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Sabry says those with vested interests distort his statements

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by Saman Indrajith

Justice Minister Ali Sabry yesterday said a group with vested interests had distorted his speeches to tarnish his image.

 “They take sentences in my speech out of context and level various accusations against me. I am accused of things that I have not said and not even intended to say,” the Minister said in a brief interview with The Island.

 “I actually have no time to respond to these allegations because it would deprive me of my time that I need to attend to my work. But since you asked about these sustained malicious attacks, I respond that I have seen recently that whatever I say get misinterpreted in other forums. For example recently in Parliament there was a question posted to me.

It asked whether I understand that article 12(1) of the Constitution required that all laws should apply to everyone equally in this country. Then I was asked whether I agree that Article 16 of the same Constitution was preventing that previous law taking into effect. The Article 16 has been included in the constitution allowing for the functioning of special laws that prevailed in the country when that constitution was promulgated. When that constitution came in there were special laws for particular communities and for particular subjects.

“In my response I said that there are a number of such special laws. I said that they cannot remove Article 16 from the Constitution because all personal and special laws will collapse. There is Theswalamai law, there are Upcountry laws and there are Muslim laws. I also pointed out that if that Article 16 is taken out of the constitution all such personal laws will be abolished including the Buddhist Temporalities Act. I also said not to do that and it could not be done. Soon after that my speech was misinterpreted and I was accused of speaking to remove the Buddhist Temporalities Act. I never said so. That is not even intended, never said and in reality one could not do away with it anyway because this is a Buddhist country.”

President’s Counsel Sabry said: “I can’t remove the laws that I like or dislike just because I am the Justice Minister. I have no such powers. There is a whole process. It has to go to the cabinet and get its approval, thereafter it has to go to the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Legal Draftsman has to send it to the Attorney General. The Attorney General if he thinks that it could become law has to send it to the Cabinet again. If the cabinet approves it again then it has to be published in the gazette. Then that has to come before parliament as a draft bill. It is read and debated twice. In parliament it has to be passed by majority of votes. 

“I single-handedly cannot amend existing laws or bring in new laws. These accusations have got the support of ignorant people who do not know about that process. This would not have happened if they look into the teachings of the Buddha in the Kalama Sutra of the Tripitaka which instructs one not to accept anything merely because somebody says so but to use one’s brain and find out what is correct and what is not.

“If we follow Kalama Sutra in this country, most of those mishaps and effects of miscommunication could be avoided. We must follow the Kalama Sutta in spirit and in law. I am not talking of Buddhism but of Buddhist values which state that hatred never ceases by hatred but by love.  And there is the Buddhist value- wishing may all beings be happy,  may all beings be well, may all beings be relieved of pain and attain liberation. That means all kinds of people including the animals should get liberated. It is time that we question ourselves whether we live by those values. And the Buddha has also said that somebody would never become an outcaste or Brahamana by birth, but by conduct.

“These are the values that I have been brought up. I may be a Muslim but I am a Sri Lankan. I studied in the Sinhala medium from Grade One. Those values are inculcated in me and my sub conscience through the readings, through the society, through the speeches. I am inspired by those values not by these hegemonic values. Beautiful values of the Buddha are part of my life. I do not hate anyone, I do not think I am superior to anyone else.”

 

 



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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