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Sri Lankans in US celebrate New Year through virtual event

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Enabling children to appreciate the rich traditions & cultural practices

The Sri Lankan community across the USA came together on Sunday (18) to celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year, through a Program initiated by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC.

Particularly intended to help children living in the US appreciate the rich traditions and cultural practices of Sri Lanka, the program was held in collaboration with the recently constituted ‘Overseas Sri Lankans Network’ (OSL) in the USA, and included music/dance items from cities in 15 States across the US.

The main program held at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. included the hoisting of the national flag, singing of the national anthem, lighting of the traditional oil lamp, and multi religious observances. Buddhist observances were conducted by the Chief Incumbent of the Maryland Buddhist Vihara Venerable Katugastota Uparatana Nayaka Thero, Hindu religious observances by Swami Ragubathi Kurukkal, Islam religious observances by Seyed Rizwan Mowlana and Christian religious prayers by Reverend Father Dilantha Arachchilage.

In an anushashana the Most Venerable Maharagama Dhammasiri Thero, Chief Incumbant of the Washington DC Buddhist Vihara and the Maharagama Sri Vajiragnana Dharmayathanaya emphasized the significance of the new year, and invoked blessings on the President, the Government, the people of Sri Lanka and all Sri Lankans in the US and elsewhere. 

The New Year message of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was read by the Deputy Chief Mission, Sarath Dissanayake.

Addressing the event Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Ravinatha Aryasinha said, given the COVID restrictions, the thought of having such a New Year event as a ‘Pan US virtual celebration’, germinated from the national and State based discussions the Embassy had over the past three months through the recently established OSL network which now spans all 50 States and supports the Embassy in advancing Sri Lanka’s interests – through political advocacy, economic empowerment, and socio-cultural engagement.

He said, through this coming together with Sri Lankans across the country, the Embassy was keen to not only showcase the abundance of artistic talent possessed within the community, but also to project the considerable organizational capacity the OSL community has when it works together.

The Ambassador hoped that this would be a new beginning, which will encourage all to work even harder to make the voice of Sri Lankan Americans more relevant in the USA – in cities, states and at the federal level, and thereby to do the motherland proud, while strengthening Sri Lanka-US Relations.

In a message to mark the occasion, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Mohan Pieris emphasized the uniqueness of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year as a festival celebrated mainly by the Buddhists & Tamils, adding that Christians too participate in the New Year celebrations and it has become almost a nationwide festival.

He hoped that New Year celebration would be a spring board to lasting peace with renewed hope.

Sri Lanka Consul General in Los Angeles Dr. Lalith Chandradasa, in his message elaborated on the cultural roots of the celebration by the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

He said the idea of the New Year is to move on with an open mind, asking for forgiveness from whomever with we had issues during the last year, as we march forward together so that we could bring prosperity and peace to the country.

The subsequent cultural program had over 25 colorful traditional music/dance items performed by Sri Lankan children, youth & adults from Washington DC and 15 States across the USA – California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Washington.

The celebrations concluded with a vote of thanks by Ms. Wijayanthi Edirisinghe, Minister/OSL who coordinated the celebration. This event was hosted by Ms. Koshila Peris and Ms. Vidya Sudhramaniam, with technical assistance and support by a group of Sri Lankan volunteers living in the Greater Washington DC area and the Embassy’s IT Officer

Kumara Karunarathne.



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Parliament prorogued

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by Saman Indrajith

Parliament has been prorogued with effect from midnight yesterday (27) by President Ranil Wickremeisnghe under Article 70 of the Constitution. The Department of Government Printing issued the Gazette notification annoucing the presidential order yesterday evening.The new Parliament session is scheduled to commence on Feb. 08.

A prorogation, which is a temporary recess of Parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning Parliament may be advanced by another Presidential Proclamation, provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

When Parliament is prorogued, the Proclamation should notify the date for the commencement of the new Session of Parliament, under Paragraph (3) of Article 70 of the Constitution.

During the prorogation the Speaker continues to function and the Members retain their membership, even though they do not attend meetings of Parliament.The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current Business before the House, and all proceedings, pending at the time, are quashed, except impeachments.

A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same Session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent Session, after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before Parliament, and have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next Session,” states the Paragraph (4) of Article 70 of the Constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not put an end to pending Business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new Session. At the beginning of a new Session, all items of Business which were in the Order Paper of Parliament, need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.

At the end of a prorogation, a new Session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the President. He is empowered, under the Constitution, to make a Statement of Government Policy in Parliament, at the commencement of each Session of Parliament, and to preside at ceremonial sittings of Parliament, in terms of the provisions stipulated in Paragraph (2) of Article 33 of the Constitution.

The President is empowered to make a statement of Government Policy at the commencement of each new Session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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LG elections may turn violent – CPA

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By PRIYAN DE SILVA

Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and co-convener of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu has warned that the March 9 LG polls (if held) may turn violent as political parties are fighting for their survival as the results of the election may be considered as a referendum. He said it was doubtful whether the election would be held.

Dr. Saravanamuttu sounded this warning at the conference on Campaign Finance Regulations, convened by the CMEV, and Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), which was held last Thursday (26). He recalled that once when he asked former President Mahinda Rajapaksa about campaign and party finances, the latter’s reply had been as follows: “I am not going to tell you the whole story, I cannot tell you the whole story and I will not tell you the whole story”

The Campaign Finance Regulation Act became law last Tuesday (24) and Dr. Saravanamuttu pointed out that the former President’s quip highlighted the challenges of collecting information on exactly how much is actually being used. “It is important that the public should know, whether it be cash or kind, from where the money comes from. And the information be made available to the public.”

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President: Cabinet has agreed to implement 13A fully

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Thursday, informed the All Party Leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the Cabinet was agreeable to fully implementing the 13th Amendment.Issuing a statement on Friday, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said the President is bound to implement the laws of the land and the 13th Amendment is a part of the Constitution.

“The 13th Amendment has been in existence for over 30 years. I must implement it. If anyone is opposed, they can bring in a constitutional amendment to change it, or abolish it,” he said.

The President said that the country has to decide whether to fully implement the 13th Amendment or abolish it. “We can’t decide to do neither. Any MP can bring a private members motion to abolish the 13A. What happens when most people don’t support the motion? We will have to fully implement it,” he said.

The President said that he is working, according to a Supreme Court decision, on 13A. “We have to look, especially at the decision given by Chief Justice Palinda Ranasinghe. We are still in the bounds of a unitary state. I am against a Federal state but I support the devolution of power to provinces. The provincial councils don’t even have the powers enjoyed by the City of London. So we can’t call this a federal state,” he said.

Wickremesinghe added that former President J.R. Jayawardane and his lawyers took great pains to prevent the 13A from leading to a federal state. He added that at the end of the war, against the LTTE, a large number of lands in the North and the East, that belonged to private owners, were under the control of the Army. However, most of it had been returned to the people, under presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena.

“Only about 3000 acres are under the security forces. The forces must be given the opportunity to release these lands, without hindering national security. The Land Commission, too, must be immediately established. The draft on that can be presented by March. The Commission will have nine members, from each province ,and 12 will be appointed by the President. The we can come up with a national land policy and the Commission can implement the land policy,” he said.

The President said that 30 percent of the land will be allocated for forests. Large swaths of forests, in the upcountry, and in the catchment areas, for rivers, have been destroyed.

“We must increase the forest cover and the Land Commission must be entrusted with this,” he said.

The President added that he will provide further information, on February 08, on how the amendment will be implemented. He urged political parties to submit their proposals by February 04, the Independence Day of the country.

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