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Govt. response to Covid-19: JVP questions Sports Minister’s high-profile role



Minister Namal Rajapaksa briefing State Ministers of the government’s response to Covid-19 epidemic, at Temple Trees recently (pic courtesy Sports Ministry)


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa says the government owes an explanation as regards the role played by Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa in the ongoing efforts to bring the rampaging Covid-19 epidemic under control.

Dr. Jayatissa, who represented the Kalutara District in Parliament during 2015-2020 period, failed to retain his seat at the last general election, conducted in August 2020.

The JVPer asked whether the government had created a special position for Minister Rajapaksa in the apparatus tasked with battling the epidemic.

Referring to a spate of press releases issued by the Sports Ministry in the past two weeks, Dr. Jayatissa questioned the rationale behind Minister Namal Rajapaksa chairing a meeting of State Ministers at Temple Trees where the focus was on the ongoing national inoculation project.

 The Media Unit of the Sports Ministry, in a statement issued on June 4 stated that Minister Rajapaksa had briefed State Ministers on the previous day how they could contribute to the vaccination programme. The Ministry said that a consensus has been reached as to how the resources could be pooled to carry out the vaccination project effectively.

 Dr. Jayatissa said that, in addition to Health Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi, there were three State Ministers handling various aspects of the health portfolio – namely State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle and State Minister  of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurveda Hospitals Development and Community Health Sirira Jayakody.

The ex-lawmaker asked whether the government at least bothered to seek the opinion of SLPP National List MP Prof. Tissa Vitharana widely believed to be an expert on the subject.

 Responding to another query, the former MP said that no one would question Namal Rajapaksa receiving the sports portfolio. However, Minister Namal Rajapaksa’s role in Covid-19 counter-measures was questionable, Dr. Jayatissa said.

 The JVPer said that the SLPP repeatedly assured that the cabinet would be appointed on a scientific basis.

 Dr. Jayatissa said that Minister Rajapaksa following a meeting at the Temple Trees recently assured the public of the second dose for those who have received the first Sinopharm vaccine.

 The government will commence the second round today (8).

 The Sports Ministry, in another statement issued on June 4 quoted Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa as having said that five special centres would be established for those living within the Colombo city limits but so far failed to receive the vaccination. These centres would be open till 10 pm, the Minister said, assuring that all Sri Lankans would be inoculated.

 The Sports Minister recently visited Jaffna to oversee the launch of the inoculation drive there. Minister Rajapaksa on behalf of the government received a large stock of items donated by Australia in support of Covid -19 controlling efforts. Australian Air Force delivered the consignment to the Mattala airport.

 Dr. Jayatissa said that the battle against Covid-19 was at a decisive stage with the health sector struggling to cope up with the deteriorating situation.

 Appreciating the efforts made by the government, the JVPer said that the epidemic couldn’t be defeated by propaganda efforts. The disruption of the inoculation drive caused by Moratuwa Mayor Saman Lal Fernando, Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge’s interference in directives issued by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) pertaining to Covid-19 controlling efforts in the Piliyandala area were grim reminders of the failure on the part of the government to prevent political interference, Dr. Jayatissa said.

 Dr. Jayatissa said that so far there were over 1,700 reported deaths but the actual figure could be much higher. Paying a glowing tribute to the health sector, the armed forces and the police, the former lawmaker said that the country would have been in a much better position to fight Covid-19 if the government followed proper procedures. Unfortunately, they  promoted bogus syrups and followed the advice of faith healers. “See what has happened today. There were over 205,000 positive cases and over two dozen deaths almost on a daily basis,” Dr. Jayatissa said.




Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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