We have no plans to shift Galle cricket Ground: Minister Sagala Ratnayaka

The country should decide as to whether the Galle Fort could be preserved as a world heritage or allow the illegal Rajapaksa Pavilion to remain, Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday. He also said the government would give its decision on the illegal pavilion within the next two weeks. A ministerial committee has been appointed to look into the matter and it would give its recommendations after the next two weeks. The ministerial committee comprises Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister Sagala Ratnayaka and Minister Faizer Musthapha.

Minister Rajapakshe said the Galle International Ground is not to be shifted or removed. He assured that only the illegal constructions at the ground should be removed as necessary. “There have been many private owned and state owned illegal constructions at the Galle International Ground. Most of the privately owned ones have been removed. The construction concerned is the Rajapaksa Pavilion. In 2004, the Master Plan to develop Galle after the Tsunami, suggested that the ground be shifted to Koggala. However it was not implemented.”

Minister Rajapakshe said that three of the eight world heritages in Sri Lanka are at risk of being taken out from the world heritages list. “The heritage which is at an immediate risk, is the Galle Fort. Then there is the Dambulla Temple and the Sinharaja forest. UNESCO has questioned on the deforestation occurring in the Sinharaja forest. We are already looking into the Dambulla issue. There is a set of rules and regulations that we have to adhere to, concerning a world heritage. If we do not, we would be taken off the list.”

“UNESCO had not changed its standpoint over the issue as per their communiques we have received from them in the recent times. We have been asked to inform UNESCO within two weeks of our stand over the issue. A report is being prepared. Upon its receipt of that report, we would announce the government’s position concerning the matter. Constructing a new cricket stadium in Koggala is timely. In case of the issue in Galle, it is our intention to continue to play cricket in the Galle Stadium, while protecting the national monument of Galle Fort by removing unauthorized constructions,” Minister Rajapakshe said.

Minister Rajapakshe refused the then Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge’s claim that UNESCO initially agreed with setting up the pavilion.

Meanwhile, Sport Minister Faizer Musthapha said that the Galle International Cricket Stadium issue had now turned into a political football. He said that certain politicians are using the matter as a political stage to fulfill their own agendas. He requested everyone to think about the well being of Sri Lanka’s Cricket Team, which is performing well these days and not to use the Galle International Ground as a scapegoat.

“We should protect our national heritage and in this case, the site is known as a world heritage site too. The Ministry appointed a committee to study the issue. On the other hand, our national team has played well on this ground. We should come to a favourable decision concerning national interests,” Minister Musthapha said.

Southern Province Development and Youth Affairs Minister Sagala Ratnayaka too rose to speak. He said that there was no such plan to shift the Galle International Cricket Stadium from its present location.

“We would not shift the stadium, but we should look as to how we should remove some recent constructions and buildings which threaten the monument. We have a plan to build an international cricket ground in Koggala, but as a government, we do not have any plans to shift the Galle International grounds,” Minister Ratnayaka said.

Petroleum Resources Development Minister Arjuna Ranatunga put forward his point of view on the matter. “There were several issues related to this ground from day one. However, we got most of them resolved. When this illegal construction was to be set up, we warned against it. But some persons from Galle and who were attached to the Sri Lanka Cricket Board, went on with the project and set this pavilion up. What people such as these, usually do is to spend half the money for the project and pocket the rest of the funds. When this pavilion was to be removed, they went and stuck Mahinda Rajapaksa’s name on it. So at the end, the pavilion was not removed. I am sure we can get this problem solved with high technology that allows setting up pavilions within 48 hours,” Minister Ranatunga said.


Bills presented to House on legislation for discipline against Buddhist monks

Legislation on Buddhist monks’ discipline was a long standing request of the Chief Prelates and disciplined and scholarly Buddhist monks, said Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

He said the Buddhist Temporalities (Amendment) Bill and Theravadi Bhikku Kathikawath (Registration) Bill, was presented to Parliament after a thorough discussion with the Chief Prelates and all other stakeholders.

He made these observation with reference to recent remarks by Ven. Medagoda Abhayatissa thera, who asked the MPs to object to the above two Bills. The minister pointed out that the two Bills were a long standing request of the Buddhist monks and they were drafted with the guidance of the Mahanayake and Anunayake theras.

“Two weeks ago, a Buddhist monk had allegedly strangled a Police Sergeant to death. It was reported yesterday, that a monk who was a University fresher, was beaten by several other monks. The Chief Prelates and other learned and disciplined Buddhist monks wished that this negative trend be arrested, while it was with their blessings that we drafted legislation. Discussions concerning them dates back to 1956. Anybody who objects to this move would be committing a great sin,” the Minister said.


For having paid money to five British MPs

Ministers, MPs call for special probe on ex-Rajapaksa regime

Several Government Ministers and MPs yesterday, urged for a special investigation on the previous Rajapaksa regime for having paid money to five British MPs including MP Ian Paisley. State Minister Harsha de Silva alleged that it had been revealed that another British MP was paid by the ex-Rajapaksa regime. “This MP has apparently visited Sri Lanka on nine occasions within a period of two months. According to reports, the ex-regime had paid five MPs in the same manner. Paisley has admitted that he has accepted the said money. Some reports say that he had been paid 100,000 in Sterling Pounds.”

