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Don’t endanger entire nation for benefit of a few– Karu

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The country was facing the danger of being hit by the third wave COVID-19, as some individuals in high position were concerned about furthering their own interest Chairman of the National Movement for a Social Justice (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya, told the media in Colombo yesterday.

Jayasuriya said that the NMSJ had no intention of disrupting or criticising the government’s activities during the pandemic situation. However, as a country that respected democracy, Sri Lanka today had abandoned the exemplary measures once adopted to improve the welfare of the people, he said, noting that the government was now focused on fulfilling the aspirations of a few powerful figures.

“Certain activities that are taking place today under the guise of promoting the tourism industry have placed the entire country before serious health risks.

“Ukraine is one of our most respected allies. But at the same time, we must not forget that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in many other countries, including Ukraine, and especially throughout Europe. Many countries have focused their efforts on mitigating the impact of the rapid spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.

“Sri Lanka needs to address a number of issues prior to attracting tourist. Although Sri Lanka must make the best of its natural and cultural attractions, the government must first and foremost be concerned about the health and safety of our people.

“But what is happening in the country today? According to media reports, even the official tourism authority of the country isn’t aware of the tourists who have been invited from Ukraine.

“The government has taken steps to bring in tourists at a time when many Sri Lankans are stranded abroad having lost their jobs. Many Sri Lankans now wonder why migrant workers, the largest foreign exchange earner, are forced to follow a strict quarantine process, while the Ukrainian tourists are given special treatment.

“Some Sri Lankan women have reportedly resorted to prostitution to earn money they need to return home. What a miserable situation they are faced with. What a painful message for us as Sri Lankans?”

The former speaker also criticised the government for appointing army officers as district coordinators of COVID-19 control initiatives. “The military has objectives and traditions which are different from the public service. Attempts to amalgamate these two result in dictatorships. As a former Army officer, I have a good understanding of the commitment, skills and discipline of the military establishment. The private sector has been able to achieve great results with the help of retired military personnel. But active military service and civil service are two distinct domains. We need to understand that.”

Jayasuriya also said that by repealing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution the government had politicised the public sector again and that it would only hasten the decline of the state sector.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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