During a discussion with Tamil Parliamentarians representing the North and East on Tuesday (18), President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that he has already put forth a comprehensive proposal to address the problems faced by the people in those regions and it is up to the Tamil Parliamentarians whether to take it forward or not.
President Wickremesinghe expressed his genuine intention to resolve the issues faced by the Tamil people without any political motivations. He elaborated on various bills and plans concerning the functioning of provincial councils, the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation, the Truth-Finding Mechanism, the Office of Missing Persons, and the development of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Furthermore, the President highlighted the government’s development initiatives for the Northern and Eastern provinces, including projects focused on renewable energy, water supply, infrastructure development, investment promotion zones, and the tourism industry.
Ultimately, the President underscored that the full enforcement of the 13th Amendment can only be achieved if all party leaders in the Parliament agree to a comprehensive devolution of powers. The President’s proposal and discussions centered around multiple measures to address the challenges faced by the people in the North and East regions.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe reiterated his unwavering dedication to upholding justice for the people of the North and East. He emphasized that any further actions taken for their benefit must receive the full support of Parliament through discussion and consensus.
Regarding the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, President Wickremesinghe informed that extensive discussions had taken place on the proposals. While it was possible to grant all powers outlined in the proposal, except for police powers, the inclusion of police powers would require the agreement of all party leaders representing the Parliament. He also noted that a two-thirds majority in Parliament was necessary for such decisions.
The President discussed various bills concerning the functioning of Provincial Councils after the initial devolution of powers. These bills encompassed the appointment of Regional Secretaries, education, vocational training, higher education, agricultural innovations, industries, and tourism. President Wickremesinghe assured that these bills would be presented to Parliament.
Under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, the President emphasized the importance of legally announcing the transfer of decision-making powers on specific subjects to the central government.
Regarding reconciliation efforts, the President revealed that the draft for the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation had been referred to the Attorney General for constitutional review and would soon be presented to Parliament. Additionally, the National Action Plan on Reconciliation, drafted by the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), would be submitted to the Cabinet in the near future.
In terms of the Truth-Finding Mechanism, the President mentioned that the Interim Secretariat had been established with the appointment of the Director General. Applications for key staff required to facilitate the drafting of guidelines would be invited, and formal mechanisms would commence after relevant laws were enacted.
Addressing concerns raised by Tamil party leaders, the President clarified that the government had not discussed or prepared for the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces. He also stated that the government was reluctant to involve foreign judges in the administration of justice in the North and East but would consider obtaining reports from foreign observers, following existing systems in South and East Asian countries.
The President engaged in extensive discussions about the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the activities of the Office of Missing Persons. Of the 21,374 complaints received by the Office of Investigation of Missing Persons, investigations into 3,462 complaints have been completed thus far. Ongoing investigations are underway on the remaining complaints.
In response to the Tamil MPs’ concerns that the complaints received by the Office of Investigation of Missing Persons did not provide complete information about missing persons, President Wickremesinghe requested that detailed information be submitted for forwarding to the Interim Secretariat for the Truth-Finding Mechanism.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the forthcoming anti-corruption law would undergo amendments by the parliamentary committee on July 19, taking into consideration the proposed amendments by the Supreme Court.
The President provided clarifications regarding the government’s ongoing development program for the northern and eastern provinces. He elaborated on the initiative to attract investment opportunities in the production of green hydrogen and ammonia as renewable energy projects in the North and East. The President further outlined the project aimed at enhancing the appeal of the Colombo port city through green hydrogen.
One of the key objectives of the Northern Development Plan is to harness the region’s renewable energy potential through the production of green hydrogen and ammonia. This strategy aims to attract investments and transform the port of Colombo and Pooneryn into a hub for the renewable energy economy. The President expressed his belief that this approach would lead to substantial growth in the sector.
Additionally, the “Water to the North” project includes various developments such as the Poonekery Tank, River for Jaffna (bringing fresh water to Jaffna Lagoon and increasing the water capacity of the Iranamadu Tank), the Small Tanks renewal program, the development of KKS Harbour, the development of Vauniya and Palaly Airports, the Ferry Service connecting the Northern Province and South India, the establishment of Investment Promotion Zones in KKS, Paranthan, and Mankulam, tourism promotion in the North, and the enhancement of Jaffna as a university town.
