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‘Are we being compelled to fully implement 13A, in return for Covid-19 vaccine?’

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Sri Lankan envoy in Myanmar questions Indian strategy:

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva has flayed India for its interference in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs.

In an open letter in Sinhala, also sent to The Island, Prof. de Silva questioned what he called Indian interference with post-war Sri Lanka and a bid to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ambassador de Silva asked whether India offered Sri Lanka Covid-19 vaccine in return for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in the late 80s at the behest of India though that piece of legislation was irrelevant today.

Referring to Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar’s recent visit to Colombo where he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, TNA delegation and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ambassador de Silva questioned the Indian strategy.  At the conclusion of meetings, Dr. Jaishankar declared: “It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled. That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s efforts to procure Covid-19 vaccine, Jaishankar said, “We are now looking at post-Covid cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India and I shared with the Foreign Minister, as Prime Minister Modi has said, India sees international cooperation in this area as its duty.”

Expressing serious concern over strong Indian presence in Colombo, Ambassador de Silva queried whether the Indian External Affairs Ministry is situated in Colombo.

The non-career diplomat also compared the effectiveness of the vaccine that could be obtained from India and serum available for those countries having the wherewithal to secure, store and implement large scale vaccination campaign.

India recently approved two coronavirus vaccines, one made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the other developed in India, for emergency use.

Ambassador de Silva, a vociferous supporter of ongoing local efforts to develop Sri Lankan remedy for Covid-19 epidemic, pointed out the failure on the part of the country as a whole to support domestic bids. Prominent civil society activist pointed out how those opposed and ridiculed local remedies challenged recipients of local syrup to live among Covod-19 affected for two weeks.

Ambassador de Silva asked whether Dr. Jaishankar visited Colombo to inform the government of its readiness to provide vaccines and give priority to Sri Lanka. Pointing out that Sri Lanka would get some vaccines, though it lacked understanding of India’s requirement as it struggled to overcome Covid-19, Ambassador de Silva said that Sri Lanka should have sought an explanation from Dr. Jaishankar whether India didn’t have a local remedy.

Sri Lanka’s envoy in Myanmar asked whether India would send Sri Lanka some of its local remedies.

Ambassador de Silva launched a scathing attack over India’s call to further strengthen the Provincial Council system. The senior academic said: “Indian External Affairs Minister wants Sri Lanka to strengthen the Provincial Council system further. Why should we do that? The so-called Tamil problem had been solved. Even if the issue hadn’t been resolved, what right India had to intervene in domestic issues? We have no issue in TNA leader R. Sambanthan, MP, and lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran taking up residence at India House, situated opposite the University of Colombo. India cannot be allowed to meddle here to appease the likes of Sampanthan and Sumanthiran.”

Reiterating the irrelevance of the so-called Tamil problem in the wake of the eradication of the LTTE military capability in May 2009 on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, Ambassador de Silva said that the terrorist challenge could have been neutralized through only military means. In spite of those who had spearheaded the Jathika Hela Urumnaya at its inception campaigning against the war effort, the military succeeded in eradicating the enemy’s conventional military capability for once and for all, the nationalist said.

Pointing out how Canada and the UK still facilitated those bent on dividing the country on ethnic lines by propagating a fictitious genocide that never happened; Ambassador de Silva alleged that the government hadn’t taken tangible measures to counter the enemy strategy.

Dr de Silva questioned how India expected Sri Lanka to fulfill what the then President JR Jayewardene promised against the backdrop of New Delhi’s failure to disarm the LTTE in terms of the Indo-Lanka accord. Sri Lanka shouldn’t under any circumstances give into Indian demands as regards the 13th Amendment in return for stock of Covid-19 vaccines, Ambassador de Silva said.

The former Mathematics Don also discussed the continuing controversy over the alleged Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) among Sri Lanka, India and Japan in respect of the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo harbour entered into by the yahapalana regime . The Sri Lanka envoy in Myanmar urged the government to take the parliament and the public into confidence if it intended to finalize agreement on ECT.

Several weeks ago, Ambassador de Silva called for the abolition of the Provincial Councils. The declaration was made in the wake of some interested parties, including a section of the government pushing for PC polls.

 

 



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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