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Johnston calls on people not to fall prey to Opposition scare-mongering tactics

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando called on people not to fall prey to the Opposition scare-mongering tactics.

Addressing the media, after an inspection visit to check the progress of the ‘10,000-beds-in-10 days’ project in Kurunegala, the Minister said the government had decided to continue with all its development projects, as scheduled, without allowing the pandemic to scuttle them.

“We do not retreat or surrender in the face of this virus threat. We have faced bigger challenges and we are ready to face this and defeat it. While the Opposition was calling for the closure of Parliament, we decided against it. Next Tuesday Parliament will meet to discuss and debate health regulations, enabling further imports of medicine. We cannot and would not hide in fear of this pandemic. The Opposition leader and his men are creating a fear psychosis to paralyze this country from fear, anxiety and uncertainty.”

Johnston said that the entire world was affected by the pandemic. “But our Opposition wants the country shut down. We must keep in mind that nowhere in the world or in past experiences of pandemics, the solution was found by hiding away but only by facing the challenge. The Opposition Leader and his men seem to think that they could turn public opinion against the government by having economic difficulties caused to the people. This is why they are pressuring us to go for a protracted lockdown. We decided at the party leaders’ meeting to meet on Tuesday to discuss medicine imports and tyre exports, and on Wednesday and Thursday to debate the Port City Commission Bill. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa says we are in a mighty hurry to pass the Port City Bill. There is no such hurry. The matter has been in public domain for months. He was also opposed to debating regulations on medicine imports. Then we read the text of the regulations to him and he agreed. This is his situation and level. We cannot wait till he understands and gives his okay to proceed. This is not his government but ours.

“Premadasa and his men have started a campaign to sabotage the government’s development work. They demand that development, including the Ruwanpura Expressway be stopped and money utilised to buy vaccines. Who says that the government has no money to buy medicine? We have funds to buy medicine, buy oxygen, beds and to do PCRs. We pay the salaries of public servants on the due date. Our government has enough money to face the challenge while developing the country. The Opposition does not need to worry about how to run the affairs of government. We can do that better than they can even imagine.

“Now, the JVP too is opposing the manufacture of beds for patients. We have started making 10,000 beds in 10 days. We do our duty. Has Premadasa, or any of his men given at least a single bed to a patient? Ours is an impotent Opposition and there is no medicine to remedy their maladies. Come whatever challenge, we continue our development drive.”

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa was also present.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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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

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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

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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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