As the government tried to move a Parliamentary motion on non-co-operation on Tuesday with the investigation team appointed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Opposition was initially thought to be in a spot.
The Opposition, barring the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), is naturally under political compulsion to say ‘yes’ to any international inquiry into the alleged human rights atrocities and accountability issues during the final years of the war. For one thing, in such an eventuality, the ruling party could brand the opposition as traitors conspiring with sections of the international community against national interests. Therefore, the Opposition had to be cautious when taking a decision on this sensitive matter.
Be that as it may, the opposition acted wisely when they moved amendments to the resolution. First, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) came up with an amendment which called for Parliament to probe numerous other human rights violations committed after the war was over in the country. The killing of three persons during protests in Rathupaswala, the gunning down of Roshen Chanaka when protesting over the Bill to scrap workers’ benefits and a Chilaw fishermen over the curtailment of fertiliser subsidy were among the cases, which the JVP sought to have probed .
The stifling of media freedom and all forms of violence unleashed against journalists were also highlighted in the amendment proposed to be incorporated into the original resolution by the government.
Through this expo fair, China invited Southeast and South Asian countries to develop better economic ties with its provincial capital, Kunming to improve trade and connectivity
Next, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) moved an amendment seeking to repeal the 18th Amendment for the re-introduction of the 17th Amendment that provided for the establishment of Independent Commissions, mainly to depoliticise the country’s police and public services.These attempts were good face-savers for the Opposition which was otherwise in a tight political situation over the government’s attempt.
These amendments, of course, placed the government in a tight situation as it had already drawn flak from those concerned over the lack of progress into investigations into these cases.
At the UNP Parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday morning, party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed his members on points to be highlighted during the two-day debate. Besides, he briefed the members on the communal violence in Aluthgama and Beruwala.
Referring to the resolution, Mr. Wickremesinghe reportedly said though the government made a huge cry about this motion initially, the least significance had been attached to it by assigning only backbenchers to sign the resolution and move it in the House.
“If this is an important motion for the government, it should have assigned either the Leader of the House or the Prime Minister to move it and second it. Only the young MPs have been assigned for it,” he said.
The signatories to this resolution include MPs A.H.M. Azwer and Malani Fonseka who are well above the young age category. Hence, Mr. Wickremesinghe might have referred to these MPs as young members only as the slip of the tongue.
UNP MP Gayantha Karunatilake noted this, and jovially asked, “Sir, you referred to Azwer and Malani as young members.”
Amid ripples of laughter in the meeting, Mr. Wickremesinghe, with an equal sense of humour responded, “I was actually referring to them as backbenchers.”
Meanwhile, the party’s Kegalle district MP Kabir Hashim brought to his notice that Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) had organised yet another public rally in Mawanella, a township with a large concentration of Muslims. He sought Mr. Wickremesinghe’s involvement to prevail upon the law enforcement authorities to cancel this rally; as otherwise, it could lead to yet another communal riot, identical to the incidents in Aluthgama.
Mr. Wickremesinghe raised the matter in Parliament and brought it to the notice of Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne.
B’deshi PM praises SL in China
As the graphic simulation of a finely carpeted road, lying across the massive ocean, appeared on a giant digital screen, China announced its novel concept of ‘the new silk road’. It happened so at the inauguration of the 2nd China –South Asia Expo Fair in Kunming, China recently.
The event was conducted on a grand scale at the Convention Centre of Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunan province bordering Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. It is in fact the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, facilitating scientific and technological co-operation with South Asian nations such as Sri Lanka.
All the South Asian countries had sent in their representatives. Importantly, Nepal and Bangladesh were represented by their Prime Ministers. Sri Lankan business delegates exhibited their products - mainly gems, handicrafts, tea, ayurvedic products and others.
The China-Sri Lanka Joint Economy and Trade Commission had its meeting during the fair. The First China-South Asia Science and Technology Ministerial Conference was also held. Simultaneously with the event, the China-South Asia Technology Transfer Centre, located in Yunan Province, was unveiled.
