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Proposed anti-terror law will pave way for dictatorship, warns GL



Prof. Peiris

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Prof. G.L. Peiris, MP, yesterday (03) warned that the Attorney General would become extremely powerful in an authoritarian state if the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill became law.

Addressing the media on behalf of Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) at Nawala, the former External Affairs Minister explained how the Office of the AG would facilitate the emergence of a dictatorship.

FPA consists of rebel SLPP MPs who voted against UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the parliamentary poll to elect an MP to complete the remainder of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term.

The former top law academic issued the warning in the wake of Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella’s declaration that the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya would move the Supreme Court against the proposed law soon after the government tabled it in parliament.

Having explained the role of the AG, the National List lawmaker said that anyone could be at the mercy of the AG who could order rehabilitation of those having dissenting views.

At the onset of the briefing, Prof. Peiris alleged that the current dispensation was taking advantage of both local and international calls to replace the Prevention of terrorism Act (PTA) with a new law to bring in provisions meant to consolidate political power.

Commenting on the ongoing public sector trade union campaign demanding the revision of the government’s controversial tax formula, Prof. Peiris said that the proposed new law targeted trade unionists.

The issue at hand should be examined against the backdrop of growing opposition to privatisation of valuable state assets and profit-making ventures such as Sri Lanka Telecom and Sri Lanka Insurance.

In terms of the new law those who strike regardless of the declaration of selected sectors as essential services could be simply categorized as terrorists on the basis of strike being an act of terrorism, the former minister said.

The print and electronic media as well as social media platforms could be easily targeted for reportage of events and developments which the new law construed as act/acts of terrorism, Prof. Peiris said.

The former minister recalled how President JRJ sacked as many as 80,000 public sector workers for demanding a pittance of a salary increase. Alleging that 152 of those sacked public sector workers deprived of their salary committed suicide, Prof. Peiris said that the proposed law could be used to confiscate properties and cash of those found guilty of offenses under the proposed law.

The Professor explained how the new law applied to political and trade union activists and the media.

Giving Senior DIGs/DIGs the power to issue Detention Orders would be catastrophic as the process proposed in terms of the new law would be outside the purview of relevant courts, Prof. Peiris said. He declared that the courts, too, would be helpless as the government utilised the new anti-terrorism law to achieve its political objectives.

The former minister described the proposed law as the blueprint for what he called a complete dictatorial setup hell-bent on bulldozing political dissent.

The effort to put off Local Government polls was part of the overall strategy, Prof. Peiris said, urging the public to rally around the genuine Opposition to thwart the high profile project.

Prof. Peiris urged President Wickremesinghe to seek a new mandate to implement his action plan. Instead of Local Government polls, the President could call for parliamentary polls to ascertain the ground situation, the former minister said.


High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka meets with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament & Secretary-General of Parliament




Michael Appelton, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner, met with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle MP, and Secretary-General of Parliament, Kushani Rohanadeera, recently.

During the meeting, the Ambassador emphasized that gender equality in politics is vital for the achievement of peaceful societies, the realization of full human potential, and sustainable development. He also stated that they have taken several initiatives to ensure equal women’s participation in the New Zealand Parliament.

Dr. Fernandopulle, MP, shared her concerns regarding the lack of gender sensitivity in Sri Lankan politics. She drew attention to the urgent need for a more inclusive political framework that ensures equal representation and participation for women.

The Secretary-General of Parliament affirmed that Parliament has taken actions to increase youth and women’s representation in committees and is currently working on improving disability access to Parliament.



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Climate Change University to be launched next year




At the briefing on the progress of Climate Change and Green Growth held on Wednesday (31) at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and officials of the Climate Change Secretariat led by President’s Adviser on Climate Change  Ruwan Wijewardene it was revealed that the Climate Change University would be launched next year and that the University Grants Commission had  identified approximately 130 scientists who have gained international recognition for their research on climate change who, together with their international affiliations would be brought together as part of the initiative.

President Wickremesinghe expressing  his perspective on the International Climate Change University, emphasized that it should be a post-graduate institution solely focused on research which does not offer undergraduate courses. Any country or organization that contributes to the university becomes a stakeholder and gains membership on the Board of Governance. The Korean Exim Bank has expressed interest in partnering with the university and  negotiations between Sri Lanka and the Korea Exim Bank, led by the External Resource Department have concluded successfully. The President said that prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT have also expressed interest in collaboration.

The discussions also revolved around inviting a group of international experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tentatively scheduled for July/August to engage in policy conversations, addressing global issues, and exploring potential research projects that could be derived from these policy dialogues.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that all future research in the field of climate change should be conducted at this institution.

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IUSF threatens showdown



By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

The university system is facing a grave crisis as around 40 percent of the lecturers have left the state education system, says the Convenor of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Madushan Chandrajith.

Chandrajith said the ‘exodus’ of top academics would lead to a massive drop in the quality of education as most of those who have left are among the cream of scholars.Chandrajith said that about one-third of students in state universities, eligible for hostel facilities, did not have access to them.He warned that the IUSF will organise massive protests, in the coming weeks, if steps are not taken to resolve the many issues in the University system.

While the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased, the prices of food in the hostels have risen dramatically, he said.

“About 2,500 students in Kelaniya, 4,000 students in Rajarata and 6,000 in Peradeniya do not have hostel accommodation,” he went on to say..According to Chandrajith, a student needs about Rs 20,000 a month to meet basic needs.

“One requires about Rs 12,000 a month for food alone,” he said.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Administration told The Island that some lecturers and doctors had a 100 percent attendance record but they avoided work.

“They are responsible for the attendance registry and they cook up the books to have full attendance. They take a lot of OT payments by doing this. We are looking at introducing a digital mechanism to mark attendance at universities and hospitals,” he said.

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