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China has ‘always shared weal and woe, no matter what’ with Lanka

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China has built or is building 116 major grant projects in Sri Lanka and has provided training programmes to a total of nearly 8,000 Sri Lankan professionals, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Qi Zhenhong  said yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Sri Lanka – China National Nephrology Specialized Hospital in Polonaruwa.

This hospital will become a new symbol of China-Sri Lanka friendship, Ambassador Zhenhong said, adding that China has never been absent when Sri Lanka needed help after the establishment of the PRC.

“Since the two countries established diplomatic relations, China has always treated Sri Lanka with equality, sincerity and mutual trust, and always shared weal and woe, no matter what level of development China is on and no matter how the domestic and international situation evolve,” he said.

Given below is his speech in full:

“Today is a good day long-awaited by the Sri Lankan people. Today is also a good day to be remembered in the history of China-Sri Lanka relations. Despite the surging COVID-19 challenges, we gathered here in this historical city of Polonaruwa, to unveil the China-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital, the largest nephrology specialized hospital in South Asia. During the past few years, both China and Sri Lanka have worked together to overcome various difficulties, especially the heavy impact brought by the COVID-19 epidemic, and succeeded in completing this modern and State-of-the-Art hospital on schedule. It impressed all visitors that this specialized hospital has a construction scale of over 25,000 square meters, 200 general inpatient beds and 100 hemodialysis beds. At this remarkable moment, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations and highest appreciations to all the Chinese and Sri Lankan personnel who have supported and contributed to this wonderful project.

“The opening of the hospital is of great significance. Firstly, it becomes a new landmark for the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Secondly, it brings hope to thousands of kidney disease patients and their family. Thirdly, all 1.75 billion population in South Asia might benefit from it. Furthermore, the Nephrology Specialized Hospital will become a new symbol of China-Sri Lanka friendship, just like the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, the Supreme Court Complex, the Nelum Pokuna Theater, the Joint Research and Demonstration Center for Water Technology in Kandy and many other China-Aid projects, which will go down in history and further carry forward the deep friendship between the Chinese and Sri Lankan people.

“I would also like to emphasize that China has never been absent when Sri Lanka needs help. Looking back the past 64 years since our two countries established diplomatic relations, China has always treated Sri Lanka with equality, sincerity and mutual trust, and always shared weal and woe, no matter what level of development China is on and no matter how the domestic and international situation evolve. Up till now, China has built or is building 116 major grant projects including 36 large-scale sets of projects in Sri Lanka and has provided training programs to a total of nearly 8,000 Sri Lankan professionals. Besides, the local governments, enterprises, social organizations and individuals from China have also provided support within their capacity for Sri Lanka’s social development and improvement of people’s livelihood in various ways.

“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese Government has provided most urgently needed help to Sri Lanka at different stages, and successively donated tens of millions of personal protective equipment, about one hundred thousand nucleic acid detection reagents and recently 1.1 million doses of Sinopharm vaccines. In addition, China is providing the greatest assistance to Sri Lanka for its procurement and local production of Chinese vaccines. I am confident that, with the joint efforts of the two countries, we will defeat the coronavirus and secure the final victory at an early date. The China-Sri Lanka friendship will only be further elevated to a new height in this joint fight against the epidemic, and more tangible benefits be brought to both Chinese and Sri Lankan people.”



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Lift restrictions on 21 June, and be prepared for dire consequences – Medical Specialists

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando yesterday urged the government to reconsider its decision to lift the travel restrictions on 21 June on account of the detection of the Indian or Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Speaking to The Island yesterday, Dr. Fernando said: “The Ex-Co and COVID committee of the AMS met on Thursday before it was announced that the Indian variant had been found in the community, and we decided to ask the government to continue the travel restrictions until 28 June.”

The AMS President added that the detection of the Indian variant from Dematagoda was an alarming development as the Indian variant was more transmissible than the UK variant.

“Reopening the country even after this detection is a very bad idea. We detected the UK variant on 08 April 2021 but we allowed people to celebrate the New Year. I feel that the government is repeating the same mistake,” he said.

Dr. Fernando urged the government to have discussions with a broad section of experts in the coming two days and take a more informed decision as we are likely lose more valuable lives if we are not careful enough in our decision making. “I don’t think the government has sought advice from experts,” he said.

