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Govt. has lost control of country – SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) says the government has given up the fight against the pandemic and was leaving the infected persons to their fate.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said: “It is clear that the government has given up its fight against the pandemic. The number of infections is increasing rapidly, but the government does not care to conduct enough tests. It imposed laws limiting the number of participants for weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies and it violates them by holding political meeting. For example the number of persons allowed for a wedding is 50 but the ministers attending political meetings attended by minsiters are allowed to have over crowds of over 500.The leading ministers are conducting a series of events in provinces under the title Gama Samaga Pilisandarak (Dialogue with the Village). Its Matara event was attended by over 500 persons. On Dec 17 the Kandy District event was held at Polgolla with the participation of all heads of public institutions, police officers, Pradeshiya Sabha members, heads of department, and they were hosted to a lunch. Later, an infected Pradeshiya Sabha chairman was found to have attended that event. Now, all leading public officials in the district are under quarantine.

 “Two months ago there was no COVID-19 cases in the Kandy District. But the government put COVID-19 infected persons in the Bomgambara Prison. Today Kandy is the district from where the second most number of cases has been reported. Many institutions in the city have been shut down. The Governor’s Office, provincial and zonal education offices are all closed. But the Gama Samaga Pilisandarak event was held with the participation of over 500 persons. This shows that the government has given up its anti-COVID-19 campaign.

 “There is still no final decision with regard to the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims. The government is quite capable for taking the internal problem to the international level. It conducted secret talks with the Maldives to see whether it could find places there to bury Lankan Muslims dying from COVID-19. The secret came out after the government of the Maldives made a statement that the Sri Lankan government had made a request to the effect. It is a shameful act to try to bury our citizens in a foreign country. The government should solve this problem urgently.

“The government has also lost control over the country as well. It has failed to control the prices of essential commodities. There were some shortcomings in the yahapalana government, but we never lost the control over prices of essential items. We had a committee on cost of living affairs and it met fortnightly to keep the prices under control. Today, there is no such control of prices and the consumers are at the mercy of traders.”

SJB Colombo District MP Mano Ganesan also addressed the media.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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