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Stop blaming extremism on religions, but stopping invasions of countries can wipe out extremism – Zuhair

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Sri Lankans must welcome President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s assurance to the UN Chief Antonio Guterres on Sunday that the Tamil diaspora would be invited for talks with his government, former UPFA MP M.M. Zuhair, PC said, adding equally welcome is the UN Chief’s assurance of ‘full support to Sri Lanka in moving forward to promote unity among different communities’, as highlighted by a media statement issued by the President’s office.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the former National List MP: “The multi- faceted problems and serious economic woes the country is facing, in addition to the Covid-19 complications, can never be overcome without promoting ‘genuine unity’ among the communities. The underlying issues that prevent unity and reconciliation need to be addressed and resolved. Sri Lanka’s President and government must talk not only to the Tamil Diaspora but also the elected representatives of the North and the East and the country’s religious cum civil society leaders.

Criminals, violent extremists and terrorists must not be allowed to change the course of the future or the history of the country. Repeated attempts to equate ISIS ideology with Islam need to be condemned. Such attempts will only multiply Sri Lanka’s problems. ISIS is an anti-Islamic ideology, whose handlers are widely believed to work for the Western arms industry.

The Sri Lankan President’s UN General Assembly ‘speech-script writers’ have dragged ‘religious extremism’ into the picture. The reports of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Easter Sunday Attacks and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry have blamed ‘Buddhist extremism’ nourishing ‘Islamic extremism’. What has Buddhism, Islam or other religions got to do with extremism or terrorism? Were those who massacred 33 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa in June 1987 and murdered 147 Muslims at worship in Mosques in Kattankudy in August 1990,‘religious extremists? Why blindly follow Western conversations on the matter? Who gave terrorists and criminals a religious face?

Buddhists in the Far East, Vietnam in particular and believers in Islam in the Middle-East and West Asia, Afghanistan in particular, have been the victims of US-NATO sponsored wars. Post 9/11 wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have resulted in nearly 3 million deaths and over 20 million rendered refugees cum internally displaced. Why was no appeal made to the US-NATO to stop unceasing invasions of third world countries, with the next theater of war said to be in South Asia, our region? Sponsors of wars manufacture weapons, so they need wars. Struggling nations like Sri Lanka need peace for their economic survival. We need to stop blaming extremism on religions but must declare that stopping invasions of third world countries by powerful countries rendering millions into refugees, can stop extremism.

The President’s initiative and the UN Secretary Generals support for promoting unity among communities could succeed substantially if we take the cue from New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden’s carefully crafted speech of September 3rd 2021 and desist from blaming extremism on any religion. There is no ‘Islamic Face of Terror’! There is no ‘Buddhist Face of Terror’ either as Time magazine years ago wrongfully but hysterically accused.”



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Vasu defends constituents’ right to differ

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Prez chairs govt. group meeting:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has strongly defended the right of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) constituents’ to take up contentious issues in public.

Minister Nanayakkara told SLPP parliamentary group meeting at the President’s House on Sunday night (24) that their right to differ on matters of public interest shouldn’t be questioned.

Nanayakkara said so when Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena and MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi faulted some constituent parties for dissenting views on certain issues.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was present at the meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The meeting lasted for about two hours.

The SLPP held Sunday’s meet in the wake of some constituent parties of the ruling coalition asking for a discussion on the questionable agreement between the government and the US New Fortress Energy Company over the Yugadanavi power plant, etc. Sources said that initially, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that the issue could be discussed with the Premier but subsequently arrangements were made for the Sunday’s meeting.

The New Fortress recently announced that a definitive agreement had been executed for the external investment in West Coast Power Limited (WCP).

WCP owns the 310 megawatts Yugadanavi Power Plant based in Colombo. The deal is also for the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo. In terms of the agreement, New Fortress will acquire a 40 per cent ownership stake in WCP. The US energy firm plans to build an offshore LNG terminal located off the coast of Colombo.

Minister Nanayakkara has said it is not unusual for members of a coalition to hold different views depending on the issues as they also represent the interests of the public.

Nanayakkara has pointed out how the left parties remained with the UPFA though they didn’t agree with the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to enact the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Parliament passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority on 08 Sept. 2010, enabling the President to seek a third term among other things.

The SLPP constituents have differed with the government on several issues such as fuel price increases announced by Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila on 12 June as well as the abortive bid to transfer 49 percent of shares of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port to India and Japan.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa spearheaded the constituents’ campaign. He sought an explanation particularly as regards Cabinet approval for the controversial energy deal with the US firm, without a discussion among ministers.

NFF sources told The Island that their leader felt the urgent need to take up the matter to prevent further deterioration of relations among the coalition members.

Several parties including government ally the Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa moved the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively against the secretive energy deal with the US firm.

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‘Those who hesitate to get vaccinated pose a threat to others’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath said yesterday a significant number of people had not received the Covid-19 vaccine, and posed a threat to society.

“No matter what your age category is, you will be at a higher risk of being infected and spreading it to others. So please get vaccinated,” he urged.

The DDGHS said that a booster shot would be given to people from 01 Nov.

The Health Ministry would carry out the ongoing vaccination drive until everyone got the first two doses, he said.

“However, we won’t keep hundreds of vaccination centres open. Most likely, those who have not got vaccinated will have to go to designated locations to receive the vaccine.”

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School attendance high as parents have faith in teachers – CTU head

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Teachers and principals protested at Colombo Fort yesterday urging the government to rectify their salary anomalies. The protesters marched from the Fort Railway Station towards the Presidential Secretariat but police did not permit them to proceed beyond the Telecom rounadbout. Pic by Nishan S Priyantha

By Rathindra Kuruwita

School attendance was high Despite inter-provincial travel restrictions, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said yesterday. “The government announced on 22 October that primary sections of all schools would be reopened on 25 October. Despite the short notice the attendance was high, and this is testament to the faith parents have in teachers,” he said.Primary sections of 9,155 schools recommenced yesterday.

“However, we will only teach. Teachers do a lot of additional work instead of teaching and most people who slander us have no idea about this,” he said.

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath urged relevant authorities to provide safe and adequate transport facilities to students. It was vital that those vehicles were ventilated, and social distancing was maintained.

“We urge parents to buy reusable face masks for kids. If your child has any symptoms of COVID such as fever and cold, don’t send him/her to school until you are certain this is not COVID. Teach your child the importance of washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. This is the way we can ensure there is no spread in the school system,” Dr. Herath said.

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