State Minister Niroshan Perera joining the debate, said an investigation in reference to the incident should be held immediately, to find out how this money was paid and by whom. UNP MP Mujiber Rahuman also demanded the Foreign Ministry to conduct an investigation with regard to the matter.

It was also pointed out that the former Ambassador to Great Britain Chris Nonis and then Minister G. L. Peiris should also be questioned in this regard.

Meanwhile, JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake said that the Consultative Committee of Foreign Affairs had been directed to conduct an investigation into the scandal.


Akila to probe Sab. PC’s attempt to mislead House

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam yesterday, assured that he would commence an inquiry into whether the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council had attempted to mislead Parliament by providing false records concerning schools in the area.

He made this observation following a complaint made by UNP MP Heshan Vithanage.

Vithanage in an oral question, asked Kariyawasam the names of schools which commenced anew since the present Chief Minister of the Province took office. Following the Minister’s reply, Vithanage moved to say that, “I know the minister provides us the information he received from the Provincial Council. So I don’t blame him for this.

But I have a serious doubt about the list Kariyawasam presented. He told that the Amitiyagoda Primary School had commenced anew. The truth is that this particular school does not exist. It had been closed down. Therefore, this list of schools could not be trusted as accurate.”


British MP suspended due to using Sri Lanka money for personal use:Dr. Wijeyadasa

British Parliament has imposed a suspension on British MP Ian Paisley not because he had acted in support of Sri Lanka, but because he had used money paid by the Government of Sri Lanka for his personal use, Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Minister Rajapakshe pointed out that disciplinary action had been taken against Paisley because he had violated the rules, regulations and standards of the British Parliament.

Minister Rajapakshe pointed out that certain false media reports have implied that his 30 days suspension was imposed because he had acted in support of Sri Lanka. Such false reporting may negatively influence the diplomatic relations of the two countries, Minister Rajapakshe observed. When Parliamentarians keep recurring the same false story, it will tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Parliament, he further said.

MPs should act with responsibility when making statements on sensitive matters such as these, Minister Rajapakshe said. He pointed out that British MPs are allowed to represent other countries.

Media institutes should also act with responsibility when reporting on matters such as these, without damaging diplomatic relations and dishonouring the reputation of the country, Minister Rajapakshe further added.


Without solidifying proper mechanism to detect crime:

Capital punishment would not bring any positive outcome: Dr. Jayampathy

Enacting capital punishment without solidifying a proper mechanism to detect crimes would not bring any positive outcome to the country, said United National Party (UNP) National List MP Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne yesterday (20), in Parliament.

Opening the debate on the Bribery (Amendment) Bill, Dr. Wickramaratne, said that punishment is the final step of the judicial procedure.

“Everyone is talking about capital punishment these days. Before meteing a punishment, there are several important steps which should be followed. We talk about punishment, but do not have enough evidence on what had happened before. People say that all Prison officials help drug dealers in prisons. But that is not true,” Dr. Wickremeratne said.

He further said that “Prisons lack the technology to prevent crimes which coordinate from inside prisons. For example, there is no proper mobile signal jamming system at the Welikada Prison. Behind the prison premise there is a communication tower. When Prison authorities try to jam signals, the general public outside too have to face difficulties. So they oppose it. That jamming system is only for a particular network. Other networks are operating inside prison without any hurdle. Remand and Magazine Prisons in Colombo where the most notorious criminals and underworld leaders are kept, don’t have any jamming system at all.”

Dr. Wickramaratna pointed out that there are technical systems in the world which completely disconnect electronic devises. These systems should be installed in Sri Lankan Prisons as well.

Apart from that, I have heard that some prisoners hide mobile phones in their bodies. But there is not system to detect them. Airports possess 360 decree scanning systems to detect such things hidden in their bodies. Such implements should be provided to prisons too, he pointed out.


Party Leaders agree to hold PC election on December 23

Party Leaders’s have agreed to schedule Provincial Council elections on December 23, 2018 or January 5, 2019, as Parliament could arrive at an agreement before on matters relating to elections before the end of October.

The Party Leaders’ Committee would meet next Thursday (26), to come to a final decision on holding Provincial Council Elections. These conclusions arrived yesterday, at a special Party Leaders’ committee meeting held under the headship of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had appointed a review committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, with regard to holding Provincial Council Elections. The review committee includes Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, Minister Rauf Hakeem, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya and Delimitation Commission Chairman K. Thawalingam. The committee was appointed under the provisions of Section 3 (A)/12 of the Provincial Council Elections Act No. 17 of 2017.

It had been observed at the committee, that a decision on holding Provincial Council Elections should be arrived at as early as possible in order to strengthen the country’s democracy. According to Parliamentary sources, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who chaired the meeting, mentioned that most of the people and civil society organizations had pointed out that they want their representatives to be selected beyond the preferential voting method. However, the citizenry would never approve if the number of councilors increase unnecessarily, the Speaker noted.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader R. Sampantha, Local Government and Provincial Council Minister Faiszer Musthapha, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister Malik Samarawickreme, MP Dinesh Gunawardena, EPDP leader Douglas Devananda, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissnayake and MP Amir Ali, representing Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, participated in the meeting. The Chairman of the Election Commission, the Attorney General, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and other senior officers were present at the meeting as well.

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