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Karu urges President to seize opportunity to rebuild the country together with Opposition

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Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, the Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), last week said in a statement that an environment conducive to rebuilding the country is emerging after 72 years and urged that this opportunity be seized.

Sincerely wishing for the success of that effort he declared: “We owe it to future generations ….. to make this a reality and our fullest commitment is always there to achieve this noble goal.”

Urging the president as Head of State to handle national leadership, he said the government and opposition can establish a conducive environment for the country to move forward. The support of the opposition is essential for this purpose.

The opposition offer to extend support for the development of the country should be taken seriously, he said.

Following are excerpts from the statement:

The President’s attendance at the UN General Assembly will be an opportunity to explain different attitudes towards Sri Lanka. It is also a relief to know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is holding successful discussions to resolve existing issues.

It is timely to appoint a special committee headed by a former Chief Justice to report on persons involved in terrorist activities. Although the names of the committee members were submitted the process has not been completed officially. Global trust for Sri Lanka will only be ensured once this process is properly completed. NMSJ urged the president to take immediate action in this regard.

The prime minister’s reported meeting with the European Union is very important to address all unresolved issues related to GSP+ etc. Undermining the importance of GSP+ by some politicians is harmful to the country, he said.

The finance minister’s remarks that the government is hoping to build relationships with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the future was welcome. Taking this decision even late is useful and beneficial to the country.

“As a country, we can move forward by adhering to democratic principles, gaining world respect while not aligning with any power block. When 600 votes were cast against Sri Lanka, all countries explained that they were very fond of Sri Lanka and that they had to vote against it due to policy reasons,” he said.

“We have publicly commented over the processes that have been detrimental to democracy since this government came to power. We have been continuously expressing this view through discussion held via ZOOM, seminars and technical consultations with expert teams.”

Jayasuriya noted from surveys that about 82% of the people of this country have rejected the 20th amendment which destroyed democracy in the country. The recommendations of the Upali Abeyrathne Commission which was created with the intention of getting political revenge is an insult to the whole country, an insult to the judiciary and something that does not happen in any other democratic country in the world.

“It should be noted with regret that since the Hon. Prime Minister tabled this Bill to Parliament, it caused damage to his reputation. It is stored in the parliamentary archive in his name. Elections, held in a democratic country should be free and fair. We continued to make the country aware of this requirement,” Jayasuriya said.

“………our main allegation is that there are several serious (very) political appointments in so called “independent commissions”. We hope that the president will take steps to rectify this with the consent of the two representatives of the opposition, which was the practice in the past.”

Without that, an independent commission is fruitless and its (recommendations) difficult to accept.

National appeal on behalf of the coutry

We extend our deepest condolences to all the families who died in the Covid- 19 pandemic. We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight several issues of national importance affecting the country, which is to be brought to the attention of His Excellency, the President and the people of the country.

We are relieved to hear from the press that His Excellency, the President is attending the United Nations General Assembly which is an opportunity to explain different attitudes towards Sri Lanka. It was mentioned in a leading newspaper last weekend that he would be committed to protect democracy. That’s a promising message if it goes well. It is also a relief to know that the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs is holding successful discussions to resolve the existing issues.

It is timely to appoint a special committee headed by a former Chief Justice to furnish a report on persons who were involved in terrorist activities. Although the names of the committee members were submitted the process has not been completed officially. Global trust for Sri Lanka will only be ensured once this process is properly completed.

We propose to His Excellency the President to take immediate action in this regard. The Hon. Prime Minister’s meeting of the European Union as reported is very important to address all unresolved issues related to GSP+ etc. Undermining the importance of GSP+ by some politicians is harmful to the country. Hon Finance Minister yesterday stated in the parliament that the government is hoping to build relationships with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the future. Taking this decision even late is useful as well as beneficial to the country.

As a country, we can move forward by adhering to democratic principles, gaining world respect while not aligning with any power block. When 600 votes were cast against Sri Lanka, all countries explained that they were very fond of Sri Lanka and that they had to vote against it due to policy reasons. We have publicly commented over the processes that have been detrimental to democracy since this government came to power. We have been continuously expressing this view through discussion held via ZOOM, seminars and technical consultations with expert teams

We noticed from surveys that about 82% of the people of this country have rejected the 20th amendment, which destroyed democracy in the country. The recommendations of the Upali Abeyrathne Commission which was created with the intention of getting political revenge, is an insult to the whole country, an insult to the Judiciary and something that does not happen in any other democratic country in the world.

