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Johnny sees sinister political hand in disruption of online teaching project

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando says sinister political elements have disrupted children’s education again.

Speaking to journalists after a progress review meeting at his Ministry yesterday, the Minister said that schools had been closed here following the outbreak of the global pandemic. “The teachers however tried their level best to teach the children by opting for online education. They did so despite many technical and financial challenges. Most of them even spent out of their own pockets to teach the children. We respect and are grateful to those teachers for their dedicated service. But the unions of the three percent party dragged those teachers to the roads for protests and rallies thereby disrupting the online education and putting the future of our children in jeopardy and exposing the lives of those teachers to the deadly virus. This is not the first time that this three percent group has disrupted the education of the children of this country. There are enough instances that they did so. They killed many teachers, shut down the schools and universities, dragged the school children to protests and paved the way for the collapse of education during the 1987-1990 period of terror. They even brought the appellation of land of cannibals to this nation. Their actions created backlogs in university education delaying the education process for years and an entire generation had to suffer as a result.  

The President and the Prime Minister have pledged to rectify this 24-year-old issue of salary anomalies in the teaching profession. We have determined that we would not leave it to another government to solve. We have four more years to solve this problem once and for all. Knowing that we would rectify the errors that created salary anomalies, the bankrupt unionists instigate the teachers to take to the streets. The union leaders seem to have the opportunistic plan to show off that the problem would be solved due to their protests and to claim credit for it. However, by opting for this course of action, they not only disrupted the education of children but also put the lives of teachers in danger. The teachers who attend protests to hold up placards in the road and participate in marches violating all health guidelines finally go to their homes carrying the deadly virus with them. By doing so they also put the lives of their family members in danger. Thereby the unionists put the lives of the entire population of 22 million in danger by paving the way for the fourth wave of the pandemic in this country.

“Although we as a nation have been hit hard by the pandemic, we continue to pay the salaries of teachers and other public servants unlike many other countries. We call on the unionists not to hold the future and education of our children to ransom to achieve their narrow political objectives. The dream of every parent is to provide a decent education for their children and I call on the cabal of unionists not to shoot that dream down by the gun called narrow political gains. The most worthwhile thing that the teachers could do at this time is to help restore the education of children. In Russia Lenin once said that the best should be to the children, but our local Stalin is disrupting our children’s education.”



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Govt. seeks an eco-tourism plan

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By Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry and the Tourism Ministry had joined hands to appoint a joint expert committee to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan, a senior government official said.

Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the objective of the programme was to promote the tourism industry as well as environmental protection.

“Sri Lanka has a vast flora and fauna biodiversity, pristine beaches and priceless ancient sites. The mangrove system can also attract a large number of tourists. But biodiversity is under serious threat due to the unintentional destruction by certain people in our country,” he said expressing concern.

Although there are many places in Sri Lanka where eco-tourism can be found, the ecotourism industry has not yet developed in a formal way. Therefore, the Environment and Tourism Ministries have decided to initiate a joint program to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan aimed at attracting tourists to the ecotourism industry as part of promotion and development of our tourism industry.

A special discussion on this matter was held at the Ministry of Environment earlier this week. Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe, and Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi chaired the discussion.

Attention was drawn to the identification of eco-tourist attractions, the implementation of this program as a tactic to protect the environment, and to encourage more tourists to come to the country not only for entertainment but also for knowledge.

It was agreed to appoint a committee of experts with a standard knowledge of tourism and the environment to carry out the task.

It was also emphasized that the eco-tourism industry is very important as a source of income for our country as the 2018-22 Biodiversity Action Plan and the National Environmental Plan also include the development of eco-tourism industries.

Officials from the Special Projects Division of the Ministry of Environment also participated in the discussion.

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Finally, Lohan’s statement recorded but not by police

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Retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena on Tuesday (19) recorded former Prisons Minister Lohan Ratwatte’s statement as regards incidents involving him at the Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons, sources said.

They said that the retired judge had asked for two months to prepare her report on the incidents at Welikada and Anuradhapura on 6 and 12 Sept. respectively.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC asked the retired HC judge to inquire into the incidents. Once completed, the report would be submitted to the cabinet by the Justice Minister, sources said.

The police are yet to record the State Minister’s statement regarding the incidents.

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Two state ministers explore employment opportunities in Qatar post-World Cup

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A Sri Lankan delegation headed by State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasooriya and State Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Market Diversification Priyankara Jayarathna recently visited the State of Qatar to explore employment opportunities there for Lankans.

The following is the text of a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry: “The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Doha organised a series of meetings for the Sri Lankan delegation headed by two State Ministers. The delegation met with the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs of Qatar Yousuf Mohamed Al Othman Fakhroo. During the meeting, the parties discussed the potential employment opportunities after 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond that.

The Sri Lankan delegation had a meeting with Director of the International Co-operation Department and the Chairman of National Anti-Terrorism Committee Maj. General Abdulaziz A. Alansari, and Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs of the Ministry of Interior Brigadier Mohamed Ahamed Al-Ateeq. The discussion focused on reviving the operations of the Qatar Visa Centre (QVC) located in Colombo and the pragmatic approaches to enhance the service provided by QVC. During the discussions, the MoI outlined the scheduled official visit of the delegation consisting officials from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs of the State of Qatar (MADLSA) and the Ministry of Interior to Colombo in order to evaluate the QVC operational module with a view to enhance the same.

The Lankan delegation also had a fruitful discussion with Director of LULU Group in Qatar Dr. Mohamed Althaf Musliam Veetil. During the discussions, the necessity to boost long-standing trade relations between Lulu Group and Sri Lanka was highlighted.

The Embassy arranged productive meetings with a number of major recruitment agencies in the State of Qatar and the Sri Lankan Bank representatives based in Doha. During the meeting with the Sri Lankan Bank representatives, it was discussed the methodologies to overcome the current challenges encountered with the unauthorised remittance transactions being channeled through informal means.

SriLanka’s Ambassador in  Quatar, M. Mafaz Mohideen took part in the meetings with the delegation headed by State Minister Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasooriya and State Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Market Diversification Priyankara Jayarathna. Director General of the State Ministry of Regional Cooperation Savitri Panabokke, Assistant Director of the State Ministry of Regional Cooperation W.W.C.S. Perera, Chairman of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Deputy General Manager of SLBFE Priyantha Senanayake, and Directors of the Board of the SLBFE Buddhi Pradeep Niyadandupola, Hematha Sapumohotti, and Mohamed Arshad formed the rest of the delegation.”

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