Easter Sunday attacks – Legal process much better in Sri Lanka compared to other countries in similar incidents – Minister Weerasekera:
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the fifth anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) called for unity within the party and among their allies and invited all to stand together as one flock.
He said that all parties, big or small, which are with the SLPP have stood by the party during difficult times as such their loyalty cannot be disregarded. The Premier said, “No matter how big or small the parties that fought towards one goal and stood by the SLPP in difficult times, they cannot be cast aside.”
Premier Rajapaksa said, “They are not our supporters, nor are they our crutches to hang on to or our handmaidens. Therefore, all the Parties that were with the Government from the start should stand together in unity.” He said that it is the responsibility of the main party to maintain that unity.
The Prime Minister commended the party for having produced a President within a short span of five years, adding that at that time no one in this country believed that the newest party would be able to celebrate its fifth anniversary and even hold a two-thirds majority in Parliament. However, he said that the SLPP has created a huge political transformation in this country and achieved the impossible.
To fulfil a need
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the SLPP was created to fulfil a need of this era and its ultimate goal is to accomplish the aspirations of the people.
The President said so in a video message released on the occasion of the fifth-anniversary ceremony of the SLPP at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre on November 2 under the patronage of Party Leader Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He said the vision of the SLPP is clear and, therefore, objectives are target-oriented, and the President also said that already an indelible role is being played at present to build a united, sovereign, and prosperous nation.
President Rajapaksa said the SLPP was created with the blessings of the people when society was unjustly oppressed. The President recalled that as a fresh political party, the SLPP had received massive public support and that the National Policy Framework “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” for a people-centric economy was achieved through the party’s determination and commitment.
President Rajapaksa said that the country is still experiencing the devastating effects of the Central Bank bond scam. The President said that those who are responsible for this scam are also responsible for the increased cost-of living and said that even the economic experts have shown how development was put on hold and the manufacturing economy was ruined at that time.
Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said that it is their right to know the reason why so many people were killed in vain in the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks and that it is not “a gift” to be given by somebody. It’s our right.”
He told an event at St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, that they again request the leaders of the country to reveal the ‘full story’ behind the Easter Sunday attacks.
Cannot influence legal process
Cardinal Ranjith said their struggle is not aimed at creating any conflict and they want to see justice being done. “That is all we are expecting. We are not expecting to be given a lot of money or for anything to be built. We are expecting justice to be done,” he said. After the opening of the new Police station at Malabe, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekera told the journalists that it had taken the USA 20 years to commence the legal process against the mastermind of the September 11 attacks and France seven years to prosecute the mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attacks.
The Minister said, “We started the prosecution of the mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks within two and a half years. Almost all the work that has to be done by the Police has been completed. Yet, with regard to some individuals, investigations are in progress.”
Minister Weerasekera said Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had made several statements and expressed his dissatisfaction over the pace of the prosecution process.
“We have to accept his criticism because he is the one who represents the Catholics, who were immensely affected by the Easter Sunday terror attacks. The process is progressing and we cannot influence the legal process. But when compared to situations with regard to similar incidents in other countries we have done much better,” the Minister said.
The governing coalition party leaders met at Temple Trees recently with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the Government’s agreement with New Fortress Energy.
At the meeting, the President and Prime Minister had admitted that there were some shortcomings in the agreement and had requested the coalition party leaders to submit in writing their proposals to be considered when finalising the agreement.
However, the People’s Council, led by Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila and Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara at its recent press conference heavily criticised the agreement that the Government had signed with New Fortress Energy. SLFP General Secretary State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, Government Parliamentarians Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Tiran Alles, Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Gevindu Kumaratunga, A.L.M. Athaulla, and Dr. G. Weerasinghe were also present at the press conference.
Should switch sides
However, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe told the media that he was disappointed at some statements by Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, at a recent media conference against the LNG deal. Semasinghe said that the Minister’s statement would mislead the public and cause a rift in the Government.
The State Minister asked why Udaya Gammanpila remained in a Government which he considered corrupt. Asked to comment on State Minister Semasinghe’s statement, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said everything he had said was true. He said, “Semasinghe could be the next Energy Minister and I wholeheartedly wish him the best.”
While responding to the criticisms of Government constituent Parties regarding the controversial Yugadanvi power plant deal, Power Minister Gamini Lokuge expressed that if Government parties are performing the role of the Opposition, they should switch sides.
The Minister said, “They can’t remain here. If they are levelling absurd allegations before the entire country, we will have to take a decision on that.” Minister Lokuge said that the SLPP will be undeterred by such moves.
He said, “We won’t allow them to criticise the President and those in leadership roles while being in our faction.” The Minister warned that such persons will have to leave the Government if this continues.
