18 April, 2021

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Easter Sunday CoI Report & The SLFP Dilemma! 

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Talk of the town is currently centered on the recently released Presidential Commission Report on the Easter Sunday terrorist attack of 21st April 2019. After much dilly-dallying and drift the COI report has been tabled in parliament and is now open to be viewed by all and sundry. Before the release it passed through a few noteworthy wayposts, some discreetly discussed. The COI report was referred to a committee of politicos creating a rumpus with accusations of ostensible attempts to shelve it further for some unknown pursuit. Reportedly, it was also subject to certain behind the scene maneuvers by those who feared and anticipated adversities forthcoming. But the pressure built up from decisive sources for its early release made it happen in the end.

Many have not yet had proper access to the report. Therefore, it is difficult to apprehend the propriety of certain comments made about the contents and the intents of those making such remarks. However, scrutiny indicate that many utterances against the report are either self-centered or highly tainted with ulterior motives. Hence an unprejudiced review is the most desired in the context.

Our history of Commission Reports is not very cheerful. COIs and similar bodies established by successive Sri Lankan governments have been ineffective and deeply deficient in terms of their mandate, functions and independence. As many have previously commented, such mechanisms have largely been partisan stratagems for punishing political opponents or for shielding perpetrators and institutions from responsibility. But not all. This Commission has a uniqueness in that it was appointed during one regime, continued its deliberations through it for some time and finally concluded during the period of a successive government. The other distinctiveness of this report is that it is smeared with unfavorable references to its’ originators.   

A short history of Commissions in our country

We could trace a few to refresh our memories.

The first important footprint recorded in our history is the appointment of the “Solebury Commission” on 5th July 1944, under the British rule in response to an initiative by  a group of patriots headed by Right Hon. D.S. Senanayake, for the establishment of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. This marked an important milestone in the struggle launched by our people towards the achievement of Independence to the country.

Following the eventful regime change that took place in the country in 1977, President JR Jayewardene established a Commission of Inquiry, under a warrant dated 29th march 1978, about the alleged abuse of emergency powers, corruption and nepotism by Mrs. Bandaranaike and some of her ministers and officials. The ex-prime minister applied for a writ to the Appeal Court to restrain the commission from proceeding against her, stating that under the Constitution, as prime minister, she was answerable only to Parliament. The Appeal Court held with madam Bandaranaike and the commission became defunct. But then events took a new turn. The Government brought in an amendment to the Special Presidential Commissions Act giving retrospective power to the commission, re-validating all past proceedings before it and declaring the Appeal Court’s order null and void. What transpired thereafter is part of the history now. It resulted in depriving the civic rights of former Prime Minister Sirmavo Bandaranaike, Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike and few other officials.

This was followed by few other Commissions which were considered as highly controversial by the Public during the tenure of the J.R. regime.

The commission which examined an infamous coup d’état, ‘nicknamed’ the ‘lavatory coup’ ended up by imprisoning several convicted to jail sentences including most venerable Henpitagedara Gnanaseeha thero;

Investigation into the alleged conspiracy to assassinate H.E. the President and planned violence on 20/10/1982 against Vijaya Kumaratunga and others following the first presidential election of the country;

Commission appointed by president Chandrika Bandaranaike to “inquire into the establishment and maintenance of places of unlawful detention and torture chambers at the Batalanda housing scheme”. Hon Leader of the opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe was summoned before this commission;

In February 1996, President Chandrika Bandaranaike appointed another Presidential Commission to Inquire into the Assassination of Vijaya Kumaratunga;

More recently, the Commission of inquiry appointed to examine the Central Bank Bond Scam;

And the Commission of Inquiry established by the Yahapalana Government to inquire into the allegations of Bribery, Corruption and misuse of public property by Ministers , MPs and officials of the Rajapaksa regime;

Are some of the commissions which received unprecedented attention of the General Public with wide publicity given to the proceedings by the media.

