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Expert advises public, private sectors invest in modern technology as in HK, Taiwan, Singapore



Long-term solutions even after present pandemic

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The public and private sectors should invest in the latest technologies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and remotely identify those who had contracted the virus to minimise disruptions to the economy, Pharmaceutical and healthcare management consultant Dr. Sanjaya Perera told The Island yesterday.

Dr. Perera said that since 2020 three lockdowns had been imposed, but the country had not benefited.

“We have also imposed lockdowns at the wrong times. We allowed people to party in April 2021. We also relaxed too fast when experts said we have the delta variant in Colombo. Everyone agrees that closing the country almost at regular intervals is bad, we have to take steps so that this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Perera, who works as a consultant in East Asia and Europe said that investment in new technology and adhering to strict travel guidelines had helped many institutions to function without continuous disruptions. Last year, a number of institutions had introduced machines that could easily detect those with COVID-19 and protect those who worked in air conditioned environments, he said.

“For example there are new technologies like infrared thermal monitoring, which are widely used in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. High-performance infrared thermal cameras are set-up at airports or at entrances to offices to capture people’s thermal images in real time, easily identifying people with fever. There are new machines powered by artificial intelligence that can identify those who have 0.01 higher temperature. These machines can also work as an attendance register that can be accessed by HR officers from anywhere. I am glad that some top private firms have already set up these machines,” he said.

Perera said that Sri Lanka had kept its airports open for the most part of the pandemic and a number of COVID-19 infected people had come through without detection. Health sector unions had called for stricter measures but the government had cited inconveniences to passengers for not implementing tougher policies.

“Singapore Airport is now using a breath test to detect Covid-19 that gives accurate results within a minute. A person blows into a one-way valve mouthpiece, and compounds in the person’s breath – think of it as a breath signature – are compared by machine learning software against the sort of breath signature that would be expected from someone who’s Covid-positive. We can clear passengers in minutes. If the government wants to keep the airport open it should invest in these technologies,” he said.

Dr. Perera pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 could remain on various surfaces and that caused serious issues when schools, offices and factories were open. The virus could remain outside, especially in places that were not exposed to the sun and in air conditioned places.

In the past year researchers had looked at UV radiation, in particular UV-C to inactivate different viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, he added

“With machines that emit UV-C radiation you can easily disinfect surfaces. If you place such a machine near an AC machine, it can kill most of the viruses there. There are also handheld devices that people can use to disinfect documents, pens, and other things that you touch. Another technology we can use is pathogen testing. We can place this unit at the office, and it will capture pathogens that people at work emit. At the end of the day, a lab can test and find out if a person there has contracted COVID-19. This way we don’t need to check everyone at work, we can just check the people who came on that day,” he said.

Dr. Perera said that while some of those technologies were expensive, investing on the long term solutions and protocols would benefit the economy greatly in the long term. Already the government spent large amounts of money on testing, quarantining and treating people and frequent lockdowns too had cost colossal sums, he said.

“Also these investments are not only for COVID-19. Even if COVID goes away, we can still use this equipment to make the office environment safer for the workers. A healthy workforce is good for business and both the private and public sector must understand this,” he said.

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Enter correct age of children when setting up email accounts for them- Police Crimes Division




Officials of the Police Crime Division told the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity that email accounts for school children should not be set up giving parents details but by entering the correct age of the children.

The officials pointed out that as online education has become a necessity it was necessary to provide the children with mobile phones (Smart Phone active) to access computer devices. However, they pointed out that by providing the parents’ data for this purpose when giving smart phones and setting up email accounts, the children will have the opportunity to access any website. But, if the information including the correct age of the children are provided, the internet system itself will control the ability and access of the children to view inappropriate videos and websites.

The Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity met under the Chairmanship of Member of Parliament Dilan Perera in order to discuss the program to be carried out in collaboration with the National Reconciliation and Children and Women Bureau .


