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‘Save national assets from very same politicians who came to power promising to protect them’

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By Sirimantha Ratnasekera

It was so unfortunate that people had to take to the street to save the national assets from the very same politicians who came to power promising to protect them, Convener  of the National Movement to protect state assets Ven, Ulapane Sumangala Thera said yesterday.

 Addressing the media at the Dharmayathanaya in Narahenpita, Ven Sumangala said that during the Yahapalana regime there had been many patriotic forces including leading bhikkhus, protesting against the sale of national assets to foreign companies. “We call on the very same forces to come out again because the threat persists. The incumbent government is selling off national assets to foreign companies.”

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour pledged that national assets would not be sold off by a government under his presidency. But now that promise has been reneged on. The incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, while campaigning for the general election, vowed that under an SLPP government action would be taken to acquire all national assets that had been sold off by the yahapalana regime. Now, that promise has also been broken.

“The East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port is being sold to an Indian company by the name of Adani. This sale is taking place in the guise of promoting investments. Ports employees staged an protest campaign prior to the general election. PM Rajapaksa summoned the union leaders to Medamulana and promised them that the terminal would not be sold if an SLPP government was formed.”

The Thera said that the SLPP after forming the government had said that it was the Sinhala Buddhists who had voted for it. “Such a government should have upheld Buddhist values, but instead it has turned the country into the butchery of Asia. A meat processing factory is being set up in the Katunayake free trade zone to supply 10 percent of meat in the world market. Prisoners are massacred inside jails. Government leaders and ministers who were sworn in near the Ruwanweliseya and the Dalada Maligawa have no regard for the tenets of Buddhism. One of the ministers has visited Ruwanweliseya under the influence of liquor. This shows their true nature and people should realise that their patriotism is only a façade.”

The Thera said that a foreign bhikku had died here recently and his death was suspicious. “It is sad that none of the bhikkhus come forward asking for an investigation into that death. Many bhikkhus who give voice cuts calling for the release of VIP prisoners are silent when there is a danger to the sasana.”

 Lawyers Maithri Gunaratne, PC and Gunaratne Wanninayake also addressed the media.



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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