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Sumanthiran moves private member’s Bill to tackle health emergency

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By Saman Idrajith

TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran, yesterday (20), submitted a draft bill as a Private Member’s Bill to the Secretary General of Parliament to provide for the declaration of a state of public health emergency and the adoption of special measures in the interests of public health.

 The draft Bill contains a provision allowing Parliament to declare a public health emergency state through a resolution passed by two-thirds of members’ vote upon the written advice from the Director General of Health Services.

 The Bill envisages bringing in laws to enable remote convening of parliament, Cabinet meetings, court sessions etc., through the use of contemporaneous or near contemporaneous audio-visual linkage during the period of public health emergency.

The Bill says, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law, during the period of a public health emergency, and to the extent that is reasonable, any person may access any public service, including the issuance or renewal of identity documentation, the issuance of birth, death or marriage certificates, the issuance of certificates of absence, and the issuance or renewal of licenses, through remote electronic means, whereby the person is not required to be physically present for the purpose of receiving such service.”

 The bill proposes the setting up of a Public Health Emergency Council consisting of the President, the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, the Ministers of Health, Social Welfare, Environment, Home Affairs, Science and Technology, Defence, Police, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Education, Director General of Health Services etc., for the effective use of resources for the detection and containment of the contagious diseases.

 The council would have the powers of adopting measures necessary to counter the diseases including enhancement of public awareness and uninterrupted supply of goods and services, says the draft bill. 

 

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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