Connect with us

news

‘Military Assistance Protocol’ signed, Chinese backing at Geneva appreciated

Published

on

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary retired General Kamal Gunaratne has greatly appreciated the stand taken by China on behalf of Sri Lanka at the recently concluded 46th sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), during talks with the high powered Chinese delegation led by State Councillor and Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe.

The delegations led by Minister Fenghe and Defence Secretary Gunaratne met at the Shangri-La Hotel, Wednesday (28). Minister Fenghe is the highest foreign dignitary to visit the hotel overlooking the mega China investment Colombo Port City since it was attacked by two suicide bombers on April 21, two years ago.

UN Security Council member China on behalf of Sri Lanka called for a vote on controversial draft resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,’ after the UK led Core Group targeting Sri Lanka insisted on a punitive text and the setting up of a new inquiry at a cost of USD 2.8 mn. The UNHRC adopted the latest resolution on March 23 with 22 countries voting for, 11 including China against and 14 abstaining.

Having condemned the resolution as typical example of politicization of human rights, Chinese Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador CHEN Xu alleged Western attempt to interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and undermine its development and stability under the pretext of human rights.

China and Sri Lanka also signed what the Defence Ministry called ‘Military Assistance Protocol.’ The Defence Ministry statement quoted General Fenghe as having said: “We are looking forward to work together with Sri Lanka to enhance practical cooperation and to promote bilateral relations to a greater extent.” The Chinese Minister highlighted the existing military ties between the two countries. China remained a primary supplier of arms, ammunition and equipment to the Sri Lankan military throughout the war.

Chinese Ambassador in Colombo, Qi Zhenhong, Foreign Secretary Admiral (ret) Prof. Jayanath Colombage and Tri-Forces Commanders were also present.

The Chinese delegation comprised Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Department of PLA Lt. Gen. Shao Yuanming, Director General of Office for International Military Cooperation of Central Military Commission (CMC) Maj. Gen. Ci Guowei, Deputy Director General of General Office CMC Maj. Gen. Shen Fangwu, Assistant Chief of Staff of Southern Theatre Command of PLA Maj. Gen. Hu Xianjun and Chinese Defence Attaché Senior Colonel Wan Dong.

General Fenghe also launched the official website of the Chinese National Defence University Alumni Association of Sri Lanka at the invitation of Gen Gunaratne and the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs and the Chairman and founding member of the Alumni Association Maj. Gen. Vijitha Ravipriya (Ret).

The Chinese delegation arrived in Colombo Tuesday (27) night and left yesterday (29) morning. The delegation met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and defence delegation led by Gen. Gunaratne.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met the Chinese delegation along with Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera whereas Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena joined Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s delegation that included several ministers.

Over a decade after the conclusion of the war, Sri Lanka maintains close relations with major regional powers, including members of Quad the US, Japan, India and Australia. Interestingly none of them backed Sri Lanka battling unsubstantiated war crimes allegations paving the way for Western powers to include Sri Lanka on the Geneva agenda.

Sri Lanka re-entered into high profile ACSA (Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement) with the US in August 2017 though talks on MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact) and SOFA (Status on Forces Agreement) failed. Sri Lanka first signed ACSA in March 2007 during Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s tenure as Defence Secretary.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

news

Amendments to be incorporated into Colombo Port City Bill – GL

Published

on

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP Chairman Prof. G. L. Peiris says amendments proposed by government lawyers in respect of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill submitted to the Supreme Court, through the Attorney General’s Department, would be incorporated into the Bill along with the amendments proposed by the Supreme Court.

Education Minister Peiris, one of the intervening parties in support of the Bill, says the government is confident of the passage of it in Parliament this week.

Prof. Peiris discussed the upcoming two-day debate on May 19 and 20 at the regular SLPP media briefing at their Nelum Mawatha Office in Battaramulla.

The former internationally distinguished law professor and Colombo University Vice Chancellor said that the government was determined to go ahead with the mega project as part of their overall efforts to attract investment. The Minister explained the need to go ahead with planned projects, regardless of difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister briefly described the procedures adopted in the passage of the Bill.

Petitioners that challenged the Bill included the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera represented by SLPP Colombo District lawmaker Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC. Petitioners asked for the Bill to be approved by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and at a referendum.

The only MP other than former Justice Minister Rajapakse to express concern over some provisions in the Bill was Yuthukama leader and SLPP National List parliamentarian Gevindu Cumaratunga.

At the onset of the briefing Prof. Peiris said the government was continuing with a vaccination drive to bring the Covid-19 situation under control. The minister acknowledged the difficulty in procuring the required number of covishield doses for those who required the second dose. The SLPP Chairman said that the government was discussing the issue at hand with both governments and the private sector in a bid to obtain the required stock.

