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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka journalist’s residence attacked; says too early to pinpoint possible culprit

ECONOMYNEXT –A prominent Sri Lankan journalist, whose residence came under attack in the early hours of Monday (14) days ahead of an important UN human rights session, said police investigations are under way and that it’s too early to point to any one party that might have had cause to attack him.

Chamuditha Samarawickrama, considered a firebrand media personality with a large online following on top of a TV career going back over two decades, told EconomyNext on Monday that, around 2.10 in the morning, a group of four men had forced their way into the gated community he lives in in Piliyandala.

“They had held the security guard at gun point and left one of them behind to keep an eye on him, while the rest of them walked over to my place and pelted rocks and pots of faeces at our house,” said Samarawickrama.

The journalist said he and his family got woken up by the sound of what might have been a gunshot, followed by the sound of rocks hitting his roof.

Shattered windowpanes and pots and bags of faeces were everywhere, he said.

CCTV footage, now being examined by Piliyandala police, had shown the three men had come in full-face helmets and towels wrapped around their faces to conceal their identity, said Samarawickrama.

Samarawickrama has been courting controversy with a series of explosive interviews published on his YouTube channel ‘Truth with Chamuditha’.

His latest videos include one with the leader of the Ape Janabala Pakshaya, who had levelled allegations against controversial Buddhist monk Galabadaththe Gnanasara thero. The monk now heads a task force appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa named ‘One Country, One Law’.

Another video interview with Chandimal Jayasinghe, the Sri Lankan franchise holder for the Mrs World pageant, had racked up over 350,000 views. In the video, Jayasinghe had made some remarks about Pushpika de Silva, who recently lost her Mrs Sri Lanka for Mrs World title, the culmination of a widely publicised scandal that erupted last year when her crown was forcibly taken off at the 2021 Mrs Sri Lanka pageant.

Asked if he suspects anyone for the attack, Samarawickrama said it’s too early to tell.

“It’s still early. We have made videos on various issues. It’s hard to say at this point who might be behind it,” he said.

The attack on Samarwickrama’s residence comes days ahead of the next United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session where Sri Lanka’s human rights record is expected to be taken up. Sri Lanka has been facing increased international pressure to address alleged past human rights violations including attacks on the media. (Colombo/Feb14/2022)

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Sri Lanka bonds yields up while T-bills ease

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers

 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

 

 

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