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China only watching, will not get involved in Sri Lankan election

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* Sinhala translation of Prevention and Control of COVID-19 launched

by Zacki Jabbar

China said yesterday that it was only watching the forthcoming general election in Sri Lanka as a true friend and would not get involved in it any manner.

Speaking to The Island on the sidelines of the launch of the translation of the book “Prevention and Control of COVID-19”, from Chinese to Sinhala, Hu Wei, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy said “We don’t wait until Sri Lanka comes to us with a request. We just help. As for the general election, we are only observing as a true friend should do, but will not get involved in any manner.”

Speaking earlier at the official launch ceremony, Wei said that China and Sri Lanka would discuss their experiences in combating the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and in turn would share it with the world. The objective of translating the book “Prevention and Control of COVID-19”, into Sinhala, he noted, was to convey their message to the world.

Wei observed that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus had taken the entire world by surprise, as it transcends wealth, fame, age, gender and nationality.

“Our friendship is not just with the Sri Lankan leaders but also with the people. It is a touching story. We think what you think, we worry about what you worry and your concerns are our concerns”, he noted.

Wei said that with a view to protecting the Sri Lankan people, the Embassy had donated thousands of masks to various institutions since the outbreak of COVID-19. “This includes the Health Ministry, 26 schools, five universities and three-wheel taxi drivers. Next week, we will provide a large number of masks to bus crews as well”, he added

Lakshmana Saparamadu, who translated the book said that a special word of thanks was due to the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, without which, the project would not have been possible. He also thanked the Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Centre of the Pathfinder Foundation, Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers and the Chinese Embassy in Colombo.

The book features a range of prevention and control measures to be adopted at different places such as homes, outdoors, workplaces, etc., and also contains scenario – based strategies, frequently asked questions, and addresses myths and misconceptions prevalent among the public. Consequently, it would serve to educate students, teachers and management of institutions where groups of people are concentrated such as rehabilitation centres and the general society.

“Prevention and Control of COVID – 19” is edited by Professor Wenhong Zhang, who is a leading Chinese expert on infectious diseases and was Head of the Shanghai COVID – 19 Treatment Expert Group. He is also the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital of Fudan University.

The book is a valuable tool to all readers and provides simple, practical, scientific and targeted information on prevention and control measures. It states – Breaking the chain of infection is the only way to control the spread of infectious diseases. However, implementation of control principles requires each of us to properly protect ourselves and actively cooperate with anti-epidemic work, in addition to relying on national prevention and control measures, so that this battle may come to an end faster.



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About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months

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Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

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Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands

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Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

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MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

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