Saturday, May 18, 2024

Opposition, out of touch with ground realities – Johnston Fernando

Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said the Opposition is entitled to its dream of toppling the Government but they should also remember that the ground realities ensure people’s undivided faith and support for the Government.

He told the media following a meeting with the Kurunegala District SLPP Local Government members, that the Opposition was yet to recover from the shocks of back-to-back defeats in the elections.

Minister Fernando said, “Now the Opposition talks of their latest dream of toppling the Government. I challenge them to go to their electorates and speak to the people, so that they could understand that people are with us. People know the truth that the Opposition is an impotent force which can do nothing but dream of impossibilities without knowing the ground reality.”

He said, “Take a look at the lies that they have been propagating in recent times. First, they cried foul of Covid-19 prevention programs dreaming that they could turn it to their political advantage. That was not successful as the Government countered it successfully. Then they howled about the collapse of the economy.”

He said when the UNHRC vote was taken in Geneva, the Opposition had nothing but to talk about dangers that this country would face if the Resolution on Sri Lanka would be passed there. Nothing of that sort happened. Thereafter, they lamented about environmental destruction, but we proved there was no such thing. Then they tried to capitalise on the Easter Sunday investigations forgetting that it was owing to their mistakes that terror attacks took place. They even tried to drag Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith into their bandwagon.

Bilateral discussions

Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday (April 28). The Chinese Defence Minister who arrived at the Presidential Secretariat was received by Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and Foreign Secretary Admiral (Rtd) Prof. Jayanath Colombage.

The Chinese Defence Minister said the bilateral discussions held with the President were extremely fruitful. He also said the relations between the two nations were further strengthened by this visit. General Fenghe placed a note on the Book for Special Guests to mark the meeting with the President.

At the meeting, the President had thanked China for providing long-term and precious support to Sri Lanka and hoped to learn the governing experience from the Communist Party of China on poverty alleviation and rural revitalisation.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at his meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, said the Chinese delegation visited Sri Lanka at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is still not contained, demonstrating that China attaches great importance to developing the ties with Sri Lanka. Hailing China for its achievements made in the pandemic prevention and control, economic development and poverty alleviation, Premier Rajapaksa thanked China for providing assistance to his country. He said, “Sri Lanka will always be a sincere friend to China and will firmly support China’s position on safeguarding its own core interests.”

Chinese Defence Minister Wei said that China and Sri Lanka enjoy a long history of friendship with deep bilateral relations. He said two countries are jointly working for the quality construction of the Belt and Road, pointing out that they share a bright prospect of development.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the Opposition’s allegation that there is an attempt to arrest SJB Parliamentarian Harin Fernando is baseless. Responding to questions from journalists at a news briefing in Colombo, the Minister said, “The Government will not intervene to arrest any person. That happens when the Attorney General makes a request to the Court. The Government, the Prime Minister or the President will never intervene in the arrest of any person.”

The Minister said the matter should not be taken lightly by anyone. “If Harin Fernando knows anything that others do not know, it is his duty to reveal it to the Security Forces. But he is now hospitalised. Meanwhile, the Opposition accuses the Government of trying to arrest him.”

Minister Amaraweera said, “As far as I know, the Government has never discussed the arrest of Harin Fernando. However, the Leader of the Opposition gives voice cuts to the media in various places saying that there are attempts to suppress the Opposition and arrest MP Harin Fernando.” He said, “The Opposition Leader said that he was ready to go to jail with Harin. If they haven’t done anything wrong, they have nothing to fear. But I want to make it clear that the Government has never discussed the arrest of Harin Fernando.”

Chemical fertiliser

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that he will take up the challenge of making Sri Lanka the first country in the world to eliminate the use of chemical fertiliser, without taking a step back on the decision to end the use of chemical fertiliser in the country. The President said the fact that no country in the world has abandoned the use of chemical fertiliser is not an obstacle to achieve this goal.

The President urged everyone to get together to educate the farmers to create a healthy generation by taking it to the field, without limiting it to mere talk. The President made this observation at a discussion at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (April 29) to raise awareness on the ban on the import of chemical fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides and their use.

President Rajapaksa said, “The Government must ensure the right of the people to a toxic-free diet in order to create a healthy and productive citizen. It is also a pledge made in the National Policy Framework “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” to accelerate the production of organic fertiliser in the next decade so that only organic fertiliser will be used in the agricultural field of Sri Lanka.” The President also said that the Government will directly intervene to provide all necessary facilities to encourage the production of organic fertiliser at the district level.

NPC Chief Ministerial candidates

Former TNA Parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah told the media that he will contest as the Chief Ministerial candidate at the upcoming Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections. He said the TNA will field him as the Chief Ministerial candidate at the forthcoming Provincial Council elections.

“Many people were trying to promote various individuals as the Chief Minister of the North. This is done by those who have come to Jaffna from Colombo and are doing politics here but not for those who live in the North,” he said.

He said MP Wigneswaran is going on a separate journey these days promoting a Hindu priest as the Chief Ministerial candidate for the North.

Senathirajah said, “However, the Chief Minister of the North should not be a person who observes Sil. He has to be someone who can stand up to any challenge on behalf of the people.” He said even though Wigneswaran was appointed as the Chief Minister earlier nothing beneficial had happened to the people of the North.

May Day rallies

The main political parties held online May Day rallies yesterday as the usual processions and large rallies have been banned due to the current pandemic situation. The ruling SLPP had also decided not to have any May Day-related event because of the current situation. SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam told the media the party will strictly follow health guidelines and will refrain from conducting any event related to May Day.

The SJB also had an online May Day rally. UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara in a press release stated that his party had cancelled everything pertaining to May Day. He said, “UNP earlier decided to have a small-scale rally at Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya but decided to cancel it following the advice of Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.”

The JVP also held an online meeting which went live on social media. JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said, “We have decided to confine our May Day rally to an online meeting considering the current situation. However, we are concerned about the workers losing their right to commemorate the day dedicated to their rights.” The Front Line Socialist Party also held an online May Day rally yesterday.

Legal action

Government lawmakers have requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to initiate legal action against the entire Cabinet of the UNP led Yahapalana Government over the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told reporters that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probed the Easter Sunday attacks has clearly stated in its report that the previous Government should be held responsible for failing to prevent the deadly terror attacks. He said when the PCoI report says ‘former Government’, it means the blame should be put not only on former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe but on the entire Cabinet including incumbent Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, former Ministers Lakshman Kiriella, Kabir Hashim and Champika Ranawaka.

Therefore, we asked the President to take legal action against the entire Cabinet of Ministers of former Yahapalana Government over the Easter Sunday bombings. Aluthgamage said, “This is not an attempt to suppress the Opposition. The Presidential Commission has recommended that proceedings be initiated against these people. When we do that, we get accused of suppressing the opposition.” The Minister said Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who spouts much rhetoric about the Easter attacks should also be held accountable and produced before the courts with the others.

Peaceful protest

A peaceful protest demanding the release of Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen was held in the elite Cinnamon Gardens area on Friday (April 30). The protest held under quarantine regulations was organised by Colombo District organiser of the All Ceylon People’s Congress A.J.M. Faiz which was also attended by SJB Parliamentarians Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Mujibur Rahuman and former Deputy Minister Amir Ali.
Demonstrators carried placards with slogans such as “Rishad needs justice” and asked the Government to explain why he was released and arrested. Bathiudeen, Leader of the All Ceylon People’s Congress was arrested under the PTA Act and he is being kept under a detention order for investigations regarding his alleged involvement in the Easter Sunday bomb blasts.


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