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Harin offers his seat to Ranjan

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SJB Vice Chairman and National List MP Harin Fernando yesterday offered to resign from his parliamentary seat to enable former MP Ranjan Ramanayake to return to Parliament.

Speaking during a ceremony held at Wattala to mark the opening of the SJB party office, MP Fernando said: “I know that I have become a headache to this government and the President. They could easily get rid of that trouble. All they have to do is grant a full presidential pardon to Ranjan Ramanayake. If they do so I will resign from my seat and give it to Ranjan so that the government’s inconvenience caused by me in Parliament would be over.

“We have made many requests to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to consider granting a full presidential pardon to Ranjan. He is in prison not because of murder or any anti-social offence but because of his politics. None would find fault with the government for giving him a pardon,” MP Fernando said.

He said that it was not new for him to resign from the parliamentary seat for a worthy cause. “If I resign, the Opposition Leader or the General Secretary of the SJB can appoint a suitable individual. None would say that Ranjan is not suitable for the seat. I can engage in grassroots level politics but a person of Ranjan’s calibre should be in Parliament. It would be a win-win situation for all – to the government, to the SJB and to Ranjan,” MP Fernando said.

“After all, I have no intention of sticking to politics until death. I have issued an affidavit that I would retire from politics when I reach 60. There is no point in one doing politics after retirement age. That would only obstruct the upcoming of new leaders. I will retire from politics when I will be 60, giving the youth an opportunity. John Amaratunga became the organiser of the Wattala electorate in 1978 – the year I was born, and he held it for 42 years. He would have been here today if not for his health condition. However, I have no intention to remain in politics for 42 years more. I will resign from politics in 18 years allowing the youth to come up from Wattala, while doing the utmost for the electorate.

MP Patali Champika Ranawaka said the youth in the country today were going through challenging times.

Commenting on the consequences of older politicians not withdrawing from politics in order to provide opportunities to younger politicians, MP Ranawaka said during a recent discussion with academics from the Peradeniya University, it was revealed that there was a proposal to extend the retirement age for university professors to 75 years.

The MP said one Professor had pointed out that it was not practical to hold on to a post for so long as the youth would be deprived of opportunities.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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