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Vaccination of those under 18: Sobitha Thera urges caution



Ven. Omalpe Sobitha thera recently said that there was no scientific consensus about vaccinating children against COVID-19, and Sri Lankan children should not be used as guinea pigs. The Thera made this statement addressing a press conference organised by the Collective to Minimise COVID deaths.

The Thera said that they did not oppose the government’s decision to reopen schools. However, steps should be taken to enhance the natural immunity of children and certain tools and practices of indigenous medicines, too, could be used for the purpose, he said.

“We must all think long-term given the impact of this crisis. However, I don’t think that those in power are taking a long-term view of the crisis. I spoke to Prof. Tissa Vitharana about the pandemic and he is our most authoritative virologist. I also spoke to Dr. Channa de Silva who is Chest Physician and a Paediatrician· They all think that we must not vaccinate children hurriedly,” the thera said.

The Thera d that added the WHO was of the opinion that COVID-19 vaccines were safe for those above 18 years and that children and adolescents tended to have milder disease, compared to adults, so unless they were part of a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it was less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions, and health workers.

“As we know the vaccine only reduces the severity of the disease and deaths. There is also research that there are some serious side-effects of the new mRNA vaccines. Surf the Internet and there is a lot of information from reliable sources. So, why are we in such a hurry to vaccinate our children?” the Thera asked.

The Thera also criticised the statement made by Dr. Harsha Atapattu, urging women to postpone pregnancy. All nations in the world are facing the pandemic and not a single senior doctor who holds a key position has made such a request, the Thera said.

“It seems that the doctors and officials in charge of the pandemic response are just blurting out things that come to their mind. They are not thinking rationally or scientifically. Meanwhile, intelligent and thoughtful doctors and officials have been sidelined. Real experts are silent or have just stopped offering advice. This is why we should be wary of this sudden desire to vaccinate children with Pfizer.”said.

The Thera said that some researchers were worried about administering the mRNA vaccines to pregnant mothers because they worry the fetus might be affected. Given that many tests were underway that would give us better answers about vaccinating children. Since children and adolescents were less affected by the virus, Sri Lanka should wait until the world had a clear answer about the vaccines. In the meantime, the government should take steps to boost the immunity of children and establish protocols that limit the chance of the spread of the virus, he said.

“Renowned experts on vaccines and genetics claim that we must first carry out research about vaccines before giving them to kids. The University of Sri Jayewardenepura has done excellent research. Why doesn’t the government ask them to research this? Why hasn’t the government looked at the tools to boost immunity of Sinhala medicine? Just because a vaccine has been given in the US, we must rush to the conclusion that it works here,” he said.

The Thera said that the government should promote food supplements produced by indigenous medical practitioners to boost immunity. There were a number of associations who were working on this regionally.

Dr. Udara Sampath Gunawardane, who also spoke at the press conference, said that most Medical Specialists had not commented on vaccinating children. Long years were needed when recommending vaccines and medications for pregnant women and children, he said. “While the body composition of adults over 25 are set for the most part, we must be wary of giving young people vaccines using spike proteins/ genetic material”, he said.

“In a week or so the government is planning to vaccinate those under 18. Have we conducted any study? If so, show us the report. Look at the side-effects of such a vaccine on children. Talk to authoritative experts on vaccines and genetics. They will tell you in private that mRNA vaccines should not be used on kids, but only Prof. Vitharana has said this in public. Authoritative experts on vaccines and genetics too have a responsibility to come out and tell the truth. We must not take these unnecessary risks.”

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JVP, too, moves court against deal with US company



By Chitra Weerarathne and A.J.A. Abeynayake

The JVP yesterday (26) filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal requesting it to declare null and void a Cabinet decision to transfer 40 percent of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to US Company, New Fortress Energy Inc.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ceylon Electricity Board, West Coast Power (Pvt) Ltd, Lakdanavi Limited, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have been named as respondents among 43 others.

The JVP’s petition has come in the way of Colombo’s Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven Elle Gunawansa, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya and the Federation of National Organisations (FNO) moving the court against the controversial deal with US energy company,The application has also sought a writ of mandamus on the respondents preventing them from taking any action with regard to the matter until the application is taken up and its examination is concluded.

Former JVP MPs Sunil Handunnetti and Wasantha Samarasinghe are the petitioners.

The petitioners state that the Cabinet decisions undermine the rule of law, the Constitution and democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and several other statutes, and conventions of democratic governance and Cabinet of Ministers exercising executive powers.

The petitioners state that LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., is the largest power sector engineering company in the country. It was first incorporated in the 1980s as a joint venture of the Ceylon Electricity Board and a multinational group – ABB of Norway.

The Petitioners state that Lakdanavi (Pvt) Ltd., is a fully owned subsidiary of LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., and is a company specialised in engineering, procurement and construction and operations and maintenance in the energy and power generation sector.

