No room for separatism to re-emerge in Sri Lanka – President Rajapaksa | Sunday Observer

No room for separatism to re-emerge in Sri Lanka – President Rajapaksa

26 September, 2021

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the UN General Assembly that Sri Lanka welcomes the support of the international community as it engages in the task of reviving its economy and carrying out its national development program. He said, “It is the Government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender”.

President Rajapaksa said at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, September 22, that it is vital that more initiatives including development financing and debt relief be adopted through international mechanisms to support developing nations and help them emerge from the present uncertain situation caused by the pandemic.

He said, “It is the role of the United Nations to facilitate this by treating all Sovereign States, irrespective of size or strength, equitably, and with due respect for their institutions and their heritage”. President Rajapaksa in his well-received remarks to world leaders said, “We are ready to engage with all domestic stakeholders and to obtain the support of our international partners and the United Nations, in the process of rebuilding the nation.

“However, history has shown that lasting results can only be achieved through home-grown institutions reflecting the aspirations of the people. Fostering greater accountability, restorative justice, and meaningful reconciliation through domestic institutions is essential to achieve lasting peace. So too is ensuring more equitable participation in the fruits of economic development”, he said.

President Rajapaksa said that the international community must recognise that the challenges surrounding production, distribution, deployment and acceptance of vaccines must overcome urgently if the spread of dangerous new virus strains is to be prevented.

He said, “Ensuring that everyone, everywhere, is vaccinated is the best way out of the pandemic”.

The President said, “Terrorism is a global challenge that requires international cooperation, especially on matters such as intelligence sharing, if it is to overcome. Violence robbed Sri Lanka of thousands of lives and decades of prosperity in the past half century. My Government is committed to ensuring that such violence never takes place in Sri Lanka again. We are therefore acting to address the core issues behind it.”

SLPFA meets

The party leadership meeting of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on Thursday, September 23. The meeting mainly focused on the role of the party in supporting the Government in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic and the proposals to be presented in the 2021 Budget including a mechanism to educate Government Parliamentarians on important bills beforehand. At the near-two-hour meeting attention was also drawn to the potential consumer benefits from the operation of the Yugadanavi power plant.

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party former President Maithripala Sirisena, Founder and National Organiser of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Chief Government Whip Minister of Highways Johnston Fernando, SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam, Leader of the People’s United Front Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Secretary of the Democratic Left Front, Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Leader of the National Freedom Front, Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Leader of the Lanka Equal Society Party MP Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Leader of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, Vice President of the Ceylon Workers Congress, M. Rameshwaran, Secretary of the United People’s Party, Tiran Alles, Deputy Chairman of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka Weerasumana Weerasinghe were also present at the meeting.

Sinister political game

Patriotic United National Party (PUNP) Leader Sugath Hewapathirana said SJB Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka has launched a sinister political game to portray the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks as a political conspiracy.

He told a press conference in Colombo, that the MP is trying to divert public attention by pinning the blame for the attacks elsewhere. Hewapathirana said that information has been received that MP Ranawaka had allegedly given leadership to the group that organised a protest outside the UN premises in New York when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He said that MP Ranawaka had launched this sinister campaign with political motives.

Jayantha Ketagoda was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on September 21 before Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. He then signed the Member Roll kept by Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake. Ketagoda has been appointed to fill in the vacant seat under the National List created by the resignation of State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal. Parliamentarian Ketagoda resigned from his position as a Member of Parliament in July this year paving the way for the appointment of Basil Rohana Rajapaksa.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in New York that the Tamil diaspora would be invited for discussions to resolve issues in Sri Lanka through an internal mechanism. The President had said that the internal issues of Sri Lanka should be resolved through an internal mechanism and said the Tamil Diaspora would be invited for discussions.

Assuring that there was no room for separatism to re-emerge in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa said all governments should be vigilant about religious extremism. The President speaking during his discussion with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York, US, ahead of his participation at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Guterres had warmly welcomed President Rajapaksa when he arrived at the United Nations Headquarters and reminisced about his visits to Sri Lanka in 1978 representing the Inter-Parliamentary Union and his visits to Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee. He had also recalled his dealings with Sri Lanka during his tenure as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and his meeting with then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2006. UN Secretary General Guterres had assured President Rajapaksa that the UN will provide its full support to Sri Lanka in moving forward to promote unity among different communities.

