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Death of Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thera, a great loss to the nation – LSSP

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The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) mourns the passing away of one of its leaders, Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thera. He died in Matara of Covid-19 illness on Sunday, May 30 at the age of 69. He had his early education in Baddegama, taking to the robes as a teenager, and later at the Universities of Kelaniya (1976), where he was the President of the Student Wing and later Lancaster, United Kingdom, where he fought against apartheid.

He was a student leader with a militant history. He joined the LSSP in 1994. In 1997, he was elected a member of the Southern Provincial Council and led the party in the Southern province. In 2001, he created history by becoming the first Bhikshu to be elected to Parliament. He campaigned on behalf of the people specially when they were being exploited by officials and politicians. He espoused the politics of the LSSP with vigour, making full use of his oratorical skills, and gained a reputation for making skillful arguments, LSSP leader Professor Tissa Vitarana said in a condolence message.

Ven. Baddegama Samitha was soon elected to the leading organs of the party, the Central Committee and then the Politbureau, where he played a leading role in decision-making. As an orator and a genial personality who served the people both day and night, he was a popular figure. His political life was marked by his consistent struggle against all types of injustice against the people, specially by officials, employers and all manner of exploiters, like petty traders. He made a name as a fighter for social and political justice, the message said.

He fought against religious and racial prejudice. He established links with leaders of other religions to unite the nation. He fought against Sinhala Buddhist extremism and majoritarianism. As a member of the LSSP, he participated in many conferences both here and abroad where he effectively espoused his positions on behalf of the people and the country, it noted.

After he lost his position in Parliament in 2004, he served as an active member of the Southern Provincial Council. He did much development work and helped the people. He promoted education. Every year, he hired buses and took school children from the South to events in Colombo, like the annual Book Exhibition. He helped cultivators to overcome issues like the fertilizer problem. He helped organize the workers, specially the Tamils, and fought for their rights. He was active on national issues and was one of the first to lead a demonstration, the message further said.

While Ven. Baddegama Samitha preached the Buddha dharma, he always repeated what the Buddha said, that the listener will benefit only if he is not hungry. He therefore carried out a fight to eliminate poverty and achieve social justice all his adult life right to the end by trying to achieve these objectives right to the end as a member of LSSP and along with the political Left, like the CP, and other progressive forces like the SLFP and SLPP, Prof. Vitarana added.

May his Samsara gamana be happy and fruitful. May he attain Nibbana.



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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