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New legislation being drafted to address land, labour, capital and technology laws – Presidential Advisor




Addressing the Panel Discussion of the National Law Conference 2023, Presidential Advisor Dr. R.H.S Samaratunga, emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of land laws, labour laws, capital laws, and technology laws in order to meet the requirements of a competitive economy. He noted that the Presidential Secretariat is currently examining a series of new legislation drafts that address these four crucial sectors.

The National Law Conference 2023/24 was held from June 02 to June 04, 2023 at The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya. The 2nd segment of the conference focused on sectoral views on strengthening the economy and a number of local and foreign key stakeholders gave their comments. They also commended the effort of the BASL in organizing such a conference and appreciated the government’s genuine efforts to recover the country from the crisis and extended their support in rebuilding the country focusing on areas in which they could contribute to.

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March 12 Movement, MP Rajakaruna ask Prez to sack gold-smuggling MP



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Declaring that Muslim National Alliance (MNA) MP Ali Sabri Raheem couldn’t continue to be an MP after being fined for an abortive attempt to smuggle in Rs 78.2 mn worth of gold and smartphones, the March 12 Movement has appealed to the executive, legislature and the judiciary to sack the MP, who, they say, has brought Parliament into disrepute.

Civil society activist Rohana Hettiarachchi, on behalf of the March 12 Movement, told The Island that MP Raheem should be dealt with the way the late President J.R. Jayewardene had handled the case of Kandy District UNP MP Anura Daniel. Jayewardene had removed MP Daniel, who was nabbed for a similar smuggling offence, Hettiarachchi said, urging President Ranil Wickremesinghe to take the initiative.

Pointing out that Customs had fined MP Raheem Rs 7.4 mn over two weeks back, Hettiarachchi found fault with the President and Parliament for failing to take tangible measures in that regard. The All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), which fielded Raheem from the Puttalam District at the last parliamentary election (2020), couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the MP’s despicable action, Hettiarachchi said.

Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen, who entered Parliament on the SJB ticket, is the leader of ACMC.

Hettiarachchi, who is also the Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections), said that the government conveniently forgot to investigate whether MP Raheem smuggled in gold, smartphones or any other items on earlier occasions, since he entered Parliament. Since 01 March this year MP Raheem had gone abroad (to Dubai) on five occasions before he was caught, Hettiarachchi said, finding fault with Parliament for not going the whole hog.

There should have been no holds barred investigation, Hettiarachchi pointed out and said Customs owed an explanation why a maximum fine was not imposed on the gold smuggling MP. Instead, the MP was fined Rs 7.4 mn and allowed to proceed to Parliament where he voted against a government motion.

Hettiarachchi said that the Customs response to the detection should be examined taking into consideration Customs (Amendment) Act (No 83 of 1988).

Responding to another query, Hettiarachchi said that in spite of leaders of several political parties requesting the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to take up this issue, the Speaker seemed to be determined not to get involved.

SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna yesterday told The Island that though ACMC nominee Raheem entered Parliament on the MNA ticket, only President Ranil Wickremesinghe could compel the offending MP to quit Parliament. “That is the reality,” the Gampaha District MP said, pointing out that MP Raheem served the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa administration.

Recalling how MP Raheem voted for the 21 Amendment to the Constitution in October 2020, MP Rajakaruna said that the MP also voted for Ranil Wickremesinghe at the House vote to elect an MP to complete the remainder of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term.

MP Raheem voting with the Opposition on the motion to remove Janaka Ratnayake as the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission hadn’t changed the relationship between the two parties (the government and the MNA), MP Rajakaruna said. According to him, those responsible turned a blind eye to the incident.

Civil society member Hettiarachchi said that they sought information relating to MP Raheem’s case from Customs in terms of the RTI (Right to Information) Act as the crux of the matter is the imposition of a lower fine regardless of the provision to declare harshest fine in terms of Customs law.

Hettiarachchi raised the possibility of the government interfering with MP Raheem’s case as there couldn’t be any other reason for Customs to impose a relatively lower fine.

MP Raheem is on record as having claimed that Customs fined him Rs 7.4 mn whereas a close associate of him who smuggled the undisclosed gold and smartphones was fined just Rs 100,000.

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