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.
22A: Jayasumana asks govt. to stick to SC ruling, warns against moves detrimental to unitary status
Dissident SLP MP Prof. Channa Jayasumana has said that the government will not be allowed to use the proposed 22 Amendment to introduce anything detrimental to the country.
The Anuradhapura District MP said that it would be advisable for the ruling party to refrain from proposing amendments at the committee stage, other than what were authorised by the Supreme Court.
The Parliament is scheduled to debate the 22 Amendment tomorrow (06) and the day after (07).
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill seeking the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution could be adopted with a two-thirds majority in the House, though some clauses would require a nationwide referendum.
The rebel MP said that the clauses, inconsistent with the Constitution, should be left out of the Bill.
Responding to The Island queries, the former State Minister said that they would defeat whatever attempts to undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status at a time the country was struggling to cope up with a deteriorated economic situation.
The lawmaker said that it would be nothing but treachery to allow opportunists to exploit the recent developments. Prof. Jayasumana intends to take up the issue at hand with the 13-member rebel group, ahead of the two-day debate.
“Obviously, the SLPP is divided over the issue at hand,” the academic said, adding that the election of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, as the President, to complete the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, highlighted sharp divisions within the party over policy and strategy.
The SLPP won 145 seats at the last parliamentary election, though over 20 members have now declared they wouldn’t follow dictates of the party.
Prof. Jayasumana said that he publicly discussed the issue at hand recently following a gathering at Horowpothana, Morawewa.
Meanwhile, Ven. Professor Induragare Dharmarathana Thera said that the Jathika Mahajana Sabhawa would launch a protest campaign today (05) at the Independence Square, at 8.30 am.
The Ven. Thera alleged that they feared an attempt would be made to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that was enacted way back in the late 80s to appease those pushing for division of the country, on ethnic lines (SF)
State FM: Treasury needs to increase revenue by Rs 400 bn
The Finance Ministry yesterday (04) quoted State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as having said that the Treasury faced the daunting task of increasing the revenue by Rs 400 bn.
Siyambalapitiya said that both the government and the Opposition had acknowledged the urgent need to enhance revenue. The Minister said that their efforts to save foreign exchange by restricting imports had been quite successful and that the government had been able to reduce imports by 25 percent, in July this year, when compared with figures for the same month in the previous year.
GL fires broadside at SLPP-RW govt., calls for accountability
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Dissident SLPP lawmaker Prof. G.L. Peiris has alleged that the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe administration has allocated 320 vehicles for the recently appointed 38 State Ministers and their staff.
In addition, those who had been appointed District Coordinators had also been allocated vehicles, the former External Affairs Minister told the media on Monday (03). The ruling SLPP secured the lion’s share of state ministerial portfolios, as well as lucrative appointments as District Coordinators, the former minister said.
Addressing the media at the rebel group’s office, at Nawala, the SLPP National List MP and the party Chairman flayed what he called the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government for squandering taxpayers’ money to appease a section of the Parliament at a time the vast majority of people were struggling to make ends meet.
Pointing out that in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the government could appoint 30 cabinet and 40 non-cabinet rankers, Prof. Peiris said that it was only a matter of time before the government increased the number of Cabinet ministers to 30. At the moment, the Cabinet comprised 18 ministers, including Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
Prof. Peiris said that in the wake of the Parliament approving the Social Security Contribution Levy Bill, the cost of living would go up further. The Parliament recently announced the Treasury intended to collect Rs 140 bn, annually, through the implementation of the new Bill.
The one-time Education Minister explained the current economic difficulties the student populationis facing. The retired top academic expressed serious concern over quite a number of students giving up education.
Commenting on the inordinate delay in conducting Local Government elections, Prof. Peiris alleged that the government feared facing the electorate for obvious reasons. Declaring that the Election Commission now had the power to call for Local Government polls, Prof. Peiris urged the EC to ensure the public received an opportunity to exercise their franchise.
“The EC shouldn’t disappoint the public,” the SLPP Chairman said, declaring their intention to move Court in case the government sought to further postpone the much-delayed Local Government polls. Prof. Peiris stressed their determination to vigorously oppose the government strategy to indefinitely put off Local Government polls. This should be examined against the backdrop of none of the Provincial Councils having elected members for several years now.
At the onset of the briefing, Prof. Peiris declared that the Opposition scored a significant victory when President Ranil Wickremesinghe was compelled to rescind his controversial Gazette notification on the setting up of High Security Zones in Colombo. The President wouldn’t have done so if not for heavy attacks mounted by all concerned. Prof. Peiris paid a glowing tribute to the media for relentlessly pursuing the issue until President Wickremesinghe had no option but to annul the dictatorial law. If the government strategy succeeded, Colombo city would have been transformed to a cantonment, the former Law Professor said, flaying Media Minister Bandula Gunawardena’s recent declaration that the electronic media needed to be regulated.
Referring to the recent warning issued by the Public Administration Ministry, to public servants, that they would be appropriately dealt with over social media posts/statements, Prof. Peiris said such a strategy wouldn’t work now. Reiterating the national economy was in such a desperate state, Prof. Peiris said that serious allegations, pertaining to procurement of coal for the Lakvijaya Coal-fired Power Plant, as well as crude oi,l couldn’t be suppressed.
Responding to a query on Sri Lanka’s position at the ongoing 51 sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, the former Foreign Minister faulted the government for arresting anti-government, activists under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Prof. Peiris said that in his former capacity as the External Affairs Minister he assured the UNHRC, in June this year, that the PTA wouldn’t be used while the government undertook a comprehensive study on a new security law. But, the government indiscriminately used the PTA in cases not related terrorism at all, Prof. Peiris said, questioning the rationale in Premier Dinesh Gunawardena’s declaration that those arrested in terms of the PTA wouldn’t be charged under the same law.
The Premier owed an explanation, the former minister said, pointing out the UNHRC was concerned over the utilization of the PTA.
The former minister said that if the UNHRC adopted a new resolution in respect of Sri Lanka, it could have a detrimental effect on ongoing negotiations with the IMF, the GSP plus as well as efforts to attract foreign investment. Prof Peiris insists: “What we really need is adequate investment, not more loans.”
Prof. Peiris said that the National Council was nothing but another talk shop. The government could have proved its sincerity by giving the leadership of parliamentary watchdog committees, the COPE and the COPA, to Opposition lawmakers, the MP said. Instead, the SLPP was hell-bent on suppressing those who dared to dissent, regardless of the consequences, the former Minister said, vowing to push for the restoration of parliamentary democracy.
22A: Jayasumana asks govt. to stick to SC ruling, warns against moves detrimental to unitary status
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