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Parliament– (07-06-2017)

Black sheep in Army should be dealt with: Mangala

There could be black sheep even in an excellent Army. They should be dealt with in accordance with law to protect the dignity of the Army, Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

He said if there are suspects in the Army who assaulted or abducted media personnel, abducted children in Wellawatta and killed them to take ransom, they should be dealt with according to law even if they had done them on instructions of the superiors, irrespective of the suspects’ uniforms or the robes, to protect the dignity of the Army.

Minister Samaraweera made theses observations yesterday in response to the adjournment motion moved by Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena.

The minister said there are attempts by various groups to create racial conflicts. He said a Muslim business institution had been damaged in Maharagama recently. The minister said the Police would not allow to continue these acts.

“The government has not entered into any agreement as the Joint Opposition complained, said Minister Samaraweera said.

“By co-sponsoring the UN resolution, we have restored the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. I beg the opposition members not to lie. Anybody can read the resolution,” he said.

He said 48 countries stood with Sri Lanka on March 23 in Geneva.

“We have to be proud that it was a quarter of the globe, including UK, USA, China, Russia and Australia,” Minister Samaraweera said.

“Those countries appreciated the country’s constructive path. Opposition members thought with the election of Donald Trump as USA President, the government in Sri Lanka would collapse. But even his representative to Geneva

spoke with me and appreciated the move of Sri Lanka as an important step which would restore the country’s sovereignty and dignity,” he said.

He said if the previous government continued on its path, the international community might have imposed economic sanctions, preventing the leaders going abroad and also resulting in closure of many factories in the country.

“It was me who went to Geneva in 2015 February and submitted that we did not accept its move and emphasised that the new government had been offered mandate to find solutions within the country,” Minister Samaraweera said.

The minister said there is no more international action against Sri Lanka.

“Joint Opposition members have no understanding of the new global trends. We can’t treat certain groups differently,” he said.

Minister Samaraweera said Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers should get together to go forward as a nation.

House to take up adjournment debate on floods on Friday

Parliament will take up an adjournment debate on the recent flood situation of the country on Friday.

The adjournment motion will be moved by the JVP. The Committee on Parliamentary Business headed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, which met on Monday has decided to take up a full day adjournment debate on the flood havoc caused by heavy rains.

Over 200 lives were lost and thousands of people were displaced due to recent floods and landslides in the country.

The debate will be held from 11.30am to 6.30pm. Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, making the reply speech on the adjournment motion, will brief the House on the current situation and future measures.

Meanwhile, Minister Yapa replying to a question by UPFA MP Douglas Devananda yesterday in Parliament said the National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF) paid Rs 3.3billion last year as disaster relief, adding that some more claims are to be settled raising the amount to Rs 4 billion.

“This insurance is a good mechanism. Only Sri Lanka has such a system in Asia. Last year, we paid Rs. 300 million as insurance premium. This year, we will pay Rs. 500 million,” he said.

Asked by NFF Leader MP Wimal Weerawansa whether the international insurance companies involved with the NITF have refused to pay as insurance premium has not been paid, the minister said there was no such an issue.

Speaker expresses condolences on landslide and flood victims

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at the outset of Parliamentary sessions yesterday expressed the condolences of the House on the lives lost in recent landslide and flood disasters.

Making a special announcement, the Speaker drew the attention of the House to the need of a well-organised disaster management mechanism in the country to minimise the loss of lives and property damages in any future natural calamity.

The Speaker recalled with respect the sacrifice made by the Air Force officer who died during a lifesaving mission. “On behalf of Parliament, I extend thanks to tri-forces personnel, public servants, local and international organisations, voluntary groups and the media for their support to help the people at the time of the tragedy.

“We should come up with a disaster management mechanism to face natural calamities. Such an effort may cost a large sum of money, but given the international recognition, the country has received, we will be able to find foreign funds for the purpose.

“I request Parliamentarians to join hands in this effort irrespective of party divisions,” he said.

Plans to protect Pahiyangala cave from landslide threat

A multidisciplinary evaluation report has been sought on the historical Pahiyangala cave to decide on steps to protect the site from landslide threat, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said.

The minister made this observation in reply to a question by JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa in Parliament yesterday. The MP inquired about measures the ministry has taken to conserve the site in the face of recent landslide threats.

Kariyawasam, observing that the ministry’s special attention has been drawn to this matter, said that he inspected the site along with the Heads of the Archaeological Department and Central Cultural Fund.

He said Buddhist monks in the site have been asked to evacuate, adding that an alternative place will be provided for them to stay.

He said once the report is submitted, the ministry would decide the future measures, adding that foreign expertise would be sought if necessary.

Sri Lanka fell short of its promise: Mahinda Samarasinghe

Sri Lanka did not deliver what it undertook to implement in 2009. The foreign policy was implemented in a way that sent wrong signals to the international community, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

He made these observations yesterday joining the adjournment debate moved by Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena.

He said to make matters worse, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa went to see Gadafi and Sadam Husein and took photos with them. They appeared in newspapers. It sent wrong signals to the countries that helped us, he said.

The minister said the Human Rights Council of the United Nations accepts the unity government’s policies since its foreign policy is non-aligned.

He said when the US joined and took the power of the Human Rights Council, they did not look for those who violated human rights much. If they did so, there were other countries that had violated human rights more than us, Minister Samarasinghe said.

“If they were impartial, there were other countries to be aimed at before Sri Lanka. They thought of us as we were out of their group. Our then leader had been to Iraq and Libya,” he said.

He said it sent signals that were standing with dictators and with the leaders of countries where democracy was not practised well.

“We did not implement a foreign policy that we practise today. Foreign countries expected that there would be reconciliation after the war. They did not speak of an international inquiry in 2012. The forces conducted a disciplined war. They could save 300,000 Tamil people. We took 29 votes in 2009. It dropped to 12 in 2014,” Minister Samarasinghe said.

He said the government changed its foreign policy. The UN has welcome the move. The Judiciary is independent, he said.

“We have more to execute. The leadership is ready to guarantee equal rights to all communities,” the minister said.

OHCHR report on Sri Lanka harmful to nation: Dinesh

Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardana yesterday said that the report of the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Sri Lanka was a deceitful report and its recommendations were harmful to the nation.

MP Gunawardena made these observations yesterday moving an adjournment motion on the United Nations (UN) Resolution on Sri Lanka.

He said the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report on Sri Lanka on February 10, 2017 stating that Sri Lanka had formulated a draft of the new Constitution in December 2016 was untrue.

He said according to the report, a draft Constitution was formulated by Sri Lanka last December. “This is false. No such draft has been formulated,” MP Gunawardena said.

“The report is full of lies to mislead the international community,” he said.

He said the UN resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka would harm the country. Gunawardena said the resolution calls for international judges in judicial matters of the country. He said this is a breach of the country’s sovereignty. “The Constitution does not provide for hybrid courts or a local judicial system consisting of international judges or lawyers. As a result of the resolution, a witch-hunt was carried out against armed forces’ members. They were arrested and detained without bail. They have been arrested in a vengeful manner,” he said.

He said incidents in Manchester and London show that terrorism is a threat to the world. Sri Lanka must be vigilant. The armed forces must have the support of the government to carry out their duties, he said.

MP Gunawardana said India too was in support of Sri Lanka to defeat the LTTE because of the way it was carried out.

He said the government must avoid foreign intervention in judicial matters and carry out post-war investigations in a transparent and independent manner through the local judicial system. (Daily News)

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