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SLPP will not let disputes with Gammanpila undermine govt.

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…will vote against SJB’s no-faith motion

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday (18) said that whatever the differences the party had with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, it would not undermine President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government. A senior SLPP spokesperson said so when The Island sought their response to Samagi Jana Balavegaya planning to move a no-faith motion against attorney-at-law Gammanpila over the recent increase in prices of fuel.

The SJB early this week declared its intention to hand over a no-faith motion against Gammanpila to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Already, the JVP and the UNP have questioned the SJB’s exercise.

The SLPP stood solidly with the stand taken by its General Secretary attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, in respect of Minister Gammanpila, the official said. According to him, SJB’s certain defeat at the forthcoming vote should not be considered an endorsement of the energy minister.

However, the SJB would not be allowed to exploit the dispute between the party and Minister Gammanpila, under any circumstances, party sources said. The SLPP has been in touch with SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa, currently in the US, throughout the conflict, sources said.

The SJB’s no-faith motion would be easily defeated, sources said, pointing out that the SLPP group in the government parliamentary group accounted for 115 excluding the Speaker. The SJB parliamentary group comprised 54 members, including seven National List appointees. One of the NL members, Diana Gamage has switched her allegiance to the SLPP.

Sources revealed that on behalf of the SLPP group, the General Secretary of the party, lawmaker Kariyawasam discussed the developments with SLPP leader Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SLPP group is expected to meet coming Monday (21) to reach consensus on a settlement. Sources said that a no holds barred discussion was with MP Kariyawasam getting an opportunity to explain his stand.

Referring to a statement dated June 12 issued by MP Kariyawasam demanding Minister Gammanpila’s resignation, SLPP underscored the need to set the record straight.

The SLPP General Secretary did not challenge the fuel increase announced by Minister Gammanpila as the party realized the government had no other option, sources said. However, there was no change in the SLPP’s stand in respect of Minister Gammanpila as he did nothing to improve the energy sector coming under his purview, sources said. The SLPP alleged that Minister Gammanpila had done nothing except taking advantage of gullible media.

Responding to another query, sources questioned the rationale in a recent statement issued by eight political parties, affiliated to the SLPP, in support of Minister Gammanpila. Except one political party therein, other parties comprised just one lawmaker each. There were two National List members, too among that eight-member group, sources said, adding that PHU, was represented in parliament by just one MP (Gammanpila.)

Sources said that the SLPP felt that there should be a consensus among the main party and its constituents on major policy decisions. Sources questioned the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the PHU pursuing an agenda inimical to the government. How could they take a different stand on some contentious issues publicly having been members of the cabinet of ministers, sources asked, accusing them of sabotaging key policy decisions.

The SLPP emphasized that the ruling coalition would have to reach a consensus on a common agenda or face catastrophic consequences.

Sources alleged that Weerawansa-Gammanpila led group sabotaged an agreement the incumbent administration worked out with India on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Harbour.

Asked to explain, sources said that the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe had finalized agreements in respect of Mattala airport, ECT, remaining tanks at the Trincomnalee oil tank farm and LNG plant at Sampur with India. Following the last presidential election, the incumbent government decided to go ahead with only the ECT project in the Colombo South Harbour.

The SLPP said that the agreement on ECT was certainly not a popular one though it could have helped efforts to revive the national economy. But, Weerawansa-Gammanpila group as usual played politics with the issue at hand and took credit for stopping the project.

Sources said that the country would have faced eternal blackouts if the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave into pressure meant to stop Norochcholai coal-fired power plant.

 

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1,390 more lockdown violators arrested

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The police had arrested 1,390 persons who violated lockdown regulations on Thursday (17), Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said. The bulk of the arrests numbering 172 were made by the Kuliyapitiya Police, 133 by Matale Police and 121 by Kandy Police.

The police have arrested 38,311 people so far for violating quarantine regulations since 30 October 2020.

About 6,797 people were questioned at checkpoints set up at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province on Thursday and 108 of them were warned and sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders in violation of the current travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Police are planning to carry out a special operation during this weekend to arrest those who violate health regulations by increasing mobile patrols, roadblocks and motorcycle patrols, DIG Rohana added.

Drone operations too will be conducted in Colombo and suburban areas to identify individuals who violate lockdown rules and regulations.

 

 

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