“Progressive move”

The Sri Lanka Collective for Consensus (SLCC) has welcomed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s call for a dialogue with the Tamil Diaspora to explore ways and means of addressing reconciliation issues through domestic systems. Issuing a statement, the SLCC said, “We are glad to note the stand of the President at the UN General Assembly in New York and the Foreign Minister at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. We are pleased that they have spoken of carrying on those changes that they had spoken to us about and which shows commitment”.

Prominent Tamil diaspora groups have hailed as a “progressive move” the announcement by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he will engage with the Tamil community abroad for reconciliation talks.

Rs. 1 billion scam

Heated arguments ensued in Parliament on Wednesday, September 22 between State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana and former Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne regarding the deletion of data from the National Medical Regulatory Authority (NMRA) database. Prof. Jayasumana, SJB Parliamentarians Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Harin Fernando were engaged in arguments over the destruction of data belonging to the NMRA.

Prof. Jayasumana told Parliament that there had been a scam amounting to nearly Rs. 1 billion in purchasing a certain cancer drugs.

He said, “This scam was uncovered by the Special Presidential Commission appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena, adding that they will start a fresh investigation regarding it”.

State Minister Jayasumana said former Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had introduced legislation to help the pharmaceutical mafia and they will abolish it shortly.

Earlier Dr. Senaratne accused Dr. Jayasumana of purchasing a ‘Range Rover’ jeep for his wife and purchasing a house in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. Prof. Jayasumana categorically denying the allegations said that he will file a defamation case against Dr. Senaratne.

MP Harin Fernando told Parliament the information that had been deleted from the NMRA data are details with regard to tenders pertaining to Covid-19 medical equipment. He said the online data system of NMRA was set up in January this year. Unparliamentary language was freely used bringing the sessions into disarray.

CoL sub-committee meets

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living met on Friday, September 24 under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa via Zoom technology.

The Premier had ordered the immediate release of stocks of essential food items stuck at the Colombo Port. Focusing on the cost of living, the Prime Minister issued this order to the Controller General of Imports and Exports and the Director General of Customs from Temple Trees.

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa instructed Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena to expedite the distribution of essential food items to the people through the CWE and essential food importers.

It was also emphasised that the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture officials should be responsible for releasing essential food items including rice to the market without leaving room for any shortage.

Minister Gunawardena requested the Prime Minister to expedite the investigation into the complaint made by him over the allegations made by the Executive Director of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) who resigned recently. The Prime Minister immediately telephoned the IGP and instructed him to expedite the investigation at the earliest.

Disciplinary action

A conflict of opinion that arose between SLPP Parliamentarian Jagath Kumara and Minister Sarath Weerasekera over the transfer of the OIC of the Padukka Police Station has turned into a hot topic in media circles.

MP Kumara resigned from his post as Padukka Regional Co-ordinating Committee Chairman in protest against the appointment of a new OIC to the Padukka Police Station. Earlier, Minister Weerasekera said disciplinary action will be taken against MP Kumara for convening a press conference and criticising Cabinet Ministers of his own party.

Minister Weerasekera had told the media that MP Kumara had resigned from the post of Padukka Regional Co-ordinating Committee Chairman for not appointing an OIC of his choice to the Padukka Police Station. “This I cannot do because I am against politicising the police service”.

However, Ruling Party MP Jagath Kumara said he is not afraid of any disciplinary action, as suggested by Minister Weerasekera. At a recent media briefing, MP Kumara said if an attempt is made to take disciplinary action against MPs who criticise incorrect decisions by members of the Government and injustices caused, many more MPs who have been subject to injustice could stand against the Government.

CID questions Ranawaka

Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka was questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for over three hours on Friday, September 24. He arrived at the CID premises on Friday morning, accompanied by several Opposition Parliamentarians.

MP Ranawaka was summoned by the CID over misappropriation of funds during his tenure as the Minister of Megapolis and Western Development.

MP Ranawaka said media before appearing before the CID that the Government is engaged in a political witch hunt and is steering the media as well. He said that instead of investigating the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, the Government is deviating public attention.