They assert that the government has not properly explained particulars of the deal even to the Cabinet of Ministers when transferring the shares of the power plant to the American company.

They have also alleged that the government has not obtained the approval of Parliament for the agreement in question and that the relevant share transfer process has not been carried out in accordance with a formal tender procedure.

They have sought the Appeals Court to issue an order rescinding the decision taken to transfer the shares to the American company and the agreement signed by the government.

In addition, the General Secretary of the SJB MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara filed a Fundamental Rights application in the Supreme Court on 21 Oct., challenging the government decision to transfer 40 per cent of the Kerawalapitiya Power Plant to the US firm.

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Ex-Indian HC in Colombo during turbulent 1989-90 will be featured in next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar



Ambassador Lakhan Mehrotra, former High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, will be featured in the next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar scheduled at 2.30 p.m. IST/SLST on Thursday 28th October.

Mehrotra will be interviewed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation. They will discuss the guest speaker’s publication ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’, which features his experience during the period 1989-1990, when he served as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, during a politically turbulent era coupled with the separatist war in the north-east and an insurrection in the south.

His book, ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ touches on the beginnings of the conflict, briefly follows on its evolution until it reached its peak in the early 1990s, and then takes the reader in detail through the author’s own experience in the country, nearly two years after the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement was signed and the Indian Peace Keeping Force had been inducted at the invitation of President J. R. Jayewardene, while President Premadasa, who succeeded President Jayewardene considered the presence of an Indian military contingent on his nation’s soil as an affront to its sovereignty. Soon after his election, the President issued an ultimatum for the IPKF to leave its shores by 29th July 1989 and threatened military action against it if it failed to do so, which brought the two nations to the brink of a military confrontation.

The High Commissioner’s intensive consultations and tireless interaction with the political leaders of Sri Lanka, the warring factions in the country’s north-east, and the governments in New Delhi and Colombo helped signing of the joint communique on 28th July 1989 on arrangements for phased withdrawal of the IPKF in March 1990 with due recognition of its contribution and sacrifices made to preserve the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ provides information that has never been divulged before. The “In Conversation” webinar will delve into these experiences of the High Commissioner; whose rather brief assignment was from April 1989 to June 1990.

Following his assignment that covered the most turbulent period of Sri Lanka in modern times, Ambassador Mehrotra served as Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Africa before his retirement in 1992. Later, he served as UN Secretary General’s Personal Representative in Cambodia from 1997 to 2000 and as Head of the UN Diplomatic Mission in Jakarta for Peace Talks between Indonesia and East Timor.

Those who are interested in retracing the history of Sri Lanka should register in advance for this webinar through the link below:

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Cardinal lashes out at Minister known as Ten Percent



His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith visits Sarakkuwa in the Pamunugama area where clearing of X-Press Pearl debris continuinues.Pic by Nishan S .Priyantha

By Norman Palihawadane and Nishan S. Priyantha

Monies taken in the form of commissions by forfeiting people’s welfare will never do any good to those who take them, says His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

“The biggest malady our society is afflicted with is the commissions earned by politicians through various deals. They take commissions from companies by depriving the people of their dues. Such money has blood on them and they would not do any good to those who take them,” the Cardinal said yesterday.

Speaking to journalists at the Sarakkuwa beach in Pamunugama during an inspection tour to witness the progress of cleaning work of the MV X-Press Pearl wreck the Cardinal said: “We have a Cabinet minister who is notoriously known as Mr. Ten Percent. Imagine the shame on this nation when there is such a minister taking ten percent of commission from every project he passes. The monies collected in that way would never bring out any good.”

The Cardinal said that the President, the Prime Minister and government institutions including the Ministry of Fisheries, coast conservation department, marine environment protection authority and urban development authority were duty bound to remove the wreck, clean the beach and the ocean. “In doing so, the government should be concerned about the interests of people, and not about the shipping company, its local agents or agents of the insurance companies. We demand that the government take this case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and get full compensation for the people. We have information that the agents of companies have come down and are staying in Colombo exerting influence on various political leaders and officials. Their objective is getting out of this by paying a paltry sum. If the politicians and officials permit that we will take to the streets with people.”

The Cardinal said that there was information that Urban Development Authority officials were making plans to give away Muthurajawela to foreign companies. “Muthurajawela is a national asset and belongs to the people. The politicians have no right to sell them off to Korean or Chinese companies. We would not let that happen,” he said.

Associated with the Cardinal were Ven. Pahiyangala Ananada Thera, Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Chairperson, bishops and other religious leaders.

The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Colombo in May and sank while transporting 1,486 chemical containers from the Middle East with stops in India and Sri Lanka during its voyage to Singapore.

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