Prof. Peiris placed the shortage of covishield vaccines at over 400,000 whereas the health ministry earlier estimated the shortfall at over 600,000.

Minister Peiris acknowledged that a daily count of approximately 2,500 new Covid-19 cases was quite a challenge though the government sustained efforts to keep the situation under control.

Continue Reading

news

Covid patients to be treated at centres close to homes

Published

on

Those diagnosed with COVID-19 would be sent to treatment centres and Intermediate Care Centres closest to their homes, the Health Ministry said yesterday

The decision was taken at a meeting held yesterday at the Health Ministry. Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle and Ministry officials took part in the meeting.

 A Health Minister’s spokesman said the decision had been taken to lessen the psychological trauma on the patient and the family.  

 The Ministry will also supply necessary medical equipment and medical staff to treatment centres that are being built by the government and non- governmental organizations.

 State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) has been instructed to procure AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses required for the second jab as soon as possible. (RK)

 

 

 

Continue Reading

news

Digitalization way forward for Lanka – World Bank

Published

on

Healthcare workers in Sri Lanka enter data into the DHIS2 COVID-19 surveillance system(Pic courtesy World Bank)

Digitalization is the way forward for Sri Lanka to transform into a technology-based society, says the World Bank.

The WB report said that the Government of Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment to accelerate digital transformation. In order to reap the benefits of digital technologies, the country now needs to ensure that access to high-speed and affordable Internet is available to all citizens including in remote areas of the country and across income groups and gender. It also needs to ensure that the right policies, laws, and regulatory frameworks are in place to protect the security, data and rights of all especially the vulnerable.

In early 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdown began, Sri Lanka’s food supply chain was significantly disrupted leaving farmers and consumers to face the adverse effects of the pandemic. Wholesale and retail markets were closed and traders were encouraged to deliver food items directly to doorsteps following strict health guidelines.

However, to sell and deliver food items and agricultural products, small traders were required to register at the Divisional Secretariats (DS), local-level administrative units which serve as the primary citizen delivery points.

But government office closures significantly affected this process. Meanwhile, there was no means to submit and process permit requests electronically.

Now, the Government of Sri Lanka, led by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) in collaboration with various stakeholders, has embarked on a highly anticipated digital transformation journey to address such issues.

With support from the World Bank’s Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC), ICTA is planning to bring services online to 10 selected Divisional Secretariats through piloting the ‘form.gov.lk’ initiative, a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) platform.

The platform will leverage existing infrastructure such as the Lanka Government Cloud (LGC 2.0), the government’s cloud computing infrastructure, and the Lanka Government Network, the government’s private network which connects 860 government offices across the country.

The proposed solution will offer the general public and businesses the capability to fill and submit relevant information and documents digitally without having to visit government offices.

These pilot services will range from civil registrations (births/deaths) and small business registrations to allowing farmers to process police permits for transporting crops.

Once the system is successfully piloted in selected DS offices, the platform can be scaled to other government organizations, reducing travel and building efficiency in service delivery including in areas outside of urban centres and contributing to Sri Lanka’s green recovery.

“Our biggest objective is to build the digital foundation for the government to continue serving all Sri Lankans during a crisis like this. This is just the beginning of our digital transformation journey” says Mehinda Herath, Chief Executive officer of ICTA.

The CERC will also build resilience in public service delivery by enabling government officials to work remotely.

This will be done through the implementation of a government-wide email and collaboration solution and video conferencing facilities; and by enhancing the capacity of the government cloud infrastructure (LGC 2.0) to support more services.

A disaster recovery site will also be established for LGC 2.0 so that critical data is not lost in times of exogenous shocks, including natural disasters such as flooding and cyclones.

“The vision of ICTA is to improve living conditions and livelihoods across Sri Lanka irrespective of geographical locations and other disparities. This will be done through effectively adopting digital technologies and developing the required enabling environment, including the legal framework, basic infrastructure such as unique digital ID and government wide digital connectivity as well as various other aspects that are required to develop the digital economy,” says Prof. Lilith Gamage, Chairman of ICTA.

Transforming Sri Lanka into a technology-based society is one of the key national policy objectives of the country, as highlighted in the President’s manifesto, Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor. This includes the implementation of a “whole-of-government approach” to digital government to improve the delivery of public services to all Sri Lankans; developing the technology industry for jobs and growth; and supporting digital entrepreneurship and growth of a digitally savvy workforce and population.

The government is developing a foundational digital ID system that is backed by biometrics. ICTA together with the Ministry of Justice has also commenced an initiative to establish a country-wide court management system with the aim of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial system.

Continue Reading

Trending