By SHIHAR ANEEZ
Amid rising geopolitical concerns, fifteen young ruling coalition members including parliamentarians have left for China on a familiarization tour on the invitation of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the island nation’s participants said.
Five members from President Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP) and 10 from former president Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) have left the country for a 9-day tour which includes visiting two Chinese provinces.
The move is likely to raise more concerns as both India and the United States are keenly watching the moves by China to keep their influence in Sri Lanka, political analysts say. China is one of the biggest lenders to Sri Lanka after the end of a 26-year war ended in 2009 amid criticism that Beijing’s loans have led the island nation to the current unprecedented economic crisis and sovereign debt default.
India and the US have raised concerns over increasing influence of China in Sri Lanka and raised questions over Beijing’s possible intention of establishing military base in the island nation where they own a port in the deep southern district of Hambantota and a Port City in a reclaimed land next to main port in Colombo.
Beijing’s familiarization tours are not unusual as China has offered the same for influential people, professionals, and journalists in the past. The participants in the current tour are some of the young politicians who are aspiring to become legislators in the future.
The group will be in Kunming in the Yunnan province for three days until Saturday where the visitors will meet provincial CPC officials, participate in a seminar on “experience of targeted poverty alleviation and rural revitalization based on local characteristics”, and visit some model villages and modern agricultural base.
During the rest of the tour, the Sri Lankan politicians will visit Fujian province and the capital Beijing. They are scheduled to participate in a seminar in Fujian on high quality Belt Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation and opportunities of development for regional countries.
Sri Lanka is one of the strategic Chinese partners in the BRI and most of the island nation’s Beijing-funded infrastructure comes under the BRI, Sri Lankan government officials have said.In Beijing, the Sri Lankans will meet experts of the CPC Central Committee.
Sri Lankan legislators D V Chanaka and Nipuna Ranawaka, a nephew of former president Rajapaksa have represented the SLPP.Following are the other members in the SLPP delegation which has left to China according to the official document signed by the party secretary: Milinda Rajapaksa (former local councilor/ Director at Media Center for National Development), Ravindra Samarawickrama (senior lecturer), Udara Wijesinghe (Chairman – Cashew Corporation), Kanishka Bandara (LLB, London), Sudarma Kulathunga (journalist), Sudima Chandani (Secretary, federation of Local Government Authorities), Thambirajah Thajeevaran, and Gorakapitiyage Chaminda Aruna Shantha.
From the UNP, former state minister Ruwan Wijewardena, Eranthi Ranga Bandara, Jeyaraj Vishnuraj, Sajana Sooriyaarachchi, and Duminda Attygala have joined the delegation.The delegation will return to Sri Lanka on April 28. (Economynext)
Report on child protection delivered to President
The Committee appointed to Study and Make Recommendations for the Protection of Children handed over their comprehensive report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday (03) evening.
This committee was established on April 19, 2023, to study and provide recommendations for the protection, care and overall welfare of children who have been subjected to various forms of violence within Sri Lanka.
Over the course of nearly five months, the committee conducted 21 meetings to gain an in-depth understanding of the existing issues and to formulate practical recommendations. The committee comprised a diverse group of members, including representatives from institutions such as Children Homes, Remand Homes, Certified Homes, Child Development Centres, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions & Associations, Principals of Schools, Civil Society Organizations, Telecommunication and Digital Service Providers, Telecommunication Regulators, Digital Crime Security Experts, Lions Club, Rotaract Club, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Colleges of Medicine, Solicitors General from the Attorney General’s Department, National Child Protection Authority, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Family Health Bureau, Foreign Employment Bureau, Sri Lanka Women’s’ Bureau and officials from the Ministries in charge of Women & Children and Education.
The report, which was completed and submitted to the President yesterday, addresses a wide range of issues concerning child protection, including issues related to institutionalized environments, lack of parental care, family separation, digital media exposure, child labour and more. The committee also evaluated the adequacy of existing institutional, administrative and legal safeguards for child protection, aiming to meet the demands of modern society.
Furthermore, the report explores strategies to enhance the physical and mental health of children who have experienced various forms of violence, abuse and neglect. It also delves into the concerning trend of children engaging in violent acts and seeks innovative approaches for community participation in child care initiatives
Landslide Early Warnings Issued to Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts extended
The landslide early warnings issued by the landslide early warning center of the National Building Research Organisation to the districts of Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts have been extended untill 1630 hrs today.
Level II landslid early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Neluwa in the Galle district, Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, Pasbage Korale in the Kandy district, Kotapola and Pitabeddara in the Matara district, Ayagama, Kuruwita, Pelmadulla, Nivithigala, Kiriella, Ratnapura, Elapatha, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana in the Ratnapura district.
Level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Seethawaka in the Colombo district, Elpitiya in the Galle district, Walasmulla in the Hambanthota district, Mathugama, Buathsinhala, Aggalawaththa and Walallawita in the Kalutara district, Yatiyanthota, Kegalle and Dehiowita in the Kegalle district, Athureliya and Mulatiyana in the Matara district and Imbulpe and Kolonna in the Ratnapura district
Opposition: Judge’s resignation has tarnished Lanka’s image
He should have taken action against those who threatened him – govt.
By Saman Indrajith
Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that there were serious questions and concerns about the independence of the judiciary following the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge T. Saravanarajah, citing threats and harassment.
“This is a serious issue and the government should conduct an independent inquiry into this matter immediately,” Premadasa said.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the judge’s resignation, citing threats and harassment following his ruling on the Kurundimalai temple, had led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary. He said that the Mullaitivu Magistrate had been pressured to change his judgment.
Justice Minister,Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Sri Lankan judges had power to issue summons and take appropriate action against individuals who attempted to exert influence over them. He asked why the judge concerned had not used his powers.
Minister Rajapakshe said that the Opposition could file a contempt of court case if anyone had pressured the Mullaitivu Magistrate to reverse his judgment as claimed, without levelling allegations against the government.
The Minister said the government had no powers to investigate the matter involving the Magistrate and that the JSC was the relevant body to handle the matter and requested if anyone had any issue, they could complain to the Judicial Service Commission.
TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the whole world knew that there was pressure on the Judge. “The Minister cannot claim that there was no pressure on the judge.”
Minister Rajapakshe said that if there was anyone in the House who had exerted pressure on the judiciary it was MP Sumanthiran. He said MP Sumanthiran had on 20 October, 2022 told Parliament that the judges of the Supreme Court should be sent home. “You said in this House that people had no faith in the Supreme Court.”
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