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Friday August 12th, 2022

Mahinda raises controversial Anti-Conversion Bill issue

Mahinda Rajapaksa on the campaign trail

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is driving the governing party’s Parliamentary Election campaign and at the outset has taken a hard right turn.

He has also revived the discussion over the controversial anti-conversion Bill.

In the week preceding the dissolution of Parliament which happened at mid-night Monday, Rajapaksa has been seen with dozens of leading Buddhist Monks, offering them gifts and alms and on occasion appointments and honors.

Rajapaksa has been and is the undisputed political leader for the Right-wing Sinhala Buddhist community in the island and this opening period of the campaign is being spent shoring up that base.

One of the most important speeches that he made in the week that preceded the declaration of the elections was at the Annual Convention of the All Ceylon Buddhist Councils (සමස්ත ලංකා ශාසනාරක්ෂක මණ්ඩල සමුළුව).

It is a network of 324 Councils around the country responsible for running Buddhist Dhamma schools and disbursing funds for various charities and were set up during British Colonial times in 1895.

They were run on volunteer contributions until 1956 when they were granted state funds.

In his speech the Prime Minister identified the “threats facing the Sinhala Buddhist Nation,” reinforcing the notion that he is the protector.

The major threats he said was the introduction of narcotic drugs to school children and the other, the conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions.”

He said he attended a wedding of a friend recently where the family which had been Buddhists for generations had converted to another religion which he did not name.

In a video widely circulated on Social Media of that speech, he also refers to “a Bill that was brought to Parliament that you have been talking about.”

It was a hint at the controversial Anti-Conversion Bill which was proposed in 2006 and has been struck down by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa told the audience that if that Bill is revived it must “have the support of all quarters. There are many that oppose it and that is why we don’t want to touch it. If you want it you must bring it forward unanimously otherwise it will be my neck on the line.” (සියළු දෙනාගේම කැමැත්ත ඇතුව ඉදිරපත් කරන්න …… නැත්තම් මගේ බෙල්ල තමයි  අහුවෙන්නේ)

This particular remark was not included in the official text version of the speech released to media, but was reported by Swarnavahini news. A clip of that apparently off-the-cuff remark is being shared widely on social media. The particular newscast that of February 26 is no longer available on the Swarnavahini.lk website.

Tatyana Rajapaksa walking into St Mary’s Bambalapitiya on the arm of her father Jerome Jayaratne for her wedding/Facebook.com

Rajapaksa’s own family is multi-religious. His wife Shiranthi is a practising Roman Catholic and one of his sons, Rohitha, is married to a Christian, Tatyana Lee Jayaratne. The couple went through several wedding ceremonies including a full Mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Bambalapitiya.  

Comments (3)

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  1. Hariharan says:

    You are living in a glass house, be careful what you throw from inside!!

    1. vijaya fernando says:

      Mr Galgamuwa you are perfectly correct. To describe a country as Singhalese Buddhist is attributing a religion to someone depending on where and to whom that person is born. If that is correct, that means at any one time,for example in this decade 19 million humans have the peculiar responsibility of preserving a religion for 7.5 billion people. How ridiculous!
      I could have been born to a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian a Jain in the UK , Italy India or Sri Lanka.

  2. Dinesh Galgamuwa says:

    Religion or belief is someone’s own preference or freedom. Do not touch it. If someone is imposing another belief by force, then it’s wrong and action must be taken. If not its up to the individual to choose.. Also if PM is bringing this Bill by being unfair to someone’s faith or religion, and it’s also for personal /political gain , of course the Wrath of the God and lamentations of the believers would be upon him or whoever that supports it. So please be very careful with these sensitive issues. Even the innocents would have to pay for these…

View all comments (3)

Comments (3)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Hariharan says:

    You are living in a glass house, be careful what you throw from inside!!

    1. vijaya fernando says:

      Mr Galgamuwa you are perfectly correct. To describe a country as Singhalese Buddhist is attributing a religion to someone depending on where and to whom that person is born. If that is correct, that means at any one time,for example in this decade 19 million humans have the peculiar responsibility of preserving a religion for 7.5 billion people. How ridiculous!
      I could have been born to a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian a Jain in the UK , Italy India or Sri Lanka.

  2. Dinesh Galgamuwa says:

    Religion or belief is someone’s own preference or freedom. Do not touch it. If someone is imposing another belief by force, then it’s wrong and action must be taken. If not its up to the individual to choose.. Also if PM is bringing this Bill by being unfair to someone’s faith or religion, and it’s also for personal /political gain , of course the Wrath of the God and lamentations of the believers would be upon him or whoever that supports it. So please be very careful with these sensitive issues. Even the innocents would have to pay for these…

Sri Lanka cancels visa of Scotswoman who documented anti-govt protests

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration has cancelled the visa of Kayleigh Fraser, a Scotswoman who had been documenting the country’s anti-government protests on social media.

Immigration officers had approached Fraser at her home on August 02 and confiscated her passport.

