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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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Appointment of ministers advanced; govt. to abide by 19A, restrict number to 30

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Defence portfolio to remain unassigned

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has advanced the swearing in of the cabinet of ministers to Wednesday (12). Earlier, the swearing in was to take place at Dalada Maligawa on Friday (14). The venue remains the same.

Sources told The Island that the government would abide by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in early 2015 until a new Constitution could be introduced or shortcomings in the current one rectified.

The SLPP has won 145 seats. Besides the SLFP, several smaller parties which secured seats back the government.

The UNP and the UPFA got together to form a national government in 2015 to appoint more than 30 Cabinet ministers.

The new government could appoint 30 ministers in addition to the President, who is the head of the Cabinet. The lion’s share of ministries would be shared among the SLPP members while the National Freedom Front (NFF), the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), the MEP, the SLFP, etc., would receive the remaining slots. The EPDP, which contested the

Aug 5 election on its own, will receive a Cabinet portfolio; the CWC, which contested on the SLPP ticket, is entitled to one.

The Defence portfolio is unlikely to be assigned to anyone until a constitutional amendment is introduced to enable President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to hold that post.

President Rajapaksa refrained from assigning the defence portfolio when he appointed caretaker cabinet soon after his swearing in as the President, last November.

The 19th Amendment has deprived the President of the right to hold ministerial portfolios.

 

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Hasina calls MR over SLPP’s victory

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday congratulated Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on the victory of ruling SLPP party in the Aug 5 elections.

In a message to Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sheikh Hasina said the victory of the ruling party is a reflection of the trust and confidence of the people of Sri Lanka in the present leadership of the country, said PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

She said Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been working, based on their close relations on various issues of common interests like accelerating inter-country connectivity, containing terrorism and militancy as well as climate change.

Hasina described the living of a large number of Sri Lankans in Bangladesh as an example of excellent bilateral ties between Dhaka and Colombo.

In her message, the prime minister especially recalled her bilateral meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa during his official visit to Bangladesh and exchange of views between the two countries in various international events to accelerate bilateral issues.

She said Dhaka has been working on to give the bilateral relations a stronger footing during the tenure of Mahindra Rajapaksa in the government.

Hasina said both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will work together to establish peace, harmony and prosperity in South Asia.

The prime minister invited her Sri Lankan counterpart Rajapaksa to visit Bangladesh at his convenience.

 

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Amaratunga stakes claim for sole UNP National List slot

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… if Ranil not interested

by Zacki Jabbar

The UNP leadership is scheduled to meet today to decide who should get the National List seat the party received at last week’s general election.

Senior UNPer John Amaratunga said yesterday that as number one on the party’s National List, he would stake a claim to the seat if leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was not interested.

All indications were that Wickremesinghe was not keen on being in the legislature at this juncture and would focus on restructuring the party, he noted.

Amaratunga recalled that he had served the UNP as a loyal member and been elected to Parliament over a period of four decades. “That is why, I was placed on top of the National List,” he added.

No one should forget the senior leadership’s contribution to the party through thick and thin, the veteran UNPer said, stressing that seniority had to be recognised and rewarded and gratitude practised if society as a whole was to evolve for the better.

Amaratunga hoped that the unfortunate recent past could be forgotten and the United National Party and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya came together at some point in time because there was hardly any difference in their policies and most importantly neither propagated racism as a means of capturing power.

 

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