Nuwara Eliya Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Palani Thigambaram has been missing from Parliament in recent months. It turned out that he had been abroad on a personal visit and on three-months leave from sittings. He returned to the country early this month and attended a meeting at Sirikota, headquarters of the United National Party [...]


SJB, UNP leaders pow- wow in the making?


Nuwara Eliya Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Palani Thigambaram has been missing from Parliament in recent months. It turned out that he had been abroad on a personal visit and on three-months leave from sittings.

He returned to the country early this month and attended a meeting at Sirikota, headquarters of the United National Party (UNP) — the party under which he contested in the past before joining with the breakaway SJB group.

When asked by one of his confidants as to what transpired at the meeting, he replied that preparations are underway for a one-on-one meeting between the leaders of the SJB and the UNP in the coming days. He did not forget to stress the point that he was not the one who is arranging the meeting but that it was former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

Sri Lanka joins friends of China to rap Britain on human rights

Sri Lanka became a signatory to the joint statement initiated by China, raising concerns on the state of the human rights situation in the UK and called on the Human Rights Council (HRC) to look into those violations immediately.

Delivering the joint statement during the 47th Session of the UNHRC session in Geneva the Chinese delegation said: “I have the honour to speak on behalf of a group of countries. We express our deep concerns on the human rights situation in the United Kingdom. Severe systemic racism, racial discrimination, hate speech, xenophobia and related violence have long been existing in the United Kingdom,”

The Chinese delegation also said the discriminatory actions are toxic residues of colonialism and trade in enslaved Africans in UK’s history. The other signatories in the joint statement in addition to China are Belarus, Bolivia, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.

Public have burning questions over turmeric

For Sri Lankan cooking, turmeric is a vital ingredient for its taste and medicinal qualities in all households. Despite repeated government assurances that locally harvested turmeric is coming to the market, the demand for turmeric is significantly high compared to the limited supply available.

Currently, a kilo of turmeric is sold between Rs 4000- 5,500 depending on the quality.

However, the Mannar police burned last week some 777 kilograms of illegally smuggled dried turmeric from India. They had been seized by police on multiple occasions in the past.

Locals asked why the authorities cannot release these stocks to the local market via the Government run store ‘Sathosa’ after proper inspection of the products to reduce the cost of living and the burden on the people, or give it to elders homes and orphanages.

Medicos turn to strong arm tactics over news report

Lodging a police complaint has become the latest tactic by some state medical professionals in the north to harass journalists doing their work- reporting the facts as it is.

Two local journalists were summoned to the Kilinochchi police to record a statement over a complaint lodged by the Regional Director of Health Services, Kilinochchi, over a news report.

The news report based on the audit report revealed that there were alleged financial irregularities in securing resources for a COVID-19 ward in a hospital.

The Regional Director wanted to know how the report leaked and had asked the police to find out. Both journalists refused to divulge information regarding their source and asked the the police on what basis they were proceeding with the investigations.


Anything but a protest

Lanka’s vaccine diplomacy at play

The Government’s priorities when it comes to diplomatic relations were evident on Friday when the US donation of 1.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the country through the COVAX facility.

The government representative to join the team welcoming the arrival of the US donation was the Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi. Along with U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz, officials representing UNICEF, WHO were also present.

When a batch of Sinopharm vaccines arrived in Sri Lanka on April 1, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was present at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) along with four Cabinet Ministers and two State Ministers.

An official certificate signing ceremony took place between the Chinese Ambassador and Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation Channa Jayasumana, after which the vaccines were handed over to President Rajapaksa.

The 1.5 million Moderna doses delivered to Sri Lanka are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines. As noted by the White House: “Our vaccines do not come with strings attached. We are doing this with the singular objective of saving lives>”


SB not sure whether he is happy or disappointed

Though he is second only to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in terms of seniority in Parliament, he is now relegated to the backbenches of the government, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP S.B. Dissanayake told the media.

“I am second only to Mahinda Rajapaksa in seniority in this Parliament. Next to me is Mahinda Samarasinghe, but both of us are now backbenchers in this government,” he said.

A journalist asked the MP if he was speaking out of disappointment. “If we weren’t disappointed, there must be something wrong with our heads,” Mr Dissanayake quipped. Nevertheless, he claimed he did not take his current situation as a great tragedy or defeat.

Mr Dissanayake then proceeded to explain what he was doing with all the free time he now had as a backbencher.

“I go to temple. I grow manioc, yams and potatoes. I grew potatoes on a 20 acre plot this year. I’m happy”.

The question is if he’s happy why is he disappointed. In any event, when he talks of being the second-most senior parliamentarian, he may be referring to from the government benches because with the advent of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe (who entered in 1977), he has lost that place as well.


Protest brings together odd comrades

Political parties who have little in common came together on Friday to protest against the decision to shift the Professorial Unit belonging to the Medical Faculty of the Wayamba University from the Kuliyapitiya Teaching Hospital to the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.

The protest march, which commenced from opposite the Kuliyapitiya Teaching Hospital made its way to Kuliyapitiya Town. Shops in the town were also closed down and black flags hoisted in support of the protest.

Among those who took part in the protest were several Kurunegala District MPs of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, former United National Party General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Provincial Councilor Namal Karunaratne. Even some local politicians of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party took part.

Private bus owners threaten to surround parliament

The current restrictions on inter-provincial travel as well as restrictions on the number of passengers that buses can carry have taken a severe toll on private bus employees and owners. As a result some of the owners are struggling to pay the lease payments for their buses.

Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne this week threatened to surround parliament with private buses if authorities did not provide solutions to their issues.

He noted that most private buses were currently parked at the homes of their owners as there was no point in them plying the roads. Most bus owners are behind on their lease payments while many have not been able to pay their drivers and conductors, he pointed out.

Since the situation was now hopeless, the LPBOA Chairman said owners plan to take their buses to Colombo and leave them parked on the road around the Parliament complex to show their displeasure.

If it actually goes ahead, the bus owners’ planned protest will be the latest in a wave of protests that have swept through the country over the past few weeks.

State ministers’ staff can get pension after 5 years of service

The staff serving state ministers will be entitled to a pension after they complete five years in service, the Government has decided.

Accordingly the co-ordaining secretary, the public relations officer and the media secretary will be entitled to the pension, according to a gazette notification issued by Public Administration Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon.

However, their pension will be only one third of the salary at retirement, but will be able to get two thirds of the salary if they complete upto 15 years in service.

The same privilege has been granted to the staff of the Leader of the House and the Chief Government Whip as well.

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