“This is what will happen if you raise your voice against state violence in Sri Lanka,” Fraser wrote on Wednesday August 10, posting a letter ordering her to leave the country by August 15.

“I am proud to have been a part of this. I am proud to have met so many of you. I have… so many social enterprises I want to work on here that I know will benefit so many,” Fraser said on Instagram.

“Deporting me is a massive, massive mistake for this country. The love I have for it and its people appears to be a threat to the current rulers. Does that sound right to you?”

Fraser posted that she was not prepared for the financial cost of flights and relocation, and that all her funds were in Sri Lankan currency, and that banks were not allowing foreign transactions.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa had told a privately owned news organisation that Fraser was sharing “negative content” about Sri Lanka via her social media.

“It is not right for a foreign national to be in our country and share such mass negative content. She is not a media personnel either, to cover the protests and GotaGoGama,” he has said.

Fraser has been vocal about state sanctioned violence against protestors.

News of Fraser’s deportation has caused a small riot on social media, with many protestors voicing out their support for the foreigner who documented and showed support next to them.

Seemingly indiscriminate arrests of protestors aided by an ongoing State of Emergency have both angered and frightened Sri Lankan protestors, and many active protestors have gone into hiding to evade arrest.

Some protestors said they were “taking a break” or “distancing themselves” due to continued harassment.

However, the authorities maintain that all arrests are in accordance with the law. The government has pointed to acts of retaliatory mob violence on May 09 and the forced occupation of government buildings by protestors on July 09.

“They are calling us terrorists for holding placards. This was such a peaceful protest, the only terrorism carried out was by the government against the people,” said an active protestor, who preferred not to be named.

Fraser wrote that Sri Lankans should not forget that they got to the streets for a system change.

“Live in such a way that your children will thank you for the world they inherit,” she said.

“It’s not over till it’s over. I have an unbelievable amount of high profile people fighting this order for me to leave.”(Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka to acquire 35,000MT of petrol; unloading on Aug 12

ECONOMYNEXT-  Sri Lanka to receive a cargo of 35,000 metric tonns of petrol on Thursday August 11 with unloading scheduled for Friday, Minister of Power & Energy Kanchana Wijesekara said.

Wijesekara tweeted that the ship will arrive at the Colombo port Thursday night, and that the payment for the cargo had been completed with the support of the Central Bank by Wednesday.

The minister had said earlier on Wednesday that a separate cargo of crude oil is also expected on Saturday August 13, and from August 19 onwards, locally produced fuel is expected to be released to the market from the Sapugaskanda refinery.

Meanwhile, in an earlier report, Lanka IOC, a local unit of the Indian Oil Corporation (OIC), said a vessel carrying 30,000 metric tons of fuel for LIOC is scheduled to arrive between August 10 and 15.

Related: Three shipments of fuel to arrive in Sri Lanka by mid, end July, August: Lanka IOC

Meanwhile, Wijesekara said that 5.7 million people have signed up for the QR-code facilitated National Fuel Pass.

From July 21 up to now, Wijesekara said, a total of 54.9 million litres of fuel had been sold through 1,053 CPC fuel stations while 207 LIOC stations have sold 11.26 million litres of fuel. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

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MPs nominated to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary committee on public finance

The sun sets over the Parliament at Shri Jayewardenepura

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament has appointed members to its Committee on Public Finance, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said.

According to his announcement made in parliament on Wednesday August 10, in terms of the provisions of the Standing Order 121 of Parliament, MPs Bandula Gunawardana,  Vidura Wickramanayaka,  Nalin Fernando,  Anura Priyadharshana Yapa,  Vijitha Herath,  Duminda Dissanayake,  Shehan Semasinghe,  Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and Harsha de Silva have been appointed.

Indika Anuruddha Herath,  Siripala Gamalath, Seetha Arambepola, Suren Raghavan,  M A Sumanthiran,   Kavinda Heshan Jayawardhana,  Mujibur Rahuman,  Harshana Rajakaruna,  Chaminda Wijesiri,  Isuru Dodangoda,  Anupa Pasqual and  (Prof) Ranjith Bandara also have been appointed to serve as members in the Committee on Public Finance.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled a proposed framework during his time as Prime Minister under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for sectoral oversight committees in parliament with the objective of increased bipartisan parliamentary involvement in governance and policy-making.

Wickremesinghe told parliament on July 06 that under such a system, the entire parliament irrespective of party difference will participate in governance.

On July 06, he said he had approached former Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayauriya to formulate a proposal on activating the sectoral oversight committees.

Sectoral Oversight Committees shall function for the duration of Parliament and conduct its inquiries notwithstanding any adjournment or prorogation of Parliament, according to the parliament website.

The Committee of Selection shall determine the subjects and functions to be allocated to each Sectoral Oversight Committee.

The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall have the power to examine any Bill, any subsidiary legislation including Regulation, Resolution, Treaty, Report or any other matter relating to subjects and functions within their jurisdiction.

The Parliament, any Committee or a Minister may refer any matter to a Sectoral Oversight Committee having jurisdiction over the subject or function for its consideration and report. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

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