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PHIs take exception to new Gazette issued by Health Minister



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Public Health Inspectors yesterday warned that the latest Gazette, issued by the Minister of Health, making it mandatory to obtain prior approval of the Director General of Health Services for gatherings, activities, events or similar places of meetings, might further reduce the public support extended for COVID control to PHIs and Policemen.

On Thursday, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella issued the aforementioned Gazette. The Gazette says that ‘the guidelines, circulars, directions, instructions or terms and conditions issued, given by the Director General of Health Services, supersede the guidelines, circulars, directions, instructions or terms and conditions issued, given or specified by other authorities. The regulation has been made by the Health Minister under sections 2 and 3 of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance.’

Public Health Inspectors’ Union (PHIU) Head, Upul Rohana said that there were a lot of protests against the government and all those demonstrations were a violation of the Gazette.

“This is similar to the Gazette issued by the previous Health Minister, Pavithra Wanniarachchi. The problem is how people will react. We think it is better to try to convince people of the need to abide by health guidelines. Unions and Opposition parties think the move is aimed at suppressing them.

Will they adhere to the latest Gazette or will they increase their resistance? I feel that this would only cause further friction between the people and PHIs and Policemen, who will be entrusted with taking action,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Rambukwella has insisted that the move is not politically motivated and the government is only trying to protect the public. He has said that large protests are taking place across the country and pose threats to public health.

“We have controlled the spread of COVID-19 by making great sacrifices. However, again thousands of protesters are on the road every day. Are they doing this to create super-spreader events? We have to do something about them. This is why the Gazette was issued. I don’t care what the unions and Opposition political parties think. They can do whatever they want. I admit that unions have a right to dissent but this is a matter of public safety,” the Minister said.

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Renew firearm license for 2024 before 31st December 2023 – Ministry of Defence




The Ministry of Defence has announced that the renewal of firearm license of individuals/ institutions for the year 2024 will be carried out from 01 October 2023 to 31 December 2023 and the required details can be downloaded from the Defence Ministry’s website

Firearm license renewal for 2024 will not be carried out after 31 December 2023. It is also informed that possession of a firearm without a valid license is a punishable offense under provisions of Section 22 of the Firearms Ordinance.

Registration renewal of Private Security Firms for the year 2024/2025 will be carried out from 01.10.2023 to 31.12.2023. Any renewals made after the deadline will be subjected to a fine or legal action.

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“Unite to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048” – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his Milad-Un-Nabi message urged all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048.

“Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all” he said.

The full text of the President’s message :

“My greetings to the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world, observing Milad Un Nabi, being the auspicious occasion commemorating the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.

He is celebrated as the final messenger of Allah, known for profound teachings of love and peace that encompass humanity. His journey to spread the message of Islam in the challenging societal context of that time, was marked by significant trials. Even in the face of adversity, the Holy Prophet’s unwavering patience and equanimous strength served as powerful attributes. He was victorious in attaining his aspirations, through boundless sacrifices for faith and humanity.

As we celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday today, it is timely to resolve to uphold the values that were the hallmark of his life, which include mutual understanding, brotherhood, assistance to one another and fairness. Our commitment to fostering social harmony is the most meritorious tribute which could be paid to his legacy.

I urge all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path, to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048. Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all.

I wish all those of the Islamic faith, a joyous Eid Milad-Un-Nabi, filled with love, peace and prosperity!”

Ranil Wickremesinghe
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

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National Security Oversight Comm. Chief denied US visa



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on National Security, Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera has told Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that the US should not deny a visa to an MP nominated by the Sri Lankan Parliament to join an official delegation unless he/she posed a threat to US interests.

In a letter dated 25 Sept., 2023, the former Public Security Minister has informed Speaker Abeywardena the issuance of visas was the prerogative of the US mission, but the issue of the US Embassy insisting that he be replaced with a member of a minority community must be taken up.

Of the Chairpersons of 17 Oversight Committees chosen for a 10-day study tour of the US organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and USAID, later next month, only Weerasekera has been denied a visa.

Declaring that he had B1 (business) and B2 US visa (tourism) or combination of the two, Rear Adm. Weerasekera said that he had no special interest or reason to join the delegation but it was wrong for the US Embassy to deny him a visa.

The MP has said that he will seek an explanation from Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena in this regard. “In my capacity as Chairman of the Oversight Committee on National Security, I intend to call a meeting with Secretary Defence and Armed Forces chiefs to discuss this matter,” MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera retired in late 2006 after having served the Navy with an unblemished record for well over three decades.

Responding to another query, the former Minister said that the Parliament had been asked by the US Embassy to name another member of his committee, representing a minority community for the programme.

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