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Justice Minister tells Parliament 37 archaic laws will be revised

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Revisions include raising age of Muslim marriages to 18

By Saman Indrajith

Justice Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament yesterday that new laws would be introduced soon to raise the mandatory minimum age for Muslim marriages in the country to 18.

“There is no argument on this matter and we have determined to bring in new laws to introduce 18 as the minimum age for Muslim marriages. I have already commenced the process and it is in progress. We’ll soon be able to bring about the particular laws to this House.”

“We update all outdated laws. The updating of laws is done with the intention of ensuring the rule of law and providing necessary infrastructure for the peace and prosperity of the country. Seventy three years have passed since we got Independence. It is doubtful whether we have yet been able to build a unique Sri Lankan identity and to coexist while respecting the diversities of each other. Many other countries in the world have been able to overcome their internal differences to forge their national identities to move forward. But it seems to me when I listen to the speeches made in this august assembly as a new MP and Minister that polarization has increased. We must understand that we are not enemies just because we have different religions, different languages and different lifestyles. The very basic foundation of our national anthem and the flag is that we must respect each other as Sri Lankans. It is the very same foundation on which we have built our freedom of speech. As French author Voltaire said, “I do not have to agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The minister said: “When we take a look at history it could be seen that we made mistakes such as the riots in 1958, in 1978, setting the Jaffna Library on fire in 1980, July 1983 riots, insurgencies in 1971 and 1988-89, massacre of bhikkhus at Arantalawa, attacking the Dalada Maligawa, attack on the Central Bank, massacre at Kebitigollewa, killings at Muslim mosques in Eravur and Katthankudy, and the most recent terror attacks by Zahran’s group on Easter Sunday. The same history could help us understand that it was the words of the Buddha that hatred never overcomes hatred helped Japan to rise from ashes to become a developed nation. Time has come for us to ask ourselves whether we should learn from those lessons of the past or continue to struggle and fight each other. We must turn this assembly into a platform that helps us to rebuild our nation with a single national identity. We must remember that when Tamil MPs led by Appapillai Amirthalingam left this parliament Tamil people rallied around Velupillai Prbahakaran because they lost faith in the democratic system.

“There is no point in hurling insults at each other. We must work together to realise this country’s full potential. For that purpose we have to amend archaic laws. We have identified 37 Acts and Ordinances to be amended in the process of updating laws.”



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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