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Buddha statue unveiled outside Chancery building of SL High Commission in Kenya

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The Sri Lanka High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, has installed a statue of Lord Buddha outside the premises of the Chancery building. This was the first time that a Buddha statue has been erected in a public place in Kenya.

LOLC Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara and High Commissioner Veluppillai Kananathan unveiled the statue at the auspicious time on July 14 in the presence of members of Sri Lanka community in Nairobi. Religious observances including chanting of Gatha, Buddha Pooja and worship were conducted during this event.

“I welcome all of you to the unveiling of the statue of Lord Gautama Buddha. It is a unique occasion as for the first time a Buddha statue has been installed in a public place in Kenya. It also turns a new leaf in our bilateral relations to demonstrate our Buddhist heritage in Kenya. I take pride to represent Sri Lanka in Kenya and feel blessed to have the installation of Buddha Statue in front of the High Commission premises. I take this opportunity to thank Chairman of LOLC Ishara Nanayakkara for readily agreeing to attend the event”, High Commissioner Kananathan said.

The High Commissioner said the installation of the Buddha Statue was done with the full support and patronage of the Kenyan government authorities.

“It paved the way to demonstrate our Buddhist heritage in Kenya. The public display of the Buddha statue would constantly remind our minds of Lord Buddha’s noble teachings of peace and harmony which was needed in all communities, countries and the world”, he noted.

He further said that Lord Buddha’s eternal message of peace and compassion continued to inspire humanity around the world and quoted the Buddha who said “he who experiences the unity of life sees his own self in all beings, and all beings in his own self, with an impartial eye”.

The construction of the shrine was constructed by a renowned Kenyan Sri Lankan Company Mayleen Group.

Members of the Sri Lankan community in Kenya and Kenyan friends of Sri Lanka attended the event.



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AZ vaccine delay baffles over 500,000 awaiting second shot 

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DGHS to be summoned by HRCSL  

 

By Shamindra Ferdinando 

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has decided to summon the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena for failure to address HRCSL’s concerns pertaining to the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme. 

Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, Chairman, HRCSL, on May 28, in writing, requested Dr. Gunawardena to submit a comprehensive report on the vaccination programme by, or before, June 15. 

A senior spokesperson for the HRCSL yesterday (27) told The Island that Dr. Gunawardena would be summoned as the request made in terms of Human Rights Act of Sri Lanka Act No 21 of 1996 was not adhered to. 

The HRCSL consists of Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, Dr. M.H. Nimal Karunasiri, Dr. Vijitha Nanayakkara, Ms. Anusuya Shanmuganathan and H.K. Navaratne Weraduwa. 

DGHS is the senior officer in charge of Covid-19 inoculation drive. 

In HRCSL letter dated May 28 addressed to Dr. Gunawardena, one-time lawmaker Dr. Balasuriya said that clarification was sought after receiving representations as regarding the inoculation drive. 

Dr. Gunawardena didn’t answer his phone for us to clarify the issue at hand. 

Meanwhile, controversy surrounds the decision to suspend giving Pfizer as the second jab to those who had received Covishield (AstraZeneca). According to the health ministry, 2,171 Covishield recipients were given Pfizer on July 7 and further inoculation was suspended abruptly on July 8 claiming that sufficient stock of AstraZeneca would be available in the third week of July. The announcement was made by Deputy Director General Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath who declared the immediate suspension of Pfizer vaccines for recipients, who had got Covishield as their first dose. 

The Island yesterday sought an explanation from Dr. Herath as regards the inordinate delay in inoculation of those awaiting the second AstraZeneca jab. Dr. Herath said that administration of Pfizer was stopped on July 8 after the Health Ministry received an assurance from the WHO that 1.4 mn AztraZeneca stock would be available in the third week. Dr. Herath emphasized that if not for that assurance, the government wouldn’t have stopped using Pfizer. “Now, we are hopefully awaiting the delivery of the promised stock under Covax facility.” 

Dr. Herath said that the Health Ministry was in touch with the WHO in that regard. The Health Ministry spokesperson was responding to The Island query whether the issue at hand was taken up with the Japanese embassy.

The Japanese embassy in Colombo on July 13 announced that Japan would provide approximately 1.45 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured in Japan to Sri Lanka through the COVAX facility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. The embassy said that the vaccines were expected to be delivered during the coming weeks.  

Dr. Herath acknowledged that the sudden stopping of the well planned programme to vaccinate those who had received Covishield with Pfizer as the second dose somewhat derailed the operation. 

Responding to another query, Dr. Herath said that so far Sri Lanka had received 264,000 doses under the Covax project though the initial estimates indicated 4.5 mn doses in a quarter once the operation got underway.  

Dr. Herath emphasized that on the part of the health ministry and the government there was absolutely no effort to deceive those who received Covishield as first doze. Over 500,000 of those who had got Covishield first jab remained to be inoculated with the second AstraZeneca jab, Dr. Herath said, asserting that Sri Lanka was blessed with a functioning system to carry out the challenging task. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the required supply of doses of Covishield as pledged by the WHO Dr. Herath said, assuring they would do whatever possible to inoculate those who had been deprived of Covishield second dose. 

