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Wiggy complains of systemic racism against Tamils, Muslims

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by Saman Indrajith

Thamizh Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) leader and Jaffna District MP C.V. Wigneswaran says that the government continues to treat Tamil people in the North as the vanquished, and not as fellow humans in the same country.

Participating in the budget debate under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday (9) MP Wigneswaran said that the government had not indicated any genuine interest in achieving a permanent peace. “Is the present government interested in working for peace and therefore justice? I doubt it. If you had the slightest feeling for your co- citizens you would not expropriate the lands of indigent Tamils as done even today. You would not destroy the archaeological sites and heritage symbols of the Tamils. You would not be gathering and accumulating such large numbers of the Sinhala Military amidst the Tamil speaking denizens of the North and East. If this Government has feelings for the affected and the downtrodden they would not try to grab from them but give them instead help and solace. If this Government has feelings for their fellow human brethren they would treat them with love and respect. But you are interested in grabbing from us our land, our traditional way of life and our freedom. You continue to treat our people as the vanquished not as co- humans in this Isle. None of us have been vanquished. We still carry the torch of freedom in our hearts.”

The TMTK leader said: “Speaking of Justice I like to point out that in this country we appear to be on the side of the wrongdoers rather than the innocents. Have we punished one single person who was involved in the torture, murder, arson and rape committed during the 1956, 1958,1961,1977,1981 and 1983 pogroms? ” Have we punished one single person involved in the burning of the Jaffna Public Library which housed 97,000 rare books and manuscripts? It was the best Library in South East Asia at that time. Have we punished one single person involved in the crimes against the Muslims in recent times? At least has there been an attempt at accountability in this regard? Have we enforced the recommendations of several Reports of Commissioners submitted to the successive Governments? They have all been conveniently shelved!

“Despite a Muslim Minister and a Tamil Minister in authority let us not forget that power is in the hands of the majority community. It is they who decide what is best for us all even in areas where we are in the majority. Since Independence that has been the case. We have no inclusive Justice in Sri Lanka. We have only selective Justice. Nowadays, it is a justice selected for the wellbeing of Sinhala Buddhists only.

“We have a peculiar political culture growing up here now. Rewards and high governmental positions are today lavishly distributed only on the basis of how much suffering such individuals have brought to the minorities in this country. This culture is prevalent in this House too. That is why learned parliamentarians are today vying with each other to provoke their minority colleagues to shut them up from speaking and bringing out facts about themselves and the government.

“There is systemic racism now being promoted in the country against the Muslims and the Tamils. Racism has become an ideology. It is now being sowed freely in the far corners of this blessed Isle. Government departments have been made the instruments to promote such ideology. Parliamentarians behaving indecently in this august Assembly are carriers of this ideology. Even the press is being made into an instrument to sow the seeds of racism. Such racism is not going to take us anywhere. On the contrary this country is soon going to suffer by such propagation of negative and vituperative ideas and ideology.

“Let us not forget the Tamil youth took up arms not against the Sinhalese and their sovereignty. They took up arms because there was danger to their sovereignty in their areas in the same country. They wanted to protect their identity. But they were called terrorists and brutally dealt with getting help from no less than twenty other countries.

“Let us remember it is the sovereignty of the people which is paramount not of the State. That is the International take on this at present. Let us not deceive ourselves that we could take shelter under state sovereignty and destroy the people’s sovereignty. The concept of state sovereignty which prevailed in the 18th century is no more accepted by the international community. When human rights of people in a country are violated it is possible to disregard the state sovereignty of that country. This is the modern concept.”



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SJB: Excise, FM officials all out to pocket Rs 1 bn

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By Saman Indrajith

Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana yesterday told Parliament that the Finance Ministry and Excise Department officials had misled Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal in order to obtain billion rupees, fraudulently.

The officials had got a contract for printing stickers or barcodes to be displayed on bottles of liquor awarded to an Indian company.

“The project would result in one-billion-rupee loss to the government coffers annually,” the MP said, adding that the money being taken from the public purse would end up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

Pathirana said that the Excise Department had commenced a project to paste stickers on bottles of liquor to differentiate them from the fake and counterfeit bottles in the market.

