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President Ranil Wickremesinghe addresses G77 & China Summit in Cuba



President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the G77 & China Summit in Cuba on Friday (15th September 2023)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a compelling address at the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the G77 & China in Havana, Cuba yesterday (15). In his speech, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the crucial role of science, technology and innovation in overcoming the current development challenges faced by developing nations worldwide.

President Wickremesinghe began by commending Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez for convening the summit and acknowledging Cuba’s historic role as a champion for the concerns and aspirations of developing nations within various multilateral forums.

He noted the unprecedented challenges confronting the global South, including the pandemic, climate change, food, fertilizer and energy crises, which threaten the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and exacerbate the global debt crisis.

President Wickremesinghe then delved into the historical perspective of technological development, highlighting how Europe’s advancements in the 15th century, such as gunpowder, cannons and ocean-going ships, enabled it to conquer other parts of the world, resulting in the technological divide seen today. He underscored that a new technological divide is emerging in the 21st century, necessitating the adoption of digitalization and new technologies, such as Big Data, IoT, AI, Blockchain, Biotechnology and Genome Sequencing, to bridge the gap.

He emphasised the importance of an educated manpower well equipped with knowledge and technological know-how essential for the smooth flow of the needed transformations which will lubricate the development and catching up process in developing nations.

The President outlined his government’s initiatives, including the evaluation of under-performing Science and Technology Research Institutes and the establishment of a Technology and Innovation Council and a Digital Transformation Agency. Additionally, Sri Lanka plans to create four new universities specializing in new technologies, with one being the result of technological cooperation between India and Sri Lanka. The International Climate University will be the 05th.

Addressing the digital divide, President Wickremesinghe cited challenges such as limited access to costly technology, insufficient digital skills and infrastructure, cultural and institutional barriers and financing constraints.

He called for effective cooperation mechanisms within the G77 and China, including the revitalization of the Consortium of Science & Technology & Innovation for the South (COSTIS) and the commitment of member countries to earmark 1% of their GDP for R&D over a decade.

President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of collaboration between governments and the private sector and proposed creating technological platforms in fields like digitalization, health, medication, AI and renewable energy including green hydrogen, inspired by the European Union’s Technology & Innovation Platforms.

The brain drain from the South to the North and the resulting loss of educated manpower is another threat to the development of Science Technology and Innovation of the South, President Wickremesinghe said, adding that China, India, Japan and South Korea have developed Science Technology and Innovation by nurturing their manpower. “Therefore we must ask for compensation from the North for the loss of our manpower,” he added.

He also urged increased South-South cooperation and proposed a scheme akin to the Colombo Plan to enhance collaboration, exchange best practices and develop policies that harness the transformational potential of science, technology and innovation.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to supporting the new Havana Declaration and called for the collective voice of G77 and China to be heard in international fora.

The President’s address underscored the significance of science, technology and innovation in shaping the future of developing nations, making it a pivotal moment at the G77 and China Summit.


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Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty




Danushka Gunathilaka was arrested in November while in Australia for the T-20 World Cup (pic ABC)

Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexual intercourse without consent following an accusation of “stealthing” involving a Tinder date in Sydney.

The 32-year-old was arrested in November while in Australia for the T-20 World Cup, after he went for drinks with a woman near the Opera House.

He had chatted online for several days and then had dinner with the woman, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, before being invited back to her eastern suburbs home, the NSW District Court heard.

The Crown’s case was that he removed a condom during intercourse without the woman’s knowledge when she had consented only to protected sex.

The complainant told the court she did not see the batsman remove the condom, but saw it on the floor shortly after the intercourse stopped.

Judge Sarah Huggett today found evidence about the “genesis” of the woman’s complaint undermined the reliability of her evidence. The judge said the woman had given different accounts in her two statements; the second, given in April this year, went into further detail about the issue of ‘stealthing’ and added that the complainant did not have a “clear memory” of what happened around the time she saw the condom on the floor.

“The evidence establishes there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during the intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” she said.

Judge Huggett considered the woman’s first conversations with two close friends, which seemed to frame the complaint in terms of the roughness of the sexual activity.

Gunathilaka’s defence counsel argued the woman lied, gave self-serving evidence and appeared to not remember parts of the night that were inconsistent with a “narrative” she created, which morphed over time.

Murugan Thangaraj SC told the judge the Crown failed to establish the woman’s reliability and highlighted what he said were inconsistencies and implausibility in her version of events.

He said it was “completely illogical” to claim she felt ambushed before lighting candles in her bedroom, effectively setting it up for “a romantic sexual liaison”.

In court, the woman alleged Mr Gunathilaka kissed her “forcefully” on the way home and on her couch, where she felt “ambushed” before moving to the bedroom.

She further alleged he choked her three times during sex, leaving her fearful for her life, and ignored requests to go slow.

