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U.K. commemorates 75th anniversary of WW-II end

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London, August 16, 2020 (PTI) Britain’s prince Charles on Saturday led the UK’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day – the day World War II ended with Japan’s surrender in 1945.

The 71-year-old heir to the British throne, joined by wife Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall, led a two-minute UK-wide silence from the national memorial arboretum in Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England as part of a service of remembrance.

It is estimated that there were 71,000 British and Commonwealth, including Indian, casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

The fighting in Europe had ended in May 1945, but many British forces were still fighting against Japan in east Asia.

The 75th anniversary of VJ Day – victory over the Japanese which signalled the very end of the Second World War – has been commemorated with a series of events honouring those who fought in the Far East.

A televised remembrance service took place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, where a two-minute silence was led by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at 11am.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson read the Exhortation before the silence, which was followed by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast over the arboretum.

Richard Day, 93, from Boreham Wood, north London, who was involved in the decisive Battle of Kohima in north-east India, which marked a turning point in the Far East land campaign, was among about 40 veterans at the ceremony of remembrance.

Day, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, served in the forces which relieved Kohima and Imphal and told of how he contracted malaria and dysentery at the same time, while fighting a highly determined enemy. He said: “I think the worse part was crossing rivers at night, it was cold at night – then all night in wet clothes and wet equipment, still having to move about. They (the Japanese) were very determined for their emperor. It was a glory for them to die for their emperor. They didn’t appear to have any fear at all.”

Charles and the duchess laid poppy posies and wreathes at the Kwai Railway Memorial, while veterans looked on from benches dotted around the memorial, to maintain social distancing.

The prince’s wreath read: “In everlasting remembrance, Charles”, while the duchess’s poppy posy read: “In everlasting remembrance of your service and sacrifice.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant tributes to mark the landmark anniversary have been organised online and in television, with the Duke of Cambridge to appear on screens across the country in VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, a pre-recorded BBC programme filmed at Horse Guards Parade.

Developed with the Ministry of Defence and involving 300 members of Armed Forces personnel, the programme scheduled to broadcast at 8.30pm promises a host of famous faces reading tributes, military bands and dramatic visual projection, with the duke to give a special address thanking veterans and the wartime generation.

In a video to be published online, the Prince of Wales reads an extract from the diary of his grandfather, King George VI, written on August 15th 1945, when thousands watched him and the Queen drive down the Mall in an open carriage.

He reads: “By 10am there were already large crowds outside Buckingham Palace and we drove in procession in a state landau with an escort to Westminster where I opened the first Peace time Parliament since 1938.

“The Crown was carried in the full procession but no robes were worn. My speech took 16 minutes to read, in which I mentioned the surrender of Japan.”

In a separate video, the Duke of Gloucester reads an extract from the speech delivered by King George VI on VJ Day, which forms part of an online service of commemoration from Leicester Cathedral.

In a special message, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh – who himself was aboard HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese signed the surrender aboard USS Missouri on August 15, 1945 – gave “grateful thanks” to all those who fought for the Allied nations.

In a statement, the Queen said: “Prince Philip and I join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.”

The Duke of Edinburgh, 99, featured alongside other veterans on a number of large screens across the UK, including the Piccadilly Curve, in a photo-montage showing veterans today and when they served.

In a letter addressed to the veterans of the Far East Campaign, Johnson showed his gratitude to the 50,000 British and Commonwealth service personnel who laid down their lives in the war against Japan, half of whom died in prison camps.

 



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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