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Singing lewd songs in Parliament: MP contradicts Speaker’s denial

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Both sides obsessed with others’ wives, ex-wives et al

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Rohini Kumari Wijerathna yesterday (4) contradicted Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s claim that nothing indecent had happened in the Chamber while he was in the Chair during the No- Confidence Motion (NCM) on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

The two-day debate was held on July 19 and 20.

Reiterating that some SLPP members had sung dirty songs about her colleague Thalatha Atukorale, MP Wijeratne said that Speaker Abeywardena conveniently denied the accusation claiming he was not in the Chair.

MP Wijerathna represents a 12-member Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus chaired by State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

Parliamentarian Wijeratne told The Island what she meant was that the Speaker should be responsible whoever sits in the Chair at a particular time. Speaker Abeywardena, a seasoned politician, obviously side-stepped the issue by claiming nothing happened when he was in the Chair. She urged the Speaker to reveal the truth and accept responsibility for the pathetic situation.

Fielding questions, the MP said that one could understand what was going on in the country if the Speaker could deny what transpired in Parliament in spite of having access to the video footage. 

The former UNP lawmaker stressed that the verbal sexual harassment directed at former Justice Minister was definitely not an isolated incident. “Some members of both sides are obsessed with others’ wives, former wives, mistresses and girlfriends. Some target lawmakers, though the harassment of MP Atukorale was one of the worst cases, the Matale District MP alleged.

Wijerathna said she had no option but to go public as such abusive behaviour on the part of lawmakers couldn’t be tolerated. The discussions here on child abuse, sex crimes and basically offences against women should be examined against the backdrop of dirty remarks of some lawmakers, she said.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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