The JVP uprise in 1971 is another event in the history of this country which attracted highest public attention. It was adjudicated under a specially set up Criminal Justice Commission. All knew that the incidents involved bomb attacks, destruction of public property, killing of civilians and service personnel including their family members, attacks launched on several police stations using bombs and fire arms and rebels holding power in certain areas of the country (eg. Elpitiya police area kingdom of the JVP) until liberated by state forces. There was wide spread speculation that some foreign force was behind this uprise. However, when it was finally subdued and suppressed after the arrest and annihilation of several, there was no cry to locate or trace any master minds or foreign financiers behind. It was accepted as a home grown struggle influenced by international politics but with no direct hands behind.

All these Commissions ended up with no semblance of any master minds behind being detected. There was also no hue and cry for such a requirement. 

We also witnessed how the much sought- after Bond Scam report vaporized into thin air due to a highly technical objection raised by TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiram, when it was due to be tabled in parliament, for the want of a mandatory Tamil Translation. To date the matter rests there. Lists of names of bribe takers, receivers of high value gratifications from the culprits have gone down the drain to be forgotten for ever. Both government and opposition seem to have entered into an understanding bartering to mutually agree to suppress two highly controversial commission reports affecting both sides.

Easter Sunday COI report highlights

In the light of this historical background let us take a critical look at the Easter Sunday COI.  

When the bomb attack of 21st April 2019 took place there was no President OR a Defense Minister present in the country. Not even in an acting capacity.

The Defense Secretary appointed by the President claims that he had no direct access to the President or he has been distanced from the President to an extent that there was hardly any communication between them. The National Security Council was not meeting regularly. According to the COI report, the NSC has met only on 4 occasions during a period of 6 months preceding the easter Sunday attack. (between 30-10 -2018 and 22-4-2019) 

Although the Defense Secretary claims that the President and He were hardly talking to each other, records indicate the following highly incredible exceptional entrusting of responsibilities to Hemasiri Fernando (defense secretary) during this period.

Fernando was appointed as the Defense Secretary by the President on 30-10-2018.When he was appointed to this post he was also serving as the Chairman of Peoples Bank where he continued until his resignation in April 2019.He was the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Secretariat till 7th Nov 2018.He served as the Chairman of the BOI till March 2019.He was also the Chairman of Railway Museum committee. (extracts from the COI report)

Isn’t this state of affairs highly unusual and incredible? And it is all the more intriguing how a person holding so many vulnerable, sensitive high posts be kept at a distance from reach by the President?  

History of the events preceding the appointment of the COI too pose many questions. President Sirisena who returns to the country from Singapore after the Easter Sunday Attack decides to appoint a three member committee to advise on the best course of action needed to be taken in this regard headed by Presidents Counsel and Judge Vijitha Malalgoda. This committee recommends the appointment of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

While this is pending the parliament decides to appoint a Parliament Select Committee to investigate the matter. It also decides that the proceedings of this PSC should be made open to the media so that the people get first- hand information live, while the  sittings of the PSC  proceed. MPs of several parties including JVP, UNP and TNA are appointed to this. Inquiry commences. Parties are summoned before the PSC and its members question them. Although the PSC announced and agreed to release the proceedings live at some stage they question the witnesses in camera. A senior police officer is questioned at a place outside the parliament for several hours. Public watch it as a mock trial of some sort. After several days of meeting the PSC concludes its sittings but with no conclusive indication of the back ground, master mind or any external sources responsible. However, the PSC painted a picture to indicate that names of certain political figures in the government strongly conjectured by the public to have had some connections to the incident are not responsible.

It is in this back ground that the President Sirisena  appointed the COI. A Public notification along with a Gazette notification is published in the media announcing the appointment of the COI and calling for Public representations and information. Notice reads as follows;

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE AND INQUIRE INTO AND REPORT OR TAKE NECESSARY ACTION ON THE BOMB ATTACKS ON 21st APRIL 2019.

The Notice sets out the frame work of the investigation process and the purview of the COI under 13 headings. Basically they deal with the public views, complaints information and other materials against public servants /officers or other persons who were or are working or any other persons who are alleged to have direct or indirect connections to the bomb explosion that took place on 21st April 2019 ;

To hold prompt, impartial, complete investigations and inquiries regarding complaints, information;

To identify persons and organizations wo are directly or indirectly connected to these terrorist acts;” 

COI started its work on 1st October 2019. The task of the COI was slightly affected due to the Presidential Election which was followed by the general Election and the pandemic situation in the country. One of the important steps followed by the COI during the Inquiry is to physically visit  places for a better understanding of the evidence.

