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UNP accuses govt. of oppressing people of one ethnicity



The United National Party has written to religious leaders on the cremation of those who die due to coronavirus infection against certain religious rituals.

 Deputy Leader of the UNP Ruwan Wijewardene has, in a letter to the religious leaders, said that the cremation issue has got internationalised as the government has mismanaged it.

 The Deputy Leader says that the end result of this delay is that various forces that seek to discredit Sri Lanka nationally and internationally by exploiting such issues are emerging in various guises to create crises in society.

 “Therefore, immediate action should be taken with the intervention of the government to defeat these objectives and to strengthen mutual trust and commitment among the people,” Wijewardene has said.

Following is an English translation of the letter sent to the religious leaders:

“On the situation regarding the cremation of the corpses of people who died due to corona infection

“The crisis over the cremation of corpses of Muslims who died of corona infection is now being discussed not only in Sri Lanka but also internationally.

“We have decided to send this memorandum to inform you of the UNP’s position on the current situation regarding the corona bodies and to request your immediate intervention in this regard.

“The government should take a quick decision on the corpses of people who die due to corona.

“We would also like to inform you that it is the position of the UNP that a consensus should be reached after discussions with all communities.

“UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the Working Committee Meeting held on the 23rd under his leadership presented the relevant proposal and we would like to inform you that the Working Committee unanimously approved the idea.

“Wickremasinghe suggested that it was the right of the relevant communities to decide whether to cremate or bury their dead, and that the government should consult with Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic and Muslim religious leaders before making a decision on the matter.

“We are of the view that all people can be addressed only if they are represented by responsible religious leaders representing all religions.

 “The UNP, as a party that has always given priority to Buddhism and is committed to protecting the rights and values of other religions, and recognizes inter-ethnic reconciliation, looks at this crisis from a broader perspective.

“It must be acknowledged that not only Muslims but also Catholics bury their dead. On the other hand, there are occasions when both Buddhists and Hindus bury their dead. There are also times when they cremate corpses. We must recognize that right as well.

“In this issue, we are of the stance that “by no means should people be segregated based on race, religion or caste and the real situation that exists must be discussed with religious leaders and no individual or group should be allowed to use such sensitive issues for narrow racist or religious purposes.”

“It is also important to look at how Korea, India and Germany have acted in this regard, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

“We are of the view that the recommendations made by the health sector should be highly regarded. It is imperative to pay close attention to the needs of the health sector. What needs to be done is to call all the religious leaders and the health authorities and take a quick decision

“Accordingly, we propose that the Department of Buddhist Affairs, the Department of Hindu Affairs, the Department of Christian Affairs and the Department of Islamic Cultural Affairs to hold preliminary discussions with the mediation of the Department of Health, and then take steps to hold discussions with religious leaders in coordination with the relevant departments.

 “The UNP is of the view that instead of negotiation with all parties and reaching a final solution, the government’s procrastination acting unilaterally, rabidly and oppressing people of one ethnicity and allowing this sensitive issue to become a national and international issue, will only indirectly help the forces that are trying to create negative attitudes towards our country in the international arena.

“Therefore, we take this opportunity to respectfully request you to intervene in this matter.”

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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