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Speaker recalls Turkey’s prompt recognition of Lanka’s Independence

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywar-dena said that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Sri Lanka after its independence and ever since Turkey had stood by Sri Lankans in many exigency situations.

The Speaker was grateful to Turkey for medical donations dispatched to Sri Lanka recently to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Speaker said this at the Sri Lanka – Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association meeting held in Parliament recently. Rakibe Demet Sekercioglu, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Sri Lanka and several Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament were present at the meeting.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha, was appointed as the President of the Sri Lanka – Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association and Parliamentarians J. C. Alawathuwala, Rishad Bathiudeen, and Mohamed Muzammil were appointed as the Vice Presidents of the Association.

MP Harshana Rajakaruna was appointed as the Secretary and MP Ishak Rahuman, was appointed as the Treasurer.

Before the election of the officer-bearers of the Sri Lanka – Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association the Speaker made the welcome speech.

Speaker Abeywardena said: “On behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, I warmly welcome this distinguished gathering present here today at this meeting to revive the Sri Lanka – Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association for the 9th Parliament.

Sri Lanka and Turkey relations have a deep history dating back to the 19th century and the ties have been further strengthened and consolidated subsequent to the opening of resident diplomatic representations of the two countries: in Ankara in 2012 and in Colombo in 2013.

Sri Lanka – Turkey relations expanded to Trade, Economic, Defence, Tourism and Educational cooperation and currently enjoy extremely friendly and brotherly relations which continue to flourish and strengthen day-by-day.

I must not forget to mention here that Sri Lankans always admire friendship of Turkey as a true friend and Turkey stood by Sri Lankans in many exigency situations. With much gratitude, we remember that President Recep Erdogan, when he was Prime Minister in 2005 visited Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004 and gifted a housing settlement in “Midigama”, South of Sri Lanka for the families affected by the disaster.

Sri Lanka and Turkey have also worked closely in various international fora including at the United Nations in relation to Counter Terrorism Conventions. Although the two countries have already strengthened Economic and technical cooperation with each other by signing several agreements, I believe that there is still much room for enhancement of bilateral cooperation.

At the conclusion, I wish the success for future activities of this Association, and hope that the Sri Lanka – Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association will further enhance the cordial relationship that exists between our two countries for many decades to come.’’

MPs Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Vijitha Berugoda, Mayadunna Chinthaka Amal, A. Aravindh Kumar, Ashok Abeysinghe, Sivagnanam Shritharan, Chandima Weerakkody, S.M.M. Muszhaaraff, A.L.M. Athaullah, Charles Nirmalanathan, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, Ali Sabri Raheem, W.H.M. Dharmasena, Velu Kumar, Niroshan Perera and Yadamini Gunawardena participated in the meeting.



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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament

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Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.

 

 

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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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