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GL felicitated by Colombo University alumni

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The Alumni Association of the University of Colombo felicitated their former Vice Chancellor and an illustrious alumnus Prof. G. L. Peiris, the newly appointed Minister of Education recently at a function held at the Senate Hall of the University of Colombo. The event was attended by Vice Chancellors, Deans, Academics and Alumnus.

Mr. Rajeev Amarasuriya, the President of the Alumni Association in his Welcome Address said “As an admired academic and university administrator, we can confidently say that there is no better person to be given the portfolio of the Minister of Education, and during your term of office we look forward to many revolutionary changes in our education system, which has much room for improvement.”.

He also mentioned the support extended by Prof. Peiris to the Association and said “when we were formulating the plan for the Swimming Pool Complex for the University of Colombo, Prof. Peiris was someone with whom, very early on I shared the plans, and we look forward to your support in seeing this project to completion before long”. He also thanked Mrs. Savitri Peries for her presence and said she has been the silent strength behind his success.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Senior Professor Chandrika Wijeyaratne congratulated Prof. Peiris on his appointment and wished him all the best in the important national task of reforming the Educational Sector which has been entrusted to him. She reiterated that the University of Colombo has been ranked No 1 among all universities in the country as a result of strategic planning targeted at sustainable development goals, extensive research and development work that was carried out by the University with emphasis on value addition, hosting the AUA Youth Forum in 2019, participating in International webinars, and becoming the best performing university after the COVID 19 shut down.

Mr. Thilak Karunaratne, former President of the Alumni Association traced the milestones of Prof. Peiris’ outstanding education and academic achievements and his political journey. He referred to some fond memories and anecdotes about his school days.

Prof G L Peiris was formally introduced by Prof. Indira Nanayakkara Dean of the Faculty of Law.

He said that he was very happy to be back in the University of Colombo which is very familiar territory to him, having been in the University of Colombo for 26 years in different capacities, and ending up as its Vice Chancellor.

Prof. G.L. Peiris said that each of the 13 universities must focus on a unique and a different way to be identified for their strengths and capacity. Each University should be seen as different from the other. He raised the concern that the university system is unable to accommodate a large number of students although they qualify with the required marks for university entrance and therefore he has plans to increase the intake to the Universities.

He drew attention to the mismatch in university curricula against the requirements of employers for suitable employment in the job market. Private Sector employers have said that there are many vacancies for employment in the Private Sector but they are unable to find candidates to fill these vacancies. Undergraduates need to be taught Information Technology before they graduate from the University and also made competent to work in English if they are to obtain gainful employment, the minister said.

Prof. Peris also referred to the contribution made by Past President of the Alumni Association, the late Mrs. Sujata Jayawardena by building a Hostel to accomodate Women Undergraduates at Buller’s Lane since at that time the University had rented 32 individual houses to accommodate these students.

The event concluded with the vote of thanks delivered by the Vice President of the Association Ms. Suranjani Wickramaratne.



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Bid to use private member’s motion to put off LG polls alleged

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has questioned the rationale behind President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s warning that the military will be deployed to curb protest vis-a-vis a Foreign Ministry undertaking to boost foreign trade and investment.

Addressing the Parliament, during the Budget committee stage debate, on 28 Nov., Prof. Peiris said the Foreign Ministry couldn’t expect to succeed in economic diplomacy while the government was resorting to repressive measures.

Prof. Peiris asked who would want to invest in a country where the people were warned of dire consequences if they held protests, and elections were arbitrarily postponed.

Referring to the long overdue Provincial Council polls, Prof. Peiris discussed how postponement of scheduled Local Government polls could further jeopardise Sri Lanka’s standing among the international community.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the government was planning to use private members’ motion submitted by Attorney-at-Law Premanath C. Dolawatta (SLPP, Colombo District) to put off scheduled Local Government polls further. The ex-Minister claimed that the motion meant to enhance youth representation in governance would be utilised to delay the polls indefinitely. He recalled how the Yahapalana government had postponed the Provincial Council elections indefinitely.

The rebel SLPP Chairman pointed out that the government had chosen MP Dolawatta’s motion, handed over recently, though SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar submitted a private member’s motion on the same lines much earlier.

MP Dolawatta handed over a copy of his motion to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Oct 31. Prof. Peiris said that they wouldn’t find fault with the lawmaker for making proposals which the academic said were timely.

Prof. Peiris warned Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, that Sri Lanka wouldn’t be an appealing destination for investments unless the government adopted tangible measures to curb corruption. Shocking disclosures at parliamentary watchdog committees underscored that corruption was at unprecedented level and needed immediate attention.

Speaking on behalf of the breakaway SLPP faction, Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa aka Freedom People’s Congress Prof. Peiris said that the recent declaration by the World Bank that it would audit the procurement and distribution of fertiliser here meant that the world had no faith in our system.

Commenting on assurances given by the government that a new Anti-Corruption Bill would be introduced soon, Prof. Peiris said that existing laws were quite sufficient. The issue at hand is absence of political will to battle corruption, the former Minister said, meant flight of professionals and intolerable increase in taxes on business wouldn’t encourage Foreign Ministry’s drive.

At the onset of his speech, lawmaker Peiris asked whether the government was genuine about the recent declaration that the national issue could be resolved by the enactment of a new Constitution by the next Independence Day. Who would take such a promise seriously against the backdrop of all previous attempts undertaken by far more stable governments failing to achieve the desired results? the former law professor asked. The former minister also questioned the feasibility of forming an apparatus on the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. Prof. Peiris asked whether those now at the helm really had the wherewithal to meet the South African standards.

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State FM assures there won’t be shortage of milk powder

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State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday (29) that there would be no shortage of milk powder in the coming days due to the Customs holding a consignment of six containers of milk powder, imported into the country, for violating regulations.

Minister Siyambalapitiya said the six containers had 105,375 kilos of full cream milk powder, imported from New Zealand, via Malaysia. It reached the Colombo port on 20 Oct. It was only after the consignment had arrived in the Port that the importers submitted the letters to get the consignment released from the Controller Imports and Exports. Arrangements would be made to release the stock from the harbour on the recommendation of the Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Food Security.

As such, there is no need for permission from the Controller Import and Export to release the stock, the minister said, adding that there were no limitations imposed on importing milk powder and there would be no cause for panic buying in fear of a shortage of milk powder in the coming days.

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Dolawatta responds to GL

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premanath-c-Dolawatta

SLPP MP Premanath C. Dolawatta said his private member’s motion wouldn’t lead to the postponement of local government polls. He said he felt the need to restore the 25% quota for youth, even before he entered Parliament, consequent to the August 2020 general election. The government and the Opposition could quickly reach a consensus on the proposals, and avoid unnecessary complications. MP Dolawatta said so when The Island sought his response to accusations made by Prof. Peiris, who said that time was rapidly running out for Local Government polls. As the nomination process needed to be commenced soon to ensure that 341 Local Government bodies could be constituted by 20 March 2023.

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