“As per this project’s requirements, 32 million stickers would be needed per month. The stickers are to be purchased from Madras Security Printers company of India. This method was proposed in 2016 but it failed and the officials thereafter decided to introduce a barcode system.

“The cost of a sticker at 25 cents and the new barcode system will cost of two rupees a piece. This is a dubious deal. It seems that the Finance Ministry officials and the Excise Department heads have ganged up to give the contract to the Indian company and get commissions. There are many unanswered questions. First, the contract of printing the barcode too has been given to the MSP company, which could not secure the first contract. I want to know whether the proper procurement process has been followed. The second question is whether the barcodes would be up to the standards listed in the tender. Third question is who had selected the MSP company which is black-listed in India after being found guilty of frauds with Indian liquor companies in providing stickers to them. MSP has been blacklisted in many other countries. The company has been banned in Sudan and Liberia for supplying the stickers to private companies. The last question is whether this fraud is being committed with the knowledge of ministers of this government.”

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Reserves fall to lowest since 2009, rupee strengthening to be short-lived: report

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lanka’s Foreign reserves had dropped to USD 4.1bn in March 2021, the lowest since August 2009, on the back of over US$ 4bn outstanding debt payment during April-December 2021 period, a report issued by First Capital Research yesterday said.

According to the report, rupee appreciation is likely to be short-lived considering Sri Lanka’s depleting foreign reserve position, high foreign currency debt repayment requirement and limited funding sources available in the market are expected to further increase depreciation pressure on the currency during 2Q and 3Q.

“We maintain our exchange rate target for 1H2021 at Rs. 196-202 with 2021 year-end target at Rs. 205-215 as mentioned in our ‘Investment Strategy 2021 – January 2021,” the report recalls.

“Sri Lankan rupee appreciated 5% against the US dollar over the last 2 market days reversing the continuous accelerated depreciation witnessed in January-April 2021. On 12th April, Sri Lankan rupee recorded a historical low of Rs. 201:1 US$. Ministry of Finance (MoF) reported on the same day that the government of Sri Lanka entered into a loan agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB) for US$ 500mn and MoF expected the funds to be disbursed during the same week. Following the announcement, the market registered a steep appreciation with mid-rate recording at Rs. 190.9 on April 19,” it says.

The total foreign debt repayment (capital and interest) for 2021 is US$ 6 bn, according to the report.

Meanwhile FC Research believes that the temporary appreciation in USD-LKR, may adversely impact earnings of export companies such as Hayleys, Haycarb, Dipped Products, MGT Knitting Mills, Teejay Lanka, Expolanka Holdings etc. in the short term.

“However, considering the potential future currency pressure, we expect an overall depreciation of approximately 12% for the rupee providing a significant gain for companies with foreign currency revenue”, FC research predicts.

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Govt. asks Opposition not to propagate lies

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday accused the Opposition MPs of abusing parliamentary privileges to mislead the public by propagating lies about the Easter Sunday terror attacks. 

Addressing Parliament, Minister Fernando said: “The Opposition MPs level wild allegations in the House knowing that they have the cover of parliamentary privilege. If they have anything substantial or any knowledge of the perpetrators of the Easter attacks still not in custody they can go to the CID and lodge complaints so that such complaints could be investigated.”  

Fernando said so after SJB Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara had told the House that he possessed evidence of those who carried out the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Nanayakkara also said that the facts that he had were not in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday carnage.

“You are making various statements regarding the Easter Sunday terror attacks in the Chamber without any proof because you know that you have Parliamentary privilege. You even quoted some statements which are not included in the PCoI report. How did you obtain such information? Why didn’t you complain about this to the CID in the first place? Your action is aimed at misleading the public,” the Minister said. 

Minister Fernando said that the Opposition should stop insulting Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith by misinterpreting the latter’s statements. 

“When you are in the Government you never said that this is a Buddhist country. Now you are insulting the Cardinal too. You should not do that,” the Minister said. 

“The former Government should be responsible for the terror attack. Now we are trying to punish those who are responsible for it. We will take action against everyone who is responsible. You should support us, not try to obstruct the on-going investigations,” Minister Fernando said.

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