Johnston Fernando tells Opposition Find new slogans | Sunday Observer
Vaccination drive, a success:

Johnston Fernando tells Opposition Find new slogans

5 June, 2021

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that Governors and District Secretaries should personally intervene to maintain essential services and prevent any disruption to the lives of the people. He said despite the current situation, the economy could not be allowed to collapse and the contribution of all stakeholders is needed to overcome the challenge and move forward as a country. He called on them to extend their fullest support to the continuation of the operations at factories and development projects.

The President addressing the monthly meeting held with the Governors and District Secretaries at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday (June 2). The challenges and problems faced by the people in the face of travel restrictions were discussed at length at the meeting.

The Governors have commended the commitment of the Government led by the President in efforts to contain the current pandemic while safeguarding the lives of the people and in making the country’s future successful despite overwhelming odds.

The President stressed out the importance of looking into the possibility of operating factories and carrying out development work uninterrupted in compliance with health recommendations instead of shutting them down completely when an infected person is detected at a factory or a project premises.

President Rajapaksa said, “Although the Government had given instructions to maintain industries and essential services in compliance with proper health recommendations, there were shortcomings in the implementation of this initiative at the divisional level.

“Sri Lanka is currently receiving the total number of vaccines needed to continue the vaccination program. President Rajapaksa said that the process is executed in a scientific and sophisticated manner, adding that he expects further support from the political authorities and the Governors and all public officials when facilitating assistance to the health sector to run the operation smoothly and swiftly avoiding any inconvenience to the people,” he said.

Unanimous choice

The UNP Working Committee has unanimously decided to appoint Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to the UNP’s National List seat in Parliament. After the Working Committee meeting held at party headquarters, Sirikotha a couple of days ago, UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena told the media the decision to appoint Wickremesinghe to fill the UNP National List seat was taken following a party meeting.

He had proposed that Wickremesinghe should be appointed to Parliament through the National List slot the party had received as it is a choice of the entire nation. Everyone in the Working Committee had approved the proposal. Wickremesinghe had not turned down the request. The UNP had secured approval from local health authorities to conduct the meeting under Covid-19 guidelines. Abeywardena said it was also decided at the meeting to remove members of local government bodies who violated party rules and regulations in keeping up with the court order and re-appoint new persons from the party.

Hard work

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said the biggest vaccination drive in the country’s history was making massive strides with a record number of people being inoculated.

During a recent inspection tour of a vaccination centre at the Nissanka Vidyalaya in Kurunegala, the Minister told the media that high spirits and the hard work of health workers and security forces had made the Covid-19 vaccination drive a success.

“I thank our frontline workers, who are tirelessly waging a war on the virus to save lives. The vaccination drive is now in progress and being expanded to cover other districts under the guidance of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. It’s a huge success,” the Minister said, adding that the Opposition parties finding fault with the Government for not commencing the vaccination process were now trying to find fault with the ongoing program.

“Thank God they were not in power at a time like this. Can anyone imagine how the Yahapalana Government would have conducted a massive national drive of this nature? They could not even distribute free school uniforms to children during the tenure of their Government. I saw on TV Opposition members criticising the national vaccination drive. Their criticisms would not last long because we would complete this very soon by vaccinating all our people. I am telling them to find some new slogans, because they may need them sooner than they expect,” he said.

Fiscal stability

SJB Parliamentarian Patali Champaka Ranawaka said the country should strive to achieve fiscal stability while restructuring loans. Making a statement over the economic situation in the country, Ranawaka said the Government should revisit the tax concession package introduced in 2019 to achieve fiscal stability.

He said, “This move will build the confidence of local and foreign investors and financial institutions with regard to public finance.” He said that achieving fiscal stability will help avert printing of currency and it will pave the way for economic stability too.

Ranawaka said as the Government is struggling to repay loans and interest, the country should go for the restructuring of loans. “We should discuss with the lending institutions to restructure the loans to suit the country’s ability to repay them,” he said. MP Ranawaka said that swap agreements with friendly countries will not provide any solution to the financial issues faced by the country.

Additional post

Minister Namal Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new State Minister of Digital Technology and Entrepreneurship Development. This appointment comes in addition to his Cabinet portfolio as the Minister of Youth and Sports. Minister Rajapaksa took his oaths before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday (June 3). In a twitter message after being sworn in, the Minister said he is honoured to have been appointed to the position and that together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports this opens the future for youth entrepreneur development and brings us a step closer to the digitalisation of Sri Lanka.


Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith on Wednesday (June 2) said that the Government has not paid adequate attention to bringing the perpetrators of the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks to justice so that the Church would continue to conduct a campaign to exert pressure on the Government to provide justice for the victims.

He said that several claims and statements made by former Attorney General Dappula de Livera or claims that those connected to the Government had been involved in the attacks, have also not been sufficiently investigated. The Archbishop said, “Information was received that Jameel, the perpetrator who set off the last bomb, had met an Army official by the name of Sonic. However, this matter was not even raised by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday bombings.”

He said that the whereabouts of Sarah Jasmine, the wife of one of the suicide bombers, had also not been discovered or investigated. The Archbishop also said that he does not agree with the decisions that the present Government has taken.

He said, “The development of the country does not mean that we should sell all our property and valuables to other countries. There are other ways to develop a country. We do not agree with the decisions that the Government has taken.”


A leading event organiser, a model and thirteen others, who were taken into custody over a party at a five-star hotel in Colombo violating quarantine laws were sent to the Passara quarantine centre recently. Thirteen people who were arrested for attending the party hosted by the event organiser were granted bail earlier on June 2.

The Police had conducted investigations into the incident of a birthday party at a five-star hotel in the Galle Face area on the night of May 30. The Fort Police arrested the event organiser and the model and they were produced before the Fort Magistrate and released on bail on May 31.

Later, six persons were arrested by the Fort Police on June 1 for attending the said party and seven more were taken into custody on June 2. The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) also arrested six more people for attending a birthday party held at a luxury hotel in Colombo. The Police are probing the incident further to apprehend another suspect who is evading arrest. The Police have informed health authorities to take action regarding the arrestees under health rules and regulations.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara in a statement called on the Government to resign as it has failed to safeguard the people from the ongoing pandemic.

He said, “The increase of daily reported cases of Covid- 19 is a testimony that the Government has failed to safeguard the people from the pandemic and that the travel restrictions imposed is also a failure. In addition, the vaccination program is also in a disarray. Therefore, we ask the Government to resign,” Madduma Bandara said.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Government had been compelled to maintain travel restrictions without a break as some politically interested groups had behaved irresponsibly when the lockdown was temporarily lifted recently.

Responding to the media after attending a meeting at the Secretariat of the Central Province Governor, Minister Rambukwella said the behaviour of those organised groups on May 25 was disgusting and no responsible Opposition would have behaved in that manner.