Govt works in the best interests of its citizens – Minister Dullas Alahapperuma | Sunday Observer
International obligations will be fulfilled

Govt works in the best interests of its citizens – Minister Dullas Alahapperuma

19 September, 2021

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said the Government will continue to fulfill its international obligations while working in the best interests of its citizens., The Minister said that Sri Lanka is one of the oldest members of the United Nations and it respects and accepts the ideals of the UN.

At the weekly Cabinet press briefing, Minister Alahapperuma said that there was no involvement of the military in civil activities in the country. He said, “Considering the prevailing pandemic in the country, two articles related to Emergency Regulations have been amended by the Government to ensure an uninterrupted supply of essentials to the public with the involvement of the Security Forces. The public should decide whether the military intervention in the vaccination process is positive or negative, or whether their service can be ignored.”

The Minister said that the Army was actively involved in the rice and paddy issues. But it is clear to everyone that there is no undue interference by the Security Forces in the country at the moment.

President to address UNGA

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country yesterday morning, September 18 to attend the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States. This will be the President’s first foreign conference outside the country and also his first address to the United Nations General Assembly.

President Rajapaksa is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 22 and he is also expected to hold bilateral discussions with several Heads of State on the sidelines of the session. Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage are accompanying the President.

Govt rejects external initiatives

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, September 14 that the Sri Lankan Government rejects the proposal for any external initiatives purportedly established by Resolution 46/1 while domestic processes are vigorously addressing the matters.

Virtually addressing the UNHRC 48th Regular Session, the Minister said that external initiatives embarked upon without the cooperation of the country concerned cannot achieve their stated goals, and will be subject to politicisation. Prof. Peiris said, “This will polarise our society, as we experienced with Resolution 30/1. The Council must adhere to its founding principles. The resources expended on this initiative are unwarranted, especially when they are urgently needed for humanitarian and other constructive purposes in many parts of the world.”

The Minister told the Council, “Under the current and pressing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, we consider it a basic duty of a Government to ensure the uninterrupted supply of commodities essential to the life of the community. We are open in acknowledging our challenges and as a responsible and democratic Government, we are committed to achieving tangible progress on the entire range of issues relating to accountability, reconciliation, human rights, peace and sustainable development.”

He apprised the UNHRC that Sri Lanka continues to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the appalling terrorist attack on Easter Sunday in 2019 complying with due process of law in all respects. He said, “As always, we would remain vigilant in combatting terrorism and protecting Sri Lankans of all religions.”

The Minister also assured the country’s strong and continued cooperation with the UNHRC and the United Nations mandated human rights system, in keeping with the Constitution and the international obligations voluntarily undertaken.

“SL’s legal system adequate”

Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage said that there is no need for an external mechanism to solve the internal issues of the country. The Foreign Secretary said that the UN Human Rights Council has not been given the power to set up such a mechanism, adding that solutions are available for all the problems of the country within Sri Lanka’s domestic legal system.

The Foreign Secretary was addressing a virtual media briefing at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) on the topic “Geneva Allegations, the United Nations General Assembly and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy”, on Thursday, September 16.

He said that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet commending the measures taken by the Sri Lankan Government on a number of issues, including giving compensation on behalf of missing persons, the release of LTTE prisoners and the steps taken to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act in her oral update to the UNHRC session, is a positive sign.

He said 15 countries including China, Russia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Iraq and Venezuela have teamed up with Sri Lanka in condemning the interference in its internal affairs under the guise of human rights. The Foreign Secretary also said that they have commended the Government’s accountability to the protection of human rights, the maintenance of reconciliation and the eradication of terrorism. Compared to other countries in the region, Sri Lanka is a peaceful country.

Road Map 2021

The new Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Ajith Nivard Cabraal assumed office on Wednesday, September 15 as the 16th Governor of the Bank. He said the Central Bank will launch Road Map 2021 for Sri Lanka on October 1.

He said these new strategies would be spelt out for economic recovery. He said that when he first took over as Governor 16 years ago the chips on Sri Lanka’s economy were down and like the Covid-19 pandemic the country was facing LTTE terror. The new Governor also said that one of his key priorities while stabilising the economy was to increase reserves by way of non-debt related tools. He said that he was requested on many occasions by the President to take over the CBSL post and finally decided to accept it.

He said, “I am extremely privileged and deeply humbled by the trust and confidence reposed in me by the President, Prime Minister and Finance Minister to take up this responsibility. I will assure all of them and the people of Sri Lanka that they will not be let down, and the economy will be steered towards continued stability.”

Undergarment issue

Lands Minister S.M. Chandrasena said even though imports of 623 non-essential items were discouraged, the Opposition is going to town with the undergarment issue to gain political mileage. They are fishing in troubled waters.

He said people didn’t say that they oppose discouraging undergarment imports. The Minister said, “At a time when there are many issues to be dealt with, the Opposition is citing the undergarment issue in their propaganda. The people will teach them a good lesson at future elections.”

