Politicians’ future depends on spouses’ conduct - PM | Sunday Observer

Politicians’ future depends on spouses’ conduct - PM

4 October, 2020

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took part in celebrating World Children’s Day by donating mobile libraries to schools in five districts. The President said that provision of a library and access to sports will help children to maintain a balance between physical and mental well-being and that he was convinced of this fact by his recent visits across the country.

Following requests by children, the construction of a large number of playgrounds in remote areas of the country is now underway. Provision of library facilities for 25 selected schools, one from each district, has also commenced.

The Reading Month also commences with World Children’s Day which falls on October 1. President Rajapaksa summoned students from five schools on October 1 and donated five mobile libraries to motivate the next generation to read books. President symbolically donated five libraries to Anuruddha Central College, Lunuwila, Dolosbage Kanishta Vidyalaya, Gampola, Government Tamil Mixed School, Tharmapuram, Vijaya Kumaratunga Vidyalaya, Kuruwita and Pilana Vidyarthodaya Maha Vidyalaya, Galle.

No connection

Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that there is no connection between the relief and assistance provided by India to Sri Lanka and the amendments to the Constitution. The Minister also said that a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed during the recent virtual summit between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At a media briefing at the Government Information Department recently, Minister Rambukwella said Premier Rajapaksa had told the Indian Premier that at the last Presidential and General Elections the people of Sri Lanka had given an overwhelming mandate to the Government to serve all races equally and that an environment would be created for all races to work in unity and cooperation and was looking forward to the support of the Indian Government in this regard.

Spouses

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the future of those engaged in politics depends on the conduct of their spouses. “The wives of certain politicians are the reason for the downfall of their husbands,” said the Premier at a book launch at the BMICH.

A book titled ‘Elina Jayewardene’ authored by Sagarika Dissanayake was launched at the event attended by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President Maithripala Sirisena, family members of the Jayewardene family and invitees.

Premier Rajapaksa, commenting on the biography ‘Elina Jayewardene’ the wife of President J.R. Jayewardene, said many politicians fail due to the actions of their wives and they could learn from the life of Elina Jayewardene. “I got to know Elina Jayewardene when I was living in a house next to the Jayewardenes. She was a humble character. Launching a book on her life is timely and the book will help many, especially women.”

Responsibility for terror attacks

SJB Parliamentarian Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should take the responsibility for the terror attacks that claimed the lives of several hundred on Easter Sunday last year.

He told the media in Gampaha, that the other members of the Cabinet are not in a position to get involved in matters concerning national security. The Maithri-Ranil duo was in charge of steering matters on intelligence.

They must accordingly take the responsibility for national security failures. When asked the reason as to why, as an individual with extensive experience in the field of intelligence, he was not outspoken about the threats to national security, the Parliamentarian responded he was assigned to oversee the Ministry of Wildlife. Fonseka said that he had personally spoken to the officers handling issues related to national security, however, they had not paid any attention to his opinions.

20th Amendment

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the premiership will not be made to play a nominal role through the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Responding to the questions raised by heads of media institutions at a meeting on September 29, the Premier said that he stands by the Government’s stance on the 20th Amendment.

When asked about the committees appointed to study the 20th Amendment by the parties affiliated to the Government, the Prime Minister said, “Every party has a right to appoint committees in this regard. However, in the end, we will reach a unified agreement. The 20A was taken up for discussion during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers. I observed that the Opposition too has appointed a committee on the matter.”

Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the people’s mandate was given to them to abolish the 19th Amendment. “That is a short-term solution. The long-term solution will be bringing in a new Constitution.” Media heads then asked Premier Rajapaksa regarding a news report which claimed that he plans to retire from politics. To which, he responded in the negative.

Stone attack

A public meeting attended by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa at Ratmalana on September 30 was attacked with stones. The attack took place minutes after Premadasa began his speech. Bodyguards surrounded Premadasa as stones were hurled on the stage. Premadasa told the gathering, “Don’t panic. I will not leave this place despite the attack. I know who is behind the attack. I am not afraid of thugs. I am ready to face any challenge. I am not afraid.” Several leaders including former MP Hirunika Premachandra stood up when the stones came flying.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told the media that the Government would pass the 20A by 175 votes in Parliament with the support of 25 Opposition MPs. The Minister said the 20A would further strengthen the confidence placed in the President and the Prime Minister by the people.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha said the draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution is a policy decision of all parties which contested under the SLPP. He said that this constitutional draft has not gone beyond the powers of the basic structure of the 1978 Constitution and there is a possibility to make amendments to this draft, if needed.

