Monday June 25, 2018

Sri Lanka MP ends unique fast-to-death on dextrose

By Our Political Correspondent

Mar 30, 2017 16:05 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's firebrand opposition legislator Wimal Weerawansa on Thursday announced ending his one-of-a-kind "death fast" after hooking himself to a healthy dose of dextrose, or saline, along with other nutrients.

Weerawansa's National Freedom Front (NFF) said he gave up what many saw as a farce after Buddhist monks asked him to stop receiving liquids intravenously and start eating.

Weerawansa refused food or water from nine days ago to protest the failure of the Colombo High Court to grant him bail. Although he had stopped taking solids, he was well fed intravenously via dextrose that kept him hydrated and in good health.

He was arrested by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division on January 10 after being accused of misappropriating and causing a loss of over 90 million rupees to the state by giving away over 40 cars to his kith and kin when he was a minister.

Weerawansa's largesse extended even to his distant relatives who had been given Housing ministry-paid cars, fuel and drivers.

During a recent bail hearing, Weerawansa refused to have a lawyer and argued his case on the basis that if cars had been illegally given to his relatives, it was the responsibility of ministry officials and not his.

He also claimed that his predecessors had been in the habit of giving away state vehicles to their friends and relatives, and that he was only following precedent. The judge refused bail, prompting Weerawansa to stage a "fast" aimed at taking him away from the remand prison and into the prison hospital, and from there to the more comfortable national hospital where he continues to receives visitors.

During a previous death fast of Weerawansa in July 2010 outside the United Nations compound in Colombo, he was photographed with a box of cream biscuits provoking jibes that it was a "lemon puff farce".

He ended that protest three days later after then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa offered him "thambili" (king coconut)  water. Weerawansa was protesting against the then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

However, when Ban visited Sri Lanka in September last year, Weerawansa was conspicuous by his absence.

His critics have accused him of staging a sham fast in order to get out of the remand prison and have a cushier time at the national hospital, and receive guests and well wishers unlike at the Welikada prison.
(COLOMBO, March 30, 2017)


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