The COI report has highlighted the critical build up phase of an Islamic Extremism that developed in the country during the period 2016 to 2019 and the complete breakdown of the security situation paving the way for the extremist elements to freely propagate their missions with hardly any resistance.

Following excerpts from the COI report will help understand the underlying factors, development of the movement and the highly questionable role of the authorities in their failure to curb and arrest these activities.

* According to SIS records about 38 Sri lankans had proceeded to Syria by July 2015. (page 71)

* Persons carrying flags resembling IS flags have lead protests in kattankudy area. The person who led this protest is alleged to be a member of the SLFP having close links to M.L.A.M.Hisbullah (71)

* On 18th Nov .2016 hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice made a speech in parliament highlighting facts about Sri Lankans with IS connections (page 72)

* On 19th Nov.2016, Minister Rauf Hakeem during his speech in parliament questioned on what information was the statement about spread of Islam extremism was made (page 73)

* Minister Rishad Bathiudeen speaking on the same day stated that there is no connection between Islam and IS and that Muslims never believe in arms and that if anyone is assisting a terrorist organization like the IS , the whole Muslim community will jointly rise against it. (73)

* On 22-11-2016 MP Mujiber Rahuman made a scathing attack on Minister Rajapakse and accused him of trying to drag the country to extremism and make it a blood bath by creating racism. (73)    

The highly politicized approach displayed by our legislators has contributed in a big way towards the precipitation of the eventful happenings. The First volume of the report has outlined factually determined material, on the basis of evidence before the COI. A careful study of these will help the Public understand the background and the factual situation underlying the episode. I wish to deal in detail with some of the highly relevant disclosures in a continuation of this write up as it is too lengthy to be covered in one article.  

*To be continued..

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Latest comments

  • 5
    3

    I don’t know how many Commissions of Inquiry appointed to find the truth behind many incidences including the burning of Jaffna Library to suicide attack of on Easter Bombing, most of them are waste of money and to take revenge against their political opponents or to cover up the truths. It is also similar to what we have seen in the judiciary decisions towards and against the same crime and same person. Even though the recent PCoI was appointed by the former President, the outcome would have been different if he continued in power and I am sure there is a major input in the current report from the current President.

    • 11
      3

      Dear Rusiripala, please do not beat around the bush.
      If you find answers to the following questions, you will get at the culprits.
      1. Who benefited from the bombings – individuals, agencies, countries etc..
      2. Who are those who gave financial and logistical support to bombers.
      3. Who made an organisation formed to take revenge on Buddhists to change course.
      There is a concerted attempt by Chinese agents like JVP members and Pakistani agents like Muslim politicians, to distract the truth by implicating RAW. When Tamils were told by RAW and CIA not to rock the government despite being cheated, why should RAW do such thing.
      That hypocrite Cardinal Ranjith who blamed Tamils for demanding to take war criminals to ICC, now wants to take this matter to ICC to get justice.

      • 3
        8

        “Chinese agents like JVP members”
        Is GS back to fiction writing?
        *
        “When Tamils were told by RAW and CIA not to rock the government ….”
        (BTW, ‘rock’ mostly mean to move something gently to and fro. “Rock the boat” is idiom for disturbing equilibrium. Rock can also mean a violent motion like by an earthquake, but rarely used to mean shaking up something.)
        When did Tamils receive instructions not to “rock” the government? I wonder which government, as each of them cheated.
        Nice to know that they are still in the pay of RAW and CIA.
        *
        Thank you GS for the good laugh after a boring long day.

        • 6
          3

          Sivasegaram, you cannot understand this because of your one track mind. Your were correctly designated by your classmates as a mad fellow.
          Those who gained by this bombing are Gota, Mahinda and China. They are the people who are culprits. Sirisena was drafted into this by China with a promise of giving him a second term. China was behind the failed 2018 coup and planned this. Sirisena is only a facilitator, by preventing investigation and arrest of bombers. It is well known that Mahinda regime funded and supported Muslim extremists to give trouble. Ranil and Ruwan Wijewardena must explain why they continued this practice after 2015. Both of them knew about it and wanted it to happen to lessen UNHCR pressure, and cannot feign innocence.

