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GTF admits TNA suffered serious setback, declares intention to work with govt.

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The UK-based Global Tamil Front (GTF), in a statement on the Aug 5 general election says the TNA’s power has eroded on two fronts – TNA could not live up to the expectation of the electorate despite participating fully in the system of governance dominated by the Southern parties as regards the aspirations of the Tamils for autonomy and their need for economic upliftment.

The GTF has sent the following statement to The Island: “The GTF congratulates the election officials, all winning and losing candidates, as well as all citizens of the country for having been part of a relatively peaceful election process, even in the midst of the global pandemic.

We congratulate Mahinda Rajapaksa, the leader of the Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) for the resounding victory at this election. Mahinda is a highly experienced politician with immense popularity among the Sinhala Buddhist constituents, and he is uniquely placed to address some of the fundamental problems that afflicted this country for decades, including addressing the apprehensions and aspirations of the Tamils and other minority communities. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule in the past have often been characterised by an unbridled sense of triumphalism, but presently at the peak of his power and stature, there is a golden opportunity to imprint ‘generosity towards all citizens’ as his enduring mark on the country.

Eleven years after the end of the war, the Tamil political landscape is changing. Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) Parliamentary representation has reduced to 10 from the 16 it had won in 2015, though it unquestionably remains the predominant political party that represents Tamil national interests throughout the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Clearly TNA’s power has eroded on two fronts – TNA could not deliver on the expectation of the electorate despite participating fully in the system of Governance dominated by the Southern parties, both with regard to the aspirations of the Tamils for autonomy as well as their need for economic upliftment. The effect of imposed demographic changes on the electoral outcomes and the differences on the political dynamics between the Northern and Eastern Provinces are also becoming more apparent.

These are serious challenges to the political parties that base Tamil communities’ political aspirations as their defining identity. While it is important that they do all that is possible to collaborate among them (perhaps as a single block) and also engage with other political parties in the new Parliament to protect and foster Tamil interests, it is crucial that Tamil parties strive to articulate a long term vision and action plan that should comprehensively address Tamil people’s political, economic, educational and cultural aspirations in a principled and pragmatic manner.

This is perhaps the most important takeaway from this election for all Tamil parties. Not properly heeding to this powerful message the election has eloquently conveyed could lead to decay and decimation of Tamil nationalistic politics in Sri Lanka.

GTF congratulates newly elected MPs Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and C.V. Vigneswaran who have been ardent champions of Tamil cause and to TNA which remains the leading Tamil political party for the Tamils with Sampanthan at its helm. We also welcome TNA spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran’s acknowledgement of the electoral setback and their preparedness to address the causes expeditiously, and his call for all Tamil parties to work together in the larger interests of Tamil people.

On our part, GTF would like to reiterate its commitment to work with all elected Parliamentarians and other relevant stakeholders to achieve equality, justice, peace, respect and prosperity for all.”

 



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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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