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Wiggy’s reference to Tamil homeland concept won’t be expunged – Speaker

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‘Members have a right to express views freely’

By Saman Indrajith

Every MP had a right to speak and express his or her views freely and that right was ensured in the House and, therefore, TMTK MP C.V. Wigneswaran’s opening statement with references to the Tamil homeland concept would not be expunged from Hansard, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday.

The Speaker said so when the matter was brought up by Galle District SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara raising a point of order that the speech made by MP Wingeswaran was there in the unedited version of the parliamentary proceedings report. MP Nanayakkara said: “We raised a privilege matter in this House and pointed out that MP Wigneswaran’s statement with regard to Tamil homeland in the North and the East of the country was against the oath we have taken and demanded that it should be expunged. However it is printed in Hansard. This should be revised and the controversial statement expunged.”

Speaker Abeywardena:

That is not a point of order. One MP has made a statement. He did so in keeping with his rights. He has the right to express his views freely. That right should be there. If there is any discrepancy that has to be rectified, then you too can make a speech and express your views. The statement would not be expunged from Hansard.  It does not matter whether the MP is from the government or the Opposition. He or she has that right and you too have the same right to express your views.”

Kurunegala District SLPP MP Shantha Bandara: The Chair promised to look into this matter when the issue was first raised. The controversial statement could be removed from Hansard. There is such a tradition that whenever an MP makes a statement against the Constitution, the chair is empowered to remove it from Hansard. Therefore, we request the Speaker to remove this reference with regard to the traditional Tamil homeland concept.

Rauff Hakeem: Parliamentary powers and privileges Act has ensured that each member has the freedom of speech in Parliament. The Speaker in keeping with the Act made an order. I think that the Speaker is perfectly right in his order.

SJB Kurunegala District MP Nalin Bandara: We took an oath on the first day here that we would not support separatism directly or indirectly. But within an hour after taking that oath MP Wingeswaran violated it. He should be expelled from this House. Does the Speaker think that the oath has no meaning?

Speaker Abeywardena: It is not a point of order.



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

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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

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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

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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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