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Justice Minister warns of local, foreign forces attempting to thwart country’s development

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There were local and foreign forces bent on thwarting Sri Lanka’s development efforts, Minister of Justice Mohamed Ali Sabry said yesterday addressing the media on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

“There are the people who want us to remain where we are,” the Minister said.

Minister Sabry said that the Sri Lankan laws would apply to the Port City. If arbitration failed and two or more parties wanted to take legal action, they would have to go to commercial courts of Sri Lanka.

“As you know the Chinese company has acquired the Port City on lease. But if the company wants to sublease the land, it has to obtain the approval of the Sri Lankan government.  So, if Sri Lankan laws apply to the Port City and if it is controlled by an entity appointed by the President, then what’s the problem?”

The Justice Minister said that the government had been transparent and followed established procedure with regards to the Bill.

“Normally, when a Bill is drafted, it is sent to the AG for observations. Then, it is presented to the Cabinet. Once the Cabinet approves it, the Bill is gazetted and interested parties can challenge it. We have followed this procedure. So, some people have gone to courts because we didn’t rush through the process. Let the Supreme Court give a verdict on this.”

Meanwhile, MP Jayantha Weerasinghe, PC, said that the Commission to administer the Port City would be under the full control of the Sri Lankan President and the government. The Commission would also be audited annually by the state, he said.

“It also clearly states that any regulation brought under this Bill will have to be presented to Parliament. If MPs don’t approve such regulations, they will be ineffective. The auditor will also audit the Commission and these audit reports too will be made available to Parliament. You won’t be able to hide anything,” he said.

MP Dilan Perera said that the Commission would be manned by eminent Sri Lankans. Foreigners would be considered if such persons were essential for developing the Port City as a service hub.

“There will be seven commissioners and it is unlikely that we will bring in foreigners. I know that a lot of people are speculating that there will be Chinese nationals as commissioners. Soon you will see that there is no truth in these speculations.”

 

 

 



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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