          • 3
            5

            I admit that I have difficulty in understanding gibberish.
            You have started once again on Sivasergram’s school days. You lied some months ago about how S entered your old school to the joy of some of your followers.,
            I hate to say this, but it is time I said it.
            S had a lot more to show for his short stay there than you with little more than a school tie.
            *
            You make claims without a shred of evidence. (Your Pallava armada fib seems more credible.)
            If anybody has sustained Islamic terrorists from the very start to this day, it is the US, Israel and the treacherous Arab sheiks. There is plenty of evidence for that.

            • 3
              0

              ” Your were correctly designated by your classmates as a mad fellow. ” I could not agree with Dr. ‘s statement. A correct diagnostic of “Mad” goes to a person innocently being mad.
              Once again, please allow me to bring a Tamils News two ago took place in Jaffna. In video clip, a recent Middle East, female, hard labor returnee was beating a one year old baby. There was adult woman lying on the floor, pretending in deep sleep, right in the middle of the epi center. A male voice was hearable “why are you beating him?” The female while beating dragged the baby on the floor, one hand to a room and closed the room. Camera went up to the room stopped there. The media reported the baby was beaten inside the room too. Social Media launched a protest and the female was arrested. The pleaded not guilty because she was because her husband did not sent money from Middle East so she filming the video to send him. Should a judge excuse this woman on the ground of temporary madness she behaved like that?
              Persons purposefully pretending as mad are criminals, stand as candidates to be punished by law.

            • 2
              1

              “I admit that I have difficulty in understanding gibberish.”
              Everything in CT appears to be gibberish because unfortunately or fortunately, CT is not in Tamil or Sinhala for 8th grade readers, but for advanced-educated people, it is in English. It is torture for the elephants walked into the China shop.

              • 2
                1

                “CT is not in Tamil or Sinhala for 8th grade readers, but for advanced-educated people, it is in English.”
                Then what on earth are you doing in CT?

            • 3
              2

              Sivasegaram, I was not a book worm like you, and enjoyed life. In primary school where we were in Tamil medium, I won form prize for all six years. In college school where we were in mixed class with others I could not win a single, but my twin brother won form prizes in three years as he was lucky to be in a weaker class. Both of us have represented our house in cricket, hockey and athletics. I was student chairman of Tamil literary association while my brother was student chairman of Hindu society. My brother was offered the post of editor of college magazine Tamil section, but declined. Because we were twins, we were well known to students of our time.

              • 1
                2

                You are a pathetic liar GS. You tried a fast one to humiliate S, and still lack the decency to admit that you lied shamelessly.
                *
                Even with all your primary school prowesses, S’s record is many fold more impressive than your school tie and the frills.
                *
                “I was not a book worm”– So you remain just a worm?

                • 2
                  0

                  Sivasegaram, I do not tell lies. When I confronted Sunil Abeyratne with details, he admitted that he joined Royal only in May 1965 at A’level and was there for only two years. To challenge one to get at the correct fact is not humiliation. What I said was absolutely true for which I need not apologize to anyone. You are a classic example of an intellectual idiot.

          • 0
            0

            “Those who gained by this bombing are Gota, Mahinda and China. They are the people who are culprits.”
            .
            As I always say Tamil racist donkeys in CT need some coaching in elementary logic.
            .
            Compared to our guys who the f*** is Aristotle?

            Soma

        • 2
          6

          SJ
          Tamil racist donkeys on CT are my main source of humour. They never cease to entertain you.
          .
          On a serious note. SJ, foolish supporters of any cause, be it political, religious or whatever do more harm to that cause than the enemies.

          Soma

  • 7
    1

    Mr. Rusiripala: In your next presentation, could you please tell us “Who” and “Why” the “Suicide Bombers” were in the “Pay Roll” of the Ministry of Defense prior to 2015. Also whether there is any “Reference” and “Inquiry” as to “WHO” granted “25 Acres” to an Islamic Organization to set up an “Islamic University” in the Eastern Province and “HOW” that helped to develop “Extremism” in that province. The general public is keen to find this information PLUS whether the Commission has inquired into that “BACKGROUND”. Thank you.