The event afforded the opportunity for Sri Lankan businessmen to interact with their Chinese and South Asian counterparts.
On behalf of the government of Sri Lanka, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody attended the event, and addressed the inaugural session. He welcomed China’s new concept for trade expansion with South and South-East Asian nations. The Silk Road is the trade artery that is used for transnational shipments of products manufactured in the countries in the world.
Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed the new concepts last year. China believes the trade ties along with a new economic belt will create new growth points. Through this expo fair, China invited Southeast and South Asian countries to develop better economic ties with its provincial capital, Kunming to improve trade and connectivity.
On the sidelines of the event, the representatives of the participant countries interacted with each other, and even exchanged pleasantries. Soon after the inauguration was over, Mr. Weerakkody had a friendly chat with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina. Ms. Hasina narrated how her nephew undertook a family trip to Sri Lanka and returned to Bangladesh with pleasant memories.
Ms. Hasina reportedly wanted her nephew and his family to join her on her state visit to Japan. But, the nephew had insisted that he, along with his family, should visit Sri Lanka. Fresh after returning from Sri Lanka, he had narrated his joyous experience in Sri Lanka.
Simultaneously with the trade fair, the China – South Asia Science and Technology Ministers Conference was conducted. Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka participated in it representing Sri Lanka. He too had a chance of interacting with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. Sri Lanka executed a power project in Bangladesh when Mr. Ranawaka was the Subject Minister. This project adds 300 mega watts of electricity to the national grid of that country. Ms. Hasina, in a brief chat with the Minister, reportedly told that the power plant was functioning well at the moment.
On Sunday, while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) was having its delegates’ conference, its leader Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem received a call on the outbreak of communal violence in Aluthgama. He immediately dispatched his colleague MP Mohamed Azlam to the area. But, he could not move about freely in the area because tensions prevailed to such an extent.
The following day, he visited the area to get first-hand information on the destruction caused. Today, the SLMC, as an ally of the government, is in a political dilemma. It has come under immense pressure from the Muslim community to quit the government forthwith, but it is not an easy task. There are political compulsions, which tighten his hands from leaving the government.
SLMC seniors gathered at party headquarters in Kompanna Vidiya remained there throughout the night in contact with its members in Aluthgama for the latest updates on the situation, and to take whatever possible measures to ensure safety of people and their property.
Affected people, in despair and disgust, gave vent to their anger even by attacking politicians who reached Aluthgama and Beruwala. First, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Faizer Mustapha’s vehicle was attacked.
Mervyn narrates his love affairs with a Muslim girl
Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva, accompanied by a wealthy Muslim businessman, approached the people, and assured that he would stand guard to them at this juncture. In a gesture of his affinity to the local Muslims, he started narrating his romantic involvement with a Muslim girl during his young age.
“Actually, I could have become your relative. I had a strong love affair with a Muslim girl. Her parents and relatives did not like me because of the religious difference. Otherwise, I would be your relative today,” he told the Muslim people in Aluthgama.
MEP seek meeting with MR
The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), led by Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardane, is a long standing ally of the government. The party is now seeking an appointment with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the current political issues concerning the party.
The MEP is advocating a complete overhaul of the existing electoral system at this juncture. Further, the party sees issues in the present education system.
Today, the SLMC, as an ally of the government, is in a political dilemma. It has come under immense pressure from the Muslim community to quit the government forthwith, but it is not an easy task
Muslim MPs seek meeting with MR
The Muslim MPs, perturbed by the incidents in Aluthgama and Beruwala, have sought a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to discuss the situation. The President was to return to the country yesterday from Bolivia where he attended the G 77 + China meeting. The President tweeted from Bolivia that he would take steps to preserve law and order without allowing any one group to take the law into their own hands at this juncture.
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