It should be noted with regret that since the Hon. Prime Minister tabled this Bill to parliament, it caused damage to his reputation. It is stored in the parliamentary archive in his name. Elections, held in a democratic country should be free and fair. We continued to make the country aware of this requirement.

Sri Lankans do not have that independence. Our main allegation is that there are several serious political appointments in so called “independent commissions”. We hope that His Excellency the President will take steps to rectify this with the consent of the two representatives of the opposition, which was the practice in the past.

Without that, an independent commission is fruitless and difficult to accept.

The National Movement for Social Justice stands for the betterment of the country and “we are committed to uphold the vision of Ven. Sri Sobhitha Thera to move forward” We are not a political party. We would like to mention it again and again. As Ven. Sobhitha Thera had repeatedly stated, “We want to be buried in a Independent, democratic and free country.”

Through the ideas and proposals we have mentioned in good faith, the government and the opposition can establish a conducive environment for the country to move forward. We must note that the support of the Opposition is essential for this. The Opposition has stated several times that it will extend its support to the development of the country and this offer should be taken seriously.

We have repeatedly stated that His Excellency the President as the Head of State should handle the national leadership. It should be mentioned that the people of this country do not approve of any obstruction to the independence of the Judiciary. Conducting seminars publicly and giving instructions to Top Officials of the Judiciary recently, had been subject of concern to democracy.

Since an environment, which is conducive of rebuilding the country, is emerging after 72 years, we sincerely wish all the success for that effort! We owe it future generations of this country to make this a reality and our fullest commitment is always there to achieve this noble goal.

Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya President



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‘Ratwatte’s boorish actions unbecoming of a Minister’

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DEW alleges cover-up, warns of dire consequences

By Shamindra Ferdinando

One-time Prisons Minister Dew Gunasekera yesterday (16) called for an immediate police investigation into SLPP lawmaker Lohan Ratwatte’s recent wild behaviour inside the Anuradhapura prison, where he issued death threats to two LTTEers incarcerated there.

Gunasekera pointed out that the minister had forcibly entered the Anuradhapura prison on 12 Sept. around 5.30 pm in the wake of the government turning a blind eye to his earlier drunken raid on Welikada prison on 06 Sept. Gunasekera served as the Prisons Minister after the end of the war in May 2009. The former minister stressed that on both occasions the State Minister in a state of inebriation had been armed with a pistol and was accompanied by several others. Law enforcement authorities couldn’t afford not to investigate the incident, the ex-minister said, referring to the presence of a woman among the crowd that entered Welikada and they went onto visit the gallows.

Prison sources said that Ratwatte had arrived at the Anuradhapura prison after being to week-long Sathi Pirith chanting ceremony at Anuradhapura sacred Mirisawetiya compound in order to invoke spiritual blessings for eradication of COVID-19 epidemic from Sri Lanka and the world. The pirith chanting culminated on the following day evening after conducting a special Buddha Pooja.

“Conduct a proper investigation or face the consequences,” the former General Secretary of the Communist Party told The Island, pointing out the responsibility on the part of the ruling SLPP to conduct its own inquiry.

SLPP General Secretary attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam said that the matter could be taken up with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Chairman of the party on his return from an overseas visit. Lawmaker Kariyawasam said so when The Island asked him whether the party would initiate disciplinary action against Ratwatte.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, also a member of the SLPP, should brief the Parliament how he intended to address this issue, Gunasekera said. The outspoken political veteran said that the Police Headquarters should make a public statement on those incidents.

Gunasekera emphasiSed that the Anuradhapura incident could have been averted if the government took tangible measures in the wake of Ratwatte’s raid on Welikada prison several days before.

Alleging that the Prisons Department suppressed both Welikada and Anuradhapura incidents, Gunasekera questioned the rationale in Ratwatte being allowed to avoid a proper investigation by giving up Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation portfolio and also queried how Ratwatte could be allowed to continue as the State Minister of Gem and Jewellery related Industries as if nothing had happened.

“I’m really disappointed and disgusted with the way the government handled Anuradhapura and Welikada affairs,” Gunasekera said.

Responding to queries, Gunasekera pointed out that the incidents placed Sri Lanka at an extremely embarrassing position at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ongoing 48th sessions.

Pointing out that UN Resident Representative in Colombo Hanaa Singer as well as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) roundly condemned Ratwatte’s actions; Gunasekera said the government would have to face grave consequences unless a proper investigation was conducted. The government should inquire into those incidents taking into consideration the ongoing Geneva confab and the forthcoming UNGA.

The former minister pointed out that the Prisons Media Spokesman and Commissioner Chandana Ekanayaka denied any knowledge of the incident.

