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Extremist ideology posed serious challenge-PM Rajapaksa tells Inter-faith forum

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Calls for eternal vigilance against all forms of terrorist action

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (12) said that extremist ideology, and violence associated with it, represented one of the most serious challenges of our time.

Addressing the G 20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy, PM Rajapaksa said: “It is appropriate to recall the tragic events of 09/11, exactly 20 years ago, and to share our deep sense of grief with the families of victims of this outrage and, indeed, with all humankind. This is a reminder of the need for eternal vigilance against all forms of terrorist action, whoever be the offenders and whatever be their professed aims and purposes.”

The following is the text of PM Rajapaksa’s speech: “A prominent feature of our region is ethnic, religious and cultureral diversity. Our countries are home to people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, professing different religions and nurtured by an array of cultures. And yet, rising above these differences, we have responded to the challenge of building a sense of mature nationhood, uniting all the different communities. Our future as one nation depends very much on this idea of unity and solidarity which is absolutely essential to achieve our economic, political and social goals.

It is especially fitting that this prestigious event should take place in Bologna, a city which has rightly established its reputation as a world leader in culture, in the arts and in all fields of intellectual activity. This enchanting city enshrines for all time the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, and its remarkable contributions to the growth of civilization. The world has certainly been enriched by the genius and creativity of the great Italian masters of that period in history.

I observe from the conference documents, prepared with great clarity, that you have placed a sharp focus on the areas in which peace and harmony among cultures play a vital role in our time. I have no hesitation in identifying education as the most important of these areas. Young minds are impressionable, and it is during the childhood years that there is the greatest chance to develop the right attitudes and values. While there are, clearly, differences embedded in the substance of different religions; there is also a core of beliefs and convictions that are common to all religions.

It is the duty of policy makers and educationists, through the curriculum and methods of teaching in our schools and universities, to emphasize what all religions share in common, the areas of consensus rather than the points reflecting differences. Youth in our educational institutions have the unique opportunity to build bridges rather than walls and to forge friendships which last through life. The government in my own country is giving priority right now to reform the content of education to bring it in line with modern requirements and to equip our youth to secure satisfying livelihoods which will sustain them in life.

The grave heath crisis which the world is experiencing at this time, serves to underline the bonds which unite us all: COVID-19 makes no distinction among religions, nationalities and civilizations. It strikes a deadly blow at all humanity. In order to survive the pandemic and resume our lives once more, international cooperation needs to be strengthened. Vaccines and other protection, made possible by modern medicine, must be available across the globe, with firm arrangements in place for less affluent nations to be assisted by international organizations and by countries with stronger economies. It is a battle that has to be won, not by some, but by all. While it may be legitimate for countries to close their borders temporarily to contain the virus, isolation is not the answer. One of the realities of the world, in which we live, is the free movement of goods, services and people across national frontiers. Migration in search of a better life is challenged by conditions prevailing today, but employment opportunities on an equitable basis must continue to be available freely.

This is a field in which gender equality and dignity is of special importance. Gautama the Buddha, in his final sermon, The Maha Parinibbana Sutra, declared that the moral quality of a society is to be assessed by the kindness and compassion shown to its more vulnerable members.

Our government is very much preoccupied with the protection of women and children against exploitation and all forms of discrimination at home, in places of employment and in society at large. Outdated laws relating to marriage, custody and inheritance are being currently updated by the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Our attitude is one of zero tolerance of human trafficking.

Climate change and other environmental issues are in the forefront of our minds. Sri Lanka is trying its best to adopt a balanced approach to human development. While progress on economic issues is necessary to support rapidly growing populations, this cannot be done at the expense of the environment.

Arahat Mahinda, the son of Emperor Dharmasoka of India, who brought the cherished gift of Buddhism to our shores, addressing King Devanampiyatissa of our country, said, “O, King, you are not the absolute owner but only the temporary trustee of our mountains and forests, our rivers and streams, the fauna and flora of our land: you are duty bound to hand over these assets to future generations in the condition in which you inherited them from your forefathers”. These words, an integral part of our culture, continue to define our policy towards the environment.

Reconciliation is a critical need of our time. Conflicts and escalating tensions are all too evident around us. Peace and stability come from healthy relationships with all who live in our countries, including those with whom we have deep disagreements. Here, again, our religion teaches us that hatred is not conquered by hatred but by love alone. Rather than dwell on grievances derived from the past, we must focus on the present, the need for harmony with points of view different from our own, and the inspiring new frontier which awaits us all if we forge the urgently needed links of brotherhood and understanding.”



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Explanation sought over Monetary Board Secy.’s sudden transfer

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Rohini calls for social media campaign against govt. move

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought an explanation from the government over the sudden removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, K.M.A.N. Daulagala on16 Sept.

Matale District lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne yesterday (19) questioned the rationale behind Assistant Governor Daulagala’s removal. The former UNP MP emphasised that Daulagala had played a critically important role in the Central Bank’s response in the wake of Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016. Therefore, her removal was quite suspicious and might facilitate efforts to suppress those scams as well as future frauds as well.

