice of military officials and amidst many protests by local residents.

    Having recognised the dangers of this ammunition site, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa directed officials to find an alternate location. Former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa then spearheaded the plans for relocation as a measure towards improving national security. As a result, the amount of fire power at the site was considerably reduced and taken to a site in Weyangoda that was more appropriate for their storage. Furthermore, alternate lands were identified in Rambewa and Oyamaduwa for the storage of the remainder of the ammunition. Had this plan been followed through by the new Government, this incident could have been easily prevented. Even if an accident had occurred, it most definitely would not have put the lives of residents in danger.

    While the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) should investigate into any possible criminal activity, the Army should also conduct its own independent investigation to determine where there may have been a breach in national security and how such incidents can be prevented in the future.

  • Government Removes Military From Former President Rajapaksa’s Security Detail

    The Government this morning removed a significant number of military personnel from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s security detail and replaced them with police officers.

    What possible justification could there be for jeopardizing the security of the only leader who defeated terrorism in this country, particularly at a time when national security is threatened for the first time since 2009, in addition to the unbelievable increase in underworld crimes?!

    It is particularly surprising that this Government would take this decision even as former LTTE members have started agitating again. Consider just few of the recent developments:
    1. Just this past weekend, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “revealed that the Government was inquiring into the possibility of those who had been taken into custody recently making an attempt to establish a new terrorist group” (Island, May 1).
    2. A couple of weeks ago, a suspicious man was found loitering around the former President’s new political office. He was handed over to the Police by Mr. Rajapaksa’s security team.
    3. In March, the Police discovered a suicide vest, claymore mines and explosives in Chavakachcheri.
    4. The number of murders, shootings and other underworld crimes during the past year are too many to list here.
    President Maithripala Sirisena had earlier stated that no other official is given military protection, and that is the reason for removing the military personnel from Mr. Rajapaksa’s security detail and replacing them with police officers. But what President Sirisena conveniently forgets is that there has only been one leader who has defeated and eliminated terrorism from this country. The military personnel in Mr. Rajapaksa’s security detail are highly trained and have provided security to Mr. Rajapaksa throughout the duration of his Presidency, much of it during the height of the war.

    By replacing highly-experienced security personnel of a war-time leader with lesser-experienced ones, the Government is sending a strong message. It is now abundantly clear that the motive of this Government is to put Mahinda Rajapaks’s life at risk, not protect it.

  • I Have Not Had Any Meetings with President Sirisena, Formal or Informal.

    January 24, 2016

    I am writing to set the record straight about the claim in the Sunday Times Political Column (of Jan. 24) of an “informal meeting” between President Maithripala Sirisena and myself some weeks ago.

    This entire section of the column is inaccurate. President Sirisena and I have not held any talks as the newspaper claims. The last time I met the President was in Parliament during the meeting he had with the whole of the Joint Opposition. I am confident that the President, too, will attest to this fact.

    When an otherwise credible and respected newspaper makes blatantly false reports such as this, it not only tarnishes the image of the President and Parliamentarians, but it also misleads the public.

  • Lawlessness Victimizing the Public

    There is little doubt that criminal activity in this country has drastically increased in recent months. The underworld has risen once again. And just this year, we have seen an unusual number of rapes, murders and shooting incidents.

    While all societies have to deal with some criminal activity, the incidents of recent months have gone to show that our law enforcement does not appear to be as vigilant or properly equipped as it used to be. Two incidents that took place in September alone are cases in point.

    The Police have clearly mishandled the recent case of the gruesome rape and murder of the five-year-old child. The initial haphazard arrests that were made appear to have been made without adequate investigation. On the one hand, the teenager who was initially arrested has been further remanded. Meanwhile, another suspect has allegedly confessed to the crime. If the latter is proven to be true, then the life and future of a second innocent child has been completely destroyed.

    Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, has stated that what happened to this teenager was a grave injustice.

    “The rights of the 17-year-old boy have been violated by his unjustifiable arrest,” Dr. Mahanamahewa said, speaking to the Daily Mirror. “Police may arrest people as long as there is sufficient evidence against them. The arrest of the student raises the doubts as to whether he was arrested after due investigation.”

    Lanka Teachers’ Union Secretary Joseph Stalin had also condemned the police treatment of the suspects in custody as being unacceptable.

    “As soon as the suspects were arrested, the Police acted as if the suspects had already been convicted,” Mr. Stalin said. “One precious life has already (been) lost, and another life is being subjected to Police injustice.” [http://goo.gl/rJ4NWE]

    Then there is the shooting incident that occurred inside the premises of the Kaduwela Magistrate Court, which is equally troubling. It goes to show that the Police are unable to maintain law and order even in places where criminals are brought – places that are supposed to be the most secure.

    With heinous crimes on the increase, the Government is still preoccupied with investigating my family. What this clearly shows is that the Government is desperately trying to shift the public’s attention away from the serious challenges this country is now facing.

    The question now is why enough resources are not being invested to upgrade our Police service to adequately equip them in handling the serious crimes that are taking place in this country. Is spending public funds to seek personal revenge more important and more justifiable than upholding the safety and justice of Sri Lanka’s public? Sadly, that seems to be the case.

  • Thank You to All My Supporters

    I would like to thank all my supporters from the Hambantota District for their tremendous support at the 2015 General Election. Not only have you put your trust in me and returned me to Parliament to speak on your behalf, but you have given me a massive mandate with the highest number of preferential votes of any candidate in the district, and I thank you.

    I most humbly and gratefully accept your decision and promise to listen to your grievances and commit fully to representing you and your families.

    I know that many people around the country were surprised at the outcome of the General Election results in Hambantota. I know there are many who thought that my political life and my political future was solely dependent on having a father who was President. Others felt that I would not be able to successfully compete with Sajith Premadasa, and perhaps even that I needed lessons in doing politics.

    The people have spoken. Even though there were numerous forces against us, trying to discredit me and my family, the people of Hambantota stood by me.

    I honestly believe that this result was possible because I did not get involved in the fight for preferential votes. Realizing the uphill battle the United People’s Freedom Alliance was fighting, all my efforts went toward obtaining votes for the party. And I think, in Hambantota, this strategy worked.

    Although the overall results were not what we had hoped for, we respect the great democratic traditions of this country. Sri Lanka is faced with a number of crucial matters from the economy and national security to stalled development and troubled foreign relations. As a Parliamentarian, my focus is now on representing the interests of the people of Hambantota in our national affairs and policies.

    I know there are those who support my work during the past few years and others who do not. Whichever side you may be on, I invite you to share your ideas with me. There are always ways in which all parliamentarians can improve our service to the people. I look forward to engaging more and more with the youth of this country and look forward to hearing from you.