The President informed the East and North Tamil MPs about plans for the development of tourist attractions in Jaffna and Mannar, a tourist boating project around Mannar Fort and Kankasanthurai Island, the promotion of coconut cultivation in the Wanni district, and projects aimed at developing Jaffna as a university city. These initiatives are part of the government’s efforts to boost the tourism industry in the Northern Province and create economic opportunities for the region.
Priyadharshani’s four-for the highlight as Sri Lanka cruise into Asian Games semis
Chasing 79 in the rain-reduced 15-overs-a-side quarter-final, Sri Lanka coasted to a win in 10.5 overs. Rain and a wet outfield had delayed the start of the game by close to an hour-and-a-half. Once the weather cleared, Sri Lanka opted to field under grey skies.
Udeshika Prabodhani found some movement in the air, but it was Priyadharshani who inflicted the early damage, accounting for four of the first five wickets to fall. She struck twice in her first over – the second of the innings – dismissing Suwanan Khiaoto and Natthakan Chantham. In her next over, she removed Nannapat Koncharoenkai before accounting for Naruemol Chaiwai with a smart caught and bowled.
At 37 for 6, Thailand were sinking rapidly but a 29-run stand between Chanida Sutthiruang and Phannita Maya arrested the slide a touch. Sutthiruang top-scored with an unbeaten 31 and was the only batter to get into double-digits as Thailand managed to reach 78 for 7 in 15 overs.
Chamari Athapaththu and Sanjeewani then made light work of the chase. They brought up their 50 partnership in the sixth over before Thipatcha Putthawong accounted for Athapaththu, who top edged a slog sweep.
Putthawong also removed Sanjeewani but the damage had been done by then. Thailand were not helped by their ground fielding; they committed a number of mis-fields and dropped chances. Harshitha Samarawickrama closed the game in the 11th over with a pull over deep square leg.
Sri Lanka will face Pakistan in the second semi-final on Sunday.
Sri Lanka 84 for 2 (Chamari Athapaththu 27, Anushka Sanjeewani 32, Harshitha Samarawickrema 14*; Thipatcha Putthawong 2-21) beat Thailand 78 for 7 (Chanida Sutthiruang 31; Inoshi Priyadharshani 4-10, Sugandika Kumari 1-13, Chamari Athapaththu 1-13, Kavisha Dilhari 1-14) by eight wickets
Sri Lanka ratifies Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and expresses commitment to Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Sri Lanka reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation by announcing its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at a press conference convened as part of the EU Article 14 Conference on the CTBT.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry who participated in this Press Briefing revealed that Sri Lanka’s ratification of the CTBT aligns with the country’s long-standing and consistent policy on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Notably, Sri Lanka was among the first signatories of the CTBT in October 1996, mere days after the treaty was opened for signature. The nation was also the 13th to sign a facility agreement with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in 1996, leading to the establishment of an auxiliary seismic station in Pallekale, Kandy.
During the briefing, Sri Lanka commended the relentless efforts of the Executive Director of the CTBTO, and the entire CTBTO team in promoting the entry into force of the treaty. The treaty has witnessed a steady increase in the number of state parties, showcasing global dedication to nuclear disarmament.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s address at the UNGA: ‘Sri Lanka’s journey to rebuild trust and global solidarity’
President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday (21) on the theme “Rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity” and its relevance to Sri Lanka’s recent challenges.
He mentioned how Sri Lanka faced significant social, economic and political challenges in the past year, including threats to democratic traditions but has managed to achieve a democratic transition.
He highlighted efforts made to stabilize the economy, including economic reforms and foreign assistance and said that his intention is to lead Sri Lanka towards sustainable recovery and growth, benefiting all segments of society and ensuring peace, prosperity and reconciliation.
The President also discusses the global geopolitical landscape, emphasizing the inter-connectedness of various challenges, such as climate change, debt and sustainable development. He stresses the need for international solidarity and climate finance, particularly for smaller, climate-vulnerable and debt-ridden countries.
President Wickremesinghe mentioned Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action, including renewable energy goals, forest conservation and emissions reduction while expressing concern about the impact of climate change on food security, clean energy and livelihoods, emphasizing the urgency of mobilizing climate finance.
The President called on developed countries to fulfill their commitments, provide assistance and assume their share of responsibility, while underscoring the importance of restructuring the international financial system to address climate change and sustainable development.
Additionally, the President emphasized the need for reform in multilateral institutions like the UN, particularly the expansion of the Security Council’s composition and the importance of disarmament and the impact of global military expenditures.