  • 3
    8

    The president – Mr M Sirisena, The Prime Minister – Mr Ranil Wickremasinha and Deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardena ,should be held responsible for the Easter Sinday debarcle.

    The attorny general should initiate criminial negligance proceedings without delay.

    Mr G Rajapaksa and the pohottuwa came to power on this platform,
    sweeping this under the carpet will ensure the quick exit of pohottuwa (SPFA).
    And loss of public support and confidance .

    • 6
      2

      WK
      Why not demand to make the whole report public to avoid all this shooting in the dark?

      • 3
        4

        1. The PCoI Report cover up report, actually reveals the truth –
        1. The bi-partisan UNP- Pohotuwa, Ranil-Mangala and-US citizen Rajapaksa corruption racket behind the attacks cover up of the fact that the United States, Special Operations Forces, Saudi funds and Isreal propaganda experts was behind the Easter Sunday attacks in order to give USA an excuses to get SOFA and MCC signed in Sri Lanka in order to set up a military base, purportedly to fight ISIS in and protect Christians, but really part of the hybrid war on China and the rise of Asia is clear. Citizens of Sri Lanka are not fools even though their leaders are corrupt to the eyeballs.

        2. The well known intelligence Secret is , that the CIA owns and operates ISIS and its Islamophobi narrative, that the Saudi Embassy that funded Hizbulla , Bathudeen Hakeem and all the rotten Muslim politicians which murdered Jamaal Kashogghi in Istanbul which the CIA report has reaveal – had advanced notice of the attacks,
        that Lankan Police sniffer dogs found US Diplomats with Bomb materials at the JAIC Hilton has been covered up;
        Please read the book: The ISIS is US: the Shocking Truth behind the Army of Terror
        https://www.pdfdrive.com/isis-is-us-the-shocking-truth-behind-the-army-of-terror-e176112847.html

        • 1
          2

          Dinuk/ DRS,
          “The well known intelligence Secret is , that the CIA owns and operates ISIS and its Islamophobic narrative”
          Did they teach you at Princeton that ISIS is Islamophobic?

  • 3
    0

    Mr Tennakoon
    On 5 May Newsfirst.lk reported that, 5 days before the attacks, the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry had sent special instructions to their Ambassador here, advising him (& other Saudi personnel) to destroy documents & avoid gatherings & public places for next few days, especially churches.

    See https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/05/04/special-instructions-from-saudi-arabia-on-easter-attack/

    And a video of a news cast at:
    https://youtu.be/iUQPRv0t7FE

    I wonder if the Presidential Commission was aware of this news report. If so, did it investigate whether the intelligence services came to know about the letter instructing the Ambassador, even after the bombings, & looked into it?

    • 3
      0

      Manel,
      The un-corroborated report you refer to originated from an Iranian- leaning source in Beirut.
      If they in fact did warn their citizens, the simple explanation is that they were aware of the Indian warnings, which our own government ignored. You can’t blame them for doing their job.

      • 1
        0

        Actually, Old Codger, I wasnt blaming them, the Saudis. I was just wondering if the Commission had looked into the story and asked what, in fact, the Saudis knew that caused them to take preventive measures; or if, in fact, their source of information had been the Indian warnings, why had our intelligence service, Defence Ministry, etc., not take similar steps.

        • 1
          0

          Thanks Manuel, I am no fan of the Saudi regime. But some of our media aren’t above making mountains out of molehills.

  • 3
    3

    I have been always wondering how can a Commission sittng in public like a court find culprits of a crime?
    To my understanding it is the police/secret police/CID/ intelligence branch who can do that.
    I expected GR government would mobilise these units effectively to uncover the remaing associates of Zahran.

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      Soma,
      “I have been always wondering how can a Commission sittng in public like a court find culprits of a crime?”
      With Kali Maniyo’s assistance of course.
      The Police too can use the same method and use their time more productively with a few bottles.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Soma:
      As for investigating whether pertinent officials and elected members of the government responsible for overseeing and directing the security mechanisms of the country were negligent in fulfilling those responsibilities, I think a commission is useful in deciphering a more complete picture and provide direction for further investigation and prosecution.

