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Karu: Promises made to Sobitha Thera have gone unfulfiled



Former Speaker and Chairman of the National Movement for a Just Society (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the death of the founder of the movement, Venerable. Sri Sobhitha Thera on Sunday (08) called for a just society that values democracy.


Following are the remarks by NMSJ Chairman on the occasion:

Today is an opportunity to commemorate a Most Venerable Thero, who has worked tirelessly with sheer determination in recent times to protect the democratic rights of the people of this country and to create a society where justice and fairness reigned.

It has been five years since the death of the Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero. His honorouble character was full of sublime qualities that demonstrated his infallible rectitude.

We can identify him as a great follower of the Buddhist philosophy who had a colossal impact on our motherland in recent times, espousing the many qualities displayed by revered theros of the bygone era such as Wariyapola Sri Sumangala, Migettuwatte Sri Gunananda and Walpola Sri Rahula.

Throughout his lifetime, he has acted with a sincere sense of nationalism, and whenever he was faced with challenges, be it national, religious or cultural, he always stepped up and represented the national aspirations of the country without any hesitation.

One such instance was the political transformation that took place in this country in 2015. The people of Sri Lanka managed to change a powerful regime that had then gained a two-thirds majority. This was a result of him placing the country at the forefront irrespective of race, religion or party affiliation and leading the people towards that change. His voice was instrumental in awakening the minds of the people. It was due to the resounding admiration and appreciation he received from the people in this country.

The Venerable Thero never pursued wealth, power or fame. At the very least, he was even unwilling to accept any of the religious titles bestowed upon him. He lived an exemplary and humble life. We revered, respected, and followed him because we valued those noble qualities.

We also participated in the 70th birth anniversary celebrations of the Most Venerable Sobitha Thero that was held on 29 May 2012 at the BMICH. At that time, the very fabric of our democratic heritage was under threat and personal freedoms were in complete disarray. Justice was undermined and injustice prevailed. Disappointed at these developments, the Most Venerable Thero, at that moment, pledged to raise his voice against these injustices.

On that day, the main theme of his lecture was on how the executive presidency, a political system that was unique to Sri Lanka which possessed unlimited power, had turned into a parasite.

As such, we recall how he made an emotional appeal to all segments of the clergy, other religious leaders as well as all patriotic communities in the country to support him in his endeavor to abolish the executive presidency and to safeguard democracy.

On the same night, the Venerable Thero was visited by his followers. The fact that he was assured of their unwavering support and commitment to make the movement a success while submitting various proposals was a testament to the trust they had placed in him. It was also the country’s good fortune that a large number of people had come forward to support him.

A few days later, about 60 Buddhist monks representing the Maha Sangha arrived in Colombo and with their blessings, the ‘National Movement for a Just Society’ was born. This is how a national movement that was able to create a regime change was formed.

From that time until the 2015 Presidential Election, we respectfully and devoutly remember his great commitment, visiting all corners of the island, with the full support of the Maha Sangha, uniting various ideological and political movements in this country and amalgamating the patriotic people under one banner.

Furthermore, we should also mention the myriad of occasions when his life was under threat. We cannot forget how his life was placed in danger once as the vehicle in which he was travelling was subject to a hit and run. We can’t forget the failed attempt to poison him.

With today’s press briefing, while commemorating the Most Venerable Thero, we hope to apologise to him for the many insults and injustices he had endured.

The Most Venerable Thero,

Due to your advice, guidance and leadership, there was a regime change. Many people secured various positions because of you. It is a known fact that after your death, pledges were made to fulfill the promises that were yet to be realised. Talking about it hurts us too. Some have completely forgotten you. As there were prior instances of people who had ruined the political lives of Anagarika Dharmapala, one of the most revered figures in our country and Sir CWW Kannangara, the father of free education, it was not a surprise. But such things can no longer be tolerated.

However, it was due to your philosophy that Sri Lanka was lauded by the international community, including the United Nations and world leaders, for having one of the most exemplary democracies in the world during the first two years of that administration from 2015-2016. But you were not able to see that.

Thereafter, we were saddened by the unfortunate situation that arose in the country due to the disagreements within the government. We were shocked. We apologize to you for that.

After your demise, it has been clear to all how politics has degraded the values of our country, how some misled the masses by exploiting race and religion, how religious centers were used to propagate petty political agendas by spreading various misinformation, and how people were deceived by the snake king that manifested inside a bottle. Today, it is the Maha Sangha that exposes such incidents.

We know that the truth can never be suppressed and will come out one day. It is with great humility that I inform you that the aforementioned facts are being brought to light by the thousands of members of the Maha Sangha and the general public in remembrance of your great name.

The Most Venerable Thero, although we wish that you attain nirvana, your philosophy is very much required to restore a society that has been hoodwinked by lies, injustice and deceit.

Therefore, we are hopeful that the people who are aware of these developments and value a just society will soon accord him the respect that he deserves.

Venerable Thero, may you help us to fulfil that noble aspiration. It is for the generation that is yet to be born. May this endeavour of ours be a tribute to his name!

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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials



‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini



By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289



ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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