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Chief Govt. whip alleges bid to derail booster dose

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It was unfortunate that the Opposition, which carried out a disinformation drive against the vaccination programme during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, was now trying to discourage the public from receiving booster shots, Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando has said.

 Speaking at a ceremony to mark the opening of a new three-storeyed building complex for the Kurunegala Pradeshiya Sabaha, the Minister said that the Opposition parties wanted to see bodies pile up so that they could gain some political mileage, but the government’s successful vaccination drive had disappointed them.

  “Some members of the public fall for the Opposition’s lies, which are however short-lived. Both Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake have spoken against vaccination. They said that we had allowed the people to be used as guinea pigs. However, both Premadasa and Dissanayake too got jabbed later on. Now, they have got their men and social media activists to spread doubts and fears about the booster dose. It is such an unfortunate situation that we have got opposition members who speak against science to mislead people.

“The pandemic is a huge challenge, but President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has faced it successfully. He gave the leadership to the government to work hard to counter the threat. When they said medical oxygen was in short supply, we increased supplies. Then the opposition MPs said that people would die on hospital floors without beds, we made 20,000 new beds in a couple of weeks’ time. Sri Lanka has been recognised today as the third best country in the world where the vaccination programmes against COVID-19 are concerned.

“I spoke to regional health authorities yesterday and told them that the process of administering the booster dose should be completed in the Kurunegala District by the end of February.

 “We are not a government that goes around boasting about what we did, because we know that time spent on boasting could be used to do some more work. We have several economic challenges. We’ll address them too. We did not do politics during the past several months, but worked to help people get out of the pandemic dangers. In the next few months to come people will see the results of what we did and also realise that the opposition members lied to them. Our target is not elections because we know that when we complete our work, there is no need for a separate polls campaign to win again. People in this country are intelligent and can understand the political bankruptcy of the opposition parties and would never cast their votes for such a bankrupt lot.”



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Speaker proposes how to steer SL out of crisis

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has handed over a set of proposals to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, spelling out how to resolve country’s economic crisis.The proposals made by the Speaker pertain to a number of important sectors and highlight the importance of providing relief to low income groups.

The Speaker has said Sri Lankans working or doing business overseas or foreign investors depositing USD 100,000 with the Central Bank for a period of two years should be paid a 10% interest per annum in Sri Lankan rupees and allowed to credit the interest to any account preferred by the depositor. He also proposes that the government issue a vehicle import licence worth USD 25,000, six months after an individual makes a fixed deposit while also allowing him to pay a standard tax of USD 10,000 to the government for that vehicle.Speaker Abeywardena has proposed how to reduce energy costs, release adequate stocks of LP gas to the market, boost domestic production food production, stabilise the banking system.

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MR had not decided to resign on 09 May, says Weerasekra

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera says Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had not decided to resign on 09 May 09 although the SLPP MPs had been asked to bring supporters to Temple Trees for a meeting.Weerasekera said so when The Island asked him why he had skipped the Temple Trees meeting.One-time Public Security Minister said that the then PM Rajapaksa had, during a conversation with him on 08 May had denied reports that the latter was planning to resign the following day. MP Namal Rajapaksa, however, had asked a group of MPs and others to bring supporters to express support for the PM, MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera said he had been among those contacted by MP Namal Rajapaksa.The former Navy Chief of Staff said that the failure on the part of law enforcement authorities and the military to respond swiftly and decisively to a threat of breach of law and order had led to a disaster at time global attention was on Sri Lanka due to the deteriorating financial situation.MP Weerasekera questioned why police had refrained from firing at least once into the air when mobs arrived at some MPs’ houses, which were destroyed. For over 48 hours mobs had ruled the country, the MP alleged, demanding an explanation why shoot-on-sight orders had not been issued as soon as mobs started to attack MPs’ houses.MP Weerasekera said that serious accusations made by SLPP members, particularly Wimal Weerawansa, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Mahindananda Aluthgamage couldn’t be ignored. They accused some sections of the SLPP of conspiring to unleash violence and the police and the armed forces turning a blind eye to countrywide retaliatory attacks.

Newly-appointed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said that he would order a thorough probe into the May 09 incidents. Minister Alles said so when The Island asked him what he would do against the backdrop of allegations of the police facilitating attacks on protesting public in the Kollupitiya and Fort police areas.MPs, Weerawansa and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana alleged in Parliament that Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and C. D. Wickremaratne, Inspector General of Police prevented Deshabandu Tennakoon, Senior DIG, Colombo from mob attacks on the protesting public.

Former Minister Weerasekera said that the government, the SLPP and the police should come clean on this matter. MP Weerasekera said that the government mishandled the challenge posed by those who cleverly exploited the economic crisis. “Perhaps one of the major blunders was allowing the public to block roads. Now, it has become a style. Interested parties also exploit the media and social media. The government seems clueless,” MP Weerasekera said, urging the government to review the developments.MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, too, told The Island, the top SLPP leadership ignored repeated warnings. The former Agriculture Minister questioned whether those who had advised the Cabinet of Ministers chaired by the President deliberately deceived them.

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Lankan-born Cassandra elected to Australian Parliament

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She beat another candidate of Sri Lankan origin, Ranj Perera

Cassandra Fernando of Sri Lankan descent has been elected to the Australian Parliament.Cassandra, an advocate for essential workers and the Federal Labor Candidate for Holt.She migrated to Australia with her family when she was 11.She began working at Woolies Dandenong Plaza as a teenager. She now represents workers in the retail and fast food industries, fighting to improve their pay and conditions. She has also volunteered to tutor migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds so they can make the best of every opportunity.

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