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SLPP Chairman pushes for consensus with Tamil community



GL turns bridge builder between North and South 

‘We must not be captured and dominated by the past’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Education Minister and Chairman of the ruling SLPP Prof. G.L. Peiris declared in Jaffna that they shouldn’t allow the past to prevent a consensus among the communities for the benefit of all.

Prof. Peiris stressed the need to remove artificial barriers that separated communities. The Minister discussed how the ongoing new constitution-making process spearheaded by a nine-member committee chaired by Romesh de Silva, PC was proceeding.

The Minister said that the TNA had submitted far-reaching proposals to the Committee and the SLMC had been asked to furnish its suggestions. The SLPP, too, would soon be making representations, the minister said, underscoring the need for political parties to work on areas they could agree on without being trapped in problems.

The Minister, while acknowledging the need to be mindful of the past, emphasized the importance in not allowing the past to dominate the present. Prof. Peiris recalled how he sat for direct negotiations

with LTTE representatives-Anton Balasingham and Tamilchelvam  few years after the same people tried to assassinate the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Prof. Peiris said that he too received injuries and some shrapnel still remained in his body. The Education Minister said that he did not bear any grudge against anyone responsible for the suicide attack that almost claimed his life.

The minister was referring to Dec 1999 attack on the final PA rally in Colombo.

The minister said so in speeches delivered at the Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai and Uduvil Girls College where one-time External Affairs Minister explained measures taken by the incumbent government to strengthen education and agriculture sectors. Prof. Peiris said that the government considered both sectors priority and was determined to help the community.

In his address at the Jaffna College, Prof. Peiris underscored the pivotal importance in interaction between Tamil and Sinhala speaking people at different levels, particularly the students as part of the reconciliation process. Referring to the Norway arranged Ceasefire (CFA) during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister, Prof. Peiris shared a little bit of his experience as the Chief government negotiator at the talks with the LTTE.

Prof. Peiris said that the negotiations and related activities had been structured in such a way there were many exchanges of students between the Northern Province and the rest of the country. Such exchanges helped improve relations between the two communities, Prof. Peiris said, recalling the time Tamil and Sinhala students engaged in debates.

Education Minister Peiris over the last weekend assured the Tamil community that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government would do everything possible to boost the education opportunities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

 The Education Minister’s visit (Feb 5-8) took place amidst large scale protest campaign in the Northern and Eastern Provinces organized by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led political groups and the Muslim community demanding justice for those who had been missing as a result of the conflict, release of land occupied by the military, immediate halt to excavations et al.

Prof. Peiris said that the negotiations and related activities had been structured in such a way there were many exchanges of students between the Northern Province and rest of the country. Such exchanges helped improve relations between the two communities, Prof. Peiris said, recalling the time Tamil and Sinhala students engaged in debates.

At the onset, Prof. Peiris paid a glowing tribute to the Jaffna College for the role it had played over nearly 200 years in the education sector even during the turmoil in the North. Prof. Peiris also discussed the responsibility on the part of the government to ensure all possible assistance to the North though there were difficulties.

Prof. Peiris, who is also the Chairman of the ruling SLPP said that the recent setting up of a Research and Training Complex at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jaffna would be a tremendous boost not only to the Northern and Eastern regions, but to the whole country. Appreciating the role played by Japanese Ambassador in Colombo Akira Sugiyama in the fruition of the Rs 2.8 bn project, Prof. Peiris said that Japan always backed appropriate projects on Sri Lanka’s request though some countries imposed programmes they were interested in.

Prof. Peiris said that following the commissioning of the Agriculture Faculty in Kilinochchi on Feb 5, he, in the company of Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera and UGC Chairman Prof. Sampath Amaratunga had an opportunity to meet Vice Chancellor of the Jaffna University and Deans of Faculties and other officials in Kilinochchi where entire gamut of issues was discussed. The Minister emphasized the importance of the Education Ministry visiting the Northern Province to explore ways and means of helping the education sector instead of the officials visiting Colombo.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa brought the entire education sector under one ministry as he felt the need to address the issues in an orderly manner and the ministry was successful in doing so in spite of constraints.

In his address at the Uduvil Girls College, Prof. Peiris acknowledged the extreme difficulties experienced by the northern farmer community. The minister explained how the farmers had been denied and deprived of sufficient compensation for their hard work. The Minister pointed out how agricultural produce from the provinces, including the North, go waste on the way to major markets.

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Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk



“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo



Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament



School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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