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Wiggy says he never asked Sinhalese, Muslims not to come back to Jaffna

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By Saman Indrajith

The Tamil People’s National Alliance or the Thamizh Makkal Tesiya Kootani (TMTK) MP C.V. Wingeswaran, on Friday, said that Sri Lankans irrespective of their racial differences were fortunate that Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had obtained a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Participating in the debate on vote on account, MP Wigneswaran said Prime Minister Rajapaksa had been given a golden opportunity to usher in a peaceful and prosperous country. “By granting what I call eksathism as opposed to ekiyaism this country could be transformed into a veritable heaven on earth despite its ten trillion international debt. A form of unionism which in fact is federalism is the panacea for our national question – unity in diversity.

“It would be stupid to run away from problems by saying such problems do not exist akin to the Ostrich which lowers its head in sand hoping to find a safe haven. Let us face the national question together. Let us not hand it over to the next generation. To win a war is easy. But to bring about Peace is extremely difficult. But it is peace that could usher in permanent victory. It is this realization that made King Asoka embrace Buddhism.”

“I hate none. But I love the truth. I have come to conclusions about our past after studying certain historical facts. If my conclusions are wrong others must point out the shortcomings in my conclusions instead of getting upset and abusing me. They can invite me to public debate. If need be, let a Commission be appointed consisting of top Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and international historians well versed in South East Asian history to report on our heritage and history. The historians must be internationally recognized.”

He said that he had been wrongly accused by a fellow MP of discriminating against Sinhalese and Muslims. “He said that I had forbidden Sinhalese and Muslims from entering the North when I was the Chief Minister. Truly, I must be a demon to have said so when my children have both married Sinhalese. I do not indulge in such vituperative, racial exercises.

“He asked if I had given blood to patients and went on to say only the military members give blood to blood banks in Jaffna. He asked if the Vellala community would accept blood from other castes. That MP should realise the people of the North had given blood to blood banks prior to the army coming to the North as well as afterwards. They are aware that all blood fall within four categories. They do not believe as some do that some are born with blue blood!

“As a representative of the Tamils I find nothing significant to comment about on this mid-term vote on account. No government has so far rendered any significant help to pull out our war affected people from their penury stricken indigent circumstances. They are also not interested in granting economic powers to the periphery to enable them to look after themselves. You would remember the Chief Minister’s Fund was refused to our Province during the time of both Governments. Hence I deem it necessary to stress on this occasion the urgent need to solve the political question of the Tamils first which is basic to the amelioration of the conditions of our affected People.”

“I like to ask a question – why did we fight for independence from the British? We were peaceful and prosperous. In fact Lee Kwan Yew swore that he would make Singapore another Ceylon. Such was the peace and prosperity of our Country under the British. But we still wanted Independence. Why? It was our desire to resurrect our identity by language; heritage and culture that made us want ourselves to be freed from the domination by the British.”



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Bid to use private member’s motion to put off LG polls alleged

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has questioned the rationale behind President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s warning that the military will be deployed to curb protest vis-a-vis a Foreign Ministry undertaking to boost foreign trade and investment.

Addressing the Parliament, during the Budget committee stage debate, on 28 Nov., Prof. Peiris said the Foreign Ministry couldn’t expect to succeed in economic diplomacy while the government was resorting to repressive measures.

Prof. Peiris asked who would want to invest in a country where the people were warned of dire consequences if they held protests, and elections were arbitrarily postponed.

Referring to the long overdue Provincial Council polls, Prof. Peiris discussed how postponement of scheduled Local Government polls could further jeopardise Sri Lanka’s standing among the international community.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the government was planning to use private members’ motion submitted by Attorney-at-Law Premanath C. Dolawatta (SLPP, Colombo District) to put off scheduled Local Government polls further. The ex-Minister claimed that the motion meant to enhance youth representation in governance would be utilised to delay the polls indefinitely. He recalled how the Yahapalana government had postponed the Provincial Council elections indefinitely.

The rebel SLPP Chairman pointed out that the government had chosen MP Dolawatta’s motion, handed over recently, though SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar submitted a private member’s motion on the same lines much earlier.

MP Dolawatta handed over a copy of his motion to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Oct 31. Prof. Peiris said that they wouldn’t find fault with the lawmaker for making proposals which the academic said were timely.

Prof. Peiris warned Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, that Sri Lanka wouldn’t be an appealing destination for investments unless the government adopted tangible measures to curb corruption. Shocking disclosures at parliamentary watchdog committees underscored that corruption was at unprecedented level and needed immediate attention.

Speaking on behalf of the breakaway SLPP faction, Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa aka Freedom People’s Congress Prof. Peiris said that the recent declaration by the World Bank that it would audit the procurement and distribution of fertiliser here meant that the world had no faith in our system.

Commenting on assurances given by the government that a new Anti-Corruption Bill would be introduced soon, Prof. Peiris said that existing laws were quite sufficient. The issue at hand is absence of political will to battle corruption, the former Minister said, meant flight of professionals and intolerable increase in taxes on business wouldn’t encourage Foreign Ministry’s drive.

At the onset of his speech, lawmaker Peiris asked whether the government was genuine about the recent declaration that the national issue could be resolved by the enactment of a new Constitution by the next Independence Day. Who would take such a promise seriously against the backdrop of all previous attempts undertaken by far more stable governments failing to achieve the desired results? the former law professor asked. The former minister also questioned the feasibility of forming an apparatus on the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. Prof. Peiris asked whether those now at the helm really had the wherewithal to meet the South African standards.

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State FM assures there won’t be shortage of milk powder

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State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday (29) that there would be no shortage of milk powder in the coming days due to the Customs holding a consignment of six containers of milk powder, imported into the country, for violating regulations.

Minister Siyambalapitiya said the six containers had 105,375 kilos of full cream milk powder, imported from New Zealand, via Malaysia. It reached the Colombo port on 20 Oct. It was only after the consignment had arrived in the Port that the importers submitted the letters to get the consignment released from the Controller Imports and Exports. Arrangements would be made to release the stock from the harbour on the recommendation of the Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Food Security.

As such, there is no need for permission from the Controller Import and Export to release the stock, the minister said, adding that there were no limitations imposed on importing milk powder and there would be no cause for panic buying in fear of a shortage of milk powder in the coming days.

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Dolawatta responds to GL

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SLPP MP Premanath C. Dolawatta said his private member’s motion wouldn’t lead to the postponement of local government polls. He said he felt the need to restore the 25% quota for youth, even before he entered Parliament, consequent to the August 2020 general election. The government and the Opposition could quickly reach a consensus on the proposals, and avoid unnecessary complications. MP Dolawatta said so when The Island sought his response to accusations made by Prof. Peiris, who said that time was rapidly running out for Local Government polls. As the nomination process needed to be commenced soon to ensure that 341 Local Government bodies could be constituted by 20 March 2023.

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