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Wijeyadasa reiterates opposition to Port City Bill after receiving call from Prez

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Sarath Weerasekera, Shehan Semasinghe reject accusations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, yesterday (16) reiterated his stand against the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

Addressing the media at his residence, at Wijayaba Mawatha, Nawala, the former Justice Minister said that following reports on his statement issued at Abayaramaya on Thursday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had reacted angrily in a telephone call received by him Friday morning.

President Rajapaksa recently presented the Colombo Port City EC Bill to the Cabinet of ministers. The 76-page Bill provides for the establishment of an EC authorised to grant registrations, licences, authorisations, and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be established within the Colombo Port City.

MP Rajapakse said that he never expected the President to react so angrily. The former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said that he raised the issue at hand publicly as it was not taken up by the government parliamentary group.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (ret.) Sarath Weerasekera told the media yesterday that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa wouldn’t take a wrong decision. Minister Weerasekera assured their support to the President. State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe, too, strongly defended the proposed Bill. Anuradhapura District MP Semasinghe emphasized that there was absolutely no basis for accusations that the proposed Bill would transform the newly reclaimed land adjacent to the Galle Face Green to a Chinese territory.

Lawmaker Rajapakse told the media that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa talked to him badly. The former Minister said that he never expected the President Rajapaksa to get so angry as he was only performing his duties and responsibilities as a member of parliament.

Responding to a query, the MP stressed that he never hesitated to take a decision under difficult circumstances. Whatever happens, the MP said that he would protect the public faith in him. The former Minister said that those who voted for the proposed Bill would receive the wrath of the people.

Lawmaker Rajapakse said that as many as 16 moved the Supreme Court against the proposed Bill. Among those were Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda thera, UNP, the JVP, Center for Policy Alternatives and Purawesibalaya.

 

 



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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