Judge Huggett found the woman was an “intelligent witness who gave evidence in a considered way”, and was overall a “calm and responsive” witness.

But the judge said there were times when it appeared the complainant was motivated by a desire to paint the accused in an unfavourable light.

In his police interview, Mr Gunathilaka said he told her his preference generally was to not use condoms but wanted to on the night because it was their first meeting.

In the interview, the cricketer made mention of there being two condoms because one malfunctioned — which the Crown said was a deliberate mistruth.

But Judge Huggett disagreed, finding that his answers were the result of “confusion, fatigue, a language barrier and possibly memory”.

“I formed the distinct impression he was doing his best to be truthful and assist the police,” she said.

Sitting in the interview room, Gunathilaka told police the woman had organised him a taxi and he kissed her before leaving. “She didn’t even text me, I didn’t text her also,” he said.  “And that’s it, then I’m here.”

Gunathilaka has been in Australia on bail since mid-November.

(ABC News)

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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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Clinical Australia sign off World Cup preparations with consolation win




Maxwell picked up a four-wicket haul (Cricbuzz)

Having posted the highest ODI total at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, Rajkot on Wednesday (September 27), Australia’s bowlers led by Glenn Maxwell put up a disciplined performance as the visitors registered a 66-run win over India to end the series with a much-needed consolation victory. The result is a morale-booster for Australia, given that this was the last international game before the World Cup that starts next week.

Chasing a strong target of 353, India started with an unconventional move of using Washington Sundar as the makeshift opener with skipper Rohit Sharma. With both Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan unavailable, the think tank had to try a new opening pair but the move didn’t really work. The opening stand went past fifty but it was dominated by Rohit who looked in sublime touch. Anything remotely short was dispatched and the ball-striking from the captain was lethal. Sundar, meanwhile, was scratchy and eventually fell to Maxwell after the first Powerplay.

Like the first innings where the older ball was tougher to score off, the pattern repeated and with the track slowing as well, the chase wasn’t easy. Rohit and Kohli stitched a stand to keep things going but neither were able to exert any sort of dominance on the Australian bowlers. The visitors used the surface cleverly, mixing up their pace and lengths to stifle the scoring rate. However, as long as Rohit and Kohli were together, India had their chance of getting across the line. Maxwell turned the tide with two diametrically opposite bits of incredible cricket.

It needed magic to get rid of Rohit the way he was batting and Maxwell produced a stunning one-handed return catch to send back the Indian skipper. It was almost a reflex action than anything else but crucially for Australia, Maxwell held onto it, showing as much surprise himself as the others who saw him do the feat. If the Rohit wicket had a huge slice of luck, the Kohli strike was the result of brilliant defensive bowling. Maxwell stifled the India no.3 by keeping the radar right. Kohli tried to use his feet multiple times but failed to do so as the length was pulled back. Eventually, a desperate pull found the top-edge and Smith took a good catch.

The twin strikes gave Australia the much-needed momentum and India were never really able to stage a comeback from there. Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul were able to get starts but the run rate kept mounting before the former was dismissed by Maxwell with a lovely arm-ball. With a long tail today, India couldn’t have afforded to leave too much for the end and unfortunately for them, that’s what happened. Tanveer Sangha was impressive alongside Maxwell while the other Aussie bowlers all did their parts perfectly well.

Earlier on, Australia put up their best batting performance of the series thanks to fifties from their top-four. Mitchell Marsh’s 96 was the cornerstone of the innings that was set up by David Warner’s early blitzkrieg. The left-hander was the aggressor for a change in his stand with Marsh and the tone was set up there. Although he fell in the first Powerplay itself, the platform was laid for Marsh and the others to do their bit. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne also produced fifties, the latter’s being a vital one as it came in the backdrop of a mini-collapse. Smith looked in prime touch, as did Marsh with both batters making full use of the good early batting conditions.

Australia were 215/1 at one stage, looking set for a score in excess of 375, if not 400. However, the surface slowed down a touch and wasn’t as easy to score off against the older ball. With the dimensions of the ground also being bigger than Indore, the Indian bowlers managed to pull things back in the middle overs. Jasprit Bumrah bowled a brilliant second spell although he eventually ended up with his joint most expensive figures in the ODI format. That comeback from India briefly gave them hopes of restricting Australia to a 320-330 score but Labuschagne anchored the innings to a very strong score. With a slowing pitch and lack of batting depth, India needed their top order to go big but that wasn’t to be.

Brief scores:
Australia 352/7 in 50 overs (Mitchell Marsh 96, Steve Smith 74, Marnus Labuschagne 72; Jasprit Bumrah 3-81) beat India 286 in 49.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 81, Virat Kohli 56; Glenn Maxwell 4-40) by 66 runs

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