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Registrars of Courts among four most corrupt institutions

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A smiling Sabry holds his mother after addressing the media at the Justice Ministry (pic by Shamindra Ferdinando)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC, yesterday (17) said that four state institutions––the Police, Prisons, Government Analyst’s Department and the Registrars of Courts––were so corrupt that the country faced a daunting challenge to rectify the situation.

Addressing a gathering immediately after assuming duties at the Justice Ministry, Sabry explained how those responsible violated the rule of law.

Referring to recent explosive reportage of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) dealing in heroin, Minister Sabry briefly discussed how law enforcement authorities, Prisons, the Government Analyst’s Department and the Registrar of Courts contributed to unprecedented deterioration of law and order.

Among those present on the occasion were President’s Counsels Romesh de Silva, Gamini Marapana, Kalinga Indatissa and U.R. de Silva.

Separate Registrars are assigned to Magistrate courts, High Courts, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Minister Sabry said that according to a survey, Registrars of Courts were among the most corrupt in the country and he would examine the situation before announcing a plan on how to tackle the situation. He sought the support of all stakeholders, including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) to address contentious issues.

The minister said he knew how the people suffered untold hardships due to law’s delays. Continuing system failures ruined lives, the minister said, pointing out how child abuse affected the community.

At the onset of his brief address, Minister Sabry apologised profusely for having the meeting in a small room which could hardly accommodate those present. In spite of display of notices restricting the gathering of people due to continuing threat posed by covid-19 epidemic, over 100 were allowed in with most of those present not wearing face masks. Minister Sabry had to fight his way to the podium to address the gathering with Ministerial Security Division (MSD) being helpless.

Pleading that he wouldn’t do anything inimical to the Constitution and the people, Minister Sabry thanked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for giving him the challenging responsibility. The new minister vowed to overcome what he called daunting challenges.

The Minister quoted the Rajapaksa brothers as having told him to do the needful as he knew what the shortcomings and problems were.

Minister Sabry emphasised that his responsibility would be to implement policy decisions of the government and the cabinet of ministers.

Delivering an anusasana at the onset of yesterday’s programme, scholar Ven Medagoda Abeytissa Thera said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accommodated Sabry in the cabinet of ministers, in spite of serious protests as he had confidence in him. It would be Minister Sabry’s duty and responsibility to maintain President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s faith in him.

The Ven. Thera said that there was no point in hiding the fact that opposition political elements instigated protests against the top the justice portfolio being assigned to Sabry.

The Ven. Thera appreciated the role played by Sabry as a civil society activist in helping the then Opposition movement led by the Joint Opposition to turn the tables on the then government.

Referring to a recent statement attributed to Minister Sabry that the 19th Amendment enacted in early 2015 would be amended to suit the new government’s requirements, Ven. Abeytissa stressed that President Rajapaksa and the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) had received mandates in 2019 and 2020 to introduce a new Constitution. The scholar monk emphasized that there should be one law for everyone. Therefore, now in his capacity as the Justice Minister, it would be his responsibility to fulfill the aspirations of the public.

Referring to the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, Ven Abeytissa said that it would be the Justice Minister’s obligation to take measures to prevent the birth of more Zahran Hashims.

Commenting on the enactment of the 19th Amendment by the previous government, Ven. Abeytissa advised the Justice Minister to follow a policy of transparency in that regard.

Ven. Kamburugamuwe Vajira Thera warned of dire consequences unless the required far-reaching constitutional changes were introduced within a month or two. The Thera said that if the government failed to use its two-thirds majority immediately, it would have to regret its failure.

 



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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