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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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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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