Connect with us

news

China takes bilateral relations with Lanka to a higher level

Published

on

Prez, PM assured maximum support, realization of development goals

By Shamindra Ferdinando

China yesterday (9) reiterated its commitment to supporting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s development objectives envisaged in his 2019 presidential election manifesto.

The assurance was given by senior Chinese leader and top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, who is a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party and the director of its Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Commission, the top policy-making body.

The seven-member Chinese delegation led by Jiechi arrived in Colombo, on Thursday night, for meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Having met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at the Presidential Secretariat, the Chinese delegation met Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees, where they discussed matters of mutual interest. All major Chinese investment projects were launched during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency.

The UNP objected to the visit of the Chinese delegation, claiming that its members had not undergone quarantine unlike other foreigners. Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi acknowledged that the meetings would take place without following quarantine process.

A statement issued by the President’s Office yesterday evening quoted Jiechi as having assured the Sri Lankan leader that China would continuously back Sri Lanka to achieve development. Jiechi also assured that China would stand by Sri Lanka at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as well as other international platforms.

The visit takes place amidst fresh corona eruption in Sri Lanka while relations between China and the US and China and India are fragile whereas the US seeks to expand its role in Sri Lanka with the finalization of the MCC Compact, having extended ACSA (Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement) in Aug 2017.

Declaring that bilateral relations were at an extremely cordial level, the leader of the delegation said that Chinese President Xi Jinping considered further improvement of China-Sri Lanka relations a priority.

The Chinese delegation is on a tour of four countries in the Asian region. Sri Lanka was their first destination. They left Colombo yesterday.

President Rajapaksa recalled continuous Chinese support provided to Sri Lanka regardless of the party in power. The President appreciated the support received by Sri Lanka during the war that was brought to a successful conclusion in May 2009. Declaring that China-Sri Lanka relations had seen further improvement in the post-war period, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanked China for backing infrastructure development in the country.

Referring to several large Chinese funded projects, including the Hambantota port, Colombo Port City, the Southern Expressway, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dismissed assertions that Sri Lanka had been caught in a Chinese debt trap.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requested for Chinese help to realize his dream of proving such large scale projects helped improve living standards of the people.

Recollecting he had been to China on 13 occasions before winning the presidency in Nov 2019, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that he wanted to achieve Chinese style development especially in Sri Lanka’s rural areas.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also requested China to increase the volume of imports from Sri Lanka as the trade balance was very much in favour of China.

The statement quoted President Rajapaksa as having said that the Chinese delegation was asked to allow more Sri Lankan products, more Chinese tourists, explore the possible participation in Colombo tea auctions and invest in a specialized university to promote technology education here.

The delegations agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement and to fully operationalize the Hambantota Industrial Zone.

Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency Wang Xiaotao, Assistant Foreign Minister of China Deng Lee, Hu Wei, Chargé d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka, Chen Song, Deputy Director General of Department of Asian Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Designate to China Dr. Palitha Kohona were also present at the discussion.

news

PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

Published

on

There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

Continue Reading

news

Hizbullah denies links with Zahran

Published

on

But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

Continue Reading

news

CA annuls summons issued on President

Published

on

The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.

 

 

Continue Reading

Trending