MP Kaviratne represented the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister (2015-2019).

Declaring that Daulagaha had been at the forefront of the efforts to create a clean administration, Kaviratne stressed that she was second only to Rohini Nanayakkara of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and earned the respect of all for courageously taking a stand against fraudulent practices.

The SJB spokesperson said that Daulagala, in her capacity as the head of the non-banking sector financial institutions, handled the ETI investigation at the onset (2010-2012) of the probe. In the wake of her recommendations pertaining to the ETI being rejected by the Central Bank, she received a transfer to another section, MP Kaviratne said.

The Monetary Board is responsible for making all policy decisions related to the management, operation and administration of the Central Bank. It comprises Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, Dr (Mrs) Ranee Jaymaha and Samantha Kumarasinghe.

Cabraal, who served as the Governor (2006-2014) recently replaced W.D. Lakshman on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request.

Kaviratne asked who had benefited from the removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board?

MP Kaviratne said that Daulagala had been involved in the internal process following the first Treasury bond scam and the subsequent developments, including the coordination between the Central Bank and the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the Treasury bond scams. Urging women’s organsations, civil society and law abiding citizens to take up Daulagala’s removal through social media, lawmaker Kaviratne said that the issue at hand should receive attention of the parliament.

“The Parliament is responsible for public finance. The Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Central Bank. The national economy is in such a perilous state every effort should be made to investigate past frauds and thwart future adventures,” the MP said.

MP Kaviratne also recalled the role played by Deepa Seneviratne, Superintendent of Public Debt at the time of the first Treasury bond scam in exposing the then Governor’s culpability. “Unfortunately, we seem to be unable to change the direction regardless of exposure of past misdeeds,” she said.

Declaring that she had no intention of protecting any wrongdoer under any circumstances, MP Kaviratne said that the incumbent government should ensure transparency and accountability in public finance.

Examination of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) proceedings revealed a frightening picture, lawmaker Kaviratne said. Shocking revelations made by the watchdog committee should be examined against the backdrop of overall deterioration of the national economy over the past several years, the MP said.

She said that it would be a grave mistake on the government’s part to blame the current crisis on the raging Covid-19 epidemic. Acknowledging the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, MP Kaviratne said that the country was paying a huge price for unbridled waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence.

The MP asserted that the citizenry could play a bigger role in a political campaign on social media. The vast majority of those who use social media strengthened democratic opposition, she said. Removal of Daulagala could be a rallying point, she said, urging public onslaught on the SLPP government.

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Those responsible for Easter carnage will be haunted eternally – Bishop Galle

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Chief Celebrant of the 114th annual feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Bishop of the Diocese of Galle, Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe told a virtual congregation that the conscience of those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would never be at peace and it would haunt them eternally.

 The celebrations of the 114th annual Feast of the National shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced on 05 September with the raising of the flagstaff and ended on Sunday 12 September. This year’s feast was held in keeping with strict health guidelines sans public participation.

 Rev Dr. Wickremasinghe reiterated that it was the wish of the general public, especially all Christians that those who carried out and those masterminded and those who knew but did not prevent the Easter Sunday carnage would be exposed and Justice served. “It is our prayer that the divine father guides the authorities in their endeavours” the Bishop added

 Rev. Wickremesinghe also called upon every person including decision-makers to heed the advice of the experts and act intelligently to overcome the pandemic.

 The Marian procession carrying the miraculous statue of our lady of Matara. accompanied by clergy and security personnel paraded the town, concluding this year’s festivities.

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Wild jumbos destroy houses in search of newly harvested paddy

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BY CYRIL WIMALASURENDRE

KANDY— Herds of wild elephants raid Ududumbara and Minipe area sdestroying houses in search of newly harvested paddy.

Farmers of Minipe, Hasalaka and Udadumbara keep paddy in their houses as they are without proper storage facilities.

Kandy District Secretary Chandana Tennakoon visited the house of a farmer destroyed by elepheants in Kongahaela, Hasalaka.

The victim informed the District Secretary Tennakoon that a herd of elephants including young ones were roaming had attacked his house.

Similar complaints were made to the District Secretary by farmers at Minipe, Hasalaka, Welgala, Ulpathagama and Udunuwara.

The farmers said at least they should be provided with an adequate number of elephant crackers to scare the elephants away. The farmers had to travel about 30 km to the Randenigala Wildlife Office office to receive one cracker each, they said, adding that they needed many more.

District secretary Tennakoon told the farmers that steps would be taken to resolve the issue this year by putting up an elephant  fence around the affected villages of Ududumbara, Medsadumbara, Minipe and Hasalaka sector.

The project would cost about Rs. 100 million. The length of the fence would be about 43 km, he said.

Divisional Secretary of Minipe Nuwan Hemachandra and Deputy Director of Plan Implementation Palitha Rajapakse were present.

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