Overall, the President’s speech highlighted the challenges faced both by Sri Lanka and the world, and emphasized the importance of solidarity, climate action, disarmament and multilateral cooperation in addressing these issues.
Following is the full speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly;
“Rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity“ is an appropriate point of departure not only for reflecting on the challenges before the multilateral today, but also for reviewing developments in my own country, Sri Lanka, over the past year.
At this time last year, amidst multiple global crises, Sri Lanka was experiencing its most challenging period in recent times socially, economically and politically, which had a devastating impact on people’s lives.
Even our Democratic traditions were threatened by attempts to occupy our Parliament and bring it to a halt. Nevertheless, we succeeded in bringing about a democratic political transition, due to our deeply entrenched and resilient democratic traditions.
Resorting to the re-graduation of Sri Lanka’s economy, coupled with the gift of fertilizer from the United States’ Government which led to a bumper harvest, has assisted us in ensuring stability during that period.
The reforms I have since initiated in the economic, financial, institutional and reconciliation fronts have been directed on the one hand towards rebuilding trust and confidence between the people and the government; and on the other, towards laying the foundation for economic stabilization and recovery. Sri Lankans are already witnessing the positive outcomes of these measures in their daily lives and the revival of confidence internally and externally in the progress of the country.
It is my intention to lead the country towards sustainable and stable recovery and growth which will benefit all segments of Sri Lankan society in all parts of the country, ensuring a future of peace, prosperity and reconciliation for the present and future generations of women and men. In reaching this goal, we will be accompanied by the support, trust, and solidarity of our own people and of the international community.
As we turn the corner towards the 80th anniversary of the UN and prepare for the Summit of the Future in 2024, we see the fragmented geopolitical landscape of a multi-polar world where new centers of global power have emerged.
Accompanying this systemic change, are, on one hand, great expectations of development and human progress with millions of people rising out of poverty to prosperity.
On the other hand, we see a world where former big power rivalries and geopolitical tensions have reignited in open war, overlapping with new theaters of conflict and tension on land and in the oceans. Security Alliances have expanded and recent arrangements have been formed to deal with strategic threat perceptions in old and new theaters of conflict. North-South divisions are widening with the digital divide, the financial and debt crisis and the energy transition. Contrary to the promise of 2030, today we are seeing levels of poverty and hunger not witnessed since decades.
Neutral, nonaligned countries of the global South such as Sri Lanka are once again constrained in-between new global power configurations facing those who not respect the sovereignty of our nations.
In numerous recent Declarations in the UN and beyond including at the G20 in Delhi, the BRICS in Praetoria and G7 in Hiroshima, we have agreed that our challenges are interconnected, across borders and all other divides. We must grasp the opportunity to unite in order to build an inclusive future.
It is an appropriate reflection of this current global predicament, that the theme of this year’s general debate is “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity”.
This year, in parallel with the UNGA, we have participated in three interrelated summits dealing with accelerating the SDGs, Financing for Development and Climate Ambition where we agreed that international solidarity and collective action is needed to address these simultaneously.
Cross-border financial impacts of crises such as climate change and the pandemic are impeding the ability of smaller indebted countries such as mine, to make progress on SDG’s and climate adaptation and mitigation. Conflicts and tensions among big powers are complicating the policy environment for the rest by adding uncertainty to economic and macro-financial stability, disrupting supply chains and causing inflation as well as food and energy insecurity.
Long before the SDGs, Sri Lanka had achieved high human and social development indicators which ranked us in a category well above other middle-income countries. Neither has Sri Lanka shirked its responsibility to the planet. Last year at COP27 we outlined our Climate Ambition Plan. We said that by 2030 we will have 70% renewable energy in electricity generation, increase forest cover by 32% and reduce greenhouse emissions by 14.5%. We will phase out coal by 2040, and reach net zero by 2050.
Our low carbon development trajectory gave us one of the lowest per capita carbon emission rates for a lower MIC country.
This year as a result of exogenous shocks and debt, the incremental progress we were proud to have reached has been reversed. Food inflation reached putting significant pressure on food security amongst vulnerable communities. At the same time children’s education and nutrition have suffered due to the pandemic and the economic crisis.
In parallel, last month in Sri Lanka we were grappling with the driest weather spell seen in recent years followed by torrential rainfalls.