SLPP Parliamentarian Tissa Kuttiarachchi said, “If they have a backbone, we are challenging people such as Minister Wimal Weerawansa to resign from their positions. Please resign from your ministerial positions. They say they are doing this to push the Government on the right track. Do they have to express critical remarks openly to do that?” Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the Government has betrayed the public’s mandate and that only the SJB can reverse the country’s disastrous journey. The Opposition Leader participating at a farmers’ protest held in Hiriyala, Ibbagamuwa said, “The Government doesn’t understand the reality of agriculture. The SJB will create a massive anti-government rally to show the Government that the public is against its decisions though they were appointed by a majority which is now opposing their actions.”
Premadasa also paid floral tributes to the statue of Sir John Kotelawala at Ahugoda, Hiriyala before joining the protest and said that the late statesman rendered a great service in the past to uplift Sri Lanka’s farmers and committed to establish agrarian colonies in areas including Hiriyala.
A series of dialogues, organised by the JVP on the theme, ‘Let us begin life from the village – piloted by the JVP, with solutions to beautify life in your village’ launched from November 1.
Its first dialogue commenced at Maharagama on November 1 which was attended by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, General Secretary Tilvin Silva, Politburo members, K. D. Lalkantha, Sunil Handunneththi and Central Committee member Nalinda Jayatissa. The party has made arrangements to conduct this program covering all villages and towns throughout the country during this month. The JVP said that meetings with the people will be held while meeting religious leaders, businessmen, intellectuals and farmers.
One Country, One Law
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force for ‘One Country, One Law’ Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera said that he is committed to fulfilling the desired objectives of the Task Force together with its members.
He said in fulfilling that role, they will act according to a core policy framework and no citizen should be subjected to any difference or discrimination before the law on the basis of their race, religion, caste or any other factor. The first media conference on the role of the Presidential Task Force for ‘One Country, One Law’ was held at the Presidential Media Centre via video technology recently.
Ven. Gnanasara Thera said that if the citizens can place the country as number one, above all, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation, the Task Force is ready to listen to all opinions regarding the legal framework of such a country and further said that the Presidential Task Force has a broad understanding on this issue. He said, “Our responsibility is to create a one nation that can get together under one flag and to formulate one law suitable for the country.”
“Will quit at 60”
SJB Parliamentarian Harin Fernando said he will quit politics when he reaches 60. He said that he doesn’t want to hang on to politics depriving the youth of an opportunity to take up the reins.
At an event held in his Wattala electorate, Fernando said that he has been involved in active politics since he was 28 years and he cannot make a notable difference if he continues to hang on politics after 60 years.
He said, “I have 18 more years to do politics. My intention is to help young leaders in the electorate to take the reins.” Fernando said that a son of a fisherman in Uswetakeiyawa should be able to become the organiser of the Wattala electorate and a youth born to a poor mother in the electorate should be able to enter Parliament. He also said that he is ready to resign from his Parliamentary seat, if former Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake is released.
Refutes media speculation
Refuting media speculation, Justice Minister Ali Sabry has said that he has no intention of feuding with the present Government nor harbours any thought of leaving his Cabinet portfolio. Minister Sabry had said that though there are problems concerning certain decisions taken by the Government, he is hopeful they can be resolved via consensus and broad dialogue.
He said that he is prepared to hold talks with the Government inside and outside Parliament to carry its work forward. Earlier, there were media speculations that Minister Sabry is likely to quit the justice portfolio due to the appointment of Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera as the Head of the Presidential Task Force, to carry out the ‘One-Country, One-Law’ policy.
Limit to patience
SJB Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama has invited Government constituent parties to join hands with the SJB to defeat the Government.
He told the media, “I am asking them to leave the Government. The Government will have to leave if we join hands and surround them like the farmers. That day is not far away. There is a limit to the patience of the people.”
Welgama said so in response to the controversial views expressed by the constituent parties of the Government over the Yugadanavi power plant deal. He said, “The only option for a group having alternate views is to leave the Government. If they leave the Government, the 14 SLFP members will also leave the Government.”
Power Minister Gamini Lokuge said that Yugadanavi LNG power plant in Kerawalapitiya is used by the JVP as a political tool and in reality, there is no threat from handing over shares to the American company.
At a media briefing at the SLPP headquarters, the Minister said that only the JVP affiliated Trade Unions are protesting against the shares given to the American company. The CEB engineers, technical engineers, electricians and workers of all sections have understood the real situation behind the façade created by JVP and have chosen to supply continuous electricity. The JVP is trying to lead the country to the ‘dark’. They have been doing that for decades and they are responsible for destroying the majority of the transformers in history. Minister Lokuge said Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa is only capable of provoking people at crucial junctures instead of supporting the development of the country.
He said, “Sajith Premadasa is speaking highly about selling national resources, yet I would question him about what he was doing when the Hambantota Port deal was done. It is a shame that he was also from the Hambantota district.”
However, JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said the protest by the Government affiliated political parties against the Yugadanavi LNG plant is a drama aimed at diverting the public’s objections. He told the media at the JVP headquarters, that if they had a true intention to oppose such a harmful deal, it could have been done on the very first day the relevant Cabinet Paper was moved.