He told the media after a recent meeting at the Teacher Education Development Centre in Kandy, that this draft constitutional amendment can be debated in Parliament and any member or party in the legislature can propose an amendment at the Committee Stage, after the Supreme Court determination with regard to the petitions filed against the 20th Amendment is made known.

Quitting politics

Former Non-cabinet Minister of the Yahapalana Government Sujeewa Senasinghe said on September 28 that he will quit politics. He has also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary. Senasinghe told the media that he plans to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January next year.

He unsuccessfully contested the August 5 General Election from the Colombo district on the SJB ticket. Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

Reforms in education

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa participating in the World Children’s Day national celebration at the ‘Ape Gama’ premises on Friday, October 2, said the country urgently needs educational reforms that will enable children to enjoy freedom and happiness.

The Premier said that educational reforms would affect the future of the country more than Constitutional reforms. “No matter how much of our national income is allocated for education, it is of no use if children do not have the freedom to study.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that the era of rebuilding the country has dawned and we must ensure that from the turmeric plants growing in our backyard to the uniform materials worn by students, are all produced locally.

Premier Rajapaksa said, “I am very happy that this event for children at such a location on World Children’s Day gives them the opportunity to appreciate our culture rather than a lecture in a hall. I also appreciate the efforts by our Minister to enable these children to showcase their aesthetic abilities. I can see that there are children here of all races and religions and this is something I am very pleased to see,” he said.

PCoI

Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday attacks, said that former President Maithripala Sirisena tried to escape responsibility while former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and myself were apportioned blame for the Easter Sunday attacks.

“Former President Maithripala Sirisena was preparing to contest the next Presidential Election for the second time but as the attacks would have affected his chances of running for the Presidency again, the responsibility for the attacks was put on us,” he alleged.

The former Defence Secretary said that the intelligence services had been weakened since the ‘Yahapalana’ Government came to power and that the State intelligence had not found any intelligence regarding the Easter attacks until the attack, adding that both reports that the intelligence which was forwarded by the State Intelligence Service were based on information received from abroad.

“There was a rift between me and the former President Maithripala Sirisena. Some political groups had conspired to create a rift between me and the former President. Later the rift between us widened. The main reason for this was politics,” he said.

No insane people in Govt.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa said that he believes that there are no insane people in the Government to accommodate Rishad Bathiudeen in their ranks. Nobody can deny the right of Opposition politicians to attend State functions and any discussions or dialogues with them is merely on routine matters. Minister Weerawansa told journalists after a ceremony that Bathiudeen’s presence at the function at Vavuniya District Secretariat is no indication at all of his joining the Government. The Minister said, “This is the Government which we have laboured to form and if he comes we will unceremoniously chase him out.”

Boost for local textiles

Local textile manufacturers have hailed the decision by the President and the Cabinet to purchase materials needed for school uniforms and the tri forces uniforms from local manufacturers.

The Local Textile Manufacturers Association is of the view that this decision by the Government with the intervention of Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa would pave the way to boost the local textile industry.

On September 28 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accompanied by Minister Wimal Weerawansa made an inspection tour of the Dankotuwa Textile Mill in Dankotuwa, Vanguard Industrial Ltd, Kandana and Creative Textile Mill, Wattala.

The President during his inspection said that he is exploring the possibility of assigning a large percentage of the supply of school and security forces uniform material to local industrialists. He said that it is imperative to commence the production of standard and high quality textiles immediately.

He motivated the managerial level staff to recommence apparel production and requested them to figure out a plan for self-employed entrepreneurs to contribute to the demand for school uniforms. “We can reduce import cost by 68 percent if we boost local textile production.”

It was also revealed that with the purchase of local garments, the Ministry of Education could save up to Rs. 80 million annually. The President also drew attention to the issues raised by the local political authority and the people regarding the Dankotuwa Industrial Estate.

Schools and politics

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said that politics needs to be distanced from schools. He said that while politicians or members of political parties can attend functions organised by schools, “It is not good to lay a hand on the independence of schools.”

At an event at St. Sebastian’s College in Kandana, he said, “The school is a sacred place that shapes the life of a child. It is a place where children spend 7-8 hours a day.” Therefore, parents, elders and teachers have a sacred responsibility to help children become individuals who care about society and are beneficial to the nation and shed light on the lives of others.

Day of protest

The SJB has decided to declare October 5 as a day of protest against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara told the media that protests would be carried out in all districts on that day by hoisting black flags and wearing black bands.

He also said that people from all constituencies in Sri Lanka will be brought to Colombo on October 8 and a massive protest campaign will be launched at Hyde Park. Madduma Bandara said that all political parties, trade unions and civil society organisations that value democracy will get together to carry out the protest.??

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