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China, Sri Lanka expand political relations following Pompeo visit

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Close on the heels of the US urging Sri Lanka to join an alliance against China, the Chinese Communist Party has initiated a special dialogue with the ruling SLPP meant to take bilateral relations to a higher level.

Chinese Embassy spokesperson Luo Chong said that the meeting was aimed at implementing a consensus reached by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and President Xi Jinping in their telephone conversation as well as the recent high-level visit of top leader Yang Jiechi to Colombo.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly attacked China during his one-day visit to Colombo where he requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government to end its close relationship with China. The US asked Sri Lanka to make “difficult but necessary choices” to secure its economic independence instead of choosing opaque practices.

Luo Chong issued the following statement Thursday night (5) after the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) held an advanced seminar on governance via video, strictly abiding by the health guidelines of both countries: “

Minister Song Tao of the International Department of Central Committee of CPC, Party Secretary Liu Cigui of CPC Provincial Committee of Hainan Province, SLPP Chairman Professor G.L. Peiris, Secretary General Sagara Kariyawasam, SLPP MPs including Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Namal Rajapaksa, Ramesh Pathirana together with some State Ministers and mayors from the Western Province participated in the meeting. Ambassador-designate Qi Zhenhong joined the discussion in his self-quarantine and delivered a speech on behalf of the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka.

“The two ruling parties of China and Sri Lanka are committed to jointly promote regular exchanges, engage in in-depth experience sharing on governance, and to enhance collaboration during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the seminar, bilateral relations of the two countries and the two parties, suggestions on the CPC-SLPP cooperation and long-term exchanges, Hainan’s successful practice on provincial development and poverty alleviation, joint combat against COVID-19 were broadly discussed with fruitful outcomes. The CPC also gave an introduction on its Fifth Plenum of the 19th National Congress, at which the CPC Central Committee proposed the 14th Five Year Plan and the 2035 Vision, specifying China’s goal of development for the next 5-15 years. The two ruling parties also shared their opinions on aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with Sri Lanka’s “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor” to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples. 

“Ambassador Qi expressed his pleasure and honor to attend the opening ceremony, which was his first public event after assuming the office since last Friday (30/10). Ambassador Qi said the history of China – Sri Lanka friendship is a history of mutual learning, and the friendship between our two countries and our two parties has grown stronger through the joint fight against COVID-19. He also emphasized that the experience sharing between the two ruling parties will play an important role in bilateral cooperation in the post-COVID era to come. “To overcome the huge challenge in front of us, on one hand we need to support each other in both medical supplies and financial supplies; on the other hand, we need more cooperation in disease prevention and treatment, economic revival and local governance etc. As ruling parties, CPC and SLPP should enhance experience sharing so as to better lead the two governments and the two peoples for a brighter future.” 

Up till now, the CPC has established contacts and exchanges with more than 400 political parties and organizations in over 140 countries. It also maintains friendly relations with a dozen political parties in Sri Lanka both in the government and the opposition. On October 22nd, the CPC co-host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Political Parties Forum and the BRICS Party Round-table Meeting via videolink.”



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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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