Minister Chandrasena alleged that the UNP-led Yahapalana Government did not encourage local manufacturing and production. Even brooms were imported during their regime. They wanted to do away with the national economy. After the new Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power in 2019, imports of many unwanted items were restricted with the view to encouraging the domestic manufacturers. The minister said the local manufacturers and farmers made use of that opportunity for their progress.

UPFA meets

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) met on Wednesday, September 15, under the patronage of former President and SLFP Leader MP Maithripala Sirisena after a lapse of many years.

The meeting which was conducted via Zoom technology had also been attended by Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) Leader and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Leader of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP) and SLPP MP Asanka Navaratne and several other Party Leaders.

At the commencement of the meeting the deaths of CWC Leader Arumugam Thondaman, Minister Mangala Samaraweera and P.M. Podiappuhamy of the Desha Vimukthi Janatha Party were commemorated.

During the meeting, a proposal had been made to formulate a new set of proposals for the UPFA and lengthy discussions had been conducted regarding that.

It had also discussed ways and means of reviving the UPFA politically through its betel symbol under a brand-new set of ideas and policies geared towards the future.

Political and economic system

Former JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti said toppling this Government to bring another Government with the same characteristics will not help overcome the economic and social problems faced by the people. Handunnetti was speaking to the media after handing over protective equipment to the Colombo National Hospital as a Party donation.

He said, “The prevailing economic hardships are not only due to the weakness of the Government but also due to erroneous political and economic systems of the country. The country cannot go forward in this manner.”

The corrupt political and economic systems should be changed and the people have to line up for that purpose. However, the first priority now should be to get rid of the Covid-19 pandemic. Handunnetti said the country needs to have all hands-on deck for that purpose. Politicisation of pandemic control measures must cease.

Criticising the move to appoint former State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal as Central Bank Governor, the former MP said it affects the independence of that institution. “It is not suitable to appoint politicians to head that institution. One may say that he has prior experience in that post, but we say, he will be like a fox guarding the henhouse,” he said.

Acknowledges responsibility

State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte tendered his resignation on Wednesday, September 15, acknowledging his responsibility for the incidents that took place at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prison premises. Ratwatte informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding his decision on September 15 and the President had accepted his resignation.

Ratwatte’s resignation comes in the wake of accusations that he forcefully entered the Welikada and Anuradhapura prison premises with a group of friends while under the influence of alcohol on September 12. In his letter of resignation, the MP had said that he decided to tender his resignation with the aim of avoiding causing further inconvenience to the Government.


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Opposition parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) had called for the immediate removal of the State Minister in the wake of the incidents.

The Opposition Leader Sajith had tweeted “I vehemently condemn the disgraceful and illegal behaviour of a Government Minister at the Anuradhapura Prison Complex. This disgusting, unlawful act amply exemplifies the anarchical situation that exists in our country.”

The SJB has also made a complaint at Police Headquarters urging the Police to investigate the incident related to State Minister Lohan Ratwatte who allegedly entered the Anuradhapura Prison and behaved in an unruly manner.

At a media briefing, SJB Parliamentarian J.C. Alawathuwala said the State Minister entered the place using ministerial powers and it is an act of violating the rights of prisoners.

Alawathuwala said State Minister Ratwatte had committed several unlawful acts during his stay in the prison and requested the IGP to immediately arrest him and conduct an impartial investigation in this regard.

SJB Parliamentarian Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who also criticised State Minister Lohan Ratwatte’s behaviour. However, the attempts made by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and the TNA to bring this incident to the UNHRC to gain racial and political advantages should be defeated.

Valuable lessons

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that as the largest democracy in the world, the manner in which India’s legislature functions in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society offers many valuable lessons not only for Sri Lanka as neighbours, but even to the scholars of democratic governance. The Speaker on Wednesday, September 15 addressed the All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) as the guest of honour. It was organised by the Indian Lok Sabha via video technology.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the economic and democratic cooperation between Sri Lanka and India, in the past and in recent times, is significant. “Parliament of Sri Lanka is the oldest Parliament elected by universal adult franchise in Asia.”

The Speaker said that during his historical visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 2015 which further strengthened the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The Speaker also said that the Parliament of Sri Lanka has adopted a policy of open Parliament with the intention of enhancing citizen participation and engagement in the parliamentary process.

Correct procedure

The SLPP has decided to appoint former MP Jayantha Ketagoda to the vacancy created by the resignation of State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal. The name of Ketagoda has already been gazetted as a Member of Parliament. After the 2020 General Election, Ketagoda, who was elected to Parliament on the SLPP National List, resigned in July, allowing Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa to take his place.

At a media conference at the party headquarters, SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam said that the SLPP will follow the correct procedure to re-appoint Jayantha Ketagoda to Parliament via the National List.

Kariyawasam said that the whole country should join hands to combat the pandemic instead of fighting for personal gain in troubled times.

He said, “Trade Unions are currently insensitive towards National goals and the crises the country is facing. When the time is right, the Government will assist to obtain their rights, but currently, this is the worst time to bring forward personal demands.”