Adverse climate outcomes spilling over onto our tight fiscal space just as we begin to stabilize from last year’s economic crisis. As a climate vulnerable developing country in debt crisis, the urgency to mobilize climate finance is greater today than it was ever before. However, despite promises made to which we were all witness, rich countries are not delivering to expectation.
Developed countries must do their part and fulfill what they agreed – assume their share of the common but differentiated responsibility, provide assistance for mitigation and adaptation and compensation for loss and damage.
National efforts alone will not suffice to ensure the success of the SDGs and reverse climate change. The need for global solidarity to restructure the international financial architecture is paramount. This is articulated loud and clear in multiple global fora including in G20, and the BRICS. The Secretary General’s SDG stimulus highlights the interconnections between the achievements of the SDGs, combatting climate change and the concrete interventions required by creditors sovereign and private, as well as by IFIs including to mitigate the debt crisis.
It is estimate that the 2008 financial crisis has cost the U.S. economy $4 trillion. Recent studies in the U.S. have stated that the impact of the pandemic on the U.S. economy from 2020 to 2024 would reach $14 trillion. These numbers would more than double if the rest of the global economy is added. We have not faced an economic crisis of this magnitude any time before in our modern history. The cost of World War 2 in today’s USD would amount to $4 trillion, and the Marshall Plan would be $ 150 billion.
This is the magnitude of the challenge before us. Therefore if we are unable to restructure the global fiscal order, then certainly we will fail in the struggle to reverse climate change and achieve the SDG goals.
There is still time for course correction as the crisis has not reached its peak. At the same time, the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact will come up with the funding requirements.
Therefore, the Summit of the Future should not be crafting new programs, but re-structuring the present financial architecture to suit the needs of climate change and sustainable development.
This must be the priority of this General Assembly; we cannot afford to allow divisions to drive focus away from this crisis.
While key issues such as the Bridgetown Initiative and the necessity to address the debt of low-income countries are being discussed in this assembly, it is not commanding the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, the Security Council has failed to give priority to these connected issues of climate change, debt relief and sustainable development. This impacts the future of mankind. The survival of the planet must be our priority, we cannot afford to go into this war with a divided high command. The future of all species on the globe is dependent on our ability to put aside our rivalries until this crisis is solved.
Multilateral machinery which reflects the world of the past century needs to be reformed to meet the challenges of the present and the future, a machinery which has failed to find a solution to the longstanding Palestine question. The composition of the Security Council must be expanded to be representative of current global diversity and decision-making. In parallel, the role of the UNGA must be strengthened.
We are asking that the permanent members engage in a credible dialogue which will lead to a unified approach to combat these threats ahead of the next sessions.
While we seek solidarity and financing to alleviate poverty and climate challenges, global military expenditures have risen today to record levels reaching $2.24 trillion. This reflects the strategic trust deficit among the powerful, key arms control frameworks which were instrumental in maintaining system stability in the past have collapsed and nuclear conflict is once again under open discussion, potentially and apocalyptically triggered by autonomous control. We urge restraint in the increase of military expenditure which leads to escalation of conflict.
Developing countries have been the voice of sanity and reason in this regard for decades. In keeping with Sri Lanka’s longstanding position supportive of disarmament of WMD and nuclear weapons, this year Sri Lanka ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Yesterday, we acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The war in Ukraine has far-reaching and severe financial and humanitarian repercussions on food, hunger and debt in all parts of the world including Sri Lanka. It is recalled that the UN Charter vests on powerful states in the Security Council the responsibility to maintain international peace and security and to deescalate rather than ignite conflict.
We need to halt the momentum where this and other big power tensions are spilling over into established areas of international rules-based cooperation forged over decades of multilateral negotiation, ranging from international trade to ocean governance.
This international system is today undergoing vast changes. At the same time, it is being confronted with unprecedented challenges. We come to the United Nations to demonstrate solidarity in arriving at common solutions. What is at stake is not the future of the United Nations, but of our planet as a whole. Member States will need to find new ways of working together despite the increasing mistrust that has permeated international relations.
We who have not been able to find a solution to the Palestinian question must now be able at least to find a solution to the questions which threaten the existence of the present global community.
This can be achieved through the willingness of the permanent members to work together in solidarity with the developing world. They must show the way”
President Wickremesinghe also extended his sincere condolences to the victims and families of the natural disasters that hit Morocco and Libya in recent days and pledged solidarity with Moroccan and Libyan friends during this difficult time.
Priyadharshani’s four-for the highlight as Sri Lanka cruise into Asian Games semis
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