Gunasekera welcomed the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) launching an investigation into the incidents. Nihal Chandrasiri, HRCSL’s Acting Director – Research & Monitoring told The Island that the outfit initiated an inquiry on its own into the incidents that had taken place in Prisons. “Three Regional Coordinating Officers of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka visited Anuradhapura Prison on 15th September 2021 to investigate the incidents that took place on 12th September 2021. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka will summon all the responsible parties connected to these incidents as early as possible.”

The CP heavyweight recalled how thousands of LTTE cadres and suspects brought under the military and the Prisons system at the conclusion of the war in May 2009 were protected. Those who had been campaigning against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and the UN would exploit Ratwatte’s actions, the former lawmaker said, adding that the ruling party seemed bent on causing its own destruction.

Gunasekera said that recently Defence Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne and IGP C.D. Wickremaratne explained measures taken by the government to eradicate the underworld especially those directing the narcotics trade from within prisons. They assured the public of safety and security. However, Ratwatte’s raids on Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons underscored the reality, Gunasekera said and called on the Prisons Chief to explain his failure to address the Welikada incident.

Police headquarters hasn’t so far issued an official statement on incidents at Welikada and Anuradhapura.

Ratwatte was sworn in as the Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Minister in the wake of the Mahara Prison riot in late Nov 2020. Ratwatte succeeded Dr. Sudarshini Fernandoplle.

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CTU: ‘Grant demands of principals and teachers before school reopening’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The demands of principals and teachers should be granted before the government re-opens the schools, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) says.

CTU General Secretary Joseph Stalin told The Island yesterday that the Secretary to the Ministry of Education had said the ministry would use alternative methods to collect GCE AL applications. Usually, it was the principals who sent applications to the Ministry of Education, but principals had refused to be involved until their salary anomalies were rectified. “The answer to this problem is simple. Just solve our issues. The government can easily do it.”

Stalin said that principals and teachers unions had held several discussions with ministers but without success.

On Wednesday (15) the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella said that Grades one to six would reopen after two weeks.

Rambukwella said the government had decided to reopen the schools with fewer than 200 students first. There were around 5,000 such schools he said.

The Minister said so during a meeting with Health Ministry Secretary Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Education Ministry Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera, Director-General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena, high-level officials of the two ministries and several representatives of the GMOA including its President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya.

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SL – India economic and democratic cooperation extensive – Speaker

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By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday said that the economic and democratic cooperation between Sri Lanka and India, both now and in the past, was significant.

Addressing the All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC), organised by the Indian Lok Sabha through video technology, the Speaker said: “Parliament of Sri Lanka is the oldest parliament elected by universal adult franchise in Asia. As the largest democracy in the world how India’s legislature functions in a multi- religious, multi-ethnic society offers many valuable lessons for not only us as neighbours, but even to the scholars of democratic governance”.

The conference was held under the theme “The Role of Legislature in Fostering Effective and Meaningful Democracy” to mark the Centennial year of the AIPOC as well as the International Day of Democracy which is celebrated on Sept 15 every year.

The conference chaired by the Hon Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha Shri Om Birla was attended by the President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Duarte Pacheco. Hon. Speakers from national legislatures including Austria, Guyana, Maldives, Zimbabwe, Mongolia and Namibia also addressed the virtual conference. Presiding officers of state legislatures in India joined via video technology. The Secretary General of Parliament of Sri Lanka Dhammika Dassanayake was also in attendance at the conference.

Addressing the conference, the Speaker said that Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India addressed the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 2015 during his historical visit, which strengthened the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The Speaker said that the Parliament of Sri Lanka has adopted a policy of open parliament with the intention of enhancing citizen participation and engagement in the parliamentary process.

He said that Parliament has taken steps recently to reach the public through the newly established Department of Communications. “It is expected to expand the knowledge on Parliamentary process and uphold democracy amongst the population particularly targeting the school children who are the future flag bearers of democracy,” he said.

The speaker said: “After the enactment of the Right to Information Bill, the Parliament of Sri Lanka took a decision to open the sessions of the committees to the media and this was a significant step towards strengthening the parliamentary democratic system that will pave the way for greater transparency and accountability. The Parliament of Sri Lanka has a vibrant committee system which plays a key role in creating a forum for the Parliamentarians and the Ministers of the Cabinet to interact directly in addressing many relevant issues which fall within their respective portfolios”.

He said despite the Covid -19 challenge Parliament has continued with its usual sittings even though the number of sittings days were curtailed to minimize the risk.

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