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Yahapalana regime lowered guard to consolidate power leaving nation open to Easter carnage  – GL



By Saman Indrajith

The yahapalana government’s preoccupation with the consolidation of power had made it possible for the Easter Sunday terror attacks to be carried out, Education Minister Prof GL Peiris told Parliament yesterday (27).

 “The yahapalana regime deliberately dismantled security measures and mechanisms in response to requests of minority groups to get their support to consolidate power. There had been a mechanism operated by intelligence and immigration and emigration officers to prevent unwanted persons from entering the country. It was dismantled on the request of extremist groups to allow preachers to come here to spread hate, and huge sums of funds were allowed to come and the External Resources Department of the Central Bank was kept in the dark.”

Prof Peiris said so in response to a question raised by Gampaha District SJB MP Dr Kavinda Jayawardana.

Dr Jayawardana said that 355 persons had died and over 500 become disabled owing to the terror attack on Easter Sunday, last year, and the incumbent government had pledged to take action against those responsible but nothing of the sort happened yet.

“You promised to put an end to the Sharia universities, to arrest Dr Shafi Shihabdeen for sterilizing mothers without their consent, you promised to put an end to teaching Sharia law in this country. Yesterday we saw on TV former governor M. L. A. M. Hizbullah, the person who founded the Sharia University, arriving at the Presidential Commission with guards from the Ministerial Security Division. Even the Presidential Commission Chairman observed that the inquiries conducted as regards Hizbullah were not satisfactory. Can you tell us whether the Sharia University would be closed or taken over by the government?

 Minister Prof Peiris: We have increased the student intake from 30,000 to 40,500 to universities. So, we are planning to make use of the resources of that institute to facilitate the student intake.

Prof Peiris said that Batticaloa Campus Private Limited had been registered on Feb 29, 2016 and 90 percent of ownership was with Hira Foundation while 10 percent was with Ahmed Hiraz Hisbullah.

Asked whether there was a course on Sharia law, the Minister said that a Bachelor of Arts in Sharia law under Islamic Studies had been intended to introduce. “We rejected recognition of the institute and it is no longer an education institute,” the Minister said.

 MP Jayawardana demanded to know from the Minister when action would be taken against those responsible for the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

 Minister Prof Peiris: This is a problem we inherited from you. You spent five years without taking action to stop it, now within one year we have conducted investigations. After following due procedures, actions will be taken in due time. Billions of rupees have been pumped into this country without being monitored by the Central Bank’s External Resources Department. How did that happen? We see nothing wrong in funds coming into this country but we should know the sources? Many preachers were allowed to come and some of them were given on-arrival visas. Where else in the world would preachers be allowed to come and preach without checking their past records? The Yahapalana government, with the intention of securing the support of those small groups, lifted the bars that had been there for the protection. The end result was leaving the nation in danger and the Easter Sunday terror carnage was one of the consequences of those actions.”

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GL sounds far-reaching educational reforms  



Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (21) acknowledged that for want of tangible measures on the part of successive governments, there was a critical mismatch between the education provided and the availability of job opportunities.

The academic, in quarantine as a result being identified as potential Covid-19 contact, emphasised the need for far reaching changes to address the issue as part of their efforts to restructure the entire system.

Prof. Peiris said so in his short remarks at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the University of Colombo.

The one-time External Affairs Minister said: “It is a great pleasure for me to felicitate the University of Colombo, my alma mater on this happy occasion. It is a significant milestone because we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the faculty of arts, faculty of science and the library of the University of Colombo. As we look back on that span of a full century, the characteristics of the University which comes to mind is its resilience. During that period the University has had to face and indeed overcome many challenges. The society of our country has undergone a fundamental transformation during that period.

The University had the strength to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. I would identify that as a principal accomplishment of the University of Colombo.

The University proved its capacity for development, change and refinement and adaptation in order to keep pace with dramatically changing circumstances. The University proud as its history is I am sure will have an even more magnificent future. It has an important role to play in the far reaching changes we are contemplating in the educational system of our country. It is our intention in the course of this year 2021 to restructure the entire system in order to address the fundamental problem of a rather critical mismatch between the education we provide in our Universities and other educational institutions on the one hand and the availability of employment, livelihoods on the other. There is regrettably gap in this regard and it should be our collective endeavor to address this problem. We are also revisiting the curricular. The substance of our curricular  the methods of teaching in such a way  as to serve better the public in a  better way   In all these efforts I have no doubt the expertise of the University of Colombo by any standards  will be of enormous assistance to us in achieving goals we have set ourselves (SF)

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China slaps sanctions on 28 Trump administration officials, including Pompeo



China has imposed sanctions on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agency reports said yesterday.

In a statement released just minutes after President Biden took office, China’s foreign ministry said it had decided to sanction those “who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues.”

The list of names features former Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar; former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro; former national security adviser Robert O’Brien; Kelly Craft, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Matthew Pottinger, who recently resigned as deputy national security adviser. Former national security adviser John Bolton and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were also included.

The sanctions prohibit those individuals and their immediate family members from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. They are also restricted from doing business with China, as are any companies or institutions associated with them.

“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” the ministry said.

The move comes just one day after Pompeo issued a forceful statement accusing China of committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups in its Xinjiang region, for which the U.S. sanctioned several Chinese officials in July. That was one of numerous instances of sanctions, visa bans and trade restrictions imposed on Chinese politicians and Communist Party officials in the Trump administration’s final year.

Relations between the U.S. and China deteriorated considerably under the previous administration, which took an unusually confrontational approach. Pompeo and other officials referred to China as constituting America’s greatest threat, as NPR’s John Ruwitch has reported.

In fact, Bolton appeared to celebrate the sanction against him, calling it “great news” in a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon.

“I accept this prestigious recognition of my unrelenting efforts to defend American freedom,” he wrote.

It is unclear what changes Biden plans, but Ruwitch noted, “Even if the Biden team moves swiftly to put the U.S.-China relationship back on a less antagonistic track, Beijing will be wary after the dramatic changes of the past four years.”

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Expert Committee appointed to report on gold, copper and iron ore deposits



By Ifham Nizam

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweeera yesterday appointed an expert committee to conduct a scientific study on the Seruwawila gold, copper and iron ore deposits.

With iron ore prices skyrocketing worldwide and both neighbouring giant India and China having huge demands, Sri Lanka was keen on tapping natural resources, an official said.  

The committee will be coordinated by an Additional Secretary to the Ministry and will be chaired by Prof. Athula Senaratne of the University of Peradeniya and its other members are H W. Navaratne, Dr. Stalin Fernando, Dr. Bernard Perera, Dr. C.H.K.R. Siriwardena and Dr. O.K. Dissanayake.

Amaraweera, addressing the media, at his Ministry yesterday said the mineral deposit had been explored in the 1970s with the help of technology available at that time, and it had been found that there was iron, copper as well as a certain amount of gold in the Seruwawila deposit.

As today’s excavation technology was very advanced, it was possible to dig up to 250-300 metres, the Minister said.

The Minister also said that all possible steps would be taken to increase the value of the mineral resources through value addition locally to ensure higher prices.



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