Dr. Herath explained that disruption of the Covishield supply chain caused a major crisis here. The health ministry spokesman asserted that the unexplained long delay caused uncertainty and in a way undermined public confidence in the health sector.

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North and East to benefit from 1.6 mn Sinopharm doses donated by China

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Chinese Ambassador in Colombo Qi Zhenhong (pic courtesy PMD)

China has donated another consignment of 1.6 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Sri Lanka to fight the pandemic. Two SriLankan flights, UL869 and UL865, carrying the vaccine arrived at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport at 5.30 a.m., yesterday (27).

Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong officially handed over the vaccines to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (27).

In addition to these vaccines, a stock of syringes has also been donated. The vaccines were handed over to the Ministry of Health to be given to people over the age of 30 years in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. 72% of the vaccines used in the vaccination process in Sri Lanka is Sinopharm.

President Rajapaksa said that he highly appreciated the support provided by the Chinese Government for the control of COVID – 19 by donating 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines on March 31, 500,000 on May 26 and 1.6 million doses yesterday.

The President pointed out that by the end of August, all those over the age of 30 would be vaccinated and the tourism industry would be able to commence from September. “Therefore, the Chinese people are invited to visit Sri Lanka again”, the President said.

Ministers Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Douglas Devananda, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Senior Advisor to President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage, and the Political Officer of the Chinese Embassy Luo Chong was also present on the occasion.

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Second petition filed against NL appointments naming 45 respondents

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Article 99A: A constitutional fraud, DEW alleges in affidavit to SC

 

By Shamindra Ferdinando 

Former General Secretary of the Communist Party D.E.W. Gunasekera in an affidavit given to the Supreme Court in respect of the controversial Section 99A of the Constitution that dealt with National List appointments has alleged that the then Speaker, the late E.L. Senanayake, perpetrated an unprecedented constitutional fraud by signing a smuggled in 14th Amendment into the Constitution, instead of what was passed by Parliament. 

In the July 11, 2021 dated affidavit, ex-lawmaker Gunasekera said that the Speaker’s action violated Articles 82 (5), 82 (6) and 125 of the Constitution. This written declaration made under oath is a key ingredient in a petition filed by public interest litigation activist and General Secretary of Vinivida Peramuna, Nagananda Kodituwakku, against the appointment of Ven. Atureliye Rathana (42 respondent), UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe (43 respondent) and Basil Rajapaksa (44 respondent) on the National Lists of the Ape Jana Bala Pakshaya, UNP and SLPP, respectively. 

Referring to the first petition filed by him in this regard, lawyer Kodituwakku told The Island that a second petition on the same matter expanded the list of respondents from 12 to 45. The respondents included, members of the Election Commission, former Chairman of the EC Mahinda Deshapriya (2 respondent), who is the current Chairman of the Delimitation Commission and the Attorney General. 

Vinivida Peremuna hasn’t so far received recognition as a registered political party. According to the petitions made available to The Island, the Supreme Court has been moved in terms of Articles 82 (6), 125 and 126 of the Constitution. 

Petitioner pointed out that Ven. Rathana and Wickremesinghe had been accepted by the EC as NL members in violation of the stipulated 7 day period for such appointments, whereas US citizen Basil Rajapaksa wasn’t included in the SLPP NL nor or on any district list at the last general election.  

EC Chairman attorney-at-law Nimal Punchihewa (3 respondent) told The Island that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in Oct 2020 abolished foreign citizenship being an impediment to enter Parliament on the NL. A vacancy created by the resignation of SLPP NL member Jayantha Ketagoda (30 respondent) has been filled by Basil Rajapaksa in terms of the Section 64 (5) of the Parliamentary Election Act No 01 of 1981 as amended by the Act No 35 of 1988.  

The Parliament consists of 196 elected and 29 appointed members. Following the last general election held in August 2020, 29 NL seats, in terms of the countrywide votes received by political parties have been allocated to seven with the SLPP being the largest beneficiary. The SLPP obtained 17 NL slots whereas the SJB followed with 7. Five other political parties shared the remaining six seats. 

Petitioner Kodituwakku has argued that the direct violation of Article 82 (5) made 99A introduced through fraudulent means nonexistent. According to the petition Article 99A had been produced by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Franchise and Election appointed by the Speaker on July 08, 1983. The said Article had been submitted to the Parliament on March 08, 1988 after 5 years of deliberations. The Article 99A introduced by the said 14th Amendment Bill was a verbatim of the Article 99A approved by the said Select Committee in which there was no provision at all for nominations of any person outside the names published under Article 99A for the information of the voters, which had been confirmed by the Chairman of the Select Committee, Ranasinghe Premadasa, the, then Prime Minister, who presented the14th Amendment Bill to the Parliament on May 03,1988. 

The petitioner sought the appointment of a Special Bench in terms of Article 132 (3) (iii) to hear and determine the application on the basis of it being of public and national importance. The petitioner also requested for the repealing of the 14th Amendment.

 

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