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Karu calls for unity in fighting grave problems now confronting the country

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The serious challenge facing our country due to the Covid-19 pandemic should not be underestimated by anybody. The government must recognize its responsibility and give maximum attention to the health of the people focusing on their well being as well as possible economic challenges in the face of the epidemic, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice said in a statement issued last week.

He said health officials and epidemiologists in the country have warned that the pandemic is spreading rapidly. Given the current plight of our neighboring ally India in particular, taking all possible measures to prevent such an eventuality here must be the top priority of the relevant authorities.

“We have arrived at a juncture when the vaccination process needs to be effectively activated to ensure the safety for our 21 million citizens. According to health authorities, we as a country currently have a mere 300,000 doses of vaccine. At a time when nearly 900,000 people who were given the first dose need to be given the second, it is very clear that the number of doses we have at present is not adequate.

“The government needs to address this urgently and take necessary action. At the same time, all measures need to be taken to provide adequate facilities to the hospital system to cope with any situation that may arise. We hope this will happen.

“At the same time, it is the responsibility of all parties to work together as a nation to overcome these challenges without any racial, religious and political divisions. That is the absolute duty of the whole country. The ruling party and the state leadership should be the first to set the example.

“The first step towards this is to stop all forms of political revenge and extend the hand of friendship to all. However, despite the need to create such an environment, certain events taking place in the country cause a deep sense of sadness. One example is the recent summoning by the police and questioning for nearly five hours of the sister of MP Harin Fernando who is being treated in hospital following surgery.

“This can never be considered a moral act. It is a violation of human rights. A similar situation exists with regard to Rishad Bathiudeen. He has been arrested and released on several previous occasions. In the context of the report of the Presidential Commission into the Easter attacks, where no specific charges have been made against him, it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to provide an opportunity for a fair trial by prosecuting him immediately if there are reasonable grounds to charge him at this moment in time.

“The unconventional nature of the arrest is not satisfactory. It should be clarified why such an action was taken at 2 a.m. without informing the Speaker. It is clearly an insult to Parliament and the Speaker. Such foolish acts undermine the good done by the security forces and the judiciary in combating terrorism and arouses suspicion.

“We responsibly urge all parties in this country not to combine narrow political motives with the investigation and legal actions related to serious crimes committed in this country including the Easter attack.

“We also call for immediate action to be taken for the benefit of our people and country by paying proper attention to the health and safety of the people and their livelihoods. When we are united as one we can face any challenge. His Excellency the President should take the lead in this. That is how ruined countries are rebuilt.”



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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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