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Rahman’s budget speech entirely devoted to condemning President’s speech as being communal



By Saman Indrajith

SJB Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahman told Parliament on Friday that reconciliation and inter-communal harmony would remain a distant dream as long as the government from the top to bottom worried only about the interests of one particular race.

Participating in the second reading debate on the budget 2021 on Thursday, MP Rahman said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his address to the nation on Wednesday commenced his speech by categorically excluding other communities focusing only on the majority community. “That is wrong. When the President holding the highest office of the country sets such an example, then it is impossible as the very same attitude is percolating down to other posts and finally the entire government machinery to the exclusion of other communities,” the MP said.

Rahman said that creating ‘us’ and ‘them’ mindset would be detrimental to the efforts to bring about ethnic harmony and reconciliation. “The President’s speech was an address to the nation and not to a single community. After winning the election, he became the President of the entire nation not the President of a particular community. But the President at the beginning of his speech stated that he had been voted in by a particular community. That is wrong. None of the former Presidents did such a thing. When the address is to the nation, it includes all communities in this country. After the recent presidential elections in the US, Joe Biden said that hereafter there would be no red and blue states in the US but he had only a single nation. That should be the attitude of a president. President Rajapaksa in his policy manifesto ‘Saubhagyaye Dekma’ (Vision of Prosperity) promises communal harmony. But in his speech he excludes other communities.

MP Rahman said the backbenchers of the government rank shouted at him hurling abuses and calling names.

Badulla District SLPP MP Thisakutti Arachchi said that the President had, in his speech, thanked those who had voted for him; he asked what was wrong with it.

Kurunegala District SJB MP Thushara Indunil raising a point of order called on the chair to control the House and requested all unparliamentary words by the government MPs be expunged from the Hansard.

Presiding member Matara District MP Weerasumana Weerasinghe ordered that all unparliamentary words of the government MPs be expunged and added that MP Rahman was to speak about budget proposals but he addressing some other issues.

MP Rahuman: “Those new comers need some coaching on how to behave in Parliament. Learn to listen even if you cannot agree with what the person says. That is the first lesson in democracy. The President, on the one hand, speaks of curtailing extremism and racism and, on the other, he himself creates divisions. If he wants to take forward the Saubhagyaye Dekma and the economy of the country he should think in terms of a Sri Lankan identity.

Presiding member Matara District MP Weerasumana Weerasinghe warned MP Rahman to stick to the subject he should be speaking on so that he could control the House.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary



There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran



But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President



The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.



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