      But the commission needed to be independent of the government and political affiliations. And this really wasn’t an independent commission.

      The commission seems to have been a diversionary farce of this government and an opportunity to coax those deserving of prosecution to show unwavering loyalty to the regime and support the regime’s agenda in exchange for impunity.

      Of course if the police/secret police/CID/ intelligence branch have the expertise to investigate the government bureaucracy to hold government officials and elected members responsible for negligence of duty, then surely a commission wasn’t necessary.

      But unfortunately the police/secret police/CID/ intelligence branch also have a collective political allegiance.

      Cardinal Ranjith may have to go to ICJ.

  • 2
    3

    Of all good theories, the one which says there are devout Muslims who are prepared to blow themselves to smithereens in whole families for the sake of Rajapaksas deserves a Noble nomination.
    .
    This led to believe that Mahinda Rajapaksa has direct contacts with Allah.

    Soma

  • 2
    2

    Funny recommendations! Ultimately suicide bombers are all okay! Bystanders are guilty.

    Sirisena and Ranil are guilty for their omission but they did not bomb anyone.

  • 2
    4

    Biden’s USA is the biggest Rogue State in the World! Please read the book: The United States of War”. by David Vine.
    The US owns and operates 800 military bases all over the world and needs to be prosecuted for countless war crimes, so too UK.
    Please read the book: “Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries who got away with war crimes in Sri Lanka”, by Phil Miller
    Sri Lankans must NOTtlet the CIA get away with the Easter Sunday disaster.
    Ranil Wickreamasinghe and Managala the US puppets and their clown President Sirisena as well as the US citizen Rajapaksa brothers are all responsible for this PCoI Cover up report. But the citizens of Lanka demand justice and accountability from them and their foreign backers. US citizen Basil should be jailed for the MCC DIvineguma project and impeachment of the CJ to advance American terrorism in Lanka.
    UNP, SLFP and SLMP corrupt Muslim politicians who take Saudi-Wahabi -Salafi funds _ particularly Hizbulla who met with Saudi officials soon after the attacks in Passikudha at a luxury hotel and knew Kathankuddi’s Zaharan well must be jailed.

  • 6
    0

    Rusiri says “he is giving us the unprejudiced review on commission report”. Educated buffoons are free to have all the fun, but at their own expense.

  • 5
    0

    Rusiri, how convenient to leave out the most historic commission “lessons unlearned”, which was released to mega audience and was immediately archived by our greatest con artist.

  • 1
    2

    GATAM,

    The suicide bombers escaped the long arm of justice.
    They must be having a goodtime in heaven with the 7 beautiful virgins.

    No point in persuing them now.

    The people who were entrusted with the security of the country should be held accountable as a preventive measure. These humbugs who were more interested in supporting their cronies and getting their cut should be punished without any leaniency at all. (MS, RW, and RW junior)

    • 4
      0

      The suicide bombers did not escaped the justice. Nobody wants to pursue them. But every one wants to know who is Saharan? Who hired Saharan and paid for him (probably Dr.Laksiri may know it)? What was Saharan’s past? How couldn’t our intelligence experts couldn’t know anything about him? Why the intelligence did not take action against Saharan when there was lot of complaints about him in the past? In the past, two police officers were murdered in Batticaloa and immediately two former LTTE were arrested accusing them as murderers. But after Easter Bombing it was claimed that it was Saharan who murdered them. Later Our President said that he knew well that it was not LTTE? How did he know that? Lots of questions are without no answers. Still no one is convicted for the murder of Lasantha which happened in front of a military check point in Colombo. What a surprise?

  • 4
    0

    Rusiri, what a timing. Every time you come here bluffing a report get released contradicting your BS. Today politician Ranjith told press certain people have influenced the commission findings and diverted the inquiry to shield the real culprits. He also said the real mastermind were not identified by the commission. The whole report consist of 65 volumes and cardinal got just ONE. How many volumes did you read, before writing your BS ?? This is what Sircular promised as lawful and moral nation.

  • 1
    0

    Gota is a Bloody humbug,
    Sumanthiran should run for president next time.
    I am sick of bloody Sinhala – You scratch my back I scratch your back buggers.

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